Unknown46

~~~

That’s it, Gina thought as she looked at the man who resembled her dead hopes and dreams. I’ve finally lost my fucking mind!

“Gina?” the man asked again, needing to repeat her name for fear that the woman who stood before him would simply disappear before his very eyes.

“No fucking way,” Sam said. “This is… her?”

Gina forced herself to focus and raised the gun. Breathe… damn it… breathe!

Sam raised her gun again in response, now unsure how to proceed.

“Sam… lower your gun… I mean it,” Tony cautioned. “I don’t know what the fuck is happening here… but you need to stand down right fucking now.” Tony took a menacing step forward and balled his fists.

Gina was sweating. She couldn’t stop her hands from shaking. This is too much… TOO MUCH! her mind screamed.

And then Frank was standing beside her. “Gina. It’s alright. Put it away.” He looked toward Sam pleadingly and finished, “Put it away… and I’ll go with her peacefully.”

Gina refused to look away from the cop’s angry eyes. She was losing it… badly… but was too afraid to do anything else but hold the gun in the woman’s face. If she looked back at the ghost, she would scream.

Frank was blocking her vision now. He stood in front of her and said, “Look at me.”

Gina looked into Frank’s eyes.

“He’s alive… your Tony is alive… Wrap your mind around that because it’s a fact. He’s standing right over there.”

Gina made herself look over at the tired looking man, into his sad eyes that were not there before, but that were still his eyes… and then she knew it had to be him.

“Oh my God,” she whispered, as tears streamed down her cheeks. She was shaking badly now. She looked back up at Frank and smiled, “He’s really here… isn’t he?”

Frank shared a rare smile and laughed. “I’ll be a son-of-a-bitch, but yeah, he’s really here. He’s staring at you like your some fucking figment of his imagination. Now, give me the gun.” He gently grabbed her wrists.

Gina let go of the handgun and Frank took it.

Tony looked like he was about to lose his mind.

“Drop it! Now!” Sam screamed.

Frank frowned, looked past Gina toward Meredith and Stephen and said, “Sorry… I didn’t see this coming.” He dropped the gun to the ground and placed his hands behind his head. He said over his shoulder, “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t shoot me in the back in front of all these people… officer. I trust you still carry cuffs.” He then said loudly for all to hear, “I’m turning myself in. This is over.”

Sam looked confused. She was torn between her old loyalties to the uniform and her need to satisfy her long, pent-up anger at being thrown off the roof by this murderer. She looked over at Orosco, Tony, and then half a dozen others that all gave her the same questionable look. “Fuck!” she said, quickly holstering her handgun. She reached around her belt and retrieved her handcuffs. Sam walked up behind Frank, kicked the handgun back behind her and then ordered, “Get on your knees… slowly.”

Frank complied and Sam quickly moved in and placed his hands in the cuffs.

Gina moved back and put her hands over her face. She looked over at Tony.

Tony nodded toward her but was unable to find words as he began to weep openly, not yet able to move.

They shared a silent moment, absorbing each other’s pain and relief all rolled into one.

Sam roughly put Frank into the prone position and searched him for weapons.

Meredith quickly stepped in. “Officer… I don’t know what Mr. Frank has done, but I can attest to his character over the last month. He’s saved our lives on more than one occasion.”

“That’s fucking wonderful, lady, but he’s still a murderer,” Sam said.

“Then I believe a trial is in order to determine his guilt or innocence,” Stephen said.

“Say what?” Sam shot the man a nasty look. “You’re fucking kidding me, right?”

Stephen continued. “You are a representative of the Law… perhaps the last one around… and it’s your sworn duty to uphold the Law. Am I wrong?”

“Buddy, I don’t know what planet you’re still living on… but there is no fucking law anymore,” Sam said.

“He’s entitled by the Law to a jury by his peers to determine his guilt or innocence. You… you are sworn to protect his rights.” Stephen was in rare form. He refused to back down. “In fact, I believe you’re supposed to read him his Miranda Rights in this instance- ”

“Oh… would you just shut the fuck up!” Sam said.

“No,” Orosco chimed in. “No… Sam, he’s got a point.”

Sam shot him a look.

He smiled and said, “I’m just sayin’, Sam, if you go around just killing people and disregarding their rights, you might as well be spitting on the Constitution and all that’s good and decent. We may be on our own right now, but that doesn’t mean order won’t be restored eventually. You shoot this man, you might as well label yourself a criminal too.”

Tony turned and gave him a surprising look.

“Okay… so maybe I’m believin’ a little bit more than I did this morning,” he said.

Sam looked at the black man and then at Stephen. She finally shook her head and said, “Un-fucking-believable. Zombie fucking apocalypse and I’m still surrounded by lawyers.” She took a deep breath and said, “Orosco, you just volunteered yourself to take a handful of folks, go find the town jail, and make sure it’s habitable. You’ve just been deputized.”

Orosco was smiling from ear to ear. He looked over at Stephen who gave him an approving nod. “I’ll get right on it,” he said, and started off.

She suddenly thought about her old partner, Ackers, and wondered if he was looking down from cop heaven at that moment to see what she would do. Do the right thing, Sam, he could hear him saying through the firewall of her constant temper.

She looked down at Frank, and said, “Frank Carman, you low-life piece-of-shit, you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law…”

Tony slowly approached the weeping woman with long red hair and distant green eyes. She looked so different than the stripper he remembered. Gina had gone through hell, that much was easily apparent, and although she looked the same, he knew that she was now a different woman than the one he knew nearly a month ago. He stood before her and said, “Gina… I’m… I’m glad… it’s fucking good to see you.”

She looked up into his tear-filled eyes, felt his deep longing reaching out from the sad depths that she discovered there, and placed her arms around him.

Tony held her tightly and they wept together for a long time.

Frank smiled as he watched the two of them, no longer listening to the babbling police officer, no longer caring about his fate, no longer interested in survival, being a hard-ass, fucking zombies, or focusing on the pain and anger of losing his friend, Greg. In that moment, he was witnessing a rare miracle and he wanted to soak it all in. He felt warm inside, like what the fucking Grinch must have felt when he figured out what Christmas was all about. It was an odd, new sensation for Frank Carman… and he just wanted to savor it as he felt happy for Gina. You two deserve this moment, he thought. Fuck… finally! We needed something good to happen. Embrace it, girl. Embrace it while you have it, because this world will steal anything good before too long.

