"What's in a name? Everything if you find to whom it belongs."

-Jonathan Gardner


His feet swing free beneath him.

His throat constricts.

His mouth yawns open.

His rigid fingers pry deeper into the skin of his collar, nails breaking the skin.

He can feel something in his neck give way.

A searing rainbow of color bleeds across his vision.

His skin bursts into flames.

He wheezes blood.

His lungs shrivel.

The hard, wooden floor now seems hundreds of miles away, spinning beneath him like a hazy, seat-less merry-go-round.

He sways.

He gasps.

Distantly, from far below him, he can hear a voice speaking.



He becomes aware of other motions around him.

Swaying to his left.

Swaying to his right.

He tries to look…but his gaze is upwards. Held fast by an invisible, raw grip around his throat.

His gaze is upwards…

the light…the light is blinding him…


His windpipe is crushed.

His tongue swells.

His eyes grow gigantic and red.

Both his feet flounder about in space, searching for anything to release the burning constriction around his throat, the searing grip slowly twisting flesh from bone…

but nothing is there…nothing is ever there…

He swings, his bleary suffocating mind being able to recall only one thing. One thing that flashes in the clouds of his thoughts like a blinking neon light on a foggy city street.

He dies on sixty.

He'll die on sixty.

No sooner…no later…


His struggles begin anew.

His feet buck the empty air.

His hands dig deeper into the stinging, raw flesh around his throat…

Not sixty.

Not sixty.


He bumps into something on his left. Swings back. Bumps into something on the right. The tightness in his eyes grows unbearable, the pinch in his throat so hot…

Not sixty

Not sixty


He screams. Squeezes his eyes shut. Gives one last wrenching shudder...



And suddenly he falls.

His feet hit floor.

His body follows.

The burning eases.

The death grip releases.

The counting stops.

He rolls onto his back, gasping, heaving, tearing at his neck.

Someone stands over him.

Blotting out the light.

The figure tilts its head, leans down.

Lifts his chin with a gloved, leather hand.


'What is your name?'

The boy woke up wailing.

In darkness. In pain.


He gasps, rolls onto his back, his hands still clutching his throat.

"Not sixty…not sixty…not…sixty…"

His chains rattle. His vision still fogged with clouds of shifting color. Skin still burning with an invisible fire.

His hands find floor and desperately pushes himself backwards until he feels the cold stone of the wall against his skin.

His hands slowly rise to his neck, flexing against his Adam's apple.

Feeling for The Noose.

"Not sixty…not sixty…not sixty…"

He sits for the better part of three minutes before he realizes it's not there.

Eventually, he feels his breath return, the burning in his skin replaced with a cold damp chill, the facade of color fading away into a shifting blackness.

The boy once again could hear the cacophony of the rumbling, hissing pipes that crisscrossed his ceiling, the murmur of water trickling down the walls.

He feels the knot of the burlap sack tied around his neck, the jingle of the chains dragging along the dirt floor.

He sighs.


He was back in his cell.

He was safe.

"..not…sixty…not… not sixty…"

The boy eases himself down to the floor once more, wrapping his arms around himself.


His breathing becomes rhythmic, the rise and fall of his chest slow and steady…


He closes his eyes.

Tries to sleep once more…

Then, suddenly, his eyes flash open.

His breath catches.

"…my name…" He whispers.

"...what is my name?"