Chapter 34-5: Secrets

Posted: November 15, 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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~~~

Tony stood between the familiar van and the modern cottage, handgun in one hand, radio in the other. After waiting for an eternity for the bad man to respond to his message he started imagining what this sadistic former man had in store for him.

What if Gina’s already dead, lying cut up in the basement–the bad man long gone? Tony tried to shake such thoughts but he grew increasingly concerned. Maybe this was all just to get me here, find her body, and then leave me tormented for the rest of my days trying to track this killer down?

He shut his eyes and tried to silence the endless train of hopeless thoughts crashing through his mind.

His handheld radio squelched, followed by a devil’s voice. “Welcome back… meat. Leave your weapons, the radio, and any heroic notions you may be having on the porch and come on in. Basement’s down the hall, last door on the right before the kitchen.”

Tony was gripping the radio so tightly he thought it would break in his hand. Calm… Marcuchi… calm… He transmitted, “We go no further until I talk to Gina. I want to know she’s alright.”

“This isn’t some scene in a movie where you get to negotiate terms with me, asshole. Your woman’s either alive… or dead already. Does it really matter? You’re coming in regardless.”

“Let me speak with her,” he repeated, and then added, “please.”

The radio remained silent for what felt like an eternity.

Tony desperately looked around for anything he could use to his advantage as his gaze landed on the mailbox that read: SAMPSONS.

Tony’s heart sank as he considered the mutilated corpses they’d found in the woods.

Before he could do anything else, the radio came back to life with a chilling scream that made him drop the radio. It was Gina… and she sounded like someone had just set her on fire.

No! He picked it back up and transmitted, “Stop it! Leave her alone!” He was already moving toward the front porch of the cabin.

“Relax,” the bad man said with a laugh. “Your woman will live… for now. I just gave her a lesson in the consequences of being disobedient. You remember those lessons, don’t you, meat?”

It was all he could do to stop himself from storming into the house. He transmitted, “What… what did you do to her?”

“Just a flesh wound. Nothing permanent… not yet anyway. Now, do what I fucking told you to do before I take it out on her! Drop all your shit and get in here… now!”

“Okay… okay… I’m doing it now… just don’t hurt her anymore.” Tony put down the radio and stripped off all his gear and weapons.

Tony had no idea how he was going to save Gina. He silently prayed, God, please… spare her life. That’s all I ask. He can have me back… just please show her mercy.

