Janice, Terry, Mark and two others volunteered to investigate the power outage and secure the storage wing of the facility. Logan instructed them to attempt turning the power back on, if possible, but that they were to return immediately if they discovered any signs of intruders or additional sabotage. The power box, which controlled the ‘day’ and ‘night’ light settings, was located in one of the storage rooms along the narrow hallways, which ran the southern portion of the facility, eventually looping back around toward the cafeteria.

All five of Logan’s scouting party were armed and considered some of the most efficient shooters trained under Gina. They all carried small flashlights and used them sparingly, not wanting to give up their position as they cleaved to both sides of the hall with their weapons at the ready. They passed the cafeteria to their right and were about to turn the dark corner on their left, leaving them out of visual range of the hatch defenders watching their backs from the main hall.

As one, they turned the corner into the first storage hallway, guns aimed and lights flashing just long enough to verify the first hall was clear. They could see the open laundry room door at the end of the hall on the left and another blind spot as the corner of the next hallway stood opposite the laundry room on the right. The power box would be in the last room in the next hallway.

“I’ll take point,” Janice whispered.

They all silently lined up behind her as they shimmied down the right wall toward the next corner, lights off until the young woman had a chance to flash her light first, peer around the corner, and verify they next hall was clear.

The other four waited as Janice hooked around the corner, gun raised, flashlight out… all in one efficient movement. She turned her light on, intending to turn it right back out. Instead, she dropped her flashlight to the floor. To the others, it appeared as though she were leaning against the corner in an attempt to retrieve it.

“Janice?” Terry whispered. The woman hadn’t moved from the corner for three seconds. Terry risked turning on his flashlight. He shined it up toward Janice’s face just as the woman stumbled back and looked at him. Her face was pale from shock. She tried to speak, or breathe.

Terry shined his light down. “Holy fuck!” he said. Janice Rodney’s entire left forearm, from where she’d held up her flashlight in the backhanded position, had been cut off. Janice took a step toward him, the stub of her left arm dripping blood. She reached out with her one good arm, trying to touch Terry. And then another arm with a large blade attached to the hand, shot out of the young woman’s chest, splattering the dying woman’s blood all over Terry’s face.

Janice locked eyes with Terry, not yet registering that she was dying, until the bladed hand retracted through her chest and out her back. Everything had happened so fast, like cutting your finger off on a meat slicer, but not realizing it until you saw the missing digit and the bloody blade. Blood poured out of her mouth and nose. She tried to speak but was choking on the crimson fluid. Something from behind her spun Janice around. Her eyes went wide and she managed a tortured scream as the hideous beast, with bloody blades for hands, removed Janice’s head from her shoulders. It caught the dead woman’s head as the rest of her body fell limp to the floor.

Before the others could open fire, a beast wearing some sort of black robe over a bloody animal skull and ratted fur over what looked like a suit made of metal and bone, tossed Janice’s head at Mark, causing him to stumble backwards as he jerked the trigger on his rifle and blew the back half of Terry Collins’ head off.

Before Terry fell to the ground dead, the creature got up under Terry, using his corpse as a shield. All three men opened fire at the monster.

The beast charged the men, tossing Terry’s body at the first, knocking him back into the second. Mark’s gun ran dry. There was no time to reload as the monster sliced the other men to pieces.

Four more Shadow Dead were turning the corner now, seeming to appear out of the darkness.

Mark turned to run, realized he had no chance, and attempted to shout out and warn the others instead.

Before he could call out, a long black spear entered upward through the base of Mark Oswald’s head, the bloody point exiting between his eyebrows.


“They’re already inside!” April shouted. “That gunfire is coming from the cafeteria!”

Several of Stephen’s defenders abandoned guarding the door, believing the enemy was coming up behind them. They started scrambling toward the control room instead, led by the over-zealous young woman. Others were falling out of position and considering running for Cubicle City.

“Hold your positions!” Stephen yelled. “We can’t give up the hall! If they are inside, this confusion is exactly what they want!”

“Wait!” Someone yelled from the darkness. “I think I see them!” Those with flashlights started scanning sporadically, causing more disorientation than aiding in lighting the area.

