Part 3 – First Day of the Chain Gang
The night was long and my sleep was not too good. We were woke up when the light shined into the room from the barred windows. I don’t know the time but I guessed it was about 6:00 – 6:30 am. One guard came into the room and unfastened the long ankle shackle leading chains that hold us together for the night. We were ordered to step down from the bed, put our boots and line up outside the building. The guards passed a 3 feet thin rope to everyone of us and told us to tie one end to ankle shackle’s ‘O’ ring and hold the other end with our hands while we walk.
This can avoid the linking chain dragging on the ground making us easier to walk. We took the same path to the stream watched by 2 guards. It was a lot easier to walk when I hold the connecting chains up from contacting the ground.
When we arrived, we were given 20 minutes to move around to piss, shit, wash our face and rinse our mouth, no tooth brush was given to us. The cold stream water fresh me up and then it came to the hard time to shit. I was given a piece of banana leaf to shit on. I can’t really do it with the squatting position and my feet became numb after few minutes. Finally I could finish and ask the guard for toilet paper to wipe my ass and my request was denied as he told me the only thing I could use were the leaves. I have no choice to tear the banana leaf to smaller pieces but they were too slippery to wipe my ass hole. After a few wipes, I just hold on to my pants and tumble to the stream immediately and sat my ass into the running water to wash it. We also have to wrap our shits and dispose them into the big garbage bags nearby.
We finished our breakfast – 2 loaf of buttered bread and a bottle water. Chuck told us that this was a special arrangement that we were having bottled drinking water because they were very sure that if we drink from the streams, we definitely will get sick. When they prepare this role play, they do have a lot of considerations, they have to make sure that we can handle all exercises up to our limits, the food and water were OK for us and the environment was safe. As we were all ‘city people’, we will not get used to these ‘country side’ stuffs. On the other hand, they also have to make the play ‘real’ to us. I just can only imagine that I was heavily shackled running around the mountains, pick wild fruits to eat when I am hungry and drink from streams and pools, but these were all away from reality, for the sack of my health, I have to accept their ‘nice treats’.
We marched pass our ‘prison building’ going uphill towards the scattered houses. When we get to the top, the view was different, we saw many planting fields on the other side of the hill. I could slightly identify a walking path leading to the fields due to covering by long grasses. The guards divided us into 3 groups with our assigned partner and gave us some tools including cotton gloves, spades and sickles. The instructions for us was to remove the grasses and reeds to make a walking path for the villagers to their fields.
We teamed up as arranged and start our work. The weather was OK for us the sun hide behind the clouds. William and I start cutting the grass and reeds and found that it was a good exercise for us, especially people sitting in the office too much. Conversation was prohibited when working and the guards watched us from a distance sitting under a big tree and did not border us at all. Our movements were restricted by the 2 feet connecting chains of our wrists shackles and the job was done very slow. After an hour of working, we were given a short break to drink some water and talk to our partner. William asked me if I would like to try to escape or not and I found it was difficult with our restraints. The tools given to us were not able to break our chains. The break was short and we continue our work and suddenly it started to rain like hell. We started to walk back towards the guards trying to get shelter from the rain but was ordered by them to continue our work despite of the pouring rain. Ah, I almost forgot our ‘identity’ as a prisoner due to those ‘luxurious’ services provided like bottle water. I was wet from top to bottom, outside to inside and even my boots were flooded. Now, I feel completely like a chain gang as seen in movies. The rain stopped in about 20 minutes and it should be around noon as we were having overhead sun. Loosing track of time was another new experience for us. My clothes were completely wet and on every step I walked, I could hear the sizzling sound inside my boots caused by the rain water. I just wanted to take them off and let them dry until I put them on again, this is what I definitely will do at home. When I reached for the laces to untie them, my ankle shackle was on my sight. I told myself that this is the adventure I want and I should take it no matter how uncomfortable it is. Then I started to concentrate on my work and tried to forget the wetness.
