We didn’t know what to do when the rains first came
They're letting me type this out. This is part of our "documentation." But I am sure they don't know that I found out how to get it to you.
I just wish I could talk to someone again. Well, that's not quite accurate. We still communicate here, but we don't talk anymore.
I remember what it was like when we were kids and we would talk about boys, or when we would worry about our future. I miss that. I miss that so much. We were so afraid back then, we were so afraid of whether or not we could find someone to love us or if we could get a promotion, or if our friends valued us. We were worried if we weren't dressed properly for an event, or if we would get married, or if we were making the right decisions. All of those thousands of little worries meant a thousand little problems and I would give a thousand lifetimes just to be so carefree in that world where we were free to care about all of those thousand little nothings.
But now, nothing matters.
We are all surely going to die.
The job seemed so wonderful then. I was going to be a contractor working part time with a governmental ecological agency! I was. I thought I was. I am nothing now. Please forgive me…I need to tell you how it happened from the beginning, don't I?
I was sure I'd just be a loser for the rest of my life. I didn't have the balls to take on the debt required to finish school and so I had felt like it was hopeless! Everything was hopeless. I would be a failure for ever and with every year that went by it just felt too fucking late to try again. Too fucking late. What should I go to school for? What am I even good for? What am I supposed to do? Everyone else was graduating and I couldn't now just begin! It was too late…too fucking late!
Until I found the posting by accident. It was an accident, a terrible fucking accident, an accident that I can never take back now, and I am so sorry. I am so sorry to God, to my family, to everyone. They knew that only someone desperate would find it. Here I go again…please forgive me, I am getting ahead, I know, but I just haven't talked to anyone in so long.
I suppose they were monitoring my internet activity. I would come home from serving tables and drink coffee until 6:00 am scouring hungrily for any sort of job in any sort of place. Staring THROUGH the pixels on my bright white screen, my face illuminated like a moon in the dark, inches from any posting I could find, my clicking of the mouse like morse code monotonously, robotically tapping out my desperation . I'd fall into a fitfull sleep, my heart hammering, my thoughts, twisting frantically in a prison of anxiety, panic banging it's icy fists against the inside of my skull, until my alarm would begin it's endless gasping at 9:00 am, and I'd be off to open the restaurant at 10:00. Sick. Blinking away ground glass from my burning eyes, so tired, so suffocated by fear. And now, can you imagine what I think now? Those days were freedom and I am so sorry I've lost them. I am so sorry. I had my whole life ahead of me. I had everything.
The ad started popping up everywhere. I ignored it at first because I assumed it was an advertisement for something stupid. Something useless. It was everywhere. It looked like that little pop up you get in the corner of your screen when someone signs on to Skype, but it would slide out from every corner all of the time. Still, I ignored it. My eyes twitched across it one night when it burst onto my screen, nearly full sized, interrupting my aimless wandering through the wasteland of odd jobs.
"FINANCIAL FREEDOM FOUND! Would you like to see the world, save the environment, and build a career? All expenses paid! Click now! Spaces are limited!"
Ridiculous, I thought.
But I clicked it. I clicked it! Would you click that? Of course not, it just sounds like bullshit, or more bullshit, or malware at worst!
But I clicked it because it was there and I was tired. I was so tired and it just sounded so great and I started to cry because I wanted it to be real so badly. I remember I looked at my dirty, dark window and there was my moon face, forever illuminated by that hard, white glare, reflecting at me like something so grossly tragic…I just clicked it. I wanted it to be real…and in the beginning, it really was.
A task manager window popped up instantly, but it wasn't the ordinary sort. It had a red button at the bottom which said "Force Close" instead of "End Task." I clicked it. Every window on my screen vanished and everything closed. Sorry, I know you kids and your computer talk…everything just went black except the questionnaire which popped up in place of all else.
At the top there was a paragraph which addressed me by name. It assured me that I was beginning a job with the government which would be secret. My phone began to buzz in my purse and I pulled it out to see a text which stated "GOVT#59883 CONTRACT CONFIRMED" The questionnaire asked me about my family. My friends. My full name. My social media accounts. Questions for about 3 1/2 hours which I filled out. It seemed real, and I wanted it to be real, and I just did it. It's so easy to judge me for this, I know, but I just did it.
