June 06, 2011

The Prison of Worlds: The Grand Entrance

The Grand Entrance

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” Dante Alighieri

The sun beat down on the clouds and thus completely missed the ground. The clouds in turn threatened to rain upon the Earth, but forbore to do so in a sort of grumbling fit. The result would have left a blind man searching for cover, but the avid meteorologist would simply wave away doubts and worries and say it would pass over.

This was largely due, in part, to the fact that there weren’t any meteorologists within fifty miles of this building.

Ah, the building. Yes, I told you I’d get to that. As if the rest of the world weren’t convinced it ought to go back to bed and sleep the day through, the building was the sort of thing that just looks out of place without rain pouring down in sheets, lightning striking every other second, and an terrifying tune playing in the background. In short, this building seemed to have been uprooted from some land of utter darkness and horror, and been flown to this place of relative joy and calm.

The reality was much less believable.

Still, the building itself was something worth describing. It had a couple wings, one on each side. Ivy crawled up and around to such a degree that, if it weren’t already a prison of sorts, it would have ensured escape was impossible. The front doors and a few windows here and there were the only places where the incredibly overwhelming ivy wasn’t beyond the management’s very capable handling. These few holes in the mass of wood were maintained regularly by the local handyman, who somehow had managed for twenty years to use a chainsaw as a tool for myriad lawn and garden tasks and, even more miraculously, managed to keep several of his fingers.

The windows and doors weren’t a viable escape option because the grounds were overgrown with gargantuan nettles. One footstep in the formerly brown and unpleasant lawn would quickly render one unconscious. Given a couple seconds, gravity, and the loss of balance, the nettles would pump into you more poison than an elephant was meant to handle.

In effect, therefore, nobody had ever escaped by any means. A few people had tried, and most of them had died. But I’m not here to rhyme.

The driveway was long, and somehow, gravel though it was, was also covered in the deadly nettles. A sign over the doorway explained, in bright and unpleasant colors, that footwear of any kind was not allowed in the asylum. It also explained that hope was pointless and one should abandon it. It used a bunch more words and probably sounded like it actually meant it, but the effect was more than I care to let my readers know.

As the limousine pulled up and slowed to a halt at the front steps, the man raised his head from the seat. The driver looked back, unsure whether to pity this man or deride him. The insane are hard to judge.

“We’re here,” he said, apparently compromising. The information was unneeded, as the orderlies had already begun to escort the man out of the car. Oddly enough, he didn’t resist. He walked rather proudly and managed, once or twice, to keep pace with the men who guided him. His head was held high and he appeared to be taking the sight in. The orderlies saw his attentive gaze and tightened their grip on his arms. It wasn’t like he could escape, but the job paid well, so they were willing to do it well. The limousine hummed off behind them, leaving nothing but nettles to be seen.

They continued up the front stairs, which also seemed to have been recently cleared of ivy. There were green clippings and fresh, wet, angled pieces of wood, some large, some small. The pieces of ivy got between the man’s toes as he strode on toward the door. The threshold was rather large, and the handyman seemed to have done a bad job this time. The man instantly imagined that the handyman had found love and thus become distracted from ordinary life. A slight breeze passed them and overturned some leaves.

“Weird day, eh?” said one of the orderlies. He had obviously forgotten he was guarding a man certified insane by the top doctors in the United States.

“Yeah, aren’t...” the second man started saying.

“Yes. This place is odd even without an odd day to go with it. Peculiar,” said the strange man, interrupting the second orderly.

The orderlies blinked and remembered who was next to them. They blushed, faced front, and resumed their stoney expressions.

The asylum was an asylum. The strange man sighed. He had expected no better.


The Prison of Worlds: A Strange Man

A Strange Man

“I can’t believe that God put us on this Earth to be ordinary.” Lou Holtz

A limousine rolled up the road toward a building whose precise appearance the author will for the moment not secrete. The limousine, however, was of a black aspect that permitted little of the slight breeze outside to make any difference inside the metal walls. And yes, they were walls. The cars they used to transport men like this were indeed prisons.

Men like this, you ask? In complete honesty, no prison was actually enough for the man who now laid in the back of the limousine, in a straight jacket and unconscious. The reason he was now helpless and unconscious was due solely to the fact that he thought he was normal. Ordinary. Average.

In truth, he was no different from you in any observable way. That is to say, he was certainly human. One would be hard-pressed to find a way in which he either appeared, or actually was, not human.

Still, one would be even more hard-pressed to believe he was simply ordinary. You couldn’t put your finger on it. He exuded something, but you would never figure out whether to puke or fear or collect it. You would wish for a sixth sense more dearly than ever before. There was something about this man which could be sensed, but only vaguely. You could tell something was different, perhaps even wrong, but you would be driven insane trying to find it.

Insane. This is the word most had found for him, when the word, “human” was no longer enough, when his simple oddity and strangeness made you deny him as a fellow on this rock. In short, he had something inexplicable. Something science would laugh at, that reason would cower away from. This man baffled everyone without moving, without speaking, without so much as twitching.

Enigmatic? Perhaps.