Chapter 35-1: Dead Dolls

Posted: January 1, 2017 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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megan

~~~

Meredith is staring through the glass doorway, into the observation room. There is a fresh trail of blood running from the door to the back of the room.

The sick girl is there, back turned, crouched down… feeding.

Meredith sighs at the mess Megan has made. Her hospital gown is spattered in blood. Her blond hair is wet and sticky with it. Her arms from the elbows down are covered in it.

She doesn’t understand how Megan can be so oblivious to her own savage behavior. Meredith knows that a part of the girl remains… even if no one else believes it.

The older woman tries to view what Megan is eating, but the girl is hovering over it, protectively.

Meredith decides to open the glass door, although she’s been forbidden to do so. She starts walking toward the girl. “Megan,” she calls out gently.

Megan does not respond.

“Megan… it’s Meredith, honey. Are you alright?”

Megan continues to dig her face into the bloody mess in front of her.

She moves in closer. “Megan, what have you gotten into? Has someone been feeding you something they’re not supposed to?”

The girl stops. She turns her head slightly to the right, just enough to watch the older woman invade her space.

Meredith can see that her face is covered in thick blood. Whatever she had, it was fresh… perhaps even alive. Somewhere in the back of her mind Meredith knows that approaching the girl like this is incredibly dangerous. She also knows that Megan should not be eating anything with blood in it. That was also declared forbidden months ago. But against her better judgment, she continues to move closer to the girl.

Megan turns away from the older woman. She starts to surround her kill with her arms, placing more of her frail body over it, fearing that the woman has come to take it away.

“Megan. It’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Megan begins to growl like a dog with a raw steak. She is unwilling to give up her meal and wants the woman to clearly understand that her trespass is not appreciated.

Meredith continues to move closer… closer…

“What have you got there, Megan? Has someone given you a rat or a squirrel? No… there’s too much blood for that. Perhaps a raccoon?”

Megan turns her bloody face toward the intruder, revealing her gritted teeth as she snarls threateningly at the woman.

Meredith is overwhelmed by the monstrous looking woman, covered in blood, her eyes–her dark silver eyes–already tearing into her flesh.

“Me… Megan?” Meredith whispers. Finally she realizes that coming into the room and interfering with the young woman’s meal will be the last thing she ever does.

Meredith puts her hands out in front. “Megan… it’s okay. I didn’t mean to get you upset.” She starts to slowly back out of the room. “We can talk later… if you like. Just… just let me leave. Alright?”

Megan turns her whole body toward the woman. She does not recognize the woman’s words, only that the woman is a far more tempting target. She lets out a primal scream and charges toward Meredith.

Meredith turns to run but falls on her stomach. Before she can get up, Megan pounces on her back and starts scratching into her flesh.

Meredith screams but there is no sound escaping her lips.

Megan roughly flips the blood bag over.

Meredith tries to defend her face with her arms, but the surprisingly strong young woman pins both her arms to the floor. There is nothing between them now except Megan’s blood-dripping teeth and those silver alien orbs staring back at her.

Meredith turns her head to the right, unwilling to stare into the bloody face of the lifeless beast any longer.

Her eyes find Megan’s meal and go wide with horror.

It is the remains of Megan’s baby…

~~~

…Her eyes shot open. Meredith let out a strangled cry as she quickly sat up from the cot in the corner of the infirmary. After a dreadful three seconds, her disorientation lifted and understanding arrived like a sunrise over an eternally dark place. She let out a nervous laugh and quickly covered her mouth. You old fool. It was just a dream… just another terrifying dream.

She took in the dimly-lit space that served as her sleeping quarters. She was surrounded by various medical ‘do-dads’ (as the abnormal Doctor Cooper liked to call them). There were boxes of first-aid supplies and equipment, a wheelchair, a few spare cots lined up against the wall, and a small round table with four wooden chairs which seemed oddly out of place in this underground clinic.

She let out a deep sigh. This little corner of the compound had been her home for almost five months. She seldom frequented any other area of the facility, unless it was late at night, choosing to enforce her ‘out of sight, out of mind’ lifestyle.

Most of the community, Gina included, despised her. She was simply ‘the traitor’ to some, as exaggerations had spread of her ancient affiliations with the group known as Mother. Others had heard of her supernatural exploits prior to seeking refuge below, and had dubbed her the Wasteland Witch. And still others whispered to one another late at night about how Meredith communed with the zombie girl, preferring the company of the dead over the living. Meredith still hadn’t decided which fiction story she liked the best, but it was clear that very few people felt comfortable whenever she was around.

