I heard a shriek..
No, It was more like a wail..
One that hurt my head because it was so loud..
It took me several moments to realize the wretched cry came from the depths of my own broken body, mind, and soul. My vision blurred, everything taking a hazy yet rosy hue at first, before deepening into a bloody red that matched the spilled life essence of my friend upon the ground. I felt a rage consume me, my sights set on one person, revenge filled the void left in my heart.
It was O Rei..
He stood there with a lewd grin on his face, proud, and even slightly aroused, by the demolishing effects caused by his malicious murderous acts of jealousy. I pounced like a lion, ready to rip his throat out with my teeth if need be. Pandora sprang into action, trying to play defense, only to receive an unexpected fist to the under ridge of his nose. A resounding crack was the only confirmation of the debilitating blow, as I didn’t even slow to pay his cries any mind, continuing my incipient attack on the bastard responsible for my unchained fury.
I got two good solid hits to Ramon’s face before he grabbed hold of me, one to his left temple, the other an uppercut to the jaw. I had barely dazed him at all, and he applied a bone crushing grip to my wrists, but that did little to stop me. I tilted my head back for leverage, then thrust forward, busting his lip with a head butt to the mouth.
My vision blurred, as blood flowed from a small laceration on my forehead, getting into my eye. I didn’t see the fist from a third party make connection with Ramon’s jaw, knocking him from his feet. The figure pushed me back and I lost my balance, falling onto my behind. I looked to the left to see the prone bodies of my friend Peace and his beloved Stryfe, their hands were clasped together. With the last of his life essence departing, Peace had only wished to hold his beloved one more time. A new flush of rage flowed through me, and I looked for Ramon. I was intent to enact my revenge, determined for him to pay in blood. When I turned back to him, I could see someone was beating me to the punch, it was Wrath.
He was on top of Ramon delivering a barrage of blows to his body, he got about four or five haymakers in before being thrown off by Cavaleiro and Torre. He shook them off and proceeded to fight them both, two on one, He outmatched them individually but they still held the advantage of numbers, resulting in a stalemate. An alarm I’d never heard before rang out, the screeching tone hurt my ears, and a man’s voice came over the system, commanding all inmates to drop on the floor in a prone position. While Wrath was occupied, Ramon was able to rest and recuperate. Not for long, as I jumped to my feet, bursting into a sprint to deliver a kick to his ribs.
“Filho da puta!” I screamed in his native tongue. “I fucking hate you!”
Suddenly, my head was yanked back forcefully, as someone had grasp hold of my hair. If my head didn’t follow, my hair probably would have been ripped out from the root. I turn to my assailant, to come face to face with Obispo. My eyes made contact with his stormy oceanic blues, a second later, I hawk spit right in his eye and received a retaliatory slap in return.
He went to punch me in the face, when canisters of gas sailed past us through the air, followed by shots of warning. The yard smoked up quickly, you could barely see the man next to you, then chaos broke out. A fist broke threw the smoke, connecting with Obispo’s jaw, resulting in the release of his painful grip on my hair.
The smoke thinned a bit and I now could make out the STU’s that were running around in riot gear, using any means necessary to contain this incident. I saw Wrath still engaging Cavaleiro and Torre, holding his own, while Ramon and Pandora were nowhere to be seen. I attempted to assist Wrath, only to have two arms wrap around me from behind, I refused to be thrice the fool. I tried savagely to wrestle my way free, I twisted and turned to identify my assailant, only to find the warm sympathetic eyes of Cerberus.
“Come on, we gotta go!” He said, pulling me towards the gates.
“No, I have to help him, I can’t just leave him!”
“Jynx, we have to move you before Hernandez gets out here.”
“Fuck Muhg! Why the hell are you guys just getting out here anyway, where were you?!” I inquired angrily, attempting to pull free once more.
“O Rei had Hernandez clear the yard of CO units and we, I, was unable to get out here in time, the yard was supposed to be supervised. I was leaving the Admin Building, when Wrath hailed me over, filling me in. It will all be for nothing if you don’t come on NOW!”
