There was silence in the cell that housed the three abused men. The kind of silence that is devoid of sound, but full of meaning and heavy with emotion. The kind that feels tangible and drives you crazy as you sit. It leaves a ringing in your ears, but you don't, or can't, break it. There's no point, you say. There's nothing to verbalize that would be worthwhile. That would break the pregnant silence.
The cell that housed the men and this quiet was made out of unrefined turquoise. The walls and floor, blue-green from the rock and glowing in places from the duel suns that peeked through the window, were rough from the raw gemstone. Every move would scrape any uncovered skin and snag at clothing. If not for being a cell, the room would be quite beautiful.
Two of the men were standing, backs against the wall with their wrists chained above their heads. One of the two was limp, his legs and arms barely supporting his body as he sagged with the gravity of both the planet and their situation. He just wanted to be back on his ship, in his bed, and far from this planet. The other man stood erect, as if being physically restrained by rusted chains was merely a slight inconvenience and not a somewhat terrifying trial.
The third man was on the floor leaning against the rough wall. His palms were scraped and colored with dried blood, but he had long forgotten about the stinging. His hatred was blocking out most things. The discomfort, the trauma, the echoes of the terrible screaming- He hated everything right now. He hated his captain who had screamed himself hoarse not three hours ago. He hated his first mate for being so calm and emotionless through this. He hated this stupid cell and its skin-tearing texture. He hated the two suns and their never-ending light that made it hard to sleep. He hated that his body needed sleep. He hated that he was the only one unrestrained. He hated that they had only left him with his hypo. He hated the kid.
What did he hate the kid for? Well, obviously for, uh- Uh, what did he hate the kid for? For not lying and getting himself out of torture? Yeah, that would work.
The kid was too honorable. Ah, hell, who was he kidding. It wasn't about honor. It was about keeping everyone safe. And this was one situation where telling the truth over and over and over again was actually going to keep everyone safe. Everyone except himself. What kind of screwed up universe did they live in where the truth was met with torture and not release?
Forcefully rubbing his hand over his face, he felt something wet smear on his nose and cheeks. He stared at the blood on his hand. Why did it have to be the kid? Why couldn't it have been the captain or first mate or, hell, he'd even have volunteered himself. How did they end up in this place, broken in spirit? His mental breakdown of the day before relinquished no hint of betrayal or distrust in their hosts-turned-captors. It was just a sudden flip. Like a switch. They had gone from distinguished guests to enemies of the entire country. Or whatever they called the region their government ruled. He didn't know or care.
He wanted to say that there was a lot he didn't care about anymore. But that was only half true. He didn't care so much about the truth being believed anymore. He didn't care about his captain's vocal chords anymore. He didn't care about the first mate's well-being, that was for sure. He didn't care about the inhabitants of this region anymore, either. What he did care about was getting off of this sanity-forsaken planet. He cared about the kid. He cared so much about the kid that it hurt. It hurt him mentally, emotionally, physically. Spiritually. He cared so much that he wanted nothing more than to rush the creatures that stole the kid away and made him scream for hours on end. He wanted to beat them to a bloody pulp with his own hands. He wanted to take the kid to their ship and fix him up and then lock him in his room for the remainder of their five year space exploration.
Hours. They had been locked up for hours. The captain had yelled for hours. And the kid had screamed for hours.
That was what had done them all in. They could have handled being locked up. They could have handled the kid being taken away for questioning. They could have handled a lot of things. But the screaming was not one of them. The chained men had fought against the restraints. Well, one had. The other tested them and then quickly gave up. The pointy eared sonuva-
They had been fine for a while. The kid had been taken and they were apprehensive, but they felt the kid had a good handle on the situation and would give a truthful statement and, hopefully, get them out of this. But after an hour, they could hear things. Groans and grunts. Then it changed into yelling. And then the terrible screaming. That was when the man on the floor and the man chained to the wall had started yelling. But the man on the floor gave up when he realized that no one was coming and the screams were not being drowned out by his own noise. The man chained to the wall and continued until he was hoarse and by then the screams had tapered out as well. Probably for the same reason.
It had been hours now. The screaming would start back up again and so would the yelling. But the man on the floor had given up. He leaned on the wall and glared daggers at the man yelling. He leaned his head on his knees. He plugged his ears with his fingers. He considered bashing his own head into the wall.
There was silence now. The horrible, terrible, thick, tangible silence that hung low and heavy in the room. His body ached but he hadn't noticed it for a while now. He hadn't noticed any discomfort for a while now. Everything was numb.
So numb was everything that he didn't notice the footsteps in the hallway. He barely registered the door opening. No one did. Until they threw a limp figure into the room. Until they shut the door and were retreating. That was when the yelling started again.
The man on the floor staggered drunkenly to his feet and nearly collapsed on the figure in the middle of the floor. The limp figure that wasn't moving. The limp figure that was their ensign. Their crewmate. Their friend.
And he wasn't moving.