Friday, August 1, 2008

The White Room (Fiction Friday)

***This is posted for Fiction Fridays Hosted @ Patterings, by Patty Wysong. Click here to read or add more great fiction!***

The White Room

They put me in the white room again.

I must’ve done something wrong.


I heard voices outside the door, fading in and out. They belong to the door guards, one on each side, to catch me red-handed if I dare to step out. Then I would be shuttled off to Madame Isabel and subjected to her methods of discipline.

The white room is white, very white. Sometimes I close my eyes when I stand inside, because it is so bright. I cannot focus because of the conversation just beyond the door.

It was interesting for me to hear about ordinary, mundane things, such as dinner and the daily news. The guard on the left, Sanjay, was worried that his wife had put pepper in his lunch because of an argument. The guard on the right, Bracken, was concerned about his heating bill, since his butler had taken ill and could not attend to menial matters.

I could not stop the giggle that came out, but it did scare me. I must never speak or show emotion when in the white room. I must only be as empty and expressionless as it is.

The door opened and my handler, Deena, appeared. “Chiara? Come now.” She held out her hand and I took it. The customary blindfold was secured and we trekked down the hall.

Sanjay and Bracken escorted us, I heard their footsteps. I wished I could have stayed in the white room. It is also one of the three places I am allowed in this institute. It is a pleasant dream, compared to the dreaded courtroom and the responsibility shoved onto me upon my arrival.

Ancient wooden doors creaked open and I felt piercing eyes of the twelve tribunal elders as Deena removed the blindfold.

“Chiara!” Maribel rose, her regal robes floated as she moved to stand before me. “You realize you have been summoned, correct?”

I nodded.

“Do you understand your role in this trial?”

I nodded. Deena nudged me. “Yes, milady.” I parroted.

Her nose wrinkled. “Very well then, bring the accused?”

Sanjay and Bracken were dispatched to retrieve the prisoners whose fates were now left in my hands.

A young couple, married, perhaps a few, mere years. The husband was quiet, controlled, the wife, pretty, but rebellious. In our society, women do not wear nose rings. This woman had a large, golden hoop that danced with every twitch of her nose.

Maribel read out the charges, while I tried not to laugh. Deena rested her hands on my shoulder, the blindfold dangling from her thumb.

“…and how do you find them? Guilty? Or not guilty? Stealing the royal treasure is a grave and serious crime. They were arrested on the premises, with golden artifacts in their arms, yet they plead innocent.” Maribel scowled. “Chiara?”

I stared at them. There had to be some hint, somewhere. The minutes trickled by and then the wife’s nose twitched. I could not restrain the laughter that bubbled out.

“Chiara!” Maribel’s wrath thundered out as a an ominous growl. Deena whisked the blindfold up and clapped a hand over my mouth.

I almost laughed until I heard Sanjay’s sword as he drew it. Deena’s grip tightened on my mouth, around my neck. I could feel her fear. She was more afraid for herself than me.

Concentrate! I squeezed my eyes shut, willing the white room to return to me. “Wait!”

Silence and fate hung thick in the air.

Maribel cleared her throat.

I crossed my toes inside their velvet slippers and prayed that I’d speak this right. “They are not guilty. The ones who stole the artifacts are at least several inches taller and definitely heavier. What was the weight of the items found in their possession?”

Deena whispered something in my ear and I nodded, mentally whisking away the information to fit them in the right places. “They aren’t even physically capable of removing such artifacts.” I frowned. “The wife is pregnant, hence she would not lift anything that would endanger her child. He-” I nodded in what I hoped was the direction of the husband. “could be a mastermind, but is too rash in his thoughts. If you were to compare his thought waves with that of a Syrian thief, you could prove this by scanning the area for perfect DNA prints. There is no way that he could, um, how should I put this-” I tugged on Deena’s hand and whispered the remaining words into her ear.

She squeezed my shoulder, then spoke to Maribel in hushed tones. The blindfold quickly was removed.

