Aphelion Issue 296, Volume 28
July 2024 --
 
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You Can’t Step In The Same River Twice

by Rico Salvatore, BA, CAS, DOM




He was groggy. “What the, where am I, what?” His voice was a hoarse scratchy whisper.

“Don’t even try to move. You’re restrained. You’ve been revived. You were dead. Now you’re not. I’m the nurse in charge. You’ll be in better shape in a while. Just relax, if you can.”

He thought he heard a voice say something from outside his mental fog. He couldn’t hear or understand most of what was said. The ringing in his ears was deafening. All he felt was pain. His head felt like it was about to explode from the pressure.

He had to urinate. He knew he should get up and find a bathroom. He attempted to rise, but moving his head brought blackness down like a tidal wave of ink. He passed out.

******

A few hours later he wakes up again. He realizes he still can’t move. He feels dampness around his groin and hips and catches the baking-bread smell of urine. Damn it, I wet the – bed? I need a shower I need some clean clothes.

A beeping noise in the background increases in frequency. He feels his heart beating through his veins and body. It matches the beeping noise and increases as does his panic. His vision is still blurred his mind foggy. He tries to rub his eyes. “My arms won’t move. My fingers do but my arms won’t. Am I tied down? What the? “What’s going on here?” he croaks out. He is still very weak. He’s pretty sure he’s in some kind of medical facility because it smells like a hospital –not just urine, disinfectant, plastic...and the beeping of the machines in his room.

Everything before his first awakening is a blank. How he got here he can’t remember. He is self-aware. That much he knows. That is the extent of his being. This is a dream. I’m awake in my own nightmare.

And somewhere back in his mind he remembers a dream similar to this. It’s a recurring nightmare. I’m lost in my own dream and I don’t even know my own name. He tries to remember. He can’t. It only forces the reality of this nightmare.

“No need to yell. You’re in a hospital,” said a male voice.

That shocks him into silence. He wasn’t aware he was speaking, not at all.

This is a dream.

“I can’t move my arms or legs. I hurt all over. What’s wrong? I can hardly see. I can’t focus.”

“You’re restrained. You’ve been revived. You were dead. Now you’re not. I’m the nurse in charge. You’ll be in better shape in a while. Just relax, if you can. I told you the same thing earlier. You obviously didn’t hear me,” says the same disembodied male voice.

The Judgement

In the private chambers of a judge in The Republic of Texas:

“Your Honor, the paper work has been submitted and I have reviewed it. Everything is in order,” stated the Clerk of the Court.

“And their financials are adequate for this procedure?” asked the judge knowing that this was simply a formality with this family. They were wealthy beyond count.

“The Estate of injured party has more than sufficient funds for the requested actions,” replied the Clerk of the Court. He had to check the boxes and answer the specific question and answers had to be completed as per the legal requirements imposed. This was being recorded for history. It was a first.

The judge looked about the courtroom - absent all - but the attorney for the prisoner and the attorney for the defendant’s Estate of XXXXX, the prosecutor and the head of the Department of Corrections. The judge thought the title should be changed to the Department of Eliminations. It was about time we called what Texas did best by its real name, he laughed to himself. He loved Texas. He loved the fact that they could do whatever the hell they pleased. Screw Washington. Screw the planet and all their bleeding hearts. This was Texas. But all he said was, “Let it be known that the court grants the estates of XXXXX the right to administer the procedures outlined in the penal code as amended by the Republic of Texas. The estate and family of XXXXX will work the Schedule of Events with the court, the criminal Justice system as prescribed by law.” His gavel hit hard. “May god have mercy on his souls.

“Next Case.”

Once Again

The attending physician for the Event declared, “All his bio functions are completely flat lined. The brain shows no activity. The prisoner is declared dead. God rrrr…” he never finished the sentence.

The judge standing by the monitors said, “Note the time of day, the attending physicians and scientists, executioner, Director of the Criminal Justice Department and attending witnesses. Now resurrect the poor bastard. Get him to the hospital for recovery.” The judge turned to the physician next to him, and as a smile crossed his face said, “The next time will be even better.”

