Scared Straight part 3

Timmy rubbed his sore shoulder as he sat in a chair across a small table from a man the size of a small battleship.  The man had no hair that Jimmy could see and somehow it made the man look even bigger.  Jimmy tried his staring into the eyes trick, but the man wouldn’t look straight at him.  After what seemed like five minutes of silence, Timmy decided to break the ice.  “So how often do you…”

“Shush,” said the man in a shouted whisper.  The man put a finger less than an inch away from Timmy’s nose and he wagged it back and forth.  “Fresh meat isn’t allowed to talk.”

Timmy sat back to put more room between him and the finger.  “You’ve got to be joking me,” Timmy said.

The man slammed his hand down onto the table, the sound reminding Timmy of a handgun he had once shot.  “I said shush,” the man said in a bit more full voice but still not much above a whisper.  “You need to know your place when you’re inside.”

Timmy was amazed the table hadn’t broken in two.  He smiled at the man and slammed his hand into the table as well.  The sound wasn’t as impressive, but Timmy was impressed nevertheless.

The man balled his huge hands into fists.  “What the hell was that about?” he shouted.

Timmy smiled.  “Why should I let you have all the fun?” Timmy asked.  Timmy stood up and began to walk away.

“Sit down you piece of shit!” yelled the man   “I’m not done with you yet.”

Timmy whipped around, and his voice became a forceful whisper.  “Shush,”

The man stood quickly, way too quickly for a man of that size.  The table went flying to the right and crashed into the wall.  “You.  Do.  Not.  Shush.  Me,” the man said.

“What are you going to do to me?” Timmy asked.  He tried to puff out his chest, making him look as big as he could.

The man marched right up to Timmy, forcing Timmy to bend back to look the man in the face.  Still the man would not meet Jimmy’s eyes. “You don’t want me to start,” the man said.

“You can’t do jack.  If you even touch me they’ll slap you so hard your grandkids will feel it,” Timmy said.

The man chuckled.  “I’m a lifer you little piece of shit,” the man said.  “They can’t slap me anymore.  All I can do is feel some pain.  Sort of like this.”  The man grabbed Timmy’s sore shoulder and squeezed.  The pain almost made Timmy pass out, but he rode the pain and channeled it into laughter.  The laughter earned him more pain, but that just created more laughter.

The man released his grip and Timmy dropped to his knees, the laughter subsiding as the sharp pain receded to a dull throbbing.   “What the hell,” said the man.  He reached down and picked Timmy up off the floor and then kept lifting till Timmy was at almost at eye level. “What is wrong with you kid?”

Timmy finally locked eyes with the guy.  The guy almost recoiled as if he had been head butted.  He dropped Timmy like he was poisonous.  Timmy pointed at the discarded table.  “Pick it up,” Timmy said.

The man squeezed his hands into fists three times while making sure to look anywhere but at Timmy’s eyes.  Finally he moved over to the battered table and picked it up.  He placed it back where it had been and sat back down.  He silently gestured to Timmy’s chair.

Timmy purposely kept his smile repressed as he moved back to his seat.  He quietly gestured for the man to talk.  The man looked at his huge hands, but finally began to speak.  “You really shouldn’t have come here,” the man said.

Timmy rubbed his sore shoulder.  “Tell me about it,” Timmy said.  “That prick Hobbs tried to break my arm.”

The man eagerly looked at Timmy.  “Want me to make sure he regrets it?” the man asked.  “I’ll do it.  He’s on my shit list already.  He was screwing around with someone on my crew.  Not someone who is important so I didn’t do anything, but messing with you…”

Timmy shook his head.  “Not yet Simon,” he said.  Simon looked disappointed.  All the rage seemed to be exhaled in one long sigh.  Timmy looked at Simon with predatory eyes.  “But I am glad they decided to have you be the one to scare me.  You were pretty convincing.“

Simon perked up.  “Thanks.  I try to be.  It keeps most of the other idiots at arm’s length.  The rest of them have some kind of mental problem.  Once I know that they have a bleeding problem.  After that I don’t have any more problems.”

