survivor

~~~

Sunset came like a hit-and run, as an indifferent day departed the scene of the crime without a second glance in the rear view mirror at the insignificant town of Andover—another victim of the long, long night.

Megan stared out the small second floor window of the bedroom her captors had confined her to, wondering if anyone was out there… anywhere. There was no moon tonight to dispel the darkness, providing her nothing to look at but the endless black nothingness that fed on the town. She always felt unsettled by these dead nights that preyed upon sleep. The lack of artificial lights was something she struggled to get used to. By day, she could pretend that the lifeless towns they had passed through still harbored people who merely hid from them, peering out from behind closed curtains or from doorways left ajar. But night always brought the truth as one dark portal after another seemed like hollowed out eyes in rows of skulls that were once abodes for the living.

She sat down on the bed near the lit candle that the nice older woman had provided her. Meredith… yes… that was her name. Since arriving at the old diner with the built-in living quarters above it, Meredith had been the only one to visit her. She had provided her something to eat and drink, made a casual remark about how pretty her hair was and then kindly suggested that she get some sleep.

Megan had asked, “Are you all going to kill me?”

The older woman had frowned and said, “Believe it or not, honey, we’re not the bad people you think we are. I know it may seem that way right now after what happened… but trust me, things will look better in the morning. A little bit of time and rest will help everyone calm down and come back to their senses.”

“I want to believe you… Meredith,” she had said. “Thank you for showing me kindness. I know, after what you people lost, that I don’t deserve it.”

“Nonsense,” Meredith had said. “Your story is an old one, honey. Pretty girl like you getting mixed up in the wrong crowd… it happens. I look at you now and I can tell you’re not a killer.”

“I tried to stop it,” Megan had said, wiping fresh tears from her eyes. “But I was a joke to them; just some foolish girl with her head stuck in yesterday that they had to drag around and protect. If I had known what they were capable of… I would’ve left them weeks ago.”

Meredith had smiled and said, “Well, you’re free of them now. Just try to get some rest and we’ll talk more in the morning… okay?”

Megan had nodded and Meredith left her alone.

She got back up and went to the window. Megan couldn’t see it, but she looked toward the office building that was just a few blocks away. She wondered if Lucas was there, lying dead in the dark, or if he’d got away and was trying to find her.

It all seemed so pointless now. Just more yesterday thoughts from the naïve blond girl, she thought.

She longed for her pack only to have the notebook to help pass the time, and also, it served to help her collect her fragmented thoughts and focus. But her captors had that now, as well as all her old group’s supplies from the office building.

Megan looked down at her belly and said, “I’ve still got you. That’s something no one can take from me… not yet, anyway.”

She made herself lie down and was surprised at how tired she truly was. She fell asleep in less than a minute, tumbling through the wilderness of nightmares that fed upon the remains of her hope.

~~~

Gina sat against the wall in the living room, with her newly acquired shotgun across her lap, trying to keep her eyes open. Physically, she was spent, but mentally and emotionally, she could find no peace.

She glanced at the remains of her group. The others were sleeping soundly around the battery operated lantern they’d found among the camping supplies. After leaving the office building and finding this place just before dark, it became immediately apparent that there was a new tension among them. But everyone was just too damn tired to do anything about it.

They had dragged Greg’s body with them, at Stephen and Meredith’s insistence, and carefully wrapped him up in a bed sheet and placed him in the other bedroom down the hall.

She tried not to think about the corpse lying in that room, but rather, the living, and what their next move would be from here.

Gina couldn’t focus on getting to the mountains, she didn’t even care anymore. After Greg went down, all she had was spent on fulfilling the rage that nearly consumed her. And now, they had a prisoner to contend with—the pregnant girl who Gina almost murdered.

She tried to shake her dark thoughts and got up to check their supplies. Frank was right, they had done well with the supplies they’d acquired but that only meant that they could depart for the mountains sooner… and again, she no longer cared.

I’m tired of being the fucking leader, tired of making the calls, tired of getting people killed… just fucking… tired of it all!

Again, she tried to distract herself by checking the bags. She came across a backpack that seemed too small to have anything of value in it. Gina opened the bag and found some spare clothes, a handgun, a notebook, and a few more odds and ends. She pulled out the notebook, started to open it, and a folded piece of paper fell out. She picked up the paper, unfolded it and was staring at a list of names: boy’s names on one half, girls on the other. She flipped the page over and…

Son-of-a-bitch!

