The Pit

[The Pit, 7,132 Words, Genre: Post Apocalyptic]

I.

It had been two hundred and twenty-seven years since the nuclear holocaust. After the holocaust, there were genetic mutations within the human genome that had occurred because of the nuclear holocaust. Creatures; of a human and animal hybrid had walked the Earth and had caused chaos. Only ten years ago had that all begun to change with the discovery of the super-drug CBX-21. The drug was a miracle given the fact of the limited resources that the medical scientists were working with. And because of that medical breakthrough, humans and mutants were now living peacefully together in communities. The communities were mostly made up of desert sanctuaries. Areas that hadn’t been blasted to hell during the nuclear holocaust all that time ago. The desert communities were now investigating the possibility of sending their people to the areas that had once been major cities. Testing out if the background radiation levels were habitable for humans. It was risky, but they were using the mutants to do the radiation readings of the areas and all of this had become possible by the miracle that was CBX-21.

Manny and his family were attending the medical center so that they could all receive their weekly injection of CBX-21. His family was made up of his son, Xander, and his wife, Sherry. They all possessed a mutation that caused them to have some form of disfiguration. Each of them was different in some way. Manny’s right hand was the cause of the mutation. Instead of a hand he had what appeared to be a tentacle. Like that of an octopus, except instead of suckers as an ordinary octopus’s tentacle would possess. On the palm or inside of the tentacle, there were about sixteen sea urchins lined up the side of the tentacle. Each one possessing some form of independence, however, still biologically attached to the tentacle. Xander’s mutation was similar to his fathers’. Except instead of his hand, both of his feet were tentacles with the sea urchins existing on the sole of his feet, or on the inside of the tentacles. Just like that of an octopus, each of the limbs had a miniature brain to control movement of the limbs. They weren’t exactly miniature brains, more like a cluster of nerve cells that helped control the movement of the tentacle limbs. Sherry’s mutation was different altogether. She still possessed the same type of genes, which originated from an octopus, but her mutation was present in her mouth. For octopuses, the mouth exists at the bottom of their head, between the tentacles. Sherry’s mouth was at the bottom of her lower back, just above her buttocks. And in the place where her regular mouth would be, that area was skinned over.

Xander was sitting in a seat in the doctor’s office, while the doctor prepared the syringe filled with CBX-21. He was complaining about the prospect of the needle, “Dad! I hate needles, why do we have to do this every week?”

Manny attempted to calm him, “It’s for your own benefit son, if we don’t take the drugs, they won’t let us be part of their community. It’s just something we have to do.”

The doctor, Calvin Cammerus, attempted to explain further, “You don’t know what the drugs do, do you son?”

Xander looked at him and then shook his head, “No, sir.”

“CBX-21 was a miracle. What the drug does is suppresses the mutant gene within a mutant’s DNA and allows for the human part of the mutant to gain control of any urges that the mutant part of him would otherwise force him into extreme behaviours.”

“What does that mean?” Xander asked.

“It means,” Doctor Cammerus explained in lament terms, “that it allows you to control yourself.” The doctor finished preparing the needle and then with a quick jab to Xander’s upper forearm, it was finished. “There you go son, not so bad now, is it?”

Xander rubbed his upper forearm and omitted, “I suppose so…”

“Good, now you and your mother go and wait in the waiting room. There’s something that I need to talk to your father about.”

And so Xander got down from his chair and Sherry, placing both hands on his shoulders, guided him outside to the waiting room. Manny took the seat where his son previously sat and waited for doctor Cammerus to prepare another syringe for his own dose of CBX-21. “So some of the larger cities are habitable and some of them aren’t. Most of them are filled with debris, but there’s lots of stuff there that we could use. Stuff that we could bring back to town and make use of.” Manny was explaining the latest series of expeditions into the larger cities.

“That’s good Manny, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Oh, really? What is it that you wanted to talk about?”

“How are you and your family coping, I know it mustn’t be easy for you and them. There are still quite a few tensions in the air concerning what’s going on with the mutant co-dependency. I know a lot of people don’t understand. I’m really asking about your family’s own mental health here and how you’re getting along in the community.”

