This is a work offiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places or things is entirelycoincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may bereproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any mean, includingphotocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without theprior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotationsembodied in reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyrightlaw. For permission requests, write to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2017 byDaniel Schinhofen
Death Tracker Grugh
Seamuslay on his bunk looking at the single light above him before closing his eyeswith a deep sigh. The guards would be here soon to get him for the meeting withhis attorney. Sitting up, he opened his eyes to glance again at the smallconcrete room he was confined in. Bad enough he had the one conviction ofmurder on his record, now he was facing a second one. This charge was bullshitthough, he defended himself and they were still pressing forward with the case.Fucking prosecutor must be thinking of running for office soon to not havedropped this bullshit case.
The guards looked in the smallwindow then opened the cuff flap, “Masterson, come over and give us your handsbehind your back.” The voice was calm, level and completely devoid of emotion.
Seamus stood up, stretching beforegoing to the door and putting his wrists through the flap behind his back. Hefelt the tug on his arms to give them more room to work with as the cold clickof the cuffs snapped into place. He was, after all, on lock-down for assaultingand killing another inmate, so they had to treat him as a threat even if he hadnever caused the guards any problems. Once his arms were secured the doorunlocked and the four guards opened the door.
Seamus gave them a rueful smile,“Sgt. Jasperson, how are you and the deputies today?”
The Sergeant shook his head, “Not agood day so far. Your case is creating ripples in the pond, which has everyoneon edge. You know the way. Stay inside the lines and we won’t have any issues.”
“I’m sorry about that sir, but Iwasn’t about to let him rape me. You already know my feelings on that subject,after all. Maybe my attorney will tell me the case is being dropped due toself-defense.” Seamus replied as he started to walk towards the meeting roomwith the four guards beside and behind him. Seamus made sure to stay along thewall inside the yellow lines that were there to guide the inmates. “I do hopeit settles down for you all. I know I hated it when the inmates got feisty atmy old job.”
The rest of the walk was in silencewhich Seamus just let hang there. The guards had been an exemplary example ofprofessionalism when he had been incarcerated. A former county jail guard,Seamus had a rough idea of how tough the job could be for them. He had evenbeen on decent grounds with Jasperson when the Sergeant had done pick-ups fromtheir local jail when inmates were transferred to state jail. His first case,though, had severed all of those ties as surely as a knife. Seamus felt noremorse over that incident at all.
Upon reaching the lawyer room,Seamus was surprised to see his attorney, Mr. Moorehead, with another elderlyman wearing a very expensive suit. The guards brought Seamus in and secured himto the bench before leaving him and the men alone. “Moore,” Seamus greeted theattorney with the unfortunate name of Moore Moorehead, “good to see you. Careto introduce me to the man who doesn’t belong here?”
Moore chuckled, “Always to the pointSeamus, one of the reasons I like you. This is Mr. Ovanhed, he represents anopportunity being offered to you. You are their first pick for this offer. Idon’t have news on your appeals or on your new case at this time. This meetingis solely for you to accept or reject the offer that you will hear about if yousign a non-disclosure agreement.”
Laughing, Seamus smiled, “Anon-disclosure agreement for a convicted felon? Oh this should be rich. But first,who do you work for, Mr. Ovanhed?”
Ovanhed replied coolly, “The JusticeDepartment is my primary employer. The non-disclosure agreement pertains to anoffer being made by Mindblown Entertainment. Will you sign?”
Seamus blinked, completely caught offguard by that statement. Mindblown was the biggest producer of virtual realitygames on the market. They were the leader in and still pushing the boundariesof VR. Two years ago, just before his first case, they had released a fullyimmersive system for VR. Seamus felt his fingers tingle and his mouth start todry as he considered the implications. Nodding slowly, Seamus took the documentfrom Moorehead and signed it.
“Excellent,” Ovanhed said, “now wecan really talk. Mr. Masterson, you are being offered the chance to field testthe first wave of long term fully immersive virtual reality pods. If youaccept, you will be placed into the pod permanently to see how well the humanbody holds up long term. You will serve your sentence while helping advance theboundaries of science. Are you interested?”
Moorehead rolled his eyes, “PleaseIvan, you need to tell him more than that. No one would jump at the blindchance you’re waving. Tell him the full version of what it all means.”
Seamus chuckled, “Thanks Moore, youtook the words out of my mouth.”
“Fine,” Ivan said, “Mindblown hascompleted the first iteration of their new FIVR pods, Fully Immersive VirtualReality. They have been tested for various lengths up to two months and hadgood results. When Mindblown sought approval for long term pods, we saw achance for something greater. We asked them to look into longer term storage,”he coughed, “immersion along the lines of years. They think they have thesolution and now we need a sub… test case.”
Laughing, Seamus shook his head, “Soyou want me to be a guinea pig for a long term FIVR pod? Why me and what will Ibe experiencing if I do agree?”
“You were recommended specificallyby Mindblown as potentially their first test case. Upon reviewing your case wenoted the circumstances around it and agreed that you would be acceptable. Yourmost recent case also weighs into this discussion. It can be dropped if youagree?”
“So if I don’t agree the case goesforward? If I do, what then? Also, why the fuck is the DoJ even interested inthe idea of long term...” Seamus shut up as he figured it out, “You want to putinmates sentenced to life into a virtual prison.”
Ovanhed blinked but otherwise didn’tshow any reaction. “I can’t discuss with you my department’s interest. Also, ifyou don’t agree, we will not step in on your behalf and the case is very likelyto go forward.”
Moorehead sighed, shaking his head,“It’s a bad deal, Seamus. They want you to sign away all liability on thistest. You’ll be agreeing to never being able to leave the pod and never havinga chance to sue anyone if anything goes wrong. I’m certain I can have yourlatest case dismissed and get your sentence for the conviction reduced. Isuggest you don’t take this deal.”
Looking at Moorehead, Seamus knewthe man cared. Moorehead represented him for the bare minimum fee, and believedthat Seamus didn’t deserve the harsh sentence he had been facing. “ThanksMoore, it really does mean a lot, all you’ve done for me. I never expected agood attorney to help, I thought I would get the dregs of the public defender’soffice.” Seamus turned to Ovanhed, “Tell me about what I will be experiencingif I agree? Is it a game, a prison, something else?”
Ovanhed smiled thinly, “I can’t,actually, or not much. Mindblown has told us you will be placed in a prisoninitially, but will have the opportunity to gain your freedom within thevirtual framework. It is described as a fantasy type setting. You will beplaying with all settings at maximum in order to fully test the system.”
“So stay here where people want medead, or gamble my life on the chance the untested long term immersion works?Is this the deal?” Seamus asked looking at Moorehead, who nodded. “Where do Isign?”
Moorhead shook his head, “Seamus,don’t do this. There are too many ways for it to go badly.”
“They want to take all the lifesentenced inmates and put them into prisons in virtual space. That’s their endgoal, Moore, and I don’t disagree with it at all. As long as this dealspecifies that I won’t be sent to one of them, I’ll do it. My last act ofhelping the system that I spent years serving before ending up on the otherside.” Seamus replied, his voice calm. Turning to look at Ovanhed, “If our dealstates I will never be sent to one of your virtual hells, I mean prisons, Iwill agree.”
Ovanhed nodded as he stood up, “Gladyou’re on board. The paperwork will be sent to your attorney in the next fewweeks. Once everything is signed off, we’ll put the wheels in motion and haveyou transported to the test facility.” He went to ...