Chapter 34-3: Secrets

Posted: November 7, 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…

…Tony slowly approached the small space behind the clinic that housed the long metal ladder leading up to the compound’s only serviceable entrance into and out of their underground haven. His sluggish movements, followed by a long yawn made Logan’s sentries give him a long amusing look.

“You lost there, Tony?” an older man said with a laugh. “I believe your bed’s in the other direction.”

Tony recognized him. His name was Barney. Good, he thought. It won’t take much convincing with this one. He smiled and responded. “Sorry. I haven’t slept for shit in the last twenty-four hours.” He didn’t even need to lie. Sleep was the farthest thing from his mind at the moment. “You know how it is. Sometimes this place just gets under your skin and makes you stir crazy to do anything.”

A taller man that Tony didn’t know laughed and said, “Yeah. Sort of like this boring ass job.”

Barney elbowed the taller man and gave him a look.

Tony noticed that neither men had their rifles strapped on them. Instead, he saw both their weapons leaning up against a small table in the corner of the tight space, a deck of cards lying on a table–their latest game of poker temporarily suspended until the bigwig turned around and left so they could continue ‘fucking off’.

Perfect, he thought. These two won’t a problem.

Tony stared at the cards and said, “Looks like you two need a break from being awake as much as I need a break from being asleep. Why don’t you let me finish your watch… and leave me that deck of cards,” he added with a wink.

Both men shifted uncomfortably and gave each other uncertain glances.

“It’s okay,” Tony reassured them. “I won’t tell Logan if you don’t. Besides, I am second in command of this place… talk about boring, by the way.”

The laughed and eased up.

“You sure, Tony?” Barney asked. “I mean… it gets pretty fucking boring in here. Every now and then we can hear that damn creature in the clinic act up, but that’s about the only action you’re gonna get.”

“I really don’t mind,” Tony said. “I like this room. I know it sounds weird but I get a lot of thinking done in here… you know… away from everyone and everything else. I welcome the peace and quiet for a change. What do you got left, a couple of hours?”

“Three,” the taller man said.

“Okay, if it makes you feel more at ease. Let me stand watch for a couple of hours. You two can stretch out, go get something to eat, whatever… then come back and finish your last hour. How does that sound?”

Both men were persuaded.

“We’ll be back promptly, Tony,” Barney said. “Two hours… and thank you.”

“No problem. Anything special I need to know about this post?”

“No,” the taller man said. “Just if you see that fucking hatch wheel spin, then sound the damn alarm. But nothing’s going to happen… nothing ever does. There’s nothing up there that even knows we’re fucking down here.”

Tony stared up at the hatch door. “How’s the weather up there? Did the storm from last night die down?”

“Yeah,” Barney said. “But it’s cold as shit up there. Not worth peeking outside and freezing your balls off. Besides, you can’t go topside alone. That’s why there’s always two of us.” Barney started looking unsure about leaving Tony alone.

Tony lifted his hands. “Relax. I’ve no intention of going out. I’m just going to sit in here and finish out your hands,” he said with a wink.

Barney laughed. “Alright then. See you in a couple of hours, Tony.”

Tony gave them a mock salute. “Consider yourself relieved, gentlemen.”

Both men departed.

He waited five minutes to make sure they didn’t come back.

Let’s go, Marcuchi. Before you have second thoughts.

Tony looked at his watch. 1:05 am. They’d be back by three to finish. He needed to move now.

He turned toward a mounted coat rack where the ready winter gear was staged. He grabbed the largest coat available, a thick dark blue coat with a furry hood that reminded him of Han Solo on that fucking ice planet, right before he gutted the damn wilderbeast with Luke’s light saber… or whatever it was.

He could already here Nine’s whiney voice correcting him in his head: It was a tauntaun, man! A fucking tauntaun!

Tony laughed and shook his head while putting on the rest of his gear. “I really need to get out more before that kid turns me into a total geek.”

Once prepared to face the cold, Tony stared up at the hatch door as doubts started to creep in.

“This is damn foolish, Marcuchi. There’s a reason no one goes out there alone, especially at night.”

But he had to know. He had to know and no one else could find out that he went outside. That would just add fuel to the fire.

“Twenty minutes. Take a look, then come back.” He could appreciate the dangers above as well as leaving the hatch unguarded. But Tony’s recklessness was fueled by a question which consumed him. If he didn’t leave now, he’d go crazy. Besides, he knew more than anyone how well hidden this entrance was.

