Sixty-Nine - Ira

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They made me entirely numb. The last thing I remembered was having the bloody knife pried out of my fist, and I didn't think they could take anything else away from me. For nearly as long as I remembered, I'd been on my own with nothing to lose. Yet, drifting in and out of a drug-induced unconsciousness, I realized that they could take everything away again and again until I couldn't find my own self anymore.

I longed to hear my name, feel water run down to my gut, and be aware that I was breathing, sustaining my life by myself. I was reduced to a consciousness, a ghost, who in tiny moments of lucidity missed everything and everyone she loved. I couldn't cry; there was throbbing at the back of my eyes, but no pain. It went away with the wave of numbness that carried me back to blackout sleep.

There was no hope of escaping now. I had no brain to think with, nobody for running out of here. I could be in limbo and be here forever. There wouldn't be anyone like Stuart this time, I was sure. They'd pluck someone straight out of the military to dehumanize my thinking. If I got my body back, it would be like in Vitaly's camp; they wouldn't hold back the beatings until I was all instinct and nothing else.

Every time panic seized me and caused a dull ache that I knew was destroying my body, I took solace in the subtle reminders that Stuart used to start our conversations with, to make sure I knew that I was still human. He wasn't much of a talker, more of a listener, and I regretted ignoring his reason when I pushed us to go back to the island. I never knew how much I'd miss him. I held onto our memories to keep me out of the void for that much longer.

What is your name?

Ira Konstantinov.

Do you know where you are, Ira?

Hell Island.

Where were you before you came here?

Chicago, homeless. What's the fucking point of these questions, Stuart? Just leave me alone.

Where do you want to be after you leave here?

How is that a question? We both know that I'm never going to leave here. Are you trying to get a kick out of this? I won't entertain your boredom, no thank you.

We all have dreams, Ira, and nothing stays the same. If we work past your pain, you will be able to see what you want more clearly.

I felt a surge of numbness up my arm. They must have given me another dosage.

You want more for yourself than this, don't you, Ira?

His face was eroding away.

I don't know...

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