<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?
by Lieutenant Joshua Asper
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.
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.?
right, Mom, you can count until you?re blue in the face. I?m not
?Josh, you know that I don?t want hurt you.? The man
tapped the stick rather impatiently in his hand.
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
?It?s the justice system; you know how they
?Yeah, that?s why I?m here, remember??
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
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
?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
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
?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 that needed to be taught a
?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
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
?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
?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
?Maybe.? ***** *****
***** ***** *****
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
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
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 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
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
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
?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
?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.
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.
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.
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
?Unsophisticated, huh?? Another sickening smile,
which Josh winced at, slowly appeared on the lips of the guard.
?I?m glad you feel that
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
?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
?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
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.
barely visible through the darkened cloth, reached forward for
His heart beat got louder and louder.
sweat poured faster.
The hand moved and a creak was
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
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.?
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??
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
Josh locked eyes with the man and realized the
sincerity in the man?s voice and words. ?Thank you.?
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
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
?You?ll do just fine.?
?Thanks, Davis, you
?Same to you, you arrogant piece of
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
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