Red Stuff Part Two
"Whichever way you look at it," Alex Baker said, wearily, "It's impossible."
"You saw it for yourself," Jennings said, sitting back in his chair. He took the first of the files from his desk and flipped it open.
"You're telling me the door to Kelsey's cell was locked all night."
"He did his usual hours exercise this afternoon. Other than that and meal times, he's been locked in all day."
"Just like the others before him," Alex mused. "There used to be eight prisoners on 'B' wing, now there are five. Three have been murdered in the last month. All found inside locked cells. All torn to pieces. All with their heads missing."
"All your patients."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know these men better than anyone here, Alex," the governor said, flatly. "They talk to you."
"They don't tell me how to get inside locked cells and rip the heads off fellow prisoners."
"But you do treat them all?"
She nodded and dug in her pocket for her cigarettes.
"What do you expect me to tell you?" she wanted to know. "You've got their files there."
Jennings flipped open the first.
"Ian Fraser," he began. "Aged 32. Serving a life sentencefor the murder of his parents. Impaled his father on a wooden stake and decapitated his mother. Nickname, Dracula."
"He'd been sexually abused by both of them since he was eight," Alex offered.
"Stephen Smith," Jennings continued. "Aged 29. Another lifer. Poured battery acid down the throat of one prostitute and strangled three more." He looked at Alex who didn't speak. "Rufus Codling, aged 24. Known to his companions as Midnight. Raped and killed two women.Inserted barbed wire into the vagina of a third then attached electrodes to it. She's still in a private nursing home two years after the attack.John Macready, aged 46, also known as the Pied Piper. Responsible for nine murders, mostly of homosexual young men. He played music to themas he was cutting their throats. Performed sexual acts with the corpses and, finally, Paul Morrison, aged 30, nicknamed Picasso. During a two year period, kidnapped more than twenty children aged between four and seven. They were supposedly used in Black magic rituals. To this day, denies his involvement in the actual murders of the children.Tell me about them, Alex."
"What can I tell you that isn't in the files?"
"You see them once a week, sometimes more."
"Morrison's the most talented, if that's what you want to hear.He's a brilliant painter. That's how he got his nickname. He's also the most hated man on 'B' wing because of his involvement with the children."
"What about his involvement with black magic? How much truth do you think there is in that?"
"To him it was a religion, the same as Catholicism is to other men in here."
"Didn't he claim to have seen the Devil?"
"And several other demons," Alex smiled.
"Does he still believe?"
"If you mean is he still a practising Satanist I would guess the answer is no. His interest seems confined to his work now. That's what he paints. Pictures of demons. Of what he thinks Hell is like."
"Is that it?"
"No. He paints landscapes too. And animals. He really is a very talented man." She drew on her cigarette. "He's also the most recent arrival on 'B' wing isn't he? How long's he been here? Four months?Five at the most?"
"The murders didn't start happening until after Morrison arrived and before you ask me, I haven't got a clue how he could have been responsible.All I know is each of the three men who've been killed had run-ins with him. The first threw a cup of hot coffee at him. The second ruined one of his paintings and, last week, Kelsey went for him with a weapon he'd made from an old toothbrush and razor blades. But it's probably a coincidence." She shrugged.
"Talk to him again will you, Alex?" the governor said. "Talk to all of them."
There were always two warders positioned at the back of the room.
Just in case.
Alex had often wondered how much of her conversations they actually listened to. They couldn't help but hear it after all.
They stood there now as she pulled up a chair and sat close to the easel where Paul Morrison stood, using a variety of colours and brushes to create his latest work.
Like the other men on 'B' wing, Morrison was confined to a separate room for recreation. As he was for meals.
"You've got a great talent, Paul," Alex told him, watching as he continued to spread paint on the paper. "Were your parents artistic?"
"I never knew my parents," he told her, without taking his eyes from the painting. "I was in care from the time I was five. Doesn't it tell you that in your files?"
She stood up and looked at the picture.
"How long have you been painting?" she wanted to know.
"Since I was a kid."
"How long have you been painting this kind of thing?"
The image Morrison had created was the head and shoulders of something best left within the nightmares of a damaged mind.
It looked vaguely reptilian. The yellow eyes narrow and heavily lidded. There was no nose, just a couple of holes in the centre of the face. The mouth was open to reveal a set of long, sharp teeth, stained with blood. A tumefied tongue lolled from the gaping mouth.
"You've got a very vivid imagination," Alex told him, her eyes still fixed on the monstrous image.
"This isn't painted from imagination. It's painted from memory," he said, flatly.
"You've seen this creature? Where? In a dream?"
"I've seen it."
He turned to her and smiled. "Why don't you just ask me what you came in here to ask?" Morrison said. "Did I hear any noises the night Martin Kelsey was killed?"
"Did you? You've got the cell next to him."
Morrison shook his head.
"I didn't hear him. I didn't hear anything the nights the other two were killed either. Besides, Kelsey's been dead for over a week now, my memory's not that good."
