By: Eric Burbridge
Being born and raised in this state I’ve seen the worst criminals sit in their cells awaiting execution in surroundings that half the world would envy. These individuals are the worse of the worse, the vermin who tortured, raped, dismembered in sickening ways, innocent people. The drastic reduction in the length of the appeal process bought some closure to the victim’s families. But, once proven beyond the proverbial ‘reasonable doubt,’ to hell with appeals. We will ensure psychological torment before their demise. That’s one of the good things about our trail secession from the union. We control the prison systems; we administer justice on our schedule.
Excerpts from a speech at a private fund raiser
By Governor Bartholomew Baxter, June 2034
Plaques of that speech are stamped in the walls of the state’s Super-Max prison, which I’m a resident. I’ve been writing that zealot for a long time. How about a new trial? Not rotation. Overwhelming evidence of self defense didn’t budge that fat bastard. But, he was blunt. Go fuck yourself, cop killer. That’s what they call me. My real name is Dennis Sloan and I did kill two cops, in case you thought I’d claim to be innocent. But, it was self defense.
That’s right. Those two executed my partner for a score they said was theirs. They had me on my knees, gun to the back of my head. Those idiots didn’t cuff me. They thought my execution would be easy because I’m fat. Big mistake, under estimation is for fools. I’m fast, agile and a better shot. One died on the scene, the others a week later, but I got winged and left DNA behind. And, here I am in Baxter’s baby, the place he promised. All appeals have been exhausted, so inmates die at the state’s leisure.
The governor appointed Kevin Lomax to implement his policy at the secret location. Warden Lomax an ex-military weapons expert named his high tech firing squad; rotation. I’ve never seen him in person. All the inmates see; a round pimpled face, bushy eyebrows hanging over a set of bulging crossed eyes, razor thin lips and bad teeth. A disgusting image on the 3D screen that descended level to level when he addressed the condemned. “With a face like that no wonder he hated everybody.” The guard’s words not mine.
There are three levels to death row in a 360 degree circle with twenty cells each. The prisoner is visible at all times. The guards wear hazmat suits to shield them from bodily fluids being flung. A thick steel beam extends from the ceiling to the floor. A fifty caliber mini-gun was mounted on a sliding rail assembly that rotated on a ball and socket device. Every inch of the area was covered by the gun.
I lay on my cot and stared at the ceiling. There wasn’t a square inch, a crack, an imperfection or faded color I didn’t name. The ripples in the paint are my favorite. Waves in the sea I call them, that crash on the imaginary white sand beach while I caress a bronze colored beauty. Those two cops messed that up. I hope they burn in hell!
My stomach growled on schedule, lunch is on the way. My hands still tremble no matter what I thought, ate or who I talked too.
The truth; I’m scared to death!
I imagine the smell of a charbroiled steak, baked potato and all kinds of other shit being pushed by that android meal server. But, all I smell, the stench of puke that degenerate next to me lies in. He’s been trying to starve himself ever since I been here. I’m sick of him banging on my wall. “Take him and force feed him! Stop banging on the wall, mother fu—!” The only time my hands don’t shake, banging back at that loon. Banging on metal walls felt like being inside a drum. Why can’t he get caught in rotation? I need some peace and quiet.
The freight elevator door opened and the life like female food android pushed the cart along the aisle. Two guards met the machine and examined the contents. Everybody had a name for the robot. I called her “Big Booty Trudy.” She countered with “Choke on it, cop killer.” It knew all our nicknames. She wore a wig and a short skirt. It wiggled from cell to cell pushing trays in the slots. It turned around, farted and went to the next inmate. That’s somebody’s sick idea of a joke. Some smart ass rigged it with stink gas that stunk like mad. Its favorite inmate; grill master, a short small innocent looking guy with a sick appetite. He loved to bar-b-que his victims.
Grill master, eat this. I flipped him the bird on a regular basis.
The machine slammed his plate through the slot, lifted its dress and wiggled a perfectly realistic ass in his face. He shoved his face in the bars to get a whiff. The real crazies would masturbate and shoot it out the bars. Disgusting. Whoever came up with that thing was good.
Trudy moved on. I ate my garbage and wrote that asshole in the governor’s mansion another letter. They trusted me with pen and paper, but no computer. I got replies the same way, signed not stamped. The alarm blasted; lights flashed on and off four times.
Dead silence, and everybody gripped their cell bars. Whose next? A huge 3D screen descended on the center rail and stopped on our level. Baxter’s famous speech played at ear shattering decibels. The screen went blank and shot skyward into its protective shroud. Death row hollered and screamed obscenities when the mini-gun dropped down the rail. It bounced at the bottom and stopped on level three, spun and stopped. Four black barrels rotated, but the ammo belt froze. For this rotation Warden Lomax decided to play his sick version of Russian roulette. It went past each cell. Inmates ducked behind mattresses. What a waste of time. The gun sprays bullets until the job’s done, but they couldn’t penetrate the walls. They dented it, but that’s all. The ricochets went across the aisle striking the cell doors. If anybody got hit accidently, so what.
