A Thousand Years

A thousand years of life, handed to me in the form of a prison sentence. Not even billionaires get this lucky. I would be rendered invulnerable for generations. No empire lasts that long, I shall remain patient until the prison wall’s have fallen and make my escape. After all I had plenty of time. How foolish of him to give a crook such a generous gift. How foolish of me to think those thoughts nearly a millennia ago.

Three hundred years of torture, not a single day went where my body wasn’t mutilated, burned and seared, lacerated and mangled by the so called peace officers. My arms were restrained out and up, and my legs anchored to the floor, like some sort of medieval torture victim. I didn’t eat, I didn’t drink, nor did I see the sunlight. My body no longer needed substance to function, it took care of that all on its own.

Every day the guards would come in at random intervals and unleash the furry of the state upon me. I had seen their faces change through the decades. Ever changing, like faces in a dream.

They It was so I could feel the pain and suffering I had inflicted upon others, but by the time it had all ended I had forgotten why I wounded up there in the first place. My life as an outsider faded to the back of my mind like the memory of a story I had read long again. Was I Prometheus after he had given light to the mortals, forced to suffer until the end of time for his rightful deed? Or was I a forsaken soul, banished to the ninth circle of hell doomed to be tortured next to Lucifer himself for my unforgivable deeds? I no longer knew.

And then the day of the roar came. It began with a deep roar, like a stampeded on the horizon. The guards grew anxious and made haste with their punishment to me that day. The grumbling grew louder and more ominous through the session, the guard’s face began to sweat. He dropped his tools and dashed out of the room, the power to my chamber cut, leaving me in complete darkness. A crescendo of roars and screams hit a fever pitch moments after he had ducked out, the walls began to rumble, more violet than any earthquake I had seen before. The noise outside of my chambers shrilled like the winds of a hurricane! How long the roaring lasted I cannot tell you, somedays I remember it lasting just a mere second, and others decades. But, it did die down, leaving me with nothing but silence, and the abyss.

I hung there in the abyss for many lifetimes. I no longer remembered who I was, hanging there in the void. I was nothing more than a thought in the deepness of space. I had begun to wonder whether if the world around me in which I had remembered, with all its colors, sounds, and textures, was nothing more than a reality I had dreamt up to keep myself busy as I just existed. Something to keep myself sane. I began envisioning other realities, ones in which I was an explorer conquering unknown lands; others where I was royalty, imposing my rules about the land, and punishing those who dissented; sometimes I saw myself living a simple life, in a quite little town working in the mills. No many how many realities I dreamt up, they never met the vivid elegant world I had once remembered. And then the light returned.

It was an expedition to the lost plant, an archeological crew had ventured into the the caverns of the Empire’s supermax, deep within the forgotten mountains. I could hardly believe it when I saw their faces, and they as well when they saw a living breathing human in the cell.

Unlike my previous caretakers, they meant no harm, in fact it was quite the opposite. They wanted to know everything. What life was like within the Empire, what they ate, what they watched, how they dressed. The Empire I had once belonged to had been wiped from the face of the planet, erased not by an exterior threat, but through their own hubris of their weapons program. What had been a simple weapons test had lead forth a cascading explosion, incinerating the breathable atmosphere of the planet, and rendering the capital uninhabitable.

I was taken away from the inhospitable surface of the planet, and given care by my rescuers. That was a century and a half ago. I am now at the end of my sentence, a sentence of a lifetime in pain and isolation, but I am proud to have found a new life within the culture of my rescuers.

Wrong Number

Truth be told, I’m not sure why I answered the call. When my phone vibrated aggressively on the surface of the particle board conference table like a small creature had been trying to break free from within the black rectangle, I checked the screen. I hadn’t recognized the number, some 777 area code that I had never seen before. I let it ring for a second before I excused myself from the meeting to answer the call.

“-‘inking, about another visit. What do you think?” the voice on the other line said. It was deep full, but distant and muffled. Like a whale’s call deep in the ocean.

Somebody answered the caller’s question, a woman’s voice. She was too far away from the microphone for me to quite make out what she said.

“I told you Julia, you’re brother’s too busy to go.”

She spoke up, her voice still inaudible.

“I know, I know he promised he’d go again, but he’s too busy with work to go. He won’t be free not for a, let’s see here…” his voice trailed off, a series of gentle clicks and clacks followed it, “…three and a half millennia. Wait a second, where are my readers?” he paused, “Ah here we go, eight and a half millennia. I need you to fill in for him. Who knows if the place will even be around by then! Can you do me this one favor? Please?”

The call went quiet for quiet a while, I checked my phone to see if had cut out. It hadn’t. I contemplated hanging up, clearly this was a private conversation and I had no business listening in. But my curiosity had been piqued when the man used the world millennia. Plus I really did not want to return to the meeting. It was one of those meetings that could easily be an email, but the project manager insisted on the meeting anyways. So I stayed on the line.

Finally, the woman’s voice answered. I was still unable to make out the words.

“Oh thank heaven!” The man said. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down Julia. What decades work best for you? Last time your brother went he stayed for just over three.”

She answered.

“Oh really, five? Trying to one up your brother again I see. I’ll see where I can fit you,” the clicking and clacking resumed. “Ah, how does twenty sixty seven to twenty one eleven work?”

She answered again, this time brief. No more than a word.

I felt an itch in the back of my throat, I fought against it.

“Great! See that wasn’t so ba-“

Before he could finish his sentence I coughed.

“Oh my self,” the man said. He sounded startled. On the other end of the line I heard the sound of shuffling. “Excuse me, which child of mine am I speaking to?” His voice was much clearer now, and closer.

“Ugghh, don’t call them that. It’s creepy.” I heard the woman groan on the other side of the line.

“Uh what?” I asked, not entirely sure how to respond to being addressed as a child, nevertheless his child.

“Your name, what is your name?”

“Jaime,” I said. “I think you butt dialed me.”

“Butt dialed? What does that even mean?”

“I means exactly what it sounds like,” the woman answered. “Your butt dialed them.”

“Don’t be outrageous,” the man said, “my butt can’t dial anything. That’s why I put the fingers on the hands.”

“You know, if you would just get a smartphone like everyone else up here this wouldn’t have happened.”

“I know it’s policy to adapt our technology with the times, but these humans just innovate so quickly now it’s hard for an old man like me to keep up. I’m so sorry you have to hear this Jamie.”

“Look, clearly you two are working out some stuff,” I said. “I’m going to go, and just pretend that this never happened.”

“Wait, before you go. What did you overhear?”

“Nothing, just some dates. That’s all.”

“Alright, good to know. If you heard anymore I’d consider smiting ya,” he laughed a hearty laugh. “Alright child, have a blessed day. You take care now, bye, bye.” He hung up, and I suddenly felt very vulnerable.