Welcome Home



Scene Title Welcome Home
Synopsis Django Reed awakens and finds himself in Hell.
Date March 14, 2009

Moab Federal Penitentiary

It's like a nightmare, in places; a dreamless, black sleep.

They say this might be what dying is like.

But Django Reed isn't dying, at least not today.

In the black, empty void of unconsciousness are moments of weightlessness, moments of blurry half-consciousness that brings with it fleeting and muffled sounds of conversation, distorted half-words like the sound of listening to people speak while submerged underwater. Lights pass before vaseline-blurry eyes, sounds bounce off of ears that can hardly conceptualize sound, skin is numb and prickling, everything seems blunted, dull and cold.

Is this what dying is like?

If that's so, then what eventually came after the cold, numb emptiness must be what it is like to wake up in hell.

"…ean Reed, born August 17th, 1983." The voice is unfamiliar, coming through what feels like ever increasing waves of heat amidst a pitch-blackness. The air is thick, suffocatingly so, rough cloth brushes over damp lips and sweat stings eyes that are open to see nothing but black.

"Father is Michael Reed, mother Jelena Andreyev." The voice sounds hollow, like some booming cry coming out from a deep, Tarterian pit in some fabled circle of hell fit for a poet and not a criminal. As the five senses begin to come back to varying degrees of groggy, drunken stupor, Django can feel a hot and dull ache beneath the right side of his jaw, the kind of pain like a knife wound would give. "Serial number: zero, zero, zero, zero, one, seven, seven." The voice comes into sharper clarity as Django's hearing has less of a hum to it, less of the incessant ringing of tinnitus from whatever rendered him unconscious. A whole new world of pains greet him as his mind begins to come back into working order; aches and stiffness, soreness that makes it feel as though he's been laying on his back for too many hours.

"Sentence, indefinite." Now Django can hear both the static crackling quality of the voice, loud not because of some supernatural authority but because the volume is cranked on what sounds like old speakers. He can feel the cloth of a hood brushing across his face, feel the cold of handcuffs around his wrists, and feel a dull, throbbing pain in the back of his head.

Soon, all of this comes to an even sharper focus, as the cloth hood is pulled from his head, exposing his face to wavering lines of heat from four intensely burning cooking lamps situated into a concrete ceiling. When the hood hits the floor, Django's eyes focus to see his own sweat-streaked reflection in a mirror, restrained to a chair bolted to the concrete floor. He can catch for a moment, the dark silhouette of someone receeding away from where he's seated, and the sliding slam of an iron door.

Then only the crackling sound of a voice coming through the floor to ceiling mirror in front of him.

"Are you a member of a pro-evolved extremist group, Mister Reed?" The voice asks with its crackling intensity amid the suffocating waves of heat, like sitting in a brick oven. Orange floods Django's lower periphery, an orange prison jumpsuit stenciled with his name and a serial number beneath that.

Is this what waking up in Hell would be like?

As the hood is pulled free, wavering vision no longer obfuscated by the rough cloth, Django recoils visibly from the light, squeezing his eyelids shut against that harsh glare. It doesn't help. Even closed eyes are blinded by the bombardment, and it takes him several minutes before he can finally blink them open, just barely open. The lights are too bright, the sounds are all too loud, and his head is still pounding like a drum. A too-dry tongue emerges to lick cracked, sweat-drenched lips in a futile gesture.

Unconsciously, he tries to raise a hand to shade his face, but the cuffs bite his wrists, reminding him of their presence. "Wha—" A dry throat rewards his efforts to speak with a painful, rasping cough that only further aggravates the pain in his head. God damn that hurts. What the hell hit him?

Slowly, the memories come bubbling back up out of the dizzying black. Memories of the robbery, of the dark-skinned woman that… What did she do? He tried to run, and she— well, she hit him from behind. It must have knocked him out, because he doesn't remember anything after that.

