Foam-panel ceiling. Bright fluorescent tube lighting. Running electricity. Strapped down. Can't move head. Fuck.
Don't panic, Regan. Try to take in as many details as possible. Oh wait, there's a strap across your forehead, too. Let's count the black dots above us, shall we? A nice, soothing precursor to interrogation.
My head feels funny, like I'm missing something.
"Yay, drugs," I say. If there is anyone in the room with me, watching and listening, they don't respond. Somehow the idea of another presence isn't terrifying. That's what's missing: fear. A faraway part of me recognizes that it would be a beneficial emotion to feel right about now, but I am uncommonly relaxed, apart from an itchy scab on my hand that I can't reach.
As I'm trying to assess how long I've been out for, I hear the creak of hinges.
"Sodium pentothal?" I ask as someone I can't see shuffles into the room.
There is a short, crisp laugh and heavy-sounding boots. "Close." His voice is mellifluous, smart. "A drug of my own design."
He leans over me and any complimentary image I had in my mind is ruined. He's old and bald, with a sweaty forehead, a dead white eye and some nasty burn scars on one side of his face.
"You're like a Bond villain," I giggle.
"Rare to meet a post-Doom child who is familiar with pre-Doom culture," the Blofeld-double quips.
"Nice halitosis," I quip back. "Ok, I take it back, you're more of a burn-victim Hitler. You in charge of this League gig?"
His face disappears from my sight and I hear him adopt the classic villain back-and-forth pace. "I'll ask the questions," he says.
"One step ahead of you," I tell him. "My real name is Jezebel Raptor Jones." Might as well test out my ability to lie while drugged, I figure, since I cannot help but be glib.
"No doubt you've been trained for this," Hitlertosis says, "but to be honest, there's very little I don't already know about you from that vehicle Mason was tenacious enough to bring me."
"Tenacious? Mason is a sack of bright red baboon asses."
He chuckles. "Mason has his uses, and so do you. I hope you hang onto that sense of humour; you'll need it for raising children."
"Um," I say. "Tell me you didn't take me alive so I can be your Nazi Nanny. I'm not the best with kids."
The pacing stops. "He never told you, did he?"
"Mason? He was too busy being the human embodiment of an overflowing outhouse to let me in on your Babysitter's Club side-business."
"Not Mason. The man who raised you."
"Where I come from, we call them 'fathers'."
"Well." He leans over me again. "Your 'father' never told you about your immunity, did he?"
"Kind of the reason I'm still here, smart guy."
"No, I don't mean your antibodies." His bad eye rolls in a funny way when he smiles, like Alastor Moody. "I'm referring to your genetic immunity."
"Huh. Never knew I had that." Then it hits me, what he's actually implying. I think he sees the understanding in my eyes because his smile splits into a Grinch level of sinister.
"It's expressed in both your X chromosomes. Any child you bear will also be immune to the Doom. You were made for this."
"Where I come from, women also get to make their own destinies, chump. And do you mind backing up a bit? I wasn't kidding about your breath."
"You're not in the Mojave anymore, Regan." His pacing begins anew. I know I should be worried for my safety so I struggle, but the straps are asylum-grade. More worrisome is how much he already knows about me because of information gathered from Charlotte.
"It's too bad I have to kill your 'father'," he continues. "I truly respect the man, though I've never met him. How could we ever bring peace and unity to the world if he cures the Doom? All those misguided groups like the Kawitzen out there, all those opposing ideologies, allowed to breed unchecked? The miracle of the Doom, our clean slate, will have been for nothing."
I start laughing. With the drug suppressing my panic response, it sounds downright maniacal. I find it hard to stop. Hoping that it will buzz-kills the Führer's rant, I strain my eyes to the side to try and catch a glimpse of his expression.
"First of all," I manage between laughs, "stop making it sound like you're putting air quotes around the word 'father'. Second, you've got to be the most inept wingnut I've ever met. You've got...what? A breeding plan and some old army supplies? How many of you are there? Hmm? I'm being generous when I guess a hundred to two hundred, max. There are bigger, badder psychos out there with tanks, jet fighters, and sometimes even nukes. Curing the Doom would actually give you dipshits a fighting chance."
"You can't even tame an island when your only opponents are practically pacifists. I mean...what is your plan, honestly? Wait five generations and roll out with your ill-equipped army? Industrialize with the hope that you could somehow compete with the remnants of the most expensive military in the world? Because they're still..."
"Look, guy. I've actually seen the post-Doom world. I know what's out there, and you are a shit-eating maggot in the big scheme of things. If you..."
His fist cracks across my jaw. I laugh even harder.
"You punch like a drunk toddler."
"Shut up!" He whips out a pistol, pointing it right at my teeth.
"You drugged me to have no filter, dumbass. You gonna kill your new babymaker? I give you a D minus for nerves, F for decision making."
Shut up, Regan. He never had the upper hand; he's a desperate crazyperson. You think he won't hesitate to shoot you?
"Where is your father?" he demands.
"Looping around to attack you from city-side," I tell him, before I can think up a lie.
He lowers the gun. "I hope you said your goodbyes to him. Someday, when you are the Mother-Scion of the United League of Earth, you will thank me for this."
Then he is gone, the door slamming shut behind him.
"Mother-Scion," I chuckle. "What a dumb title."
I begin tugging on the straps, but they hold tight. As the drug starts to wear off, panic sets in. With most truth serums, the victim doesn't remember a damn thing when they wake up. Plus I'm still strapped to a dentist's chair.
"Be careful Dad," I whisper.
YOU ARE READING
Doom's DaughterScience Fiction
Seventeen years ago, The Doom spread across the globe, destroying civilization. Humanity survives now in isolated groups, trying to rebuild what was lost. Regan and her father are scavengers, salvaging technology and knowledge from forgotten cities...