Disclaimer: I don't own Superjail.
Law of Averages: the principle that supposes most future events are likely to balance any past deviation from a presumed average.
"You know Sir, I can't really remember how I die anymore..." were Jared's last words before falling to his death thirteen stories below.
Now granted, the statement was a tad on the uninspired side and would definitely not have made it into the Big Superjail! Book of 100 Greatest Last Words, but as Jared was often a very uninspired man, it was to be expected. More over, the statement took the shock value out of death, and as nobody likes a spoil sport, it could not even be considered for the the Bigger Superjail! Book of 1000 Greatest Last Words. It seemed destined that Jared's tombstone would have an equally uninspired epitaph, something that would probably resemble ЯIP because the prisoner who worked on it couldn't spell or because the prisoner who worked on it knew some Russian but unfortunately couldn't spell either.
All in all, as far as last words go, they were average at best.
But average suited Jared. That very day had seen him dreaming about taking the average of a group of numbers.
A curious looking 5 bounced to the lower right of his dream, while a square root asked a particularly curvy 88 to dance with it. On the left an isosceles triangle was square dancing and about to knock the cocktail from a perfectly balanced theta, effectively making it a zero with a slash in it to differentiate from the O equals 2p minus 15 over 42. This O, of course, had nothing to do with the plucky x and sine x to the second power which were doing unspeakable things to the absolute value of y while an f' tried to differentiate the two trouble makers. All the while a lone sigma was trying to group all these symbols together in the hopes of making sense of them all, but with little success.
Something about that sigma, that little Greek letter that could, made Jared reason with himself that it was all just a dream and any minute now he would wake up to an incarcerated wonderland filled with death traps galore.
Which is exactly what he did, pouring himself a rather average cup of coffee and eating a 100 calorie low-sodium slightly stale English muffin. He then dressed in one of his many business suits with a color so average that it had never once faded in the wash, being of the maximum faded quality when he had bought it. And with that he took a deep breath, marked off a day on his 'days sober' calender and headed out the door.
The average-ness seemed to follow him down the halls and to what looked like a typical day at Superjail, which is to say, a very atypical day at Superjail. Nothing seemed to be going on, but Jared bet all the unpunctured veins on his right arm (he was sure there was no vein on his left where a syringe hadn't been at one point) that something would be happening, and very shortly.
And it looked like he was right.
"Jared! Get over here. You have to come see this." His boss's voice came from across an intercom, or at least Jared thought it was an intercom, it could have been a hovering tv set or maybe he had found a way to make himself invisible.
"Right on it, Sir." He uttered while nervously stacking his the papers he had been working on from one side of the desk to the other.
It wasn't too long before Jared found himself in the Warden's office, Warden himself tinkering with a machine that could have done any number of things, but from Jared's guess, probably was in some way related to incarceration, stealing Alice's panties, shooting rainbow-colored projectiles, or any combination of the above.
"What do you think, Jared? Isn't it magnificent?" Warden asked, looking lovingly at the machine and then back to him.
"It's... very nice, Sir. But what does it do?"
"Oh Jared. You're always so obsessed with the inner-workings. When have you ever really given something a good looking over?" By this time the Warden's eyes were literally glued to the contraption, protruding five or six inches from his eye sockets. "You'll never see the beauty of something if you focus on all the minor details."
"Y-yes, Sir, I know. But what does it do?" Jared asked again.
Warden sighed. "Well if you must know it shows you the last five seconds of a person's life. Now come over here, I have it set to your death."
Jared easily made the five feet across the room to Warden before exclaiming, "My what?"
"What are you freaking out about?"
"I don't want to see my own death!"
"What are you not getting Jared? You don't see your actual death. You see the last five seconds before your death."
"B-but Sir if I see my own death I'll know when it's coming and I'll-"
"Once again Jared. You're not going to actually see your own death, just the last five seconds before it. Pfft. Seeing your own death would be crazy and would probably drive you paranoid, not that you're already paranoid over Every. Little. Thing."
