SHORT STORY: CAGED

Chapter 1: A Secret No More



It all began inside a high-security prison tucked far away from the mainland. The prison itself sits on an island that doesn’t exist on any map you or I would ever know of; it allegedly houses the most notorious con artists from all over the world, including me.

The men imprisoned here have never been tried or convicted of any crimes; they are too sharp to have ever been caught in the act. The United World had passed something called the “Preventive Detention Act”. That, basically gave the agency ‘an arrest anyone and getaway free card’. It’s like RICO but even worse, because it’s a no holds bar kind of situation.

That’s how I got here- handcuffed, dressed in a grey pinstriped suit, in the middle of a con that would’ve made me wealthier than certain small countries. That obviously didn’t happen though... because I wound up here; all rights revoked and no free phone calls.

The walls are made of broad, grey, concrete on the outside and pack double reinforced steel on the inside. Even if an inmate somehow got his hands on a shovel, he would still only be able to break through roughly 2 feet of the wall. It is 10 feet thick and 30 feet high. Rumours run wild about how there is nothing but ocean for 100 miles in each direction even if someone, somehow manages to beat the wall. The rumours are slightly wrong; I for one am certain that it is only 50 miles to land if you swim south. The winds suggest that we’re somewhere near the Indian subcontinent.

It is mostly dark inside the prison; makes it easier to manage prisoners outside. Our eyes are usually struggling to deal with the sudden exposure to daylight and a mere 5 guards can handle 20 un-cuffed prisoners. Hardly anyone here is built like your average criminal; the people here are lean, average built nerds and geniuses. We are only allowed outside for 60 minutes each day; that too if you’re ‘well-behaved’. The prison is grossly under staffed, though I could easily come up with a shift mechanism to manage the entire network in a more streamlined and cohesive manner. It would only take an hour or so.

A fragile looking man dressed in the same grey prison overalls as everyone else but a lot less lost, sauntered over to me. I’ve never seen him before and I’ve seen everyone here.

“What country are you from... Bangladesh?” the man asked.

“Which... not what.” I corrected him.

“Which ain’t no country I ever heard of!” said the man.

“You don’t look like a Pulp Fiction guy.”

“I’m not but, I knew you were... I’m Wilmer...” the man said as he sat himself next to me without prior permission.

“What do you want from me?” I said bluntly.

“I want you to help me escape...” Wilmer said.

I told him that was impossible and that if it had been possible; I wouldn’t be sitting here- not with all my know-how. These guys must have IQs of 110 at best; they are a pain: No precision of language no sense of socially acceptable banter, might as well have been wild boars.

“Under ideal circumstances we can let ourselves out of our cells every Friday evening,” Wilmer stated as if that was a revelation.

“Great! You’ve done the math. You might have also noticed that we cannot breakout of this prison... there is no window of hope, no blind spot for us to escape from and no gullible shift changing guards.” I responded sarcastically.

“Who said anything about breaking out?” Wilmer said in a calm voice.

What did he mean? Was it possible that... no, that makes no sense. How could he know about my secret? I pay the prison guards off well. They even have a sense of respect and gratitude towards me. They would never betray me; not in this sense at least.

“What do you know?” I ask.

“I know that life becomes better once you accept that you’re never going to leave this place alive. I know that you’re the only one in this place who the guards bring wine & cigars for...”

Of course they do! Does this guy know what I have had to do for those things? And who was this man? He’s surely a new prisoner because, I do not know about him, or perhaps he’s number 80.
You see, the prison has a prisoner shuffling system and there are always 39 other prisoners along with me. They keep shuffling people between sections. I have seen 78 prisoners but I always knew there was one more prisoner; who somehow never got shuffled into the same group as me. Since I like to call myself number 79, he has to be number 80. I do not like 80 one bit.

Oh and where are my manners? I forgot to introduce myself... My name is Rasheed. They call me a murderer but, I’m really just an exceptionally skilled con artist.

“You must be here for murder because you’re literally boring me to death,” I said in a nonchalant manner.

