by James Frederick Leach
Saturday afternoon crashed, leaving each brick of the asylum stuck like a frozen pixel. Likely the rain, Eben figured. Rendering the complex ripples, the splashing drops--not to mention the fraying edges of the mist--were too demanding for his obsolete brain. During the rainy season, such malfunctions were common, especially in the early afternoon when, as Eben imagined it, the day's onslaught of data finally overran the buffer limits and the whole system tipped into the bucket. During such down times, when his motor functions seized, Eben used to stare at the blank walls and bide his time waiting for reality to reboot. Recently however, Eben was far less patient with these immobilizing crashes. Eben had acquired a tool and now had a new purpose in life.
Earlier in the week, Eben Murphy finally stole a spoon from the commissary. He'd tried to sneak one past the inspectors on at least seventeen previous occasions. Once, he tucked a soup spoon up his sleeve along the outer bone of his forearm, but the weird bulge attracted attention. Another time he wedged one into his shoe, but the handle poked out near his toe. After Tuesday's lunch, however, Eben attempted his most absurd stunt yet. It worked. Eben balanced the bowl of the spoon on the tip of his nose as he exited. The guards made him turn out his pockets but evidently never bothered to look at his face.
After his triumphant heist on Tuesday, Eben hurried to his room and began sculpting the hard foam walls of his cell. The material made a satisfying crunch as he scooped it out, but the blunt edge of the spoon left ragged edges. Eben sharpened the tip against the floor until the curved blade could excavate perfect ovals. The shape reminded him of elm leaves, so he spent the afternoon remaking his prison into a treehouse.