Salahuddin Chamcha was in jail.There was no denying the fact. Now that his wand had been confiscated, he had been shown a cellequipped with a bunk, a toilet and chair, he had been given his prisoner uniform and his hair hadbeen cut short, there was no questioning it, no wondering if this all was a dream or an oddmisunderstanding after all. He really was behind bars and would be for a long time.Of course, he had known this could happen. He may have thought it would be unlikely, but he hadknown it was possible. And afterwards, thinking of it, perhaps it was not all that unlikely either.He had been a fool. A fool to trust anyone, the count especially, who had come to him after such along time and offered his help, essentially for free... A fool to believe that as soon as the Legacyheiress was to leave her heavily protected home, she would become vulnerable. He realized thatnow, alone in his cell with nothing but all the time in the world to think. An utter fool.
Salahuddin didnt really know what to think. One moment he had been so close to his goal, or so hehad thought, and the next he had been blasted over with a spell, and then, arrested, by his owndaughter none the less, while his son watched on. The change was so sudden that all he could feel atthe moment was a sense of numbness.So Salahuddin spent his days in a haze, doing mostly nothing. He was only obligated to leave his cellfor mealtimes, so that was what he did. Mostly he would just lay on his bed, sometimes sit on the solechair in the room, or even the floor when he couldnt be bothered.Eventually some of the guards took pity on him, and gently nudged him, mentioned there were thingshe could do. Such as, borrow a book from the library or work out in the gym. Salahuddin didnt seemvery interested in either, but since then, he could occasionally be seen reading – or possibly justgazing at a book and turning the pages every now and then.
In the evenings the guards sometimes saw him at the gym throwing solitary hoops as they made theirrounds. It was always close to the time when the prisoners would be locked into their cells for thenight, and occasionally they had to tell him it was time to leave the gym. The guards supposed thelate hours were Salahuddins way of avoiding other prisoners, as at that time most were already intheir cells, getting ready for the night. Apparently he didnt care for company.
Reading was how guard Ramin Centowski found him one evening.Ramin was one of those guards in Alphabetia jail who had started to pity Salahuddin. Having workedas a guard for years, it wasnt because of any naiveté or illusions on Ramins part. Having heard allthe stories, having seen some of them when working as a police officer, he knew full well what theseguys were capable of, especially the ones in this part of the prison. No, it wasnt that. But deep down,these guys were sims too, and more often than not, they were in dire need of compassion. Maybemore so than others, Ramin thought.”Chamcha?” he called.
Salahuddin put his book away, and started to get up from his bunk. He wondered what it could havebeen that the guard needed him for. Usually, he wasnt needed for much anything. Could it be that hislawyer had called already?Ramin stood waiting, idly wondering how Salahuddin would take the news. Probably not very well,they never did.
”Yes, guard Centowski?””Your lawyer called. He was going to tell you himself, but something urgent came up and he had to beelsewhere, so he asked me to deliver a message.””Yes?””You lost the case.”Salahuddin nodded. He had fully expected to, but now he suddenly didnt know what to expectanymore.”The jury found you guilty in all charges, and they found the evidence highly conclusive and thedeeds extremely serious. He”, continued Ramin, referring to Salahuddins lawyer, ”said that there wasnothing more that could be done. He will naturally file a complaint, but he seemed doubtful that itwould do any good.”Salahuddin nodded again. ”What was the verdict?”
”Three life sentences. Served one after another.”Salahuddins mouth was dry. He didnt know what else to say, so he just nodded and said briefly:”Thank you, guard Centowski.””Im sorry, Chamcha”, Ramin said as Salahuddin turned back to face the inside of his cell. Raminthought he could see a curt nod before the pale man walked back to his bunk, laid down and closedhis eyes.
Three life sentences, Salahuddin thought as he later laid alone on his bunk. He didnt know what tothink. If all his actions were understood as committed with malicious intent, then maybe it was fair. Hedidnt know. He hadnt expected any less, truth to be told. Perhaps he should even consider himselflucky in a sense. The Bookacies were an influential family by now, and had they really wanted toaffect the outcome of the trial, it could easily have been much worse, he supposed. They would havehad their way if they had wanted to, he was sure. Apparently they hadnt, and he didnt know why.If Salahuddin had been an ordinary man, no matter how the length of the sentence was calculated,he would have died in jail. But being a vampire, he would actually serve a sentence of threelifetimes. He didnt know the law well enough to know how long exactly that would make. But heknew for sure one thing: it would be long enough to make sure that he would never see his son ordaughter again.That was probably the worst part.
Salahuddin remembered seeing Aadam at the wedding, slightly before being taken away. It had beena shock, he couldnt pretend otherwise. His son had grown old.His own son, while he himself was still in his prime. He had known that Aadam had left with everyintention of staying away, of living his life without his father, but Salahuddin had never expectedAadam to grow old, to opt to die of old age some day. Even if he didnt want to be in contact with hisfather anymore, surely Aadam had a means to arrange himself enough elixir to stay young forever?Salahuddin didnt understand.
