The unknown soldier sat motionless, his right arm taped to the armrest of his wooden chair. He could not move, that would be the worst thing to do. Fierce conditioning had taught him the vital difference between good and evil. Sitting still was good; any form of movement was evil. It took him time to accept his new binary code of ethics, this exacting system of values distinguishing between right and wrong. By now, the new rule had formed a direct, unnatural union with the deepest part of his instincts.
"What did we say about eye movements?" a low and harsh voice uttered judgment from dense shadows of the bunker. Vapors of tobacco smoke spread through the stale air.
It was a trick. The unknown soldier knew he hadn't moved his eyes. He had kept his gaze fixed on the ugly mark on the wall before him since the session began. Nothing had moved. He knew the annoying voice was but another trick to anger him, to make him protest. To make him move, and be evil.
The back of his head ached. But he could not express pain. That would cause eye movement, and be evil. He was not able to see the area where a surgical drill had bored a small opening behind his left temple, splashing blood on the wall behind him. Nor could he see a thin electrode horn of wires leading into the hole of exposed brain tissue. He could only feel his difficult situation. And he could smell. Vapors of tobacco smoke stroked his wounds.
The guards of the bunker had planned their binary experiments with imposing detail. When, for example, the day would come to terminate this guinea pig, it would appear to the world that the unknown soldier had shot himself through the head. No one would ever suspect that a gunshot wound concealed the spot where his nervous system once functioned as the central processing unit of the world's greatest war machine. This was the best-kept secret: he was their magic child, the living Atla, titanic Superman of Nietzsche, driven insane.
"This is your war," the harsh voice promised, followed by a diabolic spasm of laughter behind a sour mist of smoke.
The unknown soldier ignored the harassment. Instead he concentrated on being good: no movement, no thought, perfectly still. He had laboriously learned that his eye movements were being electronically monitored. Charted on a plotter and superimposed over a map of the world. If he made the mistake of glancing to his left, bombs would fall near Britain. That would be evil. If he looked to his right, air attacks would occur toward Russia. Evil again. In time, he learned that his only good task was to look straight ahead at Jerusalem, and remain absolutely still.
He once sought to locate himself on the mental world map, and call an air strike on his own suffering body, in Holocaust City. But the guards made it clear to him that it would be quite useless. Their bunker was not without fortification, under hundreds of feet of pure marble. These were lightning tactics, the "blitzkrieg" of a swift new warfare, the guards boasted. And his intuitive, instinctual impulses would finally overcome and control the world for them.
"These are your battles," the menacing voice declared with pride. "How does it feel?"
The unknown soldier felt his neck and shoulders become tense. Something evil was about to happen. How does it feel? He reasoned to himself with a frantic desire to scream. He aroused his hatred to confront the issue. How does it feel to know that a blink of my eye brings death to thousands? Do I like it? He wondered with anxiety, neurotic fear, and guilt. A nervous finger suddenly twitched and he glanced downward without intention. A great evil had just occurred. Was it really involuntary, without his will? Or did a dark, reptilian part of his injured psyche actually take pleasure in this course of destruction? The bunker guards quickly traced his abrupt eye movements and plotted the direction, superimposed over a region of the Middle East.
"Bravo!" the repulsive, laughing voice expressed strong approval. "I couldn't have made a better choice myself."
The unknown soldier knew he would receive full knowledge of his evil act in the morning. Newspapers would be read aloud to him. The superfluous suffering, the unnecessary deaths. His name would be on front pages. Other pages would be destroyed by fire if they contained reports the guards would not want him to read. Then, the fresh pile of blazing newspapers would, as always, be dropped on the floor near his chair, burnt offering for him to eat. It was all there, at his feet. Every evil deed he ever committed was prevailing over peace, taking control of the nations. His name had become the world's most hated.
But what troubled him more was the cruel promise his guards made to him on nearly all occasions: the unknown soldier would finally be allowed to go free, they said. At a given time, when his instinctive will and bestial intuition had subjugated all cowardly opposition, the bunker doors would be unlocked and left wide open. He would then be free, absolutely free to leave his dungeon prison.
'Don't be stupid,' a voice around him often argued. 'Of course you'll walk out the door. She's waiting for you in Paris.'
But he also knew what his freedom would cost the rest of the world: the final blitzkrieg. Controlled fission weapons would be unleashed over Europe the moment he crossed the threshold of his bunker door, the guards cautioned him in jest. What was binary fission? He didn't know exactly. It would be very terrible, he was certain of that. But could he resist the natural urge to seek his own freedom? Or would selfish, carnal pleasure gain mastery of his soul?
He tried to ignore the conflict of emotions in his mind. Instead he concentrated on being good again: no movement, no thought, perfectly still. Be it fate or doom, the unknown soldier had now become the most hated man in human history. His subconscious will had caused more death than anyone who ever lived. Yet soon, he would have a chance to save his world, by staying right where he was.