~~I had such a lovely day today. Everyone at the camp had missed me so much that my efficient friends welcomed me back with a friendly whipping to get straight back to the point we left off. I don’t care about that, they’re all scum anyway and it’s what I expected. I was more touched by the spectacular turnout. Roebai’s back, yay, let’s go and watch him take a whipping to celebrate, being the general feel.
Well, okay, I don’t think everyone who came to watch was there out of spite. Naturally there were those pathetic girls who realised this was the best chance they’re ever likely to get of seeing me topless. Vinn obviously came to enjoy the show.
It hurt. Hurt bad. I’m used to that. Casper didn’t come. Neither did Anna. I respect that. Her hatred I can cope with. At least she’s blunt enough that I know exactly where I stand. I can’t pretend I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. Her hatred annoys me less too. These people are all cowards, they wouldn’t dare come taunt me to my face but they’re quick enough to come watch me suffer. They laugh when I’m vulnerable then, bet you by tomorrow they’ll have remembered their manners when I’m storming about looking for something to hit. She’s not like that, she goes ahead and says whatever she likes. The difference is that she has the decency to give me a fair chance. Now I’m at my weakest, she’s not here to take advantage of that. That surprises me. I expected her to strike lower given the chance.
After all these years, they still think that they can use punishment to humiliate me. Nineteen years in the camp and their tactics haven’t changed one bit. As I walk up the steps to the platform the familiar taunting starts. What’s the point- I know the lines off by heart. By now I go up onto the stage well familiar with the script. It doesn’t bother me that much, if anything I find it weirdly funny watching these big, tough guards needing a teenager (chained up so as to be less dangerous) to pick on. And a tiny bit disappointed they never come up with anything remotely original.
When I reach the top step, where everyone can see me, one of the men escorting me on either side tries to trip me up. It nearly worked the first time. This, though, is about my fiftieth public whipping. I know it’s coming and I kick the unlucky idiot in the shin every time. Probably, at some point, someone with a bit of sense has suggested allowing a measure of improvisation but around here there’s a standard procedure for everything.
Then I get pushed into the middle and there’s some more taunting and a speech. The speech that makes a hundred or so workers forget who’s the enemy and cheer like brainwashed efficient. On this particular occasion, Vinn takes the lead in the applause, even starting a wave of stomping. For him this is the celebration of a life time. Right before someone pops open a bottle of bubbly and produce the party poppers, I get shoved down to my knees. A further jolt and my knees give way, landing me on my stomach.
The whipping comes and goes. I must be an easy job for the discipliner, I have these red lines on my back to show him where the strikes go. Afterwards it’s always Erin who runs up to me. She helps me down, keeps the crowds back with her usual ferocity and dresses my wounds. It makes me so guilty that I can’t give her what she wants. Sometimes Casper comes and helps me in more or less the same way. I try to encourage him to be the one to wipe my bleeding back, I don’t think it does Erin any good.
Of course, Erin fiercely protecting me today winds Vinn right up. After what I did to him, he’s more amazed than ever that she could chose me over him. Enjoying myself rather a bit too much, I wink over at Vinn as Erin takes my hand tenderly. As she helps me to my feet I look at her affectionately but wipe it away as soon as I realise what I’m doing. Hating Vinn is fine but it’s wrong to use Erin like this. It’s not worth hurting her to get to him. Besides, I’ve proven I don’t need Erin to hurt Vinn.
He scowls at me the whole way down the steps. I try to push Erin off gently, I always try to be defiant and this time I’m probably the angriest ever.
She clings to me and says, “I know you don’t need me to support you, but I need you to support me.” I think it bothers me even more than Vinn that she goes for me. She could get so many better guys, why does she have to go for the one, the only one, she can’t have even when I’m clearly the worst choice. Literally anybody would be better for her, except Vinn of course.
“Hey Babe, what you doing with that pyscho? You saw what he did to me.” I accidently laugh out loud. This is not a great time to provoke him but I can’t help it. I mean, the one reason he gives for Erin not to love me is the one and only reason I could think of why she would. Beating Vinn was my first and last good deed. All society’s ever given me is rubbish and I still did it a favour.
“Vinn, I’m very sorry about your face. I know it’s hard for you not being pretty anymore when you’ve never had a single likeable personal quality but if you don’t get over it soon I’ll be very tempted to smash your face all over again myself.” That’s my girl. Except she’s not my girl, is she? The quicker I get that straight, the less either of us are going to suffer.
She didn’t need to carry out her threat to make the situation any worse. She’d embarrassed him. She’d made him look like an idiot in front of an awful lot of people. Throwing her out the way (because that makes him look a whole lot better), he lunges towards me.
“Don’t start a fight you know you can’t win.” I shouldn’t have said that. Why does the irresistibly satisfying thing to say always make things so much worse? He sinks his teeth into my arm, as if behaving like an animal is the way to keep his dignity, and would have kicked me in the stomach if I hadn’t grabbed him by the neck and pulled him through the parting spectators. Right in the middle, where everyone can see him cry, just as they wanted to watch me cry (and fat chance of that) I kick him hard. I doubt he’ll be having any children ever. That’s another favour society owes me. For such an unpleasant person, I have managed my share of good deeds lately.
“Vinn, try to be less clumsy in future. First you accidently break your face on my fist and now you’ve gone and broken your balls on my knee.” He growls at me, sticking with the mindless animal act. Well, in actual fact, it’s not an act it’s simply what he’s become. I understand the growl, there’s something to be proud of in being an imbecile, like he’s saying look at me, I’m too hard to put together a sentence.
This outburst has unsettled the violent crowd. They’re all somehow taking sides on an issue they don’t understand. Eventually a big bloke with a scared cheek pulled me off Vinn, whose neck was still looking very breakable in my fist, and that was the perfect excuse for some pushing and shoving elsewhere. It didn’t take long for a full scale fight to break out. There weren’t sides as such, rather a chaos the majority clearly found comfortable. I was pleased to see the concern on the guards faces. They could have dealt with me in and Vinn as soon as they’d felt any desire to but this mob was beyond their control.
The violence grew increasingly wild. It was as though, about three minutes in, it suddenly dawned on everyone that there weren’t actually any rules. All at once the clawing, scratching and biting intensified the fight.
Me and Erin slipped out quietly. I can be aggressive but that was pointless. I was happy to leave the morons to destroy each other to keep themselves amused. I have better things to do, namely cleaning my back and avoiding infection. In this grimy heap of filth that’s not the easiest job. Still, it’s a job Erin never begrudges even after a few days have gone by and the bandage changes become even more of a pussy mess.