Farneer was a cold, dry, windy planet with massive desert hills that ran for miles in every direction. Rough black mountains seemed to jut up from the barren ground at random intervals; their steep cliff faces practically littering the landscape in a blanket of grim shadows. Their jagged peaks seemed likely to scratch a giant hole in the atmosphere and drain all the oxygen out of the world. Very little could survive this far out from the Tenatian sun; and very little did. Farneer was notorious for its icy wind storms and hazardous wildlife. Sometimes the sand would move at a hundred miles an hour; and sometimes the sand would not move at all.
During these placid periods, the convict caravan would journey out to the prison facility and distribute its load of law breakers. This was a very dangerous time for both guard and inmate. Traveling was always a gamble on the road to nowhere. Occasionally an armored vehicle would go off the beaten path and fall into a sink hole, or a bottomless burn pit. Other times a chemical storm would rise and fill the air with electrical static that would short-circuit and fry all passengers in the armored vehicles. People starved to death or went mad out here. Men lost their lives out here, both the good and bad men. It was natural selection in motion; it was survival of the fittest, and it was hell.
* * *
Sami Redder sat quietly in his stiff backed seat and contemplated the short-comings of life. He gazed out the window of the armored vehicles and studied the ugly terrain as it passed slowly by. Small Zagon bushes sprang up from the sandstone and reached to the sky like gnarled fingers. Their thorny limbs looked like mutated frondon tentacles that had dehydrated. The scene looked awful and dreary.
Redder noticed a few massive, red ferns springing up from the landscape, spread out here and there. He watched them with curiosity. He had never really seen anything like them before. They were growing practically everywhere. They were tall and thick, like the trunk of a tree, and had deep red fern leaves coming out of the top of them like an exotic palm. The looked oddly beautiful.
“Do you know what those things are?” said a deep voice at his side.
Redder looked over at the man in the brown jumpsuit sitting next to him. His face was scarred and dirty from all the traveling they had done in the last few weeks. One of his neon green eyes was missing.
“I haven’t seen those things before. What are they?”
The inmate chuckled. “They’re blood ferns. They only grow on this planet.”
“I am not too sure. I never went to school and learned about them, but what I can tell you is they are nasty little things. If you ever find yourself outside the walls of Farneer prison you had better hope a wind storm gets you before one of those things do. It would be less painful.”
Redder looked out the window at the massive ferns strewn about the hills and mountains. They were swaying back and forth wildly in the wind. A thin red cloud of dust was seen falling off their limbs and fronds. It looked as if the things were crying, “What do they do to you?”
“They bleed you completely dry,” said inmate.
The inmate leaned over and pointed out the window at all the weird trees. “You see that reddish stuff falling from their leaves?”
Redder shook his head yes.
“That stuff is toxic and deadly. If you breathe that in, it will kill you. It causes the blood in your veins to explode and defuse slowly through your pores. You literally sweat all your blood out. It’s an extremely terrible, slow way to die. I think that’s how they kill the convicts here; well at least the ones convicted of murder.”
Redder smiled. “Sounds good.”
“My name is Klint Hor’i, by the way,” said the inmate cheerfully. “What’s yours stranger?”
“My name is Sami Redder.”
The inmate chuckled. “Nice to meet you, Sami. What are you in here for? What did you do? Did you kill anyone?”
“I am in here for doing the right thing, Klint. That’s why I am in here for. I did the right thing and got nailed for it.”
“Sounds intriguing,” said Klint as he stretched his legs out. He put his hands be-hind his head and tried to get comfortable, “I got nailed for heaps of things. You name it, I have probably done it. The judge finally sent me here for stealing a woman’s child. He said he couldn’t stand looking at my ugly face any more. He said I would never see the brilliant light of society ever again.”
“I plan to get out of here,” said Redder coldly. He clenched his hands into fists. So much anger was brewing inside his chest now. “I need to see a few people before I die. I need to take care of some business.”
Klint laughed at this absurd statement. “My friend, I highly doubt that. No one has ever escaped from Farneer prison. When you come here, you come here for life. You come here because your own people don’t want to look you in the face anymore. You come here because it’s where they take the trash.”
“I’ll get out,” whispered Redder.
“How are you going to do that?”
He turned and looked at Klint. “With your help.”
Klint smiled really big at this. He nodded his head. “Okay, dreamer. You have a deal. Show me the way. Show me that you know what you are talking about and ill follow you.”
“We need to wait.”
“Now that is something that I can do,” said Klint sarcastically. He leaned his head against the metal bar sticking out of the seat next to him. He closed his eye, “I can wait, and wait, and wait until I turn to dust. Heck, I have all the time in the universe to wait. Once we are inside Farneer’s walls, passing the time… will be my favorite pastime I suppose.”
The vehicle hit a mound of sand and jolted forward. The shocks shook back and forth with protest as it climbed a little embankment. The sound of thick chains rattling filled the cabin. Soon they would be within the walls of the prison.
Redder looked out the window. In the distance he could see the prison rising up over the sand like a bad omen. Its thick, black walls shot up thirty feet into the air and encompassed the whole compound in a veil of mystery. Guard towers could be seen sticking up from the north and south ends of the compound. This was going to be his new home, but only for a while.
Redder’s mind flashed back to the trial he had undergone. The judge’s words were still lingering in his mind like a bad smell. He had called him a raving lunatic; he had called him stupid and worthless fool. He had said he was one of the worst Deans in the history of the academic space fleet, and deserved to be locked up forever. Even the guards had talked about him on the way to Farneer. Everyone seemed to know who he was and what he had done. He gritted his teeth with frustration.
This isn’t over Tony, he thought viciously. When I get out of here I will kill you and your little girlfriend. I’ll make her suffer. I’ll make her bleed. I’ll get my revenge one way or another. This isn’t over.
The armored vehicle continued down the road to its destination.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, KaplEnWrite a Review