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How long have I been here? I can’t tell you. Maybe nobody can. I have only myself to blame, though. I know it, but somehow knowing it doesn’t lessen the pain of being here everyday, and knowing I will be here for a long time to come.

I’ve done time before—plenty of it. Sometimes I would get myself caught just to go back to the joint, because it was so crazy out there. All the noise and confusion just got the best of me, you know? This last time I went in, though, this one is the toughest sentence. This one is the mother.

Never mind what I did, it was bad enough. Bad enough to land me back in the big house for a long time. I was hoping for life, and I got it all right. Did I ever get it! Only I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. They have a new thing now; an experimental thing. They call it the cube. It’s a lot cheaper for them, and a lot harder on guys like me. That’s what I got. They gave me the cube. And there is no way I can get parole, and there is no way to get my sentence commuted either. I can’t even kill myself, even if I tried, because I’m already dead.

You see, when they put me in the cube they scanned my brain and got rid of the body. All of my thoughts, my memories, everything I am thinking right now, it’s in the cube. I’ve been told it is a tiny thing, just a little bit of space on a hard drive. Just a little bit of electricity keeps me alive, and I hate it. I pray for a permanent power failure, so I can be released at last. I never thought I would be in stir with electrons. It’s just not the same, not the same at all. Do you know how long an electron year is? Do you have any idea how long it is, to be here? Every second is a day, every minute is a year, every day is 1,440 years, and I have been here for over 8 billion years now. Please! Tell the judge this is cruel and unusual punishment.

"We sit here stranded though we're all doing our best to deny it." (Visions of Johanna) Bob Dylan

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The following comments are for "An Interminable Sentence"
by brickhouse

The Cube
I like the way this story seems to change from the narrator just talking about prison to the pain he is feeling from the 'cruel and unusual punishment.' I also like that last line. Both adjectives fit strangely well for me.


( Posted by: Emlyn [Member] On: December 24, 2004 )

Incorporeal punishment
Great idea for a story, Brickhouse. Well written. I liked the style and the character was very likeable. I had sympathy for him even though he was a criminal. The Cube idea was good too.

There are a couple of things that didn’t gel for me though. There is either a problem with tense or continuity with this sentence in the second paragraph. It stands out because the rest flowed well. “This last time I went in, though, this one is the toughest sentence.”

It feels a bit strange. Instead of “went”, maybe “came in” or just take out “I went in” altogether where it is implied you are incarcerated. Eg: “This last time, though, this one is the toughest stretch...the mother of all sentences.”

The other thing is the time, the electron year. If a second is a day, then a minute would be 60 days so it feels a little strange for it to be a year.

They are only little things. What impressed me was the idea itself and ease of reading.

( Posted by: Smithy [Member] On: January 10, 2006 )

You have offered some very helpful insight on this piece. I knew something wasn't quite right with it. Hopefully the new and improved version in the next week or two will get better.
As for the concept, I think that reality is not too far off, as bizzare as it seems.
Thank you for the input.

Mark B.

( Posted by: brickhouse [Member] On: January 10, 2006 )

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