My head pounded still from where they’d “accidentally” knocked it against a rock as they set me down in the cell. My body was hot, and it felt like I’d swallowed fire, hotter than the hottest cocoa you’d ever drunk by mistake. My chest continued to burn for hours, and I couldn’t taste any of the moldy bread they tossed down for the rodents. It was the first time I saw a real, live rat. They’re unbelievably hairy and disgusting. At least compared to what I knew. Everything I was used to seeing was shiny and scaly: insects and fishes and tadpoles. Most other animals we heard about were in schoolbooks and movies about the times before the Great War, when such creatures still existed. Actually, that’s where the majority of everything I knew came from: several hundreds of years before even my great-grandparents were born.
To what extent had they blinded us? Just how many things had they thrown out of sight beyond the Wall? They said the Wall was made for protection, and the Watchers stood guard, looking out for trolls and wild creatures in the bleak, outer country. Nobody went past the wall. Nobody wanted to.
What was out there? I’d always thought it was to keep bad things out. Maybe it was the other way around, and they just kept us happy where we were so we wouldn’t get curious to find out about what was out there and come back and start talking. The last time somebody tried that, they went crazy and drowned in the river. That’s what the news said.
I blinked and forgot to open my eyes.
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