Chapter 35-6: Dead Dolls

Posted: January 19, 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

~~~

Doctor Arnold Cooper stared into the microscope with a heavy sigh. He looked back up and leaned back in his chair, ran a hand through his messy gray hair and then rubbed his eyes. “No matter how many times I look into that damn thing at those damn dead cells, I always come up with the same damn conclusion.”

Meredith came over with a cup of Cooper’s coffee and handed it to him. “And what ‘damn’ conclusion is that?” she asked with a teasing smile.

“Number one: I need a cigarette. Two: There’s nothing in that girl’s blood that makes a lick of sense. She should be dead… and yet, there she is, moving around in that observation room like a really bad joke.”

“Maybe you just need to take a break, Coop. Come back at it with a fresh set of eyes.” Meredith
sat down in the chair across from him. “I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until we come across something we’ve overlooked.”

Cooper laughed and dramatically waved his hands above his head. “And there you go again spilling that extra-large cup of optimism all over my damn ‘bitch-fest’! Frankly, Meredith, I don’t know how you keep on doing it.”

“Doing what?”

He got up and walked over to glass window of his lab and stared across into the observation room. Megan was sitting on her mattress with her knees up, head buried into her crossed arms while she rocked back and forth. “You keep trying to reach out to her, hoping that she’ll come back from that savage place, while everything I know about medical science says that we’re looking at a dead woman… and I mean… D E A D… as in, the lights are out in that brain of hers and never going to come back on again.”

“I refuse to believe that,” Meredith said. “Besides, I got a good look at this sickness when I was in Harpersfield and I know that this poor girl is still in there… somewhere… behind all that death and violence.”

“You keep telling me that, Meredith. But I find it hard to believe. Hell… I’m still having trouble believing that you can do all the things I keep hearing about.”

She smiled. “You mean my witchcraft?”

“Now don’t go putting words into my mouth,” the doctor defended. “You know I think the world of you and I don’t give two shits what anyone in this bunker says. It’s just that I’ve never seen you use your super powers in here so any hypothesis based on your… abilities… has no bearing now. All we have is one unresponsive girl and a blood sample full of dead cells. What’s left that we haven’t tried?”

“Are you saying we should give up then?” Meredith was getting frustrated. “Just place a bullet in Megan’s head and put her down like a rabid dog?”

“There are more humane ways to put that poor girl out of her misery,” he suggested.

The fierce look she flashed him could melt steel.

He raised his hands. “All I’m saying is that we don’t know what hell that girl is going through… and that it might be time to give her some peace. If it were me in there, I’d hope that someone would end the madness and let me go.”

Meredith turned away. Maybe he’s right. Perhaps we’re just prolonging the inevitable. And even if Megan could come back, what kind of life could she possibly have… like this?

Cooper came back and sat down in front of the tired woman. “From what you’ve told me about this strain of the infection, I’ve heard you describe it as being ‘half dead’. They are not completely gone, but they’re not exactly alive anymore either. So what can we possibly do for this poor girl? And what kind of life could she have if she had to constantly suppress her need to feed… on us?”

Meredith nodded, hearing her own thoughts echoed. “I know what you’re saying. Believe me, I’ve spent many nights thinking about what Megan would do if she ever did come back. Would she hate us for keeping her alive? Would she blame herself for losing the child and curse life? Would she ever be allowed to live freely outside this cage and out among the population? Every perplexing question I come up with leads to fifty more questions… and so on. Bottom line, we just don’t know what Megan would want. And until she can tell us, we need to make every effort to try and bring her back to us. Hope is all there is now.”

Cooper sighed heavily and shook his head. “You are one stubborn and remarkable woman, Miss Montgomery.”

She smiled. “I know.”

“Wait, I said that wrong. I think I meant remarkably stubborn,” he added with a wink.

Meredith lightly punched him in the shoulder. “Thanks for not giving up on me, old man.”

“Well… you’re going to owe me big time for this.”

“I’ll buy you a carton of cigarettes,” she said.

He sat back and folded his arms. “Hmm… sounds good for starters. But I was thinking, you still owe me that damn drink.”

Meredith leaned forward and said, “When Megan comes back, I’ll be your date to the prom.”

“Promises… promises…” he said with a laugh. “Now, let’s go over it again. Like you said, maybe we’re missing something.”

“Alright.”

Cooper stood up and started pacing. “We know this all started with The Change. We know that the dead and the living were affected in different ways.”

“Yes,” Meredith continued. “It struck randomly among the living causing many people to turn into those yellow-eyed haters.”

“And at the same time, the already deceased were re-animated, which accounts for all those dark-eyed sluggish drunkards roaming the countryside. And then throw in the rare red-eyed monsters, which we have concluded came from a small number of animals which turned and infected people before said animals mysteriously died off. Perhaps they’re smaller bodies could not keep up with the ravenous command to feed. So that just leaves the half-deads. As far as we know, those silver-eyed creatures were created through infection by the yellow-eyed haters. Correct?”

Meredith nodded. “The yellow-eyed haters infect the living and create the silver-eyed half-deads. The dark-eyed re-animated infect the living and create more like themselves. And as far as anyone knows, the red-eyed beasts slaughter everything they kill so it’s not known whether they can infect the living. But I think it’s safe to assume that they can create more like themselves, especially since they have a ‘pack’ mentally like wolves.”

“Which means,” Cooper finished, “that we have no idea what would happen if Megan were to bite one of us?”

“That’s true,” Meredith said. “I haven’t heard one story from anyone about half-deads infecting the living. So we have no idea what would happen.”

