After getting situated, Tony risked one more trip downstairs before nightfall. He’d found an unlocked storage shed near the pool and a long garden spade inside. They shared another meal from Tony’s pack, eating by candlelight at a small table in Heather’s room while she filled him in on what had happened to the world in the last week.

Tony sat in stunned silence, listening to Heather tell one horrific story after another about how people went insane and just started attacking one another. She mentioned the yellow-eyed monsters they’d become which immediately made him think of the mad woman, Helen, and the clerk in the mini-mart.

It would take him time to process everything so Tony chose to focus on the now. He told her that after they buried her family in the morning, he was going to gather whatever supplies he could for the two of them and that he was planning on heading toward the lake. He told her about Gina and that he wanted to search for her. Heather was eager to help.

Sleep came with difficulty as Tony had one bad dream after another. He woke up several times to find Heather sound asleep in the opposite bed. He reached for the crowbar in the dark and found it on the chair beside him, next to his pack. Tony wondered if he’d ever get used to living like this. Eventually, he’d found a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.


Tony woke to a loud thumping sound on the wall in the adjoining room. After a few moments of listening to silence, he believed he’d dreamt it. Tony reached over to his pack and checked the watch he’d acquired earlier. The illuminated digital display read: 3:40. It was still a few hours before dawn.

He heard another loud sound through the paper-thin walls from the next room. There was no mistaking it. Someone was in there.

Tony got up and put his shoes on, grabbed the crowbar, and then turned to wake Heather.

She was not in her bed.

The alarms were going off in Tony’s brain. Had this been a set up all along? He didn’t believe it. If Heather was up to something, his pack would be gone and his brain bashed in while he slept. No, something else was happening.

He quickly checked the bathroom. No Heather.

Tony put his pack on, preparing to run if it came to that. He ran to the door being mindful not to make a sound. Relax, Marcuchi, it’s probably Heather in there.

He opened the door slowly and looked out at the dark landing. That’s when he saw the flashlight beam coming from another room farther down. He noticed that several of the doors stood open, including the one right next to his. There was light coming from that room, too.

“I told you this was a waste of time, Franco,” a male’s voice called out from the next room. “They all cleared out of here already.”

“Keep your fucking voice down, idiot!” Another male voice said as a man stepped out on the landing.

Tony quickly backed up into his room.

The man from the next room also stepped out on the landing. “You told me you saw people yesterday with supplies. Well, where are they then?”

The one called Franco responded, “I saw a man and a woman sitting right where you’re standing, Lewis. They had supplies too, because I watched them pull stuff out of a pack.”

“Maybe they’ve bugged out already,” the one named Lewis suggested.

“Not likely. It was too close to dark. No one travels anywhere when the sun goes down. They have to be hoarding stuff. Keep looking and stop making so much fucking noise or you’ll spook them.” Franco re-entered another room, leaving Lewis to sulk on the landing.

Tony was about to run out of time. The one called Lewis would check his room next. He was certain of two things: These men had been here before. These men wanted whatever they had.

Tony waited just inside the door as Lewis hesitated, shining his light toward the open doorway and just missing Tony with his beam. “Hey, I think I found where they were staying,” Lewis called, shining his light back down the landing.

Tony reacted. He lifted the crowbar and swung it at Lewis’s leg.

Lewis cried out and fell to his knee, dropping the flashlight in the process.

Tony quickly grabbed the intruder and threw him into the room. Before Lewis could protest further, Tony punched him hard in the jaw, knocking the smaller man unconscious.

“Lewis?” The other man was coming in a hurry, drawn by the lit flashlight rolling on the landing.

Tony stepped out with the crowbar raised. He held out his free hand and said, “Stop right there! You come any closer and your friend’s dead!”

“Hold on, buddy,” the one called Franco said, raising his hands submissively. “We don’t want any trouble. The people we were holding up with here stole our stuff and we just came back to get it.”

“That’s a load of bullshit,” Tony said. “Tell me, what did you do with the girl? Don’t lie to me or I’ll bash Lewis’s face in.”

