Gerard has been in prison and painfully awaiting the death sentence for five years but prison life is about to change for him...maybe he isn't so alone anymore
“926” I hear the butch security guard shout. I react to my new name. 926. I am nothing but a number in this place. I hear his heavy footsteps getting closer and I turn around, leaning my head back onto the cold cell bars, instinctively waiting for him to cuff me for my hours ‘outdoor time’ but all I feel is a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and look at him “Get your things, you’re moving to a shared cell”
I stand in shock for a while, staring at the guard in disbelief as he retreats to the wall behind him, leaning casually against it and folding his arms tightly. I kind of know I would be leaving for a shared cell sometime because this kindly old security guard always came by and told me to ‘keep up the good behaviour, you might get some perks’, I later learnt those ‘perks’ were a shared cell, though I thought I would have got some warning. I can’t really complain though, I’m moving to a bigger cell with actual human company, I don’t care who it is, at least I won’t be talking to myself for the rest of my life since I know I have no chance in hell of getting out, not after what I did.
Broken shards of glass fall at my feet as I place my hands carefully around the frame, starting to pull myself up and through, landing roughly on the carpet inside. I straighten up and take a look around, searching for goods that will soon be mine to sell. I tread lightly towards the cluttered coffee table and wrap my hands around the sides of a thin, expensive looking laptop. I twist it around to get a good look at it before sliding it into my bag. I start to tiptoe towards the hall when I hear footsteps from upstairs.
“Shit” I whisper to myself, the footsteps from upstairs getting heavier and louder as the homeowner slams down the stairs and into the living room, looking at me with slight fear in his eyes.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY HOUSE?!” He exclaims, edging slowly closer towards the phone on his left. I stutter and my thoughts go blurry as fear starts to run through my body, taking control of all my limbs and making them still. I just stand, frozen to the spot, watching on as the man grabs the phone and stabs 999 into his telephone. I struggle to think straight and I still have no control over my body. My hand reaches for the knife in my back pocket and I slowly edge towards the man who has turned away from me.
“Hello, police force pl-” His sentence is cut off by a deathly groan when I jam the knife into the back of his neck. I let go as he falls forward onto his knees, dropping the phone by his side and violently coughing up blood. He lands on his front as he struggles for his last breathe, choking on every air particle that he inhales. Before I know it, I am running towards the window and jumping up, not thinking of where to place my hands. I let out a cry of pain as the glass digs into the inside of my hand when I pull myself further up and throw myself out of the window.
“Yo, 926, get a move on, I haven’t got all day” The guard’s deep voice snaps me out of my thoughts and I realise I am in the same position, staring at nothing and have been for the past 5 minutes. I rub my hands over my face and run them through my hair roughly before dropping them to my sides and turning to look at my cramped cell. Although I have been confined to this shoe box for the past 5 years, stuck in here for hours on end every single day and being left to dream of ever leaving it behind, something about actually leaving still makes me kind of sad.
I grab the last of my few belongings and stand at the cell door, waiting patiently for it to be opened. Finally I hear rattle of keys and loud clanging of a heavy metal door being slid open and I step through, it feels weird. Usually when I leave my cell, I know I’ll return but today I won’t be. I find it so weird because I thought the day I’d be saying goodbye to this cell would be the day my death sentence finally came to the end and I would be executed.
I follow behind the guard, dragging my feet as I contemplate my feelings about moving into a shared cell. How can I trust my new room mate? I’ve never met him; I haven’t even been told who he is. For all I know he’ll…well, you know what they do to guys like me in prison. My head becomes clouded with questions I don’t know the answer to and my hands start to become clammy, I haven’t been nervous like this in a long time. You don’t really need to be in prison because you’re constantly watched; it’s unlikely anything would happen to you but you’re in a huge building full of violent murderers and sneaky thieves, you can’t trust anyone.
We get to the door which leads out of my building and the heat of the sun’s rays strikes me as it is much different from my cold, damp cell. I bring my hand up and hold it above my eyes to try and regain some focus since my eyes are no longer used to bright lights, the only light I have seen since I got here was the little bit that leaks through the high window across from my cell and intrudes through the gaps in between the metal bars. That and the light I see lingering among the shade of my caged outdoor area which I have spent only one hour in each day since my sentencing. I spend that time just sitting in the corner of the cage, taking in as much fresh air and as many of nature’s sounds as I can before I am sent back inside, though these sounds are often blocked by the rattling of the cage walls as basketballs bounce off of them and shouting from fellow inmates as they start yet another fight with their neighbour for staring at them.
I bring my hand down from my face as we step into the shade of the building I can now call home. My hands get sweatier than ever and my heart starts to race in my chest, I feel sick to my stomach. I have no idea who I am about to start sharing a cell with. Is he on Death Row too? What’s he in here for? Can he really be trusted? The guard yanks me inside as I realise I wasn’t moving, just standing in front of the door he was holding open and staring inside. I shuffle along and wait for him to lead me to my cell. We walk past 4 other cells and inside each one are two prisoners that look respectable. I find it strange how they aren’t shouting profanities at me as we walk past, some even smiled. This calms me somewhat; maybe my cell mate is like this too. The guard finally stops in front of a cell and opens the door, turning to me with a bored expression on his face.
“Welcome home” He says sarcastically, gesturing towards the cell behind him. I look in behind him and see a man sitting on a bed on the right side of the cell. He seems calm, just sitting a watching his hands intensely as he twiddles his thumbs. I notice his short black hair that is swept neatly to the side at the front and his arms that are covered in tattoos. The guard impatiently gestures towards the cell again, reminding me to go in. I slowly step in and the guard closes the cell door behind me, walking away without another word. My cellmate looks up at me and smiles warmly. I notice his nose and lip are both pierced and his eyes are a greenish-hazel colour. He stands up and he is much shorter than I imagined but he’s not too far off me. He walks towards me, sticking his hand out for me to shake. I place my box on the floor next to me and take his hand, shaking it lightly.
“Hi, I’m Frank” he says in a soft voice