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Strangely enough, Budo actually enjoyed his job. He had only been working at the Wolverine 3 facility for a fresh 6 months, which made him a rookie by prison guard standards. Wolverine 3 could be classified as a prison, although it was far from the image which that word usually conjures up in the mind of the reader. There was no yard, so to speak, in which to walk around. There was no ‘chow hall’ or place where hundreds of scary inmates in orange jumpsuits would come to dine on their pitiful meals. Another difference, perhaps the primary one, is that residents of Wolverine 3 were permanent. No-one left, although every month or so a new resident would arrive. The inmates never left, as there was nowhere for them to go and they had no place in society.

Wolverine 3 was located in deep Alaska, roughly 3 hours drive from the nearest hamlet of civilisation (other than a small town for the Complex staff, which we will come to later). The decision for such a remote location was very deliberate. If one of the residents DID escape, then they would be hard pressed to get very far. The 4 miles surrounding the complex was relatively flat and had been cleared of any natural growth such as trees, bushes, hedges and even manageable mounds of soil. Surrounding the entire complex was a double, 10 foot fence topped with razor wire. On the other side of the outer fence was a 9 foot deep trench, just in case a very lucky or very agile prisoner managed to negotiate the fences. The trench was fitted with electronic sensors at the bottom, which would trip the alarm if any physical body of more than 80lbs landed on or near one. There was one long road connecting the complex to the main road which ran by the complex. The entry road was also wired in on both sides by a 10 foot fence, heavily lit at night and guarded at both entrances round the clock by armed guards.

Within the complex itself, security and anti-escape deterrents were stronger still. Doors upon doors upon doors, all electronically locked, 3 inches thick and monitored 24/7. The inmates were in a cage, within a cage, with a cage. The complex was not as large as a correctional facility and had nowhere near as many staff, or inmates. Wolverine 3 boasted to focus on quality not quantity of criminal. The complex had been in existence for only 3 years and had seen some 40 or so inmates during that time. Currently, 35 inmates, or residents, if you were slightly more liberally minded, could be found locked deep inside the complex’s walls. The staff numbered exactly 30, including the warden, a qualified Doctor, a full time Nurse, six gate guards who worked on shifts, seven administrators to deal with the running, financing and logistics of the complex and finally 14 trained and certified guards, one of which was Budo.

The inmates themselves were kept in a subterranean level system of cells. This was not out of cruelty or a desire to deprive them of sunlight, it was to make escape harder. Nobody wanted these “people” escaping. A standard convict escaping custody is bad news, who knows what such a person could do. But with THESE residents, the mind could barely even comprehend what they would do. The term, “the worst of the worst” can be used to describe prisoners housed in maximum security units, but these inmates took it a step further. These inmates had proven that they should not and could not ever be allowed freedom again. Some had already escape from mainstream prisons, often leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. Their risk level was deemed so high that Wolverine 3 was considered the only place for them to live out the rest of their miserable days. It would take too long to document all of the vicious inmates and their horrific, often bestial crimes, but some time must be taken to explain the story of inmate Hocker.

Hocker did not appear to follow the rules of human biology. He was not like other people, neither physically nor mentally. Whilst appearing to look around 45, it had been proven by several reliable authorities that he was over 120 years old. He also possessed strength far beyond his fairly modest build. He had been witnessed bench pressing 650lbs for 8 repetitions by a gobsmacked guard, who of course recorded the set on his phone, before having said phone checked and video deleted. Staff were not allowed to photograph or record inmates on private devices. This was made very clear even before they were hired, and repeated infractions would result in dismissal. Hocker’s actual history was murky. Where he came from originally…how many people he had actually murdered…family connections…employment history…these questions were all voids of darkness for Hocker. He spoke excellent English with a German accent, although as has been stated, no-one really knew his country of birth. Hocker also seemed out of this world intelligent, which meant that he had to be treated with more caution than the more ‘disengaged’ inmates. Whilst there was much uncertainty about Hocker’s life details, it was known that he had a PhD in Quantum Physics from a prestigious European University. He was also known to be fluent in seven world languages, and have given live violin concerts at the Berlin State Opera (under the fake name of Hans Schuler). Hocker himself chose not to give the staff any bother though, he was cordial, polite, cooperative and overall quiet. His calm demeanour certainly belied his history of vicious crimes and murders. He had no apparent desire to escape or be free. He spent the days exercising, reading the books available to him, meditating, engaging in artistry and writing.

