Can you imagine what it’s like to be a prisoner after the end of the world?

Lonely. Very, very lonely.
You know, when the first vaults were being created, there was no contingency plan for the massive prison population in the US. In fact, the vaults were designed to be as different from prisons as possible.
How fucked up is that?
All the research and experience gained from locking up scores, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people in the course of history, and they used it all to make the “normal” people more comfortable.
As you can tell, I’m a bit more sympathetic to prisoners now.
I walked through a prison once. I ventured out, just out of curiosity, and found one. See, the meteor hit and took out everything. I mean everything. Electricity, water facilities, septic systems, everything. And it wasn’t like prisoners were evacuated. No one wanted it. No one. Space was limited in the vaults. Even more limited after the Cell Donors were given their spots. So prisoners got the short shrift. The facilities themselves were abandoned when the meteor was acknowledged. That was three days before the Event. The poor bastards probably didn’t even know what was happening. All they knew was that their guards were gone and they weren’t going anywhere. Hopefully, they died quickly. It’d be awfully sad to find out they barely survived dying of thirst just to freeze to death.
The prison I went to was very telling. It stunk of rotting flesh. Every cell had at least one corpse: some hanging from the ceiling, some lying on their cots, some were curled in a corner, where the wind wouldn’t have reached them. Some had cut themselves to death and died in pools of blood. Like I said, very telling.
They never needed jails during the Winter. If someone did something wrong, they were confined to their quarters until the next Exodus day. Then, they were pushed out into the wilderness and told to never come back. A lot of them chose to turn down the gear offered to everyone who had to venture outside. Apparently, certain vaults had famously large piles of dead bodies mere feet from the exit, clothed only in a standard-issue jumpsuit. A quick death you choose is always better than a slow one you don’t, so long as both are exactly as imminent. If the choice is a few minutes of hypothermia or a few weeks of starvation, most people make the choice pretty easily.
I never did find out what the plan was in case a criminal wandered off into the wilderness and then survived to the reconstruction of society. I don’t think anyone expected society to come back. Maybe they were hoping the criminals would make their own city to murder each other in. I suppose I have all the time in the world to ask now. I got the first life sentence since the reconstruction of society. I suppose that’s one way to go down in the history books.
Where I was, we never needed prisons. We never needed punishment. Everyone understood on an innate level how things worked. Everything went smoothly, all the time. Well, almost all the time. If they went smoothly all the time, I wouldn’t be in here.
I said that it’s lonely because there’s no one else here. None. I suppose that’s a side effect of the collapse of society, you have a lot fewer ne’er-do-wells around. Ne’er-do-wells. I really don’t belong here.
Well, I suppose I ought to get used to this. Even Napoleon was exiled from the land he ruled.
My name is Dave. And I was once a King.
Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.
© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.

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