When I stepped off the bus, a peculiar hush fell over both yard divisions. It was a bit windy, I could feel it blowing my braided hair about. The deafening silence was unnerving, at this point I would have preferred the jeers. Some of them eyeing me with a blatant look of lust, others were unreadable.
There were looks of malice, many curious eyes, but several of the gazes were just indifferent. One thing was for certain though… All eyes were on me.
“All you mother fuckin maggots fall in line!”
The coarse grizzly deep voice but distinctly female voice of an officer rang out, sauntering up militantly was this five foot nine stockily built and tomboyish woman of hispanic descent, outfitted in CO gear. She looked straight up butch, like a man even, her hair cut in a short unbecoming mullet, it was longer on top and faded on the sides. She had a cap with the prisons emblem on it in her hand, when she put it on, she looked more like a man than she did before. Her face put me in the mind of ground zero, on 9/11. She had this pompously arrogant aura, staring each inmate in the eyes in intrepidity. Yet when she came to me, she stopped, a staring contest ensued. Defiantly, I kept her gaze, refusing to be intimidated by the likes of her.
“I see we have a shark among the fish, You’ll learn your place soon sweetness, remember sharks sometimes eat other sharks..” she mused, before moving on down the line.
I rolled my eyes at her, but I knew I would obliviously have to tread lightly around this one, she already seemed to have it out for me. The inmates spectating against the gate, began their whistling and cat calls again.
“Welcome to Mythos Peak Penitentiary, ladies! Also known as ‘Tartarus’, to the assholes we have housed here, but you’ll get to meet those bastards soon enough.”
She laughed, as she paced up and down the line, clearly this was something she enjoyed.
“As to why you are here, It seems the justice system has deemed you degenerate pansies a high risk threat to civilians and society, that is why you are here! This is the last stop, Hell on earth, and I can guarantee one thing.. you all will feel the fire! We don’t give a damn if you are innocent or guilty. I couldn’t care less if you were white, black, pink or blue because to us you’re just another fucking felon. You have now become our property for the duration of your respective sentences, that is, if you can last that long. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Mythos has reputation for being one of the most dangerous facilities in the world, and I assure you. All the rumors are true and the reality is probably ten times worse than you could possibly have imagined. I am Katarina Hernandez, the Head of General Population A, you can refer to me as Boss, Sir, or Ms. Hernandez.”
*This bitch CANNOT be serious.* I thought, shaking my head.
“Is there something you’d like to say Mr. Ellison!?!” she barked, in my direction.
I raised my eyebrow, sneering and rolling my eyes indignantly, as this was getting tiresome. At the mention of my name, the volume of the prisoners lowered to a hum, to the point you could almost hear the crickets. She stormed up to me, lightning fast, whipping out her baton to strike.
“That is enough, Hernandez!” A commanding and stern voice caught everyone’s attention, it was the Warden.
From the packet I had gotten from Yurika, I could immediately recognize this to be Warden Phillip Turner. He had an exemplary record of being a strict disciplinarian, and was also known for advocating rehabilitation over punishment. He ran a tight ship, and appeared well respected by staff and prisoners. He had on a custom tailored Italian suit, charcoal colored and very expensive looking. He had silver hair that was cropped at about an inch past his ears, a little whisper of black at the temples. He had a stern face but gentle brown eyes, his skin was light olive and slightly tanned, with the telling reddish tint of a lush. He was sturdily built at 6’1, with a bit of a belly rounding him out slightly.
He was accompanied by another CO, his badge said O’Connor, but I knew he was an Irishman from the look of him. He was around my height at five foot ten, with pale and lightly freckled skin, topped with short cropped curly red hair. There’s a weird thing about red heads, they’re usually either horrendous looking or really attractive, not much middle ground in between. This guy though, made it to the attractive side just by a hair. I would say it was his eyes, a pale silvery blue, like a day of clear skies. He was leanly built and looked as if he could handle his own. He had an unreadable expression on his face, but his demeanor was cool, sorta coming off as the yin to Hernandez’s manic yang.
After giving the burly hispanic a stern lecture on the proper handling of a prisoner, he had correctional officer O’Connor finish the admittance of the new inmates. As we were led through the walk way to be processed, I held my head high showing no fear, as weakness would make me a target. They kept the inmates color coded it seemed. I saw a mixture of blues and white, surrounded by a sea of orange.
