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 Post subject: Doing Time
PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 1:19 am 
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This tale starts slow. I'd done some work on the story before I saw the prison on Walking Dead. Any comments will be appreciated.

Doing Time

The United States Air Force’s unmanned space plane returned from its one year secret mission in space. The vehicle that was smaller than a space shuttle but similar in appearance had landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The seven month mission supposedly spying on Iran was mysteriously extended. Immediately after landing emergency phone calls were made to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Whitehouse. Over the next three days a parade of officials from the Center for Disease Control, CIA, FBI, FEMA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and NASA visited the Whitehouse.

Cell Mates

Leo hung upside down from the top bunk to shake his cellmate who was snoring. Trey jerked awake then looked around for a second and grunted “Sorry man” then dozed off to Leo’s laughter. The men had been cellmates for almost six months now. Leo Kracken thought everything was funny especially Trey McFaren. That’s why he was called the Joker. Leo was a master thief in the second year of a fifteen to twenty year sentence. Even if he only did a half he’d be almost sixty by the time he got out.

Trey’s real name was Douglas but nobody called him that if they expected him to answer. His father always called him Trey and nobody knows why. He had barely completed six months of a five to ten year sentence for bank robbery. Trey figured if the cops didn’t find the loot on you a fifteen to twenty year sentence had a way of ending up as five to ten years.

Joker had been stealing things as long as he could remember and except once as a juvenile he had never been caught until this time. To avoid attention for no visible means of support he worked in construction. He had an aptitude for machinery and tools and made a good living but he really liked thieving.

If it hadn’t been for a US Circuit court Judge with a few drinks under his belt and his cell phone screwed into his ear running a red light and center punching Joker’s car he never would have been pinched. The police found half the inventory of a jewelry shop in his trunk. According to the newspaper it was top flight police work with no mention of any drunken judge chatting with his mistress. Joker laughed every time he thought of the circumstance.

Trey at 35 years old had been a solid citizen with a college degree and nice office job. On the side he did some weekend construction in the summer building decks or roofing houses. After a stint with the Army he’d married his college sweetheart and coming home to his new house from a business trip for his new job to find his wife in bed with his ex-best friend. At risk of losing his house while paying his school and car loans on a single salary he had taken up bank robbery for “fun and Profit” as he thought of it.

Trey drove the FBI crazy as he never presented a pattern to his robberies for them to study. His appearance, firearm, method and bank location was different each time. His average height and weight made him blend in. One or two banks a year was plenty for Trey.

He was leaving a bank with their cash when an older lady’s poodle bit him on the ankle. He’d dropped the money and made it to his car but the cops busted him on the basis of the bloody ankle when they had stopped him after he reached his cutout car. He had character witnesses lined out the courthouse door but it hadn’t done him any good. Everyone who knew him except his brother was still convinced he was innocent. Joker thought this was hilarious.

By the time the cell lights came on both men were ready for breakfast. Their blue jeans, light blue shirts and clod hopper shoes were neat and the cell was squared away. “Why did you wake me again?” Trey asked Joker.

“You were snoring again.”

“I don’t snore and you know it”.

“You snore every night.”

“I have never snored.”

The argument continued as it did every morning with Joker grinning madly until the cell doors opened. The duo emerged onto the second story walkway of their Pod and having the end cell had to walk the length of the east side to reach the stairs. Almost all the inmates either waited in their cells for Joker to pass or had already made it down the stairs. A few of the larger felons stood in the doorways daring the five foot five inch thief to try and make a score.

At the bottom of the stairs the groups standing there parted before Joker like the Red Sea parting for Moses. The fifty man Pod known as the Thieves Den to the prison populace as well as the guards housed thieves of one sort or another. Only theft or robbery convictions landed you in the Den however Trey kept an eye on several inmates as he was pretty sure were capable of murder.

Leaning against the wall waiting for breakfast to be wheeled in they watched the news on the televisions suspended from the ceiling. The Pod was an update to a one hundred and ten year old facility belonging to the Pennsylvania State prison system. Same old clothing and same old fifty foot granite walls surrounding the facility but the Pods had segregated the inmates by crimes.

The weather for late March in western Pennsylvania was about what Trey expected. Actually the weather was for Pittsburg seventy miles to the south so he subtracted eight degrees from the given temperature. Allegheny county weather was windy with a chance of snow with the current temperature a brisk twenty two degrees with a possible warming to thirty eight today.

Trey wouldn’t have been surprised if a considerable snow arrived yet this winter. The blizzard of 1993 was at the end of March so it wouldn’t be the first time March went out like an angry Lion. Trey had never robbed a bank in March. Early in his career he had to pass on two scheduled robberies due to the uncertain March weather.

The inmates hurried to line up as the breakfast carts rolled through the door. Thanks to Joker the pair always had to eat last. The guard, Mr. Taggart, made sure of Joker’s location before he nodded for serving to begin. The prisoners had to clean the Pod after meals so most were careful about spilling food.

After the others had their food Joker and Trey approached the cart. “I’d like a ham and cheese omelet with crisp hash browns and orange juice please” Joker requested with a grin. Mr. Taggart pointed a finger at Joker as a warning not to start trouble. The dour servers slapped spoonfuls of powdered scrambled eggs and half cooked potatoes on their trays accompanied by limp toast. Then each had his choice of warm orange juice or cold coffee to wash it down with.

Joker demanded loudly “I want to speak with the chef”. Trey rolled his eyes at Mr. Taggart as he hooked a finger in the back of Joker’s collar and towed the grinning man backwards to a table. Trey watched the little guy poke at the eggs and potatoes uncertainly with his fork before tasting a bite of each.

“Why do you always mess with the kitchen guys?”

“I didn’t do anything.”

“Mr. Taggart is getting annoyed.”

“He likes me.”

“Sure he does Joker.”

Neither one of the pair finished the food on the plates. The orange juice and coffee was always finished. The food carts were still by the wall as required by state law in case anyone wanted seconds although few ever did. Trey took both trays to the trash cans and dumped the remnants of the food. As he picked up his second coffee Joker called across the room “Get me another orange juice” like he did every morning although often Trey pretended not to hear. Breakfast finished, Mr. Taggart showed the pair his displeasure by crooking a finger at Trey. “ You and the funny man get to do the count” he grunted. Trey nodded and returned to the table where he leaned with both hands on the table and stared at Joker.

“Mr. Taggart admired your breakfast order so much that he wants us to remain in his company. We get to do the count.”

“Why does he always want us to do the count? I didn’t do nothing.”

“Gee, I don’t know.”

“I didn’t do nothing. You don’t think it’s my fault do you? I’d hate it if you thought it was my fault we have to do the count” Joker said grinning wildly.

“I’m convinced it wasn’t anything you did. Like you said, Mr. Taggart really likes you.”

The pair counted the trays and then the spoons. When Mr. Taggart looked away for a moment Joker pulled the spoon out of his waist band and added it to the stack. The count complete the irritated guard checked the piles of ten and odds to confirm the count. The pod cleaning had begun and everyone else had left for their job when the cellmates were given the nod to head to their jobs.

Joker worked in the Library since there wasn’t anything there even he would want to steal. Trey worked a clerical job by the Warden’s office since he was a “college boy”. He made files for the new inmates and checked the paperwork before entering the same information into the state computer system. The inmates being transferred or released had their files pulled to be updated and the changes added to the computer.


Just Another Day


Mimi Stolttz was the Warden’s secretary and double checked everything Trey did. She wasn’t the smartest person but her well filled blouse was under constant surveillance from prisoners and guards alike. While putting his work in her in basket he would always chat for a few moments. Standing in one exact spot in front of the desk he could look down her shirt while he chatted. While he worked he listened to the ceiling mounted television in the room. Usually the news channel was on which was tons better than talk shows. Nobody commented on his being late again because they knew he was partnered with Joker. Everybody knew Joker.

Four drones on the state payroll all had desks in the office also. As far as Trey could tell they didn’t do anything at all unless the warden exited his office. One guard was always at the office door usually a member of the lame, crippled or crazy brigade. Lately this had been Mr. Thompson who was recovering from surgery for a torn rotator cuff. The word was he would rather be at work than home with his wife and brood for twelve weeks. He always tried unsuccessfully to get Trey to talk about bank robberies. Trey told everyone who would listen he wasn’t guilty. That was his story and he was sticking to it. Mr. Thompson loved bank robberies and would regale Trey with stories of all the bank robbers that had spent time in the Mercer county facility.

Finished for the day Trey had to stop at the Library to pick up Joker. The small man would place the returned books back in stacks and check books being taken out. He always had any books Trey had asked for as well as his own usually something in the electrical, engineering or building design field. Back at the pod the pair usually had time to change for a run on the track and work with weights or calisthenics before dinner. The cellmates spent the evening reading or playing cards although most of the rest of the pod were glued to the television until lights out. At the end of each hand the dealer had to count the cards to keep Joker honest while he protested how insulting it was.

This particular night the card players stopped and looked at the television when the crowd yelled “bath salts”. The commentator was talking about an incident at the JFK airport where a passenger on a San Francisco to New York City flight had decided to gnaw on another passenger. The authorities suspected the passenger had been smoking bath salts. Back in the 1970’s strange behavior was being blamed on the use of PCP. Now it was smoking bath salts.

Trey tried his hardest to do a day at a time. He couldn’t imagine doing this for ten years. It was depressing in the extreme to think about it. Like the old television show said “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”. Trey grew up reading about bank robbers. Willie Sutton, Jesse James, John Dillinger, Bill Doolin, the Reno gang, the Barrow gang, the Barkers and the list went on. Trey admired the Earl Drake fiction series.

Even as a kid when his father took him into the bank he always checked it out for cameras, where the vault was, how close the tellers were to the door. The Earl Drake character made it seem so possible. Do the research for the job. Police patrol routes, roving patrols, multiple get away routes, cash delivery dates, and so on. With the research more than two jobs a year just wasn’t possible without a lot of risk.

That night in the cell Trey and Joker had their weekly chat about escaping. Joker’s new plan was explained to Trey.

“Mr. Tarrant’s key would get us out of the pod after dark” Joker declared.

“And since Mr. Tarrant likes you so much he would just give you the key?”

“No” Joker replied grinning. “Why would he give me his key?”

“This sounds like your plan from back in January.”

“Naw, January’s plan was totally different.”

“We need money and a car after we get out” Trey pointed out.

“A car is no problem.”

“What about cash?”

“Don’t you have any from the bank job?”

“Hey, I told you a million times I didn’t do it. It was a case of mistaken identity”.

Joker was laughing too hard to reply. “I didn’t do it” Trey repeated. Don’t you have any money from your jobs?”

“I got caught, remember?”

“Well, what about your other jobs?”

“I invested it. A man has to think about his retirement ya know.”

Trey pretended to snore until Joker left him alone. The next thing he knew the lights came on and another glorious day started. Joker gave Mr. Tarrant a large smile at breakfast but didn’t say a word so they got to work on time for a change. The news covered two more “bath salt” cases in New York. After work they changed for a run before chow and Joker sprang his theory on Trey.

“It’s not the bath salts.”

“OK professor what’s causing it?”

Joker whispered in conspiratorial manner “It was the secret space mission.”

“The one back in June?”

“Yep, the one they couldn’t wait to blab about on the news. The ship brought back strange radiation like in that old zombie movie.”

Trey rolled his eyes. “You’re right, call the FBI.”

Joker grinned wildly “I’m serious. Besides, the FBI already knows all about it.”

“I agree completely” Trey agreed.

The pair argued through the warm up lap. The conversation dried up as they picked up the pace. Joker could cover some ground with those little legs of his Trey thought. He had to run all out to get ahead of his cell mate but he rarely did. After supper Trey started reading the second volume of Shelby Foote’s civil war trilogy. Joker had a book about metals that sounded boring to Trey.

Before lights out four times the group in front of the television yelled “bath salts”. That night Trey dreamed of something horrible chasing him. Joker woke him grinning. “I don’t snore” Trey remarked. Jokers retorted “No, but you sure do talk in your sleep”. Trey slept soundly the remainder of the night.


Breaking Out

At work the news reported cases blamed on “bath salts” in both Chicago and Los Angeles. Trey felt a shiver when he heard those words. He wasn’t a zombie geek but the subject was mentioned in jest on the firearm forums. Sure, he’d seen the Romero movies but wasn’t a horror movie fan. Trey didn’t know which was worse, zombies or a plague.

In either case he would have to get out of this place. Mrs. McFaren’s little boy wasn’t going to die like an animal in a cage. That night nobody yelled “bath salts” although cases were springing up all over the country. State and Federal officials who were interviewed repeated “No cause to be alarmed” several times. The inmates were no longer laughing.

In the office the following day the news reported severe cases of the flu being treated at hospitals in the major cities. According to the CDC this wasn’t unusual for the month of March. People who received their flu shots early would no longer be under the protection of the shots. In addition, many citizens refuse the shots. After work Joker and Trey hit the weight room. “So how were you going to get Mr. Tarrant’s key” Trey asked?

“I’ll work my magic” the small man answered with a devilish grin.

“Forget I asked how, can you get the key?”

“But of course mes ami.”

“That gets us out of the Pod and the hall into the yard.”

“Yep.”

“How do we get out of the gate?” Trey asked serious about breaking out for the first time.

After a moment’s silence Joker said “We run on the track until dark. You bop the gateman on the head, climb up to the box tie up the guard and use the button to open the gate.”

“Does anyone ever run on the track until dark? Why do I have to do the bopping, climbing and tying?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been out after dark. And you know I don’t do strong arm stuff.”

“A bank robber just waves his gun around, they never hurt anyone.”

“I thought you were in the Army?”

“I wasn’t in the war. My talents were needed elsewhere.”

After two sets of presses Joker said “Maybe we can climb the wall.”

“If you can get one of those big grappling hooks and rope to climb the wall with get a shovel too. Then if we run into trouble we can dig a tunnel under the wall.”

