The Glass Cage

I wrote this story a few years ago for an English class. It’s alright I guess, but it could probably be a lot better. I’m posting it anyways because why not?

She curls herself into a ball upon the bed, the fresh bruises painful. They mix with the more colorful ones, the older ones that have turned brown and purple and yellow. The puncture marks where they had stuck the needles were barely visible. Tears streamed down her face. She hated it here, within her glass cage. It wasn’t really glass she knew. She didn’t know what it was made of truthfully, but it didn’t really matter to her. All she knew, all she needed to know, was that those clear walls stood between her and the outside world. She also knew, deep within herself, that she could easily escape. Destroying the glass cell would be merely a trifle, something so easily within her power that by all rights she should have done so within her sleep. But she didn’t. For as much as she hated the glass cell, she hated what lay outside its walls more.

Outside, she could feel them all, know them all. Outside the walls, the barriers between her mind and the minds of others broke down. When she was outside, she could hear all the thoughts of humanity. Well, maybe not all of it, but enough of it to cause her nearly to crack. No room is there in her head for thoughts of her own. She hears them all. Every voice, every stray thought, every desire and broken dream. If she focuses, perhaps she could even make them out and match them to a person. But for the most part, that is a fleeting feeling, with all the thoughts coalescing into a single giant roar louder than any jet engine.

But the thoughts aren’t the worst part. The thoughts became a mindless beast: eventually accepted (though never ignored). What could not be accepted were the feelings that came with the thoughts. She feels all the hate of these creatures around her. All their fear, their loathing, their anger. Twisted vile ugly beasts that are relentless in their attacks. She cannot be free, for she does not know how to shut her mind.

How could she? A girl of fourteen, who suddenly awoke one day to this teeming underworld of man. Who could she turn to? Who could understand her plight? Her pain? Her longing for silence and an end to the hate? No, she had no friends or family to turn to, and she was too hurt and confused to do it on her own. But in the glass cage she was free. In the glass cage it was silent. Not a true silence; she could hear the dull hum of machinery somewhere in the distance, and whenever new pains were inflicted upon her, the cage filled with the sounds of her weeping.

The men in the black suits had come to her one day, speaking to her of her plight, speaking as if they knew what she was going through. They offered her relief and a break from the pain and noise. How could she say no to these men who seemed to know everything about her? But, as she soon discovered, their offer had a darker side to it. They took her to their hidden place, a place far away from others, far away from the roar and the beasts. They had given her the first puncture mark that day. They had injected something into her that made her sleep a dreamless sleep. She awoke in the cell. Alone and confused, she began to cry. Her face was wet with tears before she realized that it was silent. The roar was gone, and so were the beasts. With this realization, the tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy.

They did not last long before a Man in Black came to her cell. He looked at her through the glass walls, his face obscured by a bright light behind him. He told her that they would run tests on her, to find out what exactly her “gift” was, and to see if they could not cure her of it. If she cooperated with them, everything would go well. If she did not, then she would feel a different kind of pain. One much more common than that which she was used to.

Things went well enough at first, she felt. The Man in Black would come to her every day and inject her with whatever it was they had injected her with on the first day. Every day she fell into that dreamless sleep, and every day she awoke back in her glass cell. But then she began to dream. At first, it was only at night (she supposed it to be night, she could not truly tell down in her cell). The first time she dreamt, she dreamt she was in her cell, much like she was most of the day. The room around her cell was much like it was when she was awake. But in her dreams she was not content to be in the cell. She wished to be somewhere else, anywhere else. And so the cell dissolved, and the room changed, shifting into a luscious jungle. She heard the cries of birds and wild beasts, smelt the rain in the air, and felt the damp soil beneath her bare feet. In front of her, seemingly from nowhere, a door opened, and in rushed two men. They yelled at her and pointed rifles at her. Quickly, fear filled her, and she wished for nothing else but the men to not hurt her. A snarl came from the left, and an orange blur landed upon the closest man. He screamed as the beast ripped his throat out. The other man cried out and shot at the creature. In his panic he missed, and soon the insides of his stomach lay bare as the beast fed upon his flesh. Once satisfied, it turned towards her, issuing a low growl. Backing away she cried out, fearful and wishing to be back in the cell. As suddenly as it had sprung up, the jungle receded, and the glass walls formed around her. She awoke in a sweat.