With all those colors mixed together, it was still easy to notice one other thing. As far as race was concerned, the disassociation was apparent, very little mixing to be seen. This was a common factor in both yards, each group isolated from the next by walls of tense air and space. As I passed Hernandez, I caught the malevolent look in her eyes. I heard a low growl come from her, like a leashed canine, ready to attack.
*This heifer is truly crazy* I mused inwardly, keeping pace with the progression of the steadily moving line.
The irony of me leaving my prison on the outside, for a REAL one inside, didn’t escape me. It troubled me to think of where I would fit, in such a xenophobic atmosphere. Sure, I slightly resembled the Hispanics, with their dark european features, but one word from my mouth would reveal the falsehood of that notion. Even though I could communicate with the Asians, I didn’t know how they would react to that; It might be taken as an insult for all I know. One would think I’d be able to just assimilate with the Blacks but that might prove to be a problem, given my highly publicized and polarizing origins.
Many considered my mother a sell out or gold digger, either that or they envied the wealth she obtained, all that without mentioning my asshole of a father. I had always been received halfheartedly by the Black American community, most saying I wasn’t ‘really’ black because I didn’t live the black experience, my skin also a pass in a color obsessed world. On the other hand, had I any desire to abstain from identifying with those roots, I’d be called a self hating uncle.. Well you know the rest.
What many don’t understand is, those are mostly poor people problems, the only color they care about where I’m from is green. Though on occasion, there may one or two caucasoids to step out of line, those are few and far in between. Speaking of the Whites, they knew most of all who my father was, why would prison be any exception. Would they try to stake claim or deny me on behalf of my negro ancestry? On the outside things were more ambiguous, I passed through mostly unaffected by bias against my African ancestry.
Like the rest of the Paula Patton’s and Mariah Carey’s of the world, seamlessly blurring the lines of race, color, and culture. On a grander scale such things were a privilege, but here, I would be left in the fringes of a self-segregated sub culture, with rules of it’s own to abide by. After they paraded us past the lewdly taunting inmates, we entered the main building to be sorted and processed.
“Ok, listen up! Here at Mythos, we color code our prisoners based on security threat level. Freshmen inmates are easily identified by white jumpers or uniforms, with sky blue indicating a prisoner of low threat level. Navy blues are classified as a medium threat. This means you’ve either had one or two fights or a low grade violation. Then we have our orange colored group, if assigned an orange jumper or clothing, this means you have a reputation as a repeat offender to the penitentiary code of conduct, that of which you can find in your orientation packet. Orange level prisoners are considered dangerous or of known gang affiliation. This will let you know which miscreants are running in your circle.. and you know as they say, you are the company you keep gentlemen.”
O’Connor continued his orientation lecture, as we were handed our prison issue uniforms, Mine was white, as we’re most of the others. Maybe a sprinkle of navy blues and one orange, I paid no further attention than that. CO O’Connor was handed a clipboard, after skimming it over he started assigning inmates to either Gen Pop A or B, lovingly nicknamed ‘Hades’ and ‘Purgatory’. The fourth building in the facility followed the trend, going by the moniker ‘Hell’. If there was even an ounce of seriousness in any of those aliases, I was in for loads of trouble. When he finally got to me, he gave me a sympathetic look, which already informed me what I needed to know.
“J.J. Ellison, prisoner #8131986JE, you’ve been assigned to share living quarters in Gen Pop A.”
*Just my fucking luck, they couldn’t have planned it better than this!” I thought incredulously, as I was ushered on to be searched thoroughly.
It seemed Hernandez wished to perform mine personally, she roughly pushed my nude form against the wall. She had rough and pudgy hands, rubbing those nasty paws up and down my body. She violated me, pinching my nipples, twisting them hard to gain a reaction. I hissed in a sharp breath of air, holding in my cries. I refused to scream for her, she continued to test me further. Her hands made their way to my hips and she pulled my ass back against her crotch like a horny dog. She leaned over my shoulder, whispering for only me to hear.
“O Rei is gonna love you, pretty one.”
She brought her hands back up to yank my hair back and pinch my cheek. She continued on antagonistically, clearly getting off on the authority.
“He loves when you stallions come in wild.. He enjoys the challenge to break you.”