He took a deep breath, grabbed one of the two rifles leaning against the table, and then ascended the ladder. He turned the hatch wheel, which fortunately was well-maintained, and it spun easily.

Tony pushed up on the hatch and felt the cold night air assault him.

“Okay, let’s get this over with.”

He went topside, used the light coming up through the hatch to make sure the area was safe, and then closed it.

The night felt menacing. Everything was frozen over from last night’s brutal storm causing the snow to crunch beneath his feet. The sound of his footfalls as he descended the small cliff to ground level was amplified in the silence. He stared up at scorched trees covered in layers of ice, feeling like the last man on earth.

The cold tried to penetrate every crack in his winter gear, searching for exposed skin. His hands were already starting to get cold within his thick gloves. Every inhalation hurt his lungs due to the cold. He exhaled vapors.

The snow was much deeper on the ground, sometimes piled up in drifts as much as five feet high. Fortunately, the top layer was frozen enough to keep him from sinking in up to his knees… or worse.

He took a moment to marvel at this frozen landscape which seemed to span forever in all directions.

Is it any wonder we’ve never been attacked? he thought. Just look at it. The world we knew has been buried in fucking ice!

He needed to move before the cold made it any more difficult to stay alive out here. Tony turned north and pushed through the snow. He didn’t need any tracks to follow; he knew exactly where he was headed.

Tony glanced up toward the full moon hiding behind a thin wintry veil of ice and clouds causing it to appear blurred and dull. To Tony, it looked as frozen as everything else around him. He was fortunate for the additional light and a break in the storm, not needing to retrieve his flashlight due to the luminescent quality of the snow.

He continued to crunch toward his destination as the ground beneath him sloped slightly downward. The snow was beginning to get deeper, making his legs feel heavy and tired.

His exhausted mind started to wander as Tony felt a sudden chill travel up his spine after considering how deep the snow was… and how anything could be hiding beneath it. He imagined a horde of the rotting dead buried beneath the ice, stirring, as Tony’s feet sunk deep enough for frozen limbs to reach up and grab him. He purposefully increased his speed.

Tony heard the sound of the river, muffled by layers of ice above it, as it continued to flow, not yet cold enough for winter to claim its vitality.

He was almost there.

