Glyph found himself on one knee in his padded cell at the penitentiary. The echoes of his screams faded quickly from his mind.
“Fuck!” He yelled, looking around the room. “Dammit!”
His eyes suddenly transfixed on something in the corner.
“Who are you and how’d you get in here?” it spoke.
Realizing it was a patient, Glyph’s mind began to reel. What am I doing here? Is this my cell? Why is there a patient here? Am I about to be attacked?
Then he noticed the bleeding cut on his palm, and reached for his back, and knew the wounds were there by the agony of his movement. Is this real? Am I hallucinating these cuts? This pain? He stood there a few more seconds, glancing back and forth between the person in the corner, and the door to the cell. There were too many questions running through his mind. A strangled scream escaped his lips as his brain overloaded. Glyph dropped to his knees and put his palms to his temples, rubbing furiously. Fighting back the flood of recent memories, he struggled to grasp reality.
A few seconds later, Glyph snapped to his senses; there was only one question that really mattered. Was he hallucinating, or not? The problem was that he really didn’t know for certain, but decided that he should choose one way or the other, and stick with it; that’s how he had survived the last time. Kneeling here like this was accomplishing nothing.
“I’m here, I have the wounds.” He said, and glanced down at his feet. “I’m even wearing the makeshift boots. I can move about the cell freely.” He stopped and looked at the middle-aged man lying propped up in the corner. “This must be real! Those things must have happened! It’s just like before…only.” Glyph said, drifting away into deep thought.
“Damn, son. And they think I’m fucked up.” The man said from the corner. “What the hell happened to you, and where’d you come from?” he asked Glyph.
Turning away from the man, Glyph went and checked the door.
“You can bet it’s locked.” The man commented.
Glyph spun around and casually glanced at the spot on his wrist where his watch would have been. Old habits die hard, he thought, and wondered if the killing would begin soon.
“You’d better answer me, or I’m gonna scream my fool head off and get the guards!” The dark form threatened.
“My name is Glyph. What’s yours?” Glyph asked, feigning politeness.
“Terkul.” He replied.
“Nice to meet you Terkul. Maybe you could answer me a few questions?”
“Sure, what the hell. I ain’t got nothin’ better to do.”
“How long have you been in this cell?” Glyph pointed around the room.
“Since yesterday. This room freed up all of a sudden. I imagine it had somethin’ to do with all the alarms and lockdown bullshit we had a few weeks ago. They said it was just a drill, but you could see the fear in these people’s faces. It was the real deal, though. Somebody must have come up missing, or maybe tried to escape.” He eyed up Glyph. “You wouldn’t have anything to do with that would you? I mean, you ain’t exactly dressed in regulation. And what’s with the back, did they do that to you?”
“Look, I need to get out of here. I’ll take you along if you help me.” Glyph said crouching down to look the man in his eyes.
“Alright” Terkul agreed, returning Glyph’s gaze. “What’s the plan?”
“Simple enough. You call for the guard, pretend to choke in order to get him into the cell. I’ll take care of the rest.” Glyph paused. “Now let’s get you out of that jacket.” If need be, I’ll kill him after we get the door open, Glyph thought. Carefully Glyph removed the straps from Terkul’s back. Tying them together, he fashioned a garrote and looped it around his hands. Terkul pushed himself back into the corner, making it appear as if he was still tied up.
“Remember, you’ll have to be quick, the doors open outward.” Terkul told him.
“Gotcha.” Glyph acknowledged, backing himself into the opposite corner. “Okay, I’m ready. Go.”
Terkul began to yell to the top of his lungs, shouting all kinds of obscenities and over-all screaming his fool head off. It didn’t take long before an orderly appeared at the door’s window. Pretending to choke at that point, Terkul began to convulse as if he couldn’t get air. Glyph knew the feeling well, and thought Terkul should have gotten an Emmy for his performance.
