The Man who was Drowned

A man escapes from the mysterious Foundation and seeks solace amongst the waves. Recaptured and placed under confinement, he has little way of finding the answers he so desperately seeks. Why is he here? What is the Foundation? And most importantly, what is his name? Subject to forces beyond his control and seemingly helpless, there appears no end in sight.

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3. Anonymous

 

At least the cell had a toilet. That was perhaps the only comfort that could be identified in the cell, which could easily have looked the same a few hundred years ago when the nuns came here to pray. After being manhandled through the small door, the thugs had forced him to his feet and shoved him forward, expecting him to move at a pace that was incompatible with the injuries he had sustained. As he slowed, they became more violent and aggressive to the point when one of them started to shout at him. It did not matter to him which one of them it was, as far as he was concerned they were identical in almost every possible way. Anonymity again. How can a person be held accountable for a crime when there are twenty other people it could have plausibly been? He understood the logic and it made him furious, to the point where he considered lashing out but decided against it. As they reached the end of the corridor, a left turn brought them into another, one which contained six doors leading to six cells. One of the guards produced a chain of keys from his pocket and unlocked the first door. He noted the size and shape of the key as the bundle of keys was thrust back into the guard's pocket. Every detail might be of use.

 

“You, in.” The guard grunted. The worst thing he could have done was to reply. “I have a name.” he uttered, instantly regretting it. The pair of them shoved him into the cell and began to kick him with their iron capped boots, each of the blows adding to the agony that the lashes and the journey had so far put him through. Just as he thought he could take it no more, the kicking stopped. The two of them stood there looking satisfied with their work and swiftly exited the cell, locking the door behind them. He realised his actions may have been doubly foolish. Whilst receiving a beating was bad enough, if either of the guards thought to inform their employer about what he had just said then they would realise that all the work that had been put into making him an obedient inhabitant had been wasted. He would need to be re-conditioned, and he dreaded to think what that would entail. For him, the past was full of pain. It looked increasingly likely that the future would be depressingly similar. Perhaps he would be punished in front of the others for attempting to escape, as Three was. Perhaps it would go further than that this time. Perhaps there would be collective punishment.

 

Unleashing pain upon the anonymous collective. What a statement that would be. You no longer have any individual authority over yourselves, you are one, and one that is completely answerable to us. In reality that had happened a long time ago, the process would merely be a formality. He thought of them now, the other inhabitants. He had always thought that the way of life in the Foundation was unnecessarily harsh, yet he found himself wishing he was in the same situation that the others found themselves in. The manual labour they were subjected to could be hard, and there was little opportunity to converse with one another, however they were guaranteed three meals a day, a hot shower and somewhere comfortable to sleep. In comparison to this, it was heaven. No, he decided, they were not going to be punished. Otherwise, they would be down here with him. He looked down at his body, attempting to assess the damage caused by the events of the previous few hours. The lashes had left long cuts down the front of his body, and he knew from the stinging pain that there were similar bruises on his back. More serious was the gash on his arm that could only have come from his skin being cut open on a rock as he was dragged from the shore through the forest. If it didn't get medical attention it would perhaps get infected and he would become seriously ill.

 

Looking around his cell, he wondered how long he would be left here in isolation before someone came for him with food or medical aid. Perhaps they never would, perhaps his punishment would be being confined down here until he perished. There were 16 inhabitants currently, he knew. He could not remember how many there had been initially, yet he was fairly sure the original Three was no longer with them. Or perhaps he was, the inhabitants rarely got time to talk. He glanced down at his body once more and saw that bruises were quickly starting to emerge from the kicking he had got from the guards. As he pulled himself up against the hard, cold stone wall he could feel a wave of vomit rising up his throat. He attempted to stumble to the toilet, which appeared as old and disgusting as the rest of the cell, but was unable to make it that far. As he stumbled and threw up on the floor, he noticed that the vomit was mixture of blood and salt water. He spat to get rid of the taste but it made no difference. How he longed to be back in the sea, with the waves crashing over him and nature ready to embrace him as her own. Instead he was condemned to die here.  

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