Title: A Different Prison
Disclaimer: I don't own the Buffyverse; if I did, I wouldn't be writing fanfics, now would I?
Rated: T (mature themes involving prison life)
Summary: The Watchers Council has set up an experimental prison unit for crimes that fall outside human law. This fic chronicles daily life in the unit as it happens. Inspired by the HBO series "Oz".
Feedback: would be very highly appreciated, as always.
Wakeup call is at 7 a.m. It starts when all the lights turn on at once and all the glass cell doors automatically slide open, followed by everyone stepping out of their cells so that the COs can do a head count to make sure no one got out during the night. I'm not sure why they bother; with all the mystic barriers surrounding this place, as well as the additional one that is turned on for each individual cell during lights out, it's not like anyone would be able to teleport themselves out of here, anyways.
As he steps out of the cell next to me, my cellmate Ranku, a bald, yellow-skinned demon with large ears and two horns protruding from his forehead, says good morning. I return the greeting, only to be silenced by a CO screaming, "No talking!" Ranku shrugs apologetically and rolls his eyes; I smile at this. Ranku is doing two to ten years for embezzlement.
The main unit where I and most of the prisoners reside is composed of two levels that form almost a full circle. I look out onto the main floor from my position on the second level. At the end of the near-circle is the area where the offices of the staff are. If you've ever watched that HBO series "Oz," the Emerald City unit in that show bears a surprisingly strong resemblance to ours; I wonder if any of the series' set designers did time here?
I suppose I should introduce myself before I go too much further. My name is Raymond Callison; I am a warlock who has served six years so far. I was sentenced to forty with the possibility of parole in fifteen for, as my file will say, "Four Counts of Homicide While Under the Influence of Dark Magic."
I am not the kind of person to try to dodge accountability, so I'll just come right out and say it: I'm guilty as hell. It started when I got into magic. I've heard of people being born as naturally-talented warlocks or witches; I was not one of those people. I didn't actually begin getting into it until I was in my mid teens, but oh, how good I turned out to be at it. To make a long story short, I eventually became addicted to it.
Then one night, a cousin of mine was murdered by two people. In a blind fit of rage, after obtaining a ton of books of dark magic, I absorbed as much of it as possible directly into my body, and got revenge in a brutal fashion that I will not describe right now. Problem was, I couldn't stop myself, and ended up killing two police officers as well before finally being subdued by a group of witches sent by the Watchers.
By the time I was convicted, it was known that I could never cure my addiction; I had been using magic so long that it was now a part of me. One of the requirements placed on me when I was sentenced was that I would have to attend sessions with the prison's on-staff witch in order to learn how to control my magic and use it in a positive way. I would say that the sessions were quite successful; I have not gone dark since I came here, even after the witch told me three years ago that I no longer had to come to the sessions.
After the head count is complete, I go back into my cell and change into my white kitchen uniform. Everyone here in the main unit has a job of some sort to do; some work as janitors, some work in the mailroom, a few of the luckier ones get to work in the offices of the prison staff. Ranku works in the factory making clothes. I work in the kitchen. Everyday I help cook the food in the cafeteria where the inmates from the main unit eat, and I also have a daily route where I push the food cart around and deliver the trays to the other units of the prison.
The first stop on my route is the Hole. This unit is used as temporary punishment for inmates who violate the rules. I did a couple weeks time here myself early on in my sentence. Each cell in the Hole is a large, empty, cold room with nothing in it but a bucket, a water hose attached to a faucet, a drain, and a bench. As if that isn't bad enough, inmates' clothes are taken from them before they are thrown in the hole, forcing them to sleep naked on the hard, cold floor. There are currently three inmates doing time in the Hole. I leave three trays behind for the guard there to deliver, and then move onto my next stop.
