The Program

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Photo copyright K. S. Brooks.

Phillips, or #2730098-RP in New Mexico’s Corrections System, offered up his hands for the shackles attached to the chains already confining his ankles and waist.

“Must feel pretty good about today, eh, greener? Cop killer getting off The Row,” CO Baez said. He guided Phillips by the shoulder as he shuffled along the portico to Admin wing.

“Ain’t seen the sun and those shadows since first day I got here,” Phillips said. “Now I’ll see ‘em every day working Provisions Program, instead of getting the needle over there.” He pointed with his chin.

At the end of the portico, a buzzer sounded and Baez nudged Phillips through the door. A female CO whose tag read Silvana met them at a desk.

“Afternoon, Jaime. This the new one?” she said.

“Yep, all yours now. Says he can’t wait to get started.”

“We’ll process him right away then,” she said.

Silvana guided Phillips down another hall, where COs removed his shackles and told him to strip for a shower. Six jets in the tiled wall doused Phillips with soapy water and rinsed him clean.

“Okay, lifer, the State of New Mexico thanks you for your service to its Inmate Provision Program,” a CO said. “Processing’s through those doors.”

Phillips walked through and dropped without feeling a thing, the captive bolt pistol popping his skull and entering his brain. His final thought was of walking through a tunnel of light and shadow, as his life sentence ended Day One in The Program.

Wrote this for a weekly flash fiction contest in response to the photo prompt up top. Needed to write a flash fiction piece of 250 words or less based on that photo by award-winning author and photographer K.S. Brooks. If you like it enough, you vote on it or others starting Wednesday over at the Indies Unlimited website.

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