A/N—1984-influenced… Be warned: taboo use of the second person, but try not to picture "I," the narrator, addressing "you," the audience, but "you," another character.
Here it goes again. The constant chase, the endless run, around and around again. Why must you put up such a fight? It will only wear you out.
I have got you right where I want you. On the ground there, glaring up at me with such a hatred. But the hatred is tinged with fear. You and I both know that. You know that we both know that. And yet you try so valiantly to conceal it. Why is that? Why fight what is true? Why try to suppress your very nature, your true feelings? I gaze at you curiously.
"Hand me that, please," I say, pointing to an object next to you. I know you will not give it to me. After a moment, I bend down and pick it up. My hand is inches away from your head. Briefly, ever so briefly, a thought flits through my mind. So quickly could I lean over and crush your skull between my fingers. But as I say, it is a passing fancy, and one that I take no pleasure in.
I frown and right myself. I hold up the object for inspection. I honestly don't know what it is, nor do I care. I just have the overwhelming urge to destroy something. You are lucky that I chose to take it out on this thing. It turns to dust between my forefinger and thumb.
"You know," I say, glancing at you, "you are still on the floor. Why won't you get up? It is quite dirty down there."
"What do you want from me?" you spit. Literally. I wrinkle my nose in disgust at the sight of the speck of projectile saliva.
I shrug carelessly. I will not answer, because I do not know the answer myself.
"Perhaps you would like to be acquainted with your quarters?" I suggest civilly. "I'm afraid you might stay here for a while."
I hold out my hand for you to lift yourself up. You ignore it like I knew you would and lift yourself up. You stare defiantly at me, I gaze calmly back. You really are intriguing to me. I would like to know what exactly goes on inside that head of yours.
In fact, I plan to know. Unfortunately for you, it might not be quite so pleasant.
I turn the dial and your body arches off the floor with the shock of pain. You grit your teeth trying not to cry out, not to show weakness. Tears leak from the corners of your eyes, squeezed out through clenched eyelids. I let my hand linger on the dial before turning the pain off. You slump back down and begin to convulse. A few beads of sweat line your brow.
"Let's try that again, shall we?" I ask evenly. My expression is stoic, but I am really incredibly interested. The sight of you writhing in pain whispers to a deep unconscious nature within me. Like a shark smelling blood a mile away from a dying fish. Something stirs in the back of my consciousness, a black nature lurking around the fringes of my being.
"Don't…" you manage to choke out. Your voice is shallow, strained. "Don't… not again…"
"Why are you running from us?"
You remain silent. I wonder, truly I do. You are so young. You have your whole life ahead of you. What made you stray? What made you think you were quicker, smarter, better than us? Better than me? Were you forced? Did you rebel of your own free will?
Free will. I nearly snort. There is no such thing.
"Why are you running from us?" I ask again, this time louder, as if an increase in volume might make my question clearer. You shift. In that tiny movement, I can detect a shaking of the head. You have effectively communicated, 'No.'
I sigh and reach for the dial. I turn it a little higher this time. You arch up again, the highest point in the curve of your back nearly three feet off the dirty concrete floor. Your face is screwed up in agony, your jaws nearly locked in an attempt to squelch a scream of pain. Finally your jaws force themselves open of their own will and you let out a primal cry of absolute torture. It is fascinating. But I find that as soon as it touches my heart and the deepest parts of my being, my hand turns the dial to the 'off' position far more quickly than I care to admit.
With a final grunt, you fall to the floor. Your body managed to twist and now your face is flush against the harsh cement. The position of your body, when bound the way you are, must be very uncomfortable. I walk over to you and straighten you out. Tears are flowing steadily down your face, but your eyes are closed.
"Don't touch me," you hiss. My eyebrows rise.
"You fell very awkwardly," I say. "I was making sure you were comfortable, is all."
Your eyes open. They are haunted, but I see something in them that mystifies me. You laugh. At first it is feeble, but it gains in strength after a few seconds. You slowly stop, catching your breath, and stare at me with an ironical look.
"You are a sick, twisted person," you say, your voice still slightly hoarse from your screaming. "You torture me, inflict the most terrible pain on me that I ever felt in my life, and you care if I fall back on myself the wrong way? What in God's name is wrong with you?"
