Rancid paced around pod one trying to think of what he could do to save himself, if he could save anyone else, that was extra, and he didn’t care. “What kind of tools do we have access to?” he asked aloud.
“You know as well as we do, nothing,” Charles replied. He was not a skinhead, but was as frustrated a vampire as any of the rest. “The guns are locked up in the armory, the kitchen is locked, and so is maintenance.”
“We need to break into one, get some tools we can use, which would be the easiest?”
“Kitchen I suppose, maintenance is locked down as much as the armory I’d think, they keep a lot of shit down there. But I don’t see how you plan to open a sealed door, the kitchen has a deadbolt I’m sure, if not more.”
Rancid was pissed, he knew that all the cells were the same, with the beds, tables and toilets molded as part of the cell with no moving parts. They were designed that way so they couldn’t be used as weapons. But where there is a will, there is a way. “There must be a key somewhere,” Rancid said. Then he had a thought. “The bodies we burned, were there any kitchen staff in the pile? Or did they all die in the kitchen?”
Charles thought for a moment, “If there was a staff, and he had a key, how do you plan to find it? There is nothing but a pile of bones and ashes out in the yard.”
“We need to look, sift through the ashes. See what we can find, keys, pens, any tools, if we can find enough stuff, we should be able to pry open some doors, maybe unlock them.”
“Who do you think is going to go sift for that shit? Me?” Charles asked.
“What else better do you have to do? If I were you, I’d be the first vampire out the door looking before anyone gets the same idea and gets the best haul.”
Charles realized that Rancid was right. Finding any kind of stash would be a bonus to whoever found it. “Fine, I’ll go look,” Charles said.
“Bring back what you find,” Rancid said.
“Who do you think you are?” Charles asked. “You’re not my leader.”
“Then who is?” Rancid asked.
“I don’t need a leader, I can handle myself fine. You have nothing I need that I can’t do for myself.”
Rancid knew Charles was right, but every group needed a leader and eventually one would stand out. Rancid was hoping he’d be the one the vampires chose, on purpose or by chance. Charles turned and left walking down the hall to the door to the yard. For a moment, Rancid thought about following him, but he didn’t want Charles to think he was a follower. Rancid needed a new plan, or a way to steal whatever Charles found in the yard.
“He’s going to fuck you over,” a voice spoke out. Another vampire, a woman named. Anita Drake stepped over and took Charles spot.
“I’m sure he’ll try,” Rancid said. “Who are you? I’ve seen you around.”
“My name is Anita,” she replied.
“What are you in for?”
“Murder, just like everyone else.”
“I know that, I mean specifically, who did you kill?”
“I killed a lot, just like everyone here, I was caught killing a kid in an alley.”
“A kid?” Rancid asked.
“Teenager, he wasn’t a child,” Anita replied. “Don’t get all judgmental, he wasn’t innocent.”
“I suppose not, everyone we kill deserved to die, that’s why we live here.”
“Yeah, and it looks like we’re going to do that soon enough, die. I heard sirens, I know the National Guard is here.”
Rancid and Anita walked to the window that faced the out the front of the building. Together they spied a line of patrol cars and emergency vehicles that lined the street before them. In their view, uniformed officers scrambled to get in positions to take on the inmate’s that were now running the prison. In the sky above a helicopter hovered, as if to be taking video of what was going on in the yard. Moving slowly to the right, a television helicopter also flew above the prison broadcasting live images of the smoke that rose from the yard above the prison.
“I wish we had a television in here,” Rancid said. “I’d like to see what the news has on us.”
“There’s a television in the pod,” Anita said.
“Yeah, but you can see the screen through the glass. Can’t hear anything, but you can see the picture.”
Rancid walked over to the pod and looked inside. There was a screen at the top of the wall with pictures of the prison, little squares showing the halls, and rooms. And next to it was a live shot of the yard from the helicopter outside. Rancid could make out the image of Charles kicking the ashes of the dead and tossing bones around as if he was searching for something. Charles either didn’t notice, or care that the helicopter was above him shooting live video. He wanted something he could use as weapons or tools.
“What does it say on the bottom of the screen?” Rancid asked.
“You can’t read?” Anita asked.
“No, I have diabetes, I can’t see shit anymore.”
Anita stepped up to the glass and read the words scrawled across the bottom of the screen. “Governor Tate has requested assistance from the Federal government to assist with the takeover of the prison.”
“Great, now we have the feds to worry about,” Rancid said.
“You know, we didn’t do this, at least I had nothing to do with it. We can give ourselves up.”
“I can see Charles tossing leg bones into a pile on live television. Do you think the government is going to believe we had nothing to do with this? I’d be surprised if they didn’t dump napalm on the place and burn it to the ground.”
“There’re humans left, they won’t do that.”
“They will try to rescue them, once they do, we’re done,” Rancid said.
“They have no idea how many humans are left, they won’t do anything unless they can account for everyone who was working at the time.”
Rancid scratched his chin and thought for a second. “Yeah, you’re probably right. Until they can force us out, they can’t do much.”
