He is a monster of a man wrapped in heavy chain and shackled at the wrists and ankles. He has been dressed in a frayed orange jumpsuit. He sits in a glass box. There are hundreds of other glass boxes filled with criminals. The screaming and crying and scrape of chair against cement and clang of doors opening and closing, the din of begging and pleading have given him a headache to kill for.

The variety of criminals facing charges is mind boggling.

Like most people in this world, a polluted world, an overly populated world, a world without much in the way of positive choice, this guy is a piece of shit. A bad hombre. One of the worst.

Many are disenfranchised, most actually. Fighting to survive is a way of life. A calling. A profession.

Maybe as a baby he was innocent, but that was too long ago too matter.

Now he faces charges.

Few people would judge him, except the ones that matter.

A fat man in a white seersucker reads the allegations off a shiny piece of cheap flimsy paper, “Murder, mayhem, arson, gang related activity, drugs, possession and intent to distribute, and intoxication, battery on a leo, being smug, being ugly, draft evasion, truancy, obvious mental deficiency and tax evasion.”

He finishes and wipes seat away from his balding scalp. An eyelid twitches. It’s obvious he detests his job.

The prisoner chuckles at the last complaint, “ironic isn’t it, my only income is stealing old lady purses, and I never met a drug I didn’t do, never could hold on to them long enough to sell. So I see a judge?” his voice is gravel in a cement mixer.

Poor guy.

So optimistic.

If being judged solely on his looks he is fucked. He is fucked either way, but with his body ninety-five percent covered in tats, his shaved head, dead eyes, knuckles large and swollen and broken many times, the type of knuckles use to the impact of heavy flesh and crumbling bone, “the outcome is pretty inevitable,” the fat man says with a small sigh.

Inevitabilities piss the prisoner off.

He is one of those guys who have done back alley genetic manipulations. He had his DNA restructured to amplify the bones in his head, like our good-ole great ancestor Mr. Neanderthal. He went and modified his strength, and speed also and even tweaked his endurance a bit.

He is like a meth head on crack with electricity surging through his veins and the physicality of an Olympic athlete.

He has little to worry about.

“You are going to be convicted. Juries are long gone, fantasies of a far distant past. It’s over,’ Mr. Seersucker says his voice small and scared, ‘they are going to put you against a wall, tonight.”

The prisoner laughs. Maybe he thinks life is a prison and that death is freedom. He doesn’t. He just an asshole and has just been told he will sentenced to die. Laughing is his only real option.

“But I haven’t seen the judge yet,” the prisoner says with a growl more fitting a feral animal then a  human.

“You can see a judge if you want. It might take a while though. A little monitor will be dropped here,’ he points to the air in front of him, ‘You will wait for the static to fade and a little old man in the traditional black robes to appear. He will read the charges again and declare you guilty. I warn you though there is little room in prison for new criminals and there is a certain amount of entertainment value in execution.”

The prisoner knows about the entertainment value. He has watched his share.

There is many dedicated channels for them.

People make a living pulling the best ones.

No two crims ever died the same way.

Some screamed and begged.

Others went stoic.

Some shit themselves

Funny as fuck.

“Tonight?” he asks

“Unless you take the plea agreement.”

“Better than death?”

“Not much anyway. Ever hear of Exile?”

Everyone knew of Exile, a nuclear wasteland out West, an old place filled with ghosts and demons. A place crims don’t come back from. Most anyway.

“If you survive you could get a place in Federal prison. It might be for the rest of your life, but at least you’d get a bunk and one to three meals a day. If you fight real hard you might make it to live a long life.”

“Who wants to live a long life.’ The prisoner says with a smirk. ‘But I get to fight?”

“You know the story, it’s a definite death sentence, or you can fight to survive. At least you get a  choice. Most people don’t”

There was a rumor some convicts escaped Exile and the government never went looking for them. If they were smart they wouldn’t come back East and broadcast it. The prisoner never met anyone who escaped, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t possible.

The point was death in Exile wasn’t an inevitability.

“When would I go?”

“Could get you on the next orbital transport. New rounds start every 24 minutes.”

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