He took a deep breath and entered the house.

~~~

Tony opened the basement door and looked down the dark staircase. He was immediately reminded of his past imprisonment at the hands of this lunatic.

“Come on down, meat,” the bad man said. “I can’t think of a more fitting place to have a reunion than back where we started.”

“Let me speak to her,” Tony called down, attempting to stall. “If she’s still alive… I’ll do whatever you want.”

The bad man laughed. “Tony… Tony… Tony… she’s passed out at the moment. I dug my blade pretty deep into her thigh… had to twist it a bit to get her to cooperate and cry out. She’s a fighter… well… she was a fighter. Stop fucking around and get down here before I slit her throat. I’m running out of patience with your… demands.”

Tony had no choice. Dead or alive, he would not leave Gina alone with this madman. “Alright, I’m coming down. I’m not armed… just please… leave her alone.”

“Tick, tock, Tony,” the bad man called up.

When he reached the bottom of the stairs, Tony was startled by the sight of Gina, unconscious, on her knees, with her hands and feet zip tied behind a metal support pole. Her face was bruised and there was a bloody wound on her right thigh. Standing beside her was the maniac with mercury eyes and half his face missing. There was also a portable CB radio, sitting just behind Gina. Aside from that, the basement was bare and dark with just enough daylight seeping in through several cellar window to breach the gloom.

“My, oh, my,” the bad man said, holding a hunting knife near Gina’s throat. “I never imagined I would ever see you again. And yet… here we are.”

Tony raised his hands submissively. “Please, just let her go. This is between you and me. She’s no part in this.”

“Bullshit,” the bad man corrected. “She’s everything to you just as my Helen was everything to me… before you stole her from me. Gina stays. Whether she stays alive or not is entirely up to you.”

Tony lowered his arms. “What do you want? Do you want me to beg for her life? I will. Just get on with it.”

“I want you to walk over to the far side of the basement,” he said, pointing toward his left. “Over there, in front of the other support beam. Let’s start with that.”

Tony nodded and obliged as he walked to the other side and stood before a metal pole just like the one Gina was tied up to. “Now what?”

The bad man smiled. “Now we wake her up.” The bad man lowered his knife and backhanded Gina with his other hand.

“You fuck!” Tony nearly charged across the basement.

“Stop right there,” he cautioned, putting the knife back down near Gina’s throat.

Gina started to stir, coughing up blood. Her fiery gaze fell on the bad man. “I’m going to kill you… slowly,” she promised.

The bad man laughed at her and nodded toward Tony.

She turned and all the color left her bruised face.

“Tony?” she said.

“It will be alright, Gina. Just… don’t piss him off.”

“Alright!” the bad man announced. “New rule. No more fucking names. Not down here. Not ever again. From now, you both are mine, and that means that the meat no longer have names.”

Gina turned back and hissed, “Fuck you, loser!”

“Gina!” Tony said.

The bad man looked toward Tony, his face suddenly growing dark. “What did I just say?”

“Wait… I’m sorry… don’t… ”

Tony was too late. The bad man took his knife and stabbed Gina in the same injured thigh until she screamed.

Again, Tony started forward but stopped when the bad man put the knife to her throat.

“Do it!” he threatened. “Come one step closer and see what happens!”

Tony backed off and raised his hands again. “Okay. We’re cool. Just… please stop this.”

“No more fucking names!” he said. He turned to Gina and grabbed her roughly by the chin. “Next outburst and I take it out on him. You got that, meat?”

Through tears of frustration and pain, Gina bit her tongue and nodded. Her eyes screamed murder.

“Good!” The bad man moved the knife away from Gina’s throat and stepped beside her. “Now, next thing.” He reached down near him and picked up a bag. He then tossed it underhanded toward Tony’s feet. The contents of the bag rattled as metal struck the concrete.

Tony stared at the bag.

“Well… open it, meat,” the bad man said, in a scolding voice.

Tony emptied the contents of the bag and wasn’t surprised to discover a short chain with a pair of handcuffs fastened to both ends.

“There wasn’t time to bolt something more appropriate into the concrete, meat. But you’ll make do. Now… remove your clothing… and I mean all of it. Meat doesn’t need clothes or names anymore.”

Gina saw the pitiful look on Tony’s face. “I’m sorry I got you into this,” he said to her, mindful not to say her name. He began to remove his clothes.

“You can’t just make him strip and lock him back up,” Gina protested. “I thought you said you were still a man. A real man would show some fucking decency.”

“It’s okay,” Tony said. “Just let me do this.”

“No, fucking way!”