Joker’s answer was a snort before beginning dead lifts.

The pair were silent as the workout progressed. While doing stretches and cooling off Trey made a decision “You get the key and we’ll take a look around.”



Brother Roy


In Pittsburgh Roy McFaren was mired in rush hour traffic. A half hour after leaving work and he was still stuck downtown. He refrained from blowing his horn like many of the idiots around him. Just like the old days when he had to wait his turn to cross one of the bridges out of the city. So much for the wonderful new bypass relieving traffic congestion. After taking an hour off work and going to the FBI field office for his appointment with Agent Tooker the receptionist said he would have to reschedule. Would it have killed Tooker to pick up the phone?

The FBI wanted to have another chat with him about his baby brother the bank robber. For the hundredth time he was grateful his parents weren’t alive to see their son in prison. The shame would have killed his father. Roy wasn’t ashamed of his brother. Anyone with half a brain could have seen he would find a reason to rob banks. He talked to his Dad several times about the kid and Dad had always laughed at him. Talking to Trey had been like talking to a brick wall. Trey would listen and nod before giving him that grin of his and walk away.

His parents had died in a car wreck just after Roy graduated from college. Trey was still in high school at the time. They had fought like cats and dogs until Trey had left for college. He seemed to settle down after the first semester. Trey met a girl his junior year and was in love. She knew he planned to go into the Army after school and appeared to be cool with the idea. Roy had met a young lady himself and was married just before Trey was inducted. He breathed a sigh of relief when his brother was safely in the Army.

Trey’s fiancé came to the house for the holidays but otherwise made herself scarce. His first leave home he showed up with shiny new bars on his shoulder. Roy looked up army decorations on his computer and discovered the one item on the uniform signified he was jumping out of airplanes. Trey told Roy to relax that he was in administration and safe from harm. On subsequent leaves he assured Roy he was just shuffling papers but had somehow ended up with a CIB and a couple ribbons on his greens.

Trey married Jackie the week he was discharged. His job in the city was close to Roy’s and they commuted together. Both of Roy’s little girls loved their Uncle Trey. Three months after starting the job his boss sent him to Chicago for a week but he returned a day early as a surprise for Jackie. While insisting his high school acquaintance not get out of bed he informed his wife that her name was not on the loans for the house but she could take anything she wanted as long as she was gone by Monday. Jackie thought her husband was so calm that it was frightening.

Trey was in money trouble with the new house, college loans and other bills. The brothers waved at each other on the way to work when Trey blasted by on the used Indian motorcycle he had bought. The brothers ate dinner together with the family every Wednesday night. The weekends he spent doing construction work on the side. Word of mouth created a demand for his decks and roofing work. In the winter he still did some kitchen remodeling. He had a good crew that could cover for him if his boss sent him out of town. The kid was closed mouthed about his finances but Roy had hoped he was digging himself out of the hole he was in.

The gifts for his nieces began to arrive. Trey spoiled them whenever possible. Roy noticed Trey always spent cash. Deposits began showing up in Roy’s bank accounts. The girl’s college funds were constantly getting donations. Roy’s wife Janice loved Trey as much as her daughters did. She kept telling Roy not to worry about his brother so much. He wasn’t running around drinking and chasing women. She began to worry too about the time Trey paid for a cruise for Roy’s family. They didn’t fly first class but Roy couldn’t afford the trip at all. When they returned home Trey was in the middle of adding an addition on their house so the girls would have their own rooms.

Roy and his wife both talked to Trey who would nod but in the end would just give them that smile of his and do what he wanted to just like he always had. At last the day Roy had dreaded arrived. The kid called to say he had been arrested in Youngstown Ohio. Roy copied down the phone number of the lawyer Trey read over the phone. When Roy asked about making payments the lawyer said it wasn’t necessary. The expenses were already taken care of. Trey’s bail was set at $750,000 which was promptly paid. The kid almost got away with it. He was sentenced to a term of not less than five or more than ten years in the state prison.

Roy’s car had finally reached the bypass but he was still going to be late for supper. The news on the radio hadn’t improved and the other drivers were tense and unforgiving. Roy decided to visit Trey a week early and see what he had to say about the recent events. Maybe the girls should stay home from school the rest of the week too. They should stock up on food also. His brother had more than once shown up for dinner with buckets of rice and beans but Roy hadn’t paid attention to just how much there was stacked in the basement. Roy laughed thinking about the faces the McFaren women would make if forced to eat rice and beans for every meal. They definitely needed to stock up.


Just taking Samples


Anka Dudek was enjoying her first week of vacation at her sister Ela’s house. She woke up at her usual time for work and smiled as she laid back in the bed for another hour’s sleep. Children’s voices awoke her the second time. Leaving the bed she lazily stretched and yawned before using the bathroom. Once dressed she desended the restored staircase and crossed the refinished wood floor to the kitchen. Anka entered the room to the cries of welcome from her niece and nephew eating their before school breakfast. After the little ones were on their way to school Ann and Ellen enjoyed breakfast and some conversation.

As girls the pair had rejected their proper polish names to their father’s dismay. Ann’s current weasel of a boss at the CDC delighted in calling her Anka. Well liked by her coworkers they all referred to her as Ann. She was only a lab assistant, but it was a job in the big city like she had always wanted. Ellen had married a lawyer and was living in the well to do section of Pittsburgh questionably named Squirrel Hill.

Ann’s brother in law was a good man, for a lawyer, and was doing the house restoration himself. Their sisterly conversation was interrupted by the ringing phone. Ellen answered the call while Ann sipped coffee and nibbled on a cinnamon roll. “Ann”!

Startled she looked at her sister “What”?

“It’s the CDC”.

With a sinking feeling in her stomach she reached for the phone. “Hello”.

“Ann this is Bob Morrison. I’m sorry to interrupt your vacation but we have a problem here. “

Ann knew it was important if her boss the weasel was being nice to her. “What can I do for you Mr. Morrison”?

“A medical emergency has been declared so all vacations are canceled. Every person in our section is in the field taking tissue samples. I’ll be leaving myself after this call. We need somebody in Pittsburgh to make collections and since you are on site you will report to the city coroner’s office. They will have all the supplies and instructions for you”.

Ann’s mouth had dried hearing the word medical emergency. Rumors had been flying around the CDC since last June but she had never imagined this situation. “Uh, for how long”?

“Until further notice. Good luck and be careful”.

Ann sat stunned as her boss hung up on her. Turning to her sister she began to explain.
………

Taking A Look Around


Trey and Joker hit the track later in the day than usual. The pair took their time stretching before starting an easy pace that they hoped would last until after dark. Joker was grinning like a madman and trying not to laugh. For the first time Trey actually looked around. “We can’t see the front gate from here” Trey told the other man.

“You’re right, we can’t see it.”

“We can’t see the back gate either.”

“Nope, I can’t see it either.”

The reconnaissance was cut short by the roving patrol. Mr. Friendly stepped out of the car with an unfriendly look on his face. “Do we know what time it is?" the guard asked with fake civility.

Joker shook his head with an innocent smile holding up his bare wrists. Trey spoke up “No Mr. Friendly, we had a late start.”

“You boys will be missing the supper count and you know what happens then.”

Joker looked at Trey asking “Do we have a supper count?”

Trey relied “Apparently we do.”

Mr. Friendly followed the two men to the door that was now locked. Admitting the pair he admonished “I don’t want to see you two out here this late again without an escort.”


With Trey’s thanks the officer returned to his car as the pair walked back to their Pod.

“I’m the new guy; you’re supposed to tell me this stuff.”

“It’s not like the entire prison took a vote not to tell you. If it makes you feel any better I have Mr. Friendly’s key.” The small man said with an evil smile.

“It must be magic.” Trey replied with a laugh.

The pair entered the Pod nonchalantly ignoring Mr. Taylor giving them the evil eye. Bobo, one of the card players, waved them over. “Hey, you guys almost missed the count.”

“Since when do we have a supper count?” Joker demanded.

“Since always you dwarf.”

Joker declared imperiously “I’m taking a shower.” Before striding a way

“At last a meal without Joker getting me in trouble. Will wonders never cease?”

Bobo laughed with Trey. “Aren’t you going to shower?”

“I’ll wait. Otherwise people might talk.” Trey said with his trademark smile.

As the squeaky clean Joker returned Trey asked Bobo “Was that meal good or am I getting used to this slop?”

“Hey man, aren’t you going to shower?”

“Naw, the guy I share a cell with doesn’t care if I smell like a gym sock. He’s very understanding that way.”

By the time Joker finished eating Trey had cleaned up and was standing by the stairs. Joker wandered over. “We have to go tonight otherwise they’ll find the key inside and know it was us.”

Trey returned Joker’s madman grin and they sauntered toward the door. The break in routine was noticed by several pairs of eyes. With a turn of the key they were out the door. The pair didn’t want any friends or friends of friends along. A quick look revealed an empty hallway. In less than sixty seconds they were outside in the yard. Mr. Friendly passed by once while the pair hid behind a maintenance building. Joker hissed as the gate came into view. An officer with a rifle was standing in front of the gate. The man in the box was outside on the railing with a long arm of some sort.

Trey jerked his thumb back to the hall door. Mr. Friendly was dodged a second time. At the Pod door Trey held it open while Joker ran back to pitch the key out on the sidewalk for Mr. Friendly to find. The Pod door closed as heads turned to see what was going on. Taking seats they watched the news while being eyeballed by the other convicts. Besides the bath salt victims and the patients with the flu, people were being found in comas by family members. Tomorrow might be too late to get out of here Trey thought.


Lockdown

The lights popped on in the morning but the doors never opened. The speakers in the Pod announced that the facility was on lockdown. Breakfast was late since it took time for individual trays to be taken to the cells. Trey whispered to Joker “Is this about the key?”

Joker held his hands up in an “I don’t know” gesture.

Mr. Tarrant opened their cell about an hour after breakfast. “The Warden wants to see you two. Don’t ask why cause I don’t know.” The Warden’s outer offices looked almost empty. The drones were missing and so was Mr. Thompson. Mimi Stolttz was at her desk and asked the pair to have a seat until the Warden was free. Mr. Tarrant closed the door on the way out. Joker and Trey just looked at each other.

Joker was snoring while Trey counted ceiling tiles when the Warden’s door opened. An elbow started Joker awake and they stood up. The Warden gestured them over to the door. “This facility is on lockdown. Half the day shift guards didn’t show up for work. Trey you’re going to help all you can up here.” With a stern look the man tapped Joker on the chest “You are going to take books around to each Pod to keep the men busy.” Looking at both men the Warden said “You both look guilty so you must have been up to something.” Before Joker could protest he continued “I don’t have time for anything else and neither do you so get busy”.

Both convicts answered “Yes sir” as the 50 something man with the gray buzz cut hair returned to his ringing telephone.

Giving Trey a “We got away with it smile” Joker sauntered out the door. Trey turned to Mimi and asked what needed done. Pointing to the empty desks she said “They don’t really do anything and there are no transfers in or out today so just answer the telephones. Here are the standard spokesman’s comments. Anything not covered take a number for a call back.” After she entered the Warden’s door Trey had the office to himself. He put his feet up on the desk leaning back in the chair to read the packet given to him. None of the disasters or situations applied to the current situation but he read them all anyway. Escapes were at the top of the list followed by riots, floods, tornadoes, storms and power outages

None of the phones rang so on a whim he called Roy at work. “Roy McFaren, how may I help you?”

“You can get your butt home and take care of your family.”

“Trey?”

“Duh. Look bro, I’m in the Warden’s outside office to answer phones. Half the day shift didn’t show up for work today and the joint is locked down.”

“Janice and the girls are home. We stocked up at the store last night.”

“That’s good, but you should be there too. Do you have any idea how long it will take you to get home if things get worse?”

“Nothing is happening so far. The traffic was real light coming into town and a lot of offices are empty today little brother.”

“That should tell you something. People are getting very nervous.”

“If something happens I’ll stay home.”

“Please explain to me about how I’m more worried about your family than you are? Hang up your phone and go home. If you really must, call that jerk you work for and tell him you’re leaving for the day.”

“Do you really think things are that bad?” Roy laughed.

“The hair on the back of my neck has been standing up since yesterday. I think you are a knucklehead for being at work today”.

Roy thought for a moment. Trey was always better at reading a situation than Roy was. The brothers had avoided a few problems when Trey got one of his feelings. Trey would tell him to slow the car down and two minutes later they would see a speed trap. They had stopped at a store to grab a six pack when Trey stopped at the door and refused to enter convincing Roy to go somewhere else. That night on the news the store had been robbed not long after they had been there. He could never explain how he knew. All he would say was that the hair on the back of his neck stood up. Roy thought the kid should have known not to go into that last bank.

“ In honor of your hair standing at attention I’ll leave as soon as I call the boss.”

“Seriously bro, I have a bad feeling about things. I don’t know what you bought yesterday but if I was you I’d go back to the store today anyway. Then you stay home. Close the gate and nothing will bother you once you seal the compound. Watch yourself on the drive home because the scum will be smelling an opportunity.”

“You bet.”

Roy hung up thinking he should have listened to Janice this morning and stayed home today. His younger brother looked around the quiet office then called his sister in law. “McFaren residence.”

“I just talked my brother the knucklehead into coming home.”

“Trey honey, is that you?”

“Nobody but. How are the girls?”

“I think they felt silly staying home until they texted some of the friends. The school must be almost empty today.”

“I told Roy to go to the store again. Please make sure he gets his handgun out of the safe to take with him. I want you to load the shotgun and put your gun belt on.”

“Honey I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Roy won’t think it’s necessary either but I have a bad feeling about things. That’s the only way you can keep the girls safe. Keep an eye on the Monster; he’ll let you know if something is up.”

“I don’t want to scare the girls, what do I tell them?”

“Just say that crazy Uncle Trey said to do it.”

“I do it if it’ll make you happy.”

