Chapter 25-9: Reunions and Departures

Posted: April 24, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, contests, 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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~~~

Gina paced the alley bordering the jail. She was fighting everything within her that was screaming to call this crazy plan off. That’s just your fear talking, she reminded herself. You know deep down that going after Megan is the right thing to do… even if it’s still the foolish thing. She tried not to think about the road ahead and the dangers which awaited the moment they were away from Andover. What terrified her the most was knowing that she’d soon be on her own for the first time since walking that long beach from Geneva to Percy and finally arriving at the power plant… God that feels so long ago now.

She kept staring at the side door which exited into the alley. “What the hell is taking him so long?” she muttered impatiently. Gina wanted to get her feet moving before she completely lost her nerve. She refused to think about Tony or how he would react when he found out she was missing. I’m so sorry, Tony, she thought. I hope I make it back so I can explain this to you in some way that makes sense.

Gina thought about the letter she wrote before returning to the diner to meet with Sam. It would have to suffice for now. On the way, she’d caught up with Meredith who was helping the community doctor pack whatever medical supplies they had salvaged from a local drug store. Gina had sheepishly approached the older woman and asked if they could talk privately…

~~~

…Meredith was delighted to see her and they’d walked over to the small park and sat down.

“It’s good to see you, Gina,” Meredith said. “I’m sorry we haven’t had a chance to talk sooner. I wanted to give you and Tony some time together and then I got caught up with my new role as camp nurse.”

Gina smiled. “You seem to be fitting right in here. Must be exciting to have a real job again.”

Meredith laughed. “I don’t know about all that, honey. I think my real job is dodging the flirtations of Dr. Cooper. That man is relentless!”

Gina raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Does he know that… well… you know…”

“That I like women as much as he does? Yes. I broke the news to him when it became clear that he was… into me… and you know what that man said?”

Gina laughed. “This ought to be good.”

“He said, ‘Meredith, I guess I’ll have to try as hard as a woman to win you over’. Can you believe that? I never laughed so hard. That man makes me feel like some giddy school girl all over again.”

Gina was clapping her hands and trying not to fall off the park bench.

Meredith joined her as the two of them cracked up, drawing the attention of a passing patrol which thought they’d lost their minds.

Gina finally regained control and said, “We haven’t had a chance to laugh like that in a long time… I missed it.”

“Me too, Gina. It feels good here. Everything seems to be getting better. Maybe it’s never been all that bad to begin with and I just couldn’t see it because I let the dead live in my head for far too long. But not anymore.”

“You don’t sense them at all?” Gina asked. “Nothing?”

Meredith gave her a serious look. “I don’t want to… so I shut them out for good. After what happened in Jefferson, I figured out how to close that door.”

Gina wanted to ask about Jefferson, and how she was able to make them go dormant, but she didn’t want to spoil their last moments together.

“And what about you, honey?” Meredith asked. “I can’t imagine how good it must feel to find Tony safe and sound… out here… now. It’s like it was meant to be.”

Gina gave her a weak smile and confessed, “Things aren’t always as good as they appear. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s back and safe but…”

Meredith eyes went wide as she grabbed Gina’s hand. “Oh my, don’t tell me he was sleeping with that lady cop!”

