Author’s Note:

I’d approached EliteFTS with the idea to submit a serial work of fiction that revolved around a powerlifting gym. Fortunately, for me especially, the editors were receptive to the idea and the result, of which you now have the second installment, isBIGHORN.” If you haven’t already, I recommend reading PART 1: THE PROWLER AND THE COMANCHE prior to sinking your fangs into PART 2.

I’ve always been a reader and a lover of the horror genre. When I ran the gym (BEAST”), often when closing the facility late in the evening, walking through the dark rear parking lot, I privately wondered how our members would work themselves out of a Stephen-King-Like situation (think the Mist” with barbells). Honestly, I often wonder how I would conduct myself in such a situation. The truth is we never really know how we’ll react until the monster emerges from the woods.

I hope if you take a few minutes to read it you’ll enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed writing it because I’ve had a blast so far.

As much as this is a work of fiction, it’s also been a pleasant trip down memory lane. I recently reminisced about the instances we were holed-up in the gym on snowy winter days, trying to keep warm while training; trying to keep the floors reasonably dry and lamenting how bad the heating bill was going to be—priceless memories, really. I wouldn’t trade them.

Please enjoy the story, preferably under a warm blanket, on a chilly October evening, with a hot cup of coffee nearby and, as always, please share the hell out of it.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


Together, Jon and Chris half dragged and half carried Owen back into the facility. Maureen (Mo) and Judith broke off from their training and emerged from the back room as soon as they heard the ruckus.

“Owen,” Mo said. “What the hell happened? He’s bleeding.”

“Jeff,” Owen moaned. “Jeff.”

“Get him in the back,” Jon said. “We’ve got to stop him from bleeding out.”

“What the fuck?” Will said, stepping down from the glute ham raise. “Where’s Erik and Jeff?”

“Erik’s coming,” Chris said. He turned to face the outside. “Hit it?” He screamed so I could hear. “Hit the door?”

“Yes,” I yelled, still behind the gym on my return. “Hit it!”

Chris punched the button to close the hydraulic overhead, setting the massive door in motion.

I ran and dove/rolled under the door just prior to it completely closing. I made it inside.


Slam—no sooner did it close, when something smashed into it, hard.

“What the?” Will whispered.


In the midst of the chaos, my mind drifted to an unpleasant memory. I was in my early twenties at a Night Club. I was drunk—shitfaced, really.

I got my ass kicked. When I say kicked, I mean I got merked. I was near blackout when elbow strikes to the back of my head nudged me closer to sobriety before ultimately tipping the scales and knocking me unconscious. The beating took place in the back parking lot. It was just after 1am. Prior to that lesson in humility, I thought I was the demolition man.

In stark contrast, overhead lights had rudely cut through the pulsating darkness. The club was closing. I peered around an emptying alcohol-soaked dance floor in a feeble attempt to locate friends who, I came to find out, left hours earlier. My eyes struggled to adjust to the light—pupils constricting. Bouncers ushered me out the rear door with the rest of the patrons where I stumbled into a cold and cruel evening.

I loitered in the lot, trying to decide whether to call for a ride home or to hoof it when a melee erupted around me—guys shoving and throwing hands; body parts slamming into car hoods. Women, standing around the perimeter, were screaming. Instinctively and foolishly, I made my way towards the crowd, not certain if I was going to break it up or join in on the fray. Upon arrival, I got hammered in the back of the head.

I stumbled forward over a curb and landed face first on the grass, unable to catch myself, which was strange, because I was still athletic at that point in my life but I was so damn drunk.

My anonymous assailant expertly took my back. My body was twisted and I couldn’t get to my feet. I knew I was fucked when he started raining down elbows to the back of my head.

Slam, to the back of the head.

He was attacking me with a controlled cadence. There was almost a rhythmic quality to the strikes. I was doing my best to cover up but it was to no avail. I remember a distinctive sequence where I was thinking:

Here comes another.

Slam, to the back of the head.

Here comes another; get to your feet, damn it.

Slam, to the back of the head.

Here comes another.


I startled back to reality.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Will said.

Watching the hydraulic door slowly lower itself closed had felt like an eternity. We wouldn’t last long if a couple of those things followed us inside. Without the benefit of planning, there was nowhere to hide. For the near term, we were safely sealed inside the confines of the gym but we couldn’t be sure how long the doors would hold.

“Check the land line,” Chris yelled.

“It’s dead,” Jon said. “Nothing.” He slammed down the receiver and reemerged from the office.

