Month: July 2010

Prisoner of War

Gorik was a methodical prisoner. Every morning, precisely at 6 o’clock, he’d wake up, wash his face and prepare for the morning food rations. After eating and tidying his bed, he’d go outside for the sun bath.

His schedule wasn’t particularly full, but he had some tasks he liked to do. Washing the court, preparing dinner, helping people in the library and most of all, teaching mathematics to the children. He was not a great mathematician, but among the prisoners, he was the most gifted.

Although his race was known to be violent, and many others tried to escape prison, he was a peaceful man. Not once he tried or even hinted to escape, nor he participated in the few mass escapes that happened since they’re all imprisoned. As with most prisoners of war, they weren’t criminals or had done anything more terrible than those that had imprisoned them, they just were unlucky enough to be on the loosing side of a major war.

Violent or not, their race was proud of what they achieved and were no more destructive than their enemies, nor they actually started the fight. But that doesn’t concern us now, the important matter now is that Gorik was not in his cell at 6 o’clock this morning to get his rations.

The janitor’s face had but one tear rolling down his cheek. The key in his hand opening a door that didn’t need opening. Pointless exercise but he continued, by force of habit, if nothing else. He was definitely not there.

Others were coming to see, but the sense of nothing was global. There wasn’t a single man, on either side, with his mouth closed. Some were dripping, what could be more tears, or saliva. It didn’t matter any more. He was not there at all.

No alarm was sound, no one ran. There was nothing to do. There were no broken doors, no knocked-down guards, no bribes paid (or no one said so), nor any camera caught anything convincing. He vanished.

Life continued in the prison. There was no one to help with the dinner today, or anyone to help the children in their assignments. It was not the same without him. Where did he go? And why now? There must have been something really serious to take him that sudden, and silently. He just left.

Two days later, when the janitor had the courage to enter his cell to clean it up, he noticed a letter on the bed. Nothing special, just a letter half-inserted back into the light brown envelope. The writing on the envelope was a bit wobbly, like children writing. It was addressed to him personally, and being only a letter, there was no point in not delivering it to him.

He was not there any more, and he left the letter in plain sight. That unofficially gives one the right to read it, I guess. Well, the janitor agreed, and opened the letter. It was from Gorik’s wife.

She was also a prisoner, but ever since the war was over, women and children got moved to a more decent accommodation, where the children could learn how much better was life on the other side and interact with the children on this side, and forget about their horrible and violent past.

The note said: “Dear Gorik, I’m not feeling well lately and Juma is a fine woman already. She’s left with a good boy and I’m afraid I’ll be alone for the rest of my days. I sincerely hope you are in better company than I am. Love, your wife.”

The next day, the prison manager went personally to the apartments she was living, and asking around learnt that nobody saw Gorik since the end of the war, but his wife had not showed up for a few days, also.

He took the note from his pocket, in which his secretary had written the block and apartment number. After a few minutes walking in circles, he managed to find the block and the correct door, which was half-open.

Knocked once. No answer. Twice. Nothing. The manager peered into the room by the two centimetres available, but all he could see was that the TV was on. Feeling a bit guilty for doing so, even for a prison manager, he opened the door a bit and found no one in the living room. A few steps inside, a door to the left. Empty bathroom. Another door to the right, empty room. Down the small corridor, there was a door, completely open and letting the sun, that was shining on the other side of the building, come through with all its might.

Barely visible among the flood of light, a pair of feet. No, actually, two pairs. Curiosity was not in the manager’s list of sins, but he could no longer wait. Sweating and his heart pumping, he crossed the room, just to find two people lying down on the bed. Calm as summer night.