The Innocent

Prologue
Chapter 1: Welcome to Havenville
Chapter 2: Day One
Chapter 3: Initiation
Chapter 4: Leonard and Tajiri
Chapter 5: Xander on the Outside
Chapter 6: The Chaplain
Chapter 7:The Agents of the Warden
Chapter 8: Inside the Quarantine Wing
Chapter 9: Leonard on the Outside
Chapter 10: The Test
Chapter 11: Warden Greene
Chapter 12: The Hole
Chapter 13: Catalyst
Chapter 14: The Chaplain’s Legacy
Chapter 15: Tajiri on the Outside
Chapter 16: The Line
Chapter 17: Max Lockup
Chapter 18: Wolfsky on the Outside
Chapter 19: Patterns
Chapter 20: The War Begins
Chapter 21: The Final Stand of Kit Marshall
Chapter 22: Inside + Epilogue

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The Innocent Chapter 22: Inside + Epilogue

The Innocent
Chapter 22:
 Inside

 

The sky turned red as Xander fell to his knees in agonizing pain. He could see the man called John Smith holding his palm out to him, but the features behind and around him swirled in and out of focus. Xander knew what this was and who John Smith was. He heard from Rohan of men like John Smith talking to them from Max Lockup, and he had even spoke with one himself as laid unconscious on the prison floor. The man called John Smith was a psychic, and this one had enough force to put Xander on his knees even though he knew none of this was real.

“I’ve won,” the voice of Warden Greene said from inside Xander’s mind. “You were a fool to bring all these men to their deaths.”

Xander didn’t have time to wonder if that was really Warden Greene’s voice somehow being broadcasted into his mind. He had to break free of the hold John Smith had on him. ”

“You won’t break free Xander Zane Peter Frost,” John Smith said. It was the second time he used the double name. It was as if he was mocking Xander with information from inside his own mind.

“You’ll die,” the voice of Warden Greene said. “Painfully. Like your wife and son. You should have never crossed me, Zane.”

Xander struggled to get up. He got one knee off the ground. Then the second reluctantly came. Xander was now on his feet. What used to be the grounds outside of Max Lockup was now a wasteland of broken concrete blocks and gray smoke. “I will not fail,” Xander says.

“You will,” the voice of Warden Greene said. “You have already.”

“No,” Xander said through his teeth. He could feel the psychic hold on him loosening, but he couldn’t shake it completely. He felt as if he was missing some piece of a puzzle.

“Stop fighting,” John Smith said. “You’re only making it worse for yourself, Xander Zane Peter Frost.”

John Smith’s use of the double name infuriated Xander. How dare he use the name of Peter Frost.

“He’s dead,” Xander said.

“Is he?” John Smith asked. 

Xander thought there was a hint of something else in his voice when he asked. Could that be the key? Was John Smith helping him?

Xander felt a presence to his right. “I never left,” a calm voice said. He recognized it as his own, but a voice he hadn’t used in months. It was the voice of Peter Frost.

“You’re not dead?” Xander asked Peter.

“No,” Peter said. “We’re not. Not yet, anyway.”

“Can you beat him?” Xander asked.

“I was a pretty good marksmen in my FBI field agent days,” Peter said. Xander saw he had a gun in his hand. He raised the gun that wasn’t really there towards the face of John Smith. His fingers moved on their own accord. Not his fingers, but Peter’s fingers.

“You’re still Peter,” the voice said in his ear. “Inside. You just need to stop and look sometime.”

“You’ll die!” Warden Greene’s voice said.

“No,” Peter Frost said. “You will.”

Peter Frost squeezed the trigger and ended John Smith’s existence.

*

“Son of a bitch!” Warden Greene spat as John Smith died. Blood poured from Smith’s eyes and mouths as his head looked down at the floor. Lockhart had promised that this was the most powerful John Smith to date, but in the end he was killed by a mere man.

“What’s the order?” Rockwell asked near the door. Greene has asked him to stay by him. If Rockwell found anything odd about John Smith and his psychic attack he didn’t voice any opinion. At this point nothing should surprise a member of Greene’s elite guard squad.

“They’re coming inside,” Greene said. “There’s no way to stop them now. Make sure they die in the lobby. Let loose hell on them. Pick whichever of my troops you want and let them out of their cells. They are programed to listen to you if you’re in uniform.”

“Yes sir,” Rockwell said.

“One more thing,” Greene said as Rockwell turned to leave. “Attend to Zane yourself.”

“Yes sir.”

*

Wolfsky continued his trek through the halls of Max Lockup. He was aware that Warden Greene was wandering around as well, but thus far he was lucky enough not to run into Wolfsky’s dwindling inmates. They had been successful in thinning the number of guards, but they had lost quite a bit as well. Wolfsky had been separated when there were around fifteen left. He’d consider himself lucky to have seven or eight by the time he was finished with Lockhart.

Wolfsky peeked around a corner and spotted a door guarded by two elite guards. For two guards to stay posted when the entirety of Havenville was in chaos meant that Wolfsky finally found what he was meant to find. He quickly rushed down the hall, and the guards fired on him immediately. Wolfsky danced through the bullets with a grace that didn’t fit his body and clotheslined both guards at once. Once on the ground, Wolfsky snapped both of their necks in quick succession.

Wolfsky took a deep breath and entered the room.

“I was wondering when you’d come,” Lockhart said. “I don’t suppose you’d want to sit down and have a cup of tea.”

“No,” Wolfsky said.

“I didn’t think so,” Lockhart said. “I have a proposal for you if you’d like to hear it.”

Wolfsky knew he shouldn’t listen. He knew he should kill Lockhart straight off for his mission and for revenge. There was no reason to hear him out. Still, Wolfsky spent years of his life to get to this point. What were a few moments? Besides, Wolfsky was curious to see what the man who manipulated his father’s DNA would have to offer.

“Tell Wolfsky,” Wolfsky said.

“The organization you work for,” Lockhart said. “Do you know everything about them? Do you even know why they want me dead?”

Wolfsky didn’t say anything. Normally, Wolfsky would say that he knew enough. He knew what Lockhart was and what he stood for.

“You’re just doing your job,” Lockhart continued. “I understand. I’ve been on their hit list for a very long time.”

Again, Wolfsky said nothing. 

“You look surprised,” Lockhart said. “Did you think I wouldn’t know about you? They anticipated I would come here before I know that Keene had set up shop here. They were one step ahead, and I applaud them for it. I didn’t know either until I saw you killing the doctors on the monitors. That strength. That brutality. That finely tuned mind! Such feats could only be accomplished from someone who was treated with my Omega Serum, and I had lost all surviving patients to that damn organization of yours. I had no idea a father could pass it onto his offspring.”

“Your serum killed my mother,” Wolfsky said. “You killed my mother.”

“The very reason I tried to keep your father in my Haitian facility!” Lockhart said accusingly. “Little did I know your mother would survive enough to birth you! She must have been such a strong woman to withstand the radiation your father emitted from his very body. You’re the finest specimen I could have hoped for, Wolfsky! Come with me. Let us leave this place. We can own the world.”

“Is that your offer?” Wolfsky asked. “Wolfsky still doesn’t hear a reason not to kill you.”

“Your organization,” Lockhart said with a smirk. “What do they call themselves now? The I.S.C.O.? When I was employed by them they simply called it The Organization. They’ve even help fund some of Keene’s work here at Havenville. Confused? Yes, they employed me for a time. Who do you think I was working for in Haiti? Why do you think they wanted me dead? I took my work and went freelance. Your father was supposed to help me, but he ditched me the first chance he got and went running off to Barbados.”

“You lie,” Wolfsky said.

“No I don’t,” Lockhart said. “And you know when somebody is lying to you. Am I lying to you?”

Wolfsky squinted his eyes at Lockhart. He knew he wasn’t lying. Wolfsky always had an instinct about such matters, and that instinct was never wrong.

“There,” Lockhart said straightening up and walking towards Wolfsky. “Things aren’t as I thought they would be working with my old colleague. I think it’s time I made my exit, but that depends on you. You can come with me and learn the truth, or you can kill me and continue to be led along like a puppy by The Organization. It’s your choice.”

“Wolfsky has already made it,” Wolfsky said. “I don’t need to be shown the truth or salvation by you, Lockhart. I have already been shown the true path by a man called Chaplain Freeman. Wolfsky will not walk the your path or the path of The Organization any longer. Wolfsky chooses to walk his own path and atone for his sins in Wolfsky’s own way.”

“Very noble,” Lockhart said nodding. “Well then you best get on with it. I’d rather die here than at the hands of some brute inmate.”

Wolfsky nodded and obliged Lockhart. His death had to be quick. Wolfsky had more work to do before he was finished.

*

Tajiri had the plates of the electronic locks to Max Lockup off in seconds. He had his tiny tool kit strapped to his left wrist, and his fingers moved with a deftness that most couldn’t perform. His years as a safe-cracker for the Yakuza made him an extremely useful ally to Xander.

“It’s open,” Tajiri said taking a step back and wiping his brow. “Just say the magic word and it’s open.”

Xander looked over his army. Their numbers weren’t as great as they were when they first took over the General Population building. The wolves and their short battle with Marshall Kit had seen to that, but they were still a formidable force. 

“We’re with you all the way,” El Niño said from the front line. He now wore riot gear and carried an automatic weapon. Xander noticed most of the men were now armed with a wide variety of weapons they picked up along the way. “Open those doors and let’s get moving.”

The men cheered in unison and Xander stepped towards the double doors that would lead them into Max Lockup. The doors were big, but they’d be essentially bottle necking themselves if the guards were able to amass above them. If they were smart they would. Xander looked through the thick glass and saw movement, but he couldn’t see what.

Xander, Tajiri, and Leonard’s role were simple. The three of them would break off as soon as they were in and find Wolfsky or Greene. Once Wolfsky was free and Greene was dead, they were to find a way to destroy Max Lockup on their way out. The only problem was stepping through that door.

“Let’s move!” Xander shouted as he kicked open the doors.

*

The scene inside Max Lockup was not what Xander had expected. He expected to be covered by the elite guards with guns and automatic firing weapons on the wall. He half-expected to be killed the moment he kicked the doors open. Xander couldn’t believe what he saw when he entered the lobby.

What was commonly called “The Lobby” of Max Lockup was actually the main area that stretched from the ground all the way up to the very top. Directly across from the main doors was the processing area much like in Gen Pop. From where Xander stood upon entering Max Lockup he could see the Southern face of five above-ground floors, and it was complete chaos.

Guards fell from the higher floors all the way down to the ground. Elite guards were shooting at the max lockup inmates who were wearing red jumpsuits and inciting chaos as they went along. His men came in behind him at a run, but stopped to watch what was going on. It looked like the war of Havenville had already erupted in Max.

Suddenly, sets of doors on the ground floor began to open. The inmates braced themselves, but nothing happened right away. Then huge men who had obviously been tampered with like the ones that Xander and Tajiri fled from in the Quarantine Wing began to emerge.

“What’s the word?” Leonard asked a little too nervously.

“Where’s El Niño?” Xander asked.

“Right here, boss,” El Niño answered coming up from behind Xander.

“The men are yours,” Xander said. “Fight these bastards off the best you can. Show no mercy to any of them.”

“You’re not staying?” El Niño asked.

“I’m taking Leonard and Tajiri with me,” Xander said. “We’re going to try and stop this at the source.”

“Going after the Warden?” El Niño asked. “Kill him once for me too, yo. We got these chumps.”

*

With Wolfsky’s mission done, he ran towards the lobby where he knew Xander and the others were now fighting for their lives. He only ran into two guards, and made quick work of killing them. He was nearly to the lobby when he ran into Xander and the others by chance. 

“Wolfsky!” Xander shouted as Wolfsky rounded a corner. He nearly took Xander’s head off in surprise, but stopped himself.

“Xander!” Wolfsky exclaimed. “I knew you’d come for Wolfsky.”

“Even though you told me it was suicide?” Xander asked.

“Wolfsky thought that might entice you,” Wolfsky said beaming.

“We’re here too!” Leonard said.

“Yes,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfskky is glad you can all come.”

“I hate to break this up,” Tajiri said. “But we are no longer alone.”

The quartet turned to see someone approaching slowly down the hall. He was tall, muscular, and dark hair was cut nearly to the scalp. They knew who he was immediately.

“Go,” Xander said not taking his gaze off the face of Rockwell. “I’ll take this one.”

“No,” Tajiri said. “If we take him together -”

“Let’s go,” Wolfsky said before Xander could protest. “These two have unfinished business, and so do we.”

“You know why we’re here,” Xander said. “Wolfsky should know the lay of this place better than all three of us. He’ll know where to go.”

Tajiri and Leonard nodded in unison and moved towards Wolfsky. Rockwell continued his stride not moving to stop them.

“Xander,” Wolfsky said.

“Save it for later,” Xander said. “Go!”

Wolfsky, Leonard, and Tajiri ran off down the corridor as Rockwell finally made his way to Xander.

*

Warden Greene watched the carnage erupting in the lobby on his many monitors. The elite guards were all but decimated by the mass breakout that happened before Xander and his army broke into Max. He knew if Lockhart or Dr. Dean were in the room with him they would have told him that he should have killed those four rather than play his game of cat and mouse with them.

Xander Zane from the outside. Wolfsky from within. General Population and the walls were no longer under his control, and Max Lockup was following suit. No matter how this ended, Havenville was done. The only think he could hope for was a clean escape for himself and his compatriots along with whatever Max inmates were loyal to him.

“Good evening, Warden,” a weakened female voice said from behind him. “Is it evening? I don’t even know any more. There are no windows in the room you gave me to die in.”

“Jodie Slate,” Greene said turning around. She was wearing nothing more than a light blue hospital gown. He could see the marks in her arm where she had wearing the I.V.

“Dustin,” Slate corrected. “My name is Dustin. Or have you forgotten?”

“I was under the impression you had forgotten,” Greene said. “You were designed to forget.”

“All glory to The Warden,” Slate said in a mocking smile. Greene’s stomach turned when he saw how many teeth she had lost. Greene thought she’d have died by now. There was only so long the conditioning would last.

“You were perfect,” Greene said. He wasn’t lying. There was no other that had performed as perfectly as she did. It was a pity he had to push her aside to die alone in a cell, but that was the endgame. “It’s a shame it had to end like this for you,” Greene continued. “I wish I had ten more like you.”

“Save it,” Slate said. “You’re a dead man.”

“You are here to kill me?” Greene asked. “I find that hard to believe.”

“Not me,” Slate said. “The reaper is coming for you. I saw the monitors. There is an army of pissed off inmates storming your little castle, Greene.”

“It’s not over,” Greene said.

“Has anyone checked in?” Slate asked with that sickening smile. “Can you count? Seven doctors. Doctor Dean. Lockhart. I went to them first. All dead.”

“Dead?” Greene whispered. He turned around again and started punching buttons on his keyboard. He was so busy coordinating the defense of his Elite Guards and inmates, he forgot to check his own house. One by one they popped up showing nothing but dead bodies. With Marshall dead as well he only had Rockwell left, and he had sent him after the most dangerous of all game.

“It’s over,” Slate whispered in Greene’s ear. He could smell the decay of her body on her breath. Enraged, he turned and throttled her thin throat. He watched as her eyes turned up and the her life left her body.

“Such a pity,” Greene said.

*

“Are you sure you don’t want your friends to stick around?” Rockwell asked. “This is going to be good.”

“This is between us,” Xander said. “You killed my family.”

“Would you believe me if I told you it was all business?” Rockwell asked.

“No,” said Xander.

“You’d be right,” Rockwell said. He unbuckled his belt. He let it fall along with his mace, cuffs, gun, and other assorted weapons. He removed his body armor as well. “I like a fair fight,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Do you have any idea why I told you that it was me that killed your son?”

“Shut the fuck up and fight me,” Xander said through clenched teeth. His hands were balled up at his sides, and he had no intention on engaging Rockwell in pointless conversation.

Rockwell’s jabbed with his left hand. He was fast. Xander barely had time to step back to save his nose from being broken. Rockwell swung with a right hook that also missed. “You’re quick,” Rockwell said. “But we’re just getting started!”

Rockwell kicked out at Xander’s left leg, and Xander stumbled. Rockwell smiled slickly as he connected a jab to Xander’s temple. Xander saw stars and struggled to get back to his feet.

“Come on, Frost,” Rockwell said. “We’re just getting started!”

Whatever fatigue Xander felt was erased as soon as he heard Rockwell use his firmer name. He lunged at Rockwell and threw a series of punches wildly at Rockwell’s face. Rockwell had to put his arms up to block the blows, but not before a few connected. When he finally put his hands down he had bruise forming above his right eye and blood trickled from his mouth.

