Chapter 25-4: Reunions and Departures

Posted: April 13, 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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Sheriff

~~~

After establishing a defensive perimeter around a major portion of the small downtown area of Andover, Sam had decided to make the diner her base of operations. It was centrally located and she could keep an eye on the newest members of her community, who she allowed to remain upstairs in the living quarters. She wouldn’t openly admit it, but Sam was pleased by Gina’s willingness to step aside and let her take charge, even offering up her own people to help in any way they could. Sam was also pleased that Frank Carman was securely locked away in the town jail and that Gina had not thrown a fit about it.

And now the hard part: public speaking. She was a cop, not a politician, and this was the part she dreaded most. But as Orosco was always reminding her, being the one in charge meant the occasional motivational speech to keep everyone’s morale up. Bad morale would lead to trouble from within, which they could not afford.

Sam stared out the north facing window at the quiet night, wondering if she’d overlooked anything. She hated sitting still knowing that a world of dead things was out there wanting to destroy them. But everything was in order and Andover, for the moment, was as secure as it was going to be.

Stop stalling and get this over with, she thought, as she straightened her uniform in the faint reflection in the glass. There. Now turn around and play the part of town sheriff and show them confidence. That’s what they need from you.

She turned around to the candle-lit diner and took in everyone sitting in attendance. Tony and Orosco were there as well as a handful of her trusted people. Gina and her group, minus the criminal, also sat, waiting to hear why Sam had called them all together.

Sam gave them her best practiced smile, which appeared strained upon her face, and started, “I want to thank you all for coming tonight. I know it’s been a busy day and I’m sure you’re all ready for some real sleep. I’m happy to report that the town is secure and that whatever remaining zombies are left seem content to remain down by the lake. I have extra eyes on those woods between here and there just in case they catch scent of us, but if we keep the noise down and the lights low, I believe we’ll be fine.”

They all waited.

She ran a hand through her short-cropped hair and wiped the nervous sweat from her brow. “Anyway… the reason I’ve asked you to come tonight is to discuss recent events, exchange notes, and get some kind of bearing on where we should head from here. We’ve done well for ourselves so far by staying on the move, but with winter approaching, we need somewhere we can hold up for a while without fighting two enemies: the Dead and Mother Fucking Nature.” She glanced toward Gina, who sat in a booth toward the back of the room. “Gina, first of all, I want to welcome you and your people to our little community of traveling gypsies. I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot earlier today. Your cooperation and understanding is greatly appreciated.”

Gina simply frowned and gave the cop a nod. “What are you planning on doing with Frank?”

I’m going to shoot that shit-eating grin off his fucking face, she thought. Sam turned to Orosco and nodded.

Orosco cleared his throat and addressed Gina’s question. “Gina, I spent a little time earlier talking with your man, Stephen, down at the jail. He suggested a trial of some kind and offered to defend Frank personally. Frank consented to his counsel… and the idea of the trial… so that seems to be the course we’re heading in.”

Gina looked at Sam and said, “I suppose that makes you the prosecution?”

Sam smiled and said, “Absolutely. I’m not a fan of this… trial… but as it has been pointed out to me, your friend is entitled to one by the Law.” She sneered at Orosco and finished, “It’s also been pointed out that Frank Carman’s… treatment… in regard to his crimes will set the precedent for future law breakers since we have no judicial system currently in place. Mr. Orosco will preside as the judge… and Frank will be judged by the community… his peers.”

Gina didn’t know what else to say. She caught Tony stealing glances at her from across the room. She lowered her eyes and let out a heavy sigh. “I’m only agreeing to this because I believe Frank’s actions since the apocalypse will trump over whatever he did before. Hell, compared to what people are doing to each other these days, Frank’s a saint. Also, I want unlimited access to my friend. This is all new to me and I’d like to hear what he has to say about his… crimes.”

“Of course,” Sam said. “As long as I retain custody of the prisoner, you may talk to him whenever you wish. Fair enough?”

“For now,” Gina said.

