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´╗┐Title: Take the Reason Prisoner
Author: McGuire, John Joseph, 1917-1981
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Take the Reason Prisoner" ***

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                         Transcriber's Note:

 This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction November 1963.
 Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright
 on this publication was renewed.


                       TAKE THE REASON PRISONER


              No process is perfect ...
              but some men always feel unalterably convinced
              that their system is the Be all and End all. Psychology now,
              should make prisons absolutely escape-proof,
              and cure all aberrations....


                           JOHN J. McGUIRE

                   Illustrated by George Schelling

       *       *       *       *       *



Major general (Ret.) James J. Bennington had both professional
admiration and personal distaste for the way the politicians
maneuvered him.

The party celebrating his arrival as the new warden of Duncannon
Processing Prison had begun to mellow. As in any group of men with a
common interest, the conversation and jokes centered on that interest. The
representatives and senators of the six states which sent criminals to
Duncannon, holding glasses more suited to Martini-drinking elephants than
human beings, naturally turned their attention to the vagaries in the
business of being and remaining elected.

Senator Giles from Pennsylvania and Representative Culpepper of
Connecticut accomplished the maneuver. Together they smoothly cut the
general out of the group comparing the present tax structure to rape,
past the group lamenting the heavy penalties in the latest
conflict-of-interest law, into a comparatively quiet corner.

"Well general, no need to tell you that we are all as happy to have
you here as Dr. Thornberry seemed to be," Senator Giles said.

Bennington nodded politely, though he had not been much impressed by
the lean, high-voiced man who had greeted him with such open delight.
Dr. Thornberry had expressed too much burbling joy when he had been
relieved of his administrative job as Acting Warden, had been
overly-happy about resuming his normal duties as Assistant Warden and
Chief Psychologist.

"I'm very much interested in some of your ideas on reducing the
overhead here, general," Culpepper said, "although I'm also wondering
if they may not cost my good friend, the senator, some votes in his
district."

"That will be no real worry," Giles said thoughtfully, "if I can show
the changes are real economies. Today that's the way to gain votes and
I'd come up with more than I'd lose."

"But your turnover," Culpepper said. "I can see that in a regular
prison, where they have the men a long time, it's easy to train them
in kitchen work and supply. But here.... How long do you plan to keep
them, general?"

"I'll try to get back to the original purpose in setting up Duncannon
as quickly as possible," Bennington said. "Dr. Thornberry agreed that
five days is the maximum time his sections need to complete the
analysis of a prisoner and decide what prison he should go to. After
that, we will have sound reason to start charging the individual
states for each day we have to keep their consignment."

"Complicated," Giles said. "I mean, the bookkeeping."

"Not at all. I'll either hold the next top-sergeant that comes through
here or borrow one from Carlisle or Indiantown Gap. He can set up a
sort of morning-report system, and when the states learn they will
have to pay us to handle the men _they_ should be feeding, we will
soon see ... well, there won't be six hundred and fifty men, women and
children stuffed into barracks designed to hold three hundred and
fifty."

Bennington had spoken calmly and he lifted his glass casually. But
over the rim of his drink he caught the eye of another old soldier.

Ferguson, who had been a private when Bennington had been only a
captain in Korea, eased himself to within earshot.

The two had risen in rank and grade together. Thirty-three years had
taught them the value of an unobtrusive witness to the general's
conversations.

       *       *       *       *       *

"But with personnel changing so rapidly--frankly, I didn't understand
your reference to a replo-depot," Culpepper confessed.

"A replo-depot," Bennington said, calling deep on his reserve of
patience, "is the place to which all persons called up for military
service must go first. There, they go through a process similar to the
one we use here: a complete physical, a complete mental, a complete
skill-testing, all used to decide where the man himself can best be
used--or imprisoned. Then they are forwarded to that assignment."

Culpepper nodded, but he still seemed puzzled.

"You could waste an awful lot of men on just handling the food and
equipment that such a command needs, unless you used the men passing
through," Bennington went on. "But, if you have a small permanent
cadre who know what to do and how to do it, they can handle large
groups of untrained men.

"And you'll not only save money, you'll give these men something to do
while they are here," he added.

When Giles and Culpepper exchanged glances, Bennington was
immediately and almost totally certain that his explanation had not
been needed.

"Seems to me you could economize even more if a part of that permanent
cadre were trusties," Giles said.

"I would think so," Culpepper said, "but of course you would have to
pick the men very carefully."

Giles approved of that idea. "Responsible men, not hardened criminals.
Men who once held a prominent position in their communities, but made
a mistake and now would sincerely like a chance to redeem themselves."

"Take the example of Mike Rooney," Culpepper said. "A tragic case,
that. He's lost a good government job and with it all his pension and
retirement rights. And how? By simply having an accident with a
government helicopter when he was using it on a combination of
government and personal business.

"Rooney--" Giles said thoughtfully. "Yes, I know him very well.
Wonderful chap, nice family of growing boys. Now there is the sort of
man who would make you a good trusty, general. I would recommend him
very highly."

"I feel the same way," Culpepper said.

Bennington signaled to Ferguson, used the excuse of freshening his
drink to cover his thoughts. Rooney ... Rooney ... oh, yes, the
Internal Revenue official with the odd ideas about whose tax should be
collected and whose should be neglected ... and coming here for
processing on a minor charge.

The old run-around, Bennington decided: Put the man in jail on a minor
charge until the hullabaloo over his major crime no longer made big
headlines.

If word had gotten down to the State level that Rooney was to be taken
care of, the former tax collector must be sitting on a lot of hot
stuff.

The right phrase here will buy a lot of co-operation, Bennington told
himself, remembering the overcrowded barracks, among the long list of
things needing a change before this place operated properly.

On a short-term basis, the answer was clear....

"Gentlemen, I have no doubt that anyone you recommend for special
consideration would, in some way, deserve that consideration," he
said. "I am further aware that one hand washes another and that if I
expect some favors from you, I should expect to do some for you."

He held down his temper while the politicians exchanged glances of
mutual congratulation.

"But," he said, "if I establish a trusty system, it will be an
honorable one. I would be seen in hell first before I would allow any
man to use the setup as a place to hide in comfort during a short rap
when he should be sweating out a long one.

"Your friend Rooney will get exactly what he deserves. And not a thing
more."

Giles had slowly turned a turkey purple, but his voice remained calm
and even. "I think you stated the proposition fairly, general. You
will get from us the same amount of consideration that you give us."

The party had been over for an hour, but Ferguson was still at work on
the debris. And his old sergeant had, Bennington estimated out of long
experience with cleaning up after stag parties, at least another
hour's work ahead of him.

The general returned to staring out the big picture window overlooking
the prison compound.

_Something was wrong...._

It wasn't Giles and Culpepper. A call to a friend in the Bureau of
Internal Revenue, a few words to each of the six governors who had
concurred in his appointment, either or both of these would take care
of those gentlemen, very thoroughly.

_Something else was wrong...._

He knew the basis of his feeling. He had led troops too many years not
to have learned how rapidly a commander can establish a feeling of
empathy, even on the first day of a new command.

He knew the basis for the feeling, but he couldn't pinpoint an exact
reason.

Or could he?

_Why were there absolutely no lights at all in the prison compound?_

He spoke over his shoulder to Ferguson, "I'm going for a little walk."

"Want me with you, sir?"

"No, I don't think I'll need you. Keep going and finish up in here."

"Right, sir. You've got your pistol."

The old master sergeant was stating a fact, not asking a question.

"Ha!"

Bennington's barked reply arose from memory of his first argument with
Thornberry. The assistant warden-chief psychologist had been astounded
to learn that the general did not trust the conditioning process as a
solid basis for prison security. Beginning there, the opening
engagement in the battle of ideas, their contrasting philosophies had
deployed and made the entire prison a battleground.

But Bennington dismissed his chief assistant from his thoughts as soon
as he stood in the darkness on the little knoll outside his house. He
concentrated on orienting himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

The camp had not been changed much when it had been made over from a
ground-to-air missile station, protecting the freight yards of
Harrisburg, into the processing prison for six states.

They had tapped the Juniata a few hundred yards northwest of where it
joined the Susquehanna, for the water that filled the moat encircling
three sides of the prison. The union of the two rivers formed the
water barrier on the east.

_What was it Thornberry had said about the moat? Oh, yes, not to keep
the poor misguided inmates imprisoned, but to keep unwanted people
out...._

When his eyes were accustomed to the darkness, Bennington walked east
and came to the first of the two new additions to the camp. A long
building, used by psychological and medical men to determine the total
amount of usefulness to society left in a man convicted of a crime.

Beyond it, the second addition, a barbed-wire-enclosed building called
The Cage, where prisoners where first received and conditioned.

He turned and began retracing his steps, at the same time mentally
following what happened to a prisoner in each of the two buildings.
When the official party accompanying him to his new post had arrived
late yesterday, for the second time he had followed a man through the
procedure.

The quick frisking and the slow interview with two purposes, by
visual, oral and written tests determining the amount of
suggestibility to hypnotic conditioning plus the quicker giving of a
card to denote a temporary classification.

Light gray for minor offenses; yellow for major crimes; pink for
lifers, psychos and killers; blues for juvenile delinquents; green for
all females, with a colored clip-tab denoting the weight of the
offense.

A temporary classification it had to be, Bennington decided, for the
weight of the offense in itself never measured the man. How many
repeaters, men inevitable to a life of crime, had come here to be
handed a light gray card in The Cage, while other, different men,
once-upon-a-timers, had come out carrying the yellow or pink?

Could and did happen, the general knew, could and did happen even in
his former military life, where consideration of a man's record was a
prerequisite to deciding the sentence, with review and review and
review automatic not a matter of initiated appeal.

However, here, in the psycho-med building, was what might be called
re-judgment, for here, assisted by the latest advances that could
trickle down through the long bureaucracy above--and aided by ideas
that yeasted up, not down--Dr. Thornberry's staff went back to basics
with the question, what is re-claimable, for the man and for us, in
this man?

But not the first day ... that was routine.

Strip and change to prison clothes.

_Mental memo: What happened to the civilian clothes that the prisoners
surrendered? Was there the smell of a small but lucrative racket
here?_

Then, on the basis of that preliminary in The Cage, through one of two
doors. A few went into the room where a massive injection of sedatives
made them virtually vegetables. Most of them, however, were sent into
the room where Judkins, the new technician who had also arrived only
yesterday, would fit the "tank," the big helmet, down over the
prisoner's head and conditioned the man with mechanical and oral
hypnosis.

The results, from drugging or hypnosis, were the same. From either
room the prisoner came with his face a blank.

[Illustration]

Mud-faces, or in a new use of the words from the Original World War,
"doughboys".

Those two rooms were harder to get into than to leave. The security
precautions of The Cage extended to the moment the prisoner was led to
the door and started out of those rooms. But from there on....

No, Bennington decided, let's drop security for a moment. Something
had happened in the rest of the processing he and the committee had
watched and the meaning of that something had emerged only tonight at
the party.

Not in the physical ... and that had been good, as complete as the
most expensive clinic Bennington had ever seen, a thorough probing for
a structural reason behind the crime or crimes....

But the second mental, that quick recheck of the completeness of the
drugging or the hypnosis.... It had been there that both Giles and
Culpepper had been very, very interested to learn if anything a
prisoner said at this point was admissible in a court of law.

The general now understood their relief at Thornberry's explanation:
Anything a man said while under the influence of psychological
conditioning was considered as obtained under duress.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington was still meditating on what Rooney could reveal as he
walked around the mess hall in the center of the compound. Then he
turned to consider again his prison's routine.

He leaned against the south wall of the mess hall and looked across at
the four barrack buildings bulking against the darkness. They were the
two-story type the Army erects for temporary purposes and uses
permanently.

The smell from the overcrowded buildings hit his nose again as
strongly as it had in the afternoon.

And sounds hit his ears, soft sounds that had been muffled by the long
mess hall between him and their source, low sounds further kept from
him by the light wind from the north.