Manny sighed, “You really want to talk about that sort of stuff, do you?”

“Yes,” Doctor Cammerus reaffirmed, “Yes, I do.”

“Well, it isn’t easy. I get paid well enough for the expeditions into the cities. But that stuff isn’t all the time. The only job that they’ll let me have otherwise is in the junkyard. And that doesn’t pay very well. I don’t have any friends and either does my wife. But Xander seems to be getting along well enough at school. With shoes, the other children hardly take note of his mutation. There’s this one arsehole who gives me shit whenever I try and talk to other people. He seems to have a problem with me socializing with the rest of the community. The guys at the junkyard stick up for me sometimes, but they’re not perfect either. They make all sorts of jokes that irritate me. But I let it go; boys will be boys, that sort of stuff.”

“It must be hard…”

“It is, it really is.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Doctor Cammerus asked.

“Okay, fine,” Manny was frustrated, “You want me to talk about it. I’ll talk about it. The other day when I didn’t have work, I couldn’t even manage to pull myself out of bed. I kept on praying for death. Not my death, but the death of everyone else. I lay there dreaming, thinking about all of the punishments that I would inflict upon those arseholes who keep on giving me shit. I just lay there praying for God, the devil, anybody to do something about it. All of this shit that everyone keeps on putting me and my family through. And then I realized, that if I went out and acted on these thoughts, you know what everyone would say? The mutants are at it again, CBX-21 is a failure and does nothing. I get pissed off all of the time and I know it’s not the mutant part of me talking, no, that’s the human part. Even though my mutant genes may act out, the worst animal in the animal kingdom is the human being. They’re all cunts, they really are!” And then Manny exhaled. Finally feeling relieved that he could get it all off of his chest.

Doctor Cammerus nodded his head, “Yes, I know it must be difficult for you. You just have to keep on reminding yourself that although some people feel aggravated by the mutant community, that’s not everyone. There are a lot of good people in this town who want to help you, who know it’s all for the greater good.”

“I understand, thank you for giving me the chance to vent.” And as Manny sat there, he didn’t even realize that Doctor Cammerus had already administered the dose of CBX-21 and injected the drug into Manny’s upper forearm.

“Manny, if you ever need somebody to talk to, just give me a call here at the clinic, okay?”

“Yes, I’ll try and remember that.” Manny rubbed his upper forearm that felt itchy through the latest injection. Manny realized that the session was over and thanked Doctor Cammerus, then said, “See you next week.” Manny picked up his jacket and exited the clinic room. His wife and son were waiting in the waiting room amongst other mutants who were waiting for their weekly injection. Although there were a lot of mutants living in the community, the majority were humans, or those who possessed one hundred percent human DNA. Doctor Cammerus was well known to the mutant community and the mutants heralded him as a form of saint. He was always doing things for them. Ensuring that they were equally represented through the rest of the community and their voices were heard. All in all, there were about fifty mutants living in the town. The town had a population of about five thousand, so they were greatly outnumbered. But gradually things were starting to change. People were seeing their uses in their day-to-day tasks. And a lot of those changes that had occurred were thanks to Doctor Cammerus.

Manny was filled with hope and as he looked at his son, sitting down in one of the seats in the waiting room, he realized something. His life wouldn’t be like Mannys’, his life would be better. People would be grateful to have him around. He was already making friends at school. Perhaps he could live a normal life, or at the very least semi-normal. Manny wasn’t naïve enough to think that things could ever change that drastically where his son would be considered normal. But they’d treat him better than Manny had ever been, of that much, he was sure.

“All done?” Xander asked his father.

“All done.” Manny confirmed.

They all made sure they had their things and went outside. The community was part of the desert and there was a dust storm category three outside. Category three was minimal, they didn’t have to wait inside. Manny covered his eyes and face with a scarf so that he didn’t get any dust in his face or eyes. His son followed his lead at the gesture and then they began the walk home. It was only one kilometer from their dwellings to the medical center. Other people were driving around on motorbikes and scooters, making their way to various venues around the town. There were a few four wheeler bikes, they weren’t like the cars before the nuclear fallout. Their layout was simple, they didn’t have the design or style of vehicles from that time. They were skeletons compared to those types of cars. Possessing the bare necessities to remain functional. They didn’t travel well in the dust storms and were expensive considering the community based currency that they were using. Manny and his family didn’t own one.

