Set S6, no spoilers, rated PG13, warning for possible clichedness.
His hands palmed the walls from corner to corner, starting at the bottom near the floor and sweeping upwards in search of something: a window ledge, a handle, or the crook where the wall met the ceiling. But there was nothing there. He could stand on his toes, he could reach up as high as humanly possible, and all he could feel was more cool rock.
Only... it didn't exactly feel like rock. It was smooth in some places, rough in others, with no noticeable seams between the changing textures. Most of the time the surface was completely solid, but sometimes when he put his weight against certain spots it almost felt like the wall bent beneath his hands. But maybe it was just his imagination.
The walls were black. So was the floor, and if the cell had any ceiling it was black as well. The air was black. Jack's hand, waved insistently in front of his face, was also black.
Not a single ray of light, natural or otherwise, infiltrated the room. It was pitch dark; he could see nothing.
His head hurt. He had a pretty good idea why. The last thing he remembered was Teal'c shouting - some wordless call of alarm - and then an explosion above and a raining down of what had most definitely been rocks. His shelter had been behind a stone outcropping at the base of the cliff, and the Jaffa he'd been going at it with had either accidentally or purposely sheered off part of the cliff face above him. He was lucky he hadn't been killed.
Or, all things considered, maybe not so lucky. He'd done the Goa'uld prisoner thing before, after all, and he wasn't exactly looking forward to the sequel. The fact that they'd been battling Osiris' Jaffa and not Ba'al's didn't exactly warm the cockles of his heart, either, because not only was the woman a complete bitch - according to all reports - she was also in the service of Anubis.
Jack was in no big hurry to meet Anubis. He hated to judge based on reputation alone, but, well, he was human and fallible, and Anubis just didn't sound like the kind of guy he'd invite over for a barbeque.
Hands held out in front of him, he toddled further into the middle of the room and stood very still, trying to sense any kind of movement or vibration that would indicate he was in a moving vessel of some kind. Nothing. The air was stale and the room so silent that he could have been buried under a hundred miles of dirt.
Which really wasn't a positive thought.
Not that positive thoughts were all that easy to come by. Jack figured that this was part of the interrogation technique: leave the guy alone until he's so bored and so driven mad by the tedium of his own company that he'll answer your questions simply to be able to talk to somebody. It was fairly standard.
On the other hand, it was also fairly un-Goa'uldish. Isolation was a technique used by people who wanted to refrain from beating their prisoner into a bloody pulp, which could later testify to his mistreatment. It was an innocuous and utterly hands-off approach to questioning, and the Goa'uld were nothing if not hands-ON when it came to extracting information. Why leave him to languish in this box when they could attempt to torture him into telling?
Ooh, more positive thoughts.
He looked up towards the unseen ceiling. He blinked. It made no difference. The world with his eyes open was as black as the space underneath his eyelids.
"The room service here sucks," he declared, just in case someone was listening. The sound came out funny. He could hear his voice in his own head just fine, but it didn't seem to get far once spoken. Like the sound hit a wall and just died.
Jack sighed and wandered over to the nearest corner, using his hands to feel his way. When all else failed, the best he could do was learn about his surroundings. This was obviously limited, what with whole not being able to see thing, but he wasn't completely helpless. He began to take very careful, measured steps against the wall. Toe to heel, heel to toe, counting each one. Twenty-two steps before he ran into the far corner.
He turned ninety degrees and began to repeat the process. Twenty-two steps.
Four walls to his cell, each exactly the same distance apart. What did that mean?
Well... nothing. It meant nothing, except that now instead of just suspecting that he was in a pitch-black room, he knew that he was in a pitch-black room with four walls of exactly the same length. Right. THAT was helpful.
He slumped in a corner. The floor felt exactly the same as the walls: rough, smooth, cool. He'd come to lying on that floor, on his back with his hands oddly positioned over his stomach. His first thought had, quite naturally, been where the hell am I and who turned off all the lights?
His second thought - and his third and forth and many thoughts from that point on - had been about the others.
During the firefight he'd been separated from them; that was why he'd taken cover under that stupid cliff in the first place, because the attack had come so suddenly that they hadn't been able to properly strategize. They'd simply dropped towards the nearest cover. For Jack that had been the doomed outcropping. For Carter and Jonas it had been a fallen log with such a great diameter that she'd been able to kneel safely behind it, firing at the Jaffa. Teal'c had swerved to his right when the others had gone to their left, and he'd also been partially isolated behind a protruding section of the cliff.
The ambush had come quickly. The Stargate was only a five-minute walk back the way they had come, less if they ran. And oh, Jack intended to run, as soon as he could get in the clear.
And then it had happened. BOOM. Rattle-rattle. Ouch.
There had only been three, from what he had seen. Carter, Teal'c and Jonas could take three Jaffa with no problem. But... if they had... why was he here? Even if he HAD been buried in the avalanche, he was pretty much certain that the rest of the team wouldn't have just overlooked him. And that only left two options: either Carter had found a way to get them all clear but had been chased back to the Gate, leaving her no time for a rescue operation... or they HADN'T been able to take three Jaffa with no problem, and they were all captives, just like he was.
And the thoughts just kept getting happier.
If the others had been captured, they were either dead or they were in similar cells. He believed the latter; he had to, and it made sense that the Goa'uld would want them alive and breathing for questioning. He just... he couldn't see either Carter or Teal'c going down without some kind of fight, and even Jonas had a respectable amount of spunk. If they had been captured, was it possible that at least one - or more - weren't injured, dying, dead?
