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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2. Three

 

Why did he remember Marcus' name? It seemed a bizarre question to pose under the circumstances, considering that there was still much he did not know, but it seemed to be an interesting one. He had no recollection of Marcus telling him it, nor any memory of someone else uttering it. For some reason or another, the name was firmly attached in his mind to the blonde haired and grey eyed individual who was walking in front of him. He was being dragged through the forest through which he had earlier made his escape, his bloodied front scraping across the dirt track whilst each of the thugs grasped one of his arms. He had no concept of how they had got there, having passed out on the beach after the fourth lash of the whip. His coming to had been greeted with another lash from the Man, who was walking behind them. Three times since then, at seemingly random intervals, another lash had been delivered. He was glad at least to see that with each cut Marcus winced, evidence that all the compassion hadn't yet been beaten out of him . Despite his anger, he didn't blame Marcus. What was a crueller way to humiliate someone than having their one time friend take part in the capture?

 

They were nearing the Foundation, he knew. The incline was starting to get steeper and he could see Marcus was starting to get tense. As they approached, the trees fell away and the monolithic building loomed in front of them. A vast stone institution, he thought that at one time in may have been a convent. The crumbling statue of the Virgin Mary and the faded Latin words above the gate certainly pointed in that direction. The metal gates swung open in front of them, and as they entered a woman dressed very much like a secretary appeared from a side door and headed towards them. Tall, with vibrant red hair and black thick rimmed glasses, she was clutching a clipboard very tightly to her chest, as if afraid it would slip out of her clutches. It occurred to him that this woman might have been the sort of person to greet them when they arrived at the Foundation, if indeed they had arrived at the Foundation. He was sure that he had not always been here, yet he had no actual memory of arriving. She looked down in disgust at him, and he imagined that he did indeed look disgusting. She looked briefly at the Man, who he could not see, and then briefly nodded as if confirming some unsaid instruction. Addressing the guards who still had a grasp of him, she uttered in her squeaky high pitched voice, “Take him to the Confinement Rooms!” The cells, he knew. There would be no escape from the Confinement Rooms. She turned towards the Man, who was clearly her superior. “I shall escort this one back to his room.” and with that she turned and frogmarched Marcus inside.

 

As they crossed the courtyard, he felt an overwhelming urge to shout out to Marcus, to tell him he forgave him and to ask for his forgiveness in return. It was his fault Marcus had been subjected to that experience, even if it had not been as horrific as his ordeal. He considered it for a moment and thought it was best not to. When Three had attempted to do something similar, the Man had ripped his tongue out with hot pincers. He may have forgotten his own name, but here they did not allow the inhabitants to forget their acts of harsh discipline. Three, though? People are not called Three, are they? He may not have a name but he knew that much. Then it came back to him. After they had names, they had numbers. There had been objections, he remembered. People did not want to be labelled as numbers, as it took away their humanity. That had been the point, of course. Objects get labelled by numbers. Experiments do.

 

After that, they were given a new number every day, until the numbers became meaningless. Others had been worried that Three would be given to those marked out for punishment, but he knew differently. Anonymity was the key to it of course. He remembered that Three had been tortured, but he did not remember who Three was. Three could have been him, it could have been Marcus or any of the others when they bore that name. Then the numbers had stopped altogether, and they had ceased to exist as separate and individual entities. As he was taken through an archway, he saw that they were headed towards a door he had never seen before. It was simply a part of the ivy that had spread across the entire of the old stone wall, yet behind it lay the Confinement Rooms. He wondered how the staff differentiated between the different inhabitants of the Foundation. Perhaps they used their names, their real names. Because he did have a name, he had decided. They had been told that they did not have names and that they never had had names but he knew otherwise. Before they had numbers, they had names. The Foundation allowed him to remember so little, yet what he had found within his limited memory had given him hope. He was even more determined than before to escape.  

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