A Porcelain Prison

by Trey Miller

Preface

Rough Draft / Second edit. Waiting for my editor to do a pass with me. This is just hosted so I can share with people I'm enthusiastic to show. Feel free to read over it regardless.


"I've been having this reoccurring dream," the patient spoke, his measured words divulging trepidation. "It's almost entirely impossible to explain.. I have no bearings on where I am within the nightmare... but I can see the prison as if it were right here in front of me, clear as day." The doctor's eyes had yet to leave the note pad he so furiously carved illegible letters into, but he nodded as if to acknowledge the remarks and urged the patient to continue.

"Well, it's... hard to... Hmm... How do I even begin explaining something that's not really there? It is dark, certainly, with one wall covered in a sort of slatted vertical blinder seeping dim light that illuminates nothing but the fact that I am a prisoner... You couldn't understand, I mean. Have you ever been arrested, doc?" He was changing the subject, and the doctor payed it no mind, only shaking his head and motioning the man to continue. "The air is so damp I could suffocate, and the floors and walls are covered in mud... or maybe shit, at least that would explain the stench... "

The patient's eyes started roving from the ceiling they had been married to, lightly welled with tears as if he was choking on the odor now. The office was absent of the ornamental comforts of a traditional therapist longue. No doll to point on, no soundtrack of nondescript waves on a undisclosed shore, and the "No Open Flame" sign hinted there would be no aromatic candles to distract from the same mouthful of vomit he kept re-swallowing. He was, however, used to gulping back bile. It had been his gentle alarm clock, welcoming him to another days soiled sheets. Beside the sign there lain a single curtain eclipsing a huge wall, hiding a white-board likely covered in the doctors same chicken scratch. The doctor sat up in his pastel pink chair, the only thing that humanized an otherwise sterile office, and the patient regained his composure enough to continue.

"Maybe somewhere topical? Some outdoor cell? But why... don't you guys say that dreams are supposed to have some kind of meaning?" The patient spoke pointedly, weary of revisiting his memories, starving for any explanation the doctor was not giving.

The rhythmic melody of unbroken pencil etchings abruptly halted and the doctor let out an exasperated sigh. "How do you suggest I diagnose you when all that I have learned is that you have a weak stomach, and that I mistook you for someone worth my time. I am a very important person, and every moment you detain me from my studies countless people are in jeopardy. Now, speak concisely or leave my presence." The fluorescent lamp gleamed off his glasses hiding the movement of his eye. The patient was caught off guard but appreciated the directness as without the movement of the doctor's pupils he was otherwise indecipherable.

"The blinders... the slatted bars," the man shot back, intimidated now by any hanging silence. "They weren't steel or wood. They were more like a porcelain..." He imagined the scene before him, and uncharacteristically the doctor seemed to recline in his chair as the footrest organically rose to a resting position beneath his slippered feet. The throne was covered in small raised buttons, and the man thought to himself how ugly it was. "... I have pushed and pounded on them but they seem deeply rooted.. in the mud. Wait, that doesn't make any s-"

There was an audible swallow from the intercom system in the office.

The man let out a yelp, breaking into a barely coherent blather of babbling and bellows. Apparently unmoved by the man's sudden breakdown, the doctor rose from his lounged position and walked over to dim the lighting, each methodical footstep percussed by the sound of drenched socks and pruned toes. He again strode across their clandestine meeting room and extended his hand to draw the curtain, revealing what sort of crazed notes the man could not see upon the white-board.

The patient approached to see what answers might finally be revealed to him, but his eyes would not adjust. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he swallowed yet another mouthful of vomit, snapping his attention to the fact that the very same ungodly stench now filled this room. He reflexively reached out to steady himself as he slipped in the mud, his hand soundly thudding on the white-board. The porcelain white-board. The porcelain... white-board. The porcelain jail cell.

He spun around, hoping that the doctor could explain this, hoping to find the doctor in a similar panic, frantically hopelessly hoping that there were answers that were neither confirming this to be reality, or confirming this to be a hallucination. He was either in unorthodox peril or he must be mad. Unfortunately, the man did not find the doctor in the clutch of a psychosis driven delirium, rather he didn't find the doctor at all. Instead he found the doctor's humanizing pastel chair to not be a chair at all. As if in a dream he reached out to inspect the only thing that grounded him in this barren lab and found it organic. Reeling back, the patient jerked back him hand and back away just in time as the biological recliner began to distort itself. His broken English was unintelligible save a word single word.

"Slug."

In front of him loomed a colossal worm-like beast stretching from the floor of the room to the concave ceiling.

"S..s.s.s..slu...slug.gg...." he muttered incessantly, frozen under the enormous serpentine giant. It drug it's head along the ceiling and the walls, commanding the entire room with his girth and flexibility. Like a car with a dying battery the man weezed out the phrase again and again before suddenly exploding into motion to break through the his ceramic confinement. Planting his feet in the moist, pulpous ground the patient began to arrythmically thrash against his prison bars, all while chanting his broken record rhetoric.

"Sss..s.slug...slu..lug..slug...g.g." 1....... 2 .. 3 .... 4... 5........6..

"Sluuug. Slug...g." 1..2 .. 3 ......4....... 5............ 6..

From the back of this cavernous hell hole there came a nauseated gag. A belch. And the sound of a nearby torrent, rushing up the hallway to meet him and his unearthly tormentor. The smell of vomit and bile filled the room, exploiting the only inspiration he needed. With one last concentrated effort the roots of his confinements budged. A sickly tear resounded as pulp and nerve were rend in two.

Several things followed in sequence. The cage gave way. The incisor door toppled down the face of the bluff. The patient tumbled shortly thereafter. In cupped hands they both landed, pursued by the stream of stomach acid and bile. And finally, the great god-head smiled a toothless, toothy grin, his eyes hidden by the fluorescent gleam.

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