Sam quickly changed the subject. “Now, like I said, the town’s secure for the moment. It’s my intention to remain here for a few days, pick this place clean of supplies, and move on to a more permanent location to wait out the winter. I want options over the next few days so we can decide on our next course of action.” She looked to Tony and said, “Tony has spoken with Gina about their group’s plan to head over into Pennsylvania. She knows of a secure cabin retreat half-way up a mountain. Looking into it further, we’ve discovered a small town at the base of the mountain which is basically off the grid and far away from zombie infested areas. One option is to secure this town for ourselves and brave the winter there. We should have just enough time to reach it before the first winter storms start blowing through. It will be rough getting there, and a lot of hard work to make it ready for the long winter months, but I have to admit, it’s tempting because it is so isolated. Again, it’s just one option at the moment.”

“Why don’t we just stay here?” someone from Sam’s group asked. “We could eliminate the zombies down by the lake and just… hold out here.”

“Yes,” Sam said. “I’ve considered that. The biggest problem with staying anywhere around here is not knowing what the dead will do when the winter comes, and where they will be going when their present food supply is exhausted. They’ve been content to feed off the larger populated areas, but I believe it’s just a matter of time before they spread out and return to the smaller towns. We can hold our own against the slower ones… but it’s those yellow-eyed demons that worry me.”

Gina shot Meredith a look, remembering that the older woman no longer sensed the dead… or that she no longer was willing to.

Meredith shifted uncomfortably under her gaze and stared at her feet.

Sam looked grave as she spoke next. “Also, we have another threat to the north… not too far from here. Many of you who have been with us since we started hitting up the farming communities have heard myself, Tony and Orosco tell what you might have thought were ghost stories around the campfires as we watched the fields each night. We spoke of the Shadow Dead, of the madman who lived in the wilderness preserve, and the machine that spoke to the dead and sentenced people to death. It doesn’t matter whether you believed us or not… we were there and we know what we saw. We kept telling you about the three-pronged symbol with an eye at the center because we wanted all of you to never forget the horrors we endured in those woods so that you would never have to fall prey to the same.”

Gina’s ears perked up and the mention of the symbol.

Sam continued. “We have gone through great lengths to avoid that area, keeping well clear and to the north of it, but when we encountered the yellow-eyed monsters coming down from Erie, that’s when we started heading back south, picking up whoever we came across along the way. And we deliberately took the long way around that area, as you recall, just in case they were watching for us.” Sam paused to take a drink of water. She didn’t like talking about their escape from that hellish place but she made sure they told every new person that joined their community about ‘them’.

Gina retrieved the flyer she’d taken from Megan’s notebook and stood up. “Is this the symbol you’re talking about?” she asked, holding up the flyer.

Sam looked like she’d seen a ghost. “Where did you get that? Speak up.”

“The group that attacked us when we first got here, one of them was a pregnant girl we’d captured. She had a notebook that described their activities and this flyer was in it.” Gina paused considering the young frightened girl. “They were some kind of cell group in training heading back to a place they called Headquarters, which was the place at the bottom of the flyer… that wildlife preserve you mentioned.”

Sam looked shocked. “What does it mean… do you know?”

Gina laughed and said, “I wanted to know the same thing. All the girl knew was that the symbol meant Mother. From what I gleamed from the notebook, they knew very little about where they were headed. Their leader, who is dead now, that knowledge died with him.”

Sam looked disappointed. “Anything else?”

Gina looked to Meredith, Stephen and Marcus and said, “We’ve encountered that symbol before. We originally tried to reach a marina in Fairport Harbor, hoping to find a boat. When we got there, we walked into a trap and this symbol was spray-painted all over the place. The girl, Megan, believed that these people were all about ‘experiments’ on a psychological level. She believed that’s what happened to us, and it even happened to them at a barn. Anyway, that’s about it.”

“And this girl, what happened to her?”

“We let her go. She found what was left of her group and headed north out of town… to that wildlife preserve. She seemed to think that it was the only safe place left to deliver her child.”

Tony gave Sam a sad look.

She nodded and said to Gina, “You shouldn’t have let her go. Better to shoot her in the head yourself than let her go to that place. It’s evil.”

Gina didn’t know what to say.

“I believe you’re right, Gina,” Sam said. “They played games with us there. And the guy in charge is a fucking sadist. I don’t know what that girl was told… but the wildlife preserve is death. If she’s headed there now, I feel sorry for her. There is nothing ‘safe’ about what you called, ‘Headquarters’. If she’s there, she’s probably dead already.”

~~~

Next Episode 25-5

Previous Episode 25-3

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 25-4: Reunions and Departures” 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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