Article: 178424 of talk.bizarre From: email@example.com (Ed Gaillard) Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: they can't take that away from me Date: 1 Dec 1994 01:42:52 -0500 Organization: Putting the Ding in the _Ding an sich_ Lines: 270 Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Summary: not exactly what ira gershwin had in mind Keywords: private key Status: O Silence and darkness. A feeling of motion, a hospital smell. Then came the redness of bright light against my eyelids. It took a conscious effort to open my eyes. _the way you wear your hat_ Blur and focus. White walls, fluorescent light. I was on a hospital bed, strapped down. A tall man with curly blond hair, dark blue eyes above a surgical mask bent over me. I felt him attach something to my head. Then he stepped behind the bed; a tugging at my skin suggested that he was adjusting some wires. The door opened. A short young woman came in. She wore a blue pillbox hat at a jaunty angle, and a matching raincoat. She put down the brown bag she carried, and hung up her coat and hat. Underneath, her white lab smock was as shapeless as such usually are, but she obviously had a good figure. Reddish-brown hair, very pale skin, full lips, cute face -- she seemed vaguely familiar. _the way you sip your tea_ She opened the bag, took out a deli-type cup, and removed the lid. I noticed the string of a tea-bag hanging down the side of the cup. In my profession, you have to notice details. Wait a second -- what *was* my profession? _the memory of all that_ "He's ready for questioning", said the man. She drank, holding the cup oddly, with only two fingers. That seemed familiar, too. "Good. You may leave." She seemed to be in charge; he left. "So. What do you know?" "Not much, apparently." "Good. Do you know who I am?" She glanced over my head as I replied. "I feel like I should." She frowned. "And do you know where you are?" Again the upward glance -- I assume there was some kind of monitor there. "Not exactly. New York, I think." This time she looked startled, and peered closer at the monitor. "Why do you say that?" "Because I've never seen that type of paper cup come from anywhere but a New York Greek deli." _no! no! they can't take that away from me_ She relaxed. "I see. You're still very observant." "Still? So, do you know who I am?" "Perhaps. Do *you*?" I didn't answer that. I didn't know. She was looking at the monitor, smiled slightly, and nodded. "Good. You're progressing well, then." "This is progress? Doc, where's the rest of me?" She laughed at that. A nice laugh. I felt like I should like her, except that I was strapped down. Which reminded me. "So why the restraints?" _the way your smile just beams_ "To keep you from leaving." "Oh, *thanks*. That's very informative." "It's for your own good." "People say that to me a lot, but it's never true." She smiled wider. She had a very pretty smile. "You don't actually remember whether people often say that to you." She was right. I didn't. She didn't need the readouts; my face was enough. She laughed again. It was a nice laugh, like I said, but I was beginning not to like it. "I'm going to ask you some questions now. Don't worry, you won't be punished for withholding information. I don't care what the answers are." Somehow that scared me more than threats would have. She asked questions about me, my family, my job. I didn't know many answers. She checked the readouts after each question. Sometimes I stayed silent, sometimes I answered honestly. Sometimes I lied -- that made her smile. She moved on to questions about cryptography, about computer networks. Those didn't even feel like they should be familiar. _the way you sing off-key_ Finally, she stopped. "Fine. You're doing really well. You're going to get some sleep now. I want to question you again when you're rested, to see how the results are different." Smiling, she went to a cabinet across the room and fetched a hypodermic. She pressed the needle into my arm. "Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleeeep my baaaaaby," she crooned. I think she intended the tune to be Brahms' lullaby. It was hard to tell. _the way you haunt my dreams_ Fortunately, I didn't have to endure it very long. My vision blurred and dimmed. When it cleared again, my dreams were strange. Twilight and shadow. A park. New York -- I can see the Empire State Building in the distance. My captor steps away from a park bench, stops, smiles, opens her raincoat. She is naked underneath; her body is magnificent. I feel my face tighten in a grin as I walk toward her. I am about to say her name, I think. She pulls a gun from her coat pocket and fires, four times. Slow motion. I can see each bullet moving toward me, feel it hit, see the blood begin spraying. Obviously, my unconscious is controlled by Sam Peckinpah. Static. Heat. Mud walls. Through the window, I can see desert. I hand a thick Manila