Not all prizes are what you expect
THE LUCK OF THE DRAW
Last year I took what was probably the most memorable vacation I’ve ever had. And I didn’t even have to pay for it.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I guess I’ll be paying for it for the rest of my life.
Let me start from the beginning.
I’m a gambler. I love to play poker, the lottery, sweepstakes, anything. And if it’s free to play, so much the better. The problem is I rarely win, but that doesn’t keep me from trying.
Which is how I ended up here.
Apparently, sometime last year I entered a drawing. Not unusual for me; I was always filling out my name, address and phone number wherever and whenever I could. Most of the time I wouldn’t even pay attention to what the prize was. So when I received a phone call one day from some lady telling me that I was one of the lucky winners who had won an all expense paid trip to Tahiti for a week, I was a little shocked. Then she told me I would be getting a plane ticket in the mail in the next day or two. But (of course, there had to be a ‘but’) I would have to use the ticket within seven days or I’d forfeit my prize.
I admit I was a little skeptical about this at first, but considering my losing record I figured it was about time I won something. I was still having my doubts until I opened my mailbox the next morning and found my first class ticket with a note from an unknown airline saying it had to be used within the week.
I had some sick days saved up, and after informing my boss of my good luck, I packed up my bags and was on a small twin engine plane the next morning.
At last, I thought. Lady Luck was finally shining down on me. And for the first time in my life I actually felt lucky.
There was maybe thirty of us on that plane, and our first clue that something was amiss was when we landed on a remote runway on an island that looked like a giant ape should have been living there. When the plane taxied to a stop and there was no sign of an airport, we began to ask questions.
We were ‘answered’ by about fifteen men in army fatigues and carrying automatic machine guns. They told us to get off the plane and keep to ourselves. Any questions would be answered “all in due time.”
The commandos, for that’s what they appeared to be, marched us onto a trail and into the thick undergrowth of the jungle for about a mile until we came upon a featureless two story brick building. I don’t know about the others, but I was suddenly reminded of that Jim Jones guy and his cult followers who committed suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.
Ha! Now that I’m writing this I look back at that and think they probably got off lucky, considering what we’ve been going through for these last seven months.
For the next two days we were locked up in small individual rooms throughout this compound and underwent questions about our health, history, and family. Whenever we asked our own questions we were simply told that we were part of a special government research program, and even though it looked like we were being held hostage, that was certainly not the case.
“You’re doing your country a great service,” was what Dr. Taylor told me. And after they completed their research, we’d be going on the real vacation. No worries. No problems. It was all taken care of.
The funny thing is that some of us believe this line of crock. I know Jill Mathews does. She’s more optimistic about this than the rest of us. I haven’t seen her for the last month, though. In fact, there seems to be fewer and fewer of us who meet out in the quad on the days we’re allowed out for our one hour of exercise.
Don’t think I’m stupid. I have a good idea of what’s happening on this island. Joseph Leber says he heard that they’re using us for Guinea pigs in an attempt to find a vaccine for some terrorist chemical weapon they stumbled across. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say. All is I know is what I see for myself, and that isn’t much.
What I have seen is discolored skin and gaunt faces. Not real bad. They’re feeding us good, but it still looks like some of us aren’t getting enough to eat. And then as soon as I start to notice these things, those fellow ‘vacationers’ seem to disappear.
Most of the time we’re locked in our rooms. We’re allowed reading material and any movies we want to watch, but that’s about it. It’s solitary confinement, plain and simple.
Sometimes they take us one by one into an office (never the same one, and never the same doctor) and ask us how we’re doing, mentally and physically. I always tell them I know what’s going on, and then they scribble some notes down on their pads and tell me that I don’t know what’s going on, and I shouldn’t be worried.
Yesterday I asked Dr. Browning for the hundredth time when we could go home.
“Any day now,” he said with the phoniest smile I’ve ever seen. Then I was taken back to my room.
I know this will probably never be read, but I’m writing it just in case this ever does make it out.
I’ll write some more tomorrow.
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I just tried to eat breakfast, but couldn’t keep it down. And there’s a small bruise on my left shoulder.
Not sure where it came from.
I'm going to lie down. Not feeling so well this morning. I’ll write some more when I wake up.