Historical Fiction Crime Fiction


  With a twist of a key and then a tug on the handle, the heavy steel door to cell number seven swung open with a groan and a creak. In a gruff voice, the Guard said, "Prisoner number one nine seven four one, you may enter your assigned cell now!"

 I stood there holding all my worldly possessions in my arms, looking into the narrow room that was to be my home for the next ten years. I thought to myself that the bathroom of my former home had been bigger than this.

 Suddenly I felt the Guard's hands on my back, and he sent me stumbling into the tiny cell with a mighty push. Grabbing onto the small table bolted to the wall to keep from falling, I heard the Guard snarl. "Stupid Inmate, we don't repeat ourselves around here to Scum like you! Pay attention when we speak! Or you will quickly learn to regret it! For the next ten years, your ass is mine, and I don't mind cutting some of it off if you mess with me!" He slammed the door with a great clang, and I could hear his steps on the hard floor as he headed down the hall.

  I stood there looking around the small room. It was about ten feet long by about five feet wide. There were no windows or any way for me to see out of the cell. Dim illumination was provided by a small light set into the ceiling that was never turned off. The back wall held a combination lavatory, toilet, and water fountain. A shower head protruded from a wall beside it. Along one wall was a bed of sorts made out of poured concrete. A small table was located at the bottom of the bed so that you could sit on the end of the bed and use it. A steel shelf was located along the opposite wall about shoulder height. Looking around again, this I thought is to be my whole world.

  I thought back to what had landed me here. I was at one time a successful writer of children's books. If I had confined my writing to that, I would not be here today. Alas, the new Government had come into power, and like a fool, I couldn't keep my mouth shut about the things that they started doing. Limiting citizen's rights, abusing the ones that dared to disagree with them.

 As the town's most published Author, I was asked to write an opinion for a local newspaper. I suppose my choice of words had angered those in power because early one morning before sunrise, Police had broken into my home and dragged my wife and me from our bed and down to the local police station.

  I was held there for weeks before being dragged before a judge and sentenced to ten years solitary confinement for inciting sedition and treason against the Government. The judge stated that I was allowed no defense because my actions were indefensible. He said that I was to be imprisoned in such a manner that my voice and opinions wouldn't be able to influence other citizens against the State. Told that my wife had been taken to a reeducation camp, I was sentenced and taken away and driven here all within six hours. The here was the central State Prison for Dangerous Criminals. And here I was to be for the next ten years.

  I was awakened from my thoughts by the clanking of the small metal flap that was set into the cell door being dropped, and a tray was shoved through. I reached forward and took it. The flap clanged shut. I looked down at the tray and saw that there was one slice of bread and about two spoonfuls of beans on it and a worn metal spoon.

  I sat it on the table and sat down and began to eat. It was a good thing that I didn't delay for about ten minutes later, the flap dropped again, and a voice simply said, "Tray." I handed the tray and spoon out the hole, and the flap clanged shut again.

 It was quiet now I had no way to tell time. I didn't know if I had just had lunch, dinner, or maybe breakfast. I called out to anyone in one of the cells next to mine and received no response. I crawled on my bed and pulled the thin blanket up, and fell asleep. I awoke to the sound of the metal flap being dropped again. I took a moment to wake up and get off the bed. I must have taken too long because just before I could reach it, the tray disappeared, and the flap clanged shut. I shouted at the door, "Wait! I'm here!" A voice from the other side of the door replied, "We don't wait on Scum like you! Be ready to take your meal or go hungry!" Then I could hear steps going down the hall.

  And so it went day after day, month after month. I screamed, and no one heard, I cried, and no one saw. I was totally alone with only myself for company. I begged whoever brought my food to talk to me. Talk to me about anything at all. I was met by silence except for the single word, "Tray."

  I saw no one and spoke to no one. After the first month, the flap opened one day, and a book was hurled in. It struck the toilet and landed with a thud on the floor. I picked it up to find it was a copy of the Party Leaders Book Titled, "My Struggle." I was happy beyond words. Anything to stop my constant living within my head. This was, I thought, something to do, something, to sharpen my now dull mind and senses. This, I thought, might be some kind of reward for being a quiet prisoner. I was overjoyed. 

