Chapter 32-3: Wasteland

Posted: September 20, 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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~~~

Nicole Howard opened her eyes and smiled contently. She lay in her cot for a few moments, absorbing everything around her, which made all her senses tingle with excitement. From the dimly lit overhead lights above to the steady low hum of machinery behind the walls; from the stale mixture of overlapping odors reminding her of her old dorm room in another life, to the shuffling sounds of people in different states of deep or restless sleep… she loved all of it. Even the sound of her own breathing delighted her–the rise and fall of her chest as she inhaled and exhaled deeply revealing her own precious vitality. She smiled at the irony of all that she had taken for granted when she, too, had once been alive and failed to recognize and appreciate how much life there was in everything.

How long have we been this way? she wondered. How long have we misunderstood the true essence of living and simply trudged along, distracted by meaningless endeavors, while we ignored the pulse of so much life all around us?

And it had only required her death to show her how much she’d overlooked… and that she had never truly lived at all. But now, she was tapped in, connected to the true source, and for the first time, she knew the value of being alive… every breath of it.

She slowly rose, turned, and let her bare feet touch the cool tile floor. It still felt foreign–the weight of her body, the beat of her heart, the sensation of touch… which nearly overwhelmed her every time.

Nicole stood and stretched her arms, her back, and her legs. She appreciated every muscle, working together, to remind her that she was here… and not over there… in that cold, dark void.

She stepped out of her cubicle and glanced over into the neighboring empty cots with a sigh of relief. For once she would not have to be quiet like a teenager sneaking out after curfew. For far too long she’d been forced to limit her appearances with the one she loved because someone was always around… but not tonight.

Nicole stepped out into the main living area of Cubicle City and slowly walked through its core, looking left and right at the numerous sheets separating her from the rest of the living.

From the rest of the living, she thought, letting out a giddy laugh at the joke only she could appreciate.

Again, the irony did not escape her as she considered a different veil that once kept her from returning, like a line at the edge of the vast nothingness, or an infinitely tall prison wall where light and freedom were synonymous on the other side. She felt inspired and let the words come forth, eager to hear the sound of her own voice as she whispered the words:

“A veil of linen, snores, and dreams, won’t keep us separate at the seams.
Identity provides us parts, while at the heart… life’s fabric starts
and ends with each of us as one… we share one life beneath the sun.”

Nicole was dancing as she approached the southern end of Cubicle City. She settled down and laughed at herself as she stepped out into the hallway. She missed the sound of laugher. A minute later she stopped before the old sleeping sentry in the chair in front of the ominous door of mystery, which was the source of many late night whispers and conspiracy theories. As for her, she could care less. She knew about many doors more terrible than this one. Some she’d learned led to wondrous places no human mind could fathom. While the others… the only ones she could enter… were where nightmares originated from.

She approached Barney like a cat playing with a mouse until her face was right up against his. She felt his warm breath on her cheek and smiled. Nicole slowly reached out her hand and touched his stubble covered chin.

Barney shifted and she retracted her hand playfully as the old man turned his head the other way and continued to dream in lands which did not adhere to the rules of life or death.

Nicole often longed for dreams in the nothingness. But as boundless as dreams were, even they were forbidden in the darkness.

She moved on down the hallway toward the clinic where a rough-looking sentry barely acknowledged her with a grunt and a disinterested nod as she passed.

At the east end of the compound, a labyrinth of shorter hallways connected to each other, eventually forming a loop back toward the mess hall. Down here were the showers, bathrooms, a large laundry room and all non-essential storage rooms and utility closets.

Nicole stopped before one large storage room. She entered the space and quickly ran out of room as several narrow rows of tall shelves loaded with what remained of the compound’s linen quickly filled up the room. She turned left and then right down the farthest row until she found a small fold-up chair waiting at the end of the aisle. She hesitated at the chair, looked around to make sure she was alone, and then quietly moved the chair away so she could get to the vent in the wall, just behind it. She crouched down on her knees and loosened the screws around the vent. Then she removed the vent cover, reached inside, and retrieved a red spiral notebook. Nicole put the chair back and sat down, retrieving a pen that she’d stuffed within the spiral binding.

