[What with being weighed down by mononucleosis it’s been a while since I posted the previous chapter, but now that I’m (slowly) getting better I hope to have this little saga wrapped up by the end of the year.]
[Interview Log #6945-M 11-17-████]
Jenkins: You’re looking very well lately Vincent.
Vincent: Don’t patronize me. I’ve got a mirror in my room. I know what I look like. The human Hindenburg, deflated on the launch pad.
Jenkins: You know your health is of concern to us here at the Foundation.
Vincent: Right. Because if I die, who have you got to interrogate?
Jenkins: Believe me Vinny, if you died the world would go right on spinning. We would keep doing what we do. Nothing would change. So what’s the point? Is the food here not to your liking?
Vincent: It’s okay, I guess.
Jenkins: From the interviews we’ve conducted I’ve noted that you seem to care a great deal about food.
Vincent: It’s not the food. Or maybe it is. Really? It’s the eating. It’s the filling. It doesn’t have to be good food. Gas station burritos, fillet mignon, it’s really all the same in the end. It fills you up. For a little while.
Jenkins: Then why the change?
Vincent: Let me ask you something. You really care about this? I mean really?
Jenkins: Your mental and physical health is my concern, Vincent. Of course I care.
Vincent: No. You don’t. You don’t really care about me. Not beyond what I can do for you. This is all means to an end. You just want to use me to find Frog.
Jenkins: That isn’t true Vinny. We’ve trusted you. Shown you things most people can’t possibly dream of. We didn’t have to do that. We could have erased all that you had learned from your memory. But we didn’t.
Vincent: How do I know you’re telling the truth? If it’s true what you just said, if you really can reach into my mind and pull out whatever unpleasantness you want, how can I know you haven’t done it already? I wouldn’t remember it, now would I?
Jenkins: I…I don’t…you’re just going to have to trust me.
Vincent: That’s what I thought.
Jenkins: Fine. Don’t trust me. But your friend has fallen in with some very bad people, Vincent. Think about that. We aren’t be sure what their interest in him is, but the mere fact that they are interested is cause for concern.
Vincent: You get to refer to whoever these guys are as “bad”? Now that is rich. One of your goons almost killed me.
Jenkins: We’ve been over this Vinny. The man who abducted you was working for us, yes, but only as a sort of contractor. We’re not fond of such measures, but occasionally when there is a developing situation in the field these third party operatives can respond more quickly than our authorized personnel. The man who abducted you has been…dealt with.
Vincent: Dealt with? I’ll be very much surprised if you tell me that that isn’t code for “killed”.
Vincent: Right. So again. I’m not buying the moral high ground argument. You people took me prisoner, and without charging me any crime you’ve held me here for going on five weeks now. Now, I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that’s unconstitutional.
Jenkins: The nature of our work requires that we work…beyond the scope of constitutional law. You’ve seen the files. You should understand that.
Vincent: What I’ve seen is a bunch of researchers who have lost touch with what it means to be human. Tell me doctor, what exactly does it take for someone to get designated as one of your D Class personnel? You only take the worst of society right? The dregs of the prison system. The bottom of the barrel. And you’re right. I’ve read the files. I haven’t counted, but there sure do seem to be a lot of them don’t there? Now maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the world is full of child rapists and ax murderers that you can just yank out of the system and use as human guinea pigs with no one noticing. But maybe not. Maybe when you’re acquisitions team runs low on scumbags they soften up the rules a little bit, pick up a few drug dealers, maybe some kids that got caught up with gangs because it was the only way to make anything of themselves in the world they were born in. Look me in the eye and tell me that never happens doc.
Jenkins: You…I…we’re not here to debate the morality of what goes on in this place. You want believe we’re the bad guys? Fine? You know what? Maybe we are. But you’re going to help us anyway. You’re going to help us because I promise you, your friend IS in trouble. The Church of the Broken God doesn’t mess around. We’ve never taken one of their members alive. Never. If they think your friend has information they want they will extract it with extreme prejudice. That means torture Vincent. Think about that, and tell me you’re not going to help me.
Jenkins: What? What’s wrong?
Vincent: It’s just…he’s just some guy okay? I don’t know how he got tangled up in all of this, but he’s just some crazy kooky mixed up guy. And maybe there are beings out there who can take possession of human bodies, and maybe Frog figured out that they existed by accident, but you have to understand…you need to understand, he’s not mixed up in this. The way you talk about him…it’s like you think he’s a threat, or…or a weapon. And he’s not. He’s just Frog, okay? He wouldn’t hurt a fly, much less put the entire world in danger. I know what kind of outfit you’ve got here, the monsters you’ve got locked up in the basement to keep them from tromping through the playgrounds and devouring the little kiddies, but Frog…he’s not like that okay?
