Chapter 26-3: Further Actions Pending…

Posted: May 3, 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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~~~

FIFTEEN HOURS EARLIER:

Old sacks were placed over their heads. Gina and Frank were escorted up a narrow and steep flight of stairs as they heard the hum and rattle of machinery and water being flushed through pipes.

Frank assumed that they were being held in some sort of sub-level beneath the camp where sewage and potable water pipes ran as well as what sounded like several large generators which provided power. He was curious about the sophistication of the camp above since there was so much happening down below.

Once they reached the top of the stairs he heard two large doors squeak open and felt the cool evening air strike his face. Someone helped him up and out as he stepped onto what felt like grass and heard the doors slam shut behind him. Someone was already running a chain through the doors and locking them.

“You can remove those,” the voice of their host, Micom, said to one of the soldiers.

Two soldiers removed Frank and Gina’s hoods exposing the late afternoon sky, close to sunset. A high ring of treetops danced in the breeze over a large open area below.

We’re in the center of their camp, Frank thought immediately. He looked around and found himself in a science-fiction movie. They were standing on a small lane with strange looking dome structures lined up on both sides of the lane. He turned around and met the gaze of two armed soldiers who stood back, but close. He looked past them and saw the locked storm shutter doors which led underground. Where the fuck are we?

Gina’s confusion was also apparent as she looked around at the domes. She caught Micom’s amused expression to her left and asked, “I bet you get this reaction a lot? This place is nothing I expected. Are these houses of some sort?”

“We’ll talk as we walk,” Micom said. “Sorry about the hoods and guards, but we need to be cautious here. Our new world is full of unpleasant people these days. You can never be too careful. I’m sure you can understand that… Debra.”

“Yeah… we understand,” she said. “You don’t know us yet and we could be anybody. I’m just glad you let us out of that creepy place down there. What was that, anyway?”

Gina was fishing but Micom wasn’t biting. He simply smiled at her and led them down the lane which ran south toward the center of camp. Moments later, they turned right, down an intersecting wider lane which served as a main path, connecting up with several more lanes of domes until they were surrounded by them.

As they gained a wider view of the domes they began to make out more details. Nearly every third dome had a large red ‘X’’ painted across the front door with no discernable pattern. Also there were several more soldiers posted in front of specific domes or on foot patrol, weaving in and out of the lanes as they crossed through the outer ring of the dome community and neared the inner-circle of the camp. They could already see the large barracks which Sam had described. They looked more like hangars up close.

What disturbed Gina the most was the large mesh fence which separated the domes from the oppressive forest that loomed just behind it. Also, the lack of civilians… anywhere. “Where are all the people?” she asked. “I see soldiers, but what about the rest?”

“They’re at the mess hall,” Micom said. “We break bread together three times a day, the last meal being served at sunset. That’s where we’re headed now.”

“Great, I’m starving,” Gina said and gave Frank a weary look. Something is definitely ‘off’ about all of this.

Frank silently agreed. As it started getting a little darker, Frank noticed a faint luminescent glow around the dome structures.

“They’re solar powered,” Micom said, noticing his bewilderment. “We run the generators sparingly during the day, but the domes provide us with ample light at night. It’s quite a sight to behold when you’ve never seen it before… I suppose.”

“Indeed,” Frank said. “And are all these domes occupied? Is that what the red ‘X’s’ mean?”

Again, Micom avoided the question and smiled. They stopped before the largest of the barracks.

Sam indicated that one of these hangars was their headquarters. I wonder if that’s what Megan was talking about in her notebook. Gina did not have long to wonder as Micom signaled two soldiers standing guard outside a single door into the mess hall. One of the soldiers reached for a key ring and hurriedly unlocked the door.

Why does a mess hall require armed guards? Frank wondered suspiciously. He began looking around for a place to run. There were soldiers watching them from every direction, including a short little man in a trench coat who seemed particularly interested in every move Micom made. His bodyguard, maybe, Frank mused.

