Time and Place – Chapter 22

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By the end of Darian’s first day in prison he found himself beaten to a bloody pulp. It was not the prisoners who had attacked him; he had not actually interacted with any of the other prisoners by that point. Instead, it was the guards who decided to deal out punishment.

It started out with something so innocent. He had smiled at one of the guards. He was trying to be polite and helpful. Being launched into space was incredibly exciting, and although the ship had no windows, he could just imagine the idea of a flying through space and landing on a space station.

The environment around him was new, the people he saw were new. It was almost a sensory overload, all the new and wonderful things that were so different from the white walls and monotonous room that he had spent so long in. The guards were chatting and being jovial, and the attitude reassured Darian, and filled him with a kind of silly giddiness.

So he smiled; this agitated one of the guards that was nearby, who glared at him and made a disparaging comment. Darian lost a lot of his subservient demeanor on the launch flight into space, and began to feel cocksure and confident once again. He responded playfully with good humor. This quickly caused the guards to become more angered, and before long he had four guards around him.

He didn’t know why he acted the way he did, but his instincts had, up to that point, always directed him in the right direction. So he went with his instincts. These instincts told him to push the guards, play with them, even mach them a little. He kept an insolent grin on his face as the guard continued to get angrier and angrier, up until a fist landed in his face, knocking him to the ground.

It would have been fine if it had ended there, but Darian, as a result of blindly following his instincts, hadn’t predicted exactly how angry he had made the guards by his jovialness and flippant tongue. Once on the ground, the four men began kicking him. Pain ripped through his ribs as he felt two of them crack, and then a third. Blows landed from every direction as the men continually stopped and kicked every part of his body.

He retained consciousness far longer than he should have. Perhaps the year of torture had made him more resilient to pain, or perhaps he was just very unlikely, but he regretted that he was awake for most of the beating. Compared to the pain of his torture sessions, which he admitted it had been many months since he last experienced those, the pain was only minor.

The bluntness of being struck was almost reassuring in a way, compared to a pain that seemed to come from inside and outside of his body at the same time. However, when he had been tortured, after the pain subsided he recovered pretty much intact. There was a whole other level of terror when the damage being done was a bit more substantial and potentially permanent.

When Darian finally did lose consciousness, most likely from the lack of blood if anything, he woke up a week later in a surprisingly comfortable bed. Of course, every part of his body hurt. He had broken 4 ribs, a leg, and bruised just about every part of his body. The guards involved, he would later find out, were heavily reprimanded for the behavior, but faced no other repercussions than that.

Other than Darian’s unprisoner like attitude, he could not remember what he said that had triggered them to act in such a way. He could also not understand why his instincts had led him into such an obvious folly. He felt stupid for having done what he did, but for some reason felt like he had no other choice but to do that.

He would need to be more careful. He could now see how easily his new found ability could lead him astray. That last folly had almost killed him. It was another two weeks before he was finally returned to his cell. It appeared that he shared the cell with Devin still. It wasn’t much bigger than the room they had been in before.

One of the most noticeable changes was the lack of a bathroom. Instead, there was simply a small commode in the back that offered little to no privacy. The walls were grey now, instead of white, a metallic clor that seemed to be the natural color of whatever the material the prison was made out of. The lighting was less than that of the room they had been in at the laboratory, the room allowing more shadows and shade from a single light source outside of the cell. The greatest change, of course, was one less wall that was instead replaced by a a set of bars.

To Darian, this made all of the difference. To be able to see the outside world of his cell, even if it just looked into the cells on the other side of the hallway, almost felt liberating in comparison. Darian grimaced in pain, holding his side.

“You look worse every day, I’m starting to worry,” Devin spoke up.

Darian chuckled, “Is that so? Well, no worries, they will take me to a doctor to be treated I think.”

Devin nodded, most likely taking Darian’s word as a declaration of the future. Darian walked to the bars in front of their cell, resting his arms on them, sighing slightly. The novelty of being in a cell would wear off soon, he suspected. He had only one choice, to escape from a prison that was considered inescapable.

He noticed the cell across from him was empty. For some reason this seemed to tug at his mind. Was it intuition? Predicting the future? He would need to get a better handle on his abilities; this was starting to become frustrating.

“I can’t seem to remember, the guy across from us, when was he last in his cell?” Darian asked carefully, coming up with the right wording.

“A few weeks ago I think, it has been a while, hasn’t it,” Devin responded, shrugging.

Darian nodded to himself. He would need to start wording questions that way with Devin in order to get the answers he needed. So someone would be in the cell across from them in two weeks. Would he transfer in? Or would he be a new prisoner? He didn’t suspect that Devin knew the answer.

