The rules were simple. His punishment would last for seven consecutive days. His only job was to keep track of these seven days after which he would be able to demand Libéracion.
The man in the bloodstained shirt and ripped trousers did not understand why it was so important for him to keep track of time, but the rules were so simple that it would be foolish for him to ignore them. He entered the cell that had been assigned to him and the door closed silently behind him, isolating the tiny chamber from the rest of the world. Little did he know that it would be the last streak of daylight he would be seeing. Had he been aware of what was awaiting him, maybe he would have taken a moment longer to appreciate the fresh air and the human contact outside of these walls. It was frustrating for him, not knowing what would happen to him in here, but any questions were prohibited. They had threatened to double the punishment for every extra word spoken when not spoken to.
The room he had been pushed into was dark—no, 'dark' was not the correct word to describe it—the room was pitch black. It felt like he had been plunged into a deep ocean of black ink. He put his hands in front of him, but he could not see anything. It felt eerie—almost as though he did not exist. He had not had the chance to analyse the room upon entering so he could not tell if there was any furniture, therefore he decided to sit on the spot and wait for his eyes to adjust to the darkness before exploring his cell further. After all, he had nowhere to go. This would be his abode for the next seven days. Seconds passed by, still nothing; then minutes, still nothing; then maybe hours—but who could tell, not an iota of light penetrated this room to allow him to discover his surroundings. His posterior felt sore and his back was starting to ache, he would have to try and familiarise himself with his new cell without the use of his eyesight. He got on his hands and knees and crawled in what he felt would be a straight line; he only stopped when his head hit something hard. He immediately got up and put his hands on the wall he had located, trying to ignore the feeling of relief that washed over him after feeling the cold hard wall underneath his fingertips. He spread his arms against the wall and began to take large sideways steps, tracing the wall with his body until he reached a corner. He continued doing so until he counted four corners and assumed that he had gone all around the room once. It was not a very big room and no furniture had seemed to obstruct his tour of the chambers.
Now, he had to crawl across the room to double-check for any other furniture he might have to watch out for while he moved around in this room. The whole room was empty, there was no table, no bed, no mattress, no chair for him to rest upon—nothing at all. It was just an empty room with four walls barricading him inside. Come to think of it, he had not even felt a door or a window, there were just the four fully concrete walls surrounding him. He got up and stretched his arms in front of him, then he took long strides in random directions, making sure that everywhere was indeed empty. After what felt like an hour, it dawned upon him that if he were to stay in this dark room for a full week, there was one problem, how would he keep track of the time in here? The people who had sent him here had been adamant on one thing: he was to demand Libéracion after exactly seven days, and he had no idea what would happen to him if he missed by a day.
As his hands—still outstretched in front of him—hit a wall, he turned around and sunk onto the ground, racking his brains for a solution. Maybe there were guards outside the room he could try to communicate with?
"Hello?" He asked tentatively into the darkness, but his voice hit the concrete walls and echoed right back at him—indicating that no one would hear him from there.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he received a blow to the head and passed out.
When he woke up, every inch of his body felt like it was on fire. The room held a thick scent of burnt hair and he felt as though his whole body had been severely burnt. As he tried to run his fingers over his arm, he pulled away, wincing; they felt so sensitive like he had held them over a burning stove. He closed his eyes trying to control his rapid breathing and stop his body from shaking. They had done something to him, either drugged him or tortured him, but he could not remember a thing—except for the reason he had ended up here.
Her beautiful eyes, filled with the reflection of the horrors playing out in front of her, were begging him not to go down that path. She had been down that road herself, and it had ended terribly—she knew that it could not end otherwise for him and so she was doing all she could to protect him, but the ultimate choice was his to make. Unfortunately for the both of them, he chose to go down the same path as she had, hoping to save her, but he got lost on the way just as she had warned him, and now there he was, atoning for his sins and awaiting Libéracion.
That was when it came, the first flash of light over the wall across him. The "II" sign that had carelessly been smeared with what could only be blood caught his attention for a millisecond. He had no idea what it meant, but right now he could not care less. The pain was too much for him to bear and all he wanted was to pass out so as not to have to feel a thing anymore. However atrocious the pain was, he did not pass out. Instead, he lay on the ground and endured the agony for as long as he had to.
After what felt like days to him, he received another blow to the head which sent him straight into a comatic state once again. Only, this time when he woke up, he knew that his body was covered in blood—in his own blood. There were deep cuts and lacerations all over his body and he was still shaking uncontrollably. What had they done to him this time? His head felt as heavy as lead but it hurt, even more, to try and close his eyes and rest. The thick scent of blood that filled the room made him gag.
Another flash of light lit the wall in front of him and this time he saw the sign of four tally marks crossed with a fifth straight line. He forced himself to concentrate on what this could all mean, so as not to be sick from the scent of the blood gushing from his raw and exposed wounds.
These marks could only indicate one thing: the number of days he had spent in this hole. They had asked him to keep track of the number of days and there was no way to tell how much time had passed since he had been locked up in this room where absolutely no light penetrated. Maybe this was the only way he could keep track of the time that passed? These flashes of light... He had to try and stay awake for as long as possible in order not to miss the last two—or who knew what would happen to him if he did not demand Libéracion on the seventh day. So far he could only remember two of these flashes, but apparently, five days had passed since he had been locked up, which only meant that he had been conked out for three of the five days. He could not allow this to happen again. He would not allow this to happen again—no matter the cost.
One tally mark on the wall indicated one less day of the gruesome torture that he would have to endure. There was only a day left, he only had to survive through this single day before being set free. He felt the blood slowly seeping through his wounds, it felt like none of them had healed yet, but he could not tell because he still could not see anything in this abyss of darkness. The sick scent of fresh blood he had retched from earlier on had completely vanished—either that or he had gotten used to it—but the pain was still very real. Every inch of his body had been lacerated and he felt like he could pass out from the pain any second now, but he also knew that that would not happen.
Images of her eyes flashed through his mind over and over again. Her beautiful green eyes that had stared at him in horror as he had gone in for the kill. These memories had not left his mind ever since he had entered this hellhole. The only thing keeping him sane was the wait for that final flash of light which would reveal seven tally marks drawn on the wall across him with blood, indicating that he could demand Libéracion. He had no idea how long it had been since he had been put in here—three, four, five—he had lost count a long time ago. All he was waiting for was to see those seven tally: the seven tally marks which would set him free. He could not even remember writing them on the wall with his own blood, but every time the light flashed against the grey walls, there they were, those tally marks...
It felt like an eternity, but the flash finally came, only, this time, something was terribly wrong. All the tally marks had disappeared.