CLANG! The last guard slammed the door after him as he left the corridor. The lights went out. Neal was left alone, or at least as alone as you could be when you were locked up in a cell, surrounded by cells filled with other convicted men. He was lying on a hard bunk, trying to ignore the coarse blanket that he had to use to keep himself warm. Even if he wrapped it tightly around him he couldn't get rid of the feeling of being cold though. The feeling seemed to radiate from his stomach, or rather the twisted knot it had turned into. Maybe it wasn't the blanket's fault that he felt numb. He didn't want to be here. He wanted to be back on the hotels, the comfortable beds, the soft silk sheets, everything that he had gotten used to during the last four years. This was not the way it was supposed to be. He didn't belong in a prison.
Some time passed, it could have been a minute, maybe more, and he had no way of knowing. His eyes surrounded the walls, again, nothing to see just bare concrete and metal bars. No window, no daylight, nothing that could signal the rhythm of the day, or the year. He didn't want to think about it, but he would have to get used to these surroundings, as they were to be his home for the coming years. He stared up at the ceiling, followed the cracks and tried to make them into some kind pattern. With some imagination he could interpret it as some kind of abstractionist playground. Was this the most challenging thing he would be able to do for the foreseeable future?
He sat up with a sigh. He just couldn't fall asleep. The sounds were everywhere. He could hear someone snoring to the left, someone rustling the bed further down the corridor. All things that made him very much aware that he was in a cramped space with a lot of strangers. What a strange thing, feeling isolated and surrounded at the same time. He hadn't felt like this before, not even while he was in pre-trial detention. Maybe he had somehow convinced himself that he would get out. If only agent Burke hadn't been so zealous he was sure that they would not have been able to pin anything on him. At least he had helped him to find Kate and she had promised to visit him, every week. He would have to concentrate on those moments which would be something to look forward to on all the other days. (Only now, alone in his cell, with the noises of the other prisoners keeping him awake, did he start to realize just how many days in this place he had ahead of him.. 4 years! Even though Kate had promised to visit him every week, that would still only be 208 meaningful days. The remaining 1253 would have the same routine, and he was already bored just 10 hour after arriving here.
He felt the thick carpenter's pencil in his pocket; he had picked it up when he was lead through the prison workshops. He could do amazing things with a pencil, and had done some glorious work with just a pen. Tonight he only stood up and walked over to the wall opposite his bed. He pressed the pencil to the concrete. RITSCH It was past midnight and now one lonely, vertical line decorated the grey wall.
Only 1460 more marks to go, and then he would be a free man again.