Blood Required

~~~

All time stopped for Lucas Rhodes after pulling the trigger of his hunting rifle. He was faintly aware that the other recruits were now firing their weapons as he continued to stare through his scope at the old man lying face down on the street in a pool of blood. The others had scattered like ants, some had fired back at them—Lucas was oblivious to all of it. He could not look away from his latest ‘kill’.

What have I done? The question came from someplace else, someplace outside his cold, indifferent zone where only the enemy mattered. It had all been black and white: Kill the dead, or be killed by the dead. But now… now he’d crossed a line that his mind could not dismiss. He was the enemy, he tried to reason, but the truth was made plain through his scope—he’d just murdered a man.

Lucas Rhodes never fired another shot.

The attack was over in minutes. The gunfire ceased.

“Damn it!” he heard Dwayne shout. “I had him! That big fucker just kept moving. I know I hit him!”

“They made it to the alley,” Simon said. “I’ve got no shot.”

Violet was the most upset. She pulled back and tossed her rifle to the ground. “Fucking thing is worthless! I told you the sights were screwed up on this thing! I must have fired five rounds at the redhead—every shot was off!”

“It’s alright, they got the message.” It was Donovan. “Well done, recruits. I know it was difficult firing at what appeared to be people… like us… but I assure you, those weren’t people anymore. Desperation has made them weak—has turned them into monsters that prey upon the living just like the dead.”

“Should we go after them?” Violet asked.

Donovan paused to consider this. He finally said, “Not today. As much as I feel we should finish them off, we must assume that all this noise has stirred up any remaining zombies in the area. It would prudent to gather our things and get out of this town.”

And then he was addressing him. “Lucas, your commitment to the present mission is admirable, but there are no more targets to be had from up here. Stand down, son.”

Lucas continued to stare at the dead man through his scope. He was afraid to move, afraid to breathe. The moment he exited kill mode, he knew he would crumble to pieces.

And then Jonathan was there. “Little brother,” he said from his right. “It’s time to go.” He placed a hand
on his shoulder.

Lucas began to shake. He felt tears streaming down his face. “I… I shot him,” he said, feeling like he was going to pass out. “I shot him, Jon. He was just walking along, minding his own business, and then I… I put him on the ground… in all that blood… I did that.”

Donovan had already lost interest. He turned to all of them and said, “Let’s gather our things, people. We’ll find a place to camp in the woods to the north and make plans this evening for heading home.” He absently added, “Jonathan, put him back together quickly. We need to move out.”

Jonathan nodded, refusing to look at him. Donovan would see his hatred immediately and he had to maintain control… for Lucas’s sake.

“Lucas,” he whispered, fighting back his own tears. “Remember when you shot your first deer? It tore you up for weeks because you couldn’t shake the way that buck stared at you right before you put it down… remember that?”

Lucas nodded.

“I’m not saying that this is the same… God knows, it’s not… but you have to let this go, like the buck, and try to kill the image from your head, too. Just like that buck.”

Lucas closed his eyes tight. “He wasn’t a buck, Jon.”

“I know, little brother. But you have to treat it the same… for Megan’s sake. Just keep telling yourself it’s just like shooting the deer… whatever lies you have to tell yourself to let it go. Understand?”

Lucas nodded.

The others started exiting the roof top. They walked by Megan, who stood frozen by the access door, unwilling to come any closer to the man she loved… who no longer resembled the man she loved.

“He performed very well,” Donovan told her in passing. “You should be proud of him, Megan. Lucas has learned what it means to truly survive in this new world. He is a survivor now.”

And there it was… that word branded across her heart like a curse… survivor.

She ignored the evil man and looked at Lucas who had finally placed the rifle down as he wept into his brother arms. She wanted to go to him, but she couldn’t… wouldn’t.

We’re both cursed now, she thought. It would’ve been better if they’d hung us both from that loft… because what we’ve all got coming… whether in this new hell, or the next… is going to be much worse.

~~~

Gina, Frank and Marcus managed to slip around the back of storefronts undetected, until they reached an alley along the side of the three-story building where their attackers were hiding. They found a large window that led into the basement. Marcus broke the window with his machete and they silently entered.

Frank scanned the dark, cluttered basement with his flashlight and announced, “All clear.” He crouched down, ripped a piece off the bottom of his shirt and dressed his wound.

Gina and Marcus joined him, creating a small circle around the solitary flashlight.

“How’s the arm?” Gina asked, staring impatiently toward the stairwell leading up to the first floor.

“I’ll live,” he said. “Bullet went straight through.”

Marcus sat crossed-legged, laying his machete across his lap. “This is some kind of office building,” he said, looking at several stacked boxes of printer paper. “Perhaps a law firm or an insurance company.”

