Chapter 17: Max Lockup
Eddie “Chuck” Charles sat near a small stream drinking the water. He was exhausted but couldn’t stop moving. It was only hours since he was able to get over the fortress walls of Havenville Penitentiary among the rioting inmates, but the land on the other side of those walls was tough to traverse.
Chuck knew of the main road that came up through the town of Taconic Lake, CT. He knew that north of Havenville was mostly woods until you were almost in Massachusetts. The only way to go (if you were lucky enough to get over the walls) was south and parallel with the road. This was the only way to get into the farm land that surrounded Taconic Lake. With luck, Chuck would be able to steal some clothes from a car or a garage without alerting anyone to his presence.
Chuck didn’t linger. As far as he knew, he was the only person who ever escaped Havenville alive, and wanted to keep it that way. His paranoia was rising, and he could swear he heard dogs barking in the distance. He was fool if he thought he’d have time to sit and have a drink of water. With effort, Chuck rose and began his trek through the woods again.
When the riots started in the mess hall, Chuck took the opportunity to go get some air. He joined a crowd of inmates rushing outside to the rec yards where he’d be safe from the spreading violence. The guards that guarded the huge walls were coming out of the big metal doors with their german shepherds and rushing towards the main area of Havenville with their rifles on their shoulders. The guards in the towers took aim at the ground below planning to shoot anyone that hindered the guards arrival into the main area of Havenville.
Chuck was an opportunist. It was the main reason he found himself behind bars to begin with. When he saw one of the metal doors opened a cracked he edged over quietly and peered inside. He waited a moment to hear any warning from above, but got none. The guards were too busy looking for rioters to shoot to worry about one man inching his way into the hallway and stairwell that was forbidden to inmates.
Chuck walked up the stairs as quietly as he could. He was aware there’d be no secret door that would lead directly outside. Even the guards had a process to get in and out of the main gate when it was time to go home. Chuck didn’t even know what he was doing, or why he was so stupid to attempt it. Pushing the thoughts out of his head, he inched into another door and was found what he was looking for.
There was a window that led to the outside! There were bars on it, and the drop was enough to kill him if there weren’t, but it was the closest Chuck had come to being outside in the last eleven years of his life. He went up to the window, pushed it up, and breathed a breath of the free air. It was glorious.
“What are you doing in here?” a voice said. Chuck turned to see a guard holding a rifle in front of him aimed at Chuck’s chest. “Put your arms in the air.”
Chuck did as he was told. Even though he had done something incredibly stupid, he wasn’t going to make it worse by disobeying a man with a gun and every right to shoot him. Then the impossible happened. The guard began walking towards him and tripped over a piece of carpet. He hit the ground hard and his rifle went off. Chuck was aware of the pieces of wall hitting him on the side of the head, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the guard sprawled out on the floor.
Before the guard could get up, Chuck took advantage of another opportunity and picked up the rifle. He used the butt of the gun to knock the guard out before he could get another shot off. He was sure the next one wouldn’t miss. Before Chuck ran off he noticed the hole the rifle made. The shot hit the wall just to the right of the window. There was a hole big enough for Chuck to put his arm through.
Chuck listened to the sounds coming from Havenville. Now it was an orchestra of gunshots and screaming. Nobody would notice any more in this environment. He stepped back to around ten feet away from the wall and spent the rest of the rifle making the hole the guard started bigger. After kicking loose the last of the bricks, there was a hole large enough for Chuck to squeeze out of. Once he was looking at the landscape of trees and hills he noticed a tree close to the walls.
“Fuck it,” Chuck said to himself. He jumped from the hole and landed in the tree. His feet hit a thick branch, and he slipped off. He caught another branch on his ribs and arms. He was able to hang on for a few moments before painfully falling to the soft, muddy earth.
He was sure he didn’t have long until someone noticed the hole and the unconscious guard, but he was hoping he’d have more time to get away. Now he was sure it wasn’t his imagination and the dogs were after him. He ran in the direction he thought was south and splashed in puddles along the way. He tripped over a root on the ground and hit the ground hard. He thought his ankle may be sprained.
“Do not move,” a cold voice said. Chuck looked around to see who had spoken it, but he saw nothing. He started to think he imagined the voice and began massaging his ankle. “Do no move, inmate,” the voice said. Now Chuck knew he hadn’t imagined it. He looked up into the tree and saw a camera there watching him. There was a small gun attached to the bottom and it fired at him.
