The hunger gnaws at his gut, a coiling monster within, wearing away his will to fight. Sapping his strength, reducing him to a weak and feeble creature. A lowly worm, almost unaware of higher vertebrate. Spineless, pitiful, unable to lift himself off the floor of his cell. They’d left him rotting here for days already. Someone, who? Twitching, floating between dreams and stupor, ranting, raving. Or was it weeks? Fading in and out, can’t remember. How long has it been? Lost in the ocean of blackness, no outside, only being, only this existence. How long? A loud clang echoes, shattering his few remaining thoughts as a rectangle of light explodes into his vision, searing pain behind his eyes, blinking, tears, cell door opens. Dirty, scuffed boots march into the room. Boot pulls back, observing, his sense of detachment meaningless, even to himself now, no self, nothing, enlightenment, Jack has all the time in the universe to examine each moment, slivers of actions, boot swings forward, pendulum, swing, a million fractious possibilities narrowing down to one inevitable certainty, action, a new sound now, halfway between a crack and a thud. Even sounds passing through the air are not transmitted without him examining each inner fractal of waveform. The booted foot impacts a set of bones, ribs, pain a sharp shock to the thing that was (but not is) what he used to be. A collection of bones and flesh. They are abusing the thing more, testing if it is awake, conscious, capable of independent locomotion. If it still burns with the fiery passion of reason. Slowly, motion, blink, still, blink, motion, all happens so slowly. The exhalation, a pained groan escapes the thing, through chapped and bleeding lips, a rush of air across a swollen tongue, the gentle whistle over broken teeth. High above the boots, but still not beyond the sphere of observation, indistinct mutters, the thing’s groan is taken as a sign, of consciousness or death, one cannot tell from purgatory. Black sludge, shadows, moving now, but not flickers that had comforted him. These are different, dark, heavy, the weight of power differentiating them from the thin ones he knows best. Motion, pendulums, swing of giant hands (calloused, ripped nails, scars, so much detail) reach down in the light of the fluorescent heavens, closing, clamping around bruised arms, thin wrists, roughly hauling upright, broken and battered, a toy discarded. Left by the side of the road. Distracted, noticed something, a tickle, somewhere in the murk, passion, or memory, not sure. Never give in, must resist. They cannot have it, but they must. Shadows of twine now, wrapping hands, covering sight, the thing will probably die today. It falls inward, chasing splintering echoes of emotions long past.