Lunch was bought to us in banana leaves again. We have a bottle of water, a corn and quite large portion of mashed taro (or yam) with some meat (I couldn’t tell whether they were beef or pork). The meal was hard to swallow as the food have no seasoning, no salt and tasteless. However the nutrition part was good as these food could give us a good supply of protein and carbohydrates. I finished my meal in a short time and lied down on the cut reeds that I put aside to take a break. I tried to take a nap but couldn’t make it as the sun was so hot and the ground was muddy. I looked around and saw the other 2 teams were about half mile away from us. I could also see 3 partly finished walking paths. My afternoon was the same work with a short break and our whole day work was concluded when we heard a blow of whistle by the guards.
The guards waved us to return to the top of the hill and we tumbled up. My ankles were sore because of the shackles and my wrists were red and have some minor cuts. When all the teams returned, there were only 5 of us, Eric was missing. Vincent told me that he sneaked away and the guards were still looking for him. The guards told us that they could get him back for sure as he could get away too far with the shackles and there was no hide-outs in this area, but his escape excited us. We were ordered to march back to our prison. I looked back and found a nice picture, 5 prisoners in restrains, each holding a rope in their hands that lifted up their ankle shackles chains, walking slowing with 2 guards escorting them with a nice sunset background. If it is a video, adding the sounds of our clanking chains will enhance the effect.
It didn’t take long for us to get back as we started to get used to the chains after wearing them for a day. When we arrived, we saw the warden standing there welcoming us with our extra restraints – steel collars and chains. They told us that they just have these sent from the city because they forgot to bring along with them. I was the first one to have these fixed. The heavy and cold collar closed on my neck and he used a padlock to lock it together with a chain that runs through the ‘O’ ring of my wrists shackles chain then padlocked the other end to the ‘O’ ring of my ankle shackles. As the chain only runs through my wrists ‘O’ ring, my hands were not fixed to waist level and could move up and down. With the new restraints, I did not need the rope that was used to lift the ankle shackles anymore as the chains was now lifted by the collar chains. I tried to walk a few steps and found that I still have to hang on to the collar chains because if I let go, the walking will cause a pulling motion to my collar which made me very uncomfortable. After Chuck finished fixing his restraints, Eric was taken back by a guard. He still have his wrists shackles, but in his hand holds one of his ankle shackle while the other shackle was still fixed to his right ankle. A lot of questions were raised by us immediately asking about his escape and how he broke the shackle but was stopped by the warden. Eric was bought aside for the warden to examine the shackles that still remains on his limbs while the other guards fixed our collars. The warden found out that during the welding process, the bolt to his left shackle was not heated thoroughly enough and they welded the bolt which was not quite ready into the shackle. There were some cracks in the bolt and Eric applied some force and the bolt came off. The warden then checked each and every one of our limbs for deficits and Daniel’s right wrist, Chuck’s right ankle and my right wrist and ankle showed cracks on the bolt. We were ordered to stay while the guys with secure restraints proceeded to the stream for bath. One guard used a propane gas burner to heat up the bolts while the other 2 used a hammer to break our damaged bolts. It took them quite long to fix our shackles again. After all the welding works have done, Daniel, Chuck and I were ordered to proceed to the stream while Eric’s bath right was cancelled due to his escape. He will be punished and we were wondering what would be his punishment.
When I got to the stream, William and Vincent were already in the water with their clothes and pants as the clothing won’t go through our shackles. I took of my boots and socks and jumped into the water immediately as my whole body smells and T-shirt was muddy. This was the first time in my life to was my clothes by wearing them.
When we got back to the house, we couldn’t see Eric and we were told that we could see how he was punished before dinner. Our dinner was very good as compared to the past meals. We have mashed potato, some vegetables including peas and carrots and half a barbecued chicken. The warden told us to go inside the cell to take a look of Eric receiving his punishment if we want. When I entered the cell, I saw Eric was shackled in a sitting position with his hands above his head and the ‘O’ ring of his wrist shackle padlocked to a ring on the concrete wall. He was eating like a dog from the plate placed in front of him because his hands could not reach the plate. Food was all over his face and I couldn’t tell what kind of food they were. He raised his head and looked at us and having a hopeless expression on his face (reminded me about some scenes of slaves in movies). He didn’t give a word and continue his dog eating. I just want to change position with him so that I can enjoy this kind of humiliation and I decided to do something to break the rules tomorrow. When we sat down outside for dinner, the warden remind us again that breaking the rules will result in being confined to the wall and many rights will be removed. I kept on asking myself should I do it?
