The Prisoner | Teen Ink

The Prisoner

June 13, 2013
By Alizz SILVER, Cleveland, Ohio
Alizz SILVER, Cleveland, Ohio
7 articles 0 photos 17 comments

“You’re just leaving me here?!” Rick ran his hands through his messy blond hair. “You have got to be kidding me!” The driver of the van turned around to look at him curled up in the cluttered trunk. “Sorry, kid. You mess with the law, this is what you get.”
She popped open her door, climbed out, and walked around the side of the vehicle. She lifted the trunk door, and instantly Rick was blown away by the heat from outside. How could it be this hot when snow was falling to the ground so fast it made his head hurt? “What is up with this place? Is this where all prisoners go?” The woman grabbed him by the arm and hauled him out into the sweltering blizzard. She handed him a bag and a necklace.
“This is your prisoner chain,” she said, resting the silver chain-link necklace over his shoulders. “This way the townspeople know you’re from the jail. This bag here just has your basic nutrition until you make it into town. Got it?”

Rick nodded and took the bag, his hand trembling with anxiousness. He can’t feel sorry for himself. This is what he deserved, wasn’t it? He broke the law, and now he was getting treated like a criminal for it.
The roar of an engine and his only way back home was gone. Now there was nothing left to do but walk and be confused with this whole new place. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Not for the boy who had made the biggest mistake of his life at school last week.

He had a tablet sitting out on the desk in front of him, the bright light illuminating the darkness around him. Ever since the new government took over, things had been a lot stranger at school. Not like they weren’t before. It just seemed more amplified now. A whole new lineup of teachers had been brought in, and now students were required to wear uniforms when they never had to before. The creepiest things though were the new lessons. They were about weird things, and all of them seemed to be centered on the apocalypse.

Rick was the smartest kid in his class and a computer genius, so when he was looking down at that tablet, he wasn’t just playing games or surfing the web. He was hacked into the school’s whole technological network. A page popped up on his screen showing a timeline. It started way back when the school was built in 2001. As he continued to scroll down, he realized the page didn’t stop at the present date, September 17, 2029, but continued far into the future. The very last date was in the 4000’s. It said: To Be Continued.

As Rick scrolled back up, he read through the various dates. It was almost like these people knew the future-

“What are you doing here?!” The boy turned, looked up at the cold face of a policeman, and gasped. The rest was just a blur. The only thing he really remembered after that was his sentence and the car ride to this creepy place. These past weeks, Rick had stopped himself over a thousand times when he was tempted to think about what had happened. He wanted to try and understand how things had got this way, but he was so upset he couldn’t bring himself to it. Now that he was all alone, he was forced to.

After what must have been hours of walking in this strange new environment, Rick could finally see a city that was about a mile ahead of him. As he sped up, he tugged at the chains around his neck, attempting to pull them off. He didn’t need these people knowing he was a criminal. But as he laid his long fingers on them, they glowed blue and wouldn’t come up over his head.

He looked down at the chain as he sprinted towards the city limits. On each link of metal, a word was inscribed in yellow. It read: Those who have committed crime shall be forgiven in time.
Rick gulped, and let the chain fall back onto his chest. The city was literally right in front of him. Old fashioned houses lined the streets, all of them surrounding what must have been the city square. People bustled about all over the place, going to neighbor’s houses, running errands in the little shops. They didn’t seem to notice that it was one hundred thirty degrees and snowing.
As the teenage criminal cautiously walked through town, the stares of townspeople followed him up to the city square. They didn’t look too friendly. In fact, they looked like mean people. Sitting on a bench, he rested, ignoring the not so quiet whispers about him. His eyes drooped, his head lolling forward. If only he could just fall asleep…

“Come with me!” His eyes flashed open to see a girl grabbing him by the hand and pulling him. “Who are you?” He questioned the girl. She took her free hand and showed off her name tag. Rick just shook his head. “Okay, well could you give me a better explanation then that your name’s … Isabel?”

