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Tiled Corridor, Underground

Wait. Don’t go.

That’s good. Do you hear me clearly? I suppose you can hear me wherever you are. This communication, it’s not sounds. But I won’t contact you if you don’t want to talk. I don’t want you to think I’m trying to pressure you.

I need to get out. You can make it possible. You wouldn’t do any harm, I can keep this body in check. I can live in society just like any human. It wouldn’t be easy. In a way I guess it’s easier here in the cell: here, I don’t have to control myself. You and the concrete take care of that. But I can do it, even if I will have to do it for a lifetime.

You know what it’s like to have to have permanent control.

You don’t need to let the others go. I know I should feel bad for them. You probably have less sympathy for me now. But you only have so much compassion. If I weren’t a prisoner, I might be able to afford more.

I don’t know how dangerous they are, either. You can think less of me for that as well. But I know for sure that I have control. I can’t speak for any of them.

You humans are the ones keeping them locked up. If you blame me…

You’re afraid I’m going to leave something here in your brain, something small and delayed that might unfold after months. If I could, don’t you think I would have done by now?

I’ve been sitting here… I don’t know how long. You think you’d be able to keep track of the days, don’t you? I don’t know whether it’s been more than a year. I guess it hasn’t.

It’s okay if you leave. You don’t have to decide yet.


I can tell you about my cell, but you’ve seen it. I don’t know whether you’ve been inside, but you’ve certainly been in someone else’s. I faked a seizure once and a few of you came in and sedated me. I think it was me, but it might have been Aite instead.

I forget that you’re not as connected as we are.

If you were in Aite’s cell, you’ve seen mine. The walls and floor are white tiles. I don’t know what the ceiling is, some sort of long white fibres. That’s what I have to look at. It wavers after a while, your eyes wear out. In the place where I was before they had soft walls like in cartoons. I guess here you don’t mind as much if we hurt ourselves. I can’t blame you, if I had to care for something I couldn’t just kill, I’d be grateful for every new scratch or bump.

A few times… but I’m not going to tell you everything, I won’t use emotional blackmail on you.

I’d do that too if I knew it would work.

Strip lights. A cell that isn’t more than twice my body length. Sometimes they come by with a trolley of books – you know that, you may have been the one pushing it. I don’t know how long you’ve worked here, if you were here when they brought me. You might not remember either.

If this were, I don’t know, a juvenile prison or hospice, I guess there would be a common room with films and video games. There’s none of that. You don’t want us to see each other. It’s the sessions in the gymnasium, medical check-ups. That’s when I get to see something other than tiles. You’re humane, you don’t want us to die quickly, even though that would make it easier for you.

I like communicating with you. It’s like a connection, even though I never forget that you’re a guard. Is that what people used to call Stockholm syndrome? It’s not that I like you. But you’re the only thing out there. Even if I fail, you will have given me something to remember.

It’s as if even an enemy is better than… the void.

Are you an enemy? Before I came here I never thought about what it’s like being in prison. In regular prisons I guess there is an agreement between prisoners and guards, since the prisoners have something to lose. The ones who aren’t serving life. Five times I’ve tried to pull you guards apart and run, and I’ve been tased five times. I don’t know if it was five. I’m guessing the number.

If you’re still listening to me, that means you haven’t made up your mind to leave me. Because I guess you could notify some superior that I’m trying to influence you, or arrange to get transferred to some other complex. I don’t know. I’m guessing again.

I’m trying to influence you. Wouldn’t you, in my place?


Don’t leave me here.

Don’t leave me here.

Don’t leave me here.

Don’t leave me here.

Don’t leave me here.


Come back. We’re like battery chickens down here. It’s not going to get better because you don’t see it.

I won’t say it again…


I’ve come to know you well since I started. I’m sorry. I don’t choose to root in people’s brains. If I stopped myself from doing it consciously, I’d still do it when I dream.

I know the secret you’ve stowed under everything. The children, the eternal vigilance. I could tell your colleagues, your superiors. I could tell your parents. I won’t do that, because what would I achieve? But now you know I can.

You’re going away…


I misjudged you, and I can’t afford to misjudge here. So let me tell you that I respect you. You’re doing your part protecting humanity from monsters, from something that isn’t human. I know you don’t do it because you enjoy hurting us. I would want to do it myself, if I were a functional human.

I guess you’re protecting humanity from another monster. You got this job because the medication… slows you. Shields you. So that you’re not as responsive to our suggestions as your colleagues.

The other guards would be more open to me. Yet you’re the one I’m talking to.

I’ve come to know you so well, and I hope you’ve come to know me… at least a little. I would be so happy to open to you and let you do things inside my head, too, in the interest of fairness.

I could help you do it. That would be if we were out of here, then we’d have time.

But I’m trying to bribe you with that, you who can go dancing when you finish at seven, you who can feel the scent of the air outside, the wind that has brushed through branches, and watch films and meet people when you choose. I said that I was going to respect you.

If I thought that… if I didn’t respect you, I would try bribing you with something else. The cell must be under surveillance, but I’m certain you’re authorised to bring me somewhere else… for as long as you’d need. I would do it, too. I wouldn’t see it as a trade. We know each other, after all. I’m not saying this to flatter you. I don’t know whether I love you.

You know I’m a lot older than this body looks. You will never find anyone else who has an adult mind and a body that is uncorrupted. You used to look at them so long in the streets, at the beaches, didn’t you? Not at bikini straps, but at facial movements and gestures. All that you knew was regular pre-adolescent energy and joy, you wanted to see as a potential libido that had started to find a way out. You knew it wasn’t there, and yet you wanted to convince yourself that you saw it.

I might not be your type. You won’t find anyone better than me, not with this mind and this face. I still wouldn’t be your type, since you take the blocking medicine. Yet I try to bribe you with sex and companionship, you who are insusceptible. If you were the one in a cell as wide as you’re tall you would be just as pathetic, you’d throw yourself at anything where you saw a possibility. I might not be anyone’s type.

If you had me, you wouldn’t need the medication any more. Then you would know whether I am.

It felt good the first time you took a tablet and felt its effect on your neurons. For the first time in years, you had mental capacity left for something else than forcing the monster down.

Do you think I chose to be a monster?

I’m going to leave you now, so that you can make your decision. And I guess you’re more rational than most people. But you’re so tired all the time, aren’t you? As if your body is still fighting it, while your mind is busy elsewhere.


Do you think I would hurt you? I let you see into my mind. It’s as open to you as you are to me. And do you see anything in there?

I wouldn’t hurt you anyway. It’s not even a matter of loyalty. Once I’m out, what would I achieve by playing around with you? The only reason for you to believe that would be that you thinkcome herethat I’m a sadist, a monster.

But you’recome hereproof that we don’t need to obey our nature.

I could bribe you with how happy, how rapturous we would be, but I don’t need to. I know you will do what you feel is morally right. Come here.

Feel the rhythm of your steps in the corridor, hard-rubber pulsing. Hear your ID badge clicking a little against your chest pocket with every step.

Press the badge to the sensor and feel the quick mental satisfaction when it chimes to life. Thumb in the code.

Come here.

The cell door is ahead of you. If you were going to hesitate – but you wouldn’t have come this far if you hadn’t made up your mind.

Come here.

Come here.

Come here.

The texture of your soles, so close outside the door that I too hear them.

And it’s different, hearing real noises.

The badge. The code.

The handle.

Come here.


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