“So what do we do next?” asked Timmy.

“They’re supposed to come get us in a bit, and you’re supposed to be all ready to piss yourself.  After that they will cut you lose with a promise that this is your future if you don’t do something about it,” Simon said.

Timmy noticed as Simon kept talking that he seemed to deflate.  Simon was still a big man, but that emotional rage somehow made Simon appear bigger.  That was something Timmy would need to remember.  It was a cool trick.  “So what do you think I should do?” asked Timmy.

Simon smiled a very chilling smile.  “That’s up to you, boss.  What are you going to do?” he asked.

Timmy liked the way Simon was smiling.  He joined him in that cold grin.  “I think I’m going to do something different alright.”

Simon’s grin faltered for just a moment before being pasted back on, and Timmy didn’t blame Simon one bit.

Scared Straight part 1

Timmy kept playing his parent’s conversation over and over in his head as the heavy door rolled to a close and the lock hammered home.

“We are doing this for your own good,” his dad said.

“It will help you understand,” his mom said.

Timmy agreed with his parents.  This was probably for the best.  He was surprised that they had figured it out though.  They did seem kind of oblivious about this whole parenting thing.  Still, at least he was here now.

The guard frisked the kid in front of him, and then waved Timmy forward.  He held his hands up and was scanned and then frisked quickly and professionally.  “Move along,” the guard said.  Timmy nodded his head, a smile blooming on his face.  The Guard noticed.  “Wipe that smile off your face or else the prisoners will do it for you.”

Timmy nodded his head in acknowledgment.  “That might be your fear, but don’t worry about me,” Timmy said as he moved past the guard, leaving the guard dumbfounded.

Timmy looked around himself, thinking about the amount of concrete and iron that separated him from the air outside.  He relaxed a bit more and felt the tension leaving his back.  He almost ran into the kid in front of him because the kid had stopped.

“This program is to allow you to see your future, if you continue down the path you are currently on,” said a balding white guy who had at least three doughnuts too many every day for the past ten years.  His suit had seen better days, but it looked like it had been locked up here for committing fashion murder and was doing twenty five to life.  That made Timmy giggle.

The man noticed Jimmy’s giggle and walked right up to him, invading Jimmy’s personal space.  “Is something here funny, son?  I don’t recall making a joke,” the man said.  His breath was a mixture of stale Egg McMuffin and Jack Daniels, the breakfast of champions.

“Drinking before eight in the morning Charles?  Do you figure it’s a good substitute for corn flakes?” asked Timmy.

“Ah, you must be Mister Livingston.  I was warned about you,” said the man.  “You will refer to me as Warden Holston or else you will have the hole be the first place you visit.”

Timmy looked Warden Holston in the eyes.  “Well that’s the only hole you get to visit lately, isn’t it Charley?” Timmy said.

Warden Holston looked like he was about to hit Timmy, but then thought better of it.  “Dean,” he said, “show this young man the hole.  We will see how he likes our time out.”

Timmy laughed and began to walk out of the office before Dean could even move.  “See you in a couple of hours Chuckles.  I’ve got a lot more for you,” Timmy said.

Dean caught up to Timmy in the hallway and tried to grab Timmy’s arm, but Timmy pulled it away.  “Hands off the merchandise,” said Timmy.  “You shop lift enough around here, don’t you Dean.  Does your wife know you fondle the goods at work?”

Dean stopped dead in his tracks.  “You want to get fucked up kid?” he asked.  “I can arrange that.  I don’t give a shit about getting in trouble.”

Timmy turned around and walked backward, keeping his gaze on Dean.  “Don’t lie to me Dean,” Timmy said.  “You give lots of shit about getting in trouble.  Right now you’re trying to figure out how to do anything without getting your ass handed to you by Chuckles back there, and you’re too dumb to figure it out.  Just show me to the hole and go back to playing with your jewels.”

Dean made a fist and lifted it before dropping it back to his side.  “You’re lucky I’m not allowed to hit girls,” Dean said.  He walked past Timmy and turned left at the next hallway.

