Twenty-First Century Slavery – Part 03

By convict 975468

Seated at the table in a tent at the center of the open area were the camp superintendent and several of the higher ranking guards.  They were talking with the military doctor assigned to the camp on a part time basis.  He was supposed to see to the medical needs of the guards and the prisoners, and advise the superintendent with regard to sanitation.

The doctor was expressing his concerns about the lack of bathing facilities for the prisoners.  He was not concerned about the plans for disposing of human waste on a temporary basis, but emphasized the need for washing.  The superintendent explained that the program and the camp had been established by executive order of the president, and that Congress had not yet approved the enabling legislation nor appropriated the funds.  Under these circumstances, there was not enough money to provide everything needed.

The superintendent shared with the doctor the plans to build a permanent camp, starting with two secure 20-foot fences with guard towers.  Permanent water and sewer would be run.  The inmates would be required to build the buildings; some, indeed, were already under construction.  He explained that they hadn’t planned to receive so many prisoners so soon.  He expressed his concern that they would be overwhelmed with prisoners in the coming weeks.  Washington had told the local councils to hold off, but they were zealous patriots.

The doctor expressed his grave concern with the limited rations being fed the prisoners.  He bluntly said that the current conditions could not continue, or malnutrition would cripple the operation.  The superintendent patiently explained that the food contracts had been screwed up in Washington, but that he hoped in a week or two there would be sufficient supplies.  In the meantime the military was providing what it could.

From the mess tent, the prisoners were marched again to the formation facing the raised platform.  When they were all assembled, they were required to shout their mantra again three times, “I AM A CIVIC CORRECTION WORKER!”  After a count of inmates, they were dismissed to their assigned tents.  Ted and the others from the front line were directed to a tent with a sign hanging from it.  The sign said “5-1.”  Inside there was a dirt floor.  There were four pairs of canvas camp beds arranged in the four corners of the tent, with room for a narrow walkway down the middle.  Ted and Blake, a chain still connecting their ankles, were directed to the cots in the back right corner.  There was a line of buckets by the center pole, where the prisoners had to shit and piss, and the guard told them to keep the lids on when the buckets weren’t in use.  The tent was lit by whatever light leaked inside from the central area.

The pairs of prisoners took turns using the buckets, then turned to their cots.  Ted and Blake studied their space for a moment and decided that Ted should take the cot nearest the wall of the tent because his right ankle was the one attached to the chain.  He shuffled carefully in the small space between the foot of their cots and the head of the others on their side of the tent.  Ted realized that he needed to come back out and this time enter with his back to the foot of the cots.  Then Blake joined him and they were able to sit on the cots and then, holding the sides, pull their butts toward the head, letting the chain hang in the slot between the cots.  There were blankets at the head, and they settled in such comfort as there was.  Soon the lights went out.

It grew quiet, and Ted leaned over and whispered into Blake’s ear, “This is worse than I thought.  We’re gonna have to be careful, and we need to look out for each other.”  Blake replied yes, and took Ted’s hand.  Ted thought of his wife and children and started to sob.  Blake squeezed his hand, and Ted squeezed too.  After a couple of minutes, Ted stopped crying.  They continued to lie silently still holding hands.  Ted heard Blake starting to snore, and his exhaustion emptied his mind.  He drifted into sleep.

Moments later, or so it seemed, Ted was startled awake by the sound of a bugle, and the shouting of the guards as they passed each tent beating on the tent poles.  The lights in the center were back on, as the sky was still totally dark.  Another guard came by and shouted, “You have 15 minutes to piss and shit and put the covered buckets outside the tent and get into formation!”  They roused themselves, and Ted and Blake cooperated in getting out of the cots, in the reverse of what they’d done last night.  Blake whispered to Ted, “We had better fold these blankets like we found them.”  When the others saw what Ted and Blake did, they folded theirs as well.  They took turns with the buckets, which now stank, but they had no choice.

Ted and Blake were ordered to empty and clean the buckets.  The guard directed them to a wooden platform located across the compound from the mess tent.  There was an opening in the platform with a trap door into which they poured the contents.  Nearby was a barrel of water and a small bucket which they used to rinse their dirty buckets twice, pouring the rinse water down the hole.  They finished before some of the other prisoners, so they didn’t have to close the door over the trap.  They took the buckets back to the tent as instructed and went to the formation and stood in line with their tent-mates.

After all the prisoners were counted and had shouted “I AM A CIVIC CORRECTION WORKER!”, Group 2 was directed to the mess tent, followed by the other groups in order, with Group 1 bringing up the rear.  They were again given bowls and spoons.  The food was another stew.  This one included vegetables and what seemed like bits of egg dropped in the broth.  There were some small pieces of sausage.  Ted turned his bowl up and drank off the broth.  Then he took his spoon to shove the solids into his mouth.  He was determined to get all the food down before approaching the table where the bowls and spoons were collected.  Both he and Blake were finished in plenty of time.

