I'm not sure how long they've been at it. They took away the barbed whip, at some point. Somebody taped my wounds. I scoff, internally. It's so they can keep torturing me.
My lungs hurt, my skin hurts, but the pain is dull. Faraway. My head is foggy. I'm faintly aware of the fact that I am flitting in and out of consciousness. I know that if I faint, they will force me awake.
I watch, with hazy eyes, as a knife slowly slips across my arm. It is enough to draw blood, but this time, not deep enough to scar. I watch, strangely fascinated, as blood pools slowly on my arm. The buzzing in my head intensifies, though I feel no pain. My body is shuddering, though.
Is that a good thing, or a bad?
I notice, there are weak chuckles coming from somewhere. They are raspy, but they do not stop. I wonder why. Shouldn't the person save their breath?
"She's gone mad." I think somebody says.
Are they talking about me?
Am I the one laughing?
Fogginess overtakes my mind for a couple of moments. I wonder why I'm laughing. My eyes lift, with slight difficulty, and they pin on Doug.
Ah, yes, they betrayed me. Weren't we friends, at some point? I think we were. Even when we weren't, and I still didn't trust them, we did things for each other. Traded. I was skinny; the guards didn't know I was skinny enough to slip between their stone walls and steal food. I collected it, hid it, and we ate together. I brought the food, and they did the work when those skinny arms couldn't; we were companions, at least?
But I was a fool to trust them. My vision blurred again, and I almost didn't wake up.
My ears were clearer this time. I heard the guard's childlike voice. "Hmph, this isn't fun anymore. Do what you like with her, then return to work. You'll remind everyone that disobedience comes with consequences." His voice took on a hard tone, before he walked out.
I heard Dan turn to me. "You can rot in here without food for a week. You're lucky you get to keep your life." I felt a spot of something wet and slimy land on my shoulder, before I heard two pairs of feet leave. I shuddered slightly in disgust and tried to wipe the spit off, but my wrists were bound firmly.
The iron door slammed shut. Finally giving up, I slumped down, this time for good.
I wasn't sure how much time had passed. Hours? Days? I was sure it hadn't been more than a day; my body was still tired, my wounds still not fully closed. Thoughts swirled around in my mind.
If only I wasn't a slave.
I finally understood what it meant to not be considered human.
I'd already known.
I'd already seen it.
But I didn't want to believe it.
And yet… tears streamed from my eyes, and a maniacal laugh bubbled from my lips. Panic was filling my mind, panic and dismay and anger and hysterical laughter, and it was all too much. "I see," I said, and then again, and again. Over and over, though I'd seen it all along, hadn't I?
I wasn't human. I had skin and bones and red blood in my veins, but it wasn't enough.
My voice was loud in the room. It echoed, doubling and tripling and filling the place, but it only made me feel more alone. I fisted my palms, so tightly, I felt the skin cut open. I watched as the blood slowly dribbled down my wrist, to my elbow.
What were a few more cuts?
We walk on feet and move with arms. We eat to survive and breathe and we may look human, but we aren't.
Hatred, anger, hopelessness; it was brimming in me.
Everybody lives this way? In constant fear of betrayal? Is there no real happiness in this world? All the false security and promises - amI really just a child? Is that why I can't see it? We go round and round in the same circles, and all we do is kill hopes. Does everybody really live life all alone? I'm lonely, I'm lonely, why? I wasn't always alone, so-
Where are my parents?
The swirling thoughts stopped. The screaming stopped. Everything was suddenly still.
Why can't I remember them?
And it all came crashing back down.
I felt pitiful. I had no memory from before I was six; I'd been in the mines for as long as I could remember. I'd been bullied. I was avoided. The other slaves treat me like I was a plague. In the end, they even pushed me to die, so they could escape.
I looked up at my hands. They're blistered and calloused and rough from years of holding a pickaxe. I look down at my body, skinny and plastered with bandages that were too loose. My chains rattled. I couldn't adjust them. I could hear the growls from my stomach. Demanding food, even though I'd eaten just yesterday. My feet felt raw against the stone, from running for hours the day before. A reminder of my chance, my one and only chance of freedom.
My body was exhausted, exhausted and aching.
I might die in a few days, if it goes on like this.
Maybe it might be better if I did.
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