Chapter 31-5: Marvin’s Day

Posted: September 12, 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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~~~

Gina started barking orders, getting everyone on the move, re-loaded, and ready for a gunfight… or much worse.

They searched the house for weaknesses in any windows where the enemy could get in, while trying to get a clear picture as to what was about to happen outside.

Gina told Hagar to watch Marvin who was now sitting back in the living room love seat. Tony insisted that he would watch him instead, not willing to trust anyone else not to kill the poor devil.

Gina simply nodded, not wanting to go head-to-head with the man she loved. She continued to gleam updates from Nine over the radio as she and Marcus stood guard near the front door, daring occasional glimpses out a small crack of light between two front window boards.

She couldn’t see the stables from here, but at least the driveway area was still clear.

“Gina.” It was Nine on the radio again. “I’ve confirmed it, they are definitely dead… and I mean the worst kind… yellow eyes and all that jazz. You better get the hell out of there.”

“Copy,” Gina transmitted, giving Marcus a concerned glance.

“They might only be interested in the corpses,” he said. “That might explain why they haven’t stormed the house yet.”

Gina nodded. She lifted the radio again and transmitted. “Can you give me a head count? Are they all out of the woods?”

“Most of them are hanging back at the edge of the forest for the ice cream social… it’s odd. There’s just three of them that have come out so far, they seem to be interested in the stable, but they’re being very hesitant. That’s not like these dudes. I can’t get a clear count because of the trees. My guess… there’s at least forty of them.”

Gina shook her head and said to Marcus, “We’re fucked if they find out we’re here.” She transmitted again, “Nine, are you in danger of being exposed?”

“I’m okay for the moment. Nothing sneaking around behind me.”

Gina looked relieved. “Okay, you let me know the moment they start for the house.”

“Copy that. Gina, watch yourself… forty’s not good.”

She smiled at the remark and transmitted, “You’ll have to explain that to me when we’re safe. Stay out of sight and don’t take chances. Do you hear me?”

“Copy. Ground Control signing out.”

“He’s an idiot,” Diane said coming over. “I don’t know why you insist on letting that man come on these sort of missions.”

“He’s very… intuitive, at times,” Gina said. “You know this, Diane. I don’t know how, but Nine has a way of getting out of some really tight fixes.”

“He’s just lucky… and damn reckless… stupid man with his numbers,” Diane mumbled, walking off. “What the hell kind of name is ‘Nine Lives’ anyway…”

Marcus smiled. “I think she’s worried about him.”

Gina put a finger to her mouth, allowing the crack of a smile to briefly show, and said, “Don’t say that around her, she’ll shoot you dead.”

“Noted.”

Hagar came down from upstairs. He looked out of breath. “Gina, I got a good look at them. There’s three of those yellow-eyed bastards just standing in between the front of the stables and the woods. They act like they’re waiting for something. When the hell did they start doing that?”

“Was one of them a woman,” Tony asked from the edge of the dining room. He let Diane relieve him from guarding Marvin long enough to check in.

“I’m not sure,” Hagar said. “They don’t look much like men or women anymore. It’s what’s left of their torn-up clothes, and sometimes some of them still have hair… that’s how I can tell.”

“She would be wearing a nightgown.” Tony said.

Hagar’s eyes lit up. “Yeah… yeah… that’s right, the one in the middle, I think she was wearing some old muddy gown. The other two were standing next to her, acting like bodyguards or something. It’s the strangest fucking thing.”

Gina looked to Tony. “You think it’s his wife? Helen?”

“Has to be,” he said. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. Marcus said the corpses were put there to attract something. Well… now we know what. After all this time… the bad man’s still feeding her.”

“How can that be?” Gina said. “I mean… those things are not exactly civilized.”

“Maybe she remembers him,” Tony offered. “Maybe a little. Could be why he and the others were still alive when we got here. They offer food and they leave them alone to keep getting more food.”

“Interesting,” Marcus said. “That would mean that our man-hating, yellow-eyed friends have developed the ability to reason. The implications are… well… frightening.”

Gina tried to process this new information. If there was any truth to it, if the dead could now… think… then their world was about to get a whole lot deadlier. “We need to get out of her,” she said. “We’ll slip out the back while they’re preoccupied with the stables. Hopefully, they won’t notice us.”

“Gina!” her radio blared. “Gina! They’re moving! Shit! They’re… they’re coming out of the woods and… forming a perimeter around the front of the property. Hell, there’s a whole lot more than I first thought. You need to get the hell out of there before they surround the place!”

“What do you mean, ‘forming a perimeter’?” she transmitted.

“I mean, it isn’t a damn Hands-Across-America zombie event, but it’s close! Gina… I’m telling you… these freaks are organized. They’re still out front. You can get out the back and make it to the woods if you go now. Damn, I think I’ve been spotted!”

