“There’s no way out – it’s impossible to get out.” Taylor exclaimed, the sound of SpongeBob playing once more from the TV and the yellow figure dancing from left to right in his underwater world. And why the heck did they only play SpongeBob on this channel and why couldn’t we watch something interesting for a change like Scooby Doo or the Kardashians?
I turned away from the TV screen for a second and peered towards the corner of the common room and noticed how the CCTV camera was slowly turning. The whirring cogs of a hidden motor I could hear as the camera angled towards where Taylor had settled herself upon her favourite pink bean bag. The CCTV’s black eye that was focussed upon my friend as Taylor kicked out her heel so that the electronic tag that was shackled to her ankle rattled in anger.
“We’re not going anywhere with these things on.” She said, jiggling her ankle and the electronic tag rattling with laughter it seemed to me.
Rag ‘n’ Bone lowered the half-consumed packet of Jammy dodgers to his lap and the crumbs falling from his lips as he spluttered his view of the world.
“She’s right.” He said, wiggling his own chubby leg and the tag that was shackled there. “They’ve got us locked up good and proper.” He said, tiring of the movement and lowering his hand to the packet of jammy dodgers, lifting another to his lips where he munched down upon it and prodded his tongue towards the jellied jam at the centre. “And besides,” he continued, “it’s not too bad in here.” He said, crumbs falling from his chin. “Not really.”
“Man, you really are more nuts than I thought you were fat boy,” Eminem chipped in, casting a sideways glance towards Rag ‘n’ Bone and shaking his head with irritation. Against Eminem’s neck I noticed how the thick vein began to throb a little more against the skull that was inked against the skin. “We’re caged up like a bunch of rats in here.” Eminem said, turning his attention from Rag ‘n’ Bone for a moment and casting his critical gaze across the rest of our group that remained assembled about the common room. For a moment his gaze paused briefly upon Ariana who had returned to laying on her belly on the rainbow coloured rug before the TV screen. Ariana’s head that was propped against her hands and her gaze that remained fixed upon SpongeBob. And I noticed how Eminem studied the sweet girl for longer than he should. And that made me angry, real angry, but I didn’t say anything.
“We’re never getting out.” He said, bringing his hand towards the metal tag against his own ankle and pulling against the clasp until the muscles in his arms began to bulge and his face turned pink. And I wondered again, what crimes the other children here must have committed to be locked away in here. And funny, I thought, that none of them had asked what the hell we were doing in here, all chained up and locked away from the world. And Sister Dixon with her wax skin and her mischievous smile. And not a single one of us had yet had the courage to ask the others what heinous crimes they might have committed to be locked away in a place like this.
The whirring drone of an electric motor as the CCTV camera slowly moved its attention from where Taylor reclined upon the pink bean bag. Thee little camera panned across the room until it came to rest its attention upon Eminem. The boy still struggling and pulling at the metal clasp around his ankle and his face that was as pink as a beetroot. The veins that were throbbing like a punctured bicycle tyre against his neck and his knuckles that were white as he pulled with all his strength against the metal clasp that was shackled against his foot. The screeching cry of metal as some mechanism gave way within the boy’s shackles and a voice that suddenly entered the room from who knew where. Her voice. Sister Dixon. And the volume turned to max.
“Stop that Brandon!” The voice said. Sister Dixon. The words metallic as they called out from a hidden speaker somewhere.
But Eminem wasn’t for stopping I figured, as he pulled with all his might against the electronic tag. The screeching sound of metal as the mechanism gave way. And Eminem gritting his teeth and spit and spittle that were frothing between his lips and his gums and his eyes all crazy-like as though he were a rabid pit bull. And Sister Dixon’s voice that called out her warnings from the hidden speaker. But her voice that was difficult to here now as the rest of my loony friends began to whoop and howl and jump up and down like a pack of demented chimpanzees.
And the thought occurred to me that I must be some crazy type of schizoid to be locked up with a bunch of loonies like this. And the sight of them all screaming and jumping and calling out there babbling nonsense to the world, almost brought me to my knees in fits of giggles. Because I’m telling you right now it was one of the funniest things I’d seen in weeks. Which sounds a little cruel I guess, but I’d been deprived of my PS4 for so long that I reckoned even the smallest distraction would have had the same effect on me.
