Chapter 23-9: Recruits

Posted: March 21, 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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Megan picked out a cubicle in the darkest corner of the large office area. The small space was clutter free, clean, and best of all, the leather chair behind the desk looked comfortable. She dropped her backpack on the desk, placed her handgun within easy reach beside it, and then collapsed into the chair, putting her feet up on the desk, hands behind her head. She started to close the heavy shudders over her dark, sleep-deprived eyes but stopped when she saw the picture frame on the desk. It was a young couple with genuine smiles lighting up their faces. The woman was holding a baby… all three of them now dead.

She sat up, reached across, and knocked the frame off the desk.

So much for sleep. Megan opened her pack and pulled out her notebook and pen. She started writing:

So exhausted. Can’t remember when I last slept like a normal person. Usually I just pass out for a half an hour at a time, whenever we’re still for more than five minutes. I always wake to the sound of gunfire, and then we’re running again… and there’s always more dead people to kill.

I think it’s been close to three weeks since we left the woods… not sure about dates anymore. Everything just runs together…

I’m starting to think we’ll never reach the evacuation center (a.k.a. fucking Headquarters). I don’t know if the others even care. They like all the killing. They’ve gotten really good at it, too.

It’s all Donovan’s fault. When he took control of the cell, he changed them. That bastard feeds it… he feeds their egos and makes them feel invincible, like the damn world belongs to them now. We keep moving from shit-hole town to shit-hole town, foraging what we can… mainly more guns and ammo. When we’re not hunting the dead, we’re hiding and waiting for the next opportunity like the fucking rush of it is all that’s left to live for.

It’s all just too damn much…

When we first left the woods, we were overwhelmed by the devastation… and the awful silence. The dead had run through the towns like a tornado, leaving so much destruction and blood in their wake.

We were attacked almost immediately when we foolishly pulled into a gas station with our four-wheelers. I think the sound of our motors drew them right to us. Everything had been so damn quiet at first, and then they came out of nowhere. There were so many… we had to abandon our rides and the bulk of our supplies, except for the fucking guns, of course. Thank God most of the zombies we encountered were like the dark-eyed woman from the barn and not like what happened to Justin. The yellow-eyed monsters are the worst and we learned real fast to avoid them like the plague. They are ruthless, fast and brutal all by themselves. In a group, they are extremely dangerous and we’d be dead by now if we’d encountered more of them.

After the gas station, Donovan lit into Jonathan in front of all of us. In so many words he said that Jonathan wasn’t fit to lead and that it was his fault that we almost got killed. He called him ‘careless’ and ‘too full of fear and false confidence’ to be effective enough to do what needed done. That’s when Donovan took over and started pushing hard on the others. He wanted them to ‘want’ to fight. Violet was more than enthusiastic about the change of command… that bitch… she’s ten times worse now. As for Jonathan, I think he was relieved to let Donovan take over. Nothing new there. He was always good at running from his responsibilities.

I’m worried about Lucas. Donovan took a strong interest in him after Jonathan made his shit list. I think he recognized right away that Lucas wanted to fit in and do his part… whatever that meant. Donovan was more than willing to take him under his wing and teach him… things. I guess that makes him a recruit now. I tried once to talk to Jonathan about it and asked him to stop it, but all Jonathan said was, ‘It will be good for him. He’ll be able to watch over you and the baby’. Mother-fucker! He loves to throw the baby card in my face. He’s useless! I’m afraid that Donovan is using Lucas against me because he knows I want to get away from all these killer freaks. I fear that if we ever do get to Headquarters, and I tell him I want to leave, that Lucas will resist…

She paused from writing, lost in her hell of dark thoughts. I should sleep, she reasoned. I can’t keep going like this… I’ll go fucking crazy. It was the nightmares she feared when she let her guard down. One dream in particular, which kept replaying in her thoughts like a bad horror movie, haunted her in the waking hours continuously. She started writing again:

I still have the same nightmare: I’m always sleeping in my old bed and then I hear this dreadful smacking sound from beneath my blanket. I open my eyes and see Donovan standing at the foot of the bed. He’s always smiling at me. Right when I’m about to speak, he puts his finger to his mouth to shush me and then he points down toward my blanket. I look, and there’s someone beneath the covers. When I pull the covers back, I see Lucas’s head buried in my ripped open belly. I scream, but no sound escapes my mouth. He lifts his head and looks at me with blood running down his chin. His eyes are a hideous yellow with veins pulsating across his cheeks… and he too is smiling…

Someone was approaching the cubicle.

