The cool night air kept his senses sharp. Frank wrapped his grey wool blanket up around his broad shoulders and continued to observe the woods from a lower roof on the back of the house. He was mindful to sit within the shadows, not yet vulnerable to the waning moon’s deceptive half-light. If anyone had happened to catch a glimpse of him, he might have been mistaken for a gargoyle perched near a corner.

Frank was good at blending in to his surroundings for a man his size, often sitting just within earshot of his traveling companions. By escaping notice he could avoid participating in discussions until he was ready to speak, carefully maintaining his incognito status. Frank understood the betraying potential of words, especially when they were in abundance, and he preferred to keep his under guard until the appropriate instances when well-placed words could serve him the most.

No one had consulted Frank in regards to the present escape plan and that was just fine. Let the others fight over who’s the boss and where they should go… he couldn’t care less. Being the one in authority meant additional weight added to your pack and he preferred to travel light without the burden of the other’s diverse range of complicated issues. Frank kept it simple: If he consented with the majority, he would continue on with them. If he didn’t, he was prepared to disappear. He’d heard enough about the marina and decided that the boat was a viable option. Whether the others made it or not was not his concern. He’d even leave Meredith behind if it became necessary to insure his survival.

Because that’s what it takes, he thought. They want to bond and weigh themselves down with attachments because not a one of them can go it alone. But in the end, we are all alone. Started long before this world broke down—hell, it’s been breaking down for a long, long time. This is just the beginning of the end of all that noisy bullshit; this is the end of all those warm and fuzzy feeling illusions which paid for that well-dressed lie. Now the money’s worthless and there’s only the truth and she’s one pissed off, ugly bitch, strutting around naked like a leper in a bath house making everybody squirm. And she’s screaming in each of our faces like a mad woman, pointing her bony finger in our faces like a damning accusation, ‘Alone! Alone! Alone!’

Frank understood this vital fact. He’d been visited by that old crone a long time ago when he was just a naïve little boy and now the rest of these fools were finally getting educated via the end of the world. Frank knew that each of them would embrace this horrible truth, and prolong their lives a bit longer, or they would cling to the old illusions, holding hands and singing, Kumbaya, right before being mauled to death.

Let ‘ole Death come for me, it’s coming anyway. But I’m not dying for them. I’m not dying for their obsolete notions of community. Those damn fools at the plant are the end result of that madness. And still, the others sit around together in another prison they call a house of refuge like we didn’t just spend the whole day escaping from the same damn thing that cost the rest of them their worthless lives.

Frank was opposed to hiding out in this box for the night but kept silent. If they were discovered, there would be nowhere to run. The surrounding dark woods would slow them down as they fumbled around in a disoriented panic, probably running right into the dead. That was the problem with traveling in a community: On his own, he was the majority. But while he stayed, there had to be a minority. They had let exhaustion lead them to this hasty decision and now they would have to roll the dice until dawn.

Something stirred out in the darkness—a shadow moving within shadow. He almost dismissed it as a trick of the eye until he heard a branch snap in the same vicinity.


Could be a deer. Most likely. But he had to investigate.

Frank climbed down the side of the house, using a ladder he’d found earlier in a nearby storage shed. He kept his blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a cloak and crept toward the wood line being mindful to stay in the shadows of the tall trees as much as possible. Other than the clothes on his back, Frank’s supplies had been reduced to the handgun, a handful of loose bullets in one front pocket, a couple of crushed energy bars in the other, a small canteen and the hunting knife he kept sheathed under his shirt near the back of his belt. This allowed him the advantage of less weight to contend with should he need to flee quickly, or as in this instance, when stealth was required.

He stopped and dropped down low as he heard something kicking up the dry leaves nearby. Frank inched forward on hands and knees like a stalking panther, trying to gain a better view without getting too close and startling a raccoon or some other nocturnal critter.

Frank stopped again. His accelerated heartbeat pounding in his ears almost caused him to miss the source of the disturbance fifty feet to his right. Just between two smaller trees that crossed into each other’s paths, Frank saw the shadow of a tall, thin man standing before a larger tree. The man’s jerking motions gave away his position in front of the tree as he seemed preoccupied, and a little agitated by his activities.

