End Game episode 9-2

~~~

There are no terrifying sounds or grotesque manifestations of death reaching across the veil that separate nightmares from the dream that is called, ‘Awake’—the illusion of safety and sanity. There are no monsters escaping the prisons of myth, designed to dull their abilities that petrify the soul and make the flesh a permanent fixture in the dark… no… they are only indistinguishable shadows gripping the edges of conscious thought, dismissed as ‘make-believe’.

She is far, far away from the lies of that ancient day, that were quickly invaded and overcome by the hungry ones who had patiently plotted in the darkest corners of the night… until it was too late to escape the dying light of that so-called ‘real world’.

Gina places her bare feet through the warm, white sand as she loses herself in the hypnotic rhythm of the waves that caress the shore. The permanent sun above hides no malice or false pretense… night is simply not welcome here. Screeching seagulls glide across a gentle breeze… they are neither the harbingers of doom and despair, nor the albatross before the pending storm. She, and this tropical paradise, are liberated from time and places and names… Death is rendered obsolete on this Island of the Afterwards.

She is waiting for the others to arrive… waiting for Tony to find her dancing in celebration as she basks in the relief and awe-inspiring wonder that will surface on their faces like the warmth of the sun above. They all deserve to be here… and not over there.

Gina stands and stretches, wearing a two-piece, ocean-blue bathing suit over perfectly tanned skinned. Her long red hair is like wild horses running along the beach. She lets out a giddy laugh, feeling like a supermodel posing for the cover of the summer edition of anything spectacular. She doesn’t feel vain or sexy… simply untainted by a past that no longer matters; unmarred by the pain she once carried in her heart and on her conscience. She feels truly free for the first time… and beautiful.

She stares across the vast ocean of glass, hoping to catch a glimpse of her friends sailing in toward the shore. This was once an exclusive island dream, reserved for herself and Tony… the final getaway. But now, she wants them all to share it with her. They all deserve to be…

Gina falls forward into the sand as someone pushes her hard from behind.

She quickly spins her head around as her vibrant green eyes turn fearful… there is not supposed to be fear here.

“Doug?” she says.

The former ex-baseball player stares down at her with a disgusting look on his face. He skin is pale, too pale for such a tropical climate. His clothes are ripped and stained with blood. His eyes look… wrong; dark and empty. He should not be standing there after being ripped apart by the dead so long ago. She’s not certain at first, but it looks like there are flies buzzing around his head.

He motions with his hands for her to get up.

“What… why?” Gina is confused.

He reaches down and grabs her roughly under her armpits and drags her to her feet.

She recoils from the strong stench of death on him as if he were wearing it like cologne. Gina takes a step back toward the edge of the water and says, “Doug… I don’t understand. Why are you…”

Before she can finish her sentence, Doug balls his hand into a fist and punches her in the gut, knocking the wind out of her.

Gina falls to her knees, struggling to breathe.

Doug simply stands there… waiting.

Gina lifts up a hand and pleads, “Doug… please… stop! This place is safe for us.”

Doug suddenly brings his leg back and then kicks her hard under the chin like a football.

Gina’s head snaps up as she falls backwards into the water. Her face throbs, her stomach aches, and her back screams as she’s scraped up against the sharp rocks just beneath the shallow water.

I don’t understand! She thinks. How can there be so much… pain! No… not here… not ever again!

She wobbles to her feet and stares at the dead man.

Doug simply waits. He is now standing at the edge of the water, forcing Gina to step back further into the ocean.

“Well say something? Anything?” she screams at him. “Explain yourself? Why are you ruining everything?”

Doug looks down and lets out a frustrated sounding sigh. He is now holding his infamous bat with bloody nails protruding out of the end.

Gina recognizes the bat and understands that this… version… of her former friend is determined to make her suffer… for no reason.

“Am I being judged… is that it?” she asks, stepping further back into the ocean. “Were you sent to punish me… my former leader is now the fucked-up instrument being used to torment me for all the evil things I did after I replaced you?” She was desperately reaching to understand… anything.

Doug either will not or cannot respond. He lifts the bat and swings it around like a golf club until those nails pierce her right side.

Gina falls over into the water and screams at the pain as she reaches down at the bat lodged into her side.

Doug simply stands there and waits.

“Mother fucker!” she shouts at him. She can see her own blood rising up to the surface as she desperately tries to stand in the waist-high water. “Go away! I’ve paid for my mistakes! I died trying to save Megan! Doesn’t that mean anything? WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS?!”

Doug shakes his head impatiently and then storms out into the water toward her.

“Get away from me you fucking- ”

He grabs her by the back of her hair and shoves her head beneath the water.

She struggles in vain beneath the strong man’s arms as she tries to breathe.

He pulls her head to the surface.

Gina is coughing up water as she sucks in the precious air. “Stop this!” she says weakly.

Doug pushes her head back down beneath the water… longer this time.

When he lets her back up, Gina almost blacks out as she waits for the dark spots to clear. She gasps at the air and tries to scratch at the man’s pale arms and kick back at him… anything to make this monster let her go. Gina knows that if Doug puts her under a third time she will drown to…

…death?

“Wait!” she shouts. “I get it! This isn’t real, is it?”

She feels Doug let go of her head.

Gina turns and sees the dead man attempting a smile, the first thing she finally recognizes in her old friend.

“I’m not dead,” she says to the man. “That’s what this is about. That’s why I feel it… the pain… all of it.”

Doug simply waits.

“Then why am I here?” she asks.

Doug’s faces changes as he grabs her by the hair again.

“No… wait!” she screams.

It’s too late. Doug forces her head beneath the water. This time, he doesn’t let her back up as she is held down so long that it feels like her lungs are about to explode…

