CREEPERS ( Part 6 )

Thirty year old Will had been sentenced to seven years, the day before. Five years for an aggravated burglary in Richmond, Surrey. And two years to run consecutively for an attempted burglary on a luxury penthouse flat in Knightsbridge, London.
As soon as Will’s prison cell door on the fourth floor landing at Wandsworth prison was open, he was already up and on a high. A natural one. Frankie, Will’s prison pal from the cell next door, suddenly came into Will’s cell and asked. “Seriously…what’s all this about Jesus appearing in yer cell last night? What was you on to make you see that?”
Will ran his hand over his short, dark cropped hair, smiled and answered. “I weren’t on anything. I was just about to hang meself an’ Jesus just appeared in my cell an’ told me not to kill meself…An ‘e said he loved me an’ I had a good future.”
Frankie frowned looking serious and said. “That’s weird man.”
Will smiled again. “Not to me it ain’t…’E saved my life.”
Will then went into the office at the end of the landing and said to an officer behind the desk. “I wanna make an application to see the priest guv.”
The officer smirked and said. “What…You got a confession to make?”
“Nah guv. I wanna tell him about the amazin’ thing that ‘appened in my cell last night.”
The officer reached for one of the paper application forms on his desk and asked. “What happened then?”
Will smiled and said. “I was just about to hang meself an’ Jesus appeared in my cell an’ told me not to kill myself and told me ‘e loved me an’ I had a good future.”
The officer suddenly looked serious. “You were going to hang yourself?”
“Yeah,” Will replied smiling. “I had a strip of sheet tied to the bars an’ everything. Then Jesus just appeared in me cell…’E’s beautiful guv.”
The officer still looked seriously concerned. “What’s your name lad? And what cell are you in?”
“William Morris. Cell thirty-seven.”
“Ok lad,” The officer replied, still looking concerned. “I’ll tell the priest you want to see him.”
“Cheers guv.”
A little later, just after Will had ate his breakfast in his cell, the cell door was suddenly opened and two prison officers walked in. One of them, a short, fat officer called Mr Giles said. “Pack yer kit Morris. We’re taking you to the hospital wing for observation.”
“Eh,” Will asked, looking confused. “Observation for what?”
The other officer, Mr Peters, who was tall and skinny, said. “You told an officer you were suicidal Morris, an’ you’d had a hallucination and seen Jesus in your cell.”
Will looked stunned and slightly hurt. “It weren’t an ‘allucination. It was real. Jesus really came into my cell.”
The officers looked slightly embarrassed and Mr Giles said. “We think your not well Morris. You just got seven years yesterday. You must be in shock, an’ that can do funny things to the mind. We just need to put you on the hospital wing for a little while to observer you…And make sure you don’t do anything silly.”
Will sighed. “Fair enough. I can understand what your thinkin’. But what I saw was real…An’ I’m not suicidal anymore.”
“Look Morris,” Said Mr Peters. “We’ll just put you on the hospital wing for a little while and review you again.”
“Ok,” Smiled Will, suddenly perking up. “But there’s nothin’ wrong with me. I’m ‘appy, an’ you’ll see that.”

On the hospital wing they put Will in a cell on the ground floor of the four story wing. He was in a row of cells reserved for high observation, which meant he’d be checked on by an officer every fifteen minutes. The cells on the hospital wing didn’t have little round spy holes on the door like the cells on the main wings in the prison, but had small open hatches in the doors, so that the inmates could be easily seen and the officers could pass medication to the prisoners without having to open the cells doors.
After Will had been in the cell half an hour a prison officer called Mr Matthews looked through Wills hatch for the second time and Will suddenly said. ‘Oi guvnor, there ain’t any jobs on the wing are there? Wing cleanin’ or some’ink? I just wanna get out of the cell.”
“You’re on suicide watch,” Said Mr Matthews. “You have to stay in your cell so we can observe you.”
Will looked frustrated and said. “I’m not suicidal anymore. Honestly I’m ‘appy now. But I just wanna get out of this cell an’ do some’ink to occupy me.”
Mr Matthews stood at the hatch looking unsure, then said. “Maybe in a few days or something. If you behave yourself and we think you ain’t a threat to yourself or anyone else, we might be able to give you a job then.”
Will felt frustrated, but forced a thin smile and said. “Ok guv. Fair enough, but trust me when I say I don’t wanna harm myself or anyone else. I don’t really understand what’s ‘appened to me, but all I know is I feel different an’ the last thing I wanna do is top meself…An’ it seems weird by I actually feel really ‘appy. I feel freer for some reason, an’ I can’t really explain it.”
Mr Matthews stared at Will a moment, weighing up what Will had said. “like I said Morris, just keep your head down for a few days and maybe we’ll give you a job then.”
“Ok guv. Fair enough.”

