Sharkey hauled Carrot into the next room, where he dumped him unceremoniously on the floor. He walked over to the middle of the room and lifted a metal ring concealed in the floorboards. A hidden trapdoor opened up. A flight of stone steps led down into a cellar.
Watts remained in the other room, rummaging through the contents of a large wooden chest. It was filled with various weapons, most of them instantly recognizable; but there were also other, more sinister looking devices too. It also contained a length of rope, several sets of handcuffs, and a box filled with strange glass vials. For now, he selected a thin dagger, two pairs of cuffs and a crossbow, and then he kicked the chest closed again. He followed Sharkey into the other room.
Sharkey had already managed to drag Carrot’s body down into the cellar unaided. Watts grinned. He’d made the right choice in employing Sharkey’s help. He wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the box, but he was strong, willing and didn’t ask too many questions. Watts followed him the cellar, closing the trapdoor behind him.
“Here,” he said, handing the crossbow to Sharkey; it was already loaded and cocked. “Keep it aimed at him, but don’t fire unless you have to.” As an afterthought he added, “He’s no use to us dead.”
Sharkey took the crossbow wordlessly. He’d long ago gotten used to Watts speaking to him as if he was dim. Watts seemed to equate size with stupidity, which meant he thought Sharkey was about as bright as a penny candle.
“You’d better see he wears these, too,” said Watts, handing him the cuffs.
There was a groan from the floor as Carrot came round. He rubbed the back of his head as he struggled to focus on the unfamiliar surroundings. “Where am I?” he said groggily.
“Just do as you’re told and you won’t get hurt,” said Sharkey.
Carrot tried to focus on the source of the voice. “Who are you?” he said. “What do you want with me?”
Watts squatted in front of him, flaunting the thin dagger. “You, my friend, are our ticket to a better life.”
“You know, assaulting a Watchman is a serious offence,” said Carrot. “Commander Vimes says—”
“Oh, you don’t need to tell us anything about Commander Vimes,” Watts sneered. “We know all about him.”
“Good!” said Carrot. “Then you’ll know how much trouble you’re in!”
Watts poked him in the chest. “No, you’re the one in trouble, sonny,” he said nastily. “Leastways, you will be if your commander doesn’t come up with the goods.”
Watts laughed, showing two rows of broken and uneven teeth. “Yeah, that’s right. We reckon your commander will pay a tidy sum to get you back. In fact, we were lucky to stumble across you like we did, you made our job a whole lot easier.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“I meant we didn’t set out to get you; your commander was the one we were after. We reckoned his wife would have paid handsomely for his safe return.” Watts inhaled noisily through his teeth. “But you see, actually getting hold of him was proving difficult. We’ve been watching him for weeks, and one thing we’ve learned is that he’s not stupid.” He grinned. “He’s more streetwise than you are for one thing,” he said. “I doubt he would’ve followed me into the Shades on his own like you just did.”
Carrot grimaced. He knew he’d been foolish. Vimes would probably kill him himself if he ever got out of here.
“But we don’t need him now,” Watts continued with mock cheerfulness. “Because we’ve got you.”
“W-what makes you think Commander Vimes is going to pay to get me back?” Carrot asked.
Watts leaned closer. “Well, that’s where we struck really lucky,” he said, grinning. “You see, we noticed you two spend quite a lot of time together, don’t you?”
Carrot looked from Watts to Sharkey, worriedly. “That doesn’t mean anything. We work together.”
“I meant... after hours.” Watts managed to say it suggestively.
Carrot remained silent.
“Just as I thought...” said Watts.
“Okay, that’s enough talking,” said Sharkey impatiently. He waved the crossbow at Carrot. “You. Get those clothes off, now.”
“You think we’re stupid or something? We’re not taking chances with a werewolf in the Watch. Now get those clothes off, now!” Sharkey’s crossbow pointed dangerously at Carrot’s chest.
Watts got up. “Better do as he says,” he said, grinning. “His trigger finger gets a bit twitchy when he’s upset.”
“Okay...” said Carrot, eyeing the crossbow nervously. “I-I’m doing it.”
