<USS Banshee> "The Feeling of Freedom"

  • From: "Brad Ruder" <GroundZero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ussbanshee@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 20:36:56 -0800

?The Feeling of Freedom?
A Flashback Log
by Lieutenant Joshua Asper

He heard it. As clear as day the voice pierced the pleasurable silence that he had settled into. His face was tucked carefully and comfortably into the thin pillow and the thin blanket covered his features like a protective close. The warmth that had been concealed within it was about to be released, but he refrained from moving ? hoping for just a couple minutes more of solitude and comfort. With every second that he didn?t move, he could feel it coming closer.

?Asper, get out of bed before we have to come in there and do it by force.? Josh poked up his head, just long enough to give the guard standing just feet away a look that would halt and angry Klingon in his tracks. The guard perked a smile and then returned his iron gaze to Josh ? still entrenched perfectly within his sanctuary of cotton and bliss. ?I?m giving you the count of three to get up.?

?All right, Mom, you can count until you?re blue in the face. I?m not moving.?

?Josh, you know that I don?t want hurt you.? The man tapped the stick rather impatiently in his hand.

Poking his head out again, Josh smiled that rebellious and provoking smile that he used so often. ?I thought you weren?t allowed to call it ?hurt? anymore? Some sort of loop hole that enabled you to call it something like ?stimulating the not stimulated??? Josh?s arm poked out into the open air and readjusted the sheet so it covered him once more.

?It?s the justice system; you know how they work.?

?Yeah, that?s why I?m here, remember??

?You paralyzed that kid, Josh, there wasn?t a way in hell to get you around, out of, or ahead of those charges. I?m surprised you haven?t been charged for starting a riot or something. The last one, as I recall, you stopped by saving the warden.? The incessant tapping of the metal stick stopped as the guard instead ran it annoyingly along the wall.

Finally sitting up, the cotton dragging over his bare chest, Josh threw mental daggers at the intrusive guard. ?He insulted my family.?

?Oh, so why didn?t you kill him??

?I tried.?

?That?s too bad, we could?ve put you somewhere a little less comfortable and more heavily guarded.? A sickening and corrupted smile twisted its way across the face of the slimy guard. His features tensed as he quickened the pace of the stick against any object within reach. ?You shouldn?t be here.?

Josh smiled as he threw his feet over the solid concrete floor and stood erect; he almost rivaled the crooked guard in hit and intimidation. He took a couple of steps forward, all the while keeping his stare locked into the angry and tormented abyss that was his keeper?s eyes. Josh tilted his neck casually to the side; his gaze still not straying from the still smiling individual who kept him locked up. ?You?re a horrible person, you know that??

?I try, just to make you more and more irritable. One of these times you?ll do something and mess up. And, when you do, I?ll be there to not catch you, but to kick you constantly when you?re down. I?ll make sure you never stand again, but consistently fail and writhe in the bitter agony that your life has dwindled down to.? Again, the guard puffed himself up to make himself look more power, when all it did was make him look more childish and more like a bully.

A bully that needed to be taught a lesson.

?So, what is on the agenda for today?? Josh turned from the unimposing figure and retreated further into his cell and current place of residence. He pulled on a shirt from the rack that hung above his bed and slipped the standard-issue white T-shirt over his chest. Josh figured, as was the normal for a Saturday morning, that it would consist of Parrises Squares, or some other form of recreational activity.

After all, Starfleet didn?t like to have fat prisoners sitting around rotting in cells at detention centers. No, they preferred that their inmates were physically fit and able to, quote, ?return to active community service? when their terms had been served and completed.

The guard let another cruel smile tug at his lips, ?For you, we?re going on a little field trip.?

?I?d love to go and see your mother, Davis, but I saw her last night.? Of course hadn?t, but it was always fun to watch the smile fade into oblivion as the look of rage and uncontrollable anger returned and consumed his face. Josh, of course, couldn?t help but stifle a simple smile and shrug as he doused his face with water to bring him fully into consciousness.

The guard scratched the back of his neck; ?Clever, too bad we?re not in the twentieth century anymore.?

?Where are we going??

?You?ll see, but you?re probably not going to like it.?

Josh perked an eyebrow as he turned towards the guard, ?Is this authorized??


