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Ask Me No Questions

By Marian Mendez
Page 2 of 3

"Shut up!" The guard sounded annoyed more than angry. Vila kept on making the horrible, wavering, irregularly pitched noise. Avon wondered what torture he had undergone.

They shoved Vila into the cell, right into Avon's arms. Vila was pleased to see Avon and wanted to tell him so, but he still wasn't allowed to talk, was he?

"I like the sprite in you," he sang, clutching Avon. He put his head close to the other man and continued, "I like the funny things you do- dee dum, dee dum- You're such a kick to have aroooounnnd. I like the sprite in you."

The guards had to peel Vila off Avon. As he was forced along the hallway, Avon was torn between laughter and fear. What if they gave him whatever drug had turned Vila into a serenading fool? And worse, what if Blake rescued them and heard Avon?

Avon stood tall, trying to maintain his dignity. He'd already decided that testing the chains was futile. He was quite securely bound, arms and legs spread taut, at the interrogator's non-existent mercy.

"Hmm." The interrogator studied Avon. "You're thinking you can take anything a soft little man like me can do, aren't you? I warn you, I'm much more dangerous than I look." He toyed with a bloody probe while he spoke.

Avon looked at the man coolly. "And are you more subtle than you look?" He nodded toward the probe. "Rather crude, don't you think?"

"Well, actually, I do prefer chemical persuasion." When Avon paled at this, the bald man smiled. "I see we're agreed then." He rummaged through the bottles on the tray, peering at the labels and shuffling them about. "No, not this. Now, this is very good, but not for you. Ah, here we are, one of my old favorites." Whistling cheerfully, he gave Avon the shot and stood close, waiting for a reaction.

Avon groaned. He hadn't meant to, but the sudden attack on his system surprised him. He swallowed, trying to keep himself under control. Cold sweat broke out all over his body and he gulped convulsively. He lurched, clinging to the chains desperately as the floor seemed to shift. He released another small, choked off cry of distress, then shut his eyes and turned his head aside.

"My, my, that was quick. It usually takes longer. But then, I can see you must be a very sensitive fellow. Not like your friend." He pulled at Avon's hair viciously, forcing him to raise his head. "Come on, be a good boy. Open up."

Fighting the pain, Avon slitted his eyes. They glittered maliciously. He opened his mouth.

When they dragged Avon back to the cell, he was too miserable to take satisfaction in having vomited all over the torturer's glossy black uniform. The tech had been too sick to care as he was beaten for his impudence. The interrogator gave up when he discovered Avon wasn't even listening to him. Besides, he wanted to bathe and change into another uniform. He left orders for the two thieves to be left alone until the next day while he thought up an appropriate punishment. Something along the lines of boiling in oil- or perhaps he could have a rack constructed? Modern methods just didn't seem effective with these two. And he really wanted to hear them scream. Especially the second one.

It was Vila's turn to catch a falling body as Avon was flung into the cell. Worried by the tech's pallor and uncoordinated gait, he tried to examine the other man. "I'll be all right," Avon said. He started to shake Vila off, but nearly fell. "A simple drug reaction. Had it before. It'll pass. Just get me to the cot."

Vila smiled, relieved. "Oh, the bedbugs and the roaches were having a game of ball- the score was four to nothing, the roaches were ahead- then the bedbugs hit the ball and knocked me out of bed," he sang merrily as he lowered Avon to the unpadded surface.

Avon groaned. "Vila, must you?"

Vila nodded. "I'd like to teach the world to sing- in perfect harmoneee- I'd like to buy the world a drink and keep it company. That's the song I'd sing. I'd like to take you in my arms and cover you with looove. Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle-doves. That's the way it should be. What you're hoping to find. It's the reeeall thing."

"I can't take much more, Vila," Avon warned, covering his face with both hands. "You're making me sick."

Hurt, Vila replied, "Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms- Big, fat, juicy ones, little tiny skinny ones- gosh, how they do squirm. Bite their heads off, suck their juices out, throw their skins awaaaay. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. Guess I'll go eat worms - to-day."

That was the limit. Avon leaned over the side of the bunk, head pounding with the effort and the change in position and retched up his guts. At least Vila's reflexes still functioned. He got the bucket under in time. The sounds of Avon's illness couldn't quite drown out Vila, who apparently was free-associating like mad, "Sam, Sam, the lavatory man, chief engineer of the public can, he passes out the paper and he passes out the towels ..."

When Avon recovered from the latest bout, Vila cocked his head toward the rusty water pipe and raised his brows questioning. " Bring me a little water, Zulie?" Even after Avon shook his head (which made him so dizzy, he vowed never to do that again), Vila continued the song, "Bring me a little water naooow, Bring it in a bucket, Zulie, every little once in a while. She brought me coffee, she brought me tea, she brought me ever' damn thing but the jail house key."

"Vila," Avon said hoarsely. "Can you," he looked toward the ceiling, remembering the monitors and mentally rephrased his question, "can you 'express your talents'." He glanced significantly at the door.

Vila shook his head. He'd seen the outside of the door when they first were thrown in. Now, if he had a fish hook and thirty kilo test line he'd be in business. But he hated to turn Avon down flat. "Baby, Baby I'm your sweet pet, your own personal, private marionette. Take my heart and take my soul, giving you complete control. If you want to see me do my thing, baby, pull my string."

With heartfelt sincerity, Avon said, "I wish I were back on the ship."

"I want to be- under the sea, in an Octopus's garden in the shade. Just you and me, under the sea, in an Octopus's garden, in the shade."

Avon groaned again. Blake! I'll get you for this!

Vila felt sorry for Avon. He was sick and worried, too, poor fellow. Vila knew everything was just fine. The universe was a wonderful place, and even Federation guards weren't such bad guys. After all, they'd left him with Avon to cheer up his mate. It didn't seem to be working, though. It might be easier if he could talk instead of sing all the time, but Avon hadn't given him permission. He wasn't quite sure why Avon hadn't wanted him to talk, but there must have been a good reason. Avon never did anything without a good reason.

It was hard to tell without his chronometer but he thought they must be overdue for call in by now. He nudged Avon who was lying very still hoping to avoid more motion-induced nausea.

Avon flinched. "No."

Vila nudged him again and Avon sighed. "All right, what do you intend to sing now? A lullaby?"

"You've got a friend. Winter, spring, summer and fall- all you got to do is call. You just call out my name and you know where ever I am I'll come runnin', runnin' back home to you. To see you again. You've got a friend. "

"I suppose that was meant to be comforting. Unfortunately, I can't call anyone but you. And I could do very well without your company."

Vila tried again. "Any minute now and ever after, I will hear the sound of his sweet laughter- Any minute now, that Bloke will show up. Any minute now- or I will throw up."

"You would phrase it that way." Avon swallowed again. In a moment, he nodded. "I certainly hope you're right."

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Marian Mendez

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