All he knew was that he was alone in the room. He'd crossed from wall to wall quite a few times now; he would have tripped over a body at some point.
Restless, Jack jumped to his feet, or at least performed an approximation of a jump by an old guy with bad knees. He began to walk the diameter of the room again, trailing his hand along the wall this time, searching intently for a joint of some kind that would indicate a door. Because there HAD to be a door. No matter what, they hadn't just dropped him down from a hole in the ceiling.
It was at step twenty that things got ugly, because that was when he walked into the adjacent wall.
Which was impossible, right? He'd been walking heel to toe, toe to heel, just like before. He couldn't possible have... he must have miscounted.
He turned and paced out the length of the next wall. Twenty again.
He was certain that he hadn't miscounted the first time. Which meant that the room had somehow become two steps shorter in every direction.
The walls... had moved.
Yes, the abilities of positive thinking had now reached a whole new level. He was in a pitch black room with four walls that were slowly, steadily moving in on him, closing in until they squished him into something tall and skinny and unpleasant. Hey, maybe the unseen ceiling was descending as well, and would eventually compact him into a neat, perfectly square Jack cube, like the derelict cars at the junkyard.
This was not a form of torture that he was familiar with. Maybe it wasn't torture at all. And maybe the room wasn't dark. Maybe he'd been blinded during the avalanche, maybe he had a headache for a very good reason, and maybe Osiris was watching him stumble around a perfectly-lit cell with moving walls that would eventually crush his bones and liquefy his internal organs.
Jack's mouth had been dry. Now it turned full-on Sahara. That had been Carter's voice. Faint, kind of warbly, but Carter. Shit, shit, shit. She was here after all. They had her in one of these cells and they were going to kill her too... or maybe she was with Osiris. Maybe they were making her watch this.
"Can you hear me? Sir, it's going to be okay."
Now THAT was powerful positive thinking. Good for Carter, he thought, counting the distance from corner to corner for a third time. Eighteen.
"You just have to hold on."
It sounded like her voice was coming from the wall to his left. He couldn't be sure, but he pressed his ear against it anyway. "I'm here, Carter."
"I'm right here."
"Yeah, good, great. Listen, can you feel any kind of door on your side? There has to be some kind of door."
"I'm not going anywhere."
He resisted the urge to bang his head against a particularly smooth spot. He could barely hear her voice; she had to be misunderstanding some of his words. He raised his voice. "You don't have to go anywhere. Just feel around. If you can see... look for a door."
For a while, nothing. And then her voice again. "Everyone else is gone."
Everyone else? He swallowed, or would have if he'd been able to work up the saliva. Jonas and Teal'c... "It's okay," he tried to reassure her, "We'll find them after we get out of here."
"I'm still... here," she said. At least that's what he thought he heard. Sometimes there seemed to be a syllable missing, part of a word dropping off into the ether or absorbed by the strange material between them. "I don't know why."
Jesus, what if they were coming for her next? What if they were going to do to her what they were doing to him right now? "Don't think about that. Just look for the door, Carter." His own hands searched frantically; found nothing. Why did he think that her results would be any different?
"You just have to hold on, sir."
Something rose in his throat and for one disgusting moment he assumed that it was his lunch. Then it gurgled and popped and he realized it was laughter, laughter at a time like this, hysterical and slightly mad laughter. "Carter, no one's going to come looking for us until they realize we're missing. That could be an entire day. We can't just hold on." In actuality he had no idea how long he had been wandering around in the darkness, how long since the ambush and their capture. In a way it seemed like he had been at it all day, but at the same time he felt like he had just woken up.
"Can you hear me?" Carter asked, her voice little more than a whisper in the dead air.
Laughing cloying his throat, Jack pressed his hands, his forehead, his body against the strange cool material. He knew that if he reached out to the side with one hand he would be able to feel the wall pressing in on him.
"I can hear you," he said softly, too softly for her to hear, "I just can't find the door."
A quiet place, lights dimmed, sounds muted. Voices in the distance, boots passing by without stopping, the daytime hum of activity pushed and prodded into background noise.
Alone in this part of the quiet place, she leaned towards him.
"Sir? Can you hear me?"
Beneath his bandaged skull, there was nothing in his face to indicate that he could. But she tried anyway.
"Sir, it's going to be okay. You just have to hold on. I'm right here," she promised, inching closer, as close as her seat would allow. "I'm not going anywhere. Everyone else is gone," she added, looking around the sleeping infirmary. "I'm still here, though... I'm right here."
She felt so stupid, so self-conscious. Speaking to a man who was all but dead to the world. Talking to him as though he could hear her. "I don't know why," she confided, and immediately felt guilty. None of this had been his fault. Luck had gotten them into the ambush, and luck had gotten them out of it... but not before all that rock had come crashing down on the Colonel.
Most of the time, she didn't eliminate the enemy with anything approaching pleasure. But she had enjoyed killing those Jaffa.
And if he died, that sick pleasure would be all she had to cling to.
She wanted to put her head on the edge of the bed, just for a moment, but the rail was up and she didn't have the strength to lower it. Instead she rested her forehead against the cool metal bar and closed her eyes. "Can you hear me?" she wondered aloud, feeling drowsiness rising out of her depression, overwhelming and undeniable.
Sleep swarmed over her.
She thought she heard the rasp of a latch and a creaking of hinges.
But maybe it was just a dream.