Monday, December 29, 2008

Purgatory Part I

I'm ready to try another short story. I think you will enjoy this one, even though it might be a little strange. I'm recycling an older post, as I haven't had time to prepare anything new. Rest assured, I'm working on a new short story that will astound you, leaving your jaw slack and agape. But for now, you will have to be content with Purgatory. This is a two part story, so be sure to tune in one day soon for the continuation.
Purgatory “Okay, we go live in 3… 2….” Then the cameraman’s voice was silent and he pointed at the reporter.
_
“This is newswoman Shara Livingstone broadcasting live from Purgatory State Prison where Governor Cruz announced two days ago a shocking across the board pardon for all the inmates held here at Purgatory. The Governor stated that he loved the people in his state so much that he was compelled to offer blanket amnesty. The only condition to be released was that each prisoner had to ask forgiveness for his crimes, accept the pardon from Governor Cruz, and live a life dedicated to fighting crime. Many prisoners have been set free over the course of the last two days and can be seen walking around the prison. However, we have just learned that many of the prisoners held in Purgatory Prison were refusing to leave their cells. Joining us now is Cell Block Lieutenant Imp, “Lieutenant, can you tell us what happening inside the cell blocks right now?”
_
Imp scowled a moment and then commented, “It seems that most of the prisoners refuse to leave their cells. They just won’t believe that they have been forgiven by the Governor.”
_
“What are they telling you? Have they offered a reason why the prisoners refuse to leave?”
_
“They know in their hearts that they don’t deserve to be forgiven, therefore they will stay in their cells.”
_
“But the Governor has made it easy to be released. Haven't they been told how easy it is to just leave their cells and never return?”
_
Imp scowled again. “Oh they were told. Some of the Governor’s men walked through the whole prison and made the announcement.”
_
“What were the reactions of the prisoners?”
_
“Most of them refused to believe their good luck. But then the first fellow tried his cell door and walked away, well, it was the dogonedest thing. His cell was locked and then he asked forgiveness for his crimes, and then the cell door just popped open. Heck, we didn’t want to let him go. We knew that fellow was a thief. But after he was given amnesty, there wasn’t anything we could do to keep him there. Some of the fellows tried to get him to denounce his amnesty, but that thief wouldn’t have any part of it.”
_
“Why would the guards try to keep him in there if the Governor set him free?”
_
“Well heck, they are guilty and don’t deserve to be set free. Besides, what will we do for jobs if all the prisoners leave the Purgatory Prison?”
_
Shara Livingstone turned and pointed at the large gothic prison to her right. “Lieutenant, you have agreed to escort us through the cell block. Shall we begin our tour?”
_
“Might as well.” He turned and pointed at a large iron door. “Okay, you go through this here door and you will be inside of Cell Block One.”
_
“Shouldn’t the door be secured? It’s wide open.”
_
“The Governor ordered us to open the prison doors. We argued that all the prisoners would leave, but surprisingly, they ain’t left yet. We just keep on doing our jobs. As long as they refuse to leave, then we can keep on getting paid.”
_
“But don’t you care that their debts against society have been forgiven?”
_
“So long as it serves my purpose, I don’t care.”
_
Shara held her microphone to her lips. “Okay, I’m now standing inside Cell Block One. Behind me and to my right are many rows of cells. You can see that bars separate and define one cell from the other. My first reaction to this prison is the smell. Lieutenant, can you tell me what that horrible smell is?”
_
“That is their own filth. All the garbage that they bring with them and all the sewage that they generate here. We don’t offer any toilets or shower facilities.”
_
“Isn’t that inhumane?”
_
Imp spat on the floor. “What do I care? So long as I have a job.”
_
“As I continue walking along, I am stunned by how dark it is here in Purgatory Prison. In fact, the further I go inside these walls, the brighter the light from the doorway that is the only opening to the outside. Lieutenant, why is it so dark in here?”
_
“Oh that serves several purposes.” He held up a finger as if to count. “For one, they can’t see all the filth that they are living in. B, if they are in the dark, they are easier to control. They don’t go getting a lot of ideas on their own. And third, as long as they can see that light, but can’t get to it, they stay miserable.”
_
“You sound like you want them to suffer.”
_
“They are guilty. Ever one of them deserves the death penalty. I hate to see them set free. They don’t deserve it.”
_
“But the Governor chose to forgive them. Shouldn’t you help them find that light?”
_
“Oh, they were told about that light. It’s up to them to choose to walk out of their prison. Some of them shout for joy and run out of here like a bull coming out of the chute havin’ just been branded.”
_
“Is that a prisoner in that cell there?”
_
“Yes ma’am, it is.” He hit the bars with his night stick. The prisoner flinched at the sight of the night stick. “Hey you! Get over here and talk to this reporter.” The prisoner obediently stood to the bars. “Yes sir.”
_
Shara waved the mic in his face. “We have just been told that the Governor has granted you your freedom. All you have to do is accept the amnesty that was offered you. Why haven't you left?”
_
“Well, I don’t believe in the Governor.”
_
“Excuse me?”
_
“I don’t believe that the Governor exists.”
_
“Well that is ridiculous. Look around you. Can’t you see what the Governor has built here? This building was built by the Governor. It was designed to be a prison.”
_
“No. It was here before I was born. I didn’t see anyone build it. As far as I’m concerned, this building has always been here.”
_
“But I hold in my hand the decree stating your freedom.”
_
“Okay, I’ll play your game. If you can make the Governor appear before me, then I will believe that he exists.”
_
“Well, I have no control over the Governor. Who am I to make him come and appear to you?”
He shrugged and smiled smugly at her.
_
“But didn’t you hear about the amnesty? Don’t you want to be set free from your prison?”
_
“No. This is the only life I know. From this comfortable room I have everything I need. Besides, if there is no Governor, then I don’t have to leave my cell.”
_
“So, you are choosing to stay here, even though you have been offered amnesty?”
_
“Isn’t that what I have been saying all along?”
_
“Yes, in fact it is. I just don’t understand it.” She turned to continue on her journey, and the man grabbed a hold of the bars and shouted out at her. “Tell me this, misses Smarty Pants, who made the Governor? Huh? Tell me that?” He laughed at her. The Lieutenant rapped his fingers with his baton and the man shrunk back into the darkness.
_
Shara returned to her microphone and addressed the camera. “This disturbing development will be continued in my next broadcast. I have discovered many things here at Purgatory Prison, and I will continue this story very soon. Please tune in for the continuation shortly.”