Megan put down the notebook and grabbed the handgun, the same .38 Special she’d used to kill the woman in the barn. Donovan had found it amusing to give her back that gun after Lucas requested a weapon for her so he could train her in the fundamentals.

Lucas appeared in front of the cubicle with a loaded gun pointed at him.

“Shit!” she hissed, lowering the gun. “You need to tell a girl when you’re coming these days. It’s shoot first, ask questions later, remember?”

He held up his hands and said, “Sorry, babe. I thought you were sleeping… and why aren’t you sleeping?”

“I slept,” she lied, placing the gun back on the desk.

He saw her notebook out and frowned, but didn’t say anything. “I’m heading up to watch soon. Just thought I’d check in on you. Everything alright?”

“Yes,” she said and quickly changed the subject. “Everything still quiet?”

“Surprisingly, yes,” Lucas said, squatting down next to her with a rifle strapped across his back. “This is the first town we’ve come across without stumbling across a single zombie. Imagine that.”

“That’s only because in all the other towns, you all looked for them,” she said, with an aggressive tone.

Lucas dismissed the comment. “Building’s safe. We checked it and rechecked it. This will be the first time in a while we might be able to sleep the whole night.”

“Oh, boy,” she said, remembering her dreams. “How close are we now?”

Lucas frowned again. Megan always asked the same question. “Donovan said that Headquarters is about a two-day hike from here. He just doesn’t know if it’s clear enough to make a run for it yet.”

“In other words, he wants you all to keep hunting zombies. Maybe there is no Headquarters, have you considered that? Or maybe there is, but it got overrun and Donovan doesn’t want to tell us.”

Lucas smiled and said, “I’m sure there is, babe. Donovan knows what he’s doing.”

“He’s stalling and he’s dangerous,” she shot back. “If you would stop buying into his bullshit and allowing yourself to be seduced by his slick devil tongue, maybe you’d see it.”

“While you’re down here, you should come over and eat with the others,” he said. “They don’t understand why you still don’t like them. They’ve stopped fucking with us a while ago. It wouldn’t hurt to try to get along.”

“I’m not a recruit, remember?”

“Well… neither am I.”

“You might as well be. They all see it. They all see how Donovan’s taken an interest in you.”

Lucas smiled and said, “It’s funny you bring that up. Donovan wants to talk to me tonight. He said it’s good news, and that he’s impressed by how well I’ve carried myself these last few weeks. Violet thinks he’s going to ask me to join.”

Megan frowned at the mentioning of Violet. “Yes, I’ve noticed you two spending a lot more time together as of late. So when did you start fucking that psycho bitch, Lucas?”

He looked shocked. “Why would you think-”

“I don’t. I’m just… frustrated by the way everything’s turned out. Just… get away from me right now. I need some alone time. I need to think about things, now that the running and the killing has finally stopped for a few fucking minutes.”

Lucas sighed. “I’ll be up on the roof if you want to talk.” He waited.

“Okay, well… good luck with your recruit thing. I’m sure you’ll tell me all about it later. Meanwhile, you let me know when you want to discuss what we’re going to do about our child… you know… when we get to Headquarters and it’s time for us to go.”

“You said you’d give it a try first.”

She looked at him and sharply said, “That was three fucking weeks ago, Lucas! We haven’t talked much about anything since!”

“I have to go to watch. Let me know when you cool down.” He walked away.

She watched him leave as tears began to fall. I’m losing him… each day, I lose a little more.


