Chapter 24-3: Blood Required

Posted: March 28, 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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sniper

~~~

The forest, which connected the small town of Andover to the Ohio side of Lake Pymatuning, now belonged to the dead. The remaining reanimated zombie population had congregated toward the lake to slowly feed off the rotting flesh and bones of campers who had been trapped when the outbreak first occurred. Initially, some survivors had managed to escape across the lake, loaded up on small fishing boats and canoes, while many had simply dove into the water and tried to swim out of reach of the horde which struck the area. Entire families had drowned together, forced to choose between chancing the lake and perishing on the shores as the dead had rushed into the water, disappearing beneath the surface and pulling panicked survivors down into the dark depths.

After the slaughter, the dead continued to roam aimlessly about the woods and shoreline, as the strong scent of blood lingered around the lake. Abandoned tents torn to shreds and RV’s splattered with dried-up blood stains remained hidden within the trees like nameless markers; just another cemetery haunted by the screams of the living and the moans of the dead.

The gunfire from town echoed throughout the woods like a proverbial dinner bell, attracting the attention of the sluggish monsters which turned and started advancing toward town.

~~~

Meredith and Stephen sat inside the edge of the woods behind the storefronts listening to the muffled sound of gunfire coming from within the tall building. They both felt helpless as they were left to wonder if their friends were already dead.

The older woman looked over at the tired young man who was a nervous wreck as one calamity compounded upon another.

He caught her staring and tried his best to smile.

Bless his heart, she thought. She put her hand on Stephen’s shoulder. “We’ll get through this, Stephen… just like everything else.”

His smile faltered. “I think we’re going to die in this town, Meredith. But what terrifies me more than everything else is that I think I’d welcome it now.”

“You can’t give up, honey. Those mountains have never been as close as they are now. When Gina gets back-”

“Gina,” he interrupted, “is already gone. You saw the same thing I did—the look in her eyes. She won’t stop until she’s killed whoever’s in that building or gets herself killed. And if they do make it back, we’ll never be same again. We’ll be… murderers… no different from those people who shot Greg.” He looked away.

Meredith was struck by Stephen’s words. He’s right, and you know it. Gina’s crossed the line and turned us into a bunch of vigilantes. She nodded her head and said, “Yes… Stephen… you may be right. After today, we won’t be the same. But we’ll heal in time and press on as best we can. Can you hold on to that?”

Stephen looked up. “Maybe, Meredith. No promises.”

They heard a stick snap in the woods behind them.

Meredith and Stephen turned and saw ghastly looking forms creeping toward them through the forest. They moved slowly but with united purpose as the dead shambled away from the lake and toward the sound of the gunfire.

“Shit,” Stephen said. “What do we do?”

Meredith’s thoughts were elsewhere. She wasn’t surprised that she didn’t sense them. Ever since Jefferson, she’d forced that mental door closed, refusing to ever open it again and risk leading the yellow-eyed monsters right to them. It had taken her a long time to figure out how, but Meredith believed she’d finally gained a measure of control over her abilities. Fortunately, these were not the hate-filled ones which attacked the renovated old school. Most of these zombies were phantoms of the old world, reanimated echoes of the living which had no business returning from the grave. Some were recently infected and had turned into phantoms themselves after death could find no purchase on their souls.

Stephen looked anxious. They were still safe for the moment, but the dead were coming and would soon own the entire area. “Why didn’t you say anything, Meredith? Didn’t you sense them before now?”

She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It doesn’t matter, Stephen. They’re here now.” She suddenly thought about Greg’s body lying in the street and what it would mean when the dead arrived.

“Stephen,” she said. “We can’t leave him there.”

Stephen was confused at first until he saw the pleading look in Meredith’s eyes. “Oh, God, I didn’t even think about that! You’re right! We can’t leave Greg out there. Those monster will…” He shook his head, trying to expel the horrific image of his friend’s corpse being torn to pieces—reduced to nothing more than a meal. He said sternly, “We have to move him, Meredith. Right now, before they own the town.”

“It’s the least we could do for Gregory,” she agreed.

Stephen considered something else. “We’ll be exposed out there. If those shooters are still on the roof, we’ll be joining our friend… permanently.”

Meredith smiled and said, “Yes… that could very well be. But at least we won’t have to lose any sleep tonight knowing that we just left him out there to rot when we could’ve done something other than cower in these trees.”

“I’ve lost enough sleep, Meredith, and I’ve had my fill of nightmares to last me two lifetimes. Let’s go do this one thing… for Greg.”

