The human mind will turn on itself after long periods of solitary confinement.
Jason found this out the hard way.
Things had been getting so bad lately that he couldn't tell if the giant drumstick leaning against the wall, softly calling his name, was real or not. He couldn't get the courage to crawl over to it and find out, knowing that if it was another hallucination he wouldn't be able to stand the overwhelming misery that would follow.
So he sat with his arms wrapped around his knees, watching it.
It damn sure was a good hallucination. Curls of steam rose from it and if he took deep breaths, his mouth watered at the delicious aroma. He tried to put his head down beneath his arms, out of sight out of mind, but every few minutes he would catch himself stealing peeks at the huge piece of chicken.
"Screw this," Jason finally hissed, his stomach cramping.
He crawled towards the chicken, his mind on nothing else but what the meat would taste like. He had never been a dark meat eater before, enjoying the white meat of the chicken breast, but he didn't give a damn anymore. He would eat a dead, bloated rat if there was one in his tiny prison cell.
Twice he had to stop and rest as his arms gave out and he fell, face forward into the stone floor. Yet each time the thought of food gave him enough energy to ignore the pain and go forward. With only a few feet left a new smell was entwined with the fried chicken but he was concentrating so hard he didn't notice.
"Oh God, thank you. Thank you," Jason whispered tears dripping from his eyes. He had made it.
Grinning he did the only thing he could think of. He lowered his head and ripped off a nice chunk of the drumstick, savoring the juices that ran down the back of his dried throat. If this was a hallucination, he didn't care. Taking another bite, he realized for some reason, the chicken was getting a little tougher.
It doesn't matter, Jase. It's food isn't it? the rational part of his mind whispered.
Jason nodded eagerly. Who cares it was a little hard to chew? So he kept eating, ignoring the signals in the back of his mind that were screaming at him to stop. It wasn't until his stomach was starting to hurt from being so full, that he first tasted something bad. Maybe the chicken was rancid. After all how long had it been in the room with him?
Even when he was in pain from over stuffing himself, Jason ate more, knowing any second the chicken would be gone, maybe forever this time. A sweet rotten aroma suddenly assaulted his nose causing him to lean away while he chewed a particularly hard bite. He wiped some of the juice of his chin. When he pulled his hand away it was covered with red streaks, confusing him. Wasn't cooked chicken supposed to have clear juice?
Don't look Jase. You know what it is already. Do us a favor and don't look.
As much as he tried to follow the advice Jason couldn't help himself. Looking up from the back of his hand, he saw that the half eaten gigantic drumstick was gone. Gone was the delicious aroma, replaced with the smell of road kill that had been laying on the street in hundred degree weather for days. Instead was the body of his cell mate.
"Stu?" Jason whispered.
But he realized his cell mate was not going to answer. His throat was gone, his head hanging on by the spinal cord which had been licked clean. Horrified, Jason started scooting backwards his eyes glued to Stu's body. Even when his back hit the wall he tried to keep going. His stomach jerked violently at the realization of what the two missing legs, gnawed on arm bones, and the split open stomach of his cell mate meant.
How could he have forgotten about Stu? Jason started weeping softly rocking himself. The tremendous guilt and disgust stayed with him for two days. He never once glanced in the corner where Stu's body lay, but the images of the grisly remains stayed with him constantly. The only time he moved was to crawl over and drink from the toilet.
By the third night since finding out he had gorged himself on Stu, Jason began to feel better.
In fact the next morning the guilt was gone. After all he had only done what he needed to do to survive, nothing else. What else was he supposed to do?
Finally on the fifth day, a familiar smell filtered through the cell. Glancing up, Jason saw a t-bone steak the size of a large dog leaning against the corner. For over five hours he kept himself from looking at it. He knew it couldn't be real, yet the delicious aroma soon overwhelmed him. He weakly crawled over and started gnawing on the steak.
By the time Jason was finished, there wasn't anything left but a bone.