The Living and the Dead (A Look Back at Where We’ve Been)

Posted: August 30, 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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the living

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***SPOILER ALERT*** If you haven’t read the first thirty chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark then I strongly encourage you to skip this article. Major events in the storyline will be discussed that will be revealed out of sequence.

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So here’s your refresher course, and my attempt to summarize some of the main points in the first three books. I know it’s been a while. I hope this helps trigger some memories from previous reading:

Book One:  Southbound Nightmares Our story began early Saturday Morning, October 2nd, 2012, with a catastrophic event known as The Change, sometimes referred to as The Madness. This unknown outbreak struck the population, randomly turning people into flesh-craving monsters with fierce yellow eyes. As adequately described in Chapter 8, “It was estimated that one out of every five people simply lost their minds and turned on the living.” Along with this, were other abominations which returned to hunt the flesh of Mankind.

Book One detailed the horrific story of several characters in different locations throughout Northeast Ohio, as they attempted to survive that first long night. We were thrown into several different stories happening at that same time, as The Change was occurring, involving a serial killer, a stripper, a history teacher, an asshole, an alcoholic, and a convict.

Eventually all their stories merged at one of the last known places of refuge, the Percy Power Plant. From there we were introduced to the remainder of our group: a medium, a baseball player, a handy-man and his daughter, and an apocalyptic philosopher who we later find out is none other than our serial killer pretending to blend in with our survivors.

After an all-out attack on the power plant, these original ten survivors barely escaped the massacre and decided to head for the coast to find a boat, via, a southbound route along an abandoned railway into nowhere. They were met with opposition from their new hostile world, as well as from each other, and they eventually made it to the marina in Fairport Harbor. From there, everything quickly fell apart as our survivors were overwhelmed by a horde of the reanimated dead, while discovering a strange three-pronged symbol, representing a mysterious group believed to be responsible for the attack.

The boat plan failed miserably and our survivors were split up. Aside from their leader, Douglas, who is torn to pieces at the marina, they also lose Greg’s daughter, Ashley, who was bitten trying to get away.

The surviving eight eventually reunited, under Gina’s leadership, and decided to head east/northeast along the Grand River towards a mysterious radio broadcast promising sanctuary, while ultimately aiming for the mountains in Pennsylvania.

Book Two: Almost Dead  In the first book, Gina and her group were hiding out in a boathouse prior to being attacked at the marina, and they heard a CB radio broadcast. Book Two started on the other end of that broadcast where we discovered Tony had not perished in a bonfire but was taken prisoner by a deranged, infected half-dead individual known only as the ‘Bad Man’. He eventually escaped and was determined to make it back to Gina. Along the way he met a survivor at a truck stop and tried to help her. He ended up fleeing for his life and getting lost in a strange wilderness preserve where we are first introduced to the mysterious and deadly Shadow Dead. Afterwards, he is captured by a former police officer, Samantha Petroskovich, the same cop Frank Carman threw off a rooftop in book one, and he is introduced to a futuristic looking camp run by a madman named Micom, and an insane machine called Micolad, which is considered the ‘god’ of the camp.

Meanwhile, Gina’s survivors fight their way through a horde of the dark-eyed reanimated in the city of Painesville; a cult of half-dead grey-eyed monsters in the quaint village of Harpersfied; and then deal with one of their own near the town of Austinburg as Charlie, who possesses a power to control the dead, has taken Amanda hostage, revealing to the others how very dangerous he truly is. They ended up leaving Charlie behind and headed southeast toward the town of Jefferson where they met a small community, run by a man named Rusty. During their stay with Rusty’s people, Gina considered joining them shortly before finding out that a large group of the yellow-eyed demons had been tracking them since the power plant. While they fended off the attack, Amanda perished saving Stephen’s life for the sake of her dead daughter, Marie (Nicole). After the battle, and suffering loses, Rusty kicked Gina’s group out when his group discovered what Meredith did to save them and believed she was a witch. Gina’s group licked their wounds and headed farther south to the town of Andover where Greg is shot down dead by a rooftop sniper from another group of survivors. Gina vowed vengeance as she prepared to go after this unknown group, planning to kill them all.

