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The Prison

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Abandoned
It is a prison with no escape, even death doesn't free you from this place.

Set in the Kitten and Mutt universe.

Submitted: July 26, 2019

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Submitted: July 26, 2019

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The sun slowly came over the horizon shedding light on a pair of figures crossing a flat empty plain of hard-packed dirt.  The figure in front that of a young girl trudge along throwing terrified glances back over her shoulder at the figure behind her.  The second figure a tall lean man with wild white hair and beard walked along casually like on a leisurely stroll and only the look in his eyes gave a hint to his murderous intent.

Hours passed as this surreal chase continued and the sun climbed higher in the sky.  The girl’s naked flesh already burned began to blister and the heat slowly sapped what little moister her tiny frame still contained.  Her legs began to weaken and only the knowledge that to fall was to end up in the hands of this madman kept her going.

The man sipped from a canteen as he followed his mind blank of everything but revenge, if not on the one that had condemned him to this hell then on his kin.  He didn’t hurry he didn’t need to, there was no escape from this place.  He played with ways in which he would make this girl pay for her father’s crimes as he walked his eyes never leaving her back.

With a stumble, the girl fell, her arms to weakened by dehydration to catch her.  Her face slammed into the ground and her nose began to bleed.  Her tongue licked the blood as she tried to pull her body along.  Her mind screamed at her to just give up that all hope was gone, but her body refused to.

Stepping over her body he looked down at her.  He grabbed her long raven locks and dragged her limp form up to hoist it over his shoulder.  He turned and walked off humming softly as images of what he would do played through his mind.

 

***

 

Ying Yue slipped out the heavy metal door set in the shadows of the alley, her youthful Chinese features hiding by a deep hood that she kept drawn up as she searched the alley for any sign of somebody watching.  Once she was sure nobody was there she stepped out of the shadows moving towards the mouth of the alley.  She could hear the scuttling of rats in the darkness causing her to quicken her step out of fear.  She paused at the mouth of the alley again to search the street for somebody who may be watching the alley, but she saw no one.  Stepping out she turned down the sidewalk and hurried along the street trying to blend in with the others on it late at night.

Two blocks from the building she had exited she turned into another and wound her through a trash laden hallway to the backdoor.  Stepping out into a courtyard she hurried across the cracked pavement to a door and knocked.  The door came open a crack and a scared face appeared.

“Go away kid we don’t want anything.”

“I’m not selling anything.  I’m here to see Jack Thimble.”  Ying Yue forced herself to maintain eye contact with the scarred face man.

“I don’t know any Jack Thimble so get out of here kid.”  The scared face man started to close the door.

“I was told he would be here until 8:00.”

“There is your problem kid, it isn’t 6:00 yet.”

“Then I’ll come back in three hours.”

The smile on the scarred face didn’t improve it any as the man opens the door a little wider to let her slip in.  “You best hurry kid the meeting is already started.”

She nodded and ran down the stairs to the basement.  The room was packed with most of the local resistance in attendance.  The leaders were going over the plan for tomorrows action to disrupt a new Elven Consortium hospital.  She forced her way forward until she was at the front of the crowd.  Dylvan saw her and signaled her to move off to the side and he moved to join her.

“What is the word from the high lady?”

“She said they know about your plans for tomorrow.  They plan to let you move in and trap you all inside.”

“How could they know?”

“She didn’t say, but she said that you need to cancel the attack and go to ground.”

“She knows we can’t do that.  Those point eared bastards are harvesting us and the President is backing them.  We have to stop them from open…”

An explosion upstairs brought the talking to a stop.  Dylvan pointed at one of the guards and signaled him to go check it out.  As the guard went upstairs white-knuckled fists pulled guns from under rags and the resistance prepared to fight.

“There is a trap door in the back.  It will drop you into the sewers.  Head north and you will get out.”  Dylvan told her before moving to rejoin the other leaders.

Ying Yue glanced around.  If it was a raid everybody in the room would soon be dead or captured.  Taking the escape route would save her and the fact that nobody knew who she was would keep her safe, but she didn’t feel right running.  She moved towards the trapdoor but hesitated until she heard a gun shoot from upstairs.

