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Through the Necromanteum: Project Far-Reach

Necromanteum: A method to commune with the Unliving and the dead past. Project Far-Reach: is a Top Secret alliance between pragmatic engineers, paranoid military officers, and a physician of the New Age. They dared explore the limits of space/time. They used Death as a gateway.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


Laurance Pearsongreer

    I started writing and illustrating my own story books as a child, but lost the desire one day when an uncle told me to, "Write about what you know. If you don't no nothin' then get out and learn somethin'!" I spent the next three decades traveling, seeing, and experiencing all that I could before I ever wrote a word again. My novels are the result. I'm a philosophical acrobat just settling into writing after a lifetime of travel and experience. I was a Physics major in college, a globe-hopping Avionics specialist-arms repairman-and accountant in a long Army association, a onetime rent-a-cop, and a Bank computer nerd for the last 9 years. If life is a banquet, I think I overate

Reviews

"Pearsongreer seems to have a historian's love of the past and asks the genie for the power to speak to the dead. He bends the laws of physics just enough to put his characters into a truly fascinating universe. Just like many of Michael Crichton's novels, Pearsongreer is able to populate his novel with military, scientific or academic personnel that are wholly unprepared to cope with what they get themselves into."--Johnathan H. Amsbary Assoc Prof Comm Univ. of Alabama "Through the Necromanteum is an exhilarating ride. Readers should be prepare for many things when they pick up Through the Necromanteum. Be prepared to meet many characters, several of them in more than one incarnation. Be prepared to make connections between technology and the paranormal. Be prepared to question the morals and expertise of those in authority. Finally, be prepared to lose a lot of sleep! It's a very powerful book!"

Sally G. Laturi -- Ivy Quill Reviews


"This novel is written in the style of a Stephen King, with the added influence of a Wes Craven. Laurance spends the first part of the book, setting up the series of events and fleshing out the characters for the reader. Then he rolls out the action, not stopping until the very end, leaving you breathless and searching for more. What is incredible about this book is that while you are following the main story, Laurance creates an entirely different story, which is played out at the same time. Then he skillfully interweaves the two until both are one. So skillfully that you don't even see it happening until it does. It is skillfully written and fully entertaining work."

Ken Mason -- author of RILEY-Eye in the Sky
Excerpt

Chapter One

"OLD BIG, BAD Bobby's got the ass-kissing assignment of the year." Sharona ran naked around her cluttered dormitory room, dodging beanbag pillows and just barely avoiding a swipe of Bobby's long, thin hand. "Chauffeur to the stars and big-time politicians." She dove over her twin bed and rolled smack into her study desk. Thwack went the sound of bare ass colliding with varnished wood. "Oo-ouch. Oh, shit. Look. I bruised my itty bitty bottom." She mockingly turned her reddening derriere to Bobby for inspection.

Bobby Petrocik, wearing nothing but his Army dog tags, had been running close behind her. "GERONIMO!" Seeing her well-curved behind spurred him to dive across the bed to grab at it. Momentum dragged much of the bedding with him as he tumbled awkwardly on top of her.

Sharona reeled out an insane giggle and teased him some more. "Bobby, Bobby-don't land on top of a girl that way...unless you really mean it."

A television announcer's smooth, mellow tones boomed out across the darkened dorm room:

"And now, the National News Network presents a Special Live Report. 'Hello, I'm Russ Agnew. The long-awaited opening of the nation's first public Necromanteum is being witnessed in Baltimore, Maryland today. We will momentarily join a live federal sat-com feed of the opening ceremonies within this new building. The taped feed has a one-minute delay at the request of the National Security Agency. The lecture part of the ceremony, held in this building's auditorium, is already in progress..."

A panoramic camera shot followed. The camera panned in on the stout, pale, balding figure of the newsman. He stood calmly in his dark blue pinstripe suit as the camera slowly abandoned him for the scene behind. Its electronic gaze adjusted to encompass a low white building sprawled across a flat section of green land. Save for a few immature saplings, the new construction was a rush, no-frills deal. The exterior of this building was not meant to draw any protests of wastage from an already uneasy electorate.

That electorate was well represented in the teeming crowds held at bay by the riot-trained police just beyond the camera's view. Nevertheless, there where many competing news crews present on the site. Sparkles of reflected sunlight danced maddeningly off their cameras and microphones. The unwanted reflections played continuously across the stark white walls of the building as the camera held its new perspective.

