Chapter 22-10: Almost Dead

Posted: February 5, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombies
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Amanda handed Stephen back his gun but refused to look at him. She focused on the large front windows as the dead began to bang upon the glass. She looked at the candles on the bar and then toward their backpacks near the chair Stephen had been tied to. “Get the flashlights from our packs and I’ll blow out the candles,” she whispered. “Maybe they’ll go away if they can’t see us in here.”

Stephen nodded and went for the packs, crunching broken glass beneath his feet.

“Be quiet!” she hissed, as she started blowing out the candles.

There were more of them outside the window now. Jefferson’s remaining dead population seemed to be gathering around the bar.

“They know we’re in here,” Stephen said. “What about a back door?”

Amanda gestured toward the kitchen behind her. “It’s gotta be through there. Ready?”

Stephen nodded and turned on one of the flashlights. He cupped it with his hand as Amanda blew out the last candle, immediately throwing The Last Call into darkness.

Stephen crept over toward the bar and handed Amanda one of the lights.

One of the front windows to the bar shattered, letting in the moans of the damned as several arms pushed through dark curtains, attempting to gain entry.

Amanda turned her light on and pointed toward the back. They crouched low and walked around the bar and toward a swinging door which led into the kitchen.

Once inside, they started scanning the dark and crowded space.

Stephen’s beam quickly found the back door… wide open. “Amanda,” he whispered, “something’s not right. The door’s open.”

Amanda turned her beam back toward him and lit up the faces of five ghouls which stood on the opposite side of a cooking fryer. “Shit!” she shouted stepping back and knocking a pan onto the floor. “They’re in here!”

The monsters, as if waking from sleepwalking, began to growl at the intruders, stumbling manically around the narrow kitchen aisles to get to the fresh meat and cutting off Stephen and Amanda’s exit in the process.

Amanda got around Stephen as they backed up toward the kitchen door. Stephen lifted his handgun and began firing wildly. One of his rounds struck the shoulder of a sickly looking man wearing a bloody apron, further enraging the beast. The sound of the gun attracted several more zombies digging in the trash outside as four more entered the back door. “We’re cut off!” he shouted.

“Inside!” Amanda shouted, pulling Stephen back into the dark bar.

A dozen zombies had fallen through the broken front window and were rising slowly to their feet.

Amanda lifted her gun and began firing toward the dead, taking out another large window. “Shit!”

The excited bar zombies began shambling through tables and chairs to reach them as more creatures entered the front windows.

Stephen dropped his flashlight and nearly knocked Amanda over as he backed into her, firing the remainder of his magazine into the first of the frenzied kitchen zombies storming through the doorway. He managed to hit the first three in the head just before their cold limbs reached his throat. The others tripped over their fallen comrades allowing Stephen and Amanda to move farther away from the kitchen.

Amanda continued to fire toward the bar zombies, causing one to topple forward over a table, and slowing down the ones behind it.

“There’s no way out!” she screamed.

Then she spotted the door to her right.

“This way!” She grabbed Stephen’s arm and led him to the door, using the last of her ammo as she fired on the move. Please don’t be locked!

Amanda reached for the doorknob and turned. It was unlocked.

She pushed the door inward and they both rushed inside, closing the door behind them as the first of the dead piled up against the other side.

Stephen nearly fell down the basement steps before catching himself on the rail. “It’s a cellar!”

Amanda was leaning up against the door, trying to keep it closed. “Fucking door doesn’t lock, Stephen!”

Stephen rushed up beside her and leaned in on the door.

The door rocked violently as the dead slammed against it again… and again…

Amanda shined her flashlight in the damp darkness, discovering that they were standing on a large landing. To their immediate right was four kegs of beer.

“Stephen!” She pointed toward the kegs.

They quickly got behind the first keg and pushed it toward the door.

The knob fell off and rolled down into the dark as the door pushed inward several inches but stopped as it struck the keg.

