Chapter 32-5: Wasteland

Posted: September 28, 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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Unknown12

~~~

April 26, 2013
10:45pm

Sad day. We lost Olivia Browning early this morning. She took her own life. That makes seven suicides now. It’s hard for me to understand what went wrong. I just spoke with her a few hours prior to her death and she seemed much better.

Logan postponed his usual Sunday sermon until tomorrow afternoon. We had a brief memorial service for Olivia instead. It was rather depressing. Very few people attended.

I don’t blame them for not coming. No one needs another reminder of death.

A couple of people who knew her better than most said some words. Logan quoted some scripture. Afterwards, a couple of Logan’s men unceremoniously took her body topside, strapped a heavy rock across her chest, and then they tossed Olivia into the nearby river.

No one was allowed up there for any longer than a few minutes at a time. Gina didn’t want anyone or anything spotting our people in the Wasteland… even to dig a proper grave. We needed the world ‘out there’ to believe that the Wasteland was void of all life. And so far, no one knew we were here.

So we said our goodbyes to Olivia… and that is that.

I guess the day wasn’t a complete loss. By sheer luck or by God’s grace (as Logan likes to remind me), I managed to talk down an angry mob.

Carl Lannister won’t be satisfied until he destroys this community. For the moment, he’s standing down. But I know it’s just a matter of time before he spreads his poison again. We’ll just have to be ready for him.

Until then, there’s the small matter of the ‘election’ that I promised these people. What the hell was I thinking?

Since the mess hall mob disbursed, people have been approaching me all day like I’m some sort of celebrity! They keep congratulating me and telling me I have their votes when the election starts.

Not once did I mention anything about personally running for leadership…

~~~

…“You most certainly did, my love,” Nicole said, stepping in and sitting down beside him in front of the control console. “The moment you stood up to that asshole, Lannister, everyone knew just what kind of man you truly were… a leader.”

Stephen smiled with a longing sigh. Nicole’s long brown hair flowed over the thin shoulder straps of her black tank-top and down toward her low revealing neckline. Her skin was darker than usual, as though she’d just returned from a day at the beach. She was wearing low-cut jean shorts as she crossed one bare leg over the other, torturing him through his eyes. “I haven’t seen you like this before,” he said. “It’s very… appealing.”

She smiled. “I thought you’d enjoy this look. After the day you had, I thought a little eye-candy might be a fitting reward.”

Stephen rubbed his eyes and forced himself to look away. “Now I just need my heart rate to slow a bit so I can look at you again,” he teased. He quickly changed the subject. “What do you mean, ‘leader’?”

“Oh, you know exactly what I mean,” she said. “I’ve only been telling you forever how strong you are, how much potential you have, and today you proved it to yourself. I’m very proud of you, Stephen.”

He nodded, embarrassed, and then looked into her loving eyes and saw how much she meant it. “Thank you,” he said. “Without you… there is no way in hell I could’ve done that today. And that’s the truth.”

Nicole was beaming at the compliment. “The reason they’re congratulating you is obvious. They want you for their leader. Not Gina. Not Lannister. They want that man they saw today who spoke compassionately about and for them. That’s why we have to leave this place… now.”

Stephen gave her a strange look. “What do you mean… are you saying ‘right now’? You know I can’t do that. I have every intention of going away with you, but I’m in charge until the others get back. I can’t leave now.”

Nicole frowned. “Alright… then after. When Gina returns and relieves you from command, you simply tell her that it’s time to go find your own path. She’ll have to honor your wishes since you singlehandedly saved this place while she was away.”

“But you just said I’d make a great leader. I’m confused.”

“It’s because they all see you now that we have to leave,” Nicole explained. “If you allow them to elevate you to leadership… and they will eventually… we’ll never be able to be together.”

Stephen smiled. “That won’t happen. I won’t allow it.”

She shook her head and laughed. “Oh, my love, I know you believe that with all your heart. But you won’t be able to stop this train once you get on board. They will demand so much from you and never let us go. Just look at what leadership has done to Gina.”

“But I’m not Gina.”

“Yes, that certainly is true. But leadership changes people. My love, I don’t want you to bear the weight of this community. It will crush you, as it does Gina, as it will with anyone who leads. If we don’t escape this now, it will come between us. And I don’t want anything to ever come between us again. Please… just promise me that you’ll come away with me when Gina gets back.”

Stephen gave her a long hard look. He hadn’t realized until now just how much he really wanted to lead these people into something better… something more like the world they knew before. But maybe Nicole was right. In fact, he knew that she was. History was no better confirmation of that fact. All he had to do was look at the lives of the well-intentioned leaders of the past to understand that with leadership came a heavy, heavy price.

He finally smiled and said, “I promise, Nicole. When Gina returns, we’ll get out of here. As soon as she gives us the green light that it’s safe to do so, we’re gone.”

