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~~~

Logan continued to stare down Frederick. The calmness that fell upon him felt unnatural as he held his handgun in the nervous man’s face. Is this who I really am? he thought. After all this time running as hard as I could from my previous life… has it finally caught up to me? Or has it always been there, waiting to rear its ugly head in a moment like this?

He decided that this was different. For once, he didn’t enjoy the call to violence or hate the person on the receiving end. Different, yet, just as lethal a moment as any he’d ever been in before.

Father, please… end this. I would rather not finish my days the same way I started them. May we not come to a violent conclusion today, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Frederick quickly wiped the sweat from his forehead. There were too many weapons pointing in too many directions. His men clearly had more guns, but this would be a bloodbath regardless. That damn fool said this would be easy! Lannister said that Logan would yield and all we’d have to do is wait here until it was all over. Frederick hadn’t wanted to be involved in the uprising, but felt he couldn’t remain neutral and still expect to have a place in Lannister’s ranks. So he’d volunteered to lead the assault on Cubicle City, believing that it was the easiest assignment. Now, it was on the verge of being the bloodiest.

“How would you like to proceed, Frederick?” Logan asked. “Or would you prefer to stand here until someone gets a nervous twitch in their trigger finger?”

“Fuck… Logan,” Frederick said, shaking his head. “This wasn’t supposed to go down like this! You all were supposed to sit on your damn hands and pray or sing songs. We were just supposed to keep you all in here… that’s it.”

Logan smiled at the man. He genuinely liked Frederick who was a level-headed young man most of the time. He was surprised to find him involved in Lannister’s mess. “It’s not too late to join us. Just have your men lower their weapons and we can end this the right way. I may be preaching today, but I’m still in charge of security… Gina’s security. I can forgive anything that’s happened so far. No one’s been hurt yet. What do you say?”

“And if Lannister’s plan succeeds… then I’m a dead man,” Frederick said. “I’m going to put an end to this now, Logan. I still think you’re bluffing… God… I hope so. Either way, I’m counting to three. If you and the others aren’t sitting by then, with all your guns laying on the floor, then I’m going to order these men to open fire.”

Logan frowned. “You must do what you feel is right… and we will do the same. So let’s count together and see what happens.”

“You’re crazy, Logan.”

“No… I’m just really stubborn.” He smiled.

Frederick laughed. “Shit, this sucks.” He reestablished his aim and shouted, “On the count of three, if these men and women haven’t lowered their weapons, you are all to open fire!”

Many of Lannister’s men felt as Frederick did. Some were hesitant while others stood resolved to see Gina removed from command at any cost. Either way, they all took aim on the nervous looking congregation. As for Logan’s resistance, many of them were praying while holding their guns locked in on Lannister’s men.

“Shall we begin?” Logan said.

Frederick gave him an annoyed look. “ONE!”

No one moved.

“TWO,” Logan chimed in, raising his eyebrows.

Again, neither side backed down.

Frederick’s hands were sweating badly. He had to tighten his grip on the weapon, causing it to shake.

Logan closed his eyes and prayed.

Frederick took a deep breath, opened his mouth, and…

“Frederick… its Lannister. Stand down. We’ve been compromised. It’s over.”

Frederick held his position, waiting for the gunshots that never came. Finally he stared at his radio and let out a nervous laugh.

“Praise God!” Logan said, lowering his gun. He turned toward the congregation. “Stand down, everyone. Lower your weapons!” He turned to Frederick. “It’s over, son. Tell me you’re not as relieved as I am and I’ll call you a liar.”

Frederick laughed and lowered his rifle. He signaled the others to do the same.

They all obliged.

Frederick retrieved his radio and transmitted. “Copy. Standing down.”

Another voice broke through the radio static. “Frederick, this is Stephen. Put Logan on immediately.”

Frederick handed the radio to Logan. “Stephen. It’s damn good to hear your voice. I’m glad you’re alright.”

“Logan,” Stephen’s voice came over. “I need you to round up whoever you have left and hold those turncoats there until we resolve matters.”

“You got it,” Logan transmitted.

Frederick raised his empty arms to Logan and said, “I guess that makes us your prisoners.”

“Nothing’s changed,” Logan said. “Bring your men over and join us in praying for the community, and I’ll put a good word in at your parole hearing after Gina decides what to do with all of you.” He gave Frederick a wink.

“You are a strange, strange man, Logan,” Frederick said.

“I’ll take strange over dead any damn day of the week,” Logan added with an infectious laugh.

After separating Lannister’s men from their weapons, they all sat down with the congregation. Logan put Bear and Barney in charge of the prisoners.