The lights in the barracks had been off since 2100, except, of course,
for the eerie-blue night lights, and the prisoners should be in their
bunks, asleep or at least silent, immobile.

_But why were all the lights off in the compound_, and Bennington
damned himself for not seeking the answer to the question before.

_Thornberry would tell me there is no need for light; that the
prisoners can't escape because their drugging has made them unable, or
their conditioning has made them afraid, to leave the prison._

The sounds, the flickering like fireflies or carefully thumbed
flashlights, didn't come from his near right, Number One, minor
crimes, or Number Two, major crimes exclusive of murder.

They came from between Three and Four.

Number Three. Psychos, sex deviates and murderers, with a couple of
padded cells and barred windows needed upstairs, even though the
inmates were conditioned.

Number Four changed by the addition of an extra latrine for the second
floor. Females on the first, juvenile delinquents on the second.

Bennington had learned to move like a ghost, move quietly or die, on
the almost forgotten battlefields of a police action in Korea. He had
had a post-graduate course in the South-East Asian jungles. On the
Chilean desert he had added to his skills.

He moved now as he had then.

But there was little reason for caution. The guards were too busy
collecting their fees, the juvenile delinquents were too busy acting
as ushers, with even the sex deviates from Number Three busy.

The customers, of course, were far too interested in what they were
buying.

And there was nothing to be done tonight. Bennington snarled to
himself, as he carefully made his way back to the house.

But tomorrow morning....

       *       *       *       *       *

A good breakfast inside of him, the early morning sun brightening the
scene before him, not even combined could they dispel any of
Bennington's bitter anger at the memory of last night's saturnalia.

He marched across the twenty-five feet separating his house from the
Administration Building, a long, two-story structure on the western
end of the compound.

The entire end nearest his house was taken up by Message Center, the
one room which had had Bennington's full approval on his tour of
inspection both times he had seen the prison. Internally, the separate
parts of the prison were linked together by telephone, a P.A. system,
and intercom. The outside world could be reached or could come to them
by 'phone, radio, teletype, and facsimile reproduction.

Bennington opened the door, glanced up to check his wristwatch with
the big clock on the wall.

0800.

He stepped inside, closed the door, looked around.

The man on night duty was sound asleep.

Bennington coughed once, loudly. The man raised his head and looked
sleepily around.

"Are you the only one here?"

"The others come in around nine," the clerk said, yawning,
bleary-eyed.

"I see. Did anything come in last night?"

"That stuff." A wave toward a roll of yellow teletype paper.

Bennington stared at the man, continued to stare until the clerk
flushed a deep red. Finally the night man straightened in his chair,
then stood up. He picked up the roll of paper and came around his
desk.

"Sir," he said "this report came in last night. It is a list of the
prisoners we can expect to receive today and the probable time of
their arrival."

"Thank you," Bennington said, accepting the roll. "I will be in my
office if anyone is looking for me."

"Sir...." The clerk gulped, hesitated, forced out the words. "That's
the only copy."

Bennington looked the man directly in the eyes. "You must have been
very busy last night." He returned the roll of paper. "I'll be in my
office."

"Yes, sir!"

Bennington started to walk away, but before he reached the door, the
clerk, a man Bennington remembered as being on day duty on his first
visit, began to sputter, "Sir, the quickest way to your office--"

The general glanced over his shoulder, then continued on his way.

Before he could get to the door he had chosen, he heard behind him the
electrotyper chattering away like an automatic weapon with a weak sear
spring.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington could have left by a door leading into Dr. Thornberry's
office and gone on through another door into his own big office. But
he wanted to check on the availability of the rest of the staff.

The door he opened led into a long hallway. On the left was the long
room where Thornberry's psych-med staff had their personal desks and
permanent records. On the right, a door leading to Thornberry's
office, but none into his own. His room was reached only through the
office of a clerk-receptionist or Thornberry's.

Down the hall, past the wide main entrance with its glimpse of the
flagpole outside and inside the stairs leading to the second floor,
where a large part of the permanent staff were given rent-free
quarters.

The armory, on his left just beyond the entrance, a room as long as
the med-staff's, but unlike the other--and who had the brains to do
this--locked.

Across from the armory, a big room for the rest of the administrative
staff, but no one on duty.

The supply room, corresponding in size and location to the Message
Center on the other end, unlocked and no one in it; with everything
the prison received on open shelves, available to any reaching hand.

Bennington went back the hall, through his secretary's room into his
own office.

One sleepy clerk and himself on duty--he looked at his watch--0815.

_... There were going to be some changes made...._

He spun his chair around and looked out the big window directly behind
his desk. He noted the fact that about twenty feet away the land
dropped into a very deep slant to the western arm of the moat, but the
fact recorded itself only because he always made subconscious notes of
the military aspects of terrain.

Consciously, he was wondering why the vast expanse of good, rich
earth, north, west and south of the prison, acres of fine land that
had been and still were a part of this former military post, had never
been put to productive use.

How easily Duncannon could become more self-supporting--and even
though Giles and Culpepper wanted to make a racket of the idea, there
was much to be said for a trusty system.

_Hold it_, he told himself, _those ideas and where we'll set up a
laundry--it's utterly ridiculous that we have to send everything into
Harrisburg!--can come later. Right now let's think about an
appointment list ... and the first name is my good assistant warden's,
Dr. Thornberry._

Still looking out the window, he leaned back in his chair and felt
again the slow boil of anger.

       *       *       *       *       *

A gentle rap on his office door, the one opening from his secretary's
office.

Bennington swung around to face his desk again. "Come in."

The Message Center clerk, with a neat stack of papers. "Sir, this is
your copy of the report received last night. The original is on file
in Message Center and other copies are on the desks of the people who
will need them."

"Thank you," Bennington said. "I am sure that this procedure will be
followed in the future."

"Yes, sir!"

It will be in your case, Bennington decided, then turned his attention
to the report.

The distribution list in the upper righthand corner was--h-m-m-m,
good. Himself, Chief Psychologist, Chief Guard, Kitchen, Supply.
Probably set up by the same man who had designed Message Center
itself.

The report was not good.

The first paragraph was a summary and it was almost all bad news.
Total: 35. No women, no juveniles, the only good reading. But they
were coming from all six states and all but one of them Barracks Two
and Three cases. Assembled at Philadelphia, by train to Harrisburg, by
truck to here, but not arriving until 1530.

Two and Three were overcrowded now. With their communications so good,
why couldn't they move the processed men out faster?

And this new group would arrive so late. Couldn't even begin
processing them. Or could they?

Might have to.

Let's look at the details.

Connecticut: Musto, John, and his brothers, Ralph and Pietro. Murders.
Following those names, five others of the gang that had terrorized the
banks in that area for two years. Capturing all of them at once by
putting a sleep-gas bomb in a basket of groceries delivered to their
hideout, that had been a neat bit of police work. But till those boys
were conditioned or drugged, they would need special guards.

Delaware: Clarens, Walter. Murders. The name was familiar--Oh yes,
three killings, one of them a little girl with whose blood Clarens had
written at the scene. "For God's sake, catch me before I kill again."
Well, Thornberry would be happy.

Maryland: Major crimes, but no killers.

New Jersey: The usual list from the waterfronts and the usual wide
variety of manslaughter and homicide.

New York: Dalton, Harry. Let's see, haven't I ... yes. "The Man No
Jail Can Hold." Another special guard.

Pennsylvania:...

The name jumped out. _Rooney, Michael_.

The intercom on his desk buzzed and he flipped the switch. "Go ahead,
Bennington here," he said, and realized only after he had spoken how
the thought of Rooney had made his voice a growl.

"Dr. Thornberry, sir. May I see you?"

"By all means," Bennington said. "The sooner, the better."

       *       *       *       *       *

Thornberry started talking as soon as he opened the door between the
two offices.

"General, did you see the list of new arrivals? Of all people, Dalton!
And arriving too late to be conditioned!"

Bennington said nothing until the psychologist had seated himself. He
simply watched his chief assistant and tried to find some reason to
like the man.

"What do you mean," he finally said, "too late to be conditioned?"

Having just considered this problem, Bennington's question was a
testing of Thornberry, not a request for information.

Thornberry was looking aggrieved, as if the fact was so obvious even
the general could understand it. "Processing takes all day, sir, and
this group does not arrive until late afternoon."

"Does the processing have to be continuous?" Bennington hoped his
chief assistant would show a little flexibility.

But the question threw the bureaucratic psychologist into mental
dishevelment. "I beg your pardon?"

"All we have to worry about is keeping them quiet tonight, then you
can slip them back to normal in the morning and run them through as if
they had arrived tomorrow."

Thornberry pursed his lips. "But that would mean--"

"A little extra work on the part of very few men," Bennington snapped.
"We'll keep them away from the rest tonight by sleeping them in The
Cage. A couple of men in Supply can move cots and blankets over there
now. Feed them coffee and sandwiches. Call the Mess Hall and get them
made up. At the same time I know you'll find three or four men who
want the overtime for dishing it out.

"How long do you need to know if you can use hypnosis or if you need
drugs, and wouldn't it be simpler to drug the whole lot?"

"No, definitely not the last," and for the first time Thornberry was
being positive, "because we have to use a massive dose and they can't
shake it till--day after tomorrow, at the best tomorrow afternoon."

"The Army can decide to hypno in two minutes with a spin-dizzy wheel
and some lights. How long for you?"

Thornberry bridled. "The same, especially if _I_ do it."

"Good. So now you need a doctor to drug the ones who need it, a
psychologist to decide who gets what, one machine moved and one
technician." Bennington snapped on his intercom, said to his
secretary, "Get Judkins in here."

"Yes, _sir_!"

_The word seems to be getting around_, Bennington decided, _but this
will take a moment_.

       *       *       *       *       *

He started on his next problem. "Have you ever inspected the prison
grounds at night?"

"No, sir! That is Slater's duty!"

Thornberry was again the proper bureaucrat, horrified at the thought
of invading another's domain.

"Judkins here," came from the intercom.

"Bennington speaking. You know the corridor between the reception and
interview rooms in The Cage?"

"Yes, sir."

"Get your equipment over close to there. We have a group of prisoners
arriving around 1530, too late for complete processing. But at least
you can condition them against escape."

The intercom was silent a moment, then, "But how will I know who I'm
working on?"

Bennington questioned Thornberry with a raised eyebrow.

The psych-expert shook his head, no.

"This time you don't need to know," Bennington said. "Get your
equipment set up and report to me when it's ready."

Another long silence, then, "Yes, sir."

"He should know who he has under the hood," Thornberry said
thoughtfully, after Bennington had silenced the intercom, "especially
since the group includes a man like Dalton--"

"We have something more important to discuss," Bennington cut in,
dismissing the subject. "Last night I inspected the prison compound."

He described what he had found, then leaned back to hear Thornberry's
reaction.

"That's not in the least what I told him he could do," the
psychologist said.

"_What! This is your idea?_"

Thornberry was equally astounded at Bennington's reaction. "Yes, of
course. As soon as I took over as Acting Warden, I told Slater that
social visits between the prisoners were entirely permissible until
Lights Out. But this--"

The psychologist shook his head, then appeared to reconsider and his
face brightened. "But it's a step in the right direction. Naturally, I
prefer the Mexican system where the wife is permitted regular, very
private, visits to her husband--"

"Let me get this straight," Bennington felt like a man lost in a maze.
"You told the Chief Guard that the prisoners could visit each other--"

"No, not all of them," Thornberry interrupted. "I never meant that
some of the problem cases, like a few of those in Number Three,
should have complete social relationships."

"Just exactly what were you thinking of when you gave that order?"

"Thinking of? Why, sir, I was thinking of our poor patients here.
Society has ordered them confined, yes, but need we necessarily
deprive them of _all_ human rights?"

Thornberry seemed ready to orate for an hour, but Bennington stopped
him with a gesture. "All right, I've handled POW camps, maybe in one
way I can see your point. But we can take up the philosophy of this
later.

"Right now, this is the essential fact, that Slater has taken your
order and twisted it into a racket.

"So let's talk to Slater."