The bad man sighed his impatience. He knelt down next to Gina and said, “You are extremely stubborn… and selfish, meat. I’ll show mercy instead. That one was free. Next outburst and I’ll strip you down, too. Make him watch me do it. Do you think he’ll appreciate that, meat?”

“No… you don’t have to do that,” Tony pleaded. “I’m doing what you said.”

The bad man shook his head at Gina and said, “He understands, meat. Better start getting with the program or it’s going to get real ugly down here really fast. There’s a way you both can survive what comes next. But know that you will never be who you were… ever again. That’s the price for your lives. Tony gets to be my favorite pet once again, and Gina, well… maybe you’ll learn to behave enough one day to become my new radio voice. Doesn’t that sound… exciting?”

Gina swallowed hard and managed some control. “Sure.”

“Your lack of enthusiasm borders disobedience,” the bad man said. “I don’t pick just anyone for my radio messages. You will have to show a lot more appreciation if you expect me to extend any kindness in the future, and believe me, meat… you don’t want to get on my bad side.”

“Okay… I’ll… cooperate.” She looked over at Tony who was removing his pants. He gave her a grateful look.

Oh, God, just give me one chance at this fucker! I’ll rip his throat out with my fucking teeth if I have to! Gina silently prayed. It hurt her heart more than the leg wounds having to watch Tony humiliated in front of her.

Tony stripped off his underwear and felt the dampness of the basement on his bare flesh. He stared down at the chain. He’d never felt more helpless in all his life. When the anger started to rise up in him, all he had to do was look up and see how close to death Gina was, and his fire was immediately put out.

“And now the chain, meat,” the bad man said. “Wrap it around the pole and put the cuffs on. Place yourself in complete submission if you want to save her. And after… I want you on all fours like a good faithful dog.”

Gina glared at the bad man, who dared her to speak with an equally intense gaze.

She relented.

Tony looked at her and smiled. “I love you,” he said.

“I love you,” Gina responded.

“Enough of that,” the bad man said. “Get on with it. We’ve much to get accomplished this afternoon.”

Tony reached down to pick up the chain and noticed something that had fallen out of one of his jean pockets.

It was the photograph of Helen and the bad man, with the city in the background.

Brian… that’s his name, Tony thought initially, but now, after getting a real good look into what was left of the bad man’s face, he knew that the man in the picture couldn’t be him.

“What are you staring at, meat? Get the fucking chain on… now!”

Tony wrapped the chain around the metal pole and placed the cuffs securely around his wrists. And that’s that. Now I’m completely fucking useless.

But rather than let the despair take hold, Tony couldn’t stop thinking about the man in the photograph named Brian, specifically, why Helen had held on to it, even after she’d changed.

“Now, that looks much better, meat,” the bad man said to Tony. “Seeing you back in chains brings back… I don’t know… a little bit of nostalgia for me.”

Tony tried to shut him out as he continued to think about the photo. And then he remembered what that poor prisoner, Marvin, whispered to him before he left him dying in the dark:

“Marvin heard the bad man talkin’, yes, Marvin hears things when the bad man doesn’t think Marvin’s paying attention. The bad man was drinkin’, good and drunk he was, and Marvin heard him say something that Marvin will never forget. He cried out, ‘Helen, why’d you make me do it? Why did you leave me for him? Make me chase you down… make me… hurt you?’ That was the only time Marvin ever heard the bad man… cry, Tony!”

“Where are you, meat?” the bad man asked, getting annoyed by Tony’s distance. “If you’re trying to shut down, and tune out, I’ll make this one scream again to wake you up. What do you think of that?”

Tony felt like he was moving strange pieces of a puzzle around in his mind, trying to find the connection, and then an alarming realization began to surface. “Who is Brian?” Tony blurted out.

The bad man looked genuinely surprised by the question. “Who… who told you that name?”

“He’s in the picture… with your wife, Helen,” Tony said. “I thought it was you at first, but now I know it isn’t.”

Gina was confused. She gave Tony a ‘what the fuck are you up to?’ look.

“What fucking picture? I don’t know what game you’re trying to play, meat, but I don’t appreciate it.”

“It’s right there.” Tony nodded down toward the photo. “I found it in your house, lying on Helen’s bed. She must have been carrying it around before she…”

“Before she what, meat? Before you killed her?” Surprisingly, the bad man refused to acknowledge the photo.

“I didn’t kill your wife,” Tony defended. “I was hurt. She stopped to help me. Helen saved me.”

“Shut your fucking mouth! If she hadn’t stopped to save you, she would never have been attacked! It’s your fault!”

