The room was bathed in dazzling white light. It was a morbid room, as it was expected to be, having witnessed many years of horrors. The walls were stark white, partly in repentance and partly in pretense at all the red they had seen, hiding their misery from the common eye. Palmeida Orthvana, the head of healers, had no common eye. She knew exactly what the room would speak if given a chance; indeed, she felt the words would come out in screams than in conversation, the walls having seen and suffered for too long. She felt no remorse – neither for the room, nor for the many occupants it had housed over the years. She lay seated in a far corner of the room, fiddling with the clock in front of her, seeing nothing in particular, visibly calm but distracted and distressed. It wasn’t the morbid room that distracted her – not the bright lights, not the chill that cut like knives, not the equally morbid people on the other side of the wall; Not even the assassin she was about to interrogate.
The clock in her hands was no extraordinary device. It had been white once, she noted absently, now faded with the time it still told. It was cold and heavy, made misshapen with time. If only it could die, she thought – and yet it was destined to live on forever, whether functioning or not. There was no escape from this world, it couldn’t decay – it was destined to observe the horrors of the interrogation room, as it had been doing quite efficiently so far. She brought her mind back to the room and to the task at hand. Thoughts ran rapidly through her mind as she prepared herself for the interrogation. She was accustomed to the entire process quite well, indeed it had become second nature. So much so that she felt it beneath her to sit in on most of these sessions now. She had many healers for that. However, today was different. She glanced at the bright wall to her right and saw beyond despite the wall screening nothing. Her fingers, accustomed to the practice she was about to undertake, understood the task they had for themselves. 10 minutes – the clock soon read.
She cleared her throat even as she cleared her mind. She nodded silently to her assisting healer for the session. The healer, who had been monitoring the assassin in front of her, now made a series of adjustments on the apparatus. The assassin’s vitals changed. A beeping noise could be heard, not loud in its nature, but sonorous beyond what the room could take. It pierced the ears of the people in the room, while the clock ticked away loudly. The assassin opened his eyes.
Incredulity seemed to be his first response. Madness being second. He stood screaming for several seconds, chained to the metallic structure. Palmeida glanced at the assistant who showed no signs of distress at the sight in front of her. She had been expecting no less.
The screaming stopped. Palmeida glanced at the clock in front of her. A little over 8 minutes. She began “Today at 18:36, you breached an armed outpost and infiltrated a military area” she spoke, steel in her eyes. “On whose orders?”
The assassin was beyond grief and misery, now that the nature of events had dawned on him. He looked around, twisting his head rapidly in many directions, until he found what he was looking for. “Why..” he said. “Why did you bring me back?” He looked over at himself, lying on a stretched surface, cords plugged into him. He was clearly dead.
Tears rolled down his eyes. A let out a cry that rang through the desolate room. It suited the cry of a ghost, thought Palmeida abstractedly. “On whose orders?” she repeated.
The assassin didn’t answer. 6 minutes.
Palmeida leaned back. “You were sent here to assassinate the Sovereign. You breached four levels of security, you knew the lay of the land. You knew exactly where to find him.” She paused. “Who has been helping you?” She glanced at the white wall opposite to her without glancing at it. She was fully aware of the people beyond. She decided to remain focused for the person in front of her. For now.
The assassin, his eyes ludicrous, gazed at Palmeida. “Do you realize what you have done??” he asked her. “You have defied the laws of nature. You have defied the Gods themselves. This is an abomination.” He pointed furiously to himself and his dead self. “You people of Carane don’t understand… Life is not yours to give…”
“But is it to take?” asked Palmeida, calm but the asperity singing through her voice.
The assassin kept shaking his head, vigorously, over and over. “The Gods are going to curse you over this. You have changed the nature of life.”
“There is only one God” replied Palmeida. “The one you tried to kill”
The assassin stood staring at her, while the insolence took his breath away. “Men don’t become Gods” he educated her. “No matter what their actions. They always remain weak in the eyes of the true Gods. And…” he smiled mockingly “I stabbed your God. I watched him die”
“Are you sure?” She nodded at her assistant, who flipped a switch. The assassin turned his attention to the wall as it withered and revealed a screen, a view beyond. There were several people standing, people he didn’t recognize, but there was one he did. Unmistakably it was him – stoic, observant, his eyes incriminating.
“It can’t be…” The words escaped him before he could process it all. Palmeida, satisfied with the effect it had on the room’s occupant, nodded once more to the assistant. The wall rose back into sight, blocking this world from any visions into the surreal.
“On whose orders?” Palmeida repeated. The clock continued to tick loudly, interspersed with the shrill beeping of the assassin’s vitals. 2 minutes, she saw.
“You can’t break me” the assassin answered. “I shall not betray who I serve”
“Did you see what lies beyond?” asked Palmeida, an innocent inquisitiveness in her voice. “We can reverse that. You can choose existence over finality…”
The assassin shuddered. The chasm came back to him, infinite and final, full of nothingness…
“Your time is running out” Palmeida showed him the clock. The assassin could feel his vitals diminishing… “No… please… make it stop…” he cried out. He told her – the plot, the enemy, the traitor. It didn’t surprise her. The Sovereign had been expecting the same. This had been mere confirmation.
Palmeida rose from her chair and proceeded to leave the room. The assassin continued to decline, unable to comprehend. “I told you everything” he called out behind her desperately. Palmeida turned as she reached the door. “You promised.” There was boundless fear and a shadow of hope in his voice.
“We don’t tempt the true Gods too much…” she spoke, as the heavy metallic door swung open. She stepped out, leaving the room for the dead and the dying…