Limbo Part 1: First Rate Medicine
Saturday, February 10, 2018

Two years of hell was bad; two years with the knowledge that nobody was coming was even worse. He shouldn’t complain though, it was his own fault; the crew of Serenity had just been the ones to turn him in.


“Rise and Shine, you tuó dà biàn!”

The last word was accompanied by a harsh kick that sent the frail body flying across the concrete floor. Simon awoke, coughing harshly and blinking dazedly at the bright light illuminating the rooms. Gloved hands came from the light and grabbed him harshly, forcing him to his feet then throwing him from the room. Laughter followed him as he crashed to the floor, letting out a painful moan. He was picked up and dragged along, bare feet dragging along behind him.

The dark concrete walls and floors contrasted harshly with the bright lights lining the corridor and Simon squinted, still disorientated. Arriving at another door, he was pulled through and dropped to the floor. The guards began kicking him, rubber soles crashing onto an already battered body; Simon let out cries and whimpers – there was no point in trying to remain stoic, nobody was coming. After a minute they stopped and stepped back, indifferent to the semi-naked form on the floor, rolling in pain.

A door on the other side of the white room opened and the sound of squeaky boots filled the air. They stopped just in front of him.

“Gentleman, gentleman.” Came a soft-spoken voice. “We’ve been doing this for two years and it still seems Dr Tam forgets to sit on the chair.”

The guards chuckled and lifted him up with bruising grips, dropping him into the plastic chair, handcuffing limp hands in front of him. His head hung low on his chest.

“That is much better. Now Dr Tam.” A hand gripped his chin and raised it, forcing him to look into cold, dead eyes. “One time only today. Dr Tam, where was the last place you saw your sister?”

The room fell silent again. Simon frowned at him as his eyes roved around the room, unseeing. The man, a Captain known as Abram, tapped Simon’s face, drawing his attention back. Simon gaped for a few seconds, seemingly about to say something and Abram leaned closer. Simon spat on him. “Hwen Dan!” Abram reared back and slapped him hard, sending him crashing to the floor. At a nod the guards were on him in an instant, boots and batons hitting him again and again and again…


Simon startled awake, vision full of darkness. His cell, then. Letting out a pained wheeze, he hauled his weak body upright and leaned it against the cold wall. His breath came out in stuttering gasps and his head rolled loosely, feverish shivers raking his form. He didn’t know the day, the time or, hell, even where he actually was – hell was the nearest guess. What he did know, and knew with certainty, was that within the next five minutes guards would be plucking him from the floor and taking him to the yard to do back-breaking labour for hours. The guards said he always started work at two in the afternoon and so, whenever he was taken out, it was two in the afternoon. Unless it was the third day, but he didn’t like to think about that activity.

Speaking of guards, he could faintly hear them marching along the narrow corridor to reach his solitary cell. Pushing himself up via the wall, he limped into what he thought was the centre of the room and waited for them to arrive. The door was thrown open with a crash and Simon was blinded by the light shining through.

“Well look at this, Mikel!” He could hear them step into the room. “Little shits stood up!”

A dark chuckle. “Can’t have that, can we?”

Something solid hit his stomach and he folded in half, knees crashing to the floor with a low thud. Another hit on his back sent him sprawling to the ground and he landed, sending convulsions through him as harsh coughs erupted from his chest. A sharp kick moved him onto his side.

“Up on your feet, Tam. Now!” He recognised Mikel’s voice.

Simon hurried to his feet and stood shivering in the cold air as the guards assessed him and prodded him with their batons; A push from behind and he was stood in the corridor. As one handcuffed his hands, Mikel put a cloth in his mouth, tying it tightly behind his head, then covered his head with a black sack. One of them, he did not know which, manhandled his left leg, then his right, forcing hole- ridden boots onto frozen feet – this was the only time he was allowed them because it was detrimental to work without shoes, apparently. He was then lead away, down the corridor and through various sets of doors before arriving at the main prison.

