"Did you know," Quin asked, "that Kim Jong-il was a robot?"
"Shut up," Terry said.
"It's true. Same model that they tried to set up in those Steel Mills in Iowa. Turns out they're great at running Communist nations, too. Now, I don't know for sure that it was Thomas that took him out, but I don't know of any other Secret American Agents that were in Korea at the time."
"Secret Agent?" Terry said, incredulous.
"Yes sir," Quin said. "You see, his... little adventure in the Dominican caught the attention of certain US agencies. They'd been trying to take out Jose El Papi Jose's Bandoleros for the better part of a decade, and Thomas brought the whole organization to its knees with one home made knife, in one night. When he came back state side, they recruited him, and his first mission was in a certain Communist Dictatorship..."
Thomas was strapped to a dentist's chair. A pipe was leaking water onto the floor behind him, and the only light came from a dim, bare bulb overhead. He reflected on the life that had brought him to this place...
His skill set was, admittedly, unique. Software, religion, foreign cultures. He had the heart of a warrior, tempered in a forge of loss and pain. And, perhaps most importantly of all, he had no close friends, no family.
No one to miss him if he didn't come home.
"Son, we're asking a great deal of you..."
"Think nothing of it, Mister President," Thomas said humbly. "A simple investigation into the Korean Nuclear Weapons program, and the assassination of an international terrorist? I'll be home by the end of the week."
"I hope so," the President said, extending his hand. "Your country thanks you." The President saluted, and Thomas returned the gesture, turned smartly, and boarded the waiting helicopter.
That had been five days ago. He wasn't sure how he had been discovered - perhaps the presence of a six foot tall white man in a nation that forbade foreign visitors had given him away, but it was also possible that he spoke Korean with a slight Mandarin accent. It didn't really matter. It had been foolish to accept a drink from that mysterious beauty at the bar, but he had let his guard down...
Done in by roofies. What a sad epitaph.
And so, here he sat, tied up and awaiting interrogation. He had been briefed in Korean torture techniques. In fact, he had a plan...
"Good day, Mister... Thomas." Thomas looked up. He had been joined by the infamous Korean interrogator, Doctor Painhurter. "And how are you doing today?"
"I'll be doing better once I make the world safe for democracy," Thomas said defiantly.
"Perhaps," mad Korean doctor said. "We shall see. Why don't we begin by explaining what agency you work for, and what your mission is in our glorious nation?"
The interrogation lasted several hours. The mad Doctor Painhurter tried the best tools in his arsenal, all to no avail. He blasted New Kids on the Block music non-stop. He held Thomas' eyes open with toothpicks, and set a television playing the latest reality shows in front of him. He doused him with cold water, and turned on a fan. But Thomas refused to crack.
"Fine," Doctor Painhurter said, "you leave me no choice. You will answer my questions, Mister Thomas. You will." He picked up a pain of pinking shears from his tray of medical equipment, and grabbed Thomas' hand. He studied it for a moment, then grabbed the pinky finger. "Let us start small, shall we?"
Thomas gritted his teeth.
"He never did tell them anything," Old Man Quin said. "Even though they took his fingers, one knuckle at a time." He touched the corner of his eye casually, and no sir, he was not crying.
"What a terrible story," Terry said. "How did he escape?"
"That's the thing," Quin said. "Thomas knew how the Koreans tortured people. In fact, he counted on it. He knew that Doctor Painhurter would start with the smallest, weakest fingers... leaving him the biggest, strongest, deadliest fingers. And when that second finger was gone... his hand was small enough, and slick from all the blood, to slip right out of his restraints. He grabbed those pinking shears, dropped Doctor Painhurter on the spot, and made his escape. Now, I don't know for sure that he used those pinking shears to take out Kim Jong-il... but like I said, I don't know of anybody else that was over there just then."
Terry let out a low whistle. "Man. That's some story."
"Yes, they are," said a calm, chill voice. "Very interesting stories, indeed."
The men looked up and gasped: Thomas was standing there, listening to their every word.
Tune in tomorrow for the Anticlimactic Conclusion to The Legend of the Half Handed Man!