The Prisoner

Story Submission for,

If it makes it into the top three, or is used, I suppose I will have given up all rights to the associated material. Truth be told I'm not too big a fan of the jewelry offered as a prize, but a contest is a contest and if it gets my name out there I'm all for it right now (provided nobody gets hurt in the process and it's for a product I can endorse without feeling soiled.)

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It was a forbidding place, the structure's bleakness matched by the unnatural place it had been built upon. This story is not about this place, or even directly about the fortification that has served as a prison for as long as any would care to remember. No. This story is about one who had managed to escape, and of the thing that had been sent to bring him back.

His name had once been Jacob Thomas Marlow. He had a promising life, family, friends, all the finer things one could want. Then he started airing stories that those in the Party would call blatant lies. Men came early one morning to his home and then he was gone. Jacob Thomas Marlow was unwritten from history and became a rumor whispered about only infrequently out of fear of going where these non-people were taken.

I found out his story in installments. We were only allowed contact with inmates outside of our block during the Games, and usually people are too busy not getting killed to bother with idle conversation. That day was a nasty one. They brought out some new metal monster for us to 'play' with. It's single eye stared almost blankly at the poor souls lined up in front of it, clicking it's claws as it moved this way and that. I'd say it was sizing them up, but I don't know.

The second time Jacob and I had a chance to talk they had brought the floating one eyed creature back, this time with two new arms in addition to the claws. One had a kind of gun that froze anything it was pointed at. The other had a series of saw blades rotating counter to eachother. Can't be sure why they put the extras in when only one of the blades could actually do anything. Maybe intimidation, but the whole thing was plenty frightening enough as is.

The last time I saw Jacob was when the creature drug him away back into the little cubby hole it had popped out of. We'd been told its official name, but since none of us wanted to take ten minutes saying what it was we just called it the Ripper. I liked Jacob, but when he was gone I tried putting him out of my mind because this place has enough to break a person with without inviting more in.

I've been told it's my turn to go out into the arena. With any luck it will mistaken me for dead and leave me alone.

We're flying now. The Ripper- It pushed me away and started attacking the guards. Men frozen, guns refusing to work when the orb it was carrying lit up. It used its saw to cut a path for us. There's nothing out here for miles, but we're still hopeful we can find supplies. The creature. I don't know why it’s doing this, but it seems to be leading us somewhere.

It killed a man that tried forcing himself on me last night.  I tried talking to it, but it didn't act like it heard me as it floated away.

Green. Days of marching with no water or food and we start to see signs of green.

There's water here. Clean water.

We've decided to stay here. This place seems to provide for our needs, and with the Ripper here as a guard we will be able to survive, at least in the short term.

It came to me last night. It came to me and scratched a message on the ground in front of me. Humans were harvested for the parts needed to make it work, and now those pieces are dying. I'm being told this because... I don't know why, but it will stay here while we go because it thinks They are tracking us by something deep in it's body.

Just as we were leaving it gave me orb it carried.

Three days have passed since we left camp. We heard an inhuman wail and then everything went white. When a few of us could see again we led those that had been blinded onward. Some of us were criminals in the traditional sense. Others learned to do what had to be done while on the inside. Myself? I'm just grateful that Humanity won out over Convenience in that moment.

My name is Mary Ann Marlow. I'm leaving this and my other records to the people of Liberty. Though my body is wasted and sickly my mind is quite sound and I ask that the orb from the machine be buried with me. Even if I am wrong and Jacob was not animating it that day we were freed it gave me that piece of itself and keep it I shall.
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