[Foreword: Another short story this week for your delectation.
I don't know what
this story's about. It seems to be about
evil and about punishing evil, hence the title 'Destroying the Prison Warden' but
it's not really about that. It's about
becoming aware of evil and then confronting that evil. Although I must stress that the confrontation
in the story is more about letting good happen rather than forcefully
destroying evil with heartfelt effort.
That's the way it happens in the story anyway: effort-less rather than effort-full.
As with the other
short stories, the setting is the science-fiction computer game world Frontier:Elite, but the
details aren't important and the story can be read and understood without
knowing anything about the game. It's
just an environment to experiment with different ideas, like a proverbial
Luther Burgsvik had been assigned as a
guard, a personal guard, for a prison warden by his employers the Varangian
Security Services (VSS). VSS were a
private security firm that hired out their services to the right client. Not just any client who paid good money, but
the right one. In this regard they were
unlike other mercenary companies who whored themselves out to the highest
bidder or the one who offered them more opportunities for combat. The VSS had something that other security
companies did not: honour.
It was this sense of honour that led them
to only be hired by clients with good intentions, like a mining company that
was selling it's goods for civil engineering projects, instead of a Drug Baron
who needed his Opium plantation protecting.
It was also this sense of honour that permeated through all tiers of the
company. Both the neophyte Rekkr
(warrior) and the experienced Jarl had honourable convictions.
This sense of honour is what was causing
Luther to wonder whether the prison warden that he was supposed to be
protecting was really worth protecting.
He had seen the warden displaying behaviour that seemed to imply a deep
seated sadistic streak. He had also
heard of rumours that the man had been torturing prisoners in the privately run
prison complex, but had no personal proof of the acts so he could not report
the Warden to either the Executives of the Prison or his own boss in VSS.
The situation had gotten progressively
worse over the weeks, until the situation finally reached a head, and Luther
decided that he had to challenge the Prison Warden about the accusations of
The two men were stood in a dingy concrete
sub-terranean prison cell, about four metres by eight. The only other person in the room was a
scrawny, half-naked prisoner who was shackled down in a crude steel chair and
awaiting interrogation by the Warden.
The Warden had been 'testing' Luther,
finding, trying to find some weakness, some vulnerability, some deep seated
desire he had to exploit: a chink in Luther’s mental armour that he could exploit. A weakness, some where that he could weasel
his way in and destroy the mans honour.
The warden had been trying to do this by asking subversive questions,
tempting Luther, trying to find out the mans desires, trying to undermine him,
to get him to lose his self-control.
"But surely you must have some
instincts.." The fleshy shouldered
warden continued. "Some desires
that you feel compelled to act out. That
you have no control over. What if you
were confronted by a crying baby?
Wouldn't you want to make it feel better?"
Svelt, bearded, Luther regarded the warden
for a moment. "If I was confronted
by a crying baby, I could just as easily feel empathy for the child, cuddle it
and make it joyful again, as I could feel a-pathetic for the child, submerge it
in a vat of hydrochloric acid to destroy it.
Both options are available to me.
I can choose to either feel warmly-empathetic and help it, or feel
coldly-sociopathic and destroy it."
Luther said in a matter of fact tone.
The dungeon master replied. "That kind
of self-control makes you a dangerous man."
"Because no-one can predict what you
are going to do. You have total control over yourself. Everything you do is because you will it,
because you choose it."
"Yes?" Luther puzzled.
"Well don't you see!?" Dungeon master said animatedly. "Don't you see?! People hate that! They hate what they can't control. You.." he gesticulated at Luther
"..they can't control. You're like
a.. a wild card, a maverick, a loose cannon, something that can't be manipulated."
"I don't care about other people."
Now why doesn't that surprise me!"
Luther took his las-pistol out of it's
holster and held it by his side.
What are you doing?"
Luther locked his eyes on the other mans
eyes. He said calmly "I'm going to
"Because of the evil that you were
planning to do to that man by inflicting terror on him."
"Wait.." The dungeon master threw his hands in-front
of himself trying to fend of an invisible attack. "I.. I.. I wasn't really going to
inflict terror on that prisoner. I was
just scaring him."
Luther kept his eyes and laser fixed on the
man, and pointed over to a stainless steel trolley with his free hand. "There are two vials of terror and fear
serum over there, and a device for erasing short term memory. That is evidence that you were going to go
ahead with inflicting terror on this prisoner.
After that you would use the memory eraser to erase all memories of the
torturing to protect yourself from prosecution by your employers."
The Dungeon Master laughed playfully. "Oh silly you. I wasn't really going to use them, I was just going to scare him a little,
that's all. Just simple stage props
that's all they are. A little joke's all
it was, you see?"
Luther then pointed in the direction of
another prison cell. "You've
already done this to at least one other prisoner, which shows that you have the
capacity and will to do wrong to this man."
