Chapter 26-2: Further Actions Pending…

Posted: May 1, 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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TEN HOURS EARLIER:

…“Whether they’re on to us because we’ve been identified by the three we let go, or they’re just looking for any reason to dispose of us rather than take a risk at keeping us around, we assume the worst and tell them about Sam. I know… you’re worried about Tony, but we need to tell them something they can relate with. We won’t tell them anything about Andover, and if they assume Sam is there, well… from what you told me, they should be long gone by now. Our connection to Sam will raise a red flag and get their wheels spinning. They’ll want to know everything we know about the woman cop who escaped this nut house. So we use ruse number two as a bargaining chip to keep us alive a bit longer.”…

Gina and Frank’s hands were zip tied behind their backs. Micom’s soldiers blindfolded them and let them out of the detention center and into the cool night, toward the center of the camp.

Gina’s heart raced as she listened to the trampling of the soldier’s boots all around her. She couldn’t help thinking that they were being escorted to some wall, where she and Frank’s blindfolds would be removed right before the firing squad filled them with lead.

They stopped abruptly as the soldiers led them up a short flight of creaking wooden steps and on to a raised platform.

The soldiers stopped them again and made them sit in cold metal fold-up chairs.

Gina’s anxiety level was soaring through the roof as they sat for several minutes in silence, unable to see a damn thing. Finally she heard movement to her left—the shuffling sound of forced, unwilling feet surrounded by more soldier boots.
There were several people being moved into the area, from what she could deduce by sense of sound.

“Alright,” Micom said. “Take them off.”

Suddenly her blindfold was gone and Gina was staring into the eyes of her captor standing before a tall machine which looked like it had been splattered with blood.

Micolad, she thought. The so-called, ‘Machine In Charge Of Life And Death’. This can’t be good. Gina looked around and immediately found Frank sitting three chairs to her right, hands bound and with an equally concerned expression highlighting his face. Behind them both stood several of Micom’s soldier goons, watching them like hawks.

Gina noticed that they were sitting center-stage on a platform surrounded by bleachers on three sides in a courtyard of some sort. From her left, the last of the refugees from the detention center were being led in under heavy guard as each of them were forced to sit in the bleachers. Their grim and tired looking faces amplified her own fear at what was coming. She remembered both Tony and Samantha describing this place and the horrors which occurred here as the machine consulted with the mysterious Shadow Dead which came out near the edge of the woods to express their wishes as Micolad translated… and death was always the result. This is where they kill people to appease the monsters outside the camp… and the monsters who run it. She scanned the faces of the crowd, looking for Megan. She didn’t see her in attendance. Gina was puzzled by the amount of open spaces in the bleachers. Tony said there was a couple hundred people still here when they fled… unless they’ve all become part of the guard force, there’s not even a hundred people left.

That’s when she noticed the dark-colored soil in the large open area at the base of the platform.

My God, this place reeks of death!

Since the revolt led by the police woman, and after the associated attempt on Micolad’s life, the refugees had suffered the wrath of the Shadow Dead as Micolad, who was never quite the same after his circuitry dried out, went mad and had ten people a night murdered for six whole days… in the most diabolical ways. On the seventh day after the revolt, no sacrifices had been declared by Micolad. Instead, he had announced that he’d found a solution to appease the Shadow Dead. Everyone had been relieved until they found out the horrible price for their disobedience: The Shadow Dead had devoured their remaining children.

“You should both feel honored,” Micom told them. “It’s a blessing and a rare privilege to sit in the presence of our savior, Micolad. You will get to witness first-hand how Man and Beast work out their differences and reach a state of compromise. This is how we have remained alive out here, untouched for so long. This is the place where the dead will come no farther and the living no longer need fight against the flood of darkness which consumes the world out there.” He pointed dramatically up and beyond the woods.

“If we’re so fucking fortunate,” Frank said, “then why are we bound as if being presented as some kind of human sacrifice?”

Micom smiled. “Yes, there will be sacrifice… but that is not why you two are sitting here. You are to be judged and sentenced by just Micolad, himself! That is your honor. That is your privilege. We are not barbarians. If so, I could’ve just had you both shot to death the moment you walked in to this area. No, we have rules and an obligation to make sure even assassins like yourselves, get an opportunity to go before the only judge who is true and fair. ”

“It’s going to have us killed in some sick manner, I’m sure,” Gina said. “What’s so fair about that? We won’t even have a chance to defend ourselves.”

“The facts of your crime have already been presented to Micolad. He will process your actions and decide your fates… and he will be just.”

“Just a fucking machine,” Frank added.

