Chapter 3: The Prisoner


I. The Nonsensical Ramblings of Sherath (To Himself)

T'was a fine midsummer day in the very apex of August, in a beautiful little town by the seaside. T'was here, where the rain fell gently and told stories, where the wind blew softly and tickled newborns with its gentle caress, where adorable fluffy animals frolicked and giggled, and where everything was happily happy. T'was where the story of a young boy began, a young child, a child gifted in swordsmanship, who always looked to the sky. Little did he know he would be finding his destiny shortly; this child was to be the savior of the land; the boy predestined to be king, blessed by the gods. The rabbits are coming for him, for they are the Resistance.

Now, before anyone throws up, it's not my story at all. I wish this was my story, but alas, I have no hopeful outlook, nor live in a town with fluffy animals "frolicking", least of all rabbits, and am certainly not blessed by anything but the devil. If anything, I'm cursed.

I mean, I'm not saying it couldn't happen. A destiny suddenly popping up and taking me for a ride around the globe, I mean. It's just that it is very difficult to go on a heroic quest to overthrow the evil tyranny and become a kind and gentle king when one ass is so old that it's actually grown into the cell floor for a number of years. (I lost count after the 8th.)

Yeah. Very difficult. Not to mention frustrating. Believe me, it's not like I haven't tried escaping and claiming the throne. I simply cannot get out, not in my present condition anyway. I've been sitting in this same jail for pretty much as long as I can remember.

I'm pretty much a rabbit that's been cemented in cement 100 million times. Wh00t.

I guess I'm not cut out for the whole hero thing. If you notice, the hero always finds a way out. Although, to be fair, all the heroes always have some trusty lock pick or magical artifact or beguiling charm, none of which I possess. And they haven't let their brain and body atrophy like I have.

It's sucks that my thoughts never seem to connect in my mind anymore, they just scatter when I try to piece something together—some daring escape or some way to rebel. Just like rabbits—rabbits with dual personalities, rabbits with carrots. I hardly remember why I went to jail in the first place—well, some days the memory is stronger than others, and this is not one of them because right now rabbits are stuck in my head. Maybe I should start a chant about rabbits. Too bad I can't bang my fists.

Really, all I have in my empty mind for sure is the hate. Mind you, it's a very vague kind of hate. I do it as a kind of hobby, because hating lets me keep a couple scraps of sanity. I just sit in a puddle of hate, and try to remember what exactly it is that I hate. I'm wading in a hate-lake. I'm enclosed in a little hate bubble. Hate sounds kind of like hat, did you realize? Rabbits, NO! Don't leave me!

Oh dear, I think I forgot to pay the mental sanity bill again. Cover your ears.

II. Meanwhile...

Several guards had been having a very relaxing nap just down the hall when they were rudely awoken by a loud toccata coming from a rather small, cramped cell near them.


As the two armored men both jolted awake from their posts, one of them grunted to the other, sleepily, "Here, man. Take this axe, walk into the little dimwit's cell, hack him into three equal pieces, and I'll feed them to my dogs."

"You think I wouldn't like to?" The second guard grumbled, as he rose awkwardly, his armor clanking against the stonewall. "Ned, I don't want your axe—"

The second managed to dodge the axe as it fell from his partner's suddenly limp hand. It hit the stone floor and broke neatly in half, directly where the second guard's foot had been before. Ned, it appeared, had somehow managed to fall back to sleep, even as the screaming from the strange prisoner was intensifying in both ridiculousness and volume.


The guard rolled his eyes from behind his iron mask, and made his way slowly toward the cell at the very end of the block, wincing more as he got closer and his eardrums threatened to explode with all this babble of rabbits. As a new recruit to the prison, he'd been prepared for a glamorous job of attacking prisoners and beating people…but it was so tedious and dull. The most action he ever got was cleaning up a prisoner who'd shat himself or, in this case, shutting up one that had completely lost it. His work never ended, it seemed. He just needed to find out who was making the ruckus and give him a swift punch to the groin.

His bitterness at having to look after the insane men continued to increase as he walked closer and his ears began to throb. Really now, why couldn't they just execute the bat-crazy prisoners? He was going to have to speak to the Warden about this, he thought resentfully as he walked further down the hall. He would have to explain the utter desperation he and the other guards felt about their jobs. Or at the very least he'd have to get the OK for beating up the more annoying ones. What on earth had happened to the good old days of hangings and whippings? He would be extremely polite in his proposal. Mr. Warden, I'm so happy you understand…yes, thank you, sire…

He followed the music (could you call it music?), and then ended his spontaneous conversation with the Warden when he noticed which cell the music was coming from. It was cell #47, where the most mysterious of the prisoners was kept. The most he'd seen of this prisoner was opening the small stone cutout in the door to shove in some scraps of food—in other words, not much. He'd heard from Ned that the prisoner had been in that same cell nigh on 14 years, for reasons that were kept strictly confidential by his superiors—his arrival and crimes were an enigma. No one even knew his name: he was just referred to as "The Prisoner" or "the man in 47".

The guard shrugged. Interesting or not, no singing was ever allowed. Especially not that of this fine caliber. ("RABBITS, RABBITS, COME BAAAAACK!!!")

The guard was aware that he couldn't open the door to this cell in cases other than extreme emergencies, but he thought this constituted as one. The screaming had reached deafening levels, and he could hear some of the other prisoners roaring with rage as they awoke. Because he was exhausted from his many night shifts, the guard fumbled as he took out the key ring from his belt, found the necessary keys, and began to undo all nine locks that guarded the prisoner's door. That was another thing. He'd never in his life heard of even the most dangerous criminals requiring nine locks just to keep them inside. It was just a pain—nine different locks to memorize in addition to those of the 46 other cells.

