Prison2

~~~

After the meeting at the diner, former Police Officer, Samantha Petroskovich, took a walk around the town perimeter trying to make herself tired enough to attempt a few hours of sleep. As she approached the town jail, Sam stopped and thought, I can’t get that son-of-a-bitch out of my head. A fucking trial? You’ve got to be kidding me!

She decided she’d waited long enough. It was time to get some answers. Sam walked into the gloomy jail and found Orosco and Stephen playing a game of chess near a small battery-powered camping lantern they’d placed on one of the small office desks. Immediately behind them were three cells. The center one was occupied by Frank Carman who was lying on a cot, reading a book by candlelight.

Stephen and Orosco looked surprised to see her and got to their feet.

Frank simply put the book down beside him and waited.

“Sam,” Orosco said, looking alarmed. “Is everything alright?”

Stephen immediately backed up and stood in front of Frank’s cell. “You’re not supposed to be in here,” he said.

“Relax,” she told them both. “I’m not here to cause any trouble. I already agreed to your stupid trial… although I think it’s just a waste of time.” She unfastened her gun belt and held it out to Orosco. “Here, hold on to this while I’m in here. That should make everyone feel more at ease.”

Orosco held up his hands and said, “That isn’t necessary, Sam. We’ve got everything under control.”

“I want to talk to Frank… alone,” she said. “Take my gun and please get the fuck out of here… both of you.”

Stephen looked reluctant to leave.

“It’s alright, Stephen,” Frank said. “Why don’t you two take a break. I’m obviously not going anywhere.” He looked at Sam and finished with a smile, “Myself and Officer Sam, here, go way back. We’ve got a few unsettled things to discuss and I trust that she won’t break our temporary truce.”

“That’s an interesting way to put it,” Sam said. “He’s right. You two can wait outside the front door if that will make you feel better.”

Stephen nodded and turned to Frank. “If there’s a problem, you just holler. I’ll be right outside.”

Frank nodded with amusement.

Orosco frowned and took Sam’s gun belt. “Just to make everyone feel better, Sam. No offense intended.”

“None taken. I’ll call you both when we’re finished.”

They both walked outside and closed the office door behind them.

Frank sat up and said, “I was wondering when we were going to get to this.”

Sam looked at the prisoner who was much thinner than the man she remembered, especially in the face. Frank Carman was still a big man with a tangled mess of curly black hair atop his head. She expected that same smart-mouthed man that knew how to push buttons and get under her skin, but all she saw in Frank now was another tired face with eyes that mirrored the horrors she’d seen in so many faces these days.

Sam walked up to the cell bars and said with a smug smile, “Well… here we are again… back where we started—you on that side of the bars and me on this side. It’s a bit ironic, don’t you think?”

Frank laughed. “I was thinking the same thing when you first came in.” He waited.

Sam looked impatient. “What? No ‘Cop Bitch’ with a clever insult in an attempt to get under my skin? I’m a little disappointed.”

“Sorry, Officer, but my fondness for games went away when the world took a shit. What would you like to discuss?”

Sam frowned. “I see that you’ve become a ‘to the point’ man now. That’s new. All right then. Trial or no fucking trial, you’re not leaving this town alive. Believe me, I’ll find a way to end your sorry existence even if I have to make it look like an accident to satisfy the bleeding hearts that are keeping you safe right now.”

Frank nodded. “I figured as much. Honestly, you would be doing me a favor… I’m pretty fucking tired of all this apocalypse bullshit anyway. Anything else?”

