Jaden tests boundaries

jaden baker, archcroftAn excerpt from Jaden Baker

William tossed him into his room, and Jaden collided with the door as it slid shut. The anger he felt was real, even though he was following his first rule of resistance when beneficial. He’d scored a tiny victory in keeping Dalton out of his head for one more day. Today’s rebellion rekindled his desire for immediate freedom.

He paced the padded cell for longer than he could count. What was Dalton’s next move? And how would he counter it? His self-imposed rules repeated themselves in his head: resist when beneficial, dignity before humiliation, never show true emotions. Rule three was the hardest. After being forced into a shower, naked, and guarded by three strangers, it had been impossible to hide the truth. He had to pretend this was some kind of game, a test of wills. At least for now.

How many people sat behind the mirror, studying his movements? One? Two? More?

Jaden strode to the mirror and pounded on it with his fists. He didn’t care that it was immature. A constant pounding on the glass would piss off anyone behind it. Right now all he wanted was some chaos. Even a smattering of chaos would satisfy him.

So he banged. First he kept up a rhythm, then he tried beating to the sounds of songs he remembered. He beat Mary had a Little Lamb for at least an hour, then switched to Twinkle Twinkle when he got bored.

The door clanked open. Martin came inside.

“Stop that,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Oh,” Jaden said, coming away from the mirror. “Does that bother you?” So Martin stood sentry behind the mirror. Who else?

Martin scowled and left.

If one fist was annoying, two would be better. Jaden drummed a fast percussion of annoying beats. His hands were sore, and his wrists in agony, but it was for a good cause.

Then it was the tall, black man who came inside. Sentry number two. Jaden didn’t know his name, they’d never been introduced.

“Who the fuck are you?” Jaden asked.

He didn’t answer. Martin came next, holding a straight jacket.

“So you shitheads don’t appreciate my musical talents?” Rather than wait for their response, or for them to tackle him to the ground (which they would do eventually), Jaden walked toward them with his hands outstretched.

Their confusion was amusing. Jaden shook his arms. “Well, put it on, will you? I’m very busy today. Let’s just do this.”

Martin and the other one put the jacket on Jaden with no problems, fastening the buckles behind him. After they’d finished, Jaden turned and walked to the corner of the bed and wall, a place where watching eyes could not find him. It was time to run through another experiment.

Keeping with his current genre, Jaden belted Mary had a Little Lamb, loudly and out of tune. He repeated the nursery song several times, sometimes singing flat, often just yelling. A few times he screamed it. His throat ached after a while, so he switched to Yankee Doodle. He replaced some of the lyrics with more colorful versions he’d heard at school.

And, like he had during Jaden’s foray into drumming, Martin came storming into the cell, all patience gone.

“SHUT UP!” he yelled.

Jaden bit his lip to keep from grinning. When he thought he could control his face, he said: “I can take requests, if you’d like.”

Martin’s anger was palpable. “Shut. Up. Now.” Even his hands shook, he was so vexed with Jaden’s screaming/singing renditions of the classics. Jaden was tempted to keep pushing. How far would Martin take it?

“I won’t shut up,” Jaden said, though his voice was cracking and his throat sore. “You’ll just have to ignore me, won’t you?” Jaden ran through all the songs he knew, and none of them were irritating enough, not even close, to the repetition of children’s songs. Maybe he’d have to try the ABCs next. Or he’d switch it up, mix songs together, yelling them off key. The Wheels on the Bus… Perfect.

When Jaden opened his mouth and began the first stanza, Martin grabbed Jaden’s cheeks and chin in his hand and squeezed.

“I said, shut up,” he whispered. A vein throbbed in Martin’s neck, and his eyes popped. He gripped Jaden harder, Martin’s face turned redder.

Jaden nodded. Yes, he would stop.

Martin withdrew his hand, and ground his teeth together.

Before he could pull away, Jaden gathered the saliva in his mouth and hocked the biggest wad of spit he could into Martin’s face. It landed on Martin’s nose, and some on his mouth.

Wiping his face, Martin turned from Jaden. It was an opportunity Jaden couldn’t pass up. Using the corner to brace himself, Jaden slowly worked his way up the wall and came to a stand. Martin had his hands on his hips and just as he was turning around, Jaden lunged at him, knocking Martin to the floor. Because he couldn’t use his arms to balance himself, Jaden stumbled.

“You son of a bitch,” Martin growled. He hoisted Jaden off the floor and shoved him into a wall, holding him up by his shoulders. Martin was strong. From this angle, gravity was Jaden’s greatest ally. He spit at Martin and delivered a strong kick into his crotch.

Doubled over in pain, Martin sunk to the floor, hands protecting his special place. Jaden kicked again, this time at Martin’s head.

Before he could get a second shot in, the black man returned. As Jaden prepared his attack, his second guest drew a narrow, but long barreled gun from his belt. His movements were fast, but Jaden’s instincts were faster. The gun was torn from his hand, but the man apparently planned for that. He grabbed Jaden’s arm, and stuck a needle in his neck.

The pain was momentary, a simple prick of the skin, but soon his legs wobbled, and he watched the black man’s face blur. Someone lift him and put him in bed. His eyelids fluttered for a while, and his breathing slowed. The problem solving area of his brain guessed this was the same drug used to kidnap him. With that final thought, Jaden drifted into sleep.


Clever, clever. So tactical. No one should underestimate your resourcefulness, but I sense they’ll do it again. The arrogant are prone to mistakes, you know. Keep it up, and you’ll be free of this place sooner than you think.

Yes, I solved a riddle. They can always hear me, even when I annoy them. There’s no way for them to not hear me. They’re not allowed to hit me.

Daddy Dalton has forbidden them.

I think so, too. It’s an interesting development, isn’t it? I’m more valuable than I thought.

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Copyright Courtney Kirchoff. All rights reserved. Excerpt pulled from Jaden Baker by the author.

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Copyright 2018. Courtney Kirchoff.