Unknown165

~~~

The storm that had been threatening the past few days finally revealed its might at the edges of dawn.

Gina stood watch by the window, waiting for the next flash of lightning to grant her a glimpse into the dark woods at the rear of the boathouse. The hard rain struck the river, creating a steady splashing sound that made it difficult to hear anything else behind it. Surely, even zombies knew better than to be out in a storm like this?

She wasn’t taking any chances.

Her thoughts were a muddled mess of what now seemed like ancient memories of family and friends—the people she took for granted for years that were probably all dead several states away. She thought of Tony and her pathetic life as a former stripper and trying to save up enough money to simply get away from it all. And now, the bitter irony remained: she was farther away from that old life than she ever could’ve imagined. What she wouldn’t give to get it all back and have another shot at making strained relationships work; to heal the differences that put a wedge between herself and her remaining family so many years ago, causing her to move away and never look back…

“It’s all gone. All of it,” she said sadly to the indifferent rain.

“Sounds like you’re visiting a dangerous place,” Doug said, surprising her from behind.

“Damn, do you ever sleep?”

“Not since we lost the playoffs in 2005.” Doug joined her at the window and stared out into the twilight. “I think I’m going to miss that more than anything. Not so much playing the game, but knowing that there might not be another game to watch… for a very long time.”

She smiled and said, “It’s hard saying goodbye, isn’t it? I don’t think any of us have had the time to come to terms with all we’ve lost. I never realized how much I really had until it was gone.”

Doug nodded. “You know, they may still be out there somewhere, wondering where you are right now and praying that you’re safe.”

“I can’t afford to hold on to that,” she said. “We’re just barely getting by and trying to reach the next day in one piece… it’s too hard to look any farther than that without wanting to just lie down and throw in the towel. Know what I mean?”

“I do,” he said. “Just don’t leave it all behind… save a part of it. You may need that little bit of the old world to hold on to one day, especially if you find yourself out there alone.”

“I dread the thought.” Then she shifted gears. “So what about that strange transmission last night?”

“To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought. Our plate’s pretty full at the moment. Ask me again when we’re sitting on that island beach.”

Gina nodded.

Sensing she needed a little more, he added, “It is encouraging to know that others are still out there. I guess that’s enough for me right now.”

That seemed to settle the matter as they both drifted off to the sound of the rain.

Doug smiled, staring at the dark sky, and finally said, “Well, looks like we’ll finally get a long, hot shower in this morning.”

She rolled her eyes at the thought. “Can Frank navigate in weather like this?”

“He seems to think so.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a folded map placed in a large zip-locked bag. “Here, take this before I forget. Keep it safe.”

“I don’t want it. That belongs to you and Greg.”

“Stop being so damn stubborn for once. It’s just a precaution. Besides, I’ve got the thing practically memorized by now. Just keep it in your pack and forget about it, if it makes you feel better.”

“It won’t, but I will.” She took the map.

He looked at her hard and asked, “You ready for this?”

“Are you?” she countered.

Doug snorted with a smile and said, “I’m going to go wake the others.” He started away.

“Just so you know…”

Doug turned.

“She’s coming, or I’m staying.”

He looked puzzled. “Meredith?”

“Yes.”

Doug shook his head and laughed. “Damn near forgot about that. Of course she’s coming.”

Gina looked surprised.

“And if anyone has a problem with that… I’ll be staying too.” He gave her a wink.

She smiled. “You know, for a bossy prick, you’re still alright in my book.”

He returned the smile and said, “I’m just having another weak moment is all. You just go on remembering what a bossy prick I am, and we’ll get along just fine.”

~~~

They gathered their gear and reluctantly departed the boathouse shortly after dawn. The sun briefly made an appearance, leaving a blood-streaked sky in its wake before being swallowed up beneath the roof of thunderheads that hung low on the horizon. They were soaked in minutes, but soldiered on, following Greg’s lead down the narrow bank of the Grand River.

The plan was simple: Pass through Fairport Harbor undetected; reach the main public marina at the mouth of the river where boaters who didn’t own riverfront properties had opted to lease a dock; find a boat with a full tank of fuel; then locate the main office where the keys were kept.

If they were extremely lucky, they’d find a boat moored to a private dock along the way with its keys still in the ignition. Perhaps someone trying to flee to the lake that never made it. It was a grim possibility to hope for, but they hoped for it anyway.

So far, they hadn’t seen any movement out in this weather.

“Maybe the rain’s maskin’ our scent,” Greg reasoned.

