Feature Short Story
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
                                      The Prison Experiment
                                                              By Austin Muratori

      Thunder crashes with a vicious crescendo shaking the entire earth. Massive vibrations rattle the
infamous Wayne County Prison. The escape alarm rings through the cellblocks as madness ensues, like a
crazed circus, the prison festers with insanity. Prisoner 25431, also known as Mark Sawyer, awakes to the
sound echoing in sync with his rapid heartbeat. He looks ill, his pale face is that of a ghost. Sweat covers
his body grasping it like a tiger on its prey. Mark quickly sits up against his tattered cell wall trying to regain
his alertness. He notices his cell door is completely open, which is unusual in this maximum-security prison.

      A lone light flickers in the hallway casting evil shadows along the walls. It’s as if he has been teleported
straight to the twilight zone with no chance of surviving. A sharp pain creeps over him like a cold breeze on
a winter’s night. It instantly takes his breath away and forces a violent hacking fit. His body shakes in a
quick spasm as he tries to catch his breath. A second pain flares up deep within his back. Reaching for it
in an effort to gain some relief, he cannot seem to pinpoint the exact spot.

      Confused and weary, Mark makes his way to the entrance of his cell. His vision flashes in and out as a
dream like haze stuns him for a moment. With a huge deep breath, he is able to slowly come back to
reality. The hallway outside his cellblock is very narrow with a long red rail on the edge. This is cellblock C,
where all the most violent prisoners go. Located on the third story of this eight-story building, these tiny
cells only hold one prisoner for precisely twenty-three hours every day. A row of incandescent lamps hang
from the ceiling with only a select few still working, the atmosphere is officially grim.

      A deadly silence erupts echoing the sound of the alarm and faint screams in the distance coming from
below. Rain begins to pick up as if God himself just turned on the faucet, Mark looks around and decides
he better head south toward the stairs. His pain is so intense it forces him to walk with a limp thus causing
his feet to make a shuffle sound. This triggers the attention of something, a loud growl erupts and then out
of the darkness, a prisoner appears, only this isn’t a normal prisoner. This guy is covered in blood, with
deep cuts all over its body. Muscle and broken flesh are visible, his eyes are gouged out and its teeth are
the size of nine-inch nails. They are so big they protrude through the jaw.

      The only human thing that remains on this mutant beast is the orange prison issued jump suit, which is
so caked in blood it almost appears to melt within this thing. The mutant lets out a loud screech then it
takes off on a mad sprint towards Mark, and without hesitation, he too high tails it out of there. There is
very little room for him to maneuver so he banks right. As he is about to reach the stairs heading down, a
hand flies out grabbing his shoulder. The mutant grabs his foot as he is jerked into a jail cell. A fellow
prisoner stabs the mutant in the forehead with a homemade shank killing it instantly.

      Mark gathers himself and then slides against the cell wall. Three men sit within all with their backs
against the wall. The smaller man who pulled Mark in sits down next to him. He pulls out a Marlboro
cigarette and offers one to Mark.

      “Want one?”

      “No thanks,” Mark says.

      “Your damn lucky, that’s for sure.”

      “ Yeah I know. Thanks for that”

      “Name’s Sam. That man in the corner is Brian. Next to him is a guy we call Buzz. Finally we have

      “ I’m Mark. What the hell is going on?”

      Chris then speaks up, “The Warden let his crazy brother run experiments here in the basement.”

      “Rumor has it he was banned from practicing medicine anywhere in the U.S.,” says Buzz.

      Mark shakes his head in disbelief, and then he turns to Sam.

      “Why was he banned?”

      “He ended up running weird experiments on his patients. He would inject chemically modified DNA
turning them into violent blood hungry mutants.”

      “ So he created chemically modified organisms? For what though?”

      “Who knows? One things for sure that man is crazy.”

      Brian then moves closer to Mark and Sam, in a paranoid tone he speaks up, “ He created these
things! Been doing experiments on the death row inmates for years. My brother was on death row.”