Sam was getting irritated. “That’s all you’ve got? What the fuck happened to you, Frank? Or were you always this much of a pussy, waiting to lie down and die? Wait… don’t answer that, because I already know what kind of man you truly are. You’re the type of man that throws people off of rooftops when their backs are turned and you like to feed the injured to the dead to save your sorry ass.”

Frank said nothing.

“What I don’t understand is why the people you’re traveling with are so eager to rush to your defense. Sure, you’ve lied your ass off to them and they don’t know you like I do, but I figured you would’ve got some of them killed before now to keep yourself alive. That is what bottom feeders like you do.”

Frank continued to remain silent.

She was getting angry now. “I don’t give a rat’s ass what they come up with in your defense because it’s easy to look like a fucking hero when you show a little strength. I imagine your ‘group’ was hard-up for anyone who could protect them from the flesh-eaters out there… am I right? You show up, kill a few zombies for them and they think you’re a swell guy, when really all you did was let the killer loose. But they’ll say you saved the fucking day time and time again. That’s what the weak always say about the strong. When push comes to shove, they’re just grateful to be alive and they don’t care who’s doing the killing or how, just as long as it’s not them getting their hands dirty. Does that about cover it?”

Frank raised an eyebrow and asked, “I’m confused. Are we still talking about me… or you?”

“Fuck you!”

He raised his hands and said, “Look, I’m not trying to keep this fire alive with you. You want to call me a piece-of-shit and spell out the details… fine. Just don’t call my friends weak, because that would a serious error in judgment on your part. You got it all wrong. They’re the strong ones. It took me a long time to figure that out.”

“Whatever, convict. I don’t care who they are or what they say to protect you… I’m going to tell them every pathetic thing you did until they understand who you really are. After that, I bet even your friends never trust you again.”

“You’re probably right,” Frank said. “But that’s on me. What I want to know, short of seeing me die, is what it will take to end this between us? What are you looking for here? Revenge? If that’s all you want than you’ll get it soon enough.”

It was Sam’s turn to stay silent.

“I can’t change what I did to you. I can give you something honest, if that would help.”

“Honest? That will be the day.”

“I was relieved when I saw you alive in that diner,” Frank said. “I knew I was up Shit Creek… but I was glad you didn’t die… that I failed to murder you. And for what it’s worth, I’m truly sorry that I threw you off of that roof. In the past few weeks, I’ve come to regret a lot of things I’ve done.”

“Just shut up,” Sam hissed. “You just shut your fucking mouth!” She turned around and walked toward the desks, trying to calm down. She turned back and pointed in his face. “You don’t get to do that! You don’t get to feel ‘sorry’ about what you did to me! It’s too late to do something right after abusing my trust and throwing me in that fucking dumpster to get eaten by the dead! How dare you apologize to me!”

“I wasn’t expecting your forgiveness,” Frank said. “I just wanted you to know that it troubled me that I killed you… when I thought you were dead. That it mattered to me.”

“Give me a fucking break!” she shouted. “We’re done here. I can’t hear any more of your bullshit!”

Sam stormed out of the jail, past a stunned Orosco and Stephen, not even remembering to grab her gun belt as she walked the perimeter three times until she finally calmed down.

She felt cheated; robbed of her prize. Sam hated the fact that the Frank Carman she now had in custody was not the same Frank Carman she wanted to destroy.

Sam did not appreciate what the imposter in that jail cell forced her to face about herself.

