The weird thing about losing any reference of time was that I immediately tried finding new ways to track the passage of time. I decided that every time I woke up it would be a new day and that the man who throw yellow slop came at midday, things were just easier that way. Using that template as my reference for time passage, seven days passed by.
I honestly wasn’t sure what I was expecting from my situation, but for that entire week nothing happened to me personally. A man would come and feed everyone in the cells with the yellow slop by throwing it at us. That was all that had happened to me so far, having food slops thrown at me once a day. I knew that at any time that could change, I had seen and heard what could happen to anyone who was in these cells many times in the last week. The woman who was in the cell next to me was raped twice, the man in the cell directly across from mine was beaten until he started vomiting blood, and the girl in the cell beside his was forced to eat a severed hand one day, and those were just the things I had seen myself . The whole time I had no idea what anyone was saying, but the screaming and crying told me enough.
I watched from inside the bars of my little cell at the end of my row with a mix of horror and paranoia as men came and basically just tortured the people around me every day, every time one of the men stopped at a cell that wasn’t mine I felt relieved and then immediately guilty at my relief. The men who all wore some combination of blue shirt and loose pants would come down every day, they would talk amongst themselves, laugh a bit, then they would usually go there seperate ways and pick a cell. Whoever was in the cells they decided on ended up being their victims for the day, they might be raped, beaten, forced to eat something horrifying, or otherwise harmed and humiliated in a variety of ways that I have yet to see but could sometimes hear. The sizzling sound and the smell of cooking meat that accompanied screams sometimes disturbed me the most out of everything else, I could easily imagine that those men in blue were burning someone alive.
The only thing that I was sure about was that eventually my turn would come, and that thought absolutely terrified me. I couldn’t even ask why or plead to be let out because no one understood me and the men in blue either ignored whatever I said or responded in their own language with laughter. I got very familiar with my own thoughts and voice during that time, they were the only things I could use to try drowning out the noises during the day after all. I thought I sounded nice enough, and at night when most of the people around me I took up singing whatever songs I could remember.
It was also at night when I learned that people could break, last night a woman in clothes much like the men who served as both keeper and torturer during the day only with a green shift instead of a blue shirt put out all the torches plunging everything into darkness. That was when I heard a person break, it started with two frantic and loud voices coming from the cells across from me. Then there was just one voice, then the voice turned into crying, then to laughter, then back to hiccupping and crying, then even louder laughter, then finally silence. I didn’t sleep at all last night, and when the torches were lit by another woman in green today the girl in one of the cells in the row across from mine who I remembered being forced to eat a severed hand two days ago had strange eyes and would just start giggling and talking to herself randomly. When the woman in the cell next to me saw the girl she started trembling, crouched down and hugged her head, started sobbing, then she started to laugh. It was then when I noticed how similar she and the girl looked to each other, similar enough that they were probably related to each other.
When a man came with the midday slop, he stopped and looked at the two then said something I didn’t understand and walked away. He came back a little while later with some other men, and while those other men put black collars around the necks of the woman and girl I had yellow slop land in front of me. I watched as the both the woman and girl were unchained then lead out of their cells and out of my sight, I decided that I didn’t want to eat after that.
“Why is it getting harder to remember songs? I don’t even think I remember the national anthem anymore…” I fidgeted with my hair in nervousness as I tried to think of the lyrics to any song, nothing came to mind besides a few melodies though. Maybe they really are drugging the slop with something, not that I have any choice other than eating it if I don’t want to starve. I looked up and noticed the people in the cells nearby looking at me with cautious anticipation, my nights of singing had been getting an audience for the last few days. The down side to this was it was getting harder to judge when my night actually started when no one in the cells around me would try to sleep until I sang, though I guess that didn’t really matter since night could just as easily be whenever I decide to sleep in this cell as when they begin to. “I guess I could just sing a few melodies without words, but then that sort of defeats the purpose.”
I had started singing for a few reasons, not the least of which was that I thought it could help me remember a few more memories about who I was. It hadn’t helped yet, and now, given how I seemed to be losing more memories as more time went on, I doubted it would. “At this point I would just be singing for singings sake…”
I thought deeply for a moment, searching my few memories for any lyrics to a song I could use. I didn’t find anything other than ideas and knowledge I guess I must have picked up in a school, or a college, or maybe both. How little I knew or could remember about myself had stopped scaring me, at this point it was more frustrating than anything else. What was the point of math, science, or knowing how to cook a few things when I couldn’t even remember what my name was or if I had a family who was worried about me? Hell what was the point of knowing who I was when I’m chained up in a cell that’s who knows where? I couldn’t tell anymore, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted my memories back anymore either. I wasn't even sure if I was even supposed to care, or if it mattered if I did or not anymore.
It was hard to mourn or miss something I didn’t even remember having, as I looked at the empty cell to my right then down at myself and the dirt covering my body I couldn’t bring myself to worry much over some missing memories. I had far more to worry about now, things that could be incredibly painful and were far more terrifying than some missing memories ever could be.
“Maybe just a few melodies to cheer me up before bed…” I looked out again at the people watching me with looks of anticipation. “They could use a few happy tunes too…” With a quickly flashed smile I hoped wasn't as weak looking as it felt I started to hum a soft and happy melody, as I tilted my head up I let my voice sound out in harmony with the melody resounding in my mind. I closed my eyes and let my voice carry me through the melody, I felt myself sway slightly to the rhythm of the melody and let the music take my mind far away from my cell.
For a few minutes I felt happy and safe, and when my voice began to give out and I stopped singing I noticed that the last melody continued on a little longer after I had finished it. I looked around at the people in the cells I could see, a few were keeping the melody going with their own voices. There were a few with smiles, a few with tears, and still more with those dead eyed stares I’ve come to recognize as the eyes of the broken.
I decided to go to sleep while I could still hold on to those last remnants of pleasantness the melody brought to me. I tried hard, but before I entered the blissful darkness of sleep I felt the rough straw scratch against my skin and smelled the stink from the cells enter my nose. I felt the smile fall from my face as the dark of sleep finally claimed me.