“Ready?” the scrawny guard asked through the bars. The inmate, Zoe, nodded and stood from the bed.
“I suppose it’s about time I see other places,” she smiled.
Once Zoe was out of the cell the guard led her toward the exit. Every inmate they passed shook hands with Zoe and wished her luck. The guard led her out of the general population and into the maze of corridors through the main building.
“How’s it feel?” the guard asked Zoe. The young woman shrugged.
“Kinda lonely. I’ve got friends in here and no idea what’s waiting for me out there,” she stared at the ground as they walked. The guard chuckled.
“Pops would be offended,” he nudged her side with his elbow. “Me too for that matter.”
“Sorry, Monty, you know what I mean. Your family’s been great to me, but your dad and granddad are too old to party properly,” she said with a playful smirk.
“You’re one to talk,” Monty laughed. He shuffled closer to her as they walked and whispered. “How do you work anyway? How do you still look as young as me after 600 plus years?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Oh c’mon, it’s me,” he bumped into her with his shoulder. “You like us Coopers,” he smiled. Zoe nodded as they turned a corner.
“Your great-granddad didn’t believe me,” she replied.
“Times have changed since then, c’mon.” He nudged her again. They reached a small service counter behind a window. Monty handed the clerk a slip and the clerk disappeared to the back.
“I don’t know,” Zoe replied. “I really mean it, I don’t know.” She stepped closer to him and lowered her voice. “I remember one night I had a dream that I fell through a black hole, then when I woke up everything was different. I don’t know if I hit my head, or what, but everything familiar was different somehow,” Zoe shook her head. She felt surprised that the memory still hurt. “No one recognized me at my job, someone else lived in my house, it was horrible.” Zoe stopped talking when the clerk returned with a small box of her belongings. After she signed for everything she had an opportunity to change. Then Monty continued leading her out of the prison.
“Then what?” Monty asked.
“You believe me?” She asked with wide eyes. Monty nodded.
“I do, and I know someone that you should meet. There’s a tattoo shop downtown called Mundo’s. Go get a tattoo, it’ll change your life,” he smiled. They reached the main perimeter gate, and stopped to chat while it opened.
“I didn’t get a tattoo here in over 600 years, why am I going to start now?” Zoe asked.
“Because you trust me?” he smiled. Zoe rolled her eyes.
“Fine. I guess I do,” she huffed and crossed her arms. Monty stepped forward and pulled something out of his pocket.
“Pop said Grandpa wanted to give this to you on the big day,” he said, then handed her a small pink box with a golden bow on it.
“Thank you!” Zoe eagerly accepted the gift and hugged him.
“And, you’re invited for a barbecue on Saturday, they want to celebrate properly with you,” he added. Zoe nodded and headed toward the open gate.
“Hey,” he grabbed her wrist to stop her. “You gotta tell me what happened, I can’t wait till Saturday to find out.”
“Oh yeah. Well I didn’t have a job or a place to live. Luckily I had a good chunk of cash on me, but that was all I owned. The real unbelievable part is I knew I wasn’t aging anymore. I don’t know how I knew, but I felt it somehow,” she said.
“You’re definitely going to like Mundo,” Monty interrupted with a chuckle. “Sorry.”
“I had money and I had time, and then I figured out the best way to make use of that,” Zoe shrugged, smiled, and turned toward the gate again.
“Wait. What was the best use?” Monty asked.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I assumed you’d figure it out. I put the money in the bank then killed a few families,” Zoe shrugged. “After 600 and some years I’m probably a billionaire.”