For those who missed the beginning of our fictional account of a full-blown Nazi police state in the US, click here for chapter 1.
Devin was taken to a dark place, a room seemingly without walls. He laid on his back, restrained to a hard aluminum gurney. A halogen light clicked on and beamed a buzzing prominence of white fire into his eyes. The thin membranes of his eyelids offered little defense against the searing rays. He laid there, slowly roasting under the halogen sun for what seemed to be hours.
Am I being watched? He asked himself. Most likely. Am I going to be tortured? Probably. Will I be killed? Maybe. No, probably not. Not right away, anyway. He repeated and answered those questions in his mind over and over. There was no new information to process, no means of answering with any more certainty than the moment before yet he repeated asking and answering the questions again and again while restrained on his back on the gurney under the white hot halogen sun.
Devin did not want to be tortured. He was not particularly brave and he had a low pain threshold. Nor did he have any loyalty to Goldstein, or so he thought. He didn’t want to be a martyr for them or for anyone else for that matter.
Torture was supposed to be illegal, anyway. But that was the hypocrisy of NaPol. The legal system which they were charged with enforcing clearly did not apply to them. Such as it was with all government.
It was unlikely that the download of his consciousness would enable the nats to discern anything actionable about The Delivery. Human thoughts are not written out in long hand like a journal. The hotwire technique captured an alchemy of sensory perception. There are frames and flickers of images, bursts of scent, pitches and tones, tactile sensations, the occasional uttered or written word. Emotional responses of fear, excitement, sadness, anger, joy come out. These could all be downloaded via hotwire implant with great ease by the NaPol specialists but assembling them into anything coherent was more art than science.
They couldn’t possibly know what The Delivery was just by probing Devin’s consciousness, not with any certainty. But they could know the incendiary fire of hatred that he felt towards the abusive nats which was based upon his recent, brutal experiences with them. The animosity downloaded from his brain was a parameter that fit neatly into the nat’s profile of a ‘motivated anti-patriot’. It gave them a pretext to torture him for all the laws and rules could be suspended so long as it could be shown that there was an ‘emergency’.
Had he not been abused by the nats he would not have built up so much animosity. Lacking pretext, the nats would then have to just blatantly lie in order to justify torture. That made them somewhat uneasy.
Now Devin’s mind was clear and he knew what was in store for him. They were going to torture him until he revealed The Delivery and he would sooner or later give them what they wanted. To hell with Goldstein, anyway. He had no intentions of being their sacrificial errand boy.
But what would happen after he gave them what they wanted? They would certainly not accept it. It was preposterous. They would not believe him and would just throw him back into a cell to await another round of ‘aggressive interrogation’. He laughed.
When will the interrogators show up? What was taking so long? Where were they? He thought.
“Come on now! I’ll tell you everything! I’ll give you what you want!” He shouted.
The hot rays of the halogen star burned his face. He felt the heat soak into his eyes through his closed his eyelids. He was already exhausted and it had only been a few hours. He wanted desperately to sleep. He was certain that they must have drugged him.
Don’t do it. Don’t give it to them, he thought to himself. To hell with them. Let them torture me.
“Torture me, you bastards! I won’t give you anything,” He shouted.
His shoulders ached. He was becoming restless and fidgety but hopelessly trapped in the nylon straps holding him down against the gurney. He couldn’t stand another minute of being restrained.
He decided to beg them to unbind him and he would give The Delivery to them in exchange. They weren’t savages, after all, they’re government officials. Government officials don’t torture needlessly. He took a deep breath and called out. The words came out differently than he expected…
“You all go straight to hell!”
Why did I say that? He thought. That was a big mistake, a huge mistake. I squandered my goodwill. Soon the nat goons will storm into the room and torture me for sure. They’ll come with pliers for my fingernails. Maybe they’d bring electrodes for my testicles. Maybe a hammer for my thumbs. Maybe acid. Beg for mercy! Beg for it before they come, he thought. He took a deep breath and called out again…
“Why don’t you bastards come in here and do it!”
Maybe an old-fashioned, leather-gloved beating awaited him, he thought. Maybe simulated drowning. Maybe choking. Maybe a red hot iron. Maybe dogs. Not dogs! I hate dogs! Beg for mercy. Do it.
