Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Prison walls

For those of you who don't know; Horrorwritingdaddy spent some time in prison. Ah yes, I can hear the collective wetting of the women's panties now. Bad boys are hot, I know.
Anyway, this story is from my time behind bars.

There was nothing but echoes moving through the prison, even the shadows seemed to have settled in for the night. Lock down was three hours past and all the inmates were settled into their cots for the night. All except for me. i walked down the long ramp from the housing units struggling to keep my balance as i headed down the slick marble floor. An officer was waiting for me at the bottom, one hand resting on his gun belt, the other leaning on the cool cinder block wall. I reached his side and immediatly grabbed the wall; I knew the procedure, 4 years is enough time for anyone to learn the ropes.
I had known this officer for the past 2 years. He was a good enough guy, not a super cop, not a dirty piece of shit. He did a quick and needless search of my person without violating too much of my ego and pushed the button in front of the first slider.
A couple seconds later there was a metallic hum as the door slid open (hence the term "slider") and we stepped through and headed down a long thin hallway past the kitchen, now closed and dark, the laundry room, likewise silent, and up to the next slider. Again we waited.
"You catch RAW tonight?" I asked the officer. As stupid as it was most inmates watched professional wrestling. We loved the story lines.
"Yeah." The officer said. "Kind of lame that Triple H kidnapped Stephanie and married her."
"I saw it coming." I told him. "I don't care what the story line is, Stephanie is hot."
"She's not bad." we walked through the last slider after traveling for about three minutes down the hallway. We crossed over a thick painted red line in the floor, the designation for most inmates to stop. I was a trustee, an inmate with little time left and little interest in escaping. I wasn't a risk, so I was allowed all through the prison.
Past the red line was a heavy metal gate which had to be opened manually. There was no electronic controls. Beyond that gate was the loading dock and the dry storage area. We were heading into the dry storage room and through to the back where the painting supplies were located.
The officer removed the keys off his gun belt (the CO's called it a gun belt even thought they weren't allowed to carry guns in the prison, stupid right?) and hunted throught the dozens of keys searching for the correct one. He found it and took hold of the lock then paused, cocking his head to the side.
"Whats the matter?" I asked.
"I thought I heard something." The officer slid the key into the lock and turned. I heard the tiny click of the lock and then a sudden loud bang. We both jumped and the officer immediatly looked at me. I put my hands up.
"Wasn't me, man." I kept both hands in the air just to be non-threatening but pointed at one of the large overhead doors about a hundred feet from us. "It came from in there."
"Bullshit." The officer said. "No one else is down here."
"If it wasn't me and it wasn't you then it has to be someone else." I said. Logic didn't always register with Correction Officers.
"K-1 to Secondary," The offer spoke into his two-way radio.
"Go for secondary" came the staticky voice.
"Reguest signal 16." A signal 16 was a scan of the officers immediate area with the security cameras.
There was a thirty second pause. "Signal 16 is 10-1."
"There isn't anyone back there." The officer said. He started to remove the lock. Again there was a loud bang from the overhead door. This time we both saw the door shaking after the impact.
The officer replaced the lock on the gate and looked over at me. I have to admit i was a little scared. Common sense said no one was there, the guards looking through the cameras said there was no one there, and at this time of night there was no reason fo anyone to be there. Yet someone was there.
"What the fuck?" The officer removed the lock and opened the gate.
This time the noise was intense, the overhead door shaking violently and the sound of a hundred hands slamming against it filled the hallway. I was halfway through the door when the noise started. It scared me so much that I dove back behind the gate with the officer right at my heels. He hit the ground and slammed the gate and struggled to his knees to replace the lock.
"Holy fucking shit" I screamed, but I could barely hear my own voice. On top of the pounding there was now screaming. it sounded like a thousand men screaming for help at the top of their lungs. Thick black smokie began to drift out lazily from underneath the overhead door. The smell hit us before we ever saw it, but it wasn't more than a couple seconds before the hallway was filling with it.
"Code 3 loading dock. Code 3 loading dock!" The officer screamed into his radio. There was no reply. The smoke got thicker and I began to cough.
"Code 3. I repeat Code 3." He coughed a couple times and repeated the code. Nothing. There should have been a call going out over the loud speaker. There should have been flashing lights and a siren. Nothing was happening. We were both coughing, struggling for breathe as not only smoke came out from underneath the door, but now the bright dancing light of fire. The screams from the other side of the door were agonizing to listen too. Men were being burned alive a hundred feet from me and I could hear the torment in their voices. I could hear the sizzle of their flesh as the flames licked over them.
"Code one." He coughed, sucked in some air and coughed again. "Code one officer down officer down." He tried to yell but his voice was already raw and weak.
The overhead door began to bulge outward as the fire superheated the metal. It was only a couple minutes now before I would be cooked to death. Nice.
And then it was over.
The officer and I were laying on the floor struggling to breath when all of a sudden the air became fresh and clean. The smoke was gone, the noise was gone, the heat was gone. We looked at each other and then around the room and quickly got to our feet.
"What the fuck?" I asked.
"I, um..." The officer tried to come up with an answer but he couldn't. "I, uh..."
"What the fuck was that man?" I was looking around the room for any sign of the fire, but there was nothing.
We stood there for a very long time before either of us spoke. We were staring at the overhead door a hundred feet away from us, praying it wouldn't move, praying nothing was behind it.
i don't know about the officer, but I suddenly became very aware of the camera that was watching us just stand there.
"What the fuck happened?" My voice was just over a whisper.
"I have no idea." The officer unlocked the gate and swung the door open. "I suggest we forget it and go about our day."
"Not very fucking likely." I replied.
He looked across the loading dock at the overhead door.
"Go ahead." He said, motioning me forward with a nod of his head.
"Fuck you." I stepped back "If your so fucking brave you can go in there. You have to unlock the overhead anyway."
"Fine." He said it with conviction but didn't move.
Eventually I walked past him and moved very cautiously into the loading dock. I stood in front of the overhead and waited a few seconds before he finally showed up and unlocked the door. There was a long circle of chain you have to pull to open the door. He motioned for me to pull it. Inmates are not allowed to touch doors or locks or anything that has to do with either.
"No way man, I can't do that." I took a step back again.
The officer sighed and began to pull the chain. I took another step back and looked under the door as it slowly went up.
That night I retrieved the supplies and we left without incident. I worked that night with the paint crew and eventually went back to my cell where I couldn't sleep. It took three days worth of exhaustion before I finally slept, and it was a horrible sleep plagued with nightmares about fires and smoke.
The officer never returned to work.

Turns out there was a fire in the prison fifty years ago. What was now dry storage used to be a housing unit. Fifty inmates and three officers died in the fire. I got to relive their last moments on the anniversary of their death.
Lucky me.

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