Timmy stayed just a step behind Dean.  “Nope, you don’t hit girls.  Too bad though.  Your wife might enjoy it.”  Dean kept walking, not acknowledging Timmy’s comment.  Timmy’s smile grew larger.  Definitely this was where he belonged.

Murder He Wrote?

Anthony looked back at the prison that had been his home for forty years.  He had gone in as a young man, but was leaving someone who qualified for Social Security.  He shook his head, drew himself up straight, and continued to walk out.

Jerry, the guard escorting Anthony out, asked, “So do you think you’ll miss the place?”

“Do you miss when you take a dump?” asked Anthony.  “I’ve been looking forward to this moment every day since I stepped foot into this hell.”

Jerry smiled.  “Yeah, well I’ll miss your humor.  Take care old man,” Jerry said.

Anthony didn’t respond, but waved as he continued to walk.  There was a taxi waiting to take him to civilization.  The taxi driver took what few belongings Anthony had put in a duffle bag and put them in the trunk.  As Anthony got into the back seat the driver turned back.  “Where you want to be man?” asked the taxi driver.

Anthony pulled out a small piece of paper from his pocket.  “I want to go to the Starbucks on Clinton St,” he said.

The taxi pulled away from the curb.  “Ah, looking for some of the good stuff.  Most of you guys want to hit a bar,” the taxi driver said.

“Most of us guys are stupid,” Anthony replied.

The taxi driver just shook his head and continued to drive in silence.  Anthony sat there and watched the scenery go by, sort of like he watched his life go by for the last 40 years.  Finally he decided that the silence was more painful.  “Have you ever done something for all the right reasons, but paid for it like it was the wrong thing?” asked Anthony.

“Not that I can think of, man, but I’m sure you had lots of them back where you just came from,” the taxi driver said.

“Yeah, well, most of those dopes were animals.  They lived on emotion,” Anthony said.  “Me, I did it with calculations.  I looked at insurances, at what could be done, at what had to be done.  I almost got away with it, but that wouldn’t have been right either.  In the end I was convicted on a crime I didn’t commit.  Now that is story you get a lot back there.”

“Oh yeah?  What did they say you did?” asked the taxi driver.

“Kill my wife,” said Anthony, “but you see, I didn’t do it.  It was brilliant in a way.”

“You didn’t murder your wife?” the taxi driver asked.  “Did you try to prove your innocence?”

“Nope.  I didn’t say I was innocent.  I just did what I had to do.  Now I am a free man.  The question is, was it worth it?” said Anthony.

“Man, I am confused,” said the taxi driver.

Anthony chuckled. “So was my wife.  At least until I laid it out in front of her.  She had to die.  It was best for everyone involved, especially her sister.”

“Dude, are you like high?  Man, you must be on something.  Look, we’re here,” the taxi driver said as they pulled into the Starbucks parking lot.

Anthony suddenly became nervous.  He fumbled to take out the faire and a good sized tip. “Thanks for the ride,” he said.

The taxi driver pocketed the money and handed Anthony back his bag.  “Man, I think you were the one taking me for a ride.  Good luck.”  With that the taxi pulled away, leaving Anthony alone and free for the first time in a real long time.

Anthony looked around, trying to find the courage to walk inside.  She said she would be there, but would she really come?  She had sent the address through his friend Pauley, but it could be one last prank that Pauley got to pull on Anthony the sourpuss.  The only way to know was to go inside.

Anthony pulled the door open and let himself inside.  The smell of real coffee permeated the room.  It was heavenly and an assault on his senses.  He looked around and didn’t see her.  Stupid Pauley!  Still, he didn’t want to look like an idiot.  He walked up to the counter to order a coffee, but was confused by the myriad of choices and weird sizing.  He decided to take a step back and watch.

Suddenly a woman’s voice from the past electrocuted his soul.  “Sorry I’m late.  Traffic from the airport was murder.”

