Chapter 6

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There were brief moments of silence.

Burke jerked up when a gong boomed right above his head all of a sudden, adrenaline sizzling through his spine and radiating into his limbs. He could feel his blood pressure shooting through the roof as his heart took up a stumbling gallop, and his stomach hurled acid into the back of his throat like a fucking volcano. He rolled over with a moaned curse and tried to bury his head deeper into his blanket.

The pauses in the cacophony came at random intervals and never had the same length; they weren't respites from the infernal noise, but amplifiers. By now, Burke was covered in cold sweat, and his cell seemed to spin around him even in the complete darkness that engulfed him. The damn monkeys apparently had no idea what they were doing, how to measure out the stimuli; they were going at it full speed. By the time they'd pull him out of this hole again, they'd already have pureed his brain, and he'd be nothing more than a gibbering, incoherent mess...

-at least he wouldn't be able to tell them anything then.

Someone grabbed him by the neck - he hadn't heard them entering through all the noise - and yanked him up, and the spinning sensation shifted into higher gear. Burke's knees buckled, and he broke down again, and the guard cursed and dragged him out into the corridor.

There was light, but the noise was even louder here. Before his eyes could get used to the sudden brightness, the ol' stinking bag was pulled over his head again, and he was walked down the corridor to his next session. Burke remembered that Vanda had threatened him with letting Urko ask the questions next time. He hoped she had been bluffing. He didn't feel up to wrestling King Kong today.

But when the guard yanked him to a halt, he knew he was out of luck even before they ripped the bag off. The very air seemed to be heavy, and the silence radiated darkness and...

... and death. Burke felt the tiny hairs on his neck rise.

Urko's face was unreadable as he studied him.

„Strip," he said finally.

Another wave of dizziness swept over Burke, and he blinked rapidly. He wasn't sure he had heard the gorilla right. His ears were still ringing, even in the silence of this room, so perhaps...


Urko raised his brows. „I told you to take your clothes off," he said calmly. „They reek."

Burke swallowed, but didn't move. „Well, Vanda promised me a bath..."

Urko nodded almost imperceptibly at the guards; the fabric was no match to simian strength. Burke tried not to cower - it wouldn't conceal anything, and damn it, he had no reason to be embarrassed.

But it was a strange feeling to be the only one naked in a room full of clothed people, even if the people were apes.

„Our citizens like to dress up their pets as if they were people," Urko said with a slight, humorless smile. „Or maybe they just don't want to be forced to look at your genitalia all the time, especially since you can't control yourselves. But in here, I see no reason to pretend you're anything else but an animal."

Fuck you.

There was no folder on the table this time. There wasn't even a single sheet to make notes. Urko got up from his chair and casually rounded the table. „You gave me a nice chase there, Burke, and I greatly enjoyed it, but I'll enjoy this even more." He gave him a toothy grin. „It's really simple: I ask you a question, you answer it truthfully, and I won't hurt you." The grin broadened. „Of course I'm counting on you to refuse to answer... right away."

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