Nicole wanted to embrace him as tears of joy fell from her beautiful eyes.

He felt her need, as well as his own need to reach out and touch her. Silently he wondered, and not for the first time, if their lack of a physical relationship was already coming between them. Stephen wisely let it go.

“I want to make love to you so bad,” she confessed.

Stephen reacted as if struck. He closed his eyes while his groin ached. “Nicole… you can’t say such things. It’s hard enough… suppressing my desire for you in that way… please promise me that you won’t dress like this again or say such things… please.”

Nicole felt rejected. She knew he was right, but hearing the words brought the truth home hard. “It’s just as frustrating for me, too, Stephen. Just because I’m not… like you… anymore, doesn’t mean I don’t burn with the same desires.”

He opened his eyes and was surprised to find her dressed modestly in a conservative pair of jeans and a blouse. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. Of course you feel the same. That was very insensitive of me.”

“Can you continue to love me like this, Stephen?”

“What?”

“Do you long to touch other women? Did you want to fuck Olivia?”

Stephen was upset. Before he exploded on her, he turned back to the console. “That was uncalled for and truly unfair. I think you better leave.”

Nicole looked down at her feet. “I’m… I’m sorry, Stephen. You’re right. That was a stupid thing to say. I guess I’m just jealous… of all of them. They clearly want you and can have you… touch you… but I can’t. I hate it sometimes and it makes me say impulsive things.”

“We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?”

“Forgive?”

Stephen looked at her and nodded. “Yes. I forgive you. Always. I’m just… I’m just so damn tired and it’s making me cranky and oversensitive. Seems like every time I lie down, I’m waking right back up again. I need to sleep for twenty-four hours straight to catch up.”

Nicole smiled. “I understand. Please don’t stay up too late with that awful book of yours, alright?”

Stephen slammed it closed. “All done. Pillow, here I come.”

She laughed. “Goodnight, my love.”

Stephen turned and Nicole was gone.

“Goodnight, Nicole,” he whispered and blew her a kiss.

Before leaving the control room, Stephen turned up the radio volume, hoping to hear the voices of his friends all alone out there.

Static.

Where the hell are you, Gina?

