bar-316626_640

~~~

Amanda walked out on the balcony track. The moonlight shining in through large windows surrounding the gym provided adequate light to walk safely and blend into the shifting shadows. She was still fuming within about Marcus’s comments regarding Stephen and Marie, but the whiskey buzz helped take the edge off.

That son-of-a-bitch was practically on Stephen’s side! But deep down she knew he’d made some valid points. With her volatile moods and shady reputation already well-known among her little group, no one would take her seriously if she tried to expose Stephen. They’d probably just think that we were fucking and when Stephen broke it off, I went ballistic. And then, of course, there was her alcohol problem that immediately made her the weakest link… whether it was true or not.

“Fuck ‘em all,” she said, her voice echoing across the open gym and surprising the three teens on the opposite side of the track. “Hel-lo,” she called across.

The teens, trying to play cool, simply nodded and resumed their quiet discussion.

She walked around the track and met them on the other side. “I’m here to help,” she said.

One of the teens snickered while the one named, Tommy, hit him in the shoulder. “Did Rusty send you over?”

“Yes. Your boss and my boss thought it would be cool to learn the routines around here… just in case we’re staying a little while.”

“Are you?” Tommy asked a little too anxiously.

“I’d like to. But it’s not up to me… Tommy, right?”

“Yep. This is Brian and Cole,” he motioned to his fellow cohorts. “Myself and these two jokers, along with Roger and Casey who are preparing to make a run tonight, are in charge of… security around here. “

Amanda laughed. “Just the five of you? Bet you didn’t see this coming a few weeks ago when you were out chasing girls and tearing up the town.”

The other two laughed at that.

“It was a bit overwhelming at first,” Tommy admitted. “But now we’ve got grown up jobs to do and it’s time to put childish ways aside.”

“I see,” Amanda said with a smile. “Did you come up with that or did Rusty beat the five of you to death with it until you started behaving?”

“Damn, she just burned you, Tommy!” Brian said.

Tommy’s face reddened as he shot them a warning look. “We don’t need you out here,” he told her. “Maybe you could help the other hens inside clean the dishes or something.”

Cole laughed.

Amanda covered her mouth to hide her amusement. He’s actually trying to impress me and I just shut him down. How cute. And that’s when she realized that these boys were the answer to all her problems. “Hey, I didn’t mean to disrespect you and your friends, Tommy. I was just talking smack.”

Tommy looked a little more at ease.

“So… what’s this run you were talking about?” she asked.

“That’s none of your business,” he said.

“All right, tough guy. No need to get your panties in a knot.” She laughed to show she was teasing. “I was just wondering what the nightlife was like around here.”

Tommy gave her a strange look. “The nightlife? You are kidding, right?”

“What? Doesn’t anyone remember how to have fun in this town? I grew up with boys like you three and I bet you all still have a place you sneak off to and blow off some steam… am I right?”

The three of them gave each other a cautious glance.

“I mean… you don’t always do what you’re told, do you? Or does the old man wipe your asses too?”

“We’ve got a place,” Tommy said. “But that’s men’s business, so stop asking.”

“What… no women allowed? That doesn’t sound like much fun… unless that’s your preference now.” She let the implication hang. “Hey… I’m not judging you. It’s never too late to come out of the closet, zombies or no zombies. Good for you.”

“We’re not like that, lady,” Cole said defensively. “We’re not in to that gay shit. We just like to have a drink or two on our way back from picking up supplies for the group. Nothing wrong with that.”

Score.

“Of couse not,” she said. “Hell, I don’t blame you. In fact, that sounds fun. The group that I came in with, they don’t know the meaning of the damn word.”

“We do what we want, when we want,” Brian said.

“Sure sounds like it,” Amanda said. “So, what’s a girl gotta do to get invited to the boy’s club? I’m dying for a drink myself. I haven’t blown off a little steam in a long time.”

The others looked to Tommy eagerly.

He shook his head. “Sorry, lady. The old man would have my ass if I let you go on the run. We have a tight system that works if everyone does what they’re supposed to do.”

It was Amanda’s turn to feign tough. “Oh, please. I’ve seen and survived more shit outside this little town that would give you boys nightmares for weeks. I can help you out there get supplies… and then we could stop by this place of yours, grab a quick drink and then… see what happens. ” She said the last with an arms-wide stretch, pushing her breasts outward for emphasis.

The other two were getting excited and whispering in Tommy’s ears.

Tommy would not be persuaded. “No offense, lady, but you’re… old.”

“I bet you say that to all the ladies,” she said sarcastically. Ouch! I guess I’ve been away from my skimpy wardrobe, magic make-up kit and a Friday night for far too long. Fucking apocalypse!

Amanda feigned hurt and began casually unbuttoning the top few buttons on her blouse. “Maybe you’re right, Tommy. Perhaps I’m too much woman for you to handle. How old are you anyway? Sixteen?”

“I’ll be nineteen in December,” he said indignantly.

“Wow, nineteen! Damn it’s hot in here.” She pulled the front of her half-opened blouse to fan herself, making sure they all got a quick preview. “Well, I should be heading back since all the real men are elsewhere. I hope you all have fun jerking each other off since I’m probably the last real woman you’re ever going to see in this dead town.” She started to walk away, listening to the heated debate among the boys.

“Hold on, lady,” Tommy said.

“Was there something else?” she asked. “And please, call me Amanda.”

“We were talking. It’s an easy run tonight… shouldn’t take too long… so we could probably squeeze you in this one time… Amanda.”

She turned and smiled. “So what’s this place?”

“It’s a bar named The Last Call about five blocks from here in an area we’ve already cleared out.”

Why the hell would anyone name a bar The Last Call? That’s asinine. “That’s sounds perfect! Thanks for letting me come,” and then she added with a seductive wink, “I promise I’ll make it worth your while.”

“If you’re serious about going, meet us back here in ten minutes,” Tommy said.

“Sure. Just let me grab my pack.” Amanda started back around the track, making sure they all got a good look at her ass, just in case there were second thoughts.

She smiled like the devil in the shadows. There wasn’t much she was proud of in her life. She’d failed at being a mother, a wife, a decent human being. But this she could do. This one time she did not regret her skill at manipulating men to get what she wanted—or in this case, a pack of horny teens.

I’m sorry, Marcus, but it’s time to end this… my way.

She thought about The Last Call and what entering that bar would mean for her this time:

Oblivion.

