The room is ill-lit and ventilated by a solitary grilled window close to the roof. Unattainable. It holds within itself, the world without. Sometimes, during the night, from a certain point on the floor and at a certain angle, a few stars are visible. The moon, never.
M is stretched out almost immediately underneath where the window is; the darkest corner of the room. The dark gives him shelter. Shelter from the unknown realm of light, in the comfort of the shadows. He has grown used to it.
He watches the shaft of light from the window, gradually broadening, on its descent to the floor. It never touches him. He is afraid it might, one day.
He sees the million writhing particles of dust and organisms in the shaft’s wake, brutally exposed; his only companions. Proofs of life beyond.
He keeps looking at the shaft for hours; notes it shifting with the ageing of the day. And the year.
When the shaft disappears, M rises to his feet and walks around the room; makes sure the light has not reduced his power over his kingdom. When he is exhausted, he stretches out in the middle of the floor, from where the stars can be seen.
There he stays till the strange foggy halo near the window warns him of the approach of the shaft. Then he seeks out the darkest corner again.
It has been thus, for many years.
But today, he does not move. The shaft reappears, traces its customary and unhurried path on the floor and reaches him. His face illuminates.
A door M has never known the existence of, somewhere in the walls, opens. Four pairs of feet shuffle in and carry him out.