Chapter 34-2: Secrets

Posted: November 3, 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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~~~

THEN…

…Walter Gorman had assembled the CB radio as a distraction, something to redirect his anger away from Helen’s disapproval of him and provide an excuse to distance himself from his city-addicted wife, while he tried to figure out how to save his marriage.

He had once believed that moving them out into the country would finally put a stop to her constant chatter about the ‘busy nightlife’ or those pretentious assholes she called her friends who always looked down their opinionated noses at him, the country bumpkin. But nothing had changed. Helen had refused to give any of it up and become a good, supportive wife.

Walter had no idea how to take care of a woman who needed him less and less as the bright lights of the infernal city refused to let her go. He’d tried to keep up with that erratic, ever-changing lifestyle for as long as he could, but he hated it… hated all of them and their fucking cities with their constant distractions and chaos.

When Walter had realized that the woman he loved could not be grounded and insisted on returning to the city every weekend, he’d become withdrawn, frustrated and desperate. He needed something he could keep up with, maintain… control. Out there, among the neon signs, noise, and conversations convoluted with intellectual emptiness and the latest ‘trends’, which constantly were at rebellion against any notion of peace and quiet, Walter could feel his mind becoming overloaded with so much meaningless bullshit. He’d often felt exhausted after long nights spent out in various clubs while his head was filled with what felt like a hive of bees set on fire.

So, Helen went back to that crazy life on the weekends, leaving Walter to hide within the sanctuary he’d created within the stables.

At first, he’d found listening to the various truckers communicating over late-night highways amusing. They all had ‘handles’ and spoke to each other in what first appeared to Walter as gibberish. But the more he listened, trying to decipher their strange conversations, the more he realized how much they were really conveying to each other over the airwaves. On the surface, ‘trucker speak’, as he called it, seemed almost nonsensical, but then he realized that they were actually relaying a lot of information in just a few short sentences. It was as if they spoke in a code that only those who roamed the Interstates would ever truly understand. Walter had become fascinated by this wonderful language that said so much with so very little. At the time, he vowed to learn this efficient language, obtain a clever handle, and then attempt to join in on these nightly sessions.

That was the plan until he heard a new voice interrupt the airwaves, speaking as efficiently as any trucker and having conversations with several of them at the same time. In fact, Walter found her fluency with the trucker language steps above the rest. She spoke with such eloquence that he’d become captivated by her voice, often waiting for her to arrive on the air.

He’d learned that her handle was ‘Morning Star’, and from what he’d gleamed from conversations, she was a late-night courier for a computer software company that operated in two locations between her home, here in Ashtabula County, and Columbus, Ohio. She made the three-hour trip to Columbus and back every evening, four times a week. As a means to alieve her boredom from the long drives, she’d installed a CB radio in her car to talk to anyone who would listen out on the open road.

One evening, while he’d been listening to various channels, Walter was caught off guard when he’d heard Morning Star chime in on an unusually quiet evening. What really surprised him was that she didn’t speak in the usual trucker code.

“Hello… is anyone out there listening tonight? Anybody?”

Walter had waited for anyone to respond.

“Anyone at all? Sometimes this is one hell of a lonely gig? I could really use a friend this evening if anyone’s listening.”

Walter hadn’t realized he’d picked up the CB receiver until he saw it in his hand.

“He… Hello,” he’d stammered. “You’re… You’re not alone.”

There was a pause followed by Morning Star’s enthusiastic voice. “Well hello to you as well, friend. Thanks for answering up. Was starting to think I was the only one up tonight. Who am I speaking with?”

He hadn’t anticipated answering the radio. Walter had no ‘handle’. He closed his eyes and searched his mental archives for anything that wouldn’t make him sound ridiculous. He opened his eyes and hit the transmit button. “This is… Concrete Jungle (a term he often used with Helen when talking about the city). How… how are you tonight?” He stopped transmitting and shook his head. You sound like an idiot.

