“Paralyzed” by The Cardigans from Gran Turismo
Andrew, my love,
I know we agreed that I should complete my work and return home right away without worrying about keeping in touch with you as there was no need to fear you not being exactly where I left you. However, I have need to record the events of last night and you were the only person I could imagine being strong enough to hear it and faithful enough to keep it secret.
Without disclosing too much, I must begin by saying my team and I were not sent out purely to clean up the environmental disaster the previous administration had enacted upon the land here. That was part of our mission, but it was largely our cover. In fact, we were sent to hopefully find several key scientists of who might have been part of the project that contributed to this ecological disaster and who disappeared sometime prior to the fall of the oppressive regime here.
For days, we found no one and found no clues pointing us to any direction where we might find something. Then, in the middle of the night two weeks ago, we found a note pinned to the door of the local home where we were staying, offering us anonymous hints to where we might find the head of the program, a Doctor Jonosh Gelfer.
The clues were strong enough that we found the building in short order. Our strike team quickly reconned the scene and swept out hostile forces. We inspected the place in short order and it appeared that the lead was either a lie or simply ill-informed.
However, as we left the space, we heard sounds emanating from below the floor boards. An hour later, we had opened up a cavern below the building. There we found Gelfer, tethered to a chair in front of array of screens displaying what I can only describe as torture by image. The aim seemed to be some kind of re-education program in which Gelfer would be held until he “remembered” his loyalty to the state. When the state fell, those who guarded him were dedicated to the fallen government and did not abandon their post. It appears Gelfer had been a captive for nearly a month with breaks only for exercise and to use the bathroom twice a day.
When we freed him and stood him up, he felt skeletal. He was a man in his mid-40’s, athletic if our data is accurate, but his skin felt like paper stretched over his frame. He was unnaturally, horribly light. If you had told me that he was born with hollow bones like those of a bird, I would’ve believed you if you no other reason than to given myself an excuse to minimize the horror of his form.
He was grey head to toe, giving him the look of a monochromatic homunculus. His hair blended into his skin blended into his clothes in a single object of dusty grey.
Even after we turned off the screens, his eyes, shocking green embedded in dreary bleak, remained fixed on them. It seemed as though he not only couldn’t look away but that he didn’t want to. There was a hunger in the way he looked at those screens, a hungry that knotted itself in my gut, they made my skin become a mass of total gooseflesh.
As we dragged him up the stairs he began to speak, rasping, harsh, like sand itself given voice. I did not recognize the word nor the language but he repeated it again and again, louder, increasing in pace and confidence with every moment.
Another team member whispered next to me and when I asked her to repeat herself she did, but quietly, with a tone almost reverent.
“It’s Sanskrit,” she told me, “He’s just saying, ‘I love’ over and over again in Sanskrit.”
An hour later he stopped. All of us were too scared to enter his cell to check on him but are unable to express why. It is as though we fear his madness is contagious and might afflict us all.
Yet, over the next several days, members of our crew would disappear, returning minutes, hours, and, once, days later, unable to explain where they had been or why they went away. We now realized these people are disappearing to the site of Gelfer’s imprisonment and are watching the screens.
My love, I hope this does not too horribly shake you. I debated sending you this missive but I know when I return I will need you and will need to be honest about this if I am to resist the strange temptation those screens in that desolate building in an abandoned part of a dying country seem to have on us. I have resisted going thus far, but I feel it. Inside me. And the idea of giving in…it feels like I felt the first time you laid me down on the grass in the forest behind my parents’ home or the moment I tasted chocolate ice cream on my tongue.
I know I can resist though, Andrew, as long as I can remember you and our love. And this letter will help me do that.
I will remain strong. Please do the same.
You have all my love. You are my heart and soul. I will return to you,