~~~

Gina didn’t put a fight when Frank was escorted to the town jail. In fact, Frank insisted on it. Both Tony and Orosco assured her that they’d keep him safe and keep Sam away from him for the time being. Considering the new developments about her traveling companion, Gina consented to the temporary arrangements.

Sam had already moved on and was busy securing the downtown area of Andover. Gina was amazed by the woman’s ability to govern her group of thirty people, giving them jobs and keeping everyone on the same page as some moved vehicles to block off the streets making a temporary wall around the area. She had others foraging the storefronts and making sure there were no zombies lurking in the buildings. Sam kept saying how delighted she was that the town was ‘so damn zombie free’ and Gina was quick to point out that the lake was where most of them had congregated and that they should stay clear of that area. Tony was quick to confirm this. Sam established armed patrols around their makeshift perimeter while others were put on rooftops to watch for surprises coming into town from any direction. Sam wanted everything secure before nightfall. Gina was not resistant to anything Sam suggested, feeling relieved to have someone else ‘take charge’ for a change. She even asked Marcus, Meredith and Stephen to help in any way they saw fit and they were delighted to do so. Sam showed her appreciation by simply accepting the newcomers to the group, since that was how their group had grown from three to thirty in the time they’d been traveling across farmlands and other small towns.

Included within the perimeter was the small park where Gina’s people had said goodbye to Greg and Amanda. Tony and Gina sat on a park bench and filled each other in on everything that had happened to them since they last saw each other. They both carefully omitted details of their travels. Tony was not yet ready to tell her about how he murdered two men with a crowbar and Gina was equally concerned about what he would think of her if she told him about what happened at the office building nearby. She was constantly staring toward the tall building and was relieved when Sam had decided to stay clear of the building and not include it in the perimeter.

Tony glanced at the unmarked grave of Greg Dempsey and then stared into Gina’s tired face as she stared at the mound of dirt, lost in nightmares that owned the day. He said, “I know it must have been hard on you, having to watch people you care about die.”

She tensed up as Tony struck a little too close to her troubled thoughts. “We started out with ten people, everyone else is gone now.”

Tony nodded. He was thinking of Lydia from the basement prison, and Heather from the truck stop. He hadn’t known either of them as friends once did in the old world, but relationships were different now. The constant threat of death brought people together much faster these days, getting to know the heart of someone in hours and minutes now that all the bullshit was wiped away and only the hard truth of surviving remained. There was no time for social games and the numerous masks people once wore when you could hide yourself among the vast majority of the living where people went unnoticed on a regular basis. This was no longer possible. There just wasn’t that many people left anymore and finding anyone alive to share your burdens and fears with, was a blessing.

“The hardest part for me,” Tony said, “was finding the ones that had already given up. They were dead inside and just waiting for an opportunity to end it all. I didn’t know how to handle that… still don’t.”

She looked into his eyes and asked, “Did you ever feel that way?”

He shook his head. “No.” He turned to her and smiled. “I had you to keep me going.”

