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Chapter 1

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Chapter I

Guests of the Institute

 

Dawn broke, bright and early, as what little sunlight reached this place came through the bars of the single window and woke up Martin Wolfrick long before the sound of the guard bellowing throughout the prison corridor, not that it was anymore of a relief to be woken up by the sun rather than the apes the prison employed.

“Get up, inmates, you have a long day’s work ahead!” The guard bellowed which was accompanied by a quick groan from a couple of the cells. Martin too groaned before looking around at his cell, not that there was much to see. The grey, stone room was only about three meters long, two meters deep and consisted of only a single stone bed, along with a small toilet in the far corner. Apart from that it was completely barren, other than the spiders who were the small boy’s only company at night. At least that was something, being locked in a room all night with those creatures had done miracles for his arachnophobia.

For Martin, who had known nothing other than luxury of Wolfrick Manor, to Brutus’s cabin and even the house in Bergskort as a home, it had taken a few days to get used to the spartan nature of his new home, not that he would have ever called it that.

He wondered, as he often did in these times about the group he had been traveling with, and how close they were to discovering his present location, as surely the likes of Codsworth and Dmitri would be on the hunt for him. There had been a brief time when he had almost given up on that sense of hope that the powerless have. That was until he had overheard one of the guards discussing the activity of the dwarves of Normanguard, and how they seemed to be stepping up their efforts. That at least gave him back his hope that the group were continuing the search for him. He missed them, he missed his brothers, and Vernon, Dmitri and Charlie, and all the others. However, he missed Echo the most of all. Had the husky been with him, he doubted that he would ever have been caught, he had often thought to himself as he lay alone at night during those early days. Even though he now realised that if Echo had been with him, the husky would probably have been killed in order to get to him.

 

Despite the guard bellowing at the cell block at large, Martin closed his eyes trying to get a few more minutes of sleep. He had been dreaming about the only thing that many dreamed about whilst stuck in this place, escape. Whilst he had no idea if it was possible, it was the only thing that gave him hope. Also, it was the one thing that the guards couldn’t take away from them, not that they didn’t attempt to. It was common knowledge, well now anyway, that even the mention of escape was enough to get the ever-living shit kicked out of you and that was if you were lucky.

However, the plan for a few more minutes of sleep quickly fell apart as a few moments later, the door to his cell was opened, and a thick set guard stood in the doorway, clutching a long electro rod in his right hand, staring down at the now awake Martin. His experience, both first and second hand had taught him well, that the electro sticks were not to be taken lightly.

“What about you, Inmate 346. Are you going to give me any trouble today?” The guard said looking down at the small boy in front of him, with an almost eager looking grin on his fat face. The use of his number rather than his name reinforcing the fact of what he was to these people, a tool to be used until it broke and then swiftly discarded.

Martin looked up, in stark contrast to the guard, he had arrived at the camp short and skinny, and he was even more so now, his previous messy long light brown hair was gone and had been replaced by the buzz cut the prison guards had given him, the only thing that hadn’t changed was his eyes that had remained stubbornly blue, unlike his older brothers when they were his age. Although his right one was now supporting a black eye, a result of his most recent trouble making, when he had dared to question one of the guards a week ago, he had considered himself both lucky and fortunate that he hadn’t been dumped into the tank for his troubles as well. Remembering this latest encounter, Martin continued to look at the guard before answering.

“No.” Martin said with nothing short of loathing in his eyes, however he immediately regretted that decision as this answer seems to annoy the guard as if Martin had attacked him. For the guard bellowed at the small boy in front of him. Before driving the rod into Martin, hitting him with the full force of the device.

 

Pain shot through Martin body as the electro stick was applied to his arm. Causing Martin to keel of his stone bed and twitch on the ground, as the guard pulls the stick back and dragged the still twitching Martin out of his cell, and into the corridor outside where twelve of the other inmates stood watching. As he was being dragged unceremoniously across the cold stone ground, he looked up at the guard.

“Fuck you.” Martin said staring daggers at the oversized gorilla, this was all the resistance he was able to manage as the guard changed tack and turned to the group of onlookers.

“You lot.” The guard said, looking around at the assembled crowd. Dropping Martin against a nearby wall, still twitching but able to just about steady himself from the previous blast of electricity. “Look at what happens when you fail to show me the proper respect.”

The guard then drove the rod into Martin again, forcing him back down to the ground, he continued this action for a few seconds before withdrawing, to allow Martin to stumble to his feet who stared daggers at the guard, but not saying anything. The group of onlookers said nothing however, as Martin clumsily raised himself up. With the guard giving the young boy a sneer.