Just before he cleared the last of the frozen forest on his side of the river, Tony abruptly stopped and gasped, feeling all the blood leave his face.

~~~

NOW…

…“Tony!” Diane nearly yelled, causing him to break away with relief from a disturbing memory. The big man looked over at the hunter who was pointing farther up the river toward someone running toward them, arms waving in all directions.

As the figure moved closer, grins lit up both their faces at the first piece of good news they’d received since leaving the compound.

Tony looked over to Diane who was shaking her head disapprovingly but was unable to hide her joy at discovering Nine was still alive. “That moron’s attracting enough attention flailing around like a damn chicken.”

“Yeah… but that’s your chicken,” Tony kidded, elbowing the hunter.

She turned to Tony, unable to hide her watered up eyes, and smiled.

“Go to him,” he pressed. “It’s alright. I won’t blow your tough girl cover.”

Diane was already moving.

Tony spotted a good flat rock to sit down on as he watched the two young lovers meet up, stare at one another for a moment, and then fiercely embraced.

Tony was overcome with emotion. Thank you, God. Thank you for this. He brushed his own watery eyes with the back of his hand as they both approached.

“Well, well, well,” Tony said with a great big grin, “How’s my favorite geek?”

Nine started to speak but was already in tears. “Hey, big guy. You know I keep telling you us nerds are gonna rule the world any second now.”

Tony got up and laughed. “It’s good to see you, Nine. Damn… stop crying before you make me ball like a little bitch, too.”

Nine came over and hugged the big man.

Diane stood back. She was a wreck of emotions as all her pent up anxiety and relief overwhelmed her.

Nine turned to his angel and smiled. “Missed me, didn’t you? Come on… admit it.”

She smiled. “Not a chance, asshole.”

He noticed his brother’s jean jacket and walked over to her. “How did you… I mean…” He couldn’t finish as the waterworks started again.

Diane started to take the jacket off. “We… we found it. Don’t ask me about the details… ever.”

Nine stopped her from taking it off by placing his hands on her shoulders and pulling it back in place. “No… it looks awesome on you. Makes you look like a friggin’ rock star angel. No… more like a rock star goddess. First, will trade in that rifle for a flaming V-neck guitar. Add a little black eye shadow… Hell… with a little Aqua Net for that uncivilized hairstyle you keep hiding behind, we could-”

She cut him off abruptly by leaning in and placing a kiss on his lips.

Tony covered his mouth to hide his bemusement at the young man’s reaction.

“You were saying something?” she asked.

Nine just stood there, mouth hanging open like the world’s biggest idiot.

Tony noticed an unfamiliar hand-held radio in his back pocket. “I don’t mean to break up the scene, Romeo, but where the hell have you been?”

“Oh fuck!” Nine said, turning to Tony. “Fucking crisis on a cracker… I don’t know where my head goes sometimes!”

“What’s wrong?” Diane asked.

Nine took a deep breath to calm his nerves. “It’s… it’s that bad man mother fucker! He snatched me up right before I could get back to you guys. Then he brought me out here.”

“And you escaped? Where is he, Nine?” Tony asked.

The young man pulled out the radio and stared at it like he’d just learned that Barry Manilow was opening for Van Halen. “I didn’t escape, Tony. Fuck! I wish I could’ve done something but he’s got super powers compared to me.”

“Just calm down and tell us what happened,” Tony said.

Nine looked at him gravely and handed Tony the radio. “He’s got her, Tony. He’s got Gina.”

“Sonofabitch!” Diane shouted. She swung her rifle around. “Take us there.”

Nine was shaking his head. “He told me to give you that.” He shamefully stared at his feet, and finished, “He said that if I found you and delivered his fucking message, he’d leave Diane alone.”

Tony’s face was an unreadable stone. “And what else did he say?”

“Tony… I… I wanted to help her… but I couldn’t. He told me that he wanted you to come toward the house and turn that on. Said that he’d talk to you once you were in range. And then he said that we could go… but you had to come alone.”

Tony sat back down on the rock. His hands were hammers resting on his thighs. He let out a heavy sigh.

Nine and Diane took a cautious step back.

“Tell me the rest. Did he say anything else?”

“No… no, man. That was it.”

“You’re holding back,” Tony said. “Tell me.”

Nine started to cry. He pointed at the radio like it was alive and said, “The bad man wants to hurt you, Tony. I think… I think he’s already… done something to her… and he wants you to know it.”

Tony didn’t move for what felt like an eternity. Finally, he looked up at the sky and calmly said, “Nine, you’re going to tell me where this house is. After that, you two are heading back to camp. I don’t want to hear a word of protest from either of you. You’re involvement in this nightmare is finished.”

Diane and Nine looked to each other, then back to Tony.

“I mean it. Not a fucking word. You both are going home. Nine, none of this is your fault. Whatever happens next, I want you to always remember that. Diane, make sure the two of you get back safely and tell the others what’s happened.”

They were both in tears, their frustration evident.

Tony looked at them both and smiled. “Do me one favor… no… make me a promise.”

“Anything,” Diane said.

“After you get back, and if things get worse after the thaw, both of you pack your bags and get as far from all this madness as you can. Go find a place for yourselves and love each other for as long as you can. I want your word that you will both do this.”

They both nodded.

“What about you, Tony?” Nine asked. “You can’t do this alone. This is exactly what he wants.”

“I’m going to keep on believing that Gina is still alive and let that hope carry me through this mess. Because if she’s dead… God help anyone who gets in between me and destroying that monster.”

~~~

Next Episode: 34-4

Previous Episode 34-2

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 34-3: 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:

    Shits gonna get serious any episode now.

    Like

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey there, just wanted to leave a quick message. I was a reader that stopped (life got in the way) about mid book 3. Now I ravenously read all of the new writing to get caught up. It is really nice to see that you haven’t lost any of your touch, and that the story maintains the high level it started out at. It is very impressive that you are able to do so much quality writing, all the while finding time and space for life, family, etc. Wish I had your skills!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Hey there, I love it when original readers come back. I appreciate the encouraging comments and I’m glad you’re still enjoying the story. I have a long way to go before this tale is eventually finished but we’re getting there. I have a general plot line to guide me through this series but I credit the characters for the quality of the stories that come out. They are the driving force of this long project. Thanks for coming back and I’m glad you had an opportunity to catch up. After this chapter, DFTD will be going on break until January and then I’ll be finishing the second half of this arc. Hope to you see back then… there’s a lot of crazy stuff coming ;)

      Like

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