"Oh, alright. Alright!
I've done this operation once before.
I admit! But this time I 'really'
wasn't going to." He chuckled and
wrung his hands nervously - showing an incongruity between his internal
thoughts and external actions.
Luther then pointed directly at the
man. "Your pupils are dilated and
your breathing rate is above normal.
This indicates a high endorphin level in your bloodstream in
anticipation of the event you are just about to commit. Which you consider to be thrilling. 'You' have incriminated yourself. You are evidence of your own evil
intention. The truth is out."
The Warden screwed up his face and turned
savage "Bastard!". His voice
turned into a bitingly nasty little voice full of venomous hatred. His eyes turned in to evil black
marbles. "So what if I was going to
torture this little shit. Who fucking
cares? He has no-one to care for
him. No family. No friends.
No-one. What concern is he of
yours? You trumped up shit-eating storm-trooper." The man clenched his fists. "And who are you to stop me from having
my little bit of fun? Who are you to
tell me what I can and can't do? Who are
you to tell me what's wrong?"
"I'm alive and you're not. I hate death.
I hate you. I am going to destroy
He pointed at Luther. "You!
You're nothing but a fucking Fascist.
That's what you are! You make up
your own rules and then subject other people to them. That makes you nothing but a fucking
Fascist. A Judge, Jury and Executioner
all rolled into one."
"So is God."
"Fucker." He barked with malicious hatred. "I fucking hate that fucker. The warden faced up towards the sky and with
the upmost black, heart-felt hatred that he could muster from his venom-filled
soul barked "DIE."
Luther continued in his emotionless,
borderline monotone voice. "I am
the punisher. I am here to punish you
for your crimes; I will expurgate all of you from the face of this planet. Scum like you will no longer be allowed to
wrong to innocent men. I deny you the
ability to do wrong. I deny you. You no longer have the ability to do wrong to
other people. You will be condemned to
an eternity with no one but yourself to torture, to inflict pain and misery
on. I condemn you to an afterlife with
yourself. I condemn you. Die.
Die and remain unborn, never to be born again. You will never be reborn, you will remain
without choice forever; forever and ever you will be with no-one but your own
choice. I pity you, but I cannot save
you. I cannot help you, and you will be
left behind; left in the darkness where you belong, where you want to belong. I have no more time for those who want to
die. My heart is tired and I can cry no
more tears. You.." He pointed at
the warden "..you are finished. It
is over. The last act, the last scene,
the curtains are falling, the lights are dimming, the audience are leaving, the
stage is empty. You are now eternally
The warden's final iota of self-control
snapped and his face turned purple and violently ugly. His hands raised and turned into clawed
talons ready to rip Luther’s face apart.
"Raaargh!". He charged
at Luther, who quickly ended the man’s last attack with a laser-shot to the
skull. The lifeless body kept moving
forward under it's own momentum, it's own inertia, until it fell and slumped at
Luther’s feet purged of the perverted, sick soul that once inhabited it.
Luther looked briefly at the singed head of
the corpse laying at his feet. A small
waft of smoke arose from the exit wound.
He smoothly holstered his pistol and turned
to the frightened, wide-eyed prisoner who was shackled down to the chair.
"W-w-w-what are you going to
do?" The prisoner asked nervously.
Luther walked over to the man and knelt
down at his feet. He scrutinized the
shackles on the man to figure out how to unfasten them. "Find out how to remove your bonds and
then get you and me out of here."
Luther then reached into one of his trouser
pockets and retrieved a universal lock-pick and started undoing the shackles.
"I don't know." He replied in his typically monotone
voice. "I don't think that far
"Heh.." The prisoner laughed
half-heartedly at not knowing whether his new predicament was any better or not
than his last. "And w-what about
your bosses? W-what will they d-do to
"You mean my employers? Varangian Security Services?" He pushed a few buttons on the lock-pick
which started to do its work.
"Y-yes. Won't they want t-to court martial you for
th-this? I mean you just k-killed
someone wh-who you're hired to protect."
"I don't think they'd approve of what
this creature was doing to his prisoners.
They are honourable you know."
"Th-they won't h-hang you for this
"I certainly hope not."
Luther un-fastened all of the shackles
which fell to the floor with a clunk.
"A-and that part that you said about
God being a Fascist, d-did you mean it?"
He makes the laws of wilfulness and freedom and subjects us to
them. That sounds pretty fascist to
"W-what's wrong with wilfulness and
"Nothing." Luther looked at the mans eyes. "You like being alive and free to make
your own choices don't you?"
"Y-yes..?" The prisoner said uncertainly.
Luther looked at the man with smiling
He put the universal lock-pick back in his
He stood up and helped the fragile man, the
ex-prisoner, out of the chair.
"Now, let us get out of here before
some of the guards turn up and find out what has transpired."