A short story by Bei Ling, translated by Scott Savitt
It’s afternoon. I’m being transported in a military jeep. On the road I ask the undercover officer: “Where am I being taken?”
“To a hotel,” the plainclothes officer scoffs.
The jeep is speeding down a newly paved freeway in Beijing’s faceless western outskirts.
The jeep slows down and enters a compound surrounded by a towering wall. An electric fence lines the top of the wall, and armed soldiers man the guard towers.
Next to the iron gate is a sign that says: Qinghe Prison.
I feel like an explosion has gone off in my head.
I am escorted into the detention center’s office. As soon as I get inside, a prison guard snatches my glasses.
Without my glasses I am half-blind. I start to protest, but the guard kicks me and shouts: “Squat down and get your hands behind your head!”
I dodge the brunt of his blow, and start to say: “Please don’t hit me….” when he kicks me again, this time much harder, sending me staggering into the corner of the room.
The plainclothesman that escorted me here says with a laugh: “Did you really think you were going to a hotel? You might be alive when you arrive here, but there is no guarantee that you won’t leave a corpse!”