Mo had moved Owen to the back room (the “Cardio Room”), which was practically devoid of equipment. It functioned as an open space where we could conduct dynamic warmups and box jumps, as well as prowler pushes and sled work when the weather wouldn’t cooperate. Heavy, wooden jump boxes/jerk boxes and several massive tires lined the walls.

Mo attended to Owen. He was shivering and Will suggested he's going into shock. Mo had wrapped a Monster Mini resistance band around his thigh to function as a tourniquet. She covered him with a moving blanket in an attempt to keep him warm.

“A kangaroo with horns and rows of sharp teeth killed Jeff,” he whispered into Mo’s ear. “It was real—real,” Owen repeated before finally slipping out of consciousness.

“Tell me again what’s out there,” Will demanded. He was pacing the floor; his fists were balled with anger and frustration.

“We already told you,” Jon said. There was a touch of anger in his voice as well. He and Jeff had grown up together. It was Jon that initially introduced him to the gym. “I don’t know.”


Will smacked the overhead door with his palm in retaliation. “Tell me again.”

“Just tell him, Jon,” I said, separately making subtle eye contact with Chris, a signal to keep his cool—at least for now. We were in a tough predicament and had to keep our heads and try to keep everyone calm or things could devolve in a hurry.

“I don’t know,” Jon repeated. “Like I said, it’s some kind of Bighorn sheep with sharp teeth and claws. I’ve never seen anything like it before, not even in the comics. It’s like a Ram from hell.”

“It stands on its hind legs like a kangaroo,” Chris added. “Probably seven or eight feet tall—you ever see that YouTube video of the kangaroo that’s jacked as fuck?”


“Jeff?” Judith questioned. “He is gone?” Her tone suggested she was seeking affirmation rather than expressing concern.

“Yes,” I said. “He’s gone. Owen tried to save him but he was too late. We were too late. It happened so fast, honestly, I’m not sure there was anything we could do. It hit him like a ton of bricks.”

I turned back to Will. “I know all this shit sounds crazy. Hell, at first I thought it was a velociraptor, straight out of Jurassic Park. Owen thinks it’s a kangaroo and I get it. I really get it. All I can tell you is there are at least three of them out there, probably more, and they’re fast as fuck.”

 kangaroo dinosaur


“You know what?” Chris said. “They look like Tauntauns—you know, those snow lizards they rode in Star Wars—except these things are leaner and their horns are bigger.”

“Star Wars?”

“Yeah, you know, The Empire Strikes Back.”

“So you’re a fucking Jedi now?” Will asked. “What are we?—A part of the Rebel Alliance?—You’re telling me some fucking Bighorn sheep—some Star Wars’ Tauntaun is running on its hind legs and slamming its head, complete with horns, into the overhead door.”

“You hear it, don’t you?” Jon said. “You saw Owen’s leg—the blood.”

We stood in momentary silence when one of them slammed into the door to the left of the overhead. The entire frame shook and loose pieces of sheetrock tumbled to the rubberized floor.

Judith screamed, “They are going to get in here. The end is here.”

Unlike the overhead, I wasn’t sure the door could survive another couple of hits without additional bolstering. The door itself was metal but I thought the whole jamb would give way.

“Come on,” I said, motioning to Will. We both put a shoulder into the door, my body already beaded in sweat.

“Oh this is great,” Will said. “Just how I wanted to spend a Sunday night.”

“Go in the back room and grab the six-hundred-pound tire,” I said to Chris and Jon. “Hurry!”

“I think if we can rest the tire against the door and the jamb. It should buy us some additional time if nothing else.”


Even with us lending our weight in opposition, the whole works felt as though it shifted a half and inch inward after each impact before we were able to force it back to its initial position.

“Let’s go, guys,” Will yelled. “We’ve got a situation here—there are some unfriendlies outside trying desperately hard to get to know us better.”


The guy passed out under a moving blanket in the back room—the guy fighting for his life —was our first customer. Owen was a Fireman. He’d seen one of our videos on YouTube and was looking for a gym where he could toss around some heavy weights.

I remember the first time he walked in the door. We’d asked him, what are you training today? Heavy lower, he responded … and probably some heavy upper. I gave him a look and he just smiled and giggled. That was Owen to a T; everything was always heavy, including his deload day. He once maxed during a deadlift session and announced, following the lift, that it was his deload week.