But the intercom said, "He hasn't come on duty yet."

"He has the room at the head of the stairs," Thornberry said.

The door was locked, but the psychologist produced a set of master
keys.

"I want a set of those, too," Bennington said.

The room was heavy with the smells of cheap whiskey, stale cigarette
smoke and human sweat. Two figures were sprawled on the bed. A hairy,
bearlike man, Slater; a big well-built brunette.

Thornberry squinted through the gloom, then turned on the lights.
"That's Mona Sitwell," he said, "and I'm sure she was supposed to be
on orders to leave here two weeks ago."

Bennington remembered the case, the spinster who had found her parents
a hindrance to her extensive enjoyment of male companionship. She had
literally chopped up their objections.

"Follow through on the orders you give sometime," Bennington said
dryly. "You may meet a few more surprises."

The man on the bed stirred, threw his arm up over his eyes. "What do
you want?" he mumbled sleepily.

Bennington mentally cursed the Civil Service regulations which tied
his hands, and left him only one thing to say: "Your immediate
resignation."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Message Center, sir."

"Go ahead." The general looked at the desk clock. 1515. He could guess
what they wanted to tell him.

"Sir, the new consignment will be here in about ten minutes."

"Thanks. Pass the word along to Dr. Thornberry and add, I'll meet him
at the flagpole in five minutes."

Bennington pushed back his chair, slowly stood up. This had already
been a full day's work.

Slater had been worse sober than he had been sleepy and half-drunk.
His covering barrage of threats on leaving the prison had been equally
divided between the general's personal health and the entire prison
setup.

Thornberry had screened the other guards. And, after sitting in on
only two sessions, Bennington had at last found one small reason to
like his chief assistant. The psych-expert could spot a liar almost
before the man opened his mouth.

But right now, and, at the wages offered, probably for a long time,
Duncannon was very short of guards.

Judkins was ready in The Cage. An efficient man, but he had been a
little resentful at the extra work involved in moving his equipment.

The prisoners would remain in The Cage overnight, except for their
trips to the Mess Hall. A reorganized supply room had disgorged more
than enough cots and blankets to convert The Cage into a temporary
dormitory.

Bennington riffled the papers on his desk showing when the prisoners
on hand had been received and how long they had been ready to go to
their assigned prison. This matter took top priority. Some of the
people had been here over a month. If he could push through the plan
to charge the states for every day Duncannon kept a prisoner after the
criminal was ready for shipment, then the various states should each
pay, as a rough estimate showed....

But the clock on the desk showed 1520, time to meet Thornberry. With
longer than usual steps, Bennington strode out of his office and out
the main door of the Administration Building.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thornberry was pacing around the flagpole directly opposite the main
entrance.

"This man, Dalton," the psychologist said, falling in step with the
general, "you know he escaped from us twice."

"Make him the first through," and Bennington dismissed the subject.
"I'm more interested in this. Are there any ex-service men among the
group?"

Thornberry sniffed, "Still worried about our conditioning and our
security, general? I repeat, even though we do not use the lobotomies
and other techniques of our cold-war competitors, we can nevertheless
condition anyone sent to us so that he will not make any trouble."

Bennington shrugged, "I'd like to see you work on a para-commando. Or
one of the General Staff."

Thornberry, now leading the way through the Processing Building,
called back over his shoulder. "How many of them end up in prison? I
mean, from the General Staff? The para-coms do, of course, they just
can't adjust to civilian life and I think the Army should do something
about that before they discharge them. But they never come here
without an accompanying court order allowing us to use the eyeball
technique."

Along the short path, enclosed by barbed wire, from Processing into
The Cage. Swiftly along the corridor behind the one-way vision
mirrors, down the walk to the gate in the barbed wire.

Bennington looked around and nodded approval: his reception committee
for the new arrivals was waiting.

He looked across the river toward Harrisburg. Yes, just turning into
the bridge approach, two tractor-trailer combos, preceded and followed
by white cars.

Bennington glanced around again. From the roof of The Cage, Ferguson,
drafted as a guard for this emergency, waved and lovingly patted the
butt of his submachine gun.

One of the regular guards gave the general a sound-powered megaphone.
He nodded thanks, lifted it.

"Give me your attention!"

"The procedure is as usual except that, when the prisoners go into The
Cage, they are going to get an overnight conditioning treatment.

"But until they've had that treatment, you must be alert! These are
all dangerous men."

Beside the general, Thornberry whispered hearty agreement. "Yes, yes!
Except for Rooney, everyone on that list is here for armed robbery or
murder and usually both."

Bennington lowered his megaphone. "I almost forgot to tell you. I
added a complete physical search to your metal-detectors, we're doing
it right inside the door to the corridor.

"And we're keeping all their personal effects. That was bad, Dr.
Thornberry, letting them have their money. As long as a prisoner has
cash, you can't trust any guard."

Thornberry froze. "As prison psychologist, I protest. I consider those
procedures an unwarranted invasion of physical privacy and a forcing
of a man into dependency with traumatic effects--"

"I would much rather make a prisoner dependent on my good will than
have him bribe my guards, doctor. And I would much rather invade his
privacy than have him invade my stomach with a knife made out of bone.

"A metal-spotter is, perhaps, good, but too many killing tools can get
by them."

Thornberry seemed more than willing to continue the discussion, but
the tractor-trailers were pulling off the bridge. After a moment's
jockeying, they turned so that the back of the trailers pointed toward
The Cage.

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *

A corporal eased out of the white car that had led the convoy. He
shifted his shotgun to his left arm, saluted, said, "General
Bennington? Corporal Forester, with thirty-four prisoners."

"Thirty-four? We expected thirty-five."

"Ralph Musto tried to get another idea in the Harrisburg terminal.
He'll be in the hospital about ten days."

"Musto?" For a moment, the name meant nothing to Bennington.

"Connecticut, sir, one of the murder and bank cases. Are you prepared
to accept delivery of the others?"

"Yes, we are. But we are unfortunately a little short-handed
today...."

"We always stay around till the boys are in The Cage, sir," the
corporal said.

"Thanks. Start unloading."

Corporal Forester saluted again and turned to face the vans. He waved
his arm and another trooper unlocked the door of the trailer to the
general's left. A group of men slowly jumped out and stood blinking in
the sun.

A trooper opened a large compartment beneath the van and yanked out
several large bags, all locked, all bulging, all the type Bennington
had known too well since the Second War.

The prisoners' personal effects, Bennington decided, and lifted his
megaphone.

"Form a single line facing the gate," he commanded.

There was an excess of shuffling movement, but at last a line was
formed.

Corporal Forester waved his hand again. The doors of the trailer were
locked and it started across the bridge.

Then the second trailer was unloaded and sent away. When its cargo had
added themselves to the line, the corporal again approached
Bennington.

"Want a roll call, sir?"

"The count is correct, but a roll call will help get them in order, in
the right frame of mind." Bennington raised his megaphone to his lips.
"Now get this! When your name is called, sound out HERE and run for
that gate. Then walk up the path and through the open door.

"John Musto."

A stockily-built, dark-faced man stepped from the line and with an
exaggerated slowness dawdled toward the gate. His pose lasted only a
moment. One of the Duncannon guards stepped forward and smacked his
rifle barrel across Musto's kidneys. The bank robber and murderer
pitched headlong to his knees, got up slowly with a snarl. But when
the guard gestured again with his rifle, Musto broke into a shambling
run.

Bennington waited until the first of the brothers stood panting at the
gate, then called, "Pietro Musto."

One example had been enough. Pietro took off on the double. In five
minutes the last man had vanished into The Cage.

"You get these, too, sir." Corporal Forester, with a bundle of papers.

"Right. And thanks for staying, corporal. By the way, isn't there
something I sign?"

The trooper produced a form and a pen. Bennington signed and they
saluted each other. The corporal grinned, then his expression sobered.
"That's a real bunch there, sir."

"We're conditioning them immediately, corporal."

"Good idea, sir. The sooner, the better!"

With another salute, the corporal turned to his car and Bennington
started toward The Cage.

       *       *       *       *       *

Inside The Cage, Bennington went into the corridor that led behind the
mirrors. He wanted to watch the weapons-check and the conditioning; he
found Thornberry waiting for him.

Bennington looked through the mirrors at the men standing as he and
his party had stood yesterday. Room One of The Cage was marked off
into numbered squares. Each man stood on a number, separated from his
brother cons by about ten square feet. They knew they were being
watched, although the men behind the mirrors were invisible to the
prisoners. They stirred restlessly, standing first on one foot, then
on the other, looking uneasily in all directions and seeing nothing
but their own reflections.

"Dalton is on Ten," Thornberry said.

Bennington looked and saw an exceedingly average-looking man. Wouldn't
notice him in a crowd, the general thought and realized that he had
learned one reason for Dalton's success.

"Start the random sequence with him," he said. The system was set up
so that no prisoner knew when he would be summoned.

"I told them to do that," Thornberry said.

"Number Ten", the loud-speaker boomed.

The general moved down the corridor until he was looking into the
hallway between Room One and Room Two. Until yesterday, the prisoners
had simply walked down the corridor while detectors checked them for
the presence of metals. They had then been held at the end of the
hallway until they had stripped themselves of everything that had
registered on the screens.

Today was different. Inside the door Dalton was being thoroughly and
completely searched. Nothing was found, but Bennington could sense
Thornberry's grim disapproval of the procedure.

Dalton was then shoved around the first of the hastily-erected screens
and ordered into a chair. A doctor beside the chair was ready with an
injection so smoothly and quickly that Dalton was under mild sedation
almost before he was aware of the needle's sting.

Across from Dalton, seated at a small table behind a spin-dizzy wheel
of flickering lights and ever-centering spiral, one of Thornberry's
psych-staff waited for a nod from the doctor. Then he started the
wheel spinning and Bennington could see his lips move.

After a moment, the psychologist turned his head to the doctor and
Bennington lip-read the word, "hypno." The doctor slowly put down one
of the biggest hypodermic needles Bennington had ever seen.

Less roughly, the guard led Dalton around the second screen.

At the end of the corridor Judkins was ready. He adjusted the big hood
over Dalton's head.

And Bennington turned away.

He had seen too much of the conditioning process, beginning in its
early days when the Army had realized its value in reducing the
manpower needed to watch the refuse of the cold war.

The POWS from the battle of the little undeclared wars; the refugee
camps, with their possible and probable subversives; the Army
disciplinary stations....

He waited farther down the corridor where he could look into Room Two.
In a few minutes Dalton entered. His face was subtly changed. A guard
gestured toward the piles of cots and blankets.

Dalton took one of the cots and two of the blankets, moved to Square
Number Ten on this side of the building and began making up his bed.
When the job was completed he sat down.

His back was toward the general and Bennington found himself wishing
he could see the prisoner's face. In the other room, Dalton had been
carefully, thoughtfully staring around.

His posture now spoke of a total lack of interest in his present
surroundings.

Bennington glanced at his watch and estimated the time needed on
Dalton. Hm-m-m, little better than five minutes. Of course, if a
prisoner was given that second shot.... Well, the average would still
be about five minutes.

Might as well go back to the office and work out how much each state
owed the prison.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thornberry's call came at 1915. "We've finished, general, and we're
ready to feed them. Of course, we still have some things to put away
over here--"

"Skip it," Bennington said. "We can have that done tomorrow morning."

"Judkins has asked permission to go to Harrisburg tonight. He wants to
see his sister about an apartment there. Several of the permanent
personnel do that. It's easy to get back and forth, and there's more
to do--"

"Tell him to take off. And let's see, we'll need him in the morning,
but maybe we can give him the afternoon off in return for his overtime
work tonight."

"I like that, general, and I'll do it. Now, I'm going to see that the
prisoners are fed, then I'd like to see you in your office."

"I want to see you, too, Dr. Thornberry. Tell Ferguson to arrange
supper for two over here--I haven't eaten either."

"I'll be with you in about fifteen minutes."

       *       *       *       *       *

Because the office was sound-conditioned, Bennington did not know that
the riot had started until the door slammed open and three men jammed
the doorway, all three trying to get in at once.

