Read Utopian Day Online

Authors: C.L. Wells

Tags: #thriller, #crime, #action adventure, #fiction action adventure, #fiction thrillers, #crime action adventure, #thriller action and suspense, #fiction crime novel, #thriller action adventure

Utopian Day (5 page)

BOOK: Utopian Day
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The EMT felt for a pulse but couldn't find any. He
took out another epinephrine shot from his medical bag and gave it
to Paul; then he took over administering CPR. He tried desperately
to blow air into Paul's lungs, but couldn't. After trying to
resuscitate Paul for fifteen minutes, the exhausted EMT sat back to
catch his breath. He looked over at Laura, who was still clutching
Paul's hand.


I'm sorry.”

The next few days were a blur to Laura. A special
investigator was flown out to investigate Paul's death. Everyone
was questioned. The medicine chest lock was tested and the code was
changed. The new code was printed on the outside of the cabinet so
everyone could see it. Then, the following day, everything returned
to the new normal. The same schedule, the same activities, the same
work, the same food. Except, no Paul.

About two weeks later, in one of the group sessions,
they were informed that Paul, who was allergic to shellfish, had
accidentally ingested shellfish from an improperly labeled
pre-packaged sandwich. The code on the medicine cabinet had been
changed during routine maintenance, but the form that was filled
out so that the inmates could be notified of the new code had
fallen behind a desk and was only found after the investigation
into Paul's death.

It was about a month later that James showed up in
Utopia. Laura hated to even look at him. His very presence was a
constant reminder that Paul was dead. In her heart, she knew it
wasn't James' fault, but she needed someone to focus her anger on,
and for now, James fit the bill.

There was no use trying to go back to sleep now. It
would be a few hours before her mind settled down enough to allow
that to happen. She wished she could make herself a cup of tea and
sit on a nice couch with a blanket wrapped around her, but that
wasn't going to happen either. Even though she was in Utopia, she
was still in prison, and in a room with one bed and an
uncomfortable wooden chair with little padding on the seat. It
would be another few hours before she could leave her room to get
that cup of tea. Instead, she lay back down in bed and stared up
into the darkness, letting her mind wander back over the years and
consider how she had ended up here.

Laura had grown up in a troubled home with abusive
parents. She could still remember hiding under the kitchen table
while her parents fought, throwing whatever happened to be near
them at each other and yelling at the top of their lungs. Her dad
finally left when she was seven years old, but instead of things
getting better, they got worse. Her mom then began a series of
relationships with abusive boyfriends. As Laura got older and began
to mature, the boyfriends began taking an interest in her
physically. More than one of them would sexually abuse her over the
years.

When she was fourteen, she had had enough, and ran
away from home. She fell in with a drug dealer and began taking and
selling drugs. Her taste in men wasn't any better than her
mother's, and she and her drug-dealing boyfriend would have violent
fights. She was arrested for drugs on a couple of occasions and did
time for possession. Then, one night after getting out of jail for
the second time, her boyfriend came home in a drug-induced rage.
For the first time in their relationship, she was terrified that he
might actually kill her. He beat her so badly that she passed out.
When she woke up on the floor, bloodied and bruised from the
beating, she crawled into the bedroom to find him asleep in the
bed, like nothing had happened. She pulled a pistol out of the
bedside table drawer and shot him six times in the head as he
slept. Next stop – prison.

The chance to come to Utopia had been a chance for a
new life. She had begun dealing with her anger and her past, and
had made real progress over the past few years. When Paul came into
the program, she kept her distance. She didn't want to get involved
with another criminal.

Over time, Paul won her over. He was funny,
charming, and he actually respected her. He did little things like
asking if he could touch her hand for the first time instead of
trying to force himself on her. He shared about his own abusive
past with a father that beat him, and how he’d left home after he
grew bigger because he was afraid he might beat his father to death
the next time he laid a hand on him. He said he didn't want to be
the same kind of person his father was. He’d begun stealing cars to
make a living at sixteen and eventually ended up in prison, then
Utopia.

Laura could relate to him. They thought about things
the same way and they both wanted their futures to be different
from their pasts. They became allies and tried to help each other
change, and encourage each other when things were tough. Slowly,
they became best friends. Then he died, and she had been in a
tailspin ever since.

The automated voice came over the loudspeaker,
bringing her back to the present and signaling the beginning of a
new day in Utopia. Normally, she hated that voice, but today she
was glad to have something else to focus on besides her own inner
voice and the memories that tormented her. Laura got out of bed and
began to get ready for the morning exercises.

Chapter Nine

 

James showed up for his counseling appointment early
and sat out in the waiting area. He wasn’t quite sure what to
expect and wondered if he was going to be asked to lay down on a
couch and talk about his childhood or something. It wasn’t long
before the door to the counselor's office opened and Greg walked
out to greet him. He held out his hand to shake and James
reciprocated.


Good afternoon, James. Good to
see you. Come on in.”

As he spoke, Dr. Greg Thompson stepped aside and
motioned with his hand towards the open door with a slight
deprecating bow. James entered the small office, seating himself in
one of the two comfortably cushioned lounge chairs which faced each
other. Dr. Thompson followed him, closing the door before
positioning himself in the remaining chair.


So, James,” Dr. Thompson began.
“It's been almost a week since you arrived here in Utopia. What do
you think?”

James was guarded as he considered his reply. He
wasn't accustomed to prison employees being so nice. For that
matter, he wasn't accustomed to speaking to a counselor either. It
felt strange.


It's much nicer than where I came
from,” he replied.


Yeah, I bet it is indeed,” Dr.
Thompson continued. “What do you think about the five practices –
the exercise, the group and individual sessions, the reading, the
hobby, the community service...?”