Gina looked away and frowned. “I… I thought you died. They kept me going. I made it all about them and I couldn’t keep them safe. I think I lost myself in the process.”

“You did the best you could… hell, after all you’ve been through, the fact that we’re here… now… is quite an accomplishment.”

“I suppose you’re right. It just doesn’t feel like a victory.” She looked around and said, “All this… being a part of a larger group out of nowhere… it all seems temporary to me. We got used to not expecting much. If I didn’t know any better, I would say we were cursed.”

Tony gave her a concerned look. “Do you feel that way now? I’d say your group’s luck has changed. Just the fact that we found each other is really something.”

“I hear you, Tony, I really do. I just don’t… I just don’t know how to process all of this yet. You, me, this Andover community… I guess I’ve just let myself grow hard to the possibility of getting any of it back. Just bear with me, alright?”

“You’ve changed,” Tony said.

Gina gave him an alarming look.

“You’ve changed. I’ve changed. Everyone has changed. We’ve all had to deal with things we never imagined possible… and do things we never knew we were capable of.”

Gina shifted uncomfortably.

Tony looked away and sighed. “It’s an ugly world out there full of ugly choices, but we have a real good chance now of turning it all around. We’ve got a lot of good people here and now that you and I have found each other, against the odds, there’s no need to go back to the ashes of what was. We can just start over and restore the good things… and learn from the bad things. We’ll find a place where we can stop waiting for the other shoe to drop and begin living again.”

She saw his old smile surface, the one that she loved, and felt surprising angry. He’s still the same man… even after everything that he’s been through… and I’ve turned into a monster!
“What’s wrong, Gina?”

She smiled, but she wanted to cry. “I can see why these people gravitate toward you. You’re so full of hope… and life… and everything that made me fall in love with you…” She was surprised by her own admission.

Tony was stunned. “Gina… I… I love you.”

This is all wrong. This is bullshit! I’m not supposed to feel like this… I’m supposed to feel happy, like a fucking princess who has just been reunited with her prince. I’m so fucked up.

Tony’s face changed. He was also surprised by his own admission. Again, the state of the new world had simply cut away the bullshit, leaving no time for words left unsaid and emotions unexpressed. “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to… it’s just that I regretted never telling you that before… and now that we’re together again, it’s like we got a second chance… I didn’t want to wait another minute without telling you exactly how I feel.”

“You’re in love with her.”

“Excuse me?”

“You’re in love with that girl you knew back at the strip club. I was so fucking naïve back then. I had these big plans, you see. I was going to ask you to come away with me… just the two of us. It didn’t matter where as long we just got out of that dead-end life and lived. I used to understand what that meant… to live. Now, I just don’t know who I am anymore… there’s been so much pain.”

He reached out to her. “Gina… it’s alright. We can get through this.”

She recoiled from his touch. “That’s what I’m talking about. You… your still you… from before. I don’t feel hopeful or have it within me to believe that we’ll be alive tomorrow, let alone beyond that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I feel dead, Tony! I’m just going through the motions, hiding behind the mantle of ‘leader’ all this time because it gave me something to focus everything on… to keep me from facing the darkness growing within me. I’m not the woman you fell in love with. I’m cold, indifferent… alone. Now that I don’t have to be the one in charge anymore, I feel lost… out of place… out of sync with me.”

Tony struggled for something to say. “You just need some time to adjust, Gina. I get it.”

“No… you don’t. I’ve done bad things, Tony. Real bad things. Things that only a person who is disconnected could do. And I don’t feel remorse or pity or… anything even remotely resembling hope. There’s just anger, darkness… numbness. I can’t even say that I wouldn’t do them again… these bad things.”

He looked into Gina’s eyes and saw the truth. She was very different now… perhaps too different. But he wasn’t willing to believe it yet. “I’m not giving up on you.”

Gina smiled and touched his cheek. “That’s so very like you.”

“You’re not lost to me,” Tony said. “I didn’t hold out hope all this time to find you, just to lose you to the fucking dark, Gina. Okay, you’re not in a great place… I can accept that. But you’re not allowed to give up on us. Do you hear me?”

Gina looked desperately into Tony’s intense eyes and nodded. “I’ll try to hold on… for you… for us.”