“Good,” Rockwell said wiping the blood with the back of her hand. “This’ll be fun.”

*

Wolfsky led the way down stairwells and corridors into the heart of Max Lockup. It would have been quicker to use the elevators, but Wolfsky suggested that they might be on lockdown. Either that or they would lock them in as soon as they entered. Even with Havenville in chaos, The Warden was still in charge.

“How much further,” Leonard said. “I’ve gotten into great shape thanks to prison, but I still can’t keep up with you guys.”

“Almost there,” Wolfsky said. “I learned the layout from The Chaplain’s maps.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask you about that,” Leonard said. “Who exactly was The Chaplain? Someone like Xander? FBI? CIA? Some other acronym?”

“He was a man,” Wolfsky said.

“A noble man,” Tajiri added.

“Fuck you guys,” Leonard said. “Forget I asked.”

Wolfsky was right. It wasn’t much further to where they had to go. The only problem was the guards. “You hang back,” Wolfsky said to Leonard. “Tajiri and Wolfsky can take care of the four guards outside the door. We’ll call when it’s done.”

“I have no problem with that,” Leonard said panting. “You guys take this one. I’ll hang here.” He reached behind him and pulled out a long knife. He had it sheathed by his left buttock in case he had a need for it. He tried to hand it to Wolfsky.

“Hang onto that,” Wolfsky said. “In case someone comes along. You might have to use it.”

“Ready?” Tajiri whispered. Leonard noticed his stance. He was ready to move and do it quickly. He knew the instant he took his attention away Tajiri would be a blur.

“Ready,” Wolfsky said. Without any more hesitation they both launched from where they were standing and went after the four heavily armed guards.

*

“Do you know who I was on the outside?” Rockwell asked kicking Xander in the ribs. He slid across the floor. “Oh yeah. I wasn’t always a prison guard. My name was Bruno. Bruno Fabbro! You’re FBI, right? You know the name?”

Xander did know the name. There wasn’t anyone in the entire Northeast that didn’t know Bruno Fabbro. The man born from a wealthy Italian family that strayed form his family’s life of organized crime to take up residence in Bridgeport, CT to start his own life of crime. Only difference was Fabbro was a child killer.

“You remember,” Rockwell said. “I can see it in your face. The Warden took a liking to me, and the scrawny punk that entered Havenville became the well oiled machine that you see now. How many was it? Do you remember the numbers?”

Too many, Xander thought. He knew there were dozens of kids missing from area projects and lower income housing. The assumption was that Fabbro took children he didn’t think anyone would miss. When they finally caught up with him, they found evidence of dozens of slain children they had no idea were missing. He was monster in human flesh. 

“I should thank you,” Rockwell said. “Until my assignment to pay your wife and son a visit, that part of my life was behind me. I had forgotten how good it felt.”

Xander heard all he was willing to hear. The presence of Peter Frost raged inside him, but Xander shut it down. Xander Zane was a cold-blooded killer. He didn’t need the cool headedness of an FBI agent that wanted men like Fabbro behind bars. He needed the prison inmate, Xander Zane, that knew that Fabbro deserved to be killed.

Xander moved fast. Faster than Rockwell’s eyes. He landed three punches to Rockwell’s kidneys before he could be shoved off. He swung his left hand upwards in a sloppy uppercut, but it still connected. A spray of blood flew from Rockwell’s mouth. Xander hoped that was his tongue. At least he wouldn’t have to hear him talk any longer. 

Xander rammed his knee into Rockwell’s stomach. Rockwell wasn’t expecting the blow, and bent forward. Xander used his knee again to smash Rockwell’s nose. He followed up with a hard elbow to the back of Rockwell’s neck. Rockwell fell to the ground on his face. His body was still.

*

El Niño fired his automatic rifle into the charging men that were coming from every conceivable direction. Greene didn’t waste body armor on these men, so the bullets found their marks easier than they did when they fought the elite guards for entry into Max. El Niño directed the flow of bullets as well as Xander did. Those who were out of ammo and fought with blunt instruments were sent to the sidelines to pick off anyone that go through the firing line.

The men coming through the doors could hardly be called men. They charged on legs and knuckles like apes. They snarled and spit as they bellowed in rage. Worst of all, The bullets did little to slow them down unless a head or chest shot was made. The beast-men ran so savagely and randomly that the small orange-suited army had trouble keeping up. Soon the hoard was on them and hammering them hard.

El Niño dropped his assault rifle once it was spent, and went for his stun gun that he had strapped to his back. It was fully charged, and he aimed it at the oncoming hoard. There was no time to differentiate between friend and foe. He aimed wide, and moved his gun while it was pulsing. When he was done he had a long line of twitching bodies in front of him.

“Get them before they get up!” he called to his right. Inmates with knifes or clubs finished off the twitching beast-men. Either smashing their heads into putty or cutting their throats open. The floor was soon drenched with blood.

The carnage was over as quickly as it began. All of a sudden there was silence in the lobby. They moved their unconscious comrades back behind their line where they tried to revive them. El Niño had a sinking feeling they haven’t yet seen the worst, and his suspicion was correct.

There were fewer this time, but they were bigger. One man that walked slowly had two extra arms grafted to this mid-section. Another had metal claws coming from his fingers. A few crackled with electricity as they walked like the one that was taken down in C-Block during the riots.

“You best hurry the fuck up, Xander,” El Niño said under his breath.

*

“What are you doing?” Tajiri asked. 

“It’s here somewhere,” Leonard said quickly looking through directories on the huge computer. “I know it is.”

“We don’t have a lot of time,” Wolfsky said. “We have to get back to Xander before The Warden gets desperate.”

“I think he’s already desperate,” Tajiri said. “But we have mission, and I’ll stay to see it to its end!”

“Keep your damn pants on,” Leonard said. “Found it! The inmates wired to explode!”

Tajiri and Wolfsky looked at the big monitor in the center of the console. There were dozens of red boxes with numbers in them. “Each number corresponds to a specific inmate,” Leonard said. “You can set dates and times of explosions. The best part is, there’s nothing to find! It’s all chemicals! Havenville sends out the signal, a transponder in the brain picks it up, the brain releases the body’s natural chemicals, and BOOM! Human bomb!”

“You’re enjoying this way too much,” Tajiri said.

“It’s just interesting,” Leonard said. “How much time do we need?”

“Wait,” Wolfsky said. “You’re going to kill those men?”

“They have to be destroyed,” Tajiri said. “We can’t have them out of Havenville. Not even in another facility. It can’t be helped.”

“Aren’t some of them outside of Havenville already?” Wolfsky asked.

“Quite a bit, actually,” Leonard said. “The neat thing about this database is that I can differentiate who is here and who is on the outside. I can only detonate who I want. It’s so easy a dummy can do it.”

“Wolfsky still doesn’t feel right about this,” Wolfsky said. “These men are victims of The Warden as well.”

“Trust me,” Leonard said. “Nobody fought Xander on this harder than me. They must be destroyed along with anyone else The Warden has experimented on. We can’t let his work leave this place. At all costs.”

“These men are already dead,” Tajiri said. “You know that nobody comes back after what The Warden has done to them.”

Wolfsky eyed Leonard. “OK,” He said. “Wolfsky understands all too well. Half an hour. That’s all the time we’ll need. Set the clock, and let’s get back to Xander.”

*

Xander turned the limp body of Rockwell on his back. Open eyes started up at him. His face was bloodied from this broken nose and mouth. His lips began to move, but nothing intelligible came out.

“I’m assuming that you’re begging for your life,” Xander said. “Just so you know, I have no intention on sparing you.”

Xander bent down and brought his knife across Rockwell’s throat in a motion that he was becoming very familiar with. More blood pooled under his body, and Rockwell’s shallow breathing stopped shortly.

Xander felt like sitting agains the wall and resting, but he had no time. As soon as his knife was back in his wrist sheath Wolfsky, Tajiri, and Leonard came quickly around the corner.

“You won,” Leonard said almost surprised. Xander didn’t have the energy to argue. The adrenaline was wearing off, and he felt as if he could barely walk.

“Don’t fall yet,” Wolfsky said. “We have one last piece of business before we can leave Havenville for good.”

Xander nodded and found the energy to move again. He walked down the corridor to the stairwell. He was going up to the top floor. It was time to pay Warden Greene a visit.

Warden Greene rushed into his office. He had spent too much time controlling the action around Max Lockup to no avail. The inmates were in, his doctors and confidants were all dead, and Xander Zane would be coming for him soon. The only hope he had was to destroy anything he can before running off and starting over in some other part of the world. There were even some governments that would welcome him with open arms. He was sure China or North Korea could use a man with his expertise.

Greene ran towards his big desk and opened his bottom drawer. He opened it up to find the small safe inside already opened. His heart nearly stopped when he heard the voice behind him.

“Looking for something?” Xander Zane asked.

Greene turned his head slowly to find Zane holding the large black journal that he had kept. There was a large purple and yellow bruise above Zane’s eye. Normally he would have found it amusing, but it somehow made Zane look more deranged. There wasn’t enough notes in that journal to recreate any of his experiments, but it was his personal account of his life since he had thrown the real Daniel Greene off the side of a cruise ship so many years ago.

The door slammed shut, and Greene turned quickly to see Wolfsky standing by the door with a hardened look on his face. Leonard Kelly and Tajiri stood on either side of him. He now wished he had listened to one of the many who had suggested he kill these four straight off.

“I knew we’d find something like this,” Xander said. “It was Leonard’s idea to look. How did you put it, Leonard?”

“A crazy fuck like Greene would surely keep a journal of his sick fucking life,” Leonard said. “They all do.”

“How right you were,” Xander said.

“Please,” Greene begged. “Let me go. I can make you all very rich.”

“This is not about money,” Tajiri said. “We are men of honor. We cannot be bought.”

“There are organizations,” Greene continued as if Tajiri had never spoken. “They can hide the five of us. We can rule the underworld. I was doing great things here! Spectacular things!”

“That’s all over,” Xander said. “How much longer, Wolfsky?”

“Less than fifteen minutes,” Wolfsky said.

“We better not tarry, then,” Xander said. “Hugo Keene, for crimes against humanity I hereby sentence you to death. May you burn along with your life’s work.”

The Warden of Havenville tried to run, but there was nowhere to go. The four men grabbed him roughly, and tied him to his own chair.  His hands were tied behind him with the zip ties used to subdue the inmates. They used tape to ensure his arms and legs could not be freed. They broke the wheels off the bottom of the chair so he couldn’t even wheel himself away.

“The world will see you as the monster you are,” Xander said placing the journal inside his orange jumpsuit. “Not its salvation. I pray there is no Hell, because it would be too good for you.”

*

Xander, Wolfsky, Leonard,  found their way back to the lobby quickly. They had no time to uncover any more secrets of Max Lockup. They returned to the The Lobby with only minutes to spare before Max Lockup would be reduced to ash.

The scene was horrific. El Niño and the other inmates were fighting furiously. Even though the inmates were fighting ten to one against The Warden’s beast-men, the bodies were piling up. One inmate was slashing with metallic claws. He saw another beast-man shocking inmates as they shot at him.

Without warning, Wolfsky ran into the lobby with his assault rifle in front of him. Xander followed and started pumping rounds into the backs of the beast-men. It took a lot of bullets to take them down, but they didn’t have time to devise any kind of strategy. Xander looked over, and saw Wolfsky quickly putting one bullet in the back of the head of each one he aimed at. They went down in heap a second after the bullet hit. Xander had known Wolfsky as an efficient killer with his bare hands, but he never saw him wield a gun. He could have given the top FBI sharpshooters a run for their money. 

Wolfsky made them a hole large enough to travel through towards the front doors. The others followed shooting at whatever they can. “RETREAT!” Xander called. El Niño turned to see the four coming through, and started shouting at whoever was still alive and fighting to retreat. When El Niño turned toward Xander again he was grabbed by a shirtless beast-man with four arms. He held him by his mid-section with his bottom arms and ripped El Niño’s arms out of their sockets with ease.

Xander screamed and started pumping what was left in his assault rifle into the four armed beast man. He turned to Xander and began to charge. Xander was out of bullets when he finally fell to the ground at Xander’s feet with a thump. Xander knelt next to El Niño’s armless body, but it was too late. He was dead.

“There’s no time!” Wolfsky shouted pulling Xander to his feet. He dragged Xander towards the large double doors that led to the outside. Leonard and Tajiri were already leaving, and all of the other inmates had made their way out. Now that there was nobody left, the beast inmates charged them.

“It’s too late,” Xander said to Wolfsky. “They’ll break the doors right down! We can’t possibly live through their assault.”

Suddenly Xander was in the air. He only had the chance to register that Wolfsky had thrown him from the door and outside before slamming it shut with him inside. There was a loud clang as the doors emergency system locked.

“NO!” Xander yelled getting up and slamming his fist on the door. He could see Wolfsky inside through the unbreakable glass. “Wolfsky!”

“It’s OK,” Wolfsky said with a serene smile on his face. “Get as far away as you can.”

“I won’t leave you!” Xander shouted as Leonard and Tajiri began trying to pull him away.

“Go!” Wolfsky said. “It’s time Wolfsky atoned for his sins.”

Tajiri and Leonard finally got Xander free of the door. The last Xander saw of Wolfsky was him swinging his assault rifle as a weapon against the oncoming hoard The Warden’s army.

*

Warden Greene struggled to get free. His wrists were bleeding from where they rubbed against the plastic zip ties that bound his wrists together. He refused to believe it was all over. They may have taken his journal. They may have turned his fortress against him. They may have killed everyone close to him. The one thing they couldn’t take was his mind. As long as he could somehow get away from Havenville before it burned, he could start over. 

He heard coughing from the hallway outside of his office. A thin and underfed inmate wandered in looking as if he needed a place to vomit. “Hey,” Warden Greene said. “Come over here.”

“Warden Greene!” the inmate exclaimed with a large smile. “Hail the Warden!”

“Can you get me out of here?” demanded The Warden.

“Yes,” the inmate replied glad to help. “What happened to you in here?”

“Not important,” Warden Greene said. “Get these damn ties off of me. I have important work to do! Quickly!”

“Yes,” the inmate replied gulping. “The Warden’s work is important. The Warden’s work is pure.” The inmate went on mumbling to himself as he worked getting the tape off Greene’s legs and arms. Greene felt as if he could almost stand when the inmate suddenly stopped.

“Come on!” Greene snarled. “Get me loose.”

“My insides burn!” the inmate said.

Warden Greene suddenly understood what Xander and his fool friends had done. He struggled again to get free from his bonds, but he fell to the floor. His finally got his wrists free thanks to the all the blood from his struggles. He crawled up and tried to free himself, but it was too late. The inmate crouching in his office holding his stomach exploded in an outward force of flame. The Warden was blown into a nearby wall where he died in flames.

Before he died he hoped that Xander’s prayers about there not being a Hell were true.

*

The ground shook beneath their feet. An outward blast of smoke and flame shot from the side of Max Lockup. Pieces of shrapnel and rubble fell to the ground. More explosions followed as the inmates in the underground facility exploded one by one. More smoke and flame erupted from the ground around them. The inmates that survived the massacre inside Max Lockup fled to the fortress walls where they hoped the flames of Havenville burning wouldn’t reach them. 

The ground seemed to quake again. There was another loud explosion underground, and Max Lockup fell into the earth. A thick torrent of smoke rose from the hole where Havenville used to be.

“They’ll see that all the way up in Maine,” Leonard said wiping his glasses and putting them back on his face. Xander didn’t have the energy to laugh. He slouched against the stone and brick all and sat down. It was over. Finally.

“Wolfsky saved us all,” Tajiri said. “Without him they would have gotten out and killed us all.”

“Way of the samurai,” Leonard said.

“No,” Tajiri said. “Wolfsky. A man.”

Xander sighed and looked at the ground beneath his legs. He owed these two so much, but he still couldn’t stand to hear them bickering again. El Niño was dead. Wolfsky was dead. Dozens of inmates were dead. Wolfsky didn’t give his life to save everyone. He gave it to save Xander. To ensure people knew what had actually happened inside Havenville. So that people would know that The Innocent had prevailed.

Xander didn’t look up when the sound of helicopters filled the air.


Epilogue

The days following the collapse of Havenville went by so fast that Xander noticed them in a blur. Black helicopters flew in and landed within the walls. The inmates that had taken over put down their weapons and surrendered themselves at Xander’s instruction. It would be clear that they weren’t the enemies here. Xander was certain of that much.

