Chapter 19 – Revelation
I finally leave my office at 6pm. Yet another long day with just so much to do. I had spent the day trying to arrange tomorrow’s intake of new inmates, as well as having to read the status reports of other wardens on the convicts they were in charged of. The same old stories of permanent heavy injuries, or worse, death from over exhaustion. It fucking annoys me – the incompetence of these inexperienced wardens. It’s true that many are new. Ever since the private prison industry took off the job of prison warden has become a lucrative career option. Some are in it to fulfill some fantasy of theirs to dominate other men, muscled brutes forced into subservience. Others are just in it for the good pay and benefits. They have no proper understanding of the convict, no ability to handle them. They haven’t a clue how to properly discipline convicts with harsh brutality, and then to tantalize them with promises of freedom and reprieve, all the while goading them with both threats and hope to new feats of superhuman strength. And this facility certainly needs the able bodies of its convicts alive and willing to serve if it wishes to remain operational.
I gather the documents and put them in the drawer under lock and key. I turn the TV off, last showing Convict 33 labouring as usual. Unlike me, its workday will go on for another 4 hours. I leave my office, and head downstairs to the first floor, where my quarters are located. As Assistant Chief Warden, I have a private room. It’s nothing fancy but at least I have my privacy from the other wardens. Many of the wardens do 2 or 3 week shifts here and live in shared rooms, since there aren’t any local towns nearby. But for me and a few others, we live on-site. Ever since I took the job I’ve been living out here, rarely leaving the compound. Fresh food gets sent here by truck every third day and we can make requests for other supplies when needed. Being so far away from civilisation, the wardens have access to really good facilities here, like a media room, a good library and a gym. I’ve never been one with many needs though. And ever since entering SisPen as a convict, there’s nothing for me outside the prison compound.
Back in my room, I drop my office stuff and grab my duffel bag. I mix a protein shake at the simple stove/kitchen table I have in my room and swallow it in a few gulps before heading out again. Everyday, I spend at least 2 hours after work exercising and I could really use it today to destress from the hard work I’ve put in. The wardens have a well-equipped gym here; weights and bars and machines of various difficulty and complexity were to be found. I usually spend every other day here.
However, on every other day, like today, I head underground via the narrow spiral staircase down a flight of stairs. The first floor underground is where we currently house the mid-term inmates – those serving terms between 1 and 2 million revolutions. As I walk along the dark corridor, I can hear a symphony of grunts, pants, groans, and shouts coming from the different cells. The sounds of suffering convicts employed for forced labor is usually more intense approaching evening, the end of S-Time, the state-mandated time allotted for convict servitude. It is then that their strength truly ebbs from the hours of toil they have already put it throughout the day. And the shocks become more frequent to spur them on till their shift has ended.
Turning twice at right angles I arrive at the end of the corridor, and enter a room I am so familiar with – the Pit. Apart from parties this room is left empty and permanently unoccupied, according to my instructions. This pit is made up of two former cells, before I had the old wall between them knocked down. One of these cells has only ever housed a single convict. That convict was me.
I turn on a light switch as a incandescent light bulb flickers to life. Despite not offering much light, the contents of the Pit can be clearly seen. Just like the other cells, this room made up of two cells contain two millstones, located as they would have been in the centre of the cells. The bed and running stones have been grinded smooth from their constant friction against each other.
On one side, hung up on a wall like a fishing trophy is my old Penitent’s Collar. It is made of solid oak wood with rusted industrial-grade chains still hanging loosely from it. Those were the days as this program was just beginning and the wardens had to create makeshift yokes before the servo controlled metal ones were ready for use. I usually keep this artifact somewhere else during parties, worried that this relict of my past would get damaged. Despite what I claim to the others, this is still precious to me, a prize I fought and bled and suffered for.
On the surface stenciled in red are the well-known words I had before my eyes everyday for those three years of my servitude:
My blood boils when I read that. That bottle of booze had cost me everything. Property was damaged but no one got hurt. Yet this landed me into the corrupt penitentiary system of this country. I was just in luck and got sent to a judge sympathetic to the private prison system. I was declared guilty and sentenced to the maximum extent of the law. With little money and no powerful friends, I thought I was doomed to an endless cycle of crime and reincarceration, until I was given an opportunity. An opportunity to be part of a pilot program designed to rehabilitate prisoners faster and more successfully than ever before. The program called for young, fit, male prisoners willing to undergo a more intense form of incarceration which would reduce their sentences by at least half the time. They would “work hard in close rapport with a mentoring staff”, “expand their set of skills” and “get loads of work-out time”. I jumped on the suggestion. Little did I know that this meant hard, physical convict labor!
I begin to strip. I honor the way of the convicts here in SisPen and a convict pulls the Wheel naked. I force my mind to return to the mindset of the convict – Its purpose is to serve! The Servitor Unit requires the full concentration of the Motor without hindrances such as clothes. This was the problem with the other wardens. Without being on the receiving end they couldn’t understand the nuances, the patience required to train up a proper convict to perform its duty to the utmost that its body could take.
Damn! I think to myself. I’m thinking like a warden again.
I waste no time starting my workout. I grab my old Collar from the wall and proceed to connect it to the pole jutting out of the grindstone, and proceed to put the collar on. The wood of the collar brushes against my shoulders and thick arms but I can no longer feel it. Not only has the wood been worn smooth, but the years of splinters and chaffing have ruined my broad shoulders and a thick layer of scarred tissue prevents any sensitivity there.
I know every nook and cranny of this room, and face the wall which still contains a single functioning camera , as per my orders.
“Ex-Convict 2, reporting for duty,” I say.
