TIME SPIKE – snippet 41:



            After Haggerty and Bostic left, Luff looked at the unmoving clock again, his mouth a hard straight line. Their prison was still their prison.

            He got up and went to the window. Things were moving too fast. He didn’t know what to do. Hitler killed and disposed of something like six million Jews. You’d think a thousand or so dead cons shouldn’t be that hard to arrange.

            But it was trickier than it looked.

            He couldn’t leave them in their cells to starve and rot. That would draw vermin, and pretty soon they’d have an epidemic—with no medical people except one uncooperative redskin EMT.

            He couldn’t shoot them. They had to conserve as much ammunition as possible. There was no way to replace it, and they still had Blacklock to deal with. Not to mention wild Indians and what sounded like wilder Spaniards and fucking dinosaurs and God knew what else.

            He couldn’t just turn them out. Some of them—probably most of them—would die, sure, but some wouldn’t. When Blacklock showed up, they’d slobber over him like dogs. That would give Blacklock an edge. Dealing with Blacklock was going to be a bitch, as it was.

            And he couldn’t feed them. Not two thousand, two hundred and forty-six men. He figured he couldn’t feed more than a thousand or so. Actually, right now, he couldn’t even feed that many. But with only a thousand mouths and stomachs, he thought he’d be able to stretch out the food supply long enough to come up with alternative food sources.

            It was the only chance he had. This was really just a simple mathematical problem, when you got down to it. And he’d been a damn good accountant.

            Still was.


            Danny Bostic left the office and headed for the compound.

            Luff was crazy. He was screwing up, and Danny wasn’t going to sit on his ass and die just because the man was an idiot.

            The prison was a trap, for God’s sake, not a haven. Yeah, there were people out there. But they were people armed with rocks and spears. And, yes, their ammo wouldn’t last long. But it didn’t have to. All it had to do was get them on top of the heap. Then, they’d be home free. They could set themselves up as chiefs, with warriors they’d recruited from the natives to keep them on top. The same way any good gang got organized.

            Danny knew some history. Not much, but enough.

            Medieval times, medieval ways. Nobody started off as Duke Whoozit. They started off—their ancestors, anyhow—as the toughest and smartest barbarian gang leader around.

            Walking fast, he went down the corridor in the administration building that led to the yard. Bostic knew Luff. If the man was already planning to kill five hundred people, just like that, it wouldn’t take him long to decide that was the way for lots more to go. Including, sooner or later, Danny himself.

            Luff was a sicko. The fact that he didn’t seemed to be, didn’t have any of the obvious habits of a sicko, didn’t mean squat. Underneath, the bastard was the scariest crazy in the whole joint.

            Where would it end? Danny could already see the logic. As long as Luff was fixated on staying in the prison because he thought it was a safe haven, there’d never be enough food. How could there be? A prison was a fucking prison, for Christ’s sake. What’d he think it was? A farm?

            Cannibalism, that’s where it would end. Sooner or later, in that crazy quiet way he had, Luff would decide it just made sense for the men he wanted to stay alive to eat the ones he didn’t.

            Danny Bostic had been a criminal since he was eleven years old. Earlier, really, if you counted petty theft and misdemeanors. He made no bones about it. As far as he was concerned, so-called “honest citizens” were just damn fools. Work their asses off their whole lives so the millionaires and billionaires they worked for could buy some more yachts, and then retire on Social Security and a measly pension—assuming the pension hadn’t been shredded. Spend their last dollars paying the bill at a nursing home that smelled like piss.

            Fuck that. If Danny hadn’t been born into a great wolf pack family, he could at least make a decent weasel.

            But this was just nuts. Plain and simple nuts. Even if Luff could keep control over the situation, he didn’t seem to realize he was just the captain of a ship going down fast.

            Danny slowed his pace, as he neared the exit, trying to keep his expression neutral. That was the reason he’d pushed, at the end, for his own hunting party. He didn’t want a large band. A few men would be plenty, as long as they were well armed and well supplied. He knew the men he wanted, too. They could raid the armory, the kitchen and the infirmary before they left. Take everything they needed. Leave during the night.

            He paused at the entrance and looked down at the list of things Luff wanted him to do. He would do them. He had no choice. He had to do them and anything else the asshole told him to do. But a few days from now, he would be gone.

            First, he had to go see the Boom about the body-disposal business.

            That was another stupid move. Boomer might be crazy, but he was crazy like a fox. On that, at least, Luff had it right—but he hadn’t thought through the logic. The Boom had managed to keep his boys together for years. Word had it that his gang of misfits had even grown a lot lately. Every con not already hooked up and not full white—or who was even willing to claim he wasn’t—had attached to the man.

            That wasn’t surprising, of course. Not long after the uprising, things had gotten out of hand for a while. Every con or group of cons with a grudge to settle had settled it, or at least tried. The big gangs had steered clear of each other, but lots of loners had been taken down. That was the reason there were twenty-three bodies piled up in the yard.

            That had scared every loner in the place, and some of them had gone running to Boomer. Who—yeah, crazy, sure he was—had played that “Uncle Timmy” bullshit to the hilt.

            It was nuts. Couldn’t Luff see that Boomer and his boys needed to be kept isolated? The other gangs could be played off against each other, but Boomer’s was unpredictable. They should all be locked up tight, in lots of separate cells. You put them in charge of something—didn’t matter what it was—and you gave them the opportunity to start planning and working together.

            And then—icing on the cake—Luff wanted the new kid in charge. Jesus H. Christ. New or not, Cook was a fucking hardass, couldn’t Luff see that? With that Indian mask of a face he had, you never knew what he was thinking. Danny wouldn’t put the bastard in charge of emptying kitty litter boxes.

            Bostic left the administration building and headed toward D-house. One of the men he was planning to take with him was very good at making keys. A few of those passed out at the right time, and the rest would be history. The shit would come down and when it did, he would be long gone.