Drugs of Propaganda
Martin sits at the end of a long wooden table looking down, staring at what this prison tried to pass of as food. A grey slush of some revolting creature, despite both the look, smell and taste, in fact just everything about the revolting meal. It was highly advised that the inmates eat it, as they need all of their strength to endure what the day ahead at this institute had in store for them. A lesson that Martin had learned within the first few days of being here. Not only were there physical punishments for not eating. He quickly realised that this filth was all they would get until dark.
He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of a shout from across the canteen, he looked up from his morning meal and saw a small boy, he guessed that the kid was even younger than he was, proceed to throw his plate down on the ground in front of one of the guards. Martin groaned at this, knowing what was going to come next, and sure enough it happened.
“Poor sod.” Martin said under his breath, thinking that the boy must be a recent arrival, as the guard took out his stick and proceed to beat the kid to within an inch of his life, soon the ground was covered red in the kid’s blood. After a few minutes of this amassment the guard, clearly getting bored at beating his young victim, called for one of his companions to take the now unconscious boy back to his cell, announcing loudly to the room that the boy would be remaining there unfed for the next forty-eight hours. It was a simple tactic, but a brutal one that the entire canteen got, making the kid an example of what would happen whilst the boy was dragged out of the room by the guard’s companion like a rag doll. After this recent display of who was in charge around here Olly Stacks then walks up to join Martin as one of the guards walks past.
“That wasn’t pretty, aye.” Olly said, looking over Martin’s shoulder to see that the guards were leaving the blood on the ground as a further reminder of the price of defiance.
“No.” Martin responded simply continuing to stare down at his plate, with a lot less joviality in his voice than Olly had, purely because he could sympathise with the poor sod, as he had once been that kid. He sighed before continuing. “But he’ll learn. They all do eventually.” In a resigned tone looking down at his at the grey filth and starting to eat it. It tasted about as well as it looked, perhaps a little worse in fact, but it was better than going hungry for the rest of the day.
“All apart from you, Sparky.” Olly said, trying to cheer Martin up. “How many times did it take you to learn.” He finished as he to begin to eat, albeit with even less enthusiasm than Martin had shown for the task.
“I haven’t learnt.” Martin said, remembering the incident this morning, despite himself, a small smile crept onto his face at the thought, knowing that his older brothers would have done the same in his situation.
“Exactly.” Olly responded. “It’s all about sticking it to the man, am I right.” Unlike Martin, Olly saw this as a positive. He too had received his fair share of punishments at this place, although compared to his friend, he had gotten off a lot more lightly.
Martin nods, but the glum expression had returned. “Yes. Problem with that philosophy though, is that sticking it to the man, tends to hurt when you get caught.” Martin finishes glumly, he was proof of that, something that even the guards would agree upon by the sight of him. It was rumoured that he had acquired a nickname from the guard as well as his friend. They apparently referred to him as ‘Har krorn backar’, when speaking barter, translated into imperial meaning ‘The meat sack' or when the guards wanted to be simpler in their thoughts, they’d refer to him as, ‘The punching bag’. If truth were told, he didn’t know which one he hated more, this, or ‘Sparky’. He guessed the name that his friend had given him, because at least there was no malice in it, and was designed to try and lift his spirits after getting another jab by the electro rods.
Olly was silent for a moment staring around the room for something else to talk about. Martin wished he would hurry up and start talking again, as he had realised that being able to talk about anything, would distract him from thinking about what the days at the prison has in store for them. It wasn’t even physical labour that they were forced to do, no that would be too easy. Every day their minds would be assaulted. The problem was that there was very little to talk about nowadays, with both of them having been in this place for almost eight months had the effect of using up all their small talk.
Whilst Martin was deep in thought, he didn’t see the guard walk up to the table and only realised he was there when the guard knocked over his plate, which crashed against the metal floor, spilling its contents everywhere and attracting the attention of several onlookers, all turned away as Layton Dickinson looked up at them, but as the guard turned back to his prey, Martin noticed that a girl, Jeanie Quincy that Martin assumed was new here, continued to stare over at them. However, for both Martin and Olly they had other problems than potential onlookers, the pair look up at the guard. Layton stands above them glowering down at the two boys with an evil smirk on his face.