She was staring at an old flyer that read like a doomsday message. But what dominated her attention was the three-pronged symbol at the top of the page where a large, familiar eye mockingly stared back at her.

Gina put the flyer aside and began to read the notebook. After a few minutes she understood that this was Megan’s notebook… and that the girl knew more than she was letting on.

She sat back down against the wall and continued reading.

~~~

Jonathan and Lucas had followed the enemy from a safe distance until discovering where they chose to hold out for the night.

Lucas had struggled with every breath but he refused to let his injuries stop him from reaching Megan. He had reasoned that if they slipped away, perhaps even leaving town, that he would never see her again.

Fortunately, they stayed in town, obviously wanting not to travel at night. That’s when their enemies had ducked into the diner.

Jonathan and Lucas managed to creep within half a block of the restaurant, finding an unlocked SUV to hide within and stake out the diner. It got better because they found the keys still in the ignition.

From their vantage point, they would be able to see anyone trying to leave the building and their fields of fire were unobstructed. Their desperate plan called for them to wait until morning. When Megan’s captors packed up to leave, they’d use the vehicle to catch them by surprise and hopefully grab Megan and simply drive away.

Now they faced the hardest part of their reckless escape plan: The waiting.

“We don’t shoot unless we have to,” Lucas reminded him.

Jonathan simply nodded, clearly showing his lack of enthusiasm at allowing those killers to escape. He did not believe they could rescue Megan without more violence, but his brother was insistent.

They fire one shot at us and I’ll stay right here and make sure every last one of them are dead! Jonathan continued to scan the dark diner through his rifle scope, hoping for an opportunity to catch one of them exposed.

~~~

Megan slowly opened her eyes. Her whole body ached as if she’d been assaulted in her sleep. She was relieved to discover early morning light leaking into her room… and that she was still alive.

Something shifted from the shadows on the opposite side of the bed. Megan turned and saw the red-headed woman sitting in a chair with a shotgun lying across her lap.

Oh, God, she’s come to finish me off! Megan immediately sat up with considerable effort.

“Sorry if I startled you,” Gina said. “Did you get some sleep?”

Megan nodded, not knowing what she should say or do. “Is… is everything alright?”

“Who is Lucas?” Gina asked abruptly.

It took her a moment to answer. Her heart began to race, understanding that if this dangerous woman knew his name, Lucas might be in real trouble… perhaps captured.

Gina smiled and said, “I don’t blame you for hesitating. I get it. You’re trying to protect him. He is the father… right?”

“Yes,” Megan volunteered with reluctance. “Do you have him?”

“No.” She held up the notebook. “It’s all in here.”

How could you be so stupid? Megan scolded herself. If Gina read the notebook, then she already knew the answers to her own questions. She let out a deep breath. “I lost him… back in the offices. Truth is, I lost him long before that. Lucas and Jonathan, his brother, went out to find a safe route out of the building. That’s when your big friend found me and Violet. If you read the notebook, then you know what a sick bitch she is.”

“Was,” Gina corrected.

“Yes… of course.”

Gina leaned back in her chair and said, “I saw two young men in the dark. They both had rifles. I assumed they were the ones that shot my friend, so I… shot them.”

Megan was a stone. She felt surprisingly calm considering what she just heard. Her shoulders sagged as the tears started to fall. “It was Donovan that killed your friend. He… he poisoned all of their minds, made them think they were special, that they were some elite fighting force. Up until the roof top, we’d only been hunting zombies. But then he saw your group… and changed the rules.”

Gina waited.

“He made Lucas shoot your friend.” She covered her mouth as if she just betrayed the man she loved. He’s dead now… he’d want the truth to come out, she reasoned. “Donovan told them all that you were the enemy… that everyone left in the world was as bad as the dead.”

“Do you believe that, Megan?” Gina interrupted. “Do you honestly think there’s no distinction between us and those fucking things that used to be us?”

Megan shook her head. “No… I didn’t believe it… not for a minute. I tried to stop them… I did.”

Gina stood up. “You fucking make me sick… you and your group of assassins!”

Megan looked away in shame.

Gina calmed down. “I think your boyfriend got away,” she said. “Both brothers were gone.”

Megan looked up.

“I only mention it because it presents a new problem for me and my friends.” Gina was pacing now.

Lucas is alive? She wouldn’t dare hope. “What… what do you mean… ‘problem’? If they’re still alive then the last thing they’d want is to cross paths with your group again. Like I told you, we were trying to get away- ”

“Doesn’t matter,” Gina said. “If your boyfriend knows I have you in custody, then he’ll come for us and do something reckless to get you back. Hell… that’s what I would do.”