He was able to get us to the gate, just as Muhg made her way into the yard followed by STU reinforcements. She indiscriminately beat and bashed the heads numerous inmates in her path, even those who were clearly docile. Cerberus was able to discretely slip us out the side gate, into the admin building. On the way in, I watched as Cavaleiro, Torre, and Wrath were immobilized by the indomitable STU forces.
Once we entered the building, Cerberus brought me immediately to the Warden’s office in the penthouse. On the elevator ride up, my mind was clouded with the horrid images of my friend and his lovers demise at the hands of that monster. He made sure to take their lives with his own hands, to add further insult to injury. No matter which way I spun it in my head, this was all my fault. My fault for letting my guard down, my fault for being too weak to let Peace go; his fate was tied to my actions. Why hadn’t I taken heed of the visions, the message, clear as day to me now in hindsight.
“It’s not your fault, you know? How everything went down..” Cerberus said, breaking me out of my torturous musings, and I turned to him in misplaced contempt, baffled how this couldn’t be anyone’s fault but my own.
“Ramon killed that boy to torture me, he was getting off on it, I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a hard on the whole time. Those two men out there are dead because of me.. I have to accept that, and I have to live with it.”
The elevator came to a stop on the Warden’s floor and we exited, I received a warm smile from Miss Sandra as she alerted the Warden Turner to our presence, who immediately summoned us in. The man was sitting at his desk, a pint of scotch was in front of him, a twenty five year old Macallan, he definitely had good taste. He then poured a shot and swallowed before standing to greet me, holding his hand out. I ignored it, taking a seat. I grabbed the Macallan, and took a shot in honor of my cherished friend and his beloved, should I ever be so lucky to meet him again in the next life. I turned to the Warden, my eyes bloodshot with the lingering fury from the yard.
“Philip, do you have an explanation for what took place today? I was lead to believe you held command over this estate.” The words escaped my lips tensely, I could barely recognize my own voice, it was absolutely venomous.
“There are something’s out of my realm of influence, you do understand? Muhg has control of Gen Pop A, I was told there was a mandatory security debriefing going on. All yard activity on A side was supposed to be suspended, with inmates placed on lockdown. I’ve started a full investigation, but we’ve never been able to pin any violations on her.” He said, clearly as frustrated as I was.
“So someone from higher up has their hand in the cookie jar, is it my father?”
“I haven’t had the pleasure to speak to the man directly, but almost anyone with the right clout could get messages in and out of here.” He revealed.
*Then I could possibly get message to Yurika!* I thought, latching onto what ever glimmer of hope I could, as I haven’t been allowed calls or mail.
Not even a whole month has gone by in this place, I had to question my chances of survival in here, given the way things had progressed so far. Maybe she could help in some way, hell, even if she couldn’t, just hearing from her would be enough. I felt like I was at the breaking point, but there was no time for that, a strong will and a strong mind was imperative for survival. Even if it meant turning as scrupulous and cold hearted as my enemies, father included, he had made it perfectly clear where his allegiance lied. At this point, I barely needed a whole hand to count the people I trusted unconditionally.
I filled the Warden in on the details about the events in the yard, he grew somber at the mention of Peace and his tragic end, they had gotten close during the time spent together. He expressed regret there was little he could do to punish O Tribunal, outside forces making them virtually untouchable. After further expressing my frustration at the inefficacies within this whole facility, I calmly inquired if I’d be placed in the SHU, my survival was clearly in jeopardy. He could only place me in special housing for forty eight hours, then I’d have to be returned to Gen Pop A. Since I had the wardens ear, for the moment, I decided to pick his brain.
“What would be the price for a name? I’m sure you can think of a few, Philipp. Hell, give me five and I’ll remodel any room in this motherfucker! We know how much THAT would cost, just look at how run down this old facility is, no offense.” I said, gesturing around the room, before I took another shot of the scotch. “I’m just saying, that while I’m still alive, I have certain funds at my disposal. Forgive me if I’m being too forward, I’m just looking for a lifeline here.”
“No offense taken, my friend, this place is a piece of shit! But I can’t get myself involved in whatever game they have going on here. I’m just the key holder to the pits of hell.. No control over the demons held within the chaos.” His words taking on a slur, due to inebriation. Playing nice guy was getting me nowhere, slamming my hand on the table, the time for games was over.