Chuck’s hand moved to where he was hit, and he pulled back a bloody dart. He started feeling drowsy immediately, but didn’t drift off into sleep. His body stopped obeying his orders and was stuck there helpless against whatever came next.
The dogs formed a circle around him. Only Chuck realized that they weren’t dogs at all. They were wolves. Each one was had a green collar around its neck with a number etched in red. “Don’t worry,” the voice in the camera said. “The drugs won’t take away your consciousness or pain.” There was sick laughter on the other end as the wolves stood and watched Chuck intently. Chuck had never been more terrified in his life. Even if he could move he would have been petrified with fear.
“You’re just in time for dinner, Mr. Charles,” the voice said after the laughter subsided. “OK, girls. Time to eat.”
The wolves slowly moved in on Chuck as he screamed a scream that couldn’t escape his lips.
Wolfsky looked out of the reenforced glass door of his cell in Max Lockup. He sat in the single cot in the small space that as directly next to his steel toilet and sink. He had no desk or shelf like he had in the cell he shared with Xander. Not that he would need it here. He was no longer able to get any of the books he read or even have anything to write with. The librarian would bring books around, but most of them were missing the pages that featured any kind of violence or sexuality. Wolfsky got the feeling they would turn up under some other inmate’s pillow.
The only entertainment came in the form of the other inmates, who were subdued and melancholy. Nobody talked during the heavily guarded meals. The guards Wolfsky was used to walking amongst the general population with a billy club or a stun gun was replaced by automated cameras and guns on the walls. If you acted out of line in Max Lockup, there was no second chance.
After a nearly silent breakfast, Wolfsky walked the red line back to his cell where he sat on the cot and waited for rec time where he was allowed to get enough exercise to make him not feel like a piece of veal. On this particular day Wolfsky was surprised when a heavily padded guard came by and unlocked his cell with the electronic pad. The door slid open and another guard gestured for Wolfsky to get on the red line.
“Doctor Dean wants to see you,” the guard said. Wolfsky knew better than to argue or even grunt in the guard’s general direction. He did as he was told and followed the guard to the padded room where doctor dean sat. Once Wolfsky was at the table with his hand cuffed to it, Dr. Dean opened his notebook and began to write. After a few silent minutes with nothing but the scratching of Dr. Dean’s pen, he addressed Wolfsky.
“Good afternoon, Wolfsky,” Dr. Dean said.
Wolfsky said nothing. He just stared into Dr. Dean’s face.
“We can’t have that,” Dr. Dean said. “The point of rehabilitation is to get better. We need to get your violent tendencies under control. If you don’t talk to me we can’t even start the healing process.”
Again, Wolfsky said nothing. He only stared into the eyes of Dr. Dean.
“This is why you’re here to begin with,” Dr. Dean said. “I can recommend your return to general population if I feel you’re ready.”
“After brainwashing and implanting Wolfsky with evil,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky knows what it is you’re doing in here.”
“Do you think talking like that is going to help you?” Dr. Dean asked. “They’ll come for you, Wolfsky. You’ve been marked. It’s only a matter of time.”
Wolfsky’s hard gaze into Dr. Dean’s face didn’t change. “Let them come,” he said. “Wolfsky will be waiting.”
Things changed in the general population of Havenville following the riot. Twenty were reported dead, and dozens more were reported injured. The guards had seen a good number of themselves injured beyond repair and were leaving on Workman’s Comp. One guard was reportedly brain damaged after he was bashed in the head in one of the towers next to a hole in the wall (an inmate in A Block was claiming it was his cellmate Chuck who escaped, but he has reported among the dead). There was even reports of a dozen or so more being hauled off to Max Lockup for their escapades during the riots.
Xander had his cell to himself since his own cellmate, Wolfsky, was one of the inmates that was moved to Max Lockup. Xander stared at the ceiling feeling responsible for what happened and wondering why Wolfsky was provoked to attacking Marshall when he was called ‘butcher’. What did that name mean to Wolfsky? Hadn’t he heard it somewhere before? Had he really killed children?