Doug wasn’t convinced. He moved close to Meredith and asked, “Are you… sensing anything out here?”

Meredith looked troubled. “I sense the same thing I’ve sensed since we first traveled the abandoned railroad tracks. They’re out there, but it’s like background noise when they’re farther out… I expected to sense them much closer by now… it’s very odd.”

“Shit,” Doug said. “I didn’t need to ask you for that. Something’s definitely…off. It’s like the absence of those dead bastards is actually worse than running right into them.”

“Agreed,” Meredith said. “I’ll keep you posted.”

Doug nodded.

They turned a bend in the river that opened up on the first of the residential docks. What they found was disheartening.

“Dear, God, what happened here?” Stephen whispered.

They counted at least twenty-five docks scattered intermittently on both sides of the river, stretching ahead of them for a quarter-mile. Most of them still had boats moored. All of the vessels were completely submerged in water, leaving only their main masts standing above the waterline acting as boat tombstones above watery graves.

“Who… Who would do this?” Amanda asked, letting her frustration out. “Why would anyone take the fucking time… this is bullshit! Fucking vandals?”

“Sabotage,” Frank said.

They all turned his way.

He gave them a grave look. “Someone obviously didn’t want anyone to leave.”

“Oh that’s fucking great!” Charlie said. “We should turn around now!”

“No! We keep going,” Doug said. “They couldn’t have had the time to sink all of them. Let’s get to the marina. Could just be an isolated incident.”

“And just who are ‘They’?” Gina whispered, drawing her gun.

They continued down river, and found more of the same. The closer they got to the marina, the more boat traffic they discovered. Several boats lay dead directly in the channel now. Some were sunk as before, others looked like they’d been set ablaze—hulls blackened, decks completely charred.

Not a single one left untouched.

Doug turned to Meredith again. “Anything?”

“No. Sorry. It’s the same as before.”

They entered a commercial district. Several local shops and building started coming in to view on both sides of the river. The bank ended just below a boardwalk. A single flight of wooden stairs presented them a choice.

“We’re close,” Greg said. “Marina’s on the other side of the boardwalk. We can’t go beneath it without a swim, and the current is stronger on the other side by the lake… good way to get smashed up against somethin’. We could risk it. Your call.”

“Everyone up,” Doug said. “Stay together. Stay quiet. Keep watching everything. We’re almost there now.”

He silently prayed that the marina was left alone.

Everything was drawing closer. They passed a bait-and-tackle shop, a small restaurant, a dry cleaners, a café, a jet-ski rental building. They watched every window, every alley, and waited with dread for the moment every door would swing wide open, letting out the dead that lurked just out of sight.

The rain continued to fall relentlessly, conspiring with everything unseen to drown out all other sounds but the pitter-patter of raindrops striking rooftops.

“We’re being watched,” Marcus declared.

Frank turned and said, “I felt it too. Doug, something’s wrong about this place.”

“Keep going,” Doug said. “Nothing can be done about it out here in the open.”

They moved as quickly and quietly as possible. By now, all weapons were drawn. They could all feel it now: the trepidation that came right before something was about to go terribly wrong.

“Wait!” Stephen said. “Listen!”

“Everyone, get down!” Doug barked.

It was faint, almost drowned out by the rain, but they could all hear it now: A muffled hum coming from somewhere ahead of them,

“Sounds like a boat engine,” Charlie said. “Shit! Someone’s getting ready to leave!”

“Greg, what’s over there?” Doug asked, pointing ahead and off toward the right at several large white structures set farther back behind a chain link fence.

“I believe those are storage hangers. That’s part of the marina. I think there for storin’ boats in the winter months. That’s the backside of the property, which means the docks are just on the other side.”

“Let’s move!” Doug barked.

They reached the fence that crossed where the boardwalk ended. A big sign was posted on an eight-foot tall motorized gate:

PROPERTY OF FAIRPORT HARBOR MARINA
NO TRESPASSING

The humming was much louder now.

“Let’s just climb the fucking thing!” Charlie said.

“Wait,” Greg said. “Let me try somethin’ first.” Greg grabbed the chain link gate and began pulling it to the right. It began to slide open. “It’s electronic. No power means nothin’ to keep it locked. It defaults to manual mode. Help me slide it open. She’s sluggish.”

Frank and Doug grabbed the gate and they slid it all the way open.

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” Doug barked anxiously.

They moved into the hanger area, crossing a parking lot that took them directly toward a single aisle between several large structures. They could already see Lake Erie appearing on the opposite end of the aisle.