~~~

…Gina’s eyes shot open as she sucked in the air, causing Micom to step back just before he injected the needle into her arm.

The evil man smiled and said, “Well, look at that, you haven’t given up the ghost yet, after all. That pleases me immensely because I wanted you awake to recognize your own fate before I finished- ”

“Alright,” she interrupted, glaring at Micom with a vitality he thought she no longer possessed. “Enough is enough! We’ve put up with your bullshit games and threats for as long as we could… for as long as possible to ensure the success of our plan… and now I’ll tell you exactly what you want to know.”

Micom’s face shifted slightly. He shot Copperfield a puzzled look.

Copperfield simply shrugged.

“Alright, you have my attention,” he told her. “But I warn you… no more deception. As… entertaining… as all this has been, I do have limitations on my patience. And you, dear Gina, have exhausted those limitations this evening. One last time: Why are you here?”

Gina’s head was surprising clear. If not for Doug… or whoever that truly was… she would’ve failed before attempting the final ruse to her and Frank’s plan:

“At the moment it looks like the end is certain, and those pricks no longer care if we talk or not, that’s when we turn the tables on them and fill their ears with so much unbelievable sounding bullshit that’s part true, part exaggeration, that they’ll have to hesitate and consider keeping us around a bit longer… just to see if the third ruse pans out. Because that’s when we tell them we’re right where we wanted to be all along, Gina, and we tell them exactly what we want to tell them… when we fucking wanted to tell them. And the trick to the ruse will be to make them realize how much of a threat we really are by convincing them that our own deaths are part of their own demise. So we make them believe that killing us is helping us with our own mission. This bit of craziness might be the only thing left to save us. But the real trick to this bluff’s success will rely on the timing. We will have to endure so much pain and be so close to the point of death before we tell them, because they have to look into our eyes and feel convinced that we are no longer afraid to die.”…

…Gina looked into the monster’s eyes and smiled defiantly.

Micom was genuinely puzzled by this late display of confidence exuding from the woman. It was making him uncomfortable. “Again, last time, why are you here?”

Gina laughed condescendingly and put on her best performance. And surprisingly, she no longer cared about dying. Been there… done that, she thought, considering that island on the other side. She answered, “You, that fucker with the sword over there, and everyone else in this camp are going to be dead within the next few hours. And after that… we’re going after Mother.”

