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Gheritt White had been floating six feet off the floor for
three weeks. His feet and hands tingled, and his eyes burned
with the flames of a dying fire. He had last heard someone
speak to him as the cell door slammed shut. He didn't
remember what the uniformed man had said. The words had
bounced off the bars of the cell and rang through Gheritt's
ears. Gheritt had been talking to himself for the last few
minutes, something about getting caught, but then his ears
began to tingle just like his hands.
He looked at his hands, but the fire in his eyes made him
blink. Tears came, and when he opened his eyes again, his
hands had been melted into fleshy pancakes that wafted in the
ripples flowing over the fire in his eyes.
"Damn cell," he heard someone say. "Last time I had a good
meal was three days ago. The food they feed you in here could
kill a lab rat."
Rats. He had remembered something about rats. But his ears
began to ring again and the voice speaking to him faded off
into the background of his mind. In its place, there was a
new sound, the clapping of hands together. He blinked hard to
made out his hands again. They had disappeared; his arms
connected at the wrists.
He thought back to the time he went ice skating on a pond. He
remembered the sound of his skates on ice, a gentle scrapping.
Scrapping away now inside his ears, trying to tear down his
thoughts. There had been a woman with a white fur tube over her
hands. Her wrists were like his now. The wrists of
someone who had tried too many times to clap his hands. He
had been applauding everyone else in life, but never himself.
The hands, like himself, had been put into prison, and he
didn't know why.
"Can't sleep in here, if the smell of this musty bedroll
doesn't make you sick, then the sound of the rats chewing
inside the walls will keep you up. You'll wake up from your
dreams to their little chomping. Sometimes I think that they
are chewing me..." The voice was coming from inside the cell,
but Gheritt couldn't see anyone.
Gheritt hadn't always been alone, he could vaguely recall from
somewhere inside his broken mind that there had been friends,
He recalled a theory he had come up with after a bloody
schoolhouse brawl. The theory was simple. At some point in
time, everyone was a murderer. Whether or not they ever felt
remorse, they had all wanted someone dead. Hatred. Everyone
knew the feeling of hatred. Gheritt had known hatred on that
schoolyard. His beater had laughed at their bloody faces, a
laugh which now echoed through his ears, rhythmically blocking
out the other voice in the cell.
The schoolyard was usually a place where Gheritt and his
friends would play football or foursquare or something, but
today, there was an edge. Maybe everyone had eaten cereal
with milk that was about to go bad, or maybe there was too
much smoke in the air from the wheeling hubcap factory.
Football had been extremely rough. Gheritt had gone to play
foursquare after he got tackled by five boys who weren't his
friends. But today, even foursquare had an evil twist. The
top square today had become habituated to making fun of the
first square. Gheritt had decided that it was an evil day.
When his beater started to push him around, he exploded.
Hatred flowed from his eyes, his hands and feet began to
tingle. All of his coordination left him, and his face was
beaten to a bloody mess. The schoolyard disciplinarian had
been slow to notice the ensuing carnage, and she didn't really
Gheritt would have killed him if he could have. He would have
torn out the eyes of his beater. He would have made him pay
for his abuses. But his hands had begun to tingle. He
couldn't feel his feet and he had begun to float off the
Everyone was a murderer, but Gheritt couldn't remember his
reason for why that was so. He thought it was something about
hands, the passion for justice. His hands and feet had begun
to tingle, and he was floating farther off the floor. He
looked up from his hands, and he saw the bars of the cell,
moving left and right, opening wide and then closing shut
like the surf coming up a beach. Every time that he thought
he would be safe, the bars crested up, the opening closing,
the wave rising, crashing. The result would be the same, he
would never escape. The bars would crush him, break his back.
He could feel the roughness of the sand under his palms, for
all the motion of the waves around him, his hands had come to
rest serenely upon the ocean floor. His body tossed and
flipped, pivoting about his hands under which he could feel
the safe, coarse sand. The wave crashed one final time, he
landed upside down, his hands thrown clear from the sandy
bottom, the rush of the water filling his ears, his nose, his
mouth, the sound of crashing water cascading down from his
feet to his head- penetrating his mind to tear down thoughts.
Like the sand castle he had built to withstand the tide, his
thoughts came down around him.
Gheritt had a good life, so much time, so much time. He had
loved swimming, turning, beating. He had loved the tingle in
his hands and feet, his inability to kill his nemesis. Once
he had fallen down the stairs, and just for a moment, his
hands came to rest on the carpet of the stairs. In that
instant, his body had frozen, floating over the stairs, safe
from falling, but the moment didn't last. The ocean crashed
about him, his hands torn free from the sandy bottom, his body
But now he levitated farther up, his hands still tingling. He
began to float through the bars, he expected the instant of
safety as his hands found footing, but that moment did not
come, the bars squeezed his body. His chest tingled. As he
fell through his cage, his legs tingled. The fire in his eyes
had become a cold wind, he blinked away tears. He tumbled
through the bars, spinning and turning, he could see a man.
In his hand he saw a small white rat. A pounding, the
crashing waves in his ears became rhythmical, hard. The man
was beating the rat against the floor. Pounding, pounding.
Blood covered his hands, the man's hands tingled. He had
broken them on the floor of the cell. Disciplinarian, lover,
murderer. Gheritt looked back into the cell. He saw himself,
disciplinarian, lover, murderer. He had killed his nemesis.
The rat lay dead in his bloody hands. At last, he held the
throat of his beater.
He escaped into the waves.
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