When pacing in circles the normal way finally stopped being less boring than sitting, Billy the captured scout began to walk in circles backward. His nimble feet kept him upright, despite his growing dizziness, and he soon stopped to shake his head in an effort to clear away the strange sensation.
Billy was so horribly bored. He finally walked back to the cot and flopped onto his back. The scout closed his eyes and tried to nap the day away, but his legs soon began to tingle, and simply flexing the muscles was not enough to satisfy his restless limbs. With a groan, he threw himself into a sitting position and pouted. His capture was neither right, nor fair. He had not crossed the border, merely taken a peek when he heard sounds of someone in distress.
With a grunt, Billy flipped and laid on his belly. The scratchy prison uniform felt horrible against his abdomen, but the position was at least comfortable enough that he fell asleep, despite a complete lack of tiredness.
His dreams took him back to his family, far from him now thanks to his imprisonment.
Deep in his mind, he saw violet fields of tall, swaying grass. Billy laughed as he chased his two children, while his wife laughed even as she tried to scold the three of them.
“Come back inside! It’s getting dark!” She covered her mouth to try to hide her laughter, but her husband and children could see her joy just as easily as each other’s. The three finally ran into the colorless, but bright house. Pink cookies waited on the table with pale blue milk that was oddly warm.
Billy ignored the oddity and simply enjoyed a nice evening with his family, telling silly jokes and eating his wife’s delicious cookies.
After the snack, the family went into the bathroom to wash up before bed. Billy and his wife tucked their children into bed and walked to their own small room, where he held her tightly in his arms and covered her face in kisses and spoke softly into her ears of how much he loved her.
Suddenly, Billy woke up to the sound of footsteps and rapidly sat up. He stared out the bars as the warden appeared. “Hullo, Warden. Can I go home to my sexy wife and my lovely children yet?” he asked once again.
The warden sighed as he looked in. “No. You’re still under investigation.” He frowned. “I’m just here to bring someone his last meal before the mage squad deals with him.”
Billy grimaced. “Can I at least have something to do while I wait? Maybe read a book to pass the time? Or can I have a pen and paper to write to my wife? She must be so scared…” He sighed and looked up, his face pleading.
The man looked thoughtful. “I’ll see what I can do for you.” He nodded before he continued on, food tray in hand. From down the hall, Billy could hear the unfortunate man alternate between relief, terror, and grief.
An hour later, the doomed man was gone, led away to a fire-scorced courtyard where no plants would grow.
Billy tried to sleep, but his dreams only led him to that stranger in the courtyard, ready to be cooked alive and fed to the local animals.
He woke in a sweat to the sound of the warden’s boots and looked up.
The warden held a book. “I hope you enjoy history books.” He handed the book through the bars to Billy. “Any funny business, and you lose book priveledges.”
The captured scout nodded rapidly and opened the book to the first page. “Thank you, sir.”
With a nod, the warden turned to leave, but paused and looked at the shaken man inside the cell. He kept his reflections to himself, and walked away.
Inside, Billy simply read to avoid thinking about the execution that may or may not have already occurred. He bent over the book. Several times, his mind fogged and he had to re-read a paragraph. He paid no mind to what he read. It was all things he knew already, from back in his training during the recently-ended war.
In only a week, the book was finished, and Billy had forgotten about the execution. Once more, he was bored, but he could sleep.
He was just thinking on re-reading the book when the warden approached his cell. “Billy, I have bad news for you.”
Billy looked up, his eyes wide. “What?” he choked out through sudden gut-clenching fear.
The warden entered Billy’s cell and held a cloth to the young man’s face. The fumes quickly knocked Billy unconscious, and some guards entered to carry Billy from his cell to a pristine, nearly empty room. A mage spoke some magic, and a large circular construct rose from the floor. The guards chained Billy into the center, so he was forced to stand, and left the room. Only the mage was left with Billy.
Slowly, the scout woke and looked around. “What’s going on?” He asked as he scowled. He tried to move, but quickly noticed his restraints. He looked at them and grimaced. “Oh no…” He looked around rapidly. The warden wasn’t present. Instead, there was a stranger in black, with the emblem of the mages on his breast. “You’re not going to kill me, are you? I have a wife and children I need to get back to!” His eyes were wide.
“We just need to know what you saw.” the mage answered.
“All you had to do was ask. I’ll even trance-speak, if you’ll allow it! No need for extreme measures!” He tugged at his bonds in desperation.
The mage frowned. “You see, that’s a shame. Trance-speaking is so boring.” He sighed as he produced a needle with a ball on the end from one sleeve of his robe. “That’s a play on words.” He pressed the ball against the flesh under one of Billy’s toenails and slowly turned. Tiny, sharp edges slowly cut skin and nail, boring into the scout’s flesh.
Billy screamed, and thoughts left his mind as the pain from one small toe engulfed it.