On leaving the mess tent they were again placed in formation before the raised platform.  They were counted again, and they shouted about being Civc Correction Workers again.  Then the superintendent stepped onto the platform holding a microphone.  He began, “You are required to work to develop this camp, and you are failing to meet your quotas and goals.  As a result the program’s success will be delayed.  This is not acceptable!  If your production has not improved by the end of the week, I will order your rations to be reduced again.  Each of you is responsible for working with a team to complete projects on time, and the whip will be used to encourage you.”

Ted and his group were led again to the pit.  The sky was just brightening; dawn was coming.  They retrieved their packs, loaded them, and started down.  In the dusky pre-dawn Ted tripped on a rock and fell, bringing Blake down with him.  They both suffered scrapes and bruises, but were not badly hurt.  Ted noticed the sole of his sneaker had started to pull away from the shoe at the toe.   “What’ll I do when the shoe falls apart?” he groaned.   Blake didn’t answer; he just started refilling Ted’s pack.  And now the sun had come up.  They continued to the bottom and unloaded their packs.

As they started to the other pile, the guard called, “Come here, boy.  You’re not the first and you won’t be the last.  Put your foot here on the bench boy.”  The guard took a roll of duct tape and wound it several times around Ted’s shoe, making an ugly but effective repair.

“Get a move on boys.  Get your next load.”

Back up and out of the pit they trudged, and back down and up again.  Ted was hungry already, but he found that as he was given water, it filled his belly and for a while the hunger was not so bad.  From time to time Ted felt a little dizzy and weak kneed, but there was no choice.

When the guards were not near, Ted and Blake were able to talk.   Though they came from widely divergent backgrounds and situations, the initial bond between them continued to grow.  They remarked that they would have been friends wherever they might have met.  Eventually as they were climbing with what would be their final load for today, the sun began to set.  By the time they reached the top and unloaded, it was nearly dark.

They were led again to the formation.  While standing there Ted would nod, almost falling asleep on his feet.  He had never been more tired.  When it was their turn to be fed, Ted perked up and made sure he drank his broth first.  After that, and in formation, Ted seemed to be sleepwalking again.  Eventually, they were back in their places in the tent, and managed to get on the cots.  They fell immediately into an exhausted sleep.

Thus it went, day after day.  Ted became numb to the reality of it.  There was no energy for thought or emotions, just the mindless resolve to haul the rocks.  On the fifth night Blake shook him soon after they had lain down and whispered, “Ted . . .  Ted!  We’ve got to do something.  We can’t go on like this.  Look, the superintendent told us the first day we would be doing this work until we showed them we want to work harder.”

“I don’t think I can work any harder!” Ted said.

“I don’t think I can either,” Blake replied, “but tomorrow let’s hustle and try to push ourselves to make one or two extra trips.  If we can do that much, maybe the guards will notice.  Whadda you say buddy?”

Ted couldn’t believe Blake was telling him to work harder, and started to tell him to fuck off.  Yet somehow through the fog of half-sleep and exhaustion Ted understood that Blake was right,

“Yeah buddy, you’re right, I’ll try.”

Blake patted him on the shoulder, and he slept.

The next two days were terrible.  They started the morning going as fast as they could go.  They soon realized that they couldn’t keep up the pace.  So they slowed back down and planned to make a final push in the late afternoon.  By dusk they were totally spent and famished, but they calculated they had made two more round trips than before.  They “hit the sack” literally, and slept without a word between them.  Next day they started at a slightly faster pace, but again waited till the late afternoon for a final push, each knowing, without a word, that there was no way they could continue trying this hard.

That night they were bitterly disappointed that the guards had said nothing about their increased production.

They looked at each other, and each saw defeat in the eyes of his comrade.  With weary hearts they slowly made their way to their cots.  They lay for a few minutes holding hands, and fell asleep.

They awoke the next day dreading the pit.  Like zombies they trudged through the breakfast tent, bitterly eating their food.  But when they and their fellows were directed toward the pit, a guard stopped them and told them to wait.  Ted at first was afraid, but when he looked at Blake he saw that smile of his start to creep across his face.  Only then did Ted hope.

Soon a different guard appeared.  “You’re assigned to me today,” he said.  “I expect hard work and obedience.  If you give me any trouble, you’ll find your nasty asses back in the pit.”

They followed the new guard and were led out of the compound toward the area reserved for free people but turned left and soon saw groups of prisoners working.

As they approached the guard stopped them saying, “Look around!  Notice that you inmates are supervised by guards, but look beyond that.  You’ll see guards stationed with rifles.  Do not think for a minute that they will hesitate to shoot you if you try to escape.”

