Time is a concept we create to keep ourselves sane. That fact is the one thing that I’m fully certain of. I run my fingers along the jagged cellar wall, feeling the coarsely carved lines created by the ones before me, keeping track of their imprisonment. I don’t bother to remember the days. How long has it been? A month? A year?
The nights are always the worst. The stone walls radiate winter-like coldness and the damp air seems to weigh down on me more than usual. The night is when I see them; faceless bodies, nothing but hollow shells of the people they once were. And just like a hoard of banshees, they constantly, endlessly scream.
They wail and shriek, cursing my name as they reach to claw at my eyes. They ask me what their names were, who they were, as if they themselves don’t know. The questions turn to demands at sunrise; their pleas drifting in the air as they disappear at the first caress of the waking sun’s rays.
I used to try and remember them. I used to try to put a face to a name. A voice to a dismembered body. I realise now that I will never know who my victims were. As I took their life, one by one, body after body, I never bothered to truly see them. They were nothing but cattle to me, ready to be slaughtered.
I’m forever haunted by my own vices. I knew they were untameable; vicious and sadistic, uncontrollable desires for bloody violence and pain. I thought I could keep them on a leash, secured and controlled. However, I was wrong, they ate away at my very soul, leaving behind the scorched version of a human you see before you. These vices became all I knew, all I wanted, all I had. They took control, and now they will haunt me, tearing me apart limb from limb; rather ironic, don’t you think?
My eyes drift to the right corner of the stone cage, the corner not yet touched by the burning light. A girl. A little girl grips the hem of her dress, her physique slowly becoming more and more transparent as the day prepares to drag her back into the realm of the dead. I can’t make out her face even if I try. It’s smudged and swirling with colours, just like a child’s drawing you hang up on your fridge.
‘Who am I?’
My head rolls back and I wince slightly at the harshness of the stone. She is a victim. My victim. I squeeze my eyes and try to dig deep into my memories. I want to remember her name, her family, anything that makes her different from the others. But I can’t. ‘You’re not here,’ I tell myself, ‘not anymore. So why does it matter?’ I’m met with cold dead silence. The girl is gone.
The chain on the metal door rattles and it swings open with a groan of protest. A young man in uniform tosses me a red apple, as crimson as blood. ‘Here,’ he starts, ‘Your last meal.’ He leaves. And I am alone again.
It’s just me, the ruby apple, the tight cuffs around my hands, and a cold cellar.
Illustrated by Addison Possami (Year 8)