|janecarnall (janecarnall) wrote,|
@ 2009-04-07 08:32:00
End Game: Part 1
This is the first part of the final sequence: it's the End Game.
The previous stories in this series (my Keptverse) began with The Games (six parts) and continued with The Network (one part), The Players (seven parts), The Gambler (seven parts), and The Pieces (seven parts).
The story may be regarded as fanfic set in poisontaster's Keptverse. There is a species of cast list here.
There has been rather a long gap. You may want to go back and re-read.
There was a warm, heavy weight pressing down on Kimble’s shoulder: even before he opened his eyes he knew where he was. He was lying on a mat beside Sam’s bed. He was fully dressed, all but his shoes. There was a blanket over him. The weight on his shoulder was Sam’s hand.
“You awake, Richard?”
Kimble swallowed. He had slept in Sam’s room only twice before. “Yes, Sam.” He was remembering yesterday in crazy flashes like nightmares. He had called for Sam. He couldn’t think about that.
“Get up here.”
Kimble sat up. Sam had been leaning over the bed, but he was sitting back against the headboard. He had pulled the covers over himself – maybe he was cold – but he was naked under the covers. Sam slept naked.
Sam was always precise. If he wanted Kimble to strip, he’d say so. If he wanted Kimble anywhere, he’d say where. Kimble pushed himself up on his knees, and on to the bed. He waited.
“You need something to eat,” Sam said. “We’re going downstairs in a little while, you’re going to eat breakfast. When you’re done, I’m going to lock you in your room. I’ll get you out for lunch. You’re going to eat that, too.”
“Yes, Sam,” Kimble said. He wasn’t aware of being hungry, but he was fairly sure that the last time he had eaten yesterday was breakfast, when Sam had got him out of the holding cell. He hadn’t eaten anything any of the other times other people had got him out of the cell.
“You want to get out of those sweats and have a shower before you have breakfast?”
It was phrased as a question. Kimble nodded. “Yes, Sam,” he added out loud.
“Okay,” Sam said, after a pause. “Then get out of those sweats, and get into the shower. Don’t take too long.”
Kimble pushed himself back off the bed. He had to turn his back on Sam. His shoes were placed side by side at the foot of the mat. He stripped, putting the used clothing in the laundry basket. Naked, not looking in Sam’s direction, he walked to the bathroom. He didn’t expect Sam to come in and have sex with him: if Sam planned to have sex this morning, he would have said so.
Sam did come in. Kimble heard him through the water drumming past his ears. He went on washing himself. After a minute, it was clear Sam was waiting for him to finish, and Kimble switched the water off and got out of the shower, standing naked and wet in front of Sam. Getting a towel from the shelf would have meant standing next to Sam: Kimble stood still, hoping Sam would move.
After a moment, Sam pulled a towel down from the shelf and chucked it at Kimble. “You know where your clothes are. Andiamo, Richard.”
Kimble caught the towel. The hall between Sam’s bedroom and the holding cell was empty: the house felt empty. Sam didn’t pat him down before he let Kimble into the holding cell. The door closed.
Touching himself, even to towel himself dry, there was an odd disconnect: he was aware the hands were not his own, the flesh they touched was not his own. He hadn’t thought about it in the arena: he had only begun to notice the disconnection here. You’re evidence.
He could not think about that now. Sam had probably gone back to his own room to shower and dress: Kimble had minutes, not hours. He had to be dried, dressed, kneeling, before Sam could finish. Last night Sam had given him a glass of water and hand-fed him two white tablets, a cheap non-prescription sedative. He hadn’t asked Richard where he wanted to sleep: he hadn’t asked Richard anything. Okay. Drink this. Swallow. Sleep now. Go to sleep, Richard.
And obediently, Kimble had slept. I’m not handing you over to Commerce tomorrow, Sam had said last night. So not today. Right now: he had to get dressed: he had to compose his face, which felt screwed-up and distorted: he had to eat breakfast with Sam. Then Sam would lock him back in here. That was all he had to deal with. He could deal with that.