“Do you hear me you bastards? I’m not afraid of you! You go to hell you…”
Maybe they would drill holes into his teeth. Maybe he would have his skin ripped off with tiny hooks. Maybe they would stretch him on a rack.
“Rot in hell, you! Rot in hell! I’ll never give you anything.”
He fell silent. He lay there for another hour focused only on his breathing under the blazing white sun.
The lamp went off. The buzzing stopped. He was alone in a deep space of total, silent darkness. It was suffocating, complete silence save for his own breathing which had become so loud against the void that he had to quiet it by breathing carefully through his mouth. It was unimaginably, perfectly, totally dark; dark to the point that he couldn’t gauge the distance to his own limbs.
It was so completely dark that he felt he would never see anything again. He wondered if he had been blinded by some hotwire brain tinkering. The horror of blindness welled up in his mind. Am I really blind? He asked himself. The nats could easily control his visual cortex by keystroke entry.
A blue halo appeared. Was it put there by them? Were they planting hallucinations into his brain? Every direction he looked he saw the blue halo set upon total blackness.
No, he wasn’t blind, he decided. The halo was left by the light of the lamp. It had burned a silhouette into his visual receptors.
The air was completely still. It was neither warm nor cool. He couldn’t even feel it as he sucked it in.
Devin recalled how when he was a teenager a schoolmate that he knew had drowned. The springtime runoff was turbulent and icy cold and the poor boy fell into it after slipping off a stump along the banks. The icy current paralyzed him for just a moment and that delay was enough to sweep him away as horrified onlookers watched helplessly from the shore. His body was found snagged on a branch a mile downstream, white and rigid.
Devin received the horrible news from neighbor kid. “Drowning ain’t so bad,” the kid explained. “My dad says that once you breathe in water, you don’t feel nothin’ no more. It’s like you’re just breathin’ normal but then you go to sleep.”
Devin never believed him. He often envisioned the poor drowning boy, flailing about in the icy water, choking, fighting, grasping, pulled under, expecting, praying for a benevolent god-hand to reach down and rescue him, but no hand would come.
Now, as Devin lay restrained and drowning in a pool of silent blackness awaiting eminent torture or death, he felt like flailing about, ripping the straps loose from the gurney and bolting into the darkness. It was useless. He could not break free. And there would be no benevolent god hand to reach down and rescue him.
How much longer? He asked himself not quite sure if he was asking out loud or not. It had been another hour.
He thought about Director Morgenthau, dressed in his tailored black suit, close by somewhere, sitting behind a pane, smirking at the greenish hues of the infrared feed— Devin strapped to his aluminum gurney, his white pupils darting blindly to and fro in the darkness.
Devin hated Morgenthau. He wanted to kill him. He wanted to kill him like an animal, ripping out his arteries with his teeth. He hated him more than the nats that had choked him and pulsed him in the street. Devin hated them, too but he felt pity for them. They were just mindless goons, brainless henchmen executing the orders of their lieutenants. Morgenthau, however, knew better. He had chosen the role of torturer. He had profited from it. His soul was willing and corrupted by it. There was no forgiveness for a willing and corrupted soul. Ignorance and fearful compliance were forgivable. Willing corruption was not.
Another hour passed, or so Devin thought. How many, now? Four? Five? Six hours? He had no idea. He wished for a breeze or a creaking noise in the ceiling or a sliver of light. There was nothing, just intergalactic blackness and the whooshing sounds of his breathing.
Then there was something. There was a faint ringing, an ultra high-pitched tone in his ears. Is it in my ears? He thought. It grew louder, slowly, barely, but perceptibly louder. It was mostly in his right ear. Then it bored through his brain and into his left. They are into my brain again! He thought. He was convinced of it.
The drilling, buzzing noise grew louder than even his breathing. Maybe it’s my ears? He thought. No, they’re in my brain. I’m certain of it. Stay sane, he ordered himself.
Was the sound being blasted into the room? He pondered. Yes, it had to be. There must be a speaker somewhere. He turned his head different directions attempting to coordinate the location of the speaker. The pitch remained un-locatable. He shrugged and cringed in his restraints.