Book Three: Recruits At the start of this story arc, we go back to the afternoon, prior to the outbreak, where we met a survivalist group in training who appear to have foreknowledge of the pending epidemic. They are also affiliated with the strange three-pronged symbol, which we then learn means, Mother. After the outbreak, they are led by a mysterious man named, Donovan, to a pre-designated ‘safe house’ where they are told to wait for further instructions. After a few startling revelations, we followed this group’s journey to the point where we found out that they are the snipers on the rooftop who murdered Greg.

Gina led an attack on this group, killing most of them and taking Megan, a pregnant girl, hostage. They eventually let Megan go and then have to deal with another larger group moving into town. They are intercepted by the larger group, who is run by the former police officer, Samantha, and that’s when Tony and Gina are reunited. Frank is placed in jail for the attempted murder of the police officer. Gina eventually decides to go rescue the pregnant girl, Megan, after finding out that she is going to the place in the wilderness preserve run by the psychotic machine, Micolad. She is accompanied by Frank and they both allowed themselves to be captured in the hope of infiltrating the wilderness preserve facility and end up being tortured instead.

After Tony makes a stand to defend the town of Andover from a presumed Shadow Dead attack, they end up going after Gina. Charlie has returned with an army of the reanimated. All hell broke loose at the wilderness preserve, ending with an explosion, as Micolad self-detonated, destroying much of the forest. The survivors reunited in an underground facility, behind a waterfall, and decided to make it their new home for the winter. Our serial killer is finally revealed when he murders Frank…

…and now, a deeper look at some original characters from our story, as well as some new ones coming up…

Gina Melborn: Of the original ten who escape the massacre at the Percy Power Plant, Gina is the first of the group we read about way back in Chapter 2 (this is before we learned who Marcus Dempsey truly was). Gina was a stripper and an opportunist with big dreams and schemes to save up enough money to escape the business that’s tainted her perspective on the world around her. She fell in love with Tony Marcuchi, the bouncer of the strip club they both worked at. Before the world came to an end, Gina, who had no remaining family left who cared if she was alive or dead, was planning on asking Tony to essentially disappear with her into the sunset and leave that gutter life behind. On the last night before the dead took over, Gina foolishly accepted an invitation to perform at a private party by a drug runner named Malcolm Hathaway. As a result, she is drugged, brutally raped, and then left for dead. Gina’s battle for survival begins immediately upon waking, as she discovers herself handcuffed naked to a bed, as one of her rapists, who has ‘turned’ as a result of mysterious outbreak known as The Change, tries to kill her. After barely surviving her first zombie attack with the help of Malcolm, she is bombarded with horrific news events of the outbreak while being led to believe that her beloved Tony was burned in a bonfire. After arriving at the Percy Power Plant, and meeting her new dysfunctional family of survivors, Gina travels south toward Fairport Harbor Marina, where it is her groups’ belief that they can acquire a boat and escape the chaos by waiting out the storm on an island. Things go terribly wrong and after the death of their leader, Doug McFarlane, Gina is thrusted into a leadership position she did not want, but tries her best to keep the others alive as they seek out refuge by traveling toward the mountains in Pennsylvania. After several horrific encounters and heartbreaking disappointments along the way, even after being reunited with Tony in the town of Andover, Gina finds herself spiraling downward into a very dark place.