"…what the hell are you talking about?" he finally manages to choke out, his voice hoarse and quiet. "Are you calling me a terrorist? Fuck, why would I truck with those whack-jobs? That's a one way ticket to…"

To where, Django? Right the fuck here, that's where. Way to go.

"Look, I didn't mean to hurt no one. I just needed some cash. I was starving, had rent to pay. She's alright, ain't she?" It's an honest question, he can't remember. She must not be too bad off, though, if she could take him down. "Just because I'm Evolved don't mean—" By the time his words reach his own ears, it's too late to retract them, and the realization freezes his jaw and makes his tongue catch in his throat. Oh no. Oh god no. He's heard stories, rumors about what they do with Evolved criminals. If they know…

But something tells him he should go on, that this is the right thing to do; he should tell them the truth, come clean. Not his own thoughts, no, but the lingering traces of Nalani's suggestion, still imprinted on his subconscious and filtering through to his weakened mind. "Don't mean I wanna hurt nobody," he continues, finally. "I ain't a 'Pro-Evolved Terrorist', but I can't blame the ones that are. I'm just a guy. So I'm a little different, so I got powers, that mean I deserve to be treated like an animal? I gotta go fill out papers at the sheriff's office like a rapist 'cause I got weird genetics? That's some crazy Nazi bullshit." He pauses to clear his throat, licks his lips again.

Can I get a glass of water?"

"You're here because you are a menace to society, Mister Django, and your ability makes you a danger to society."

The heat lamps glow brighter, turning from yellow to a deep, baked shade of orange. Rippling waves of heat emanate off of the concrete walls, and all he can see is his own muted reflection in the dark mirror. "//You will be incarcerated here until we can be sure that you are not a dnager to yourself or society at large, and perhaps with proper rehabilitation you may be released back into society, and allowed to have your ability again." Allowed?

"But all of this hinges on your ability to cooperate. Mister Reed. Are you now or have you ever harbored sentiments in agreement with Pro-Evolved Terrorist organizations such as PARIAH or Phoenix?" The voice is stern and authoritative, just as before, "Were you a part of or involved in the destruction of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on January 28th 2009?" None of this makes any sense, none of these questions seem relevant.

No glass of water, either.

Allowed? The promise of incarceration makes his blood run cold, even in the sweltering heat of the light-filled cell, but it's that other word that rings in his head. Allowed. Allowed to have your ability again. What does that mean? Can they just take it away? Flip a switch and it's off? Django's mind races, and reflexively he reaches for the ability that landed him in all this mess to begin with, lashing out to break the cuffs that bind his wrists behind him. And nothing happens, other than maybe the ache in his head growing more intense for a moment. For the first time in years, he feels trapped. Totally and utterly trapped, locked in this hotbox with no way out. The last of his weary delirium burns away in his panic, and he struggles in his chair until the throbbing in his skull forces him to be still again.

"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about," he gasps, on the verge of sobbing. "I told you, I'm not a terrorist. Terrorists end up dead, or worse, in here. I was against the god damn… damn Linderman Act, 'cause I had a record, but I never made no trouble over it. I never blew nothin' up or shot anybody or any of that shit. Just steal things now and then so I can eat." Tears begin to stream down his cheeks, invisible among the sweat that already drips from his skin, and his voice wavers, chokes. "Never wanted nothin' more than to survive," he stammers, almost inaudible, and lets his head drop to stare at his lap, silent but for his breathing.

He is rewarded with darkness.

Cold, sudden darkness as the heat lamps all turn off, drowning the room in shadows as suffocating as the heat once was. "Thank you Mister Django, your cooperation will be remembered." For a while, for a long while, it seems like this is where the road ends for one man, along in the dark strapped to a chair, yearning for the heat that once permeated the cell. It's a simple mental engineering; make a prisoner hate something until they become comfortable with it, then take it away and suddenly they crave the familiarity.