“We’re so damn close!” Greg said excitedly. “Docks are just through here! I can see at least one mast already.”

They reached the aisle and started moving past the hangers—twelve in all, six per side.

“Wait… wait…” Meredith said. “Something’s… not… right…”

“That’s not a boat engine,” Marcus said. It’s coming from one of these buildings.

“Shit. Everyone hold up.” Doug looked around nervously.

“What the fuck is that all about?” Gina asked pointing to a strange symbol painted in red on one of the hanger’s roll up doors. “That looks fresh.”

“They’re on all the doors,” Ashley added. “Look.”

On every roll up door was a repeated red-painted symbol of what looked like an eye on a three-pronged stand.

“We don’t have time for this,” Doug said impatiently. Just keep moving.” He pushed them forward; his tunnel vision causing him to lose sight of all else except the docks.

“Please… hold up, Doug… ” Meredith tried again.

“Stop!” Greg yelled. He was staring back at the motorized gate. “Marcus is right. That’s not a boat engine. That’s a generator… a damn big one by the sound of it.”

“So what! Let’s get the fuck out of here!” Doug shouted back.

“Gate should’ve been locked!” he called back.

“What?” Doug asked.

“WAIT!…WAIT!… WAIT!” Meredith screamed, she was staring nervously at the closest symbol.

They stopped abruptly, turning toward Meredith, as they were surrounded immediately by sound of twelve automated locks unlocking. The large roll up doors on the hangers began to rise.

“Watch out!” Frank said, pointing to movement beneath one of the doors. “We’re not alone anymore!”

“THE DEAD ARE HERE!” Meredith shouted. “THEY’RE ALL HERE! DEATH IS HERE! RUN!… RUN!… RUUUNNNN!!!!!”

The roll up doors opened up. Dull morning light dispelled stale shadows within, revealing hundreds of lifeless, ashen faces—the tormented corpses of the damned, packed in like sardines. Their sunken eyes caught sight of the living. They immediately began to shamble out of the hangers, pushing into each other to escape their makeshift cells, desperate to reach the new food source.

“Get the fuck moving!” Doug yelled, lifting his bat. They would be cut off in moments. “Gina! Get them to the fucking boat! Don’t look back!” Doug ran toward the closest herd of the undead, screaming, “Come on, mother fuckers!” He swung his bat into the crowd of monsters, connecting with the side of rotting bone and flesh, as he obliterated the head of the first zombie. He continued to swing like a madman, plummeting his way through the horde that attempted to block their path toward the docks.

Frank was already firing his gun, placing rounds into their foreheads at almost point-blank range.

They had seconds to make it through the crowd of the undead that were pouring forth from the hangers. They ran forward, following after Doug who plowed into the horde with more intensity than they thought possible for a single human being.

Doug swung his bat directly down into the skull of another beast, the nails digging deep, and he was unable to free the bat from the dead thing. They were on him in seconds… pulling… pushing…biting into his arms and legs. The sight of Doug’s blood made them more aggressive as they descended upon him like a swarm.

The others could do nothing but watch as the dead tore him open like a pack of savage children going after a fallen piñata. The shock of seeing Doug’s limbs separated and disappearing within the crowd of the hungry dead made it hard to believe that what they were witnessing was real. They tore his head clean off. Doug was gone.

“Get your fucking asses moving!” Frank brought them back from the edge.

They willed themselves to push forward… swinging blunt instruments or shooting into the dead faces that moved in with gnashed teeth.

Frank was the first to reach the docks. He didn’t look back as he saw the boat—the only undamaged boat—moored to a pier less than two-hundred feet away. Gina, Meredith, Marcus and Stephen broke through and followed.

From behind them, the sound of Greg’s rifle resounded.

Gina turned to check on the others. All she saw was a wall of the undead separating them from the rest of their group. Most of the horde was now pursuing the others while a few shambled toward the docks.

“Oh, God,” she whispered. “This isn’t happening!”

The plan had failed in less than five minutes.

~~~

Next Episode (14-4):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/chapter-14-4-the-marina/

Previous Episode (14-2):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/chapter-14-2-the-marina/

~~~

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 :)
http://topwebfiction.com/

________________________________________________
“Chapter 14-3: The Marina” 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.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Artcp says:

    “waiting for the next flash of lightening”
    “lightning” instead of “lightening”.

    “the horde that attempted to block there path”
    “their” instead of “there”.

    “disappearing within the crowed of the hungry dead”
    I believe you meant crowd.

    Like

Comments? I love to read them

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s