“There! Behind us, I see shadows running right toward us!”

Stephen turned toward the cafeteria hallway. “There’s nothing there! Don’t give up your positions!”

All at once two dark forms sprinted toward them from the direction of the armory.

“Holy fuck! They’re right on us!” Someone shouted, pushing through the confused defenders and taking aim.

Stephen’s heart sank when he realized what was happening. “Wait! Hold your fire-”

It was too late.

Two of the defenders started shooting their rifles into the shadows closing in on them, this caused several others to line up beside them and open fire.

“I got ‘em!” Someone shouted. “I’ve got two down… in the armory hallway!”

“Cease fucking fire!” Stephen finally broke through. The defenders lowered their weapons as Stephen ran toward the targets, flashlight out and on.

“Oh, my God,” April whispered. She put her hands over her mouth.

Stephen’s flashlight lit up the attackers, lying still in a large pool of blood.

Josh Wellington, and Barry Batista, after hearing the woman scream followed by gunfire, had scrambled for somewhere to hide in the armory. When they realized they were trapped there, both men worked up the nerve to run back, abandoning their quest for the spotlights, and even their own flashlight, believing the Shadow Dead were about to cut them off from the others.

They died instantly when the defenders opened fire on them.


Jeremy turned away from watching the hall long enough to rub his eyes. When he looked back, five shadows sprinted across the darkness at the end of the hall and into the cafeteria. It had happened so quickly that Jeremy thought his eyes were playing tricks. He turned to the man on his right and whispered, “Did you see that?”

“Fuck!” Bernard said. “I don’t know what I saw… but I saw something.”

Before they could notify Logan, someone yelled, “They’re coming back!”

Everyone turned their attention toward the back end of the hall.

Two of Logan’s scouts were coming around the corner from the supply hallway, passing the cafeteria entrance, and approaching Logan’s barricade. They were carrying wounded over their shoulders and moving side by side.

“Shit,” John Calloway said, as the scouts neared flashlight range. “That looks like Janice Rodney and Mark Oswald, they’re carrying. We need Doc Coop-”

“Everyone, open fire! Right now!” Logan shouted.

Several defenders gave Logan a hesitant look.

“Damn it!” he shouted. “Those aren’t our people!” He pulled out his handgun and started firing down the hallway.

The Shadow Dead approached faster, realizing their ruse had been discovered, but still using their human shields to take the blunt of Logan’s gunfire.

Three more Shadow Dead, wearing dark robes and hiding behind the first two, revealed themselves, and started charging along the sides of the hall.

“IF IT’S MOVING… SHOOT IT!” Logan shouted.

The defenders started firing down the hallway.

“Logan!” it was Jeremy. “We think we saw more of them bolt into the cafeteria!”

Understanding that the radios were useless now, the preacher backed away from the barricade and ran to where the hatch hallway intersected with Stephen’s hall. He inhaled deeply and bellowed, “Stephen! The Shadow Dead are cutting through the lunchroom! Guard your backs!”

By the time Logan turned back around, one of the two Shadow Dead carrying the corpses was down. But the other one had made it close enough to the first table barrier to toss Janice’s headless body over the top, momentarily disrupting their defense. The other three were low crawling, using the front of the barrier as cover.

Something primal snapped within the big preacher, something from his old days. He fired his handgun into the skull mask of the Shadow Dead who had thrown Janice’s body, until the creature went down. “Defend yourselves!” he shouted. “It’s a fucking street fight now!”

The remaining three Shadow Dead jumped out with bloody claws drawn and leapt over the first barrier and into the defenders like savage wolves.

Logan could do nothing but watch in horror as his defenders were torn to pieces.

One just ripped Jeremy Lang’s throat out.

Another slit Bernard Ferguson down the middle; his intestines pouring out of him before he fell dead.

Dear Lord, Logan thought. These aren’t men… they’re demons!


“Stephen! The Shadow Dead are cutting through the lunchroom! Guard your backs!” Logan’s words, in the wake of more gunfire, echoed down the hall like a promise of death.