“Indeed it will Sis. I have to go. Take care.”

The Monster was a Rhodesian Ridgeback with the unlikely name of Bop who loved his family and was watchful around strangers. Woe to whoever sought to do harm to the family. The only problem was that his alarm was the same whether it was a Raccoon on the porch or an ax murderer looking in a window. To Trey nothing was scarier than a woman with a shotgun protecting her children. The dog was a close second. The phones began to ring occasionally and mostly it was about visiting hours. Trey sadly told the callers that until further notice there would be no visits. He knew how much the family visits meant to the convicts. The media reporters were held off by telling them the Warden had meetings scheduled for most of the day. The calls meant the reporters were unable to reach anyone higher up the political food chain.

During a lull Trey dialed the library with a smile on his face. A harried Joker answered the phone. “This here is the Warden. I need all the books you have on the African Tsetse Fly brought to my office immediately.” With a curt “Bite me” from the Joker the library phone was hung up. Trey couldn’t help laughing. The rest of the morning every time he thought of the call he would laugh. He couldn’t wait to talk to Joker again. Trey was sent to the kitchen to pick up lunches for the office. On the way back he stopped at the library and tossed a lunch bag at Joker who dropped a couple books catching the bag. Before the little man could say anything Trey was on his way back out the door saying ”I don’t know what you did but the Warden is pissed off at you!”.

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Last edited by Groucho on Tue May 06, 2014 6:48 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Yea :clap: aaa! Fresh meat. I mean new story. :clap:

Thanks


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Great start , looking for more , Please hurry :clap:


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airdrop wrote:
Great start , looking for more , Please hurry :clap:



This.

Great start...and already so many threads to follow in this story!

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I like the character development. Looking forward to the next installment.

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airdrop wrote:
Great start , looking for more , Please hurry :clap:

Couldn't have said it better!

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This is a really nice start. Not your average set of protagonists either. I'm interested in where this goes.


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Very good! Nice pace, easy to read, I like it!
Please continue for another 3-4 years...
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Have you been following me around for the last decade??

I just have one question for you. Mineo's or Aiello's?

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Thanks for the encouraging replies.

Murphman since I only go into Pittsburgh when absolutely necessary the answer is neither. I'll further bare my soul by admitting I've never been to Primanti Brothers either. I'm a country boy who always gets lost in the Burgh. :awesome:

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Enough jibber-jabber... :lol:

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And So It Begins


The afternoon news was not good. Most of the Hospital spokesmen on the television were asking the public not to bring their loved ones to the facilities. Resources had been pressed to the breaking point and new patients couldn’t be admitted. The Pennsylvania governor announced a freeze on all food and fuel prices. The National Guard was being called up to maintain order. All Pennsylvania schools and state offices would be closed until further notice. A dusk to dawn curfew starts today. All debts were suspended until further notice. At the end of the news conference Trey felt a chill go down his back. He wondered what was going on behind the scenes for such drastic action. Events must be more severe than what was being reported.

He was sent for supper and stopped by the library on the way back but it was locked up. The evening staff had been calling off since mid afternoon. The Warden didn’t have time so Trey took down names and gave the Warden an update every half hour. Some of the guards had already been on duty for sixteen hours. Trey wondered if the National Guard would show up to man the prison. If they didn’t have the staff the convicts couldn’t be transferred. They could be abandoned, released or shot. That was not exactly a reassuring thought.

Trey used Mimi’s computer to access the internet. The forums were up in arms. Online badasses were ready pop the covers off their Pmags and do some magazine dumps if there was trouble with anyone. The level headed members were conspicuous by their absence. The first time posters were asking for advice on guns, ammo, food, water, bugging out, bugging in, gasoline and how to prevent infection from others. The desperate were attempting to buy weapons from anyone with “extras” in their areas.

Some idiots were claiming UFO’s had landed. One guy down in Louisiana was claiming Bigfoot was in his backyard right now. The frightening posts were about people in the street who seeing movement or hearing noise would approach and bang on doors or windows. One person whose father had been in a coma had awakened without speaking but was wild eyed and aggressive. They had been forced to lock him in the bedroom and he was constantly pounding on the door.

The television showed news crews were driving around Pittsburgh filming the deserted streets and parking lots right at dusk. Most of the homes and apartments had blinds drawn but some were fully lit. The streets were deserted except for an occasional figure that would follow the news van as it drove past. One intrepid newsman stopped his van next to a corner where three people had gathered. The trio was soon pounding on the vehicle windows trying to gain entrance. The van would advance a few feet but upon stopping the figures were right back pounding away. Other crews were hailed from houses asking what to do with relatives who had died without coming out of their coma. Others with the flu had slipped into comas. Scattered gunfire could be heard through the open windows as the reporters chatted with homeowners. The telephone lines were overwhelmed and all anyone could get was a busy signal.

Very few national guardsmen had responded to the calls to report for duty. Weekend warriors who had shown up at the armories were stationed at various hospitals. Anyone approaching the buildings that failed to obey verbal orders were being shot. One newscast recorded guardsmen being overwhelmed and officers ordering shots aimed at the head. At the end screams and gunshots were heard within the hospital building itself where police were stationed. Streamers at the top and bottom of the screen urged people to stay in their homes or where ever they were behind locked doors and windows. A camera crew on Mount Washington had an excellent view of the sirens and flashing lights of police cars moving about the city across the river to the accompaniment of gunfire.

The national news reports were different only in the locations. New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles were all the same. As the night went on the police would fire from within their cars and depart before the crowds surrounded their vehicles. Most attempts to barricade streets or bridges were overrun. Not one report was from anywhere outside of the cities. Trey took it upon himself to begin calling the gate and guard posts in the name of the warden for reports of movement outside the walls. The reports were all negative so far. He began to make a series of lists to speak with the warden about. He was released back to his Pod at eight o’clock.

An officer he didn’t know was waiting to unlock the door and then his cell door. He had to smile at the fact he was definitely behind locked doors and windows. Everyone in the Pod was yelling questions at him. Trey struck a pose with his hands held up for quiet. “I only know what was on the television”. He held up his hands again waiting for quiet to return. “The prison seems to be short of staff so we are on lockdown. How many here are veterans?” Seven men called out answers. “I plan to talk to the warden tomorrow about a plan to involve veterans in the running of this facility.” The cellblock rang with yells from the men in the cells. Trey turned to Joker and asked “And how was your day buddy?”

“Those idiots ran my ass off today. They get pissed because I don’t have Hustler. Where do I get Hustler from? Some of those guys wanted to kill me just because I wasn’t in my cell like them.”

“Well, maybe tomorrow they’ll give you a uniform and a baton” Trey teased the smaller man.

“Gee thanks” he said grinning madly.

“I need some sleep. I think tomorrow will really be tough Joker.”

“Yeah?”

“Take a notebook with you. Ask everyone if they are a Vet”.

Both men were soon snoring. They didn’t notice the lights stayed on all night. The pair awoke to everyone griping about being hungry. They dressed and sat on the bottom bunk waiting for something to happen. The television was on a loop broadcasting last night’s information. Shortly before noon a guard that hadn’t shaved for a couple days came for Joker and Trey. Joker was dropped off at the library for his trips to the pods. Trey was delivered to the Warden’s office. The outside office was empty so he sat at Mimi’s computer after putting coffee on. Surprisingly the system was logged on and let him do a search for convicts who were veterans. The list of names that scrolled out on the screen was out of date. He knew at least two convicts on the list who had been released since he had started his sentence.


Shopping

Roy pulled in the driveway making the drive from work in a record 53 minutes. The monster ran off the porch to greet him while Janice stood nervously on the porch with the shotgun. Roy knew the big dog wouldn’t settle down if he didn’t get some attention. The older McFaren grabbed the red dog by the head and they exchanged growls and rough housed for a couple moments. He walked up the porch steps accompanied by the satisfied dog. He awkwardly hugged and kissed his wife due to the pistol belt and shotgun. Roy smiled at Janice saying “We have to practice more while we’re armed. Imagine if I had my gear on”.

With a nervous smile back “Trey called and said he talked with you. He told me to get the guns out of the safe. Once I started loading them I got scared. He said to make sure you got your guns out too”.

“Did he tell you we should go shopping also” Roy asked?

“Nope, do you think we should”?

“We didn’t get the Monster anything to eat yesterday. I was thinking of taking both cars and load one with dog food. One of the girls could ride with each of us”.

“Do you think it’s safe to go? I’m worried about taking the girls out”.

“I learned to respect Trey’s hunches and I’d be more worried about leaving you here alone. If we’re together my love we’ll have two guns to handle any trouble that shows up and we won’t worry about each other”.

Ten minutes later both vehicles pulled out of the driveway leaving a forlorn dog who loved riding in the car to watch the house. The roads were clear so the trip only took twenty minutes. A half a dozen cars were parked in the lot in front of the store. The shotgun was left on the floor of the Jeep covered with a blanket. Nobody seemed to notice the holstered handgun at first. When the other shoppers did notice they were confused by the nice looking couple with two girls packing guns. Roy filled two carts with as much dog food as the carts would carry and awkwardly steered them to the checkout. He worked out regularly so loading the fifty pound bags into the jeep didn’t take long. Back inside still guiding two carts he caught up with his girls.

The shelves were not as full as the day before. Janice handed items to the girls to place in the cart. Roy was filling his own carts mostly with canned goods while Janice was getting salt, pepper, sugar, spices and such. The three females started to check out and Roy grabbed another cart and jogged to the health section. He began taking bandages, tape, aspirin, cold meds and anything else that might be of use. Ignoring the looks from other shoppers and the staff they paid for the record amount of groceries and pushed the carts out to the vehicles. The haul was mostly loaded when Janice nudged him.

Roy looked around and saw a peculiar looking man approaching them. He ordered the others into the vehicles while yelling at the man to stay back. The figure approached closer as Roy backed away. When he reached the front of the Jeep he ran around back and tossed supplies inside until his pursuer caught up. The second time the pair circled the car he finished loading, slammed the hatch and jumped into the driver’s seat. Roy motioned Janice to go as he started the car and the man pounded on the driver’s window. He caught up to the Jeep at the stop sign. They made the right turn that would take them home.

“Well that was weird” Roy thought on the drive home. After pulling in the driveway he told the others to stay in the vehicles. Roy let the monster outside and then closed the gate Trey had installed. It was tasteful metalwork and would hold off a bull elephant. After the monster declared the area safe the unloading started. The dog stayed near his two charges to the point of getting in their way but the two girls were used to his guarding them. He backed the jeep up to the garage and off loaded the dog food into a corner out of the way. From the opposite corner he retrieved the metal bars that would fit the brackets on the gate and significantly reinforce it. After another trip to the garage he popped the caps off the pipes buried in the driveway installing the four vertical reinforcements. No one would successfully ram the gate.

After the girls were in bed their parents talked about the event in the parking lot. It was freaky but not really scary. None of their party had really been in danger. His daughters had laughed at their father running around the car figuring it was a homeless man chasing him. But what if there had been more than one. Roy and Janice went to the basement and began loading rifle magazines.

On the job

Ann was half scared and half furious by the time Ellen dropped her off at the coroner’s office. The first office assistant that sarcastically mentioned her professional appearance was icily told she could dress however she wanted while on vacation. The actual medical folks were a friendlier and more sympathetic than the office dweebs had been. Ann was given a lab coat and even loaned a parka which was more appropriate than the leather jacket she was wearing. She sampled the remains already in the coolers before going on calls with the meat wagon.

The crew made stops at several hospitals and eventually private residences as well. Ann labeled her samples and made out her reports in triplicate between actual stops. The entire city seemed tense. By late afternoon a police officer had been assigned to follow the coroner’s personnel with his squad car. Although she had handled things well up to now the thought of working after dark gave Ann a case of the chills. Word was passed to her to start taking tissue samples from the coma patients as well as the cadavers. Each time they returned to the office her samples were boxed and taken to the airport by courier to be rushed to the CDC.

Several hours after dark Officer Michaels drove her home assuring the tired young woman someone would call for her in the morning. As Ann reached for the door the officer stopped her. She could see the man was deep in thought. Tricky Dick Michaels was known to his fellow officers to be a gun guy. He almost always had the best scores when they had to qualify. He was always dragging officers on his shift out to the range to practice on their days off. A bit of a paranoid, his shift bag had extra handgun and shotgun ammo as well as magazines. Arriving at a decision he removed his backup gun in its ankle holster before presenting it to Ann. “You better take this. I have a bad feeling about the way things are going”.

“Oh, I couldn’t” she said meaning she didn’t want it.

Tricky Dick spent five minutes showing her how the weapon operated then had her show him she could perform all the functions he had demonstrated.

As she exited the car he reminded her “You only have eight shots. When you put the second magazine in you only have seven. It’s a nine millimeter if you have to get more ammunition. If you have to shoot do it carefully each time. This isn’t a movie where you can just blast away”.

“Thank you. I appreciate your concern for my safety” she said gravely. Closing the door the Policeman drove off. She had to smile, thinking it wasn’t flowers but it had been a long time since man gave her a present.

Ellen met her at the door crying. “Ela, what’s wrong”?

“A weird old man bit Steve today. The hospital wouldn’t see him since it’s not life threatening. He had a fever when he got home and went to bed. Now I can’t get him to wake up.”

“Where are the kids”?

“They’re taking a nap. The school sent them home early” she said with a shaking voice.

Ann hugged her little sister. “Let’s go upstairs and take a look at him”


Helpful Suggestions


Trey heard movement behind the Warden Pitman’s door. With a full cup in his hand he rapped on the door. “So this what being a general’s aide feels like” he thought. A voice on the other side called “come in”. The bank robber opened the door, crossed the room, and handed the coffee to the man folding the blankets he had slept on the couch with. “Good morning sir. If you have the time I would like to talk with you”. The older silver haired man drank the coffee looking at Trey over the rim of the cup. “What about?”

“The lack of staff and its consequences.”

