It was winter, 2007 when I was extradited from France to Spain. After first being incarcerated in the Douai dungeon, I was transferred to Fresnes prison near Paris. Fresnes is notorious for being the harshest prison in France but I was soon to find myself in a much darker place.
I stood on tiptoe to see through my cell window, the falling snow, wispily settling on the coils of razor wire mounted around the high walls of Daroca prison. The night was coming in fast so it was disheartening to see the shadows across the bleak countryside through the coils of wire as my spirits fell to a new low.
Even the name of the place sounds ominous; Daroca, say it to yourself, it is not a nice word is it? It goes well with the bleak landscape and approaching storm.
I climbed into my bed as the night enveloped the prison and the volume of the rumbling thunder increased. Pulling my blanket around me I listened to the sounds of the night in this evil place and thought about my day and the people I share my space with in this dark corner of the world.
A face looms into my thoughts, a calm face with bushy eyebrows over ice-blue eyes. He looks at me across the dining table in the comedor (canteen), his eyes look right through me as though he is elsewhere. I am sharing my space and the air I breathe with a man who has eaten his wife – a cannibal, and here he is within touching distance chewing on a piece of meat and looking at me!
To my right is a young man who chopped off his uncle’s head with a Samurai sword. He chats amiably to the man next to him who raped and mutilated his thirteen year old niece, thirteen was unlucky for her, and especially considering the length of time it took for her to die. I could go on describing the creatures around me but it would become unbelievable for you and you will doubt my word.
The storm is now a tempest and the thunder is reminiscent of ice cracking across a pond, but a million times louder. The lightning is alarming and illuminates my dank cell like a disco strobe light giving me the awful feeling that it is heralding the arrival of something evil and malevolent.
I can hear the cockroaches scratching the floor under my bed as they search for food and beneath that I hear the susurrations of the sleet and rain as it runs in rivulets down my cell window. The muffled sounds of the screams of madmen are barely audible through the thick walls, but they are there; the storm taking its toll on the warped minds of my fellow prisoners.
I feel sleep is near so I curl into my foetal position before taking a last look at the window and falling into sleep.
I could see condensation on the glass, fogging my view of the night sky through the bars of the cell window. The pale glow of the sodium security lights shone through the rivulets of rain on the cracked glass creating a ghostly shimmer.
My heightened sense of imagination played havoc with my mind’s eye as I peered through the sparkling glass to see two shimmering points of light which slowly changed colour to that of red glowing coals. Pinpointed in the centre of each red glow is a glittering diamond which formed the eyes of Satan. He is here, hovering over Daroca prison, sinister and threatening.
His murky features taking shape and form with the movement of cloud and the upward glow of prison lights, El Diablo is here, spreading his evil shadow over the netherworld of Daroca.
A numbing sensation sweeps over me, paralysing me with a feeling of total helplessness as the fetid face looms near.
His fangs move as though gnashing his teeth and every sinew of his monstrous form drips with evil as I realise he has come for me. In the silence of the moment I freaked out internally and choked on the scream that didn’t come out.
It was as though I was lying face down on a water bed and it was suddenly flipped over so the water bed was suffocating me with its weight. The terrifying emotion of stress and panic created feelings of intense heat across my back followed by ice under the hot skin. My arms and legs felt like they were covered with raspberries because of the size of the goose bumps.
I was frozen with fear as I felt his force searching my soul. ‘My God and His son Jesus Christ are in there; so get ye behind me Satan.’ The prayers spilled out of me as the fear intensified and the terror gnawed into my heart as the evil loomed over me, trying to consume me.
My heart was racing as the monster’s face descended towards me. My chest felt crushed and my stomach started to liquefy as the brilliant white light hit my face.
‘Recuento, recuento!’ Shouted the duty prison officer, as he performed the final head count of the day, his voice and bright light dissipating the evil red eyes of Satan.
In his accented English, Don Gabriel, the duty screw said, ‘Good night, Christopher, the storm has gone. Sleep well, Englishman.’
He slammed the big steel door and noisily crashed the massive bolt home and was gone to chase the demons from the minds of his charges.
I got out of bed and knelt in seizan, the martial arts meditating posture and meditated on my mind cleansing waterfall method of dissipating stress. I then said The Lord’s prayer and jumped into bed, never again to be disturbed by Satan, thanks to Gabriel, the angel in prison officers’ uniform.
I have now written a very short (2 pages) screenplay of this story.