“Who is Brian?” Tony pressed, sensing that he had the bad man off balance.

“Brian’s nobody… fuck… why am I even talking to you about this-”

“He was the one in the car,” Tony said, the pieces of the puzzle falling into place as he searched his memory of that night so long ago. “When Helen got out of the car to help me, Brian was the one I heard calling her back… not you.”

“What the fuck are you… No… NO! You’re making shit up! Trying to confuse me! Helen stopped when she saw your worthless carcass in the road. I told her to keep going, but she wouldn’t listen. She-”

“Marvin said you chased after them… your wife… and Brian,” Tony continued. “I got the impression she was trying to get away from you… that you were trying to hurt her.”

“LIAR! All lies! That’s not what happened!”

“I remember the end much more clearly now. After she tried to help me in the road, someone else was there, someone attacked her while Brian tried to warn her.”

“Stop speaking that fucking name, meat!” The bad man was pacing nervously now. “Brian’s fucking dead!”

Gina had no idea what Tony was doing, but she played along. “Was Helen leaving you? Was that why you followed them? Is that why you killed Brian? She was running away with another man… your wife… and then you went after them.”

“Where were you?” Tony continued. “Where were you when your wife was being attacked? Why weren’t you in the car with her… to protect her?”

The bad man turned from Gina to Tony, obvious confused as the false memory of that traumatic night started to crumble and the truth began to come to the surface. “Stop! Both of you… just fucking stop! You’ve got it all wrong. I tried to save her! She attacked me! Can’t you fucking see what she did to me? Can’t you see that if you hadn’t interfered that none of this would’ve happened?”

“’Interfered’?” Tony pushed. “Interfered with what? I was dying along the side of a road and your wife decided to help me. If you were there, then why didn’t you stop her? Unless… you did stop her…”

“What did you do to your wife?” Gina accused. “Did you hurt her? You did… didn’t you?”

“And Brian tried to stop you,” Tony finished.

The bad man stepped back as the assault upon his mind continued. Are they… are they right? Walter wondered. Did I… did I hurt Helen?

“Look at the fucking picture,” Tony said. “Is that you, or is that Brian, laughing alongside your wife? Why would she still be holding on to this picture… unless she was holding it when you murdered her.”

Gina stared at Tony. What the fuck are you doing? she thought. Play this wrong and he’ll slit my throat and then beat you to death with his fucking radio!

Tony caught her glance and nodded. Trust me, his face told her.

The bad man was holding the sides of his head. He was beginning to remember… clearly… what he’d blocked out so long ago. “You’re trying to confuse me,” he said, trying to calm himself. “You think… you think that if you can mess with my head that I’ll… that I’ll break down. You think that I’ll collapse into a pile of fucking grief if you can get me to believe that I hurt my darling, Helen.” He gave Tony a look that terrified him immediately. The bad man turned to Gina and said, “I’ll give you something to grieve about. I’ll take from you what you stole from me!”

Gina braced herself as the bad man moved in, blade aimed for her face.

“WAIT!” Tony desperately yelled. “Don’t you remember the words she wrote on the photograph?”

The bad man stopped. “What words? What… what did she say?”

Tony closed his eyes. Come on! Remember, damn it!

The bad man tightened his grip on his knife. He was within one swing from ending Gina’s life. She tried to remain still… invisible… hoping this madman would forget she was there.

Tony remembered. “She wrote, ‘Was an incredible night, Brian. Miss you already.’

“Bullshit! She’d never write that. She didn’t care about him! The only reason she left-” He started to remember more. Why did she leave? She… she called him… left me behind… after what happened… what happened with… Morning Star.

The bad man closed his eyes, unable to resist the invasion of unwelcome memories brought on by a name he hadn’t thought of since before he lost his mind to the infection which consumed him.

“Morning Star,” he said to no one.

Both Tony and Gina exchanged a worried look.

“What about… ‘Morning Star’?” Tony asked. “You’re remembering something. I can tell.”

The bad man stared at Tony with a pitiful expression on his face.

For the first time, Tony could see beyond the monster.

“What did you do?” Tony asked.

The bad man stared at him for so long that Tony wondered if he’d turned to stone. Then he finally spoke. “Helen came to the stables. She saw what happened… but she didn’t understand… she never understood how much I loved her… how much I just wanted us to be happy. Morning Star made me feel… needed. She needed me and I needed someone to take care of… until I could find a way to make Helen… happy. But everything went bad… very, very bad.”

