“Nicholas Umbra, you stand accused of the murders of two people, the theft of thousands of dollars in cash and valuables, breaking and entering, and a myriad of minor offensive outlined on page seven of the outlined charges against you. If found guilty you will face six life sentences for your recent and pass crimes, how do you plead?” The judge looked down on me with disgust as she awaited my reply. I stood up straight next to a defense lawyer who shook like a rattle as he held back the urge to soil himself out of fear.
To you I raise an eyebrow, as our audience follows my gaze in confusion, their inability to perceive you once again causing waves of doubt, confusion and fear to overtake them. “I plead guilty to all charges!” I shout back at the judge as I drop my recently escaped shackles on the table in front of me and make my way towards the exit. “Please hurry up! I don’t want to waste the rest of this week listening to the inane prattle of this ostensible legal system” I checked my new watch, or I should say my lawyer’s old watch, as a gaggle of grouchy guards surged after me.
“Not so fast Mr. Umbras! We are not done here as of yet!” The judge howled from her perch.
I spun on my heel to face the judge, spooking the guards into pulling their weapons and aiming them at my chest. “You may not be finished yet my dear aunt!” I shot back to the gasps and perplexed looks of my audience. “But as for me, I would rather be drawn behind a horse through fecal matter to be quartered than spend another second breathing the same air as the pitiful excuses for life that dare to judge me!”
My lawyer raised his hand nervously, then stuttered “Um, yo-your honour? As the d-defendant has already admitted to being guilty than if it pleases both him and the court we can in theory continue without him?”
My aunt, who’s attention had momentarily fallen upon my advocate, returned her attention to me with a look of profound disgust and disappointment, “Take my joke of a nephew to a holding cell and let’s get on with this!”
As the guards holstered their weapons and advanced forward once more I twisted my orientation back towards the exit as I pouted, “I know the way you imbeciles!” As the doors closed behind me I heard a roar of conversation erupt in the court room followed promptly by a gavel beating an innocent block of wood. ‘You know, for a civilized society they certainly support a lot of violent traditions, don’t you think?’ Of course, you don’t answer again, making me wonder if you are capable of thought or simply mindless voyeurism and judgement.
“Quit your muttering and get in the cell!” a guard pushed me down the hallway towards my holding cell. “Scum like you gets eaten alive in the supermax, now get in your cel-AHHHHHH!” he screamed as his arm snapped from my blow to his elbow. I threw him to his companions as I entered the cell and stretched out on the bed waiting for the show in the center ring to conclude upstairs.
The guards locked me inside and spit in my direction as all but two shuffled their injured leader off for some medical attention. The two guards left stood at each end of the hallway trying to hide their fear of being left behind to guard my cage.
‘Hmm?’ I said raising an eyebrow at you, ‘you follow me into this confinement only to ask such a stupid question?’ You stare at me with determined curiosity and a trace of fear. I roll my eyes at your childishness but concede mostly out of boredom. ‘Fine, yes she is really my aunt and no we don’t get along.’ You gaze intently with more curious nonsense, ‘Because my mother is dead that’s why I hate her. I had to live with her for months and she was intent on raising me to be a proper upstanding citizen like the ones who had taken my mother from me. She is a hypocrite and a coward.’
I sigh at your sympathies, ‘Please refrain from pitying me, it is simply annoying. Besides without that time in captivity, I never would have become the man I am today. She lead me to my mentor, who taught me how to be the wild beast they fear today.’ I chuckled and laid back on the stiff mattress. ‘That’s enough questions you invisible creeper, now go stare at the guards or something while we await a more suitable cage for my purposes.’
Later that afternoon I got my wish and we were bundled up in more useless restraints and plopped into a cozy cell at the supermax facility outside of town in the mountains. I mean that literally too as the prison was actually carved into the mountain. My clothes and all my belongings had been removed and replaced with the standard orange jumpsuit of the prisoners. It even glowed in the dark to give the guards something easier to shoot.
As you may have guessed this wasn’t my first time in this particular prison and they had a special isolation cell designed just for me. I never understood exactly why I had earned such garnishments but suspected it may have something to do with my seven previous escapes. They took no chances, a mix of digital and human security measures kept a twenty-four-hour watch. A layer of six-inch-thick plexiglass separated me from the electrified bars that ran around all four sides and granite above and below. I loved it.
“You’re going to be here a long-time Mr. Umbras!” chortled the warden who had stopped by to see me to my new accommodations. “You may have found a way out before but this time we had this cell designed especially for you and there is no way you’re escaping’!”
I turned with a faux-shocked expression, “Warden, if I didn’t know better I would think that my humble release from this hell on seven earlier occasions, has somehow injured your pride?” his face glowed with red malevolence as he tried to gouge my eyes out with his stare alone. Then spun on his heel and hurried out barking orders to his many foot soldiers as he did.