“Get out of there!” Gina said. “Stop fucking talking to me and move! Meet us at the back-up rendezvous point. Don’t bother responding back… just go! If we don’t make it by nightfall. You lie low for the night and head back to The Wasteland and tell Stephen what’s happening out here. Going radio silent… now.” She stopped transmitting and looked up to meet Diane’s concerned face.

“He’ll be okay,” she said. “We need to worry about us at the moment.

“We’re too late,” Marcus said, staring through an opening in a boarded up window. “He wasn’t kidding. They’re forming a tight ring around this entire place. We try to make it out the back, one of them will see us and alert the rest. We’ll never make it to the trees.”

Gina rushed to the window.

Former men, women and children in various states of decay in soiled and torn clothing were sluggishly trudging through the damp field, one following the next with their heads lowered. To Gina, they seemed oblivious to the house and to each other, acting more like ghosts than predators, as the ghastly procession continued to form their perimeter.

Gina forced herself to look away as a chill seized her. “Fuck! Get ready, everyone. We may have to fight our way to the fucking forest. Staying here is not an option. Whatever these things are now, once they surround us, we’ll be trapped in here.”

And God only knows what madness will occur after that, she thought.

Suddenly, they heard several whistling sounds from outside followed by loud popping sounds.

“What the hell is that?” Tony asked.

Gina knew immediately. She smiled and said, “Nine’s just bought us some time. Those are flares. He insisted we bring them when I told him there were only five in the armory. He was adamant that we bring them. Something to do with the number five signifying grace or some shit.”

“Whatever the reason, it’s working,” Marcus said. “They’ve stopped forming their ring. Looks like they’re headed toward his location… and I mean they’re hauling ass.”

Diane was about to speak, but then swallowed hard and stared at her feet. “He’s so…stupid,” she mumbled under her breath.

“We go now,” Gina said. “Everybody remember how we trained. Once outside, we stay tight, cover our sectors and move as one unit. Once we hit the trees, we fucking vanish.”

“What about Marvin?” Tony asked. “Do we just leave him here to die? We are… responsible… for his present condition.”

“Fuck him!” Hagar said. “He made his fucking bed, let him burn in it!”

“Come on, Tony!” Diane said. “He killed Dwayne for Christ’s sake! Why do you care?”

“Because, regardless of what he’s done, he’s not in his right mind. Probably hasn’t been for a long time. I believe the bad man made him like this, which means, Marvin’s as much a victim as Dwayne, and all the other dead people in this house.”

Gina stared across the room at Tony feeling like they were hundreds of miles away from each other.

Oh, Tony, why does it always come down to this between you and me? she thought. Every time I have to make the hard decisions that are going to help us survive the next five minutes, you want to remind me of the moral implications of my decisions. I can’t keep us alive and be the noble one… not in this new world!

“We leave him here,” she said. “He’s survived this long preying on others… maybe he’ll find a way to stay alive or maybe he dies. Doesn’t matter. I won’t lose anybody else trying to save this… man.”

Tony frowned, but said nothing.

“Alright, then,” Gina said. “Let’s move to the utility room and get the fuck out of here.”

They moved cautiously through the living room, still jumping at the shadows and expecting anything to attack them at a moment’s notice.

Tony looked over at the dying man in the chair and stopped.

Gina looked over. “Tony, there’s no time-”

“Just give a damn minute!” he barked. “I get it. We’re leaving him. I’ll be right there.”

Gina nodded. “Just hurry up.”

Tony walked toward the fireplace. The flames were almost out. He quickly threw a few logs into the fire and then turned the unconscious man’s chair to face it. “If you’re going to die alone,” he said, “at least you won’t be cold.”

Marvin coughed from the chair.

Tony turned and found the man’s eyes open.

“Marvin heard you… yes he did. Marvin heard it all,” he said in a weak voice.

“Then you know there’s nothing I can do,” Tony said. “I’m… I’m sorry.”

“Tony… right?”

“Yes.”

“Tony… Marvin thinks that’s a good name. Marvin hasn’t known many people with names for a long time. It’s Marvin’s day, you know. That’s why Marvin gets a name, because it’s Marvin’s day.”

“Yes,” Tony said. “It’s Marvin’s day.”

Marvin coughed again and attempted a strange-looking smile. “Marvin used to be like Tony… yes… he used to be just like Tony. But it’s been so long… so much hunger… so much darkness… so much pain… that Marvin can’t remember Marvin anymore.”

Tony felt ill. “I understand, Marvin. Tony was once like Marvin…Tony could’ve been Marvin… but Tony got free. Tony got away from here. Tony got away from the bad man.”

“Free…” Marvin said, as if testing out the word for the first time. “Yes… Marvin remembers ‘Free’… almost.”

“Is there anything I can do to make you… comfortable?” Tony’s words hung useless.

“They’re coming… Marvin can sense it. They’ll be mad because the bad man wasn’t here. She will be very upset with him.”