This wasn’t the only thought going through Xander’s mind as he stared at the ceiling above his bunk. He could still see the aftermath of the carnage from where his cell was if he stood at the bars. Often at night he would look down to the cracks in the floor where the beast-man had tried to take his final blow on Tajiri. He was knocked out cold at the time, but he got the details from the others.
It was the most unlikely ending, but Leonard was the one who took down the beast-man (the most likely scenario was that they all whould be dead). Leonard explained something about shorting out some internal circuit using the nail gun and the wet pillow, but Xander didn’t understand any of it. All he knew was that he was incapacitated by his own stupidity and nearly got his friend killed.
There was something else on Xander’s mind as well. The four of them had become legends among the inmates after what happened. Word travelled quickly about who planned and engineered the riot. Even thought it was so short in during, it was the most violent and damaging riot Havenville had ever seen. Xander didn’t know what to do with his newfound popularity as he got pats on the back in the mess hall, greeted with nods of approval in the rec yard, or given a wide berth by the more cowardly population.
Naturally, Leonard loved it.
“I’m Ozzy fucking Osbourne!” he said leaning against desk in his cell. “Everyone in Upper C saw what happened. Everyone is talking about it. The riot. The monster. The fight. They’ll be talking about this as long as Havenville is standing!”
“It would be better to lay low,” Xander said not grinning. Popularity was not part of the plan. It just meant they stood out more.
“You do not understand,” Tajiri said from where he stood watching down the halls. “They know who sent the monster. They know what he was. We have earned their admiration and respect. This will be quite useful in the future.”
“The future,” Xander mused bitterly to himself. “I don’t even know where to go next.”
“We have to get Wolfsky,” Leonard said becoming suddenly serious.
Xander looked at him.
“We aren’t going to let him rot in Max Lockup, are we?” Leonard asked.
“I don’t know,” Xander answered. “I honestly can’t think of any way we can possibly get him out.”
“So you’d leave him there to be tortured and experimented on?” Leonard retorted. “I thought I knew you better than that.”
“It’s not like that,” Xander said.
“Wolfsky helped you,” Leonard said. “He saved my ass. Literally. I, for one, am not going to sit back and let them cut him open and rearrange his insides. I’m not going to let them carve up his brains until only a shell of a Wolfsky is left. I don’t care if I have to blow up this whole goddamn shit hole to do it, either. Fuck.” Leonard got up and stormed out of the cell.
Xander watched him leave not knowing what to say.
“Don’t mind him,” Tajiri said. “He kills one electric-powered giant, and he thinks he’s a super hero.”
“Did you just make a joke?” Xander asked.
“Perhaps,” Tajiri said. “Don’t tell Leonard.”
“He’s right though,” Xander said.
“I know,” Tajiri said. “I worry about Leonard. He’s not himself lately.”
“Yeah,” Xander agreed. “Not a joke since Wolfsky came up. Usually he masks his feelings with humor.”
“He masks his fear with humor,” Tajiri said. “Also sadness. Happiness as well. Its anger that fuels him at the moment. Give him some time. He’ll see getting Wolfsky out is close to impossible.”
“Is it?” Xander asked more to himself than Tajiri.
Wolfsky awoke somewhere around two in the morning to chattering outside of his cell. He looked up from his cot and saw a group of doctors huddled around his transparent door. They wore long, white lab coats and round mirrors on their head. They looked like something out of an old cartoon, but Wolfsky found nothing funny about it. The group of doctors watching, whispering, and taking notes horrified Wolfsky more than anything he’d seen in his entire life.
“The subject awakes,” one of the doctors said turning to Wolfsky. He was a short asian man with white hair. Wolfsky knew from the cartoonishly large name badge on his chest that he was Doctor Wang. “And how are you feeling, Wolfsky?”
As usual, Wolfsky said nothing. This time more out of fear than defiance.
“Our subject does not wish to speak with us,” a rather large man said. This doctor’s badge said: Doctor Shea. “No matter. You’ll speak soon enough.”
“We have big plans for you, Wolfsky,” an unnamed doctor in the back said.
“Yes,” Another from the back said. “Big plans.”
The doctors all chuckled amongst themselves as Wolfsky watched in horror.
Xander was in the rec yard spotting Tajiri doing some lifting when he saw the man he was hoping to see since the day or the riot. He saw Wolfsky’s friend Rohan from across the yard talking to a small group of people. “Guys,” Xander said rousing Tajiri, who just finished a set of twenty, and Leonard, who was reading a book in the shade near them. “I need you to follow me.”