Meredith tried to keep the tears from falling. She nodded and said, “It would be nice if we could finally have a proper burial for one of our own. We’ve lost so much already.”

Stephen felt a lump in his throat. “You ready?”

Meredith and Stephen stood up and headed back toward the alley where they were last together as a group, being mindful not to attract the attention of the dead working their way out of the woods.

~~~

Gina sat against the wall near the stairwell, arms resting on her knees. She continued to stare at her prisoner, the blond-haired woman who sat in a lounge chair with her head down, arms tied behind her back.

Frank was going through the supplies left by the shooters. “Spoils of war,” he kidded as he pulled out a shotgun from the large gun bag. “Got some new rifles, handguns, and plenty of ammo as well. Camping supplies, too. This will definitely save us some time.” He looked around at the shot up third floor cubicles as sunset was quickly approaching and they were losing the light. He could just make out the bodies of the dead shooters, one in the corner of the lounge, the other at the center of the aisle. “We should get the hell out of here, soon.”

“We wait for Marcus,” Gina said. “Last time I saw him, he was going after the fucking archer. I tried to keep up but I lost them both. Then I found you.”

“Then let’s get out of the shadows and head for the roof. This place is starting to creep me out. Not to mention, I’d like to see where the next arrow is coming from if Robin Hood decided to stick around.”

Gina finally addressed the woman. “How far along are you?”

The woman lifted her head as if struck. Her face was red from tears and she shook nervously, reminding Gina of a skittish Chihuahua. “Ex… excuse me?” she asked.

“Your baby,” Gina clarified. “How far along are you?”

She looked like she’d just been asked the hardest question. Finally, she said, “I… I think about a month now… or close to it. I honestly haven’t had much time to think about it since we’ve been on the road. The days run together.”

Gina laughed. “Yeah… they certainly do. What’s your name?”

“Me- Megan.”

“Are you thirsty, Megan?”

Megan shook her head. She refused to look Gina in the eye. “I’m… I’m okay. Thank you.”

“And the father?”

“He’s dead,” Megan quickly said. She closed her eyes and finished her partial lie, “He died… on the road.”

Gina could tell she was lying, but she didn’t press. It was obvious to both her and Frank that the woman was being protected, tucked away in that room without even a weapon to protect herself. She’s probably never held a gun in her life, Gina thought. They had reasoned that some kind of internal drama must have occurred, causing the tattooed woman to come down and take advantage of the chaos to kill off the other.

It probably would’ve been better if Frank had showed up five minutes later and let that bitch finish her off. This pathetic thing won’t last five minutes on her own. The cold thought made Gina shudder. What the hell… I’m seriously fucked-up.

Gina let out a heavy sigh and rose to her feet. She walked over to Frank and whispered, “You can give it back now. I promise not to shoot her.”

Frank gave her a hard look and then nodded. He handed Gina back her gun. “It wasn’t her I was worried about. Hell, after the look you gave me…” he trailed off with a smile.

Gina managed a weak one in return. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“You know what.”

Frank looked uncomfortable again. “Just shut up and keep your eyes open. I don’t want an arrow in my ass.”

“That won’t be a problem,” said the man appearing in the stairwell.

Both Frank and Gina spun around with guns drawn.

“Shit, Marcus! You’re too damn quiet!” Gina scolded, lowering her gun. “It’s good to see you. Did you get the archer?”

Marcus was holding his side. His machete dangled in his other hand. “He had impeccable aim… but yes, he’s gone now.”

“Are you hit?” Gina asked concerned. She came over and Marcus waved her off.

“It’s alright. The arrow pierced me in my left love handle. Probably did me a favor.” He looked over at the woman. “Who’s this?”

“This is… this is, Megan,” Gina said, her words sounding foolish to her own ears. “I guess she’s our first ‘prisoner of war’.” That sounded pretty stupid, too.

Megan refused to look up.

Marcus simply nodded. “Are we finished here… or should I prepare the other love handle for battle?”

Gina smiled. “Yes… I believe we’re done here.”

Marcus looked her in the eye and said, “And… is it finished, Gina?”

She hesitated and then looked at the pregnant girl. “Yes… it is finished, Marcus.”

The faint sound of gunfire made them all jump.

“That’s coming from the roof,” Frank said.

Gina immediately thought about the two men with the rifles. They were both on the ground when she went after Marcus. She’d thought she hit them both.

“Get up, Megan,” Gina ordered, her anger instantly returning.

Megan rose, tensing up when Gina grabbed her from behind by the shoulders. “Stay with me… and don’t try anything. Understand?”

Megan nodded.

Gina was concerned for Meredith and Stephen. “You better start praying that I don’t find your friends up there taking shots at my people,” Gina threatened.

Megan was terrified.

They reached the roof access door and found it wide open.

They could still hear gunfire but could tell that it wasn’t from rifles but rather small arms fire.

“It’s coming from down on the street,” Frank said, stepping out on to the roof. He quickly scanned the area and confirmed the roof was clear.

They cautiously peeked over the side of the roof.

“Oh… no…” Gina said. “What the fuck were they thinking?”

The streets were quickly filling up with the scattered remains of Andover’s dead. It was easily apparent that all the gunfire had drawn them out of hiding and now they were surrounding the two individuals below who were desperately trying to protect the body of their dead friend.

Meredith was attempting to drag Greg’s body toward the open door of a Sedan while Stephen held back the dead with his handgun, taking his time to make accurate head shots as they moved within five feet of them. They would be overrun in minutes.

“Frank!” Gina called out.

“Got it!” He was already running back toward the third floor to retrieve the bag of guns, specifically, the rifles.

Gina aimed her handgun toward the dead closest to the car and started firing. Her shots went wild, since the creatures were well out of range, but the sound momentarily distracted a few of them, allowing Meredith and Stephen a chance to get Greg’s body into the car. They barely had time to get inside themselves before forty dead savages swarmed the vehicle.

“They’ll get in,” Marcus said. “Those windows won’t hold.”

“I know that… don’t you think I fucking know that?!” Gina was losing her mind. This can’t happen… not again! I can’t lose anyone else!

It was Greg’s body which made the dead go berserk. If Stephen and Meredith had just left him there, they could’ve escaped.

Marcus lifted his machete and said, “The rifles won’t help us. We’d be risking hitting Meredith and Stephen trying to shoot those things off the car. I’ll get down there. Maybe I can get a few of them to chase me away from the vehicle. You two can cover me from up here.” He was already heading for the door.

“Wait a minute!” Gina said.

Marcus held up.

Gina turned toward Megan. “You are going to help us fix this mess, for all the grief your fucking friends caused. Are we clear?”

Megan frowned. “They’re not my friends… but yes, I’ll do whatever you want.” She was just grateful to still be alive… for her unborn child’s sake.

Gina untied Megan’s bindings and freed her hands.

Megan looked confused.

She turned to Marcus. “We’re going down to the third floor lounge and we’ll snag Frank on the way.” She turned back to Megan and finished, “You’re not going to like this… but you’re going to help me do what needs done to save my friends.”

Megan nodded and followed Gina and Marcus off the rooftop.

