This previously released short story will be featured in installments over the next few weeks in celebration of the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour. The story features characters from my Zombie Lockup Series. Reading this story will not ruin the series for anyone. Check out the newest offering, Caged 3, available on Amazon. Grip the prison bars and enjoy…Caged Barbarians.
Caged Barbarians – Part 2
He expected Warden Gorgon to pull a stunt. And the Warden didn’t let him down.
Jack found himself staring down his opponent inside the cage. The man, or what used to be considered a man, was Crawford. He was the number two man behind Muncie in the prison guard pecking order. A tall man with a flat top buzz cut, which looked more ridiculous on the head of a zombie.
Warden Gorgon had broken the news to Jack, personally. He informed Jack that Swede lost the battle and had been converted into a zombie. Gorgon intimated that Swede would fit in nicely with his army of zombie protectors. But all Jack could see was vengeance. He choked down the tears and the rage that swelled within his chest. Jack swore he’d avenge Swede’s death. The Warden had laughed in his face. Then told Jack he’d get his chance. He would be up next for the cage. Gorgon led him to believe he would be fighting Muncie, once and for all. And he knew it was too good to be true. Sure enough, he was right.
Crawford ran toward Jack in an instant. Jack followed suit as soon as he realized Crawford’s charge. The men bore down on each other like jousting opponents. They collided in mid-air with a resounding thud. Jack’s forearm crushed the bridge of Crawford’s nose. It didn’t slow the zombie at all.
Crawford reeled backwards from the blow. He clasped his hands together and hammered them down upon Jack’s back like an anvil. The wind expelled from Jack’s lungs and he crashed to his knees, feeling every inch of the cement floor through his legs.
The zombie guard kicked Jack’s head. The cage went fuzzy as a dark shadow threatened to cloud his vision from the edges. Even in pain, Jack caught a glimpse of Crawford’s next move. He dropped lower to the floor and swung his legs around in a scissor motion, taking the legs out from under Crawford. The purple veins bursting through Crawford’s temples pulsed at the surprise maneuver. He jumped to his feet and tore his shirt off in defiance. Jack watched the rippling muscles contort in a grayish pink hue. His trance was cut short by the chomping noises that clicked off Crawford’s teeth.
Jack hurried to figure out how to beat his adversary. Jack was no stranger to brawls, having been in hundreds of them since grade school. Rarely had Jack ever fought someone his size or smaller. He liked to pick out the biggest guy in the yard or the bar and then show everyone what he was capable of. And Jack was not a gracious winner. Or loser. Either way, he made sure the name Jack Turk lingered on the lips of the witnesses for a long time. He fashioned himself a showman in that regard. One with a mean streak.
This fight was different. How do you defeat a zombie? He figured if he had a weapon he could do something to decapitate the bastard. But in this cage, Jack was left to his own fists and smarts. And he wasn’t jacked up on steroids like Crawford. The game was rigged against him. That had never bothered Jack before. He just had to work a little harder this time.
Jack spat on the floor. He hunched over like a high school wrestler. They both circled each other, sizing up opportunities to exploit weaknesses. He tried something he hadn’t used yet.
“Hey, Crawford. Now that you’re a rotting corpse, do you still have to do whatever that fat slob Muncie tells you to?”
Crawford screamed at Jack, spraying spit everywhere. He lunged at Jack and missed. Jack had anticipated the correct direction to avoid him.
“Can zombies get it up? I bet it doesn’t work anymore. There goes all your chances to rape inmates.”
Crawford charged Jack as he had hoped. Jack waited until the last second to jump up and swing around the tall zombies back. Crawford missed Jack, slamming hard into the iron bars. Before Crawford could react, Jack threw all his weight behind his kick. His leg smashed the back of Crawford’s head which lodged between the bars. The zombie guard struggled to squeeze his head out but it was jammed in there pretty tight. Jack backed up against the other side of the cage. Zombie guard arms poked through the cage in an attempt to grab him. Jack ran and leapt into the air with his leg extended. It connected with the back of Crawford’s skull, further lodging the creature’s head in between the bars. Crawford howled in anguish. Blackened blood leaked from his ears due to the pressure.
Jack landed awkwardly, spraining his wrist. He clasped his arm and watched Crawford try to wiggle free. It wasn’t working. Jack had Crawford where he wanted him. He just had to finish him off. He used his good arm to brace it against the back of Crawford’s neck. Jack wanted to feel the vertebra give way under his force.
The raucous shouting ceased. The mob of zombie prison guards parted for the Warden. He walked through the crowd with confidence. Jack had never seen the man sweat.
“You won, Jack. Congratulations.”
“I thought these fights were to the death.” Jack panted, trying to catch his breath.
Warden Gorgon grinned. “They are. But it’s supposed to be your death.”
Jack leaned closer to the bars. His face only inches from the Warden’s. “Well I always finish what others start.” Jack grinned this time.
“Don’t…touch…Crawford. I need him. You are free to return to your pod.” The Warden turned to walk away. He paused and faced Jack. “You lived to fight another day. Hm?” Gorgon left the room in silence.
Jack watched all the zombies drool, fixated on his blood.