The words weren't just Jared's imagination. They actually appeared as word bubble above Warden's head as he said them, periods and upper case included.
He waited until the bubbles disappeared into ether before making his next argument.
"But Sir, you can't expect me to actually want to see it. I mean... that's..."
"C'mon. Everything will be alright. You just look through this little thing here and, well, you... you know what? It's much better if you see for yourself." And before Jared knew what was happening his face was pushed against the eye piece as the machine showed him the last five seconds of his life.
"See that wasn't so bad was it?" Warden asked, six seconds later.
Jared frowned. He had known that he would be doing a lot of cruel and unusual things in his line of work and would have a lot of cruel and unusual things done to him.
"No, it wasn't so bad afterall." And that was exactly what made it so bad in the first place. His death, or at least the last five seconds before his life was over, seemed exceedingly average to him.
For the rest of that morning Jared watched the Warden tinker with his new toy as he arranged stacks of files and tried to figure out a way to keep the vegetable garden in the budget. To say he was in a state of depression would be to say that Alice hadn't kicked any ass that morning, and as the Warden's Alice Cam had clearly shown her kicking at least fourteen asses in the last half hour, the assumption would be a gross understatement.
But depression wasn't anything new to Jared. He had been to various therapy sessions and seminars for it. He had even been addicted to depression pills at one point. Depression was a piece of cake to him this far down the road. The impending dread of his actual, death however was more like the piece of cake on top of the fried potato chip and roast beef sundae with fries and an extra large bacon martini on the side. It was just too much.
Jared felt uneasy. But there wasn't much he could do about it (actually he couldn't do anything about it) except crunch numbers and bide time until lunch.
And lunch turned out to be fairly average too, though he was sure the eyeballs in his soup were looking at him, though he had specifically asked for the vegetarian alternative.
"What's got you so down buddy?" Warden asked, poking lovingly at what Jared could only assume was a pickle incased in green jello.
Jared sighed, a miserable, pitiful sigh that seemed to deflate his head to the point where it was dangerously close to taking a dip in the eyeball soup.
"Jeez Jared. If you put it that way I'm better off not knowing why."
Something snapped. Jared wasn't quite sure what it was, but he could heard a cracking in his ears and a little voice inside his head fumed, "Why? I'll tell you why! Now that I know what my own death looks like it makes my entire life useless. Pointless! Do you know what that means? I can't even think straight! Do you know how hard it is to balance a budget when you're distracted by it every other moment. No wait, you don't! Because I'm the one doing all the hard work around here."
In his head Jared saw himself standing on the table and being face level with the Warden while he blew off enough steam to power Superjail for a week. However, in reality, he was merely hyperventilating.
"It's just... seeing my own death... Sir... has sort of... put me on edge... a little."
"Oh that? That's nothing to be afraid of." Warden said nonchalantly. "Everybody dies. Just the fact that life is so temporary makes it so beautiful and mysterious." Jared was sure he saw rainbows and glitter and a host of other unusual things sprouting from the Warden's gloves, though it might have been a lingering effect from his drug years. "Why, even your sad pathetic life is made wonderful by the fact that it'll end one day."
Jared didn't know how to respond. Only with the Warden could he feel so insulted and complimented all at once, though mostly insulted.
"Just take a look Jared. Oh Jailbot!"
The ceiling crashed above them. It would have been better if Jared had actually boarded the Jailbot-powered vehicle properly, instead of hanging on by his fingertips as it took a tour of the jail. Though Jared had to admit, the view was nice and the carnage was unmatched.
Jared liked numbers. Numbers made sense. They were impartial in the way that overworked judges, underpaid attorneys and court sentences were not. Numbers didn't care if you were a drug addled alcoholic or the King of Spain. Their only purpose was to explain the inner workings of the universe, and even on the off chance that something didn't add up somewhere, Jared took comfort in the fact that there was always another variable to be discovered just around the bend.
