The noise coming from the storage closet had Officer Murphy puzzled. It sounded like a dog scratching; either that or the rats in Oz were getting bigger. Gingerly, he pushed the door open, his nightstick at the ready, and caught sight of something snarling as a rush of wind almost swept him off his feet.
Warden Glynn had that look on his face again. "We have what?" he asked wearily.
"We got us a werewolf, boss," Murphy sighed.
Murphy exhaled loudly, "Yeah."
"Any idea who?" Glynn asked.
"Difficult to say," Murphy shook his head, "It's not like you can look around in Oz and really notice who acts weird at full moon!"
Reaching for a drink, Glynn shakily poured himself a Scotch. "Oh the press is going love this one."
"Look at it this way, after the ageing drug, and Cloutier's resurrection, who the fucks gonna believe us?" Murphy smiled.
Damn the man: his glass was always half full.
"So," Murphy began, settling the inhabitants of the room down with the shake of a hand, "Who can you think of in this place that, I dunno, tends to bite a lot?"
McManus gave a sigh, "Well, Beecher maybe? Robson can attest to that." There was a general hum, and nodding of heads.
"Okay, anybody noticed any howling?" Murphy asked.
Claire Howell snorted, "The whole fucking place howls, but Beecher's been known to howl like a dog when he gets high."
"Oh this is ridiculous," Sister Pete huffed, "Tobias is not a werewolf. He works for me, I think I'd notice!"
"Hey, he's been butt buddies with Keller for three years, an' he's still breathing. How d'ya explain that?" Murphy insisted, liking the idea of Beecher more every moment.
"You're not here after dark, Sister, you don't know shit," Howell remarked with her usual mixture of charm and diplomacy. "The guards have to live with these hairy-assed fuckers twenty-four seven, remember? Anyway, sounds about right that a little pussy-bitch like Beecher crashes out of the closet as soon as the lights go down," she sniggered.
"We got any garlic?" Mineo interjected suddenly.
"That's vampires, you useless fuck. What you gonna do, make the werewolf pizza?" Howell snarled.
"Silver bullets," McManus chipped in, "We need silver bullets for a werewolf."
"Are you saying we kill it?" Sister Pete gasped, "But there's a man in there. That's immoral!" She clutched her rosary with pious indignation.
"Maybe we should lock the place down, do a search?" Murphy suggested.
Howell shook her head in disbelief, "And look for what, furballs? It's a fucking werewolf. Somehow I don't think he'll be collecting Lon Chaney memorabilia!"
"Well we gotta do something!" Mineo threw his arms wide, panic in his eyes. "We got a fucking animal loose in here."
"You worked solitary lately, Mineo?" Howell asked, "We ain't got nothing but animals in here. At least the werewolf don't throw shit up the walls, or spit vomit in your face. I reckon we should keep the werewolf, and shoot the fucking prisoners."
Suddenly, the slight figure of Father Ray Mukada moved into the room. "What's going on?" he asked.
"Werewolf." Glynn sighed, nursing his third drink since this debacle had begun.
"Werewolf?" Ray frowned.
"We got a werewolf in Oz, Father," Murphy explained.
"Are you sure?"
"Oh yeah. He rushed me when I disturbed him in the storage closet last night." Murphy shivered, "Big sucker, fuck ugly, smells terrible..."
"Sounds like Jaz Hoyt," Mineo sniggered.
"Oh come on," Ray smiled, "We all know that werewolves don't exist, right?"
Murphy trained his most understanding smile on the priest, "Father, this is Oz. We already got us guys in the nut ward who insist that a resurrected Reverend Cloutier came back to them, and told them to kill. We got Timmy Kirk who thinks he's the devil, and we got Cyril O'Reily channeling through a sock puppet. Don't give me no shit about werewolves not existing."
Ray glanced imploringly at Warden Glynn, who merely shrugged, and muttered, "The man has a point..."
"So, what time was this?" Ray asked at last.
"I was doin' my rounds, about two a.m.," Murphy shuddered, "I heard scratching in the storage closet. I thought Howell was playing 'I'll show you mine, if you'll show me yours' with one of the prisoners, when..."
"Fuck you, you Mick bastard!" Howell snapped viciously.
"...when I opened the door, and this, 'thing' rushed at me."
"But, if it was so late, surely all of the prisoners would be in lockdown?" Ray pondered.
There was an uneasy silence.
"You sayin' that this werewolf...is a guard?" Murphy gasped.
Ray Mukada held up his hands defensively, as the room suddenly seemed to get a little smaller. "No, not at all. Hey, I don't believe in werewolves, remember?" he said with a tremor to his voice.