******

His vision was blurred. A fog filled his mind as he slipped in and out of consciousness. He was in pain but it was muted. He was heavily sedated. The pain was there; he could feel it deep in his brain. His body was numb. He sensed the two parts were separate. He pissed in his pants. He was aware, even embarrassed, he knew he should have self-control, but he just didn’t care. He cried and passed out.

Some time later he came to. His eyes were clearer. His fingers moved but not his arms. He curled his toes but couldn’t move his legs. He could move his head to the right and to the left. He could not sit up. He realized he was held down with straps. He felt the cold metal and realized his arms were handcuffed to the metal railing of the hospital bed. He noticed a nurse standing by a wall of monitor. His voice was weak yet he could be understood and heard. “Nurse, where am I?”

She didn’t even turn around when she answered. “You’re in a hospital. You’re in recovery.”

He searched his memory. He remembered nothing. He was in a state of shock. “What? Why? Where… I mean I don’t understand. What’s going on?” He realized it was useless to pull against the restraints. He was trapped. He was afraid.

The nurse turned around. She was tall, about five foot ten or so. And from what he could observe, she had an athletic build. Her hair was short and he guessed dark brown hair, not dyed, it was too shiny and natural looking to be dyed. He wondered why he even cared at this point. He was in a situation and he had no idea why.

She stared at the prisoner. She looked down at him and in a most dispassionate voice, she said, “I cannot answer any of those questions. You will have to address your captors.” She quickly turned away and began writing something in a notebook.

“Captors? What the hell are you talking about? Where am I?” he attempted to yell. His voice was weak. Forgetting he was restrained, he attempted to lift his arm and scratch his nose. His voice was weak, “My nose itches. I can’t scratch it. Would you mind?” Then he noticed all the tubes running from his body. The hospital gown exposed his arms. Whoever administered the intravenous was a butcher. Black and blue/purple ran the length of his right forearm. His left arm suffered a similar experience. The monitor began to beep along with his increased heart rate.

“Your nose itches and you want me to scratch it?” She stifled a laugh. His nose itches. He was dead and now his nose itches. What a joke. “They didn’t prep me for this.” She took a tissue and rubbed his nose. “That’s the best I can do. Does it help?”

“Thanks.” He nodded.

The nurse looked at him closely. She had become a nurse to help. She was going to medical school but decided she didn’t want to give it all the time to become a doctor. Being as certified nurse practitioner was close enough. She landed this with the Republic’s prison system. The pay was good. But the environment, the prisoners, and the guards were of a different world than she had ever known on the outside. The meanness, the cruelty, the barbaric way the prisoners treated each other was at first shocking to her, never mind the guards. After some time the environment altered her perspective on the human race. Now when some fresh new trauma appeared before her she just nodded and went about her business. If the Republic runs prisons like this, I can’t imagine what it must be like in the private ones. When had she become so cold she wondered? I’ve become one of them. She shuddered at the thought. She clenched her teeth, looked at the prisoner again and forced herself to continue writing her report on his initial recovery.

She was taken from her thoughts when the prisoner asked, “Am I in hell for some reason? Tell me this is hell. This has to be hell.” But it came out as a screech. He couldn’t articulate as fully as he would have liked. His body was still in recovery.

The nurse steeled herself before answering. “Sir, you are not in hell. You are in a prison hospital. And I shouldn’t be even telling that to you.” The nurse was used to prisoners and their sorry complaints as well as their claims of innocence. She had become immune to it.

In the middle of this conversation, a rather large being, an armed officer of the Republic of Texas strode into the room. His hands had pulled the safety strap of his double-stacked Sig P226 and in his other hand he held a syringe. “Nurse, are you okay? Any problems with the prisoner?” As he questioned the nurse he looked over at the fully restrained individual and took his hand off the grip of the pistol and replaced the safety strap. This guy wasn’t going anywhere. “Nurse?”

“I’m fine officer. Thank you. Everything is under control. The restraints will hold a gorilla. There is nothing to be concerned with. He is just aware that he is here.” She smiled at that hoping it would disarm the cop and get him to leave quickly.

