This setting is the State prison in which Phin will find himself twice during the story
Role in Story: Phineas will be put in The State prison twice during the story. The first time he will start out in a general cell, but then be transferred to solitary confinement. The prison is a place for anyone the State deems may be breaking a law, whether it is a law that is on the books or one made up on the spot. The prison is used to detain anyone who is thought to be working against The State, no matter their circumstances.
Related Characters: Phineas Cavendish, Carby Gorse, Guards: Lott, Mudd and Saxby, Chadwick McGovern, Charle Gartwaithe, Detectives: Hollings Bettingfield and Percival Sedgewick
Season: It is always winter within the prison. It is always cold. The metal is cold. The concrete is cold. There is little else that could ever be warmed. While there are really no seasons in all of Capercairn, there are certainly no seasons in the prison. The inmates never see natural light the entire time they are incarcerated. When they go to solitary confinement, there is only one spot of light that comes in from a peephole in the door. Seasons do not exist in the State’s prison.
Unique Features: The prison has four sets of walls around it. Within the first set it a team of mechanical patrol animals. They are part dog, part feline. They have great speed and incredible sight and hearing. They have night vision and are capable of pinning and ripping apart a human being.
Within another set of walls is a quicksand like material. With no purchase on the interior wall, a drop in between these walls would be a sure death.
The outer most space between the walls is patrolled by human guards. At any given time, there is only one guard on each of the four sides of the prison.
Description: The prison has four separate wings with a large commons area in the middle of the bottom floor. This is where inmates eat and where they can interact when the prison is not on lock down. However, the prison is usually on lock down - often for no discernible reason. There are bars over every cell, of course, and a larger, thicker set that comes down from the ceiling to cover each set of six cells in each row. Within the cell there is a metal commode and sink. The first floor has concrete bunks, but the upper floors have metal-framed beds. All have very thin mattresses that smell of the stench of all the men who have slept on them before. Each bunk has a pillow - most of which have lost stuffing to the rats, and a thin, ragged blanket that have also lost much of their heft to rodents that infest the prison. There is no commissary in the prison, which is fine with the inmates. Rats and mice would eat any left over food before the men would be able to. There is little privacy in the prison and blinding gas lights are illuminated at odd hours, simply to check on the whereabouts of each inmate.
Sights: The men are all dressed in gray. Their pants are mostly too long and their shirts torn and tattered. They wear boots, in order to be able to work at a moment’s notice. But the boots do not have laces. They are mechanically fastened together. The men are unable to take them off without a key from the guard. They are allowed to sleep without their boots on only one night per week.
The lights are dim, other than when the gas floods are tripped. The walls are drab, and many of the bars show surface rust. Many a man has tried to test their strength, however, and they still hold. The metal beds, commodes and sinks are rusted in areas also. Each stained, stripped mattress has one drab dark blue blanket with holes from mice and rats, who cannot get enough to eat - just as the men cannot. Most of the men who have been held for months are emaciated. Many with sentences over a year have died in prison - although most men have no idea when they will be released.
The guards are neatly dressed in military-style uniforms. Their boots are polished to an impossible shine and their shirts heavily starched. Each carries a hand gun as well as a powerful rifle that shoots electric beams when triggered. The rifles can be set at different levels, but most of those levels cause death, regardless.
At 0900 hours, more bars are deployed from the overhang of each floor. Each set of retractable bars covers six cells in a row. These bars are electrified. Touching them for any length of time will cause death. These bars are also put in place during various lock downs, which happen on a daily basis, seemingly at the whim of the prison master.
Inmates are often sent to their death at the prison, some of them without a sentence. During those times, the lights are dimmed so the entire prison body understands that the prison master will do as he pleases. He uses these executions to keep order, he tells himself.
Sounds: The sounds of men moaning echo through the prison. Those who have been housed here for a while are mostly sick and dying. Many are dying of malnutrition or dehydration. The deafening clanging of bars as inmates come and go are always followed by screams as they are taken to a special room in the lower level and tortured. They may come back to their cell without fingernails, with burns across their bodies, or with whip marks covering their back.
On those few occasions where the inmates are allowed to eat or interact in the commons area, there is little new noise. The clinking of metal as the men attempt to scoop food from their metal plates with a metal cup, after emptying the vile liquid the guards call water. The inmates are never offered silverware.
When inmates are allowed to interact, there is muffled talk and some men walk around the perimeter, their boots shuffling along the cold concrete. The clank of checkers being jumped on a metal board could be heard from time to time, but any raucous games were quickly subdued and all of the inmates sent back to their cells.
Smells: The prison smells mostly of human excrement and vomit. The commodes often do not flush and, after a fashion, some men have gone mad and not so much as attempted to use the facilities to relieve themselves. During meal times, the smell of the sickening slop mingles with the other odors, making the sorry excuse for food even less palatable. It smells like a mix of broccoli that has gone bad and fish left in the sun for two days too many. The hard bread given at one meal per day is the only thing that does not smell, yet the rats always find it when it is left somewhere. Even the rats have a foul smell in the prison, as if they had traveled through the very sewer system itself. Overall, there is a smell of decay and rot. Many inmates who have been tortured have injuries that have become infected. They are not treated but left to fester and take over the bodies they inhabit.