It's just as I remember.
The forest so vibrant and lush with lumbering trees and their vast amount of leaves; a sky of green dotted with the sunny stars. The river that divides the tree line is so clear and full of life that I almost hate to disturb it to fish for our evening meal. The smile that etches itself along the curve of my lips is truly genuine as I watch my beloved wait and observe the fish as they swim past; spear in hand, brow knit together in concentration, and eyes darting back and forth waiting for the perfect strike.
So strong. So willful. So beautiful.
A flurry of movement and my attention is taken back out of my thoughts and to the effervescent grin of my partner proudly holding up a large fish that is almost half their body in length. The smile is infectious and I laugh as the fish tries one last effort to escape back to its liquid home, but only succeeding in toppling the both of them over into the muddy bank. My laughter grows as I watch my lover wrestle the fish in the mud, the beast's muscular form flailing as skillful arms and a quick body trap it against the riverbank.
My laughter gains me an indignant glare, and I try to hush myself with a hand against my mouth but it doesn't work and a few more giggles escape me. I feel the hit of cold, thick mud splattering across my chest and up my neck and cheek and soon we are laughing together trading blows of the mud-covered ground.
I move towards my beloved and reach out to touch the soft skin of an unmarked cheek, but my fingertips fail to feel the warmth; nothing is there.
The image fades; there is no forest, no river, and no fish, nor mud. My love is gone. There is only the darkness of my current reality.
It's just a mirage like all of the others that my mind plays in order to keep some semblance of sanity. I know it's not real. I do, but oh how I wish it was.
As my eyes readjust to the darkness and I find that I am still exactly where I was left. The stone walls still slightly cracked, the humming of a power generator still a drone in the silence, and the painful chafing of the shackles around my wrists and ankles still hasn't numbed yet.
It will though, the pain, it always does a while after they put me back in here. It should be that time soon, but I'm not sure. Time has become such an obscure thing. I have no idea how long I've been here; days, weeks, months, who is to say. The only illusions of time they give me is the occasional cold meal, which I've grown to find less disgusting, and when they come to retrieve me for my 'sessions' as they call them.
I lay flat on my back and close my eyes, begging my mind to return me to that mirage of memories I hope to never forget. The solid stone against my naked body is so cold and slightly damp, but my muscles and skin grow use to it and relax against something that I know, for now, is real.
I'm losing my sanity. Between my mind's tricks, the sessions, and my naked existence in this dark cell sometimes I can't remember who I am, who I was, only who they want me to be and I don't know how much longer I can fight them.
I try. I try so hard to be defiant, to be strong against them, but I'm losing hope. I could end this, I know I could, I could take the chains that hold me, wrap them around my throat and tighten them until my breath escapes me but I don't, it's not the way of my people.
I scoff at my own priorities, but it only sends me into a painful fit of coughs. My throat is so dry that the copper taste of blood on my tongue from the heaving is welcomed and savored as I try to lubricate my aching throat. I lie back again and let my mind take me somewhere, anywhere, but as I do I hear the dreadful sound of footsteps outside of my cell.
The steel door opens and I am forced to squint my eyes as the bright light encapsulates the room. I look over and see only the silhouettes of two men. I don't fight them purely because I don't have the energy too, I know what's coming it's become so much of a routine that the pain of the needle entering my neck doesn't feel like more than simple touch. I lie still as the rush of liquid flows through my body until my head feels both heavy and light and the shadowed brightness around me becomes darker and darker until it's simply nothing.
When I awaken the first thing I notice is the strain in my shoulders and the new metal cuffs that trap my wrists above my head. My toes float above the ground and I lift my head in my groggy haze to adjust the light of the room. The door opens and I try to push the memories I hold dear to the far back of my mind in an attempt to protect them.
I take as deep of a breath as my malnourished lungs can handle and grit my teeth. This is not my first session, but it might be my last.
"Shall we begin?"