Five minutes later the Christian priest Michael Collins unlocked Will’s cell door. He smiled at Will and sat on Will’s bed and said. “I hear you had a visitation from the Lord.”
“Eh…Whad ya mean?” Asked Will.
“You told an officer that Christ appeared to you in your cell last night as you were about to kill yourself.”
Will looked stunned and suspicious and asked. “Yeah…How do you know?”
Michael smiled. “All the officers are talking about it. Some of them think your mad.”
Will looked slightly embarrassed. “Yeah. What do you think though. Do you think I’m mad?”
“Tell me what happened.”
Will took a deep breath, then said. “I got seven years yesterday. I was depressed an’ was just about to hang meself in my cell an’ then I heard a voice say I love you…I turned round an’ see Jesus just standing in the middle of me cell. He then said some’ink like…Don’t kill yerself. Follow me. I’ve got a good future for you…An’ then ‘e just disappeared.”
Will felt more relaxed to see that Micheal was still faintly smiling and Will asked again. “Do you think I’m mad?”
Michael paused a moment then said. “No…I’ve been a Christian more than thirty years and I know God is supernatural. I know Jesus can make himself known to people in a lot of ways…Ok, he doesn’t physically appear to everyone, and its quite rare when he does, but I’ve read a lot of autobiographies of criminals who became Christians, and a couple of them had also said Jesus appeared to them when they were in their cells…One person that happened to was a guy called Fred Lemon, who wrote his autobiography called Breakthrough, which was first published in the early 1980’s.”
They both pause in silence for a few seconds, then Michael said. “Maybe God wants you to write a book.”
Will raised his eyebrows and said. “I’ve thought about writing a book for years.”
They are both silent a moment, then Michael asked. “Would you like to become a Christian?”
“Yeah,” Will said with certainty, then asked. “But how do you become a Christian?”
“You just need to repeat a prayer I’m about to say to you. But I want you to understand first what it means to be a Christian.”
“What does it mean?” Will asked curiously.
“First and foremost,” Said Michael. “It means you get eternal life. When you die your soul goes to heaven and you’ll live there with Jesus forever.”
“Is that true?”
“I believe it is…And it says it in the bible. John 3 verse 16 says, for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“I’ve heard that before,” Said will.
“its probably the most well known verse in the bible,” Said Michael.
“I would like my soul to live forever,” Said Will. “What have I gotta do?”
“Just repeat this prayer after me,” Said Michael, still smiling. “I’m sorry Jesus for all the bad things I’ve ever done.”
“I’m sorry Jesus for all the bad things I’ve done.”
“Please forgive me.”
“Please forgive me.”
“Thank you for dying on a cross for me.”
“Thank you for dying on a cross for me.”
“Please come to live inside my heart.”
“Please come to live inside my heart.”
“Please take away all my guilt and shame and make me clean and holy.”
“Please take away all my guilt an’ shame an’ make me clean an’ holy.”
“I promise that from this moment onwards I will live for and serve you.”
“I promise that from this moment onwards I will live for an’ serve you.”
“Thank you for setting me free.”
“Thank you for setting me free.”
Will and Michael stared at each other. Michael was still smiling slightly and asked. “How do you feel?”
“I feel different,” Will said quietly. “An’ I’ve felt different since last night. I just don’t feel so dark, heavy or depressed. I feel at peace.”
Michael smiled even more. “You’re a new man. The old has gone. You’re now a new creation in Christ.”

