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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4. Pain

 

 

All of a sudden he heard the unmistakeable sound of footsteps echoing down the corridor, initially faint but getting increasingly louder as they approached. Perhaps these footsteps would bring with them more relief than the footsteps that had found him on the beach. As they approached he realised that it was not one set of footsteps, but two. Perhaps it was the guards coming back to give him a second beating. They were getting closer now. All of a sudden, the footsteps stopped. He could hear heavy breathing outside of his door as a key was inserted in the lock and the door opened.

 

To his astonishment, Marcus was standing there, carrying a tray that contained both food and what appeared to be a first aid kit. Behind him stood one of the guards from earlier, standing menacingly with his hands firmly grasped on the keys. He could not tell whether it was the guard that had shouted at him. Marcus approached him slowly and knelt beside him. Marcus passed him the plate of food and he eagerly started to devour it. He couldn't quite picture what that they had had for yesterday's dinner although he hazarded a guess that he was eating the leftovers. Once he had finished, Marcus, still silent, reached out for his arm. He took a bandage out of the kit and began to gently wind it round the wound, his tense demeanour betraying how nervous he was of the guard who was hovering in the background. As he finished, he bent in close and whispered, 'Sorry.'

 

“Marcus... wait...” his feeble voice struggled to make an audible sound but as Marcus stood up, he knew he had heard him. To his dismay, the look on Marcus' face was not one of recognition but one of confusion and one that showed fear. Marcus slowly put a finger to his lips then glanced around at the guard. “What's he saying?” The gruff voice was different from the voice that had shouted earlier, the figure on the floor decided. Perhaps he would be more understanding. Marcus replied timidly, “It seems like he's got a fever, he's acting delusional.” The guard edged into the cell and peered over at the body sprawled on the floor. “Marcus, you have to remember your name...” the sentence spilled out of his mouth before he could stop himself and the guard gave him a mighty kick in the stomach. “Names? What are names?” The guard shouted as he repeatedly lashed out with his foot. Yes, definitely a different voice.

 

As he lay there and began to cough up a mixture of blood and phlegm, the verbal assault continued. “Do you think that you, are worthy of a name? You're a pathetic little piece of dirt, do you hear me? You're worth less than something that has been stuck to the bottom of my shoe!” The guard was getting increasingly frustrated as he just lay there, taking the beatings but remaining silent. Something had changed within him, and they were not going to beat the defiance out of him, not this time. He slowly turned his head and looked the guard directly in the eye. He spat blood in his general direction and uttered the words “Everyone is worthy of a name.” This incensed the guard, who began to scream an incomprehensible torrent of abuse directly into his face, showering him with spit. Marcus just stood there as the guard grabbed the figure off the floor and dragged him towards the toilet. The guard, still yelling insults thrust his head down into the toilet bowl and he was treated to the rank taste of toilet water infused with piss and festering excrement. He could feel the vomit rising up his throat and was very aware that he was about to choke to death.

 

All of a sudden, he could breathe again. As he repeatedly projectiled vomit on the floor around him he became aware that the guard had Marcus by his neck and was repeatedly smashing his fist into Marcus' face. It took a few seconds for his disorganised brain to connect the dots. Marcus had evidently attempted to drag the guard away from the toilet and was now being subjected to the same beating that he himself had been accustomed to. As he lay there on the floor, retching the contents of his stomach up and momentarily forgotten, he wondered where the Man was. He had known the director of the Foundation could be cruel but this surpassed even his expectations, could he have sanctioned this? Whatever happened next, it could not be as bad as this. As he glanced up he spotted a lifeline. Lying on the floor just under a metre in front of him, forgotten in the brutality of recent moments, was the chain of keys, which had evidently fallen out of the guard's pocket. As Marcus cried out in pain, he hoped that it would distract the guard as long as it would take to locate and identify the key to his cell.

 

As he crawled forward, trying not to wince, he attempted to recall the size and shape of the key. He fumbled around for a few moments and managed to slip off a few of the keys, praying with every fibre of his being that one of them would help him escape. The room had gone silent. He had been so engrossed in the quest to get the key he had forgotten the awful events which were taking place around him. He glanced up and saw Marcus knelt on the floor, clutching his nose as the blood poured out of it. Then he saw the guard, towering over him. As the guard took a step forward, he feebly attempted to retreat backwards. The guard's face was contorted with rage. Then the boot that smashed into his face relieved him of consciousness.

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