His blood covers my face. My tears are causing the blindfold to scratch my eyes. Suddenly, I’m falling and I hit the ground with a loud thud. I must’ve tripped. The guard to my left helps me up and as soon as I’m standing, he knocks me back down again. His spit wets my face as he yells at me to not even try to escape.
“I wasn’t trying to es-” my sentence is cut short by a blow to my stomach. This is my new life.
Relying on my other senses isn’t proving to be a challenge. I discovered that I am being escorted by five guards, which means they regard me as a dangerous prisoner even though I have never had the combat training I am about to receive in the next three months. We turn to the right and an uproar starts. I can hear metal banging against metal, a cacophony of shouts and whistles and I hear the guards remove their stun guns from their holsters. Only one of the guards is now holding onto me. The lonesome guard continues to push me forward as the chaos ensues. It takes a few minutes for the guards to silence the shouts.
Now that I have stopped crying I become aware of an intense burning on my right wrist. The more I take notice of it the more it throbs. Fear grips me. They wouldn’t brand me again, would they? I would be the second in the history of T.I.E. corp. to be branded more than once and I know I’m not that valuable. I slowly start to run my left hand up my right wrist. I wince as my fingertips brush the raw flesh, confirming my fear. This must be a nightmare. My brother’s not really dead. His blood isn’t on my face. I’m only imagining this because I started studying about the training prison just before falling asleep…but if this was a nightmare the excruciating pain from my wrist would have woken me already…
I am knocked to my right and I feel the wound on my wrist skid across the hard cement floor. Unable to breathe through my screams, I lose consciousness.
Opening my eyes to nothing but darkness I remember the blindfold. It wasn’t a nightmare. The only person who’s ever been there for me is dead and his murderers are my new employers. I had come to this conclusion earlier but a sliver of hope that I was wrong remained inside of me.
Slowly I stand up and feel my warm blood trickling from my branded number. The floor only caused the first ‘1’ to turn into a bit of a jagged mess, but unfortunately they’ll still be able to read the number. I spot bunk beds to my right and rip a piece of the bottom bunk’s sheet off to bind my wound. Walking towards the bathroom I hear the ever continuing whispering in the corridor, changing my route towards the cell bars instead. As I reach them a massive man, with a massive scar across his collar bone, emerges from the cell opposite of mine.
“Aw, the baby finally awoke and realised Mommy isn’t here to save him from the bullies anymore,” he says in a mocking tone.
Because I need his help I bite my tongue and ask, “Can you tell me which cellblock we are in? Please?”
“Sure, we are in the darkest pit of hell. Cellblock Z. The place where only one in twelve survives and your cellmate is the reason why,” he says finishing with a terrifying smile.
“Where is my cellmate if not in his cell like all the other inmates?”
The man begins to laugh a deep, throaty laugh and I frown confused.
“I didn’t say anything funny.”
“You’ll get the joke in about an hour,” is his last statement as he continues to laugh while returning to his bunk.
At my question he only laughs louder. He’s insane, I think as I walk back to my own bed. I turn my attention towards my new home. The cell looks the way I feel: grey. The walls are grey, the bedspreads are grey and my new designated outfit is greyer than grey. I walk to the bathroom in order to change and find it devoid of a cleaning pod. Do they want us to lick ourselves clean? In this small space I discover the horror that is my own reflection. Half of my face is splattered with my brother’s dark red blood. I instantly start scrubbing my face and hands until they’re raw. Desperately trying to get the reminder of his death off of me. I start to undress, scrubbing my clothes with the only bar of soap. I scrub until no more crimson water swirls down the drain.
I dress in my new attire and leave the old ones in a wet pile on the floor. My face is raw from scrubbing so hopefully no-one will notice that I started crying again. I should probably continue inspecting my new home. I take a seat on the top bunk, noting that it is unmade, and survey my surroundings. Apart from everything being grey I see a big clock above the worn wooden desk on the left side of the room. It’s 13:45. My cellmate will be returning home to find an intruder. Considering what his neighbour said about him I should be scared.
I walk over to the desk and examine its contents. Both drawers are locked, so I start digging around the room for the key. He is lethal and private. As I look under the beds, I discover a box filled with fancy ladies’ clothing. Lethal, private and a crossdresser? Who is this guy? I return to the desk, but the only thing on top of it is a piece of paper that has the same sentence written over and over again: Always keep fighting.
The shouts and hollers start up again, only to be silenced by a high pitch scream followed by a guard shouting profanities at the inmates. I walk to the cell bars and press my head against them, trying to see down the dimly lit hallway. I don’t succeed. My new neighbour jumps down from his bed, gives me one look and screams, “Hide beauty, the beast is home!”
I frown and start to notice that all the neighbouring inmates are giving me looks of pity. Some look at me as if I’m about to die. One guy with an afro simply whispers, “Step back man.”
I stumble backwards. Terrified.
The cell door opens and four of the five guards are struggling to keep a girl under control. Each of them are holding one of her limbs, while the fifth is trying to beat her into submission. She’s bloody and bruised but continues to fight. Kicking and flailing all the while.
The fifth guard knocks her over the head, throwing her at my feet. “Quickly! Quickly! Get out!”
She’s my cellmate!
While they are all retreating a big black guy steps into the cell before I hear the lock click. She isn’t down for long then gets back up, heads to the cell doors and starts shouting and kicking the bars. She finishes her rant by spitting into the hallway, then slowly slides down to the floor and begins to sob. The black guy walks over to her, wraps his arms around her and strokes her head. He is soothing her. She only cries for a minute, wipes her eyes, then repeats, “I’m okay,” four times before the guy lets her go.
She looks past him at me with curious eyes. I’m dead.
He looks at me, “Looks like you have a new celly, Lil.”
A sinister smile spreads across her face and she says, “Welcome to my lair.”