Thursday, 22 December 2016


daily that i fall in love, upon mine trembled stand commute,
beseeching eyes that fall upon the day that seem so resolute;
hourly should i falter once, and twice as much should i choose not,
against the steepled tropics rain, before the sunless burning hot.

daily that i find new kin, and friends with whom i share our woes,
while some wry of golden sixpence, and others of lacked passion throes;
timely as i while away by reading into strangers' eyes -
belying tired, languid tales, betraying hopeful, cheery lives.

regardless of their coloured sheens, or practiced thoughts of godly-tales,
one can but tell of kindred bonds, that disregard such ebon pales;
and though i pretend to have read, perused upon mine pages bland,
there are none more interesting tales to have heard from across the land,
such as those told through silent speech,
through smiles and coughs that one could teach;
and though i think it but distraught,
who knows what teachers could have taught?

now crosses sturdy wooden bridge, i hear the trundles thump and creak,
some storied told are for the heart, and some are never for the weak;
but always they are worth being told, on days and sometimes weeks apart,
there are as many different loves as are there many flitting hearts.

now here we are, arrived at last, upon the proverbed daily grind,
some authors write for penance sake, and others perhaps to unwind;
but all they write - and as do i - so easy like a beggar's plead,
if only to behest that one should spend the time to rest and read.

fare thee well my scribing friends, dispersed like dainty dawdling doves,
and forget not my errored prose, that daily should i fall in love.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

in full bloom

jacarandas all in bloom, sighing with the wind,
like lost souls who never met their closest next of kin;
jacarandas without leaves, that purple in the blazing heat,
let petals fall and dance their tune to land upon my naked feet.
bright mauve dancers in their skirts that bloom to ease my pain,
that sprouted from unearthly source behest of heaven's rain;
jacarandas in a row, that give my neighbourhood heartbeat,
and grace daybreak and sunset with your sickly, sorrowed sweet.
but, hark, who comes, in blazing flames, of scarlet, maroon, red?
like ginger children, freckled souls, and grins upon their heads;
and not of one, but many breeds, whose flowers stake their claim,
pray tell my sweet, what blushing brides have chosen be thy name?
a hibiscus, a wee bird's beak, a sanguine vase, a hide-and-seek,
but choreographed petals lain to lay upon a lover's cheek;
but how could such a beauteous thing make jacarandas seem so lame,
if only to be called a lord, the sight of one, a forest flame.
perhaps it is that in their grace, they seek not to compete or shy, but cloaked in regal of the kings they make one falter and assume,
so ask ye men, not what or who, or beg not know the whence or why, to let the summer throne their reign the purples reds are in full bloom.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

my new hero

"whatever you can do, there's likely some asian 10 yo who can do it ten times better"

well, Dr. Heng Li isn't ten, but it kind of still holds true.

this guy is my new hero.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

that dread memory

when i was growing up, i was slow to realise that my social interactions with others caused them moderate-to-severe discomfort, and that a lot of how i behaved (and, when i was in my teens, what i said) was generally quite abrasive. now, i should emphasise that this is not just the awkwardness while one is young(er), or the rebelliousness associated with youth - i never really went through a rebellious phase, as i was at boarding school, anyway, and i always liked the higher authorities; i never really felt that i was too awkward a person in my lonesome, but i do recall, now, that in the company of others, i would behave somewhat unsavoury-ly - something that persists in vestigial amounts to this day.

perhaps, it is warranted here an example. i believe that one of the biggest social faux pas-es that i did was this uncanny ability to remember the smallest details that i pick up during conversations. again, when i was younger, i felt that everyone would retain a considerable amount of information from social conversations, and it would, therefore, not be out of place to reproduce such information at a later date - this is wrong. not only do people forget most of the 'filler' details of conversations, they also relegate most of the information to a disposable status soon after the conversation has ended - something, which, i feel is socially acceptable, if not expected.

now, before you judge me for being a self-proclaimed know-it-all, or hyper-observant twat, let me acknowledge that i am neither (or anything similar, hopefully). i don't pretend to have a photographic memory, or am able to 'learn' of things faster than anyone else, just that i have perhaps, always thought that everything one mentions in passing is important enough to warrant someone paying attention to. of course, with age, i now know that most people use these factoids as 'fillers' and, unfortunately, i find myself (having to do) doing the same.

