Beep. Beep. Beep. The timer on my watch continued to buzz as I slowly woke from slumber. What time is it? My watch displayed 3:00 a.m. Fuck. It’s too early, and I’m too old. I stretched before standing. It was time to enter the housing units and check on the inmates. Zombies more, or less. Most criminals enjoy some form of controlled substance, specifically methamphetamine or heroin. The ongoing joke is the inmates pumped themselves with so much drugs that they’ll never die. They’re irradiated.
I keyed into the first door, which lead me into the sally port of Level Two (2). Sally ports are a small space between secured areas. Doors separate the secured areas, only one door is open at a time. The door shut loudly behind me. The door which leads into 2 was a sliding door. That door is controlled by an operator in another part of the facility. I radioed the operator, “Level Control, going into 2.” Silence. I tapped my foot impatiently and repeated the transmission. Still nothing. What the fuck? I radioed again, “Level Control.”
My radio crackled to life, “Go ahead.” The operator was probably watching cat videos on social media.
“I’m going into 2.” There was another moment of silence before the door began to slide open. Wrrrrrrrr. The door crashed loudly as it met the end of its track, announcing my presence. I walked into 2.
Somewhere along the way, society has deemed it important that inmates are doing well while in custody. So, my job is to make sure each inmate in the facility is alive and well. If I miss my check and an inmate dies, I will be held liable. That’s really when people care. The death of an inmate due to supposed negligence. The pretty word for this action is deliberate indifference. Lawyers love that word when it comes to civil action. So…here I am, checking on inmates, that nobody cares about because they’re alive, at Three O’ Clock in the morning.
Part of my inmate check is to look into each cell and insure the inmates are alive. Each cell door has a window I can look through, and there is a light that’s on inside the cell. The light is locked in a steel box, so inmates cannot turn it off. Although, the inmates can dim the light. Lights are mounted head level on the cell wall.
I looked into a cell and observed the cell light was covered with various items. That is a facility violation, as the articles hinder me during my observation of the inmates, and it is a potential fire hazard. Also, I instructed this particular inmate on a previous check to uncover their cell light. My temper flared as I observed the violation.
I keyed open the cell and walked in. “When I said to take your shit off your light…” I swiped my hand along the top of the box, sending all of the items into the air, “…I fucking meant it.” Light from the uncovered box now illuminated the cell. The inmate had stirred when I entered the cell, but know the inmate was moving rapidly and threw their covers off out of frustration. “You better stay in that fucking bed.” I was pointing at the inmate. I had a bladed stance, I was prepared to fight the inmate. “This is your second warning, I see shit on your light again, I’m moving you to the Hole.” The inmate remained in their bed, staring at me with black, unblinking eyes. The inmate quietly muttered under its breath. I exited the cell with the inmate secured inside and continued my check with other inmates.
I checked on all inmates in 2 and observed they were not under duress. I was about to exit 2 when I heard an inmate call to me, “Officer.” The voice came from cell #21. I remembered an inmate had died in 21 a few weeks ago.
“What?” I responded.
“No. I’m like a million feet away from you, I’m not walking back.” It was more like thirty feet, but I wasn’t going to pander to the inmate.
“Please. My cellmate is sick.”
“I just looked inside your cell. Your cellmate is fine. If he is feeling under the weather, have him fill out a medical slip. I’ll grab it on the next check. See you in hour.” I stepped into the sally port. The Sliding door jerked back to life and closed behind me. I opened the second door and went to my workstation. Aww yes. Sleep once again. I kicked my feet up onto my desk and went back to sleep.
Boom. Boom. Boom. Screams for help awoke me. They came from the housing Unit. Ugh. Now what. I prepared to enter the housing unit and radioed the operator, “Level Control.” No response. Fucking really? I repeated my transmission as I opened the sally port door.
“There’s screaming in 2. I’m in the sally awaiting entry. What cell is it coming from?” The operators have the ability to listen into cells and hear what’s happening.
“The screams are coming from cell #21.” The sliding door opened and I entered 2. Sounds serious. The screams filled the housing unit. The cell door was being struck repeatedly. Boom. Boom. Boom. I ran to 21 and looked inside the cell.
I observed two inmates in 21. One inmate was being chased by the other inmate. “I need additional officers to Level 2, Cell #21.” There was too much going on inside the cell, it was unsafe for me to intervene by myself. All I could do was watch. I ordered the inmates to lay on the floor. Both inmates ignored me. The supposed victim was the inmate that had called to me earlier. The victim screamed loudly for help, attempting to push the supposed suspect away. “Help me! Help me!” The victim screamed. I noticed the suspect was a large person. A fucking giant. The suspect seemed to be drooling, had labored breaths, but wasn’t fatigued. It growled at the victim. The victim hit their head against the cell light and was bleeding profusely. I knew those were too low. The suspect was aroused by the blood and fought harder. I observed the suspect grab onto the inmate’s shirt and tear it free from its body. The victim’s chest was exposed. What is going on? I was confused by the suspect’s behavior. The inmates continued to fight with each other, the fatigue from the victim was apparent.
