This was a weird one. It is not my usual type of story. I'm not sure if I was experimenting or was in a dark mood. It's one you may want to skip. The theme was "Prison" and the story was written at the end of July of 2000.
Panting and out of breath, not to mention being hungry, wet, and miserable, the convict stopped at the edge of the clearing around the ramshackle cabin. There was a soft glow of light from the windows and a wisp of smoke from the chimney so it must be occupied. He crept up to peek in a window and saw a man of indeterminate age sitting in a chair facing the fireplace. The man's face was deeply lined and he could have been an old 40 or a normal 80. He showed no signs of awareness and there was no weapon to hand so the convict went to the door and stepped inside.
"Come in, what took you so long to decide to come in? It's not like you had anyplace else to go to get out of the rain and get warm," the man said without getting up.
"What do you mean? You knew I was there? No way!" the convict snarled, nervously looking about but seeing nothing that worried him.
"I could feel you out there believe me. I imagine they are looking for you pretty hard from the prison. They know about this place so if expect to stay out you'd better not stop here." The man said.
When the convict tried to protest the old man answered, "Oh come on! Are you that stupid? Not only do you radiate enough hate and anger for me to feel you a mile away but what about those clothes. They'll have you back in soon enough."
"Oh no they won't! It was horrible there! You don't understand. Its hell in there, the other prisoners beat me and raped me and treated me like crap all the time. I'm never going back." Then, wondering, "How do you know so much about me old man? I've never seen you before. Is it on the news?"
"Look around, do you see a TV or a radio? I know all I need to know about you because I can't help it. The hate, fear and anger you have in you is very palpable. I feel it stinging like having a jelly fish wrapped over my whole being. There are many kinds of prisons, not just the concrete and steel one you were in and will go back to. My own personal prison is that I feel all the hate and negative emotions people generate. Imagine if you had to feel all the hate and anger and jealousy in the world 24 hours a day seven days a week. You can't shut it off to sleep, it is always there pressing on you."
"I felt you coming long before you got here. I can feel you now. I know and you know what you did to all those little children. You deserve to be in prison and deserve what your fellow prisoners do to you. Death would be far too kind."
The convict, thoroughly shaken and confused blustered, "You better shut your mouth old man or I'll just slap you into next week."
Laughing the old man stands up and moves closer to the convict who despite himself backs up a step.
"I'm not one of those little children you piece of crap you. There is not one thing on this earth you can do to hurt me." The man says in an amused yet menacing voice.
The convict swings but feels like he hit a brick wall and is not even sure if he touched the old man who just laughs. Panicking he picks up a stool and throws it at the man only to see it splinter with no visible effect.
"How does it feel to be powerless slime ball? Maybe that's how those kids felt." The man says, shaking his head.
The convict runs for the door and scrabbles with it frantically as the man approaches him grinning. "Oh its far too late for that. You're here and you won't leave until I finally get my peace and you go back to prison." The man says reaching for the convict.
Cowering back against the door he screams as the old mans hands grasp either side of his face. He is vaguely aware of a strange light, brightest white with swirls of deepest black. And then, just before passing out, he hears the old man saying with relief in his voice, "Finally, finally after all these years I'm free, free…"
Waking, the convict finds himself on the floor with the body of the old man who's lips have a peaceful smile forever frozen on them. Then he begins to be aware of a terrible burning, stinging sensation. He first thinks it's the old man but just as he staggers to his feet he realizes its outside somehow. The door crashes in and prison guards and sheriff's deputies flood the room, guns drawn. The sensations the convict feels builds to a level that has him on his knees whimpering senselessly, "don't hate me, please it hurts so. Oh God it hurts."
"I don't know what happened to him while he was outside but he was like that when we brought him back. He keeps going on about an old man and feeling the hate and how it's not fair that he be in two prisons at once." One of the doctors said as they looked atthe man curled in a fetal position in a padded white room.
"They said he was alone when they found him. They don't have a clue about any old man." The other doctor shrugged.
They left and the convict was aware that he was alone again, a prisoner not only within bars but within his mind. He whimpered again as the waves of hate and anger from the inmates and guards swept over him again. As he finally drifted into sleep he seemed to hear the old man laughing and the word "free" echoing through his mind.