~~~

THEN:

After Helen ran from the stables, Walter managed to stand on wobbly legs. He tried to point the rifle at the dead woman as if she would come off the wall at any moment and finish him off, but he was far too weak to lift it. The blood from the wound near his neck continued to bleed as he felt his body go cold… numb.

He couldn’t take his eyes off the hideous thing that had once been Rebecca Miller… his Morning Star.

Who will speak with me now? How will I ever hear that precious voice again? His mind was drifting into oblivion. A coughing fit seized him. He nearly fell over as he covered his mouth and felt dizzy. When he looked at his hand, it was covered in blood.

You are dying, what was left of his rational mind told him.

Walter became aware of his bloody shirt… and his neck wound.

“Shit! She… she bit me!” He dropped the rifle and looked around for anything to stop the bleeding and found a roll of duct tape on a work bench. He quickly tore off several pieces and began placing them over the wound.

He violently coughed again, producing more blood.

Helen! his mind reminded him.

Walter started moving toward the stable doors. But something felt wrong… everything felt wrong. He legs felt stiff, his arms heavy, his breathing was labored as if some massive force was pushing in on his chest.

When he got outside, he noticed the full moon, heard the sirens blaring in the distance, noticed a breeze that blew his hair back but he failed to feel it on his numb flesh.

You are dying.

Walter stopped and leaned back against the stable wall, trying to regain his equilibrium and retain his sanity. He felt like everything was slipping away.

Got to… Got to fight this… Find Helen… Get to the hospital…

He almost died right there, but then he saw the headlights pulling up the driveway. Walter turned toward the light and watched a vehicle stop, and then a man got out. He saw Helen running toward the man. They embraced.

Walter raised an arm, opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He forced himself to move toward the car.

Neither the man nor Helen saw him as they quickly got in the car and started driving away.

Walter knew the man, his name was Brian. He was well aware of Helen’s adulterous affair, but in that moment he wasn’t thinking about everything that had failed in their relationship leading up to this point. He only thought of Helen leaving… and never coming back. He couldn’t let her go. She was all he had left.

The vehicle was turning around, leaving the property.

Walter turned away and saw his van. He desperately reached into his pocket and found the keys. He pushed with all he had left to reach the van, unlock the door, and then collapsed in the driver’s seat.

Walter forced his eyes to stay open, made himself ignore the burning within his flesh telling him that he was so close to death. He started the car, turned on the headlights, and then looked into the rearview mirror out of habit, and gasped.

The eyes staring back at him in the mirror were not his own. They were demon’s eyes… death’s eyes… dark, metallic orbs on a pale, cold face.

You are not dying….you are already dead.

“Stop it!” he shouted at his reflection. His voice sounded foreign in his own ears. “Stop! Stop! STOP!!!” He slammed his hand against the rearview mirror until it broke off.

The vehicle had made it to the main road. Helen was almost gone… forever.

“No!” he cried out and put the van in gear.

Walter was determined to follow them, find Helen, and bring her home.

~~~

NOW:

The bad man walked toward Tony, his eyes no longer on the meat, but rather, the photograph atop the pile of clothes. He bent over and picked it up.

Tony considered kicking the deranged man but feared what would happen if his attack only brought back the violence temporarily held beneath this man’s ocean of deep grief.

The bad man stared at the photo and said, “My name was… my name was Walter Gorman… and I tried to love her the only way I knew how. But she loved another.”

“Brian?” Tony gently asked, trying to sound as respectful as he could.

The bad man turned and smiled. It was an awful smile. “No. She was in love with the city, and no matter how hard I tried, I could never compete with that. Brian was no one. He was a part of that city life she craved… and nothing more. She wanted me to love her… there… but I couldn’t exist in the city… couldn’t breathe. So I stole Helen from the city and tried to tame her… but I never could. The city wouldn’t let her go.”

“What happened after you followed them… Walter?” Tony carefully said.

Walter hadn’t heard anyone call him by that name in so long… so long. He allowed the memories of the rest of that night to enter and surrendered to the truth.

~~~

THEN:

All major Interstates and highways were backed up for miles forcing Brian on to a spider web of back roads that pushed him much closer to Lake Erie than he’d intended. He and Helen ended up on Lake Shore Blvd in Geneva, wondering how long it would take to run out of road completely and be forced to travel on foot.

Helen stared out the passenger window at the passing beach houses scattered across sand dunes. She could see the dark outline of the lake just beyond. She had no idea where they were or where they were going as Brian continued to scan local AM radio stations for emergency updates specifically related to traffic reports.

“This is pointless,” he said in frustration. “No one knows a fucking thing! All I keep getting are random reports of widespread violence and mass hysteria. People up and killing people for no apparent reason. This if fucking madness!” He looked over at the despondent woman. “Helen, are you okay?”

She turned and looked at him as if coming out of a trance. She tried to put on her best smile, took one look into Brian’s terrified face, and then stared forward, covering her mouth. “We’re in trouble, aren’t we?”

“We’ll be alright,” he lied. “Just got to find some way off this damn road and make our way back inland.”

She nodded absently, and then reached up to bring down the visor to examine herself in the small mirror. “I must look awful,” she said. When she lowered the visor, a picture fell into her lap. She picked it up and smiled.

It was a picture of herself and Brian after their first date in the city. She flipped it over and recognized her hand writing:

Was an incredible night, Brian.
Miss you already,
-Helen

“I can’t believe you still have this.”

