Author : Joachim Heijndermans

The floor is so damn cold. I wish they’d turn the heat up or at least let me keep my socks and shoes. What are these floors made of? Some kind of metal, maybe?

For a single person cell, it’s way too big. You could fit a Firebird model jet in here. Why give me all this space, and then restrict me with a forcefield? And dark too. I can barely see two feet in front of me.

A new guard walks in. The first one throws him a salute. Bigwig, probably. Stern looking guy too. Not a hair on his head, but the heavy shadows fall over him like a thick coat of black, so I’m not gonna be blinded by light reflected from that cueball of his.

“The Prisoner will stand!” he yells out. S’got a course voice. Like he either smoked too many Thunder-hearts in his day, or he once dangled from a rope at some point. I’ve seen it before, back in the Tel-K facility. I wonder what he meant by ‘will stand’. I already was.

“You are onboard the prison vessel ‘Corinthian’. I will be your warden for this delivery. You will not learn my name. You will not learn where you will be taken to until we make the drop-off. You will be silent during the voyage. Is that understood?” he shouts.

I nod to him, but he doesn’t respond. Doesn’t even give me a nod back or anything. He’s just standing there, like a statue wrapped in leather and velcro belts.

“You will not cause a disturbance. You will not complain. You will not speak. Abide by these simple rules, and you will be fed regularly. If you do not, I will watch you starve with an honest-to-God smile on my face. Am I understood?” he roars out, like a hungry bulldog.

Again, I just nod. I’ve been around the block enough times. Seen my fair share of dark hell holes that they call prisons, and even nastier wardens that go with them. I’ll play his game, though I still don’t know what I did to end up in this place. Or why I was in Tel-K. Sure, I’ve robbed banks. I’ve swiped an identity here or there. But why am I treated like a grade-6 terrorist?

“As you can see,” the warden continues, “the floor is set to go live. Ten billion volts. I presume I don’t need to tell you how much that hurts? So step out of line, or agitate me in any way, and I will fry you. Am I understood?”

I nod. He nods back, then waves his finger at the other guard. Around me, there’s a light flicker of blue light. They dropped the forcefield around me.

“The prisoner is free to eat. Dismissed!” the warden snaps. He then walks away. Where’s he going? And where’s my dinner?

“Uhm, warden? ‘Scuse me,” I mutter. “I mean no disrespect, sir, but you didn’t leave any food for me. What am I supposed to eat?”

He doesn’t turn around. He clears his throat and says; “The food is not to speak.”

I want to ask what he meant by that when I hear a soft clicking noise. It’s coming from the dark. Something slithers around me. I can just see it, out of the corner of my eye.

Hot air grazes my neck, as my cellmate breathes in and out. A drop of spittle hits my skin and runs down my back.