The interrogator swallowed. “They don’t know how you got a female specimen. There’s something weird about her genetics that mean her biological sex wasn’t determined at conception, but by some event that happened later. The scientists think you did something with the egg that made her be female.”
Janie’s face blanched, and she sat back. Her chains relaxed for the first time since the interview began. Her cheeks sagged without the tightness of anger and showed the beginnings of wrinkles. “Don’t they have Dani’s mother to help them with that? Her biological mama, anyway?”
The interrogator shook her head. “No. Dani was the eight hundred and third created specimen of her generation. They had no mothers, no fathers. They were simply generated by scientists.”
“Then why would I tell you? Why would I help y’all make more creations like Dani, just to see them suffer?”
“To ensure that your daughter doesn’t suffer. I will fight for Dani, assuming you help me in this one way.”
Janie gritted her teeth. “No.”
“No?” The interrogator lifted a brow quizzically. “You won’t help the flesh of your own flesh?”
“Why would I?” Janie asked. “There’s no guarantee your boss or your scientists’d ever listen to your beggin.’ Dani may be forced to suffer anyway, but her pain’d be even greater ’cause she’d know her daughters were being tortured too.”
A tear fell down Janie’s cheek.
The interrogator bit her lower lip.
“I…” Janie’s hands formed fists. “I know what it’s like to watch your daughter tortured. Your scientists can call it what they like – fertilization, impregnation, insemination, whatever – but I know what they’re doing. I know it’s the same thing as rape.”
“Is it, though?”
“Even thinking that question qualifies you for the Devil’s hell,” Janie growled. She coughed up mucous and spat it onto the interrogator’s pants. “I ain’t gonna tell you nothin.’ I don’t believe you’d ever help Dani, not on purpose anyway. So I ain’t ever gonna help you. I hope you suffer before you die. I hope you get a nice brain tumor or somethin.”’
The interrogator’s face darkened. She stood, gripping her tablet tight with shaking hands. “I’m not getting what I want out of Brett, and it appears no one else has access to the information. So there’s only one thing left I have to bargain with: my power to release or retain.”
“You already said you ain’t gonna release me.”
“Yesterday, I spoke with your idiot husband. I found out he hates a certain Reverend Hinkley due to some sort of incident with your so-called daughter. I spoke with the good Reverend this morning, and I’ve decided he’s worthy of release.” She showed the list on her tablet to Mrs. Huffman.
Janie’s eyes widened. Her hands shook in their chains.
“What about that, Janie? What do you think about me releasing Reverend Hinkley?”
“You’re going to hell!”
“Am I? You raised the demon, Mrs. Huffman. I’m just letting a preacher out of prison.” She closed the tablet into its stylus then stuffed it into her pocket. “So tell me what I want to know. Tell me how you got Dani to be female, and I’ll keep him in for as long as I can.”
“If you release him, it will be the biggest mistake of your career.”
“Why? Give me a good reason. Better, give me information about your daughter. Keep this man you hate in jail. Make him suffer, just as you would have me suffer.”
Janie screamed into the darkness of the small room.
“Stop it!” the interrogator shouted.
“I’m making you suffer!” Janie wailed. “I hope your eardrums break into as many pieces as you’ve crumbled my heart!”
Janie continued to screech. The interrogator opened her tablet and used it to call in the guards, who came in with a gag and restraints to cart her off.