Rick groggily got up from the bench and yawned, shaking the girl’s hand from his wrist. “You gonna take me to jail or something?” he asked. “It’s probably better than this place.” Isabel just gestured for him to follow her. “Come on,” she said. “I’m not taking you to jail.” She led the boy through the city streets and to an old, rundown house. The building was painted an ugly shade of brown, and the crumbling roof seemed to be sagging inward. It looked as though it had been through a war.
Rick followed Isabel through a creaky screen door and down a flight of carpeted stairs. “Could you please tell me where we’re going?” He stepped down into the coolness of the basement. “Oh, it feels so good down here! I needed to get out of that sweltering heat!” The girl smiled at him in the darkness.

“Yeah,” Isabel said as she reached down and closed her hand around a metal latch sticking out from the ground. “No one wants to stay there too long.” She pulled the latch up and revealed to Rick a trapdoor that led down into a torch-lit tunnel.

Rick jumped down into the tunnel. “I see what we’re doing now,” he said. “You’re busting me out of this place, aren’t you?”
Isabel shrugged. “Not exactly. If I knew how to get out of here, I’d probably be long gone by now. I’d be home, where I belong.” She jumped down into the tunnel and began walking along.“I’m just getting you out of that city.”
Rick followed her down the tunnel for a long time without speaking. He was very curious about where he was going, but he made himself refrain from asking questions. After what must’ve been over fifteen minutes of walking in silence, Rick could no longer control himself. “Where are we going?” He could see the tunnel was coming to an end. There was a metal ladder on the wall ahead of them that led straight up to another trap door.

Isabel stopped in her tracks. “Why don’t you take a look?” She pushed Rick forward and into the ladder. “Go on,” she said. “Prisoners first.” Rick looked up cautiously at the trapdoor before climbing the ladder. Using all of his strength, he pushed open the old, wooden door. Yellow light filtered down into the tunnel as Rick peeked his head out the top.

“Wow,” he said, hauling himself out of the passage. He dusted himself off and looked around. Directly in front of him was a massive body of water. He couldn’t decipher whether it was a lake or an ocean, but it looked clean and drinkable. Sun was shining down onto the deep blue waves, and as Rick looked up to the sky, he realized that it wasn’t snowing or nearly as hot as it had been before.

The boy turned around to see a small group of wooden cottages sitting in a large grassy field. Both children and adults were either sitting around the houses or inside of them. A large forest surrounded the tiny village, giving it shade. “Wow,” Rick said again as Isabel emerged from the tunnel. She smiled and breathed in the cool air coming off of the water. After a moment of silent admiration, she and Rick began walking towards the cottages.
“This place is beautiful,” Rick said. Isabel nodded and pulled the boy into one of the first houses. A boy of around fifteen years old, Rick’s age, was standing over the kitchen sink, skinning potatoes. He looked just like Isabel but maybe a bit younger. He had short light-brown hair and dark eyes.
Isabel guided Rick over to the sink and introduced him to the other boy. “This is Seth,” she said. “He’s my brother.” Seth shook hands with Rick before returning to his work. “What’s your name?” he questioned the other boy.

“It’s Rick,” the boy said. “I’m fifteen. How old are you?” Seth looked up at the ceiling for a moment. “Um,” he said. “I think I’m about fifteen.”

Rick looked at him with a goofy expression. “You think? Are you saying you don’t know you’re real age?”

Seth shot a glance at Isabel, who began pushing Rick out of the kitchen and into the living room. She led the boy upstairs and into a large room full of bookshelves. “Take a seat,” she said. Rick slumped into the nearest fluffy chair as Isabel sat in the one across from it. She folded her hands across her lap and began speaking.

“There are some things I should probably explain about this place. First of all, you don’t ask questions about these peoples’ pasts. They’re all prisoners just like you. Nobody needs to know more. Second”-

“Are you a prisoner? What about your brother?” Rick interrupted.
Isabel clenched her fists. “It doesn’t matter. We lived out the end of our sentence years ago. We were punished for stuff our parents did… when they were alive. Do you know how long your sentence is?” Rick looked down at the chain around his neck. “A year.”
“Good,” Isabel said. “That’s not too long. Until then, you’ll need to be on the watch for government guys. As long as that chain’s around your neck, they’re tracking you. We can’t let them find this place. Not if we want to keep it.”
Isabel got up and stretched. “After your sentence is over, you’re free to try and find your way home. Let me just tell you though, if it was easy to get out of here, we’d all be gone. This is one strange place, but it’s good if you know how to survive.” She looked down at Rick for a while before leaving. The boy deserved some time to himself. She exited the room and went downstairs.