“Go ahead and talk”.

“The men on duty have had no relief. They are sleeping at their posts. If you check with the gate I would bet several have left during the night. “

Keeping his eyes on Trey, Mr. Pitman called the gate. “How many staff left since yesterday? I see”.

Hanging up the telephone the Warden motioned for Trey to continue. “At roughly one quarter of normal staffing you can keep the men in their cages and feed them. Laundry won’t be cleaned and the men won’t get showers. Maintenance for heat will be a priority if the men are not to freeze. If the National Guard has been requested a state penitentiary will be a very low priority after the scenes shown on the new casts. The staff you have remaining have no family or none close by so they are old timers or young kids with no place to go to. I have several suggestions”.

“You have non-violent offenders here sir. Most of the thieves, theDUI’s, and dopers in for possession could be used for staff jobs. A number of these men are veterans. Regular staff could be used for dealing with the killers and psychos. This is only a short term solution. Most of these convicts have families and will want to get to them with all the craziness going on. In a day or two things will get worse and then you might consider just releasing them. This will extend your food supply and regular staff can still take care of the problem cases.

People will be leaving the cities today driving anywhere they think is safe. Vehicles will run out of gas or break down. The creatures we’ve seen on the news reports will begin showing up in our area either following the cars or the people fleeing may be infected. There will be no food supply deliveries here. You will have to look to local supplies. Something will need to be done with the killers and crazies. You won’t be able to afford to warehouse them. Civilians that arrive looking for safety will require food and shelter”.

“I see you have put a lot of thought into this situation Mr. McFaren. Do you have anything else to add”?

“Yes sir. If you have the ammunition you could execute every convict here.”

“That’s a bit extreme”.

“Yes, sir, but it is an option”.

“True, but I’m sure it won’t come to that.”

The grinning bank robber replied “I certainly hope not”.


Trey spent the remainder of the day on the computer. Evidently Mimi was a no show today. The Warden’s door was left open and occasionally he had to retrieve files or coffee for the man. The telephone only rang a couple of times. His trip for the dinner meals included stopping at the library with food for Joker. The two convicts sat and talked about the veterans list while they ate. Trey arrived back at the office in time to do nothing. He began going over the vet information. Out of almost four hundred prisoners he had twenty eight veterans counting himself.

Six vets had less than a year to serve on their sentence. Seventy six other convicts had less than a year to go on their sentences. Most of the occupants of the Thieves Den were classed as non-violent. The drunk drivers, dopers and scam artists were in the non-violent group also. The stalkers, killers and psychos were in two pods totaling ninety seven men. Of those roughly twenty five were probably one time offenders and could be released. These men had caused accidental deaths in one form or another. The total was eighty three men who couldn’t be let out of whom only three were vets. That left Trey with nineteen vets. The killers, crazies and the assault and battery guys were to be left in their cages. The simply weren’t safe to have around. Trey wondered how much ammo the Warden had available.

It was well after dark by the time his cross-referenced lists were prepared and left sitting on Warden Pitman’s desk. One of the guards accompanied a convict to the office carrying dinner in bags. Trey spent some time on the forums again. Almost no regulars were online and the majority were totally panicked newbie’s. It was too late to help the new people. What advice do you give an unarmed person with no food or water? Say your prayers and hope you have the luck! Trey grinned realizing that he fit that exact description. The outside telephone lines were busy so he called the library again. The phone rang for five minutes before his cell mate answered. “Dude, the Warden is still waiting on the Testse Fly books”.

“Man, why do you do this to me?”

“It’s for always making us have to do the breakfast count”.

“I tell you I didn’t do anything”.

Trey chuckled “Yep, me neither” before hanging up the phone.

It was after ten o’clock before the Warden called him in the office. The man stared at him for a minute before tossing him a key. “That’s a spare guard key. I don’t have the people to escort you so I want your word you won’t try to escape”.

“Cross my heart boss”.

“Alright then, be back here tomorrow morning”.

A Little Trust

After nodding the bank robber walked down to the library. He slipped inside sneaking up on Joker. “Hey buddy” he said conversationally. Joker yelped as he spun around. “Don’t do that. Are you trying to give me a heart attack”?

“I didn’t do anything” Trey said smiling. “Get your walker grandpa and let’s get back to the pod”.

“Where’s the guard”?

Trey smiled at his cell mate and dangled the key in front of his eyes. “Magic”.

Joker laughed as they locked up. The pair let themselves into the Pod where most of the men were sleeping. Trey flipped all but two of the light switches off leaving just enough light to see their way to the stairs. Bobo was standing at the door to his cell at the top of the stairs. “Well if it isn’t Mr. McFaren and Mr. Kracken”.

Joker leaned toward the big man and sniffed loudly. “I think these guys need a shower”.

“Do you think we can trust them”?

The little man replied “I don’t know, he’s awful shifty eyed”.

Before Trey had the door unlocked Bobo and his cell mate Jax had their shower gear. After unlocking the cell door he handed Bobo the key. “I had to give my word for that key so make sure you hang onto it. If you want you can let the guys out eight at a time for showers. Keep the noise down since we don’t want any of the guards in here.”

Bobo nodded with a satisfied look on his face. Trey wanted a shower but he was just too tired. Joker agreed and they were snoring before water was flowing from any of the showers. The sun pouring through the high windows the next morning woke them up. On their way to the shower the pair noticed all the cell doors were unlocked. Bobo was sitting at a table reading a magazine . “Care to take some guys and get breakfast” Trey asked his card buddy?

“Sounds like a plan” the big man responded.

By the time Joker and Trey had cleaned up the crew was back with what passed for breakfast. Everyone was thrilled to be out of their cells and were talking. After eating Trey stood on his bench and announced “It’s the same routine as usual. Clean up then do whatever you want. I’ll be back at noon”. Locking the door behind them Joker and Trey went to work towing Jax behind to give Joker a hand.

After a stop at the library Trey let himself into the office which was still empty. The Warden looked out his doorway and motioned the Bank Robber inside. “The phones are useless, still nothing but a busy signal. I was reading some Face Book posts which confirm that some people are leaving the cities. The news web sites say that people are fleeing the cities”.

The Warden looked as though he had aged overnight. Sleepless nights will do that Trey thought. “Your file says you were an Army officer. You were Airborne qualified. Why didn’t you go to Ranger school”?

“Well, there was a war going on. I figured I’d be more use over there than getting my butt kicked at yet another school”.

“Did you see any combat”?

“More than a little”.

With a look of determination the Warden said “Trey I have a job for you. I want you to take a look at the interstate. I-79 is right over east of here. Here are the keys to my Ford. The tank is full. You can take one man with you. I’ll call the gate and let them know. Here’s a letter in case you get stopped by anyone”.

Trey thought for a moment “I’ll take Joker with me. We’ll leave in a half hour or so.”

“Good luck”.

Trey called the library from Mimi’s desk. “You’re still there”?

“No you’re talking to somebody else. Jax and I were just leaving with the book cart”.

“Don’t leave yet. I’ll be right down” then hung up the phone.

Five minutes later he walked into the library smiling. “Feel like taking a ride Joker”?

“Ride to where” the little man asked with a mad grin on his face?

“The man wants us to see what’s happening out on the interstate”.

“Gee, I don’t know, go for a ride or sit here in prison. That’s a tough choice” Joker said sarcastically.

“Jax do you think you could handle Joker’s job while he’s gone”?”

“Sure, a trained ape could do it”.

“Hang loose here and we’ll send someone to help you”.

Trey crooked a finger at Joker and walked out the door. The pair opened the door to the Pod and walked inside looking for Bobo. The big man was playing cards at his usual table. “What’s up”?

Trey explained that he needed Joker for an outside job and Scotty should go help Jax until they got back. “I need you to let us out the doors. You’ll get a call when we come back and you can let us back in” Trey explained extending his door key. Five minutes later the four convicts exited the Pod. Joker was explaining to Scotty that this was a highly technical job and not just anyone was qualified to do it. Scotty rolled his eyes while the two men in front smiled at the conversation. Scotty was dropped off at the library to help Jax. Bobo opened the door by the back stairs to the Warden’s office and locked it behind the two adventurers. Mr. Pitman’s Explorer was parked just outside the door.

“Don’t they make these things in any color but green” Joker asked?

Trey opened the hood to check the fluids and belts. Seeing no problems he was wiping his hands off when he looked at Joker “I really don’t recall seeing an Explorer that wasn’t green. If we pass a dealership we should stop and take a look”. They walked around the vehicle looking for problems and kicking the tires while the engine warmed up. The sun was strong and the small amount of snow had turned to liquid on the roof even though the temperature was low.

Both men had their collars turned up against the chill as they slid inside. Trey was a firm believer in seatbelts and even if he wasn’t the newer cars would bing at you until you belted up. The four wheel drive backed out of the Warden’s space crunching the ice from yesterday’s snow melt. Trey slipped the transmission into drive and started down the narrow lane. Arriving at the gate the guard stared at them like he didn’t believe what he was seeing. “I have a letter from Mr. Pitman if you want to see it” he asked the guard.

“No, he called down. I just can’t believe he’s letting you convicts drive around out there”.

With an innocent look on his face Joker told the Guard “We’ll stay here and watch the gate while you go out. It’s a sweet trade. This is the Warden’s ride and the tank is full”.

The old guard ignored Joker and waved to the man up in the box before walking back into his shack. The gate began sliding to the left. Trey pulled forward and the gate closed behind him. The gate to their front began to open while Joker looked for a good radio station. The stations the Warden had programmed were nothing but static. The green explorer started down the road as the second gate closed behind them. The roads were clear but the grass was covered by several inches of snow. The radio picked up a station with a news broadcast which sounded like old news.

The fields around the prison gave way to occasional houses. Some houses had cars parked outside and others had empty driveways. The curtains moved on a few houses like someone had been watching them but let the curtain fall as the Explorer rolled closer. Droopy half melted snowmen lent the homes an abandoned air. No smoke was coming from the chimneys they could see. Trey drove east until he saw the signs for Route 19 then turned north where it would join I-79. The two were parallel roads north and south from Erie up north on the Lake south through Pittsburgh down to the West Virginia border. His parent’s house was only sixty miles away so he knew the area.

“Apes can’t read” joker spoke up. “An ape couldn’t do my job because they couldn’t be trained to read”. Trey nodded. “You don’t think and ape could do my job do you Trey”?

“Of course not Joker. I’ve seen the books you read and I don’t think I would understand much in them”.

Joker seemed happier after their exchange. The news station was on a loop and began repeating after ten minutes. The information was the same stuff that had been put out two days ago. He was searching for a station when Trey said “try 102, they play some good rock”. The familiar voice of the DJ came out of the speakers. ”Friends I’ve been on the air for ten hours and my relief is long overdue. My pals Smith and Wesson will insure that we stay on the air. In honor of the current situation I will be broadcasting commercial free for the foreseeable future. It’s the top of the hour and I’ll be taking the fifth call. Hello”?

“Hey man, you’re playing some killer music this morning. I have an empty cop car sitting outside my place. It’s been sitting there all night with the light bar flashing”.

“Thanks for calling. Stay inside and stay safe. I had a little trouble getting here myself last night. Maybe our law enforcement officials are out looking for donuts. In their honor our next cut will be Gun Love by ZZ Top”.

Trey laughed “He’s probably sitting at the station all by himself and is wishing the cops would come and arrest him. Not to mention the owner is having a heart attack from not advertising to a captive audience”. Joker called out ”Car wreck”. Trey braked to a stop and then backed up slowly. The wreck was a block up a side road at an intersection. Trey turned the car into the road and crept up to the other two cars. They sat for a couple minutes before Trey opened the door and got out leaving the car running. Joker got out looking around for movement. Trey walked around the two cars looking in the windows at the empty seats. He slapped the trunk saying “What we need is a master thief to open up these here trunks”.

Joker started waving his hand frantically “Pick me, pick me”!

Trey grinned while Joker approached digging in a pocket and extracting a small bundle. “I put together a kit for just such an occasion” imitating Foghorn Leghorn.

Trey went through the first trunk while Joker worked on the second. Trey immediately felt better holding the tire iron from under the spare tire. The second trunk had a baseball bat and some clothing. The hat, gloves and coat fit Joker pretty well but there wasn’t anything for Trey. The cars weren’t really damaged so why were they sitting here empty? The Explorer backed carefully onto Route 19 even though they hadn’t seen another car on the road since they left the prison. Six miles further on was the junction with I-79. Trey stopped the SUV at the top of the onramp heading south. The pair stood outside looking and listening without seeing or hearing anything but the slight wind as the snow started falling.

The Explorer moved slowly southward down the four lanes. The land was flatter here close to the Ohio border than to the east but still had some rolling hills. The pair was approaching the top of a low rise when a long string of vehicles crested the top heading north. Trey slid to a stop and began blowing the horn. Joker was outside yelling while jumping up and down waving his arms. The passengers in the northbound lane looked but made no motions. None of the cars or trucks slowed as they passed the stopped Explorer. The green SUV resumed its drive south in the thickening wet snow. Looking behind them Trey could make out slight wheel tracks on the road in the snow.

The next long stretch of highway had several cars pulled to the side of the road. The pair slowed but the vehicles were empty. Before they picked up speed again two vehicles approached on the opposite side of the road. Both men jumped out of the explorer waving and the others slowed to a stop. Trey and Joker walked toward the other travelers asking about conditions to the south in a loud voice. They stopped when a shotgun barrel was stuck out the window of a jacked up truck. Five guys got out of the following small Toyota like clowns at a circus.

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 Post subject: Re: Doing Time
PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:46 pm 
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Great entry!

Keep 'em comin'!

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... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Doing Time
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Great update!

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Trey’s Friends


Roy hadn’t slept well with so many things running through his mind. Once it was light out he peeked though one barely raised eye lid to see the dog staring at him waiting for some sign that the human would let him outside soon. Spying the movement the animal’s tail thumped on the plush carpeting. The bedside telephone began ringing. Roy answered before the second ring hoping to keep it from waking his wife. “Hello”?

