“Dinner time maggots! Get your worthless asses up!” Lenny bangs the night stick on the doors down Wing A. Other guards mimic his lunch call in Wing B, C, and D.
Stopping at each door to unlock it he gets to Kiel’s and swings it open.
“Here you eat once a day, dinner time. If you don’t wake your lazy a*s up, you eat this f*****g stick for dinner and you stay in your room. You hearing me boy?” Lenny stands in the doorway blocking the exit, a dim light hangs behind him casting a shape of darkness across Kiel’s eyes.
Cracking his crusted eyelids open, Kiel looks around the room trying to gather the information being shouted at him. Realizing he dozed off he jumps up and tries to think of a response to the broken words he heard.
“Yes sir,” he responds. Not knowing completely what he agreed to, he knew enough to just say yes to the staff when they talked.
Lenny grunts and sneers his sewn lip, he moves onto the next door as Kiel comes out.
Clients move out like drones in single file towards the recreation area. They have done this enough to know not to step out of line.
Kiel walks into the room along with others as they begin to scatter out like roaches under a light bulb finding tables to sit at. Looking around the room, he sees a woman sticking her finger down her throat gagging herself, vomit spills on a table as she bends down to lick it up like a starving dog.
At another table a man is rocking back and forth with his c**k in his hand as he mutters ramblings. His eyes fixated on a stuffed teddy bear in the corner, his hand jerking back and forth as if the thing was gonna fall off if he lost grip.
Kiel rubs his stomach wondering if he should even eat, a sour stench of piss and God knows what else lingered in the air like a poison. How am I supposed to eat in here?
He scans the room for an empty table. A man crawls across the floor next to him scraping his knees against the grimy tile. A girl sits in the corner with her legs folded, her blonde hair tied back as she looked out the window.
“Down the rabbit hole! Haha it made me do it! The white rabbit! Off with her head the queen would say!” she screamed random outburst throughout the rest of that period.
Kiel looks around starting to feel more uneasy when he catches sight of a cute red-headed girl. Her hair messy and stuck together looked like a flame dancing around her head. Her skin was unwashed and oily, but in here what could he complain about? She was beautiful regardless of her unkempt appearance, he could literally feel his heart sink.
He decides to approach her as she is sitting alone and looks more sane than anyone else here. Swallowing a lump in his throat he begins to head over as another guy sits down next to her.
“Mystery meat today again, you eating?” The man asks. Lola shrugs her shoulders. “Might as well, we’re all going to hell anyways. What’s one more sin?”
Kiel slowly steps forward and clears his throat. “Excuse me? May I join you?”
The man sitting at the table pushes a chair out and nods his head. Kiel slumps into the chair not realizing he’s burning holes into Lola with his eyes, she turns towards him and catches him staring.
Kiel feels his cheeks grow hot as he looks towards the guy. “Thank you for letting me sit here, this place is unbelievable. How does that Lenny guy even work here? Guy is evil.”
The man chuckles and says, “Just wait until you really get to know him, he’s a genuine sweetheart that man.”
Lola giggles and extends her hand towards Kiel. “Names Lola, this here is Gil.”
Extending his hand out Kiel responds, “Kiel, it’s nice to meet you.” He fixates his gaze upon her eyes, his soul begins to swirl in a dance of joy as she looks back and smiles.
“So what you in for Kiel?” Gil asks.
Snapping out of it he looks at Gil, a large man with what looked like leather skin. His eyes looked so hollow, like something inside him died long ago.
“Honestly I don’t remember? I think I hit my head or something I just remember coming here. Everything before that is kinda fuzzy but comes in pieces like someone changing a channel on a TV with bad reception. I thought it was a dream, I mean how does a place like this even exist?”
Lola responds, “This place exists because of us. We all have done something to earn our spot here.”
Gil nods his head without speaking. The stubble from his double chin scraping against his chest.
Stumbling over his words Kiel chokes, “You guys seriously think we deserve this? How?”
“Hold up there Saint Kiel, just cause you don’t remember don’t mean you’re innocent. You see that girl yelling about the ‘white rabbit and the queen’ over there?” Gil points to the blonde haired girl in staring out the window. “Her favorite book was Alice in Wonderland. She had mental issues but parents wanted to keep her home with them, read that book every damn day. One day she started dressing like Alice, dyed her hair and spoke like she was in a fantasy world. Parents thought it was cute and bought her a pet rabbit, well one day they had to run errands left her alone with little brother. They came home found the living room covered in blood. Cut off her brother’s head with a rusted axe, killed the rabbit on top of that. Was laughing saying the white rabbit told her to. You still think we deserve sunshine and hugs?”
Kiel turns away from her and rubs his stomach, “This place is just…dark. I’m sorry but saying you guys earned your place, may I ask what did you guys do?”
Gil leans back in his chair and sighs, “You wanna go first Lola?”
