Bohdan fumbled with the keys and managed to unlock the maintenance door with Cara slung over his shoulder. He entered the short hall into the department to another door and entered. Once inside, he looked around the large, dark, dusty mechanical room looking for the entrance to the tunnel that led to Topeka. What he saw was endless shelves full of wires, tools, and other odds and ends used to repair the prison. To his right were the boilers, near them was the central air units and to his left was the control panel that allowed the maintenance workers to run various parts of the prison and view what was going on.
The one thing Bohdan didn’t see was a sign that said, “Tunnel this way.” Cara began to struggle as she woke from her carbon monoxide induced sleep. Bohdan laid her on the concrete floor and walked around the room looking for anything that would lead him to the tunnel entrance. Then he heard voices. The voices of Rancid and Isaac speaking to each other. The room Bohdan was in was huge; it was two stories high and around fifty feet long with huge windows that let in plenty of light to see. It was large enough that it wasn’t easy to spot the two other vampires who shared the space with him.
“What’s going on?” Cara asked as she stood up.
“Quiet,” Bohdan replied.
Cara whispered, “Why should I be quiet? Tell me where I am.”
“We’re in the basement, and we’re not alone, so shut up.”
Cara looked around the huge room and tried to gain her bearings. In all the time she worked at the prison, she’d never been to the maintenance department. They always came to the hospital if she needed them. Then she saw two men walk around the corner, two men she recognized as Rancid and Isaac.
As Rancid approached, he noticed Cara and Bohdan and paused for a moment. “Look what we have here!” Rancid spoke up. “Looks like Bohdan and his bitch got away from the pod.”
Bohdan turned and looked at Rancid as he approached. He didn’t reply.
“How did you two end up here?” Rancid asked. “Where are the rest of you?”
“I don’t know,” Bohdan replied. “They were alive and well when I left.”
Rancid stepped over to the control center and punched a few keys on the video monitor screen. He found what he was looking for. The camera in the commons showed a picture of a handful of vampires sitting around at tables, and the floor covered in blood. Rancid moved the camera and pointed it at the pod. He could see the door was wide open and blood covered the floor all around it. “Looks like they’re dead now.” Rancid said.
“Looks like it,” Bohdan replied.
“And you brought your girlfriend, isn’t that nice?”
Cara snapped, “He was going to let the vampires kill me, I’m sure he doesn’t consider me to be his girlfriend.”
“Is that right Bohdan? Were you going to let us kill her?”
“At the time yes,” Bohdan replied.
“What changed your mind?”
“I thought I could use her, feed on her if I needed.”
Cara snapped again. “Are you fucking serious? You brought me along as food?”
“I didn’t know if I could find the tunnel, and if I were trapped, I’d need to survive.”
Rancid smiled and said, “You brought a snack lunch, how special.”
“Where’s the tunnel?” Bohdan asked.
“Why should I tell you?” Rancid asked.
“I’ll find it either way, you don’t have to tell me.”
“Before you leave, we need to talk,” Rancid said.
Then Isaac said in his British accent, “About you helping us run this place.”
“I just told you I’m leaving, why would I help you?”
“We want to change your mind.”
“I don’t have time for this.”
“No, you have plenty of time for this, if you don’t hear us out, we’ll kill you and take your woman.”
“You’ll probably do that either way,” Cara said.
“Shut up bitch,” Isaac said. “You’re nothing but food to me, and I don’t discuss anything with my lunch.”
“Get to the point,” Bohdan said. He was trying not to get too pissed.
“Fine then, we want to run the prison, and we need help organizing the rest of the vampires. We think you might be able to help.”
“You didn’t know I was here ten minutes ago, when did you hatch this idea?”
“The second we saw you,” Isaac replied.
“So you don’t really have a plan do you?”
“No, that’s why we want to talk.”
“You do realize that the prison population is segregated along racial lines don’t you? Each group has its own leader. What makes you think they would all group together under me?”
“Because if they don’t, they won’t survive.”
“They won’t survive anyway, I’m sure it’s a matter of time before they storm this place. They are probably waiting until they starve us down to the point we can’t defend ourselves and then it’s over.”
“I think we all realize that, so that’s why we need someone to organize these vampires so we can survive.”
“Good luck with that, you’d have a better chance trying to organize a cat parade,” Bohdan said.
“You think you’re funny?” Isaac asked.
“No, I’m not funny at all,” Bohdan replied.
“I’m half tempted to let you try to find your fucking tunnel. Last I heard it didn’t exist. And if it does, I’m sure it’s either locked or has been filled with concrete years ago.”
“Tell you what, if there is no tunnel I’ll agree to help you, how does that sound?”
Isaac turned to Rancid and both looked back at Bohdan. “Fine, we have nothing to lose, and if you do find the tunnel, maybe we can use it as well,” Isaac said.
