The Prisoner : A Short Story

Prisoner

I woke up with a start. There was that nightmare again – of me slowly losing consciousness and lapsing into an infinite sleep. I looked so old and sick in the dream. It had been recurring for many days now, but each time, its realism seemed to slink further into the black hole of time. Today, it had almost felt like a lifetime away. That was a good sign. ‘Maybe it will just go away altogether in a few days,’ I hoped. ‘If I manage to survive a few more days, that is.’

It was pitch dark. All was quiet except for the constant whispering din of my heart. The complete deathly stillness around might have been labeled calming under ordinary circumstances. Mine, decidedly, were not. For one, my cramped confines kept me completely straitjacketed in one position. My captor was not taking any chances at passing any creature comforts my way even unwittingly. I tried to move my body tepidly but that only caused the noose around my neck to tighten. The noose! I had totally forgotten about that. ‘Uh, oh,’ I thought, ‘this is not looking good, is it?’ I half-joked at my miserable position. I decided to lie perfectly still. Momentarily, I went back to sleep again. I felt so tired.

A sudden movement and a loud boom jolted me awake. ‘What was that?’ I wondered as I flickered my eyelids to get used to the endless darkness. Just as suddenly, I sensed an awful odor around me. ‘And what the fuck is that?’ my mind shrieked, petrified that my captor had decided to poison me to death. The ghastly odor ebbed, but soon there was more, much more. Was this really the end? I felt like crying but my eyes refused to well up any tears. It made me very somber when I realized that I had no ability to form tears anymore.

I had to harden myself. This was not how I wanted to go – naked, alone, trussed in nameless obscurity. I had survived so far despite the odds. ‘I need to hold out for just a bit longer…’ My brain tried to compose steely resolve but only succeeded in painting empty visions. As if my undetermined future was in my hands.

‘If I could just loosen the noose, I would die a happy man,’ I thought, trying to make the most of my wretchedness. I moved my head back, slowly enough to be completely unobtrusive to my captor. As I delicately cramped the rest of my body upwards, the cord around my neck fell loose and dropped harmlessly around my shoulders. Small victories. ‘Maybe I will live to see another day?’

I felt calm enough to think back to the time when my captivity had begun. ‘How many days has it been?’ I let my numb brain stress with the calculation. ‘Or has it been weeks? Months even?’ I realized that I had lost track of how much time had passed since the day I had first come to my senses in this dark tomb. But I did remember being so petrified of my new environment that I had tried to scream and fight as much as my body would allow. Well, you would have done the same, if you had discovered yourself hanging upside down, stripped of all modesty. The captor was vicious, clearly resorting to drugging me to quieten me down whenever my protestations got violent. Pretty soon though, I had realized that no one was listening to my cries. How could they, since I was being held under water, with only a narrow tube to provide me just enough sustenance to keep me alive?

I tried to think of the happy memories of my days before the ordeal. But my mind was blank – a clean slate, black with nothingness. The harder I tried to think, the darker it got. Slowly, I found my eyes feeling heavy. I prayed for the grim odor to bear fruit quickly.

I went back to sleep again.

 ****

Three more weeks,’ muttered the gassy woman lying sideways on the bed as she shifted her giant belly slightly. She had been trying to find that solitary comfortable position that had remained elusive since the start of the 36th week.

 

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About Rickie Khosla

Born in Calcutta to Punjabi and Assamese parents. Brought up in saddi Delhi. Schooled at Manav Sthali School and "colleged" at Institute of Hotel Management at Pusa. Stumbled into a lifelong career in Market Research. Currently based in Gurgaon. Aspiring to be a slightly-better-than-mediocre writer.

83 thoughts on “The Prisoner : A Short Story

  1. blogwatig

    OMG! This one was a masterpiece, just when I thought it was going to be dark and gloomy, you turned it around.

    I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you post once again Rickie. I surely missed your posts. Welcome back and how………………….Brilliant, simply brilliant! *Applause*

    Reply
  2. Sriram

    If was to just say one word in the comment then it would look like I have not read what you wrote but this story was really mind blowing. Wow :).

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Your comment made me realise what the work of fiction was…and praises for Rickie for articulating it so differently…

      Reply
  3. BhavanaDiary

    Wow :-) just loved the way you have put across the way foetus might feel in its ‘position’. I had heard foetus is always comfortable in there.. But this writing of yours will make people imagine..

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Who knows how comfortable the fetus is! I have a feeling that after about the 36th week, all parties involved have had enough! They just want the baby out already!

      Reply
  4. poonam dogra

    My thoughts with the poor gassy lady.. hope she wrings your neck next time ..hahaa!! loved the twist in the last 3 lines..

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Thanks, Pooja. Actually, I am trying out a new idea for another fiction piece – this (or something similar to this) might be the first chapter of that!

      Reply
  5. Soham

    Ah….Initially that din’t quite sound Rickie Style (Yes, you have already established a Rickie Style of Blogging). Anyways , as I said…It felt different…But the last paragraph did absolute justice to the Rickie Style…Twist and Imaginative…Good Hain !!

