Chapter 33-4: Detour

Posted: October 13, 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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hunters-blind

~~~

“What the fuck is that?” Hagar asked. “Shit… shit!”

The bell continued to ring causing them all to panic.

Gina immediately grabbed the binoculars from Diane and looked across the pond.

The dead in the street had stopped, turned, and were staring toward the chapel. The former woman, the yellow-eyed demon who had once saved Tony’s life, took a few steps toward the strange sound and cocked her head to the side. The rest of the dead who had been going through the houses were now returning to the street.

Gina’s nerves were on edge. For a moment, it seemed as though the woman were staring directly at her.

The bell suddenly stopped.

“I don’t see anyone up there,” Diane said, aiming her rifle toward the bell tower.

Gina continued to stare at Helen. Oh please, God, let them turn away. It’s just a stupid bell… nothing more.

All at once Helen turned toward the horde gathered behind her and began frantically waving her hands at them until they were all riled up. She then pointed one bony arm at the chapel.

The dead began to race toward the pond, splitting at the middle of the road that curved around both sides.

Fuck me! Gina turned toward the others. “We need to hide… right now!”

“Gina,” Marcus was pointing toward the closest house.

She was already moving. “Everyone, get inside! If we’re lucky, they’ll go straight for the chapel and we might have time to get out of here.”

They were all moving now. No one looked toward the pond as they heard the mob of yellow-eyed monsters making inhuman sounds that made their skin crawl.

When they reached the front door of a large two-story house, Marcus turned the knob.

It was unlocked.

They quickly entered and hunkered down in the living room as Gina locked the front door. “Watch the windows!” she hissed. “Stay low and out of sight!”

They all took up fighting positions near the front windows as Gina remained near the door, her gun drawn, her heart pounding in her chest.

The dead stormed past their location. Howls of madness ripped across the day. One of them leaped onto the front porch of the house and scurried across, jumping back into the front lawn and screaming with hunger.

“Holy fuck,” Diane whispered. She was trying to keep her hands from shaking as she lost count of the dead which sprinted across her rifle sites. “There’s so many.”

“Gina,” Marcus was pointing toward the back of the house. “We can make it into the woods if the dead haven’t cut off the backyard yet. I remember seeing this house before. The yard’s fenced in and might provide cover. But we’ll have to hurry.”

Gina nodded, trying to stay calm and not let her terror seize her. You can’t afford to panic, bitch. Get it together or you’ll get them all killed. She looked around for Tony and found him standing one of the couches up on its side.

“Hagar!” he called.

Hagar couldn’t stop pacing. He had the look of a man who wanted to shoot everything. He turned to Tony, breathing hard.

“Calm down,” Tony said. “Get over her and help me move this.”

With Hagar’s help, Tony moved the large couch and laid it against the front door. He looked to Gina and watched her face go pale. “Gina?”

She wore a face that Tony never wanted to see again. She was staring at him like he was already dead.

“Fuck… they stormed the chapel… tore the door off like it was nothing.” Diane was taking deep breaths to steady her aim. “Whoever rang that bell better be long gone by now.”

Gina finally looked away from the man she loved and said, “Let’s get to the back… while we still have time.”

They moved away from the living room, carefully watching every corner and window with guns raised, until they reached a sliding glass door. Beyond was a large glassed-in patio, with an in-ground pool. Surrounding the greenhouse looking structure was an eight-foot tall wooden fence.

They stepped out on to the patio and stopped. The smell reached them first.

“Dear God,” Tony whispered, putting a hand over his nose and mouth.

They stood frozen before the pool. It was full of decomposed bodies.

There were twenty-five men, women and children floating in the large pool, their bloated and rotting corpses staring up into the sky. Their disfigured faces were surprisingly serene as if they were simply enjoying a last minute apocalyptic swim before the end.

“They did not struggle,” Marcus said, staring into their collective lifeless eyes. “They weren’t drowned or shot… they went to meet Death without resistance.”

Gina stared at him.

Marcus smiled and then pointed past her toward a glass door which exited near another door in the wooden fence. Beyond were the woods. “Give me two minutes, Gina. I’ll make sure the woods are clear.”

“Do it,” she said.

Marcus quickly crossed the patio with Diane. After letting himself out the gate, Diane provided cover from the fence.

Hagar was the first to notice the plastic cups scattered about the patio. He picked one up and sniffed it, causing him to make a gagging sound.

“What is it?” Gina asked him.

“Hold on.” Hagar looked around and found what he was looking for. There was a long table in the corner of the patio where a large punch bowl had been placed. There was red liquid and mold running across the surface of the table, surrounding the bowl and several tipped over plastic cups. Floating in the large bowl were ancient dead bugs within the bowl which were also scattered about the table. “Whatever was in the punch killed these insects.”

“Poison?” Tony asked.

“That would be my guess.” Hagar nodded toward the pool. “Looks like they took the coward’s way out. Fuckin’ pussies.”

Tony bent down for a closer look at the corpses. “This happened months ago… probably before the winter storms. Why did they give up so soon? They couldn’t have known then what we do now.”

Gina was staring at the remains of a little blond-haired girl floating face first in the pool. Her arms and legs were completely extended, a teddy bear still attached to her right hand.

“We need to leave,” she whispered.

Marcus returned. “All clear. The dead are still at the chapel. Now’s our opportunity.”

“Okay.” Gina was relieved. “Now all we have to do is stay quiet and-”

The thunderous sound of a rifle resounded five times, shattering glass down upon them like rain.

“What the fuck?” Hagar cried out, trying to move out of the way of falling glass. “Who’s fucking shooting at us?”

“Not at us,” Gina said. “The glass.”

Tony’s face went grave. “With all this noise… the dead will be drawn right to us!”

“Let’s go!” Gina led them out the rear gate and into the woods.

Two minutes later, the dead surrounded the house and attacked. Fortunately, they discovered the decomposed bodies… and tore into them like buzzards.