Looking outside the walls, she saw two men, lying dead upon the floor. The Man in Black soon came. He yelled at her, demanding to know how she had done it. She did not know what she had done, she had no recollection of the dream, and she did not know why there were two dead men outside her cell. After her denial, a big man with his face masked came in to her cell. He punched her in the stomach, and as she doubled over he struck her back with a baton. She cried out in pain, though if it was from physical pain or from the man’s hatred and fear she could not tell. Blacking out, she awoke in solitude.

After that their treatment became harsh and cruel. They beat her and yelled at her. They asked her questions she half-understood and could not answer. Whenever the door to her cell opened, all she could feel was hatred and fear. There was no love on caring within that nameless facility, only pain. Her moments of respite from it all were when she slept. And when she slept, she dreamed. Like the first dream, they all began in her room, but she would always change that. She changed the area around her to whatever she felt like. Sometimes she was atop mountains, others the queen of some far away kingdom. And other times she returned home, before her mind awoke, a normal girl again. Sometimes masked men, like the ones slain by the beast from the jungle, would intrude, but she eventually found ways of dealing with them. At first she would just kill them outright, exploding heads, causing hearts to stop. But she found no pleasure in that (even if they were dream men). Eventually she would make them disappear, erasing them from existence. But that somehow felt even crueler. She then tried to send them to their homes, but she struck upon an idea. She looked into their minds, saw their desires, and she made them come true. She reveled in her power over men. In this dream world she was God, not a frightened little girl, but a fearless all-powerful ruler. She had nothing to fear. And every morning when she awoke, her memories of the dreams would fade, though the sense of power remained.

And so the routine continued for an indeterminable amount of time. In the room she knew the passage of time only by the coming and going of The Man in Black. But he was erratic and unreliable in this regard. Sometimes it would seem as if he came once an hour, and at other times it would feel as if weeks had gone by since last he saw her. But the one constant in their meetings was that with each encounter he became more agitated, his questions more insistent, and his patience thinner. But he no longer bothered her. He had become a constant in her life, and she knew how to handle him. It was a ritual between the two. He would come and yell at her, and she would react with no emotion at all. Then he would question her, she giving him unsatisfactory answers, and he threatening her before storming out. Then they would come and inject her with the substance, and she would fall to dreamless sleep.

Until one day she didn’t. They came and injected her as usual, but she remained awake, and managed to slip from the man’s grasp. But he did not struggle to keep a hold of her, for she saw that he was holding her sleeping body. He carried the body out into the hall, and she followed with. Through a labyrinth of dark and twisted halls they walked side by side, though the man was unaware that she was there. They arrived upon a bright white room, completely clean and sterile. In the center of the room there was a table, to which the man brought her body. The table had thick black straps on it. Around the table there were medical tools and machinery. She saw scalpels, and scissors, microscopes and lasers. She saw drills and needles, multitudes of them, all in varying sizes. They all shone with a cold metallic light. As the man strapped her down three men in white coats entered the room, their faces hidden behind masks. The men muttered to each other, casually speaking of the weather, lunch, and the secretary that they were cheating on their wife with. The fact that they were about to open up a human being seemed to be the furthest thing from their mind. The men began to cut her open, slicing along the scalp. Carefully they peered into her brain, probing her dormant mind in hopes of finding out what she was. She watched dispassionately, somehow disconnected from the fact that it was her body they were cutting open. She didn’t care, for the flesh was weak, and her spirit was strong and untroubled.

Deciding she had seen enough, she exited the facility they were keeping her in. She did not fly or walk out. She simply wished to be outside the building, and then she was. Rising into the sky (for she was not bound to the world of flesh and bone), she was surprised to find herself in the center of an immense city. Once long ago she had known its name, but now the name was no longer important. What she did remember was the fear of the girl she had been. The girl who had felt nothing but the crushing hate and anger of all humanity. But as she rose higher in the sky, she felt none of that. Rather she felt all the love and joy and wonder that was contained within the teeming mass of humanity below her. Yes, the hate and anger and pain was still there, but it no longer mattered. The positive, the negative, they were all part of a great wave washing over her as she floated above the world. In that moment, she knew what she must do.

She awoke inside the cage, back in her body. Tears of joy streamed down her face, as all the dreams came to her at once. She knew her power, and she knew she could leave anytime she wished: These men had no hold upon her. She turned her face towards her prison. The glass cracked, lines racing across the surface of the cage. Lines connected, and the cage shattered. The pale cold light danced amongst ten thousand crystalline shards cascading through the air. With her shield broken, all the wrath of man descended upon her. But within that wrath, she found the love that was to be had. And the fear washed from her, never to return. She had nothing to fear, because the world was hers to do with as she wished.

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