I got a thousand year sentence.
I deserved twice that. Didn’t matter no way. No chance of parole, so I was gonna be in the pen for the rest of my life. I can do the time standing on my head. Been in and out since I was a kid.
They called me Donny Bracco. The name means bloodhound. My job was to find people who didn’t pay what they owe and put ‘em down. Runs in the family, I heard. My pop was a hitter, too. Until a year ago my life was smooth, like butter.
The war kept everyone too busy to keep up with crime. When the Locusts first showed up, they made a mess of things but they weren’t able to close the deal. Great from space, not so good on the ground. So they came to fight, we fought back. It was pretty even.
They came in waves. They was predictable so our “criminal element”, what they call us in the news, knew when we had to make our deals and get scarce. Alien invasion was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Then overnight, I got popped. My lawyer was killed in a bombing and my public defender wasn’t shit so I got a grand, a grand in hard time. A year later, they made me an offer to get out of prison. I jumped at it.
Told me I was gonna lose my teeth as part of some experiment. Electrodes in my mouth or some such. Whatever. They put me under and when I woke up I didn’t remember nothing except for this goddamn noise all around me all the time and these new metal teeth.
I was told I would have to attend school on some military base as part of probation. Always overcast, never saw the sun. They told me if I did their program, I would be free to go in five years. They put this big collar on my neck, and connected it to some other ‘trodes on my head.
Going to school every day was not for me. That’s why I dropped out in the fifth. But this time it was easier. Ideas came quicker, lasted longer and I remembered everything. I started thinking about things in a way I never had before. My life had been a series of mistakes I got to reminisce over between classes.
I stayed in a crappy little apartment and my neck-gear kept me on time, reminding me if I missed class it would promptly blow my head off. It was hard to explain to chicks why I had a glowing, talking necklace but it didn’t stop me from nailing ‘em if I could.
Three years into my sentence, the noise stopped. For years it had sounded like a construction site in my head but now, there was nothing. It was great. I celebrated with a threesome and all the booze I could drink. The computer even suggested I stay home the next day.
Every day after that, classes became harder, the teachers insisting that I pay attention and the coursework was harder, stranger, sciences I never heard of. I hate all of my professors. Thought of knocking one off — except for the exploding head thing.
Graduation was approaching. It’s amazing how fast five years go by.
The two girls I was doing came to my graduation and I was dressed in my cap and gown heading to the stage for my diploma. My professor was going to be giving me my diploma and I waited in a crowd of people I didn’t know. I assume they were in other classes or programs.
My professor gave me my certificate and told me I should read it.
For the first time in a long time, I felt that fear you get when you are about to wack someone –anticipation and dread.
“To Donald Bracco, in service of the planet Earth, you have been posthumously rewarded with the Civilian Defense Medal of Valor for your participation in the bombing of the Locust homeworld. We salute you.”
The sound was back, louder than ever, my body felt heavy. I ran to the girls and they held me, I could see in their eyes, equations, calculations, programs. I could see my body, suddenly from the outside; sleek and streamlined, engines firing.
My campus faded and I saw the dark green planet in the sky above me. I’m still a hitter. I picked my target.
Then I felt the heat, the parabolic heat of reentry.
Changing Tartarus © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved