This may be my last transmission for some time. Maybe even forever. As the opposition forces gain territory, it’s getting harder and harder to find a place to transmit. It’s only a matter of time before they find our offices. Oh, goddess! Oh, Keebler Elves! Please help the resistance get us out! It will be an ugly death if we are found here. That is, if they allow us the relative mercy of death. Torture. The word slips from my tongue down my throat and gets lodged there. I’ve always had a weak bladder. Am I going to humiliate myself from the get go? I suppose that’s the least of my worries. I’ll never forgive myself if I give up information on my recruits, our carefully guarded secrets, the resistance forces. We all knew what we were signing up for…but of course we humans are such optimists. “It will never come down to that,” we all said. “The front lines will carry the day.” Pfft. Such dreamers.
The worst torture I’ve heard of is, after weeks of starvation, they strap you to a chair. Then they put a table within feet of you. They come up behind you with chicken dumplings just like your grandma used to make (how do they get that intelligence, anyway?). You can smell them, but you can’t see them. Holy olfactory glands! The aromas make you salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. You sit there imagining the fluffy white mounds of dumplings dotted with bits of fresh Italian parsley poised on a bed of cream-heavy sauce rich with chicken flavor. Studded with succulent chunks of poached, free-range chicken, organic baby carrots, crunchy celery, crisp sugar snap peas, and laced with aromatics–onions, sage, parsley, and thyme. Liberally seasoned with fleur del sel and freshly ground pink, white, black peppers. You remember just what it tastes like, and your mind goes back to your grandma’s kitchen and the love, warmth, and nurturing that she created there. She was so soft and plump, just like grandma’s are supposed to be, smelling of Chantilly and Aqua Net. She showed you just how she made it, so you’d be able to teach your children someday. “My children,” your mind drifts off, will you ever see them again?
You’re ripped from your musings by the sound of a chair being placed by the table. A fat guard in a drab brown uniform sits down and ties a napkin around his neck. While you’ve been starving in your cell, he has obviously been feasting on the leavings of those who have fled the terror, or, worse yet, those who have given their lives trying to push the opposition back. He has three chins and an enormous gut. The guard who has been standing behind you with the platter of dumplings now circles your chair, passing the platter just under your nose. You see the greens and oranges and cream colors and you nearly pass out from hunger and longing. Your knees get weak. You hear the clink of the ceramic plate as it hits the table. Then, suddenly, a door opens behind you. You tense, horrified by the knowledge that some new, demonic torture will soon be introduced. The guard who held the platter laughs in an evil way that makes the marrow of your bones freeze. And before you know it, you see the reason–yet another guard has entered with a loaf of freshly baked farm bread and yes! Yes! Yes! It’s butter! And a jug of fresh cider! You lose control of your bladder as the cider is poured into a clear glass, the amber-colored liquid swirling and eddying, the fresh and tart smell of apples reaching your nose. You try not to whimper. You must not make a sound. If you open your mouth, drool and secrets will start pouring from your lips like water from an open tap.
The moment comes that you have been dreading. He raises a fork full of the creamy, chickeny concoction to his lips and he shovels it into his mouth! He chews loudly, smacking his lips and sighing with audible pleasure. He is clearly enjoying the grumbling of your stomach, so strong that it shakes the cutlery on the table. You pass out. They keep a bucket of water close by for that, and douse you to bring you back to consciousness. You sit there, shivering and miserable, while he eats the entire platter, interspersed with bites of warm, dense, crusty, chewy bread liberally slathered with fresh, pale yellow butter. The ropes they’ve used to bind you to the chair cut into your ankles and arms though you tried not to strain against them.
Soon the first course is consumed, and you taunt the guard for losing three buttons from his shirt as he pigged out. He casts a smug grin in your direction and growls that he’s ready for…dessert. You know they’re saving the best for last. You know it’s going to be bad. They might as well just rip your stomach out while you’re still breathing. You curse the miserable prick in every language you were taught at the academy and brace yourself for the sound of the opening door. The aroma of freshly-picked, ripe strawberries tickles your nostrils and your eyes grow wide at the sight of the perfectly red, plump berries topped with, yes! No! You start to cry when you see the wedges of crisp, golden, dark chocolate-dipped, buttery shortbread nestled on top of pale, freshly-whipped cream. Softly snuffling, tears run down your face. Your mind whispers betrayal, and you grit your teeth to keep from spilling your guts. You keep a picture of your children and your lover in your mind to keep you strong. But it’s oh, so very hard…
Get yourself together, T.! I must stop this. I can’t keep dwelling on what might happen! I must have hope! It may never come to this. We may get out yet! I must wipe the computer hard drive so that our secrets do not fall into enemy hands. Thank goddess Trey smuggled our books and records and notes out long ago. I hope they are safe…our legacy to future generations. I hope he is safe! Should this be my last transmission, please tell my children, Trey*, and my mother and father that I love them. Please tell them I swore to remain strong until the last moment! Please tell them to have hope for the future! We are trying so desperately to make the world a better place! I pray our efforts are not in vain.
Who would have ever dreamed that owning a small but highly successful mom-and-pop diner could lead to this sort of hostile take-over?
Transmission date: 1/24/2011
(Ha ha! Out for a week, Trey will be here tomorrow! Yay! Trey is coming!)