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Authors: Chet Williamson

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Siege of Stone (19 page)

BOOK: Siege of Stone
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"You're right, Liam," said the man. "Better to go down bravely in a hail of gunfire. But don't worry, you won't die today." The man spread the fingers of his outstretched hand, and Liam reached out and grasped it. Then the man turned and proceeded to walk into the wall, right into the frigging wall. Liam gasped, but before he knew what was happening the man had pulled him along so that his hand and then his entire body was entering the painted cement blocks. He opened his mouth to say "
-zis!" but the wall entered it before he could speak. It felt as if someone had slapped every cell in his body with a palm of fire. It went through him even more deeply than when his da had slapped him for being a nancy.

Then the darkness that had claimed him when he'd entered the wall was gone, and bright fluorescence burst upon his aching pupils. Christ, they were in the circle, and two prison officers were coming down upon them with clubs. Liam tried to draw back his arm to defend himself, but the stranger held onto it so that he could not, and before he knew what had happened, one of the officers was swinging hard at his mate, whaling him on the side of the head and then jumping on him when he went down, and swinging the club again until the skull shattered and only wet sounds followed.

Liam followed the stranger, taking him right up to and through the locked door that led into the Loyalist wing of H-block 8. "Hell, no!" Liam roared. "For Christ's sake, not in there!"

"Be a man," his father's voice said, and then the stranger vanished and Liam hit the steel. He was through it in a flash, before the hellish pain could drive him mad, and out the other side.

And there they were in the Loyalist wing, the middle of the fire for an IRA man. Life expectancy was five seconds if the bastards wanted to shoot you, a minute to stab you, and too damn long to think about if they decided to have some fun and beat you to death. And there were three of them now, glaring at him and the stranger as if they'd been priests with bombs.

The three men gave out with cries intended to wake up the entire wing, if not the dead, and then came at Liam and the stranger. But as the UDA, UFF, and LVF pricks came pouring into the hall to stomp his and the stranger's arses, something strange happened, even stranger than what the guard had done. One of the three boyos hurled himself into another one, leaving only the third, a huge, nasty bloke, to come at the stranger, who threw him aside as though he were a bum boy. Then things
got weird.

The Loyalists, dozens of them, who had only had hunger for Republican blood in their eyes, suddenly turned on each other like rabid wolves. Some of them looked surprised to be attacked by their political brothers, but the attackers were like berserkers. Those who had knives were using them, and then the guns came out, dropping the men dead upon the floor.

"Just stay behind me," the stranger said to Liam.

"Wouldn't want you to get hurt." Liam did as ordered, and they made their way down the corridor of bleeding and dying men. None of the men attacked either him or the stranger, but once a stray bullet caught the stranger in the shoulder. Liam saw it rip his shirt and enter his flesh.

But the stranger only laughed and kept walking slowly, as though he were enjoying the slaughter going on around him. Liam had to admit he enjoyed it, too. It was like being in the eye of a hurricane, untouched, as the world toppled into chaos and your enemies fell around you.

In a few more minutes, they had reached the end of the corridor. The stranger looked at Liam, winked broadly, and then went through the wall. Liam followed without even thinking.

Damn, but the bugger was thick. He seemed to feel his brain weeping in agony, because no tears could come from his eyes, which were one with the wall. Just when he thought he was dead, that he and the stone were one forever, he came out into a place where the air was cold on his face and the light was low and soft.

They were outside in the yard, and the high concrete wall lay ahead of them, its top rimmed with razor wire. But they weren't going to have to worry about the top, were they? They'd just go right through the damned wall.

Then Liam heard someone shouting at him to halt, and when the stranger started running, the gunfire began, and bullets started biting into the blacktop, whining off its surface. He thought he was hit, for something burned in his upper left thigh, and he nearly stumbled, but then he felt the pain rush through his body and down his arm to the hand the stranger was holding, and disappear, as though the stranger had absorbed the wound.

They hit the wall at a sprint and went through. This time he scarcely felt it, their speed was so great. They exploded out onto the other side, still running as if the thick wall had never been there at all. Liam thought they might have gone through more, and he later recalled a great silver thicket of razor wire. But the rest of it seemed like even more of a dream.

The hardest part was convincing himself that it was real. Like every prisoner, he'd had fantasies of such a miracle, of some angel from God coming to his cell and taking him out right through the walls or up into the sky and flying over the walls of the Maze, while turning his enemies against each other. It was the classic prisoner's dream. But this time, he was convinced that it was truly happening, even though walls opened and bullets caused no harm.

After what seemed an eternity of running, of shouts and sirens and gunfire and lights that rose and fell, he was sitting in the back of a moving car, the stranger's hand still in his, and finally it was dark and quiet. But then they came to a checkpoint and one of those damned English soldiers, his rifle pointing at them inside the car, was telling them to "Get out! Get out of the car right now and keep your hands where I can see them," and two other soldiers were behind him with guns, and they looked just as panicked and angry.

But then the stranger said something to him, and one of the soldiers behind him shot the first soldier in the back, and then turned and shot the other one as well. Then he just stood there looking at them, while the car drove right through. In the rearview mirror, Liam could see the soldier who had shot the other two just standing there, as though he were waiting for something. Christ, he wouldn't have long to wait.