Monstrous arms reached through the gap trying to grab at the living.

They continued to push the keg into the door until the arms retracted and they got it closed. Stephen and Amanda pushed the other three kegs up against the door and then both of them collapsed behind the last keg, feeling exhausted after the burst of adrenaline wore off.

The dead violently struck the door.

They could hear them… moaning and growling for their flesh on the other side.

“Must… must be half the fucking town on the other side of the door,” Amanda said.

Stephen looked at her. “I’m truly sorry… for everything,” he said.

Amanda dared a glance his way and laughed at his pained expression. “Really? You want to do this right now?”


“Save it. We’re probably going to be dead in a few minutes anyway.” She looked down the stairwell that led into the damp darkness. “I don’t want to go down there. If we give up this door and find out the basement’s a dead-end… ”

The kegs shifted slightly behind them as the dead pushed the door open an inch, allowing disfigured fingers with bloodied fingernails to fill the door jamb.

Stephen stared down into the dark. That might as well be our grave if she’s right, he thought with a chill.

Amanda closed her eyes and tried to keep from crying. She started laughing instead. “I’ve never met anyone who has wanted me as badly as these things do right now. Should I be flattered?”

Stephen ignored the monsters at their backs, the eerie basement, and Amanda’s deflective words. He turned to her and said, “I’m not going to die with shit unresolved between us,” he said. “You need to know what I did… and how dead I’ve been inside since you found me at the school.”

Amanda kept her eyes closed and tried to shut the monsters out… all of them. “Can this fucking night get any worse?”

“Amanda,” he started, “the night you saved me from the school, I went to find your daughter…”

“Please don’t do this,” she pleaded. “Doesn’t matter now.”

“…I made it to her dorm… it was awful… the girls… all of them… they were slaughtered. I can’t ever shake the images from my mind… ”

“Just… stop.” Amanda was shaking her head. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

“…I was so terrified… but I had to find Nicole… I had to know… I was so fucking on edge when I grabbed the knife… and then I turned around and-”

“It was me,” Amanda interrupted. “It’s always been about me. Not you. Not them. Not… her. I’m the real monster.”

Stephen stopped. “I… I don’t understand.”

She turned to him and said, “Don’t you know? Didn’t she tell you? I murdered my own daughter, Stephen.”


Gina rushed through the opening at the third floor barricade, followed by Marcus, Greg, Frank and the two remaining teens who stayed behind with the others long enough for everyone to get up the stairs.

Tommy and Brian were the last as they just cleared the steps with empty rifles. “Close it!” Tommy yelled. “The others are gone!” There were tears in his eyes.

Rusty and the two men who remained to hold the floor, quickly closed and latched the swinging gates across the hallway just as four hideous creatures slammed into the other side. While everyone pushed back to keep the doors from bursting open, one of the men placed a heavy wooden beam across two latches, which secured the doors from their side. The beam squealed in protest as the monsters began to fill the stairwell, climbing over each other like a dark and bloody wave which pushed against the other side of the barricade with surprising force.

“The stairwell is slowing them down a little, but this won’t hold!” Frank shouted.

Rusty stared in horror at the creatures who attacked the barrier with such incredible speed and collective brute force. “They… they weren’t like this before… they were scattered and manageable at the beginning. Now, it’s like they’re getting smarter and working as one!”

Gina fired her shotgun toward the top of the barricade as several monsters began to climb over it. She blew the first one’s heads clean off its shoulders. “Rusty, get your people back to the last barricade before we’re overrun… Rusty!”

The old man was still staring at the relentless beasts who charged the barrier. Tommy stepped up beside him and said, “What do we do now?”

Rusty looked into the frightened teen’s eyes, pleading for him to rescue them from this nightmare. He took a deep breath and let his anger at losing three of his boys provide him with steel-plated clarity: They were dead if he continued to let the fear seize him. “Alright,” he said, thinking fast. “Gina… we need to split these things up!”