I had no feelings. No fear. I just felt ice cold, completely numb, and I couldn't know if what I was doing was right or if it was wrong. I didn't want to know…I just entered autopilot while the real me collapsed into a corner of my mind and silently said my prayers.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck, I'm typing all of my information into a virus, I'm helping them attack my friends and family, too, fuck it, they don't even talk to me, fuck them, this is my chance, but I am going to destroy my computer, why am I so stupid, just close it, idiot, you're such an idiot, what if you stop and you lose this opportunity, what if this is really the government and you're starting a whole new life, you need a new life, oh my god this is the moment, you deserve this, this is good, just CLOSE IT YOU IDIOT ARE YOU INSANE?"
And that was it. I clicked "send." I sent the fucking thing.
And then I went to bed. I slept all the way through at least 7 hours for the first time in as long as I could remember.
Several days passed and nothing happened. My identity wasn't stolen, my computer was fine, my sad little bank account wasn't emptied. There was a weight in the air around me. This was a new kind of weight…instead of that nebulous, electric dread that splintered me from a thousand different worries, this weight was crushing me from one source. What had I done? What would happen? Did I do something wrong?
And the questions would be crushed by the ominous feeling of this nameless knowledge that I had no idea what I'd done.
They came in the morning. I let them in after they'd asked…I was too confused to be polite when I opened the door.
And they were so nice! They were just so nice! They introduced themselves to me as Agent Andra and Agent Marcel. They weren't dressed like the "Men in Black;" Andra had a sky blue silk blouse tucked into a grey pencil skirt which was detailed in the corner with sky blue flowers. Marcel had a fancy looking suit, but he wore no tie and his top two buttons were undone. They were so attractive and they managed to make me feel at home in my own home! I was so embarrassed by my sparsely furnished hovel, really, but Agent Andra complimented my tiny attempts at decoration and I felt, for the first time in so long, like I even had a friend.
"So, we'd love you to contract for us. You're a perfect candidate! We reviewed your questionnaire for some time, and the consensus is that you're our top pick from the East Coast. Incidentally, we've only selected two Americans. The majority of your co-workers will be from countries all around the world, but really, you seem awesome so we think you'll love them and they'll love you."
"Oh man, thank you so much, I am so excited! I am so excited! But I don't want to disappoint you…I am sorry, this is weird to ask, I know…sorry, I really don't know how to ask…but…what exactly is the job? Sorry, I'm sure I can handle whatever it is, but I am afraid the questionnaire was unclear…"
"Oh my GOD, I am so SORRY!!"
Andra and Marcel looked at each other and laughed like the best of friends.
"We need you to travel to Tantauco Park in Chile. We have your flights sorted for later today, and all, don't even worry about THAT!"
Agent Andra smiled at me and she covered her hand with my hand.
"It's a very easy job but we need someone capable…of…well, of working long hours! Based on your answers we can see that working long hours is basically your thing. But also, _______, to be honest…there's more."
Agent Andra leaned into me. Her face fell and her eyes filled with kindness.
"The fact that you have no family or friends to speak of helped us make our decision with you. Yes, we see you've mentioned one or two general contacts in our friends and family portion, but we also realize that you are generally an "outsider." Please understand me when I am telling you this is a great thing. I know that in the 'real world' it's seen as something isolating, or 'baaaad,' or whatever, but with us, this is perfect. What we do is very secretive…very exclusive. We require more solitude in our candidates then most other jobs. We'll have you on the field and all you need to do is document your observations. That's it! We expect that you'll make some pretty sensitive observations, however, so we need to ensure our candidates aren't surrounded by dozens of confidantes that they'll just need to blab everything to, you know!?!?! And you may be gone for some time, or randomly reassigned, so we can't have family members poking around looking for answers, you know? I mean, don't worry, there's no danger, or anything, but the observations you make will need to be classified."
Agent Andra released my hand and smiled to Agent Marcel.