Xander came forward and presented himself as Peter Frost of the FBI. They held him for what seemed like days until they could establish his identity. The Warden may have destroyed the Boston field office and killed his superiors, but there was enough back up files to ensure that he was able to take his former life back. What was left of it anyway.

Weeks later, Peter Frost ran into a new employee to the FBI in the newly rebuilt Boston office.

“Xander!” Leonard yelled from across the hall.

“It’s Peter,” Peter said extending his hand.

“Oh yeah,” Leonard said shaking his hand. “I’ll have to get used to that. Nice to meet you, Peter Frost.”

“Don’t be a dick,” Peter said laughing.

“Well I see this version of you has a sense of humor at least,” Leonard said. “It’s a bit refreshing.”

“How are you liking your new job?” Peter asked.

“Great!” Leonard said. “I can’t believe you came through after all! Not that I ever doubted you would. I’ve been giving them all sorts of input wherever I can. There’s even been talk of me doing a training session with some bomb squad guys. Who would’ve thought going to prison would turn out so great.”

“I’m glad it worked out for you,” Peter said. “I really am.”

“And I’m sorry,” Leonard said quickly. “About everything. Wolfsky. You’re family. It must be hard being back on the outside after everything. You know…. Shit. I’m not good at consoling people.”

“It’s alright,” Peter said. “One day at a time. Peter Frost still doesn’t technically exist yet. It could be weeks before I’m who I should be again. Right now I’m in limbo.”

“At least you have me around to reminisce about the good ol’ days in Havenville,” Leonard said smiling again. “I just wish I could talk to Tajiri again. I’m going to miss that samurai bastard.”

“Oh yeah?” Xander asked. “What happened to him?”

“You haven’t heard?” Leonard asked puffing out his chest. “It just so happens he knew an FBI agent who was able to pull a few strings for him.”

*

Tanaka piled his money into neat stacks of ten thousand each. He then divvied out which would go to his bosses and which would go to pay the various mafias of New York. He planned on finally going back to Japan with his wife and children. There wasn’t much else for him here. He passed his work here onto his protege, Watanabe, and he would live the rest of days in the peace of his native land.

“I just got off the phone like you asked, Tanaka-san,” Watanabe said entering Tanaka’s office. “It’s confirmed. Tajiri was killed during the riots at Havenville.”

“That’s good,” Tanaka said. “The last time I saw him he had no idea of our plans. Now that he’s gone you have free reign. I always feared that he would somehow get out.”

“What of his family?” Watanabe asked.

“Since Tajiri is no longer an issue I see no reason to keep them,” Tanaka said. “Take their income and home. Throw them on the streets. Sell his daughter if you want. I no longer care. Send word to Japan that he is now dead. They should know what to do.”

“I’ve waited too long for his death,” Watanabe said. “We should have had him killed years ago!”

“You lack patience,” Tanaka said. “It comes with age and wisdom. You still had much to learn. I still fear you may not be ready, but I long to see Japan once more. I’ve grown to hate this place I once dreamed of ruling. I wish you nothing but the best in your endeavors here, but I do not envy you.”

“You do not have to, Tanaka-san,” Watanabe said. “There are plenty here that envy -”

Watanabe’s words were cut off. He looked down. There was a knife coming out of his chest. A trail of blood fell from his lips as his body fell to the ground.

Tanaka raised a gun and aimed it. “Who dares!” he called.

“Surely you remember the man who went to prison for your crimes, Tanaka-san,” Tajiri said coming from the darkness.

“Kai,” Tanaka said. “So you escaped after all. And led us to believe you were dead so we’d let our guard down. How very clever.”

“Not as clever as you, Tanaka-san,” Tajiri said stepping closer. “I admired you. Looked up to you. Was I really such a threat to you that you and Watanabe would set me up like this?”

“You do not understand,” Tanaka said. “It was all a ruse to fool the New York families. They had to believe that Watanabe had stolen the gems. We needed someone to take the fall! I needed someone I could trust to do their duty and stay in prison for the crimes.”

“So you took my little girl’s father away,” Tanaka said stepping closer. He did not fear the gun Tanaka was holding. Tanaka knew that Tajiri was too fast. “I want the address of my family, and I want it now.”

“I don’t have it,” Tanaka said.

Tanaka’s face was on his desk so suddenly he didn’t even realize it was Tajiri who had done it. The stacks of bills fell to the floor. “TELL ME!” Tajiri shouted.

“Top desk drawer,” Tanaka said in a shaky voice. “Address book. Your wife’s name is in there. I swear they are unharmed.”

“I do not doubt it,” Tajiri said. He picked Tanaka’s gun from the floor and pulled the hammer back. 

“Please,” Tanaka said not daring to move his head from the desk. “If I am to die, let me do so with honor.”

“No,” Tajiri said squeezing the trigger.

*

Peter Frost was ready to leave protective custody and start a new life when he was stopped by one of the FBI directors named Higgins. He wore a dark gray suit with a black die. He had dark hair that matched his neatly trimmed goatee. He offered Peter a cup of coffee in exchange for ten minutes of his time. Peter accepted. He really had nowhere to go anyway.

“That’s some spectacular story,” Director Higgins said. “I’ve read your report, obviously. I was very impressed.”

“I wish they all felt that way,” Peter responded. “I’ve been scolded for amassing an army of prison inmates, destroying the facility with its mounds of evidence, and killing The Warden. My mission was only to gather information.”

“There are those of us who think you did a great thing,” Higgins said. “A great thing. I wish I had more guys like you on my team.”

“What team is that?” Peter asked. He could see where this conversation was heading.

“Like I said,” Higgins continued. “I’ve read your file. I’ve also been reading up on your cellmate who helped you stage this coup. Wolfsky.”

“He was a good man,” Peter said. 

“He was,” Higgins said. “Let me ask you something. Do you know of his past? Before he entered Havenville I mean?”

Peter took a page from Wolfsky’s book and said nothing. As Xander Zane, he learned plenty about Wolfsky’s past. Not much of it he was willing to share, though.

“OK,” Higgins said. “Don’t tell me. I would’ve of respected you less if you did tell me. We know of The Organization he worked for. That is why I wanted to speak with you. I need someone who can get inside. Someone who can take them down. This is big.”

“Another black mission?” Peter asked.

“No,” Higgins replied. “This goes beyond black missions. This goes beyond anything we’ve attempted. Wolfsky’s organization goes deep. We’ve just started to scratch the surface. Peter Frost will be officially dead. Gone. For good. We need Xander Zane. A name people know. Someone who overthrew a Warden of a prison and burned it to the ground. A man an organization’s top killer put his trust in. Xander Zane has a chance to get inside and get in deep. What do you say?”

“Wouldn’t they know that Xander Zane was FBI all along?” Peter asked.

“No,” Higgins said. “We’ve taken great strides to hide your true identity. We made sure agent Kelly stopped shouting ‘Xander’ across the FBI cafeteria as well. Once Peter Frost is gone he’ll be completely off the grid. This will make a black mission look like a preschool story time.”

Peter took a sip of his coffee and put it down. He pushed it away. There was too much sugar in it. Xander Zane preferred his coffee black and bitter.

“When do I start,” Xander asked.

The Innocent Chapter 21: The Final Stand of Kit Marshall

The Innocent
Chapter 21: The Final Stand of Kit Marshall


Kit Marshall stood amongst his friends and colleagues with beads of nervous sweat on his forehead. This was it. This was the day he dreaded. For years, he was Warden Greene’s man in the general population of Havenville Penitentiary. He spotted potential subjects for his experiments as well as potential problems. The inmate that called himself Xander Zane was both.

Kit knew that he should keep an eye on Xander the day he first saw him, but he couldn’t pinpoint why. There was no doubt that Xander had the skill and mentality to become an Elite Guard or the fodder for some grand experiment of The Warden, but there was also the potential of danger.

That danger became clear the day that Kit and Dr. Dean played their little game with Xander and the Ten of Clubs in the Mess Hall. Xander had passed the test with flying colors and proved again that he had skills. The other thing that became clear is that he had made alliances, and that is what made him dangerous.

Kit and Dr. Dean both warned Warden Greene not to toy with Zane when The Warden got the information of who Zane really was. Kit argued time and time again that they should just dispose of him in the same fashion they disposed of the last FBI agent that found his way into Havenville, but The Warden just had to play his games until they turned Zane into both a martyr and a hero to the inmates. Not all of the inmates at Havenville are idiotic thieves and animals like The Warden thinks. They saw what was going on, and all they needed was a catalyst to spark them to life.

There was a reason Kit Marshall didn’t kill Xander Zane himself when The Warden asked him to do it. The cold hard fact was that Marshall was scared of him. He was scared of what he had become in the eyes of the inmates, and he was scared of what he might be if he was killed in the most vulgar of fashion.

Now, Kit Marshall’s fears were realized as he stood his ground in front of the Max Lockup facility. He nervously grasped his rifle with the inmates of Havenville barreling towards him looking for revenge in the name of Xander Zane.

He felt they deserved it.

*

Xander looked around him at the massacre that just ended. There were piles of dead wolves and torn apart inmates. Xander didn’t even want to know how many lives he just lost to this vicious pack of wolves. He bent down near the wolf closest to him and tugged on the green collar. There was a long serial number on the bottom.

“Fucked up,” Leonard’s voice said from behind him. “At least we got the gates shut.”

“I had no idea,” Xander said still kneeling in front of the dead wolf. “I was ready for anything, but this was -” Xander trailed off trying to keep whatever little food that was in his stomach from making it’s way up. There wasn’t even anything he could do for the dead. He knew from the beginning he’d have to keep moving no matter what happened. Now that the first battles were won, he wondered how long he can endure marching these men to their deaths.

“We won the battle,” Tajiri said. “We lost some of our troops, but this is a war. We’re ready to move on. The men will still follow.”

Xander looked around. Was Tajiri just saying that, or was it really true. From the looks on the inmates faces that survived the wolf attack it didn’t seem like it. If this is what The Warden can throw at them now, he didn’t want to see what they would be up against once inside Max.

“Xander,” Leonard said. “El Niño is ready with the bus. We need to rally. What else can Greene have? Flying monkeys?”

Xander made a dry chuckle. Leonard seemed the least likely to tell Xander that it was ready to rally and fight. Xander dusted off his orange pants and looked at Leonard. His face was resolute. “Give me the phone,” he said.

Leonard took the phone from his pocket and swiped at it a few times. After a moment he handed it to Xander. “Go ahead,” he said.

“This is Xander Zane,” Xander said. His voice once again boomed from every speaker in Havenville. “Your wolves are dead. We’re coming for the elite guards next. Surrender The Warden and Lockhart and this ends now. Continue to resist and we’re coming for Max.”

*

Kit Marshall grabbed his mic. He didn’t have access to the speakers that Xander currently had, but he did have the huge megaphones on the back of his jeep. With the volume turned all the way up every inmate and guard in Havenville would get his message loud and clear.

“Come on, Zane!” he shouted. “We’re waiting for you. Bring everything you got!”

Marshall threw the mic back into the cab of his jeep and returned to the line of hardened guards. The last words Warden Greene spoke to him still rang out in his mind.

*

Wolfsky ran through the halls of Max Lockup. Anarchy was ensuing on the inside, but he doubted Xander would get word of it until he finally broke in. Guards were slain and left in heaps by him and his comrade in arms. He didn’t have the luxury to offer them a safe haven like Xander did when the war began.

Wolfsky made his way downwards into the basement cells and labs that weren’t supposed to exist. He left the inmates upstairs to riot and kill as they saw fit. Some of them knew Wolfsky from when they were with him in the General Population,  others knew him by reputation, and some never heard of him. They all had one thing in common: They wanted Havenville destroyed.

Wolfsky slowed his stride so nothing would surprise him. He knew very little of this section of Havenville and had no idea on what security precautions The Warden took with his pride and joy. He pushed open door after door, but all he found was sparkling clean floors and empty labs. Finally, after what seemed like hours, Wolfsky found who he was looking for.

“Ah, patient Wolfsky,” one of the doctor’s said standing up from his desk that was covered with x-rays. The other doctors were all in the large room as well. They were all going over files, x-rays, and pictures of cut open bodies. They seemed oblivious to the chaos that currently enveloped Havenville.

“It seems like we won’t have the chance to operate on him after all,” one of the doctors said turning his head. The light reflected off the reflective disk on his forehead.

“Such a pity,” another said. “I think our friend here would have made a fantastic specimen.”

“Do you think the skeletal implants would have worked in this one?”

“But of course.”

“He could have been The Warden’s greatest weapon.”

“I think he could have been the one who took the steel core.”

“There’s still time.”

“Yes.”

“Let’s keep him alive.”

Wolfsky had enough of the doctor’s rambling. Even though they were now at his mercy, he still had his anxiety about being around them. There was something about the white coats and discs that made Wolfsky uneasy. “Line up,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky doesn’t want to waste energy chasing all of you around this office.”

“You seem to be mistaken,” the asian doctor said walking from around his desk. “You stepped into a situation that is quite dire for you.”

“Oh yes,” a robust dark skinned doctor said stepping from behind his own desk. “Dire indeed.”

“Who do you think we experimented on first?” Another said coming around his desk. “You really have no idea who we are, do you?”

“You’ll be our finest work.”

“Finest work indeed.”

Wolfsky snapped. He charged the nearest doctor and found himself flipping through the air before his hands could find his throat. He hit the ground hard and the wind escaped his lungs. He wasn’t prepared for it, and it showed. A shined black shoe pressed down on his throat, and Wolfsky struggled to breath. He tried to force the shoe off, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Clear off your desk, Doctor Crispin,” Wolfsky heard. He saw the items from the desk all clatter to the floor in the corner of his eye. He was flipped again and landed on his back on the hardwood desk.

“Doctor Vick,” Doctor Crispin said. “Hand me a scalpel.”

*

Kit licked his dry and cracked lips. Warden Greene gave him an ultimatum, and he chose the fate he felt fit him best. It was here that he would make his final stand. As much as he was beginning to regret his participation in Warden Greene’s plans, he still decided he would fight and he would die defending Havenville from the scum that occupied it.

He gripped his gun in his rough hands and willed Xander to throw everything he had at him. Only one of them would be alive at the end of the day, and Marshall felt the animalistic side of him grow aroused at the thought of some great battle. His father served and died in the Marines, and Kit always wanted to do him proud. Even if he was a washout of a soldier, at least Warden Greene saw something in him. Even if he didn’t believe in what Warden Greene was doing with the prisoners at Havenville, at least he could give his life to prove the Warden’s trust in him was correct.

As the day drew on he was given that chance to put his life on the line and prove his worth.

Suddenly the guards were fired on. Tear gas canisters and smoke bombs flew through the air from unseen assailants and landed around the guards feet. Purple and gray smoke was expelled, and the guards scrambled to put their masks on. Marshall juggled the gun and his mask as well, and that’s when he heard the motor.

He squinted through the smoke to see what was coming, but the sound was enough. There were two sets of fences between Max Lockup and the rest of Havenville, and there was no way the inmates would be able to just march right passed them. Kit Marshall was expecting something like this.

The prison bus plowed through both sets of fences. Kit saw enough through the smoke that there was some kind or large rake stemming from both sides of the front of the bus that aided in taking down the fences. The fence posts and barbed wire came down on the guards who fought to break free, but in the smoke their flailing led to death as bullets began to pour from the windows of the bus.

Kit was far enough back to not have the fences fall on his, so he began firing his rifle into the front windows of the bus hoping to hit someone on the inside. He pumped his rifle again and again as the glass fell from the bus windshield to the ground. As a gust of wind blew through the fortress and began disperessing the smoke, he saw Xander Zane running towards him with the force of his inmate army behind him.

Kit Marshall calmly reloaded.

*

The inmates rushed behind the bus that was now stuck and not moving. Xander had ordered anyone with an automatic gun to the front, and they began firing into the guards that stood their ground in front of the Max Lockup facility. Xander aimed his gun and sprayed bullets into the line of guards. Few found their marks in flesh. The guards were still heavily padded in kevlar vests and riot gear. Xander’s small army had stolen what they could from the guard’s stores, but it wasn’t enough to protect all of them.

The inmates from behind made a mad dash past those with the automatic weapons when they got to the bus. Those behind were armed with blunt weapons or stun guns and had masks that would protect them from Leonard’s smoke bombs and tear gas. They rushed the guards and pummeled them while their sight was impaired by the smoke screen. The gunman reloaded or switched to their own blunt insturments of death.

Bullets flew in every direction from the guards. Xander watched as more inmates fell to the bullets of the Elite Guard’s guns. He wished they found more armor before waging their battle. He fired his own weapon at the guards hoping to hit more than armor, but it seemed that those that rushed ahead were having more luck. Xander threw his own gun down and ran towards the melee. 

