Sunday, July 30, 2017

Strangeways by Robert J. Brunner

Release date: 30 May 2017
Sub-genre: Ghosts, Norse & Viking Myth

About Strangeways:


Thomas Griffin has heard the legends about Strangeways Federal Penitentiary -- tall tales and whispered rumors.

Ghost stories.

Now a guard has died, and the FBI agent is summoned to the century-old prison to investigate.

Inside the massive stone walls, Griffin finds a drug-fueled madhouse of violence and hate. He kills a man in self-defense only to see him rise from death and murder an innocent. Inmates commit horrific suicides using the only weapon at hand -- the prison walls themselves. The trail of grisly deaths lead Griffin to the greatest threat -- not just to body, but to soul -- the disciples of an ancient, blood-thirsty cult.


The Cave was cold.

It was a one-story, red-brick structure to the north of D-Block. It had one door in its front, which faced the exercise yard, and except for the small glass pane above the door handle, there were no windows in the building. Its sole purpose was solitary confinement.

Katrina's heels clicked along the hallway and echoed back to her. She carried a first-aid bag on one shoulder, and a supply bag over the other. She kept the key, which she had borrowed from C.O. Sinclair, in hand.

A narrow run of fluorescent lights offered the only illumination in the building. The interior of each cell would be dark. The walls of each unit were solid brick, and the iron doors let in no light, except when the small pass-through was open, to slide food trays back and forth during the meals.

A voice called out from behind one of the doors. "Who's that? Sounds like a woman. You here to see me, mama? I'm right here. Daddy's right here." Katrina passed by without a word in response. "Fuck you, bitch! Get in here and let me stick it in!"

She stopped in front of cell 012. She was surprised how calm she felt. She had never visited an inmate in the Cave by herself, and wasn't sure if the warden would approve. She hadn't asked for permission to come alone, because she would have come even if she'd been denied. She had to know.

She caressed the door with her fingertips. It was the same gesture she might use to gently wake a lover. "I'm coming in," she called out. She put the key in the lock, turned it, and pulled the door open, bringing light into the cell.

Sutter smiled at her.

He sat in the five-point restraint chair, no tension in his body, utterly at peace. She felt his gaze travel over her. She knew then that Morrison had been right. Everything he said was true. Impossible but true. The warmth she felt, the love that came from that smile, was not from a man. This was being in a chapel, alone with your god, and knowing he only wants your happiness and well-being.

Still standing outside the door, she said, "May I?"

"Yes," he answered. It came out in a low hiss, and she realized he enjoyed the sensation of vocalizing the word. She stepped into the cell, leaving the door open.

A shine caught her attention, and she saw a shiv laying on the floor at Sutter's feet. Heat rose in her, and she wanted to call a guard, bring this to someone's attention. Someone had come here with a weapon. Had they threatened him? Had they injured him? "Are you hurt?" she asked Sutter.

"No," he said, in a gentle growl.

She stepped to him and put down the bags. She ran her hands over his dark skin, checking for wounds. "My doctor," he said. "My healer."

"You know who I am?" she asked.

"You are mine," he said.

She reached into the supply bag, and brought out a lidded plastic bowl filled with water, and a small face-towel. She opened the lid, soaked the towel, and rung it out. She brought the damp cloth to Sutter's face and pressed it to his forehead.

          "I am," she said.

About Robert J. Brunner:

Bob Brunner is a police dispatcher and 911-operator. He has seen people at their worst, and their best. He has comforted the victim, and engaged with the suicidal. He has testified at trial, and heard a man’s last words. 

He lives in the city he dispatches for and knows more about his neighbors than he should.

He has written all his life. He is working on something now.

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