Characters: Michael (Gen)
Summary: Where does the road to apathy begin?
Sometimes, it was the smells that got to him most. The stale cooking grease that enveloped the floor during the breakfast shift. The stench of unventilated toilet areas inside each cell, and the aftereffects of bad diet. The sour sweat (and God knew what else) that permeated the mattress he lay on. They were constant, animal reminders that this was a lair of beasts, and not men.
But other times, it was the grime. It coated the walls, the floors, even the metal bars of the cell and his bed. Who was there to clean it? No janitor’s life was worth the risk, and most of the prisoners didn’t even try. The human and surrounding scum melted into each other, and over time, became one.
He could see the dull sheen of gray creeping onto his skin. First his hands, and then his face, until it became embedded in his clothes. Showers were scarce, and driven by rushed vigilance, but they did not help. No soap ever fully cleared away the residue. What it was—oil, dirt, molds, rust—he couldn’t quite guess.
But it was becoming part of him.
How long would it be until he stopped noticing it?
Every day, he could feel the grayness taking a little more of him. The urgency, the scheming, became a little more vague.
Would he make it out before it consumed his will to try? And if he didn’t… what would be left for him that even mattered?
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