Thoughts, criticisms, comments, anguishes and general non-sense are welcome.
The Bullet the Song Embraced
Two heavy guards dragged a bloody body in an orange suit through the filthy corridors. Ernesto could barely see through his swollen left eyelid. His right eye had refused to open for the last hour or so. It didn’t really matter. The little he could see was already too familiar by now. Floors that haven’t been swept in years, light bulbs flashing randomly with an incredibly annoying buzzing sound, rusty cell bars, bits and pieces of food were rotting here and there, small banquets for the many cockroaches and rodents, not to mention the mosquitoes. No ten minutes go by without hearing a slap. Most cells were overcrowded. Some had six beds for ten to twelve people. Most prisoners were ill. No-one could sleep at night, when incessant coughing filled the wards. Sometimes, Ernesto wondered if he would ever find this place normal. The thought scared him even more than the regular beatings. He hadn’t reached that stage yet, but this place had been slowly, but surely, replacing his outrage with indifference.
The guards threw him in his cell, but not before sticking a boot just below Ernesto’s ribcage. One of them made a joke, the other laughed as he locked the door. Ernesto didn’t find it funny. Even if he did, he doubted the swollen cheeks below his scruffy beard could make any motion resembling a smile. “Perhaps that is for the better” thought Ernesto. Ernesto looked around. The cell was eerily quiet. Where was Pedro? Ernesto was alone in his cell. When he came to the camp, the cell had eight other prisoners. In the last three months, they disappeared one by one. The guards just took them one day, and they never returned. Ernesto feared for the fate of Pedro. He secretly wished he was just being beaten up some more. That anytime soon, the guards would be dragging a bleeding, bruised and swollen Pedro back to his cell. But no amount of rationalization, no amount of wishful thinking kept his heart still. Deep down, Ernesto knew he was never going to see Pedro again. He tried to cry, but not a single tear formed on his eyes. He hated himself for it.
A familiar rickety sound slowly filled the ward. Ernesto dried the saliva that escaped the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand. The only meal of the day was arriving. Soon, a big trolley passed in front of his cell. If there was place filthier than the cells, it had to be the trolley car. Rust stains, unidentifiable blotches of all colours, smudges that would delight both paleontologists and pathologists, adorned the trays containing an unrecognizable porridge. A fat guard dropped Ernesto’s tray on the filthy ground, and slid it below the bars with his equally filthy boot. The guard was getting good. This time, he only spilt half. Ernesto brought the tray to his nose and inhaled deeply. He didn’t know why, but he always liked the smell of food. Even the sickeningly sweet smell of the porridge smelled like something else. It smelled like happier times. Ernesto could never explain this old habit of his, but food always smelled like home. Ernesto sighed while his hand dove into the gooey mixture. On his first night in this place, he made the mistake of asking for a spoon. He never made that mistake again.
It was getting cold. The non-existent glass in the barred windows provided little protection from the mountain breeze. The only thing resembling blankets were thin sheets of rough cotton. Ernesto stacked the sheets from each bed on top of each other and wrapped the improvised cloak around him. This was one of the few perks of being in an empty cell. Through his window, Ernesto gazed at the setting sun in the distance before curling on one of the beds to spend the night. A loud noise awoke Ernesto from a dreamless slumber. Ernesto opened his eyes only to become blinded by the intense white light that filled the room. Against all of his instincts, he jumped from the bed and stood upright, facing the door he couldn’t see. As his eyes adjusted to the bright light he began to see a shadow that promptly moved past the cell. Just as his eyes had fully adjusted, the lights turned off, leaving Ernesto blind again. “Only three more tonight” thought Ernesto.
Morning came sooner than Ernesto expected. But that wasn’t unusual. Ernesto felt tired. But that wasn’t unusual also. When the guards came to his cell, he waited for them upright, with his hands crossed behind his back. None of it was unusual. The guards insulted Ernesto as they cuffed him. The usual treatment. He made his best to walk by his own feet to his punishment, despite the chains binding his ankles. Just as he usually did. At the end of the corridor, the guards took a left turn. They had never led Ernesto through the left path. At that moment, Ernesto knew what was going to happen. With great effort, he repressed his emotions and began to hum quietly. The guards led him to a pole in the middle of a barren field. Ernesto kept humming the repetitive tune. One of the guards tied him to the pole, while another offered a black blindfold to Ernesto. Ernesto shook his head from side to side, while still humming. Six guards, armed with rifles, left a nearby hut and formed a line facing Ernesto. Ernesto forced back a tear and kept humming, this time a bit louder. The leader of the guards shouted “READY!” while the guards stood straight. Ernesto had stopped humming and was singing instead “forward, brothers and sisters”. “AIM!” shouted the commander while the barrel of six rifles pointed at Ernesto’s chest. Ernesto was no longer singing, but screaming from the top of his lungs “and the last fight let us face”. “FIRE!” shouted the commander. When the smoke cleared, only the echo carried the last words of Ernesto: “the Internationale unites the human race”.