Sherdan paced as he listened to the radio chatter. His men were closing in on the woman but so far she had still not been captured. He had watched her dive out of shot when she had obviously heard the approaching guards but there wasn’t a camera in the room she had sought refuge in.

He sighed with relief when he heard the patrol’s report of her capture and demanded her brought to him.

“I want to know how she might have got in and have it prevented from ever happening again,” Sherdan yelled at the room. He went to his retreat and poured himself a brandy.

Glaring at the opposite wall, he waited for her to be brought before him. He was furious, both that the woman had eluded capture for so long and that she had somehow gained access to his facility in the first place. He wasn’t going to let her see his anger, however, as the last thing he wanted to let an enemy know was how well they had managed to pursue their goal.

For someone who appeared very under-prepared to overcome his defences she had got a long way into his compound. He knew his men were well trained.

While thinking this over Sherdan picked up a report he had left on the coffee table earlier and flicked to half-way through. He retrieved his favourite pen from it’s usual place and pretended to be making notes on the document as if it were of great importance.

This was how he looked a few minutes later when the patrol knocked on the far door. Sherdan bid them enter and watched, pen and paper still in hand, as the woman who had interrupted his evenings relaxation was marched into the room.

She shivered and waited with the black bag over her head. He briefly admired her figure. The skin-tight stretchy fabric of her top made full use of her athletic shape. The tips of her blond hair poked out of the bottom of the black bag which Sherdan finally let the men remove.

Anya blinked several times and squinted at him. Her shivering had stopped but she didn’t say a word and appeared to be calm in every other respect.

“Who are you?” Sherdan asked, breaking the silence. The four guards all stood waiting for their next commands.

“Who I am isn’t important,” she replied. He was impressed by her well spoken accent. There was a hint of the Somerset lilt in her voice but it was mostly as upper-class as his own accent.

“I do think it’s important and I need you to tell me.”

“Why I am here is more important.” She stepped towards him. “Are you Sherdan Harper?” He nodded but didn’t speak.

“Then I would like to see the prophecy you have.”

Sherdan blinked, but it was the only outward sign of shock he gave. No one but Dr Hitchin and himself knew about the prophecy.

“My church have sent me to read it if you’ll allow it. We don’t think it’s wise of you to make plans for the end of the world and not include Christians, I mean it’s partly a Christian concept.”

Sherdan didn’t respond to this at first. The guards were all listening intently and he didn’t want them to know about the prophecy at all.

This girl, who refused to tell him her name, knew something she couldn’t possibly know. Yet all he knew about her was that she definitely wasn’t part of his program.

“I’m afraid you are very much mistaken about any kind of prophecy. I am not Christian and do not believe in any end of the world stories. Now if you don’t tell me your name and why you are really here I will have to resort to some less pleasant methods to find out the answers I want.”

“I can’t tell you my name and I have already said why I am here,” she replied without hesitating. It was like his threat had not been taken in at all. He didn’t really think she was lying but she obviously did not realise the level of danger she was in.

Sherdan couldn’t do anything to protect her without raising more suspicions from the already curious guards. He had no choice but to hand her over to his interrogation team. If she was as smart as she appeared to be by sneaking so far into his facility she would make up something much more plausible and give him something to work with.

“Take her away and interrogate her,” he said to the nearest man. Sherdan didn’t look at her but went straight back to his document and fake notes. They put the bag back over her face and removed her from both the room and his presence.

As soon as she was gone he shivered and decided to see if Hitchin was awake. They needed to talk. Sherdan needed a rational explanation for how she knew about the prophecy.

He left his refuge and made his way to Hitchin’s laboratory. If he was still up and about he would be working.

On his way Sherdan passed the exact spot where the girl had been captured but he didn’t note anything of importance. It astonished him how close to him she had come. She had to know something more than she was saying.

Hitchin wasn’t asleep yet and was checking something in his microscope in his lab and greeted Sherdan enthusiastically.

“Hello, Hitchin, how are you today?”

“Not bad, thank you. How are you though? You look like a bear with a sore head.” Hitchin looked at Sherdan over the top of his glasses and waved him towards a stool. Sherdan didn’t sit down.

“Not great. We just had a break in. I don’t think anyone but the security teams noticed but nonetheless we’ve had someone get past your defences.”

I assume they didn’t get far?” Hitchin seemed totally unphased by this news.

“They got further than I’d have liked but most worryingly they knew about the prophecy. They asked to see it. I denied it’s existence of course.”

“Of course, a wise move. Let’s face it, most cults have something prophetic they follow. He could have been any old crackpot who heard of us.”

“You didn’t tell anyone about the prophecy then?” Sherdan looked piercingly at Hitchin.

“Of course not. There is only one time I’ve mentioned it to anyone and it was only when I wrote it down and gave it to you. You have the only copy.” Hitchin didn’t look away or even blink.

Sherdan sat down and sighed. Hitchin didn’t hesitate in pouring them both a drink. Sherdan didn’t refuse the gesture nor when he was poured another straight after downing the first.

They continued to drink for several hours while Hitchin steered the conversation away from the intruder and everything else to do with her. Sherdan didn’t even correct him that it was a female rather than the male Hitchin had assumed it was.

