Phil in Solitary

It was day two and she started to lose it. They never turned out the lights. Food delivery was even randomized so she could have no bearing on time. The room had no object for her to manipulate other than her body. She had a sink, a bed and a toilet.

There is an awkward moment in solitary confinement when the reality of the socially constructed ego starts shrinking from lack of human contact, and the trumped up concepts of a free will starts to become frighteningly translucent.

She was there. Shrinking. Becoming translucent within.

She started pacing the room. She walked up to the door and turned around and walked back to the wall. Turned around and walked to the door. Turned around.

And saw Phil on her bed with his finger placed on his A-11 Wrist watch tapping away in morse code on its surface.

“Hi,” said Phil.

She screamed and jumped to the corner of the room.

Phil held up a finger to his lips.

“I’m here to help you. Look, I’ve only got a little time so I need you to listen up. If I stay longer than ten minutes in this room, a God-like being, evil and nasty, will lock on to this dimension and will do fucking ANYTHING to get this trinket on my wrist so LISTEN UP.”

“I’m going to use a technique your ancient greeks used to remember things. You need to remember three survival ideas that I’m going to tell you and that MAY help keep your head from going nuts. So shut up right now Cassandra Thomkins. We are going to use this room as a memory device. I’m going to ask you to imagine real things in here as a tool for remembering. ”

She waited. Phil stood up and started pacing.

“You are no longer running on regular time but on will time IF and only IF you can be strong enough to create it. Time in here will soon NOT align with time in the real world. Why? It’s solitary confinement, bitch. Time goes nuts in your head. So you need to create your own ‘Will Clock of Time.” It is a separate clock that has 8 will divisions instead of twelve. YOU decide what Will time it is and not care what real time is. Time to you is now a DECISION. Got it?”

She nodded her head.

“This way you are not playing by the same rules as the outside world. It is eight numbers instead of twelve to accent the difference between will time and earth time and wont even line up anyway by design. The number won’t align so you are always wrong when your guards tell you that your clock is bullshit. Your clock goes through three rotations a day instead of two.”

“Keep track of time constantly even though it is wrong.”

Now, to remember this, I want you to imagine there is a clock that looks just like the one I described to you right above your food slot. I want you to consider it a PERMANENT fixture. It is your will clock. Instead of Mickey Mouse, William Shakespeare is on it with his hands telling time – a WILL clock.

Picture it VIVIDLY. Now tell me about your home. What was your day like before you got here, start me at when you wake up.”

“I would go to the bathroom…”

“Excellent! Now let’s start the day. Stand in front of your toilet and look at the wall on the other side.”

“What do you see?”

“A wall. A door. Duh. Look can you get me out of here?

“It’s complicated and true AND false at once. Do you want to go crazy?”


“Then shut the fuck up, I only have minutes to save your hard-headed ass. Okay, what’s above the slot on the door?

“An imaginary Will Clock. Eight hours instead of twelve. Three rotations instead of two.

A beam of light scanned the room from no detectable source and stopped on Phil’s A-11 American Wrist Watch. Phil winced.

“What is that? Asked Cassandra.”

“Stolen technology you designed. Oh wait … scrap that. Seven minutes now. Okay, look at the wall and imagine the toilet is YOUR toilet. And see YOUR bathroom. Look beyond the wall. Tell me when you have it in your imagination.”

“Easy. Got it,” said Cassandra.

“You must create an imaginary world to work PHYSICALLY in. It will help keep your brain from rotting. Close your eyes. Now imagine that this toilet is the SAME toilet as your home.”


“Look at every detail with your eyes closed. Now open your eyes and PLACE it in this conflicting space. Now stand up and walk around your house in your imagination but PHYSICALLY move your feet. Your house is bigger than your cell so you have to walk in place and imagine that you are traversing your home step by step. Now … walk to the kitchen.”

She started walking in place to her imaginary kitchen.

“PHYSICALLY make breakfast with your body. Start by making coffee in pantemime. Do it in the same way you normally would. KEEP YOUR ROUTINE.”

The cell started shaking.

“Damn. Our dimension has been determined. We have four minutes left. LISTEN HARD. You must LIVE your life physically. You must talk to people you create and pretend they are real to keep your sanity in solitary because you are going to be here awhile. Use your social gestures. Pretend to listen even to boring people. Go to parties. Throw parties. Watch movies. DO IT ALL BUT ACCORDING TO YOUR WILL CLOCK. To remember this, picture a globe sitting on the middle of your toilet. It’s an imaginary globe to represent your imaginary life.

