The sound of an alarm going off fills my ears, it continues to go off. I throw the thin covers off my sad excuse for a bed and jumped up quickly to attention. Five burly men aggressively push their way through the door and enter the building. They scatter and start shouting. “Mandatory three day inspection!”
The men are dressed in all black with a thick vest covering their chest and helmets with clear visors over their faces. On their belts they have a handgun, a baton and handcuffs. All five have radios attached to their right shoulder with the sound of other guards conversing with each other, their silent voices echo throughout the near empty room. Their thick boots make a loud, deep noise when they walk across the old dried wood floor.
I look straight at the wall ahead of me trying to stay focused, I don’t want to make the mistake of making eye contact with anyone else. One of the five men stops in front of me and stares into my eyes, he reaches up and grabs my face with his right hand. I can feel the callused skin on his hands as he grips tighter on my cheek. I have learned to not worry about these inspections. I’ve adapted.
The man releases his titanium grip and I can feel the blood flow back to my face. The man moves on to Eight and looks into his eyes. I can almost feel the tension in the air. I can tell Eight is struggling to find what life he still has left. The guard starts to turn toward the next person in line when Eight moves. The guard calls out to the other officers in the room, still fiddling with all of our belongings.
“We've got one!” He says as he grabs Eight by the thin fabric shirt and pulls him to the floor.
He handcuffs his hands behind his back and lifts him to his feet. Eight drops back down to the ground and tries to fight back. Two of the five men restrain him and finish by dragging him outside. The sound of Eight screaming fills the room as he begs for mercy and forgiveness. The three men who are left walk out of the room and close the door, the rest of us still standing in place. We can hear the shrieks of Eight followed by a gunshot. This is how it is now, they control us with fear.
I was ten when the government put the whole country under martial law, and then soon after that they changed the laws all together. My mother told me when this began that everything would go back to normal. She's dead now, my mother. She was shot along with the rest of my family. They call it “population control”. The government decided that it would be a good idea to lower the population, I guess it was easier to sway the remaining population that way. Im originally from Washington state but when the government changed they removed all states. They wanted us all to be united and become stronger by doing so. Now we all live under one government rule.
People have escaped and headed for the Canadian border, but after they leave no one knows if they made it. I don't believe anyone can escape from this life. We were all doomed to become what we are now, helpless people searching for redemption in a broken system.
There are tales of a rebellion and people fighting back against the government. People are moved around from camp to camp and some of them pass on stories that they heard from other people. The stories are from either the east coast or from the south, never around here. I have lived in the same camp all my life, I haven't caused any trouble so they have no reason to move me.
They let us out of this room only once a day for an hour. We only go out at night so we can't see what's beyond the fence and they keep flood lights on us as well just to make sure we are blinded to the outside world. Once the hour is up they herd us all back into our rooms like cattle. We are forced to share a room with ten other people.
We don't have names, just numbers and they can get changed as easily as they are given. My number is One, I have had this number for a while now since I have been in my room for the longest. All the other people in my room look up to me, they always ask for my permission to do everything. One girl, number Seven, is very fond of me and she is always trying to find ways to talk to me. I don't mind the attention but, some of the other men in the other rooms are jealous of me.
We are all still standing in the same positions as another alarm goes off signalling our one hour recreational time. We all get dressed silently as our way of mourning the loss of Eight. I pull a thin shirt over my skinny body followed by a pair of worn out pants that were missing the kneecaps. The thin layers of clothing do no protection from the elements.
Theres only nine of us left as we proceed to walk out of the room and into the fenced off area. We passed the body of Eight left on the ground with a bullet hole in his head, the thick red blood still dripping out of his limp lifeless body. I can’t help but look as we walk by. I can’t help but feel remorse for him, he was a good person and he didn't deserve to die like that. The guards just left him there, didn't even clean up after they were done. They probably left him there as a message for anyone who wants to try and rebel against them. I look at the rest of the group as we walk by but none of them look over. They are probably disgusted by the way they treated him but that's the way the world is now, they have to learn to adapt.
I find a nice place to sit down away from everybody else. I like to be on my own. I sit there and look at everyone else in the camp, I like to study human interaction, its what keeps me busy during recreation time. I watch carefully at all the people around the courtyard. “What are you doing?” a voice from behind me asks,
“What do you want Seven? Im a little busy right now.” I say,
“I was just wondering what you are doing.” She says,
“I am looking around and watching people, stuff you are probably not interested in” I say in the opposite direction of Seven,
“That sounds fascinating, do you mind if I join you?” she says,
“Take a seat then,” I say.
