Un Prisonnier, a short story by Lemex. Date added: 2008-08-24. Times viewed: 1149.
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- Intro: In a jail cell late at night, you can hear him. He is trying to drive a poor man mad.
- I wake every morning with the bed sheets clinging to my sweaty body. I had another dream last night, or nightmare. Somehow, in this place the two things seem to be one and the same. Both are just a weapon employed to drive you to madness. The day is my only rest. The only rest any of us get in this wing. Wing C in Fresnes Prison near Paris has became our much loved home, despite the fact we are confined to a cell just a little larger than a water closet. It may sound crazy to some one not in the same position as I, but when you are given your inmate number, washed, de-loused and given your uniform, you are no longer a man, no longer a human being, but more a caged rat with a little more intelligence and the thumbs which to turn the Hand Crank, a task that gets harder every day. The work makes my bones ache and my hands bleed.
Even the vermin under my bed have the freedom to move around, move in and out of this cell as they please; I however, barely have the freedom to think for myself in here with these four walls around me.
Every time I wake up, I curse the old me, who lived in my past life. If I had known prison life was to be like this, I would not have committed the act that brought me here and doomed me to this; I killed a man. It was a poor shop owner on the Rue de Rivoli in central Paris. I hate my old self for being so careless with the liberty he once had on the outside for now his world has shrunk; now his neighbour may be a another murderer. Maybe he wishes something dark upon me, or simply pities me for having the cell that I have been placed in.
Something that I suspect could usher pity from the most cold hearted of men.
I still remember that day. When I was given my number, I merely passed it off, like a man on the outside would pass off a beggar's plea for money. I had not realised that it was then, at that moment, I ceased being Jean Carters, but simply number 44271. It was also on that terrible night I had my first encounter with Le Famtome, the thing that has made my world so unfriendly, so cold.
I can hear him now, at this very minute. He is looking at me though his ghostly eyes. The more I try to ignore him, the more I feel his presence; feel his stare of silent accusation all the way from the realm of the dead. I know I must not look at him, for the sake of my own weary mind, I know this, yet I always feel inclined too. It is always a grave mistake.
At first, I did not believe the other inmates' story. Of course, how could I? How could I believe it? It was legendary throughout the jail, the spectre, 'Le Famtome.' The outline of a man who stands in the corner of your cell, watching. The sound of his sobbing filled the entire wing, giving it a dark, unsettling atmosphere that seams to curse everyman who dwells within it to sleepless nights, making a cold shiver of fear run along his skin.
It is said that the one unlucky enough to be put into Le Famtome's cell never lasts a week before he is driven mad from sleep deprivation, and the actions of the horrid spectre. That is, if you could truly call them actions at all.
Oh what a cruel fate.
That night I knew, however, that the legend was true. I am after all, the unlucky one who has been forced to live in Le Famtome's cell. The one punished to endure sleepless nights for if I'm not kept up by the sound of sobbing, I am soon woken up by the nightmares I suffer, making me weak physically, making the food more disgusting than it should be. The times I can sleep, I suffer appalling nightmares of places so terrible I fear to imagine them. Burning infernos, chaotic mazes that seem to change at each turn into something stranger, more maddening than anything the moral eye should see. Every time I dream, I wonder alone. I dreamed tonight of a great labyrinth, like the one in the ancient mythological tale of the Minotaur, and a mad man follows me, stalking my every move, calling out threats of violence that scare me now as I hear them ringing in my ears.
As the tale goes, from what I heard from the other inmates, Le Famtome was once a man who was imprisoned for murder back when the jail was first built in the year 1898. He received his things; shoes, number, uniform like everyone else who comes in here, and walked into his cell like every other average prisoner on the wing. However, when the morning came and guards came to inspect the inmates of C wing, the man, Le Famtome, had simply disappeared. When the warden heard and came to investigate, there was no trace of him found. All the guards where stunned, horrified, no one could begin to imagine how he escaped, and after a lengthy search of the jail grounds, they found no trace of him. Everyone was baffled and after a lengthy investigation, the guards still had not found anything, no trace of him at all aside from a bloody tooth of the molar region.
Just what had happened to him?
It had everyone in the prison stumped and the incident was never reported to the papers. When ever any of the old inmates talked about it, nobody on the outside believed them and the case was quickly forgotten about. The Prison did not want the embarrassment of the case brought to light. The Jail's dark secret was kept safe within its own high stone walls.
Just what happened to him? I wonder. Did he escape? Did the man live on? Nobody knows, but I can still feel him, or whom ever Le Famtome really is, staring straight at me. I turn myself around to look at him. The empty, hollow, outline of the man is staring back. I shout at it but it makes no reaction. No flinch at all, but the sobbing sound gets a little louder. Like it is trapped eternally between the realms of the living and the dead. Nothing moved after that, and only the light beams shining in from the ghostly white, cracked vision of the moon outside seamed to be alive with me in this cell.
Dated 1907 - Jean Carter - Inmate 44271
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