I heard the clatter of gear as two responding officers entered the housing unit. Where is everyone? I informed the officers there was a physical altercation inside 21. The officers looked inside the cell. They quivered at the size of the attacking inmate. The victim continued to scream. Wounds on the victim’s wrists were noticeable. The cell was trashed. Books, paperwork, and other miscellaneous items were scattered across the floor of 21. The victim, now covered in blood from the headwound, continued to dodge the suspect. It was clumsy though, the items on the floor caused the inmate to slip, not to mention all of the blood. Three officers were not enough, but we were running out of time.
The food port of 21 was keyed open. Food ports are a flap on the outside of the door, which can be opened by key, to slide food trays into the cell. Food ports are used to prevent officers from completely opening a cell door. “Inmates, lay on the floor or you will be sprayed.” An officer withdrew a can of pepper spray from their belt. The order was given a second time. The inmates continued to fight.
“Don’t! Stop!” The victim screamed. Whoosh. The officer expelled the entire can of pepper spray into the cell. The officer’s intent was to incapacitate both inmates prior to opening 21. The spray misted, causing a foggy appearance inside the cell. All officers watched in horror as the suspect was unaffected by the spray. The victim coughed profusely from the spray. Eyes slammed shut, mucous poured from the victim’s nose. The victim vomited all over the suspect. The suspect clawed at the victim in a frenzy. The victim gave a weak push, before being pinned against the cell wall by the suspect. The victim gasped for help before the suspect bit the victim’s neck, pulling away with a chunk of flesh. Blood spurted out of the wound. The spurts covered the cell walls, floor and cell door with blood. I watched the victim’s hand repeatedly clench into a fist. It rotated back and forth, attempting to be freed from the suspect. The hand slowed and became limp as the victim drooped to the floor. The spurt had slowed, but was still flowing from the victim’s neck. The suspect took a second bite. Oh shit, it’s a zombie! We entered 21.
I choked on the pepper spray, eyes streaming with tears. It irritated my eyes, nose and lungs. I couldn’t breathe. My senses were overwhelmed by the pepper spray. I also smelled hints of iron and bile before my nose filled with mucous. My radio crackled from transmissions, but I couldn’t hear them. The other officers were also coughing from the spray. The stinging from the pepper spray was unbelievable. The other officers and I attempted to pull the zombie away from the victim. However, the zombie maintained its hold on the victim. An officer struck it on the forearm with a steel baton. I watched the forearm fold awkwardly as the bones broke. The zombie was unfazed by the injury. My boots lost traction as they slipped from blood on the floor. Blood splashed onto my pantlegs. The zombie let go of the victim. I lost my balance as we attempted to pull the zombie out of the cell. I fell on my side, my uniform absorbed the blood, soaking my side. The zombie fell with me. We were dragged out of 21. I had the zombie’s attention.
The zombie had my arm. Its grip was powerful. The zombie drooled all over me. My radio transmitted again, but I couldn’t understand it. Flight or Fight mode had taken over. I lost my peripheral vision. It was like I were looking down a tunnel. I felt weak. I struck the zombie repeatedly with my free hand. Its nose folded from the strikes. Blood slowly fell from its nose and onto my shirt. I heard an officer cry for help, but their voice was faint. Another officer struck the zombie with their baton. I pushed under the zombie’s jaw, causing its neck to arch backward. The zombie overcame my efforts. The zombie snapped at my fingers as it came closer to biting me. I had lost the battle. I felt the zombie's breath on my neck.
The officer with the baton teed off on the on the zombie’s head. The baton strike connected at an upward angle. The blow folded the skullcap over to one side, brain matter flew into the air, like confetti. The zombie’s eyes rolled into the back of its head. The zombie convulsed violently as I pushed it away from me. Fluid and blood flowed from the zombie’s head and fell onto my uniform. I was a mess. It seemed to be minutes before the zombie became still.
I sat in a daze, staring at the body that was before me. My arm was bruised due to the zombie grabbing me. It hurt to move my arm. Another officer wept from the event. Where was everybody? No other deputies had responded to our call for help.
My radio crackled, and I was able to hear it. “Officer down Level 3. Officer down Level 1. Inmates are involved.” I wept as I stood up. Apparently, there were zombie attacks all throughout the facility, and the transmissions for help were given during our altercation. I was entangled in fear. Could I do this again? The other officers ran out of 2. I babied my arm, it was swollen. I withdrew my baton and followed the officers to the sally port. We made a ruckus. I looked back and observed the victim inside 21 turning its head, looking in our direction, with gray eyes. The sliding door closed behind us with a loud bang. We carried on, running into other housing units, helping out wherever we could.
#fiction #writing #custody #death #thriller #suspense #zombie