of course, a repercussion of this was that people would find me weird for knowing things about them 'that nobody else knew' or that 'they never told anyone', which, again, still happens to this day. you can imagine that, since this retaining of information is more emphasised when i deem it 'important' (such as when someone special in your life may mention something to you), well, it only bodes unwell for when i try to have a casual conversation with 'that' someone (especially considering that i'm already in jitters to begin with).

in any of these high pressure cases, it seems that i let blurt, sometimes, that old habit, of information that was so readily divulged before, but apparently not to be retained - in said conversations, in job interviews, in meeting new people, and such. and the slanted glances don't go unnoticed. however, in my (oh-so-wise-) age, i've now learned to better control this in conversations, such that i 'force' myself to forget things i hope are too trivial (and doing this on purpose takes a lot of practice and experience!), but sometimes, people do notice that i'm feigning it (although it's usually not the person who's supposed to have thought that i had legitimately forgotten, thank heavens.

anyway, it's nice to become a little less socially inept by controlling this impulse, but at the same time i cannot help imagining if i've come to mask it so well that i've now adopted it as a norm. i do find myself forgetting details of a conversation that, when in the past, people would say 'i can't believe you don't remember me telling you this' and thinking to myself, 'yes, i remember, of course, but have to pretend that i don't remember every single thing you've told me, lest you think me a stalker', now i find that i legitimately don't recall (or at least require some pondering to recall it). perhaps it is also my (purported) age that is lending its hand at making me more socially acceptable.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

sometimes i do like the winters so

i'm not necessarily one for winters. the cold, i've grown accustomed to (somewhat), and the shorter days are tolerable, even if i barely see any sunlight between leaving and coming home from work. the constant need to visit the washroom, and sporadic hunger pangs that likely arise due to my reluctance to increase my food intake are only bothersome if i consciously think about them, but otherwise, winter is alright by me. perhaps, the only thing that i could do without is the dreaded waking up in the morning - when the duvet is so blissfully warm from a night's worth of body heat, and the parquet floor as cold as the impending toilet seat, it's probably for the best that i cannot hold my bladder enough to warrant more sleeping in (unfortunately, this applies just as well to the weekends).

in any case, i'm not necessarily one for winter, perhaps if only by comparison to a nice spring or autumn day (aren't we all), and even a heated summer evening, or perpetually warm and dank tropical midday, if not out in the sun, is perfectly acceptable, if not preferable. sometimes. but, as with any day, season, month, and year, there's nice things about it, and what i shall miss the most of the winters everywhere is likely to be the following:

coming out of the house, into a strikingly cool day, as the sun arises, exhaling the first breath that 'smokes of dragon's-breath' and taking in a brisk, sharp, fresh strike of cold air to replace what warmth was housed in my lungs. the distinct smell of winter, which i cannot describe, that transcends locality or time, much like that Aeromonas smell after a rainfall that belies metabolic certainty as clockwork.

which may not seem entirely comfortable to some (even myself at times), but every so often it makes for a memorable start to a day. of course, its complement does as well:

exiting the train station (or any other venue that's filled with the scent of people; cigarettes, leather and wool, cologne and perfume, and sometimes, unwittingly, body odour) to be greeted by the same natural smell, with the taint of morning bakeries, (preferably mild) coffee, and a nuantic mix of the atmosphere (you will forgive my ineptness in describing this, but i'm sure those who have felt and smelt it will know what i am talking about!). perhaps this is something that the summers cannot offer, and, as with all things that have pros and cons, i will sometimes reminisce on the winters if only for this feeling.

which is probably untrue, as there's other things about winter that i do love, but are forgetting at the moment.

ah, you fickle mind.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Numen, Part II

The interrogations are becoming more and more frequent, and the interrogators less and less patient. Sometimes I feel that they are here to barter for my salvation, sometimes it feels like a formality preluding to a crucifixion - not necessarily that of mine. I cannot attribute the disdain I have for these sessions to lack of rest, or food, or even compassion; something instilled in me during the early war days has kicked in and taken hold, dictating my answers with dogmatic fervour, and leaving my body with a lethargic wish for release - one that can only be obtained, perhaps, by relinquishing truths that I have convinced even myself to be accusations, false and malicious.