Acting by reflex, Bennington shot the man in the center. The other
two, entangled with the dead man, also tumbled to the floor.

The general promptly shot twice more.

Then he paused to think.

One glance told him his instinctive action had been correct. The man
in the center had been Pietro Musto, carrying a carving knife. The
other two ... yes, they had been in the group that had arrived this
afternoon.

But what was wrong? He had watched these men being conditioned....

A burst from a submachine gun echoed through the open door.

First thought: _They've got the armory!_

Second thought: _This is no place for me!_

He picked up his desk chair and smashed the picture window looking out
over the moat on the west side. Then he smashed with the chair again
to remove the fragments that stuck up like jagged knives.

A quick leap over the sill into the darkness, a twenty-foot sprint,
and he was able to throw himself down on the steep slope that five
feet farther on became the moat.

Just in time, he discovered. When he peered through the sparse grass,
he could see two men in his office. One had a shotgun, the other a
rifle. The man with the rifle lifted it to his shoulder and fired into
the ceiling.

Most of the staff, all but six of the guards up there, Bennington
thought.

Resting his right hand against his left arm, he took careful aim and
fired. The man with the rifle staggered and fell. The one with the
shotgun dropped completely out of sight.

Bennington heard someone shouting hoarsely about the lights.

The first floor blacked out.

He took a deep breath, held it, slowly released it. Then he was able
to think.

How this had started was for the moment unimportant. First came the
problem of regaining control.

To regain control, he needed help. To get help he had to reach the
nearest visiphone.

Glass tinkled to his right. Almost too late Bennington remembered how
his white hair could reflect the lights from the second-story windows.
He rolled rapidly to his left and a little more down the slope.

The dew-wet grass chilled his face and hands. His long legs felt the
water of the moat creep up past his knees.

A semiautomatic rifle with carefully timed shots searched the area
where he had been. "Good man," he noted professionally and replied
with a pistol shot. He rolled again back to where he had been, but
still further down the slope.

The rifle spoke copper-coated syllables once more, with a sequence of
shots that started where he had fired from. But this time the sequence
hunted further to both right and left.

This could go on all night.

He _had_ to get to a visiphone. Yet he couldn't leave here. The moment
he did, the convicts has a wide-open road to freedom.

The man with the rifle was good, Bennington noted again. His shots
were grass-clippers that could have substituted for a lawn mower.

Then a submachine gun chuckled crisply from Bennington's left. There
was a howl of pain. The rifle stopped looking for the general.

Bennington began crawling along the edge of the moat. That submachine
gun had spoken for his side of the argument and he had a big need for
the author who had used its words so well. He stopped crawling.
Someone was coming toward him.

"General?"

"Ferguson!"

"Yes, sir. You all right?"

"Yes. And you?"

"Fine, sir, but it was close for a minute."

"Tell me."

"I was coming in the door to Message Center, going to put my gun back
in the armory, then get your supper from the kitchen. I heard someone
screeching down the hall and then a couple of shots. The clerk on duty
got up and started toward the hall door. But it banged open in his
face and someone emptied a pistol into him. I let loose a burst and
jumped back. The guy with the pistol came through the door, still
hollering. I gave him a belly-full, then waited a moment to see if
anyone was behind him. Nobody was. I remembered hearing a window
smash, so I looked around this way for you."

"You've got how much ammo?"

"About half a clip, sir."

"We need help. I know they've got Message Centre, but--"

"The private line from the house, sir?"

"Right. And you'll stay here."

Ferguson understood. "No one will get out this way, sir, but I'll go
with you part way so I can cover the door out of Message Center, too."

No more words. Not even a handshake.

These two had worked together, fought together, before. Speeches
weren't needed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington's house was dark and, because it was still new to him, he
barked his shins twice before he found the visiphone. To save time and
avoid any lights, he first cut out the visual circuit and then he
simply dialed "0".

"Operator," a lilting voice replied.

"Connect me with the nearest State Police Barracks, please. Warden of
Duncannon Prison speaking."

"One moment, please." Not a change in the lilt.

Silence; then, "State Police Barracks, Private Endrews speaking."

"Warden Bennington, Duncannon Prison. We're having trouble here and I
need help. About thirty prisoners have seized control of our
Administration Building, which includes the armory."

"Riot? Duncannon? Impossible! Those men are con--"

"It may be impossible, but it's happening. Now, how much help can you
give me?"

"Let me check, sir." The phone was silent, except for heavy breathing
from Private Endrews. "Here it is, sir. In less than fifteen minutes,
three cars--that's six men and they've got full equipment in those
cars--will be at The Cage."

"That all?"

"No, sir. In twenty minutes I'll have the riot-control copter over the
prison. It's got floodlights on its belly and the pilot knows the
prison."

"Good. What else?"

"For at least two hours, that's all, sir. Standard Operating Procedure
calls for the immediate establishment of a cordon at fixed points,
roving patrols on the countryside west of you and blocks on all
railroads, bus and air terminals--"

"Someone will be in the parking lot. Give me what you have and get it
moving!"

It wouldn't be enough. Half of the permanent staff as hostages, enough
weapons and ammo in the armory to fight a war....

He dialed again. "Operator? I want the Commanding General at
Indiantown Gap. Now!"

"One moment; sir." The lilt was gone from the voice.

She had been listening in, the general decided.

"Duty Officer, Indiantown Gap. Major Smith speaking."

"Smith? Connect me immediately with General Mosby!"

"I'm sorry, but the general is--"

"Major, get off the line and get Mossback on before--"

There was a click, another telephone rang three times, then a calm
voice, "General Mosby".

"Bennington here!"

"Jim! You old--"

"No time, Mossback, I need help. I'm down at Duncannon Prison. Got a
riot on my hands, two gateguards plus myself and Ferguson to handle
it. The State police can give me only another six men, in the next
two hours."

"One moment, Jim. Duty Officer! The First Battalion, riot-armed, on
the field and in their copters in twenty minutes!"

"Second and Third Battalions fully-armed, with all support sections,
ready to roll in forty minutes!"

"Yes, sir!"

"Give me the whole picture, Jim. And by the way, I've visited the
prison."

Bennington gave the details in less than a minute, then added,
"Thanks, Mossback."

While he had been talking, Bennington had also been listening. From
Mosby's end of the line came clearly that most reassuring sound, the
great bull-speakers thundering out of orders that meant for a few
moments rapid running and confusion, then in a few moments more the
resolution of the confusion into disciplined movement.

Knowing Mosby, Bennington also knew that the copters would be loaded
in twenty minutes.

"Thanks again," he said.

"Thank you, Jim. I've been moaning for a chance to check our training.
See you in half an hour."

"You'll see me--"

"Sure. Don't think I'd miss a real shootin' match, do you? Hang on
till then." The line was dead.

_Hang on till then._

Easier said than done.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, step number one, survey the situation and the terrain.

A glance at his watch startled him. Though his combat experience had
taught him how time could compress and stretch, the fact that only
seven minutes ago he had been considering supper in his office came as
a shock.

He took no chances but left his house as he had come, by the back
door. Then stepping quietly but quickly, he went to the south side of
the Processing Building at the corner nearest the Administration
Building. All the offices were dark. Only scratches of light--probably
matches to cigarette tips--flickered briefly out of the windows of the
second-story where the staff was housed.

The mess hall was also dark but as Bennington watched, a short burst
of submachine gun fire tracered across the darkness from the kitchen
toward the armory.

"Listen, you screws, listen to this!"

The gigantic voice thundered through every corner of the compound. For
a second Bennington was startled, then he remembered. The rioters
controlled Message Center and the PA system.

"Stop shooting at us. Don't forget that half your staff is in here.
Every time you shoot one of us, we are shooting one of them."

The words came through on only part of Bennington's attention. They
registered, but he was also studying the seventy feet of open ground
between him and the nearest door into the mess hall.

The big voice again filled the compound.

"We want to talk to the warden if he's still alive. Or whoever can
take his place if he ain't. You got five minutes to call us on the
intercom."

I can talk to them from the kitchen if I can get there, Bennington
thought.

He glanced back over his shoulder. The moon, thought full, was only
part-way up.

_I'm sixty-five, but maybe I've got one fast run still left._

He did. He made it without a shot being fired.

But he stayed on his belly just outside the door, remembering the
submachine gun. From the shadow of the step into the mess hall, he
used his command voice to get safe passage.

"Thornberry!"

"General Bennington!"

The psychologist almost twisted Bennington's hand off before he could
speak. Then his first words puzzled the general. "We've got to find
Judkins."

"Why?"

"I want to know what went wrong--"

"That can wait. Let's put the fire out first, then learn how it
started. Who's here with you?"

"The two guards. Rayburne! Householder! Come here!"

"Only those two? Where's the kitchen staff?"

"Dead," said Thornberry soberly.

There was a roaring in the skies and through a window Bennington could
see the compound was almost as brightly lit up as it was by day.

"The riot-copter, and before I expected it," the general said, "I've
been in touch with the State police. And the Army."

There was another short burst of submachine fire. Bennington mentally
placed it as behind the Administration Building. _Someone trying to
sneak out the back way...._

"Stop that shooting!" The PA confirmed his thoughts. "No one else is
going to try to leave here. Warden, get on that intercom!"

_Got to hurry_, Bennington thought, _I've got to get them talking and
keep them talking_.

"Householder and Rayburne, get over to the parking lot. The State
police are coming there. Bring five of the six over here. Keep the
other man by his car radio. If he can switch to the Army frequency, or
can get in touch with the Army copters thorough his Headquarters,
guide their planes to land behind Barracks Four. Tell General Mosby
where I am. Tell him before he lands, so that he can plan his
deployment.

"Take off. Thornberry, come with me."

       *       *       *       *       *

The two of them clambered over the counter and carefully, to avoid
stepping on the dead, made their way to the kitchen office in the
southwest corner of the mess hall. Thorough one of its windows, the
Administration Building could be clearly seen.

The intercom was directly in front of the window.

Bennington seated himself and turned the intercom switch to Message
Center.

"This is General Bennington, the warden of this prison," he said
clearly. "I am in the kitchen office. To show my confidence in the
fact that we can arrange a bargain, I am turning on the light in this
room. You will be able to see me clearly."

[Illustration]

"No!" broke out Thornberry, staring at Bennington.

"Turn them on," said Bennington.

Thornberry hesitated for a heartbeat, obeyed the order. Then, moving
with deliberation, he seated himself beside the general.

"This is Musto," came from the intercom. "I'm boss over here. You've
got guts, Bennington, I've read about you. But don't forget, two of my
boys have you and the other guy on line down the sights of their
rifles. Any sign of something screwy, and you two get it first."

"There has to be mutual trust for any kind of bargaining," Bennington
replied. "This is mine, right out where you can see it."

"O.K. Now, first, get that copter off the top of this building."

Musto spoke with the assurance that his order would be obeyed.

"Go to hell," said Bennington easily.

"WHAT!"

"That copter above you, and the Army battalion that will be here in a
few minutes, are for me what those rifles you have aimed are for you.
You can knock me off, sure. But how long are you going to live to
enjoy the thrill?"

"Well, I'll be--" and Musto described his relationship to a female
dog.

"I can't confirm or deny your opinion of yourself," Bennington said,
and forced himself to chuckle. "Now, let's get down to business. What
do you want?"

"Pardons. For all of us. For all crimes."

Bennington whistled. "That's a big order. And in return?"

"Your staff stays alive."

Flatly. There was no question Musto meant what he said.

"That means I'll have to talk with the governors of six states,"
Bennington temporized.

"That's your worry."

The general sighed. "All right, you've got Message Center. Connect
this phone with the outside. Remember, this is going to take a while."

"That don't worry us, general. Add up how much time we've got coming
due over here. It's all you need and then some."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington lifted the phone on the desk and waited. He could see an
irregular flickering, like a cigarette lighter, in the Message Center
Room. Then the familiar buzzing sounded in his ears.

