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The Den of Decay

by Jessica Dahill Allen, aged 13

The Den of Decay

Read by Rhiannon Neads from the BBC Radio Drama Company.

I wake with a start, and a sick feeling spreads through my body like blood seeping from an open wound. It is my day of reckoning, the day I hoped would never come.

A dry, firm hand drags me from my safety chamber and thrusts me roughly towards the exit. Outside, the awaiting vehicle has its engine running and the back door gapes open with a grimace. The driver upfront is studying instructions on a screen and I sense that this could be my only chance for escape. The road in front of me is empty, the air is still and I creep stealthily towards a thin sliver of alleyway to my right. Just as I'm about to break into a run, the shadow of a threatening figure blocks my path. I am hopeless and helpless. I am condemned.

“Why am I here?” I challenge. “What have I done?”. As the car door slams behind me, I howl for help but no answer comes. The steely eyes of my captors ricochet off the mirror and pierce my core. Through the window, birds fly freely in the azure sky, trees sway in the breeze and in the distance the jaunty jingle of an ice cream van sings out, mockingly. We turn off the main road and as we approach an open, barren space the car begins to slow. My heart is beating so fast it feels like it may burst through my rib cage.

I am dragged up a long winding staircase with uneven wooden steps and my legs begin to give way. The hard walls press coldly on either side of my weak trembling arms and the stench of decay catches my throat.

A voice booms out from an ante-chamber.
“You're late. You must go straight in”, it rasps. Then, with menace, adds, “DON'T keep him waiting”.
Drained of their power now, my captors wilt and simperingly they shuffle me towards another door.
“Please, no, no, no don't this” I beg. But it's too late.

What stands before me is the face from my nightmares! Thin as a whippet, with cheek bones like daggers, his long bony fingers beckon me. The room is stark and surgical implements spark in the whiteness. A tiny window, no bigger than a letter box, lets in a slash of daylight and the only sound I can hear is the hiss of electricity. Test tubes, rubber gloves and needles litter the worktop which runs along one side of the room. In the centre, a huge chair dominates like a lion waiting for its prey. I approach with dread, but accept my fate.

The leather prickles against my skin, which is now mottled with sweat. The chair begins to buzz and a blinding light blocks my vision. Stars appear behind my eyes and I feel the last shred of hope leave my body. The chair shakes and strains and drags me down to the underworld. I whimper.

“Open wide”, says the dentist.

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