He wasn’t sure why, but for some reason it made him feel exceedingly edgy, and he kept shooting darting glances at it, to see if it had changed. There were no windows in the room and only one door, as far as Chatham could see. It, too, was grey, and had no handle. Anyway, he reflected, there was not a lot of point in trying to formulate an escape plan when he was tied to the chair so tightly that all he could move was his head and neck. Chatham couldn’t even feel his fingers and toes; evidently the ropes had cut off his circulation. Chatham groaned.
He was extremely uncomfortable. The chair had a rough surface and he’d already felt the sharp pricks of several splinters pierce his skin. The young man could hear nothing; he felt like he was in a vacuum or that his ears had popped. He was suddenly struck by the realization that he could (and probably would) go mad if he never made it out of this deadly silence, and so strained his ears until he was sure that they would fall off. But still he could not hear a thing. He closed his eyes in exhaustion, and attempted to slump in his chair before remembering that he couldn’t move.
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When he next opened his eyes, Chatham could not remember where he was, UT it soon came back to him as he felt the ropes and the twinge of pain in his backside from yet another splinter. He hoped in vain that someone would come soon; Chatham felt that he had to see someone, anyone, to convince himself that this was not all just a bad dream. After what seemed like a few hours, but in reality was probably only a few minutes, there was a noise. Chatham stiffened. He willed his ears to hear it. It wasn’t very far away. Click, clack, click, clack. It sounded like… H, but his ears had been inactive for so long; he could not remember what made that noise. He cocked his head to one side and listened again. Click, clack, click, clack. And then he had it. Footsteps! Heading in his direction! Chatham sat and waited. There was a jangle of keys. Then one turned in the lock, and the door swung open. As the figure of a man passed through the doorway, Chatham could just make out ;o heavily armed guards standing outside the door, but they did not come in. Evidently they considered one tied up and half starving man to be completely defenseless.
They were right. Chatham had been searched upon arrest for any weapons, food, papers… In fact, they had left him nothing except the clothes that he was wearing now. And, disturbing and disgusting s it may have been, from what he had heard whispered between friends before he had been captured, he was a good deal more fortunate in that respect than a number of others. Chatham turned his attention back to the man, now standing with his back to the door. He stood tall, and erect, with the posture of a man who knew that he held power in his hands. As Jetsam’s eyes reached the face, he gasped.
It was not the disfigurement of the face that bothered him, although the terrible scars and burns covering it were not very pleasant, but it was his eyes. Chatham had never seen a pair of eyes that were so full of hatred. They captivated him, and he could not look away. Not, at least, until the man spoke. “Welcome,” he said in a low voice, “to Room one-o-one”. And that was all. There was silence. Chatham decided to speak. He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. “Water! ” he managed to rasp. He was surprised that he had not previously noticed his thirst and parched throat.
It must have been his attentiveness to the noises of the guards and man approaching. The mysterious figure clicked his fingers and one of the guards entered the room with a jug of water and a glass, and then went and stood to attention by the door. It was strange, Chatham contemplated, that if he had had to choose between being interrogated by the strange man or the guard, he would probably have chosen the latter. This man was different. When he had first come into the room, the air had seemed to get colder very rapidly. The man poured some water and held the glass to Jetsam’s lips.
Chatham drank eagerly. When the glass was empty, it was taken away and given to the guard, who, after a salute to the man, turned on the heel of his brightly polished boot and exited, closing the door behind him. “Who, who are you? ” he stuttered, able to speak again. My name,” replied the man in his gravely tones, “is John Winters”. “I’ve never heard of you,” Chatham puzzled – all of the main interrogators were feared and their names well known to all. “You have. You hear of me every day, every hour, every minute. You hear of me when the sun rises in the morning and when it sets again at night.
I am the most important and powerful man in this whole world! ” “NO,” Chatham whispered. “l don’t believe you. You’re not-‘ “Big Brother! ” shouted Winters. “l am Big Brother! ” He had gone mad, Chatham reflected. This man was crazy. “You’re mad! And crazy’ yelled Chatham, voicing his thoughts. You may be Big Brother, but you’re a wreck! Look at your face. Where’s the perfect, unblemished face that we see staring down at us from the posters? ” He seemed to have touched a nerve; Chatham could see something twitching in Winter’s forehead. “Aha, yes,” he said thoughtfully, calming down a bit, “Miguel. He works for me.
Spanish, actually. Miguel is the public face of Big Brother. If people thought that Big Brother looked like I do, then I would be ridiculed”. He felt his face. ‘ will explain more later. But now, to business. ” This was not what Chatham wanted to hear. He tried in vain to distract Winters, to change the subject. So do I call you Big Brother or John Winters? ” But his efforts were fruitless. “Please don’t annoy me,” Winters growled. “l know when someone is trying to put me off”. He rummaged around in his pocket for a minute, and pulled out a battered and worn looking pair of spectacles, and a crumpled and yellowing piece Of paper.
