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The South Park Prison Experiment

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THE SOUTH PARK PRISON EXPERIMENT:

Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment

Conducted November 2016 in Randy Marsh’s Basement

Stan Marsh looked down at his father’s neatly typed proposal with a small frown on his face. “Dad?”

Stan?” Randy called back loudly from the kitchen as he walked out with a beer in each hand. “It looks pretty great, doesn’t it? Who know I had the psychologist gene in me?” Randy had been chosen for this study by virtue of being the only scientist in South Park. His knowledge of psychology started and ended with the fact that addiction is heritable, but it skips a generation. He took another gulp of his beer and glanced down at the proposal fondly.

Stan rubbed the back of his neck. “Well, it’s just… Eric Cartman is a war criminal, dad. The whole point of your experiment is to prevent him from punishment.”

The Cartman trials had become infamous in South Park. It wasn’t often that the townspeople had a celebrity of their very own, and the media loved when soldiers committed atrocities at war. Cartman should be rotting in prisons for crimes against humanity. Instead, he was walking the streets as free as a bird while Stan’s father proved that anyone would abuse their power to guard prisoners under the mental stress.

The idea was simple. Randy had explained it more than enough times. Eric Cartman would go to prison if his disposition as a prison guard had led him to commit his many acts of torture but, and this was hopefully a small but, if Randy could prove that the prison environment brought out those traits in the guards, Cartman would be free to go shock people’s balls if he fucking wanted to.

Stan had never had the experience of rooting for a shit sports team, but something told him that he had to hold onto his faith in humanity for just a few days longer, and there would be a sign that he was right.

Randy thrust a stack of papers into Stan’s hands. “Can you post these around town? We’re going to need volunteers for the study.”

Stan glared down at the papers. “I’m not comfortable helping with this experiment, dad.”

Randy ruffled Stan’s hair like he was making an adorable joke. “Of course you aren’t. After you’re done with that, let’s get started building the prison.” He chugged a beer and smashed the can against his forehead, letting it tumble to the Marsh’s carpet before grabbing his proposal and stumbling into another room.

Stan couldn’t put these fliers up. His father might have been dumb enough to buy into Eric Cartman’s scheme, but Stan was definitely not. The boy was a monster, and he was using Stan’s father to bring out that monstrosity in others.

His eyes drifted down the flier in morbid curiosity. Participants were asked to show up for a study on how to easiest adjust prisoners to their new environment, and they were offered heavy cash compensation. Stan’s hands practically shook as he read the blatant lies printed on the flier.

He wished he could warn these boys that the cash compensation would never be worth it if it put Eric Cartman on the streets and, God forbid, in the army again. Stan hadn’t read the full project proposal, and he didn’t really want to.

“Stanley, are you putting up the fliers?”

Stan sighed and grabbed the stack. “Yeah, dad. I got it.”

He tugged his coat on and wandered into the cold, strolling down the street looking for lampposts, tree trunks, and billboards. If Stan had any faith in humanity left, it promised him that he was going to need to advertise a lot to get any idiots to participate in this study.

He paused in front of a yard where a young Canadian boy was rubbing the back of his forehead and glaring at a taller red-haired boy. “I told you – I’m too big for kick the baby!”

The red-haired boy tapped his chin thoughtfully. “They grow up so fast. Okay, I might need to pick you up and punt you.”

The Canadian flipped him off and stormed inside, still rubbing the back of his head. The red-haired boy looked after him sadly. “Wait! Ike! I was just kidding! No more kick the baby!” He caught the closing door with his boot and peered inside the house. “Want to play catch?”

Stan gulped and stuck a flier up on the tree outside the boy’s house. The other boy turned around abruptly at the rustling noise, and Stan offered him an apologetic smile. “Hey. I’m sorry to interrupt. My dad wanted participants for this new study so I’ve just been going around the neighborhood-.”