Once more he dialed "0". "Operator? This is Warden Bennington of Duncannon
Prison. Please arrange, with top priority, a person-to-person conference
line with this prison and the governors of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New
York, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut. Yes, call me, when the
connection is completed."

"And don't forget, we'll be listening," came simultaneously from the
intercom and the telephone.

"I expect you to," Bennington said promptly and hung up. At the same
time, he switched off the intercom.

He leaned back in his chair and, for the first time in years, found
himself aware of a long-forgotten feeling. The center of his forehead
tingled as if it were being brushed by a silky feather.

He knew the sensation, had felt it before. Someone had a gun on him.
And that someone was a mere thirty yards away.

The general turned his chair toward Thornberry, felt that feather
tingle along the nerves of his scalp. The psychologist was sitting
stiffly erect, his hands firmly clenched together in his lap.

"Tell me what happened after I left you," Bennington said. He kept a
wary eye on his assistant warden. The man seemed in the civilian
equivalent of battle shock.

Thornberry sat at attention, as if he were delivering a formal report.
"The guards lined up the prisoners in columns of twos and marched them
to the mess hall. There they split the column. The left half went to
the south door, the right half went to the north door. I followed the
line to the north door. They seemed to be piled in fast. When most of
them were in on my side, I squeezed by the rest and went to the back
of the hall. Rayburne and Householder, of course, stayed outside."

Thornberry's hands were slowly unclenching. Telling what happened
seemed to relieve his tension.

"Both lines moved quickly, except for the last man in the south line.
I thought he seemed to be dragging deliberately so. And for some
reason or the other, all the prisoners--even those at the tables,
except the drugged ones, hadn't started eating--watched him. But I
could see no reason for alarm.

"I was at the back and the two guards, with their guns, were at each
door. There was a counter between the prisoners and the kitchen, and,
most important, these men had been conditioned or drugged. Then the
one who was dragging got to the coffee urn with his tray."

Thornberry shivered and then slumped in his chair. "It was the most
shocking thing I have ever experienced because what happened was
against everything that I have ever learned. Those conditioned men in
the mess hall went mad. Before the guards could fire more than a
couple of shots, all the conditioned ones had thrown their trays at
me, at the guards, or the people behind the counter, and then started
scrambling across the counter. In a moment they were so mixed up with
our kitchen personnel that the guards didn't dare do any more
shooting. And just as suddenly as it had started, they were gone.
Except for me and two guards, everyone else in the mess hall was
either dead or dying, or one of the drugged men."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington lit a cigarette and wished that he had one of Ferguson's
stout drinks.

"Let me get this straight. They threw trays at you and the guards,
right? But nothing more. That is, they didn't run toward you?"

"No, first the trays and then directly over the counter into the
kitchen and out its two back doors."

"In other words, they knew where they were going."

Thornberry's face showed sharp surprise. "Why, yes, they did. They did
seem to have a purpose, a definite sense of direction in the way they
left the mess hall."

"For once I must completely agree with one of your statements,
Thornberry. As soon as we can, we've got to get hold of Judkins, but
we can't do it from here, dammit."

"Tell me who he is and we'll get him for you," a voice whispered from
the floor.

Though educated in different professions, both Bennington and
Thornberry had been well trained in the value of not showing
astonishment. Out of the corner of his eyes, the general could see a
uniformed State trooper lying flat on the floor. The head lifted,
Bennington recognized Trooper Forester.

"This is your party," the corporal continued. "How does the
entertainment shape up?"

"We've got to keep the customers happy," the general said, "by making
them think that the main show is just about to start."

"While you figure out some way to take them before they start throwing
rocks at your supporting cast. Right? Well, Life Can Be Beautiful and
I wish it would start right now. What can I do?"

"Get in touch with the governors. All of them. New York and
Pennsylvania and the rest. Tell them that when they talk to me, they
have to pull a good legitimate stall. Maybe they can refer to the laws
they operate under. They might have to get an opinion from their
attorneys general. Anything, as long as it sounds good."

"Can do. Will do. And after that?"

"A good question, Corporal Forester. We'll discuss that after the
break."

From the floor, a low laugh. "I had a year at the Fort Benning School
for Infantry Boys, sir. Oh, how about this Judkins?"

Thornberry took over with an exceedingly accurate description of the
wanted Judkins and his probable habits.

The corporal gave a low appreciative whistle. "With that we'll have
him in a couple of hours, sir."

"I'll let a man outside this door on his belly like I am. By the way,
we _are_ in touch with the army. We're set to guide them in. Good
luck, sir."

Bennington and Thornberry looked at each other.

We'll need more than luck, Bennington thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the middle of his next cigarette, Bennington heard a familiar voice
speaking outside the office door.

"When can I start shooting, Jim?"

"Mossback!"

"In person." A low laugh. "Wish the men you taught cover and
concealment could take a look at you now.

"Here's the situation, Jim. I'm deployed in a looping L around the
Administration Building. Your prisoners in One and Two have been
moved out under guard into the open space beside Number Four where my
copters dropped.

"The short end of my L touches the moat near your house. And by the
way, Ferguson is all right. We relieved him. He says three prisoners
tried to get out, but he thinks he got one of the three.

"The long end of my L goes just far enough toward Barracks One so that
we won't be shooting each other."

"For a change, I didn't hear your copters come in, Mossback."

Another laugh, touched with pride. "Jim, for once, the Army is ahead
of the civilian population. Our new jobs are even quieter than the
night mail delivery for the suburbs. I put a squad on the roof of the
building."

"_You did?_"

"No hopes, Jim. Doesn't mean a thing. I've had the report. But listen,
I've got a civilian here who may be able to help."

With Mosby's words Bennington had felt his hopes rise, fall, and rise
again. "Tell him to start talking."

"Slater, sir."

Bennington choked down his first words.

"I know what you were going to say, sir, and I deserve it, but this
time I think I can help."

"How did you find out about this?"

"I was in a squad car on a drunk and disorderly charge. The story came
over their radio. They brought me here."

"All right, go ahead."

"General Mosby was smart, sir. He brought along some sleep gas."

"So? Not surprising." Bennington knew sleep gas was standard
precaution for riot control.

"The mess hall is the center of the compound. Because of that, in its
cellar are the furnaces which heat the other buildings."

"What does that mean?"

"You have a forced-draft, hot-air system here, sir--"

The telephone rang, the intercom spoke. "Warden, those governors are
on the line."

"Our only chance," Bennington said, "and now is the time. They'll all
be listening to this phone call over there."

He hoped the man with the rifle trained on him was very susceptible to
sleep gas.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Jim, you haven't lost your touch with a pistol." General Mosby
pointed to his meaning with the toe of his boot. "But you'll need a
new carpet in your office here."

Bennington glanced at the three dead men, the broken window, and added
them to his mental list of things to be done. But he put them among
the minor problems; he had enough major ones already.

The news services were besieging The Cage. A couple of ambitious
photographers had been caught attempting to cross the moat. The
civilian dead in the mess hall had to be identified and the next of
kin notified. His entire staff was disorganized: imprisoned as
hostages, knocked out along with the rioters by sleep-gas, brusquely
revived by Mosby's aid-men--Well, he might be able to get some work
out of them tomorrow.

The rioters still slept, but what to do about those supposedly
conditioned men when the gas wore off ... a new hypno-tech, from
somewhere, by tomorrow morning.

_Add six governors who think I have nothing to do but tell them every
detail_, he thought grimly.

"You had better eat, sir."

Ferguson, with a gigantic sandwich and a mug of coffee.

Bennington abruptly realized that he had not eaten since noon. Then,
in the middle of his second bite, he was aware of still another
problem.

He swallowed hastily. "Mossback, did you bring the entire battalion?
Are you completely set up for independent battalion operation?"

"Yes, of course. Why?"

"I've got a compound full of prisoners and a staff to feed."

Mosby turned to his aide, but the captain has already started for the
door. Mosby swung back to Bennington, rubbed his hands together
gleefully. "Better and better. Just as if we had captured and had to
use an enemy installation. Prisoners to guard, dead men and a couple
of wounded to take care of.... Jim, I can't thank you enough."

"You're welcome, but how long can I keep you?"

Mosby sobered. Like all good general officers, he was acutely
sensitive to the political significance of his actions.

"We can get away with what we did tonight, Jim," he answered slowly.
"But well, you know how the states have become the past couple of
years, since they started forming regional groups.

"Wait a minute! You got prisoners from six states, don't you?"

"Yes."

"You can have the whole command. And if the AG's office can't dig up
at least six good precedents for my decision, we can always let slip
the story of the hula girl and the hot cigarette butt. I may do that,
anyhow. I always did think he went too far to get good pictures."

"I may need more," Bennington said soberly.

"What you need, you get, Jim, but why?"

"Two of them got away."

"Yes?" Mosby was interested, but not especially so.

"One was a very good escape artist--guy call Dalton. _Harry Dalton._"

"Um, yes," Mosby interrupted, "I recall that name. If I were his
commanding officer, I would call him 'Always AWOL'."

"The other was a fairly young man named Clarens."

       *       *       *       *       *

A silence grew. At last Mosby spoke, "I've heard of him, too. How did
they get through the road blocks?"

"We had to use everything." The tired man standing at the door was
Corporal Forester. "We used even trainees from the Academy, and those
two must have gotten out of here as soon as the riot started.

"There was only one checkpoint between here and Harrisburg and the
truck looked legitimate, full of clothes picked up around the
countryside. There seemed to be only one man in it and he was a sort
of everyday-looking fellow."

Bennington remembered his own impression of Dalton.

"I can't blame the trainees. Dalton's gotten by better men than they
are yet," the corporal continued. "And they were looking for desperate
criminals, not for someone in a cleaning company's uniform who asked,
when they stopped him, if they wanted some work done."

"Anybody been killed yet?" Thornberry asked.

Forester was a long time answering. "Not yet, doctor. But a man
answering Clarens' description bought six steak knives near the
railroad station tonight."

"Six steak knifes?" Mosby asked.

"Yes," Forester answered. "Clarens and Dalton split the money the
cleaning man was carrying."

"How do you know this?" Bennington asked.

"Dalton gave himself up," Forester answered. "He wanted nothing to do
with Clarens when the boy started eying the knives."

"We've got to get to Harrisburg," Bennington said, "and the first
thing we've got to do is to find Judkins."

"If only our files had not been shot up when the cons took over
Message Center," Thornberry worried, "we could have gotten in touch
with his sister-in-law."

"No," said Bennington and Forester together.

"No," agreed General Mosby.

The two generals looked at each other, then at the corporal.

Forester took the cue. "I think it's a planned job. The riot, that is.
Someone wanted to disgrace you the first day you took over, general.
Or, listen! This may be it: they wanted to be sure that someone here
in prison didn't talk. I mean--" The trooper rubbed his hand across
his forehead. "Thought I had something there."

"I think you do," Bennington said, "but first things first. Let's find
Judkins. Then Clarens."

"We'll fly down," Mosby decided. "And let's do something I always
wanted to do. We'll land on the Capitol grounds. Give me your phone,
Jim. We will need more than the battalion I brought with me."

"And it's upstairs, ready and waiting."

       *       *       *       *       *

Considering Harrisburg from above, Bennington decided the town, as a
tactical problem in setting up patrols, offered unique difficulties.
The way those railroad yards stretched up and down each side of the
river....

The riot-control copter had moved ahead of them and was their guide to
a relatively clear spot among the trees dotting the Capitol grounds.

Three dignitaries awaited their arrival, Governor Willoughby, Mayor
Jordan and Chief of Police Scott.

"This way, sir," said Scott, elbowing aside the other two.
"Formalities can wait, we've got work to do."

Introductions were performed on the way to another grove lanced with
searchlights. A photographer was busy over the body of a middle-aged
man.

"Some folks you can't tell anything," Scott said, "and especially when
they're in heat. We never had any complaints about this guy, but we
knew what he was. I myself told him that someday he would pick up the
wrong man.

"And he sure did this time," he added unnecessarily.

Corporal Forester squatted beside the body. "He was kneeling, grabbed
by his long hair, head pulled back, one good slash did the rest."

