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The Facility: Chapter 5.
I couldn't spend my future caged in a battery farm. Now that I knew I had a limited shelf life, all was starting to fall away. The tightrope of security, the illusion of identity and independence... The Facility was a vampire and the entire human zeitgeist was it's blood. People began vanishing like flies, the cold menace to the air, robbing us of a slight grace of summer, was a pesticide. It drove the vagrants indoors, yet there was no safety in the pens within this human abattoir. I stayed away from my bedsit, almost hearing a mute clock shatter away the protective bubble of my freedom, until it, The Facility, had me. I'd lived on the streets before, I could handle it...
... A quite self-sufficient existence can be had as a vagrant. It's just a matter of vigilance, timing and knowing what are the right bins to attend to. Hang around certain Off Licences and convenience stores after closing time and the bins - a hybrid between a volcanic eruption and a glutton's stomach after a buffet - could offer you some semblance of a diet. If you couldn't find drink there. An empty water bottle will provide your daily water needs if you don't mind drinking tap water from public bogs. It's not as purified as tap water in your kitchen sink, but it won't give you cholera.
I knew where to go for my staple of fluid and dried baked good and stale sandwiches. But this time? Things were different, last time I was on the streets, I was deposited there, today, I was being hunted. A pack, invisible and intangible, stalked my every move, assessed my every thought to wonder if it was a crime. These wolves rent more than flesh from the petrified bone. They tore away vitality, memory, the very essence of you until nothing was left but a drone that served the rich with no purpose!
But the hive was emptying. Each day passed with another abandoned hutch, where the red tape-furred foxes of bureaucracy had torn away the cheese wire and feasted on the test rabbit within. The blood stains, the only remaining evidence of anybody's existence persisting throughout the cages (furniture, possessions, food from cupboards all having been bled dry) was the letter, opened, discarded. Each letter an "invite" to attend The Facility... it was anticipating my every move. Taking away the scraps I,Vulture could nibble away at, it drew me further into a corner.
So began the elaborate cat and mouse. Several days where time, need, fear and escape melded into one, funneled down a sole passage into a cold dread where I was always on the run. Eyes in the back of my head even whilst dreaming. Dreams filled with the ominous nightmare of that squat building, a parasite on the earth. A warped mutation, just like the human poker hand of financial gain with the world as the stake.
Days wore to weeks. More of the destitute vanished from their cages in the animal testing lab that was this town. The shops failed, the light failed and bins stopped yielding wasted treats. The Facility was toying with me and we both knew it. I sat on fence nearby to it, sore eyed, sore souled. My brain felt squashed and muscles seemed like they'd been rubbed against a cheese grater, stiff, shocked at the scraping occurring on it's edges. The Facility grinned at me, it was winning, had taken all my friends, my dignity, any reason for survival aside from it. Even the shitty brown complexion of the Job Centre at it's side seemed to flinch away from it. It was a gravestone of human liberty, a cold concrete memorial erected at the last moment and without a minute's extra thought.
Abandoning the half bottle of cider I'd found in a bin, having just mastered gagging at it's listlessly flat and warm taste, I stood up and faced the concrete breezeblock. The heat had uselessly surrendered to the spiteful will of the cold. The clouds had grown heavier and was teasing me and only me with the potential of rain. A black and iron grey stew broiled above and raced over the crucible of misery that was the place. A hurricane levying long since thought defeated feelings swelled against the fateful portrait doing it's utmost to throw all the oppression that it could my way. But here I was, still free, my street may be empty, my head may be swirling with the ghosts of those filling the bedsit hutches that lined the road, yet here I remained. Like magma hate bolted out of my chest into a feral scream that bounced off the indifferent concrete. Like every war, I had to take the fight to it, my (current) freedom was the only weapon I possessed against this governmental monster. Before it came for me, I would have to go to it...
© Brad James, 2014.