beams flooded his surroundings, inundating him with light so intense, so
brilliant, that it hurt his eyes. Distressed, he raised his hands to his face,
shielding his eyes from the blinding gush of light. With one hand glued to his
face, he extended his free arm and hand forward, grabbing air, warily feeling
his way through his invisible environment. Exploring the unseeable. He did, in
slight, cautious steps.
ring in his ear. Like skidding tires, he thought, distorted and warped,
screeching endlessly. Then, gradually, it lowered in pitch and volume before
evanishing completely. Again and again it assailed him, paining him for a
moment, and then disappearing. A vexing, repeating melody.
could tell because it didn’t hurt his eyes as much as it did before. Carefully,
he peeled his hand away from his face, one finger at a time until he had
removed it all, leaving only his eyelids to cover his eyes. He slowly uncovered
them, and was met with a wall of green. It took his eyes a moment to adjust, to feed him his
surroundings again. A haze of barely visible, albeit clearly green, objects
before him came into view. Before long, his eyes focused. He could see again.
was running to or from what, he ran. As fast as his legs would allow. The feel
of earth beneath his feet, grass cushioning his every step consumed his thoughts.
That and, overwhelmingly, the happiness it brought him. The feeling of hovering
over his worries, of bypassing them. Like a thick cloud of contentment in his
head. Of feeling as though he was a blade of grass, like the ones he was
stepping on, not a care to hinder his enjoyment. Endlessly dancing to the
gentle breeze. He relished it, every second of it. The faster he ran, the happier he got.
holding a doll. It was worn out, its colours had faded, loose strings of thread
protruded from its hem, its exterior battered by what must have been years of
play, toting around, loving.
small pond of mud ahead of him, skipping over it before he turned to look. A
few feet behind him was a girl, chasing after him. Her long, thick locks of
illustrious hair tied back in a ponytail that bounced behind her and,
occasionally, spun around, striking her on the face. He saw her, very visibly,
trying to stifle a laugh, trying to stop herself from bursting into a frenzy of
snickers and giggles. She attempted to look serious, to threaten him into
giving back her cottony friend.
little pools of water, puddles of mud. She matched every maneuver of his, anticipating
his every turn, swerve and jump with the apprehension of someone who had been
through similar kidnappings before. With the apprehension of a lifelong friend.
His tactics had become predictable, easy to foretell and counteract.
turning to run in another direction, only to thrust his body in the
opposite direction a few seconds later.
uses up all his energy, funnels it into one joyous and short dash, and that,
when he drapes his arms on his sides or flails them about, that he had tired
himself; that the calculatedly conservative approach she takes to running him
down would, eventually, prove a better strategy.
distance, emerging from the tree line. For a fleeting moment, everything was
blocked out, his attention drawn solely to the trail of ascending blackness. He
blocked it all, the wind ruffling his hair, the wild, unkempt vegetation, the
wobbly reflection of the sun on the many ponds along his path, the faint whoosh
of leaves rubbing against each other, the buzzing of an all-too-curious bee
that wouldn’t leave his side, the thought of how much he enjoyed his pursuer’s
company, how much he loved her.
muster, shoved him from behind. Letting out a hearty yelp as she did. Not so much
impacting him as forcefully, and surprisingly gently, pouncing on him. He lost
balance and, after a few failed attempts to regain his footing, started to
tumble, falling face first into a stale, still patch of murky water, his face
piercing its undisturbed surface.
the darkness. Into a pit of nothingness. Again, the screeching tires plagued
his mind. It hurt the most this time, feeling like a blunt blade wedged in his
bolting through his mind had ended. In rapid succession, they occupied his
thoughts once more. Every cherished memory, every warm, welcoming smile, every
image of a loved one engrained in his mind. Memories of life-long friendships,
of days spent laughing till it hurt, of lost loves. Every agitation of his
soul. The insufferable screech assaulting him in between each one.
by the ebony of a never-ending emptiness.
His body spat out his blood, as though it was relishing discharging the now contaminated liquid. In short, mighty bursts it would bleed, stop bleeding, and bleed again. As if all the blood in his body had leaked out through the gaping hole and his wound was now fetching the last of his blood from his trembling body to spew. Banishing it. His foot was doused with it, and he left a trail of bloody footsteps in his path. He lay flat on the floor and faced the sky. It was grey and cloudless, bare. Like it had died.
