Chapter 28-2: The Den

Posted: May 22, 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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~~~

She is walking up Route 90, through the devastation of so many lost lives, past the multiple-lane graveyard of abandoned vehicles turned tombs after the initial panic had led them all here to die. Many had stayed, believing that they were safer in numbers, believing that this everlasting traffic jam would clear and that they could all get away from the Madness. Most of them had died very quickly when the freeway became one long buffet table. They were the lucky ones. For the rest who fled on foot, they were hunted down and ripped apart. The damned were forced to forsake their slower family members… just for a shame-filled chance to relive this repetitious horror known as ‘survival’ again and again, in strange dark places where daylight offered no reprieve from the nightmares which pursued them relentlessly. They were slowly slaughtered, one at a time, by an enemy they could not believe existed.

She can sense them approaching. They are the clever ones which hunt collectively, moving like a stampede through every habitable town along the way—next exit: Bloodville, USA. They seek out the living who hide in once congested areas. And after, they always return to the freeway when the hunger cannot be satisfied. They feed off human roadkill and push the reanimated ones away as they mark each and every mile of blood-stained concrete as their own, waiting for fresh signs of the living… or the next available exit ramp.

Meredith is there as they approach. Meredith is not there as they approach. She must remember to pull back in time, or the savage yellow-eyed ones will use their connection to overpower and devour her mind.

She calls out to them.

They turn their heads up toward the wind as human remains drip down from their blood-soaked faces. They cannot understand the voice that interrupts their meals… but they can sense her vitality. She is fresh meat, calling out from somewhere close… although she is still miles away.

They turn toward her direction.

She must remember that they cannot see her, that they cannot really hear her, but if they get too close…

Meredith closes her eyes and backs away from the mental door inside her mind.

The dead are running after her, toward the voice—which is no voice at all—just a presence personified on a plain of existence they do not understand.

Meredith remains near the door, but not too close, keeping it open as long as possible to provide the dead with a beacon to follow.

Time is skewed in this place, which is no place and every place all at once.

They have entered the preserve…

They have scaled the ravine and ripped apart the despicable ones strapped to the trees…

They have found the river…

They are approaching the waterfall…

“Meredith!” a voice calls out from elsewhere.

She is unable to turn away from the door.

“Meredith, wake up!”

The voice grows faint within her ears. There is only the door. There is only the dead approaching the door.

Stephen cannot reach her now.

They are so close… so very, very close.

A pair of hands grab her by the shoulders and spin her away from the door.

Meredith is suddenly looking into the eyes of a dead woman with long brown hair.

Amanda?

No… it is not her… but the resemblance is startling. It is a younger woman… but she is also dead.

The young woman looks very afraid as she stares over Meredith’s shoulder. Her words are urgent. “Meredith! You must wake up now! Close the damn door and wake up!”

“Who… who are you? How are you able to be here?” Meredith asks.

“He’s been trying to wake you up. Close the door, Meredith… hurry!”

“My goodness, child,” Meredith says. “You should not still be here. Why do you remain-”

“CLOSE THE FUCKING DOOR, BITCH!” the young woman shouts as her face turns pale and bloody. She is missing an eye. She is terrifying.

It is enough to break through to her. Meredith turns away from the horrifying woman in time to see the yellow-eyed demons storming toward the door.

“No!” Meredith grabs the door and slams it shut.

“Meredith! Wake up! Do you hear me?”

She recognizes the voice. It is Stephen.

