So a little piece here for anyone that wants a quick read. I liked the idea of a prison where the inmates don't leave but there are no guards or locked doors. So I wrote a little story. Now the humble brag: I submitted this to a writing website. I thought sure, why not. The next day it ends up on their internal newsletter as a "noticing newbies." I know it's a small thing but the little bit of recognition makes me think that maybe I'm not so terrible. Maybe I can tell a story. Or maybe I can't. But I have created a human life, 3 times mind you, and that's something. Enjoy the story and thanks for the little bragging I get to do on myself.
(See Hossmom, I am self-promoting. As much as I hate it, I'm self-promoting!)
A Prison With No Guards
Vince runs while being chased by his shadow. The sun is blaring, bright, and illuminating everything. His heart is hot and hammering. The tingling in his fingers bothers him, but only enough to help him ignore the weakness in his legs and his tunneling vision. He’s only 20 feet away from the entrance. Maxwell High-Security lettering is stenciled just above the doorway. The building is modest, brown and non-descriptive. It is an ordinary building but to Vince, the building is his sanctuary. The twelve floors offer him hope, the only hope he has anymore.
His arms ache from carrying the large parcel. The boxy newspapered package contains ready to eat meals and dried food. The kind of food that he once believed astronauts ate. The thought of space elevates his panic attack and he tries to run faster to the door. He is so close but the panic attack doesn’t know that, the panic attack doesn’t lessen. He is beginning to feel that he will not be able to control it anymore. 10 feet away. The door is only 10 feet away.
He refused to go out and get the supplies. Vince didn’t care if it was his turn. He told the others that he refused. They gathered around him and forced him from his cell. They carried him to the unlocked front door. The inmates pitched Vince out the front door where he tumbled end over end like a poorly thrown horseshoe looking for a stake. Vince knew he couldn’t enter again unless he had the supplies. He closed his eyes and ran, grabbed the package, and is now running back.
Vince looks up at the windows to see if anyone is watching, any friendly faces that could at least offer him support. In his panic, he forgot that they had blacked out all the windows years ago. Vince begins to cry as he gets closer to the door, unable to control the panic anymore. He doesn’t look behind him, he can’t look behind him. His rational mind will tell him that there is nothing but open pasture and green meadows behind him. His rational mind will also tell him that those pastures and meadows are endless miles. He doesn’t know which part of himself to believe so he stops thinking about it and just runs.
There are no guards inside the prison, there is no need for them. The caretakers do come once in a while but have no contact with the inmates. This is the inmate's decision. The caretakers bring them food and supplies but never leave it by the door. That would an act of kindness and there is a part of Vince that knows they deserve no kindness. So they put the supplies 100 yards beyond the door in the ceaseless beautiful space. Vince knows that they watch as one of the inmates eventually runs out to retrieve them. Vince knows that they will laugh. Vince knows that even if it’s not him out here in the fields, he will have a panic attack just knowing that someone is.
5 feet from the door and Vince’s breathing is ragged. It burns his throat which is parched and feels like a dry lava tube. Vince dives, throwing the rations through the doorway. He slides on his chest, feeling a scrap of the concrete on his chest. His head slams into a wall of legs that gathered quickly to grab the food. Vince tries to stand but is pushed down again in the riot. He is stepped on, crushed. His fingers claw not for the food but from some purchase to pull himself into the doorway, into the darkness.
These inmates are unique. Vince knows this and he knows how this came to be. Vince knows that after his conviction he was taken to The Institute for The Acquirement of Mental Disorders. He remembers the endless barrage of experiments, the time spent in open spaces and the danger that was found there. Many never made it out of those wide open death traps. The ones that did came to Maxwell. No guards, no bars on windows, and the cells were open rooms.
Vince again tries to stand and finally is able to gain ground. But the throng pushes back, pushes back hard, and Vince is once again catapulted outside the door. 10 hands reach out, but not for Vince. They reach for the door. The hands, long nailed and dirty, find the doorknob and pull. Vince screams, Vince screams, Vince screams. The door slams shut with Vince on the wrong side of it. He pounds his hands on the door, he pounds and hears his fingers break. The panic consumes him.
Vince crumbles in front of the door. He has gone inside himself. He forces himself into the darkest, smallest corner that he can find. The inmates on the inside either don’t hear his soft whimpering or don’t care. They are all like Vince and no one will open the door.