Other pedestrians would sometimes stop and point. Mainly at his wife and the fact that she didn’t have a visible mouth. She had a mouth, but it was on her lower back. She couldn’t talk out of it and could only make guttural sounds through that orifice. She communicated by a series of sign language that they had developed in an effort to communicate between one another. That was for simple requests, for anything more complex, she would have to write it down.

Manny and his family ignored the onlookers and continued making their way to their home. When they got home, they prepared their saltwater baths that they would have to make use of to keep their mutations fresh and free of disease. Manny’s son had a foot spa where he rested his feet in saltwater. Manny had a bucket where he would rest his hand/tentacle. His wife was more complex, they had to fill an entire bathtub with saltwater for her. She would sit in the thing and the mouth would oxidize itself in the water. She still breathed oxygen through that mouth, but if they didn’t have the saltwater to lubricate their different mutations, the different limbs and orifices would probably dry up and become dead flesh. They had to do this once a day, every day, for at least half an hour to ensure those parts of themselves were preserved.

II.

It was another day. And Manny was working at the junkyard. As Sherry prepared Xander for another day at school, Manny was preparing his own meal for the work day. He was making himself a sandwich with egg and beetroot. Beetroot was immensely popular through the community and one of the most successful vegetables in the small farming industry that they had. They grew other vegetables too, but for some reason beetroot did particularly well after the nuclear fallout. And because it was plentiful and easily grown in the area that they lived, it became immensely popular.

Manny was out the door before his wife and son. He quickly gave his wife a kiss on the cheek and then made sure to tell his son to behave himself at school and study hard. He then got on his bicycle and then started riding the eight kilometres to the junkyard that lay on the outskirts of the town. He liked riding his bicycle, sometimes he would ride it for leisure on the weekends. Just for something to do, to get himself outside of the house and away from family matters. An activity that he indulged in to clear his mind and get some exercise.

When he arrived at the junkyard the other fellows were already there. They were all sitting around the work station, indulging in an early morning coffee and talking about recent events in the community. Manny walked in and greeted them all, “Morning, morning, what’s the latest?”

Jason, the supervisor, looked up from his tablet. He was busy reading the latest series of news headlines organized by the small government of the community, “They say there’s gear in the larger cities. Guns and ammunition. They’re planning on bringing some of that stuff back here, is that true?”

“There’s all sorts of stuff in the cities. I guess some of the weapons would be preserved in military barracks or police headquarters.”

“Awesome… Then we can use it to take care of some of the mutants in no man’s land.”

Manny frowned, before Kevin corrected the sentiment, “Not the human hybrids mate. The crazy mutants, the snake-spiders and the dangerous ones. Those evil motherfuckers out in no man’s land.”

“Yeah…” Manny thought about it, “I guess they’re a problem. So what are we doing today?”

“More dismantlin’” Jason replied.

“Dismantlin’, dismantlin’, dismantlin’, is there any farkin’ thing else we do around here?” It was Brett, Brett always took up an attitude with Manny and despite Manny’s best to ignore the comments he made, Brett was relentless in his antagonisms.

After about half an hour of banter and the planning of the day’s events, Manny and the others set about their work. There was a semi-trailer truck that they had to dismantle. To break down and turn it into scrap metal. They went about their work with electric saws and crowbars. Manny had a crowbar and was busy breaking down the back part of the semi-trailer. It took a lot of beating and physical exertion to achieve anything with the limited equipment that they had. But over time, they slowly made progress. At one point during one of Manny’s backswings with the crowbar, Brett was walking behind him and almost copped a blow to the head.

“Jesus Christ yar’ farkin’ mutant! Watch where you swing that thing or we’ll throw you in the pit!”