Kimble had been kneeling in the middle of the floor for long enough that he was beginning to be aware his knees hurt, before the door opened again.
“Okay. On your feet. Let’s go.”
This morning Sam was wearing polished black shoes, a black suit, a red waistcoat, a white shirt, a red tie. He looked withdrawn. There was a slight bulge under one arm: Kimble thought a holster, though he’d never seen Sam with a gun.
The chair that placed Kimble with his back to the kitchen door was the one Sam preferred Kimble to sit in: and this morning Sam evidently didn’t intend Kimble to do anything.
The microwave beeped. Sam took a bowl out and put it down in front of Kimble. “Eat it.”
Hot cereal. With raisins. And nuts. And milk. It wasn’t anything Sam had served him before, but it was quick: Sam had said he was busy this week. It was almost too hot to eat, at first. About three spoonfuls in, it was as if Kimble’s stomach woke up and realised this was food: it felt like the first meal had after being gagged between shifts. It took all his willpower to keep eating it slowly, with a spoon: he was hungry enough to hold the bowl to his mouth and suck it down.
Sam put down a big plate of toast in the middle of the table, followed by two mugs of coffee, and two plates of fried food: mushrooms, bacon, potatoes, eggs. “Eat up.” He glanced at his watch, and sat down on the other side of the table, reaching for two pieces of toast.
It might have been five minutes later, not longer – Kimble had eaten half the bacon, one of the eggs, a piece of toast, and was still hungry – when Sam said “I need to talk to you.”
That sank in like ice. Kimble stopped eating. After a moment, he looked up. “Yes, Sam,” he said.
“You can eat and listen, can’t you?” Sam said.
Kimble nodded. “Yes, Sam.” He reached for his coffee mug, hoping that drinking from it would be enough.
“Two of my employees have found evidence that Doctor Charles Nichols concealed or falsified data that Provasic is a dangerous drug. He may be prosecuted for this by the FDA, and if tort claims are pressed, he’ll end up a slave. If it can be shown that he may have killed or caused to be killed one or more people in his efforts to suppress the data, he will be indicted by the state of Illinois for criminal prosecution on a charge of first-degree homicide: for which the mandated penalty is Final contract slavery. Is this clear?”
Chuck. The rim of the mug chattered against Kimble’s teeth.I can’t think about that now. He put it down before he dropped it, swallowing hard. Chuck killed Helen. He pressed his forearms down against the table, trying to keep his head up, to keep watching Sam’s face. I can’t. Please don’t.
That wasn’t something a slave could say. Kimble knew it. His face felt distorted with effort. “Yes, Sam,” he said out loud. His neck felt rigid: he did not think he could nod. His voice seemed to be clear enough. “Clear.”
“Okay. Keep eating, Richard.”
Kimble couldn’t move. If he took his forearms away from where they were propping him upright, he’d curl up, he’d fall over. He swallowed. “I’m not hungry.”
“Yes, you are. Okay. Later.” Sam’s voice was the kind of flat, expressionless monotone that Kimble had learned was a warning. “Richard, I want to know you’re paying attention to this. Clear?”
“Yes, Sam.” Kimble kept his eyes fixed on Sam’s face, on his mouth. Chuck tried to buy me for the lab. For the cages. He couldn’t think about that here, not in front of Sam, not here, not now. “I’m paying attention.”
“We can go over this again at lunchtime, if necessary. I am going to hand you over to Commerce with a full report, copied to the Illinois state police, the FDA, and the governor, of all the evidence against Doctor Charles Nichols. You are part of that evidence. It is the responsibility of Commerce to have you processed as evidence, so that everything you know can be used in a court of law. This process will kill you, Richard: you will be dead long before Doctor Nichols comes to trial.” Sam’s voice was hard and cold: oddly, it was like having something to brace himself against. “Do you understand this, Richard?”