“Now to  put your life imaginary life to work, you need things unexpected to occur. The brain sucks at creating random events.”

Phil took out a pocket knife. He scratched four intersecting lines that met at one point. It looked like a bad pizza. He numbered one slice “1” and the one next to it “8.”

Take a pebble or a pea sized piece of rolled up cloth or anything small and physical and hold it over the center of this floor pizza. Whenever you need to randomize something in your imaginary world, like if an imagined person you created liked your joke or not, hold the piece of matter over the exact center of the pizza and drop it and see what division it lands in. If you think there is a one in eight chance she will like your joke then act like she does like your joke if the piece of matter falls in the one slot. Here, let’s test it. There is a fifty percent chance I will belch really loud now drop this pebble over the center. If it lands on a 1-4 segment I belch.”

Phil gave her a pebble. She dropped it above the center. It landed on a five.

“Lucky you,” he said.

She belched,” and laughed.

“Who ARE you?,” she smiled with a question.

“A guy with NO time. Now let’s just say I really like you and you will can’t know why. Consider me a mystery man but not as cool,” said Phil.

“Or good looking,” she added. “You look like the Apple guy who used to play the apple computer in the commercial. Kinda cute but mostly twirpy.”

Phil was tapping away frantically. Cassandra turned looked around the cell and the light moving around within it. She suddenly had a question.

“Solitary may make me crazy over time, but won’t making shit up and acting like the world is a big dungeon session do the same thing?” asked Cassandra.

“Sure. But it is YOUR crazy not this place’s crazy. Now, Cassie, in this world, after breakfast what do you do?”

“I go to the institute in my car.”

“Do it mentally and physically,” said Phil. “Physically WORK at driving your car to work. Imagine every detail. THIS is now your life in here. After you drive awhile drop your pebble. If it lands on the number 1 four times in a row you had an accident.”

She dropped her pebble.

“Seven,” she said.

“Great driving. You get the idea. Now on the floor diagram I want you to imagine there is a bunch of nerds playing role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons but they ARE USING YOUR FLOOR DIAGRAM AS DICE. Remember that YOU determine what the odds are when you play. Make them as real as possible for the stories you are going to live. Use multiple drops for the really hard stuff – like make the odds of winning the lottery would be something like dropping ones about ten times in a row.”

He looked at his watch. The room was lighting up brighter and brighter.

“Now what else do you normally do?”

“I dance. I practice yoga. Actually … I used to teach those.”

“When?” asked Phil.

“Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”

“You still do. Use the pizza shaped randomizer and teach classes like they are real. Be crazy and fun about this and realize the purpose is to keep your brain recoverable for when you get out of here.”

“Will this work?” she asked.

“It will help. YOU have to work dear. One last thing. You need to keep a calendar in your imaginary home. Spend a lot of time imagining it, flipping through it, writing in it PHYSICALLY, remembering what your plans are. You must also remember days you have already lived in this world and your former one. It will be hard. The hardest thing you may have ever done. But it CAN be a life. Even in here. If you lose track, it’s okay. Recreate it as best you can. Remember the calendar in here is different than the calendar OUT THERE.”

She jumped and hugged him, gripping him like a vice-grip.

He whispered, “To remember this imagine your bed sheet is a giant calendar you sleep under. Now repeat to me what you learned.”

“Above the slot in the door is a will clock. Different than time. It is will dependent not time dependent. There is a compass in the floor I can use as a dice to create stories I act out physically like my normal life and there is a globe sitting on the john.”

The wall started shining. An inter-dimensional portal began to open.

“Bye Cassy. I’ll be back. Phil dropped a copy of the “Rhetorica ad Herrenium” on the floor.”

“Use this to remember this life’s stories,” he quipped. “It really works. And Cassie, MAKE THEM GOOD STORIES!”

He looked and spoke at the A-11, “Retreat now.”

He vanished leaving the room smelling of Ozone. The portal finished opening and the God on the other end looked at Cassandra.

“Just a worthless flunky he’s trying to save,” the God muttered and promptly vanished.

Cassandra sat down on her bed and pinched herself. She recreated the solitary survival tricks Phil gave her. She imagined the clock on the wall, the globe on the john and the players on the floor.

“Day one, one o’clock will time.

She hid the copy of the Rhetorica Ad Herrenium under the sheets.

Then she made breakfast and then worked her ass off teaching a yoga class…

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