2D muttered and rearranged his limbs on the little bed.
"Excuse me? Stupid blue-haired human?"
"Wha?" 2D said. He was still mostly asleep, but he cracked one eye open to peer around the room. Maybe another one of Murdoc's hostages had wandered down. Bashy had been down a few weeks before, dizzy on chloroform and manically deejay toasting about djembes.
2D was alone.
"Could you kindly not escape within the next five minutes?" the voice said. It was a polite sort of voice, all echoy and screechy. 2D fleetingly wondered how to sample that effect.
He looked up, shrieked, and fell off the bed.
The giant whaley eye was peering at him through the porthole.
"Sorry," the whale said.
"Now it's talking to me," 2D muttered. He pulled the duvet off his bed and wrapped it around his head and cowered. He'd really hoped he'd gotten one of them mute whales.
"Please don't tell your friend," the whale said. "He said I'm only allowed to make scary whale sounds—by the way, I think your friend's a bit racist; whale sounds, honestly—but. Well. Bladder the size of a house, even a whale needs a loo break after a week or two."
"Um," 2D said carefully. "Ms. Whale. Aren't you sort of… in the ocean?"
"Of course; I'm a whale."
"I mean, see, when I'm swimming and I need a wee I just sort of—"
"Good lord, don't finish that sentence!" the whale said. 2D pulled the duvet tighter around his head. "That's revolting. I have to live here, you know. I eat out of this water."
"Sorry," 2D said.
"That's all right, Dear, you didn't know. However, it really is quite urgent, so I'll just pop off for a mo, and you'll stay here, and no one will ever have to know. All right?"
2D gathered his wits along with his courage and said, "No. I think I'll leave while you're gone. I don't like it here; there's never any chocolate biscuits left, and Murdoc's started mirroring the ceilings again. Whenever I look up I think that gravity's gone all wonky and I'm about to fall on my head. Also, I'm being held captive by a homicidal mad man, and, you know. Whatnot."
"All right," the whale said. "Escape if you really feel you must. I just thought I'd save us both the trouble of me tracking you down and transporting you back here within my slimy, cavernous stomach."
2D shivered. He still had nightmares about watching Pinocchio as a child.
"I'll stay," he said.
"Bless. I'll just be a tick!"
There was a terrifying sort of roaring sound outside of the room as the whale passed; light began to shine from the porthole.
2D hopped onto the bed to peer outside. The massive beast was swimming away.
He was free.
This might be his only chance to escape.
He took the opportunity to change his pants, since he always felt funny doing it while the whale watched. It took a bit of rummaging to find clean ones.
The whale was back by the time he'd finished pulling up his trousers.
"Thanks, Darling," said the whale. "Whoo! I can't tell you how much better that is. My back baleens were swimming. Hah! Get it, 'cause I'm a whale!"
"Don't remind me," 2D begged. He slid down onto the floor and hugged his knees. "If you could leave me alone, I'd be well grateful. Or maybe you could just stop being a whale? You could be a rabbit instead. An adorable bunny that wouldn't suck me into its horrible deadly maw."
"Sorry," the whale said. "If it helps any, I'm not only a whale."
"Oh good," 2D said fiercely. He was going to die there, he knew it. He was going to die at the flippers of a murderous aquatic mammal, and only the pelican would mourn him.
"I'm also a metaphor," said the whale.
"I'm not surprised," 2D said. "Seems like everything in my life's a metaphor lately. I had a bowl of Soggy-O's for dinner last night and it turned out to be a metaphor for society's belated reaction to global climate change, or—um. Sumfing about polar bears. Evil Noodle explained it to me. But then she started talking about the symbolism of Robert Pattison's bum and I—"
"Aren't you," the whale said, cautiously. "Aren't you curious what I'm a metaphor for?"
"Not really. Do you know any ghost stories?"
"I know a story about a ghost whale," said the whale.
"Never mind," 2D said quickly. "No, no, that's all right, I think I'll just watch The Hunger ag—"
"It's freedom!" the whale announced. "I am a metaphor for freedom." It sounded quite proud.
"Yeah, well, what you doing on an island that's a metaphor for the soulless music industry then? That's mixed metaphors."
"Even maritime metaphors have to eat, Sweetheart," the whale said. "That Murdoc fellow made me quite a deal. Of course, the real money's in allegory work, if you can get it. My mate, Moby, he made a killing with a book deal, being an allegory. Used the money to buy himself a disco-aquarium and retired in Boca Raton."
"Oh sure, I met him," 2D said. "Murdoc set him on fire at the VMAs for not showing enough interest in doing a remix of Rock the House. Didn't know he wrote a book though. Good for him."