Anthony spun around and began to tear up.  Right there was Emily, wait no it was Eva.  He had to keep that straight, or else forty years could mean nothing.  “Eva, so nice of you to come,” he said, stuttering with emotion. “I…”

Eva gave him a hug.  “It’s okay,” she whispered.  “I’m here Anthony.  I’m not going to let you go.”

When Eva let him go she smiled and dabbed at one of her tears, then one of his.  “Sit, I’ll get us coffees.  Black, one sugar, right?”

Anthony smiled.  “You always had a great memory,” he said.

Eva left him at a small table in the corner and disappeared up to the counter.  Anthony watched her.  She looked so good.  She looked like a slightly older version of the woman he had married so long ago.  The thing that impressed Anthony was the way she carried herself.  She was so much more self-assured, so much like her twin sister.

Eva came back to the table and handed Anthony back his coffee.  “I just can’t believe it.  You’re finally free,” she said.

Anthony stalled for time by taking a sip of the coffee.  Boy that was stronger than the crap back at the prison, but so rich.  He let it play in his mouth before swallowing.  He looked back at Eva.  “Finally.  To be honest I was worried I was going to die in there.”

“So was I,” Eva said.  Now it was Eva’s turn to stall with her coffee.  She studied him with those jade green eyes.  Anthony almost began to squirm under her gaze.  Then she made a decision and put her coffee down.  “You’re flying back with me tonight.”

Anthony put his coffee down and steepled his fingers.  “Won’t that undo all the things we’ve done?  I don’t want to go back there,” he said.

Eva leaned in close.  “No one is going to figure it out now.  It was too long ago.  They just don’t care anymore,” she said in a low voice.

Anthony leaned in as well.  He could smell her breath, her scent, and it unleashed so many physical responses, but his calculating side kicked in.  “You don’t think bringing home the murderer of your sister is going to raise a few eyebrows?” he asked.

Eva sat straight up like she had been slapped.  “Isn’t forty years enough to pay?” Eva asked.  “You don’t think we have served enough time.”

Anthony laughed.  “You served?  Which penitentiary were you in?” he asked.

Eva looked Anthony straight in the eye.  “The man I loved and my sister were taken from me in one night.  I’ve lived inside those walls since then, not letting anyone come inside, not letting anyone come close, all to preserve a lie.  Now you tell me Anthony Fierily, are you going to stick to your marriage vow?”

Anthony dropped his gaze.  She was right, but so wrong at the same time.  Death had parted them that night.  Yet here she was wanting Anthony to come home with her.  Forty years of waiting, and now he realized he was scared to be the man he was while she had embraced the woman she had become.

“Okay, I’ll come home,” he said.

Eva quickly gave him a kiss on his forehead.  That perked Anthony up and put a smile on his face.  “More of that later,” she said.  “We need to hit the road.  The plane leaves in three hours.”

They both got up and left Starbucks.  Eva steered Anthony to a Lexus SUV.  “It’s not mine,” she said at his inquisitive look.  “Mine is nicer.”

The SUV came to life and Eva pulled out into traffic.  Anthony couldn’t wait anymore.  “I know I came up with the whole plan, but I didn’t like it.  It just made sense,” he said.  “I just didn’t see Maurice going for my throat.”

“Yeah, you were smart, but not that smart.  You were political hay my dear.  Maurice rode that conviction to governor.  If he had won and put you to death, well maybe he would have been president,” Eva said.

“To think, my death could have launched a different president,” Anthony mused.

“My sister’s death launched this,” Eva said pointed around the SUV.  Anthony’s gaze dropped to the floor again.  Eva noticed and placed her hand on his thigh.  “She was going to die from cancer.  It’s not like now.  She was terminal.  That damn insurance company would have dropped the policy.”

“And now you’ve made quite the recovery,” Anthony said.

“It’s truly amazing,” Eva said.  Tears were now streaming down her face.  It was Anthony’s turn to blot them out with a tissue.

“Good thing we never changed who your beneficiary was after we got married,” Anthony said.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Eva said.

Anthony slapped his forehead.  “Of course not.  I’m sorry.”

Eva grabbed his hand fiercely.  “It will be okay.  I love you Anthony.  Till death do us part,” Eva said.

