Every so often the door opens and at least ten to twenty guys are shoved in with us from all around the world, a vast variety of ages and personalities. We never see the warden or any human guards all we see are a handful of robots that we unaffectionate nick-name SS-R (silent steel robot). Some of the newest arrivals gang up against a SS-R and rush it with devastating consequences. The first time it happens Smokey, ZZ, and I are stunned when we hear a loud zap and the group of six guys go flying through the air landing in a smoking heap of burnt flesh that makes Tim throw up. I throw up too but swallow it back down I don’t want the guys to see any sign of weakness and besides there is nothing to clean puke up with except scoping it up in your hands and dumping it into a toilet. The dead, injured, and sick get dragged out to wherever, never to be seen again. We have grown fond of Tim taken him under our wing but his inability to eat after 25 days finally kills him. He has lasted four days longer than Gandhi and when the SS-R takes him away I advert my eyes he is an unrecognizable skeleton.

When the next group of cons arrived a guy in a white straight-jacket lay down on a mattress beside Jack. “No Riley I don’t think he’s dangerous how about you Mark?” “What did you say? Are you talking to me?” Jack asked. “Oh no,” he said “the boys are just wondering if it’s safe to sleep on the mattress beside you.” He was obviously a “bug” as all cons called the nut jobs. “Listen Bug, I won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me, deal?” “Deal!” he said with a shit-eating grin as Jack freed up his arms, then he talked himself to sleep. Smokey and ZZ were happy to protect Bug because Tim’s absence had created a hole and left the big boy’s without a sense of purpose. For Jack Bug was entertaining as he talked about being a roadie setting up the tent in a circus while his parents did a dog act until they were killed in a stampede of elephants so he ran away from the circus which was ironically backwards. Being homeless he stole food from a farmers’ market and was caught then imprisoned a travesty of justice since he was only hungry.

Illustrated by: Jason Hendrickson