“If god had not made yellow honey, men would consider figs far sweeter”
“Back to your cells, inmates! And I swear to God, Johnson, if I get any lip, I’ll beat your ass right here in the yard.”
“Easy there, tough guy.”
“No, I like it. Just, this vein pops in your neck when you yell. It’s kinda gross.”
“How’s this! Is this quiet enough for you!”
“Yeah, see? That’s disgusting.”
“Let’s get inside, I’m freezing.”
“Gotta get that vein some heat?”
Tuesday night. Only three hours left on this shift. Three hours. Holy shit, can time go any slower? I don’t remember the last time I ate. Brought a lunch, but the damn thing makes me sick just looking at it. But I feel like throwing up every five seconds. Flu is going around. Poole has been sniffling and coughing since Monday. Maybe I should buy him a hat for Christmas. Doesn’t even have to be expensive. I think I saw one at the store the other day. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do.
“When’s the last time you went to church, Poole?”
“Jesu—I mean, goodness not this again.”
“I’m just asking. Been lonely at service. Could use a friend.”
“Why don’t you bother any of the other guards with this shit?”
“I literally hate everyone here. You know that.”
“Yeah, I know.”
My name is Ronda. Last name isn’t important. Well, that’s not entirely true. People around here only call me by my last name. But I hear it so much, I hate it now, obviously.
“But seriously, Poole, think about it.”
I’m a Christian. And not one of those fake Christians who scolds others in public while I watch torture porn from the comfort of my own home. This shit is important to me. And yeah, I cuss and sometimes, I drink and have my other vices. But I’m trying every day to be better. Trying every day to be a good person. It’s why I’m a corrections officer. You may not get it but I don’t expect you to.
“Get a load of this, Moon. This inmate is singing.”
Moon. My last name is Moon. Don’t even try to think of a funny Moon joke. I’ve heard them all.
“Who cares? As long as he isn’t stabbing or raping someone, I don’t care.”
“You know, everyone says guard duty with you is the worst. They say you act tough but when you should be tough, on the inmates, you turn soft.”
“The man is singing, Randy. You’re not asking me to be tough. You’re asking me to be cruel.”
See what I’m talking about? This job can get dark. Randy Poole is a good friend of mine, but even he lets the “perks” of this job get to him. Takes out his anger and exercises his inner demons on the inmates. I don’t want to do that. Obviously, sometimes I mess up, but I ask for forgiveness every week. So what if they call me the worst guard to be with. None of them have ever said anything to my face.
Time gets jumbled here. Before I know it, it’s morning and I’m headed home. Worked a full twenty-four hours today. Christmas is coming soon. And I’ve got a lot more than a cheap hat to buy. Full family. Two successful, loving parents, and six siblings. One’s a lawyer, one’s a professional athlete, and the rest are just rich. And then there’s me. My family may consider me a failure, but I stay out of trouble and pay my bills. And I stay true to what I believe in, and that’s God.
THE NEXT DAY
Mornings are okay. I don’t have a formal hatred of them or anything. They’re like that one cousin you see every couple of years at Thanksgiving. Most of the time, they’re annoying as hell and want to show you pictures of their ugly dogs. But every once in awhile you’ll both get the right amount of drunk and have the time of your lives. That’s me and the morning. And today, we’re both the right amount of drunk.
“Poole, I’m telling you, this purple man is a fraud.”
“His name is Mystic Man, Moon. And you’ve seen the videos. Nothing fake about that.”
Randy will believe anything. Nothing I can say to change his mind.
“Oh yeah, I forgot, you only believe in a God who you’ve never seen.”
“Watch it, Randy.”
“I’m just saying, Ronda. Mystic Man probably isn’t perfect. But he can do things we can’t and he’s using that influence for good.”
“You don’t have to be able to fly to be a good person. You can be that influence right here.”
“Whatever. Hey, hey!”
Fights aren’t as common here as people think. But when they do happen, they tend to get messy. Even though Poole is a fuck stick sometimes, he’s a great fighter. Except, the inmate who was fighting just happened to be the most skilled fighter here.
“Little help, Moon?”
Not much I can do here. The inmate’s name is Samuel Riley. Ugly guy. Red hair and beard, looks like he’s a part of the Irish Mafia. Yeah, I know I shouldn’t stereotype, but I really hate this guy.
I charge in to help Randy. At first, I hold my own. The other inmate goes down fairly easily. Sam though is a challenge. He hits Randy with one of the best-looking hooks I’ve ever seen. It’s just me and him staring at each other.
“You wouldn’t a lady, would you?”
He just stares at me. He doesn’t smile, he doesn’t frown, nothing. Just stands there. Next thing I know, his foot makes contact with my face and it hurts like hell. Two other guards finally come to help me out and it takes two more after them to restrain Sam Riley.
A BIT LATER
I know I said I’m a god-fearing woman. Always will be. And I know what I’m about to do is wrong. But Riley is an animal. And this headache he gave me is the worst.
“On your feet, Riley!” I yell at the top of my lungs.
Of course, he got sent to the hole for the fight. He’s used to this place. I don’t know what I’m going to do to him, or how far I’m willing to go. But I really hate this guy.
Riley just looks at me. He doesn’t stand and doesn’t look the least bit intimidated by me.
“I said on your feet, inmate!!”
Finally, he stands. There’s dry blood on his face and his dark green eyes look menacing as hell right now. What’s he in here for again? Oh yeah, that’s right.
