Zawmb’yee Continues The Blog, Chap 9
This time, we had gone back to the mevltikacle after lunch. James was still standing, tethered on the agroape. He was shivering. The Yacmyeep had left, and Gacplk and his thugs had returned. Fifteen of Gacplk’s men assembled on the eksikmazm. Gacplk turned his attention toward James.
“Well, James,” said Gacplk, “you’ve had your last meal. I think this time I’ll spin the wheel for you — you have a tendency to wander off.”
“Uh, wait,” said James, “release me from the platform, and I promise not to run, um, and…”
“No, shut up,” said Gacplk. He walked to the pedal of the tikwitipj and stepped on it hard. The wheel spun like a blur of fate. “Rotate James,” commanded Gacplk, “and let him look at the spinning wheel.” While James was looking at the wheel, the firing squad was preparing their weapons.
As the wheel slowed down, James could read the dire choices. He tried to pull his wrists free from the wooden beam. He shouted, “Wait, don’t I get to choose door number two…”
“No, James,” said Gacplk, “not this time. And what makes you think that would have been a better choice?”
James tried to lift his feet up, but the shackles kept his ankles tied to the turntable. James said, “Um, door number three?”
“No, James,” Gacplk growled as the wheel slowed down.
James leaned to one side and then to the other, but this time the turntable didn’t even wobble. “Uh,” he said, “it’s been a long time — a friend of mine will be wondering where I am and will have reported me missing and …”
“Oh, how interesting,” Gacplk said in his sweet insidious voice, “and what is this so-called friend’s name?”
“Um, no, it’s a real person, uh…,” said James almost blurting out a name.
“Perhaps, James, we have this person’s name on our list,” Gacplk suggested, “and if this person is already on the way there’d be no harm in giving us the name. Right? Or is this just an imaginary person?”
James turned his head as much as he could and shouted, “Oh Jack Chelka so glad you came with the National Guard and the police… Jack take cover…”
Gacplk laughed. “James, you can’t even turn your head far enough to see anyone at the entrance…”
“I heard his voice… Jack, watch out…”
“Yes,” said Gacplk, “I suppose you could hear an echo.” The wheel slowed down more.
James pursed his lips and tried to make a sound into a wall like a ventriloquist. His echo said, “Don’t worry James, we have them surrounded…”
“Wow,” said Gacplk, “good attempt, but I think you’re more like the ventriloquist’s dummy. And by the way, Jack Chelka is in Australia at the moment.”
“No,” said James, “the friends of Jack are here. He missed my usual phone call…”
Gacplk said, “Alright, shall we see: the wheel is about to come to a stop…”
“No,” said James as he saw that the section of the wheel that was coming into view had only horrendous names. “I’ve decided now: I’ll take what’s behind door number two…”
Gacplk laughed. “A little late for that fine choice. But now, you don’t get to choose.”
James said, “Door number four.”
“Ah,” said Gacplk. “We have a winner: ‘arrows’.” Gacplk commanded, “Rotate him towards the eksikmazm.”
“Wait. I see Jack’s men now…”
No one even turned to look. The firing squad was getting restless. Gacplk said, “Mount crossbows.”
James said, “Door number one, door number one…”
“Load arrows into crossbows.”
“I didn’t do anything, I was just exploring. I have top secrets I could give you. I have…”
There was a real sound at the entrance to the mevltikacle. Libikzi and the Yacmyeep came running in. Libikzi shouted, “Stop, I have a message.”
“Stand down weapons,” Gacplk commanded. Libikzi approached him with a letter. They met in front of the agroape, looked up at James, and began whispering.
After a few minutes, they both turned and looked at me. Libikzi said, “Fevepo Zawmb’yee, may we approach?”
“Yes, “ I said and nodded to the security detail. Libikzi and Gacplk came through, bowed, and stood in front of Yenkoi and me.
Libikzi said, “May I?” and handed the letter to me.
I glanced at it and turned to Yenkoi. “Gavicte Yenkoi, would you read this over for me.”
Yenkoi said, “May I take a few moments?”
