Author’s Note: Thanks to those who have reviewed thus far. Established guidelines for care and feeding of a muse suggest that large numbers of positive and constructive reviews help the muse maintain a healthy body weight and promote a positive flow of original thoughts and ideas, so please feed him well and often
“His memory returns…” mused the Dark Lord.
“My Lord, I don’t understand. Statistics show that no one who has suffered from even a mild case of amnesia such as this has ever recovered in such a short time. There has to be a rational explanation for this…” said Walsh as they viewed the footage from the surveillance camera inside Oz’s cell.
“My dear doctor, sometimes there is no explanation that can be properly expressed by the scientific community. In this case, however, science
cannot rationalize this rate of recovery. The only answer I can give you is that the Force is with our friend in there,” replied Darth Mortalis. “He has rediscovered his connection with the Force, and in so doing has regained access to his memories. He knows who he is and what he and his friends were up to in here about a week ago. More importantly, he now remembers who I am and what has passed between us, and in time you will understand how important that is to me in my plans for him. Events will play out as I envisioned them. You need only have faith.”
Margaret Walsh sighed and shrugged her shoulders in acceptance. “As you wish, my lord. I never said I would ever completely understand the ways of the Force. I’m a scientist; I rely on empirical evidence, on facts and figures.”
“And that’s precisely why I need you, my dear Margaret. The power of the Dark Side does not easily lend itself to rationalization or examination by mere science. It doesn’t always explain what science can. Have you sent someone to upgrade the living conditions of Oz’s cell? I want him to understand that use of the Force will gain him great rewards,” Mortalis explained. “I’ll do the rest, and then the Dark Side will have him, and so will I. Have faith and be patient; these things take time, you understand…”********I’m trapped in here by a Dark Lord of the Sith. By Harris…God help me…
Oz’s memory was returning to him in bits and pieces, but it was coming back to him by the will of the Force. He had now much to contemplate in his spare time, of which apparently he had much as well.
Another day passed by through the counting of hot meals and sleep periods. He now had some idea of how long he had been in this place, and what had transpired since then. He sensed that he had been under close observation while unconscious, and that much had happened to him without his knowledge or consent. A full moon had passed, and to prevent the change, the Sith Lord had somehow introduced a suspension of colloidal silver through the intravenous feed that was keeping him nourished and hydrated. This was interesting to note as heretofore he had thought prevention of the change impossible except by the Force itself. He could even now feel the burning of the silver as it coursed through his veins, inhibiting the gene that triggered the transformation for each of the three nights of the full moon. It was acting like some sort of histamine blocker. He couldn’t help but note with some humor the similarity between the cycle of the wolf and a woman’s menstrual cycle. Perhaps the silver suspension acted in the same manner as the Pill did to prevent pregnancy. How ironic…
But did that not mean he would have to deny the beast within him? It was a part of him, a part of who and what he was, he remembered now. Accepting the simple truth of it required acceptance of the beast, too, did it not? Or did accepting the beast mean he would have to live with blood on his hands, fresh blood every month? He found himself strangely grateful to Harris that the Sith had given him a more convenient means of suppressing the monster. Up until now, he had only the Force to work with. Ever since he had discovered its power within him, ironically by accident, he had sought the means to do away with the curse of the wolf. He had meditated much on the matter, eventually learning through the Force that he could use its power to prevent the change, thus becoming a full member of society once again.
Another night passed, but this time when Oz woke up, he found himself on the cell floor. Looking around he noticed almost nothing had changed, except now on the metal slab that served for a bed there was a sheet of foam padding that looked like it could serve as a crude mattress. Apparently he was worth great consideration in some way. Why would someone who was basically the avatar of cruelty and hatred give him such creature comforts? What had he done to deserve this compassion, and to whom? Surely nothing one did in the service of evil could serve to do anyone any good, no matter how small. Oz began to grow anxious with the knowledge that somehow, by some means unknown to himself, he had hurt someone or screwed them over. It was uncharacteristic of him, as he had always prided himself on his compassion and his ability to remain calm and accept his circumstances whatever they were. Such emotional states were for him highly irregular.
He had just had breakfast the next day, a better one this time of toast and eggs with orange juice. It took him some time to finish it, however, as he was still wondering what was making him feel so guilty for taking it. He could barely sleep on the foam padding that last night, and eventually went to sleep on the cell floor instead, having felt too disgusted to remain one more minute on that traitor’s mattress, as he had then called it. Then the hammer fell when the door opened and Harris stepped in. The disappointment he felt for himself quickly gave way to anger at what the Sith had done to him and his friends, and the town at large up until the present moment.
Harris looked askance at Oz. “You didn’t take the mattress we gave you. I’m fairly insulted, Oz…”
are insulting my intelligence if you think for one moment that I would take anything but the most basic necessities from you. I don’t take gifts from psychopaths and murderers such as you, Harris,” Oz stated simply, the familiar Zen-like tone belying the resentment within him.
“You remember me at last, Oz. That’s good; you’re going to need it,” Harris replied. “Oh, don’t worry, Oz, this isn’t the whole question and torture interrogation type thing, although there may be some…discomfort
involved on your part.”
“And why is that?”
Harris cracked his trademark smirk and said simply, “Your introduction to the ways of the Dark Side begins today, Oz. I need a reliable apprentice by my side to help me with the great task I’ve set myself in order to protect our country and our world as a whole. There’s a lot going on that nobody knows about, except for myself and a few in the military. But their methods and their tactics are flawed. Their equipment is not up to the challenge of taking down a vast galactic empire, and that’s where I come in. But I cannot do it alone, and that’s why I need you, Oz.”
