Standing takes to much energy, so I sit in the corner. I don’t want to go back to my bunk and expose myself unnecessarily to the fat, black bedbugs. Anyway, the cool stone feels more comfortable at the present moment than the rough sheets. I think I might be feverish.
I try to sleep, but I cannot. My head is pounding, and there are lights dancing at the edges of my vision. When my sister has these symptoms, she knows they predict a migraine. I do not get migraines. Things that trigger migraines in my sister—overexposure to prolonged loud sounds or bright, especially flickering, light, or accidental ingestion of some mild toxins, or certain unrelated illnesses—instead aggravate my epilepsy.
The door flies open and clangs against the wall. “Schizo! Spazfairy!” The harsh voice of the guard grates in my ears. “Up and out, both of you! Step to it!”
Weakly, I get to my feet again and stumble to the door. Simon does not move. Did I mention that he never follows orders? The guard—whom I shall refer to as the Vulture on account of his bald, reddish, wrinkly-skinned head (not to mention the ever-present odor of rotting meat that follows him like a faithful friend)—takes hold of my collar so I won’t be tempted to make an escape through the open door, drags me toward the bunk as he seeks out his target, seizes a handful of Simon’s tunic, and with a quick jerk of his hand, throws my cellmate to the ground. Simon cries out, and I wince in empathy.
The Vulture flaps his hand about as if his assault upon Simon has injured it. “Damn, you, Schizo!”
Simon struggles, moaning, to his feet; apparently he moves too slowly for the Vulture’s liking, and the guard kicks him, swearing viciously. I bare my teeth at the monster in a feral manner, but he isn’t looking at me and thus doesn’t receive my unspoken threat. Not that I could do anything to follow up my gesture: I am certainly not intimidating, and at the moment, I am having trouble with the simple act of standing. My head is spinning like a frictionless wheel and the floor is undulating beneath my feet like waves on the sea. Blackness eats away at my vision.
The Vulture tugs me forward. “Come on, little fairy boy, we’re leaving.”
I stagger along behind him as he pulls Simon and me down the corridor. My feet feel foreign to my body, and my limbs and face have gone cold and tingly. I know I can’t go on like this for much longer. I’m going to throw up, have a seizure, or both. I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. I need to lie down a while and rest. Tears well up in my eyes, making the world swim in front of me. I blink and they run down my face, cutting twin paths through the grime on my cheeks.
The guard notices. “Leave off it, you girl!”
But I barely hear him. I am falling. The floor slams into me, and everything goes dark.