After a much longer pause, she answered, “Concrete Jungle… I like that. I don’t believe we’ve met, C.J., I’m Morning Star.”

Walter smiled. She’s talking to you, moron. Not to them… to you!

Feeling like he’d just attracted the attention of a celebrity, Walter began speaking again. The more he did so, the easier it became.

They had conversed quite a bit that first lonely night. It was nothing serious, but enough for Walter to hear who Morning Star really was beneath the words, beneath the code. Enough to want to talk to her again the next night, and the night after that. By the end of the week, he’d learned quite a bit about Morning Star. She’d even let slip that her real name was Rebecca.

By the next weekend, Walter had decided they needed to meet next time she was in Ashtabula. He had to know the woman behind this remarkably calming voice.

“You there, C.J.?” she’d asked.

Walter had smiled. “Yes… glad you’re back.”

“Glad to be back.”

“We should meet?” he’d thrown in abruptly.

There was a long pause. “Okay, C.J., I’m game. How do you want to play this?”

Walter had already given this some thought. “Are you familiar with the Ashtabula Waffle House at 8177 Terrance Road?”

Another pause. “Yes, I know where that is.”

“Are you free on Friday?” he’d asked, knowing Helen would be off to the city by then.

“Sure. Pick a time, C.J.”

They’d agreed to meet Friday evening. Walter had shown up at the Waffle House an hour early. He hadn’t felt this nervous and excited since he’d first approached Helen at a popular jazz club downtown. But after several hours of waiting, it appeared that Rebecca had decided not to show.

What did you really expect? he’d thought. For all she knows, you’re a psychopath, a sexual predator stalking the radio for his latest victim. He’d shook his head at the stupidity of trying to arrange this meeting, but refused to give up entirely. He’d left a note for her with the waitress, just in case Rebecca did show up after he left. He wrote down his address with a brief message that read:

Sorry I missed you. Couldn’t wait any longer.
I’ll be home all evening. You can look me up.
-C.J.

He’d placed the note in an envelope addressed to Morning Star, and then told the waitress, “If you happen to see a woman come in acting like she’s looking for someone, could you give her this for me?”

He hadn’t expected to hear from Rebecca again and assumed that he’d successfully creeped her out on the airwaves with his invitation. Walter had decided to go back to ‘listening only’ mode on his CB, in the hope that Morning Star might feel comfortable enough to transmit openly again.

What he hadn’t expected was for Rebecca to show up at his house the very next day, only to meet his wife at the front door, who had decided to stay home that weekend.

By the time he’d realized what had happened, Walter had excused himself to head into town, believing Rebecca might return to the Waffle House.

He’d been correct when he’d caught up with a young woman in the parking lot walking over to an old VW Beetle with a mounted CB antennae.

“Morning Star?” he’d asked, stepping out of his van.

The young woman had stopped, gave him an angry look, and then walked over. “At first I felt bad for standing you up,” she’d said. “But when I came over to your house and met your wife… I knew you had to be an asshole for sure.”

Walter was at a loss for words. He hadn’t been looking for anything romantic to happen between them. He wouldn’t do that to Helen. He’d just wanted to meet the woman behind the voice that he’d grown fond of. “I’m sorry,” he’d said. “I didn’t mean to give you the impression… what I mean is, I just wanted to hang out with you. Nothing more than that… really.”

Rebecca shook her head and smiled. “Now I’m starting to feel like a real jack-ass. I guess I figured this was supposed to be a date or something. Sorry.” She pointed back to the Waffle House. “You still want to talk?”

“Absolutely. I’m glad you came out.”

“And… will your wife be joining us?”

“No. Helen doesn’t care much for my friends… or anything that I’m interested in, quite frankly.”

Rebecca cautiously smiled. “Is that why you spend your late nights talking with me on the radio?”

“I enjoy talking with you. That’s why I wanted to meet you in person. I don’t get this at home.”

“And just so we’re clear,” Rebecca said. “What exactly is this supposed to be again?”