"Sorry, Sharona. I couldn't...I mean, I'm not ready to deal with you again. Not just now." Bobby's voice was a hoarse whisper.

"Despite a bevy of protesters out here today, the clinic opened on time. Everybody from evangelical objectors screaming blasphemy, to atheist groups protesting wasted tax dollars, crowded around the clinic doors. An army of disaffected religious groups jockeyed for position in the crowd's forefront. They were citizens whose religions recognized no afterlife. In particular, some Buddhists amongst them held high the placards they had hastily made to protest the government's folly. The Buddhists banged drums and chanted as loud as they could. All those in the crowd sought the eyes of the cameras. For some groups this was the ultimate photo opportunity. The news crews were assembled from far flung corners of the world to record this historical event..."

"I know exactly what kind of shape you're in, babe. After all, I said it was the shape, and size, of your hands that first attracted me to you."

"Sharona, please." And to think, I was attracted to her brilliance when I met her. Oh boy. When I heard she was tops in my history class, I thought it meant she had a burning intellect, not perpetually hot pants, not that I'm complaining, Lord.

Sharona rolled her slim, wiry body close to his, and as she spoke, began to nibble and lick the tips of his long, thin fingers. "Oh, all right. Watch your silly news show. I'll just have to find something else...to keep me occupied."

Bobby gasped as Sharona directed her attentions elsewhere. But he was determined to hear this news show. He mustered his will and resolved to frustrate her nimble efforts for as long as possible.

"Project director Dr. Jason Coffee was here early this morning to cut the ribbon. Then the doors were flung open to the first one hundred winners of a local raffle for the privilege of being first in line at the new attraction.

Dr. Coffee was the head of the research project that developed this communications chamber. He also made sure that an assortment of prominent clergymen, philosophers and creative artists were included on that development team. Many of those invited refused the offer because they did not believe in the afterlife. However, after a personal letter from the President was delivered to each one...many of the resisters relented. This invitation to participate in the research from the very beginning earned the project their public endorsement, once the safe functioning of the chamber had been confirmed..."

Bobby abruptly sat upright. "Hot damn! Those tight-asses never told me any of this stuff. Now it's on TV for all the world to see!" Bobby leaned forward to see the screen better. "And nobody thought I had a high enough security clearance to get briefed on the new stuff they're researching, either. You know, more stuff like this? But that's typical. They treat me like a bastard child back at that base. Can you believe that crap?" His diatribe ended, he strained forward to turn up the volume of the set.

"Shit." Sharona became flustered because her face had been bumped aside by Bobby's sudden rising. She had been trailing butterfly kisses across his tight abdominal muscles prior to that rude movement. "Stay down, damn it. Let a girl work her magic. Besides, that old doctor can't be any prettier than me."

"You ought to see him, hon. He's a really huge, black guy. Looks something like...a captain I knew once. H-h-he..." Bobby's words were lost in a long moan that escaped from surprised lungs to an unready mouth. "God, what are you doing? Oh, damn! You're gonna kill me with that hungry mou-"

"Shut up and watch TV!" Sharona interrupted, resuming her attack on his nervous system.

Dr. Coffee stood in front of an overhead projector screen diagramming on the transparency. He lectured to an assembly of undetermined composition.

"The pioneering research in the design was carried out at the National Institute of Health. We started with the premise that the human soul/mind/spirit was a coherent field of energy. During life that energy is protected, insulated and contained inside a casing of human flesh. But, after death, the high-frequency soul energy passes through the inert flesh of the dead body.

Then, the freed soul energy escapes to a dimension more compatible with its ultra high vibrations. Early on it was realized that the energy frequency range utilized by the spiritual entities was beyond science's ability to copy. Persistent research discovered a lower range of frequencies, however. That lower range would serve the living mind/soul as an intermediate goal. This is the optimal point to which we can artificially augment and enhance living consciousness. This is where we can bring the living to meet the unliving."

A solitary hand raised from the seated silhouettes positioned in front of the podium. Dr. Coffee paused to recognize the person. "Yes, you have a question?"

"Thank you, Doctor. I'm Tom-"

"Oh, I certainly recognize you, Mr. Bergman. I watch your news show all the time."

