I’m not going to drag this on with unnecessary details. I will say this: I haven’t been the best person. I was sentenced to prison for being involved in a bank robbery in New York City. During the heist, I reluctantly killed an innocent citizen. Simply put, the plan failed, and I was the only survivor of the event. The three other robbers I worked with died in a car crash.
I was sentenced to life in a federal prison, though I was rather confused by it. I’ve never heard of someone going to a federal prison for crimes such as mine, as federal always seemed to be a place for those such as terrorists and traitors. Though, I didn’t know much about prisons, so I never put my mind to it.
I stayed in the prison for about a month, though the days felt longer considering the nature of the building. I’ve never been to a prison in my life, but everything felt different than how I thought it should be. The halls of cells were quiet, and though there were others imprisoned, I always seemed to be in a state of solitude. Not solitary confinement, as there were neighboring cells in front and beside of mine, but loneliness seemed to abode constantly. Nobody ever spoke to each other.
Just as the days began to feel repetitive, a rather official looking man approached my cell. He introduced himself by the name of “Representative Kingsley”. He has state that he had an opportunity for me, one that could lead to my release. My common sense was overshadowed by my thirst for freedom, as I don’t know how much longer I could last in there.
Kingsley lead me to an interrogation room in the prison, as it was a place to speak in private.
When him and I were the only two left in the room, he told me more about himself. He said he was a government official, sent to provide me with a special task.
“Do you know why you’re here?” he said. I was confused. If he was an official, shouldn’t he know?
“Bank robbery, and murder?” I replied.
“And do you know how you’re going to get out of here?” he said back. I didn’t know what he was trying to ask. I haven’t made any plans of escaping, as I’m willing to pay for my crimes. I explained this to him, and then he went on a small rant: “Look, I know you don’t like it here. You can’t stand it. Nobody can, which is why everyone else is so dead and quiet. The waiting, the silence, the solitude, it’s all driving you mad. You’ve already thought of trying to end your life, haven’t you? I know this, so I’m here to offer you a way out, without leaving the world. So, are you interested?”
As he spoke those words, I wanted to end the conversation. The more I thought about the subject, however, the more he began to seem right. It’s only been what it seems to be a month (there are no clocks or calendars here) and I’m already growing stressed of the place. The feeling of being alone and unwatched is becoming haunting. With little hesitation, I agreed and again listened to his speech.
“Good," he said. "Then I offer you your task. I want you to kill another prisoner.”
“Why the hell would I do that?” I immediately replied.
“What’s the harm in it? You’re in here for life, and so is everyone else. You don’t have any connection to anyone here, even the prisoners across from your own cell. There’s nothing to lose.” He began to stand up and leave the room.
Right before he left through the door, I asked, “What if they execute me for the act? What can I do then?”
Without even looking back, he calmly said, "What more pain would that bring?"
I spent the next few days in my cell in a daze. The insanity began to grow at a rapid rate. I hadn’t slept at all, just lied awake shaking. The dim light outside my small cell window never seemed to change. I never even knew when the day was over, or when the next began. Something had to be done. I can’t last in here, nobody can. I’ll just end up like every other lifeless prisoner here. The words of Kingsley had almost completely left me, until I gazed at the prisoner opposite of my cell.
As usual, he stood sitting on his bed, essentially lifeless. He didn’t make a move and never looked in my direction, only to the wall in front of him. Practically, he was already a dead man, so the idea of him dying didn’t seem too awful to me. The temptations to kill began to fade as I observed my lack of opportunity. I had nothing I could use to commit the act, and there was no way to get outside my own cell, let alone get inside his.
When I had almost regained my fortitude, my eyes looked to the ground. Lying on the floor, as if it were offered as a gift from God, was a small knife. Rather than be confused by how it even got there, I carefully moved to hold it.
A feeling of relief went through my body as I picked up the knife without issue. It shined as if it were new, never touched by hands other than my own. Then, as if holding the knife triggered a switch, the door to my cell began to slide open. Nobody was around to make it happen, and it was completely secured beforehand (I had checked it before). I became locked into a state that almost seemed like... hypnosis. Every obstacle looked as if it had vanished, and nothing was there to stop me from killing the man in the opposite cell.
I snapped out of it. I wasn’t just going to sacrifice my own will to please some damned government official. For all I knew, he could've just be lying to me. I could've killed this man, and then only continue in the cell for god knows how long.