The other boy stalked over to Stan and grasped the flier. His eyes scanned it quickly, and Stan sent silent prayers that the boy would reject the offer. Instead, his bushy red eyebrows shot up as he saw the compensation. “Jesus. That’s like ten times the price of a GameCube.”

Fuck you, God. I see you up there. You fucking suck. Stan smiled weakly. “Take a number. Maybe I’ll see you there.”

The boy gave him a nod and extended a hand. “Kyle.”

Stan shook his head firmly. Don’t do the experiment. Don’t do the experiment. Don’t do the experiment. “Stan.”

Kyle’s eyes flickered back down to the compensation. “I think you’ll be seeing me again.”

Stan struggled to make his grimace look like a smile. “Glad to hear it.”

*

Did no one understand the damage they were doing to the world? Stan rested his chin on his palm and watched without a trace of excitement as his father and Eric Cartman, a man who Stan was sure was not supposed to be a part of the study, sifted through photos and files of every potential participant.

“We have exactly eighteen volunteers, Eric. I don’t think we’re going to have enough after we screen them for psychological disorders or history of abuse,” Randy muttered as he pulled out the first file for an Allen, Bill. “Multiple suspensions for bullying other children and two DUIs.”

Stan shrugged like it was the most obvious answer in the world. “Don’t include him in the study?”

Randy placed a hand on Stan’s shoulder. “Stan, you don’t seem to realize how small our sample size is. We’ll just make him an inmate! That’s fair, right?”

Cartman smiled. “That’s totally fair, Mr. Marsh. Really great idea.”

Randy dropped Bill Allen’s file on the first of two piles with a satisfied look on his face. Stan caught Cartman’s eyes as, with a knock of his elbow, he pushed Allen’s file into the stack labeled Guards. Stan opened his mouth to object, but his father continued.“Alright, next we have Token Black. He has an impeccable GPA and adds some, ah, diversity to our participants.”

Cartman grimaced. “You can’t give a black person power!” He cried as he looked at the photo of Token paper clipped to the top of his file. “They’ve never had it before! They won’t know what to do with it!”

“Our whole sample can’t be white males in a three-year age group.”

“Fine. Make him a guard. See if I care.” Cartman crossed his arms against his chest and glared down at the file for Black, Token as it was dropped in the pile over Bill’s. He opened his mouth to object again, and Stan shot him a silencing glare. It went ignored. “I just think if we’re going for people in my demographic, we should probably get rid of the mud-.”

Stan elbowed Cartman swiftly in the stomach, and Cartman made a gagging noise. Randy appeared not to notice the scuffle between his son and his “colleague” as he read the file for a Boyett, Trent with eyebrows furrowed. “This boy has gotten a life sentence to Juvenile Hall. I didn’t even know that existed.”

Cartman pushed Stan away. “It probably doesn’t. Make him a guard.”

Stan looked at his father pleadingly. “Dad, you can’t make this boy a guard! He… he set his preschool teacher on fire! Of course he’s going to abuse his prisoners!”

Randy patted Stan’s arm. “Stanley, the guards aren’t allowed to abuse the prisoners. You have nothing to worry about.” He dropped Trent’s file on top of Token’s. “We have Kyle Broflovski next.”

Stan watched as Cartman’s face contorted at the last name, and he caught his mouth forming the word inmate just as Stan shouted, “Guard!”

“Stanley, we haven’t gone through the file yet.”

Stan scoffed. “The files just tell us the criminal records that you’re going to ignore! Kyle Broflovski is going to be a guard.”

Cartman caught the file, his lip curling up viciously as his eyes skimmed Kyle Broflovski’s intake. “I agree. Let’s give his people a win for once.” He met Stan’s eyes, and nervous fluttering in his stomach warned him that Cartman might know a lot more about this Kyle Broflovski than Stan did from their two-minute interaction. Kyle’s file, again, landed on top of the quickly growing stack of guards.

