With each accusation, the line between innocence and guilt blurred further. And the accusations shifted constantly, with new ones being piled onto older ones – their severity growing by the word. Between the drugs and his own exhaustion, he started believing all the charges against him. Auguste nodded sluggishly whenever the officers asked him questions. His bloodied mouth hurt too much to express any dissenting opinions.
After the initial rounds of aggressive interrogations came the calmer, more composed questions of what Auguste assumed to be a detective. He knew she was not a police officer because of her uniform – or lack thereof. She pulled a chair from the room’s edge and, with a forcefully professional demeanour, took a seat at the table in front of Auguste.
“Are you Lithium Eye, terrorist, instigator of violence and social unrest…”
Her words began dissipating into the air as Auguste struggled to remain conscious.
“… wanted for aggravated homicide, arson, weapon trafficking…”
As with every question he had been asked prior, Auguste nodded. Talking about his innocence had proved futile and, as shown by the bruises on his body and blood on his face, painful. He nodded hypnotically at every syllable.
“Of course you aren’t.”
The woman slammed a stack of papers on the table. Auguste ceased nodding and straightened his posture. His eyes focused; in the room’s dim light, he noticed her cattish expression.
“No need to play along with me, I know you aren’t guilty. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
She relaxed her posture and leaned forward on the table. Auguste held his breath.
“Nobody believes you, isn’t it?” She wrinkled her nose in a mockery of pity. “Not even your own mother believed you.”
The man’s reddened eyes turned downwards. He thought about his arrest, how his mother and one of his sisters had watched him from a distance at the Commissariat, disgust visible on his mother’s face. That expression had hurt so much more than the beatings that followed. Auguste gave a slow nod.
“The hell did they give you?” She talked to herself. “I suppose the few stupid enough to believe you’re really Lithium Eye would want you sedated. But,” the woman began leafing through the stack of documents, “back to us.”
She did not sound like a detective. A lawyer, maybe? He would have asked had he been able to.
“Do you know what will happen? I’ll tell you. Forget about all that fair trial nonsense, they do away with it in cases such as this. The press will have a field day with titles: you’ll see Lithium Eye captured, execution to follow on everything from radio broadcasts to newspapers to the most shallow, gossipy tabloid. You’ll be executed via lethal injection – and don’t let the rumours fool you, I’ve heard it’s quite painful – and maybe you’ll even amass a small crowd of watchers throughout it. Once your body has been disposed of the press will start anew, with rumours and the wildest conspiracy theories you can imagine. And your family throughout all of this? Lord help them! Even after the press stops harassing them, they’ll never live normally again. Those that were once your neighbours will scorn at their mere sight, shops will refuse them service, no jobs will ever consider them. I read your mother’s name is Justine, it’s a beautiful name.”
Not a lawyer. The woman ended her monologue with an exaggerated sigh. Auguste did not process all her words, but what little he understood sufficed to bring about a reaction the woman seemed fascinated by. The handcuffs made clicking sounds as his arms shook.
“There is no escaping this.” The woman, stoic as a statue, leafed through the papers once more. “Unless,” she looked towards Auguste, “unless you accept my offer.”
The shivering came to a gradual halt. His vision blurred slightly, and as Auguste tried to focus on the woman, he found that even keeping his head from swaying side to side became increasingly difficult. He forced a thoughtless nod. The woman’s lips curled upwards, complimenting her angular and feline features.
“Perfect. This was the right choice, without a doubt. Now if you would just sign your name here…” She pulled a single sheet from her collection and placed it in front of Auguste, alongside a pen. Mere seconds elapsed before she chuckled drily. “Ah, silly me, you’re still handcuffed.” With a series of swift motions Auguste only saw in flashes, the woman stood up, walked behind him, placed an electronic key to the handcuffs, and sat down again. Auguste’s arms slumped by his side as cadaverous appendages. The muscles responded to commands with delay and hesitation; the fingers too appeared to no longer recognise their owner. He attempted to grab a firm hold of the pen but it slipped between his fingers as if he had never held one before. The words on the contract were no more than black splotches.
“Seems you’re having some difficulty. Let me help you, Mr. Favri… An X will suffice if you’re not able to… Yes, that will do! One more thing… Mr. Favri? Mr. Favri… Mr. Favri, can you hear me? Well the document has been signed… My employer… Interview… Tuesday… District… Mr. Favri? Mr. Favri…”