Nobody moved. Soft whimpers rippled through the crowd. One hundred heads bowed; their eyes downcast, for to make eye contact was certain death. Thin arms wrapped around loved ones, holding them close to prevent them from being selected. Once a day for the past three months, this was their hell. Their numbers slowly dwindled, and none of the workers expected to make it out of the camp alive.


“No one?” The gruff voice bellowed again. The man’s eyes shone with delight at the winces and whimpers of his captive audience. “If there are no volunteers, then I suppose we shall start with the youngest.” This comment elicited cries from the few people gathered around the youngest, a child of six.


Noiselessly, an old man near the back of the group struggled to his feet. Months of starvation and hard labour had turned his body into a flesh-covered skeleton. Eyes sunken into his skull stared unwaveringly at the man that tormented them. While physically unimpressive, the man held a power that even their captor did not seem to possess.


“You are weak.” The old man spoke with the practiced voice of a lecturer or politician. He shuffled carefully around the seated people. “A peon with no thoughts in his skull with no ounce of humanity or courage. Be a thug to some trumped up nobody. No one will remember their name, and no one will remember yours.”


The captor’s face flamed as the skeleton man approached him. His jaw clenched tight, unable to formulate any response. Instead, he grabbed the man’s arm, ignoring the sharp crack, though the cry of pain brought him some joy. He dragged the man off but left the others alone.

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