by Max Barry

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by The Rogue Nation of The Polar Nation. . 6 reads.

Diary of an Escaped Slave (Lore!)

The following document was found in Botswanan government archives. It provides a detailed and terrifying account of what it is like to be a slave of a Polar Nation person. GENERAL TRIGGER WARNING, IN FACT, ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS: the details are stark.

The document is a loose-leaf notebook, like in an American office, written on with blue pen in shaky handwriting. It is believed that the writer was recaptured after finishing the last entry found. The entries appear to be written a couple of days apart from each other, and it appears that the writer wrote them in short bursts.

The writer is most likely a Tswana woman from a small village in Botswana or South Africa. She is probably in her early-to-mid twenties, although there is a horrifying possibility she was a teenager. Let us hope she is still alive.

Entry 1

I have finally escaped. I don't know how, but Jensen's security was lax today, and I ran away. Thankfully, the Kalahari is my native land, and it is easy for me to hide myself here. Jensen was off on a mission of some kind, and I took the opportunity to sneak away. I stole some papers and a pen. I'm glad Jensen didn't manage to beat the writing out of me.

I think the only way to get over the tragedy of what happened to me is to write it down. Even though it's just scribbles, I hope it will help.

Jensen was the worst man ever. I don't remember any other name he had he probably beat that knowledge out of me. I probably know more about Jensen I WILL NEVER CALL HIM MASTER than I do about myself. He didn't have a wife, but some girls sometimes came to see Jensen. I don't know why any woman would want to be around him.

Jensen's place was never used for growing crops. We all had to break rocks, day after day. I think Jensen already had a lot of wealth, and the only reason he owned slaves was to satisfy his lust for murder and torture.

Jensen had a domestic slave who was lighter-skinned than me and didn't speak the same language. He was broken. The domestic slave accompanied Jensen everywhere he went. The domestic slave slept on a straw mat and dressed in cleaner clothes than I did. We were all jealous of that slave, until I heard him crying in the night.

Once, Jensen had the idea that he wanted to play the piano. I was ordered by him to bring him food, but Jensen wasn't hungry. One of Jensen's girls whipped me while Jensen sat at the piano, playing and listening to me scream. I don't know how he managed doing both things at the same time. His playing was terrible.

Later, they made me dance while shooting at my feet. Despite myself, I still like dancing, and I made the mistake of smiling. When Jensen saw me smiling, he ordered me down on the ground and his girls pelted my back with rocks. When I started crying, the rocks stopped, and I got extra rations that night for being a good tropical who knows her place, the place of crying.

Let my account prove to all of you that there are fates worse than death.

Entry 2

I finally remembered how I arrived in hell. I wasn't going to write any more until I remembered, but now I do.

I don't remember most of my childhood. I used to, but then they beat the memories out of me. I remember the skills I learned then, though. I think my mom taught me how to survive in the Kalahari, and I think I learned how to write in a small school.

What I do remember is how I got captured. It was a couple of years ago, maybe two years after I became a woman. I was walking outside my village when I heard footsteps. I turned around and saw men, white men and men who looked like the Chinese construction men I saw some days before, and women too. They were carrying guns and were pointing at the strongest people in our village and seizing them. An old white man seized me, andóthe rest of the page is illegible and covered in tears.

The next thing I knew, I was in a small hut, with some of my friends from the village. The old white man, who I later found out was that hated Jensen, ranted at us in a language we did not understand. The eldest and wisest among us started sobbing. She knew Jensen's language. Jensen pointed a gun at her and forced her to translate.

The translation went: we were all tropicals, doomed to be inferior and unworthy of anything more than actual human capital. The sooner we realized this, the better. We should all end up crying like the woman who spoke the language.

Jensen talked about breaking us, like we were farm animals. I spoke up in my own language, objecting to be called an animal. Jensen didn't understand, and he didn't ask the wise woman to translate. He knew that I didn't like the treatment I would be given. I am lucky. He didn't kill me. Jensen merely slapped the gun on the back of my head, and I blacked out. I am lucky.