Manny did the best that he could to ignore the comment. But he could not help shake the feelings of morbidity whenever somebody brought up the pit. The pit was one of those things that the human hybrid mutants loathed to hear. It was a torture created by the one hundred per cent humans to throw their hybrid counterparts into as a form of fatal punishment. It used to happen a lot before the invention of CBX-21, but it hadn’t been made use of for the last decade. Every time Manny thought of the pit, he felt suicidal. If this is the past that the mutants had with their human counterparts, what sort of future could there be? He thought of his son and suppressed any feelings of anger that he had towards Brett because of the comment.

It was true, before the invention of CBX-21, mutant hybrids used to attack their human counterparts. They were always at war with one another. Some of the mutant hybrids were extremely dangerous and used to give into their bestial ways. They would savage and torture humans. Dragging them out to no man’s land and having their way. But those times were in the past. The future would be different. Better for both types.

They kept on working until half past one in the afternoon. At that point they took a break for lunch. Brett, Kevin, Jason and Manny all sat in the work room and ate their meals with little conversation. Manny sat in silence, eating his beetroot and egg sandwich. After eating their meals Brett once again attempted to agitate Manny, “Do you remember the pit do ya? Those were good times. Good times for all.”

Brett continued to throw comments about the pit in Manny’s direction and Manny ignored him. Kevin had to step in and tell Brett, “Hey, that’s enough. We’re all friends here. We work together now. A better future for us all, right Manny?”

Manny grunted in agreement. They then set back about the work of dismantling the semi-trailer. They had already scrapped what they could of the wreckage at the back end. They then set about the delicate part, which was dismantling the front end and salvaging engine parts that the local engineers could use in the construction of new vehicles. Jason did the technical dismantling of the different parts of the engine. With spanner in hand, he made short work of the task and handed out the smaller parts to the others. The others took the separate pieces, Kevin made the qualification on the different parts that they could and couldn’t use. They then separated them into two different piles. The work was easy enough, but Manny couldn’t help but think of thoughts of brutality towards Brett.

He had to keep on suppressing those feelings and remind himself, just as Doctor Cammerus had stated, ‘There’s a lot of good people out there who know it’s for the greater good.’ They kept on working on dismantling the semi-trailer’s engine. After four more hours of work, they were complete in their tasks for the day and packed up all of their equipment.

Manny hung around outside the office for a while. He had to keep on reminding himself of three things, ‘Things will get better’, ‘They were only words’, and, ‘If he did act out, he would be proving them right’. He sat around and stared at the clouds in the sky. There was a slight breeze, but it wasn’t like yesterday. There was no dust storm of any type. Relatively, it was a perfect day. He got on his bicycle and started riding home.

After the eight kilometer bike ride, he arrived to an empty home. He wondered where Sherry and Xander could be. But, not wanting to worry himself, he prepared his bucket of saltwater. Then, grabbing a homebrewed beer, he sat down and rested his tentacle in the saltwater. He drank his beer and rested his feet. He looked at his favourite painting on the wall. It was a portrait of the scientist who had created CBX-21, shaking hands with a mutant who had hooved feet. The mutant’s name was Pan, he was named that in a tribute to the old God of long forgotten times. Pan and the scientist had created a truce between human mutant hybrids and humans. It had been revolutionary. ‘And to think, it was only ten years ago…’ Manny thought. The truce had held up well, there had been shaky moments, but for the vast majority of the time everything was fine.

Manny sat there, with his tentacle in the saltwater, when Sherry came storming into the household. By her actions and her body movement, she was quite irate. She kept on quickly making hand signals. Manny couldn’t catch any of it. “Wait, slow down, slow down.”

Sherry calmed herself and then made the hand signals that indicated that there was an emergency and that it involved their son. At that Manny got up out of his seat and found a pen and a piece of paper. Then handed it over to Sherry and waited for what she would write. She wrote, ‘Our son has been in an accident. He’s in the hospital.’

From that point, Manny picked up all of his necessities and they quickly travelled to the emergency section of the community hospital. There, waiting in a room was his son, Xander, he was unconscious and in a bed. Hooked up to life support systems that were keeping him alive. Manny got the story out of one of the doctors that was on duty.