"I am flattered, sir. I'm looking for a bit of clarification, though. Didn't you acquire some diaries belonging to a European mystic from the eighteenth century and then use these writings to create this communication chamber?"

"Yes, that's right. But those mundane details are covered in an information packet that will be distributed to you all after the lecture. As for now, bear with me while I elaborate for the TV audience. Yes? Good.

"High amplitude energy harmonics were alternated up and down the frequency scale. They were thrown at the subject in hopes of randomly happening upon the correct sonic resonance. This was done to augment the subject's own natural, that is astral, harmonic pattern. This energy was meant to boost the subject's bio-electromagnetic field. Also called their aura or astral body, this enhanced energy field was pushed up, part-way, towards the infinitely high energy level occupied by the spiritual entities."

Bobby's mind was churning as he lay back on the bed. So that's how all that fancy equipment at the base works. But the brass at the base is doing a lot more with this stuff than just Sunday visits with their dead moms.

"After this was accomplished, any spirit desirous of contacting the subject could choose to voluntarily lower its own frequencies to dovetail with the subject's. The two thus achieved a temporary bridge between them."

Sharona abruptly stopped what she was doing and sat bolt upright. "Mon dieu! Sacre Marie! He sure is confident of himself. Do ya hear that? They have confirmed the existence of God. What balls this guy has! He's fearless. Doesn't he know every godless bastard in the world would lie, cheat and kill to keep that news suppressed? Mon Dieu!"

"Uh, honey lamb, weren't you about to do-"

"NO DAMN IT! I am not about to do anything! Good lord, man. God could be watching us, right now. Look at me. Look at what I'm doing with my godda-oh shit-with my darned life!" She wailed as she flung Bobby's outreaching arms away from her.

"Jesus, Sharona. Your mood swings more often than a pendulum. Does the word bi-polar sound familiar to you?"

Sharona jumped up grabbing the bed sheets. Indignantly, she wrapped herself in the covers and fled into the bathroom. Bobby sat silently until she quickly re-emerged. Now she was dressed in tennis shorts. Her bare breasts were pimpled with goose flesh now that her hot blood had cooled. Tying her jet-black hair back with a white ribbon, she sat down. From a chair across the room she now intently scrutinized the TV set.

Bobby shook his head slightly from side-to-side. It was more a reflex than a comment.

Coffee spoke to the people jovially. He beamed another of his bright smiles as he confidently continued his lecture. "...Those on the other side had anxiously awaited this event. It was destined to occur one day-for the further evolution of the human soul. At least, that is what the departed souls often intimated to our research subjects. Those spirit entities all expressed relief that such technology had finally been re-developed. They told us we were opening the door to a new level of spiritual guidance for the still-evolving races of man. I do notice surprised looks on the faces near me, down here on the front row.

"Your expressions ask how was this technology re-developed? Well, this bit of information was gleaned from hundreds of interviews with the unliving. It seems a similar technology had been employed on other occasions during human history. One instance mentioned, was the Hebrew's construction of the Ark of the Covenant. Based on biblical descriptions, some archaeologists had previously hinted similar things about that lost artifact..."

Bobby, seeing what remained was a discussion of Biblical history, had lost interest in the news. Sharona's reactions worried him. What's going on with her? She's always the wild spirit between the two of us. How come she's suddenly turning into some kind of frightened penitent? The rebellious daughter of a conservative Air Force colonel, Sharona was a dyed-in-the-wool tomboy who relished beating men at everything they did. "Where'd all this religion come from all'a sudden? You wasn't no Sunday school teacher when I met ya," Bobby declared in a parody of his own hillbilly dialect. He had grown out of his original speech pattern many years ago, but he fell into the dialect because in the past it never failed to turn Sharona on.

"Yeah, but I was raised in a very religious home by my grandmother. And cut the farm boy accent. I'm no longer into that sort of mood." Sharona crossed her arms and her ankles sharply. Apparently her libido was completely off-line now. "Grandmere was a pious, old-world woman. Born a French-Catholic, deep inside of Quebec, the old religion was all she ever really knew, so that's what she taught me from the day I was born. Father had Air Force assignments all over the blessed planet. Grandmere took me in while my father was out on assignment. Most of my childhood I lived with her, up in Canada."