“Donovan, Clyde,” Randy read off the file. “No known history of criminal activity or psychological problems.” He tossed his file on the stack of inmates without asking for opinions. “We need more inmates,” he responded to his son’s incredulous stare. “Harrison, Gary. No criminal activities whatsoever. Stellar academic record. Guard?”

Cartman grabbed the file, his lip curling upwards as he flipped through the pages and scornfully eyed his cheery photo. “I think he’d do better as an inmate,” Cartman responded casually. “As you said, we already have a lot of guards.”

Randy shrugged, and Stan pinched the bridge of his nose. “Good enough for me!” Randy announced, tossing Gary’s file onto the inmates’. “Malkinson, Scott. Again, no criminal records. He has diabetes, though, so we should be careful with that.”

Stan nodded quickly. “You should probably make him a guard.”

Cartman sniffed. “How will someone with diabetes guard anything? He’ll be busy shooting up his insulin every two minutes!”

“That’s not how diabetes works.”

Randy looked at the file quizzically. “Eric raises a good point, Stan. We don’t want an insulin junkie running our prison.”

Stan looked between the two of them in horror. “Broflovski has diabetes, and he got to be a guard!”

“So obviously we should split the diabetics,” Cartman responded without a second thought. Randy nodded approvingly.

“You know, son, Eric could teach you a thing or two about sample pools.”

Cartman’s substantial chest puffed out with pride, and Stan waited until his father was pouring over another file to flip him off.

The rest of their deliberations followed the same pattern. Cartman would say something horribly offensive – unless the person had a preexisting criminal record – and Stan would try to make the two groups as even as possible. In the end, Stan lost because Cartman knew a thing or two more about negotiations.

Randy handed the files of inmates to Stan. He winced as he flipped through the names: Donovan, Harrison, Malkinson, McCormick, McDonald, Petuski, Rodriguez, Tweak and Valmer. The study was supposed to begin at noon tomorrow with all participants showing up. Instead, Randy explained, Stan was to take Jimbo and Ned, dressed in police gear, and take all the inmates forcibly from their homes. The South Park police had already okayed the experiment, and Officer Barbrady promised he would be waiting at the precinct to keep order.

The other participants, the guards, would be allowed to sleep in and arrive at noon as promised. Stan looked back with slight horror as he exited. Bill Allen, Trent Boyett, Terrance Mephesto, Craig Tucker, and Damien Thorne all had serious criminal records. Of the inmates, only Fosse McDonald shared anything similar to the horrors those boys had committed. That left Token Black, Kyle Broflovski, Kevin Stoley, and Leopold Stotch to maintain some sort of order in this fucked up experiment.

From the way Cartman smirked whenever he heard Kyle’s name, Stan was beginning to worry that a short interaction in which he watched him kick his brother might not have been enough evidence that Kyle was a good person.

*

“Now, Ned, the key to this is being realistic. We have got to be as component and command as much respect as South Park’s real office force!”

“Mmm… that doesn’t sound hard.”

“This is an important job! Stan, are you ready with the handcuffs?”

Stan stared sadly at nine pairs of handcuffs sitting next to him in the backseat, but he gave a feeble nod. “Yeah, I have them.”

“Great! Now, does anyone know people’s legal rights? It says here… read legal rights.”

“Mm… you have the right to remain silent.”

Jimbo slapped Ned on the back as he drove. “Great job, Ned! Do you know any others?”

Stan leaned his head against the window glumly. “Right to an attorney.”

Jimbo banged on the dashboard. “Now we’re talking! Two is good enough, right?”

Stan rubbed his temple like the whole thing was giving him a horrible headache. “Well, considering we aren’t actually arresting them.”

“Right again, Stan! And to think your dad calls you the stupid one,” Jimbo remarked jovially as he drove their fake police car throughout town. “Who are we starting with?”

Stan sat up straighter. “Wait, what does he call me?”

