Establishing Identity

I turn around and begin picking at the blood.

"It's hard to clean without tools, isn't it?" The bald man has a smug look on his face.

"Force of will can over come anything. Don't look so satisfied." I am pushing, rubbing, scraping at the blood. A few bits and flakes chip off from the panel.

"You can only do so much before-"

"Be quite. I am through with listening to you."

"Oh really?" In a leap, the bald man has pushed me to the ground and crushes my face into the blood. "You don't realize that, even if you try not to listen, I am still here. Even if you try to put me at arm's length, we are still in this cell together. There is only one way to get rid of me, otherwise this tomb is eternity."

"Get off of me!" I struggle beneath his weight, but he is much larger than I am. He is stronger and more agile and stops any attempt I make to wriggle my arms from his grasp.

"Oh, I will. But you need some totem to symbolize your rebellion. Try this." He takes his right hand and pounds it into my right shoulder blade. I am screaming in agony, but it only fuels his fire. He grabs a hold of the skin and muscle at the shoulder blade and begins twisting it. The pain is excruciating. "There. Your right arm will feel a bit numb, and any movement you make will richocet down your entire body with a burning and stabbing pain."

As he removes himself from my back, I try to stand up. The instant I stand straight I find myself crippling over and vomiting. Just as he said, any twitch of my right arm, rotation of my neck or pivoting of my back sends hurricaines across every nerve.

"Everytime you feel you are better than listening to me, I will show you this pain. Anytime you try to talk to someone about me, I will remake this pain. You are mine."

"I am stronger han you. I am better than you... I... I... augh..." I am curled over and vomiting again.

"There is only one escape. Kill yourself." His pale and hairless features magnify the creases in his smile. There is almost nothing to him save his massive size and resiliant personality.

"You know it has to be done."

"No. I am stronger than... I am stronger than this. I don't need you. I can take you."
A rapping is at the bars signaling someone is coming. My bully retreats to the far corner of the room and curls into nothingness. If you didn't know to look for him, you would never see him.

"Hello... It... It is visiting time." There is a younge woman standing a the bars. She seems timid but well taken care of.

"Who are you?"

"I am another resident here. I live in one of the rooms down the hall. Can you please come to the bars, it is too dark to see into your chambers." I slowly make my advance to the bars and can perfectly make out my visitor. She does not have the weary eyes I undoubtedly have, nor the gaunt and thinning figure. This woman is beautiful and well dressed and obviously well taken care of.

"It is a pleasure to meet you. What is your name?"

"Oh, th-th-they don't allow us to have names here." Her stutter may be the only fault given to her person. "You must be new then... I... oh my." Her eyes have finally made their way to the crusted wound above my temple. "How did that happen?"

"My roommate here told me that the guards were not too gentle when throwing me in here. I can't remember getting here so..."

"G-Guards? What guards? You mean the attendants? The attendants have always been a lot nicer than that... At least mine have been. Who are your handlers?"

"I don't. I don't know. I haven't met anyone since I've been here except for you. " I try to look to the dark corner that homes my associate, but the action sends another wave of pain and nausea. I wince and twich to adjust and I catch the curious eye of my visitor.

"Are... are you okay? Did... did your attendants really do this to you? You have a roommate? I don't..." She seems extremely confused and uncomfortable by what I've said. She glances back to the other cells.

"You're going to lose her. You're scaring her away." A sharp whisper emmanates from the other side of the room. "You know I'm right."

"I'm sorry, I am a little disoriented is all. Head wounds do not bode well for pleasant introductions." I attempt a weak smile to relax her, and she doesn't notice its partial insincerity.

"You're right, ha." She chuckles and extends her hand towards me. I grasp it, the pain issues another tremor, but the warmth of her touch is almost soothing. "I am twenty-two, and if you didn't know, you are number six. I wish I could see into your room but it is too bright on this side. Tell me what yours is like." Her smile is as warm as her touch and she seems to emanate a relaxing aura. I want to spend more time with her, I want to get to know her.

"You want to do more than get to know her. You want to do more than shake her hand. You are a sick creature-"

"My room is quite cozy. The bed is a bit too hard, but my attendants have given me some nice things to decorate the walls with." A moment of shock and aw crosses my face, but I manage to muster a neutral expression as Twenty-two reiterates her question.

"This poor nice girl here, desiring only friendship and companionship-"

"My room is pretty similar. I've got a pretty soft bed" Complete fabrication.

"and you wish to obtain carnal knowledge. Do you objectify every female-"

"The floor is a little too cold for my taste." Not quite a lie, but she cannot know the squallor conditions of my room. I don't think she would understand.

" creature you come into contact with? Have you no shame?"

"As I said I haven't really met my attendants yet, at least I don't remember them since I've gotten in here. I just have some fading memories of my life before coming in here."

"Before coming here? Oh, you must mean the 'experience tasks' the attendants conduct. You must really have hit your head..." She looks worried and uncomfortable again.

"Right right, excuse me. I simply misspoke. My elocution has taken a hit. Come by again this time tomorrow and I'll be much better. A good night's rest is all I need." I force another smile, and she returns it.

"Good. I will definitely come by then. I know what you mean about the cold, though. This room is pretty far from the heater. I hope you've been given some warm blankets!" If I could live my life near this incorrigible smile, I may never grow cold or alone. The unadulterated care seems to agitate my roommate.

"Yes, you wish to do more than live near her. But how can you be so selfish? Does she have no say in the matter?" He hisses at me. I can feel the daggers from his hatred, but they are held at bay by my visitor.

"I have to go now, visiting time is almost up and I have another stop to make. It was nice to meet you Six."

"It was nice to meet you as well, Twenty-two. I hope you stop by again sometime." My stomach plunges, my back explodes and the daggers pierce my flesh as she leaves.
As she walks away, I turn to face the corner and he is already upon me.

"If you try to get close to her, you will need to lie. If you try to get close to her, she will get a chance to get to know you. How do you think that'll make her feel? How do you think she will react when she gets to see the monster behind the bars?"

"I will figure out something. She doesn't need to come into my room. She doesn't need to see what is on this side of the wall."

"So you agree with me, then." a venomous smile ebbs across his face and elucidates his sick satisfaction. "You agree that you cannot find help in another person. I am the only person you can talk to, listen to. I am the only person who can truly understand who and what you are."

"I mean she... no one needs that burdeon... she doesn't... STOP IT." I shout back to him. "I know what you're trying to do. There is someone out there who I can talk to. There is someone out there who will understand what I am."

"That person is me-"

"SHUT. UP. There are more people out there. There has to be someone who will not be afraid of what I am."

"Is that girl one of them? Are you going to knowingly deceive her, never let her know what you are thinking? Is that the kind of relationship you want to have with another person? Any other person?"

"Honesty. I will be honest. She is a good person and she will not hold my mind against me. Even if she cannot help, she will not run away. I can be honest."

"You can try as you'd like. So be it. Let me remind you, though, that you have only one option for true release. You need to kill yourself. You lied to her about this room. You made her feel uncomfortable. You burdeoned her with so much right after you met her."

"Shut up."

"She will never forget these things. She will always associate you with some troubled person. No one wants to be near a troubled person."

"I said shut up."

"You will see." He sits back in his corner, arms crossed with a curved and knowing smile.

"No, you will see. She will come back. She will understand that it was an accident."

"We will see."

The End

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