The events which forced Budo to live his most unforgettable, horrific and frightening day of existence occurred on a short, dark day in November 2018.

It really started like any other day for Budo. He awoke just after 8am in his staff provided, 1 bedroomed studio flat, went about his daily chores and activities, then climbed into his slightly battered but trusty Buick at 7.40pm to begin the short drive to Wolverine 3, his place of employment. Budo was of course working the nightshift on this occasion, which was an understandable part of his employment contract. These inmates had to be guarded and cared for 24/7. If you were looking for a nice, cushy 9-5 job to earn your daily bread, you were working for the wrong place. Working at Wolverine 3 could be traumatic, brutal, tough, exhausting, but it was very rarely boring. Budo just enjoyed the challenge and took pride in the fact he was working at a place where many would fear to work. The element of danger and risk gave him a buzz and sense of excitement that no other place had given him. Little did Budo know as he drove to work that morning, just how much danger he would face before this ordeal was over.

Budo pulled up to the gate with an easy 15 minutes to spare before his shift began. He was allowed access as per usual upon presenting his security pass (something you carried around with you at all times whilst inside the complex) and continued his trusty Buick down the long straight road to the staff car park. The car park was located on the East side of the complex and staff were expected to use their own somewhat inconspicuous entrance rather the much grander main entrance. It was always pitch dark at 8pm in November, but today, Budo just believed it felt extra dark. Like another level of darkness. He swore that he could just see NOTHING out there beyond the high walls and wire fence. If that wasn’t creepy enough, Budo heard a howl from somewhere all too near. It did not sound like any of the wild animals who prowled this stretch of the world, however Budo just figured he was not familiar enough with the calls of different species and moved to the next thought. He supressed a shudder before locking his ride and making his way through the door, down a short corridor and into the brightly lit main staff room. Truth be told, Budo deep down KNEW that what he had heard was something wholly unnatural, but he did not have the courage to face that truth right now.

“Evening Tom, they got you on night’s again?” Inquired Budo upon seeing his colleague Tom rummaging through his kit bag near his locker.

“Nah buddy. I’m done now. I gotta dash. See you later.”

With that brief but adequate explanation, Tom left the room with his bag slung casually over his shoulder before closing the outer door on a solitary Budo. Budo did not know Tom terribly well. They occasionally shared shifts, but did not really converse, just small talk. Budo mainly kept to himself and focused on his tasks. He did not partake in any of the social activities which the HR team organised every now and again.

Budo’s shift was basically now in effect. He left the staffroom suited and booted, with all equipment in place, and made his way down to the cell blocks to carry out handover from the day-shift guard. There was only really one level of security when it came to the prisoners: maximum. Although they were kept in separate wings, their protocols, threat level, level of monitoring, amount of privileges, was more or less the same for all of them. There was no ‘solitary confinement’ as they were in it now. They were allowed 1 hour of carefully monitored exercise per day at scheduled slots. If an inmate refused to take their chance when they were called, it was tough luck. They would be caged in until the following day.

“Hi Barry, how have our little angels been behaving today?” asked Budo as he stepped onto wing A and came across the day-shift guard he was relieving.

“Oh man. You missed a treat today. Harrow, the huge white guy with the tats, smacked Rawlins around the face earlier today, knocked out three teeth and broke his jaw. All with one freakin punch. The dude’s an animal. Harrow got a sharp beatdown and thrown back in his cage. Rawlins went to the san and finished slightly early. He’ll probably come right back tomorrow. The man is used to pain and seems to come back for more. Also, Vasquez tried to hang himself for the 6th time his month. He’s laid up in the san, still out cold. He’ll pull through though, sadly”

Barry seemed like a stand-up guy and was a dedicated guard. Budo knew that he had a young wife and three kids to support on his less than generous guard’s wage. He put his hours in though and soldiered on. He never really complained or wished he was somewhere else. He signed the application form and took this job, just like they all did. As for Harrow, the inmate who had given Rawlins free dental surgery and facial reconstruction, Budo had heard many stories about the man-beast and seen his violent antics first-hand.

