He slumped against the wire binding and the metal chaffed his skin drawing blood. He shivered as the draught skittered under the door of the barn, prowled around his feet and gagged on his own stench and vomited a thin dribble of bile. The spasms stopped and he heard the scuffling footsteps in the yard outside and the heavy grating of the barn door as it dragged across the stone. Thick fingers grabbed his hair and wrenched his head back and a voice whispered with the crispness of dead leaves. "Still with us?"
The pain flared as a thick leather glove wrapped with barbed wire punched him in the face. The agony dulled and he went limp, his mind on the edge and his breath ghostly and shallow. A grimy thumb peeled back an eyelid and showed the whites before he passed out and pissed himself.
"Cut him loose."
Pliers cut the wire and limp as a rag doll he fell to the floor where they dressed him in old jeans and tee shirt and dragged him outside. His nostrils twitched at the stink of cigarette, stale body odour and old after shave. He hung loosely as they hauled him across the yard and through a gate and dumped him on the grass and he curled into a foetal ball. He heard engines and rotors. Loose stones and vegetation were whipped and hurled around by the downdraught as he was hauled into the cabin and the helicopter clawed its way off the ground and moved off, skulking across the landscape. Later he was manhandled again and pushed out, tumbling through the darkness and the scream rising in his throat was smashed from his body as he hit the ground and then nothing. Darkness inside his head was like the night that lay across the mountains under a moonless sky and a thin dusting of cloud veiled the pale light of the stars. He rolled into a shallow ditch where a trickle of water lapped against his face. Hours later cold grey daylight unrolled across the landscape with a faint overcast and mist lingered in the hollows soaking his clothes. Exposed to the elements he lay in the ditch while his tongue sought out the water and lapped it up. The sun burned as it climbed over the hills and he shivered through the night to a second morning....
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