There's an old palindrome, "Able was I ere I saw Elba," which is supposed to be a line of Napoleon's, but it's based on a fallacy. St. Helena was where Napoleon died in exile; he came back from Elba. I mentioned this to Nambu the other day, or maybe it was a few months ago, I can't recall. He comes down here to gloat at me fairly frequently.
"This is Elba," I said.
The one thing I like about Nambu, gutter slime though he is, is that he's bright. I can say something like that and he'll pick up on it right away. "No," he said gravely. "St. Helena."
"*Elba*," I insisted. "You'll see."
"Perhaps." Then he asked me some questions, which were so unimportant that I don't remember them. And I never answer his questions anyway. Well, almost never. Only if there's something in it for me. I'm just using him, you know. Then he gave me a newspaper article that I didn't believe. "Oh, this is such an *obvious* forgery, Nambu," I snarled at him. "You're just trying to break me down!" When I get out of here, he'll be the first one I kill.
I'm leaving soon. I received a secret message recently that said I would be rescued soon. Able will I be when I see the back of Elba, and the sooner the better.
Let me describe my life, here at Elba. I have two rooms. One, I call my bedroon. There is a bed in it, a good reason for calling anything a bedroom, but it's not a real bed, because they're afraid of boxsprings. I call it "carresquiglophobia", fear of square squiggly things. The bed consists of essentially a wooden slab (padded-- no sharp corners!) with two mattresses and a futon piled on it. There are no sheets. This is a source of grave irritation. They say the room's warm enough, but that's not the *point*-- how am I supposed to feel secure with no sheets? I tried sleeping under the futon, but it was too heavy. Then I tried doing gross and disgusting things for the camera, so they would give me sheets. I think they're afraid I will kill myself. And I just might if I keep having to go without sheets. Towels, too. I have no towels.
There is a toilet in my bedroom, padded so I can't smash my head on it. I tried clogging it and flooding the room, but it didn't work. There's a water sprayer and dryer inside (for *hygiene*!) but no toilet paper, not since I clogged it. The shower, too. There's a shower head, a drain, soap, shampoo and depilatory, all guaranteed Non-Toxic, but no towels-- there's a heat blower I'm supposed to use to dry off. I usually use the futon instead. What kind of life is it without *towels*? And I don't have a mirror, either, or a toothbrush. I guess they don't care if my teeth fall out of my head. So much for humane captivity.
I do have a terminal. It is set into the wall by my bed, and I doubt I could rip it out if I tried, which I haven't. It hasn't got a keyboard. Instead there's a light pen. There are two modes to my terminal-- library and notepad. I can store 600 K worth of documents in notepad form; after that the older ones start erasing themselves. In library mode I can access a thousand books, all of which I've read twice by now. The Biological Doctor says this is more than I deserve, and I should be in a straitjacket on the cement floor of a loony bin. I told him this was a marvelous idea, since I can get out of any straitjacket ever made in ten minutes flat.
There is a corridor from my bedroom to my living room-- short, but just long enough to pace if I feel I need the exercise. In the living room there is a couch, a chair and a table. All these are bolted down, as is my bed, and the cushions are non-removable. (Believe me, I've tried.) There are no sharp edges anywhere. This is where I entertain guests, and I personally think I'm very entertaining. At least, I amuse myself, which is all that keeps me sane in this place.
When they decide I am to have a visitor, either my dinner arriving or a psychiatrist or Nambu come to gloat, a voice comes on ordering me to go to my bedroom. If I disobey, first a loud, obnoxious noise comes on, and then they start pumping out the air. The one time I stayed anyway, I asphyxiated and woke up in my bedroom, having been carried there. Nowadays I go to my bedroom myself-- it's best to maintain one's dignity under pressure. Once I'm in the corridor, the door to the living room shuts, so I can't get back in. There is an exit someplace in the living room where the guests come in, that only opens when I'm locked out of the living room. I haven't been able to find it yet. Soon, though.
When the visitor is in the living room and the exit has disappeared again, they open the living room door and a chime comes on, telling me to go there. As I am not Pavlov's dog, I don't always respond to the chime. But they have punishments for if I don't. If it's food, and I don't go eat it, they don't feed me again for an entire sleepcycle, which feels like a minor eternity. If it's a visitor, and I don't go, they turn off my terminal. This can get depressing. When there's no food and no visitor, the only things there are to do here are masturbate and play with my terminal, and masturbation grows tiresome fairly quickly. So I find it more intelligent to answer the chime, most days.
