In 1986, we were taken from our homes in the night. Nobody called the police. Nobody saw. It was completely silent and there was little to no struggle. We were taken to an underground work camp that seemed more like a prison. I have always referred to it as a prison as well. It was an awful place and none of us knew what we were working for.
I spent seven years in the prison. It was dark and cold. We had to sleep on freezing floors with no pillows or blankets. Occasionally someone died of malnourishment or they were beaten too hard by guards and death came soon to them.
I was put in when I was five. My mother was shot before they took any prisoners, and my father was beaten to death within the first week we were there. They didn’t kill me because I was a child. I suppose even those monsters have some morals.
In that hellhole, there wasn’t much to do. However, I guess someone felt bad for me and wanted to do something nice for me. An old woman gave me a doll as a gift, but somehow she didn’t seem happy about it. She looked... sad. Sad about giving it to me. I thought it might be because she wanted it, but she also seemed eager to get rid of it.
It had a white face and button eyes. There was, what I think, a stitched smile on it with rosy cheeks. She wore a bonnet and blue dress. There was a piece of string tied tightly around her neck with a trail behind it, and I never wanted to cut it off because I was scared of it. I don’t know why, but that noose-esque rope on its neck just made me nervous.
That doll was my best friend in that place. I played with it whenever I got the chance which was usually at night since most days we worked. She loved to drink tea with me and wasn’t sad that it was pretend tea even though I sometimes was.
In the seventh year of my time in the camp, after a long day of carrying rocks from point A to point B, I was forced back into my cell and laid down on the floor. As I shut my eyes to sleep, I saw the doll I loved so much lying on the floor across the stone cubicle-like cell. I whispered goodnight to her and she whispered back. I smiled even though I knew she couldn’t actually talk to me.
I had a dream that night. I had a dream of fire and death. There were prison guards running and panicking as something unseen made them drop dead before my very eyes. However, the guards were the only ones dying. Everybody else was walking around normally, as if they couldn’t see the chaos around them.
My eyes opened and it was gone. I heard the familiar metallic clang of the metal bars that served as my gate and door opening. The doll sat closer to me, which I thought was odd but I didn’t have time to think about it as the day of work was starting. I stood up, brushed a spider off of my shoulder, and came out of my cell to begin the day.
I was sure of one thing, however.
The doll had moved while I was asleep.
I hid the doll that night. I can’t remember where but I put it somewhere I couldn’t see it. I shouldn’t have done that, it made that morning so much worse. I woke up and the doll was laid next to my head. I picked it up and ignored the fact that it was moved. Ignoring things you can’t explain is supposed to make them better, right?
That morning was a free day where we were allowed into the courtyard. The only people that had to work were those who had disobeyed some sort of order. It could be anything. “Work!” “Pick up that can!” “Tell me I’m pretty!” They punished you for any sort of defiance whatsoever.
I brought the doll out to the courtyard. It wasn’t much of a courtyard since the entire place was underground, but somehow they managed to circulate air through it. In fact, it seemed much more spacious and aerated than the rest of the place, probably because the rest was mostly cramped and uncomfortable tunnels. It was also better lit. There were electric lamps, akin to modern street lamps, rather than gas lamps which was how the rest of the prison was kept alight.
Timothy saw me when I came out. He was never nice to me. That day he must have been feeling extra mean because rather than heckling and verbally abusing me, the little weak girl, he took my doll. He held her by the string around her neck and made a cracking noise as if she had hanged herself.
I lunged for the doll but fell on the cold dirt ground. Timothy laughed at me and threw my doll at me, hitting me in the head with it. I started to cry and he kicked dirt into my hair, making me cry even harder. People looked over but nobody did anything. Everyone there was so afraid of those in charge that they never helped each other.
Finally Timothy left me alone and walked away. As far as I can remember, he was the only other child in the camp. I had no friends but the doll. But that one doll couldn’t substitute for real, living friends. Strangely, living is what Timothy, the only other child in the camp, didn’t do.
That night I had another dream. In this one, a life-size replica of my doll was talking to me at a tea party. We were outside in woods that I lived by, a place I hadn’t seen in over six years.
She told me that I should stand up to Timothy. I knew I should, but I couldn’t help it. I was afraid of him. He was stronger than me and he was a big ugly mean boy and I was just a small little girl. This seemed to make my doll angry. She insisted that I had to fight him and that if I wouldn’t, she would. She pulled a sewing needle out of a pocket in her dress and that’s when I woke up.
Alarm bells were ringing. That usually meant for guards to be on alert for a dangerous prisoner. I got up and asked someone what was wrong, and nothing could have prepared me for the answer. It struck me like a bolt of lightning.
Timothy was found dead with a sewing needle in his throat that morning.