Kit Marshall took the opportunity once Xander’s gun was down and pulled his handgun from his holster. He took aim at Xander’s head and squeezed the trigger.

Nothing happened.

Kit thought his gun may have jammed, but it wasn’t his gun. He noticed a searing pain through his right arm and noticed the entire side of his body was full of nails. His gun tumbled from a hand he could no longer control. He turned to see Leonard Kelly tossing a smoking pipe to the ground and pulling another one from behind his back. He lit the fuse and aimed at Marshall once again. There was a loud pop, and Marshall’s entire front was full of nails. The body armor took most of the nails, but enough found their mark in his thick neck.

Marshall clawed at this neck to try and get the nails out, but it was too late. He tried to gasp for breath that wouldn’t come. Warm and frothy blood poured from his mouth to the earth in front of him. The only thing he regretted as he fell to the ground is that he didn’t even have the chance to curse Xander Zane with his dying breath.

*

Wolfsky struggled to free himself from the desk, but he found himself unable to move. He strained his eyes, and he was able to see a tall skinny doctor holding his legs down.

That’s impossible, Wolfsky thought. He shouldn’t be that strong.

He tried to move his arms and found them frozen as well. He used his peripheral vision and noticed one doctor holding each of his arms.

Impossible, Wolfsky thought again.

“There’s no use struggling,” the tall, gray haired doctor by Wolfsky’s feet said. 

Wolfsky felt the fear and anxiety that seemed to partner him whenever the doctors were near. He saw the gleam of a scalpel in the florescent light of the room drawing closer. He didn’t know where this fear was coming from. He was trained to push it away. He was trained not to fear. He was trained to be a machine when he needed to be one.

Think, Wolfsky, a voice in his mind said. 

Wolfsky took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He called upon the early days in his training. He reviewed his most recent memories in rapid succession.

Wolfsky’s running towards the first doctor he intended to kill. He’s flipping through the air, but there is no sensation of a blow from the doctor. Then there’s a foot on Wolfsky’s throat. Wolfsky tried to force the shoe from his throat, but to no avail. Wolfsky doesn’t feel the torque of his muscle pushing an immovable object. Then Wolfsky falls onto the hardwood desk. That’s when he notices.

Wolfsky jumped! he thinks. The doctors did nothing. It was all Wolfsky!

Now Wolfsky saw the reason for the large metal discs the doctors all wore on their heads. They weren’t paying an obscene homage to some sci-fi doctors. They were either using the discs to amplify some kind of psychic attack or using them to block the scars from when they operated on each other’s brains. Either way, Wolfsky was under the psychic attack of seven twisted doctors.

But Wolfsky was trained for this as well.

He focused his mind inwards instead of on the seven white coat wearing madmen. His body was on top of the cold desk, but his mind was back in Barbados. He was sitting under the shade of a tree sipping a cold soda with Amanda. He told her some joke and she giggled. He smiled at her laugh. If Wolfsky’s mind was back in Barbados with Amanda the doctors could not control it.

“What’s going on?” The doctor holding the scalpel inches from Wolfsky’s face asked. “Why is he smiling?”

The other doctors became nervous the moment the the last question was posed. Their psychic hold on Wolfsky wavered at that moment, and Wolfsky’s mind was his own.

Wolfsky grasped both of the doctors on his arms and pulled them together. Their heads smashed together with a slapping thud. Wolfsky released them and they fell to the ground dead. Wolfsky spun towards the doctor holding the scalpel. He moved quickly and snapped the doctor’s neck. Wolfsky took the scalpel from his hand and threw it into the neck of the doctor that was holding his feet.

Three more left, Wolfsky though moving his eyes around the large office space.

Wolfsky smiled as he went around the room to kill the last of the doctors. How long had it been since anyone had feared those who had pulsed their fear into the minds of their victims. He found one doctor behind a desk and ripped his throat out. How many victims felt nothing but forced fear as their bodies were toyed with at the whim of a madman? Wolfsky found another brandishing a lamp as a weapon. Wolfsky punched him in the chest hard enough to destroy his heart. How long had these walking vampires been allowed to live off of the fear of the inmates of Havenville. Wolfsky found the the last doctor running towards the door, but Wolfsky was quicker. He got behind the small asian doctor and picked him up by the hair. The doctor screamed in pain and flailed his feet wildly trying to shake loose Wolfsky’s grip.

“Where’s Lockhart?” Wolfsky growled as he turned the doctors face towards his.

“I don’t know,” the doctor said meekly. He was too scared to try his psychic hypnosis on Wolfsky without the aid of his six colleagues. 

“Liar!” Wolfsky said. He dropped the doctor on the floor and brought him up by his hair again. Wolfsky noted it was coming out. He wouldn’t be able to do this for long. Soon he’d have to come up with another tactic.

“He’s down two floors!” The doctor said. “He has a private lab. Please have mercy!”

“Mercy? Wolfsky said letting the doctor fall to the floor once more. “Did you give mercy to the inmates that came into your care?”

The doctor moved backwards on the floor. Trying to put distance between him and Wolfsky.

“Answer Wolfsky!”

“No!” the doctor yelled. “We did not!”

“Then you shall receive no mercy from Wolfsky!” Wolfsky said picking the doctor up by his throat. He held him in his air and watched his face as the life slowly drained from it.

*

Xander once again stood and beheld the carnage that was around him. Leonard’s bus idea worked perfectly, and the fences crushed a good number of the guards before they even got there. Now that the smoke was clear and the chaos was over, there was nothing left to do but continue into Max Lockup. There wouldn’t be any rest for him or his men until Havenville was taken or they were dead.

Xander’s men were tired. The ached. Those that survived this phase of the war picked weapons and armor from the corpses. Xander felt that familiar pang of guilt seeing them willing to fight on under his leadership, but this was their war as much as it was his. They lived under the shadow of Warden Greene long before Xander Zane came wandering through the doors of Havenville.

“What now?” Leonard asked panting. 

“You have the soul of a great warrior,” Tajiri said. “I saw you take down Marshall.”

“That was you?” Xander said with a small smile. “You’re a cold blooded killer.”

“I fight with honor,” Leonard said bowing. “Now are we going to keep flapping our gums, or are we going to get Wolfsky and kill that fucking Warden.”

There were murmurs of agreement behind Leonard, and the men started to line up once again. Xander’s small army had lost more members, but there was still enough to push forward. In truth, Xander would march into Max Lockup until every last man stopped breathing.

“Say the word,” Tajiri said.

“Break the doors in,” Xander snarled.

Xander’s army moved forward. The clouds above Max Lockup suddenly turned dark gray and swirled. A man fell from the heavens and landed in front of the large doors that led inside Max. There were wires coming from the top of his head that led up to where he came down. “STOP!” he called with a booming voice.

The inmates froze in place. They were expecting some kid of resistance, but this was well out of the range of what they were willing to believe. The only one who moved was Xander Zane.

“I’ve already seen this trick,” Xander said. “The man in my dream had the same apparatus as you do.”

The man squinted at Xander, and he felt a tingling between his eyes. “Ah yes,” the man said. “One of my predecessors. He seemed to be on your side. A former John Smith. I can tell you now that he was wrong. Havenville will definitely not end.”

“We’ll see about that,” Xander said. “Move aside.”

“You have no authority over me,” John Smith said in an eerily calm voice. “I can end your little army easily.” John Smith raised a hand and held his palm flat towards the crowd. Everyone who was in front of his palm writhed in pain and fell to the ground. 

“Stop it!” Xander shouted.

“Maybe it is you I should be destroying,” John Smith said. “If I cut off the head the body will surely die. Goodbye Xander Zane Peter Frost. It is a shame we cannot meet in person. John Smith held his palm towards Xander Zane.

Xander never felt anything more agonizing in his life.

 

The Innocent Chapter 20: The War Begins

The Innocent
Chapter 20: The War Begins

 

“Throw it!” little Christian yelled as he ran away from his father.

Peter grasped the frisbee and brought it back. “You sure you’re ready?” he asked across the green grass of the park.

“Throw it, daddy!” Christian yelled as he began running.

Peter tossed the frisbee in the direction Christian was running. He knew as soon as the frisbee was halfway between them that Christian wasn’t looking where he was running and the he would collide with the hard plastic dish. The frisbee bounced from Christian’s forehead, and he wailed with the tenacity of a four year old who thought his minor injury was the worse he’d ever face.

“DADDY!” Christian yelled as he sat down on the warm grass. His sobs echoed through the park.

“Let me see,” Peter said as he picked up his son. “That’s not that bad. You won’t even get a bump.”

Peter’s words did nothing to console his crying son. He saw his wife, Wendy, approaching from the corner of his eye. “Lunch is ready,” she said. “Anyone want a peanut butter and fluff sandwich?”

“Peanut butter fluff!” Christian shouted as his injury was instantly forgotten. Peter put him down and he ran towards the picnic blanket and lunch. Wendy gave her husband a smile and went to the blanket herself.

Peter joined his wife and son on their blanket for a lunch of sandwiches fruit punch. When lunch was done, Christian tried to catch grasshoppers while Peter sat with his wife leaning against him. Nothing felt better. He felt horrible that he would be going undercover into a meth ring in six weeks’ time and still hadn’t told Wendy. He decided to wait a little while longer. There was no need to spoil such a perfect moment.

“I love you, Mrs. Frost,” he said giving her a small squeeze.

“I love you, Mr. Frost,” Wendy replied. “We should get going soon. Christian should be exhausted.”

“One more minute,” Peter said. “I’m enjoying this.”

“OK,” Wendy said. “One more minute.”

*

Xander watched the guard towers from the rec yard. It was only seconds since he issued his final warning to the guards, but it felt like hours. Some of the guns aimed at the army of inmates wavered and went inside. Others seemed to move towards him directly. He handed the phone back to Leonard for safe keeping. 

“Xander?” El Niño asked from Xander’s side. “What’s the order?”

“Attack,” Xander said.

“The towers!” El Niño shouted. Suddenly glass bottles and canisters were thrown towards the towers. Flames and smoke bombs obstructed the view of the marksmen and they retreated to the inside. Xander had the hopes that they wouldn’t return, but he knew not all of them would accept his ultimatum. There would be those who would fight for Havenville and its insane keeper.

Bullets came wildly thought the smoke and flames of the towers. Some found their marks in the inmates, but it only intensified the rage of the others. The inmates climbed up the side of the towers with hooks and picks provided by Leonard and entered through the windows. Once inside, they fought with tenacity that Xander could not see. 

The guards weren’t the only ones with guns. The inmates were armed with the weapons Tajiri and Leonard provided as well. They fired the rifles (mostly with the salt pellets) into the guards that came rushing into the yard. The pellets weren’t enough to do any real damage, but it bought enough time so that they could be stunned or beaten unconscious by the inmates. Xander tried not to feel too bad for the general population guards. He did warn them, after all.

The inmate’s weapon cache grew with each guard that was either beaten down or gave up their weapons and willfully marched into a cell with their hands in the air. Xander and the inmates stayed true to their word that no guard that surrendered would be killed. Any of the population that didn’t want to be involved in Xander’s fight also locked themselves in their cells. Some unarmed guards even got put in cells already occupied by some of the scared inmates. It was an odd sight to see. 

The towers were taken fairly quickly, but Xander knew this would be the easier phase of taking over the prison. The step after this would be much harder. Now that the cell blocks, the yards, and the towers were taken, the next step would be marching to Max Lockup and pitting his army against Warden Greene’s elite guards. Once they got inside Max Lockup they’d face the unknown forces along with whatever Greene would try and throw at them.

It was going to be a long day.

*

Wolfsky looked up from his bed and saw the guards rushing down the hall with assault rifles in their arms, and he knew it already began. He got up and walked to his plexiglass doors and looked up and down. He expected Dr. Dean to be among those rushing back and forth, but he imagined the good doctor was huddled under some desk somewhere praying for his life. It didn’t matter to Wolfsky where Dean was hiding. He had done his part, and could die with whatever amount dignity he desired.

Wolfsky took one step back form his cell door and kicked out hard. The plexiglass doors didn’t move much under the weight of Wolfsky’s kick, and a light above his cell began to flash. He kicked it four times in quick succession before the door flew from the front of the small cell. Once free, Wolfsky rolled under the sensor of the automatic gun on the wall that was searching for him. He reached above him, grabbed the gun, and pulled with all his might. He felt as he would rip his arms from their sockets, but luckily the gun came free from the wall before it could fire. He tossed the useless gun to the ground where it put a small dent. He then walked down the block hugging the wall.

Max Lockup was still alien to Wolfsky. He didn’t know it as well as he knew the general population blocks, but he did have a great sense of direction. He knew if he moved in the direction he was moving he would find the stairwells that would lead him downwards to the subbasement of Havenville where the doctors operated and the Warden and Lockhart did their sick experiments. Wolfsky was interested in getting down there and shutting down the Warden’s operations, but not before getting a small army together of his own. 

All he needed to start was a set of keys from one of the guards on this floor.

“Freeze,” a guard behind Wolfsky shouted. “One more and you’re dead!”

Wolfsky smiled.

“What’s our next move?” Tajiri asked. They were back inside the main cell blocks of the general population. All the guards were either beaten, killed, or locked in the cells. The various weapon cache’s were emptied and divvied out per Leonard’s orders. This part of Havenville Penitentiary now belonged to Xander Zane.

“The only other target is Max,” Xander said. “The elite guard will be sure to fight us between here and there. After that we have to expect some shit like we saw the day of the riot.”

“It nearly killed the four of us,” Tajiri said. “After it killed six skinheads, it nearly took Wolfsky’s head off. I’m lucky I didn’t pass out from exhaustion just dodging its blows. How many more of those do we stand to face?”

“I have no idea,” Xander answered. “But we have bigger numbers and better weapons this time around.”

“I hope you’re right,” Tajiri said. “We can’t count on Leonard’s brain to get us out of another fight like that one.”

“Can’t we?” Xander asked thinking.

*

“How many assault rifles did we get?” Leonard asked as the guns and ammunition came out of the guard towers and into the yard. Things were quiet, but Leonard knew they wouldn’t be for long.

“Twenty four,” a skinhead said carrying one of her shoulder. “Some are locked up too tight. We’re working on opening the cabinet of small arms. Not not a lot of ammo for any of ’em if we can’t find a key or break it open. We’ll be lucky if we don’t end up tossing the guns before we’re done.”

“It’s still a lot more than what we planned on working with,” Leonard said. “Keep at those locks. Try and find a guard with keys. Bastards probably flushed them down a toilet. Where’s El Niño?”

“Right here, boss,” El Niño said coming up behind Leonard. “Xander said you were looking for me.”

“Good,” Leonard said. “Did you get the bus?”

“We got it,” El Niño said beaming. “All gassed up and ready. There’s nowhere to really drive to, though. Not with the main gates still locked up.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Leonard said. He took a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to El Niño. 

El Niño opened up the paper and looked it over. “Are you serious?” he asked. “Can we really do this?”

“Yes,” Leonard said. “Most of those materials are around the yard and garages. Flip the paper over and there’s a list of locations you can find them. It’ll be crude, but we only need it to work once. Take four guys with you. That should be enough. No more than six or you’ll be climbing over each other.”

“Shit,” El Niño said. “You crazy, man. I’m on it.”

*

Getting into the guard’s control room was the hard part. Wolfsky only needed to pull the-wall mounted guns from the wall near his own cell. Once he was out, he was able to easily dodge the others. Once he had a tag from the dead guard’s chest that identified him as non-hostile, he was able to move around easier as long as the badge wasn’t deactivated. Wolfsky guessed he had ten minutes before he’d be in danger again.

The computerized controls were tricky, but Wolfsky was able to figure them out easily. He supposed he could have gotten it done quicker, but the killed every guard that got in his way. If he let any guard live it would mean the end of his little crusade to help Xander from inside Max Lockup.

Xander hit the button that would release the inmates that he was passing messages to via Dr. Dean. The inmates left their plexiglass cells cautiously. Quite a few looked as if they expected the guns to start firing on them, but Wolfsky deactivated them first. When he was done with his task, he left the security office. Once he was outside of the door he ripped the panel off the wall. It tore from the metal wall in a shower of sparks and smoke. 

Wolfsky walked with his newly obtained stun gun ahead of him to collect his troops.

*

“What in the name of God is going on out there?!” Warden Greene shouted. He was watching his wall of monitors as the general population took over. “I thought you were going to take care of Zane?”

“I did,” Marshall said. “I made a spectacle of it like you asked too. The Ten of Clubs approached him in the Mess Hall. All of them! We had no idea Zane gathered so much backup.”