There are five guests, besides Nambu, that I usually have, in rotation of some sort-- four psychiatrists and the Biological Doctor. They all have names, but I've made up new names for them, because I enjoy annoying them. The first is a middle-aged man I call Papa Freud, since he is a doctrinarian Freudian, or in other words a narrow-minded fool with a dirty mind. Papa Freud believes psychosexual conflict is the root of everything that's wrong with me. A brilliant deduction, that. I can't imagine where he got *that* idea. It is very easy to rattle his chains, since I know more psychobabble than he thinks I do. It's very inconvenient for a psychiatrist to treat an insane genius who's studied psychology, I imagine. Insane geniuses aren't supposed to *know* any psychology, or you can't treat them.
"Tell me, Doctor," I said. "If I have an Oedipal fixation, who is it I want to fuck, my mother or my father? Or both? And does it change the data any to know that I never knew my mother and I blew my father's brains out when I was 21?"
"I don't think you have an Oedipal fixation," he said.
"An oral fixation, then. Or an anal fixation, they're both fun. If I have an oral fixation, does that mean I give good head?"
He'd heard that one before, I'm sure. "No, the normal categories don't precisely apply to you--"
"What a wonder. Tell me, Doctor, why are you so interested in my sex life?" He is, you know. Constantly asking me for all the perverse details. I would make things up to shock him, but you know, I can't think of anything really shocking that I haven't actually *done*, so usually I just tell him the worst bits of truth I can remember. "What is this *fascination* for hermaphroditic sex? Does my fluidity of gender attract you? Perhaps you're repressing latent homosexual desires. Would *you* like to be a woman at will? Or perhaps it's what I represent-- power, the death force, Shiva/Kali? Do you want to fuck me?"
"We're discussing *your* desires."
"Maybe *you* are. I'm discussing *yours*. Tell me, Doctor, would you like to find out if a hermaphrodite without an oral fixation gives good head? Purely in the interest of science, of course. And you don't even need to go into a homosexual panic-- I'm female now. See?" I leaned back, licked my lips and pulled my prison issue shirt over my head. I wasn't wearing a bra underneath. They're afraid I'll kill myself with a bra. "Come on, Doctor, I'm horny. I've got a male libido in a female body, and it's a long time since I've gotten any. Right now, I'd fuck a sheepdog, and you bear a strong resemblance. Know where I can find a sheepdog?" His eyes bugged out as I fondled my breasts, and he hastily ordered me to go to my room so he could leave. It's fun to play mind games with Papa Freud.
Second is Biology is Destiny, or BD for short. Not to be confused with the Biological Doctor. BD thinks all my problems are rooted in my hormones. She is a big fat earth mother of a woman with stupendously huge breasts and lots of makeup. I suspect she's got PMS and a ticking biological clock. I also suspect there's silicone in them thar hills, and I've always wanted to squeeze her breasts to see. Well, be honest-- that's not the only reason I want to squeeze her breasts. Like I told Papa Freud, I'd fuck a sheepdog, and BD certainly qualifies. She's always taking blood samples (one of these days I really must persuade her to take a semen sample) because she thinks my hormone levels predict my behavior. I have a surprise for her-- she doesn't know I can control my own hormone levels. I've been shifting to high testosterone every time she takes my blood, and acting mellow. One of these days I will shift to high progesterone, the mommy hormone, and just as she is sure I'm going to be sweet and motherly I will knock her down and squeeze her breasts. Papa Freud would have something to say about my fixation on BD's breasts, I'm sure, but then I'm more of a man than he is, even when I'm a woman.
The third is Tell Me About Your Childhood, shortened to Childhood. He thinks everything can be traced to-- guess what-- my childhood. (Surprise, surprise.) He's sort of a combination behaviorist Freudian, if such a thing is imaginable-- a skinny man with a little pencil mustache. I told him in male phase one day that a mustache of that size indicated a very teeny weeny, and offered to compare. Now I tell him elaborate lies about my childhood and contradict myself on occasion just to see if he'll notice. Usually he doesn't. What an ass. I've especially embellished the tales of my prowess among homosexual men, and someday I'm going to lick his ear and send him through the roof.
