Chapter 34-4: Secrets

Posted: November 10, 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 first blizzard came with a ferocity fitting of this new hostile world, offering a preview of the months to follow and marking the beginning of this remnant of humanity’s long winter siege beneath the ground.

Gina could not have picked a worse evening to go topside as the winds howled around the three of them, blowing snow erratically about and creating white-out conditions that reduced visibility to five feet in all directions.

When they were half way to the river, the two bundled-up men looked back at her with a mixture of hatred and fear as they considered fleeing their captor.

“Don’t even think about it,” Gina shouted above the wind, holding the shotgun on them as a reminder of the serious shit they were in. “I don’t need a clear shot to hit either of you with this. I’ll maim you if nothing else and then let the dead finish you off… or the fucking cold.”

“This is bullshit, Gina,” one of them said, shaking from the cold. “We know what we did was wrong… but the girl… that was an accident. Everyone knows it.”

His name was Tyler, one from Tony and Orosco’s original group. “Just keep walking or there’s about to be another ‘accident’ right here,” she promised.

“Just let us come back and we’ll be cooperative,” the other one pleaded. His name was Brannigan. “You can keep us locked up… just don’t send us out here… with the monsters.”

Gina ignored this. “Keep moving. We’ve got a long way to go before we reach the western edge of these woods. Once I get you the fuck out of the Wasteland, and far from my sight, I don’t care what you do.”

“Gina, have you seen this fucking weather?” Tyler said. “We’re never gonna make it out tonight. We can hardly see a fucking thing!”

“Walk!”

The two men gave up and continued trudging through the forest as the snowfall began to accumulate on the ground.

Gina shook from the cold. Tyler was right. They’d never make it to the western edge, not in this weather. But that was irrelevant. She never had any intention of escorting them out of the Wasteland. She just needed time to think this rash plan through and work up the strength to carry out what needed done.

She understood that being the leader was an unrewarding affair on most days… and sometimes it meant being downright ruthless on occasion, making hard decisions for the greater good that would keep offenders like these two from murdering anyone else in another meaningless outburst. There were just too many things that could go wrong now, especially if they all were expected to survive the winter in the compound. If she showed leniency for Tyler and Brannigan, the rest of the community would see her as weak, allowing murderers to roam freely about the community and encouraging others like them to commit other heinous ‘acts’ when they lost control.

And she absolutely had to maintain control… or it all fell apart.

They reached the river. The water was rushing downstream as the rainy season prior to winter’s approach had filled it to maximum capacity.

Gina found a narrow gap they could cross.

This will have to be it, she thought. “We’re crossing here.”

Both men looked back confused.

“Cross… now!”

They crossed the five foot gap over icy waters and slippery rocks. Fortunately, they were all wearing well-insulated winter boots, another luxury of the compound supplies, which kept their feet dry.

Once on the other side, Tyler turned. “What is this? You said we were going west. There was no reason to cross the river.”

“Changed my mind. We’re going north,” Gina said absently.

Both Tyler and Brannigan exchanged a worried look.

“But… you’ve always said that the Shadow Dead came from the northern end of the preserve,” Brannigan reminded her.

“I know what I said, asshole. Get moving.”

Tyler protested. “Assuming you haven’t made that whole story up about these mysterious fucking monsters just to keep us all in line, why the hell would you be pointing us straight toward them? If they find out we’re here-”

“If they decide to come out on a night like this just to attack us,” Gina interrupted, “then they will be doing us all a favor.”

Tyler quickly moved in close to Brannigan and whispered, “Fucking woman has a death wish. Let’s bolt.”

Brannigan looked concerned. “She’s got the gun.”

“She’s not going to shoot us, asshole. She wants the monsters to kill us.”

“You two, step away from each other!” Gina barked.

“You ready?” Tyler said. “We’ll cut left through the trees and lose her in the storm.”

Brannigan nodded. “Let’s do it.”

“I said, get the fuck away from each other!” Gina noticed they were picking up their pace and creating distance between them. “Slow the fuck down… now!”

They weren’t listening.

Gina picked up her own pace. “Didn’t you hear me, shitheads? I said-”

Both men started running toward the left once they reached a copse of dense smaller trees. She was quickly losing them in the whiteout.

“Shit!” she shouted, running after them.

She lost visual of the two criminals, but continued to follow their erratic and clumsy stomping through the woods to stay close. They were doubling back toward the river. If the Shadow Dead were out here, these two idiots couldn’t have done any better at broadcasting their position.

Gina became aware of their trick much too late as one of the men had stopped behind a thicker tree, allowing Gina to pass long enough to slip behind her, and then struck her in the shoulder with a large broken tree limb.

She fell to the ground, dropping the shotgun.

“Got her!” Tyler yelled, scrambling for the shotgun.

Brannigan was coming back.

Gina rolled in the direction of the shotgun and then kicked Tyler in the chin just as he was reaching down for it. He fell back stunned.

Brannigan dove for the shogun, nearly landing on top of Gina. They both wrestled with the barrel.

Gina gave it up and got to her feet.