“What’s your deal, Riley? You do this shit every week. Don’t you get tired of eating dog shit and hearing the screams of the crazies down here?”
“Samuel. If we’re going to talk, please call me Samuel.”
“And what makes you think we’re going to talk?”
“Your nice. Nicer than the other guards. I’m sure you wanted to come down here and beat me senseless. I could hear you breathing as you walked down the hall. But now, that anger isn’t in you. It’s left.”
This guy thinks he’s so smart.
“Got it all figured out, huh? I could kill you right now. You know that, right?”
Riley, excuse me, Samuel, nods slowly.
“But you won’t.”
“And why’s that?”
Samuel takes a deep breath and sits back down on the floor. He puts his hands on the top of his head. Then, he exhales.
“Then you won’t get into heaven.”
This little shit.
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t play dumb. Let your love of Jesus Christ ring throughout the hallways of this prison. Don’t be ashamed in our Lord and Savior, blessed be his name.”
There’s a calm sincerity in what he just said. It sent chills up my back, like the kind you get after a great orgasm.
“You a believer?”
“Don’t insult me,” he says coldly.
I don’t know what to say. I just stand there, looking silly, forgetting why I came down here in the first place.
“But I do believe in God, though. One God above all. That keeps the universe in order. There’s a balance to everything, Poole. And God is the one who keeps it all together. I will never know what he knows. Hell, I’ll never even understand it. But I know that it exists.”
“You’re one of those assholes who thinks he knows everything, huh?”
“Did you listen to a word I just said?”
“I’m not going to let you dampen my faith in the lord, Samuel.”
“Never wanted to. You’re the one who doubted yourself. You want me to elaborate on my thoughts. You’re interested.”
Fuck him! But, he’s right.
“That’s what I thought. See, you want to know one of the biggest lies in Christianity? That Jesus is white. Another lie is that Jesus is black. Everyone sees Jesus how they want to. That isn’t alarming to you? That each demographic sees him differently?”
“The idea of heaven. It’s intellectually dishonest. It forces people to live their lives as a lie. You shouldn’t aim to be a good person for some treat in the end. Or because of the threat of a hell. Nothing bad happens to anyone who does bad things. Their souls just aren’t balanced. They can’t sleep at night.”
“So you’re God. It doesn’t reward people or punish them?”
“It just is, Poole.”
“You know, I heard you talking with that other guard about Mystic Man. It’s why I started the fight.”
“Not as much as you are for not believing in Mystic Man. He’s proven time and time again to be something of great power. And you think your deity who can turn water into wine is greater?”
This is the longest I’ve ever interacted with this moron. He laughs after he says that. Loud as hell. Prompts the rest of the inmates down here to start making noise. The place is a zoo for a full ten minutes.
“Is Mystic Man greater than your God?”
“That’s what I’ve been struggling with. Mystic Man has pushed my simple view on God to the extreme. And I’m losing my mind.”
“That another reason you started the fight? So you could have someone to talk to?”
“Help me,” he says. The same passion and serenity from before is in his voice. “Help me find out the truth about his existence. We can help each other, learn from each other. We could discover things no one else has even dreamed of.”
“I can bring you books or something, Samuel. But that’s it.”
“No, no, no. Break me out. Let’s go find Mystic Man together!”
Is he serious? I’m supposed to leave this job? This job that has amazing benefits? No, he really is crazy. And I’m secure in my beliefs.
Or am I? Sure, I’ve heard those things he’s saying before. Thought about them myself. But I’ve never met someone like him. There’s something about him that intrigues me. And no, it’s not sexual at all. The man looks like he should be a zombie on television. No, this attraction is definitely intellectual. And I don’t remember the last time, if ever, I’ve felt that with someone.
“I’m curious about Mystic Man, too. But I can’t just run off with you. I don’t even fucking know you.”
“Something to think about, then.”
I shut the window to his cell and start to walk away. Was I seriously considering that? Running away with a prisoner to find truth? Ronda, what in the world are you thinking? And how could you let him shake your conviction with some simple ass words. Dude could’ve saw that on another inmate’s phone for all I know. Yeah, that’s it. He had his chance, and it got him locked up. I’ve had chances to be what he’s become. But Jesus has kept me on the path. The nice, smooth, forty-five thousand dollar a year path. And Samuel Riley isn’t going to mess that up.
Enjoy it down here, Samuel. You’re going to die here and there’s nothing you can do about it.
INTRODUCING: SAMUEL RILEY AND RONDA MOON. THE “SEEKERS”
Probably the most interesting members of Project Element. Samuel and Ronda met in Prison where Samuel was locked up. But now, they serve as the powerhouse duo of the team. Their connection to the truth is strong. And no one can deny the existence of the Earth. When connected to the ground, they have super strength that can rival Mystic Man’s. They wanted to be scholars, seekers of truth and wisdom. Ironic that they punch people for a living now, isn’t it?
END PART 3
The team is coming together! There’s Gill, The Burning Hawk, and now these two, The Seekers! Each with their own special ability and they’ll all be forced to work together. I hope you’ve been enjoying this weird story and hopefully you jump into the Mystic Man Universe. And if you haven’t make sure to read the other Mystic Man Universe short stories. Sector 43 and God Killer. Part 4 of Project Element will be up later this week. Thanks again for reading.
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Link to Buy Mystic Man.