She stroked her hands down my body once more, I grit my teeth to control my seething anger. She reached a hand to the front, getting more than a fistful of my groin, moaning in pleasure, surprised at the size of my endowment. She took hold of my balls, while simultaneously, running two of her fat fingers up my crack. She placed them at my hole attempting to push them dry into my body. The sharp pain, eliciting a cry of protest, one I couldn’t stifle. CO O’Connor apparently overheard, making his way toward us. He quickly began to admonish her.
“Muhg, didn’t Turner already warn you about this kid!”
“And didn’t I tell you motherfuckers not to call me that!!??” she screamed out, absolutely petulant.
All the other CO’s present burst out in a roaring laughter, much to the confusion of us newbies. Still chuckling at the inside joke, O’Connor turned his attention to me.
“You!.. Get dressed and please try to stay out of her clutches as best ye’ can.” I headed his words, my ears picking up his accent for the first time.
I put on my prison issued under garments and tank top. I forwent the sweats they provided, for the white jumper. I figured it would be the hardest thing to forcibly remove in case of an assault, you never know what could happen. After medical, I was then pulled to the side, out of the group. All I got from the guard, was that the Warden wished to see me. This guard was quite the imposing figure, he gave off ten times the dominating energy Hernandez Aka Muhg gave off; with one tenth of the effort. He looked to be built entirely of lean muscle. He presence put me in mind of Ti’Hatcha, as they looked to share the same Samoan heritage. He was not as matured in age as Ti’Hatcha was, but the resemblance was there. Before we got too far away, O’Connor called out.
“Cerberus, everything is finished with that one, just take’m to Gen PoP A when the Wardens done with’m.”
So that was this commanding characters name, it seemed fitting this would be the watchdog of a literal hell hole, such as this. He gave a nod and ushered me to the elevator, we then rode to the top. The Warden’s secretary was a stout ebony colored woman with a kind and pretty face, she smiled and greeted us as we came in. She asked us to wait a moment while she summoned the Warden, he told her to let us by. Cerberus lead me through the doors, and we found the man standing by his bay window, that overlooked both yards. He turned to my escort, and nodded his head.
“Thank you Cerberus, you can wait outside the door, we will only be a moment. Tell Saundra to make you a cup of her world famous coffee, while you wait.”
The prodigious CO gave returned a silent nod of affirmation, before exiting the office.
I stood before the Warden, wondering what this all was about. He gestured for me to take a seat, and I obliged. He went around his desk to sit in his chair, a smirk plastered on his reddened face.
“I’d offer you some of Saundra’s coffee but truth be told.. It’s godawful!” He quipped, erupting into an infectious laughter, that caught me off guard. “I do it because it makes her feel good, I make my team drink it, because they work for me and will do whatever I command. I gotta keep them on their toes somehow, now don’t I?.. Especially now, as we’ve never had such a high profile inmate grace our presence, you wouldn’t believe the calls from on high that I’ve gotten. I mean really, the senator and congressmen of my district, yes.. but I’ve gotten calls from Washington, that almost never happens to a prison, let alone a privately owned facility. One thing is for certain, you’ve managed to piss off the right people, my friend.”
“You have no idea” I replied dryly, as he continued on.
“To be quite frank, some of the conditions I’ve been requested to keep you under, push the limits of your rights of as a prisoner. From the look on your face, I see you are wondering why I’m divulging such sensitive information. Well as I said before, I’ve received calls from all sorts of sordid characters.” He looked at me, almost as if I resembled someone he once knew. “It seems I owed a favor to an old associate of mine, and I abhor owing anyone.. It seems they’ve waited till now to cash in this particular IOU, which is quite serendipitous for you one would say.”
*Ti’Hatcha must be behind this.* I thought, remembering his letter.