~~~

Gina heard the woman’s voice calling out again from down in the ravine near the railroad tracks.

“PLEASE…HELP ME! I’M… I’M HURT AND ALL ALONE DOWN HERE!”

She picked herself up off the tracks and turned toward the others. Greg and Frank had just returned from finding the boxcar. Everyone ran over to greet them, ignoring the woman’s pleas as if she were already dead.

“What’s wrong with all of you?” she shouted toward them.

None of them turned. No one heard her, just like no one heard the woman crying out from the ravine.

Gina immediately felt the sensation of déjà vu as she remembered this place… this moment.

We left her down there, she thought. I called down to the woman and told her help was coming… but I lied and walked away with the others.

“I CAN HEAR YOU UP THERE. PLEASE… DON’T LEAVE ME DOWN HERE!”

Gina turned back toward the others. They were already walking up the tracks, disappearing around the next bend.

“You’ve got to be kidding me! Where the fuck are you all going?” she shouted.

They did not turn around. Except this time she saw the back of a woman with red hair, shoulders slouched over and dragging behind, stealing tear-filled looks back toward Gina.

“Fuck… that’s me! That’s exactly what I did… before. I let the others talk me into the wrong decision and we all left that poor woman to rot down there.” The second Gina, from before, finally turned away and rounded the bend.

The woman fell silent.

Gina felt entirely alone now. She was torn between helping the woman and being stuck down there in the dark as the sun slipped behind the tree line.

Those things will be out soon—the monsters that attacked the boxcar, she thought. That’s when we heard the woman scream!

She could not understand why she was still standing near the ravine while she knew this was not what had happened.

“Fuck it,” she said. “I can do something this time. I’ve got a second chance to make this right… or die trying.”

Gina started down the ravine, feeling extremely pleased with herself for not going against her conscience this time. She would find the girl, tend to her wounds and together they could find somewhere to wait out the night.

“I’m going to make this right,” she said. Gina called down to the woman, “Hold on, I’m coming. Do you hear me? I’m coming down to help you… for real this time.”

The woman did not respond.

Gina suddenly started slipping as the ravine was steeper than it looked. She tumbled downward, striking tree branches and bouncing down the steep and rock-infested terrain until she came crashing into a river.

She managed to get to her feet, amazed that she hadn’t broken both of her legs. Gina looked up the cliff she’d fallen down and could no longer see the top as the tree canopy blocked her view. She looked around, trying to find the woman. It was much darker down here… and damp.

Gina stared into the dense forest around her, unsure of which way to go.

“Hel… hello?” the woman called. Her voice was much weaker now… but she sounded close.

“Keep calling out,” Gina said. “I can hear you… but you need to keep calling out so I can find you.”

“Over here,” the woman called. “Please… please hurry. I don’t think I can hold on much longer.”

“You will hold on!” Gina shouted. “I didn’t come all the way down here to find a dead body! Hold on!” Gina started through the brush, desperately trying to find the woman before she lost what little light she had left. And then she saw the woman’s legs sticking out from behind a large tree.

“Is that you… is that you, Gina?” the woman called out.

She stopped in her tracks when the woman called her name. What the fuck is this? she thought.

Gina cautiously approached the tree and began to move around it until she saw the woman, sitting up against the trunk. As she cleared the remaining brush, Gina was shocked when she saw a pregnant woman with long blond hair.

“Megan?” she whispered in disbelief.

The woman stared at her and frowned. “Why… why did it have to be you?” she asked accusingly.

Gina shook her head. “How… how did you get down here? I don’t understand?”

Megan’s face turned angry. “You let me walk away… you let walk right into hell… and now my baby is dead!”

“No… I didn’t have any idea,” Gina said, trying desperately to explain. “I only just found out how dangerous your Headquarters was. If I had known- ”

“If you had known, it would’ve made no difference,” Megan fired back. “You wanted to use me to kill my baby’s father and his brother. You’re a monster! And now… now I’m dead, my baby’s dead… everybody that went to that horrible place is dead… and you just watched it happen… again! Just like the woman who called to you for help and you left her down here to die!”

“No!” Gina was shaking her head. “I wanted to help… but I was… I was afraid before. I was still a good person then!”

“Liar!”

“I had no idea where you were headed! You made it sound like a safe place! HOW COULD I HAVE FUCKING KNOWN?”

Megan laughed and held up the palm of her hand, showing Gina the three-pronged symbol with the eye branded into her flesh. “When you read my flyer… you knew! YOU KNEW!!!”

Gina took a step back. “No… I mean… I knew the symbol was bad… but I didn’t piece it all together in time… I didn’t think- ”

“You were too busy trying to kill us all!” Megan interrupted.

Gina had no defense.

Megan was crying now, patting her belly. “You could’ve stopped me. You could’ve kept me safe with your group… but you didn’t. And now we’re all dead because you walked away from that ravine… again!”

Gina closed her eyes and turned around. She couldn’t breathe. “No!” she shouted. “No… I… NO!!!”

When she opened her eyes, it was dark. She heard a low growl from behind her. She turned around in time to see the hideous red eyes of the creature that had just ripped Megan’s baby from her belly.

“I didn’t know,” she whispered to the indifferent beast.

The red-eyed monster revealed its bloody teeth and savagely sank them in Gina’s throat…

~~~

…Gina bolted up out of sleep, drenched in sweat. She couldn’t breathe as she could still feel the monster’s teeth locked around her neck.

“Gina,” Tony said from next to her in the dark. “It’s all right… just a nightmare.” He held her until she stopped shaking as her disorientation lifted and she began to piece together where she was.

I’m in the bedroom above the diner… where we held Megan. Just the thought of the girl’s name made her shiver in the darkness.

Tony let her go and lit the candle on the nightstand. “Must have been a bad one,” he said. “Are you okay?”

Gina looked over at Tony and smiled. “I’ve never… I’ve never gotten used to the fucking nightmares. They’re ten times worse than zombies any day.”

Tony laughed. “Yeah… I guess our dreams are the one place we’re completely unprotected… when our guards are down. It sucks.”

Gina looked into Tony’s concerned eyes and nodded. She was grateful that he’d stayed with her… and that he hadn’t expected anything more intimate than talking. After the meeting earlier that evening, Gina had bombarded him with specific questions about his escape from the wilderness preserve. The story he had told her was terrifying.

“It must have been… awful… that place you and Sam spoke of.”

Tony took a deep breath. “That’s what your nightmare was about. I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“No, Tony. I didn’t dream of that.” She looked reluctant to continue. “I dreamt about that girl… Megan. She was headed to that camp… the camp you all fought so hard to escape from. She had no idea what she was getting into. I don’t think any of them did. I guess I feel… responsible, in a way.”

“How so?” Tony asked. “If I’m remembering what you told me right, she was part of that group that tried to kill all of you. So it sounds to me like they would all fit in to that crazy group up there.”

“No… not the girl,” Gina said. “She was just looking out for her unborn child and wanted a safe place to carry out her pregnancy.” Gina felt immediately sad. Maybe I could’ve done something… seen something that would’ve made a red light go off in my fucking head! If I’d kept her here one more damn day she would’ve known the truth about that place…

“Gina? You don’t look well?”

She looked to Tony and gave him her best bullshit reassuring smile. “I just need to sleep this off. Everything will look better in the morning.”

They lied back down in the bed and Gina looked over at the big man. I’ve been wanting to fuck your brains out as long as I can remember, she thought, and now that I’ve finally got you in bed, taking off our clothes is the farthest thing from our minds. The apocalypse is hell on the sex drive.

As if hearing her thoughts, Tony turned to her and asked, “Did you say something?”

“No,” she said, wishing she could turn it all off—all the bad stuff—and lose herself in him. She was grateful that Tony had not inquired about the night they were separated—when she was brutally raped. She knew he hadn’t asked about that night because he already blamed himself for not being there when the world went insane. If she shared what happened to her after they were both drugged… Tony would never forgive himself. There was already enough tension between them without adding that horrible experience to the equation. “It’s still hard to believe you’re lying beside me right now,” she added. “Ask me yesterday if I thought this could happen, and I would’ve cried my fucking eyes out… not in front of anyone, of course.”

Tony smiled in the candle light and said, “You have turned into quite the bad ass. I’ve seen the way your people respond to you. I can tell they’re used to you taking charge of things.”

Gina shifted uncomfortably and said, “Yeah… they’re just afraid of me these days. Meredith, the older woman in my group, she tried to warn me once.”

“Warn you of what?”

“That I was becoming… cold.”

Tony did not want to revisit this discussion. He decided to tell her something he’d withheld earlier. “Remember the woman, Heather, I mentioned at the truck-stop motel?”

“Yeah… you told me about her family in the car… that must have been awful.”

“Before I found her, I was woken up by two men that were looting the motel. I found out that they were part of the group that had been there before. Heather told me they raped and murdered her friend.”

Gina sat silently listening. She could see the horror in Tony’s eyes.

“Anyway, I caught them by surprise and I thought they did something… awful… to Heather, because I couldn’t find her… Anyway, I got mad… you know… when I thought about what they did to her… and I had this crowbar…” He was having trouble.

Gina could clearly see where this was headed. She reached over and held him. “You don’t have to finish this story.”

“Yeah,” he said, “I do.” He swallowed hard and said, “I was so mad and I started beating them again… and again… and then they were dead.”

My God, he can’t stop shaking! she thought, holding him tighter. She silently cursed this fucked-up world for making her Tony do what he did.

He took a breath and said, “Anyway… when I found her alive… there was no time to process what I’d done. But eventually the nightmares came, Gina. And now a day doesn’t go by that I don’t sometimes feel that cold steel in my hand and remember how out of control I was…”

“Don’t waste another thought on those rapist bastards, Tony. They had it coming. They all have it coming. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Tony was stunned by Gina’s response. “I wasn’t trying to excuse my actions, Gina. This isn’t about what they were, or what they deserved. It’s about what they turned me into. I can’t be like that again… ever.”

“Of course,” Gina quickly said. “And I know that you won’t. That’s why you’re one of the good guys.” ‘Good guys’? Did I just fucking say that?

She slowly let go of Tony and rolled over on her side. “We should get some sleep. I don’t know what I’m saying when I’m this tired.”

Tony gave her a puzzled look and said, “Yeah… you’re right. Goodnight, Gina.”

“Goodnight, Tony.”

He blew out the candle and pretended to close his eyes while he stared at the back of the stranger in the bed.

They both remained awake in the dark, wrestling with troubled thoughts, until falling into more nightmare-infested sleep.

