The loaded fork stopped short of the man's mouth. His eyes scanned the room to find out where the shout came from, his eyes followed to the door of the room and stopped. There in the doorway he could make out four officers, guns ready should he move unexpectedly.
"Put your hands where we can see them!" A moment passed as the man wondered whether or not to eat his last forkful before doing as he was told. He thought better of it and put the fork, still loaded on to his plate. Slowly he raised his arms in the air.
Officers streamed into the cramped room, surrounding the man there were as many as could fit with space enough to raise a gun.
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Some officers were what seemed to be too close to the table, but they could not retreat for the officers behind them. One man passed out from the sight, he was dragged out before he caused a commotion.
The seated man smiled at the officer's weakness and followed his limp body out of the room with his eyes.
There continued a small bustle as the man was arrested, read his rights, cuffed, masked and shackled. He was walked out of the room, up the flight of stairs that led from the basement flat and out in to the street, where he could see how important he was. Squad cars, and two SWAT vans littered the already dark street. The man could just make out the head of the police department sat comfortably in his black, government car.
The man was shoved into the back of an armoured van which already contained three well built men. They were fully equipped with batons and cattle prods. The man decided it best to sit quietly and enjoyed the ride in the windowless van. He shut his eyes and dreamed as he swayed with the jolts the dirt road gave the van.
What seemed like hours had passed when the van finally stopped. A minute later, the doors opened and the man was pulled out, still cuffed, masked and shackled. He was escorted into a large important looking building filled with blue uniformed men. The man was led through a maze of corridors and pass checks. They came to a narrow, brightly lit, warm corridor with sound proofed walls and bullet-proof Perspex panels and doors that opened in on to neat holding cells.
He was taken down to the last cell on the left, even though all the other nine cells were empty. His cuffs and mask were taken off but they left the shackles, he was politely asked to step inside the cell. He thanked the two officers that had been left with him and walked into the cell. The door was locked behind him. The officers out of duty asked if he wanted anything.
"I'm a bit hungry." The blood drained from the younger officer's face. "I was wondering if I could finish my meal?" From the look on their faces he could tell the answer was no. "Maybe I could have a snack, a packet of crisps or something?" Their faces seemed to relax. "What flavour?" Quested the young officer. "Bacon if possible." The man saw the young officer recoil, the older officer seemed better trained and showed no emotion. "We'll see what we can do." The older officer stated. "Thank you," the man responded, "By the way, do you know how long I'm going to be here? I mean will I just have to wait for a little bit or will I have more time that I could waste sleeping or something?"
"We don't know. Do what you see fit." The older officer motioned the younger officer to follow and they walked out of the man's view.
The man settled down and took in his surroundings. Three white walls and one Perspex panel and door held him captive. There was a smooth cot bed made up too perfection with cream blankets and sheets. A steel toilet stood quietly in the corner with a small matching basin next to it. Nothing else furnished the room.
The man sat down on the floor and leaned against the cot. With the cool metal side of it in his back he knew he would not be comfortable in this position for long, but he was too lazy to move yet.
He dreamed of a starter of soft Cornish crackers, smothered with liver pï¿½tï¿½. For the main course a beautifully cooked meat pie, soaked in gravy with a very small salad on the side. For dessert a tray of mince pies. He always wondered why they never actually had any real mince in them but even so he delighted in eating them, just for their name.
Just as he finished his first mince pie and was about to reach out for another, a soft knocking on the door interrupted him. He opened his eyes to the older officer standing outside the cell staring at him.
The man stood and stepped forward towards the glass. The officer stepped back and from his pocket produced a shiny packet. "I only have roast chicken flavour left." The man looked at the officer puzzled. "It must have been confiscated from a convict, nobody will miss it I assure you." The officer spoke too quickly. He placed the packet in the food tray on the floor and slid it shut so that the drawer's content was now on the inside of the cell. The man picked it up.
"Thank you very much. I wasn't expecting anything at all. Thank you again." The man sat on the cot and proceeded to open the packet of crisps. He placed the bag close to his face and smelled its contents. He looked back at the glass and was surprised to see the officer still there. He smiled and pulled out a wafer of potato. As he crunched into it, the officer turned and walked away, the man thought he saw a smile on the officers face but could not be sure. It almost looked as if the officer was longing for something, but the man dismissed that idea, why would an officer long for a packet of crisps? The officer probably was feeling sorry for the man.
