Even in your conception you are nothing less than a tool.
Another bullet in the chamber
And he thinks of himself so clever
Even from your birth you are tainted by hubris, that viscous oil that seemingly seeps from every crevice and bowel of your lineage, as though it were what ran through your veins in place of blood.
You are brought into this world. You are alive. You are red with blood and wet with bodily liquids, your muscles are tense and you are screaming.
Nobody in the room knows it, but this is how you will spend most of your life.
When the council hears word, catches a glimpse, they are disgusted.
They have no idea what is coming.
Your father’s transactions are disgusting
Your conception is disgusting
You are disgusting.
But you are red and your muscles are tensed and you are alive.
And this cannot be undone.
And you will not be undone.
You are discussed in hushed whispers, behind closed doors; you wail in the open. Begging to be seen. Begging to be known.
Begging for someone, anyone, to understand that the actions that have transpired, that the choices that have been made, that the consequences of this day will ripple throughout history, and like a tsunami tear them asunder.
They have no idea what to do with you.
Soldiers have a place in the philosophers
Engineers have a place in the philosophers
Doctors have a place in the philosophers
Workers have a place in the philosophers
You are just a body. And not a very useful one. Yet.
But the day may come when you are.
With a sigh and a hand wave he is allowed his victory.
You’re given back over, and for a few years, everyone can pretend you aren’t bound in strings.
With the gaze of a hundred eyes piercing your skin.
You sit in a schoolhouse and learn to count. To write “Alexandra P. Delarge” in perfect penmanship.
You recite the names of countries the Philosophers and conspiracy theorists and political spectators and ideological fanatics keep on their lists.
Alarms go off.
Names are shared.
Your teacher draws red Xs over a map of Europe.
You hear stories of foxes and rabbits.
You’re asked which you think is best
Which you think American should be
What you want to be.
It’s the most important question you’ll ever be asked.
You’re easily 10 years too young for a debutante ball.
But the stage has already been set, even if you don’t quite know your lines yet.
Even if the script hasn’t quite been finished yet.
And still. You’re put in a dress and a man takes your photo. Sometimes with man dressed like a soldier. Sometimes with another child. Sometimes by yourself.
The flash burns your eyes.
You can’t see your father.
But everyone sees you.
And you make your decision.
You don’t know why.
You don’t remember why.
No one will remember why.
One day you’re standing over another boy. Blood stains your uniform. But more stains his.
The dancing of fingers ends and the page is pulled.
The script has been finished.
There is a look in your father’s eyes you will not see, maybe you have a use afterall.
You are brought to a room by yourself.
You sit for a while before a man comes in, he says there’s a few things he needs to explain to you.
That the Germans are right, partially at least. The world is divided, amongst foxes and rabbits. And lucky you. You get to be a fox. And he and his friends can help keep you at the top of the food-chain. Want you to meet the other foxes.
But first you need to meet a rabbit.
He takes you down a long hallway and to another room, you’re curious and you follow. Much like a real fox would.
There are other men, men like father, foxes , waiting for the both of you when you’re led inside a small dark room. At the other end of the room, past all the looming figures, is what looks like a plain metal bed.
And a naked man shivering, tied to each corner, with a sack around his head.
The man who led you here is given a metal rod with a long curly wire at one end, he flicks a switch and you’re surprised by a cracking noise from the other end. The wand is then placed in your hands
“It’s very simple sweetheart, don’t be afraid now,”
You feel for the same button at the base of the wand, its heavy and almost gritty. Like the feeling of an old cast iron fence when you run your fingers along it.
Your thumb finds the button.
You gasp softly at the noise and accompanying sparkles, the slight twitch in your wrist as the machine comes alive and the flowing electricity jitters it awake in your grasp.
The man who brought you here nods his approval and the others step aside, giving you a better view, and pathway, to the man strapped down.
Almost instinctively, at the preemptive crackle, he begins to howl and flail.
Someone shouts in German and you are startled momentarily, but the man does not cease.
An encouraging hand (are they all wearing gloves?) is placed on your shoulder from behind, and you are gently pushed. Pushed forwards. Pushed into the moment. Pushed into your role. You walk as though your legs aren’t your own. As though that hand still guides you. A bit unsure of yourself, you are but a girl after all, you hesitantly look around. Noticing your humility the few men you hold eye contact with nod softly. These are your allies.
These are your peers.
You are foxes.
This is what foxes do.
You click the button
And feel the wand whiz to life in your tender hands.
You press the tip to the bed.