My next stop is Unit H. It is not as nice and clean as the main unit, but the rules tend to be more relaxed. This is the unit where human inmates with little or no active powers are kept, since they would otherwise be subject to persecution from inmates in my unit. There are only four inmates in this unit at the moment. Three of them, who are busy playing poker, ask me to set their trays in their cells for them. The fourth has been reading a book; he sets it down and walks over to pick up his tray. I've talked with him on occasion; he calls himself Jim. He is serving seven to ten years for arson, a human crime for which he was convicted in human courts. Normally, this would mean that he would do his time in the human prison system, but the Prison Board decided to have him transferred here to serve out his sentence when it was learned that he was a werewolf. He spends three nights in the Hole every month; anyone who knows anything about werewolves (besides what those old movies with Lon Chaney taught them, that is) can probably guess which three.
You are no doubt wondering how this prison was set up. From what I've gathered, it is part of an ongoing experiment set up by the Watchers Council. About half a century ago, they decided to set up a justice system for crimes of the supernatural sort that take place within the borders of the region where the prison now sits. Slayers do not have the amount of jurisdiction in the region that they have everywhere else in the world.
The system is intended only to punish and protect those who are believed to be capable of being good; capable of possessing a conscience, if you will. Hence, as vampires are inherently evil, they cannot be tried in this justice system, but neither are they protected by it, either. Likewise, a person will not have to face justice for slaying a vampire within the region, but will if they slay, say, a Lister demon.
In addition to punishing those who commit crimes outside human law, it also punishes those who commit human crimes but cannot be tried by the human system due to being a demon, witch, or whatnot, as the human form of law enforcement often has trouble apprehending such individuals.
Other than those who live within the region, not too many folks know about this place, even among the Watchers. Many of the watchers who did know about it were killed in the explosion at the Council five years ago.
As mentioned previously, this prison is more or less an experiment to see if a justice system could be made to work for the supernatural world. The ones who set it up wanted to see if, through punishment and rehabilitation, such a system could be more effective at reducing violence than the old system, which they saw as being no better than the days of the Wild West. I'm not sure whether the experiment has been successful or not; no such prisons have been set up in other regions, but then again, this one is still allowed to run as before, with full funding and everything. Maybe it's still too early in the experiment to be able to tell.
My final stop is Solitary Confinement. The prisoners seen as being the most dangerous are kept here. Mystic barriers surround the cells at all hours of the day, and the prisoners are only allowed out a few times a week for brief periods of time and under heavy guard in order to get exercise, shower, and wash their clothes. Each cell is surrounded by steel walls and a steel door (not even the strongest inmate would be able to punch his way through it); each contains a bed, a sink, a mirror, a toilet, and pretty much nothing else.
I always hate this part of the route. The guard there is paranoid, and refuses to hand the trays directly through the slots in the cell doors, for fear of his hand being grabbed in the process; he always makes me do it instead. I suppose I could just use magic to float the trays through the slots, but ever since my sessions, I'm rather cautious about using magic for such a mundane task. I always just slip the trays through by hand. They have tried to grab my hand a few times in the past, but after having a few sparks of electricity through their body (being a warlock certainly proves itself handy at times), they don't do it near as much nowadays.
After my shift ends, I head back to the main unit. Most of the inmates are on the main floor now, either sitting at the tables talking and playing cards or sitting in front of the large television that sits on the floor. If one looks close enough, they can see the different gangs that have been formed here in the prison.
The first is the Demons. They have a hateful attitude toward humans, and hence are the primary reason that the humans in Unit H are segregated from the rest of the prison population. Their leader is D'Zandus, a red-eyed demon whose face is blue with black stripes. His creepy smile reveals razor-sharp teeth. He is serving life without parole for the first degree murder of several humans, including two slayers.
The second gang is the Hybrids. They are generally composed of people who are part-demon and part-human. Some are more demon than human, some less. Most of them appear human, but don't let that fool you; they are often just as powerful as or even more so than the members of the Demon gang. While they understandably don't possess as much hatred toward demons or humans in general as other gangs, they still desire power and control. Their leader is Robert Callison, my half-brother. While we share the same mother, his father was a Brachen demon; he usually wears his human form except when in fighting mode. He is serving fourteen to twenty-three for multiple counts of aggravated assault; he came here two years after I did.