Gina laughed in surprise. “No. Nothing quite as dramatic as that. We’re just… not the same people anymore. Know what I mean?”

Meredith frowned. She could read her like an open book. “Did you tell him… everything?”

“What I didn’t come right out and say, he read the rest in my eyes. I’m not the woman he expected to find and he’s exactly what I remember. It’s been a difficult transition.”

“Well, don’t you underestimate the healing power of the heart, Gina. Just give it time and you two will find your way back.”

She looked into the older woman’s eyes and knew that she believed it. Now if only I could.

“Thank you, Meredith. You always know what to say to make me feel better.” She then swallowed hard and finished, “I’m sorry for everything. I’m sorry for failing you all and involving you in what I did. It’s a good thing Samantha came along when she did to relieve me of command, so to speak. I don’t think—no—I know I wasn’t fit to lead anyone anymore. I just wanted to say that before… I’m sorry for disappointing you.” Gina quickly wiped tears from her eyes.

Meredith smiled, her own eyes beginning to water up. “Don’t you worry, honey. We were there with you through all that madness. You carried us through… but it took a toll on you. If it wasn’t for you, Gina, none of us would be here now. And that’s what we will remember. You just go on and make things right with Tony and get some rest. You’ve earned the break.”

Gina nodded, feeling grateful for Meredith’s forgiving heart. She reached into her pocket and retrieved the folded up letter. “Could you do me a favor?” she asked, handing Meredith the letter.

“What’s this?”

“Just a few words I’m not able to tell Tony in person yet. But I wanted to make sure he got this… just in case something were to happen to me. ”

“What’s going to happen to you, Gina?” Meredith was growing concerned.

“Nothing to worry about,” Gina lied. “I’m just a realist when it comes to our life expectancy these days. Anything could happen to us at any time. I just wanted to make sure there was nothing I left unsaid… in case we’re attacked and my luck ran out.”

Meredith stared hard at Gina. She wasn’t buying it, but she mercifully didn’t press the matter. “Alright, Gina. I’ll make sure Tony gets this.”

“Thank you,” she said, quickly rising to her feet and feeling nauseous. “I’m late for something. Can we talk later?”
“Absolutely, honey.”

“If you see Marcus and Stephen before I do… could you pass on what we talked about.”

Meredith hesitated and then said, “Certainly. Are you sure there isn’t anything else you want to tell me, Gina?”

She couldn’t look her in the eyes. “We’ll talk later. Is that alright?”

Meredith gave her a smile and nodded. The older woman got up and put her arms around her, making Gina get tense as she tried desperately not to crack and break down in the woman’s arms.

Just keep it together for a little longer and walk away, she kept telling herself.

“Gina, can you do something for me?” Meredith whispered in her ear.

“Anything.”

“Do you remember those tears we talked about that first night we met? And how those tears would become as rare as gold when things turned bad?”

Gina remembered. That was the night they spoke of how hard the world would become and that there would be a time when no one would shed tears any longer as compassion ran cold. “Yes, Meredith, I remember that night.”

“I know you’re carrying a lot of pain inside of you, a lot of darkness which is trying to take those tears away.”

Gina was about to crumble.

Meredith continued. “You just hold to those tears, Gina, and when you’ve flooded out all that darkness with them, you’ll rise to the surface and be whole again. I want you to remember that Gina. Always remember that… okay?”

“Ye… yes. I will.” She broke from Meredith’s embrace, gave the kind woman a final glance, and quickly walked away.

Goodbye, Meredith. I love you…