It was fair to say that Martin and Layton, had not got off to a good start. With the former punching the latter in the stomach within his first few days of arrival, after he had witnessed the guards trying to drag another inmate bellow, for some act of defiance that he couldn’t properly remember now. Gods he had been stupid back then as he did, however, remember the retaliation that had followed his actions, it had ended in Martin getting electrocuted so badly that his heart had almost stopped and then being confined to his cell without food for two days, that was when he had properly learned not to scoff at the disgusting stuff that this place tried to pass off as food. Since then, Layton was always on the lookout for new ways to punish the boys in whatever petty way he could. It was this guard that had administered most of their punishments, mainly because he had been closest to the perceived crime.
There were some guards who Martin could tell, would try to avoid punishing them, although they seemed to be fewer and fewer these days. There were some that simply did as they were told, without much care in the task, but also no sympathy either. Then there were the guards like Layton, who actively enjoyed it and would seek it out on a regular basis.
“Well, aren’t you going to finish your food.” Layton said leering down at Martin, he knew that he was soon about to be in some real trouble with this man, and deciding to just try and keep his cool, he kept his attitude under control.
“Yes, sir.” Martin said although he said it between clenched teeth as he kneels down and begins putting the sludge back onto the still intact plate. However, Layton’s next words put pay to the idea that it was ever going to be that easy, for the sociopath glared down at him with a wide grin on his face.
“No, no young Wolfrick.” Layton said, his smile growing on his face. Martin did not fail to notice the use of his last name at least. But in this case, and specifically with this man using it, he would’ve rather been referred to by his inmate number. “You’ll eat of the ground, like the wild dog your name says that you are.” Layton said, still smiling like a sociopath, at this dilemma that he thought he had forced the boy into.
Martin looked up at Layton weighing the odds. If he refused, he would likely be giving this piece of human filth an excuse to lay into him, just as he suspected the man wanted to do. But, he thought, he would take that any day of the year, rather than to go along with this man’s sick demands and eat off the ground like a dog. Coming to his decision, Martin opened his mouth to refuse, whilst at the same time mentally preparing himself for the inevitable retaliation that was to come from said refusal, when a noise comes from the doorway.
“Inmates will line up against the wall!” Bellowed another guard who had been assigned to the canteen this morning, despite this one being a woman, she was almost as bad as Layton, although luckily Martin had had little contact with the woman in his time here.
Martin quietly sighed with relief. ‘Saved by the bell’, he thought mockingly to himself before getting up and walking over towards the wall of the canteen facing the open double doors along with the other fifty or so other inmates, not failing to notice the look on Layton’s face, the look of a child that has just had his favourite plaything taken away.
“Inmates will head towards room fifty-three, get moving.” The guard said, as she observed the ragged line of inmates.
The Inmates solemnly walk out of the canteen and down the corridor where they are shepherded by other guards for a few minutes before arriving at room fifty-three.
Room fifty-three was a large room with five rows of desks with thirteen chairs per row. Facing a large sixty-inch television screen stood on the wall facing the rows of tables and chairs. Martin takes his usual place on the third row in the centre and sits like the others still waiting, whilst watching the other inmates out of the corner of his eye. Noticing Jeanie, the new girl who had been watching his encounter with Layton, sitting right next to him, in Edgar’s now empty seat.
Before he could talk to the new girl. Dr Larry Faulkner, a tall middle-aged man with dyed white hair and a black goatee. Enters the room and looks around at the inmates a demented smile on his thin face, walking behind him were two guards, his muscle, who would do anything that his mad scientist instructed, in his hand was a large syringe, filled with light blue liquid. He smiles at the inmates; you reluctantly smile back at him.
“Smile.” Martin said to the new girl, though his teeth. He noticed the doctor scanning the room and wanted to make sure that the new girl wasn’t caught.
