I wrote some more surrounding the Anfield camp in Liverpool. This piece is an extension of my previous bit; it’s still very much flash fiction, but extends into The Letter and the larger project.

Again, this is all just exploratory writing: there’s nothing complete here, but I do want to make you feel sick.

Jonathan and the other people from the transport were hurried through the turnstile barrier, under the staring glare of masked guards with semiautomatic weapons constantly at the ready. Crowds from other coaches were merged together into one large mass of people, struggling to get through the bottleneck the barrier created.

An elderly couple, who must have been walking too slow for the guards’ satisfaction, were quickly shouted at.

‘Hurry the fuck up,’ roared the guard, directing them with a gun nozzle.

The old man replied in a language other than English, and Jonathan couldn’t understand what he said, but immediately his wife grabbed his arm and started to plead with him. Jonathan assumed she was begging him not to irritate the guards.

‘What did you say?’

No response.

The guard reached out and grabbed the man by the collar and pulled him to the ground. ‘You’re going to learn some fucking manners when you’re in this country you vermin!’

Out of nowhere, two more guards appeared and crowded around the old man on the ground. His wife wailed loudly and threw herself on top of him to shield her frail husband from the impending blows.

Jonathan looked away and closed his eyes. He tried to shut out the sounds of the man crying and the woman screaming, and the thud-thud-thud of boots smashing down on his body. He felt himself choke up, tears trying to force themselves from his eyes, but he knew if he would only attract attention to himself if he did so. He swallowed the sob and pushed on through the barrier, under the LED sign.

He had to find Erica.

***

Beyond the turnstile barrier there was a set of mesh-covered cages. More guards stood before them, and over their entrances were hand-painted signs saying MEN and WOMEN & CHILDREN. The guards directed people into each entrance of the cage – aggressively if necessary – and shouted at people to hurry up and move along. All around was the sound of crying and confusion, but Jonathan knew what this place was.

To people on the outside, Anfield was a prison. It was a place to put those who posed a threat to whatever was left of a crumbling British society, where they’d either stay or get sent on to another location by ferry either on the Isle of Man or in Wexford. In those places, people would say, the criminals would repay their debt to society.

Whether people actually believed that or not, Jonathan didn’t know: He was sure some people did, people who decided to insulate themselves from the grim real world. Other people, he thought, would have seen their neighbours and friends being dragged from their homes and sent off to the facility for “crimes against the State”. Their crimes? The colour of their skin. Falling in love with someone of the same gender. Their religion. Not bearing children.

Some people would wonder – in quiet whispers in old pubs – how so many people could fit inside the stadium. There weren’t enough people coming out, they would muse: surely the structure was about to burst at the seams! What was happening to them all.

Other rumours would quietly flit through the streets, passed from person to person as gossip, itself a tiny act of rebellion in a country where such sentiments were seen as treason. Rumours that the old changing rooms and shower rooms in the stadium were converted and used to kill people. Large diesel engines could often be heard running for about an hour at a time, a couple of times a day. Some said these were for electricity generators, others said their fumes were pumped into the shower rooms.