There was no time to mourn the dead, or sit horrified by his bad tactical leadership which led to fratricide. Stephen could simply react and fight or lie down and die… that was the simplicity of choices in warfare. If they survived the night, Stephen would have the rest of his short days to walk the haunted hallways of regret.

He willed himself to move. “Watch the lunchroom hall! They’re coming!”

His people scrambled to form a line to stop the enemy from reaching the control room.

“This is it,” he said, raising his rifle to lead the defense. “Fear nothing but letting those monsters make it down the hall. Nothing else matters.” He felt a surprising calmness fall over his useless emotions. He couldn’t afford to feel anything. Hesitation meant death.

Young April Baxter stood beside him, trying her best to share in Stephen’s calm void, like standing under an umbrella to keep out the rain.

His feelings would have had her go to the back of their defenses, sparing the girl from the slaughter for as long as possible. But he needed every gun now. Young or old, it didn’t matter—they’d all die today if they failed.

Whatever light they had left was shining toward the lunchroom hallway, which only allowed them to see the front end of the hall.

And then there was movement.

“Fire!” Stephen commanded.

The muzzle flash of six rifles briefly lit up the hallway… and hit nothing.

“They’re toying with us,” April whispered.

“They have been in control… until now,” Stephen said confidently. He just hoped that whatever was happening with Logan’s people—and it sounded bad—that they could hold the hatch hallway.

Stephen signaled six others to step up allowing the first group to stand back and reload.

The Shadow Dead were quick. Two of them moved into the hall from the cafeteria, backed inside, and then two more came out. Their movements were precise and efficient.

Several dark objects, lobbed from their position, started striking around the defenders.

“They’re throwing grenades!” Someone yelled.

Stephen pushed April to the floor and screamed, “Cover! Now!”

When nothing exploded, the defenders examined the floor with flashlights.

The Shadow Dead weren’t throwing explosives. They were throwing the human remains of their hacked-up friends.


“Is… is anybody in here?” Joe called out, taking a bold step toward the cubicles where they had heard the sounds.

As if in response, the low lighting above went completely out.

Beverly, Matthew, Wendy and Mark looked at each other for guidance. None of them knew what to do.

After a long moment of silence, Joe turned back toward the others, placing one hand on the butt of his holstered handgun while fumbling nervously with the holster strap. Joe’s gigantic gut rivaled his large cowboy hat as he had pushed his holster further back on his gun belt for comfort, sacrificing an effective draw. Between that and his sweaty hands and forehead, Joe’s attempt at appearing confident and in control failed. He half-heartedly smiled at them, still holding out the lantern in his other hand. “Relax, everyone. Nothing to worry about. Just a power outage. We probably heard the breakers pop through the walls or something. That’s all we heard.”

The others did not look convinced.

Joe picked up the hand-held radio, turned it down real low, and attached it to his belt.

“That didn’t sound like a breaker,” Matthew said. “Maybe somebody’s having a little fun with us?”

“Who’s having fun?” Wendy asked.

“Should we… I don’t know… go and investigate?” Beverly offered.

Joe raised up a shaky hand. “I’ve got this. Don’t you worry your pretty little head. You all just hang tight and let me take a peek behind those curtains. I’m sure we’re just spooking ourselves out.”

“Agreed,” Mark said. He addressed the others. “Joe’s the only one here with experience in things like this. We’ll just wait here-”

“Chicken shit,” Matthew said.

Mark shot him a stern look.

“No… no… Mark’s right,” Joe said. “I’ll go check it out. You all stay put.”

Before anyone could argue, Joe turned toward the cubicles, took a deep breath to steady his nerves, and then wiped sweat off his forehead. You can do this, Joe. Don’t be afraid of a little noise. You’ve been in far worse places and seen some shit. When he was done consoling himself, Joe moved toward the first row of hanging sheets and disappeared within the cubicles.

The others watched his lantern light cast a silhouette of the robust man on the hanging sheets.

Beverly snickered when she saw the elongated size of his shadow cowboy hat.

Wendy hit the tall woman in the arm. “Knock it off,” she whispered.

Mark was staring sideways at Matthew, still fuming for being called a coward.

“Look!” Wendy said, pointing. “What’s he doing?”