~~~

Tommy reassigned himself and Brian to go on the run. The other teens were sorely disappointed, but were reassured that if things went well, they could sneak Amanda out with them on another night.

Amanda joined the two oldest boys at the front door while the other three raised their weapons.

“What’s the deal?” Amanda asked. “This is safe, right?”

“This is the unnerving part,” Tommy whispered. “As many times as we’ve done this, there’s still a chance that something could be waiting just on the other side. Rusty’s always reminding us of that fact. All it takes is for one to get in and start infecting people, and then we’re done. So we always try to treat this like it’s the first time we’ve been out. Understand?”

Amanda nodded. Fuck, is there ever going to be a time I’m not scared shitless to go outside? She also had her gun out.

Tommy looked around at everyone. “Okay, let’s do this.”

The older teens took the beam down and opened the front door, letting in the night.

“All clear,” Brian whispered.

“Okay, we move quietly but quickly, get the stuff we need from the hardware store and then hit the bar,” Tommy said. “Amanda, you just follow our lead and do what we do and everything will be fine. There’s always a chance we might see a straggler in the streets but they’re too slow and stupid at night to figure out what we are before it’s too late. That’s our advantage.”

She nodded.

“Good news is, the hardware store is just a block from the bar. That will give us more time to drink.”

“And play with our new friend,” Brian said, flashing Amanda a stupid grin.

She rolled her eyes in the dark. What a crude little toad.

Tommy nodded and stepped out the front door with his rifle aimed low. Brian followed, and Amanda took up the rear.

The streets felt dead beneath the full moon. Every open space seemed menacing and left her feeling exposed as they jogged from car to car trying to move within the shadows. Amanda had never felt so exhilarated and terrified at the same time. She was reminded of her brief youth and sneaking out of her home to meet boys. The only terror then was wondering if she’d come home later to find her parent’s bedroom light on. This time, the terror came from walking nightmares that now shambled across a broken reality where the lie, ‘monsters did not exist’ had been the first thing devoured by this dark and dreadful new world.

Out of breath, Amanda signaled the teens to stop. They took shelter behind a mini-van with broken windows.

“You okay, Amanda?” Tommy whispered. “We’re almost there.”

“Just need a minute,” she said between breaths. “I’m too old for this shit.” For once, Amanda didn’t mind admitting it.

Brian shook his head impatiently.

“What’s the rush?” she asked. “Am I keeping you from getting eaten alive? You two are running through the damn streets like this is some kind of fucking game.”

Tommy smiled. “We don’t get out much.”

Amanda looked past Tommy and noticed a neglected sign hanging in front of a little hole-in-the-wall building just down the block. She’d spent most of her life in such places. “Is that the bar?” she pointed toward the sign.

“Yep. The hardware store’s down on the next block. We’ll get our supplies from the old man’s list and double back.”

“Shit,” Brian said, looking the opposite direction through the broken windows of the mini-van. “Stick Bitch got loose, again.”

Tommy sighed heavily. “I told you we should’ve put that one down. It always gets out.”

Stick Bitch? “What the hell is he talking about?” Amanda asked. She got up and looked through the mini-van’s shattered windows.

Tommy pointed. “Some of them are a little smarter than others. That one can actually open doors.”