"Honey I'm not stupid. I was actually listening when you were telling me all this, weeks ago. Despite the stereotype, all men are not uncaring about what a woman thinks or feels."

Sharona sighed heavily, as her eyes misted with regret, and her voice cracked with emotion. "I'm sorry, Bobby. It's just that, Grandmere was the only mother I've ever had. I loved her, more than breathing." She fell backwards onto the floor. The bedcovers absorbed the fall as she let her arms and legs splay outward. It was as if the emotional effort to recall her feelings had exhausted her. "When she died, I just couldn't believe in anything anymore. Man, if I had known for sure she and God were looking down on me from heaven, I would have lived my life a whole lot different, I swear."

Bobby was not going to accept that. Sharona's just in shock. She's heard some news that's way beyond her ability to deal with right now. "I got plenty of Bible training, too, ya know. Back when I was young, the Bible was the only real book my family owned, that and the almanac." He began to crawl over to her, dragging the rest of the bed covers along with him. He tried to divert her attention from the TV. "I was the thirteenth child in a family of fifteen-didn't I mention that?"

"Oh, yes, I remember. Hey, you've mentioned your family so rarely, how could I not remember?"

"Well, my family had some land passed down, from great-grandparent to grandparent. It was rocky, viney, punked-out land that couldn't support all of my cousins, brothers, sisters and aunts. Daddy told me things were so bad there weren't enough squirrels in the forest to support any more relatives. That was about when I was fifteen. Anyway, my folks had plenty of religion. Oh, how they believed in that Bible. They prayed and wished, and praised the Lord every Sunday. Old folks died of simple fevers 'cause 'We'ens too poor for store bought medicine,' my ma would say. All the while she was sewing another shroud for another funeral. Animals died cause we couldn't pay a proper vet. Still they prayed and delayed. Then the last two kids born, the twins, died of malnutrition before they were a year old."

Finally Sharona was interested in what he was saying. She watched his face intently as she donned a T-shirt. He had not talked of his past very much, as if it were too painful to even recall. "After that, I was sick of all that praying and dying. So I up and left the valley..." Bobby had begun to speak so softly he actually whispered the last remark.

"You traveled and worked as a migrant for three years, picking fruit, onions, tobacco, until you joined the Army. I remember. I was listening every time you spoke about your life, so that's still not news to me, honey."

Bobby turned his face away then. He stared vacantly out the window. "Well, that's why the Army is the only thing I believe in, or am afraid of. I don't believe in that pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die-in-the-sweet-by-and-by crap, and you never did before this either. Admit it."

Sensing the emotional depths this was coming from, Sharona moved close to him laying her head upon his shoulder. So much tension was bound up in his body, he began to shiver, his breathing became shallow and swift. Sharona could feel the bitterness of this childhood memory, poisoning Bobby's whole attitude. "You're right, my dear one. I guess I have overreacted a bit."

Normally taciturn and easygoing when they were alone, Bobby was now visibly agitated. Anger, pain, and hopelessness boiled inside the cauldron of his heart. "Those big, important people have no contact with my kind of reality. Having life too damned easy is their damned problem. Those lucky bastards can afford to live in a fantasy, but I can't!"

Bobby was getting more than a little bit angry. He finally ended up spewing his percolating resentment, as he made an offensive hand gesture, at the figures on the television screen. "Look at all of those scientists, politicians and preachers up there!

"All of 'em are speechifying stuffed shirts! They're just looking to promote a fairytale machine to some gullible old ladies. I betcha most of the idiots who go in to one of those machines, won't see nothin'. And, the rest who do see something, well they just have too damn much imagination!" Bobby abruptly stood up. "Only somebody with no worries in this life would spend so much damn time worrying about the afterlife, ya know. The whole damn world is going down the toilet and these jerks waste time playing peeping tom with paradise!" Bobby, too, was out of the mood to make love, but his mood to express himself was just getting started.

Sharona was atypically silent.