He began thinking about ways to ask Devin what the man’s name was and what he looked like without revealing too much, when the answers to the unasked questions started echoing in his mind. The man’s name would be Beiromon. He couldn’t form an image of the man’s face, but he could form a verbal description of the man.

The man was older in years, with graying hair. He had large bushy sideburns, a hard face, with just a tad of haughtiness to it. Years in prison seemed to have worn his body down, giving him a straggly, lean appearance. He was a tall man, with a straight back and noble demeanor.

Darian shook his head. He hadn’t spoken to Devin, but those were the answers he could have gotten from Devin had he pressured him for them. Darian seem to know the answers to Devin’s questions before he had even asked his roommate. Darian didn’t realize he could do that.

Did he need to ask the questions then? What if he didn’t ask them? The answers wouldn’t suddenly disappear from his mind, because it didn’t happen?

His head started hurting. Whatever he could do, it was certainly complex. He wished he still had Phineas around so that he could ask him more about it. He was sure that Phineas would have had something both insightful and pointless to explain regarding Darian’s new found abilities.

After a few moments of not asking the question, the information remained in his head. Well, at least that answers one question. Darian wondered what other information he could ascertain from Devin without having to directly ask him. He turned to Devin, but realized he could not think of any questions to ask. Without an appropriate question, he wouldn’t get an appropriate answer.

It apparently wasn’t as useful to him as it could be right now, but perhaps he could use it on someone else, someone he did have questions for. Therefore, he sat back down and waited for lunch. When the guard came he thought of a question to ask the guard. It was nothing complex, just a simple question to test out the ability. The response was nothing.

Was the guard just going to meet him with silence? Why did the guard not answer his question? He figured that even a curt response should have been answered in his mind. After a few more moments of silence he became frustrated and decided to ask.

“What’s for lunch?” He began.

As soon as the words left his mouth, the answer slammed into his mind. Meat Pie. It was so simple. In fact, he wasn’t sure if the answer was there before or after he asked the question. It echoed in the guard’s voice, although Darian had never heard him speak before.

“Meat Pie,” The guard grunted in a raspy voice, pushing a tray through the bars in a grove designed for this task.

Darian nodded and took the food, but his mind worked furiously. As he tore open the meat pie from his plate using actual utensils; although flimsy blunted ones not exactly set for the task; he thought about what he has just experienced. The meat pie was absolutely delicious. Years of nothing but gruel, and then a slightly better tasting broth during the period of time he was sick, this had been the first true meal he had had in as long as he could remember.

He pushed his other thoughts to the back of his mind as he spent the time enjoying his meal, moaning with pleasure and enjoying each bite. The feast was over sooner than he would have liked, but he licked the plate to acquire every last crumb before sliding the plate back through the bars.

He hadn’t realized food could be that good. He couldn’t remember food ever having tasted better. If every meal was like this one, he could start to get used to prison. This caused him to chuckle a bit, he did remember that prison wasn’t exactly a desirable place to be, but he struggled to remember and fathom a world much bigger than the one he was already in.

Devin watched Darian eat with a raised eyebrow as he sat quietly,. Devin ate his food in the mess hall with the other prisoners, a privilege that Darian had yet to be a part of due to his rough arrival at the prison. He made no comment on Darian’s seeming enjoyment of this particular meal.

By that point, Darian felt he understood what had just happened with the guard. It seemed that he couldn’t predict the answer to someone’s questions unless he mentally committed to asking them. He couldn’t just think about asking a question, he had to plan to ask it, and then stop himself from asking it last moment, or ask it anyway already knowing the answer.

That was a pretty tricky thing to master. Unfortunately, he’d need to wait until dinner before he’d have another crack at a guard. Perhaps there were some questions he could ask Devin. It took him a few minutes to come up with one, and he almost immediately felt embarrassed for never having asked before.

“Your home, could you tell me about it?” Darian asked.

He had always assumed Devin had memory loss like he had, so he never realized that Devin might have a past he could talk about. He had always said he didn’t remember his past, but Darian was realizing their relationship was far more complicated than he had originally thought. After all, Devin’s past was the future… so would he remember where his home was, or where it would be. Either way, the answer began flowing into his mind before Devin started speaking it. Since this answer was a bit longer than the one he asked the guard, the information came gradually, giving him a strange since of Déjà vu as Devin finally spoke, the information running through Darian’s mind.

