A voice called out over the speakers on the maintenance console. The sound startled Rancid causing him to turn around without thinking. “What’s that?” Rancid asked.
“Fuck I don’t know,” Isaac replied. “Somebody’s trying to call us.”
“Wait a second,” Rancid said. He put up his hand to silence everyone so he could listen to the voice. It sounded like two officials talking to each other. The quality of the sound was poor and hard to make out, but Rancid was sure they weren’t talking to them. He took off towards the console followed by Isaac, Bohdan and Cara.
At the console, Rancid sat down and looked at the monitors. He heard more voices talking about securing the back wall, and something about moving some officers to a different location. “It’s the fucking police,” Rancid said. “For some reason, they are broadcasting on the prison communication system.”
“Should we try to talk to them?” Isaac asked.
“What do you want to say?”
“Maybe we can negotiate a release.”
“A release? To where? We’re already in prison.”
“You don’t think we can live here forever do you? They will come in and take the prison back over again, and by that time, they won’t be taking prisoners. We probably won’t survive.”
“The way things are going, we’ll starve to death before they take us.”
Then Cara spoke up. “Why not use the blood supply in the kitchen?”
“What?” Rancid asked.
“They feed you that blood product don’t they? To keep you alive? They must have some stored in the kitchen, or in the freezer.”
“I didn’t think about that,” Rancid said. “That’s very good of you to think of that. How can we get to the kitchen without running into other vampires?”
Bohdan spoke up, “Check to see if there is a diagram of the prison layout. Maybe there is a direct passage from here to the kitchen, like an unloading zone.”
Rancid pulled the computer keyboard up close and tapped on some keys. The monitor lit up and immediately asked for a username and login. “I don’t think this is going to work, unless you know the username and password.”
“It’s taped to the monitor,” Cara said.
“Holy shit, it is,” Rancid said. He looked at the post it note and entered the information. He hit enter and the screen popped up a command screen with various links. Rancid took a long look and found what he was looking for. He used the mouse and selected, “Layout,” and waited for the screen to change. What he saw was more links to various parts of the prison. Including the floor he was on.
“Click that one,” Bohdan said.
Rancid clicked the link to the maintenance floor and a diagram of the floor popped up on his screen. Bohdan immediately saw what he was looking for. “There it is,” Bohdan said.
“What?” Rancid asked.
“The door we were at, that is the tunnel entrance.”
Rancid took a closer look and replied, “Damn, you’re right. So how the fuck do we break into the tunnel through that door?”
“Power drill,” Bohdan replied. “They have all sorts of tools down here. Find a drill and bore out the lock.”
“What about the food?” Isaac asked. “I’m starving.”
Bohdan said, “Go back and look at the floor above, see where the kitchen is.”
Rancid clicked the link for the second floor and a different diagram popped on the screen. Everyone took a look and tried to locate where the blood products would be stored.
“Looks like the kitchen storage is right above us,” Rancid said.
“How do we get there?” Isaac asked.
“Simple, we go out the door, up the stairs to the second floor. The kitchen is right there. We have keys to get in.”
“Let’s go then,” Isaac said.
“You go, we’ll stay here and work on the door.”
“I can’t carry all the blood myself, I’ll need help.”
“We don’t need much, just get a few gallon jugs and come back.”
Isaac was frustrated, but hungry. “Fine, give me the keys.”
“Which set?” Rancid asked. “I have one and Bohdan has one.”
“I don’t care,” Isaac said.
Rancid tossed Isaac his keys and pushed back from the desk. “Hurry back, it shouldn’t take long to get through the door once we find a drill and get to work.”
Isaac took off and left the room. Then Rancid noticed something else on the computer monitor. “What’s this?” Rancid asked.
Cara and Bohdan moved in closer to take a look at the screen. In red, was a special link that read, “Prison security, auto destruct.”
“Click it,” Bohdan said.
Rancid clicked the link and a page popped up with the words, “Prison self-destruct” on the top in red letters.
“What does it say?” Bohdan asked.
Rancid moved in close and read the copy. “The auto destruct can only be authorized by the governor of the state of Kansas. All key codes must be entered manually and match the preselected codes in the system. Once the codes have been verified, the system can only be stopped by an override made at this console, or at the corporate headquarters.”
Cara said, “There’s an auto destruct? I had no idea.”
Bohdan replied, “I heard rumors about it over the years, but I didn’t know it was for real.”
“What did you hear?”
“The rumor is that there are ammonia nitrate cells at each corner of the prison. They say it’s enough to level the building three times over.”
“Why would they put a self-destruct in the first place?” Cara asked.
Rancid replied, “To kill the fucking vampires, why do you think?”
“What about the staff?”
“I’m assuming that by the time they set off the bombs, the staff would either be dead or evacuated. Or the public would be in danger so the staff would be expendable.”
