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“Lucid” by M.R. Anderson: SMU Fiction Award Honorable Mention

Lucid

by

M.R. Anderson

I used to be a normal guy with some money issues. Your average ne’er do well, uneducated, lazy late twenty-something with too much free time and not enough motivation.  My philosophy was, why rush life? While my peers climbed the rungs on the Ladder of Business Casual Slavery, I floated from menial job to menial job. Grocery clerk, valet, waiter, burger flipper, garbage man, you name it I did it. That guy in high school who got all his spare cash from blood and sperm donations? That was me. Pathetic? Yes. But I never had secret fantasies about killing anyone back then. Nightmares, sure, but nothing bad.

Six months ago I was looking through a paper someone had thrown out trying to find my next quick fix cash infusion. A pick-me-up for my wallet. You know those advertisements pharmaceutical companies will put out offering to pay cash if you test their new product for a few months? “Gluc-Aid is looking for volunteers suffering from diabetes to test a wonderful new treatment.” I do that sometimes. It’s easy enough and most of the time you don’t get any side effects other than scaly skin and occasional vomiting.  The trick is to only go for the relatively minor illnesses so that you don’t get yourself too sick. Allergy medications are always a safe bet, and so are pain relievers, but never, ever test topical creams. I’d pick an illness and a fake name, and week by week tell them I felt a little bit better. In return I was given a few hundred bucks in non-taxable cash each month. On one particular day I was browsing these ads when one particular slogan caught my interest, in a small unassuming font between Retinex and Follicure: “Suffering from insomnia? Nightmares? Restless sleep? Let the Morpheus Institute help. Call us today to become a paid volunteer for our new dream therapy program.” An opportunity to be paid for testing a real problem I had? Saying I was interested is an understatement. It was more than a chance for quick cash: for once, I could do some honest work. And like a fool, I fell for it.

When I called I was greeted by a recording: “Thank you for calling the Morpheus Institute. Our normal hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 8:30 AM until 6:00 PM. To reach our automated support service, press one. To speak with a live service representative, press two. For information about one of our upcoming sleep seminars, press three.” I mashed two. “One moment please. One of our trained representatives will be with you shortly.” This was followed by a delay and some enlightened New Age relaxation music; the sort of synthesized nonsense supposedly designed by real doctors, hypnotic and repetitive, repetitive, repetitive.

A woman’s voice woke me from my trance. “Thank you for calling the Morpheus Institute, how can we help you today?”

“Hi,” I said. “I saw your ad in the paper about the dream therapy thing. Volunteers get paid in cash, right?”

“Yes sir. Are you interested in participating?”

I told her I was.

“Fantastic. And can I get your name?”

“Anthony Burgess.”

“Employed?”

“I’m between jobs.”

“And what sort of sleep related illnesses are you currently suffering from?”

“Nightmares.”

“Is there any history of mental illness in your family?”

“My father shot himself when I was a kid.”

She told me to come to the Morpheus Institute’s main sleep lab at Lynch and 42nd, Tuesday afternoon at three. I would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement and a six-month contract. They would pay me fifty grand at the end of the six months she said, during which time I would remain at the Morpheus Institute. Sounds great, I said. I moved out of my apartment, put my belongings into a storage unit, and left my life behind. Nobody would miss me, and I wouldn’t miss my life. The only things of value I had were some old baseball cards, a lamp my grandfather gave me, some tools left over from one of my old jobs, and an old pistol I’d had since I was six. The only thing left to remind me of my father.

On Tuesday at three fifteen I strolled into the Morpheus Institute sleep lab- a large, squat building with blacked-out windows and spartan landscaping on the outside, off-white walls and cheap, easy-to-clean blue carpet on the inside. The lobby looked like a hospital waiting room, complete with old magazines and a collection of nervous looking individuals, only on the walls instead of health tips and diplomas there were various framed news articles, prints of Escher paintings, and several Rorschach ink blots.

I introduced myself to the receptionist, a heavy blonde in pink scrubs. “You’re late,” she said, and passed me a thick packet of forms to sign. I didn’t read them, of course, but signed them all the same–I don’t believe in legal jargon.  Soon after I was called by name into one of their waiting rooms by a different nurse in light blue scrubs, the room again in typical hospital configuration, padded table with a paper covering to the left, cupboards and sharps disposal to the right. I brought it up to the nurse, who told me that the sleep lab used to be a mercy hospital before it closed down. I sat on the examination table and waited for the doctor.

