This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places or things is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any mean, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2017 by Daniel Schinhofen
Death Tracker Grugh
Seamus lay on his bunk looking at the single light above him before closing his eyes with a deep sigh. The guards would be here soon to get him for the meeting with his attorney. Sitting up, he opened his eyes to glance again at the small concrete room he was confined in. Bad enough he had the one conviction of murder on his record, now he was facing a second one. This charge was bullshit though, he defended himself and they were still pressing forward with the case. Fucking prosecutor must be thinking of running for office soon to not have dropped this bullshit case.
The guards looked in the small window then opened the cuff flap, “Masterson, come over and give us your hands behind your back.” The voice was calm, level and completely devoid of emotion.
Seamus stood up, stretching before going to the door and putting his wrists through the flap behind his back. He felt the tug on his arms to give them more room to work with as the cold click of the cuffs snapped into place. He was, after all, on lock-down for assaulting and killing another inmate, so they had to treat him as a threat even if he had never caused the guards any problems. Once his arms were secured the door unlocked 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 a good day so far. Your case is creating ripples in the pond, which has everyone on edge. You know the way. Stay inside the lines and we won’t have any issues.”
“I’m sorry about that sir, but I wasn’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 to self-defense.” Seamus replied as he started to walk towards the meeting room with the four guards beside and behind him. Seamus made sure to stay along the wall inside the yellow lines that were there to guide the inmates. “I do hope it settles down for you all. I know I hated it when the inmates got feisty at my old job.”
The rest of the walk was in silence which Seamus just let hang there. The guards had been an exemplary example of professionalism 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 even been on decent grounds with Jasperson when the Sergeant had done pick-ups from their 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 no remorse over that incident at all.
Upon reaching the lawyer room, Seamus was surprised to see his attorney, Mr. Moorehead, with another elderly man wearing a very expensive suit. The guards brought Seamus in and secured him to the bench before leaving him and the men alone. “Moore,” Seamus greeted the attorney with the unfortunate name of Moore Moorehead, “good to see you. Care to introduce me to the man who doesn’t belong here?”
Moore chuckled, “Always to the point Seamus, one of the reasons I like you. This is Mr. Ovanhed, he represents an opportunity being offered to you. You are their first pick for this offer. I don’t have news on your appeals or on your new case at this time. This meeting is solely for you to accept or reject the offer that you will hear about if you sign a non-disclosure agreement.”
Laughing, Seamus smiled, “A non-disclosure agreement for a convicted felon? Oh this should be rich. But first, who do you work for, Mr. Ovanhed?”
Ovanhed replied coolly, “The Justice Department is my primary employer. The non-disclosure agreement pertains to an offer being made by Mindblown Entertainment. Will you sign?”
Seamus blinked, completely caught off guard by that statement. Mindblown was the biggest producer of virtual reality games on the market. They were the leader in and still pushing the boundaries of VR. Two years ago, just before his first case, they had released a fully immersive system for VR. Seamus felt his fingers tingle and his mouth start to dry as he considered the implications. Nodding slowly, Seamus took the document from Moorehead and signed it.
“Excellent,” Ovanhed said, “now we can really talk. Mr. Masterson, you are being offered the chance to field test the first wave of long term fully immersive virtual reality pods. If you accept, you will be placed into the pod permanently to see how well the human body holds up long term. You will serve your sentence while helping advance the boundaries of science. Are you interested?”
Moorehead rolled his eyes, “Please Ivan, you need to tell him more than that. No one would jump at the blind chance you’re waving. Tell him the full version of what it all means.”
Seamus chuckled, “Thanks Moore, you took the words out of my mouth.”
“Fine,” Ivan said, “Mindblown has completed the first iteration of their new FIVR pods, Fully Immersive Virtual Reality. They have been tested for various lengths up to two months and had good results. When Mindblown sought approval for long term pods, we saw a chance for something greater. We asked them to look into longer term storage,” he coughed, “immersion along the lines of years. They think they have the solution and now we need a sub… test case.”
Laughing, Seamus shook his head, “So you want me to be a guinea pig for a long term FIVR pod? Why me and what will I be experiencing if I do agree?”
“You were recommended specifically by Mindblown as potentially their first test case. Upon reviewing your case we noted the circumstances around it and agreed that you would be acceptable. Your most recent case also weighs into this discussion. It can be dropped if you agree?”
“So if I don’t agree the case goes forward? If I do, what then? Also, why the fuck is the DoJ even interested in the idea of long term...” Seamus shut up as he figured it out, “You want to put inmates sentenced to life into a virtual prison.”
Ovanhed blinked but otherwise didn’t show any reaction. “I can’t discuss with you my department’s interest. Also, if you don’t agree, we will not step in on your behalf and the case is very likely to go forward.”
Moorehead sighed, shaking his head, “It’s a bad deal, Seamus. They want you to sign away all liability on this test. You’ll be agreeing to never being able to leave the pod and never having a chance to sue anyone if anything goes wrong. I’m certain I can have your latest case dismissed and get your sentence for the conviction reduced. I suggest you don’t take this deal.”
Looking at Moorehead, Seamus knew the man cared. Moorehead represented him for the bare minimum fee, and believed that Seamus didn’t deserve the harsh sentence he had been facing. “Thanks Moore, it really does mean a lot, all you’ve done for me. I never expected a good attorney to help, I thought I would get the dregs of the public defender’s office.” Seamus turned to Ovanhed, “Tell me about what I will be experiencing if 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 prison initially, but will have the opportunity to gain your freedom within the virtual framework. It is described as a fantasy type setting. You will be playing with all settings at maximum in order to fully test the system.”
“So stay here where people want me dead, 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 I sign?”
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 life sentenced inmates and put them into prisons in virtual space. That’s their end goal, Moore, and I don’t disagree with it at all. As long as this deal specifies that I won’t be sent to one of them, I’ll do it. My last act of helping the system that I spent years serving before ending up on the other side.” Seamus replied, his voice calm. Turning to look at Ovanhed, “If our deal states I will never be sent to one of your virtual hells, I mean prisons, I will agree.”
Ovanhed nodded as he stood up, “Glad you’re on board. The paperwork will be sent to your attorney in the next few weeks. Once everything is signed off, we’ll put the wheels in motion and have you transported to the test facility.” He went to ...