In his right hand, he held a piece of aged wood. Its surface was scratched, engraved by the force of terrified fingernails. A part of a floorboard that it had been pried from. A streak of blood, now a deteriorated, rusty black, smeared across it, running from one far end to the other. The sound of his every move and aching groan echoed through his surroundings, or possibly just through his own head. He couldn’t tell.
He lay shivering, recounting the day’s events. As though if he thought hard enough, he could reverse what had happened. He lamented as his body withered and bled. He painted the empty canvas of the sky before him with his memories. He thought of the girl, her image engrained in his memory. How he’d looked at her, with fear and awe, past the dust and specks of filth that had accumulated on his gas mask.
He remembered how she’d stood there, frozen. Eyeing her next meal. So still that he thought she’d died where she stood. Her hair was wildly growing and unkempt in places, forcibly pulled out in others. Like a map, he thought. It looked like a map detailing, in startling and horrendous clarity, all that had gone wrong with the world, all that had stripped children of their smiles, the fall breeze of its gentle sweetness, the sun of its light. Her teeth, visibly sharpened by manic gritting or vicious grinding against the bones of someone’s living ribcage, were always on display. The children were the fiercest, the most dangerous.
She scowled at him, a contemptuous look upon her scarred face. He looked in her eyes and saw a cloud of bloodthirsty desire. The embodiment of what it is to be inhuman, ruthless. He remembered his gas mask being uncomfortable, as if always had been. Her clothes were bloody, not so much stained as drenched in blood.
Another shock of pain blazed though his body. He howled in pain. His voice shrill, faint now. His wound caught his attention for a second, then the girl occupied his thoughts again. He remembered the pain most of all; the pain of her jabbing her teeth into his thigh, clenching her jaw with all her might. Her nails digging into his back. He pulled out a knife and thrashed blindly at her, turning his head away and covering his eyes with his free arm as he did.
Her dying screams rang in his ear. Like a knife wedged in his head. Guttural cries, soaked in agony and torment. For before they died, pain would engulf them, viciously extinguishing the savage creatures, erasing every trace of their being. Viciously omitting them from existence. The disease was just as ferocious they were.
His mind emptied of everything, all the grief and misery of his world. All his memories melted into a mass that faded away. The unmistakable feeling of death, he thought. He imagined the girl had felt the same. All the memories, thoughts, pain vanished into a corner of his mind until there was nothing. Nothing except the block of wood he’d spent years studying, sought hope, motivation and encouragement from. He thought of how it embodied his will, his power, his purpose in life. He thought of how it had fed his soul hope with unyielding intensity. He thought of how it was his only reason to live. He thought of his unforgivable failure.
With the care of a mother carrying her child, he placed the block on his chest. On his heart. He shut his eyes one last time, and, just as he had for years before, thought of the words etched on the block of wood.
head for quite a while now, I think it’s only appropriate that I articulate what I’ve come to discover.
am by no means a philosopher- but I’ll define it the way I see it. I would
define it as anything that shackles free thought; any deliberate untruth that
changes our perceptions of reality, what we hold to be true. Any dogmatic idea
that causes us to -knowingly or otherwise- act in accordance with others’
interests, and against our own. A prison of mind is one that stops you from
forming coherent thought, forming genuine opinions, unpolluted by pernicious
influence. Most of all, it can be characterized by its causing of great
detriment to the sufferer. All this decidedly constitutes mental imprisonment.
actions and thoughts, because they are controlled by others. It’s a case of
abating of will. And, in that sense, it’s a disease of both the body and mind.
enforced –and imprudently, daringly continue to- on their countrymen, the
similarities become flagrant. Making us think –mendaciously, of course- that
they are both intent on our benefit and are all-powerful and omnipotent, in equal
measure, proved very potent – we kept them in office for decades!
for most every injustice in our world. Thoughts à la “you’re too insignificant to change anything “
and “what difference will you little old you make?” relieve the righteousness
we should rightfully feel. Evil thrives when good men do nothing.
mind imprisonment. Every day we are bombarded with advertising promising us the
illusion of happiness; asserting that if we buy, buy and buy, we will be
complete, happy and content. We’re stuck in a
vicious cycle, endlessly pursuing a facade. Thinking that maybe, just maybe,
it’ll make us happy. It never will. It entrenches us in a culture that
is unimaginably detrimental to us. We find ourselves willingly following the
self-destroying herd, spending every waking moment in a futile pursuit of
foolishly lazing and accepting whatever we are maliciously presented with as
unequivocal truth, for, in the case of dictators, keeling over to the
threatening, seemingly unchangeable –the key word being seemingly- status quo,
for not seeking the true nature of things, we are equally liable.
