Steve laid face down on his bunk with his chin resting upon arms folded in front of hm. I had been an hour since the six-legged creature had crawled back into its hole along the base of the
cement floor. The man’s eyes wandered randomly about the cell, but after
each successive perusal of the iron bars, the hard, dusty floor, or the cracked, chipped walls, his eyes returned to the crevice
in which the tiny creature lived.
Scattered along the edge of the walls were tiny, multi-colored flakes and chips of paint. Various blotches of faded yellows, blues, and greens plastered the predominantly off-orange walls, layers
of one color falling away to reveal another color beneath it, like torn patches of a tattered, stained quilt.
Steve shifted several times on his bed, readjusting his weight to avoid lumps and depressions that rifled the mattress
from years of use. He wore only a pair of brown boxer shorts. Occasionally, his foot would play with the dark green, wool blanket that lay crumpled at the head of the
bed. The single, bright light bulb overhead illuminated the entire eight-by-four
His eyes soon began to weaken and close. The next thing he remembered
hearing was the high-pitched squeal of rusty metal wheels that passed up and down the tier three times a day. The scent of cooked stew and stale bread filled the moist, sticky air.
Soon, a rectangular, brown tray was slip under the cell door. The plastic
lid was slightly ajar.
Steve thought about moving, but when he tried to put that thought into action, he found that his limbs would not comply;
they refused to move. He closed his eyelids once again. When he opened them next, his eyes immediately peered at the hole in the corner of his cell, where two
long, hair-like filaments were protruding, each moving slightly although no breeze stirred the room. Before long, the antennae were followed by the sharp, tiny protuberance of its brown shell and legs. Steve watched quietly as the insect suddenly scurried across the hard, unswept floor. It moved in a series of quick starts and stops.
When the insect finally reached the tray, it disappeared beneath the tilted lid.
After a long while, footsteps were heard down the hall followed by the familiar squeal.
A hand reached under the cell door, grabbing the unmoved tray. Immediately,
the long, brown insect emerged from the tray, dropping to the floor and stopping for a moment just under the door. The next thing Steve saw as he laid upon the bed was a single boot rise and fall upon the creature. As the whine of the wheels receded down the tier, all that remained was a small,
moist, brown spot upon the hard, dry floor.