It's o.k. It beats being stuck in
a jail cell all day, that's for sure.”


What are you reading?”


An autobiography of Benjamin
Franklin.”


Is it enjoyable? Do you like
it?”


I'm not much of a reader, so I
get distracted when I'm reading, but so far I like it. It's not
like anything I read in school. I mean, I've heard about Benjamin
Franklin, but mostly about what he did in the American Revolution.
I never heard about the rest of his life before.”


Was there anything meaningful
that you learned? Anything that you learned about his life that
inspired you or caused you to change the way you think about
something?”

James looked over at a plant that was sitting on top
of a bookshelf in the corner.


Yeah. He said something that
stuck with me. He said, 'The most acceptable service of God is
doing good to man.' He seemed to do a lot of things that helped
other people. He started a library, started a fire department, and
a whole lot of other things that I never knew about. I guess I
never thought of getting up in the morning and thinking about how I
can help out other people a whole lot, not since my mom died
anyway.”


Do you think that would be a
better way to live than the way you have been living?”

James looked at Dr. Thompson suspiciously.


I know what you're trying to do.
You're trying to get me to admit that the way I've been living is
the wrong way and that I need to change. Well, I know that already.
It's just not that easy. I like nice things. I like to live a
certain way and I can't exactly get a great job with a background
as a bank robber.”


Do you want to change,
James?”

Dr. Thompson let the sentence hang in the air and
waited for James to reply. He didn’t say it judgmentally or in an
accusing way. The question disarmed James and found its way in,
past the defensiveness he often wore as a shield when other people
asked him questions he didn't want to answer. It was something he
had thought a lot about since getting sent back to jail.


Yes... I do.”

Again Dr. Thompson left the empty space alone and
let James' response linger in the room.


Good,” the doctor replied. “Very
good.”

 

 

Later that afternoon, it was time to work on his
official hobby. James went to the workshop with J.T. and a few of
the other inmates who also worked on their hobbies there. As he
entered the door to the warehouse, there was a box on the floor. A
white sheet of paper was taped to the box with his name scrawled
across it. He opened it up and found a bicycle manual and a set of
tools, along with some other supplies. He smiled as he picked up
the box and made his way back to where the bicycles were
stored.

Earlier in the week, he had filled out the required
form indicating he would like to fix up the bikes he’d seen in the
workshop as his hobby. He had received notice that his hobby was
approved, but no one had said anything about getting him a set of
tools or a manual. This was definitely not like the prisons he had
been in before, he mused to himself as he began rolling out the
first bicycle on the rack so he could get a better look at it.

It was a bit rusty, the tires were flat, and the
chain had been de-railed. It was painted white and green and had
silver fenders over the tires. He found a manual bicycle pump at
the end of the row of bicycles and pumped up the tires. The tires
had the small cracks in the rubber that were telltale signs of dry
rot, but they seemed to be holding air for now. He pressed down on
the tires, slightly impressed that they didn't pop outright.

He rummaged around in the box of supplies and found
a can of lubricant spray, which he sprayed on the chain after he
re-mounted it on the gear cogs. He straddled the bicycle and pushed
off tentatively, guarding against a sudden tire blowout. After
coasting a few feet without a mishap, he managed to pedal down to
the end of the aisle. He turned the bike around and rode back down
to the other end. He smiled to himself as he dismounted, putting
down the kick-stand and standing back to admire his handiwork. He
didn't know why they had the crazy rules they had, but he was
beginning to actually like this place.

Chapter Ten

 

In the weeks since his first encounter with Laura,
James had continued to be attracted to her. Her fiery personality
reminded him of his mother before she got sick. As they began the
morning run, James ran a respectful distance behind Laura, making
certain not to get too close to what he had begun to consider as
her 'no trespassing' zone. He had noticed some days that she would
run faster than others, and today was one of the faster-paced days.
Though he had never been much of a runner, he was beginning to
develop a bit of a taste for it through the daily repetition of
morning exercises.

He kept pace with Laura for the whole mile,
maintaining about a ten yard distance behind her until she
completed the prescribed mile course. He slowed to a walk once the
run was complete and he was headed to his room to change for work,
when suddenly Laura wheeled around and came to within a few feet of
him, glaring at him as she approached.


Stop following me!” she
shouted.


Whoa, hey, what's the problem?”
James replied as he put his hands up shoulder-high in a gesture of
surrender.

She shoved a finger in his direction before saying,
“You've been shadowing me for weeks and I'm over it!”


I didn't know it was bugging you,
o.k.?”


No, it's not o.k.!”

Laura stepped closer and James could feel the
low-grade electrical buzz of the device in his neck that began
whenever two of the inmates passed too close to one another in a
restricted zone. He took a step backwards and felt the buzz
subside.


Hey, watch out, you're getting
too close,” he warned.


Too close?! That's exactly what
you are, too close! I'll show you what happens when you get too
close to me!”

Without another word, Laura ran directly at James at
full speed. James began running backwards and attempted to turn
around and run, but he wasn't fast enough. The last thing he
remembered before he blacked out was the searing pain of the most
intense shock of his life.

 

 

James awoke to find himself lying on a hospital bed,
dressed in a hospital gown. He had the most intense headache he had
ever felt and immediately closed his eyes, grimacing against the
pain he felt. About ten painful minutes later, Tony, the facility
EMT, came into the room with a glass of water and two pills that he
held out to James.


Here, take these. They're
migraine pills. Bite down on them before you swallow them and
they'll make the pain stop quicker.”

BOOK: Utopian Day
7.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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