The dim lights suddenly got brighter. A second later the door opened and a guard quickly entered the room, heading straight towards Terkul. He saw Glyph too late; the sheer disbelief that anyone else could have been in this cell was written all over his face as Glyph squeezed the straps around his neck. The man wrenched about violently as Glyph pulled him to the floor. He flopped around like a fish out of water, as Glyph worked the straps with all his strength. Finally the guard’s body went limp. Part of Glyph wanted to let go, but part of him did not. At one point he started to ease up, but then renewed his effort with all his force until the last bit of life faded from the man’s eyes.
The rush he got from it made him feel elated, as if electricity coursed through his veins; for an instant he thought he saw the room flash like a light bulb burning out. The urge to do it again flared inside him. He looked up at Terkul and, suddenly, the realization of what he had been thinking sickened him. Almost gagging, Glyph stood up and put his back to the wall, forcing the urges out of his mind. ‘Keep focused. Keep focused.’ He repeated to himself, and took a few deep breaths.
Glyph undressed the guard and quickly put on his pants and shirt, being careful not turn his back on Terkul. He still didn’t know what type of sociopath he was dealing with yet. Terkul was content to just sit in the corner with a big shit-eating grin spread across his face.
“You want to go get some whores?” Terkul asked.
“Listen. We’re not out yet. I’m going to try to get into the booth. Just wait here until I call for you.” Glyph answered, tying his bootlaces.
Luckily, the uniform fit fairly well. The boots were a tad big, but a huge improvement over what he had before. Glyph cracked his neck back and forth, and adjusted his cap. Then he saw it. A wristwatch. Glyph slipped it on quickly. He guessed he had been there about twenty minutes. ‘That means I have about forty minutes, if I’m going back,’ he thought to himself.
“Its go time!” Glyph said, took a few breaths, and walked out of the cell. Terkul waited, pushing the door to within a hair of closing.
Glyph lowered the lights in the cell and walked casually up the hall. He knew there were cameras, and kept his cap pulled low. He approached the cellblock gate, where another man sat behind clear bulletproof windows. Searching with his eyes, he noticed the buzzer button just before he got to the steel door. He pressed it once, turned slightly and pretended to cough, in case his buddy in the booth decided to make visual contact. It worked! Glyph heard the click and opened it. Stepping through, he pulled the door closed behind him, and walked over to the cubicle doorway. Since everything was clear glass, Glyph saw the fresh pot of coffee brewing, and opened the door.
“Hey I just made some coffee, if you want some.” The other guard commented without turning from his newspaper.
‘Don’t mind if I do.’ Glyph thought and proceeded to pull a cup off the stack and poured himself a tall one. He set it down on the small counter. “You want one?” Glyph asked the man. As the guard turned in his chair at the sound of Glyph’s voice, he was quickly met with a pot full of boiling hot coffee. The man recoiled in shock from the horrific burns forming on his face and neck. Glyph kicked the chair out from underneath him, and brought the empty coffee pot to bear on his screaming mouth, crushing his nose and breaking teeth. On the fourth strike the pot cracked and on the fifth it shattered, leaving shards of glass protruding form the man’s bloody pulp-like, featureless, face. The guard was dead. For good measure, Glyph kicked him a few times with his foot.
Once more he felt the sudden surge of power rising within. A flash of red filled his vision for a split second, like he had seen the room as a film negative. There was something else too, a satisfaction, almost like pleasure. He immediately tried to shake it off, pushing the thoughts from his head. He felt strange. Why was he experiencing this power rush and these compulsions to kill? Glyph wondered. The experience was more intense the second time, and he hoped he didn’t have to kill anyone else. Glyph calmed himself down and got back to the business at hand.
There was a pistol strapped to the dead man’s belt, and that made Glyph smile. He unbuckled the belt, quickly put the holster on, and pulled the gun. From the looks of it he guessed it was a nine-millimeter Beretta. He cocked it back and chambered a round, then checked his other two magazines. Walking back to the door he called for Terkul, who ran up the hall, and stepped quickly through the exit.
“Put on the other guard’s clothes. Then go and set everyone else on the block loose, you should have plenty of time. I’m going to check the next gate, see what we’re up against.” Glyph informed him.
“Gotcha.” Said Terkul, who winked at him and began to undress the beaten man.
“Sorry about the coffee stains on the shirt.” Glyph commented, and winked back at him.
“Eh, no problem.”
