Brain Teasers
(November 1978)
By Peg Keeley

Part 2


The ticking of the clock was the first thing he became aware of as he awoke. It was reassuring that he expected it to be setting on the shelf and expected to hear the ticking. For a moment or two, he lay in the bed, reviewing the appearance of the room. I remember this, all of this. Wasn't there someone else? Cathi -- Cathi was here. He looked quickly around, but he was alone in the room. I miss her. Get a grip here, he chided himself, this is an opportunity to put the pieces together before anyone can confuse me. What do I know? What do I remember as truth? He got out of bed, noticed the teapot sitting on the small reading table. It was cold now, but when he sniffed it he could instantly identify the Orange Pecot Tea. What was important about this? Chuck -- was it Chuck? There was a Chuck once, I remember him as an older Chinese gentleman -- a gentle man. He smoked a pipe. Cathi told me he is dead. I knew that already, so it must be true. He pushed things around on the desk and noticed the novels again. Yes, they belong here; I remember them. He opened the cover of one and on the inside leaf was the name Paul M. Garrett scrawled.

He quickly picked up a pen and signed the name on the desk blotter. It matches perfectly. This seems right, then why is it so hard to believe? There really is a Cathi.. My wife.

The door to the room opened and a tall, thin Polynesian man in a white lab coat entered. There was a black stethoscope around his neck. "Good morning, Paul," he greeted in a friendly manner.

He scowled. Someone else I am supposed to know? Just who and what do I believe when I cannot trust my own senses?

The man waited a moment, anticipating a reply that did not come. "Can you recall your name this morning?"

"It may be Paul," he replied guardedly.

"You sound like you think it may be something else," the man remarked kindly.

His suspicious frown deepened. "You apparently know me. Who are you?"

He looked taken by surprise. "Ah-- I am so sorry -- John Sakar. We have known each other for over ten years." He picked up the wedding album and flipped to a page. "See?" He pointed to the picture of the reception.

Belatedly, he recognized himself, having identified Sakar first. They stood together, warm smiles sharing toasting with champagne glasses. There is something wrong here -- I do not drink. He resisted the urge to mention it to Sakar. I must keep this to myself for now.

"Paul, I know you don't recall the events of the past few days, but I am sure of your brilliant cautious mind and I know you are aware that you are not a shoe salesman," Sakar attempted to be light.

The last few days? I have lost a lifetime! My whole existence is a complete blank! For a fleeting instant, he sensed the emotion of utter panic and aloneness. I feel like I am groping in a dense fog with no sense of direction. Who are my friends? My confidants? Who can I trust?

Sakar behaved as though he did not notice the fear in his patient's eyes, but he knew it was there. He crossed to the reading table and sat on one of the two chairs. "Join me." It was an invitation, not a command.

He moved to the table and sat down, watching Sakar carefully.

Sakar folded his hands on the table and looked peaceful. "You are an agent for the United States Government and you relay information between delicate sources. Communist spies intercepted you two weeks ago. I don't know if they were able to get anything from you. If they did, it would have been the first time."

First time? Has this happened before? Pieces of images that lay just out of reach taunted him. Was it Hong Kong? I remember there being a stronghold on a hill. I remember….I don't remember.

Sakar waited patiently for him to think it through, then continued. "They were very careful. They did accomplish a scrambling of your mind with some kind of new hallucinogenic. They chose very precisely what they altered, making it all so plausible -- they made the names and people close, but still completely different. Right now I am sure you are not certain where one reality leaves off and the other begins. Cathi tells me that you recalled her and thought she was dead."

The one joy in all of this -- Cathi is alive! "Are you going to tell me that you know where the fact and fiction divide?" he questioned, eyeing Sakar closely.

"You and I can sift through those pieces together in time. I cannot promise you that they have not left some mental land mines behind. In fact, I'll bet they have."

"Land mines?"

"Certain words or sites that will trigger some kind of response in you to do or say something unexpected," Sakar explained quietly.

"Like what? Could there be some kind of thing that could hurt Cathi?" he asked, real fear evident.

"I do not know," Sakar replied. "You can see that it is important for us to not wait very long before we explore what has happened to you."

He rose and paced the floor. "How do you propose we do this?"

Sakar sighed. "There are several means. You could tell me all you remember. Everything. Childhood, work, everything."

He cocked an eyebrow. "Everything? That wouldn't take very long. I can't remember anything. And what if something I recall is classified? Do you have that kind of clearance?" He shook his head. "I know you say you are an old friend, but until I know which day of the week this and who I am we won't be digging into my mind. How do I know I am not turning anything over to the enemy?"

