Somehow Michael found himself once more within the walls of Sona. It seemed like only hours ago that his mind had soared as he heard the words, "Maybe you shouldn't be here in Sona," and was escorted out by a team of armed Panamanian soldiers. The other inmates, Whistler included, looked on with mouths agape. Michael was elated. What god had he pleased? How had this happened to him? Had the Company finally left him alone? That was completely unbelievable. As far as Michael could tell, the Company just used and used until all use was gone, and then disposed of the remnants of those lives which they had consumed, as if they were merely trash discarded along the roadside.
How had this happened? How had he been shuffled so nonchalantly back through the front gates of Sona? He just couldn't wrap his mind around it. One minute he was sitting quietly in the army truck, shackles in place. it seemed everyone was sure he was about to pounce out the back at any moment. Next, he was pulled into some kind of military headquarters, slammed into an interrogation room and grilled to no end. What was the plan? Who was behind it? What was Michael to gain? Same battery of questions flooded over him, through him, again and again. He honestly couldn't remember saying anything or hearing anything else. The next memory he had was back in this hellhole.
He stared ahead, no plan, no thoughts other than those which continually assaulted his mind. Back to the basics, he repeated to himself. Same old game, different place. But for Michael's mind, the bombardment remained constant, whether threatening or not, the information came slamming in, unrelenting. No break. No reprieve.
Without thought or intuition, the first morning light brought Michael automatically to the chow line. Breakfast, so they called it, was better than nothing. "Chorizo con tortilla," he heard in the distance. He could handle that today. Sometimes it was just too much fat, but today he needed it.
He could feel eyes all around him, though everyone seemed to keep their distance. Then he heard a voice he recognized. "Jesus Michael! What the hell happened to you?" Mahone's all-too-familiar tone.
"I thought you were out of here," Michael responded, not really sure where the words came from.
"Yeah, me too, but things don't always work out the way we plan, huh?"
Starting over, as if talking to an old friend, Alex continued, "You look like shit!"
"You seriously have no clue? Get your food and come with me," Alex demanded as he guided the other inmate forward with a light push on the shoulder. Michael felt a twinge of pain shoot down his arm and looked toward Alex questioningly, "What did you just do to me?"
"Nothing, man, I'm telling you, you need to get out of the public eye right now." He put a firm hand on Michael's upper back and steered the lost man back toward his cell. No one seemed to want to get in their way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"What the hell is going on?" Lincoln screamed, "What the hell did you do with my brother?" Luckily, Sucre was nearby to translate and to ease the tension between the soldiers and Linc. It could have easily escalated into an all out brawl, which he was sure Lincoln would lose.
Smugly, the commander appraised the two men, the gringo and the Latino. No threat, he determined. With a smile playing at the edges of his lips, he related his most common, most effective bullshit, " Mr. Scofield remains a threat to Panamanian security. After personally spending several hours discussing his role in the events of the past week at Sona, I feel it is in the best interest of the Panamanian people that Mr. Scofield serve the remainder of his sentence within the walls of Sona."
Lincoln was out of his seat in a flash, soldiers rushing in from all directions. "Don't do this Linc!" Sucre whispered as he held him back, "You can't help Mike if you're locked up too."
"I don't know, maybe I can at least protect him," Lincoln countered.
"Shit no, you'll both just be white meat." Sucre paused to let the words hit home, "We need to think, we will figure this out, together, man, I swear, I ain't going nowhere."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next thing Michael remembered, he was lying on a cot with Alex Mahone looking down at him, "Where's Whistler?" he mumbled.
Alex ran his fingers through his own shaggy hair, took a deep breath and sighed, "He's around here somewhere. I'm pretty sure he's trying to steer clear of you and Lechero at the moment." He stepped back to look down at the other man again, "Michael, you are seriously injured, do you have any idea what happened to you?"
Michael tried to rise, but suddenly found his head too heavy to lift. Alex brought him some water and stood back. "As far as I can tell, you basically got the shit kicked out of you, and it looks like whoever did it, really enjoyed it." He reached toward Michael, who instantly shrank back into the cot. "Jesus, Michael, I'm not going to hurt you. I know the signs of interrogation and torture, and you seem to have your share...no memories?"
Michael shook his head silently as he tried to digest the words. Alex leaned forward and lifted the sleeves of Michael's shirt, looking over both of the younger man's arms. Hidden among the masses of ink, bruises and cuts, he discovered the sure signs of needle marks, probably several.
"What day is it?" Michael suddenly wanted to know.
"It's Thursday, Alex responded. "I think you were gone three days. No one thought you'd be back. I was already trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get out of here without your brainpower..."
"I don't think I have any brainpower left," Michael interrupted, "I'm flooded with signals, but none of them seem to connect."
"You'll get it back, Michael, your body's still full of chemicals. It's just going to take some time." Alex started a more thorough head-to-toe exam of Scofield's body, "By the looks of you, I'd say you are lucky you don't remember the last few days. I wouldn't try to, if I were you." Alex continued his mission under Michael's skeptical gaze, "This is my world, remember, let me check and make sure you're going to survive this. I'm not going to hurt you, Michael. I really need you healthy and back on track."
Slightly less anxious, Michael laid his head back against the mattress and let Alex go to work. Satisfied with his examination, Alex reported to the other inmate that he believed Michael would survive. "You are seriously beat-up, a couple broken fingers, and at least bruised ribs, maybe broken, I can't tell for sure."
Once again stepping back from the cot, Alex ran a hand across his sweaty forehead. "You have more bruises and shallow cuts than I can count. A few burns as well, but none too severe. It doesn't seem like they were trying to kill you. All your major organs seem to have escaped significant injury. It looks like they wanted to make a point, send a message, but I don't know to whom. Think, Michael, what information do you have that they would work so hard to get?"
Alex walked toward the other inmate, the glass of water in hand. Michael again shook his head, seemingly lost in his thought, "I don't know anything. I can't figure it out. I have no clue what the Company wants with Whistler, but there is more to him than he lets on." Then he accepted the proffered drink without even raising his head. He drifted off to sleep not uttering another word.
Once the younger man was asleep, Alex wandered out of the cell in search of Whistler. He didn't tell Michael that they had been working together to figure out a new escape plan, and he definitely was not going to tell Whistler about the other inmate's suspicions. Wandering across the yard seemingly without purpose, he spotted Whistler in a distant corner, trying to remain inconspicuous.
Whistler looked up suddenly as he approached, "You scared the crap out of me! How's Michael? He looked like shit when they brought him back inside."
"He looks even worse than that. I'd say those boys had a field day with him. It's been a long time since I've seen anything like it. They weren't trying to kill him, but they wanted him to feel like he was a goner, that's for sure."
"Damn, this is all my fault," Whistler admitted, "I shouldn't have allowed this to go on. Right now, I just need to get out of here, and I can fix this thing, I swear."
Alex closed in on the other inmate and looked menacingly into his face. "I really don't know what's going on with you, but when you go, I'm right there with you, and if you think otherwise, I will kill you before you hit the fence." Alex said in his most intimidating FBI voice.
"No worries, mate. I need you as much as you need me. We're both going to get out of here." Whistler got up and headed toward the mess, fairly sure Lechero was no where near.
Alex turned and watched him leave, making a mental note that Whistler had not even mentioned Michael in the new plan. He knew he couldn't trust this man, and he would not make that mistake. Four days without drugs left him anxious, but clearer headed than he had been since entering Sona.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~