“Virtually not literally... and to interest you all I can say is that, I know you have a special way to kill 
your boredom... every Friday evening.” Wilmer announced.

Not that low an IQ after all! 80 knows something. You see it took me all of 2 days to conclude that it wasn’t really impossible to escape this prison. However, I had quickly realized that whatever was outside this prison was the real challenge. That is why I decided to enjoy my stay at the PDC (Preventive Detention Centre). That’s what I call the place because although it has no name... someone has to call it something! Nevertheless I had found a way to access something that was impossible for the other inmates to enjoy. A secret that had been well kept up until now but, now Wilmer a.k.a 80 knows and he wants in.

Surprisingly, I have never killed a man by hand; most people die hours, days, months and at times even years after I’ve set my plan in motion. I wonder how I’ll kill Wilmer- he is driven by pure greed. He has no real class... the world deserves a better clique of criminals. That can be arranged. I offer him a Cigar... the trusting fool takes it.

Chapter 2: The Price To Pay



The prison bells rang incessantly the morning after. I applied some balm to my abdomen and quickly ate a painkiller. Wilmer a.k.a 80 had been found dead in his cell; that isn’t what they were all mad about though. The agency was pissed because estimates suggested he had died at 12.55 a.m. He was actually killed at 12.30 am but, that’s not important. What is important is that the prison is put on lockdown at around 12 and someone was out of their cell even after lockdown.

The agency holds this prison up to unreasonably high standards; high because of the sort of inmates it holds and unreasonable because I am now one of them. They can’t find the murder weapon; there are no finger prints and obviously no signs of struggle. It all went exactly as I had planned.

I am not a murderer so it took some extra effort in coming up with a plan. Well... not really! Any fool could murder, idiots kill people every day. The trick you see is getting away with the crime because, if you get away with it you are never incriminated and as a result you’re not a criminal.

It was simple; I decided to stab him in the stomach. I was considering stabbing him in the heart, you know... for dramatic effect but, I stuck to the stomach. Stabbing someone in the heart isn’t as easy as they make it seem. The heart is a rather small organ and breaking rib cages is a pain. If you’ve ever eaten ribs you know how hard they are; I don’t have the kind of strength required for that sort of thing.

I filled a sheath with water and kept it in the freezer before the guard I had bribed showed up with the wine. I came back for it later with a friend who is great at picking locks in exchange of cigarettes; you can imagine how he reacted when I handed him a Cuban. Anyhow, the water inside the sheath had frozen and I now had a knife made of ice. Amazing right? I stabbed him in the sleep, so there was no struggle. The ice melted before the guards found the body and they spent the rest of the night looking for a murder weapon. No one will know who did except the guard who got me wine. He doesn’t know how I did it but, he’ll be pretty sure it was me. That’s why I applied the balm and ate the pain killer.

We were all lined up in the sun- the amateurs struggling to adjust to the light. The guard came. He took me to the prison yard where there were a few others- the usual suspects. He began hitting me in the stomach with his baton.

“Not in the stomach! Oh god! Not in the stomach!” I yelled.

The more I told him not to hit me in the stomach, the more he would... these people are primitive and easy to manipulate. My stomach was strong and I didn’t want to be hit anywhere else. When I didn’t accept that it was me who had killed 80, they let me go. I went back to my cell, poured myself some wine and lit a cigar.

The effects of the balm and painkiller had begun to wear off. I had to get drunk and fall asleep before my body began to feel the pain. I drank the bottle and lay down smoking. It was hurting but it was worth keeping my secret safe. No one could know about Mia. You might not think of it as much, you may think I’m crazy but in here this seemed like something worth dying for.


The PDC had a separate enclosure where they housed Mia- the only woman in there. I paid the guards off to make sure they never bothered her and to make sure no other prisoner knew about her. I had to protect her. Outside, in the real world I was a man who knew how to get to women but, in here a woman got to me. I’ve killed for her and she doesn’t even know.

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