~~~

…That had been hard enough without having to see the others as well. When Gina had parted with Meredith, she was torn between desperately wanting to see Tony one final time, and deathly afraid that she might and wouldn’t be able to lie to him about where she was going.

She’d made it to the diner without incident and Sam had told her everything she knew about the evil wildlife preserve. By the time she’d left to meet Orosco and Frank at the jail, she was terrified to death of the place the cop had described. Sam hadn’t pulled any punches like Tony had when he’d told her about it. She wanted Gina to know exactly what she was getting into in order to see if she would change her mind.

Gina had asked, “So where’s Tony going to be during all of this?”

Sam had smiled and said, “Ironically, I sent him ahead to do the very thing you suggested I tell him you were sent to do. Tony and Orosco are typically sent to scout the roads before we move. They were the first to check out this little town before we got here. His small team will be back in a couple of hours to give me a report. I also asked your man, Stephen, to go in Orosco’s place and accompany him to get his focus off of Frank. That should give you and Frank enough time to leave without attracting notice. Orosco will handle the rest from the jail.”

Gina had one final question. “What will you tell him if Tony asks where I’ve gone?”

“Don’t worry about it, Gina. I’ll figure something out,” Sam had said, losing patience. “Now get going if you’re still bent on doing this. I have a camp to move and we’re wasting daylight.”…

~~~

…The side door to the jail opened suddenly and Orosco stepped outside. He looked anxious. “Are we clear?” he asked her, referring to the two-man patrols. “We need to time this right so no one sees you leave.”

Gina checked both ends of the alley. There was no one around. “We’re good.”

Orosco nodded. He ducked back inside the jail and returned with a surprised Frank in tow.

He saw her and smiled. “Gina, what the hell is this?”

“I told you I’d talk her into it,” she said with a wink. “Did Orosco give you the short version on what we’re doing?”

Frank nodded. “Yeah. I got it. Something about you volunteering me for some scary mission. You failed to mention anything about that, by the way.” He was already putting on one of the two packs which Orosco had brought.

Orosco handed Gina the second. He was a sweaty mess.

“You up to this?” Gina asked the black man.

Orosco smiled and said, “Yeah… I’m still just trying to wrap my head around what you and Carman are about to do… and what’s going to happen when Tony finds out.”

“You’re not supposed to tell him anything. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

“No… no… don’t misunderstand me. I’m trustworthy to a fault and Sam knows it.” Orosco ran a hand through his short black hair. “I’m just not happy about being included in this madness plan… or all this sneaking around. We need to go.”

Gina nodded, putting the pack on. “Lead the way.”

Orosco led them both out the back of the alley and into the nearby woods. When they were safely out of sight and well past the camp’s perimeter, he squatted down and motioned them over.

Frank and Gina sat beside him as Orosco retrieved a hand-drawn map of the wilderness preserve with key reference points highlighted as well as the major roadways entering the preserve from the north and the south. “You’ll want to stay away from the entrances when you get there. That’s the fastest way to get captured… trust me. No one gets in or out of there without Micom knowing about it.”

“You guys managed to pull it off,” Gina said.

Orosco frowned. “We lost a lot of people in the process. We got lucky is all.”

Frank sat back, studying the map. He had a thousand questions to ask, but decided to wait.

“You guys followed the river, right?” Gina asked. “Tony said he came in that way and you all came out using the river as well. Should we focus on that?”

Orosco scratched his head. “Yes and no. Gina, you have to understand, we may have fooled Micom and his people but it was the damn Shadow Dead that tracked us down. When we made it far enough west, toward the freeway, that was when we knew we were alright.”

Gina frowned. “Sam believed that the Shadow Dead and this Micom character were working together somehow. How did he pull that off?”

Orosco shrugged his shoulders.

“Our boy, Charlie, had a means to do the same, Gina,” Frank reminded her. “Maybe Micom can do what he did.”

Orosco gave them a confused look.

“Long story. No time.” Gina looked into the woods and thought, “We’ll have the element of surprise. Micom was aware of your escape. He doesn’t even know we’re coming. That will have to be our edge.”

“Stay out of there at night,” Orosco warned. “River’s probably your best bet. It seemed to hide us for a little while.”

Gina stared at an ‘X’ on the map with the word, ‘waterfall’ written next to it. “Was this the place Tony found? He talked about seeing these things disappear behind a waterfall. He believed there was a cave, possibly their den.”

“We avoided it,” Orosco said. “Everything else Sam or Tony told you about is marked on here—not exact or to scale, of course. But just to give you a layout of the land.” He looked toward the north and pointed. “Head that way for about a mile. You’ll come out on a small two-lane road that we were traveling on before we cut over on to the main road headed into Andover. It was zombie-free at the time. When you get close enough, you’ll have to decide how you want to enter. I recommend coming in from the west.”

Gina nodded. “Thank you, Orosco.”

Orosco laughed. “Don’t thank me for helping you enter hell. You’ll be cursing my name soon enough.” He looked at them both and said, “It’s none of my business, but, it’s not too late to call this off. I can put Frank back in the cell, he’ll get his trial and none of this has to matter.”

Gina stood up before she could be tempted. “You should head back, Orosco. Thanks again. We’ll take it from here.”

Orosco nodded and said, “Well… good luck to you.” He started back.

Frank stepped in close to Gina and said, “We should get to that road as soon as possible. I have a shit-load of questions that need answering.”

She nodded and they turned toward the north, walking deeper into the woods.