Xander had been playing in the schoolyard when a bunch of schoolchildren had cornered him and launched a vicious attack on his person. Essentially, they had lynched him. He was discovered in the playground unconscious when some of the other schoolchildren had reported the incident to their teachers. It had all started when he had to take off his shoes in a school meditation exercise and the other children, the ones who had lynched him, realized that he was a mutant.

Both Manny and Sherry were beyond all words, upset. They embraced one another and Manny contended, “Whoever did this, I’ll bring them to justice. That you can be sure of. You just make sure that his tentacles are bathed in saltwater and that nothing else goes wrong in their care.” Manny began yelling at the hospital staff, “You see! This is what we have to put up with! All of us mutants, living amongst you, trying to make our way in the world and this is what happens!”

One of the nurses went to calm him down and sat him down in a seat. They offered him some prescription valium so that it would help with his agitated state of mind. He took it and as the drugs took effect, he started apologizing, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t get angry with all of you. But you can understand why I’m upset, can’t you?”

The nurse replied, “Absolutely.”

“So what happens from here? How do we punish the little shits that did this to my son?”

The doctor who had explained what had happened answered the question, “Well, that’s the bad part.”

“The bad part! What the fark do you mean, ‘that’s the bad part’? My son is comatose! Isn’t that bad enough?”

The nurse whispered something in the doctor’s ear. The doctor responded to the nurse by saying, “Look, I have to tell him, alright? We have to make sure he’s aware.” The doctor then turned to Manny and stated the position, “The schoolchildren will be suspended by the school, but there’s nothing that you can do about it. Legally or otherwise. They’re only children. I’m sorry this has happened to your child, but the case remains that they are children and can’t be prosecuted in any other way.”

The drugs had made Manny weary, “What? What does that mean?”

“Essentially, there’s nothing you can do.”

And upon this realization, Manny had another outburst, “There’s nothing that I can do! Fark you there’s nothing that I can do! I’ll show you what I can do!” Manny then got up and stormed outside of the hospital. With a plan in mind, he went to do what he thought needed to be done. Sherry was left in the hospital, looking after their son while her husband had gone AWAL.

The doctors then asked Sherry a series of questions. About her son and about her husband. In concerns to her husband, she requested that Doctor Cammerus at the medical clinic be contacted, so that he could see that her husband didn’t do anything rash. She wrote it all down for the hospital staff and then they set about their work, preparing the saltwater for Xander’s tentacle feet and calling Doctor Cammerus.

III.

Manny had hot-wired a motorbike that rested near the grounds of the hospital. He remembered how doing it from his teenage years, causing trouble and turmoil to the human community before the invention of CBX-21. All he had to do was open up one of the panels of the bike and rub two wires together to get the ignition going and then it was right to ride. He rode the motorcycle away from the hospital and towards Xander’s teacher’s home. He remembered the address because the teacher and Sherry were quite friendly with one another.

When he arrived at the teacher’s home, he was welcomed into her household. He had questions about the incident, namely, which children were involved. Manny and the teacher sat in the comfort of her lounge room as Manny asked his questions.

“Do you know who was involved?” Manny asked.

“Not every one of them, but we have a fair idea.” The teacher replied.

“Can you tell me who they were?”

“Why? What are you going to do?”

“I’m just going to speak to their parents. See if they can’t understand the severity of the situation, see if we can’t organize some form of compensation.”

“Compensation?” The teacher had an inquisitive look on her face.

“Yes, there are going to be hospital bills and all sorts of things. Hopefully Xander will pull through, but we don’t have all the money in the world. You understand?”

“Yes, completely. Look, I don’t know all of the children involved. But I do know who the ringleader would have been.”

“Who was it?” Manny asked.

“It would have been Spencer.”

“Do you know where he lives? Where his parents live?”

Reluctantly the teacher handed over the details of the child’s abode. It was within the area. Manny thanked the teacher for the information and her hospitality. He then exited her home and got back on the motorcycle. Making his way to the child’s home. When he got there he was appalled at the lack of upkeep of the home. There was rubbish and broken items strewn through the front of the place. It was a mess compared to all of the other homes in the area.

