Prism Sentence

Results of several InMon prompts from BeKindRewrite! The prompts are: Prism Sentence, Afraid of the Light, and, to some extent, Autoimmobile.

“Any parting words?”

Octavian glared at the ceiling and did not reply. The Lightkeeper pulled the final strap tight around his arms, then stepped back, out of sight.

“For the crimes of dream-theft, subconscious manipulation, and personality violation, you are hereby sentenced to ten years in Prism.”

Ten years. That number was bad enough, but in Prism, time was a variable. Once released, most of its inmates claimed to have wandered for hundreds of years, being pulled from dreamscape to dreamscape, nightmare to nightmare. They would have no more stomach for dream-crimes. Most were afraid to go to sleep, afterwards, and had to be drugged.

Octavian closed his eyes. Soon, the motion would have no effect. There is no closing one’s eyes in a dream.

He heard the first switch flip, and on instinct, opened his eyes again. The doors beside him slid back and he could see the Prism, it’s sharp edges just catching the ambient light. It was such a small thing, about the size of a grapefruit.

The second switch ticked over, and he was bathed in fractured light.

At the sounding of the third switch, nothing happened. He lay there, waiting.


Had he been reprieved? Had his lawyer caught, last minute, some mistake made by the prosecution?

“Hey, you bastards? What’s going on?”

The rainbow flickered. He looked at the Prism again, and his whole body tensed. It wasn’t a prism anymore. It was a lamp, an old gas-lamp with a blue flame in it. He shuddered. The light frightened him.

Without thinking, he sat up. A faint memory crossed his mind. Hadn’t he been strapped down?

But then it was gone. The light flickered again. The lamp had changed into a globe dangling from a curving stalk. It pulsed, bright, dim, bright, dim, as if it were breathing.

Octavian could feel his grasp of time slipping. The lamp had changed. It had, hadn’t it?

A sound came from the darkness on beyond. He stood up and made his way towards it. The light followed, and as he moved it changed again. Now it was a brazier filled with glowing coals. He took a few more experimental steps and realized, to his horror, that he was not moving. When he walked, it was the space around him that moved by him and his inanimate companion.

Dawn, or something like it, broke across the horizon and he watched the first dreamscape unfold itself. He was in a city, streets wet and shining from a recent downpour, air heavy with the humidity. His light-fetter shifted with the surroundings, blending in as an unassuming electric street-lamp.

People, or at least he thought they might be people, shuffled to and fro, backs bowed, heads low, all hidden under layers of dark fabric. One of them bumped into him, mumbled something that might have been an apology, and stumbled on.

Octavian closed his eyes. Nothing changed.


Part 2: Light Reading


About jubilare

Just another tree in the proverbial forest. Look! I have leaves! View all posts by jubilare

30 responses to “Prism Sentence

  • robstroud

    Very creative. Well done.

  • Krysta

    I would read an entire novel of this. It was just getting really good!

    • jubilare

      Wow! That is high praise! #^_^#
      I am not sure what the plot would be like… but this thing does intrigue me. I think I’ll try to touch on it again and if anything comes of it, I’ll post it. I’m glad you liked it! It pretty much wrote itself.

  • C R Smith

    I agree with Krysta. I was hooked almost immediately. You hit something pretty amazing here! Outstanding work

  • Colleen

    I must join the chorus: More! More! More! Every single word worked, but “light-fetter” is perfect and rich and terrible. More!

  • technicolorlilypond

    I love it! That is an absolutely fascinating piece, thank you for sharing, Jubilare. I would definitely read more of this adventure but if this is all I get, I am still well pleased. Well done. :-)

  • Stephanie

    Love this. A fascinating world from the start. First, where crimes like dream theft are common enough to warrant an established punishment, second where the punishment is this. Fitting and frightening and reminiscent of Hell in The Great Divorce.

    Also, Dark Side of the Moon ftw.

    PS, my email got hacked and I changed my password, but all my emails to you are returning undelivered. Did you have to block me or something? I can try emailing you from a different address.

    • jubilare

      I rather like it, too! It’s one of those things that kind of rolled out. Now I need to figure out if I can do something more with it. :)

      Huh. I haven’t blocked you, but I checked just now and there was a spammy e-mail that got shuffled to my spam folder. Maybe it blocked you automatically? I will check, and in the meantime, I will send you another address.

  • A-Ku

    Absolutely loved it – especially that ending, it gave me goose-bumps.
    Lovely concepts and while not the same, it’s intriguing to me that the imprisonment concept is something both of us had in our respective stories – something similar yet utterly different! :D

    • jubilare

      Ending, what ending? ;)
      I’m so glad! I really love your quirky, Doctor-who-ish take, and the fact that you figured out how to include “back words” which I failed to do!
      I’m thinking about trying to continue this story… we’ll see what happens. “Light Reading” is definitely stirring the ideas.

      • A-Ku

        Just came back on and saw both this comment and the 2nd installment, just at work but shall read it asap! Can’t wait!
        (also, that you compared Doc to that other Doc, flattered and floored me right now, thank you!)