I get a response, “You don’t have to say that all the time sir. Have a good exercise.”
Like I said, I honor the way of the convicts.
Despite its older look, my Penitent’s Collar is just as sophisticated as the others, something I retrofitted after serving my sentence. The servos rotate within the yoke as Main Control locks me in my Collar, trapping my neck and arms. With this, I begin to exert all my physical power to turn the Wheel. Veins pop along my arms and neck and lats flare up at the all too familiar procedure. Abs of steel rise and fall in step with my mighty chest, as my air-starved lungs draw in the stale air for oxygen which my muscles so desperately crave for the performance that is now required of them. Round and round I go as sweat pours down my chiseled face and my muscles strain to do their duty. From the open cell door, the sounds of suffering inmates continue to drift inside, my source of workout motivation. With my grunts and heavy breathing, I join the choir.
Man, it does feel good to workout on the Wheel. Despite the suffering endured as a convict, it has one major advantage over my status as a warden – It doesn’t have to think. All it knows is pain and how to avoid it. It eats, shits, and works, all in that little box of its cell. All it has to do is put 100% effort into pulling the Wheel.
Doing this exercise affords me a little time every day to relive the old days. How I was brought here, surprised (much like any other convict) by what the pilot program actually meant, and the task i was given and forced to perform above and beyond what I thought was possible for any human body to endure. This is the fundamental difference, though, between me and the other convicts – the others were assigned here; I was stupid enough then to choose SisPen.
And as the first batch of convicts, we certainly had it worse. The wardens were testing all kinds of ideas, and their discipline was lax, and having suddenly so much power over defenceless convicts, this often lead to dire consequences. So it was that the wardens developed such brutality and cruelty, testing their limits, how far they could go in punishing a convict before it broke. This was the wild-west phase of the prison reform, just anything went. For example, before the development of the Punishment Unit, most wardens resorted to bullwhips of rawhide, often administering multiple lashes for slowing down or insubordination. This resulted in the lacerations on my back, which will never really heal.
Many of these punishments resulted in the victims not surviving. But I was one of the few that did. Each day brought new punishments, and each night, brought abuses. This was what the advertisement had promised that the convict would “work hard in close rapport with a mentoring staff”. How they tortured me, abused me beyond the scope of my sentence, into unimaginable sexual depravity to fulfill their lusts at the end of my work day.
Yet, I endured and swore revenge. I allowed the hard labour and humiliation to remould me, to make me strong, and gave me the will to defy those sons-of-bitches. They stepped up their game as well, branding me with on my back with the word “INFRACTIONS”, telling me I would bear a scar for each time I did not meet their complete satisfaction. Even at this, I fought back through my subservience, denying them and reason to punish me. My body became one with the Wheel, while performing my rounds smoothly and with all awareness and clarity of mind, each footstep deliberate, in perfect control of each muscle group, letting each perform in a cycle of rest and strain, exchanging when needed and allowing me to be at constant physical strength throughout State Time.
Meanwhile, my mind was a sea of turbulence. I spent my days thinking of how I would punish these wardens, if only they were convicts and I was the warden. What new suggestions and innovations I would think up, to make these assholes turn into abused, hard-muscled convicts like me. One of these ideas would be the electric-based Punishment Unit.
On one occasion, the Chief Warden came to visit SisPen after one of his long trips around the country promoting the prison reform. He watched me perform my duty and was so impressed by the strength and the determination I exhibited. He spoke to me personally and discovered the secret fire, the hate I harboured, how I would have my wardens “shock-collared by the balls”, among other things, if given the chance. The Chief Warden loved my proposal and had a prototype Punishment Unit made and attached to me. I responded as any man or convict would when electrocuted by the genitals. Henceforth, I would receive no more lashes but shocks and as a reward, I would have a change of warden-mentors. This idea, in fact, was what led to my job offer of warden upon my release, and assistant chief warden by the end of that year.
This obviously came as a shock to the old prison guards who had been my wardens and tormentors. Three years I took the punishment and now I was their boss. And when I got the job, I had all of these fuckers fired.
Now in the permanent absence of the Chief Warden, I run this place in his stead, allowing me the chance to test all the ideas I had for convict reform when I too was part of the system, toiling in servitude as a convict.
Despite the completion of my sentence, I continue to maintain the body of a convict. My workout on the Wheel is complemented by intense workouts at the gym. I find this important, not only to keep in shape, but also to inspire fear and a sense of dominance in my otherwise rowdy bunch of underlings, who I very much doubt could handle a single day walking in the shoes (or rather footsteps) of a SisPen convict. I often take a turn at the Wheel during a convict’s initiation in order to inspire awe and respect from both warden and convict. I have but one point to prove: Convicts make the best wardens. Unfortunately, due to our defeat at the last New Year’s Party, I am unable to do so…
The two hours are up, and I inform Main Control to release me, which they promptly do. I take off my Penitent’s Collar and hang it back in place. My sweat-soaked body I dry with a towel I brought and drink some water to quench my horrendous thirst. I then put on my clothes, pack my stuff back up, turn off the lights and walk back into the corridor.
I look at my watch. It’s 8.10pm now and I’m famished. I think I’ll have some leftover steak and potatoes in the fridge. Then, I’ll speak with Warden Smith, the Warden-Doctor in charge of Convict 33. It is time to start 33 up on those drugs again. Another 8 months and it’s the next New Year’s Party and I’m signing it up again. If we are to win, training has to begin even earlier.
I think about this as I walk up the stairs with an empty stomach and a voracious appetite, leaving the dark, cheerless corridor, where the sound of pain-wrecked convicts will continue to echo for another 2 hours.