A window into reverse solitary confinement
|I know what you’re thinking, but don’t go jumping to conclusions like I did. First impressions can be misleading, “The Empty Room” is not the walk in the park it appears. Why should it be? Isn’t that the whole point of punishment? I mean, what’s the point of rewarding criminals with five star accommodations, whilst their luckless victims are left to die in the gutter?
But maybe that’s just me. Perhaps over the course of the past whatever period of time, I may have developed what some may describe as a rightwing redneck views. Yeah, now there’s one for the books- a degenerate scoundrel from the Tunnel Web Gang spouting off about the merits of law and order.
So, you may ask, what is so bad about The Empty Room? Look around and tell me what do you see? A large windowless gymnasium, you say. What's so bad about that? Well take a closer look. Note the absence of furniture, save the dilapidated desk and wobbly chair where I am presently seated…oh yes, and the single bed in the far corner.
Look at the walls. Not a scrap of wallpaper to distract you from the bland nothingness. You’re on your own. No TV. No Music, but you can have various books sent to you if you so wish. So far I have read fourteen novels and have just started re-reading Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup.
A tray slips through a slot in the sealed door three times a day, once for breakfast, then lunch and finally dinner. Alcoholic beverages and smoking are strictly banned from The Empty Room. They don’t even serve coffee, only Fruit-juice, tea, Milo or water. Failing that you can pout and die of thirst.
There are no clocks here and your watch is confiscated before you enter so time has a way of standing still. The lights turn off automatically when it is time for sleep and flick on again just before breakfast. I’ve lost count of the days and not sure how long I have been here, or how long I have until my release.
If you bothered to check my criminal record you’d note that I am no stranger to incarceration, in fact one of my earliest childhood memories involves being banished to my room. Serving time behind bars is one of those prerequisites for being accepted into the Tunnel Webs.
In hindsight stabbing the warden may have been an over-reaction when idle threats would have sufficed. But that is academic now. Can’t change the past you know. Anyway it gave the screws the opportunity to test drive this vast solitary complex, so to speak. I’m their guinea pig. My predicament is meant to serve as an example/warning to other prisoners that may harbour similar malevolent ambitions. They're seeking funding for a much larger institution. A multistory complex, housing similar Empty rooms, one on each floor.
So the big question is, has this experience helped me see the error of my ways? I’ve had ample time to reflect on my transgression, to form some sort of conclusion without distraction. There’s no doubt that I have chilled out a little since being put in here, but as they say a leopard seldom changes his spots. I have my doubts that they want me, or any of the prisoners to reform.
After all what’s the use in constructing a multimillion-dollar facility if there are no transgressors to house?