So this is what I get for being hospitable.

I sat on the low concrete slab, palms pressed down behind me, the coarse surface icy against my hands. In front of me was half an acre of honey-colored dirt-sand mixture splotched with chocolate hues of mud, residuals from last night’s rainstorm. The clouds had thinned significantly since then, donning a lighter silvery finish, a kinder shade than that of yesterday’s dark, ashy grays. The boundary of this yard was a chain-linked fence set neatly with a perfect horizontal helix of razor wire on top, pristine from never having been disturbed once. The grade of steel seemed to resist any rust, or inmate resistance for that matter. At fifteen feet high, no one had ever dreamed of simply climbing out as an escape.

Still baffles me how I managed to land in prison. Two weeks ago, a drunk friend called me at 2 AM on a Friday night, asking for a couch to crash on for a few hours, to which I begrudgingly, regrettably, and stupidly accepted. By some miracle he stumbled his way to my place from the bar a sober ten minute walk away and showed up with a couple of his buddies, equally as intoxicated as he was. The younger of these idiots managed to leave his unregistered Glock at the toilet at the bar, and someone called the cops, who were able to trace him back to my apartment. In the entire city of Audia, it is illegal without question to not only have but even house anyone in possession of any of these three things: ultra-high potency anesthetics, opened alcohol containers without proof of purchase, and guess what, unregistered lethal weapons. It was the legislators’ shotgun attempt at combating the absurd crime rate.

These guys definitely had the first and last of the three offenses, as I witnessed one of the kids drunkenly attempt to stuff away his freshly emptied mini-syringe, what they refer to as a pocket rocket, back into his pants. Some sort of intense muscle relaxant that hits within seconds and is supposed to enhance your drunkenness into some state where you apparently feel like “your face and arms being massaged by the Hulk with Jello hands while having your feet soaking in a sage-menthol hot bath.” They probably would have had all three strikes if they weren’t such fast drinkers back at the bar. You can get convicted for so much as letting them breathe the air on your premises. The severity of my “crime” was just a slight dial down from that of these losers, so here I am, punished for being a nice guy. They’re lucky that the trio of them got tossed into another facility across town, presumably with higher fences and sharper wire, otherwise I would personally have transformed into the Hulk, gone over there, and beat them into Jello myself. Regardless, the conviction stood, no court required. They had evidence I sheltered them for no less than half an hour, and that was all it took to put me in a blue button up and karate shoes. Nothing to do now but pass time for the rest of my three weeks.

Part of my required community service at the facility included carrying a corrugated cardboard disk and fanning a mini windmill at my station with it. The spokes of the windmill consisted of some dark brass alloy, the color of which represented the mud patches of the yard, aged from years of usage. Something about producing gigawatts of power by the day by windmill mechanics in a city without so much as the slightest breeze, paying back the city with your own energy for wronging society. As such, they called this facility Windblower. The two other prisons in the city were known as Heatsink and Sweatlodge, and I can definitely say I am glad I did not end up in either of those two. Heatsink is self-explanatory. As for Sweatlodge, apparently some genius biochemist found a way to extract useful work from the nutrients in human sweat, and the results of his research publication were twisted into justifying the creation of a municipal stench farm.

I crouched down and picked my plate off the ground yet again, angry but consolably thankful that all I have to do is use my wrist to strum the instrument that is powering some Joe Schmoe’s treadmill at the gym. Maybe the city of Audia could use that guy’s drops of precious energy to help power an air conditioning unit for this sad facility.

My windmill acknowledged the forced air current and instantly began to rotate.