  I picked up the book and started to read. The words leaped off of the paper, and I found myself lost in the scenes described sometimes poorly by the Author. I sat up reading for two days straight the first day, I didn't even stop to take the offered tray of beans.

   Months must have passed because I remembered that it had been warm when I had entered the cell, and now the air was growing colder. Every day was exactly like the day before. Each day the flap was dropped three times to shove in the tray and then three times for me to hand the tray back. The food and the tray remained the same each time. I read and reread the book at least a thousand times if truth be known; I had the thing pretty much memorized.

  One day shortly after I had handed my tray back for the second time, it must have been mid-winter because I was shaking from the unrelenting cold in the cell, the flap dropped, and a clean uniform was shoved in and fell on the floor. A voice from the other side of the door shouted, "Change clothes, you filthy animal." I stripped off the clothes I had been wearing since I came into the prison and put on the clean clothes. I pushed the dirty ones out the hole in the door, and the flap clanged shut. The new clothes were at least a little thicker but didn't do much to offer any additional warmth. I continued to shiver from the cold.

  It seemed like only a few days later but could have been a month. I couldn't really tell. The flap dropped again, and this time a voice said, "Book!" No, I thought, please don't take the only thing I have to keep me company! I went into a panic. I held the book protectively to my chest and said, no, I'm not finished with it yet! The flap closed, and I could hear the steps retreating down the hallway.

  A few minutes later, I heard the sound of many steps coming up the hall. Suddenly my cell door was thrown open with a great crash, and four Guards rushed into the room. They started to beat me with rubber hoses, and I curled up in a ball on my bed, and they continued to beat me. One of the Guards stopped beating me and proceeded to throw all my meager belongings out the door into the hall. They took everything until I was just down to the clothes I was wearing, and then they took them too. One of the Guards stood over me and poked me with his rubber hose until I looked up at him. He was holding the book. He started to rip the pages out in great clumps until they were all lying on the floor in the hallway, and then he ripped the book covers in two and threw them out into the hallway as well. He struck me across my legs with the rubber hose and said, "Scum, when we ask for something, even your pathetic life, you had better give it to us. We went easy on you today. It won't happen again!": he stepped out of the cell and slammed the door behind him.

  I lay there shivering and bruised on the bed for what must have been sometime until I heard the flap drop. I reached forward and took the tray to find this time, and there was only a slice of bread on it. This went on for the next five days, and during this time, I was so cold that I would have cheerfully killed myself if I could have figured out a way to do it.

  At some point, I really couldn't say when because now I had totally lost track of time. A new set of clothes was pushed in my cell, and a day or so later, the flap opened, and a book dropped to the floor. To my surprise, I found it to be of my books. One that I had written early on, I could see that it was in like-new condition. As I picked it up, a pen dropped onto the floor beside the book. From the other side of the door, I heard a voice say, "Sign." I picked up the book and pen and placing it on the table in a shaky hand I wrote, "Best wishes" and then I signed my name. I handed the book and pen back, and then the flap clanged shut. What a curious occurrence, I thought.

 A few moments the flap dropped again, and this time, another book fell to the floor. I picked it up to find it was a book of eighteenth-century poetry. The flap clanged shut, and again, I was overjoyed to have something to read again.

  I noticed the weather was getting warmer again. I no longer shivered at night. I was sitting on my bed rereading the poetry book for what must have been the one-thousandth time when the flap in the door suddenly dropped again, and the tray poked through. I took it, and this time to my amazement, along with the bread and beans, there was a small piece of sausage on the tray. A voice from the other side of the door said, "Congratulations, you have been here one year today. No one in this cell has ever lived that long. Only nine more years to go."

The End?

March 06, 2021 05:14

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00:30 Mar 18, 2021

Great story, I really enjoyed it, although a little sad, as I don't think I could last without some to talk to. Well written, and truly believable!!


Bill Humphrey
03:19 Mar 19, 2021

Thanks for the kind words. I am glad that you enjoyed my little story. I am a retired Jailer so much of the story is based on personal observations of people serving time in solitary confinement. I think one of the worst punishments that a person can suffer is to be left totally alone with only one's self for company. I like your writing style as well.


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