Friday, September 20, 2013

Halloween Stories: Part V

We received a lot of stories for our Halloween Hunt Writing Contest, and from September 16th we're publishing one each day until October 6th - when the Winner's story opens as a hunt!

Read them all and stay curious.. whose story got turned into the hunt?

The stories released are unedited and pasted as submitted to us.
- Kiana -

Today's story is by DevinVaughn



Deep in the Pacific Ocean there is a floating pile of garbage twice the size of the United States. It's within the center of this swirling mass that civilization's other trash is held: terrorists, murderers, and the criminally insane. Death Row Island, as it is called, serves as a secret prison where the government can make certain undesirable people disappear, no questions asked.
From the top of the extant volcano, a bell tolled. Haggard people farming parched soil, and fishing barren seas looked up. A voice boomed, "The first Death Vote of the United Inmate Isle now convenes." Smiles curled up on their lips for they knew what was coming. Their victory would taste sweet indeed. 

The town crier looked out the gathering crowd. So many skinny faces deep with shadows. One among them however stood out with cheeks plump and rosy. He began, "In his wisdom, our leader has decreed the only law of the land is contained within this very box." His hand hovered dramatically over the ballot box with all subtly of a carnival showman. "In here, is the will of the Citizen Inmates. Let the vote begin."

On each submitted piece paper was a name and the desired method of execution.

"By popular vote, inmate Fuller is chosen for death. He shall be given ten minutes to flee. He will then be captured, slowly roasted alive, and consumed to the delight of everyone here."

The plump man in the crowd, stepped back in horror. "No! No! You can't be serious! Guys look. It's medical condition. I got diabetes. I can't help it if I'm fat! I wasn't stealing rations!"
The crowd gathered around him. "Oink. Oink," they chanted. "Oink! Oink!"

The announcer turned the hour glass upside down. "Better run, Piggie."

Fuller's expression twisted to pure hate. "Fine!" If he was not going to live, neither were they. He headed straight to the stash of dried seaweed hidden by their "Dear Leader." He would burn it all to hell. They may eat him, but soon they would die too from starvation! He laughed evilly. He hoped they choked on him.

Chapter One

One Month Earlier

Brad I. Deea was a young idealistic college student working on his doctorate from the school of psychology. His thesis was that it's possible to rehabilitate criminals. Evil can be treated as easily as the common cold. Using advanced brain scans, he planned to locate the exact area of the brain where 'evil' is located. But first he would need to scan the worst of the worst.

As luck would have it, his grant request fell across the desk of a high ranking senator who was intrigued by his ideas. He got the funding and a ticket to a secret government prison.

Funny, he had never heard of the place. Apparently, there were only two ways on or off the island: by powered boat or helicopter. A sailboat or raft would just hopelessly circle the island. And swimming was out of the question. There was nothing for miles, and ships avoided this nasty patch of ocean that was full of propeller damaging flotsam and industrial waste. It was truly one of the most godforsaken places on earth. The perfect place to house criminals.

Unfortunately, he would have company on the journey to the island, a new inmate who would be incarcerated there. He didn't know what the man did, and didn't want to know. He didn't know what the man did, and didn't want to know. He felt uneasy being on the small boat with such a hardened criminal.

Not all things floating past the boat were plastic bags and bottles, he saw part of a roof with the skeletal remains of a person on top of it.

A tsunami victim swept out to sea?

He shuttered. He was happy when the foreboding island came into view. At the top was a prison. At the base was a small boat landing.

As they approached the dock, suddenly gunshots rang out. Sirens began to wail. He saw two armed men in bright orange jumpsuits running towards them on the shore.
"Oh shit!" The captain pulled hard on the wheel. The boat tipped dangerously the side. 

Brad slipped, his head banging sharply on the side of the boat.

Chapter Two
"Woooo! Burn, Baby! Burn!"

Brad slowly cracked open his eyes. He moaned. His head hurt. Where was he? He felt sand between his fingers, water lapping against his legs. He smelled smoke. He glanced behind him and saw a raging inferno. The capsized boat, the dock, and the water around it were all on fire.

"That was our ride, asshole!"

Brad turned back just in time to see a large hairy man grab the neck of a smaller one, and snap it like it was a twig.

"Hey," the man nodded in his direction as he dropped the lifeless body of his freind. "You the new guy? What you in for?"

Brad squinted at him confusion. "In for?" Then it dawned on him, the man thought he was the new inmate being transferred there. He wasn't wearing a prison jumpsuit, but he also not wearing a prison guard uniform. No one except the prison warden knew he was coming.

"Nothing. I'm innocent."

"Aren't we all? Aren't we all?" The man laughed. He offered his hand to help him up, the same hand just he used to just kill a man. "You might not want to stay in that water too long. God knows what's in that floating flammable crap."

Chapter Three

The first week on the island was the most dangerous for Brad. It was chaos. Inmates running wild. Old scores being settled. All the guards had been either shot, stabbed, or thrown off the cliff. The body of the prison warden was hung from a dead tree overlooking the ocean as a warning to any authorities who would come. There was no one left to maintain order. And the stench was unbearable.

Brad figured he just needed to stay alive long enough to be rescued.

He hid as far away from rioting inmates as possible in a small cavern along the steepest part of the cliff. After the two days had passed, it was time for him think about his own survival. He was not big enough, or strong enough, to fight for the food in the storehouse, so he turned his attention to finding some other kind of food source on the island.
There was no fresh water, so he used bowl-shaped trash that washed up on the shore to collect rain water. Next he turned his attention to food. The most obvious place was the ocean. Catching fish was hard to do so he turned instead to something far easier to retrieve, seaweed. There was a nice patch of the stuff on the northwest side of the island, and it was very nutritious. He didn't know if he was also consuming toxic waste but at least it was food. He could even dry it and save it for later.