I am allowed a half hour’s walk around the compound before dinner time. Thankfully, the remorseless steppe winter has yielded to a more tolerable, but equally hypothermic spring. I can hear the animals in a distance beckoning with calls of their nature, but I cannot imagine anything bearing offspring in such harsh an environment. Perhaps it is true that all things Russian are impervious to cold. Perhaps the Red Army would have been able to invade us in winter, naked and laughing at our pitiful caricature of wintertide, with only a bottle of vodka to warm their bodies and a Kalashnikov to make cold ours. Such tall tales seem less incredulous now that I am so far away from the comfort of the Empire - at least psychologically, if not geographically. I wonder what will remain of the people’s land now that it is not ours to toil. Will the Americans have at our fields, our seas, our women, our children? Or will the Russians have at us, with equal consequence? Mayhap the British will lay stake for the losses their colonies suffered in the Pacific theatre? I am too small to comprehend what difficulties the Emperor will face in the coming months, and what worse it will mean for the people. What I am certain, though, is that his divinity will not save him now. The Americans are our new gods, and we lie prostate for one whose compassion or vengefulness we cannot yet gauge.

Returning to my cabin grants no reprieve - my mind feels still as cold as my body, and I await dinner with a weary hope that it will be something more palatable than usual.

It turns out to be not. Potatoes, bread and some cold meats, which would normally be considered delicacies and rarities back home. However, I still yearn for a simple bowl of rice to accompany - not the coarse, fibrous, dry cereal they sometimes have from Western Russia, but glutinous, supple and sweet rice that we used to grow in the Philippines. At least there is some local fish, though smoked and too heavily seasoned.

The night is silent, once I am accustomed to the noises of camp. They are not so unfamiliar for one who has spent days in our research facility, though sometimes it is not the noises of the night that perturb sleep - perhaps the spotlight may refract through the windows, or the smell of burning tyres may waft through the cold air. They are irrelevant, I will recall; nothing in comparison to the nightmares that beck with sleep. The irony, of course, lies in that I will not fend off sleep to save my sanity, for as I have given up on any reconciliation with my conscious, so have I accepted that during sleep is my only repentance for past sins. I slowly drift away. The clock shows thirty-one minutes after ten o’clock. A knock on the door serves to interrupt my sleep, but I cannot tell if I am more irked by the disruption, or that the matter is so urgent that it cannot wait till the morning.

“Mr. ----, they’re ready for you. Please follow me.” The call-person is young, perhaps 16 or 17. I cannot fathom him having enrolled into the army without lying of his birthdate. There is something about his accent that reminds me of the young boys shipped to us in the last months, from the mainland, only that in this boy’s voice, there is neutrality, or even arrogance, where in those of my memory, there is fear, denial, confusion, and most prominently, fatalism.

“If I may ask, what is this about? I have been questioned today, and I believe there should be nothing else to add. Nothing of import, at least, that cannot wait until…”

“Sir, I do not know why, and I apologise for the inconvenience,” he trails off with some mention of higher-ups summoning me for questioning, but what catches my ear is his apologetic tone that is sincere. Something is amiss, but I feel that the only way I can circumvent any military rhetoric that would have been placed for my benefit, is to comply. So, I follow the young man, sheepishly, and half wishing that it is mere formality (the other half wishing it is a Russian intervention that will result in my being taken to a mock trial, where I shall, perhaps, be sentenced to a swift execution).

He escorts me down a spiralling stairwell that goes on for an eternity. The darkness that extends beyond the sixth flight of steps makes it impossible to tell if we’re getting any closer to the end (which I assume must be the bottom level, as I have yet to see any door this whole time), and after what seems like the whole night spent walking downwards, we stop mid-track. I ask him why we have stopped, and he bluntly replies that “we’re here”. With a perplexed look, I face forward in the direction of his gesture, and indeed, there is now a hallway leading equally into the infinitesimal dark, but before I can complain of this, a cohort of balding men in white coats accosts me with a barrage of concerned questions and statements:

“Sir, are you sure this is the best course of action?”
“Sir, I do not believe that the children will prove any different from the adults, and even if so, are we willing to risk that…”
“Sir, have you seen the results from last night, this is not unprecedented, but…”
“Perhaps it is better that we leave the room confined until we can ascertain what has happened.”
“… indefinitely…”
“This cannot be made known to the superiors. Chalk it down to a failed run, and…”