When Sherdan finally left to go to his house and get some sleep they were laughing over the day they had first started their program. Sherdan himself had been the first subject, followed by Hitchin. Those had been good days.

It wasn’t until the walk back through the underground route to his house that Anya invaded Sherdan’s thoughts again. Normally he could forget about anyone not in his program with ease but something about her unsettled him.

When he arrived back in his study he went to pour a final brandy before sleeping. The fire had pretty much died down in the three hours since he had left it. He didn’t bother rebuilding it.

Instead Sherdan took his nightcap to his desk. As he did he noticed that one of the monitors was showing the footage from the intruder’s cell. He moved the channel to his larger central screen and sat down. The guards had wasted no time in starting the interrogation process.

While he sat watching the guard yanked her up from her chair by nothing but her hair. He yelled in her face as she remained impassive and non-responsive. Sherdan was impressed that she could remain as calm in the face of such abuse.

When the guard still did not get the information he wanted he gave her a right hook into the face. She went flying back over the chair she had been sitting on and landed on her shoulders. The table mostly covered her body from Sherdan’s view but he winced regardless. That must have hurt.

As the guard lashed out and kicked the girl in the side Sherdan reached out and switched the TV screen off. He couldn’t watch that right before sleeping. It usually wouldn’t have bothered him at all, but either the alcohol or something else had made him more sensitive to this females suffering.

Sherdan finished his drink and went to his bedroom. He sank into the warmth of the duvet and looked around his comfortable yet large room. He had insisted it be constructed in the image of the upper-class bedrooms of the early nineteenth century and contained a four poster bed with an oak panelled effect on the walls up to just over half way. The rest of the walls were a deep burgundy colour.

The fire his maid had lit was still reasonably well fed. Sherdan turned the last of the electric lights out to fall asleep in the cosy glow cast by the blaze from one side of the bed.

It was Sherdan’s alarm that woke him the following morning. The room was still dark and cold. His head hurt from the alcohol the night before and he didn’t want to get up. He knew he had to.

He had three meetings in the morning and needed to write some notes for a press conference the following day and would need to be very careful with what he said. Thankfully he had been given a list of probable questions his interviewer would ask. That was something he could plan for.

As usual his breakfast was laid out in his dining room. He helped himself to a small amount of scrambled eggs and bacon before turning to the selection of fruit. He didn’t like to eat a lot before a big day. It made it harder to think.

While eating he briefly flicked through the paper but nothing of interest caught his attention. He didn’t need advice on what to do with his last week before Christmas and he really didn’t need to know that yet another celebrities’ husband had been caught sleeping with some easy blonde. If they were stupid enough to get caught they should pay the price.

When he had finished he got up and went through to his study. He immediately noticed the central monitor and couldn’t help but turn it on again. The table and chairs were gone and in it’s place a bucket of water.

The girl was drenched and kneeling in front of the water. Her hands and feet were manacled behind her to the same metal hoop in the floor. Both her tattered clothes as well as the floor around her were splattered with her blood.

Thankfully the guards were no where to be seen but she sat, her lips moving even though there was no one to listen to anything she said. Her eyes were closed but he suspected that her right was swollen shut anyway.

For a moment he desired to rush into the room, undo her bonds and carry her to safety. He soon reminded himself that she had brought this upon herself. He would be kinder to her when she finally talked, if she hadn’t already.

While Sherdan watched her captors came back. She didn’t even stop talking or acknowledge their presence in the room. She continued her kneeling; ceaseless murmuring with her eyes closed. Sherdan wished he had installed a sound feed to satisfy his curiosity over what he assumed to be praying.

It was possibly just rambling as a result of what she was going through but she had already informed him of her faith. He wished to know which it was as it appeared to be helping her.

She didn’t stop speaking until one guard grabbed her, shoved her head into the bucket of water and held her there while she struggled against him. As soon as she was let up she coughed and spluttered and went straight back to her ritual.

Sherdan watched this happen another three time before he was interrupted. The security guard who had spoken to him the night before was back.

The time it wasn’t bad news but his agenda and several different reports, including the weekly report on base security. Without the girls addition to the report it was otherwise a very healthy break down. Any other security issues had been dealt with so effectively that he was impressed with the guards.

“Is there no update on information the girl has divulged yet?” Sherdan asked when he noticed the missing report.

“No, Sir. They’ve not got her to speak yet.”

“I guess they took a break to sleep.”

“No, Sir, they’ve been trying all night. She’s one tough chick. She just keeps talking in this language no one understands and ignores almost everything they try and do.”

“Ignores it?” Sherdan looked pale but he tried not to let his guard see how moved he was.

“Yes, she feels the pain for sure. She flinches and cries out occasionally, but she carries on talking right after. Me and Matthew have never seen anything like it.”

“Thank you Nathan. Have me informed as soon as she does say something and get them to feed her. We’ll need to keep her alive until she talks.”

“Yes, Sir.” The guard saluted Sherdan and left. Sherdan looked back at the screen. They had given up on the water and each held an electric baton. He felt sick just knowing what would come next. Reaching out, he switched the monitor off again. He hoped she’d talk soon.


For previous chapters and more info check out the Sherdan’s Prophecy book page here. Chapter 4 will be blogged next year. Have a good new year’s eve everyone and I hope you have a great start to the new year.