The day came. He heard the doors roll slide open, and the phantoms jeered and catcalled, while a few of them warned the lot of them not to come back here, that this place would be waiting. David shuffled out behind the line of kids he’d come in here with, some whom were hard to recognize since he’d kept his head down for what felt like forever, but had really only been a day and a half, tops. Part of him recognized this fact, but the other part insisted that it had been far longer, that he’d entered hell, and much as the movies said, time flowed differently here.
The officers were more reserved, watchful, and didn’t yell at them in the same manner as they had upon entering. That was easy to understand, they weren’t laughing and treating this place like a joke any longer. The lot of them had seen past the facade, whatever it might be, and could tell that this was something other than what they’d expected. No cameras, no crews, no cops in the cells to pull inmates off of them, especially since the inmates would disappear and reappear of their own volition. They’d been sent to hell, David’s mind kept repeating, and for some reason they were being given a reprieve. Had it been a test? A joke? Or was this a preview, like the TV shows were said to be?
He didn’t want to come back here, in fact he could imagine that none of them did. A couple of the other kids wept openly as without another word they were marched back into the sunlight, the blinding glare stabbing down at them as though in judgment as the officers allowed them to walk on through. There were no words, no well wishes, and no nods of appreciation. Each kid went back to their parents, who either hugged them and ushered them into the car, or simply ushered them into the car and were off, not daring to look back at the place that they’d consigned their flesh and blood to. David didn’t even speak to his parents as they opened his door. He slid into the back seat, buckled himself in, and dared one last look at the place that had been like hell on earth.
The old, decrepit building that seemed to glare back at him couldn’t have been where he’d just come from. The front doors were busted off and twisted beyond repair, while the inner foyer was overgrown with vegetation and the hallways beyond were dark and looked absolutely dank with moisture and who knew what else. Despite himself, David felt his lip begin to quiver as his mind tried to accept what he was looking at. Dimly, as though from far away, he heard his mother ask, “Are you sure we did the right thing?”