“Now then inmate 346, what do you say?” The guard said looking down at the youngster. As Martin thought in his mind of what he would really like to say to the guard, all of them revolving around very rude words, the reality of the situation set in, and he submitted in order to end this conversation as quickly as possible.

“No sir.” Martin said in an undertone, trying and failing not to give the man the satisfaction he craved.

“Again Inmate. So, we can hear you.” The guard said smiling, mockingly holding his hand to his ear. Martin saw that this sick bastard was enjoying this and would just love to use his stick again, he was half tempted to disrespect the guard again. But the sight of the electro stick however, which the guard brought onto Martin’s eye level smiling all the while, was enough of a persuader to convince him to just give the guard what he wanted.

“No sir.” Martin said more clearly, giving up on his morning defiance, as he had done on every other occasion that he had tried to resist.

“Better.” The guard said smiling and nodding, as if he was talking to a dim child who had learned the most basic thing in class. The subjugation of Martin, however, didn’t satisfy him for long as he quickly turned to the rest of the inmates. “What are you lot looking at!” He bellowed. “Get in line now!”

The inmates quickly formed into single file as the guard walked them out of the cell corridor, glaring at them. Once convinced that the guard couldn’t hear them. Olly Stacks, a ginger haired boy who was directly behind Martin in the line leaned forward.

“Do you actually liked getting shocked, Sparky?” Olly said not unkindly, but with a glint in his eyes, obviously hoping for some more defiance from his friend. Martin simply shook his head in response, not wanting to give the guard another reason to electrocute him again. Of all the inmates Olly was the one that Martin had gotten closest too, although he hated the use of the nickname that the older kid had given him after the first few days of their captivity.

 

It had been almost eight months since Martin Wolfrick had been captured back in the woods during the hoard attack on his group, although Martin had lost count of the days a few weeks into his imprisonment. And since arriving at this prison, he had been either repeatedly shocked, drowned or beaten, or some combination of the three, on almost a daily basis for one misdemeanour or another.

Upon his arrival, after being hauled out of the trunk of the car that he had spent the majority of the journey to wherever here was, he wasn’t entirely sure on that one. He along with Olly had been herded into a holding cell along with five others before, one by one they were called out. Their heads were shaved, and they were given their new prison attire. Which consisted of a single jumpsuit with their number on the front and back. The clothes that they had been wearing before the inmates capture, along with anything else they had on them, were thrown straight into the incinerator, once they had left the holding cell. He remembered how he had tried to break back into the room to retrieve his belongings and escape after they threw his possessions away, which had achieved nothing other than cause him to receive his first beating.

Martin was brought out of his recollections by the sound of Coltan Abraham, the prison warden. A muscular man with a handlebar moustache. The man, like so many of the other guards was known to have a quick temper, but fortunately for the inmates, Colton rarely stepped foot out of his office, where he spent all day in talks with whoever was the real person in charge of this hellhole. As the muscular man stood at the entrance to the security room, that stood between the cell block and prison proper. A large set of steel doors stood behind them, to be used to trap all inmates inside their block in the case of a riot.

“Halt.” Colton said, as if he was addressing nothing more than cattle, heading to the slaughter, there was a temptation to groan at this, although none did as the act of groaning in the presence of this man was almost certainly a one-way ticket to get sent below, where once you were down there, you never came back up. As the group of inmates halted as Colton looked down the line of inmates. “Inmate 274 step out of line.” The warden said as his eyes fixed on one of the inmates, a thin fifteen-year-old who Martin knew as Edgar Woods, stepped out of line looking nervous at Colton who gave a smile that did not reach his grey eyes. “Congratulations my lad, you’ve graduated from this institute, if you would follow me, we’ll get you set up and ready to leave.”

Edgar looking slightly more relieved than he had done a second ago, the fear of not being sent below made him practically giddy as he followed Colton down the corridor and towards a flight of stairs. Martin on the other hand felt differently, whilst not being sent below was a good thing by any account, graduating seemed not that much better. As there were rumours of what happened when you left this place.

This brief pause was ended when the guard bellowed at his remaining eleven inmates to continue or face punishment. Which they promptly did. Heading towards a large canteen area where other inmates had already arrived. As they walked Martin realised that now that Edger was gone, he was now the official old timer at this hell hole, knowing that his time to graduate would soon be upon him.

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