The two followed Xander without hesitation. Leonard was still upset about them not moving on getting Wolfsky out of Max Lockup, but had at least agreed that there was little they could do to work towards the seemingly impossible goal. Xander waiting for him to start making the off color jokes once again. He would know his anger had finally subsided when that happened.
“Rohan!” Xander called as he got closer. Rohan looked up startled and looked like he was about to run. Xander wondered what had made him so paranoid, but realized that his protection may have been hauled away on the day of the riots as well.
“Zane,” Rohan said walking away from the small group who dispersed quickly. “What do you want?”
“Is that a way to greet an old friend?” Xander asked.
“We ain’t friends,” Rohan said. The light gleamed from his shaved head. “I see what happens to people you consider friends.”
“I didn’t want Wolfsky locked up,” Xander said. “None of what happened in C Block that day was intended.”
“But you did it,” Rohan said. “You angered The Warden. You pushed him. You prodded him. He left us alone! You decided to get up into his shit and stir him up. You see what happens on the inside now? The Chaplain is dead, Wolfsky is in Max, and The Warden is sending monsters at us to kill us. None of this happened before you came here.”
“I can’t deny anything you’re saying,” Xander said. “But Wolfsky believed in what I was doing. So did Chaplain Freeman.”
“It’s over,” Rohan said. “Chaplain Freeman is dead, and Wolfsky may as well be too. You’ll never get him out of Max.”
“I think you’re wrong,” Xander said. He could almost feel Leonard perk up when he said it. Tajiri kept his usual calm stillness.
“What do you want?” Rohan said again. This time it sounded like he wanted to hear Xander out rather than dismiss him quickly.
“The Chaplain’s network,” Xander said lowering his voice so only the four of them would hear. “What became of them?”
“Fell apart,” Rohan said. “Disbanded. Without leadership there is no network. Some of us were hoping Wolfsky would take over after Chaplain Freeman passed, but he didn’t make a move. He was too busy with you and your plans.”
“That’s a shame,” Xander said. “If Wolfsky spoke to me about it I would have encouraged him. I was in The Hole when most of this was going down, though. Is there anything I can do to get the network running again.”
Rohan was silent. He eyed Xander. As if sizing him up. “We need a leader,” Rohan repeated. “Wolfsky trusted you, so I’m trusting you. I still think what’s been happening is your fault, but I’ll give you the chance to atone. The Chaplain would have wanted me to give you the chance.”
“I thank you for it,” Xander said. “What do you have in mind?”
“I said it once already,” Rohan said. “We need a leader.”
Xander caught Rohan’s meaning this time. “If need be, I can lead,” Xander said not entirely confident he should be speaking these words. “Just tell me what to do?”
“You have to earn the rest of the network’s trust,” Rohan said. “Meet me in Upper A during chow time. Bring your friends.” Rohan left and hurried inside.
“Tonight?” Leonard said. “That’s a little quick.”
“They’ve been waiting,” Xander said. “Wolfsky only mentioned briefly that The Chaplain’s network wasn’t running when we were planning the riot. The conversation with Rohan went much better than I thought, but this isn’t what I was expecting.”
“Why not?” Tajiri asked. “After everything that’s happened why shouldn’t you take the role? We’ll all need you with what’s coming?”
“What’s coming?” Leonard asked.
“War is coming,” Xander said repeating the old man from his dream. A chill ran down his spine and he suddenly felt ill. He hadn’t told the others about the dream, but the part with the old man on the throne wired to the sky seemed to become clearer as the rest blurred out of his memory.
“War?” Leonard asked. “We barely made it out of the riots alive.”
“That was just a prelude,” Xander said. “If we want to get Wolfsky out of Max before they cut him up (if they haven’t already), then we’ll have to go all out.”
“What about your contacts on the outside?” Leonard said. “Can’t you call the FBI? Have them swarm the place. You have enough evidence now. Fuck. I’ve seen guys in here with cell phones. Can’t you borrow one and make the call.”
“Cells don’t work in here,” Tajiri said. “You know that They’re only wired to send messages to the other inmates, and they’re very hard to come by.”
