After The Dark (#7) – Phantoms (Part 2)

Posted: September 9, 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 another 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 up through Chapter 31-4 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.”

(John and Gina are sitting before the studio audience. The crowd stands up and gives Gina another round of applause as part two of Gina’s interview begins.)

“Welcome back, everyone,” John begins. “As you all already know, are good friend Gina Melborn, leader of the apocalyptic survivors currently occupying an underground bunker created by the mysterious group, Mother, in what is now known as the Wasteland, has come back to talk with us about the new story arc, titled, Phantoms. Are you glad to see her again?”

(The crowd goes wild as Gina waves and nods graciously.)

“Thanks everyone,” she says. Gina turns to John. “It’s great to be back again.”

John shakes his head and lets out a heavy sigh. “That was some crazy shit we just experienced this week. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around everything that’s happening so I’ll just jump right in.” John leans forward in his chair. “So after crazy Marvin communicates over the radio and forces a confrontation that obviously hasn’t gone well for him, we’ve learned a few more things.”

Gina laughs and says jokingly, “Yes, we certainly have, haven’t we?”

“Young lady, I will be the one asking the questions here,” John kids. “After what we just went through…”

Gina raises her hands in mock surrender and leans back in her chair. “Go ahead, don’t let me stop you.”

(The audience laughs.)

“So, after that crazy ass shoot out, we discover that the very prisoners you all came to rescue, were actually the ones who attacked you. What do you suppose is going on in Tony’s head right about now?”

Gina shakes her head. “I imagine he’s pretty fucked up by it. Hell, we all are. Essentially, Tony’s looking at Marvin and the others and wondering if that could have been his fate if he hadn’t escaped. But also, he’s furious that these poor souls let the bad man turn them into monsters. Tony’s having a hard time understanding why they gave up and committed to joining this unfathomable madness.”

“Yes, I imagine it’s hard for Tony to understand all this, especially since the bad man was the source of their nightmares in that sick house. Is what happened to the prisoners like a form of Stockholm Syndrome?”

“I think that the bad man became all they had outside the darkness of that horrid basement existence,” Gina says. “I suppose many of them remembered very well what awaited them outside. And I think, at some point, after months of abuse, the bad man shifted tactics and went from their torturer to their provider. I suspect that the ones he broke, like Marvin, became his favorite pets, who in turn, set the example for the others of what ‘good behavior’ afforded. From there, all the bad man needed to do was apply the ‘reward and punishment’ treatment… either way, it’s still pretty fucked up.”

“Indeed. After finding out the truth about these… manipulated souls, did you have any regrets in killing them?”

Gina shook her head. “No, I didn’t regret shit. For me, these sick fucks were no different than the grey-eyed monsters in Harpersfield who still possessed the ability to reason like human beings. But they chose not to and decided to become rabid animals which needed to be put down.”

“Might that be a bit harsh? After all, what if it had been you down there in chains after months of captivity? Do you honestly believe that you or Tony or anyone else could’ve chosen differently and still survived?”

“No,” she quickly answered. “And that’s the point. Those prisoners had one choice to make before being forced to give up their humanity. And that choice was fight… or die in the attempt. Either way, what they became, turning into monsters and preying on others who were also captured… well that’s just despicable to me. Better to be dead than to be discovered like that!”

“Speaking of monsters,” John pushed. “What the hell happened to you? It really seems like you lost your shit, especially when you tortured Marvin. Where was the humanity in how you treated him?”

(The audience ooh’s and ah’s to John’s statement.)

Gina shook her head. “Yes, you got me there, John. I certainly lost my cool in that situation.”

“I’m under the impression at this point that you’ve been losing your cool quite a bit. Is that a fair assumption?”

“Yes.” Gina shifts uncomfortably. “I regretted what I did to Marvin as soon as I did it. However, looking back in hindsight, I don’t know that I would’ve done anything differently. I was seeing red at that point. I’d just lost another person under my command, seen some of the atrocities that were conducted on people in that madhouse, and by the very people we came to rescue. I was… overwhelmed by it all, and knowing that the one person responsible was nowhere to be found and that he’d intended on turning my Tony into one of them… well, let’s just say that I wanted the bad man’s head put in that refrigerator very badly.”

John nods. “Tony clearly is upset with you. Do you think you’ve crossed the line this time?”

Gina lets out a nervous laugh. “I think I’ve been crossing the line for quite a while now. I just keep moving the line ahead of me in the hope that I’ve actually gone as far as I will… and that the damage I’ve done won’t condemn me.”

It’s John’s turn to shift uncomfortably as he gladly changes the subject. “So, by the end of the fourth episode, Nine chimes in over the radio with some bad news.”

“Yes.” Gina looks relieved. “The dead have arrived.”

“Because of the bodies in the stables?”

“In part,” Gina answers. “But there’s more to the story than that,” she finishes.

“I get it. No spoilers.” John leans back. “So where are we headed next?”

Gina smiles. “We still have a mission to complete… the bad man is still out there somewhere.”

“Fair enough. So we spoke last week about phantoms. Are there any in your ‘haunted house’ presently?”

“Absolutely,” she says. “I believe, at some point, that either I’m going to have to deal with my own demons, or they’re going to deal with me.”

John nods. “So let me follow up with this question. In light of present circumstances, which is worse: Gina Melborn away from the compound, or Gina Melborn within the compound?”

“Ouch,” she teases. “You’re starting to make me sound like I’m a real big problem right now.”

“Well… are you?”

Gina leans back in her seat and lets her shoulders drop. “Here’s what I’ll say about it. I think as survivors we’ve learned how to do two things to stay alive. We fight or we hide. I believe both of these options have terrible side-effects… at least for me. So I can’t tell you where I belong anymore.”

“So what’s the answer if fighting monsters threatens to make us monsters ourselves, and standing still invites ghosts?”

“We obviously haven’t figured that out yet, John. For the longest time we ran and fought for every inch just to make it to a safe place where we could finally breathe, only to be hunted down by all those fucking phantoms in our ‘down time’. It would appear that we haven’t learned how to do the one vital thing that’s required to truly survive.”

“And that is?”

“Somewhere between hiding and fighting, we need to learn how to live. It’s not enough to simply exist, it never was before. We can’t hide away from this savage world any more than we can embrace it. But we certainly need to figure out how to live again if we expect to outlast this epidemic.”

“Well said, Gina. Well said. And that’s about all the time we have left for today. I want to thank you for sharing your insightful observations up to this point and we all look forward to having you on the show again.” He turns to the audience. “What do you think, people? Can she come back sometime?”

(The audience gets to their feet and applauds loudly.)

“So is there anything you can tell us about next week’s episodes?”

“Well, Chapter One will be finishing up on Monday. On Wednesday readers will head back to the Wasteland to find out what’s going on in the compound. And that’s about all I can say.”

“Thanks again for joining us, Gina. It’s always a pleasure.”

Gina nods with a smile.

John stands up and turns toward the audience. “Before we go I want to let you all know that we will be back next week on Thursday because our author will be going out of town next weekend.  And that’s a wrap, ladies and gentlemen. Feel free to ask Gina any questions about her character, the story, or any of the topics that we’ve discussed so far. If not, then I’ll see you next week for another deep-discussion episode of After The Dark!”


Next Episode:
After The Dark (#8) – Evil Gina


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