Deal 549: Not hopeless

The lights hum constantly and flicker ominously, with faint electrical crackling noises. Even when lit, they are that sickly color of cheap institutional fluorescents which make even the healthy look ill. The poor light reveals one occupant of the room, strapped to a chair, humming to himself. The room is about a dozen feet square, and sparsely furnished. The adjustable chair sits near the middle, A projection screen in the shadows opposite it. Some speakers are haphazardly placed, and a rack partly full of complicated electronics and instruments sits just barely out of view of the occupant of the chair.

He is neither young nor old, but is intriguingly wearing the tattered remains of a once well-tailored tuxedo. His shirt is torn, studs are missing, his jacket is shredded down one side, and his tie and cummerbund are simply missing. In spite of that, he doesn’t appear to be injured, and his hair is not mussed beyond what one might expect from two orderlies placing him in the chair.

In the poor light, he doesn’t look healthy. That really isn’t the fault of the light, as he’s not all that healthy any more.

The speakers are playing the repetitive scratching noise you hear from a record that has reached the end of a recording without catching the tone-arm. The screen is blank. The man is no longer screaming, but is humming to himself. Humming classic broadway show tunes, primarily.

The contrast between the wreckage of a brainwashing session and Somewhere Over the Rainbow is somewhat jarring.

Since his capture, he has steadfastly refused to provide information about his involvement with the cult. He had hope then. He appears not to have lost all hope. And yet the indoctrination sessions alternating with the questioning roll on inexorably.

Now he’s humming You’ll Never Walk Alone.

If this keeps up, I might go mad before he does.

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