“The nuclear device is going to go off in less than four hours,” says Brad.
“And we don’t even have a suspect,” sighs Steve.
They look gloomily at the dingy gray wall of their lab.
“Would it help? I mean, at this point?” Brad says.
“We could torture them,” says Steve. “And find out where the device is. Then we could evacuate people and save thousands of lives.”
“Point,” says Brad.
Both of them sigh.
“What if we torture you?” Brad asks.
“Well, it’s doing something,” Brad points out. “I mean, at least it’s not just sitting here.”
“I can see how you might feel that that might be necessary,” Steve says.
He doesn’t mean that. He’s actually retreating, just a tiny bit, while watching Brad very carefully for indications that Brad is kidding.
Unfortunately for Steve, he isn’t.
“Gya!” screams Steve, not much later. Then he babbles. Then he begins to talk. “I’ll tell! I’ll tell you anything!”
“Where’s the nuclear device?” Brad demands.
“It’s at 1010 Rue de la Forge!”
Steve pauses. He blinks. Even through the mist of pain, he’s surprised by the fact that he said that.
“I’ll send someone to check that out,” says Brad, darkly, threateningly. He does.
“It’s the truth,” says Steve. “I don’t know how I knew. But it’s the truth.”
A few minutes pass. Brad’s phone rings. He listens to it. He hangs up. Then he stares at Steve in growing wonder.
“It was there.”
“It was there?”
“It was there.”
Brad shakes his head.
“Wow,” Brad says. “It must be the torture.”
“Let me try!” says Steve. He flails his shackled arms.
“Not on me!” says Brad, looking a little ill.
“Maybe on Helen?”
Experimentally, they torture Helen. “Surely, you’re familiar with Godel’s subversive theorem,” Steve interrogates. “But can you actually give a statement that’s true but unprovable within the logical framework in which we live our lives?”
“This one!” wails Helen.
Steve frowns. “Hey, is that right?” he asks Brad.
“I think so,” says Brad. “But I can’t construct a proof, offhand.”
“Ha!” says Steve.