Brian turned and saw the picture. “Of course I still have it. That was the night I first fell for you.”

“But we’d just met.”

“I know.”

She stared at Brian with a mixture of joy and deep sadness. He deserves far better than this. I kept him around, told him just enough to believe we’d be together eventually, while I continued to stay with that horrid man.

“You can keep that. I don’t need it anymore,” he said with a confident wink.

She gave him a curious look. He really believes we’re going to be alright. That I can just forget everything that’s happened with that sonofabitch and just… run away with him…. run away from all of this mess.

For a brief moment she considered it. Why the hell not? Just keep going and never look back. It’s not like I’ve got anything left to lose… or any other reason to stay anymore.

She took the picture and stuffed it into the front pocket of her gown. She laughed at herself. “I really should’ve dressed before we left.”

“You were in no condition to do anything,” Brian said. “I wanted you the hell out of there. When we get far from all this crazy shit… maybe even across the state line… I’ll take you shopping.” He gave her a toothy smile.

She laughed and then became serious. “Brian, do you love me?”

He turned. “Of course I do… I’ve always loved you. You know this.”

She nodded. “Promise me we’ll never come back here.”

He gave her a strange look.

“I mean it,” she said. “I can never come back here again. If I do, and don’t ask me to explain it, but if I do come back, it will be the end of me. I can feel that with complete certainty. If you can promise me we will never come back, I’ll love you with all that I have left.”

He hesitated, saw the extreme fear painted across her face, and then said, “You got it, babe. I prom-”

Just then, a silver Sedan sped around them on the left, nearly going off the road because of how fast it was moving.

“Shit!” Brian said, barely managing to swerve to the right in time and avoid being side-swiped. “Fucking idiot!” he yelled out his window.

The Sedan continued to speed off, swerving on both sides of the road as if the driver were drunk… or fleeing from the Devil himself.

“Sorry, babe. I didn’t even see him coming up behind us,” Brian said. “What the hell is wrong with everyone tonight?”

Just before they lost sight of the Sedan, they watched it swerve widely toward the shoulder on the right, almost going off into the sand dunes. They heard something get struck and tires squealing as the Sedan sped off. The passenger-side mirror had been broken off and came bouncing back toward them.

“Oh my God!” Helen nearly screamed. “He hit someone! There! Look! Right by the edge of the road!”

“Shit, hold on.” Brian pulled the car over.

Helen rushed out of the car and approached a big man lying on his back. “Oh my God! Are you alright?”

The man tried but failed to respond.

“He’s hurt. Help me get him in the car.”

“What if he’s… sick like the others?” Brian asked. He hesitated by the car.

“He’s fine!” she said. “Didn’t you just see what that asshole did? He hit him and just kept going!”

“We can’t take him to the hospital,” Brian added. “I’m not going back to the city! You saw what’s happening there! Everyone’s going crazy!”

Helen looked to Brian. It was clear he didn’t know what to do. She looked back down at the man. He had a kind face. Are you just going to ignore this one, too? she thought. Turn your back and pretend this isn’t happening… like you did with Rebecca Miller?

As much as she hated the thought of turning around and going back to her house, Helen knew she had supplies there that could help this man. And there was nowhere else they could go… not anymore… perhaps not ever again.

This is your one chance to make up for what you failed to stop with Rebecca.

She looked to Brian. “We’re not leaving him! Help me get him in the car and we’ll take him home.”

Brian gave her a look which clearly said: Are you fucking out of your damn mind?

“I can patch him up there,” she finished with a pleading look upon her face. Please… do this for me, Brian.

Brian sighed and nodded. Then he looked past her and shouted, “Helen! Helen, look out!”

Walter grabbed her from behind and started dragging Helen up into the sand dunes.

Helen kicked and screamed as Brian rushed over.

“You, sonofabitch!” he shouted, almost losing his balance in the sand. “Let her fucking go!” Brian stopped suddenly as Walter turned toward him, tossing Helen into the sand.

“Fuck off!” he spat, turning his hate-filled silver eyes on him. “She’s my wife! I’m taking her home!”

Brian backed up a step, raising his hands defensively. “Look… what the fuck? Your eyes… your fucking eyes are dead! What’s wrong with you?”

Walter charged him with a monstrous roar.