He knew it was the main area because he could hear the calls from the other prisoners, the jeers and yells as he, shirtless and afraid, was lead passed their cells. The crude, sexual comments and promises made him tense up even further and the guards had to push him to get him moving again. Simon was something of a mystery to them: isolated for almost the whole day, never allowed to speak, blindfolded until he reached the yard – combined with his emaciated, pale, almost feminine form and there wasn’t a single prisoner that wouldn’t give everything for just an hour with him. The fact that it was a prison for the worst criminals the Alliance had made the situation infinitely worst.

Finally arriving at the yard, the freezing wind smashed into him and his bony frame swayed like a flag pole. The bag was ripped off his head and his hands were uncuffed. Another prod and he was moving closer to the pile of rocks in the centre where a handful of prisoners were already working on them with rusty pickaxes. A primitive punishment, sure, but one that was brutal to a tortured body. A pickaxe was thrust into his hands and he was shoved towards the centre of the yard, just like almost everyday for the past two years.

The work was arduous, but he didn’t dare stop. He was already going too slow for the prisoners and they had made him aware with raps from their pickaxe handles – nothing overt but painful nonetheless. His hands began bleeding, blisters breaking open, but he didn’t dare make a noise of complaint. Around him, the prisoners called to one another, laughing and joking either about the world, women, or him. He longed to join in, to speak to someone over than the Captain or the-

Don’t think about it.

Two hours later a break was called, and Simon collapsed, separate from the rest of the men. He watched wearily as two guards came around with a bucket of water, letting the men dip dirty hands in to get a drink. The came over to him, grinning, and Simon tensed in anticipation.

“D’know Charlie, that Tam here.” He said, kicking his thigh. “Used to be a doctor?”

“Well no, Isaac, I did not.” He laughed mockingly, perfectly aware of who he was. He frowned; where were they going with this horseplay?

“And do you know, Charlie, what most important thing to a doctor is?”

“No, I do not.”

Both turned to him with evil smiles. Charlie put the bucket down and Isaac moved around behind him. Simon began struggling as hands lifted him to his knees. He began whimpering, pleading muffled by the gag.


His head was shoved into the bucket and he struggled furiously as his lungs began to burn. Head lifted out, he could hear the other prisoners shouting before he was put back in the water, kicks gradually growing weaker. His eyes were open in panic and he watched, delirious, as air bubbles escaped from his nose. He could feel his body growing limp and his eyes began to drift close…

“Wakey-wakey Doctor! Did you enjoy the bath?”

Harsh slapping to his face speeded his revival and he managed to get his body under control just as he was dropped to the floor and a voice in the distance shouted the end of the break.

Just before the guards moved away, Isaac leaned down and whispered in his ear:

“Work, doctor, is a first-rate medicine for any illness.”

His pickaxe was dropped beside him by another prisoner who ‘accidentally’ kicked him as he stepped over him. He hauled himself to his feet wearily and eyed the sharp end of the pick, voices in his head telling him that that right there, was the solution to his problem. Hunger filled his gaze and he felt himself pick up the pickaxe by the eye; he rested the sharp end over his heart and was about to push. He stopped himself. In the first six months of his imprisonment, perhaps he would have; he was all too aware of the consequences of trying to destroy alliance property. He went back to work. X

Hours later, after the work was called to an end, Simon was deposited back in his cell, boots and gag gone. The darkness covered him once more and he dragged himself forward with exhausted limbs. He had not been fed today, meaning that tomorrow must be the third day. He shuddered as memories bombarded him. The third day was always the most terrible. Desperate for some comfort, Simon wrapped his arms around himself in a mockery of an embrace. Bringing his knees up to his chest – ignoring the pain in doing so- he rested his head on his knees and began sobbing. There was nobody around to hear him. Two years of hell was bad; two years with the knowledge that nobody was coming was even worse. He shouldn’t complain though, it was his own fault; the crew of Serenity had just been the ones to turn him in.



You must log in to post comments.



Limbo Part 1: First Rate Medicine
Two years of hell was bad; two years with the knowledge that nobody was coming was even worse. He shouldn’t complain though, it was his own fault; the crew of Serenity had just been the ones to turn him in.