Manny dismounted the motorcycle and then went to knock on the front door of the house. He stood there waiting for several minutes before the door was answered. And it was answered by a child, one with light brown hair and freckles covering his face.

Manny looked down at the child, making sure that his tentacle hand could not be seen, “You must be Spencer.”

“Yes, sir.” The boy answered.

“Is your father around? I wish to have a word.”

“Dad!” Spencer called out, “Someone here wants to speak to ya’!”

From Manny position, he could see through to the hallway. There, he could see a man who resembled his son, wheel himself out into view sitting upon a wheelchair. As the two of them made eye contact with one another, the disabled man remarked, “It’s the bloody mutant’s father. Come to have a word, has he?” The man wheeled his wheelchair out towards the front door. Spencer, the boy, stepped aside to make way for his father. When he arrived at the front door, the man remarked, “What is that you want to talk about?”

Manny adjusted himself to the circumstance of the situation, some of his initial anger dissipated at the sight of the cripple. “Yes, I am the mutant’s father. I wanted to talk to you about what your son did to my son.”

“I see and what were you hoping the outcome of that talk would be?”

“Well, I was hoping that there would be some form of compensation involved. Or at the very least you could teach your boy a lesson about respecting the mutant community.”

“Respecting the mutant community!?” The man spat out the words, “If it weren’t for the mutant community, I wouldn’t be bloody well in this chair. Your kind crippled me all that time ago and my boy decided to cripple your son as a form of compensation. How the bloody hell do you like that for compensation you freak!?”

“Look, I understand that it must be very difficult for you. Especially given your condition. But we must all move forward in this endeavour so mutants and humans can live and work together peacefully. At the very least you should discipline and punish your son for what he’s done.”

“Punish him? Are you nuts!? I love that he beat the crap out of your son.” The man reached over and patted his son on the head, proclaiming, “He’s a good boy.”

That is when Manny lost his temper. The sheer nerve of the action caused Manny to mentally lose it. He reached out with his tentacle hand, and with his tentacle, covered the man’s mouth and nose so that he couldn’t breathe. The man reached up and attempted to pull Manny’s tentacle away, but with what little strength he had, he couldn’t manage to release the hold Manny had upon him. Spencer, the boy, attempted to kick out and away at Manny, but Manny fought him off with his free hand. All the while Manny reiterated the same statement over and over again as he strangled the man, “I’ll bloody well teach you to respect the mutant community you fark!” And again, “I’ll bloody well teach you to respect the mutant community!” And again, “I’ll bloody well…” Until the man could fight no longer, he ceased breathing and the light faded from his eyes. Spencer began to cry and that’s when Manny released his hold on the man’s airways. He turned around and left the boy grieving over his newly deceased father.

Manny got on the motorcycle and rode off into the night. Unsure of what he intended to do next. Manny knew that the rest of the community would hear of this incident and they would all cry foul. What he needed was a place where he could hide away, somewhere where people wouldn’t expect to find him. The only thought that came to mind was that of the junkyard. So he rode the motorcycle to his workplace. Parking the motorcycle under cover, he went and found himself a hiding place amongst the junk.

Manny sat on an old refrigerator that was no longer working and turned over for scrap metal. He sat and waited for his thoughts to form and process the information of what he had just done. He stared up at the moon that lay in the sky, with the stars in the night and relaxed himself. He attempted to tell himself that everything was going to be fine, that people would understand his actions and he’d get a lifetime prison sentence. That was the best that he could hope for. Xander and Sherry would have to make do in the world without him. But they would still be able to visit him in the prison on the weekends. Then he slapped himself for being so stupid. That was the best that he could hope for? He had been an idiot, what he had just done would set the mutant community back several years in its diplomacy. Years of peaceful relations at the expense of a critical reception. And what had he done? He had set them back at square zero. What a fool he had been.

He started pacing back and forth in the junkyard, with the moonlight shining down upon him. He started calling himself names. Like: “Idiot!”; “Imbecile!”, and; “Moron!” He was in the middle of these self-belittling exercises when he heard noise coming from the entrance of the junkyard. It was the noise of half a dozen angry voices. One of which he recognized. Brett’s voice.