As Rick sat and thought about what he would do in this new place and about how sorry he was for committing a crime, he felt a strange sensation on the back of his neck. He reached his hand up to his chain necklace and squeezed it with all his strength. The strong metal was crushed under his fingers. Closing his eyes, he ripped off the necklace.
When he opened his eyes he was laying on his stomach in bed, his dog’s rough tongue licking the back of his neck. He turned over and looked at the calendar beside his bed. Today was July 7th, 2013. Breathing a sigh of relief, he sat up. It had all just been a dream. He wasn’t a prisoner any longer, and he wasn’t stuck in the year 2029. Isabel never existed, and neither did Seth.

It was just a dream.
The End

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This article has 9 comments.

on Aug. 10 2013 at 11:22 am
Amaranthinium GOLD, Dade City, Florida
10 articles 0 photos 49 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Do not let numbers tell you what to do. You are blood and earth, not theory and chalk." -Welcome to Night Vale

-Show, don’t tell. For example, you tell me that Rick is the smartest kid in his class and a computer genius. Instead of telling me that, just tell me about him hacking into the school’s network. If I know that, I can make the assumption myself that the kid is pretty smart. Same goes for telling me that the people in the city look mean - instead show me how they glare, how they whisper when he passes, something like that.     -I’d also try to work the exposition about the new government a little more smoothly into the flashback. ie, maybe tell me that Rick is suspicious about all the things that have been going on in his school lately, so he’s decided to hack into the system in hopes that he can find something out.     -Describe things more! You don’t give me very many details about anything. Describe the colors, the sounds of the setting, the peculiar mannerisms of the people Rick mets. Maybe tell me a little more about how Rick feels - how he’s sweating, but the cold snow is hitting his skin too, and he’s getting tired from running, etc etc. Also, when you do describe something, try not to do it all at once. Don’t dump a huge description of the city on me all at once - show me the things that Rick sees as his walks through, the glares as he passes, etc. Interweave it with the action.     -A few times you use more words than you need. Instead of saying that something “seemed” to be doing something, just say that it is - like the roof of the creepy old house. You don’t need to tell me that the city is “literally” right in front of him, because I believe you that it’s in front of him, or that Isabel “began pushing him” when you can just say that she pushed him.       -Sorry to say, but the “it was all just a dream” ending is very cliche. You have a very interesting story going here - I was genuinely disappointed when I realized I wouldn’t get to figure out what was actually going on! - so why not go a little further with it?     -Here’s some nitpicking - anxiety, not anxiousness. Check your second paragraph, because you change between present and past tense a couple of times. “Better explanation than your name’s Isabel,” not “then.” Also, I would not say that he "questioned" - it doesn't sound right. Just say "asked"     All that said, you’ve made mistakes that I think are very typical of 13 year old beginners. In fact, you probably write better than a lot of 13 yos, and you’ve got creative ideas to boot. I was genuinely intrigued from beginning to end. So keep mine and the other commenters’ critiques in mind, and keep on writing! You’ll find that most of the things that people have pointed out improve naturally over time with practice and age. :)

on Jul. 20 2013 at 1:50 pm
BurrThistle GOLD, Jaipur, Other
10 articles 0 photos 161 comments

Favorite Quote:
Write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect

Yeah, you need to work with the details and the flow of writing and never, ever ever ever evr end an article with "And then i woke up" cliche. But good effort, though. Once you improve, you can maybe write a novel about a futuristic adventure. And everyone here, you all gave great feedback to Alizz, can you please do the same for me ? I would mean a lot to me, thanks  

HudaZav SILVER said...
on Jul. 17 2013 at 6:58 pm
HudaZav SILVER, Toronto, Other
8 articles 6 photos 390 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Nothing is impossible; the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" -Audrey Hepburn

