I was woken by the sweet sound of a whistle.
“Up! Up!” Kandrin shouted, her little noise maker still in one hand. With the other she pulled the blanked off the nearest bunk and threw it on the floor.
“Breakfast in bed is cancelled! You two, take out the rubbish.”
“Yes, ma’am!” – “Yes, ma’am!”
The girls addressed grabbed the dustbins and ran out with them (I didn’t even noticed them putting on shoes). Kandrin strode towards the end of the room.
“Good morning, ma’am!” I repeated enthusiastically whilst making my bed, following the sage description from my chest. It had stressed to not spread the blanket over the bed but to fold it at the foot end in a special way. By keeping the mattress uncovered, and I’m quoting here, “the participant prevents generating a microclimate in which allergenic organisms can prosper, such as various species of the house dust mite (Dermatophagoides)”. This is the kind of information you just don’t get at any other penal institution.
As I stepped out for the first fall-in of the day, I didn’t dare look at the whipping post, but then hold my breath and did it anyway. The massive pole was empty. Even so it acted as a deterrent against any form of unruly behaviour.
“Where is she?” was asked somewhere at my right.
“You think they murked her?” came from further down the line.
My guess was the infirmary, yet I didn’t participate in any speculations.
The first, small fall-in was group-wise and gave the respective leader the opportunity to attend to organisational stuff. During the other fall-ins, the big ones, all groups were addressed together, be it from one of the leaders or – on special occasions – from the warden herself.
This morning Miss Cuntling informed us that we had the worst cumulated time of yesterday’s run and thus “volunteered” for toilet cleaning duties. Eight seconds quicker, and it would have been the honour of Group 1 instead. I had only seen who had been the slowest of the girls being brought in with me, not of the ten who had arrived the day before us. But if the eight slowest of my whole group had moved their arses a wee bit more, just for the worth of one bloody second each, I wouldn’t have a date with the guards’ urinals. For toilet duties meant to clean all toilets and showers as well as all sinks except the ones in the kitchen. The fact that these eight girls had most likely been at their limits whilst I had had the breath to shave another eight seconds off all on my own didn’t saved them from my just wrath.
Before breakfast we were to run the inner perimeter again, this time all inmates together, and it dawned on me that this was a standard procedure to wake us up fully.
“Well, ladies,” Kandrin stated afterwards, “today’s times don’t look too hot, either.”
No shit? I had kept an eye on the makeshift finishing line. Sixteen had come in last. Not last of our group, but last of all. However, I got at least a small satisfaction at breakfast. As soon as Sixteen reached the counter she was bidden to explain her intentions.
“What the fuck, 1316?!”
The question had been raised by yesterday’s guard, who closed in on her and was quickly joined by his comrade.
“What’s going on here?!”
“1316 tried to get breakfast!”
“The fuck, 1316?!”
Sixteen looked at them, wide-eyed and already trembling.
“Wasn’t Blondie supposed to skip a meal to rethink her attitude?”
“Absolutely!” the second guard played along. A real dream team, the two.
“Then what are you doing here, 1316?!”
“I skipped supper yester—”
“Everybody skipped supper yesterday, smart-arse!”
“Are you smart-arseing us?!”
She glanced at me, silently beseeching me to advocate her. Like hell I would.
The first guard then illustrated the whole concept of having a meal less than the rest of us:
“You eat not when everyone else eats! Got it?!”
I enjoyed my breakfast with unnecessary noisiness, whilst Sixteen was sitting next to me with a lonely plastic cup of milk. Cow milk.
After the big morning fall-in my group was officially seconded to “survey the entirety of hygiene installations”. Toilet cleaning duties, for those who haven’t paid attention. Surely it could have been established for every group to clean its own shower room and take turns with the other ones on the rest, but that wouldn’t provide that refreshing feeling of rivalry.
Speaking of which: Group 1’s lot turned out to be “vehicle maintenance”. The camp had a small fleet of cars at its disposal, maybe half a dozen. The heavy Nissan four-by-fours were of course white, with roof mounted yellow flashing lights and the obligatory DACC logo painted on their front doors. Whilst hauling a five litre canister of sanitiser across the camp, I happened to notice the Oners washing the bulky cars. Involuntarily I was remembered of the eight seconds my own group had been short of that very task – because of Sixteen and the likes of her. One could argue that cleaning was cleaning, yet I doubted anybody had pissed in yonder wheel-arches.