Prison is an unforgiving place.
The Man in the Box
You never really know. That’s the terrible part I suppose. It just tortures you and tortures you until you crack; until you break down and confess to what you may or may not have done in the first place. You think Maybe. Maybe it will be different for me when in the cold, heartless reality everyone suffers the same fate but at the time you don’t think right. You are a broken person with a shattered, failing mind and whether or not you actually committed the crime is not a factor; pleading guilty is a last ditch effort, it’s do or die. Or so you think. They get you anyway, when your guard is down, when you feel safe the floor opens up underneath your feet and you are gone. But the death itself is not the worst part of it; it is simply a sharp nail, but it is the paranoia that is the hammer that drives the nail into your head. Even if you get pardoned (an unlikely occurrence) the hammer is still poised and at the ready as long as you live. Imagine living your life unable to have children, to marry, or even to find love because every day you expect the ground to open up and swallow you whole. Although, I suppose, it is better than staying here. At least out there you have more ways to escape the feeling. In here, there are only two: Federal Pardon and escape, both of which are nearly impossible and one of which has only been attempted and done once. We all knew him as #7, and he had been here for as long as any of us could remember, though that isn’t saying much as there were more important things to worry about. Such as staying alive. Still, however, it still must have been a considerable amount of time as the guards had betting pools going on how long it would be before he got the Box. It also must have been long enough for him to plan his ingenious escape. We all though he was insane, carrying a ¼ inch ball bearing with him wherever he went. But now I see what he must have seen all those years ago. The boxes are an automatic system, and in every system there is a margin for error. Whenever someone would get the box, the floor would remain open and anyone in the immediate vicinity would be forced to watch the poor soul drown as a lesson of sorts to all of us: Someday, this will happen to you. It was futile, he must have realized, to think his fingers could bear the crushing pressure of the lid. Hence the ball bearing. I had not been there when he got the box, but from what I have heard I can guess at what he must have done. The bearing between the box and the lid caused a motor gear to shatter, allowing him to escape through the machinery that drove the boxes. A theory? Yes. A delusion? Probably. But whatever it is, it is my last chance. The probability that I will get the box increases every day. I could get it today, tomorrow. Maybe, if I am lucky, next week. But nothing beyond that. I am nearing the end of my sentence here, it cannot be long now.
Soon they will open the cell doors, and when I step beyond those steel bars it will be open season. Now, it is do or die. I have pried a bearing from the slider housing under my cell door. I am alert, agile, and fast. If I get the box today, I will be ready, almost certainly.
But if I am not, and don’t survive the day, at least this will.