Tony’s captors kept the location of their camp a secret. After handcuffing his hands behind his back and covering his head with a dirty sack, they’d marched him through the woods for about an hour, taking erratic course changes to keep him disoriented.

Just when Tony was about to collapse from exhaustion, he was escorted indoors and forced to sit down at a table.

“Did anyone see us?” he heard the woman, Samantha, ask.

“No.” That sounded like Bandana man. “You know the drill, they’re all huddled in their igloos, waiting to die… fucking cowards.”

“They’re terrified, Jenkins… and rightly so. I just want an hour with him before we turn him over to that whack-job,” Samantha said.

Jenkins laughed. “Want us to wait?”

“No, I have this. Come back in an hour.”

“What if Micom starts asking for you?”

“Stall his ass,” Sam said, getting annoyed. “Tell him I’m taking care of a security matter.”

Tony could hear Jenkins departing and closing a door behind him.

So this is how it all ends, Tony thought. They’ll ask their questions and when they’re satisfied that I’m all alone and no one is looking for me, I’ll end up face down in the river, too.

He heard Sam moving around before she sat down at the table across from him, putting what sounded like paper on the table.

“You hungry?” she asked.

Tony was famished. “No… go fuck yourself.”

Sam laughed. “For someone who looks half-dead, you still have a little fight left in you. I admire that… especially now.”

“Look,” Tony said, “either shoot me and get it over with or take the fucking bag off my head. I’m not talking to you like this. I didn’t escape one psycho’s prison to end up in another.”

“Is that what you think this is? Interrogation followed by execution?”

Tony refused to answer.

“Alright, hold on,” she said. Sam got up and removed the sack from Tony’s head.

The dim light in the small room with the rounded ceiling caught him off guard.

“You have electricity.” Tony did not notice any visible light source. “Where are we?”

Sam studied his face and finally said, “No… you’re definitely not one of his spies. I still can’t put a finger on it yet… but I don’t think you’re dangerous.”

Tony leaned in over the table and growled, “Lady, cop or no cop, if these handcuffs weren’t on, I’d knock you right out of that chair right now.”

“Oh, I believe you’d try,” Sam said with a wicked smile. “I have a few questions, and if everything checks out, I’ll take the cuffs off. Fair enough?”

Tony sat back in the chair and sighed. “Ask away? But I have questions, too.”

Sam sat back, ran a hand through her sweaty short-cropped hair and said, “Okay. I’ll let you ask the first one.”

Tony had no idea where to begin. All he had were questions ever since escaping the basement. Tony gave her a pleading look and asked, “Please tell me what the fuck has happened… to everything?”

“Excuse me?” Sam said.

“Is everyone dead… and really coming back? The only information I have came from a doped-up woman in a basement and a sick woman at a truck stop.”

Sam gave him a puzzled look. “Where the hell were you when the world went to hell?”

“I was locked in a basement. There were others… but they’re all dead now.” Tony stared at the table, noticing the blank paper. He felt defeated. “There was a woman… Lydia… she saved my life. She tried to tell me… things. I didn’t believe her.”

Sam studied his face and said, “Wow. You are convincing. Let’s just suppose that what you’re telling me is true. Walk me through how you got out of that basement, wherever that was, and ended up out here?”

Tony took a deep breath, feeling a thousand years old, and told Sam about the basement, the truck stop, and finally how he ended up scaling a fence which led him into the woods.

“Son-of-a-bitch,” she said. “That would explain how you got past them. Those fuckers wouldn’t be looking for anyone sneaking in. They’re only concerned about people getting out.”

“Excuse me? Who are ‘They’?”

Sam ignored this and said, “I actually believe you’re telling the truth.”

“That’s because I am. Look, I’ve been trying to find anyone who isn’t dead and wanting to eat me, crazy, or just suicidal… and then when I do, they try to kill me, handcuff me, put a bag over my head and lock me in a room out in the middle of nowhere. To tell you the truth, I’m not convinced that I’m not crazy. Part of me thinks I took a blow to the head and I’m lying in some bed somewhere, trapped in a nightmare coma.”

“I guess that makes me the girl of your dreams,” Sam said with a wink.

“Not quite. I was trying to get back to her… I don’t even know where to begin looking.”

“You lost someone?” Sam tried to appear concerned.

Tony looked up sadly. “Yes. I don’t know if she’s alive or dead at this point. We were separated.”

Sam stood up and walked around the small room. She stopped and asked, “So, you’ve just been wandering around in these woods until we stumbled upon you?”

Tony hesitated. He withheld the parts about the dead men tied to trees, the waterfall creatures, and especially finding the pool of bodies. “That’s most of it, yes.”

“You mean there’s more?”

“Why don’t you tell me what you know and I’ll tell you the rest.”

“Or, I could just put that bag back over your head, walk you out to the woods and put you out of your misery,” Sam suggested.

Tony smiled. “Yes, you could do that… I suppose. But then again, if this is a dream, you’d only be changing the scenery.”

Sam shook her head. “Alright, what would you like to know?”

“What is this place?”

“I’m not at liberty to discuss that at this time. Try again.”

“Alright. How about you just tell me your story. How did a cop end up here?”

“Not much to tell. The world took a shit. I was on duty at the time. People died… and then more people died. I was the last one left at my station with a couple of prisoners, surrounded by a city of dead people. When I tried to help those scum bags, one of the prisoners fucked me royally, threw me off a rooftop, and left me for dead in a dumpster. How’s that for ironic? While trying to save the trash, turns out it was the trash which saved me. The garbage took the blunt of the fall and knocked the wind out of me. I ended up slamming my head at the bottom… knocked me unconscious. It was probably the smell of the garbage that masked me from those things or I would’ve been eaten alive… I still have nightmares about it…. waking up with half my body gone and screaming in that dumpster.”

