Inert

 

Nikolai has always been a very unpredictable man. Today, he sat on the top bunk in his two-person cell; in Oakdale 2 federal prison for immigration. His cellmate lay on the bottom bunk, drenched with sweat. Nikolai had his headset playing the news, wondering what was happening in the free world. Every radio station spoke of riots, looting, and pure chaos.

 

It was two o'clock in the morning, and all the inmates were yelling from their cells. Mostly they all spoke in Spanish. Nikolai blocked out the voices and focused on what he was hearing from the earphone radio he wore. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Folks were dying in their sleep and, somehow, waking up crazed.

 

Then, he heard something that startled him. He listened to the man on the radio say something about the bites. They were causing people to lose their minds. Nikolai stood and looked at his cellmate, who lay stiff in bulk, with his sheets covering his entire body. "Hey, Pat?". Nikolai called out, but he didn't receive an answer. "Pat, wake up." He thought about the bite that Pat received just a few hours ago. Nikolai reached over and killed back the sheets from Pat's face.

 

"Holy..." Nikolai gasped. Pat looked dead. Blood was dried around his mouth and nose. Nikolai thought of all the symptoms the man on the radio mentioned. Pat had the bite. He remembered Pat complaining that the bite was itching. He had grown a fever and suddenly a violent cough. Then, he started to spot blood in between his coughs. Not long after, he was too weak to stand. Nikolai called for an officer, but when the officer came, he told him there was nothing he could do now.

 

There were inmates all over the prison in the same condition.

Nikolai pulled the sheet down further to look at Pat's shoulder teeth marks. He didn't understand how it was only hours old, but it already seemed so old and infected. Then, a scream came from one of the other inmate cells. It was more like a cry, a shriek full of pain. Nikolai jolted over to the entrance of his cell. There were more screams and shouts, and he could tell by the sounds that inmates were fighting inside their cells. A lot of the yelling back and forth stopped as the inmates became curious about all of the new commotion.

 

Nikolai looked at the cells across from him, upstairs and downstairs on his level. All of the lights were on inside each cell. After a few seconds, one of the correctional officers came running into the unit. He fell to the floor with a hand covering a bloody wound on the neck. Nikolai could see the fear on the officer's face as he scrambled to his feet. Another officer came running in behind the first.

"Get up, hurry!" Yelled the second officer. He helped the first officer to his feet just as a third officer came running inside the unit with his arms flinging around as he chased the two officers up the steps in the unit's center.

 

Inmates yelled to be released. Some just watched while others tried kicking the doors down. Although they knew it was impossible. Nikolai watched the officers run from crazed men behind them. He noticed two inmates inside in a brawl in the cell straight ahead of his own. It made him think of Pat. Nikolai thought, 'Maybe I should use his sheets to tie him down, just in case he decided to go crazy.'

 

When Nikolai turned to Pat, he was still stiff in the bunk. Nikolai walked over to Pat, ignoring all the loudness outside his cell. He pulled the sheet from covering Pat. Nikolai felt that the sheets were wet and nasty feeling. So, he tossed them to the side, onto the floor. He grabbed one of his sheets from the top bunk. He took one of the orange shaving razors given to the inmates each week and broke it to remove the small blade. He used the knife to cut strips out of the sheet.

 

There was a loud thump against the floor right outside his cell. The inmates all seemed to grow more silent. Not entirely, but more than they'd been all night. He hurried to his cell door and noticed two bodies lying on the floor. He figured they must have come over the guardrail from above. The third officer slowly started to walk down from the tier up above.

 

Suddenly, the two who allegedly came over the rail started to move. The officer on the stairs froze, looking at them climb to their feet. The officer with the injury to his shoulder was one of the two, and now, he seemed to be just as crazed as the other who had been chasing them. They spotted the officer on the stairs, and they charged immediately. The officer turned and sped back up the stairs, fumbling with the keys. He needed somewhere to go. He knew that he couldn't outrun the two of them.

 

He stopped at a cell and stuck the key in as they neared him. It was the wrong key. He tried another, and the lock clicked. The guard swung the steel door open and hurried inside. There was no handle on the inside of the door, but there was a small string that the inmates would use to tie on and use as a handle door for pulling them shut. The guard found the line quickly and pulled the door shut just as the first crazy officer made his way to the cell.

 

He threw himself against the door. Then, the second crazed man did the same. The inmate in the cell was alone before the officer entered. He backed away from the door until the back of his legs hit the bottom bunk. The officer pulled the rope as hard and as quickly as he could. The two ravenous men on the outside never grabbed for the handle that was on their side. They both just smashed into the door repeatedly.

 

After almost a minute passed when the smashing stopped, other inmates yelling from their cells caught the attention of the two deranged men.