“McCormick and McDonald live a few blocks apart. Randy said to get McCormick first,” Ned droned, holding out a map to Jimbo. Jimbo needlessly pressed on the gas and sped through the streets of South Park to the dilapidated neighborhood that Stan had never been allowed to hang out in.

Stan pressed his face to the window. “You don’t think any of these used needles are going to puncture the tires, do you?”

“Nah, this baby can drive on anything!” Jimbo declared, patting his dashboard fondly. He pulled up in front of a house that looked like it was about to fall down. “McCormick first.”

Stan sighed and passed a pair of handcuffs to Jimbo. At his and Ned’s lead, he pulled his hat off and put a policeman’s hat on instead. Stan was about to step out of the car when Jimbo pressed a button, and a siren Stan had no idea they owned started to wail.

“Jimbo, you don’t do that outside the house!” Stan snapped, but it was too late. A bottle shattered behind him, and he looked through the other window to see a couple tossing what looked like meth lab equipment over into their neighbor’s yard. Many families drew their blinds, and the locking of doors was so synchronous, Stan could swear he heard them as a collective click. “I don’t think a siren was a great idea in this part of town.”

“A siren is always a great idea!”

A tall blonde boy with a shorter girl with light brown hair opened the door in curiosity. Stan swung his legs out of the car, and McCormick gave him a look of complete understanding. He must have remembered Stan’s face from the interviews. Stan knew he shouldn’t have come on this mission.

“Karen, go back inside,” the boy said softly, ushering his sister through the door. She clung to the frame, watching in horror as Jimbo grabbed her brother and forced him spread eagle against the car.

The girl ran forward, grabbing a bat from the doorway. “You can’t do that! Get away from him!”

Stan stepped out of the car and held his hands up in surrender. “Nothing is going to happen to your brother. I promise.”

“As long as he follows the letter of the law,” Jimbo said in a harsh voice. Ned was attempting to search the inmate with only one arm as Jimbo cuffed him, and Stan was not in any mood to help the man with his search. He liked this inmate. He seemed like a good brother with good spirits as he managed to find the humor in getting a pat down from a man with one arm. “You have the right to remain silent! You have the right to an attorney!”

McCormick turned his head towards Jimbo and grinned as he held out his hands to be cuffed. “I think I have more than that.”

“We’ll check at the precinct!” Jimbo pulled out a piece of paper and cleared his throat. Neighbors were beginning to peak out of the windows once they knew the police car wasn’t for them. “Kenneth McCormick,” he announced in a voice loud enough for the neighbors to hear, “You are under arrest for armed robbery. Please step into the vehicle.”

“Kenny. Kenny McCormick,” Kenny corrected as he slid into the back seat. Stan, at a loss of where to go, moved into the spot next to him. He watched with a heavy heart as Kenny stared at his little sister standing in their driveway with a useless bat, watching her brother getting taken away to taunts of I’m white trash, and I’m in trouble! from his neighbors.

They were not so lucky on McDonald’s street. Kenny’s street only had people trying to hide their crimes. Fosse’s street had people blaming each other for ratting them out. Stan stood alert as he heard a gunshot in the distance, and Jimbo rushed him out of the car to get Fosse McDonald as fast as possible.

As the cuffs were fixed around his wrists, Stan looked up to see two of his neighbors exchanging a ten-dollar bill. Jimbo pushed Fosse into the car quickly with a short command to sit in the middle, and Stan squeezed in next to him as they tore off to the precinct with sirens wailing.

The car pulled up outside the police station, and Jimbo and Ned led the two inmates into the prison to be kept in a holding cell until someone was available for their booking. Stan felt a lump rising in his throat as he saw Kenny proudly lift his chin and jerk his hands out of Ned’s single-handed grasp so he could walk into the cell on his own.

