We knew it would be difficult, but that was about it. Most, if not all kids in year 4 and 5 were quite ignorant of what exactly waited for us at the Institute. And those who did know, those who had passed the test, would not speak about it. Some would smile a little. Some would smile a lot. Older pupils would murmur with certain fondness about their time there. Others seemed less incline to even mention their experience. The closest thing to an advice I got came from a boy with a huge scar across his cheek. He told me not to get too attached to anyone until year 6.
We were excited, just the same. Because if we achieved the goal at the Institute, whichever this might be, it would mean that we would be considered proper citizens of our nation, apt material to be part of the glorious army or the venerable governmental offices of our magnificent country. Or, depending on how things went, we could end up as labourers –but it was best not to even consider that possibility, although Father insisted that they too helped make our land great.
Our parents were extremely serious the day they dropped my sister and I at the Institute. Mother hugged me so strongly I felt she was going to break my bones. Then the officials took us to our room. And that night we met our Monster.
I thought I was going to die that very first time. Later I thought it could no possibly get worse. As days and nights passed, I thought I would eventually get accustomed to the pain. I was wrong.
Every night we would hold hands, my sister and I, and look at the long shadow that slithered under the door and swung to and fro, like the pendulum in a grandfather clock. Some time it would stop, right in the middle, and stand still -so still that it would melt with the darkness and disappear, as if she were not there on the other side, waiting, smiling, her long canines ripping the edges of her full mouth. That’s when we would stop breathing, my sister and I. We would stop shaking, and thinking and praying and living. The blackness of the room would seem to swell as our heart beats became audible and she sniffed the air, on the other side of the door, smelling our terror. Then the door’s handle would come down, slowly (oh so excruciatingly slowly!) till the click liberated the beast and the wooden door creaked, letting her in. And we would wish we were dead, like the ones before us. But it was not to be. Not yet.
We did not plan to kill her. Not what you would call real planning. I don’t believe we even thought she could die…or that she was even alive for that matter. She just went one step too far, did a hurt too many and we finally fully lost it –our last trace of fear. I stroke the first blow, literally. I took one of the chairs and crashed it over her head as she leaned over my sister. She did not scream. For a moment, everyone stopped moving. Then my sister punched her, hard, and as she bend in two I broke the chair onto her back and we stood up, my sister and I, and kicked her, once, twice, one more time, you bitch, now you cry, now you beg, now let your blood paint the walls red, now let it be you, again and again, you, pleading, crouching, crying, your tears washing the floor, watering their bones, becoming the only sign of mourning your death shall ever get!
It felt good.
Empowering, my mother would later say. The whole family was waiting for us on the other side of the door the next day. Grandmother had a beautifully decorated cake on her hands and Father beamed as a high street on Christmas Eve. They waited for the officials to enter the room and confirm our killing. Then they ran as a pack and embraced us, cleaning the blood from our face and hands with their kisses.
‘Two weeks!’ exclaimed uncle Hoover. ‘It only took you two weeks to destroy her! Girls, that’s remarkable. I am so very proud of you both!’
‘Your first monster! Oh, my babies are all grown up now’ Mother said, wiping away a tiny tear.
“It took uncle Hoover and I a whole month to get rid of ours, remember Hoov? asked Father.
‘How can I forget?’ uncle Hoover replied, pointing at his empty eye socket.
We all laughed.
‘I think is time to take them home and let them have a good rest’ Grandfather said.
We all agreed.
Behind us, the officials were busy, putting the body of the woman in a black sac. Nobody knew for sure were did they get them, these monsters. Some said they were bred; others said they were hunted from alien worlds. They looked just like us. And like our enemies. Father thought that we should erect some sort of monument in their honour. It was thanks to them, he said, that our nation was grand; that we could walk into battle without trepidations and had been able to conquer and obliterate those who endanger us and our illustrious noble land. Mother believed that there were better ways to spend money than to glorify animals. As we left the Institute, a boy and girl of about nine were being brought in by their parents. I thought about the bones in our cell room.
I wonder if they ever made it.