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Joby heard Tamaz return and sat up on the bed, or at least as much as the handcuffs and chains would allow. Tamaz had kept him chained up all night, thus scuppering any notions Joby had entertained of smothering him in his sleep. Come the morning Tamaz had eaten breakfast in front of him and then gone out. So by now Joby was insanely hungry, and the handcuffs had chafed his wrists until they were practically raw.
In the next room Tamaz had pulled off his shirt and trousers, and got down to his silk underwear and stockings. It had given him a huge kick to wear his "frillies" under his dreary men's clothes in public.
"I know you're there, you little shit!" Joby called out "I heard you come in".
"I appreciate that you can't wait to see me, Joby", Tamaz trilled back "But I'm sure you'd much rather see me as a girl".
"I need the fucking bucket, you dork!" Joby roared.
"You'll just have to wait a moment".
"If I pee myself you've gotta sleep in it too!"
Tamaz pulled open the curtain and stood looking at his chained pet with great satisfaction.
"I need the bucket", said Joby, hoarse with frustration.
Tamaz unchained him and Joby ran across to the bucket. Whilst he was thus occupied Tamaz lolled on the bed and watched him.
"Did you get lonely whilst I was out?" he asked.
Joby gritted his teeth and forbore to reply. Truth to tell he had got very lonely indeed. The building was unnaturally quiet, and it preyed on Joby's nerves. Even his ordeal in Sawney Beane's cave hadn't been as bad as this. Because there he'd had Kieran for company. Being chained up alone and naked was downright intolerable. Even Tamaz's loathsome presence was preferable to that. At least it gave him someone to shout at.
"You don't have to keep me chained up all the time", he said, when he'd finished with the bucket "These handcuffs are cutting into my wrists. You're gonna have to trust me".
"Come here", Tamaz patted the bed.
Joby sighed and went over to him. He sat down on the bed and Tamaz stroked his arm. Joby tensed. Tamaz began to rub his silk-covered legs together, like a fly feeding. It was a very erotic movement. Joby sat there in deepest misery.
"I think you need a little fondle", said Tamaz, breathlessly "I would like to have let you touch me before I went out, but I have to punish you occasionally or you'd get too complacent about our relationship. And complacency leads to contempt".
"Did you do this to Gorth?" Joby swallowed hard "Poor bastard. He was so repressed you must have had a lot to work on".
"I don't wish to discuss Gorth".
"T-That must've been the hold you had over him though", Joby stammered "We could never understand why he wanted to marry you. Did you find his weakest parts and prey on them, eh? God, I bet you enjoyed yourself at his expense!"
"Shut up about Gorth", said Tamaz "I don't have to listen to your nonsense".
"Yes you do. We're here together. If I have to listen to you, then you have to listen to me".
Tamaz rolled onto him and lay there, his face only an inch or-so from Joby's.
"I think you deserve a little treat", he purred "Why don't you touch the tops of my legs? Feel the skin above my stockings".
"Leave me alone!" Joby cried.
He reached up and put his hands round Tamaz's throat. Tamaz laughed derisively.
"You'll never do it", he said "Even if you tried you'd never do it in time. During my last moments I could raise a tornado that would destroy the waterfront in ninety seconds. Think of the damage, the injuries, the loss of life. And all because you can't take a bit of seduction".
"But I don't wanna be seduced by you", Joby wailed, helplessly.
"You can't help yourself. You didn't want to be seduced by Kieran in the early days, did you? Why do you always hide from what you want, Joby?"
"I don't want you", said Joby, firmly.
Tamaz shifted position slightly, and then smiled with satisfaction.
"A certain part of you says otherwise", he remarked.
"That don't mean anything!" Joby exclaimed "That wouldn't destroy Kieran. I'd explain to him and he'd understand. I know he would".
"But you couldn't hack it, Joby", Tamaz shook his head in mock sorrow "You can't switch sex off from emotion, can you? You never could. You're one of those men that can't separate their minds from their bodies. Gorth was the same".
Joby suddenly pushed him backwards, tore the necklace of keys from him and ran into the next room. He fumbled at the door, but in his sate of high emotion he only succeeded in dropping the keys. He fell to his knees and scrabbled around for them. By the time he'd located them Tamaz was standing over him, his black stockinged legs directly in front of Joby's face.
"You like tornadoes do you, Joby?" he said.
Joby handed the keys to him, feeling absolutely wretched. Tamaz took them and waited patiently for him to stand. Joby got to his feet slowly. He had what he thought was a blinding flash of inspiration. Tamaz couldn't raise storms or do anything if he was unconscious. All Joby had to do was knock him out. He cursed himself for not having thought of it earlier, for having wasted all this time. He headbutted Tamaz, catching him on the bridge of his nose. The idea was sound, but Joby was severely weakened from lack of food combined with immense stress. He didn't even manage to knock Tamaz off balance. The only bit of satisfaction he got for his pains was the sight of a small trickle of blood coming from Tamaz's nostril.