There was a long pause, and the peculiar sound of a whale shifting awkwardly on the other side of the wall. 2D was fairly used to those sorts of pauses in conversation. They were usually followed by the other person patting him on the head and saying, "Who's meant to be watching you, Sweetheart?"
He said, "What do you mean, anyway, a metaphor for freedom? How comes I'd have one of them imprisoning me here?"
"I'm not imprisoning you here. If you tried to run, what could I do? Flop up on land and brush you to death with my baleen hair?"
2D became very, very still. "Can you do that?"
"No. Look, the only thing keeping you here is your fear of freedom."
2D considered for a moment before saying, "I don't think I'm afraid of freedom."
"Yes you are. You're afraid of me, and I'm a metaphor for freedom, therefore, by the very nature of the metaphor, you are afraid of freedom."
"All right," said 2D, who was used to taking other people's word about the deeper meaning of things. "Why would I be afraid of freedom?"
"Because Murdoc has kept you under his thumb since the day you met. He's been controlling you for so long that you don't know how not to live with that in your life anymore, and you're terrified of what would happen if you were left to your own devices."
"You know an awful lot about me," 2D said.
"Murdoc made me listen to all your CDs, watch the DVDs, and read the biography before he agreed to hire me."
"Oh, yeah, he does that. Did he show you the puppets of us he nicked from the Demon Days tour?"
"Yes. It was disturbing. Do you know, he has them posed so it looks like he's smashing your head in with a Grammy."
"Hmm, it used to be a mandolin."
"Which only further illustrates my point that you're trapped in an abusive relationship."
"All that's just for show," 2D said. "Murdoc likes to think he's the boss, that's all. I don't mind it."
"You don't mind when he calls you thick and throws ashtrays at your head?"
"Nah. I'd worry if he stopped doing that. Last time I saw him not insult someone, a week later the bloke turned up at a post office in Nicaragua, missing all his body hair and thinking he was a character from Neighbors. Madge, I think it was."
"That's horrific," the whale said. "Can't you see he's ruling you with fear? Honestly, when was the last time you were able to function on your own, without someone always there telling you what to do?"
"Oh, well, before I got kidnapped, I spent three years in Beirut, teaching hang-gliding law."
The whale said, "You what."
"Taught hang-gliding law in Beirut. To underprivileged children."
The whale said, "You taught the law of hang-gliding to underprivileged children?"
"No, of course not. That would be silly. No, I taught them law while hang-gliding. It's a great way to learn, beautiful views. You know, as long as no one drops their biro. And nobody told me to do it or anything. Actually, I had to start the school myself, yeah, 'cause believe it or not, no one had every thought of a flying law school before."
"I'm—surprised," the whale said.
"I know, right," 2D said.
"Hang on," the whale said. "If you're not unhealthily dependant on external control, why on earth put up with Murdoc? He's horrible. Truly horrible in, literally, every conceivable way."
"He's my mate," 2D said, shrugging. "I dunno, I think Gorillaz is the only thing he's ever really cared about. I care about little Ethiopian children, and all the baby chicks that have to die so we can have Cadbury Eggs, and the Prophet-5 synth I had since I was seven. I can't imagine how miserable it must be, not caring about things. Alls Murdoc's ever had is his band, and now that Russel and Noodle are gone I'm all that's left. I couldn't leave him all alone just because he never had a mum to teach him how to be nice."
It was true, he didn't want to be on the island, but mostly he didn't want to be held captive on the island with a living nightmare as a guard and no creative input on the album they were recording. He actually liked seeing Murdoc again, even if Murdoc had gone a little more mental than usual. Being drugged and stuffed in a suitcase had been horrible, but 2D had forgiven Murdoc far worse, and was fully prepared to keep on forgiving him until the inevitable day when Murdoc's liver gave out.
The whale said. "I think I'm a flawed metaphor."
"I know the feeling," 2D said. He sighed, and looked over his shoulder at the whale eye in the porthole. "He didn't have to gas me. I'd have come, if he'd just said."
The whale said, "Oh, Sweetie."
He picked at the fuzz on the carpet. He never could stay properly mad at people as long as they were still on speaking terms. He always thought that was why he got on so well with Murdoc; he'd say something stupid, Murdoc would give him a smack, and they'd go on like normal.
Apparently his fear of whales was the same. Even a horrific monster from the depths wasn't so bad, once they'd had a nice chat about Moby.
At length, 2D said, "Want to watch a film? I've got Dawn of the Dead. It's got one of them. Whatsit. Gory alleys."
"Yeah, that too."
The whale sighed. The walls trembled. 2D wondered how one went about micing a whale.
The whale said, "Yeah, go on."