~~~

They moved north through the woods for an hour, traveling farther away from the compound than Gina wanted, but she was not willing to risk cutting back over to the main road where the beasts might pick up their scent. They all agreed that it was no longer certain how cunning these monsters had become and if they’d set up a trap anticipating their need to get to the roadways.

They also agreed that they were being hunted.

It was too much of a coincidence that Helen and her horde had just happened to arrive at Whaler’s Cove to catch them by surprise.

There was also the matter of the mysterious shooter who had tried to give away their position. At present, he or they, could be anywhere.

Darkness was quickly settling over the woods and they desperately needed a place to lie low for the evening.

Near dusk, they caught a break as Diane grinned from ear to ear and said, “I knew if I kept looking hard enough I’d find one eventually!” She pointed up toward a large Oak tree, surrounded by several smaller trees.

At first, no one knew what Diane was so pleased about until Marcus saw the large Oak with several pieces of lumber nailed into the trunk. He looked up and followed the makeshift ladder until he discovered what looked like an ancient camouflaged treehouse cradled in the nook of three large branches, roughly thirty feet off the ground.

Before he could ask, Diane stepped over. “It’s a hunter’s blind,” she said. “By the looks of her she’s been in use for quite some time. Whoever assembled it took a little pride in its construction and concealment. It’s better than most I’ve seen, and one of the bigger ones as well. We’ve found our hideout for the night.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “You want all of us to go up… there?”

She smiled. “What’s the matter, afraid of heights?”

“No, just small outhouses built into trees where they don’t belong.”

Diane laughed. “Trust me, it’s bigger than it appears from down here… and sturdy, too.”

Gina shook her head as she craned her neck back to examine the small wooden box with narrow slats built into the four walls big enough for observation and for sticking a rifle out. It was decorated with old brush, primarily pine, and various other branches that were attached to the outside with some sort of wire. She looked to Diane. “You hunters take this shit seriously, don’t you?”

“Only when there’s serious game involved,” she said. “I noticed several old deer tracks and pine groves all over these woods as we passed. I don’t know what The Change has done to most of the wildlife, but this was once a big gaming area for sure. Regardless, that’s as safe as we’re going to get tonight. We’ll be off the ground, hidden from those bastards’ ability to smell us out, and perhaps have a chance to see them coming long before they see us. What says you, Gina?”

