In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It remains a seminal work of conspiracy fiction. Today, The Omnivore continues a serial-fiction experiment: Illuminoimia.
Everything You're Afraid Of Is True.
Ex-CIA Agent Charles Brin is interrogated after 'death' by the Secretary of State who wants to learn something about her secret masters.
Previously On Illuminoimia
Chapter 15, Interrogation
Washington DC, Walter Reed Hospital, 8 Days After Benghazi
Charles Brin was fighting to wake up--there was a haze of fear--like he was late for class--or had a test he hadn’t studied for--or--OH! There it was: sudden, shocking PAIN. His scream started as a moan--and then rose--and rose--and rose. Something was terribly, horribly wrong with his legs--with his body--he could not move and red waves of agony crashed ceaselessly through him obliterating everything but suffering.
Then it paused--dimmed--the relief was heartbreaking. He managed to open his eyes--or, at least, he thought he did.
Above him, lit by an array of clear bulbs on a black background was the Secretary of State’s massive face bathed in bright yellow light. He could see nothing else--darkness behind her and the bulbs. He couldn’t turn his head. He wasn’t even sure if he was upright or prone. He felt like when he was on the verge of sleeping and wakefulness--unable to command his body fully. Then he was aware of a terrible thirst. He gasped.
“Charles Brin--can you hear me?” In the background: chatter. Systolic pressure. Heart-rate--hospital talk.
He tried to nod--thought maybe he drooled on himself--gasped out “Yes.”
The Secretary nodded. “You will answer my questions, Charles. And then I will turn you off. If you lie to me, I will remove the nerve blocks, leave you attached to nutrients, and let your pain circuits run until your body eventually turns off. That could be years.”
Charles fought panic--he was aware of his heartbeat.
“I won’t lie,” he croaked. The feeling of thirst dimmed. Was she controlling that?
Something changed--a shift in color and tone. Whatever he was seeing--it was virtual, he thought. That didn’t help much: it felt real. The background chatter had stopped.
“I’ll save you some time,” the Secretary said. “You are ‘alive’ only in certain clinical senses. You did fairly gross damage to your brain with the bullet and we have had to use certain techniques to recover memory and personality. Your body is a wreck--but it is still fully capable of feeling--as you experienced. You have been transferred to America--but no one who will talk knows you are here. I am the last person you will ever speak to in your life and this will likely be our last conversation--at least you should deeply, dearly hope so. Do you understand?”
Charles thought about it. He decided he did.
“Was I dead?” he asked.
“You were--clinically. Do you remember anything?”
He … decided he didn’t.
“No,” he said. It was almost entirely not a lie.
“Here we go,” she told him. “You will tell me truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
“So help me, God,” he answered, completing the oath.
“I’m afraid in these circumstances He’s not going to be any help at all.”
The lights behind her changed somehow--a flicker and movement. Were there actually real bulbs? Or was he imagining that?
“Who did you meet with?” She asked.
He told her what he knew. He had used a Code with Keys he’d picked up--asking for the 'Magus'--a title he knew was associated with an extremely high American security clearance. He had hoped to talk to someone in the Department of Defense--not the CIA or the State Department. Someone with a military interest in containing--and maybe analyzing--the bomb.
What he had gotten was … something else--someone else. Certainly the Black Magician had been plugged into the intelligence circuit. The man had known his name. The man had known about the bomb. The man must have had access to whatever inner-circle of planning had put the operation together--but he had claimed to be neutral.
The Secretary of State listened. By the time he was almost finished she was dry mouthed. Whatever she knew--his revelations astonished her.
“I’ll tell you what he told me,” Brin said--”in the end. But he said it might be leverage--so I need some assurances.”
