Just Another Number was my second bestseller, achieving the title in the Dystopian/Horror Amazon categories back in 2017. On January 2nd, 2023, the book was rereleased with extra content. And, as I’m a confident believer in Try-Before-You-Buy: here’s the first chapter for you to sample.
They were told it wouldn’t happen again, that it was a crime against humanity and that no human would be allowed to put others through that amount of torture, torment, and pain.
But it did happen; almost in exactly the same way, just more secretively this time.
When they came for Agatha, she was in bed next to her girlfriend, Rosie. They were yanked out by their hair, out of their home, and into the street – they bound their hands and feet. Their neighbours stood in awe, terrified as the soldiers pulled Agatha into the middle of the road, but not all of them; one neighbour, two houses down, stared at them with a smug look on his pathetic face. He’d reported them – there had been signs and advertisements telling people to report any Queers causing disruption to the Christian population – the adverts didn’t tell anyone what would happen to the reported. But it became very apparent, very quickly.
Agatha and Rosie continued to struggle as they were pulled into the middle of the street. A man with a heated branding iron pressed it against Agatha’s arm, she screamed so loud that more people came rushing out of their homes. A few of them tried to get past the soldiers and stop what was happening.
The branding iron was passed to the soldier who had hold of Rosie. As it was lowered toward her skin, she threw her head back, into the crotch of the soldier. “Rosie, no!” Agatha begged.
Rosie got up and ran, the soldiers took aim. They counted down from three, and they shot. Seven bullets to her back; she didn’t die instantly – that would have been too kind. She died as they dragged her back, bleeding out onto the cold tarmac. Agatha looked around the street; her neighbours looked on, horrified. Even the smug bastard that had reported them had his hand over his mouth.
Rosie’s body was dragged in front of Agatha, they forced her head down to look at her. “This is you if you do anything stupid,” said the soldier who’d branded her. “Get it in the truck, I want to get to bed at some point tonight,” he snarled.
The man, who’d been holding Agatha, picked her up and tossed her into the back of the dark van, all light vanished as the doors were closed.
That’s how Agatha ended up in the Seabrook Institute.
She’s been here three years now. Between losing half of her body weight, being sexually abused, tortured and mentally scarred for the rest of her life, she continues to hold the sentiment of I suppose it could be worse. I could be on the outside thinking that my life, and the world around me, is perfectly fine. That there’s nothing wrong in the world, only for it to come crashing down at any point. Her sarcasm keeps her sane. Of course, she’d rather be outside of the prison, with Rosie. But instead, she’s number two six five eight four seven; she’s stuck in here, and she doesn’t even know where Rosie’s buried.
“Two six five eight four seven, you’re up for inspection. Please go to block nine for examination,” the intercom operator announces. She stands up in her solitary confinement cell, knocking on the door.
Seconds pass as she waits before the door opens. The guard stands to the side so she can exit. “Go to the examination room – if you do not attend, we will find you, Aggie.” He grins.
She groans, shaking her head as she exits and walks away from him. “Only my friends call me Aggie, and you’re certainly not my friend.”
“Agatha Gomez, please remove all clothing and acquire a gown from the pile, then get on the examination bed,” Doctor Holloway commands, gesturing toward the testing bed as he continues scribbling down notes on a piece of paper. Matron nudges Agatha into the room and closes the door behind her. The smell of medical items causes a sickness to grow in Agatha’s stomach.
The doctor looks up at her, his eyes are soft and kind. Before she has a chance to hope, his hands slam down against the table and he’s transformed into an angry ape. “Didn’t I tell you to get changed?” He’s putting on a show for the Matron, who listens from outside the door before leaving. Agatha takes a deep breath and hurries over to the examination bed. She undoes the buttons on her jumpsuit, letting it fall to the ground around her, stepping out of it and putting a gown on. “Get on the bed,” he says, sounding impatient.