I was alone for nearly twenty minutes before I heard a knock. A tall, thin man with short black hair, glasses, and an awkward fake smile poked his head inside the room. “Mr. Burgess?”

Edmund, I almost said, but caught myself and recovered with a goofy grin. “That’s me,” I said.

He stepped inside. The man was six three, maybe six four. His white lab coat would probably swallow me. He walked over to shake my hand. “I’m Dr. Klein,” he said. “Welcome to the Morpheus Institute.”

I already knew who he was. His face had been all over the news a year and a half ago for his advances in the field of neural science. He was something of a celebrity in the scientific community. He’d even been named Brave New World’s Person of the Year. Not that I cared at all, but it’s hard not to notice when the media decides to put someone on a pedestal.

“Great to be here,” I lied.

He pulled a chair from against the wall and sat down next to the examination table. “Before we begin, do you know what it is we do here at the Morpheus Institute?”

“You cure people of nightmares and insomnia,” I said.

He smiled. “We do much, much more than that here, as you’ll soon find out. One of our top areas of research is the study of dreams—all aspects of them; meaning, effects on the body, cause. It’s really quite a fascinating and exciting field.”

“And I’m a guinea pig for dream therapy?” I asked. “What do I have to do?”

“Have you ever heard of Sigmund Freud, or Carl Jung?”

“Freud, yes,” I said. “Sex addict? Not Jung, though.”

“Well, I’ll spare you the lecture, but put simply both of these men were prominent psychologists in their time, and are still very highly regarded. They were the pioneers of dream analysis—when someone had a problem in their life, they would sit down on the couch, much like you are on my table, and tell the doctor their dreams and he would say, ‘the flying moose symbolizes your want of freedom,’ or in Freud’s case, ‘you want to sleep with your mother.’ It is Jung’s ideas, and especially his theory of a collective unconscious, on which we here at the Morpheus Institute capitalize. Dream therapy, as we’ve developed it, takes traditional dream analysis a step further.”

“How?” I asked.

He smiled. “Have you ever heard of lucid dreaming?”

*          *           *

It’s called being lucid. It’s the state of being conscious within a dream without actually waking up. You’re dreaming, and you know you’re dreaming, but the dream carries on. Through practice, Dr. Klein told me, you could even learn to control the dream, change it. It sounds like a fanciful plot device in some writer’s half-baked story, but the reality is it’s a well-documented and reproducible phenomenon. Occasionally it will occur randomly, but there are traditional methods of inducing a lucid dream.  One technique is to perform reality checks throughout the day, something like checking your watch twice in a row. This sort of habit carries over into your dreams, and in a dream a watch will never display the same time twice, or it will even display an impossible time, giving you the cue to become lucid. Other methods are wake induced lucid dreaming, called WILDing, and even a mask you can wear during sleep that flashes LEDs in your eyes when it detects the rapid eye movements associated with dreaming. These flashes are seen in the dream, you realize what they are, and you become lucid.

What Dr. Klein had me hooked up to was not by any standard traditional.

“We call it an LDI,” Klein said. “Nothing technical about the name, it just stands for Lucid Dream Inducer. The process, however, is quite complex.”

I was enclosed in what appeared to be a modified CAT scan machine. It was the same flat table that slides inside a cylindrical tunnel, illuminated on the interior by a dim blue light. Wires protruded from electrodes adhered to my forehead and snaked off into the dark crevices of the machine. I couldn’t see him, but somewhere in the small test room Dr. Klein sat with two lab assistants in front of an assortment of computers and what looked like an old sound mixing board.

It was about this point that I started having second thoughts about the whole thing.

“As I said earlier, Dream Therapy is the process of confronting your fears, your nightmares, within the safety of your mind. Your experience looks and feels real, but it all occurs inside your head. Using this therapy, we hope someone can be cured of his fear of heights, or spiders.”
“How does this thing work?” I asked nervously, my voice resonating oddly within the tube.

“When the LDI detects REM sleep, it will issue electrical pulses to try and stimulate the areas of the brain that induce lucid dreaming. It’s perfectly safe, I assure you.”

“So I won’t get my brain scrambled.”

“Theoretically, no.”

“Theoretically?”

“Please try to relax, Mr. Burgess.”

