Choking! Blood and rust alike erupt from my mouth like merciless magma firing from the behemoth of Vesuvius. Gagging violently on the icy tongue of iron that relentlessly writhes its way through my oesophagus I yank at a chain hanging from my mouth and feel every single link claw and tear at my vulnerable flesh on its way out. A beautiful heart-shaped locket consumed by brown rust emerges, as I wipe away my dripping scarlet blood, a crudely etched scrawl of writing comes into view. 'Remember' reads the scribbles upon a neatly engraved cut stating T.G. Flooding into my brain a tsunami of sadistic fear and the piercing realisation that I do not know who I am, where I am or even when I am. All I know is the primal terror I have felt since awakening from my rigamortis haunted corpse-like state. In a desperate panic aided by a stampede of sweet adrenaline, I fling open the heart and am welcomed by a warm photo of a beautiful woman sitting upon a silky mattress, Immediately a sense of purpose and desire befalls me and I come to know a fundamental fact that will decide my near future, I must follow my heart.
Suddenly a monstrous bounding voice thunders ferociously towards me, swiftly followed by the familiar thud of a thick leather boot crunching against my weak skull and with that I am hauled onto my feet by two muscle wrapped men covered from head to toe in armour, both proudly displaying an emblem of a large white thumbprint boldly sitting upon a deep black void like triangle beside St George's flag. Deep cockney voices yell at me screaming like banshees that I must 'get my mask back on right bloody now'. Piercing stabs of what I can only assume are staples dig into my skin embedding themselves just short of my capillaries. One after another bite into me all around my face as I am torturously smothered by a pure mask of snowy white, drowning in the smell of another poor man's sweat and tears I wait for the searing pain to be over. 'Why is this scum even in with the rest of the animals anyway' the first man asks. 'Not all diseases are visible, now are they?' the second man boasts, followed by a hideous laughter that I am sure will haunt me for long to come. Coughs and splutters arise from behind me, 'Religion is not a disease, ethnicity is not a sickness, preferences are not a deviancy, you are the virus and history will prove it, Time Always'. Suddenly a flash of light and a beam of horror shuts the man behind me up, leaving but a puddle of regret and bones and another mask in it's wake. Rounds of evil laughter bellow across what I come to realise is a cage, a cage unlike any I have ever seen before, the size of which is so immense that I can not see any corners from where I am. 'Now you keep quiet, stay docile and domesticated, then you may live long enough to outstay that headache'. Just like that, I am left alone trembling at this dim future I see before me, clouded by a new leather face that hugs my skin as a parasite leeches onto its prey.
Eventually, I gather the strength to lift my head and look at my situation. As far as I can see, pure white masks in millions blink back at me; men, women and children all quaking in fear of an unknown tyrant and his wolves of justice that parade arrogantly wielding their sacred stream rifles. The damp concrete floor is ever watched, ominous flickering floodlights suffocate every inch of the surface, yet with every beam of brightness,the world feels intensely darker, straying further from the path of the righteous. Sitting above it all, like an omnipotent being stands glorious statues, sun-scorched posters and screens of an all too familiar abhorrent man standing in a rigid structured pose exclaiming the grotesque phrase 'Eugenics means a happier today and a superior tomorrow', WHO IS THIS MONSTER? He who stands boasting pale skin, fair hair and deep sunken eyes that reflect the lack of humanity within. If it is true that the eyes are the window to the soul, then I fear this vulgar man is but a pristine carcass, a mere shell encompassing an abysmal void.
Shame pushes me away from this awful view causing me to turn on the spot as smooth as a soldier in a march of honour. To my horror, a past glorious landmark infects itself straight into my vision, once proud and strong, the large tower stands defeated, disappointed and frightened with what has begrudgingly gathered around it and in a split second all of my nerves unanimously fire shots of steaming hot trepidation like cogs in a well-oiled machine as anxiety fills my lungs, I let out one solitary tear of submission, crumbling before my very eyes, Big Ben lurks. This is not just any prison, this is London, all of London.
The lost and the damned around me, weakened by war, pestilence and starvation all lay with this depressing knowledge flowing through their veins and I need to know why this is happening to us. I feel disconnected from the rest of this hopeless lot, perhaps in a last bid to protect my sanity and innocence my brain concocts a masochistic dream of this all being a mistake, I am better than them and that I do not belong here, yet still deep down I know this to be my fate and one day this mask will rip from the very foundations any feeling of identity or uniqueness that I stubbornly cling onto. Consumed by agony and melancholy I heave myself towards an eyesore of a being, the man closest to me, painted by scars and bruises across his whole body, a curious blotted QR code binds permanently onto the tattered tanned flesh across his forearm. I begin to question him on everything and everything like a child, first introduced to an anonymous scary world. My voice seems to resonate within his conscious and without the aid of my face to identify me, he believes we knew each other before all of this tragedy and devastation.