He remembered something Lydia told him, drugged out of her mind, while chained together in that basement. Tony didn’t understand then, but he understood what she meant now. “Just don’t feed it, Gina. Don’t you dare feed the dark.”

~~~

Next Episode (25-4):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/chapter-25-4-reunions-and-departures/

Previous Episode (25-2):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/chapter-25-2-reunions-and-departures/

~~~

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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________________________________________________
“Chapter 25-3: Reunions and Departures” 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. Tracy says:

    We’re at the end and after reading all this I sit and wonder how many times a day every one of us in this world Feed The Dark knowing that it’s not worth it! Doing the bad things we do, taking friends and family for granted thinking that they’ll always be there, Lying, cheating, and worse things we all do on a daily basis! Will we have a tomorrow to repent to make things better do we deserve a tomorrow after the things we’ve all done! It’s funny we can learn something from reading a zombie novel. I’m sad to see it’s over! Remember people on a daily basis, Think before you act and please DON’T FEED THE DARK!! And to the author if you’ve written something like this before or are writing something like this I’d love to have the name so I can read it! A very good read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Hello, Tracy. I’m glad you are enjoying this tale and thanks for sharing your thougts about what you and I and these characters face every day. Hopefully we won’t need a zombie apocalypse to wake us up to all that we stand to take for granted if we’re not careful. Now look what you’ve done… you got me going :) I get the impression that you believe this episode was the conclusion? Not yet. We’ve still got the rest of this chapter and two more to follow. Thanks for stopping by and for reading and for your insightful comments :)

      Like

  2. B says:

    Hi Scott, I’m a long time reader of your novel. I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your writing. You somehow managed to make a genre that is so full of copies of copies of originals feel fresh again. I never thought I could enjoy the downtime (away from the action) as much as I have here. Initially I felt an “argh…” when the action stopped and you got into your characters stories. Usually I feel that the ‘people stories’ don’t get a fair shake, but you have managed to keep my interest and somehow involve me in the internal struggles of your characters. I think you have a great thing going here and I can’t wait to see what kinds of answers we get; as to why there are 3 different kinds of zombies, what Mother is, and what happened to our friend Russell from way back.

    On another note, I’d like to say that I am very impressed with the pace you are able to put the chapters out here for us to enjoy. If you are writing the story day-by-day, then this is even more impressive. Are you? Maybe you have already written it all beforehand and are just publishing piece by piece? I’d really love to find out the answer if you are inclined to give it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Hello B, and thank you for your encouraging comments. I’m glad I’ve managed to bring a little life to this overdone genre and it is the character driven stories that made me want to write it. I am fascinated by the struggle these people face in this horrific new world and I hope it pays off in the writing.

      As far as the pace, I had half of it written when I started posting online back in February, was writing new material while posting earlier stuff, but the blog finally caught up with me back in September and I’ve been writing on the fly ever since then. It’s hard to maintain this three-days a-week pace but what’s helping is that I’m so close to the finish line of this long story arc, that the words are just spilling on the pages now. If anything has suffered from telling a story in this format it is that I have very little time to edit and that’s why I call this one long draft.

      I hope you stick around to the end. I’m sure you will have some of your questions answered… but keep in mind that this is building work and the first book in a series, so some answers will be pending. I’ve got big plans for everything that’s been introduced so far.

      Thanks again for reading and letting me know what you think. That’s means a lot :)

      Like

  3. Tracy says:

    Hi Scott, I was also wondering about the 3 different types of zombies. I thought the slow ones we’re reanimated that were dead for along time and came up out of the ground from cemeteries that’s why they’re slow they’re old. I’d really like to know about the shadow people, I thought they were the yellow eyed zombies and they were fast becaus they were ones that were just killed and just turned into zombies. But not all people that were just killed turned into yellow eyed zombies.
    So I’m confused, hoping you could explain.Great writing! I also cann’t wait to see what answers we get.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Hello Tracy and welcome back :) I know it’s a bit confusing right now, but I’ll try to break it down a little:

      The reanimated or the ‘slow ones’ are your typical dead brought back to life zombies. Anyone infected by this type becomes the same. But the amount of time it takes varies. That’s what happened to Greg’s daughter. She was infected but had not died until they got her to the river.

      The ‘yellow-eyed’ zombies are a result of “The Change” that affected the living at random and all at once. If someone is infected by one of these monsters, they turn into a ‘grey-eyed’ half dead. That’s what happened to everyone in the town of Harpersfield as they allowed themselves to be bitten by the head of the ‘yellow-eyed’ god they worshiped.

      The ‘grey-eyed’ or mercury colored infected, are going through a very slow process of dying from the inside out, much like a disease, and the first symptoms of this infection is madness. For those that survive the initial madness, they retain some control, but they are neither living nor dead, but something in between.

      And then there are the ‘red-eyed’ zombies. Russell Bower encountered them in Chapter 1 and they are also present on the tracks during the boxcar attack. It’s believed that they are nocturnal and more animal than anything else. They are a possible result of humans being infected by infected animals. Not much is known at this time.

      As far as the mysterious Shadow Dead… well, Chapter 26 wil cover them in more detail.

      Hope that helps some ;)

      Like

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