Unknown179

~~~

The rain chilled his bones within a few minutes. Tony was thankful for the maniac’s coat, which provided a little warmth since the sneakers were already soaked. Being out in the fresh air for the first time in a week was a shock to his system. He was fatigued after a few seconds of running; his body felt like dead weight.

Tony saw a dark-colored Chevy van parked along the side of the house and tried for that first. It was locked. His rational mind tried to remind him that the keys were probably inside the house but his desperation was causing him to react foolishly, wasting valuable time.

He stopped to catch his breath and took in his surroundings. The bad man’s property was vast. There were numerous fields in various stages of neglect surrounding the farmhouse—no, it was a ranch. Tony saw an old stable off to the right where he could hear the muffled sound of the generator.

I don’t even want to know what he’s doing in there.

He turned his attention toward a long gravel road which exited the property. It was too dark to see how far it went until reaching a main road. He would have to walk out.

Tony pulled the coat collar up over his neck and put one exhausted foot in front of the other, refusing to look back at his prison until he blended into the shadows up ahead.

He stopped again to catch his breath and looked back at the ranch. He could see faint artificial light escaping through the cracks in boarded up windows, but what alarmed him was the silhouette he saw standing in the open front doorway. Someone was staring out into the night.

Fuck! He’s not dead!

Tony turned and tried to move faster down the road. He estimated he was at least 500 yards away from the house. Hopefully, that was far enough to escape being seen. If not, the bad man could catch up to him quickly on foot, or worse, he could use the van.

Tony decided to get off the gravel road and cut directly across the field to his left. The grass was knee-high and offered some resistance but it also afforded concealment if he needed to lie down and hide quickly. He continued to look back at the house which was getting smaller.

The doorway still stood open but the silhouette was gone.

Shit! Keep moving, Tony! Just keep moving!

Tony turned back toward the dark field and tripped over an old bale of hay, landing face first in half a foot of water and mud. He got back up, and immediately squatted down as he saw the powerful beam of the bad man’s helmet light pierce the night from behind him. The bad man had already closed half the distance between himself and the house. Fortunately, he stood on the road aiming his light in the opposite field. Tony also noticed that the bad man was no longer carrying his trademark Taser or the meat cleaver. He was holding a rifle.

He finds you now, it’s all over.

Tony looked ahead and saw several larger bales of hay. He turned toward the bad man who was still preoccupied with the other field and systematically scanning the open area for his prey.

It’s now or never, Tony. There’s no more time.

He pushed sluggishly toward the closest bale and dived behind it.

The bad man turned his hellish light toward the hay bales, hearing something splashing through the water. “Come out now and I’ll put you down quickly!” the monster shouted. “If you make me pull you out of there, I’m going to roast you slowly, pig, and then feed you piece by piece to her while you’re still screaming!”

Tony didn’t doubt the threat for a minute. He considered running, but imagined hearing the sound of the rifle before registering the large hole entering his back and exiting his chest. He looked at the bale and discovered a small hollow at the base, probably burrowed by a critter trying to find a place to hide. It was just big enough for him to crawl into.

So this is what it comes down to: Tony Marcuchi reduced to hiding in a hole like a frightened little rabbit.

The remains of his pride had finally perished after discovering Lydia’s face being devoured by something which defied belief in that nightmarish bedroom.

Once inside the cramped hollow, Tony did his best to conceal the opening with loose straw. The space was warm if nothing else.

He could see the bad man’s light bouncing in the dark, getting brighter as he approached—the sound of his boots splashed in the muck. The monster made no effort to conceal his movements, daring Tony to come out and face him.

Tony closed his eyes and tried not to make a sound.

“Your friend put up quite a fight before I gutted her.” He sounded close. “Almost hit the artery… almost. She made it to the stairs before I caught her. I enjoyed watching her eyes fade when I cut her in half… priceless. I passed out from all that blood loss while patching myself up in the bathroom… missed seeing Helen enjoy the meal, too… God, I hate that. It’s the only time she’s calm… the only time she’s almost herself again. They’re all like that, you know. After they feed, they get all still for a while, like babies sleeping in a crib. I was saving you for a special occasion.”

Tony wanted to vomit.

“Figured a big man like yourself would satisfy her for a while. But you wouldn’t cooperate… had to be difficult… had to RUIN EVERYTHING!!!”

The bad man was almost to the bale.

Tony had no idea if he was just trying to flush him out, or if he knew exactly where he was and chose to toy with him first.

Tony silently prayed. He asked God for a merciful death.

“I wasn’t always like this.” The bad man was moving through the bales now. “This world’s made me do what I had to do… for her. Things got bad and then things got worse. Managed to chain her up, but she tore in to my side real good. I was never the same after that… started to change, but not like my Helen changed. Figured out real quick what she needed. Fed her the cats at first when she wouldn’t eat. Then I tried to feed her the dead ones who wandered into my fields. Helen didn’t care for them. Then I remembered our house guest… our fucking house guest who Helen made me promise to look after right before she… changed. Did my best to keep that damn promise… kept you alive when I wanted to beat you to death so many times… Then I found the others, like little lost sheep, and they did the trick. She ate them all and started feeling better. That’s when I knew my purpose was to find more sheep and keep her alive… so we could continue to be together. That’s what love does, pig. Love makes you do insane things for each other. She started talking to me… I could hear her… in my head. She said, ‘Save that big piggy for last’. That’s when I understood why she wanted me to take care of you! She knew! She always knew you would sustain her in the days to come! But you… you… made her sooooo upset!”

Tony couldn’t breathe. His heart was about to explode in his chest. He tried to calm down.

The bad man approached his hiding spot and turned off his head lamp.

Fuck me! He knows exactly where I’m at!

“You… you made my Helen a monster again,” the bad man whispered, cocking the rifle’s hammer. “You’re not worthy of her. You’re not worthy to feed the other pigs I kept locked in that cellar.”

Oh, God, let it be quick!

The rifle resounded five times in the night like thunder, drowning out Tony’s screams.

“Fuck!” the bad man yelled, struggling to turn his light back on. “Not now! Go on! Get out of here you nasty fucks!”

Something groaned miserably just outside Tony’s hole.

The bad man fired three more times as he rushed back toward the road, the sound of his boots splashing behind him.

I’m still alive!

Tony’s celebration was immediately cut short as he heard several moans and groans in the dark coming from all around him.

The monster was being pursued by new monsters, coming out of the night.

Tony thought of Helen, and remained still.

He counted at least twenty disfigured shadows passing his hole, all oblivious to the rabbit and preferring bigger game. The sound of the gunfire was making them wild.

Tony could do nothing but wait for these new devils to pass and hope he’d escape notice.

The sound of the bad man’s gun continued to reverberate across the night, but it sounded farther away now.

And then all at once, the field fell silent. The monsters had all passed.

He tried to move out of the hole, but collapsed instead, falling victim to a deep, dark sleep.

~~~

Next Episode 17-1

Previous Episode 16-4

~~~

If you’re enjoying Don’t Feed The Dark so far, please consider voting for it on Top Web Fiction and Top Site List by clicking the links below. This will help increase its visibility and draw in more potential readers. No registration is required. Thanks for your support and for reading :)

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 16-5: Prisoners” 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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