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The Invisible Prisoner

"I can make myself invisible. By the sheer power of my brain, I can make myself vanish."

In the cramped confines of his dungeon cell, Paul Agar concentrated his gaze upon the damp, blank wall and searched inwardly for that elusive truth of how to de-materialize his corporeal state.

'No one' he thought, 'has plumbed the secret depths of the brain simply because no one has yet succeeded in isolating themselves sufficiently from the attractions and distractions of civilization.'

Involuntarily he chuckled to himself, 'The Russians' he mused, 'had unwittingly done him a favour in keeping him in such isolation. Never again would he come as close as he felt sure he was now to that fantastic realization of actually controlling the full resources of the human brain.'

He reviewed his arguments, 'Certain people could, by their so-called personalities, sway others. Hypnotists could, by words alone, create fantasies in the minds of others. The brain generated physical power in the form of electrical energy; it had been proved conclusively that by thought alone one could move inanimate objects, could one likewise move mountains? Or, closer to home, cell doors? Thought transference was a fact, could one transfer the thought that made one invisible? Did people see each other simply because we all manifest ourselves in some way? Do we see whatever we see because we expect to? For instance,' he argued, 'if I kept perfectly still, fixed my mind on the guard and told him that I didn't exist, would he see me? It depended' he thought 'on how completely he could harness his brain to that single thought. With no distractions or mental wandering it should, theoretically, be possible. That was another thing, how much did belief or faith play a part? Faith Healers and the like relied solely on their belief and very often succeeded. He too,' he rationalized, 'must believe in what he intended. Without harnessing faith to the power of the brain nothing would succeed.'

The more he thought about it the more determined he became to exercise his theory at the first opportunity.

Seating himself as comfortably as he could on the hard, narrow bed he relaxed slowly into a state of immobility.

Centering his gaze upon the cell door he began to empty his mind of all extraneous thought. He found this not to be as easy as it sounded. Whenever he came close to clearing his mind the most extraordinary thoughts would just pop up out of nowhere; the face of a girl friend from the distant past, his pet dog, his arrest as a spy, the long, hooked nose of the judge at his trial, his wife, his mother, their home in Weisbaden, on and on it went, tiny, disjointed, abstract thoughts popping up in his mind like the signs in a cash register; ping! His sister. Ping! His boyhood electric train set. Ping! His favourite cake.

His concentration wavered and he came very close to screaming out loud, but with an effort of will he managed to control himself sufficiently to relax once more and try again. The secret, he discovered, was to shout the single thought aloud in his mind until it drowned out everything else, gradually reducing the degree of concentration until he sat quietly thinking only the one thought, 'I do not exist'.

He couldn't remember how long he sat there, time appeared to have no meaning and he felt he could have stayed like that forever.

Inevitably, like the measured pounding of a gong, the heavy footsteps of the guard echoed along the narrow corridor leading to his cell door. His heart began to thump despite his concentration and outward calm.

The large, heavy key scraped in the lock and the iron door with its single, obscene, eyehole swung inwards.

The guard entered, a heavy, thick set, square faced individual; stolid, unimaginative and simple. He carried a small, partitioned tray that held the shapeless globs of food that ranged in colour from filthy grey to black. A rifle swung lightly from one shoulder.

Ignoring the prisoner, the guard placed the tray on a small wall table to his right.

'I am invisible!' screamed Paul in his mind, 'I do not exist, you cannot see me!' Over and over again like a witch's incantation he repeated the words, but the guard ignored him.

Moving like an automaton, the guard checked the lavatory bucket, picked up an empty food tray and moved to leave.

Paul Agar's disappointment and frustration broke like the wall of a dam.

Screaming aloud, "I am invisible!" he hurled himself at the bulky guard, small fists pounding on the broad back he sobbed, "You cannot see me! I do not exist!"

As easily as one would brush aside a fly, the guard flat-handed the prisoner aside, unlimbered his rifle and calmly, without the slightest trace of expression, crashed the butt of his rifle against the side of Paul's head.

For one split second their eyes locked and Paul, already falling, mouthed "I am invisible."

Paul hardly felt the impact as his body hit the floor, there was a single moment of the most excruciating pain as his head struck the stone wall, but almost immediately, it seemed, he was back on his feet and screaming, "You cannot see me, I do not exist! You cannot…." He stopped dead. Only the heavy breathing of the guard who appeared transfixed broke the sudden silence. Blank faced, but with slightly bewildered eyes, the guard stared first at the floor behind Paul and then uncertainly around the cell, he gaze passing unseeingly over Paul's trembling figure.

With a final puzzled shrug, the guard turned and stumped out of the cell, leaving the iron door wide open.

Paul's stomach did a little flip and he nearly vomited in his excitement. Slowly, scarcely daring to make a sound, he expelled his long held breath in a drawn out trembling sigh.

"It… it works!" he whispered half sobbingly, "Holy Mother of God! It works!"

Oddly enough he felt no pain from where he had been struck, only this growing, violent wave of exultation that sang through his veins as the full realization of what he had done sank into his befuddled mind.

He was now possessed of a sudden terrible urge to put this miracle to the test. Perhaps it was all a mistake? Perhaps the guard was waiting for him, gun leveled, ready to put a bullet into him as soon as he stepped out of the door? The guard hadn't looked as if he were playing with him, his bewilderment had seemed genuine. Could he be kidding himself? Could he really make himself vanish at will? 'Oh,' he thought, 'if only he could.' He looked at his hands and they seemed solid enough. 'Only one way to find out, step outside.'

