The bag is pulled off your head and you find yourself on the poured concrete floor of a small, dank room with stained walls. Your hands are tied behind your back, so tight that the rope grates away skin every time you move. A group of men in the shadows speak to each other in a language you don’t recognize.
A single fluorescent light turns on, flickering weakly, throwing dingy green highlights into the room. A man enters and steps into the light—the men in the shadows fall silent. He stares at you, appraising you, then jabs you twice in the ribs with the butt of a rifle. You double over, gasping, and choke out “What do you want from me?”
The man’s lip curls into a sneer and he lowers his face until it’s right in front of yours. His breath makes you gag.
He asks you a question in the same language you heard the other men speaking. “I don’t—I don’t know what you’re saying,” you tell him, looking at his cheeks, his mustache—anything but his eyes.
He grabs your hair and pulls upward until you’re forced to meet his gaze and he repeats the phrase—this time you understand it.