Inmate 400

The Chasm is a secret prison, one that few people know of, and one that nobody has escaped from. Where Anarchy is King and there is no Law, the Chasm is run by bandits and muderers. Convicted for a crime he didn't commit, Inmate 400 is branded as a traitor and threat to the Duke of Gariton, and thrown in the Chasm. Forced to survive in a world of madmen, he learns things that pushes him to the edge of sanity, and knows that escape is the only cure.

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8. Reckoning

We laughed, and talked, and celebrated. We had proved to everyone that Reaper was far from omnipotent, not the invincible King of the Chasm that everyone had feared. "I knew the exit was there" Sneak told us, "because when Reaper challenged me and the Shadows, we turned up and challenged him to a duel, in front of everyone. But I already knew it was there, you see. I had men all through Reaper's gang. And when it came to the day, we had all vanished. Amazing!"

I knew I should thank them, say something appreciative, but I couldn't. For them, this was a wholesome victory, a highlight in their lives so full on misery and despair, but now that I knew that I could no longer be content with surviving here, every second I spent away from the truth was suffocating, entombed as I was in this quarry of lies. I needed to know the truth.

344 was obviously no good, simple as he was, and I couldn't fully trust Sneak. Cleave was as silent as ever, but at least he respected me. And 317 was the closest thing I had to a friend, but allowing her that knowledge was a dangerous thing to do. I needed someone to confide in, but who I could trust, who I knew would not let the knowledge slip. I needed to find the safest person in here, to entrust them with the biggest secret to have graced this hole.

I turned to 317. "I need to find Keeper"

"Oh?" she gave me a quizzical look.

"I learnt something, back there. I think he can help me."

"And why do you ask me?" it was a fair question. She knew less about this place than Sneak or Cleave, but I felt like I should ask her. I trusted her not to read too much into it.

"I just thought you might know something about him."

"Nobody knows much about him. He helps the new kids everytime they're taken down here. The guards who bring the prisoners down here let him get close enough to help. Everyone else they'd shoot on sight."

"And do they always bring the prisoners to the same place?"

She shrugged. "I guess so. Thats certainly where I woke up. Thats why we camped there. So someone like you could help bolster our numbers a bit. And I'm glad we did."

"So if we go there, we can see Keeper?"

"If you hide yourself well enough, I guess you could. Providing the guards don't shoot you. Why do you need him so badly?"

"I just do" I said, hoping the bluntness of my reply would put her off inquiring more. I walked up to Sneak, who was conversing with Cleave. "I need to go back to the Stone City."

"And what do you expect to find there? Only new prisoners and groups such as the one you found go to the Stone City. You have a group here, and we hardly need more people, so you must be going to see Keeper?" Damn him and his perceptive mind. But I needed to tell him. I needed to go there, and it would be so much easier with his help.

"I need to go to the Stone City" I repeated.

"We can make a short stop, I suppose, but there is no telling when Keeper will show up. It could be days, it could be years. We can stop for a bit, but I'm not risking my men for you AGAIN."

I dropped back to my original positon in the group, truding along in silence. I had got what I wanted, and was sure that, once there, I could stay for as long as I needed. I had become adept at hunting the rats and mice of the caves, was familiar with plenty of water supplies and had learnt how to light a fire on the small pieces of debris one came across on a daily basis. I could live there, for a while.

Obviously Reaper would come after me with a vengeance, but surely I had few other options. I could run with the Shadows, or hide in a Stone City. Both prospects were miserable.

We set up camp for the night in a very dusty and cobwebbed section of the Chasm, somewhere I was sure thet few people had every graced. There were constant guards on patrol, and. after my wounds were re-dressed, I was allowed to slip into an uneasy sleep.

Marcus. As always, he was there. I dreamed not of events, but of feelings. Feelings of anger, feelings of sadness, feelings of betrayal. But I could not place them. Who was I angry with? Myself? Marcus? The constant battering of the unknown was tiring, yet I knew I would not rest easy until the secrets of my past unravelled before me. I woke up the next morning, no closer to discovering myself than when I closed my eyes.

 

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