The man known only as 374215 is a prisoner of war, far in the future when mankind is spread out among the galaxy, much of which is under the control of a ruthless corporation. The man has been stripped of his name and much of his humanity, and is now used for medical experiments, when not being brutalized by the guards.
The only tiny glimmer of respite in the man’s life is at night, when he is watched over by a guard he thinks of only as ‘Scar’. Scar doesn’t talk, and the prisoner isn’t allowed to talk to him. The guard just sits by the door and watches the broken man, which is somehow comforting.
It’s rare to find a short story that really works. It’s a difficult medium to truly master. A very common mistake authors make is trying to cover more ground than the format allows, resulting in stories that seem incomplete and characters that are one dimensional. “Prisoner 374215” was thus a surprise, especially as it’s a free read.
The tale covers just a few days in the life of the prisoner, during which we get just enough of his story to understand how he came to be in his cell. The guard is more of a mystery, until the end, but he still becomes a realistic character. In the end, this is a much better read than many books I’ve paid for.
“Prisoner 374215” is available for free in most popular formats from the M/M Romance Group web site.