  • Light Reading -continuation of Prism Sentence | jubilare

    […] is a continuation of Prism Sentence. I’m not sure, yet, where this is going, if indeed it is going anywhere, but then […]

  • stephencwinter

    I am rarely sad when I leave the dream world, even when the dream is a good one. I think I always have a sense that the unpredictable can and indeed, will, happen at any moment. It is in the conscious world that I am able to look back and then enjoy the riches of what I have just experienced or simply be relieved that I have been set free. The thought of not being able to escape reminds me of that episode in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I would be just as terrified as they were.

    • jubilare

      Yeah, I know what you mean. There’s an immediacy in dreams that prohibits real examination/self-awareness, with the exception of lucid dreams, of course. I’ve only ever had a couple of those, but they were amazing. That, the immediacy that is, is one of the things I tried to capture with these shorts. There is the moment, and little else.

      I listened to an audio-book of tVotDT right after I wrote this, and it made me shudder all the more.

      • stephencwinter

        I awake this morning with a dream from last night of my anger with a man who is expressing contempt for a statue of a woman with a strong face because she is not beautiful. “Why don’t you strike it?” I challenge him, knowing that if he did he would seriously damage his hand, knowing quite consciously in my dream that she is stronger than he is and that I take pleasure in that thought. Knowing too that I want to hurt him in my anger. Now I am glad that I can take this dream into my waking thoughts and that it can do its work there. What if I could not escape it? That is a fearful thought to me.

        • jubilare

          It is fearful… that disconnect. And dreams that talk to us, like that really have to be taken into the real world, otherwise they’re just a succession of images. *shivers*

          One of my favorite dreams of all times was a terrible one. It’s my favorite because, for some reason, I was a dog. A giant, glowing, white dog. I’ve never been anything else but myself in dreams, save for that one, and the feeling of running in that form, of being in that form, was amazing.

          But I was a dog in a time of plague. People, human people, were dying, but when they died, they turned invisible to the living, though I could still see them. So people were unaware of what was happening. They simply thought that people were disappearing, and they didn’t seem to care very much.
          Every so often, one would fall against a corpse and a glimmer of realization would come, but it was short lived.

          I tried to warn them, but being a dog, I couldn’t speak, and they were afraid of me (giant glowing Baskervillian hound, and all) and chased me, thinking that I was the threat. I ran across water to escape, something my in-dream mother had taught me, but I kept coming back, trying to warn and failing.

          I can read a lot into the dream, if I like, but I am wary of doing so. Instead, I’ve just taken time to think about it, to carry it around as a thing that has meaning I don’t quite understand.

          • stephencwinter

            I am not an analyst of any kind so I won’t pretend to “interpret” your dream. My own experience is that there are just two or three really “big” dreams that seem to keep on working themselves out in my conscious life and continue to do so over many years. I am not even sure that I am meant to “do” anything about them except to give them permission to do their work in me. What do you think? It seems to me that your dream experience and your gift as a story teller are connected.

          • jubilare

            I agree. I feel, about some dreams, much the same as I feel about prophecies. I’m no theologian, but it seems to me that there are 2 things in the Bible that are called “prophecy.” One is the warnin: “repent or X will happen.” The other kind seems to be “this won’t make sense right now, but keep it in mind. The pieces will fall into place.”
            For my dreams, there are those that seem to be my brain simply working through things (like the nightmare I had last night) and then there are the ones that feel like they just need to be carried, and that I will know what they are for when I need to.

            I’m not sure which the dog-dream is, yet, though it feels important. I fear its implications, though. To not be heard/understood is a dreadful thing.

          • David

            That is a very strong dream. If you felt inclined, I would suggest making a story out of it. You may not have to add much; merely what you described here had the power of myth as Lewis describes it, a power residing in the mere facts of the story apart from the words used to tell it.

          • jubilare

            I have thought about doing that, but it’s difficult to know how to translate it. In the dream, a large part of the power came from being a dog, and being completely unable to communicate. Still, maybe I can figure something out.

  • David

    I remember, I did read this before! But sadly neglected to comment. +( But that’s what now is for, eh? I do like this very much. While in some sense there’s not much of a plot beyond “legal sentence is carried out against criminal exactly as planned”, the unique world and strange nature of both crime and punishment make it fresh, worthwhile reading. It reminds me that short stories don’t always need conventional arcs like longer ones tend to have. Rudyard Kipling’s “The City of Dreadful Night” is essentially a man wandering the city of Lahore at night and describing its unique strangeness in the summer heat — there’s not much of a plot, but it powerfully explores a particular place at a particular time.

    • jubilare

      It’s one of those things that grew up out of an impression, and i haven’t bothered imposing a plot or a point on it. Instead, I’ve been reveling in the atmosphere. :)

  • Angelus Ferri | jubilare

    […] I will at least post some fictiony stuffs. This is a continuation of This is a continuation of Prism Sentence and Light Reading. Both of those stories were based on Inspiration Monday posts by BeKindRewrite. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: