Unknown147

~~~

After ensuring the house was clear, Gina decided to stay one more night, wanting to give her battered body as much rest as possible and a full day of sunlight before heading back out there.

On Monday morning, Gina washed up under the kitchen sink tap. The water was cold, but at least she felt human again. She foraged what she could, scoring two cans of peaches from the sparse pantry and four bottled waters. She inhaled a can of the peaches and a glass of warm orange juice left in the refrigerator which gave her an energy boost. Other items added to her pack included a can opener, a couple of spoons and forks, a hunting knife, a street map, flashlight batteries and the flashlight to go along with the portable radio and the box of spare rounds for the revolver. Gina also raided the mother’s wardrobe and found a pair of loose-fitting jeans, a couple of t-shirts, and a brown leather jacket to replace her previous attire. She chose to keep the ball cap, tucking her long hair back up into it. The last item she grabbed was the photo of Megan and her family and put it in her pocket.

After stalling as long as she could, listening to static on the radio, Gina took a deep breath, felt down around her waist for the butt of the gun, and then continued down the shore line for a few more hours without incident.

It was a pleasant partly cloudy day with a mild breeze that allowed the sun to warm her bones. If not for the absence of both the living and the dead, Gina could almost let her dark thoughts drift away on the rhythmic roll of the waves which caressed the shore. She could just make out the twin towers of the power plant in the distance as she rounded a bend, giving her an inkling of hope. She estimated that it was no more than ten miles of curving shorelines away.

She came across the edge of a small beach park at noon, feeling more exposed due to how close it ran to the shore. A large grove of trees enclosed the park making it much darker and able to conceal anything which might be lurking in the area. At its center was a playground, basketball court and a picnic area. And of course, there were more mutilated bodies, at least fifteen that Gina could see.

“Suck it up, girl, keep looking ahead and just get past them all,” she reminded herself.

She reasoned that cutting through the park would be brief and not as bad as going farther inland through the neighborhoods again.

Just as she was about to enter the trees, Gina noticed movement from behind a jungle gym. She ducked down and could just make out the swing set on the other side. Then she saw someone in a red shirt swinging.

No fucking way! Real people?

She stepped into the trees to get a closer look, keeping the gun drawn but aimed low. Then she heard a voice. Singing? As she got closer, she made out what looked like a teenage boy sitting on a swing with an iPod.

He’s actually jamming to music right now. Un-fucking-believable! Even now, our youth remains oblivious to what’s going on around them.

But as she cleared the jungle gym, the picture became much more grim.

The teen wearing a white hockey jersey covered in blood was holding on to the swing chain to keep from falling off while his other arm lay on the ground in a puddle of blood beneath his feet. Something had ripped it clean off. The teen wasn’t singing, he was mumbling something incoherent, obviously in a state of shock. He’d been attacked recently and left to bleed out as one of those things failed to finish what it started.

Gina moved in closer, scanning the trees for movement. There was none.

Move your ass or this kid’s dead!

When she reached the teen, she could make out garbled words. “…Donna… help me… woke it up… Donna…”

Gina was frantic. The teen looked pale as a ghost. He would be dead soon if she didn’t try something. “Kid, hang on. I’m here to help.”

The teen was unresponsive.

She had her pack off, cursing at herself for not having a first-aid kit. She searched through the bag, found the extra t-shirt she’d packed and pulled it out.

“Are you still with me? Hello, anyone home?”

Fuck, he doesn’t even know I’m here.

Gina quickly wrapped the shirt up tight, tried to avoid the pool of blood and the arm and wrapped the shirt around the stump that remained. “I’m going to make a tourniquet… I think. This might hurt a little.”

She tied the shirt around the arm and applied pressure.

The teen cried out at the pain and noticed Gina for the first time. He reached over with his free arm and grabbed her shoulder. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”

Gina nervously scanned the trees again. “Kid, just calm down, okay? You need to keep it together. All that yelling’s going to bring it back.”

The teen nearly knocked Gina over trying to stand up. She helped him to the ground. “We were… trying to find… place to hide. Didn’t… see it… woke it up! Fuck me… Donna! It went after Donna!”

A female’s scream reverberated through the park.

Gina was up pointing the gun toward the sound.

“Got to… help her! She lured it away… Please, help…” The teen was pointing a shaking hand toward the shoreline. “She tried to lure it… to the water… ”

“Fuck me. Okay, try not to move. I’ll be back.” Gina raced through the trees toward the other side of the park and toward the shore. She imagined something reaching out to grab her at every blind spot. Adrenaline surged through her body as she sped toward the sound of the scream. Suddenly, the sky opened up and she was back on the beach.

More screams.

She could see the girl running away from the water as the creature cut her off. Damn it’s fast!

The girl had abandoned her plan and was running wildly. It would be on her in seconds.

“Fuck!” She was too far away to reach her or get a good shot. “What do I do? What the fuck can I do?!”

Sleep or fight, Gina.

“Hey! Leave her alone!” she called out. “Leave that girl alone!”

The girl fell to the sand. The monster was on top of her now. The waves were drowning Gina out.

No! Yell like you have a pair!

“HEY, FUCKFACE! OVER HERE! COME AND GET ME YOU UGLY SON-OF-A-BITCH!”

The creature stood up and saw her. It let out a hideous scream and charged.

“Oh, fuck me.” She started back toward the park, stopped, and then remembered the gun. She turned toward the creature and aimed. She fired. The bullet went wide. “Stop shaking, Gina. You know better than that.”

The creature stopped momentarily, distracted by the gunfire. It turned toward the water as if deciding whether to chase after the bullet.

“Stationary target. Now’s the time. Remember to breathe.” Gina was trying to remember everything her father had drilled into her about firing guns. Unfortunately, she’d missed the lesson involving monsters and how to stay calm and remember your fundamentals without shitting yourself.

The creature turned back toward her.

Gina fired.

The bullet struck its left arm. This only made it angry as it began to charge again. She estimated she had twenty seconds before it was on top of her.

“Okay, adjust your stance… firm grip on the weapon, but not too tight… keep both eyes open…”

Fifteen seconds.

“Don’t jerk the trigger… take a deep breath… hold it…”

She fired two more shots, striking the beast center-mass in the chest.

It fell to the sand. Then it began to get up.

“What the fuck! I hit it! I know I fucking hit it!”

When it was back on its feet, Gina got a real good look at what used to be young man in a wet suit. He was panting, his shoulders rising and falling as if it were out of breath. His black, shoulder-cropped surfer hair hung over half his face, his yellowish eyes peering out through a tangle of hair. A road map of veins bulged at the surface of his pale skin. His mouth dripped with blood. On his chest were two fresh holes making Gina’s heart drop. It cried out, making a sound which threatened her sanity. It charged again.

Gina lined up for another shot. “Fucking head, Gina, get the fucking head!”

Ten seconds.

She had difficulty lining up the shot. It was hard enough to aim at a moving target, let alone a head shot.

Five seconds.

Gina fired two more times, falling backwards as she moved to avoid the creature, the last shot going wild.

She crawled away from the monster which fell face first into the sand, five feet in front of her. She quickly got up and swung the gun back toward the body before realizing the chamber was empty. Fortunately, it did not get up again. She slowly walked over to it and noticed the back of the surfer’s head was a mess of bloody chunks and hair.

Gina moved toward the water. She could see black spots in her eyes and knew that if she didn’t breathe she would pass out. After a few moments she calmed down and then vomited.

She looked down the shoreline and found the girl lying alarmingly still.

“Get your ass moving, Gina. You don’t have time for this shit,” she scolded herself. She moved toward the girl, keeping an eye on the creature, fearing it would simply get up again.

“Hey, are you alright?” Gina asked arriving at the girl’s side.

The teenage girl was unresponsive—her blue, vacant eyes staring far off into the sky. The front of her green sweatshirt was soaked in blood.

Gina bent down and gently shook her shoulders. “Hey, honey, are you okay?”

The girl’s head fell from the shirt collar that held it in place and rolled near Gina’s feet.

Gina got up, her revulsion at maximum capacity, and turned away from the corpse, placing the back of her hand to her mouth to stifle a cry. It tore her fucking head off!

“Mother-fucker!” she shouted in frustration. I was too late. I was too fucking late!

Gina moved back toward the park, her body felt sluggish due to exhaustion.

When she reached the swing set, the boy was gone. There was a crimson trail running from the pool of blood beneath the swing, staining the grass beyond, and heading deeper into the park toward the adjacent neighborhoods where only death awaited. There were also numerous bloody shoe prints surrounding the swing.

She slowly backed out of the park toward the beach, staying mindful of the shadows which lingered around every corner of her terrified imagination. The silence lingered heavy, making it feel like a thousand eyes were watching her. She tried to shake the last observation that haunted her after exiting the park:

The boy’s severed arm was also nowhere to be found.

