Chapter 33-7: Detour

Posted: October 24, 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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~~~

The interior of the vehicle was cramped and hot. There was a strong odor of animal shit or something much worse. The smell alone was enough to make him want to vomit into the sack placed over his head. Nine tried to free his hands again with no success as he felt the zip-ties digging into his wrists which were firmly secured behind his back. His bare feet were also bound with another long tie connecting his feet to his wrists, forcing him to remain in a very uncomfortable kneeling position, or lying on his side when he was put under. The harder he struggled the tighter his bindings became.

He’d been awake for an hour this time. This was the longest he’d been allowed to remain awake since he was first put here. Each time his captor returned to the van, he checked on him briefly and then stuck a needle in his arm. Whatever was injected into him, knocked him out cold. But this time, the man was gone so long that Nine began to wonder what he’d do if the man never returned.

Stop panicking and think, he scolded himself. Nine leaned his head up against the side of the van and managed to lift the sack up enough to expose one eye. The interior of the van was dark. He tried not to move and let his one eye adjust. That’s when he noticed the body bag on the other side of the van.

“Shit!” he hissed, nearly falling over on his side. The sack fell back over his head. “Relax, Scooby Doo. It’s just a body… lots of bodies in our exciting new world today.” And then he thought he heard movement coming from the bag. “Hello… is anyone in here with me?” he whispered.

Before he could call out again, Nine jumped to the sound of crunching footfalls approaching the rear of the van. Judging by the sounds, he assumed they were either in or near the woods.

The back door of the van squealed on rusty hinges as he felt fresh air rush in and sunlight penetrate the sack.

Well, now we know that it’s day time, for whatever that’s worth.

He felt someone step up into the van and approach. Nine tensed up, expecting the plunge of another needle. Instead, the old sack was pulled off his head, causing him to squint his eyes in the light.

“Is that better?” a deep voice asked. “Just nod or I’ll put the fucking thing back on.”

Nine nodded and managed to say, “Thank… thank you.” He tried to focus on the big shape in front of him until his eyes focused on a large man sitting on what looked like a bucket. The man was resting his arms on his knees. Nine attempted to look up into the face of his captor and found a bald man with thick, dark visors and a red bandana tied around his nose and mouth. “After a little kidnapping, do you plan on robbing the stage coach next?” The reasonable part of his brain which always tried to tell the impulsive part to ‘shut the fuck up’, always communicated much too late. Every time Nine was under stress, or scared shitless, he succumbed to ‘diarrhea of the mouth’, as his mother used to remind him. “Sorry,” he quickly said. “You take hostages. I tell jokes. It’s a mad, mad world out there… and… I’m just making things worse, aren’t I?”

The man quickly pulled out a rather large hunting knife and then gave him a strange look as if wondering if he should stick another needle in him or put the knife through his ear. He did neither.

“You fancy yourself a funny guy,” he said. “I don’t mind funny. Make me laugh, funny guy, and I won’t cut off a finger.”

“Here’s two… here’s two things that won’t surprise you,” Nine blurted nervously. “One: I’m about to shit myself. Two: you’re about to see it coming out of my ears.”

Nine was surprised by what came next. Instead of cutting off a precious digit, as he started to consider how strange counting by ten minus one on his hands from now on might be like, the man actually… laughed.

He closed his eyes as the man lunged in toward him with the knife and cut the tie connecting his feet to his hands. “Go ahead, funny guy, stretch out. Your legs have got to be throbbing by now.”

Nine obliged, as he felt sensation slowly return to his numb legs.

“Is that better?”

Nine was a fast learner… most of the time. He quickly nodded.

“Good!” the man said. “Now, I’m going to cut your feet loose so we can step outside and talk. If you try to run… I’ll hobble you. Understand?”

Nine nodded.

The man cut the ties around his feet and then got up and stepped out of the van, mercifully putting his large knife back in the sheath he wore on his side. “When you get some circulation back, step on out. And don’t bring anything you think could be a weapon out with you. Understood?”

Nine nodded.

“Oh… and don’t wake the meat up. I’ll have to slit his throat early if you do.”

The man disappeared from view as Nine listened to his footfalls walking away from the van. The man stopped and Nine could hear him pissing into the woods. He turned toward the body bag. Was he fucking with me or is there really someone alive in there? That’s some creepy shit. He called him ‘meat’! Nice to meet you, Meat. Or do you prefer Mr. Meat Loaf? Dead Meat, perhaps?

“Shut up, idiot,” he scolded himself. He turned to the meat and whispered, “Hey, if you’re alive… please keep pretending that you’re not. I’m a friend. I’ll do what I can to get us out of this. But if you’re dead… please don’t pull any of that ‘sitting up straight’ shit. I scare easily and hate all those kind of horror movies.”

Nine waited for a response from the bag… anything. Only then did he consider something else. Holy shit! What if he reanimates? What if this is some poor dead schmuck that got iced by this dude an hour ago, and then he suddenly comes back… right here… in this damn freaky-ass van with me sitting here!

The man was returning.

Nine quickly looked around the van for anything he would certainly not use as a weapon and found various tools, scattered nuts and screws, bloody rags…

“Let’s go, funny guy. Out of the van… now!”

…notebooks, extra zip-ties (hooray!), one bucket, a portable CB radio (not good).

He made his way to the back of the van and continued to process and count everything he’d seen as he stepped down and steadied his wobbly legs by holding on to the back door.

The man was there immediately. He grabbed Nine’s left arm and pulled him forward and then pushed him back and down until he was sitting on another bucket.

The man sat down on a third bucket three feet in front of him. He continued to wear the dark visors and the bandana.

Nine took in his surroundings, trying hard not to appear obvious. They weren’t in the woods. It was a wooded cul-de-sac at the end of a one-lane dirt road. He didn’t believe they were anywhere near Whaler’s Cove any longer.

The man gave him a long probing look and finally said, “Now, you and I are going to chat. I will ask. You will answer truthfully. Understood?”

Nine nodded.

“If you lie to me, I will know. Understood?”

Nine nodded.

“Good. Good. Now, tell me how many are in your group?”

“Group?” Nine said. He regretted it immediately.

The man got up and backhanded him so hard that he fell off the bucket.

“That’s your freebee,” the man said. “I ask. You answer. Don’t you dare answer me with another question ever again. Understood?”

Nine nodded. The left side of his face was on fire.

The man helped him back up and on to the bucket. He then removed the scary knife from his sheath and threw it into the dirt between them. “Next misunderstanding, I take a piece of your flesh. Let’s try this again. How many are in your group?”

He hated questions requiring a number for an answer. What does he mean? How many in my group from the compound? How many from the ranch? How many from Whaler’s Cove? How many from Chess Club back in seventh grade? FUCK!!! Damn numbers are always changing! Think… think… think!

The man was growing impatient. “You don’t want to play this game with me, funny man. How many of you fuckers were trespassing on my land before you launched those flares?”

Bingo! A clear point of reference!

“Seven!” he quickly blurted out. And then it dawned on him who this man was.

Fuck… I’m so screwed. Play this straight. If he knows that I fired those flares, than he was probably watching us for a while.

The man paused as if deciding if he liked his answer or not. “So you weren’t signaling anyone else? A larger group waiting a few miles back?”

“No. The flares were a distraction… so my friends could get away from the dead.”

After an eternity, the man finally responded. “I believe you. Very good. Keep being truthful and this will continue to be a pleasant conversation. Understood?”

Nine nodded.

“Do you know who I am?”

He swallowed hard. “You’re… you’re the bad man.”

The bad man laughed. “I haven’t heard that in a long, long time.”

“I don’t mean to offend,” Nine quickly defended. “It’s not that I’m calling you a bad man, it’s just that…well… we never knew your name… just that one. I’m sure proper introductions are long overdue. My name is-”

“Names mean nothing now,” the bad man said. “New rule: No names. You no longer matter, meat. Whatever name you thought mattered… is gone. Understood?”

Nine nodded.

“I was once the ‘bad man’ because the meat needed a name to fear. But that was before some of you became my children. And now they only speak that name when punishment is coming. Do you need to be punished, meat?”

“No, Mr. Bad Man… Sir… I mean… shit…”

The bad man lifted his hand. “It’s alright. You fear me… and rightly so. That is the name appropriate for you. The rest of you should also call me the ‘bad man’… especially when I get a hold of them for what they’ve done.”

Nine wisely remained silent.

“Was it Tony who decided to come back here, murder my children, and burn my home down?”

Nine hesitated, then nodded. He wasn’t aware of what had happened in the house… but this sounded like Gina.

“Good. I’m glad it’s him. I haven’t thought about that fat piece of meat for a long time. Thought for sure he died that night when the dead ones came. Now, she will be so happy that he’s come back…so happy.” The bad man looked lost in ancient thoughts.

Nine had never been so terrified. Even the yellow-eyed haters were tame compared to this lunatic. He started to wonder what happened to the others, which led him back to the mystery meat in the van.

Nine nervously chuckled at his own pun.

“More jokes, funny guy? Please… share.”

Fuck me for being cursed with a warped sense of humor.

“I… I was thinking about the man… I mean… the meat… in the van.”

“And that’s funny?”

“Well… you called him ‘meat’. I didn’t know who it was, and thought… ‘mystery meat’.”

The bad man erupted into laughter, causing his bandana to slide down his face. A large chunk of flesh had been bitten off around his right cheek, revealing teeth and gums on that side of his face.

Nine felt all the humor leave his body forever.

The bad man stopped laughing when he saw Nine’s horrified expression and quickly replaced the bandana. “Terrifying, isn’t it?” he teased. “I normally don’t care. But I’ve discovered that the bandana makes people more comfortable around me. I have my darling wife to thank for both of my abnormalities. He then pulled down the bandana and removed the visor revealing his mercury madness eyes.

