The White Walls of Punishment
There is nothing but whiteness here. The walls are white, the floor is white, the goddamned ceiling is white. I can’t tell where this whiteness begins and where it ends. I’m covered in white clothes from head to toe. I feel as if I have become part of this whiteness too. And there is nothing else in this room. There is only my breathing body, and the whiteness. It is so white that I feel I’m going blind. I have not seen anything but this whiteness for as long as I can remember and I feel like I am losing my mind.
It’s a square box of emptiness and misery, it is just me and my thoughts. There is nothing out of place, not a smudge on the wall, not a crack in the floor, not a line in the ceiling. It is pristine and impeccable, so prim, so proper. It feels more torturous to me than a straitjacketed existence, this prison of white. No matter what I do, I cannot blemish this whiteness. I remember remains of life before this prison, I remember I used to be a neat freak, hating the brownness of dirt and the sour yellow of stains. Now I pine for a field of dirt or a filthy puddle of mud, that’s how crazy this whiteness is driving me.
I’ve banged on the walls repeatedly. I’ve stamped on the floor numerous times. I’ve screamed and screamed until my throat gave away. No one responds. I don’t know what lies beyond these white walls. I do not know who put me here or even why they would put me here. Who would do such an atrocity and why? I need answers, I scream, but the only reply is my own scream, echoed back at me. Why are you doing this cruelty to me?
I haven’t seen a human face since they locked me up. In fact I have not seen any face. I don’t even remember what I look like. What do humans even look like? How do they act? How do they use their limbs? These white walls do not tell me anything. They stare at me blankly. I scream and scream, asking them what I had done to deserve this. But nobody answers. Not a word.
I don’t think my senses work anymore. I haven’t heard a voice in years, I don’t even know what voices sound like, what sounds are supposed to be. My memory tells me that there are things you taste and eat. But my tongue is dry and I don’t think I have eaten anything all my life. My throat is parched and my stomach grumbles. At least I know that my thirst and hunger are real. I can only see, hear and feel this whiteness. Sometimes I think I pass out with fatigue but I think I might just be sleeping. Is sleeping something that people do?
I can’t tell what is real and what is just my perception. I don’t trust my memory because how can I know if the things it tells me really happened. There is no evidence in these white walls of anything true or false. They are the only things that exist, salient, silent, immovable, unchanging. The only thing I am sure of is that I am losing whatever was left of my mind. I whisper to the floor as I curl up in agony. It never talks back. The walls never move or shrink. I don’t know if they are listening but I keep talking to them. Are you listening, you, who is doing this cruelty to me?
* * *
“What was his crime?” the new guard asked as he observed the prisoner. He was curled up on the floor and rocking himself, muttering incomprehensible words.
“Don’t you know him? He was pretty big news a few months ago.” The older guard leaned back in his chair, smug with his knowledge of the juiciest story in the whole prison.
“What is wrong with him though? What does he keep muttering to the floor? Is he mad?”
“Oh, he definitely is. And it serves him right too.”
“But that is just inhuman. The man is clearly insane. He needs medical attention.”
The older guard laughed. “And so did the twenty seven people he murdered. And the several more that the police could not find evidence of to link him with. The bastard would kill his victims over days. He would slowly bleed them out. He wouldn’t even let them die a peaceful death. He would toy with them, like they were not humans. So why do you think he deserves to be treated like a human now?”
The newbie was stunned and looked at his superior with a blank expression. But the older guard wasn’t done with his tale. He wanted to explain how the punishment was properly justified.
“This is not a man. This is a monster. A monster who has no feelings, no empathy, no emotions. He had an elaborate method of killing his victims. All his victims were pretty young girls. He would paint a room completely white. And then he would bleed them out and paint the walls as the life seeped out of the poor girls. He created murals with blood and would position the bloodless corpse on the floor, which would be as white as the corpse itself. He liked to call them his living works of art. He fancied himself a Da Vinci. Bloody monster.”
“But he looks like he’s suffering. If he is such a monster then why does he look like he in such pain?” The younger guard looked at the feed from the camera. The prisoner was doubled on the floor, screaming loudly as he tore at his hair.
“He has forgotten everything. The detective who was assigned to catch him had his life ruined by the bastard. So, the detective took his revenge. The cell was designed by him so that the monster suffers every second of his imprisonment. His last victim was the detective’s wife. She was so beautiful. They were close to catching him when he decided he would have the last laugh. And he murdered her so brutally, carving her body like a bloody pig. He skinned off her face and wore it as a mask when the detective finally caught up to him. He was laughing at the poor man and he got what he deserved, a bullet to the head. And it was karma that he survived. Because this punishment was in store for him. And I thank almighty every moment that I watch him in agony that he survived because he would suffer every waking moment for the rest of his life. He was in a coma for over three months. And he woke up one day with amnesia, the kind where you forget what you’ve done twenty minutes ago. He only remembers his life before he murdered anyone. Or who knows what he remembers. Maybe he was just trying to deceive the doctors. They would have put him in a psych ward. But the detective had other plans for him. He meticulously built this cell for him and pulled strings until the judge relented and let the monster spend the rest of his imprisonment here. This unit works under the supervision of that detective. He makes sure that the illusion of whiteness remains, for that is the only thing he cannot forget. So, we paint over every smudge or stain and he thinks he is going crazy. If you ask me, there has never been a better punishment.”
* * *
I cannot take this anymore. This silence is maddening. The whiteness of the room is descending upon me, stretching its arms, trying to engulf me in it. No, I will not let that happen. No. I punch the wall. I punch harder. It’s starting to hurt, but not just me, it is hurting the whiteness too. It is red with my blood now. I laugh at my victory. I smash my forehead on the wall as hard as I can. Either they will give away or I will end myself. I smash until the blood fills my eyes and I cannot see anymore. I pass out.
I feel so groggy. What is this? This looks like an unfinished painting of mine. Where is she, my work of art? I look around the room and my head shrieks with pain. This isn’t a room painted by me, this is not my work of art. Slowly, things are coming back to me. The cold, wet mask of the beautiful wife and his screams of pain. My laughter echoes in my ears as I remember the look of defeat on his face. He may have put me in prison but he could not save his wife. I laugh, I laugh because victory shall be mine. I will end my art with a masterpiece, a masterpiece which is myself. I laugh as I sink my teeth into my veins. They tear through the skin and bite through the flesh. I laugh as I smear my blood over the walls with my fingers. You may have captured me, detective, but the last laugh shall be mine. My last painting, in my own blood, my last work of art, my own body.
* * *
The older guard smiled with satisfaction at the white bandages that were tightly bound on the monster’s arms. He double checked every spot that had been marred by his blood and painted it white properly. Now he would not remember anything that had occurred and would simply go back to suffering like before. The newer guard was smiling too. He agreed with the just retribution because he had finally educated himself about the prisoner he was guarding. The monster deserved much worse but they could not become monsters themselves when it came to punishing him. So this punishment would suffice, the workings of his own brain driving him crazy.
* * *
There is nothing but whiteness here. White floor, white walls, white ceilings, white clothes on my body, and white bandages on my arms. Why is everything so goddamned white? I’m part of this whiteness. I can’t live like this, I’m going crazy. What have I ever done to you? My scream echoes back at me and the white walls mock me. What do they know that I do not?