He placed the glasses on his nose and held the document up to his face. “You are,” he read, “number seven seven nine seven? Correct? ” “No. Am Chatham Hunt,” was the reply. “Let’s try that again, shall we? You are number seven seven nine seven. Correct? ” Again, Chatham replied “No, my name is Chatham Hunt. “For the last time number seven seven nine seven- is that your number? ” The tension was starting to build up, but still Chatham remained defiant. “l have no number,” he stated in a flat voice. ‘II am a human being, not a robot, and my name is Chatham Hunt. ” Winters turned to face the door, and clicked his fingers again.
The enjoy guards entered the room, and marched over to stand behind the chair, out of Chatham;s sight. “This prisoner,” Winters informed them, “needs to go through procedure sixty four. ” The guards fumbled with the knots of the ropes, and then pulled Chatham up by the collar of his work overalls. One of them held him, and the other rolled up his sleeves. His eyes held no mercy. Half an hour later, as Chatham was strapped back into the chair, he was nearly unconscious. He hated himself for giving in and discarding his name for a number, but after that powerful right hook had broken his nose, the pain had won him over.
And those cold, cold eyes (Winters’) had watched throughout with almost enjoyment. How could a man become so cruel? Chatham turned his attention back to the present. This was not over yet, not by a long shot. “Now,” announced Winters, “we’ve still got some things to discuss. ” “Like what? Snarled Chatham. “How much more of this I can take before my body packs up altogether? ” “Now now, let’s try to be civil here. Suggest that you try to keep your temper under control, number seven seven nine seven, otherwise we might have to move onto procedure sixty five – and you wouldn’t want that, would you? ” “N, n, no.
I wouldn’t want that. ” was the swift reply, all traces of defiance removed. “Well then, now that that’s sorted, we can get on with the business. And as you don’t seem to know what I mean, I’ll gladly explain to you exactly what I mean. ” The atmosphere in the room seemed to have changed. Chatham realized that all of the talk and actions that had gone before in this room between him and Winters was insignificant; what really mattered was what was about to be discussed. “You,” stated Winters, “have committed a very serious crime in standing up and publicly declaring that you do not agree with my way of doing things. “But-” “Don’t interrupt! Let me finish. Now, I’m sure that there are many others that think that I’m going the wrong way about things,” Winters said thoughtfully, “but most of them are too scared to say or do anything about it. And that’s all want. I don ;t mind if people don’t like me – after all, I am, basically, evil. But if can control these protesters using fear, then they will not try to incite others to turn against me and revolt. You, however, are an exception. So what can I do to you? You’re not scared of me, or so you said in your little speech.
What would you do if you were me? ” “There’s nothing that you could do to me that would scare me,” Chatham declared boldly. “Nothing? ” queried Winters. “Nothing. ” “Well I have a slight suspicion that you may be wrong there. You see, have cameras and spies everywhere, even in your own dwelling. And so I happen to know that you have… Claustrophobia! ” This new revelation that Winters knew everything about him struck Chatham like a hammer blow. It told him that lying was pointless, because Winters would know whether he was telling the truth or not. He started to panic.
The tension in the air was as sharp as a knife, and Chatham could feel a bead of sweat trickling down his bruised forehead. “Fine! ” he shouted insanely. “Fine. I’m claustrophobic. So what? So what? That doesn’t mean anything. This room isn’t small, it doesn’t affect me! ” “No, it doesn’t. But it will! ” “How? I don’t believe you! “I’ll happily explain the situation then. You see, I had to rack my brains to come up with a way of using your claustrophobia to make you scared of me. What could do to twist your fear into a weapon that could use for myself? ” Twisting a fear into a weapon?
Chatham was starting to get confused with all of this talk, but he held his tongue, as he wanted to hear the rest. Winters walked past Chatham to the wall that was out of his sight. Chatham heard a metallic click, and then his chair suddenly spun round one hundred and eighty degrees, catching him by surprise. He was now facing the opposite wall. It was the same as all of the others, except that it had a lever sticking out of it. Winters’ hand was resting on the lever, and he had a nasty smile on his face. “What do you think will happen if I press this lever down? ” he asked.
Chatham ran over everything he could think of in his mind. In the end he gave up. “l don ‘t know,” he sighed resignedly. “Why don’t you tell me? ” “If that’s really what you want. ” Winters’ smile grew, if at all possible, a little wider. “When press this lever down, the walls of this room will start to close in on you! ” Chatham sat, his mind reeling and eyes wide, hanging on to every last word. Maybe there was something that Winters could do to scare him. “I’m, I’m sure that this isn’t necessary, you know,” he whimpered feebly. “Can’t we just… Talk it over some more? ” “I’m sorry seven seven nine seven.