Before them was what they would come to know as the layout of the permanent camp.  Eventually the camp would encompass an area larger than 50 football fields – more than 60 acres.  But they were only working in the near corner of it.  The outline for twenty barracks were laid out with stakes and strings.  Each barrack was about twenty feet wide and 70 feet long.  They were in two rows with a 40 foot walkway between them.  The narrow sides faced the walkway.  There was only about 20 feet between the barracks on their long sides.

The footings for the ten buildings on the left had been dug already.  Most of the men were digging the footings for the buildings on the right.  The first two buildings were partly framed.  Ted and Blake were assigned to a group digging on the closest barracks to them.  After they were given shovels, they were shown how to cut the soil in a straight line, and how deep to dig.  It took them a bit to learn to coordinate their movements with their ankles chained together.

Soon they were able to dig at the rate the other prisoners maintained.  Ted didn’t think the work was nearly as hard as hauling rocks at the pit.  In observing the other prisoners they learned that they could talk quietly.  Ted and Blake were pretty dirty, they hadn’t had a change of clothes since they started working.  They saw that the other prisoners were filthy, and their clothes were getting ragged and torn.  Ted noted that many others were also wearing sneakers that were repaired with tape.  That night they were not as exhausted as they had been before – but they fell asleep as soon as they crawled into their cots.

Their days continued the same.  They were up before dawn and at work by daylight.  One day about a week later, a guard came around looking for prisoners with carpentry experience.  Ted said that he had worked for years in the cabinet factory.  Blake said he had helped make repairs at his fraternity house after a storm had damaged it.  The next morning they were put in a different crew.  The new guard directed them to talk to the prisoner who was an experienced carpenter and was the crew chief.  The floor joists were already covered with the subfloor, and they were set to assist with laying out the walls, putting them together using hammer and nails.  They soon got the hang of what to do and were productive members of the crew.  The first day they were able to frame up the outside walls, and on the second they framed the interior walls.  The next day their chains were removed when they got to the jobsite and they began putting in floor joists for the second floor.  They were chained together again at the end of the day.

The superintendent called a meeting of the ranking guards to inform them that Congress had passed the enabling legislation and appropriated the funds for the program.  He said that his superiors in Washington had done the preliminary work and that bids had already been taken and contracts would be signed that week for the permanent fence around the compound.  He stated that the contract was also ready for the water and sewer installation.  Additionally, he had been given the authority to purchase food locally, and that soon regular supplies would be arriving.  The next day deliveries of food began.

The prisoners were told nothing of this.  But soon they began to see pieces of meat along with vegetables, and less broth, in their bowls.  They were lined up in the middle of the mess tent and given time to eat their food.  Ted and Blake looked into each other’s eyes acknowledging that they would now have a better chance to survive.  That night with their bellies full, they lay on their cots facing each other, talking.  Blake put his hand on Ted’s shoulder.  Ted reached across and placed his hand on Blake’s as well.  They looked at one another, and Blake slowly slid his hand down to Ted’s waist, and then to his crotch, where he found Ted’s cock was hard.  Ted closed his eyes and sighed.  Blake opened Ted’s jeans and pulled out his cock. Blake leaned over and took Ted’s cock in his mouth.  It didn’t take Ted long to cum.  Ted lay there with his eyes still closed.  Blake took his own cock and jacked himself off.  Blake again reached over and squeezed Ted’s shoulder.  Ted opened his eyes and looked at Blake.  They continued to gaze at each other, then rolled over on their backs and drifted into sleep.

Two months passed.  Ted and Blake were becoming competent framing carpenters.  Most days their chain was removed in the morning and they worked all day without it.

They stank badly, but they had grown used to the smell.  Their clothes were filthy and becoming ragged.  Blake’s chinos had finally fallen apart and he was given a pair of used jeans that were too short.  The other workers made fun of them, and they all had a good laugh.  They hadn’t had a bath or change of clothes since being interned.  Ted’s shoe had finally come fully apart and he was given another old shoe for his right foot.  Like some of the other prisoners, Ted had a different kind of shoe on each foot.

There was a lot of new activity.  The fence contractor had arrived and was erecting two 20-foot fences, separated by 20 feet.  Razor wire was placed on top.  The contractors for water and sewer had completed the main lines into the camp and had installed lines to the ten barracks under construction.  Nearly all of the ten buildings were framed, and four were completed and ready to be occupied.

Each barracks had two floors.  Metal bunk beds stacked two high had been delivered and installed.  When entering the front of the barracks you came into a hallway.  To the left was a latrine with sinks, toilets, and several shower heads.  To the right was an office for a guard and some closets.  Beyond the hall there were two rows of twelve double bunks.  Each of the barracks was designed for 96 prisoners.   Four barracks were completed.  There were now over 500 prisoners, the tents were overcrowded and more prisoners were coming every day.

To be continued …

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