The pocket full of credits jingled with each step. A long day of helping that man patch up holes in his rotting fishing boat paid more than Nelson expected. Although his face didn't show it, he was satisfied. His pace was leisurely despite the rugged nature of the area he was walking through. After a half hour of strolling through the wreckage which comes naturally as a result of collapse, widespread violence and famine, he arrived at his destination with little fanfare.

Earlier in the day, Nelson had figured out he would be sleeping at the house of a seemingly amiable man who was also working at the docks, but whose shift ended shortly after Nelson arrived. Four credits on arrival, four on departure. That was the deal. When he arrived at the worker's home he paid his four credits and was directed towards a cot in the basement on which the rest of the place had been hastily constructed out of scrap wood and aluminum. The basement proved to be more of a crawlspace, but Nelson did not feel obligated to complain as long as it was dry and fairly warm, which it was. Aside from the faint smell of rat poison, this was a comparatively decadent set-up. Nelson maneuvered carefully into the crawlspace and tried to get comfortable. He passed out long before he could trick himself into being comfortable.

A knock at the door interrupted a dream about future travels. Startled, Nelson bolted upright, ramming his skull into the ceiling of the crawlspace. The force of the blow knocked him unconscious and left a nasty bump which would not become apparent until Nelson awoke. He was unable to make the same mistake again because when he finally did come to, the stevedore had a knife to his throat.

"Get up. Keep quiet," he whispered in Nelson's ear. Nelson could practically taste the whiskey on his breath as it hung in the stale basement air.

Two more men, presumably friends of the stevedore, were waiting upstairs with rope and a piece of discolored navy blue cloth which, as it was rapidly applied to Nelson's face, reeked of mothballs. The men said nothing as they hogtied Nelson and threw him in the back of a handcart. He knew this was a handcart because of the irregular, jarring way in which it moved with each step the man pulling it took. Nelson bounced against the sides of the miniscule cart as it rolled over what barely passed for a road these days. Nelson felt like he felt whenever he had been traveling to a destination he was not particularly excited about. Time moved slow.

As the cart lost speed Nelson's heart began to pound in his ears. Two men grabbed his shoulders and pulled him out of the cart. He tried to stand, but they kicked the back of his knees so he would kneel on the cold concrete floor.

"Do you know why you're here?" Nelson could barely answer the question because he was temporarily dazzled by the sudden burst of light that filled his eyes as the blindfold was torn from his face. In the room were three men, all wearing matching uniforms with slightly different insignia. Nelson was unfamiliar with this kind of military dress and couldn't make out who, exactly, was in charge. The only light was a dim, naked light bulb in the center of the room which slowly swung back and forth, animating the shadows of all the men and the metal folding chair in the center of the room upon which the largest man sat supporting his head with his hand. The other two men simply looked bored and fiddled with their sidearms while pacing back and forth across the room.

"Answer me!" The inquisitor was undeniably a Waltzer. It wasn't the picture of Crowley on the wall which gave him away, although it certainly didn't hurt, but the intense hollowness of his stare.

"I don't know," Nelson said, maintaining his composure as best he could. His voice shook despite his best efforts.

"Of course you don't know," the inquisitor said calmly, lifting his arm high in to strike Nelson. As he did, an adjacent Waltzer grabbed his wrist.

As he held the inquisitor's wrist the second Waltzer announced, "Hold on, Rick. You know the rules and so do I." The second Waltzer's grip appeared to be tight as Nelson observed the inquisitor wince slightly. The second Waltzer used his iron grip to move the first inquisitor aside, leading him by his hand, and spun around the chair before taking a seat. He sat backwards in the chair and faced Nelson. "If you tell me what you did wrong, I will never beat you up and I will never let you down. Basically, I will never run around and hurt you."
The second Waltzer inquisitor.
The second Waltzer inquisitor.

All of this was very confusing to Nelson.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Nelson exclaimed as the first Waltzer inquisitor moved his hand so it was hovering just over his sidearm. Nelson's breathing increased as the first inquisitor moved between Nelson and the second inquisitor and leaned over so that his face was within inches of Nelson's.

"You know what you did," the first inquisitor growled. "Just tell us where the bodies are." As he said that, Nelson's expressions bounced between panic and confusion.

"No! You don't understand! I have nothing to do with any bodies!" Nelson hardly even realized he was shouting. "I'm just a worker! I've done nothing wrong." His eyes began to well up with tears.