Lucas found Jonathan waiting for him on the roof. Things had become weird between them ever since his older brother had fallen out of favor in Donovan’s eyes while Lucas appeared to become the teacher’s pet. It had been a while since they could just chill and be brothers again. But now that there was a lull in the storm of undead attacks, everyone was having difficulty adjusting to the down time. They all knew how to fight and run, but no one knew how to wait.

“Hey, Jon,” Lucas said as he walked over to his brother’s position.

Jonathan seemed a million miles away, staring down into the streets with his rifle laying across his lap. He turned sluggishly and smiled. “Hey yourself, little brother. Ready for four hours of sheer boredom that you’re never going to get back?”

Lucas stared up into the partly cloudy afternoon sky. “At least there’s a helluva view. I still can’t believe we haven’t come across a single zombie in this little backwoods town.”

Jonathan laughed. “You almost sound disappointed. I thought you would appreciate the quality time with the old ball-and-chain.”

Lucas rolled his eyes and sat down beside him. He stared into the quiet streets below. “It’s almost worse when we don’t see them,” he said, quickly changing the subject.

“How so?”

“I don’t know… it’s like the dead are deliberately hiding from us. It’s better to see your enemy coming than the enemy who sleeps.”

“You sound like Donovan,” Jonathan said. “He’s really had an impact on you, little brother.”

Lucas gave his brother a hard look. Jonathan looked much paler than he once did; frail and tired all the time. His eyes looked ancient. “I’m sorry that Donovan’s been so hard on you, bro. It sucks and it’s not fair. I don’t think you did anything to deserve the treatment he’s giving you.”

Jonathan shrugged his shoulders. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. I made a mistake and openly questioned him that day we made it back to the four-wheelers. I knew right away that I’d fucked up… I could see it in his eyes. He’s been on my case ever since, waiting for any excuse to demote me.”

“So this isn’t about getting ambushed at the gas station?”

“No, of course not. I overstepped my place and now I’m being disciplined for it.”

“It still sucks.”

“It’s okay. I think I’ve needed a break from the pressures of leading, and Donovan sensed it, too. Besides, it gave me a chance to sit back and watch my little brother become a man. Donovan’s training shows in you, Lucas. You’ll make an excellent recruit… hell, you’re already better than the others. How many kills again?”

Lucas smiled. “Ninety-two. But Violet’s closing in on me. She can’t stand that I’m a better shot.”

Jonathan dismissed her with a wave. “She’s lucky to still be alive. I thought her recklessness would’ve gotten her killed by now.”

“She’s a helluva fighter,” Lucas added in Violet’s defense, surprising himself.

Jonathan looked long at his brother and said half-heartedly, “Yes, of course she is… there’s always that.” He rose to his feet. “Anyway, I’ll just congratulate you now. Donovan’s coming up to talk to you in a few minutes. I think he’s going to make it official, little brother.”

“Really?” Lucas was excited. He’d worked hard over the last few weeks to impress the group and show that he could handle his own. He was often the first to attack the dead when they traveled through the towns. Even Violet had been impressed with his gung-ho spirit and eagerness to kill the enemy.

“I’ve no doubt,” Jonathan added. “You’ve come a long way, Lucas… and I’m proud of you.”

Lucas appreciated the praise from his brother, but tried not to show it. “Thanks, Jon. I’ve just been trying to pull my weight around here.”

“Well… you’ve definitely done that… and then some. It’s a huge relief for me to know that when we get to H.Q., you will have already earned your place.”

Lucas sighed. “She’s still talking about leaving after we get there. I don’t think Megan will ever accept Mother. She still thinks that everything’s going to go back to the way it was.”

Jonathan put his hand on his shoulder. “Little brother, after all we’ve seen out here, do you honestly think there’s anywhere else we could go?”

Lucas didn’t know how to answer that.

“Exactly,” Jonathan said. “Megan’s not ready to accept a lot of things yet. In time, she’ll have to come around. When she realizes how organized and prepared Mother is, she’ll have to accept that the world we came from is dead.”

Lucas looked at him. “Is this really it, Jon? Are we just going to keep on fighting until either the dead are all gone… or we are?”

