Keys jangle in the door followed by the opening clunk of the lock. “Who are they after this time? Must be the early hours of the morning,” I lie frozen with fear. The others stir, some turn over, another coughs.
We are 22 in total. Our heads rest up against the walls with our feet at the centre of the 3 meters by 3-meter cell. Not an inch to spare except in one corner where the soiled latrine is. A crude hole in the cement with an outside flush.
I shut my eyes and breathe as shallow as I can. “ Please, not me.” The prisoner’s stories of those who leave in the dead of night and never seen again, haunt me. “Please, not me.”
The enemy is now the government and their intention is to purge the services.
“Was Dad this mean?” The pill of irony dries my mouth. The son of the previous regime’s police-in-charge sits in the cells of the same station he ran. Retribution too, the order of the day.
“Hope they don’t take it out on me,” I hold my breath as the ironclad gate opens. A uniformed arm reaches over. “I’m sorry,” I hiss and brace for what may come. There is the crinkle of paper and then plop of something landing near my face. “I do not want to die. I have done nothing wrong,” wails in my head.
The door slams, and the lockbolts ram home. Silence. “Smells like chocolate.” I sniff again. “Am I losing my mind? I’m sure it’s candy.” Minutes pass. Nobody stirs. Not a sound.“Can’t be?” My lips quiver.
An inmate stumbles across and drapes his grimy blanket over me then retires to his space amongst the grunginess.
A voice a few inches away whispers. “ Be strong Chameleon. All is not what it seems.” I ignore my co-worker, lying next to me. Detained for the same reason.