I know every millimetre of this room.
It is precisely three metres by three metres by three. There are exactly 4,300 pale green tiles on the walls and ceiling.
I know because I’ve counted them.
The carpet is a utilitarian grey apart from a mysterious irregularly-shaped brown stain in one corner that was here before I came. I’ve often wondered about that stain over the years: where did it come from? Who made it? What made it, come to that? I guess I shall never know but it amuses me to speculate sometimes in the wee small hours when sleep won’t come.
Apart from myself, there are four objects of note in the room. On the wall opposite the bed hangs a 3dTV, tuneable to any channel except one with anything worth watching. In the corner there is the sanitary cubicle, about which nothing more need be said. Along one wall is my bed which during the day can be folded up into a chair and table unit – it’s a most ingenious design, I must say.
In the other corner sits the Food Replicator, a voice-activated dispenser of any dish you heart could desire - all synthesised from the recycled atoms of, well, you really don’t want to know. This particular unit has just been upgraded today to the new CopyRight 2000 model. When I say new, I mean new to us here at Evington Maximum Security Psychiatric Institute – everyone else in the world has been enjoying this particular product of the MakroTek Corporation for at least a year already. They tell me the food will be so much better from now on.
I know it will be.
Do you know that there is a crime on the statute books that a person cannot actually deliberately set out to commit? There is, and I’m a guest here at Hotel Evington because of it. Attempted murder is what was printed on my charge sheet, and of which I was unanimously found guilty by the twelve ‘good men and true’ who sat on the jury.
Attempted murder - what a stupid, ignominious charge! It says: here is someone who couldn’t even commit a crime properly, a failure, a screw-up, a loser.
Society hates losers.
Given a little more time and a little less bad luck I would have succeeded in killing Mr Kevin Bloom, instead of merely attempting to. If his secretary had not come in when she did...
He had it coming.
Three times he passed me over for promotion in favour of his little pets. Three times! Now, you may say that getting passed over at work is a rather petty reason for killing someone but that wasn’t all – not by a long way.
He was having my house watched and my phones tapped. I know he was.
There was this old woman who just happened to move in opposite me and she kept looking out the window at me every time I came and went - writing it all down for Bloom, I’m sure. She denied it, of course, every time I asked her about it. I know she was lying.
Neighbourhood Watch, my eye!
I know the phones were bugged because of the little hint of delay on the line whenever I spoke – that little trace of echo. It’s a telltale sign. I read that somewhere.
In court, the phone company representative testified that there had been a minor fault on my phone line over the three weeks leading up to my attempting to bash out Bloom’s brains with a computer monitor. This was the cause of the faint echo, he said.
Imagine the power Bloom must have wielded to get the phone company to lie like that – under oath and everything.
He had it coming all right.
I was the best Software Engineer MakroTek had and he knew it. Okay, so maybe I didn’t suck up to him like the others. So maybe I didn’t socialise with the team after work. So what? If you’ve spent your whole day working with morons and arse-lickers, you wouldn’t want to waste your valuable time socialising with them out-of-hours, would you?
I had better things to do. I had plans to make - long-term plans which, if I’m not mistaken, are just about to pay off big-style.
I have now served five years, four months, thirteen days, seven hours and sixteen minutes of the Life sentence they handed down – not that I’m counting or anything, you understand.
I think Life was a little harsh given that I didn’t actually kill Bloom, but the court-appointed shrink said I was ‘delusional and given to episodes of paranoia’. I was, apparently, incurable and ‘likely to remain a danger to the public’.
I did explain that I was only a danger to Mr Kevin Bloom, but this did not seem to cut any ice with the judge, and so here I am in my three-by-three-by-three room with my mysterious brown stain.
And, of course, my new CopyRight 2000 Food Replicator.
Let’s see now. There are over three million lines of code controlling this baby.
I know because I’ve counted them.
In fact, I wrote most of them. Three million-plus lines. There’s no way they can have checked all of them, even if they wanted to - which I doubt they would since the CopyRight 2000 project was going to be seriously delayed now that its best Software Engineer had just been hauled away for performing a little cranial reconfiguration on the Project Manager.
It’s taken MakroTek four years to get the CopyRight 2000 into production and an extra year for the Prison Service to have one installed here.
Five years you’ve kept me waiting, you bastards.
‘Give me an aardvark sandwich.’ I hear my voice say.
I look down at what the machine has produced for me. Spot on.
They really should have taken the time to check the code – especially if the CopyRight 2000 was going to be installed in places like this, where who-knows-what crazy thing might be asked of it.
I wrote the Aardvark Sandwich algorithm never thinking I’d have to use it. It was only a just-in-case kind of thing. Paranoid Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance, as they say.
The MakroTek Corporation guarantees that the CopyRight 2000 will only ever produce food and nothing else. Boy, are they going to have some lawsuits on their hands.
I’m going to hide my "sandwich" under the mattress out of sight. Let me just make sure the safety catch is on: we don’t want any negligent discharges, do we?
Tonight is Prisoner Association – a whole hour where each crazy can get together with all the other crazies in this place. There are some real head-cases in here, you know. Serial killers, rapists, you name it.
I bet most of them will be just crazy enough to try an aardvark sandwich.