“He’s in here! The mutant freak’s in here!”

Manny panicked and looked for a place that he could hide. He found it in the semi-trailer that they had been dismantling the previous day. He curled himself into a ball within the vehicle’s wreckage. And lowered his breath, so that any noise that he made was minimal. He heard the noise of the mob pass by where he lay and hoped that they wouldn’t find him. But it was no good. Brett knew where to look. He called out to the others.

“He’ll be in here for sure, that bastard freak!”

And then he felt the clutches of their hands reach in and grab the collar of his shirt and pull him out of the semi-trailer’s wreckage. There were about eight of them, and they quickly contained him so that he couldn’t fight back. Binding his arms and legs in rope so that he couldn’t lash out. After they had him firmly bound, they lifted him over their shoulders and carried him out to a four-wheeler bike. Throwing him in the back, in a container amongst other miscellaneous items. Then they started to drive to an unknown location with other vehicles trailing after them to ensure that he didn’t escape.

The driver of the vehicle called in to someone on a handheld transceiver, “Yeah, we got him. Gather everyone up. You know where.”

As they drove, Manny wriggled his head to try to get a visual of where they were going. As he maneuvered himself around, he saw the passing terrain and housing. They were making their way southeast. Then it occurred to Manny that there was only one place that they could be going. The pit. Brett had threatened this. They had all made jokes about this. And now they were going to do it. A shiver ran down Manny’s spine. It was every mutant’s worst nightmare. As he jostled around in the back of the vehicle, going over bumps and cracks on the road’s surface, there was nothing he could do about it. He could pray, he supposed, but he had never been religious in any sense of the word. Except for the prayers sent in anger, he hardly had a relationship with God. So why should he start finding God now?

After half an hour of driving over rough terrain and rough roads, they finally arrived at their location. The pit had been sanctioned off and the passengers of the other vehicles following them had to cut through some of the barriers and red tape that had been set up to close the area down. Then they hauled him off towards the direction of the pit. He tried calling out for help, if there was ever any help to be found. But his screams fell on deaf ears. All they did was irritate those around him.

They lit the area up with the floodlights that had been set up around the facility. Despite the dust and cobwebs, they were still of working order. They dumped him next to the entrance of the pit. Brett came over with a steel bar in hand.

“You bastard! There will be ramifications for what you’re doing now!” Manny screamed at him.

“Ramifications? Well, you should have thought about that before you murdered one of us you freak.” He paused for a moment, “It will be a while before the others get here and we don’t want you making any more noise. We’re going to have us a show, just like in the old times.” And then Brett struck Manny on the head with the steel bar that he had been carrying. Rendering Manny unconscious.

IV.

When Manny woke up, there was a trickle of dried blood to the left side of his head, and he was unbound. He stood up from his feet confused as to where he was. Then, looking around, it all came back to him. They had taken him to the pit. The floodlights bore down upon him and he could make out the shadows standing all around him. Brett had promised a crowd and a crowd had gathered. They were all shouting different things at him. Nothing that he could make out.

The pit was reminiscent of a swimming pool. It was four meters deep and at the edge stood a diving board. There were seats gathered around the pit where people could sit and watch the spectacle. It was all made up of sand and dust. Inside the pit was the scary part. The floodlights blinded Manny from looking on at any of the spectators. He looked behind him. There was Brett with a four foot spear.

And as the spectators all shouted different things at him, insults and the like. Brett approached and jutted the spear out towards Manny. There was no other option but for Manny to move forward. Shepherded by Brett with his spear. Manny could feel the spear’s point slowly piercing the back of his neck, resting squarely above his shoulders with a small amount of pressure applied. Brett could thrust the spear into his back at any time. Manny knew this and so he moved forward. Forward towards the diving board.

He didn’t want to, but Brett kept on jostling him forward on the diving board. Towards the pit itself. As soon as Manny was close enough. Brett spun the spear around so that he could push Manny into the pit with its blunt end. And then Manny fell into the pit. Falling head first into the pit and landing firmly on the sandy floor.

