Chapter ElevenDevin slowly opened his eyes trying not to be blinded by an intense white light. He was lying on his back and a ceiling fan came into focus. To his right was a white ceramic tile wall. He looked left.
There was another bed with a man lying in it. The man’s eyes were closed. He had a stubbly face. His head was bandaged and there were wires protruding from it.
Devin followed the wires along the mattress, down onto the floor, then back up and into a white box that had green, flickering lights on it. The man’s visible wrist was restrained to the bedrail with a nylon cuff and strap. His ankles appeared to be bound as well.
Devin at first wondered if this was part of the ‘e minor’ trip that had gone awry but no, he was lucid. He was in an infirmary of some sort judging by the smell of iodine and bleach.
“Why is this man next to me restrained?” He asked himself. “Am I restrained as well?” He glanced down. A nylon strap was affixed to each of his wrists. He noticed that his fingernails had grown long. His ankles were bound as well under the sheet. His head began to throb as if a vessel in his brain was about burst. He became dizzy. He heard voices mumbling and saw two men in lab coats with their backs turned to him at the foot of his bed. They were looking at a monitor of some sort. They looked like doctors. One looked over his shoulder at him.
“Is he lucid?” asked the other.
“Let me check.” A doctor came over to Devin’s bedside holding a pen-like device in his hand.
“Where am I?” Devin asked. The doctor with the device didn’t answer. “Where am I?” Devin demanded. The man still didn’t acknowledge him. “He has to be able to hear me,” Devin thought. The doctor took the pen-like device and touched it to Devin’s forehead. It beeped. “Where am I? What is happening?” Devin shouted. The man looked at a tiny indicator on the side of the device.
“He’s lucid,” he said.
“Hmmm. That’s problematic,” answered the other. “You better turn him off quick. We don’t want to screw up the download.”
“Yeah. He’s probably screaming ‘where the hell am I?’ right now thinking we can hear him.”
The doctor went over to a white box at Devin’s bedside and touched the input screen.
Devin opened his eyes. Everything was bright white. He was still lying on his back, looking up at the tiled ceiling.
Did he dream the doctors? If not, how much time had elapsed? Minutes? Days? Weeks? It couldn’t be weeks.
He needed a frame of reference. He looked over at the man in the bed next to him. He was still there. His head was still bandaged but the bandages had been changed. They were smaller, now. The wires were gone from his head as well and he had grown a beard. Several days must have passed.
Devin’s head ached but not as intensely as before. There was an I.V. in his right arm but his wrist was still in restraints.
He looked down towards the foot of the bed. The two men were gone. The monitor they were looking at was gone as well. He looked over at the man next to him again. He didn’t move. Devin wondered if his roommate had woken up at some point and stared back at him asking the same questions.
“Hey,” he whispered trying to get the man’s attention. The man didn’t respond. “Hey, you!” he whispered louder. No response.
Devin looked up and watched the nickel blades of the slowly rotating ceiling fan. He felt fatigue creep over him. His eyes got heavy. “Fight! Stay awake!” It was no use. His lids closed.
Devin’s eyes flickered open. Everything was bright and white. He was still on his back. His wrists were still restrained. His head still ached, but only slightly.
He allowed his eyes to adjust to the light for a moment then he looked over to his left towards his roommate. There was only an empty bed. He looked down at his feet and tried to move his ankles but they were still restrained. He noticed a doctor sitting in a chair at the foot of his bed studying images in a holopad.
“Excuse me…” Devin asked. This time he could feel the hot air move past his vocal cords and out of his mouth. The weakness of his voice surprised him. The doctor acknowledged him by briefly looking up from his pad, then looked back down and continued studying the images.
“Excuse me. Can you tell me where I am?” The doctor abruptly set the pad down, stood up, and left the room.
Devin laid there in silence for some time. He was definitely in a hospital of some kind but he was also a prisoner.
“What did I do?” He asked himself. “Did I do something while in my drugged state? Why does my head ache? Were the wires in my roommate’s head wired into mine as well?”
