One, Two, Three, Four

January 17, 2010
The black water lapped against the small wooden boat I was on, reminding me of where I was going. ‘I’m not a prisoner’ I kept repeating in my head. No, I definitely wasn’t a prisoner there. The penitentiary loomed over the water with the deaths of a thousand lives. Its high stone walls made it a castle impenetrable by any force, manmade or otherwise. I took a deep breath to help stabilize myself and we floated into the dock. My chauffeur tied the rope to a metal notch and hoped onto the old platform. He extended a hand to me and I took it for more leverage until I was standing next to him. He led the way onto the rocky beach and up the sloping broken road. The cold night wind sank deep into my bones and I pulled my jacket closer to my skin. Dread seeped into every pore on my body and I had to almost shout to myself that I wasn’t staying for more than a few hours. The road seemed to wind on forever and I was just starting to get my heart at a normal pace when the moon light was blotted out and we were standing in front of the massive double doors.

He took out a ring of keys and unlocked the dozen dead bolts separating the outside world from the hell within. I flinched back expecting the ominous creaking of the door, but it didn’t come which was somehow evening more foreboding. The doors opened up to a triangular shaped room with three long hallways at the vertices, one straight ahead and one on either side that you couldn’t see the end of, with two reception desks between them. The dark, square, stone texture of the walls combined with the dim lighting sent quivering, sinister shadows across the expanse of the room. A shiver shot down my spine that wasn’t from the abnormally cold temperature.

My guide took me on a tour of the prison that also doubled as a mental hospital. The two hallways on the sides were full of the inmates. Walking down the corridor all of the prisoners were staring at me with expressionless, black eyes from inside their bared cells. The cells couldn’t have been more than three feet wide and six feet deep, a small cot was only thing visible in them. The hallway between the reception desks was full of locked cells with doors. The prisoners from inside looked out of the small windows with crazed, maniac eyes. Soft demented chuckling came from behind the closed doors as I passed and another shiver ran down the length of my spine.

We climbed up the long stairwell; chunks of the concrete were missing, making it a hazardous terrain. The next two levels of the institute was reserve for the mentally inept. Those hallways were filled with rooms with locked doors and wide windows. I walked to the first window and peered in. The room was bigger, about a ten foot square with the same lumpy cot. The prisoner on the bed was only clothed in underwear and a straight jacket. Her eyes were sunken and lifeless; she looked emaciated and had bruises covering her entire body. Her once shinny brunette hair was knotted and dull. Her eyes shifted from the corner of the ceiling to me. A slow hysterical smile spread across her face. She jumped surprisingly fast off of the mattress and stood in the middle of the room smiling at me. Her head tilted to one side slowly and she began walking towards the window. I took a couple frightened breaths and jogged down the hallway to where my guide was waiting my return.

The silence on the two floors was eerie and desolate. I had to command myself not to let my gaze wonder to the windows and the patients. We ascended the final flight of broken stairs to the top level. The fourth floor was designed for brutal experiments. These rooms where bigger and the doors were left open. The cold, metal operating tables were equipped with bondage straps and the counters were strewed with medieval instruments. My feet were moving faster beneath me. I just wanted out of that place of torture but there was still one place left to see. We descended the three flights of stairs to the first floor and began walking to the other side of the building.

My brain was screaming at me to just walk out of the building. The morgue was the only section left unviewed and I had decided that I had had enough. I turned around and started sprinting back down the long corridors. My steps echoing off the hallway was the only thing that pounded through my ears as I counted my footsteps. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four. I could hear other noises and shouts behind me. The staff was chasing after me at a frightful speed; the white blur of doctor’s coats greeted my gaze as I frantically looked behind me. I came to the doors and flung them open, tasting the cold air and running outside to safety. The rocky ground made me stumble every few feet but I got to the boat in time to untie it just before they reached me.

They stood on the dock watching me float out to sea and back to solid land. My breath was still coming out fast and shaky as the fortress became but a small shadow in the distance.

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