Micom opened the door while the two soldiers stepped in close around Frank and Gina and forced their hands behind their backs.

“Hey! What gives?” Gina asked. “We’re not going to steal anyone’s food?”

Micom stepped into the doorway and turned. “As much as I’ve enjoyed your little charade, it’s time we cut out all this bullshit. I know you’re not who you claim to be. Your stories have a lot to be desired and no matter what you both say about finding flyers which pointed you here, it just doesn’t add up.”

Frank and Gina glanced at each other and chose to remain silent.

Micom finished. “I suggest while you both enjoy your dinner, that you talk with the members of our little community and heed well the warnings I’m sure they will share about how deception and trickery are treated here. Pay particular attention to the aroma of fear which clearly emanates from tonight’s meal and locale.”

Before Gina and Frank could protest further, Micom nodded to the soldiers and walked off to join the little man in the long coat.

The soldiers pushed them through the door and on to a metal walkway.

Gina and Frank felt their hopes diminish immediately at what they saw in the large hangar.

Directly beneath the walkway which encircled the entire hangar, was a honeycomb of cages that spanned the entire length and width of the room, forming a large detention center which housed the remaining refugees who once occupied the domes outside. The strong smell of urine, vomit and blood was almost overpowering as Gina covered her nose and mouth to keep from getting sick.

Frank noticed the poor overhead lighting, but it did not diminish the inhumane scenes below. He was horrified by the sight of the sickly looking individuals who sat in their cages, malnourished, unclean and barely resembling human beings anymore as some of them ate whatever was provided out of tin bowls, one for food and one for water, like dogs at a kennel. Many were coughing from being sick in this cold and damp dungeon while others simply moaned in pain or cried in low lit corners of their small mesh prisons, which were not even tall enough for anyone to stand.

Frank turned to the closest soldier and said, “You sick fucks should be lined up against a wall and shot for this.”

The soldier did not appreciate the suggestion. He took the butt of his rifle and slammed it into the back of Frank’s thigh, causing him to fall to his knees. The soldier leaned over and said, “Don’t worry, outsider, we have room for both of you here. Had an old man and a mother die just yesterday. I hope you enjoy the stay as much as they did.”

The other soldiers laughed as Frank tried to rise but he was hit hard in the back of the head. Frank fell limp across the walkway.

Gina scowled at the soldier and said, “You’re going to suffer in hell for this… all of this!”

“Shut that bitch up,” another soldier said.

Before she could turn, Gina was knocked near unconscious by a blow to the back of the head. She fell on top of Frank.

“Great!” another soldier said. “Now we gotta carry ‘em, assholes! Let’s get them moved, I’m starving.” The soldiers grabbed Frank and Gina by the arms and dragged them down a flight of stairs. They carried them down a row toward the center of the cages and then roughly tossed Frank and Gina into cells which were vacant and faced each other across the row.

Gina felt the cold concrete slab beneath her ribs and started to stir. She turned to see a soldier lock her cage and blow her a kiss. “You better start cooperating real fast,” the animal advised her. “The pretty ones never last long down here.” He walked away, laughing like he’d told the most amusing joke.

She tried to get up and bumped her head on the top of the cage. What the fuck? She looked out from her cage door and saw several haunted faces staring back at her.

An older woman with bones for limbs, started laughing like a maniac as she grabbed her cage door and started rattling it.

Gina tried to ignore the disturbed woman and focused on the cage across the row. She could see Frank’s big form lying still inside the dark space. “Frank?” she called across, forgetting to use their cover names. “Frank!” she called again.

But he was still out.

Gina could hear movement in the cages to her left and right as frightened people tried to move to the opposite sides of their confined spaces, fearing that being too close to Gina would cause them to share in her fate. My God, how long have they been in these… things? she wondered. And then the next thought shook her to the core: Maybe this is where we die. Maybe it all ends here for us… eating shit from dog bowls and pissing all over ourselves. She forced the dire thoughts from her mind and tried to get her bearings.