“You idiot!” Greene shouted throwing his lamp at Marshall who had to move to keep from getting hit in the head. “You should’ve put a bullet in his head! You trust these animals to take care of each other? I asked you to do this! Not to delegate it!”

“I’m sorry -”

“Get out of my sight,” Greene said. “He’s coming for Max. He’s coming for me. Get out there and stop him or die trying.”

Warden Greene sat down in his chair and waited silently for Marshall to walk out of his office. “I’m so close,” he said. “So close.”

Greene massaged his temples for a moment before picking up his phone. “Get me Lockhart,” he said.

*

“How are we looking?” Xander asked Leonard. He had spent the last ten minutes making sure the injured were tended to and the remainder was getting into formation to lead to Max.

“The bus should be ready on time,” Leonard replied. “We got more guns than we expected but not too much ammo. I’m urging the men to use only when it’s necessity. Not too many injuries.”

“The towers are ours,” Tajiri said. “We’ve secured them. Any guard or Havenville employee is bound or locked up. We won’t have any more problems from our perimeter.” 

The main gates slowly opened, and Xander turned to look with the others. “What’s going on?” he asked. 

“I don’t know,” Leonard replied. “Could someone in the towers have opened them?”

“Some of the inmates could be using the chaos as an excuse to escape,” Tajiri said.

“Idiots,” Leonard said. “Don’t they realize what’s out there?!”

Xander suddenly realized that he’d been way too focused on what was inside Havenville and never asked what surrounded it. “Leonard,” he nervously started. “What is out there?”

Leonard didn’t have a chance to answer. A large pack of wolves rushed in through the gate. Xander only registered the green and yellow collars before the wolves began attacking anyone unfortunate to get in their way.

“Holy shit!” Leonard yelled. Tajiri pushed Leonard behind him and took his small, curved sword from his belt scabbard. 

“Tajiri,” Xander said getting his stun gun ready. “Get Leonard to the towers. Get those gates closed.”

Tajiri nodded once and started to move towards the towers with Leonard on his heels. A wolf lashed out from between two inmates, but Tajiri was one step quicker and cut the wolf’s throat open. The wolf fell to the ground where it died on its side with its leg twitching. The pair moved quickly towards the tower door.

Xander had to take his attention away from Tajiri and Leonard. The pack of gray wolves were tearing their way through the inmates. He aimed his stun gun at a wolf that was coming near him after ripping the throat from an inmate next to him and gave the beast a full dose. The wolf fell to the ground twitching and smoking. 

The other inmates began to follow suit and started shooting whatever they had at the wolves. Salt rounds found their marks in the faces of wolves who started snarling and biting blindly. Inmates clubbed and slashed at the pack with whatever weapons they were holding, but more were coming in. Xander was horrified when he noticed what they were doing. 

The wolves were surrounding their prey.

*

Wolfsky’s small group of solider made quick work of the Warden’s elite guards. Wolfsky had killed seven or so himself. His group started out with sixteen members, but he was down to eleven. They moved quickly and quietly. Wolfsky chose them specifically for this mission. He knew they were in here based on The Chaplain’s notes, and he made use of each one (minus those that had been taken for experiments).

Wolfsky approaches a door he was hoping to avoid, but decided to venture inside now that it was in front of his face. He tried the door handle and wasn’t surprise to find that the room had been locked from the outside. He pushed the door, and it opened under the pressure from his left arm. He let the door swing open slowly.

Here was the room where Wolfsky devised his plan to set Max Lockup into chaos from the inside. Here was where he spoke with Dr. Dean all those times and sent out messages to the inmates to let them know that Wolfsky was going to lead them into bloody glory. This was the empty office of Dr. Dean.

“Are you in, doctor?” Wolfsky asked the seemingly empty room.

Dr. Dean’s head popped up from behind his desk. “Wolfsky!” he said. “Thank God. I didn’t get out in time. I’m stuck until this fight is over.”

“Have you gotten word on what’s going on outside?” Wolfsky asked.

“It’s complete anarchy!” Dr. Dean said. “It’s Xander! He took over the general population and the towers. He’s really doing it!”

“Of course he is,” Wolfsky said stepping closer to Dr. Dean. “What’s the last thing you heard?”

“The inmates were laying in wait in the rec yards and common areas,” Dr. Dean said. “The Warden and his Elite Guards couldn’t figure out what they were planning next, so the Warden gave the order to override the main gate and let the wolves in.”

Wolfsky stopped. He knew of the packs of wolves that Warden Greene had under his control from The Chaplain. The woods outside the fortress walls of Havenville were more dangerous than inside. There were hidden cameras and guns as well, but The Warden liked his pets that circled the prison in search of fresh meat.

“He’s sick!” Dr. Dean said coming out from behind his desk. Wolfsky was a little shocked to see him so scared. He wasn’t even this shade of white when Wolfsky was threatening his life. “The Warden! This is only the tip of the iceberg! You have to get me out of here. Take me with you. Get me in a car and I can drive to safety. I’ll call for help. I’ll call the FBI! I swear I will. Please help me!”

Wolfsky reached out and wrapped his large fingers around Dr. Dean’s throat. “Wolfsky is done with you,” he said. “You are to blame for much of The Warden’s evil. You warped the minds of men to suit your own curiosities. You’re also a coward who won’t take the blame for his part in the Warden’s evils. Resolve yourself to die like a man, and Wolfsky will make it quick.”

Wolfsky relinquished his grip on Dr. Dean’s throat and he fell to the floor. He knelt on the floor in front of Wolfsky for a moment fighting the urge to crawl away and hide again, but he knew Wolfsky wouldn’t let him. He knew what this man was capable of, and didn’t want to find our how much pain he could really inflict. 

Dr. Dean also knew that Wolfsky was right. The was only one absolution for his sins. He stood up and looked Wolfsky in the eyes. “Do it,” he said winning against the urge to curl up and sob. “Make it quick.”

Wolfsky’s hands turned into blurs, and Dr. Dean’s vision went black.

*

The wolves circled the large group of inmates. Xander was glad so many were inside the prison, and morbidly wondered who would lead the rest if he were to fall so early in his crusade to take Havenville and kill its master. Leonard? Tajiri? Would anyone take up his mantle, or would the Warden systematically kill each inmate in some twisted fashion or another?

Xander took aim with his stun gun again at the moving wolves. They picked up their pace and moved closer, herding the men as if they were doe. Xander took aim at a wolf, and fired the stun gun. At full blast it would nearly kill a full size human, and  it made quick work of the wolf that died in a heap of fur and smoke. Two more charged Xander after he made his kill, and he quickly tossed down his stun gun while it recharged. He took the knife from his wrist and and readied himself for the attack.

Shots rang out in the yard. The two wolves that were approaching quickly on Xander were dead and bleeding by his feet. He looked up and saw the inmates that had taken the towers aiming sniper rifles and automatic weapons at the ground below.

“Fire!” Xander shouted. “Shoot them all!”

More shots rang out in the rec yard. The barrage of bullets cut through the circling pack of wolves. The men on the ground used their clubs, knives, or whatever they had to beat the wolves as they lunged and attacked. Xander wasn’t worried about the men getting hit by bullets. There was no time to do this carefully. He saw someone get hit in the leg with a bullet, and went down where three wolves quickly attacked, showing no remorse whatsoever for the wounded.

Xander bent and picked his stun gun again. He fired it into the three wolves that were thrashing their kill. At full blast, the stun gun was enough to get all three. Xander began to sweat as more bullets bit into wolf hides. They didn’t have much ammo, and they still needed to storm Max Lockup. Their efforts will end in death the Leonard couldn’t close the gate.

With the inmates raining bullets from the towers and the inmates fighting relentlessly, the wolves didn’t stand a chance. The problem was: there were just too many of them. A dead wolf was a drop in the bucket compared to a dead inmate. Xander needed every man he could get, and the wolves had already killed a dozen or more, and that was only what Xander could see from where he held his ground.

Xander turned and looked at the gate. It was closing! Leonard was able to override it up after all. A few more wolves rushed in as the large gates closed with a clank. The wolves on the opposite side began to howl, and Xander felt chills he had no time to feel run down his back.

The battle with the wolves didn’t last much longer. Once the gates were closed and the wolves’ numbers were thinned, they went from surrounding to attacking. A normal group of men would have been culled and killed easily, but these were not normal men. These were the inmates of Havenville Penitentiary. 

*

“You wanted to see me?” Lockhart asked as if he didn’t know what was going on outside.

“Things changed,” Greene said. “We need to release them now.”

“They haven’t been properly tested yet!” Lockhart pleaded.

“This is the test!” Greene said. “We have a small hoard of inmates approaching us as we speak. If they survive the wolves and the Elite Guards at the gate, we need to be ready for them.”

“They can be ready in minutes,” Lockhart said. “Is it Zane?”

Greene’s face twisted. If any other man had asked him that in such a mocking tone he’d be dead, but Lockhart didn’t hold back when he spoke to Greene. It was one of the reasons he respected Lockhart so much. “Yes,” he answered. “It’s Zane.”

“He’s wilier than we thought,” Lockhart said. “I have one more weapon we can use to put an end to his existence before he gets to you.”

“I have a backup plan,” Greene said. “I always do.”

“But you’ll like this one,” Lockhart said. “You’ve been dying to try it.”

“Really?” Greene said. “He’s ready?”

“Oh yes,” Lockhart said smiling. It was clear he was actually relishing this moment. “The final John Smith is ready.”

 

The Innocent Chapter 19: Patterns

The Innocent
Chapter 19: Patterns

 

“How many?” Xander asked.

“Seventeen,” answered Rohan. “Maybe a few more.”

“So let’s say twenty to be safe,” Xander said. “At this point we can’t count on them stunning us and dragging our unconscious bodies into empty cells.”

“No,” Rohan said. “After the riot, they’ll be shooting to kill.”

Xander looked over the crudely drawn map of Havenville laying on Rohan’s bunk. The spent the last two weeks plotting a battle within the walls of Havenville Penitentiary. The main problem they kept looking around to was what to do about the guards.

“That’s only twenty up front,” Xander said. “We’re not counting what happens after we get past the initial wave.”

“We can always kill first before they can sound the alarm,” Rohan suggested.

Xander sighed. He was clear that he wanted to spare as many of the guards as possible with the exception of those who were in Warden Green’s pocket. “I’d still like to spare as many lives as possible,” he said. “On both sides. There’s a large number of men who are just here working to feed their families. Not all the guards are as nasty as Rockwell or Marshall. If only we can have them stand down.”

“I think I can help with that,” Leonard said standing up and looking over the map. “Tajiri and I have been working on the P.A. system. If I can get my hands on a couple of cell phones I should be able to hack into them. You’d just have to make a call and the entirety of Havenville will hear you.”

“I can get you a couple of phones,” Rohan said. “But they’ve always been guard issue, so be careful they won’t use them to track you.”

“I can disable a tracking chip easily enough,” Leonard said smugly. 

“How are you and Tajiri making out with the weapon cache?” Xander asked. Leonard and Tajiri had been going back and forth from the hiding place of the weapons randomly so the guards wouldn’t notice any kind of a pattern. Tajiri and Wolfsky were able to hide six rifles, ten boxes of shells, ten boxes of salted pellet rounds, twenty batons, a case of zip ties, various flash and gas grenades, and a case of duct tape. Xander was amazed at how much they were able to run off with before they had to come to his rescue.

“All counted up and moved,” Leonard said. “Tajiri and I are the only ones who know where it all is.” This was Tajiri’s idea. He had many hiding places around Havenville where he hid the various weapons and devices. It was his belief that if one of their hiding places was found it was better to lose some than all. Xander saw the wisdom in his logic.

Moving around Havenville had been harder since the riot. Inspectors and officials from the State Corrections Department had been in and out of the prison frequently and randomly. Between the chaos around the day of the chapel fire and the riot  Warden Greene had his hands full with officials from the states. Xander took a bit of pride knowing what a headache he caused Greene. He was hoping it bought Wolfsky a little more time in Max Lockup.

*

“How are you doing with the others?” Wolfsky asked.

“Fairly well,” Dr. Dean said. “A few of them took a little bit of gas and hypnosis, but they won’t cause a problem.”

“Good,” Wolfsky said. He smiled to himself. He could see his quickly made plan falling into place. He didn’t intend to be imprisoned in Max Lockup for much longer. It was true that he was closer to Lockhart than he would ever be in the General Population, but Wolfsky would have a harder time getting to him. Also, he’d have to put his trust in this man. He would be able to tell if Dean was being deceptive to him, but he couldn’t know what he was up to when he was out of Wolfsky’s sight.

“These instructions are strange though,” Dr. Dean said. “It would almost seem like you are trying to escape.”

“You have been a willing and able accomplice,” Wolfsky said. “But please do not question Wolfsky’s motives.”

“That’s not it,” Dr. Dean said. “I would think you would go down towards the bowels of this facility. That’s where Lockhart’s quarters are.”

Wolfsky smiled again. He knew damn well where Lockhart’s quarters were. He had no intention to kill Lockhart in his quarters. He knew what Xander had in mind for Havenville. Even though Wolfsky’s letter had encouraged him against vengeance and coming for him, he knew better. He knew Xander’s target would be Max Lockup and those inside. He would come.

And he’d bring an army.

*

Xander walked down the center of A Block with Tajiri by his side. He had just come from a meeting with El Niño regarding the Chicanos role in what was coming. They were more than willing to help out, and had gotten even more people to the cause. There was only one thing that was worrying him at the moment, and Tajiri was thinking the same thing.

“Do you really think you can keep this a secret with so many people involved?” Tajiri asked.

“I don’t think it’s much of a secret any more,” Xander said under the watchful gaze of two guards. It could have been his imagination, but he thought he saw one them grip their stun gun a little tighter. “I just think they don’t think we’ll pull the trigger. How’s Leonard?”

“He’s doing better,” Tajiri said. Xander hadn’t asked Leonard directly, but he was still getting over the things he had done. He had killed the beast of a man that attacked them in the C Block the day of the riot, and he had burned the body of the guard Xander and Tajiri killed in order to gain the trust of The Chaplain’s Network. He had seem some crazy stuff in Havenville, but up until Xander came into his life they were all in the background. Now he was a full player.

“He doesn’t have to go along,” Xander said. “We can hide him until it’s over.”

“He knows,” Tajiri said quickly. This was a conversation they had often. Xander still had a lot of guilt about asking Tajiri and Leonard for their help, but they refused to let Xander go off and do this on his own. “He may act like a clown most times, but he is a man of honor. Wolfsky saw that in him as well.”

“Wolfsky saw better than most of us,” Xander said. He had told Tajiri (along with Leonard) pieces of Wolfsky’s story, but not the whole thing. He was still keeping the murder of the three girls a secret along with Wolfsky’s true intention for being in Havenville. The journal that had all the evidence was burned the morning after Xander read it.

“We’ll get him out,” Tajiri said. “With luck we’ll all leave here alive. No matter what it takes. When this is all over we’ll toast to the innocent as free men.”

“When this is all over,” Xander said. “I’m walking out of the front doors with the flames of Havenville to my back.”

*

“What the hell do these inspectors think they’ll find?” Warden Greene shouted to a room occupied with only himself, Rockwell, and Kit Marshall. “They stop in unexpectedly over and over and look at the same goddamn things!”

“They’re looking for patterns,” Rockwell said. “Or the changes from the norm. Once they pinpoint something they’ll focus on that one aspect until they can tear it apart.”

“Well they’re holding me up!” Greene said. “My final phase is nearly complete, and I’m busy waltzing with Tom and Dick and Sally and Bob from the goddamn State trying to find out why a chapel burned down and we had a riot. These are animals! You can’t blame me if they act like it!”

“We’re trying to keep them out of your hair,” Marshall said. “You have no idea how many times we’ve been asked the same questions.”

“Patterns,” Rockwell said. “Once they see it change they’ll pounce on it.”

“Fuck them and their patterns!” Warden Greene said.

“We do the same thing,” Marshall said. “When the inmates defer from their normal patterns we know something is up. If a particular group doesn’t go into the mess hall at the same time or a normal quartet is seen split up. Etcetera.”

“And what are the patterns of Havenville telling you now?” Warden Greene asked sarcastically.

“That’s the problem,” Marshall said. “Since the riot, there haven’t been any.” 

“We should move in on the group causing the problems,” Rockwell suggested. “They’re planning something. They have to be.”

“Their battle?” Warden Greene asked. “Their war?”

“It’s not too late,” Rockwell said. “Cut off a snake’s head and the body will rot.”

