Page 2 of 173
He’d gone to bed just like any other night. There was no struggle, no fight that he’d had to deal with, no screaming from the kids that would make him wonder if he’d done the right thing in becoming a father, and he and his wife hadn’t been arguing about anything. Where was the justice in any of it?
“Mom!” screamed the young child, bolting out of bed as Fred watched the kid run off. He was no longer confused by this turn of events, from what he’d deduced his own family had moved out of this place a while ago, years ago likely considering the renovations done to his home. He barely recognized the split-level house that he and his wife Marlene had purchased when they were still in their late 20s, but it was the same place be sure. It just wasn’t the same family that he remembered.
Footsteps coming down the hall alerted him to the presence of the child’s mother, prompting Fred to fade from sight again. He’d learned to do this at some point after waking up in a bed that wasn’t his own, next to a man only slightly older than he’d been when he’d…
Nope, nope, he didn’t want to think about that right now.
Fred really thought that moving on would have been a little different, that there would be a pearly gate or clouds of some sort to welcome him into the embrace of his loved ones or old family members that he’d lost along the way. At one point he’d even wondered if he was being evaluated before being tossed unceremoniously down a long, broken pit to be tormented for the rest of his afterlife. But so far nothing had come, no judgment and no end to this imposed existence had managed to show up yet, leaving him to wonder if there were others like himself out there, wandering about.
“He was just there!” the child exclaimed, “I know he was!”
“I believe you,” said the child’s mother, a pretty but heavyset woman that he’d appeared to more than once, “It’s about time we did something about this.”
That almost made Fred laugh, since he couldn’t imagine what the woman could think would help any of them.
(to be continued)
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?”
Another two meals came and went. David kept his head down, all while the phantom prisoners jeered and the phantom guards disappeared after feeding them. During lunch he’d been given some dark, reddish-brown goop that he’d assumed was chili due to the presence of a few beans. It had come with a roll, a small carton of milk, and a small packet of salt. The roll had disappeared before he’d returned to his cell, but had been replaced somehow before he’d sat down. He’d muttered a barely audible ‘thank you’ that had received no response before sitting down on the hard metal of his cot, feeling the edge of it bite into his hamstrings.
Scooting back had given him no relief, as the edge then dug into his calves, while sitting cross-legged did no good since he couldn’t drink his milk and had to almost lay down to do so. Even then he was afraid to shift his gaze to the door, for fear of what might be there, leering at him, just waiting for him to make eye contact. He’d already heard a few of the others cry out after what he assumed was poor judgment on their part. David didn’t want to join the chorus of crying he’d already heard over the course of the day.
The chili was bland, but the salt overpowered it in such a way that David found himself gulping his milk, which emptied the carton quickly as he looked to the sink. He found himself wondering if he could keep his eyes down the entire time while filling it up. The roll was dry but edible, and stuck to the roof of his mouth as he did his best to work up enough saliva to choke it down. He could’t help but wonder what his parents were dining on tonight, if they were able to live with themselves for keeping him here. They had to know what this place was, right? His mother had even asked they were doing the right thing.
What was this place?
(to be concluded)
You’s soft as a pillow, this place is soft as iron.
That was just one of the things his nighttime visitor had said to him, but there had been much, much more he’d relayed, words that David had felt were a joke, a bad attempt at humor, but now made perfect sense.
This place ain’t meant to help you, it’s meant to break you, and you keep pushin’, you’ll break.
He hadn’t looked at another person in what felt like hours, even when they’d been called from their cells for what passed for breakfast. David had taken the tray when his name was called, studiously avoiding raising his eyes to the guards or the inmates that appeared to come from nowhere, jostling and jeering at him, but never hard enough to spill his tray.
Don’t look no one in the eye, not even me, and definitely not the guards. You wanna get through this kid, then you listen. You look at ’em they’ll tear you up. Those guards ain’t gonna rush to help you. An’ if you look at them in the eye, you might as well yank your pants down and let ’em have it, since they’ll take it anyway.
David had been ready to laugh, to tell the man that he could piss off, he wasn’t scaring anyone. David had done his time around gangs, he’d been near and with people that could have ended his life at any given moment. But apparently the man had seen right through that attitude, because his smile had been anything but friendly.
You’s been able to run kid. You can’t run in here. They’ll flip your ass over and tear it wide open jus’ to remind you they can. Don’t be actin’ hard, you ain’t. You’ll know what hard is if you don’t listen.
Something about the way this had been said had chilled David to the core, but that had been nothing compared to what happened next.