The officer nodded. He stared at the prisoner and said just low enough for the prisoner to hear, “Trust me you’ll wish we had finished you off.”’

“That will be enough,” demanded the nurse. The hospital was her domain. She maintained control. “That is totally uncalled for and we are not supposed to inform him of anything. That will be for the doctors and the … She didn’t finish her sentence realizing that to conclude her though and her warning would be to give the prisoner more information that he was entitled to at this point. “That’s cruel and …”

The officer was smiling or was it a grimace? She wasn’t sure.

“Unusual, Miss? It’s not as much as it is for us, if you think about it.” Where did that come from he wondered? That was not like him at all. This SOB deserved all he was going to keep getting.

“Sir, please leave the room now. If you continue I will have to report this.”

Both of them were aware that every conversation was being recorded anyway and the CCTV was monitoring every second. There was no privacy here.

The prisoner looked up at both of them. His voice was a bit stronger. “What the hell is going on here? Will someone please tell me why I’m here?”

The police officer looked at him and tonelessly said, “Congratulations, you’re the first.”

“Leave now,” demanded the nurse.

“You going to shoot me?” The cop chuckled.

“First fucking what?” The prisoner looked around at both of them. There was anger and there was a growing fear. The guard and the nurse smelled it.

It was the cops turn to be surprised. The cop asked, “You don’t know? You really don’t know? How can that be? Part of the punishment is knowing, of being aware.”

“Aware of what? What the hell are you two talking about?” He was about to start demanding a lawyer and then something else hit him. He realized he didn’t even know his name. He stopped. He looked around at his surroundings. He acknowledged his surroundings. In a very quiet contrite voice he asked, “Nurse, what is my name?”

Both she and the guard were taken off balance.

“What did you just ask?” She said to the guard, “He has to be kidding. This is a ploy.”

The guard was shocked even more. He had expected something else altogether. Dealing with killers all his life, never before had he encountered anything like this. This guy was telling the truth. He was positive. And this Event was a first. He looked at the nurse and pointed out of the room.

In the hallway the two of them spoke in low tones their backs to all the monitors, their hand covered their mouths so they couldn’t be read and whispered to each other.

The guard stared into the prisoner’s room and pointed to the bed he was on, “This is more bizarre than I assumed it would be.” Then he smiled. “This is even better when you think about it. It’s more frightening for him. If he knew he might become inured to the events about to occur. Justice will be served.”

The nurse had other ideas. She wondered: could the Republic legally or morally execute someone who was not in his right mind? Or even more bizarre - as the guard had if not stated, implied in this case - having been executed, declared dead and then resurrected? Was he an entirely a new human being? Are we dealing with the same person that we put to death or is this an entirely different person inhabiting a similar body? Had death made him a new person? All these questions raced through her mind.

The two of them returned to the prisoner’s room. The big cop grabbed a chair and straddled it. He looked at the nurse. “You can take a break if you want. Nothing is going to happen. He’s restrained and I have a syringe. I am medically certified to administer.”


“Yes I know. You all are,” she snapped back. She was tired and all sorts of new thoughts had come flooding into her mind. “A gun and a syringe -- how efficient,” was all she managed to say.

The cop gave her a dirty look followed by a smile. “Yep, and I love my job.”

She looked back at the two of them, the prisoner and the cop. The cop was straddling the chair facing the prisoner, just looking at him. She could tell he wasn’t whispering or anything. The other armed guards were just down the hallway. She glanced up as she came out of the prisoner’s room and gave them both a wave and a smile. There was nothing to be concerned with and that’s all they cared about. They really didn’t want to have to act.

Meanwhile back in the room the big cop was looking at the prisoner. He looked the guy up and down. You can never tell a killer. Most of the time it was someone you knew, a friend, a family member. There was no look. But then he thought, this guy is telling the truth. What the hell?

“What happens when you die and come back?” the cop asked in a low voice. “You’re the first one I can be sure of. Ain’t that something?”

