My Lady Greensleeves
After O’Leary and the medic left, the warden tottered to a chair--but not for long. His secretary appeared, eyes bulging. “The governor!” he gasped.
Warden Schluckebier managed to say: “Why, Governor! How good of you to come--”
The governor shook him off and held the door open for the men who had come with him. There were reporters from all the news services, officials from the township governments within the city-state. There was an Air GI with major’s leaves on his collar--”Liaison, sir,” he explained crisply to the warden, “just in case you have any orders for our men up there.” There were nearly a dozen others.
The warden was quite overcome.
The governor rapped out: “Warden, no criticism of you, of course, but I’ve come to take personal charge. I’m superseding you under Rule Twelve, Paragraph A, of the Uniform Civil Service Code. Right?”
“Oh, right!” cried the warden, incredulous with joy.
“The situation is bad--perhaps worse than you think. I’m seriously concerned about the hostages those men have in there. And I had a call from Senator Bradley a short time ago--”
“Senator Bradley?” echoed the warden.
“Senator Sebastian Bradley. One of our foremost civil servants,” the governor said firmly. “It so happens that his daughter is in Block O as an inmate.”
The warden closed his eyes. He tried to swallow, but the throat muscles were paralyzed.
“There is no question,” the governor went on briskly, “about the propriety of her being there. She was duly convicted of a felonious act, namely conspiracy and incitement to riot. But you see the position.”
The warden saw all too well.
“Therefore,” said the governor. “I intend to go in to Block O myself. Sebastian Bradley is an old and personal friend--as well,” he emphasized, “as being a senior member of the Reclassification Board. I understand a medic is going to Block O. I shall go with him.”
The warden managed to sit up straight. “He’s gone. I mean they already left, Governor. But I assure you Miss Brad--Inmate Bradley--that is, the young lady is in no danger. I have already taken precautions,” he said, gaining confidence as he listened to himself talk. “I--uh--I was deciding on a course of action as you came in. See, Governor, the guards on the walls are all armed. All they have to do is fire a couple of rounds into the yard and then the ‘copters could start dropping tear gas and light fragmentation bombs and--”
The governor was already at the door. “You will not,” he said; and: “Now which way did they go?”
O’Leary was in the yard and he was smelling trouble, loud and strong. The first he knew that the rest of the prison had caught the riot fever was when the lights flared on in Cell Block A.
“That Sodaro!” he snarled, but there wasn’t time to worry about that Sodaro. He grabbed the rest of his guard detail and double-timed it toward the New Building, leaving the medic and a couple of guards walking sedately toward the Old. Block A, on the New Building’s lowest tier, was already coming to life; a dozen yards, and Blocks B and C lighted up.
And a dozen yards more and they could hear the yelling; and it wasn’t more than a minute before the building doors opened.
The cons had taken over three more blocks. How? O’Leary didn’t take time even to guess. The inmates were piling out into the yard. He took one look at the rushing mob. Crazy! It was Wilmer Lafon leading the rioters, with a guard’s gun and a voice screaming threats! But O’Leary didn’t take time to worry about an honor prisoner gone bad, either.
“Let’s get out of here!” he bellowed to the detachment, and they ran.
Just plain ran. Cut and ran, scattering as they went.
“Wait!” screamed O’Leary, but they weren’t waiting. Cursing himself for letting them get out of hand, O’Leary salvaged two guards and headed on the run for the Old Building, huge and dark, all but the topmost lights of Block O.
They saw the medic and his escort disappearing into the bulk of the Old Building and they saw something else. There were inmates between them and the Old Building! The Shops Building lay between--with a dozen more cell blocks over the workshops that gave it its name--and there was a milling rush of activity around its entrance, next to the laundry shed--
The laundry shed.
O’Leary stood stock still. Lafon leading the breakout from Block A. The little greaser who was a trusty in the Shops Building sabotaging the yard’s tangler circuit. Sauer and Flock taking over the Greensleeves with a manufactured knife and a lot of guts.
Did it fit together? Was it all part of a plan?
That was something to find out--but not just then. “Come on,” O’Leary cried to the two guards, and they raced for the temporary safety of the main gates.
The whole prison was up and yelling now.
O’Leary could hear scattered shots from the beat guards on the wall--Over their heads, over their heads! he prayed silently. And there were other shots that seemed to come from inside the walls--guards shooting, or convicts with guards’ guns, he couldn’t tell which. The yard was full of convicts now, in bunches and clumps; but none near the gate. And they seemed to have lost some of their drive. They were milling around, lit by the searchlights from the wall, yelling and making a lot of noise ... but going nowhere in particular. Waiting for a leader, O’Leary thought, and wondered briefly what had become of Lafon.
“You Captain O’Leary?” somebody demanded.
He turned and blinked. Good Lord, the governor! He was coming through the gate, waving aside the gate guards, alone. “You him?” the governor repeated. “All right, glad I found you. I’m going into Block O with you.”
O’Leary swallowed and waved inarticulately at the teeming cons. True, there were none immediately near by--but there were plenty in the yard! Riots meant breaking things up; already the inmates had started to break up the machines in the laundry shed and the athletic equipment in the yard lockers. When they found a couple of choice breakables like O’Leary and the governor, they’d have a ball!
“But my foot! Can you get me in there or can’t you?”
O’Leary gauged their chances. It wasn’t more than fifty feet to the main entrance to the Old Building--not at the moment guarded, since all the guards were in hiding or on the walls, and not as yet being invaded by the inmates at large.