"Feed them, my dear," she murmured. "Feed the children." The only thing seven teens hear.
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"Feed them, my dear," she murmured. "Feed the children."
That raspy voice echoed in my head. The same line every day and night. I heard the sounds of the others being fed. We were strapped to chairs, reclined back and heads boxed in so all we could see was the same patch of roof. I see the hands before the face. Fingers pry open my mouth and shove a long tube deep into my throat. I gag like the others before me, tears run down the sides of my face and pool in my ears. I feel the slop gushing down the tube, filling my already expanded stomach. The man’s face peers down at me, a sneer on his lips. He is checking to make sure I can’t push the tube out of my mouth as he pours into the funnel.
Bits of the slop splash out and cover my face, landing in my eyes and hair. The stench of the food is horrid. I am glad I don’t actually know what it is. The smell of the food is stronger than that of us. Being strapped down there is nothing else to do but soil ourselves. I held my bladder for as long as I could, almost three days, which was longer than the other two I had been brought in with. Once that happened our clothes were removed and a scratchy sheet was tugged over our bodies. The chairs are hard plastic with a hole in the bottom cut out for our soilings to fall through. I used to cry every time my bodily functions kicked in. Now I just let it happen.
Twice a day we are subjected to this. Me and six others. We used to try and keep each other strong by talking to one another but that has all but dwindled away. I remember not that long ago one of us were taken then replaced by another. Our names that our parents lovingly gave us now forgotten and replaced with names that the voices chose for us. No, not names, numbers. We were known as nothing more than numbers, and The Children. The youngest of our group is thirteen. The oldest is seventeen. They prefer teens, but still call us children. Finally the tube is pulled from my throat and mouth and I hear the man move to the next child.
My stomach churns. Too much had been forced into me. I feel it rising up my esophagus and try to swallow it back down. The taste of stomach acid burns the back of my throat. I squeeze my eyes closed and hum softly to myself, trying not to listen to the others who haven’t been successful in swallowing their food back down. I hum louder to try and drown out the noise of number two next to me. I can hear them over my humming. Loud sobs burst forth between the sounds of vomit. I can hear it landing on them and the floor. I turn my head away as much as possible but to no avail, there is barely a half inch either side of my head.
I swallow again and again. I think I have it under control now. The others begin to quiet. Sleep is the only escape we get. Many dreams of the police finding us. Or our parents, or anyone. I release my bladder and listen to the echo on the stone floor beneath me. The others will follow suit soon. We can’t help it. The slop has a lot of water in it. I don’t think about how messy we are any more or if we have contracted any diseases. The only thought besides escape is that of death. Many of us would rather die than live like this. I hear our newest member trying to break their bonds again. They sob loudly with each tug.
The rest of us have tried in vain to do that too. We know it will never happen, but secretly we still have the hope that it might. Then they could set the rest of us free. We could run to the police and stop it from happening to another child, no, teen. We are teens, not children. The woman’s voice seems to laugh in my head whenever I think of escape or anything happy. But I know she is laughing at the image of seven obese teens trying to run. Seven children who have not been on their feet for several months. We would take three steps before we had a cardiac arrest or our limbs just simply wouldn’t carry us any further than the door.
The tiny window, the only natural light we saw was too high and too small for us to get through. The man and woman never locked the door. They knew we wouldn’t escape. None of us had. Only one of us had been taken. And that was because the old couple had come and gotten them. But he had been replaced just a few days later. We had all talked for many hours after he had been taken. Discussing what was to become of him, of us. Our voices were rough from the tube being shoved down our throats. One of us suggested that perhaps we were being fattened up to be eaten. Like in Hansel and Gretel.
But unfortunately our captives were not a blind witch. They could see us, at least the man could. I hadn’t seen the woman’s face, just heard her voice. And the man I had only seen his face, not heard his voice. One of the others said maybe the man was like the guy from Psycho. And the more I thought of it the more the two comments seemed to fit together and make sense. I closed my eyes finally and hoped; just like every other day that this was just a bad nightmare and that in the morning I would wake up and be home.