Most of us were born here, but a few were shipped in. We hear stories of how their friends died on their way here. Some of them talk about beautiful things: black starry skies and clear blue days, the warm sun beating down on their back as they shovel down a feast.
I give up thoughts of a better life, and remain in my own torturous existence. One day I may get away from here, as my parents did, as their parents did before them. They left a while ago now; I haven’t seen them since.
I’m comforted by the thought of seeing them again, although I don’t know where or when.
Ah! It looks like the stone-faced prison guards are taking some of the others away now: ‘Say hello to my parents for me!’ I shout, excited for them, finally released, finally free. I wake up Paul, my cellmate.
‘They took another lot of them, we could be leaving soon!’ I whisper almost ecstatic. ‘Leave me alone.’ ‘But Paul! I think it’ll be us next! We’re getting out of here!’
He started snoring within seconds; I looked around and the excitement drained from my system. I can’t wait to be out of this place; the smell, what I see, it makes me sick; but after years of sickness, the constant retching, it becomes familiar, normal.
I often fidget, not wanting to rise, even for food. I feel weak.
The doors open at the far end the building to reveal guards bringing in our daily slop. I don’t know what’s in this mixture, but right now I don’t care – if I don’t eat it I will starve. The doors at the end of the room reopen. Within seconds my cage opens in front of me.
I look up just as the realisation hits home. We’re free! We’re going!
“Paul, Paul! Wake up, wake up, it’s our turn!” I practically scream at him, but he doesn’t react. When the guards arrive they prod him with a stick, and roll him over. He doesn’t wake. He’s not breathing.
‘No, he can’t have died! It’s our turn; wake up! We’ve been waiting so long. Come on!’ The guards calm me down by hitting me with a pole; I get the message.
Walking away, I consider my friend. He must have just given up, I feel his pain, but if he’d only hung on a little longer.
The gateway to my freedom gets more real with every step, I feel overwhelmed as I move towards the door. But they open to reveal something unexpected. There’s another room.
The main guard grabs my ear, hurting me. I don’t resist. I am taken to a table in the middle of the room and fastened to it.
From another door, come other men in white coats. They were wearing gloves; I started to panic.
Tools are brought in and laid onto a table next to me, huge sharp knives lay shining, menacing, promising pain, reflecting my fear.
There’s a sharp sting in my belly. I’m free.