“Yes,” I said. Yenkoi turned and walked a few steps away. Libikzi and Gacplk came closer.
Libikzi said, “Fevepo, the village of Uzpu has a work training program that may be appropriate for James.”
Gacplk said, “Fevepo, James is a dangerous person and he tried to escape. He’s impulsive, and judging by his lies is not very intelligent, liable to do rash and desperate things. He’s probably uncontrollable.”
“Fevepo,” said Libikzi, “he’s easily intimidated and eager to make bargains. Actually, he’s very intelligent but not very clever in negotiations. We can condition him with double-bind dilemmas and simple rewards.”
Gacplk retorted, “May I say, respectfully, Fevepo, I disagree with Libikzi. Given any freedom, he’ll turn violent and cause havoc. There would be less harm if we execute him now rather than later. Or I could propose a compromise: we could try to extract whatever useful information he would seem to have, try to confirm it and then execute him after — but so far he doesn’t seem to know anything useful…”
“I agree,” said Libikzi, “that he doesn’t have useful information, but a well-conditioned slave can be useful if fully re-programmed.”
Gacplk said, “Do you really think you can make him behave? You already had one escape into the up-top world of an incompletely trained agent…”
“We corrected that error,” said Libikzi.
“Thank you both,” I said, “I will consult with Gavicte Yenkoi.” They both bowed and withdrew.
Gacplk gave a signal and the turntable began to slowly spin James. They both walked over to the agroape and stared at James. Gacplk gave another signal and a soapy foam sprayed out from nozzles around the platform, covering James with soap. I overheard Gacplk say to Libikzi, “And his sweat is dangerous with toxins.” Gacplk gave a signal and James was sprayed with rinse water. The water stopped, but they kept him spinning while they argued.
Yenkoi came back. I said to him, “Did you read it, Gavicte Yenkoi?”
He said, “Yes, Fevepo Zawmb’yee. I’m familiar with Uzpu and their programs. They’ve produced some good workers and some good spies.”
“Gavicte Yenkoi, may I have your opinion on James’ disposition.”
“Yes, Fevepo Zawmb’yee,” said Yenkoi tentatively. “May I ask that we discuss this in the presence of the wipzib leaders, Libikzi and Gacplk, if it would please you to do so?”
“Yes, Gavicte Yenkoi,” I said, and we walked over to Libikzi and Gacplk who were still talking in front of the agroape. James was still spinning. They turned and bowed as we approached.
I looked up at James and watched him turn once around. I said, “Gavicte Yenkoi has a recommendation.” Libikzi and Gacplk turned toward him and bowed. I said, “Gavicte Yenkoi, proceed please.”
Yenkoi said, “I think James would be of marginal value in the proposed program and would not adjust properly to the training. His immediate execution would have the least risk, and if I may say, Fevepo Zawmb’yee, a word about your good friend Doug?”
I was stunned. “Yes, Gavicte, what about Doug?” Gacplk and Libikzi looked at each other.
Yenkoi said, “James is an old friend of Doug’s, and if James escapes to the up-top world he could be a bad influence on Doug.”
Gacplk said, “Hmm. Shouldn’t we take Doug in for questioning? Did he mention to James Ziohat anything about a secret cave?”
“No,” I said. I turned towards Libikzi. “Can you guarantee that James will safely behave and you will keep him under control?”
“Yes, Fevepo Zawmb’yee. We will give him careful attention.”
I spoke, “I hereby give custody and supervision of James Ziohat to the Yacmyeep under the command of Pevfexo Libikzi. Thank you and proceed as required.”
Gavicte Yenkoi looked disturbed. Libikzi and Gacplk bowed. Yenkoi and I walked back to our observation area. I said to Yenkoi, “Are we needed here for the transfer of command ceremony?”
Yenkoi said, “No, Fevepo Zawmb’yee.”
I said, “I will take a half-hour break.” I nodded at Libikzi. “You may proceed.”
Yenkoi and I walked out. We had a pleasant conversation about a dinner proposed for the coming evening.