Micom was surprised by outlandish threat. He raised her eyebrows and said, “Really? That’s the best you’ve got?” He held up the syringe to her face and said, “Gina, after I inject this, I’m going to sit here and watch you turn- ”

“Be silent, you self-important prick,” she said. “I wasn’t finished.”

Copperfield stepped forward, hand on his sword.

Micom waved him off with an amused expression on his face. “Relax,” he told him. “I’m dying to hear
the rest.”

Gina continued, adapting ruse number three to everything they’d seen since arriving at the camp, with everything they’d been told by Tony and the others, or what they’d pieced together from Megan’s notebook… along with a few surprises they’d concocted that Micom might know about… or at least, the higher ups in the organization known as Mother. “We are familiar with this place, your so-called Headquarters, the ‘cell’ groups that operate independently outside of here… and your sick fucking experiments,” she lied, drawing upon the vague intel they had. “Truth is, this place is small potatoes, a means-to-an-end, but we want it, and our group is going to claim it.”

Micom’s face was unreadable. “Go on.”

“I don’t know what those kids told you about us, you know… the ones we allowed to live that came right back here and told you everything we expected them to, but I’m quite certain they didn’t tell you that we’ve been tracking your precious cell group for a while now.” And then she added for weight, “We already encountered another cell group in Fairport Harbor… and quite frankly… that was a poorly executed operation.”

“I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” Micom said, but his interest in the subject was clearly written on his face.

“We’ve seen your precious Mother’s symbol in various places and have been placing cell groups of our own into position to monitor these areas.” She stopped and laughed again. “Do you people really think that you’re invincible and that others haven’t figured out what you, and others like you, have been doing since the world changed? Since before the world changed?”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.” Micom was clearly rattled. “Mother is beyond your comprehension and just because you’ve heard that name somewhere doesn’t mean you know anything.”

“Oh we know plenty,” Gina continued. “Right before we executed your precious Donovan, he told us quite a bit, which only confirmed what we already knew.”

“She is lying,” Copperfield said from the shadows. “Donovan would never speak- ”

“Be quiet!” Micom told him.

“Do you really believe we would come here unprepared for this place, your silly machine and your Shadow Dead? Yes… we already knew you were controlling them, too.”

“We should kill this blasphemous woman immediately,” Copperfield advised.

“And we will!” he said impatiently. “But not quite yet.”

“Do you think I care about that?” she said, nodding to the syringe. “Or that you cut my friend’s head off to frighten me? We came here to die, you small-minded idiot!”

Micom wanted to rip her tongue out. He tried to remain calm. “Tell me, Gina, what are you hoping to accomplish with all this bold talk? Am I supposed to spare your life because I feel threatened? So what… you know bits and pieces of things, maybe enough to surprise me, but that still amounts to exactly nothing. Am I supposed to believe you two came here to what… scare me? Was that your mission?”

Gina need to stay strong now. She could not let one crack appear or he would expose her lies. “We have weapons we’ve brought to this fucked-up party that you can’t even comprehend. You have the Shadow Dead. Whoop-te-fucking-do! We have a better weapon.”

“I highly doubt you have anything at your disposal except desperate words,” Micom said.

“We have the greatest weapon, perhaps the only weapon left in the apocalypse that matters. We have control.”

Micom ran a hand through his short hair.

Got you, asshole! She thought, as Gina knew she’d broken through the calm man’s exterior. She had to keep pushing. “We’ve gathered survivors with abilities that have surfaced after the world turned. We have men and women who can control the dead simply by giving them vocal commands. We have others that can track their movements and sense the dead on a level of existence that you could not imagine. And still, others that can make them go dormant at will, just by using their minds- ”

“Just shut up!” Micom said. “I’ve heard just about enough of your bullshit nonsense!” He walked over to Copperfield where they engaged in a heated discussion, just out of ear shot.

