You Must be New Here

They're always watching. Image from
They’re always watching.
Image from

I can tell you are because you’re lookin’ at me. Those who’ve been here more than once know that you keep your head down, or you stare at the wall. You don’t look at anyone. You don’t acknowledge that anyone else is here. You keep your mouth shut. It’s better that way. Here, lean in closer so the others won’t hear. I really shouldn’t be talking to you, but you’re just a kid. I feel like I should warn you, let you know what you’re in for. I’m a veteran, see. Been back here only God knows how many times. I try to stay out, we all do, but they come for you even when you know you don’t deserve it. Ah, I see it in your eyes, that’s what you feel, and that’s the root of the problem right there. You shouldn’t be here, you don’t belong, they’ll realize the mistake and let you out quickly. I was like you once. But you gotta realize quick that they don’t care. They’ve got you now. You’re not a person, none of us are. We’re numbers, and numbers don’t go away. Even when the powers that be let you leave, they’ll bring you back. Hey, what number are you? Thirteen? I’m fifteen. We’ve got a while before they come for you. Lemme tell you what happens so you can be ready. No, you really shouldn’t change seats. Don’t draw attention to yourself. It makes everything worse. Just sit still.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, like me, they’ll give you pills before they take you to the back room. They call it “Behavior Management” because I bit someone’s hand the first time, but they use it for just about anybody to make the job easier. The pills make you relax, calm, unable to fight back. You’ll still see and hear everything that they do to you, but you can’t so much as protest. Sometimes they’ll give you water to take your pills with, but sometimes they don’t. It depends on who takes you. Once you’re half-drugged, or if they don’t give you the drugs, off you go to a tiny dark room with no windows. The walls are grey, and there’s 11 tiles in the ceiling. I count them every time, and it’s always eleven. There’ll be a chair in the middle of the cell. They don’t call the place a cell, but we all know that’s what it is. Once you go in, you can’t get out if they don’t want you to leave. You’ll be restrained in the chair. All you can see are the eleven ceiling tiles, white with black marks that look like they were made with toothpicks, and the instruments of torture along the wall. Don’t get freaked out. They like that. They’ll leave you alone in the chair for hours sometimes, just waiting and staring to make you more scared when they do come. Some people snap when the doors open again. That’s psychological torture, that is. Should be against the Geneva Convention, but they don’t care about that here. And don’t get freaked out by the demon dragon-bunnies on the roof, either. They usually show up right before the interrogators start working on you. There used to be jackalope ghosts, but I got too friendly with them, so they all got replaced with the demon dragon-bunnies. The glowing red eyes can be unsettling, but don’t let them bother you. Once you see them, you’ll hear the door behind you open, that blinding bright light will turn on and shine right in your eyes, and then…he’ll enter. He and his assistant will snap on their blue rubber gloves in perfect synchronicity, and the sound will strike terror into you. If you’ve ever seen Firefly, you know what’s coming. “Two by two, hands of blue…”

Nothing good can come of this.
Nothing good can come of this.

Let me warn you, no matter what he does to you, don’t tell him anything. Despite the drills and the needles and the other contraptions they might use, keep your mouth shut. Metaphorically speaking, of course. He’ll force your mouth open and you won’t be able to close it at all for a few hours. You get the point—don’t talk. You may think that spilling the beans will get him to let you go, but that’s a lie. He doesn’t care what you have to tell him. You’ll notice that he only asks you questions when you’re unable to answer, and he won’t stop the drilling long enough to let you reply. I understand if it gets too much to bear—we’ve all been there. If you must speak through the torture, all you need to give is your name, rank, and how many times a week you brush and floss. That’s all. Don’t give them any more than that.

He’ll tell you that it’ll be over quickly, but don’t be fooled. You’ll spend an eternity in that chair, staring at the dragon-bunnies as they growl and twitch their ears at you, and trying to hold onto your sanity through the drilling and the blood and the needles. It’s enough to test the mettle of even the bravest soldier. I wish I could tell you that I stand firm, that they can’t break me no matter what they do, but to my shame, I can’t. Every time they release me, I run away sobbing, promising that I will do better next time, that they will never have reason to drag me back here, that I’ll even use that horrid mouthwash that burns. Everyone breaks, no matter how hard they try to resist. You will too. There’s no need to feel shame over it. Ah, I hear your number. They’re coming for you! Hold out as long as you can, my friend. Remember, you’re not a person to them. You’re just another set of teeth, another piece of flawed enamel to be drilled through and excavated. Welcome to the dentist’s office.


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