The prison is deadly quiet, as if the air itself were holding its breath. Every hallway is draped in shadows and solitude, as if no one dares to move within those walls.
Along one corridor, small sounds leak through the air. A man breathing, a heartbeat, the soft patter of careful footsteps. He looks like a prisoner—but of course, that’s impossible; all the prisoners have been locked up for the night, the guards have seen to that. But there are no guards to notice he is around, no cameras following his motions. There is no one, and so the escaped prisoner continues unimpeded.
Suddenly, he stops. Holds his head, squeezes his eyes shut, as if he can find something there, tearing him apart from the inside. When he opens his eyes, there is fire inside of them. His face contorts in anger, and he is fighting a mental battle of wills. Because a part of him knows, oh yes, he certainly knows. He’s not sure how, but it’s clear to him, clear in his mind, what has happened, and he is going to kill them for it. He’s going to kill them all and he won’t spare a single person.
But wait, calls the other part of his mind. The rational part. The part his friend has opened up for him, that calm, relaxing part that struggles to keep his anger in check. You cannot know for sure. How can you know? You have to check. And if it’s true, if it’s really true, then you have to run. You have to run and make sure everyone else knows, because they’ll try to cover it up, they’ll try to pretend it didn’t happen.
A woman is running towards the prisoner. He ducks down another corridor, but he probably doesn’t need to. She doesn’t notice him. She is in enough distress that he could have been standing directly in her path playing the trumpet and she wouldn’t have noticed. He watches as she stops just a few feet away, and unlocks a door.
There is shouting inside the room she has entered. The escaped prisoner knows what it’s about, he knows why she is upset, the same way he knows what has happened in that room. But that rational, calming part of his brain still doesn’t accept the truth. He needs to see it. He needs to know for certain before he can figure out what to do.
He is a big man, and he should not be able to creep, but he does so with surprising stealth and agility. He creeps over to the door, leans in. And even though a part of him knows what he will see inside, he is still surprised to see it.
He cries out, in rage and anger and disbelief. He does not notice anything or anyone else in the room, all he can see is that truth, that truth he has been trying so hard to convince himself is not the case, that truth which tears at his mind and tortures his soul. He can feel the two parts of his psyche fighting one another for dominance, and he isn’t sure which one will win.
One minute later, the escaped prisoner is dead.
Gil Grissom arrived at the crime scene with Nick Stokes and Warrick Brown in tow. The policeman beside him was talking a mile a minute, trying to get him up to date.
“Prisoner’s name is Samuel Grandon. He’s been here for five years serving a life sentence for triple homicide. According to the warden, the prisoner was caught escaping. When the guards found him, he began to get aggressive, fight back. She assures me that they only shot him in self defense.”
Grissom leaned over the body as he put the rubber gloves on his hand. “How many guards were around when they apprehended him?”
The policeman hesitated. “She didn’t say.”
Nick looked over Grissom’s shoulder. “Must have been posing quite a threat to put five bullets into him.”
Grissom looked up. “None of the guards that I saw had any serious injuries.” He stood up, took a look around. “And considering this appears to be their medical center, I doubt they have anywhere else they could have gone.”
“You said the vic was trying to escape,” Warrick pointed out.
“That was the story, yes,” said the policeman.
“Then why come here?” said Warrick. “Why not make a run for it?”
“For that matter,” continued Grissom, “why were the guards inside the room? The entry wounds are in the front, which implies that he was shot from inside the room as he walked through the door.” He looked back at Warrick. “If he were pursued here, the entry wounds would be in the back. I’m not sure these guards were chasing him at all.” He pointed to the bloodstains on the floor, covered in footprints.
“These footprints are leaving the room. There’s nothing to indicate that guards were pursuing the vic from behind. From the evidence in front of me, it appears the guards were already here.”
“You think he wanted revenge?” Warrick asked. “Came looking for his jailers?”
“If you were a prisoner,” said Grissom, “and you wanted to find a barrage of prison guards, would you automatically think to look in the medical center?”
Warrick said nothing.
Grissom frowned, examining the various beds and medical equipment around the room. “If I were to guess, I’d say he was visiting someone.” He turned back to the police officer. “Was there anyone else in the area when you arrived? Any prisoners receiving medical treatment?”
The policeman shook his head. Grissom considered the information, then turned back to the crime scene. Warrick was examining a bed with leather restraints. “Seems a bit excessive,” he said.
“Probably not,” Grissom replied. “I’m guessing the prison use the restraints for detoxing prisoners who are getting over an addiction.” He paused, then added, “better check for traces of blood, just in case.”
Warrick sighed. “This is a hospital, you know,” he said. “A hospital inside a maximum security prison. There’s going to be blood everywhere.”
“Yes, but a stabbed prisoner probably wouldn’t need to be restrained,” Grissom reasoned.
From outside the room, Nick Stokes gave a yell. Grissom turned around and headed towards him, as Warrick began to spray for signs of blood. Grissom found Nick squatting down, swabbing at the floor with a q-tip. “Looks like someone forgot to clean this up,” Nick said, dropping the q-tip into an evidence bag. Grissom looked at the ground where Nick indicated. There, he could see a splatter of blood that looked like it had been flattened and dragged down towards the end of the corridor.
“I think there’s a second body that got cleaned up before we arrived,” Grissom said. “The only question is where and why.” He looked down the corridor, and spotted another blood spot a little ways away. He turned to Nick, who had spotted it as well, and the two began chasing after the scattered blood.
They had made it all the way out a back entrance to the prison yard before their trail ran cold. Both men looked around for obvious hiding places, or even mounds of freshly turned dirt, but found none. Then Grissom looked directly ahead, at the dumpster, and he knew exactly where the second dead body had been stashed. Nick had clearly worked it out as well.
“In the dumpster?” Nick asked.
“In the dumpster,” Grissom confirmed.
They both got on opposite sides of the dumpster and propped the lid open, but all they found were garbage bags. “Well,” Nick said, “no dead body, no smell of decomp.”
“Check the bags,” Grissom instructed as he began untying the big black garbage bags.
Nick scrunched his nose at the smell, but began going through the bags on his side, untying them and looking through their contents. He was hoping he wouldn’t encounter any severed limbs, but didn’t rule it out as a possibility. When you investigate murders in Las Vegas, you have to be prepared for anything
Out of the corner of his eye, Nick Stokes could see Grissom suddenly freeze, trash bag open in his hands. He didn’t say anything, but his face suddenly turned grave.
Nick ran over to his boss, and found himself looking at the face of a very thin young man in a prison uniform, with pale skin and spiky brown hair. Grissom looked at Nick.
“Guess they thought nobody would miss him if they just threw him out,” Nick said.
“Guess we found who those guards were really guarding,” Grissom replied.