George Zancola

Darkness and Her Work

They upped the bed and slid you into the slicer. You became like stars of flesh. Darkness did it to prove you were not a real man. If you had testicles like a real man, then Darkness was still nastier. The doors were locked and the windows barred. There was no way to escape. Darkness would cut off your testicles if you tried to get away.

Electricity went into your head from the radio. The television was always on. The television sent x-rays through your body, from the top down. You would rot from the inside out because of the x-rays and the bad electricity.

You couldn’t see to protect yourself. Darkness stole your eyes at night. She kept them in a box behind a locked door. Only she had the key. She put your eyes back inside your head in the morning.

You were asleep and the lights went on. They glared like headlamps. Darkness roamed the wards looking for a victim. She yelled to make everyone go to breakfast. Then she made everyone go to the room in the basement.

In the basement, everyone talked, laughed, and cried. Darkness came and yelled again and told everyone to shut up. Then she made everyone talk again, but one at a time, and only about themselves.

The food was poisoned. Microchips from the food went into your brain, and sent messages to Darkness’ radio. She always knew what you were thinking, and if you were thinking free.

One day I decided to think free, no matter what Darkness did. I stood on a chair and thought my own thoughts out loud. I didn’t care if Darkness would try to keep me from thinking free. I told everyone about the microchips.

Her helpers grabbed me and held me to the floor. I could feel the alcohol on my skin, and the poison going into me. They said they were going to cut off my testicles, so I shut up. I was scared. I became quiet, and I couldn’t move.

The lunch bell rang, and I didn’t go to the cafeteria. I was going to starve myself and get rid of the microchips. I was going to think free all the time. I was glad that after so many years I could still fight them.

In the night they took another person away. They upped his bed and put him into the slicer. Then they brought someone else. The helpers said to one another they should cut off his testicles. One of them said not to cut off his testicles because he could still be of use to them.

There was a machine to fire up your brain in the basement. Once you were fired up you would forget what you saw and heard. Darkness fired someone up every day.
At night, she pulled a switch to make you fall asleep. In the morning she pulled a switch to wake you up. Then she put your eyes back in your head. One morning, Darkness talked to me about thinking free, and not eating. She said I couldn’t think free. She said I had to eat.

Darkness kept my thoughts written down, all of them. She told me if I would think free I’d be fired up in the basement. She left me and I went upstairs. I sat in the lounge. I put a shield over me for protection from the bad electricity. I wondered how rotten I was inside from the years I spent in this place.

The helpers came and gave me two more pills, and some water. They said the pills would make the poison work better. They made me open my mouth to see if I swallowed them.

I could only see the trees outside through the barred windows. I walked away from the lounge, and down the hallway I could see a tree through an open door. This tree was beautiful.

A man was working at the door. He was nailing, and drilling. There were no helpers anywhere. I moved close to the door to smell the outside. I moved slowly. The outside was wonderful. The door was steel, and thick, but it was open. I moved next to the door. The man didn’t say anything.

I stepped past him, into the outside, and he still didn’t say anything. The man didn’t stop me, and I kept walking. I could feel the wind against my skin. The wind was cool. I wanted to cry. I kept walking. I was afraid they would come to get me. I walked faster. I walked through the front gate and into the street. I walked further. A man listened to a radio. They said my name on it.

Darkness knew I was missing. She was looking for me. She couldn’t use her gadgetry to find me because I had no microchips in me. I had none. I stopped eating Darkness’ food. I walked into a park. There were other people walking with radios. They were scanning for me.

Then I heard the choppers. I knew Darkness was looking down from the sky above to find me. One chopper flew low, and I dove deeper into the bushes. The pilot came closer, trying to find me. I looked up through some undergrowth, and I could see Darkness in the cockpit, in the pilot’s seat. She was foaming at the mouth. I always knew that she was insane.

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About the Author

George Zancola is a writer of short stories and poems focusing on marginalized experiences. His writing has been published previously in Wordgathering, Breath & Shadow, the Humber Literary Review, the Nothing Without Us Anthology, Open Minds Quarterly, and various InkWell Writers Group anthologies. George lives in Toronto, and is working on his first novel, The Set Up. He is also finishing up a volume of short stories entitled Hey Beethoven!