Cooper paced some more and then said, “Maybe we’re going at this all wrong. Perhaps instead of studying the psychology and behaviors of the dead, we should be looking more at the living. This whole ‘random’ thing is very interesting.”

“How so?”

“Well, was The Change really random or are certain human beings simply immune to it? I think I should start taking blood samples from our group and try to find the common variable in all of us. Perhaps by comparing samples I might find a clue that could help us understand this outbreak better. Maybe even develop an antidote of some kind.” He stopped, noticing Meredith’s million-miles away stare. “What is it?”

Meredith shook her head. “Just ghosts. I’ve been visited by a lot of phantoms from the past as of late. Just listening to you get excited about studying the dead reminded me of someone else I once knew. Even Megan reminds me of the past.”

Cooper sat back down and sighed. “You know I’ve tried not to press. Lord knows, Gina’s done all but torture you to get you to tell her what you’re hiding-”

“I’m not hiding anything!” Meredith snapped. “I’m protecting everyone, Coop! What I know isn’t going to help us bring back Megan or answer any other questions we have. What I know will get people killed. I’ve made my decision, for better or worse, and I’m going to do what I must to keep people alive. If that means keeping my past to myself… well… then just believe me when I say that I’ve got my reasons!”

Cooper raised his hands and laughed. “Calm down, before you set me on fire with those intense eyes. All I was getting at was that maybe there is something in your past that could help us with that girl… something you’re not connecting the dots to yet.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well… think about it. This group… Mother… didn’t they abduct Megan to begin with? If so, they must have had a real good reason. If we can figure out what that reason was, maybe we can shed some light on how to help her now. That’s all I was trying to say before you shot my damn head off.”

Meredith eased up. “I see. Well, I’m sorry for yelling at you. It’s just… I’ve spent my whole life trying to forget my ties with these people, and that was long before they went by Mother. And then after The Change… I started seeing things out in the open that used to be nowhere but in my nightmares… and I’m not talking about the dead.”

“You’re talking about that strange three-pronged symbol,” Coop stated.

“Yes. When I first started seeing that symbol again, I knew right away that something was dreadfully wrong… something more than just the dead roaming the world. And like a frightened child, I just hid from the truth, hoping that it would just go away… but it’s not going away.”

“And you figure we’re close enough to the Devil without making it worse by knocking right on his damn door, right?”

Meredith smiled. “More or less. Truthfully, if there had been another option at the time, I never would have attempted accessing the security door into this place. I would’ve done everything in my power to steer us miles away from here.”

“It’s that bad?”

Meredith leaned in close and whispered. “This place and all those evil men protecting it before the explosion… I fear they are just the beginning of something far worse… something we won’t be able to control or stop if they figure out what to do with us.”

“So you’re saying that Mother is well aware that we’ve been living in their fancy bomb shelter? Why would they let us do that? Why not take the place away from us?”

Meredith frowned and stared at her shaking hands. She clasped them together to keep them still. “Because Mother likes games. Mother likes to observe… everything.” She let out a deep breath. “It took me years to believe that I’d liberated myself from them. I’d started a new life…” She stopped as the painful memory of losing Hannah threatened. “But when I put my hand in that access port leading into this facility… and that I was granted access… I knew how wrong I’d been in that one devastating moment. It was like Mother had left the door wide open for me to come back anytime, even after all those years running and lying to myself.” She gave Cooper a grave look and finished. “And just like when I thought I was free… that’s where we all are now. No one is ever ‘free’ of Mother. There is only the illusion of freedom.”

Cooper nodded. “So… are you saying Mother let us in here by using you to do it? Was that Mother’s intent all along?”

Meredith shook her head. “I don’t know, Coop. God… I hope not. The implications would be… terrifying. All I do know is that I was never really free… and that Mother has probably had her eyes on me for a very long time.”

Coop shook his head and laughed. “So we’re either the luckiest S.O.B.’s for landing this place before everything went ‘ka-boom’, or… Mother has us exactly where she wants us.”

“Precisely,” Meredith said.

“And that’s why you don’t mess around with that mystery door at the end of the hall?”

Meredith smiled. “I’ve already opened one door I didn’t want to open, and now we’re all here. I’m not about to open Pandora’s Box a second time. I’ll die first before I do that. Besides, opening that door is probably exactly what they want me to do. God only knows what we’ll find beyond that door.”

“Maybe we’ll just find more resources?” Coop offered. “Maybe even some advanced medications and equipment that we could use to help Megan?”

“Maybe,” Meredith said. “Or maybe we’ll find an even smaller prison than the one Mother’s already assigned us to.”

Cooper had no response. Finally he stood up and said, “I’ll go check on Megan on my way out. You get some rest.”

“Where are you going?”

“That’s enough conspiracy theories for one day. I’m gonna go see if I can’t kill someone for a cigarette.”

Meredith smiled. “See you later, Coop.”

After she was alone again, Meredith couldn’t stop thinking about that unlocked door which took her back to the age of thirteen. There was so much she’d forgotten about. Maybe I needed to forget for a reason, she considered. Or maybe Cooper was right. Perhaps if she looked hard enough into the past she might find some way to help Megan… or at least uncover some definitive answers for herself involving her ties to Mother.

She closed her eyes and let the ghosts back in…

~~~

Next Episode 35-7

Previous Episode 35-5

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 35-6: Dead Dolls” Copyright © 2017 Scott Scherr, from the novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Four: Phantoms. 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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