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.


11. Gallows


After he had finished, he just sat there. Tears rolled down his cheeks and splashed the documents he held in his hands, silent tears. Thinking back to all the pain he had been subjected to, the pain he could remember and the pain he could not, he realised he was a broken man. His actions tonight had been an attempt to free himself from the grasp of the Foundation, yet the truth had done nothing but reinforce the hopelessness of his situation.


They had tortured him, beat him, cut him and burnt him, deprived him of sleep and nourishment, then they had stripped him of his identity. Then they had made him forget. That was the worst part of it all. Even after reading the reports, reading what they had done to him, he still had no recollection of any of the terrible things he had experienced. How was he even to know if the report in front of him was genuine, or if it was a further attempt by the Foundation to demoralise and dishearten him? Nothing was real.


When they came for him, he did not struggle. He did not cry out as they dragged him out in the corridor and subjected him to a ferocious beating. The Man was there, it was the first time he had seen the Man in weeks. To his surprise the Man appeared not angry, but sad. There was a distinct sorrowful look upon his face, as if what he was witnessing pained him. The figure on the floor considered this a good thing. He had ruined their sick little experiment and he was glad about it, although he dreaded to think what the consequences would be.


He soon found out. He was taken down into the courtyard where he had once remembered seeing Three being beaten. The other inhabitants were assembled in a line, and he noticed the sheer fear on Marcus' face. This time it would be worse, much worse. The Man solemnly declared that he had been sentenced to death, a sentence that would be carried out promptly at dawn. Death by hanging. Upon instruction, the inhabitants duly began to carry out the construction of the scaffold, but he could see most of them attempting to fight back tears. They would be punished if they showed remorse so he did not blame them but instead directed his hatred towards the vile creature in the pinstripe suit who oversaw the proceedings.


As he was taken back to the Confinement rooms for his final few hours, he glanced up at the night sky. It was pitch black, yet he knew that very soon rays of light would creep over the horizon and illuminate the Foundation. In a few short hours, he would be dead. The thought made him terribly afraid. He had always known it was a possibility, indeed he himself had even attempted to seek a watery grave, but it had never seemed so final and as forced as this. He wanted to die of his own accord, with what little dignity he had left, not butchered like cattle in an abattoir.


Sooner than he would have liked, he was back in a cell. The small barred window embedded high in the wall gave the only indication of the passing of time, time he desperately wanted to stand still. He slumped down against the wall, resigning to his fate. He could feel himself falling asleep but was desperate to stay awake, urging himself to concentrate on his surroundings in an attempt to stay conscious. He could just about make out something small on the floor by the door of the cell. Curiously, he scrambled on his hands and knees towards it, in order to make as little noise as possible. To his surprise, it was a key.


He could scarcely believe it. Surely it must be a trick, why would there be a key, here? Tentatively, he stood and inserted the key into the lock on the door. To his amazement, it fit. He slowly turned the key, knowing that the loud creaking noise would soon attract guards. He waited for a few, tense seconds but no one came. He pushed the door of the cell open and found himself face to face with a guard, albeit one who was slumped in a chair, asleep. Sensing a trap, he looked around for the reinforcements which would surely arrive.


When he saw no one else, he quickly detached the chain of keys from around the waist of the guard and swiftly headed off down the corridor, conscious of the sleeping guard behind him. As he stepped out into the cool night air, he knew that dawn would be fast approaching. Heading round the back of the Foundation, he found it deserted. In the darkness he could just about make out a door in the perimeter wall. As he reached it, he undertook the now familiar process of attempting to find the right key until the door was finally unlocked. So, for a second time, he had escaped the Foundation. There was only one place left to go.


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