I cannot make head or tail of each person’s dialogue, so I signal them to silence. One man stands out in that he is young (he is the only person with voluminous and well kept hair), and is the only person to not have said a word since the start of all of this. His face is ashen and he looks petrified at the thought of my addressing him. “What do you think?” I ask the person, and look behind me to find my escort now nowhere in sight. All the better, I believe, as this would seem information that should not be privy to anyone outside the scientific community of the centre. The young man fumbles through his clipboard searching for some datum-piece to pivot an argument, “… I cannot see why we should not proceed, but perhaps. Err… if the correct ethical protocols, of course. What I mean to say, is that surely someone has thought of this before me, Sir, I do not think that…”

I interrupt him because I know that he is the only one benign enough to have kept this to himself, and every other person here, myself included, has long foregone giving conscious thought to the ‘ethics’ of the experiment. I prompt him for a yes-or-no answer: “Are the results encouraging, or do we need to re-design the agent?” He remains silent for only a moment, but the boring of everyone else’s eyes upon him must have felt like an eternity. The sweat that glistens his temples is slick with his hair-grease and his spectacles are tremor. The tension in the air is palpable, just as his pulse would be if he anyone should brave physical contact with his own. “There are not enough time-points, Sir,” he says, which is greeted by barely-audible groans and sighs from the crowd. One of his senpais even constructs a quick retort, starting with that the young scientist is but new to the study and hasn’t had time to comprehend the magnitude of the data, but I believe what he says is true - I have seen the data myself, and it is nowhere enough to be convincing - not unless we were to fabricate some figures, or bamboozle superiors with jargon and pseudo-scientific hogwash to appease them (and continue in our own, misguided fashion). Never before has an argument broken out in my presence, and authority is only tantamount to their knowing that I would see fit any action as appropriate, and that has never failed us yet. But this seems close. There is lack of sleep. Too much coffee and cigarettes. Admonishment from failures, and fear of the uncertainty - if not only for the results, then also of what will come of the institute should a superior see our cause as a failure. There is already much talk of dissent in the ranks farther away from Japan, and the repercussions have extended to even the most secure in the homeland - we are more replaceable than we would like, and more dispensable than we could care to consider. All I can hear now is the din of debate, but it already sounds like the only thing that could ever have come out of this, should we have had no results (which we do not!) - strife. I contemplate sending everyone away for a fortnight, to work on other projects that are less strenuous, but also with less impetus to be finished. Perhaps they could accumulate minor victories to later fuel attempts anew on this project. I, myself, could use a distraction. Perhaps something to do with the experiments on the dogs or rabbits. Anything to be less empathised with. Then my train of thought halts, as does the arguments. It was faint, at first, but now it is clear - a knocking on the lead doors, and though I could not recall them at the time, the distinct spine-tingling sensations of scraping at the reinforced plastic window. The proverbial nails on a chalkboard, except it was less proverbial than one could want. The sound heightens, and I am left staring into everyones’ eyes in turn. How could this be?

Scrape. Scrape. Scar. Knock. A muffled voice - could it be? The sound of the metal tubes contracting in the night’s cold (which would have been indistinguishable from any other creak or clank, considering how far underground we are. The night was not the source of the cold).
Scrape. Thumping. Knock. Knock. Knock…

The knocking gets louder and louder and is deafening beyond bear. Knock. Knock. KNOCK. “Sir! I am coming in, if you do not respond!”

“Yes, yes! I’m awake,” I yell much louder than I normally would, simultaneously sitting up in bed and grabbing my glasses from the nightstand. They are not there, as I realise that I am wearing my spectacles having fallen asleep with them on, last night. The doorknob jangles as someone works a key and swings open the door. I look at the person through squinted eyes and see his silhouette against a glaring sunrise. “Sir, you need to get dressed. They’re waiting for you.”

“Yes,” my lips are trembling, “I’ll be ready in a moment.”

The rest of the day is a blur.

Monday, 18 April 2016

of worthless coins and checkered flags

that long and lingering sigh of a person, dejected but calm,
who holds the answer to all his guilt in tightly gripping palm;
who's come to terms with what he loves and what he wishes to,
with knowledge that out with all old, and make believe anew.

a lonesome glance over his shoulder, if only to make last,
an impression, a severed pact, with ideals gone and past;
today i bid farewell, so long, such gazing to the skies askew,
who could have told this stoic bold soul that deeds are made for all but few?

who were to care? with paltry laughs that shrug off all given respect,
through glimmer eyes that blinded now have come to take their own aeffect;
when came the day through yonder lights that left him here with naught but rue,
and placed upon the clouded grey where once there were pure skies of blue?

