Jack opened his eyes slowly, blinked a few times, and looked around the room. The first thing he noticed was a single incandescent bulb, maybe 60 watts, hanging from the ceiling. Looking around he saw that he was on a cot in a windowless room with cinderblock walls and a heavy metal door. Then he noticed three other men, also on cots, sharing this dank room with him.
“Ah, sleeping beauty has finally arisen,” Jack heard one of the men say, while the other two chuckled.
“Who are you three?” Jack asked. “And where are we?”
“I am a butcher,” the first man said.
“I’m a baker,” the second man said.
“Let me guess,” Jack said, looking at the third man. “You’re a candlestick maker.”
“Yes,” the third man said. “How did you know?”
Jack looked at the three men. “The universe is fucking with me,” he said, more to himself than to the three other men.”
“And who might you be?” the butcher asked Jack.
“My name is Jack and I’m a….”
The baker interrupted Jack before he finished. “I remember once meeting someone name Jack. He was quite nimble, if I recall.”
“And very quick, too,” said the butcher.
“Yes, Jack was so nimble and so quick that he once jumped over a very large candlestick I crafted,” said the candlestick maker.”
“Okay, what is going on here?” Jack said angrily. “If this is some sort of psychological experiment, I don’t want to have anything to do with. Who do I need to talk to to get out of here?”
“Oh Jack,” said the baker, “you aren’t so nimble.”
“And neither are you so quick,” said the butcher.
“And no matter how high you jump, Jack,” said the candlestick maker, “you’ll never get out of here.”
“What is this place?” Jack screamed.
“Welcome to hell, Jack,” the three men said in unison.
Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt, where we are asked to write our response to the notion of “I Remember Once.” Also for Paula Light’s Thursday Inspiration, where the theme is “universe.” And for Fandango’s One-World Challenge (experiment). And finally for Sandman’s Writing Challenge,
where the situation is “you wake up and you are imprisoned in a room with four strangers, each of a different profession. Why are you imprisoned together and what is your next plan of action?”