“Someone’s coming!” one of the armed men declared from the door.

The lead captor hesitated with the knife at Tony’s throat. “Fuck!” he hissed.

Alysa turned. This was the first time she’d heard fear in the man’s voice. She looked past Tony and the lead captor, beyond the anxiously pacing armed men at the door, and saw faint flashlight beams approaching. She could hear the footfalls of several people descending what she assumed was the flight of stairs which led them down here. Something’s wrong, she thought. Something unexpected is about to happen. She locked eyes with Tony. His surprised expression echoed her own thoughts.

The sounds of the new arrivals were getting closer. A voice suddenly boomed from down the hall, “Thompson! Where the hell are you? Don’t make me hunt you down, Goddamnit! Or I swear, I’ll shoot you on sight!”

“Fuck, we’re in deep shit,” another armed man said from behind Alysa. “That rat, Gibbs, dimed us out!”

“Sounds like he brought everybody,” the second man near the door said.

“Relax,” the man Alysa assumed was Thompson, said. “He’s not going to do anything. He can’t… and he knows it.” He gave Alysa one last challenging look.

She wisely looked away. The knife was still pressed against Tony’s neck.

“Don’t think for a moment that we’re done here,” he promised her. Thompson lowered the knife and stood up with a heavy sigh. He walked over to the closest captor and handed him the knife. “Get rid of that… after.”

The man quickly tucked the knife in the back of his pants.

“Everybody stay calm. You were all acting on my orders and we’ve done nothing wrong. I’ll handle this,” Thompson said.

The other armed men resembled bad actors given the improv word: relax; they couldn’t stop fidgeting.

Alysa studied Thompson’s erratic body language. He, too, was clearly not at ease, and she began to wonder how she could turn this to their advantage. She smiled like the devil as the next thought struck. So much for ‘god’. Perhaps he’s a demi-god for I sense the wrath of ‘his’ god approaching. She considered saying this to Thompson, but opted to play the wounded animal instead. Alysa sensed that whoever was coming would certainly not approve of Thompson’s present, clearly unauthorized, activities.

There was more light in the hallway. Men were shouting. New guns were being charged and raised.

The armed, masked captors lowered their weapons to the floor and raised their hands, all except Thompson who stood there with his arms folded, waiting impatiently for this scene to play out.

Two men, dressed in the same camos as Alysa’s abductors, entered the room with their automatic weapons at the low ready and quickly scanned the space. These men were not wearing ski masks. She believed this was an encouraging sign.

“All clear!” one of the new men shouted back into the hallway.

The other man nodded sheepishly at Thompson, clearly not wanting to be there.

Thompson nodded back.

And then a taller man, dressed in camos, entered. Like Thompson, he only had a handgun holstered at his side. The bigger man stormed into the room, hands at his waist. He looked at Tony, then Alysa, the disgust evident on his red face. The tall man turned and stood in front of Thompson, his hard eyes falling heavily on the man. His angry frown sat on top of a well-trimmed blond beard. Like his beard, his blond flat-top hair was also well-groomed.

To Alysa, it was easily apparent who the real man in charge was.

“Sarge,” Thompson greeted with a nod.

“Take those ridiculous masks off… now!”

Thompson and the other captors did so, looking a little like scolded children.

Again, Alysa tried hard to hide her amusement.

Thompson was the last to remove his ski mask, revealing a dark-haired, younger face. He was clearly not appreciating being embarrassment in front of his prisoners.

Alysa could tell by that face that this was the kind of man who enjoyed inflicting pain on small animals… as long as they didn’t bite back. She took note of Thompson’s cold, compassionless face with his sadistic grin so she could clearly locate and destroy him later.

“Explain… this?” the tall man demanded.

“Explain what?” Thompson pushed back. “We brought the prisoners down here and threw them in the dark, just like you ordered. You wanted them ‘compliant for questioning’ if I recall correctly. Well… that’s exactly what we’re-”

The tall man waved a finger in Thompson’s face. “Cut the shit, Thompson! You know damn well that I didn’t authorize this little torture excursion we just interrupted! I said, lock ‘em up and let them sit in the dark for a while… that’s it!”

“Well… these two needed a bit more persuasion. Especially the woman. Sometimes leaving them alone in the dark isn’t enough. These two hard-asses needed to know we were serious.”

The tall man gave him a hard look. He then turned to Alysa and asked, “What happened here?”

“Don’t listen to that bitch!” Thompson said. “She’s just going to lie her ass off!”

The tall man ignored him. “Well?”

Alysa was going to enjoy this part. Suddenly, she started to weep, unable to maintain her composure any longer. She sobbed, “It’s a good thing you… you all came. These evil men just dragged us in here, without any explanation. This one… this one right here… threatened to kill my friend, while holding a knife to his throat the whole time… if I didn’t…” she looked to the floor and finished, “…if I didn’t call him… ‘god’… and then he made me do things… despicable things… while the rest of them just sat there and watched.”

Thompson looked right at her and laughed. “She’s quite the little actress, this one.” He turned. “Come on, Sarge. You can’t be buying this shit?”

Alysa burst out, “He made me… made me suck his cock! Called me his dirty little whore and said that if I didn’t… he’d murder my friend right in front of me… so… so I did!” She looked away, putting on her best mask of shame.”

The other captors started talking over each other, denying it.

“You lying bitch!” Thompson hissed, taking a threatening step toward her.

“Be still!” the tall man ordered. “All of you, just shut your damn pie holes!”

