Chapter 6

Jason not only opened the hatch in the floor, he hauled it off it's rusting hinges and hurtled it down the corridor.

"Re-lock that, arsehole. Come on Rowan." He lowered himself into the hole and kicked around for some sort of ladder. "I'll have to drop, then help you. The ladder's rotted away."

"If this is below ground, what are the chances of an exit?" Rowan asked, scrambling down the hole after Jason.

"God knows. There has to be some sort of ventilation down here though. All we need is a rusty old shaft to kick a hole through. Ouch! Shit what the hell have you got on your feet? Combat boots?" Jason flinched out of the way of Rowan's 'POD Casuals, for girls on the go!'

"You'd better not drop me." Rowan dangled in mid air, then let go, resulting in Jason acquiring a new abrasion down his cheek from Rowan's belt.

"Do you realise, every injury I have has been inflicted by you?" He grumbled and Rowan sniggered. "Look at the state of me! I have a three inch bruise on the side of my head where you clouted me with the torch, a swollen eyelid where you headbutted me during the same incident, no skin on my face because of your belt, heelmarks all over my head and churned innards where you plugged me into the mains!"

"Ah it's OK. I won't tell anyone." Rowan looked around the cellar. It wasn't an overly big room, which suggested that the cellar as a whole was made up of several rooms. This one housed an ancient boiler that was riddled with rust holes. "Hell it stinks down here." The stale odour of rancid air, mould, and general squalor hung in the air.

"If we get nowhere poking about down here we'll go back up. They can't lock a hole, can they?" Jason nodded to the hatch. "You could be right. It doesn't seem like the type of cellar with an external exit." He walked carefully towards a wooden doorway who's door had long since succumbed to insects.

"OK I hate this." Rowan shuddered. "No exits, I agree. Lets go back up and carry on searching the ceilings."

"Ugh. Look here." Jason was standing next to a wall that ran along three rooms and was squared off into ten inch cubicles. He rubbed at a dulled plate on the front of one of the cubical boxes. "Howard, Albert. Prisoner #99214. Age At Death: 45."

"What are they? Files?" Rowan pulled out one of the boxes and it disintegrated in her hand. She let out a shriek and began jumping around on the spot as a cascade of dust and small bones swirled around her. "Ashes! oh God oh God oh God! Human remains? why were they never claimed or moved when the place was closed? Er ... I don't suppose you could repackage Dawson, Gregory here could you? We can't leave him strewn all over the floor."

"I don't think he'll mind." Jason rolled his eyes and picked up a few small fragments of bone, returning them to their shelf. "Ankle bones."

"Huh? How do you know? Don't be morbid." Rowan shuddered again.

"No, really. They're so hard that they don't cremate." Jason nodded, looking at the name plates.

"Bit of a closet ghoul, I see. Shit Jason there's hundreds of them. All these can't have died naturally while in prison, it's impossible." Rowan's mind jumped back to the notes she'd read, and the torture chamber. "Jason we'll go back up. There's nothing down here to help us. Please?"

"Yeah, no worries." Jason nodded. "Think of the irony, Rowan. You're more scared of the dead ashes down here that you are of the live terrorist up there." He smiled and just didn't make Rowan feel any better at all.

The camera switched from the caskets of remains and onto the faces of Jason and Rowan.

"Hey! Tell them to put that back!" Someone shouted. "Did that say Robeson, Noah? Did it?" The man turned to ask someone behind him. "Put the bloody thing back on the boxes! It's important!" Patrick Adams glanced uncertainly towards the sidestage. "Right! I'm leaving for Slateskill. Noah Robeson was my granddad! He was only lifted for bloody shoplifting! Poor old bugger was senile."

"A march on Slateskill would be very foolish indeed. It's in the middle of nowhere." Adams said loudly.

"So put the bugger back up there so I can check, eh?" The irate man shouted. Adams nodded slightly and the screen was filled with caskets again.

"Shennan. Is that the same Shennans over on LightRidge? I bet it is. None of them are any good." One lady folded her arms.

"Hey my son married a Shennan, you fat hag." Another woman shouted. "Did it say Shennan? I missed it."

"Porter, Gerald. That's him that was done for bothering kids."

"Yes I remember my mother telling me that. His lot tried to say he'd gone away to work. Pfft! Well we know now!"

Stewart, Alan and McManus looked at the screen in the caravan.

"Christ there's going to be bloody riots." Stewart muttered. "Charlton! You'll have to let the Chief contact the station. There's going to be hell on out there." McManus nodded in agreement.

"Not until it's been cleared by Mr Adams." Brian shrugged. "Riots? Do you think? I think they'll all be glued to their screens right now."

"Shit you're a twat." Alan said in disbelief.

"I can't do anything!" Brian objected. "The only man who has any say here is standing on that stage! If I cut the cameras they'll tear that studio to shreds."

"So let us go and secure the damned place!" Alan shouted. "The Station can't act until the Chief tells them to. They'll presume he has this all in hand! Right, you frigging prick!" He stood up. "Phone. Hand it over or I'll break your bloody arm and take it off you." Brian ducked back behind his technicians. "You think I can't take on a gang of geeks?"

"You interfere with that broadcast and you endanger the lives of the staff there. Tell him, McManus." Brian nodded.

"He doesn't need to tell me, I'm not stupid! We need a car here. We need the Chief where he's supposed to damn well be instead of sitting here with you useless arseholes! Any car will do!"

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