Joe’s silhouette stopped abruptly and then got smaller as he bent down toward the ground, placing the lantern on the floor beside him. “We’ll I’ll be damned!” he said.

“What do you see, Joe?” Matthew called out.

“Some kind of sinkhole… I think,” Joe said. “Looks like the floor just collapsed. I saw one of these once… it just opened up in the middle of a busy intersection and swallowed up a car.”

“This doesn’t sound right,” Wendy whispered. “Sinkholes don’t push cots around.” She called out, “Joe, just come back… please.”

They watched Joe’s shadow behind the sheets as he stood, removed his large hat, and appeared to be scratching his head. “Strangest thing though,” he said. “The tiles are all cracked around the hole… something’s off about it.”

“What do you mean?” Beverly asked.

They watched Joe’s shadow put his hat back on. “It’s like something pushed up through the damn thing… instead of it collapsing. Wait a minute! I hear something!”

“Joe, just get your ass back here!” Wendy said.

They watched Joe’s silhouette turn towards the exit and stop as another shadow—a large indistinguishable shadow—appeared behind him, as if coming up from the ground.

The new silhouette reached behind Joe with incredible speed and slit the large man’s throat, splattering the sheet wall with blood. Joe’s hat fell off his head as his shadow collapsed to the ground.

Two more unidentified shadows appeared behind the bloody sheets.

“They’re here!” Mark hissed. “Hide!”

The panic was immediate as four terrified souls dropped down to the floor and started crawling away from the prayer wall and toward the cubicles on their side. When they were beneath the first row of hung sheets, they scrambled to find the closest cots to hide beneath.

From their vantage point at ground level, they could all see the feet of more shadows crowding the area near Joe’s lantern.
They all tried to become invisible and not make a sound, hoping the Shadow Dead would overlook them.

Beverly shared a cot with Wendy. The tall girl started to cry. Wendy reached over and put a hand over her mouth until Beverly regained control.

Under the adjacent cot in the same cubicle, Mark and Matthew were fumbling around with Mark’s handgun, trying to turn off the safety in the dark. Neither of them looked willing to pick up the gun and risk giving up their position by attempting an attack.

They heard the Shadow Dead coming now, stepping out from the cubicles. One of them had picked up Joe’s lantern as the light shifted across the large space, shadows relocating as they all waited for the light to betray them.

And then the gunfire stared from down the hall.

“Shit,” Matthew whispered. “We’re so screwed.”

“Shut up,” Mark whispered back.

Beverly and Wendy stared at the feet of the Shadow Dead from beneath the sheets. They counted six pairs of feet when the monsters stopped just ten feet away from them. It was the gunfire that they seemed concerned with now.

Maybe we’ll still get out of this, Wendy thought, as the Shadow Dead turned and started toward the Cubicle City exit.

Mark focused on the gunfire and tried not to move. He was holding the handgun so tightly, his hand throbbed.

Matthew was nervously attacking his nails with his teeth.

Now I understand why they hid us back here, Mark thought. We’re a pathetic mess, moments from wetting ourselves!

The lantern light moved away from them, as the darkness returned within their cubicle.

Wendy strained her eyes to try and make out the feet of the enemy, but they were out of range, presumably gathered in front of the exit for some surprise attack on their friends. “We need to do something,” she whispered across at Mark.

Mark shook his head. “Hell no. Are you trying to get us killed?”

“They’re going to attack from behind… no one will see it coming. We have to warn them.”

“You go, then,” Mark whispered. “It was nice knowing you.”

Wendy scowled at him and mouthed, “Asshole.”

“There’s nothing… there’s nothing we can do,” Beverly whispered to Wendy. “You saw what they did to Joe… oh, my God… poor Joe.”

“Calm down,” Wendy said. “We have to warn the others.”

“No… please. Don’t let them know we’re here. Don’t leave me!” Beverly was near tears again.

Wendy nodded and grabbed the tall girl’s hand. “Okay… we’ll just… we’ll just wait.”

Mark stared across at the two women. He could barely make out their faces, but their hushed frightened voices, just like his own, was driving him crazy. He knew they were all dead. The monsters had finally arrived, and now, it was just a matter of time before they all got what they deserved.