“We need to get the humans out of pod three and into a cell, so we can keep an eye on them. Maybe put them if a few different cells so they can’t get to them at the same time.”
“You forget something, I’m not in charge,” Rancid said.
“You want to be,” Anita replied.
“Want and be are two very different things. I might have some pull with the skinheads, but that’s about it. I’m surprised you’re talking to me. Why don’t you take the lead?”
“If I thought I could, I would. The women here get no respect at all. If we didn’t keep together, we’d be raped and killed,” Anita said. “It’s still a man’s world.”
“Well, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell I can tell these fuckers what to do. I’m best saving my own hide. You’re welcome to join me if you want,” Rancid said.
“Good luck, we’re all locked up in here like animals,” Anita replied.
“This in an old building, with lots of hiding places, and I’m a rat. I can get to places that most can’t”
“What do you know I don’t know?” Anita asked.
“This place has tunnels that run under the building. There are crawl spaces above the ceiling and there are tram lines that were built but never put into use. I can use that to my advantage,” Rancid said. “If I can get to them.”
“Yeah, and it looks like Charles is out finding all the good tools,” Anita said pointing to the television screen.
“What’s he found?” Rancid asked.
“He has something in his hand, looks like a screwdriver, I can’t tell.” Anita again read from the scroll on the bottom of the screen. “Reports are coming in that the remains in the yard belong to the tourists. Estimates are that approximately twenty to thirty bodies are contained in the pile.”
“I wonder how they figured that out?” Rancid asked.
“It’s a guess, I could have done that,” Anita replied. “I think you better make friends with Charles soon, if he has all the tools, he’ll be the one in charge.”
“Do you know how prison works?” Rancid asked. “If he has all the tools, he’ll be dead and his tools will be all over the place. Prisoners don’t like to share.” Then Rancid heard the sound of the police helicopter get louder. He pressed in close to the window and saw the dark colored machine slowly lower to his level. He knew the glass was bulletproof, but stepped back anyway as a reflex and hid behind the wall.
He kept an eye on the spinning blades and wondered what was going on. Then he saw two officers jump down from the helicopter to the ground and approach the window. They were dressed in full riot gear and carrying guns and a note that they taped to the window facing inside. As soon as they placed the note, they took off and jumped back onto the helicopter and took off.
Rancid stepped back around the wall to the window and looked at the note. Why did they chose to put the note up on that particular window?
Then Anita spoke up, “We’re on television.”
Rancid looked to her realizing there had been a camera on them the whole time and that’s why they picked that window. They knew there was someone there they could contact. Rancid squinted his eyes and tried to read the print. He couldn’t make it out.
“It says, “You have no chance, surrender immediately. If you have access to a phone, dial 911 and ask for the commissioner. Signed, Governor Tate Williams.”
“What the fuck?” Rancid asked. “The governor signed this himself?”
“I’m sure it’s a copy, but it is signed,” Anita replied.
“Well if that’s the case, I’ll put my hands right up and walk out the front door,” Rancid said with a smile.
“Why don’t you? Probably save your life.”
“I’m in too deep now, I killed at least two tourists in the commons, and they have video cameras all over this fucking place. If I leave, it will be a short walk to the guillotine.”
Anita looked at Rancid and saw how much blood covered him. But she didn’t realize he had personally killed anyone.
“Did you kill anyone?” Rancid asked.
“No,” Anita replied.
“Did you feed off any of the bodies?”
“Yeah, you’re as fucked as I am.”
“It’s not a crime to feed off a dead body,” Anita replied.
“Desecrating a corpse is a crime, look it up,” Rancid said.
Anita bit her lip and shook her head. “I was just doing what vampires do. They can’t do anything to me for that?”
“Are you serious, that’s exactly why you’re here in the first place, for doing what vampires do. That excuse might fly when you’re talking about a tiger locked up in a zoo who kills its trainer, but they expect more from us. We’re supposed to know the rules, and ignore our instincts. You’re in this as much as I am, and the idea of walking out the front door with your hands up won’t save you in the end when the blade comes down on your neck and cuts off your head.”
“Fine, then we should leave,” Anita said.
“I agree, fuck them, we need to get to the tunnels, but first we need to find Charles and see what he’s found.”
“Are you going to ask him to hand over what he’s got?” Anita asked.
“No, but if you want out of here, you’ll help me get some of his stuff from him.”
“We don’t know what he’s got, don’t count your chickens yet.” Anita said.
Rancid heard footsteps and turned to the doorway. Emerging from the hall was Charles, with a handful of objects dangling from his fingers. Rancid spied what looked like a long metal shank, or screwdriver between Charles fingers.
“What do you have there?” Rancid asked.
Charles smiled and kept walking, waving a cell phone and a set of keys as he moved along. Before they could digest what they saw, Charles was out of the room and back into another hallway.
“Did you see that?” Anita asked.
“He has keys,” Rancid replied. He was anxious and jittery.
“We need those keys,” Anita said.
“Let’s follow him,” Rancid said and the two took off walking towards the hall where Charles disappeared from view.