The smell of raw sewage made her gag as she dropped into the sewer.  Her internal GPS allowed her to find the tunnel headed north and she began to follow it as a barrage of gunshots could be heard just above her head.

 

The sewer let her out miles from the resistance safe house on the very edge of the slums.  She stood there looking out on the badlands for a few minutes wondering if anybody else had escaped.  She considered staying to find out, but it was too dangerous, so she trudged up the embankment and headed back into the slums.

Her feet ached from walking as she neared the cheap motel she had rented a room in earlier.  She stopped across the street and watched it for a few minutes.  She didn’t think there was any way for even The Black Guard to be looking for her here, but she hadn’t survived in the resistance for fifty-nine years without being cautious.  Once she was satisfied it looked safe she crossed the street and headed for her room.

The door swung open and she saw the body of an old woman hooked to a portable life support unit was on the bed.  She smiled and moved into the room not noticing the shadow coming up behind her quickly.  The stun rod struck her in the back and her body went rigid as the caused every nerve in her body to flare with pain.  As the rod was pulled away from her back she collapsed onto her hands and knees gasping.  The shadowy figure jammed the rod into her back and her eyes rolled up into her head as she passed out.

 

***

 

She slowly came awake with her face pressed against the cold metal floor of a dark cell.  Her muscled jerked from the after-effects of a stun rod and ached from the cold making getting to her feet an effort even in the youthful body they had left her in.  She paced the dimensions off before sitting in the ray of light that was let into the room from a slot in the door.

She wasn’t worried she had taken precautions encased this had happened.  If a contractor didn’t hear from her in a week he would find people to find and extract her.  She wasn’t worried he would double-cross her, groundsiders had honor, it was those in the towers that seem to lack it.  The higher people climbed the less honor they seem to have, her own father was a great example of that. 

Her father had once had honor back at the time of The Crossing.  With the appearances of the other races, humans had gone into a panic and many of the leaders of the planets of known space had rushed to prepare for war, but her father hadn’t.  He had tried to talk to the leaders of these new races.  It was through his efforts that war was averted.  That was the first step on the road that saw him elected as the President of the Human Coalition.  Once he held that office he had changed and soon became a dictator.

She drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them shivering.  They had taken her hooded coat and shoes before throwing her into the cell and the metal seems to draw the heat from her body.  As her shivers grew worse she stood and began to pace trying to warm herself up.  Back and forth she moved, counting the steps to distract herself for the cold when a metal tray was slapped down on the shelf attached to the outside the slot on her door.

She rushed over and pulled the tray in.  A bottle of water and a half of loaf of bread was the only things on the tray.  She picked up the bread as her stomach growled, but she saw small insects burrowing into it and dropped it back on the tray.  She took the water and put the tray back, she wasn’t hungry enough yet to try and eat the bread, she knew she would have to, but just not yet.

 

Days passed, her pacing the hours away until she collapsed into a dreamless sleep only to wake colder than before.  She began to fear that she would die before rescue came, but she fought down this fear and reminded herself that this body was young and healthy, so survival would be easier in it.  Her hunger won out on the third day and she gagged down the bread only to throw it back up hours later.  By the fifth day, she was able to keep the bread down.

The day her contractor would start looking for runners to rescue her came and she knew it was only a matter of days, maybe a month before she was saved.  She was sitting in the shaft of light rocking back and forth when the door opened flooding the room with bright light.  She came to her feet as two guards came in.

“What is going on?”  She knew it was too soon for rescue.

The two figures that entered had their features hidden behind mirrored visors of full-face helmets and wore the standard black uniform of a Black Guard.  This was the conformation of what she already guessed, she was being held at a secret Black Guard detention center.

The larger of the two guards backhanded her.  “The prisoner will remain quiet.”

Ying Yue bent her head forward as if defeated and let the blood from the split lip fall to the floor.  The guards grabbed her arms and dragged her from the room.  She went limp and allowed them to drag her.  If she resisted she could be injured or killed so she would offer on resistance and wait.