“The living only have two choices remaining,” Donovan said, surprising them both as he stepped up behind them. “Either they keep on fighting for every inch they can reclaim, or, they lie down and wait to die, hiding in some corner somewhere until the dead finally discover them. What those poor souls don’t realize is that they’re dead already unless they push back. And that’s what we do, Lucas. That’s all we can do.”

Jonathan stepped back and nodded.

“Jonathan,” Donovan greeted. While everyone else had gone through several changes of clothing in the past weeks, often covered in filth and blood after each new attack, he continued to sport his old hoodie as if it were attached to his skin.

Lucas got to his feet and tried to look attentive.

“I’ll go check on the others,” Jonathan said, dismissing himself. He smiled once more at his brother and departed the roof.

Donovan stepped up next to Lucas as they both gazed out across the rooftops of the quiet town. “Any movement out there… anything at all?”

“Nothing. It’s hard to believe we haven’t seen a single zombie here. It’s a bit unnerving,” Lucas said.

Donovan smiled. “Relax, son, your record won’t suffer for the sake of one dead town. Besides, I’m sure if we poked a big enough stick in the right places around here we’d find something still hungry enough to stop by and pay us a visit.”

“Can I tell Violet you said that?” Lucas joked. “She’s been a bear ever since we got here.”

“How’s Megan holding up?” Donovan went straight for the sore spot.

Lucas frowned. “She’s okay. I don’t think she’s sleeping much.”

“Are you two still having… difficulties?”

“No… no… we’re fine. She’s just having a harder time… adjusting.”

Donovan looked at him. “That’s an interesting word, isn’t it? ‘Adjusting’. The bitch of it is, we never truly adjust, we simply get used to being in a constant state of change. That is our new ‘normal’, I suppose. Do you understand?”

“Yes… I get that,” Lucas said. “Is that what the numbness is all about?”

Donovan raised his eyebrows. “Do you feel numb to all of this, Lucas?”

He thought about it. “No… not numb… more like… too focused to let the feelings in. If that makes sense.”

Donovan laughed. “Well done, Lucas. You’ve managed to do something very few people can pull off. You’ve managed to become the master of your own fear. When something truly unsettling occurs, as is the case every day for us now, people have a tendency to listen to the one voice they shouldn’t—the voice of panic—and that voice is what leads many to the cliff edge and beyond before they realize they’ve sabotaged themselves. Fear is that irrational ‘thing’ which destroys focus, purpose, and the ability to fight through any circumstance, until you’re left cowering in corners, waiting for someone to come and rescue you from yourself.”

Lucas silently considered this.

“Back at Headquarters, we have an elite fighting force. I guess you would call them Mother’s ‘Special Forces’. Anyway, when we get there, I’ve half a mind to recommend you to them. They too, have mastered their fear and made it their slave for whatever purpose Mother sees fit. What would you say to that?”

Lucas was speechless. “I’m honored that you would consider me for that… but, I’m not even a recruit yet.”

Donovan smiled. “You are most certainly a recruit. From the day I started training you and saw what you were capable of, I never considered you anything less.”

Lucas was floored. “Thank you… for everything.”

Donovan nodded. “You’ve earned your place, Lucas. You’ve earned my respect as well as the others. I think we are very fortunate to have you and you’ll go far once we reach Headquarters. In fact, we’re heading there tomorrow. No more delays.”

“That’s awesome!”

Donovan laughed and said, “Your enthusiasm is encouraging. Of course, I am concerned that Megan will not feel the same as you do. I understand that she’s still insistent on leaving us.”

“Is there anything you don’t know?” Lucas asked.

“I pay attention, Lucas. It’s my job to keep an eye on anything which could potentially undermine-”

Donovan stopped short. From the right, toward the entrance into town, his eagle-sharp eyes detected movement. “Hand me your rifle, recruit,” he ordered.

Lucas handed him the gun.

Donovan aimed toward the streets, using the high-powered scope to get a better look. “We’re not alone anymore,” he announced, looking agitated.

