Phil lay in a huddled clump in a bright cell, his body wrecked from months of stress positions, water boarding and abuse.
Appearance? His right eye looked permanently to the left.
Teeth? Five Missing.
A guard opened the red door to his sound proofed cell. he grabbed and put him in a wheel chair and started wheeling him down the hall. They took him to the same room he had been going to for three months.
Phil crumpled into the torturer’s chair. The interrogator began his monologue.
“Prisoner 2032, we are convinced you don’t know anything about that this anachronistic technology that you wear on your wrist. You know nothing as to its creation and source of power. It appears as an A-11 Wrist Watch from World War II which bothers us because an alien race made something so powerful that is iconic with our history. But unlike a standard issue A-11, the surface of the watch depresses and serves as a morse code device and has powers outside this universe. Other than that, we know little and you have given us everything we know which is nothing. Your MRI scans show no deception indicators. But since this is obviously alien technology of interest to American Intelligence. It is possible that somehow our devices are being fooled by superior technology. It seems this device is ingenious at avoiding capture or allowing information about itself to be obtained. Our own thief that took it from your wrist while you slept in Red Lodge Montana videoed it vanishing as it left your wrist. ”
He circled around Phil.
“You KNOW how to contact your people, don’t you? Somehow, I think you continue in whatever mission you are on. And somehow your A-11 is controlling our data collection from this prcess. You have even allowed it to fool yourself to protect it!”
Phil looked about as excited as Steven Hawking at a Wagner concert. He blinked just to see if he could.
“… that’s the trick …. you win … me? … not … so … good.,” he mumbed.
The guard strapped him into the chair. The interrotagor continued to monologue.
“I must admit, I have never in my days worked with someone as you. True to your prediction, here you are broken and ruined. Your psyche is forever changed. It’s strange to find an information source so knowledgable about torture and its effects on the human body actually go through it. But before we finish this process and warehouse you forever, I thought you would like to see a video of yourself when we first brought you here.”
They turned the chair to a large screen. The screen showed Phil’s face in high-definition – unflatteringly of course.
He pushed play.
Phil’s dead eyes beheld himself, unspoiled.
“Welcome Phil. We want to know more about that interesting watch of yours. Where it came from. How it works. How to get ahold of one.”
The healthy Phil was void of hope. “Look, let’s get to the bottom of this. I don’t really know anything. When the watch leaves it wipes my memories. But I do know one thing. I’m finished. Truly. Nothing can save me. No one will help me. In this setting, I am in a state of a down-going that has no hope. No god will save me. No mental construct can stop the pain and descent into a life of a broken reality. There is a point where suffering cannot be managed and I am going there in spades. I do have one weapon though. It won’t save me. But it will be the truth. Torture ALWAYS reveals the truth. That I am only a hunk of meat. No spirit in me lives. I wish it were so but torture allows no such fantasies to remain. We are products, not beings. Effect – not cause. Meat, not men.”
The doctor turned off the video and snapped, “Remember that? Do you? My superiors told me to show you that again.”
Phil stared blankly. His breath labored on.
“Take him to the scanner.”
The guards, put him in the wheelchair and hauled him down the hallway. The walls were gray. The floor a smooth painted concrete. As he rolled down the hallway, he felt a perfectly uniform vibration jiggle in his body. That was all, just the jiggle, that and resignation. Resigned, total resignation.
The interrogator picked up the phone and called his superior.
“Sir, he is prepared … yes, sir we have reviewed the power displayed in this device when he accidentally used it in front of our security cameras thousands of times … Yes, it was secured footage. No distortion … It actually appears to work on our dimension from an outside source It SHAPES and builds pre-determinded quantum events from its programming. That is all we know. We still cannot get anything out of him regarding HOW it works. Just what it does. He has no memory of his comrades or where he is from … His philosophy? … His religion? Yes we asked him questions about his beliefs, he is a staunch materialist … no it was never verified in the scanner. He is hooked up to the scanner per your request … Oh … I see …. certainly sir. Certainly you may attend.”
He hung up the phone and walked to the scanning room. His feet clomped perfectly equal jolts with each step. If there was a nick in this floor, he never found it.
He entered the scanning room. Phil’s hunk of meat was strapped and concealed within a military MRI machine.
The general entered.
“Okay, this thing will show if his brain lights up as a lie or a truth correct?”
“Good, I want to ask him some questions.”
“Young man do you have a soul?”
“No,” whispered Phil from the tunnel of the MRI.
“Scan shows truth sir.”
“Do you reincarnate?”
“No.” whispered Phil.
“Brain lights up in the truth areas sir.”
“I don’t see the point of this,” said the Interrogator.
“I’ve watched this guy descend into ruin,” said the General. “Sure he lost all his cookies like everyone eventually does. But how he lost them. How he accepted it. It just bugs me. There is something more there. More than his meat story.”
The interrogator rubbed his brown hair and though for a moment. He twitted nervously. A question came to him but he paused when poised to ask it. His eyes got big and his face showed a micro-emotion of fear. He crushed it with his nihilistic anger and asked him calmly.
“Do you NOT not have a soul?”
“The brain scans shows the truth sir.”
“Hmm,” Said the General. Son, do you have a soul?”
“True answer sirs” piped the attendant.
“Son, do you NOT have a soul?”
“True answer sirs,” piped the attendant.
“Son, do you NOT NOT have a soul?”
Phil was silent.
“Sir, the screen shows that he does believe that he does NOT NOT have a soul,” said the MRI operator.
“You CANNOT believe opposing statements like that!” declared the General. “You cannot believe you do and do not have a soul!”
“The image is shaking sir.”
From the crumpled heap of meat, came a whisper. A rhythmic hissing. Soft, like made from broken lungs. And then the body shook in perfect vibrations from the pattern of Phil’s voice.
“His brain shows laughter sirs.”
it was laughter. The room lit with laughter. It was soft, kind and free like it had never been anything else. And it brightened. It ascended. Not an ounce of hate was within it. And then … it transcended.”
“Can the device reincarnate you?” demanded the General. “Is your soul an algorithm? Is that how it is and isn’t?”
Phil blinked blankly and choked out a response.
“You want your truth? I am your truth right now. No soul here. No hope here. Only broken … laughing … meat …”
Phil laughed again and his body unleashed a grand mall seizure. It had had enough.
They lost him soon after that.
Later that evening, the MRI operator went to his bed and took out a notebook and wrote upon it a single sentence.
“There is no soul, and it cannot be destroyed.” And then quietly, so that none could hear.
He practiced laughing.