“Philip, name your price and cut the fucking bullshit!” I had lost what little patience I had left, at this point.
“Well, we could use a new…” He finally capitulated to my will.
“Done! Get a pen and paper, write down five names that would be of value to me. Be it person, place, or thing. Also list what your asking price will be.”
I asked him for his smart phone and took a picture of the document, then sent it to Yurika’s encrypted email, she’d know what to do with such information and how to handle payment. After we finished up, we took a round of shots for Peace and Stryfe, wishing them a well passage to the gates of the elysium fields. Cerberus was instructed by Phillip to escort me to the SHU for forty eight hours, when we got there, I got my first good look at Hell and was a bit daunted by what I witnessed as we passed through the dark and dank halls.
Specially housed inmates occupied three of the four stories within in the building, but I would only witness the second floor. It seemed the higher the floor, the more mortiferous the prisoner. I had learned from Cerberus that Wrath was placed on the fourth floor, due to prior incidents that required his segregation from the general populous. Muhg, of course, personally handled the sentencing herself as judge, jury, and sometimes executioner.
As we made our way past the numerous single cells, each door had a small window and a mailbox door type hatch for food service. I could see the somber psychotic faces of the prisoners as we went by, the desperation and despair was palpable in the air. We finally ended up at what I presumed was my cell, Cerberus unlocked the door and gave me a few encouraging pats on the back as I was led inside. As soon a I heard the slam of the cell door closing, I broke down, and I let it all out.
Every tear, every scream, and shout that failed to soothe the anguish that afflicted me, it was further amplified by the effects of the alcohol consumed in the Warden’s office. I don’t know how long I laid there, but eventually I was taken by sleep, having worn myself out.
The visions returned to my dreams, as if the death of my friend wasn’t enough. These precognitive messages were different, my sense of sight had been altered, my eyes replaced with touch and sound. The one constant throughout was pain, fluctuating levels, but still incessant. I felt rough bruising calloused hands grabbing and tearing lewdly at my flesh, my screams falling upon deaf ears. Hands grasped my throat and pulled my hair, while mouths could be felt suckling my skin and teeth biting flesh indiscriminately, there was no pleasure to be gained by this as pain overwhelmed my nerve endings.
I wondered if it would ever end, a second felt like a minute, and a minute felt as long as an hour. Just when all hope was lost, a soft familiar saccharine voice reached me, breaking through, followed by a cool sensation that encompassed my body easing my suffering. Gone were the vicious attacks from unknown assailants, their presence now replaced with the familiar faces of a loving grandmother and a cherished friend. Peace was standing there along side my grandmother humming a tune, it was one I recognized as a favorite of hers, she’d sing in that gentle voice of hers as she detangled my unruly hair.
She had never taken care of biracial hair before mine, and it seemed to come with the best and worst qualities of Negro and Caucasian hair. Each strand grew, twisting and coiling out its own path, out from my head on down my back. There was no way Peace would know that song, as I had never mentioned it.
Grandmother approached me and pulled some of my hair out of my face, tucking it behind my ear like she used to, at least she did when she wasn’t in her hazy fits. Her smooth cocoa brown skin was etched with lines of wisdom, and her crown of coiling kinky curls, was silver and heavily peppered, with strands of black and grey. Kind brown eyes accentuated by a heartwarming smile adorned her face, her svelte shapely body preserved in her old age. She was wearing a lace embellished white dress, with simple pearls adorning her ears and throat. She didn’t speak to me with words, she communicated through a pulse of energy that vibrated from her. It was hard to explain the sensation, sometimes the vibrations felt like singular nouns or adjectives, other times, as complex as full sentences.
I asked her as best I could if she and Peace were in a ‘heaven’ of sorts, I got a sensation in response that made me feel like that was a childish interpretation of something immeasurably more multifarious, this clearly was something beyond current human comprehension. I was also given a warning, vague as usual, about not only the dangers around me, but the danger I pose to myself. She could feel and see a dark power within me that I would need to free, but it also had the potential to consume me. It would also lead me down one of several paths of fate that would end in my destruction.