Before I knew what was happening the metal door behind us was thrown open and a bunch of gorillas tumbled in with their batons and electric pistols. They began shouting and cussing and kicking over chairs and bean bags as they raced towards Eminem. I watched as they threw him clean from his chair so that the boy flew backwards through the air and landed with a right royal clatter against the floor and smashed his head against the wall. A streak of blood that could be seen smudging against the white plaster.
And I tell you right now, that boy got really angry then, real angry. And he started to kick and spit and say all manner of nasty things about the guards as they desperately attempted to secure his hands behind his back with plastic twine. And I didn’t think it was fair that Eminem should have said those things about the who the guard’s mother’s might or might not have had sex with. Cause I reckoned it wasn’t the guard’s fault that they’d been unlucky enough to work the afternoon shift in Deadwood. And the way I saw it, the guards were only trying to do their jobs, and it wasn’t their fault that they had a crazy assed boss with wax skin. And I wondered if the guards would talk about all this madness later at the Bull, over a pint of Smith’s and pork scratchings. And the thought of the Bull back there in the village made me feel a little sad then. So, I covered my ears with my hands to block the commotion out. And brought my head down towards my lap and forced my eyes to close and invited the darkness in. And I called out to my goblin friend who waited for me on the other side of my eyelids.
I settled within the darkness for a while and allowed the world to drift away until all that remained was the sound of the hornet’s wings that buzzed and flickered away in the darkness somewhere. A face that was revealed on the other side of my eyelids. Its mouth that was smiling from cheek to cheek and the rows of tiny teeth that were sharp and barbed like the fisherman’s hook.
Do you want to let me out? The goblin asked. His sibilant words that echoed towards the endless abys.
I shook my head.
No. I said, as I studied my cruel friends familiar face.
Please. He protested, and his lips like ancient leather and his gums that were pink and his teeth that were spikey and cruel.
I shook my head. The memory of what had happened the last time I had let the goblin out to play for a while. And that didn’t end too well for any of my friends. And the last thing I wanted on my plate at this point was more blood and guts and boring questions from Sister Dixon about my childhood and my Father and the wishing well in the garden and all that garbage.
Not yet. I said
But it’s boring in here Mandy. The goblin replied, and his eyes that were wide and the flames of hell that flickered away behind his pupils somewhere.
I need some fun.
But I shook my head more firmly this time and crossed my arms tightly against my chest. And I noticed that I had hurt my friend’s feelings cause his spikey-toothed smile seemed to fall a little from his black lips and I kind of felt sorry for him for that at least.
I’ll let you out soon. I said, regretting straight away the promise I had made and the excitement and hunger that suddenly flickered across the creature’s cruel features. And a tongue that was revealed between the rows of pointed teeth. The black leather lips. And the tongue that was pink and forked at the end. The saliva that glistened against the edges.
Goody. The creature replied, and the excitement and the edge against his voice. Soon, Mandy, you’ll let me out soon, soon.
I smiled and brought my hand towards the top of the creature’s head and the pointed ears that were prickly and spiky against the touch and gently patted the slobbering fool. His forked tongue that flicked out and across those black lips of his as though he were some obedient mutt that could be controlled. But those were foolish thoughts I realised, because once released, there was no controlling this little fella.
Get some sleep. I said, patting the creatures head and his skin that was sticky and slimy and spiky to boot. The sense that I was awakening, and the darkness pushed away. And the sound of hooves clip-clopping towards the distance as my little friend retreated to his lair to sleep a little longer and wait some more. You’ll need your strength when I call you.
I flicked my eyes open and the room revealed once more.
Chairs that had been overturned and scattered in all directions.
The smudge of red against the wall where Eminem had cracked his skull.
SpongeBob dancing across the TV screen.
And my friends still hiding towards the corners of the common room where the shadows creased against their features and their eyes that were dark and fearful.
“Where’s Eminem?” I asked, turning towards Bieber and the boy blinking and lifting his arm towards the metal door that remained open before us and a smudge of blood that streaked out across black and white tiles and on towards an ever-narrowing corridor.
“They took him away!” he said.