Thursday, March 17, 2005

140. The omniscient narrator

"What was that?" Hugo Strange said. "I didn't quite hear you. Speak up."

The doctor's cum-drenched patient looked confused. Had he really spoken out loud just now? Or was this further evidence of his master's tremendous gift, his ability to read minds, to bring unconscious desires to light?

"I am Object X," the prisoner said.

"Louder," Strange demanded.

"I AM OBJECT X!" Despite the passion with which it was uttered, this last outburst was still closer to a whisper than a scream, given the lingering effects of paralytic medications on the speaker's vocal chords.

The third man in the room, the one now known only as Object Y, sat and watched, taking in what was unfolding before him with a blank expression on his face. From time to time one or both of his hands wandered down to his exposed crotch for a bit of entranced stimulation.

"You have both done very well," Strange told them. "You have each made great progress, and you deserve a reward." He reached into the utility belt on the batsuit and produced a large yellow pill he'd placed there earlier.

"Who will earn it?" he asked, dangling the pill before the two captives. "Which of you is the better patient?"

Object Y left his chair and sank to his knees on the floor, his hands outstretched as if to beg. He had been instructed not to speak without permission, so he was unable to plead out loud, but the longing look in his eyes told his tale.

Object X soon joined his former partner on the ground. "Mmmmmeee," he whispered. "Pl--please."

"Looks like we have some competition here," Strange said, clearly amused by the sight of two grown men turned addicts, reduced to the state of puppies begging for treats. He threw the pill on the floor between the two. "I think you're going to have to fight over it."

X and Y both dove for the capsule at the same time. Y reached it first and cupped his hand over it, but X shoved him away. Y rebounded with a blow, and soon the two were engaged in bitter hand-to-hand combat. There was no evidence at all that there had ever been a bond between them; it looked entirely like each was willing to destroy the other if need be.

They tore at each other like wild dogs fighting over a bone. Fists flew, feet reached out to kick with brutal force. In time, Y--taking advantage of X's significantly reduced abilities--had him pinned to the floor, hands clutching his throat with the single-mindedness of a junkie desperate for a fix.

One squeeze, and the former Caped Crusader would be dead.