Spoilers: "The World’s Changing"
Author’s Note: I guess this could be considered a sequel to Thumbless in the Desert and Final Thoughts. Then again, not really. If you want to think of it that way, you can. It might make more sense if you read those two first, but it doesn't really matter. So don't worry about it.
Summary: With Mr. Parker, Mr. Raines, and Miss Parker out of the way and Jarod recaptured, how will Mr. Lyle deal with his newfound power? More importantly, how long will it last?
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—Mr. Lyle ("Red Rock Jarod")
I watch from the shadows in front of the cell as Jarod is dragged into his cell by Sam and another sweeper, Chris. I'm wearing one of my favorite suits: a snow white one. Nothing like a little symbolism to start the day off right!
The lab rat is tossed into the cell haphazardly by the sweepers, who seem to be just a little bit pissed. I crouch down in front of him, a sneer lingering on my face. I think I smell something, so I sniff the air. Yep, definitely B.O.
"He still stinks," I say in annoyance, turning to glare at the sweepers. Chris visibly shrinks back underneath my glare, but Sam, who is used to constant cold looks from his former mistress, meets my gaze levelly.
"On the way to the showers he freaked. I thought he was gonna chew my heart out!" Sam explains, glaring evilly at Jarod, and then glancing toward his jacket, which appears to be missing a button. Perfect. The moron is falling right into my little trap and doesn't even know it. "Took a little swipe from the Motivator to calm him down."
I grab Jarod by the scruff of his neck to get him to look at me. Because, you know, God forbid he do something simple like raise his own fucking head. I have to do nearly everything for him, I swear! The idiot groans in some sort of weird way, making it hard to define just what point there was to it. Typical Lab Rat.
"If you don't wanna go to the showers, we'll bring the showers to you," I say patiently, as if explaining it to a child. Oh, wait a minute! Jarod is a child, just a really large one!
Jarod decides this is the best time to spit in my face. Yes, that's right. He just spat in my face. Figures. You do something nice for him, and he spits in your face. Same thing happened in that little town in the middle of nowhere.
I slam his head onto the concrete. Teach him to be so insolent. You'd think he'd manage to figure out that when you're locked in a cell with two guards standing right behind me, it might not be the best time to piss your captor off. Teach me to assume that he has an IQ larger than his own shoe size.
I walk out of the cell to a safe distance. This is, after all, one of my favorite suits. I'm not willing to get a dry-clean only suit tainted by even one little droplet of water. The sweepers grab the fire hose I had placed down here and turn it on him. It's rather comedic watching Rat Boy squirm around, trying to get away from the spray of water. I make a slight motion with my hand, signaling the sweepers to fry the cheapie camera stuck up in the corner. It's not really linked anywhere, just to the TV in the next room. It's all a part of the plan.
After Jarod has been thoroughly tossed around by the water and the entire area is drenched, I decide it's time to move on to the next portion of my little devious plan.
As soon as the water is shut off, Jarod instantly collapses to the ground. Seriously. Having water sprayed on him is apparently an enormous physical activity for him. I privately wonder how he's managed to remain so skinny if he's already winded. Note to self: Schedule time in the gym for him, preferably with Thor, the personal trainer who thinks that five hours is a short workout.
"We don't want him dead," I roll my eyes in my head at this comment, because damned if I don't want the bastard dead, especially after what he did to me in that cabin last year. "Just less odiferous." I toss Stinky here a bar of white soap (It had to match the suit, you see. Symbolism in its grandest form!), and he glares at it warily, like he thinks it's going to jump up and bite his nose off or something. While that would be amusing to see, it's even more amusing to see him afraid of a bar of soap.
"Clean the filth off yourself. And then," I pause and glance around. I never noticed just how dirty these cells are. It's quite disgusting, if you ask me. "Do the walls."
Oh, oh, oh! Is that. . .? Why, yes, I think it is! It's disgust on Ratty's features! Wow, never saw that one before! He actually looks at the wall to his left, and I'm pretty sure that his expression just changed. I wouldn't be surprised if he's thinking "Looks like home." God knows he's lived in enough dirty little rat holes.