I returned outside and finish my dinner and enjoy the beautiful sunset. The warden told us that we could walk around if we like and when we hear the whistle, we must return to the cell for our chaining of our ankle shackles to the bed. There was no TV and other entertainment here, we appreciated the warden’s kindness to let us to kill our time. I was quite tired and didn’t want to move at all, my T-shirt and pants were still wet and I hung my socks to dry. I still put the boots on with bare feet as the ankle shackles will hurt without the protection of the boots. We rested our back against the walls and sat on the ground playing with our new collar and chains. Chuck started a chat about why we joined this role play and each one had some reasons to share (this will be listed at the end of the story). Since the warden allowed us to walk around, we started to walk towards the houses. Of course in my mind still figuring whether there is any chance to get away and hide for the coming days so that I could win the competition.
I walked alone towards a few houses which were not too far away. Walking for me was a lot easier now as I could get used to the pace and know how to lift the ankle shackle chains up so that it won’t drag on the ground. My collar was OK for me, not very tight and my hands’ movement still restricted to a 2 feet connecting chains. When I walked near to the houses, I noticed that they have no electricity supply and they all use oil lamps. The sky was clear and the light of the moon and stars was even better than indoor. The whole area was very quiet with some sounds of insects and our clanking chains only. The villagers were immediately alerted by that metallic sound when I got closer to their house and some of guys came outside to check me out. I have a little smile on my face and told them that the warden allowed us to move around. Thanks God that they understood my language. One guy told me that the guards have told them a few weeks ago that there will be some inmates coming to help them to fix the walking paths. They were also told that the inmates will be in heavy restraints and they should not be worrying about their safety as there will be enough guards to watch us. They felt better after they saw our 30+ pounds metal restraints. I asked if I could stay for a while and we all sat on the ground. They asked me what crime I have committed and how long was my sentence. I made something up and told them that I robbed a bank and my sentence was 7 years. One of them was wondering if I have to wear all these shackles for the next 7 years or not and how I could change my clothes. This was a very good question, I knew that I will be free in few days, but what happen to those ‘real’ chain gangs? How could they change? After chatted for a while, some of them returned inside their house leaving only one guy still sitting with me. He was the one who raised the shackle issue, in order to make identity more real, I offered him a deal. If he could break my restraints and helped me to get back to the city M, I could gave him quite attractive sum of money as a reward. He inspected my shackles and told me that he didn’t have the tools to break them and it was a difficult and long way to M. Then I asked if he could hide me for a few days, I still could give him some rewards. He told me that he doesn’t want to get into trouble and refused me. The sound of the whistle ended our conversation.
Everybody returned to the prison. Eric was released from his chained position and was let out to the foyer and given a bucket of water to wash his face. He still hasn’t got his collar yet. After our bedtime piss, we were ordered to return to our cell. Eric was lead by 2 guard towards the wall facing our bed and his arms and hands were lifted above his head. One guard stepped on a stool and padlocked his ‘O’ ring to a higher metal wing fixed on the wall. Eric was now in a standing position with his hands shackled above his head. Then the guards told us to return to our bed and chained us together like the night before. The only extra thing was our newly added collar and connecting chains that added more discomfort to us. One guard came in and sprayed some mosquito spray onto Eric’s and our body to protect us from the bites. Again this was another luxurious service to us as we were their CLIENTS. After lights off, the whole room was filled with smells from sweat, mosquito spray and odors caused by our damp clothes and soaked feet, socks and boots. The moon shinned through the windows and I could see Eric shifting his position to make himself more comfortable but I guessed it didn’t help much. I asked Eric if he was OK and he told us that having his arms lifted for so long was so tired, soared, uncomfortable and absolutely no FUN at all. I hope he could make it through the night in this position. I fell asleep very soon but the sleep was not good at all. I was too tired, the added collar and chains were connected to our ankle shackles, if anyone moves, the movement will pull on my collar. The other thing that woke me up many times was requests from Eric asking the guards to let his hands down. I couldn’t really tell how long before the guards came into the room and released Eric from the torturing position. A collar and chain like ours was fixed to Eric and he was then placed in a seated position with his collar padlocked to the wall and this was how he spent the night. I then slept through the night until morning call.
To be continued tomorrow
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