After The Dark (#2) – WTF Just Happened?

Posted: June 29, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, Interviews/Reviews, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, talk show, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombie Talk Show, Zombies
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After the Dark1 (2)


“Hello everyone, and welcome to the second episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the weekly DFTD after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each week we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.


At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read the first thirty chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.

This week’s show is dedicated to all those moments that hit us upside our heads when we think this dark tale is going one way, and then… POW!… What the fuck just happened?! And who better to share our mind-boggling moments with, then someone who understands how it feels better than most. Ladies and gentlemen, would you please give up a warm welcome for our special guest today, Janet Schuler!

(There is applause as Janet enters with a great big smile, blows a kiss at the audience, and then sits down beside our host.)

“Welcome to the second episode of After The Dark, Janet,” John begins.

“Thanks for having me. I never thought I’d get to come back since my time in the series was very brief.”

“Brief perhaps, but your appearance and shocking death in Chapter 7 made my heart drop. I never saw that coming, as I’m sure many in the audience feels the same. That moment in the barn easily goes down as one of the most disturbing ‘What the Fuck’ moments in the series.” John turns to the audience. “Would you agree, people?”

(The audience claps in agreement.)

Janet laughs. “It certainly caught me off guard, as well. I thought for sure I’d be giving Gina a run for her money as leader of this apocalyptic world.”

(The audience laughs.)

“I think many of us pegged you as one of the main characters from the beginning of the series, especially since serial killer, Russell Bower, went though a whole lot of trouble to save your ass from the dead. Can you explain to us how that decision to kill you off so early came to be?”

“Well… I can tell you this much for sure. When the time came for the author to write the final scene in the barn, he wrestled with it for about two weeks.”

“Really? That’s interesting. So you’re saying that your death wasn’t official, even at that point.”

“Exactly,” Janet continues. “I sat around in limbo while the author took many long walks, trying to decide whether or not I should live or die. It was very clear that there was great story potential in keeping me around. Can you imagine? Serial killer and victim team up to survive the apocalypse. Now that would have been something. Perhaps we would’ve ended up falling in love…” Janet bats her eyes sheepishly at John.

(The audience laughs.)

John laughs. “Well… I don’t know about the love connection… not if Mr. Savage taking up residence in Bower had anything to say about it.”

(The audience laughs.)

“But you’re right. Keeping you alive and on the run with Russell would have been a compelling story. So what the hell was that damn author thinking?”

Janet laughs. “I believe the author had two reasons to sacrifice me early. One, he believed that the storyline of Russell and I on the run together was just a bit too predictable… especially in the long term. And second, he really felt that he would be undermining Russell’s sinister character by allowing him to keep me alive. So in the end, the author opted to make it look like I was going to be around just long enough for Russell to slit my throat for the shocking conclusion of Part One. After he wrote it, the author knew he’d made the right decision, and my death pretty much set the tone for a lot of bad shit that came later.”

“You got that right,” John agrees. “There were many more ‘What The Fuck’ moments to follow, but your death was certainly the catalyst for a much darker story… especially with everything that came later. I’ve had a number of people tell me that it was your shocking death that sold them on the story, and if you had been allowed to live that something would’ve been lost.”

Janet nods. “As much as I hate to say it… you know… since it was my death and all… but I would have to agree. I think that moment in the barn will go down as one of those moments which linger in your thoughts throughout the series. It certainly was one hell of a wake up call in the series.”

“And so Janet Schuler dies… only to come back in the Third Book to reprise her role… or a dead version of it. Now how the hell does that happen? That must have been strange to come back after so much time just to play ‘Zombie Janet’.”

Janet laughs. “Yes… it certainly was strange. So much story had already passed and here I was, returning to that place where Russell left me for dead, hanging from that rope. I believe by the time the recruits found me, several hours had gone by, enough time for me to turn and… come back.”

“So let’s be clear on what happened.” John leans forward in his chair. “Russell slit your throat, hung you on that rope to distract the dead so he could flee, and then you died, which resulted in your coming back as one of the reanimated?”

“Not quite. It was The Change that initially brought the dead to life, or the reanimated ones with the dark sunken eyes. Anyone who died afterwards, who wasn’t infected, just died. What happened to me, and I believe it was mentioned in Chapter 23, was that while we were fleeing the reanimated in the woods, I was scratched in the leg.”

John’s eyes go wide. “That’s right! I remember that now. So if I’m understanding you correctly… if Russell hadn’t killed you first, the infection would’ve killed you anyway?”

“That’s right.” Janet nods. “By the time Russell was gone, the infection took over after I bled out and I came back… I reanimated right there on that rope.”

“Creepy,” John says. “So what happened after?”

“When the horde standing below my body realized I wasn’t prime steak any longer, they all left. I ended up struggling on that rope until it snapped. When I hit the ground, I believe I broke a leg or twisted an ankle in the fall… something like that.”

“And that’s when you stumbled across the mystery man in Russell’s van, the man we were supposed to believe was Russell… right?”

“That’s right. The author set that up on purpose to misdirect the reader into believing Janet got her revenge on that asshole by tearing him in half before he could get away. After she killed the man in the van, she dragged half the body back to her garden to feed. The recruits showed up shortly after that.”

John shook his head and smiled. “Man, that scene with you at the garden, behind the ruins of your home, and then you turn around and the recruits get that first real look at you… I was getting chills from that scene. I was so excited when I realized you were that zombie… and then I started feeling bad for you later.”