Brian back peddled and tripped over a large rock, causing him to fall into the sand and on to his back. “Get the fuck away from me! You’re sick… you need help!”

Walter saw the football-sized rock and snatched it out of the sand. With more ferocity than he ever knew he possessed, he brought the rock down hard on the top of Brian’s head… again… and again… He growled as spit flew from his mouth, sweat beading down his forehead. He couldn’t stop himself as he smashed Brian’s face in, the sand beneath quickly turning to red mud.

Walter stopped, out of breath. He became aware of a new sensation as he saw the bloody pulp that was once his wife’s… whatever he was. The blood aroused him as he was both horrified and ecstatic about taking a… taste.

Helen leapt on the monster’s back and screamed, “STOP! YOU’RE KILLING HIM!”

Walter could feel his wife’s warm blood coursing through her arms as she tried to choke him. He opened his mouth to dig his teeth into her flesh.

“NO!” he shouted, when he realized what he was about to do. “Get off me, Helen!” He turned violently, causing Helen to lose her grip and fall to the sand.

She turned and saw what was left of Brian. “You fucking monster!” she screamed. “Look what you’ve done!” She started to get up.

Walter raised a hand toward her. “Stay the hell back! I can’t… I can’t control this… I’m trying not to hurt you.”

Helen gave him a condemning look. “You’ve hurt me more than you’ll ever know,” she hissed. “I’m dying inside because of you!”

Walter laughed at the irony of her accusation. He, was in fact, dying. He could feel it–death slowly consuming him from the inside out. “If it wasn’t for you…” he started to say, but then stopped as he noticed the big man lying unconscious near the road. He could smell him. He could smell his blood.

Before he realized what he was about to do, Walter approached the wounded man, his new compulsion driving him, commanding him, to… FEED!

He sat down beside the man, targeting a large vein that pulsated near his neck.

What is this? he thought. What have I turned into?

Walter felt his rational mind slipping away, replaced by an overwhelming need to consume the blood. He opened his mouth, let out a savage guttural sound, and leaned in toward the unconscious man’s neck.

I am a monster.

Just before his teeth penetrated exposed flesh, Helen rammed into him with all her weight, knocking Walter back and away from the big man. She quickly got on top of him and began punching him in the face. “You leave him alone! This poor man has nothing to do with this!” And then she added, “He’s for me! Not you! He’s my chance to be free!”

Walter grabbed both of her wrists tightly, causing her to stop.

Helen looked into the madman’s alien silver eyes and saw it… the hunger.

There was nothing he could do to stop it now. I am a monster, Walter thought again. He jerked her left arm toward his mouth and bit deep into her forearm, tearing into her flesh and letting the blood fill his mouth.

Helen screamed.

He looked into her horrified face and saw a mixture of pain, fear, repulsion… and a deep sadness. This was enough to restrain him from devouring her as he pushed Helen off of him and then got up and tried to put some distance between them. He wiped the blood from his chin and shouted, “Run! Get the hell away from me!”

Walter knew the moment he turned and looked at her again that he would not be able to keep himself from feasting upon his wife. He almost tripped over what was left of Brian.

“Oh God!” he screamed, pulling on his hair and staring at the corpse. “I can’t… I can’t stop this…”

He immediately knelt down beside Brian’s body and started eating from what was left of his crushed in face. The more he tasted Brian’s flesh, the more savage he became as he ripped into Brian’s throat with his teeth.

Helen sat in the sand, cupping her wound with one hand, as she felt faint…weak… helpless to do anything but watch as the man she once loved devoured the man who once loved her.

She felt cold… very cold.

