A Knife

12 05 2006

The Prisoner

“I would escape,” said the prisoner, “if they had not blinded me.” The other prisoners scuttled forwards inching near him. Weary and sensing their presence, he pushed them away. “I am not exactly one of you, my fellow prisoners. I have committed no crime and still They do not understand that. It is They who keep us here. They smack our faces, bind our hands, burn out our retinas.” Again, he heard murmuring and sensed a faint light; the Optical Enhancement Initiative had not taken away his ability to sense light and dark. The faint light went out and everything resumed into darkness, but first he made a mental note of the event, as he does each time he witnesses “sight.” He resumed, “The difficulty in escaping is seeing our escape route and motivating ourselves to try.” He felt the cool edge of a Knife, probably made from steel he noted, run down his back, making a soft and faint incision. He was used to the Knife, it was how They kept him in check. “I am careful not to try now, I would not survive – there are too many ways to die and not nearly enough for survival.”

The Others could barely contain their amusement. One girl laughed out loud.

He struggled to preach, “They are coming for me, They draw blood at every opportunity.” They watched as a young brown-haired shy boy walked forward to inscribe his name on the prisoner’s body. Everyone was careful, no one wanted to see the child hurt by the sometimes violent prisoner. As soon as the brown-haired boy had carved “Jonathan” into the detainee’s skin, his parents motioned for his return. He had begun crying, completely lost in the complete absence of logic. None of this made sense to him; the boy remembers from what seems like a few days ago before coming here that people were kind in general. His emotions were childish, his agony was matured, and his sadness untouchably profound. The boy sat midway between the prisoner and his parents, watching the prisoner’s serene face fall again and again in and out of shadow like a miserable pendulum keeping time.

Another more enthusiastic girl sprang forward now. Her parents were aglow with pride; she moved closer and closer breathing more and more heavily, increasing the suspense. She toyed with the prisoner, the parents discussed the girl’s style and technique as being professional, one “very much beyond her age.” Circling the ragged and filthy prisoner, she encroached in on his clothing. The brown-haired boy looked wearily towards his parents, whose eyes were filled with disappointment and frustration. As the young boy watched his parents indifferently sever their ties to him, he noticed a wry smile come across his mother’s face. Then the boy heard a crushing, sickening strike – the knife struck skin, cut muscle, and pierced the bone. As the boy turned, he witnessed the girl repeatedly plunging the knife into the bloody thighs of the sobbing prisoner.

The boy began to cry. His parents left. The girl snickered and commented on how pathetic that boy was as she too exited. Some of the rest of the crowd gazed in mixed sympathy and delirious excitement. Two women in dark grey coats walked in, blindfolded the boy, bound his hands, and dressed him in a dark, ragged oversized soldier’s uniform. The boy was drugged, knocked out. He awoke years later alongside the first prisoner with the words “sleep well” carved into his chest.

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