The third gang is the Witches. Most of them are women (hence the name), but they have some warlocks as well. While the Demons and Hybrids work in the magic trade a bit, the Witches have the majority of control over it. Even though such items are not allowed here, the Witches know how to get things such as books of magic, amulets, orbs, and many other items into the prison, whether by smuggling through the mail or bribing guards. The magic trade is their biggest source of income. The Witches are run by a husband-and-wife team, Joseph and Shelley Mendez. This Bonnie-and-Clyde couple is doing life without parole together for several counts of armed robbery, second degree murder, and abuse of dark magic.
The fourth gang did not come to exist here until after I had already been here for over a year. They are the only all-female gang in the prison. There used to be only one of their kind in the whole world, but for some reason, they started showing up everywhere about five years ago. Despite being relatively new, however, the Slayers are not to be underestimated. They believe that their superior abilities give them the right to dominate everyone, human or demon, and they are not afraid to abuse those abilities. Their leader is Ashley Patrickson, a sadistic blonde serving life with the possibility of parole in twenty for the torture and murder of a human woman, her demon husband, and their half-breed children. Apparently, she really has it in for interspecies couples. Many believe she would have easily gotten life without parole if the whole family had been human; this belief has only fueled the bitter rivalry between the Slayers and their worst enemy, the Demons. The Slayers tend to be most closely allied with the Witches, since most of the members of the latter group are human as well. While the Hybrids hate both the Slayer and the Demon gangs, they have been known to ally with both of them at different times, depending on which happens to be the current object of their wrath.
The fifth gang is known as the White Hats. They mostly consist of slayers and witches, but there are a couple of demons in there as well. This gang believes in fighting for the side of good. Their main goals include helping to maintain peace between the other gangs in the prison, and protecting other inmates when the need arises. Sadly, they can only do so much. Their leader is Alejandro Estevez, a werewolf. Unlike Jim in Unit H, Alejandro can change into his werewolf form at will, and still control himself while in this form. He is doing ten to twenty for destruction of private property.
The last gang is not so much a gang as it is just the rest of the inmates in the main unit. The prison staff members refer to them simply as the Others. Ranku and I are considered to be part of this group. Some of us hang out together, some of us are loners. Some of us are Others because we don't really fit into any of the other gangs. Most of us just want to live out our days without fear of being murdered. We don't really have a leader and we have no allies or enemies, either, although some of us silently support the White Hats, since they have been known to give a few of us protection.
Heading back to my cell, I change out of my kitchen uniform and into my workout clothes. I head to the gym, where I meet up with Marla, a Slayer who is also one of the Others. She is thin and athletic, with dark hair that comes down to her neck and a smile that is contagious. She is in her early thirties and possesses a rather androgynous appearance, mostly because of her choice of wardrobe; more than one person has mistaken her for a young boy, although she is certainly not unattractive to the eye of the straight male, either. She is doing three to ten for breaking and entering.
Marla and I play basketball in the gym for about an hour; we have jokingly agreed in the past that she will not use her slayer strength if I will not use my magic while playing. We play a few times every week. She's a fun person to be around, and my best friend, except maybe for Ranku. She was lucky in her job assignment; having worked as a secretary previously, she was selected to work as the prison psychiatrist's assistant.
After we are done playing, I go back to my cell, take off my clothes, and wrap a towel around my waist, before heading off to the shower room. When I get there, Marla is already there, standing naked under one of the numerous showerheads. In embarrassment, I apologize and tell her I'll come back and shower later.
"Don't be such a baby," she says, grinning. "It's not like you've got anything I want." Trying my hardest not to look at her (trust me, once you see Marla without clothes, you can definitely tell she's a woman), I place my towel on the bench and turn the handle. Using my hand to gauge how hot the water is, I eventually get it to a desirable temperature and step beneath the flow.