“It’s true,” Tony added meekly. “I couldn’t help her… they… they forced me to watch and then they all started groping her in front of me. Fucking animals! I kept asking what they wanted, but they just laughed. They never told us what they wanted or what we did wrong…” Tony stopped abruptly, staring at his feet.

Thompson stared between them and shook his head. “My, you two make quite the pair.” He turned back to the tall man. “Are we done here? Or do you want to listen to more of this bullshit?”

“The one by the door,” Alysa said. “He has my knife… the one they threatened us with. Right before you came, this monster told that one to hide it.”

The tall man looked toward the disarmed captors near the door. “Where is it?” he said.

One of them looked to Thompson.

“Just hand the fucking knife over!” the tall man said.

The captor reached behind his back and retrieved the hunting knife.

The tall man took it, shaking his head. “You’ve crossed the line, Thompson,” he said. “This is not who we are!”

“What line is that, Sarge?” Thompson said. “As I recall, that line’s been moved around quite a bit since the good old days. You and I both know you can’t take the moral high ground here. I’m telling you, these two are lying their asses off. We were just putting a little fear into them… that’s it.”

“Maybe,” he said. “But you’re lying as much as they are. We’ll get to the truth… but not now.”

“Suit yourself, Sarge,” Thompson said, approaching the door. “If we’re done here, me and my men have next watch and we haven’t eaten yet.”

“Correction… they’re my men.”

Thompson nodded. “Of course. I didn’t mean it like-”

“Gibbs!” the tall man called.

A short man, clearly one of the youngest, appeared in the doorway.

“Bring the other prisoners to me. Then, take these four and lock them in there.”

“Sarge?” Gibbs asked hesitantly.

“You heard me.”

“You can’t do that,” Thompson said.

The tall man ignored him. “Lock them up, while I decide what to do with them. Then make sure they get fed. Those are your orders.”

Gibbs nodded and left.

“You’re making a big mistake, Sarge,” Thompson said.

“Wouldn’t be the first time. Now… hand over your sidearm.”

Thompson hesitated and then retrieved the weapon, handing it to the tall man with the pistol grip facing out.

Several more armed men entered the room.

“Last chance, Sarge. You’re blowing this out of proportion. Don’t do something you’ll regret,” Thompson said with a laugh.

“Don’t threaten me, shit-bag.” He nodded toward his men. “Take them.”

With reluctance, they took the four men into custody with Thompson shaking his head in disbelief and amusement as they escorted him into the hall.

When the tall man was left alone in the room with Alysa and Tony, he lowered his voice and said to the woman, “No more bullshit. He’s a sick man, but I know he didn’t do what you said he did. Am I correct?”

Alysa could tell that the tall man was out of patience. “No. I made up the blowjob bit. But he did threaten to torture me and rape me later just so the others would hear it… even promised to take my eyes out so that my friends would submit.”

Tony stared at her in surprise. “Fucking monsters.”

She turned to Tony and finished, “And he did hold my friend at knife point, and was about to cut his throat open before you showed up.”

The tall man studied her face and nodded. “I believe you. God only knows what that man would’ve done with another hour or two alone down here with all of you.” He started pacing. “When your friends get back here we’ll take you upstairs, get you fed, and then have a civilized discussion. And I will expect straightforward, honest answers, understood?”

Both Tony and Alysa nodded.

The tall man then looked away and shook his head. “I’m responsible for that man’s mess. On behalf of my little dysfunctional unit, I apologize for the harsh treatment you and yours received. That was never supposed to happen.” He then looked back at them and finished. “Cooperate with me and I will personally see to your safety from here on out… at least while you’re at this station. But if you try anything underhanded, I will lock you all up and leave you down here in the dark. And that’s a promise.”

Tony and Alysa nodded again.

“Very well,” the tall man said. “I’ll have you taken upstairs shortly to eat and we’ll chat more then. I’m Sergeant Richard Hash, the man in charge of this shit-hole operation. If you need anything-”

Tony started to laugh abruptly, startling both Alysa and Hash.

“Something funny?” Hash asked, unamused.

“Sorry,” Tony said, regaining control. “It’s been a long apocalypse. I was just surprised to hear that name.”

“Come again?” Hash asked.

Tony stared at him. “Are you the same Sergeant Hash from the National Guard posted at the Percy Power Plant when all this started before last winter?”

Hash raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Were you… there?”

“No, not personally,” he said. “But I know someone who told me all about it. Someone you found on the beach before the plant fell to the dead.”

Hash waited.

“Her name is Gina.” It pained him to say her name. “Gina Melborn. Maybe you remember her? Long red hair, green eyes, a fiery temper to match? I remember her speaking quite highly of you. From what she told me, you weren’t anything like… all this.”

Hash frowned, the horrific memory of that day resurfacing on his face. “Did she travel with an older woman prone to seizures?”

“That would be Meredith. Yes, I think we’re talking about the same person.”

“And… is Gina with you now?”

“No. I don’t know where she is,” Tony added sadly.

Hash nodded but offered nothing more. He exited the room abruptly without another word.


(Author’s Note: Sergeant Hash, Corporal Thompson and Private Gibbs have all returned. You may remember them from all the way back in Book 1, Chapter 10. I know, it’s been a while. I always intended to bring these characters back much sooner. Then events changed, and I thought we wouldn’t see them until much later. I was pleasantly surprised to find them showing up here. More to come.)


Next Episode 42-6

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“Chapter 42-5: The Kill Room” Copyright © 2018 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. Nash McGowan says:

    Man I like Alyssa. I really didn’t see this character coming when you first introduced her. Have you always had this arc planned for her or has she grown on you? I am imagining it won’t be “nice” once her and Gina meet lol


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