Sakar grinned. "How good it is to hear you say that, Paul! You sound more like your old self already!"

There is something about Sakar that makes him seem totally trustworthy. Maybe that is what is so disquieting about him.


Day Six.

Excellent progress with Subject A. His attachment for the woman he has been led to believe is his love is astonishing. This will be our key. He will be hesitant to believe anyone but her. He wants to believe her because he wants to believe this love is alive. She has been instructed to deepen those ties of trust.

Subject B is following the predictable pattern, seeking methods of escape, defiance, and self-determination. We will move to the next step today, using time honored methods to break the will and force him to recognize he is dependent upon us and that there is no hope.

The rising sun began to lighten the bleak little concrete cell but it was still cold. Danny had spent much of the night sitting in a similar position as Perez, knees drawn up to his chin, attempting to keep warm. No words had passed between them.

What exactly has happened here? I know Steve had been serving as courier in a sensitive nature for NIS. I know he failed to meet Strickland in Hong Kong after missing his flight from Manila. I know he completely disappeared. He must be here somewhere. Are they going to use me to get to him? We both know better than that. There is a long-standing agreement -- we each agreed to die first. Will I do that? Will I die? I must be expendable and I am certain he is not. If I am to survive, I must make it happen myself. He rose to his feet now that the light was better, and began to examine every inch of the prison for a weakness

"There is no way," Perez suddenly said.

He continued his hunt. "Where are we?" he demanded.

"Jolo Island," he replied in a bored tone.

He frowned, unable to recall his geography. "Indonesia?"

"Philippines," Perez corrected.

Well, it doesn't look like this guy is truthful, it is way to cold for the Philippines.

"It does not matter where we are," Perez added. "This is no real place. There will be no US embassy coming to your rescue. This in the end of the earth."

"Yeah?" Danny had come to the tiny window high up on the wall. "Then I guess we need to rescue ourselves." He gripped the bars and pulled himself up to look out. All he could see was a dirt courtyard and another stucco building facing them from beyond. "What's out there?"

Perez shook his head. "A lot of nothing."

He glanced back towards the steel door. "And out there?"

Perez gave a disgruntled shrug. "Pain, that's what's out there."

There were sounds in the hallway of hard-soled boots on the hard concrete. The footsteps stopped before the steel door and there was the scratching of metal on metal as a key worked hard to open the rusty lock. Danny and Perez turned to face the doorway; Perez's expression one of plain dread; Danny's was expectant, masking the mental calculations of how to use this to his advantage.

A guard took a single step inside the doorway and slid a small plastic bowl of vial smelling mush and a plastic quart milk bottle of water across the floor. Danny watched in mild distaste as Perez dove for the food like a starved animal, shoveling handfuls of the mess into his mouth. "You." The guard pointed towards Danny. "Come with me."

Danny quickly weighed the option of jumping the guard. I may never get one-on-one odds again. But he was aware he did not know what lay outside the door. If they make this mistake once, they may again and I need to know more about where I am. Without comment, he followed the guard out into the hall to face two other guards armed with AK-47s that had not been visible before. He uttered a mental prayer of thanksgiving that he had chosen to wait. He followed the first guard and the other two fell in behind. They all appear to be trained military men -- they don't even look at me. I am simply an object to them, not a man. The safety is off on those weapons -- they aren't kidding here. The hallway was cinderblock, narrow, with single periodic naked bulbs hanging from the low ceiling. There were no windows. The floor was cold and damp beneath his bare feet.

The leader turned a corner, then stopped before a solid wooden door. He opened the door without knocking and with no key. The office was small and dark. In the center of the room was a heavy old wooden office desk with a gooseneck lamp that was turned on, shining down onto the desktop. An empty simple, straight-backed metal chair faced the desk.

But Danny's attention was riveted to the figure that occupied another chair behind the desk. The man's attention was on the notebook in which he was writing, so the only feature Danny could see was the thinning black hair and the dark green uniform. On the side of the desk was a small plate containing several large muffins and red jam. A pot of coffee steamed beside them.

A guard behind gripped Danny's left shoulder and pushed him onto the empty chair. Danny shivered as the cold of the metal seat penetrated the thin fabric of his pants. The aroma of the coffee made his stomach growl. How long has it been since I ate?

The seated officer lay aside his pen and lifted his head. Danny identified him instantly as the officer who had been in charge in the cell the night before. Without looking at Danny, he picked up a table knife, smeared some jam on a muffin, took a large bite, and chewed quietly. He poured two cups of coffee. He focused a smile on Danny. "Good morning. Will you join me for breakfast?"

Danny did not reply, nor did he touch or look at the food.

The officer chuckled. "It is not poisoned." He took another huge bite.