Jenkins: Let me tell you a story Vincent. A few years back I had another patient in my care. A little girl. Her name isn’t important. Actually, you know what? Yes it is. Claire. Claire was her name. Claire was the sweetest kid. She…she used to run through these halls screaming with laughter, and I don’t think there was a single member of the staff here that didn’t love her like their own daughter.
Vincent: I’m guessing you’re coming up on a “but”.
Jenkins: Indeed. “But,” as you say, there was a catch. See little Claire could do things other little girls couldn’t do. Things she didn’t even mean to do sometimes.
Vincent: What’d she start fires or something like that?
Jenkins: [laughter] Do you really think that would be a problem for a facility such as this Mr. Price? Set her up in a room with flame-retardant fabric and a state of the art sprinkler system and she’d be fine.
Vincent: What then?
Jenkins: She could…change things. Like I said, sometimes without even meaning to, she could —and I know this is going to sound absurd, but it’s absolutely true— alter the fundamental nature of reality.
Jenkins: If you’re looking for a scientific answer, I’m afraid I can’t help you there. Most of our subjects don’t play by the normal rules of nature of course. But in practice it was quite simple: if she believed a thing, it would come to pass. Now you can imagine what a terrible thing that could be. We don’t think twice of telling children little lies to soften the blow of reality, or perhaps to make life seem more magical to them. But this little girl? You tell her about the tooth fairy? You tell about the Easter Bunny? God forbid, you tell her about Santa Claus? Luckily we caught it early and we tried to control what information entered her head.
Vincent: What about her parents?
Jenkins: That was simple enough. We told her they had died in a fire. Don’t give me that look. If you’d have known these people…it was for the best.
Vincent: Whatever. So what happened to her?
Jenkins: Well, after a while things started to get out of hand. She was changing people’s personalities, not intentionally mind you, but if she didn’t like you, if she somehow got it into her head that you were a bad person, well…
Vincent: Just say it. You killed her didn’t you doc?
Jenkins: No. Not me. In fact, I did all I could to stop that from happening. Because…because I loved her.
Vincent: But she was killed.
Jenkins: [pause] Yes.
Vincent: And what’s the point of telling me all this?
Jenkins: I just told you I loved her. And that was the truth. But the question, the question I lie awake at nights asking myself over and over, is WHY did I love her? Was is because I saw in her the innocence and happiness of youth? Or was it because she believed I would?
Vincent: What’s your point doc? What does any of this, as interesting as it may be have to do with Frog?
Jenkins: My point Vinny, is that in our line of work a thing need not be malicious or evil to be dangerous. You say your friend wouldn’t hurt anyone? I believe you. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a threat to everyone alive on the planet today.
Vincent: How can that be?
Jenkins: What did you see? In that moment when your hand touched the “something” what did you see?
Vincent: I already told you I don’t remember.
Jenkins: You saw the truth Vinny. You touched the boundary between the world we perceive and the world beyond and you saw…something. Something maybe you can’t put into words. But there all the same sitting inside your head. You know more than you’re telling. So don’t play dumb with me.
Vincent: I just want this to be over. I want things to go back to the way they were.
Jenkins: I want that too Vincent, and I’m sorry, but that just isn’t possible. But you’ve got to do the right thing.
Vincent: And what would you know about the “right thing”?
Jenkins turns off the recorder in front of her, and sighs, rubbing her fingers deep into her temples.
“Why did you switch off the recorder?” Vinny asks, suspicious. “This is a ploy isn’t it? An act to make you think you’re on my side somehow. Well, let me tell you something, because-”
“It’s not an act Vincent,” Dr. Jenkins says, almost snapping the words out.
Jenkins takes her ID badge and tosses it on the table.
Vincent looks down at it and back up at her.
“It’ll grant you Level 3 access to the rest of the facility. Most notably, the exits.”
Jenkins lets out a long breath. “Because you’re right, more or less. We aren’t good. We do the best we can, we do hold back greater evil, but…it’s at the expense of something else. Maybe at the expense of our own humanity.”
“You can’t do this. When they find out-”
“When they find out they’ll probably send me down for D-Class processing. Maybe if I’m lucky they’re wipe out every single one of my memories and set me out to fend for myself in some big city somewhere. One more crazy homeless person? Who’s gonna care?”
“Either way, it’s your life you’re talking about.”
“I don’t have a life. Not any more. I used to. I used to have a wonderful husband and two beautiful daughters. But then I came here. And this place…it changed me. And bit by bit, the knowledge I had gained, the terrible truth I knew came between me and them, driving them farther and farther away. So in a very real sense they can’t take my life Vincent. It’s already gone. Now there’s nothing left but a body and an occupation. You think you’re the only one stumbling through life like a zombie, miserable, purposeless? You’re not. The world is full of people who don’t matter, Vinny. And in this moment, I’m changing that. I’m making a difference. And yeah, it’ll cost me. It’ll cost me a lot. So don’t screw it up.