“Unfortunately, some of the requests of those on high will have to be met. You will be admitted to Hades, under the dominion of Muhg.. mhrrmm.. excuse me CO Hernandez. ‘O Rei’ unfortunately controls that territory, so Hernandez prefers to keep the Hispanics under her jurisdiction to prevent any problems. Purgatory, on the other hand, is more diverse and slightly more populated. As a result of budgetary issues the last several years, we’ve had issues with short staffing. We also have to deal with the realities of our limitations, our problems go deeper than the fact that the building hasn’t been remodeled except for the outer shell.” He spun in his chair to peer out the window, but he continued on. “The outdated design of the facility, only allows us to keep the fringes of the general quarters secure. It’s what’s happening inside, that we have a challenge keeping control of. With our lack of staffing we can only intercede in the most extreme of cases, so it’s pretty much house rules once you’re inside. I’m assigning Cerberus to shadow you when you are outside in some of the communal areas. Im also setting you up with a nonviolent offender as a cellie, he can show you the ropes and keep an extra eye on you. You can trust him, he’s the most genuine and veracious inmate I’ve come across in my whole career. Please believe, he’s better than any other alternative.”
“Is there no way you can just put me in Ad Seg? You are the Warden, aren’t you? This is YOUR prison!” I exclaimed, but He shook his head regretfully.
“These are the people that decide my funding, and I’m already strapped as it is! It’s like the owner even forgets to pay the bills sometimes. I’m doing the best I can, I owe that to your grandmother…”
“HaHaaHaHaha! I’m sorry, did you say my grandmother? Cassandra Scarlett has been rolling in her grave for some time now Warden.” The mention of the name, caused me to think such terrible things about the woman. “She always told me I had great things in store for me, that I’d harness unequivocal power and influence that the world had never seen before. She claimed I’d transcend success and fortune, becoming a god king amongst men. Now look where I stand.. She was no psychic! My beloved grandmother just suffered from delusions, they never made sense to anyone.”
*Gran, what would you think of me now..* I thought somberly, my thoughts interrupted by Warden Turner raising from his seat, slowly walking back towards the window. He began talking softly, so hard to hear at first.
“Cassandra was a beautiful creature of incomparable character, she warned my wife of her cancer. She was able to get an early diagnosis, that in turn, gave me twenty healthy years with my wife instead of six heart wrenching months. Sure, she still suffered her fate at the end, but we had more time together.. I will always be indebted to Cassandra for that, even from the grave.” He walked back over, and took a seat, and looked me right in the eye. “A year before she died, she sent me a letter. At first, it was indecipherable, coming across as sporadic rambling. I thought I would fail her. Then the picture became clearer, all the way up until your file landed on my desk!”
“So my grandmother really was a supposed psychic.. Hmm, Wouldn’t it have been nice of her to let me know the bit about me being double crossed by my fucking father, then sent to prison to rot!!” I screamed, losing my composure for a moment. Looking for someone, anyone, I could place blame to, yet I had only myself.
“Sometimes it’s not good to change things, because it would only make them worse, that’s why she was always vague and cryptic with her premonitions. Maybe this is the path you have to take, kid, to fulfill that destiny of yours. Now I feel for you, I truly do, and I’ll do my best to watch out for ya. But Yard time is almost over, and you have to report to Gen Pop A for head count. Cerberus has his orders.. you can go Jynx.”
“Thank you for everything Warden Turner, I truly appreciate it.”
“No problem, and please, in private refer to me as Phillip.” He said, reaching out to shake my hand.
“Will do Phillip, have a good evening.” with that said, I made my exit.
Cerberus was waiting right outside the door, he lead me out of the office. I waved goodbye to Sandra as I exited, and she smiled waving back. Once we were on the elevator, Cerberus turned to me and began unlocking my cuffs. I looked at him puzzled and he gave me a lopsided grin, before rubbing my shoulder.
“Relax, little one. My uncle said you wouldn’t be any trouble, so I’ll save you from the burden of wrist rash.”
“Let me guess, Ti’Hatcha?”
I knew the resemblance wasn’t coincidental, it just had to go beyond the ethnic similarities. He gave a beaming smile, one that made me feel safe for the first time, since I’d left Ti’Hatcha on the outside. We made it to the lobby, and I was was ushered outside to be transferred to Gen PoP A. Cerberus took me past the security checks and past Muhgs office, she was in there talking to a very good looking guy with a medium brown complexion. He had a very distinct brow, with these dark callous eye filled with enmity. He turned his scornful gaze in my direction, him and Muhg taking notice of us. She stood quickly to slam shut the door, but not before I caught the impish grin cross the guys lips. He wore an orange jumper, so I knew he was not to be taken lightly. His leanly built frame, looked swift and formidable.
