Chapter 35-3: Dead Dolls

Posted: January 8, 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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~~~

Meredith sat up. “Who… Who’s there?” she called out. She attempted to reach for the lamp when she heard someone whisper.

“Why are you here, Meredith?” a creepy voice asked.

It sounded like it was coming from the nightstand, making Meredith retract her hand.

“Please… leave me alone,” Meredith whimpered. “You’re not real!”

“Oh… I am real, Meredith. And I’m coming for you,” the whispering voice continued. This time it sounded like it originated from the other side of the bed. “I have been with you ever since you turned out the lights,” the voice continued. “I live in the darkness.” The last word sounded like a hissing snake.

“What… what do you want?”

The voice did not respond. Meredith felt something crawl over the foot of the bed and onto the mattress. She rolled her feet up toward her chest and tried to crawl through the wall behind her. “Please… leave me alone! You’re not real! I’m… still dreaming!”

Suddenly, a light came on, illuminating a pale face. “Boo!”

Meredith gasped, covered her eyes with her hands, and began to rock. She wanted to scream but was too terrified. She started to sob instead.

“Oh, shit… don’t do that,” a girl’s voice pleaded. “I didn’t mean to make you cry.” The girl sat back and crossed her legs. “Look, it’s just a flashlight, is all. I’m not a ghost.”

Meredith lowered her hands and saw a young woman holding up a light to her face. She had long black hair with an odd streak of white that ran down across her long bangs. The young woman laughed. “See, I’m just like you.”

“You’re not… you’re not dead?” Meredith asked.

The girl gave her a puzzled look. “That’s a strange question… well… I guess that would normally be a strange question anywhere else but here. But, no, I’m not dead. I’m Clementine.”

Meredith’s fear started to fade. In its place came anger and embarrassment. “What kind of girl are you, then? Coming into my room in the dead of night and scaring me like that?”

“I’m really sorry,” Clementine said, shocked by Meredith’s tone. “I only wanted to play a little prank… you know… to break the ice.” Clementine looked embarrassed now. She started to get up. “I’ll leave you alone… again… I’m really sorry. Everyone says I’m kind of weird… I guess they have a point.”

“Wait,” Meredith said. “You don’t have to go. I was just… mad.”

Clementine looked relieved. She sat back down and smiled. “Miss Evans told me to stop by and introduce myself since we were going to be hanging out together in the morning. I just couldn’t wait to meet you already… so I came early.”

“Just to scare the life out of me?” Meredith said.

Clementine smiled. “You mean ‘shit’.”

“Huh?”

“You said ‘life’. What you meant to say was ‘scare the shit out me’.”

Meredith looked around the room as if any adult within a hundred miles would hear them and come running. “You can’t say… well… you can’t swear!” she said.

Clementine laughed. “You can’t, but I can.”

“How so?”

“Well, you’re too young to understand these things, but when you get older, you can say cuss words.”

Meredith suspiciously looked at the young girl again, and said, “How old are you?”

“I’m fifteen,” Clementine said with a note of pride in her voice. “That’s just three years away from being a full adult, you know.”

“You’re just two years older than me!”

“Yeah, well, fifteen is a long way from being thirteen. You’re just going to have to trust me. Fifteen is old enough to swear.” Clementine folded her arms and pouted, ending the matter.

Meredith laughed at the sight.

“What’s so funny?”

“You.”

Clementine cracked a smile. “I think I like you, new girl. Me might be best friends if you play your cards right.”

Meredith’s eyes went wide. “Cool. I’ve never had a best friend before.”

“So… I know your name is Meredith. Is there anything else I should know before tomorrow morning?”

Meredith gave this some thought. “My last name’s Montgomery. When my foster parents died, I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep it, but Finch told me it’s okay to keep their name if I want to.”

Clementine nodded. “That sounds fair.” She jumped tracks. “Finch is a good guy. He’s makes us all laugh. When I get a few years older, I think I might marry him.”

“Gross!” Meredith said.

Clementine rolled her eyes. “When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

Meredith started imagining herself kissing Finch like she’d seen her foster parents do to each other. “Double gross!” she said.

Clementine laughed. “So… you’ve never had a best friend before?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well… that’s okay. I’ve never had a last name before.”

“Seriously?”

“Yep. I’ve lived here as long as I can remember.”

Meredith didn’t know how to respond to that.

“It’s alright,” she said. “I consider myself a professional orphan. That’s why Miss Evans always turns to me to help the new arrivals. She always says to me, ‘Clem (that’s me), if you want a job done right, then only trust the best’. So that’s why you’re with me tomorrow, Meredith.”

“That sounds awesome… you know… for an adult to say something like that about you. You must be the best orphan in the county.”

“In the state,” Clem corrected with a wink.

“Maybe in the whole country,” Meredith teased.

“Or in the whole wide world,” Clem retorted.

Both girls paused and said at the same time, “In the whole universe!” They both doubled over with laughter.

