Alright, folks. I’ve decided to finally tackle a full-on story. Here’s what I’ve drafted so far, and no, I didn’t start at the beginning. Feedback welcome.
Dr. Preston DeWitt seated himself before the subject, spread his file open on the table[A1] , and powered on a voice recorder.
“Where is detective Haggar?” The Sleepwalker asked him.
“Detective Haggar is on assignment as we speak. He won’t be seeing you for at least two weeks,”
“That’s a shame,” the subject said blankly. “I rather enjoyed speaking with him.”
“I can see you’re taking a liking to being arrested. Makes me wonder why you didn’t do it sooner,” DeWitt said with a small laugh.
“Yes,” the subject replied, again blankly. DeWitt skimmed over a stack of papers and then faced his query.
“So, they call you the Sleepwalker, correct?”
“You don’t have a real name? Not even an alias?” Silence. “Okay, then. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?” Silence. DeWitt sighed and mentally reviewed his report and the current exchange. Lack of emotionality. Reported lack of empathy or remorse when asked about crimes. Exhibits anhedonia but never mentioned having a favorite hobby-aside from killing, that is. Batteries of evaluation and scans show decreased activity in the autonomic nervous system, amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and other areas concerned, along with breakdowns in white matter. No history of substance abuse, but then again he hasn’t said much on that. All signs point to ‘Psychopath’ but something about him says ‘Android’. After all he was reported missing from Detroit…
“What do you feel when you kill your victims? What goes in your head when you…end their lives?” Silence. This is bullshit, DeWitt thought.
“Come on, we can’t keep doing this all day,” He urged. The Sleepwalked merely blinked in response.
“You must be enjoying this!” DeWitt laughed with a small puff of frustration. No wonder Haggar walked.
“I am,” the Sleepwalker finally answered, curtly.
“And now he speaks!”
“Well if you must know how I feel during and after the act, I don’t. In fact, my state of mind when I kill isn’t what you would call, by all conventions, ‘conscious’. I somehow slip out of my current state-what you would call ‘conscious’-and into a dreamlike state. What you-and to an extent, I-would find interesting is that I am still in control of my actions; think of it as a state of lucid dreaming-“
“So you’re sleepwalking and experiencing REM simultaneously?”
“Hence the name, doctor, now let me finish! As I was saying, I fall into a dreamlike state where I am somehow still in control of my actions. At times things are exaggerated and seem out of place as in a normal dream but these are the hallucinogenic side effects of these states. Now, here’s where things get interesting,” a grin slowly crept across the Sleepwalker’s face, revealing a set of straight and slightly yellowed teeth. “This dreamlike state is not found among androids or any other sort of artificial intelligence.” DeWitt’s lips pursed and his pulse quickened. Can’t be. This guy can’t be human[A2] .
“That could mean only one of two things,” the captive continued. “Either I am in fact an android, which seem plausible given my unique neurological activity, and that my last known location prior to here was Detroit, Michigan-home to the government’s clandestine and advanced Artificial Intelligence research facility, or that I am another poor soul subjected to a series of horrendous experiments in some other government facility nobody knows about.” The grin subsided as he finished, but the Sleepwalker continued to smile in a smug, disconcerting manner. DeWitt could only blink and fiddle with his watch. How is that even possible? Androids aren’t capable of sleep, they power down. And sleepwalkers aren’t able to recall episodes clearly, let alone at all. What are we dealing with here?
“You do that when you’re nervous, I’ve noticed,” The Sleepwalker gestured to DeWitt’s wrist. “Do you think you can somehow turn back the clock and redo everything so as to somehow gain the upper hand? You of all people should know that time only flows in one direction and that its flow is immutable. Then again, you haven’t seen what I’ve seen!”
How does he know-?
“Time is truly a fascinating thing, isn’t it, Mr. DeWitt? We have so much of it but so little; it is our best friend and our worst enemy; we can do so much with it but it is completely out of our control. Or is it? I can tell you that it isn’t. Do you want to know what I saw in Detroit, Mr. DeWitt? I saw men manipulating the very fabric of time-turning back the clock and I don’t mean as a classroom prank. No, they would go backwards in time, making me repeat trial after trial of a plethora of tests for days and weeks on end, even though it was all on the same day if you take the reversions into consideration,”
He’s playing with me, DeWitt thought. None of what he’s saying is real; not even the government’s capable of that kind of work. If I walk out now, he wins; if I stay, he wins, but I’ll be in his pocket. Fuck it. If I’m gonna walk outta here at least I’ll have some sense left in me.
“I can tell that you want to leave and that you think this is going nowhere. On the contrary, Dr. DeWitt, this has been quite fun and informative for me. I only wish the setting were a little less…formal that we may have a proper discussion on time and other matters of philosophical concern. Now if you would excuse yourself I would like to return to my cell. Until next time, Dr. DeWitt!” The Sleepwalker continued to smile as DeWitt shut off the recorder and assembled his papers before walking out of the interrogation chamber. Captain Bryce Chastain greeted him with an angry stare.
“You let him play with you like that?” He growled.
“You heard what he said, Captain! About the sleepwalking and the tests-“
“So you let your obsession stop you from probing further into this case?”
“Captain, our results, or lack thereof, speak for themselves! We’re getting nowhere with this guy! Why can’t we just send him off to St. Benedict’s and move on to something we’re used to?”
“Because we’re on to something big here, Preston!” Chastain said excitedly. “You said it yourself, ‘you heard what he said’!”
“Something tells me you don’t have much experience interrogating sociopaths, Bryce.” DeWitt grumbled.
“Even so, but I still say we’re on to something big. We’ll let him have his fun. He’ll speak soon enough,” With that, Chastain returned to his office. DeWitt sighed and motioned for the two officers on duty to return the Sleepwalker to his cell. He then walked outside into the cool November chill for a cigarette. As he lit it, he replayed the interrogation in his head and continued to fixate on what the Sleepwalker had told him about the experiments on time manipulation.
“I told you he’d give you a hard time,” a voice said from his right. Detective Martin Haggar was reaching into his coat pocket for a cigarette and a lighter. He drew a pack of Lucky Strikes and lit one before resuming his “debriefing” of DeWitt. “What did he tell you?”
“Do you really want to know? He said that he’s still in control of his actions during his sleepwalking episodes,” The forensics expert began.
“I know that. What else did he say?”
“You know how I’m interested in time, right? Well,” He took a drag before continuing. “He somehow knew about that and decided to play on it. Said something about being experimented on in for periods of time that went up to weeks but weren’t actually weeks because they kept turning back time. Probably did that for reliability issues, I’d say,” He scoffed at the last part before taking another drag and turning to Haggar. “Did he do that to you?” Haggar smoked silently for a moment before answering.
“Yeah, he did. He somehow knew about some of the cases I never talk about and taunted me about those. In the end I lost my temper and stormed out before I beat the shit out of him.” He chuckled at this and put out his cigarette in a trashcan. “He’ll do that to you and everyone else who enters that room. I have a feeling I’m the one he likes playing with the most,”
“He asked about you today. Told him you were out investigating another case,” Haggar huffed; he didn’t know whether to feel appreciated or embarrassed.
“Well that’s not entirely true: the Samwick murder somehow ended up back to our mutual friend; heh, I guess he really doesn’t discriminate after all. Anyway, I’m off to the paperwork. Need anything?”
“Nope, be seeing you!” Haggar walked into his office and slumped into his chair. It had been a long day but the effort paid off: the Samwick murder had shed more light on the Sleepwalker case than he’d imagined.
“Alrighty then,” he said to himself as he slowly opened the file. “Let’s see what we’ve got here,”