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No Real Escape

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No Real Escape


Lloyd had shot Glen Bateman last night. Then he'd spent hours arranging the whole show that would see the other two Free Zoners dead. It would be big. And nasty. But Flagg had something to prove. He was losing control, even Flagg himself admitted it.


Thinking back, it might have started sometime before the Judge and Dayna and that feeb, Tom Cullen, came to Vegas. But that was when Lloyd finally figured out that things was getting frayed around the edges, things wasn't going like they was supposed to. Thing was, Lloyd saw it, maybe the first one in Vegas to see it, and he couldn't do shit about it. A lot of the others were talking about leaving, escaping even, and Lloyd knew he couldn't. He was Flagg's right hand man, and he owed Flagg. Nobody else had thought about letting prisoners out of the jails. Lloyd lived through Capt. Trips, but he was as much as dead from starving if Flagg hadn't showed up.


That Glen Bateman had asked why Lloyd was following Flagg, and Lloyd had told him it was because he owed Flagg, and Flagg was the one that looked out for Lloyd better 'n anyone ever had. Then Bateman had started laughing and kept telling Lloyd to shoot Flagg and save them all kinds of bloodshed and death. And Flagg was standing there, looking all calm and….lordly…even in them jeans and scruffy boots. And Flagg had said, "Shoot one of us anyhow, Lloyd."[1]


No choice then, Lloyd had shot Bateman three times, then he emptied the gun into the already dead man's body. Now he sat alone, smoking, wishing he could get drunk, and thinking. That was always bad in his position. Thinking never did you no good.


Whitney and some of the others were planning on leaving tomorrow, right after the big show that was taking place in front of the MGM Grand. They'd invited Lloyd to come with, even with his extra connection with Flagg. He wouldn't—couldn't leave. He wasn't as crazy as Flagg, but he had still done his share of bad things in his life. Thing is, he didn't always mean them. It was his plain dumbness that caused a lot of his problems. That, and the way no one ever really wanted to give him chance. He really loved that rabbit as a kid, and then he just flat out forgot to feed it. He hadn't meant to starve it, it just happened.


And then Poke. Damn, Poke was a crazy mother. He made up that stupid word for killing people. 'Pokerized' That's what Poke did to people, pokerized them. Out of them six people that died on that last run before he landed in jail, Poke had killed five. Even Lloyd's lawyer had thought that Poke had sort of forced Lloyd into going along with him. Lloyd wasn't really bad. Just scared and confused.


"Oh hell." Lloyd yelled and threw his empty beer bottle across the room causing it to splatter into a bunch of little pieces when it hit the wall. Lloyd wasn't scared or confused. He was stoned himself. And he thought it was damn funny when them people got pokerized. He was scared of Flagg, but he knew he belonged there. He was not a good guy. He was as evil and crazy as the rest of them. Evil. Now who the HELL thought of themselves as evil? That damn Glen Bateman had made him think too much.


After Poke and Capt. Trips, Flagg had come along. Lloyd believed Flagg at first. They were cleaning things up. Nothing stronger than a beer. No drug abuse. No junkies. No crime, really. And Lloyd was number one on the totem pole. What's more, he was good at what he was doing. Running interference for Flagg. And it was all going great until Flagg started to lose it. He'd kept secrets from Lloyd. He'd let Trashcan Man run wild. He'd missed catching that feeb, Tom Cullen—hadn't even KNOWN about him, in fact. How could Flagg had missed that? And then Flagg had gotten them boys in Idaho so scared that they'd fucked up and killed the Judge. And he hadn't told Lloyd about Dayna until it was too late too. Flagg had known from the day she arrived that she was a spy, but hadn't bothered to tell Lloyd.


Lloyd had wanted to kill her himself, and if he'd known that Flagg was going to actually mess it up, kill her without finding out about the third spy, then he might have anyway. Hell, maybe he could have gotten Dayna to give up the information. She must have known. But no. Flagg had messed her up so good it still made Lloyd a little sick to his stomach when he pictured it. He'd had to cart that bloody mess out and burn it himself. That was one time—the only time he'd ever regretted seeing the results of Flagg's way of pokerizing someone. He wished he'd of made Dayna aware of how dangerous Flagg really was, made her leave or tell him everything, then he could have told Flagg.


He lit another cigarette and opened a third beer. He ought to get to sleep. But his mind kept working. Hell, they coulda had Tom Cullen if Flagg had told him about Nick Andros and that damn red list! That's when Lloyd started to feel vulnerable. He hadn't before, even though he'd seen Flagg do some terrible things to people who were supposedly loyal to Flagg's cause. But when he found out that Flagg hadn't given him all the information he needed, well, that was a surprise. And that whole business with Mrs. Flagg. That was just downright creepy. Poor lady. She was fucked in the head bad. But she still had sense enough to kill herself. Flagg couldn't see that coming either. Or stop it.


It was starting to become clear to Lloyd that there was no real escape from Flagg unless he killed you or you killed yourself. Hopefully, this was hell on earth and Lloyd might not have to live eternally with Flagg and all of his own evilness. That was another thing Glen Bateman had said. Called him Beelzebub. Lloyd knew that Flagg was dark, spoke for the dark side. But nobody had ever said it out loud. Beelzebub. Satan.


He spoke to the empty room. "Beelzebub. Satan. Flagg." Yep, they all echoed low in the room, and conjured up the same dark scenes. Lloyd stubbed out the cigarette and downed the last of his beer, then dropped into bed.




The next morning dawned hot and clear, perfect Vegas weather. Flagg had Larry and Ralph cuffed up to those machines, and prepared to start pulling them apart when Trash drove up with that damn bomb. Lloyd would have laughed if it hadn't been so serious. A bomb? Where in the hell did that crazy mother fucker get it? And Flagg was terrified. Dark man turned pale. And whining at Lloyd to make Trash take the bomb away. And Trash just kept repeating, "The big fire, my life for you…"[2]


Then everything went into slow motion. The lightning, it actually did look like a hand. And it touched the bomb. Lloyd was only aware of a few fleeting thoughts as he died. Free. I'm free of Flagg. Maybe I can go to heaven. Maybe I'll see that rabbit there. Free.





[1] This is a direct quote from The Stand by Stephen King, p. 1057

[2] Summarized from The Stand by Stephen King