“Bullshit,” Oz retorted. “Just because the Force exists and you’ve turned to the Dark Side doesn’t make you Palpatine or an Emperor. There’s no other life out there in space, so far as we know, Harris, and there’s nothing you can say or do that can make me believe otherwise. If I want proof, I’ll find it elsewhere, not with you.”
Harris’s eyes widened with amusement at Oz’s rejection. “Actually, there is something out there, Oz, and it’s something that’s been on this Earth before long ago. But I won’t say any more about it until you’re ready to become my apprentice. And in case you need further incentive, there’s still this,” and here Harris pulled out a small black device with a recessed gray button, which looked rather like a keychain remote for a car alarm. He pressed it once, and it chirped once like a car alarm. But Oz hadn’t noticed that because at the same time he was clutching his head in both his hands and writhing on the floor from the agony of a migraine. He screamed as the pain took hold and threatened to destroy him. Almost as an afterthought, Harris pressed the button again, and it chirped twice as Oz’s migraine ceased its torment. He squatted down next to the werewolf and leaned in closely.
“Let me explain to you how this works, my dear Oz,” Harris said. “Through the Force, I can pick up on your thoughts and your actions. If you so much as think of trying to get out of here, I press this button. If you try to attack the troops I have assigned to watch over you, I press this button. If you even try to refuse my gifts out of some misguided sense of justice or guilt, I press this button.” He smiled as Oz glared at him balefully.
“Ah, anger, that’s good, Oz, that’s very good,” Harris drawled out, his voice becoming a silken purr as he picked up on Oz’s resentment in the Force. “You see, my old friend, I intend to break you. Slowly, gradually, and surely. I’ll start with your doubts, your guilt, and your fears. I will drag out anything and everything you’ve ever kept locked away in your heart for fear of discovery, and I will shove it in your face. I will deny you all your desires and hopes. I will make your worst nightmares come true for you. And in the end, you will realize your greatest potential, when you bow down and call me Master…”
Oz did his best then to dispel the anger that had wormed its way into his heart. What he got for his trouble was a chirp of the control device and another burning, tearing migraine that lasted about twice as long as the first one. Harris pressed the button again, and the migraine subsided, more slowly this time, and then he clucked his tongue and shook his head in disappointment.
“Didn’t I just tell you this would happen? My friend, your anger is my gift to you, and you tried to deny it.” He clicked the device again, and another migraine tore through Oz’s brain. After a second he clicked it again and the pain receded. Harris then spoke in Oz’s ear, softly.
“Do you feel it now? That impossible urge to inflict harm upon me? The fire in your mind that blinds you to all reason, all caution? Even if you don’t right now, it doesn’t matter. You soon will, and then your education will begin. Every torment I inflict upon you, every scar I mark you with, is my loving kindness, Oz. After enough time has passed you will begin to wonder just how you ever got by without it. I want you thinking about this, learning from it, and then drawing strength from it. Consider yourself lucky, Oz; you might have still wound up Force-blind like Willow…”
That brought a gasp of shock from the werewolf, and the calm center that he had tried so hard to re-establish in the face of his own growing horror gave way finally to rage and hatred.
“Don’t you DARE speak her name in front of me!” Oz screamed at last, and he lunged at Harris with all the strength he still had in an all-consuming need to pound the life out of the Sith Lord. A blast of Force energy staggered him and knocked him on his hindquarters, leaving him with just enough energy to sate his bloodlust verbally. “You fucking murderer, you lost the right to it when you took her life in cold blood, you bastard!”
“Yes, that’s it, Oz!” Harris crowed with joy as Oz slowly got back on his feet, his eyes still smoldering with the need to kill this evil thing before him, this Sith which was laughing at his lack of self-discipline. “Rage, desire, hate! Feel those things and more! We’re both monsters, you and I. You were bitten by an animal where I was afflicted with the Force. I embraced the Dark Side, but you must give yourself over to your inner animal, who thirsts for blood. Your rage gives you strength and focus. Let it turn now to hate, and you will finally have power
like you never dreamed
could be yours!”
His words suddenly shook Oz to his core. It was the strategy used by Palpatine in the movies when he tried to lure Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side, but there was a difference this time, as Oz felt the whole terrible weight of the thing settle on his shoulders. He had been so easily gotten to, had felt the pain of Harris’s words deep in his bones. He had been so quickly lashed out at the Sith, so complete was the loss of his prized focus with the mention of Willow. Willow, whom Harris and Oz had both loved, and whom Harris had killed to protect his terrible secret. It had only been a few days since he had woken from his unconscious state, only a day since he had regained his memory, but never had he felt so lost, so ashamed of himself. Willow would not have been very pleased with him. Oz felt as if his outburst had insulted her memory.
Harris just regarded Oz with an amused smile as he saw that his work was more than halfway done already. He had to keep it up, though, as Oz could still regain that calm center of his and undo everything that Harris had worked for so far. He had sworn to himself that Oz would become his apprentice, and he was going to see it through come Hell or high water.
He nodded his head, then, as Oz still locked gazes with him. “Right now you’re thinking you’ve dishonored yourself, right? I expect you’ll feel some regret for your actions later on, some shame for what you might have cost yourself. It’s normal, part of the process. Soon you’ll learn how to tap into that wellspring of power and strength without getting yourself overwhelmed with all of it. I’ll leave you to think about that for the night while I prepare the next stage in your training plan.” Harris then turned and waved his hand over the door. Upon its opening, Harris stepped out, leaving Oz to contemplate what had just happened…