Before either men could collect themselves, Gina ran behind the closest tree. She’d already drawn her handgun.

Brannigan pointed the shotgun all around, briefly losing Gina in the storm.

Tyler came over and joined him with his hands raised. “Okay, Gina,” Tyler said. “Just… just calm down. We’ve got the gun. There’s not going to be any more trouble. We’ll just head back and let the others sort this out.”

“Shut up,” she said coldly. “See… this is what happens when I let killers live too long. You just tried to kill me. How could I possibly let you two come back?” Gina was already attaching the silencer to her weapon.

“We were… we were just trying to get away, Gina,” Brannigan defended. “You’re leading us to our deaths by heading north. Can you blame us for fighting back?”

“No,” she said. “In fact, I was counting on it.” She stepped out from behind the tree and walked toward them.

Brannigan raised the shotgun toward her, but hesitated.

Tyler noticed the handgun that she kept pointed down along her side. “Shoot her! She’s armed! Shoot this crazy bitch!”

“Fuck!” Brannigan yelled. The shotgun shook in his arms.

Gina raised her handgun at him. “What are you waiting for, asshole? Shoot!”

“Shoot, you stupid fuck!” Tyler shouted.

Brannigan put his finger to the trigger.

Gina aimed for his head, a devilish smile appearing on her face.

That’s right, she thought. Do it!

And then Brannigan lowered the weapon. “No,” he said.

Gina was confused. “What do you mean, ‘No’?”

He turned toward Tyler, dropping the gun to the ground. “This stops here. We surrender.” He turned back to Gina. “We… we didn’t mean to kill that poor girl. It just happened. We’re… We’re not killers.”

“Bullshit!” Gina yelled. “Pick it back up!”

“No!” Brannigan said.

Tyler laughed. “I guess you’re just going to have to murder us the old fashion way, Gina. Because that is what you’re trying to do… right? You wanted us to fight back so you could justify killing us in self-defense. That’s what all this is about.”

Gina’s face was stone. “Doesn’t matter. Neither one of you are coming back… not as long as I live. So either pick up the shotgun or keep walking north.”

“No,” Brannigan said, boldly stepping forward. “You don’t get to do this, Gina. We have rights! You don’t get to decide who lives and who dies! The community is bigger than you and people are sick of your bullshit. We’re going back… right now. If you want to stop us you’re going to have to shoot us in the back.”

Tyler gave the shotgun a final look and then shook his head at Gina. “I bet it’s not even loaded. We’re not killers, Gina. No matter what you want to believe. You’re the only killer here.” He turned to follow Brannigan.

“Stop… right fucking now!” Gina ordered. She aimed the gun at their backs. “Last chance. I meant what I said. You’re not going back!”

Both men refused to look at her.