~~~

Orosco returned to the diner as instructed.

Sam was wearing out a rut in the linoleum as she paced back and forth impatiently.

When he entered, he said, “It’s done. No one saw us.”

“Good,” Sam said, sitting down at her booth and letting out a long sigh of relief. “I’m glad that’s over with. Now we can focus on getting the hell out of here.”

“Why are we leaving, Sam?” Orosco asked. “I mean… I know you decided on heading for the mountains, but it seems like you’re rushing a bit. Why not stay the night and leave in the morning? It’s going to be dark once we’re about ten miles away from here.”

“That’s why Tony’s out there looking for a secure area to hold up at until dawn.”

Orosco was confused. “But this is a secure area already.”

Sam got up and went to the diner window. “You ask too many questions, Orosco. What is it… don’t you trust me anymore?”

“That’s not why I’m asking, Sam-”

“Then just let the matter rest!” Sam barked. “If I had to explain every damn decision I made, we’d be dead already. Call it instinct, if you need an answer. My gut says we need to leave, and we need to leave this afternoon.”

Orosco held his hands up. “Cease fire, Sam. I was just curious.” He stepped up beside her and asked, “Do you think that crazy woman and Frank will make it back?”

“Hell no,” Sam said. “That’s why I tried real hard to scare her straight away from the foolishness before I sent her over to the jail. She’s as stubborn as… well, as me. Gina’s set on saving some girl who can’t be saved.”

Orosco turned to her and said, “Sometimes you sound just like you did that day Tony attacked the zombies at the burning barn.”

“Your point?”

“Just making an observation,” he laughed. “It seems like after everything we’ve accomplished by now—all these people we’d saved—it seems like you’re still waiting on that other dark shoe to drop.”

Sam gave him a stern look. “Your optimism is fine, until it makes you blind to the fact that we could die any time. Don’t lose sight of that fact or your complacency will get you killed.”

Orosco wisely remained silent.

“Sometimes I think you all let Tony infect you with too much hope. Hope’s fine… it’s good for morale… but when there’s hard decisions I have to make to keep the rest of you ‘hopeful’, I’d appreciate it if you’d cut me some fucking slack!”

He frowned and said, “You’re right, Sam. Sorry for speaking out of turn. You need anything else from me today?”

“No. Go ahead and get your stuff packed and catch a nap. I’ll need you fresh for when we leave.”

Orosco nodded and hesitated before leaving. “Are we still telling Tony that Gina helped Frank escape from the jail?”

“Yes. Now, before you start objecting again, remember that it’s only a temporary lie to get Tony moving. I know it’s not nice to deceive our own, but you know that he will stop everything and tear this town apart trying to find her.”

“Yeah… that’s the part I’m worried about.”

“Anyway, this was what Gina and I decided,” she lied. “She doesn’t want him following her to that damn place any more than we can afford to lose him. Don’t you agree?”

Orosco nodded.

“So that’s what we tell him. We’ll say she feared for Frank’s safety and that she’s headed toward the mountains. That’s what is going to keep us all on the same page.”

“What if he doesn’t believe it?” Orosco pushed.

Sam sighed. “Again… there you go killing me with questions.” She reached into her pocket and retrieved a note. Here’s the letter Gina wrote before she met up with you. It says in a nutshell: ‘I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused’… blah… blah… blah…‘but I need time to show you that Frank’s a swell guy’… blah… blah… blah… ‘that’s why we’re going on ahead to the mountain cabin alone’… blah… blah… blah… ”

Orosco laughed. “I guess you two thought this out already. No more questions… I promise.”

Sam watched him exit the diner.