She kissed my cheek and wiped away a tear that I didn’t even notice had fallen, Peace followed suite with a hug while humming the soothing tune in my ear. I just let the tears flow freely, I was shocked at how real it all felt, for once, grateful for the lucidity of my dreamscape.
The screeching from the rusty cell door awoke me, it had to be the middle of the night as the lights were out. Light cascading in from the hall, revealed the husky and stout profile of my twilight visitor. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I immediately saw that this wasn’t just any CO.
“I see what he likes about you, su encanto…”
*Fuck, it’s Muhg.*
“Allot of you maricones come through here, mostly after you’ve been cycled through the system and eventually dumped here, la ultima parada. But you..” She stepped further into the cell, I could smell alcohol and a faint whiff of marijuana. You came in Fresh off the presses, we get a few of those time to time but it’s rare, Usually you guys don’t last very long. Especially when Torre, Cavalo e Bispo tend to break their toys.”
“How about you just tell me what the fuck you’re doing here already.” I had gotten fed up with the pretenses.
“You little bold mouf’ bitch, you’re lucky he said not to touch you. You’ll get what’s do and nosotros tambien.” Even with such little light, I could see she was getting red in the face.
“What does he want now, he’s already taken everything?”
“We both know that’s a lie, we know about almost all the financial properties and assets your father owns.”
“Hahahahaa! You fools still believe I hold VALUE to my father? Do you not see where my head rests?!”
“That’s irrelevant, we know that he makes contributions to the prison, so do other anonymous donors. Tu padre, wants you alive, papa. You aren’t the pauper you claim to be, Mr Ellison seems to have stash quite a fortune somewhere, and he’s been up to something. We’re betting that you might know something about that.”
“Oh really, and just who the flying fuck is WE? I know for an indisputable FACT, that you nor Ramon are smart enough to concoct and implement the operation you fools have been getting away with here. I’d even bet it goes above Senhor Carlo and my pathetic father, but as for you, yourself. You’re nothing but a pawn, entirely dispensable. I’m afraid you are going to have to let THEM, know that ‘WE’, ain’t got shit over here.”
“For such a perra rica, you sure can be ignorant. They will get what they want by any means necessary, the Carlo boy is just the tip of the iceberg.. Well, so I’ve heard.” She gave me that nefarious grin she was infamous for, it irked me something fierce. “Speaking of him reminds me, I also have message from sua Alteza, he said to make sure you understood that the decision has been made for you and upon your return to the cell block, you will report to his cell. I’ve already completed the paperwork and have had you reassigned as his cellie.”
“I hope you know, that when they are done with you, and you’ve outworn your use.. You will be disposed of, and if you actually mean anything to them, you might just be fortunate enough to be a sacrificial lamb of sorts. There’s no pot of gold for you at the end of the rainbow, I’m afraid, no happy endings. Remember THAT as you depart, you’ve been dismissed.”
At that point, I rolled over, turning my back on her. I heard her growl something under her breath, something about lessons being taught. I heard the screech of the cell door closing and the resounding click of the bolts locking place. It would probably be a few hours or so before they’d serve breakfast, my only marker of time, was their time. Solitary confinement can be quite the sobering experience, forcing you to face yourself in the present-tense, as if time was standing still, almost in limbo. I thought about what would happen to me now, when released from the SHU, I’d be claimed as a concubine of a flagitious tyrant. The fact that it was still up for debate on whether my ass would literally turn into grand central station, was a cause for concern as well.
I don’t know how anyone could live through such a punishment, I’m sure it was something routine for Putas Do Rei. I’d probably seen maybe four or five of them firsthand, though they are rumored to number in the 100-150 range, broken and abused dolls with empty eyes revealing tortured souls. There was never an overflow of them because they carried a high suicide rate, death becoming the only escape of ‘a Courte do Rei’. Death wasn’t an option for me, only vengeance, and I’ll ensure it’s served on a cold dish.
