The Cadillac Diaries: Episode 24

In the unrelenting downpour, Warden Dylan Stevens and Officer John Pierce ran for Building A in a desperate attempt to catch up with Christopher Stuart before he reached the general population. Splashing through the pools of water, they fought against the pelting rain but could not catch Stuart.

“I’ll radio ahead and tell the guards to be on alert,” Pierce said, stopping to grab his radio.

Leaving Pierce behind to make the call, Stevens ran ahead, finally reaching Building A just after Stuart had slipped inside. Swinging the door open, Stevens stopped to look back at the burning death house.

Building A sat in darkness. Stevens reached for the light switch just inside the door. After he flipped the switch a few times, he said,  “Lightning must have taken out the power.”

To the left was the administration office. Stevens knew the building layout by heart, so he felt his way along the wall until he reached the office door. When he stepped inside, he saw that some of the staff had positioned flashlights on their desks, which gave some light to the room.

“Why are you just sitting around?” Stevens asked the lounging employees.

“Power’s out, sir. There’s not much else we can do,” a young man answered.

“What about the prisoners?” Stevens asked.

“In the event of a power outage, the cells lock automatically,” the young man said, as though quoting from a procedural manual. “The prisoners can’t get out. We should be fine until the power kicks back on, sir.”

“Well we’re not fine!” Stevens barked in agitation. “The death house was struck by lightning, and the generator exploded, setting the whole building on fire. In the chaos, Christopher Stuart escaped!”

“He what!” the staff shouted in unison as the young man jumped up from his chair.

“Call the police now! We need their help stat. Stuart must not escape this facility!” Stevens demanded.

“Yes sir,” the young man replied, grabbing the nearest phone.

Stevens snatched up one of the flashlights and left the room. Crossing the hallway, he opened the door to general population. The room, always crowded, sat empty.

“That’s odd,” Stevens said.

“What’s odd?” Stuart’s voice echoed from somewhere in the room.

“Stuart?” Stevens yelled out. “Look, everything’s okay. I just need you to come back with me, and no one will be hurt.”

“I can’t just go back, Warden. My job on this planet is not finished yet. There’s still work that needs to be done.”

“Please,” Stevens begged as he inched his way toward the voice. “Let’s not drag this out. Let’s just take you back to your cell. Your wife wouldn’t want you to suffer. The police are on their way, and if they catch you, you will suffer.”

“Suffering and sacrifice are all that is left in this world,” Stuart said. “People don’t know anything else. Sometimes they have a little joy, but it doesn’t last. The pain always comes back. I end their pain and give them eternal peace,” Stuart explained.

“Please don’t do this, Stuart,” Stevens begged, shining the flashlight through the room.

“It is too late for me, Warden. But you don’t have to suffer anymore.”

When the door behind him suddenly swung open, Stevens whipped around and almost struck Pierce across the jaw with the flashlight.

“It’s you,” he said clutching his chest.

“Who else would it be?” Pierce asked.

“Stuart. He’s in here somewhere,” Stevens answered.

“Goodbye, Warden,” Stuart said, his voice fading away.

 

 

*          *            *

(Present day)

 

“And he just disappeared after that. The police never saw him leave the building,” Dylan Stevens explained.

Ray had listened closely to Stevens’ account, taking everything in.

“Why do you think Stuart came back now?” he asked.

“The van they found, of course,” Stevens said.

“Yes, but no one knew about the bodies in the van. So why come back to hide something nobody knows about?” Ray asked.

Stevens looked at Ray, a blank expression on his face.

“I don’t know. Sorry,” he finally said.

“It wasn’t long after that, though, you ran for mayor. Right?” Tyler Clay asked.

“Right. My campaign platform was improvement—improving the streets, improving the housing market, improving the prison so escapes like Stuart’s would never happen again,” Stevens said.

“The prison was closed down shortly after the escape, wasn’t it?” Richard asked, looking up from his notes.

“Yes it was. It had been built almost in the center of town, which made local residents nervous. But when I became mayor, I had that place torn down, paved over, and a park built on the site. A basketball court, playground, and skate park instead of a prison helped improve the neighborhood’s value.”

“Is that guard still alive?” Ray asked.

Stevens hesitated then asked, “Which guard?”

“John Pierce,” Ray replied.

“Yes, I believe he is,” Stevens said. “Retired now and living downtown somewhere.”

Ray nodded and left the scene, heading to his car.

Tyler Clay hurried after him, leaving Richard and Stevens behind with the coroner.

“Where are you going?” Tyler asked.

“To find Pierce,” Ray replied.

“All right, but I’m coming with you,” Tyler said.

When they reached the Cadillac and climbed inside, Ray looked over at Tyler and asked,

“Did anything about that story seem odd?”

“I guess. Why?”

“Just a feeling. Stories do tend to get changed over the years, this one maybe to make it sound more supernatural. But it seems odd to me that one person could create so much commotion wherever he went,” Ray said.

“You think Stevens sensationalized the story a bit?” Tyler asked.

“Yep, I think so. I want to talk to this Pierce and get his side of it. He hasn’t got a reputation to protect like our former mayor back there. Pierce may tell us something very different.”

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Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 8:38 am  Leave a Comment  

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