I smile, my eyes closing. A moment like this passes, and then I answer, looking you full in the face.
"I don't want you getting hurt," I say. You stare at me incredulously. "Really hurt, anyway. What has been happening to you, although it must feel incredibly real, is actually purely psychological. You may feel like your spine is stretching to the point of ripping itself apart, but I am actually only stimulating the part of your brain that interprets pain. Your body is completely fine."
Your pupils are dilated. Your hair is matted to your forehead with sweat. You comprehend, I know you do, and yet you still are disbelieving. I do not blame you. What you were going through was incredibly intense.
"This inquisition has worn me out," I declare, rolling my shoulders and shutting my eyes. I hear a faint crack and wince slightly. I did not realize I was so stiff and tense. I look at you. "Would you like some lunch? I myself am famished."
You simply stare at me.
"But get washed up first," I say, frowning slightly in disgust as I sweep my gaze across your form. "You should have some new clothes in your room as well. Just be presentable in a half-hour. We'll be going out."
I turn and walk out without a backwards glance, but I can still feel your eyes boring into my back as I take my leave.
We are eating a wonderful meal of steak and other side dishes that I take no notice of. At first, you only stared at your food, and then at me. I had given you an annoyed look and you finally applied yourself to eating.
It is a shame, really. You eat as if it were your first—or last—meal. I frown as I take a bite of my steak, its sweet and savory flavor filling my mouth and my mind with momentary bliss. I chew slowly and swallow, my eyelids falling as if that would help me concentrate on the flavor more.
I look back at you, the bite of food satisfactorily consumed. In the moments you flick your gaze toward me, I can see a strange blankness in your eyes. Your gaze has gotten progressively more hollow as time has passed. I am eating your soul from the inside out and it shows. Even now, dressed smartly with your hair neatly done, it is evident. Your clothes hang on your frame like a bag on a skeleton, your face has become thin and ghostly.
I regard you with a growing frustration. I don't want this to happen. I don't want you to collapse on yourself. Suddenly the steak tastes like wet sawdust in my mouth. I swallow thickly and take a sip of wine. It is bitter and gritty.
In an instant, I am taken back to a time where I was the one captive. I remember the hulking man that was in charge of my investigation. He was a mean fellow, his face permanently creased in displeasure, and he often spat as he talked. Talked is not the right word; he bellowed, and he had the habit of grasping me by my hair and putting his face inches from mine, like the closer proximity would help his words get through faster.
I remember my cell, bare, dirty, and foul smelling with the faint scent of human excrements and something sour that I can't put a name to. I remember the shock therapy; the agony they had me in, grinding my teeth against cement blocks; the putting a cage around my head and letting vicious rats loose in it and having them attack me, having them go for my nose, my eyes; the breaking down of my resolve until I wished I were dead just to be free, free from the pain, from the—
And then as swiftly as it came, it goes. I am looking at my meal. It could not have lasted more than a few seconds, the memories, but I am slightly disturbed. I shake my head as though that would aid in getting rid of the thoughts. A sigh escapes me.
You look up swiftly. I compose my features into a mask of nonchalance. We stare at each other for a few moments before you break eye contact and resume eating.
I find that my appetite has quite left me. I clear my throat. You look up again, albeit a bit more warily. I take out my wallet and look inside, fingering a few bills. I always have a ridiculous amount of money on my person. I place the wallet on the table without taking anything from it. I stand.
"Wait for the check," I instruct. I smile wryly. "I find that I cannot eat another bite. You are welcome to order anything; what I have will be sufficient, I assure you. I will not be coming back."
I emphasize the last sentence, although unwittingly. My voice somehow become heavier, I feel. You seem astonished for a moment, but quickly school your features into a blank expression. I wonder slightly why. You always conceal your fear, but this is not fear. It is simple surprise. Why do you feel the need to hide it?
I brush my thoughts to the side. I would do no wondering about you for a long while. I will set you free and let you have a period of respite. You will not have to live in constant fear for much longer. Soon you will be able to relax, become comfortable. You can gain weight, live merrily. For all I care you can go back to that insane rebel group you seem to love so much.
Actually, I want you to go back to your revolutionary friends. Go. Maybe I will give you months, maybe I will give you years. But rest assured: I will be back.
But in the meantime, Rest.
I turn and walk away.