She looked around as she was dragged through the halls.  The dull metal walls were only broken for the closed doors of more cells.  The only sound she could hear was the footsteps of the guards making her wonder if she was the only prisoner here, where ever here was.  They soon came to a room with a chair bolted to the center of the floor and a bright spotlight shining down on it.  They pushed her into the chair and metal clamps snapped shut pinning her wrists and ankles, trapping her in it.

She felt the panic begin to rise in her.  It was possible they would torture her, and it scared her, not because of the pain but because she knew that sooner later they would make her talk.  She wasn’t ready to die, but she would rather that then to betray the resistance.  She let her chin sag to her chest and her eyes drift shut, she had no idea what was going to happen so she would rest and not worry about it.

 

A slap woke her and as her eyes opened she thought her father was there, but it was only a holographic projection of him.  He looked to be in his mid-thirties with coal-black hair, dressed in a navy-blue suit.  He was smiling, one of those smiles he practiced in the mirror to get it just right, the kind of smile that spoke volumes.  This one said how sad he was about what he was about to do, but it had to be done.

“Ying Yue, you were my favorite child.  I will never be able to forgive you for what you tried to do.”

“I don’t want your forgiveness.  I was trying to do what was right and just.”

“You turned on me your own father and your family.  How can that be right or just?”

“You are not my father, you may have his memories and his personality, but my father was replaced by just another cloned body and you were inserted into it.  Somewhere along the line my father’s mind and personality became corrupted and you are the result of that.”

“I didn’t become corrupt, I woke up to reality, to the truth that humans need to be controlled.  They are dangerous and violent creatures that need to be kept in line.”

“You are human also, a clone, but still human.”

“I’m a God which would have made you a demigod and if you hadn’t turned against me someday you might have been allowed to sit at my right hand, but now I must dispose of you.”

“So, you will kill your own daughter, no you won’t you would never get blood on your own hands, would you.  You will order one of these men to do it.”

“No, I will not have you killed, you will be put someplace you will never be able to cause me harm, again.”

“Someday you will be pulled down and shown you are nothing but a man I hope that I live long enough to see that.”

“I am a God and nobody and nothing will ever change that, but you can spend eternity hoping for that.”  He gave a slight nod.

A blind white light filled her mind as it felt like her body was being torn apart down to the molecule level.  She wanted to scream, but she couldn’t feel her body and then nothing, but blackness surrounded her.

 

***

 

The wind rushing past her caused her to come around, but the sight that greeted her made her mind want to shut down again.  The ground far below was rushing up to meet her as she fell towards it.  She was going to die, and her mind fought to make sense of this.

Some part of her refused to give up even in a hopeless situation and it forced her to look around.  She was far up and could see so much, but there was little to see.  A large featureless plain surrounded by mountains.  No vegetation in sight, no water, no shelter, nothing but the plain and the mountains.

She felt her body begin to slow and she had to wonder why and how.  She hit the ground no harder then she would have rolling out of bed.  She laid there trying to slow her racing heart and gather her wits.  She was naked and the sand beneath her burned her flesh until she was forced to roll over and sit up.  She still hoped to be rescued somehow and had to survive until that happened.  Her mind went into survival mode and she began to think about what she would need to do that, food, water, shelter and clothes.

Struggling to her feet she had seen nothing in the plain that would help her, so the mountains were her only option.  She tapped her temple and tried to call up her compass implant, but it didn’t activate.  She tried to call up any of her implants and found them all offline.  The guards must have deactivated them while she was unconscious.

Picking a random direction, she began to walk across the burning sand of this desert.  Humans had survived before technology, so she would have to just learn to do that again.The first thing was to locate water before the sun above caused her to become too dehydrated to continue.  The sun above burned her flesh and the sand below made the hike slow and painful as it scolded her bare feet.

Shimmering waves of heat rose off the sand and she was beginning to feel the lack of water when she thought she saw a figure ahead of her.  She tried to cry out to it, but her throat was too dry and all that came out was a soft croaking sound.  She quickened her pace, but that only speed up the slow deterioration of her body, so she just stumbled forward hoping the figure would look back and see her.

The sun reached its highest point beating straight down on her when she felt her legs finally give out.  The ground came rushing up to meet her as the blackness engulfed her.

