Stone walls, part 3

"Officer Yunez, you're fired. Get out of my prison," Warden Southerland ordered.

"You can't do that!" protested one of Sandra's fellow guards.

"She saved your ass!" Another spoke up.

Southerland slammed his hand on top of his desk and glared at the group of men and women who guarded the prison. "Let's make something perfectly clear. I run this prison. Not you, not the prisoners, and not the bleeding hearts who preach that love and kindness will save the world. I do. Anyone who has a problem with that can get the fuck out. Now get back to work."

He stepped carefully over the broken glass, looking at the mess in his office. "And someone get a repair crew in here!" he shouted at the exiting crowd.

Twenty minutes later, his phone rang. He hit the speaker button and growled into it. "What?"

"Uh, Warden, this is Mary in the personnel office. I thought you should know that I have seventeen resignation letters on my desk. At this moment, you only have five guards in the entire prison. You had better call someone fast before the inmates find this out. Lock up isn't for another 45 minutes, so the prisoners aren't inside their cells," the woman informed him.

The Warden hung up quickly and got on the phone, frantically dialing the number to the Governor as he cursed.

After a promise that city police and civil guards would be sent, Southerland paged the most senior guard left to call his office.

"Begin early lock up, one block at a time. Just keep it quiet and behave calmly," he ordered. "Four of you do it together with the fifth outside monitoring. Do you understand?"

"Yes sir."

"Inform me when the prisoners are all secure in their cells."

"That's weird," Peanut told her girls. "Look, there's no one walking the perimeter. Not a guard in sight."

The others joined her at the barred window and scanned the walls. She was right, no guards were outside. The leader of the Asian gang pointed with her chin towards the security gate at the end of the cell block. "Take a look around."

Lei strolled casually towards the far end of the cell. On the other side of the gate was a small room where a guard monitored the activities in the open Rec center and kept watch during the night. Normally a light could be seen shining from beneath the door, but tonight it was dark. Wondering if someone was in there, she leaned on the gate. No reaction. The guard should have gotten on the speaker and told her to move away from it.

Grinning, Lei sent the bird towards the dark room and laughed. She turned around and jogged back to Peanut.

"No one there. No one outside. Makes a girl wonder you know?"

Peanut grinned. "Maybe they're all out with the clox. Or maybe they have their hands full somewhere else. Either way, why not take advantage of it?"

Duster huddled in the dark cell, lit only by a slim beam of light coming from the slot in the metal door. She shivered, unable to stop the trembling shaking her body. She wasn't cold, far from it, the tiny cells in Solitary faced the sun most of the day and were like ovens.

The one time she had spent time here had been a nightmare. Now, with the other problems she was facing, it was worse. Did Janet really think she needed to be locked up in a funny farm? Self doubt and the fear she was really crazy made her thoughts swirl. She wasn't sure about anything anymore, not even her own grasp on reality.

She wanted Sandra. When she was with Sandra, her doubts usually went away and she felt comforted by her presence. She felt safe with her. Duster felt tears slide down her face.

Alone and afraid, she remained huddled and just waited.

The Asian gang broke through the lock of the gate and rushed into the corridors. Their excited shouts as they passed the gates of other wings roused the inmates inside of them.

They hadn't seen a single guard and unaware of the gathering of the officials outside the prison walls.

"No guards! No guards!" they shouted. The riot had begun. In cell block Four, the guards had just locked up the occupants but not yet left through the gate. The women stumbled into the section and spotted the lone guard monitoring from the small office, the door open. The mass of women rushed into it and grabbed the female officer, beating her until she was unconscious. One of the prisoners grabbed her stun gun and whooped as she scoope d up her new possession.

On the other side of gate stood the four remaining guards, unable to do a thing. Without someone pressing the buzzer on the other side, they were trapped. The prisoner aimed her stun gun and managed to graze one guard as the others rushed to cover. He shook off the effects and crawled behind a wall, out of range.

"Shit! Gimme that gun you moron! You can't aim for crap," Bea complained, snatching it away from her.

"Never mind that, let's keep moving. Those guys ain't going anywhere," Peanut shouted. "Lei, cut the service wires so no one can let them out and lets go!"

Duster became aware of a rumble of voices nearby and getting closer. Curious, she stood in her cell and peeked through the slot on her door. Spotting several members of her gang, she shouted at them.

"Duster!" Squeaker squealed, bending down to meet her gaze through the opening. "Give us a minute to get you out of there."

"Squeaks, what's going on?"

