This started out thinking about the concept of an immortal in prison but it sort of went… I’m not actually sure where it went. Enjoy?
“How long has she been in here?”
The District Head of Corrections and the Warden of the only old-style prison remaining in the Consortium stood studying the case file of Dolores Colchinny.
“A hundred and ten years.” The Warden tapped the holo-display. “Every twenty-five years, her law firm tries to get her released. Every twenty-five years, a judge turns them down. You can see where they did that ten years ago.”
“What about one of the colonies? Or maybe cold sleep? You don’t just, we don’t just put people in jail anymore.”
The warden swiped through the file. “They first started suggesting that about twenty years into her time here. That’s when they began changing the sentencing. By the time she’d been here fourty, there weren’t many lifers left, and many of those had been moved to the asteroids or cold sleep.”
Colchinny was the only prisoner left in this facility, 30-day sentence-servers for very minor offenses aside. The Warden’d had plenty of time to familiarize herself with the file.
“Her lawyers,” she continued, “Are very good. They always manage to overturn any attempt of the sort. It’s not, after all, what she was sentenced to.”
“She’s got to be – well, obviously, she’s over a hundred…?”
“A hundred and thirty-six as of next week.” The warden sighed. “No upgrades, obviously. We don’t offer them to felons and when she came in here, they weren’t available. But she’s in excellent health. She gets the yearly check-up and she broke and ankle a few years ago, but that’s all she’s needed.”
“And she’s still here.”
“And she’s still here.” The Warden didn’t smile. This job might be easy, but it was a dead-end in what was a political system.
“How long is her sentence again?”
“Three hundred and ten. Twelve sequential 25-year-sentences without possibility of parole for first-degree murder and then another ten years for felony theft.”
The Head of Corrections shuddered. “Murder,” she murmured. “Thirty – thirty murders?”
“Vigilante justice. That was during the Dark Times, of course, and she wasn’t the only one who received a sentence like that.”
“Sentences commuted, transported to the colonies, or died in prison. She’s the only one left.”
“This whole prison – well, this whole wing.” The rest of the facility had long since been turned towards other purposes – a greenhouse, a housing complex, and a goat farm – leaving the Warden, the three guards, and Dolores Colchinny in a wing meant to house a hundred. “And it’s all for one woman.”
“She’s gotten her third doctorate recently. She stays busy. Makes her own food, sews her own clothes, learned how to weave a few years ago. She’s – from what I can understand of what prisons were like when she came here – well, she has been a model prisoner since her first day here. Never a single mark on her file. If she had an option of time off for good behavior, she’s long since earned it.”
“And she doesn’t look likely to conveniently die any time soon? We could use the space; I’ve had seventeen offers in the last year.”
“No.” The Warden closed her eyes. “No. She is unlikely to conveniently die. The doctor says she could easily live another thirty years without a problem, and I think that’s an underestimation.”
“And we can’t -“
“And we can’t transfer-“
“And we can’t send her to the colonies, or anywhere else. No.”
“Well, then, Warden Ribera. It looks like you’re going to be here for a while longer.”
The Warden flipped through the display to the camera on Dolores Colchinny. This wasn’t the position she wanted, no, but as long as she was here, someone who thought a convenient accident might be best wasn’t in charge here.
“It does seem like we’ll both be here for a while,” she agreed. She flipped away from the camera again – as was normal this time of day, Colchinny was reading, taking notes on a very old-style tablet, the best the prison could get – before the Head of Corrections could get a good look at the woman.
Her head shots didn’t do her justice, of course, and she’d been in bad shape when she’d been arrested.
If you looked at her now, though, you might see the family resemblance between Warden Ribera and her great-grandmother, the only lifetime prisoner left on the face of the Earth.