Janet nods. “Yes… you’re talking about when that evil bitch, Violet, started to humiliate and mutilate what was left of me. That was a tough part to play… but I loved it. There was so much said in those ‘torture’ sequences, but what I enjoyed most was that you had a hard time distinguishing who the real monsters were. Poor Megan acted as humanity’s representative while the rest of them wanted to see how far they could go since there were no clear lines left to cross. The recruits could do whatever they wanted to me because I was no longer a person in their eyes. I thought it was very telling how much cruelty some of them were ready to inflict since there were no consequences, and essentially, no crimes they could commit on a dead person. In a lot of ways, I wasn’t ‘Zombie Janet’ any longer… I was their mirror.”

“Ohh… that’s good!” John says. “That is a hell of a way to put it. For myself, even knowing that you were gone and that whatever was locked up in that barn was just a mindless beast, I still had difficulty accepting all the nasty things they did to you.”

Janet smiled. “Yeah… you felt the same way Megan did, and I imagine many readers were just as repulsed by Violet’s sadist tendencies. I think her and my ex husband would have hit it off wonderfully.”

(The audience laughs.)

John smiles playfully and asks, “Speaking of your ex… what the hell were you thinking when you married that guy? And after what he did to Gina at Malcolm Hathaway’s… whatever the fuck that was… party, I’m surprised he hadn’t murdered you off years ago.”

Janet lowers her head and laughs. “Yeah… he was real loser.”

“No,” John says. “‘Loser’ doesn’t even begin to adequately describe that monster. Gerald Schuler officially gets my vote for ‘Biggest Douchebag’ of the entire series so far. I think he makes Charlie look like a fucking saint.” John turns to the crowd. “What says you audience? Did we enjoy finding out that Gerald got his brains blown out in the end?”

(The audience roars their approval.)

John laughs. “And there you have it… that douchebag got the death he deserved.”

Janet lifts her eyebrows. “I don’t agree. I think after The Change turned him, Malcolm should have tied Gerald up and then gave him to Violet to play with… along with a free set of hunting knives.”

(The audience laughs and claps their hands.)

“Since you brought Mr. Douchbag up,” Janet starts. “Here’s a little fun fact for you: In the beginning, the author briefly entertained a wild story idea of having Gerald as my prisoner, gagged and tied up in the basement the night Russell came to kill me. The premise was that I set Gerald up under the guise of his whore secretary meeting him somewhere, and then I managed to knock him out and get him back to the house with the intent to slowly demean him like Gerald had done to me all those years. So while the dead interrupted Russell’s kill, Russell in turn interrupted my own kill. The author ended up scrapping the idea, believing it to be plot overkill… but I love the damn idea now!”

(The crowd roars their approval.)

“That would have definitely made for an even crazier evening,” John adds. “So, we’re running out of time, Janet. I would like to ask one question that’s come up a few times: Who the hell was the half-man in the van since it wasn’t Russell Bower?”

Janet smiles. “In the original draft of Chapter 7, when Russell finds the cemetery caretaker’s cabin, the caretaker himself had survived the initial slaughter of his family, but he was infected, presumably by one of the yellow-eyed haters, because he was half-crazy with silver eyes and a shotgun. The caretaker and Russell got into a conflict because Russell believed that he was holding me hostage. Anyway, near the end of the scene, Russell disarms the caretaker just as the horde was arriving. He then stabs the caretaker in both legs and leaves him behind for the dead after realizing I wasn’t there. Russell finds me a short while later and we’re led to believe the caretaker perished. The original thought was that the caretaker managed to get away, find Russell’s van, and that’s when I got a hold of him. The author eventually decided to rewrite the scene, believing that it was far too distracting from the central story and not relevant enough to include. In the end, the author decided to leave the identity of the half-man in the van a mystery, leaving the reader to wonder who it might have been. Sometimes situations occur that we may never know the answer to, and the author believed this worked as one of those times. But now you know! See… I’m just full of all the fun facts this evening!”

(The audience laughs.)

“Well, Janet, you’ve been a gem of a guest this evening and we thank you for joining us and giving us some valuable insights.” John turns to the audience. “Let’s give Janet Schuler a great big hand for helping us kick off episode two!”

(The audience gets on their feet, whistles and applauds.)

“Now, for our readers at home, if you’d like to share your WTF moments from the series so far, of if you would like to ask Janet a question, or any question in general about the series, please do so. If not, we will see you all next week for another exciting and informative episode of After The Dark!

And if you missed the premiere episode with special guest, Frank Carman, you can check it out here:
After The Dark #1 (Premiere)

See you next week!”


Next Episode:
After The Dark (#3) – Villains


Please show your support for Don’t Feed The Dark by voting for it at topwebfiction. Just click and vote. Nothing else required. You can vote every seven days to help me keep this series listed.

Thank you,


  1. I like these retreads. It also refreshes reader’s memories, especially in a long-running series spanning several books and years. Sometimes a nice section of cliff notes is nice to have.


    • sscherr says:

      Sorry Allen, didn’t mean to leave you hanging. It’s been a busy week. Yes, I completely agree, my show works as a nice refresher with a bit of behind-the-scenes built in. I’ve been enjoying it so far and I’m discovering that there is a whole lot of subjects my ‘guests’ can cover between now and when the new arc comes out in August. Should be fun.

      Liked by 2 people

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