It’s too late for that now. ” “It’s not, promise you, it’s not! ” squeaked Chatham, his voice getting higher and higher. He was a terrified mouse, whilst Winters was a big Tom cat, toying with him before devouring him. But now it appeared that the cat had got tired of playing, and was about to move in for the kill. Then, it spoke to the mouse. “Before I activate these walls, I’d like to leave you with some thoughts. Firstly, you can ask me any question that you would like, and I will try to answer it. I must cure you Of any curiosity that you may have – indeed, before too long I will have made curiosity illegal!
To me, it is the curse of the human brain and intelligent life. “But that’s stupid! Without curiosity we wouldn’t learn a thing! We’d all be dull, and boring! ” “I’m waiting… ” “For what? ” “Your question, of course! ” “Oh… Yes. Okay then… Tell me why you’re doing this. Tell me what your reasons are for practically ruining the country and reducing the civilians to shreds of their former selves! ” Winters thought for a moment, and then picked his words carefully as he slowly gave his answers. “The people of this country are… Unimportant. They are simple proletariat’s, nothing more.
They are, effectively, my slaves, doing my every bidding. Don’t care what I’m reducing them to. I’m doing this for me! ” “But why? ” whined Chatham. “Why are you doing it? ” “I’m just coming to that,” snapped Winters, a flash of annoyance briefly crossing his scarred face. ‘Be patient! There is a very simple reason for this dictatorship of mine. That one reason is… Revenge! ” “Revenge? ” echoed Chatham. “Revenge for what? ” Will you please just shut up for five minutes? ” roared Winters, spit flying out of his mouth. “I’m trying to explain to you but you keep bloody interrupting! His sanity was leaving him, thought Chatham in awe. This man was terrifying. Or, at least, would have been terrifying to any other man. Not Chatham, though. He sat and waited for Winters to carry on. “Once he had calmed down a little, he continued. “Do you see my face? Look at the scars and the burns. Look how ugly am. And try to understand how having a face like mine has undermined my dignity and self-esteem. When I was thirty years old, and serving in the army, I as piloting a helicopter and shot down by my own men. This was the result,” he said, pointing at his face. And I blamed everyone in Britain for it, for allowing it to happen. I had to have a false leg ; look! ” and he bent over and rolled up his trouser leg. What came into view was a molded piece of metal strapped to the stump of what was left of Winters’ real leg. He rolled his trousers back down again. “It was horrific. So I went into hiding. Was ashamed of my face and my leg. But while I was in hiding I met a man who taught me many things. He was an assassin, a killer. I killed for him. I had become his apprentice. And while was with him, he made me see sense.
I always had a strong character, and anything that I said I was going to do, I did. And so he introduced me to revenge. When my teacher got killed, I shot the man who killed him. And then realized that I could apply this fire that burned within me to Britain. I could get my revenge on the country that had destroyed what had once been a happy life. That’s why I’m doing this. Now I am more powerful than any other man on this Earth, and am satisfied that everybody in Britain would be sorry for what happened all those years ago, ND, had I the chance to go back in time, I’m sure that it would never have happened. So that’s it, thought Chatham. One man who had been humiliated and embarrassed had decided that he would get his own back on the people that did it to him. Only.. “But it wasn’t the people that you’re torturing today! ” he cried. ‘Why us? We didn’t do this to you,” gesturing at Winters’ face. “You’re the easy option! ” he declared. “All British people are the same. Any one of you could have done it, for all care. For that matter, any one of you would have done it! ” There was no point in trying to argue, Chatham realized. The man would not be dissuaded.
Chatham had been so caught up in all of this that he had completely forgotten about the awaiting torture. But Winters hadn’t. “l think that’s enough talk, don’t? ” he suddenly sneered. He pressed the lever down. There was a series of loud clanks. Chatham could hear the sound of cogs and machinery. He started to tremble. He closed his eyes. “Please don’t do this to me! ” he cried out. But when he opened his eyes again, Winters was gone and he realized that his plea had gone unheard. There was another metallic click and his chair spun back round to it’s original position.
Chatham started to think that there was something wrong with his eyes. Everything seemed somehow… Closer. “Help! ” he shouted as the meaning of this clicked into place. “Help me, someone! ” He started to whimper. He looked around. The walls where definitely closing in. Slowly. That would make the torture even worse. Chatham was a caged animal, helpless and petrified. There was nothing he could do except watch. Inch by inch, the walls got closer. Because of the dimensions of the room, only the two end walls were moving, but he would still get crushed between them if they went all the way to the middle.
He whimpered. He was going to die. Suddenly, there was a fizzle, and the black surface that looked like a television screen lit up, to reveal that it was, indeed, a television screen. The picture of Big Brother appeared on it, only, of course, it wasn’t Big Brother, it was the Spanish man… Miguel. He looked around desperately. The walls were getting closer. “Can anybody hear me? ” he warbled. “Please, if you can hear me, help me! ” “l can hear you, number seven seven nine seven. But I’m afraid that I can’t help you. You must help yourself. ” It was Winters voice, amplified through some kind of speaker system.