Before she could do anything else, a large voice came over a megaphone and shouted from the walkway, “Eat your dinner, maggots! We don’t want to carry your sorry asses again so you will be walking to The Gathering tonight!”

All at once, the cages became quiet. Even the deranged woman stopped rattling her cage.

“Oh, I have to get the hell out of here,” Gina promised herself.

“Hey!” someone whispered from across the row.

Gina turned to look. The voice was coming from the cage to the right of Frank’s box. It took her a moment to find the source of the voice in the faded light as a man with a beard put his face up against the mesh of the cage door and asked, “You hungry?”

Gina shook her head before realizing the man probably couldn’t see her. She stuck her face up against the mesh and answered, “No… no thank you. I’ll probably never be able to eat again.”

“You’ll get hungry,” the man assured her. “After a while… that’s all there is… the damn hunger. Even after you wanna just lie down and die, the body won’t let you because of the pangs in your belly that keep telling your brain that you need to eat… that you need to keep on livin’ like it’s some damn curse.”

Gina didn’t know how to respond. She wasn’t convinced that this man was still sane. “How long… how long have you all been here?”

The man looked like he was struggling to answer. “Don’t know anymore… Days and nights all run together. I was counting meal times for a while… and then I stopped doing that. So now, I don’t know anymore… Been a while though… that much I know.”

Gina frowned. “Is the whole camp down in these cages?”

“Yeah… well… yeah, I guess. I remember when we was still living in the domes… those were rather nice, by the way… but that was a while ago. That was back before Micolad went crazy… went crazy and almost let the demons outside have us.”

“You mean, the Shadow Dead?”

The man shushed her and looked around like he thought the roof of the hangar was about to fall on top of him. “Don’t say that in here, you foolish girl! Don’t ever say their names in here! They will find us!”

“Alright… I’m sorry,” Gina said. “What happened up there? What happened to get you kicked out of the domes?”

“The police woman caused it… yes, she did… she made ‘em mad… made ‘em really… really… mad! Micolad almost died, too. And then he got really… really… mad when he woke up. We were punished… banished from the light out there… because we failed… yes, we did…”

“Why are some of the domes painted with ‘X’s’ on them?” Gina asked.

The bearded man laughed and said, “Ain’t no paint here, girl! That was Micolad’s doing… long live Micolad! After he banished us down here… kicked us right out of the Garden of Eden… Micolad told us to bleed ourselves a little and mark our domes with an ‘X’… that way when ‘They’ came to kill us all, they’d see the blood and… pass over… just this once… and the whole camp would be spared from being slaughtered in one night. ”

“That’s fucking sick,” Gina said, shaking her head.

“But it worked, you silly girl! We were spared just like Micolad promised!”

“Spared? Are you fucking kidding me? You’re all rotting to death down here! That’s what your fucking false god did for you!” Gina finished.

The bearded man looked like he was thinking hard again.

She already knew the story of Sam’s escape but what the female cop had not been able to share was how Micom and Micolad took her escape attempt out on these poor people. If she ever made it out of here, Gina vowed to tell Sam every horrid detail for leaving these poor people behind. And then she had a chilling thought: Oh, God, please tell me they didn’t put that pregnant girl down here? She asked, “Do you know a girl named Megan? Blond hair, blue eyes… a real looker. She wasn’t here before, she came here later, like me. She was pregnant.”

The bearded man struggled again. He finally said, “Nah… nah… don’t know about that… don’t know about any new people comin’ down here. Just you and the big guy. There are other places she could be… if she was in trouble. Haven’t seen no blondie with blue eyes at them Gatherings either… nah… I would’ve remembered that… I’ve been to all of ‘em, too… seen everyone who died there… nah… no blond girl with blue eyes. Now, I’d remember that for sure.”

