The cell was solid except for the air vents, which were about four inches across and I was definitely larger than that. I could see nor hear anything from outside the cell, I hadn't see another human face for the two years I've been here. When they delivered food through the door slot, even if I was waiting for them to a chance to look out they were wearing helmets with darkened face-plates.
I still did not know why I was there. Or where “there” was. You would think there would be a trial of some kind before being locked up like this. You would think you would at least be aware of the charges against you, but I have had none of that. You can forget the “right” to a lawyer, there was no one even to complain to. The isolation was total.
I lay on the bunk and close my eyes and all I can hear is a steady but distant hum. Some sort of engine or air conditioning maybe. Air conditioning that never stops suggests it is really hot outside, although I have never felt warm in the cell.
After the first couple of months I threw a tantrum demanding something to do with my time besides taking showers, sleeping and, er, other things one can do alone and naked. Right after the next lunch was delivered I heard something dropped into the slot. Curious, I opened it and there was a book.
“War of the Worlds”, a classic, if a bit dated now that we have colonies on the moon and Mars but it was something to do. I dropped it back into the slot just before breakfast and another book was delivered with lunch.
“The Martian Chronicles”, another classic. Day after day there were more books to read but I noticed there seemed to be a pattern. “A Princess of Mars”, “Sands of Mars” and so on. Nearly all of the books were fictional novels about Mars as imagined by authors. I didn't know if there was a reason for this.
Were my jailers suggesting I was on Mars? Because the gravity seemed normal enough, but that could be done artificially. As a matter of fact this prison could be on an orbital space station around any planet. Maybe it was orbiting Venus?
Seriously, would it kill them to let me know why I was there? Had something happened, had there been a coup or something? Even the old totalitarian states had show trials before the sentence was carried out, but sometimes after an execution I would have to concede.
Every week I am ordered to place my arm into a machine that apparently cleans up my blood. They never tell me what this is about either. Maybe I'm aboard a space station and this is needed to keep me from being poisoned by radiation? All I know the first time I put my arm inside it and it locked, I was shocked, then there was a pain and I had to stand there for twenty minutes while it did its thing.
Now there is a scar on my upper arm where all of this is done. The scar looks like a nipple, I'm not kidding. Maybe they want me to think I would die without it should I escape, although I have never been able to leave the cell. I'm not even sure the cell door could be opened. I had never seen it open come to think of it. Even now, after two years.
All I know is that I tried to rebel once. I refused to place my arm into the machine and a voice came to tell me they would turn off my air if I didn't comply. I scoffed, just before the air vents snapped shut and the sound of a pump could be heard. I became short of breath very quickly. I was alarmed enough to shove my arm into that machine, I can tell you that. Threat of asphyxiation is very scary.
One night I had a bad dream. I dreamed that I was actually on death row and my time for execution was coming up quickly. I woke up with a fever and I was sweating profusely, sick as “a dog” as they say. I passed out for a while, maybe days.
When I woke up I felt fine but there were scars on my abdomen, apparently they had taken out my appendix. My throat was sore, had they also taken out the tonsils? I also noticed there had been dental work. I was less upset by this than pleased at the “free” health-care. I was also perplexed that they would do this for a man imprisoned. Okay, I was definitely not going to be executed after that, was I?
No, I wasn't executed, obviously. How could I tell this story otherwise?
Two years of this. I was close to being out of my mind. Nothing about this was making any sense, it just doesn't jive with the worlds I knew before I woke up here. Nothing could possibly explain this, of course I had no memory of being brought to wherever this is either. I wanted to go home to my little apartment and my little job at the shop, if it were still there.
I was literally going to lose my mind. I remember kicking and punching the “door”, I remember trying to urinate into the slot. Screaming all day until I was hoarse. The next day I sat on the cot and cried all day. I refused food for days and days and I got delirious.
When I opened my eyes I saw blurry images of people hovering over me. They seemed like doctors with blue masks over their faces. I could hear the beeping of machines.
“How much did he ingest?” a voice of a man asked
“Just a drop was released into the air where he was” a woman answered
“Just enough was absorbed to make it dangerous. I hope the courier was arrested for negligence” the man said “But I doubt it”
“I think he might be coming around” the woman said, sounding tired “Hopefully for good this time”
“Hey, Matthew” the man said “Can you hear me? Just listen, in case it happens again, it's not real, none of it is.....”
I blacked out again. I was still in the cell when I woke up from that strange dream. Still in the cell, all I could do is cry again. Please make it go away. Please. If anyone is out there, help me.
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