"Real nice slash," General Mosby agreed professionally. "I'd like to
show that to some of my men." He pushed the head back so that the cut
across the throat was more clearly visible. "Just one swipe."

"Clarens was a pre-med student," Thornberry stated.

Bennington noticed that his psych-expert had kept his gaze fixed on
the trees after a glance at the body.

"No idea where he went from here, of course?" Mosby asked.

"None," Scott admitted, "but I've got patrols out."

"I've got another battalion upstairs," Mosby remarked, jabbing toward
the stars with his thumb, "and the rest of the regiment on the way.

"You know this town. Tell me how you want them distributed."

"I'd like to." Scott meditated a moment. "But, I can't. I can't even
swear them in. They're Federal troops."

"I've just declared martial law," Governor Willoughby emerged from the
shadows.

"Thanks, sir." Scott looked like a man with a weight taken from his
shoulders. "We'll need cars, of course."

"But we can stop them on the streets. Then have our men drive them
home. With your help, General Mosby, we can cover this town like a
blanket."

But the blanket was too late to stop the second murder.

       *       *       *       *       *

The report came in after they had talked to Dalton.

"That's why I gave myself up," the convict said. "I wanted no part of
that guy, so I figured my best alibi was a nice, quiet cell."

"How is Clarens dressed?" Scott demanded.

"He picked a double-breasted blue suit from the racks in the truck.
Fitted him good, too."

Scott strode into the next room and through the open door Bennington
saw the Chief of Police pick up a mike.

"This is important." Thornberry, intent, looking like a lean hound on
a hot trail. "_What were you told when you were conditioned?_"

"I don't remember." Dalton was plainly baffled. "I just don't
remember. Something about when a guy threw his tray.... You got me, I
don't know."

"All right." The psychologist tried another tack. "What made you leave
the others and take Clarens with you?"

"I didn't take him with me." Dalton's voice was weary, edged with
anger. "I remember sitting down under the hypno-hood in The Cage.
From there on, things are mixed up. I think there was running and
yelling and that I ran and yelled, too.

"Then I came to and I was in a building with a lot of guys grabbing
guns."

"I should have predicted it," the psychologist said, "that he would be
commanded to forget what he had been told while under the hood."

"Can't you remove the block?" Chief Scott had returned in time to hear
the last words.

Thornberry pursed his lips, then said, "It would take a very long
time. Remember, I know Judkins, I interviewed him and watched him work
before we hired him. He is a very, very good hypno-tech. And there's
no machine anywhere near except at the prison.

"Let's hear the rest of his story. Go on, Dalton."

"You know my record, guns aren't for me. So I looked around and saw a
busted window. This Clarens and another guy--a big fat one--had sort
of stuck with me. I guess they didn't like guns either. When I went
out the window, they were right behind. Clarens and I ran real fast.
The fat guy behind us tried to run as fast, but he wheezed too much.

"Somebody lying on the edge of the moat cut loose with a subgun and
Big Belly went down. Then Clarens and I were in the water. The other
cons back in the building started shooting at the guy with the subgun.
I guess he got too busy ducking to give us any more attention. Anyhow,
he didn't swing any tracers after us.

"We ran across a couple of fields, toward Duncannon, and spotted a guy
pulling a delivery truck into a farm lane. We sneaked in, found a
wrench. When the driver came back, I gave him a gentle tap. Clarens
and I stripped the fellow, tied him up and shoved him in one of the
big baskets in the truck.

"In the uniform, it was a cinch to fool the troopers. They stopped us
only once on the way into town. When we got there, I switched again
from the driver's uniform into one of the suits from the racks. We had
it made, hands down."

"Why didn't you turn Clarens in when you gave yourself up?" Scott
demanded angrily.

"I tried to. Remember, I didn't know who the guy was until after we
had looked in the railroad station and seen it full of cops. But when
he started admiring the steak knives in the window, his name clicked
with me. I said to him, 'I've got to go to the little boy's room--I'll
be back in a minute'. I found the nearest cop and turned myself in,
but I couldn't make that thickhead believe there was a worse one than
me down the street. At least, not until Clarens had got the knives and
taken off."

Bennington wondered if he had ever heard anyone speak with such deep
disgust.

The call which took them to the Camp Hill area justified Dalton's
condemnation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The hysterical mother had been led away by a couple of consoling
neighbors. Bennington, Scott and Thornberry stood looking down at the
neatly dismembered body. Behind them General Mosby spoke to three of
his soldiers.

"Good work, men. Keep it up and get back on your beats. You know now
what you're hunting for. I'm sure you'll hunt even harder."

The slapping sounds of rifles saluting, the clicks of heels, the
scrape of boots in an about-face and a scrap of conversation floated
to Bennington. "Any mother who lets a kid out as late as this...."

Mosby joined them and picked up where the soldier had left off. "How
did it happen, Scott?"

"It's hard to get anything out of the mother right now," Scott
replied, "but I got this. They were waiting up for the father--he's on
the swing shift--and the kid wanted ice cream. The store's just around
the corner and the mother was busy ironing, so she gave the kid a
quarter."

The chief of police turned away from the body, turned away from the
lines written in blood on the wall--"PLEASE CATCH ME QUICK". He went
to his car and switched its radio to one of the local stations.

[Illustration]

"_Stay off the streets. If you are in your car, do not stop for
anything except--and listen carefully--at least three men in army or
police uniforms. Do not stop for any man standing alone. Do not leave
your home except on the most essential business. If you must leave do
not go alone. Repeat: Do not leave the house alone...._"

Scott switched back to the police band. "What we just heard is on
every radio and TV station covering Harrisburg."

Another police car drifted into the alley, emptied men and equipment.

"We can go," Scott said. "My men will take care of the routine."

All of them were silent as they crossed the Market Street Bridge into
the central section of town, deserted except for police and army
patrols.

"Belton Hotel," the radio squawked. "_Judkins has been picked up at
the Belton._"

"Now I'll find out what he has told them," Thornberry exulted, "and
then we'll have no trouble finding Clarens."

       *       *       *       *       *

"You know my name, you know my present address, and I'm not saying any
more until I see my lawyer." Judkins had been saying that for half an
hour and his words had not changed.

Mosby tugged at Bennington's sleeve. Together they moved to a corner
of the hotel room, and at Mosby's nod, Scott and Thornberry joined
them.

"Get out of here for five minutes. When you come back, he'll be glad
to talk."

Mosby wasn't joking.

"I want to do the same thing," Scott said bitterly, "but I can't do
it."

"You're under civil law," Mosby stated. "This town is under martial
law. I might be able to get away with it."

"Not a chance," Governor Willoughby had joined them. "It would mean
your career, general. Even the President couldn't protect you."

"Clarens is out there," Mosby argued, pointing out the window
overlooking the city. "Did you see that little girl?"

"No, but I heard about it. And I saw the man," the governor answered.

"I was there," said Thornberry abruptly. "Will you gentlemen let me,
_just_ me, alone with Judkins for five minutes?"

All four of them, the two generals, the police chief, the governor,
stared at the psychologist.

"Yes," Bennington decided for the group. "We will."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Doughboy...._

Bennington stopped after his first step back into the room, was
jostled by Mosby following closely behind. He moved forward to where
he could see both Judkins and Thornberry.

The hypno-tech sat bolt upright, his face like that of a
newly-conditioned prisoner, completely blank.

Thornberry's face radiated pride.

"These technicians are all alike," the psychologist sniffed. "Their
work makes them especially sensitive to hypnosis."

Bennington looked at Judkins, then back to Thornberry. "You mean...."

"I mean that I can ask Judkins anything we want to know and he'll give
a truthful answer." Another sniff. "I've forgotten more about hypnosis
than he'll ever know."

"This won't hold in a court," Chief Scott warned.

"But it may save a life, maybe more than one," Bennington answered.
"Thornberry, you did a good job of those guards. You question
Judkins."

"Wait a minute," General Mosby said. "How fast can we get a tape
recorder?"

"Why waste time?" asked Bennington. "You can't use this in court."

"Hell, Jim, stop thinking about courts-martial; there's more than
_one_ court. Let's fry these boys in the court of public opinion. The
news services aren't bound by the rules of evidence. We can worry
about other courts later."

"I can get you a tape recorder in two minutes," Scott stated. "Our
patrol boys always carry them to take statements at accidents, before
the victims get over their shock enough to start lying. And we keep
one in the office, too."

Thornberry looked at Judkins and a self-satisfied smirk crept over his
face. "No need to worry about lies from this one."

       *       *       *       *       *

Judkins spoke in a low monotone not much louder than the soft hiss of
the machine recording his words. Question by question--in Judkins'
condition, each query had to be specific, Thornberry said--the pattern
emerged.

Basing his request on his position as a member of the prison
commission, Senator Giles had invited Judkins to lunch with him. The
senator, however, despite his statement that he wanted only to be sure
that Duncannon was getting the best personnel, had not confined his
questions to Judkins' background.

Was the hypno-tech alone when he conditioned the men? Any set
statement to be made? Could Judkins add to the instructions given each
convict without the knowledge of the prison authorities?

The following day, both Senator Giles and Representative Culpepper had
called upon Judkins at his sister-in-law's home. Bluntly, they offered
ten thousand dollars if the technician could guarantee that Rooney
would never be able to talk about the income tax racket.

When Judkins had explained that any conditioning he could give would
be as easily removed by another tech, the two men had gone into a
corner and consulted in whispers.

They had emerged from the corner with this offer: First, they would
bargain with the new warden to get Rooney a job as a trusty. If that
failed they offered Judkins twenty thousand dollars and a hideout in
New York--until they could set him up outside the country--if he would
condition a group of prisoners to riot and discredit Bennington
immediately.

"What Rooney must be sitting on!" Mosby murmured in Bennington's ear.

"Was sitting on," Bennington said bitterly. "He was the fat belly with
Dalton and Clarens, the one who didn't make it."

The story flowed on under Thornberry's skillful questioning.

       *       *       *       *       *

At noon yesterday, a frightened and angry Giles had called Judkins,
had boosted the bribe to thirty thousand and demanded immediate
action.

"What did you tell the prisoners?" Thornberry's voice was as even as
Judkins'.

"I was their friend and their only friend; every one else was their
enemy. I told them they must be quiet and obey all orders until the
last man received his coffee in the mess hall. They were then to throw
their trays at the people around them. I told them where to go for
guns. I told them that then they would forget all that I had said,
that they would know how to take care of their enemies."

"Gentlemen, do you realize what this means, in terms of the
constitutional psychopathic inferior? I refer to Clarens, not Dalton.
Dalton reacted as Judkins directed, including to forget that he had
been told everyone was his enemy. Dalton, we know from his record,
actually disliked to use weapons even as a threat.

"But we can be sure that Clarens has not forgotten."

"Why not?" Mosby demanded.

"Because the instructions he received only intensified what he himself
believed before Judkins worked on him. As soon as he had a chance he
looked for his kind of weapons. How he got her there, we won't know
until we catch him, but note that he killed the little girl in the
equivalent of a cavern.

"And the man in the park, that, too, took place in what was
necessarily an almost secret spot.

"Those orders Judkins gave, we _know_ Clarens is still responding to
them...."

Thornberry hesitated a moment, then completed his thought. "And so we
must intensify our patrols on the darker streets. With this poor boy
believing that every man's hand is turned against him, he is now
looking for some dark place in which to feel safe. He is in essence
retreating to the foetus--"

"Sounds good, but tell me the rest later, Doc."

"General Mosby, you and I want to call our roving patrols," and Scott
headed for the door, Mosby right behind him.

"By the way, Doc," the chief called back over his shoulder, "when
you're done with that guy, just tell one of my men. We've got a
special, reserved, very solitary cell for him."

More slowly, Bennington followed Scott and Mosby.

The area of the hunt had perhaps been narrowed. Their quarry--the
beast with steel knives for talons--would be found in a dark, deserted
place.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington noted that Thornberry stayed with Judkins for about ten
minutes before he joined the group around the map of Harrisburg in the
Operations Office.