Glyph carefully made his way down the hall toward another door; he stopped by a fire extinguisher recessed into the wall, a few meters back. Having traveled this way to his therapist numerous times, he knew there was some sort of camera monitoring that exit as well. Glyph studied the door from afar while pretending to fiddle with the extinguisher. There was a card slot, and what might be a keypad. He walked casually back the way he had come, and then went back to check Terkul’s progress.
Glyph looked at his watch. Loosing a bunch of criminally insane madmen was not the best idea he had ever had, but with roughly thirty minutes left, it was the only one he could come up with. Even if he ended up staying on Earth, he would rather spend it free than left in here to rot.
As Glyph approached, he saw Terkul standing in front of the closed cellblock door. There were a number of strange cackles emanating from within. Some of the inmates were pacing up and down the hall, while others hadn’t come out of their rooms.
Terkul turned to face Glyph. “I opened the cell doors and cut them loose, but I had to get the hell out of there; some of those fuckers ain’t right!” He exclaimed.
Glyph noticed the large open pocketknife in Terkul’s left hand. “Okay, keep an eye on them.” He said walking back into the booth.
Glyph began to ransack the room, looking for anything important, or of use. Hanging on a nail beside the door he spotted their ID’s, each with a bar code. He hung one around his neck and shoved the other in his pocket. Then he found a locker in the corner containing their personal items. There were two sets of car keys and two wallets, all of which he jammed into his pockets. Glyph quickly slipped on a leather jacket he pulled from a hook on the back of the door, and began to formulate a plan in his head. On the back wall was a cabinet with a key in its lock. Glyph opened it and found two Tazer guns, and a tranquilizer gun with a small box containing eight darts. He stuffed the Tazers into his jacket, zipped it up, then put the darts in his jacket pocket and slipped the tranquilizer gun into his pants.
Sitting down in the empty chair, Glyph reached over and grabbed his cup of coffee and downed half of it in one gulp. He pulled out the guards’ wallets and began to rifle through them. “I need numbers, give me numbers” Glyph said quietly, throwing business cards and pieces of paper onto the floor. “Here we go.” He proclaimed, as he found a folded piece of paper with a series of numbers written on it. Reaching over to the monitoring desk, he snatched up a pen and jotted the numbers down on the bottom of his left palm. He scooped up the drivers’ licenses and credit cards and combined them into one wallet and shoved it back into his rear pants pocket. He drank the rest of his brew, and got to his feet.
Stepping out into the hall he motioned Terkul over. He was muttering something about killing whores, and looked as if he were having some sort of episode.
“Alright buddy, I’m going to go up there and kill them. Wait ten minutes, open the door and let them out, then come after me. I’ll be waiting for you there. Understand?” Glyph explained to him. “Are you still with me Terkul?”
“Yeah, Yeah, I’m still with you” Terkul said nervously glancing about. “You sure you can handle them by yourself?” He asked.
“Let me see that pocket knife.” Glyph said casually.
Terkul looked at him oddly and offered it up. Glyph grabbed it, giving him the look as if he needed it for something.
“Just trust me, I got into your cell, and you didn’t see me do it, right?” Glyph replied, and turned just enough to slip the knife into his pocket.
“Well, yeah.” Terkul replied.
“Okay then. Make sure you give me at least ten minutes.” Glyph reiterated, checked his watch, and quickly strolled away up the hall. Twenty-one minutes left.
He hunched over, pulled his cap down and forced himself to slow his pace as he came up to the last door; after this Glyph knew he would be out of the main cellblock. He lifted the card from his neck and slid it in and out like an ATM machine. The light flicked green and then back to red. Nothing happened. On a whim, he pushed the card into the slot and left it there. The light turned green and the keypad beeped once. Here goes nothing, he thought, and began to punch the numbers in he had written on his hand. Nothing happened. He pressed the Enter key, and nearly jumped out of his skin when the door buzzer went off. Snatching the ID back, hands shaking, he opened the door.
As he stepped through he found himself in a hallway with another door at the opposite end, about ten feet away. There was a huge window to his left that ran the length of the corridor. He stole a glance into the room and saw two guards in there. Calmly he made his way to the far door while turning his head slightly toward the opposite wall, when he got half way there, a speaker popped.