Cerberus bought me to the double bolted remotely sealed doors, that would lead me into Hades. He pretended as if he was un-cuffing me again and stood at an odd angle, one glance over his shoulder told me he was avoiding the surveillance system. He grabbed my hand and placed something inside, closing my fingers around it. It was a black box, almost like a jewelry box that would carry a bracelet or full length chain, but a little bit bigger. As he handed me my bag of prison issue toiletries and clothes, I slipped it inside discreetly. He then warned me in a hushed tone about what I was to face behind these doors.
“Only use what I gave you in the most extreme circumstances. In case of a cell search, there is a brick in the bottom left corner by the toilet that slips out, hide it there. Your cellie is not to even know about this, you understand me?” I nodded affirmatively, keeping my silence to allow him to continue on. “They test all the new fish, weeding out the weak. Picking out the new hoes for ‘a Corte do Rei’..”
“Is that the name of their gang? ‘The king’s court’?” I asked him sounding sorta confused, but he nodded yes, so I inquired further. “Are these Mexicans?”
“No, they’re an assortment of other Spanish nationalities mostly from the south and central Americas .. You know, like the Colombians, Brazilians, the Panamanians, et cetera. We know ‘O Rei’ controls most of what happens in the Hades cellblock and he has had a longstanding beef with the Mexicans, they look at them as the trash of the Hispanic community. We segregate the Mexicans to ‘Purgatory’ to keep them off of ‘os reis da terra’ as they like to call it, there aren’t a lot of them as it is.”
“Who was that in Muhgs office? the tough guy with the orange jumper and crazy eyebrows” I asked.
“Os Reis Amante?.. That was Pandora, yeah.. You wanna stay clear away from him. He’s the top hoe in O Reis underground sex ring. He’s one of the most cutthroat and conniving characters in this joint, he’ll do anything the king asks. ‘Os Reis Amante’ is probably the only high threat level ‘hoe’ in this whole facility. We have intel that he got into the king’s court by double crossing the leader of the Mexican mafia. He is of Mexican, Black American, and Brazilian descent, and uses each allegiance to his advantage, whenever a claim would suit its purpose. As of right now though, he does all the King’s dirty work.”
“Sounds like quite the unsavory character.. I’ll remember to tread lightly around him.”
He gave a cheeky smile as he radioed for them to open the doors to Cellblock A, he gestured for me to enter and I followed his request. The doors clanged loudly as they shut behind me. I had nowhere to run, nor anywhere to hide. I walked down the hallway, the fluorescent lights flickering ominously overhead. There were all types of degenerates loitering around in the shadows, reminding me of the drug and pest infested ghettos I’d seen on television or passed through from the safety of a limousine. I could hear a commotion up ahead, the raucous sound of a crowd clearly entertained. There was a hammering sound, almost as if someone was remodeling, but I didn’t know any materials that could make such sounds.
At the end of the hallway, I could see more light and the crowd that spill into the aperture. No one took notice of me and I was grateful for the small blessing, I wouldn’t want to be recognized just yet. I had to get to my cell, I needed to get my things tucked away and situated. Making my way through the crowd, I was finally able to see what all the calamity was about. The crowd was spread out in a circle, creating a ring of discordant inmates.
In the middle stood the talkative guy from the bus, as well as two other fish, all of them dressed in nothing but the white underwear issued to fresh intake. They were lined up, and prisoners screaming over each other, trying to stake a bid. A group of tatted up guys were holding them at bay, as they pushed their ‘money’ in the air. A heavily tattooed muscular guy with dark bronzed skin, took it from them, calling out the highest price.
*What the hell?! Is this an auction?* I was horrified, at the thought, this was slavery.
It seemed it was, the commentator had just sold one of the three to a huge stocky brown skinned guy. The boy was dragged off screaming to his cell by his new ‘conservador’, his screams only delighted the vile degenerates even more. The commentators voice broke through the ruckus once more.
Apparently one had two options, be auctioned off as ‘Putas Do Rei’ or fight any challenger that stood forward. It would earn you pawn status amongst the rest of the inmates. It was only one step up from being one of the kings whores, but it was something, you were at least a man. Though if you lost to any of the first three challengers, you belonged to the winner free of charge. After the second guy was unceremoniously sold off to the highest bidder, something happened that elicited a cry from the onlookers. The boy from the bus chose to fight..
