From the Inside Flap
Shane had an instant dislike for Pete when the man showed up.
After their brief conversation, Shane and Frank had retreated to the car, while Gordon had gone back to his truck. As the time passed other vehicles arrived. Pick-ups and vans, contractors ready to look at the property.
The snowfall was light, and it was well after ten in the morning when a black Cadillac Escalade pulled into the small parking lot. The vanity plate on the SUV read, 'P-Dawg,' and the man who got out of the vehicle swaggered as he walked.
"That," Frank said in a low voice, "is Pete Dawson, Ollie's brother."
"Thus, P-Dawg?" Shane asked.
Shane and Frank got out of the car as Gordon and the men exited their own vehicles. Pete, Shane noticed, had on all new clothes. Jeans, work boots, and a Carhart jacket that looked as though they were fresh off the shelves. Pete looked like an unattractive male model in the working gear, someone unused to any sort of physical labor.
His dark brown hair was clipped in the latest fashion, and his beard was trim and neat as well. It was cut to highlight the line of his jaw and to hide the weakness of his chin. The man's brown eyes were narrow and close to one another.
"Good morning!" Pete said, grinning, and his voice was grating, reminding Shane of the squawking of a duck.
There were some grumbled replies, but Gordon returned the grin, saying, "Nice of you to show up, Peter."
Pete flinched at the words. "Well, traffic was rough on two ninety-five."
"Ah," Gordon said, nodding. "It wasn't for us. But we all got here at nine when we were asked to be here."
Pete cleared his throat. "Sorry about that, fellas."
"Anyway," Gordon said. "I don't know if I speak for everyone else, but I'd like to see what it looks like in there. Then maybe we can all get down to basics, huh?"
"Good idea," Pete said. With all of the bravado of a small town mayor, Pete led the way through the lot. They came to a narrow corridor formed by old and rusted wire fence. Razor wire was strewn across it, and Shane had an uncomfortable feeling.
"What's up?" Frank asked, glancing at him.
"Feels like we're being watched," Shane replied.
Frank looked up at the walls and the glass behind thick, cage-like steel.
"Yeah," Frank said. "Sure does."
Pete stopped at the doors. They were ancient in appearance, scarred and battered. A thick, iron chain was looped through the handles, a massive lock keeping them closed.
Shane looked at the chain. Rust from the links had stained the front of the doors, giving them the appearance of being blood stained.
He was distracted as Pete stood there and patted down the pockets of the new jacket.
"What's wrong, Peter?" Gordon asked, his voice thick with disdain.
Pete jerked around. "Ah, I think I left the keys in my other jacket."
"Not just the key to the lock here?" Gordon asked as some of the men groaned.
"No," Pete said. "Um, the keys to all of the different rooms and stuff."
Someone muttered about the whole job being a waste of time, and Gordon raised a hand. The men became silent.
"I have a pair of bolt cutters in my truck," Gordon said. "We can at least get inside and get a feel for the work that needs to be done. This way the day won't be a waste for the rest of us. If you're okay with it, Peter."
Pete nodded and the men stepped aside as much as they could, pressing themselves against the fence to let Gordon by. While the older man was gone, Pete took the opportunity to introduce himself to some of the men he didn't know.
"Frank!" Pete cried out. "I haven't seen you since you got out of the Army. What the hell happened to your face?"
"RPG hit a rock near me," Frank said. "You'd be amazed at how much it hurts."
"Can you even see out of your eye?" Pete said, leaning in for a closer look.
"Yes," Frank said, and Shane could hear the tightness in Frank's voice. "Yes, I can. Pete."
"Good, good," Pete said, and then he turned to Shane. He offered his hand, and Shane shook it. "Damn, what happened to your hair?"
Shane fought the urge to light a cigarette and put it out on Pete's tongue.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Shane replied.
"Try me!" Pete grinned.
"I was trapped in the walls of my house with some ghosts as a boy," Shane said. "All of my hair fell out, and it never grew back."
Pete continued to grin as if waiting for a punch line. When one didn't come, he straightened up and looked around. "Okay, alright. Um, hey, here comes Gordon."
Shane turned and saw the older man. Gordon carried a well-used pair of red-handled bolt-cutters. As Gordon passed by, Shane's attention was drawn back to the iron chain.
Why iron? he wondered. Where the hell would they even get iron, and why?
Shane stiffened. "Pete."
Pete looked at him, "Yeah?"
"Are there any ghosts in here?" Shane asked.
The man smirked. "Why, you afraid?"
Frank put out a hand, restraining Shane.
Before Shane could speak again, there was a loud, sharp crack as the bolt-cutters severed a link. The chain rattled as one of the men pulled it out from between the handles.
All of Kurkow Prison seemed to sigh.
A wave of cold air rolled over them, the doors bowing out for a heartbeat.
"What the hell was that?" One of the men asked.
"Something bad," Shane said in a low voice.
Pete glanced at him. "What could be bad about cold air?"
As the last word left the man's lips, the windows on the first floor of the prison exploded outwards.