The completed image was monstrous. Nine looked away.

The bad man laughed and replaced the bandana and visor. “You should see your face… priceless.”

“Whatever you say.” Nine was trying not to vomit.

He sighed, getting bored with his captive. “You’re not so funny, funny man. So tell me, meat, who are they? Who are these people that Tony travels with? Do they mean something to him? Oh… I sure hope so. That would make this much more… entertaining… when I reclaim that big piggy.”

“They’re trained killers,” Nine blurted out, not enjoying the threats to his friends. “If you’re smart, you’ll leave them alone. They came here to kill you.”

“Watch your tone, meat,” the bad man said. “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.”

“Noted.”

“Not very effective killers,” he prodded. “Seven, you say? Well, not counting you, they’re already down to three. No… not very effective killers at all. My darling wife had some fun with them, yes she did.”

Nine flashed him an alarming look. Diane?

The bad man laughed. “Well… well… well… they mean something to you, that’s for sure.”

“What did you do to them?”

“Which one?” the bad man countered. “Which one are you concerned about? Hmm? Which one, I wonder. Is she still alive? Is she being nibbled on as we speak? I wonder.”

Nine’s eyes lit up as he glared back. “If you hurt her…”

The bad man stormed toward him, grabbing his knife, and knocked him to the ground. He put his blade to his throat and shouted, “FINISH THAT SENTENCE, MEAT! FINISH THAT SENTENCE AND I’LL BE WEARING YOUR FLESH WHEN I SLAUGHTER THE REST OF THEM!”

Nine closed his eyes. He tried to hold back his fear and anger as he felt himself losing control. Just the thought of his angel, Diane, already counted among the slain was enough to send him teetering over the edge of madness as he was tempted to speak up and force the bad man to finish him off.

“Thirty-two screws; forty-four nuts; two screwdrivers; one wrench; two hammers…” he mumbled.

“What? What are you going on about?” The bad man eased up on the knife at his throat, clearly confused by the young man’s ramblings.

“…four bloody rags; three notebooks; twenty zip ties; one portable CB radio; one bucket–three counting the two we’re sitting on…”

“Shut up!” the bad man threatened.

“… and one body.” Nine finally took a breath. “That’s it.” He’d counted everything before leaving the van, as was his way for dealing with stressful situations.

“Fucking wack-job.” The bad man retreated with the knife, shaking his head at the unexpected turn of events. “Get back on the bucket, Mr. Calculator. Congratulations, you’ve officially bored the hell out of me.”

Nine slowly got up and returned to the bucket. He sat down cautiously, believing the bad man would simply charge him again.

The bad man started pacing a short distance away.

Nine watched him, surprised he was still alive. He’d spewed out the numbers… any numbers he could grab a hold of… and it had saved him. He felt some much needed self-control seize him as he focused on breathing and tried not to think of Diane.

The bad man stopped. Without looking at him, he said, “Tony, the red-headed woman, and the girl with the fancy rifle are all… still alive.” He turned to measure the young man’s reaction.

Nine could not hide his relief.

“I gave you something. Now you give me something in return.”

“What’s that?” Nine asked.

“Which one? Which one does he care about?”

Nine was exhausted. He didn’t know if remaining silent would cost him, but he refused to give this monster any advantage. He chose to remain silent.

“Answer. Answer or I’ll skin them both. Make you and Tony watch. Answer… and I may let the women live. They’re of no concern to me. It’s Tony that matters.”

He blurted out, “The red-head. Tony cares about her very much.”

“And the brown-haired woman? She matters to you, yes?”

“They all matter to me.”

The bad man smiled. “Your face tells me the truth. You care for her more.”

“Yes… I care for her.”

The bad man started laughing.

Nine was confused. “What’s so funny?”

He turned and said, “I normally don’t partake, but when I catch them, I will feed on one.”

Nine shook.

“Yes… I’ll save Tony for her… but the rest of you are free game. If you cooperate, I will let you have your woman back… and feast upon the red-head. Yes, that would be better. I want him to see it. I want Tony to watch me devour her. But you… and the other one… could leave, if you help me get what I want.”

Nine stared at the ground, feeling trapped.

“If you don’t help me, I’ll save the other one for later… and feed her to the dogs.”

Nine closed his eyes. He had no choice. He had to save Diane. That’s what Tony would do, he consoled himself. They were all dead if he did nothing. “I’ll help.”

The bad man smiled like the devil. “Good! Good! A wise decision.” He came back over and sat down on the bucket. “We’ve things to do. You will help me do them… and then you will do exactly what I say, and then it will all be over.”

Nine frowned.

“You help me. I help her. Deal?”

Nine looked into the bad man’s visor and saw his desperate reflection staring back at him. There’s only one choice to make, he thought. Nine finally answered. “Deal.”

~~~

Next Episode 33-8

Previous Episode 33-6

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 33-7: 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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