‘Well that was a tad over dramatic don’t you think?’ I chuckled glancing in your general direction. ‘What? You think I was being petty sinking to his level?’ again you say nothing simply judging like the specter you are. With a malevolent grin I respond, ‘Well I don’t need your approval, for all I know you are nothing more than a conjuring of my own overactive imagination, besides we have work to do here so be patient and watch the show.’ With that I grab one of the books from the small library provided, Alice in wonderland, and I lean back in the provided chair to pass the time while I wait.
After a few hours, a guard came to deliver my dinner on a plastic tray. It was meatloaf, why was it always meatloaf? “Hi Fred, how is life going?” the guard ignored my friendly banter and continued with his tasks, checking the security systems and inspecting the cell thoroughly without opening the door. He smiled and nodded at the cage, then began to head towards the exit. As he slowly punched in his code to leave the secure room I couldn’t help myself, “Come back anytime Fred! And say hi to the red queen, the hatter, Tweedle-dee and Tweedledum, and the jabberwocky for me!” he slammed the door behind me and I returned to my wonderful book.
After stretching out on the bed I got ready to sleep when I felt your inquisitive gaze drilling into me once again. ‘What? Oh, you’re wondering why I’m just lying here if I’ve escaped so many times? Because my naïve companion, I am escaping! That’s all you’re getting from me for now but remember I’m not here because I enjoy it; which means I’m not leaving until I get what I want out of the inmates here.’ Hoping my explanation would satisfy you long enough to get some sleep I close my eyes and drift into a blissful sleep. You can say what you like about prisons, but the truth is, when you’re a sociopathic villain people are always out to kill you in some poetic fashion. The only time you can rest easy without worrying about an impending assassination attempt is when you’re locked away by just people who want to see you rot rather than die.
After a lovely evening, I awoke to Fred tapping insistently on my wall. He had another tray of food that he slid into the wall compartment, that allowed me access to a less than superb example of what one would consider breakfast. It oozed on the plate in what I assumed was meant to be scrambled eggs. The guard continued his usual inspection, thoroughly checking every possible scratch or imperfection as though they would provide the details of my entire escape plan. We all know that was impossible; well, maybe you don’t know that but everyone else in the room does. “So Fred, how did everyone react to my incarceration? Were they devastated with terror and sadness?”
Fred scowled at me and then, finishing his patrol, simply scolded, “Eat your breakfast.” He slammed and locked the exterior cell door showing his loathing. I picked up the plate of eggs and drained them into the toilet and left the plate to rinse clean in the sink for a moment. Returning to the tray I found a cheap bag of tea labeled Red’s and some toast from a loaf of white bread in which the crust seemed to have curled over the edge of the pan like the brim of a hat. I took a bite of the toast and got the tea ready in the cup of hot water provided. While the tea steeped, I checked on the plate to find the letters TDENTDM inlaid into the white paint in blue letters.
‘The service here is truly terrible don’t you think?’ I say distractedly, breaking the silence as I finish making my tea. You as always simply monitor my progress with your scrutiny. ‘Don’t worry, I’m beginning to adjust to your presence my mute friend. Besides, in a few hours I shall be leaving this place with the information I require.’
“I don’t know who you’re talking to but I think you’ll find that your little breakout schemes are doomed to fail!” chuckled the warden as he burst into the room. “Besides you have a guest, Miss Fanny will be conducting a complete psych evaluation.
“Apologies warden, I’d be delighted to entertain Miss Fanny for awhile.” I replied with a devilish grin.
He frowned and strode out of the room, obviously disappointed that I had acted like a gentleman rather than a demon. “Doc, you have ninety minutes and will be monitored the whole time. If you need anything just say so.”
“Thank you sire!” bubbled the young Miss Fanny who seemed excited about her new career. As the warden left locking us in she took a seat at a small desk provided in the corner and began unpacking her bag. “I must admit Mr. Umbras it is a true honor to be able analyze you like this!”
I notice you glancing from our guest to myself, ‘What’s the matter with you? Of course, we’re not dating!’
Miss Fanny’s face went ghostly white as she scanned the room and was about to say something when an alarm went off on her watch. Just then the lights flickered and the cameras ceased their sweep of the room. “Alright,” Miss Fanny exhaled in relief, “we only have about seven minutes, I already took care of the book, but we need to hurry!” She disassembled her bag pulling a symmetric vacuum sealed false bottom and sliding it into the food tray slot.
“What about my targets? Are they here?” I demanded as I tore open the package removing a simple lightweight change of clothes, a wig and a self-fitting mask. “I didn’t bring myself back to this hell simply for their culinary exploits Carol!” She shrank a bit under my barrage.
“Sorry sir, I know sir. Your informant found a few leads but most specifically Mr. Chapeau, Red Monarch and the twins are here.” Luckily despite her embarrassed state she kept working diligently setting up decoy impact sites along the wall with small explosives. “Four minutes left!” she exclaimed.