Personally, the warden was glad that his assistant was not present;
the discussion would almost certainly have produced and explosion from
the psychologist.

Scott began his gloomy analysis after both he and General Mosby had
redirected their patrols to heavier concentrations in Harrisburg's
dim-lit and winding side streets.

"I hate to hunt this kind," the chief said gloomily. "You just never
know, never know anything, except that they're going to kill again.

"I just hope he has cooled off and that he wants to sleep a while."

Bennington noted with amused interest the startled glance General
Mosby gave the Chief of Police. Mosby's greatest strength and greatest
weakness, both in the field and garrison, was his complete refusal to
accept or excuse aberration.

Scott had caught the glance, too, and continued. "I got a good lab,
general, smart boys willing to pull extra duty. They've already told
me that Clarens reached--after he killed the guy in the park--an
emotional climax."

Bennington watched his former Division Commander's face harden as
expected.

Scott continued: "That's why I said, I hope he's crawled off, wants to
sleep a while. Every place he can get a bed in my town, I'll know the
minute he wants to lie down.

"Then I'll take him, like this"--the big hand crushed upon
itself--"dead or alive, and I hope I have to take him dead."

"Why _dead_?"

"General, sorry, _warden_--no, I'll go back to the way I know you
best--General Bennington, Clarens simply isn't the business of any
kind of normal living.

"You take a guy who cracked a safe, knocked off a payroll, robbed a
bank, he's like any good business man taking a risk; he has insurance,
he's got an out.

"He can buy me, he can talk to the D.A., he can get the court to go
along if he's caught. He just says, I'll tell you where the stuff is
if I get the minimum.

"O.K., we're wrong, we should go black-and-white, we should say no to
any kind of deal, I shouldn't let a little guy go just because I'd
rather grab the big one. Only, unconditional surrender doesn't work
any better in my job than it does in yours on a battlefield."

       *       *       *       *       *

"We've learned it doesn't work too well," Bennington agreed, "but what
has this to do with Clarens?"

"General, you did the right thing up at Duncannon when you decided to
talk to Musto. He was a man in business, with something to buy and
something to sell. He could be dealt with.

"Now think this through: Suppose everybody in that Administration
Building had been a Clarens. And I heard that you said this, General
Bennington, that there has to be some sort of mutual trust for
bargaining. You could deal with Musto because he is, and I'll make the
point again, a sort of business man even though his business isn't
legal.

"But Clarens...."

Chief Scott let the silence build while he lit a cigarette.

"But Clarens wants to be caught," Mosby said.

"He does?" Chief Scott pointed to the map. "General Mosby, you and I
both know that all he has to do is sit down on the curb underneath any
street light.

"Let me change that. We would have him ten minutes faster if he sat
down on the curb of any dark street.

"No, he doesn't want caught, except maybe those first couple of
minutes when he's almost human, those first couple of minutes after
he's killed somebody. And if you have to kill someone to have human
feelings yourself--that's not for most of us and that's why I hope he
fights back and I have to take him--dead."

Chief Scott turned back to the map of Harrisburg. His forefinger ran
down the river, pausing at each of the many bridges. Then he turned to
the generals.

"Maybe we've got him pinned. We've had the bridges sealed tight and if
Dr. Thornberry is right, he won't chase west because Pennsylvania
land, especially around here, is selling real high and that's still
very open country.

"And that's not for Clarens, he wants back into our little city, back
where things feel close and he feels _inside_."

Bennington found himself looking at Mosby, with the glance returned.

Mosby spoke, reluctantly. "He could be through us, Chief Scott."

"_How?_"

"The same way my men come back to camp and it's a natural way that's
rarely stopped."

"Clarens had no military experience!" Scott said.

"No, but he's read a lot--that came out at the trial--and he's under
pressure, so he'll remember what he read," Bennington said.

"Tell me this way you can walk invisible across a lighted bridge," and
Scott was still unconvinced.

"You don't walk over, you ride over," Mosby said. "I would work it
this way.

"I would stop in a bar and buy a drink that made me smell five feet
away. I would order and get rid of a couple more of them, very
quickly, then I would tip the bartender to call me a cab.

"And by the way, of course I wouldn't be drinking any after the first
one.

"But when the cabbie came, I'd offer him a drink, wave a big bill or
two that meant a good tip, and give him a good address--for instance,
the hotel that takes up the biggest space in the yellow pages of the
telephone book.

"I would get into the back seat of the cab still holding on to the
biggest bill or two out of those we took from the cleaning truck and I
would pretend to fall asleep.

"With that cab driver convinced that he's hauling a drunk just aching
to give away a big tip--and any normal human being perfectly sure that
a wanted killer would never walk into a bar, get loaded and order a
cab to take him to the biggest hotel in town--what are my chances,
Chief Scott?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The chief did not answer directly. Instead, "And I'll bet he wins that
appeal he's got going, too."

"What did you say, Chief Scott?" Bennington asked.

"We got the word a while ago from Delaware by teletype. Clarens has
three good lawyers fighting an appeal from the conviction on every
grounds you can think of, including that the confession was beaten out
of him.

"That's why I hope he wants to fight when I catch up with him, and
that's what Delaware hopes, too.

"But here comes Dr. Thornberry, General Mosby. Let's ask him why
Clarens hides so well when he says he wants to be caught."

Thornberry pursed his lips so tightly that his face became a skull's
head, then he answered.

"In some areas of human behavior...." he began.

"Dalton," Bennington interrupted, "does he make a game out of getting
away when he's caught?"

Thornberry's face became almost human with a big smile. "Oh, yes,
obviously."

"Could that energy he puts into escaping be channeled, led,
educated--in some way--to constructive thinking? Put it this way:
could Dalton be led to thinking about making a jail escape-proof?"

"A most excellent therapy," and Thornberry was actually beaming.
"General Bennington, I am beginning to have great hopes for our work
together as we start to see more and more eye to eye."

"Let's go back to Clarens," Bennington said. "Son of wealthy parents,
a good education, the only child in a family who seemed to have
everything, including parents who loved both each other and the
child--why does he kill, ask to be caught, and then hide so well?

"What therapy does your science have for him, Dr. Thornberry?"

Thornberry's lip-pursing again made his face a skeleton's.

"There are areas of human behavior--"

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington observed that Scott and Mosby had turned away from the
conversation to the immediacies of patrol distribution. Scott was
being eloquent on how lighting cut down crime and Mosby was analyzing
the idea in terms of house-to-house combat at night under
slow-dropping flares.

For further insurance of privacy, Bennington pulled Thornberry into
the corner of the room most removed from the others.

"Doctor, let's forget about Clarens for a moment. I want to talk about
Judkins."

"Yes, general."

"How did you hypnotize him? And don't hand me any of that stuff about
him being sensitive because of his job."

Thornberry smiled. "You've seen too many conditioned men, and in a way
I'm surprised that I got past Chief Scott with my ... General Mosby
should have been more alert, too.

"You're right, it was his skin, not his job."

"I'm still puzzled."

"I won't go into the physical structure of the man, his character as
revealed by his choice of profession, and so on. Briefly, he is
hyper-sensitive to the thought of physical pain, that's all. So I gave
him a simple choice. Talk to us in such a way that what he said could
never be used against him, or go for a ride with you, Chief Scott, and
General Mosby.

"This is very odd, a fact I must further check into, that your name
frightened him most."

"_You_ threatened someone with violence!"

Thornberry sniffed. "It was no threat. I knew the man and simply
appealed to him in the proper way. Then with the spray of cannabis
indica that I carry, I speeded his willingness--"

"Marihuana!"

"Please don't be so shocked!" and Thornberry was horrified that
Bennington should be shocked. "The prescription I use is a carefully
compounded medical dosage specifically prepared to promote
suggestibility...."

"Doctor, I am not in the least suggesting that you would use any
method or drug not thoroughly commended by your profession.

"In addition, I am delighted beyond expression that you found some way
to learn what we needed from Judkins.

"But, just as I was surprised that your profession did find a use for
a drug previously condemned, I now want to be surprised in another
way:

"_What can you do for someone like Clarens?_"

Thornberry's lips came together and his cheeks began to pull in.
Bennington resigned himself to hearing again the phrase, "There are
some areas of human behavior--"

       *       *       *       *       *

"_Car 17, at M dash 9, Code Two Zero, times two. Standing by for
instructions._"

Bennington turned to watch Chief Scott's big fore-fingers travel a
line from the side and a line from the top that brought them together
on the big map. "Signs of breaking and entering, down on Hickory,
where it's all big warehouses."

Thornberry leaped to the chief's side. "Lonely at this time of night?
Dark? Not too many people?"

"Right on every count," Scott said. "Only a few night watchmen."

"This should be carefully checked," and Thornberry started for the
door.

Scott turned to the dispatcher. "Tell them just to keep the place
under observation until I get there."

There was an odd eagerness about the chief, odd until Bennington
remembered Scott's grim analysis of Clarens' behavior, the chief's
hope that Clarens would resist arrest.

_And why do I now recall that time in Burma when I followed the
wounded tiger into the cave?_

_What was I thinking of at the time?_

Thornberry had disappeared into the corridor, but for once even the
prospect of immediate action was not enough to get the impetuous Mosby
out the door ahead of Scott.

_Was I thinking of mercy, that I could not let a wounded beast which
could not destroy itself live with continual pain? Thornberry would
never agree, but Clarens is certainly both wounded and incapable of
self-destruction._

Thornberry was already seated in the back of the car. Mosby was ready
to seat himself in the front, Scott was opening the door to slide in
behind the driver's wheel, but Bennington did not change his steady
pace.

_Retribution and punishment, because the tiger had killed human
beings? No, no and never no, for these are worthless without
understanding by the person upon whom they are visited. A baby
understands not the reason why, but only the whack across its buttocks
when its fingers or its life are in danger, and that action is thence
forward "reject"; but Clarens is not a baby and a baby is not a tiger,
with all three having only this in common, that 'don't do this' is a
mystery...._

Bennington seated himself beside Thornberry in the rear of Scott's
sedan, more aware of his thoughts than his movements.

For a moment the whine of the turbine was high, the gleam of the
headlights low, then they were on their way.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hickory Street was a fast three-minute run from the police station.

"Nothing but warehouses," Scott said. "We're a big trans-shipment
center."

The narrow, one-way streets and the broad-shouldered bulk of the big
buildings emphasized what the chief had said. The railroads and the
rivers were still the most economical way to ship the space-taking
stuff, coal, steel, grain. Harrisburg was a crossroads where the
east-west and north-south main lines met, with a natural growth of the
long warehouses at the intersection.

Scott spun the driver's wheel to the left and cut the car lights.
"Hickory Street."

It is a lonely place at night, Bennington decided.

Thornberry leaned forward from the back seat of the car, leaned
forward so far between Scott and Mosby that his thin nose almost
touched the front window.

"Ideal, ideal, just the way Clarens would be thinking."

"Thank God we found Judkins," Mosby said, "but say, that reminds me.
Why didn't he take the first plane or train out of town? He had plenty
of time before we knew we wanted him."

Thornberry pulled himself back, re-condensed his lean frame in the
left corner of the back seat. "He was waiting for Senator Giles to pay
him off and tell him where to hide out."

Chief Scott idled his car to a halt beside another dark-blue sedan
almost invisible in the shadowed street.

A figure loomed large in the shadows, came forward and identified
itself.

"Patrolman Whelton, sir, and Sergeant Kerr is in the back."

Somehow Scott managed to return the salute while at the same time
disentangling himself from his seat-belt and from behind the driver's
wheel.

"What did you spot?"

"According to orders, we were riding the alleys and we saw that the
window had been broken since our last inspection."

They were in a tight group around the young patrolman because Whelton
had spoken in a soft, church-going whisper. Now Mosby walked away from
the group, thoughtfully fingering the ivory-handled butts of his
revolvers, but returning to the group when Scott began speaking.

"Thanks, General Mosby. They couldn't have checked the alleys as often
as they did without your men helping out on the streets. This way, we
caught it fast."

