[WP] In the distant future, prisoners have their brains extracted and uploaded into a computer system in order to save space and maintain peace within prisons. [Link to post.]
“You are hereby sentenced *immediately* to the Forest.” The judge’s gavel slammed down. Michael Anderson broke down into heaving sobs while the bailiff escorted him out of the courtroom in handcuffs. He had no resistance to give as the burly guard walked him to the transport, and he remained silent for most of the two hour drive. An hour and a half into the trip the driver yelled back at him.
“Man, I’m sorry you got Judge ‘Appleseed’. Shitty luck.” Michael nodded his head ever so slightly. “Hey. You want a burger or something? Look. I don’t know if you’re guilty or not, but even if you are… the Forest ain’t right. It’s too much.” The vehicle slowed down, but Michael kept his silence and shook his head. The guard shrugged. “Suit yourself.” The van sped up again. Half an hour later they stopped moving, then the guard opened the door. Michael stared out at purple-orange sky. The sun began its descent into the treetops. He stepped out of the paddy wagon and looked over the edge; the Forest inmate processing station functioned as a dam once. The guard guided Michael along the tall sheer wall towards the elevator. He glanced at the trees. Giant redwoods grew tall and proud for miles and miles, as far as Michael could see. Thousands of trees taking up hundreds of miles. The guard undid Michael’s handcuffs then pressed the elevator button. The doors slid open, waiting for Michael.
“God bless you,” the guard patted Michael on the shoulder and walked off. The elevator was as spacious as a bedroom, at least 10′ x 10′. A female orderly stood next to a comfortable looking chair in the center. She nodded her head at the chair and Michael stepped in to sit down.
“It’s a slow, deliberate, ride down. We prepare you on the way,” she said quietly. Michael nodded his head to indicate he heard what she said.
“What do you know about the Forest?” she asked while she pressed the button closing the elevator doors. Michael watched the sunlight disappear for the last time, then he felt the elevator begin its descent. He knew he couldn’t get by with a nod this time.
“Everything,” Michael said.
“Oh you’re one of those? Well there is some info that you won’t find on the internet, even on the conspiracy sites,” she said. She presented him with a glass of water and a small white cardboard cup full of pills. “We’re supposed to show you an orientation video, but most people skip it.” Michael lifted the white cup of pills and poured them all into his mouth, then he grabbed the water to wash them down.
“Those pills I swallowed will start germinating in a few hours,” Michael said, staring directly into her dark brown eyes. Her mouth dropped slightly, then she recovered with a smile.
“A lucky guess. Pretty much everyone has *some* idea what the Forest actually is,” she said. She grabbed the empty glass and cup from him, then turned to put them on a counter top against one of the Elevator walls. She turned back to hand him a brown mesh jumpsuit that resembled a burlap sack. Michael stood and began to change into it. She turned her back to give him privacy.
“You ever wonder what it’d be like if you could be someone else? Some *thing* else?” she tilted her head back slightly to ask. “Like, wouldn’t it be cool to be a fairy, or an ogre or something?” Michael chuckled behind her.
“I’m dressed,” he said. The orderly turned around to find him sitting in his seat again.
“So? Pretend you could be anything you wanted to be. What would you choose?” She asked with a friendly smile. Michael scratched at the itchy uniform, then smiled at her. Now that he took the pills he felt at peace with his fate. He decided to have some fun.
“A dragon,” he said. She giggled, then shook her head.
“No c’mon. Something more reasonable. Like maybe an elf, or a dwarf.”
“Oh. I’ve always thought something like a ferret man would be cool.” Her eyes rolled upward to think, then she shook her head.
“Nah those don’t count. What about like a cat man or a dog man?” she asked. She grabbed a strap from under the chair and began to fasten him to it.
“A moth man,” Michael said. She paused while tightening the strap.
“No, but how about-,” she paused. Her eyes narrowed and she stared at him for a second before gasping. “You *DO* know! You’re doing it on purpose.” Michael nodded.
“Alright wiseguy,” she stood and crossed her arms, the smiled. “Tell me what you know so I can do my job. I’m supposed to make sure you know the process.”
“You’re going to connect me to the AlterNet where my consciousness can live on in another universe. Of course it’s a prison so there are guards over there keeping us prisoner. While I’m in there I’ll be planted so that taking care of my body isn’t a burden on the State. The pills I took will bond with me and grow. The soil and sun will keep me alive until my body becomes a tree. Eventually my consciousness will just fade away into nothing. Even if there’s no pain, it’s like a death sentence. Just crueler. Sound about right?” Michael asked. The orderly nodded then walked around him to tighten the strap around his other wrist.
“Yeah. You got it all,” she said. The elevator stopped moving suddenly. “Race and class?” she asked.
“Fairy Merchant,” Michael said. The doors opened.