      Mark reaches back to his pain in his spine. He moves around a bit and asks, “Why hasn’t he been

      Chris then starts laughing hysterically.

      “He did. He was sent here where his brother the warden let him stay with him,” Sam says. The fear is
plastered on everyone’s face. Mark looks as though he is going to throw up. He tries to shrug it off by
standing up.

      “So what do we do?” he asks.

      “Our best bet is to go to the main floor and then get the hell out of this place. We can figure it out from
there,” says Buzz.

      “Or we could just wait it out,” Brian says in complete terror.

      “We are all dead if we wait here. Nobody is coming to save us we are prisoners.”

      “I agree with Sam and Buzz, we need to get out of here. We’ve all been dreaming of our chance to be
free for a long time now. Lets go,” Mark preaches with pending urgency. Sam looks at Mark impressed at
what he just heard.

      “Grab anything that can be used as a weapon. We stick together,” says Sam confidently.

      The men look around for a weapon. Buzz lifts up the mattress and pulls out a huge knife. The guys look
at him surprised.

      “Where did you get that?” Chris asks.

      “You don’t want to know.”

      Brain kicks the leg of the bed repeatedly until finally it breaks with a twisted sharp point.

      “Got my weapon.”

      Chris looks around in a panic, he then lifts off the back to the toilet. The men look at him and laugh;
Buzz pats him on the back and says, “Hope you’re strong enough to use that. Or you can just hide behind

      Sam pulls out another shank from his sock and hands it to Mark.

      “Alright lets go!”

      The men follow close together; Sam leads with Mark right behind him. As they enter the hallway, the
remaining lights suddenly explode. The guys freeze in their steps, now they are in complete darkness with
the only light coming from the lone lights down below. Chris speaks up, “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

      “Shut up!” Buzz counters.

      Slowly they step down the stairs, a rotten smell arises the lower they venture. It’s coming from the
bodies that are piled up at the bottom of the stairs. Guts protruding from open abdomens, heads split wide
open leaving what remains of half eaten brains scattered across the floor.

      As they reach the bottom, they head over to the guard station. A green florescent light flickers and a
red emergency alarm flashes. Just as Chris trips over one of the bodies, a large howl alerts the guys.  At
this point they are too far away from Chris to help. A mutant leaps on to him ripping into his guts, Chris
screams like someone burning alive. The horrific pitch fills the prison. Brian takes off to help but is stopped
by Sam.

      “We have to go! It’s too late.” Sam yells.

      They run into the guard station and shut the door behind them. Four more mutants come running to
Chris’s body, each tearing in to him like starving sharks.  A guard lies under the desk, his legs torn from
his body, a blood trail shows he drug himself from outside the station. Sam and Mark crouch down to help
him. It’s Officer Sikes, one of the prisoner’s favorite guards.

      “What happened to you?” Sam asks.

      “I was doing my nightly rounds and then out of nowhere, a prisoner walks out of the shadows. His flesh
was torn and his teeth were abnormally large. I told him to turn around and put his hands behind his back.
He didn’t listen and so I ran back to the station to call for backup when he lunged towards me tackling me
to the ground. I tried to kick him away but he bit into my leg and ripped it completely off. Then he tore into
the next one, only this leg was tearing apart slowly. That’s when I grabbed my thigh and pulled, trying to
free myself from this thing. Finally it popped and came off. As it sat there and ate I was slowly able to crawl
back to the station and shut the door, I was barely able to sound the alarm.”

      They all look at each other in complete disgust. Mark then hesitantly asks, “What happened when you
sounded the alarm?”

      “ By then it was too late. The mutants came in swarms, fellow guards were running in to contain them
but couldn’t, they all got devoured. I radioed to station two and the guard there ended up releasing the cell
blocks in segregation while he was being eaten. I then decided to release all the cells on this side
including the upper levels. I figured someone might get out and get help.”

      “But we are prisoners. Isn’t it your job to keep us locked up at all costs?” says Buzz.

      “At this point, none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that we are all human and we have the
right to survive.”