Micom frowned as one of the soldiers struck Frank in the thigh with the butt of his rifle. Frank absorbed the pain quietly, catching the hint to watch what he said about their tin can ‘god’.

Copperfield came up to the platform, gave Frank and Gina a sneering look, and then nodded to Micom.

“Very well,” he said. “Let’s begin.”

Micom stepped up to the edge of the platform and lifted his arms wide to the half-dead faces which sat in attendance. Micom’s armed soldiers surrounded the bleachers, making sure no one tried to leave their seats. All of them were forced to endure another night of bloodshed as the machine which controlled their miserable lives would now select from among them, those who would be slaughtered to entertain the beasts in exchange for their mercy and right to exist for another night in this death camp.

“My friends,” Micom began, “once again, we gather as one to meet with the dead as our beloved Micolad will negotiate for our lives. Long live Micolad!”

This was met by silence as malnourished and hope-deprived men and women stared into oblivion with numb hearts. Some closed their eyes and cursed God, others simply wept for loved ones whose ghosts cried out for justice in the crimson-colored dirt before the platform.

Micom frowned at their lack of enthusiasm. Ungrateful maggots! He rolled his eyes and nodded to Copperfield who stood behind him on his left.

Copperfield drew his katana sword, signaling the soldiers surrounding the courtyard.

The soldiers all raised their guns and aimed at the frightened faces in the bleachers.

Micom cleared his throat and repeated, “I said… LONG… LIVE… MICOLAD!”

A broken chorus of terrified voices under duress echoed, “Long Live Micolad!”

Gina felt horrible for these poor people. She silently hoped that Megan was not here. She could not imagine trying to raise a child in this frightening place.

“Now that’s more like it,” Micom said.

Copperfield put his sword away.

The soldiers lowered their guns.

Micom scanned the crowd slowly, deliberately, sizing them up collectively. He finally said, “Tonight I don’t come to you with big speeches of hope and light and the promise for a better tomorrow as Micolad leads us into a peaceful coexistence alongside the dead which now own this world. We have not proven ourselves worthy of such a lofty place. After the rebellion, led by one of our own trusted members, and the thirty Judas’s who followed her… we have paid dearly for their actions in blood. Even though the Shadow Dead dealt with their treachery swiftly and devoured every one of their souls, we were left behind to atone for their sins and prove to the new owners of this world that the actions of a few traitors should not represent the rest of us.”

Frank looked to Gina. They were both thinking the same thing:

They believe Samantha is dead… or they want the people to believe it.

Micom continued, “And so now here… we… are! Humbled! Broken! Grief-stricken!” He waited for his words to sink in. “But not forever, my friends. We will one day rise from the ashes and prove to the dead that we are not like the others; that we are not like the rest of Man which roams the world outside of here—Savages! Murderers! Rapists! MONSTERS!!!”

Frank and Gina exchanged an incredulous look.

Is this lunatic for real? Gina thought. I think he actually believes what he’s saying… and expects them to believe it!

The woods around the camp suddenly erupted with howls and moans which made Gina want to crawl under her chair and hide.

Frank looked about nervously, itching to punch something as the soldiers kept him firmly in his seat.

The frightened prisoners started getting out of their seats as the soldiers surrounding the assembly area aimed their guns and yelled at them to sit back down.

Micom raised his voice and pointed at them accusingly. “Sit down or Micolad will let them come! Sit down and pay your debt! Prove yourselves worthy… or what’s left of your miserable, worthless lives will come to a swift end!”

Reluctantly the people sat back down. Many covered their ears to keep form going insane with fear. Some who sat exposed near the end of the bleachers, tried to crawl on top of the others, hoping to hide within the crowd, hoping to not be selected. The ones at the center violently pushed and kicked them back, ready to spill blood before the machine decreed it.

Micom moved behind the machine and started punching buttons and turning dials while Copperfield took control of the soldiers and made them get the crowd under control.

Amplified chirps, beeps and clicks erupted from Micolad’s large speaker followed immediately by a mixed recording of a woman screaming as if her fingernails were being torn out.

Gina didn’t know what was worse, the monster’s howling from the woods or the screams coming from the devil-machine.

Frank wanted to rip a rifle from a soldier’s hand and shoot the fucking thing.

Micom quickly rushed to the end of the platform. “See what you’ve done? Do you see? He’s in pain! Micolad is in such deep, deep pain! He bleeds for all of you… and you’re still ungrateful! Be still! BE FUCKING STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS BLEEDING FOR ALL OF YOU!!!”

“This is fucking insane!” Frank said to the closest soldier. “Are you hearing this?”

