Illusion

*JuneChallenge Contest Entry. Cover by Isabel Fillippone* A teenager living in a dystopian society is locked inside the prison cell, Illusion, for speaking his mind. ©2014

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1. Illusion

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale dusty air. But it wasn’t air at all. The sky, in spite of its beauty, was artificial—nothing more than a beautiful illusion.

Just like everything else around him. 

Galablaster glanced down at the handcuffs shackling him. He still couldn’t believe he was here, trapped in the worst prison cell imaginable: Illusion. Deep down, he knew that he had done no wrong—after all, he had only spoken his mind. Since when had that become a crime?

The authorities must have thought it was; as soon as they had realized what Galablaster had done, they had him arrested on the spot. What was it that had made them feel so threatened by him? Was it the fact that no one else had ever stood up to the authority? Questioned the law? Or was it all because he was different?

The word must have struck fear into their hearts—if they even had hearts at all. With that being known long ago, Galablaster should have realized that he’d end up in here sooner than later; he was too openminded to keep his head low. He wasn’t a conformist like the others.

But was it even worth it? Being honest with himself? It had landed him in prison—more precisely, Illusion. Any other cell Galablaster could have handled, but Illusion—why did I have to say anything?

It wasn’t prison that scared Galablaster, though, in spite of what someone might think. He could deal with being thrown in prison. It was horrible, yes, but Galablaster had been in plenty of trouble with society before.

It was Illusion.

The sky was beautiful outside, even though there was no sky and no outside. He was dressed in comfortable clothing, much nicer than he ever wore in his real life. There was even a nice house that he had owned, and there was plenty of food to make sure he wouldn’t starve. The expensiveness of both his clothing and food was a hallucination, too; if Galablaster stepped outside into the real world (as the officers who had taken him to jail had shown him cruelly), all of the glamor would disappear.

The worst of it all was the people. They were people everywhere around him, even though they were all holograms. And they were so nice to him, speaking to him in pleasant manners, trying to become his friend—and a woman even became interested in him.

It was like they were all mocking him, pretending that he was apart of society when he really wasn’t. No matter how many times Galablaster tell himself that it wasn’t true, that it was all just a fantasy, it would also appear that he wasn’t. Unless he somehow found a way to escape prison—which was virtually impossible—the torture would go on for days or weeks or months. Maybe even years, depending on how long the government decided to sentence him to confinement. 

Because that was all it was: an illusion. And that was the worst punishment anyone could receive.

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