The prisoner was staring up at the ceiling. His vision had improved. He was counting the holes in each tile. He heard the question and was surprised that he was not surprised. He had no answer. His voice was back too. He felt pretty good, as well as anyone could feel being restrained and in a prison hospital for he knew not what. He lost track of the count again. It was maddening. He started over. But his nose still itched.

“Hey guard. My nose itches. Would you mind scratching it?”


“What the,” asked cop as he looked at the prisoner? “I just asked you and important a question?” The guard hesitated, then considered: the prisoner had never been in this situation before either. As far as he knew, he was an innocent man locked up for no reason. This Event was new for everybody concerned. “Let me put my latex gloves on.” He did, and scratched the prisoner’s nose. “There. You feel better? Anything else?” It was not a question but a threat.

“Yeah thanks. You can take the restraints off. And as for your answer, I have no idea.”

“Funny man.”

“No, not funny, truth. I’m not going anywhere. But there is one thing you can do, tell me what the fuck is going on? I sort of remember something about an execution. Or maybe it’s a false memory brought on by your conversation. I have no recollection of much else. The details are all gone. I assume that the execution was put off and if not, then this is hell.” He was rather calm about the whole thing or so it appeared. This can’t be real. This is a nightmare and I will wake up in my bed? I don’t know where my bed is.

The cop stared at the prisoner. He stated a matter of fact. “You’d be better off in hell, trust me.”

The prisoner looked at the cop. “You really mean that, don’t you?”

“Sure do. Once is enough. But in your case, you lucky bastard, you killed a rich SOB and his family can afford to pay for multiple executions.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” The prisoner was alarmed. This was the first he heard about it and he couldn’t recall anything about it. “Pay for what?”

The cop was really taken off guard. He was beginning to believe something that he knew he shouldn’t. “You really don’t remember? Fascinating. That part of your memory seems to be erased. This is worth a study. But you are the first. You’ll go down in history. What a way to do it.” Then he thought and said, “You may be an anomaly. If all the others after you suffer from the same affect, then we’re dealing with a very strange outcome.” This answer, the response to the prisoner gave him a reprieve. He could carry out his duties. His job was to follow instructions, not be jury or judge. “That’s what cops do,” he said to himself in a whisper.

The prisoner was angry. Here he was tied down, no one other that this big dumb assed cop and a nurse were his only source of information. This is America. There are rights that even the lowest of humans have. Instead he said, “What are you babbling about? I’m in a hospital, a prison hospital. I get that I’m supposed to be executed for murder or if I am to believe you, I have been executed and, brought back to life so I can be executed again?” His blood ran cold

The cop raised his hand to stop the prisoner. He looked around at all the monitors and sensors. “What the fuck.” He looked at the cameras and nodded. Then to the prisoner he said, “Okay, here goes.” He put the syringe with the sedative on the table nearby as a precaution.

The prisoner thought for a second the cop was the executioner.

The cop stood up then grabbed the chair and moved it closer to the prisoner. He waited for a second or two. He wanted the prisoner to hear every word. He laughed to himself. He thought for a second he wouldn’t mind repeating them and then thought against it. He let him have it, the whole story, the murder, the trial and the new laws, and his execution and the present state of affairs.

The nurse ran down the hall to the prisoner’s room. She looked at the cop. “Get out of here. You were not supposed to say a thing. You have…”

“I’ve done what? Told this poor slob he’s going to die any number of times? Isn’t that part of the punishment, part of the revenge? It wouldn’t be otherwise. And if his situation is the norm then we have a new ...” He stopped for a second. “Oh my god. We have a…” He hesitated at the thought. He followed with, “a whole different fact to consider. This is not good.” He was a cop not a sadist.

The nurse was beginning to have the same idea. “What are we going to do?” She asked. Her voice had changed completely. She was asking for help.

“I don’t know about you but I’m not saying a thing to anyone until I see a lawyer. The implications here are beyond me.”

AND AGAIN

“The prisoner is alive,” declared the nurse. She made note of the time and the day. She looked at the prisoner. He was unconscious but breathing. His heartbeat was in the normal range and his vital signs were acceptable.