“What’s up Joe?” the voice of the man in the next room came through over an intercom.
Glyph hunched over more and started to cough, put his hand to his mouth and said “Sick…Going home.” And moved closer to the exit.
“You still got to sign out.” The guard said, indicating a metallic drawer under the window.
Glyph was already at the far end. He grabbed the handle of the door and pulled. It was locked. Thinking quickly, he pretended to dry heave, and yanked on the door a few more times violently. The buzzer sounded and Glyph opened the door and jumped through, as the guard shook his head in disgust.
Running until he just cleared their sight, he stopped and caught his breath for a moment and tried to figure out which way to go from here.
Straightening his jacket, Glyph walked as calmly as he could down the length of a long wide hall, at the end of which he discovered an elevator. Anxiously, Glyph poked the down arrow and tried to act natural as he paced back and forth waiting for the damn doors to open. When they finally did, he walked in and hit the first floor button. The lift descended slowly and Glyph pulled his jacket sleeve back to check the time; thirteen minutes. Keep going, he thought, no matter what.
The doors opened, and he stepped out and saw he was just around the corner from a large lobby. There were a few people milling about, and four people behind a counter near the front door. His heart was beating wildly. Taking a few deep breaths, he strode out across the large room toward the door. ‘I work here. I work here. I work here.’ He repeated over and over in his mind as he walked. One of the guys behind the main desk said goodnight, and Glyph raised up his arm real fast in mock salute as he passed by, went through the lobby entrance, and out onto the sidewalk.
Observing the parking arrow sign, he quickly tread toward a large parking lot about half full of cars to the side of the facility. It was close to midnight and the wind was whipping against his face. Pulling out the car keys, he began pressing the unlock buttons as he weaved up and down the rows of cars. Catching sight of blinking headlights, he made his way over to a blue Talon sports car. Opening the front door, he hopped in, and as he started it up, he heard the main alarms go off.
“Thanks, Terkul. Sorry you won’t get to kill any whores.” Glyph said smiling, wondering about the shock Terkul must have had when he realized Glyph was gone, and the guards weren’t dead. That should give them plenty to worry about, he decided, as he put it in reverse and backed out. Placing it in drive, he moved slowly out of the lot toward the main gate. A few security cars flew past him heading toward the main building from the outer gate. By the time he reached the gate, there was no one there to follow him. Ignoring the shouts from the guard in the gate shack, he plowed through the wooden gate plank and sped out onto the streets of the city.
He glanced at his watch again. “Seven minutes. Seven more minutes, and then I’ll know.” Glyph murmured, and hung a right on the next street. He slowed to a stop and parked the car in front of a long row of townhouses and got out. Walking at a fast pace at first, and then a full run, he crossed onto the other side of the road and down to an intersection. This time he went left, and continued going right, then left for two more blocks, checking his watch the whole time.
Glyph stopped when he had about two minutes left. Still huffing and puffing, he ducked into an alley beside a fenced-in construction warehouse. Moving down the fence a few yards, he sat down beside a large pile of broken bricks and chunks of cement block. The piles cast long shadows, allowing him some protection from the streetlights. I’ll wait here a few minutes, if nothing happens I’ll just have to keep going.” Glyph whispered out loud.
He watched the seconds tick by. One minute. He hugged his weapons close to him and concentrated on them. Thirty seconds. Fifteen.
“Times up.” He said glancing around. “Come on, let me go back.”
He stood up after two more minutes went by.
“Shit! Let’s go already!” Glyph spat staring at the chain link fence.
Three minutes. Four minutes passed. “It’s not going to happen.” Glyph stated and released a sigh. “Time to get moving.”
Glyph had just taken his first step when a huge gust of wind barreled down the alleyway stopping him cold. Bracing himself he went to move again and felt the last exhale of his lungs. His eyes grew wide as he reached for his pistol, drawing it in slow motion as the darkness began to cave in around him. ‘Time for fucking paybacks!’ He thought, and a smile formed on his lips as the world winked out in a blinding flash of white light.