"No thanks. I went that route yesterday," Danny muttered trying to hide his hunger.

"Day before yesterday," the officer commented. He lifted a cup of coffee and took the time to inhale the vapors. "You crossed the International Date Line."

"Whatever." Bolstering up his courage, Danny demanded: "What is this all about?"

The smile vanished and hard, angry expression crossed the dark features. "You are not here to ask questions!" he declared sharply. "I am Commandant Frier, that is all you need to know. It is I who hold your life in my hands. As for why --" the smile was now sardonic, "-- you were sold out by your friends."

Danny's blank expression did not change. "Which ones?" This is a lie, of course, like everything else here. An old ploy intended to divide. That means Steve must be here somewhere.

Frier rose from the desk suddenly, throwing down his napkin. "What is your name?"

Danny felt a knot tighten in his stomach with recollection of the beating the night before and gave a worried glance at the guard behind him. "Dan Williams."

The guard struck him on the side of the head with the gun butt so hard, it knocked him out of the chair.

"Up!" Frier ordered and the guard pulled Danny back into the chair. "What is your name!" he screamed close to his prisoner's face.

Danny looked past Frier, focusing on the wall beyond, refusing to lower his gaze in submission or chance showing his fear by looking Frier in the eye. He set his jaw in silence, and tried to concentrate on the throbbing pain over his right ear.

Frier scooped up his riding crop. It whistled through the air has it whipped across Danny's shoulder, leaving a red welt behind. "You will answer me!" he screamed in fury.

This time Danny did look Frier in the eye taking a pleasure, however small, in angering his tormentor. If the only power is that of enraging him, it is enough.

When Danny still did not answer Frier gestured to the guard. "Bring him!"

The guard yanked Danny roughly to his feet and he was taken to a large room further down the hall. The purpose of this room was evident immediately. Shackles hung from several points long the cinderblock walls of the forty by forty room. Three metal tables that resembled examining tables from the morgue had been carefully placed in the corners. There were wires, frightening gleaming instruments of unknown use, hoses, and bright lights.

Danny realized that he was in serious trouble. These people mean business and they are professional. Am I ready to die here? I have no information of importance, do they know that? They have not asked for anything, but it looks like they are just getting started. He was pushed roughly in the direction of the fourth corner where large wire dog cage sat with it's top open.

"Inside," the guard instructed.

He paused, wondering if he would be better off to resist right now and be killed.

The guard touched Danny's back with a stun gun.

Danny jumped and cried out in surprise and pain. Obediently, he stepped over the side into the cage. The wire box was too small for standing or sitting, so he was forced to crouch down making comfort an impossibility. The guard closed and latched the top.

Frier bent down close to the wire box. "Do you know why you are here?" he asked, chuckling quietly.

Danny did not respond. I must concentrate on something, anything to take my attention off this place, this fear. Two times two is four. Two times three is six. Two times four is eight…

Frier spun on his heel, headed for the door. He gestured towards the man who sat on a barstool behind the podium-like stand, then left.

Danny cast a glance towards the man on the stool, trying to keep from wondering what was next. Two times five is ten….two times six is twelve… His back and legs were already aching from the position.

The man rose, walked a few steps, bent down, his back to Danny, then rose, the nozzle of a thick fire hose in his hands. He opened the stopcock and the blast of water struck the cage with such force it slid six inches across the floor. At the end of ten seconds, the man shut off the hose.

The only sound in the concrete room was dripping water as droplets fell to the puddle around the wire prison. Danny gasped for air. The force of the frigid water had been like a huge fist. He now tried quickly to recover from the shock, knowing it would come again. It did – exactly thirty seconds later. Gripping the wire of the cage to prevent being thrown around, Danny attempted to push back the screaming demand of WHY!

Two times seven is fourteen….two times eight sixteen…two times nine…


The young woman sat in Sanchez’ office, her legs tucked under the chair, her hands gripped tightly in her lap. Her long blonde hair framed the face that revealed a mix of fear and anger. "See here, I didn’t do ana’thing," she said, trying to sound strong, but the effort failed. "I’ve already talked to you police two times. There isn’t anything new I have to say."

Duke had already assessed her posture, her expression, everything he possibly could from the young stewardess’ appearance. He was not in a hurry. He knew the value of silence. He remained at the desk, doodling on a notepad for another minute while she said in obvious distress watching and waiting. At last he look up. "Thank you for coming down, Miss Henderson."

"Like I had much choice, Mate," she snipped.

He nodded. "Well, things like this happen. Everyone gets upset. You can understand, I’m sure, that it is hard for someone to be kidnapped off a plane in midair."

