Alright everyone, dry your tears and put your hatred aside. It’s time for part three!
We sit in silence for a few minutes, our individual trains of thought drowning out the haunting sounds of the prison. I battle with the idea of uncuffing him, but eventually decide against it. He might be gentle Jude now, but any second he could turn back into Judas. Safer to have him slightly uncomfortable than set loose. In a tiny room. With no way to defend myself. And no one to hear my cries for help. This was a horrible idea.
“Alright Jude. Lets continue. Neither of us wants to take any longer than necessary. The next questions hail from Mr. Nathanael Rebiger. Which side of your personality is aware of the other?” I ask, taking on a business-like tone.
“Well, as you’ve seen, we both know of the other. And fight. A lot. But the stronger of us is Judas. As I said, it didn’t used to be that way… but in my attempts to keep him in check, I gave him a foothold.” Something flashes behind his eyes, maybe remorse, maybe Judas trying to break in. Whatever it was, it disappears almost before it meets my glance.
“What a tragedy that is. Moving on. How did you get recruited?” I clear my throat, not wanting to dwell on Jude’s apparent innocence.
“To the army? Well, after it happened, the guards that saved me brought me to one of the small, run-down police stations in town. One of my dad’s old chums, from his army days, was there and recognized me. Said he owed my dad a solid, and that he’d find a place for me. I begged him to help me find somewhere that I could be of use putting down the rebellion, and found myself a servant in the home of the Leones. They were a family of undercovers, planted within the Resnik’s first army. They’d been lucky enough to come in early, and grew close to the leading family. Too close, in fact, for their girl Sasha. I learned the tricks of the trade there, how to keep a solid cover, hit a target, and stand my ground in hand to hand combat. After three years there, Mr. Leone sent me to sound the alarm on them. I was responsible for alerting the army and leading them to the ambush site, explaining the plan of attack as we ran. I was only eight, but even the soldiers saw greatness in me. I received numerous recommendations that day, and while I was much under age I had no family, nowhere to go. Under these circumstances, they made an exception. The law has always just been a loose guideline for them anyways. I spent three years at boot camp, training longer and harder than any other soldier until I was ready to wage my own kind of war.” Again, I can’t tell which of him I’m talking to. I suspect perhaps Judas has creeped in, but there’s no way to know for sure.
“They had no idea what they were getting in to, I’m sure of that. Now, this next question I’m almost worried to ask… but I promised to put forth all questions received. So, Judas, what is your greatest strength?” I almost whisper the question. Great. I think we all know exactly where this one is going. A flame springs to his eyes, and I can see the lion take over. Why on earth did I want an antagonist with a split personality again? I sigh, bracing myself.
“Well, me of course!” Yep. Judas is back alright. “Like Jude said, he couldn’t handle facing what had happened to us. So I came in. He handles the mushy, trust-growing stuff. I come in and take care of the rest. When things get tough, he runs and hides like the scared little 5-year-old we were that day. But me? Talk about a caged paper tiger on the loose.” He growls and scoffs, sounding quite like the tiger he declares himself to be. I try to keep a calm exterior.
“Alright, that being said, what specifically are you the most skilled with? marksmanship, hand to hand, etcetera?”
“I’m an excellent marksmen, but most of my kills are made with a knife. I prefer it that way. It’s more… personal. But my greatest skill is tracking… a very important one when it comes to implanting yourself in rebel gangs that want nothing more than to fly under the radar. I am also rather skilled in reading nonverbal communications. Body language. There is much to be learned about a person just in the way they stand, the way they speak, the look in their eyes. It’s a skill that my life depends on each and every time I infiltrate their ranks.” I try to hide my shiver. If only I could shut Judas up and keep Jude here with me, this would be much more enjoyable.
“Dark?” He interjects, a smirk dancing across his lips.
“Interesting. Next question: Does the army know of your condition?” I ask, just trying to get through this without chucking my pen at him.
“What? Oh, you mean Jude? Psh. They just think I’m a great actor. Which I am, but that’s besides the point.” I really hope I get Jude back soon. I can’t handle Judas much longer. I grind my teeth together and look back to my notebook for the next question.
“Well, if this is your attempt at being charming, you highly overestimate your acting skills.” He glares venomously at me. “The next question, still from Nathanael. Does the army trust you?”