His inspection of the wall complete, he picks up the soap and tosses it back to me. I, of course, catch it. Why wouldn't I have?
"You clean it."
See, now, there's that insolence again! Honestly, what is so hard to understand about not talking back to your captor? I mean, come on!
I restrain the urge to roll my eyes at his idiocy for about the billionth time in my life and crouch down in front of him again, smirking slightly. This is going to be fuuuuuuuun.
"The world is changing. Mr. Parker is gone. Mr. Raines is gone. Miss Parker is. . ." I pause here for dramatic effect, knowing this will, without a doubt, cut right through that big, bloody heart of his. ". . .God only knows where." A flash of triumph echoes throughout me as Jarod, ever concerned about his precious Miss Parker, glances away and tries to prevent the look of worry and sadness that is so blatantly taking possession of his face. He never was very good at hiding his emotions, stupid git.
"But you and I are here. And I'm in charge." I sincerely hope I didn't let the giddiness that I'm feeling permeate my voice. I'm in charge of The Centre! Me! I told him back in Dry River that I would be in charge, and lookie see: I'm in charge! Ha!
Jarod glares at me again, which is, of course, nothing new. I never get any credit around here. I could swear that his face just became darker, but that might just be the truly awful lighting we have in the cells. I'm going to have to do something about that. And the walls too. A bit of white paint and some harsh fluorescent lighting will cheer the place up!
After a few seconds, the staring contest ends, and I'm the obvious winner. Hee. I love winning. I drop the bar of soap in front of him while standing up, showing my superiority.
Yep. After all, I can see the future. I know exactly what that little lab rat is going to do as soon as we leave, which I make sure Sam and I do quite promptly. I hear the door slam closed behind me and grin to myself, since I know that Sam is making a show of being angry about his missing button. I would be too, if it weren't a cheap coat I gave him about half an hour ago.
Chris, Sam, and I go and wait in the room Jarod will eventually end up in. I know it'll take him quite a while to work his way through the system to what he thinks is an exit (Well, it was at one point, before I figured out that was how he was always escaping and made the current addition to the end of the route.) I figure it should take him about ten minutes to work his way to the cage, but I was also assuming that he was able to withstand the blast from a fire hose without becoming winded, so it might be a bit longer.
Or a lot longer. Nearly twenty minutes have passed and he still hasn't shown up. I'm starting to get annoyed. If he's dead in the ducts somewhere, that is not going to reflect well on me with Mutumbo. Just as I'm about to send Chris in after him, there's a rattling from above. Finally! I motion for Chris to move over by the light switch and prepare to flick on the fluorescents. This is going to be sweet!
A few seconds later, Jarod drops down into the cage and runs headlong into the chain-link fence. Chris switches the lights on and I'm standing there, in my stark white suit, grinning malevolently. I wish I had a picture, because this truly is a Kodak moment.
"Like I said, the world is changing." I smirk at him, just a little bit, and he freaks out on us, running around screaming at the top of his lungs and trying to shake the fence loose. Good luck there, Wonder Boy. He gets in a curse or two at me, but nothing more significant than, "You bastard!" Trust me, I've been called far worse things by far better people.
He finally collapses against the side of the fence and screams for one last time. Thank God that little drama routine is over. Oh well, it was needed to begin the process of controlling him. And, oh, how much fun I'm going to have doing this! If only the Lab Rat knew what I had in store for him!
I have Sam and Chris drag him out again, handcuffing him to be safe, though I doubt he'll try to cause any problems for a little while. He's been beaten, but not broken. At least, not yet.
For Jarod, there is nothing he wants to see more than his family. That and making sure his precious childhood friend Miss Parker is alive and safe. I am going to use this to my advantage. After all, he'll do anything for family, won't he? Especially if he believes that I have them in my custody.
The next three weeks should prove very interesting, especially if everything goes according to plan.