She did not answer him.

"Now, let me make sure of what you said earlier. You were stewardess on Quantas flight #167 two days ago from Honolulu to Manila."

"Yes," she said flatly.

"And this man was on that flight." He showed her Danny’s photo.

"Like I said to Sanchez. He sat in seat 26C, on the isle. When we got ready to land, he was gone."

"So you realized he was missing before the plane landed?"

"Of course. It’s our job to make sure all the passengers are in their seats." Her blue eyes widened in innocence. "He was missing."

"What did you do?"

"Well, we checked the rest rooms, the galley, the first class lavies above," she shrugged. "He wasn’t nowhere."

"What did you do next?"

"Sheila, the senior attendant, she told the captain."

"And then?"

She shrugged. "Wasn’t no more I could do, Mate. We were ready to land."

He nodded and paced back for forth a moment, tapping the photo in his hand. "And when you landed, what did you do?"

She shrugged. "Nothing. That man, Strickland, was waiting at the gate. When the captain talked to him, he went real wild."

Duke did not express a response. Strickland, the prim and proper Englishman was hard to envision being "wild."

"They locked us all up at the consulate and asked us questions. I sure wish your friend would turn up so I can get on with business," she added.

"Before Williams disappeared, did he eat a flight meal?"

"I think so."

"Do you remember what he ate?"

She shrugged. "There were 387 people on that flight with three meal choices. I don’t know."

"But you remembered his face," Duke remarked.

"Yeah, and the guy in 33A and especially the bloke in 2B."

He looked puzzled at her response.

"They all had cute faces, so who cares what they ate."

Duke gave a nearly audible sigh. "You did not usually fly this route. Why did you come this time?"

"I was helping out a friend. She got sick, so I filled in for her. Goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished," she commented.

He gave a small smile, hopefully looking friendly. "Her name?"

"Anna Perkins."

He wrote it down. That should be easy enough to check. "The other attendant says it was you who checked the rest rooms."

"So what if I did?"

"You checked them all?"


"What did you do?"

"I peeked in the doors – none of ‘em was locked."

"None of them?"


"How do you think they did it?"

"What?" She asked in surprise.

"The kidnappers. How did you think they got him? They didn’t throw him out a window."

"How the bloody hell do I know," she snapped.

"Do you know anything else that might help us?"

She shrugged. "Wish I did so we could get out of here."

"Well," he set his pad aside, "I think I can help you there, Miss Henderson. You are free to go."


"Yes, free. I don’t think there are any more questions for you. Unless Captain Sanchez says otherwise, you are free to return to Australia."

She looked suspicious as she picked up her purse and made a hasty escape.

Strickland and Sanchez came in from the back room. "I sure hope this is the right thing, Lukela," Strickland murmured.

"She most definitely is the one," Duke said with confidence. "Maybe she is scared enough to lead us to the others."

Strickland nodded. "I have several of Mi5’s finest watching her every step."


He dreamt of Cathi. They were sailing in the harbor, the wind in the sails, blue sky and sea around them. Whether they sailed around the island or the world, it did not matter. They were together. Life seemed more beautiful than he could ever recall. The sea birds floated on the breeze, hanging in midair anticipating a treat of food, laughing at them, then swooping off. Nothing will ever be like this again…

….He opened his eyes. The room was familiar now, but there was the lingering disorientation. I know this place, there is something special about it. What is it? I am supposed to know this. Do I live here? Is this my home? Is it OUR home? Where is Cathi? Why does something feel so wrong? If this is my home, why can I not recall anything but this room. Certainly I would recall our bed, our love. Where do we live? What is our phone number? The lack of answers rose up like an angry specter in this room that should represent peace and sanctuary. In the dream, where were we? I know the place, where was it?

The door opened, interrupting his thoughts.

"Good morning, darling!" Cathi exclaimed upon seeing him awake. She flew to his side and kissed his neck. "You look rested."

Do I? Do I feel rested? He got to his feet. "I think I look a mess," he remarked gently touching a hand to his unshaven chin. "I haven’t shaved in days." He suddenly found himself trying to add up the days, the weeks. The growth was thick – certainly more than a day – but not the partial beard two weeks would have issued. If I was captive for two weeks, did I shave during that time?

It seemed as though she was reading his thoughts. "I’ll get Ed to give you a shave today. You look quite rustic, but I know you’d like to freshen up."

He managed a smile. "Rustic?" He rubbed his hand on his chin again. "Just get me a razor and I’ll do it," he remarked.

Her expression fell, disclosing disappointment. "You don’t remember Ed, either, do you?"


