Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Purpose of Your Life"

This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls. It was inspired by the "warning" square in my 8-2-19 card for the End of Summer Bingo fest. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the Officer Pink thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains intense and controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some which are spoilers. It features Carl Bernhardt in prison, contemplating escape, and a warning of dire (unspecified) consequences should he leave. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"The Purpose of Your Life"

[Saturday, April 18, 2015]

Carl Bernhardt lay in
his supposedly secure cell,
contemplating ways to escape.

There was no shortage.
The guards were, after all,
merely ordinary men.

They were no match
for his superior intellect.

He was not expecting
the horse-faced woman
who stopped outside his cell.

Idly Carl wondered if she
would try to kill him.

Instead she said, "I'm
here to give you a warning:
stay put. As long as you're here,
you're safe. Negotiations have
given the legal system first rights
to your disposal. Leave, and
you become anyone's meat."

"What, I should just give up
the purpose of my life?"
Carl snapped back.

The woman gave him
a cold, razor-edged smile
and said, "It could be that
the purpose of your life is only
to serve as a warning to others."

Then she turned and walked away.

However she had gotten in here, she
must have gotten out the same way,
because no alarms went off.

She might not be ordinary,
but she was still no match
for someone of his capacity.

Carl went back to what he was doing.

* * *


"It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."
-- Ashleigh Brilliant

Super-Intelligence and Evil Genius tropes make it difficult for ordinary characters to constrain supervillains who are much smarter than they are.

Prison Escape Artist and Cardboard Prison are two more motifs common to superhero literature. It is difficult or impossible to imprison a supervillain who doesn't consent to stay there. The most effective method is, in fact, to make it reasonably bearable so that they will stay put. A complementary social force is that supervillains tend to regard breaking out of a civilized prison akin to welching on a bet; it damages the escapee's reputation. (Barbaric prisons don't count.) So there aren't as many escapes as typical of other settings, but still enough to raise the concern.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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