“Morning Mr. McFaren. This is Max Dean, I work for your brother. Sorry to call so early but things are getting squirrely out here.

The caller paused so Roy replied “Good morning to you also Mr. Dean”.

“The reason I’m calling is that before Trey went away he told us if anything bad happened we could come up to his house”.

“Us”?

“Well, yeah, his work crew”.

Roy rubbed his eyes trying to get his brain working. “I know you guys worked with him on the weekends but I didn’t realize you were that close to him”.

Max spoke louder as the phone connection made a few pops and started hissing. “It’s Trey’s business and he works with us when he has the time. I run the day to day stuff”.

“So it’s a full time business”?

“Yep, so I guess he never told you”.

“No, he just said it was something he did on the side”.

“We all served in his company in over there”.

“That son of a bitch” Roy shouted waking up Janice. “He swore he never left the states and had a nice safe office job”.

Max couldn’t help but laugh at one more person bamboozled by the LT for their own good.

“I can meet you there to let you in if you know about what time you’ll arrive” Roy said calming down.

“No need, Trey left us a couple keys to get in with”.

“That figures. Let me know if you need anything”.

“I’ll do that. We should be up there by this afternoon”.

The two men said their goodbyes before Roy started to explain to his wife Trey’s latest secrets.


Sorrow at home


Ann finished examining Steve confirming that her brother in law was indeed in a coma. Ellen did not take this news well. She knew from her experiences that day there was nothing to be done for Steve. Taking the skeleton key from her sister she locked the door before taking Ellen downstairs to the kitchen. Since neither woman had eaten, Ann explained Steve’s condition, along with a lot of others, baffled the medical profession, while she made them both supper. After eating Ann insisted that her sister lay down with her children for awhile.

Alone downstairs in the big old house the older sister retrieved the little handgun from her purse. The ankle holster wouldn’t fit under her jeans like Officer Michaels was wearing it. Leaving the holster and spare magazine in her purse she wedged the little gun into the back pocket of her jeans. Sitting on the couch she puzzled over what to do tomorrow. She absolutely couldn’t leave her sister alone with the children while Steve was sick. She knew Ela wouldn’t be able to bear keeping Steve locked up if she was on her own. The CDC would have to do without her services. Surely they had more than enough samples from this city to compare with others from around the country. Turning out the lights she curled up on the couch and was soon asleep.

A sound was slowly drawing her out of her deep sleep. Ann took several moments to remember where she was once she was awake. Glancing at her watch it was five hours since she had fallen asleep. The sound that had awakened her was a thudding noise coming from the upper floor of the house. The streetlights coming through the window provided enough light to creep up the hundred year old staircase. Walking softly past the children’s room she stopped at the door to her sister’s bedroom.

Ann whispered “Steve” several times with no response except the continuous pounding on the door. She repeated Steve’s name increasing the volume of her voice with each repetition. Not even knocking from her side of the door changed his behavior. Briefly touching the firearm in her back pocket she retrieved the door’s key from a front pocket and inserted it into the lock. Turning the key she sprang back away from the door. For the ten minutes Ann watched the door knob had not turned and the pounding continued.

Approaching the door again the CDC’s agent turned the door handle and taking a deep breath shoved the door open with all her might. The weight against the door gave way and the solid oak door banged against the doorstop. Snapping the light switch on Ann could see Steve who had been propelled by her shove back onto the king sized bed. She could see now that this thing was no longer Steve. The gray complexion was repulsive while the widely dilated eyes appeared a solid black that had an almost hypnotic effect on her. The creature struggled and at last managed to stand before advancing toward her. Saying “Steve” one last time she saw no recognition in his eyes and slammed the door shut just before he reached her.

Locking the door once again Ann retreated down the stairs. Her hands were firmly jammed into her pockets in an attempt to stop the shaking. The thought echoing in her head was how would she tell her sister? After pacing awhile the woman made a pot of coffee and resumed pacing until it was done. Filling a cup she sat on the couch staring at the streetlight through the window of the front door in a futile effort to make sense of the last two days. Ann turned on the television trying to drown out the noise from the bedroom. The same news was on all the channels and repeated every ten minutes the same information that had been broadcast all day.

Ann stared at the screen as the untested coffee in her cup turned cold. The pounding from the bedroom grew louder and she thought to herself that the thing was becoming more animated. Feeling her obligation as a field agent to observe and report she reluctantly mounted the stairs again. Ann leaned against the door and cried from the pain of a broken heart as four small hands pounded on the other side of the children’s bedroom door.


Unlikely End

Richard “Tricky Dick” Michaels could see remains of his partner lying on the side walk under a street light from his squad car. He had agreed to work a second shift with Denny Morehead since not all the officers had shown up. After roll call the lieutenant told the men not to be afraid to shoot. “These people out there are all messed up. Watch out for yourselves”. Their first call was a suspicious man on a porch. By the time the pair were exiting their unit the man was on the sidewalk walking towards them. The streetlights began turning on as dusk had arrived.

“Stop right there sir” Dick called out. He pulled the teargas canister from its place on his belt when the suspect continued to move. Following his training he noticed the wind was dead still before delivering several blasts to the face with no effect other than stopping the man for a moment. Backing away Dick and Denny both drew their batons. After yelling “Get on the ground” Dick hit one of the reaching arms with the baton while Denny struck from behind. Several blows staggered the individual but didn’t stop his advance. “Get back man, I’m shooting this asshole” Dick told his partner.

“Are you sure you want to do that”?

“You heard what the LT said didn’t you”?

“Well, yeah”.

Tricky Dick drew his trusted .40 caliber handgun and fired three shots centered in the chest with no effect on the target. “What do we do now” Denny asked beginning to sound panicky?

A shot to the head dropped the man onto his back in the gutter. “This”.

After a moment Denny called in “Shots fired, suspect down”.

The radio crackled “Return to patrol”.

The calls picked up and the two officers responding would give one order to stop before firing. Denny had to let the things get real close or he would miss. As the evening progressed more of the things were at each call. Dick couldn’t believe they had emptied their magazines plus used up an entire box of cartridges. They go fast when you have to share. “Last box Denny. Don’t miss”.

“I’ll use the shotgun. You shoot better than I do”.

“Load your mags anyway. Stay close and pass me your mags if I need them”.

The last radio call was a family trapped in their car. There was no ammo left for the shotgun. Denny had three rounds in his weapon and Dick had one full magazine. Arriving at the scene the patrol car was used to try to batter their way through the bodies to the surrounded family. The police were soon surrounded when they slowed and barely managed to back away. Standing by the front bumper Dick began to slow fire dropping members of the approaching crowd. The family sedan finally drove away up the street.

Down to only a few rounds Dick called to his partner to get back in the unit. Denny remained frozen on his side of the car. Dick blew the horn but Denny just stood there until touched from behind by a dead straggler. Denny whirled around and backed away toward the approaching crowd. Looking Dick in the eyes he placed the barrel of his pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Despite several tries the squad car couldn’t make any headway against the surrounding crowd from a standstill. The scratch on Dick’s hand didn’t hurt. He didn’t even recall getting it. The numbness had started in his fingers and crept up his arm. When it reached his elbow he knew what he’d do with his last bullet.

After the fox

Trey and Joker stood by the northbound lanes as the Warden’s Explorer was driven north without them. Joker started laughing and Trey couldn’t help joining in. Slapping Joker on the shoulder and still chuckling he began to run up the road toward the cars pulled off on the shoulder. The closest car’s door was locked. Trey turned as Joker arrived “Lets rock this sucker and see if gas sloshes”. With a nod the thief joined the bank robber rocking the car once the gas cap was off. With no luck they ran to the next which was empty also.

The last car in line sounded like it had half a tank at least. The driver’s door was closed but not latched. The light came on when the door opened so the battery was still good. “See if you can start this thing Joker”. The small man pulled his bundle out and set to work. Trading his bat for Trey’s crow bar he cracked the steering column and tinkered inside with the wires. Joker used this and that piece from his kit talking under his breath. At last the little four cylinder fired up.

Joker popped the trunk which contained a little food, a few blankets and one or two tools. Trey wrapped himself in a blanket. Joker opened the back door to toss in the trunk’s contents then stopped. “Trey, come look at this”.

Trey stepped around the car to survey the bloody backseat. “Well, that’s why it was sitting here then”.

“What”?

The bank robber rubbed his chin with the back of his hand looking around. “Somebody was hurt before being put in the back seat. It would appear that he changed into one of those things. It’s probably chasing the driver around somewhere”.

“Are we going back”?

“Not without the Warden’s wheels”.

“And how do we do that”?

“The snow. If we hurry we can follow the tracks in the snow before they’re covered”.

“And what do we do about the shotgun with three to one odds”?

“I’ll go back tonight and sort them out. But first we have to find them”.

The white Celica started north following the car tracks. At each exit Trey got out of the car to check the tracks. The tire marks in the snow were too narrow to be the big truck. The Geneva exit had tracks that looked like the three vehicles they were trying to find. The tracks were filling fast. The trail led north on 285 and once the road entered the forest the trackers stopped for a bend. Trey went ahead to peer down the road past the bend. Nothing was seen on the road but he could hear yelling not far away. Trey returned to the car telling Joker “I think we found them. Wait here while I make sure”. Joker gave Trey a thumbs up.

The Army veteran was chilly without his blanket wrapped around him but it would flap in the breeze and pink was entirely the wrong color for sneaking around unnoticed. Keeping the tire iron under his arm allowed him to shove his hands in his pockets for warmth. He almost laughed out loud thinking about wearing “Air Force gloves” as the first sergeant called the practice. Each branch of service liked to think they were the best he reminded himself. Trey crossed the ditch alongside the road to avoid leaving tracks on the snowy road. The leafless trees were thick enough to prevent seeing what was ahead. Trey could still hear the raised voices. It seems like people don’t think they are having a good time unless they’re being loud. A door slammed and the voices could no longer be heard.

The trees thinned out and glimpses of the tan siding with green shutters could be seen. Trey slowed his movements pausing to look and listen as he moved from tree to tree. The last time he had done anything like this he had been armed and the temperature was over a hundred degrees. No guard was seen and the green Expedition was sitting in the drive along with the jacked up truck. Trey made his way back to the car. The bank robber climbed inside and quickly wrapped the blanket around his shoulders saying “The Expedition is there” as Joker cranked up the heat for him.

The thief made a three point turn on the road and drove back the way they came. At the interstate Trey told Joker “Let’s see what’s up the road”. A half mile after crossing underneath the four lane was a darkened gas station. The building had been there for a long time. There were two gas pumps but no overhead cover to protect customers from the weather. The gas prices were listed on an old Wolfshead Oil sign. The brand of gas was not in evidence anywhere. The pair sat for a moment watching for movement before getting out of the car. Peering through the dirty glass and seeing nothing moving Trey motioned to the door which Joker unlocked in record time. Entering the building Trey noted it was one of those places where you didn’t want to brush your clothes against anything. The place was ingrained with filth from the mechanics stopping work on a car to ring up a customer’s gas.


The little one man station had probably been in someone’s family for a couple generations. Joker flipped the power switch to the pumps while trey looked around. A dirty work coat with hat and gloves was inside the bay. Trying them on he found they were a bit large for him but he wouldn’t be freezing outside anymore. Poking around a bit more he discovered a reel of rubber hose. Cutting several lengths of the hose with a utility knife for use as a siphon hose he met the small man back in the office pocketing the contents of a large jar of jerky on the counter. They helped themselves to several bottles of water and soda from the drink cooler. “The car’s filled” the thief told Trey.

“With gas”?

“Well yeah, with gas, what did you think I’d fill it with? The oil and window washer fluid is full too”.

“Did you check the tires too” Trey asked with a smile?

“No, I figured you’d want to try out your new coat while you were checking them”.

“Geez, I have to do everything” the bank robber said trying to sound hurt.

“Man, don’t do that to me” the small man said grinning helplessly.

“I didn’t do nothing”.

The pair argued as they shut off the pumps and relocked the door. Walking around the little white car Trey kicked the tires before climbing in. Joker spun the tires in the snow getting back onto the road. The snow was piling up and the road surface wasn’t much better on the four lane. There were almost two inches on the road already. They started south at 40 miles per hour and could see from the tracks quite a few cars had passed going north while they were doing the reconnaissance and getting gas. The pair passed several strings of overloaded cars moving north slowly. The traffic wasn’t as heavy as expected from the news reports. Maybe everyone was going east and west to avoid the snowy north Trey thought.

“Do you have anywhere to be Joker”?

“What do you mean”?

“If you want to take off I’ll cover for you”.

“No family if that’s what you mean. Dad left when I was young. Mom died not long after and I grew up in foster homes. I never met any of my relatives. The agency said they couldn’t locate anyone. What about you”?

“My brother lives not far from here in the house we grew up in. Mom and Dad died in a car wreck and Roy finished raising me. I talked to them yesterday and they should be fine. I’ll check on them in the near future”.

They finished their run to the south where I-79 crossed I-80. The east to west four lane was much more crowded than the north to south route was. The amount of traffic helped keep the lanes clear of snow. It was only noon and Trey wanted to wait until dark to get the Warden’s car back. He directed Joker back north before exiting and taking a couple of back roads. It was slow going with close to three inches of snow on the roads now. At Trey’s gesture Joker pulled into a driveway. “Welcome to casa de McFaren”.

“Your house”?

“Yep. Although I seem to have misplaced my keys” he said smiling.

“No problem. Nobody lives here do they”?

“Roy looks after it. He’s been trying to talk me into renting it out or selling it”.

Showing the small man to the side door of the garage Joker nodded approvingly at the high quality locks on the door before extracting lockpicks from his bundle and going to work. Joker made a temping snowball target but Trey decided to forego the pleasure. Two minutes later the door was open and they were inside. Trey led the way past the covered vehicles and up the stairs where Joker had another lock to open. Joker noted the door was steel and would be hard to get through without opening the lock.