And Marsha. He had only seen Marsha briefly as she took him into custody. But she, just like Aadam,was unmistakbly old. Both his children had chosen to grow old, and apparently, eventually die.Judging by the way Sean Cameron had given Marsha the possibility to arrest him, and the way shehad gladly accepted it, it seemed that at least Marsha took personal delight in putting his fatherbehind bars. And remembering the unblinking gaze Aadam had given him, he must have been in fullagreement with her.Not that he could blame them, Salahuddin supposed. Not after everything that had happened. Afterall, he had very nearly hurt Marsha, and done that by threatening Aadam. He understood that thisalone was enough cause for his children to side with his capturers. He only wished he could explain.Explain how he felt, how it pained him to be separated from Author, Author whom he had loved longerthan he could remember. How the Legacy family refused to understand, how they denied him the onething he wanted, as if it were to stop the challenge in its tracks if he were reunited with her. And onlybecause they were a Legacy family, they were allowed to get away with it. If only he could explain allthat.
On top of all this, prison life was starting to take its toll on Salahuddin. Not only was he alone andhopeless, but simply being in Alphabetia jail was a difficult experience to him in itself. Granted, as adangerous criminal he was respected in a manner of speaking, and thus did not have to fear for hissafety like some others did. But it didnt change the fact that he felt completely and utterly alone.After a while Salahuddin realized that this feeling may have something to do with the protections ofthe jail. He was both a vampire and a warlock, and as it was illegal to cure him of either state againsthis wish (and because he had worked hard for achieving both, and especially because not beingvampire would mean a certain death in jail for him, naturally it was his wish not to be cured), the lawenforcment had to come up with other means to prevent him from escaping magically.From what Salahuddin understood from the guards discussing amongst themselves, there was apowerful force field around the prison. This not only prevented magical prisoners from escaping bykeeping their powers to a minimal level without permanently removing or harming them, but alsomade it unnecessary to purchase coffins for vampire residents, by enabling them to stay awakeduring day hours without being harmed by sunlight. Apparently the force field also had a side effectthat caused some magical inmates experience strengthened negative feelings, such as melancholy,and Salahuddin found himself among those prisoners.
Salahuddin had been sleeping days and working nights for so long that he found it the easiest tomostly sleep during the day also in prison, even though that was no longer necessary. Of course, thishad the downside that mealtimes, which were obligatory, interfered with his sleep, and when he wasawake, nearly no one else was. But he did not mind. As a vampire, he had become used to fallingasleep again easily, nor did he in fact need very much sleep. And he was not in prison looking forcompany.Via his sleep, Salahuddin also found that perhaps melancholy was not the only side effect that theforce field could have on prisoners. He found himself seeing odd dreams. They were repeating, asthe ones preceding the Legacy boys demise had been, but in a different way. The same dreamseemed to always continue from where it had last ended, whereas in the previous dreams it had beenthe same dream over and over again, with slight variations. Also, while last time Salahuddin hadexperienced a feeling of familiarity which he could not understand, there was nothing like that aboutthese dreams. He was certain that he had never been to the location, nor met any of the sims presentin these dreams.
One evening, shortly after Salahuddins afternoon rest.”Guard Centowski? Excuse me, sir?”
”Yes, Chamcha? Is something the matter?” asked Ramin Centowski as he came to see whySalahuddin had called.”Oh, no, I am fine, thank you sir”, said Salahuddin. ”I was merely wondering... Since you have been aguard here for so long... Have you ever heard of the magical protection measures possibly... causingsomething such as... odd dreams?”Ramin looked concerned. ”No, I dont think so. There have been some cases of melancholy ordepression, but nothing the prison doctor hasnt been able to fix. Why, have you been havingdreams?””Yes”, said Salahuddin, finding it most reasonable to admit it, having taken the matter up, ”Fairly oddones, as well. But if there are no other incidents, then I am sure it is nothing.”Ramin didnt look convinced. ”Are you sure youre feeling okay? I could call the doctor if you needone.””No, no, it is fine. I am feeling quite well, thank you”, Salahuddin assured.
”Well, if youre sure...””I am, thank you”, said Salahuddin. After a short pause, he continued, as if the thought had justoccurred to him: ”Oh, but if I could ask you a small favor, I would be very grateful.””Yes, Chamcha, what is it?””I do not know whether the prison rules allow a prisoner to have... writing equipment? Only a pen or apencil and some paper would be quite sufficient.””Yes, I believe it is allowed, and there are pencils and notebooks that inmates can buy from thecantine alongside with some other everyday utensils.””Oh, that is splendid. In that case, I need not bother you but can acquire them myself tomorrow.Thank you, guard Centowski.””Youre welcome, Chamcha. Good night”, said Ramin, nodded and continued his evening round,leaving Salahuddin with his thoughts.