Mike and Keelan meet each other as opposites in a prison where violence, murder, and power games are everyday life. To survive they make a pact. They stand together against the rough life in a hell where the prisoners are nothing more than numbers in a book and left to their own fates—a fate where one’s place in a twisted hierarchy is paramount for survival.
But can a mercenary, who worked for the law, trust a murderer?
Can that murderer trust the mercenary?
My mind is completely blank. Thoughts refuse to stay in my dazed head long enough to be completed. On second thought it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been sitting here for three hours now…three months actually, but I only just came out of cryo-sleep. The past three hours feels like three months, though.
Eleven other men sit around me—most of them lacking as much facial color as I probably do. Two of them don’t seem intelligent enough to know why they should be afraid.
No matter how many times I cursed myself for having taken that assignment, it doesn’t change anything now. No matter how much I hate that corrupt judge, it doesn’t change the fact that I sit here shackled in the belly of a prison transport.
Medium security prison—Delta Zeich. Shit! However much I want to keep my dignity, I seriously dread pissing myself. When the transport lands in the docking area and the ramp goes down, I’ll lose control over my bladder.
Unless I get to empty it first, that is.
The monotonous hum in the hull seemed almost soothing to Mike, and with a cryo-fog hanging over their heads the twelve men swayed drowsily. Two guards sat at the end of the gangway—both comfortably sprawled in their seats with their weapons leaning against them. From there they were keeping an eye on the prisoners.
”Hey, can I use the toilet?” asked Mike.
“Can’t you hold it a bit longer?” a guard complained.
“I’ve been holding it for three months.”
The guards exchanged glances before one of them sighed loudly and got up.
“Name and number?”
”Matthews, Mike T, number four-four-eight.”
The guard entered something into a computer in the wall and Mike’s shackles were released from the rack in front of him.
”On your feet…step forward onto the middle gangway and face me…arms out front, palms up.”
Mike did as he was told, grateful that he had asked to use the toilet in time. With the whole procedure and with a guard that indifferent, a man in serious need would have cried yellow tears from exertion by that point.
“Hurry up,” the guard mumbled, shoving him through the door to the toilet before leaning against the doorframe to watch. Mike half turned.
“Can I piss in private?”
The guard once again sighed loudly and closed the door. Mike turned to the toilet, groaning in relief as the pressure on his bladder subsided.
Just because my bladder is empty there’s bound to be a reaction anyway. Mike straightened his clothes. He felt nauseous and envied the two idiots opposite his own row. Splashing cold water in his face made the cryo-fog subside a bit, but he was still tired. He felt as if he walked beside himself and with his head inside a bell.
A loud knocking on the door dragged Mike back to reality.
“Come on, no one accumulates that much piss in three months of cryo,” the guard yelled. Mike turned and stared angrily at the door.
“Incompetent ass,” he mumbled and left the toilet. The guard nudged him back to the holding area. Mike plumped back into his seat and held the shackles into the rack which closed with a metallic click.
”How long until we land? Do you know?” asked the man next to Mike. Mike looked at him out the corner of his eye. Never before had he seen a man that ugly, gangly, and out of proportion. But it was something in his eyes that really called for pity.
“Hopefully in a year, it was just a mistake they awoke us from cryo.”
“Really?” The hope in the man’s eyes cut into Mike.
”No. We begin the approach in a few hours.”
The hope in the man’s eyes died and suddenly Mike’s nausea didn’t seem that bad. The ugly, little man seemed to feel much worse.
“You been here before?” the prisoner next to the ugly man asked. Mike leaned forward and looked at him. He recognized him as a robber who had been wanted for about six months. Jared something.
“No,” Mike answered, leaning back.
“Then how do you know it’s only a few hours?”
Mike swallowed, contemplating his answer.
“Such is the procedure at any other prison, why not this one?”
“Ah,” Jared said, leaning back.
The rest of the trip passed in silence. Everyone turned paler and paler with the exception of the two idiots. One even managed to laugh at the other idiot’s lame jokes.
If the nausea had become worse or if it was all in his head, Mike couldn’t tell. He still had to concentrate on his breathing as they were hustled down the ramp and out onto the dock.
“Is the prison this big?” the ugly, little man asked, looking around.
“This is a dock and they come bigger,” Mike said while the other prisoners looked around in awe. The guards there looked more vigilant than the two who had been watching them on their way over. But that didn’t impress Mike either. It wouldn’t take much effort to outdo them.
Mike ended up somewhere in the middle of the row as they were led through the inner gates and down a hallway.
“Stop!” a guard yelled. ”Turn left!”
“What’re we, in the military?” Jared whispered, leaning slightly toward Mike.
“If you had been, you’d have learned to shut up when in formation,” Mike whispered. A guard took three long strides toward them and swung Jared a solid right hook, sending him backward out of line. Another guard caught him and shoved him back into place beside Mike.
“You don’t talk unless I tell you to!” the first guard yelled.
“Yeah, yeah!” Jared said, regaining his balance.
“Into the cells!” the guard bellowed. Mike walked in and heard the lattice doors behind him slam shut.
“Fuck, what a blow. Why didn’t he hit you?”