Steel-toed Timberlands made a distinct sound on the concrete floor – an ominous click amplified by the three-story open ceilings. At random intervals, the guard raked his club across cell bars, adding to the cacophony of jailhouse night noises.
After months of confinement, I became accustom to the endless discord. It was my heartbeat, my constant companion. When I thought of leaving, sometimes I wondered if I’d miss it.
My family lived beside the train tracks when I was a kid. The wail of the train’s whistle and the clatter of iron wheels became my lullaby. In college, away from home for the first time, I couldn’t sleep without that familiar song.
I stretched out as far as my cramped cot allowed. I didn’t like dropping my arms or legs over the edge of the bed. Since my incarceration, my childhood fear of monsters lurking beneath returned.
Weak shadows danced along the ceiling, flickering in the pale lamp light. I could barely make out the calendar on the opposite wall. Large X’s counted down the days until my time here ended.
I smiled remembering my last call from home. “Only five more sleeps mommy, just five more.” The blank squares shone like a beacon, the only bright points in my life.
The sudden quiet shook me out of my revery. The boots and club were eerily silent. Something was wrong. The boots never stopped.
A baleful rumbling rose from the bottom tier of cells. I could feel it through the floor. The calendar pages fluttered from the reverberations. A building crescendo of angry voices joined the fray.
Turning my cot on its side, I pulled the mattress over me, trying to build a shelter to hide from the evil that was coming. Just five more days, that was all I needed.
Then the lights went out.