Gheritt White had been floating six feet off the floor for three weeks. His feet and hands tingled, and his eyes burned with the flames of a dying fire. He had last heard someone speak to him as the cell door slammed shut. He didn't remember what the uniformed man had said. The words had bounced off the bars of the cell and rang through Gheritt's ears. Gheritt had been talking to himself for the last few minutes, something about getting caught, but then his ears began to tingle just like his hands.
He looked at his hands, but the fire in his eyes made him blink. Tears came, and when he opened his eyes again, his hands had been melted into fleshy pancakes that wafted in the ripples flowing over the fire in his eyes.
"Damn cell," he heard someone say. "Last time I had a good meal was three days ago. The food they feed you in here could kill a lab rat."
Rats. He had remembered something about rats. But his ears began to ring again and the voice speaking to him faded off into the background of his mind. In its place, there was a new sound, the clapping of hands together. He blinked hard to made out his hands again. They had disappeared; his arms connected at the wrists.
He thought back to the time he went ice skating on a pond. He remembered the sound of his skates on ice, a gentle scraping. Scraping away now inside his ears, trying to tear down his thoughts. There had been a woman with a white fur tube over her hands. Her wrists were like his now. The wrists of someone who had tried too many times to clap his hands. He had been applauding everyone else in life, but never himself. The hands, like himself, had been put into prison, and he didn't know why.
"Can't sleep in here, if the smell of this musty bedroll doesn't make you sick, then the sound of the rats chewing inside the walls will keep you up. You'll wake up from your dreams to their little chomping. Sometimes I think that they are chewing me..." The voice was coming from inside the cell, but Gheritt couldn't see anyone.
Gheritt hadn't always been alone, he could vaguely recall from somewhere inside his broken mind that there had been friends, lovers, murderers.
He recalled a theory he had come up with after a bloody schoolhouse brawl. The theory was simple. At some point in time, everyone was a murderer. Whether or not they ever felt remorse, they had all wanted someone dead. Hatred. Everyone knew the feeling of hatred. Gheritt had known hatred on that schoolyard. His beater had laughed at their bloody faces, a laugh which now echoed through his ears, rhythmically blocking out the other voice in the cell.
The schoolyard was usually a place where Gheritt and his friends would play football or foursquare or something, but today, there was an edge. Maybe everyone had eaten cereal with milk that was about to go bad, or maybe there was too much smoke in the air from the wheeling hubcap factory. Football had been extremely rough. Gheritt had gone to play foursquare after he got tackled by five boys who weren't his friends. But today, even foursquare had an evil twist. The top square today had become habituated to making fun of the first square. Gheritt had decided that it was an evil day. When his beater started to push him around, he exploded. Hatred flowed from his eyes, his hands and feet began to tingle. All of his coordination left him, and his face was beaten to a bloody mess. The schoolyard disciplinarian had been slow to notice the ensuing carnage, and she didn't really care anyway.
Gheritt would have killed him if he could have. He would have torn out the eyes of his beater. He would have made him pay for his abuses. But his hands had begun to tingle. He couldn't feel his feet and he had begun to float off the ground.
Everyone was a murderer, but Gheritt couldn't remember his reason for why that was so. He thought it was something about hands, the passion for justice. His hands and feet had begun to tingle, and he was floating farther off the floor. He looked up from his hands, and he saw the bars of the cell, moving left and right, opening wide and then closing shut like the surf coming up a beach. Every time that he thought he would be safe, the bars crested up, the opening closing, the wave rising, crashing. The result would be the same, he would never escape. The bars would crush him, break his back.
He could feel the roughness of the sand under his palms, for all the motion of the waves around him, his hands had come to rest serenely upon the ocean floor. His body tossed and flipped, pivoting about his hands under which he could feel the safe, coarse sand. The wave crashed one final time, he landed upside down, his hands thrown clear from the sandy bottom, the rush of the water filling his ears, his nose, his mouth, the sound of crashing water cascading down from his feet to his head- penetrating his mind to tear down thoughts. Like the sand castle he had built to withstand the tide, his thoughts came down around him.
Gheritt had a good life, so much time, so much time. He had loved swimming, turning, beating. He had loved the tingle in his hands and feet, his inability to kill his nemesis. Once he had fallen down the stairs, and just for a moment, his hands came to rest on the carpet of the stairs. In that instant, his body had frozen, floating over the stairs, safe from falling, but the moment didn't last. The ocean crashed about him, his hands torn free from the sandy bottom, his body flipping, falling.
But now he levitated farther up, his hands still tingling. He began to float through the bars, he expected the instant of safety as his hands found footing, but that moment did not come, the bars squeezed his body. His chest tingled. As he fell through his cage, his legs tingled. The fire in his eyes had become a cold wind, he blinked away tears. He tumbled through the bars, spinning and turning, he could see a man. In his hand he saw a small white rat. A pounding, the crashing waves in his ears became rhythmical, hard. The man was beating the rat against the floor. Pounding, pounding. Blood covered his hands, the man's hands tingled. He had broken them on the floor of the cell. Disciplinarian, lover, murderer. Gheritt looked back into the cell. He saw himself, disciplinarian, lover, murderer. He had killed his nemesis. The rat lay dead in his bloody hands. At last, he held the throat of his beater.
He escaped into the waves.