Magnuson, a ruthless killer, is faced with approaching death by lethal injection. Escape from Death Row is almost impossible. His only chance lies in Gillian Patterson, the new prison doctor. He can see her weakness, and plans to exploit it.
It is clear that life has not been easy for her. He has seen women in that state before and has used and abused them as he chose. This one is no different. He plans to get what he wants from her.
The first incident is just a warning, something to shake her up. She comes home to an apartment that had been ransacked. The next day at work she is shaken and trembling. No one else knows what the problem is and she does not want the warden to think she is a complainer and does not share the incident with anyone else. Only Magnuson seems to understands and is sympathetic. Because of the state she is in she sees Magnuson’s sympathy as proof of his sensitive nature. Other incidents follow. Now the incidents are violent, each more than the one before. Not only is Magnuson on her side but he sends guards, his own men who want him freed, to look after her at night. She clings to him in desperation, not realising that he is the force behind every attack. To let him die is out of the question. Being with him is the one safe place in a dangerous world.
Beloved Childe is a rehabilitation contractor to the prison. She can see that something is happening to this woman, but Gillian is trying to face the world bravely, desperate not to show how frightened she is.
An evening with the prison guards as they are receiving their annual awards does not help. Teasing from guards at the other tables and the warden introducing his wife to both women is torture. Magnuson has told her that the attacks are caused by the all-male prison guards, and only he can protect her. While Beloved returns the men’s jokes, Gillian shrinks.
A gun is smuggled into the prison for him, but it is only to threaten, not to kill, he tells Gillian. By the time the night of the escape comes round she is afraid to help him, but more afraid not to.
In our next musing we will take the story’s development further.