She looked at the cover and smiled at the neatly written title in black ink:

A Higher Education: The Continuing Tales of My Rebirth

Nicole turned to the first empty page mid-way through the notebook and started to write…

~~~

April 26, 2011
2:00am

I saw the one I love today. As usual, he was brooding through his big book that continues to keep him chained to the past. Stephen’s done remarkably well these last few months. He’s let most of it go, but still, a part of him clings to the old, clings to the pain that comes with it. It’s all Guilt’s fault. That cold-hearted bitch has had her claws into him for far too long. I shouldn’t expect the fight to liberate my love to be easy. But he is trying, so I’ll forgive the stupid book for now.

This place has been really good for us… or I should say, the ‘not running around to save our lives’ part truly has been. We’ve had more time to talk and be together and plan for our future.

I can tell he’s really excited about going away with me. It’s all we seem to talk about, now that the time is so close. Okay, it’s all I talk about, but Stephen doesn’t seem to mind. I know in my heart that he’ll leave with me when the time is right. Soon spring will be here and we can leave this awful dungeon and these people who would never allow us to be together and get back up into the sunlight.

Of course, I know I’m not the same woman I was before. I know that he’ll miss the physical contact we once had as we become more and more intimate. But Stephen is a better man than most and not governed by such needs. No, he knows, as I do, that what we have together is more than physical. I believe he’ll quickly overcome carnal needs and appreciate our intercourse of the mind, heart, soul… and beyond. What we have is so much better than all that came before. I just need to get him away from this community of pain and suffering. They all only serve to drag him down and remind him of that old empty life… especially the female population. They’re all just like Claudette. They’re all just like my mother. Takers and whores, every one.

I know he doesn’t’ see it, but I’ve watched some of them stare at Stephen when he passes. They recognize the leader that he is, the strength which he possesses, and they want him. They all want what we have because they’ve never known such a pure love. And I don’t fault them for their desires. If only every woman could have a man like him… but he’s mine… finally, mine.

We just need to leave this old world behind us and…

…KILL EVERY ONE OF THESE MAGGOTS! THEY ARE WEAK AND PATHETIC CREATURES AND I WILL BATHE IN THEIR BLOOD, DRINK FROM THE CUP OF THEIR SUFFERING, AND DESTROY THEM…

…start fresh. No more pain. No more regrets. Just the two of us with a whole new world before us where nothing will ever stand in the way of our love again…

~~~

…Nicole closed the notebook, shut her eyes and smiled. “Soon, my love,” she promised. “We’re almost free.”

When she opened her eyes, she nearly fell out of her chair trying to stand as a man, dressed all in black, stood at the end of the aisle, staring at her.

It was Stephen.

Nicole waved a shaking finger in Stephen’s face as she tried to calm down. “You’re… you’re not supposed to be here!” she accused.

Stephen frowned at her, making the hairs on Nicole’s arms stand. He didn’t say a word but spoke volumes with his deep, sadness-filled eyes.

“Stop it!” she hissed. “You’re not him! You’re not even fucking real! You don’t belong here so GET… OUT!”

The man resembling Stephen Eddington cocked his head to the side, like a dog responding to a high-pitched whistle. He then pointed at her and then sharply down toward the ground.

“No! I will not!” Nicole said. “You don’t exist here so leave me alone!”

Stephen lowered his arms to his sides and continued to stare at her.

Nicole closed her eyes and covered her ears. She started shaking her head as if trying to wake from a bad dream. “Go back,” she pleaded. “Just… go… back…”

When she finally dared to look, the man who resembled her love was gone.

Nicole wept into her hands as she wondered if the man would ever go away. He’d been appearing for a couple of months now, every time Nicole borrowed Stephen’s flesh.

Someone opened the storage room door. “Hello? Is anyone in here? I heard someone yelling and I thought… hello?” It was a woman.

Nicole scrambled to collect herself as the woman slowly started walking down the aisles toward her. She had just enough time to hide the notebook between two folded sheets on the shelf and wipe the tears from her face when a tall, middle-aged woman with brown hair peeked around the last aisle.