Amanda found what he was pointing out and gasped.

On the opposite side of the street a tall, sickly woman with torn clothes barely held up on what was left of her skeletal frame, was staggering in front of a department store window. To Amanda, she looked like a ghost left to wander the silent town for eternity. The dead woman, with long dark hair, stopped and stared into the department store.

“She’s a strange one,” Tommy whispered, startling Amanda. “No matter where we put her, she always gets out somehow and ends up at this store front window. It’s like some part of her remembers something… I don’t know. She’s a bit creepy, isn’t she?”

Amanda couldn’t move. The dead woman seemed so different from the others they’d encountered. “So this is what they’re like when they’re not all riled up and trying to kill us. How very sad.”

“Tell her your theory,” Brian whispered. “I think he’s right.”

Amanda waited.

“Well,” Tommy started, “I think she might have died there, in front of that department store… and maybe her dying was a lot louder than her living… loud enough for the violence to remain in her head, even if she can’t remember the rest of her life. Maybe that’s why she keeps coming back to that same spot.”

Amanda suddenly felt very cold.

“Whatever,” Brian said. “Stick Bitch is just dead… like all the others. What’s sad is that they don’t know when to just lie down and die. Nope. They just keep on wandering around like stupid animals until they find one of us. And then they get all crazy.”

Amanda turned and snapped, “Stop calling her that! That used to be somebody. Why the fuck are you messing with them and giving them demeaning names? That’s fucking sick.”

Tommy looked hurt. “Like I said, we don’t get out much. We should go.”

“What about her? Won’t she see us?”

Tommy laughed. “Stick… I mean… that woman will still be staring into that department store window on our way back. Don’t ask me why. That’s what it does.”

Amanda nodded. How very fucking sad. Is that what I’ll look like if I get infected? Will I just be roaming around in front of some bar, deader than dead, but still craving the bottle? Will I even understand what I’m doing? She turned away from the woman and looked toward the bar. Hell, that’s me now.

“I need a fucking drink,” she announced and started toward the bar.

“Where are you going?” Tommy called after her. “We have to make the run first.”

“Knock yourself out. I’m getting drunk… right fucking now.”