The other streets were not nearly as eventful. Clyde Donovan’s parents simply scolded him for robbery as he tried to explain he was a participant in the study. Gary Harrison’s parents seemed delighted that their son was helping out. DogPoo Petuski, a boy who was psychologically normal aside from his name, simply allowed Stan to lead him out of his room quietly.

It was Scott Malkinson who really broke Stan’s heart. The boy must have heard the sirens wailing and realized what that meant for him because he was already shaking by the time he got downstairs to meet them. Before he had the chance to be searched, he thrust a bottle of insulin into Stan’s hand. With pleading eyes, he begged, “Please don’t let them take this away from me.”

“I… I promise,” Stan said, completely dumbfounded by the idea that someone would take away a diabetic boy’s insulin.

At the Tweak residence, Stan and Jimbo were met downstairs by his parents, an exceptionally calm pair that launched into metaphors at any moment. Jimbo listened to the father’s rambling for a few minutes before interrupting, “Is your son here?”

The wife smiled. “Oh, yes. Tweek! Your friends are here to play with you!”

“What?” A voice screeched from upstairs, and there was the sound of boots pounding on the ground as a frazzled boy with blonde hair sticking in every direction appeared next to his parents. He took one look at the cop car and shrank away. “No way, man! I’m not going in that thing!”

“Tweek, calm down. Have some coffee.”

Jimbo shook his head. “No coffee where he’s going.”

Tweek looked up in horror, and Stan, fighting every urge to end this study immediately, pushed Tweek against the car for his search and cuffing. The boy was shaking so much Stan could barely get the key into the handcuffs, but eventually Tweek Tweak was dropped in a holding cell.

Other parents were equally supportive. The Valmers actually helped Jimbo and Ned get their son into his crutches so he could be brought downstairs, and they stood with Jimbo for a few minutes, debating how best to cuff a boy who used crutches. In the end, Stan just said “fuck it” and pushed Valmer into the back of the car.

“Now, Stanley, you aren’t following protocol,” Jimbo warned as they drove away from the police station. There was only one more inmate to pick up, and Stan couldn’t be happier. It was reaching 11 am, and it must have been heartbreaking for David Rodriguez to get so close to the noon deadline without being told he was an inmate.

Then again, none of them knew they were going to be arrested.

David, like DogPoo, played along like a champ. He even turned the other cheek when a neighbor remarked, “I told you they were all criminals” and climbed into the back of the car next to Stan. They were silent for the entire trip back to the precinct, and David obligingly climbed out of the car and entered the police station without question.

The inmates had been ordered by Officer Barbrady to remain silent so they were, of course, whispering to each other as quickly as their lips could move. Tweek Tweak rocked back and forth in a corner with Donovan and McCormick on either side of him, attempting to calm him down.

With David in the cell, it was time to begin the experiment.

*

Lots of children were asked to do chores. Stan couldn’t count how many times his father had wailed from the other room, checking whether or not he had mowed the lawn or taken out the trash. He did not think the majority of children were sent down to their garage basement and told nothing but “make it look like a prison”.

Stan stared around at the boxes speculatively. This didn’t seem like it was going to be easy. He should probably start by moving out all the Christmas decorations his mom had stored down here.

There was a knock at the top of the stairs, and, without welcome, Eric Cartman lumbered down the steps. “I’m here to help,” he grunted like Stan could ever want help from the worst man in the world.

“I think I’ve got it.”

Cartman grinned. “Really? How many prisons have you stayed in?” Stan was quiet. “In fact, we brought a friend to help make it really realistic.” A dark-haired boy with cuffs and a white mask over his face was led down the stairs. “This is Josh Meyers. He’s our, um, prison consultant.”

“Criminal,” Stan corrected.

Josh fixed his penetrating stare on Stan. “Tell me, Stan, does your father get drunk and go into the wrong room by accident?” He asked in a voice so high it sounded sharp.

Stan screwed up his nose. “No, he doesn’t. Who the fuck is this kid, Cartman?”

“I’ll have you know he’s toilet papered more houses in a day than you would have in your whole life.”

