Suddenly he was in a cell. Suddenly the pub had gone, and the white, featureless ceiling had appeared. Suddenly, his refreshing pint of beer had been replaced with a cup of tepid water. Suddenly there was no sign of his friends. There was no sign of anyone. Just plain white walls, a plain white bed, and cup of water on a plain white table.

He sat up, bewildered. Then he remembered the guards. Then he remembered the trial. Then he remembered the verdict and the sentence and the prison and the cell. Then, with a moan that peaked into a wail he remembered it all.

Seven years it had lasted. Seven years of constant total mental discipline. Seven years born of the frustration, the boredom and the loneliness of confinement to his lone white room. Seven years since he forgot.

It had taken him more than twice that to achieve. He had started unconsciously, just the small lonely fantasies of a man without a life to live. He had developed a library of scenes, of visions, of stories. He had experienced a revelation, in his dreams there was no loneliness or boredom, only the memory of it.

So he had decided to forget.

He had concentrated on forgetting. At first he could only distract himself, picturing the exact details of the surroundings of his choice, forcing them to become real. He filled his consciousness with the feel, the sights, the sounds, the smells and the tastes of his life, each one becoming more intense as the months wore into years. But every time, he would return, exhausted, to his cell, the walls around him growing ever more oppressive as his freedom danced just out of his reach.

Sometimes, a happy hour would pass in which he did not remember. He would strike up a conversation with a friend, and as they talked the discussion would fill his consciousness, banishing the memory to the far reaches of his mind. Occasionally a whole day would pass in a busy haze of work and pressure, the duties of his office demanding his immediate attention. Gradually the time that passed grew longer, he found he could drink his water and taste wine, eat his gruel and taste fine cuisine, all without remembering.

Then it seemed he had completely forgotten.

There was not a concern at the back of his mind, not a slight worry that something was wrong, and certainly not the thought that at any moment he could be returned to the cell. Not even the memory of the cell or even dreams of it. His life had returned to normal.

Then in a flash, as sometimes happens with long forgotten experiences, he had remembered.

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