The story so far:
The sun was beginning to set, or at least move in the sky so that shadow and darkness was beginning to replace the faint whisper of light that had been coming through the wall.
Despite his best efforts, Zach was making little headway. His make shift digging implement had worn dull from its persistent scraping against the stone. After several hours the opening had gotten only slightly larger. Zach could just squeeze a flattened hand through it now.
He was tired, exhausted both mentally and physically. He was hungry too. His stomach seized angrily, demanding that Zach give it something that he did not have to give. He tried not to think about his hunger. He tried to keep his focus. But with every passing moment the reality was setting in and he was seeing the futility of his efforts. What had begun as hope had dwindled into nothing more than something to occupy his time. He felt like a caged animal simply spinning its wheel but going nowhere.
A noise startled him from his work. A car door. He listened, putting his ear to the hole in the wall. He could hear heavy footsteps on gravel and then a door. He was back.
Zach moved quickly, kicking the debris at his feet away from the wall so as not to draw attention to his work. He moved quickly through the darkness, settling on the other side of the room. He waited, anxiously, like a scared child in fear of being caught for doing something they weren't supposed to do.
The ring, Zach suddenly remembered. His mother's ring. What if this guy noticed it was missing from the finger? Zach had to find it, had to replace it. He scooted across the floor, searching with his hand near where he had scattered the pile. It had to be there, had to be found. His hands worked the dirt floor, patting it down. He couldn't find it, couldn't feel it. He heard noises in the outer room. Quickly he pushed himself back across the floor and fell against the wall. The door opened.
The light from the other room blinded Zach as he turned away from it. Slowly the figure of the cop came into focus-a black silhouette in the doorway.
"Well, Mr. Zachary Mallory," the booming voice echoed in the room, "it seems your car was discovered abandoned along the side of the road this morning. We had to have it towed to the local impound lot. Do you know what it is going to cost you to get that shiny, nice car out of impound?" The cop asked.
"Why are you doing this to me?" Zach asked.
"Always with the questions, Mr. Mallory," the cop responded. "You know, for a man who was always so sure of himself, so confident, so arrogant, you seem to have all these questions but no answers. I thought you knew it all, Mr. Zachary Mallory."
"You son of a bitch," Zach started to get to his feet but a raised hand from his captor quickly stopped him.
"I should tell you, Mr. Mallory," the cop continued, aware that he was in total control of the situation, "that your office has left you several messages today trying to reach you but beyond those," he paused pointedly, "no one else seems to be concerned that you are missing. Why do you suppose that is?"
"I don't know," Zach responded weerily.
"Oh I think you do know. Could it be that maybe nobody else out there really gives a **** about you?"
"What did I tell you about respecting an officer of the law?" the cop warned.
"**** you---sir." Zach spat.
"You know, scum like you could just disappear of the planet and not one person would bother to take notice," the cop explained.
"Look," Zach coughed, "maybe I don't top anyone's Christmas list or have my own fan club, so what? What do you care? Is that what this is, your way of making me a better person?"
"No, Mr. Mallory, you're not worth my time. You're one of those people that can't be rehabilitated so it's just better to remove you from society altogether. Zach could see the cop's head tilt slightly as if he was trying to study his prisoner's reaction. "You do understand what I mean, don't you?"
"Then why bring me here?" Zach questioned. "Why not just shoot me and be done with it?"
"Death, Mr. Mallory, is too good for you. Death would be merciful. Besides, killing you would be murder and murder is against the law. The law that I took an oath to uphold," the cop explained in a matter of fact tone of voice. "What kind of law enforcement officer would I be if I went around breaking the law I was sworn to uphold?" He asked.
"Then my mother," Zach sounded almost hopeful.
The cop entered the room and began to walk about slowly. Zach's heart raced. He wanted to move for the door, but something--was it fear?--held him back.
"Suddenly so much concern for your mother, Mr. Mallory," the cop slowly clapped gloved hands. How admirable, how commendable. What a good son you must be. Tell me, Mr. Zachary Mallory, how many times did you take time out of your busy schedule to see your mother, the one that you have so much compassion for, in the last twelve months?"
Zach stammered, "I--I don't know exactly."
"Not once, Mr. Mallory," the cop answered the question for Zach, "not one time in the last twelve months and yet you claim to care so much her." The cop stopped, his boot kicked at something on the ground. Zach knew what it was.
"Okay," he hoped to distract the officer by talking to him, "so I'm not the greatest son in the world," Zach's emotions started to surface and his voice began to quaver, "but that doesn't justify any ot this..."
"Oh it most certainly does justify this, Mr. Mallory, because, you see, how you behave within your personal relationships is clearly reflected in how you behave within society as a whole. And your behavior has not been less than satisfactory." He paused, staring closely at the object on the floor then walking away from it asked, "Tell me, Mr. Mallory,when was the last time you paid a visit to your sister, and spent some time with your nephews, what are they now--5 and 6? He was in the doorway again.
"No, not Julie and the kids," Zach cried out, "you wouldn't hurt them. They haven't done anything. He began to sob into his hands. "Please, don't hurt them."
"You must be hungry, Mr. Mallory. Thirsty maybe?" Zach's captor asked, seemingly oblivious to Zach's pleadings. He disappeared to the anteroom and then returned with a bag that he threw into Zach's lap.
Zach flinched, a reaction carried over from that morning.
"Open it." the cop ordered.
Zach did not move.
"I said 'open it' and that's an order," he demanded harshly.
Slowly Zach opened the large bag that had been thrown into his lap and reached cautiously inside. His hand felt the shape of a bottle and pulled it out. He could smell food and it smelled good. He pulled out something wrapped in foil and opened it up letting the aroma escape. His hunger overtook him and without pausing he bit into the meat, chicken he guessed and began ravenously devouring it.
"I see you were hungry," the figure in the doorway said, "that's good. We wouldn't want you to think you were being treated---inhumanely--- during your time of incarceration. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back on duty. There's a lot of scum to clean up out there."
Zach paused for a second, could it be that he wasn't the only one this guy was holding prisoner somewhere?
The cop turned to go and then turned back. "By the way, Mr. Mallory, if you spent more time with your sister Julieand the kids you would know that she got the boys a little puppy just three weeks ago. It was the cutest little thing."
As the door closed and the sound of the lock echoed in his ears, Zach's stomach wretched.