It was Gina who had called it ‘house arrest’. Technically, Meredith was their ‘prisoner’, but Gina was not willing to lock her old friend up, no matter how furious she was with her. She had instructed Logan to inform his men to keep an eye on her, but not to restrict her from freely moving about public areas. And of course, she was forbidden to go topside where she would have access to her ‘abilities’ again.

To this day, she had not figured out why her abilities didn’t work in this place, but she was grateful. If she could no longer sense the dead, then they couldn’t sense her either. And she was truly enjoying her liberation from that curse which had tormented her for so long.

She slowly got up and walked over to the small bathroom. Fortunately, the clinic was the only space that had its own bathroom, allowing her less time among the rest of the community. She looked into the mirror mounted above the sink. She frowned at the haunted woman who stared back at her in the unmerciful half-light. It was hard to believe that she was once a younger woman celebrating her fiftieth year just before The Change struck. Her long black hair was streaked with an abundance of gray. Her once sunny face, replaced with sad eyes and dark patches beneath them to forever mark her exhausted state. “You are old,” she declared to the mirror and quickly turned away. Six months ago she had been approaching a healthy fifty. But after the hell which followed, Meredith felt and looked like she’d aged ten years. And this was the price for wielding her damn ‘gift’.

I’d stay down here forever if it meant never feeling ‘them’ rotting in my mind ever again.

And Meredith meant it.

She thought about the community and sighed. Initially, Meredith had tried to atone for her secrets, and help in any way she could. But no one would allow her to move on. So, she committed herself to the infirmary as Cooper’s assistant, while she spent the remainder of her time trying to bring Megan back.

Aside from the good doctor, who still maintained his crush for her, Stephen, Marcus and Tony were the only people who would come to see her, when time allowed.

Gina refused to come see her, no matter how hard Meredith tried to make peace.

It’s all about the damned door. That’s all she cares about. When she looks at me, she knows I’m holding back and won’t tell her things… and she hates me for it. Even when I hold back for her own good… for all their sake.

She splashed water in her face and then tied her long hair back into a ponytail. Meredith considered getting dressed but it was still far too early to get anything accomplished yet, so she decided to sit at the table instead and finish off the rest of Cooper’s coffee from last night that he’d left for her in a small thermos.

After getting comfortable, coffee in hand, Meredith soaked in the late night silence and slowly looked about the rest of the partially lit area. Her table sat directly in front of the lone hallway that exited the clinic. On both sides of the hall were two large observation rooms with walls made of a very thick glass. The room on her left was Megan’s room. On the right was Doctor Cooper’s all-purpose medical room. Meredith lived and worked in the top portion of the ‘T’ shaped wing at the opposite end of the exit.

She closed her eyes and took a sip of the warm beverage as she tuned in to the low hum of the machinery behind the walls. Meredith suspected that whatever was creating those sounds had something to do with why her ability to sense the dead was blocked. But she could only theorize.

Meredith let her mind drift freely, something she still had difficulty getting used to since she’d spent so much time guarding her thoughts from the dead and the living. She thought of Gina. She remembered the first time she’d met that frightened young woman at the power plant and how full of pain her eyes had been. She’d wanted to reach out and embrace her, tell her that everything would be alright… but even then, Meredith had known better than to support such lies. They had bonded and laughed and cried together before the dead came and slaughtered everyone… and there had been so much more pain ever since. Meredith truly missed her friend, almost as much as she missed her beloved Hannah.

Her eyes watered up and her hands shook. She could feel the surge of so much pain creeping up the shoreline of her waning strength and beginning to flood her heart. She thought of Douglas, Ashley, Amanda, Greg, Frank… even Charlie. She thought of all of them, all who had died since the madness consumed the world and it was too much to bear any longer.

She put the coffee cup down, took a deep breath, and tried to hold it all in… all the sorrow which had remained with her long after the haunted voices of the dead were severed from her mind. She lowered her head into her hands and wept.

It’s alright… you go ahead and cry you foolish woman. There’s no one left who will question you afterwards while you sit here in the dark and simply let go… just for a little while.

Her soft weeping turned to sobs as she felt the long awaited breakdown crush her in that vulnerable moment. She didn’t care. She let it happen. She needed to mourn so… very… much.

A shadow shifted into view causing Meredith to look up toward the young woman’s observation room.

Megan was there, standing before the glass door, staring out at her. The young woman’s blond hair hung wildly over her face. She lifted her scrawny arms and placed her hands on the glass.

