Dark steel pressed cold against Luke’s face. He reached up and felt dried blood under one eye. Life in here was getting harder by the day, and Carter kept pressing him to join the gang. The first days had been physically hard. The beatings in the showers by the inmates, and subsequent beatings from the guards had kept his mind occupied, but now the stale reality was setting in like water creeping through soil. The fights were now a daily routine, but the boredom would never stop. His mind, once rebellious and wild, had slowly eroded to the docile person lying on the dirty concrete floor. Counting the minutes, Luke remembered life on the outside. The leather seats of the Mercedes as he cruised under the palm on Sunset. Shadows flickering across the dash with each passing streetlight. To survive in here, he had to become detached from that life, and it seemed unreal to him now. Like an extinguished candle that no longer illuminated the endless corridors of his psyche. Above him, the springs of the cot creaked as Carter rolled in his sleep. It reminded Luke of the sound of Sailing. The mast slowly, hypnotically swaying back and forth. From starboard to port. “Like a siren” he thought. “But instead of driving him to his deep sea grave, the noise was reassuring. He thought of gulls floating above the sand. Of marauders secretive and paranoid. The battered wooden deck soaked with the blood of thousands. The sweat of the crew before a mutiny. This day had been approaching for a long time now. He knew it was inevitable, and that’s what gave him the edge. Carter’s fear of upsetting the carefully maintained political balance had restricted him from actually carrying out the murder. He never really expected it to come to this, and there was good reason to. It never had. Given Carter’s size and authority in the prison, most had bent like willows under his unrelenting command. But Luke had nothing to lose. Were they going to take away the small cramped cell he lived in? What about the undercooked food spit in by other inmates he was forced to eat daily? Slowly, and with a hunter’s breath, he slipped out from beneath the rusty cot to examine the man asleep before him. Carter would have made a vicious business man on the outside. He was an aggressive carnivore, and threw his weight around well. Luke silently took the blade from his own shoe and felt the tip with his thumb. It was small and would probably get messy, but in here nothing was perfect. Crouching beside the man, Luke caught a glimmer from the gold cross the man wore around his neck. Luke wished he could sell it in the lunchroom after the job was done, but he could not have any evidence linking him to the act, or his own life would be worth less than the carton of cigarettes he could get for it. Leaning forward now, he could feel the hot troubled breath in his nostrils. Grasping a pillow in his left hand, he tightened his grip on the knife and prepared himself for the murder. Swiftly he plunged the knife deep into Carter’s neck. He could barely breathe himself from the adrenaline. The man awoke with a sharp jerk that almost dislodged the knife. Keeping the pillow buried in Carter’s face, the twisted the knife and slashed back away from the body. The pillow soon became soaked in deep red blood, and Carter’s screams bubbled through it as if he were drowning instead. For a moment, Luke considered taking the man’s scalp as his ancestors had done to countless white men before himself. This fleeting thought was interrupted by flashlight beams cutting across the bars of the cell. The guards rushed in shouting and arousing the other prisoners on each side. Luke Carter felt the butt of a shotgun smashed into his temple, and he fell. The fighting side of him was already beginning to fade, and the light went out of his eyes.