Lucas looked anxious. “How many zombies this time?”

“No, not zombies… people.”

“Holy shit! Other survivors?”

Donovan turned to him and said, “Go get the others… hurry. We’re about to have a situation on our hands.”

“What’s… what’s wrong?”

“Just go, recruit. NOW!”


Megan was roused from sleep by the sound of shuffling feet. Lucas was yelling. She nearly fell out of the chair when he barged into the cubicle.

“We have to move, babe! Up to the roof… bring your gun!”

“What’s wrong? Have they found us again?” she asked.

He gave her a strange look. “There are people coming. Real, live people. Donovan’s upset. I’ve never seen him so… rattled. Something’s not right. Come on, we have to hurry!”

Megan followed behind as Violet, Simon, Dwayne and Jonathan looked equally confused. Everyone grabbed guns and rushed toward the roof access.

By the time they reached the roof, Donovan was already barking orders. “Recruits, take up position along the rooftop, but stay low. We have enemies approaching.”

Lucas rushed to Donovan who handed him back his rifle.

Violet, Dwayne and Simon formed a line along the edge of the rooftop, pointing their rifles toward the streets.

“Where?” Violet asked.

“Look toward the right,” Donovan said. “They’re coming in our direction. Once you locate them, keep tracking them. These people are very dangerous.”

Lucas reluctantly raised his gun, using his scope to locate the strangers.

“What’s going on?” Megan demanded. “Why are they pointing guns at people? There are people down there… right?” She stood next to Jonathan near the access door.

Jonathan seemed unsure of what to do.

Donovan ignored them both and addressed the recruits. “Now, listen very carefully. You’ve all been training hard. I’ve taught you how to kill the enemy and stay alive. Today is no different.”

Everyone but Violet looked up from their sights, confused by where this was heading.

“Donovan?” Jonathan asked. “What’s going on? Are there zombies down there?”

He ignored him. “What you all remember as ‘people’ no longer exist. It’s Us against Them now. Whoever is not with Mother is against her. These… people… who are coming into town want what you have and will do anything to take if from you! They are armed and dangerous nomads who are worse than the dead because they can still think, speak, deceive… They are just like the dead but don’t know it. They are the enemy.”

“Are you fucking crazy!?” Megan shouted. “Those are people down there! You have no right!” She turned to Lucas. “Lucas, let’s go right now! We’re not murderers. We didn’t sign up for this!”

Lucas was sweating profusely. He couldn’t stop shaking. He could see them clearly in his scope now: a red-headed woman, an old man with a beard, a big man, two smaller men and an older woman who looked like she just came from church. “It’s true,” he confirmed. “They have guns.”

“So fucking what?” Megan was getting hysterical. “We have guns, too! That means nothing!”

Donovan turned to Jonathan and said, “Get her off my fucking roof top before she gets us all killed!”

“But… why are we… have they done something wrong?” Jonathan was confused.

Donovan gave him a threatening look which clearly said, Don’t you dare contradict me in front of my recruits again!

Jonathan swallowed hard and grabbed Megan’s arm. “Let’s go, Megan. Off the roof.”

She punched him in the jaw. “Get your cowardly hands off me! Do you see what he’s about to make your brother do, asshole?! Donovan’s insane! He won’t be happy until we’re slaughtering babies next!”

“Megan… please stop,” Lucas begged. “Everything will be okay.” Lucas didn’t believe it.

“Don’t lose focus, son,” Donovan warned. “Now’s not the time to let all that fear get inside your head! Everyone’s depending on you.” He turned toward Jonathan. “Go… now!”

Jonathan grabbed Megan’s arms and held them behind her. “Come on!” he said. “You’re not helping!”

She kicked and fought until Jonathan pushed her through the access door. “Lucas! Don’t do this!” she shouted before the door slammed behind them.

Lucas was about to turn toward the roof door but stopped as the enemy turned down another street. “They’re not coming toward us anymore,” he said with relief. “I… I don’t think they even know we’re here.”

