13 October, 2012

13 October 2012

Now that Einar had consented to talk, it was Juni’s turn to find herself  bit lost, doubtful as to how to proceed, for she had never really expected him to come around, had figured that if he spoke at all, it would be a fight the whole way.  She had thought--if she could get him to talk at all--that she would dive right in, start asking him questions about the transcripts, his experiences over there, but now it was seeming all wrong, and she decided to come at it another way, start in the present…

“Tell me about the hunger, then.  Why do you do it?  Deprive yourself of everything, when clearly the two of you have proven very successful hunter-gatherers, and have a cabin full of food…”

“It’s how I get through my days.  Always has been.  It works.”

“Doesn’t seem to be working very well right now.  Seems it’s putting you in danger, actually, and your family.”

“It keeps me sharp, the hunger.”

“To a certain point, maybe.  But after that, it just makes your brain malfunction.  Slows you down.  And you’re way past that point, and you know it.”

“I’m quick enough.”

“You could be quicker.”

“Want to test it?’

“No.  Are you kidding?  I don’t want an atlatl dart through my neck.”

Einar shrugged, relaxed his grip on the weapon.  Would have been alright with him, either way.  She continued.

“So.  The hunger.  It was useful, and you used it when you needed to.  But it’s not anymore, is it?  It’s got you, just like those guards had you, and it’s going to kill you if you don’t find some way to free yourself.  It’s almost like you never got away, at all.  Why do you let them keep hold of you like this?”

“That isn’t it at all.  They don’t have me.  This is my deal.  My choice, all of it.”

“Is it?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that it doesn’t look to me as if you have much of a choice.  Have you ever tried another way?  A different way to ‘get through your days,’ as you put it?”

“This one works.  Has always worked.”

“You sure do have a funny definition of ‘working!’  I guess this works to the extent that it lets you feel like you have some control over your life, maybe.  Over what happens to you.  I know about that.  It’s important.  But it isn’t true.  Look at yourself!  Who would really choose to live like that, given a choice?  You’re doing to yourself exactly what your captors were doing, except maybe a little more slowly, which is probably worse, really, isn’t it?  But the eventual results are going to be the same if you keep it up, and you’re going to die that way if you don’t decide you want things to turn around.  The way they would have had you die.  Is that really how you want to go?”

“Andy did.”

“Wanted it?”

“Got it.”

“Ah, so that’s the thing.  What this is all really about.”


“I don’t know the whole story with Andy.  Just what I read.  But I do know that the day you escaped…you really should see it as your birthday, you know, a day when you were reborn, given a second chance…”

One corner of his mouth twisting up in a slight smile, yeah, guess maybe I should, and sometimes I can almost…  “But I don’t.”

“Because of Andy.”

A nod.

“How do you think he saw it?’

“My escape?”


His brain shut down.  Didn’t want to think about that one, because really, it didn’t matter.  What mattered was his duty and the fact that he hadn’t done it and now couldn’t go back and…  Andy.  He would have been happy.  Elated.  Einar was sure, and for a moment, staring into the fire, he caught a glimpse of that hated bamboo cage, but it was not his own, and Andy, staring through a sizable tear in the screens that had kept them from visual contact with the outside world, was smiling, his eyes resting on the broken corner of the cage which had held Einar, blood in the water where the guard had gone down, and then he was in the scene, himself, in the jungle, keeping low in the water as he glanced back frantically trying to get a look at Andy, see exactly where he was and how he might be reached, but Andy, lying on the floor of his enclosure with face pressed up against the spot where the screen was missing, just smiled at him--a weird, incongruous thing, jubilant, joyful and wholly out of place in their present surroundings--shook his head, mouth forming the word, “go!”  And he had gone…

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