The Thinker

He gets his feet under him and pushes against the curving wall at his back. His thighs ache but if he doesn’t push he slides down into the dank fluid held in the cupped centre of the cell. That stinking fluid eats at his clothes and makes his skin itch.

He looks up at the hole. The walls curve upwards until they overhang the rest of the cell - all that is left is that bright hole. It is too high to reach, and the smooth wall is not climbable. What need for bars?

Don’t think of the ache, don’t think of the smell, don’t think of the hunger.

He shifts his position, grimacing as his thigh muscles protest.

Don’t think? What a joke.

His stomach growls. He hopes for a food drop.

The last drop caught him dozing and the food had fallen into the pool. No way he was going to eat anything that had fallen into that shit. He was ready for the next drop.

They won’t beat me.

But they are unpredictable. The constant pushing and gripping while waiting for the sudden shadow at the hole takes all the concentration and strength he has. He needs the next food drop.

Food. Don’t think about food. Don’t think of meat: don’t think of rare steaks with the meat sizzling and the blood oozing. Don’t think of cakes: don’t think of cakes with thick double cream in the middle and dark flaking chocolate on the top. Don’t think of bread: a large crusty loaf, still warm from the oven, smothered in fresh thick melting butter so that you have to lick your fingers. Don’t think of fruit: don’t think of a cold crisp apple, the juice spurting into your mouth as your teeth crunch into the white flesh. Don’t think of chicken: don’t think of a roast chicken, brown and crispy on the outside, white and succulent on the inside, the carving knife slicing the meat with ease. Don’t think of gorging yourself so that your stomach is bloated, tight as a drum skin and painful if you move.

He slips, throws his hands out behind him to get some extra grip on the curved surface. He arrests the slide a foot or so from the pool. He shuffles back up the wall, his back arched, like some strange four legged spider. He squats, with his feet under his buttocks, trying to find a balance that requires the least amount of effort to hold his position. He knows that it is useless.

Somebody starts shouting. The sound is full of echoes and reverberations. He imagines the somebody hurling sound at the bright hole above: that bright eye, watching impassively, never blinking. He imagines the somebody sitting up to his waist in the pool at the bottom of his cell, too weak to climb out, too weak to care that the pool is dissolving the flesh off his bones.

At first it is difficult to know if the person shouting is speaking English or is even human. As he listens to the echoes, much to his surprise, he begins to understand the odd phrase. Out of context the words are meaningless, yet, somehow disturbing.

“...shameless parasites...”

“ lightbulb death...”

“...feed your soulessness...”

“ flesh...”

The someone falls silent. The near incomprehensible sounds were a comfort: he knew he was not the only one imprisoned. The sounds offered a distraction from the pain and the hunger.

Although, the silence brings its own comfort.

In the silence you have time to think.


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