Unknown6

~~~

The interior of the van was lined with industrial plastic wrap. All the rear windows were spray painted black to dissuade the overly curious from peeking in. A steel mesh partition separated the main cab from the rest of the van with a small door that remained closed.

He laid Janet’s unconscious body on the small child-sized mattress, then went for the red tool box pushed up toward the front of a built-in storage container. The container was as long as the van was wide and held various painter’s items such as four empty paint cans, rollers, and a small step ladder. These were all cleverly fastened to a false bottom that Russell could lift up with just enough room to store his tool box, the mattress, the plastic wrap, and of course… a body.

Before each kill, Russell prepared the van in this way. It was simple, easy to dispose of the mess, and could easily be modified if he suspected he was being followed for any reason. He could quickly tear everything down and toss it all into the secret compartment.

Several days before each kill, Russell purchased various colors of paint and spilled the contents of the cans throughout the back of the van (especially the color red, just in case the heavy plastic was ripped and blood leaked through). He would allow the paint to dry to complete the illusion of a painter’s van and the sharp smell of the various paints would cover any unexpected odors of dead flesh, especially in the hot summer months.

Russell had never had an opportunity to test his clever illusion for he was always the careful driver, never going too fast or too slow. He believed in being prepared for the worst, and since the van was where he conducted a lot of his early surveillance of intended prey, he had to be prepared. Also, if anything unexpected ever came up during a kill moment, he needed a back-up place to take his victims to complete his missions. The van served as such a place.

Janet moved sluggishly atop the mattress as Russell quickly opened the tool box and removed a roll of duct tape. He then stepped outside the van and closed the exterior doors to conceal the ripping sound of the duct tape as he carefully measured out the strips he would need and lined them up on the inside of the doors. With the efficiency of an experienced killer, Russell re-entered the van, gently closed the doors and turned Janet on her side. He then chose the strips he needed and bound her hands behind her back before carefully rolling her back over, as her arms sank within the mattress. Janet began to stir from her sudden discomfort while Russell took another strip and roughly placed it across her mouth.

Her eyes came open before she knew what was happening. Janet began to resist.

He already had her legs pinned beneath his own weight as Russell returned to the tool box, retrieving the large hunting knife concealed within.

Stick it to her, boss! Fuck that troublesome bitch for all the time she’s wasted tonight!

With the other one driving him to the brink of madness, to the edge of complete and mindless savagery, Russell roughly cut his shirt of her chest, slicing it with the knife right up the middle. He placed the knife tip beneath the center of her black bra and snapped it cleanly away, revealing her womanhood like some dark offering. He tore the rest away and the savage took over, until there became no distinction between his pelvic thrusts and the knife blade that struck her chest again…and again…

And there was blood…so much soothing, warm, intoxicating blood…

~~~

He continued to stand in the roadway with his eyes closed, facing the direction of the van.

Yes, Russell could see it all so very clearly. For this was always the way of the beast that tormented his thoughts, always demeaning the sacrifice, cheapening its meaning and stealing from the higher purpose.

He was repulsed by the exhilaration that the fantasy alone induced within his flesh. He could feel the warm, hard knife within his pants crying out for her, wanting to dig in to her flesh. He had to stop and allow the moment to pass as he waited for his pulse rate to calm, and for those animal cravings to quiet down within him.

Russell opened his eyes, and seemed surprised to find Janet in his arms. The pain in her ankle had caused her to pass out. He’d picked her up and… battled another monster, and won.

His way was not the answer—not any longer—not ever again.

You are a fool, boss; a damn fool!

“So be it,” Russell said, satisfied by the displeasure of that beast within.

He had reclaimed control and that meant something entirely new. He looked forward to arriving at the barn.

The van, and all that it meant, was now long behind him.

Perhaps, like Janet, who struggled with her own demons of an abusive marriage and found a victory, he too might taste freedom.

This changes nothing, boss… you’ll see.

Russell carried her unconscious body across the waist-high tall grass, which slowed down the monsters enough to reach the old barn.

By the time they arrived, the creatures had cleared the woods, spreading out like a brush fire of death across the field beneath the coming dawn. In less than half an hour, they would reach and overwhelm what was left of the McKinnley farmstead.

The remains of ancient red paint had peeled away from long weathered wood, held together by rusted nails and metal; the pride of craftsmanship from another age still defiantly making a stand long after purpose became obsolete. The barn doors screamed on old hinges as Russell entered the musty smelling darkness of the abandoned stables. Once inside, he quickly closed the doors as the early morning light penetrated the cracks between the wood planks, as dust particles danced within the beams of soft light. From where he stood, Russell could see that the loft was still intact as was the fold down ladder that would get them up safely. Hopefully, the advantage of higher ground would protect them and keep them hidden while the monsters simply moved on in search of easier game.

If not, they still had the higher ground. It would have to be enough. They desperately needed rest.

“Put me down,” Janet said uncomfortably.

Ungrateful whore.

“Certainly,” Russell said, gently lowering her on to her one good foot. “We’re almost there,” he advised, nodding toward the loft. “Can you climb that?”