Once they were on the upper level Trey led the way to the living room. Standing on a chair Trey used the gas station utility knife to begin making cuts in the drywall. The four by eight sheet of drywall was removed in several large pieces revealing many plastic wrapped packages between the studs. Wiping the plastic free of dust Trey unwrapped the pair of Colt M-16’s. The rifles were joined by a pile of loaded magazines, a Remington shotgun and a pair of M&P handguns.

Joker couldn’t resist saying “From the way you hid these someone might mistake you for a bank robber”.

Trey looked at the thief before replying “I’m not a bank robber I tell you. Just a little eccentric is all. I really worried about getting robbed while I was out”.

“And what will we be doing with all these guns”?

“I’m getting the Warden’s Expedition back”.

“Of course the Warden will be thrilled to see us show up long overdue and armed to the teeth after shooting a half dozen citizens”.

“He’ll understand once we explain”.

Joker had to grin at Trey’s confidence. “Which one’s mine”?

“Can you shoot”?

“Of course I can shoot. Rule number six, you never go to see a fence unarmed.”

“Rifle”?

“No”.

“Shotgun”?

“Maybe”.

“Handgun then”?

“That’s the ticket. Got any Glocks? I really like Glocks”.

“No, sorry. I bought real guns instead”.

“Hey, Glocks are real guns” Joker grumbled.

The pair made two trips down the stairs moving the weapons to the garage. Joker helped Trey uncover a Jeep Cherokee. The next hour was spent taking the SUV off the jack stands and checking it out. While the Jeep warmed up Trey showed Joker how to load and operate the handgun and rifle. The magazines and holsters went on LBE set ups which Trey didn’t want to wear inside the vehicle. Trey grabbed a pair of radios that were setting in their chargers. Looking at his watch Joker figured it would be dark by the time they arrived at the Expedition’s location.

Joker drove the Jeep to get the feel of it and Trey was in the Celica that they would leave parked at the gas station as a backup vehicle. Joker had to slow down so the Celica could keep up plowing through the four inches of new snow. They made better time on the interstate with the Celica using the tracks made by previous traffic. A string of cars was behind them slowly catching up.

When the pair put on their turn signals for the exit the car behind them started blowing its horn. At the stop sign at the bottom of the off ramp Trey went back to see what was going on. His hand was in his pocket holding the S&W when he approached the car. The window was down and a man about Trey’s age was leaning out the window. A woman and three children were leaning toward the window as well to hear what was being said. “Hello, do you know where I can get some gas? The stations we passed have all been closed”.

“Absolutely. A small station is just up the road, you can follow us”.

“Hey, thanks” the family man said with relief.

Trey waved Joker on. The cavalcade all made the left turn following the Jeep. Joker sped ahead and had the station open and the power on by the time the others arrived. The pair started pumping gas for the lined up vehicles while the women and children lined up for the rest room. The man who Trey had spoken to introduced himself as Andy and made Trey feel guilty by repeatedly thanking him. Andy’s wife returned to the vehicle with drinks and candy bars asking who to pay. Trey insisted that there was no charge for food or gas and elaborated with a story about phone calls from the state promising payment at a future date due to the current emergency. He couldn’t promise all stations were participating but since his Uncle was an independent he was responding in a Christian manner to help travelers.

Word was passed down the line and all the drinks and food disappeared quickly. The line for gas seemed to grow as others were attracted to the lighted Wolfs Head sign. The party like atmosphere ceased once the screams started. Trey told the drivers to pump their own gas while he snatched his rifle from the Jeep and ran to catch up with Joker moving toward the rear of the gas line. The last car in line was being assaulted by two people pawing and banging on the windows. Joker had his pistol out and was yelling orders at the two. Trey arrived in time for the pair to turn their attention to the two men on foot. The vehicle occupants were screaming and yelling as Trey and Joker retreated into the field away from those waiting for gas pursed by the attackers.

“Don’t shoot” Trey kept telling Joker.

“Why not” the freaked out smaller man asked?

“You’ll hit the cars if you miss”.

“What are we going to do, back all the way to Lake Erie and hope they drown”?

“We’ll back in a circle until we have a clear background and then shoot them in the head”.

“Why shoot them in the head”?

“That’s what they do in the movies”.

A hundred yards from the gas line they backed toward the station building until the background was clear. Trey fired once and the thing dropped heavily to the ground. Joker shot several times to the chest with no result before firing a shot to the second thing’s head which collapsed like the first. Several drivers panicked and left the line preferring to take their chances on finding gas elsewhere. Several men arrived with clubs or firearms just after the shots were fired. Trey’s flashlight played over the two bodies that used to work for the same insurance agency and had been trying to return to Pittsburgh from Cleveland. The snow had turned black from whatever was leaking from the wounds. “What are you looking for” Joker inquired?

“They aren’t dressed for the weather”.

“They’re wearing coats”.

“They’re wearing jackets, no gloves, hats or boots”.

“Neither were we this morning”.

Trey looked at the thief for a moment before replying “We weren’t dressed for the weather, remember”?

“So what”?

“So they were travelers”.

“So what”?

“So we have to report what’s happening out here. That’s why we’re out here”.

“Oh, right. I guess I forgot while we were getting car jacked and shooting the dead people chasing us” the small man smiled.

Walking through the new snow back to the gas pumps Trey observed that there were only a couple vehicles left to get gas. Quite a few must have taken off when the shooting started. “Should we take them back with us”?

“Back to the Pen”?

“Where else”?

Trey introduced themselves to the men who had run out into the field. The tall red head was Reed, the older man was Todd and the young movie star movie star handsome guy was Shaun. “Do you guys have a destination”? The trio agreed that they were just getting out of Pittsburgh. I-80 was packed and folks were driving crazy so they ended up on I-79. Trey made up his mind saying “We have a safe place you can go to. It’s a state prison that has big walls and steel gates. You can at least stay until the snow stops and make some plans”. The three men they spoke with were agreeable so the group went from car to car making the same offer. Six of the fourteen cars refused and left hurriedly.

Looking out the side window Joker asked “What about the Warden’s Expedition”?

“We’ll drop this group off at the Pen and then I’m going back after it”.

“I’m going too”.

“You don’t have to”.

“You need somebody to drive you unless you can drive both vehicles”.

“Very true”.

“What about the Celica and the gas station”?

After a moment’s thought Trey said “Leave the Celica for someone who needs it. Other people will need gas too so we leave it open”. Trey taped two signs to the inside of the window. One read “Free Gas, self service” and the other “Restroom inside, food and drink sold out”.

Once everyone had fueled up, Trey led the way back to the interstate. The Jeep went slowly so everyone could keep up. He felt great driving his Jeep again after six months. Trey was breaking a path through the six inches of new snow traveling in the middle of the roadway. Exiting onto route nineteen their speed dropped except for going up the knolls and small hills. The lights were on in the occasional house that they passed however most were dark. Arriving at the prison drive Trey pulled over and waved everyone past. The Jeep took the last position in the line. Trey and Joker walked along the line of vehicles to the gate. The guard yelled down asking what they wanted. “Don’t you remember us? We just left this morning”? Joker yelled back at the guard.

“Well, what’s all this”? the guard pointed to the cars

“Stranded travelers” Trey yelled back.

“They can’t come in here”.

“You better ask the Warden” Joker yelled puffing up his chest with his chin stuck out.

The guard waved his hand dismissively at the pair but entered the shack to use the phone. The guard yelled at the man up in the box to open the man gate. The buzzer sounded and Trey opened the pedestrian gate. The guard handed him the phone. “Hello. Yes Sir. No Sir. I can explain sir. Yes sir. We didn’t have any choice Sir”. Trey handed the phone back to the guard saying “It’s for you”. After hanging up the phone the guard gestured to the man up in the box and the gates both opened. After the last vehicle had passed through the gates Joker led Trey back to the Jeep.

“Hey, where do you think you’re going” the guard called after them?

Joker laughed and called back “We have to go get the Warden’s SUV”.

Joker took the wheel and they made better time in the four wheel drive without looking out for a whole convoy. “Did you tell the Warden I said hi”?

“No, it was kind of a one sided conversation” Trey replied. At the bottom of the off ramp Joker stopped while Trey went over his plan. Both men took their rifles off the back seat before Joker set off down the road. A fresh set of tracks showed someone had driven in this direction since they had driven the road. At the beginning of the wooded area Joker turned the switch that cut the juice to all the vehicle lights including the brake lights and slowed down. The Jeep stopped where they had previously after the nervous driver got it turned around. Both men stepped out into the snow, the taller of the two walking quietly down the road until the Jeep’s engine could barely be heard running then waving the smaller man to his position.

“Wait here. If you hear shooting stay cool”.

“This isn’t much of a plan. Are all Army plans this vague”?

“We found what we’re looking for, we have the element of surprise and now we have to take the objective. That’s about as complicated as the Army gets”.

“Tell me again about the shooting”.

“Hopefully there won’t be any shooting. If there is it means I went to plan B”.

“Uh, you didn’t mention a plan B”.

“Few plans last after first contact with the enemy. Plan B will be where I have to improvise”.

“And what do I do”?

“If somebody starts shooting at you get the hell out of Dodge. If that loud ass truck comes out the drive take off. If it’s me driving I’ll lay on the horn and we both get out of Dodge. Hopefully I’ll be able to contact you on the radio.

Trey walked away up the road until he could hear the thump of the bass from the rap music his targets were playing before entering the woods. At the edge where he had viewed the house from before he could see a sentry on the porch. No movement was seen in the lighted windows. Circling the house through the woods he approached from the back. The ex-soldier moved along the side of the house ducking under the windows so as not to be seen. Staying low he looked around the corner. The sentry was faced away from him shivering and staring at the ground his shotgun leaning against the porch post. The music volume was high enough that it was rattling the windows.

Several options ran through his brain but none were good. Keeping his head tilted just enough to keep his face in shadow he stomped around the corner “Damn it’s cold. Where’s the gun”?

“Against the post dumbass”.

Trey mounted the steps as the man on the porch reached for the door handle concerned with getting somewhere warm. The Expedition was unlocked and the gang’s shotgun ended up in the back seat. Returning to the porch Trey opened the door and stepped inside. He arrived at the doorway to the living room in time to hear the shotgun wielding truck driver say “Well who is outside on the porch then”?

Trey answered “That would be me”.

The group movement stopped when they noticed the M-16. “I’d like the keys to the Expedition back now “.

The trucker had an evil smile on his face saying “You’re not going to shoot”.

Smiling right back Trey said “Wrong” before firing a short burst into the man’s chest.

“Keys, now”!

The guard from the porch still wearing his heavy coat held up his hands toward Trey yelling “The keys are in his pocket dude”. The remainder of the group were still as statues.

“Nice and slow get them out”.

The guard complied turning on his knees unsure of what to do with the keys.

“Nice and easy toss them here”.

Again the guard complied making an easy toss. Trey put the keys in his pocket before radioing Joker to move up to the drive where he could cover the front porch. Once Joker was in place he ordered men in the living room outside to the middle of the front yard one at a time. Ordering the group face down in the snow he did a quick search for weapons and was rewarded with a couple pocket knives. Trey got the expedition running before returning to the shivering men in the snow. “Stand up. You are going to walk out to the road, turn left and start walking. I don’t care what you do once we’re gone but I better not hear you men have caused any trouble. Now move”.

Trey joined Joker watching the group hike down the road. “What happened”?

“Their leader had an accident”.

“Why did you let them go”?

“I figure they’re harmless without someone in charge and they aren’t armed”.

“We going back now”?

“As soon as I check for the other car keys.”

Trey found the keys for the other vehicles in the dead man’s pockets. The dead man had the only weapon and all the vehicle keys. Trey figured he had meant to stay in charge. As soon as he slid behind the wheel of the Warden’s SUV he gave Joker the go ahead. The pair checked the gas station but nobody was getting gas so they made their way back to the Pen. The snow had stopped but the roads were a mess. After showing themselves the gates opened. Trey stopped long enough to request a call to the thieves den so Bobo would open the back door for them. Mr. Swan, the gate guard, informed the pair that the Warden would really like to speak with them. They passed the travelers cars parked along the road and parked by the back door they had left by.

Bobo whistled seeing the arms the two men carried after he let them in the building. “Where did those come from”?

With his usual smile Trey replied “We found them” while Joker nodded vigorously.

“I think the Warden wants to see us”.

“No doubt” Bobo agreed.

“Do you think you could round up some food for us”?

“Yeah, we’re starved” Joker chimed in.

“Can do. I’ll include some extra for the Warden”.

“Thanks Bro”.

Feeling like truants approaching the school Principal’s office the pair paused outside the door. Joker shrugged his shoulders and opened the door. Mr. Pitman stood in the office door waiting.

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Last edited by Groucho on Thu May 15, 2014 12:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Great update! I am really liking this story line.
Can't wait for more already!

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Great post can't wait for the next one , good story line :clap:


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I am enjoying the story, thank you.


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Oddly enough I just saw this and gotta say this is a winner! Looking forward to the next installment.

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Lovin' it. One of my new faves, along with The Unwelcome Sign.

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Really enjoying your story. Thanks


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Spazzy, 91Eunozs, Nancy1340, Airdrop, TacAir, Complex57, Snpshot 7.62, Murphman, jackorchuck, Dave KI and Barnabus thank you all for your comments.

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Leaving the City

The surviving Dudek sister spent the remainder of the night emptying cupboards into whatever bags and boxes she could find. Taking a break every half hour Ann would peek out all of the ground floor windows before going back to raiding her sister’s pantry. At dawn the CDC Lab assistant made a big breakfast and forced herself to eat it. Leaving the dirty dishes in the sink Ann took her bags downstairs to the garage. Steve’s Mercedes fit the bags easily. Food and water were jammed in trunk around the bags haphazardly.