The fourth psychiatrist is Warm Fuzzy. She believes my problem boils down to the fact that I never got any love and affection, and is very much into Gestalt therapy and hug therapy. She is always trying to get me to be "in touch" with myself, which means breaking down and crying because I never had a mommy to hug me. She thinks I lack simple human contact. Someday I am going to teach her what *I* know about the effects of human contact-- I'm going to drag her into the bedroom, where they can't asphyxiate me, and rape her. *There's* some human contact for her. Maybe that will shut her up.
Then there's the Biological Doctor, a grizzled man who deals with my medical needs, such as they are, which is to say, they aren't. He hates me passionately, which I like. I believe his wife was killed in one of our attacks on a city or somesuch. I'm not sure-- he's never specifically told me, and I've never specifically asked, mainly because I've never specifically cared. He would cheerfully see me dead, but since the courts saw fit to put me here, he will take care of me. Sometimes I flaunt my privileges at him, but not too often-- there's only so far someone who hates you can be pushed. I can handle hate-- it makes me feel important. He is the only one I've never fantasized about sexually assaulting, probably because I know he'd kill me.
Of course, Nambu comes here sometimes to gloat and give me forged newspaper clippings, like the one where it claimed he'd destroyed Cross Karakoram. In the first place, he couldn't have known about Cross Karakoram, because I would have had to tell him and I'll never talk, never. In the second place, Sosai would never have let him. And it's ridiculous to believe that the Science Ninja Team could destroy Sosai, like the article said. Nambu's just trying to break me so he can make me talk, but I never will. Never. And Sosai's going to get me out of here soon, I know. He spoke to me in my head recently, telling me I would get a chance to escape. Very soon now.
I'll show Nambu St. Helena. I'll lock him up in a tower where he never, ever sees the sun, and I'll let him rot away until he dies there. Able was *Nambu* ere I saw Elba. I'm going to take him and hurt him every way I can.
The other day my old lover Andre showed up. I don't know how he got past the security, and he wouldn't tell me. He had a message for me. "Everything's set up," he said. "Just as soon as we get the word, you can waltz out of here. You know, I've never seen you waltz. It might be fun."
"I can think of far more amusing things to do than waltz, now that you're here," I said.
"So can I," he said.
So we tore each other's clothes off and fucked like crazed weasels. They don't give me much of a wardrobe-- I get a new prison issue shirt, pants and underwear every week or so, and they take the old one away. Andre left afterward, and I told Nambu, gloating about how pathetic his security system is and how soon I'd escape.
"That didn't happen, you know," he said. "We have you monitored."
Shows how much *he* knows. Andre could easily have gotten past the cameras. Anyway, Nambu lies all the time. I *didn't* tell him anything. I don't care what he says.
Any day now Sosai is going to get me out of here. Nambu doesn't believe me when I tell him this. "I realize you're trying to deny the truth, but Sosai X is dead. Galactor is destroyed. It was the information *you* gave us that enabled us to destroy them, remember?"
"I never gave you any information and I never will. Never."
"You *did*. Don't you remember? The isolation chamber?" You see how he makes things up. "You cracked completely. That's why you're here. What was left of your sanity snapped when we broke you, and you were determined incompetent to stand trial. Don't you remember?"
"You're just trying to break me, Nambu. Don't think you can lie to me--"
"I don't *need* to break you. I already *did*." He put on a sad face. "You were never sane-- but it's sad to see just how badly damaged you are, now. You live completely in a fantasy world, and you refuse to accept the truth about what happened. I feel bad for you-- we should have made some attempt to heal you, not break you completely. But it had to be done..."
"Don't waste your pity on me, Nambu," I said. "I'm going to be rescued very shortly, and then we'll see who deserves pity."
"No." He shook his head. "You won't be. This is your St. Helena, I'm afraid."
I smiled my nastiest smile. "Elba, Nambu. Elba." He was scared off by my smile, so he left.
So now I'm waiting for the word, and when it comes I'm out of here. Sosai would never abandon me, I know. He'll get me out of here, very very soon. Nambu will see.
This is not St. Helena. This is Elba.