"I got letters from my folks, these last few years," Bobby said. "They're worried sick about the land. The soil has been all worn out. My family's land is dying. Factory garbage is poisoning the water table. Mining is dirtying the air. My god! They can't even make ends meet doing penny-a-pound-harvesting work. All the farmers who need hired men are filled up. Too many men, too little work is the excuse. And there's no work at the big factories for simple farm folk. You need some kinda damn degree just to sweep some company's floors! And those bastards in the government, they're spending millions of bucks to talk to dead people. But they won't spend a dime to change the way they're shittin' on the land. It's the same all over, you know. The jobs men used to take out of desperation don't exist anymore. They've all been farmed out to Mexico, Thailand, hell anywhere they can find a poor bastard willing to work for twenty-five cents an hour!"

"America, land of plenty, is not a reality for anyone anymore Bobby, save the very rich."

Bobby didn't know what to do, except reach over, grab another can of beer from the plastic ring and fume.

"Grandmere raised me on a small farm." Sharona whispered into his ear, kissing the ear lobe ever-so-sweetly. "The problems you saw when you were growing up were not just in the States, ya know. The whole of North America is a single piece, a single living thing. What injures one part affects the other parts. In Canada, we suffered also."

Bobby, caught off guard by that statement, was immediately intrigued. He had always assumed Sharona was raised in the lap of luxury. After all, her father was a colonel in the Air Force. Didn't officer's kids get the best of everything?

"The lumber companies killed our farm. The water was poisoned by chemicals that the lumber mills were bleaching pulpwood with-just to make darned copy paper. It all broke Grandmere's heart. She died as her land had died, poisoned by the same chemicals. From then on I was a military brat, moving from boarding schools in the winter to some backwoods base in the summers, never making any real friends, never being accepted, until you and-"

"Until me and who?" Bobby interrupted her because this pause, in what had been an impassioned memory of her grandmother's sorrow, was just too obvious. What is she getting at? What does she want to tell me?

Sharona took a deep breath. Then she launched herself into a revealing statement, "I have made a few friends here, at college. Some of those people feel strongly about such things. Like-minded young people, just like ourselves."

"Like ourselves? What does that mean?" Bobby, impatient to know what this was all about, prodded her to finish. "I'm getting gray hair here, Sharona!"

"My friends believe in taking action, all right? They want to change the way things are. We all know who's at fault."

Bobby slowly began to shake his head from left to right. He didn't want to hear any of this.

"Hey, my friends really believe in this! They know that common folks working together can sever the tangled vines of bureaucracy that strangle us and prune the swollen limbs of industrial self-interest that block out our light. I've got some uh, booklets here..." she mumbled as she started rummaging through her desk drawer.

Bobby had recognized those lines she had spoken. It was the kind of rhetoric he had heard before. "That's some of that screwy Tree of Life propaganda-ain't it?" he asked accusingly.

"It's not propaganda! The Tree of Life family doesn't do propaganda. This is the truth. This is all about the survival of our planet; this isn't political game playing!"

"That's a bunch of bullshit, Sharona!" Bobby belched. Apparently this was more the beer speaking than his usually civil self. "Those Tree-Lifers are an anti-government bunch of propagandists. The Army warns us about groups like that. Hell, they've even been connected with some of those eco-terrorists!"

Sharona was angry now and let her temper betray her. "We are not ecological terrorists! We-"

"What the hell do you mean, 'we?'" Bobby roared as he sprung to his feet. His half-empty can of beer fell neglected on the bed sheet. Moving sluggishly, he grabbed his faded blue jeans. Forcing the jeans upon rubbery legs, he stood swaying in indignation. "The Army could fry my ass for even associating with Tree-Lifers. Hell, you know that! You were military at least part of your life. You know all the crap they could do to me if they found out."

"They're not gonna find out from me. Don't be such a wussy!" Sharona tried grabbing at his rapidly receding legs. Determinedly she tried to tackle his ankles, but with no success.

"I gotta go...this shit is way too deep for me to be getting into, ya got me Sharona?" Bobby's anger had completely erased his beer buzz, and fear had wound his nerves taut. He reached down to the floor and hauled Sharona up by her arms. "I love you," he said angrily, kissing her hard on the mouth. "But, I gotta get away from you for a while. Hell, right now, I'm so damned turned around I don't know which way is up." Bobby quickly unlocked her dormitory room door and dashed out into the hall. He closed the door with a resounding slam and then Bobby was gone.

"Bobby. Bobby, let me explain everyth-Oh, no." Too late to be heard, Sharona had snatched open the door but could only hear the quickly receding thud of his footfalls. "I'm sorry, Bobby. I never meant to..." Her words, at first shouted, quickly trailed off into a whisper. No one could hear her.