On upper body day, he wanted to do everything (in the same training session): flat bench, board presses, floor presses, and heavy dumbbell work. We were always working to dial Owen back. To teach him that recovery matters and sometimes less is more in the long run. With time, he grew into a solid competitive powerlifter.


“Maybe you should make a run for it,” Judith said. “You’re all sitting ducks in here. They know you’re hiding and they are going to get in here.”

“Judith, we wouldn’t last a minute out there,” I said. I was pushing on the door so hard my back was cramping. Sweat was pouring down my brow and burning my eyes. “What the fuck?” I asked Will. “Go see what the hell is taking them so long. I should be able to hold them off.”

Will flashed me a questioning look before yielding his post. He turned and sprinted toward the back room.

“Let’s go,” Will hollered.

About holding the door alone, I was wrong

Shortly after Will left, I was met with a powerful impact.


The door jamb didn’t give away but the deadbolt did. I was sent sprawling into the heavy dumbbell rack. My head struck a dusty 150-pounder. The door stood open. For a second there was silence, only the low buzzing of the outside spotlights broke the din. Thousands of insects were in erratic flight under the lights. Then a Bighorn leaped through the door and into the gym.

The stench of the animal immediately filled the room. It smelled like an unattended petting zoo.

Judith screamed and huddled inside the power rack closest to the back wall. “I told you,” she said. “I told you they would come. It’s your time.”

It focused on the tire Chris and Jon had rolled into the room. The massive rubber implement functioned as a shield, keeping it from getting too close to them. The Bighorn ignored me as I crawled back to the door. I slammed it shut to prevent any more of them from coming inside.

tire flip big horn

“Now what? Now what?” Chris yelled. “Jesus H. Christ!” He continued to ward off the monster off by shifting behind the massive tire.

“I’ll tell you what,” Will said. He’d popped around the right side of the tire brandishing a ten-pound steel mace. “See how you like this fucker. Rock and roll time.”

Instead of swinging wildly, Will deftly jabbed it at the monster. Using a double-jab, he solidly connected the heavy end of the mace with its muzzle and then retreated behind the tire with the others.

The Bighorn turned from them back to the door and consequently shifted its focus to me. I was sprawled on the floor, half sitting and half leaning against the door, my head still ringing from the impact with the dumbbell. I was a sitting duck. Blood poured from its thick nostrils courtesy of Will’s mace strikes and thick, rancid slobber dripped from its maw as it prepared to pounce.

It was going to rip me apart in the corner of my own facility.

I instinctively raised my arms in a strong defensive posture, futile given my position on the floor but I had neither the time nor the inclination to struggle to my feet. It exploded toward me and, just prior to impact, it stopped as someone pounced on its back.


Owen had somehow sprinted from the back room. Using his still good leg, he propelled himself off the heavy dumbbell rack and landed on the Bighorn’s back. He had the tomahawk again and this time, instead of attempting to strike with it, he held it around the monster’s neck in an effort to choke the beast out. 


“Open the door,” Owen yelled, as I was finally able to scramble back to my feet.

He looked like a combination of rodeo bull rider and Luke Skywalker riding a Tauntaun.

I opened the door and just before it disappeared into the darkness of night, carrying Owen with him, Will was able to get off another shot with the mace. He cracked it in the spine and almost sent it sprawling forward. The blow effectively hobbled the beast.

For his effort, Will pulled his calf muscle and fell to the floor in front of the tire.

The Bighorn snorted, spewing me with bloody mucous, and awkwardly stumbled out the door, taking a parting swipe at me before exiting the facility, Owen still in tote. I felt its claw whisk across the bridge of my nose, removing a chunk of flesh.

I slammed the door closed behind them and for a moment we all remained frozen in place. Blood poured down my nose, covering the lower half of my face, like a crimson mask.

“No,” Mo screamed—her face, decked with a look of horror. “You shut the door with Owen out there. You shut Owen out with those things.”

The memory of Mo’s look haunts me to this day. It was an amalgam of horror and disappointment.

“I didn’t,” I said, but I knew I had. It was instinctive. Owen saved my life and my self-preservation instincts took over and I shut him out.

Exterior 2

“Open the door,” Mo yelled. Without warning, she slapped me across the face.

“I didn’t. I didn’t mean to… ,” I said. I stood stunned.

Mo pushed past me and ripped the door open.

“Owen,” she screamed into the dark abyss. “Owen!”

