Friday, October 2, 2009

Bookends No. One

The Prisoner

He slept like a man that’s dead. The gentle release of sedative gas into his cell had taken him down quickly, down from the heights of screaming paranoia to near-normalcy – if you could describe inability to think normal. As he went under again the glimpses of faces appeared before him – no amount of sedative could prevent that. Their mouths open in horror, their eyes frantic with desire to avoid any contact with him, the trails of blood as he opened their skin – he wondered idly what they had done to deserve dying at his hands. Oh well, it really didn’t matter. They deserved to die and he was better than most at making it happen. A man should enjoy his work, after all.

His body twitched as random synapses fired, still not aware that sleep was coming. He dropped, sliding down the smooth aluminum skin to a heap on the floor, an unkempt pile of clothes, flesh, and telemetry. His dreams were dark chains of death, one victim after another. He could hardly tell the real from the desiderata. A few he thought he recognized. Most, he had no idea. It filled his mind, awake or asleep. Save for the few moments he had on first arising to ponder his life.

The cell was small but not unduly so – an efficient size to house the prisoner. The light was always on – enough to see, but not enough to keep him awake had he wished to sleep without intervention. He rarely did. The color was neutral, a light cream he thought, though other than his skin he had no way to differentiate colors. It was always clean, though he had never cleaned it himself. He had tried to set traps to catch someone cleaning it while he was under, but he was never truly able to say that he could prove it. It was the not knowing that ate at him. He could never be sure...

Similarly there was always food available in the small cupboard. He never knew exactly how it was replenished, but there was always enough. He liked the bars in the red wrappers best, although the ones in blue were a close second. He almost never ate the ones packaged in yellow. There was nothing on the wrappers to indicate what they were. And he could not describe the taste – only that the three were different and that he enjoyed one over the other. He could not even recall what real food tasted like. Like the cleaning he had set traps to catch someone replacing the food bars, but he could never be sure...

Water was available, and sanitary facilities. He had tried all sorts of experiments to provoke some action – a visit from his jailers, a maintenance man, anyone. But nothing worked. A supremely intelligent man in his life, he knew that some of his experiments had to have caused the need for response, but the constant cycle of raving paranoia followed by enforced sleep rendered continued rational thought difficult. Still, he tried. The lack of reference or a diurnal cycle – any semblance of normalcy – frustrated his attempts. He had no idea how long the cycles were. Hours, he thought. But he could never be sure...

There was nothing to write on or with. He was limited to what he could carry over in his mind, twisted though it was. He had tried scratching on the walls – the traditional prisoner’s calendar, a record of bad and worse days, but there was nothing he had that made a mark. Once he had thought he had made a small dent in the area above the head of his bed, but when he next awoke it was gone. But he could never be sure...

Bodily movements indicated his imminent wakening. He planned this part of his life carefully, for it was the one period where his mental faculties functioned. He tried not to give any indication he was awake, laying still and continuing his breathing to try to think through things. This was when his memories were accessible. This cycle was no different. He remembered that he was a prisoner, that he was being punished for killing hundreds of innocent people on his home planet, wherever it was. He recalled being dragged past crowds screaming for his execution. He suddenly recalled that he was in an automated prison is space, that there would never be any release for him, no human contact, he was here forever. Of that he was sure...

Previously whenever he remembered it all he had tried to end his life. He had tried every way open to him, but he had no weapons. The cloth for everything he had couldn’t be formed into a noose. The sink didn’t hold water, and the water level in the toilet was too shallow to drown himself. He sat on the floor and began to bawl, the enormity of his punishment dawning on him once again.

He felt the paranoia begin to rise again. As he began to lose control he wondered if his mind was going or if they were doing it to him. It didn’t really matter. But he never could be sure...

The worst was the silence. In the years he had been there he had not heard a sound save his own voice He was being punished. The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind…

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The first in a series - see http://www.caseymorgan.org/ for more information. Two phrases are supplied - one must be the first, the other the last part of the story

Late, as usual I am.

1 comment:

rafifuck said...

Interesting punishment - no contact of any sort and I could see how he would start going crazy - although, sometimes that seems like a good idea - nobody to bother me.