The feeling of elation lasts for about thirty seconds before I turn around to see if the old guy is alright. I’m not sure what I’m hoping for—for him to be okay or out cold—but regardless I can’t just do the cool guy thing and keep walking away without looking back.
As it turns out, Eklund’s got a bloody nose, but seems okay otherwise. Fine. Now I can get back to…
Jazz is in front of me. Or I should say Jazz’s chest is. He’s a big guy. He puts a heavy hand on my shoulder. “You ordered me to protect you, Baxter, but this person does not seem to be a threat any longer. How do you wish me to proceed?”
Eklund takes some time to walk up to me before he responds. “It’s okay, Jazz,” he says, holding his nose gingerly to keep blood from dripping, “He was just reacting to a little test I gave hib.”
Jazz reaches into his trouser pocket to pull out a handkerchief. He gives it to Eklund.
“Thank you, Jazz. Drat it. No batter how buch I dow I’b dot supposed to tilt my head back, I still want to.”
“A test?” I glance between the two men, still halfway wanting to find my way to Janis and the drama going on around the gurney that’s steadily retreating down the hall.
“That was very ibpulsive of you, hitting be like that.” Eklund frowns regarding the bloody handkerchief for moment before rephrasing.“Very willful.”
I shrug. “You pissed me off. I reacted. I’m starting to think that might be what will is all about. Just acting on emotions.”
“Is that it?” Eklund asks, “Or is it the codtroll, of your ebo…of your feelings, that indicates will?”
I’m a little confused at this point. Too many things going on at once. “Look, I’m not one of your experiments, okay? I want to see what’s going on with the FBI guy.”
“That’s true, I suppose. I’d have to have a lot bore test subjects before you could be part of ad experibent. You’re really a case study. The data I get frob you is strictly anecdotal. Still, it’s a starting point.”
I swallow, remembering that Eklund brought me here to experiment on me. I am literally his test subject. Or at least potentially one. When does a test subject start actually being a test subject?
I’m trying to tease this apart when Eklund continues “I was also hoping that by interacting with you, Jazz and Janis would learn to think on their own. Develop their own will.”
I look back at Jazz, just in time to see his face relax from a twitch that looked a lot like a sneer of contempt.
“Did you see it?” Eklund sounded joyful. “He still doesn’t realize he has opinions.”
Jazz’s cortex fans start whirring as he frowns.
“Just let it go, Jazz. Don’t overheat yourself.”
“Yes, Baxter.” Jazz says, relaxing.
“As for you, Mr. Yates, you should let Jazz take you to your quarters. You’ve had a lot of excitement recently and you aren’t going to be buch help to anybody for the dext few hours. I’ll just leave you with this small paradox: can a person choose to ignore his or her own will?”
“Of course they can!” I said, “Otherwise…”
Otherwise they wouldn’t have free will, only they are supposed to be ignoring their free will… Crap.
“Get some sleep, Mr. Yates. Things will likely get very interesting this afternoon.”