The Prison of the Mind by Tony Lane

I saw this prompt on the Flash Fiction Friday site and I knew exactly what I wanted to write. I’m not sure if it works but I deliberately left the ending open because I thought that fitted in with the spirit of the prompt.

Prompt: Write a story about a convict and his new found freedom, whether from an escape or parole.
Genre: Crime, though you are welcome to mash genres. Who knows when or where the story’s set.
Word Limit: 1,700
Due Date: Wednesday, April 17th at 9:00 p.m. ET
Instructions: Please post the title of your story and a link to it in the comments of this post.
I was trapped and alone.

I wasn’t on my own, but I was alone. Apart from those around me, all of us stuck in the same hell. The area I was in contained ten of us. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was deliberate. I wondered a lot. There was little else that I could do to maintain what was left of my sanity. Ten fingers, ten toes, a base ten monetary system. Ten seems to be as important in modern society as 1.618 is in nature. I’ve had a lot of time to read, and think. The Golden Ration it is called. Sometimes shown as the Greek letter phi, but you don’t care about that. You haven’t had to sit here looking at the same windowless walls for hours on end broken only by a solitary hour outside to break the monotony. Anyway, I’m digressing again. It is hard to keep a train of thought going sometimes. Some people are called naturally beautiful but what that really means is that their bodily proportions are slightly closer to the perfection that is the golden ratio. When I do get to go outside and squint in to the sun I look for the trees. In my mind I measure the spacing of the leaves along the branches. I marvel at the perfection of it. The simple and irrefutable truth of it.

There were beatings. The rules forbade any kind of physical altercations but people are sneaky and more importantly in this instance people are selfish and aggressively nasty when it comes to defending their own self-proclaimed empire. The psychological warfare and verbal barbs hurt. They made me retreat in to myself. Hide in my own little corner. It wasn’t long before I disappeared inside myself. Found a space where I could escape what was going on around me. Nobody could really hurt me when I was there. I felt no pain. I was dead inside. I spent months, or maybe it was years like that. I didn’t track time. I didn’t mark off a tally. I just hoped that it would end. Every day I just wanted it to end.

It was one day no different from any other that my reverie was broken. My one break from my depressing existence ruined by the jangling of keys and the tuneless humming of a guard that I decided that I’d had enough. I had to get out of there. Time was on my side. I had hours and hours every day to sit and brood. To plot and plan. I couldn’t risk a hasty exit. The humiliation I would feel after be forced back amongst the rest of these soulless drones would be unbearable. I’d finally have to admit that I was one of them. Doomed until the meat grinder finally decided to free me.

I had to do this on my own terms.

In my own way.

I had to escape.

I started to plan. I didn’t trust anybody around me and I certainly didn’t feel safe from the intrusion of the establishment. They had rules that allowed them to search any area of their domain in the name of safety. In that respect I had no rights. I was a faceless number forced in to servitude in the name of improving our society. I didn’t believe it then and with the benefit of hindsight I haven’t changed my mind. From the first day I got there I had to fight their constant attempts to break me down and make me like the rest. That always scared me. I have never wanted to be like the others. I only ever wanted to be me. Unfortunately some poor choices when I was younger left me in a situation that I couldn’t walk away from. At least not for a while.

That is what they thought.

My plan started to take shape. I’d quickly established a solid plan for phase one. That was the easy part though. That only covered getting out and far away. It was phase two that was more problematic and ultimately more important. Where would I go? What would I do? How could I make ends meet and escape the clutches of those I’d be working so hard to avoid? It took me months but I finally had a plan.

I knew exactly what I was going to do.

All I had to do was initiate phase one. So I did.

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