‘Please state your name for the record.’
‘Release my image from this tiny box, foul wizard!’ The beard rushed towards the camera.
‘Okay, let’s try this again.’ Richard leaned forward and pressed the rewind button on the recorder. ‘Please state your name for the record. We don’t have a lot of time, so please sit down and answer the questions.’ He pushed his dirty blonde hair away from his glistening forehead as the two goons in the room hustled the beard back to his seat. The interrogation room, with its harsh halogens and cold metal furniture was a temperate zone in its own right. He lifted the plastic cup slowly to his lips, taking a long draw of water.
‘Only when you release my tiny brethren from your box of wizardry!’ The bearded figure slumped in his seat.
‘Please state your name…’ Richard said it again. The bearded man began to fidget, fighting with the restraints, with the goons, with the air itself. ‘Desist. Now.’ The bearded man stopped fidgeting. ‘Sir, you have been brought here in order to answer for your crime. if you work with us, we don’t have to drag you back from hell again. Which I can ensure you will be as horrifically painful as the first time.’ Richard sighed.
‘Err, boss?’ Goon number one said. Richard had never bothered to learn the names. He just gave them numbers, the opposite of Thomas the Tank Engine’s Fat Controller. ‘Err, he don’t look too good Sir.’
‘Number one, you have a point.’ Richard took another drink of water. ‘Are you thirsty, sir? Too hot, perhaps?’ Another long sip, leaving dewdrops on his pink lips.
‘Now, see here. True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. And as you know nothing, just admit it and you get the pleasure of enlightenment. I must say, your Greek is fantastic. Do you practice or…’
Richard beamed, perfect, white teeth brilliant in the halogens. He loved an excuse to show off his toys.
‘We call it the BabelFish. Douglas Adams was years ahead of his time. We implanted a chip against your jawbone that takes the vibrations as you speak. It runs them through our translation software, patent pending, and then relays it to an identical chip in my jawbone.’ He grinned. ‘Science fiction, become science fact.’
‘You do a lot of the talking. I would suggest being quiet.’ Richard’s face fell.
‘I would recommend talking. You have been brought here to answer for the crime of bringing enlightenment to general humanity. As you may know, it was agreed by the Seventh Council of Orkansa that enlightenment would be brought to humanity on a strictly controlled schedule. You, sir, rebelled against the council and released enlightenment like a plague.’
The bearded man stroked the bald top of his head. Scratched his bearded chin. Ummed and ahhed.
‘Do you agree with these terms?’
‘Humanity needed it.’ Richard smiled. This was going to be fun. ‘Well now, in the fifteen minutes we have left before you resume your eternal punishment, will you please state your name for the record.’
More umms and ahhs. Scratching. Stroking. A silence fell over the room until…
The Idiot in Tin Foil