Not so with Superjail. There were many things that didn't add up with Superjail, things that Jared saw out of the corner of his eye that made him consider checking himself into a clinic (he had a closet full of rehab brochures). Jared wasn't even sure how the jail managed to exist in a volcano and not exceed a temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit if burn inmate wasn't playing with his matches.
But maybe there was a reason for it all, the same reason why one prisoner had taken a screwdriver to his cellmate's stomach, effectively disemboweling him.
"Jared," Warden said in a voice that might have ordered a calvary charge in another century, "See to it we enhance our shop class. I mean, I like their enthusiasm and all, but I'm just not sure if they're getting the point."
Jared jotted this down, along with the twenty-one or other odd notes he would have to decipher later.
"Ah, this is refreshing." Warden said. "Getting out of the office. Sometimes all you need is a breath of fresh air."
"Yes Sir." His voice came out surprisingly monotone and flat, even flatter than usual. And he knew, if there was one thing the Warden hated it was flatness.
"Don't tell me you're still down about this morning. I'll have you know that Alice saw the last five seconds of her life too and didn't even bat an eyelash. Or at least something like that, her glasses are really too dark to tell."
"Is someone talking about me?" And it was another mystery of the universe that they happened to run into Alice at that exact moment. She was on her rounds, if her rounds included taking polaroids of the prisoners in bondage gear. "Oh, I think this one's a keeper." She smiled, holding the photo to the light.
"Alice! Fancy meeting you here. I was just explaining to Jared that he shouldn't freak out about seeing the last five seconds of his life. Won't you explain it to him?"
"Alice, don't tell me you're comfortable with seeing something like that?"
"Looked pretty sweet." She answered gruffly. "But yeah, you shouldn't be upset over it, little man. Unless your death was incredibly lame, then maybe you should. I would."
And Jared wasn't sure if Alice had intended to, but she hit the figurative nail on the very large and droopy head.
"Well that was enlightening." Warden threw his arms into the air. "Now we'll let you get back to your work." Jailbot zoomed past her, but not before Jared heard Alice say, "Get back in line boys!"
After they had moved some distance away, much to Jared's relief, Warden turned to him and said, "See! Nothing to worry about."
Jared wanted to believe that was true. He'd give anything to have the Warden's state of mind, happy wonderful thoughts spewing and sloshing around with no regards to physics or gravity (at controlled intervals of course, he'd go crazy if he had to live out the rest of his days like that), but Jared only sighed and said, "Okay Sir."
Jared spent the rest of the day holed up in his office. Not only had he needed to cut the vegetable garden from the budget, again, but it looked like eye ball soup would have to be a permanent menu item for at least the next two weeks. And he still wasn't sure how he was going to replace the hole in the cafeteria's ceiling that Jailbot had busted through. Couldn't Warden program the robot not to break through walls? Though maybe it just wouldn't be Jailbot if it didn't.
Regardless of the drudgery, working took his mind off of things.
He worked through the afternoon, filling up spreadsheets and ordering replacements for everything from soap to a gold plated cappuccino maker and maybe the twins were preoccupied today because everything was ordered correctly except for the toilet paper, which was now laced with chili pepper powder, but you can't win them all.
It was only after locking up his office did he realize how late it had become. The search lights were on, sweeping around the barracks like a deranged firefly. Jared had lost track of the last time when he had looked at Superjail, not as a million different ways to die, but really looked at it. As some place beautiful. As some place that he called his home.
"Hey Jared." He heard the disembodied Warden's voice again.
"Sir? You're still up? What time is it?" Definitely late, for the Warden that is.
"Yeah, well I am. Listen, do you wanna come up to my office and have some pudding. I promise that it's the eyeball free version." He couldn't almost see the Warden winking at him.
"You know I've been dieting, Sir."
"Oh shut up and get up here." Blip.
Well, pudding sounded a lot better than a midnight snack of 100 calorie crackers.
The office was dark when Jared entered, so dark that Jared thought that the Warden had forgotten about inviting him or was playing a trick on him. In most cases it would have been the latter, but tonight seemed like it was a special night.
