Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday Flash - Free

Teva scraped another line into the tally on her wall. One thousand, one hundred and seventy four scratches marked the small patch of soft chalk in the granite wall. She rocked back onto her heels. The guard would come in ten minutes time.

She hauled herself onto the hard mattress in the corner. A rusted spring squealed in protest. She stretched out on her back. She let her feet hang over the end. A spider scuttled around in the corner. Teva watched it renovate its web.

The battered door swung open. A grizzled man in a dark grey uniform stood in the doorway. He held a carbine rifle across his chest. Flinty eyes glared out from below the peak of his cap.

“It’s time.”

“I know,” said Teva. She swung her legs off the bed and stood up.

“I knew you’d know,” said the guard. “You know too much, that’s your problem.”

Teva knew the way to the grey room but she allowed the guard to lead the way. She followed him down identical grey corridors, her footsteps falling on cracked grey tiles. She wondered what might happen if she rushed the guard. She could try to steal the rifle. She knew she would not. She knew the guard expected that.

A door blocked the end of the corridor. The guard inserted a heavy key into the lock. The door slid to one side.

“Go on then, they’re expecting you,” said the guard. He gestured for Teva to go inside.

“I know they are,” replied Teva. She twisted her face at the guard, a final childish gesture. He gazed at her with disinterest.

Four people sat in the grey room. Men in smart suits occupied three of the four empty chairs on one side of a walnut desk. They all wore black armbands over their jacket sleeves. A man with a shaven head sat on a low stool opposite. A tattoo of a squid clung to his bald skull. Heavy manacles bound his wrists and ankles. He stared at a spot of dirt on the grey floor in front of him.

“Ah, Teva! There you are. Have a seat,” said one of the suited men.

“Now you’re here, we can get started,” said another.

Teva slid into the vacant seat. The three men turned to face the prisoner.

“You have been charged with attempted robbery, attempted murder, actual bodily harm and grand theft auto. You have also applied for parole,” said the third man.

“We’d love to grant you parole, really, we would. But we can’t do that unless we know you’re not going to be a danger to yourself, or others. It would be incredibly irresponsible of us not to make certain, and we don’t like being irresponsible,” said the second man.

“This is where young Teva here comes in. She is going to tell us if you will break your parole. Your freedom depends on her. Do you understand what I’m telling you?” asked the first man.

The prisoner nodded.

“Well then. Teva, it’s over to you.”

Teva looked at the man. She half-closed her eyes, and let her vision drift out of focus. She let her mind break loose of its moorings, and she drifted towards the prisoner. He squirmed when she ran her insubstantial hands over his head. She stroked the stubble. He whined.

Teva remembered herself, and walked her fingers around to his forehead. She brushed the skin above his eyebrows. She saw the world as he saw it. She saw the grey floor, and the walnut desk, through his eyes. She stuck out her astral tongue and flicked it through his aura. He tasted lonely. She detected an aftertaste of remorse and grief.

She opened her eyes, back in her own body. The prisoner looked at her. Sorrow filled his blue eyes. She turned to the three men in suits. They looked at her in expectation. She nodded once. The first man broke into a grin.

“Well, young Sid! This is your lucky day! Teva here doesn’t think you’re going to break your parole, so it is with a great deal of satisfaction that I can call you a free man!”

Another guard stepped into the room and unlocked the manacles. The men in suits burst into a round of applause. Sid looked at them. He hesitated.

“Go on, son! Get out of here before we change our minds!” said the second suited man.

The guard led Sid out of the grey room. Teva heard him sob. Freedom sometimes did that to people.
The suited men stopped laughing. They turned in unison and glared at her. One of the men snapped his fingers and the grizzled guard with the rifle walked into the room.

“Take the lovely Teva back to her room. We don’t want our prize asset wandering around, now, do we?”

The guard grabbed Teva’s arm and hauled her out of her seat. He marched her into the corridor. She glanced out of the window and saw Sid walk out into the yard. The guard would take him across the yard to the other side of the prison where he would be processed and released. For now, Sid simply tipped back his head to the sky. Sunlight caressed his face.

Teva turned her face to the shadows in the corridor. She ducked into her small cell and lay down on the mattress. The spider still scampered about in its web. Teva envied its freedom to create. She sighed. She still had one gift for mankind.

