Talents

F@#! Andy Warhol, and his 15 minutes... I’ve got a life-sentence!

Some of us can do something special now. A talent, a... super-power. We are, all of us, unique. Special. But some of us are more special and unique than others. I can talk to things and they talk back to me.

The government rounded us up, of course. All that noise and drama, about “never again?” Tell that to the victims of Pol Pot, tell that to the corpses that drifted downriver to Hong Kong from behind the Bamboo Curtain, or victms of the Soviet Gulag, or the people in Darfur. And it happened here, because when people are scared, they do whatever it takes to feel safe again.

I know all about that, and I don’t even really blame them.

They all had their reasons; power and patriotism, curiosity, pity, revulsion. Some of us went meekly, and some of us fought the good fight, and some of us committed death by cop, or platoon, or predator buzz-bomb... I ran away to the mountains, and asked, ’rock, won’t you hide me?’ That worked for a while. I was sneaky. I was clever and quick. I never killed anybody, because... corpses talk to me, too. I finally came in on my own, because I was cold, tired and hungry. And I wanted someone human to talk to for a change.

I will admit, they are handling this better than we had any right to expect. Or maybe that attitude is Stockholm Syndrome, identifying with the people who have control over me? They take some of the ’Talents’ away from time to time. Sometimes they are sedated, in a wheelchair or strapped down like Hannibal Lecter, but mostly in zip-ties and looking hopeful.

“That won’t last long,” I overheard somebody say.

“What do you mean?” He was a monster with sharp detachable blades all over. His hands were in boxing gloves. I took an involuntary step back.

“The Feds own them. If they’re useful and play nice, they’ll get a little, heh, freedom.” He spit. “If they don’t, or don’t produce, it’ll sour quick.”

“Is that what happened to you?”

He just stood there for a moment, and then said, “I encouraged you there, so it’s not right for me to snap at ya, but you don’t ask people that in here. It isn’t polite, or healthy.”

“Sorry—”

“No, that was my bad.” He didn’t move, so I did, but he called after me. “I didn’t like what they wanted me to do...”

I felt bad, later, when they found him in his cot, his gloves carefully sliced off and his throat cut with one of his own blades, in his own hand. There are ways out of here, but I don’t like most of them.

Ω

Vincent L. Cleaver works in a factory in Clayton DE, as an assembler and electrician, and likes to write on the back of used paper at breaks and lunch-time (plus fold and blow up an occasional origami rabbit, or draw a planet map). He mostly writes sci-fi, with a little fantasy and horror, and currently one of his stories, the Designated Hitter’s Lament, is on the Tales of World War Z website

Other works by Vincent L. Cleaver