* * * *
The muffled pistol shot made Henry Jekyll start.
For a split second he was in another place, another time, the sound of a pistol shot echoing through his mind, accompanied by knowledge that he had been pointing the gun at himself. And then it was gone again.
Jekyll grasped the arms of the chair to which he had been chained, knuckles whitening as he tugged at the wood, biting his lip against the pain as the metal cuffs bit into the sparse flesh of his wrists.
His pulse leapt, his mind awash with questions. Who had fired the gun? Who had been shot? Was this the first sign of a rescue attempt? Or was it the first execution?
He cursed the moment Hercules Quicksilver had ever taken him from the facility in Edinburgh.
He pulled frantically at the chains securing him again, blinking tears of fear from his eyes as a whimper of desperation escaped his lips. If only…
No! He stopped himself with a thought; he couldn’t allow himself to think like that. After all, as he knew all too well, that way madness lay.
The sudden bang of the basement door opening made him start all over again.
Standing in the open doorway was the crow-like silhouette of the man who had had Jekyll and the unconscious Quicksilver brought here; the one the soldiers had addressed as Herr Kaufman.
“So.” Kaufman peered at Jekyll through his glasses with a hungry, hawkish stare. “Doctor Jekyll, wasn’t it?”
The man’s English was good but spoken with an unmistakeable guttural accent.
Jekyll made another feeble attempt to free himself from his bonds.
“Planning on going somewhere?” the German mocked him, pulling up another chair and sitting down.
“I warn you,” Jekyll said, his breathing fast and shallow, his heart pounding in fear now, “you don’t want to make me angry.” His warning had sounded less assured than he might have hoped.
“Angry?” Kaufman said, his bloodless lips stretching into a thin smile. “You’re not angry, doctor. You’re terrified. I can almost smell your fear, or have you just soiled yourself?”
The slap came out of nowhere. Jekyll reeled from the blow, shocked into inaction.
“How are you feeling now?” Kaufman asked and hit him again. And again.
“How about now?”
A fourth time.
The agent opened his mouth, ready with another goading comment, but then hesitated, brows knitting, as he thought he caught a flash of green fire in the black pits of the doctor’s pupils. It seemed to Kaufman that the temperature in the cellar had suddenly dropped and there was a frisson of some untold power in the air.
When Jekyll spoke again his voice was like steel and had dropped an octave.
“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,” he growled as emerald lighting crackled across his eyeballs.
* * * *