Iron bars, concrete, and cinder blocks encompassed his world for almost as far back as he could remember. He never cared to think of his life before, of the rest of the world outside, despite their constant nagging at the the corners of his mind and the tormenting nightmares they imparted. It saved him from the plague of his past. He told himself, that had been a different man then, that he was a different man now. That man had a name long forgotten, this man now only a number, 8456333. He was Threes now, three threes in fact, the trinity twice; no one with such a divine name could have done what they said he had done or what the other him had done.
The prosecutor said he committed the act, had said his name, not his name but the old forgotten name of the man before Threes; and he had pointed, yes pointed right at him, the man becoming Threes. The story the prosecutor told made so much sense, followed so logically. The defender sat next to the man becoming Threes. He never looked him in the eye, he had assumed but never asked, he didn’t want to know what the man before Threes had done or had not done. He artfully painted a story as well, it didn’t make sense, didn’t follow logically. The jury didn’t take long. The judge wasn’t surprised. Threes forgot the past, forgot the truth, and embraced the present, embraced the confinement, embraced the simplicity, embraced Threes.
He was innocent once, he remembered. At least he thought he remembered. He just couldn’t recall if he ever believed he was innocent. It no longer mattered. The truth died with the man before Threes so long ago. He was guilty now. Innocence, if there was any, died the moment he awoke in that room. It was Threes’ oldest memory. Prior to that morning in that room he was blank. He knew the man with a name before Threes, had a past, but Threes did not.
He remembered her. Her face calm, still emotionless, a serene island of peace in a storm of chaos. The prosecutor claimed the man before Threes was cold-blooded. Claimed that his ability to sleep next to her as she bled out showed it. The defender claimed it was proof he was innocent, claimed no one would be able to fall asleep in such a state. The defender didn’t believe his words. The jury hadn’t believed the words. The judge hadn’t believed the words. Threes had believed the words, once. At least he thought he believed, once.
She had visited Threes a few times in his isolation. She came to remind him of what they said he’d done. She came to remind him of what he believed the man before Threes had done. She laid on his bed calm and undisturbed; she came before the blood. The blood came and interrupted his routine, interrupted the simplicity, the blood came and ended the quiet. It was her blood, the blood from the bed that morning so long ago. The blood followed him, chased him, hunted him. The blood came for the man before Threes, but Threes was all that remained. It seeped from the ceiling at night when he was alone. It came through the crevices. Viscous, it slid down the walls, covered the cement, covered the cinder blocks, covered the iron bars. Red-black, it bubbled up from the floor. It filled his isolation chamber in darkness. When the blood came Threes closed his eyes, rested on his cot and prayed for the blood to take him. The blood rose above his cot, threatened to drown him. Sticky, slick, and sweet, it flowed into his mouth. He coughed and choked on the metallic taste. Occasionally Threes screamed. The guards never came. The blood never took him. The blood always left him.
The guards came now. They came for the man before Threes but they, unlike the blood, would take Threes instead. They shackled his ankles, bound his wrists. They took him from his bare isolation and walked him down the hall. In front of the other rooms of isolation, Threes trudged, a guard on each side and one behind. Cuffs chafed and chains clattered with each shuffle of his feet. Evil and lost souls mocked him, berated him, and lamented in solace as he passed in front of their locked cages. Threes paid no attention, knowing they were more concerned with the sight of their future paths, their last walk.
At last they reached the isolated room tucked away in the back of the prison. Threes had learned of the room’s existence long before, but had never been allowed to witness it. Clean white walls and a familiar gray concrete floor. Simplicity and function drove the room as only an uncomfortable wooden chair draped with cables and ropes occupied the space. Standing still, frozen at the door, Threes was reluctant to enter. One of two men standing at the back of the room clad in all black stepped forward. He peered through Threes, his deep faded blue eyes sunken behind a black hood coaxed Threes into the room and towards the chair.
Strapped to the chair by leather, wrapped in and attached to nearly endless coils of wire, Threes felt the blood return in this room, with these people present. His witnesses paid no attention, but Threes could feel the blood rise. It stuck to his flesh, covered the chair, filled the wood fibers to almost splintering. The man in black softly whispered a name, the man before Threes’ name. Threes remembered it now, felt the flood of memories return. In hushed tones the man in black continued and asked for final words. The blood reached the man before Threes mouth, he coughed and hacked on the taste of blood. The man in black walked out of his reddened sight. Two switches flipped. The blood finally filled his eyes completely blinding him, finally at long last the blood left and took the man before Threes.