"Oh dear dear", Tamaz tutted.
"Don't harm anyone", Joby cried "Do what you want to me, but don't harm anyone else".
"Do what I want to you, eh?" Tamaz smirked "That's a very generous offer, Joby. I am deeply touched. You'd better come with me".
He held out his hand and Joby took it. He hung his head wretchedly as Tamaz led him back into the bedroom.
Julian and Finia came back to the Indigo to find the place deserted. This in itself was such a strange and unique phenomenon that it could only mean something important had happened. All was explained when he found a note from Kieran lying on the table in the galley.
He left Finia on the boat and tore along the jetty to the neighbouring boat, where the Tearfuls lived in a state of cramped decay with their large, unruly brood. Normally he scolded Adam for his habit of sloping off to the barge for tea at any given opportunity, but for once it stood in his favour, as at least Julian knew where to find him. He jumped onto the boat, ignored the foul-mouthed request from one of the children as to what he wanted, and went below to the living quarters.
"Adam!" he bellowed, after a curt 'excuse me' to the Tearfuls "Come home at once".
"Jules!" said Adam, highly embarrassed. On the chair behind him Toppy looked terrified.
"We have a crisis on our hands", said Julian, turning to leave "Now hurry up!"
Adam and Toppy apologised to the Tearfuls and followed him out onto the jetty.
"What are you playing at, Julian?" Adam exclaimed.
"The whole boat was deserted when we got back", said Julian, angrily "I found this note in the galley".
Adam took it and read it.
"HAVE A GOOD IDEA JOBY MAY BE IN THE WHARF AREA AFTER ALL. H, R AND ME HAVE GONE IN PURSUIT. REGRET TO TELL YOU THAT LONTS AND BENGO HAVE ALSO GONE ON. THEY SNEAKED OUT AHEAD OF US. AM FURIOUS AT THEM. IT COULD JEOPARDISE EVERYTHING. THERE'S NO KNOWING WHAT TAMAZ COULD DO. IF I GET MY HANDS ON THEM I MAY VERY WELL KILL THEM. PRAY EVERYTHING GOES OFF ALRIGHT. WE'RE CERTAINLY GOING TO NEED ALL THE DIVINE HELP WE CAN GET! KIERAN.
"This is all your fault, Adam", said Julian "You're supposed to be on the Indigo keeping an eye on things. Not supping tea with Wailing Willy and his lump of lard!"
"But I didn't know this was going to happen", said Adam "I didn't think Lonts and Bengo would go after Tamaz alone! Jules, what the hell are we going to do?"
"Go after them. We'll have to be the third wave, for what it's worth. That brat of yours is in the deepest trouble he's ever been in. When I get my hands on him he'll wish HE'D been taken hostage by Tamaz, not Joby!"
"He's been so worried about Joby. He's talked a lot about rescuing him lately. But I didn't think he'd be this naughty".
"Naughty?" Julian snapped "Adam, you are the master of understatement! Did you know about any of this, Toppy?"
"N-nothing", Toppy stammered, in sheer terror.
"Well you stay back at the Indigo with Finia. Adam, come along. We can't afford to waste anymore time".
"This is how he's done it", said Bengo, standing in the grim foyer of one of the Wharf buildings "That's why we never noticed anything on previous investigations. After all, who would notice a length of rope hanging down when you look at all the other rubbish around here?"
He and Lonts both looked up at a thick line of knotted hemp which hung down from a small, internal balcony much further up.
"Tamaz used this?" said Lonts, dubiously.
"It's the only way that makes sense", said Bengo "I noticed it when we came round once before, but it didn't register. Then I got to thinking about it".
"But how did he get Joby up there?"
"I don't know, but we have to suss it out, Lonts", Bengo adjusted the holster around his waist, which carried the materials they needed to make flour-bombs, including a couple of bottles of water "We'll make these up when we get up there. Otherwise the others are going to catch us up at any moment. Now do you think you can get up here as well?"
"Of course I can", said Lonts, stoutly.
They tested the rope for weight and firmness.
"I'll shim up first", said Bengo "It won't take me very long at all. You come up behind me when I get to the top".
"Don't take long", said Lonts, glancing behind him nervously "The others might have noticed we've gone. I want us to have found Joby by the time Adam and Julian find us!"
"We will", Bengo patted his arm reassuringly, and then prepared to climb.
Joby lay on his side, facing the boarded-up window. Tamaz lay next to him, breathing heavily. Joby wanted to start crying and never stop. He longed for Kieran, and yet at the same time his shame was so great that he didn't know if he could ever face him again.
