Putting meat on the bones

Edits and additions from this post.  I put some meat on those bare bones but I still don’t know if Lady Penelope lives or dies! The prompt is again in blue. Feedback is very welcome.

“As one of the hundreds of people who have tried to kill you at one time or another, I can attest to your tenacious refusal to die, milady.”

The Hood circled the metal table where Lady Penelope lay, stripped of all but her stiff upper lip. Stout leather manacles pinned her to the table’s surface so she could neither move nor rise. A bank of overhead lights illuminated her alabaster skin, which showed ugly bruises of every color, while their brightness kept her from fully opening her eyes. Even opening her eyes a crack was futile; beyond their brightness, the rest of the room was is deep shadow. Her golden hair lay tangled and awry and she shivered slightly in the dank warehouse room. Only her beautiful model’s face remained untouched.

He stopped near her head, coming near enough to run a taloned finger down the side of her face. The tight straps holding her head and neck still did not allow her to turn her face away.

“This time is different,” he whispered seductively.

Stepping back, he indicated the IV bags hung on poles beside the table. “I have finally read that manual, the one meant to instruct a villain on how to come out on top.” Chuckling, he circled the table, passing above her head to end up on the other side. “A highly informative read, I must say. I recognized many of my own flaws in its pages. In fact, I threw it across the room several times before I saw the wisdom in it.”

“I didn’t know you could read.” Lady Penelope’s voice was perfectly calm, her expression, serene.

The Hood refused to rise to the bait. “Indeed. I thought you had better intelligence concerning my humble self.” He waved a hand, dismissive. “No matter.”

Nodding to someone else in the room, he continued his stroll down the table, running a finger down one bare leg, enjoying her shivering response. Two lackeys wearing goggles and surgical coveralls appeared at her side. He stopped at her feet, watching intently as his underlings hooked up the IV bags and attached various medical leads to his victim’s chest and temples.

“In these bags are poisons of my own design. Untraceable, they deliver the most exquisite pain that builds to a crescendo so strong, it crosses the line between pain and pleasure, bringing on an almost orgasmic climax that lasts a full quarter hour.” Here he stopped, a sly smile crossing his wide, brutish face. “Your manservant, Parker, begged me to spare you this before he died.”

She was unable to stifle a gasp at the mention of Parker, who she hoped had gotten safely away. The sly smile grew wider at the involuntary sound.

“Oh, yes. His loyalty was his undoing, you know. He couldn’t wait for reinforcements. Very predictable of him. The Tracys will find his body at my previous hide away.” He traced a bloody slice inside Penelope’s left ankle. “They will also find the tracker you had implanted last time you visited their island.”

By the time this exchange finished, the IVs were ready. The medical monitors, swathed in clear, protective plastic sheeting, were beeping along in a rhythm just a touch too fast to a trained ear. One of the technicians nodded at the Hood, who dismissed her and her companion with a wave.

“Take up your positions outside.”

Penelope, who had been trying to communicate with her panicked eyes, now called, “NO! Don’t leave me alone with him! Please! For God’s sake, don’t go!” Neither of them looked back as they picked up assault rifles and opened the door.

The Hood fingered the valve which would start the poisons flowing. “Once I turn this knob, there is no going back. Your death will be lingering, exquisite, and sure. There are no antidotes or counteragents.”

“What. Do. You. Want?” Penelope ground out between clenched teeth.

“My want is simple, milady.” He ran his finger down her cheek again. “I want revenge. Nothing more.”

She glanced at his fingers, still playing lightly with the valve. “Then I suppose you know the location of Tracy Island?”

He shook his head, his face gazing down her with a beatific expression. “I do not need it. Not anymore. Parker gave that gift to me as he lay dying. For you, my dear Milady, there is only death.”

Penelope took in a deep, shuddering breath to compose herself. She passed a tongue over her dry lips. When she next spoke, her voice was cold and steely. “You will never prevail, Belah Gaat. International Rescue will thwart you, as they always have.” The mask slipped a little and her voice softened. “You could at least allow a lady some dignity in death. A cover of some sort, perhaps?”

Gaat laughed aloud and clapped his hands, spinning away from the table momentarily. “Defiant to the end! I have always admired your aplomb, Milady, even in the face of certain death.” He rushed back to the table, putting his fingers again on the pertinent valve, leaning over to look her in the eye. “As for a cover, my dear, I fear I must decline your request. I wish to see every spasm, every muscular cramp for myself.” The smile he favored her with was shark-like in the extreme. “And, on the advice of that interesting manual, I will see it. I will remain here to watch you die.”

Her eyes were fixed on his as he spoke, therefore she missed the moment when he turned the valve and started the drip.

Someone else, however, noticed. From the shadows on the far side of the room, a rifle spat bullets. The Hood was thrown violently backwards, blood blossoming to stain his black, Nehru-style jacket. At least one found the center of his head; blood and brain matter spattered the wall against which he came to rest. His lifeless body slid down and flopped to one side.

“Hurry, Tin-Tin!” cried one of the lackeys as he pulled back the coverall’s hood and moved to make sure Belah Gaat was dead.

The female hurried to Lady Penelope’s side. As she ripped the IV line from the aristocrat’s vein, she kept saying, nearly sobbing, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry, Lady Penelope!”

The other lackey, now revealed to be Gordon Tracy, pulled up on the opposite side of the table and began working on the leather straps. After a frustrating moment and a few curses, he pulled out a hefty, wide bladed knife and began to cut. “We were waiting for him to leave,” he explained, freeing Penny’s left hand. “But when he said he wasn’t going to, well, we had to act.”

“I am so terribly glad you did, dear boy.” Penny relaxed, closing her eyes fully against the light. “Tin-Tin, my dear, I quite forgive you. I understand totally; you needed to make your subterfuge look realistic.” She smiled slightly. “However did you find me? The Hood cut my transmitter out of my flesh.”

Tin-Tin smiled as she bandaged Penelope’s hand. “The trackers you put on the vehicles in that car park. It took John some time to figure out which car you’d been carried off in, but once he had, Scott followed it overhead in Thunderbird One. Alan worked out where it was eventually heading; the Hood’s shell company owned both places.”

“And Parker?”

Tin-Tin’s smile faded. “I’m … I’m so sorry, Lady Penelope. Virgil stayed behind to clean up and help Brains find an antidote to the poison used on him.”

Penelope swallowed and sighed. Her fingers reached out to touch Tin-Tin’s. “I thank you for your sympathy. I will miss old Nosey very much.”

Gordon had just cut through the strap at Penelope’s shoulders when she drew in a deep gasping breath. Her eyes widened despite the overhead lights; she stiffened and clenched her hands.

“What is it?” He stopped, looking at her face quizzically, studiously avoiding anything but that now taut face.

“I believe,” she replied, her voice tight, “some of the Hood’s venom made it past the needle.”

 

Article by Tikatu

Tikatu is the long-time alter-ego of L.D. Bennett. She enjoys cat naps, head bumps, and regaling the world with the further adventures of International Rescue.