Now a flash flood of rage cascaded down her face and shot down to the ends of her limbs. "How dare you! How-fucking-dare you, you lifer-army asshole! Run away from the truth! Run away just like my father, you anal-retentive tin soldier. I don't need you anymore than I need him. I don't love you and I don't love him!"

She slammed the door angrily, only too late realizing her fingers still clung to the doorjamb. "Shit! Shit-shit-shit!" Sharona began to cry openly. A keening wail, torn directly from her guts, rose up in her throat so forcefully it should have shattered glass. No other sounds could penetrate the curtain of her tears. Anger, regret, and fear played across her features in maddening procession. Her beautiful visage was distorted into a grotesque mask of emotions.

Oblivious to time, Sharona didn't notice how many minutes had passed. Nor did she notice she had fallen to her knees with her forehead pressed firmly against the door. "I've lost him, I know it. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, how could I have been so damned stupid? Barry Ma and the others dared me to bring Bobby into the family and I was dumb enough to try it. Mother of God, I hope I haven't lost him."

It was at that moment a boom-boom-boom exploded against her forehead. Sharona leaped backwards. The pounding seemed about to shatter the hollow wooden door. Hope sent a flash of warmth through her trembling, chilled heart. "Bobby? Oh Bobby!" She leaped to her feet and tore open the door. Stunned by the hall lights after her intense round of tears, she was having trouble focusing her eyes. About to embrace the tall silhouette blocking the brightly lit hall lights, she was stopped short.

A male voice, but not Bobby's, answered her. "Whoa there, sister. It's not Bobby. It's me, Barry. Barry Ma. You look like hell warmed over. Have you been on a bender or somethin'? Jeez, pop a breath mint, babe. Finish getting dressed; I've got Jahmal with me."

Sharona scurried backwards in to the semi-dark room and made a mad dash for the bathroom again.

"Hey, don't get all dressed up on account of me," Jahmal said. A Goliath-sized man, he bent his head low to clear the doorway. "I'm part nudist as well as part anarchist-and I do love French pastry."

"If I thought you really meant that I'd slap you, Jahmal!" Sharona had to shout to be heard through the bathroom door. In a minute, after washing away her tears, she emerged. She looked calmer and more composed. At least, she hoped she was composed enough.

"I've never seen you look so shitty." Barry Ma pushed the bundled bedclothes aside with his foot. Then he crossed over to Sharona's desk and pulled out a chair. "Let me guess. You and your soldier boy had a fight? Maybe 'cause you delayed until two days before the protest to tell him about our little membership drive?"

"Fuck you Barry."

"Oh, Sharona, if only I thought you meant it. But you only fuck for the revolution, don't you?"

"Jealous?"

Jahmal tossed Barry a gold ID bracelet he found on the dresser. Holding up the bracelet Barry paused to read it. Engraved inside was the message Eternally Sharona and Bobby. "No, disappointed. I thought you were asked to pump Petrocik for information, not hump him for fun and personal profit."

"As long as I get the job done, my personal feelings for the man is none of your business."

"It is our business if it shows evidence of you having a neurotic episode." Jahmal aimed this last verbal barb calmly.

"What the hell do you mean by that, Jahmal?" Sharona said. "Practicing medicine without a license again? You're not a psychiatrist yet. You'd have to finish med school first."

Barry grinned. "All right, two point score for Sharona. Your ball, Jahmal."

"I don't need your help, Barry."

"Ever heard of an Electra complex, babe?" Jahmal smiled as the inference began to sink into her mind. "It has something to do with little girls who do boys who are just like dear old Dad."

"That is none of your concern. I got you information about how the base is laid out from the air and when the doctor would arrive for the new technology tests. That bit of treason was all I agreed to get you in the first place."

"But let me speculate a bit more. Did you get Petrocik to call you from the airport, huh? Just as soon as his passenger has arrived? Are we going to be able to launch our demonstration as soon as he arrives on base? Or do we resort to Plan B?"

Sharona was at a loss for glib words now. Unhappily, she would have to disappoint her guests. No student protest would be possible out at Zone R-V#7 tomorrow. She braced herself to tell the Tree Lifers that they would never get any assistance from Bobby Petrocik.