The man jolts against his restraints and shrieks, you can see from his movements how red and tender his backside has become. You find when the rod meets the bed the jittering in your hand is dulled and the crackle and light of the sparks intensifies as the electricity passes through the bed and against the man, frying his skin slowly. Ever so slowly.
It’s trance inducing.
You roll your finger off the button and watch as his screams became whimpers, how even in the dull lighting his pink wretched body still sheens with sweat. His fingernails and toenails gnarled and yellow. His knuckles taut, and white. You think about the grey concrete flooring and dark brick walls of the room, and how pretty the sparkles are reflecting off his taut body, reflecting a marvelous concoction of hue in your bright eyes.
You do it again.
His torso pumps, trying to get the air in and out fast enough to scream in such a way to truly express his agony.
Not unlike a fat pink earthworm being hooked.
Curious, as any good fox, you flip the button back off and wonder.
How would it be to press the wand to the flesh directly?
There are no sparks, but the body dances like nothing you’d ever seen before, and in as fast as a flash of sound and shrieks, is there stillness and quiet when you pull away. A fat red boil marking when you had touched the wand to.
You are compelled to touch it.
You trace your fingers around the base, over the smooth bulge, over the rough scaring stretching out, you brush singed hairs off the area.
When you pull back a man shouts something in german again, you can’t understand him. But you feel compelled to agree with your pack.
Another man takes a bucket from asides the bed, filling it from a faucet and throwing it over the body. He stirs again, gasping and gagging under the sack.
You understand and press the wand back to the bed, the body wretches and burps, crackling along with the wand. The water boiling and evaporating into steam. The bagged head convulses violently and darkens suddenly in color. You know he has coughed up blood.
And soon the screams are replaced with chokes
And the chokes by the quiet thrashing noises of the body against the bed.
This time when you pull away there is nothing.
Nothing but a congratulatory hand on your shoulder.
You were right.
You are a fox.
But you are still young, you are still small, and you are still vulnerable.
And any vulnerability is weakness
And any weakness is a liability to the den.
And so all vulnerability must be beaten out.
And so it is.
You are strapped down to the same bed, what you learn is actually called picana , you are bound, hanged, blinded, whipped, beaten, burnt, shocked, starved, insomnified, and berated endlessly. You are no longer in school but you learn many things, just as you are nothing but an object to your adversaries, you yourself are a weapon. There comes a day when you beat your handlers harder than they beat you, when you pull the weight of your body up and out of strappado, when you swallow your screams as your dunked into another ice bath, and patiently wait for your next instructions. There’s always further instruction. Foxes don’t take care of one another, but they take care of the den.
And you are a fox.
But it is not enough to beat weakness out, strength must be gained. You are granted free access of the den’s gymnasium and courtyard. Your physical health is monitored by staff nurses. Sickness is weakness afterall. And weakness is unacceptable.
The sterility of the environment bores you, and you quickly abandon the recommended regimen for more ...wild alternatives. Outside the small barred windows of the dormitories the whims of the forest cry out for you. You leave your boots by the bed. The ground is cold and damp beneath your feet. You stretch your toes and feel the grit of soil and the dull aching pricks of rock. You bound outwards, your heel bouncing in rhythm with your breathing, rapidly accelerating.
You are on the courtyard
You are at the treeline
You are in the woods
The underbrush scratches are your legs but you don’t care. You are free and you are wild and you are alive. You have a physical body of organs and blood and muscle and it must be used, it will be used. You run and climb and jump and scream, seeming to never tire, to only build in energy and momentum.
This becomes your routine. It isn’t a secret, but nobody comments on it, although you soon start coming back to your quarters to find manilla envelopes and documents on your bot. You memorize them religiously. Facts and numbers and statistics on the building you inhabit, of the people you associate with, of other foxes. You learn you’re someone called a ‘Philosopher’, you learn what that entails. You learn what you are.
You are a mad thing.
It is noticed quickly.
There is no weakness left to beat.
Now it’s your turn to do the beating.
Everyone is impressed by your progress, and there are whispers to expand the experiment. Tensions are building across borders. There are plenty of Amerians antsy about the safety and security of their children.
It is explained that the responsibility has been saddled onto you.
At first you’re just a delivery girl. A well armed delivery girl. That doesn’t change much, it’s just that now you are delivering things people don’t want to people who don’t want them. You often have to force your way in, force the right things into the right hands as per instructions.
And you don’t question instructions.
At 16 most American girls sit in classrooms.
In a way you stand before one.