The others looked to her feeling as skeptical about climbing up into the old treehouse as she did. But she had to admit, if not for Diane, they never would’ve known it was there.

The others looked bone-tired and they were quickly losing the light. It wasn’t clear from their road map what else might be available in this area and the forest continued to loom large around them.

Gina smiled. “We’ve had to endure a lot of things, but I don’t think a night spent crammed into a tree fort will ever make the top ten list.”

~~~

Diane was correct; the hunter’s blind was much bigger than it appeared from the ground. After a nerve-wrecking climb up the wooden planks, all five of them were able to fit snugly into the 4 x 4 foot box, but standing was out of the question, since the ceiling was only five feet from the floor. Aside from some occasional creaking brought on by the wind, the blind was well constructed and after managing to spread their legs out by sitting side-by-side, everyone began to feel the monster of exhaustion steal over them.

Gina took the first watch as she positioned herself in front of the observation slot facing the way they’d traveled from. Most of the others had quickly fallen into a deep sleep, feeling safer than they’d felt since coming out of the compound. Diane was right; they were made invisible by the blind, and not a moment too soon as darkness began transforming the woods all around them.

Within an hour, night had swallowed up the forest floor as the last of twilight burned bright red in the western sky above and through the skeletal-looking trees still yet to bear their full spring attire. Gina was amazed by the view from up here. She’d never seen the forest from above and was grateful for a moment to feel anything… anything at all. Her moment of tranquility was quickly stolen away as the mouth of the night finally closed down tight over the day until everything surrendered to the dark. She could not even see her own hand in front of her face, let alone anything beyond the narrow slat which she suddenly wished she could close. It was the forest itself that bothered her. There was no sound… no sound at all.

When she was a kid her father had taken her out into the woods behind their home at sunset to fish at a nearby pond. It had become dark quicker than expected and little Gina was freaked out by all the nocturnal sounds.

Her father had said, “What’s the matter? All that noise is just the night animals’ way of celebrating being alive. They don’t get to play during the day… so that’s all they’re doing now, Gina.”

When she was young, she always tried to picture the many creatures she could not see in the dark, playing games with each other and having a good old time. It often made her laugh as she told her father what she pictured them doing in the dark.

Gina tore herself away from the memory of her father. My God, I hadn’t thought about that in a long, long time. She hated the way memories snuck up on her and made her feel… sad. That was all there was now was that deep sadness which wanted to bury the rest of the living until they were all smothered by them… those mother-fucking memories!

Aside from the predators of memory, Gina was more disconcerted by the awful silence that dominated most of the world now… especially the forest. It felt so unnatural to not hear all those night creatures from her youth playing in the dark. With the exception of a small number of infected animals who had survived the initial outbreak and had bitten humans, turning them into the same red-eyed monstrosities which once attacked her old group outside an abandoned boxcar a million years ago, most of the other animals had simply died off and no one knew why.

Gina tried not to peer out into the night, tried not to move and feed her over-tired imagination. She was afraid that whatever creatures now resided out there, would hear her breathing and climb the tree to devour them all.

A light snore from Hagar made her shift slightly. She relaxed and smiled, thinking, the true end of the world has finally happened: The day I find that asshole’s snoring… comforting.

Indeed, anything was preferable to the long silences left over in the wake of the dead.

“Gina?”

It was Tony. He sounded half-asleep.

“Gina? Are you still there?”

“Yes, Tony,” she whispered. “I’m still here. Everything’s alright. Go back to sleep.”

“Just… just making sure. Just… needed to make sure you were… still there.” The big man fell back to sleep.

Gina stared toward him in the dark. She reached for him, found his arm, and then moved her hand down until she found his hand and held it. “It’s alright… I’m not going anywhere,” she whispered to him.

She felt him respond by squeezing his hand gently around hers.

Gina failed to realize how tired she was until that moment. Her eyelids fell as she drifted away to a place where night creatures played and danced and sang the night away while she and Tony held hands and joined them, far from the dead places where silence consumed all joy.

~~~

Next Episode 33-5

Previous Episode 33-3

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 33-4: Detour” 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:

    I’m afraid that Nines will be used as bait…

    Like

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