by Chris W.
The dawn mist burned off as the pinkish clouds gave way to a brilliant morning sun. Heat began to rise from the rocks and sand, and, at nine-thirty, the thermometer was already pushing 100 degrees. Another scorcher was on the horizon.
Oh, well, Squeaks thought. Just another day in Mexizona.
It wasn’t his first time at this particular facility, although it was the first time he wasn’t a guest of the Federated States penal system.
I never seen it from the outside before.
Squeaks was a dumpy man, by any definition. All of the latest health trends seemed to pass him by, and his lifestyle was…well, was not sanctioned by the government’s Health and Appearance guidelines. In the old days, he would have been known as “The Ugly American.”
As prisons go, Mexizona was brutal. Two hundred years old, it was built on both sides of the former U.S./Mexican border, shortly after Mexico was annexed. Thirty years ago, the old style centric-energy fence was replaced by a fifty foot bio-sensing disrupter wall around the entire perimeter. That, combined with being surrounded by some of the roughest terrain and hottest desert land in the world, meant escape had always been deemed near-impossible.
Over the decades, the facility kept growing. With more prisoners came the need for additions. Now, the Mexizona Prison Zone, as it had been dubbed, covered over five thousand square miles, and housed over one million prisoners. In a sense, it had become its own country.
Because of the level of security at this facility, some of the worst of the world’s criminals had been incarcerated here.
Ivan Rojensky, the Russian militant who blew up a hotel where the World Trade Conference was being held. Six hundred and twelve dead, including over one hundred world leaders.
Dann “The Blade” Lipschitz. He slit the necks of eighty-three random citizens before the police caught up with him.
Karin Bradford, the woman who seduced the President and embezzled seven billion credits from the global bank before being tripped up by the Internal Revenue Service on a technicality. Damn I.R.S….the only agency to survive the switch to the World Federated States government.
And then there’s Jonny. Squeak’s best friend and partner. Jonny was the greatest thief he ever knew. He could sneak through the best security systems, crack any neuro-safe, and launder any amount of credits. He was the kind of crook that crooks looked up to. And, he always looked out for Squeaks. Except for the last thirty-nine months and six days, that is.
Today was the day Jonny got out.
The wait at the North Gate seemed unbearable. He didn’t know what part of the prison Jonny had been in, but it could have taken hours just to transport him here. That’s okay, seeing the look of surprise in his eyes when those doors open would be worth the wait to Squeaks.
It should be noted that Squeaks (Arthur to his mother) was given that nickname by Jonny himself due to the high pitched tone of his voice. He hated the name at first, but whenever his friend said it out loud, it almost sounded like music!
“Squeaks!” Jonny would say. “Get me my lunch!”
“Squeaks! Get me a drink!”
“Squeaks! Get me a mouthpiece!”
Ahhh…music to his ears.
He smiled at the sound of his name.
“Squeaks! Wake up, you idiot!”
He jostled out of his daydream. That last time wasn’t in his head…it was Jonny in the flesh!
The older criminal walked through the gates, and into freedom. He grunted as he passed the guard, and said something that sounded like “See you in hell, Fat boy.”
Squeaks ran up to his buddy, oozing with the excitement of seeing his friend for the first time in over three years.
“Jonny! Oh, Jonny, it’s good to see ya!”
He threw his arms around the jailbird, and lifted him in the air. A great feat, because Jonny was a large man. Six-foot three, and two hundred fifty pounds. He also avoided, with vigor, society’s view on healthy living.
He shoved his exuberant friend back.
“Hey! Watch it. You’re wrinklin’ the new threads.”
Squeaks stepped back and admired the prison issued suit they gave Jonny.
“Oh, Jonny. That’s a nice suit. It’s the best one yet!”
“That’s right, it is.” He straightened his lapel. “Now, where’s your ride? We’ve got business.”
A quizzical look came over Squeak’s face.
“Business? But Jonny, you just got out. You promised your mother…”
“Promised nuthin. I got a tip, and we gotta act on it…fast!”
“A tip? In prison? Oh, Jonny…” Disappointment thick in his voice.
“Don’t ‘oh Jonny’ me, Squeaks. Get the ride!”
Now, that was the Jonny he knew and loved.