Harrow had been imprisoned within Wolverine 3 for 4 years and had not accepted one day of it. It’s not that he pretended to be innocent, or that he felt he was being harshly punished exactly. He just hated being locked up 23 hours per day and watched. He had been on the run, evading the cops and authorities, for 18 months before finally being caught and locked up for the rest of his days. He had loved the chase and being free whilst also being hunted. He had loved seeing his face on TV crime reports, and how everyone was looking for him. He even enjoyed reading reports about his vicious acts of murder and violence which plastered the papers and social media platforms. He felt proud that ‘his work’ was being recognised. Harrow was found guilty on seven counts of second-degree murder, plus a long sleuth of other charges, both violent and non-violent. He did go to another facility in Alaska briefly, before it was decided that Wolverine 3 was the best place for him (other than an unmarked grave).

As Budo did his rounds and checked on all of the prisoners, that feeling of darkness become more oppressive. Even the bright ceiling lights in the corridors could not push it away, as the darkness felt far deeper, and not something that even the brightest light could do anything to. It felt clinging and inescapable. Budo was pondering on what might be causing the feeling when he came to inmate Hocker’s well-kept cell. Hocker appeared to be writing some musical manuscript with a black biro, as was commonplace for someone like him. Budo was not very adept as reading music, but from where he stood, it looked complex. Budo and Harrow made eye contact, and both held it for a few seconds. Harrow then uttered two words. Words which for some reason, made Budo feel even more freaked out than he already was. They were spoken with such a serious and macabre reality

“They’re here.”

Budo did not know who “they” were, but immediately he knew full well that “they” were not people whom anyone wanted to meet. If Budo had known right then to whom Hocker was referring, he would have made every effort to flee the building and get as far away as possible. Budo knew somehow that Hocker was not playing a trick or trying to scare him. It was just a fact, cold and hard and stated clearly.

Right then, as if to add answer Hocker’s ominous warning, the real warning siren sounded.

This was a sound that Budo had heard only a few times during his employment at the facility, and both times the situation had been serious. The first time, three inmates had managed to overpower and viciously beat a lone guard, before taking his keycard, baton, spray, a knife which kept hidden in his boot (it was hidden for a good reason, guards are not permitted to carry personal weapons about their person during shift time) and trying to free other prisoners. The unfortunate guard, like Budo, had been relatively new at the time and had let his guard down at precisely the wrong time. Inexperience in the job had been known to prove fatal. Luckily, the inmates had been restrained before they succeeded in their dastardly plan and all three were thrown back in their cells somewhat bruised and very angry. The second time was actually triggered by the mail room, or sorting office, when a potentially hazardous package had been identified amongst the morning’s mail. The building had to be evacuated, prisoner’s and all, whilst the threat was dealt with. The prisoner’s at least were happy, or as happy as their warped minds allowed them to be, as they got to see daylight and breathe some fresh air before being send back down below to their caged subterranean dwellings.

Budo, acting on instinct, picked up his radio and quickly checked in with his supervisor.

“Wolf, the siren’s blaring down here. What’s the issue?”

Wolf, Budo’s supervisor and overall head of the security team, sounded controlled enough, yet he could not hide the slight tremor in his voice. He was afraid, and Budo could hear it.

“Someone’s…..someone’s landed on the roof. Don’t ask me how they got up there. There’s more than ten of them. They know where the hatch is and they’re trying to open it, I’m watching it on camera right now.”

On the roof? Budo was more confused than he was scared at this point. Wolverine 3 was a three-storey building. There was no way any intruder would have been able to climb up there without being seen, even IF they managed to get into the complex. Even a fox couldn’t get within a mile of the complex without the security team knowing about it. Could they have parachuted in? Budo pondered to himself. It wasn’t impossible, but again, they would have been detected long before they touched down on the roof.

Budo heard several loud gunshots coming from several floors above him, the alarming sounds ringing through the building. There was clearly an active engagement already in progress. The intruders had clearly ignored any requests to stop and identify themselves. What startled Budo more, is that he now heard what sounded like the blast of shotguns, as supposed to the earlier sound of pistols. This seemed to suggest that whoever, or whatever the intruders were, standard 9mm rounds were not doing their job.

Budo contacted Wolf again to get an update. The update he didn’t want, but really needed.

“Budo..Oh God. I’ve downed one, I think. The pistols ain’t doing shit. We’ve got the SPAS-12s out and have taken down one. They’re fast, too fucking fast. Look, just seal yourselves off below level 2. I don’t think these monsters can get through 3 inches of hea……”

Budo felt himself go cold all over as the radio cut to static. He pulled himself together though and followed his instructions. ‘C’mon Budo, this is what you get paid for. Hang in there and do your job’ Budo chided himself. Understandably, it did not do much to quell his current feeling of terror. Budo raced to the nearest control station, before opening up the access screen. He had been shown what to do, and with trembling fingers and barely controlled breathing, the electronic process was followed. It appeared to have worked, and a barrier had now been placed between the upper and lower parts of the building. Budo breathed a sigh of relief, although he knew that this was only the beginning. Budo found himself entertaining horrific visions of the monsters getting control of the whole prison and inflicting a terrible fate on all within. However, Budo knew he was strong deep down and had faith. There was always hope.