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Hah! Quite nice to hear that you think I may already have a style! I am too unworthy of that yet! Maybe in the next 20-30 years… :D
      Thanks for reading, Soham!

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    I thought what happened to your humour – why you writing such gloomy stuff but what an ending…. i am so happy i read it. fantastic twist.

    Reply
  7. Sakshi

    Wah! It seemed SO Kafka-esque, but only till the point of ‘gassy woman’. Loved it. Dryden once wrote a love poem for his mistress (one of them), describing her immense beauty, graceful gestures and whatever else mistresses are made of. In the last line he described how poetically she bent low, sat and – “And then, my good folks, she shat!” Your post jogged my memory back to when I read this. :)

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Like I said on Facebook, I am glad that this unintentional experiment to be part-Kafka and part-Dryden did not end up being a total piece of shit (no pun intended)!
      Thanks so much, Sakshi!

      Reply
  8. The Fool

    Good build up and an unexpected twist in the tale. And interestingly I have thinking about this too and I actually find it as scary as you describe it. When people think about death, they find rebirth reassuring. But rebirth scares the shit out of me at the thought of having to undergo all this again.

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      I think I am reading an alternate, absolutely interesting take on the story, K. I had intended the initial ‘nightmare’ to be the last bit of memory left in the unborn baby’s past life. But, now I see a different take – it could all be how it sees it is going to end. Worth pondering!
      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  9. janu

    It took a few seconds for this to sink into my lazy brain. Wow! Seriously, Rickie you should shift to Mumbai and give other scriptwriters a run for their money and ideas.

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      I am so certain that by the end of term, everyone has had enough – even the foetus, which, obviously, doesn’t know any better! I think when they pop out and cry loudly, those are tears of relief!
      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  10. Guria

    I was totally taken in by your use of language and the fluid description. The ending was perfect. But the phrase “the cord around my neck” triggered some old memories, a short funny story that my friend and I had written a long time back. Yours told of the same dilemma! And in a much better way. Enjoyed it thoroughly :)

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      So nice to hear your glowing feedback. Thanks!
      And, do mark the link to your story in a reply to this, if possible. Would love to read an alternate take on this story!

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    Read ur story for the first tym and now i think i have missed on a lot… I m gng to b very busy in days to come as i hv to read all…
    Oh yes… This one was fabulous…

    Reply
  12. jaishvats

    Oh oh I quickly scrolled to see how long it was and ended up reading the 36 week part , so read the whole post knowing what it was about :) still a great post hi hi

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      Reminder to myself : Give the word count on top of the story next time!
      Glad you still persisted with the story, despite knowing the ending. Thanks!

      Reply
  13. Rachna

    Hated that I had known the climax punch as I had read a few comments on your status update :(. Hate the spoilers. And a very interesting account of the fetus. I always wondered what they thought and felt. And, can they really smell odors in there? It is such an unexplored realm that you took on — the world of a fetus.

    Nicely written! The twist was awesome, if only I had not known it :).

    Reply
  14. Ruchira

    Well Done ! Ohh so well done ! This was one end I was not expecting ! The description of captivity was mesmerizing. I could actually feel the discomfort of the captive !
    You are back and how :)

    Reply
  15. Amit

    Beautifully written Rickie. Halfway through the story I knew exactly where you were going because I have had a similar discussion with the gassy lady a few weeks back.

    Reply
  16. Roshni

    wow! Of course, I didn’t see that coming either. Yes, I fully concur that by the last trimester, both parties are completely fed up!

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      It shall remain an eternal mystery to men as to how women can do this – bear 9 months of pregnancy, that is! I think if men could get pregnant, most would just kill themselves after the first month!
      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  17. Shyama

    Ha haa… shall I tell you the truth? …. you will like to kill me…. it sounded like the Om shaanti om scene where Om kapoor (SRK) was told that you are deaf dumb and lame and then they have the dard-e-disco song because everything is Okay with OK…..So finally, e
    very thing is Okay with RK…..God bless you!!

    Reply
      1. Shyama

        Waise I wish all the best ….why then people think otherwise.
        Tabhi main sochu gurgaon ke raastey maine gaaddhey kaha se aaye……RK is doing all the digging.

        Reply
  18. Pankti Mehta

    To be honest, after reading the entire story, I was speechless for few minutes. The climax was totally unexpected (I was expecting terrorists and you gave me a mother :P) and then on hindsight, I found the way the baby was thinking hilarious

    Reply
    1. Rickie Khosla Post author

      I had a great time writing the juicy plot twist on this one! What’s a story if it doesn’t make the reader speechless for a few moments – whether in happiness or anger! :D
      Hopefully, you liked the unexpected (anti) climax!

      Reply
  19. Rafaa Dalvi (@TheWittyKid)

    Brilliant work Rickie. The image at the start and the title made me think I’m about to read a prison tale. The climax was totally unexpected. I read the story again to realize its brilliance. It’s like when you watch The Sixth Sense again knowing its climax and you get your mind blown the second time. Kudos.

    Reply

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