“Okay, thank you,” Gina said. Well at least she’s not down here.

“Gonna see your pretty self and your big friend die tonight, too… I’m supposed to see everyone die… that’s my curse,” the bearded man continued. “That’s why I’m not allowed to die yet… nah… everyone else dies… but not me… no lottery can touch old Hank.” The man let out an eerie laugh.

Gina’s heart sank. She asked, “Is that what they have in store for us? They’ll take us before the machine and… judge us?”

“Yeah… I reckon’ so. When Micolad finds you guilty he’ll send you walking down the river for sure.”

“You mean, ‘if’ we’re found guilty?”

Hank laughed and said, “Everyone’s guilty, girl… there’s no trial… no appeals… just sentencing… believe you, me, you’re gonna die if they take you there tonight… but that’s good… because you won’t have to feel those pangs in your belly anymore… they always keep me awake something awful…”

Gina leaned back against the back of her cage as Hank rambled on to himself. She started to weep softly in the shadows. What was I thinking? This was so fucking stupid! Did I really think I had a chance to save that girl? This is so much more than we ever could’ve bargained for… we’re fucked! And it’s all my fault! She looked over at Frank who still wasn’t moving and thought, Why didn’t you just fucking leave? Now I have to have your blood on my hands, too!

Gina crawled into a ball on the cold concrete and tried to stay warm. She looked over into the cage next to her and saw a teenage girl shivering in the darkness. All the girl had on was a soiled t-shirt and a pair of jogging shorts. The girl was weakly humming some tune over and over again, trying to rock herself to sleep… or death. It was hard to tell. The girl looked very ill.

Gina could imagine Micom’s men ripping these poor people from their domes in the middle of the night in whatever they were wearing, as Micolad or Micom ordered families to be separated and thrown into these cages to die alone in the darkness.

A wave of despair fell over her like a fatal blanket as Gina felt for the poor girl but could do nothing to help her. What comfort could she give her? What assurance that everything would be okay? She wasn’t even able to slip her some of her own clothes to help her stay warm because the mesh cages would not allow it. This is all too much, she thought as the tears continued to fall. God, please help us! Please… stop the madness in this world! There’s so much suffering every damn place I look! Please… just, tell me what I can do… anything to stop all of this…

She soon fell asleep as depression and exhaustion tucked her in for the night.

The only lullaby available was the funeral dirge from the lips of the dying girl in the next cage.

~~~

She’s walking through flames and smoke, calling out Megan’s name. The domes which surround her are black ash, flaking away and falling upward into the belly of a large black beast with one eye and three arms.

The beast is also searching for Megan through the smoke as flames shoot forth from its long arms, scorching the land and turning all into ash, sucking up what is left of the rotting world.

Gina is running out of time.

“Megan!” she calls out again.

This time a young woman with long, blond hair steps out of the smoke and approaches.

The beast sees her now and moves its long tentacle-like arms of fire straight towards the girl.

“Megan!” Gina calls out. She tries to get to her but her legs have turned to ash as she falls to the ground and begins to crawl toward her.

The beast’s arms are almost to her now.

“Run, Megan! It wants your child!”

Megan shakes her head and smiles at Gina as though she were a child. “Silly girl,” she calls out. “Micolad has provided a way for all to be saved.”

Gina doesn’t understand. She can no longer crawl because her arms have turned to ash.

The beast is almost there now.

“Megan? Please… get out of here!” Gina calls.

Megan smiles again and then raises her left hand, palm out. She shows Gina the bloody ‘X’ etched into her palm. “See, Gina, see? I’ll be alright… it will pass over now.”

The ‘X’ suddenly changes before Gina’s eyes until it has become the three-pronged symbol of the beast with one large eye, bleeding profusely from her hand.

Megan looks confused as she stares back at the monster.

“No!” Gina yells. “You can’t have her!”

Megan looks back, a look of terror on her face as the flames from one of its arms consume her and turn the pregnant girl to ash. She immediately withers away.

“NO!” Gina screams as her tongue turns to ash and her words fall silent.

“Gina!” someone shouts from behind her.

She tries to turn around but the effort causes her torso to flake away into nothingness.

“Gina, wake up!”

The shadow of the beast now looms over her. Gina stares up into the monster’s eye, the monster known only as ‘Mother,’ as the flames consume her.

“GINA…

~~~

…WAKE UP!” Frank yelled from his cage.