“Just a friendship… Rebecca. Honest.” He’d laughed and finished, “Besides, I’m old enough to be your father.”

“Too bad your handle wasn’t ‘Pops’. Could’ve saved a lot of misunderstanding.”

Walter laughed hard. He hadn’t enjoyed himself this much in a long time. “Shall we eat? Lunch is on me.”

They’d spend the next two hours talking… well… she did most of the talking and he’d listened.

Rebecca had been on her own since she was seventeen, doing various odd jobs to save up enough money to put herself through nursing school. She’d told him, she wanted a family some day and that she just wanted to live a simple life, unlike the erratic upbringing she’d received being the only child of a nasty and volatile marriage that had ended in divorce with her bouncing around between parents.

“I can’t believe I’m telling you all this,” Rebecca had finished. “You are an easy person to talk to, C.J., a great listener. I don’t get much of that. Most people are just in too much of a hurry to really listen. Know what I mean?”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Walter had said. “Sounds like you needed someone to take care of you. When that didn’t happen, you took care of yourself. That’s very admirable.”

Rebecca blushed. “Thanks. So what about you? What’s your story? Do you have a real name or should I just keep calling you C.J.?”

Walter had smiled. “I think I like it better when you call me by my… handle. Reminds me that we have something special that no one can take away… I know that probably sounds cheesy.”

“No… I get it,” she said. “Okay, C.J. it is, then.” She suddenly dropped her shoulders. “Why couldn’t we have met months ago? You’re like the uncle I never had.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Well… it’s just that… I won’t be on the radio for a while. I quit that job and I’m going to be starting school soon. That’s why I was so adamant about finding you. You know, just in case we never talked again. Of course, at the time, I thought you might be hitting on me.” She laughed. “But I’m still glad we had this chance to really talk. It’s been great.”

Walter was distressed. “So… you won’t be on the radio anymore?”

“No. Not for a while.” She’d stood up. “So I guess this is ‘Hey, it was finally great to meet you’, followed by a bad timing, ‘Goodbye’.”

“Let me walk you out,” he’d said. “I’ll get to see you on your way one last time.”

She’d smiled. “Okay.”

When they’d returned to Rebecca’s car, she’d added, “Maybe we can still stay in touch. I have your address. We could write each other or something.”

Walter knew what that meant. “You won’t write me. You won’t call. You won’t think twice about me after all that busy school stuff gets in the way.” He’d looked at the CB antennae and said, “You’ll probably sell that thing first chance you get.”

Rebecca had given him a strange look. “Did I say something to upset you, C.J.?”

“It’s nothing,” he’d said. “Don’t mind me. I’m just an old fool that’s going to miss someone I just met. Strange, I know. But I will miss you.”

“Aww,” she’d said. “I’ll miss you, too.”

He’d opened her car door for her.

“And he’s a gentleman,” she joked, getting into the car. “Why couldn’t you have been about ten years younger?”

Walter had looked around the parking lot. No one was around.

“Well, I guess this is it, then,” she’d said. “Goodbye, C.J.”

Walter’s face had been unreadable. He’d been wearing a blue hoody. He’d reached into the front pouch pocket and said, “I can’t lose you, too. It’s not right. It’s not… fair.”

Rebecca had given him a blank look. She was obvious becoming uncomfortable. “Well… life seldom is. I guess I’ll see you when I see you.”

Walter had leaned into her window and smiled. “You just need someone to take care of you. You don’t have to worry anymore. You don’t have to strive so hard to do it all yourself.”

Rebecca’s face changed. He knew that look. It was the same look Helen gave him that always translated into: I don’t need you anymore, asshole.

“Well, I’m leaving now,” she’d said. Rebecca was reaching for her keys.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you from now on.” Walter had quickly placed his hand over the young woman’s face while reaching in through the window with his other hand until he stuck the syringe into her neck.

