I have a process. I write in the mornings, usually while I'm on the train on my way into the City. Then I come back the next morning, re-write what I wrote the day before, and start writing again. When I finish something, I put it aside--hopefully for at least a month--to try to get some perspective on it before I go back for the first re-write.
That first re-write is tough. That's when I'm trying to fix scene structure, address holes in the plot, and generally make the story work better. But it can be hard to see what works and what doesn't, especially since I know how the story ends, so the thing holds no surprises for me. It was even tougher this time because this latest Sneax story took so long in draft that I couldn't let it sit for a whole month. So I tried to compensate by putting it out to a few trusted test-readers, but they mostly liked the story as it was... Not helpful. I mean, it made me feel good, but I mistrust people's kindness. The idea that the story achieved its purpose perfectly the first time through is ludicrous. It doesn't happen--ever.
Anyway, it's that first re-write that I finished with the Sneax story this week--for better or worse--and afterwards, I very much felt like I needed to get away from Wanderhaven for awhile. I love writing for my kids, but the Sneax stuff is decidedly YA-lit, and that's got a certain tone. I wanted to change that tone, stir up my internal monologue, and so...
I let Dr. Necropolis come to my rescue.
Warning: This next bit is definitely spicy. There's quite a bit of salty language and associated nastiness. Also, if you've not read the preceding chapters of this project, there is no way that you'll be able to follow this week's piece. The other bits are therefore archived in the Sketch in My Notebook section.
You have been warned.
The Return of Dr. Necropolis
Chapter 6: Escape!
They threw him into solitary almost immediately. Literally threw him. Fat fucking Grossman and his partner, that asshole Little, pitched Frank headlong into a tiny cell down in Solitary Confinement. He slammed face first into the wall and saw stars, was briefly dizzy and a little nauseous afterwards, having just had his ass kicked by a superhero on top of everything else.
In spite of everything, Frank laughed.
Fucking Tiffany. She was a hot piece of ass, and Frank liked her on top of that, but like every ultra-human he’d ever met, she was as stupid and arrogant as she could be. Thought deep down that her powers were what made her special, that whatever else happened, she could use her powers to get out of a jam. That ass-clown she’d brought with her, the new Centurion, he was even worse. He hadn’t even noticed when Frank had stabbed him, had been too busy worrying about throwing punches and looking tough to even think about what was happening or why. In the heat of the moment, neither of them had remembered that Tiffany had brought a metal pen with her into the interrogation room. Winters hadn’t even noticed Frank had stabbed him. That the metal in the pen had allowed Frank to pierce the stupid prick’s super-tough skin.
And his skin was super-tough. For a moment there, Frank hadn’t been sure that he’d gotten all the way through. But he had, and then he’d wiped the tiny drop of blood that he’d drawn off on his shirt. And then they’d thrown him straight into the hole without ever wondering what the Hell was going through his obviously deranged mind. Everyone was always out to show that they were badder than the dread Dr. Necropolis, that they weren’t gonna let him get an inch, not on them.
Idiots! It was never about being the toughest.
And now Frank had a sample of the new Centurion’s DNA. Of course, he’d have to wait two weeks in the hole before he could use it, but against the value of the treasure that now stained his shirt, what was two weeks? Soon Frank would be free, and then Dr. Necropolis would have his revenge.
It was only a matter of time.
It wasn’t easy spinning Amphetamine Methyl-Phencyclidine—AMP—out in a prison washroom. Frank had needed to set up a centrifuge on the backside of one of the industrial-strength prison dryers, come up with enough cough suppressing antihistamines to manufacture the methamphetamine mixture that was the base of the drug, and cook that up using stolen chemicals from around the washroom itself, along with glassware he’d taken from the kitchens and waste heat syphoned off from the dryers. Then he’d had to extract his own blood as part of a separate process, separate the parts using the makeshift centrifuge, bond the plasma to the ultra-human DNA from the Centurion’s blood sample using the chemicals he’d gotten from Sammy “the Razor” Jefferson, and run all of that back through the centrifuges by way of a rather desperate makeshift distillation process. He’d then spiked the completed concoction with PCP from the back of a set of old-school stamps, also gotten via Razor and his network. The resulting mix was highly impure, extremely dangerous and addictive, and Frank hoped, the key to his getting out of Sing Sing—perhaps sooner rather than later.
After two weeks in the hole and another two weeks of methodical work in the prison washroom, Frank had exactly one useable injector of AMP, and he had that only because he’d managed to steal a syringe and hide it away since that day when the Owl had sent him to the infirmary. Worse, he had to take it everywhere with him because he dared not put it down. If someone found it, he’d be screwed and then some. If one of his fellow prisoners took it and freaked out--a virtual certainty, given the volatile and impure nature of the mix--the prison staff would know immediately that something was up. Frank would be the only possible suspect in the mystery of the concoction’s creation; who else in Sing Sing could possibly mix a battle drug used by the People’s Liberation Army and then spike it to make sure the user got temporary super-powers? That would land Frank back in Solitary, and when they eventually did let him out, they’d be watching him.
Against that kind of scrutiny, he’d never escape.
The Siberian Tiger would continue his reign of terror, using Frank’s Neural Disrupter every step of the wayt. And more to the point, he’d keep banging Jaynie, keep rubbing Frank’s face in it, and for that alone, Frank owed him a swift kick in the ass and a broken femur. Frank planned to deliver both of those in person.
