Chapter 15, Grilled
Chapter 15: Grilled
Thomas shifted his position uneasily during the briefing, He felt that Doctor Roth was on his side from the beginning, as was Dr. Mendel and Dr. Xavier and Leah. On the other hand, he felt as if his answers were being scrutinized and picked apart, particularly by Doctor Perkins and Doctor Burns. They would make a note in their papers after everything he said, they seemed friendly, but he had to think hard before he answered any of their questions. Tricky questions; Did you get happy stepping on the people? Did you get excited? Do you know what we mean when we say “excited”? Did you think you would have done the same things if people were watching you? The whole city was watching me, thought Thomas.
Thomas was glad Leah had met with him shortly before the session began, as he was dressing. She wanted to warn him, as to what he could expect. It turned out, her advice was helpful.
“You have to answer the questions truthfully” She emphasized, “But you do not have to go into any extra detail” He looked at her with questioning eyes.
“Be honest, but don’t tell them any more then they ask for.” Thomas cocked his head,
“If they asked you if you destroyed something, be honest. If they ask you if you enjoyed it, just say something like,” I did what I had to.” That’s true, isn’t it Thomas?” He nodded. Leah was afraid that she was influencing Thomas’s answers, but she truly did not want Thomas to get in any trouble this late in the game, and she knew what to expect. She did not like nor trust either Dr. Burns or Perkins, and was not sure about the real reason behind their fact finding mission.
“You have to demonstrate that you acted logically, and not emotionally, do you understand what I’m saying?”
“I think so,” Thomas said.
“Look at me Thomas” She coached,
“Did you get any pleasure, stepping on things?” Leah asked. Thomas lowered his eyes and nodded yes. He expected a slap or a disappointed look or worse, disgust and loathing. Leah gave him a gentle hug,
“They don’t have to know that” Leah whispered. “OK? You just did what you had to, to try to save the Jump, right?” It was true, Thomas nodded.
“You didn’t want to kill people, right?” That was true, at least in the beginning. He nodded again.
“That’s good, you are going to do just fine” She said, leaving his dressing room.
Leah would have a private talk with her Father, later this evening and share her thoughts.
Dialogue between the Doctor and his daughter;
Leah sat on the couch facing her fathers chair, He seemed tense, and even nervous, patterns of behavior that only his daughter would notice, He held the cup of Earl Grey, in his stoneware beige mug, but he was not comfortable as Leah related her talk with Thomas.
“It’s my fault” She apologized,
“I put the idea in his head, to laugh at the next mishap, He was emotionally damaged by the Failed test two weeks ago, If we had any hope of bringing him back I needed to relieve his guilt, he blamed himself for not saving the buildings” Dr Mendle winced and spoke,
“We promised Nan that we would not hurt the boy” He sighed,
“And yet we awaken and open the traumatic wound of reliving his parents death. Then we tell him to relax, and we test him unaware” The Doctor set the tea down, and shook his head,
“We have not been fair to him, and he is already walking a fine line between emotional trauma and hyped up expectations. And now our testing has revealed the, "Monster from the Id" Anger, Rage and Aggression, Good Lord” The doctor shuddered. He looked across the candle lit room to his daughter,
“He’s a boy. Just eleven years old, and we are asking too much of him. I have a good mind to call off the project”
Leah had been anticipating this, It is logical that her father, a deeply sensitive soul, would take responsibility for his charge She respected her Fathers opinion, but knew that his dream of saving the Towers was on the brink.
“Thomas acted with abandon, it was the only thing he had recourse to, he was following my instructions.” She looked down, and confessed,
“He told me in detail how at first, he tried to save the mission, he even conducted experiments, like shearing off the top of a building, And trying to handle the people, . He got frustrated, and after twenty minutes without contact, he began to act with abandon, make it a game.
I believe he was influenced by his young nephew Ralph, who sounds like a little monster. It was not the sweet Thomas we know, something snapped and his size and power dominated his actions. He admitted with gory details, to enjoying stepping on the crowds about him. This, I believe is what Dr’s Perkins and Berns are after. It would invalidate the project, to think we would be letting a monster destroy the city, we know better” She glanced at Her fathers downturned face,
“Thomas is resilient, in his heart he wants this project to succeed. We all do. No more psychological testing for him. He has a maturity beyond his years I know we can rely on him. I can counter Perkins and Burns, they will want to do more interviews, I will put that on hold till I find out more about their motives and their influence”
The doctor looked up, and studied his daughters resolve, It made him proud, He had faith in the boy, always had, The destruction the boy wrought was horrifying to think of, had it played out in the real world, countless thousands would have been killed. Horrible, Beyond horrible”, And yet a notion from the back of the Doctors mind struck him by surprise. The boy would have been a force of nature, awesome to behold in action. He shook off the thought, attributed it to the evil inclination, and said a quick prayer for forgiveness. Then he glanced at his daughter,
“We shall commence testing tomorrow as scheduled.”