“What are they doing?” Matthew asked. “Are they just… waiting for us to come out? Playing some fucked-up version of cat and mouse?”

The Shadow Dead had not moved for what felt like an eternity.

The gunfire down the hall began to increase. Whatever was happening, it didn’t sound good.

“Just… keep it together,” Mark said. “We’ll just wait it out. That’s all we can do.” Mark stared down at the handgun and then looked at each of them. I could end this right now. Put all of us out of our misery. At this range, even I can’t miss. As the unthinkable took root in his mind, Mark prepared himself for action. I’ll shoot Matthew first, then the girls. By the time those freaks realize where we’re at, it won’t matter. One more to the temple and then we’ll all be free… free from this shithole… and four less obstacles holding up progress. It’s they’re damn world now. We had our chance.

Suddenly the lantern light swirled erratically toward them.

The lantern struck the girls’ cot and shattered. Flames and smoke rose from the oil-covered mattress.

“Run!” Mark shouted.

The fire moved quickly, travelling across the hung bed sheets, cots, and anything else that would burn, as all four of them crawled their way back out near the prayer wall. They were coughing fiercely, they’re eyes burning.

Half of Cubicle City was already in flames.


“Meredith!” Coop yelled. “Get away from her door!”

The older woman stood at the observation room door, hands raised, trying to calm the young woman down. “Megan, it’s me… Meredith. You need to fight it, honey. Fight it with everything you-”

Megan screamed and ran full speed toward the door and rammed it with her head. The young woman stumbled backwards and fell to her knees, temporarily stunned, her forehead a bloody mess. Five minutes ago, Megan had completely lost control, ripping herself free from her duct tape restraints and escaping the wheelchair. She had started ranting about blood… so much blood… and how she could smell it, taste it, in the air. The blood lust was driving her mad.

Coop refused to give up his position near the clinic door. He had grabbed Meredith’s gun, intending on shooting anything that barged in. They could hear the gunfire from the hall… and the screams. Whatever was happening out in the hallways indicated that the Shadow Dead had somehow made it inside. What made matters worse was that the power had gone out, reducing them to a single flashlight that Coop was using to try and keep the dark observation room lit. “There’s no time for this, Meredith!” Coop shouted. “People are dying out there, if we leave right now, we might make it to Cubicle City.”

Meredith held her shaking hands over her mouth, staring at Megan’s blood dripping down from the plexiglass door where she’d struck it. “She’s hurt. I can’t leave her like this.”

“We have to go!” Coop pleaded.

“And go where?” Meredith cried out through tears. “You want to run away and go huddle up in a corner with everyone else, waiting to die in the dark? No one was there for this poor girl when those… those bastards did this to her… killed her child… and left her like this. How can I abandon her now? How, Coop? Just look at her!”

Coop forced himself to look into the observation room. Megan was breathing heavily, one hand holding her wounded forehead as blood dripped through her fingers and down the front of her gown. The girl pulled her hand away, distracted by the sight of the warm fluid. She started licking her open palm like a pathetic animal. He shined the flashlight toward Meredith, unable to look any longer. “I know it sucks,” he said. “But we can’t do anything else for her. She’s gone, Meredith. People are being slaughtered out there and all that poor girl can think about is how to get to all that blood…”

Meredith shook her head at Coop and then looked away. She knew he was right. Megan was lost. They should be out in the hall, fighting with their friends, fighting for the living… and yet, she continued to defend this sick woman, more dead than alive, who couldn’t stop licking her own blood off her hands. Does she even care? Meredith thought, suddenly getting angry at how oblivious Megan seemed. The living were being destroyed all around them and all this young girl could do was feed upon her own flesh like so many of the mindless beasts they had encountered out in this dying world who hunted them without compassion or remorse. Meredith’s face changed as she slammed her hand on the door. “Stop that!”

The Megan-thing looked up and hissed at the older woman, then went back to licking her hand.

Meredith slammed the door again. “You should be ashamed of yourself, Megan! You’re not some damn dog, panting from thirst in the heat, looking to stick your tongue into anything wet and disgusting! Stop that, I said!”