You mind me now young’un, the man had said, You keep your head down and do your time here, and you’ll be jus’ fine. You don’t you ain’t never leavin’ this place. You wouldn’t be the only one.
That was when the man had stood up and walked away, which was a bit confusing since the cell doors had been locked as far as David had been aware. But that didn’t stop the man when he appeared to fade from existence before the lingering outline of his body simply stepped through the door.
He hadn’t slept much after that, and when the morning meal had come, he’d made it back to his cell only to look back, keeping his eyes to the floor the entire time, even though his curiosity had gotten the better of him.
There’d been no one there.
(to be continued)
After being put in what looked, initially, like an empty cell, David lost track of time. He heard voices from the other cells, but they were oddly faint, as though they were further away than they really were. His own cell was a stark, barren room with drawings all over the walls, scratches that looked like they’d been made by fingernails marking several of them. A single toilet and sink combination sat near the doorway, its dim and unpolished silver appearance telling a story all it own. The water in the bowl looked clean at least, but for some reason David didn’t trust it. That was an odd thought to have, but upon entering the room he felt that he was being observed somehow, though there was no one else there, only a lone shaft of fading light coming through the single, translucent window that was heavily fortified and warded with what was probably layer upon layer of safety glass.
A single, neatly-folded pile of laundry lay on one of the bunks that was bolted to the wall, and a thin mat that he’d found did little to alleviate the feel of metal beneath his back had been laid across the cot. For a moment, a brief, terrifying span of a few seconds, David had felt like crying. Remembering where he was and who he was, and what he was, a badass to the core, he’d sucked it up and laid down, resting his head on the towel, washcloth, and sheet that lay bundled at the head of his cot. He’d stared at the scratched and slightly pitted surface of the cot above him for a while before his eyes had closed.
After what felt like a very short time, David was awoke by someone tapping his left foot.
“Hey, hey man, wake up.”
Groggily, David opened his eyes, wondering just what time it was. Looking up and behind his cot, towards the window, he saw what might have been a shaft of moonlight dimly penetrating the thick glass, spilling weakly along the floor. It just barely illuminated the black man that was prodding his foot again.
“Make room man, I got somethin’ to say to you.”
Without hurrying, he didn’t want to look like he was afraid, David sat up, ducking his head to avoid hitting it on the bunk above. He maintained eye contact with the man, noting from his peripherals the fierce appearance of the individual. The man was bald, but had a thick, bushy beard and mustache that added to his fearsome appearance. He was thick, built like a bull, but somehow David got the impression that this man could break him in half.
“Keep your eyes off me young ‘un,” the man snapped at him, “You’re in my house, have some respect.”
David wanted so badly to roll his eyes at this, but looking at the man once again he found himself thinking that, on some instinctive level, this would be a very poor idea. So he nodded, and kept his eyes down.
“I’mma drop some knowledge on you boy,” the man drawled, “So you better listen.”
And for nearly thirty minutes, David did. This was amazing, even to him.
(to be continued)
So what’s next, are holidays going to become racist? Will certain books be banned? Will certain language be deemed ‘not okay’? Oh wait…..
“Yo dude, you pissed yourself?”
David grimaced as he looked down at his pants, nodding his head, “Yeah, damn inmates were trying to decide who was gonna make me their bitch. I guess it’s easier for them when you’re tied down.”
“Shit man, that’s raw,” said the speaker, a young Latino that couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15.
“You saw inmates?” another youth, a black kid, said as he came closer, “We ain’t seen shit since we got put in here. This whole place feels empty, like some abandoned prison or some shit.”
“I thought I saw someone in the shower,” the Latino said, “But there was no one there.”
“You went and checked?” David scoffed, “That was stupid.”
The other kid frowned at him, “Least I didn’t piss myself over nothin’!”
The slamming of the door leading from the cell block they’d been put into slammed open as three burly guards came storming in, shouting at them to get up against the wall, put their noses on the wall, “Now goddamit”
The kids did as they were asked, and amazingly as they stood there they heard the catcalls and shuffling of feet from behind them as glancing back they could see inmates milling about, some of them looking their way, others even coming towards them. But where the hell had they come from?
“Man,” David said, turning his face back to the wall, “My parents are gonna sue the hell out of this place.”
“Don’t bet on it cupcake,” said one of the officers, his voice close to David’s ear as he flinched away, “Your parents have signed you over to us, so you’re all ours for the duration.”
“Yeah,” David scoffed, “Whatever.”