The man ate half the packet and decided to save the rest for later. He put the packet under the cot pillow. He kicked off his shoes, imitation leather, slid on to his side and drifted off to sleep on the cot.
A long while later, he was woken up by a buzzer he could not see. He stood in time to see four officers at his cell. He was led through another maze of corridors and pass checks to a small questioning room.
He was sat down at a medium sized wooden table with two chairs, one that he occupied. A large mirror took up the wall opposite where the man sat. He suspected it to be a two-way mirror for obvious reasons. He was left there with the shackles clinking softly at his ankles.
Two officers entered around a half hour later. One sat down, the other stood in the shadow near the door.
The seated officer placed a Dictaphone on the table, switched it on and stated the date, time and the names of all present in the room. The man was shocked that it had been a full 12 hours since he had been caught.
Then it began; the barrage of questions. First they started slowly; his name, age, date of birth, height, weight and so on. They gave him time to answer each question fully and only asked another when he looked as if he had nothing more to say. Then they began to speed up.
"When was the last time he had food?" He told of the crisps, interrupting they asked what flavour. "Roast Chicken."
"Who gave them to you?"
"Another officer, I don't know his name."
"Do we look stupid?" The man did not answer. "No officer is allowed to give you food."
"No officer would give you chicken flavour crisps." The man put his head down as in defeat.
"And before that? What was the next before last thing you ate?"
"Meat." The man had raised his head to look the officer in the face before he had replied. A look clouded both officers' faces. The seated officer rose and motioned the other to sit.
This officer was dressed differently, for one she wore a dark blue skirt rather than trousers. Instead of the usual white shirt the men wore, she wore a light blue blouse and a small tailored dark blue waistcoat.
"This, " motioned the now standing officer, "is officer Ali, first name Aliya. She is very familiar with your type of problem."
"Hello." A quiet, slightly shaky voice indicated she was not as good as her introduction.
"Hello Miss." The man said politely.
"Address the officer properly."
"Nice to meet you officer Ali."
"That's okay officer. Let the man relax." The standing officer grunted indignantly and walked towards the door to lean against the wall near the light switch.
"Okay. Let's start." The young lady produced a bunch of papers from a small briefcase by her feet.
"These are just a few character tests I need you do to so that I can help you. Would you mind taking one of these?" She looked at the officer for approval. He nodded.
"Not at all officer. I know I'm sick and need help. But I haven't the will power." The man looked genuine in his feelings.
"Okay. Right. Okay. How often do you eat meat?" She laboured over the last word, as if it was uncommon. "Not very often only when I can find some. Then I tend to gorge myself on it."
"And where do you get your...meat?" She fuddled over the word again
"An out of town butcher" The man said flatly.
"Really?" She raised her eyebrows in surprise. She suspected he was lying.
"No. I catch it myself. I stalk them and then kill them with a knife, that way not bullets or poison spoils it." He had lied and had thought better of it to tell he truth. He put his head down again in shame.
"Spoils it?" Her eyebrows now knit together in curios
"The taste is better if there isn't all that stuff." He was a little cautious of his answers but he was trying to be as honest as he could, he wanted help and they could only help him if they knew everything.
"Ok. Do you think you could ever stop...doing what you are doing?" She struggled again to ask these questions. This was new to her, she had only been doing this for about a month and this was the first man who was this honest. The rest of the offenders usually laid the whole way through. She knew why; they had heard of what would happen to them if they were convicted.
"I hope so. I can go without it for long, weeks at a time but then a craving for it plagues my mind and body." He looked for some kind of reaction in here eyes. Another inquisitive look knotted hey eyebrows together.
"You have withdrawal symptoms?"
"Yes. I start, dreaming. I'm a good cook. I dream up dishes that I can make. I can make anything out of any bit of meat." He sounded slightly proud of himself. But then he remembered why he was there and retreated back to feeling sorry for himself.
"Can I ask why you call it meat? Not flesh, or food?"