Five minutes after the priest left, Mr Matthews the officer Will had spoken to earlier, suddenly opened Will’s door and said. “We shouldn’t be doing this Morris, as you’re supposed to be on suicide watch, but I’ve just spoken to the priest and he thinks you’re ok…If you still want a job, we’ll move you to the fours, as we need a wing cleaner on that landing.”
Will smiled and said. “Sweet guv. I’m up for that.”
Five minutes later Will was in a cell on the top fourth floor landing. Will was over the moon, as from standing on his chair he could look out of the cell window and see over the wall again. This time he could see Wandsworth common, where he used to go fishing as a kid.
After briefly looking out of the cell window, Will got on with his new job and swept then mopped the fourth floor landing. When he’d finished he went back to sit in his cell, but with the door open. A little while later, Mr Matthews came back to his cell and asked Will. “Do you want another job Morris serving food on the hotplate at meal times.
“Yeah,” Will said happily surprised again. He’d worked on the hotplate before in other prisons wings and knew that not only did it add a few quid to his prison wages each week, but also there was often extra food left after the inmates had been served, and this extra food was shared by the inmates who worked on the hotplate.
“Ok then Morris, you’ve got two jobs in one day,” smiled Mr Matthews, then he added. “Come down to the office a minute Morris. A few of the officers want to know what happened to you last night.”
Will walked into the ground floor office with Mr Matthews. There were another three officers there and Will told them what had happened last night when Jesus came into his cell and stopped him committing suicide. Afterwards the officers looked gobsmacked and an old officer called Mr Kelly, said. “I’ve been in this job thirty-seven years lad and I’ve heard every inmate bullshit story under the sun…But what you’ve just said lad takes the biscuit.”
Will immediately looked hurt and deflated and said. “Its true.”
Mr Kelly looked sceptical. “I suppose you’ll tell me you’ve become a Christian next?”
“I have. When the priest came to my cell earlier.”
Mr Kelly rolled his eyes. “You only got seven years yesterday lad. It’s a bit early to pretend you’ve changed, to get out early on parole.”
Will didn’t know what to say and Mr Matthews suddenly laughed and broke the tension. “Don’t listen to grumpy guts Morris. Mr Kelly is one of the most cynical officers in this jail.”
Will and the other officers suddenly smiled, except Mr Kelly who scowled and said. “When you’ve been in this job as long as me Mr Matthews, you’ll know all about being cynical.”
Will was surprised to hear himself suddenly saying. “I’m gonna start praying for you Mr Kelly.”
“Yeah Morris. Pray I win the bloody lottery, so I don’t have to work in this dump anymore.”
Will and the other officers suddenly started laughing, and even Mr Kelly suddenly smiled.

After Will had spent three days on the hospital wing, Mr Matthews came to Will’s cell and said. “You don’t need to be on the hospital wing anymore Morris. We can see that you’re well.”
Will smiled, pleased at the confirmation that the officers didn’t think he was mad or ill.
Mr Matthews continued. “You can either go back to a mainstream wing for a couple of months till they ship you out to another prison, or you can stay on the hospital wing, keep your job as a wing cleaner and hot plate worker, but we also want to offer you a job as the officers tea maker. It will give you an extra five pound a week, and with your wing cleaning and hot plate job it will mean you earn fourteen quid a week. And your cell will be unlocked from 7.30 in the morning till 8.30 at night.”
Will raised his eyebrows. “You really wanna offer me a tea maker job?”
“Yeah Morris. All the officers really like you. And they can see from reading your prison record that you’ve suddenly changed,” Mr Kelly smiled and added. “You used to be a right scum bag. I saw on your record that you even assaulted a couple of officers before. You often refused to work. You’d escaped from custody three times. And you’d been suspected of smuggling in and selling drugs on the wing.” Mr Matthews smiled again and added. “Now I haven’t even seen you smoke a cigarette.”
Will smiled and said. “This is gonna sound crazy, but ever since I saw Jesus in my cell, I’ve only lit one cigarette an’ immediately put it out. It made me feel sick, an’ I’d smoked all me life…I just don’t want cigarettes anymore, an’ I don’t even miss or want drugs…I just feel clean now an’ I’ve never felt so good.”
Now Mr Matthews raised his eyebrows and said. “If that’s true Morris, there is hope for you yet. If you can stay away from drugs, you can stay away from crime. Most of the crimes you committed were to pay for drugs…So I really hope Morris, that you can stay drug free and you don’t waste anymore of your life in places like this.”
“I swear guv, an’ I’ve never been so sure of it. I’ll never take drugs again. An’ I’ll never commit crime again. Jesus has gave me a wake up call. An’ I’ve never felt so alive an’ excited about the future…I just wanna put the past behind me, stay out of jail and be there for my missus and kids…Being in an’ out of prison an’ on drugs all these years has been breakin’ their hearts. I’ve suddenly realised how much damage an’ pain I’ve been causin’ myself an’ other people. I was livin’ in a world of selfish hate, but Jesus opened up my heart, an’ now I feel love…I feel free now an’ I’m out of addiction.”
“I believe you Morris. I really believe you.”
Neither of them spoke a moment, then Mr Matthews asked. “Do you wanna stay on this wing then Morris and accept the tea making job?”
“Yeah guv,” Smiled Will.
“In that case,” Smiled Mr Matthews. “You might as well start now. I’ll have a milky coffee with one sugar.”
Will laughed slightly. “No problem.”