The room was shrouded in darkness, as was always the case. A sliver of light filtered through the small, reinforced window at the top of the door, but it wasn't enough to illuminate the room. Not that there was anything to see in it anyway. It was a small space with dull white walls, an uncomfortable cot and a metallic toilet. The cot's flimsy cover – its edges frayed by overuse – was wrapped around her shoulders in a vain attempt to warm her frail body. It never did.
She sat on the bed, one leg stretched out on the hard mattress, the other pulled up against her chest. A thin arm was draped over it while the other one lay limply by her side. Both her hands were encompassed in heavy steel gauntlets – a grotesque parody of mittens. Her head was bowed, long strands of lifeless white hair falling over closed eyes. Her breath came out in ragged, wheezy puffs, the only sound in a world of silence.
She was sick again. No, not again. Always. It was a never-ending cycle of hacking coughs, relentless fevers and searing pain. Not that they cared. She could die and they wouldn't bat an eye. It might even make them happy. One less mouth to feed, one less body to watch over. So she clung to life, desperately, furiously. Let them listen to her violent coughing, watch her throw up the meager meals they deigned serving her twice a day and be annoyed; be frustrated by the malnourished, weak slip of a woman that had refused to die for over a decade.
The metallic hatch at the bottom of her door was slid aside, startling her eyes open. A pair of gray irises zeroed in on the tray that was unceremoniously shoved inside her cell. Breakfast.
Slowly sliding her legs off the cot, she made her way towards the it. Bending over, she carefully grasped the edges and carried it back to her bed, gently depositing it on her skinny thighs. The gauntlets were designed in a way that allowed her to move her thumbs.
A slice of stale bread, a tasteless sludge and a glass of water made up her meal. The usual teaspoon was taunting her from where it had been positioned next to the bowl. The gauntlet was heavy, especially around the wrists, and her mobility so reduced, she could barely grasp a regular spoon let alone its smaller counterpart. Which they were perfectly aware of. It was a petty, cruel joke that she had no doubt they reveled in. Maybe this was their way of punishing her for her continued survival. Not that it mattered.
She awkwardly grasped the bowl and brought it to her lips, gulping down its contents, some of it dribbling past her chin and onto her filthy clothes. Tight, long-sleeved shirt and pants that had once been baggy and white, but were now soiled by food, sweat stains and other fluids she'd rather not think of.
She dropped the empty bowl back on the tray and went for the bread, which required three attempts before she managed to grab it. The camera on the far side of the room was trained on her, watching her every movement.
When she emptied the glass of lukewarm water, she dropped the tray on the floor and shoved it towards the door. It only made it halfway through the room, forcing her to stand and repeat the movement. Her obvious weakness was embarrassing, but she was beyond shame. Beyond pride or self-awareness. Years of imprisonment and health issues combined with constant surveillance had stripped her of whatever dignity she might have brought along. The observations had drained away her happiness, the poking and prodding had dried up her tears and the experiments crushed her hopes. All that was left inside her was anger. Simmering, unfading fury and the vow that she would live long enough to see them burn.
She slid back up on her cot until her back hit the wall. She rested her head against the cold surface, a migraine slowly worming itself between her brows. Closing her eyes, she silently willed it away, well aware it wouldn't change anything. She exhaled, only to be interrupted by a violent coughing fit. She was up for a rough couple of days again. Her hands rested heavily in her lap as she reached for the comfort and familiarity of the anger boiling right underneath her skin.