I Have No Mouth
Like the wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we are, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.
-- Harlan Ellison
I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr
From the Cornish, the tongueless man gets his land took.
I had to, don’t you see? You’d do the same if you were in my place, and a lot sooner too! I’d tell you if I could, but as you can see, one of the conditions of my release is that my mouth has been surgically removed.
I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take standing for hours, the threats of beatings. Oh, they beat me, for sure. Early on the beatings were constant, so much that you expected them, so a mere threat was enough for some of us to literally piss our pants. I couldn’t take being forced awake after just a few seconds of sleep in seventy hours? Or was it a hundred? Did I sleep only an hour ago?
Don’t you see? This is what they have done to a man! I have lost all sense of time; a minute is a year and a year is a mere minute! Damn! Why won’t you listen to me? I’m blinking my eyes in Morse code! If you would just listen, you’d see that I am talking to you!
The first time they let me see the sky was after five months of darkness! They let me see the full moon, I only know this now, but at the time I thought it was the sun at noon! It was that bright and blinding and painful.
There are so many things I want to tell you, I want to tell you about the years of abuse, I want to tell you how they break a man to confess to killing God, how they can make you confess to crimes committed by ancestors twenty years ago. I want to tell you about why I chose to have my mouth removed so I could go home.
In fact, I planned this long ago. That’s why I taught myself Morse code. I started to teach myself sign language, but I was caught and isolated for another year and a half, or was it longer? Damn it! This is what they do! I see now on all the legal documents how long I was isolated at different times during my imprisonment. A year one time then out for four months, isolated for two years and then out for only three weeks, then another year long isolation.
It went on and on and on like that. So I taught myself how to blink my eyes in Morse code because I knew they would remove my mouth! I know they are fighting a war and wars are messy. I knew I had a story to tell and I would tell it, no matter what! If you would just listen, I’d tell you one.
In fact, I was not even a soldier. I only drove some soldiers to an airport in my cab! I even had the paperwork to prove it! It was that paperwork that convicted me, I see. The new laws they passed said I helped those soldiers by driving them to the airport.
Why won’t you listen to me? It’s so obvious! Look! Dot, dash, dot! Damn it, and all that follows! Someone has to know Morse code, here! Why won’t you listen to me? I’m looking right at you! Listen!
"Hey Sarge," the young reservist called to the military contractor, "look at that one there."
"Yeah," the military contractor, replied, "that one just got out of iso this morning and is being prepped for another cycle in a day and a half."
"But Sarge?" the young reservist asked, "what’s with his face?"
"That was one of the earlier ones we picked up," the military contractor informed, "the worst of the worse. After a while these little mama’s boys admitted to anything we wanted, which proved that they were capable of anything. But we also got tired of hearing day after day how they did this or they did that just so’s they can go home to their mamas. So we had one of our plastic surgeon contractors do a number on these slime ball’s mouths!"
"But what’s up with the eyes?"
"Oh, that!" the military contractor laughed, "one of our company’s division vice presidents for procurement made that call. Since we were moving these slime balls from one prison to another and we didn’t want them to know where they were; and also since all of them would be in isolation, it was decided it was more cost effective to just sew their eyes shut. Some of them don’t even know, they look around just like they can see, just like that one!"
"When does this one go back to iso?" the young reservist was looking at the prisoner’s chart.
"A day and a half." The military contractor replied.
© 2007 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen
(cross-posted at Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/4/1/154231/8587)