For long hours i hid myself away in that storeroom whilst, with every minute, the cramps, the cold and the fear gnawed ever deeper into my soul. Then, the utter terror of discovery… dragged from my hiding, trembling like a frightened animal… then brutal handling and harsh, strident commands.
Even my recently discovered flying skills were of little use in the confined space of the enclosed building and, with doors and windows securely barricaded, any attempt to escape was completely in vain and only served to infuriate my captors.
For three days i was forced to live by my wits, constantly on my guard, despite which i suffered terribly. Faced with an impossible choice – give in and take whatever torture the gang wished to dole out, or fight, giving them an excuse to punish me still more. i chose to fight. The gang seemed to relish having a ‘moving target’ – someone against whom they could pit their wits and vent their rancour. One in particular – Eduardo – as he watched over me, would relish spending hours telling me, in graphic detail, what he intended to do with me if i should let my guard down, for even a brief moment. He would stare at me, his dark eyes probing me for weakness and delighting in my unease. As for the others, they would delight in inflicting physical pain… the beatings and whippings reduced me to a blubbering heap on the floor, whilst they laughed and mocked me. As for the ‘other’ torment – by sheer effort of will and stubborn resistance i have managed to avoid the worst of it, yet still i feel defiled and dirtied beyond reason.
i don’t know how much longer i could have stood the punishment – emotionally and physically, i had come to the lowest i had ever been – desperately tired, i had no idea how long i would last, yet i dared not allow myself the luxury of sleep. i am certain that, without respite, i would not survive my torment, i felt lost, helpless and without hope.
Then, yesterday, i won a reprieve.
We came under attack – a rival gang, intent it seems on plundering the supplies so carefully and jealously guarded by Eduardo and his thugs. They hit us in the early hours of the morning: an onslaught that within minutes had torn through the gang’s defences, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the building.
In the confusion and darkness i made my bid for freedom, pausing only briefly as i stumbled and almost fell over a prostrate form in the gloom. It was Eduardo, pinned by his legs in a pile of rubble. With fear in his eyes, he looked up at me, mutely pleading for help. i held his gaze, staring into those dark pits that had mocked me so grievously. Sacrificing precious moments, when i should have been making good my escape, i quietly told the evil swine exactly what i intended to do to him – just as he had once done with me. A firm push against the remaining crumbling masonry exacted my revenge and Eduardo’s cruel eyes were closed forever.
Into the night i fled until i could no longer hear the noise of battle and my weariness finally overcame me.
/#: Day 35 #//
i’ve woken to a baleful, leprous sky – the dust hangs thickly in the atmosphere and there is an unwholesome tang to the air. All around me is silence, a silence i’m reluctant to break, lest it draw further unwelcome attention. Slowly, i emerge from my shelter of rusty metal and look around me… nothing, as far as the eye can see, other than broken buildings and burned out vehicles. My body aches from the punishment it has received and my mind cannot settle. i see danger around every corner and at every unexpected sound my body tenses for flight. My experiences of the last few days have instilled an almost paranoid fear of human contact. i constantly check my map and radar, although both are useless and every open space i traverse is an exercise in terror.
i am heading constantly northwards, for no other reason than it is something to aim for and it must, at some point, bring me to a sim boundary. i have no greater desire than to be out of this noisome place, away from the dust and endless vista of destruction, away from my memories, away from the constant fear.
/#: Day 39 #//
i have been neglectful. My good intentions to record faithfully what has transpired are simply that… intentions, with little in the way of activity. Yet, when i try to put into words what has been happening, there is little to say. On numerous occasions i’ve opened a notecard, only to delete it, having failed to write anything at all – what is there to say? Every day in this neverending wasteland is the same – oppressive heat, dust: caking my clothing and my face, mind-numbing trudging through the wastes of civilisation. The occasional panic-stricken episode, as others – unknown avatars – come into view… hiding in the shadows, barely breathing: waiting till they pass. The rain squalls that come from nowhere, turning the wastelands into a sodden mire; the dust storms that make breathing a chore and travel impossible. So much time waiting and watching, hoping vainly for a stroke of good fortune.
These are my days and nights – i care not now when i travel, day or night: it is all the same to me. i walk until i am weary and sleep when i find shelter.
/#: Day 40 #//
Some sort of military installation? i’m not sure – abandoned, like so many of the buildings i have seen of late yet, unlike those other places, this seems to have once had a purpose. The rusting equipment and abandoned aircraft speak of somewhere that once bustled with activity and is now eerily silent. This place has brought me my first grain of hope for many days – from the roof i’ve spied what appears to be the sim boundary: the land beyond seems somewhat different and it is calling to me.
Now i have a goal, a destination. Of course, i have no idea what this new place will bring but i am convinced that nothing can compare with the violence and life-sapping horror of the wastelands. Tonight, i will sleep; tomorrow i’ll move on and, the following day – well, i shall have to wait to see what that dawn will bring.
“If in barbed wire things can bloom, why couldn’t I? I will not die, I will not die.”
Frederika “Friedl” Dicker-Brandeis