Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Chapter 4 - A few days in the block

After cutting the bonds to free my hands and scrawling my name and number on the door they left me to wait. I took the time to take in my new surroundings, the cell was very different from the one I had spent the previous night. The door was cunningly designed so that it could open both ways, there’s no way I could  barricade myself in, not there was much with which to build such a barricade. The door also had an odd round hole in it, it took me a moment to realise that it was for a fire hose, if I started a fire they could put it out without having to open the door. Very clever! One thing remained the same however, it had the same narrow slit, with a flap on the other side through which they could have a peek whenever they wanted.
I paced for a time and measured that the cell itself was smaller, although the ceiling was higher with the single mesh covered light being out of reach. Set into the outside wall was a narrow window that couldn’t be opened, I could see only fence and sky through it. Truly this is a prison, within a prison.
There was no bed, just a wooden board set into the concrete floor and most fascinating of all two pieces of furniture. A small table and a chair, both made from cardboard. I inspected them closely. They were made from corrugated cardboard that had been folded a few times for extra strength. Gingerly I tested the chair and it took my weight without protest. As an experiment I tried jumping on the chair and it still stood strong.
Thankfully, some time after noon they brought me some lunch. The tray was passed to me through the slit in the door. Some boiled potatoes, boiled cabbage and what I am guessing is some form of stew. A cup of unsweetened tea was also provided. A feast fit for a king! Well, it was edible at any rate and did help calm the pangs that had been rising in volume throughout the morning. A good thing too, it had been some time since I had last eaten.
After lunch I was escorted from the cell, down the brightly lit corridor and into what can only be described as a little courtroom. Two burly officers stood beside me and I had to stand as more officers and one of the prison governers strode into the room. I paid the officers no mind, but the Governer interested me.
I dipped into his mind, I could feel is discomfort as I rummaged around, but happily ignored it. Here was a man used to dealing with violent offenders, his previous posting was at the infamous Maze prison in Northern Ireland. There he had run a prison full of terrorists and sectarian thugs. It must be a bit of step down to be here, and I wondered why. Delving deeper I soon found the answer. Now this was interesting, he’s on an active target list. I wonder how much he really cares for that pretty family of his? That could be useful leverage, but that was a question for another day, for today I would just toe the line.
For the most part.
I stood to attention as the charge was read out. It boiled down to fighting, fighting and refusing to obey a lawful order. There were a number of witnesses, mostly guards. Only one prisoner was willing to speak as a witness, my sobbing friend from the night before. This was the price he had to pay for a life in solitary confinement for his own protection. Oh Jonathon, I thought to myself, a moment ago you were just a nonce. A target, but nothing special, now you’ve made yourself a grass and even the nonces will hate you.
That made little difference to me, my guilt was clear. Eventually after a speech about keeping my nose clean and other pointless platitudes from the stern faced governer he asked if I had anything to say on my own behalf.
“I do.” I said. “First, since when has it been a crime to defend oneself? I notice your little troopers have missed out the fact that I was attacked. I started no trouble and was merely waiting for my breakfast”.
“The rules are clear” he said, “Fighting is not permitted. Under any circumstances.”
I was incredulous, “So I should have just stood there and waitied for these officers to have actually noticed what was going on? Surely I have the right to at least defend myself”
“My officers are responsible for the safety of all prisoners. “ With this he leaned forward, “In here you have only the rights we give you. You would do well to remember this. Now, unless you have anything pertinent to add?”
I should have kept silent, now wasn’t the time to start messing with the guards. It was too soon, but his smug, imperious tone annoyed me.
“Actually, there is just one thing. What of the fact that the attack was actually instigated by one of your own officers?”
He actually smiled, he knew that there was no way I could prove this and demanded as such. I matched his smile and turned to one of the officers beside me, I had never seen this man before and he certainly wasn’t anywhere near the altercation from earlier that day. With a startled expression we all heard him say “It’s true sir. I paid Peterson two hundred cigarettes to attack this prisoner sir.” He snapped his mouth shut mortified at what he had just said.
My smile broadened as the Governer’s slipped. He glared at the confessing officer “I will of course have to investigate this matter, but no matter what the cause, fighting is still against the rules. But in light of these mitigating circumstances I will restrict the punishment to four days cellular confinement. Now take him back to his cell.”
If the officers were a little rough taking me back to the cell, I can’t really blame them. None of them really understood what had just happened. I could of course, have taken it further, but now was not the time. I shouldn’t have allowed that little moment of pique to get the better of me. No matter. I can do my four days quietly, catch up on some rest and be back on the wing by Sunday.
The rest of the day passed quietly. As the evening meal was being served somebody whispered through the door “I don’t know what you did, but it was nicely done!” It’s nice to be appreciated I thought as I slowly ate the dodgy curry with too many peas in it.
Just before eight pm the cell door opened and a thin mattress and a couple of blankets were thrown in. Some comfort at last.
After breakfast the next day I was disturbed again. This time I was due to be taken to court for a bail appearance. We all knew this was a waste of time and besides I have already declined  legal representation, so I refused to go. This caused some consternation at first and some ringing back and forth, but in the end they left me in peace.
I quickly became bored and asked for some reading material, I wasn’t expecting much, but apparently even that was too much. It seems that cellular confinement means a loss of priveledges. That meant no items from my canteen, not that I had been given chance to go to canteen yet, no books, and no smokes. Luckily, as with any good rule there was a loophole. By law you are always allowed access to your religious text, so I became Christian for a few days and they let me have a Bible to read.
It’s a surprisingly good read. Don’t get me wrong, it has some boring bits, but there’s  some juicy bits too. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ending for you.
On the third day a commotion in the cell next door disturbed the tranquillity. It was clearly an angry young man who felt he was being unjustly treated. For quite some time he kicked and hammered on his door. He shouted curses at anyone and everyone. I tried to continue reading, expecting him to tire. I clearly underestimated him.
We’re not supposed to talk to other prisoner’s while in the block, but everyone broke the rule in this instance. Both guards and prisoners told him to shut up, but he was having none of it.
As I clearly wasn’t getting any more reading done for a while i took a little dip inside his head. He was a gangster wanna-be who robbed drug dealers for a living. Check out the big balls on Brad! Still, it seemed that he was a bit clumsy with his firearms and had shot one of the girls in the house of the last dealer he had robbed. So now he was not only serving life, with a minimum of ten years, but he also had one of the most connected dealers in the city after him.
The irony here is that he’d actually been moved straight from reception into the block for his own safety. If only he had kept his mouth shut.
I took a firm grip of his mind and dragged it forward, his body followed. He smashed his face into the door, I saw a bright light burst inside his head as it connected. I pulled his head back, and smashed it forward again. It was unfortunate that he started to beg for something or other as I did this as his mouth was open when it hit the door. Again the burst of light, this time tinged with red. I decided on a third time for good measure and I swear I didn’t know this was going to happen. The guard opened the door at just the same as I drove his head forward. The two met with a crunch, there was no burst of light this time, just a darkness that sucked his mind from my grasp.
They assumed that he had done it to himself and took him to the hospital wing. Luckily the sound of another prisoner mopping up the blood didn’t disturb my reading at all.

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