You stand before children smaller than you were a men larger than you are now, you lead them down the hallways and into rooms, you explain to them the differences between foxes and rabbits.
And then you demonstrate it.
Just as you had on your first day.
Over and over again.
You administer different torture sessions, give your ‘students’ new names. They start calling you Cobra. Always poised to strike.
You hear your mother has passed.
You forgot you had one.
Madness. They say. Wouldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop screaming, couldn’t stop dancing, couldn’t stop laughing.
A terrific and twisted maniacal smile split across the face of her cadaver, the autopsy revealed her esophagus mangled and red.
The next day you hear your father passed.
Broken heart. They say.
The Philosophers part with some of his personal estate to you.
“Take it, you’ve earned it,”
No one ever tells you you have to earn your family.
The first thing you do is hire a tailor.
Foxes are as clever as they are dangerous, and a clever way for your bosses to save money has been the recycling of uniforms. You get yours patched up and better fitted. Still loose and baggy and breathable to run and fight in, but no longer falling off and leaving your vulnerable.
The piercing of eyes doesn’t burn as badly.
Often you’re taken out of your uniform and dressed up like you had been once upon a time when you were a child,
“Don’t worry,” they say
“We understand,” they promise coyly, their eyes lying about a solidarity you will spend years learning the depth in falsitude behind.
First you are made to talk with soldiers, soldiers who are too stupid to be foxes, or at least of your den as you have been taught. You’re asked by the men who have asked that you refer to them as brothers (but that’s never really felt right has it?) to pick out specific pieces of information from conversation, to lure and keep busy certain men at certain places for certain lengths of time.
And of course you do.
But that’s not all you do is it?
It’s not exactly like you’ve seen any good (or any) motion picture shows or read any good (or any) books lately, if you are to push a little further, discuss more relevant topics, learn a neat militaristic or survival or self-defense trick or two
Who’s to judge?
Of course you keep up your routines all the while, there’s more than one way to fire a gun and there’s more than one way to rip out a man’s throat. Ways your superiors, your ‘brothers’ in arms have failed to utilize or understand. Ways that catch them off guard.
Were you a spy? You just did what you were asked in exchange for being a fox, for warm(ish) meals and a warm(ish) bed
Well now you’re a scout
War is on the horizon you hear, apparently all that eyelash batting you were doing did the country some good and you’ve been promoted. What’s above a fox? A wolf? A cobra?
Occasionally you’re tied down from missions and pushed into meeting rooms or into offices of majors and commanders and generals.
“Show me what you did when--” is how it always begins. Silly, they’ve been in the business of war longer than you’ve even been alive and there’s still nothing they wouldn’t give for your input.
You find you’re much happier on the battlefield, in the jungle, in the trenches, in the corridors planting bombs, than you’ve ever been before. It’s exhilarating. The mission almost takes a back seat to how fast you can get it done. How long you can impersonate a guard before you’re discovered, if you’ll ever be discovered--how fast, how clean you can take a man down. Soon you don’t even have to strive for lethality, you’re carrying men twice your size over the shoulder paralyzed from their shoulder down with ease, sending men with broken arms and twisted spleens and no knee-caps left back to your old students for interrogations.
You don’t bat a pretty little eyelash at the carnage in your path, but your colleagues struggle to blink their’s.
You’ve always done what was asked of you, you’ve never known an alternative, but now that means something, you stand a little straighter with your head a little higher and more medals passed on each day.
You’re a real soldier now.
You’re also smaller than the other soldiers but when has that ever stopped you? You’re briefed as briefly as possible on the various countries and cities you’re being shipped off to. The excitement of taking passage in the domain of birds doesn’t faze you anymore, anything outside of the mission and your ability to perform it, and the potential for you to perform the next one even better, has become all but background radiation to you.
But there’s more to being a solider isn’t there?
There’s always more,
Huddled between men in plans, meeting rooms, trenches, bunkers, and saloons you become an expert in the bounds of your own rank, how to roll a cigarette properly and the benefits there are to doing so, the men you so easily overpower on the field you now gleefully drink under the table, it’s not war, but it’s still a jolly old time.
Of course it is, you’re a jolly old soldier,
Infectious, inspiring, popular, admired,
You’re racking up quite the body count, until you aren’t, until bodies aren’t as useful as mouths, and then you’re taking more prisoners than anyone is.
“Take no prisoners” you hear from the try-hards.
You laugh, information is more valuable than its weight in blood,
And that’s why you’re such a valuable soldier
But what’s above a soldier?
And every captain--
--needs a good team.