“Now… where were we?” Logan said with a big grin. “Ah, yes, this is the part where we thank God for his miraculous deliverance and-”

“Logan,” Frederick interrupted. “You know… we never meant to take it this far… right?”

Logan smiled. “I know. I know. We’ll discuss it later with a healthy dose of repentance and prayer if it will ease your conscience.”

“I need to tell you something important, first,” Frederick said.

~~~

“Frederick… its Lannister. Stand down. We’ve been compromised. It’s over.”

Sabastian’s face changed from a look of confusion to downright rage when he heard Lannister’s voice over his radio. “Fucking coward!” he shouted, kicking over a nearby chair. He then grabbed the held-held radio from his belt and threw it hard against the wall. The broken radio fell to the floor in several pieces.

“It’s over, son,” Coop said. “You heard the man. Now let’s just calm-”

“Shut up!” Sabastian shouted, pointing the gun at Coop’s head. “It’s over when I decide it’s-”

“Coop!” Meredith yelled.

Before anyone could react, Megan let out a muffled scream and ripped her taped right arm free of the wheelchair. She leaned forward, taking a swing at Meredith.

Meredith fell backward into Cooper to avoid Megan’s arm, knocking him forward. She hit the ground in front of Megan’s wheelchair.

Coop caught himself, falling forward on the closest table, but dropped the tranquiller gun.

“Shit!” Sabastian yelled, trying to get a clear shot at Megan. He fired wildly, three rounds hitting a support beam just to the left of Megan, where Meredith was standing just a moment before.

“Megan, stop!” Meredith shouted.

Megan grabbed the tape around her mouth and ripped it free, tearing out her hair in the process, which just further enraged the savage young woman. She set her mercury eyes on Sabastian, letting loose a guttural scream, and then started rocking the chair from side to side until it fell over.

Sabastian started running through a small aisle between the mess hall tables to get a better shot. “I told you fuckers! I told you!” he shouted. Panicking, he tripped over the leg of a chair and fell on his knees. He dropped his gun and it slid beneath a table. “FUCK!” he shouted, trying to locate his weapon.

Megan ripped her other arm free from the chair, found Meredith, and started crawling toward her, dragging the chair behind since her legs were still bound to it.

The wheelchair saved Meredith’s life as the beast was slowed down just enough for Coop to grab Meredith from under her armpits. He dragged her away from the half-dead girl.

Megan screamed in frustration, just missing Meredith’s foot with her arms. The crazed girl turned back and tore at the duct tape around her legs.

Meredith turned toward Sabastian and saw him clawing his way beneath the tables to get to his gun. She was closer. She pulled herself free from the doctor. “Coop! Don’t let him get it!” she yelled, pointing toward the gun. “He’s going to kill her!”

“Damn it, Meredith! Megan’s going to kill us first!” Coop shouted. He let Meredith go and searched frantically for the tranquiller gun.

Meredith started crawling beneath the tables, racing Sabastian to the gun.

Sabastian saw her beneath the tables, and then saw his gun. “Fucking bitch!” he screamed. “Fucking zombie-loving bitch!” He stood up and turned the closest table over, almost knocking it on top of Meredith.

The older woman rolled out of the way.

Megan tore her legs loose of the wheelchair. She got to her feet, picked up the wheelchair with surprising strength, and tossed it in a sideway arc toward Sabastian.

The chair struck Sabastian, causing him to fall backwards across another table. “What the fuck?”

Megan set her gaze on her would-be assassin and was about to charge the man.

Coop got around behind her, and shot the tranquilizer gun at point-blank-range into the back of her neck.

Megan screamed and threw her left arm back, striking the doctor in the side of the head with her forearm.

Coop stumbled backwards, hit his head against a wall, and fell to the floor unconscious.

Megan turned toward Cooper and screamed. She then grabbed the back of her neck and ripped out the dart. She started toward Coop but staggered to the right, as the drugs took hold. Megan took one more step sideways and then fell over, howling in frustration. She started to crawl towards Cooper before the powerful sedative knocked her out, but Meredith moved in between them.

“Megan!” she shouted, holding out her hands. “Megan, stop! It’s me, Meredith! Don’t do this!”

Megan managed to get back on her hands and knees. The infected woman stared at Meredith, the drugs overpowering her as her rapid breathing began to slow down. She looked… confused… then her arms went numb as she fell on her face.

“Megan… just stop!” Meredith pleaded. “This isn’t you!”

Megan managed to lift her head. She opened her mouth to scream and yelled, “HELP… ME… PLEASE… JUST… KILL ME!”

Meredith was stunned.

My, God! She spoke!

Megan collapsed, the drugs taking hold.

Before Meredith could move, Sabastian stepped up, his silenced gun in hand. He aimed it at Meredith.

Meredith lifted her arms defensively, while trying to shield Coop’s body with her own. “Please… don’t do this,” she begged.

Sabastian, breathing hard, looked at the unconscious doctor, then at the drugged monster at his feet. He smiled at Meredith, aiming the gun down at the back of Megan’s head. “Her first, bitch. I want you to watch,” he hissed. “Then… I’ll kill him… then you.”

Meredith started to weep. It’s over! I failed them! God, where are you? She desperately considered her options.

Let me loose, Meredith.

Sabastian aimed at the zombie woman, put his finger on the trigger, and whispered, “Bye, bye, monster girl.”

Meredith reached for Megan. “Don’t… DON’T!!!”

The single gunshot was amplified, causing Meredith to cover her ears. She closed her eyes and sobbed, “I… failed… I’m… so… sorry…”

“Meredith,” a familiar voice said. “It’s… it’s okay now. It’s over.”

She opened her eyes and looked up.

Logan was standing above Megan. His face was pale and full of sadness.

She looked toward Megan. She could see the slow rise and fall of her back. She’s alive! She then saw the gun in Logan’s shaking hand. His knuckles were white from gripping it so hard.

He finally released the weapon. It fell to the ground next to the body of Sabastian who was lying just behind him.

Meredith stared into the wide-eyed gaze of horror and hatred permanently etched across the dead man’s blood-speared face.

“It’s over,” Logan repeated, the shock setting in.