Murphy backed down slightly, "Whatever. We gotta set a trap for it."
"What kind of a trap?" Mineo asked, "What the fuck do you bait a werewolf trap with?"
Blank looks all around.
"A virgin?" someone offered weakly.
Murphy glared. "Oh, just great. And where exactly are we gonna get a virgin in Oz?"
Suddenly Howell shot Ray Mukada a predatory look.
"Don't look at me!" he protested.
A shocked gasp from Sister Pete gave voice to the general feeling of surprise.
"You've had sex?" Howell leered, "With what?"
Warden Glynn poured another very large Scotch, and slumped back in his chair with a groan.
"What do you mean, 'with what'?" Ray snarled in a very un-priest-like manner. "Don't you mean 'with whom'?"
Howell considered the question for a moment, looked Ray up and down slowly, and then shook her head. "Nope."
"Why you..." Ray lunged at Howell, and was grabbed by Murphy before he reached the painful end of her nightstick.
"Why don't we all calm down, and try to work this out rationally?" Murphy suggested, still struggling with the angry priest. "This ain't getting' us nowhere."
"So, what we gonna do if we 'catch' this thing?" Howell sneered, "Put it in Unit X, the werewolf unit?"
Warden Glynn poured another drink, "This had to happen now, didn't it?" he groaned, "Had to happen six weeks before the election."
"Leo!" Sister Pete thumped her hand on the table irritably. "We have a potential disaster on our hands, and you're worried about elections? If this thing is what you say it is, and it starts biting people, we could be hip deep in lycanthropes before Christmas!"
Mineo gaped, "Fuck! I quit. I'm getting out of here."
"Mineo, you ain't going nowhere," Murphy sighed, "Check your contract. You can't quit."
"There's a werewolf clause in the contract?" Mineo said with astonishment.
"It was designed by lawyers, remember. They don't let nothin' slip by."
At that moment the door burst open, and a pale, worried looking man in uniform opened his mouth twice before any sound came out. "We, we just found a prisoner...dead," he shuddered, at last managing actual words.
"Dead, how?" Murphy asked with trepidation, "Shanked, gouged, sliced, hanged, nailed to the floor?"
"Eaten," the man replied before fainting.
Claire Howell sniffed, "Well, it's either the Bikers or the werewolf."
Warden Glynn glanced down at the remains and swallowed hard. It wasn't a pretty sight. All that was left was a foot, and a copy of 'Hustler' magazine.
"If he hadn't been eaten, I'd slap his ass in the hole," Howell said kicking at the foot.
"What?" Glynn skipped aside, as the foot slithered past, leaving a bloody trail behind it.
"These scumfucks know that skin mags are banned now," she explained. "Serves him fucking right. If he hadn't been holed up in the closet jerking off to this shit, he wouldn't have gotten chomped."
Glynn closed his eyes, and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'll pass on your condolences to his family, Claire. Do we know who it is yet?"
"Rodriguez," Murphy said, stepping over the foot.
"Holy fuck!" Howell wrinkled her nose, "Somebody needs to get that werewolf shots!"
Ray Mukada was saying a prayer over the foot, as Doctor Nathan arrived on the scene.
"I think you're too late to try CPR, Doc," Howell grinned, "But d'you think you could give us a guess as to cause of death?"
"I'm sorry," Dr Nathan chewed her lip, "This is my fault."
"You're a werewolf?" Sister Pete hissed.
"No!" Gloria Nathan continued," The prison was running out of money, so I agreed to take on a couple of subjects that were part of a government experiment. One was a lycanthrope, and he must have slipped out last night. I wondered why he didn't want breakfast?"
"Why wasn't I told about this?" Glynn gasped, "I am the Warden here!"
"It was need to know, Leo," Nathan explained.
"And I didn't need to know that we had a werewolf in the prison?"
"Not according to Governor Devlin, no," she sighed, "I guess that this experiment just got shut down. Damn!"
Leo Glynn shook his head, "How am I going to explain this to his family?" he said, grabbing the small plastic bag containing the foot of Hernandez Rodriguez. "It's not like they're going to get an option of an open casket!"
"Machinery accident?" Murphy suggested. "That's a mean potato slicer we got in the kitchen."
"I'll get my secretary to prepare a statement, I'm sure we'll come up with something. In the meantime," Glynn pushed the bag containing the foot into Gloria Nathan's arms, "I want that werewolf gone!"
As she walked away, she sighed deeply, "He's going to be so upset. He really liked it here. He felt so 'normal'."