Here is the second part to the serial that started last week. If you missed it, it’s here.
‘Mirek! Thank G.. is that you?’
He went to open his mouth to speak but the woman’s voice in the mirror stopped him. ‘No don’t! They will hear you, but they shouldn’t be able to hear me. Oh uh, I never expected this. Yes, I will do that. Mirek, I’m going to ask you a series of questions – answer yes by tapping your left hand against something; answer no with the right hand. Do you understand?
He leaned forward, placing both hands on the basin and tapped his left: Yes
‘Great, great! Uh, ok. We were attacked by a small fleet of Chites and, they boarded us against all protocol. The ceasefire is over, it seems. We know standard procedure for interrogation is to induce… uh… sleep, a dream state. Hallucination! Are you hallucinating now?
‘Do you know where you are? I mean, do you recognise the place? Anything about it?’
‘Shit, right. Are you outside?’
‘So you’re inside. A house?’
‘You hesitated so it’s residential? What, a flat? Apartment?’
‘Are you alone?’
‘Indicate with your left hand, by tapping the equivalent number of times for the number of people with you. She paused. ‘Just one other person?’
‘An adult man?’
‘Right. Now, this is important. Take all the time you need because I need you to think carefully about this next question: She could be anyone. An old girlfriend, a friend of your mother’s, she could even be the head waitress at your favourite restaurant or a woman you talked to at your brother’s wedding last year. Do you recognise her?’
The conversation carried on in that manner for some minutes before a heavy hand hit the door. ‘What are you doing in there? Breakfast is ready!’ He heard footsteps move away quickly.
‘I really should go. Right now, all you should do is play along until we know what’s happening. If they suspect anything, they’ll kill you so it’s important that you act exactly how this woman is expecting you to act, ok? Play along.’
He tapped “Yes” and the voice was gone. He hadn’t yet had a shower, but dived under quickly, washed, jumped out, cleaned his teeth and was ready for breakfast in less than five minutes.
A large breakfast waited for him in the kitchen-cum-dining-room and the view from the screen window was even more spectacular. The woman who claimed to be his wife sat at the table, pouring herself a cup of coffee from one hand while chewing a slice of toast held in the other. ‘I know you like to take long showers, but that’s a record even for you!’
He sat down, leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Play along” he was told “play along so they don’t arouse suspicion”. ‘You didn’t have to do all this, but thank you.’
‘No, I didn’t have to do it, but I promised. I owed you, remember?’
He smiled blankly and began serving up eggs, bacon, sausages and hash browns. ‘How could I forget?’
‘Looks beautiful today, doesn’t it? Almost unreal.’ She gestured to the view of the city through the window. He turned his gaze towards it and once again spotted the tree-like buildings on the horizon. For a moment, the scene changed, but it was only a flicker. The serene urban city scape gave way to the image of a woman leaning over him – she wore what looked like a military uniform. Behind her looked the ruins of a ship, a fire in the rafters.
One second and then she was gone and he was back in the room smiling at the woman pretending to be his wife.
She stared at him for a moment before asking a question. ‘You know, don’t you?’