But the lights don't come back on. Instead, the steel door to the cell cracks open with a wrenching of metal and a hiss of hydraulic pistons. Several comping footfalls come in behind where Django is bound to the chair, murmuring conversation going quiet as an authoratative voice that does not match the one that came from the speakers. "I'm going to unlock your handcuffs, when I do, stand up from the chair and place your hands behind your head. Failure to comply will result in application of a taser."

This is what it's come to?

The lights click off, and Django just shuts his eyes against the dark, resisting the urge to shiver in what he perceives as an abrupt chill. Without the buzz from the lamps, his sobbing, broken breaths seem far too loud, echoing off the walls and right back at him, as if the room itself were mocking his grief. After so long trying to stay under the radar, fighting to stay out of prison, dodging the government and the cops for years, all he's managed to do is land himself in the worst prison of them all.

The one he can never get out of.

The only hope he has left is that, if he plays along, cooperates with them and plays teacher's pet, maybe they'll eventually let him out on good behavior. Fat chance. That tinny voice from the speaker repeats itself in his head, words heard in the darkness before he woke up to this nightmare. Sentence Indefinite. And with only those two words, his hope is quelled, and his world falls apart.

When the door opens, he doesn't bother to look up. He remains perfectly still as the others move into the room, invading his private little hell. Their instructions earn no reply from the man in the chair, chin against his chest, even his breathing gone quiet now.

Better get used to it, Django, you could be here for a Very. Long. Time.

Hauled up from the chair once the cuffs come off, Django's arms are brought forcibly behind his back as he is re-shackled and spun around by the two guards manhandling him. He's leg out arm-in-arm by the two security guards to a group of six more waiting at the cell door. There's no natural light here, just flickering fluorescent lamps and a stripe of dark red paint running along the middle of the concrete walls.

The journey Django is brought on isn't a silent one, however, as an older man with a coarse Texas accent begins describing where he is, and what he's doing here. "This is the Moab Federal Penitentiary in Moab Utah," Utah. "federal prison specializing in Evolved detainees. We are currently three floors below the ground on Red Level, this is like solitary confinement with an attitude, boy."

While the warden talks, Django is led to an elevator, escorted by the two armed guards. "Six AM you will receive your mandatory injection, if you refuse this injection you will be detained down in solitary on Red Level and your privileges will be stripped from you." The old Texan moves into the elevator, pressing a large green button that sends the doors sliding shut. "Six thirty is breakfast, followed by morning exercise in the public yard, should you choose to partake in them. Eight o'clock male prisoners return to their cells. Eleven o'clock is lunch, eleven thirty is afternoon recreation." The elevator slowly ascends three floors, until everything comes to a lurching stop and the doors slide open, revealing an identical concrete hall with a green painted stripe mid-way up.

"From eleven thirty to three thirty all inmates may remain in the recreation yard should they wish. Any violence on the yard loses your yard privileges for two days, a second strike loses them for five days, and a third strike finds you down on Red Level indefinitely."

Dragged out of the elevator, Django is led up a flight of iron stairs to a second floor balcony with iron cell doors marked with stenciled numbers. "Your cell is equipped with a private shower, you do not have a bunkmate, and religious services can be afforded to your closed-circuit television should you request them. Prison materials officer will come by later to detail policy on writing implements," below this railing-lined balcony, other prisoners are being led to matching cells on the floor below, some men, some woman, both in the same facility.

"If you have a medical emergency, a doctor is on hand." The guards stop by a door marked 0000177, the same number the voice spoke out, the same number printed on Django's jumpsuit.

One door slides back with the wave of a magnetic lock, sliding open on hydralic hinges, giving way to a second barred door beyond a small vestibule leading into the cell. "Welcome home, Mister Reed."

March 14th: Enter Toad-Girl

Previously in this storyline…
Smack My Bitch Up

Next in this storyline…
The New Girl in Town

March 14th: Sounding Boards
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