I couldn't sleep. I was tired, but every time I closed my eyes I heard those cries, I saw myself in that room. I couldn't shake the feeling. This camp, they were killing kids. They were taking us and killing us. I knew it would be hard, but I had to get out somehow. I had to warn someone.
I didn't know how.
The morning came, and at the crack of dawn we were up. After dressing and washing up, we were walked to the breakfast hall where we ate a decent meal. Again, the teachers like myself got a much better looking meal, idly I wondered if it was to fatten us up for some alien monster who would gobble us down. They'd already killed a kid, maybe there were more crazy secrets like that.
After breakfast, we separated to our specific areas. I was to head to the farm, but before they took us there, one of the counselors called me over, "Hey, Christopher is it? Come here." My heart froze, the voice, it was the racist counselor from last night, did they see me, were they going to kill me too? I walked stiffly over, trying not to cry out of fear when the man placed his hand on my shoulder with a warm smile.
"My name is Jeremy, head counselor for the farming students. I understand you're to be our newest teacher. Our last one is going to be leaving the camp in a week, so I'll introduce you two." Jeremy led me along away from the line of students, and motioned me towards an older boy standing on a wooden platform near the farm - he looked very gentle, with blond hair, blue eyes, and a pale complexion. It began to dawn on me that all the counselors had some similar qualities.
"Ah, this must be my replacement. Nice to meet you, I'm Michael." The boy offered his hand and a beautiful smile. I fluttered for a moment before gripping his hand and shaking it.
"C... Chris." I managed to state. Staring into his eyes was like staring into the sky, so inviting and so deep. I snapped myself out of my reverie and nodded, "I ah, it's nice to meet you. I hope you can teach me what I'm to do."
Jeremy walked away to view the progress of the other boys while Michael walked me along the front area of the farm. It was certainly that, a wide patch of soil with rows of plants. I didn't recognize them much, and the students gathered there were weeding and tilling, making sure the plants were all well kept. "This is the farm, we grow crops here, and tend livestock in those barns over there." He motinoed towards one of the two large red barns surrounding the field. I could see behind it was a pasture with several cows.
"Students here must learn hard work and discipline, they have to learn how to grow and harvest and take care of animals. It's not easy, and it's one of the most rewarding jobs in the camp. The Helpers, they take care of the Students. Getting them water, tending to any wounds they receive, running to fetch tools. As for you and I, we're teachers. Our job is to make sure everything is going right. If someone's slacking off, that's what the switch is for."
"Wait. I'm supposed to hit people?"
"Discipline. So it says in the Good Book, 'He that spares the rod spoils the child.' If you don't discipline those beneath you, they'll never learn to be decent, hardworking adults."
I couldn't do that. I wasn't a violent person, I couldn't even raise my voice too much for fear of being seen as mean. This was clearly not the job for me. It was for a large boy, one who needed to throw his weight around. My parents must have been concerned I wasn't manly enough, so they told the coordinator to get me a task where I'd be forced to be one.
"Ah, speaking of discipline." He muttered, grabbing the switch and hopping into the field over towards one of the Helpers. The boy couldn't have been more than 13 years old, and was breathing heavily as he was hauling a sealed bag of manure. Michael raised the switch and struck the boy. "No slacking off! Get back to work!"
"I can't... carry..."
"The Lord will provide you with strength if you believe in it. You clearly don't believe." He said, pronouncing each word with a swat. I couldn't watch, but I couldn't let this continue, and I ran over, grabbing Michael's arm.
"Stop! Let him go!" I shouted, but felt the thrust of Michael's other arm pushing me away.
"Don't you undermine me. This is what we have to do." He raised the stick again, the boy half-hobbling away as he struck around his leg and ankle. The sound of crying and the snap of the switch ground into my ears and I tackled Michael to the dirt. "What the Hell are you doing?"
I pinned Michael beneath me, grabbing the switch. "This is not how I do things." I spoke directly to the older boy, and walked off. My heart was pounding, my breath was slow, and I could feel the eyes of the students watching me as I crossed over to the platform. I held the switch in my hands, and looked down towards Michael, who was now standing, brushing dirt off his pants. I snapped the switch and tossed it away, before hearing a voice cry out.
"Christopher! Get down here now." It was Jeremy. I hopped off the platform and he swatted me hard against the side of the head. "Michael is your authority. You are to listen to him and to do as he says. Get to the administrator's building now." He pointed.
The administrator's building was near to where we had breakfast. I opened it up and took a seat on the long bench. As I sat, I felt a nudge to my side and peering up, I saw the smile of Jackson. "Hey. I see you got in trouble, too."
"Yea... guess I'm not teacher material. What'd you do?"
"Nothing. They sent me off to clean, but I didn't work, just stood around watching. They say I'm a real troublemaker."
My heart pounded, I could see visions of Jackson, melting away under whatever it was in that room. "We have to get out of here, they're crazy. They kill people."
Jackson peered over at me, "You alright? That's a bit of crazy talk."
"The... building in the courtyard. The tall thin one with the pipes... it's, I dunno, a killing chamber."
"That's brutal." Jackson said, looking down. "Well, we need a plan, and an escape route."
"Maybe... I had a cell phone in my bag. I'm sure lots of other kids did too... maybe if we get one we can call the police."
"They won't believe us."
"They've got to... or we're dead."
"Christopher, the administrator wants to see you." A woman called from the office nearby.
"Spread the word, any who will listen, tell them we're going to get out of here."