Tears in my eyes, I slowly woke up. I was in a small, dark room without a window. A yellowish light glowed above my head, and a hard, metal bed beneath my body. I sat up slowly. I don’t know how long I passed out.
“Awake?” Huo Xiaoran appeared in the air, looking at me, his expression cold.
I was a little nervous because of the iciness he gave off. Unconsciously, I scooted backwards a little, afraid to answer. After a long time, I nodded slightly as a response to his question.
My gaze wandered around the room. A thick metal door seemed to be the only exit. It was very quiet; in such surroundings, I couldn’t tell whether it was day or night.
“I…… ” I started, but didn’t know what to say.
Huo Xiaoran disappeared from the air and then reappeared right before me, demanding coldly, “Tell me, why did you go there?”
Looking at him, I was afraid. If I told the truth, what will his response be? Furious? I was in jail right now; where could I go? My hand touched my belly, and I didn’t say anything. Not getting my answer, Huo Xiaoran suddenly vanished without another word. I didn’t know if he was angry or not. Or did he notice something?
When I was almost going crazy in the little black room, the metal door was opened, and someone called: “Come out, you can go to the regular cell now.” It was a woman. Her expression was blank and her voice was without emotion.
Walking out the door, a bright light made me squint. The light shining in from the windows was very strong and hurt my eyes. She walked in front leading the way, and another woman dressed like her followed behind me. The police uniforms they wore made them seem authoritative.
I walked with her into a room. She took a package of clothes from the desk and turned to me, “Go inside, take a shower, and put these on. I will take your clothes and deliver them to the storeroom. If you get the chance to leave, they will be returned to you.” Finishing, she pushed open the door, motioning for me to go inside.
Inside was the shower room. After showering carelessly, I walked out. Because they said so, I put on the grey jail uniform, and was brought by her to another room. Inside this room, there was only a woman in a white cloak, looking rather old.
“Number 21005, check-up before going to jail.” The female police officer announced coldly, pushing me into the chair.
The check-up was very simple. Blood pressure, heart rate, a blood test. Then the doctor asked if I had any diseases, and I shook my head. Depressed, I didn’t know how to face all this. I was then transported to my cell.
The cell were not single. Two bunks were in the room, three beds already occupied. The female police officer banged her baton on the nearest bed then left.
I was a little scared, wanting to look, but not daring to, at the other three people in the cell. When I sat down on the edge of my bed fearfully, a young woman on the top bunk reached down and pulled me up. She looked at my number tag on my chest and asked, “21005, what crime did you commit?”
Her tone seemed friendly enough, so my tears fell again as I shook my head, “I didn’t, I was framed!”
“Really? There aren’t just a few who were framed here. You’re really unfortunate!” The woman lay back onto her bed, her feet in the air, and started studying her hands.
I didn’t dare say anything else. I sat down, but the person across from me yelled, “Who told you to sit down?!”
It was a fat woman on the top bunk on the other side. Her hair was cropped really short, and if not for the big lump in front of her chest, she looked more like a rough man. Don’t know if it was because her face was too fat, her eyes looked like slits. But her expression was cold and frightening. I blanked, then stood up quickly.
“Hong Ning, show her the jail rules!”
The woman above me threw down a notebook. It landed right in my face, making my whole face hurt. I picked it up and flipped it open. It was all handwritten, but that handwriting, looked more like a kindergartener’s.
“Remember, memorize all these before you go to bed. The first rule, latest by tomorrow before dinner, bring the stuff over, or else…… ” She humphed coldly and lay back down. The bed creaked under her rolling.
I sat back down nervously, reading carefully, but after seeing the first rule, I went dumb. Five hundred, the first rule was to bring her five hundred RMB! Subconsciously, I reached out to feel my clothes. I didn’t have a single penny on me!
“I…… ” I wanted to tell to her nicely, that I had no money on me. Not to mention five hundred, I couldn’t even give her one RMB. But what I didn’t expect was as soon as I opened my mouth, she sat up on her bed abruptly, her expression fierce as she jumped to the ground. Before I could process what was happening, I was pulled up by her, her hand tight on my collar.