They drove for what seemed like a long time, and then got out of the car, the stranger finally letting go of his hand. They were out in the country somewhere, far from Belfast, and the stranger and the two men with him went into a small cottage. Liam followed. There was never the suggestion that he wouldn't.

Now that he was free, Liam knew he should be reporting back to his unit as quickly as possible, and begin once more his trade of building death from explosives and timers and fuses. But he also knew that he had to follow this man who could do what angels did, this man who could perform miracles, and learn why he, Liam Riley, out of all the men in the Maze, had been granted this blessing. He knew that he had been doing God's work, but so had all his brothers.

The room into which he was led was quiet and cozy. One of the men built a fire in the fireplace, while the other got him a glass of whisky. Then, when the two of them were alone, the stranger leaned toward him intimately, and told him, with his father's voice, what it was that he wanted him to do.

It was then that Liam Riley knew the price to be paid for miracles, and that it would be a long time, if ever, before he saw the lads of his unit again.

Chapter 21

he plans have changed," Rob Lindsay said into the pay telephone.

"What do you mean?" Colin Mackay said. "I know you got him out—Christ, it's all over the news." He was careful not to mention any names. There should be no reason they would be tapped, but you never knew.

"Yeah, we got him out all right. God, what a bloodbath. But we're not bringing him back."

"Why the hell
, man?"

"Because M is doing things his own way."

"Well, we're doing things
way. Now, you bring that man back here so he can be given instructions!"

"Can't do it. He's gone already. Ordered and—"

Suddenly Colin heard the voice of Mulcifer. "You seem to be upset."

"You're damned right I'm upset! You were supposed to bring that man back here or leave him in a safe house until—"

"He's safe. Not in a safe house, but safe as houses. As your friend was just saying, he has received his orders, and he will lie low until the time comes to carry them out."

orders? You weren't supposed to give him any orders, goddamnit!"

"My friend," Mulcifer said, "you will get what you want, trust me. And you will get it in great quantities. And if you have been sending out your missives as planned, your precious cause will receive full credit. Trust me. If there is one thing with which I am familiar, it is terror. In fact, I've changed the plans a bit more. I'm freeing the prisoners, all right, but they won't be doing anything until one certain day. And then all the rain will come down at once."

"That's what I'd planned—one huge strike."

"We'll have half a dozen huge strikes. A day that will live in infamy. When we return, I'll tell you when that day will be."

Colin's mind was filled with a dozen different emotions, not the least of which was betrayal, not only from this creature for whom perfidy was the norm, but from Rob and Angus, who were like brothers to him. "One question, damn you," he said. "Rob and Angus had their orders, and they think as I do. How did you get them to go along with this?"

"As I said . . . I can be very persuasive. You'll have to excuse us now—we're off to Her Majesty's Prison Maghaberry to free a jolly young sniper on remand. Ta-ta . . ."

The line went dead. Colin set the phone back in the cradle, his teeth clenched. The gall of the bastard, to take over their operation for his own purposes. But then, after all, their purposes were the creature's purposes. They wanted to shed blood and cause terror, with the purpose of making the English Crown and government see all too clearly that the Irish problem would be as nothing compared to what they could expect from Scot patriots.

We are greater than any group. We are everywhere. We are Scotland.

That was how he had signed the letter to 10 Downing Street, the
London Times
, and the BBC, claiming credit for the breakout of Liam Riley. He knew that it was possible that MI5 would get to the Times or the BBC and ask them not to make the story public, so he had also sent the letter to four tabloids as well. British tabloids, with their lack of respect for just about anything you could name, including the government and its MI5 lackeys, made the ideal delivery system. They should be receiving the letters first thing this morning, bearing postmarks of the day before from several different Scottish cities.

Christ, he certainly couldn't fault Mulcifer for the style of the first escape. According to the BBC news, the toll was one freed IRA bomber, two dead prison officers, nine dead Loyalists, two dead checkpoint soldiers, and the raving lunatic who had shot them. Twelve more prisoners and six more officers had also been injured in the melee afterward. All in all, a very profitable night.

And just how was all this accomplished? The government was blaming the IRA for a paramilitary assault on the prison the likes of which had never been seen before. That would change soon enough when Colin's letters were published.

BBC news at noon ran the story, and said that although early reports indicated that the escaped prisoner had gone through no locked gates or doors to make his escape, it was now certain that those gates had been unlocked and locked again behind the prisoner, but who was responsible for opening them was not known. Nor was it known why the Loyalist prisoners had attacked each other when Liam Riley, the escapee, came into their wing with an unidentified man. There was as yet no description of that unknown man, since "every surviving witness described him somewhat differently." The witnesses were still being questioned in the attempt to come up with a composite drawing.

Damned Mulcifer
, Colin thought,
worse than the Shadow when it came to clouding men's minds
. He didn't know what the creature was, but he was glad it was on his side. So far, at least.

At last the reporter mentioned the letters that had been posted the day before, but said only that an "unidentified militant Scottish nationalist group" was claiming responsibility for the break, although officials expressed puzzlement as to why Scottish nationals would be freeing IRA bombers.

That confusion was partially cleared up later in the day when the
ran the full text of Colin's letter. Still, officials stated that even though Scot nationals might have been the liberators, they could not believe that Catholic terrorists would cooperate with them in any way.

BOOK: Siege of Stone
10.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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