Anthony gave Eva’s hand a kiss.  “I love you too Emily.  I just had to say that one last time,” he said.

Eva nodded.  “But now it’s time for a new chapter.  Eva always had a cooler ring to it anyway.”

The Trial of Adam part 4

The feeling walking through a teleportation gate never quite left you, but luckily it was so foreign to the human mind that you quickly forgot most of the particulars.  At least that’s how Adam justified it to himself as he set foot on his new home.  The disorientation of traveling one meter and yet in reality millions of light years with that same step made you appreciate the awesomeness of the technology, but Adam always preferred to be in a spaceship going through a wormhole.  Something about the vessel doing the same thing while you stayed still spoke to Adam’s sensibilities.

Ruckblau’s gravity hit him a bit harder than he had expected.  Weighing one fifth more would take some getting used to.  Adam had lived on some higher gravity planets, but it was always a struggle in that first week.  Adam looked over at Liam just in time to catch Liam tripping over his own feet.  Adam caught Liam and managed to not fall over himself.  “Watch that first step.  It’s always a doozy,” Adam said.

Liam stood on his own and gave Adam a quick nod.  Adam let him go and breathed in deep.  The air smelled of peat and an organic wetness that promised agricultural gold.  Adam loved that new planet smell.  There was so much you could tell just from a quick sniff.  The gravity might suck here, but the air was wonderfully not sterile unlike his cell for the past five months.

The gate was situated in the center of a small compound.  There were a number of small buildings that immediately surrounding the teleportation gate’s landing zone.  They were the type of portable building that was easily disassembled, moved through a gate, and then reassembled.  As a matter of fact Adam would be willing to bet these buildings had been moved to numerous worlds so far in their lifetime.  He wondered if he looked close enough he would find his name on one or more of them.  Adam liked to leave his autograph on each world he worked on.  It was always a thrill for the lesser xenobiologists who followed to find.  At least the ones he had had to interact with while they were doing follow up verification of his work, or so they had told him.  Lucky fools.

Low walls could be seen in distance on three sides.   The fourth wall to their left was much taller.  Adam pointed at it.  “The prison?” he asked.

Liam shrugged his shoulders.  “Probably?  They usually don’t put up big walls on penal worlds,” Liam said.  He pointed his thumb back where they had walked through.  “That gate is the only wall that really matters.  If someone tried to go back without permission they would be shot on sight.  Not many people try to escape.”

A female voice came from one of the small buildings that had an open door.  “Yeah, but that threat of death doesn’t stop those murders marooned here.”  A blond woman dressed in the uniform of the FBC walked out of the building and toward the two of them.

Adam noticed that she walked like she owned the place, so she must be some sort of higher ranking official.  He also noticed her green eyes and how they glittered in the sunlight.  They reminded him of this species of lizard he had found on Maximi-4.  That lizard was a high level predator who used its ability to change color quickly to this emerald green color to mesmerize its prey before quickly making the killing strike.

“That is the wall that keeps the general population out of our hair,” she said.  “Otherwise rape and pillage would be a full time endeavor.  Those idiots haven’t figured out that they need to start working on building something here, since they are not going back there.”  She pointed at the gate.

“How many of them are lifers?” asked Adam.

“All of you,” she said.  Adam flinched at the remark.  The woman smiled at that flinch.  “But you get to live on this side of the wall.  At least until you screw it up.  Then I’ll be there when they throw you over the wall.  For now I’ll let you play in my little garden here.  Now what brings you planetside Liam?  This isn’t your normal operating procedure.”

Liam smiled and held out his hand, which the woman took and shook professionally.  “I needed to get out and stretch my legs.  I’ve been behind a desk too long.  A real xenobiologist gets out in the field,” Liam said.  He looked at Adam.  “Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.  I figured why not.”

“So you’re staying?” asked Adam.

Liam laughed.  “Oh hell no.  I’m just getting a taste of it.  Beside, this far away, the gate can’t be too stable.”

“Thanks for reminding me of that,” Adam said.

