Well, it's been a while since I was posting here, not through laziness really, so much as lack of any product to discuss. I have (as discussed in my previous post) been working on the Antag/Protag story competition entry... I'm not unhappy with it, but I'm on the third re-write even now and I'm still fiddling with the format and trying to meet the competition criteria of a 50/50 split between antagonist and protagonist.
Further, I have actually drafted out a complete version of the My First Line story (the challenge subsequent to the Antag/Protag contest), so that will be following the attached story which was the challenge set out for last week, which was to pick one of five story themes to write about: I decided to work around a scene in the middle of a prison riot.
It's not very good. I have more, better ideas for it. If i carry on polishing this turd, I may go insane and shove my feces-smeared fingers into my eye sockets.
So, erm... yeah.
The alarm klaxon was wailing, the noise echoing down the iron-fronted solitary cells. From where I was lying on the bare floor of my own cell it was like the piercing cry of a distant animal; savage and fierce.
“They're coming for you,” the voice came from a hole low down on the wall, just next to my ear.
“What do you mean?”
There was a low chuckle, just audible over the dull roar of a riot far above in the open prison.
“I did this to you, Lieutenant... I made this happen.”
Against my will, I stiffened, the words still enough to shock me; I should have been prepared for it... for the creaking tension to break. My mouth was moving slowly, but I couldn't make my lips frame the words.
“It's my 46th birthday today, Lieutenant,” the voice crooned happily.
Even in the strange pressure of the far away violence, I was nonplussed, shifting slightly, hands clenching and unclenching. I just listened and waited.
“After you screwed up my distribution network and shut down my operation last year, I decided that you would be the present I gave to myself for my next birthday. And here we are... a year, to the day.”
The name of a mysterious trafficker and drug distributor, slippery and elusive and apparently untraceable. My neighbour could only be that man, a hidden cancer festering the bowels of the penal system. Laughed softly to myself as the pieces slowly began to slot into place.
“Don't you dare laugh at me you stupid fat fuck,” he hissed, “I fucking broke you detective.”
“ Tell me-” his voice broke under the pressure of gloating anger, but he continued, “can you remember how many bullets they found in your partner's body when they hauled him out of the river?”
I knew the number, remembered the autopsy report with 46 small evidence bags and trajectory analyses, but I didn't say anything.
Jeronimo's laughter was sudden, loud and shrill in the tiny cell. “He was your buddy, wasn't he? Your pal, Phil... did they tell you that he pissed himself when he was begging for his life, Lieutenant?”
My breathing was loud in my ears as my mind's eye brought the scene to a grim and grisly life. I could feel the anger bubbling up like acid in my soul as each imaginary bullet pounded home. I couldn't make my fantasy show the Phil I knew, imagining instead the gellid corpse of the man I once called a friend begging for it's life through bloated purple lips.
“Hey,” the man continued, “why don't you tell me how many ounces of coke they found missing from the evidence locker? Was it 46, by any chance you slow, stupid fuck?”
I nodded dumbly, uselessly, pinching the bridge of my nose as I remembered Myers, that crooked fucker, pulling four big bags of white powder from my desk drawer, like I was some kind of silly, stupid drug dealer who left product lying in his car.
My moan was like a soft growl or a sigh or something awful in between as it buzzed out through clenched teeth.
“Yeah, that's right,” Jeronimo purred, “that's fucking right...”
The sounds of violence were getting louder, closer, and I was able to make out muffled gunfire. I could hear his breathing over the top of the noise though; he was getting excited as he taunted me, as he got off on my helplessness, on his victory.
His voice was more vibrant now, a sugared drawl of unclean delight as he continued, “How's the wife and your boy, Lieutenant?” My guts seemed to grow heavy and churn in pure rage as my thoughts went to the dark place of fear and anger that had grown inside me since they'd been rammed off the road a couple of months ago. The lawyer had said that Lorna wasn't responding too well to the surgeries, but there was nothing I could do.
I was stuck in here and it looked like I might not ever leave.
“46th and Maine,” I growled, remembering the halting report given to me through the prison plexiglass. I shook to Jeronimo's mocking laughter.
My knuckles popped and cracked as my fists clenched, squeezing like they were wrapped around the throat and choking the life out of this bastard. My thumping heart was a bass beat against the rough music of shouts and cries from the oncoming rioters, punctuated by the heavy clang of security doors being forced open.
“I get to listen to you die,” Jeronimo said conversationally, “when a bunch of the nastiest, most evil bastards I could bribe in this hole storm down here and beat you to death, cop. I thought it might take a lot to organise, but you're gonna die for less than a hundred bucks and a couple of shivs 'for recreational use'.”
“No one's even seen my face, you know that? I can't get fingered for this, because I'm fucking invisible. The governor got a lot of cash to put you in cell 46, but it was worth it, Lieutenant. It was worth it for all this. Happy birthday to me!”
I could hear Jeronimo sucking in a breath, ragged with a joy that almost seemed sexual.
“Now that,” he breathed, “is power...”
I just lay there breathing, moments cascading through my mind: the sinister catcalls from the high windows as we did our hour of physical exercise in the yard, the knowing looks of the armed guards as they traded quiet words, eyes glued on me.
Everything had fallen into place, every fractured shard of my life, put into context by this sneering mastermind.
For long, silent seconds I lay there and listened to the gloating laughter and the sounds of a reckoning approaching with malice aforethought. I was shaking.
“Did you see the guard today, Jeronimo?” I asked, voice cracking from fear and disuse.
“No!” he replied gaily, laughing, before growing slowly more quiet, “No... I didn't.”
“Well, he got a tip yesterday, Jeronimo, a favour from an old buddy on the force.” There was only silence from the other cell now, “I warned him that he should call in sick today, told him about the was things were falling into place. He was grateful... he even did me a favour.”
The door at the other end of the corridor to the solitary cells slammed open with a clanging crash, to the taunting, bloodthirsty howls of a rioting prison execution squad. My lips drew back in a grin, but it felt like a snarl.
“He swapped the number on our cell doors, you fuck... happy fucking birthday; I hope you rot in hell.”
I lay back and kept quiet, drinking in the noise of a shotgun slug punching out Jeronimo's lock, drowning out the crooning threats of violence from the shrieking mob.
His screams lasted for minutes, but it seemed like hours to me. The man I was a year ago would have been revolted at the noises from next door, but I was long past that now. He had killed, and smeared and wounded my friends, my reputation and my family... he was going to reap what he had sown.
And I was glad.