After a couple hours passed, I finally was able to drift back to sleep. It seemed as soon as I shut my eyes, they were beckoned to open. The door hinges, caked with rust, made that awful screeching sound I had yet to become accustomed to, and I probably wouldn’t get the chance. I only had maybe a full day and a few hours left of lockdown, before I’d have to face my fate head on. Stopping by my holding cell with my breakfast/brunch, was a CO I had yet to meet. He was an older white male, slightly balding, he also possessed these gentle brown eyes. I didn’t trust him, but figured I could let my guard down a little bit. The meal was actually decent for once, consisting of crisp bacon, 2 sunny side up eggs, cheesy grits n gravy, and a buttered biscuit. I didn’t care for the eggs cooked that way, but I scarfed it all down indiscriminately. I had an actual GLASS of orange juice, that was collected along with my tray, once I was finished eating.
He tossed me a brown paper bag, it’s contents included a bottle of water, a pack of pretzels, and a bag of sour gummy worms. He advised I save the sugar for later as I’d be having my mandatory hour of REC time provided by law. I thanked him for the meal as he departed and was told to “owe my thanks to O Rei”. I almost forcibly regurgitated the meal right there on the spot for fear of tampering, but suppressed the urge, as I remembered what Muhg said in the night about me being more valuable to him alive.
“Fuck him!” I said out loud to myself, opening the pretzels and taking a swig from the bottled water, making a note to self of my hypocrisy.
The hours continued to pass by without event, leaving me to fester in monotony, even my one measly hour out of my cell at REC time sped by with haste. The tempo of every moment seemed to be accelerated by a step and a half or so, leaving me slightly disoriented once dinner came and went, with a visit from the old man. I declined the meal, my pride overriding the hunger pain, I so surely felt. There was nothing else to do but sleep when they called lights out, but I didn’t want to wallow in the misery of my unfortunate reality. I slept like I was in a coma, my dreamscape, an ink black void of nothingness. When I woke in the morning, first thing that hit me was the pangs of starvation, punishment for my defiance. It had to be seven in the morning when I initially had awoken, because it was several hours before Cerberus was there to greet me with my breakfast, or should I say brunch. It was almost an hour till noon and we were just getting woken up to be fed.
“Is Ramon fucking with me man?! What’s going on? How’s he got control of my food?!” I rambled off, as soon as I caught sight of him.
“This time, it has nothing directly to do with him, as far as we know. We had some trouble on B side, so the entire facility was on lockdown. As for your food, he has people in the kitchen, and apparently he’s given instructions for them to take care of you. I’ve eaten from all the food that’s been prepared for you, so don’t worry about any tampering.” He said, ending with a bit of a laugh.
“You don’t have to do that, putting yourself in harms way for me. Something could have happened to you.. Ramon is a monster that’s capable of anything.” I replied, wary of any gift from the bastard. “Bad things happen to the people I care about, when they try to do good things for me. I refused to let something bad happen to to someone I care for again.”
“Don’t worry, bro. I was told to take care of you by my uncle and I’m gonna do it the best I know how, I see how dangerous it is for you here. It would kill Ti’Hatcha if something happened to you, he truly cares for you as if you were his own son, so I see it like we’re fam, you feel me?”
“Yeah, I got you.” I replied warmly, glad to still have a friend in this dreadful place.
This time my meal was a small platter of pancakes topped its whip cream, thickly cut strips of bacon, and eggs lightly scrambled. Cerberus sat with me for a few minutes, stealing a bit of my bacon as payment for his presence, I was glad to oblige. I cut him a portion of the pancakes and passed him the fork as I asked him what the issue was on the other side.
“The Blacks, Asians, and Caucasians are clashing, it’s gotten out of control. Usually O’Connor has them at peace, cause the gang leaders were usually are a bit temperate. The gang leaders O’Connor has always dealt with before, have all been killed in the last few weeks. Attack after attack, one after the other. Since then, the top spots have turned over three times. No one’s been able to hold control for long. Satiating the pack and harnessing control, it’s harder than it looks to be alpha, it seems.”
“So what is he going to do to restore some semblance of order?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“He’s going to let things pan out till the alpha dogs rise to the top. He has no choice but to, this facility is severely understaffed. A sad truth is the prisoners actually run this place..”
“So I’ve come to learn the hard way.”