Stan raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never toilet papered a house. That’s pretty fucking stupid, dude.”

Cartman and Josh stood in the middle of the basement. Cartman gave Stan a small sign with a flick of his wrist to keep moving out boxes, and Stan made an angry noise in the back of his throat before stalking upstairs with a box of tree ornaments.

By the time Stan got back, they were hard at work. “Stan, do you have any bathrooms?” Cartman asked without looking up. He and Josh were both hammering plywood boards across the two ends of the basement, and Stan didn’t want to ask where Josh’s handcuffs had gone.

“In our garage basement? No.”

Cartman frowned. “Could you be a dear and fetch me six buckets?”

“You’re kidding.”

Cartman pinched Stan’s cheek. “Not even a little.”

Stan tried to ignore the feelings of nausea as he bought the requested buckets. To their credit, Cartman and Josh worked fast. Three cages had been set up with steel bars and cell numbers, videotapes buzzed warningly from the corner, and the two of them stood with some interest in front of the tiny closet that housed the Marsh family’s electrical cords.

“What are you doing?” Stan asked loudly, effectively catching Cartman’s attention with a wolfish grin.

“Solitary confinement has to be somewhere, Stan.”

“Solitary confinement?”

“Jesus tap-dancing Christ,” Cartman grinned and glanced at Josh with something akin to mirth in his eyes. “Every prison needs solitary confinement, Stan.”

“Well, does it have to be our electrical closet?”

Does it have to be our electrical closet?” Cartman repeated in a mocking voice. “Point out another fucking closet, and maybe we’ll use that!”

Stan glanced at the bleak room with a heavy heart. The little light that drifted in through the top windows had been boarded up, the clock had disappeared, the cages seemed surprisingly sturdy for what he thought was Ikea-brand prisoner cages, and the rest of the basement seemed comfortable enough for the guards to sit outside their cages. In retrospect, Stan had no idea why his father had bought a garage with such a big basement, but it was paying off apparently.

“Can they not have light?” Stan asked weakly. He imagined those nine names – nine fucking strangers – withering up and dying without natural light streaming in.

Cartman smiled. “That would show them the time, wouldn’t it? You clearly haven’t been to prison enough.”

“I’ve never been to prison.”

Cartman looked around at his work proudly, recuffing Josh before the boy tried to make a run for it. “You’re in one now,” he reported forebodingly. “Get ready. You won’t be able to handle it with that stomach of yours.”

As he exited, Cartman gave Stan a jab in the stomach, and Stan doubled forward to vomit on the ground. Cartman did nothing but call, “Clean it up!” through an intercom Stan hadn’t even seen as he brought Josh upstairs.

Stan gulped, now alone downstairs in a prison of his own creation.

For some reason he thought people always meant that metaphorically.

*

The inmates’ booking procedures would be handled exclusively by Jimbo and Ned. Stan had apparently not seemed formidable enough and was too recognizable a face for the inmates to properly fear him.

Randy seemed annoyed when Stan arrived at their “prison” at 11:59 am. “Jimbo said you didn’t scare the inmates enough,” he said accusingly.

Stan rolled his eyes. “No, dad. I didn’t. They were plenty scared on their own.”

“Apparently they weren’t if you got sent back here,” Cartman grunted from his spot on the only chair available, a window seat that was meant to fit two comfortably but appeared to be a squeeze for his ample size.

Randy nodded. “Did you even wear the sunglasses?”

“No! God, dad, I promise they were scared!”

“It was probably because of Jimbo and Ned,” Randy muttered, pacing the makeshift prison as he waited for the nine guards to arrive. At 12:01, he finally opened the door to find all of them waiting outside. “You were supposed to come inside.”

“Fucking told you so,” Tucker grumbled as he barged in. The guards seemed to have formed cliques. Boyett was already flanked by Bill Allen and Terrance Mephesto, and Craig Tucker was quickly followed by Token Black into the prison. A dark-haired boy with fiery eyes wandered in by himself, shooting Stan a look that made his blood freeze.