Frank took a deep breath to calm his nerves. He noticed more. As the man stepped back from the tree and into the moonlight, his dirty and naked backside was exposed. It looked like the man had been ripped open from the left shoulder blade down across his lower back. He could see the outline of a partially exposed rib cage when the man shifted again. To Frank, the man appeared mauled up as if some bear had gotten a hold of him a long time ago.

He’d seen this type before. They were sluggish beasts, not like the yellow-eyed savages from the plant, and they seemed more like dumb animals in a zoo who were easily distracted until you got too close to their cages and they got a good whiff of you. They were easy enough to avoid when out alone like this, but ruthless in a crowd when they went into a frenzy after spotting the living. Frank knew this well after barely escaping the police station.

What the hell are you doing all the way out here, you gnawed-on, creepy bastard?

As if hearing Frank’s unspoken question, the man turned and stared directly in his direction.

Frank held his breath, becoming a stone, as he stifled his repulsion at what looked like a torn up possum in the beast’s bloody hands. The back end of the critter hung from the monster’s mouth, its tail still swinging wildly as if it didn’t know it was dead yet.

After a moment, the creature widened its glance to an area beyond Frank as it backed up several steps, covering the remains of its kill as if it had just been asked to share the meal.

That’s when Frank heard the others off to his left. He turned his head, careful to remain as still as possible, and spotted eight, nine… no, twelve more hideous forms moving forward in the moonlight. Some of them were only twenty feet away. They started in the direction of the possum eater, drawn by the sight of the fresh kill.

Fuck me, I never even saw them. If I’d crawled out of the shadows another few feet, I would have run right into them.

He’d understood his folly with dreadful clarity. The others had been completely still, blending into the surrounding dense forest and were easily mistaken for just more tree shadows in the dark.

Frank noticed more of them farther out. They were staring up at the moon as if absorbing the light.

Slowly, each one began to advance, drawn out of some trance by the movement of others closest to their locations.

Frank could hear more movement behind him now as he realized that a large number of the dead ones were moving east and he was right in their path.

He heard a low growl to his right and slowly turned. The possum beast had closed the gap between them to five feet. It was sniffing at the air directly over him.

You fucking idiot. How could you let it get so close!

Frank had his knife out, prepared to run the long blade up through the sickening monster’s chin and into its brain. Of course, that would give up his position immediately.

He kept calm, like a viper ready to strike should the beast move in on him. Frank dared a sideways glance up into its blood and mud mixed face. The possum beast snapped at the air with a large, full set of bloody choppers. Its skin and gums were stretched tight around its skull giving the former man’s mouth an exaggerated overbite. Frank noticed its eyes. They weren’t the black sunken eyes he’d come to expect. This one’s eyes were covered in a milky white veil.

He’s fucking blind! That’s why I’m not dead yet.

To confirm his suspicions, the possum beast turned and shambled back toward the east, falling in sync with the others. Frank knew where they were all headed.

It’s the fucking blood! They can smell it—they’re drawn to it. That’s how that thing almost found me.

There was only one place they could be going where the scent which drove them wild would still be saturating the air. They were headed for the Percy Power Plant.

Frank watched silently as several of the dead passed his location from the front and behind. He waited for a gap in the movement from his rear, and then started to crawl back the way he came, using their own collected shuffling sounds across the foliage to mask his own hurried movements.

He moved quickly from shadow to shadow, hoping not to run right into one of them, and finally spied the dark house from just inside the wood line. The forest came alive with movement. There were many more of them coming across from the west and they would either have to split and travel around the house or they would have to change direction entirely.

If anyone in there makes a fucking peep, they’ll target the house.

Frank stopped. He still had time to get back and warn them. But that also meant being trapped in that box until the horde passed through. He considered heading south toward the tracks and completely bypassing the house. Perhaps it was time to cash in, depart this little group, and go the rest of the way alone.

If that’s what it takes, he thought.


Next Episode 12-4:

Previous Episode 12-2:


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“Chapter 12-3: The Devil’s Dark” 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.

  1. Sam says:

    Gripping stuff dude! loving it :)


  2. sscherr says:

    Hey Sam, welcome back. I’m glad you’re still enjoying it the story :)


  3. What a Fine Patrick's! says:

    I’m seeing a theme where the pretty vile, or “unclean”, people survive over the good.


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