~~~

Next Episode (25-6):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/chapter-25-6-reunions-and-departures/

Previous Episode (25-4):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/chapter-25-4-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 25-5: 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. Loving these characters and this story as a whole. If you keep writing, I will keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. amber says:

    Wow! I love your story, love your character developement. I am hooked to say the least. I have read this story in two short days being unable to stop! I am sad to have caught up so quickly, but I couldn’t stop reading! Bravo, and can’t wait for more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Hello Amber and welcome :) I’m glad you are enjoying the story, especially the characters who are driving it. I was blown away when you said you read everything up to now in just two days! That’s fast… lol. You came in at a good time too. After this chapter which should finish by next Friday, there’s just two chapters to go (27 total). Thanks for your motivating and encouraging response :)

      Like

  3. Tracy says:

    Hi Scott, thanks for clearing the different types of zombies, it probably cleares it up for a lot of readers that have been reading along since day one as I have. Noticed you post comments in the am. I’m on the east coast PA. I am a night owl and always read new chapter post between 2 & 4 am. I check every hr. In the am. And can normally catch new chapters as soon as you post them, before bed reading. 3:47am. And Your Late! Just Kidding!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Hey Tracy, no problem. I was glad to clear up some of the zombie-type confusion. By the next book in the series, everything should hopefully fall into place and make the zombie ‘situation’ more clear. I hale from Ohio so we share the same time zone. I too, am also a night owl (when my rotating shift real world job allows me to be). On my off days, I try to post episodes the evening before, but while working I’m forced to post at different times. I’m working nights right now which means I generally post in the mornings when I get home. Unfortunately, Friday’s episode won’t be out until tommorrow afternoon. I apologize for that but it couldn’t be helped :(

      On the bright side, the wait won’t be as long between Saturday and Monday’s post :)

      Thanks again for reading and for your comments. At this late stage in the novel, It’s great to finally put names to the people who have been reading along all this time and the responses I’ve received have been a great source of motivation and encouragement to continue :)

      Like

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