“Rockwell’s crude analogy aside, we can’t afford to have Zane running the network,” Marshall said. He had been nagging Greene for days about Xander Zane taking up some kind of inmate hero mantle. “Rumor is that he’ll move against the guards soon, but we can’t do anything with these inspectors snooping around.”

“I’ve had enough of these problems with the general population,” Warden Greene said. “They want a battle? They can have it. Kill Zane. Our game is no longer fun, and I’m tired of hearing Lockhart tell me so. Once he’s out, I’m wiping out the rest of the vermin. I don’t care how you do it, and I don’t care about any other casualties.”

“Consider it done,” Marshall said.

“One more thing,” Warden Greene said. “Make a spectacle out of Zane.”

*

Xander and Leonard listened to Chad speak. It had been several months since the Neo-Nazi had stitched him up after he was attacked by the Ten of Clubs. Since then Leonard and the skinheads had a bit of a falling out when they tried to take him into enslavement during the riots. The men that actually tried to take Leonard were killed in the process of their attempted kidnapping, so Xander was very surprised when they contact Leonard to meet him and Xander.

“I think we can put all of that unpleasantness behind us,” Chad said with his hands folded in front of him.

“Oh yeah,” Leonard said. “After all I did for you guys. You still tried to drag me off and make me the Nazi’s bitch.”

“Calm down, Leonard,” Xander said softly. He didn’t want them to draw attention from any wandering guards. Meetings like these were getting harder and harder to make. They were lucky they found an empty TV room with only one guard stationed outside.

“No,” Leonard said. “Fuck him!”

“He’s right,” Chad said. “I never wanted this either. I was a doctor on the outside. Well, in training to be a doctor, but that didn’t matter in here. I had the skills to stitch up these guys after a fight or two, and I used that to buy my protection. Much like you. Before  too long, they decided working freelance wasn’t good enough. They had to have me one hundred percent of the time.”

“Sounds familiar,” Leonard said with his arms crossed. “Then what’s up with all those swastika tattoos? Think they were pretty on the other guys?”

“I had to,” Chad said. “When they want you, you’re either with them all the way or you’re dead. I only have two more years left in here. Can you imagine me trying to open a practice with a giant swastika on my arm. Jesus!”

“That doesn’t explain why you wanted to meet,” Xander said painfully aware of how long Chad’s story was and how limited their time could be.

“Sorry,” Chad said. “I just wanted Leonard to know that I had nothing to do with what happened during the riot. It was Buford’s idea. He gathered the guys up and went after you. I had nothing to do with it.”

“We’ve established that,” Xander said. “I want to know why we’re here now.”

“Right,” Chad said. “Word is you’ve taken over The Chaplain’s network.”

“That’s right,” Xander said.

“There’s also word of you looking to enlist people,” Chad said. “That you’re building an army.”

Leonard laughed loudly at this. “An army?” he asked. “Are you nuts? Xander, we can’t trust this guy.”

Xander looked into the eyes of Chad. He called on his skills as an FBI agent once again to determine whether or not Chad was trustworthy. He’d dealt with a lot of men who weren’t, and could usually tell when to trust someone. The problem with Havenville was that everyone was well practiced liars.

“How many are you?” Xander asked.

“Twenty that I know want in,” Chad said. “Another fifteen or more that would probably go along with the group.”

“I’ll be in touch,” Xander said. “But not directly. Have any weapons ready. It’ll happen quickly.”

*

“I want to apologize for the way I’ve acted,” El Niño said. Xander had chosen to meet him on his own. Especially without Leonard who would giggle under his breath when El Niño inevitably would begin trying to woo Xander. “It was crass. You understand, right? It was all in fun.”

“It’s alright, El Niño,” Xander said. “It was all in fun.”

“You can call me Hector,” El Niño said. “There’s no need for formality.”

“I guess there isn’t,” Xander said. “What did you do on the outside, Hector?”

“Like for work?” El Niño asked. “I flipped burgers and lived in my moms basement in New Haven.”

“No,” Xander said. “Why are you in here?”

“Oh,” El Niño said. “Just gang shit. Me and some of my boys used to hang around the neighborhood. We’d harass kids and occasionally snatch some purses. When we got older and burger money wasn’t worth it no more, we started dealing. Just weed mostly. Some of my boys started dealing some other shit. Coke and H. Some of them got their hands on some crack too.”

“Is that why you’re in here?” Xander asked.

“Nah,” El Niño said. “Some dealer was harassing my boy. I carried my gun on me for protection, but I was high as fuck and took a shot at this guy. He just wouldn’t leave my boy alone. I shot the guy right in his fucking head. All of a sudden Dixwell AVE was all blue and red lights. Mother fucker was an undercover pig.”

“You killed a cop?” Xander asked surprised.

“Hell yeah,” El Niño said. “Lawyer tried to get me a shorter sentence since the pig was harassing us. Said I was provoked into taking the shot. Didn’t work, though. Still got me a lifetime sentence in this shit hole. I got a shit load of cred up in here for it, though. That’s one of the reasons I was able to take over the Chicanos.”

“And now you fancy yourself a warrior or something?” Xander asked.

“Nah,” El Niño said. “Nothin’ like that. I see what’s happening in here. Guys disappear into Max, and then they’re dead. Just like that. Then that guy comes up in here blasting at you guys with electricity from his hands and shit. It’s nuts. We just want to stand up with you.”

“I won’t stop you,” Xander said. “But you have to know not all of us are going to survive.”

“We know,” El Niño said. “We’d rather die fighting than wait for The Warden to drag us out of our beds.”

“Good,” Xander said. “That’s what I was hoping to hear.”

*

“I have fourteen more,” Tajiri said entering Xander’s cell two steps ahead of Leonard.

“Fourteen more what?” Xander asked.

“Men,” Tajiri said. “Yakuza. Or former. They figure they can gather some more as well. They are also fed up with this prison.”

“I didn’t know you knew anyone on the inside,” Xander said.

“You think I am the only one?” Tajiri asked.

“The lone ninja works alone and in darkness,” Leonard said moving his lips after he spoke.

“I never reached out before,” Tajiri said ignoring Leonard’s rib. “But once I did they treated me as a brother.”

“Tajiri even had some of their toilet sake,” Leonard said. “They fermented rice in the toilet!”

“They did not,” Tajiri said. “They smuggled it from the outside.”

“Even better,” Leonard said. “Butt-sake!”

“What else can they get?” Xander said eager to end Leonard and Tajiri’s routine.

“Makeshift molotovs mostly,” Tajiri said. “They also bring a wide range of skills as well.”

“Excellent,” Xander said. “We can use them. Will they listen to you?”

“They should,” Tajiri said. “They respect what I did for Tanaka. They clearly see that I am a man of -”

“Honor,” Leonard finished. “We know.”

*

The day the war started began like any other. Tajiri had been working with El Niño and the Chicanos on bringing weapons to the mass of inmates when the battle started. Leonard was preparing a new slew of weapons and surprises for the coming battle. They had precious little time, but they were well prepared for what they were forced to work with. There was only one group of inmates Xander didn’t approach.

The Ten of Clubs marched past the guards in the Mess Hall. The guards turned and left leaving only the guards in the rafters who were armed with salt pellets and tear gas (they had long disassembled the canisters in the ceiling). There were more than twenty of them walking with a purpose. Xander knew them well by now. He had been fed plenty of information from The Chaplain’s network. The leader’s name was Jermaine, but the inmates only called him Jackal.

“Zane!” Jackal called as the mess hall went silent. He was as scary looking as his reputation made him out to be. He had a face full or scars and a nose that must have been broken many times. It was the face of someone hardened on the streets before he became a God of Havenville. He pulled a rusty blade from his sleeve. It could have been made from an old jigsaw blade stolen from the wood shop. “You is one dead mutha fucka! You crossed the path of the Ten of Clubs one too many times.”

Xander stood up and walked towards Jackal. He made no move to fight. “One chance is all I will give you,” he said. “Leave now and you may live.”

Jackal threw his head back and laughed. The sound echoed through the silent mess hall. “You crazy?” he asked. “You gonna take me and my boys on all by yoself?”

“No,” Xander said. Suddenly every chair in the Mess Hall was empty. Every man stood up and stared at the twenty or so Ten of Club members that stood between them and the only way in or out. Tajiri stood to his right with Leonard directly behind him. “Your move, Jackal.”

Jackal surveyed the room with rage in his eyes. “No matter if I kill one faggot or a hundred,” he said. “Yo ass dies today!” Jackal lunged at Xander with the blade in his hand. He was aiming for Xander’s throat, but he moved like liquid and twisted Jackal’s wrist. The blade fell, and Xander caught it by the handle. He brought his hand up like lightning and pushed the blade into Jackal’s chest. He felt is slide in between his ribs.

“That’s for Wells,” Xander whispered as Jackal began to descend towards the cold floor where he would die with a look of utter surprise on his twisted face. “The rest of your boys are for me.”

The other members of the Ten of Clubs looked as surprised as their now dead leader looked. “Leonard,” he said softly. “Get El Niño and start arming as many people as possible. Get the phone and meet me in the rec yard. Tajiri, grab who you can and take care of the guards. Try not to kill them.”

Both men nodded in agreement. Xander could almost feel the tension in the air. Every moment since Wolfsky was taken led up to this moment. The inmates of Havenville Penitentiary were finally poised to take over. The Warden had lorded over them all and backed them into the preverbal corner, and it only took a man called Xander Zane to motivate them and form them into a small army. All they needed now was the word.

“Kill them,” Xander snarled, and his army converged on the Ten of Clubs.

*

Xander was amazed at how efficiently his makeshift army performed. Even with the guards searching everyone on a regular basis, most of his men seemed to have been able to keep some kind of weapon on them. When the moved in on the Ten of Clubs, it was barely a fair fight. He reached down and pulled the rusted blade out of Jackal’s chest and began hacking his way into the crowd as well. The jagged blade bit into flesh and scraped against bone as he killed any Ten of Club he could find.

The guards above them began firing the salted pellet rounds into the crowd. They didn’t wield much damage other than some broken skin and very painful wounds, but they were effective at slowing a few of the men down. Tajiri and a few other Yakuza members snuck to the top and made quick work of the guards. When they were knocked out they tossed the rifles, stun guns, and clubs to the crowd below.

The Ten of Clubs numbers were diminished rapidly. Now that the inmates had better weapons, the work went quickly. Leonard was able to find his hole and ran out of the Mess Hall (the guards ignored him on his way out when they thought he was fleeing for his life). One of the inmates who caught a rifle aimed it one of the guards and fired a round of salted pellets into his chest. It wasn’t enough to break through his gear, but it flung him backwards where the inmates were able to strip him of his stun gun and other weapons.

Two other guards were hit with stolen stun guns and fell to the floor. They too were ransacked and dragged to empty cells where they were to be locked up (per Xander’s orders). Another guard was maced before he could begin firing into the crowd as they marched over the bodies of the Ten of Clubs and into the halls. 

The halls and cell blocks of Havenville Penitentiary were once again thrown into chaos as Xander marched with the inmates surrounding him. Some of the guards were putting themselves into cells and passing their weapons and zip ties through the bars. Xander smiled to them as he passed.

Xander walked outside to the rec yard where Leonard was waiting for him. El Niño had already given his orders to grab the weapons that Tajiri and the Chaplain’s Network had placed all around Havenville. They stood in the rec yard as the guards in the towers aimed their assault rifles down at them. All they needed was an order or an excuse to fire.

“Is it ready?” Xander asked Leonard.

“Here it is,” Leonard handed Xander a cell phone. It had been opened and crudely put back together, but Xander wasn’t concerned about how it looked. “Hold the button on the side and talk.”

Xander pressed the button and the phone shut off.

“Shit,” Leonard said snatching it back from Xander’s hand. “Hold on a second.”

Leonard pressed buttons and fiddled with phone as Xander noticed how tense the guards in the tower were getting. They were obviously nervous for what was coming. Xander wondered nervously why they were hesitating. Finally Leonard took the battery out and put it back in. After staring at the screen for a moment he handed it back to Xander.

“Alright?” Xander asked.

“Should work now,” Leonard said with a smile.

Xander held the button on the side and suddenly all of the P.A. speakers were alive with static. Xander could hear the breeze on the P.A. as it brushed the mouth piece of the phone. He considered for a moment to announce his real name and FBI credentials, but remembered that Peter Frost was dead. The men didn’t follow Peter Frost the FBI agent to battle. They followed Xander Zane their equal.

“My name is Xander Zane, and I’m here to take back Havenville. Warden Greene is an evil man and not who he says he is. The truth is that Warden Daniel Greene is really super-criminal Hugo Keene. He’s been conducting experiments on the inmates here for years, and we came together to put an end to it.

“I know most of the guards here are family men, so I am pleading with you directly. Step down and hide. Run if you have to. If you fight for this madman, you will die. If you resist us in any way, we will consider you on his side and kill you. Lay down your guns and leave. 

“This will be your only warning.” 

 

The Innocent Chapter 18: Wolfsky on the Outside

The Innocent
Chapter 18: Wolfsky on the Outside

 

“Have you thought more about opening up during our sessions?” Dr. Dean asked.

Wolfsky looked into the face of Dr. Dean. He had thought about opening up more. Mostly out of fear than anything else. There were a few things on this earth that scared Wolfsky, but the way those doctors were sizing him up in the middle of the night downright terrified him. He decided to play a little of Dr. Dean’s game. If not to keep the other doctors at bay, at least to keep his sanity in check.

Among Wolfsky’s other reason.

“Are you thinking about it or being defiant again?” Dr. Dean asked scribbling notes in his pad.

“Can Wolfsky ask you something?” Wolfsky asked.

“You can,” Dr. Dean said. “But seeing as I am your psychiatrist, I may professionally decline to answer.”

“Wolfsky thinks you will,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky has you figured out. Part of Wolfsky’s job before Wolfsky was arrested was sizing up targets. You read Wolfsky’s file.”

“Some time ago,” Dr. Dean answered. “I was quite fascinated with you when you first entered Havenville. I admittedly still am. Which is why I’d like to take this opportunity to get to know you. To try and help you.”

“You know there is no helping Wolfsky,” Wolfsky said. “You now about what they are doing here. You know about the experiments. You know who Warden Greene really is and what he’s capable of. Wolfsky has seen you year after year after year dogging his shadow along with Kit Marshall. Wolfsky knows what Marshall is after. He likes the abuse he gives the inmates. He gets off on it. Wolfsky couldn’t tell what you got out of it, though.”

“What I get out of my job isn’t relevant,” Dr. Dean said. Wolfsky could tell he hit the nerve he was digging for.

“But it is,” Wolfsky said. “Is this what you wanted to do when you agreed to take this top secret job with Greene or whoever he was before he was Daniel Greene. What was it that drove you to work with such a despicable human? The experience? The chance to go further than you would’ve been allowed on the outside? In the end, do you really think Greene will let you keep your notes? Your experience? Your life?”

Dr. Dean put his pen and pad down. He removed his glasses and looked into Wolfsky’s face intently. “I know what you’re doing,” he said. “You don’t come as far as I have and not know when someone is attempting to manipulate you. I applaud you. It has been a while since someone has been able to illicit such a reaction from me. Tell me, Wolfsky, how much do you know about Warden Greene?”

Wolfsky smiled. “So now Wolfsky has something in his head that you really want,” he said.

“Perhaps,” Dr. Dean said. “Usually I have the means to take it, but you have the ability to render my hypnosis useless. One of the very few. Your friend Xander was hard too. Given time, I would have liked to see how far I could take him until he broke.”

Wolfsky flinched slightly at these words. Dr. Dean noticed and smiled slightly.

“There it is,” Dr. Dean said. “There’s the proverbial chink in the armor. You hold your friend in such high regards. This Xander Zane. Was that his real name?  I knew from the day I met him there was something he was hiding.”

“So you and Marshall tried to kill him,” Wolfsky said. “Just to see how he’d react. Is that it? You get your jollies like Kit Marshall?”

“So now I have something in my head that you want,” Dr. Dean said. “It’s interesting how easily the tables turn, isn’t it?”

“You have no idea,” Wolfsky said.

“We have found each other at something of an impasse,” Dr. Dean said. “What should we do about this?”

“Wolfsky would fancy a little game,” Wolfsky said.

“I do not find it wise to play game with my patients, Wolfsky,” Dr. Dean said. “Especially with any that find themselves incarcerated like yourself. I find they do not end where I intend them too.”

“Then go into the unknown,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky knows you’ve wanted to crack Wolfsky for some time now. This might be your last chance. Those doctors keep Wolfsky up at night you know. Watching and waiting. Sizing Wolfsky up like some piece of meat in the butcher shop window.”