Thus, he was holding the syringe on his way to the showers on a Tuesday, exactly four and a half weeks after his visit with Tiffany Trujillo and her new partner, Blaine Winters, the new Centurion. The fact that he had it in his hands had left Frank a little distracted all week, so perhaps some kind of confrontation had been inevitable. As long as he held the syringe, he couldn’t quite stop thinking about how he was going to get the Hell out of Sing Sing. Unfortunately, that left him vulnerable.
Which is why he didn’t notice a couple of Razor’s boys following him into the shower. It was why he didn’t realize that the showers were completely empty, save for the three of them.
“Yo Frank!” one of them cried. Big man, corn-rowed, lots of prison muscle. “Razer been wonderin’ what up, my man?”
Frank turned, surprised. He took in the scene at a glance—two thugs, empty showers, no sign of the guards—and he knew at once that he was screwed. He hadn’t been paying attention, and now he was gonna pay the price. He wondered idly if he’d been set up, or if the absence of guards was sheer happenstance.
Not that it mattered, either way.
“The fuck do you two want?” Frank said. He tried to put some attitude into his voice. He didn’t want to show weakness, he knew. That could get him killed.
And yet, he was painfully aware of the AMP rolled up in his towel—aware that it was both the solution to this particular problem and a temptation that he needed to avoid at all costs. The AMP was his ticket out of jail. Using it to avoid a beating would leave him locked in Sing Sing for rest of his life.
Against that possibility, Frank knew he could take a beating.
Well. He hoped he could, anyway.
“Razor been askin’ where his money at, man,” the big man said. He flexed, and Frank was acutely aware of the fact that the big man was naked. That he was himself as well. “Said you made some pretty big promises, and now he’s ready to collect.”
“We here to send a message,” the big man’s partner said. Even the smaller one stood a shade over six feet—taller than Frank by nearly half a foot. He smiled, and Frank saw a mouth full of gold teeth. “It’s a message you goin’ get, Doc. You know what I’m sayin’?”
“Now boys, let’s be reasonable…” Frank said. He cursed himself as soon as the words left his mouth.
“Who you callin’ boys, cracker?” the big man said. “Hold this fool down, Slim.”
Slim, the smaller of the two, came at Frank with a Hell of a mean look in his eyes. “You goin’ get it now, Doc,” he said. “Razor said to come get some, and that’s what we fixin’ to do.”
Frank sighed. He ought to let it happen, he knew. But… gang rape in prison? The Hell with that. He was Doctor fucking Necropolis. Some shit was just too far, even if he did owe Razor money.
Frank grabbed the towel just as Slim grabbed him and snatched the syringe out of it. He jabbed it in his leg and slammed home the plunger even as Slim was throwing him to the ground. He stumbled and went down, landed on his hip, and winced as pain shot up his back. Slim was on him in a heartbeat, throwing punches, smacking Frank’s head against the hard ceramic tile floor. Stars shot across his vision, and then the drug started kicking in, and suddenly he couldn’t feel anything anymore.
The Centurion DNA kicked like a mule, and Frank literally bounced to his feet. Everything turned red, and time seemed to slow. Slim was falling back, his face a bloodied ruin, and Frank didn’t even remember having hit him. The big man’s eyes went wide, but he was moving in slow motion, and Frank smacked him in the jaw with a flat heel-palm strike that put him on his ass. Frank came through with a kick that caved in the big man’s face, and there was blood everywhere. Blood was spurting like a geyser, and Frank couldn’t stop kicking. Slim turned, tried to run, but then Frank had him by the hair, was throwing him into the wall, cracking the hard ceramic tiles with the meat of Slim’s face. Frank heard whimpers and cries of pain, but they were distant, far beneath the pounding of his heart in his ears.
“Focus Frank,” he said to himself. Then: “Goddamn, that kid has got the goods. Shit!”
Frank took a deep breath, tried to make himself think, but it was hard with the drug, his thoughts raced too fast for simple consciousness to capture them.
Fat fucking Grossman saved him by choosing that moment to walk in. “What the fuck?” he cried.
Frank was on him in a heartbeat, snarling like an animal and twice as vicious. He slammed Scott’s head back into the wall, again cracking the ceramic tiles. Scott cried out, and Frank slammed him again and then bit out the fat guard’s throat with his teeth.
“You motherfucker,” he snarled. “How do you like that? I’m Doctor fucking Necropolis, you limp-dick motherfucker!”
But all Scott could do was choke and then collapse into incoherence. Frank kicked him again for good measure. He wanted to scream, to cry out in primal triumph, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembered. Prison. Sing Sing.
I have to get out.
It was hard not to rip Scott’s clothes off. To force himself to undo the buttons, to stack the bodies, to actually get dressed in the fat guard’s uniform. The clothes themselves didn’t get close to fitting, and Frank knew—somewhere, at least—that he was running out of time. But it would be enough. It had to be.
He walked out of the shower like he had every right in the world and then just kept going. At some point, an alarm sounded, and then all was chaos, but no one stopped Frank. In the moment, they all just wanted to get the prisoners locked down.
Frank wasn’t a prisoner. He was a guard.
He reached the yard and then leaped straight over the fence, the kid’s DNA giving him the power to clear the thing like some kind of magical leaping jackrabbit-man. Then he was in the river and swimming, the Hudson covering him like some kind of freezing blanket.
He cackled like a madman. When the AMP finally wore off, he was gonna have one Hell of a hangover.