Seven sits beside me and starts to hum. I begin to feel annoyed and I turn to her to tell her to stop, but I am immediately cut off by the loud piercing sound on an explosion. I cover my ears out of pain and start to look around for the source of the sound. I look in the sky but there is nothing, as quick as the sound came, it was gone. Another loud bang followed by the sounds of automatic gunfire start to fill the chilled dark air. Rain starts to fall just as all of the flood lights motion off of us and point to a forest on the other side of the fence. this is the first time I have seen anything past the confines of this prison. Suddenly a group of people come out of the tree line while running and firing their weapons at our camp. There are more explosions and people scrambling around. I quickly grab Seven by the waist and we run back up until we hit a fence. We stop and notice we are right under one of the guard towers. There are three guards on the tower firing towards the incoming people. Seven and I watch the guards as they hopelessly try to stop the oncoming force. The guard tower unexpectedly exploded and the shock from the explosion sent Seven and I flying back. I struggle to get to my feet, the rubble from the guard tower lies all around covering the artificial turf. I scan the ground looking for Seven, I notice her arm sticking out from under some concrete. I run over and put all the strength I have left into moving the rubble off of Seven. I check to make sure she is breathing. I call out her number and her eyes begin to open. I look up and I happen to notice another body lying in the debris. I walk over to the mangled body and I reach down firmly grabbing onto it with both of my hands. I role him over to expose gun attached to his right leg. I pull the gun out of the holster and I make my way back to Seven. I help her up and I try to find a way out. Across the now soaked green turf is a hole in the fence from an explosion. We make our way across. Explosion after explosion hit the fenced-in area, bodies were scattered all over the ground. There was a high pitch ringing in my ears, it was hard to focus on the exit. I place Seven down beside the hole in the fence. I look around and see a bunch of people trying to get back inside. About six guards make their way out and start firing at all the people. They start dropping to the ground one by one until an explosion land directly on top of them killing what was left of the survivors. I turn to help Seven through the hole but I am pulled away from behind. I fall back and land on the ground. A guard has his gun aimed right at me. I put my hands up to show the guard I do not intent to hurt him. The guard does not lower his gun and is still aiming it right at me. I can feel a calm wash over me as I know what is about to happen next. Seven hits the guard in the head and he turns around. He hits Seven back and she falls to the ground. I lurch forward, wrap my arms around the guards waist and tackle him to the ground. The guard drops the gun when we slam into the turf, I begin to hit the guard without mercy. The guard throws a punch into my left side and he rolls me over. The guard places his hands firmly around my neck and begins to tighten his grip. I reach around and can feel the gun at the ends of my fingertips. I try to grab it but I end up knocking it farther away. I can feel the life slowly leaving my body as darkness starts to cloud my vision. Seven reaches over and picks up the gun. She fumbles with it but then pulls the trigger firing it at the guard. The guards grip begins to loosen and I can feel a rush of air enter my lungs. I gasp and cough as I throw the dead body of the guard off of me. I grab my neck and start to rub it, the pain starts to lessen. “Thanks,” I say to Seven in a raspy voice.
Seven helps me up and I help her through the fence. She goes first and then I follow right behind. Mud starts to form from all the rain and soon we were both covered from head to toe in it. The explosions began to stop, my ears recovered from ringing as we almost reach the end. I can feel my arms and legs aching but I push myself to keep going. This is for my survival I have to learn to adapt.
Once we come out on the other side of the fence we are greeted by twenty armed men and women. One of the men steps out of the pack and leans over, he puts out his hand to help me up off of the ground. He is a rugged man and it doesn't look like he has kept himself clean. He is wearing a big vest that was covering his chest but seems to be a different colour than the rest of the guards. It also looks older, it must have been used a lot in the past. He has a stronger gun in his right hand, much bigger than the one I acquired from the guard. The rest of the people didn’t have any vests, they were all wearing regular clothes. He put out his hand for me to grab. I reach up using what little strength I have left and grasp his hand. “We are here to help,” The man says in a gritty voice.
“Thank you!” Seven’s voice rang out from behind me.
“How do we know that you aren't going to hurt us?” I said trying not to be fooled by the mans unrealistic charisma.
“You don’t,” the man says.
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