She climbs onto the bed, laying back. As Holloway’s cold hands make their way up her legs, checking her bones for breaks – Agatha clenches her jaw, knowing the pain that will ensue. He lets go of the gown and moves up the side of the bed. He places his hands on her stomach, pressing down. “Your stomach is abnormally hard, have you been in any discomfort, at all? Sickness, stomach cramps?”
“Slight nausea, stomach cramps.” She pauses, tears welling up in her eyes, she knew what was wrong with her already. “And bleeding.”
He steps back from the bed to get the ultrasound machine from the other side of the room, setting it up next to the bed. He turns to Agatha, placing a blanket over her legs and hips before pulling the gown up to her breasts. “This is going to be cold,” he mumbles, squeezing some gel out of the tube and onto her stomach. The sudden temperature change caused her stomach to tense and made her squirm. He presses the ultrasound probe against her skin, moving it around as he continues to stare at the screen. “When did the bleeding begin?”
“My first day in solitary confinement this time around.”
He clenches his jaw. “Did you tell the guards?”
She lets out a chuckle of annoyance. “Like they care. Yes, I informed them. They didn’t do anything.”
“Clearly… I know we’re a modern-day concentration camp, but we still need to take care of you.”
She stares up at the ceiling, tears running down her face. The reason Auldives Seabrook is called an Institute and not a concentration camp is because everyone on the inside is either criminally insane or falsely accused as such – that’s the cover-up by the Saintre government. They’re planning to purge the entire population of Saintre, but right now, it’s Auldives that they’re focused on. They get locked away as loonies with murderers, and the Human Rights organisations of the world know nothing about it. It’s all a big conspiracy. The only good thing about Seabrook is that when they try to kill you, they’ll bring you back from the brink. However, most see that as torture. Agatha would, too, if it wasn’t for her will to survive.
“They’ve been abusing you again,” he comments, a harsh tone in his voice.
Holloway inhales deeply as he takes the probe off of her stomach. She turns to look at him, finding him angrily wiping the probe clean then putting it back on its stand. “Who? Inmates or guards?” He looks at her, his eyes full of rage and feeling as cold as ice.
She presses her lips together as she tries to stop them from trembling, recalling the many memories. “Take your pick.”
As Agatha cleans the remaining residue off her stomach, Holloway allows her time to get redressed. He sits down at his desk, a look of disgust on his face. Although Holloway terrifies most inmates, Agatha knows he’s a good man. He doesn’t support the institutes, but he volunteered to work in Seabrook to help the victims as much as he can.
“What would you like me to do?” He probes, making notes, his hand shaking as he scribbles.
She fastens the top of her jumpsuit as she approaches the desk. “I don’t know. What do you suggest?”
He inhales deeply, placing his pen down, his hands still visibly shaking. “I can suggest many things, but not all of them are within my power. If I had it my way, this place wouldn’t even exist,” he whispers, keeping his voice level to make sure Matron doesn’t hear him. “What I can do is keep you in the infirmary for a week, and give you a contraceptive injection to prevent pregnancy, as well as menstruation. Other than that, I can’t do much else.”
She sits down in the chair opposite him, looking into his eyes. His brows narrow, causing his skin to crease; his eyes expressing sorrow and remorse. “Better than what the rest of these arseholes have done for me.” She grins slightly, making light of the situation. None of this was his fault. He didn’t report me for being against Christian values; he didn’t rape me, or beat me; he isn’t the one refusing me food.
He shakes his head, smiling slightly. “Oh, Miss. Gomez, you make me laugh,” he chuckles. He picks up his pen, beaming down at his paper as he begins scribbling again. “I’m going to bring you in for a week, you’re going to have food – because it’s pretty clear you’re not eating enough. And you’ll have your injection for contraception in a couple of days, hopefully, then you’ll get your strength back and be able to start fighting off some of your abusers.”
He looks up from his paper, a sombre expression on his pale, stone-like face. “It’s the least I can do. I just wished I could get you out of here. One day, when all this is over, I’ll take you for a beer.” He beams, his smile causing dimples to show. His eyes are still full of sadness.
“One day, I’ll take you up on that offer.”
Just Another Number
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