“How many have they killed?”

Hocker’s enquiring voice drifted down the corridor to where Budo now stood. By now, the inmates were all alert and wanting to know what was going on? What was that shooting? Budo quickly paced down to Hocker’s cell before responding to his question.

“How many have WHO killed? What do you know about this Hocker? Who the fuck just landed on the roof?”

“Budo, Budo, Budo…it’s a real long story. But our unwelcome guests are very old friends of mine. VERY old, you might say. In a nutshell, they’re here for me. The problem is, YOUR problem at least, the only thing you can do…is run.”

Budo was not inclined to let himself be told where to go by an inmate.

“Running away from trouble isn’t my job Hocker. I’ve sealed them off from us. They can’t get to you, unless of course they can bash their way through 3 inches of heavy, reinforced steel. We must have sent for assistance by now.”

“’Unless’, ‘must have’…you don’t sound too sure of yourself. You’re afraid. I can sense it.”

Budo looked deep into Hocker’s mysterious yet scrutinising eyes. In that moment, Budo knew full well that Hocker somehow COULD sense his fear on a deeper level. After all, Hocker was simply beyond explanation. If Hocker had revealed that he had actually been the assassin who had murdered Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand, Budo would have paused before writing it off as a lie.

Budo regained himself and focused on the present moment. He pulled out his radio once again and tried to contact Wolf. No response at all, just that same static. In all truth, this is exactly what Budo was expecting. He allowed himself to imagine a valiant struggle against the monsters; the brave Wolverine guards firing round after round into the enemy, roaring with battle rage, until they were finally overcome. He truly hoped that his colleagues, and friends, had gone out bravely.

“Not all of them did Budo. Some died cowering, their own piss running down their leg.”

“Shut your damn mouth freak. You don’t know that. Get the fuck outta my head as well.”

Budo usually controlled his temper, but tonight, it was running on it’s own course. He gathered himself and assessed the current situation. The monsters had almost certainly taken over the upper floors, that was done now and had to be faced. But that security door should hold them. Surely it would?

Budo felt his heart stop beating and his entire body freeze as he heard a set of footsteps to his left, along the same corridor. He then felt his head slowly turning, as if on a mechanical rotor over which he had no control. He did not WANT to see this being, but his mind did.

Budo surveyed the intruder, and found that he was not looking at the unspeakable demonic beast he had been conjuring up in his head. Strangely, it was almost an anti-climax, a let-down. This person was maybe 5’10” and of a medium build. Not short, not tall, not skinny, not huge, not ugly, not handsome…just so normal. Budo even wondered if this person was a staff member whom he did not recognise. He was about to breathe a sigh of relief and ask the man for help, when he noticed three telling signs almost at once.

The man had several tears and holes in his shirt. The fabric around the holes had been scorched, suggesting that the man had been fired at with live rounds, but not killed. This alone would have been enough to confirm the man’s identity as one of the intruders, but the observations continued. As the man walked slightly closer, Budo could see that this man’s eyes were not normal. They were yellow, and slightly feline. They shone wickedly in the light. Finally, and most sickeningly, the man held what appeared to be a human eyeball in his right hand. Budo, in his terror, dimly recalled that eye scanners were used around the complex as an extra layer of security. Clearly the owner of this eye did not simply take it out and hand it over.

“Deine Freunde sind alle tot”

Budo starred in disbelief as the figure spoke.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t been out of Germany for so long. I have just told you, that all your friends are dead.”

The intruder spoke very good English in a German accent, much like someone else Budo knew.

“Who are you? What do you w-w-want?” Budo stammered in a trembling voice. He was desperately trying to appear in control, but failing. His fear was practically oozing out.

The intruder noticed Budo’s stammering before adding mockery to his already numerous crimes.

“I-I-I W-w-want to s-s-speak to a certain prisoner. Herr Hocker. He resides here as one of your guests. Show me to him and open the cell door, immediately. This is not an order you wish to refuse.”