Megan howled more fiercely this time.

Surprisingly, Meredith growled right back, letting out all her pent-up frustrations, until the young woman’s eyes locked with hers. “Those things outside killed your friends… murdered your baby… turned you into a pitiful animal licking up your own blood… doesn’t anything still matter to you?”

“Meredith… please stop this.” Coop was getting increasingly uncomfortable. “She can’t hear you anymore. She’s gone-”

“I know,” she said, staring defiantly at the beast in the cage. “I know. She’s gone. Dead. Just another mindless monster waiting to be put down.”

Megan cried out in anger this time, sounding less savage and more offended.

“You would probably devour your own child without a second thought if I handed it to you, wouldn’t you? Just more blood. More… damn… blood! That’s all you are and all you’ll ever be!”

Megan stood up with surprising speed and charged toward the door, causing Meredith to back up. Instead of ramming it with her head this time, Megan stopped at the door and slammed at it with her fists, fresh tears of agony falling from mercury eyes. “I didn’t… I didn’t… ask for this! They… made me this way! I told you to… kill me… and you… won’t! WHY WON’T YOU JUST LET ME FUCKING DIE!”

Meredith boldly stepped up to the door and smiled. “Yes, that’s it, honey! See? Do you see now? You’re not dead. Dead things don’t get angry. Dead things don’t care. Dead things don’t weep. You are not dead!”

Megan closed her eyes and shook her head. “I’m… I’m pathetic… and disgusting.” She wiped blood off her mouth with the back of her arm.

“Yes,” Meredith nodded. “But you can still come back from this. You already have.”

“I’m… I’m a monster,” Megan whispered.

“Only if you choose to be, honey. That’s a choice we all have… every day. We can choose to be monsters, compassionless, numb… cold. Or we can choose to-”

“Love?” Megan said, her dark silver eyes displaying something Meredith had not seen before. Hope.

“Yes,” the older woman said through tears. “Yes. We can choose to love… in whatever way we still can.” She then looked to Coop and smiled like the sun.

Coop looked away and shook his head. “You are an amazing woman. Did I mention that already?”

“You haven’t stopped mentioning that, yet,” she said with a wink. She turned back to Megan and placed her hand on the plexiglass. Megan reached up her bloody hand and placed it near hers. “And you… you aren’t done yet. Do you hear me? You are not dead, yet. If you can still… love… then all is not lost.”

The creature in the cage, whether made calm by ingesting her own blood or by something much deeper, something much more profound than death, smiled and repeated, “If I can… if I can still love… than I am not lost.”

Meredith smiled back, and for a moment, everything else was forgotten. If the Shadow Dead killed them all before the night was finished, she wanted to retain this one hope-filled moment for as long as she could.

How very touching, Meredith.

Meredith’s face changed as the voice invaded her thoughts.

It seems you have abilities that even I have grossly underestimated.

Meredith closed her eyes, trying desperately to shut out the voice.

We’ll have to talk about this, and much more… when I see you again.

Meredith’s eyes shot wide open.

But time is short. And since you won’t let me out… you’ve forced my hand… made me go to extremes to get you out of there… to get you to come to me.

Meredith’s heart sank.

You know what you must do now. Maybe you can save some of them if you do.

“No,” she whispered.

I’ve already seized this place… all that unnecessary bloodshed to do it, too. If only you would’ve stopped fighting me and let me out… but that’s irrelevant now. You talk of choices. I give you one final option. Take it, and save some. Refuse it, and all of you will die.

Meredith started to weep.

Now… listen closely… I will remind you of the key. And after, you will have no further choices in the matter. I’ve waited long enough. I haven’t brought you all the way to this point just to let you die in vain.

Meredith listened, helpless to do anything else, as the voice of Toby retrieved the key from her dark memory.


Next Episode 39-5

Previous Episode 39-3


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“Chapter 39-4: Obituaries” Copyright © 2017 Scott Scherr, from the novel, Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Five: Remains. 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.

  1. Gylion says:

    Getting slaughtered like cattle.

    Liked by 1 person

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