I fidgeted nervously inside the tube. Nothing about my current situation was relaxing. “I’m supposed to fall asleep like this?”

“Leave that to us,” came the answer. “Just try to remain calm, please.”

Before I could ask what he meant I heard the distinct hiss of gas, the sound your stove makes before you light it. It was coming from somewhere above me. The air became thicker, harder to breathe, and I started taking huge panicked breaths. It smelled sweet and fake, nauseating like the nitrous oxide they give you at the dentists office. My heart rate jumped, my mind and stomach swirled and I felt like I was drowning. Suddenly I didn’t care about the money anymore. I thrashed my body, pressing against the top of the tunnel with my hands, pleading to be let out, calling for help.

“Please remain calm!” I heard someone yell.

I couldn’t. I was drowning and numb all over. I thrashed until my movements became weak, until my body started giving in to the anesthetic. Soon all I could do was lie still, I couldn’t speak. Couldn’t see.

“What are your fears, Anthony?” the haze asked.

Enclosed spaces. Drowning.

“What are your nightmares?”

The words echoed inside my head, sloshing, inverting themselves, and then nothing.

Only darkness.

Scientists have never figured out what exactly dreams are. Some think they’re premonitions, or a window to the subconscious, or just a stew of memories, desires, and the day’s events. The Egyptians believed it was a way of communicating with the gods. They also believed dreams took you to the underworld.

When I woke up, it was in an unfamiliar room. White carpet, white padded walls, no furniture, no windows. I was wearing a white robe- not my own- and nothing else. The only feature in the room was the large padded door, which I didn’t have to test to understand was locked. I couldn’t tell where I was either, whether I was above ground or below it. My body felt numb, distant. My vision was slightly out of focus, distorted as if looking through a fish bowl. Gravity felt lax.

“Hello?” I called. Muffled, silent, underwater.

No answer.

I tried to recall what had happened, how I had gotten there. The last thing I remembered was the Morpheus Institute and the awful hissing gas. Why was I in this room? It didn’t make sense. None of it made sense. You don’t just lock up test participants; that would be illegal, right? And then the thought struck me: was I dreaming? Was this it? I pinched myself and felt a dull pain, far off. Was it a dream, or just the after effects of the anesthetic?

Again, louder, “Hello?”

Silence.

“Let me out! Somebody!”

I sat with my back against the wall, facing the door, and I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited.

Footsteps outside, loud and echoing. I pressed myself harder against the back wall and brought my knees up to my face, hiding, terrified of The Footsteps.

And then they stopped.

Keys jingling, then the clicking of the lock. The door opened, unnaturally slow, and Dr. Klein walked in, ten feet tall and carrying a clipboard. He pulled a steel chair from outside the room, stopped in front of me and sat.

He cleared his throat. “I’m pleased to see you’re awake. Hello, Anthony.”

I didn’t dare answer.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I forgot. That isn’t your real name. Spencer, right? Spencer Edmund?”

I stared. His clipboard was waving at me.

“You talk in your sleep,” Klein explained.

I waved back at the clipboard.

Klein snapped his fingers in front of my face, and I turned my attention to him.

“You aren’t dreaming. What you’re feeling is a sedative, it should be wearing off soon.”

“Where am I?” I asked.

“You’re still at the Morpheus Institute.”

“Why am I in this room?”

“You’re ours for six months. You signed a contract. Didn’t you read it?”

No, I thought. “I didn’t sign that, it’s not valid. Not my name.”

“Would you rather we turn you in for fraud?”

I smiled and forced a laugh, which sounded more like a deflating tire. “You can’t do that.”

“Sure we can,” Klein said. “You told us a lot when you were under. This isn’t the first time you’ve lied about your identity, right?”

I stopped smiling.

“Or do you want to let the FBI settle this?” Klein asked. “It really doesn’t matter to me who you are or what you’ve done, we just need a test subject. I’m willing to forget the past.”

My head was swimming still, but my senses were starting to come back to me. The drugs were wearing off just like Klein said. I looked up at him, and tried to focus on his face. “How long have I been here?” I asked, rubbing my temple.

“Two days. You collapsed after your first session; we had complications with the LDI. The sedation let your body properly recover.”

I studied the snaking lines of my palms, how they branched off like little sweat-filled riverbeds.

“Well?” Klein said.