I was slightly confused at some parts, and I think it was a little speeded up. but overall, the writing style you have is nice, and i enjoyed your piece

on Jul. 17 2013 at 5:55 pm
Carly_Elizabeth PLATINUM, Othello, Washington
39 articles 0 photos 131 comments

Favorite Quote:
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
Roald Dahl

I really enjoyed this. The idea is very original and has the potential to be a great story. I'm not to fond about it being a dream though. Like everyone else I agree that your description needs work and at some parts it was kind of confusing. Other than that I really liked this. 

on Jul. 14 2013 at 5:50 pm
BlackbeltJames GOLD, Reading, Other
14 articles 0 photos 193 comments

Favorite Quote:
Isaac Asimov - "Intelligence is an accident of evolution, and not necessarily an advantage.”

For your age this is very good, I can remember starting then and I had nothing near as good as this.
I found the ending very sudden, and a bit disapointing with the massive cliche. However, I did like the transition from dream to reality, that was very well written and done creatively. Maybe try and link that to something that happens in the dream more though, for example we always wake up from a dream if we are about to die, maybe he felt the wound and it was his dog or whatever. I did like the transition, but I'm afraid the ending was very sudden and it did not seem to fit.
You had many unexplained ideas within the piece, which is very good, it makes it intriguing and mysterious, but of course try not to leave these details out too much if they are that important - after all they are human, and curious, so they would want to know.
Your description does still set the scene which is good, but it could use a little bit more to add more depth to the scene.
Another thing is that you do make it confusing with the changing of paragraphs, but with that being said it does make it abstract which I like, as it suits the unpredictability of dreams, as it never really has a constant flow,  they always have a jagged timeline with no beginning.
This was a clever piece, with developments that can be made; this is a great piece for your age and you are most certainly full of potential, keep it up :)

on Jul. 12 2013 at 12:13 pm
Naesmarts SILVER, Clinton, Maryland
5 articles 0 photos 6 comments
hey! i think for it to be so short you should include more decriptions. I also think it shouldn't end so abruptly. But i thoroughly enjoyed :)

on Jul. 10 2013 at 3:43 pm
Superhero_Fan SILVER, Tomorrowland, California
7 articles 1 photo 163 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Impossible; for How many people did you know who refracted your own light to you?” - Fahrenheit 451

Awww! It was a dream? Okay, first, I agree with None0. It needs more discription. (I have problems with that too) And it DID go a little fast. Why did he trust her that quickly? Why would Isabel lead him there immediately? For all she knew, he could've been a spy. And about the necklace thingy. Why'd they let him in if it had a tracking device? I just don't think that part was very reasonable. But, on the other hand, I liked how you got him to hack into the school system. Very ingenious. And one-hundred and thirty degrees but snowing? I couldn't wrap my brain around that. It gave me something to think about. That's pretty much it. I hope you don't think I'm trying to be mean with my critiques, I just like going into detail on stuff like this. Continuez d'écrire!

Alizz SILVER said...
on Jul. 9 2013 at 3:30 pm
Alizz SILVER, Cleveland, Ohio
7 articles 0 photos 17 comments
Thanks for the great criticism. It means a lot to me!

None0 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 9 2013 at 2:58 pm
None0 BRONZE, Bellevue, Washington
2 articles 0 photos 96 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Believe in the ideal, not the idol." - Serra

I think here, there's only one real thing you have to work on, and that's being thorough. You descriptions really only scratch the surface of what's going on, like the combination of heat and snow... but then what? What's the terrain like? Are there mountains, trees, or just plains? Paint a picture in the reader's head, don't just tell them it's hot and snowing. Using more showing language would help with this, but everyone (literally) needs to work on showing v. telling language, so I won't go too deep into that (unless you want me to).   The storyline also feels a little rushed, most likely a result of not thoroughly going through every scene, but you have good scene transitions in place, so it flows very nicely regardless.   You're writing a lot better than I was at your age, so just keep on improving, and you should become a great writer in no time.