Student or Learner
This is the eleventh part of my short story "A FLAT", please, would you proofread it.
About two weeks later, he was taken to court. This was closed session where only officials had been allowed. When he entered the room they looked at him as if he were a criminal of the worst kind. He sat down in the dock glancing at his solicitor, a man in his sixties, who court had provided for him. The solicitor had already told him that he should confess everything and never mention any torture. In that case, the judge had promised him that the penalty would be less severe.
Otherwise, he would end up in a prison with special regime where he was going to spend the next ten or fifteen years crushing rocks and boulders from sunrise to sunset and never receive any visits from his family.
Listening to him, Ivan felt his stomach knotting. What kind of a country he had been living in? For a few harmless photographs they imprisoned people for years, transforming them into animals without will and ability of thinking. However, weeks spent in prison had taught him that in this closed world neither ethics nor logic existed and one had a choice between playing along and hoping to survive or stand up for his rights and perish.
He listened to the prosecutor who waved his finger and read out accusations. There were many articles from the federal criminal code which numbers and formulations were too complicated for Ivan to understand. What could it mean, “maliciously and untruthfully portraying conditions in the country” or “hostile propaganda?” Then they called witnesses who seemed to be simple workers like himself and who had learnt their lessons well. Ivan saw them for the first time in his life, but they were describing him as if they had known him for years.
They knew almost everything about him since he had started school until the incident with the photographs. They told court how they heard him slandering not only comrade Janko but also the Great Leader and the Party. Another witness, a young woman, told that the defendant had given her a leaflet urging changes in the political system.
A middle-aged man accused Ivan of taking photographs of factories and military objects, which was strictly forbidden, and the court was presented with the photographs of those objects, which Ivan did not know anything about. But somehow these photographs had been found in his flat during the search and Ivan could only ascertain that communists had surpassed all previous systems in manipulations.
Finally, after about three hours of court proceedings (there was another trial awaiting) the judge rose from his seat and solemnly pronounced the verdict: guilty, and four years prison sentence. Ivan felt as if he had hit him in the stomach, but when he glanced at his solicitor the man winked at him, as if wanting to tell him, “I’ve told you, four years are nothing, it could have been much worse.”
In the night Ivan did not sleep a wink. He lay motionless on the mattress, staring at the ceiling and thinking about his bad fate. He had already fallen into the deepest abyss and God knows if he would ever come up alive. Four long years, he repeated for himself dozens of times, and that period of time seemed to him so prolonged that he felt anxiety.
He was going to be a completely broken man, mentally and physically ill, and probably would not be able to work in his profession again. Now his only consolation was his hope to see his wife again, smell her body, hold her hands and talk to her at least for a few minutes.
Two days later, he was in a police van with his hands handcuffs, travelling on the narrow, winding road towards the little town with one of the biggest prisons in the country. When they arrived and Ivan saw grey, high thick walls and hundreds of inmates milling around, dressed in grey, coarse uniforms, he felt nauseous. His legs were shaky and although he was not especially religious, he prayed to God to let him one day come out of this ugly place alive.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thank you so much for your proofreading.
I have not described the witnesses in detail because I have tried to concentrate more on my main character, because those trials and trumped-up charges against innocent people happened so often that the whole process became like an industry. The spies were everywhere and there was no shortage of false witnesses, eager to destroy the "enemies" of the regime.