“Well what?” I answered.

“Are you ready to continue the therapy?”

*          *           *

There I was, strapped up to Klein’s LDI again. The table hadn’t yet been retracted into the tunnel, leaving me to squint against the harsh fluorescent light.

“We’ve made some adjustments to the machine, so there shouldn’t be any complications this time,” Klein said. “There’s going to be gas again; try not to panic, its just part of the process. You nearly broke our sensors last time.”

He was at the same mixing board post again, only one assistant this time.

“Will I remember anything?”

“You should. You were lucid your first session, but we believe your brain repressed the experience.”

“How long will this take?”

“The average dream cycle lasts twenty minutes,” the assistant said. “It will feel like more from where you’re at.”

“Are you ready?” Klein asked.

I nodded, sweat beading on my brow. Klein, in turn, nodded to his assistant who began fiddling with the mixing board thing. The table began to retract into the tunnel.

“So is there a safe word, or some way out or anything?” I asked nervously.

“No,” came the assistant’s answer.

“What if I get in trouble?”

“Remember that none of it is real,” Klein said. “It’s all in your head. We won’t be able to see what you see; we can only monitor your brainwaves to make sure there are no complications. You control the experience.”

“I control the experience,” I repeated.

The table stopped moving. The LDI enclosed me like a coffin now. Same blue light, same scared shitless feeling. Round two, fight.

“I control the experience,” I repeated again.

The world melted with a hiss of gas.

Darkness. Underwater. I sat up gasping for breath, coughing and splashing water. It was only a foot deep at most, but that didn’t stop the sensation of drowning. My eyes took a moment to adjust, but once they had I could still only see a few feet in every direction, nothing but water. I looked up. The only light came from what looked like a square doorway as high as the sun, too bright to see through.

A dolphin appeared next to me, nudging my shoulder. “Swim!” It said. I started swimming, not wishing to offend the dolphin. After a few moments I realized I was swimming above my childhood neighborhood, the light refracting through the water and shining on the trees. I pulled myself down and landed in the front lawn of my old house. I used to love this place- an old white ranch house built in the fifties, beat up but familiar, safe. I was six again, so happy to be home and running past the perfect flower beds and blooming magnolia tree, up the steps to the red door. The house seemed larger than I remembered- I had to stand on my toes to press the doorbell.

“Mom!” I yelled. “I’m home!”

I looked over my shoulder, up at the blue sky. The clouds were racing at lightning speed, shifting and growing darker. It would storm soon. I let myself inside and ran to my bedroom. The house was as it had always been- seventies style decoration, lots of brown shag carpet, outdated even in the eighties. My movements were gummed up, slowed down as I tried to run faster. I yelled, “Mom!” but no sound came out of my mouth.

“Dad?” I said.

I froze in the doorway to my room. My dad was sitting on my bed in his police uniform, looking at me, talking to me, but his words muffled and inaudible.

His pistol was in his hand.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He was staring at me, tears running down his face but his eyes distant, inhuman. He was speaking but I couldn’t understand the words.

“What are you saying?” I asked. I was crying now too, terrified of what was about to happen.

He brought the pistol up to his head.

“I love you, son.”

He pulled the trigger.

Despair. I ran out the front door of the house, covered in blood. The sky was storming now, grey and violent. The flowers had all died, the grass was brown, the magnolia tree was barren. I was living in The Wasteland.  I ran for miles, unable to escape. My body changed and I was in my normal age again, still running and still crying. I ran until I couldn’t see anymore.

“Why are you crying?” A girl asked.

I jolted up in my car seat. My car seat? I looked around frantically. It was my old mustang, a beat up red 69 fastback. I loved that car. I was in a black tuxedo with a rose pinned to me, and the girl in the passenger seat was in a white and gold dress, a white corsage on her wrist. The details came back to me: prom night, my senior year of high school. The girl was Cindy Butler, my first serious girlfriend. My only serious girlfriend. We were parked in a secluded construction yard. I lost my virginity here.

“He shot himself,” I replied.

“Who did?”

“My dad,” I said, bewildered. “He just shot himself.”

“Spence, what are you talking about?”

“He killed himself! My dad shot himself, right in front of me, it just happened,” I said.

“Spence, are you feeling okay?”

That had just happened. He had just killed himself, I saw it. I was covered in blood a few minutes before, but that was when I was six. That’s impossible. Was I dreaming?

