Lazarus looked up, his ears lapping up the music as eagerly as a dog left out in the sun for days. His cell mate had been asleep when he arrived, but now the man stirred. The man was a burly guy, thick set and his body bulged slightly against his stained greasy clothes. The man also looked up, following Lazarus’ gaze.
‘Melissa.’ Lazarus whispered, a small smile lighting his face against the odds.
‘What?’ the man asked, his gaze snapping to Lazarus who was staring up at the ceiling a somewhat dreamy expression on his face.
‘Hmm?’ Lazarus tore his eyes from the ceiling and dropped the smile as he was faced with his cell mate.
‘Oh good. They locked a loony in with me.’ The man said gruffly.
‘I’m not a loony, thank you very much,’ he narrowed his eyes slightly as the man hunched over on his bed, never taking his gaze off Lazarus.
‘Of course not.’ The man sniffed disbelievingly. ‘If you’re not a loony, what are you in for?’ Lazarus sighed and leant back against the wall, his mind still half focussed on the music above them.
‘I killed someone. I was really very drunk, but there’s no excuse for what I did, I suppose.’ He said distantly.
‘You sound extremely detached for having killed someone.’ The man was incredulous. How could Lazarus be so calm about it?
‘Yeah, probably. What are you here for then?’ Lazarus asked in a tone that suggested he was challenging his cell mate.
‘Me? Attempted armed robbery.’
‘And where were you trying to break into?’
‘A jeweller’s,’ the man laughed ruefully.
‘There you go then. I’m not the only lunatic in this cell, am I?’ Lazarus smiled grimly as the man shrugged. Cycle starts again tomorrow night. Stupid three day cycle. Lazarus’ lips became a thin hard line and the music seemed to fade. The man on the other bed looked around, surprised the music had stopped. Sunrise. ‘What’s your name?’ Lazarus said eventually.
‘Mike. You?’ the man grunted, glancing up at Lazarus.
‘My name is Lazarus.’ He muttered as the warden banged on their cell bars.
‘Wake up! You’re working the vegetable plot today, move it!’ the warden yelled, moving on to the next cell.
‘We were already awake.’ Lazarus growled.
‘Ah that’s just Sonny for ya. He’s like that. You get used to it, but I guess neither of us have much longer left here, do we?’ Mike hauled his hulking figure off his bed and got changed in the corner.
‘You could say that,’ Lazarus said absently.
‘Well what else would I mean, eh?’ Mike turned to face Lazarus who was staring at the bars with a frown on his face. ‘And don’t count on bending them apart enough to get through. Not even Ned can bend ‘em, and he’s a champion weightlifter.’ He shook his head as Lazarus continued to frown at the bars thoughtfully. ‘C’mon. Gotta get a move on, or they beat ya harder than they would normally.’ Slowly, Lazarus rose and changed into his working clothes that had been shoved in his hands as he was dragged to the dank cell.
Aching, sweaty, exhausted, Lazarus flopped onto his bed and didn’t move for ten minutes, until Mike laughed at him.
‘What are you laughing about?’ Lazarus snapped.
‘You look like you’ve never done a hard day’s work in your life.’ Mike snorted with laughter and Lazarus pushed himself up.
‘Of course not. I don’t work during the day. I was a night shift guard over at the museum. And a pianist before that. They’re hardly taxing jobs.’
‘It shows.’ Mike smiled, trying to stop the chortle behind his lips from escaping. Lazarus simply shook his head, unable to speak. He could feel the beast rising. The sun was sinking low over the horizon and the moon, nearly at its prime was going to take to the sky. And the beast was ready. It was hungry for escape already. ‘Get some sleep, kid; you’ll need it with inexperience like yours.’
‘Sure...’ Lazarus scowled. Who was this guy to call him a kid? S’pose he wouldn’t have a clue, though. Not like I look my age or anything. He winced as his sides tightened sharply. The moon was rearing its ugly head. I hope Melissa stays away tonight. She should know... she should know better than to get near me. God help all the people that try to stop me later... he hid his pained expression and did his best to keep quiet as his insides were tugged about.
But it was desperately hard. Without the alcohol to numb him to the change, he felt every single tendon stretch to breaking point, every crack of his changing bones. Mewling noises escaped him as he shoved his head against the hard pillow on his bed.
‘What’s wrong, kid?’ Mike got up cautiously as Lazarus writhed on the bed, biting back each scream that tried to shred his throat.
‘Stay away!’ he gasped, rolling onto his back, swatting Mike away. Mike lifted his head and opened his mouth, about to call the warden. ‘No! Don’t call anyone. Just go to bed, pretend you’re asleep.’ Lazarus groaned, his words cutting off as his throat twisted beyond the capabilities of human speech. Mike backed away as Lazarus’ body visibly began to alter, the hair sprouting over him, his shape changing to that of an oversized wolf crossed with something vaguely humanoid. He swore heavily and hid himself under his covers as Lazarus had told him. The mewling quickly became howls of sheer agony and the warden came running. Catching sight of the warden, Lazarus rolled off the bed onto the floor.
Once he was steady on his feet, he launched himself at the bars, snarling and snapping. The warden backed away, horrified as the beast began to attack the bars, trying to get to the human on the other side. There was a horrible crunching noise as Lazarus tore at the bars, swiftly ripping a hole in him big enough for him to fit through.
The warden didn’t stand a chance. In fact, no one that tried to get in its way did. The beast was free from the pathetic building within minutes. The problem was the humans with guns that were chasing it. The creature squealed in pain as a bullet ripped through its back leg. He lifted it and ran on three, sprinting away from the murderous humans as fast as he could. Working on pure instinct, he headed for the first trees he saw, hoping the woods around the town would hide him enough.