My Fellow Prisoners

         I looked around at my fellow prisoners.  They were a motley group; some robotic, some human.  As a group they shared a common quality.  They were all bedgragled, unkempt, as if fresh out of a storm.  Some were confused, some angry.  Some were still fresh from their kidnapping.  Others, like me, had been here years.  We were all innocent of course.  Of certain crimes we were guilty, but of this never.  No one was.  That didn't matter to our jailors though.  They grabbed us at will.  We all came from the same place.  Not the same time certainly but the same place.  The primitives didn't last long, the classics scarecly more.  Only the moderns could stand this type of captivity for long.  It was the robotics that did it I think.  The early travelers just couldn't comprehend the idea of sentient machines.  Why that should affect their survival rate I wasn't quite sure.  It probably had something to do with the close quarters.  It was hard to maintain your courage when you saw a robot cringe in fear, or cower in terror of the jailors.  That and the walls.  The walls were difficult even for me.  No one would sit next to them.  They forced us all into the center of the room.  And so we sat, or stood, huddled together.  We huddled together for warmth as much as companionship.  We talked, or didn't.  Some had stories to tell, some just listened.  Today, as always I sat next to Herman.  Herman was a synthetic from the future.  My future anyway.  His present.  God only knew when we were now.  Herman beleived in God.  It struck me as strange that a gussied up robot should beleive in a higher power who had control over his eternal soul.  But who was I to judge.  We had both wound up in the same spot.  Herman had hope.  I didn't, that was the difference.  When the jailors had brought him back in he had whispered something about God working in mysterious ways.  I didn't beleive in God myself.  He hadn't done much for me lately. 
 I was loathe to talk to the newcomers.  So many of them didn't make it.  Herman felt the same although sometimes he would share his food with them; which of course made me share my food with him.  And so we sat as we so often did and talked about God or the lack thereof, philosophy, and theories of life.  Herman had this weird idea about life being like a river.  He said that if you went with the flow of life it took you where supposed to be but if you fought it you wound up on the side stuck in a whirlpool.  I asked him if this was where he was supposed to be and he replied, "maybe you are my mission."  "Crappy mission;" I replied.
 Then one day the jailors brought him back broken and bleeding.  They threw him on the floor and he didn't move, he barely breathed.  I bandaged his wounds as best I could and tried to share my body heat knowing it wasn't enough.  The group edged away from us.  They gave me sullen stares when they bothered to meet my eyes at all.  I knew the look they gave us.  They thought Herman was already dead and wondered why I bothered with him.  I had given others that same look.  In the morning Herman was gone.  The jailors came for me that afternoon and when they released me to the cell his body was gone.  Now I was alone in a very real way.  Alone despite the crowd I shared a room with.  I had gotten to know none of them I realised, because I had assumed they would all be gone soon.
 As the days passed my anger grew.  I was angry at my fellow prisoners for shunning me just because I had shunned them.  Had they no mercy?  I was angry at myself for being caught and brought here.  I was angry at the jailors who had cut short so many lives.  I was angry at Herman for dieing and leaving me here alone.  And I was angry at this supposed God for not intervening and stopping this whole nightmare.  I refused to eat, throwing my food at my fellows in my anger.  I shivered at night because I had no one to share body heat with.  I grew weaker and weaker.  I knew this was a mistake.  I had seen others leave this place the same way but I couldn't stop.  The jailors came for me soon after that.  They asked the questions they had always asked.  The questions that made no sense.  The questions that had no answer.  They were merciless then as if they sensed my weakness.  When they finally dragged me back to my cell and tossed me inside I lay there unable to move.  I sensed rather than saw my fellow prisoners move away from me.  That night I lay sobbing.  "Why...why...why me?"  I kept mumbling over and over.  My body had grown cold as it lay against the ground.  I could feel my life flowing from me in slow rivers from cuts in my chest, arms, and legs.  I knew it wouldn't be long now.  Maybe I'd be gone in the morning like Herman.  Maybe I'd finally be free of this place.  I cried.  And when I could cry no longer; when my tears were at an end; I prayed.  I prayed to Herman's God because I knew no other.  I asked for mercy, I asked for an end to pain.  I prayed, in  my misery to a God I had always hated, always turned my back on, becuase I knew, I knew from my childhood, that he did exist.  And if he did exist then he could help me here where no other could.

On March 4th, 1976 when Mark Simms was released from 5 years solitary confinment for a murder he did not commit he asked where his fellow prisoners were.  Upon being told that he had been alone the whole time he broke down in tears.


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coby
Short Story
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writing coby
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Synopsis
A short about a prisoner and his soul searching
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