He’s a loyalist, but I wish he’d spend less time with Mr. Optimism Marcuchi, she thought. After we get out of here, I’m going to have to separate those two for a while.

Samantha walked back to her booth and sat down. She thought about the rest of the plan she’d withheld from Orosco as she tossed the bogus letter on the table:

When Tony gets back, you’ll have to act fast, Sam. She was thinking about Marcus and that idiot, Joe, she’d left in the Post Office. She had decided to make the most of Gina and Frank’s departure and insure that if they did make it back, Frank was a guaranteed dead man.

Orosco will play along with the jail break story. Meanwhile, I’ll go cut Marcus loose from the Post Office and tell Joe that we ‘suspect’ our murderer ‘might be’, Mr. Frank Fucking Carman, who just happened to escape with one of her own people.

That damn idiot will spread the news faster than the internet, and before Orosco or any of Frank’s friends can rush to his defense, I’ll have the whole community hating Carman for slitting poor Phillip’s throat. And after the storm settles and we’re long gone… they’ll all still be wondering if Frank Carman did it or not. That should make the silly trial, if there ever is one, tip back in my favor.

Sam liked it. She couldn’t keep the murder quiet forever and blaming Frank would motivate everyone to move toward the mountains… with the intent of catching up to Frank along the way.

She looked down at the note she wrote in Gina’s name. “Now I just have to plant you someplace Tony will find it and then get my ass over to that Post Office.”

Sam looked toward the stairs which led to Gina’s former sleeping quarters. Tony had slept with Gina last night. Perfect! He’ll come here first.

The former cop started up the stairs to the empty apartment. She found their bedroom, saw the two indentations in the bed sheet, and placed the note on the nightstand next to the bed. She moved a candle holder and placed it on top of the note, making sure it wasn’t too obvious but that it could still be found.

Sam stepped back to the foot of the bed and took in the scene. And that’s that.

She heard footsteps rushing toward her from the other room.

Sam had just enough time to turn and raise her hands in front of her face as the attacker came in low and stabbed her in the abdomen with a hunting knife.

Sam’s eyes went wide as she tried to speak and coughed up blood.

The attacker twisted the knife and began to force it upward, cutting deeper into Sam’s organs, quickly gutting her and spilling Sam’s insides all over the floor.

Sam’s arms went limp as the attacker landed one final slice across her throat and then pushed her back on to the bed.
She convulsed for a few seconds and then stopped moving, her eyes locked open and staring up at a lifeless ceiling fan.

The attacker remained still, watching as the white bed sheet beneath the dying cop turn crimson.

After being certain that Sam was dead, the attacker walked over to the nightstand and removed the note from beneath the candlestick. The attacker unfolded it, read the note, and then rolled it up. The attacker reached over Sam’s body and dipped the end of the note in Sam’s bloody flesh. The attacker took the bloody letter and started writing words on the wall above the bed.

When finished, the attacker stared at the message written in terrifying red:

YOU KILL US. WE KILL YOU. BLOOD FOR BLOOD.

~~~

Next Episode 25-10

Previous Episode 25-8

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 25-9: 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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Comments
  1. Life says:

    Lol. That was unexpected. I wonder who in their group is doing it? (I kind of doubt we have ninja zombies)

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      Believe it or not, this turn of events surprised me as well. Where this went and what my outline originally intended for Sam was completely different. I truly believe stories have a life on their own and often we authors have to yield to what the story dictates. It’s really exciting when that happens ;)

      Like

  2. Zaca says:

    I like how your story surprises me a lot.

    Like

  3. oncegiants says:

    Man I totally wasn’t expecting that!! Just catching up on all my likes btw. I was happy Tony and Gina reunited, but the reality of the situation needs further resolution before it can become real it seems. This world is so harsh! D:

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      Hey, welcome back. Yeah… things are happening from the shadows. Poor Gina. I don’t believe she ever thought to find Tony alive again. Now, she has to deal with the woman she sees reflected back in his eyes ;)

      Like

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