Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Short Story: Destroying the Prison Warden

[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 'sandbox world']

Destroying the Prison Warden:

Location: Unknown
Date: December 3229

    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 torture.
    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."
    "Hah!  Now why doesn't that surprise me!"
    Luther took his las-pistol out of it's holster and held it by his side.
    "Wait!  What are you doing?"
    Luther locked his eyes on the other mans eyes.  He said calmly "I'm going to kill you."
    "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 you."
    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 condemned."
    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.
    "B-b-b-but how?"
    "I don't know."  He replied in his typically monotone voice.  "I don't think that far ahead."
    "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?""
    "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 then?"
    "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?"
    "Yes.  He makes the laws of wilfulness and freedom and subjects us to them.  That sounds pretty fascist to me."
    "W-what's wrong with wilfulness and freedom?"
    "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 eyes.  "Good."
    He put the universal lock-pick back in his trouser pocket.
    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."


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