“Shut up!” the soldier hissed, threatening to beat him with his rifle.

All at once the screaming from the machine ceased. So did the howls from the woods.

A mechanical voice came to life and said: I AM… I AM DYING… I AM DYING… FOR YOU… FOR… FOR…FOR…YOU…YOU…YOU…

To Gina, it sounded like the machine was skipping as if it never quite recovered or rebooted correctly after Sam’s girl on the inside tried to kill it.

…PROCESSING… PROCESSING… TRANSLATION PENDING…

“Be quiet! All of you!” Micom shouted. “The Shadow Dead are trying to speak!”

Micolad suddenly started to whistle, as if looking to fill the time while its processors tried to slowly piece together the language of the dead.

…HA HA HA… DEAD… DEAD… DEAD… HA HA HA… DEAD ALL DEAD…

What the fuck is this thing? Gina wanted some distance between herself and the mechanical maniac. Why would they program it to whistle and… laugh like that? It almost sounds like it’s… mocking us!

Micom looked annoyed and quickly rushed back over to the machine, pushed an intercom button and asked, “Micolad, please advise us. Tell us the desires of the Shadow Dead?”

More chirps and beeps… PROCESSING… PROCESSING… TRANSLATION COMPLETED… “OBEY US SWIFTLY OR WE COME AND TAKE AND SPILL THE BLOOD”… SELF-DIAGNOSTIC REQUIRED… “SPILL THE BLOOD OF YOUR-”… HA HA HA…. PROCESSING… PROCESSING…

Micom was frantically pushing buttons. He was visibly sweating.

“Looks like your fancy computer’s blown a fucking gasket,” Frank told the soldier with a smile.

The soldier hit him across the face so hard that Frank fell out of his chair. “Shut up!”

Frank looked up at him and started laughing. “You hit like a girl.”

Before the soldier could hit him again, Frank felt the cold steel blade beneath his chin. He turned and saw the no-nonsense expression of the little man holding his katana to his throat. Copperfield raised a finger to his mouth and shook his head.

Frank clearly understood and remained silent.

“Let him go, prick!” Gina shouted.

Frank held up his hand to her. “Gina, I’ve got this. Everything’s cool.” He winked at the man with the sword.

Copperfield tilted his head like a dog trying to understand a strange thing.

Micolad returned from the land of digital madness and managed to finish the translation: “OBEY US SWIFTLY OR WE COME AND TAKE AND SPILL THE BLOOD OF HALF YOUR CAMP. WE DEMAND A LIFE TO PROVE YOUR DEVOTION. CHOOSE TWO: FIRST ONE TO DIE SAVES THE LIFE OF A LOVED ONE. THE OTHER WHO HESITATES LOSES A HAND AND THE HEART OF A LOVED ONE. WE WATCH”… END OF TRANSLATION… PROCESSING SOLUTION… PROCESSING… HA HA HA… PROCESSING…

What the fuck? Gina was pulling so tightly on her bindings that her wrists started to bleed.

The crowd began to weep collectively. There was no strength left within them to protest, become angry, or fight back. They were already dead inside.

Micom stared at the crowd without a hint of mercy. He despised them. “Micolad will find the most acceptable solution and appease the Shadow Dead… and you will all comply!”

…ANSWER PENDING… CALCULATING… HA HA HA… STAND BY… PROCESSING… HA HA HA… SOLUTION REACHED… LOTTERY REQUIRED… REPEAT, LOTTERY REQUIRED… FURTHER ACTIONS PENDING… HA HA HA…

“Micolad has spoken,” Micom said. “Micolad will draw two names… prepare yourselves, and your loves ones.”

Gina stared into their horrified faces, watched them turn to each other and embrace as if it were the last time… again… and felt a part of herself dying inside. This is so fucking cruel! What kind of demented organization is this? She stared at the sickening blood-smeared machine, noticed the symbol for the first time and thought, ‘Mother’, whatever the hell that means, if I survive this I’m going to make it my sole purpose in life to find all of you responsible for this madness… and put you in the fucking ground!

…NAMES SELECTED… HA HA HA… PRINTING…

Micom stepped up to the blood-thirsty machine and read the names: “Angela Harris and Felicia White. Prepare yourselves for what must be done… it’s your time to choose, and save half the camp.”