“Well you don’t have to worry about that Dr. Durst since you are now a permanent resident,” she said.

Adam held out his hand.  “Please call me Adam.  And your name is?” Adam asked.

The woman ignored his hand and began walking away from the gate.  Liam and Adam had to hurry to catch up.  “I am Dr. Eve Kaztner, the head of the scientific detail and defacto governor of this little pocket of hell,” Eve said.  “I am your boss and your jailer.  As long as you remember your place we will be okay.”

Adam hurried to get in front of her and stopped, forcing Eve to momentarily slow before she ran into him.  “And where exactly is my place?” he asked.

“Currently on my shit list for getting in my way,” Eve said.  She then pointed at the small building they were closest to.  “That is your lab.  Do your job, don’t get in my way, and keep your nose clean and you might get to like this dump.  Cross any line and you will find yourself so quickly on the other side of that wall that you will think walking through the teleport gate took forever.”  She turned to Liam.  “Enjoy your visit, but I will assume you are going back tonight.”

Liam nodded.  “That’s the plan.  I will be visiting every standard week instead of waiting for data transmissions.  This is an awesome opportunity and I plan to learn from the best.”

“Yeah, we’ll see about that.  Enjoy the rest of your day, gentlemen.  I have too much work to do to waste anymore time today,” Eve said as she turned on her heel and walked away without waiting for a response.

“She is a force of nature,” Liam said, “but she has a reputation of being fair.”

“Then why is she out here then?” asked Adam.  “It doesn’t sound like she begged for the assignment.”

“Don’t know.  Maybe you should ask her that,” Liam said.

Adam opened the door to the lab and looked inside.  “Yeah, I’m sure that will be a pleasant conversation.  I’m sure it will end with me on the other side of the wall,” he said.

“If you want I suppose I could ask.  She can’t do that to me,” Liam said.

Adam walked into the lab and shook his head.  “You won’t have time.  You need to go back right now.  There is no time to lose,” he said.

“Why do you say that?” Liam asked.  “Are you worried about the gate collapsing?”

“No, I’m worried about this equipment,” Adam said.  “You promised to try and get me something I can work with.  This,” he said as he gestured around at the packed lab, “is not that.  Go to work young man.  Show me you are an equal partner in this endeavor.”

The Trial of Adam part 1

Adam Durst looked at the bars of his cell and contemplated if this whole thing was real.  His lack of freedom told him it was, but still Adam was in disbelief.  He should be outside these walls, flying through space on his own exploration mission.  To boldly go where… well wherever he wanted.  Didn’t they get it?  He was an explorer, plain and simple, but now he circled the cell like the caged animal he was.  “This can’t be happening,” he said to no one.

That’s why he startled when a voice replied.  “Mr. Durst, it is most certainly happening.”  The owner of the voice materialized around the corner of the hallway.  Henry was an old school guard who was secretly counting the days till he could get out of jail and into retirement.  Following Henry was his lap dog and trainee, Wendell.  “Time to meet your lawyer,” Henry said.

“Should we shackle him?” asked Wendell with a grin on his face.

Henry shook his head.  “I don’t think Mr. Durst will give us any troubles.  Wouldn’t you agree?” Henry asked Adam.

Adam didn’t like Henry, but could respect the man.  Wendell, well he was going to either be a tyrant when Henry retired or out of the system as a statistic.  “I’m a model prisoner,” Adam said.  “I walk a mean walkway.”

Henry didn’t even acknowledge the joke.  He just unlocked the door and waived Adam threw.  Adam walked through and pretended to check the nonexistent pockets of his orange jumpsuit.  “Sorry Henry, I must have left my tipping money in my other suit,” Adam said.

Wendell got into Adam’s face.  “You think you’re funny?” Wendell asked.

Henry put a hand on Wendell’s arm, moving him out of Adam’s space.  “Mr. Durst, are we about to have an issue?” Henry asked.