“I’ll manage,” she snipped, feeling weary of her own helplessness. “Just get me to the ladder and I’ll make it up there.”

She started up the rickety ladder with Russell right beneath her for support. Russell could not help staring up at her well-defined ass as her black panties rode up into her crack.

Bet you’re missing the van now, boss. There’s still time for a romp in the hay.

“Hey, show’s over,” Janet hissed, frustratingly aware of his eyes caressing her bottom in the half-light.

The loft was small, but dry, providing a little warmth. Unraveled bales of hay littered the floor and Janet quickly made a nest to cover her over exposed legs as she positioned herself up against a wall.

Russell noticed the small hay door, and just above it, a long rope attached to a pulley system that still looked functional. He then pulled up the retractable ladder that folded over neatly at the edge of the loft.

“If they get in the barn, they won’t be able to get to us up here,” Russell said, sitting down across from Janet, but far enough away to make her feel more comfortable.

Now, he knew the questions would come.

The loft was much darker than below, concealing them both in partial shadow. Faint cracks of light shot across their forms, making them appear to each other as shapeless pieces of incomplete puzzles.

Janet could see that the stranger sat cross-legged with his elbows resting upon his knees, as he blew into his hands for warmth. She could see more scars running across his chest and stomach areas partially exposed within the slats of light and shadow that fell across his body. Russell’s face fell within the shadows, making him appear much more sinister than before. Although he’d never indicated that she was, Janet felt like a prisoner; the unspoken intent had been there all along, just not fully realized until now.

Feeling increasingly uncomfortable, she asked, “What are those things out there and why are they after us?”

Good luck with that one, boss. I was hoping for something a little simpler, like, “What’s that bulge between your legs, or are you just happy to see me?”

“They are the agents of opportunity,” he answered without hesitation. Russell thought that the limited light shining through and illuminating her eyes only made Janet look more beautiful. It was ironic, in a way, since the rest of her was irrelevant. It had always been about the eyes-

Although the savage within would disagree.

“Okay, that is not an answer,” Janet said. “That tells me jack shit about what those things are and why the hell you were in my fucking house.”

“It’s not the answer you want to hear, but it is the perfect answer nonetheless. The rest is trivial; the rest is irrelevant.”

She did not like where this was going at all. “That bit about investigating my husband… that was all bullshit right?”

“I came to save you, Janet Schuler. I came to… rescue you from the darkness that I found within your eyes. I am drawn to that darkness and I understand the suffering it creates. You were drowning in a sea of torment, enslaved by an evil man and a worthless life.”

“How dare you speak to me like that! You don’t even know me-”

“You are Janet Schuler, mother of none, daughter of sorrow. You once lived in the shadow of a monster who would not love you, no matter what you did. That monster saw in you something he could possess with ease, and so he took it. He took you, had you, and then spit you out of his mouth, when the taste of you repulsed him. Gerald chewed you up like a piece of gum, then discarded your flavorless goo like he used to do when he was a kid, and just stuck that chewed up mess beneath the desk, next to all the rest. Then, he simply found new gum with new flavors, and left you there beneath that desk. You grew hard there and unfit for anything but the trash. Except that no one throws old gum like that away, because no one touches what’s become nasty beneath the desk.”

“Shut up! Shut your fucking mouth! You’ve no right to speak his name… no right at all!” She was so angry, the words failed her. Janet just sat there

(like a piece of worthless gum)

and said nothing.

“I said you were, but not anymore, my love.” He then stood up and raised his arms wide. “Just look how far you’ve come tonight! You’ve spent your whole life afraid to live, but now, you are ALIVE!”

“Please, sit back down. You’re frightening me.”

Russell moved in closer, smiled, and said, “That is my purpose, my love. I am Terror; I am Fear. I am the sum of all that is required, of all that is necessary, to make those who have lost their way find themselves again… I help those who have let the darkness of this world steal the life right out of their eyes rediscover the fire once more. Janet Shuler, you have fought and fought and now… you are free!” He held his arms out wide for dramatic effect. He was openly crying, moved by the profound and intimate moment they now shared. Russell felt as though an incredible burden was suddenly lifted; he no longer had to carry the truth of his purpose alone… he had her now. He had Janet. And together they would heal each other from the madness.

“I… I don’t understand…” Janet wanted to be down in the field, surrounded by the mindless creatures that only wanted to feed upon her flesh. The crazy man who stood before her made them seem less strange… less frightening.

Russell looked confused. “Can’t you see me, Janet? Don’t you know who I am? You must know.”

He could hear the laughter of the other one. Of course she knows you, boss. Just look at her! Even now she plays victim, even now when you’ve spared her pathetic life, she still knows more than you, that her death is coming. You can’t stop what we are, boss. You can’t fucking save the living by offering life! You can’t give her that… you can’t give anyone that.

Russell lowered his arms.

“I am that Boogeyman that comes to make life valuable again! I have come to make you cleave to that life, embrace it, fight for it-”

“You’re fucking insane!” Janet finally snapped. “What the hell is the matter with you? I… I don’t know how you know so much about… how you could possibly know what you know about my life… but that just makes you downright scary! Can’t you see how that makes you look right now?”

