The Named


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3. What's in a Name?

                     Hours later I found myself hanging from the ceiling by my wrists, blinking in the red glow from the torches in the passageway.  My back was bloodied, but the flesh had already healed from the trauma it had so recently been exposed to.

                As my mind cleared itself of grogginess and lingering panic, I recalled the conversation I’d overheard before the devil had attempted to rearrange my back muscles.  I wasn’t sure what a name was, but it was evidently important.  Something inside me awoke at the sound of the word.  My core yearned to discover my own name.

                As quietly as possible I twisted my wrists and pressed all my fingertips together and managed to slide out of the manacles dangling from the ceiling.  Padding over to my door I pressed my face against the barred window which was only about as big as my stretched out hand.

                “Psst, hey! 3491!”

                Muffled sounds of movement came from the cell next to me as Number 3491 moved to answer me through their own window.

                “This had better be important; they’ve got extra patrols today.”

                “I think it is. I overheard a couple of the guards talking about it earlier.” I hesitated before continuing with my question.  After checking for footsteps and assuring myself that the moans from the other prisoners would conceal most of our conversation, I asked, “What is a name?”

                Silence.  The entire hall went silent.  Suddenly the whole passageway filled with the whisperings of ragged bodies dragging themselves to their doors and pushing their faces as hard as they could against the barred windows.

                A hushed voice a few cells down breathed out, “You’re lucky not to know.”

                “Of all questions, that is the most important for one of us to ask, friend.” I returned my attention to my neighbor’s voice.  “Your name is who you are, who you will be, and who you always have been.  Your name is the very essence of your being, the sun your world revolves around, a priceless treasure, your identity in a mere few words.”

                Quietly, I pondered his answer.  I was unfamiliar with some of his comparisons but I understood what he was trying to convey. What I couldn’t wrap my mind around was that he had said a name was a few words.  How could something so important be but a few meager words?

                “3491, how can something so important be nothing but organized sound?  How can something so ‘priceless’, be made by the movements of a man’s mouth?”

                “Sadly, you may never know the truth behind my words, for it is our names that have caused us to be imprisoned in these cells.  They give us great power that you may never experience.”

                Heavy footsteps triggered a wave of shuffling through the prisoners as they all backed away from the oncoming guard.

                “What’s going on in here!?  It’s so damn eerie in here as it is then ya’ll have to go quiet all of a sudden!  Get to bitchin’ and moanin’ or whatever the hell you slimy cave scum do with all your free time!”

                Shuffling back to the middle of my cell I lifted my arms up and, standing on my tiptoes, wriggled back into my shackles.  Whoever brought me my pitiful excuse for a meal would unlock them but if they found me out of them I would get no food.

                It was as I did this that a thought awoke in my mind.  If they didn’t want me to know about my name and our names were the reason we were kept in here, maybe, if I could ever escape into the world above that I’d heard 3491 describe so many times before, maybe I could find my name.  Before I drifted into my usual semiconscious state I quickly came up with a plan to escape the only home I’d ever known.

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