The Vegetable

“Hahahahahhahahhahahhahahhaahhaha”

His laughter echoed as the sharp ends of his wits ricocheted back from the hollow walls of the building. Wits were all he had at that moment for his form was reduced to an awkwardly arranged construction of weak bones, confined by means of ropes. However, he didn’t know that, for he couldn’t feel a thing. Every inch of his body was throbbing uniformly and had crossed the pain threshold to the point of numbness. His senses were affected. He could not tell if it was a day or a month, since they had captured him. He felt as if he had not looked at his reflection in a long time. However, he knew it could not be more than a few days though because his chin only had a few bristles. Good, he thought, at least my brain is working even if my body is broken.

The dark room had just a single candle in some far corner. Its light was throwing a bleak ray on the protruding spine of his naked, humped back. His face was lying limp between his small trembling knees, while his hands were tightly secured with a rope at the back of the chair on which he was being forced to sit.

“Bloody pathetic”, the big man said, wiping the spit from his mouth that had found its way there as it often did whenever he got too involved in his duty. Mr. Aubergine was a huge man with a narrow face and shoulders that somehow enlarged into a bulging tummy, giving him the look of an eggplant. He had a reputation of being a bully and was hated by those who worked under him. One of them had once bedded the same woman as him. She ended up sharing a few intimate details about Aubergine’s physiology with him and he, in turn, told his comrades. Ever since then, Aubergine was called ‘the eggplant with no eggplant’ behind his back.

‘Aubergine’ was not his real name of course but real names were not needed where he worked. Undercover names sufficed, and their leader had named the men based on their physiques or in some cases, functions. This has resulted in some ridiculous names. Aubergine’s partner, for example, was called Rhubarb being a thin man with a very red face. “What is he?” Rhubarb had exploded in anger when they were named, “A botanist?”

“His world, his rules” was the reply from his friend.

“Bloody Pathetic”, repeated Aubergine, “They always do that to me.” Aubergine found special pleasure in breaking bones of people-criminal or not! What he did not find pleasing at all was when his subjects entered a state, where pain couldn’t reach them and his forceful movements meant nothing but tiring himself uselessly. What enraged him further was the captor’s nerve to mock him by laughing at his helplessness.

“Not a single man had ever done that to me”, boasted Rhubarb, “And you know why? Because I fucking know when to stop.” Rhubarb was a shrewd man. While he loved torturing people just as much as Aubergine, he never lost control when at it. He would hit them hard but ensure their sense of pain was preserved. Then he would hit again when his subject was least expecting him. He knew how to be there. Always.

Aubergine did not reply to his partner’s jibes. Since the man they were paid to torture was far beyond their reach now, they knew it was time for them to leave. Besides, she would be coming any time now and Aubergine hated her. She was the only person in this whole system that wanted to soothe these rascals. Why can’t she just play by the rules?, he thought for the umpteenth time, and will you just look at that crafty stick sniggering and planning on to make a move on her. He was looking at his partner.

“What does that whore even see in you?” he decided to provoke him but that didn’t work.

“Oh I just know how to keep her awake at nights”, he smirked and added gesturing towards the figure tied on the chair, “That heightens his torture in a manner that’d satisfy every muscle in your body.”

“You are a dirty man”, said Aubergine that made Rhubarb laugh. The big man left the room since Lavender’s aroma had arrived.


“This is all very interesting”, said the doctor, “I’d diagnose depression and anxiety.”

“But it hurts me physically”, he was saying.

“Sometimes in severe cases, this could happen”, the psychiatrist elaborated, “However, what I really don’t understand is why would you see depression as some kind of eggplant and anxiety as what did you say it was?”

“Rhubarb”, he reddened.

“And sleep?”

“Fragrant Lavender”

“What are you, man?” asked the doctor mocking him, “A botanist?”

“No, a vegetable”, he mumbled.

“He knows”, the crowd of intern psychiatrists gasped in unison. The subject of their experiment was not brain dead!

Originally Published on Medium

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