The intruder’s eyes shone wickedly as he uttered that last barely veiled threat. Budo felt his powers of control escaping him as he starred into this yellow, cat-like and quite frankly, horrific looking eyes. He could not fight this…being. It had already killed numerous armed guards without appearing to sustain a single injury. Yet could Budo just roll over and do this being’s evil bidding? He would be aiding the intruders and just handing over a prisoner. A prisoner he was supposed to be protecting.

“I’m waiting Sir. My patience is wearing thin”

Budo could see now that it wasn’t just the being’s patience that was wearing thin. There was something awful, unspeakable and primal behind those eyes. Something was trying to break through, and Budo knew he had mere seconds to comply, or face certain death…if it even ended there.

“Open this cell door, Budo” called out Hocker, his voice coming from right behind his door.

“This isn’t worth dying for. I’m a monster, remember. Just open the door and run.”

Hocker’s voice sounded different, off somehow. It was as if it had dropped half an octave. It also seemed like it was coming from ABOVE the cell door and not through it. It sounded angry, snarling, unhinged. Budo knew that no-one could just change their voice like that. Budo knew that somehow Hocker himself was changing, shifting, becoming something else.

In that moment, Budo KNEW that his only option was to open the door. Whatever was now behind it, was their only hope of survival. Their saving grace.

“NOW” yelled the monster in the corridor. Budo found himself running toward Hocker’s cell door, stealing a quick glance back over his shoulder. The once polite and unassuming monster was shedding its man-like appearance now. It’s visage of humanity thrown aside. Budo got a glimpse of barred fangs, exposed claws, darkening skin. Budo did not wait to, or remotely want to see the full transformation.

His fumbling hands managed to unlock Hocker’s cell door just as the intruder began to sprint forward. The monsters who had broken their way into Wolverine 3, murdered the guards and overrided security systems had no intention of merely speaking with Hocker, this was an execution. However, as the cell door to cell A-17 swung open and the thing that had been Hocker appeared, filling the doorway with its enormous form, Budo knew that the invading monsters were going to have a very tough time in their task.

Hocker’s usual human appearance was totally gone. He, or it, now towered at around 8 feet, with the width to match. Feral yellow eyes starred out of a huge, ogre-like head. Hocker roared to expose long fangs, saliva dripping freely. The skin over his now heavily muscled body was now grey-coloured and appeared thicker, almost leathery. This was the form that Hocker had carefully kept hidden throughout his residence in Wolverine.

Budo stepped back quickly against the wall, and watched the ensuing fight with wide, incredulous eyes. If it could even be described as a fight, that is.

Hocker charged straight toward the intruder, no words even exchanged. These two knew each-other, and they were clearly beyond talking. The intruder made three or four clawed swipes at his gigantic opponent, swipes that would have easily killed even a tough human being, but Hocker had clearly succeeded in whatever transformation the intruder was attempting. The swipes fell short, and Hocker used his superior reach and strength. Hocker’s arm muscles bulged grossly as he picked up the intruder by the neck and brought him close, ignoring the swipes against his thick, tough, leathery skin. Hocker then snapped his wide jaws over the intruder’s head, biting off most of his comparatively tiny skull. Budo, still backed up against the wall, was at least relieved to see that these creatures could not survive without a functioning head. There was hope at least.

Hocker turned to the wide eyed Budo, now at least breathing more evenly and relieved that the immediate danger was over. Budo somehow knew that Hocker would not harm him. If he had wanted to, he would have done so long ago.

“We need to leave” snarled the Hocker-thing in a just about recognisable voice. Budo did not hesitate to agree.

By now the inmates were all at their doors, yelling and eagerly demanding to know just the what the hell happened outside and what all the noise was. Budo knew that he didn’t have time to explain everything. Also, Budo knew with a heavy heart, that he could not just open all these cells doors and take the inmates with him. The risk level would be too great, and the inmates would likely do whatever they wanted once they were free, or relatively free. No, Budo had to leave right now, with the Hocker-thing, and just hope that the inmates were not slaughtered by the intruders.

One inmate however, had no intention of being left behind.

Just as Budo was passing Harrow’s cell, the cell door, which should have been tightly locked, was suddenly opened. Inmate Harrow stood in the doorway, clenching a make-shift prison weapon in his sweaty right hand. Budo’s instinctive response to this threat was to give Harrow a nice eyeful of pepper spray before kneeing him in the groin, however Harrow held out both hands quickly, as if in supplication, and spoke in a hurried, desperate voice.

