The lamp lay in shattered, jagged bits on the floor, scattered into the far corners of the world.
He couldn’t remember his dreams from the night before, but he knew he had done it. The shade was torn, too. Slashed vertically in a dozen places with a knife that had since disappeared.
Before that it had been a smashed pot plant, soil, leaves and all. Before that, a half-full Chinoiserie tea cup hurled at the wall. A snapped broom handle. Once, it had even been a rat, its head severed by a bloody boning knife that had still been there on the table in the morning. Whether the rat was dead to begin with, he didn’t know.
The experiment had been over for two weeks now. Whatever they had done to him, his memories, he knew it had worked. After years in that horrid facility, of which he could remember nothing but The White – white walls, white-clad doctors, white meals, white water, white dreams – he’d finally been set free.
Yet here he was, a prisoner in his own home. Afraid to leave. Unsure how to interact with the world. He could cross the borders into another country or jump on a plane or drive off in his car or even… it didn’t matter. He wouldn’t do any of it. He would stay and wait.
The worst of it all was that he didn’t know why.
Every few days, he tried something new. Jumping off the balcony. Shooting himself in the chest with his six shooter. Piping a hose from the exhaust into his car. And every time, it failed. The flight from the balcony ended in no blood, no broken bones.
The gunshots had hurt a little, as if someone had slugged him in the gut. But that was all. The force had hurled him backwards, into the kitchen cupboards, and afterwards he’d only scrambled up again and made himself a cup of tea, kicking the gun to the side as he did so.
And the last time, well… wasn’t that fruitful? He’d sat there for over an hour, waiting, humming a B.B. King tune and tapping his fingers against the steering wheel. Wondering it if he’d gone about it wrong or if the hose had somehow become loose. But as the space filled with fumes, he began to get excited. Here we go, he thought. After an hour and a bit, he’d simply gotten bored and gone back inside.
He put the kettle on the stove now as Mash, his cat, coiled about his legs, pawing at his skin under the pyjama pants. He was sure they were watching him now, spying on his every move through hidden lenses throughout his apartment.
Perhaps even Mash was a spy, meowing messages back to them in code. He looked down at the butcher’s knife in the dish rack and realised he had had enough. His tricks were never going to work. He knew that they could hurt him, but he wasn’t sure how when he couldn’t even hurt himself.
‘I’m ready for the next stage, you swines!’ he shouted up into the ceiling. ‘Did you hear me? Give me whatever you got!’
For effect, he smashed something else to the floor: the cutlery tray. It clattered on the wooden floorboards, knives and forks scattering. ‘I’m ready! Come and get me, you bastards!’
There was a knock at the door.
The Prompt: Write a 500-word fiction piece based on a mundane, inanimate object. The truth? There are no mundane objects in fiction. This prompt is part of the series: The Inanimate Object Chronicles.
(Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net / olovedog (lamp) and Vlado (cat))