There's a knock on my office (new office, mind you) door, and I know exactly who it is, because he has been stopping in every other day for the past two weeks. Frankly, it's getting rather tiring. Hopefully, this time will be a bit different. I have something to show the good doctor!
Sydney enters soon after the knock, and I beckon him over. Might as well not waste time. I have an important meeting in a few minutes, and Sydney can not be present, no matter what.
"Lyle, I need to talk to you-"
"Yes, yes. I know. About Jarod. Same as always." I flip on the DSA of Jarod's arrival and subsequent duping, and angle it toward Sydney, who is now standing next to me. He assumes his typical "doctor pose" of his right fist held up underneath his chin, as if his neck needs the extra support to hold up the weight of his giant brain. Mentally, I roll my eyes. And people call me conceited.
"What's this?" he queries as the picture springs up on the screen.
"Just watch," I reply, preparing to bask in my own sheer genius. Sometimes I have the best ideas. "That was three weeks ago. Since then we've been working on making him more . . ." I pause and tilt my head from side to side, looking for the word I want that will have the least shock value. ". . . manageable."
"Why haven't I been allowed to see him?" he asks, that hand supporting his head falling slightly, as if speaking makes his brain that much heavier. Not to sound too much like a teenage girl, but please! I might be able to believe it if the question he asked required more thought than a rat needs to know that cheese is tasty.
"Look at him. He was out of control.” I fast-forward through some of the DSA, getting random images of Jarod bitching about one thing or another. I’m about to prove my point, damn it, and I need a video to back it up.
"Was?" Sydney asks in confusion, a typical state for him, and looks toward me.
"The world is changing, and so is boy wonder." Ahhh, yes, here it is. The perfect shot. I absolutely love this part of the disk. The screen is stopped at an image of Jarod chained up in his cell, soaking wet and shirtless. There are jumper cables being held up and one of the clamps has a sponge that is dripping wet secured in its teeth. This is, quite possibly, the best torture I have ever come up with in the entirety of my life, and I’ve come up with a lot of crazy shit. I think we all know that Jarod is to thank for this one, though. After all, his actions back at that cabin a year ago got me thinking about this little idea in the first place. It’s only fair that he be the first one to experience it.
The best part is when he screams from the pain because the sound echoes out of the DSA player and into the room, giving it a weak surround-sound effect. It is truly magnificent. I am a genius, at least when it comes to torture.
Sydney leans down nearer to me, obviously suddenly concerned about my mental health. Yeah, like he ever cared before. "Listen to me Lyle, you're a sick man."
Please. Sick is not the term I would use to describe myself. Maybe disturbed, yes, but not sick. Besides, this is just too entertaining to look away from.
"I'm a. . .persuasive man."
The on-screen version of myself starts talking, and I realize I’ve managed to find another of my favorite parts. Sydney’s attention is thankfully drawn back to the player. I hate it when he stares at me and starts analyzing me. It gives me the creeps.
I love how much control I have over the little freak in this particular part of the video. It gives me so much pleasure it should be deemed illegal in public!
"Jarod, I have a project that I'd like you to do for me." My alternate self sits down on Jarod’s cot and Jarod shuffles over, obviously under my control. I love it.
"Anything you want. . .Mister. . .Lyle." The only thing I hate about this particular section of the recording is how he’s practically spitting out my name. You’d think that with everything I’d given him—a bed, for example—that he’d be a bit more grateful to me than he is. Figures. I never get any gratitude around here.
"Brain washing’s not possible with Jarod," Sydney interjects over the DSA. He says that like I don’t already know that. You know, I didn’t get to be in charge purely by chance—I did have to think a bit. I guess I’ll just have to explain it to Sydney, per usual. It’s amazing how little doctors actually seem to know.
"Oh, we all have an Achilles heel. In Jarod's case it's family, the one he so desperately wants back."
Oh, oh! I think I shocked Sydney yet again. Another point for Mr. Lyle!
Sydney finally focuses his attention back on the screen, where it should have been all along, just in time to hear and see the best part.