I forget to talk as she glared at me, her face extremely close. I could even feel the air from her nostrils; warm and smelly.
“So it seems, you don’t understand the rules?” Her other hand grabbed my jaw, squeezing so hard I almost fainted.
“Daring to talk while I’m sleeping! Hong Ning, come down and teach her!” She threw me forcefully, and I flew through the air and hit the door, hard. I crumpled to the floor, watching her in fear, even making my breathing the softest.
“Yes!” The woman on my top bunk got up and climbed down. She didn’t put on her shoes but picked up the slippers. Walking to my side, without any warning, slapped my back with the slipper and said, “Get up, squat against the wall!”
Even though my back hurt, I didn’t dare speak, following her instructions and squatting in the corner. I thought this was enough, but she only hit me harder with the slipper: “Who told you to do it like this, get your back away from the wall! Heels off the ground! If you dare drop them, be careful I don’t beat you to death!”
Although her voice was quiet, the coldness in it couldn’t be described by words. I didn’t even dare look up at her, but kept my head low. I bit my lip, I must endure, I must live! I must live! Tomorrow, I will plea to the court. I will definitely leave this place!
That faith became my only strength now. Following her instructions, I stood on my toes, keeping my hands high above my head. This position was much harder than I thought, and many times because I couldn’t keep steady, my heels touched the ground, and the woman called Hong Ning hit my head and back even harder.
My tears fell, not because of the pain on my body, but the shame in my heart! I started reflecting on myself. Why did I trust Matron Wang, I hated myself for making Huo Xiaoran go away, or else all this wouldn’t have happened! Suddenly, I found out how naive I was. To all this, I couldn’t even retaliate.
“I was wrong! Tomorrow, I will definitely give you every single penny of the money!” Unable to bear the pain anymore, I whispered.
Sure enough, Hong Ning stopped beating me. I was afraid to raise my head, but I could guess that the fat woman must have motioned her to stop that she stopped.
“Okay! Since you understand now, then go rest!” The gruff voice of the fat woman sounded, and only then did Hong Ning leave, climbing back onto her bed. After blanking out for some time, I slowly got up, dragging my battered body to the bed.
Tears dropped onto my pillow. The first time, I found that it wasn’t salty, but bitter! It was as bitter as goldthread root, but I could tell anyone.
Only when I couldn’t cry anymore, I fell asleep. But I woke up at dawn, because a hand, was moving on my body. Opening my eyes, I saw Hong Ning’s face in front of me. Her tongue moved over her lips, a strong desire in her eyes. Frightened out of my wits, I wanted to scream, but her hand covered my mouth.
“If you obey, the days to come will be easier. If you don’t obey, there are no regret potions in the world!”
Her voice as tiny, almost inaudible, and then her hand started moving from my abdomen to my chest. I watched her in fear, not believing that a woman was actually touching my body.
I sucked in a deep breath and threw away her hand, crying, “No! I beg you, no!”
“What’s going on!”
The fat woman spoke, and the light went on. I cried towards the fat woman across from me: “I will give you the money, really, I beg you, please don’t force me anymore!” I wrapped my arms around myself and curled up in a corner of my bed, crying.
Hong Ning chuckled softly, finally taking her hand off of me, standing up and saying, “Big sis, uh, I!”
“Hong Ning, how many times have I told you, the newcome hasn’t paid yet, so don’t touch her! If you block my money path, be careful I don’t kill you!” The fat woman snarled, annoyed.
Hong Ning kept agreeing: “Yes, yes!”
But I started wailing even louder, because the fat woman said, she couldn’t touch me before I paid, but what about after I paid tomorrow? Did I then have to endure the harassment of this psychopath Hong Ning?
Taking advantage of Hong Ning’s attention diverted, I pushed her away and ran to the door, banging on it heavily, screaming and yelling. I was mad, I didn’t even care about the pain in my hand. I used all the strength I had, even kicking with my feet, just to attract the prison guard’s attention. Sure enough, not even three minutes passed before the door was opened. I fell to the ground, grabbing onto the prison guard’s leg tightly and started crying. I wasn’t going to let go even if I die!
This was hell, not a place for humans! I must leave this place, as long as I could leave, I was willing to do anything!