Bohdan stepped away from the two vampires making sure Cara was following him. He walked away from the boiler side of the room towards the storage part looking for a door that led to the tunnel. The maintenance room was huge, it went on for a hundred yards filled with a hundred years’ worth of old unused equipment and crap. The door to the tunnel could easily be hidden behind any of a number of shelving units and stacks of old tin roofing and boxes of wire and metal parts. It would be a frustrating long tedious search that Bohdan wasn’t up for. He was hungry and starting to get weak.
“We’ll never find the tunnel,” Cara said. “There’s too much shit in here.”
“Keep looking,” Bohdan replied. He was visibly getting lethargic and his speech reflected that.
“What’s wrong with you?” Cara asked.
“I’m starving, I need to feed soon.”
“Not on me you’re not!” Cara barked.
“Who else do I have?”
“You’ll have to find another way.”
“You’re the only human I know left in the prison, if you go back, you’ll be food for every vampire left alive. I image they are all starving as well. The tourists were a great feast, but their blood only lasts so long.”
“We can go to the medical unit, we have blood there.”
“Have you tasted processed blood? It’s no good for us.”
“When have you tasted it? We keep those bags locked up.”
“You’re not the first nurse to work here. Back in the day the nurses would smuggle blood out to the vampires. Back when it wasn’t so processed. Now the blood tastes like weak tea, and has the nutrition of it as well. If it comes down to it, I could drink of you without killing you. Just enough to keep me going.”
“What? Like a juice bag?”
Bohdan smiled when she said that. “A juice bag, I like that analogy.”
“If you drink my blood that will make me a vampire won’t it?” Cara asked.
“If my mouth touches your skin as I drink yes, then the enzymes pass and you will change. If you like, you can bleed into a cup, and I can drink from that. Then you will be safe and won’t change.”
“Bleed into a cup, that sounds odd to me,” Cara said. “I don’t see a cup dispenser anywhere around here.”
“There is a water cooler back at the control panel, I saw it. It has disposable paper cups.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Cara said.
“Now find the door to the tunnel,” Bohdan said.
For the next hour Bohdan and Cara searched for the entrance to the tunnel in vain. The room was an endless expanse of stored junk with no doors anywhere. Then they found something. Back behind several rolls of wire fencing was a single door with the word “No exit” painted in red. Cara pushed the rolls apart and made her way to the door and looked for a handle to open it. What she found was a place where the handle use to be and a slot for a key.
“What did you find?” Bohdan asked. He stayed back as he wasn’t strong enough to move the heavy rolls of fencing.
“The handle is missing, and it takes a key to open,” Cara said.
“Does it say anything about a tunnel?”
Cara looked again. “No,” she replied.
“Here, come get my keys,” Bohdan said.
Cara pushed her way through the fencing again and took the keys. She made her way back to the door and fished through them one at a time trying to find one that fit. “None of these work,” she said.
“We need to move the fencing and try another way.”
Cara again fished her way back out of the fencing to where Bohdan was standing. “The doors not marked, we could work for nothing. There must be a map around here.”
“That’s the door to the tunnel, I’m sure of it,” Bohdan said.
“You don’t look like you’re in any condition to be moving any fencing around, let alone trying to break into that door. Hell, I don’t think you could stop me if I tried to leave.”
“Leave then” Bohdan said. “Take your chances alone. You won’t survive.”
Cara knew she had to take care of the one being who wanted to use her as food. The irony sucked, but she had no choice. It was either help Bohdan escape, or be killed by the vampires who were loose in the prison. “What do you want me to do?”
“Go find some tools, something we can use to break the door open.”
“And in the meantime you’re going to move all this fence?”
“I will try,” Bohdan said.
“Fine, you’ll be passed out before I get back. You look like a diabetic who forgot to eat lunch.”
“In a way I am,” Bohdan said.
“You better sit down and wait for me, don’t do anything until I get back.”
Then a familiar voice spoke up. It was Rancid. “Did you find something?” he asked.
Spooked, Cara spun around and replied, “We think we may have found the door to the tunnel.”
“Let me see,” Rancid said. He moved in closer and looked over the wire fencing to the wall. He saw the door with the writing on it and smiled. “Jesus Christ, you might have just found it. Or the door to the cellar.”
“Cellar?” Cara asked.
“They used to store food down here, back in the early part of the century. But don’t get me wrong, this could very well be the door to the tunnel.”
“Yeah, I need to find a way to open the door,” Cara said.
“Fuck, I can give you a hand with that missy,” Rancid said.
“If you don’t mind,” Cara said.
“Yeah, after I eat that is,”
“What?” Cara asked.
“I’m kind of hungry, and so is Isaac, I think we’d do a better job getting that door open on a full stomach.”