You probably find it rather strange that men and women share the same facilities in this prison. Gender isn't really as big an issue here as it is in the human world. Women are often just as capable of defending themselves as men are. Also, just because many of the inmates here are evil does not mean that they are sexist (ironically, the biggest source of sexism is probably the Slayer gang; some of them see men as nothing other than an object from which they can get a decent fuck). The line is drawn at the cell level, though; males cannot share cells with females unless approved by the warden. Currently, Joseph and Shelley Mendez (the Witch leaders) are the only couple in this arrangement, since they are married. Even they, however, are still only allowed to have sex in the conjugal rooms, although I'm sure they have found ways to violate this rule.
After we finish showering, Marla and I go to the cafeteria to grab lunch (a different shift works the cafeteria at lunchtime). Shortly after we get our trays and sit down, Ranku joins us.
"Did you see today's new inmate?" He points to the other side of the cafeteria, where we see a small, thin redhead sitting alone; she looks as though a light breeze would knock her over. "Slayer named Mallory. Got convicted after she was driving home drunk and hit a demon child. Poor kid never knew what hit him."
"God, that sucks," I say. "Bad luck on both their parts."
"Oh, shit," says Marla. "Look who's walking toward her." We look, and see that it's Ashley Patrickson and her Slayer gang. They all take seats next to Mallory, who looks up at the blonde slayer.
"And now we have another case of same story, different victim," says Ranku. "Patrickson's going to woo her with all her charm and friendly disposition, and then convince her to move into her cell. Poor girl doesn't know what she's in for with the dyke. No offense, Marla."
"None taken," replies Marla. "But you're wrong."
"You're not a lesbian?" asks Ranku in misunderstanding.
"No, I am, but Patrickson isn't; I've seen her treat male inmates similarly. She's a sexual predator, one who likes to prey on those weaker than her."
"Don't they attribute that kind of behavior to the whole 'hungry and horny' thing?" I ask.
"That's a bullshit excuse, Ray. Do you see me going around sexually assaulting people? Patrickson and her gang are able to control themselves, even when 'hungry and horny'; they just choose not to." Marla herself has had problems with the Slayers sexually threatening her, thanks in part to her boyish appearance and her sexual orientation. Fortunately, the threats ceased after she managed to make a few friends among the White Hats.
We spend the rest of the day hanging out together in the main unit, watching television and playing cards. Finally, all the inmates go back to their cells shortly before 6 p.m., as required by the prison's rules.
The cell that Ranku and I share contains, like every other cell in the unit, a bunk bed, a toilet, a sink, and a mirror. We spend the next four hours reading books that we checked out from the prison library. Then at 10 p.m., the lights go out.
I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of Ranku's rather loud snoring above me. Getting up, I wash my face in the sink and look in the mirror. Then I walk up to the glass door and look out on the prison. I can see that a few other inmates are still up as well. Across the way from me, I see Mallory (the new inmate that Ranku told me about before). She is looking at me with a pleading expression; my guess is she has now discovered Ashley Patrickson's true nature. As I watch, an arm appears from behind her and pulls her back into the shadows.
I look around the place some more, reminding myself that I will be here for at least nine more years. Then I turn and go back to bed.
Author's Note: This fic popped into my head one day as I was watching the series that inspired it. As you may be able to tell, it's a very different kind of fic. There is no big story arc or big bad villain, it is pretty much just life as it happens in the dark world that exists in the unit. It is also kind of intended to serve as a bit of a satire to highlight the flaws that exist in the U.S. prison system. I love the irony of one of the Slayers being perhaps the most evil inmate in the unit.
Hopefully, I'll be able to get another chapter out soon. I'm thinking that I may bring one or two Buffyverse characters into it.
Please, please leave feedback. I accept criticism, but try to be constructive. I would really like to know what you think.