"You'll be perfect. Again, all you have to do is document your observations and record them in our data base. You sign a non-disclosure document, of course. We pay you $100,000 per month and we'll be expecting at least 6 months from you. This means you'll have to wrap up any lose ends you have at home, and we'll need you to handle all of that now. You're not really active on social media which is really a rarity these days, but we need you to close any accounts you have now, too. So, all wrapped up now! As in, before 8:00pm."
Angent Marcel smiled.
"Wait, sorry…ok, this is great, wonderful, I'm all in! But…but what am I documenting? My lease…I signed for a year, I'll be penalized for breaking it, I've not got the funds right now for the penalty…do I pay taxes? I don't have a passport! How does this work…thank you, thank you so much, yes, I want this…but I'm so sorry, this is all so fast…"
Agent Marcel looked slightly annoyed for the first time.
"Call your landlord now. Tell him it's over. We'll manage the fines and penalties and we'll sort it all in your name. Forget the passport. We have your documents. Forget taxes. You are now government property, forget everything. We just need you to close your current doors and get on the plane. Also, call your restaurant and quit."
"Yes, sorry…Ok! Sorry…but, what am I documenting, again?"
Agent Andra had leaned back on my squeaking, shoddy, wooden chair and began to inspect her nails.
"The effects of various chemical agents on wildlife."
My landlord was furious and my boss was confused but in the end, I had almost nothing to pack and I was on the plane. Agent Andra and Agent Marcel escorted me through the airport.
I felt so special! I felt so important! I believe I even began to strut! To strut! I was like a VIP. The Agents flashed a badge at every gate and the security guards would give it a quick look and instantly look away as if we weren't even there. The Agents even gave me a big hug before boarding, and they smiled and they waved…I felt so important and I am so fucking stupid. I am so fucking stupid. They seemed just so happy for me! I turned to give them one last wave and I saw them high-five each other. They high-fived each other.
When I woke up there were men standing over me. The headache was sharp and blistering hot, like a boiling rock had replaced the frontal cortex of my brain, and every blink was a smashing pulse of shock. I'd been in first class…the flight attendant had given me a glass of red wine…"Compliments of the airline," she'd said with a smile. I thought I was James Bond or something, I really did, and so I drank it! Wouldn't you?
There were two men looking down on me, their faces drawn into scowls of hatred. The plane was empty.
They picked me up roughly. I struggled to gain some dignity, some composure, but the searing hot pain in my head prevented me from managing myself, I couldn't find the connections between my body and my brain. My thoughts were fragmented and senseless.
What happened? What happened to me?
I thought that maybe I'd gotten drunk, can you believe it? I thought that maybe I'd just kept drinking wine, and I'd blacked out, and security was dragging me off the plane!
Under the shock and the pain, I was ashamed. ASHAMED! I hadn't even begun this amazing new life, I hadn't even started my amazing chance at becoming important, at becoming an exclusive government employee, at becoming RICH, at traveling the world, at seeing Tantauco, at making cool, foreign new friends…I hadn't even begun and somehow I managed to get blackout drunk and fuck it all up!
Where were they taking me? I didn't know, and my desperate apologies and inquiries came out slurred and incomprehensible. Was I going to jail? Were they sending me back? What had I done?
They were so rough with me…like I was worth nothing to them. They dragged me through an "emergency exit" door which was stationed by two guards. They began to speak rapid fire in a language that was not Spanish.
I turned to the man on my left.
"Please, I am so sorry, I don't know what I've done…I'm supposed to be starting a new….PMMMMPFFFFF…"
His face, twisted with absolute loathing, was the last thing I saw before a black bag was smashed around my head, someone's fists connecting hard with my shoulders as he brought it down.
I lost control of my bladder before I lost consciousness.
The screaming was the first thing I heard. It was echoing and chaotic. Some voices were speaking loudly and frantically in languages I couldn't understand, some panicked and hushed, but mostly there was an animal sort of wailing bursting against the insides of my mind from seemingly all directions. The second thing to light up my sluggish senses was the stench. That Earthy, sour stench of shit and the sharp ammonia stench of piss.