As another week passed, he began to wonder if anyone was coming. He found a plastic bottle with a cap, paper, and even a pen. He wrote a plea for help, explained the situation, and tossed the bottle back into the sea, where it just circled the island and went nowhere.

He began to loose hope, but that all changed when his hiding place was invaded.

Chapter Four
"So this where you been hiding?" The brute he had met on the beach climbed up into his perch and helped himself to Brad's meager food supplies. 

Brad shrank away from him. "I'm not looking for trouble."

The man laughed, and chewed on the seaweed. "Hmm…. Not too not bad. Salty. Dry. Like a green kind of potato chip." He took a bowl of water to wash it down.

Brad felt nervous. This guy was not dumb. "It's… it's safer to be away from everyone else," he stuttered. "They're going to come back. The guards."

"Oh? That's what you think?" The man put down the bowl and stared deeply into his eyes.

Brad fraught the urge to shiver.

"Why would they want to do that? Without supplies, it's only a matter of time before their little problem corrects itself."

Brad gulped.

"But you, ….you could change all that, couldn't you? You're not like everyone else. You're smart. I can tell. What'd you say you're in for?"

He hid his hands so the guy could not see they were shaking. "Unorthodox scientific experiments."

The man looked at him serious. Then burst out into laughing. "You're a god damned mad scientist?" He put his arm around Brad like he was his new best friend. "Survival of the fittest! My brawn, your brains. We're going to make it!"

Brad tried to not turn up his nose at strong body oder of the man.

"There was nothin' more I wanted then to get off this shithole. But I don't want that now. I see an opportunity. This land is ours. The rules here are the ones we make. This place is a paradise!"

Brad carefully considered the man's words. "You are the one a behind the inmate insurrection?"

"Damn straight," the man grinned. "You can call me Czar."

Chapter Five
That was how he went from being a respectable law abiding person to being imprisoned on an island of criminals. Czar said he was being held captive "for his own protection" in a secret bunker below the prison along with two females. Both of the women were insane, but since they were young enough to have children they were considered valuable resources.

It was his job to solve the fledgling nation's many problems: water, food, power, and management.

It was his idea to start to a reward program. Part of his theory was that positive reenforcement, love, and understanding could rehabilitate hardened criminals. The inmate who set the best example for the week would be rewarded with a "date" to one of the women. But his idea was immediately shot down when the fiery redhead bit off the ear of the first "winner."

Czar and he discussed the failure of positive reinforcement on managing the unmanageable inhabitants of the island. They had been tossing around words like "Natural Selection" and "Vitality curve" when the idea of the Death Vote came into being. Since Czar hated rules with a passion, he decided the only rule of the land would be the democratically decided Death Vote.

The inmates would have killed each other off anyway, Brad thought. At least this way there was more method then madness to who was killed. Their bloodlust could be managed. Their violence controlled. And the anticipation of spectacle could make them willing to behave long enough to satisfy their basic necessities. The added bonuses were that without as many mouths to feed, the food would last longer, and with less troublemakers, island's community would become more cooperative and organized. Afterall, wasn't Australia originally a penal colony? Why wouldn't it work here? It was perfect place to see if his ideas could actually work. Harden criminals turned into useful productive members of society.
Fear and Ostracization were the most powerful behavior modification tools they had.

Chapter Six

Each time the bell rang, Brad cringed.

Czar was very pleased how the Death Vote was advancing his cause. He delighted telling Brad in gory detail all that transpired just to see him turn a paler shade of white.

The inmates were inventing brutal ways to kill a person. Each time more sadistic than the last.

When not plotting to satisfy their bloodlust, the inmates did manage to farm, fish, and build something like a village on the island using washed up bits of trash. There was a church. Several houses. Even a carnival.

Brad's curiosity about the changes in the inmates' behavior amused Czar. He allowed Brad to conduct interviews. Good or the bad, Brad documented not just in detail about each person who was condemned by the Death Vote, why they were picked, and how they were executed, but also how the island the evolving from a prison into a nation. Making a record of these events was the sole comfort in his life.

Then one day two miracles happened.

There was no name submitted for the Death Vote. None. The inmates that remained had lost their bloodlust. They were too closely united to bear the thought of loosing one more of their own. They had become law-abiding productive citizens of their tiny island.

Brad swept for joy as he eagerly wrote down this wonderful news.
The second miracle was then the bell rang wildly, but the Death Vote had already been called off.

He stood up and looked outside his prison bars towards the ocean.

A warship had appeared off the coast.

A wave of relief washed over him. He thanked God. Finally, he would be rescued.


Soldiers in gas masks charged onto the shore. They methodically checked each inch of the island, often stepping over bodies that fell where they stood. They eventually made their way down to the secret bunker where a young man and two females were held in a separate cages.

The team leader radioed the warship, "All clear."

A short time later, a black hawk helicopter landed on the roof of the prison. A man in full protective Hazmat suit stepped out.

"He found him, Senator."

He nodded solemnly and followed soldiers below.

The body of Brad was half slumped against the wall with the only window in the room. The senator looked sadly at the once idealistic bright eye college student. He was younger then his own son.

He picked up Brad's diary and carefully glanced through each page.

"What would you like us to do, sir?"

He placed the diary back on the desk carefully, and turned to leave. "Burn it. Burn it all."

==== THE END ====

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