Adam rubbed his shoulder in remembrance of the last issue he had with Henry.  Sucks when you trip and fall hard into cell bars.  Especially when an old guard who is still built like a linebacker falls on top of you.  At least that’s what the accident report had said.  Yep, old school.  “Nope Henry.  No issues,” Adam said.

Henry nodded and closed the empty cell door.  He then gestured down the wide hallway and the three of them began to walk in a line, with Adam in the middle.  They walked in silence till they came to the private meeting rooms.  Henry unlocked the third one, opened it up, and waived for Adam to walk in.  “Miss Abernathy is waiting for you,” Henry said.

Adam nodded to Henry and entered the room.  Alice Abernathy sat at the table, her briefcase exploded over the entire flat space.  This was not going to be fun.  Henry began to close the door, but Adam stopped him.  “Henry, when you retire you should look into being a doorman.  You would be so good at it, and you would still get to wear a uniform,” Adam said.

Henry smiled a very flat smile through pursed lips.  Adam knew he would pay for that one later, but maybe Henry wouldn’t do anything because Alice had heard the exchange.  Henry’s eyes seem to say the same thing, but then Adam caught a glance of Wendell.  There was a promise of a whole lot of hurt there.  Yep, definitely a statistic.

“Miss Abernathy, he is all yours, unless you wish us to take him back right now,” Henry said.

Alice sighed and shook her head.  “That is tempting, but no, I need to prep him for sentencing tomorrow,” she said.

“As you wish,” Henry said to Alice, but he kept his eyes on Adam.  Yeah, maybe old school would allow for some extracurricular activities tonight.  Adam shuddered as the door closed.

Time Travel Can Be Hard Time

The prison gate swung open and Ferris walked out of the walls that had held him closed in for over half a century.

“How does it feel?” asked Marvin.  Marvin had been a guard at the prison for over six years.  Ferris liked the kid, but he could be too much a hard ass.

Ferris gestured back at the prison.  “When I came through these gates, I was a demon.  I killed a family for some drinking money.”  Ferris looked at the bus waiting to take him to a half way house.  “Now I realize I wasn’t a demon, but a time traveler.  I get to see how everything has changed.”

“Just watch out.  Some things haven’t changed,” said Marvin.

“Like what?” asked Ferris.

“There are still demons who kill for drinking money.  Don’t reconvert,” said Marvin as he shook Ferris’ hand.  “Take care and I better not see you on this side of the walls again.”

Ferris tipped his hat, exposing his grey wispy hair.  “No more demons for me,” said Ferris.  “and no offense, you can keep your walls.  I’m sick of living in a castle. ”

And with that Ferris walked onto the bus.  “Take me to the future,” he said as the doors closed.

Fighting Illusions

I looked into the unblinking eyes of my enemy.  My arm swung my weapon into position, seemingly of its own volition.  I retreated further into my mind to let my body continue its program.

I had never wanted to fight.  Well, that’s not really true.  There was a time when I was young and foolish when I romanticized the concept of proving my superiority physically.  Okay, I was young and foolish and on my arse after Mary Kay knocked me there for trying to steal a kiss, but that was not why I was here now fighting for freedom.

Freedom is an illusion that needs belief to exist.  That was my belief since I was twenty and arrested for defying my government’s call to arms for defending a country on the other side of the world, all in the name of preserving peace.  I couldn’t figure out then how war preserves peace.  My freedom was not believed by the people who imprisoned me, and therefore my illusion was shattered.

Illusion is one of the oldest forms of magic.  The ability to focus the audience’s attention on what was not important allows the illusionist to do things that seem impossible.  That’s why I joined up as soon as was released from prison.  Keep them looking the other way, allowing me to create an illusion where I had given up my freedom, but secretly I allowed them to run my body so I could keep the freedom of my mind.

Now here I was, my gun in hand, pointed at my enemy.  I kept waiting for the training to kick in, to make me more of a machine that was primed to kill.  Then I watched my enemy sink to the ground, a red stain blooming from his chest.  I then dropped my gun and decorated it with this morning’s eggs.   My illusion shattered, the thought I had while sinking to my knees was, ‘Is it possible to be unprogrammed?’