“I’m sorry,” Tony said. “Did the prisoners get away?”

Sam’s face turned to stone. “The fucker who threw me off the roof must have been desperate. When I woke up, I could hear the dead… moaning in the dark. Fuck! It sounded like there were thousands of them! I was scared shitless and didn’t know if they knew I was in that dumpster just waiting for me to poke my head out or not. When I finally worked up the nerve to move, I crawled out behind the dumpster and ran down an alley right through the middle of about twenty of them. I think they were confused by the smell of my clothes because they were surprised when I ran into them. I used my flashlight like a fucking baton on the ones which gave chase. I could tell immediately that the station was overrun. I climbed a fence and made it to the parking garage, but not before I found what was left of the other prisoner. I suspect Frank Carmen—that was the asshole’s name—I suspect Frank threw him to the wolves to get away.”

“That’s some cold shit.”

Sam seemed distant, lost in the nightmare of memory. “It was hell trying to reach my vehicle in that dark ass garage. City power was out and all I had was my flashlight. Every fucking shadow came to life all around me and it felt like I was trapped in a fucked-up haunted house. When I finally reached my car, I damn near destroyed it trying to drive out of the garage. They were fucking relentless! I made it out and had to bail on foot because the roads were congested with wrecked vehicles and chaos… I was running from dead things and tripping over fucking bodies, screaming my head off… needless to say, it was an awful experience.”

“But you made it out,” Tony said, encouraging her to finish.

“Yes. I made it out… eventually… and one thing led to another and now I’m in this shit-hole.” She walked over to the table and sat back down. “Okay, that’s enough out of me, friend. My turn.” She flipped the blank piece of paper over for Tony to see.

“Have you ever seen this symbol before? Maybe on a flyer posted at the truck stop?” She pointed to the paper while watching his facial reaction.

Tony was looking at what appeared to be a poster of some kind with a strange three-pronged symbol with an eye at the top. He started to read the flyer:


Sam grabbed the paper off the table and said, “I didn’t tell you to read it, numb-nuts!”

Tony gave her a questioning look. “I’ve never seen that symbol before. What’s the flyer all about?”

Samantha looked irritated. She folded up the paper, stuffed it in her pocket. “It’s a fucking invitation to hell.”

“Will you please start making some sense? And why the cryptic responses? Just where the hell am I? Area 51?”

Sam snickered, rolled her eyes, and said. “You’ve stumbled into what used to be a wildlife preserve. And now… well, now it’s something else.”

There was a knock at the door.

Sam got up quickly. “Not a fucking peep out of you!” she hissed, while fumbling to put the bag back over his head.

Tony resisted.

She put her face up to his and said, “Look, asshole, there’s shit happening here that simply defies fucking belief… lots of bad shit. You start causing trouble and drawing attention to yourself, you’re going to end up dead… or worse. Are we clear?”

Tony shot her a ‘fuck you’ look, and then settled down, allowing Sam to put the bag back on his head.

What the hell did she mean…‘or worse’?

There was a louder knock this time with a sense of urgency behind it.

“Sam!” a voice called through the door. It sounded like Bandana man—the one she called Jenkins. “You’re out of time! Fucking Copperfield saw us coming in and told Micom!”

“Shit!” Sam hissed, rushing over to open the door.

Jenkins barged in full of nervous energy. “That snake must have followed us on patrol. You know he’s been looking for any excuse to make you look bad!”

“Just calm the fuck down,” Sam said. “We’ve done nothing wrong. I’m in charge of security around here and there’s nothing out-of-order in me questioning the outsider first.”

Outsider? Tony thought. Somebody please wake me the fuck up!

“Yeah… yeah, that’s true,” Jenkins said, calming down. “In any case, Micom is coming over right now. He wants to see him.”

Sam silently considered the implications and said, “Get Orosco and hurry your asses back here. Oh… and tell Mary to get a plate of food and water. I don’t want this guy dying on me before I get the truth out of him.”

Jenkins nodded and turned to leave.

“One more thing,” Sam said.

He turned back impatiently. He did not want to be there when Micom arrived.

“Bring a medical kit back as well. The outsider’s going to need it.”

Jenkins smiled deviously and quickly departed.

When Tony was sure they were alone again, he said, “Get this fucking thing off of me!”

Sam removed the bag and started rolling up her sleeves.

“What…what’s going on? What are you doing?” Tony was confused.

Sam gave him a look, which was both remorseful and full of fear. “I’m sorry about this, friend. I truly am. It’s the only way to keep you alive a little longer.”

Tony began to understand. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Sam’s faced turned dark. She made a fist, cocked back, and threw a right jab into Tony’s cheek.

Fuck me! She can throw a punch.

Tony shook off the pain, spit blood, and said, “Bitch! You’re going to have to try harder than that!”

“Stupid man,” Sam said. “You brought this on yourself when you came here.”

“When I get loose…”

She hit him again… hard.

Tony began to black out. “You hit like a fucking girl!” he goaded.

Sam shook her head. “I don’t have time for this. You were right, you know.”

“Right about what?”

“You called this place a prison,” she said. “That’s exactly what it is… except that we’re all fucking prisoners here.”

“I don’t believe you. Who builds a prison in the middle of a wildlife preserve?” He was trying to stall her next punch.

Sam laughed. “You poor dumb bastard,” she said. “The wildlife preserve is the prison.”

Tony looked shocked.

“Now stop fighting me, outsider, before this gets real ugly,” she said, landing another punch across his face.

Tony tried to say something smart but Sam continued to punch him until her knuckles bled.

Gina, I’m sorry I failed you.

He felt the world go black.


Next Episode 18-2

Previous Episode 17-5


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“Chapter 18-1: Micom and Micolad” 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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