Darkness: thick, black, all encompassing darkness. 17 had known nothing else since his birth. He had no name, merely a number to indicate his age. His only sense of time was its increase. He couldn’t count, so he didn’t know what his next number would be. His thoughts were shapes, colours, things he’d never seen. His dreams were landscape portraits. Golden water, purple skies, silver grass. Neon, bright… Anything to oppose the darkness. 17 wished he could dream eternally. Live in colour.
The sound of rusty machinery awoke him from his revery. The dumb-waiter that brought his food had become operational. It delivered a nutrient wafer and water. They were all he had ever eaten.
Feeling for his drink, 17’s hand brushed something metallic. He picked it up carefully. It was small and rectangular, with a single button. He pressed it.
A section of his cage opened, revealing a window he never knew was there. With it came blessed light. 17 couldn’t see for a long time as his eyes adjusted to their first use.
Green grass. Blue sky. There was no sea, but 17 suspected it wasn’t gold.
He ran towards the window, trying to break through. It was there. Something. Something that wasn’t darkness. Something that wasn’t cold and hard.
Had he words, he would have begged to be released. He had never learned how to speak.
After too short a time, the window began to close. Metal slid over glass.