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Twenty four minutes and seventeen seconds.
I pace from barred window to barred window, from cement wall to cement wall. I grab the doorknob and give it a shake, not because I think it will give,but for something to do with all my nervous energy. I bite my bottom lip and look back at the Timer, the chrome frame and red letters contrasting sharply with the dull brown wall.
Twenty three minutes and forty nine seconds.
I can’t remember life when the Timer wasn’t there. I’ve been here staring at that timer for forever, as far as I’m concerned. My guess is that I committed a crime, a big one, and this is how I am to be punished. Staring at this Timer, with the agonizing thought, what happens when it gets to zero?
I could be released from my cell. That could happen. I pace to my window and look out of it, clutching the bars as if they were the hands of close friends. Or family. Do I have a family? I shake my head, dismissing the thought, and gaze outside, at the green grass and blue sky and yellow sunflowers.
How do I know those colors? Did I have a life before I was here? How do I know what green, blue, and yellow are? Maybe that’s not even what they are called. Maybe, after years, assuming I’ve been here for years, of being alone, I have made up a whole imaginary language. I could get out of here and the other people, assuming there were other people, could speak an entirely different way. I think about it. I will be a loner, if that happens, left to myself in my own corner. Just like now. Only worse.
Twenty minutes and seven seconds.
But maybe the timer will reset. Or it just counts down to lunchtime. I can’t remember having a meal. Was I in here for only a few hours? Or years that I just can’t recall? I don’t feel hungry, so could it have been that long?
No, I remember breakfast. It was oatmeal, or something goopy like that, with... some kind of fruit, I think. The memory is foggy and I can’t focus on it. I sigh as if floats away in the breeze coming out my tiny window.
I let go of the bars, my hands are hurting from clutching them. I look down at the red indentations that they had made in my palms, then turn my hands over. My nails are long and chipped and ragged, I must have shortened them with my teeth during my who-knows-how long sentence.
Ten minutes and two seconds.
What do I look like? There’s nothing I can use to see my reflection, the bars are rusty and not reflective at all, there isn’t a mirror on the wall or a puddle of water on the floor. I feel my face with my hands, but that tells me nothing. I can’t feel what color my eyes are, or what my smile looks like. Have I ever smiled? Nevermind. I feel the back of my head. My hair is cropped short. It feels rough and oily. I look down at my clothes. My outfit consists of a loose pair of pants and a shirt that hangs awkwardly off my unnourished frame. It appears that they used to be white but have been covered in mud and dust, turning them grey.
I strain my mind and think back to the first time I saw the Timer. It was... at seven days? No, much longer than that. I dust off the old memories and think harder.
Two minutes and forty- three seconds.
Another memory comes to me. I was... on all fours. Was I a baby? How long had i been here?
Two minutes and one second.
It’s actually happening. When that timer goes off something will happen. What will happen? I don’t want to know. The end of that Timer could be the end of me. I glower at as if the thing is human.
One minute and fifty six seconds.
I pound on the Timer with my fists. I need to shatter that thing, that thing that has confined me in this place since childhood. Memories rush back every time my knuckles make contact with the device. I remember sitting on the ground, too young to walk, staring at the time left. The time I had left... to live? I remember being a teenager, pacing back and forth, going insane, shouting as loud as I could, indistinguishable words that bounced off the walls and echoed in my ears. I remember yesterday, when I thought, I only have one day left. What will I do with it?
Nothing. I did absolutely nothing.
Forty- five seconds.
The Timer starts to beep with each second that goes by. Forty- four seconds. Forty- three seconds. My hands are bleeding, and throbbing, but I don’t care. I shove all my weight against the Timer, ramming into it with my shoulder. My vision is blurring from the pain.
It is getting faster, I know it is. I bite my lip against the throbbing pain I feel and try one more time to bust the thing open.
In pure rage, I fall to the ground and scream. “What will happen?” I shout to the ceiling. “What will happen?” I yell at the windows.
“What will happen?” I whisper to myself. My body goes weak and becomes a slumped pile of limbs in the middle of the cell.
It’s happening. Whatever it is, I’ll find out soon.