In a very large city that is universally considered to be a utopia, an attractive woman named Riora is about to leave her place of work to go on her lunch break.
“Going anywhere good on your lunch break?” one of her male co-workers says.
“I’m going to visit my boyfriend Andrew,” Riora says. “I visit him every day on my lunch break.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” the male co-worker says, trying to appear not at all jealous of Andrew.
The male co-worker watches Riora leave the workplace. “What a lucky boyfriend,” he says, not knowing just how terribly unlucky Riora’s boyfriend Andrew Squervil really is.
A few minutes later, Riora is standing outside, on a crowded street, a few blocks away from the building that she works in. She is holding a bouquet of roses that she purchased on her way to this spot. She places the roses on the sidewalk, then blows a kiss in the direction of the roses. “I love you, Andrew,” Riora says. “And I miss you terribly.” She then begins walking back to her place of work.
Nearby, someone has witnessed and overheard the incident with Riora and the roses. They assume that Riora was talking to a deceased loved one, and that perhaps the spot where she left the roses is the spot where the deceased loved one had died.
That assumption is completely wrong. In actuality, Andrew Squervil is quite alive and deep below the street, directly below the spot where Riora left the roses.
Deep underneath the spot where Riora left the roses is a large chamber. The chamber is a special prison, designed to punish the worst of the city’s criminals. The entire interior of the chamber, from its floor to its ceiling, is constantly full of a sludge-like mixture of many, many different types of animal excrement.
Within the chamber is sleazy person Andrew Squervil. There are shackles on his arms and legs, extremely limiting his mobility. Strapped to his face is a complex mask that is connected to a long, thin tube that goes to the outside of the chamber. The other end of the tube is connected to a complex machine which, via the tube, continuously provides Andrew with oxygen and nutritional foods and nutritional beverages.
Andrew has been trapped within the chamber for what has seemed like a very long time to him. However, he is not certain exactly how long it has been. In this chamber, time doesn’t seem to exist the way it does outside the chamber. In this chamber, a few minutes can feel like a few hours. In this chamber, a few hours can feel like a few decades.
All Andrew can see is the sludge-like matter, constantly in his eyes, forcing him to see it and only it. All he can hear is the sludge-like matter, constantly in his ears, whispering indecipherable, disgusting secrets to him. All Andrew can feel is the sludge-like matter, constantly covering every inch of his body, never letting Andrew forget that it has him in its clutches. And, of course, it’s all he can smell.
Andrew is miserable.
His imprisonment is the result of a trial in which Andrew was being prosecuted for the theft of an anklet. He was found guilty. The trial’s judge, who doesn’t like Andrew, sentenced him to be imprisoned in this chamber for a very, very, very long time.
This type of punishment isn’t uncommon or illegal in the country that Andrew lives in. It is somewhat common, though the length of time that Andrew has to stay in the chamber is very uncommon. Not illegal, but uncommon. The judge really hates Andrew.
Since this punishment started, Andrew has had trouble sleeping. But he does sleep occasionally. Whenever he is about to fall asleep, he hopes that he will dream about any of the many, many women he has found attractive over the years; perhaps his current girlfriend Riora; or perhaps Sindra, the woman who Andrew cheated on Riora with.
But instead, much to Andrew’s recurring dismay, he dreams only about his friend’s girlfriend Pustilla. Andrew does not like Pustilla, nor does he find her attractive. He doesn’t want her in his dreams. But she is always there. Her and only her.
For that reason, sleep is not an escape for Andrew. It is merely the temporary exchange of one awful experience for another.
Eventually, Andrew’s punishment will come to an end. But that is of no comfort to Andrew at the moment. The sludge-like matter won’t let him feel comfort.