Chapter 20b – … The price of failure
Revolutions: 1 564 428
I wake up to the sound of a loud siren ringing throughout the facility. I stay in bed a little while longer, wondering whether this is really happening or merely a dream. I must have been asleep for no more than 3 or 4 hours.
Suddenly, I hear a loud banging on my door. But without waiting for a response, Warden Fessel, barges into my room, out of breath.
“What’s with the fucking racket?” I ask groggily.
“Sir, it’s your convict. 33 is attempting to escape!”
“What?!” I yell angrily. “Wardens Wolf and Sanchez can’t get anything right!”
“Howcha know, Sir? 33 jumped on them as they were escorting it back to its cell.”
Feigning ignorance, I jump out of bed and head downstairs, wearing nothing but my boxers and carrying the remote control of 33’s Punishment Unit in hand. All around, the whole facility is alive with activity. Some wardens, woken up by the noise, look out from their rooms, wondering what is going on. Others, on duty for the morning shift, rush toward me, trying to explain the situation, which I am all too aware of already.
I head downstairs to the cell. A whole group of wardens follow behind.
“Which floor?” I ask.
“1st” Fessel responds promptly.
We head down there and are confronted by our security system. The stairway has been made narrow! Indeed, a rubbery airbag has been inflated, obstructing the way down. But this is intended. As a security measure, the airbag inflates to ensure no convict, if they ever escape, can use the stairs. They’d be too big for it. That is why convicts are dragged up and down on harnesses when required.
“Get this thing down!” I demand. And Mendoza, ever on duty at Main Control, quickly overrides the security protocol and deflates the airbag. We continue downward and reach the 1st underground floor.
In the corridor, right at the door frame to the Pit, lie the young inexperienced wardens Wolf and Sanchez, unconscious. Up ahead along the dark alley, we hear screaming and the banging of fists on metal.
“HEY!!! HELP!!!!” cries the desperate voice of 33, as the realisation slowly dawns on it that there is no escape from Sisyphus Penitentiary. We hear the voice grow louder, as the convict doubles back, as it bangs on the prison door of every convict on this floor. Having failed to gain access up the stairs, 33 had headed backwards to the end of the corridor, hoping to find some other way out. But the grates in the storeroom at end of this corridor, from which we had hauled it up for the party yesterday, were locked and shut. It retraced its steps and saw in horror that I, along with several well armed guards, were standing there in the dark, a few meters ahead, waiting for it and blocking the entrance to the stairway.
“No sudden moves, 33.” I say firmly, my finger on the trigger of the remote control of its Punishment Unit, dialed up to Level 10.
“Please, Torque” it says. “Let me go. I’ll do anything. I can’t take anymore of this torture!”
“You’ll do anything? Then serve your sentence, like the convict you are,” I reply cooly. “Then you can go.”
“Torque, you were a convict once, you know what it’s like. Each day just pain and mind-numbing exhaustion. Please, no man can take this.”
“No man, but a convict can,” I say. “You have yet to learn this.”
I look 33 in the eye for a split second before I let loose a Level 10 – the highest and most dangerous level that the warden can apply to his convict. 33 falls backwards hitting the floor with a loud thud, screaming.
Now immobilized from the pain, we approach the convict.
“I take it you were quite surprised by our little security measure – simple and effective. Your years of convict labor have broadened you to such an extent, that you cannot walk up the narrow stairway except by squeezing on along the rough walls. The airbag in place made sure this is impossible.”
I deliver a second Level 10 shock, as the convict shakes uncontrollably, and starts frothing in the mouth.
“Having the most inexperienced wardens escort you back to your cell, after a fresh victory at the Pit and the warm feeling of victory and rewards all around….almost made you think we were friends, didn’t it?”
33 tries to speak, but can only make choking sounds.
“But ours is not a friendship, 33. I am a warden and you are a convict. Your purpose is to serve, and my purpose is to make you serve. It seems, 33, despite serving in the Pit as our entertainment, and serving as a convict under me for 4 years now, you have somehow failed to understand your purpose and place at SisPen. Well, it is time for you to learn. It is time for your E.D.U.C.A.T.I.O.N..”
A final Level 10 shock to its balls makes its pupils dilate, as its fidgeting intensifies and finally stops, the convict mercifully slipping into unconsciousness.
To be continued in Book 3