Thursday March 21st, 2013

The exercise:

Write about: the prison.

Away on a road trip, so this is a scheduled post.


The wide, sandy plain holds little of interest to outsiders. No bodies of water to make a crossing easier, no rumours of buried treasure to make exploration worthwhile. The nearest city is a day's journey by car - or at least it would be, had anyone bothered to construct a road between the two points.

It does have one feature, however, that has been the subject of many muted conversations over the years: a slender tower carved from rocks of unknown origin reaches for the sky from the very center of the desolate expanse. Out of sight, but not out of mind, it also burrows deep into the earth.

There, beyond the reach of sunlight and fresh air, the prisoners are held in cramped cells. One man or woman per room, no exercise time, no interaction with anyone other than his or her assigned guard. The food is tasteless at its best, rotting at its worst.

The only way to escape this existence is simple: death.


g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Whilst abroad life goes on, and the time came around to pick my classes for the current Spring semester. I knew I had to take a theory class, and I had some requirements to take care of, and somewhere in browsing the list I spotted something.

"Russian Prison Literature."

And I figured, I'm in the Czech Republic, I'm taking a class on daily life under Communist rule, part of the other side of it might be interesting.

And it is. But there are some things that are both funny and slightly annoying about it.

The funny thing is that it's a Monday-Wednesday class, 830-10. It'd be even funnier if it was in the building's basement classroom.

The annoying thing is a little more complicated. Much Russian literature that I've come across is on the longer end. This isn't inherently frustrating, but what is frustrating is the amount of detail the professor requires in the write-ups, which requires detailed notes on my part. Such detailed notes require much slower reading than I'm used to doing. So from this I've concluded that while it probably takes a long time to write the Russian Novel, it takes almost as long to read it.

Greg said...

@g2: Russian prison literature certainly sounds interesting, and given their long history of imprisoning their intellectuals (in the 20th centure at least) is probably more worthwhile that many other cultures'. As for it being long to read... well, it's not like there was that much to do in the long winter evenings up there at the top of the world, I guess?

@Marc: I'm catching up :) You have a fascinating tower there, with some very unfortunate prisoners. I guess you're going with eternal punishment rather than re-education and release back into society? I wonder if they make the prisoners walk to their prison too? And I wonder who've you've imprisoned there...!

The prison
It was a quantum prison, for a number of reasons that generally surprised people. There was the odd mathematician that would nod sagely, understanding instantly from the name, but they were few and far between. And at least one of them was in the quantum prison, as Lissajous was now aware. The prison was quantum because it was an isolated state, the small possible discrete unit that could be a prison. It was quantum because it was capable of existing in superposition with itself, thus allowing for the entrapment of an infinite number of prisoners in very little space. And it was quantum because of the guard's insistent question to all who would try and leave: Quantus? How much?
Lissajous frowned at the court documents. It was clear that they should have been redacted, but someone had missed doing so, and now they were filed away, on the shelves, for someone like him to come along and read them. And see for themselves exactly how to locate the quantum prison.

MosesMalone said...

“They took away my wife. They took away my dog; really, he was the only living thing I actually liked anymore. Sadly, he was giving to my youngest daughter, Karen. When Karen was 7, she was punished for trying to set fire to our old dog, Grisley. I have 4 other ungrateful kids that Manny could have lived with, but Karen’s 7-year-old daughter really wants Manny. Maybe I should write about Manny’s prison of torture instead of my going to prison. What else? I won’t have the sanctuary of my workshop anymore. It has been my church for as long as I can remember. They are my grandfathers hand planes that his father-in-law gave him. I have been offered a great deal of money for our 18th century heirloom lathe. No amount of money in the world could ever be tempting enough to erase the memories of making table legs with my Pa. I have in turn made more legs than I can remember. Once, I made legs for a beautiful Queen Ann table that I gave to Pa’s niece who emigrated from Ireland. Pa was already dead and so was his brother; neither ever had enough money to ever see each other again once Pa immigrated. That lathe was the very first piece of America this family ever owned. None of my son’s woodwork. Their mother, my Darla, was a stickler for education, has consequently put them in a world where they “Hire People.” My hand planes, Diston saws, Lei-Nelson chisels, lathe, and 150-year-old workbench are going to be sold at auctions to goddamn collectors of antique tools and fine woodworking tools. Sonofabitch, I used to be bigger than these little shits; if I were still, I’d beat the living daylights out of each and every one of them – even the girls for selling to those goddamn useless collectors. Just give them away to someone who could use them. I don’t care if a 19-year-old kid opens damn paint cans with my rare and valuable 18th century James Cam chisels; at least they will be used for their intended purpose – work. As a matter of fact, bake me one of those fine chisels in a cake so can slit my wrists in prison. Retirement Homes – goddamn ungrateful yuppie bastard children.”

MosesMalone said...

*Lie-Nielsen. That's a typo that needs fixing. Sorry.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

MosesMalone: Zark's fish, that broke my heart. Very bitter, a lovely job.

MosesMalone said...

Wow! Thank you, g2. That made me so happy, but I don't know what zarks fish is. Lol.

Marc said...

g2 - I think I'd have a hard time passing that course up as well :)

Greg - good to see you get all caught up, long before I do :P

Like the idea of a quantum prison, really like the way you explained it.

Mo - fantastically written. So much emotion, and the details just bring it all to life. Great work!