I quickly donned the mask and adjusted my posture and voice to suit the character I was about to portray. I quickly cut my finger as Carol did the same and we began to spread it believably over our faces. ‘I would warn you not to say a word but we both know that won’t happen!’ I spat at you, ‘But if you screw this up for me I swear I will dismantle reality itself to get my revenge are we clear?’ you nod with a gulp as the charade continues.
“Thirty seconds left sir!” Carol yelled, “A pleasure as always!” and with that she screamed as loud as she could, blowing the various explosive in the process. One large grouping of them dropped an air vent cover as she smiled and smashed her head forcefully against the wall. She crumpled to the ground and gave me a weak thumb up before passing out.
‘She’s a great assistant,’ I remark to you, ‘really have to admire her dedication to detail. Now if you’ll excuse me’. I walked over to the clear door and began banging as hard as I could, “Help! Help! Please you must help he’s getting away!”
I continued this for about a minute before the cameras buzzed to life and a gaggle of guards burst into the room followed by a red face warden who on the sight of me quickly rushed forward fumbling his keys to get me out. “Inspector! How did you get in here? I mean, I know how you got in but the cell?”
“Your man is good at escaping I think?” I responded with a hoarse and accented voice. “But please, we can discuss that later right now that young miss requires your attention.”
“Of course!” stammered the warden barking for two guards to attend to Miss Fanny. “We need to begin the hunt immediately before…”
“And I will lead this hunt!” I interrupted. The warden looked as though he were about to object but the look on my face deflated any thoughts he may have had to the contrary. I quickly barked at a few guards to go and secure the facility while I made my way to one of the cell blocks.
Once we were there I glanced at the guards with me and instructed one to take the third floor and another to take the first while I focused my attention on the second. They quickly hurried off leaving me to head to my target. I passed by most of the cells in order to save time and I could honestly care less about their inhabitants for that matter; stopping only when I reached two cells side by side. “Monarch, Chapeau, Harry, and Ron, good to see you all again!” I said in my normal voice knowing full well that the surveillance equipment was currently having difficulties.
“Who the hell are you?” Demanded the twins in unison, “We ain’t never seen no stooge like you before?”
“Oh?” I replied coyly, “I tend to leave a very big shadow, I would have thought your memory would be better than that?”
“Umbras!” spat the Red Monarch “Listen about your mentor, we don’t know…”
I raised a hand cutting him off, then turning to you I quietly say ‘Please wait over there will you.’ The look of confusion on your face matches the concern of my caged audience. ‘I need to have a word with these gents and I would prefer it to be alone now scram.’ Hesitantly you back away and back up the walkway until you’re just out of earshot, which is perfect. A few moments later I attach two small boxes from my pockets to each cell and meet up with you once more. ‘Apologies but I don’t really trust you entirely, what if you were to somehow leak my plans and my evidence? Tipping off my future victim who so willfully slaughtered my mentor before I had a chance?’
I stride back the way I’d come and head towards the facility’s entrance. ‘Keep up and keep quiet up, we need to leave quickly before they catch on.’ At the entrance, we meet up with an now conscious Carol and the warden. “No sign of him I’m afraid,” I said depressively in my accented voice. “He can’t have left yet I’m sure we will meet up with him shortly. Unfortunately, I must depart as the premiere is patiently waiting my presence.”
Once again, the warden seemed to choke down his objections as he said, “Of course sir! Always a pleasure to have your assistance and I assure you we will easily capture and return Umbras to the cage you so graciously designed for us.”
With a curt nod, I smiled and we departed, carol and yourself keeping pace with me as we left towards a waiting car parked out front. I sat down heavily as Carol slid into the driver the seat next to me. “I can’t believe that worked sir!” she squealed giddily “Building your own maximum security cell and upgrading the prison’s security under an assumed identity! I mean it was AMAZING!”
“Thank you Carol, but amazing as it may be it was all for such occasions and now that we have a lead it’s time to do some more hunting.” I said as I removed the mask from my face.
“Oh my god! You got a lead!” she effervesced, “Who was it? Did they know? Did you torture them? Was there screaming?”
I listed the answers off on my fingers as the car drove, “Yes I have a lead. The lead isn’t the killer. No, I didn’t torture them. And no there was no screaming when I…” I was interrupted by an explosion behind us that shook the car slightly. “Well. Maybe a little screaming.”
Still bubbly as always Carol continued, “So boss, where are we off to now?”
With the malevolent grin of a free man once more I replied, “We are off to interrogate a Jabberwocky!”
Her eyes lit up with excitement, but then quickly dulled as she remembered something, “That’s great but I’m supposed to tell you that you owe Fred a bonus for overlooking those bombs back there. He says that was pushing it even by our standards.”
“True, but necessary. I’ll be sure to add a couple zeros to his pay check this month as compensation.” Fred really was one of my most loyal guards.
To be continued….
Thanks for reading this madness.
J. S. Figment
The above is dedicated to my cousin Andrew, who’s insight into the world of security and the legal system made my bastardization of everything he told me possible.