“Me…Megan?” Meredith called out, wiping tears from her face. She quickly collected herself. This was the first time since they had started drugging the poor girl to keep her from being violent and hurting herself that Megan had shown any response at all, other than the lethargic, despondent motions of an injured wild animal who simply waited to die.

Between her and Cooper, they’d tried everything they could think of to reach out to the woman and bring her back from that dark, hellish place that Meredith had seen in these poor souls when she still had her abilities. Meredith believed that this particular brand of zombie was not beyond reach. They were neither dead nor alive, but trapped in a horrible place where she could only describe it as a place where ‘the soul slowly rots away’. Meredith remembered all too well what being in close proximity to these ‘half-dead’ individuals did to her and how sick she became when she reached out and let them into her mind. Fortunately, Meredith didn’t need to worry about that here, but it did limit what she could do to help the poor girl who suffered with what Meredith called the Silver Sickness.

Meredith got up and slowly approached the door, afraid that she’d scare Megan off long before she got there. “What is it, honey? Are you alright?”

Megan did not respond. She remained standing against the glass, watching the woman approach.

She doesn’t appear agitated, Meredith thought. It’s far too early for the tranquilizers to be wearing off. She’s supposed to sleep through the night. She’s never done this before! Meredith allowed herself this moment of optimism. She had to. She was all Megan had now since even Cooper appeared to give up, but continued to support Meredith in her pointless cause for her sake.

Meredith stopped before the glass door and was delighted that Megan had not withdrawn yet. She could not get a good look at her face due to her hair and the low lighting, but it did appear as if Megan was aware of her this time.

“Hello, Megan,” Meredith said through the door. There were open vents all around the observation room that allowed sound to pass in and out of the room. They could also close the vents when Megan went wild and started screaming, cutting off all sound. Fortunately, they hadn’t had to do that in a good long while.

Megan continued to stare at Meredith as if trying to understand what she was.

“My name’s Meredith, honey. I’ve been here with you for quite some time. Do you remember me?”

No response.

Meredith smiled and shook her head. “That’s okay. We will take this one step at a time. This is a big step right now. It’s so good to see you up and about and… coherent. Maybe in the morning we can-”

Meredith stopped short when Megan put a finger on the glass, pointing toward her.

“What? What are you trying to say, honey?”

Megan started tapping her finger on the glass… hard. She was getting angry again.

Meredith desperately wanted to understand. Think, you foolish woman. She’s pointing at you! What’s she trying to say? Meredith dared to move closer to the glass door, hoping she could narrow down what Megan was pointing at.

When the older woman was almost touching the glass, Megan appeared to get excited as she lowered her arms, took a step back, and started breathing heavily.

Meredith almost backed away until the young woman pointed again, this time at her face.

Meredith stopped and caught a glimpse of Megan’s face behind all that hair; she saw two metallic eyes with what looked like… tears… beneath them.

And then Meredith understood. She reached up and touched her own cheek, discovering wetness she had not wiped away. She raised her eyebrows and said, “Did… did you hear me… crying? Is that what brought you over?”

Megan lowered her arms and appeared to calm down. She looked at the woman one last time and then turned and retreated to her mattress, the only item in the bare white room. She laid down and turned toward the wall.

Meredith watched her go with wonder. She reacted to my sadness? She heard me crying and came over to find out… what? Was she… concerned?

She smiled and whispered to the sleeping woman, “I’m alright, Megan. Thanks for asking.” She had no idea if Megan could feel sympathetic any longer, not in her present state, but the possibility excited her. She turned away and headed back toward her table and then stopped when another thought struck:

Maybe she didn’t hear you crying at all. Maybe she sensed your sorrow and responded without understanding why.

Meredith turned back and stared into the observation room.

Megan was still lying down, facing the wall.

Meredith was caught off guard when an old memory struck her. Megan, in a lot of ways, reminded her of a time when she herself was just another lost girl trapped in a cage of sorts, being observed, just as Meredith was observing Megan.

“We’re not so different, you and I,” Meredith whispered through the glass. “In fact, it’s what makes us different from everyone else that has brought us together… here… now.”

Megan continued to appear unresponsive.

Meredith closed her eyes and allowed the past to surface in her thoughts. Again, she had worked relentlessly at keeping everything out of her mind for so long that she felt overwhelmed at times by this new sense of inner vulnerability.

And just like her blocked off abilities, her reconnection to those ancient days of youth were both a blessing and a curse…

~~~

Next Episode 35-2

Previous Episode 34-6

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 35-1: Dead Dolls” 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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