“Wake up… wake up… WAKE…

~~~

…UP!” Stephen was screaming in the older woman’s face as he sat on top of her and tried to hold her down. Meredith had become incoherent and had been convulsing for the last five minutes.

From just outside the cavern, horrific screams and moans could be heard through the tunnel entrance.

Meredith opened her eyes and gasped for air as if she’d just surfaced from being under water for too long.

Stephen fell off the woman as she bolted up and stared at her sweaty-mess of a friend. “Ste…Stephen?”

Stephen was breathing hard. “Thank God,” he whispered and then looked toward the big man who stood just ahead of him behind a large rock with his rifle raised toward the tunnel entrance. They had all quickly retreated to the back of the cavern when all hell broke loose. “She’s back!” he said to Tony.

Tony simply nodded and wiped sweat from his brow. He had the look of a man who expected the devil to appear at any moment. “Ask her if they’re close!” he finally barked.

The others turned toward Stephen and Meredith. They all looked equally terrified as they had guns raised toward the cavern entrance.

Meredith desperately tried to get clear of the fog she found herself in. The horrifying sounds of a thousand nightmares merged did not help her situation. “What on earth-”

“The Shadow Dead are back,” Stephen quickly said. “They know we’re in here. Please tell me our reinforcements have arrived.”

Meredith understood as it all came back to her. She grabbed Stephen’s arm and said frantically, “They’re here! She saved me… I almost didn’t make it back! But they are here… minutes away, perhaps seconds!”

Stephen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was difficult to get excited about more monsters arriving.

“Okay,” Tony said. “Get ready, everyone. Now we find out how well the dead get along. Shoot the first fucking shadow that appears through that hole!”

The screams and moans of the Shadow Dead suddenly ceased as a new sound—a more primal, savage sound—began to fill the momentary silence behind the cascading water like the volume of a stereo slowly being turned up. To all of them, it sounded like a muffled angry mob storming through the forest as shrill shrieks and numerous snapping branches could be heard outside. The waterfall did little to lessen the intensity of the horde which plowed through the western woods. They sounded insane with rage and hunger.

“Fuck me,” Diane hissed. “How many of those things did you bring back here, Meredith?”

Meredith looked pale. “I’ve been tracking this particular group for a long time. They were the ones I sensed when we were originally headed toward Ashtabula. There’s no way I could’ve known how large a herd they’d become… until I got too close… I’m so very sorry.”

“You did fine, Meredith,” Tony whispered. “Everyone get ready for anything… here they come.” He suddenly wished he had read Gina’s letter. This was such a foolish thing. What the hell have I done?

The mob of hate-filled monsters sounded so close that several of the hunters looked behind them, believing that the beasts were climbing down the walls toward them.

Meredith tried to get up but Stephen reached for her hand and squeezed gently. He tried his best to smile reassuringly while his eyes were loaded with fear. “You’ve done enough. Rest,” he whispered.

She chose to focus on Stephen, rather than listen any further to the madness outside. “I’m glad you’re here, Stephen,” she whispered. “More than you’ll ever know. I just wanted to make sure I said that.”

He wiped a tear from his eye as his emotions were on overload. All he could do was nod.

They could now hear several large splashes coming from pool. It sounded like a hundred boulders had rolled right off the top of the waterfall followed by erratic splashing.

“They’re in the river,” Tony whispered. “Hard to say which way they’re going.”

The youngest hunter, Chris, started to weep softly.

“Doesn’t matter what they do,” Matthew said. “I’ve lost count of the splashes… but I know we don’t have enough ammo already. If they come in here…”

“Shush!” Diane hissed. “I should shoot you for that comment! Chris, it will be okay.”

“Keep it together,” Tony said. “We do what we can… and that’s the end of it.”

The sound of the zombie mob started to get fainter. They were moving away from the pool.

“It’s working,” Stephen said. “They’re chasing the Shadow Dead!”

There was an immediate chorus of heavy sighs of relief.

The sound of the rifle discharging made them all jump.

Chris was swearing at himself as he lowered his head. “I… my finger slipped… I’m sorry.”

“You’ve just killed us, you fucking idiot!” Matthew hissed.

“Be quiet!” Tony barked. “They might not have heard it!”

They all listened to the silence masked by the steady flow of the waterfall for what felt like an eternity. No one even dared to breathe for fear that it would be the final sound which drew the monsters back.

And then they heard them returning as a mob of fierce determined cries followed after the sound of many feet splashing down into the pool.

Tony stared into their defeated looking faces. I refuse to let it end like this! He gave them a fierce look of fire and yelled, “All of you wipe those frightened expressions off your damn faces! We will not die like cowards in this fucking cave! Do you hear me? We are not their fucking food or some little children hiding beneath the covers and waiting for the boogeymen to go away! This is our house… our world… and they have no business being here! There just zombies, for fuck’s sake! That means they’re already fucking dead and just need to be reminded! Can I get a ‘hell yeah’ from the living!”

The hunters fed on Tony’s fire which ignited their own. They all answered, “Hell yeah!”

“Get ready!” he finished, raising his rifle toward the cavern entrance.

Stephen looked to Meredith. “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not feeling as optimistic,” he whispered. “They didn’t see what we faced in Jefferson… and this is going to be much, much worse.”

Meredith looked into her friend’s tired eyes and thought, You know what needs done, old girl… the only thing left to do.

She leaned over and said to Stephen, “Help me to the back of the cavern. I’ll need to be someplace as far from the others as possible.”

“What are you thinking about, Meredith?” But Stephen already knew. “You can’t! Whatever you did before nearly killed you!”

“Let’s go,” she said firmly. “It’s the only way… and you and I know it.”

Stephen nodded sadly and helped Meredith to the rear of the cavern.

She spotted a narrow gap between two large rocks. “There,” she said. “I’ll need to be confined in case I… get hostile.”

Stephen did not like the sound of that. “What can I do?”

She quickly squeezed into the tight space and pointed to Stephen’s handgun. “You’re going to need to keep your gun pointed at my head. If I can’t control what happens next… I will try to kill every one of you. The blood-lust might consume me, too.”

Stephen looked into her grave face and said, “I won’t pretend to understand all of this. Just please don’t make me have to shoot you… alright?”

She smiled. “I will certainly try not to give you a reason to.” The older woman turned around toward the stone wall and sat down. She then braced herself by grabbing the rocks on both sides, took a deep breath, and then closed her eyes.

From the front of the cave, the hunters began firing as the yellow-eyed dead began storming through the waterfall as they rushed down the tunnel toward their prey.

Every time one went down, two more immediately followed as the crazed flesh-eating maniacs only faltered as they had to climb over their fallen brethren.

The hunters could not keep up with their sheer force of numbers as the dead began to overwhelm the tunnel.

Stephen wanted to rush back and help, but he couldn’t risk leaving Meredith unprotected (or leaving themselves vulnerable if she tried to attack them from behind).

“Come on, Meredith,” he whispered. “There’s no time!”

Meredith did not respond. She was…