The gun spun again; it slowed and stopped in front of me. Lomax shouted, “Kiss your ass good bye, Sloan.” I clutched the bars, held my breath and waited for the first shots. The one that wounded you, the most painful and after you scream in agony for a minute, the rest splatter you into mush. Click…click. My heart stopped, sweat oozed out of my pores, I trembled and slid to the floor. “Ha, ha, you live to piss in your pants another day, cop killer.” Lomax said, with a sadistic calm voice. More jeers followed from the condemned; tears rolled down my cheeks. The gun swung around and fired across the atrium at the grill master. He grabbed his crouch and screamed. The agonizing blood curdling cry went through me like a spear. He lay on all fours begging for mercy. He bragged how his victims did the same. I almost felt for that degenerate when the weapon’s belt was empty. His skull was disintegrated. The bullets ripped his arms out of their sockets, bounced off the walls and left abstract blood patterns. His remains squirmed and withered. If you believe in the soul it struggled like hell to get out of that mess. Voices shouted, “Say a prayer somebody…say a prayer.” All I heard; silence. I concentrated to stop shaking and flopped on my bed. I lucked out.
Lomax loved this shit.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he came on himself.
I stared at the floor plan of my imaginary house I designed on the ceiling. I filtered out the banging on the wall when I heard footsteps. Guards. I closed my eyes when they stopped in front. Three people in hazmat suits stood behind Warden Lomax. The little sadist didn’t wear protection. He thought he looked good in his blue pinstriped with a white handkerchief in his pocket and a red flower in his lapel. Like he dared inmates to throw shit at him. Anybody who did disappeared. They say it was worse than rotation. Arrogant SOB. “Cop killer! Get up.” Come closer so I can grab your collar. I’ll dislocate my trick shoulder, but it’ll be worth it. That will guarantee my demise next rotation, but what the fuck.
Cross the yellow line, Lomax, cross it. He didn’t budge.
“What?” I knew what was next.
“Stand up or get stood up, asshole.”
I heard the guards drag the high pressure hoses. I shot off the cot; that water hurt like hell. “Get to the point warden, I’m busy.”
“Going somewhere?” He sat an envelope between the bars. Strange, Lomax never delivered mail. “That’s from the governor. You know you guys should clean up around here. It smells bad.” He laughed and left.
For three days, grill master’s remains stunk up death row. And, after two I stopped the dry heaves. I opened the governor’s letter and expected the usual reply.
Dear Cop Killer,
Go fuck yourself. And, after you finish that read this. The evidence against you is being reviewed. However, you’re still in the rotation lottery. Lucky you!!!
Governor Bartholomew Baxter.
Thanks, governor. What would my disbarred lawyer think about that? Next phone call I get I’ll tell him, look what I did without you. He might be too drunk to care or understand.
The guards had a pool going for the next rotation. Two months pasted then three. That’s scary, what was up? Maybe Baxter died. I shouldn’t think like that about a guy who could get me out of here. The loon next door stopped banging; he says he’s ready to go. I’m not, but my hands still tremble.
“Get up, cop killer!” Lomax tossed a bag through the bars. “Gather your shit and hurry up.”
“You heard me, let’s go.” The bars retracted and the three stooges stepped in with the shackles. I dumped my stuff in the duffle bag and out we went. “Say good bye to your friends, asshole, you’re off rotation.”
I hobbled past the cheers and jeers with tears rolling down my cheeks. Off rotation, am I dreaming or what? The guards surrounded blocking the shit and trash. Pressurized doors opened into a decontamination corridor. I got a hot shower, a clean jumpsuit and through several more doors to a system of cells arranged like rotation branch, but no gun rail in the middle.
It didn’t stink as bad either.
We stopped; they signaled to open the door, removed the shackles and shoved me into my new home. It smelled like fresh paint. Well, at least the walls weren’t steel. The view sucked, but my hands stopped trembling. Lomax came and shoved an envelope in the slot. “Read it, cop killer and before I forget, welcome to the other death row.” That studderish laugh faded away from the steel door’s small opening. Good, go mess with somebody else.
I opened the envelope. A reprieve! Of course, not. “Go fuck yourself again, be thankful you’re off rotation. They found out after all this time those cops were dirty, but you still killed them with no regrets. Now you get a more merciful death.” My fan mail stopped and when mom died I knew it was a matter of time. I wrote Baxter, “Tell those cops families, they got what they deserved.” That’ll add to their joy when they wheel me into the room for my hotshot.
The big day is here! The death squad stood outside my cage with somber looks on their faces. Why? They taunted me for years. Assholes. Lomax smiled. “Lomax, anybody tell you how bad your breath smells you fat fuck?” He put his hand on my shoulder and wiggled the leather strap.
“It’ll be over before you know it, Sloan.”
“Sloan! What happened to cop killer?” No answer. The death sleigh stopped at the elevator. Father Gomez asked did I want last rites, whatever that is. “No Father, what good will it do?”
“Your soul is eternal,” he said.
“OK, it’s your job.” He rubbed oil on my forehead. I heard the squeaky wheels of the stretcher fade and calm came over me. A sharp pain hit my heart, it slowed and slowed.
Everybody has weird dreams, but not like death row dreams. I gazed up at Lomax, Gomez and the doctor. They looked puzzled, they were in disbelief. I laughed, but they couldn’t hear me, nobody could. The doctor laid his scope on my chest and neck.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m gone.
It will be interesting to see if Lomax will execute a dead man for the audience.