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
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.
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