~~~

“You heard what she said,” Tony bellowed. “This is already over… and you all know it! Don’t be fucking stupid! Put the weapons down… NOW!”

The tension level was about to hit overload. Stephen could sense the impending bloodbath.

This can’t end like this! We’ve come too far… been through too damn much to do the deads’ job for them! He saw Lannister’s discarded gun. Stephen picked it and stood between his friends. He aimed it at the shocked man’s face. “Call them off!” Stephen barked.

Lannister gave the school teacher a surprised look. “You wouldn’t dare,” he challenged.

Stephen steadied his hand, took a deep breath, and aimed for Lannister’s forehead. “Stand down, Lannister, or I swear… you’ll be the first casualty of this little uprising.” He didn’t want to shoot the unarmed man, but he was resolved to do what was necessary to save his friends.

Lannister submissively raised his arms over his head, cowering as if Stephen had already fired. “Alright!” he said. “Just… hold on… don’t shoot that fucking thing!” He barked over at his men. “Stand down! Put the weapons on the ground!”

The men were on edge. This was not supposed to go down like this. Reluctantly, they started putting down their weapons.

When all Lannister’s men were unarmed, they raised their hands out in front of them, staring in disappointment at their failed revolt leader.

“Please… just take the gun out of my face,” Lannister begged. He no longer seemed so sure of himself.

Stephen shook his head. That was too easy. Damn amateurs! He lowered the handgun with relief.

“I want all of you lying face down on the fucking ground!” Tony barked from behind his shaking human shield. “Hands behind your backs… NOW!”

Lannister’s men started lying down.

“We’ve got this, Gina,” Diane said, noticing Gina’s shaking gun arm. “Sit down before you pass out.”

Gina simply stood there, gun still aimed towards Lannister’s men. It took everything she had to keep from passing out.

Lannister gave Stephen an accusing look. “You alerted them, didn’t you?”

Stephen smiled. “It’s called a covert ‘under duress’ message, you over-confident prick. As soon as I mentioned anything about a ‘boxcar’, they knew what to expect. Now, take out that radio and call off the rest of your dogs you let loose while Logan was distracted.”

Lannister glared at Stephen, shook his head, and then pulled out the hand-held radio. He transmitted, “Frederick… its Lannister. Stand down. We’ve been compromised. It’s over.”

After a long pause, a confused voice came over the radio: “Copy. Standing down.”

Stephen snatched the radio from him and transmitted, “Frederick, this is Stephen. Put Logan on immediately.”

After another pause, Logan responded, “Stephen. It’s damn good to hear your voice. I’m glad you’re alright.”

“Logan,” Stephen said. “I need you to round up whoever you have left and hold those turncoats there until we resolve matters.”

“You got it,” Logan said. The radio went silent.

“Gina!” Tony shouted. “What the hell are you doing?”

Stephen turned in time to watch Gina position herself just behind the prone men. She had a crazy look in her eyes as she aimed her gun toward the first man.

