God's First Mistake
Summary: If Sark has an inner monologue, what might it be after season 3's finale?
Spoilers: Season 3
Disclaimer: The author claims no ownership of the characters. She is not making a profit from their appearance here, and no celebrity endorsement is implied. In other words: don't sue.
. . .
He tells himself that as he isn't dead, he must be getting stronger.
(Which is not to say Nietzsche is infallible. Woman was God's second mistake? He's inclined to take issue with Friedrich on that score. Irina would give him an argument, were she here).
As a mantra it is apposite enough: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Strength is a moot point, just at the moment. Bones broken under extreme stress need hours of physiotherapy before they can be exercised safely and the chances of getting physiotherapy while residing in the custody of the CIA are rather less than the chances of exercising with any efficacy in one of their cells. (He's an insect under glass, their pet scorpion to be stared at night and day; they would like to see him scurry but he schools himself to stay still, be tranquil. Patient).
This is the worst of these periods of imprisonment: the peerless tedium. That and the taste in his mouth from breathing stale air and eating off tin plates scalded clean, the food absorbing the overriding taste of metal. Even the water is de-oxygenated, dead.
(But what can you expect? This isn't Claridges, or even the Randolph).
To begin with, they use the cast on his arm as an excuse for not allowing him to get wet, to shower. When they do allow it, the shallow slop of soap and water makes him crave a deep long bath, sandalwood-scented. Cologne to follow, Spanish Leather or Astor, purchased from Curzon Street, Mayfair, in a crown-topped bottle, under royal warrant.
He is becoming an expert at torturing himself with thoughts of what he cannot have. A glass of Château Pétrus, 1982. A hot bath. His own clothes, clean.
(Funny the things that come back to you. He remembers lime-washed doors along Chelsea Embankment, painted in colours with names like Arsenic and Bone, Savage Ground, Stony Ground - colours that don't exist this side of the Atlantic - and he catches himself daydreaming in idle moments of murdering the man responsible for electric blue neon, stringing him up, seeing him kick).
Since it seems to be his destiny to spend time in these cells awaiting the upshot of whatever machinations the minds of these men can muster, he may as well amuse himself in any way he's able. The Nietzsche mnemonic soon pales.
Man is at his most evil in solitude. More proof of Friedrich's fallibility.
Never yield to remorse; remorse is simply adding to the first act of stupidity a second. That at least has a certain ring to it.
Pain is the father of pleasure. An arm broken in two places and dislocated in a third tends to put that banality in its proper place.
Not that he begrudges Agent Vaughn his moment of vengeance, of viciousness. It was worth it, to bring the man to his level. How much did Vaughn enjoy doing it? The enjoyment must have cost the boy scout a few sleepless nights, confronting demons whose acquaintance he himself long ago outgrew, negligent of their power just as he was negligent of his body during that interview. Take my arm and break it. Do it again. A third time. And when you have quite finished, I will give you the information you want. A consolation prize for letting go of your self-control so savagely, so spectacularly.
Does Agent Vaughn sleep well at night? Probably. Predictably.
He lives for the nights. Left alone in the dark he feels out the damage done to his face. The broken nose and cheekbone are healing, slowly. He needs to know the extent to which he can trade off his altar-boy looks when they decide to let him out of here. But he won't give them the satisfaction of seeing him do it.
He exercises his body to the best of his ability. They don't attempt to stop him. He wonders if they have some plan in mind, other than a life sentence. If, indeed, they intend to spring him from behind these bars, back into their service. (Good luck to them if that is the case; his loyalties may moonlight, but his agenda is immutable. The wonder is they haven't worked that out for themselves before now).
He keeps his mind agile by dredging up passages from Huysmans (finite pleasures, infinite needs), from Baudelaire (to each his monster), from Villiers de L'Isle-Adams (death had destroyed the enchantment). By attempting to recall every last detail in Puvis de Chavannes' Decollation of St John the Baptist (how many branches on the tree behind the baptist's head - eight?). Makes and models from the Sturm Ruger armoury (A356T aircraft-quality aluminium alloy, P95 and P97 custom compounded polymer). The roll call from Mack the Knife (Louie Miller, Jenny Diver, Sukey Tawdry, Lotte Lenya, Lucy Brown).