Russell took a step back. Her eyes were still full of fear, full of darkness. It wasn’t supposed to be like this… not now. “I… I’m your salvation, Janet. Can’t you feel it? Can’t you feel how free you’ve become?”

Janet covered her mouth with two shaking hands. She didn’t know how to respond to this maniac.

He looked into her eyes and let his shoulders slump. She was lost to him. He might as well had been speaking from the other end of a long, dark tunnel.

They can only understand freedom, boss, by delivering them to the other side… there’s nothing but death here. There’s absolutely… NOTHING!

Russell dropped to his knees before her and stared pitifully into the sawdust.

Janet was at a complete loss. She tried to comfort the sad, deranged man. “Look, okay, you’re my salvation. Whatever you want. Let’s just stop talking for a while and get some sleep. When we’ve had some rest, we can talk- ”

It was quick. Russell reached in his boot and grabbed the utility knife he’d taken from the garage. Before she understood what was happening, he slit her throat open with the utility knife.

Janet’s eyes went wide with shock as she tried to speak and grabbed her bloody throat.

Russell let out a heart-wrenching sob and pulled Janet to him. He embraced her fiercely. “Just let go, my love. It’s all right now.”

He held her until the struggling ceased, and her body went limp.

“You are free now, my love,” he soothingly whispered in her ear. “You are liberated from the darkness that tried to finish you off tonight, the darkness that failed at every quarter to come and take what you fought so valiantly to keep. You’re free to go in peace, while that fire remains in your possession. Go now, my love. Be still.”

He held her in the darkness, letting the warm blood of her release pour down his chest. Russell had never felt so alive, so fulfilled, so joyful. He continued to let the tears flow freely.

Both he and the other one… were satisfied.

When the creatures reached the barn, they smelled the blood, which made them manic. They smashed through decrepit barn planks letting in more of the morning.

Russell gently placed Janet’s body down and pushed open the hay loft doors. A crimson fire lit the sky and dispelled the darkness of the loft.

He picked her body up and sat with it in his arms before the dawn, allowing Janet one last sunrise. He gently stroked her hair with his bloody hands and let the euphoric moment seize him.

Just below, the flesh-craving monsters howled in frustration, unable to reach the loft.

Russell ignored them.

Irrelevant.

After a few moments, the other one gently intervened.

That was a beautiful death, boss. I must admit, you have style.

“Thank you. Yes, it was beautiful, wasn’t it?”

It sure was.

“And now she is free.”

She sure is. Now, about our other little problem… may I take over now, boss?

“If you must.”

I’ll need the body.

“That’s fine. Janet’s gone now. Do what you have to do.”

Very well, boss.

“Yes, all is very well, isn’t it?”

Indeed.

~~~

A blood red, indifferent sun broke the barrier of the horizon setting the clouds on fire. The sky exploded pink and red across the morning casting a faded reddish hue over McKinnley field.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

What remained of vocal cords mixed with years of decay, united in horrific screams of hunger and frustration that reverberated across the fiery dawn, like a declaration, an omen of the hell to come as the creatures that once resided in the silent ground of King Memorial Cemetery, now voiced their inhuman outrage. Relocated from the nightmares of small children, they now assembled before the front of an old barn, crawling over one another, reaching upward with long dead limbs at the bare and bloody feet that swayed just beyond their reach.

Two-hundred creatures formed a disorganized mob around the fresh corpse of Janet Schuler that hung from the hay beam, suspended by a rope beneath its arms from the old pulley system used to transport hay up and through the loft doors.

Her lifeless blood continued to drip downward upon the faces of the dead that drank greedily, fiercely, lustfully. Before the day was through, they would find more blood.

As for Russell Bower, he disappeared among the dispersing shadows that fled from the dawn, back into the dark corners where shadows waited patiently for night to release them once more.

As for the day, it now belonged to them…

The Dead.

~~~

Next Segment (8-1):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/chapter-8-1-state-of-emergency/

Previous Segment (7-3):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/chapter-7-3-demon-night-2/

~~~

If you’re enjoying Don’t Feed The Dark so far, please consider voting for it on Top Web Fiction to help increase its visibility and draw in more potential readers. No registration is required, just a click next to my listed title. You can vote for it every 7 days. Every lit bit helps. Thanks for your support and for reading :)
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~~~

Part Two-Southbound Nightmares

________________________________________________
“Chapter 7-4: Demon Night 2” Copyright © 2014 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark” Copyright © 2014 Scott Scherr.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission by the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Comments
  1. Connie Marchetto says:

    Editing correction – in the passage of Russell’s imagined kill of Janet, that’s WAIST-HIGH (referring to the grass height compared to the man’s height), not waste-high as printed in this manuscript. I’ve noticed other errors but felt compelled to point iut this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Thanks for the catch, Connie. I’ve fixed it. I always appreciate any constructive feedback, whether it’s typos, inconsistencies in content, or just anything that sounds strange from the reader’s perspective. I try my best to catch what I can but there’s always something I miss. Feel free to point out anything along the way. I don’t mind. I consider this serial version of DFTD a cleaner draft, but not the final ebook/print ready edition. Thanks again :)

      Like

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