~~~

Stephen and Meredith were crammed into the back seat of the Sedan with Greg’s body between them. The dead had completely surrounded the vehicle, violently rocking the car back and forth.

They barely had a moment to breathe before the frenzied beasts started smashing bloody hands against every window.

“I can’t see past them!” Stephen said, trying to find a way out. He continued to shift his aim with the handgun from window to window, not knowing when the first one would shatter.

Meredith had her knife out, prepared to strike at anything which came near them. She couldn’t look away from their dark, lifeless eyes—so void of anything which once resembled humanity—and yet, driven by a need they could not understand to soak their teeth into flesh. Such intense hunger provided the illusion of life behind those dark pools of madness… but that was the end of it. Whoever they once were was long gone.

The glass began to break on several windows.

Stephen looked to Meredith and said, “We can’t survive this. There’s too many! We should’ve just left when we-”

“We stopped those poor soulless creatures from ripping out friend’s body to pieces,” Meredith reminded him. “Don’t you dare regret that, young man! We did our best to do something… decent. There’s no shame in that.”

Stephen drew some strength from the older woman’s resolve. He nodded and said, “It was a pleasure knowing you, Meredith.”

“Likewise,” she said with a smile. “Now we ‘fight the good fight’ as our dear friend might say, and just see what happens.”

The front windshield shattered, spilling glass pebbles across the front seat.

Stephen opened fire into the heads of three… four… five zombies which reached into the vehicle with blood-stained hands and snapping jaws. They collapsed half-way into the Sedan, briefly blocking access through the windshield and slowing down the zombies which piled in behind them. Stephen could already see more filthy hands digging around the corpses.

The passenger side window near Meredith shattered next as the dead reached in and grabbed at her hair. She swung her knife wildly at cold wrists until she was free. Meredith was screaming with rage as she stabbed and stabbed and stabbed at the relentless arms which tried to reach in for her.

Stephen was reloading as the dead began to push through the front again. The driver side window shattered. He had just enough time to put three rounds into the mangled face of a woman who pulled herself through the window, attempting to bite his throat.

