《Elysium: Diamond In The Rough》Chapter 4: Isolation

My eyes open as I begin coughing up small amounts of blood and lazily search around the room. The containers of water seem to be scattered all over the room with one seeming to be intentionally placed at the level of my mouth. Seeing this I begin to notice how thirsty I am. Like the wild animals I see out in the rough, my head plunges into the bowl and I begin gulping up the water. The dried splotches of blood on my face mix in with the water and dyes it a crimson color. Whipping my head out of the container, my brown hair flies to the back of my head, and heavy breaths make my chest rise and fall. Every deep breath reminds me of the reality of my situation as a stabbing pain shoots through my stomach.

“Okay Alex, no need to panic...nobody is here to hurt you, you can think now.” Scanning the room only confirms my original thought the first time I looked it over. Various types of containers pepper the room filled with water, the nectar of the heavens. Suddenly I whip around looking for the torture tools I’d seen the first time I had woken up and my heart fluttered when I saw them. There they were, right there sitting on the towel laid out of the table! It seemed strange that something that struck so much fear into me could give me so much hope. I guess my parents were right when they said “ It’s all about perspective.” Reaching out for tools, I’m reminded of the restraints holding my arms and legs in place. “Maybe I can scoot over and try to cut myself out?” No good. The chair’s legs seem to be bolted down to the floor, “What can I do...what can I do?” I mutter to myself. “Muttering? Shit, they took the gag out!” I begin yelling the loudest I ever have.

“HELP! SOMEONE HELP ME! ANYONE! PLEASE?!” I don’t know how long I yelled, but it had to have been hours, my voice went raspy then left all together. For some reason though, noise in this room seems...off, like the sounds don’t seem correct. I dunk my face into the basin filled with crimson liquid and take a few more sips, the water seeming to burn against my exhausted vocal chords. My attempts at speaking are met with a weak rasp of what used to be my voice and a residual burn in my throat.

With yelling no longer being an option, my eyes dart back to the various tools on the table.

“That’s it! That’s my way out of these stupid restraints and maybe this room!” I think to myself.

Flexing my arms and trying to lift up it met with a strong resistance, the leather restraint starts at my wrist and covers up a majority of my forearm.

“I don’t see me muscling my way out of something like this, and the legs restraints are similar. If I can’t bust out of these straps,maybe I can…”

Planting my feet in the ground and using my arms as a counterweight I begin pushing backwards in the chair trying to lean back.

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The veins in my muscles are visible and my breathing is heavy as I attempt to lean back again. Each attempt yields more creaking and cracking until finally the two back legs break and the sudden loss in weight distribution causes the front legs of the chair to break as well. Laying there my sense of accomplishment quickly disappears as I realize my arms are still strapped to the upper portion of the chair.

“Well at least I’m not stuck in one spot anymore…” I grumble under my breath.

Making my way over to the table of ‘Fun’ like some kind of hunchback and a multitude of awkward poses and attempts to grab some of the tools, I finally get my hand on a scalpel.

Flipping the the scalpel around in my palm, I sit down and begin the process of cutting the leather strap with all the power the movement in my fingers can offer. Millimeter by millimeter, slice by slice, the tiny incision in the leather begins to open up. After what feels like hours, a slice down the leather a couple inches long has made its debut. Crossing my legs and planting my bottom firmly in the seat, I pull my wrist up and the leather strap rips down my forearm with a loud creak and ‘ZZZHHRRUUP!’

Even though the sounds seem dulled, this was loud enough that my eyes instinctively darted around as if to confirm no one heard me. After a few minutes of not being beaten I decide that I’m most likely in the clear and all the other straps are cut away soon after. Walking around the room making sure to avoid the numerous containers of water I look for the door I heard before passing out. Vertical lines uniformly cover the walls of the room giving the distinct impression that I’m in a cube with no way out. Flipping the scalpel in my hand I put the tip of the blade on the wall and begin to walk dragging the blade across. An unpleasant sound resonates in my ears until I hear a ‘Puh-Tink’ and the scalpel dips into one of the lines slightly and pops out.

“This must be the door I heard...no door knob though. Not much of a way out.” Leaving the scalpel stuck in the crack I walk back to where the chair used to be. Looking at my reflection in the containers of water, I can see my left eye and both my cheeks were swollen. My whole face was a little fucked actually and little flecks of dried blood still remained at the corners of my mouth. Reaching down at my reflection with my index finger, the water ripples and to my surprise touches a hard surface. I squint and reach down at the vase-like object and pour out the water. Only a fraction of the amount of water I imagined a container that size could hold was actually in it.

