The cell doors slowly opened in time with a loud, piercing horn. The only thing more irritating than the horn was the grumble of seventy-one ill-tempered inmates. The seventy-second inmate, the one who never grumbled, lowered himself from his top bunk, careful to avoid his bulky cell mate. 72 followed Bulky out of their cell and lined up on his side of their cell door. Their actions were mirrored by every other cell on the block. Thirty-six sets of inmates.
On the ground floor, surrounded by a squad of guards, walked the warden. His eyes swept across the whole block, mentally evaluating each inmate. Following a slow arch, the Warden’s eyes stopped on 72, and the warden’s frown deepened. The squad and the warden moved towards the last cell on the top level. Bulky was forced to one side as the warden come face to face with 72.
“You never create any ripples here,” the warden said. “So why am I here?”
The warden’s eyes bore into 72, though you couldn’t tell by the calm, steady gaze of 72. Instead of looking nervous, 72 smiled.
“You should smile more, Warden,” 72 whispered.
Suddenly, before any of the guards could move, 72 jammed his shiv into the warden’s gasping mouth and sliced a permanent smile.