Retribution

Writing prompts: Horror!

You wake up to a world in which all prisons are shut down, releasing dangerous prisoners into your neighborhood.

***************************

People were terrified. Ever since the order had come down from the TOP that all prisons were to be closed, people were afraid to leave their homes–and afraid not to.

The reason for the closings? Well, the TOP said all prisons were inhumane, and were guilty of cruel and unusual punishment. Criminals, said the TOP, would be far better off to be rehabilitated in normal living conditons, not caged up like zoo animals.

The end result, of course, was that law-abiding citizens were now caged up in their own homes, desperately searching for ways to protect themselves from the freed prisoners. Very few ordinary citizens had guns of any sort, and they were secreted away from the prying eyes of the TOP.

People tried putting bars on all their windows, but the criminal just climbed to the roofs, broken holes with axes or hammers, and occupied attics wherever they chose. The owners of those houses were under a new sort of tyranny–become servants to the criminals, or watch your children die.

They tried alarm systems. Criminals laughed. Any experienced thief knew how to turn off alarms.

They tried dogs. Many dogs died of poison; others were killed with knives or bats; still others were shot. It seems the criminals had free access to guns.

The horror of constant bloodshed became a daily reality. No woman walked alone, anywhere. No child was left unguarded. Men who lived in neighborhoods learned to band together to provide safety for each other. And that, of course, led to vigilantism. The TOP was appalled at what he labelled “domestic terrorism” being used as a tool to keep the released criminals under some kind of control.

Secret meetings were held to determine how to fight the criminal population that now seemed to own the streets. The police had been weakened past the point of effectiveness. They quit, retired, resigned in droves, most of them either unable to find jobs or working security somewhere. People were desperate to figure out how to protect themselves from drug pushers, child molesters, rapists, murderers, thieves, arsonists–a long list of criminal threats that now had free access anywhere they wanted it.

Anarchy became the order of the day. Schools were unsafe. Youth programs were undermined by pedophiles. Vandalism and looting became daily activities. Stores were empty, boarded up.

And normal citizens became angry to the point of criminal behavior themselves, in an effort to regain the safety which had been a normal part of their lives before the prisons were shut down.

The TOP made sweeping announcements of proposed reforms; of penalties for vigilantism; of programs for ex-prisoners to receive counseling to help them overcome their nefarious tendencies. He mandated assigning specific areas in every city and town to be dedicated to released prisoners, building houses and apartments in which they could live, grocery stores, hospitals, libraries where they could get whatever help they needed and learn how to be productive citizens. Of course, such sweeping programs cost infinite amounts of money, which meant increased taxes for law-abiding people.

The TOP said, “Well, you’re not subsidizing prisons any more, so you should be willing to pay to help these poor unfortunate ex-prisoners get a leg up into a better life.”

The end result, much to the TOP’s dismay, was that law-abiding people grew disillusioned, angry, and desperate. Soon THEY became the criminals, and special forces were created to protect the ex-prisoners from the angry new criminals.

It was a horror story, a nightmare from which even the TOP couldn’t awaken.

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