A human mind is a curious place. We never quite know what the next person will think about anything, and we never can be sure of what our own minds will come up with. Inspector Pinkerton was no different, his mind could do wonderful things or terrible things. His mind could wander aimlessly for days on end without letting him know. If it weren’t for the sign in his blinking box hurtling through the blackness that read, “…days since arrival”, he would have no sense of time or place at that point. His unique abilities, gained through genomic manipulation, had landed him in a solitary confinement cell in low orbit around the Earth. Pinkerton had been alone in there for long enough that he began to create an imagined dialogue with himself, and he could become quite argumentative when he said things to himself that pushed his buttons.
He knew he was slipping into insanity in his perfect solitude, but he began to enjoy it. Before long the Inspector was as mad as a hatter, and he took enjoyment in counting the number of times he could regenerate a body part in a year. His personal favorite was the little toe on his right foot, which he regrew almost 52 times in his first year of complete madness. Not getting the toe back for the 52nd time made him fly off the handle. He cut off the whole of the right leg with a butter knife, and the mess it left – the cutting off of his leg – also made him become upset. He fashioned a mop with a cleaning sponge, some tendons, and his discarded femur.
J.R. still hadn’t regained his right leg when his first visitor arrived. He hadn’t had a visitor since being catapulted into orbit decades prior. The visitor looked at Pinkerton, tapped out a note in her tablet, and left without saying a word. It must have left quite an impression on the visitor to see the cage in such a state of disarray, to see a man with one leg smaller than the other and a necklace made from toes.
The visitor was the new leader of the Trans-Atlantic Confederation of States, the most powerful person on the planet, and she was curious about the genetically reverse-engineered man that was shot into space at the beginning of the Third World War. Her name was Samira Martinez-Hulthausen, and she had a plan for the exiled mutant now that the war was over and she only ruled two-thirds of the globe. Pinkerton was in for a surprise.
J.R. watched as the mysterious visitor jetted away in her shuttle. He just kept watching until it faded to a dot that was descending upon what he thought might be Argentina. He kept staring, hoping to figure out what was happening, hoping that the dot would turn around and grow larger, hoping for a visitor to spend some time with him, and eating what was left of his right leg. After staring into the void between his cell and Earth for several days in a trance-like state, Pinkerton had an imaginary visitor.
It was that woman he had seen. The one who shuttled to his cell and appeared to be taking notes. She seemed so real, so present in his imagination. She came in through the airlock and instantly the room smelled of hibiscus and honeysuckle, her care-worn caramel skin and sparkling intense blue eyes held his gaze, and she spoke to him.
“You are a man who was born three times, Mister Pinkerton, and you have a purpose. I need you, the planet needs you, please agree to work for us.”
“What will be required of me?”
“You have been destroying yourself for years as a form of entertainment, now you will need to destroy a very evil man and his lackeys for the greater good of the populace. They do not know what they need and are contented to live in a life of deceit and blind obedience.”
“I just watched you leave without speaking to me, how have you come back?”
“I haven’t. You’re off your rocker J.R., and you’re talking to yourself again.”
He shook his head violently to stop the imaginary conversation, which caused him to go into an uncontrolled tumble from the ‘lower front left’ corner of the cell to the ‘upper rear right’ corner. He pinballed around in his cell for a while before he decided to clean himself up. He put the necklace of toes back in his nightstand and dumped the rest of the unneeded body parts through the airlock. J.R. watched as a single tear floated away from his face and he sobered from his solitude induced madness.
He began to tell himself that he would have another visitor, that he would smell the familiar smells of his homeland, see the familiar sights close-up, and hear the sounds of laughter and birds again. Pinkerton became more hopeful for his future, and he spent countless hours daydreaming about what earth was like so many years later. What the people and places would be like, how society had changed, and what real food would taste like.
In the decades of his isolation, he could discern some sort of great row between the nations of Earth. He called it the Third World War and, based on the amount of destruction he watched from space during the twenty years of fighting, he concluded that a great deal had changed. Who was the visitor, and what did she have planned for the only man exiled from Earth?