I looked away from the prisoner, dropped the knife, and went towards the cell door to shut it. I didn’t want to look as if I’ve made an attempt to escape. Though, no guards had walked down the cellblock for hours. Nobody had even made a sound or call. I fell to my curiosity once again and looked at the prisoner nearby. He looked the same way he did when I first came here. He just continued to sit on his bed, staring at the wall. What was wrong with him? Depression? Loneliness? Insanity? Why did he do nothing? I tried to speak to him, and he didn’t even acknowledge me, let alone speak. I progressively raised my voice. Nothing came of it.
I began to scream at him. He never flinched, jumped, did anything. He just sat there, either completely oblivious or ignoring me. I continued to scream, no longer just at him, but everywhere. I called to others. I swore. I kicked at the walls and bars, anything to get a fucking response. Before I had almost completely exhausted myself, I immediately went back to grip the knife. I clenched it in my hand just as I had before, and threw open the door to my cell. Through all the rage, no guard even slipped into the area. The door to the prisoner's cell slid open as I looked at it, and I pointed the knife straight at him.
He still never made a single move.
I screamed again as I grabbed him and watched my hand thrusted the knife into his chest. There was no struggle as I stabbed him twice more out of frustration. The moment I felt his body go lifeless, the anger in me began to rapidly fade, and I immediately felt regret. I dropped the man’s body, disgusted by my act. I was panting, drained of my energy and also worried of what may happen next.
Before I went back to my cell, a thought dawned on me: I had never seen this man’s face. I didn’t want to leave his body without at least knowing who I’ve destroyed.
I shouldn’t have looked. I turned the man's body over, and with a single glance, I jumped back from shock. There, lying dead on the cell floor, was one of the robbers I had worked with.
I stared at his face for a few seconds, trying to figure out why he was here. I could have sworn I saw him die, with the others as well. Was I mistaken? I had to be. I needed to be. I began to step back into my cell, still not taking my eyes of the man. I was hoping for the moment where I may snap out of a daze and realize it wasn’t actually him, but it never came. I shut the door to my cell and then fainted on my bed from exhaustion and shock.
When I awoke, I immediately looked towards the victim’s cell and saw that he was missing. The cell was completely organized, as if nobody was there beforehand. I looked towards the floor, and the knife I once held didn’t even seem to exist. I knocked my head a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I heard a door slam at the end of the hall, and a man came to take me once again to the interrogation room. I complied, appearing to be obedient.
Kingsley was already there, and I immediately felt an anger go over me. Had I still been in possession of the knife, I would have easily gone after him. I was forced into a chair, then Kingsley began to speak.
“Thank you for assistance. You’ve saved me a lot of trouble. He wasn’t in the right place.”
I spoke back. I demanded answers. I asked where the prisoner had come from, how he was there in the first place, and why he needed to be dead.
“He was a good man, better than the others you worked with. That’s why I needed it done. I couldn’t let him have his freedom. He was going to... other places.”
I asked about my freedom.
“Of course," he said happily. "You helped me, so I’ll help you. You don’t need to wait here any longer. All I need you to do is sign your release form.”
Kingsley placed a small, printed paper onto the table. It read "CONTRACT OF RELEASE", written in formal letters at the top, with much smaller writing in the body of the sheet. I never read one word of it. I wasn’t waiting here any longer. I signed my name quickly and poorly with a pen provided, and I threw the sheet back at Kingsley. I asked what happened next.
“You’re free," he spoke. "You may leave as you please. But remember: Good things only come to those who wait.”
I didn’t say another word to him. I ran out the door behind me. As I ran past the cells, there were no inhabitants. There were no guards in sight. It didn’t faze me. I was here for what felt like years, and time was going slower and slower. I was thinking about making my first step out of this hell, so I didn’t pay attention to any differences that may have come over this time.
The hallway seemed longer than I remembered, as if it were actually a path to a different entrance than where I came through. After a few minutes of sprinting through the deserted block of the prison, the door lied within my reach. I pushed it open, and I was momentarily blinded by a great light, the first I’ve seen in months.
When the blare cleared, I was struck unease. The skies were dark, almost with a light tint of red. The distant plains were nothing but a wasteland, with no life in sight. I looked closely down at the ground below me, and noticed that my shoes were slowly melting from the heat of the surface. When I looked back up, I noticed Kingsley standing in front of me, though I couldn’t make out his now unfamiliar face. Out of confusion, I demanded to know where I was.
“You’re where you should be. Good places only come to those who wait their time, and you skipped yours,” he said, with his voice now sounding inhuman. Now free of the prison, my thoughts began to collect and then themselves clear, and I began to shake with terror from the realization.
“You didn’t just leave hell, my friend. You’ve only just arrived.”
Written by Emeryy