Stark against the gray sky, the edifice hadn’t lost its charm despite being turned into a prison only months before. Prior to that, it had been a train station during the second war, filled with so much activity that it practically hummed to each passerby. Trains had been in and out of the station multiple times a day with boys in their blues headed west, wives and sweethearts raising a handkerchief in tearful goodbyes from the platforms. Warden Abbot could practically feel their ghostly sorrow as he walked around the perimeter of his building, checking for cracks or minor cave-ins that might suggest escape attempts.

The war had ended four years ago, and the building had fallen into disuse. What was once a busy hub, glowing with the promise of freedom and endless tomorrows became forgotten. The city had no choice but to shut it down, and there it had sat for months- disappearing deeper into the weeds that took root on and around it. The idea came to the mayor in a dream. The location was perfect- outside the city limits with no trees in sight. Now that trains no longer chugged through, the nearest escape route was the river two miles away and no man had ever survived crossing it alone.

Renovations began immediately. The once grand station took on gray metal scaffolds while the gleaming tiles were carefully removed, replaced by cool concrete. A mess hall was added to where the ticketing booths once sat and the wooden benches, once used for soldiers as they waited to be carried off to countries unknown, were now located in the visitors area. Office space was retained for the Warden and his staff and theirs were the only windows left unbarred, open to what lay beyond them.

To anyone on the outside, the building looked normal, save for the grandiose architecture of the entrance which had been left untouched. Only the city population knew that what truly lied within such beautiful wall was the ugliest of interiors. That’s the thing about looking in from the outside, the Warden had decided. You never truly knew what you were looking at unless it wanted to be revealed.


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