In the afternoon we had toilet duties – for the third time in five days. Kandrin was pissed about it, so to say. What was it to her? She wasn’t the one to wield the bog brush. I deprive the gentle reader of a detailed description of the cleaning activities. They weren’t nearly as eventful as they were ignominious.
Wiping down mirrors in one of the barracks, I could not but pity my own reflection. Ugly haematomata claimed the corners of my mouth and the adjacent tissue of my cheeks. My face still showed angry traces of bridle and blinkers. And if I were to bare my breasts, my nipples could be seen sore and discoloured. They were throbbing in memory of the fierce and prolonged clamping. For the first hour after the bells’ removal I had been positively sure that nerves had been permanently damaged.
Ten’s remark about writing a letter kept me thinking. I turned the idea this way and that, pondering words and addressees. Somebody outside had to care. Warden Navier had to have superiors within the legal enforcement, had to answer to inspectors. And even if those persons were comfortable with the theoretical concept of bending adolescent culprits back in shape by means of abasement and physical exhaustion, they would not tolerate the dimensions of brutality reached. And how would anybody have been able to determine the outcome of such a venture? For such an insight one needs to learn from mistakes past – an ability sorely missed in human beings for the last couple of millennia.
So somewhere a political hero is on the hustings. Great bloke. A man of action. Declaring allegedly increasing juvenile delinquency the main problem of our fair country, he proclaims in a pithy speech to “tame” wayward youngsters. That brought him votes and eventually the chain of office. Being true to his word, Actionman did not forget his promise (which actually made him a rare breed). And so a whole hive hierarchy of minions is set in motion to put the idea into practice. Subordinates delegate concepts down to underlings, who in turn delegate tasks down to drones. Each level has less influence in the overall idea, but is to an increasing degree in charge of the practical execution. In the end the idea is twisted, misinterpreted, misbudgeted and perverted back and forth so many times nobody feels responsible anymore. Our handlers didn’t wake up one morning thinking: “Hey, let’s wrapped up some girls in leather tack and push horsetail plugs up their bums.” Somebody had told them. Not in these words. But somebody had handed down general guidelines, a box with bits, created an atmosphere for these abuses to happen. Somebody else had ordered a hundred sets of blinkers and would never know what those items were actually good for, and sent them to some forsaken spot they had never heard of. By now our politician is too far above to even be bothered with details, just with results. And those results – filtered, whitewashed and adjusted all the way back up through the system – are in line with the clear orders he has given. It was mine to tell them first-hand how far out of control things had careered inside the DACC.
Since the detainees had got no access to telecommunication of any kind, I opted for a more traditional way of entering into correspondence. A nice old-fashioned letter.
I decided to play it mature for once. Shortly before the evening fall-in I approached Miss Cuntling.
“Ma’am, can I have pen and paper? I would like to contact my solicitor.”
Kandrin looked at me as if I had asked whether we could have ice cream for dessert.
“Okay…,” she scoffed, “I’ll see right to it.”
Why was I not surprised?
Supper delighted us with something that bore treacherous resemblance with potato pancakes, yet was made from dinkel wheat. One generally gets dizzy due to discrepancies between what is being received from the sense of vision and the sense of balance. I learnt that evening the same thing may happen from discrepancies between vision and taste. Not everyone shared my experience, though. For the first time I saw Sixteen enjoying a meal.
“Oi, Seventeen! Come here! Move it!”
It was Tweedledee who formally requested my presence. Holding my tray with empty plate and empty cup still in hands, I marched over to him, always keeping an eye open for his identical twin.
He slapped a brown C4 envelope on my tray, thus sending the cup to the floor. (Fun fact: Empty prison-proof plastic cups bouncing on linoleum sound a bit like hoof boots.)
“It goes in the main building’s letter box when you’re finished. Pick that up!”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
I picked up my cup and left it at the counter, together with my tray, plate and cutlery. I franticly clinched to the envelope, though. As soon as I was out of the mess hall, I looked in it. Inside were two sheets of paper with DACC headings. I also felt a pen. Wonders never cease. I was granted the privilege of writing a letter to the outside world. Back in the barrack I occupied our single table and got started. The top sheet was some kind of form with fields for my name and the name and address of the receiver. Reason for correspondence. Correspondence permitted by group leader? (I took the liberty to tick “yes” at that one.) Then some legal lingo I did not fully understand. Finally a line informing me that delivery could take up to two weeks. Were they planning to send it by post coach?
The second sheet looked much like the first one, and for a moment I thought they’d put in another copy of the form by mistake. The text explained I was only entitled to 500 characters including blanks and punctuation, which were to be written in the boxes printed on the back. Indeed I found a small grid when turning the sheet. Originally I had looked forward to using my best handwriting, but the instruction clearly asked for block letters. To make them machine readable, I reckoned.
Still, I was bent to get the word out, aimed my pen at the first box – and hesitated. If I described in details what was going down here it would sound as though I was making it up. If I wrote too openly, a possible censor would confiscate the letter. I decided not to be too explicit on the fetish stuff. As for the censor, I had to take the risk. After all, the letter’s whole point was to let my solicitor know about my anguish.
I brought the pen back down on the paper.
SINCE I AM DENIED ALL OTHER MEANS OF COMMUNICATION, I HEREBY FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST THE STAFF OF THE DACC THROUGH THIS LETTER. MY FELLOW DETAINEES AND I ARE SUBJECTED TO SEVERE ABUSE, HAVING OUR PRIVACY, DIGNITY AND PHYSICAL INVIOLABILITY ATTACKED. THE METHODS OF DISCIPLINE AND PUNISHMENT WE ENCOUNTER ARE APPALLING AND OFTEN CROSS THE LINE TO TORTURE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, EXCESSIVE PHYSICAL RESTRAINT, PUBLIC FLOGGINGS, MASS BRANDINGS AS WELL AS DEMEANING OUTFITS AND ACTIVITIES.
Six boxes remaining, and still so much to tell. I left one blank after the last full stop and used the remaining five to wrap it up:
The final item I had been provided with was a smaller envelope, and I put the folded letter into it. The envelope was a standard type with a pre-gummed flap. As I sealed it I wondered how the numbers of characters I had written would be checked. Maybe the letters were drawn at random. And even if mine would be picked, perhaps the censor wasn’t affiliated with the DACC and would be outraged by the events I had described. After all, one was allowed to hope. But deep within I was already expecting repercussions.
I put the letter under my pillow for the night. I would post it as soon as I would be free to go over to the main building tomorrow. The pen I kept, just in case I was overwhelmed by the urge to shiv Sixteen in the showers.