Gina nodded. She could care less. All she wanted to do was get upstairs.

Marcus frowned at her back, let out a weary sigh, and said, “It’s not too late to turn around and leave. I’m in with whatever you decide, Gina… but once we go through with this, there’s no turning back.”

“I’m well aware of the risks,” Gina snapped. “Go back if you want… both of you.”

“I’m not fucking going anywhere,” Frank growled. “Greg was the closest thing to a friend I’ve had in a long, long time… I’d be here now even if you hadn’t made the call, Gina.”

Gina flashed the big man a wicked smile in the half-light and said, “They’re going to regret this fucking day.”

“I wasn’t referring to the risks involved, Gina,” Marcus said. “Frankly, if we all die in the next few minutes… then so be it. What concerns me is what it will mean when we head up those stairs and the killing starts. Once you get your hands dirty, the blood stains never go away. This is something we will have to live with when it’s done… and it changes you… trust me. There’s enough evil hunting us these days without us trying to find it.”

Gina let out an incredulous laugh, turned and said, “Don’t you dare preach to me about doing evil! You can save that shit and go tell my friend that’s lying dead in the street!” She started pacing in the dark, trying to keep the inferno within from burning Marcus to ashes. “Evil… okay… well, what the hell would you know about it? Where were you again when the world died? Camping, right?”

Marcus said nothing.

“Do you know where I was when the apocalypse began? Of course, you don’t. You see, I had me a date with your buddy, Mr. Fucking Evil. And let me tell you, he was far too busy with me to have any time left to roast fucking marshmallows with you on our last night in the old world! Hell… I was drugged, beaten, gang raped, stripped naked and left for dead, handcuffed to a fucking bed, before all this shit even started! So don’t you dare try to educate me on the nature of fucking evil, or try to brand my actions now as something even remotely similar!”

Frank and Marcus were left speechless. Gina had never spoken about her circumstances before reaching the plant, and now they understood why.

Gina laughed again. “And here’s the real fucking kicker, Marcus… here’s the thing that helps me lay back down after I’m reliving the whole rape again in my nightmares: If, The Change, had not happened precisely when it did, my rapists would’ve returned, had a few more pokes at me, and then killed me, rolled me up in some bloody carpet and thrown me in some fucking land fill somewhere. How’s that for fucking irony? Evil’s not only a sadistic son-of-a-bitch, but he’s also got one twisted sense of humor.”

“Gina… I’m sorry… The pain in your heart must be overwhelming… ” Marcus said no more.

She was shaking her head. “Save it, Marcus. I don’t need you to feel sorry for me. I’m past it… I have to be. But what you do need to be sorry about is confusing what we’re doing here with what evil really is. What happened to me is ‘evil’. What those fuckers upstairs did to Greg… now, that’s evil. And we’re going to slaughter every fucking one of them evil monsters… or die trying. Do you get that? Can you appreciate the fucking gravity of this situation yet?”

“Yes, Gina. I get it,” Marcus said, rising to his feet. “We should go.”

“We have to assume they have the numbers,” Frank said, desperately wanting to change the subject. “The element of surprise is the best weapon we’ve got. After that, if we haven’t killed enough of them, we’re dead.”

“Then let’s give them one hell-of-a-surprise,” Gina said, moving toward the stairs.

Frank and Marcus followed.