“I’m listening!”

“You mean to lead them through the apartments,” Tommy said with a wicked smile, understanding where Rusty was headed.

Rusty winked and said, “You and Brian are with me at the barrier. We keep the family together come hell or high water. Understood?”

Tommy nodded and grabbed Brian. They grabbed fresh rifles from the pile positioned at the back of the hall and lined them up against the wall so they could quickly grab another when their rounds were expended.

Rusty stepped behind Gina and the others who were busy firing off rounds into the zombies trying to scale the barrier. “We need to split them up, Gina,” he advised. “We need to get their attention off the hall and into the rooms.”

“Divide and conquer… makes sense,” Frank said.

“The apartments on both sides of the hall connect with each other,” Rusty quickly explained. “We punched holes through the walls big enough to crawl through and hid them behind couches in case we needed to leave one room and get to another in a hurry.”

“I think I get where he’s goin’, Gina,” Greg said. “Weaken’ their numbers by getting them to follow us through the holes, and take them out when they try to crawl through.”

“Got it,” Gina said moving toward the first apartment door on the left. “Marcus, you’re with me. Frank, Greg, take the rooms across the hall. Rusty, take the rest of your people and hold the last barricade for as long as you can. Maybe we still have a chance at this.”

Rusty nodded, signaling the other two men to keep firing on the zombies until Gina’s people were into the apartments. “Good luck!” he shouted. “Try to keep them following you or else they’ll slip out the front doors of the apartments to our rear!”

Gina nodded. She looked to Marcus who was now brandishing his machete in one hand and a handgun in the other.

“Are you ready for this, Gina?” he asked. “It’s going to get up-close-and-personal real quick in there.”

She immediately thought of the crazed former young man in the wet suit who had charged her on the beach. It had come so close to ripping her to pieces before she’d finally managed to fire a round into its head as it fell near her feet. And that was with distance between us! She assessed her weapons. She still had the shotgun and two full handguns, as well as her hunting knife, if it came down to that. “I can’t stop shaking,” she admitted. “Remember, head shots, or we’re done.”

Marcus nodded.

She looked over at Frank and Greg one last time and nodded to them, feeling like this was the last time she’d ever see them alive.

“See you at the other end of the hall in hell,” Frank said with a smile. They both disappeared into the apartment, leaving the door wide open.

God, this feels like such a stupid idea, she thought.

“Go!” one of the men called over. “We can’t hold this any longer!”

The beam across the stairwell barrier was about to snap in half as the hungry dead continued to push against it.

Gina entered the apartment with Marcus.

They were immediately reduced from survivors to bait.


Stephen was shocked. “What do you mean? You didn’t murder anyone.”

“I murdered her that night I found you at the school, hours before the world went to shit. I did it from the back of my fucking puke-smelling car. Hell, I’d been slowly killing her for years.”

“You didn’t do anything… It was-”

“That’s right, Stephen,” she interrupted. “I didn’t do ‘anything’. My daughter was all alone and I was drunk in the backseat of my car. She wasn’t even supposed to be there that night!”

The dead pushed again, causing the door to open another inch.

They both leaned back hard against the kegs to stop them from moving.

Amanda wiped the tears from her eyes and gave Stephen a probing look. “Are… are you still in there?” she asked.

Stephen didn’t know how to respond. He remembered the end of their confrontation in the bar; remembered giving up, and somehow… Nicole had saved him. He remembered hearing Nicole’s voice as she had verbally bashed her mother. Somehow, Amanda had seen her.

No. You know damn well what Amanda saw, he thought. Nicole wasn’t standing there beside you like some manifested ghost. You did it. Amanda was looking at you! For a moment you let the insanity completely take over and became… Nicole.

“Amanda…” Stephen started, but could not finish.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said with a laugh. “Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe she was really there… for a moment… either way, the truth came out. I did it. I killed my daughter. Marie… Nicole… if you’re really in there then… well… I am sorry, for everything.”

