Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Center of Things

The Prompt:  
Ah the freedom of flight, the weightlessness of free-fall. Doesn’t it feel wonderful? Well it would if you weren’t launching at maximum velocity towards a gaping hole that leads to the center of the earth. Why are you going there? What’s going on?

Revenge. That’s what is on my mind as I sit in a shuttle moving at a rapid speed along the tracks that would lead me to Final Stop, a facility designed to take place of death row. Instead of taking a dirt nap, prisoners were taken deep into the center of the earth. Gone were the days of appeals and second chances, once a jury declared a guilty verdict, it was all over. I don’t even get the luxury of looking out the window. The shuttles are encased in some kind of super-metal, stronger than titanium and forty-eight inches thick. Not that it would matter, all I would be able to see is the cold steel structure of the tunnel I’m traveling through. Instead, I stare at the back of the girl in front of me, Prisoner 98745622, the black numbers emphasized against the bright yellow jumpsuit. She’s crying loudly and keeps tugging at her tangled blonde hair, mumbling something about injustice. I feel the same way, but I don’t let the others see me cry and I don’t voice my own opinions about our system of justice. I suspect the weeping sops are the first to go down at Final Stop, I need to prove myself right away if I hope to survive. No one has ever come back. I will be the first. I have to find the doppelganger who took my life from me. I flex my fingers, thinking about that day that changed my life. I was there when the bank was attacked, standing in line to make a credit withdrawal. I was lying on the floor with the rest of the customers when my twin walked in and shot the President in the head. They caught it all on film and when they were interviewing all of us, they assumed I was playing a trick on all of them. The trial was over in under an hour. In a matter of three months, I went from living the dreams of a hopeful college student to wearing a jumpsuit as bright as a lemon and hurtling towards a condemned life working in the diamond mines. I won’t waste time thinking about the unfairness of it all, I have to find a way to escape this alternative to a death sentence. The man next to me grunts and kicks the back of the chair making Prisoner 98745622 jump and hiccup and start sobbing louder. I look over at him, meeting his hard stare with one of my own, daring him to say something. He nods and breaks eye contact. Message received. The wheels of the shuttle start screeching as the brakes are applied and we all lurch forward. A guard at the front stands up and waves his rifle as he turns to face us with a sneer. “Welcome to Final Stop, I will be your tour guide”, he is laughing now at his own pathetic joke. I meet his gaze and a smile tugs at the corner of my mouth. I will make a special effort to find him and make him stop laughing.

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