***** ***** ***** ***** *****

The rocky slope tilted upward again putting even more strain on Josh?s legs as he trudged up the perilous jagged incline. With every step he had to make sure that a sharp rock wouldn?t entrench itself into his leg, or another rock wouldn?t give way and send him spiraling downward in an unstoppable fury. A fall, of course, would end with his lifeless body splattering onto the other jagged rocks perched conveniently on the floor of the canyon from which they had started from.

Reaching the pinnacle of the formidable obstacle, Josh gazed out across the landscape, which seemed to stretch forever in all directions. Mountains of blue stood like royalty to the north. Their snow-covered peaks were like beacons in the daytime sky as they rose like clouds from the horizon of the Earth. Valleys of green presided over the eastern sky. Everywhere Josh dared to gander there was another magnificent sight that he found inspiring and beautiful.

A sharp object poked him in the sky, snapping his attention back to the reality that he was trying to distance himself from, ?Keep moving, boy.?

?Why don?t you go do something productive and beneficial to the rest of the universe? I know! Why don?t you toss yourself helplessly off the cliff? That would better all mankind.? Josh rubbed the spot in which he was poked and glanced again about the scenery.

?How about I push you??

?You need to stop and smell the roses, figuratively speaking. Look at what?s before you.? Josh paused and put his hands on his hips, losing himself once again the awe and marvel of the beautiful place in which he?d been showed. ?Life is to short to worry about the trivial and complex, you need to embrace the simpler things.?

The guard poked him again, harder this time, and the sick smile again spread itself across the offensive face. ?Why don?t you shut up? All you do is talk about beauty and things of that nature, kind of odd for someone who almost killed a kid.?

He just didn?t get it.

?I don?t give a damn whether or not I killed him, the fact is I am sorry about what I did. I overreacted and I regret what I did, every minute of it. I?ve sent the kid letters, he?s forgiven me and he?s even changed his ways. I?ve moved on, I plan on doing so after I get out of that hell hole that you refer to as your place of employment.? Josh pushed his anger deeper inward and just out of reach of conscious access. ?I refuse to let myself go through this again, I won?t fail again.?

?Wow, that was beautiful.? The guard seemed almost?normal. He holstered the stick carefully just above his right leg and walked over to stand beside Josh. His eyes, Josh observed, stretched outward and examined the portrait of perfection that the high spot on the mountain allowed. ?You?re right about the trivial and the complex, man, I see what you mean.?

Looking to the apparently changed man, Josh tried to decipher whether or not he was being sarcastic or sincere ? you could never tell with Davis. ?You knew this place was here, didn?t you ever take a minute to look around??

?No, actually, there always seemed to be more important things to do.? He sighed as his head continued searching the mountains and the valleys; at last, Josh realized that the man was looking through new eyes. They were still tainted, they would remain like that for awhile, but at least it was a start.

?So, why did you bring me up here then??

Davis pointed in front of Josh and up the hill away; a place that Josh had neglected to look during his circle of the landscape. Up a ways there was a wooden structure. The wooden planks looked weathered and ready to give way under even the slightest of pressure. Josh mused that it was an ancient lookout post, or something of the post.

?What the hell is it?? Josh?s eyes strained to see the minute details from such a distance, but he could only make out the wood and a rope draped over a plank that was about ten feet in the air.

?It?s called a gallows. In ancient times, when people such as yourself committed a horrendous crime like you did, they were hung by their necks until dead.? The guard trudged off in the direction of the rickety structure. His hand rested on the stick that Josh had been hit with so many times. The gait was unmatchable; it slowly increased until the guard was almost at a dead run.

Josh walked, at his own pace, after him and arrived just shortly after the guard slowed and stopped in front of the place of death. ?You?re telling me that they exhibited capital punishment on people??

?Unsophisticated, huh?? Another sickening smile, which Josh winced at, slowly appeared on the lips of the guard.

?Whatever works.?

?I?m glad you feel that way??

Without a word further, the holstered stick became removed and found it a place to dwell on Josh?s skull. Josh collapsed forward, unable to consciously hold himself up under the stress of such a blow. His knees, which had buckled, slammed without resistance against the rocks of the mountain face. His head landed, fortunately, on a sandy patch.