Stephen didn’t say a word.

“I know that doesn’t mean shit to you,” she continued, “but I intend to prove it with whatever’s left of my pitiful existence.” She grabbed Stephen’s hands, looked deep into his eyes—and beyond them—and finished, “I didn’t do it… see? I didn’t kill the one you love. That’s gotta count for something. I could’ve left him out there, but I didn’t. I saved him for you. Because… I do love you… Nicole.”

Stephen pulled his hands away. At that moment, Amanda made him appear to be the sane one.

The monsters pushed again, causing the kegs to shift once more. They pushed back. There were more of them now and it was getting harder to keep the kegs in place.

Stephen looked down the stairs and said, “We… we should go down. If there’s a chance—even a small one—we need to try.”

Amanda wouldn’t budge. Finally she looked away and said, “My daughter’s always been the fighter, Stephen. I’m the weak one. She knows that I would rather drink these fucking kegs dry and pass out right on this fucking landing… she knows that my words are just as weak.”

“She… saved me, Amanda,” Stephen said. “I can’t explain… couldn’t begin to explain… but she’s been with me ever since we left the school. You’re right. She is the fighter.” He looked down the stairwell again and finished, “I believe she’d want us to go down there, even if it turns out there’s no exit. I believe she’d want us to try.”

Amanda looked back at him and smiled. “Maybe we both needed her more than we ever knew.”

Stephen nodded and said, “On that, Amanda, we are in total agreement.”

Amanda quickly searched her pack and found one full magazine for her gun. “You have anything left?”

Stephen shook his head. “No, I’m out.”

Amanda stood up and said, “Alright then, let’s get down there and finish this.” She handed Stephen her flashlight. “We’re dead if we stay here anyway. These fuckers aren’t going to give up on the door. Looks like we try.”

“Okay, we try.” Stephen slowly got to his feet.

They gave the kegs one last shove and then Stephen aimed their only flashlight into the dark basement. “Ready?”

“We’ll need to hurry,” she said. “They’ll be through the fucking door in seconds. You find us a way out, Stephen. I’ll cover the door and buy us some time.”

They quickly descended the stairs with Stephen reaching the bottom first. He immediately started scanning the dark.

Amanda stood at the bottom of the stairs with her gun drawn and aimed upward toward the basement door.

The monsters pushed against the door again, finding less resistance against the kegs. The door slowly slipped open… one inch… two inches… three…

“Hurry, Stephen!” Amanda yelled.

The damp basement was full of stacked up boxes, old tables and chairs, and anything else the owner could cram into such a tight space. Stephen desperately searched for a basement window, another room, somewhere to hide—anything!—but he found nothing.

Fuck! We are trapped down here!

The dead continued to push against the basement door. The gap was almost wide enough for them to start pouring in as frenzied beasts stepped on top of each other, trying to force their decrepit and deformed frames through the doorway.

Stephen’s heart was racing. He forced himself to slow down, believing he might have overlooked something while scanning in a panic across the dark space. He expected to find Nicole sitting on a table in some new outfit befitting his present state of mind. But she was nowhere to be found.

“Where are you?” he whispered, letting the frustration and fear seize him. “You picked a hell of a time to leave me alone.”

Nicole did not respond.

Stephen’s beam stopped on a tall stack of boxes lined up against a far wall. He could just make out what looked like the side of a small and narrow window frame just visible to the left of a box near the top of the stack.

He quickly pushed a table aside and began knocking over the heavy boxes of various bottles of booze which shattered when they hit the basement floor. The boxes at the top of the stack nearly toppled on top of him as he moved to avoid the avalanche. He looked up and saw the narrow window just big enough to crawl through.

Stephen turned and yelled, “I found a window!”

Something slithered through the doorway and on to the landing, followed by another… and another.

Fuck! They’re in! Amanda thought.

