The Prisoner

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The Prisoner

Reuben Wharerau

My name? My name is not important. Not important to me anyway and certainly not important to you.

My dear friend let me tell you a story.

I have been here so long my name has lost meaning. Like that word you repeat over and over again until the meaning fails to grasp the sounds as they roll out of your mouth. My name is now a sound with no substance. I am no one. Though don’t feel sorry for me. Without a sense of self a name has no purpose anyway. Trust me, if you remain in the one room for 32 years with no contact from the outside world, or any living soul at all; then one certainly loses all purpose of existing. But I am talking to you? Well, you don’t really count since you can’t talk back. Don’t wiggle at me! My story is important! I think. I was someone important once.  

I tried to hold onto who I was. By telling my story each day to myself and repeating my name and the names of my loved ones out loud. I was able to hold onto those things that mattered for a time. Please don’t interrupt me. You do not know me! How did we get here!? We have talked about this! Haven’t we? I made one mistake. My mistake was one of hubris. In my previous life I was a championship driver, racing for the greatest manufacturer the worlds had ever seen. I was the greatest driver ever to put on a helmet and gloves. I even won the Daymar Rally a record twice! I was unstoppable, infallible and unshakeable. Winning came as easy to me as breathing did to everyone else. To me the world moved in slow motion and I only felt peace finding that line.

Both my world and my sense of self came crashing down as a result of that fateful mistake. Prisons aren’t full of evil people. We aren’t born inherently evil. Yes some have the capacity for evil, but others, others simply make one fateful mistake. I like to think I fit in that later group. My mistake unfortunately was considered treason by very powerful people. My punishment was this room, for the remainder of my life. My artificially extended life to be exact; just to ensure my punishment is satisfactory to the organisation with an ongoing control.

So once again I find myself talking to you. I won’t go into the details simply because over 32 years those details have become somewhat unreliable. Memories have become a noise of jumbled sounds, faces and colours. Details have faded so I feel I am looking at a water colour painting through a dirty visor on a Nox bike, and the characters keep changing. At this stage I can’t even be sure those same images aren’t completely fabricated by a lonely yearning mind. When one can’t even trust one’s own mind they are truly alone.

I can’t even be sure I’ve been here for 32 years. That is just what the man who brought my new toy told me. The only person I have seen or talked to other than you, since I was placed in this dim vacant padded room. Again with the wiggling! Stop it! This is a serious discussion.

Aw please! It’s not a trap. It’s not going to poison me. It’s harmless. Something must have changed out there in the real world. As someone important and obviously very powerful has now taken an interest in my particular skills.

The man with the tidy short grey beard and silver reflective eyes said the only words I have heard for a long long time. “Prisoner 768, this is for you, begin training, you have work to do”. He slid across the floor a small plastic military looking crate.

It took many days of sitting in the corner of my room and staring at this box until I built up the courage to open it. Having this new unknown item in my world was extremely unnerving, you understand, course you do. Like native people seeing a spacecraft come to their planet for the first time. My mind was overcome with fear and confusion.

Upon opening it however I knew immediately what I was looking at. Memories came flooding back. The characters swirled into place, and those confused images in my mind cleared up with a jarring suddenness. I was looking at cutting-edge virtual reality equipment designed for one thing; giving racers that winning edge.

Muscle memory that had not been explored or tested in decades burst to life. Finding the line became as normal as breathing. The humming returned! My skills improved, moment by moment, quickly. I then began winning. Then I could not lose. I had discovered again the joy of my life, in the simplest form of speed.

Now my dear friend, we are presented with darkness of a chemical kind followed by a slow awakening. New sounds and smells emerge into my waking consciousness. A low hum vibrates underneath and the insipid smell of machinery grease delicately touches my senses. Where am I? A new room! Are we moving?

Wiggle wiggle. Oh you are still here my friend, thank goodness. Of course I can’t exactly leave my big toe behind can I. Haha the jokes on you buddy; you’re on this ride with me!

Overhead an intercom bursts to life with a crackle and hum. I then hear that familiar voice who gave me the gift that brought me back from insanity. “Prisoner 768, it is time for your retribution. Prestige and freedom is on offer. Become a victor at Daymar again and it is yours!” 

 

*In-game image by Mr_Hasgaha