After that, Jensen would single me out for the worst treatment. He never broke me. I am a human. The others forgot what it was like to be free. I almost forgot, I forgot most of my old life, but I know the feeling of freedom, and that's what counts.

I remember when I woke up, I was in chains. I somehow understood that I had to sleep in chains. It was uncomfortable, but I barely noticed it because of all the terrible pain I felt every day.

I sneered at my first rations. It was a slice of moldy bread and some fake coffee. When I pushed away the food, Jensen told me that at least I had food, at least I wasn't starved to death like the slaves of a man named Kovalov. I scraped off the mold and ate it.

Entry 3

I was lucky. I didn't get violated physically. Jensen would rant about how my kind was inferior to his kind, and he didn't even want to touch us. Most of the people here were young females, but that was because I remember Jensen talking about how it was poetic to steal a tribe's destiny by taking away their unmarried women.

We weren't allowed to give birth or marry. If two people of the opposite gender, or even the same gender, looked at each other with love in their eyes, Jensen would kill one of them in front of the other member of the couple. Pregnant women were forced to miscarry through a coat hanger or punching the belly. Jensen would talk about how tropicals should be exterminated eventually.

When Jensen talked about how tropicals would be exterminated, I laughed at him. If he was trying to exterminate us, why was he keeping us as slaves and torturing us instead of shooting us with his gun? When I questioned Jensen, he flung me to the ground and beat my head with his bare fists until I saw blood running down in front of my eyes.

Entry 4

Even I didn't suffer so much as some other people I knew. I am lucky. If I write what I saw happen to my friends, I will get over what I saw.

Everyone was my friends. Hardship is good for making friends. It didn't pay to become an enemy in that place where there were too many enemies. If Jensen knew that every man and woman that he oppressed had become friends, he would be very disappointed.

Rorisang was my friend. She comforted me when Jensen beat me, even when she was black and blue herself. One cool day, Rorisang had the idiocy to sass Jensen. Jensen made Rorisang lie down on her stomach between two boards of wood with rocks on top of them. This way, she couldn't fling the boards off herself. Bread and water would be brought to her every day, just so she could die slower. During the first day, Rorisang ate the bread and water. During the second day, the bread was eaten but the water untouched. During the third day, I remember a terrible smell that came from the room Rorisang was in. When I checked on her, rats were gnawing on her dead body. The rats had eaten the bread that second day, and then they ate Rorisang.

There was a man named Mothophi there. He didn't talk back or rebel in any way until the day he tried to run away. When he was caught, Jensen cut the sinews in his ankles off, so he couldn't run away. Mothophi couldn't walk, either, but he was chained to a rock anyway, so that didn't matter. Last I knew, he was miraculously still alive, but Jensen would probably have killed him in reaction to my escape.

Entry 5

I don't remember if I wrote down how they tortured me. They beat me so hard I have memory problems.


Entry 6

It is time to write down why I ran away. I heard Jensen speaking to one of his girls about how he was going to sell his most uppity slaves to a man named Kovalov. He named names, and one of the names was me. I think they knew I was watching. They talked at length about this man Kovalov's insanity, how he treated slaves worse than Jensen. They thought I was going to be driven to apathy, or cry too much to run away. The information had the opposite effect. I knew for sure I was going to run away before I saw this Kovalov.

I think they caught me, last night, I thought I heard footsteps and evil laughter. It might be a nightmare, but I think I should trust my intuition on this. I must flee this place, but I must make sure friendly people see this journal thing. I mustóthe rest of the page has been ripped off.

I think I lost them. At least, I hope I did. Maybe I can lie under this tree and wait until morning. Maybe I'm delirious from lack of water. I don't know. I think I see their shadows. No it's delusion.

If I die, at least I'll be free.