"If you wanna hear about mommy and daddy, you have to trust me." Jarod starts sobbing and places his head on my thigh, just like a broken child.
"I love that part," I mumble absentmindedly. If only I didn’t have a meeting in a few minutes, I’d grab my current secretary and have some fun and fine cuisine tonight.
"Lyle, please, let me go to him," Sydney begs, pulling me out of my euphoria. The bastard. Just when I start getting happy, he has to go and ruin it on me. Oh well, it’s just as well. I have to be coherent and decidedly non-happy to deal with Mr. White. I exhale sharply and unite my thoughts into something coherent. Hopefully this answer will be enough to placate him.
"Sydney, if it were up to me, you two could go on a father-son picnic. But the isolation orders come from The Triumvirate. Big Mutumbo." If that picnic included two pine boxes and two large holes in the ground, I'd be all for it. Otherwise, the two of them aren’t getting out of my sight (or a sniper’s sight, for that matter) any time soon. "But, the isolation orders come from The Triumvirate. Big Mutumbo."
Sydney looks like he's about to say something idiotic, per usual, when my door swings open and I'm saved by the albino-for-hire himself, Mr. White. Ironically, Mr. White is dressed all in black. It's a nice effect, and seems to be confusing Sydney even more. I wonder when the last time he had a mental proficiency test was. . .
"I got here as quickly as I could," Mr. White says in his typically chilling voice as I rise to my feet and begin to move around the desk, trying to get past the hunk of lard that is standing to my left.
"Sydney, if you'll excuse me..." I say, walking around Sydney and making a beeline for the exit. I'll be damned if I'm going to get stuck continually answering questions about my treatment of Jarod! I feel two cold and wrinkly hands grab my shoulders and spin me around, and I make every effort possible not to gag noticeably.
"We haven't finished talking about Jarod!" Sydney exclaims insistently, as if he expects me to spend my entire day talking to him about Jarod when I clearly have better and more important things to be doing.
"Sydney," I explain patiently, "Jarod is no longer the most important thing in the world. And tomorrow, he leaves forever. He's Mutumbo's property. And I, for one, am not going to cross that crazy Zulu. Did you see the look on his face when he took Raines and my father away?" I tried to make it seem like I really cared with that last line, but it's a bit difficult when I really could care less and am pressed for time. Thankfully, the bumbling psychologist doesn't seem to notice and just nods absently, his mind clearly already wandering off into unknown spaces. I turn and go toward the door, glad to be leaving this pointless conversation behind. "Just, uh. . .take in a movie, get a massage, check out the amputee dwarves down on SL-6. Just forget about Jarod!"
Mr. White and I make our hasty exit, heading toward the elevators in the rotunda.
"I trust your arrival was uneventful?" I inquire mildly to Mr. White. No, I don't really care how his arrival was, but even sociopaths know when to follow common courtesy.
"I don't like niceties, Mr. Lyle. Let's just get down to business, shall we?" His tone is cold and professional. He obviously knows what he's doing and probably even enjoys his work. I admire that in a person.
"That's quite all right with me. But let's not discuss this in the open. . . There are eyes and ears everywhere." I happen to control all the electronic ones, but little does Mr. White know I'm referring to a certain resident thing that always manages to pop up at the most imperfect times. It would be just my luck that it'd overhear our conversation and scamper off and tell one of the bumbling idiots.
"Understandable. I trust that any people that would pose a problem have been removed for the time being?"
"Yes, I made sure Miss Parker was placed under a suicide watch over at Saint Catherine's. She won't be leaving any time soon! Any others are well within my ability to manage." Yes, all the bumbling idiots are taken care of for now.
Speaking of bumbling idiots, they both are blatantly watching Mr. White and me get on this elevator. I bet they think they're being sneaky about it all as well. . . Idiots. The doors close, cutting off my view of them, and Mr. White and I are on our way to one of the greatest projects ever undertaken by The Centre in the past ten years.
to be continued. . .
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