“Why?” Jeanie asked, wondering why everyone was doing what this obvious psychopath wanted.
“Trust me, you want to know what he does to people who disobey him.” Martin replied, this was enough for the new girl to quickly smile at the doctor. Who seemingly now satisfied moved towards the back of the room. He had heard stories about the doctor, and all of them terrified him. Whilst he seemed nice and friendly, he was in fact the worst of the worst, people like Layton were obvious red flags to be avoided, but the doctor was equally as cruel to people.
Dr Larry then moves from the back of the room to the front injecting the drug into the back of each child’s neck. Which had the effect of completely immobilising the subject without impleading their senses or breathing ability. Martin turns to see Jeanie attempt to refuse to take the drug, which only resulted in the guards holding her in place and lifting her brown hair up whilst the drug was injected anyway. At least the girl hadn’t needed the straps as he had done on his first video screening, he thought to himself as Dr Larry then moves behind him, smiling a cold smile that didn’t in anyway reach his cold black eyes.
“Now then Inmate 346, please sit forward for a moment and do not move.” Dr Larry says with such a calm voice, almost sing-song in a way that would usually trick most of the newer inmates into thinking that this was a request. However, Martin did not need the tone of voice to convince him, both after having watched them inject the girl next to him without her consent and his own personal experiences inside this room, Martin new that it wasn’t a request in the slightest and that they were going to inject him no matter what he did or said. So, accepting the inevitable, Martin takes one last breath before leaning his head forward presenting the back of his neck to the doctor, his time here had resulted in that part of his neck being almost covered with puncture marks from the needles. This however, seemed of little concern to the doctor as he promptly injects Martin with the drug.
A feeling as if ice was being poured though his veins engulf Martin’s concision, he could still see the doctor as he cross’s his line of sight, along with hearing his footsteps. But he could no longer move anything else, his joints had been frozen over, by whatever the drug was, he guessed it was what they had hit him with when he was first caught but he wasn’t sure on that fact.
As the doctor finishes his rounds of the inmates, that now resembled nothing more than statues, he nods to one of the guards.
“Enjoy the film.” Dr Larry said to his very literal captive audience before he exits the room, closing the door behind him. The guard looks around at the room, that was effectively full of statues before turning on the television and exits the room himself. Not needing to lock the door behind him, as the audience was not going to go anywhere for the duration. As the screen flickers on, a female voice begins to speak from the screen.
“Welcome to the new world order. A peaceful world under the benevolent Shadow. Your ruler loves you all, so long as you all do your duty to him. He has brought peace to this war-torn and broken land and made it whole once more. And yet there are still those who defy his almighty will. It is your job to root out resistance groups and continue to make this land into a more peaceful and united place.”
As the film continues to play, the female voice continues to drone on for another hour as images of people building a utopian society play as the narrator talks about the ‘New World Order’, whilst images of destruction play as the woman talks about the resistance. As the film continues on, and despite his own brain telling him otherwise, Martin slowly starts to accept what the narrator was telling him, he unsure whether it is the drug doing this, or just the film doing it instead, or most likely a combination of the two.
Only his brain remains to remind him about the lies that this piece of propaganda is telling him. About the lies it was telling him about his family and friends on the outside, wherever they may be at this moment in time. It was all he had to remember the world that he had been taken from and the only thing that kept him going throughout the entire ordeal of the film.
After an hour or so, the film stops and the drug that each was injected with, begin to lose their effects. To the point that the inmates can at least begin to move about the room, albeit slowly. Before any of them, however, could get enough energy to perhaps think about making a run for it. A guard then enters the room and address’s the inmates.
“Inmates will leave the room and proceed to the yard area.” The guard said. this was not met with the same groans as usual, partly due to the fact that the drug was still in their systems, making effective resistance an impossibility. But mostly because the fresh air did them the world of good after being subjected to the drug. And so, the group filed out of the room more slowly than they would usually walk as they head towards the only outdoor area of the prison.