Deputy Commissioner Gonzalez: We’re on the record at Kern Valley State Prison. Today is August 23, 2045.
Presiding Commissioner Talbott: This is a parole consideration of Doctor Alec Kaiser, CDC Number 203182. Inmate Kaiser was received in the early 2020s from Los Angeles County. The commitment offense is murder.
Commissioner Gonzalez: Looking at your parole suitability factors, you’ve done a remarkable job in prison. You have no section 115 violations, and not even a 128. You’ve taken part in every program at the institution. You’re one of two inmates the Warden selected to help maintain the prison’s critical functions in the event of a natural disaster or incapacitation of the guards and staff.
Commissioner Talbott: The commitment offense, however, was particularly grisly. You’ve elected not to talk about it, and that’s your right. We can’t hold that against you, but we can consider it as a factor. You’re highly educated with a Ph.D. You were a university professor and a scientist before the crime. How did you end up here?
Inmate Kaiser: My business plan occurred to me after a family visit to Seattle around February 2019. The area received record snowfall—the most in seventy years. It rains in the Pacific Northwest, but snow is rare in that part of the country. A teenager from Idaho, where it snows heavily, also happened to be visiting before the storm. He had coincidentally left his snowplow attached to the front of his truck when he made the trip over. Seattle had only a few plows, and some of the surrounding cities had none. So the kid set up a plowing service charging five- to eight-hundred dollars an hour. His phone rang off the hook, and he made something like forty-thousand in a few days.
Commissioner Gonzalez: That is a lot of money now, but back then . . .
Inmate Kaiser: That’s right. I was working at Caltech, and when I got back from Seattle I remember sitting in my office thinking what if that happened here? We never get snow in Southern California, well, maybe the tips of the San Gabriels or Saddleback Mountains will get dusted, and that’s it. But, I thought, if the snow really hit we’d have a total meltdown.
Commissioner Talbott: So, things just took off from there?
Inmate Kaiser: Yes, I used my resources at Caltech and worked with colleagues at Berkeley, and we found a way to change the weather patterns and create snow in an otherwise semi-arid climate. We bought fleets of plows from a manufacturer in Denver and had them shipped down. We rented storage facilities all over to house the equipment until it was time. I hired a crew of about five hundred to help. Then we dumped two feet in L.A. and Orange counties. It was like World War Three, worse than the Rodney King riots with people looting and shooting at each other. When everything came to a standstill, I published my website and called the municipalities offering help, charging hefty fees, of course. I became a multi-millionaire in a week.
Commissioner Gonzalez: Well, you also caused billions of dollars of damage to California, the fifth-largest economy in the world at the time. Not to mention the property damage from burst pipes, to historic buildings and landscaping at the Getty, Huntington Library, all those homes.
Commissioner Talbott: And of course, the real tragedy was the loss of life. Thousands of people died in wrecks, and some of the elderly froze to death in their homes. The area could not cope with the chaos you created.
Inmate Kaiser: I’m remorseful. I’m not the greedy person I used to be.
Commissioner Talbott: I believe that, but the death toll was staggering. And that’s not even why you’re here. You pled guilty, so they never prosecuted you for all those other crimes. You’ve elected not to talk about the offense, and that’s fine, but it says in the appellate opinion that an employee tried to steal your idea. He planned to replicate it in Florida, but you tied him up in a storage facility and ran a push-style snowblower over him. Says here it was the kind with the auger designed to chop chunks of ice. You went back and forth until he was shredded to pieces. The security video shows you laughing.
Inmate Kaiser: [snivels, inaudible]
Commissioner Gonzalez: With that, I’m going to close the hearing. We’ll take a brief recess and come back on the record with our decision.
Michael Carter is a writer from the Western United States. He’s also a Space Camp alum, volcanic-eruption survivor, and wannabe full-time RVer. When he’s not writing, he enjoys fly fishing and wandering remote wilderness areas of the Northern Rocky Mountains. He’s online at http://www.michaelcarter.ink and @mcmichaelcarter.