They all had their guns out.

~~~

Donovan walked up and down the main aisle between the third floor cubicles, considering their next move. The late afternoon light pouring in through the large windows was getting fainter, increasing the amount of shadows spread out across the gloomy offices.

Violet, Dwayne and Simone were gathering up their gear from the small open-area break lounge at the end of the cubicles. They’d planned on spending the night here before things got noisy on the roof.

“We’d sure get done fucking faster if we had the others down here already,” she snapped at Simon, who just shrugged his shoulders.

“They need a moment, recruit,” Donovan said from half way down the aisle. “Lucas has done very well by us. But not everyone has your… tenacity for violence, Violet. Some have to work out the moral ramifications of doing what’s necessary to survive in this new world. Those obsolete notions are hard to shake—they’ve been hammered into our heads since birth.”

Violet was caught off guard by Donovan’s acute hearing. “I don’t think Lucas did anything wrong… and it was a hell-of-a-shot, too. He’s been an asset to the team… I’ll be the first to admit that. But this… this weakness of his can be exploited. There’s no place now for anything that will make us weak.” She thought immediately of Megan.

“Well spoken, recruit,” Donovan said. “You and I understand this grim truth. Lucas will learn it in time. Today was his first step- ” Donovan stopped abruptly, staring into a dark alcove near the stairwell. He sensed something in the silence that wasn’t there before.

“RECRUITS! DOWN… NOW!” he shouted. In one swift motion, Donovan dropped to one knee while removing his bow from around his back with one hand and retrieving an arrow from his quiver with the other.

The arrow was already on its way over the heads of the crouching recruits before they knew what was happening.

From the dark alcove, Marcus had just enough time to go prone on the floor as the arrow whizzed past his position. He started firing his handgun from the darkness at the legs of the recruits who were scrambling to get to their weapons.

A bullet went through Simon’s left thigh as he fell into an artificial plant, screaming.

“Move!” Violet shouted, grabbing her handgun and going into a tactical roll until she cleared the open lounge area.

From the opposite side of the office area, Donovan launched another arrow toward the muzzle flash of another attacker who was firing from around a support beam and through the cubicles toward the lounge.

The arrow struck the beam, inches from Frank’s face. Fuck! Be careful, dumb ass! he thought, retreating back into the shadows for a better position.

“Recruits… get out of the light!” Donovan shouted. He pulled up his hood and moved into a dark cubicle.

Misunderstanding Donovan’s commands, Dwayne started running toward his voice down the main aisle.

Gina appeared from the opposite end, aiming her handgun with deadly accuracy. She fired four rounds into the young man’s face as she stormed down the aisle, completely exposed.

Blood from the back of Dwayne’s head splattered Violet in the eyes as she rolled out of cover to get a clear shot at the demon woman who had appeared out of nowhere.

“Fuck!” she shouted, rolling back behind a couch. By the time she cleared her eyes, Gina had disappeared within a cubicle.

Dwayne collapsed across the aisle… dead.

Simon was still screaming off to Violet’s left, somewhere in the lounge. As long as he continued to do so, the intruders could mask their movements.

Move, girl. You’re dead if you stay here. Violet could just make out the stairwell door behind her.

And then she saw a man with a sword or a bat sprint across the half-lit lounge. He was out of sight before she could aim.

And then there was more gunfire off to her right, from the darkness behind the cubicles. Someone was shooting through the partitions, hoping for a lucky shot. Violet got as small as she could.

“No… wait… please…” It was Simon.

There was a sickening sound of flesh being hacked up… and then Simon went silent.

A few seconds later, something bounced past her position, stopping at Dwayne’s body at the center of the aisle.

It was Simon’s head.

“Fuck me!” she hissed, horrified. Violet got to her knees and started firing in an arc through the cubicles.

Donovan rolled out of his dark cubicle with more speed than she thought he was capable, and she watched him bolt down an intersecting aisle and out of the offices. It sounded like he fired an arrow ahead of him as he fled.

That meant she was alone.

Fuck… fuck… FUCK!!! The tattooed woman made a break for the stairs, firing blindly in the direction she thought Simon’s killer lurked.

Someone was firing toward her from the opposite side. She felt one bullet whiz past her ear as several more struck the walls around the stairwell.

Violet stumbled forward down the dark stairs, losing her gun and landing on her forearms. She felt her wrist snap. The pain and adrenaline got her up as she bolted for the second floor, rather than try for the first, believing an ambush would be waiting for anyone down there.

The second floor was much darker than the third as Violet walked up against a wall and tried to get her bearings. She spotted faint sunlight coming through a narrow window in a door at the end of the hall. She heard no one pursuing her. Caught a fucking break, she thought, trying to slow her breathing before her panting gave her away. Become the fucking darkness… and they won’t find you, she reasoned.

Up ahead, toward the end of the hall and to the right, she saw a faint flashlight beam. Who is that? Us or them? She started to panic when she realized she’d lost her gun. A room opened up to her right. There was just enough light coming from the window at the end of the hall to make out the small island kitchen… but more importantly, the knife rack.

Violet grabbed the longest knife and followed after the intruder with the flashlight.

~~~

Gina retraced her steps back out and around the cubicles and found Frank near the stairwell, breathing hard.

“Frank… you hit?” she asked.

“Damn, I’m slipping,” he said with a laugh. “Didn’t even…didn’t even hear you coming.”

She checked him for new wounds and found none. “It’s got to be the first wound,” she said. “It’s probably infected. You’re not looking well.”

“I’ll manage,” he grumbled. “Did you get that Robin Hood mother fucker? I think he’s the one in charge.”

Gina shook her head and scanned the area. “Never saw that one. Must have slipped past me.”

Frank pointed toward the stairs. “Saw another one head down there. I couldn’t get a clear shot. I was just catching my breath…”

She smiled. “I would suggest sitting this one out, but then you’d just tell me to ‘go fuck myself’, so I won’t bother.”

“I knew there was something I liked about you,” Frank said. He looked toward the center of the aisle at the body. “Got a good look at that one… you know… the one you put four rounds into?”

Gina nodded.

