I woke up feeling like someone had their fingers in my liver. Somewhere between noticing the windowless room around me and identifying the suited men above me as the ones who had been shooting at us, I realized I was right. The son of a skunk ape had what felt like his whole forearm inside the bullet hole in my stomach. By the time I came to enough to really feel the pain, I couldn’t get my clenched teeth apart long enough to scream.
Pulling bloody fingers out of me, suit number one said, conversationally, “So, before catastrophic organ failure or sepsis sets in, how about you tell me where the rest of you freaks are hiding?”
Okay, not-so-funny story time–I’ve never been interrogated before. Well, there was one time when I didn’t know I was drunk, and–anyway. Point is, torture never came up before. Insider tip–it sucks.
I figured I could wait out the suits. I was a lot less concerned about my body’s damage than they were and I definitely planned on being rescued. Eve died, or I wouldn’t be in that situation at all. The rest of the team, however, had been well on their way to taking out that wendigo. They had obviously gotten away from the suits or Mr. Friendly wouldn’t–wow–be practicing his exploratory surgery technique on me.
That threw me for a loop for a while. Eve had, of course, been sensitive; she was an empathetic esper. She also, I discovered, had the lowest pain threshold of anyone I’d ever occupied. I found myself wishing that it had been Marcus or even Lillian to get snuffed. Jumping into Eve’s dead body started to seem like a really bad choice. Not that I had actually had a choice, once that blonde gymnast’s body I had been using took a bullet to the temple–that had been an end to a really nice ride.
I guess they figured I wasn’t any fun if I wouldn’t talk, because they started giving me breathers. This did not provide the relief I would have liked. Being hounded by questions like, “Who do you work for?” and “Where are you based?” and “You’re Iranian, aren’t you?” sort of ruined break time. I mustered my resources enough to give them the finger–Eve was Israeli, so screw them on her behalf–and kept my mouth shut. Trust me when I say, these breathers did not constitute an act of mercy. Passing out or just going into shock would have been a relief, but I remained thoroughly present.
After a while they just stopped asking me questions. Okay, fine by me. I appreciated the quiet. It took all my focus to hold the body together. I could stave off corporeal breakdown longer than even these jackasses could hope to torture me and I would have liked to take Eve’s body home with me, just out of respect for my teammate.
I don’t really know how to describe what happened next. I tuned in for some of it, I think. Water was involved. And battery cables. I don’t… You know how some kids sprinkle salt on snails just watch what happens? It felt like that. The suits, I realized, didn’t give a damn if I told them where we were based. (By that time, I had told them, in no particular order, that we were based in Canada, the Mariana Trench, the moon, and a town called Saticoy.) That was when I realized it and knew I was well and truly screwed– they knew what Eve could do and they thought I was her.
If, as they thought, it had been Eve with battery cables on her toes, with her dismal pain tolerance and excellent ESP, they would have had the equivalent of the Bat Signal if it lit up neon green and played the Star-Spangled Banner whenever you turned it on. Eve could connect her mind to anyone on the team. I can unhappily attest that, if I had her powers, I would’ve been begging the team for rescue hours ago. Having been on the receiving end of some of her past distress calls, the team would rescue her just to get her out of their heads.
Here’s the deal with Eve’s powers – apart from being more socially acceptable than the ability to hijack mostly-dead bodies, her ESP was generally more practical, for herself and others, and it was part of who Eve was. It came from her personality, lovable bleeding heart and all. Unfortunately for me, it did not come hardwired in her body. The powers were gone as irrevocably as whatever soul-like substance defined Eve. I had nothing but the ability to keep a body going when it didn’t want to anymore. That and an ability to be more overpoweringly annoying than you can imagine.
I realized that, not only was my team probably not coming to rescue me, but I did not want them to. These people wanted them to show up. That meant the team would be walking into a heavily-armed and sadistic trap. I was on my own.
“I’m Henry VIII, I am,” I started singing and wow, Eve’s voice sounded ludicrous when singing. I’m pretty sure the suits thought I started hallucinating or something. After a brief interlude of electroshock, I took up the chorus again. One of the suits ducked out of the room. I tried my hand at Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall. I sang a very garbled version of Yankee Doodle, wherein I forgot most of the lyrics and replaced them with poorly rhymed substitutions of my own design.
Halfway through The Song That Never Ends, iteration number eleven, someone new came into my little theater. “What is she doing?” He looked suitier than the rest.
“Annoying the crap out of me,” said suit number two, who had not had the same reprieve as his partner.
I bit my tongue during one of the shocks and my mouth kept filling up with sluggish blood. Spitting started to be too much effort and blood and spittle slicked the side of my cheek. Yuck. Still, I couldn’t sing with a full mouth and I wanted New Suit to get the whole show. “Great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts–”
“You’re obviously not making enough of an impression,” he told suit two. A muscle jumped irritably in his cheek. I got, if anything, louder. Better yet, suit two had the slightly crazy look of someone running on forty-eight hours without sleep.
Once I’m in a body, there’s only one way to get out. If you could commit suicide just by walking out of your body, could you make yourself do it? Me neither and I had the advantage of knowing I’d still be around after I did it. So the only way to get out of there alive was to die. The upside was this: if anyone could annoy a person into homicide, it was me.