plasma ball in the dark

They’ve bottled the lightning. The rest of my days will be spent in this sphere prison. I idle away my life scribbling feelings, psychoanalysed by faces through the wall. Just kill me and be done with it. I can run away from them. I’ve done it before. But what use is it? These faces will be replaced by others. Ones I still cannot see. Whenever I run to, this same sphere prison awaits me. The same meals. The same pen and paper. They’re trying to break me. I won’t give them the satisfaction.

I’ve lost track. I jump and jump and jump. Years, decades fly by. Still they study me. It’s cruel what they’ve done. How long for me? Since I’ve seen another human? Touched or felt warmth that wasn’t food or wash water. I fling my faeces at the wall like a chimp. I am a chimp. I smear violent graffiti for them in violent brown shades. Psychoanalyse that. I wash my hands clean of filth and jump decades again. When I land, I sob on the floor of my spheric hell.

I still remember my first jump. Or maybe it’s only the first I can recall. I was a child and terrified. Forward hours; day become night in the blink of an eye. In trouble for scaring my parents. I didn’t understand. Only fools think lightning strikes once. Lightning does as it pleases. What better way to cut detention, to skip being grounded? To truant school? To never be caught red-handed. When things get hairy, I bolt (get it?). Rules are for keeping people in line – well I don’t queue.

Long before I got caught in the act, the blame fell elsewhere. I aged slower than my class. I fell behind in the work. They thought I was malnourished or abused at home. I miss home. I wish I could go back.

How different am I really? We all move forward in time – I just get to choose how far. How is sleep not the same thing? I’m not that special. It’s a waste of resources. Just let me go.

I refuse to eat. If I can’t wait them out, I’ll end it anti-climactically. Centuries of study down the drain because the subject starved himself to death. Ha. Medics rush in as I faint. People! It hurts but I jump before they can treat me. Oh. How long since I last saw a face?

I wake on a saline drip. Alone. Weak but alive. The faces are gone. Maybe dead. For the first time since childhood I’m unaware how far I’ve jumped. Bitterly I hope it’s years. I pray with all my heart that those medics died unsure if their life’s work had gone to waste. I try to imprint their faces into my memory. I don’t remember any others.

Is this a study or just a prison? Just tell me that much at least. I get it now. They can’t have individuals like me living life without repercussions, leaving their messes to yesterday. …Are there others like me? People who punctured through existence at will before crashing head-first into a cage? Quarantined forevermore from civilisation’s slow tick towards doomsday. I couldn’t think of a more miserable life if I tried. Truly. I’m so lonely.

The door’s open.

Is it a trick? A part of the study? No, there is no study. …I don’t know what to think. It’s been thousands of years. I’m writing in this stupid journal instead of venturing out. What’s out there? Nuclear winterland? Did they leave the earth behind? My mind cowers at the thought of unrestricted space. I’ll go to sleep in my sphere, I tell myself. And when I wake there will be food and the door will be bolt shut.

For J.D