Jack - Condemned Prisoner

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Victorian High Security Prison, 1888.
We get a new prisoner in, but there is more hidden information then I originally thought.

This is the first story I've ever posted or done for an actual need.



Each cell was numbered as I patrolled past them. Prisoners were either crouched in the corner or against the bars of their cells. We had a new prisoner in that day. His name was Jack Howard and he had been found proven guilty of the murder of a young female. The proof was a bloodied knife hidden under his jacket. Therefore, he has been sentenced to death.

As I patrolled by his cell, I noticed him just standing against the wall. Each cell is about 8ft by 8ft and each has a tiny shoe-sized window at the top right corner, just making enough of the cell visible to see the prisoner. Every cell was a dark grey colour and any sound echoed throughout the prison.

Each time we receive a new prisoner, it’s an excitement because the serial killer Jack the ripper is loose and we want him off our streets. But could this new prisoner be him? Being a patrol officer, I should only focus on what they are doing, but I had my suspicions about Jack.

Continuing my 2nd floor patrol, I crossed the cell of Edward Cullumn who was hung yesterday for the attempted escape from the prison after he was charged for robbery. I started to descend back to the first floor. It got more dark and damp the further you went down. The room under the first held the serial killers and psychopaths. One cell was kept clear for the Ripper. My patrol ended on the first floor, I didn’t want to go down below because there is a sense of evil down there.

Making my way back to the marshal’s office to tell him I had finished my patrol, the only sounds I could make out were the drops of water or the rattling of chains every now and again. I walked into his office. It was so much more different than the rest of the prison. The windows were stain glass giving a sense of freedom and peace in there. The marshal noticed me stepping in and picked up my patrol check sheet ready. He ticked me off indicating that I had finished my shift and sent on my way.

Back into the darkness of the prison. The patrol officers, guards and hangmen all had their meal before the prisoners. The dining hall wasn’t as full as usual; I guess it’s because I ran my shift a bit late. The hall wasn’t anything special, drier than the rest of the prison yet still as cold. The dinners had been served. After us and the prisoners had finished their dinners, I thought I would have a small talk with the prisoner before his death tomorrow in his cell.

I sat down next him. He didn’t even move his head to look at me as I said

“I am the patrol officer of this floor. You are being hung at the gallows tomorrow. Anything you would like to say that I can pass onto your family or friends?” The cell was dark and damp. All I could see was his silhouette and the space around me smelled of rotten meat. Probably rats.

Jack slowly turned his head towards me. I could see his face now. It was shown in the light reflected off a small puddle near the bars.

“I like the name Jack” He said to me at first.

“It was my dad’s name. He was a morgue attendant so over time I learnt about the human anatomy. I decided from an early age I wanted to be a doctor so I ended up going from house to house helping people. Some people I visited had a lot of money. I turned to killing. You see, the money needed was for Opium. I had a small addiction that grew over time.”

I leaned closer to him. It was dark outside now. The moonlight pierced the small bars of the window.

“I earned a nickname” He continued.

He told me ‘Jack the ripper started spreading but they never knew it was him. He left no evidence, but then one day he was caught at the scene of his 8th kill and bought here.’

His speech continued “They won’t be able to match me but I just had to let it all out. I didn’t want it to follow me to the grave”.

I was shocked at this point. He was dead tomorrow so transferring him below would be pointless. I remember what he said next, it has haunted my mind;

“I shouldn’t have done it. I have a wife and two children so could you pass a few notes onto them?” I nodded in agreement, still shocked though by my approved suspicions.

“Tell my wife Elizabeth that just because I am going, not to give up. And tell my daughter that her hopes for the future were always strong but keep them that way. And my son, tell him… tell him to follow his Grandfather, not me”. I could feel the sadness in his voice yet his expression was emotionless.

“I will tell them all you said, Jack” I replied. He sat there in the position he was the entire time. I could sense the sadness in his voice when he was speaking.

It was probably the most striking story I had heard. My wife was pregnant with our first child but yet my feelings were for his wife and children.

I rose and made my way to the gate and locked it. The metal bars were cold to the touch and slippery due to the damp air around it. Jack still didn’t move. Because of him telling me that he was Jack the ripper, I didn’t know whether to tell the Warden or leave it because he was going to be at the gallows mercy tomorrow.

The Warden’s door was in front of me. Should I tell him or not? I traced back mentally through the speech, pity got the better of me I turned and left the door. If Jack Howard was going to die, let him die in peace. That was a weird thought. A person who has brutally murdered 8 people, but in a way he was just as much a victim.

The dormitory was empty. About 3 guards normally sleep in the same room due to space restrictions. It was gone midnight by now. The moon was being covered by clouds and the only visible lights were the stars. Jack, who was dying in 6 hours time, was most likely lying down thinking back though his life. I know that’s what I would have been doing. My family came to mind, my wife is 9 months pregnant so due at any time.

What time I fell asleep is a lost memory but I remember waking up to a downpour of rain. Hail stones ricocheting off the bars at the window. The other guards awoke a bit after me. The time, from what it said on the small wooden clock next to me, was 5:45. This was the worst weather to die in. Jack walked past my room door with only a few guards behind him. The guard at the back was waking everyone that was needed. I stretched out and made my way to the small patrol. Rain, hail and a gust of wind bombarded us as the giant steel doors were unlocked. At the back of the prison was the gallows, fifteen feet at the highest point; still Jack showed no emotion. A dove was perched on top of the gallows when we got close and has to be scared away by the hangman who was already there.

A thunder echo penetrated the rain and hails shrapnel-like noise. Silently, emotionless and steadily, Jack made it up the stairs and stood facing us. Hands bound. The rain eased down and sun started penetrating the clouds. The dove was back. Just sitting there on the gallows while the cloth was covered over Jack’s face. The rope was applied and tightened. Minutes seemed to pass. The rain had come to a halt and the sun was reflecting off the drops of water around us.

A sudden pull on a leaver. A drop and then a quick snap. The dove took off. There was a cold breeze in the air, an emotionless moment. My patrol started in 20 minutes, my patrol in the dark, damp prison in central London. 1888. 

My child, I later found out, was born on the same day. A new born while another dies. What’s in store for him is for the future to decide.



23rd December 1888


Submitted: August 19, 2011

© Copyright 2022 DanNS. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Quite an interesting story. Very well thought out and well written. Awesome job! Keep up the good work, XD

Fri, August 19th, 2011 5:21pm


Wow thanks :D First comment i've got on here xD

Fri, August 19th, 2011 11:59am

Cascus Integra

I like your portrayal of the prison, I hope there will be more soon, I enjoyed the story.

Wed, August 24th, 2011 12:15am


Thankyou :)
If you mean more to come on this particular story, I am not too sure but I will surely post some of my other previous short stories i've done in the past :)

Wed, August 24th, 2011 1:35am

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