Edited Saturday night: ** NOW LOOKING FOR EVIL CHARACTERS **
It's another late afternoon at the Chesterton County Jail. A medium-sized lockup that serves...if you can really call it that...a Southern California county. The CCJ has all manner of criminals confined within its drab stucco walls. You have petty offenders brought in on bullshit warrants, on ice until they can get up in front of a judge to pay their fines or draw their time on the work details cleaning up tumbleweeds and McDonald's wrappers from the highways and byways.
Some of the criminals are a rougher sort, doing time for medium-level offenses like robbery, domestic assault, drunk driving, larceny, and drugs. And some, the jail was never meant to house: rapists, murderers, and others. But as the California budget melted down, and Chesteron County was one of the few counties with space available in its jail, the State contracted with it to hold some more violent criminals. It was cost-effective...if unpopular.
Watching the inmates are the guards. The guards are an underpaid, overworked bunch. Some are nice...some not so nice. Some are on the take for the gangs inside the jail, granting various privileges and dispensations in exchange for everything from currency to drugs. Then there are the civilian workers: doctors and nurses, maintenance, counselors, secretaries, and so forth, who do the best they can to just do their jobs and not get on the bad sides of the inmates.
The afternoon our story begins was going like any other...the jail a pressure-cooker, with its dozen or so factions all in a delicate balance. A few dozen inmates are out in the exercise yard shooting hoops and killing time. Others are eating dinner in the spartan cafeteria. There is a television there. The television is one of the few perks the inmates have. It serves to pacify the prisoners. But the old tube TV also is a flashpoint. Assaults, even murders, have been committed over the simple matter of what channel the TV is tuned to at a particular time.
Moments before the prisoners got their impromptu early release, the TV was tuned to NBA basketball. The Lakers were up 86 to 81 over the Celtics, making the prison's internal bookies happy. However, with a little over eight minutes left to go, there was still time for things to break the other way.
Or so everyone thought. In reality, time was up.
The sound of the Emergency Broadcast System cut in, clipping the Lakers bench and coaches from view. The message scrolled across the screen, simple and terrifyingly to the point:
OBJECTS INBOUND ENTERING EARTHS ATMOSPHERE TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY
"What the fuck?" One beefy, black inmate stood up, walking closer to the TV. "Put the game back on, we don't wanna hear this shit."
"What say, no speak Ingles," a Latino responded. Then the conversations became inaudible over a hubbub of voices. For a moment, the prisoners milled around the cafeteria, watching the message scroll a second and then a third time, slowly.
"All right everyone," an authoritative voice boomed, the guard holding a nightstick, "all inmates back to your cells. Everyone, line up!"
The TV picture dissolved into static. There was a boom, a deep sonic boom, the kind that went straight to your molars and then bounced around for awhile. The TV went dead--no, didn't just go dead, but imploded in a shower of sparks. There was a screeching feedback like damned souls from the guard's radio, and then it went dead. The fluorescent lights popped one by one, going off, making the gray light from the barred windows the only source of light. The smell of burnt insulation hung acrid and pungent in the air.
It was then that the inmates saw the door to the administrative section was open, and auxiliary power had failed to kick in to close it...
It is at that moment of realization that the storyline begins. Your character can be an inmate, or a guard, or one of the civilians. This is going to be a gritty tale of survival, of what rough and perhaps even evil men do when the chains that bind them are suddenly sundered, and as such it is not for the faint of heart. There will be sex, quite a bit of it nonconsensual. But there will also be a plotline...what the inmates and guards and workers do, how they survive, whether they make peace with each other, the challenges they face. And of course there is the question of what has happened to the outside...which, ultimately, will prove to be the most important matter of all...