“If he’s out there… I could talk to him,” Megan suggested. “I know he regretted what happened. That’s why we were trying to get out. We were going to leave those lunatics and find a safe place.”

“And where were you headed exactly?” Gina asked, tossing the flyer on the bed. “Tell me what that means,” she commanded, pointing at the symbol.

Megan shook her head in frustration. “Donovan didn’t say much about it. Only that it was a safe place… perhaps the only safe place left. I know the symbol means Mother, and that whoever these people are knew that the outbreak was coming.”

Gina was stunned. “You mean to tell me that you’re headed to this ‘Evacuation Center’ in the middle of some wildlife preserve… and you don’t know jack-shit about it?”

Megan frowned. “Seems pretty foolish when you put it that way.”

“Damn straight it’s foolish!” Gina tried to stay calm. “A thousand years ago, we tried to reach a marina in Fairport Harbor. We had some notion we could simply hop a boat and find an island or something. When we got there, this fucking symbol was spray painted all over the walls in an area where zombies were being stored. It turned out to be a trap… we lost two people that day.”

“I’m… I’m sorry,” Megan said. “There’s a whole lot of things I wish I knew… ” she trailed off, as something else dawned on her. “Donovan left us at a barn with a dead woman. He was gone for days. We were attacked and it all turned out to be some elaborate set-up to test us… to see what we’d do and how we’d hold up under the stress… and other psychological shit. Sounds a little like this marina you mentioned. Maybe you and your friends were being observed… to see what would happen. Maybe that’s what Mother is all about? I’m so fucking stupid. Maybe you should just kill me.”

Gina studied the sad girl’s face. Yes, she’d come to the same connection after reading Megan’s account of their time at the barn. It seemed like Donovan was responsible for manipulating events and messing with their minds. She believed the girl, and was convinced that whatever answers could be had about the mysterious symbol had died with the archer.

She tossed Megan the notebook. “I got everything I could from that. Thought you might want it back.”

“Thank you,” she said absently.

Gina picked up the flyer. “I’m keeping this.”

“Good riddance,” Megan hissed. “We had already decided to avoid that place and try for the power plant.”

“The Percy Power Plant?” Gina asked.

Megan’s eyes lit up. “Yes… have you heard any news from there? We picked up a transmission weeks ago telling people it was a safe place to go… but we haven’t heard anything since then. The radio is nothing but static now.”

“That place is a graveyard,” Gina said coldly.

“Are you sure? It sounded promising- ”

“We were part of that camp. You’re looking at the only survivors that made it out of there… everyone else was slaughtered. We witnessed it. Trust me, that place is death.”

Megan was crushed. She looked down at her belly. “So there really is no safe place left.” She felt defeated.

Gina turned toward the door and said, “I’ll have some more questions for you after I’ve talked to the others.”

“Please don’t hurt him,” she said.

Gina stopped, refusing to look at the broken woman.

“You’re probably right. If he knows I’m here, he’ll try something stupid and then you will be forced to kill him.”

Gina frowned, her face hidden in shadow. “He was a good man who kept us from losing sight of what was right and just. He never lost his faith in God, even after this sick fucking world killed his daughter. Time and time again, when the rest of us were losing hope, he would bring us back from the brink and remind us why it was important to keep on trying… to find a safe place.”

Megan nodded and said, “I’m deeply sorry for your loss, Gina. He sounds… wonderful. We could’ve used a man like that with us. Maybe we wouldn’t have forgotten what was truly important. Maybe we would’ve remembered how to treat people if someone like him had been around.”

Gina turned, tears filling her eyes. “You try to hold on as best you can, even after this world makes you forget… when it makes you do things… bad things…”

Megan did not know how to respond.

Gina quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and exited the room.

~~~

Next Episode (24-5):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/chapter-24-5-blood-required/

Previous Episode (24-3):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/chapter-23-3-blood-required/

~~~

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________________________________________________
“Chapter 24-4: 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.

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Comments
  1. Artcp says:

    Hey Scott, got some typos:

    – “But I was joke to them;
    I was a joke

    – and what they’re next move would be
    their next move

    – “We don’t shoot unless with have to,”
    unless we have to

    – “Do you honestly think there’s no distinction between us and those fucking things that used to be us!”
    Missing question mark.

    ;D

    Like

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