Up There so High

What do you get when you have a space fanatic, a runaway princess and a bunch of miscreants? Well, you get the three E's; Explosions, Expletives and Enemies.
You may not laugh along with this story but you may sing (because the main space man is very much fond of that).

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23. The Cell Block with the Letter J

 

~The Cell Block with the letter J~

~Everett~

 

There was an entire block dedicated to cyber related crimes. Cell block J housed all the criminals who had committed identity theft, fraud, made life destroying malware, hacking. Anything that involved either the Internet, which ran surprisingly fast anywhere in Britain compared to the record high electricity usage, or a hand held device to commit a crime, went on this block. It was a sprawling tower of bodies because cybercrime was quite popular those days.

Everett didn’t stand a chance. He had took NASA to court and lost, spectacularly if he said so himself, and of course NASA had kept the whole thing hush hush. According to them, Everett had never been on the programme itself. He was escorted into Highbridge prison with less than a thought and an orange jumpsuit the shade of a traffic cone.

Orange wasn’t his colour at all.

His cell was small and he shared it with one other person; Harry Clearwater. Harry was a hacker who used his glasses and wit to get through each day. His dyed blue hair was fading after months of undying and it never stood right, there was always one strand or a hundred that was out of place. Harry was fresh out of university and had been paying his bills with his hacking abilities which he said were, “On par with WikiLeaks.”

It must have been a fairly accurate statement because WikiLeaks had become the leading hacker’s site for any information on government officials. Any dirt that emerged on them was posted on the site less than six months after the dirt had occurred. That was the hackers being lenient.

Harry was an alright bloke. The only one that actually welcomed Everett into prison life on those first few days. The rest of them were tossers.

They didn’t deserve Everett remembering all of their names.

Apparently all of those on Block J had nicknames. Harry’s was Hack Harry naturally, there was a bloke named Killer Leak, another named Black Man Stealer. The last one was a little bit racist but the man in question was guilty of identity theft of a black man, so the name became self-explanatory.

Everett found that the new guy always told his story in the common room of their block. All of Block  J was allowed to come together in their common room once every week and Everett waited until the second outing to tell his story. They were the only ones who knew about the NASA scandal. And that made Everett pleased.

At least someone knew even if they were criminals.

He got the nickname Space Stealer or SS for short. He wanted to change it because of the links to the Nazi SS but no, unfortunately the name stuck.

Block J may have got on with him alright but the rest of the prison didn’t. The cafeteria was the worst place he could be.

He sat peacefully with Harry at a table eating his random sludge, which somehow passed as some kind of food, until word of his presence made their way to Bradley Kings. Bradley Kings was massive, with muscles for days, a stereotypical head honcho except with fake teeth, little hair and a patchy beard. His muscles were the only things that made him look terrifying. Looks were deceiving in this case because Harry visibly tensed, “Nod your head and agree with him,” he hissed from next to Everett.

Everett was terribly confused until Bradley slapped his hands on the table in front of them, his own goons standing like a boy band behind him.

Even he had to admit that it looked intimidating, but it was stereotypically so. “So,” Bradley began drawing out the single syllable, “I heard that you had a fancy name and you stole from NASA themselves, big bad NASA, big bad Fancy Name.”

It seemed like Bradley liked to give out nicknames too.

“I wouldn’t say that Everett is a fancy name but whatever is your taste man,” Everett quirked and saw the exact moment Harry flinched beside him.

“I am not your Man, if anything you are mine,” Bradley emphasised, his knuckles growing whiter against the table. Everett didn’t focus on Harry flinching beside him, he powered on through like a steam train through the 1900s.

“I have to let you know that I’m a straight guy, I don’t fall for muscles and charm. By the way your charming skills need to be improved here,” Everett was running his mouth and loving the reaction. Bradley pulled himself closer to Everett so that a thin strip of the table was left between their bodies.

“Listen Fancy Name, I am the boss around here. I delegate where the line is in this place and if you step out of line,” he motioned to the strip of the table as though it mimicked the metaphorical line, “You’ll get hanged by that line.” He smiled, showing Everett the row of pearly whites which he knew were fake.

“I’ve never been hanged before by a strip of table,” Everett mused and smiled when the ‘boss’ became even more frustrated. He shouldn’t have enjoyed the reaction but he did.

“You’ll know how it feels soon enough Fancy Name,” he stalked off in a huff, rolling his back muscles to look even more intimidating.

Everett looked on at him and wondered if the man had a family. Probably not, people with family had things to lose and that man acted like everything he had to lose had already been long lost.

