To Hell & Back

Alone. The crushing, insurmountable pressure – like the depths of the ocean – the likes I’ve never experienced before. All alone. I wrap my fingers around the cold, hard, metal bars. Sometimes the world felt so empty. As if nobody existed any more. Is there anyone left out there? Is it just me? Am I alone? Each passing moment of silence was just as deafening as the last, each breath – in… out… in… out – a shallow pant, had they forgotten me. No, no, no, no! No! Blinking I lift my gaze. How long had it been? Days? No, longer. Much longer. Weeks? Months? I wake each morning to a portion of bread and some water. Spending each moment until passing out from exhaustion waiting for that little bit of human interaction that would never come. What would I give for human interaction? A word, a gesture, some physical contact. Experiences like this could drive anyone to desperation. Had I become desperate? I felt like I’d gone way beyond desperate. I’d do virtually anything for attention. I didn’t care who or what they did – shouting at me, beating me, I didn’t care – I just want something, anything.

Every month, without warning’ people at random were taken, for a ‘game’. The ‘winner’ was considered lucky to leave with their freedom… and their lives. Take them, keep them for months, until they’re so hungry and so desperate – to live, to obtain their freedom – and willing to do anything. Anything, to go home. Home. What did home even look like anymore? The streets, sleeping rough in doorways, begging for food or money. Stealing food and clothes to live. What did I really have to go ‘home’ to anyway?

As if on cue, or the answering of a prayer, there was a thud. The sound of a door closing, followed by the sound of footsteps “What an unexpected surprise.” I muttered under my breath, a deadly surprise more like, I push away from the bars and stride across the small cell to the small cot in the corner. Upon sinking into it and it creaked in protest – threatening to give way under me. One day, it would collapse. To what did I owe the pleasure of a visitor? A young looking female dressed in a sharp grey jump suit her golden locks were pulled back into a pony tail, her emerald eyes narrow and her nose like a beak – her face looked sharp enough to get cut on, had appeared at the other side of the bars. She looked much like a statue for a long time. She couldn’t be more than 20, but to occupy such a high position? A commander, she must have clawed her way up the ranks pretty quickly.

“Hands through the bars.” Sheesh, straight down to it! Not even a little small talk. I planted my gaze firmly on her, a solid act of defiance. A refusal to co-operate. “Hands through the bars.” She repeated, when I refused to budge she tore her gaze from me and nodded at an unseen presence. The escorts, two middle aged men – the first with a short brown hair receding hairline, brown eyes and soft features, the second, a large stern man with small sky blue eyes, a curly mess of greying auburn hair – both dressed in brown jump suits came into view and the cell door was pushed open. Both were easily over six feet tall and big – the burly type of thugs at the lower ranks of the royal guard. They may be bigger than me, or stronger than me – but their much slower. None-the-less, with the two of them and the sharp faced female, I wouldn’t take any chances. Not this time. Time to swallow my dignity and do as they asked.

The cot creaked as I rose from it – but didn’t break. The blue eyed guard – with a frown gracing his rough, bearded features – snapped small silver coloured cuffs, made of iron. The female – who remained at the cell door – smiled, it seemed to twist her features until she looked like a wholly different person. They enjoyed this. All of this. If I survive this, they’ll pay, they’ll all pay. Everyone who put me – and people like me – here would suffer for this. I would burn down the world if I needs must, just to see the look on their faces as they die. And they will die!

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