[Illustration]

"Sir, we can't find the watchman for this area," and Patrolman Whelton
was very worried.

"Watchman?" Mosby asked.

"Fire-warden would be more accurate," Scott said. "He isn't here to
prevent theft. The stuff in these buildings is too big to steal
without a convoy of trucks that would awaken the whole town. But he
does have a definite route, with fixed posts where he clocks in."

Two more cars drifted to a halt, disgorged men armed with shotguns and
submachine guns.

Scott rubbed his chin thoughtfully, gave his orders carefully,
obviously aware that he had two renowned tacticians with him.

His car and one of the newly-arrived ones were to remain in front of
the warehouse. The other patrol car would pull around the block and
join Sergeant Kerr in the alley. At Scott's signal, they would flood
the building with light.

And not until much later did Bennington remember to laugh at the way
they had all followed the elephantine Whelton's example and gone on
tiptoe down the walk between the two concrete-walled warehouses, into
the alley behind.

       *       *       *       *       *

The broken window was in a small door, part of the large door which
let trucks in and out.

"Nice eye," Scott said to Whelton.

Bennington agreed.

The break in the window was just big enough to allow a hand through
the door, a small hand through the pane to the lock on the inside of
the door.

Scott stretched out his arm to try to slide his big, freckled hand
through the break in the window, but abruptly Thornberry stepped
forward, catching the chief's hand in mid-gesture.

"One moment, Chief Scott!"

The chief was startled. "What's up?"

"This isn't your job, it's mine. If that poor boy _is_ in there, he
needs a doctor, not a bullet."

"Whatthehell--" Scott sputtered, the phrase emerging as a single word.

"Thornberry's right, Chief Scott, though he's right for the wrong
reason. Clarens is our job."

_Following the tiger had been a simple act of necessity in two ways.
To rid the tiger of the pain it could not remove from itself and to
rid society of the menace the beast had been and would continue to be
until it was destroyed._

With his words to Scott, with that last thought, Bennington shook the
lethargy, the stillness of deep thought that had contained and
enveloped him since the report of this breaking and entering.

Now, as in that dash to the mess hall, he was ready for the fast
sprint, the decisive action.

Before Scott could answer and possibly object, Thornberry had taken
the flashlight from the chief's hand, was fumbling through the open
pane for the lock inside.

"Give me a flashlight, too," Bennington said.

Patrolman Whelton responded.

At the same time, Mosby reversed the grip on the pistol in his right
hand and offered the ivory butt to Bennington.

"What do you think I am, a psychologist?"

Bennington had kept his voice to a whisper, but he had made that
whisper a snarl. He further emphasized that snap in his tone by
pulling out his own pistol, throwing the beam of the flashlight on his
hand, making both the sight and sound of the safety going off clear to
the eyes and ears of those around him.

Then he followed Thornberry into the black cave of the warehouse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before them stretched a long aisle formed by big boxes piled fifteen
feet high. Side aisles branched at ten-foot intervals.

They moved slowly, used their lights carefully, in quick flickers on
and off. Each branching from the main corridor had to be approached
cautiously. Each, when checked by a rapid finger of light, showed only
the sides of boxes marked by stenciled words and the blank walls of
the warehouse.

A flash of light, a few steps forward, another flash, a few more
steps ... until they were halfway down the warehouse.

Bennington saw it first and halted Thornberry with a touch on the arm:
the last row of boxes on the left was outlined by a faint glow of
light.

Together they walked rapidly, quietly, toward the glow. When they
reached the end of the aisle, Bennington tried to take the lead. But
Thornberry deliberately shoved himself ahead of the general and turned
the corner first.

The space from the last row of boxes to the front doors of the
warehouse was big enough for a truck and trailer to maneuver in. The
feeble glow of light came from an electric lantern on a small desk.
Beside the desk, leaning his chair against the warehouse wall, a
palefaced young man sat looking down at his hands. His long fingers
played with a knife.

The shadow of the desk spread across the floor and in that shadow
bulked a large, unmoving blackness. Bennington flicked the beam of his
light on and off quickly. One glimpse was enough. The unmoving
blackness was a middle-aged man in work clothes and boots, lying on
his back, with the slash across the throat standing out clearly.

"Walter."

Thornberry spoke softly, moved slowly, easily toward the young man.

At the sound of his name, Clarens looked up, his face calm and
composed, his posture expressing complete disinterest in the fact that
someone was approaching him.

"Walter: I am Dr. Thornberry. I am a friend of yours. I am here to
help you. You need help. I am here to help you."

As Thornberry spoke, he continued to move forward slowly.

Bennington followed, two strides behind and one to the left of the
psychologist. He kept his point of aim fixed on Walter's face.

"I am your friend. I am here to help you."

"You are my friend?" Walter asked, and there was doubt in his tone.

"You can be sure of that, Walter. I want to help you. I am here to
help you, Walter."

Thornberry, who had stopped when Clarens had spoken, now moved forward
again.

"Put down the knife, Walter. You don't need the knife any more. Put
the knife down and come for a little walk with me. Come out of this
dark place with me. Out of the darkness into the world where you
belong. Let us take a walk together, out of the darkness into the
world where you belong."

Bennington felt his own tense watchfulness relaxing in the smooth flow
of Thornberry's words. Before them, Clarens' disinterest had gradually
become absorbed attention. His hands no longer played with the knife,
but simply held it loosely.

In another minute, he'll put down the knife and come with us,
Bennington decided. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Thornberry
take a plastic squeeze-bottle from his pocket.

Without any gathering of facial or body muscle to signal his
intention, Clarens launched himself from his chair. As he jumped, he
shrilled hoarsely, "Not into the light again!"

Only Thornberry's height saved him; Clarens' leap could not quite
reach the psych-expert's scrawny throat. But the doctor did stumble
backwards, did fall on his back with Clarens on top of him.

The killer's right arm swung back. The edge of the knife blade danced
brightly in the dim light.

Bennington took no chances with fancy shooting. He dropped his point
of aim and his first shot smashed into Clarens' chest, driving the
young man back onto his haunches. The general's second and third shots
were also into the body.

Then before Bennington's inner eye two scenes flashed fleetingly, one
of a darkened garage, the other of an almost-as-dark jungle trail. In
both the figure was a weeping mother above a child's still form.
Deliberately, with three carefully-aimed shots through Clarens' head,
Bennington killed the wounded tiger again.

Out of ingrained habit, he reloaded his pistol before moving forward
to help Thornberry to his feet.

But the psychologist was already standing, was turning toward
Bennington, wild anger on his face, in his voice.

"What did you shoot him for? Why did you kill this poor, misguided
boy?"

Bennington looked at his assistant warden and saw that the man was
deadly serious. Then the general looked at Clarens sprawled
grotesquely on his back, with his shattered head resting against the
dead night watchman's feet, with his right hand still gripping the
knife.

I know seven languages, Bennington thought, with maybe knowing some of
them only well enough to swear in, but right now I don't know the
words to answer this man.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bennington looked at the face reflected in the mirror in Chief Scott's
private bathroom. The face was gray and lined with fatigue, needed a
shave and the bristle of the beard was more white than brown.

His throat was raw from too much smoking, from answering too many
questions, and a long, long day was still ahead.

Judkins was in jail, and glad to be in a solitary cell because he was
handwriting a full confession. The knowledge of what Clarens had done
during his few hours of freedom had scared the hypno-tech into almost
incoherent co-operation.

The chief of Harrisburg's police was showing less signs of wear than
anyone else. Scott was exulting in his position as supervisor of the
city search for Giles, glorying in his position as relayer of the
details of the state search for the errant politician.

Bennington opened the door into Scott's office, meditating gratefully
on one blessing, that the six governors who had agreed on his
appointment had also finally agreed to sleep.

Of course they had all assured him of complete concurrence with his
suggested reforms for Duncannon Prison ... but what else could they
have done?

Mosby was just outside the bathroom door, standing big enough to
insure a half-circle of privacy between the general and the reporters.

"Had a call from Washington, Jim. That Rooney tax mess is getting top
priority."

"Good."

"The AG called, too."

Bennington found himself companioning Mosby's faint smile. "You had a
cigarette in your ashtray?"

"I did, and he's got six good precedents to back us up, Jim. But the
next time he wants us to call him first: my men aren't the only ones
who need practical training."

Bennington did not hold back his laugh and he stretched out his hand.
"Thanks, Mossback."

"Hell, Jim, I owe you the thanks. That was the best training problem
my men ever had, taught 'em more in one night that they can ever learn
until the real stuff starts whistling around."

Bennington glanced over Mosby's shoulder at the place he was heading
for: the hot seat, Chief Scott's desk chair, bright under the TV
spotlights, the center of every camera focus.

"You've got work to do, I know, so where's that Thornberry?" Mosby
growled. "He should be with you."

"Upstairs, asleep. He said that he was only the assistant warden, then
asked Chief Scott for an empty cell and left me."

"Why?"

"It's very simple: he's still not convinced that I had to shoot
Clarens."

Mosby grunted deep disgust, looked over his shoulder toward the hot
seat, looked again at Bennington. "You should have shaved.

"No, wait a minute, I guess not. Just go the way you are and give 'em
hell."

Bennington rubbed his chin and the bristle of his late-night,
early-morning beard crackled crisply.

The problem he had anticipated was now here, as he had known it would
be. And the answer was nowhere, which equally had been a matter of
foreknowledge.

       *       *       *       *       *

"What will I say, General Mosby?" Bennington murmured. "Cue me in. You
were always the best public relations officer either of us ever had."

"Jim, from anyone else--" Mosby started, stopped, grinned. "The
trouble is, you're right.

"But this time we don't need any style, this time all we need is the
truth.

"Tell them why the prison wasn't running right, how the riot happened
and why you are where you are tonight, and what the prisons need to
make them run better...."

Mosby stopped again, and this time was very slow in re-starting.

"When you get there, I don't know, Jim. What _are_ you going to tell
them?"

_I wish I could be sure, Mossback._

_I know I can make that hot seat hotter by stating no one else knows
either, because we've never decided what a prison is for ... society's
protection, a place to put people like Clarens, where they won't
affect the lives of normal folk? A deterrent, a threat, a place to
point to as a warning not to break the law? Or, as Thornberry would
have it, the first step to returning people to normal lives as
functioning members of society again?_

_Dare I say that the only thing certain about prisons is that so far they
haven't worked ... that stone walls, iron bars, conditioning and drugs
that take the reason prisoner, none of these have kept men in ... that
they would always try to escape as long as there was hope, hope of
something better on the outside._

       *       *       *       *       *

As Mosby stepped aside, Bennington considered the reverse of that last
thought.

_Was there an answer here, to ask his fellow-countrymen to face the
immediately, perhaps the forever, impossible, that the only way to
keep a man from hoping and trying to get out, was to build a society
where they never got in?_

Then Bennington remembered Clarens.

_No, let's face facts, that till man is superman, there will always be
people like Clarens, people who will never be redeemed. People, who no
matter how carefully caged or watched, will ever be a potential
threat, if only to their keepers. By what weird accident they came to
life, well, list that among other facts as yet unknown, and consider
only the end result, that there were people whose only pleasure lay in
perpetual destruction._

_Automatically, such people themselves must be destroyed._

He was only vaguely aware of the flash-bulbs popping as he walked to
the chair behind Chief Scott's desk.

_That could be an answer, a new addition to the Decalogue, a new
Commandment specific to the judge giving sentence to a man like
Clarens, an injunction not to jail but to destroy. Simply phrased for
the judge, thou shalt not commit!_

He seated himself and blinked a couple of times, adjusting to the
glare.

_But, beginning with Thornberry, there would be many people who
wouldn't agree, who would never accept such an amendment to the Sacred
Ten, people who never seemed to see that phrase in their newspapers
every time a child was assaulted, "Police are questioning all known
sex offenders."_

Bennington looked thoughtfully around at the men ready to question
him.

He, too, was ready, ready to tell them....

_... Some people are a damn sight better off dead._

       *       *       *       *       *





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