Thursday, July 6, 2023

Microstory 1924: Blinking Yellow

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Leonard: Hello. My name is Leonard. How’re you doin’? Need anything? They tell me you don’t drink water. You look a little desiccated. Sorry, that’s my big mouth. Let me just find the button on this remote. There. Now you can see that no one is watching us through the mirror. Then I’ll reach up here to shut this off too. Just so you know, in this universe, when the little slowly blinking light is yellow, that means the camera is on. When it’s solid red, power is running through it, but it’s neither streaming nor recording. That’s how they do things here. I’m not sure if you can relate. Do Ochivari have camera technology? Oh, I saw a little reaction there. You didn’t think I had heard of you, eh? You figured that as long as you stayed quiet—which is probably part of your training—they wouldn’t be able to get any information out of you. It’s a fair assessment. I’m assuming it’s not just that you don’t speak our language. Nah, your reaction tells me you understand me. Honestly, I think you lucked out that these people have profoundly strong anti-torture laws. Don’t you find that fascinating? I find it fascinating. Where I’m from, they passed anti-torture legislation too, but you can get away with it if you’re sneaky. If you get caught, you may go to prison, at worst. Here, you’re subjected to the exact same torture that you inflicted on others, compounded by the number of victims. They don’t think it’s worth it, so that’s why you’re fine. Funny how they extend it to aliens, though, right? Seems like that’s a whole other animal. Then again, they probably have anti-animal abuse laws too, and that’s really all you are. You see, the difference between a human and an animal is that a human can communicate with other intelligent beings at a higher level. We can ask for help, and we can provide help, and we can beg for mercy. You’ve not asked for anything. You’ve not said anything at all. They think you’re just an animal. What do you think of that? Any reaction whatsoever?
Ochivar: *says nothing*
Leonard: Hm. I can see that my predecessors have already attempted to torment you with words. That doesn’t count as torture, by the way. They have zero laws regulating mental and emotional abuse. Where I come from, you can get in serious trouble for that, but the way they figure it here, you should either be strong enough to handle anyone’s harsh words, or you should use such experiences to harden yourself against them, which is why they don’t even feel compelled to protect children from it. How does that make you feel? Do you care for your offspring? How do Ochivari procreate? Do you just spit into a giant cauldron together, and then mix it up until a litter of monsters solidify?
Ochivar: Stop! Stop! Dear Limerick, end my suffering.
Leonard: What’s a Limerick? Is that your god?
Ochivar: What is your second name?
Leonard: *pauses* Miazga.
Ochivar: Leonard Miazga of Universe Unlabeled. I’ve heard of you. Am I seeing your origins? This is the first time you traveled the bulk, isn’t it? Wow. What an honor.
Leonard: You could be making this up. You’re not saying anything that proves you know the first damn thing about who I am.
Ochivar: *leaning forward* Get me the hell out of here, and I’ll give you some proof.
Leonard: *leaning forward too* Now you’re speakin’ my language.

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