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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Police (10/12/06)

TITLE: Prisoner X9J7
By Debbie Sickler


“Prisoner X9J7, do you have any final words before your life is taken as punishment for your heinous crimes against mankind?” The voice crackled over the intercom and into X9J7’s soul. He had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Waiting, with anticipation.

“Y-yes ma’am, I would like to say somethin’ to everyone here and everyone listenin’ over the com link.” X9J7 lifted his chin confidently and stared through the one-way mirror concealing the witnesses there to view his death. “You all know me now as prisoner X9J7. My name is Thomas P. Jordan. Whatever you call me, I am not the man you arrested back in 2013. Not the same man at all…”

“Get in there you scumbag! Can’t wait to see you fry!” The guard had enjoyed being even more rough than usual, tossing a wild Tom Jordan into the tiny cell like you would dump a bucket of mop water down a drain. Tom picked himself up off the germ-infested floor and stood defiant, spitting in the guards face. The shock collar doubling him over in pain hadn’t even come close to making him regret it…

“When I was sentenced in your courts, I deserved everything I got. I’m truly sorry for the stuff I did. The lives I took. The spirits I crushed. The women I used for my pleasures. All of it. I was guilty of everything your prosecutors claimed. But I tell you, I stand here before you today innocent of any wrong doing.”

Behind the mirror, witnesses were appalled at X9J7’s words. They were his victims and the loved ones of those who had been tortured, raped and killed by this prisoner who now had the audacity to stand before them, proclaiming his innocence.

“Flip the switch now!” “I’ll kill him!” and expletives flew across the room at the prison official.

“Settle down people. He has the right to speak. We’ll nuke him in a minute. Don’t worry. He’s not going anywhere.” The guard patted the weapon at his side both as a reassurance and a mild threat to the riotous group…

“How are you doing today Tommy?” The kind voice of Officer Sounders startled X9J7 as he slept on his lumpy bunk. He rolled over to greet his visitor.

“Oh hey man. You back on duty already? I’m okay, I guess. Could be better if I was on that side of the force shield with you, but I’m doing alright.” The aging man sat down in his usual spot with a slight chuckle. Tom swung his legs over the bed to sit up and receive his morning rations through a narrow slot in the shield.

“Did you finish the text tablets I lent you last week?”

“Uh, yeah. Got ‘em right here.” Tom reached under his sleep mat and retrieved the tablets. Handing them through the food slot, he smiled gratefully. “That last one was pretty good. Never knew history was so interestin’ before.”

“Tommy, these texts are far more than just a history lesson. Sure Jesus was a man who lived many centuries ago, but he’s still alive today.”

“And I thought my ma was old.” Tom joked as he began his meal.

“Tommy, He’s not here in the physical sense anymore; He’s up in Heaven, but He’d like to live within each of our hearts. Don’t you remember when I explained all this last time?”

“Yeah man. I’s just messin’ with you. That’s all. I think I get what you’re sayin’. Still seems crazy to me though…”

“That day, I became a free man. Free of guilt, of shame, free of all that stuff. Officer Sounders made me realize that God hates everything I did that got me into this mess, but He already paid my way out by giving up His son in my place.

“I thank God for letting me get caught and for sending a man of faith as great as Officer Sounders to show me the way to salvation. Now you can kill my body today, but my soul was set free a long time ago. I know where I’m goin’ and I can’t wait.”

The room behind the mirror was silent as the guard proceeded and prisoner X9J7 drew his last breath.

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This article has been read 961 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Eno10/19/06
I enjoyed the story...especially the ending. But the flashback was confusing. There was no indication other than [...] that you were switching gears.
Marilyn Schnepp 10/19/06
Police and Correctional Officers are two very different law enforcement agencies. Police arrest 'em and Prison Guards (now called Correctional Officers), take care of 'em. Criminals, that is. A mite picky perhaps, but I've already read three entries about Correctional Officers; and I guess the public sees them as one in the same. Good story with great message here. Nice job, and an interesting read.
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/19/06
Great story! I figured out the flash-backs, but they may have been more clear if you did them in italics. I like the line about him being innocent now.
Donna Haug10/21/06
Ditto with the other comments. Some kind of separation for the flashbacks would have helped. But thank God for forgiveness that's even bigger then the biggest crimes.
william price10/23/06
I liked your story's concept. And you told it well. I too had a lil trouble w/ the flashbacks, but even if that was fixed I would have to say the story lacked a little depth at times. Meaning, I didn't feel the condemned man's remorse, or gratitude for God's saving grace. You said the right things, it just didn't minister to me. I only mention all of this to you because you are a talented writer, for sure, on the verge of all you have ever wanted to accomplish with your gift. If I didn't think so, I would just say, 'nice job' and move on. So, I just want to encourage you to develope the emotions you want the reader to feel a little more. God bless, and Pm me if you want.
Jan Ackerson 10/24/06
I really like the idea of the converted criminal, and you gave him a distinct and real personality. I'm unclear on why it's set in the future...it seems unnecessary here. Or, if you really want to keep it in the future, make future-y stuff play into the story more.

I'll give this one a second read--it's entirely possible that I missed something. The flashbacks didn't throw me a bit, I thought they were well done. The writing is very compelling.
Sara Harricharan 10/25/06
Very, very VIVID. This was a great story, and you told it very well. Good job! Prisoner X9J7 was a realistic character.
Peggy Bennitt10/25/06
"And there but for the grace of God, go I." Well done! A very potent reminder that we all have great sins laid at our feet, and great forgiveness from our Savior, who already paid the ultimate price. Well done!!
Donna Powers 10/25/06
A good story and I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing it.
Cassie Memmer10/26/06
You may not think this is one of your best, but it's very good. I liked the futuristic elements such as the shock collar, force shield rather than bars, but I had to wonder about the text tablets. At first I thought it was a pill to take that would give you knowledge, rather than having to read! LOL! Wouldn't that be great? I enjoyed reading this. And I'm thankful that this story does happen today in prisons- prisoners coming to the Lord, I mean. Good job!