'tis but a thought in which you've loved! oh, mighty son who has it all,
in practice there is no such thing, at least not for what sins may fall;
so reckon now with little pride that utopian gist you must shoo,
and have it gone away for good, this amor that you bid adieu.

and with such lust for perfect things, you leave so little for yourself, in hoping that they were to make for fate, for love, for hate, forsake, forbade;
in colours of the eastern earth, you swear your fealty to such things bereft of reciprocation that is worth shade - eternal gifts made of cheapest jade.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Numen, Part I

On cold, winter days such as these, it is often impossible to get out of bed. The piercing, Northern winds are unbearable - born of the frigid Arctic and kissed by the Russian steppes, there can be no hell worse than my dry skin bared to such relentless assault; and there is no greater dishonour that my captors could do me than parade me for what little worth that I have left in these conditions. My leg is weak, though not in the same way that my comrades feel - their weakness is from malnutrition, starvation, famine and wear - where mine is from discomfort, at worst. A biting, almost gnawing sensation, with the occasional pins and needles from my war wound that acts up on its own whim, though exacerbated by this damned cold. I will admit that though I cannot give in to any luxury of pity or nostalgia, my suffering has been infinitely less severe than others. My only recompense, and curse, is that I live, and what haunts me in my sleep keeps me awake when I try. There can be no escaping the begrudging that is this past, just the same way that there is no reprieve from the blistering winds. But I cannot justify a complaint, for even with the worst days of winter, the cold, the abuse, the ridicule and the uncertainty is nothing compared to what past. And the past is always there, echoing with every recount I am forced to give, every time I look into the mirror, every button I do of my pristine military outfit, and worst of all...

... worst of all, every time the wind howls; for it reminds me of that eerie cry of a child.

It has only been four years since the end of the war. Four years that, for others in a situation similar to mine, would have been horror and loathe, though for me, it has been anything but. I must explain, before I further my story - General Shiro has been kind. He was kind, and I believe he continues to try to be so, at least more so than his contemporaries. When the war ended, he did not forsake us for the safety of Japan. Instead, he would to sacrifice himself to captivity of the infidels - the Americans or Russians, I do not know - a moral hara kiri, if you may, that was undertaken in the hope of salvation for his underlings, such as myself. Salvation, perhaps, that was promised him on our behalf, only to be delivered as a watered-down version of compassion, or a begrudging necessary evil for whatever devices the Americans have as ends. I can see it in the eyes of the guards. For every interrogation, every query session, they stare staidly and without emotion, but beyond their visages, I know the want to kill or torture or maim me - I know it because I have felt it, myself.

During the climax of the recent global conflict, there was word of the Americans having developed a weapon that would change the tides of war - a weapon that we could not anticipate or prepare for, because the technology they used was entirely unheard of, much less predictable. At the time, I regarded such news as rumour and hearsay. Perhaps revolutionist scare tactics or Russian sympathiser mental warfare drivel. Or maybe even American propaganda to affect the morale of the people - not that there would be any tarnishing of the people's iron will. Nevertheless, we were scientists and men of logic. General Shiro himself made sure that if there was any truth to the rumours, evidence would be accumulated, and if enough was amassed, precautionary measures would be taken. For the ones amongst us who were at the forefront of military weapons research, we laughed and joked at every new and updated version of these stories. Once, over tea and biscuits, a young but jaded officer said he had read reports of fleets of British and American ships crossing the Pacific, but could not be detected by sonar nor could be seen with the naked eye. Another would report of an airship so big, it would blot out the sun over the entirety of Japan should it grace our skies. Yet another spoke of undying Russ conscripts whose clothes, now more sanguine with the blood of Germans than from the Red Army dyes. In effect, they were all probably tales conjured by bored officers to scare the new recruits (some of them being too young to have facial hair yet).

What empirical evidence we had was from inconsistently translated intercepted messages, and unreliable 'tongues' from ranked war prisoners and dubious spies (both German and Italian, for none of the Japanese spies were left abroad during the last few waves of returning to Japan). For us at the Unit, we knew that our biological warfare was far superior to any the opposition had. The Germans had superior firepower, which they willingly shared (or, at least, were willing to share in the near future), and the chemical agents that were last encountered had been replicated and deconstructed sufficiently to produce antitoxins and cures. We were well ahead in the arms race, and we were sure of it - until that fateless and wretched day where all those stories became a singular truth and horrific reality. The dual echoes that rumbled deeper than the sounds of cursed earth still deafen my ears when the mornings are silent. It reminds me of the children pounding at the metal door after the experiments commence... boom... boom...