Stephen Eddington: Once a respected history teacher at a private boarding school, we meet Stephen in Chapter 3 at the end of his professional career when he succumbs to temptation and sleeps with Nicole Howard, one of his underage students. Coming to terms with his hollow existence and a loveless marriage with his wife, Stephen realizes much too late that his life was nothing but a well-dressed illusion, created to keep up with the higher dredges of society. Stephen is on the verge of turning himself in when the dead attack the school, inadvertently granting him a way out of his mess. Unfortunately, Stephen makes one more mistake and accidently stabs Nicole in the eye while trying to find her in the chaos of her dorm. Nicole is dead and Stephen becomes a murderer at the dawn of the apocalypse. As fate would have it, Nicole’s alcoholic mother, Amanda Howard, arrives at the school just in time to rescue Stephen. As time moves on, Stephen, needing a way to escape the monster of guilt which pursues him, begins to hallucinate, or so he believes, and has regular conversations with the ghost of Nicole Howard. Over time, he falls in love with the dead girl and comes to terms with his guilt by accepting Nicole as a reality, even if she is only a manifestation of his insanity.

Amanda Howard: In Chapter 4 we meet Amanda, a hot-tempered waitress and alcoholic who, after discovering that her daughter has died, escapes into the madness of the bottle, jumping from one post-apocalyptic party to the next—anything to keep herself moving and feeling ‘alive’ so as not to have to face the demons of her past. After nearly dying due to a failed attempt to escape the coast via sailboat, Amanda ends up with, Charlie Ottermeyer, and discovers that he possesses a horrific ability to manipulate the dead. Charlie ends up controlling Amanda through her own fear, making her his sex slave and personal confidant. Though all this, Amanda has managed to outrun the demons of addiction until finally discovering that Stephen had sex with her daughter on the night she died, causing her to turn back to the bottle and let loose the monster within. After nearly killing Stephen for his betrayal, she is confronted by Nicole (manifested through Stephen) at a bar in the town of Jefferson. Amanda is convinced that her dead daughter is still alive, inside of him, and then risks her life to save Stephen when the bar is attacked by the dead. As a last act of compassion for her daughter, and a chance to make amends, Amanda perishes in the bar, giving Stephen a chance to escape.

Charlie Ottermeyer: Once a conspiracy theorist blogger and a man who few respected in the real world, Charlie is a rude, obnoxious little man who manages to get under everyone’s skin. In Chapter 5, we find that Charlie is placed in a mental hospital after having a breakdown. When the dead attack the hospital, Charlie is somehow spared when the dead find him in his room but turn and walk away. Later, Charlie becomes aware of an ability to control the dead that transforms him from frightened child to eventual sociopath as he plots to take over the group and win the respect he feels he is warranted. Later on, Charlie goes too far and tries to have Amanda infected by a female zombie under his control, believing that infecting the others will grant him the power and respect he so desperately craves. His plan backfires as the group discovers what he is capable of and then decides to abandon him. Charlie eventually catches up to his former group, in the wilderness preserve run by Micom and Micolad, hosting a small army of the dead which he unleashes on the living. Charlie is wounded during the battle by Micom and is believed to have perished in the explosion, caused by the bomb, Micolad.

Frank Carman: We first meet this brute of a man back in Chapter 8. Frank was being temporarily held in an Eastlake jail cell for drug and murder charges when the dead attack the police station. Frank talks a hot-headed police offer, Samantha Petroskovich, into letting him loose to help find a way out of the station. Frank eventually tricks Sam and throws her off the station rooftop and then uses an injured inmate to buy his escape as he pushes the inmate into a crowd of the hungry dead. Later, Frank arrives at the Percy Power Plant, with a strange woman named Meredith Montgomery, a medium among other things. Frank and Meredith join up with the survivor’s group at Percy where Frank keeps to himself for a time until forced by Gina to step up and become a part of the group. Since then, Frank has been the group “smart-ass” and has shown himself strong on several occasions, risking his neck for this group of misfits that he has grown attached to. Later in the story, Frank is discovered in the town of Andover by none other than Samantha, the cop he thought he murdered. With his true identity revealed, Frank is placed in jail awaiting a trial for his crimes. Gina eventually arranges to have Frank released on the condition that he accompany her to rescue a pregnant girl named Megan Bishop. Frank and Gina miraculously survive being tortured by Micom at the wilderness preserve. But Frank ends up being murdered by Marcus Dempsey (a.k.a. Russell Bower) when he decides to confront him alone in the woods.

