The Prize – Tim Jamieson

I want to tell you my story but I can’t. I can only try to pierce it into your mind with my eyes. I hate the way you’re staring at me like I belong here, among the steaming pits and barbed wire fences. I should be adored by you; instead you have me in grey and white, in chains and in Hell.

Do you remember last night? I’m sure I just faded into one of the many you dragged away that day. I may not be able to speak but my hearing is just fine, not that it needed to be good, a heavy boot splintering my front door off its hinges is hard to miss. The burst of freezing air that came with its breaking buffeted the swastika hanging above my head.

At the time I was enjoying my pipe at my desk in celebration. If only I’d sent the telegram immediately, rather than indulging in a smoke first, I wouldn’t be here right now. Ironic really, considering it is tobacco that is supposed to kill you.As you know, I fell off my chair backwards with fright, I have a tendency to balance on two legs when I’m thinking. You laughed at me and dragged me off into the street with no explanation. You don’t deserve the stripes on your shoulders.

You think I’m one of them don’t you? That’s the only reason I could possibly be here. You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m despairing at this mistake.

He’d offered us a prize you know. Any physicist to harness nuclear energy would be granted wealth and power to be envied the world over. To put it into a way you could understand, we were tasked to design a bomb. A bomb of a scale you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams. And I did it. It took countless nights, countless days, years, total isolation and utter devotion. Not being able to have an inane conversation with anyone gave me an edge. It would have ended the war. Of course if I could speak you would know this and you’d probably be dead; shot for stupidity if I had my way.

It’s making me sick rubbing shoulders with these filthy pigs trudging through the mud. I know my wife is one but that doesn’t make me. When I found out, she was dead to me. I wonder if she’s here somewhere now. Maybe she is.

I had it all figured out. I should have sent the message as soon as I’d finished. I’m kicking myself; figuratively of course, you chained my legs. My only prize now is a tattooed number on my wrist, a short walk and a perpetual sleep. You don’t know what you’ve done.

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