James stumbled through the dark, tripping over piles of shoes strewn all about the room. The air was heavy and oppressive, and still as the water at its calm ebb tide. There was a slight chill. Nothing could be seen by James and the people around him;; they had to know their way around.
He traced a crack in the cold stone wall until he got to the point where it split, then turned left. Ducking underneath the bunk concealed by the dark in front of him, in which he had run into several times before, he tapped the wood until he touched the rugged blankets of his bed above.
Soundlessly he took his painful shoes off and set them upon the shelf next to him. After rubbing his sore feet, he felt for and climbed the ladder into his bunk, which squeaked loudly under his weight. Hurrying up, that he might not wake the few who were asleep, James lied on his back with his hands crossed. He looked up with eyes wide open, wishing something would pierce the darkness above him and show the mysterious light he had seen so long ago. Finally he brought back into focus the loud sobbing, screaming, and moaning of the people around him. This he had learned to tune out from long nights of sleeplessness.
"So? Wha'd ya come up with?" Questioned Joe, an insightful man of sixty-two who had taken James under his wing when he had first come into the horrid place at a young age. Here, after years upon years of James being one of its occupants, Joe had shared with him his knowledge of how to keep one's sanity here: finding a quiet place and simply thinking for a while at night. Everyone that knew him respected him for his experience and wisdom, despite his unfortunate story.
James remained silent for a few moments, before taking a sudden breath and asking, "Do you think we will ever see? They've cast us here for so long that I hardly believe sight exists anymore. Everything I remember from when I was young, I begin to think that it was only a dream, a hope of my imagination."
"Well, I was born into this here place, what with my mother, God bless 'er heart, bein' one 'a them screamers. I couldn't tell ya the difference between what I seen in mah eyes," He reached over to James' hand, which he touched to his eyes, "And mah head," now tapping to his skull. "Where I am, there ain't no dreamin' what'cha seen. You either seen it or you ain't."
"Do you really think I saw, Joe?" James exclaimed, raising his voice. He felt something fly close to his face as someone nearby cursed angrily in a muffled gibberish. This time he whispered. "You think I saw, Joe?" He repeated.
"All I'm sayin' is this: if you's think you dreampt it then maybe you's dreampt it. But it'd be a real thing to 'ave that. Know all the people 'round here just go 'round cryin' and screamin' their demons. Maybe thems'd all SHUT UP if they's had that," he yelled at the person below them, who was repeating something frantically with increasing volume.
After another momentary silence, James asked, "What's the point of all this? It's as if before we're born, we're chosen to come here. Is there no way out?"
"Wellp..." Joe said, contemplating the question. "Maybe we is chosen, maybe we ain't. If I should find mah way to the place that you's all come from, I should think I could do well with less oppressiveness on mah shoulders," he rubbed his feet together for warmth. " 'Course then I shouldn't know what to do with maself. This here, see, is all I ever known. To be honest whicha, I'm quite content, this bein' mah birthplace and means o' dwellin'. Sure, it's got its downfalls, but this is mah home, and these are mah family." Joe listened to the moaning around him, and perhaps reconsidered. "Anyway, mah point is, if you's ever find a place better than this here, you go on. But I think we've got a point here, seen or not."
James chuckled at the play on words. "Perhaps we'll figure it out sooner or later. Goodnight, Joe."
"G'night." Joe squeezed the boy's hand hand, and not a moment later began to snore.