Franco looked surprised. “I don’t know who you were talking to, buddy, but that was self-defense. The blond bitch tricked us into her room by acting like she wanted it. You know, acting all slutty and stuff. You’re a man, you get it, don’t you? We were just looking to have some fun. Then she went crazy and tried to hurt us and take our food. We were forced to kill her.”

Tony was confused. Heather had brown hair. Then the light came on. “You mean, Glenda, right?”

“Yeah… that’s the one. A real fuckin’ psycho, too!”

Tony went cold. “You have some nerve coming back here after what you did.”

Franco was losing patience. “Yeah, whatever, man! World’s gone to hell and we’re just trying to stay alive… just like you. You don’t look like a fucking cop, so what gives? We probably did the bitch a favor in the long run.”

“You and your friend deserve to die,” Tony said. He was trying hard not to charge Franco, but his anger was increasing.

“Fine! We’re probably going to die in a few days anyway, so just let my friend go and we’ll be on our way. No harm, no foul, alright, buddy?”

“I’m not your fucking buddy.”

From within the room, Lewis cried out, “Franco! I think this fucker broke my leg! He just attacked me for no reason!”

Franco’s face changed. “Is this true? Did you break my friend’s leg?”

“He’s lucky I didn’t bash his fucking skull in,” Tony growled.

“Shoot the fucker, Franco!” Lewis called.

Before Tony could move, Franco pulled out a revolver and aimed it at his head. “I didn’t want things to come to this point, buddy, but you hurt my friend real bad.”

Tony wanted to kill the man. He kept silent.

“Now, I see that you’re wearing the same pack I saw earlier. You have one option. Lay the pack down and back the fuck up, or I’ll shoot you where you stand.”

“I’m not giving you shit,” Tony said. “Do you think a gun in my face is the worst thing that’s happened to me this week? I’m done being someone’s prisoner—done being told what to do.”

“I mean it, asshole! I’m not playing around! Drop the fucking pack… now!”

“Just shoot him, Franco! Shoot him in the damn face!” Lewis was trying to get up unsuccessfully.

“Yeah,” Tony said with a smile. “Shoot me, Franco, and let’s see how fast those monsters start tripping over themselves to get a piece of you. I bet you were stupid enough to breach one of the stairwell barricades to get back up here, too. Probably weren’t planning on staying long. Just another hit and run because that’s what you vultures do… regardless of who you hurt in the process.”

Franco hesitated. “Okay, smart guy, how do you suppose we settle this?”

“I’ll make it real easy for you. Put the gun down on the landing, go get your friend, and get the fuck out of here,” Tony said.

“Are you fucking stupid? Why the hell would I do that?”

“I’m going to count to three,” Tony said. “Then I’m going to bash Lewis’s head in. It’s dark out here so you may or may not hit me before I kill him. Either way, we’ll all die here after the shots. And if we don’t, and I’m not dead, I’m certainly going to make it my mission in life to kill you, too.”

“You’re fucking nuts, man!”


“I just want the fucking pack! Is your damn life worth a few snacks?”


Franco lifted the gun in both hands and aimed. “You asked for this.”


“Alright! Alright!” Franco said, placing the gun on the landing. “There… are you happy now?”

“Go get your friend and leave,” Tony said.

Franco stepped past Tony and was about to enter the room.

“Hold on,” Tony said, retrieving the gun. “There was a woman with me. She had brown hair and was wearing a sweater. Her name was Heather. I believe you know her.”

“Yeah,” Franco said. “I remember.”

“Did you harm her?”

Franco gave him a puzzled look.

“Yeah! We bent her over and pounded the shit out of her, asshole! Right before we slit her fucking throat! Is that want you want to hear?” Lewis was in pain. He told Franco, “You should’ve shot this mother-fucker!”

“Just shut the fuck up,” Franco advised, helping him to his feet. “You’re not helping.”

The first blow from the crowbar struck Franco on the top of the head. He looked confused as he reached up and felt the blood trickling down into his eyes. The second blow killed him. He fell limp to the floor.

Lewis screamed as the crowbar fell again… and again…


Next Episode 17-4

Previous Episode 17-2


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“Chapter 17-3: Dark Territory” 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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