"Riot and prison break! There ain't no guards, the place is deserted.!"

"WHAT?" Duster blinked, trying to think clearly. "Squeaker, listen to me. Ten gets you twenty that the military is waiting outside and no one is getting out alive! Don't risk it! It just isn't worth it!"

"Why not? They kill everyone!"

"Yes they can! I want you all to listen to me. Go back to your cells and stay there! I want all of my girls tucked into bed and looking sweet and innocent when they storm the place. Do you hear me?"

Many of the women wanted to protest but they were used to obeying Duster. She often was proven right, time and again. The women sagged in defeat, the rush of adrenaline and excitement dying off. Squeaker nodded in disappointment and joined the rest in the trek back to their cell block.

The pandemonium was finished. The army had taken control of the prison within a few hours. Peanut and her gang had made it as far as the outer gates, the sirens shrilling as they went through the computer ran security grid. Their tracking devices triggering the alarm. Several had been shot by the surrounding military and the rest gave up quickly.

They had been lucky. The Warden, in his panic over the situation, had forgotten to set the EDS, an option for triggering the explosives in the tracking devices if they went past the security field. They could have all died when they left the building if he had.

Once control had been established, Warden Southerland ranted over the criminal actions of his former staff, promising to press charges against them. The Major in charge of the army just let him rant. He knew enough that a formal investigation and hearings would be held. In the meantime, he had his orders.

The inmates would be locked into their cells and remain there until a crew of policeman could be assigned to replace the prison staff. Emergency repair crews were on their way to replace the gates and other damaged security related equipment. It was a mess.

Special Investigator McCormick sat in a room located in the administration area of the prison, interrogating one by one, the guards who had remained on duty.

Sander was the third one spoken to.

"Okay Robertson, what happened?" he asked his agent.

"Sanders didn't need to explain the facts already known. He covered the circumstances surrounding the inmate Debra Michaels.

"So they did as he told him. Humph! Damn fool. Did you say the prison counselor recommended that the inmate be moved?"

"Yes, that's what I heard through the door. Southerland told her she wasn't leaving his prison if he could help it, even if he had to trump up phony charges. The man was ranting at her. I don't know what his problem is with her, but she's getting a raw deal," Agent Robertson commented.

"If she's here, have Williams come see me. It's time we chatted."

Almost an hour later, Janet Williams phoned him. The civilian personnel were not yet allowed back into the prison.

"Thanks for calling doctor. I have a few questions for you. I understand that you recommended to the Warden that inmate Michaels to be transferred from the prison?"

"Yes. She's under tremendous strain inside the prison, ones that prevent her rehabilitation. Warden Southerland refused the transfer in spite of my explanations. I had planned on approaching the Civil Administration in her behalf."

"You don't feel she's unstable?"

"No, I don't. She's just a young woman suffering from extreme stress. I feel it's best that she be removed from the enviroment of the prison."

"Do you know what happened between the two of them after you saw him?"

"No, could you tell me?"

"Michael held the Warden hostage for several minutes until a female guard calmed her down. She was then locked up in solitary," he said, skipping many details. "Do you still feel she isn't insane?"

"Yes. My view hasn't changed, but I would like to see her. I'm sure she's upset."

"Just a few more questions doctor. Do you know why the Warden feels such animosity towards Michaels?"

"No, but there must be something. His behavior hasn't been objective when it concerns Debra Michaels."

"And Warden Southerland. Doctor, in your professional view, is he unstable?" he asked bluntly.

"He is not my patient Investigator, but if I had to give a tentative opinion, I would suggest that he seek professional help," she told him.

He thanked her and promised to inform her when she could return to work.

Calling the Governor, he gave his preliminary report.

The Chief of the Piedmont Patrol entered Warden Southerland's office, followed by two of his officers.

"Randolph Southerland? I am issuing you a court order to vacate the prison until an official investigation is completed. You are suspended as Acting Warden until then. You are ordered by the court to not contact anyone connected to the criminal system, including officers, guards, personnel, or inmates. Any such actions will result in termination and criminal charges for Contempt of Court. Is that clear?" the Chief asked as he handed over the Warden's copy of the Writ.

Southerland snatched the papers from his hand, glancing at them. Furious, he grabbed his briefcase and stormed out of the building.

The Chief phoned the investigator, telling him the Warden was exiting the compound.

Entering a set of passwords and commands into the computer, Investigator McCormick removed the Warden's access codes. He picked up the phone and dialed the number to the former head supervisor to the guards.

To Be Continued

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