No man can serve two masters. Truer words were never spoken. I returned to my own room after my conversation with Tom. I didn't want to see Janet right then. Great, now I'm lying to myself. The truth is that I always want to see Janet. She's the first thing I want to see when I wake up and the last thing I want to see before I go to bed. She's the best part of my day, and because of who I am and what I'm doing she's also the worst part of my day. She's the reason my head's a mess and my stomach's in knots. Basically I am screwed. No amount of push-ups seem to be changing the fact that my loyalty is now torn between the organization and a woman I've known for barely two weeks. Screw it, if I can't get rid of my misery, I'm sure as hell not going to suffer alone.
I catch the elevator down to the observation room. Sure enough I hear Tom's voice reciting something about animals and zoos. How appropriate. Wait, I know this poem, Carl Sandburg , yeah Tom brought it with him when we underwent training together. He showed it to me and I thought at the time that Tom seemed a little too delighted with his assignment. The words he spoke with such relish haunted me. Tom's voice faltered as he realized I wasn't on his screens anymore. I took a little pleasure in knowing I had unsettled him. If there is one thing Tom hates, it's not being in control.
"For I am the keeper of the zoo. I say yes and no. I sing and kill and love and work-" I could do creepy and unsettling too.
"You shouldn't be down here," I guess he didn't like me interrupting his getting off on being big brother. Too damn bad.
"Is this how you get off Tom? Watching us sleep as you recite Carl Sandburg poetry?" I originally signed on for this because I believe the process was important and that the benefits to the world at large outweighed harm it caused. Tom, I think more often than not is just a voyeur, a little boy afraid of the dark, who jumped at the chance to become the thing that goes bump in the night.
"Hey I'm just doing my job, just like you should be doing your job." Rationalization and deflection. Kinda like the people who worked for Hitler were just doing their jobs.
"Do you like your job? Watching?" Cause I sure as hell didn't like mine.
"Monitoring. Just like someone else is monitoring us right now," Oh, subtle Tom. Threaten me by reminding me upstairs is watching, "What has got your knickers in such a twist that you would go and break protocol for the second time in two days and bust my hump about following orders?" Like he didn't already know.
"You know what's bothering me."
"The woman?" The way he said it, like she didn't she have a name, like she was something small, dismissible, insignificant, made me want to bloody his nose, "There's no place for that here my friend, there just isn't. I thought you understood that." Yeah, I understood. I understood the concept. Do not emotionally engage with the potentials. Don't pollute the process. Be unbiased and objective. Of course understanding what I should be feeling doesn't change what I actually am experiencing.
"Yeah, so did I." Believe me, no one is more surprised than me that I am reacting this strongly to a stranger, when I managed to successfully sever all ties to people who knew me from birth and to men I fought side by side with.
"There's something about her, I don't know," What is it about Janet that makes me so desperate to keep her safe? It couldn't be just me. I can't be the only one ever had doubts after living with these people, after sharing food and danger, and nights under the stars. "Haven't you ever had feeling for-"
"Do not complete that sentence; I don't want to have to red card you." An out and out threat. We both knew a red card meant termination from the program. Permanent termination.
"You would do that?" I don't know why I'm surprised. Despite the number of days we trained together, Tom's always been more of a comrade than a friend. A comrade will stand by you as long as doing so doesn't compromise the mission. A friend stays with you no matter the consequences. Or so I've read, never having much experience with friends myself.
"I would. Go you'd better get back up there. Go. I like you Joe. Try not to do anything stupid." Well that's something I guess. Sure he'd kill me, but at least he'd feel bad about it.
"I'll try." The only trouble is my definition of stupid no longer agrees with Tom's.