• Chapter 1 Anna

    The storm clouds were gathering as I turned my back, this is where I begin my story, crossing the Baltic Sea, I am escaping a terrible life and past, forced to work like a slave, and beaten when I got in the way, but now I am on my way to England, there I could get a good job and a happy home, there I would be free.
    I must thank Mr Barasova, it is thanks to him alone we are leaving that despicable home, my brother, my friends and I, and we will never go back.
    It was so fortunate that Mr Barasova had come into our lives, the home did not have much money and he would help around the place, fixing what was in dire need of repair, even bringing small pies for us all and small toys for the small children, he was the only person in the home that treated us like human beings and not animals.
    A couple of months ago he told us about his poor friend in England, This poor soul needed workers to man his factory, at first he mentioned the thought of us working there as a joke, but as time wore on he became more and more persistent, insisting that we worked there, telling us about the beautiful homes and the beautiful families we would have in England.
    One Night he came after dark and told us about a boat that would be leaving in the morning for England and that we were welcome to come, so in the dead of night we snuck out of our beds and left for the docks, I was at first surprised by the mobsters that were hanging about the pier, until my Brother, Alexander, reminded me that this was illegal.
    That Led to now, on this boat, smaller than I could have imagined, hid among the cargo in the storage, but this boat is sailing with a purpose, to freedom, and to a better life.
    ‘Budet eto Dozhd?’ I whispered
    ‘English Anna, Practice your English’ answered Alexander through the utter impenetrable darkness.
    ‘Sorry Brother, will it rain?’ I replied with stilted English.
    ‘I do not know, possibly’
    I crept closer to him for the comfort that it would bring to be near him, as I watched him he stared off into the distance, his once soft eyes closed with surrounding worry, his once brave brow creased with uncertainty.
    ‘Does something trouble you Alex?’
    ‘No nothing’ he replied ‘Just try to get some sleep’
    ‘What about you? Are you tired?’
    ‘No, no, you know I cannot sleep on long journeys’
    As I slept he stayed silent, my last waking moments were filled with his face, so full of worry, but what can possibly go wrong, we will be happy in England I know it, Alex simple worries too much.

    I woke with a start as I was shaken, I could not see Alex anywhere and did not knew who would shake me so forcefully.
    ‘Wake up brat’ the stranger spat
    At this word I felt a sharp short pain across my face.
    He had slapped me
    ‘I said wake up. NOW! You shouldn’t hide from us little girl’
    ‘I did not hide what you mean to hit me like that? I cried, falling over my words.
    Through tear soaked eyes I looked for Alex, but could not find him anywhere in the hold as I was roughly picked up and frogmarched quickly up the stairs outside, I had not seen the sun for many days and it momentarily blinded me as if it was held to my face, I saw blobs and realised I was being taken to the biggest one, I rubbed my eyes and saw the bus.
    ‘Go in that, sit down and shut the hell up’ he shouted in my ear.
    I was shocked by the volume but moved forward as was ordered, as I entered the bus I saw two men sitting in the front seats, in their laps they held large rifles.
    ‘Sit down’ they barked simultaneously
    I surveyed the bus, my friends filled the first 4 rows, and then at the back, at least five rows from everyone else sat Alexander, obviously badly beaten, with cuts over his face and down his arms, his hair was a mess with clotted blood.
    ‘Alex?’ I shouted alarmed
    ‘Shut your face unless you want the same, now sit’ he said as he pointed to an empty spot in the fifth row.
    There was a hush as I approached, but I was briefed on the outcome of our journey, Mr Barasova had lied, there was no house to come, no easy factory job, no comfy life with a loving family, what was coming was a life I knew full well already, the life of a slave, Alex had overheard all of this while staying awake, but was discovered listening, he was taken to a small room and beaten almost none stop through the night, then carried out here as we had arrived, ha had defied them and now was being severely punished.
    Once the bus began the guard number increased substantially, every seat was filled, some were standing but all had a rifle slung around their backs or in their laps,
    And my dreams of a better life were dashed against the rocks like so many dreams before it.
    We rode in the bus for many hours, the windows were blacked out, perhaps so no one saw the badly beaten fifteen year old or the many armed guards guarding young children as young as ten, perhaps so we did not see where we were heading, a single tear was shed from my eye as I was destroyed by the bitterness of my situation, escaping on slavery in one part of the world to come to another where I had no records and could be worked to death, and no one would even know my name.
    I slept most of the journey, emotionally drained from the rude awakening, it had only taken at the most ten minutes from waking to setting off in the bus, but the sight of Alex in this state had sapped my strength and every glimpse of him tore my heart in every direction, and with every passing minute sleep was winning the battle and after hearing the story it eventually took over me.
    I woke a few hours later to hear the guards joke about what the horrors in store for us, 18-hour shifts, freezing cold winters with only a strip of wool to use as a blanket and to keep us warm, and the fiery hot summers with sun glaring at us, enough to make us crazy and hallucinate, they laughed as they recalled the story of a young man who they called ‘that weird little one’ who had believed the cess pit was actually a pool, And had jumped to his death, many of the guards believed that he had not been hallucinating.
    We arrived at a building a little later perhaps it was noon, if I had gauged to sun right, no later than one, we were ordered to line up in a large yard, it would take at least ten minutes to reach the chain link fences around the perimeter from the centre, we would be in no position to escape, we were obviously miles from anywhere, completely isolated.
    We waited a few minutes for a woman to come out, not daring to speak or move, she marched out stern and strait towards Alex, she was in her mid 20s and had a pretty face empty of lines, but her eyes were malicious, as if the devil himself would cower from just a glance from those evil eyes.
    ‘Is this him?’ she asked as she stood in front of the guard and the guard nodded.
    ‘Get on your knees, now I’ve been told what you did, didn’t your mother tell you eavesdropping was a bad thing’ she said as she pulled out a pistol and shot him clean between the eyes.
    He fell slowly, as if his body did not truly believe that the bullet had hit him, and I just stared unmoving.
    ‘That is the price for insolence’ she shouted flatly, as if she had just ordered a meal, not murdered in cold blood.
    ‘No’ I cried as I ran to him ‘you can’t be dead, you cant’
    ‘Get back to your space, NOW!’ she shouted carrying surprising volume for such a pretty face, but I just kneeled there by Alex, unable to move.
    ‘Go back now, or I can’t be held responsible’ she joked
    As I turned I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my face, but could not move, with my brother dead in my arms I had nothing to live for, I had no future but one of slavery, I blocked out the fear and stayed down.
    ‘You have brought this on yourself, little girl, let this one be a reminder.’ She called to the rest of the line up stood behind us too scared to move.
    Time slowed down, seconds became minutes, and minutes became hours I could not look as I saw the flash of the trigger being pulled, I knew I would soon be gone from this world to join my brother in whatever after life was to come, my only fear that I would be gone and no one would even know my name, no one would remember me or my brother.