At first, there was nothing, then suddenly Owen was standing there, like a specter. He emerged from the darkness, pale as a ghost, but still alive. There was no sign of the Bighorn.

“Owen,” Mo screeched. She embraced him around the neck and pulled him inside the facility. He was covered in the animal’s rancid musk but Mo ignored the odor.

“Good job, Son,” Chris said. “You saved our lives.” He placed his hand on Owen’s shoulder.

Jon quickly rolled the massive tire to the front of the facility and propped it against the door and the jamb at about a thirty-degree angle to the floor. The bottom of the tire propped against the dumbbell rack and was secure.

Chris helped Will up from the floor.

“That should hold us for the time being,” Jon said. He turned to Owen. “What happened out there?”

“The giant kangaroo turned the corner and collapsed,” Owen said, before almost falling to one knee. “I think I crushed its windpipe with Jeff’s tomahawk.” He still held onto the weapon. “Will really hurt it with that mace shot. It took a lot of fight out of him.”

“Yeah that strike was good enough for a fourth-place finish but, of course, I fucked up my leg,” Will said. “What else did you see out there?”

“I don’t have good news,” Owen said. “I saw at least a dozen of them out there. They’re milling around the perimeter of the gym, trying to find other ways inside. I’m tired. I need to rest. Can you help me back to the blanket?” He looked to Mo.

“I’m sorry O,” I said. “I’m sorry I slammed the door on you.”

“It’s okay. You were protecting everybody else.” He looked me straight in the eye and repeated, “It’s okay. I knew what I was doing.”

Chris and Mo helped Owen get back under the moving blanket.

Jon walked over to the rear power rack and held a hand out to Judith, who was in a trance-like state. “It’s okay now,” he said, lending his hand and pulling her back to her feet. He held her until she came to and whispered, “You’re all going to die—all of you.”

We’re all going to die? Jon thought, all of us? He looked into Judith’s eyes but said nothing at first; he simply shook his head. “Don’t think like that,” he said finally and, while he couldn’t be certain, he thought he detected a smirk. “What the hell is with you, Judith?”

“You okay?” Will asked me. “You have a nice gash in the side of your head and your face is a mess.”

“Yeah, my nose is nothing but my head took a hard whack against the dumbbells. I’m more upset with myself than anything,” I said.

“For what? Shutting the door?”


“Man, you heard Owen. There are another ten to twelve of those things out there. If you didn’t shut the door, they would’ve gotten inside here. You did what needed to be done at the time. Don’t worry about Mo. She’ll come around.”

“Maybe,” I said. “I wish I felt better about it.”

“Owen knew he was signing up for a one-way trip as soon as he told you to open the door. When you think about it, reopening the door was probably the real mistake and we survived that so no harm was done.”

“How about you?” I asked. “What’s up with the leg?”

“Not too good; I definitely did something. Luckily, I won’t have to sprint for my life anytime soon,” he said. We actually smiled at his healthy dose of sarcasm. We both knew we were in deep water.


“Oh boy,” Will said, as one of the Bighorns slammed into the overhead door, while a second slammed into the now tire-secured door. “They’re doubling up now. These bastards are persistent.” 

“What do you think?” I asked Will.

“I think one of us should take first watch at the door. Maybe take a perch on top of that tire, just as a precaution. Everyone else should try and get some rest until tomorrow morning. Then tomorrow morning we take a quick inventory of what we have available here—weapons and food.”

“I can tell you right now there isn’t much food,” I said. “We’re all going to be forced into ‘Operation be Less Fat.’”

“Fortunately we have water,” Will said. “Plus, I’ve got to tell you something but let’s not share it with the others just yet.”

“What’s up?”

“I have some weapons out in my truck. I’ve got a rifle and a crossbow with about a dozen arrows. Plus I have a couple of good-sized hunting knives.”

“Yeah, but …”


Mo came into the room carrying a damp cloth. She began wiping the blood off my face.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“For what?—You were right to say what you said.”

“No, I wasn’t. I totally overreacted. It was a crazy situation. You just reacted and did what needed to be done.”

“I’ll tell you what, that smack didn’t exactly tickle. You pack a wallop.” I grinned.

“Sorry.” She rested her head on my shoulder and whispered, “I’m scared for my kids. I mean, is this an isolated event? I doubt it, right? Do you think they’re everywhere?”

“I just don’t know. It’s all so surreal. I’m sure your boys are fine. We are the ones isolated. Go get some sleep and we’ll come up with a plan in the morning.”


It was going to be a long night.