Wednesday, October 10, 2007

294. The omniscient narrator

Their command performance ended, the four prisoners were placed in leg irons and shackles and marched back to the brig. "Time to clean you pigs up," one of the officers said. At his cue, another two men turned on a huge hose and sprayed down the captives. Great blasts of water soaked their hoods and clothes, nearly pushing them to the ground.

Batman and the others made no attempt to resist, but their passivity did not stop the guards from delivering a beating. Batons raised, the guards attacked the heroes, laughing as their victims doubled over.

"Remember how tough these fuckers used to be, when they first came here?" asked one uniformed man. "Just look at 'em now."

"Yeah, it's amazing what a steady diet of fear gas, torture, and mental conditioning can do," replied another.

"You can say that again," said the first man. "OK, time to lock 'em down for the night." Turning to Green Arrow, who was lying in a heap at his feet, he barked, "Get UP, asswipe!" When the Arrow failed to respond, the guard kicked him three more times. "Am I gonna have to DRAG you in there? All right, then--you got it."

The guard leaned down and hooked his arms under Green Arrow's armpits, then hoisted him up a bit. Other men did the same with the other three barely conscious prisoners and slowly dragged them to their respective cells. These were tiny spaces outfitted with filthy portable toilets, a couple of wool sheets stretched out on the bare floor, and a pair of dogbowls apiece. The wall of each cell was bare but for a large poster of HateMonger himself, bearing his photo and the words YOU ARE NOTHING. WE ARE EVERYTHING. A high-wattage incandescent lightbulb hung well out of reach overhead.

When the captives were locked into their cells, the lights all went out at once.

"What're you doin' after your shift ends?" one of the guards said to another in the darkness as they headed for the door, their path lit by flashlights.

"Dunno," said his companion. "Work out, watch some tube, have a beer, get some sleep. Same old same old."

"I hear ya," said the first man. "Same old, same old."