The Realm of Reliability – Room 101

this is in response to M’s fabulous prompts which you can see here.  These used to be 101 words.  Sometimes they still are.  Sometimes not.  They are often snippets, occasionally unfinished and sometimes simply the beginnings of something for another time.  Mostly though they are just whatever the words inspire


He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling watching the shadows give way slowly to the first rays of daylight.  He was cold, the threadbare blanket barely covered him, and his head felt foggy.  Looking about the room he could pick out only the bed where he lay and a small table on the opposite wall on which sat a number of dog eared books and some scraps of paper.

The pale light seeped through the small slit of a window high up in the wall and as he became accustomed to the darkness he could pick out the feint outline of a door.  He rubbed his eyes and tried to remember but there was nothing there. No recollection of where he was or why.  Or even who.  All that existed was this moment and nothing more.

He swung his feet out of bed and onto the cold concrete floor and draped the blanket around his shoulders.  Stretching out a hand towards the wall behind the bed he felt the same cold dampness that he could feel in his bones. 

“Hello?” He shouted into the darkness as he shuffled towards where he thought he could make out the door.  No response came as he searched for a handle but there was none.  The door was a cold metal and he raised a fist and banged on it but it was so heavy that it was barely audible.

“Is anyone there?” He shouted again.  There was no response.  He repeated the process but something inside told him it would be of no use, something familiar, and he made his way back over to the table and pulled out a rickety wooden chair and sat down.

He pushed the books and old newspapers to one side and with his head in his hands, searched in the confusion of his mind for something to hold onto but It was like trying to grasp fog, and everything just seemed to slip through his fingers and into darkness. 

Breathing deep he closed his eyes as distant sounds began to float towards him.  Fists clenched he focussed and between breaths he could make out the sounds of children laughing.  They were distant and feint, but familiar too. And there was a knot in his stomach as they became louder.  He heard a name called out.  “Marie”.  Quite clear and distinguishable and then like the voices it slipped through his grasp.

He mouthed her name as the room grew lighter, memories stirring, and reached for the newspapers.   They were old, yellowing and brittle and the headlines swam before his eyes.  He traced a shaking finger below the words and felt his body begin to shake as they formed pictures in his mind.  He had been here before though, he had felt this disconnect, this familiar nothingness.

“She was only 7 years old” he muttered to himself.  His breathing quickened as he continued to read and somewhere in his mind there flickered an ember of remembering.  Names once known now clear and faces familiar appeared through the thick fog and each word he read fanned the embers into flames.

“Oh god” he said to himself turning quickly to the inside pages to continue reading.  His hands trembled and his mouth was dry.  He knew her.  Or maybe he knew of her.  No, he definitely knew her.

The dark unspeakable deeds on the pages formed images in his head, as clear as day, and unable to continue reading he closed his eyes and heard what he knew was not laughter but a panicked mother calling out.

He pushed himself away from the table, heart pounding, eyes wide.  It couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t.  He told himself that he would never do those things, that it wasn’t him, that she was only a child and that he would never do that to a child.   But he knew that he had.

“No” he screamed and lashed out sending the books and papers spilling across the floor.  Turning to the door he threw himself against the cold metal and pounded it with a fist.  “I didn’t do it, I didn’t” he protested, but he knew that he had.  He had done every single one of those vile acts described in the pages of the newspaper and more.

He slumped to the floor and curled into the foetal position.  All the fog that had clouded his mind was lifted and he remembered everything.  Her face, her name, the things he had done and over and over, this room.  Memories vivid and clear and a madness gripped him as a voice flooded the room.

“Good morning Walter” it said calmly.  “I see you have remembered.”

 “I didn’t do it “ he shouted sitting up, “it wasn’t me.  You have the wrong person.”  He knew what was to come though and wild eyed stared up towards the light as it streamed through the small barred window.

“Denial is no defence Walter” the voice continued. “Acceptance is the first step to repentance.  Sleep well Walter, tomorrow we will try again…”