This was her first experience with the new system. She was intrigued. Was this everybody’s first experience? No one had given her too much information. She knew her job. She had worked as an Army nurse in Leavenworth. They wanted a nurse with a high-level security clearance. She could keep her mouth shut. She had seen a lot.

This was the real thing. She had six more hours on her shift. She looked outside the private hospital room, through the large bulletproof window and nodded to one of the two officers standing guard. I wonder if he’ll come to any time soon, she thought looking at the prisoner tied down in the bed.

The monitors at her desk indicated that the prisoner was awake. She made note of the time and the day. She looked toward the room where he lay. “Let’s see what we have here,” she said to the orderly. She got up in no particular hurry and walked toward the prisoner’s room. She nodded to the guard and he followed her in. She made a note of his name, badge number and time of day. “Sign here as you are the first witness,” she commanded and passed the computer toward the officer.

He signed it, looked at the prisoner, and shook his head. The nurse couldn’t tell if it was in disgust or pity. But she could tell he wasn’t pleased about something here. “Are you okay?” she inquired.

The officer faced her and said, “Yeah, but this is …” He was about to give his opinion but realized before he said it that his statements would be recorded and would most definitely affect his job. He let it drop.

In her typical cold manner the nurse said, “Thank you. You can wait outside. I don’t imagine he can be a danger to me or anyone for that matter.” She pointed to the restraints. She had worked in the prison hospital for a number of years. She knew the routines and how to deal with the cops. Unless the doctor was in the room, she was in control. The guards were insurance. In this case and at this specific time, unnecessary, but protocol was protocol.

The officer nodded and left the room.

******

He opened his eyes but things were not clear. His vision was blurred. He couldn’t move. He had pain throughout his body. He heard the scratching of shoes on a floor and turned in the direction of the sound. He could barely make out the uniform of a nurse. At least he thought it was a nurse. “Where am I?” he asked in forced whisper.

“You’re in a hospital. You are recovering,” she replied.

“I can’t move. What’s wrong with me? Recovering from what?” The questions spilled from his mind to his mouth.

Shocked, she looked at the prisoner. “You don’t remember?”

“Remember what? All I can remember is --” and he stopped. He thought. He tried to go back in time. He had no recollection of anything other than now.

“What is your name?” she questioned.

He looked at her and closed his eyes. He opened them again. He turned his head toward the window. He saw the guards. He said, “I… do not… remember. I do not know. I’m in a hospital that much I can tell. I can’t move. I’m tied down and I just don’t know.”

She was recording the entire conversation. The doctors would want to hear everything. The room was under surveillance too, so a visual recording was being made.

She observed at him closely. She looked at the monitors. His heart rate was up. The monitor attached to his bare skull read out that he was probably telling the truth.

He looked up at her again. He looked at his arms. They were black and purple. He had intravenous lines in both arms. But the coloration was far more than medical incompetence that much he knew.

“Why am I here? Why am I here?” the prisoner repeated.

“You really don’t know," The nurse replied. She looked at him again. She said, “This is against protocol but I am going to let you sit up.” She unfastened the restraints across his chest and arms. She raised the portion of his bed so he could sit up and looks about.

“Why are there cops out there?” He looked closely and asked, “Do you have a name? You have no identification. What am I doing here?”

The nurse sat on a chair. She needed to sit down. I have to get the doctor in here as soon as possible. There is something terribly wrong with this. A concept, an awareness of the situation that had never been broached was becoming more than apparent. This required reporting. She stood up. “I’m not supposed to tell you more than required by law. You are a ward of The Republic of Texas. You do not have a name. For all intents and purposed you are a dead man. In fact you were dead. You had been executed by lethal injection, declared dead and revived.”

His monitors spiked. “What are you talking about? This is a dream, a nightmare, or hell. What and who are you?”

“I am a nurse in the prison hospital assigned to make sure you are kept alive and well. At such time as decided you will be executed again for the murder you committed. And then you will be revived again. This procedure will continue for as long as the family and friends of the one you murdered can afford to pay for this new punishment we have declared as the only fit method of revenge. The death penalty really has no detrimental effect. So the Texas legislature, has decided to cut to the chase and call our executions exactly what they are, revenge. And to make sure you suffer as much or more that your victim, you are supposed to be executed for a number of times. The memory of each execution, burned in you memory should prove ample revenge.”