The strangers were moving past the three-story office building. None of them turned in their direction.

Oh thank you, God! Lucas thought, trying to dry his sweaty hands on his pants.

“It’s a trick,” Donovan said. “They want us to think they’re moving on, that’s why they’ve turned. They already know where we are. As soon as we let out guards down, they’ll double-back and ambush our position.”

“I have a clean shot at the red-headed bitch,” Violet said, getting ready to fire.

“No!” Donovan yelled. “Not yet.”

They all turned toward him.

Donovan looked to Lucas. “This is your moment, Lucas Rhodes. I want you to claim the first kill.”

Lucas was alarmed. His heart began to race. “But… they’re leaving. Why don’t we just-”

“Take the fucking shot, Lucas!” Donovan barked. “You’re letting the fear win! I’ve already told you they’re dangerous. You let them slip away now, they’ll be back when you’re asleep. They’ll slit your throat just to steal your shoes. They are desperation’s children now and that means they’ve turned into murderers, rapists, and thieves! Pick one, Lucas—I don’t care who—just pick one and send them the message.”

“‘The message?’” Lucas was terrified.

He leaned in close and whispered, “You take one of them out, Lucas, and they’ll quickly understand that we are not the victims, we are the victors. Those criminals of the new world need to know that they can’t have what is yours. You’re sending them the message that they can’t rape your girl and then kill her and your unborn child.”

Donovan’s words reached in and struck a very cold place within him. Lucas lined his sites back up on the rear of the unknown group.

“That’s it, son. Let the old ways go. This isn’t a civilized society anymore where the bad guys go to jail just to get released a few days later! There is no law, no justice—there is nothing to stop evil men and women from doing whatever they please. There is only Us now. Please… don’t let those murderers roam free. If you do, they’ll do unspeakable things to whoever they find next… and that will be on your head.”

Lucas kept bouncing his sites from one head to another. And then the old man with the beard turned and pointed briefly in their direction. He’s right, they know exactly where we are!

He locked in, turning off all the thoughts which were distracting him; turning off the fear which made him question—made him doubt.

Lucas let the familiar numbness steal over him, and the fear was gone.

He targeted the old man, putting the crosshairs on the back of his head.

Donovan backed away and smiled.

He heard Megan’s voice drifting away: Don’t do this… you’re not a murderer!

And then the voice was gone, swallowed up in the darkness which consumed him, leaving only one clear thought: Destroy the enemy.


“Move the fuck out of the way, Jonathan!” Megan threatened. She had the .38 Special out and aimed toward his chest. “I swear, if you don’t move, I’ll shoot you like I did that fucking zombie!”

Jonathan continued to block the access door. He smiled and said, “Megan, calm down. You’re not a killer. Besides, are you going to tell Lucas that you shot his brother because he wouldn’t move out of your way?”

She lowered the gun in frustration and shouted, “Well… then… do… SOMETHING! Go out there and stop this before it’s too late! I don’t like you, Jonathan, but I know you aren’t a killer either. You’re not like that psycho, Violet, and you’re certainly not like that madman, Donovan!”

“Just relax,” he said, raising his hands. “This is another training exercise… nothing more. Donovan’s not going to authorize the cold-blooded slaughter of some raggedy group of survivors…”

The gunshot from the rifle made them both jump.

Jonathan turned toward the door, reached for the knob, and stopped. Lucas? No… no… Donovan wouldn’t….

Megan fell to her knees, and dropped the gun. She started kicking violently at it, wanting the cold steel far from her. She never wanted to touch another gun… ever. She started to sob as the sound of other rifles going off drowned her out. She covered her ears and felt a part of her die.

Jonathan moved away from the door and closed his eyes, trying not to picture his little brother opening fire on those people in the street. All he wanted to do was… run.


Next Episode 24-1

Previous Episode 23-8


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“Chapter 23-9: Recruits” Copyright © 2014, 2016 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Three: Recruits”.

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’m actually happy that they encountered each other.


  2. still Megan Queen Bitch became more annoying than Violet ,if that was even possible


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