…FURTHER ACTIONS PENDING… PROCESSING… HA HA HA… SOLUTION REACHED… ONE KNIFE, TWO FIGHT FOR THE PRIZE OF CHOICE… REPEAT, ONE KNIFE, TWO FIGHT FOR THE PRIZE OF CHOICE… HA HA HA…

The two selected women were pulled from the bleachers by Micom’s soldiers and placed in the open area before the platform.
Everyone else averted their eyes in shame, just grateful that their names were not selected this time. The silence which followed hung forever in the air as Copperfield stepped down between the two terrified women and retrieved a long dagger from beneath his coat. He held it up to both women.

Micom clarified, “Ladies… the prize.”

No! Gina felt sick to her stomach. No matter what, both women would lose; all they had was who they could save. And what if that sick fucking metal thing puts me and Frank down there? What nasty choice would it or the fucking Shadow Dead present before us?

Copperfield dramatically threw the dagger into the dirt with the hilt sticking straight up.

Both women stared at the dagger like vicious dogs eyeing a bone.

Before the morbid contest could play out, Frank had had enough. He went prematurely into ruse number two: “I know who started your revolt!” he shouted, staring at the crowd. “Sam, the police officer, the one who took Orosco and everyone else who was willing to stand up to this bullshit.”

Everyone turned, including the two women and Copperfield.

Micom turned, his anger and puzzlement clearly evident at the mentioning of Samantha’s name… and how Frank knew it.

The soldier watching over Frank appeared confused as to what to do.

Frank took advantage of his shock at hearing him speak Sam’s name and continued before he was beat down again. “We met her on the road. She told us about this place. Warned us to stay the hell away.” Frank was improvising now. He risked poking holes in their back-up story but he could not sit there for one more second and watch this horrible scene play out. “But what she said that you all need to fucking hear is this: The Shadow Dead can be beaten! Sam lived! Orosco lived! They’re laughing at these bastards right now!”

“Shut him up!” Micom shouted.

The soldier started kicking Frank.

He tried to deflect the blows as best he could, long enough to finish. “They beat these fucking zombies in the woods and got away! That means your psychotic machine and this numb-nuts who runs it are nothing but fucking liars!”

There were several soldiers now beating Frank with the butt of their rifles.

“Fucking liars! Stand up, like Sam did, and fight! Stand up-” Frank took several blows to the head and fell unconscious. The soldiers continued to beat him and kick him.

“Frank!” Gina screamed.

“Don’t kill him yet!” Micom shouted.

The soldiers stopped.

“Take these two out of here… immediately!” he ordered. “Micolad will sentence them after we finish here!”

Just before they reached Gina, a young woman started screaming from the bleachers, trying to reach the ground below the platform.

Gina turned in time to see the reason for her distress as the woman named, Alicia Harris, stood in shock over the body of the other woman, Felicia White.

Oh, God… no!

Felicia had taken advantage of the confusion to walk up to the knife, pull it from the dirt, silently say goodbye to her eldest daughter of twenty-two who watched in horror from the bleachers, and then thrust the dagger into her own chest.

“That’s not fair!” Alicia said to the dead woman. “I wasn’t ready… I didn’t know we’d started yet!” She started kicking the corpse. “You just killed my sister… you… you selfish… monster!”

Gina closed her eyes tight and shook her head, wanting desperately for this nightmare to end. She was grateful when they dragged her off the platform.

Shortly after, Micolad sentenced the outsiders: Frank was to walk the river at dawn and face the Shadow Dead. Gina was to be tied to a tree and turned, becoming another zombie scarecrow.

Within the hour, Alicia’s hand and her sister’s head were placed outside the fences as tribute and proof of their devotion to the ones who now ruled the earth.

And Micolad laughed: …HA HA HA…

~~~

Next Episode 26-3

Previous Episode 26-1

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 26-2: Further Actions Pending” 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:

    I CAUGHT UP!! Wheeew. Unfortunately, I have to leave for basic training for 3-4 months in a little 😞. Thanks for the chap ol’ chap!

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      What branch? I was in the Navy for five years… it was quite the experience. Thanks Life for reading this huge story and for sharing your thoughts along the way. Also, thanks for the review on RRL. Much appreciated. I wish I had a lot more readers like yourself. It’s encouraging. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the story so far and maybe when you get back you can catch up. Should be a lot more to read by then. Good luck in basic training ;)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Life says:

        Army! You’re a petty officer? Sorry for not commenting lately. Just got out of it recently and was catching up on 1,800 some emails.

        Liked by 1 person

      • sscherr says:

        Hey, welcome back! It’s been a while. How was basic? Yeah, I was a second class Petty Officer when I got out. Five years was enough for me. If you’ve ever watched the show, The Last Ship, that was the exact type of ship I was on. Was quite the experience. Look forward to hearing from you again ;)

        Like

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