He pondered these things for a few moments. Then his eyes got heavy and he drifted back to sleep. For the first time since arriving in the infirmary he dreamt. He dreamt of the ocean. It was sunset and there was a cool breeze coming off the sea. The waves gently turned over and swooshed up onto the sand. The foamy water washed the sand from his bare feet. Of all people, Ramielle was there. She was laughing.
“Mr. Moore, wake up!” Devin’s eyes slowly opened. “You’re awake. Good. Here, sit up.” An official looking, but small-framed fellow with ruddy skin and meticulously combed, thin silver hair fluffed Devin’s pillow and helped him to sit up against it. He was wearing a tailored black suit.
“What day is it?” Devin asked.
“Today is June 13. How are you feeling? Are you comfortable?”
“No. Where am I? Who are you? Why do you keep putting me to sleep? Why am I here? Why am I in restraints? How do you know my name?”
A burly man wearing a black NaPol uniform stepped forward and flung Devin’s multi at him. Devin tried to catch it but his wrists were still restrained. It bounced off his chest and into his lap.
“You’ve been up to a lot of illegal activity,” barked the nat.
“Well, let’s see. For starters, illegal immigration. Then there’s carrying false identification. Oh, and smuggling and possession and use and trafficking of illegal drugs,” explained the nat whose coffee breath Devin could smell from six feet away.
“Illegal immigration? But I’m a citizen.”
“You’re a citizen all right, a citizen of Goldstein. That makes you an illegal,” continued the nat as he moved towards Devin. “Anti-pats ain’t citizens.”
“Did you bother to get a travel visa?” asked the man in the black suit. “You know you cannot cross a state line without a visa, Mr. Moore,” he continued. “You’re in a lot of trouble.”
“This is ridiculous,” Devin replied.
“But I’m here to help you,” the man explained.
Devin rolled his eyes at the man’s condescending tone. “Help me? You’re here to help me? How?”
Devin’s reply agitated the nat. Blood flushed into his face. He stepped forward as if he was about grab Devin’s throat with both of his hairy, paw-like hands while Devin lay unthreateningly restrained in his bed. The old man in the suit held him back.
“Who the hell are you and why does this pig of yours want to strangle me?” Devin asked.
The man in the suit pushed the burly nat back as he took a seat next to Devin’s bed. “My name is Axel Morgenthau. I am the Director of National Police.”
“I want a lawyer.”
“We know all about you, Mr. Moore.”
“I said I want a lawyer!”
The Director pulled his chair close to Devin’s side and placed his hand on Devin’s restrained wrist to calm him. “We know everything, Mr. Moore. A lawyer cannot help you, now. Lawyers cannot help anti-pats. We’ve compiled surveillance video of you since you got off the train. We know the very cab you rode in. We picked up the driver and she gave us information on you. We even had her send you to a hotel where we could surveill you more effectively.”
“She’s a true patriot,” chimed the nat.
“We know everything, Devin. We have incontrovertible evidence. You are going to a detention facility for a long time.”
“You need a conviction first.”
“Like I said, you’re an anti-pat. No trial will be necessary. But there is some good news, Mr. Moore. We’ve actually been expecting you for some time. Well, not you specifically but someone like you.” Morgenthau continued.
“We have moles, Devin. Yes. Undercover ops. And they’re back in your little rogue colony up there right now as we speak. They’ve been telling us for a while that your people are planning something. They tell us they are planning an attack of some sort. They tell us you call it ‘The Delivery’.”
“I know nothing of anyone’s plans.”
Morgenthau ignored Devin’s reply and continued, “It seems your people believe we are planning an operation to liberate your colony and it seems as though your people don’t want that to happen. It seems that Goldstein is filled with anti-patriots. Why is that, Mr. Moore?”
“Because they don’t want to be slaves, I suppose.”
“Slaves?” Morgenthau laughed. “This is a democracy. Slaves? Americans are the freest people in the world.”
“Slaves,” Devin replied indignantly. “America is dead.” The nat growled, his face getting even redder.
“Let’s shift gears a little, Mr. Moore. I’m assuming you’ve been exiled? May I ask for what?”
“I broke the law.”
“The only law.”
“Let me guess, you stole something.”
“That’s right. I did it. I’m guilty. But I’ve broken no valid laws here.”
