The Piercing Gaze

After two hours, The Old Man was looking forward to the end of the ordeal. On the whole, he had not done badly. He had surprised many by admitting that the whole mess was his fault and had even looked sincere while saying it. Sure, there had been moments when he had wavered, fidgeted or waffled. Sure, it might not have been a good idea to say that Alpha had been blindsided; in Alpha’s position, being blindsided was not an option. But these moments would surely be glossed over, forgotten. He would ride it out.

Then it was time for That Woman to ask her question. That Woman, mention of whose name still made his and his supporters’ hackles rise.

As That Woman spoke, and, it seemed to The Old Man, she spoke interminably, making the minutes allocated to her seem like an eternity, The Old Man fidgeted again. The Old Man swayed from side to side, looking to his left, looking to his right, never meeting That Woman’s Gaze. But he felt the Gaze, all right. Who would not? It didn’t matter that he now wielded more power than That Woman, that he had always had fewer scruples than That Woman. It didn’t matter, even, that That Woman’s question wasn’t particularly interesting or salient. That Woman’s Gaze came with electrodes. Under That Woman’s Gaze, part of him slunk away, and now it was The Old Man himself who was on the box, being pointed at and laughed at.

That Woman had stopped talking. Her Gaze, though, stayed fixed on The Old Man. What was her question, again? The Old Man fidgeted, grimaced, squirmed, and scratched the top of his head. 15 more minutes to go.