Friday, December 12, 2008

Overseers

I wasn’t sure what it was, exactly, whether we were guests, or what. Many things were happening, I was not really taking in many of them. Then it happened: one of my friends complained. One of the overseers slapped him across the face. There wasn’t a word but then we knew. This was some sort of prison camp. My friend had been marked as an insubordinate and his fate was sealed. He knew, too. Some of our people started avoiding him. Long corridors at the end of the space we were at, we could see the atrium down below. I imagined that the people we were seeing down there were a mix of free people and overseers, but I didn’t really know. If it was a prison camp, it was a very clean one. We had clean clothes, I wasn’t hungry or sleep-deprived. All the same there was an overpowering heavy sense of evil and of being watched and played cat-and-mouse with.

Then I woke up. I reached for the iphone to check the time. 7:56. No need to get up early today, could sleep a little more. What was that I was dreaming about?

Or was it a dream? Now I was back there with the others, from my room. I was dressed in pure white, in a sort of cotton pyjamas. I also had my friend’s big leather, wide brimmed hat and I thought it was such a bad idea, to make myself so conspicuous and precisely in such a way that would antagonise the overseers, but couldn’t offend my friend either, by hiding or throwing away his hat. I knew I stood out a lot, was very uncomfortable but there was nothing to it but get on with it. I needed to know what was going on here. I tried to ‘forget’ the hat, putting it casually on a ledge on the wall -then saw my friends eyes locked on the hat. Like doggy eyes, the eyes of a dog that has been beaten into submission. Then I saw the scene down in the atrium. There were lots of people on both sides of a sort of barrier like the ones that delimit queues in banks or cinemas. On one side, a rather large man burst in what looked like relieved laughter and called out a name, waving something that looked like bank notes in his hand, starting to move towards somebody on the other side. Then this even much larger female guard stopped him. He argued and she barked: “No, you’re not speaking to him. You’re on this side. It doesn’t matter whether what you say it’s true or not, now you’re here and you’re fucked”; he still tried to push past her and she just pushed him back with what looked like a flick of the hand.

I woke up very cold and shivering. It was 8:01. Is that possible? Such a long story in just six minutes or less? But I still don’t have to get up, maybe if I..

Maybe if I just take it casually. Don’t look nervous. I’d been told we would be allowed out, in the yard on our level -not downstairs in the indoor atrium. I still was dressed in those damn white pyjamas that stood out a mile.. ok, I moved towards the exit, together with the couple of others that would be allowed out. The female guard searched me, whatever she was doing was very ticklish and I said so. She looked at me -no, she looked through me with ice-cold eyes and didn’t say anything. I saw the yard outside. Out of doors, under a brown-grey sky. You couldn’t see much. Just a few more guards and one or two people, surely not ‘prisoners’ if that’s what we were, maybe overseers. Then it occurred to me: maybe we weren’t being ‘allowed’ out, but separated from the group and taken out to meet whatever fate awaited us. I tried to wake up, but it was too late.

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