“Look Budo, I’m not going to hurt you, although you probably ain’t never gonna believe that. I saw what the hell just happened in the corridor.”

Harrow paused, before exhaling and shaking his head in disbelief.

“Hocker, is that you man? What? How? You look ugly as fuck dude!”

In any other circumstance, Budo would have laughed at that jibe, but there was no time for mirth given that this was quite literally a life-or-death situation. Budo was about to tell Harrow to get back in his cell and keep quiet, when Harrow started up again.

“Look, Budo…I’m probably going to get killed by one of those vampire fuckers, or whatever they are, but at least I want to die on my feet with a weapon in my hand, not cowering like a dog in cage as they close in. C’mon man, just give me this. Just let me die fighting.”

Budo knew that he had zero time to argue.

“Fine, but you’re walking between me and the big guy. I don’t want you sticking that shank in my back as soon as I’m distracted. You’re still a scumbag murderer and I’d be a moron to trust you.”

“You don’t have to trust me, just don’t let me die in this box.”

So, leaving behind the corridor full of irate, yelling inmates, the bizarre trio of hulking super-mutant, rookie prison guard and mass murderer set-off. Budo was directing them toward a lesser-known lower-level exit with would lead them through a narrow tunnel and out of the prison grounds. An exit which he prayed had not been compromised. Budo had no idea what information had been wrangled from the guards before they had been finally snuffed out. He had no way of knowing, but this was his only play, and he was playing it. Trying to leave via the main or staff entrance would be tantamount to just blowing his brains out right there, so he avoided both.

The trio had been walking in some silence for a few minutes, before Budo had to ask

“Hocker, how long can you stay like that for?”

“For as long as the threat is active” came the terse, snarled replay.

“…and what threat is that?”

“I’d say it’s fairly obvious which threat I’m referring to.”

That sentence seemed to end that particular conversation. Hocker had never been much of a talker.

Budo did have a pressing question for Harrow, who walked quietly 6 paces in front of him, now without a lethal weapon.

“How did you jinx that cell door, Harrow? Truth be told, I didn’t think you had the skill.”

“Oh I had the skill. I studied engineering at college, before my life turned to hell. Took me a while to get the lock mechanism sussed, but as you know, it’s not like I was short of time. I got it figured out around three weeks ago and knew how to unlock it. I just chose to be patient and wait for an opportunity. No point busting out of a cell only to find yourself in another one. Little did I know that 14th November would be my lucky date.

It’s funny…all this time locked up in that cell, with… Budo, you wanna give me that weapon old buddy?”

If Budo had not heard what Harrow had heard, and not seen what Harrow had seen, he would have told him to go stick it, but it was clear that more trouble was upon them. Budo quickly drew Harrow’s shank and slid it along the ground to him. It was a pathetic weapon, given the nature of what they were up against, but it was all they had. They were cut off from any weapon lockers and were fighting enemies who didn’t use or need weapons.

Just up ahead, three more of the bestial enemies were blocking the corridor. The same corridor which led to the escape route which was their only hope. The enemies were closer to Hocker’s form than the first intruder had managed to get but were still smaller and looked weaker. However, it was three and not one.

Both Budo and Harrow, now clutching the feeble weapons they did have, starred up at the tank in front of them. Although it had not formally been spoken, Hocker was now in charge. He was their leader, their strength, their only hope. Luckily, the two small, anxious men did not have long to wait for Hocker’s response. Hocker put his huge, slab sized head down, seemed to tense his muscles like some colossal wild animal, then charged forward roaring. The mere force of the shout alone would have been enough to overpower a weaker enemy; the entire building seemed to shake with the roar and both Budo and Harrow flinched and drew back as the sound of the roar hit them.

Hocker was on the enemy like a raging Pitbull. He hit the first head on like the 600lb battering ram that he was and knocked him, or it, 30 feet or so down the corridor, wounded, but not out. At least it made the fight a fairer two on one. Hocker threw a huge right fist at the second enemy, which would have cracked open its skull had it connected, but it didn’t connect. The enemy ducked nimbly, letting the strike hit the wall and wrench free a huge chunk of plaster. The third enemy came in from behind the giant and sunk its savage teeth deep into Harrow’s neck. Harrow roared in pain and rage, before throwing back the same right fist into the enemy’s face. This at least caused the beast to lose its bite and rock back slightly. Harrow, now turned around to face the biter, showed him the technique in its full effect. He sunk his huge, powerful jaws deep into the enemy’s neck. Before closing, tearing and ripping out an enormous chunk of flesh. Even this though, was not a finisher, the enemy staggered back, bleeding profusely, but still in the fight.