My headache was still present…but I felt for sure I was in a dream. I must be. My mouth came into my consciousness. Powder…My mouth was a cluster of bone dry cells, tongue sticking to my palet, old spit like airless glue.
I opened my eyes.
Hard halogen lights exploded into my vision and immediate cold set in.
They put me in a cage! A cage! The sort of cage that could hold a large dog. You would think I would be in a panic. You would think, wouldn't you? I wasn't. I was overwhelmed by shock, confusion, and fear. There was nothing else inside of me.
About 8 feet in front of me was a man in a cage. Two more cages were stacked on top of his, and as far as I could see were rows of stacked cages. Most were occupied with people.
The man across from me was obese. He had a beard and incredibly greasy, mousy brown hair. He looked soaking wet and his clothes were stained. He was sitting toward the front of his cage, leaning against the bars and he was breathing heavy, his eyes darting wildly around, picking his fingers, occasionally muttering.
I peeled apart my tacky lips.
"Do you speak English?" My voice was unrecognizable…thick, raspy, hyper-dehydrated.
He flinched and he looked up at me, his glazed eyes cleared and bore into mine.
"Some English, yes. Yes. Some English, yes. I can speak."
"Where are we?? Why are we in cages? Who are all of these people?"
"More slower! More slower!"
"Where are we?"
"I from Azerbaijan. They tell me I come Chile. Special, very secret. We dogs now! DOGS! DOGS NOW. NOW I AM DOG FUCK YOU!"
He began to scream and sweat poured down his face in rivers.
A face appeared in the cage above his.
Small, brown, plain… her features were indistinguishable. My fear finally began to morph into something more serious…more all consuming. The man's screaming had sent my heartbeat into revolt and the appearance of another face in another cage looking directly at me somehow added to my increasing awareness of my reality. Somehow additional eyes acknowledging my presence brought me into the present more clearly.
"He's understands nothing. He finally stopped his screams one hour maybe ago. Don't talk to him. He screams again, only, so avoid."
"Who are you?" I felt my voice cracking through the dryness in my desert throat.
"I am Hanna. I am from Eritrea. My family all die in the war. I was put in service for many years until I run away with the others to Ethiopia. They catch us hold us for some time, but now they sell us for small money to this place. They want us because no one will know us. No one will miss us. We are toys for new wars."
I finally found my voice. "What the FUCK are you saying? What the fuck are you saying this to me for?"
"Don't be like this one, don't now with the screaming! Scream now and you can scream with this one only, I will tell you no more!"
I bit back my panic. "How long have you been here? Will they give us water?"
"They give us water one time in the day only. I am here now 5 days. They still bring some but they tell us we are soon complete. They tell us we are soon to be ready."
"Ready for WHA…ready for what?"
"I don't know, girl, ready for why we come. They talking a lot when they bring the water, three talking in Arabic. They come with guns and they are soldier for sure. I hear them talking, saying they should not waste the work to feed us, they should not waste the work because many here will not last the first time experiment."
The man across from me was still screaming, "FUCK YOU FUCK YOU" but he was running out of breath again.
I fell back against the cage walls. The pandemonium around me continued.
No one knew I was here. I closed my accounts, I ended my lease, I quit my job. I had no family for years and years, and what extended family I had thought little of me…a fucking loser waitress, like like my lawyer cousins. Those two Agents who came to my home…lies. They just wanted me to delete what remained of me and everything else was a lie.
I began to think rancid thoughts.
Why me? I am an American. How could they do this to me? Sure, maybe I am no one, but I could have been someone! They put me in a cage! What experiments?
So you see, it's been a month, and I don't expect to last any longer then a few days now. We are permitted to document a few times to monitor the deterioration. The funniest part is that they keep telling us we're free when they finish. They keep telling us we're FREE!! No one laughs, of course, but the humor of it isn't lost on me. You can't imagine what I have seen and what they have done…but I suppose that is what I am supposed to be telling you, right? What I have seen…and what they have done.
Soon, you'll know how I've managed to get this to you…I am to document again very shortly. I need to tell you…you need to know what they are doing. Please pray they won't test between then and now.