The night was warm and humid. The last of the summer breeze was gently blowing across the vast expanses of sand and gravel, occasionally rattling the solitary windows of the antique barracks. Maya turned the lens on her camera so that it would adjust to the darkness around her. The scene on the viewfinder changed from a black screen to the seemingly dilapidated bunkers- Maya nodded in satisfaction. This was the second session of her Concentration Camp documentary- something quite close to her heart. What was a tourist attraction by day, seemed to revel in its former ill-repute by night. Apart from a few guards and her team, the memorial site was devoid of people. It was quiet inside the camp and quieter so in the barracks. Maya could hear the sound of her feet against the wood as she moved closer to the bunkers. The barracks had been restored to resemble the ones which had prevailed during the time of prisoners. The bunkers stood in their wooden glory with cement beds and straw sheets. Each barrack, which had been built to accommodate two hundred prisoners, had seen nearly two thousand occupants camp together and over five thousand deaths. No wonder the night seemed eerie.
Maya ran her hand across the cement as the breeze turned into a wind and made the doors and windows slam against their frame. She was startled as shiver ran down her spine. It wasn’t even cold yet. She turned to look outside the windows as the winds began to howl, to see Rory, making his way towards her from the crematorium. She breathed a sigh of relief. The wind carried dead leaves and dark feathers into the room and Maya’s eye followed their ascent to the uppermost bunk where they settled for the moment. She lowered her camera and turned towards the windows to shut out the wind when she noticed Rory’s disappearance. Had she been looking at the leaves that long? Had she been imagining Rory’s return? Her stomach ached with fear. She sat herself down on the lowest bunk, minding her head, and rolled back the recording on her camera to confirm that Rory had been coming her way. She felt an almost childish need for reassurance. Before the video could rewind itself, Maya became distracted by a sickly-sweet smell which had taken over the room. It grew stronger and more nauseating before it turned pungent. The air in the room seemed to be pressing itself against her, suffocating her as the smell turned unbearable. The winds continued to howl and the windows rattled. It over-powered her ability to think freely and the camera fell off her shoulder as she lost grip. “The smell of death”- it came to her from nowhere. She pushed herself off the bunk with an unusual amount of effort. But weren’t the circumstances unusual too? In her state of semi-consciousness, she picked up her camera and raced through the rattling door, past the apparently unending corridor lined with bunks and open lavatories. The suffocating smell was now accompanied by voices other than those of the wind. Or had the wind had observed a human tone? They were whispers to begin with- soft and sleepy. But just like the stench, they graduated to agonizing calls for help and piercing screams. “The sound of death”, she thought. The corridor ended with a wall and she took a sharp turn out of the barrack when she heard the first gunshot go off. She tried to run, the adrenaline pumping inside her blood, but her motions were restricted. Her legs felt shackled by the wind that was blowing against her and a pair of soft hands seemed to hold her back and slow her down. The gravel wasn’t helping her cause. The softness of the hands was replaced by what felt like a coarse rope wrapping around her neck- hard and fast. Then hands of death? She let out her first sound for the night- a cry or a scream? They couldn’t be told apart. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her. Her head was spinning with the stench, the voices, the screams, the gunshots and the wind. She ran as her life flashed before her eyes in a fashion cinematic to all but it’s only viewer.
At last she reached the long patch of grass. She relaxed as she tried to regain composure and control of her senses. The worst was over. But her moment of relief was short-lived when she noticed the deep moat and the barbed-wire fence in front of her. She was sure it hadn’t been there in the morning. She felt a bout of nausea and confusion come out of thin air and punch her right in the face. Or was the wind just that strong? Maya heard a gunshot go off- louder this time. She felt a searing pain at her side as she wrapped her hands against where the bullet had entered her body and collapsed on the grass. She shut her eyes and succumbed to the pain. It was her first encounter with schizophrenia.