Gina put her finger on the trigger…

~~~

…and woke abruptly to the sharp backhand slap across her face.

“There she is,” the bad man said with a laugh, wisely stepping back from Gina’s glare. “Defiant to the end. I admire that. Makes carving out the spirit from you much more satisfying.” He pulled out his hunting knife. “I needed you awake for what comes next. I’m very sorry you got caught up in all this but Tony’s had this coming for a long, long time. Seems like all he’s done since escaping is ensure more pain for others. Bad, bad, Tony.”

Gina ignored his words and quickly took in her surroundings. They were in a basement. She was tied up to a pole. She stared at the maniac who had removed his bandana and glasses revealing a silver-eyed monster who looked like death itself had taken hold of his face. She watched the bad man as he examined the edge of his knife.

“I haven’t had a chance to sharpen this, but it should still cut clean through the bones. I’ll be very quick about it… very precise.” He looked at her and smiled, if you could call what was left of his mauled up face, a smile. “I’ll be needing one of your hands. Any preference?”

She knew she should be terrified but she was not. Her body still ached from the effects of the Taser and her face throbbed from being punched… but she ignored it all. Even now, while it was apparent that this evil thing was about to torture her, Gina could feel absolutely nothing… except the hatred stealing over her entire body like she was standing in the middle of a bonfire, the fiery flames consuming all else.

She looked into its mercury eyes and said, “Did your wife do that to your face? Helen?”

The bad man’s smile was gone. He stared at Gina with his knife raised in a tightly clenched fist as if it took all he had to not shove the long blade into her skull. “Don’t you speak her name,” he said, managing a calmer voice than his face showed. “You don’t know what you’re fucking talking about.”

“I know she tried to stop you, you sick fuck,” Gina spat. “I know that you’re not even a man anymore. You’re just some fucked-up perversion that has no right to exist. Neither dead nor alive… you’re something much worse than this world’s shit out so far.”

The bad man stepped closer. He wanted to slit her tongue out. “You are coming dangerously close to trying my patience. Maybe I should just skip the fingers and go right for your face. I could add a few more scars to the one you already have. By the time I’m done… it will be hard for anyone to remember you were once beautiful.”

Gina laughed hard.

The bad man’s face was a mixture of rage and confusion.

“Look, asshole,” Gina managed. “I haven’t been ‘beautiful’ for a very long time. You want to cut my face up… so fucking do it! I don’t give a fuck!” She leaned forward on her restraints, trying to reach out to the bad man with a look of pure hatred on her face. “You’re a fucking animal… but so am I. I look at you and see myself… and it sickens me. I’m as grotesque as you on the inside and there’s not a fucking thing you can do to me that I haven’t already done to myself! So stop trying to scare me and get on with it. You can slice me up but you won’t get anything else from me. Count on it.”

The bad man was genuinely surprised. He’d never seen so much… darkness… spewing forth from one of his victims before. For a moment, he considered ending her quickly, just to get her burning eyes off of him. But then he smiled as understanding came. “You’re very good at this,” he said. “I suspect this isn’t the first time you’ve been the cornered animal before. You’re trying to get me to kill you. Almost worked, too.” He sheathed his knife and squatted down. “Let me tell you how this will play out.”

“Go to hell, monster. And when you get there, I’ll be there to fuck you up!”

The bad man laughed, but quickly lost all humor. He stared back into the face of this wild beast of a woman and for a moment he was reminded of Helen. Not his city-loving wife, but the yellow-eyed creature chained to a bed, staring into his soul with an incomprehensible madness which had consumed her night after night.

“You feel that you’ve nothing left to lose,” The bad man explained. “I get that… I really do. You’ve probably lost so much that losing a bit more doesn’t matter, even if it’s a pound of flesh that I carve off your bones. But you would be very wrong.”

Gina’s cold exterior faltered. What the fuck is he talking about?

“Yes… I see it now,” the bad man said. “You care very little about what happens to you… but… you still care for him.”

“I’m not playing this game, loser. You can’t frighten me with threats to the people I love. They are far from here now. I made sure of that. So why don’t we get on with this. You just take that knife and start carving and I’ll spit in your fucking face with every breath I have left!”

The bad man’s eyebrows lifted. “Do you honestly believe your ploy to fool your friends worked? You underestimate Tony’s resolve. In fact, when my little messenger reaches him and tells him where to find you, he’ll come running.”

Gina’s face changed completely. Fuck, he’s talking about Nine!

“Bullshit,” she tried. “You’re desperate to break me and you’ll make up anything to make me-”

“…want to live?” he finished. “That’s right. I know you crave death, but more than death, you need for Tony to be safe. You need for Tony to live so that you can die in this miserable shell with an ounce of peace.”

Gina remained silent. She looked away.

The bad man reached in and grabbed her by the throat, causing her to look back.

“Oh no you don’t,” he said. “You don’t get to hide now, Gina!” he spat. “I have him which means I have you, too.” He retrieved his knife. “And now that I know just where to cut the deepest, let’s start with something simple. I need a piece of you for Tony. Something he will always remember before I break him.” He started to reach in with the knife, to remove her left eye.

Gina cried out in anger and frustration, feeling completely helpless for the first time. He’s played us! He’s played us all along! Tony! Why the fuck couldn’t you just keep going? Now it’s all for nothing!

Just as the bad man was about to pluck out her eye, his portable CB radio squawked to life, followed by a familiar voice:

“Alright… I’m here.” It was Tony. “Come out and let’s deal with this man to man. You wanted me so fucking bad… well now you have me. But if you’ve hurt Gina in any way… I will make it my life’s goal to take away everything you have left… starting with what’s left of that pitiful creature, Helen.”

The bad man paused, a look of disappointment on his face. He sighed and released his grip from Gina’s throat. He backed away and sheathed his knife. “I let you distract me,” he told her over his shoulder. “And apparently my little messenger found him much quicker than expected. Your man must have figured out your little ruse and turned back toward the river. No matter. This will all play out as intended.”

“No matter what you do to me,” Gina said, “he’s going to kill you.”

The bad man looked at her as if she’d just said the strangest thing. Then he laughed hard and said, “You really don’t know him, do you? I’m very surprised, considering how much you care for him.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

He turned and leaned in with a whisper. “Before this day is through, I’ll have him chained in this basement, willing to do whatever I want him to do… just to save the pathetic life that you don’t even want. How does that feel, Gina?”

She looked away.

“And after I have him, I’ll make him just like me.”

Gina turned back, confused.

“That’s right. I’ll turn him into what you most despise, other than yourself.” He got up and went for the radio. He picked up the receiver and stopped, looking back over his shoulder. “You hate me because I’m like the monsters outside. You hate me because I’m compelled to… feed… and yet I’m still just a man, whether you want to believe that or not.”

“You are nothing but a monster,” Gina said.

He turned and smiled. “If that’s true, than what will you think of your precious Tony when I make him watch as I carve you up, and then in order to keep you alive, I make him consume your flesh, piece at a time?”

Gina fought hard against her restraints until her wrists started to bleed.

She wanted to be dead… she deserved death… but this monster forbade it.

And now… if the bad man had his way… something worse than death would push her beyond the brink of madness… forever.

Tony, she thought. Tony, you cannot be down here. I love you, but I can’t allow this. I’ll kill myself first! I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS!

~~~

Next Episode 34-5

Previous Episode 34-3

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 34-4: 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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