~~~

…back on the freeway, back to the place where so many people were slain, back to where the blood spilled on the pavement still cried out like lingering echoes of terror which never departed the scene. She was searching for the haunted ones… those who’d been ripped from this life so suddenly and so violently, that most of them were unaware that they were dead as they roamed among broken vehicles, body parts, and the stains of shattered lives.

Before the world went insane, Meredith once brought closure to family members who had lost loved ones in horrible ways. She would find those wandering souls, speak to them without words, and act as a bridge between the lost and those who were suffering in the waking world.

There were so many haunted ones now… so many violent deaths. She could only see them when she chose to do so. They were not as dangerous or intrusive over here as the animals now trapped in between both planes of existence. Those unable to move on were mostly desperate for the light of life they once had. Meredith’s light marked her immediately as an ambassador sent from the living.

Meredith appeared before them and the haunted swarmed around her. They all wanted the same thing, they wanted to use her to send and receive messages to and from the other side.

Unfortunately, she could not help them. Most of their loved ones were already here now… if not farther ahead.

She shut out their needy inquiries from within the room of her mind and entered their dark abodes instead. This time, she needed to use them. Meredith hated to do this, but she needed access to their last dislodged memories—the memories of how each one died. It was a despicable thing, something she never would’ve done before… but things were different now. It was the living who had become the desperate ones, so Meredith forced those repressed memories forward, watched their faces change as each tormented soul was forced to relive their own death, and she fed on those memories like a psychic vampire until the lost could do nothing but face the horrible truth of their temporal existence as they slipped into the darkness beyond the void.

For Meredith, it felt as though she were the monsters, slaughtering them all over again, as the memories of blood and death flooded her mind until she could barely distinguish the difference between herself and the beasts.

She could feel the yellow-eyed ones lust for blood as they tore into screaming flesh…

She could feel the terror of the slain wash over her splattered face…

…She was becoming the monsters.

Before she lost herself in the madness of so much violence and death, Meredith ripped herself away from the haunted ones and returned to the yellow-eyed demons which assaulted the cavern entrance. She swung open the door of her mind to greet the madness with madness as she let the dead in and fed them all those horrific memories until the dead were temporarily… full.

When they could consume no more of those memories, the dead fled her mind abruptly and Meredith—more monster than human now—wanted to run after them, consumed by the flood of the blood lust.

But the young woman grabbed her from behind and wrapped her arms around her waist. Meredith could taste her last memory, too… as the details of her tragic death before the dorm caught on fire entered her mind.

“You can’t follow them, Meredith! You’re not one of them!” she yelled as she pulled the crazed medium away from the door.

