American Chimera – 16.2

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The interrogator’s hands shook while she approached the bed. As soon as the tablet was on the bed’s surface, she backed away. “Thank you. Thank you for your help.”

“I never reckoned I’d make it this long without being captured. I didn’t think anyone’d be jailed on account of me, though.” She snuck a claw up to the cot’s soft surface and felt around for the plastic-wrapped tablet. The claw pulled the tablet across the bed and down the other side. The sound of a computer scrolling blipped up from Dani’s side of the bed. “Brad Roten? You arrested him?”

The interrogator intertwined her hands behind her back. “Yes. He was a student at your high school. I take it you knew him well?”

The spider on the other side of the bed let out a dreamy sigh. “Every girl knew Brad Roten well. He probably didn’t even know I existed, though – he’s rich, gorgeous, and just all around amazin.’ Stacy’s got a huge crush on ’im, though, so I ain’t even tried to get to know him better.”

“Well, whatever your choice, the list had radial options next to each name. Choose how well you think the individual knows you, and I’ll be out of your way soon.”

“Who’re you, ma’am?” the spider asked. The tablet continued to click and chirp as she worked. “I ain’t heard accent like yours afore – ain’t quite as Yank as the scientists.”

The interrogator smiled and relaxed some of her muscles. “I’m originally from Atlanta, but I’ve lived in DC and worked for ‘the man’ for about thirty years. No one’s pointed out my accent in years – I didn’t realize I still had one.”

“It’s in yer ‘I’s. ’Sides, might just be ’cause my ears are in my damn cheeks and I just hear you different. Stupid scientists chose to do that to me, you know.”

The sound of Dani making her way through the long list was only accompanied by the lapping of water in the back of the room. The interrogator looked around, her eyes resting a long time on a gerbil dribbler on the wall. Her Tyvek suit crunched while she made her way over to it and ran a hand down the side. She cleared her throat and moved on from the water source, her path never getting closer to the cot or the room’s occupant.

“Well…um…Thanks for your help, anyway. I…” She released her hands’ grip. “I don’t plan on returning here after this, but I will be seeing your parents again. Stacy Ellington, Dr. Worthington, Brad Roten. Everybody on that list. I can’t promise to get a message out, but if there’s anything you want to tell any of them, now may be your last opportunity. If I approve of the message, I can try to relay it for you.”

The spider clicked more buttons. “Daddy’s probably ok right now, but I do want him to know I love him. Tell Mama I love her too, once she calms down…if she calms down.”

“You know Janie Huffman is hotheaded, then?”

“Who don’t know that?” Dani chuckled. “I want you to tell Mama I’ll be fine. I got this under control.”

The interrogator paused a moment, then finally released a held breath. “You do?”

“Is there somethin’ else you’d rather tell Mama?”

The interrogator took a step back.

“Don’t act all s’prised. You ortta know a chimera is property of the state, that I don’t actually own my body. Even human rights don’t mean nothin’ down here, ma’am.”

“How do you want me to interpret that double negative?”

The spider laughed.

The interrogator backed away a few steps when she saw the white blanket wrapped around Dani’s body jiggle above the cot’s height. “I assume you aren’t treated well, then?”

“I’m healthy. Well fed. Isolated, though.” She sighed. “The first couple days, I was scared, often drugged. It’s ketamines – I learned that from Dr. Worthington a long time ago – and they thought they needed ’em to control me. They treated me like a dog, fed me sugar cubes when I would ‘sit’ or ‘roll over’ or dumb crap like that. I didn’t understand at first, and I still don’t get why they…”

“They what?”

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