He didn’t expect to be grabbed by the upper arms and whirled around so quickly, nor did he expect the back of his head to bounce off the wall with such force that black spots appeared in his vision. For a moment the image of the officer holding him blurred, was gone, and then blurred into focus once again. What the hell?
“You can’t do this!” David yelled, “My parents will-“
“Your parents gave you over to us cupcake,” the guard growled, “So we can do whatever we want, and you’d better learn that.”
As though to make his point, the guard slapped him, hard, and without any warning. As the black spots came again in the wake of the hit, David could his heart beating a little quicker. Was this for real?
(to be continued)
“He looks sweet, don’t he?”
“Back off man, this little bitch is mine.”
“The hell you say! He’s on my block, he’s mine!”
“You’ll get your biscuit after I butter it punk!”
The sound of a fist hitting a cheek was a sound he knew very well, and it was what woke him finally as David opened his eyes, or thought he did. He woke to darkness, though he didn’t recall falling asleep. What in the hell had they done to him? Where were the others? He pushed his lips and tongue against the clothing wrap covering his mouth, trying to loosen it, only to find that it was secured in place somehow. Trying to move he found that he was tied down to the chair they’d sat him in as well, his arms, legs, and torso bound in such a way that he could barely wiggle, let along move that well.
David tensed as he could sense and smell the nearness of another person, the reek of cabbage and something that smelled like shit wafting over him as a disgusting, lecherous voice came pouring into his ear.
“Yeah, that’s right. You squirm little bitch. That’s how I like ’em, raw and wriggling. You’re gonna fit just fine on my pole you sweet little guppy.”
David’s breath was coming fast and hard as he felt his nostrils widening in response. He couldn’t see a damn thing through the hood, but he could feel rough, eager fingers grab both of his knees, squeezing hard as his heartbeat intensified. In the distance he could hear the first two men still fighting, the wet, packing sound of flesh and bone striking flesh as he felt his body begin to shake.
“Ooh yeah little boy,” the voice said as something he didn’t want to guess at brushed against his belly, “Shake for me.”
“What the hell is going on in here?!” roared a voice suddenly, “Get your asses off my block and back to your cells! Move it! Move it! Move it NOW!!”
David had never been so happy to hear a cop in his life, but he couldn’t help thinking that he’d be telling his parents all about this shit. By the time they were home he expected his folks to have filed one hell of a lawsuit against this place.
“Well what is this bullshit?!” the officer roared, stomping over to him with heavy, thundering strides. “Did you soil my chair little boy?!”
David groaned as he suddenly felt the wetness in his jeans. As if to make matters worse, he’d somehow pissed himself without knowing it. When was this going to end?
(to be continued)
They were shuffled into the prison in a line. The officers, pricks all of them apparently, didn’t even let up once they’d hit the doors. Each kid had been roughed up a bit by the time they’d reached the front doors, which, to David, looked a little bit unsettling, but he supposed that was the deal. They wanted to scare them into behaving after all, as though shit ever worked.
“Keep your eyes to the front!” barked one of the officers, “You punks will not talk, walk, or blow your goddamned nose without our say so!”
“What about scratching our ass?” David quipped to the youth in front of him. He didn’t know anyone here as far as he could tell, but that was pretty standard for these shows .What wasn’t standard was the fact that their parents were gone, and there were no cameras about. Normally there’d be at least one two as far as he knew. Maybe they were using surveillance and body cams for this mess.
“What did you say inmate?!” one of the cops roared as he walked up on David, “Did I hear you speak, or was your asshole asking me a question?!”
“He said somethin’ about scratchin’ his ass!” another officer, a big black brick of a man, said as the first one reached out and, with one finger, scratched David’s cheek tenderly.
“There, you have had your ass scratched! Now tell it to stop speaking or I will put somethin’ in it”
“Can you scratch my nuts for me while you’re at it?” David asked, grinning at the officer. He knew the deal, they could only do so much to him. There was a limit after all. “They’re a little sweaty so be gentle.”
The officer smiled at David, but there was little to no mirth in it, and what joy he did see in those hard chips of granite that the man called his eyes was soulless, dark in a way he couldn’t describe somehow.
“Gag and bag this wanna be comedian!” the officer roared, “Get his little pukepot ass out of my sight!”
David was about to protest when a dark bag was thrown over his head, and for a while the world became darkness, with the rough, frenzied motions the only thing that indicated that he was moving one way or the other. What in the hell was going on?!
(to be continued)