A workhouse nightmare

Judge’s Comments – Runner-up

There were some great historical details in this that felt as if they had been lifted straight out of the archives. I particularly liked the mention of the dogs refusing to eat the food that the narrator, Nick, was expected to eat because it was so bad. The detail of people sewing through their fingers as they worked really made me wince – that was very visceral and beautifully written!

A Workhouse Nightmare

by Ramzi

I have been locked up for countless days. I do not know what to do or where I am. Sometimes, when everything is silent, I hear master brutally whipping misbehaving workers. It makes me even more ill than I already am, knowing that these people do not care about anyone’s health physically or mentally. All of my meals are soaked in water but that doesn’t make the hard, mouldy bread any softer. However I still eat it because that’s all I have along with a fake block of cheese. I’ve heard they use soap to reduce the cost of production. Maybe that will explain why the dogs refuse to eat it, or why everyone is falling ill, including me.

Being locked up doesn’t help. I miss my family. They are the reason why I am here. All because I told them I miss them and love them when I was leaving my room to do a job. One little mistake led me up to be locked in a rickety, old room. I mostly miss my dad, James Astley. I never forgot him saying things like, “Mornin’ Rick. Slept well?”, ”Goodnight Rick. Sleep well”, or most importantly, “I love you”.

But master is a cruel, heartless monster and he will not let that happen. I miss him. I miss my family. I miss everyone. I’m trying my best to keep my mental state stable. However, it’s nearly impossible. I’m going to go insane. I’ve witnessed too many things I shouldn’t have. I’ve seen people suddenly collapse. I’ve seen people cut off their fingers while sewing. I’ve seen people crush their hands while trying to transport heavy rocks around.

I can’t take this anymore. I want to go home. I want to be happy. I want to be… free. I was told I will have to do heavy work once I am released. I am not looking forward to it. Master is treating us as if we are worthless slaves. I want to stop him, however I have no power in his eyes. I’m just a useless worker who is forced to do people’s dirty work. My life is shattering in front of my eves, and I cannot do anything about it. I’m helpless. I just have to sit back and watch it. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to wake up every day hoping that today will be a better day. I don’t want to watch myself go through the worst mental pain imaginable while begging for mercy.

I don’t want to… live anymore.

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