“Interesting choice of wording,” Dr. Dean said reaching for his pad. “The butcher shop window? I would really love to delve into your past. Would you like to talk about the incident in New Jersey? You know the one. You were found with the bodies of the murdered family.”

“Wolfsky knows the one,” Wolfsky said.

“Don’t go hardening up on me now,” Dr. Dean said. “Things just started getting good.”

“So here’s how we play,” Wolfsky said now that Dr. Dean was baited. “You get one question. Wolfsky gets one question.”

“Oh this old game,” Dr. Dean said beaming. “Shrinks use this one with troubled patients a lot. Is that what I am to you?”

Wolfsky looked at Dr. Dean’s face.

“The silent treatment again?” Dr. Dean asked. “I have either struck a nerve or you’re refusing to answer me unless I agree to your cliché little game. You are a very interesting subject, Wolfsky. I’ll go along with it. I’ll take the trip down the metaphoric rabbit hole with you. You may be buying time to stay your execution, but I do not think it matters. You see, I have no control over the will of Warden Greene or his agents in Max Lockup.”

“Wolfsky never assumed you did,” Wolfsky said. “Since you agreed to play, Wolfsky will be a gentleman and let you have the first question.”

“Very good,” Dr. Dean said. “There’s so many things I’ve been dying to ask you. Where shall I start.”

Wolfsky raised his eyebrows inviting Dr. Dean to ask.

“I know,” Dr. Dean finally said. “I’ll start off light. What did you do before you were a killer?”

*

Xander opened Wolfsky’s journal apprehensively. A folded piece of paper fell out and landed in his lap. His name was written across the back in big black letters. He unfolded the note and read it by the pale thin stream of light that came in through his cell window.

“Xander,

If you’re reading this note, it means that Wolfsky is no longer with you. Wolfsky was either killed or taken to Max where Wolfsky will likely be killed shortly. If your intent is still the same, then your resolve must not waver based on revenge for Wolfsky. If Wolfsky is dead then let Wolfsky sleep. Do not let the rage of vengeance blind your judgement as it did for Wolfsky. You have lost a lot since you came to Havenville. More than Wolfsky can understand. Read the words in this journal. When you are finished, Wolfsky hopes you will learn from Wolfsky’s mistakes. These words are for you only. You can share with Leonard and Tajiri if you wish, but keep the journal to yourself. Destroy it if you must, but do not let anyone else have it.

All the best,

Wolfsky

P.S. If Wolfsky is in Max Lockup, DO NOT COME FOR WOLFSKY. It is suicide.

Xander read the note again to make sure he understood and didn’t miss any details. Wolfsky’s overuse of his own name made it hard to follow, but he understood. This was Wolfsky’s life on paper. His very legacy. Xander had wondered about Wolfsky’s past, but was too afraid to ask. He had gotten bits of pieces from conversations and a little from The Chaplain, but Wolfsky was tight lipped about what he exactly did on the outside. 

What did Wolfsky think Xander could gain from this journal? It was true that Xander had focused his energies on vengeance since he had found out Warden Greene had his wife and son killed. He had effectively killed Peter Frost in every way imaginable. Every move he had made since he emerged from The Hole was based on his vengeance. Was Wolfsky telling him to give up this pursuit? Wolfsky himself had urged Xander in this direction. Why would Wolfsky want him to pull back now?

Xander stopped thinking of the questions that plagued his mind. With a trembling hand Xander opened the Journal to the first page hoping to get an answer.

Wolfsky steered his home-made scooter down the rubble strewn roads of Barbados with Amanda running by his side. He had made a couple of dollars selling newspapers that morning, so he decided to get Amanda a cold soda in town. Amanda ran on the side of the scooter (which Wolfsky kept at a slow enough pace for Amanda to keep up) past the beach bars and slowed down as not to disturb the tourists enjoying the sun and rum punch. They made their way to the small cabana where Amanda’s father worked.

“What can I get you kids?” he asked. In the long years since he was fourteen years old, Wolfsky had forgotten his name, but he never forgot his smile when they would show up on an afternoon for a soda. 

“Two cokes,” Wolfsky said pushing a couple of dollars to Amanda’s father.

Amanda’s father filled two tall cups with a little ice and then with coke from the bar hose. “Here you go,” he said. “Go sit in the shade for a bit. The suns beating hard today.”

“Thank you,” Wolfsky said carrying the two glasses while Amanda pushed his scooter. They sat under the shade of a tree on top of a log. This was their usual spot when Wolfsky had a few extra dollars to spend on soda.

The two watched the water silently. They had been friends for a long time, and often didn’t need to speak to each other. Amanda’s father worked at the bar while his mother cleaned hotel rooms a few miles down the road. At the end of the day they would walk halfway between their jobs to the small home where they lived with Amanda, her two brothers, and three sisters.

Wolfsky wasn’t as lucky as Amanda was to have a large family. His mother had died when he was only six, and left him and his father alone. His father was Haitian born, and didn’t get along with a lot of the local families. This was part of the reason Wolfsky didn’t go to school. His father figured that if he could make a decent living without schooling, then so could his son.

“Do you know what today is?” Amanda asked.

“Wolfsky does not,” Wolfsky said sipping his soda through the clear straw. He savored the taste since he may not have the money to buy cold sodas tomorrow.

“It’s your last day,” Amanda said.

“What?” Wolfsky said. “Oh yeah. Wolfsky forgot.”

“How could you forget your own birthday?” Amanda asked.

“Wolfsky wasn’t thinking about it,” Wolfsky said. It had slipped his mind that tomorrow he would be fifteen. His father had told him for the last few years that the day he turned fifteen he would begin working with his father for Hannigan down by the farm.

“I guess this is our last soda,” Amanda said leaning closer to Wolfsky. Wolfsky got nervous and looked over to see if Amanda’s dad was looking. He saw that he was busying himself on the opposite side of the bar telling some tall tale to a couple on vacation. When Wolfsky turned back around Amana’s lips were against his.

Wolfsky pulled away after a second and saw Amanda’s smiling face. “When you’re not working for Mr. Hannigan, be sure to come find me. You’ll have plenty of soda money, I hope.” Amanda ran off with the two empty glasses to give back to her father. Wolfsky got on his scooter and rolled towards his father’s home.

“You’re home,” Wolfsky’s father said as Wolfsky entered the house. He put his scooter against the wall and walked into the small kitchen where his father was divvying up a small portion of pork and pineapple. Hannigan often gave Wolfsky’s father scrap meat for the two of them to eat.

“You want some dinner?” Wolfsky’s father asked.

“Yes,” Wolfsky answered. 

His father passed him a small plate with a section of the cooked pork and a few slices of pineapples. “You make any money selling the papers today?” 

“A little,” Wolfsky said cutting the pork.

“That’s good,” his father said smiling. “I didn’t forget what tomorrow is. You’ll be working with me. Hannigan has been busy, so he can use the extra hands. You excited?”

Wolfsky looked into his dad’s face. He could tell he was excited to finally be working with his son. Wolfsky could tell that his father felt that this was a fine birthday present for a boy turning fifteen. “Wolfsky can’t wait,” he said putting a piece of meat into his mouth and savoring the sweet flavor.

“That’s good meat, isn’t it?” Wolfsky’s father said. “Tomorrow I’ll teach you how to properly kill your own.”

*

“So you were actually a butcher,” Dr. Dean said. “Fascinating. I always assumed they called you that due your affinity to kill.”

“They originally called Wolfsky: The Buther’s Son,” Wolfsky said. “But it got shortened over time.”

“Your young life sounds so -”

“Wait,” Wolfsky said interrupting Dr. Dean before he could gain steam. “Wolfsky answered your question. It’s now Wolfsky’s turn to ask one of his own.”

“Very well,” Dr. Dean said with a sigh. “What would you like to know?”

“Why did you and Marshall have Xander attacked?” Wolfsky asked.

Dr. Dean started at Wolfsky for a moment before speaking. “You are very concerned with your friend,” he said.

“Do not dodge the question or our little game will come to an end,” Wolfsky said. 

“I’m not dodging,” Dr. Dean said. “It’s just an observation. That’s all.”

“Why’d you do it?” Wolfsky asked. “I know that you didn’t yet know who he really is.”

“Kit and I both took an interest in him for very different reasons,” Dr. Dean said. “I was very curious about his mind, and Kit wanted to see if he’d make a strong ally or an even stronger opponent. We worked together and devised our little test, and Xander performed admirably. I learned that Xander had made friends with the right people to help protect himself, and Kit discovered that Xander did make a very strong opponent. He wasn’t surprised at all when word got back to us about his true identity.”

Wolfsky sat thinking.

“Was my answer not satisfactory?” Dr. Dean asked.

“It was what Wolfsky suspected,” Wolfsky said. “Wolfsky never liked the games you play with the inmates. Least of all, the games The Warden devises.”

“I believe it’s my turn to ask,” Dr. Dean said.

“Go ahead,” Wolfsky said easing back on the hard chair and getting as comfortable as the restraints would allow.

“Why did you decide to come to America to become a killer?”

*

Wolfsky worked along side his father for the next two years of his life. His father started his training by allowing him to assist in the killing of goats and moving on to pigs. Once Wolfsky had mastered the slaughtering of goats and pigs, he moved onto bigger animals. Hannigan was very pleased with Wolfsky’s work.

“That boy of yours is skilled,” Mr. Hannigan exclaimed to Wolfsky’s father as he handed him the envelope with their week’s pay. Wolfsky and his father shared wages since they lived together in their small shack. “I wish I had four more like him.”

“You don’t have enough animals for four more Wolfsky’s” Wolfsky’s father said smiling.

Hannigan was well into his sixties when Wolfsky was nearing seventeen years old. He couldn’t move around as good as he used to, so Wolfsky would busy himself moving boxes or bring bags out to customer’s cars or bikes. Hannigan owned the meat market from his father and his father before him. His great-grandfather came to Barbados in his youth with his young wife, and they decided to make an extended stay of their trip when they became pregnant. There’d been a Hannigan in Barbados running the meat market ever since.

At this point in his life, Wolfsky was working to help keep the house over him and his father’s head. He had become much more serious with Amanda (a fact that greatly pleased her father who always liked Wolfsky), and the two would spend every free moment together. Amanda followed Wolfsky’s lead and began working in the same beachside bar and grille that employed her father (up until he got hurt a year ago and had to retire way too early). 

Things didn’t get much better for Amanda’s family when she started becoming sick. It would come and go much like the tides. One day she’d be full of energy and vigor, and the next day she’d barely be able to get out of bed. Their family was having a hard time keeping meals on the table for the large family, so Wolfsky would help out every chance he got (much to the annoyance of his father). Every time Hannigan would give him some meat as a bonus he would bring it to Amanda’s family who reluctantly took it with their thanks.

It was around this time Wolfsky found out the truth about his father. 

It was a sunny Tuesday morning when Wolfsky walked into Hannigan’s Meat Market for the last time. He went ahead of his father to help Mr. Hannigan help set the market up before he would go to work cutting up whatever animal was unlucky enough to become tonight’s dinner. He walked in to see Mr. Hannigan lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood. Standing above him were three men. They were all dressed in gray suits.

“Who are you?” the man in the middle asked. He was shorter than the others but had an air about him that told Wolfsky’s instincts that he was the leader of this small gang. He had thick brown hair around the rim of his head. The parts on top and to the front were beginning to thin out.

“He’s the son, Mr. Lance,” the man to his left said. 

“Is he?” the leader named Mr. Lance asked. “What’s your name, son?”

“Wolfsky,” Wolfsky said wishing he had the nerve to back out of the door. Wolfsky had proven himself in fights before, but he wasn’t sure if he’d be good enough to fight three men at once. Especially when the two men that stood on either side of their leader looked so intimidating. “What’s wrong with Mr. Hannigan?”

The leader looked down at the form of Hannigan’s body. “Hannigan is having a bit of trouble,” he said. “We only wanted to ask him a few questions. We’d like to ask you a few, too. You want to take a quick ride with us?”

Wolfsky didn’t know what to say. He saw the still form of Hannigan lying on the floor. He wished his father had come in ahead instead of him. Wolfsky thought he heard something in the back, but it was more sensing than anything else. It could have easily been his imagination.

“Someone’s in the back,” Mr. Lance’s associate said. “Could be a rat.”

“Check it out,” Mr. Lance said not taking his eyes off Wolfsky. “We aren’t taking any chances.” Mr. Lance’s associate ran off into the back area of Hannigan’s Market while Mr. Lance addressed Wolfsky once more. “Now where were we? Oh yes. I think you and I should have a talk. There are things you must know. It seems -”

Mr. Lance didn’t get to the end of his statement. The man he sent in to look at the sound nearly flew backwards out of the thick plastic door with a meat cleaver in his right shoulder.  If this bothered him he didn’t show it. He got up and immediately ran back into the room.

“No time!” Mr. Lance shouted. “Take him!”

Mr. Lance’s other associate grabbed Wolfsky with an uncanny speed and quickness that Wolfsky wouldn’t have guessed he possessed.  Wolfsky was brought out into the bright sun, and was thrown into the backseat of a large car. Mr. Lance followed in the back as the car sped off leaving a trail of dust behind it. 

“Is he awake yet?” Wolfsky heard. He felt a hand lightly slapping his face. The last thing he could recall was being in the back to the car. Now all he saw was blackness. He fought against the drowsiness and opened his eyes.

“He’s awake,” the other voice said. When Wolfsky’s eyes finally focused he was looking into the dark-skinned face of a man he’d never met. “My name is Mr. Ralph,” the man said. “I believe you met my partner Mr. Lance.”

“I’m sorry we were interrupted,” Mr. Lance said. “Your father got busy killing my associates.”

Wolfsky tried to get up at the mention of his father, but found that he was very tightly bound. 

“Don’t struggle,” Mr. Ralph said. “We only want to talk. We only wanted to talk with you. It’s your father that we came for.”

“He’s been keeping secrets,” Mr. Lance said. “We lost his trail in Haiti some time ago. We only recently found out he was here working as a butcher and keeping off the grid.”

“What secrets?” Wolfsky asked. “What at your talking about.”

“It’s his blood,” Mr. Lance said. “The secret is in his blood. Now it is in yours too.”

“We want you to come with us,” Mr. Ralph said. “We can teach you to hone your skills. We can’t take out what’s already in you, but we can teach you how to use it properly.”

“What about my father,” Wolfsky asked.

“Your father is a killer,” Mr. Lance said. “He killed your mother with what’s in his blood. You’ve been killing Amanda with what’s in yours.”

Wolfsky tried to fight against the restraints again. He thought he felt them loosening, but he wasn’t strong enough to overcome them.

“I’m not trying to anger you,” Mr. Lance said in a soothing voice. “I’m sure you’ve noticed her sickness. You may have been too young to remember, but your mother suffered the same way. The best thing you can do for Amanda is to leave her so she can heal.”

“Your father knowingly killed your mother,” Mr. Ralph said. “He knew what was in him would kill her. He knew what he passed on to you would kill Amanda and any woman you’re with after she’s gone.”

“Wolfsky won’t go with you,” Wolfsky said. “You killed Hannigan. Where’s my father now?”

Mr. Lance sighed. “What happened to Hannigan was an unfortunate incident,” he said. “We were trying to reason with him when he became agitated and attacked once of my associates. The very same one your father has likely killed. By now he has likely burned down Hannigan’s to cover his tracks again. By nightfall he’ll be gone. Off the grid again unless we can get to him.”

“What do you want from me?” Wolfsky said eager to be done with these people.

“Come with us,” Mr. Ralph said. “Your father wants you dead. You’re his last loose end in Barbados. Now that you know the secret the two of you share; he’ll kill you before leaving this island and moving on.”

“What is Wolfsky doesn’t believe you?” Wolfsky asked with a defiance he barely felt.

“You’re free to go,” Mr. Ralph said loosening Wolfsky’s restraints with no hint of fear that Wolfsky would attack.

Wolfsky rose to his feet rubbing his wrists where the restraints had cut into his skin. He now wished he never lashed out.

“We will stay here for a little while longer,” Mr. Lance said. “As my associate said, you’re free to go, but I must warn you of the dangers you face if you choose to return to your father. He’s a dangerous man. He’ll go to any length to keep his secret. This means destroying the only other whose blood holds the very same secret.”

Mr. Lance didn’t bother elaborating further. Wolfsky waited a moment for Mr. Ralph to jump in and add something, but he remained silent and staring as if calculating with his eyes. Wolfsky walked slowly towards the door and out into the bright afternoon sun.

Once outside, Wolfsky ran like he had never ran before. He didn’t know where he was, but he found the main road quickly and ran towards home. He noticed the plume of smoke rising high into the air from the direction of Hannigan’s market. He ignore the voice of Mr. Lance telling him that his father would likely do that. He ran until he got to the red door of the small shack he called a home.  He opened the door and entered.