By now, the first enemy was back on its feet and charging into the fray, hardly damaged by that initial charging blow. The second enemy was by now attacking Hocker with a frantic dual-wield motion. Slashing Hocker with its long claws and managing to make deep gashes even through the tough leathery skin. Whilst Hocker was trying to block these, enemies one and two were now trying to sink their teeth into Hocker’s neck and upper body, viciously grasping with their clawed hands as they did so. The fight was looking like a losing struggle for Hocker. Dark blue blood was sheeting out of numerous claw and teeth wounds. Hocker was slowly being brought to his knees and the enemy was getting close to overpowering him. The invincible giant was struggling under an increasingly frantic and savage onslaught of sharp claws and tearing fangs. If that wasn’t enough, two more enemies of similar size appeared around the corner and began to race towards the struggle, snarling and roaring with a hellish glee all the while. They clearly wanted some of Hocker’s blood for themselves.

Budo and Harrow were about to simply charge into the doomed fight in a final burst of reckless courage, when something unbelievable happened.

Hocker changed again.

A booming deafening roar sounded from the within the middle of the bloodied crush of huge bodies. Once again, it shook the building, even shattering glass and damaging any nearby electrical items. Both Budo and Harrow were forced to cover their ears at the horrific noise. If the devil had shouted, it would have sounded like this. An arm that looked to be the size of a tree trunk shot up from the press with an enemy’s head squeezed in its huge hand. The arm drove up hard into the ceiling with unbelievable force, and even passed through around 1 foot of concrete. Needless to say, the enemies face and head were reduced to a liquid.

Hocker now raised himself to his feet and stood. He had grown still, now so tall that he had to stoop slightly to even fit in the corridor, which had a ceiling height of 8.5 feet. Through his blood drenched body, two feral, glowing red eyes burned outwards, as if to tell the four remaining enemies of the merciless hell that awaited them. The enemy with the injured neck dashed forward, totally unphased by Hocker’s further transformation and the now huge size difference. It was a suicidal act, as Hocker merely roared and throw a heavy right straight into the beast’s face, leaving nothing but an empty space where the head once was. The nearby walls had been garishly decorated with it’s contents. By this stage, the three remaining enemies were all on one side of Hocker, he was no longer surrounded, and there was no way they could flank him in the small corridor. Hocker moved forward toward his enemies like something from a particularly bad nightmare, using both enormous, long arms in vicious sweeping motions which the enemy were powerless to block. Each clawed swipe was devastating to the comparatively feeble bodies of the opponents. Hocker’s sharp claws took out large chunks of flesh and opened deep gashes with each fast strike. The three doomed opponents were being driven back screaming, totally unable to stand against this horrific onslaught of pure blood-mad destruction. Before long, Hocker found himself treading over dead meat with nothing in front of him, but two starring wide eyed humans.

For all his faults, Hocker had just saved Budo’s life twice now. He couldn’t recall anyone else ever doing that for him. Budo and Harrow were still silent. Truth be told, they almost did not want to draw attention to themselves, in fear that Hocker’s mad rage was not yet over. Luckily, Hocker cleared the air. He could, after all, read emotions and thoughts all too well.

“It’s okay you weaklings…the fight’s over. We need to move. There are more, and the next lot will be worse…if you can believe that.”

Budo finally found his voice.

“The exit..the exit’s only in the next corridor. Let’s go”

The three took off again, near enough sprinting. Hocker once more leading the charge with his huge form, now having to stoop slightly as if a football player going in for a body tackle. They finally got into the corridor which contained the exit in question. Budo pulled out the relevant security card with frantic fingers and inserted it into the appropriate slot. Nothing. Budo took a deep breath and tried not to lose all hope as the panic increased. He tried again, as if the response would be any different. It wasn’t.

Harrow, also evidently terrified, blurted out

“Please don’t fuckin’ tell me that the door won’t open. I don’t want to be trapped in here when the next load find us. Hocker can’t fight them all.”

“I’m trying. Those freaks must have disabled the lock from upstairs. If I can somehow get to the sec…”

Harrow was yelling now, sweat breaking out all over his body

“The security room?! We have no time left. Unless you can teleport in there, that room may as well be in China.”

