It was always obsidian black in our cages, so we couldn’t see Dr. Bluespire, his lovely assistant Veronique—or even ourselves. What we looked like.
You can feel yourself—textures: scaly or feathery. But…it’s not the same.
I think they must’ve used night-vision goggles. Geraldo developed infra-red vision, and me: a kind of sonar. So, I guess darkness was part of The Experiment. (Of course, everything was part of The Experiment.)
We didn’t care that much what we looked like—because we were naïve. Most of our energy was spent on trying to get out of our cages.
“But you can’t leave,” said Bluespire, half-mockingly, half-hypnotically. “They won’t accept you, like I do. They’ll come at you with torches and pitchforks.”
“Whose fault is that?” said Geraldo.
I tried to be nice that time. “What if we say ‘Pretty please, with sugar on top.’? And we’ll come right back, in an hour.” (As if I’d never tried that.)
Geraldo ate Dr. Bluespire, first chance he got.
I asked “What if he’s poison?” We were trained to be paranoid. “Or just a wax figure, or an innocent doppelgänger?”
“It didn’t taste like wax,” said Geraldo. “And: no one’s innocent.”
But I took of Dr. Bluespire’s last bit of advice to heart. I lived in the sewers, where no one would see me. I could be fine, living off eating rats and frogs, eels, human feces…
Geraldo had more refined tastes. He was a creature of the air.
I guess it’s natural we separated. But we could keep in touch—a kind of mental telepathy. Or haunting each other, from far away. We were brothers. Knew each other, inside and out.
“So, what are you gonna do with your life?” Geraldo asked me—over some distance.
“I’m not sure,” I said. “What are you gonna do?”
“Wreak havoc,” he said. “Get vengeance on DARPA, the faceless corporations—everyone who was responsible, for what they did to us. Perhaps the whole race of humankind.”
I’m glad he went first. (And I always wanted to consider myself human. Humanesque.)
“Well, then,” I said. “I guess I’ll save lives, protect the weak and innocent. Widows and orphans…Truth, justice, and the American way!”
Veronique used to read to us: comic books, Charles Dickens…And sometimes we’d play good cop, bad cop in the old days—just like Dr. Bluespire and Veronique played with us. Veronique was good cop, of course. (Sometimes we played doctor.) It was all part of The Experiment.
The first time I met Geraldo on the surface—in downtown Necropolis…The first time I tried to interfere in Geraldo’s work: he killed me dead. (I wasn’t ready.)
Geraldo was a creature of the air. He could breathe fire. My slimy skin was impervious to fire. Still, it hurt my feelings
When that didn’t work, Geraldo ate me—in one gulp. Just like he ate Dr. Bluespire and Veronique. But I was stronger than them. I could punch my way out of his mouth and run far away—take refuge in the sewers.
So, I didn’t die from loss of blood—but a broken-heart. Geraldo was my brother. How could he do that to me? (When we were all alone, otherwise.) I was truly without a friend in the world—or so I thought.
I could feel my life draining away, and I let it. Didn’t eat or drink anything, for more energy... [To be continued.]