Without thinking, he forced open the stone door that weighed more than he did, and immediately wished he hadn't—the man's singing of rabbits turned into an intense gargle when he saw the guard, which made the guard's hair stand on end. As he watched with squinted eyes, he saw the young man thrashing about, as though trying to break his tethers, and screaming like a banshee.


Let it end, thought the guard, just shut up! "Forgetting" his training of gentility to the prisoners, he delivered a punishing kick to the man's head with his steel-toed boot. The man abruptly stopped screaming and his head dropped to his chest. His body slackened and went limp. Sweet, sweet serenity.

The guard muttered a prayer of thanks as he stared at the young man unabashedly. His inner soldier, so used to taking orders, told him to leave and close the door—the man was shut up now, and, as it looked, for a couple more days at least, and he had no further cause to be in here. If he refused this order, he knew he would be severely punished. He should turn around, walk out, and shut the door.

But a strange feeling had overtaken him: somehow he couldn't make his legs carry him away from this opportunity. He just stared, transfixed at the mystery that sat unconscious before him. Distantly, the guard felt his legs planting themselves obstinately on the floor. He'd never seen this prisoner before, had he? No, he hadn't…

Hush now, he told himself, What if he starts that dreadful singing again? I'll have to be here.

His motive, according to him, was not discovering the closely guarded secret of the prisoner's identity that had tantalized him for ages. And the fact that he couldn't technically step into the prisoner's cell didn't interest him a bit. (Well, he wasn't allowed to go into anyone's cell, but this was an extra no-enter zone.) Besides, there was no one there, not even Ned the Other Guard, to tell him to stay away and mind his own business. So, he smirked to himself and resolved not to go into the cell, just to gawk at him.

There he stood in the doorway, with the door wide open behind him, watching the man in that customary four-by-four foot cell, with his disgusting mane of grimy hair, which might once have been chestnut-colored, hiding his face. He noticed for the first time the dirty brown rags he'd been dressed in, of worse quality fabric than of the other prisoners he'd seen. He saw too the slow line of drying blood that ran in a rivulet down his matted hair where he'd been kicked. He noted the chains that held his arms at strange angles above his head, and the shackles round his legs connected to the wall. He noted the extreme emaciation: the ankle bones stuck out like rocks from the legs, the hands looked huge in comparison to the twig-like wrists. He'd always known that the prisoners didn't get enough food; that was part of their punishment. However, this man seemed to be a more extreme case of abject misery. (How was he able to eat at all, with his arms chained high above his head like that? Did he really use his feet?)

When the guard looked at him, he actually felt a bit of pity for the first few moments; he could almost forgive the man's being crazy as a dingbat. Incidentally, it quickly disappeared when he remembered the Rabbit Rap from a few minutes ago. No, he was a prisoner just like all the rest, to be treated like all the rest. Really, he ought to be more forceful and aim more kicks to the head if he wanted to take charge at all: make sure the man wouldn't be singing any more for a while. He dutifully raised his boot—and stopped.

Really, what was the hurry? Perhaps…perhaps he could just take a look at his face? For medical purposes, of course. He had to make sure that the man hadn't been too severely hurt from the kick. In fact, that was quite a good explanation—he'd have to use that for later when he was found in the cells of the young female prisoners at late hours.

What would really be the harm? Well, certainly, the Warden expressly forbade it, but who was around to see? Ned was asleep; there were no other guards. The man was obviously suffering, and the guard needed to check him and perhaps ease his misery.

For medical purposes. For medical purposes.

Oh, screw it. Who really was the prisoner in cell 47?

The guard, torn between duty and desire, eventually caved in and walked forward as quietly as one can in metal boots. He'd be the first guard to see who he really was. He could hardly believe it. He gingerly grabbed some of the man's gross hair for a handhold and lifted upwards, tilted back the head, and he prepared himself for something amazing, an amazing face that would be quite a story for the grandchildren. Perhaps it was the legendary vampire that had terrorized the countryside several years ago, What's-His-Face. Maybe even he was that bandit that had harnessed the Black Arts and wiped a whole city off the map! Or was that simply a rumor? He wasn't sure.

He also wasn't sure what exactly he was expecting, but what he actually saw was something of a letdown and a shock combined.

There was no face. There was only a flat plate made of tempered silver completely obscuring his face, with a small rectangular cutout for the mouth, presumably so he could eat. No eyeholes, even: what there was instead were two indentations where they eyes should've been. It was just a plate sitting on his face, tied with a bit of string around his head.

The guard was so surprised he let out a rather unmanly yelp and let go of the man's hair. The head then settled backwards on the neck, as though the man were looking heavenward, the lack of eyes of the cold silver mask staring ever forward like a dead man.

The guard instinctively felt his wrist and found the pulse. The man was really still alive? How? How was the man eating? The captive couldn't even see. He hadn't seen for 14 years. Was it possible? Was it possible that they'd stolen even his identity from him? Was it right? Was it wrong?

Suddenly, the guard felt no more curiosity about this man—something told him he didn't want to see at all beyond that terrible, blank mask. Before he realized it, he had turned on his heel so fast that he nearly slammed his head into the wall in his haste to get out.

What if the same thing would happen to him if he were caught being nosy?

He shuddered as he slammed the door on the man's cell perhaps harder than he needed to, and he muttered an oath when his shaking hands couldn't hold the keys steady enough to relock the door. Now he knew why the Warden had wanted no one to lay eyes on the man.

It was far too disturbing.

All right, I really, really tried. I don't know how good it is, but this is all I can think of. Incidentally it was kind of short. Review if you love me :P