It was a few hours after the trial. Gideon was sitting outside the courtroom, with his two children. Shadow notice, when he was leaving the courtroom that his defense lawyer was nowhere to be seen. The lawyer must have scarpered for fear of being injured or murdered the the hands of his client. Shadow looked up at Gideon, then at Gravity. The silence between the three of them was deafening.
“I’m sorry kids. but I had to do it. Anyway you got off pretty lightly. If you were any older, you would probably be locked away for the rest of your lives.”
“What will happen to us, when we’re released? We haven’t got any family to go back to.”
“I’ve made arrangements to send Gravity to an orphanage and the prison will arrange temporary accommodation for Shadow, as he is too old for children’s homes. I know the right thing to do would be to adopt you, but I haven’t been much of a father recently and I doubt I could be a good one in the future.”
Shadow smirked. “Do I detect a little bit of remorse in your voice? A little bit of guilt? It’s a little late for that now.
Mitch walked up to the children and they got to their feet. He led them out of the building and into a police car, that was driven back to the police station. After one uncomfortable week, Shadow was taken for a short drive in the back of a police van, which was barely bigger then a wardrobe. After two uncomfortably hot hours, the van finally stopped outside an ugly red brick building. He assumed, this would be where he will stay. He was marched up to the gatehouse of the building. The gatehouse was a few metres behind a ten foot brick wall, which was topped of with razor wire. Nobody could escape that way. In the unlikely event that they did, armed guards with dogs patrolled the perimeter of the prison. Shadow was marched into the reception area.
Mitch quickly checked him in, signed some forms and left. Shadow was given a number, which was an identification number. He looked down and read it. 3145. 3145 was now Shadow’s new name. He was then led to the sanitation area of the building. There he was forced to strip completely and to hand his clothes to a prison guard, in exchange for a uniform. Shadow pulled on a pair of shapeless boxer shorts and tried to ignore the fact that they had not been washed since last time. He then pulled on a grey cotton t-shirt and tried to ignore the dried on blood stains. Afterwards he put on grey tracksuit bottoms. He tried not to look at the stains, around the crotch. He saw his own clothes being put into a transparent bag, labelled and then filed away. A man in a white coat walked up to him and quickly checked in a file. The man looked old and tired. A pair of glasses were perched on his crooked nose.
“Shadow or prisoner 3145 I presume?”
Shadow slowly nodded.
“This way, please.” Shadow walked down a very clean corridor and into a room, littered with medical and surgical equipment.
“If, you’ll please take a seat on the bed.” The man’s voice was a matter of fact. In the following hour, Shadow was poked and prodded in places that he did not even know existed. Finally, he was allowed to leave and he was escorted to his cell. He stepped inside and heard the door locked behind him. Shadow looked around at his accommodation. The walls were painted white and there was a single bed in the corner, which was very similar to the one at the police station. The bed clothes had not been washed and Shadow could see a lot of stains. There was only one bed, so Shadow presumed this would be solitary confinement. There was a wash basin in one corner, with a toilet next to it. The toilet had started to rust. There was a barred window, set high in the wall. “Lights will be turned out in ten minutes.” Said an unemotional voice through the intercom speaker in Shadow’ room. He got into his bed and closed his eyes.
A slam of a bolt being drawn back, woke Shadow up. He pulled the rough, paper thin covers back and went to the barred window. He looked out of it and saw that it was just getting light. Shadow heard a noise behind him and turned around. The noise was the door opening and two officers walking inside. Shadow recognised one of them as Inspector Mitch Crosby, but he did not know the other one.
“Prisoner 3145, you will come with us to start your induction session. First, you will have a reception interview with Inspector Crosby here, who has been assigned as your probation officer, to discuss any concerns or problems you might have. If you’ll follow us. Said the unknown prison guard, in a flat, monotone voice.
Shadow shook his head. “I don’t have any problems or concerns and as for a tour of the prison. I’ll make my own way around.” He tried to keep the tone of his voice, as light as possible.
“Prison 3145, that was not a request. It was an order.” Mitch injected.
“It might have been an order, but I’m not following it.” This time, Shadow did not even try to keep the contempt out of his soft voice.
The unknown prison guard went up to him and gave him a swift backhand across the face, leaving a nasty red mark. What was a bored and tired looking guard before, had turned into an aggressive and violent thug. He pulled Shadow to his feet and pushed him forward. After a short walk, he was pushed into a room, with two plastic chairs and a table. the unknown officer remained outside, while Mitch followed Shadow in. “Ok, prisoner 3145, do you have any questions?”