Gina opened her eyes and rose, striking the top of the cage with her head. The next thing she noticed was the silence coming from the young girl’s cage. Gina looked over and found the girl, lying still with her eyes staring off into nowhere.

Oh, no!

“Gina, over here,” Frank said.

She turned. “Frank? What the hell’s happening?”

Lights were coming on inside the hangar. She could hear cages coming open, soldiers yelling, prisoners screaming and weeping.

From the cage next to Frank, the bearded man said, “Here it comes, girl… The Gathering is upon us… they’re comin’ to make us watch and bleed and sacrifice… but for you two, it will be far worse…”

Frank slammed the side of his cage and yelled, “Shut up!”

Hank slithered back into the dark, waiting for his turn to be gathered.

“Gina, they’re coming. Are you ready for what we talked about?”

“Frank,” Gina said, the fear clearly evident in her voice. “He’s right. If they come for us, then we’ll be sentenced to death.”

“I know,” he said. “That’s why we need to be ready for the second ruse. Stay calm and don’t let your fear take over. Do you hear me?”

Gina nodded.

Just then, two soldiers approached.

“There you are,” one of them said, unlocking Gina’s cage. “Didn’t want to leave you two out of all the fun tonight.” The soldier grabbed Gina’s arm.

She looked to Frank and wanted to scream.

The other soldier went for Frank.

He grabbed the monster’s hand and slammed it hard into the top of the cage. “Gonna take more than one of you to manhandle me, bitch!”

The soldier cursed and said, “Enough of that shit! Or we’ll take it out on her! Get out of the cage, asshole!”

Frank let out a deep breath and complied.

The soldiers sat them both down in front of the cages and zip-tied their hands behind their backs.

Frank focused on Gina: Keep it together now, it’s about to get extremely difficult from here on in.

She stated right back: I’ll try, Frank… I’ll try.

Another soldier came up and said, “He wants them both blindfolded and put on the platform for Sentencing.”

The others nodded and pulled out the blindfolds.

Hank leaned up against his cage door and said, “Micolad’s gonna banish you both… cast you out into the darkness!”

“Shut up!” one of the soldiers threatened.

Hank stopped talking.

Gina and Frank continued to stay focused on each other until the blindfolds were placed over their eyes.

The soldiers lifted them up and escorted them out into the darkness.

~~~

Next Episode 26-4

Previous Episode 26-2

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 26-3: 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. Glad to see new chapters are still being posted. I know that supposedly, the zombie genre is dead, but I still enjoy reading and writing zombie apocalypse fiction.

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      Hey Allen, it’s been a while. It’s great to find out that there are still zombie readers and writers out there who enjoy the genre. I sometimes wish I could remove the ‘zombie’ label from my story because it’s so much more than that and I feel many readers see the word ‘zombie’ and shake their heads and move on without reading The Dark. I set out to write a character driven survival story first and foremost, and the dead are just one part of a much bigger tale. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with all your writing endeavors ;)

      Liked by 1 person

      • My story is more character driven as well. The KCAP virus and the dead are also just backdrop for my story. I set out to write a story from a completely alien point of view (i.e. – female, sexuality fluid, half Arab-half-Jewish, etc.).

        Like

      • sscherr says:

        That sounds awesome. When I have a moment to do some reading I will check it out ;)

        Like

  2. Zaca says:

    I bet Frank will die. Gina will survive, and I will still hate her.

    Like

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