After a few moments of struggling, Rebecca had fallen limp and unconscious as the powerful sedative took effect.

~~~

NOW…

…The bad man finished zip-tying Gina’s hands around the basement support pole. He took a step back, readjusted the bandana around his mouth, and examined the unconscious woman.

“That will do just nicely,” he said, turning to the frightened young man who was still in shock after discovering Gina in the body bag he’d just carried down to the basement. The bad man had made Nine sit in a fold up chair he’d placed in the corner while he made his final preparations. “What’s the matter, funny man? No jokes?”

Nine turned to him with a surprising amount of boldness, and said, “You tricked me. I agreed to help you get Tony… and now this? Let her go. She’s not part of your stupid vendetta.”

The bad man ignored him and finished setting up his portable CB equipment on a small coffee table.

Nine studied the dark bare unfinished basement for anything he might use to his advantage. It appeared as though the bad man had thought ahead and removed everything from the large space that wasn’t relevant to his plans. He’s been here a while, he thought.

“So what is this? Your summer getaway cottage?” Again, his nervousness infected his mouth. He quickly counted the only useful objects worth noting. He smiled at the five slender rectangles letting in the only light to dispel the gloomy basement. There’s five! We have a chance!

The bad man finished, came over, and squatted down three feet in front of Nine. “‘Summer cottage’,” he laughed. “Actually, I had a bit of good fortune on my latest run. The Sampson family was out foraging from an abandoned vehicle near the route I use into town… and I just happened to be driving by.” He laughed louder. “You should have seen the fools, waving their arms at me as though I were the answer to all their problems.”

“Well… you’re quite the popular guy as of late,” Nine blurted out. “Seems like quite a few folks have been dying to find you.”

The bad man frowned, not appreciating the veiled threat. He dismissed it and continued. “So I pulled over and they all started talking over each other, all excited like, asking for news and if I’d heard of any other survivors, if local governments had been restored yet… blah, blah, blah… acting all like, ‘We’re saved! We’ve finally been rescued!’ So you know what I told them? Take a guess, funny man? Best joke you’ll ever hear.”

Nine felt all the humor leave his body. “You told them you were from the Ashtabula Survivor’s Group on your way to pick up survivors at the local Waffle House.”

The bad man erupted into laughter and slapped Nine hard on the shoulder. “Ain’t the irony a real sonofabitch? And I didn’t even need to make up a story. That couldn’t have worked out better for me. Don’t you think?”

Nine simply nodded. He felt sick to his stomach when he thought about the state of the Sampson house… and the missing family. If they’d just stayed home for a few more minutes…

“So after I told them all about their good fortune, that nice family insisted I come here and have lunch with them… so fucking thoughtful of them, too, because I was famished.” The bad man got up and finished, “And after we ate, they started packing all their shit. Guess what I did then, funny man?” The bad man retrieved his hunting knife for effect.

Nine closed his eyes, trying hard not to vomit on his shoes. He silently wished his older brother was here. He’d know what to do right now, know what to say to this evil man, know how to confront it… but he was the one here instead, the coward, while his brother had died saving him.

The bad man seemed satisfied as he turned to adjust some dials on his radio.

Nine stared at the bad man’s back, and finally said, “This is bullshit. Whatever you did to that poor family didn’t deserve all this, and neither does Tony. You act all pissed off at him but it was you who abducted all those people, including him. So he managed to escape… good for him! You’re lucky to still be alive, you fucking creepy piece of shit!”

He watched the bad man’s back stiffen up and expected a knife in his eye in the next few moments.

There! At least I said something! At least I tried to stand up for once. He hoped that wherever his brother was now, that he was looking down at him with pride.

The bad man slowly turned around and approached. Instead of stabbing him with the knife, he sheathed it instead and crouched down in front of him again. The bad man pulled down his bandana and removed his glasses. “This is what he did!” he hissed. “This is what your fucking Tony did to me! And to my Helen! And after that big pig escaped, I let it go and assumed he wouldn’t make it long out here. But then guess what happened next?”

Nine wisely remained silent.

