My own Prison
by Philip Reyth
forum: My own Prison
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

......... ....... ..... ..  

My own Prison


    The police took me into custody, hooking me up to the Emotion Memory Scan, playing out my responses on the Holo-vid in front of the judge and authorities. They said I killed someone; Starker who took the grant from under me. It looked like my fault anyway; a motive and no alibi. I was framed, although I wanted to kill him nonetheless. But there it was; a three dimensional scene swimming up out of the middle of the room. Streaks of light like serpents writhing into an image of me and Starker. I sat squirming in the brain groper; as it searched my mind for responses to their questioning. When they asked me about Starker and the incident of my cut funding, it resulted in this scene in all of its three dimensional glory. It had totally thrown out my plea. In the scene it looked like I killed him, but killing a man for wounding your pride was madness. It was enough to seal my fate though. 

    Now me, Max Cervasco was living in VR hell, because of a motive, no alibi and the intent in my mind. They sentenced me for life on June 21st, 2053.

    The U.S. government I had heard, got some guy who should be locked up in a padded cell, to design the VR hell. Each level was tailor-made for each type of offense. This was all cost effective for the taxpayer since crime was out of control over the last twenty-five years. So they came up with VR hell, a madmanĎs dream. The general populace thought prison in the past was lax so when given the opportunity, they embraced the usage of VR hell over the traditional prison system. Cost effective yes, but a nightmare to those sentenced to experience their creation. 

    We spent our time in a closet sized cell, with small suspensor disks placed on our naked bodies. So, we floated in the closet with a drain below. We were washed only twice a day, like a flash car wash. We just shat and urinated there down the drain, then at some time we were washed. They hooked up an oxygen and nutri-flow tube with the VR taps. 

    There is no sleep in my plane of misery, the same routine loops through my slice of hell. I read Dante once and now, here I am in his Inferno. I mark the beginning of my day caught in a whirlpool in a lake of fire that makes my flesh bubble. After making several laps around, a demon skewers me out, popping blisters with his prong. It places me on a hot sandy floor with burs and thorns prodding me along. This hell looked real, even more so than the one my body was in and of course my senses were turned up. 

    I could see in the distance people tormented by Harpies and off on a nearby hill, I could see people rolling heavy stones and when they reach the top the stone would roll back over them. Then they would be prodded by a demon to start the process all over again. All who come here must abandon all hope. The pain felt was almost unbearable. I could hear lamentations, harmonious in a song of pain. We approach the next daily ritual; the tree of pain. The Demon straps me to the tree as I hear anotherís leathery wings flapping and cracking its whip to torment me. The rest of my time here is a blur; the hurting numbs me after the tree. 

    I still have nightmares about my experience. No amount of psycho or VR therapy can take them away. I was the first to be pardoned from that hell. But now that I write this down after six years to the day of being released from the inferno. I can still smell my filthiness from awakening in that fecal filled room and stickiness of my crumbling flesh. I know now that they wanted to cut their budget even more, so they cleaned us once every two days. I remember slime dripping from my face as they took the tubes and tap away, I then vomited all over myself. And.... 

     I shake my self out of the doldrums of my experience; there was no need to dwell there in those memories if I was to be freed from the nightmares. But, now when I reflect.... I donít think I really left. All the reverse VR therapy hasnít made it all go away. At my computer; an out dated model, because I donít want anything plugged into my head ever again; I can barely handle the VR hookups from my therapy. Through this I write out my experience. Maybe Iíll find some kind of closure. Now with my ample bank account, I take it easy and write. 

    Two years after my hearing, an investigation was run on the trial methods of conviction and found that my examination had some wavering in its findings. There was an inquiry. People who were in Starkerís sphere of influence were sent through the same process and most of them had the same results. It appeared that I wasnít the only one he had cheated. But, all the money in the world couldnít erase my own prison in hell. 

    Seeing Max Cervasco plastered all over the Holo and the net was some therapy. Seeing my name in lights and the endless interviews made me turn to writing. I had also met a lot of women with stars in their eyes, which only went so far. I started to attend the neon church down the street on Sundayís after the glamour was gone. That had brought me some solace and after a while the nightmares became less frequent. I remember a man there that talked to me, he was very kind. I would call him from time to time. I need to stop now or Iíll never sleep. It has been a week since I last slept, banging out this book and now I grow tired. Maybe Iíll call him in the morning, I need sleep. 

    Lying down I stare out of my skyline at the vibrant stars under a Sierra sky, looking beyond the stars and through the nightmarish visions, trying to picture the face of peace. A serenity rests over me and now I feel that this will be my first night of rest since the inferno. I am grateful for that. Maybe there is something above and between the stars that cares. 



copyright 2004 Philip Reyth.

Philip Reyth is from Tucson, Arizona. Loves the desert and mountains, but not the million people. He now resides in a small town with his beautiful wife and two boys in the High Sierras in Nevada near Lake Tahoe. Oh, we can't forget their cat Shalom, he would never forgive us. The slower pace of life enables him to concentrate on his sole passion of writing. Taking it beyond just a hobby. He has published at least 15 poems and 13 short stories in Print & Web-zines. Both Pro & Non-pro publications. Some notable publications; The Pedestal Magazine's 'Political Anthology,' Simulacrum Magazine #7, Nth Degree Magazine #11. His goal is to publish his first Speculative Fiction novel of a trilogy. His ultimate goal is to make a film adaptation of his novels. To write the screenplay, direct and act in it. Philip would make a great villain. Here is his home page address that links all of his publications:

For correspondence with Philip, please e-mail to