Gingerly, doubt clouding his features, he peered cautiously into the narrow corridor, but it was empty. He slipped quietly from the cell. Halfway along the corridor he froze into immobility and fear struck his heart like a hammer. Voices! Footsteps! Both sounds approaching the corridor door.

'Go back to the cell.' He thought, panicking. 'Never!' Stay here and let this be the acid test' he replied to his own fears.

Pressing his back against the cold, stone wall, perspiration beading his brow, he waited.

The door at the end of the corridor opened.

'I am invisible', he intoned, silently and fervently, 'I do not exist.'

His own guard followed by two others tramped into the corridor. He could not stand the suspense and closed his eyes tightly.

Like the tramp of doom the marching feet came closer and closer, suddenly they were past him and diminishing. His eyes popped open in sheer disbelief. The three guards were just entering his cell. 'They hadn't seen him! He really was invisible!'

He touched himself in awe, he felt solid enough, yet they had marched right by him, almost brushing him as they passed!

Even during his more optimistic moments, he realized, he hadn't truthfully believed he could do it and now he had! Just like that, he could make himself invisible. It… it was utterly fantastic!

Dazedly, he pushed himself away from the wall and tottered towards the door.

Blinking owlishly in the bright light of the empty room he passed on to a door opposite that stood ajar. Unthinkingly he stepped straight through into the room beyond. Instinctively he flattened himself against the wall feverishly whispering, "I am invisible. I do not exist!"

This was obviously the guard's duty quarters and at least half-a-dozen men sat, talked and moved around without once looking in his direction.

Feeling exactly like the bull's eye in a target and half expecting a bullet to thud into his belly at any second, he eased himself away from the wall and began to step nervously across the room, intoning all the while, "I am invisible, you cannot see me," and apparently they couldn't for no one gave him so much as a glance.

His confidence grew. Deliberately placing himself in front of one tall, long faced, guard he stared straight into the guard's vivid blue eyes. It was an eerie feeling, as the guard appeared to stare right through him.

At that moment the guard came smartly to attention, nearly stopping Paul's heart with fright and causing him to move quickly to avoid being knocked over.

Paul glanced over his shoulder and saw the officer who had entered. All the guards stood rigidly to attention.

Almost giggling with nervous hysteria, Paul made his way to the officer. He made an obscene gesture right in the officer's face and barely containing his glee, slipped out of the door, up the stairs, through an empty office and into the courtyard of the prison.

Surprisingly the cold, frosty air didn't seem to bother him, he drew his distinctive blue prison jacket closer around him out of habit rather than cold. With an almost jaunty step, audibly reciting his magic incantation, he crossed the cobbled yard towards the massive, iron studded gates that led to freedom.

Even as he approached them, the massive gates swung open to admit a grey lorry conspicuously marked with the East German town of Lübben's insignia. Cheekily sticking two derisory fingers up at the gate guard he scuttled out into the town.

He could have danced for sheer joyous abandon. He was free! Two long years of isolation and now FREEDOM! 'A short train journey, in his invisible state of course, these clothes were too conspicuous to march around freely, beside he had no money, and then he would be in Berlin, across the wall and he would be completely safe.'

How his friends would marvel at his escape and his new powers. They'd laugh of course, probably pat him on the head and suggest he lay down, but wait until they saw, or rather didn't see, then it would be a different story.

He had no trouble at the Lübben station, simply walked through the barrier with the other passengers. He'd nearly been sat on during the journey, but managed to move just in time. Now the train was pulling into the last station in Berlin before the Western sector began.

Unhurriedly, he stepped from the train and made his way towards the forbidden zone of the Berlin Wall.

The Brandenburg Gate loomed high against the darkening blue evening sky. Searchlights began to flicker over the open ground on the eastern side and large, black and white signs virtually shrieked 'VERBOTEN' 'MINEN' and 'HALT'.

Cheerfully disregarding the sign, guards and machine-gun posts, Paul Agar passed beneath the towering columns and into the freedom of the West.

Hardly daring to believe he'd actually done it, Paul turn to look back at that once proud monument that was now regarded by all freedom loving peoples as an obscenity.

His elation welled up in a tidal wave of tearful joy. Impulsively, he leapt, danced, shouted and whirled in a frenzy of excitement. All the misery and terror of the last two years dissipated in one glorious whoop of pleasure.

Surprisingly, the scattering of people wandering about the brightly lit streets didn't seem to notice him. His excitement slowly ebbed as he stared at them with a puzzled frown. Hesitantly he walked across to a man in a dark overcoat who just stood looking at the Brandenburg Gate.

"Excuse me, mein herr," he said. The man ignored him. "I have just crossed the wall," said Paul again. The man affected not to see him, he simply turned and walked away.

Desperately, Paul grabbed at the sleeve of the man's overcoat. To his absolute horror his hand appeared to pass right through the dark overcoat. He shook his head dazedly, 'Must have missed' he thought and ran after the man, this time grabbing the shoulder. Again, and no mistaking it, his hand traveled right through the man's body. It was like trying to grasp a whisp of smoke.

Paul's brain whirled dizzily and he felt sick. He grasped a lamp post for support, it held him, he pushed a little harder and his hand went clean through it!

Somewhere in the recesses of his mind a light came on and a small mental cinema picture flickered into his consciousness. A rifle butt thudded against his head, his head struck the stone wall and suddenly he was looking down at his own lifeless shape lying huddled on the cell floor. He wasn't invisible - he was dead!

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