“Valid is what the government says it is.”
“I haven’t injured anyone.”
“But you have, Devin. You have injured someone. You’ve injured society. When you break societies’ laws, no matter how minor they seem to you, you injure society.”
“Society isn’t a ‘someone’. It’s just the sum of people that make it up.”
“Society is greater than that.” Morgenthau rose from his seat. “I can see that they’ve indoctrinated you, Devin. It leads me increasingly to the conclusion that you truly are the Goldstein agent we’ve been waiting for.”
“I wasn’t ‘indoctrinated’ until I got here, until I learned what you people are all about. You’re all savages. You deserve your fate.” Sensing that he had just entered Morgenthau’s trap, Devin tried to back himself out, “…whatever the hell that fate is.” But it was too late. He was caught.
“And so we come to it,” replied Morgenthau.
“What?” asked Devin, coyly.
“What of it?” asked Devin.
The nat popped his knuckles as a jagged, jack-o-lantern grin spread across his fat face.
“We know it’s you, Devin. We know you are going to make it.”
Devin stared down at his wrists which were still tightly fastened by the nylon straps. “So is that what I’m being detained for, suspicion of terrorism?”
Director Morgenthau scratched his head carefully so as not to dislodge his perfectly combed, thin, silver hair. A wide, cosmetically enhanced smile widened across his leathery face further exposing his set of giant horse teeth. “We haven’t charged you with anything yet, Mr. Moore.”
“So why am I restrained? What about my rights?”
“Rights?” Morgenthau laughed. Morgenthau’s giant teeth extruded even further from his freakish grin as he chuckled. His squinty eyes squeezed into tiny black slits. “You anti-pats are always evoking that damn Constitution. Well I’ve got news for you, Devin. It’s just a g** damn piece of paper.”
“So what do you want from me, then?”
Morgenthau’s teeth retracted back into his face. “You know what we want. We want you to show us The Delivery. Turn it over to us, disarmed of course. Then we can talk about modifying your detention.”
“Modifying my detention?”
“Modifying it from long and difficult to long and not so difficult. The choice is yours.”
“That’s not much of a choice.”
“We’re not so generous with anti-pats.”
“You said you searched my hotel?”
“That’s where it is.”
“The Delivery? We swept the entire building. We found nothing useful.”
“It’s in my room, in plain view.”
“There was nothing. Now you’re playing games. Don’t make me turn you over to the examiners. They’re examination methods can be most unpleasant. You see, we already know what you dislike since we’ve already downloaded it from your brain,” Morgenthau explained with a new Cheshire grin.
“It’s there, in plain view. Look again. It’s not what you think. I was surprised by it, myself. The whole thing’s absurd.”
“You are in no position to play games with us. You can start by telling me what it is. That will buy you some time before the examination. Don’t be Quixotic, Devin. You’re cause is totally lost.”
Devin changed tactics. “It’s there, but don’t worry. It can’t do any damage without me.” He was playing a weak hand, but it was all he had left.
“Sounds like he’s a host. Let’s liquidate him now just to be safe,” argued the nat.
“Too dangerous. That might trigger some suicide cell somewhere.” Morgenthau pushed his chair back to the wall. “I’m going to leave now, Mr. Moore. I wish I could say it was a pleasure speaking with you but, unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve made a great deal of progress. I’m going to turn you over to the examiners, now.” The nat grinned with excitement. “Good luck to you. Maybe we’ll get to talk again.”
Devin, dreading the now eminent torture, worked up a burst of defiance as a way of building up his courage. “No! Good luck to you!” he shouted back as Morgenthau was exiting the room. “You just better hope I don’t decide to deliver it right now. That would be very bad for you and especially for your fascist, pig nat, here.”
“Predictable,” lamented Morgenthau as he glanced back. “He appears to be acting disorderly. Please subdue him.”
Finally unleashed, the nat lunged forward and wrapped his fingers around Devin’s throat. He squeezed so tight that Devin’s airway closed shut. Then the blood rushed into his eyeballs and they felt as if they would burst out of their sockets.
Chapter 10 Chapters 13&14 will be available next weekend
Goldstein Republic can be purchased here from Amazon.com