A few hours later, she felt nothing at all… except a hunger which invaded her soul and consumed it as a stranger with yellow eyes stared back at her from her bedroom prison mirror.

~~~

NOW:

The bad man fell to his knees in front of Tony. He dropped his knife and the photograph, placed his hands over his face… and began sobbing.

The truth of his actions had done more damage than anything Tony could’ve tried. For the first time, he thought they might escape this basement. Tony looked over at Gina and saw the same hope in her eyes. But he had to keep pushing. He had to keep pushing while Walter was still present, and not the bad man. “Walter… I know it hurts. I know you just want to curl up in a corner and die for what you did… for what you didn’t mean to do… to Helen. If I’d done that to Gina… I’d never be able to forgive myself. But you have a chance to make things right.”

Walter looked up into Tony’s face. “What I’ve done is unforgivable. I… I infected the only person I’ve ever loved… made her worse than what was done to me. She called me a monster. She was right.”

“Walter, please… don’t let it happen again. Don’t take away the woman I love and do to her what you did to Helen. You still possess the ability to choose, no matter what you are now. You can choose to let Gina go and not give in to the sickness gnawing away inside of you.” Tony swallowed hard. “It’s not your fault. You didn’t know what you were doing… but now you do.”

Walter shook his head in disbelief. “How? How can you possibly believe that? Look at what I’ve done to you and your friends… and my wife. How can you not believe it’s all my fault?”

“Because you were not yourself when you did these bad things,” Tony lied. “You were once a better man, a man who loved his wife, but then you got sick, like so many others… but now you have a chance to fight this thing and let Walter come back.”

“Is that really possible? Can I… go back to being that man?”

“Yes, you can. And you can prove it to yourself right now by letting us go. Can you do that, Walter?” Tony was sweating profusely. He expected the bad man to resurface at any moment while he tried to reason with madness.

“I… I can do that,” Walter said. He picked his knife back up.

“Good, good. Now, just go and cut Gina loose. You can do it, Walter.”

Walter nodded, but continued to hesitate.

Tony pushed. “Come on, Walter. Do it for Helen.”

The bad man turned and glared at him. “You don’t get it… none of you do!” The bad man got to his feet. “You patronize me, try to use my grief against me, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that I remember everything now and that I want to be a better man… a man that Helen could love. Because it’s still there.”

Fuck me, I’m losing him. “What’s still there, Walter?” Tony asked.

“The fucking hunger. It’s always there… always… there.” He turned away from Tony and started toward Gina.

“Just… cut her loose, Walter, and we’ll talk about it some more… okay?”

The bad man did not respond as he continued toward Gina.

Gina saw the look in the bad man’s eyes. She’d seen it before. Gerald Schuler, the man who had raped her that first hellish night so long ago, the monster who had craved her flesh afterwards, had given her the same damn look. “Tony,” she said, struggling in vain against her restraints.

“I’m here, Gina. Don’t worry. He’ll let you loose.”

“Tony,” she said with more urgency. “He’s not coming over here to let me go.”

The bad man dropped the knife to the ground.

“Walter,” Tony said. “What are you doing? Pick up the knife and cut Gina loose. You can do this.”

“Tony!” she said. “I love you, Tony. But you need to turn away now. I don’t want you to watch this.”

Tony could see the horror in her eyes and understood what Walter was about to do. “No! Walter… you don’t want to do this! Think of Helen, Walter… think of Helen!”

“I’m so hungry, Tony,” the bad man said. “Maybe if I just… take a little taste… like before… I’ll forget. Maybe I’ll forget all of it. Maybe if I taste enough… I’ll forget Helen, too. It’s hard to stay damned if you can’t remember any of it.”

Tony yanked against his chains, trying to get free. “Walter… just stop! Don’t you touch her! Do you hear me, Walter? DON’T YOU TOUCH HER!”

The bad man, formerly Walter Gorman, stopped in front of Gina. He was staring at her neck.

Gina pictured herself chained to a bed, like Helen, with yellow fire for eyes and Tony’s head in her lap as she feasted from the sea of forgetfulness. Oh fuck… fuck… FUCK!

Gina screamed as the bad men leaned in with his mouth wide open.

Tony was shouting and weeping as he pulled so hard on the handcuffs that his wrists began to bleed.

Suddenly, the CB radio came to life, squelching loudly.

The bad man stopped an inch form Gina’s throat and turned toward the radio.

“Attention, attention. To the fucking lunatic who has my friends and insists on broadcasting messages with the words ‘Waffle House’ in it, causing me to constantly crave pancakes I can’t have… stop what you’re doing and fucking listen.”

Tony and Gina stared at each other.

It was Nine.

The bad man walked over the radio and stared at it.

“I have your zombie. You have exactly five minute to release my friends,” Nine continued to broadcast. “If I don’t see them both on the Sampson’s front porch, alive and well… I’m going to put a bullet in Helen’s head.”

~~~

Next Episode 34-6

Previous Episode 34-4

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 34-5: 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. nashmcgowan says:

    Really good entry!

    Like

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