It must be in my head, he thought. It must! They are in my brain again. They’re in my brain like worms boring tiny little tunnels.
“Get out!” He shouted. “Get out of my head you bastards!”
Relax, he assured himself. There’s no pain. Easy. Breathe. Concentrate on something else. Breathe.
What was the sound? Internal or external? He couldn’t determine. All he could do was try to remain calm and breathe.
Worms! He fought off images of the worms, the worms that were boring into his inner ears. He imagined the ocean but the hornets from the Em trip reappeared. He blacked that out, too. But then the worms returned. He could feel them, now. He was certain of it. The ringing was their tiny squeal as they drilled through his eardrums. They would devour his brain. They had to be pulled out.
“Get them out! Stop! Stop them!”
There’s nothing there, he assured himself. They are playing the buzz through speakers. They aren’t in your brain. There are no worms.
“I’m on to you! I know what you are doing! Go to hell.” He shouted.
His voice drowned out the ringing. Should I keep shouting? He asked himself. No, that’s what they want. Shut your mouth. Don’t give them anything. No more talking. Don’t even give them the satisfaction of knowing you are losing your mind. The ringing eventually stopped after another hour or so.
Silent blackness again. Devin tried to come up with ideas to occupy his mind. He tried to imagine Mozart. The music wouldn’t come as he couldn’t remain focused. He struggled to devise some other method of remaining sane. The only thing he could come up with was counting. He decided to count to one thousand.
“One, two, three, four…” He mouthed the numbers slowly but did not make a sound.
“Nineteen, twenty, twenty-one.” He started to curl his right big toe in cadence.
“One hundred, One hundred one, one hundred two…” The ringing reappeared as a faint din in the background.
“Three hundred and seventy, three hundred and seventy one, three hundred and seventy two…” His right foot began to fatigue. He switched to his left index finger.
“Nine hundred and seven, nine hundred and eight, nine hundred and nine…” He created intricate, rhythmic patterns between tapping his toes, rolling his ankles, and grinding his teeth to match the counting. It was working. It kept the worms away.
“Nine hundred ninety eight, Nine hundred ninety nine, One thousand.”
He paused in the silence and the blackness. The buzzing immediately grew louder. He had to urinate. He sighed and continued on.
“Fifteen hundred and one, fifteen hundred and two…” The urge to piss turned into a burning pain.
“Two thousand and fifty two, two thousand and fifty three, two thousand and fifty four.” He had to flex and contort to drive back the pressure.
“Five thousand and six, five thousand and seven, five thousand and eight…I’ll just go at six thousand,” he bargained with himself. Six thousand came and went. Cramps pulled his stomach into knots.
“Ten thousand two hundred and six.” There were now long pauses between numbers. “Ten thousand two hundred and seven, ten thousand two hundred and eight…” He couldn’t hold it any longer. He let go. The warm liquid seeped up the gurney towards his neck between the metal surface and the skin of his back. It itched as it crawled along under his skin. He was helpless against it. He stopped counting. The buzzing abruptly stopped as well.
Lying in the void, soaked in his own urine, his eyelids began to sink down over his eyes. He had no fight left for this day. His breathing relaxed. He unclenched his fists. His eyes fully closed and relaxed. He felt the sensation of falling backwards. His mind began to roam.
The blaring tone roused him. Did I dream it? He didn’t care. Back to sleep. Eyes heavy. Exhaling effortlessly. Body relaxing. Eyes closing. Falling backwards…
He shook his head faintly. It had to be a dream. He was fatigued. Sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep when you’re physically exhausted- your mind plays tricks. He drifted off again. Falling backwards…
This time it was louder. It was real. He knew its purpose. He opened his eyes. Blackness. Silence. He waited for it. Was it on an interval? Was it some machine set nearby? Nothing. No sound. He waited longer. Nothing. Waiting. Nothing. Blackness. Waiting. Silence. His eyes got heavier. They started to close. He could feel his eyes rolling back and his mind unfolding…
“Damn it,” he muttered under his breath.
No matter, he thought. I can sleep through it. I’m exhausted. He relaxed. He began to drift backwards again into unconsciousness. He was dreaming. He saw the leathery, horse-toothed face of Director Morgenthau hovering over him with a pulse emitter in his hand but he knew he was asleep and dreaming. Then the Director had a look of terror in his eyes, he dropped the pulser and his boney fingers turned into claws.