After they regained control, Clem asked, “So what were you dreaming about? You were tossing and turning all intense-like. Must have been a whopper.”

Meredith raised her shields and frowned. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“How come?’

“Because it was scary.”

Clem nodded and said, “I completely understand.” She started repositioning Meredith’s blanket. “Come with me.”

Meredith raised her eyebrows. “Come with you where?”

“To the Not-So-Scary Place.” Clem pulled the blanket up over her head, leaving the flashlight on beneath.

Meredith giggled and joined her beneath the make-shift blanket tent.

“There,” Clem said. “Isn’t this much better?”

“Yes.”

“Anyone who’s anyone knows that getting up under your blanket is the best defense against scary stuff,” Clem said with an air of authority. “But it only works if you have a flashlight. Luckily, I came prepared.”

Meredith giggled again. “I feel silly.”

“This is no laughing matter,” Clem said, trying not to laugh. “Now then, on to the matter at hand. If we’re going to be best friends, we have to tell each other stuff… even the bad stuff… especially the scary stuff. Best friends can’t have secrets.”

Meredith looked concerned. She had too many secrets.

“Don’t worry, Meredith. You don’t have to tell me everything. We’re not best friends yet. But I have a good feeling that we could be. Don’t you agree?”

“Yes, definitely. But… do I have to tell you all my secrets?”

“Not right away… but eventually. We’ll just start with one secret tonight, okay?”

“Okay.”

“Now… what we’re you dreaming about? And don’t forget, we’re completely safe under here.”

Meredith let out a heavy sigh and told her what she could remember about the strange dream.

Clem laughed when Meredith finished. “You know it was those creepy pictures on the wall that made you dream that, right?”

“I figured,” Meredith said. “But it was the young man who terrified me the most. He said something to me right before I woke.”

“What did he say?”

“I can’t remember all of it, but he told me that this was a bad place… not that I think it is… but that’s what he told me.”

Clem nodded. Her face started to change as if thinking about something far, far away.

“Is everything alright?” Meredith asked. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. My dreams scare people sometimes. That’s usually when people start looking at me funny.”

“No, it’s alright, Meredith,” Clem said. “You just reminded me of something. It’s not important. Did this mystery man tell you who he was?”

She hadn’t through so when she woke from the dream, but the young man’s name came to her now. “I think his name was… Toby.”

Clem looked at her hard as though Meredith had just slapped her.

Meredith looked away from that uncomfortable gaze. “Did… did I say something wrong?”

Clem turned, her face had become an unreadable stone. Finally, she smiled and said, “I need to get going. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow and I’m not helping either of us by keeping us awake all night.”

“Okay.” Meredith still felt uneasy as Clem removed the blanket and jumped out of the bed.

She held out the flashlight. “Here, you can borrow this to get you through the night.”

“Thank you.” Meredith took the light. “I’ll take good care of it.”

“Alright, then. Goodnight, Meredith.”

“Goodnight.”

Clem started toward the bedroom door, stopped, and turned back. “Let’s make it official.”

“Excuse me?”

“Best friends… assuming you’re still interested.”

Meredith smiled. “Absolutely.”

Clem nodded with a smile. “Then it’s a done deal. See you tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow.”

When Clementine departed, Meredith stayed awake for another half an hour with the flashlight on and a stupid grin plastered on her face.