"Close the door Jared. You're letting too much light in." He heard the Warden and could just make out a figure at the far end of the room.
"Okay Sir." No sooner had he closed the door then the room lit up again, but not from the lighting fixtures. The stars on the Warden's ceiling were glowing, setting the entire room in a blue-ish light. He had never really looked at the Warden's ceiling before.
The cosmos sparkled, stars and planets shined as comets whizzed passed in crazy glow-in-the-dark harmony.
"...ed... Jared." He looked down again. The Warden had been calling him.
"I take it you like my ceiling right?"
"I've never seen it in the dark before. It's... beautiful."
"Yeah. Yeah it is. Here. I have your pudding on the desk."
"Oh thank you Sir!" He walked over and grabbed it. Tasted it. Good. Chocolate good.
Was this really not a trick?
Was the Warden really being nice to him?
He thought back to reason why he had been so upset during the day. It all seemed so silly now.
"About today Sir, I'm sorry. I guess I got a little carried away. And well, thanks for this. It's really nice to hang out with you like this after days like these."
"Jared you're overreacting."
"You can say that again."
"No, not about that."
"Then what Sir?"
"We're only co-workers. We don't hang out." The Warden emphasized this by quoting the words "hang out" with his middle and index fingers.
"But it would seriously be too hard running this jail without you." Warden added as an after thought. Then he smiled, a joke of a smile, like he was trying his hardest not to smile but failing utterly. But it was good enough for Jared.
"Oh, Sir." Was the Warden admitting something? He really couldn't tell, but it sure sounded like it.
Just then Jared had a thought. Something rose in his chest, an effervescent feeling that not even the first taste of alcohol after a long, hard day could mimic.
"You know Sir, I can't really remember how I die anymore..." Just as he spoke those words a genetically modified carnivorous plant sprouted from the ground, rose thirteen stories up in the blink of an eye, and closed its plant jaws around Jared. Unfortunately, stressed out accountant was not a flavor fit to its liking so it spit him out promptly, and Jared fell to the ground below.
It was not considered for The Big Superjail! Book of 100 Greatest Deaths, though it did make number 757 in the Bigger Superjail! Book of 1000 Greatest Deaths, beating out the inmate who had had his face ripped off by a toilet plunger.
Well here it is, Jared's internal monologue said, my death. And I was just starting to forget about it too!
I thought that it was just some suicide attempt that turned out to be successful. I thought one of these days I'd get so fed up with the Warden that I'd just jump off the tallest building I could find.
But it wasn't like that. All this time he was just trying to cheer me up and I just... Well how could I have known that thiswas the last day of my life?
Still, even after everything Warden wasn't a bad guy. Nope, as the ground rapidly approached, not a bad guy at all.
It looked like Jared was dead. But not dead as in still functioning enough to be sewn back together with other spare body parts dead. And not dead dead in which case he would be in purgatory.
"Every breakable bone in his body is broken." The Doctor confirmed, looking at something that resembled Jello far more than it resembled Jared.
"You have it ready don't you?" Warden asked flatly.
"But of course. Though it wasn't easy finding a skull that matched his though-"
"I know. I know. Just put him back together already." Warden ordered. "Also take a few skin grafts. He's going to have a run-in with a tank of acid next week."
"Ah, so you've managed to make the machine see into next week too?"
"Yes. But as I expected Jared got too freaked out over seeing his own death. Maybe he could have saved himself this time but no, same old Jared." Warden sighed, though it was a rather nostalgic sigh, like he was remembering a good memory. "Might as well make him forget everything about today. I don't need him thinking that I saved his life or something. That'd be too weird." He said before leaving.
The Doctor got right to work putting Jared back together.
And so Jared was dreaming of numbers again. The square root twisted with the 88, the theta avoided the triangle's sloppy dancing and the f' apprehended the rowdy x and sine x to the second power. The sigma had somehow morphed into a three was cuddling with a lesser than sign in the corner, and for once, Jared felt like there was nothing to worry about.
That everything was going to be alright in the end.