“They trust me to get the job done. But they’ve given up on special instructions. I do my job, I do it well. But they can’t tell me how to do it, because I do it for me. They’re just the medium through which I’ve chosen to do my work, and they know it. They only send me in when complete annihilation is the order of business. Because they will get nothing less.” This time, I can’t hold back my shudder. His voice chills me to my very core, and I know he’s enjoying it. How could I have created such a foul character?
“Okay. Last question from Nathanael for the moment. Do you have any hobbies?” This one should bring Jude back. I hope.
The tension leaves his shoulders a bit, and I see something in his expression… perhaps longing, maybe even a bit of joy.
“I play guitar. And write poetry. I guess they’re the two ways I can keep my parents alive. My father was a brilliant guitar player, one of the best. He was a military man through and through. Brainwashed by the government, just a pawn in their war. But the one time he really seemed human was when he picked up that twangy old guitar and played. So when I was little, and in need of a father’s loving touch, I begged him to teach me. I hated it at first… but then, one day, it just clicked. When I play, if I close my eyes, I can still see the pride in my mother’s eyes, hear it in my father’s encouraging words from behind. All that’s missing is his warm breath on my neck, his hand on mine, helping me finger the strings. And poetry… well, as I said before, my mother loved it. We couldn’t pull her away from her beloved books. She always read a bit to me, especially after dad died. And between the music and her reading, writing them just came naturally. It’s the one thing Judas can’t touch.” Tears glisten in his eyes, and his voice waivers. I almost want to reach across the table and pat his shoulder comfortingly… before I remember who he is.
“I must say, I honestly love your poems. They’re beautiful. I guess it goes to show… even the darkest things in life can shine. Now, let’s see if we can’t lift the mood a bit. The next couple questions are from our lovely Michelle Black. Jude, what do you do for fun?” He can’t make this answer depressing, can he?
“For fun? Well, like I said, I write poetry and play the guitar. Sometimes I’ll read one of the books I kept from my mother’s library. Then of course a training spar or run on the agility course, even an hour or two at the firing range is enjoyable, good for clearing the mind.” He says.
“What about Jesse? Would you consider spending time with her fun?” I ask cautiously. Bringing her up is risky, if Judas decides to take this one.
“I’d like for it to be. And when I can get Judas out of my head, it is. But it’s just so wrong… she’s my enemy. I can’t possibly love her. I can’t let myself enjoy her. Enjoyment leads to love. Love leads to heartbreak. No. I don’t enjoy being with her.” His voice is longing, and then assertive. What a twisted mind, so horribly shattered by loss, hurt, and Judas. Don’t you dare feel bad for him. You know what he is. What he’s done.
“I’m not so sure I believe you. But, let’s move on. If we don’t finish soon, the gang will wonder where you’ve gotten off to. This next question… well, brace yourself. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” I try not to laugh at the confusion that covers his face. This should be interesting.
“Ice cream? Wh… I…. Ice cream?! I don’t believe I understand the question.” He looks at me helplessly, the quizzical look in his eyes finally cracking my mask. Laughter bursts from my mouth, serving only to confuse him further.
“Ice cream Jude. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it. In your time, it hasn’t existed for decades. But, if I were to guess, it would most likely be mint chocolate chip. Just enough crunch to satisfy you, and a bit like the spearmint tea you’re so fond of.” He just sits across from me, staring at me as if trying to decide if I’m lying to him or not. I chuckle again.
“Alright Jude, here’s another one. Would you wear flip-flops? And because I know you’re clueless again, let me explain. It’s a type of sandal, with a strap across your foot and between your first and second toes to keep it on. I know you’ve tried them, but not by that name.” He nods appreciatively.
“That’s a very strange name… but to answer the question no. I’d rather walk barefoot over hot coals. They offer no support or protection, and make it difficult to maneuver. I’ve never understood why anyone would want them.” He glares at me condescendingly. I have to smile. I never thought I’d have something in common with Judas. Ever.
“As much as it pains me to say, I agree. Though, barefoot is often not an option for me… and it is nice to be able to just throw something on in a moments notice. Anyways, Jude, where are you ticklish?” That caught him off guard. He has no idea what’s coming! Again, I stifle a laugh. This is actually becoming somewhat entertaining!
“Ticklish? Well… um…” He shuffles uncomfortably. “I… I haven’t been tickled… not since my mother passed anyways… but I suppose my sides were where she always aimed for. If I recall, that’s where it worked. But that was a very long time ago.” I must say, I’m rather enjoying his squirming.
END OF PART THREE
(Note: Due to an increase in the number of questions sent in, there will be at least one more part to this interview. Possibly two.)