“He’s just a kid… about the same age as those boys from Jefferson. How the hell did we get into this with a bunch of fucking kids?”

Gina’s face tensed up. “Second thoughts, Frank? That’s not your style. By the way, I didn’t shoot a fucking kid, I shot a killer. If you’re having trouble remembering that, then I suggest you look out that fucking window at what these ‘kids’ did to our friend.”

Frank was getting angry. “Watch it, Gina. Don’t let my easy-going nature make you forget who you’re talking to. I know the score here… I was just making an observation.” He started for the stairs, turning on a flashlight. “You coming… I want to catch the fucker that slipped past me.”

Gina looked back toward the quiet office and asked, “Have you seen Marcus?”

“No… but I’ve seen his handiwork lying beside the other dead kid. I’ll spare you the details.” Frank said.

“Go ahead,” she said, “I’ll catch up. I want to make sure the floor is clear. I’d hate to leave one hiding somewhere. “

He gave her a strange look and said, “Watch out for the asshole archer. I think he’s the only other dangerous one left… besides you.”

~~~

Megan couldn’t stop shaking as Lucas bent down in front of her and held her hands in his. “Everything will be okay,” he lied. “I’m going to make this right. I caused this… I’m the one that killed their friend.”

“Bullshit, Lucas,” she said. “You may have aimed that gun, but Donovan pulled the trigger. Just stay here with me. They’ll eventually go away.”

He handed her the flashlight and gun. She refused to take the gun.

Jonathan stepped in from the dark hallway. “We have to go, little brother. The shooting’s stopped. We take a peek, make sure everything’s clear, and then we get the hell out of here.”

Lucas gave him a disapproving glance. “What if they’re hurt and need our help? I thought you were their leader, Jonathan. How can you think of running out on them?”

Jonathan frowned and said, “Donovan’s their leader now, little brother. I would’ve thought that was apparent by now. Besides, they don’t need us. We’ll get out of here together, just like we talked about back in the woods… just the three of us.” While Lucas had excelled in killing zombies, Jonathan had excelled in lying over the past few weeks.

It had been Jonathan’s call to hide rather than try to help the others. Everything had happened so quickly. They were heading down from the roof when they heard the gunfire, followed by shouts and screams. It didn’t take long to realize that the group from the street had come back for blood.

Lucas wanted to help, but Jonathan thought only about losing his brother… and the safe delivery of the girl who would secure their position at H.Q. Also, he silently hoped Donovan would meet a tragic end, sparing him the humiliation of Donovan reporting his disappointment in his leadership to Mother when they finally arrived home. But ultimately, everything else was a smoke screen to hide his real reasons for not fighting back: Jonathan was a coward. Jonathan wanted to run.

“Hurry back,” Megan said. “Let’s do what Jonathan said. If it’s clear, let’s just get out of here… we can start over… please?”

Lucas nodded. “First thing’s first, babe. We have to make sure it’s safe. Promise me you’ll stay here until we get back?”

She nodded, staring at her surroundings. They’d found a small room that had been converted into a gym with a couple of treadmills, a yoga mat and some sort of weight-lifting machine. But most importantly, the door looked solid and it locked.

“Just stay out of sight and remain quiet,” Lucas advised. “Keep the door locked and use the flashlight only when you have to.”

“Let’s go, Lucas.” Jonathan was growing more and more nervous. It was too quiet upstairs.

Megan looked up into his sad eyes and saw the man she remembered. He’d come so far and had fallen so fast. “We’ll be okay, Lucas… it’s not too late for us.”

He shook his head. “I know, babe. I’m… I’m sorry for everything. When this is over, we’ll get as far away from here as we can… okay?”

She found a smile for him. “Okay,” she said.

Lucas closed the door and followed his brother back up to the third floor.

Violet waited in the shadows for them to depart.

That bitch has made them soft. Here they are worried about keeping Barbie safe while we’re getting our asses handed to us upstairs! And now, they’re bailing! Mother fuckers! If she’d had her gun, Violet would’ve shot them both… Jonathan for sure.

She had secretly been harboring feelings for the younger Rhodes brother over the last few weeks as they had grown closer through combat. But her flirtations were never perceived as anything more than competitive banter by Lucas… and it was all because of her… the bitch that made him weak.

Violet stared down at the knife in her hand and pricked the tip of her finger until it dripped blood. She placed the finger in her mouth and began to get excited about what she could do with that knife… what she could do to the blond that was left all alone in the dark.

~~~

Next Episode (24-2):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/chapter-24-2-blood-required/

Previous Episode (23-9):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/chapter-23-9-recruits/

~~~

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 24-1: Blood Required” 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:

    Hey Scott, found a typo:

    Megan couldn’t stop shaking as Lucas bend down in front of her
    bent instead of bend

    ;D

    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