... knock... knock... knock...

An American private is here to usher me to an interrogation session. I still have the lowest two buttons of my uniform to fasten, but all formality has eluded me for months. I do them up anyway as I open the door. The short walk between venues is still too much for my scarred leg, and I have to pause thrice. The private seems accommodating enough, but I feel his detest - the curdling of his blood for every second more he has to spend accompanying me, driving his trigger finger closer and closer to his sidearm. The thought of a swift bullet to the temple is somewhat soothing - there is promise of redemption and release, intermingled with some newfound instillment of justice, or perhaps some twisted form of Stockholm syndrome.

I am sat down at a simple metal table and chair, which when juxtaposed against the oil paintings hung on the wall and embroidered drapes, gives off the air of impromptu and arrest. I recognise one of the paintings as a somewhat amateur reproduction of one of van Gogh's 'Sunflower' series. It reminds me of better times. The inquisition starts off casually, with the Captain turning on fluorescent lights and adjusting for me a microphone. I know that behind the one-way glass, higher-ranking officials are watching and evaluating my answers, but I cannot be sure of anything beyond what I have heard from the briefings we had before scorched earth protocol was enacted. In any case, all that is moot and of little practical value in light of General Shiro's post-capture announcements.

"Tell me about the Vault facilities," the Captain begins. I believe he knows that I know he's asked my peers this question multiple times, and he seems disinterested in the answer I will give beyond that it reflects what others have said. "Are you aware of the number of Vaults there are?"

"The facilities operated independent of each other. I do not know of others besides ours," my lie is somewhat benign. The independence of each Vault was implemented before researchers or subjects were moved into them as a safeguard against exposure and infiltration. I was more interested in the unbiasedness of such a setup, but even I could not resist stealing glimpses at unattended folders and carelessly placed records to see what the other Vaults were up to.

The Captain starts the recording of a tape-machine. It isn't the conventional reel model we use at our institutions, but is about one third of the size and there are multiple wires leading to a socket in the wall. I am intrigued as to how data is stored on the device if it were to not use reel or film.

"Please state the details of your Vault, your name, position, and serial number clearly into the microphone."

I subconsciously check my English. Though it is formidable even compared to my peers, the Empire's education was reverted to be facilitated entirely in Japanese before I had completed high school. I would not care less for simple grammatical errors, but the challenge of being assessed puts me once again into my old academic stance. It feels good, once again, to be authoritative and somewhat important.

"Vault 7-31 of PingFang under the Empire of Japan. My name is ----, Senior Researcher and Physician number 13884."

"And what projects were you involved in during the past three years."

"All of them," I reply curtly (and smugly), assuming he knows the nature of our experimentations.

"I believe all your experiments were biological in nature?" his tone was more that of confirming than questioning, and I nod in agreement - all the physics Vaults had been relocated to Mongolia a year before for unknown reasons, and I was not privy to what went on in their facilities.

"Please state your answer verbally, Mr. ----."

"Yes. They were predominantly biological and chemical."

"And they were purposed for war?"

"I do not know about that, my interests were purely academic and for the betterment of medical research," this of course being a lie. We were formally told that such was the case, and this would be how we should answer any interrogation, but we all knew the real purpose of much, if not all of the studies conducted at the Vault.

"That isn't what I've been told by your colleagues," he assumes an assertive but aggressive stance. The Captain's moustache is twitching furiously, clearly eager to get to the end of this, to get answers to questions that he could not ask any of my underlings or even any superior from a different Vault. Only I could sate his need for answers, and I felt the need to press this situation to its very end, perhaps even milk it for every advantageous worth I could, even if such an advantage were to be merely my own pleasure.

"What have you been told, pray tell?" I am sure my English syntax bothers him more than my lying at this point.

"That you have been developing biological weapons for the war effort and that your only chance at redemption, salvation, and even survival depends on your divulging it." Before I can utter a response, he adds "I do the questioning here. It would do you well not to forget that in the future."

I lick my lips, which are now dry with anxiety the same way my brow is sweating with anticipation.