      Officer Sikes starts coughing up blood, as the life fades from his eyes, it’s obvious death is near. Mark
sits down next to Sikes and lays him down propping his head up with in his lap. Brian interrupts them for a
moment, “How do we get out of here?”

      “The front gate.” says Sam.

      Sikes lets out a loud gasp, and then asks Mark to come closer.

      “The gate is locked. You will need the key.”

      Sikes then fumbles for his pocket. He’s not strong enough to reach inside. So he turns to Mark and
says “The key is in my pocket. Take it! Get out of here, live your life the best you can. Oh and please if you
make it, tell my wife Jane I love her.”

      Mark reaches into his pocket and pulls out a key. Sikes starts to shake while he coughs. He manages
to get out a final sentence.

      “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

      Then he takes a big deep breath and dies. Mark sets his head carefully on the ground and closes
Officer Sikes’ eyes. He stands up and looks around, the mutants have gone back into the shadows leaving
very little left of what use to be Chris. Buzz breaks the silence.

      “Looks like the coast is clear.”

      Buzz opens the door and steps out first. Sam turns to the guys and tells them to listen up.

      “Alright, we are going to head for the front gate. Keep your eyes open.”

      Mark grabs a Taser gun off the counter as he follows behind Brian. They enter the narrow north
hallway, blood covers the walls and floor, and body parts are strewn about. This hallway is the only one in
the building that is still well lit. The crew leans close to the wall as they approach the crossing hallway.  As
Buzz peeks his head around the wall, a mutant grabs his head and rips it completely off. His limp body
flops to the ground while blood shoots from his neck soaking the crew. Sam, Mark and Brian leap back,
shock covers their face, then they see Buzz’s body being pulled down the hall. They can’t see the mutant
because the wall is blocking their view.

      Sam runs to the opposite wall to get a better look. It’s gone, leaving only a bloody trail behind.

      “Well, looks like its clear.” Sam says.

      “Let’s keep moving,” says Mark.

      Then Mark starts violently coughing again, he falls to the ground grasping his back. His body shakes
with wicked power like a faulty washing machine. Sam and Brian both drop down to help him.

      “You ok Mark? Brian, help me get him up.”

      They get him up to his feet and his coughing stops. They slowly start walking again propping Mark up.
Finally they reach the front gate, only two more doors to go and they are on the outside. They stop for a
moment, Sam holds on to Mark as Mark hands Brian the key so he can unlock the door and open it. Brian
steps through the door to hold it open as Sam and Mark walk through. As Sam and Mark get outside, a
mutant comes running from behind Brian, he looks at Sam and Mark and closes the door locking himself
inside in order to save them. The mutant tears him apart pressing him against the door.

      “We have to keep moving,” says Sam.

      Once they arrive to the final gate, they quickly open it and walk through. Then Mark again falls to the
ground violently. He seizes and contorts, he’s transforming, as his flesh tears from his body and his jaw
breaks. His teeth grow four times their size, he is now a mutant. Sam not realizing what is going on squats
down to help but its too late. Mark grabs Sam and bites into his throat; blood pours everywhere as Sam
stares deep into Marks eyes. Sam dies in mere seconds. He falls graciously to the ground as Mark hovers
over him ripping into his guts. Crickets chirp in the background in unison with the faint escape alarm as the
rain has finally subsided. Mark finishes his snack and stands up; he begins walking through the parking lot.
He now has the world in front of him and no one has any idea what is coming.
About Austin Muratori

Austin Muratori is a Writer,
Filmmaker, Photographer,
Musician and cancer
survivor from a small town
in Michigan. He is an avid
reader who also happens
to have an addiction to
movies, Coca-Cola, the
macabre, stories, art and
all things dark. In 2015 he
graduated valedictorian
from Full Sail University a
film school, receiving the
Advanced Achievers

     He is hard at work on
multiple cool projects that
includes short stories,
screenplays, a novel, a
photography collection
and a new exciting
podcast called, Malignant