So here I am, stuffed away in my closet, valiantly recovering beep by bloody beep. I don’t use bloody enough in that context, which is a shame. And I am making it back, little by little. I just jumped the gun this time, along with the cafeteria.
After all that, the heroes could have justified a lot worse treatment for me, or even no treatment for me. Aside from increased guards during meals and visits from medical staff, they haven’t done much to me. They even went brought in some thick, clear cube to protect the therapist to get around the clearly non-existent doctor-patient confidentiality problems. They forced the guy on me; I somehow doubt they wouldn’t know what we talked about if I ever talked about anything real with him. Though, now that I think about it, a lot of what I would have to say could be shared anyway, on account of me wanting to keep committing crimes. Bummer. What if I wanted help? Somedays, it just seems like the system is rigged against cold-blooded killers like myself.
That thought popped into my head again one day when I woke up to the door opening and three of my least favorite people entering. Venus, because she’s always gotta be there for some reason. Victor Mender, who I suspected wanted a word about my little escape attempt, and Boobzilla. I don’t know her name, but she’s the reptilian one with mammaries, so it seemed appropriate. They spread out with Venus on my left and the other two at the foot of my bed.
I raised my fist toward Mender. “At last, we meet again. How bold of you to walk right into my lair. You should make peace with whatever god you didn’t give enough money to, for your doom is imminent. Guards, sieze them!” The first turned into a pointing finger as I yelled that last sentence. Boobzilla actually turned her head quickly before getting herself under control.
“Ha!” I said, pointing at her now. “Made you look. But seriously, people, what brings you to the United Dictatorship of Geckovania, as I’ve taken to calling the room? I’d provide more chairs, but the GDP’s a little low right now. I have an economic plan in the pipeline to boost my trade deficit with a combined amusement park and whorehouse. Which, if you think about it, really would make it an amusing park. Anyone want to ride Big Thunder Mountain?”
Turns out, she’s got a mouthful of really sharp teeth. She let me see them. I don’t think she meant it as a good thing.
Venus, as she’s increasingly getting used to, slapped me upside the head. I glared at her in turn. “You know y’all gave me brain surgery recently, right?”
“Gecko, Venus, enough,” said the computer-generated voice of Mender. “We need to have a discussion. How do you feel, Gecko?”
I shrugged. “A heck of a lot better since the Stockholm Syndrome started. Ever seen a guy suck a ping pong ball through a garden hose before?”
“Please speak honestly,” Mender said. “My student did not want to touch your mind. She may have done harm when she shut you down.”
“This time, I’ll be on the lookout if you fake it,” said Boobzilla. “And that is NOT my superhero name.”
Ha. Like she can make me change it. Anyway, Psychsaur screwed up her magnificent face, a mere glimpse of which was too good for me. I should be so lucky just to find myself worthy to be in her presence. Wait a minute… “Hey!” I yelled.
She opened her eyes and shook her head, then smirked. “Can too make you change it. What are you typing in your head, anyway?”
Banana hammock! She squinted. “Ew.”
Mender interrupted the telepathic lovefest going on. “Get out of his mind. Gecko, be honest with us.”
“Yes, sir,” said Psychsaur and I at once. I glared at her as I realized that.
“If you must know,” I said to Mender instead. “I don’t think I’ve had any particular medical problems related to what she did. The headaches I get predate that, and I don’t hold her personally accountable for reopening my chest wound.”
Mender looked at me for a moment without saying anything, so I looked to Venus and Psychsaur. For her part, Venus held her face as stony and emotionless as possible, even under the mask. Psychsaur just studied me and gritted her teeth. It didn’t take a psychic to realize how pissed I was at her.
“That is good. We do not want to keep putting you together again. I presume you do not want to be sick and hurt all the time. Your freedom is non-negotiable, but it has been suggested that you would be willing to behave if certain needs were provided for.”
Mender barely got the sentence out before Psychsaur blurted out, “Ew!”
I turned my head and looked Venus in the eye, catching her red-handed about to slap me. “Hey, he told her to get out of my head. And you,” I turned to Mender, “My lack of freedom is non-negotiable. We are at an impasse here. You might be humoring her,” I nodded toward Venus, “But you at least seem to realize that there’s nothing you can do that’ll get me to stop trying to escape and stop being the person I am.”
Psychsaur raised her hand to her forehead. I felt something get all cloudy in my mind, and offputting. Like nausea while sitting still and a burning wire strung in one ear and out the other. I turned to Venus and felt the urge to tell her how I felt about her, “In another life, we could have been great together, but I’ll never forgive you.”