The woman smiled with recognition and put a hand on her chest. “Oh, it’s you! Stephen, what on earth are you doing in here?”

Nicole recognized the woman. Olivia. On the surface, she forced a smile, but deep within Stephen’s body, Nicole was fuming. She wanted to rip this depressing woman’s eyes out for intruding. Besides, this one had been fawning over Stephen since day one.

“Sorry, if I startled you,” Nicole answered. “I come in here to pray sometimes… you know… somewhere private. I must have fallen asleep and had a nightmare. Must have been a good one if you heard me. Was I really loud?”

Olivia laughed. “No. I only heard you because I was passing by. Are you alright, Stephen?”

I loathe the way she says his name, as if by doing so, they have become immediate best friends, Nicole thought.

“Yes… I’m okay now,” she said. “And how about you? Why are you still up and about?”

Olivia shook her head shamefully. “After our talk, I needed to walk it all off and… I don’t know… get my head back on straight. I appreciate how much you help me, Stephen, and I’m trying not to lose hope.”

Skank! Get the fuck out of here! Nicole nodded and said, “Well, anything I can do to help. That’s what I’m here for.”

Olivia nodded and quickly said, “I didn’t mean to disturb you. I’m sure you want to get back to praying so I’ll just leave you in peace.” She started to leave.

“Do you think they suffered much?”

Olivia turned. “Excuse me?”

“Your poor kids. You know… when you left them all alone to die in those woods, do you think the dead ate them right away, or after they slaughtered them first?”

Olivia’s face went pale. “But you told me… why would you say such an awful thing?”

“Fuck what I said before.” Nicole rolled her eyes and sighed. “Honestly, I would’ve told you anything to get you to stop fucking crying. Of course they’re dead. You left them out there by themselves and the fucking monsters ripped them to pieces. Everyone knows this but you… stupid bitch.”

Olivia looked like she had just been struck across the cheek. Her eyes started to water up.

“And there you go again… crying… like that’s going to help.” Nicole mocked, “Poor, poor, Olivia. Someone feel sorry for me and take care of me like I failed to take care of my children. You fucking kill your kids and then what… feel sorry for yourself? You’ve got some fucking nerve, lady.”

“I… I’m… sorry.” Olivia broke down into tears and fell on her knees.

Nicole stood up and walked over the weeping woman and knelt down beside her. “Yeah… you’re sorry, alright! I will never understand how worthless people like you survive while so many good, decent people die. I mean, you couldn’t even keep your damn kids safe!”

Olivia nodded through tears. “I know… I know… I failed them! Just please… stop.”

Nicole put her mouth near Olivia’s ear and said, “Here’s a thought: Can you imagine what it was like for those poor defenseless kids when they turned to find you and you were… gone? And then when the monsters came… and all they could do was cower and call out, ‘Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!’”

“Please… just go away… and let me die,” Olivia pleaded.

“I can almost hear those kids screaming,” Nicole whispered. “Can you hear them, Olivia? Can you hear your children screaming while those things feasted on their flesh?”

“STOP!”

“You don’t deserve to be here, Olivia. In fact, none of you do. But here you are… while little Ben and Cassie’s rotting corpses lie spread out across some dark forest. And all you can do is… cry like a little bitch.”

Olivia lifted her tear-streaked face. “Why? Why would you do this to me? Why would you say such horrible things?”

Nicole mocked concern. “You did it to yourself, Olivia. You betrayed your family and this is all that’s left. You know what you should do now, don’t you?”

“What?”

“I think you know. You’ve known all along.”

“Yes… I… I know.”

“Then have the courage for once to do something about it.”

~~~

Next Episode 32-4

Previous Episode 32-2

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 32-3: Wasteland” 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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Comments
  1. nashmcgowan says:

    I am envious of the readers who say they understand where you are going. lol, I don’t have a clue….but I likes what what your doing so I’ll keep reading. I really like the Nicole character but damn that was cold!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew Nicole would start something like this! Shit…

    Like

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