Maribel’s perfectly groomed eyebrows arched upwards in admiration. “Very well done, Chiara.” She grudgingly admitted. “You may take your leave.”

I released a classic breath that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. Sleep seemed the next logical option. I yawned.

Deena frowned as I toyed with the sash of my dress. “Chiara…?”

“Hmmm?” I focused on the purple bow on Maribel’s robe.

“The whole truth.” Deena prompted. “Now…anytime now.”

I bit the words back for a split-second. The hopeful, tortured gazes of the young couple didn’t help their case much, for the words came out on their own.

“They are innocent of the current crime posted to them, but guilty as those who vandalized the Ancient’s libarary.” The heavy silence resumed with the added annoyance of angry glares.

“What?” Maribel snorted.

“The red lines around their necks, hidden by the necklaces, those are from ill-fitting elastico masks. They leave that sort of mark behind. Um, her ladyship, if I may, um, her fingernails…are polished the same color of the paint, which, if she is tested for paint…you will find traces of it on her cuticles or mixed with the polish. She is not the kind to pay meticulous attention to such details. Her companion is also missing an earring…perhaps the one that is probably still somewhere in the library. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have tried to comb his hair down to make it appear as if only his left ear is pierced.”

The stream of words gushed to a stop and I took a breath. The silence lifted a few inches. Deena sighed. “That is all?”

“Yes, Deena.” I caught her hand in mine, tugging on the fingers.

“You will excuse us, council, Milady.” Deena tipped her head towards the elder as she turned me around, heading for the door.

“Deena!” Maribel smiled as I turned to face her. “It seems your charge is having some…difficulties in remembering her place and duty.” Icy eyes laughed at me. “See that she visits Madame Isabel. There is no room for error in the trials…the fate of lives is not a game.”

I cringed beneath the weight of her words, but couldn’t let them go. “That’s funny. It seems I’m nothing more than a machine to you. A perfect, pretty little thinking box. I have feelings, you know, I am real! You’re just a-”

Deena clapped a hand over my mouth and hurried me out the door. The moment she rounded the corner, she stopped and shook me. "What did you think you were doing?" Tears pooled at the corners of her eyes and she grabbed me into a fierce hug. “I’m sorry.” She whispered. “I’m so, so sorry. You’re not a machine, Chiara. I know you have feelings. I had to ask you, you know that. You were being too obvious…I didn’t think she’d send you to Isabel.”

I sniffled into her sensible shoulder.

She stroked my hair, gently. “Someday…perhaps we’ll both get out of here…and be free. Wouldn’t that be nice?” I nodded as she straightened and started down the dreaded hallway. “We’ll be free to be quiet or to speak…when we want to. Not when we’re ordered to.”

Copyright 2008 S.Harricharan

6 comments:

Shirley said...

wow... I was very disappointed to hit the end of this. When are you finishing the book and getting it published????

Thanks for your comment on my blog and I would feel very honored to have my blog listed on the site of such a talented writer!

Love you sister!

Shirley

Blessed One said...

Boy, did this give me the heebie-jeebies! As usual, you leave me wanting to know the rest of the story. I sure hope they get their freedom. Thanks for sharing this. And than you too, for adding my to your blogroll. I'm honored that you would do so. Blessings to you and have a wonderful weekend!

The Surrendered Scribe said...

This was chilling!! You build amazing momentum, I forget to breathe reading your stories!

Lynda Schab said...

I've said it before but you are so wise and talented beyond your years (you young thing, you!). Good stuff, Sara. As usual.

WhoAmI said...

Oooh, Sara! I want to know more...MUCH more. Fascinating story.

Josh said...

Wow, Sara. How old are you exactly? I'm pretty sure you are younger than I am, and yet you possess such great writing ability.

i felt like I was witness to a forensic investigation and trial. Very suspenseful and intriguing.

I appreciate you linking to my blog on your blog. Thanks so much! :)