He was awakened again. The cycle continued. On and on it went. He was kept awake for many hours. First it was annoying, then deeply frustrating. His frustration turned into anger and then boiled into rage. Then exhausted, he drifted back. Beep. They woke him again. His rage dissolved into whimpering and groveling. He sobbed.
After several hours his mind began to betray him. He saw shadows within the shadows but then there was nothing there. Or was there? A man with knives! No. Nothing.
He heard sounds other than the beeping. There were whispering voices. Conversations? He listened intently. They were just beyond the range of intelligible.
They were teasing him with words and sentences that he could not decipher. His eyes closed several times. His mind began to drift. Beep. Beep. Always at the moment that he was about to slip irretrievably into sleep— Beep!
He raged. He cried. He calmed. He drifted. Beep. He wept. He begged. He floated away. Beep. He cursed them. He clenched his fists and tried to flail about but the nylon straps held him tightly in the puddle of his own dried, itching urine.
How long can this go on? He thought to himself.
He drifted. Beep. His anger turned inward. His breathing became deliberate and forceful.
“Where are you?” He thought to himself but he wasn’t thinking it he was screaming it.
The voices around him ceased, scattered by his shouting. Were they real? No, a figment of my imagination, he thought. Did they put them in my head? No, you’re exhausted. Sleep deprived. What was that? Dogs! No. It’s nothing. Stay calm. Tired. Eyes closing…
How much longer? An hour? A day? A week? A human can’t last a week. How long has it been? An hour? Five hours? Twenty hours? He thought.
It continued. Exhaustion. Relaxing. Mind drifting. The sensation of falling. Beep. A hundred times at least. Over and over and over. He had no energy left for shouting or begging or even sobbing.
A shadow within the blackness swept past his gurney. He couldn’t see what it was. He could only faintly hear the sweeps of pant legs against each other and footfalls of soft-soled shoes. Something approached, then leaned over him.
No, it’s a dream. There’s no one there, he thought but he spat at them anyway.
Give them what they want.
No, give them nothing. You have nothing for them. You’re dead if you give it to them.
You’re dead regardless.
Give them nothing. There’s nothing to give them. It’s not what they want, anyway.
“What was that?” Something scurried up his leg.
A rat? No, not big enough, he thought. An insect? A spider? The crawling ceased. Where is it? Under me?
It’s not real. It’s in your mind.
He felt it creeping along his ribs and under his arm. Tiny little legs, small bursts of scurrying, creeping closer to his neck.
It’s definitely real. What is it?
It’s nothing, a spider. It’s harmless. Calm down. He thought to himself.
“Get it off! Get it off me!” He screamed. “Get it off me! Get it off! Get it off me! Get it off me!”
He pulled at the straps. He was helpless. He tried to shake it off.
The crawling stopped.
There’s nothing there. It’s your brain. You’re exhausted. You’re imagining things, he thought.
Then he felt it again.
“No, it’s there! I feel it!” He shouted.
Relax. It’s just a spider or something. It’s harmless.
“I want it off! Get it off!”
Calm down. Breathe. It’s not real.
The crawling stopped.
He laid there hyperventilating for a few minutes waiting for it to return. Nothing. He waited still longer, helplessly strapped to the gurney in a puddle of dread and dried piss in intergalactic nothingness. He was nothing, sub human.
He was helpless to do anything. He couldn’t even brush it away if it did return. He laid there itching, waiting for a spider that was probably a figment of his imagination or planted in his brain by some specialist working the controls of the hotwire computer behind a glass pane. Some weasel with a pencil thin neck in a lab coat was terrorizing him. He was certain of it. He prayed. He prayed to God that he would get a chance to bash his face in with…
He waited. He waited with clenched fists. He waited with deliberate, short, angry breaths. The insect did not come back. The worms did not return. His eyes got heavy again. He dreaded the ‘beep’ but was helpless to stave off the sleep. His fists unclenched themselves. His breathing became deep and relaxed. He fell backwards into unconsciousness.
Chapter 12 Chapter 14
Goldstein Republic can be purchased here from Amazon.com