“Why’s that?” Xander asked. He had seen these phones in use from time to time. It was rare since those who owned them kept them very secretive.
“Most of them come in through the guards,” Leonard said. “It’s rumored that they monitor the texts. I’ve never dealt with them myself since I don’t want a tracking device on me at all times. It’s safer to use the old methods. I never put much trust in computers anyway.”
“Weren’t you a computer engineer on the outside?” Tajiri asked.
“Yeah, but I sucked,” Leonard said. “Why do you think I don’t trust computers?”
Xander laughed. It was the first joke that came out of Leonard’s mouth in quite some time, and it sounded like music to his ears.
“I see you’ve collected your prize,” Lockhart said. He entered Warden Greene’s office with no warning of his entry. Greene was watching Wolfsky on the monitor and made no movement to hide it.
“Not the one I wanted,” Greene said. “He’ll have to do.”
“You’re still not listening to Dean or Marshall?” Lockhart asked. “Are you still playing your cat and mouse game with this Zane character?”
“I am,” Greene said.
“He could be dead by nightfall,” Lockhart said. “Marshall has told me as much. Why keep him alive when he could do so much damage? You had his predecessor killed for much less.”
“His predecessor wasn’t as much fun,” Greene said. “Wells stuck his nose in where it didn’t belong, but Zane goes all in. Look at the damage he did to the Ten of Clubs when Marshall and Dean put him to the test. Look at the ruckus his friends caused when we put him in The Hole. Look at the riot he engineered.”
“Look at the corpse he and his friends created,” Lockhart said. “How many years of engineering and science did we put into him? Just to have him killed on his first test run by a few inmates with a wet pillow.”
“That is why we do such tests,” Greene said. “Have you seen the footage?”
“You know I have,” Lockhart said. “Subject seventeen performed more than adequately, but these men are dangerous. They’re sneaky, they’re strong, and worse of all, they’re smart. Put them down while they sleep, Greene.”
“We shall see,” Greene said peering at Wolfsky again over his folded fingers. “Was there anything else?”
“This toy of yours,” Greene said nodding towards the screen. “Dean has been too afraid to confront you, but he doesn’t think this Wolfsky fits into any program we have readily available. The Doctors want to operate on him, but Dean isn’t giving them the stamp of approval.”
“Wolfsky the Butcher is a cold blooded killer,” Greene said. “Tell Dean he is to begin preparing Wolfsky’s mind. I do not want any more backtalk from that weasel.”
“Very well,” Lockhart said. “You should also know John Smith number nine is up and running.”
“This one claims to be talking to the inmates,” Lockhart said. “It’s beyond my calculations. I had to shut down number eight when inmates started complaining to Dr. Dean about a man in a chair wired to the sky telling them destruction was near, but this one is having conversations through their minds.”
Greene turned in his chair and looked at Lockhart. “Interesting,” he said. “Has he found out anything good?”
“No,” Lockhart said. “The inmates keep threatening to kill him and pull this place apart.”
Greene looked very serious for a moment and then burst out laughing. Before long Lockhart was laughing as well.
Xander, Tajiri, and Leonard walked to Upper A Block following Rohan’s instructions from earlier that day. They kept their conversing to a minimum while they were around the other inmates, but as the crowds seemed to thin out they were able to talk lightly again.
“What do you suppose Rohan wants?” Leonard asked.
“I don’t know,” Xander said. This was a lie. He knew what he had to gain Wolfsky’s trust when he first entered Havenville. He had a feeling he’d be walking into the same kind of situation. Since Tajiri and Leonard were with him he supposed they would have to get involved as well. Xander wondered if Leonard would have the stomach for it. For the sake of everything they hoped to accomplish, Xander was hoping he did.
“There he is,” Tajiri said as they approached. Rohan walked forward to meet them.
“You came,” Rohan said. “Some of the guys thought you might chicken out.”
“They doubt my need to have the network running,” Xander said. “The Chaplain was a good man, and I don’t want to see his plans go astray.”
“I agree,” Rohan said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to see Wolfsky freed as well, but there’s something you have to know.”
“What?” Xander asked.
“We’ve gotten word of voices in some of our heads,” Rohan said looking scared. If his skin weren’t so dark Xander would have imagined him growing pale. “More than a few people who have nothing to do with each other. They know the voice comes from Max Lockup, and it’s always the same.”