 

She was cold like in the cell, but she wasn’t laying on metal, but something that shifted under her as she moved.  Slowly she opened her eyes and found herself staring up into a night sky with three moons overhead.  This confirmed her worse fear, she had been taken off Earth and deposited on some planet in known space.  This would make rescue hard, but she was sure that given time it would happen.

Turning her head, she saw a wild white-haired man with a bushy beard sitting by a fire nearby.  He looked to be dressed in a long white robe and had a large satchel sitting beside him.  He looked up and smiled.

“Ah, you have finally woken up.  Here drink but take it slow or you will just make yourself sick.”  He tossed a canteen over to her

Her body ached all over and moving to get the canteen pushed a gasp of pain between her lips.  She forced herself to only sip a little from the canteen before she recapped it.  There was something about the man, he just didn’t seem right.

“Thank you.”

“You are lucky I was in the area or you would have suffered worse.  Come over to the fire and warm up, we have only a few hours of night left.”

She moved to the fire but kept it between her and the man when she sat down.  There was some small lizard on a stick cooking over the fire and the smell of it made her mouth water.

“Go ahead and eat it but take it slow.”

She pulled the cooked lizard to her and tore a small piece of meat from it.  “What planet are we on?”

“Earth.”

Pinching the meat between her fingers she nibbled a small bit then pointed up at the three moons.

The man chuckled.  “We are on earth locked into a simulation.”

“If we are in a simulation then all we have to do is figure out the exit command to escape.”

“Escape back to what?  My body is surely gone by now and yours would probably be destroyed too.  You see they did a full consciousness transfer to this, you are here completely.”

“That is…that is…”  She couldn’t even begin to think about how wrong it was morally, ethically and legally.  The original deckers would do that, but in time hundreds of copies of their consciousness were spread across the whole of cyberspace.  The copies were like viruses crashing systems and destroying data until safeguards were put in place to stop any new copies from being made.  In time all the rogue copies were hunted down and deleted.

“No matter how far my father has gone he would never have done this to me.”

“Your father, who is he?”

“Albert Cummings Wentworth Huntington the third President of the Human Coalition.”

The man’s face changed, anger and rage written across it.  “He not only did it, but he has this system coded to keep us alive.  You can die, but the system just brings you back, imagine dying hundreds of times only to experience your body coming back, it is worse than the death in the first place.”

Ying Yue slid backwards away from the fire and the man.  The man sat there watching her, his body perfectly still like a cat ready to pounce.  She struggled to her feet still holding the canteen and turned to run into the darkness.  Her only thought was to escape into the darkness and lose him somehow.

The man rose slowly putting the strap of his satchel over his shoulder and followed the girl.  The fire disappeared behind him and soon the light of the three moons was all that showed him the trail he followed.  He walked with a slow steady pace knowing she had nowhere to go, no escape from his revenge.

All through the night, he followed her footsteps seeing how they changed from those of a person running to the stride of a person walking quickly.  He never altered his pace as he followed his tongue running over his lips.  He pulled a knife and played with it as he followed his mind already working on ways he would make the girl scream.

 

***

 

Ying Yue came awake staked out on the sand as the sun rose overhead.  Her flesh had begun to blister from being exposed to the relentless rays of the sun for two days.  She groaned in pain as she turned her head and saw the man sitting nearby under a piece of canvas set up to keep the sun off him.

“I realized I never introduced myself, I’m Billy Ray Hicks.”

She knew she should know that name, but she couldn’t place it.

“I spent a hundred years on here alone when they first put me here.  A hundred years with no one to talk to.  I think I may have gone a little insane during them hundred years.”

“I had nothing to do with that why would you do this to me when you must realize my father put me here also.”

“Why, why not?  The first time I was insane so you have to understand I can’t be really blamed for that one, but after that I realized I enjoyed it.”

“There are others here?”

“They are around, but they aren’t going to come to your rescue, they avoid me when they can since they are no match for me.”  She watched as a glass of water formed in his hand and he took a drink before making it disappear.

“How do you do that?”

He laughs, “that is my secret.  Nobody else has been able to learn to do it.”