as very befitting. While sword fighting an amateurish Bruce Wayne, Liam Neeson’s
character, Ducard, roars “Will is everything!” and elaborates with a restrained
“The will to act”. The infamous “open your eyes!” also comes to mind in exactly
the same vein. A pragmatic, objective look at everything we hold to be true is
A prison of mind is the most confining prison of all.
every which direction, inundating the surrounding air with deafening sonance. The
road was wide and busy, stretching on for miles, seemingly endless. The
squadron, threatening as it was, forced other vehicles on the road to swerve
out of its way; veering abruptly to the sides of the road to avoid impact. The
cars traveled in near perfect unison, slicing through the warm, still air of
that summer day. They did so, in pursuit. In unrelenting chase.
different from the rest. One that was attempting, and struggling, to evade
capture. Its driver, no older than twenty, was panting uncontrollably. Frantically
and hurriedly, with the bed of his index finger, he wiped away the pool of
sweat that had collected on his forehead, dripped onto the sides of his face.
worriedly look over his shoulder, tilting his neck to look back, and tilting it
back again, moving so swiftly and suddenly his vertebrae would snap in protest.
vanish into the summer heat. His foot weighting down the acceleration pedal so
forcefully, so mightily that it was as though cement had solidified over it. In
doing so, he squeezed out every last horsepower his fluttering engine had to
give. It purred and hissed, as if apologizing for its less-than-favorable
had never done before. It amazed him that, after beating that way for so long,
it hadn’t degenerated into a trembling, twitching mass, given out on him. Let
him die. Spared him the torturous agony of his existence. It beat so fast it
was as though, if it beat any faster, it would burst out of his body in one
gushing surge of blood. It did, mostly, not for fear of capture, but at the realization
of what he done. The full magnitude of his act struck him, shocked him.
the midpoint of, on one side, the awe of his deed and the bitterness, the
heartache on the other. At times, it would change position. Sporadically, one side
would overpower the other. The thick, wounding smoke of sorrow and the
breathtaking flood of astonishment taking turns consuming his thoughts.
him. Not on this highway. He knew, was certain, that they’d get to him.
captured, even to the drivers of the vehicles trailing him, seemed admirable. After
all, what he had done was, to most people’s sensibilities, entirely
justifiable. Commendable, even. It dawned on them that, put in the same
situation, they would’ve done the same. They’d imagined themselves in his shoes
and decided that it was very unfortunate that they were tasked with running him
down. In fact, given the chance, they would let him be. They pitied him, almost
as much as he pitied himself. One of life’s many injustices, they halfheartedly
materialized. A small town. They had out-driven the highway. It wasn’t endless after all. Gradually, the wide
highway funneled into a narrow patch of road that, soon, gave rise to an even
narrower road. For a moment, a bench far away caught his eye. A woman sitting
atop it, her face buried in a book. He envied her. Her calmness, serenity.
centre of town, trespassing on its peaceful grounds. Their collective bolting
by drew all manner of apprehension from the townspeople. Bystanders, startled,
cringed away at the sound of the traveling fleet, its menacing speed. Havoc.
It gave the lone driver ample opportunity to engage in elaborate maneuvers
along the ever-bending track. With every curve he’d gain distance away from the
cars behind him. With every curve, he’d gain ground. A tiny glimmer of possibility
shone, only to be abated shortly.
away, scurried across the street, chasing after a marble of his that had
rolled out of his reach. Wholly unaware of the approaching cars, their speed,
that they could kill him. In an earnest attempt to avoid driving over the boy,
he steered away from him, as quickly and as acutely as his quivering hands
would allow. The car banked sharply. It flipped, perpetually and of its own
ability, side over side, tossing the driver from his seat to the roof and back
again, his head thrust against the metal roof and frame repeatedly. A thud rang
out every time it did.
clobbered itself and its driver, the car lost momentum, finally resting a
remarkable distance away from the road.
sadness that had crushed his soul, all the tantalizing thoughts of what might
have been, all the pity he had for himself, every morsel of anguish that had
ate away at his being, all the shame and regret, disappeared. Blended into oblivion. Faded to
in reluctance. “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to …”
fight no more