“Oh look, we’re captured. It must be Tuesday.” Napoleon’s voice was a bit rusty.
“Or Thursday, since we’re hanging upside down.” Illya coughed to clear his throat. His head was pounding, not surprising since he’d been knock out and strung up like a side of beef.
“Any idea where we are?”
“I’d say a cave under the current regime’s headquarters.” Illya let his arms flop down. He was about an inch from the floor. Any escape meant an upwards route. “Why do they always have caves in these places?”
“Same reason we have basements in our buildings.” Napoleon nodded towards a pile of garbage. “It’s a place to stuff things you don’t want or are tired of.”
“Funny how we fill both requirements.” Illya’s eyes were getting used to the low light. “We aren’t alone.”
“You mean the skeletons? I saw them, too.”
“I was referring to the bats.” Illya didn’t much like bats, not after his last brush with them or the rabies treatment he had to endure afterwards. These seemed to be keeping their distance. But shifted nervously back and forth. In fact, hanging the same way, it looked as if the bats were dancing. “The Batusi,” he muttered.
“They are dancing. They are bats. They must be dancing the Batusi.” He took a deep breath. “You know like Batman did. Just the night for it, too. It must be Halloween by now.”
“Wow, you got hit a lot harder than I thought.” Napoleon stopped. “You’re are right, they do looking like they are dancing. I guess all those years of being vampires, they must have picked up a few steps.”
“Please, let’s not rehash old affairs.”
“Oh, the count and the bats…”
“All those lovely shots. And a good time was had by none.”
Napoleon started to sway back and forth. Unlike Illya, he could reach the floor and he used that to help him with his momentum.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to get some momentum going. If I can get enough, I might be able to reach the hooks we’re dangling from.”
“Stop. You’re making me nauseous.” Illya shook his head slowly. “I’ll do it. Just give me a minute.” The bats, still dancing, seemed closer now. He closed his eyes against the sight and the thought.
Abruptly Illya was flying, no, he was being lifted as if he were a child and was cradled against his mother’s breast. If THRUSH was removing him to some medieval torture chamber, he’d be damned if he’d help. He went limp, but it made no difference. Instead he was carried, light as a feather and then gently, too gently for THRUSH, he was set down.
The hands that stroked his face were impossibly soft and tender. There was a pinch on his wrist and his wrists felt free of their bonds. Same with his ankles. Another pinch and a blessed release of pressure. His tie and collar were loosened and then a third pinch. That seemed backward.
For a long moment, he just floated, no cares, no pain, just relief. When he finally drew enough strength to crack open an eye, he was looking at the same gray walls of their prison.
“Illya?” Napoleon’s voice was confused.
“I’m here.” Illya sat up and realized his bindings were ridiculously loose. They practically fell off.
“What just happened?” Napoleon was busy undoing his own ropes.
Illya looked up at the hooks and tried to remember. “I… I don’t know.” He shook himself free and got shakily to his feet. Everything seemed to be in working order, although he felt a little light headed. Of course, a lack of food and water and then being made upright would do that. A few deep breaths helped to clear the cobwebs. “But we’re free and out of here.”
Napoleon walked a less-than-steady path to the door and tried it. It opened easily. “Let’s go. We’ll regroup and come back in with reinforcements.”
“Don’t you think THRUSH will miss us?” He tightened his tie and adjusted his collar.
“I somehow don’t care.” Napoleon was out the door and into the corridor, getting his bearing. He gestured to Illya.
Still puzzled, Illya took a step and then something compelled him to look back. What he saw made him blinked hard. “What the hell…?”
Napoleon returned. “What? What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“That bat… it was… that’s impossible… no, nothing.” Illya shook his head hard and resolutely squared his shoulders. He walked swiftly out of their cell to join Napoleon. “Let’s go.”
In the future, when they wrote up their report, they concocted some elaborate and daring tale about their escape. It was light on details and big on gloss. They didn’t mention the dungeon and being hung up to dry. Nor did they mention the mysterious marks on their wrists, ankles and neck or even the ‘dancing’ bats. And to his dying day, Illya would never mention that he looked back into their cell and swore he saw someone there, lovely and mysterious, and seemingly dancing to a half remembered song.