“You’re barbarians. I do not remember killing anyone; I don’t even remember my name. I don’t recall being executed. This has to be a nightmare. I’m going to wake up and…” He was yelling and crying.

“No this is real,” she replied in a cold disassociated voice. “This is real.”

The guard came in and asked, gun drawn, “You okay? He’s not supposed to be free. What are you doing?”

“I am in charge. I freed him so he could sit up. I am fine. You needn’t worry. I will keep the curtains pulled back so you can observe. Now please, leave the room.”

The guard looked at the nurse, an eyebrow raised, his disbelief showed. He holstered his weapon.

“Please,” she pointed to the door. “I’m fine. I’m safe. He is still restrained and you needn’t worry. I have handled bigger men.”

“I’ll be right at the door if you need me. I will have to report this.” The guard was inputting his report as they spoke.

“Yes and so will I," she said. “This has been recorded as you must be aware.” She pointed to the cameras all over the room. No space was left without observation.

The nurse moved to a control panel and hit a set of codes. Within a minute the prisoner was asleep. She decided that this was a bit much to give a newly executed human, the first one to be subject to the new laws of The Republic.

The Republic of Texas prided itself that it was one of the few places on earth besides Japan, Iran and possibly China where executions were an art form. However the results of this execution and the follow up to be administered would require a review.

******

The nurse faced the Judge, the head Doctor, senior medical staff and the prison warden and the prosecutor. The Doctor suggested the nurse lead off since she had been with the prisoner most of the time.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the nurse began. “We have been studying the results of our first resurrected execution. We, the medical staff that is, have come to the conclusion that the prisoner has no recollection of his past. We are sure he is telling the truth based upon observation, scans and truth serums administered.”

The prosecutor interrupted, “So what do I care. What does the Republic care? He was convicted and duly sentenced. WE must carry out the orders of the court. We did it once.”

The Judge said, “Yes I understand your point and concern. Mr. Prosecutor, have you read the full report?”

The nurse stood up. “Why wasn’t I told about your previous execution? You lied to me.”

The Judge said in a calm monotone voice, “You are in a secure environment. You are only allowed the data that you need to know. Until now, you had no need to know, and as you know, you are never allowed to speak of this to anyone, ever.”

The nurse was infuriated. “What happened to the first post-execution staff? This is a miscarriage of justice. He will be executed as many times as declared by your own signature. I have the record here. You can’t go back without out an appeal. And you know as well as I do, no appeal will work in the Republic of Texas except death.” She laughed, “And now that won’t even work. You will kill him, an innocent human being who happens to be in the body of a murderer, again.”

The nurse was in tears. The judge held his temper. The others watched. They wanted to know what the nurse was getting at. She obviously had a point that was not addressed in the report.

The judge made a note to have her removed and relocated, just like the first one. The guard working with the first post execution nurse had killed himself. Maybe he would investigate after he read her report, maybe after he returned from vacation.

******

I was groggy. “What the, where am I, what?”

“Don’t even try to move,” said a male voice from the mental fog. I couldn’t hear the rest. The ringing in my ears was deafening. All I felt was pain. My head felt like it was about to explode from the pressure.

I must have passed out. It could have been a few hours later. I wasn’t sure. I woke again. I realized I couldn’t move. I panicked.

A beeping noise in the background increases in frequency. My vision is still foggy. I try to rub my eyes. My arms won’t move. My fingers do but the movement is restricted. “I’m tied down. What the, what’s going on here?” I croaked out.

“No need to yell. You’re in a hospital,” said that same voice. There was no apparent concern in his tone as far as I could tell.

“I can’t move my arms or legs. I hurt all over. What’s wrong? I can hardly see. I can’t focus.”

“You’re restrained. You’ve been revived. You were dead. Now you’re not. I’m the nurse in charge of this floor of the prison hospital,” said the same voice.