Tamaz climbed off the bed, pulled on his silk drawers, and walked round it. He silently set to work putting the handcuffs back on Joby, and threading the chain round the bed-rail. He then produced a pair of shackles from the open suitcase on the floor and secured his ankles together.
"I have to go out again for a while", he said, when he had finished "To make arrangements".
"What arrangements?" Joby croaked.
"I'm taking you away somewhere. Just the two of us. I've got a little boat lined up just outside here. I like your company, Joby. You and I have fun together. I would dearly love to entertain you somewhere more salubrious than this bug-pit. What do you think?"
Joby couldn't be bothered to reply. His heart was too heavy.
Hillyard stood at the bottom of the length of hemp, and handed a deflated balloon to Kieran, which had fallen out of Bengo's holster.
"Looks like everybody wants to go up there", he said, glancing upwards.
"It makes sense now", said Kieran "I thought with Tamaz being a Ghoomer he might perhaps be underground, but it seems he's done the exact opposite. We'd better go after them".
At the top of the rope Bengo and Lonts had found the rack and pulley that Tamaz and Abe had used to transport Joby, and which Abe had used to carry Joby's meals up on. Directly opposite them a corridor, half-choked with rubble, stretched ahead for some distance. They paused to make up some of the flour bombs and then half-ran half-crept through the mess. A little light was thrown in by the minute broken windows near the ceiling.
"This must be it", Bengo whispered, when they finally came upon a locked door.
"But it's bound to be locked", said Lonts "How do we get in?"
"Easy", Bengo produced a revolver from his back pocket "Shoot the lock".
"Where did you get that?"
"It's Julian's. Finia passed it to me before he went shopping".
"Finia knows what we're doing?"
"Yes, it was his idea for us to take the revolver. He knows how much it means to me to do this for Kieran. That's why he persuaded Julian to go shopping. Give us a clear run, you see. Now stand back and remember all our plans. We have to blind Tamaz, disorientate him as much as possible".
The gunshot was the most welcome noise Joby had ever heard, if only because of the look of shock which passed over Tamaz's face when he heard it.
Tamaz ran into the living-room just as the door splintered open, and Bengo and Lonts poured into the room waving balloons. The balloons exploded and showered stodgy wet dough everywhere. In the fug Bengo noticed too late that Tamaz was unarmed. The balloons had only meant to be a decoy tactic, to confuse Tamaz and disarm him. They hadn't expected him to be unarmed already, and Bengo realised, too late, that he could have shot him dead the instant he ran into the room ... if only he'd known.
As it was a flour-splattered Tamaz took advantage of the confusion to bolt. He ran along the corridor and hurled himself at the rope. He had shimmed most of the way down before realising that there was a host of men standing at the bottom.
"It's him!" Ransey shouted, and raised his gun.
Tamaz jumped onto him and chopped the gun out of his hand. He hurled it into the depths of the warehouse, punched Hillyard out of the way and then ran out across the courtyard. Ransey scrambled to his feet and ran after him.
"You get after him too, Hilly", said Kieran "Meanwhile I'm gonna do the Indian rope trick!"
Adam and Julian were approaching the entrance to the courtyard when Tamaz ran straight into them. Julian grabbed him and tried to secure him in an armlock, but Tamaz wriggled free and ran across the dirt-track towards the river.
"With any luck the little bastard'll end up in the mud", said Julian, as he and Adam ran after him.
Tamaz jumped into the mud bank at the side and waded out to the nearest jetty. The others followed him, sinking up to their knees in the stuff. Tamaz go to the jetty and pulled himself onto it. His silk stockings were now obliterated by the mud.
By the time the others had reached the jetty, Tamaz had jumped into a small motorised dingy, and had infuriatingly managed to get it started on the first effort.
"So long for now!" he cried tauntingly, above the noise of the engine "I'm sure we'll be meeting up again soon. I look forward to it!"
"Damn, fuck and blast!" Julian screamed, standing and watching helplessly as the dingy roared away up the river, with Tamaz as a small white blur inside it.
"We'll get after him", said Adam.
"Don't be absurd, how can we? By the time we get back to the Indigo and get it stoked up, he could be in Kiskev! What a bloody shambles!"
"He got away then?" said Hillyard, walking up the jetty towards them, having taken the long way round.
"Yes, surprise surprise, he got away", Julian snarled "Where the hell were you two?"
"He surprised us", said Ransey, breathlessly "He jumped on me, knocked the gun out of my hand. Where's yours?"
"That is something I would dearly like to know!" said Julian "Heads are going to roll over this entire day's events, I can assure you of that! A completely unarmed lunatic in silk drawers manages to evade all our clutches! I am not happy! Added to that I've ruined a perfectly good pair of trousers!"