Meredith could not turn away from the door as she fought to get free… as she fought to run off with the others to feed… and feed… AND FEED…

~~~

…Stephen fired three rounds into the head of a crazy woman with yellow insanity in her eyes. She was inches from reaching Diane. The creature fell backwards into a pile of bones, knocking over three more beasts which tried to follow.

Diane quickly finished reloading, shot Stephen a grateful look for saving her ass, and then made quick work of the three remaining zombies as she carefully placed a round into each of their heads.

Tony was swinging his crowbar like a crazed maniac as he smashed in the skulls of the dead which tried to breach their defensive line. The hunters desperately continued to keep firing while covering each other for reloads. Their ammo was quickly diminishing.

And the dead kept coming.

Stephen scanned the cavern for monsters which had slipped through. He nearly dropped his gun when Meredith woke up screaming behind him.
He quickly turned around, gun raised, as he almost fired at his friend. “Shit!”

She was reaching out for him like one of the dead. Her eyes, although not the hate-filled yellow, were savage eyes none-the-less. Something was holding her down as she clawed at the air, trying to tear into Stephen’s throat.

“Meredith?” Stephen whispered.

She suddenly dropped her arms, closed her eyes, and fell limp to the cavern floor. As she did so, the yellow-eyed monsters fell like puppets with their strings cut.

Everyone stopped firing and stared at the motionless dead which covered the cavern floor in front of the tunnel. Even the ones in the tunnel ceased their moaning and simply fell limp on top of each other.

“What the hell?” Diane asked, refusing to lower her rifle for a moment as she scanned the bodies on the floor. “Are they… sleeping?”

“They’ve gone dormant,” Stephen said, as he pulled Meredith out of the small space. “Meredith… shut them down.”

“Shut them down?” Tony asked. “They just fell over like their batteries ran out.”

“Somebody help me please,” Stephen said. “She’s done this before. It takes everything out of her.”

Diane and Tony ran over and helped Stephen move Meredith to an open area so he could examine her for wounds. “She’s still breathing at least,” he said. “But it’s like she’s in some kind of coma state. She could be like this for a while… or permanently.”

Tony rubbed his head. “Shit. Whatever she did just saved all of our lives.”

Stephen turned and quickly said, “They’re not dead… just in some sort of dormant state. You’ll need to stab them all in the brain to make sure they don’t come back.”

“I’m on it,” Diane said, retrieving her hunting knife. She took the other hunters with her as they carefully finished off the dead with whatever sharp weapons they had. They took care of the ones in the tunnel and carefully pushed them back out through the waterfall as they rolled down into the pool.

Diane took a quick look beyond the cascading water and gasped at the sight. The pool was filled with the bodies of the dead, too many to count. She rushed back inside and said, “There’s no way we can kill them all… even like this. The pool is loaded with them.”

Tony nodded and turned to Stephen. “How long will they stay like this?”

Stephen frowned and said, “I don’t know. We never had a chance to find that out.”

“Okay,” he said as he paced the cavern. “Gina’s only got until sunrise before she’s… executed. We have to take this opportunity to move before these things wake up. This is our best chance to reach the camp. Hopefully these bastards cleared the way for us and either killed the Shadow Dead or scared them off-”

“She can’t go anywhere,” Stephen said, staring down at Meredith. “Even if we tried to carry her, it will only make things worse when we reach the camp.”

“Fuck!” Tony paced some more and then nodded. “Okay. Diane, I want you to stay here with Stephen and make sure both of them make it back out the way we came in. The dead should’ve cleared out of the area by now.”

“But you’re going to need me!” she protested. “I’m the best damn shooter you have!”

“And that’s why I need you here… to protect them. What’s the point of trying to save Gina and Frank if we’re just going to leave others behind to die? I need you on this.”

She reluctantly nodded. “You all better watch your asses.” She kicked one of the monsters near her feet. “With these bastards… we know what to expect. But the Shadow Dead… hell… we haven’t even seen those fuckers yet! They could still be out there.”

“Noted,” he said with a nervous laugh. “That’s why I’m taking the other four with me. Get them out, Diane.”

She nodded.

Tony knelt beside Stephen and said, “Are you alright with this?”

“Yes,” Stephen said. “Go get Gina and Frank. We’ll be okay.”

Tony nodded and placed a hand on Stephen’s shoulder. He looked down at the comatose woman and said, “Thank you, thank you both… and good luck.”

“You too,” Stephen said. “I really hope you can get to them in time.”

Tony gave him a reassuring look and said firmly, “We will.”

~~~

Next Episode 28-3

Previous Episode 28-1

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 28-2: The Den” 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:

    I thought she led them other survivors. Nevertheless, I think what she’s done is still ruthless.

    Like

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