"This can't be real."
I squeeze my eyes shut until bursts of color flash behind my closed eyes, but when I look again nothing has changed. I'm in a prison. Granted it's large and outdoors, but a cage is a cage is a cage. Cells line up on each side of a black tar road. Every one erected in military formation; black and white uniforms immaculate. Cheap plastic trees are planted at random intervals; ugly toys in comparison to the real thing. It's sick, this prison that seeks to imitate a normal neighborhood; as if the unparalleled joy of freedom can be bottled and cloned at whim. It suggests a casual cruelness; pain acknowledged, but callously disregarded as inconsequential. They just don't care.
"You’re killing me."
The sun continues to rain down UV rays designed to suck up all your energy and leave you begging for reprieve, but too tired to do anything about it. Just the way They like it. Time passes in reflections instead of minutes; from the gritty path beneath my feet to the ring of cells creeping closer within my sight. I can feel my white T-shirt and sweatpants start to cling to my skin, a few drops of sweat lingering at my hair line clumping together the short brown strands. Dirt and dust mars the fabric, a memory of crawling under a fence passes through my mind before it fades away, trivial thoughts discarded. The socks were probably a bad idea, bright yellow with strips of white on the bottom. Not the worst thing I've ever wore; I believe that prize goes to a white jacket that I inherited, by deed instead of birth. It never fit right. The sleeves were too long and it must have been ancient because you had to tie it closed. How long have I been walking?
"I have to escape."
The inmates here are too happy; they smile and wave to each other in passing without a care in the world. Are they blind, do they not know what kind of place this is? Do they not see the microscope that hovers above their heads? The scalpel begging for a chance to bite, to peel back skin and exclaim over the secrets held within. I can't help but feel sorry for them; trapped in this sinister parody of life; a farce that has sunk so deep into their subconscious that they don’t remember what it was like before, when the world was still bright and new. Is this whole thing some twisted experiment, are They brainwashing people now?
Children are imprisoned here, little kids running around without a care. I watch a little boy trip over the cracked cement and fall to his knees. Blood spurts from torn flesh, red stains eroding white skin. An adult that appears to be in charge walks over to inspect the damage. The little boy has tears trembling on his eyelashes, but he is told to walk it off, it’s just a scratch. He stands, wipes the tears away and lip trembling, runs off the join the others.
"Don't look, don't look."
I narrowly escape a guard passing by on the other side of the black tar divider. He's dressed casually, attempting to blend in, but I know the game. Hat pulled low and sunglasses larger than necessary; I've seen so many faceless bodies, all artfully styled in this mutilated masquerade. They can't fool me. The German Shepard (Rottweiler, Husky, Doberman, who knows) he has harnessed inspects the ground, head down and tail flicking impatiently. That wet nose searches the area for a trail and I can only hope it’s not me, an interloper to this web of lies spun for no valid reason that has them searching tirelessly. Guard and dog continue along the path, something more important leading the K-9 further away from me. I let out the breath I must have been holding in a gusty sigh, keeping quiet to ensure their attention remains elsewhere. Despite the distance spreading between us, I constantly feel their eyes. Those eyes are cold and stern, watching from up close or behind glass, every hour of every day. Piercing. Probing. They always stare.
"Is this the end?"
I've been walking for miles and blisters throb in protest from my scarcely protected feet. Halted abruptly, my path is hindered by a yellow diamond planted into the concrete by a steel spike, held aloft for all to see. The yellow appears to glow, the sun glinting along the edges and for a split second I worry about radiation poisoning. Unlikely, but the low probability of traumatic events has never stopped them from occurring on my behalf. Despite the heat, a cold chill trembles down my spine. The instinctual fear of death and captivity paralyzes me; for there in bold black letters my fate is sealed.
I can feel my muscles twitch, struggling to remove me from such an unsecure location, but once again, my minds betrayal has me staked to the spot. From the corner of my eye, I can see various inmates gathered in groups, conversation taking place behind lax hands; guard and dog stand apart with cell phone flashing. Whispers pass from group to group, any actual words disintegrating within the space between us. I can hear sirens, They are coming.
"Please, not again."
I manage to force my body to turn around, to face the horror that is drawing closer; sirens blaring against my ears. It’s the monsters from my nightmares. My fear made tangible, a day I prayed to never repeat. A large truck is approaching, garbed in sterile white. It wades through the inmates and comes to a stop. Smaller blue cars, lights flashing, surround the truck; a barricade and taunt in one gesture. I can see the gaps in the formation, but I’d never get through. Guards in blue exit their vehicles and proceed towards the inmates; postures cautious and deliberate.
Three guards spill from the double doors in the rear with quick feet and large hands; they are not dressed in blue, but the same white as the truck. One pulls a bed on wheels from the back while the other two walk calmly towards me; hands raised, palms facing forward with their fingers curling in my direction. I take a step back, preparing to spin on my heel and run, but I should know better by now. The one on the left lunges and grabs my arm before I can turn, grip firm and unyielding. He spins me into his body and takes hold of my other arm. I'm trapped.
I fight his hold, body straining to break free, legs kicking back into his shins; he doesn't budge, not even surprised. Jagged, bitten fingernails score lines into his skin. The man merely grunts at my ineffectual resistance. I can’t go back; They won’t let me escape a second time. So focused on the one behind me I forgot about the one in front. He appears suddenly, far to close, hand wrenching my head to the side while a needle slides into my neck; jabbing, tearing, foreign oppressors invading.
My bony heel connects with the knee of the villain holding me tight and he stumbles to the right, curses spewing from pain pinched lips. Finally, my arms slide through his meaty paws and I take one step before the world starts to tilt. The ground rushes to meet greet me, but I don't feel any pain; can't feel anything at all. I lie on the ground, face pointed toward the side of their truck; black spots eating away at my vision.
The last thing I saw was a blue star, the symbol that is supposed to guide the lost and weary, but has now been corrupted. Beware the treacherous snake lurking within, for he is the deceiver. He will steal your soul and leave behind an empty shell, a puppet sacrificed upon Their staff.
“…a preliminary report, but sources say that a patient from Blue Valley Mental Institute was found wandering around a small cul-de-sac outside of Churchill County. Authorities were called to the scene and the patient is being re-admitted to the hospital. Tune in at five o’clock for the full report, back to you Todd.”
updated by @americymru: 11/19/16 08:56:22PM