envelope to a short black man. "This is it?" he asks. "Yeah, the data's all there. Where's mine?" "Right behind you," he says, and I feel a knife slide into my back. Static. A whirl of faces. Most of them feel as if they should be familiar. Family members? Friends? Who are they? Her face rushes past me, and her assistant's, I think. The others are just past the edge of meaning. A classroom. The hiss of a radiator. A Russian accent droning something about prime factorization algorithms. A pain in my arm -- I look, and a giant wasp withdraws its cartoon-like stinger and flies away. _no! no! they can't take that away from me_ I turn my attention back to the lecture. The Russian has been replaced by my captor's voice, something about direct over-stimulation of the memory centers... techniques derived from electro-convulsive therapy. "Oh, he's coming around." I opened my eyes. She was there, with her assistant, and an old man in a wheelchair. "Strange to think that all that information could be locked up in his head," he said with a sandpaper voice. "Stranger to think that we can throw away the key," she replied. "That remains to be seen." She shrugged and approached the bed. "Had a nice rest?" "Not really." _though we may never, never meet again on the bumpy road to love_ "Too bad." There wasn't any sympathy in her voice, of course. She turned to the wheelchair. "Watch the monitors, now," and to me, "what is a number field sieve?" "A what?" "Notice that the waveform indicates he can't access that." The old man nodded, and said, "but how do you know that's permanent?" "Random questioning. What do you think of when I mention Madison Square?" "Huh? The Knicks. Prizefights." Then I shut up. The Garden isn't at Madison Square. There's a park there... _still i'll always, always keep the memory of_ "See? That pattern indicates a partially successful retrieval. By using a sequence of random questions, we can stimulate the memory pathways and assess the damage." She turned back to me. "What's your degree in?" "Comparative Literature." "A lie, see?" (to the old man). "When did you get it?" "1982." "And that's a truth-pattern after the retrieval, not that it matters." More questions. Names. Was one of them hers? Was one mine? Bits of memory floated into my mind. Algebraic theory. Intelligence operations. What? I couldn't remember anything about either. Could I? It would have been a good idea not to think, not to search my memory when she asked her questions, but I couldn't stop. My own mind was betraying me, there on the readouts above my head. Finally, she asked about factoring methods again. It rang a bell, this time. I kept silent -- a lot of good *that* did. She looked at the monitor and frowned. The old man said, "that looked like a working retrieval-pattern." _the way you hold your knife_ "Yes, he does seem to be regaining some memory. But how much? He's obviously trying to block it out. I'll have to use the mechanicals." That did not sound encouraging. The assistant brought a tray containing some very nasty-looking instruments. She looked them over, and picked out a scalpel. "This will do for a start." She bent over me. I felt the knife bite into my chest. _the way we danced 'till three_ I would have liked to take the torture stoically, but my body had other ideas. Soon I was writhing against my bonds, moaning. As she worked, she asked more questions, a constant stream, not waiting for answers, but glancing occasionally at the monitors. "What does the Flatiron Building mean to you?" "Have you ever been to Santa Fe?" "How would you break a Vigenere cipher?" _the way you changed my life_ As she questioned me, I remembered. Images from my dreams combined and strengthened. I remembered books filled with numbers. Code. I remembered passing documents in the shade of adobe walls. And I remembered a park, her eyes flashing in the twilight, her lips against mine, a triangular building across the street behind her. "I remember. I know who you are, what I am. I know your name, you're -- you are --" But the name wasn't there, and _no! no! they can't take that away from me_ the memories didn't make a complete story. She smiled and stepped back. "Good. We're almost done. A lot of the information is still there, but it's becoming increasingly inaccessible. It won't take many more sessions." She turned to the assistant. "Prepare him. The equipment _no!_ should be recharged by now." She left. The old man touched the controls of his chair and followed. The assistant came up with sponges and bandages, wiped up the blood, unhooked the monitor. I heard her voice, "I'm ready. Bring him." And he wheeled my bed into a brightly-lit room, its _they can't_ walls covered with strange-looking electronic equipment. I felt her fingers gently press my temples as she attached electrodes. Then she picked up a hypo and injected me. "OK. Power on." _take that_ White light and _away from me_ silence.