So, for long time readers, this won't matter too much. However, if you haven't read anything from me, I'm going to post a chapter of The Devil's Dream every week on here. So if you're bored at work, or your spouse is angry with you at dinner, pull the site up and start reading. Hope you enjoy!
The building looked just like any other. Wood, metal, concrete. It sat on land about as rural as one would find in Phoenix. The federal government had bought up everything around it in a radial mile so that no structures could border it. A building standing alone, by itself, and that was the only thing that looked any different about it for Allison. It was alone in a city. Except she knew the inside, the guts of this building, were different. There wasn't another one like it in the whole country; none of them contained what this one did. A building that stretched across an acre and inside it held three men.
That wasn't right though; it held two now. One left this morning, just up and checked out of The Wall.
The name didn't suit the building, that's what Allison realized as she sat in her car looking up at it. It wasn't very high. Two stories. It was large, but the moniker didn't fit.
The congressman who introduced the legislation came up with the idea, not the scientists who figured out how it would all work. The idea was simple and that's why the name was too. The Wall would keep the people you couldn't kill away from society. Forever. The ones that you couldn't let die, for whatever reason, but couldn't let live either, they would be kept behind The Wall for as long as needed.
It wasn't even invented for Matthew Brand. The first, if Allison remembered correctly—she probably didn't though, she never remembered names—was an Arthur Morgant. The guy raped his niece and then murdered her. Was a real piece of work. Nothing special about him, not like Brand, until they got him into prison. They ran some blood work on him and found out he was immune to the AIDS virus. Wasn't just immune, but would actively attack the virus, wiping it out.
That wouldn't have changed things too much for Arthur except he just happened to be extremely unlucky in his timing. Had he raped the young girl five years before, he probably would have just went to the gas chamber and been done with the whole life thing. Instead, the science evolved at just the right time to go into human trials, and thus The Wall was born. The ACLU and other civil rights groups protested against it, but in the end the congressman got his way and Arthur was inducted as the First Member of The Wall. They froze him, basically, his mind and body, so that they could run tests on his blood. The story faded from view shortly after Matthew was locked up, and Allison thought no more about it. She imagined they were still draining blood from him, still trying to replicate what his body could do, but there didn't seem to be any major breakthroughs yet. Poor Arthur was still suspended in some type of hibernation.
Brand had been put in there too, but for a different reason. He didn't have anything that the US could use immediately, like Arthur, but he could have uses in the future, The Powers That Be reasoned. Every time someone went into The Wall, it was national news, with discussion on both sides about the pros and cons to such a measure. Allison was for it, had been since the beginning. If they weren't in here, they were just going to be locked up or put to death, so what did it really matter?
She opened her car door and stepped on the asphalt. Cars filled the parking lot, even at six in the morning. The sun still rested below the horizon, but Allison was the last to arrive apparently. This is what she had waited for, to be walking into a building like this with an assignment seemingly picked from heaven. A career assignment. Art called her and let her know he selected her name to head up the task force. Fifteen years and here it was, laid out before her, and all she had to do was perform. All she had to do was find Brand and bring him back. To here. To the electric chair. To wherever they wanted him, it was her job to simply bring him there.
She closed her door and walked across the parking lot to The Wall.
* * *
"This is it?"
The man next to her gave a small laugh, his first sign of happiness since being introduced to Allison.
"Not what you were expecting?"
The building seemed endless. Hallways upon hallways, offices branching out from the hallways like small homes in an underground labyrinth. Massive rooms full of computers that, she was told, could hold the entire Internet in them if needed. The place felt like a separate world, something other than the Earth that she inhabited before stepping in here. The vastness, the people traveling the hallways, and the words this man spoke with—all of it was so different.
And all of it created for the objects in front of her.
Which was, when compared with the rest of the building, nothing.
She looked at The Wall, the core to this entire operation, feeling like she'd been lied to. You're told Santa Clause brings your presents every Christmas, and then at some point you either see your parents wrapping the boxes or they simply have a conversation with you, and you realize that Santa had never been there. You realized your parents had been there doing it for you the entire time, because they loved you obviously, but nonetheless, in that love they had lied. It felt the same here; The Wall protected the world from the worst and at the same time gave the world access to whatever those prisoners possessed that it might need. The Wall, though, was three oval glass containers, each about ten feet long and five feet wide. That was it. Nothing huge, nothing to inspire awe in those looking upon it.
"I guess, I thought it would be bigger or something," Allison responded.
"Nope, just these three containers, which we call Silos. Might surprise you to know that each one costs ten million dollars to create. That's thirty million dollars of glass in front of you."
Allison walked closer, not asking permission. This had been Dr. Tom Riley's building last night; now it was hers and he knew it. Dr. Riley would be lucky to have his job when this was all over with, not by any of Allison's doing, but simply because he was the man that presided over Matthew Brand's escape from an escape-proof prison. The best he could do now would be to assist in any way possible, and she hoped he understood that.
She placed her hand on the empty Silo, the one in the middle. It was cool to the touch, like it might have just been pulled from a refrigerator. Her fingers ran across the smooth glass feeling no imperfections. The thing sat at an angle, two clear glass poles attached both to the ground and the middle of the Silo kept it a few inches off the ground. The door to the Silo stood open, Dr. Riley saying they had not touched it. No handles on either side, just opened outward and left there.
Allison turned to look at the Silo on her left. This was old Arthur, child rapist and perhaps savior of Africa if his blood could be figured out. Gas surrounded him, creating a hazy shield that she peered through. No prisoners were actually frozen; they were inserted naked and subdued, magnets attached to their skin so that they would remain suspended, and then the gas did the rest of the work. It preserved both the skin, the inside organs, and the brain as the prisoner breathed it in and out.
"It won't keep them forever. A couple hundred years probably, but he is aging inside there. Just much slower than the rest of us."
Allison didn't turn around, but gazed in at the black man's face. His eyes were open, but he only stared at the ceiling blankly. "So if they can't figure out how his body attacks the AIDS virus in a few hundred years, he'll die?"
"Yeah, his heart or something else will give out."
No one else stood in the room with them.
"What about Brand, are there going to be any lingering effects for him?"
"Yes, I would imagine so. There were in the animal trials. Nothing permanent, but he's going to be moving rather slowly over the next few days."
"Too bad he probably isn't on foot," Allison said, turning away from the prisoner to look at the empty Silo again. "So how did he get out, Dr. Riley?" She leaned over and stuck her head inside the Silo, looking around as if she would see something new.
"We don't know yet. We're checking right now, looking through every bit of data we have, but it's not theoretically possible. The patient is asleep. I mean, we can even see their dreams."
"Yet here we are, looking at an empty jail cell, huh?"
Dr. Riley nodded but said nothing.
Allison pulled herself out of The Silo and looked at him.
"You know we're going to be operating out of this place for a while, right? You'll be able to continue with your work, but you'll be expected to contribute to the investigation in that we need you to discover how he got out. Anything else you find out too. Can you do that?"
"Yes, of course."
"Good. Now if our people shouldn't be setting up somewhere, let me know and I'll make sure to move them somewhere else. We're in charge but we're also guests and I'll remember that."
Riley only nodded again. He didn't look good, like a kid just finding out that his first day at Disney World was going to be rained out. A sadness the kid hadn't known was possible until that very moment. He wasn't crying, but Allison wasn't sure that would be true for the entire day.
"Okay, doc, let's get started."