“I’m dreaming,” I said breathlessly.

“You’re not dreaming,” Cindy said, laughing.

The Morpheus Institute. Dr. Klein. Lucid dreaming. This was a lucid dream.

I pinched myself. Ow.

“I’m dreaming, this is a dream,” I asserted. “This isn’t real.”

“You’re so weird,” Cindy said in disgust.

Rage. She had said the same thing to me two weeks later, when she broke up with me for some football player. I had been devastated. She was the first person I had placed all of my trust in. I craved her attention, her affection. The breakup had been completely unexpected. I lost sleep over her. I tried to kill myself over her.

“You ruined my life,” I said. “For him.”

Envy.

“He was sexy.”

“I loved you,” I said. “You made me love you. You left me for some guy you hardly knew, why? Because he was cuter than me? Because he was a jock? We were happy!”

“Stop being such as pussy about it,” she said. “Get a life.”

Anger.

I hated her after she left me. I hated her so fucking much, I wanted to tear her apart. I wanted to destroy her for what she did. Rape her and kill her and show the world that you don’t fuck with Spencer Edmund.

Melancholy.

I stared at my hands. I thought, Dr. Klein, you’re a fucking genius.

“I control the experience,” I said.

“What are you talking about now?”

Remember this before you judge me: everyone is a murderer.

I closed one hand around her throat.

We’ve all wanted someone dead.

“Spence, what are you doing?”

I wrapped the other hand around her throat and squeezed. She started thrashing, making gurgling sounds. I leaned over the center console and pressed my weight against her, crushing her windpipe. She was crying, clawing at my hands, scratching me, kicking the car, trying to scream but unable. Her face turned a fascinating shade of red, then purple. I pressed harder against her, feeling the pleasant, sexual crunch of her esophagus collapsing.

And then she stopped moving.

Solitude.

I started laughing.

I woke up inside the padded room again, still giggling. Klein was sitting in front of me in his steel chair, clipboard in hand, staring expectantly. There was no groggy after effect this time, just complete, unadulterated bliss.

“How do you feel?” Klein asked.

“Amazing,” I said breathlessly.

And we left it at that.

We continued the therapy. Each session I became lucid earlier and earlier, until I was concious from the get go. Each session I took full advantage of exploring and exploiting my dreams. I soon found that I had a monster buried inside of me that couldn’t resist the temptations of consequence free action, and each session I let that monster out to play. It felt good. Hell, it felt fucking wonderful. By embracing my dark side in my dreams, I became a perfect little Zen master during my waking moments.

At first it was only small things. Lying, cheating, stealing, and lots of sex. Rough sex, kinky sex, domination, things I didn’t even know the name of, fantasies I would never live out in real life. Before long though my actions in this consequence free environment became progressively worse. Rape and murder soon became commonplace. I killed whoever I wanted: enemies, friends, acquaintances, family, celebrities, people I had never met before. None of it mattered. None of it was real. It was the ultimate way of letting go of your frustrations. Interestingly enough, it was my father who I delighted the most in killing over and over again.

Klein never asked what happened in my lucid dreams. I tried to tell him once, but he insisted that he didn’t want to know, that such things are highly personal. I told him anyway, and for some reason, he wasn’t surprised. Not at all bothered. All he said was, “Don’t tell anyone else.” All he cared about was whether or not I felt the therapy was successful. And believe me, it was. By the end of my first week, I no longer worried about my crappy little life, or my myriad of money problems. By the end of the second week, I stopped having nightmares all together. By the end of the third week, I was addicted.

Six months passed.

Six months of unadulterated fantasy and lucid dreaming. Six months of the Morpheus Institute. Six months letting my dark side take the wheel. A transformation took place in me, emotionally and physically. I became desensitized. Nothing bothered me, and all I felt was exhaustion—exhaustion from being lucid every time I slept, even without the help of the LDI. Normal sleep became impossible for me, so my mind could never rest. And there was the hunger—the craving for my next lucid dream where I could live out my fantasies as much as I wanted to, be whoever I wanted to be, escape my own tired, pathetic body.

The Morpheus Institute discharged me. I told them my nightmares were gone, they paid me my fifty grand and let me walk. I don’t know what they did with the research they gathered during those six months. Looking back, I’m not sure if I want to know.