“Stop,” Mender commanded, his machine apparently not managing an exclamation point. I looked at him, as did Psychsaur. “We have a way to enforce any deal between us. Venus?”
It’s weird that the program managed to imply a question mark like that. Venus exited the room, then reentered pushing a wheelchair. I looked between her and Mender, skeptical of what that was for, then added a bit of Evil Eye toward Pyschsaur because she jumped right up near the top of my “Will Fucking Kill” list. Yeah, there’s a list. I take the “Fuck, Marry, Kill,” game very seriously.
Mender drove on over beside it and said, “We are going to take a walk outside. Join us,” and then left the room along with Venus. Psychsaur added a glare to it, but she took her scaly ass out. As for me, I got into the wheelchair and found it motorized. As much as I didn’t want to trust anything of theirs, I also didn’t have much of a choice. Just walking around my room was a challenge.
The door, oddly enough, opened for me, and I followed the heroes out and down the hall. Venus slowed down enough for me to catch up even as the other heroine put distance between us. Venus took the handles on the chair and took over pushing. “Trust us.”
“That’s a lot to ask of me,” I said.
“We’re treating you remarkably well after all you’ve done. Reciprocate,” she whispered to me.
I rolled my eyes. “It’s not like I hurt anybody in my escape attempt. Except maybe that girl who cheated on her test, but that builds character. If she wants to make it to the big time, she’d going to have to learn to cheat better. Teachers aren’t doing cheaters any favors by coddling them like this. It’s an insult to crime, you see. We’ve come a long way from the days of random strangers asking to hold people’s pocket watches before stealing them all because people considered distrust to be rude. Herman Melville’s amazing in the field of confidence scams shouldn’t be discounted so readily.”
“You talk like you’re a native now,” Venus said.
I gave her the finger. “Go ahead. Keep on. I’m like a native to this world. I’m human now. Still almost escaped. Sisyphus, you see, is happy.”
“Why do you say he is happy?” asked Mender, who waited for us in the elevator.
“And who is Sisyphus?” asked Psychsaur.
Dammit. Lecture time. “Sisyphus was a devious and cruel man who committed the sorts of crimes against man and god alike. Murdering guests, stampeding people, and raping cattle; that kinda stuff. They were so determined to ensure his death that they sent Thanatos, like their grim reaper, after him in person with special chains to bind him. Sisyphus then tricked Thanatos into the chains, escaping death for some time and preventing other people around the world from dying in the process. Another version of the myth says it was Hades instead of Thanatos, but the rest is pretty much the same. Later, while dying, he set off a plot that culminated in him deceiving Persephone into being allowed to return to Earth. So then the gods decided that he got to spend his afterlife pushing a heavy boulder up a mountain, only for it to roll back down continuously.”
Truly, he was an inspiration.
“You think he was happy?” asked Psychsaur.
I winked at her. “Well, kinda. It’s more of an illustration of a point. His determination not to die, challenging even the Greek gods, who were total dicks, is a goal I understand. And in a way, he did somewhat win. He still existed in the story. Maybe he’d have been completely annihilated or something if he stopped, but he still went on and pushed that boulder. It’s a metaphor for how we all struggle for what we want most in a reality where it is impossible to succeed. An absurd task, especially once you realize it, but we can still make what we want of our unpleasant circumstances and spit in the face of a universe that doesn’t particularly care for us one way or the other.” I gathered a bit of spit for an illustration, but she looked into my eyes and I swallowed it.
“I hate telepaths,” I said.
Venus asked, “That’s how you view the world?”
I shrugged. “Eh, sometimes. Also important are themes of being myself in the face of a world adverse to that, but someone might say that’s a bad lesson. Then again, taking me as a role model or teacher would be an… interesting choice, to put it mildly. But no matter what, I gotta be true to myself, even if I change my mind, and especially if it’s fun. And every instinct tells me not to be a prisoner, no matter how much I may deserve to be one.”
“Sounds like you’re not exactly a man of conviction,” she responded.
I smiled. “I’m certainly not looking to get convicted. That means someone held onto me long enough to have a trial. Besides, I can’t go and be one of those gimmick villains who does stuff like steal donuts and blow up donut shops because of a rabid anti-donut agenda. For starters, donuts are fucking delicious, and anybody who says otherwise is either a communist or a fascist, depending on what the person hearing this statement hates more. Hating donuts is like if Hitler was also cancer. Who wants to have Hitler cancer? Not me. Do people who disagree with me do it because of Hitler cancer? I don’t know, I’m just asking questions.”