“Wolfsky,” his father said from his seat at the kitchen table. His shirt was still spattered with blood. It looked as if he had sat at the table after taking care of business at Hannigan’s and awaited Wolfsky’s return. Wolfsky or somebody else. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be back.”

“Is it true?” Wolfsky asked through gasps of breath. He didn’t know how he was able to run so far for so long and his lungs burned. “Your secrets? About mom and everything? Are you a killer?”

“Yes,” Wolfsky’s father said with no pause to consider the truth versus a lie. “I was hoping they wouldn’t tell you. They want me dead, Wolfsky. It stands to reason that they’d want you dead too.”

“They want to take Wolfsky,” Wolfsky said. “But it’s Wolfsky’s choice.”

“And you chose to come back to me?”

“Yes.”

“Then you’re a bigger fool than I, Wolfsky!”

Wolfsky took a step back as his father rose from the table. He held a long knife that Wolfsky recognized as one of Hannigan’s. It was still red with the blood of the man he killed earlier that day. Wolfsky tried to count how many times he used that very knife to cut open pig’s throats. Now his father meant to use it on him.

Wolfsky’s tired body seemed to act on its own accord once his father lunged at him with the knife.  He moved to the side to avoid its blade, and turned to hit his father in the temple with his elbow. Wolfsky had been in many back alley fights with the snobby educated kids, and he had never lost a single one.

The knife fell to the floor with a clang. Wolfsky was a little surprised to see that he had twisted his father’s wrist to wrench the knife free. His father went down to get the knife, but Wolfsky was smaller and quicker. He grasped the knife handle in his hand, and quickly turned around. His father staggered backwards with the knife protruding from his chest.

“You got me, son,” Wolfsky’s father said with a small smirk as he fell to the floor. “Go and be free. I only ask one thing. You know what it is.” His eyes moved to look at the kitchen table. Wolfsky followed his gaze to see a can of gasoline and a book of matches underneath the table where his father sat when he first entered their shack. Wolfsky’s father fell on his side and closed his eyes.

Less than an hour later, Wolfsky was walking away from the flames as they rose from the windows of his father’s small home. Whatever secret his father held in his blood burned away with his body. Now Wolfsky was the sole heir to whatever it was that these men were after. 

It took Wolfsky nearly the entire night to walk back to where he last saw Mr. Lance and Mr. Ralph. He only stopped to look over the hill to where Amanda lived. He considered briefly waking her up and seeing her one last time, but he remembered what he was told about him making her sick and the painful way his mother died. After looking at the darkened house for over an hour, he resumed his slow walk back to the warehouse where he was interrogated. 

*

“So that was it,” Wolfsky said. “Mr. Lance and Mr. Ralph brought Wolfsky to America to work with them.”

“So then when you were found with the bodies -”

“That’s another question,” Wolfsky said interrupting Dr. Dean. “It’s Wolfsky’s turn to ask a question.”

Dr. Dean sighed as he did before. He was wondering how long he’d have Wolfsky, and if Warden Greene would notice that his star inmate was missing from his Max Lockup cell for an extended period of time. He still didn’t know what kind of torturous they had in mind for Wolfsky, but he knew it wouldn’t be too long.

“Ask away,” Dr. Dean said eager to ask Wolfsky one last question.

“Why do you go along with Warden Greene’s plan?” Wolfsky asked. “What’s your endgame in all this?” 

Dr. Dean laughed a little under his breath. “I think I’ve been asking myself that a lot lately,” he said. “When I first signed on to work for Warden Greene I never thought much about the endgame. 

“I was working with the State Correction Departments psychology department for going on five years. I had fresh ideas that stunned my colleagues. They scoffed at my ideas of forced hypnosis and drastic memory techniques to reprogram a criminals mind to make him less criminal and more human. They told me I was playing God when I told them I could completely change someone’s entire personality and traits. I lost my job. My wife took my kids and left me. I was devastated. 

“When Warden Greene found me, I was low. Half drunk and starving. I couldn’t get another job in my field. I was probably less than a week away from being homeless. Then the plans to build Havenville were approved. Greene was a shoe in for the warden job after helping set up this fortress of a prison. He even found money from senators to build it. He hired me off the State’s books. The money came from Greene directly.

“But it wasn’t just about the money. It was about reinventing myself. Greene had the most wild ideas on the human psyche and how to manipulate it. He had formulas for gasses that would render the patient unable to move or act under his own control, but listen intently to every word he was told. With Greene pulling the strings, I was finally able reprogram the human mind.

“You asked me why I go along with Greene’s plan. Simply put: because Greene’s plan gives me purpose. It makes me relevant. One day, libraries will be full of books about what Warden Greene is doing here at Havenville, and my name will be right there beside his. That’s my endgame.”

“Do you really think Greene will share credit?” Wolfsky asked.

Dr. Dean flinched. It was true he now believed this, but he wasn’t about to reveal that in this conversation. “Now now,” he said. “One question at a time.”

“Wolfsky forgot,” Wolfsky said apologetically, even though the look on Wolfsky’s face told Dr. Dean that he knew the question had triggered what it was meant to. “There’s probably time for one more round of questions before they decide you’ve had enough time with Wolfsky.”

Dr. Dean thought for a moment. If he were to have one more question, there was only one he would ask. He had wanted to ask it right off, but he thought it would have been better to build up to it.

“What really happened on the night you were arrested?”

Wolfsky looked down when the question was asked. Surely, he knew this was the one that nagged in Dr. Dean’s head (not to mention the heads of any others that seemed to know pieces of it). He had tried to crack open the enigma that was Wolfsky many years ago, but to no avail. There was just no rhyme or reason to the story the police had concocted in Wolfsky’s arrest record.

“There’s more to it than just that night,” Wolfsky said.

“I’m all ears,” Dr. Dean said.

“Very well,” Wolfsky said.

*

Mr. Lance and Mr. Ralph made good on their promises. Wolfsky was brought over to America and began training in facilities to use the skills he never knew he had. He was taught to push his body to its limits and then some. He learned to focus the energies inside of himself and around his body. He learned to listen to a man’s heartbeat to determine whether he was nervous or lying. He learned how to kill cleanly and effectively.

During this training they came to call him “The Butcher’s Son”. When his body was a finely tuned instrument of death, they called him Wolfsky the Butcher. They brought him in to make a kill when they needed no weapons used. Wolfsky always killed with his hands. He could snap a mans neck as quickly as he could cut his throat. Wolfsky was great at what he did, and his bosses paid him well for it. Wolfsky felt more at home doing this than he ever did in Barbados.

There was only the matter of the secret in his blood.

“Your father was part of an experiment they were conducting in Haiti when he was a boy,” Mr. Lance told Wolfsky the day after Wolfsky had made his first kill. It was a drug dealer in the streets of New Orleans. Wolfsky never asked why he needed to be killed. He always assumed it was a test of his skills (which Wolfsky passed indefinitely).

“What kind of experiment?” Wolfsky asked.

“Irradiating of the blood,” Mr. Lance said. “He was treated with various chemicals and then exposed to varying doses of radiation. It was meant to strengthen his muscles, make him nearly immune to fatigue until he was ready to succumb to it, and give him almost super-human senses.”

“And it worked?” Wolfsky asked amazed.

“You saw the results,” Mr. Lance said. “He was only one of four who survived. Mr. Ralph was another. You were only able to survive your father’s attack because he unknowingly passed the irradiated blood onto you. It’s what killed your mother.”

Mr. Lance didn’t say any more on the subject. He knew where Wofsky’s mind when when these conversations arose. He now knew he did the same to Amanda through nothing more than the act making love. He was passing on whatever the hell was in his blood into Amanda, and Amanda was dying from it.

It didn’t take long for Wolfsky to build up a reputation as an assassin. The underworld of the United States feared the name Wolfsky the Butcher and speculated on who he was or who he worked for. His targets seemed to be random, and there was no pattern. Various mafia outfits tried to track him down but to no avail. Wolfsky the Butcher was a ghost.

Then there was the mission that changed everything.

“It’s only a protection job,” Mr. Ralph said. “We have a client who wants to transport himself and his family to safety. You follow them throughout their trip, and when they are in their new home your task is complete.”

“That’s it?” Wolfsky asked.

“That’s it,” Mr. Ralph replied. “Assuming there are no problems.”

So Wolfsky did what he was asked. This wasn’t his usual task, but he didn’t ask questions. Even if there was the nagging thought in his mind about why he was playing baby sitter to some guy in a suit and his wife and kids. It was only after it was too late that Wolfsky realized that he should have known better.

Wolfsky was to escort the family of five from their home in Washington DC to Vermont where they would be put into a safe house and kept safe from whatever bogey men were after them. He was not to know their names or why they were fleeing DC. Wolfsky followed closely in his own car. When they stopped to eat, Wolfsky ate. When they stopped to piss, Wolfsky pissed. All the while he kept both eyes on the family and the people surrounding them. If anyone made a move, Wolfsky would kill them before they would get hurt.

Or so Wolfsky thought.

The family’s van suddenly pulled off the highway somewhere off the Garden Parkway in New Jersey and pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall that was closed for the night. The car sped stopped in the parking lot and the family got out. Wolfsky got out of his car as well.

“What’s going on?” the man asked Wolfsky. “I just got a call. They told me to stop here. What’s happening?”

Wolfsky didn’t respond. He didn’t know either. Suddenly the phone in his pocket started to buzz and he answered it. There were only two men who had the number.

“Wolfsky,” the voice of Mr. Lance said in his ear. “You have five targets. They are in front of you.”

Wolfsky looked in the eyes of the three little girls who came out of the van. Their father was trying to usher them back in, but they were too scared to be without him. “No,” Wolfsky said so the family wouldn’t hear them. “No kids.”

“You have five targets,” Mr. Lance repeated. “They are in front of you. Mr. Ralph is on his way. If they aren’t dead when he arrives he will do it himself, and he will not do it quickly.” The line went dead in Wolfsky’s ear. He snapped the phone in half and put it down a sewer grate.

“What was that about?” the man asked after he got his three little girls back into the backseat of the car. He approached Wolfsky with his wife by his side. “Are we in danger? Why are we stopped? I want answers!”

Wolfsky walked up to the man who was asking all kinds of questions he would never get the answers to. With lightning fast speed, Wolfsky reached out and twisted his head. He fell to the ground dead without a sound. His wife began to scream. Wolfsky reached out with his left hand and tore her throat out in one swift motion. Wolfsky felt the warm blood splash him as she fell to the ground aside her husband.

Wolfsky walked slowly to the car with the three little girls inside as the sound of Mr. Ralph’s car pulling into the lot filled his ears. He closed his eyes readying himself for what he was about to do. He begged God for forgiveness, and opened the door to the back of the car.

“You made it quick?” Mr. Ralph asked as Wolfsky emerged drenched in blood. Wolfsky had to fight the urge to kill him as well.

“Quickly as Wolfsky can,” Wolfsky said trying to hold his rage in check. He now felt as if he should have waited for Mr. Ralph and simply killed him instead, but something told Wolfsky that it would never happen that way. There would have been a backup. There was always a backup.

“You have a new target,” Mr. Ralph said. “We’ve been searching for this man a long time, Wolfsky. We don’t know what he now looks like or what name he goes by. We don’t know where he is now, but we know where he will be.”

“Why should Wolfsky care?” Wolfsky sneered. The three little girls they made him kill changed his outlook in the seconds since it happened. He no longer cared if Mr. Ralph thought he was being rash, and silently prayed for Mr. Ralph to give him a reason to kill him too.

“He’s the man who irradiated the blood of your father,” Mr. Ralph said. “The one who made it so your father would kill your mother by bedding her. The reason Amanda got sick. The reason you couldn’t have a family. Do you really thing you’re the only one? Use your head, Wolfsky! He’s been doing this for decades. Most of his experiments lead to much horrible results than you.”

“Where can Wolfsky find him?” Wolfsky asked.

“Like I said, we don’t know where he is, but we know where he’ll be. We’ve tracked down an associate of his. He faked his own death some time ago, but we never believed that. We now have reason to believe that Hugo Keene has taken up residence as the Warden of Havenville Penitentiary in Connecticut after stealing the identity of Daniel Greene.”

“That’s why you had Wolfsky travel here,” Wolfsky said doing the math in his head. “That’s why you made Wolfsky commit such a heinous crime. You want to ensure I end up in this prison!”

“We’ve pulled the necessary strings to ensure that’s where you’re sent,” Mr. Ralph said. “The police will be here in less than ten minutes. Confess to your crime and wait. Given time, James Lockhart will turn up in Havenville to join his old colleague. When he does, it’s your mission to kill him.”

Mr. Ralph got in his car and drove off. Wolfsky sat on the curb, waiting for the police to show up.

*

 “You did it,” Dr. Dean said. “I knew you were a killer, but I never thought you’d kill those little girls!”

Wolfsky looked at the floor and said nothing.

“And Lockhart?” Dr. Dean asked. “You’re going to kill him?”

“Isn’t it Wolfsky’s turn to ask a question?” Wolfsky asked.

Dr. Dean was going to make reply about their little game being over, but he noticed Wolfsky had somehow come free of his restraints. He tried to his the panic button under the table, but Wolfsky was on him before he make the move. Wolfsky was on top of him, and his face was pressed hard against the table. He felt the teeth on the left side of his face loosen when his head hit the desk. Wolfsky held his thumb over Dr. Dean’s trachea so he couldn’t scream or even speak.

“Wolfsky only has one more question for you,” Wolfsky said. “How do you want to die?”

Dr. Dean tried to struggle free, but it was useless. There was no freeing himself from Wolfsky’s grip. He felt stupid for putting himself in the situation. Now that he knew Wolfsky’s secrets, there was no reason for Wolfsky to let him live.

“Should Wolfsky twist your head and end your life quickly?” Wolfsky asked. “Or should Wolfsky press his thumb just a little further and have you suffocate slowly? Maybe Wolfsky can let you up and you’ll have a small chance of freedom before Wolfsky tears the head from your body.”

Dr. Dean tried to struggle free again, but the only thing that happened was a warm trail of piss began to pour down his leg.

“You’re scared?” Wolfsky asked. “You should be. You think Greene will let you off this easily? You know more of his secrets that you do of Wolfsky’s. But your life is in Wolfsky’s hands now. Not Greene’s. So where do we go from here?”

Dr. Dean couldn’t answer even if he wanted to. He tried to analyze the situation through the pain and fear, but the fear was winning. Finally, Wolfsky loosened his grip.

“Wolfsky’s giving you two choices,” Wolfsky said taking a step back from Dr. Dean who was now gasping for breath. “You can help Wolfsky or you can die here and now. Choose.”

Dr. Dean massaged his throat and feigned muteness. He thought Wolfsky was buying it, but decided it was wise not tempt fate. “I’ll help you,” he said. “God help me. I’ll help you.”

“Wolfsky believes you,” Wolfsky said. He picked up the pen from Dr. Dean’s notebook and slipped it down his shirt. “Wolfsky knows when someone is lying to him.”

*

Xander read the final page of Wolfsky’s journal and slowly closed the small book. He knew it would have to be destroyed as soon as he could do it, but it didn’t matter. The story would never leave Xander’s mind. He found himself trying to put together the rest of the story; as if he’d be able to fill in the of the story that Wolfsky didn’t reveal.

Who was it that Wolfsky worked for when he was killing men as The Butcher? At first Xander thought it may have been CIA, but not even they would condone a mission that involved killing three innocent children. It had occurred to Xander that maybe he was part of some criminal organization much like the one Lockhart was in himself. Could it be a competitor? Had Lockhart pissed off the wrong line of criminal? Xander also wondered how he could have so little information on someone that was so notorious when he was a carreer FBI agent. Had they covered Wolfsky’s organization up?

And what about some of the things that went on in Havenville? It went all the way back to Xander’s first day when they checked him in. He thought he’d be assigned a cell from an FBI inside guard (who still hadn’t revealed himself if he even existed), but could it have been someone from Wolfsky’s organization? The guard seemed quite interested in putting Xander and Wolfsky together. Could they have wanted Xander there to point Lockhart out at the right time?

And what about The Chaplain? Did Chaplain Freeman know? How deep did his involvement go?

Xander turned over in his bunk. He only had a few hours until the sun would be up, and he knew these questions would keep him up until then. He made sure to make a note to have a nice long chat with Wolfsky when he saw him again. If he would ever see him again.

 

The Innocent Chapter 17: Max Lockup

The Innocent
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.”

“And?”

“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.