Cadisk: seventh Tourmaline (part three)
Moody, with a smile, backed a few steps, then turned and beelined through an office door. The conference table was centered between arrays of full-length windows, three doors on either end, two little hallways cutting executives from staffers, emptying to the elevator this side, the restroom, that. She would have to cite emergency and make for this, just to see what sort of surveillance was in place.
Conversations and laughter came to them, the laughter making Anton flinch.
“First question,” Palma said.
“Do you feel safe?” Mary held her pen ready.
“So long as they let you alone. Or do you feel weighed to the last atom of your worth…should you be killed and the memory of you erased, or should you be slowly brought round and sent to help govern Nedforum, or sickened with drugs, until you will kill yourself for them…”
When he took to rhyming, it was the right moment to shut Anton up, and Mary did the honors.
“He’s not entirely wrong. I don’t know how you can feel safe when you know the G.R.A. are so very practical. They’re spending money to keep me here, and they’d rather be investing money. Maybe they do hope to change my mind.”
“Mary, do you feel safe?”
“Please…Palma… You know I don’t care, and I don’t think about it. Since David died.” She stopped. She might have given variations on this speech, by now, a hundred times.
“You can’t go home. And you won’t go home until the work is done.”
“Have you ever been denied food, water, medical treatment?”
“I haven’t. But as to medical treatment, I haven’t needed it.” She put a hand out. “Am I allowed to look over your papers?”
They didn’t, Mary’s group, use any sort of scoring system, or if they did, here secrecy was imposed, and Cadisk’s prison would be ranked in a private meeting, the group’s findings kept from recipients of their charity. For provocation’s sake, Palma flipped through the other papers in Mary’s book. They were instructions for conducting interviews with prisoners, small-printed tissue-thin paper with legal extenuations, the code printed out in a Q and A format.
Mary sat solemn, a blunt instrument against sarcasm. Her causiness, as Frederick termed it. Or, forbearance…she might have saintly tendencies. Palma had never heard this need equate to likeability.
“You can write on the blank sheet yourself, if you don’t want me taking it down. That’s where we fill in specific complaints, and you can see you’ll be asked to rate yourself on a number of things. Hours of sleep, how much energy you feel you have, are you happy.”
(copyright 2018 Stephanie Foster)