“Yes. Out of all the police officers out there, how come you were assigned, as my probation officer? Why isn’t that nasty git outside my probation officer?”
“Gideon paid me to look after you and he had a word with the prison staff. I suppose he wants to make up for being a bad father.”
“He’s got to do a lot better than that; anyway you weren’t looking after me when that officer hit me.”
“Well prisoner 3145 you were asking for that. You can get so cocky.”
Shadow smiled. He was beginning to like Mitch.
“Anyway, this session is to help introduce you to prison life. After a few days, you will choose what course you want to study here.”
“What’s the point of studying?”
“Prisoner 3145, you were left homeless at an early, resulting in no GCSEs. We offer an alternative. You can study your chosen subjects and then sit your exams.
Shadow sat back and crossed his arms. “I don’t want to study or sit exams.”
Mitch sighed. “it is that kind of attitude that will get you hurt. Anyway, if we release you with no exam results and no chance of getting a job, then you will resort back to crime and if you resort back to crime, there is a very strong chance, that you will end up back here. Who knows, maybe in two years we’ll be having this exact same conversation?”
“Exactly. I’m only in here for two years, which means that I only have two years to study.” Shadow protested.
“That’s the same amount that secondary schools do. However if you’ll prefer, you can stay here for another two years. Or six years. Or eight years.”
Shadow sighed and nodded in a agreement. He knew that he did not have a choice.
“Good lad. Do you have any idea what you want to do, when you leave here?”
“That’s extremely helpful 3145, but we’ll worry about this later. If you do suffer any abuse from the other inmates, report it to one of the officers.”
“Do you I report abuse from the officers, as well as inmates?”
“If you do get hit by the officers, it’s only because you’re asking for it. So do you actually have any concerns or problems?”
Shadow shook his head.
“We do expect some things from our prisoners. We expect good behaviour and attendance, we expect cooperation-”
“So, basically everything a school would expect?”
Mitch nodded. “we also expect not to be interrupted. If any of these rules are broken, you will be severely disciplined. One last question. Do you remember your real name?”
“I chose to forget it. At the time I didn’t want to remember anything related to my parents.”
Mitch nodded. “Now you will be escorted to your cell.”
The door opened and the unknown officer walked in right on cue. “Should I escort prisoner 3145 back to his cell?” Mitch nodded. The officer walked over to Shadow and roughly pulled him to his feet. He gave him a hearty push forward and walked over. Shadow walked in the direction of his cell. He was helped along, with a few shoves by the officer. Ten feet away from his cell, he was tripped up. He fell flat on his face. The officer grabbed his collar and heaved him up.
“You really don’t like me, do you?” Shadow asked. He was determined not to be intimidated by this horrible man. The officer kicked him in the knee.
“No I don’t like you; you helped to kill one innocent man and even though it can’t be proven, I bet you killed all the others.”
“Why are you punishing me? Are you trying to avenge their lost souls? Hasn’t your mummy told you that two wrongs don’t make a right?”
The officer groaned and slapped Shadow across the cheek. “Shut up.” The officer walked to the cell and unlocked it. He dragged Shadow over and shoved him inside. Shadow shook his head and rubbed his cheek. “Stupid idiot.” He muttered to himself. Without warning, the light went off and Shadow bet the nasty officer had cut power to his cell, even though it was the beginning to the day. He shook the notion off and went under the covers. It was hours before he fell asleep. He felt cold and unwelcome. Eventually the escape of sleep came.
The early morning light crept into shadow’s cell and woke him up. He had been locked in his cell for the duration of the previous day. Having nothing better to do, he decided to catch up on some much needed sleep. He enjoyed sleeping on a mattress, rather than the streets of London, but he missed the company and warmth of his sister and dog. Maybe he could see them again. he hoped that sometime he might be allowed to visit them. It seemed unlikely, but he hoped nonetheless. The cell door unlocked and Mitch and the unknown, nasty officer walked in.
“Prisoner 3145, my name is Sergeant Robert Smith. You are expected to shower, then Inspector Crosby will accompany you on a tour of the prison. Afterwards, you will decide what you want to study here.” Shadow nodded and hesitantly walked to the door. At the last second Sergeant Smith stuck his foot out and swept it back, resulting tin Shadow crashing to the floor.