She would remain imprisoned so that others might go free.

28 comments:

rexscribarum said...

Good story, Icy. Quite sad. I'm glad to have come across your site, and I'll stop back again for more #fridayflash.

--Travis

Jen Brubacher said...

Oh, Teva. :( Sometimes it's not so great to do the right thing.

I loved the idea of the spider "renovating its web."

afullnessinbrevity said...

Such a melancholic tale, and very altruistic in a sense. Such an irony that the imprisonment of one benefits the many. Love the colouring that sets the tone of the piece. Quite beautiful and moving.
Adam B

Sulci Collective said...

really nice idea in this story. Nice juxtaposition of her eternal confinement with her power to liberate others. And in some ways, the random nature of the justice system itself, the thumbs up or down of a child no different to that of the Roman Emperor at a gladiator fight.

Marc Nash

Carrie said...

Nice tight story here. You managed to hook, punctuate and satisfy readers in one little bit. Magic. Love this.

Laurita said...

Very nice. Loved your descriptions.

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, quite a wonderful idea you employed in this story. Sacrifice so others might be free. Bit religious, that, eh?

Loved it all!

G.P. Ching said...

Such an original concept. Sad that she doesn't get the freedom she doles out. Well written, Icy.

That Neil Guy said...

Wow. I really liked that. Nice job!

Maria A. Kelly said...

Dark and sort of sad, too. Poor Teva. Loved the way you described the experience of her invading Sid's mind. Very powerful.

theothersideofdeanna said...

Icy, I love how the spider renovating its web plays into the theme here. She's trapped, the spider's trapped, always rebuilding, always wishing.
Beautifully told, poignant story.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm glad everyone's been enjoying this tale. It was actually inspired by one of those dull police procedural dramas, where someone was at a parole hearing! And maybe I feel trapped by my job, I don't know. Just glad it's struck a chord.

pegjet said...

So selfless. Teva is a great character. This could go places.

Laura Eno said...

Love the ironies in this. She who did nothing but have a gift, is imprisoned while speaking for criminals that they might go free. Awesome job.

Gracie said...

This is a great tale, Icy. Perfect balance and tension. I so want Teva to be free, too.

Love this one.

vandamir said...

Excellent story & imagery. Teva's imprisonment is more unjust than that of the prisoners she is releasing into freedom - I doubt her captors realize her sacrifice, though she does.

John Wiswell said...

Quite a position to be locked in. How would you handle such a lock-and-key martyrdom?

Jason Coggins said...

I envy your ability to drop sharp crisp sentences. Teva's tale is no exception. Your stories and style always leave me humbled. Catch ya next week.

Alan W. Davidson said...

I really enjoyed that, Icy. Quite an ironic tale of freedom and confinement. And spiders.

daniellelapaglia said...

I loved it, Icy. An incredibly sad tale, but at least she can find purpose in the freedom she grants others, even though she'll never have it herself.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm glad almost everyone has enjoyed this tale. The troll I appeared to have picked up clearly didn't but he obviously doesn't understand the point of writing fiction to entertain so I have blocked his comments.

AidanF said...

This reminded me of the California parole board to require the governor's office signature on all freed convicts and therefore very few convicts even if they have the support of the parole board go free because the governor ends up being careful because any released prisoner might cause a future disgrace if they become a recidivist. I worried that Teva might be conservative in the same way but I was glad to see that she was true to her vision; however, does end sadly.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Oh I didn't know they did that in California! Hm. On one hand I can see that people would be a lot more careful about who was granted parole, but on the other hand, it seems a somewhat draconian way to go about things.

Linda said...

Fascinating premise. Loved the astral tongue. A true sooth sayer, and deftly written. Peace...

Bukowski's Basement said...

Icy, loved how you took that police procedural and turned it into one of your signature dark tales. Loved Teva as well...

Eric J. Krause said...

Good story! Quite a sad, lonely, dark life for her. I wonder how long it'll be before she starts to grant parole to those who don't deserve it...

melissalwebb said...

So sad. People will always use those who can benefit them. Great story.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Not fair doesn't even begin to describe poor Teva's lot in life.
Nice story, though, Icy. Your imagination runneth over.

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