"If you think of it as what it really is, then you begin to feel guilty. I don't like feeling bad, so I don't think of them as anything important, only as bits of meat that taste nice." It was an answer given matter-of-factly.
"If we put you on a diet of only vegetables would you be able to survive?" She looked for a way out for him, she felt sorry for him.
"Yes of course, I wouldn't like it though." This was not going well for the man. She asked the final question that she knew would decide his fate. She wished he would answer correctly but she could give no kind of indication to him as to what his answer should be.
"If you had the chance to have meat again after this interview would you take it?" A slight pause as the man put his head down and answered n a small voice.
"Yes." Suddenly the door burst in and armed guards rushed into the small room. In desperation the man realised that the rumours of what happened to people like him were true and that he had just sealed his fate. "I mean no, I wouldn't. I wouldn't! I promise, no, no I wouldn't." He screamed apologetically, begging for forgiveness and promising that he would be good. He sounded like a little boy begging his parents for one more chance after doing something wrong and knowing he would be punished.
The office seated stood up and walked out of the room. She looked back at the man with sympathy but she knew she could do nothing. He had answered wrong. He was dragged out of the room by guards who had been waiting outside the door. "No! I promise, never again!"
The man was taken to a cell not too far from the questioning room. He cried and screamed, kicked and bit. He tried everything to free himself. It didn't work.
He was thrown into a small cell, 4 foot by 3. Blood was spattered on the walls and the man shook as he realised in his mind what was actually going to happen. Three small flaps near the floor opposite the now bolted steel door snapped open. Out of them came a stream of fat brown rats. They circled him, ring upon ring formed round him, the man stood still, his eyes racing round to each small set of beady eyes. Their bright yellow teeth were visible and chattered every so often, all daring each other to jump first. A silent sign made them all pounce on him.
He shrieked and tried to pull them off. They bit through his shirt, on his bare arms and at his legs. Many drew blood on their first bite. These were well-trained assassins. They were hungry and wanted meat. The man's shoes had been kicked during the scrap and now the rats bit at his socks. The man fell on the floor and they swarmed him. Wave upon wave of pain coursed through the man.
They were biting all over his body, regardless of whether it was clothed or not. If it were clothed, they would slash an opening and clamber through to the soft skin underneath. The rats were in his shirt, in his trousers biting at everything. The man continued to fight them off, but there were just too many.
He kept screaming until one rat dared to jump into in and bite his tongue. The man bit down as hard as he could. Half the rat fell off of him, tail still twitching. He spat the other half out and spat out the rodent's blood, it mingled with his own from the bite on the tip of his tongue. He stopped screaming but when a rat latched on to his nose he yelped in pain. It's tail swung into his mouth and he bit it off accidentally swallowing it.
Another rat bit down into the flesh between his thumb and fore finger, he tried to shake it off but the momentum plus the weight of the rat caused the flesh to rip and the rat to fly off with part of the man in it's mouth. It dropped the meat and attacked him again on his other hand hoping for a larger piece.
Rats on the man's belly ripped and clawed their way past the skin, getting to the soft meat beneath it. Five especially fat rats tunnelled through the man into his abdomen and chest. The man could not breathe, as his lungs were half eaten. He coughed up blood and in it was a bit of a rat's tail. The man retched but nothing came up as his stomach was on the floor in front of him.
Eventually the man ceased to move. His efforts for survival had been futile. The rats continued their meal until all that was left was the bones of a man. When they were full they sat in the corners of the room letting the still-hungry rats gorge till they themselves could eat no more.
Hours passed and slowly the rats scampered back to their homes on the other side of the flaps, where more food was.
When every rat had gone, two officers shut the flaps, opened the door and collected the remains. They remarked about how efficient the rats were getting, this one had died within two hours of being locked in. The other remarked the time was too short and that every non-vegetarian should endure the most torture they could receive before dying.
They both agreed that all meat eaters should be put to death and that this was the most fitting way for it too be done but they still continued to argue over how long it should last. Their argument lasted all the way to the dump where they threw the filled bin liners into a newly dug pit, big enough for thirty bags or so. By then they had grown tired of the discussion and were now debating whether to go to the new veggie-restaurant, or go to the usual veggie noodle bar for lunch.
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