“Sergeant Smith, leave him. You’re not going to help like that.” Mitch Said.
“This thing helped to kill someone. This is the only language it understands.”
“That might be so, but he’s got to spend two years in here. it won’t reflect well on the prison or the police, if he kills himself within his first week.” Sergeant Smith simply sneered at Mitch, as he reached down and helped Shadow to his feet.
“Ok, your tour begins here, with a shower, because you stink.” Shadow smiled and looked around the room. It was poorly lit, with separate cubicles. “Shower time is is fifteen minutes. You have five minutes of hot water; I suggest you use it wisely.” Shadow stripped and stepped into the cubicle. Without warning, a jet of hot water thundered out. He sighed, as he it let wash over him. He did not even notice, when the hot water had stopped and the cold water had started. After a long time without a wash, even a cold shower was a luxury. Suddenly the water stopped and Shadow reluctantly stepped out. He wished he could stay in there forever. He dried himself and got dressed back into uniform. He walked outside and saw Mitch waiting from him. “Right. It’s time to pick the subjects, you’ll be studying here.”
Shadow stepped into a room named ‘Opportunities’. How sanctimonious was that?” The room was small and cramped, with appear and notices everywhere. “when you were at school, what did you excel at?” Mitch asked.
Shadow thought back. It was such a long time ago. “Art and science I think.”
“Any particular science?”
“I really enjoyed physics, especially learning about forces.”
This sparked Mitch’s interest. “What kind of forces did you learn about?”
“The usual forces that everybody learns about.”
“Can you give me some examples?”
Shadow sighed. “I remember us learning about friction, up thrust, air resistance and gravity.”
“We offer classes in all these subjects. Now subjects you have to study are English, maths and luckily for you, science. Then you pick three other subjects of your choice. Now as you have an evident interest in art, we should look at that first.”
“Ok we will have a look at it.” Shadow and Mitch walked over to a woman with pencils in her hair.
“Hello Ms Eves, this is 3145 and he has show interest in art. I was wondering if you would like to take him in your class.”
“Yes, we will be happy to have him. So 3145, do you think you are good at drawing?”
Shadow shrugged. “I think so. I’ve never had any training, but I do enjoy doing it; it relaxes me.”
Ms Eves handed him some paper. “Go on. Draw something. I want to see how good you are.” Shadow took a pencil and started drawing and within then minutes, he had produced a detailed picture of his dog Bliss.
“Wow, that’s really impressive. Consider yourself a member of our class.”
“Ok. That is great Ms Eves. 3145, if you like drawing then maybe you should do graphics as well. Mr Holbert teaches graphics, don’t tell him I said this, but he is very grumpy.”
Shadow smiled at the joke. “I don’t think, I want to meet a grumpy man like Mr. Holbert, unless I have to, so I think I’ll just take it.”
“Ok, there is another lesson you can take. Anything else you’re particularly interested in?”
“I always enjoyed music at school. I found something rewarding out of making music. It’s hard to explain. It sounds really stupid, doesn’t it?”
“Not at all. If this is the thing that you like doing, we should really pursue it. You never know, it could lead to a career.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Anyway could you sign me up to these three subjects?”
“Are you definitely sure, you want to pick these three? When you start these courses, there’s no changing your mind.”
“Yes I am. At school I showed a certain talent for music and graphics sounds fairly similar to art, so I’ll take them. I think that I’ll be able to deal with Mr. Holbert. I am positive that he won’t be able to handle my cockiness.”
“I’m not sure. He is actually a very scary man. I would watch myself, if I were you. Anyway I will fill in application forms. If all goes well, your classes will begin next Monday.
The morning light slowly crept in, through the barred window. The light always woke Shadow up, before the siren that acted like an alarm clock. It was eight a.m. After Shadow had his fifteen minute shower, he went to have breakfast. Porridge. Porridge with lumps. Shadow hesitantly picked up his spoon and started picking at it. He knew if he did not eat this, then he would have nothing until lunch and if he was going to get through his first day of school, it was vital that he ate something. He forced himself to scoop up some of it and put it into his mouth. It tasted absolutely vile, but he ate all of it. The time was now nine a.m., which was when school started. He stood up and marched to first lesson. Graphics. “Everybody take your seats. My name is Mr. Holbert. I will be teaching you graphics. At the start of lesson, you were given pencils and paper, if you’ll like to take them out.”