“What was that?” Harry questioned getting up close to Everett’s personal space.

“That was me being me,” Everett downplayed and shovelled another mouthful of crappy food into his mouth. How was this allowed past the regulations? “What I want to know is how he knew I was here?”

“What?” Harry didn’t understand, Everett thought it was because Harry trusted his block mates, more than he probably should.

“I’ve been here for nearly two weeks and in that time he hasn’t approached. It’s only been after I shared my story that he dared to show. If he wanted to know my name he would have found it out for himself and seek me out but he didn’t. That meant that someone from Block J went and told him, they were the only ones that heard my story physically.” He mused playfully, twitching his fork around at the people around him. These people were from his block and they had blabbed, he wanted to know which one.

“Everett that’s preposterous, this is our block, no one would—“ Harry tried and failed as Everett was watching the people at their table. There was one person who wouldn’t dare meet his eyes.

“Killer Leak, have anything to say?” Everett interjected. The other man came clean without even looking at him.

“His crew know my daughter. She just gave birth a month ago, I don’t want anything, anything to happen to them.” Killer Leak burst out and Everett understood.

“I’m a recruit from NASA, I’m smart enough to figure these things out,” Everett answered to Harry’s unasked question of how he knew he had a Judas amongst their block, “But we all have family KL, we all need to protect someone, even if that someone is ourselves.”

Everett stood, left his half bowl of god awful food, and made his way back to his cell.

He found out what it felt like to toe the line when he was walking to the laundry room and he found a mothers meeting going on there. Some of Block J were there along with Kings and his crew. Everett stayed by the door, listening in. That didn’t work because someone cornered him.

“Ah, Fancy Name, you’re just in time,” Kings crooned and he was ushered into the room, people moving aside so that he could be at the front of the rough circle of people.

“We have these meetings every week, maybe you didn’t get the memo,” Kings went on and then looked away, “Now guys who is the weakest among us?” he called this out to the people around him and everyone but Everett answered.

Hacker H they cried out over and over again, Everett didn’t know who this Hacker H was exactly but he could guess. He could guess in the way that the people behind him clamped their hands on his upper arms to stop him from moving. He could guess in the way Harry was pushed forward, meeting Everett’s eyes for just a second, before being pushed in front Kings himself.

“Do you know what I’m in here for?” Kings asked cocking his head to one side. Harry was looking for a way out but the circle of bodies wouldn’t allow it. “I once jabbed a piece of glass in some guys eye so hard it came out the back of his head, bits of brain mush still clinging onto it.” Kings smiled as Harry shrunk in fear.

Everett found what it was like toeing Bradley King’s line when his crew came up to swarm Harry, just out of university Harry, and jab him in the gut with a mean hook. Then they punched him. Kicked him. Got him on the floor.

The people holding onto Everett made him watch every second, even as he struggled against them. Kings was loving it coaching Harry to fight back. Harry didn’t fight back.

Harry was put into the prison infirmary after that and Everett spent many nights in his room alone.

In punishment he corned KL one day, hunching the other man against the wall, “What’s up with King’s weakest link game play?” he uttered getting close to the man’s face.

KL didn’t really look bothered, he probably knew that Everett wasn’t the sort of man to punch a guy randomly. “Boss likes to make people fight, he also likes to show people how having friends and not enemies in this place is a weakness.” KL pushed himself out of Everett’s hold and Everett let him.

If Kings liked a fight Everett would give him one.

He put his plan into action the next time Kings had his mother’s meeting in the laundry room. “Who is the weakest among us?” Kings shouted and before the people could rejoice Everett shouted his answer.

“I am!” he said and walked forward, shouldering through the crowd to get to the front, “I’ve heard that you find having friends instead of enemies weak. So my friendship with Harry, the kid you punched to unconsciousness last week, qualifies as being weak.”

“Having friends is a nuisance,” Kings mused and poised a hand on his chin, “I would rather have minions instead.” He laughed like a stereotypical criminal and Everett rolled his eyes. Could this guy be real? “Do you know what crime I committed to get in here?” he asked and again Everett couldn’t believe it.

“Pretended to be the Joker and got arrested for public indecency?” Everett answered and watched as King’s eyes alighted with frustration. That was the key, because a hand was flicked and that was the sign. The crew descended on Everett.

Now normally Everett wasn’t the kind of person to hit other people but in this instance he had a cause. He had a friend to protect. He had an anger that was ignited the day Nick Thornby put on his crown of thorns and set his sight on Everett.

So for once in his life Everett had sort of a reason to fight back. So fight back he did.

~

 

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