Meredith Montgomery: Meredith is the first of the ‘group’ characters we meet at the Percy Power Plant back in Chapter 10. When Gina arrives at the plant, Meredith befriends her quickly and invites her into the group. We find out that Meredith lost her partner and met up with Frank on the way over. Later we discover that not only is Meredith the ‘glue’ that keeps this group of conflicting personalities from killing each other, but we also find out that Meredith is a medium who has a special connection with the dead. As time moves on, the group discovers more and more about their strange traveling companion who is sometimes feared for what she can do, but is loved by Gina. By the end of the third book, it is discovered that Meredith is connected to the mysterious group known only as Mother. Feeling betrayed, Gina places her under ‘house arrest’ and refuses to have anything more to do with her when they decide to move into the underground facility, hidden behind a waterfall cave. As far as what Meredith knows, she has refused to speak of it, believing she is protecting her friends from a far bigger threat.

Doug McFarlane: Doug is an outspoken former minor league baseball player who we first met in Chapter 10. He was responsible for lighting a fire under our group’s ass and pulling then together just in time to escape the Percy Power Plant massacre. Doug was the first leader of our group of survivors, and was responsible for the initial plan to flee the coast by boat. On the way to the marina, he befriends and entrusts Gina with his plans, sensing a kindred spirit in her, as he attempts to groom her for leadership. After arriving at the marina, Doug dies heroically as he throws himself before a zombie horde, allowing the others time to escape before he is torn to pieces.

Greg Dermont: A simple man of faith and an all-around handy man, we first met Greg back in Chapter 10 with his daughter, Ashley. Greg was pivotal in both Doug and Gina’s leadership, as he provided practical advice and guidance from the day they all fled the power plant, up until his unfortunate death in the town of Andover after being sniped down by a hostile group of survivors. For many of them, Greg was the ‘heart’ of the group, always staying positive and upbeat, even after the death of his daughter. Greg’s death became the catalyst for Gina’s anger at the end of the second book as she succumbs to vigilante justice and decides to hunt down and kill the hostile survivors.

Ashley Dermont: Daughter of Greg Dermont, we first encounter Ashley’s charming wit and sarcasm back in Chapter 10. She is a teenager devastated by the death of her gadgets (and for her this is the ‘real’ apocalypse). Unfortunately, Ashley’s time with us was far too brief. After the failed attempt to retrieve a boat in Fairport Harbor, Ashley was infected and dying at the conclusion of the first book. It is Greg, himself, who puts her down before she is reanimated. Her death played a key role in Frank Carman’s turnaround.

Marcus Dempsey: Marcus… Marcus… Marcus… what can I say about this one. Marcus is the answer to the tedious question I have received numerous times: “What ever happened to that serial killer guy?” Ironically, Marcus is the last of the original ten revealed in Chapter 30 with the death of Frank Carman, but the first introduced as Russell Bower way back in Chapter 1. What can I say about Marcus/Russell? Well… he is a killer. He is very, very dangerous. He is most definitely insane. Marcus is a complicated man who views murder as almost a spiritual matter, while warring with his darker, savage nature, known only as ‘the other one’, who craves bloodshed and slaughter as much as the dead. To the group, with the exception of Frank who was always suspicious of him, Marcus is a trusted member of the community who is a skilled fighter, and Gina values his wise counsel. In fact, Marcus has saved Gina’s life on several occasions. All I can add about Marcus/Russell, is that he has his own agenda and is motivated by his own purposes… and Gina is top priority with him.

