A Prison Without Walls
This is a story done from another writing prompt in my writers group.
Prompt: There is a prison with no locks, no bars, no outside walls, and no guards, but the prisoners are too scared to escape. Why?
Three years. That’s how long it’s been since Wendell died. He just wouldn’t believe us when we told him what happened to all the others who’d tried to leave. I’d like to be able to say he learned his lesson, but he’d have to be alive for that.
We’re all here for different reasons. Joe killed his wife when he caught her cheating on him. Billy…he robbed a liquor store. Not for the money, but because he was a raging alcoholic. Danny was a serial child molester, and Lou was a leg breaker for a loan shark. There’s a whole lot of other guys in here as well, but as for me, I was drivin’ around texting one day and ran over a little kid on his bike. Kid was only three years old, but he was out in the middle of the street. If his parents had only been watching him… Anyway, when I hit the kid, I got scared. I mean, really scared. I knew my life was over the second I heard that bike smack against the front of my car, so I ran. I drove off as fast as I could, but what I didn’t realize is that both the kid and his bike were caught up underneath my car. The cops didn’t have a hard time finding me. They just followed the trail of blood I left behind me for about a half a mile before I finally skidded off the road and hit a tree.
Thing is, we all belong here. The stuff we did…it was bad. I mean real bad. The one thing they told us when they stuck us in this prison was that even though there were no locks, no bars, and no guards…we could never leave this place. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I mean, who in their right mind wouldn’t just walk right the hell outta here? Every so often someone gets up the nerve to try, but it’s always the same. We find ‘em all torn apart on our doorstep the next morning. I don’t mean torn apart like someone beat ‘em up, or anything like that. I mean there’s somethin’ out there that’s literally ripping ‘em apart and dragging what’s left of their corpses back here, like it’s been trained to do it.
There were a few guys once who figured they’d have a better shot of gettin’ the hell outta here if they worked as a team and split up. I mean hell, it sounded like a good plan. They tried to get me in on it, but there’s no way in hell I’m goin’ out there, and it’s a good thing I didn’t. The next morning we found three bodies on the doorstep, and it looked like whoever or whatever killed ‘em actually rearranged some of the parts, like it was puttin’ together some sort of a gory jigsaw puzzle or somethin’.
I’m not really sure how they get in and outta here, but there’s a food delivery once a week. They also deliver stuff like toilet paper and other assorted toiletries, but for some reason they seem to be able to come and go as they please. That’s why every so often some of the guys start gettin’ brave and take a chance on getting’ outta here. Even had one guy try to kidnap the delivery guys so he could go with ‘em, but that didn’t work out so well…or maybe in its own way it sorta did. They shot him and sent him back in here with a bullet in his gut. He didn’t last long after that, but at least it was a better death than all the others ended up with. No one ever tried it again though after what happened to him.
You might be wondering what we do with the bodies. Most of ‘em got buried in the courtyard we have here in the middle of this place where we take our recreation periods, but the last couple of corpses we had got stripped down by a few of the guys who came up with some bright idea on how to get outta here. They’re gonna take the bones and make weapons out of ‘em. Ain’t gonna work, but who am I to rain on their parade? I’m just some schmuck who killed a kid with my car. I belong in here, so I ain’t gonna make no trouble. When my twenty years is up, I’m gonna walk outta this place all in one piece. Until then, I do gotta admit…seein’ these other guys tryin’ every trick in the book to get outta here is actually pretty entertaining. I mean, who knows? Maybe one of ‘em will actually make it someday.
The Stars Have Aligned
This is another story I did from a prompt in my writers group.
Prompt: The stars have aligned. Is it a sign of fortune, or a devilish curse? A stroke of luck, or terrible misfortune?
The stars have aligned. So what? Nothing happened. Everyone thought the world would be ripped apart when they all came together, but all we ended up with was a bunch of snooty little bearded fucks in longshoreman caps and crusty socks who refuse to use commas.* I guess that in and of itself is pretty disastrous, but if that’s the worst thing that happens, then I guess we’re doin’ ok.
Oh, there was one other thing that happened, though I wouldn’t really consider it all that bad to be perfectly honest. There was this cult down in Arizona that thought the stars aligning was going to bring about some sort of a spiritual enlightenment, or take us to the next evolution of man. Unfortunately for them, when the stars went out of alignment again, all that really happened was that they all stunk to high heaven. I don’t know what they expected really, but that’s what happens when you sit around in the desert for three days sweating your ass off while you wait for something that was never gonna happen in the first place.
Oh, and then there were the armchair ufologists who thought that some kind of a wormhole would open up, and that we’d finally get the alien contact they’ve been waiting for. Again…nothing. There were however a rash of suicides, a rather large number of murders, more than a few bank robberies, and a wide variety of other assorted crimes.
For me it was just another boring day in a lifetime full of boring days, and yet…there was something kind of special about it. Getting to see so many people so freaked out about a non-event and all the different ways they processed it was not only amusing, but it validated my extreme distaste for humanity as a whole. There’s no logic…no reason. It seems as though when people are faced with the unknown, they’d rather make up fantastical stories in their own minds about what it all means than to take it at face value.
When it was all over and I woke up the next morning, I went to work, just like I’ve done every other morning of the week for the past twelve years. I work in a coroner’s office, so as you can imagine our clients aren’t all that chatty, which suits me just fine. I came to realize though that corpses are the ultimate evolution of humanity. They don’t worry about things they can do nothing about. They don’t make up crazy stories in their heads that lead them to do stupid things, and they don’t exist in a permanent state of complete and utter illogic. They simply exist, and if there’s one thing we can all look forward to as human beings, it’s that we’ll all eventually reach that point in our evolution. Until then, some of us will continue to live in a stress filled world full of imagined problems, while I and the others like me will simply wait for the evolution that’s yet to come.
* Note: This comment was me goofing on Javier, the guy that runs the group. When he wrote the prompts on the white board, he left out all the commas. I got up and added them in, and then he got up and erased them again just to be a shit. So that’s what that part of the story is referring to. It was just a little inside joke that we all had a good laugh about.
By Duane • Short Stories By Duane L. Martin • 0