His hands were instantly bound and a leg shoved without mercy into his spine. His cried out in pain, but quickly took muffled himself as he squirmed against his attacker. Davis increased the pressure, and Josh felt his back pop under the stress. His hands weren?t bound with normal restraints, but with unconventional rope. The fibers made his wrists itch and each time he moved they sent a searing pain of fire down his arms.

?Get off me?what are you doing?!? Josh managed to spit out through the sand and the blood that covered his face. It was throbbing from the fall, and he?d tasted more dirt and sand than he would actually cared too.

?No, you arrogant little punk. You?re going to be hung right here and no one will ever find out.? The voice that came was angry and not at all in tranquillity as it was just a couple minutes before. At that point Josh was yanked from the ground to a standing position. His head reeled and the world spun around as he struggled to maintain his footing. Davis supported Josh as he dragged him, half dead, to the wooden partition.

Davis pushed him up the steps and to the center of the structure. Josh heard the boards creaking like an old house as they slowly made their way across the platform. Josh looked out over the scenery, barely able to focus as it all blurred together into a slew of endless colors, shapes, and formations. Suddenly blackness took him over, but he could still hear and feel.

A bag was thrown over his head and he could feel a rope being thrown over his neck. He trembled now, not sure of how to proceed or how to act. Josh wasn?t ready to die, and he wasn?t ready to accept the fact that Davis had beaten. He struggled with his hands, but the burning sensation still stung at him and his blindness caused him frustration on where to step.

?Davis, you can?t do this.? Josh said in desperation, hoping to buy a couple more precious minutes of life and humanity. ?This isn?t right.?

A figure moved around behind him, ?I can do this, and it may not be right ? but I?m still doing it.?

Adrenaline pumped through Josh?s veins. Sweat drenched his brow and it drenched the cotton bag that covered his sight. His eyes, now swelling up with the salty water that forms his tears, Josh?s thoughts raced to his father and his recent death. Josh remembered quickly his family and accepted that it would be the end, there was no way out of it.

?Here goes, say hello to whoever leads the afterlife.?

Josh took a breath.

The figure, barely visible through the darkened cloth, reached forward for something.

His heart beat got louder and louder.

The sweat poured faster.

The hand moved and a creak was heard.

The Earth stopped.

The floor gave way underneath Josh. He could feel gravity pull him down, down, down?down to death. It was inevitable that there was a sickening snap as the rope pulled taut and Josh would be done. The snap came and Josh felt himself collapse into the ground with a velocity that caused his legs to buckle underneath him once again.

But, he wasn?t dead.

Davis removed the blindfold and hoisted Josh to his feet. Undoing the restraints that had been laid upon Josh and his wrists. Running his hands delicately over the abrasions that had formed on his skin, Josh turned an angry and sinister glare towards his captor. ?What the hell was that for??

?To show you what it?s like to almost have your life taken away.?

?Punishment?? Josh removed the noose from his head and tossed it harmlessly away into the weeds and underbrush that had grown up around the abandon place of execution.

Davis shook his head and smiled, ?It was more like an extreme learning experience.?

Rubbing his neck he looked at Davis, ?Could you have hit me any harder??

?I?m sure I could have. I know that I?ve given you hell, Josh, but was only because I?ve seen too many screw ups while I?ve been assigned here. They screw up and come to the facility, they stay and they leave; low and behold after a couple of months they are back in serving the same time for the same crime.? Davis put a comforting hand on Josh?s shoulder, ?I don?t want you to go through that.?

Josh locked eyes with the man and realized the sincerity in the man?s voice and words. ?Thank you.?

?Just make sure that when you get to the academy that you?ll write and inform me of your progress.? Davis handed Josh a PADD, dusty and dirty from the trek up the mountain slope to the solitude of the ridge. ?Congratulations.?

Taking the PADD and examining it carefully, Josh laughed and hugged Davis even though the man was constantly his enemy over the almost two years that he?d been a resident of the detention facility. ?I?m out of here in a week and a half and I?ve already been accepted into Starfleet Academy!?

?You?ll do just fine.?

?Thanks, Davis, you pig-headed bastard.?

?Same to you, you arrogant piece of trash.?

The two embraced again and they began their trek back down the slope to home. A home that had been home for two years and one that Josh would finally turn his back on. At least, this time, Josh wouldn?t be hesitant about leaving home ? he accepted it and began counting down the days. Two years of being shut off from life ? it was time to start living again.

It was time to take his life back.

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