Finally, the boy Stan had met, Kyle Broflovski, wandered through the doors, looking as nervous as if he hadn’t realized that, with only eight other boys in the room, he was probably one of the guards.

Cartman squeezed himself out of the chair. “You boys are the guards!” He announced triumphantly like they had won the lottery. Randy shot him a dirty look, and Stan was pretty sure Eric Cartman was not supposed to be a member of this study.

A look at Kyle told Stan that this hadn’t calmed his nerves whatsoever. Stan was slightly confused. He had won the experimental lottery. Stotch and Stoley both breathed out sighs of relief, and Boyett smirked at his cronies. The participants were beginning to show nervous hopefulness in response to Eric’s announcement, and Randy hastily took over, explaining their job as guards in this experiment.

It didn’t take very long to explain. They were guards. They should do whatever they thought was best to keep control – within limits. They worked eight-hour shifts, wore proper uniform including sunglasses (which Stan had, much to Randy’s annoyance, left out of his policeman costume), and Randy would be their warden. Many of the newly appointed guards were beginning to show genuine excitement.

Kyle Broflovski shoved a hand in the air in annoyance while Bill, Terrance, and Trent were already joking together about the experiment. “What does “within limits” mean?”

Randy looked confused. “Well, within limits, you know? Stay in them. Those limits.”

Kyle glared at him. “The thing about “within limits” is that my limits set what I think limits are. What can and can’t we do?”

“You do what you think is right. Within limits.”

Kyle was getting increasingly frustrated. Stan was glad someone had brought up the problem; his father had told him the plan, and he’d presented an identical criticism only to be ignored. “What about violence?”

Randy sighed. This was a grey area that he was hoping “within limits” would leave the guards to decide for themselves. After all, there were limits of violence. If he directly allowed violence, critics would think the study was biased so the guards became brutes. If he banned it, no one would commit levels of torture that could be applied to Eric’s trial.

“No violence,” Stan said firmly. “Maintain control however you want except with violence.”

“Wanna leave us with any suggestions?” Another guard, Trent Boyett, growled as Randy shuffled away to retrieve eight identical uniforms. He distributed the uniforms among the guards without responding before giving Trent a mumbled repeat of the instructions he’d given before.

Craig held up the khaki uniform disdainfully. “Did you design this?” he asked Eric with clear accusation in his voice.

“Just put it on!”

Craig was about to tug his shirt over his head when Randy cleared his throat loudly to grab his attention. He paused undressing to look over at Randy with a bored look that delusional teachers had mistaken for respect over the years.

“You actually won’t be having the first shift. Broflovski, Black, Mephesto. Put on your uniforms. “I will keep you updated on the shift schedule, but you are considered on call at all times.”

Kyle groaned, unbuttoning his shirt automatically. The precedent had been set. He wasn’t going to go get changed in the bathroom now. He looked around for “Black and Mephesto” to exchange understanding eye rolls or something else lame he hadn’t planned out yet, but he realized he had no idea who those boys were. He made eye contact with another participant and smiled weakly, hoping he wasn’t jumping to conclusions by assuming he was Black.

Other participants had started to gather their things and leave when Stan tapped on his father’s shoulder and whispered something in his ear. Randy’s eyes widened, and he nodded quickly in agreement. “Wait. Everyone in uniforms. We’re doing intake together.”

That was going to be much faster. Randy wouldn’t have to do shit. The other guards, already looking angry that Randy was cutting into their time off, pulled on the uniforms without vocal complaint.

Randy shooed Cartman out of the room and left Stan to supervise the guards as he strolled out to the driveway to meet the first inmate. The experiment was ready to begin, and Randy was sure he was about to make his career.

That, or tarnish it forever by being the man who defended Eric Cartman.