Sometimes, out of boredom, he strikes further back into his memory. At school in England he was force-fed for three terms the work of the Romantic poets. Nauseating. But there is one quote that preys on his mind: "Now hatred is by far the greatest pleasure. Men love in haste but they detest at leisure." Byron, the incestuous syphllite.
Detesting at leisure has become a necessary indulgence, in this place.
He takes care, whom he detests. Not Vaughn. Neither of the Agents Bristow. Not himself, although it would be easily done given the myriad miscalculations that led to this indecorous punishment. (But remorse, remember? A second stupidity).
He restricts himself to despising the men who bring him food, who accompany him to the bathroom, look when they think he's not watching and touch when they think they can get away with it. It would be harder not to hate them, frankly.
In this way, he survives. It is a sign that he is getting stronger, the amount of time he spends tormenting himself with thoughts of what he cannot have.
(Was it Shelley who said Hell is a city much like London? Reason enough to despise the Romantic poets. Bryon, bled to death by his own physician, ham-fisted, club-footed imbecile. Shelley, set afloat on a burning pyre as if a grandiose gesture could atone for a lifetime of mediocrity. Which is not to say that given the choice he wouldn't opt for spontaneous combustion or even leisurely bloodletting over this squalid death by boredom).
He wants to sharpen his wits, could use the whetstone of their antagonism if they weren't being so miserly with it. What does it take to make these morons shed their masks and indulge their disapproval? Should he bathe in blood, feast on the flesh of the innocent? Blow up a few more of their buddies? It's becoming tiresome, their stoic acceptance of his iniquity.
Having plundered his brain to the best of its ability (Sodium Phenobarbital: a drug so past by its sell by date it ought to have its license revoked), the CIA is left scavenging the bric-a-brac he offers up for its inspection. He rather likes the interrogation sessions. A change of scene, and the chance to pit his wits against theirs. But these people give barbarians a bad name. He imagines it is part of his punishment, the withholding of visits from anyone with an iota of intelligence.
Defenestration. There's a word. The act of throwing (a body) out of a window. Now whose? Vaughn's fat friend, perhaps. Weiss. Think of the mess on the pavement. He would love to defenestrate Weiss. Anything to alleviate the tedium.
He allows the men he detests to paw at him, when they think the drugs have rendered him incapable of resistance or remembrance. If these primates choose to reveal their weaknesses to him, it's their funeral. He lodges their proclivities in the corners of his mind, like hording ammunition.
He is half-sick of suntans, white teeth, oxford-cloth button-downs. Would happily club to death any number of cub scouts, dance on their boxes of cookies, set fire to their scoutmasters at their national jamboree. It would give him the longest pleasure to antagonise Agent Vaughn into breaking his other arm in three places, just to be able to look into the man's eyes afterwards and see his own face looking back. We're none of us quite human, at the end of the day.
Man is at his most evil, in solitude. Perhaps Friedrich has a point.
He has discovered an itch in the fingers of his right hand which, he suspects, can only be cured by closing those fingers about someone's neck and squeezing.
It's the little things he misses the most. Autonomy. The liberty to yield to temptation, instead of being obliged to put all his energy into resisting it. Power over life and death. The soft fall of London rain, washing him clean between lavish bouts of extravagant insanity. (He rolls the words from his tongue, relishing the vowel sounds, as alien to this country as meadowsweet and foxgloves).
Until then, this: the taste of metal in his mouth and the slow attenuated ache of bones knitting back together. There are two hundred and six bones in the adult body. He can see the schematic if he shuts his eyes: muscles; sinews; the wet red labouring of his lungs. Can feel with his fingers the beat of the subclavian artery running beneath his left clavicle, pumping blood through his heart.
Man is a monster of miracles. A miraculous monster.
God's first mistake.
. . .