Dave had been ready the first time. Even half-conscious, it hadn’t been hard to figure out their plan when he saw the tub of water they’d brought into the room.
Dave wouldn’t call water his “weakness” exactly, but it was something his super-strength didn’t protect him from. Beating him was a good way to break your knuckles, and trying to cut him was like attacking a tree trunk with a butter knife. His skin was fairly burn-resistant, too, and bullets famously bounced off of him. But he needed to breathe like everyone else.
The tub was big and metal, its sides smeared with dirt. Giordano and the other one—the cat man, Dave couldn’t remember his name—grabbed him and dragged him towards it. Dave didn’t resist, his legs dragging limply across the floor. Part of that was because Madame Morphine had made his limbs feel stiff and distant, but also, he knew he should save his strength.
They dropped him into a kneeling position in front of the tub, the chains around him clinking together at the sudden movement. Dave’s head bobbed unsteadily, and he stared into the tub, seeing individual dirt particles moving in the water. Then hands gripped his shoulders and head, and he took a deep breath.
They pushed his head under. The sudden movement threw him off-balance, and he pulled against their grip, but it didn’t change anything. He could hold his own against Giordano and the cat man normally, but not drugged and restrained like this. The water was lukewarm, and Dave waited, wondering how long they’d keep him under.
This isn’t so bad, he told himself. It was like being in a pool. When he’d been a kid, he used to hold his breath for as long as he could underwater. This was no different. It was fine.
The seconds ticked by, and Dave’s chest began to constrict. He could tell which hand gripping him was the cat man’s by the feel of claws digging into the skin of his neck and scalp. Hands held tight to his shoulders, too, and someone’s elbow or knee pressed against his back. He was beginning to reach his limit, and he tugged experimentally against his captors, but of course they didn’t pull him back up. That was when he realized his mistake. He should have started struggling a while ago, so they’d think he was out of breath prematurely and let go sooner.
Dave jerked and pushed, not having to fake his panic. He was out of air. The kid in the pool would have surfaced right now, but Dave didn’t have that choice. The hands only gripped him tighter. Dave’s eyes flew open, the dirty water stinging them, and he tried to look for some advantage, something—anything—that could help. But all he saw was the metal bottom of the tub.
The need to inhale enveloped him, but he fought it. He didn’t want water in his lungs. All higher thought crumbled away and left only the most basic instinct. Breathe. He needed to breathe.
The hands pulled him up, and Dave gasped for air. His heart pounded with painful force, and he took quick, deep breaths of wonderfully cool—
They pushed him back under.
Dave instantly tried to twist out of their grip. It hadn’t been enough time. He hadn’t been able to catch his breath. He pushed up against the hands with all his strength. He tried to kick at where they stood behind him. It didn’t work. They readjusted their grips and drove elbows and knees more firmly into his back. Dave wasn’t going anywhere.
His chest burned. His lungs felt like they were crumpling in on themselves. How long would they hold him under? If it was as long as last time, he’d never make it. How were they judging when to pull him up? They weren’t experts—if there was even such a thing. They could easily drown him on accident, or give him brain damage if they waited too long. Or was that being optimistic? They’d more likely kill him on purpose.
The tub. If he could just break the tub somehow…. He hit it with his knee, but where normally that would have smashed the metal, he was too sluggish and weak. It jostled the tub; he felt the water slosh. But it didn’t break anything. Someone yanked on the chains around his waist, pulling back his lower body. It destroyed his leverage, sending his head even deeper into the water.
He was past the point where he needed air. He jerked and writhed, barely noticing the water going up his ears. Panic overwhelmed him. In a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure on his lungs, he exhaled slightly, sending bubbles of air past his face. It made things worse. He tried to struggle harder, to signal to his captors that this was it. If they didn’t pull him up now, he was done for. But they either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
The fear that was keeping him on edge slipped, and he felt himself drift. He was going to pass out. Then he wouldn’t be able to stop himself from inhaling. Maybe that was for the best. He wouldn’t…
They yanked him up from the water, and he coughed and sputtered.
They dunked him again. He really wasn’t ready this time. He hadn’t taken a breath or even closed his mouth. Water gushed between his lips and up his nose, and he couldn’t stop himself from coughing again. Precious air left his lungs, and more water flowed in. He choked.
He was drowning. He’d been suffocating before, but this sent a base, unstoppable terror through him. He flailed like a madman. This was it. He couldn’t fight it. They had to pull him up now, or he’d die.
They held him under.
So…I’m just going to leave this chapter here. Sorry, Dave.
Anybody else seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? I had a blast watching it this weekend. Can’t wait for the next superhero movie. I’m gonna be at Wonder Woman on opening night. 😀