I walk up to one of the other containers, closing my eyes as I drink from the deep looking bowl. Sooner than I expected the water stops flowing into my mouth and a realization hits me. I smash the bowl in half and the secret is revealed. While the bowl may have looked deep the actual inside of it was thick and the inside created an optical illusion once water was added to it. Dipping my finger into a handful of other containers my theory is confirmed, all these containers with the exception of the one that was originally by my chair, only hold about a mouthful of water.

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“Shit...look like I won’t be taking a bath while I’m in here. Every drop counts.” Suddenly remembering I poured out one of the containers earlier, a sense of guilt washes over me and I curse myself for my idiocy. “Well I don’t see any way out, might as well relax and brainstorm.”

Some time later, my stomach begins growling violently and I take a swig of water to chase away the growing hunger. A familiar urge hits me and I sigh, looking around as if to make sure someone didn’t magically appear, I make my way to the far corner of the room and unzip my pants. The urine splashes off the ground and warms my feet with a sense of shame.

“I need to make ‘this’ more sanitary!” My raspy voice croaks out.

At least it gives me something to keep myself busy, I grab one of the tools that seemed most fit for scraping and go to work on one of the taller vase like objects.

Laying on the ground feeling hopeless, a violent pain in my stomach puts me in the fetal position, and over time even those disappear. Empty containers are separated from ones with water and turned into waste receptacles and that seems to be my only way to pass time. Sleeping, using the ‘vase’, and making more ‘vases’ becomes my routine. I tried to exercise as much as possible, but after a while of being in the room, it became too much. Finding a reason to get up and move around other than using the bathroom was a mission itself. The light in the room never turned off, dimmed, hell it never even flickered. The room itself was a constant and the only things that ever changed were the objects inside it including myself.

The pile of empty containers vastly outnumbered the ones with water until finally I made my way to the original basin next to my chair, still tinted red with my blood. The liquid had a distinct iron taste to it until finally one of the sips I took finished it all up. I flipped the basin upside down and put it over my face and drifted off to sleep. In time a new wave of stomach cramps rattled my body and my mouth felt like sandpaper. Lazily looking around I see the scalpel still stuck in the crack of the door and with every ounce of willpower I had I hobbled over and grabbed it. Sinking down onto my knees the scalpel hanging over my wrist begins to tremble in my hand and a tears flow down my face. “That’s a waste of water.” I weakly choke out.

Just as the blade is about to go into my flesh, I feel a hand on my shoulder, stunned I look up and see my mom and dad.

“What are you doing? We raised you better than that, you’re stronger than that!” My father says in his stern voice.

“We love you Alex!” My mom says with a loving smile only a mother can produce.

I look down at the scalpel. “Mom! Dad! I thought you were de----” Looking back over my shoulder, no one was in view. “Dead...I thought you were dead.”

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Throwing the scalpel as far away from me as possible, it lands in a familiar puddle of now almost dry urine. I crawl back to my bowl and go back to sleep. All my time awake is spent trying to go back to sleep and the only thoughts that seem to find their way into my head involve water.

In a constant cycle of drifting in and out of consciousness, I hear the door open up. The soft pitter-patter of footsteps fill the room and the bowl is lifted of my face.

“Yeesh it reeks in here!” A feminine sounding voice exclaims. In my hazy vision I can make out the outline of a rabbit mask.

“Well we kept him in here a little longer than we were originally told to..” The gas-mask wearing man says as he lifts me up in both of his arms.

I clench my fist and bring it up to punch him as hard as I can, but my fist only faintly makes contact with his chest. “Easy there scrapper, we don’t want you hurting yourself.” The man says as he laughs.

“Congratulations Alex! We don’t usually give this treatment to the new recruits, but orders are orders” Rabbit almost sings out the last sentence. “We’re gonna take care of you now, we were just seeing where you were at in your head...ya know, making sure you were up to snuff. I think that’s how the saying goes.”

I begin to doze off until the man abruptly tosses me onto a bed.

“We’re gonna……..doc…...care...of...you.” Gas Mask’s voice cuts in and out as I fall back asleep.

I wake up and quickly notice a tube going into my arm, I’ve been bathed and changed, and a plate of warm food is sitting next to my bed. The Rabbit strolls into my room as I’m in the middle of wolfing down my food. “Well look who decided to wake up! Good job Alex, you passed part 1 of your Sweeper training. Enjoy your time in the infirmary while you can, you start your actual training tomorrow.” She turns around and waves as she leaves “I’ll be here bright and early! Ciao!”

“Sweeper training..” groaning “I completely forgot all about that, and THAT was just the beginning?!” A chill runs down my spine and goosebumps cover my body.

“Am I really up for this?” The question bounces around in my skull and I finish eating my food.

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