7 comments:

God's Not Finished With Us Yet... said...

Very powerful; in comparison with the Governor being Christ setting the captives free, but with some of the prisoners, their doubt is preventing their freedom. Yet others flee quickly, ready to believe in their forgiveness and begin anew. It's hard to visualize, yet known all to well by people just across the street from me. It's all too real.

Travis said...

Yes, I fear that we live within the confines of a prison, at least surrounded by prisoners. Worst, I hate to think that anyone is living there simply out of ignorance. We should strive to spread the good news as often as possible.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I like this! I think it would make a great devotinal/discussion starter for a small group. It also reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said on the subject:
"The doors of hell are locked from the inside."
This story made me realize that if you haven't read it already, you might want to try C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. It's right in line with your style of writing.

Dave said...

I was thinking of C.S. Lewis, too. I'm actually reading his science fiction trilogy right now, excited to read some Lewis I've never experienced.

gzusfreek said...

Great story. . .disturbing, huh?
I was thinking of a section of a Max Lucado book, he talked about some in a dark cave who could not leave for the light. They were so used to the darkness, its comforting womb-like protection that the light was too "hard" to learn to live in.
In the end I started thinking about Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled" have you seen that yet? I recommend it.
But your story is unique. I could really relate to the prisoners “They know in their hearts that they don’t deserve to be forgiven, therefore they will stay in their cells” Thanks for this, Travis.

Travis said...

Rosslyn and Dave--
Thanks for the suggestion about Lewis. I'll try to get my hands on those books. It will be good to read some Lewis again...

Km--
Yes! I've seen expelled and I really liked it. It was alarming, and I found it disturbing on many levels. Thanks God for Ben Stein having the courage to address the issue. And I think Lucado is correct is suggesting that people get comfortable in the darkness to the point that the light troubles them. It's like a safety zone.

Gwen Stewart said...

Another great short story, Travis. You have imaginative approaches to sharing the message of the Gospel.

I stumbled on some apologetic sites the other day and read a bit of what those who are lost say. You nailed their argument very well in the short story. My heart aches for them. In 2009, I need to be a better witness; to find the courage to reach out to those who remain in the prison.

Thank you for another great post.