"Has Joby been found? Is he alright?" said Adam.
"Kieran's gone to look", said Hillyard.
"We have botched it up good and proper", Julian continued.
"Oh don't go on, Jules", said Adam "We tried our best".
"That just about says it all!" Julian roared.
"It was stupid, Lonts", said Joby, as forcefully as he could in his weakened state "He could have killed you".
"We had to get you, Joby", Lonts protested.
He had been appalled by the sight of Joby, who was dirty, unshaven, even thinner than normal, and trussed up like a chicken on the squalid bed. The "SLAVE" motif was still scrawled across his stomach, albeit slightly smudged.
"I'll untie you", said Lonts "Where's the key?"
"Around Tamaz's neck", said Joby.
"Joby", said Kieran softly, as he came into the room.
"Kiel", Joby gasped in delight "You seem to be out of breath".
"I've just had to shim up a rope that's why".
"I'll explain later".
Kieran stood looking at him for a moment with his big blue eyes.
"Don't look at me, Kiel", Joby began to cry "I'm so ashamed".
Kieran fell on his knees and fold Joby in his arms. He muttered soothing noises and stroked his dirty hair.
"You don't know what he did to me", Joby sobbed.
"I think I can make a pretty good guess", said Kieran, trying to hold him even closer, but the chains kept getting in the way "You'll tell me all of it in due course. When we get you out of here and cleaned up. You'll feel more human then".
"I won't ever feel human again".
"Yes you will. I promise you. You're feeling how I felt after Angel had done with me. I know exactly what you're going through".
"Angel didn't bugger you", said Joby, spitting the words out like bile.
"Ssh, ssh, ssh", Kieran kissed and stroked him.
"Like the Ghoomer women did to Ransey at Thetislog", said Joby, his face stained with tears "We've never helped him with that".
"He wouldn't let us. You know what he's like".
"You must hate me for letting him do it", said Joby "Tamaz I mean. You must h-hate me so much".
"Joby, no, never", Kieran continued to caress him "I'm proud of you. You're a brave, brave man".
"I am too", said Lonts.
"Hm. I'm going to be sorting you out when we get home", said Kieran, sternly.
"But we found Joby!" Lonts protested.
"Don't be angry with him, Kiel", Joby sniffed "You'll never know how pleased I was to see him".
Adam came into the room. His bottom half was covered in mud, and his face wore an expression of extreme anxiety.
"Addy?" said Kieran, in surprise "You didn't climb up the rope, did you?"
"No, Bengo let us up on the rack", said Adam "I'm afraid Tamaz has got away. He had a dinghy on the waterfront".
"Damn!" Kieran yelled.
"We'll find him again", said Lonts "If we have to look all over the world to do it".
"He's the President, so he can't keep a low profile", said Adam, trying to sound reassuring.
"He's managed alright this past week!" said Kieran.
"Can't we just get out of here?" said Joby, plaintively "I never wanna see this place again".
"Yes, it is a bit grim isn't it?" said Adam, sitting down on the bed "As soon as Hillyard gets up here, we'll carry you back down, chains and all".
"We're gonna need a hacksaw for these", said Joby.
"There's one in the hold", said Adam, caressing Joby's stomach "Did he succeed then? Do you now hate Patsy?"
"What do you think!" Joby gulped "But he tried his best, believe me. He knows exactly how to get to your weaknesses and exploit them".
"Well don't worry", said Adam "We're going to catch up with him and exploit his before long. He'll pay for what he's done. Julian and I will see to that".
"What are you going to do?" said Joby.
"We've got a few little surprises lined up for him".
"We have to catch him first", said Kieran.
"Don't be so defeatist, Patsy. That isn't the attitude".
"I can't believe you're all here", said Joby, emotionally "It's like a dream".
"A particularly bad one", said Kieran "Julian's just walked in".
"Good grief", said Julian, looking at the scene with astonishment "You have been having fun haven't you? I bet you're jolly miffed we came along and rescued you!"
"He has such a way with words doesn't he?" said Kieran.
"Behave, Jules", said Adam "Or I'll put you across my knee again. I expect it would some way to putting a smile back on dear Joby's face!"
"Did Tamaz prance around in his silk knickers all the time?" said Julian, unabashed.
"Pretty much so", said Joby.
"Well that must have been fairly entertaining for you. Almost worth the entrance fee alone I would've thought", said Julian "I must admit I wasn't expecting to have him run out on me dressed quite like that. He looked like something out of an Edwardian French farce. The mud-bank's completely ruined his stockings".
"That's the best news I've had all day", said Joby, with quiet satisfaction, and he almost smiled.
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