The first challenger was a skinny Hispanic guy, he had scars and cigarette burns on his arms and back. He stuck his tongue out lewdly at the boy, before striking like a viper, taking him from his feet. The boy quickly recovered, just in time to dodge the incoming fist that aimed for his temple. He took advantage of the moment to knee the scarred man in the stomach, causing him to hunch over in rib splitting pain. The boy gave him no recovery time, landing a three piece combo, knocking him cold. The crowd, filled with bloodlust, resembled that of the ancient roman coliseum in its heyday, it was simply barbaric.
Stepping up next, was an athletic dark skinned guy with curly hair. He taunted the boy in Portuguese, confirming my suspicions that he might’ve been Brazilian. They circled the ring, sizing each other up, causing the crowd to boo loudly in protest. As far as physique, the afro-latino male had him beat. The boy, on the other hand, was running on pure adrenaline.
They began with a crash, flurries of fists flying with precision. When it came to the hands, they were pretty evenly matched. The Brazilian had more reach and its advantage was starting to show, a few solid blows had swollen the boy’s left eye and bloodied his nose. I guess this guy wasn’t concerned with his ‘bitch’ having a pretty face, only caring about one part of the boy’s body being in working order. The kid was getting winded now, even though they both looked bruised and beaten, respectively. The Brazilian, getting impatient, went for the first grab, yet the boy had anticipated the move. He was able to slip from the Brazilians grip, moving to his rear. While he had the darker skinned man in such a vulnerable position, he took full advantage, placing him in a devastating choke hold. He roared an animalistic cry, as something in him mentally snapped.
He was pulled off the Brazilian before he killed him, the Brazilian slumped to the floor limp as a throw rug. The boy pulled himself to his feet, raising his arms in triumph. His premature celebration was interrupted by the emergence of one more challenger, and he was built like a brick house. He had lightly tanned olive skin, with a sleeve of tattoos on both of his arms. His hair was short and coarse, his eyes, dark and mysterious, framed an unremarkably handsome but rugged face. He stepped forward and a hush fell over the crowd, I turned to the person next to me.
“Is that ‘O Rei’?” In response, the old man looked at me like I was an idiot.
“That is ‘a Torre’, he is the fist of the king..” He snidely informed me, raising his balled fist to my face for emphasis.
I was shocked but as my eyes were brought once again to the two combatants. The one the man called ‘a Torre’ wore an antagonistic look on his face, making gestures for the boy to attack and blowing kisses. The boy let out a rage filled scream, running straight for his combatant. It would be his first and last mistake, as he received a jaw shattering blow to the face, that brought his feet up over his head. ‘A Torre’ raised his arms, claiming victory and his badly beaten prize. He beat his chest, like a damn ape. The display was truly animalistic and barbaric, the scene resembling the gorillas in the African wilderness from my time at the safari reserve. He grabbed the limp and unconscious boy by the ankle, dragging his prize towards his cell like a savage caveman. The crowd savagely erupted into a roar of approval, excited by the ruthless carnage.
*I truly am in the depths of Tartarus* I thought, fear edged its way slowly up my spine in a brisk chill, as my eyes scanned over this crowd of hellish demons.
Suddenly, my spidey senses were tingling. I felt his eyes before I met them, the coal black pools I’d seen for nights on end, in the horrors held within my dreams. They were there, on the opposite side of the ring, and this was no dream. This time the face was unmasked, but it was unmistakably the cold dark soul, one that could create many nightmares, on a whim.
As fate would have, I knew this man.. I knew that face.. I knew those eyes. A poltergeist from my past, sitting before me on what looked to be a throne of sorts.
*Did he even watch the fight, or has he been watching me this whole time?* I thought frantically, I knew I was in the midst of peril and danger, I had to hide.
I broke our tethered eyes, searching for my cell or any suitable route of escape. I saw a sign by the stairs to my left, a map hung on the wall with a layout of the bunks. It would show me the general direction of where the cells were located and I knew it was my best bet.
Tightening my grip on my bags I started to briskly walk in that direction, I made it about three steps before my head was abruptly yanked back, the person had a tight grip on my braids. I turned my head to try to identify my assailant, it was Pandora. He wrapped his arm around my neck, before he whispered cryptically in my ear.
“O que temos aqui, looks like I’ve caught the prized fish..”