“Well, since the Sampsons saved me a trip into town, papa bear decided to come home early only to find that a fucking bunch of Goldilocks had invaded his home. And while they sat in papa bear’s chair, and slept in papa bear’s bed, and ate papa bear’s fucking porridge, papa bear went back out and got ready for those stupid little Goldilock bitches! But the worst part of it all was that those little Goldilocks fuckers killed papa bear’s children and then burned down his home. So what’s a bear supposed to do after that? Hmm? Just sit idly by and let all this happen?”

Nine did not know what to say. He wasn’t aware of what went on with Gina and the others, or that they’d burned the ranch down. He’d split before then.

“So after papa bear saw that big juicy pig, Tony, again, he knew what needed done.” He looked over at Gina and smiled. “And he knows just how to do it, too.”

“I’m… I’m sorry about your home, but-”

“SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH, MEAT!”

Nine looked down at his shoes, suddenly hating every nursery rhyme he’d ever heard.

The bad man calmed down and finished calmly, “You all came to kill me. Do you deny it?”

Nine only had one response. “No… I don’t deny it.”

The bad man shook his head with a smile. “And so you tried… and failed. Now there will be consequences, funny man. Surely you can understand that?”

Nine remained silent.

The bad man glanced at Gina again. “This one here is already dead. Tony’s seen to that with this foolish plan to come back here. So you and the others have something in common with me, now.”

“And what’s that?”

He looked to Nine. “You all have Tony to blame for everything bad that’s about to happen… just like what he did to me. If you’d all stayed hiding in your little holes that have kept you alive this long, then none of this would be happening now. You do see that, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Nine said, wanting only to appease this insane asshole. But in retrospect, Nine had to admit, this was all Tony’s fault. If he hadn’t been so adamant in coming back… then Diane would be safe right now. He started to wonder if the bad man had any more mysterious body bags with friends he knew in them.

“You’re worried about her, yes?”

Nine cursed himself for leaving his emotions so wide open. “I’m worried about all my friends,” he said. “How can we end this peacefully?”

The bad man smiled. “I don’t need her… the one you care about. Do what I ask and the both of you can walk right out of here.”

“And Gina?”

“She’s mine now.”

Nine sighed. “What do you want me to do?”

The bad man let out a giddy laugh and then reached into a bag. He pulled out a hand-held radio and handed it to him.

Nine reluctantly took the radio.

“It’s really simple, funny man. All you have to do is find your friends and give this radio to Tony. Tell him to turn on the radio and come up to the house. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“That’s it?” Nine asked. “That’s all you want me to do and then me and Diane are safe?”

“Yes. Deliver the message and the radio… and then take your precious meat and go… go far away from here and never let me catch you in these woods again or I’ll make it my mission to find both of you and take turns torturing you both in front of the other. Understand?”

Nine looked from the radio to Gina and then back to the radio. He shamefully bowed his head and said, “Okay. I understand.” He could feel his brother’s disapproving glare coming down from above.

“Alright then,” the bad man said, rising to his feet. “Get the fuck out of her before I change my mind and kill all of you.”

Nine slowly got up.

The bad man immediately turned his attention toward the radio again, ignoring the young man.

Nine walked cautiously toward the basement steps and started to ascend.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” the bad man said over his shoulder.

Nine stopped. Here it comes… another trick.

“You need to tell Tony one more thing before you disappear,” he said, retrieving his hunting knife again and walking toward Gina.

Nine swallowed hard.

The bad man stopped, turned, and flashed a devilishly grotesque smile. “Tell Tony that I intend to call him on that radio and tell him exactly where Gina is… each and every piece of her.”

~~~

Next Episode 34-3

Previous Episode 34-1

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 34-2: Secrets” 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:

    We just have to be patient an wait for Marcus.

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      Hey Gylion. Yes… Marcus is Missing In Action once again. But I promise you, he has one hell of a chapter coming up. It’s already written, and it’s a long one ;)

      Like

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