New - arrivals were Issued with styled pyjama clothes: a vest, a shirt, pants, socks, canvas styled shoes. One woman asked for another shirt, and she was given an extra shirt. She promptly put it over the top of the first shirt. All the issued clothing was white.
" If you need anything , just ask for it " said one of the reception crew.
"What can we get," I asked one of the crew'.
"Most anything you want", came the reply, " You just need to ask."
"How about a guitar, A bed and my own cell?" I asked.
"There are no cells", I was advised. "But there is an ample supply of homes that contained just about everything you will need. You can select your home once you have become compatible with Filigror. That will probably take a week," He added " I will arrange for a guitar. We have a tradesman that makes them locally. It will most likely be ready for you by the time you have completed your compatibility processing.
We were ushered into the next room, evidently a classroom. The chairs and desks were unexpectedly comfortable. So comfortable that several of the new arrivals promptly laid back in their seats a fell asleep. Labels marked the Toilets and showers. The reception crew did not display any objections to any appearance of non cooperation with the introductory lesson. The first meal we had to eat daily was approximately a single cup of furry green leaves. It seemed we could eat them in several processed forms. New arrivals were permitted outside the reception area, where anyone could pick them fresh, raw from where they grew. There seemed to be an abundance of other different foods available. These ranged from grape-like fruits to an equivalent of the raw potato. I picked up a wrapped package to be a representation of a chocolate bar. I waved the bar at the nearest reception Woman. She merely shrugged her shoulders and nodded. "Yes", but gave me a look that said, "you should eat your vegetables first.
Arrivals asked very few actual questions. I suspect this was mainly due to an overwhelming attitude of the new arrivals not to be seen as cooperating. In reality, there was little to collaborate. The basic rule was to eat some green stuff every morning. Eating was an option anyone could refuse. The whole reception area, the officers, receptionists, guards, or whatever they were calling themselves, Did not give a damn if you abided by any rules. That was if there were any? The whole reception area was entirely not what I would have expected at the arrival of a penal colony for lifers. It became clear that the guards were serving life, Just like I was.
There was one man. Who was wearing blue socks? He was, in fact, the only person in the classroom that was dressed in any way differently. Everyone wore the white Pyjama style outfit. This man had blue socks. I realised that recognising some of the faces of the prisoners that accompanied me in the container here. was the only way I could tell the difference between reception and inmates. "What is with the blue socks?" I asked.
"Prestige", I was told, "Totally beyond our control."
"Can I get blue socks?" I asked.
"Ask him to give them to you", someone told me. So I did just that. As the guy removed his socks, they turned white. The blue sock guy received a fresh pair of socks from an adjoining room. The socks turned blue as he put them on. I was left holding a slightly soiled pair of white socks.
"Prestige is allocated", someone told me.
I ate my green vegetables. Filogreens, they called them.
On earth, if you do not drink water in some form, you die. on fer2 you do not eat filogreen in some form you shrivel up
The Following Day. Although I am not sure what a day was on fer2. There seemed to be a fair bit of variation. A grubby little man approached me with a guitar. "I have your guitar," he said.
I most likely gave him a slightly puzzled look as nobody had at this stage asked me for my name. Nor had I received even the remotest request in any form for any sort of identification. The Grubby fellow seemed utterly assured that it was me that asked for the Guitar. I realised that nobody had anyone asked for or had displayed any identification until this point in time. Nobody had recorded any ID of the prisoner!
"You play Guitar. You asked for a guitar. " He said
"Yes," I said
"I can tell," the Grubby man said. "Let me know how you go with it, I would like to hear you play sometime" he handed me the instrument, then smiled at me and left the reception area, leaving me with a distinct liking for the grubby little man. Even though I had never seen him before, there was a definite feeling of recognition. I would even go as far as to say that meeting him was a feeling of honour, or in the mildest way, similar to discovering a long lost brother.
It was my 6th day at the colony when access to the outer world became available. I naturally assumed that the external doors had some sort of sensors or Identity detectors. It seemed likely there was some sort of selection process for allowing or disallowing access. There was nothing to offer the slightest hint of how this access was either granted or refused. Were there detectors? My curiosity was triggered by my natural inclination to escape. I had never been in any form of prison where this overwhelming desire had been present. Even as a child, I had created my escape route from my upstairs bedroom. Complete with concealed ladderway and a well secreted of outdoor clothing. My parents never discovered the pins embedded in the outside wall of our house. Although I never recall going anywhere. Or even having any great desire to go somewhere, the simple act of standing in the garden and looking up at my Jail was immensely satisfying. I recall mainly using the escape route for stealing apples from next door. I often filled a large basket with apples in my room. I remember my mother looking at my booty with a definite curiosity. I did make some subtle enquiries regarding the Penal Colonies security system. I upgraded my investigations regularly for many weeks. I discovered that even the most blatant signals that I intended to escape cause no reaction.
It was the day of my argument or what could be considered my first confrontation on fer2. I had attempted, Successfully, to shout down a man who offered me the 'Message'. It was a man with blue socks. I do not know if it was the same blue sock man I met previously. He provided me with 'THE MESSAGE'. I told the man to "keep out of my way and that I did not want his silly message". I physically threatened the man, and he backed away graciously, leaving me with the Message. As it turned out, the Message was just a small cloth bag of cotton-like material woven from a local plant that offered me personal messages, a direct line to the will, or the brain or mind of the planet. It was similar or even identical to the message I had seen at the reception area.
I became aware that A sickness came over me after attempting to walk away and leaving the rag on the floor where it had dropped when it had been handed to me. At one pace away from the bag a giddiness. came over me. At two paces nausea. On the third pace, I fell to the ground.
It took me several minutes to work out that I was being affected by Filigror poisoning. The message bag contained the Filigror on my person that I needed to survive on this planet.
The knowledge I received from the Message was. I could live without Filigreen. I could escape to anywhere I wished. But without the Message, Filigror would shrivel me up in agony. this small, empty shoulder bag would accompany me wherever I travelled. It was in all sense and purpose a direct phone line to the living planet.
I later discovered that the collar on my shirt had turned a brilliant red