“You are in no way entitled--nor do you have--”
He cut her off. Ballsy: “I need to understand what’s going on is all. If you’re the last person I ever talk to, you tell me what happened and what you think it means--and if … “ he groped for anything “if we can be back on the same team again, even for a few seconds, I’ll tell you what he said. If not--well, I don’t know if you can detect lies--but I promise you that what he told me makes no sense to me so I doubt you’ll know if I’m telling the truth or not.”
She looked at him. From the look on her face, he thought, she was satisfied with his bravery. “Okay,” she decided.
“What happened to my man--Imaad?”
“The Special Operations Group team killed everyone--almost everyone--in the cafe,” she said. “That included your agent, the owner--everyone. It was a go-in-hard-and-sterilize operation.”
“You’re fuckers,” he said--but there was no energy and no surprise.
“You were holding a unique, uncoded, thermonuclear device,” she said. “That was no time to fuck around and you knew it. You brought death down on those people just by being there.”
He’d have nodded if he could.
“Did you recover it?”
“Yes--and no.” She considered this. “It is in custody of sorts. It has not been ‘returned.’”
“A third party?”
“For now. Yes,” she told him.
He seemed to consider this.
“Why do you want to know about the magician? What happened to him? Did you kill him?” he asked her.
“Why are you calling him that?” the tension came out in her voice and she chided herself--give everything away why don’t you?
“The Code was ‘Magus.’ The Keys were … extended letter sequences--like Hebrew Rabbinical codes,” he said. “In spam emails. Certain filters would have to be looking for them. It all seemed kind of … Kabal? Kabbalistic to me? He seemed like a magician. He kind of looked like Ricky Jay.”
The Secretary of State shifted. She would have paced if the interface allowed for that. It didn’t: she was looking into a scope while his body lay in what was almost a medically induced coma with his brain open, being bathed in sterile nutrients and pierced through with wires.
“It was reported by the advanced team that he and another were in the cafe. He left just as we were securing the perimeter. The team leader gave the orders to kill them--they were engaged, we think, by two SOG soldiers on the street outside.” She paused for breath.
“Following that we … don’t know. The reports are contradictory. The soldiers who were dispatched acknowledge that they encountered him. They reported he ‘slipped through their fingers like rainwater.’” She frowned. “They both used those exact words in separate debriefings. Their weapons were not fired. Neither of them could give any visual identifications--only ‘a dark man.’”
“These were extremely highly trained special operators. Those more distant operatives reported seeing nothing.”
Brin listened. He looked tired--he felt tired. He wanted to sleep. “What do you think he did?”
The Secretary’s face bobbed slightly. Was she shaking her head?
“Hypnosis? Some kind of chemical soft-kill? We don’t know--he walked out of the perimeter like it wasn’t there. His level of access is … above mine,” she said. “Above the President’s.” Her voice was low--worried. She was talking to herself as much as them. “You told me he said he was a neutral. Can you give me the Codes and Keys?”
Brin wanted to yawn--his throat didn’t work. “I can--I will. He won’t answer.”
She knew he was right.
“I want to speak with him,” she told Brin, urgently. “It’s very, very important to … me--to everybody--that I speak with him.”
Brin blinked. At least that part of his body still worked.
“He said there was a fly in the ointment,” he said. “He thought it might be ‘me.’ If you can find out what that is … you can get to him.”
It was very little--but it was something.
“Okay,” she decided. “What did they say for leverage. What did he tell you?”
“He said the bomb was meant for Jerusalem--to help perform the Abomination of Desolation or something like that.”
The Secretary of State looked ashen.
“They’re going to blow up Jerusalem?” the words didn’t seem to fit right in her mouth.
“I guess so.”
She backed off.
She looked at the tank--the traumatically damaged body in it. She was to be punished--to punish herself--by watching him die in long slow agony.
She stalked to the door. The Trauma Surgeons waited impassively.
“Keep him on ice until I return. We aren’t done with him yet. Don't hurt him.” She brushed past them without waiting for a reply--and they, in their perpetual stony silence, gave her none.
|Follow The Leash|