I had continued to attend Sunday Mass every Sunday. It’s the only real avenue for contact with prisoners and guards from other wings in the prison. This contact is essential if my plan to seize the prison is to succeed. It’s also a little more time out of my cell, which is no bad thing, even if it does mean listening to the hypocritical sermons from the nervous priest.
This Sunday is no exception, with so little time remaining I need to use every moment available. The walk to chapel isn’t as pleasant as it has been. The winter weather is definitely closing in and we all have our prison issue donkey jackets wrapped tight as we make our way through the prison. As always we sit and wait for the priest to make his grand entrance. I take the time to filter through the minds around me.
As I pass through each mind I plant more impulses. I’ve been planting these every time I’ve been here. Each impulse builds on the previous ones that I have implanted, they mesh together within the person’s mind. When the time comes these impulses will flower and they will do whatever it is I command.
I’m actually getting a little excited, the final battle is not far off now. I estimate that at best the court case will last another week, probably less. They won’t be able to convict me, the evidence isn’t there. The question is, how long will the keep trying? They won’t let me go either. They might not be able to prove my guilt, but they know that they can’t release me. Besides there’s plenty of ways to keep a person locked up even without a conviction.
It’s actually a pleasant thought knowing that there isn’t much time left. The thought of eternal oblivion is a comforting one. And with the coming stand my name will be remembered.
I notice the prisoners are getting a little restless. The priest is much later than he normally is. I contemplate the poor priest’s future. His life will be a short and painful one when they realise his hidden crimes. The plan is to use the Sunday Mass as the trigger event, so he will be right at the epicentre when it all kicks off. It’s a pleasing thought.
My happiness is marred as Officer Hammond walks in. I still don’t know how he does it, but his presence interferes with my impulses in those nearby. It doesn’t stop them, but it does seem to weaken their potency. It won’t change things, but some instinct is warning me that he is too dangerous. It would be wise to get rid of him before the final event. Yes, very wise indeed.
Hammond places himself next to the altar and stands there, impassive, watching us all. As usual he seems to be paying me some extra attention. A priest walks in behind and he’s not our usual priest. I’m no expert, but I can see that he’s dressed differently. Not a priest at all, maybe a monk? If so, this is something new. I cast my mind out, eager to unravel this new person and see who he is. My mind just bounces off him.
I try again, more carefully this time, but again I cannot enter. I have never experienced this before, not since I was a teenager I have been unable to enter a mind. Some minds are more difficult than others, but there’s always been a way in. He steps up to the altar and introduces himself as Friar Francis. He is filling in for the usual priest, who has unfortunately taken ill. He hopes that we can all find space for the sick priest in our prayers.
I try again, more forcefully this time. I still cannot enter, I try to grapple with his mind, but there is no purchase. My mind just slides off his like glass.
This friar looks at me. His face is serene, but there is a hardness to his eyes. Like the ex-marine beside him, he has seen things. He stands before me, tall and gaunt, dressed in the black robes of his order. And he smiles at me. There is no warmth in that smile. It is a knowing smile. A challenging smile.
I change tactics and delve into Hammond’s mind, I slip in easily and feel some relief. I tear through his mind trying to find some connection with this monk. I find the connection I seek and follow the thread. It takes me to the rock at the centre of his being and I can follow no further.
It is with a feeling of some disquiet that I withdraw. Hammond nods to the friar and the mass begins. All I can do is watch and listen. I try to salvage some of my wasted effort and resume planting impulses in the mind around me. I am furious to see they just melt away as soon as I plant them. This is not a good start to the day.
I begin to worry that maybe, just maybe, I need a new plan.
The rest of the day fairs no better. Prison food isn’t great, but today everything tasted of ashes. I was finding it hard to concentrate on anything. In association I actually lost a game of chess. Everyone was watching me, although that’s fairly normal in here.
At lights out I was left alone in the darkness, but sleep was a long time coming.