Ann took a last look outside at each of the ground floor windows noting the only movement were birds and one squirrel. Back downstairs she rehearsed in her mind starting the car, opening the garage door and sprinting back to the car. Why didn’t her brother in law have a remote controlled door opener installed? At least the car was backed into the garage.

With no goal in mind other than getting out of town Ann looked again at the maps trying to decide which way to go based on no information if any of the roads were blocked. She was between the two rivers that joined to make the Ohio River. She would have to go downtown to get across any of the bridges to access I-279. To go east was chancy. From previous visits she knew you would be on a nice four lane but they always changed to a two lane road not far outside the city. Her route would have to be through downtown and hope the interstates weren’t block off.

Once the Mercedes was idling smoothly she pushed up the garage door, sprinted back to car afraid what the noise might attract and moved the luxury car out to the driveway. Sitting for a moment and seeing no movement she ran back to close the garage door. The young woman just couldn’t leave the garage open even though it didn’t make any sense. It was her sister’s family tomb now and wouldn’t be respectful to leave it open. Running back to the car she heard a banging noise that took a moment to locate. The neighboring house was home to several of what used to be upper crust people. They were banging on the windows trying to get out. She slammed the car door shut and sped down the street.

Ann had driven far enough to be out of the nice neighborhood before seeing the creatures, None were in the street until she passed them and they began following the car’s route. She kept touching the handgun on the passenger’s seat for reassurance. Squeezing by several abandoned cars scraped the paint from both sides of the Mercedes.

5th avenue was mostly clear all the way to the I-579 entrance ramp. The ramp was littered with debris and cars she had to zigzag between. A few of the cars contained life that was no longer human. At the top of the ramp several creatures blocked the roadway and afraid she would damage the car she slowed to a walking speed nudging them out of the way with the bumper while they banged on the hood and windows.

The four lane wasn’t clear but she had no problem getting past the stalled vehicles which could be seen in plenty of time to slow for. Looking down off the elevated road the creatures turned to watch her passage. Once she even saw a SUV driving on the surface street. The biggest obstacle was the dead at the top of each on ramp. Ann would drive down the breakdown lane approaching the ramp and as they gathered to greet her steered left across both lanes zipping by the crowd. Both the car and the dead skidding in the snow trying to change direction.

A multiple car wreck was blocking the south bound ramp for I-279 forcing her to take the north bound ramp. Ann merged onto I-279 and caught up to several other cars heading north to I-79 and the Turnpike.

Wondering why she hadn’t earlier, the young woman turned on the radio hearing the same news loop on each station. The only live voice was on a classic rock station talking to callers between songs. Most of the callers were barricaded at home so they weren’t very helpful providing information for travelers. The brake lights of the mini convoy lit up as they passed a lone soldier with his thumb out leaning on his rifle.

Unable to abandon the young soldier to his fate the young lady stopped and waved him to the car. He approached leaning heavily on the rifle as a crutch but with a smile on his face. He pointed to the back seat so Ann unlocked the back door. The soldier awkwardly slid in the back closing the door with his injured limb resting stretched out across the bench seat.

“Donnie Broom, thanks for stopping”.

“Ann Dudek. How bad are you hurt”?

“Well, I can’t put my weight on it. The idiot driving the deuce and a half panicked and wrecked when he should have just driven through a crowd of zombies. Some of us got away but ended up scattered in the dark. I walked into a ditch and sprained my knee”.

“At least you have a rifle”.

Looking in the rear view mirror Ann was puzzled by the embarrassed look on Donnie’s face. “They didn’t issue us any ammunition”.

“But you’re the Army” she exclaimed.

“Army Reserves. No ammo is kept in the reserve center. To draw ammo we have to go down to West Virginia. Ammo was supposed to be waiting for us down in the city. Mine was an engineer company, not infantry. Out of almost two hundred men only twenty three showed up at the center. I brought forty rounds with me from home but that won’t go far”.

“You have to bring your own ammo” Ann asked with disbelief?

Donnie shrugged his shoulders.

“That’s a bad scratch on your face”.

“They almost got me. I cleaned it up with water from my canteen” Donnie explained before yawning.

“Get some rest, you deserve it”.

Donnie closed his eyes and was soon snoring as Ann caught up to the other cars again.


Facing the man

Mr. Pitman sat on the corner of his secretary’s desk. “Get some coffee, its fresh”.

The bank robber and thief gratefully filled their cups and turned to the Warden sipping the hot brew. Mr. Pitman pointed to a rifle and Trey handed his over. The Warden pointedly looked at the three position selector. “This is a class three weapon”. Trey nodded agreement that this was so. “Where did you get them”?

“We waved down a couple vehicles driving north on I-79 to get some information and were carjacked”.

“My expedition was stolen”?

Joker piped up “They had a couple shotguns and two rifles”.

Trey related most of the story leaving out anything that might show them in a bad light such as having full auto rifles stashed away or shooting one of the bad guys. The rifles came from the same source as the shotguns as far as he was concerned.

“That is some story”.

“Honest warden, that’s what happened” Joker spoke up.

The warden stared at the pair before saying “I have a job for you tomorrow. I know where the snow plows are parked and where the school bus yard is. Find me some men to plow the roads. I have decided to let the non-violent offenders free. They can use the school buses to get home. Get some sleep and organize your work parties tomorrow. Report here once you have your plan and personnel ready to go. You can have your rifles back before you leave”.

Both men answered “Yes sir” before leaving the office. They met Bobo and dug into the sandwiches while he delivered food to the Warden. Back in their pod the three convicts discussed the next day’s project. Joker could get into anything they needed that might be locked. A mechanic was decided on in case the snow plows didn’t start. The buses ran every day so they should start. The men would have to be polled to find the plow and bus drivers that were needed. Lastly the security parties were chosen. Trey was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.


The murmur of voices in the pod pulled Trey out of his deep sleep. The cell was empty so he took his time waking up. He made his way downstairs just as the last of the convicts made their way through the serving line. Sitting at the table where Joker and the card players were he listened to them kick around inmate names for the various jobs. He thought about how there are always the few guys in any sizable group who can drive anything with wheels or who are a hand with a wrench on any type of machinery. It turned out the thieves den had four guys who could handle a bus and Drodge who used to drive a snow plow with his uncle. After breakfast Trey and his crew would check with the other pods for talent.

After visiting the other pods they ended up with a couple truck drivers doing time for hauling untaxed cigarettes. The last bus driver actually drove a bus and was in for dealing drugs on the side. Their mechanic was a marine who had busted up a couple guys that had been hitting on his wife and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Everyone had an hour to get ready while Trey and Joker talked to the Warden. “Here’s the keys for the state cars you boys will be taking” Mr. Pitman said. “Your rifles are over in the corner. Do your best to stay out of trouble and keep everyone safe”. Both still had handguns in their coat pockets but what the Warden didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

“What if we happen on civilians who need help” Trey asked?

“Do what you can for them. If its necessary bring them back here” the Warden replied.

Once everyone was loaded up Trey’s Jeep led the way to the main gate which was standing open. Both guards just stood there shaking their heads in disbelief. The vehicles filled with criminals had a picnic like atmosphere since most had been behind the prison walls for several years. Nobody was singing songs but there were some really big grins.

At the bus yard Trey posted a veteran with a shotgun as security while Joker picked the lock to the yard and then to the bus company office. Inside the small man located the key locker which he opened with no problem. “How many keys should we take” he asked Trey?

“Just six. If we have problems we’ll come back and get others”.

“Why don’t we take them all now”?

“Then you would have to put the others we don’t need back in the box anyway”.

“Why put them back”?

“Cause somebody else might need them”.

“Who is gonna need them”?

“Gee Joker, I don’t know. How about the people that own them”?

The shotgunner stayed on the gate while the rest of the group armed themselves with whatever they could find. Trey divided the convicts into two groups. Joker’s group looked less than enthusiastic to be following the small thief.

“Relax guys. Last night Joker took out one of those things with no problem” Trey told the party members. “Just stay together and keep your eyes open. Let the Joker or I pop anything that needs shot. Check in, under and around all the buildings and buses. We meet back here once this place is clear.” Joker's order "Follow me men" was met with a combination of laughter, moans and blank stares.

Trey had the last man in line keep a lookout towards the rear. Moving up and down the rows of buses was nerve racking with the closely parked vehicles. Over an hour passed before both groups were back at the gate. Trey handed out the bus keys and escorted the drivers to their vehicles. Each bus was cleared before letting the driver get started. Trey followed by Joker cleared the inside by kneeling on the steps to look under the seats and then walking down the aisle to check each seat.

The drivers started checking the big yellow bus’s fluids and belts before starting them. Once they were running Trey made sure the tires and lights were checked also. The largest job the crew had was clearing the six inches of snow off the buses. One car escorted the bus convoy back to the prison. The rest of the crew continued on the Truck garage.

Throwing Snow

Unlike the bus yard there was no fence surrounding the county works lot. Two guards were posted to keep a sharp lookout while the area and buildings were cleared. The crew located the big snow plows that were parked in a lean to that kept out most of the snow. The master thief had the keys out of the office in record time.

The crew cut mechanic had the first plow started on the third try. The second plow took two hours to get started. The crew took turns warming up in the car except Jerry the mechanic and Trey. Jerry seemed an affable person who would take a lot abuse to get fired up. Messing with the guy’s wife must be one of his buttons not to push.

Trey called a meeting once the plows were started. “Joker and I are going to lead the plows. The rest of you can go back if you want or tag along”.

The rest of the crew elected to continue their outing by following the plows. The Jeep led the way back to the Prison, the plows cleared both sides of the two lane road out to route 19. The plows staggered so the north bound plow in the south bound lane would have some warning of approaching traffic near the tops of the slopes.

Reaching the interstate Trey’s jeep dropped back and the side by side plows picked up speed. South of I-80 they saw the first body go flying from in front of the plow. Hoping it wasn't a stranded traveler the soldier braked the jeep. The adult male's damage was a mix of old wounds as well as those from the impact of the snow plow. A high speed collision was as effective as a bullet to the head in this case.

"Did you that guy fly" Joker asked?

"Duh".

"No, I mean he grabbed some serious air. I'd give him a ten but he screwed up the dismount".

The crew plowed all the way south stopping short of the urban sprawl near the intersection with the PA turnpike seeing only a few cars moving north. When Trey was a kid Cranberry Township was just farmer’s fields and red brush. Now it was all strip malls and housing plans with who knew how many of the mobile dead.

Turning north the plows threw snow and several goons all the way to the terminal exit at the town of Erie before turning south once again. The trucks reached the Geneva exit with their gas station seeing no cars moving south. Exiting the four lane the Jeep took the lead. Trey changed the radio station and Joker yelled “Hey man, that was Elvis”.

“I know it was Elvis. I like Elvis too for the first hour. Time for something different”.

“I don’t like that new stuff” Joker complained.

“What do you mean new stuff? This is 80’s rock and roll. It’s not like I’m playing that hip hop crap” Trey reasoned”.

“Its new stuff to me” the older man groused.

“So you hate everything after 1965” Trey asked?

“Yep” Joker admitted with his crazy grin.

“Think of it as having your horizons expanded”.

“My horizons are just fine thank you very much”.

“Trust me; you will be thanking me later”.

“I don’t think so” the small man said sarcastically.

“You do know sarcasm is never a good means of communication don’t you”?

Joker didn’t answer but pointed toward their view of the gas station through the windshield. A car was parked at the pumps with the doors open. As they drove closer a figure in woodland camouflage was approaching a woman who was backing away with a handgun raised.
Trey slid the Jeep to a stop on the road by the station and jumped out yelling “don’t shoot”. As he walked toward the pair the woman was repeating “Stop Donnie, please stop” as she backed away with tears running down her cheeks.

Trey approached the dead soldier from behind prodding its shoulder with his rifle barrel. The grey faced man was led into the field away from the building. Touching her arm the young woman jerked as if coming out of a trance. Joker said gently “We’ll handle this”. After she lowered her weapon Joker led the woman back toward her car. Leading the dead soldier back near where the other two bodies were a bullet between his eyes released the gray faced college student and part time soldier to the peace of final death. “Sorry soldier”.

The woman was draped over Jokers shoulders sobbing. Trey walked toward the pair near the Mercedes observing the panicked look on Joker’s face. Neither of the pair knew what to do with a crying woman. Like most men they hated it when the tears started to flow. After five minutes the sobbing began to taper off. “It’s ok now Ma'am”. Taking the small pistol from her hand Trey replaced it with his handkerchief.

The two men guided the lady toward the jeep while she dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. Joker got her to sit in the passenger’s seat as Trey handed her a canteen “Drink this”. Ann sipped the water, coughed and then sipped some more. Joker checked the idling Mercedes’ gas tank which was almost empty. The master thief filled the tank from the pump.

Ann started talking about Donnie. “I picked him up on the way out of Pittsburgh. He was hurt and tired so he fell asleep right away. He was snoring at first then became quiet. As I pulled in here for gas he began moaning and reaching for me. I jumped out of the car but he climbed over the seat after me”.

Trey spoke softly “Look, we can’t stay here. Our job isn’t finished”. The woman looked up with panic on her face. “You can come with us if you wish. We have a safe place to stay. There are other travelers there that we have taken in”.

“Please, take me with you”.

“Sure, you can ride with me. Joker will follow us in your car” the bank robber said handing the small handgun back to the younger woman.

Ann accepted the weapon sticking it in her pocket before closing the door. After the cars all gassed up Trey pointed back toward the interstate. The trucks would have to wait to fuel up. Joker gleefully sat behind the wheel of the German luxury car. The plows hit the snow on each side of the pumps before leading the way back to the four lane.

The woman spent the drive silently staring out the window. The convoy pulled up at the Prison gates which opened after Trey showed himself outside the car as dusk arrived. “Home sweet home. I’ll walk you up to the library where the other travelers are staying. Do you have anything you want to take with you”?