 

Nikolai watched the two men run in different directions. One went out of view, and the other stopped just a few cells down and began smashing his head against a cell door that he previously heard an inmate shouting from.

 

Nikolai remembered the torn sheet in his hand and decided to waste no more time. He had to tie Pat down quickly. He turned to Pat and was knocked back into the cell door. Nikolai fell, and Pat jumped on top of him. Nikolai grabbed Pat by the throat with one hand and punched him in the face with the other so that he could hold the torn sheet.

 

Pat snarled and grabbed at Nikolai's shirt. He punched Pat in the head again, but it had no effect. He left a leg and wedged it between Pat and himself. He kicked hard, pushing Pat back. Nikolai placed a hand on the wall and his back to the door. Then, he pushed himself up to his feet. He was halfway up when Pat was on him again.

 

He tried grabbing his throat again, but his hand slipped and went past his throat, and Pat snapped at Nikolai's arm. He pulled back just in time. Pat's teeth caught hold of the sleeve of Nikolai's grey sweatshirt. Patrick shook and tugged at the sleeve, trying to rip it with his teeth.

 

Nikolai grabbed Pat's sweaty, nasty hair with his other hand, still holding onto the ripped sheet, but not by choice anymore. He just never took the time to release it. He snatched his other arm away from Pat, ripping his shirt from his teeth. He used the grip of his hair to slam Pat's head into the wall over the steel sink. He slammed his head into the wall again then, yet again. Blood splattered the wall from Pat's head, but Pat didn't seem affected by the damage. He slammed his head down onto the steel sink.

 

Then, he shoved Pat away. Pat fell to the floor but jumped up fast and sped towards Nikolai. He swung a jab, jab, cross, hook, and Pat dropped, then sprung back up just as quickly. He kicked Pat's shin, and Pat tripped forwards as his leg flew back. Nikolai swung a stiff hook and sent Pat back to the floor hard. He stomped twice on the back of his head, smashing Pat's forehead into the floor.

Blood marked the spot. Nikolai backed toward the door as Pat stumbled and climbed to his feet. Once Pat was up on one knee, Nikolai delivered a flying knee across his face, and Pat twisted around as blood spewed from his mouth; he hit the floor once again.

 

Nikolai stopped and dug his left hand into the toilet bowl drain. His fingers searched the drain walls as Pat lifted from the floor and turned his attention to Nikolai, who slid his fingertips over the magnetic handle of the prison-made knife he kept inside the steel toilet. Pat was back in attack mode as Nikolai struggled to pull out the knife with one hand and held Pat by the throat with the other. Pat grabbed Nikolai's sweatshirt to pull him in closer, but Nikolai was strong enough to hold him off.

 

His soaking wet hand arose from the bowl. He swung, knife in hand, connected to the ribs, ribs, and neck, then he held the knife up, flipping it, and then it came down and jabbed into Pat's face. The blade was stuck inside his face. Nikolai pulled, but it wouldn't budge. Pat continued to fight with the very same momentum. He was pulling and rigging at Nikolai's shirt while chomping at the air.

 

Nikolai released the handle of the blade and grabbed at the stab wound in Pat's throat. He stuck his fingers inside as deep as possible and pulled at it to rip out as much of his throat as possible. But, no matter how much he tugged and pulled, it had no effect. Nikolai grabbed a handful of Pat's hair with the hand that he previously used to tear at his throat and pushed Pat back onto the floor. He quickly mounted him and used both hands to slam his head back into the floor, again and again. Blood leaked from Pat's skull until Pat's body went limp.

 

He sat there, looking over Pat for a brief moment before he noticed the noise on the outside of his cell door. He approached the steel door and looked through the small caged window. Inmate, we're out, running wild. Fighting, standing, and some were eating others. Nikolai looked around.

 

Someone somewhere was opening cells and letting inmates out.

In that instant, a man jumped in front of Nikolai's cell, looking into his window. "Nik!" The man yelled.

 

"Vlad! Get my cell open!" Nikolai ordered his friend. Vlad ran off without saying another word. Seeing the action outside his cell, Nikolai turned back to Pat and grabbed the knife handle with two hands. He placed a foot on Patrick's forehead and yanked at the knife. After the third try, the blade was recovered.

 

He heard a bang at the cell door, "Nikolai!" Someone yelled.

 

He looked over, "Cherenkov!" He sped over to the door, holding the bloody knife. "Where's Vladimir? Get me out of here."

 

Cherenkov looked over to his left. "He's coming now! He's got the keys!" Cherenkov looked at the blood on Nikolai's shirt and asked, "What happened to Pat?"

 

"Move!" Vlad yelled out as he shoved Cherenkov out of the way before Nikolai could answer. As Vlad stuck the key into the door, someone attacked Cherenkov from behind.

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