The second punishment is ice. My delicate bare pale feet have been submerged in a capacious vessel of iced water that just covers my ankles, which contains an element that causes the water to gradually freeze. The sealed lid encloses each leg with a firm grip. Movement is completely restricted…….

……..There is every chance that if I survive the next ten hours I’ll lose one of my feet; if I’m unlucky both will perish. If my Star is smiling upon me however, gracious in her mercy, maybe just a few toes shall depart. Oh I pray it is just the toes, please, please, please…………………only the lonely toes……..she goes as the cold wind blows on her lonely toes, stows……….I’m drifting again. The numbness that has befallen my feet escalates into searing sharp pains that shoot up the major arteries in my legs, causing my calves to throb slowly, unremittingly.

I cry carelessly and often.

I know not how long I have been prisoner to this vexatious chair, strapped to and upon it with iron ropes, and positioned outside on the common ground in front of the Lyceum. They dragged me out of the pen long before dawn. I can feel the temperature is starting to drop sharply, we have such harsh climate extremes here in the South of Sjanosk……….

………..I have a catheter inserted and taped into place, the long fine translucent tube was inserted into the eye of my penis shortly before they brought me out here. Crafty of design, it has minute needles peppered along its stem, all facing in one direction. As the hours have passed It’s metamorphosed from a sharp stinging soreness with every slight movement of my body, to what is now feels as though there’s a barbed knitting needle in there which some torturer flicks with cruel finger and thumb to the beat of some sadistic, unrelenting rataplan. The barbs keep the pain fresh you might say. They dont sterilise the catheters either, that’s the point you see, it isn’t inserted so as to cipher urine away from my body to keep me clean, no, no, no, as you may have guessed its here specifically to cause me pain, a slow drawn out horror, ideally inflammation and infection will set in. Not ideally from my own point of view of course. There isn’t even a bag on the end, the urine simply flows down my right thigh, soaking into the coarse material of my kilt, then onwards and downwards to the open sores on my calves caused by yesterday’s punishment; paper cuts. Hundreds of them, inflicted by a particularly zealous volunteer. Unfortunately for me he was a superb candidate for the job. Very adept was he. I’d almost go so far as to say there was some artistic flair to his work. And my how he enjoyed himself. He’ll receive a hundred liberty points for his family as a reward for his impressive efforts. I hope they all die from malnutrition in unimaginable agony at some point in the near future…..

…….If I need to defecate I’m on my own. This is highly unlikely as I have eaten nothing for three days bar two sustainer drinks. “Full of the necessary vitamins!” the bouncing comic text proclaimed on the packet. Because that will help won’t it? Gah. I’d have refused to swallow, but I know the drill by now, refusal results in more force feeding, so its pointless. More pointless than anyone could have suspected; little do they know but I have neither need, nor capability to ingest the sugar laden nasty stuff. It’s all quite futile on their part. I survive without such tonics and potions. I have yet to decide if this is good fortune or if I am beleaguered by a thousand curses. I have also yet to decide if it matters either way……..

……..Whenever a criminal is paraded through the streets on route to the holding facility the crowds chant the same mantra again and again. “Retaliation is nongermane, nongermane NONGERMANE!” On and on they rail. The aim is to convince not solely the so-called criminal, but the populace at large as well. There is something connected to that phrase that I cannot recall, something important, yet it eludes me; sidling up the walls of my psyche every now and again, it itches and scrapes at my memories, never finding a home of its own……..

…….What could my crime be to incur such wrath? I do not murder, nor any inflict cruelty upon any sentient being, I do not torture, beat, or bully. I protest. What I protest against is irrelevant to the state, for the very act itself is a crime. How people choose to manifest their protests however, the level of ingenuity employed, varies considerably, and this is mirrored in the punishments metered out……

I am nothing if not imaginative.

……………My skin is blistered and burnt raw from the merciless heat of Zao and Carnas, the midday suns that sail across the sky in an elegant race with one another across the inscrutable clouds as I stare at the heavens. During the two hours each day that it’s takes for them to pass overhead the heat is so searing, so pitiless, that no one strays outside for even a moment. Doors and windows are sealed tight. Our planet is one of the unlucky few in the galaxy which are only blessed with said two hours of sunlight for every 24 that pass, and in that short amount of time when light prevails, no inhabitant can enjoy it’s rays. All the animals are locked away, and the only sign of life other than myself, are the Scart Beetles, which lazily buzz around, watching and recording with their tiny eyes made of lenses. Being man-made they can withstand the heat of the day, the heat of a furnace even, without showing any ill effects at all. The same cannot be said for myself. I am a poor excuse for a being just now, skin cracking open again and again with the slightest movement, urine soaked, with weeping sores emitting puss, blood and water in abundance, about to be plunged into the freezing darkness that is the night. A relief I desire with such passion that tears once more slip from the edge of my eyes at the thought, the truth that is time, edging towards me, second by second. Silently……..

………The night hours rule this land, yet only myself and my father, out of every man, woman and child on the whole of this long forsaken, dammed husk of a planet are truly entitled to the moniker ‘people of the night’. As the elders will find to their cost when I am freed from my bonds as the Star of Izar rises to the North penetrating the solid flatness of the night sky like a spear from the Gods.

I have finally had enough you see.
My patience has fled the glacial fury of my mind.
Three coins are tossed.
Three vows are to be broken before next dawn.

The game has changed.

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