"He has been a faithful family servant for ten years. He has given you your shave every morning for years." She slapped a hand in frustration on the desk. "How is this possible, Paul? How could they do this to you?"

He took her in his arms. "It will be all right, Cathi. You’ll see."

She lifted her face and they shared a short kiss.

He looked into her deep eyes, wishing he knew what to believe. Are you really the Cathi of my dreams? My love I thought lost? Are you real? I am touching you, holding you, but are you who you say. If not….what is all this?

"Dr. Sakar says it’s time you got a chance to walk around a bit, stretch your legs. Brunch is ready downstairs," Cathi suggested. "This room is so dark and musty. You need some sunshine."

That sounded appealing. He was reminded of his inability to recall anything but this room. Yes, just what I need is a chance to look around here. Maybe that will put this nagging fear away. Isn't a life with a woman like this what I have always wanted? If it was what I have always wanted -- doesn't that mean it is actually something else? He struggled mentally to move away from this hopelessly circular reasoning.

With anticipation akin to a child at Christmas, he waited as Cathi opened the door. The hallway led to a magnificent spiral stairway down to the green marble lobby, but it was completely unfamiliar to him. He knew Cathi was watching, hoping for a glimmer of recognition. Certainly I would remember something like this. But this father she mentions, what did he do? The one I recall was a hard disciplinarian, an Irishman with high principles who instilled them into his children. Children. I have a sister. Yes, a sister. What is her name? Mary Ann. Shall I tell Cathi I recall Mary Ann? What if it is another rouse? I can almost recall the face, the figure. There is a pain about her -- a loss...

...."Paul," Cathi was looking at him expectantly.

"Cathi..." He blinked, and beheld the sunny dayroom. There was a lovely yellow and white floral arrangement on the round, glass table and a tray of cut fruit and breads.

"Does this remind you of anything?" she asked.

"Should it?" he asked, reluctant to draw his mind away from the thread of his past.

She smiled. "You proposed to me here -- right here."

He looked carefully around the room, caught between his growing doubts and the love he should have for her.

She squeezed his hand. "It's all right, Paul. I know it will come back to you in time. Just give it time." She led him to the table. "Let's eat."

He slid into the chair beside her, looking out at the garden outside the window. Most of the plants were brown and dead. The sky was overcast and looked like winter.

She gave a sudden laugh. "Look at you. So prim and solemn." She giggled again. "Can you still laugh?"

"Can I laugh?" he asked. "Have I done something funny?"

She laughed again, reached over and kissed his cheek. "I love you, darling."

He wanted to say that he loved her. The words caught in his throat. "I am trying, Cathi," was the best he could manage. "Have we ever gone sailing?" he asked carefully as he spread butter on a croissant.

"Sailing?" she asked.

"Yes. Do we sail?"

She looked as though she had been caught unexpectedly. "Well, I think so -- once maybe. Yes, we did!" She burst into a smile. "We visited friends and you borrowed their sailboat. We went out for an afternoon. It was so long ago! Something is coming back to you!"

He seemed less excited as he gently rubbed his hands together. I have sailor's calluses in just the right places. How do I know that? I must have sailed more than once. The pieces don't match up. Who am I? Where do I think I sailed? A memorial -- Pearl Harbor -- I know it was Pearl Harbor. "Where did we sail?"

"Cancun, darling." She took a sip of coffee.

He took his black. She knows that, she did not offer cream and sugar. He stared down into the blackness of his cup. Not unlike my memory right now.

"Is something wrong?" she asked.

"No," he replied hastily. "I--just thought I remembered differently."

Cathi's smile faded into worry. "This is so wrong, Paul, just so wrong! They have stolen our life from us. Won't it ever be the same?" A sob caught in her throat.

He looked into her anxious face. "I will find the truth, Cathi, I promise you that. No matter what it takes." And I pray to God you are in that truth! He took drink of the hot coffee and enjoyed the rich flavor. It had a mild spice tang to it. "Is this something new?"

"It's hazelnut coffee, you like it?"

He inhaled the aroma, attempting to decide if it was a taste or merely a scent. "Unusual." He took another careful drink. He watched the stiff brown branches bobbing their heads to the stiff breeze outside the window. It is so peaceful here I would like to just be at peace with Cathi and let it all go. This begins to feel so right. So right. What about...I cannot remember. There was something I was concerned about. I feel so tired. I just slept. "I'm tired," he voiced.

"The strain of the last weeks. And this is your first time out of bed," she judged. "Give yourself time, Paul. Can't you feel that it is all starting to come together now? We are here -- that is all we need."

His eyes were so heavy. Yes, Cathi, you are all I ever need. You are here with me. This is all I ever need.

End Part 2

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