Vessels of existence, p.1
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       Vessels of Existence, p.1

           Jessica Cambrook
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Vessels of Existence
Vessels of Existence

  By Jessica Cambrook

  Copyright Jessica Cambrook 2012

  Cover Photograph: Aidan Jones


  My eyes open but it isn’t easy work. My head spins and hurts like I’ve been thrown full force against a brick wall. I reach up to rub the blurriness from my sight. My eyeballs feel dry like someone has rolled them through a desert of sand; they obviously haven’t been opened in a while. I must have been asleep for days. My joints hurt to move as I sit up. I’m wearing some kind of nightdress. The cramped, concrete room I’m in is just big enough to stretch out and I use a long object beside me to help my weak legs stand up. It’s a bed, though not soft like beds are supposed to be. It’s more like a table with a thin sheet on top. Not even a pillow. In my fuzzy mind I picture different kinds of beds but when I try to picture my own it’s like trying to see through a thick wall of fog. Impossible. Family? Friends? House? Nothing comes to mind. What’s going on? I desperately will my sight to work properly, try to wipe the dust away with my balled up fists. Squinting around like a pensioner I find a block of striped light. Striped light?

  Shuffling towards it, clutching the table-bed for balance, I reach my hands out to it to try and grasp it like hope. It remains elusive so I move even closer, blinking hard, regaining my eyesight and seeing a barrier of thick metal bars. Two of them are held together by entangled chain and a huge padlock. The other walls are concrete, and the light is artificial. There are no windows, and the bright, uncovered lighting in the cement corridor stings my eyes. The only thing I can see through the bars is another wall of concrete. My head is too wide to fit between the bars, so I can’t see if there’s anything either side of my room. I attempt to pull the bars apart to see if there’s an exit, systematically using all my strength on different pairs of bars. Nothing works. Shutting my eyes and willing myself not to panic, I calm my breathing down and focus on the current situation I find myself in. It’s easy to zone out of the situation and picture myself as someone else.

  A woman wakes up in a small concrete room that appears to be a cell. She has no recollection of anything, not even her name. Actually… something about ‘L’ sounds familiar. The woman is locked in and unable to get out. What should she do? It could be a misunderstanding; maybe her captors have the wrong person. It could be a police cell, but she can conjure an image of one of those for some reason and this foul smelling place wasn’t nearly as high-tech as those.

  Before I can think any more, a scream fills my ears, making my sore, fragile head burst with pain. Falling to my knees and needing nothing more than for it to shut up, my wish is granted as the scream stops abruptly, replaced by a sickly gurgling noise and then silence. Panic really takes hold when there’s nothing else to concentrate on but my memory loss and current predicament.

  Memory loss. I’ve heard something about that recently. What was it?

  “Psst!” An agitated hiss reaches my ears from someone I can’t see.

  “Hello? Is someone there?” I whisper back urgently. Why am I whispering? I don’t even know where I am but I can feel the tension in the air. The fear.

  “I saw you get hauled in here. I’m trapped too. How’s your thinker?” It’s a male voice and he sounds quite calm.

  “My thinker? Where am I and who are you?” I cry, feeling frustrated that the only person to talk to is an idiot.

  “Be quiet or you’ll get us both killed! They don’t usually mind whispering but if you’re going to scream like that they’ll just take you away now. I don’t remember anything, all I know is I’ve been here for a few months now and I’ve seen quite a few people come and go. Most go and don’t come back. My nickname’s Obby if you need me for anything. It used to be Gobby but after they beat the guy up who gave me the name, he spoke like he constantly had a sponge shoved in his pie hole. I thought Obby was funnier. I think I’ll name you Shiv, like shiver. You seem more scared than most people do when they first get here.” He chuckles. I don’t really see the funny side.

  “Where are we, Obby? Who are ‘they’?” My voice cracks with emotion, throat tightening and eyes threatening to allow tears to spill over. I need to stay strong or I’ll never survive this place. Wherever I am, I don’t want to be here. Obby might be my only hope... god forbid.

  “I don’t know. We’re all trapped in small cells, some for longer amounts of time than others. I met a man who was in here for two years before he got taken away. They are- Here they come, be quiet!” His voice becomes serious as footsteps come near. Closer and closer. I don’t know what to expect. Monsters?

  The man wears an apron covered in blood. Fresh, bright blood mingles with dark, congealed patches of red. The sight makes me retch, clutching at my empty and cramped stomach to keep it inside. Where the hell am I? The man has a snarling face, covered in scratches and scars. He walks past, gazing in each cell like he’s searching for something in particular. His cold eyes meet mine and he stops walking. Panicking, but somehow managing to keep my head, I keep staring back defiantly. His lip curls before he walks away, and my heart restarts.

  “That’s them then, is it?” I sigh, hoping Obby will hear me.

  “Yep.” Comes the reply. “They think they can play god keeping us in here but one day they’ll get what’s coming to them.” My mouth drops as a distant memory plays out in my mind.


  I’m not sure where I am or how long ago it is, but I feel confident as I walk through the streets of... I don’t know where it is, but it’s very modern and clean with security guards every few hundred feet and CCTV cameras constantly filming. The streets are pounded by the expensive shoes of so many business men and women. It’s an area of much wealth; that much is obvious. I reach my destination, a skyscraper that seems to be penetrating the clouds above, and I step inside to see hundreds of people milling around appearing to be chatting to themselves. I remember they’re all wearing their GoTos, tiny pea sized devices placed into one ear that can tell you where you have to be for meetings and at what time, it can read you books and play music while you walk, it can diarise memories, it can save photos taken by sight alone, it can call your friends or send a thought-text, now commonly known as TTs. I pop in my GoTo and smirk as I prepare to listen in on a ‘private meeting’ between two of the most famous actresses in the country. The GoTo will record the meeting, and I will finally hit the big time!


  “I... I’ve just remembered something about my old life.” I stammer, feeling relief course through me.

  “Don’t let them hear that. If someone’s memory comes back to them, guaranteed they are dead within twenty four hours. Did you remember anything important?” He asks.

  “No. Just something about my life before here. I think I was a reporter.” I think out loud, trying to claw at my memory for something that could help me save my life. “Do you know why we have no memories?”

  “Someone mentioned we’re drugged before we come in here.” He explains. “It must be long lasting, because only one person has ever recovered from it before. Jumpy told me about it, it was a man and he remembered his name and where he lived. Then while his friends watched, they took him away.”

  My stomach grumbles. “When do we eat?”

  “Whenever they want to let us eat.” He replies simply.

  More memories return.


  I listen to the sordid affair of the two actresses and send the recording through my GoTo to my boss at the news station. It will be played during the five o’clock news in everyone’s GoTos that day if it’s good enough. It will be good enough.

  I go home to my deluxe apartment with the glorious view of the river I used to play in as a child. The water is so pure and fresh I used to d
rink it and feel refreshed. Not so much anymore after the lower sectors tried to poison the water. The acid still hasn’t left the water yet. My maid comes in with a tray of HiFit, a healthy tea that contains all the vitamins needed every day. I sip at it and dismiss her, realising I don’t even know her name. Who cares? She was cheap at the auction, that was the important thing. For dinner I have chicken and bacon soufflé and a NoCal chocolate bar for dessert. At five I tune in on my GoTo to the news, but the two actresses aren’t featured.

  “Lawrence. Why wasn’t my piece in the five pm news?” I demand after the news finishes, feeling offended. Didn’t he know how much effort I’d gone to? I’d had to hire a maid to swap one of the actress’ maids to swap her GoTo with a bugged one.

  “It wasn’t appropriate.
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