Waking up in odd places has a strange effect on you. First, you go through a short, blissful stage where you believe it is a dream, but soon you realize it’s a nightmare. I woke up in a strange room, with concrete walls, stray pieces of broken machinery all around me and sunlight pouring down through slits in the ceiling. I would like to say it was a prison, but it felt more like I was trapped in some superstructure, as if by accident.
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With no way out, I began to feel aches of hunger and thirst within a few hours. Of course, to most people, this would be a death sentence. There would be no cutting through the concrete in time if someone did find you and you surely would struggle to dig your way out. At least, I thought that in the beginning, but upon further examination of one section of the wall, I discovered the concrete was still wet. Either poorly made or simply there was no angle for the sunlight to reach it and dry it faster.
Wet concrete is still hell to dig through, but it was much easier when I put the stray pieces of scrap metal to use. It was tough going at first, my hands would be covered in blisters eventually, so I ripped off my sleeves and used them as gloves. I made good progress within the first day, but I hadn’t broken through just yet. I slept tired and hungry that night, waking up the next day clutching my stomach.
Physical exertion had a harsh effect on my hunger and thirst, but eventually, my system tightens up for my survival. I persisted, continuing my tunnelling, even though the concrete was practically set at that point and broke through into a new room. As I knelt there, I could see grass all around me, a metal door ahead of me, yet concrete walls and roofing were still present. I was no freer than I was before.
I tried the door, banged on it with the meat of my aching hands, but there was no reply.
Hunger hit me again. With such terrible pain and the thought of never escaping, I began grabbing handfuls of grass and eating them with disgust. Disgust led to nausea and eventually I was fighting myself to keep the grass in my stomach. It was necessary, even though my body hated it. As a headache slowly subsided, I examined the door closely and noticed the hinges were on my side. I need only break the bolts and remove them from the hinges to get through.
I looked at the scrap metal in my hand and found it wouldn’t do. I turned around, got back on all fours and proceeded into my tunnel back to the first prison, expecting to find better scrap parts in the next room. Before my eyes, I saw the tunnel ahead droop and fall. With the fear of being crushed by the weakened concrete, I backed out of the tunnel. I didn’t seem to feel any such fear when I first crawled through the tunnel, but I knew I didn’t want to go through it again.
I approached the door again and decided to rely on my brute force as well as the pieces of scrap I did have on me. With powerful strikes, I began chipping at the hinge, seeing scratches turn into cuts and cuts into slits. It was only a matter of time and although I felt it would have been easier with a thinner piece of scrap, I was still victorious. Wrenching the bolts from the hinges and lifting the door, it fell to the ground, revealing a third chamber much like the second.
In this second chamber, I found murky water, dripping from the ceiling and pooling on the ground. Once more, I was not bothered by this and drank. I drank till I was sick and then drank until I was no longer thirsty. The combination of borderline nourishment kept me human, kept me hopeful. With little energy left, I could only examine the new metal door to find the hinges were on the other side.
On a diet of grass and dusty puddles, I reached the end of the day and fell asleep once more. Yet, it was much harder to find peace to enter slumber. I wept, shaking on the cold, hard ground until exhaustion put me into a dream world. I recall the dream well. I was outside, surrounded by life and living, but I could feel none of it. I could not taste the food, feel the warmth of the sun nor the love of those around me.
I was in a prison of another kind and it felt colder than the real one I was in.
Waking up on the third day I discovered I was not alone. Horrific sounds were coming from the other side of one concrete wall. I heard crying, terrible crying and then guttural, painful sounds. It was murder on the other side and I could not find the courage within myself to stand it. I grit my teeth and felt my heart sink into my stomach. A gripping fear unlike any other began to consume me and I didn’t know what to do.
I heard the sound of a metal door opening and closing once the deed was done. Whoever killed the other prisoner had left and with the thought that it was next to my cell, I wondered if I was next. Had I been kidnapped by strange, horrible people? Had I committed some heinous crime worthy of heinous punishment? What was the reason behind it all?
Questions I did not have time to answer. With horror, I heard the footsteps of the killer approach the metal door I could not open. I ran from the third prison back to the second and dove into the tunnel, despite the chance of it caving in on me. I watched from my hole as the metal door opened and a scantily clad man in a mask entered.
Rags from his arms and body hung limp, red in colour, thanks to the splashes of blood. The mask he wore was wooden, with two slits for eyes and nothing else. In his hands were what appeared to be woodcutting axes, but these were shorter; I suppose to make them less cumbersome when he was swinging them with both hands. I stared at him with twisted fascination, as if such a man existed in my lifetime, as he appeared to be straight from the stone age. With so much hair, I wondered if I was being held captive by some evil caveman.
Of course, my judgments of the killer didn’t matter when I was afraid of it. With little courage, I realized I had cornered myself in the hole and it wouldn’t be too difficult for the man to discover me. I was left with a choice; to stay and pray or to climb out from the hole and attempt to fight the man or escape. The right answer was clear to me, but I still hesitated for a second before climbing out of the hole.