Only then did he realize the full extent and consequences of the promises he made to both Nicole and the community. Nicole would be upset with him for breaking his promise to leave. But worse than that was the thought of how completely pissed off Gina would be after discovering that he would be running against her for leadership.

~~~

Carl Lannister sat in the mess hall reading a Stephen King novel about a man who came out of a coma with the ability to see the future. He found the plot slow and depressing, like this place, and he could care less about the fortune-teller lead. But Carl was fascinated with the thug-like adversary on his rise to claiming the presidency of the United States.

Now there’s a man with ambition and the balls to do whatever’s necessary to get what he wants, he thought.

He’d already read this one nine times and always stopped before his favorite character was killed as he tried to imagine an alternate ending where the nemesis became the president and immediately issued an executive order to terminate everyone with psychic abilities.

Carl tossed the book on the table and thought about the witch in the clinic. If she can do even a tenth of what people say she did before we all moved down here, then someone should’ve put a bullet in her skull a long time ago.

Indeed, but first things first. Meredith possessed knowledge of this place. She was the reason they’d gained access to the compound and it was clear that she was withholding the rest. If Carl could have his way, he’d have no problem strapping Meredith up to a cot and pulling her fingernails out until she told them how to open the only door in the facility they could not access.

“Fucking door,” he said. “What the hell’s down there? Weapons? Gold? Another damn bomb?”

It drove him nuts not knowing what was lurking beneath the facility and Carl could not understand why Gina didn’t make it a priority to question the witch night and day until she gave up those secrets.

All in good time, he thought. First, I need to remove that red-headed bitch from power, then, we can deal with the old bitch and her pet monster.

He looked at his watch: 1:55am. His contact would be relieved in five minutes.

Lannister exited the mess hall and headed into the eastern section of the facility. By the time he reached the laundry room, his contact was already there waiting for him.

“You weren’t followed?” He was a tall man with shoulder length blonde hair and a full beard.

“You worry too much, Sabastian,” Lannister said with a laugh. “The world isn’t out to get you.”

“Actually, this fucking world is out to get me. The dead made sure of that, remember.” Sabastian started pulling nervously on his beard.

“Figure of speech, friend. But if it makes you feel better, then yes, I’m alone,” Lannister said. “What’s the good word? Are we still on for tomorrow?”

“It’s all arranged. I’ll be assigned to the armory while Logan’s preaching. My man, Silas, will be at the exit, just in case our fearless leader finally returns. No one’s getting in or out until it’s over.”

“Sounds good,” Lannister said. “As long as your man, Silas, doesn’t open that door, we shouldn’t have any problems.”

Sabastian hesitated.

“Second thoughts?” Lannister asked.

“It’s just that… well… why are we moving up the timetable? I thought we were waiting another few weeks… you know… until we recruited a few more people.”

Lannister sighed. “You can thank Mr. Eddington. I underestimated him. He caught me off guard, pitching the election idea.”

“Well… won’t the election solve the problem for us? All we’d have to do is campaign against her. No one in their right mind will ever vote for Gina… not unless they’ve enjoyed her fucking ‘do as I say, not as I do’ dictatorship. Besides, Eddington might be a better fit for us. We could back him and mold him in to whatever we want.”

“I hear you, friend. We could do far worse than Eddington in charge. The people love him already. Hell, even Logan likes him. But… Gina will never stand for it. As soon as she returns and the school teacher starts babbling on about a public election, she will shut this place down hard. I fear that Mr. Eddington’s days are numbered. I won’t be surprised if we wake up one morning to discover him gone.”

“You think she’d do that… again?”

Lannister nodded. “She’s nothing more than a bully looking for an easy fight she can win. She’ll devour Eddington for defying her, especially since she trusts him, and then she’ll banish him. And we know what Gina’s idea of banishment really is. After that, she’ll come for the rest of us.”

Sabastian nodded. “So this is the only way?”

“I’m afraid we’ll never get a better opportunity. In fact, if we wait for Gina to return and Eddington speaks with her, we’ll never have another.”

“Agreed.”

“What about Logan?”

Sabastian laughed. “He’s all about God, not politics. When we first arrived here we tried to talk him into taking over the place when we saw this worthless lot of survivors… no offense.”

“None taken.”

“Anyway, he wanted nothing to do with it. He went right to Gina and thanked her for trusting him and letting us all down here. He said that he would help in any way he could and before we knew it, we became her security bitches. My boys we’ll take the armory and the clinic. With your people, we’ll lock down Cubicle City while they’re all in there listening to Logan preach. He’s not going to resist if it means people will get hurt. We’ll have all the guns and Logan will recognize that.”

“What about his loyalists?”

“Yeah, there’s a handful who aren’t on board with the plan. If Logan tells them to jump off a fucking bridge, they’ll do it… no questions asked. But after we seize the population, Logan will tell the rest to stand down or he risks starting a gunfight. He won’t allow it. Logan abhors violence.”

Lannister nodded and started pacing. “I don’t expect any resistance from the school teacher. I’ll pull him aside and ask him to surrender peacefully. I’m sure he will. After that, he will make a public announcement and appoint me as acting leadership. Can you get Logan to honor this?”

Sabastian nodded. “Yeah… he won’t like it… but he’ll honor it. Anything to keep the peace.”

“And you’re sure of this?”

“He’ll give you his word. Once he does, Logan will keep it. He’s good like that. Then he’ll order the others to hand over their weapons and it will be a done deal.”

“Seems too simple, too easy,” Lannister said. “What’s the catch?”

“Gaining control won’t be the problem. But keeping it after holding people at gunpoint… well… that’s where you come in. People aren’t going to be too happy about it.”

“I know. But that’s the beauty of it all. Once we’ve established control, I will explain to the community that our only motives were to ensure that the elections would actually happen. I’ll tell them that the only way this could happen was to take back ‘our’ community by force… and kick Gina out. Believe me, they’ll be eating out of our hands after that.”

“And when Gina returns?”

Lannister smiled. “We won’t allow her to come back. We’ll give her enough food and supplies and banish her. We’ll offer the others immunity if they renounce her leadership, which I won’t expect they’ll do, and then they’ll all be out.”

“And what about Eddington?”

“We’ll offer him the same choice. He can renounce her leadership, stay, and run for leadership himself, or, he can go help rule the Wasteland with Gina.”

Sabastian nodded with a smile. “I like it. This just might work.”

“Oh, it will, friend… it will.”

“Alright then. Until tomorrow.”

“Until tomorrow,” Lannister agreed.

Sabastian departed, peeking around every corner to feed his paranoia.

Lannister considered the rest:

He’d already made arrangements with the two idiots who he’d coaxed into volunteering to join Gina’s war party. While they were all out chasing phantom broadcasts, should an opportunity present itself for Gina to meet an untimely accident, they were instructed to take advantage of the situation.

And as far as Eddington was concerned, Sabastian already mentioned that they could mold him into whatever they desired. And if he wasn’t cooperative, and he would make damn sure that he wasn’t, Lannister would feed his self-righteous ass to that dead thing in the clinic and make sure the witch took the fall for it, too.

~~~

Next Episode 33-1

Previous Episode 32-4

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 32-5: 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. Gylion says:

    The lannisters send their regards

    Like

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