Prologue

He closed his eyes. Why wasn’t it coming? Golden sand, the coral blue sea, food and drink without limit…

“Hey.”

A beautiful woman pressed up against him, whispering sweet nothings in his ear…

“You can’t keep doing this, you know.”

Beautiful woman turning into bulky middle aged man, sweet nothings turning into threats and warnings, shouts and screams, the incessant drone that would never let his sleep go unbroken… no, no, golden sand, supermodels in heat, take me back to the paradise city…

“Get. UP.”

Oh, well.

“We know what it’ll take to get you up and talking, and we’re not afraid to do it.”

He took his eyes out of his knees and looked at his omniscient, omnipotent captors.

“We really don’t want to keep doing this to you, but as long as you refuse to tell us what we need to know, we have no choice.”

Ah. Guess I was wrong there.

“I’ve told you the answers to everything you’ve asked me.”

“We know you’re lying.”

“How?”

“We have our methods.”

“Do you? I strongly suspect that. I designed the device. I built it. There is no way for you to test the veracity of my statements without actually turning it on. And I know you haven’t done that.”

“And how do you know that?”

He smiled. Weakly, but it was enough.”I have my methods.”

The taste of blood still made him want to throw up.

***

“Why is it taking so long?”

“He’s answered every question we’ve asked of him. We simply have no way of telling if its true. We were hoping for your cooperation there.”

“I’ve already told you it’s not.”

“Er…”

“Yes?”

“He maintains that you couldn’t possibly know that unless you’ve tried operating it.”

“Well. Be that as it may, I can assure you that he’s lying. You were supposed to persuade him not to.”

“It is difficult to be all that persuasive while sticking your restraints.”

“I’m sure you’ll find a way.”

***

Maybe you should be spending less time dreaming and more trying to figure out your escape.

Who said I want to escape?

Surely you’re not being tortured daily out of your own choice?

Choices have repercussions, my friend. Consequences. Unintended, but in this case, not entirely unforeseen. I have to stay here, because the device is in the next room. And short of a war between the two most powerful countries in the world today, there’s no way I can take it with me, even if I manage to escape. So I stay.

I hate what they’re doing to you…

I know.

Let me at least take away your pain. I can do that much, and it won’t hurt me nearly as much as it hurts you.

I wish I could let you, but you know you’re not strong enough yet. You might be able to handle it now, but it will leave you unable to perform your duties once the time comes.

Is there no one else you wish to speak to? I can let them speak to you, if you like. Friends and family? A sweetheart? There must be something I can do.

I have no family that cares to speak to me, nor friends who would appreciate a visit by you. A sweetheart…well, you know that story, don’t you? I’ve told it enough times, I’ve spoken of her when I created you, I’ve nurtured you on my tale of love and woe…

Tell me again…

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