I had plenty of cash, so I rented a new apartment, moved my stuff out of storage and tried to pick up my life where I had left off. It was a nice enough place. Larger than my old one, but with neighbors just as bad. The apartment next to me was home to a couple going through marriage difficulties, above me there were a couple of punk teenagers who thought they could play instruments, and below me there were a couple of swingers. You meet the most interesting people in an apartment complex.

Unfortunately, I found that it was nearly impossible to live like I had before. Nothing interested or excited me. Life seemed mundane, boring, constricted. I didn’t bother applying for any jobs. I didn’t go out looking for women. I stayed home with the blinds closed on my windows, but away from the Morpheus institute I found I was unable to sleep. I stared at the ceiling fan in my one bedroom apartment hour after hour, but sleep never came. After a few days I became delirious from lack of sleep, and started hallucinating. The visions were twisted, evil, demonic. All the people I killed in my dreams were haunting me. I desperately tried calling the Morpheus Institute over and over, leaving crazed messages and asking for help. They never returned my calls.

The nights blended with the days, and I became consumed with the sounds around me. The hissing water pipes, the shouting next door, the heavy metal coming from the teenager’s room above, the sounds of ecstasy coming from the swingers apartment below. They all hissed and screamed and sang and moaned in some horrible cacophony that drove me to the edge. I would grit my teeth and cover my head with a pillow, but it would only make them rage louder in my ears. It only reminded me of what I was missing in my own life, what I would have if only I could fall asleep. I hated them all for it.

For an entire week I was unable to sleep or leave my apartment for fear of my hallucinations and the horrible sounds. For an entire week, I prayed for death as I lost my grip on reality. Then, that all changed.

I had my first dream.

I wasn’t lucid—or maybe I was—but I don’t remember most of it. Or do I? What I can remember was standing in an open doorway inside of some filthy, cramped apartment—very similar to mine, but somehow different—looking in on the bedroom. It was dark, hard to see, and in the shadows I saw the bloody aftermath of some Horrible Thing which had taken place moments before. Five people, it looked like. Five people were in naked chunks of flesh all over the room, blood pooling in the thick carpet, smeared across the bed, across scattered clothes, sprayed on the walls, the ceiling. I looked down, at my own hands. I was holding an cordless rotary saw, still warm and dripping with blood. My clothes were soaked in red from head to toe, my skin purpled and stained. Tucked inside the waist of my pajama bottoms was my dad’s old pistol.

When I woke up in my bed the next morning, I felt refreshed. Renewed. Happy to have had a good nights sleep. I yawned, stretched, smiled, just happy to be alive. I crawled out of bed, made my way over to the kitchen and heated up a stale pot of coffee. The sun was shining brightly through my blinds, but it wasn’t an oppressive light like before. It was an inviting light, asking me if I wanted to play. I walked cheerily over to the window, pulled back the blinds with my fingers and peeked out at this wonderful morning God had given the world. I didn’t notice that I was wearing a different set of clothes than what I went to bed in.

There were police cars circled around the apartment complex. Yellow tape was stretched about the lower level of the complex keeping a crowd of onlookers at bay, and police buzzed about like worker bees.

I took a frightened leap backwards, knocking the pot of coffee over and shattering it on the ground in the process, slipping on the scalding liquid and hitting my head on the floor. This was all wrong, I thought. I scrambled to my feet, nearly slipping again as the coffee burned my fingers, and ran back to my bedroom. I threw open the doors to my closet and opened my laundry hamper. I yelped and shut the lid. My pajamas were there, soaked in blood. It’s one thing to murder someone in your dreams, but being confronted with the knowledge that you actually murdered someone in real life without knowing it is terrifying.

There was a knock on my door. I looked over, back at the hamper, closed my closet and ran back into the kitchen/living room and over to the door. I peered through the peephole. Two police offers were standing outside, guns drawn.

*          *           *

My intention had been to kill myself.  End it all, using my father’s pistol. How poetic. Only I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve never been brave. They arrested me, just as I knew they would. I was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole, narrowly escaping the death sentence by reason of temporary insanity. I don’t mind, though. It’s not all bad. Prison is the perfect place for your average ne’er do well, uneducated, lazy late twenty-something murderer. I don’t have to cook or clean. I don’t have to worry about money, about friends. Really—I don’t mind. I’m only a prisoner during the day.

At night I can do anything.

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