The Wild Ones

First place winner of the september crime competition. Peter and Mary, just two people out of the millions that dwell in an overpopulated, overly controlled city. Forced daily to escape arrest just for the crime of wanting to be free. When a city is dying, from pollution and drought, why fight to stay alive when everyone and everything wants you dead? The stubbornness of mankind is our greatest weakness, and our most powerful asset.

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3. Capture

"We caught two more sir."

"Good, put him with the other one, give me the girl."

"Sir?"

"Don't question me! Put him in room 3B."

A clicking of shoes on polished floor sounded the acceptance of the man. A hand grabbed Peter arms firmly and directed him along a corridor, the blindfold still blocking all view. Standard questions like, where am I? And who are these people need not be asked, Peter knew all too well where he was and who these people were. He could feel a warm liquid slipping down his face, blood presumably, caused by the struggle and the various sly hits on the way to this place. Peters thoughts rested on the location of his partner Mary, he was surprised by how much he was worried, he was trained not to, he was meant not to. Personal relationships were frowned upon in his style of life, if you get attached you will become broken, dead, they had told him. They were wrong, he thought, I've never felt more alive.

The squeaking of shoes stopped, the blindfold was removed, a blinding light scorched his eyes as a sharp stick stabbed him between his shoulder blades, causing him to topple forwards, hitting his face off the ground, his hands tided behind his back not allowing him to cushion his fall. A sharp metal twang from behind him signaled his conclusion. He was trapped. No escape.

He spat on the ground, a rich crimson liquid blemished the pure white floor. Peter rolled onto his back and opened his eyes, pure white. Am i dead? He thought, If this is what it's like then my fighting has been for very little. A shadow crept across his face, a silhouette of a man standing over him, another captive.

"You're a lucky man boet, being here with me yah? I'm going to open your eyes." The silhouette said, his accent unrecognizable, it had a foreign twang to it that Peter had not heard before. "Let me pick you up eh, don't struggle you hear? I'm your best friend in a place like this."

Peter didn't struggle, the man picked him onto his feet and leant him against another equally white wall. "The lights keep us awake, they never let us sleep. They trying to break us, to mash up our minds so we'll become easier to talk, let things slip out." The man stepped back, revealing himself, "People call me Toptom, its a pleasure."

"Who calls you that?" Peter replied, only realizing now the pain in his nose while he shook the man's outstretched hand firmly, the man reached in and hugged him, patting him on the back.

"I do, and that's all that matters," Toptom said stepping back running his hand through his long wavy brown hair, "Don't need no man to call me anything else, I know who i am yah?"

"I guess."

 "What do you call you?" He asked, squatting on the white tiled floor.

"Peter."

"Peter?" He laughed, "Such a simple name, I earned my name, over in South Africa, the free world."

Peter gazed at the man's tanned face and cool expression, who is this guy? Free world? "They're people still alive in Africa? I thought the Empyrean took care of them all."

Toptom seemed offended, "That's North Africa, that place is a wasteland, mile upon mile of mine fields and sentries wandering the deserts, picking off anything that moves yah? You know? No, South Africa is still alive, dying, but alive. They picked me up in Tanzania, jumping the boarder. I got lazy. Seemed you did too." He leant back against the wall, stretched out and stared at the ceiling. "You know what they'll do to us here?"

"I know what they'll do to us here."

"Good," he continued, more serious now, "I don't need to tell you to shut the fuck up then boet, the less you say the longer they keep you and the longer you stay alive. You must know things, or else they would have killed you already. I know things, damaging things, things they want to know. I was in the army see, I did my time. torture is no fear for me, I have something, someone, precious waiting for me in the afterlife. But those gates are not yet ready for you, so stay strong!"

"Abandon all hope ye who enter here." Peter scoffed, liking this man more and more.

"The very same," Toptom breathed deeply, "Keep reminding yourself that worse is waiting and maybe you might enjoy this place. Each breath we take is a spit in the face of the Empyrean. Keep your mouth shut, and maybe, fate will show us the righteous path. Perhaps."

"That's what you believe? The whole world is dying around us and you are still holding out for miracles?"

"It's not what I believe, it's what I've witnessed. When you see a new born boy, handed to you from the womb of a women you didn't even know, right there in the middle of a fire-fight, and you look into his eyes and see a sense of hope, a sense of life. That my friend, is a miracle. Your lady friend, she must care for you. I heard them talking. Make it out of here, tell her you love her, look into her eyes, and there you'll find a miracle too." Toptom closed his eyes, "They're everywhere you hear? You just need to look, eyes open."

Do i love her? Can such a thing exist here? Peter looked at the man's calm face, we will see. Peter closed his eyes too, warn out, spent. The lights stopped any possibility of sleep, so instead he pictured her face, and felt better because of it, and together they waited. Waited for that clicking of steel. The waiting was the worst.


 

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