Here’s the latest for Monday Flash Fics:
My Object All Sublime
By Jeff Baker
Jimmy stood in the office, his hands at his sides, trying not to be nervous. The man behind the desk was reading a report out loud.
“Disobedience. Slacking off on a work detail, showing disrespect to officers. You’re what? Twenty-eight?”
“Twenty-nine, Sir,” Jimmy said.
“You’ve been here three years. You should know the rules by now.”
The man paused and pushed a small bowl across the desk towards Jimmy.
“Here,” the man said.
Jimmy took a deep breath and reached out for the dish. In it was a small, flat rectangle wrapped in foil. Jimmy unwrapped the foil and popped what appeared to be a flat piece of chocolate into his mouth. It tasted like chocolate, only tangy and bitter. Jimmy chewed and swallowed.
The nausea hit him at the same time as the pounding headache. Jimmy didn’t even remember falling down.
“Take this man back to his cell,” Jimmy heard, as if from a distance. He knew what was going on; what he’d taken was an encephalic reaction tablet. It had a long chemical name, but everyone called them “punish-mints.” He wasn’t really sick; his brain was just making him react as if he was. The trick was not to think about anything, clear his head.
“Don’t think about the work crew,” he thought. “Don’t think about picking potatoes. Don’t think about your sunburn. Don’t think about your churning stomach. Don’t think about not thinking. C’mon, Jimbo, make your mind a blank!”
He was dimly aware of one of the guards pulling him to his feet and making him stagger out the door. He saw the window where a few days ago he’d stood waiting to get into the showers and stared across the yard at the other cellblock. He glanced down and saw the band of chain tattooed on his left forearm with the sign for infinity above it—“duration permanent” it meant. He about fell over. Don’t think, just walk.
“Hey, I got him, okay?” The familiar voice, Ron. He’d been Jimmy’s cellmate for the last two years. The new regime had convicted both of them. Jimmy kept his eyes tightly shut, his head was swimming, he felt himself being handed over to someone else.
“Just lean on me, buddy. I got you. Just relax,” Ron said.
Jimmy forced his mind to become a blank as Ron half-guided, half-dragged him down the landing from the Captain’s office to their cell. Jimmy noticed a change in the sounds from the cell house to the small, steel-walled room they shared about fourteen hours a day. He opened one eye. The nausea was subsiding, but the glimpse made his head hurt worse.
Ron laid Jimmy down on the bottom bunk. Jimmy usually slept in the top bunk, but this was easier.
“Just relax, buddy,’ Ron said. “You’ll feel better in about four hours.”
Ron walked over to shut the steel door; it would automatically latch, locking them in until breakfast. Ron walked back and kissed Jimmy on the forehead.
Jimmy smiled. He was trying to keep his mind a blank, but all he could think of was Ron.