~~~

Gina covered some ground with the remainder of the afternoon, arriving in Percy Township half an hour before sunset. Her initial concern had been to distance herself from that hellish park for fear that her gunshots might have attracted unwanted attention. Fortunately, it seemed that the waves and wind from the lake might have muffled the sound or carried it elsewhere. In any case, she’d had no further encounters.

Gina felt comforted by the two giant stacks which continued to grow bigger and bigger, dominating the view. What was most encouraging was the small amount of steam she noticed coming off the active reactor reminding her of froth coming off a fresh cup of coffee. It wasn’t much, but she assumed this meant that the reactor had not been shut down, which meant that people were still there operating it.

She estimated another three miles before she’d have to find her way inland toward the plant. The shoreline was a straight shot from here, and from her vantage point, it looked like it would eventually narrow due to the woods and cliff which bordered the north side of the plant. She cringed at the thought of trekking through the woods at night and hoped to find help before that necessity. It was a relief to discover fewer beach homes and neighborhoods so close to the water as she got closer to the plant. She’d rather be surrounded by forest than have to detour through another devastated area full of ghosts.

Just before sunset, Gina could just make out a final stretch of shoreline, which widened into a beach cove surrounded by tall trees that gradually rose upward toward the plant. She decided to risk going inland from there to try to beat nightfall. Also, the cove looked like a high tide area due to the large amount of debris which littered the beach.

Gina reached the cove just as the lower half of the sun began to melt into the lake. She stopped and stared across the beach in absolute horror. What she had mistaken for debris were bodies scattered across the entire cove, many stacked two, sometimes three and four layers high.

She had stumbled across a dumping ground for the dead.

~~~

Next Episode 10-1:
https://freezombienovel.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/chapter-10-1-the-plant-2/

Previous Episode 9-2

~~~

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~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 9-3: Desolate Shores” Copyright © 2014, 2015 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark, Book One: Southbound Nightmares”.

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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