Lola begins to speak when they hear, “Lunch is ready ya pricks!” Looking over they see Lenny yelling with his hands cupped around his mouth. He stood by the doorway to the kitchen as staff came out with trays, surprisingly the food didn’t smell too bad.
A staff walks by dropping a blue plastic tray with three bowls on it. Each one containing chunks of meat in a gravy substance.
“Where are the forks?” Kiel asks. Lola and Gil giggle to themselves and dig their hands into the bowls and begin to shovel the food into their mouths. Kiel looks around to see everyone doing the same thing. He stares down into the bowl and decides to do the same.
Taking a bite the meat is kinda rough to bite through but he ends up tearing through it. He swallows it and nods his head saying, “This ain’t too bad. What is this?”
“Mystery meat, don’t ask,” Lola replies with liquid streaming down her chin. Kiel’s heart pounds as he imagines licking it off her neck for her.
Lenny walks through the double doors to the front desk.
“Special delivery Mrs. Cranston.” Lenny puts a tray down with two bowls of meat on her desk. She looks over and places down her paperwork. “Well it’s about damn time I’ve been having withdraws, who punched their time card?”
“Some a*****e with mommy issues and Patricia from Wing B. Don’t worry you got the hearts the others got the rest.”
She licks her lips and leans in inhaling the sweet aroma.
Back in the recreation room, “So you wanna know what we did huh?” Gil asks. Kiel nods his head chewing on a tough piece of meat. “Well you ever heard the expression, ‘I’d die a thousand deaths before’ so and so?”
“Well, I said it one time and I’m paying for it. Had a cousin of mine on my mom’s side, real bad blood. We hated each other, fought many times over the years growing up. F****r was a chain smoker went through four packs a day, caught up too him and just in time, cancer took away his lungs. On his death bed, he wanted to see me. Asked me to make amends, told me he wanted peace or some s**t. I told him I’d die a thousand deaths before that happened. He died a few minutes later, the family blamed me somehow. I didn’t care, he was a prick. Well anyways when I got home his psycho sister was there. Knocked me over the head with a bat when I walked in, caught me off guard. I woke up laying on a symbol made of sand with candles lit. Some real dark mojo s**t ya know? I was tied up and gagged. Apparently she was into some weird stuff and held a grudge against me, muttered some words that sounded made up and left.”
“Are you being serious?”
“Gets better, she tossed a knife at me and smiled as she walked out. I was able to roll over and scoot back to it, cut myself free and tried to find her but she was gone. Even her house was empty like no one lived there. Anyways, so I go home and drink myself to sleep, old remedy for pain since my head felt like a mule kicked it. And that’s when it happened, I woke up in like another dimension or world. This creature dressed in a black cloak was there smiling, I was tied to a wooden table with straps. It pulled a lever and poured boiling oil on my body. My body burned as I cried and screamed for mercy, the oil never ran out, it lasted for hours. When I thought I couldn’t take anymore he smiled once more exposing his fangs and said one thing to me. One thing.”
Leaning in Kiel asks, “What did he say?”
“He said, ‘One down, nine hundred ninety nine to go’, I woke up in my bed screaming. I could still feel the oil cooking my body. Thought maybe it was a hell of a nightmare but it happened again and again. Each time different. I’ve been burned, stabbed, buried alive, dismembered, cooked you name it. So far I have about 265 left. But good thing from it, my body has been through so much physical abuse that my nerves have been damaged. See it happens in that world, but in ours it still affects me. To the point I’m immune to pain now.”
Kiel stares in shock for a moment and realizes they must be pranking him. He looks to Lola waiting for her to laugh but her face doesn’t change. Maybe she’s just good at playing jokes?
“You’re joking right? I mean that can’t be true that sounds crazy.”
“Lola help me out here dear,” Gil asks.
She swallows the gravy from the bowl and wipes her mouth with her sleeve before getting the bowl and putting it against the table edge. She looks around then lightly hits it with her fist until one side begins to crack. She hands it to Gil who then bites down onto it breaking it in his mouth.
He chews on the glass as his gums bleed out. He grips the bowl breaking another piece off and points the sharp end sliding it down his left forearm. His arm splits open like a knife through tender roast. He flexes his arm showing the muscle twitch through the open gash.
“Proof enough for ya? Can’t feel it kid.”
Kiel spits out what was left of his food and starts to gag while coughing. Gil and Lola laugh before a staff yells at them to quiet down.
“That’s f*****g sick man! How are you able to do that!” Kiel shouts.
“Told you, I’m immune. I’ll be fine tomorrow, body heals up overnight. Strange s**t huh?” Gil begins to eat again as if nothing had happened. Blood leaks out onto the table and his lap.
Kiel looks at Lola and asks, “Is this real? How is that possible?”
Lola smiles and says, “Ain’t heard nothing, wait until you hear this.”