Shadow raised his hand.
“Yes…” Mr. Holbert did not appreciate being interrupted.
“Shad- 3145. These pencils are really sharp; they could be used as a weapon. What happens if somebody attacks me?” Shadow said the sentence as whiny as he could make his voice go.
“Prisoner 3145, your concerns have been noted, but I don’t think that will be a problem.” Mr. Holbert’s voice did not rise once, but his eyes had turned to the colour of ice, warning Shadow not to test him. Shadow decided to heed the warning and somehow made it through the rest of morning. It was now time for lunch. Lunch, was fried eggs on toast. Shadow was looking forward to this, until he saw it. The bread was either undercooked or overcooked and the eggs were dripping with grease. Once again, Shadow forced himself to eat this. A siren sounded, signalling the end of lunch. Shadow stood up and walked back to “school” for afternoon lessons.
He saw Sergeant Smith on the way and immediately quickened his pace. “How are you, you stupid tramp. How much money have you made so far? Who have you killed this time? Are you going to kill me and steal all my money?” Shadow ignored him and kept walking. “Hey, 3145 I’m talking to you.” He went up to Shadow and slapped him. It was only now, that Shadow realised how short the man was. Shadow kicked him in the knee. Sergeant Smith cried out and bought his hands down. Shadow saw the opportunity and kicked the policeman’s hands and pushed him over. He quickly continued on his way, like nothing had happened. Sergeant Smith reached for his radio. “I’m in the canteen. Prisoner 3145 just assaulted me.” Out of nowhere Inspector Crosby and three other officers rushed in and took Shadow down.
They dragged him across the floor and into a small and enclosed room. Shadow’s shirt was ripped off and his arms were roped to either side of the room. Shadow saw Sergeant Smith smiling at him.
“Now this is where you go to get severely disciplined.” The policeman picked up a brutal looking rounders bat. “Don’t worry I won’t inflict any permanent damage.”
Somehow Shadow doubted this. Sergeant Smith swung the bat into Shadow’s back. He cried out. The policeman moved his hands down to the bottom of the bat and pushed it into Shadow’s kidney. This time Shadow remained silent, he was determined that Sergeant Smith would not get any satisfaction out of this. The bat was swung again, straight into the knee. This was payback for the earlier incident. Another strong blow in the stomach. This winded Shadow, yet he still remained silent. The bat was swung again, into his forearm hitting a pressure point making his arm go completely numb. The action was repeated on the other arm. He was slowly untied. “You got off lightly.” Sergeant Smith dragged Shadow across the floor. Even if he had the strength to stand, he would have not been able to walk. Sergeant Smith threw him onto his cell bed and walked out of the cell chuckling maniacally.
He woke up in a clean room, with sunlight streaming in. He sat up and noticed that the mattress was a lot softer, than it should be. He looked around and saw syringes and medicine. So I’m in hospital. So much for no permanent damage. I hope that bastard rots in hell. Shadow thought. The door opened and Consultant Jones walked in followed by Inspector Crosby.
“Ah good, Shadow you’re awake.”
“How did I get here?”
“Mitch called me, after your beating and I made arrangements to get you out. Your knee has been fractured, but otherwise it’s just bruises everywhere else. We can mend the knee and give you painkillers for now. You’re going to have to stay in hospital for two weeks, then you’ll be released back to prison.”
“How’s Gravity?” Shadow asked, weakly.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her yet. Don’t worry, she can look after herself.”
“I know she can, I taught her how.” Gideon did not falter. He was angry at Shadow for bringing this up. Mitch saw what was about to take place and decided to intervene.
“Prisoner 3145, now I know you’re probably mad at me, for not helping you during your ordeal, but you struck an officer and he gave you an appropriate punishment-” Shadow started to protest, but Mitch raised his hand. “I know what you’re going to say, we know you were provoked and Sergeant Smith has been fired and is being tried. He will almost certainly be imprisoned.”
“I suppose that is some consolation.”
“We better let you get some rest now. These pills are to help you sleep.”
Gideon went over to the bedside table and put the pills down, then he and Mitch exited the room. Shadow picked them up and dropped them in a glass of water. He waited for them to dissolve and then he drank out of the cup. His vision started to blur and he became dizzy, he assumed these were side effects from the pills. Suddenly everything went black.
Again correct my fourteen year old self on how prisons work. I really didn’t know any better.