Stephen frantically stacked the overturned boxes and used them to climb up to the window. He reached for the handle and pulled the window in and upward. He shined his light outside and into an empty alley. We have a chance!

Amanda aimed toward the guttural groans of the first hideous beasts breaching the basement. She could barely see them with the limited light coming from Stephen’s flashlight. She decided to wait as long as possible to conserve ammo and make her shots count. “Stephen, if you can get out… then go. We’re out of time.”

The beast on the landing heard her and began advancing. She heard them creaking down the wooden steps.

And then Stephen was standing beside her. “Didn’t you hear me, I said I found-”

“GET OUT OF HERE!” she yelled into his face. She started firing up the stairs, her rounds briefly lighting up the darkness and revealing the dead things getting struck and starting to stumble down the stairwell.

Amanda pushed Stephen out of the way just as the first of the dead rolled to the bottom of the stairs. She took Stephen’s flashlight and said, “Go! I’ll be right behind you! If I don’t slow them down we’re fucked!”

Stephen turned back toward the darkness, using the ambient light shining through the small window to lead him back. He scaled the boxes and forced himself through the small window as Amanda fired off more rounds behind him. He expected something to claw at his legs from behind or bite into his head from outside as he felt the most vulnerable half-in, half-out of the basement window. And then all at once, he was outside.

Stephen scanned the dark alley, saw no movement, and then went back toward the window.

Amanda had stopped firing. The basement was dark. He could hear the moans of the dead and the sound of boxes falling over.

It’s too late! They have her! He leaned in toward the dark portal and managed to whisper, “Amanda?”

A woman with blood running down her forehead suddenly shot her arms out the window and reached out for Stephen.

It was Amanda.

Stephen reached out and grabbed her arms. He began to pull but was met with resistance.

Amanda stopped struggling and fell limp. She looked up at Stephen—the horror clearly registering in her eyes as the dead began biting into her legs.

“No! Let her go!” Stephen continued to pull on her arms, but the dead were stronger. Amanda started to slide back into the basement.

“Step… Stephen…” she managed to get out.

He continued to tug on her arms. “Hold on… I’m going to get you out of there!”

“Too… too late… It’s over,” she whispered, trying to fight back the pain.

Stephen began to sob, the frustration and futility of his effort overwhelming him.

Amanda was dead no matter what, but he could not let her go—would not!

“Stephen… It’s okay… ” Her eyes suddenly went wide and she coughed up blood. She tensed up in Stephen’s arm and said, “Nicole… Nicole… please forgive… I… did this… did this for you… so sorry…”

Stephen was losing his grip. The monsters continued to pull Amanda back in through the window. Why don’t you help me?! he pleaded to the girl who continued to remain silent. Help me save your mother!

Amanda was struggling to breathe. She looked into Stephen eyes and saw her death reflected there.

There was only one thing he could do for her. “I… I… forgive you… Mother,” he said. “I love you.”

For a moment, a look of release flashed across Amanda’s dying face… and she looked… beautiful. It was a look he so desperately wanted to find in his own reflection. Unlike him, Amanda was finally free.

A pale woman with tree branches for arms climbed Amanda’s back and grabbed around her neck. It was the ghost-woman from the department store window.

All at once, Amanda pulled her arms free of Stephen’s grasp.

“No! No! NO!!!” Stephen could not reestablish his grip in time.

The monsters pulled Amanda back down into the dark.


Next Episode 22-11

Previous Episode 22-9


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“Chapter 22-10: Almost Dead” 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. Zaca says:

    I liked Amanda sometimes, and at other times, hated her. Now she’s gone, I just feel sad for the loss.


    • sscherr says:

      I felt exactly the same about Amanda as you did. It’s funny how we get invested in characters… even the annoying ones… and miss them when they’re gone. I imagine in a real apocalypse where these are the only human faces you might see for a long while, a bond begins to form, even if it’s a dysfunctional bond at times.


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