“Yes, Sam,” Kimble said. He felt his forearms against the table: he moved his hands cautiously to pick up the coffee mug. “Sam, can I ask you – ” he thought about it, he had three questions but one didn’t really matter and he didn’t need to know about Lentz “ – a question?”
“How long – how many days – hours – before you hand me over?”
Sam’s head tilted to one side. He smiled, close-lipped and thin-mouthed. “Are you hoping for more time, or less? Is this such a pleasant place for you?”
The coffee mug was frozen in Kimble’s hands. He swallowed hard, again, and again. “I don’t care,” he got out, past his throat gone stiff.
“You don’t care how much longer you’ve got to live?”
“No,” Kimble said. Please don’t. I can’t think about that. About Chuck. Helen. “Sam.” He didn’t know, staring at the narrow line of Sam’s mouth, if he’d expected an answer or a dismissal. But not this. “Sam – how long?”
Sam picked up his own coffee mug. “Well. It’s Wednesday. We’re really kind of fucking busy this week, and this is not part of our regular work. The report is not going to be completed till Monday. You’ll be detained here until then.” He put the mug down without drinking from it, and pushed it to one side.
Wednesday. Today is Wednesday. Kimble nodded, feeling his way along the days in his head: Thursday was tomorrow, and then Friday. Saturday and Sunday. Four more full days. Monday, perhaps. Five. And then he was done. He remembered to say “Thank you, Sam.” He thought he managed a distorted smile.
“Jesus, Richard,” Sam said. He was looking at Kimble expressionlessly. “Okay. Eat your breakfast.”
“I’m not hungry,” Kimble repeated. He wasn’t sure he could move. He supposed he would have to. He didn’t think he could eat.
“Finish your breakfast,” Sam said, and moved his hand, open-palmed: not far, perhaps only to pick up his mug, but enough to convey the message: a gesture, like the words, of ownership. Like a hand closing on the back of his neck, gripping him hard.
There was nothing to say Sam had to keep all the evidence intact. No one had reported the crime yet. Kimble nodded. He swallowed and looked down at his plate. Five days. He had, first of all, to finish the food on this plate. His owner’s food, for his owner’s property. Nothing to do with him at all. He just had to eat it.
Kimble dropped to his knees. He knelt there, head down, shaking. The holding cell door had closed.
Sam. Sam. Sam.
He could have clung to Sam yesterday, when he finally appeared. He could still feel that, in his hands, in the pit of his stomach: he’d felt relief, just at the sight of Sam’s face and the sound of his voice. Rescue.
I answered all her questions.
Sam’s hands on him. Not hurting him, but compelling him: he did what Sam wanted, what Sam’s hands and voice told him to do, because Sam meant safety.
Helen. I found the guy. I found him.
He would have opened his mouth to Sam, he would have lain down and opened his guts for Sam, rolled over and done anything, because Sam had rescued him, Sam had got him down and his hands on him were stopping the others from handling him. He had almost fallen down on the floor of the holding cell yesterday, ready to give in, wanting to give in…
I’ll answer any questions.
Sam didn’t have any questions for him. And Sam didn’t have any use for him. And Sam was going to give him back to Commerce. Because Chuck had killed Helen. Because Chuck had killed Lentz. He had heard Chuck’s voice, not six days ago, only six: friendly, delighted, helpful. Like a hand held out for him to grasp. Chuck.
He had never been into the lab with the holding cages, though he had known where it was: though he knew the locked door from the main research lab, he had seen from a distance the delivery tunnel entrance from the loading area, he had been aware of the chute to the hospital furnaces from the lab’s disposal area. He had co-signed requisitions to buy a Final contract, more than once, as a senior consultant: requisitions that listed only sex, age, contract code. Chuck tried to buy you, for the lab.
Someone would have signed for him. He saw himself doing it, Chuck presenting him with a requisition form, just a casual scribble of pen on paper. Anyone would have signed for him.
Sam. Sam. Sam.
His mouth was open: he was crying. His knees hurt and he was cold.
to Part 2