“Yes, Marvin, they’re coming.” Then he added sadly, “You’re going to die here. Do you understand that?”

“Marvin understands. Marvin will be… free.”

“Yes… Marvin will finally be free.”

“Take me to the cellar, Tony. That’s Marvin’s home. That’s Marvin’s home… now. Marvin wants to go home. Help Marvin…yes?”

“Okay.” Tony helped the frail man to his feet and led him to the hallway.

The others were there. They’d silently been watching. No one dared to speak.

Tony opened the basement door and turned on his flashlight. He hesitated when his horrible memories of that hell-hole struck him, and then he walked Marvin down the steps. Once at the bottom, Tony laid him down on the concrete and tried really hard not to look around his former prison. He just wanted to get Marvin… home.

“Thank you, Tony. Marvin is very sorry… for everything.”

Tony nodded. “Take care, Marvin.” He started to turn but Marvin weakly grabbed his arm.

“Marvin wants to help Tony. Marvin wants to tell him a secret.” The strange man waved him in close.

Tony leaned in so Marvin could whisper in his ear.

When Marvin was finished, he laid down with a smile and said, “See… Marvin tried to help. You remember that, Tony. You remember that Marvin tried to help… okay?”

Tony stared at him, trying to process what Marvin had just whispered in his ear. Finally he answered, “Yes… I’ll remember. Goodbye, Marvin.” He turned and headed up the steps. Once he reached the landing, Tony closed the door and did not look back. He met up with the others in the utility room.

Gina was staring at him.

He refused to look at her.

“Alright,” Gina said. “Everyone ready for this?”

“Shit,” Tony said. He looked at them and said, “The CB equipment? We can’t leave it functional. This will all be for nothing if we get back and hear another fucking radio message. I’ll go back and destroy it. Don’t wait for me.”

“No, Tony,” Gina said. “I’ve got this. Everybody get outside. Be ready to move in two minutes.”

She quickly departed the utility room and rushed to the living room. Once there, she walked past the CB equipment and headed for the fireplace. The fire was burning bright now. She grabbed the fire poker and saw Marvin’s pink scarf laying in the love seat. She quickly grabbed the scarf and wrapped it around the poker. She then stuck it in the fire until the scarf caught fire. Gina quickly turned toward an old sofa and dropped the burning scarf on the trash infested couch. It caught fire immediately. Gina backed away from the burning couch. Burn, bitch, burn. If that fucker makes it back here, he’ll find his house of horrors in ashes.

Gina started back toward the utility room. She stopped by the basement door and noticed a sliding bolt latch.

And as for you…

She pushed the latch across the basement door until it was secure.

There were no condemning lightning bolts, no appeals of guilt from within… she felt nothing.

Doesn’t matter.

She hurried back.

Some things Tony can never know, she thought as she rejoined the others.

Once Gina reached the utility room, she opened the back door, letting in the afternoon sunlight. It stung her eyes. She quickly scanned the area with her gun drawn. The others were still there.

“All clear, Gina,” Diane said. “They’re still following the flares.”

“Did you destroy all the equipment?” Tony asked.

“Yes, it’s done,” Gina said, trying not to meet Tony’s gaze. They’ll start smelling it any minute! “Let’s go!”

They fell into formation and quickly fled across the swampy field, using the remains of old hay bales for additional concealment until they reached the edge of the forest.

Gina looked back, hoping the hell-house had not betrayed her with spirals of black smoke coming from the roof. There were none.

She looked at Tony who was staring too long at the house. He was clearly going through some internal turmoil but there was no time to address it.

“We need to keep pushing ahead,” Gina said. “Let’s move!”

They turned toward the woods.

Gina took the rear and glanced back once more.

She could see black smoke starting to rise from the roof.

She turned back to quickly catch up to the others and met Marcus’s probing gaze. He looked at the house and then back to her. His face, as usual, was unreadable.

“We need to move, Marcus,” she reminded him in a pleading voice.

He nodded and smiled. “Just waiting for you. Are you good?”

“Yes,” she said, puzzled by the strange question. Please, please, don’t ask… don’t ever ask.

He turned without another word and Gina followed.

They continued deeper into the woods, heading toward an old road on the other side, which would lead them to their back-up rendezvous point.

~~~

Stepping out from the far side of the stables, the woman in the soiled gown watched her prey flee through the fields and make it into the woods.

Helen’s face was a mask of mud and dried up blood as she barred her teeth at them. Between the damp tangles of her soaked hair, an intense yellow blaze burned after them, her hunger and need to rip apart their flesh with her teeth barely contained by a new, foreign impulse to… wait.

Soon she would call out to the others. They would feed on the corpses in the stables.

And then they would hunt.

~~~

Next Episode 32-1

Previous Episode 31-4

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 31-5: Marvin’s Day” Copyright © 2016 Scott Scherr. All Rights Reserved.

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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