“We’re digging a new type of hole this morning,” the Camp Commandant – ahem: Mayor declares as he steps into our dormitory.
He’s shorter than I imagined, but has a booming voice. Maybe his presence is the reason we haven’t been hit yet. The Guards always break someone’s bones first thing each morning. To make us remember where we are.
As if anyone could forget.
The announcement makes us stiffen up more than usual. There are only three types of holes in this concentration camp – ahem, Reform Village: latrines, trenches and -
We’re all starting to panic. Why would we dig the third type of hole if all of us woke up?
Breakfast is the same as always: gruel. Everyone woke up, and everyone’s lining up for breakfast. Every number is called out – and answered to – when it’s time to pick up our tools.
Mine doesn’t come up for the Pedal Crew, whose job it is to foot-operate the cycles which turn the bellows that control whatever Pangolin Scales are still operational. I’ve been demoted. And my work detail’s building a new fence.
* * *
It bothers me that other prisoners will be digging the third type of hole. And I’m not relieved that I technically won’t be in the Village today, because of the uncertainty of not knowing how that hole will be filled.
The people in my new work detail are marched out to the new demarcation. An electric, barbed-wire fence: that’s what we’re putting up today. And those have to be tested.
Above all else: survive.
One of us is going to be thrown onto the wires. To see if there’s enough voltage passing through it to kill a human being.
A gunshot rings out: we all know the Camp Commandant’s pistol; it’s the only one that hisses when fired.
Someone must have looked at him funny: now there’s a body to line the bottom of the third type of hole.
“Get to work!” One of our Overseer Guards barks when the hissing bullet’s echo has dissipated. He does not have to repeat himself.
There are vehicles approaching: at first we think someone from the Government is paying us a visit. But VIPs wouldn’t come in Military trucks. And they wouldn’t step out of their vehicles to salute the Guards who challenged them.
They must be fresh recruits: transferred in their new grey uniforms to keep the Reform Village “safe”. And they’ve come bearing gifts, “for our own protection”.
Portable machine gun turrets: not automated. Robots use up too much resources – which is why we don’t even use drones for Pangolin control any more – and the experience would get the Guards ready for active duty...should they be called upon to serve the Nation.
They’re setting up more turrets outside the new fence. Pointing towards the Camp because it’s obvious who they’re meant to fire at. And I keep thinking they’ll need to test the machine guns as well.
After that damn fence.
- NEXT CHAPTER -C