My first real friend, she thought as she drifted back to sleep.

~~~

The next morning was chaos.

Meredith was handed a plate of waffles as she stood in the large kitchen watching the other girls go about their morning rituals. Miss Evans was at the center of it all, orchestrating the buzz of activity surrounding what appeared to Meredith to be some sort of breakfast event.

“What’s the matter?” Clementine said, leaning in beside her. “Haven’t you ever had breakfast before?”

Meredith smiled weakly. “There’s… there’s a lot of people here. Do you all normally have such… exciting breakfasts?”

Clem laughed. “No. But whenever we get a new girl, Miss Evans likes to pull out all the stops. This is all for you.”

“For me?”

“Yep. She’s big on first impressions and we don’t mind because whenever someone new comes along, we get to eat like kings for one morning.” Clem looked at the plate Meredith was holding. “You gonna eat all those right here, or can we share them?”

Meredith looked at the plate of waffles and giggled. “Where should I-”

“Come on, newbie,” Clem said, taking the waffles from her. “We’re eating breakfast in the dining room today.”

Meredith followed after Clem, dodging and weaving in between several girls who buzzed by.

Clem led her into a large dining room where a long table was set on display with more food than Meredith had ever seen at one time. The room itself was lit up by a large chandelier. There were several old-looking pictures on the walls displaying various nature paintings. Several smaller antique tables lined the walls with various trinkets on display, all of which looked far too expensive to touch.

“Sit here,” Clem said, leading her to a large wooden chair at one end of the table.

Meredith sat down in the chair and felt like she’d shrunk. Clem sat down in the open seat to her left.

All the girls were taking their seats now.

Miss Evans sat at the other end of the table. To her right was a woman Meredith had not met yet. The remaining ten girls of various ages raced to their seats as if the music had just ceased to a game of musical chairs.

Meredith stared down at her table settings. Before her was a large china plate with ornate designs running around the rim. Her fork, spoon and knife were neatly placed on an intricately folded napkin. A young girl came along and filled her glass with orange juice. “Thank you,” she whispered long after the girl had moved on.

“Overwhelmed yet?” Clem asked with a wicked little smile.

Meredith simply nodded. That was when she noticed that Clem, as well as several of the girls, were all wearing beautiful sundresses. She looked down at her own attire. Meredith was still wearing her nightgown.

“What’s the matter?” Clem asked.

“I feel… a bit underdressed.”

“Don’t worry about it. You’re new. That means you get away with everything on day one. Remember that,” she added with a wink.

Meredith smiled back, unsure of what to make of that comment.

Miss Evans stood, tapping the side of her glass with a spoon to get everyone’s attention.

“Well done girls. You all did a fine job with breakfast arrangements this morning. As you all know, we have a new sister living among us.”

Sister? Meredith immediately wanted to slide off her chair and hide beneath the table when all eyes fell on her.

“Young lady,” Miss Evans continued, “would you please introduce yourself to your new sisters.”

Oh no, she means me!

Clem kicked her beneath the table and gave her an encouraging nod.

Meredith stood up, rubbing her hands together nervously and staring at her plate. “My… My name is Meredith. It’s… it’s nice to meet all of you.”

“You can sit down, dear. Thank you for introducing yourself.”

Meredith quickly sank into her chair.

Miss Evans lifted her glass and said, “Let’s give Meredith a warm welcome, girls! To Meredith! May she find rest for her soul… nourishment for her body…”

All the girls lifted their glasses and finished, “… and enlightenment for her mind!” Then they all began to clap and cheer for Meredith.

Meredith smiled like an idiot and looked to Clem.

Clem was trying not to laugh. “You should see your face,” she whispered. “Don’t worry, it will all be over the moment they start eating.”

Meredith discovered that Clem was correct. As soon as the attention was off of her, Miss Evan waved her arms toward the food and the girls feasted.

She felt fortunate when she could fill her plate and sit down in silence. All the girls were preoccupied by the majestic breakfast. There was bacon, sausage, ham, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, grits, cereal, biscuits and gravy, French toast, and several variations of eggs. By the time Meredith had wolfed down her second plate of food, she felt like she’d merged with her chair… permanently.

“When you’re finished,” Clem said, spearing a piece of sausage with her fork and drowning it in maple syrup, “I get to take you on the tour. You won’t have to do much today. Just be s sponge and soak in everything.”

“You mean like how I just soaked up all that food?” Meredith said. “You might have to roll me out of this chair first. I’ve never eaten a breakfast like that before.”

Clem laughed. “We want you to want to be here, Meredith. This is just the beginning. You’ll see. This place is… well… this place is special.”

“Finch said that, too,” Meredith said, noticing his absence. “What does that mean?”

“All in good time,” Clem said with a wink. “You’ll feel it better than I could ever explain it.”

Meredith let the strange comment go. She looked around the table at all these strange young girls, presumably orphans like herself. They were laughing and talking and acting like one big happy family. Most of them were a few years younger than her, and a couple of them looked her age or Clem’s age. At the other end of the table, Miss Evans and the other adult were talking adult stuff. For a brief moment, Meredith was tempted to embrace all of this. But then she remember her small suitcase upstairs, as reality came crashing down, causing her to frown.

“What’s the matter?” Clem asked. “Too many pancakes?”

“No, it’s not that,” Meredith said. “It’s… It’s just that all of this… these people… yourself… I’m used to all of it going away so fast… I’ve moved around most of my life.”

Clem nodded. “I get it. I really do. You’re afraid to let this place in because you might be shipped off somewhere new tomorrow, right?”

Meredith’s shoulders sank. “Exactly. Strangers have been moving me around from place to place my whole life. That’s how I ended up here. I can’t afford to like anything or anyone for too long… no offense.”

“That’s cool,” Clem said. She placed her hand on her shoulder. “Well, you’re luck is about to change. Do you want to know why?”

Meredith nodded.

“I don’t just let anyone become my best friend. And since you are, then I won’t allow anyone to take you away… ever again.”

“You promise?”

“Promise,” Clem said with a smile. “Didn’t you hear what Miss Evans said? We’re sisters now… and that means something here. But more than that, you and I are best friends, too. That’s a double bond that I will not allow anyone to take from us.”

Meredith smiled and wiped a tear from her eye. “Sorry. I am overwhelmed.”

“That’s okay. You’re here to stay, Meredith.” She then gave her a serious look and finished, “And if anyone tries to take my best friend away from me… well… they’ll be sorry… very, very sorry.”

~~~

Next Episode 35-4

Previous Episode 35-2

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 35-3: Dead Dolls” Copyright © 2017 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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