“Vizas Hows,” snorted the guard that had roughed Vizas out of his cell earlier in the day. He had taken him to someplace cooler that Waratia’s general conditions, a lot cooler. Vizas was suddenly appreciating the comfort of his cell.
“Pity you got involved, Vizas. I was thinking of taking you back this time, but you just messed it up.” jeered the voice. Take me back? Back? Where? Vizas had a feeling this wasn’t a Waratia guard, and they weren’t inside Waratia at all.
The cloth on Vizas’ eyes puzzled him. Who used blindfold’s anymore? The cloth was jerked off. Vizas blinked. The room was actually well-lit. The black cloth was, in fact, making it seem dark, and just as Vizas’ eyes adjusted to the best way he could, he saw a man’s figure lurching ahead, walking past the blinding light again and again.
Seriously?! That was so much a 20th century film! What happened to the Tower’s interrogation methods?! And why was he here, surely the Tower couldn’t know already?
A horrid thought crossed Vizas’ mind- was Auxi okay? But he didn’t have much time to think on it.
“How did you know?” cut in the voice that was holding him prisoner.
Vizas had a feeling he had heard it before.
“How did I know what?” said Vizas, stalling for time.
“Oh quit it. I know you’re digging into the S-Crisis. You have been talking to that girlfriend of yours. And she has been to that Tower guy- Bei, was it?” the voice laughed.
“What did you do?” Vizas asked angrily. “What did you to her?!”
“Easy, my friend. Whatever may be her fate, you can really avoid it. I am going to give you a choice to come over. You did have the brains of that centre in Nepal.”
Nepal. And Vizas knew. The excavation team in Nepal he had accompanied. His first experience of exploring lost lands of the past… cold lands specially. But ever since that trip, it seemed, the cold had followed them to their land and taken root.
So who was this man? He must have been on the team… But he didn’t come across as a Tower officer.
Of course! That professor! There was one man who had come along, apparently some academic genius, some historian… But hadn’t he died in that landslide?
“Professor?” Vizas asked desperately.
“Yeah.” the figure laughed again. “Yeah, some professor.”
“What’s going on? Why would you take me prisoner? Why would you do so much to cover a thermal failure, if you really are who you say you are.”
“Vizas, use that head of yours. Why would an old man go to an excavation site and pretend to die, and then come back and pull out people who were asking questions about a thermal failure, as you so bluntly put it? Why would a dead man mask things, Vizas?”
The man walked away suddenly and soon, the blinding light shut off. Vizas’ tried to adjust to the low light all of a sudden, while grappling the meaning of his words.
It wasn’t just thermal failure. This man didn’t die. Then why pretend? In both cases, why was those things done?
“Because he would have something to hide. That’s why a dead man would mask things. That’s why he would fake his own death. He has himself to hide.”
“I knew those lights were unnecessary. Vizas Hows retains his brain.”
“But- I don’t-. Wait. Why were you on that team, really?”
“Aah. I couldn’t tell you that now, could I?”
“Why are telling me anything at all then? Why don’t you just put me where you have put Auxi?”
“Because I know you’ll understand. You’ll cross over. She couldn’t.”
“Cross over? Where to?”
“Vizas, you really need to think. Why would a dead man silence people questioning a conspiracy against their government?”
“Because he’s behind the conspiracy?”
“Probable. But why a dead man?”
“I don’t know! You obviously do! Just drop the riddles!”
Vizas could see clearly now. He looked into the face of the man he had met years ago, a man supposedly dead. Dead man talking. Vizas chilled.
“A dead man would come back Vizas, if he dies for something he didn’t want told and was coming out in the open.”
Vizas put the pieces together.
“And Bei had opened that very problem.”
“That landslide… was that even real?”
“Of course not Vizas. Your Tower is more powerful than you think.”
“Where are you from? You are obviously not one of us.”
“Oh yeah,” chuckled the old man. “Not from around this dumbland. “Vizas, I am perhaps the Tower’s gravest secret.”
“I am a living man from the 21st century. A threat to the Tower’s control, so they willingly cut me a deal. But as for you Vizas, now you know just too much. So you must decide. With me… or dead?”