“Do you still know why you are here yet?” his torturer asked.

Ephram took in a breath between clenched teeth. That last session had been painful, and not in a good way. He had a high pain threshold, but electric shock torture was quite amenable to scaling up well past that.

“To be honest no,” he replied. “I am beginning to think I made a wrong turn somewhere. Albuquerque, maybe.”

“And what about your ‘people’,” the new, well-groomed man in his silk suit suggested. “Aren’t they about to make a wrong turn. They’ve messed this up before.”

“They learn from their mistakes,” Ephram insisted. His eyes stung. With the heat in the room that was now oven-like, he could barely see through his sweat-blurred vision. Still, this was a step up from the sleep-deprivation his captors had applied earlier. Pain on the whole was more effective at keeping him thinking than boredom.

“Do they?” the man asked. “Take a look at them, listen to what they say. Understand what they allow.”

“Most of that is really not my business,” he lied. “They have their own lives. And I can barely see at this point even with you showing me every detail of their lives. Also, could you possible turn down the heat a little.”

He was struck hard across the face, tasted blood again.

“Why do you make me remind you they are not people,” the man spat. “That you don’t think of them as people! When are you going to understand that one simple truth.”

“And I keep telling you are wrong,” Ephram insisted, glaring up at his torturer. “I care about them like they are family! When one of them suffers I do as well!”

The man narrowed his gaze.

“Would you like a glass of water?” his torturer asked.

That was a change in tact.

“Sure,” he replied.

The man poured a glass from the pitcher on the table and brought the glass to Ephram’s lips. He took a sip, swished the water around his mouth, swallowed. He felt his forehead wiped with a cold clothe, his eyes wiped of sweat. His vision cleared. The screens in front of him cleared. He recognized the woman on the main screen. Nora.

“Take that one,” his captor stated, pointing a finger. “How long ago was it you recruited her, three years? Four?”

It was closer to four at this point.  Her sister had recommended they pull her out of Kendall Manor.  Tasmin had been right.  She usually was.  Even with her sister.

“Don’t you think she’s gotten a bit too comfortable with her particular talent?” the man stated. “Something that will increase her isolation from her fellow human beings?”

Ephram looked more closely at Nora, who was leaning with her back against the sink in the office washroom, eyes closed, face twitching. Something new?  He’d have to talk to Esperanza when he got out of this.

“She had becoming terrified of who she was,” he decided to say. “She’s not afraid any more. She doesn’t have to be. She understands what she’s experiencing and can control it. Not to mention collect information that is otherwise impossible to gather.”

“You mean she believes the lies you told her,” the man offered. “That accepting what she experiences won’t damn her and her soul. That accepting gift’s like hers always ends badly.”

“To be honest, everything ends badly. That is the truth. We all need to believe a whole assortment of lies to function,” Ephram asserted. “It’s how human being handle the real world, its how we survive. Too much truth is debilitating. She will eventually be comfortable enough to handle more truth and make the necessary choices to save herself if that’s what she wants to do. For now, it’s best for her to believe what it does accept what she thinks is happening to her. ”

At least that was the hope.  All the predictions so far said otherwise.

“You aren’t around to make sure of that though, are you?” his torturer stated.

“No, at the moment I’m strapped to this chair,” he replied. “Being tortured.”

Go to Chapter Fifteen

Go to Chapter Seventeen