The cell would do, she thought.
A spider in the corner for company, a cot and thin wool blanket, two pots—she supposed one for bathing and one for the toilet. The smell of urine. Nothing to write with, of course—she was a dangerous old woman (or so the verdict implied.) It was writing that landed her here, led to that verdict read out as she sat hooded—one of many, judging by the scattered, muffled weeping.
The authorities were kind, in their way. The prison no worse than some nursing homes she’d seen, people within fading like spent flowers. Friends, family now as unreal as a dream dissolving—once martial law had been declared, the effort to connect grew risky and finally unsustainable.
“…for the crime of seditious speech…”
Ah. That was the nugget. It didn’t surprise her, given the “long tail” of the Net. No matter which side one was on, all political discourse, overt or oblique, now considered destabilizing, seditious. Since the riots of ’17, the statutes of limitation related to erstwhile freedoms of speech were all rescinded. And then the search for latent enemies…it was wit that gave her up, her wry comments and droll anti-establishment satires back before the war spread.
“…sentence to be determined, remand immediately…”
Linoleum-muted footsteps. Perhaps a guard walking the halls? Her town no exception to the closure of libraries, the frighteningly quick retrofit for prison overflow. And now she was one of those hidden away. She thought of old detective novels, their hard-boiled patter, that marvelous phrase “doing time.”
She was old, time passing like wind now, her life having disappeared into that place whose most expansive space was time…time enough to tell all her stories to a spider.