The Prisoner’s Cinema – Charlie Jones [Fiction]

The Prisoner’s Cinema

The time has come for my escape from cell, through cinema, to freedom. The lights are down, my lids are open; they have been for days. And now the curtain is pulled back and the show is about to start.

The overture, to which I am the conductor, begins over the universal blackness: melodic silence, soft as a dream. Soundless strings and the noiseless rumble of a timpani. I listen for what seems several minutes, though may be only seconds, before the first puffs of colour come into frame. They drift like fog from a distant sea over the edge of the infinite black, clouding the vastness before me, wandering without a place to settle.

Through the fog, a spark of blue forms against the darkness. It crackles into life and dies in an instant. Another is born, then another, and another, until the emptiness beyond the fog flares an electric blue. As colour showers the void before me, I ready myself. The moment has come.

I take off. It is smooth, and I glide as if carried by a giant palm into the screen itself.

I sail towards the puffs of colour, as they rise to the edge of the black; an exodus of smoke from screen. I pass through the wispy remains of the fog, reaching for it with hands I cannot see. The sparks of blue beyond it dissolve, leaving only a small, almost imperceptible, white circle at the centre of the immense emptiness.

As I travel towards it, the circle enlarges, swirling into a green-yellow hole: the entrance to a tunnel out of this cell, not formed by chipping away at cold stone with a hammer for years on end, but formed by tearing through time and matter in a single hallucinatory instant. The tunnel that will lead me to freedom.

It is upon me. The colossal, cosmic entryway.

I enter, or perhaps the entryway encloses around me, for I feel motionless; whether I am travelling through this tunnel, or it is travelling about me, I cannot be sure. Its green-yellow walls whirl with hypnotic beauty, bright and alive.

The tunnel spirals as I continue through the long, twisting channel, regaining the feeling of motion and beginning to pick up speed, faster and faster, until the swirls of the tunnel walls melt. I shudder in my suspension, as green gives way to brown, then striking red, and what was once a universal blackness becomes a cosmos of colour.

White lightning cascades in the void between the tunnel walls, as my speed increases further still. Beams of orange blaze by my ears, bursts of purple ignite overhead. To my right, somewhere up high in my field of vision, black blots flash in quick succession; cue marks signalling the end of the tunnel, and entry into a new world. Escape.

A final blot, and I’m thrust from the tunnel, watching as the reel reaches its fiery end; a magnificent sun with many bodies explodes like a nuclear bomb. Everything is turned to ashen black. Bright, misshapen teeth emerge in a wide, bending grin, and expand until all is white.

I hover within the brightness, waiting.

Then it begins to form; the shimmer of liquid, of rainwater puddles, speckled with rubble and brick; overgrown clumps of grass by a bank; the strange silhouette of a lone hound. I feel a cool wetness about my toes, raindrops upon my face, a breeze between fingers I see with my eyes. The hound stares, and howls as if I am the moon. I howl in return, and the hound scarpers. I breathe the air that tastes of stone, and run into the projection of my new world, free.


By Charlie Jones

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