Carrot got up and began to remove his clothes. He undressed slowly, keeping his eyes on the weapon in Sharkey’s hand. He dropped the clothes into a pile in front of him and then stood back.
“I said everything!” said Sharkey, motioning to Carrot’s drawers with his crossbow.
Watts sniggered. “Seems the lad’s a bit shy, Sharkey.”
“This is no time for modesty, boy,” said Sharkey. “Take it all off!”
Carrot removed his drawers and stepped out of them. He added them to the pile with his foot. Then he stood back, trying to cover himself with his hands.
Watts bent down and gathered up the clothes. His eyes lingered on Carrot as he worked. He bundled the clothes into a cloth sack and then stood back.
“Are you sure you know what to do with those, Watts?” said Sharkey.
“Yeah, I’ve got everything I need to lead our werewolf friend a right old merry dance.”
“Well, get to it, then!” said Sharkey. “We’ve wasted enough time already!”
“I’m going, I’m going...” Watts backed up the stone steps clutching the cloth sack. He managed to steal one last look at Carrot before he closed the trapdoor. A moment later, Carrot heard him rummaging through the wooden chest upstairs; there was a faint ‘clink’ of glass before the lid slammed shut.
Sharkey returned his attention to Carrot. “Right, now turn around and put your hands behind you.”
Carrot remained where he was. “Y-you’re not going to leave me like this, are you?”
Sharkey considered him for a moment, and then said in a quiet voice, “Listen, boy. My colleague up there is not a nice person; best you do as you’re told and not upset him, eh? That way, no one will get hurt, and before you know it, it’ll all be over and we’ll all be on our way home, hmm?”
Carrot glanced at the crossbow. He gave Sharkey's words some thought. A moment later, he turned around.
Sharkey clamped the cuffs on him. Carrot winced; the cuffs were small and they pinched as they locked into place.
Sharkey clamped a second, larger set around Carrot’s ankles and then stood back. “Right, now go and sit quietly over there by the wall.”
Carrot sat down on the hard, cold floor, still mindful of the fact that he was naked. He looked totally and utterly dejected, the full gravity of the situation he was in slowly creeping over him. He’d been downright stupid, and because of that stupidity, other Watchmen would soon be out looking for him, most likely endangering their own lives. Gods forbid, it might even be Vimes...
Carrot closed his eyes, trying to push that thought as far from his mind as possible.
Suddenly the trapdoor opened above him, shaking him from his thoughts; Sharkey had gone into the room upstairs. He was rummaging about in the wooden chest. He returned a moment later with a small blanket. “Here,” he said, throwing it over Carrot. “It’s the best I can do.”
Carrot accepted the blanket gratefully, and began shifting about under it, trying to cover himself as best he could.
Sharkey sat down opposite, and watched him. He’s just a kid, he thought. Why in the hells hadn’t Watts waited and got the other geezer like they intended?
Watts has told him all about the other geezer. What was his name again? Vimes? Apparently, he and the kid were devoted to each other, which meant he was probably going to lose it big time when he found out they were holding him hostage. He was a hard bastard too according to Watts; grew up around this area and knew how to fight, and not by fantailler rules either. He could spell trouble for them if they weren’t careful.
Carrot shifted under the blanket. He glanced up occasionally, but Sharkey noticed he was deliberately avoiding eye contact with him.
Poor kid’s half scared to death, he thought. And he’s trying not to show it.
Still, if Watts was right, and this Vimes geezer was as rich as Watts said he was, then maybe he’d just pay up. It would be the simplest thing to do, after all. It wasn’t as if they were asking for much, just enough to get them out of this shit-hole of a city and start a new life elsewhere. Besides, he didn’t want to see the kid get hurt. Watts could be a nasty piece of work if he didn’t get his own way, and that was the only thing wrong with him. He had a cruel streak that was totally unnecessary. It would be better for everyone if things went smoothly...
There was a sudden scrape of metal as the ring in the floorboards was lifted. The trapdoor opened up and light spilled into the cellar.
Watts had returned.
Sharkey got up. “Just remember what I told you, eh, boy?” he said meaningfully, as he started towards the stone steps. Suddenly he stopped and turned around again.
“And you’d best keep yourself covered, too,” he added grimly. “Just to be on the safe side...”