By William Markiewicz
(continued from last issue)
This "archival" story was inspired by a few of my dreams which I linked together.
In subterranean cells constructed of cement and steel, isolated by electromagnetic fields, the investigators, well protected and hidden, interrogated the prisoners who refused to answer any questions and rejected all nourishment. They were completely indifferent to physical coercion. Clinical research showed nothing in particular; all that was already known was confirmed. The only notable fact was the predominance in the brain of a continuous alpha-wave state.
-- "We believe that you are sort of hypnotized by some strange beings unknown to us and those flames you show and strike with are one of the manifestations of this strange form of hypnosis," said the investigator, keeping to himself what he knew about them. "But, this is turning against you too. Here you are, abandoned by your own people who believe you have committed one of your ritual suicides. So you are entirely in our hands and if you love freedom it's up to you to make the first concessions."
-- "Give us some time to think," said one of the prisoners.
-- "As much as you want," answered the investigator.
The prisoners finally accepted food but didn't show the hunger expected in people who've spent days without eating.
The next day one prisoner made a statement on behalf of all: "We can help you to make a great step forward to ensure total equality among us. We will put you in contact with Galactic representatives. But don't delay in freeing us because here we lack certain nourishment. You cannot provide us with it and without it we will die."
(At this moment the electroencephalogram continued to show predominant alpha-waves, the waves of mental quietude, bizarre in beings who for the first time showed some interest in life.)
-- "Why are you now afraid to die?" asked the investigator.
-- "For metaphysical reasons inaccessible to you," answered the prisoners.
-- "How long can you live without this 'spiritual nourishment'?"
-- "It depends on our will," was the answer. "And we will stop 'willing' very soon. We give you two days to make your decision."
As a result of this meeting the humans held a certain advantage; the prisoners bluffed, certainly, but did not know that the humans were aware of it.
***On being informed of the flames' childish excuses, the President smiled. --"This religious 'nutrition' is us: they tempt us with the 'Galactic Association!' Mussolini also promised empire to those who believed they were his liberators. But -- he didn't have one."
(Continued in the next issue)