Mender started to speak until the ding cut him off and we all moved out into a familiar hallway, albeit to the opposite side I’d headed for. “You will learn to appreciate her. She is why we can afford to trust you so far. Here is my first offer: agree to let her input temporary changes in your behavior and you may travel freely on campus.”
My eyebrow raised. “How long is temporary?”
It was Psychsaur who answered me. “As long as you want. Before you ask, the rule we would make you follow are no physical violence, no attempting to escape, no cussing, and no attempting to convince people to help you break any of your rules.”
Venus spoke right into my ear, hoping to convince me with such an intimate approach, something she probably figured would work thanks to the blabberpath over there, “You can visit the library, watch TV, play some games, even cook for yourself.” Mouth still open from that, she jerked her head around toward Psychsaur, “Add something about no poisoning, using allergies, or messing with medicine to harm people.”
“Damn, y’all caught that one,” I said. “How do I know that’s all you’ll do to me? For all I know, she’ll make me impotent, or give me telepathic Alzheimer’s or something.”
Mender said, “There are risks on both sides of this agreement.”
Then Psychsaur butted in again, “What’s the matter, don’t think you’re strong enough to handle me? Afraid of what I’ll do in there?”
I rolled my eyes. “Pretty much anyone would dislike letting someone change their behavior through mind control. At least when I made people do things, I didn’t force them to like it.” Doesn’t help that my brain chemistry used to protect me from most telepaths but apparently doesn’t do Jack Squat with a ten foot dildo now. “Quite the conundrum. Either keep my mind clean,” That statement got a snicker and snort from Venus and Psychsaur, respectively, “And stay locked in a room, or consent to a bit of mindfuckery and obtain more freedom. I think y’all spent way too much time talking to Mecha Gecko.”
Psychsaur and Mender, who were ahead, stopped at a door. Mender rotated around to look me in the eye, his computer announcing. “This is the moment of choice. Do you take this door or return to your room?”
I stood. “Pretty big choice y’all ask of me. You’ve certainly tried presenting it to me in an honest and open way, considering you could have done this to me already. You even brought me out to what you claim is an exist. By the way…” I opened my mouth and went to blast the tone again, but I felt something heat up. The vocal cords screwed up and all I got was a whine that faded away.
I closed my mouth, mostly, except for an awkward smile and a shrug as Mender’s own chair hummed and began emitting a force field. Two arms unfolded from the back of it into some sort of weapon that trained on my chest with three laser dots each. Venus had adopted a fighting stance, while Psychsaur held one hand to her head. I put my hands up and slowly turned to sit back down in my chair, aware all the time of the fact that I had just lost one of my most valuable tools.
I went to speak, but everything came out distorted and unclear. Quieter than usual, with pitch and timbre off a bit, too. I stopped for a moment, then tried speaking slowly and clearly, which is two-thirds of how you make people understand languages other than your own. Just add loudness and you have instant linguistic comprehension in others. “Is. That. Deal. Still. On. The. Table?”
Psychsaur at least, didn’t try to make it too painful. Freakin’ headache, but I suppose that monkeyfighting telepath and telekine could have done worse to me. Venus was all giddy, like a schoolgirl finding out her uncle’s visiting with a van full of candy. Mender… doesn’t seem to have much in the way of facial expressions.
And then, for good measure, that frollickin’ gown was waaay too thin for the cold-ash weather outside. Luckily, they said they’d get me something to wear so I’m not bear asp around the many impressionable young minds in the school.
But I can get through this. There are plenty of psychic fish in the sea, you see. And plenty of loopholes. I’ll have to make sure they didn’t throw in anything they didn’t tell me about, but I’ll do my best to test it without making it obvious that they should have also added a bit about lying or obedience in there. Fix my voice, make a few phonecalls, access a few bank records, and then I’ll not make my grand escape. Nope, totally won’t. I’ll just sit right here for a bit, invite some people in with no intention of convincing them to help me escape, and if something should happen to the school around me so that there’s no longer a place or group of people to escape from, that’s just how things will go.
Soon, they’ll regret thinking a mere psychic compulsion could stop the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko! And soon, Boobzilla and all the others’ll find out what happens when they find a stranger in the Alps. Oh yes, and then it’ll be time for those fancy cows to get sluiced, right up their dam intakes.