“Prison? What are you talking about?”

“You don’t remember? Strange. You really don’t remember?” asked that voice.

“Remember what? Know what? Please tell me. You’re scaring me.” I was pleading.

I heard him say, “Oh dear. I have to call the doctor. You’re my first one. This is most unexpected.” Now he sounded concerned.

The nurse hit a button on a monitor. The drug worked quickly and the prisoner passed out.

****

Later, a day, a week, an hour, I had no idea about time. Then my eyes focus. I see a nurse reading a monitor. I’m not sure if it was the same one as earlier. No it was a male nurse. Something nags in my memory.

“I see you’re up,” he said, not turning around.

I look around as best I can. I am still restrained. I notice a very large cop standing outside the doorway looking in. He’s got a cup of coffee and a phone in the other. The nurse either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. The cop takes a picture. “The guys in lockup won’t believe me unless I show them.”

The nurse laughs, “You’re not supposed to do that.”

“He’s awake and alive. What-ya-know. That won’t last.” He laughs and sits on a chair that faces the open doorway to the hospital room. He takes another picture.

I ask the nurse, “Who is he?” my eyes pointing to the guard. “And why is he here?”

“You’re in a prison hospital. He’s to take you back to your cell when you recover. Don’t act like you don’t know.”

“Excuse me, but all I know is I’m tied down. I know there is a cop outside what you have said is a prison hospital room. I know,” and I stop. “I know, I don’t even know why I’m here and,” I stop again to consider. “I don’t even know my name.”

The nurse turned around. He was new. He had heard the turnover rate was high in this section. There were no introductions, no briefing. They needed a senior level nurse and he needed a job. The nurse looked at the prisoner’s chart. He would have addressed him by his name but the chart only had a number where the name should have been asked the prisoner, “Do you remember anything else?”

He asks the prisoner. The nurse was not fully aware of the protocols for this specialized prison department. It was a job. It was sort of hush-hush but everyone in The Republic and the press were talking about it. He didn’t actually believe it, but here he was working in this section with this prisoner.

I thought about the question. I went through a mental checklist. The only things I knew for sure, I was alive, and that was a maybe. I laughed to myself, I could have died and gone to hell. I was sure I was strapped down to a bed. There was a fairly large cop sitting outside the doorway to the room I was in, taking pictures. There were tubes running from my black and purple-blue arms, and from my groin. And I was still in pain. I could talk. But other than all that, I had no memory save what recently occurred since I woke up here, wherever here was.

The nurse laughed as he said, “Guard, I have to hit the head. Keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t escape.”

“Ya think?” asked the guard. He sipped his coffee. It was cold.


THE END


2024 Rico Salvatore

Bio:

Rico always had an interest in writing, art, science, metaphysics and history. He studied at The Art Students League in NYC. He picked up a degree in History with an advanced certification in Asian Studies from Rutgers University. He continues to study physics and has a deep interest in modern geopolitical goings on, especially in Asia.

He began writing short stories and poems about 16 years ago and has published 6 children’s books and illustrated one book of poems. He also translated the poetry for a Chinese-American poet for her English speaking audience.

In addition to the above children’s books, Rico was the art editor and published in now dead Quantummuse.com. He also wrote for Aphelion-webzine.com, Orion’s Arm.com, Short-Humour.org.uk, with 4 stories in the anthology A Flash of Aphelion, “Laramidia” in Fantastical Savannahs And Jungles and 2 stories, “A Child is Borne” and “A Technical Singularity To Protect and Serve” in Xenobiology, "Neko" in Bleakest Towers and "Signed Sealed and Delivered" in Of Poets, Spies and Unearthliness. Some of his poems have appeared in select Chinese publications and compiled an extensive bibliography in the 1980s referencing Chinese nautical archeology published in Nautical Research Guild.

He is married to a photographer and artist. He has 5 grand children who many times give him the ideas for his children’s poems and stories. Rico is “owned” by one slightly insane rescue cat that likes to hunt the humans as chew toys and Grays in the house, pouncing upon them from out of hidden locations.

E-mail: Rico Salvatore

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