The Cave

For years upon years I have stared at this wall. We have all stared at this wall, at the shadows that grow and twist and turn. I can see the wall and I can see the shadows, I can feel the heat on my back and the grains beneath my seat. The sparkled flecks of quartz in the rock gleam like eyes watching back at me, and I can see the cracks in the rock beneath the shadows.

I don’t know why I have been chained. We all sit here, day after day, month after month. We have long ago run out of things to say, and now we merely babble, our voices intertwining in moans and and murmurs, protestations of humanity without words. Sometimes I think I have lost the ability to speak, but it always comes back.

The food that comes to us is bland, in every way. Formless, shapeless, colorless, tasteless. I suppose it must be nutritional, or else we all would have perished, but it seems strange that one would have designed this food to taste like nothing. And our waste! Forgive me for my rudeness, but our waste just disappears, as if it were never there.

There’s no sound but the faint whistle of wind, the fire, and our voices. There’s no taste. There’s no smell except the faint scent of smoke. I feel only the fellows around me, and their closeness, but that is all. I have forgotten their names. I don’t know why I have been subjected to this.

Why do I not feel pain? That is true. Why do I not feel pain, if I am not free to move? Shouldn’t I cramp, or itch? I feel nothing. I am a mind inhabiting a body, a pilot in a tank of meat. I float aimless in the dark starless sky of my consciousness, and I form shapes out of the patterns of shadows on my wall. On the wall. I see their fuzzy outlines and I imagine them as people, or animals, or clouds, or monsters.

I spend hours staring at these shadows, at their changing form and twisting countenance. I have seen the faces of my fellows, and they no longer interest me. I can tell you their faces down to the last hair. I know their moles and their pores, the location of their nostrils vis a vis their eyes, the recession of their hairline and how fast it’s progressing. I know…strangely, I still don’t know their names, or age, or where they’re from. I don’t know that for myself, either, come to think of it.

I should know my name, I think. I think I should be panicked that I don’t, that I have no name and no age and nobody that I am. But I am strangely calm, because the focus in my mind is on the shapes of the shadows on the wall. I focus on the angles, the curves and the ways that the black fuzzes at the edge. I focus on the cast, and in my mind is filled visions of shadows, dancing.


Last night I had a dream. In my dream I was in a cave and chained. My chains were broken, and I ventured outside to the mouth of the cave. Inside was a fire, and it blinded me. I couldn’t see anymore. But outside was a green world filled with sunshine. And I left.


When I wake up, my eyes still see shadows on the cave wall, but my mind is filled with memories of a green world, and shadows are banished therefrom.

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