"Some hundreds of years may have passed. I don't know. AM has been having fun for some time, accelerating and retarding my time sense. He made certain I would suffer eternally and could not do myself in. He left my mind intact. I can dream, I can wonder, I can lament. Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance. Inwardly: alone.
I have no mouth. And I must scream."
A character suffers from an extremely horrifying Fate Worse Than Death
is not an option; even death never comes to free him from it. He is immobilized or otherwise contained, unable to communicate with anyone, and unlikely to be removed from this situation — not even by death — anytime in the foreseeable future. As the name of the Trope suggests, he can't even scream in anguish, even though he would if he could.
This is often a variation on Taken for Granite
in which the victim remains conscious, and the worst-case scenario for tropes such as Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere
, Baleful Polymorph
, Phantom Zone Picture
, and Who Wants to Live Forever?
Some other torture
— eternal pain, seeing your worst fears
forever, et cetera — may be layered on top of it, but simply being stuck like that forever can be more than enough.
Usually, when this arises, it is eternal unless he's freed by outside forces, but a "mere" years-long or centuries-long fate is possible. For instance, a robot with a 100-year battery life, buried underground. In fact, this is a very common sci-fi trope involving artificial intelligences who are potentially immortal due to being made of software. Unfortunately, if a victim is
rescued, he may well have been driven insane from the experience.
(Some of the listed examples show exactly that.)
Sometimes appears as a Backstory
, if a Sealed Person In A Can
was aware while sealed away. Can overlap with Go Mad from the Isolation
if the character's separated from other people rather than among them but unable to interact.
Generally used two ways, either for horror, or as a way to defeat immortal villains.