I wasn’t fooling the killer, he saw me straight away and watched me climb out from the hole in the wall. He could see my tired, starved form and it was clear to both of us who would win the fight if I could not get past him. It was to my surprise that he did not charge at me with murderous intent, but rather throw one of his two axes at my feet.
In an incredibly deep voice, he ordered me to pick the axe up. It was a chance to even the odds and he was only giving it to make the fight last a little longer. It was a chance I took, although not happily, as it put me in the position of fighting a monster of a man while I was at my weakest and most vulnerable.
Still, I noticed that the monster of a man was wounded. The previous victim must have been given the same chance and I noticed cuts in his shoulder, bleeding immensely. What was odd to me was that the man seemed to be unfazed by the wound. He held strong, stood tall and was ready to kill another, he was ready to kill me. Perhaps it was the sight of such a wound that gave me the confidence to attack first.
I charged at him from the second room, surprising him and making a good swing towards his torso. At the same time, he swung towards me and we were a second away from hitting each other. It was fortunate that I found my feet slipping out from under me thanks to the water on the ground. I kept moving forward, but this time below his strike, while mine hit him square in the hip.
The axe dug in deep but didn’t go far as it grazed off his hip bone.
He yelled and like most people in a fight, he went into a frenzy. I was on the defensive from the next strikes but was also on the ground. I needed to find my feet quickly. I blocked the first attack, barely, but the next strikes followed quickly. Disconnecting myself from my arms for a moment, I kicked at his legs until he was shaken and stumbling, allowing me to get back on my feet.
I could see in the killer’s eyes movements that he was getting afraid, as I was unharmed and he was badly wounded. Seeing that gave me some confidence and my aggression replaced all the pain I felt. We were animals and fought to the last breath, which ended in my victory. I stood over his dying body, him staring up at me as blood poured from his wounds. I was not so far gone that I put him out of his misery.
All I saw was an open door and I made my way through it. I was greeted by the sight of a tunnel, connecting three cells just like mine. One contained the bloodied body of the killer’s first victim and the other contained nothing. We all came from cells, but somehow the killer made it out first. Upon further investigation into his cell, I found he had done similar things to me, digging and surviving on barely anything.
Yet, there were two nails in one wall, a sun line indicating that it was where the axes were hanging. From the damage done to the wall next to the door, I could tell he used the axes to chip away at the cement until the lock had nothing to dig into. It was a clever way of escaping, something I would have done if I had the energy the day before.
Yet, there was no exit.
Although these chambers were connected, there were no more doorways or spots of wet cement to indicate weakness. There were no signs that told me where to go anymore and I was trapped still. I had more space, more disgust and more hardship, but no more hope. I sat in the tunnel that connected the cells, as it was out of the sun and rested.
I rested, but I didn’t feel better. All the hunger pains returned and my lips dried. My body was physically taxed and my spirit was breaking. I wept once more.
That night, with some energy in me, I took the axes and set to work. I returned to my room, where the killer was still breathing and jumped towards the concrete beams. I stuck my legs through, hooking them on the other side and with my other hand, I held onto it.
These were the beams I could not slip through, but the sun could torture me. Without the sun’s rays burning me, I could work harder without tiring so quickly.
I began chipping away at the concrete, cutting at the beams consistently. I struck the cement, again and again, digging into the beam, finding the time passing quickly and sweet progress showing itself. Hours had passed and I had dug halfway through the beam. Once complete, I would need only chip away at another part of the beam until the beam finally broke off. Of course, it was never so easy and as I began chipping away at another section, I heard movement in the room.
I looked down to see the killer sitting up.
He was still alive and he didn’t seem passive. With pain in my muscles, I dropped back down and faced him with the axe ready. Yet, the killer simply shook his head. He climbed to his feet, more blood pouring from his broken form as he did. I looked like he didn’t have long to live, but he once more showed no indication of weakness. He stood up and approached me, I began backing away and his face turned to the beam.
With his axe, he began cutting away at the cement, much faster and stronger than I could. His superior strength was clear and he made short work of the beam. Once the beam fell into the cell, he backed away and indicated for me to climb through first. With little trust in my heart, but a spark of hope, I only hesitated for a second before rushing forward and climbing through the gap. Once on the surface, I found myself saddened and surprised.
I was standing in an incredibly wide, concrete area, with mountainous walls surrounding the circular space. I was still trapped. I thought ‘we were trapped’ for a moment, but when I looked down in the cell, I saw the killer was still laying in the same spot where I had left him. His blood was dried, his skin white. He had died a long time ago. My mind was playing tricks on me, it must have been me who finished cutting the beam.
Yet, I saw his axe was at my feet. I found strength in myself. Collecting the axe in my free hand, I walked towards the wall. With mighty swings, fuelled my anger, adrenaline and fear, I began digging into the wall, carving a ladder as I went. I was becoming less human as I climbed, becoming mad and dangerous with every strike. I could smell the fresh air, I could hear birds and I was reminded of the dream I had in the cell.
If I could feel all this, then I was so close to being free, truly free, once again.
I made it and so did he.