"Do you know how they were killed?"
"How could I?"
"Word gets around in here."
"Not to me. The others don't talk to me. You know that. They hate me. They'd kill me if they could. But they can't."
Again he turned and smiled at her. "By who?" Alex wanted to know. "Who protects you, Paul?"
"Powerful friends," he grinned.
"Do you know who killed Kelsey and the others?" Alex persisted. "Or how? Do you know who could have got inside locked cells and mutilated three men almost beyond recognition?"
"There's some nasty bastards in here. Why don't you ask them?"
"I'm asking you."
"Your brother's in that band that's coming here isn't he?" Morrison said, flatly, dabbing more paint onto his creation.
"How did you hear about that?" Alex wanted to know.
"One of the warders told me. I'd like to see them when they play."
"I'm sure that can be arranged."
"What is this? A bribe? I tell you what happened to Kelsey and the other two and I get to watch the band? Is that the carrot you're dangling, Miss Baker?"
"I'm not trying to bribe you, Paul. I know you couldn't have any idea who killed the other three men. I just wanted to talk to you. Find out what you knew."
"What would you do if I said I killed them?"
"That's impossible. You were in your cell. There was no way you could get out of yours, let alone into theirs."
"Have they found the heads yet?"
Alex felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise.
"No," she murmured.
"Tell them to stop looking. They won't find them. They had a use. They were needed."
"The heads of the victims were needed? For what?"
"Certain practices require certain elements. This time it's heads."
"Who needs them?"
"I can't tell you that. I'm not sure of all the facts. I'm only a servant, Miss Baker. That's all I was on the outside. That's why I took those kids. I took them for people I served."
"And what did you get in return?"
"What kind of knowledge? What did these people teach you, Paul?"
"The pen is mightier than the sword," he chuckled.
"Check carefully in the cells of the three dead men and you'll see what I mean. You might not understand it, but you'll see it."
"What am I supposed to be looking for?"
Morrison stepped back from the painting.
"Finished," he announced, proudly.
He turned towards the warders at the back of the room.
"I'd like to go back to my cell now," he said.
"What about your painting?" Alex asked. "Don't you want it? Could I have it, please?"
"If I was you, I'd leave it where it was," he grinned, stepping happily between the two warders. "Check the cells, Miss Baker."
Alex watched as he left the room then she glanced again at the grotesque picture he'd painted. The yellow eyes transfixed her.
She finally turned and reached for the phone on the wall, jabbing the digits of an internal number.
In five minutes, Governor Matthew Jennings and two warders had joined her in the room.
Another five and Alex was standing outside the cell formerly occupied by Martin Kelsey.
"Do you know what you're looking for?" Jennings asked as one of the warders unlocked the cell.
Alex shook her head.
"He didn't say," she confessed.
"The room was stripped after Kelsey was killed. It's clean. If there'd been anything inside we'd have found it," Jennings told her.
The door swung open.
"Give me ten minutes," she said, stepping inside. She pushed the door shut and looked around the interior of the room.
It was barely twelve feet square and, as Jennings had said, it had been stripped after Kelsey's death. All that remained was the metal frame of the bed, bolted to the floor and wall. A couple of metal wall brackets that had once supported shelves and the seatless toilet all the cells on 'B' wing contained.
Alex crossed to the bed and pulled at the frame, running her hand slowly along the cold metal.
'You'll see it but you won't understand it'
Morrison's words echoed inside her head.
She wondered if the frame might be hollow, if something could be hidden inside the tubular construction. She tapped it with a pen she slid from her jacket pocket.
The frame was solid.
Next she crossed to the wall brackets and tugged on them only to find they were still securely attached to the wall. A small piece of plaster came away but that was all.
Alex took the end of her pen and slid it beneath the rim of the toilet, trying her best not to look at the brown stained porcelain around the base of the bowl.
'You'll see it but you won't understand it.
There was a very small air vent about half-way up the wall above the toilet.
Alex had to stand on the porcelain to reach it.
Again she used the end of her pen to poke in amongst the dust choked slats.
The pen caught something behind the grille.
The vent was no more than three inches square.
'You'll see it but you won't understand it'
She coughed and shielded her eyes as a cloud of dust floated thickly into the air around her.
Alex continued probing with the top of the pen.
She pressed her eye to the grille.
There was a small piece of paper caught between the metal slats.
She managed to use her fingernails to pluck at it and she finally pulled it free.
The piece of paper was the size of her thumbnail but she could clearly see that it had two edges and a corner. It had, she surmised, once been part of a much larger sheet. The torn edge was scorched. As if the paper had been burned.
There was a trace of red paint on it.
'You'll see it but you won't understand it'
Alex slipped the fragment of paper into her jacket and tapped on the door of the cell.
"You're right," she said to Jennings. "It's clean. I don't know what the hell Morrison was talking about."
Inside her pocket she kept her hand closed around the piece of paper.
© Shaun Hutson 2000