The Prisoner


2. Living Nightmare

Sleep never came easily. It wasn ’ t long before Kai ’ s dreams of the ship with the plum-

colored flag were interrupted by the shrill shriek of a man echoing down the corridor. Kai woke

with a start. He panted, springing into a sitting position, his heart pounding heavily against his

chest. He ran a hand through his tangled, brittle hair and laid back down. After several moments,

he recognized the sound of boots grating against the stone floors, retreating back the way they

had come. He stared at the wooden door to his cell. It had a slot big enough for the small tray of

food to wiggle under and a barred opening to look out of near the top.

No matter how hard he had tried, he simply couldn ’ t make himself tall enough to see out

into the hall. He ’ d tried standing on the washing bucket for leverage and standing on the tips of

his toes. He tried jumping and pulling himself up and glancing between the bars before his arms

gave out. None of that had worked. His only company were his own thoughts, memories, and the

roughly rectangular window in which he saw people ’ s feet.

With that grim realization, Kai ’ s mind returned to the handful of times he had seen the

sea. The first time was during the storm after moving to the port city. The last time was right

before he ’ d been brought here. But he remembered it as if it were yesterday.

The sky had been blushing brilliantly. The water sparkled and rippled, reflecting the rosy

painting that was the sky. He ’ d sat at the end of the dock, his feet dangled, barely able to skim

the water with the tips of his toes. His hands had gripped the edge of the worn wood.

If only they could ’ ve seen this, he ’ d thought. Kai wallowed in both his abandonment and

homelessness. Seagulls squawked as they chased fish in the water. The waves hummed and

lapped at the pilings of the aged dock. They rolled gently. Foam formed at the tips before they

collapsed on the beach and crawled back towards the rest of the ocean ’ s body. He finally

understood how something could be merciless and beautiful at the same time. He ’ d heard the

stories told around town, of the ones who didn ’ t come home, of the ones who almost didn ’ t

return, and of the ones who kept looking for that familiar sign, a flag or a sail or something.

Some people never gave up. And some did. The physicians had tried, but they still failed.

As he remembered that day at the dock, fresh tears silently trailed down his cheeks. It

was the first time Kai had truly understood the sickness and that his parents, and all the family

and home he had ever known, were gone.

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