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Trip to the SHU

Two nobles appeared. They tended the herd; they kept the herd together behind the chain link and razor wire fences. They were there to keep and protect the members of the herd from each other. Moreover, they were there to protect the herd that roamed free outside the fence.

The nobles took him from one cell, to another. The two nobles, who hobbled him, took him to see the wizard. They wanted the wizard to inspect the old one’s wounds. The old-one walked across the compound to see a wizard. He watched the young one, free of fetters or hobbles crossing the compound to his appointed place.

The old-one felt the eyes of the herd bearing down on him. He walked upright, and proud. The nobles prodded him along and asked him the same old questions they had asked everyone who had been in a battle. The same ones they had asked without meaning a million times before. The old-one listened, he had his pride, and he vowed he would not speak to anyone. The old-one didn’t need to speak or tell the story. The common tongue of the herd would tell the nobles what happened before the sun rose again. All those who witnessed the event would tell all, and the young and strong would prevail.

The old-one, herded to a segregation cell, and locked in. He removed his garments and put on an old, tattered, and worn-out orange jumpsuit. His bedding sheets and blanket towels were tattered ripped and dyed an odd color of orange. He was now locked in a cell alone; the cell was cold, smelledof foul sweats and bodies of unwashed animals. The floors, walls, ceiling, everything was dirty from daily use, and only vain attempts to clean these cells was attempted and, none of the attempts had ever been successful.

As the old-one settled into his solitary cell and listened to the cacophony of bellows from the animals around him who were also in their own cells.The old-one sat in his despair listening to the myriad of voices, each one tryingto dominate rest. The old-one sat, he pondered, and he watched the sun set into the west. The old-one knew that he too was like the sun. He thought he had shined brightly once, even if it was for only a brief moment in time. Now like the sun, he was slowly sinking out of sight. However, the sun would rise once more tomorrow. The old-one had his doubts if he would rise again to start a day anew. The old-one began to feel the stirrings of long lost and forgotten emotions. These feelings, they soon passed, but no doubt, they left in their wake a dire memory. The old-one did not mind the solitude of his cell; he sat in silence, his mind frozen in thought, he waited to see if a new day would arrive.

The old-one lay down; his mind quiet, his eyes closed, he listened to the animals as they bellowed gibberish at each other. He didn’t understand the gibberish; he could not understand what they were saying. The old-one knew without a doubt; he had died a little more that day. In addition, the nobles, well the nobles would continue their march just as they had done a million times before.

The old-one, jostled from his sleep by the sound of sabers rattling, the scraping, and the clanking of metal against metal, and steel against steel. The old one’s head began to clear that sound that awoke him; it was not the sound of sabers. Just the familiar sound of keys the nobles used to locked and unlocked doors used to feed the animals just as they did 3 times a day, every day of the year, since the doors to the prison, flew open, just as they might have done a million times before.

It surprised him that he had awakened. He lay swathed in the ragged bed linen. His body ached from long forgotten traumas and the new trauma from the abuse of the young rouge. The old-one stretched and moved to dissipate some of the pain, but some pain he felt would never go away. The old-one reached for his cane to help him rise. He took comfort in the cane, the gnarled surface worn smooth by the hands of many who had used it before the wizards gave it to him.

The old-one ate the gruel in small bites, hoping to no avail that the taste would improve with the next bite. He looked at the gruel, and then at the rack where he had slept, it was so quiet he could hear himself breathe. He rose, walked to the rack, fell into the crumpled, tattered and disheveled bed linen, there he laid, his eyes staring into nothingness and his mind blank. He would again try to sleep.

The old-one woke to hear; the nobles shouting, the animals in the herd bellowing, the clatter of keys, the banging of doors, doors unlocked and locked, the nobles feeding the herd a noonday meal. Where had the day gone he asked himself. The noonday meal a lump of potato, bread, a morsel of cheese, and chickory to drink, the meal, was as cold as the heart of a crone. He tasted and picked at the food, he could not partake of the food. The old-one waited until the nobles picked up the trays before he returned to his rack.

The old-one awoke once more, the sun shedding its light through the barred window. The blazing brightness of the light hurt the old one’s eyes. He shielded his eyes as he stood he picked up the plastic cup and walked to the sink he filled the cup with water from the faucet to quench his thirst. The tepid stale water only added to his melancholy. He took another drink of water and swallowed. This stale drink would only cure the physical thirst he had. The mental thirst, parched dry, dry as sun baked bleached bone in a desert that thirst might never be quenched.