Both men were distracted by the sound of a huge banging sound. They turned in shock to see Hocker desperately throwing his body at the heavy security door that currently prevented their much-needed escape. By the third strike, it had barely been dented. Hocker however, was bleeding openly from his wounds. The effort was clearly causing more damage to Hocker than the heavy steel barrier.

“We have to get through, and THIS is the only way” roared Hocker.

Right then, as if the need to leave couldn’t be any more urgent and desperate, a huge chorus of bestial roars sounded from all around them. The horrific sound appeared to come from everywhere; either side, above, even below…although Budo knew that there should not be anything below them but solid earth.

Hocker continued his desperate attempts to break open the door by force as the roars grew closer. By the sixth bang, by some miracle, it seemed like the door was finally beginning to cave under the enormous, frantic force of Hocker’s repeated body blows. By the ninth huge blow, Budo could see a significant dent in the door itself, and more importantly, the locking system was finally giving way. Budo allowed himself a glimmer of hope amidst all the terror and barely controlled fear.

Budo clenched his teeth and yelled encouragement

“C’mon big guy, you can do it. Almost there.”

By the 12th bang, the door was all but down and holding onto the frame stubbornly by one hinge. Hocker, however, looked almost beaten himself. He was bleeding, staggering, exhausted. Budo and Harrow were both shouting frantically now for Hocker to finish the job. Hocker looked like he could barely hear them. He dropped to one knee, blood dripping from his open mouth.

By now the monsters were in the corridor with them and racing straight toward the trio, hungry for flesh and blood. Budo could feel his ear drums pounding with their feral roads, only feet away now.

“Come on Hocker. One last charge. PLEASE. Give it everything you got.”

Hocker seemed to hear them this time. His eyes glowed a fierce red. His muscles tensed all over his huge body. He opened his huge mouth for one last gigantic roar. Then, with the world about to end around them, he charged forward. That last hinge broke, and the door flew off its hinge. Their exit was now open.

Budo immediately dashed forward, but felt a rough hand grab him by the scruff of his collar. ‘So close’ were the words that he felt run through his mind in that moment. So close yet so far. He knew that he was going to be pulled back into some awful death of teeth and claws. To be killed by raging monsters who seemed to have come from hell itself. He had contemplated his death during sleepless nights in the past, but honestly never thought that it would end like this.

Suddenly, Harrow was at his side, roaring and stabbing wildly with his trusty prison shank. Harrow, a vile mass murder, now coming to the aid of a guard he barely knew and trying to save his life instead of just running. Budo heard a howl of pain behind him, and suddenly the terrible grip was no longer there. Budo darted forward for the exit with Harrow right behind him. However, Harrow’s final act of bravery had come at a heavy price. One of the beasts lunged at him with a sweeping claw, messily opening up his mid-section in a spray of dark red blood. Harrow screamed in shock and pain, as Budo grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the howling gnashing monsters and out into the corridor. Budo helped Harrow only around 10 feet down the corridor before Harrow slumped to the wall, bleeding freely, already very pale and barely conscious.

“You did that for ME?” Budo asked in a mixture of bizarre mix of confusion and admiration.

“Ha ha..all those lives I took. I guess I just wanted to save one before it was time to turn the lights out. I never thought it would be a mother-fucking guard though. Ha ha….”

With those final words, Harrow stopped talking and his head lolled to one side. Budo was in debt to this man, but there was no time for contemplation right now. Hocker was at the doorway, filling the doorway as best he could, holding on with everything he had. Budo could see the monsters piling up behind Hocker, dozens of them, slashing, biting, clawing, screaming. Blood was now pooling around Hocker’s huge feet as he became overwhelmed for one final time.

“Run Budo, RUN” roared Hocker.

Budo ran. He kept running and never looked back.

The incident at Wolverine 3 never made it as far as the newspapers or any social media. Technically, the place didn’t exist. The higher management located Budo around 2 weeks after the incident and after a fairly brief but very clear conversation made him sign a non-disclosure form. Budo willingly signed, he had no intention of reliving that horrible ordeal or trying to make money from so much death and chaos. Some stories were better left unknown. Budo did hope that the families of the deceased prison staff were managing to go on without them as best they could. He wanted to reach out to them and was sorry that he couldn’t.

Three years later, Budo still thought back to what happened at that Wolverine 3 facility, out in the middle of nowhere. Sitting now, with his two children and adoring wife on the porch of their Nevada ranch, Budo thought about Hocker himself. Hocker…who was he? WHAT was he? The world may see Hocker as a monster, but to Budo, he would always be the hero who gave him another chance at life.