As mentioned above, from the original ten survivors who survived the Percy Power Plant, only four now remain: Gina, Meredith, Stephen and Marcus. They have certainly gone through hell to reach this point, but unfortunately, their real battles are just beginning. Here are some additional cast members we’ve already met who will be joining the original four in the new story arc. Also, a couple we haven’t met yet:

Tony Marcuchi: Although not joining the others until Chapter 25, I consider Tony the ‘unofficial’ 11th member of the group since we first met him in Chapter 2 and his story continued in Chapters 16 -18, running parallel with Gina Melborn’s story when her group first heard the Ashtabula Survivor’s Group bogus broadcast over the CB radio as they were hiding in the boat house back in Chapter 14. It just took Tony a while to catch up. Not much is known about Tony’s past going in to Chapter 2. We know he was the bouncer at the strip club he and Gina worked at. We also know that he cared for Gina, but was much more distant about it due to her ‘job’, which was clear he disapproved her doing. Tony feels directly responsible for Gina after they are separated and the world goes insane. Unfortunately, he is captured by a sadistic beast, known as ‘The Bad Man’, who is feeding his prisoners to his infected wife while also experimenting on them in order to cure her, but is unsuccessful. Tony is one of the last to truly understand what’s happening in the world when he finally escapes, but focuses on finding Gina instead. It is during his captivity and after, that Tony understands just how much he loves her and needs to find her. Gina becomes his ‘constant’ in a world out to set him off-balance and bring him down. His journey to discover Gina’s fate is delayed when he finds himself in the custody of former police officer, Samantha Petroscovich, who is in charge of security at a highly sophisticated evacuation center in the middle of a wilderness preserve run by a psychotic machine called, Micolad. Surrounded by an enemy known as The Shadow Dead, Samantha and her crew are trying to figure out who Tony truly is and how he managed to get so close to the facility without being detected in the hope of finding a way to escape themselves. They are under constant observation by a man named Micom and his personal assassin, Copperfield. Sam’s group, with Tony’s help, manage to escape the center, but end up trapped in the forest while the Shadow Dead hunt them down. Sam, Tony, and a man named Orosco, are the only survivors of the attack. Eventually, the three of them find more survivors and form another group, led my Sam. As luck would have it, Sam’s group and Gina’s group find each other in the small town of Andover where Tony is finally reunited with Gina. There celebration is brief when they discover that the apocalypse has taken its toll on both of them as they struggle to work out what they have left between them.

Diane Conley: We first met Diane in Chapter 25 but haven’t learned very much about her yet. She is the farmer’s daughter, a younger hunter and a tracker, who joined Tony, along with several other hunters from Sam’s community, as they made a stand on the rooftop of the diner in Andover the night they believed the Shadow Dead were coming. Later, Diane and the other hunters, along with Meredith and Stephen, followed Tony back to the wilderness preserve to rescue Gina. She was the only hunter to survive the mission, and has stayed loyal to both Tony and Gina going in to the new story arc.

Nine Lives: An uncanny young man we haven’t met yet, with an obsession with numbers and the 80’s. He hasn’t told anyone his real name and prefers this nickname due to his seemingly ‘dumb luck’ ability for survival, which he attributes to his knowledge of numbers. He is rescued by one of Gina’s search parties, sent out before the winter storms, and discovers Diane staring at him through his bedroom window when he was starving to death. Since then, he calls her his ‘angel’ and is hopelessly in love with her.

Logan (The Preacher): Logan is also a new character in the next story arc. He is a stocky, brute of a man who was once a Neo-Nazi extremist, as evidenced by the ‘hate’ tattoos all over his arms which he purposely displays whenever he preaches about God. He is upfront about his past and uses it to shame and denounce himself while uplifting the Good Man, Jesus. Unlike Greg, his faith in God is far from simple.

Alysa Monroe: Presently listed as a ‘classified character’. We will meet her in the next story arc.

And that’s about it (in a nutshell).  There’s a lot of things that have happened that I’m not specifically addressing, as well as many more characters I could talk about that we’ve met along the way or who are coming in the days ahead, but I wanted to just touch on some of the major players and moments from the series. Hopefully this serves as a bit of a refresher going in to Book Four with emphasis on the importance of our characters, because they are the heart of what Don’t Feed The Dark is really all about.

-Scott

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