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Small Talk


Kinnin's cell was part of a multilayered concrete labyrinth that houses thousands of captives inside its sunless confines. The inmates denied the sky lived according to the dictates of the electric lamps that buzzed overhead. Faint sounds of humanity carried through the iron door. Diminutive echoes penetrated the cell before dissipating into the thick silence. Kinnin was in his late 20's. He was energetic with a congenial and outgoing personality that made the isolation of prison all the more punishing. He was ceaseless in his drive to mitigate the torment. He immersed himself in literature, even occasionally reading sports statistics so he could find common ground with the guards that patrolled the corridors of caged humans.
Kinnin became friends with a guard named Beck. They would have daily discussions that weren't always terribly interesting to him but given this was Kinnin's only human contact would have to suffice.
All their chats were conducted through a slot where Beck passed Kinnin's lunch tray so he never could see his face but a cheerful voice, and friendly conversation still went along way in abating the creeping psychosis that comes with indefinite isolation.
Thier friendly relationship was not sanctioned by the authorities that operated the prison, but the scope and complexity of running the facility meant that some things were best left tolerated for the time being and neither party seemed terribly concerned about impending consequences. They both enjoyed the company and the break from the boredom and monotony that characterize incarceration and employment respectively.
Kinnin was stretched across cot re-reading a pamphlet about drug addiction treatment when he could hear the approaching stomp of combat boots. He sat up and prepared to greet Beck. He remembered to ask him about the baseball game last night. It was a playoff game, and Kinnin figured starting the conversation about something Beck was interested in might compel him to stick around longer leaving less time for Kinnin to sit alone in the claustrophobic silence of his cell and the flat blank face of the steel door that cordoned him off from the world.
The footsteps stopped in front of the door. Kinnin sat on the floor next to the slot. His heart skipped a beat when he heard the latch being pulled. Kinnin jumped to his feet and watched with excitement as the door opened revealing a large man in black combat armor.
“Beck?” said kinnin.
“Yeah,” the guard confirmed.
“Nice to finally meet you,” said Kinnin extending his hand.
The large armored clad guard didn't take his hand. Instead, he cast his eyes downward like an animal just shamed by his master.
Another bullish man quietly stepped in the cell. He stood just a step behind Beck. His wide frame loomed large even in comparison. The smile slid from Kinnin's face, and he took a step back.
“I'm sorry to say this, but you're on the list today. You have to be liquidated.” Beck regretfully informed Kinnin.
“You're going to shoot me??” Kinnin blurted as he backed into the wall.
“I'm sorry.” Said Beck “But the order came down. There's nothing anyone can do about it.”
“W-Why am I being killed?” Kinnin stuttered through seizing breaths.
“It's not personal management just thought things were getting kinda lax around here, so they told us to shoot the inmate in every fifth cell on this wing today,” Beck said hoping for Kinnin's understanding.
“Can't you ask them to make an exception?” Kinnin pleaded while trying to keep his composure
“Look I'm sorry man, but if I don't do it I could lose my job, and this guy might end up shooting me,” Beck motioned to the large man behind him who shrugged and nodded probably.
Kinnin on the verge of hyperventilating suddenly seemed to shut down. His shoulder slumped, and his eyes looked down on the floor.
Beck sighed “C'mon lets get this over with.” He suggested.
The guards each took one of Kinnin's arms and escorted him through the doorway. Kinnin shuffled down the long hallway in silence. Kinnin looked up and saw the door that had death waiting on the other side getting closer. His trembling body started rattling the chains.
“The Dodgers won last night,” Beck said breaking the silence. “I didn't get to see the end because the fuckin cable went down, but I caught the highlights.”
“Really?” Muttered Kinnen.
“Yeah It was a close game,” Beck said with notable excitement.

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