“Just the big suitcase” Ann whispered.

Trey removed the luggage after shifting the other contents around then opened her door.

The shocked woman followed the bank robber down the sidewalk, through the door and up the hallway. The sounds of children playing could be heard as they neared the library door. The sounds of twenty some people increased with the opening of the door. Trey was surprised the Warden had cots stashed away somewhere. He had figured everyone was sleeping on the floor. Ann was shown to an empty cot as Trey’s presence was noticed and the questions began.

The convict raised his hands for silence. “I have a few things to say that may answer some of your questions. We plowed I-79 from Erie almost to the turnpike in Cranberry Township in both directions today. There was traffic on I-80 but less than there was yesterday. The roads weren’t clear but driving didn’t look like it would be too difficult. Cars have been driven on the turnpike but we didn’t see any”.

“Tomorrow the Warden, Mr. Pitman, is going to release the non-violent offenders that wish to leave. That may free up a pod for you travelers that don’t wish to leave just yet. You are free to go anytime you wish but I recommend that you wait and leave early in the morning. There are no new reports on the outside situation other than what we have personally observed during our drive. The staff is short handed so once the prisoners are released anyone that stays will have to pitch in and help out with some of the chores”.

Reed asked “Are there violent offenders here”?

“Yes there are. I haven’t seen the Warden since this morning so I don’t know if a decision has been made about them”.

“What kind of chores are we talking about” The red head continued?

“Kitchen and laundry are the two that come to mind. We may need help in the physical plant for heating and cooling. The vehicles and grounds will need looked after, janitorial work in the halls and offices and someone will have to watch after any children that are here. If this situation lasts long enough trips outside to gather food will be a necessity.”

“What about those crazy people out there” Todd asked?

“We just ran into one at the gas station where I met this young lady but we haven’t seen any others than the two at the station last night. I’m just guessing but most seem to be in the cities for now but I expect them to start showing up in our area soon”.

Trey waited a moment while several conversations took place. “You folks talk it over. I’ll let you know any new information we get”. Picking up a blanket and pillow from the pile on the desk he knelt in front of Ann. “You’ve had a hard day. Why don’t curl up on this cot for a bit”. Nodding the young woman lay down while Trey covered her with the blanket before leaving to find Joker.

Not finding Joker in the pod and checking outside he discovered the small man in the Mercedes with a self satisfied smile on his face. “I just got to get me one of these” he said to his cellmate.

“While I admit that they’re nice cars it’s not exactly the thing to drive when zombies are taking over the world”.

“I don’t care”.

“I do admire a man that knows what he wants” Trey said lightly punching Joker in the shoulder. “I have to see Mr. Pitman. I guess I know where to find you if I need you”.

“Tell him I said hi”.

Released

The bank robber grinned at the thief before leaving. Letting himself into the office he found the older man getting coffee. The Warden took Trey’s report of the day’s activities and accomplishments. “Six buses will hold 330 average size adults. Plus it wouldn’t hurt to have a bus parked in front of the gate to keep a crowd from pushing on it. 317 prisoners can be released if they all want to go.

Mr. Pitman nodded in agreement. “I’ll make the rounds of the pods tonight. The men in the D pods will just get a nice surprise in the morning. That should keep things calm for one last night”.

“Before I forget, Joker says hello”.

Trey accompanied the Warden to make his announcement. Both pods rang with shouts and cheers at the thought of going home tomorrow although most had figured it out already. Nobody would be getting much sleep their last night in stir. The walk back to the office was quiet. Mr. Pitman knew most of his message about conditions on the outside had been lost in the excitement. To Trey he didn’t seem any more worried than the convicts but then he had been dealing with them for a long time.

At dawn the bus drivers were making their vehicle checks while destination placards were placed on the windows next to the doors. The men were left on their own to get seats on the proper bus. Men headed for Pittsburgh were left standing in the aisles unlike other buses that were half empty. The gate guards were yelled at and given the finger by most of the departing prisoners. No doubt they would have been mooned also if it was only a little warmer

From outside in the yard the roar of voices from the D blocks could be heard. The few felons that were released had been extracted from their cells at gun point to keep the cellmates inside. D Blocks had been on lockdown since plague had arrived. The pods were beginning to smell. The guards had a new positive reinforcement technique to keep order. Be good and you get to eat.

The Cons remaining were consolidated in the thieves den. Only seven remained from the two pods. The empty pod would be used for the travelers that were staying. The bedding was stripped by the seven man crew and carted to the laundry. Clean linens and blankets from the laundry were stacked on the rolled up mattresses in each cell.

“Aren’t we going to make up the bunks” Joker inquired?

“This isn’t the Hyatt hotel” was Trey’s reply. “Besides, if the women are like my mom they’d be taking the bed apart to check out the mattress”.

“Women is the craziest people”.

The pair stopped in the wood shop for a wedge before arriving at the library. The travelers cheered at the news that a pod had been vacated for their use. The two criminals helped carry belongings as they led the way to the pod. The wood wedge was used to keep the hall door open.

Trey called for everyone’s attention. “The hall door locks if it’s closed. Then it needs a key to open from either side. I’ll see about getting a key for your use. In an emergency you can shut that door and it will keep most things out of the pod. The cell doors will lock if they slip shut. They also need a key to reopen them. I’ll see about getting some rope for anyone who wants to tie their doors open. Those windows let the sun in first thing at daylight. If anyone wants a blanket to hang on the bars to keep the sun out or for privacy they have to be washed first. The same for fresh linens”.

“The laundry crews as well as the cook crews have all left this morning. I suggest that you elect a barracks chief and get organized. We need to know what skills you have that will be useful. In the near future we’ll be making a trip outside the walls for food so we need to know who can shoot, who has weapons and if anyone can drive a big rig or operate heavy equipment. The prison isn’t set up for civilians so you’ll have to bear with us”.

Joker agreed to hang out and answer any questions the group might have. Trey strolled up to the Warden’s office. “The buses are gone and the civilians are moved into the pod” Trey relayed to Mr. Pitman.

“How many men are left”?

“Seven counting me. We have eight male civilians, seven women and nine children”.

“Six guards are still here” the Gray haired man said. “I pulled one man off the gate leaving a man in the box”.

“What about the D pods”?

“Don’t worry about them”.

“How are we on food” the younger man asked?

“We’re good for a couple days but we have to think about a food run. The guards have been sleeping in the locker room. I’m moving them into the pod with you seven men”.

“Hey, it’s your prison”.

“And don’t you forget it” Mr. Pitman said with the first smile Trey had ever seen on his face. “Trey you’re a local boy, why are you still here”?

Without hesitation the criminal replied “Because I’m needed here. I’m sure they’re fine but I’d like to check on my brother and his family in a day or two if that’s ok. I promise I’ll be back”.

“Let me know when you want to go”.

With the conversation concluded Trey left the office to spend the day with the civilians. He arrived at the pod in time to hear Joker explaining to Todd that the seven cons were harmless since there was nothing of value left to acquire. Money was meaningless now unless you wanted to start a fire or needed toilet paper. Trey joined the conversation explaining that valued items now would be food, fuel, weapons, clothing and anything else needed to survive. If they could be found they would be free for the taking.

Todd was the older man who had been elected barracks chief. The women had the men carrying the slim mattresses outside to air out by hanging them over any railing that could be found. With the chores done one man was left to watch the pod while Trey took a crew to the laundry and Joker led a larger crew to the kitchen.

The old dining area was rarely used except for storage or meetings. The fixed tables had been removed but folding tables and chairs were stacked against the walls. The children had the run of the dining area supervised by one woman but visible to the mothers in the kitchen. Joker had only been in the kitchen twice but gave his crew the grand tour. Their task would be an early lunch for 121 people since nobody had breakfast today.

Trey had experience in the laundry from his first days as an inmate. He was pretty sure now the Warden had let him sweat it out for a month before moving him up to the office. The bank robber had established his place in the prison hierarchy. Mostly it was hard stares and short scuffles when the guard’s back was turned. The only real fight occurred when the guard had to leave for a short time. It was real high school type stuff when the resident tough guy wanted the new kid to knuckle under.

With a smile on his face Trey said “No”. After several punches and kicks Trey swept the tough guy’s foot dumping him on the floor. Astride the stunned convict’s back the soldier used a choke hold to put him out. When he ordered the other cons to drag the man behind the dryers they obeyed. Nobody wanted the guard asking questions.

The laundry volunteers learned the finer points of mass laundering and got to know each other at the same time. They traded stories about how they had escaped the city, where they were headed and how long they thought the crisis might last. Trey found out nobody was a veteran but the group did have a couple of outdoorsmen.

The big commercial washer’s contents were transferred to the large commercial dryers making conversation difficult. The group moved to the hallway outside the damp laundry.

“We’re going to need to make a food run soon and we need volunteers” Trey informed the group.

“Out there”?

“It’s not so bad out there. Me and the Joker have been out a couple times with just a tire iron and a ball bat before we found the guns”.

“So where are we going to get food”?

“The Warden hasn’t said yet. Can anyone drive a bus or a truck”?

“Why can’t you guards go”?

“There are still two pods of killers and crazies to be watched. There are only six guards left and they have to sleep sometime. Just give it some thought; I’ll let you know when Mr. Pitman comes up with a plan”.

The group talked among themselves until the dryers were finished running. The conversation dried up while everyone was folding sheets. The guys weren’t saying much as they followed Trey back to the pod. Lunch was ready just as they arrived so the crew helped set up the tables. Mr. Pittman arrived in time to help finish setting the chairs around the tables. As the pair began eating Joker joined them.

“Are you two Convicts up for a shopping trip tomorrow” the Warden asked?

“Only if I can drive that Mercedes” the thief said with a smile.

“Mercedes”?

“The girl we brought in was driving a Mercedes and Joker’s in love with her car” Trey filled in.

“The last I heard they don’t carry many groceries”.

Joker slumped over the table banging his head once on the surface.

“Well, not everybody will fit into the trucks” Trey replied as Joker looked up hopefully. “We’ll need scout vehicles”.

“Ok, but you better talk with her before running off with her car” the grey haired man said pointing at Joker with his fork.

The little man snatched up his tray and almost ran to the table where Ann was eating alone.

“So where’s the store at boss”?

“There is a warehouse in Meadville. How many men do you need”?

“Two vehicles and four men riding scout. Two men for the truck. Four men for the bus. That gives me two guards and a working party of eight. We’ll have a rifle in each car and a shotgun in each of the other two vehicles”.

“Will that be enough”?

The bank robber shrugged his shoulders in reply to the impossible question.

“I guess I better ask for volunteers”.

Trey nodded in agreement.

Looking over at Joker he saw a large smile and thumbs up. The meal finished people began to stir when the Warden began speaking.

“Hello. My name’s Pitman and I am the Warden here. I’m sorry I haven’t had time to meet with you yet but with the staff shortage it’s been rather hectic. This place will never be the Hilton but I hope you are getting settled in. The supply trucks haven’t arrived and the available food is getting low. Mr. McFaren and Mr. Kracken have agreed to make a supply run. Eight volunteers will be needed. Two men will be needed to man shotguns. Anyone willing to go along please see Mr. McFaren”.

“Excuse me” a portly woman said standing up. “Why can’t your guards go? Why should our men risk their lives?

“That is an excellent question. The majority of the remaining prisoners are all sentenced to twenty years to life. The guards must remain here for now. I’ll assume that everyone here wants to continue eating.

“If two guards can leave why can’t they all leave”?

With a big grin Trey answered “Joker and I aren’t guards. We’re convicts”.

A voice yelled above the murmur of voices “But you have guns. You were out driving around”.

Mr. Pitman used his command voice “These men were on a mission for me to see what the situation was beyond our walls. Unusual times require unusual actions. The fact that they assisted you should speak for their sterling character. They both could have left with the others but decided to stay where they were needed. If there are no further questions I have work to do”.

As the Warden left Trey joined Joker at his table. “Hello. I hope you’re feeling better today. My name’s Trey and this is Joker” he said extending a hand.

“I’m Ann Dudek” the woman replied with a ghost of a smile on her face. “Yes, I do feel a little better. I’m trying not to think about what happened”.
…………..

“You aren’t really going to loan my associate your car are you”?

“It was my brother in law’s car and I don’t care if I ever see it again” Ann said with a frown.

“I told her I’d replace it with whatever she wants” Joker informed his partner.

“Seems like a fair trade to me”.

Ann whispered “Something tall with a strong bumper”.

Joker whispered back “What color”?

The ghostly smile returned as she stood up to leave “Surprise me”.

Joker put his head in his hands saying “Why do women never give a guy a straight answer”?

Trey watching Ann walk away laughed at the little man’s anguish. “Take her at her word and surprise her. That’s the deal right”?

“Man, you know she still won’t be happy. Why couldn’t she have said a Ford F250 in Red”?

The pair sat in silence sipping coffee while Joker fumed. Finally Trey asked “Where are our five brethren”?

“The Warden has them doing meals on wheels”.

“I wonder how these civilians would feel about delivering food to two pods of killers and crazies? Are any of the five worth taking out with us?

“The Swede seems reliable. You would think anyone called the Swede would be some big guy” Joker pondered.

“What’s he in for? I don’t recall”.

“You better ask the man cause the Swede don’t say much. Keeps to himself”.

“Let him know we need him tomorrow”.

“Will do. That leaves five”.

Trey looked around at the empty room before saying “I guess they’re all going to sleep on it”.

Joker led the way outside to show off his new car before checking it out for the drive tomorrow. The men kept the same arrangements by sharing a cell and spent the evening reading after cleaning their weapons.

_________________
Three men and a woman trapped in a building, send help. If you can't send help send two more women. Groucho Marx-Duck Soup

USAF SP 72-77,US Army reserves 84-92


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 Post subject: Re: Doing Time
PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 11:12 pm 
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That was a long update man, I'm loving it. Thanks!


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