“We need to take care of this now,” she said. “These traitors will just infect more people. They can’t be allowed to live.” She then turned to Diane and said, “You shoot the ones on that side, I’ll take care of this side.”

Diane gave her a strange look. “Gina… they’ve already surrendered. There’s no need to-”

“Just fucking do it!” she barked, looking like she was about to turn on Diane. “We can’t allow this… this… kind of treachery to go unpunished! We need to make examples out of all of them!”

Diane raised her hands submissively. “Woah! Let’s just take it down a notch.” She looked to Tony.

Tony was staring at Gina with a sad, disbelieving look on his face. “Gina. You need to stop.”

“I fucking knew it!” Lannister said with a laugh. He pointed at Gina. “See? Do you finally see it now? She’s crazy and won’t stop until we’re all fucking dead for just looking at her wrong!”

“Lannister, be quiet!” Stephen said.

Gina turned toward the little man. She was seeing red. “Stephen… take that loud-mouthed piece of shit out!”

“No… Gina,” Stephen calmly said. “We’ll take Lannister into custody… along with the traitors. They’ve surrendered and there’s no reason to elevate matters any further.”

“Bullshit!” Gina was losing it. “Every time one of this ungrateful maggots opens their mouth to bitch about what we’ve done for them, they just spread their poison! It’s time to end it! Starting with that one!” She raised her handgun at Lannister.

Tony stepped in front of her.

“Move!” she screamed, lowering her gun slightly.

Nine and Diane looked unsure of what to do. They turned to Stephen who looked equally shocked.

“No,” Tony said. “I will not.”

Gina glared at the big man.

For a moment, Stephen thought she might shoot Tony to get to Lannister.

Tony stood like stone with a pitiful expression on his face.

“Gina,” Stephen tried. “You’re not well. The fever from your injuries is making you… irrational.”

“Fuck that!” she spat. “I know exactly what I’m doing! Now… help me finish this because you and I know how this will end. We’ll let these traitors go and they’ll just fuck us in another way once they’re outside!”

“Is that why you gunned down Brannigan and Tyler? Because you thought they’d come back one day and harm the community?” Tony asked. “Or was that just murder?”

Gina stopped. She looked like Tony just knocked the wind out of her.

Stephen, Diane and Nine all looked confused.

“I fucking knew it!” Lannister screamed. “Murderer! This is who we have running things? Seriously? She’s a cold-blooded killer! If the rest of you weren’t here… we’d all be dead, too!”

“Just shut up!” Diane yelled, raising her gun at Lannister.

Lannister raised his hands and finished, “Okay… but this is why. This is why we started this!”

Gina felt frozen in time. She couldn’t look away from the man she loved. His eyes were so cold… so compassionless. She’d die a thousand times just to never have Tony look at her like that ever again. All of her anger was immediately snuffed out by the big man’s intense, accusing stare.

She tried to speak. “How… how long have you-”

“I’m relieving you of command, Gina.” Tony took a deep breath. “As your second in command, I’m declaring you unfit to lead. You’re not well… and you need to get some help.”

The others were shocked by Tony’s words.

Gina’s face went pale. She felt his words strike her like a dagger inserted into her heart.

“Ho…ly… shit!” Lannister said with a laugh. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Diane kicked him… hard.

“This is bullshit, Tony!” Nine said. “What are you doing? This is Gina! You can’t just-”

Stephen put a hand on the young man’s shoulder and shook his head.

Nine took a breath and got quiet.

Tony could no longer hear anything outside the moment he and Gina were trapped in. He could see the pain he was causing her with each word… and it took all he had to get the rest of it out. “I’m placing you under arrest, Gina… for the murder of those two men… and for the protection of our community.” He swallowed hard. “Please hand over your weapons.”

Gina nodded and dropped her handgun. She quickly wiped a tear from the corner of her eye with the back of her hand and then placed both hands in front to show that they were empty. “Anything… anything else?”

Tony spoke volumes with his eyes… but said nothing.

Like an ill-timed omen, they all turned when they heard the gunshot from Logan’s .45 echoing down the hall.

Neither Tony nor Gina dared to look at each other again.

~~~

Next Episode 36-7

Previous Episode 36-5

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 36-6: Uprising” 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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Comments
  1. nashmcgowan says:

    It took a while but I really like Logan. he is like the second coming of Frank. Good stuff as always. I don’t always comment but guaranteed I am always reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gylion says:

    Is it bad, that I’m sad about Megan not getting to chew on Sabastian like he’s some kind of squeaky toy? lol

    Liked by 1 person

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