Meredith was tired. She was forced back toward Stephen as a long arm tried to scratch her eyes out.

The dead were almost inside the vehicle when Stephen heard a sound outside that reminded him of a large water balloon striking concrete. Then there was a second sound.

Suddenly, he could see out of one of the windows as the dead began to retreat off the car and move toward the new sound.

What the hell? Stephen looked to Meredith who was equally confused.

And then all at once, the dead completely abandoned the car as they rushed toward two spots in the road, surrounding these locations like vultures fighting over a kill.

The mystery was solved a few seconds later as a third object fell from the sky, splattering on impact, as blood appeared to explode upon the road. They could just make out the face of a dark-haired woman as the dead descended upon the body with sickening speed.

“Dear Lord,” Meredith whispered, covering her mouth.

Stephen was equally appalled.

They both jumped as someone opened the rear door that faced away from the bodies.

It was Marcus.

“Now Stephen, this is the second time I’ve helped you escape a car… you should really consider putting the whole vehicle thing on your list of places not fit to flee the dead.” He held out his hand and finished, “We need to get out of here before the bullets start flying.”

Stephen gladly took his hand and exited the vehicle.

Meredith was next. After she got out she immediately grabbed Greg’s arms and started to pull. “Help me,” she said.

“We really don’t have the time-” Marcus was cut off by her stern look.

“Okay… we’ll make time.” Marcus helped the other two get Greg’s body out of the car and they slowly started dragging him away from the street, keeping the Sedan between them and the distracted dead.

All at once, the roof came alive with gunfire as Gina and Frank started mowing the dead down. The walking corpses never even looked up or tried to scatter, too consumed by the flesh of the dead recruits to understand their own demise.

Within ten minutes, the dead lay still in three piles of rotting flesh, ripped out organs, and dismembered limbs.

Meredith, Marcus and Stephen had managed to drag Greg’s corpse safely into a small shop across the street.

Frank lowered his gun. “It’s over,” he said. “Nice plan, Gina… a bit macabre, but it worked.”

Gina didn’t acknowledge him. She was staring down into the blood splattered street feeling like she belonged down there, too.

She turned to the horrified blond woman to her left and said, “Did you see it all?”

“Yes,” Megan said. “You wouldn’t let me turn away.”

Gina’s face was stone. “That’s right, I wouldn’t. You deserve to be down there, too. But this will have to do. I wanted to make sure you saw what remained of your murderous group on the street as I fed their remains to the dogs. And that’s what you all deserve for what you did today.”

Megan wisely remained silent. She was just grateful that Lucas wasn’t one among the bodies which Gina had made her help carry to the roof. Where are you, Lucas? she silently wondered.

~~~

Jonathan lay prone beside his wounded brother beneath the truck, watching the whole horror show play out through his rifle scope. When he saw Dwayne, Simon and Violet’s bodies tossed off the rooftop, he nearly pulled the trigger, wanting only to kill those savages on the roof. But that’s when he spotted Megan.

“She’s still alive, little brother.”

Lucas coughed and said, “Don’t do anything stupid, Jon. If we kill another one they’ll just take it out on Megan.”

Jon spotted another man sprinting toward the car where the other two nearly died inside… until the dead found something else to feast upon.

All three of them stood in the open now. They were trying to drag the corpse of their friend away. “I have clear shots on three of them, little brother. They’ve killed the recruits… tossed them off the roof like garbage.” Once again, Jon was tempted to open fire.

“Jon!” Lucas spoke up. He tried to turn over but the pain from his wounds forbade it. “Don’t you dare… I mean it! Remember, we’re the ones who started this!”

Jon hesitated a moment longer, and then took his finger off the trigger. “If they didn’t have Megan…” He let the unspoken threat linger.

Lucas coughed again.

Jon put the rifle down and attended his brother. “We need to change these bandages and find you some drugs for the pain.”

“Not yet,” Lucas said. “We need to follow them… find out where they plan to hold out for the night.”

Jon nodded. “Let’s get you out of here. We need to find better cover in case they head this way.”

Lucas tried to help as best he could but his shoulder throbbed. “We can move into one of the buildings nearby… watch them from the windows.”

“Agreed,” Jon said. “And after we get Megan back, it’s open season on those assholes!”

~~~

Next Episode 24-4

Previous Episode 24-2

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 24-3: Blood Required” 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.

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Comments
  1. Zaca says:

    Greg and Meredith did something unnecessary. However, I really am happy they did it. I’m liking the fight against these two groups of survivors.

    Like

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