Over many nights of surreal torment, I come to learn the origins of my purgatory and the hellish events that dragged us kicking and screaming into a wretched future. A war broke out in the year 2031, war is too kind a word for what this evil was, a mass eradication via nuclear explosions and satellite attacks carved its way across the Earth, an extinction event. Every country bar one pathetic island was murdered callously in a macabre mutual decision of ensured death, like that England was left isolated and alone in a world of only fear and radiation. Barely living survivors fled to the traumatised island, too many survivors, the apocalypse was only progressed by man's innate selfish desire to survive, so when one man came with promises to protect the worthy and pure, we jumped on it like vultures on a rotting stinking decayed body. Thomas Graves, a name that for many plagues their every waking moment. We'd ignored the red flags for a decade before the war and foolishly gave trust and power to evil, a living breathing evil.
Families were torn apart, gutted, skinned and left to rot in a camp, it started with thumbprints being taken for all, innocently enough, disguised as a harmless proposal yet underneath it was the devils gamble for the planet. The fragile, horrifying truth of it is statistics and demographics. Those who were deemed likely to be criminals or burdens through skewed statistics were treated like killers and shot or enslaved, blood curdingly ironic. 'Minority groups were seen as threats, anyone who Thomas took poorly to, thrown into the yard like trash', said the decrepit man I have come to know. Right this moment, a titanic grey drone hurtles erratically over the crowd, seemingly focusing on me, eerily too long it just watches almost sympathetically then beams away, unfortunately, I was not the only one to notice this...
The unforgiving cruelty of dystopian desperation is like a magic mirror it reveals the true darkest parts of people, survival requires sacrifice, and evidently morals, ethics and humanity are the first on the chopping block. Like a ravenous clan of hyenas, my peers, the only unfortunate poor ne'er-do-well's that can emphasise with my experience turn on me mercilessly, claustrophobia seeped in as the earth groaned beneath me, footsteps in the thousands flocked towards me, meaning to interrogate, harm or god knows what to me, I wish I'd have known that when the world begins to end, no one can be trusted, for a split second I even begin to understand why that demon Thomas Graves took it upon himself to be judge, jury and executioner. My surroundings become ever smaller and the dirty smog-filled air struggles to lunge its way into my lungs, panicked, the dainty chain of metal that I grasp falls to the ground, shattering the glass shield that protects the sweet woman that I apparently know. Quickly leaping to prone I hug the heart tightly to my chest, ready to die with this beautiful stranger on me.
Suddenly, beams upon beams upon beams of light burst down as if from the heavens themselves opening up to make way for rapture on Earth, colours so juxtaposed to the dull grey that I am used to obliterate the masses like the Bifrost itself, draining the life from my would-be attackers, was this chance, divine intervention or a more sinister force at work I ponder in my terrified state of petrification. My ears pouring with blood and ringing with the sound of a whistling kettle ready to scold, I bear witness to the tragedy around me, pools of puree knelt on by the remains of smiling blank masks.
Waves of heels sweep towards my paralysed shocked body, once again I am lifted with ease, carried out of the gates of Trafalgar and dumped into the mass grave site with all my fallen brethren that had the imponderable pleasure of dying naturally, no sooner then I am slung down like compost do the treacherous guards make hast back to the camps to torture the bourgeoise and force them to work in trade for their generously permitted existence. Shadows creep in my peripheral vision with ghastly pleasure and a kind dark peace consumes me.
Groggily I awake and summon the power to rise to my feet, a delightful view of class and happiness orbits me. Outside of the camp, people are blissfully ignorant, an unnervingly pale facade of humanity still clings to expired ideals and live with glee. Plastered over the bright walls is propaganda from Thomas Graves himself heavy with promises of safety and protection. Drones plague the street like the long-gone bees would with honey. Numerous churches strategically positioned around town to form ideological imprisonment. Yet people are still happy, whilst the lower half are forgotten and locked away like animals my heart begs me to run and join in with the festivities, to hide in plain sight and avoid big brother, yet frustratingly my brain knows all too well I am chipped and my sheer movement alone will alert the controlling guardians of society. There is nowhere to hide.
Sprinting vigorously towards 'the palace' where Mr Graves live, fantasies of dying a martyr and provoking the revolution dance gently around my mind The palace is empty, no guards in this 'crime-free world' i find myself in his room, on his bed lay a shrivelled woman, with a heart-shaped necklace and a note stating Thomas, I couldn't live with the guilt anymore so drugged you and left you to feel the consequences of your actions, if you are reading this, I am sorry...