Setting: The Alcatraz
Plot: Despite The Plan
Narrative Device: Thirty Xanatos Pileup
Hero: Broken Hero
Villain: Villain Decay
Character As Device: Wacky Guy
Characterization Device: Extraversion Tropes
A/N: Read as dialogue.Most of the guards are actually okay people.
I say this to explain why I'm not starting with some guard shouting my ear off about how inescapable the place is. It is nigh impossible, of course, but they don't feel the need to rub your nose in it. Either that, or the warden--don't mess with him--told his employees that most of the inmates here would take that as a challenge, and added that anyone caught stating the prison was inescapable would be cleaning up the next mess the next inmate who tried to escape made.
You ever try getting all the chips of wall out of a mattress? Not fun.
The issue, of course, is when you get people who realize that the sort of people who feel no need to brag about having an inescapable prison are those with and inescapable prison. Naturally, this is perceived as a challenge, and instead of getting every second guy trying, you get the quietly intelligent ones. Meaning that you don't have the eyes and ears of the loud ones, because they've given up finding someone who can get out. Meaning that, in the middle of this place, we've got to have guards who are watching for schemes that would probably fail who make sure that they certainly fail without alerting the other inmates to the possibility of success. And that the quiet ones try to take advantage of this by making the only way to stop them really strikingly obvious, because as annoying as this set-up is, it is not half as annoying as having everyone make a break for it at once.
It's a pretty okay place to be. Granted, almost no one likes being in a place they have to be in, but I'm sure that if the people here were given a choice, most of us would at least want to vacation here. That's part simple location--the weather is mild, and though the sleeping spaces are rather cramped, someone somewhere along the line noted that inmates were less likely to go crazy and start literally climbing the walls if we had the opportunity for exercise and thought. A friend of mine and I are co-authoring a novel, actually.
The other part's simple company. I didn't just mention the quietly intelligent ones to show something that shows up occasionally; we tend to get the quietly intelligent criminals. Their backgrounds are absolutely fascinating. Not often the sorts of things they'll tell you about, but really, even what they make up is rather good. Almost everyone bothers to create either realistic horror or some sort of almost-believable tragedy. Then there's the one guy who just has fun with it every time, but he's great for a break.
Ah, shoot, the inmates are fighting again; Michael must be trying to get out.
"All right guys, break it up," I muttered, stepping between them. "Let's try and not get any guards called, all right?"