The two teens looked at each other and then followed Amanda to the bar, being mindful not to attract the attention of the phantom in front of the department store.

~~~

Tommy led them into The Last Call with his flashlight on. He scanned the place quickly for monsters and then he and Brian went straight for the small island bar at the center of the room and began lighting candles they’d left behind from their last visit.

“Close the door,” Brian hissed. “The light might give us away!”

It took Amanda a moment to realize that he was speaking to her as she froze just inside the doorway. This is my last chance to turn around and stop this. After I start drinking… there’s only one way this will end.

As the boys lit the candles around the bar, her old friends on the shelves captured the flickering light making the various bottles come alive as if dancing in celebration at Amanda’s return.

Welcome home, Amanda! What the hell took you so… damn… long? the bottles mocked.

“Amanda… the door,” Brian reminded her again.

She stepped forward and closed the door behind her. She held on to the door knob, as if it meant that she still had a choice to leave.

Foolish, foolish, girl, the demons of old laughed within her head. You let go of right choices a long time ago. Come… it’s time to drink… it’s time to forget it all… it’s time to have FUN!

Amanda smiled from the shadows, let go of the door knob and said, “Fuck it.”

Good girl, the demons encouraged.

Tommy and Brian stood near the bar, having a heated discussion. Tommy looked highly irritated by the change of plans.

Amanda walked confidently between them and then went behind the bar, found three shot glasses and turned them up on the counter. “All right, boys, first rounds on me. What’s your poison?”

Tommy went from annoyed to amused. “Oh, what the hell,” he said, sitting down. “We’re already here.”

“That’s the spirit!” Amanda said, pouring herself a shot of whiskey. She sucked it down and immediately poured herself another. “Damn! A few more of those and I’ll start feeling like my old self again.”

Brian joined Tommy at the bar and said, “I’ll take a tequila… not the cheap stuff, but the good stuff.”

“Make that two,” Tommy added.

Amanda smiled and turned toward the bottles. “Good choice. Two top-shelf tequilas… hold the lemons and salt ‘cause that’s for pussies… right?”

They laughed and nodded.

Amanda came back and said, “I’m sooo glad you said that ‘cause I had no idea where I was going to find a lemon around here. The produce isn’t what it used to be.” She winked.

She filled their shot glasses and raised her own. “Here’s to decadence and debauchery on a Friday night! God only knows what day it really is.” They tapped shot glasses and Amanda downed the whiskey and immediately poured herself another.

Tommy and Brian hesitated and then swallowed the warm tequila. Tommy made a painful face, but kept his shot down while Brian coughed, making them both look ridiculous.

Amanda laughed. “I know… it’s better chilled… right? We’ll have to put ice on the grocery list with lemons.”

Before either teen could protest, Amanda quickly filled their shot glasses. “This one’s courtesy of the house, boys.” She quickly drank her whiskey and refilled her shot glass. “Now, if you’ll excuse me a minute, I’ve got a note to scribble down before I forget. Please, enjoy your drinks and remember to always tip your bartender.”

The two teens looked at each other, then back to their nasty tasting drinks. They half-heartedly downed the tequila. Both boys coughed this time.

Amanda found a small notepad and a Sharpie beneath the bar and quickly wrote her note. She came back to where the boys sat, saw their faces, and laughed. “Trust me, after the third shot, you can’t even taste that shit anymore.”

Before they could speak up, she already had their shot glasses filled again. “One more for good luck, boys. Down the hatch.” She quickly took another shot of whiskey and refilled her own shot glass.

They drank their tequila, refusing to look soft in front of a woman.

Amanda shook her head in amusement and said, “Maybe next time you boys should stick with Peach Schnapps. Now, off you go, while you still have enough wits to get back.”

“Excuse me?” Tommy said.

“That’s right. I almost forgot.” Amanda handed Tommy the note. “Be sure my friend, Marcus, gets that right away. Understand?”

“What the hell is this?” Brian looked confused.

Amanda held out her arms. “What? Did I fucking stutter?” She grabbed the tequila bottle and threw it across the room. It shattered against the wall. “I said… GET THE FUCK OUT!”

Both teens stumbled back from the bar.

“What’s the matter with you, you crazy bitch?!” Brian asked. “You said we were going to have a good ti- ”

“What did you call me?” Amanda stepped out from behind the bar; the whiskey bottle in one hand, her handgun dangling in the other. “What? Did you actually think I was gonna let you stick your little pricks in me? What the hell is wrong with you? I’m old enough to be your mothers, you perverts!”

“He didn’t mean anything, Amanda,” Tommy said, raising his hands. “You’ve had too much to drink. Let’s just go before- ”

“The fuck I have!” she said, raising her gun toward them. “You two have had enough to drink. I’m just getting started. Now… get your little asses back to the school and give my friend the fucking note! I’ll be fine right here. Go on.”

Tommy looked confused. “But we can’t just- ”

“GET OUT!” she screamed. “I’ll wake every fuckin’ zombie up in this shit-hole town if you keep pushin’ me!”

“Let’s go, dude, she’s lost it,” Brian whispered in Tommy’s ear. They both started for the door.

“Tommy,” she called.

He turned.

She smiled. “You’re a good boy. I’m sorry things had to be this way.”

Not knowing what else to say, Tommy smirked and said, “Me too. I’ll tell your friend you’re here. Just stay inside and you should be okay until the morning. Can you do that?”

“Tommy,” she smiled, “I have no intention of leaving this fine establishment again, so don’t you worry about me. Just make sure my friend gets that note.”

Tommy nodded.

Both boys reluctantly departed the bar.

Amanda took a long swing from the whiskey bottle. She looked around the room filled with elongated shadows dancing across the walls in the flickering light, and declared, “Well, hell… looks like I’m finally home at last.” She sat down at the bar and placed the whiskey bottle down beside her. She reached in her pocket and retrieved the handgun magazine. She reinserted it into her Glock and racked the slide back.

She placed the gun down beside the whiskey bottle and thought of Stephen and Marie; she thought of Charlie and the despicable things the fear made her do; she thought about monsters that haunted her in the present and the monster her daughter described from the past; she thought about the bleak future and living in a world now void of the loved ones she had destroyed…

Amanda’s thoughts returned to the pitiful husk of a former woman roaming absently before a department store window, reduced to a play thing and ridiculed by a handful of misplaced teenagers.

I can’t end like that… I won’t! She looked toward the gun. One shot to the head and I could end all this bullshit. Just lock the front door, sit back down and pull the fucking trigger. Easy-peasy. She looked up at the wall of assorted liquor bottles that sat quietly in anticipation. All her favorite demons were in attendance, waiting to applaud her demise.

This is what I deserve… this is where I deserve to die… alone, in a puddle of blood and booze.

She quickly reached for the whiskey bottle, poured the poison down her throat… and waited.

~~~

Next Episode (22-5):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/chapter-22-5-almost-dead/

Previous Episode (22-3):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/chapter-22-3-almost-dead/

~~~

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________________________________________________
“Chapter 22-4: Almost Dead” 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. Artcp says:

    Hey Scott,

    Found a typo in this one:
    “We do we want, when we want,” Brian said
    “we do what we want…”?

    And missing quotation marks in these two:

    It’s a bar named The Last Call about five blocks from here in an area we’ve already cleared out.

    Tommy laughed. Stick… I mean… that woman will still be staring into that department store window on our way back. Don’t ask me why. That’s what it does.”

    ;D

    Like

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