She turned her head the other direction and tried to not think what was going to happen.  It didn’t take long for the pain to start, pain so intense that it blocked out everything else.  Her internal organs were slowly cooked as she laid there screaming in pain.  She struggled as much as she could, but she was staked out tightly and the sun sapped her strength as it cooked her.

 

***

 

Ying Yue screamed as life returned to her body, she should have grown use to that sensation after the hundreds or maybe it was thousands of times Hicks had killed her.  He delighted in finding new and painful ways to do it.  Killing her was only one of the many games he enjoyed playing and they were all sick.

Hicks had spoken the truth all those years ago, the system was designed to keep them alive, not sane, not rational only alive.  Even worse was Hicks had somehow learned to control the system, not completely, but even the limited control he had was enough to make him a God here.  He was able to even twist her body, remaking it to fulfill his own sick desires, it didn’t last, but each time nearly drove her insane.

As her limbs regrow, she sat up and looked around.  Hicks wasn’t in the cave, but that didn’t mean anything.He would find her when he wanted to play again.  He could find anybody which he had proven time and time again.  To him, it was like a game of hide and seek only he cheated.

Raising her hand, she tried to make a glass of water appear in it.  She knew there was a trick, some way to cause the system to take commands and it was only a matter of finding it.  Finally giving up, for now, she got up and found the water and food Hicks had left her.  He had starved her a dozen times but lost interest in that game quickly.

After eating she walked to the mouth of the cave and looked out on the desert.  Hicks hadn’t left anything to carry water in, so she had to risk dehydration or wait for his return.  Looking up at the sun she saw it was early afternoon.  If he didn’t return before dark she would leave, it wasn’t really an escape there was no escape from him.

 

***

 

As the sunset, she left the cave and followed the edge of the mountains.  She had no idea where she was going only that it was away from Hicks and his insanity.  The three moons made it easy to travel at night and as long as she kept moving the cold wasn’t that bad.

As the sun began to rise, she looked for someplace to rest.  A cave would be ideal, but an overhang would work even anything that kept the sun off her.  A small overhang was all she could find so she curled up and tried not to think about her thirst as she laid there.  The day seemed to stretch on forever as her thirst grow stronger and stronger.

Jerking awake Ying Yue realized she was laying in a small pool of water.  It was only a few inches deep, but it was clean cool water.  She slowly sipped a little and tried to figure out where it had come from.  There was no spring, no water trickling down from above, it was as if it just appeared.  She wanted to stay there, but she had to move, had to try to keep going.

By the third day, she had realized she was making the water in her sleep.  Somehow her sleeping mind was able to control the system, not on the scale of Hicks, but still enough to keep her alive.  It took her another week to learn to control her sleeping mind enough to produce things she needed.  Clothes and a canteen were lying next to her when she woke for her nightly trek and she laughed.  Wearing clothes felt weird after years of being naked, but they helped to keep her warm at night and afforded her a little protection from the harsh sun.

 

***

 

A simple dirt path ran up into the mountains, it was the first sign that there might be a way through the mountains.  It was a hard climb, but she pushed on fighting the exhaustion and hunger as she made the climb.  Twisting an turning the path ran ever upward until she reached the summit of a pass and looked down on a lush green valley below.  It was a paradise or at least it appeared as such to her as she ran down the trail towards the trees.

She reached the trees and was standing staring up at them when a sound made her look back.  Hicks was standing there smiling.

“I found you.  Now it is time for you to scream for me.  What shall I do this time?”  He moved towards her producing a knife out of thin air.

Ying screamed, “stay back.”  She thrust her hands at him and she felt the world shift for just a second.

Hicks was hit by something and flung back against a tree.  “No!  That is my power you can’t have it.”

Ying had no idea how she was doing it, but she felt the world around her.  She could sense the code that made it up and she could see how to alter it.  She reached out and made the tree pull Hicks into it.  He screamed like a wild animal as he was slowly absorbed by the tree.  He fought her, trying to reverse what she was doing, but she let her anger and hatred for him fuel her giving her the strength to trap him in the tree. 


© Copyright 2020 Ian D. Mooby. All rights reserved.

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