The guard jerked one thumb over his shoulder. “And, last sight on this free tour of your new home: Morag. This guy’s gonna be around forever.”
I stared through the bars at my fellow inmate, dressed in an orange jumpsuit identical to mine. He looked like an ordinary enough fellow, maybe in his late forties, bronze skin and dark hair. He had been lying on his bed when we had approached, but now jumped up, peering out the bars at me with interest.
I glanced over at the screw, standing next to me with one hand resting on the pistol on his belt. “What, like a life sentence?”
The guard shook his head. A moment later, he nodded. “Well, yeah. But that’s what makes it so goddamned hilarious.”
The confusion must have been evident on my face. “Here, I’ll show ya,” the guard said, correctly reading my lack of understanding. “Stand back, prisoner.” And in a swift gesture, he drew his firearm!
I jumped back, but the guard was focused on the prisoner. He raised the gun, shoved it between the bars, and before Morag could respond, pulled the trigger.
The sound of the gun echoed like a crack of thunder in the confined concrete space. Morag staggered back, both hands pressed over the hole in his abdomen that was already gushing blood. He hit the back wall and slumped down to the floor, leaving a smear of redness across the back of his cell.
“Oh my god!” I screamed. “What the hell are you doing??”
The guard chuckled, re-holstering his weapon. “Look,” he said, pointing into the cell. And as I followed his finger, my eyes wide with shock, I saw Morag stagger back to his feet, straighten up, and then brush himself off as if nothing had happened!
The guard laughed, but his tone was mocking, edged with bitterness. “The idiot’s immortal. Nobody knows how, but he can’t be killed. Heals from anything. But he still managed to get himself convicted of multiple manslaughter – life sentence, no chance at parole. He’s gonna be stuck in here forever.”
Still laughing, the guard started heading back down the hallway. I held back for a moment, however, staring at Morag. He gave a jaunty little wave to the guard, and then smiled back at me.
“God, that’s horrible,” I whispered aloud, gazing at the man in the cell and imagined being imprisoned, forever, until the end of time.
Morag shrugged a shoulder. “I’m looking on the bright side,” he offered. “I still get some news in here. And humanity’s going to make itself extinct in the next few centuries, no doubt. A couple hundred more years, and this place will have fallen apart enough for me to get out. I’ll be free in under a millennium.”
“Convict!” the guard shouted, and I had to hurry away without a response. But I couldn’t help glancing back over my shoulder, my mind awash in confusing thoughts.