Inmate 400

The Chasm is a secret prison, one that few people know of, and one that nobody has escaped from. Where Anarchy is King and there is no Law, the Chasm is run by bandits and muderers. Convicted for a crime he didn't commit, Inmate 400 is branded as a traitor and threat to the Duke of Gariton, and thrown in the Chasm. Forced to survive in a world of madmen, he learns things that pushes him to the edge of sanity, and knows that escape is the only cure.

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3. Life in the Chasm

The clash of metal. A laugh. The booming of a cannon. The sweet smell of perfume. A sharp pain. The piercing cry of---I woke with a start. The stone floor below me brought me back round to my present state, and once again, the safety of my dreams was blown away on a wind that nobody could see. For several nights, I had been with Cleave and his gang, and more and more often I was having dreams, telling me more about myself in the most infuriatingly roundabout way possible. I still don't know what is going on, but I know that I need to remember as much of it as I can. Nobody in the Chasm truly knows who they are, thanks to some sick kind of punishment handed out by the Guards before they chuck their prisoners into the hole, but everyone has flashbacks. 344 could remember poems and songs, and performing in front of people, but little else. Nobody knew why they were down here, or what their crimes had been. The brand on my chest, however, told me all I needed to know.

Knowing sleep was futile, I joined 317 on watch. She barely glanced at me as I shuffled up nex to her. "Anything else?" she asked. I shook my head, the fragments of memoires gone once again. I knew better than to chase them. It was an infuriatingly tiring task. "Don't worry, 400. You don't need your old life. You're in the Chasm, and you've got to survive. That's all you need to remember now." Once again, I nodded, feeling like a small child being told what to do. But I didn't care. I still felt raw and exposed, completely new to this world. The others had been here for a while. Cleave was 298, and as such knew more than enough about how to survive. Even the other two had been here for a number of years. Having scraped through a few days, even though one could never tell in the eternal darkness, I felt like an imposter.

"Hold on. What is that over there" 317 whispered through clenched teeth. I followed her gaze and saw the flickering lights of torches approaching us. "Oh no...only one man would be that loud down here. Wake the others, quitely. We need to move." As I did this, I realised what she meant. The procession was loud, full of men and women laughing and joking. In a world where anyone could be your worst enemy, only those who know they are the most feared have the confidence to announce their presence to the world.

I woke the others, and 317 came padding over to our makeshift camp. "It has to be Reaper. We need to move now." Everyone immediately started packing up camp and wiping it's existence clean from the floor, and I knew now was not the time to ask questions. Within minutes, we were packed and ready to move, following Cleave as he gracefully weaved in and out of the stone buildings, up the hill to where I first woke up. The torches from Reaper and his gang were giving off too much light for our shadows not to be seen, but we carried on regardless. My heart was hammering in my chest, sweat was cascading down my face and back, and the rush of impending battle was creeping up on me. It seemed familiar, somehow, almost comforting, as if I---

I fell, tripping over a jutting rock and calling out. Seconds later, I heard the pursuit of those behind us. As I looked up to tell the others to run, I realised that they already had. No friends in the Chasm, they had said. At least they were true to their word.

The posse behind me soon caught up, wooping and hollering like a hunting party, gathering around me, closing in for the kill. The torches were blinding in their sconces, the light an all too new torture for my deprived eyes. Their leader, a short, bald man with tattoos snaking over his body, moved forward to inspect me.

"Well, well, well. We got ourselves some fresh meat!" This phrase was warmly received by the group, which contained maybe a dozen men and women. "And looky here! He's got himself a nice tattoo!" With this, he punched my chest, the recently scabbed wound breaking open all too easily, the pain coming back in floods. "Some big shot bad-boy who tried to kill our Duke! Now, that 'aint nice, is it boy? We don't go killin' our betters now, do we?" The crowd was laughing at this.

"Reaper?" was all I managed, and semed to just make the laughing increase.

"Na I 'aint Reaper. But I run with him. The names Cannibal, son. You must be new" I knew better than to ask him what his name meant. It was pretty obvious. I would die here, and nobody would know. "Ooh, 400? Well thats nice to know we broke that little milestone! You really are new! You're gunna taste good, boy." He drew a wicked curving knife from his belt, and the crowd closed in around me. That all-too familiar adrenaline-rush came back to me, and from experience I didn't know that I had, I reacted.

Cannibal was the first to fall, me jamming his knife into his throat in one fluid movement. This had stunned everyone into shock, and I reacted first, pulling the knife free of him and dispatching another two men before anyone attacked me. After that, it was a bloodbath. I knew what was going to happen before anynoe else did, knew how to kill a man in one fluid flick of the wrist, knew how they would attack and who to take down first. It was an art, and I was the master. Nobody was safe, even when they charged in numbers. Within minutes, I was stood,gasping for air, covered in blood and standing in a circle of corpses. The knife in my hand felt like a part of my arm, and the sights of death and battle brought back into me a sense of uneasiness. How on earth did I do this?

After an age, I wiped the blade clean and moved a few hundred metres away from the bodies. As I was throwing up, I heard the soft patter of footsteps behind me, and knew Cleave and the crew had returned. "400?" 317 asked, placing a comforting hand on my back. "How did you do that? What did you...How?"

"I don't know. I just did it." was all I could muster. I could hear Cleave and 344 looting the bodies behind us, but didn't care. Like they said, survival was key. I sat down, surveying the scene, almost unbelieving I was capable of such feats, but knowing, somehow, that it was me. Somehow, I was trained to do this. In my old life, this was what I was capable of. I just wished I knew why.

"I'm sorry...for leaving you." I didn't know if 317 was genuinely sorry, or just scared for her life, but I didn't begrudge her using my situation to get away. They obviously hadn't ogne far, and had come back, and that was good enough for me. "It's fine. I would have done the same" I replied, perhaps using more venom than I intended.

"Cannibal was a good friend of Reaper's, you know. They'll come after you."

"Let them. I can obviously dispose of men well enough."

"Maybe too well. He'll hear of this, somehow. And they'll link it to you. Reaper knows everything that goes on in here. This Chasm is his Kingdom, and he rules with an iron fist."

"Well maybe its about time to change that. I wasn't going to let them eat me. I'm sorry if Reaper is upset by that, but if he wants to, he can come and get me himself. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to throw up again."

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