Gina couldn’t tell if he believed her or not. This vital part of the ruse was dependent on the assumption that a shadowy organization known as Mother might already be aware of people like Charlie and Meredith. When Frank and Gina had discussed this possibility, it seemed very plausible. Hell, at the time, it even explained how these lunatics were able to use a machine to control zombies in the woods. But there was also the possibility that Micom was not high enough up on the food chain to be aware of such things, or worse, he really believed that Micolad was a god… which would either make him insane, or manipulated by the powers-to-be. Either way, Gina might have just sealed her death sentence.

After a lengthy deliberation, Micom returned with his plastered on smile and said, “Gina, you have definitely left us befuddled by your clever fabrications, but in the end, nothing you’ve told us has any tangible shred of proof to support it. Yes, yes, you’ve clearly told us enough to sound like you know something… but in the end… you’re just a woman desperately clinging to the end of a branch that must break… pun intended considering your present position.” He held up the syringe again and finished, “I will certainly miss our entertaining conversations.”

“And there you go again… round and round… like a fucking broken record.” Gina said. “Always resorting back to the threat of my death, hoping that I’ll tell you some new answer that will make you sleep better at night without wondering if everything I just told you is true. I don’t care if you believe it or not… after I’m gone, you’ll be joining me. You can count on that, asshole, as your ‘proof’. We were sent here to distract and misdirect for as long as possible, and now they are out there getting ready to strike and our mission is complete. So go ahead and stick me with that damn thing, already, or I’ll rip it out of your pussy hands and do it myself!”

Micom looked like he was about to explode on her and then quickly regained his composure. “Very well, Gina. Let’s get to it.” He approached with the needle.

Gina would need to maintain her defiance until the end… even if it was the end. There could be no fear on her face when he came at her with the syringe, or Micom would know it had all been a lie.

Frank, I did the best I could, she thought and discovered that she could accept her death now knowing that she tried her best to hold on.

As Micom grabbed her arm again, Gina silently prayed to God while staring confidently into the monster’s eyes.

God, I’m sorry I failed to be a good person. I’m sorry I let the darkness in and allowed it make me like the monsters out in this world. I’ve done all I know to do to make up for what I’ve done. I know I have no business asking, but if you could help me out of this… I’ll try to make what’s left of the time I’ve got to turn this all around somehow.

Micom held the needle over her arm. “Any last words?” he said mockingly.

“I’ve already said the ones that matter,” she said, refusing to give this prick anything.

Micom looked irritated. “Very well, let’s get this done.”

Just then, three soldiers approached, causing Copperfield to turn and meet them.

Micom stopped. “Were we not clear on the ‘Do Not Disturb Us’ order?” he asked.

Copperfield turned away from the distraught soldiers with an equally troubling look on his face.

“Well?” Micom asked impatiently.

Copperfield looked to the ground as if trying to process what he was about to say. He then looked up and said, “There is a man near the southern gate demanding to speak with you. He wishes to discuss the terms of our peaceful surrender.”

Micom’s eyebrows shot up.

Copperfield continued. “The man said that as a token of our good faith, he wants… her… released into his custody immediately.”

Gina was as confused as they were, but dared not show it.

“And how, exactly, is this man still breathing?” Micom asked.

Copperfield hesitated and then finished, “The man has roughly five-hundred of the reanimated dead standing directly behind him.”

Gina started laughing so hard it hurt.

They both stared at her.

Of all the answers to prayer that she could have been given, she never could’ve seen this coming. The unexpected, but perfectly timed arrival of Charlie Ottermeyer had not only validated her bluff, but Charlie might have just saved her life… even if he intended to take it.

Gina shot a silent ‘thank you’ to God, who truly had a warped sense of humor, and then said to Micom, “Now… get me down from this fucking tree… or you’re going to find out exactly what our first ‘weapon’ is capable of.”

~~~

Next Episode (27-10):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/12/28/chapter-27-10-end-game/

Previous Episode (27-8):
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/chapter-27-8-end-game/

~~~

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________________________________________________
“Chapter 27-9: End Game” 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. Gary steffens says:

    Love the last 2 installments

    Like

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