“So there is a chance they could set them off now?”
“Not yet, they haven’t tried to enter the prison. Unless our fellow vampires are causing a huge problem, they should try to negotiate first.”
“Can you bring up the cameras so we can see what’s going on?”
Rancid looked the screen over. Then he saw a different set up for the camera surveillance system. “It’s all right here,” Rancid said pushing the monitor so Cara could see it. The screen was much smaller, but she could see a dozen different camera shots from different locations around the prison.
“Where is everybody?” Cara asked.
“I see a few in the yard,” Rancid said, “And there are some in pod one and pod two.”
“Yeah, but there should be a lot more, did they escape?”
“I doubt it, they are probably back in their cells, and the doors are unlocked, where else can they go?”
“I don’t see any police yet,” Cara said.
“I don’t either, I’m assuming they’ll wait a few more days until we’re almost starved to death before they make contact.”
“And let any humans that are still alive starve as well?”
“As far as I know, you are the only human left alive,” Rancid said.
“But they don’t know that.”
“I’m sure they’ll send in a small team to check for survivors. If they don’t the media will be all over them. I’d expect them to break into the prison tonight or tomorrow, and we’ll be fucking long gone by then,” he said with a grin.
Then another voice called across the speaker. The voice was talking about needing two officers at the command center and another being sent to help direct traffic.
“Maybe we should talk to them,” Bohdan said.
“Talk to them about what?” Rancid asked. “We’re almost home free.”
“You have no idea if that tunnel is intact. It runs for miles. It could be blocked, and you don’t know what’s on the other side. We might be best off negotiating a release.”
“You like living in prison?” Isaac asked. “I’ve had enough of living in this shit hole. You can negotiate, I’m leaving.”
“How long have you lived here?” Rancid asked. “A hundred years?”
“More like a hundred and thirty,” Bohdan replied.
“And you want to live here longer? You’re in for life right?”
“Yes,” Bohdan replied.
“I don’t think they took immortality into consideration when they came up with a life sentence. Have they ever considered giving you parole?”
“Then why not take the chance to escape?” Rancid asked. “What are you going to lose?”
Bohdan thought for a moment. “This prison is all I’ve ever known since the eighteen hundreds. I wouldn’t know how to survive outside now.”
“You’ve become institutionalized.” Cara said. “It happens to lots of inmates over the years.”
“You learn that in nursing school?” Rancid asked.
“No, I’ve worked here long enough to know.”
“So what’s it going to be? Do you want to talk to the police and see if they’ll give you your cell back? Or do you want to leave with us?”
Just then the door opened and Isaac stepped in holding a cardboard box the size of a microwave oven. On the side it read, “Blood products, not safe for human consumption.” He stepped over to the console and said, “I found it, fucking freezing in there.”
“Open the box, let’s feed so we can get going,” Rancid said. “It might be the two of us, I think Bohdan wants to stay.”
“Fuck that,” Isaac said as he tore open the box. Inside the box were individual containers that resembled what you’d find in a soda machine all labeled with the same warning as on the larger box. When they served the vampires at lunch, they always poured the contents of the bottles into a Styrofoam cup and threw away the original container. None of the vampires had ever seen where the blood product came from, or the label. It was felt it was better if they didn’t know what the ingredients were. The product only contained ten percent human blood, the rest was pig blood bought from a rendering plant in Crete Nebraska.
Isaac popped the top on a bottle and took a long drink downing the whole thing in one setting. He licked his lips and read the label on the bottle. “Holy shit, this is ninety percent pig blood,” he said.
Cara replied, “Kept you alive didn’t it?”
“Did you know that had pig blood in it?”
“Yes, diets are part of my job.”
“What if I were Jewish?” Isaac asked with a grin.
“I don’t think the state cares. Pure blood is expensive, the pig blood made it cheap enough the taxpayers could handle it.”
“I’m sure the taxpayers would prefer we were all given the lethal injection,” Isaac said. His British accent was almost comical.
“I’m sure,” Cara said.
“I thought this was a private prison, why would the taxpayers give a shit?”
“It’s subsidized,” Cara said. “Like Medicaid.”
Rancid interrupted, “Enough chit chat, we need to get going. Are you going with us Bohdan?”
Bohdan took a long drink and felt his energy coming back. Not from the drink, but from the adrenaline he felt knowing he would be at full strength soon. “Yes, I’ll go with you. We need to find some lights, and a backpack to store some of the drinks in case we get trapped inside.”
“No problem,” Rancid said. “Let’s start looking for that and a drill large enough to open that door.”
Cara felt better now knowing she wasn’t on the menu, at least for a while. As long as the blood products held out, she was safe. And hopefully the trip through the tunnel to Topeka would be a fast one.