“Well…” Devin replied, seemingly surprised by Darian’s sudden interest,” That was a long time ago indeed…”

“D..” Darian stopped himself from interrupting Devin.

The question would have been ‘Do you remember your childhood yet?’; the answer would have been, ‘Of course I do.’ The answer flowed into his brain as soon as he set to ask it. This caused him a momentary headache as the events seemed to split in his brain.

Had Darian asked his question and interrupted his friend, Devin would have changed what he said, thus causing an odd kind of branch where Darian heard two different potential things Devin would have said based on what Darian did. This made Darian a tad nauseous; fortunately, the duality quickly went away as Devin continued to speak, oblivious to Darian’s ponderings.

“I know that you have memory problems,” Devin began, “and I suppose my mind isn’t what it used to be either. Between the two of us I don’t know who tends to get more confused!”

Devin chuckled and shook his head, but as Darian remained quiet he continued, “I grew up, and spent most of my life on a small planet called Achilles. The planet Achilles was part of the Arth Colony before the Tarren’s annexed them some two hundred years ago.”

“It’s a small farming planet. All of Arth was only one system. We have three habitable planets in the Arth system; Arth Prime, Achilles, and a moon called Chime.”

“My life grew up farming, plain and simple. However, every fifty years or so, some idiot kids get it in their heads that Arth should be free of the Taerren control. Talks of rebellion start spreading and eventually the Taerren’s make an example. My son…”

Devin stopped and cringed a bit, a small tear forming at the side of his eye. Darian had never known that he had a son. Almost two years stuck in a room with him and it almost was like he barely knew the old man.

After a moment he raised his head, his eyes growing resolute, “He got in with the wrong crowd was all. I’m proud to be Taerren. Arth has been a part of Taerra for 200 years, and while no Arth hold any Noble houses, we have been treated fair enough. It could certainly be worse, like the outer colonies. Soen. That was my son’s name. You remember that name, will you? He was a good boy, but he threw it away.”

Devin tightened his fist tightly, shaking it at Darian, “You remember him, Soen.”

Darian nodded his head quickly, which immediately caused Devin to loosen. The severity in his eyes went out, his hand opened up and his arm fell down to his side as he sighed.

“The families of those involved were arrested. I did what I could to help hide many of the other families, but my wife had died years before, my kid was dead, I volunteered, an offering or boon I guess. Been here every since. I can’t really remember how long ago that was. Ten years maybe? It all kind of blends together in the end.”

Darian sat next to Devin and patted him on the back, “You’re a good man Devin, don’t forget that.”

Devin chuckled, “You never faulted me, that first day. I never understood why you did what you did. I hated you. For so long. And the thing was, I was going to betray you anyway. So I hated you for going with your instincts and being right. Of course, you were back the next day and I came out of it unscathed. Odd, how things turn out in the end.”

“The past is the past,” Darian responded,” I know I have my eyes looking towards the future.”

Devin nodded, but Darian knew he didn’t understand exactly how true that statement was, any more than Darian understood Devin’s hints about the future. How was he going to betray Devin? Why would Devin hate him for it? Was it part of the promise? Darian shook his head, not wanting to think about that part.

A new guard returned with the evening meal. This time it was an incredibly tasty hunk of meat. Darian didn’t know what the meat was called, so he decided to ask the guard. He worded the question and went to ask. Pork, from a pig. Darian couldn’t remember what a pig was, but he did vaguely recall that is was an animal he did once know.

“Wha…” Darian only just managed to prevent himself from asking the question, however he had already said too much and they had gotten the guard’s attention.

The guard would be annoyed by the question, so he decided to just say nevermind instead. However, before he spoke a thought broke into his head, another wave of intuition. He hesitated. He could follow his intuition, but the pain in his side suggested that it wasn’t always the best decision.

The guard waited a few seconds for him to speak, but as he stood frozen, the guard grunted and turned away. The intuition seemed to grip him tighter. He couldn’t see how it fit into the puzzle, but if he didn’t follow these instincts then he knew he’d never find out.

“Purple…” the words suddenly came out of his mouth.

The guard froze, glancing back at him with a strange look on his face.

“You should go with purple for her, it’s her favorite…” he continued.

“How di…” The guard started, eying him.

The guard’s face darkened. He looked Darian up and down with a frown. After a moment he turned and finished his rounds before walking off without saying anything more. Well that could have gone better. Although, he admitted, it could have gone a lot worse too.

“What was that about?” Devin asked from the bed he was slumped down on.

After a moment of staring out at where the guard had left, Darian turned back to Devin.

“I don’t know,” he responded, “But I am going to find out.”

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