The floodlights still provided enough light so that he could make out his surroundings. But they were shadowed by the walls of the pit. Manny picked himself up off his feet and looked around. He could now make out some of the faces in the crowd who looked on. They were all calling out to him. Members of the community who he had once thought were his friends and neighbors. They all hated him and were throwing their words of hate at him to, “Jump!”

“Jump! Jump! Jump!” They all called out to him. The sentiment was overpowering.

This had happened to thousands of mutants before him and now it was happening to him. He looked forward and ahead of himself. There it lay. A rectangle made of corrugated iron without any walls that stretched out over the actual pit. And the pit was bottomless. There in the pit that was the size of a swimming pool, lay another pit, a bottomless one.

Thousands of mutants had been where he now stood. Standing in his shoes, they had all felt it: insurmountable dread. They had been left with no other option but to climb onto that iron rectangle that overlooked the bottomless pit and throw themselves in there. Manny tried to think of some other option, some way out. But he couldn’t think with the horde of spectators all calling out to him to, “Jump! Jump! Jump!”

And so slowly, he made his way to the iron rectangle. The iron had become rusted over the years and the construction shook as he stood on it. Climbing his way on the iron rectangle, he looked down and into the bottomless pit that lay below. There was nothing there but darkness. A never ending darkness with no fathomable bottom or end. He stood on the rusted iron rectangle and looked beyond, to the other side of the pit. There was the enticement to jump. A small hole on the other side of the bottomless pit that led to a promise of uncertain freedom. Out of all the other mutants who had ever entered the pit. Not one of them had ever made it. And he was only too certain, neither would he. But he had to try.

“Manny! Manny! Listen to me!” It was another voice, the voice of someone he recognized, Doctor Cammerus. And it was coming from behind him. Manny turned around to see Doctor Cammerus, who had entered the pit in an effort to retrieve him. “Manny! Listen to me, you don’t have to do this. We can do things properly. Sentence you properly for what you’ve done. You shouldn’t have been brought to this barbaric ritual.”

Manny stood on the corrugated iron rectangle, overhanging the bottomless pit and called out to him in response, “It’s no good Doc! These things happen! The arseholes won’t listen and there is no other way. They’ve made that much certain.”

“Manny!” Doctor Cammerus called out, trying to reason with him above the horde of voices that were all calling out for Manny to jump. “Think about your wife and child, Manny, you don’t have to do this! What you did isn’t acceptable, but with what happened, it’s understandable! You don’t have to do this!”

Manny looked back and forward between Doctor Cammerus, the bottomless pit that he stood above while holding onto the bars of the iron rectangle and the hole on the other side of the pit. The ever elusive promise of freedom. With his tentacle arm, he grabbed at the top rung of the iron rectangle. He looked back at Doctor Cammerus. “I know if it were up to you, things would be done properly. But they’re not up to you! It’s up to them! All of those arseholes and cunts! They’d never let it go! Please, take care of Sherry and Xander for me!”

Doctor Cammerus crouched down on the sandy floor of the pit, defeated. With the crowd calling out for Manny to, “Jump! Jump! Jump!” Manny started swinging himself back and forth on the top bar of the iron rectangle with his octopus-like hand. Gathering up momentum, so that he could hurl himself towards that uncertain promise of freedom. Believing he had enough momentum, or as much as he could muster, he then let go of the iron bar and hurled himself towards the other side.

He was at a loss of the hole at the other side by about a good three meters. And there he fell. Down and down. Towards the bottom of the bottomless pit. With the crowd cheering at the spectacle and Doctor Cammerus calling out in agonized defeat.

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Arie de Bruyn Born in Sandringham, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) on the 15th January 1987. Son of Alison and Dirk de Bruyn. Youngest sibling to Kees and Abram de Bruyn. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 22. Holds a bachelor degree from Deakin University in Arts (Media & Communication). Attended several high schools. Has lived and worked internationally in New Delhi, India; and Thailand. Currently resides in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Written several books and self-published them (Check out products and downloads page). Works jobs to earn himself a livable wage. contact: firstofkin@hotmail.com twitter: @firstofkin

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