“What does he say?” Leonard asked nervously.
“He just wants to hold a conversation,” Rohan said. “About Havenville. About helping The Warden. We’ve been telling him to fuck himself. I don’t want the Warden in my mind. This must end.”
Xander held his comment. He was sure Rohan had experienced this as well. He had seen some crazy things lately in Havenville, but was Greene capable of something like this as well. He remembered Lockhart coming into Havenville. It’s him, Xander thought. He must have heard something back in the FBI when he was in the offices. Wasn’t he wanted for mutilating the human brain for the purposes of proving ESP was real?
“The man in my dream,” Xander said aloud. “It’s true. He’s getting in our heads.”
Leonard and Tajiri both looked at Xander. “Why didn’t you tell us,” Tajiri said looking worried.
“I thought it was just a dream,” Xander said. “But it wasn’t. One of Greene’s subjects tried to contact me when I was knocked out during the riots. He warned me.”
“What did he warn you of?” Tajiri asked.
“Later,” Rohan said. “We don’t have a lot of time here. Someone will come looking for him before long.”
“Come looking for who?” Leonard asked, but Rohan was already walking away. Xander and Tajiri followed quickly.
The trio followed Rohan into a cell that had three other men inside. When Rohan entered they left and kept watch. Inside was a man whose mouth had been taped shut and was bound to the toilet. He was wearing a guard’s uniform.
“Who the fuck is that?” Leonard asked out of surprise.
“Guard Nash,” Rohan said. “This pervert has been fucking and raping the inmates of Havenville for years. We were finally able to get him on his own earlier today. We took him and got him up here. On top of raping inmates he’s been provided them with heroine and cocaine. One out of every inmate he deals to ends up overdosing. We can’t let that stand.”
Xander knew what had to be done immediately. Rohan and the two men keeping watch would act as witnesses. The three of them would have to take a part in killing Guard Nash if they wanted The Chaplain’s Network to fully trust them. Xander nodded once to Rohan, and he cut the ropes that bound Nash before backing out of the cell.
“What the hell is he doing?” Leonard asked. “Fuck, dude!”
“Get him,” Xander said. “If he gets out he’ll rat on everyone who took him.”
Tajiri moved quickly and and got Nash in a hold that he couldn’t get out of no matter how much he struggled. Xander reached into his sleeve and brought out the throwing blade he kept in there. He put the end into Nash’s throat before he could cause any trouble. After a bit of struggling, he fell to the ground. Tajiri and Xander picked up Nash’s corpse and and placed him on the bed. Tajiri and Xander looked at Leonard.
“No,” Leonard said. “I can’t do it. I’m not like you guys.”
“You need to,” Tajiri said understanding the situation without it being explained to him. “We all need to take part in this.”
“This is the first step to get Wolfsky out,” Xander said.
Leonard sighed and reached behind is back. He pulled out a small silver packet and a single match. “For Wolfsky,” he said. He tore a small corner in the silver packet and poured it over the body of Guard Nash. There was barely enough to cover the entire body, but Leonard crisscrossed across the entire body. He took his wooden match and scraped it across the bars. He sighed once more before tossing the lit match on top of the body. The flames engulfed the body and smoke began filling the cell.
They all left before the smoke and the stench could get to bad. When they entered the chow line the fire alarm began to ring.
Xander readied himself for lights out. Things were relatively calm seeing as a guard was killed and torched in a cell in A Block. The lack of heat on him meant they didn’t suspect him, Leonard, or Tajiri. Not yet at least. Xander turned to see Rohan approaching holding a small brown package.
“This if for you,” Rohan said handing Xander the package.
“What is it?” Xander asked.
“Wolfsky left it in my care,” Rohan said. “He wanted me to give it to you if anything happened to you.”
“Why did you wait so long?” Xander asked.
“I had to be sure,” Rohan said.
Xander didn’t ask for Rohan to clarify. He knew what Rohan meant. Before he could ask any thing else, Rohan had gone.
Xander sat up in his bed and waited for the lights to go out. After the guards made their rounds to make sure no funny business was going on, Xander quietly tore open the package and a black book dropped into his lap. At first he thought it was one of those inmate written book that Wolfsky like so much, but when he flipped to the first page he saw the words:
The Personal Journal of Wolfsky
With great interest, Xander began to read.