Hollowed Memories, chapter 10, part 4

August 30, 2015

The convoy had taken her down to a small armed compound.  A steel rail fence draped with razor wire surrounded a few low-slung prefabricated structures.  The largest building was in the shape of a plus, with two spartan corridors crossing in the center.  The uniformed women who opened the truck door as soon as it rolled to a halt in the yard hustled Mrissa out and into the building.  There, over the next hours and days, Mrissa was subjected to a much more careful interrogation.

The room they used for questioning was simple.  There was a new plastic table, but it had been pushed out of the way, up against the wall, which was thin and flimsy but had been laminated to look like stone.  Left behind in the center of the room, underneath a cluster of cameras and sensor antennas, were four simple chairs.  The edges of the plastic seats were roughly cut; an occupant wearing shorts could have cut themselves if they were careless and wiggled the wrong way.

Most of the time, there were two interrogators.  They seated themselves across from Mrissa, while she sipped a drink or a cup of instant soup they had offered her.  Occasionally, the leader from the truck came by to join the questioning, although he did not have much to say and most of the time just seemed to be taking notes.

The first time he joined into the interrogation, Mrissa learned his name:  Bernard Buspost.  The two guards who had brought Mrissa inside and begun asking the first general questions rose as he entered.  Mrissa remained seated, while one of the guards introduced him.

“Hello again,” she said with a nod.  He returned the gesture and took the remaining seat.

They found out soon enough who Mrissa actually was, and they pulled up a partial dossier of her recent activities.  Fortunately, there was no evidence of her involvement in the factory attack and nothing else in their records that connected her directly to Yarec.  Yarec’s cousin, Marshall Kubiak, had not yet logged their marriage in any publicly readable database.  It seemed unlikely that that was a simple oversight; Kubiak was a resourceful and intelligent man, and if he had thought it a good idea to have knowledge of the couple’s wedding in the public record, the marriage would have recorded without delay.

But by the time they had connected Mrissa to her proper identity though, her interrogators must have forgotten to wonder whether her story could have included any more substantial lies.  She had gone back to using an older name—for personal reasons—Mrissa told them; and Buspost excoriated her but did not press the matter much further.  Had they sent anyone back to the house for another look, it would have been too late anyway.  Yarec’s old body had already been bundled away.

Mrissa was, herself, obviously not free to go anywhere.  Months later, she came across some official paperwork, which stated that she had incurred an exorbitant debt for being rescued from the dangerous situation around Yarec’s ranch; and to pay off the debt, she was to be indentured to her rescuer.  So she—or rather her skills—were considered Buspost’s property.  For a while after he had captured her (and decided that she was a fairly useful property), he used Mrissa for small duties—things that required some decision-making intelligence, but which Buspost did not want to deal with himself.  She shuttled around from one small station to another, double-checking security arrangements or debriefing employees returning from routine travel.  Even those dull duties, however, were not really enough to fill her time.  There were many days when the only work was dreary labor cleaning and maintaining the vehicles, air fans, and kitchens.  And it gave her too much time to think and too much time to drink.

Eventually, Buspost decided Mrissa was not worth keeping for himself.  There was too little going on in the sector he controlled, and her increasingly surly and insubordinate disposition began to wear on Buspost’s own morale.  So he sold her on.  Mrissa never knew what Bospost had gotten in exchange.  She was just loaded onto a small convoy along with the rest of the outgoing cargo—although of all the packages, she definitely got the best seat.  They dropped her off the next day at a cozy little company town, with its tan rows of small ranch houses surrounded by a triple layer of barbed wire fencing.  She had a few more days to wait there, idling through  the hot afternoons on her rough dormitory bunk, until another passing truck picked her up again and delivered her to her actual destination.


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