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Jarod tried to roll his shoulders to relieve the pressure, but there was very little give in his restraints. He was naked; lying on the floor with each hand was cuffed to the corresponding ankle. And, as a further indignity, he was shackled to the wall by a chain and collar attached around his neck. Overall, he felt like the animal they treated him as.
His gut clenched in anguish as he relived his capture. He had been quietly enjoying a donut in a Dover park when he was grabbed by his dark nemesis, Willie. Two hours later, he was stripped, chained, and locked away in the bottom of the world. He shuddered as his SIMed his future at Raines’ hands. His mind raced as he explored his possibilities.
Thirty-six hours later, Raines was meeting with the Triumvirate.
“Gentleman, I …would like to ….present…. proof of my ability…to succeed… as Chairman. I…. have accomplished something… that has only… been done… one other time since 1996…. I have captured… the Pretender… and successfully… brought him back to… the Centre.”
He leaned forward and pressed the intercom button.
“Willie, bring him in.”
“Ah, sir, can I see you in your office first?”
Raines grabbed the telephone and hissed into the mouthpiece.
“You better not… be telling me…. he’s escaped… again, Willie!”
“No, sir, he’s still here. Well…”
“Bring him in ….here, now, Willie,” Raines interrupted.
“Yes, sir. On our way.”
Raines looked over at Big Mutumbo and smiled.
“Willie… is bringing him… in now.”
Just then, the door opened and a pale, almost grey colored Willie entered with the Pretender at his heels. Literally. Jarod was on all fours and was being pulled into the room by the leash and collar around his neck. He was whimpering deep in his throat and drool was oozing slowly out of the corners of his mouth. They stopped in the middle of the room and Willie dropped his end of the leash.
“What is the meaning of this, Raines?” demanded Mutumbo.
Raines was cut short by the sight of Jarod scootching along the floor, scratching his butt. Raines’ eyes widened and he gave a low groan. The bright future he had envisioned five short minutes ago was going up in smoke. He glanced over at Willie, who was looking on helplessly.
“I, um, I think he is pretending to be a dog.” Willie volunteered hesitantly.
Raines closed his eyes in horror, but the sound of clothes rustling quickly brought them open. Jarod was no longer in the middle of the room. Now he was over by Mutumbo’s leg. Raines’ eyes widened. Jarod was kneeling close, very close to Mutumbo’s leg.
‘Oh my God,’ Raines thought to himself, ‘he’s humping Mutumbo’s leg.’
‘I’m dead,’ he thought as he fought to tear his eyes away from the horrific sight before him.
Raines sat up with a shout. His heart was pounding and he was almost panting in the effort to get enough oxygen into his body. He looked around and couldn’t see anything but his bedroom.
‘It was all just a dream,’ he thought, thankfully. ‘Just a dream.’
The phone ringing diverted his attention and the welcome voice of Willie helped calm him. But then what Willie was saying penetrated and Raines felt his heart stutter.
“Sir, I think I found him. He’s eating a donut in a park in Dover.”