~~~

Exiled – Day 27

Eight heavily manned vehicles, a combination of black blazers, jeeps and F-150s, pulled on to the final back road, just above Andover, headed north toward the ruins of the wilderness topside compound once run by a maniac and his psychotic machine.

Gina sat quietly in the back seat of one of the blazers, the second vehicle in the slow-moving convoy, staring out the window at the route that she and Frank Carman had first traveled to get to the entrance of the compound. That had felt like so long ago now. She stared up at the fresh morning light appearing over the treetops as the new day marched across an indifferent sky.

“Penny for your thoughts.” Lady Clementine sat in the back seat next to Gina, trying to appear comfortable in her long red robe and looking much smaller sitting in the cramped seat. “You’re not having doubts about all this, are you?”

Gina turned to the old woman. “No. I’m just… I’ve been this way before. Brings back some memories.”

“I see.” Clementine stared forward, lost in thought. “I’m sorry we have to come this way, child, but it’s the only road that will bring us close enough to reach the underground facility by foot.” She shook her head as the beginning of charred tree tops came into view. “Micom proved just how much he’d lost control when he destroyed half the forest and everyone in the vicinity. You and your friends were fortunate to get away before the explosion.”

“Yeah, I guess we were.” Gina was thinking about Frank. They had spent one of their last evenings together out in these woods before foolishly trying to infiltrate Micom’s camp. That was the night she’d chopped her hair off. She was one of the few people who understood the ex-convict and experienced how much he’d fought for her before the end. I don’t care what anyone says, Frank… you were one of the good ones.

She could feel Clementine’s eyes on the back of her head. Gina turned before the old woman asked any more uncomfortable questions. “I don’t mean to sound like a bitch, but… what difference is your convoy full of armed men going to make against the Shadow Dead? We have an armory of weapons and plenty of trained people to use them. If that’s not good enough to stop them then what’s a few more soldiers going to matter?”

The old woman smiled. “You are absolutely correct, Gina. Our numbers and toys aren’t going to make a difference in this fight. When the Shadow Dead return, they will come with everything they have, and it won’t be guns that will stop them.”

“Then what’s the point to all this?”

“We want to make a good impression with your people and show them that Mother has the means to fight with them on their level… even if what we show them doesn’t matter.”

Gina was confused. “But if all this doesn’t matter, then why come fully armed to the teeth? Aren’t you worried that my people will view your presence as a hostile act?”

“No, child. Not as long as you’re with us. When we arrive at the topside ruins, the majority of my troops will remain there while a small group of us will proceed to meet up with your people.”

Gina still had her suspicions. “How do I know you’re just not using me to get my friends to lower their guard? Maybe your only intent is to take back the compound by force and kill my friends.”

Clementine chuckled. “If that was what we wanted to do, child, we would’ve done so by now. No, as I’ve said, we’re here to show that Mother cares about the rest of humanity. We’re here to make our presence known and to finally do something to help.”

Gina nodded. “Yes, to save face and clear Mother’s name… I heard all that.”

“But… you still don’t believe?”

“I haven’t survived this long by believing every word I hear,” Gina said.

Clementine nodded. “Yes. I completely understand.”

“So, tell me again how Mother is going to help us stop the Shadow Dead if none of our weapons matter?”

Clementine took a deep breath, smiled, and said, “In time, child. I will explain everything when we’ve come together and made peace. Some things are much harder to convey with mere words. Even in a world where monsters walk among us, there are still a great many things left that could challenge our beliefs.”

Gina stared at the old woman and finally nodded. “Okay. Peace first. But then I want to hear the rest.”

“And you shall, child. You shall.”

The old woman’s driver slowed down as the lead vehicle came to a stop.

“Is there a problem?” she asked her driver.

“We have a horde blocking the road,” the driver responded. “We’re already on it.”

Clementine looked over at Gina and gave her a wicked little smile. “No, driver. Tell the others to stand down.”

The driver turned, was about to protest, then understood. “Yes, Lady Clementine. I’ll notify the others.” The driver got on a CB radio and told the rest of the convoy to remain with the vehicles.

By now, Gina could hear them. The dead were coming straight toward the convoy. “Shouldn’t we… do something? Maybe turn around?”

Clementine laughed and said, “Just pay attention, child. I’m about to show you something that might help you understand what Mother brings to the table.” Before Gina could protest, the old woman exited the vehicle and started walking toward the lead car.

Gina turned to the driver. “Well… aren’t your men going to do something?”

The driver ignored her.

“Unbelievable!” Gina exited the car and quickly stepped up behind the red-robed woman who nonchalantly approached the oncoming horde of at least fifty dead-heads.

She stepped up next to Clementine, who finally stopped, and said, “Now might not be a good time to observe the local dead population.”

The dead looked famished and crazier than usual. They were pulling and pushing at each other, moving as fast as their decrepit legs would allow, hoping to reach the convoy and feast. They would reach Gina and Clementine at the front of the convoy in less than a minute.

Gina started to look around for anything she could use as a weapon but found nothing. “In thirty seconds it will be too late for the trucks to back out of here,” she said. “You might want to get your men to-”

“Just relax, child,” Clementine said. She kept her attention focused on the oncoming savages, her hood was pulled up over her head, her arms were crossed and hidden beneath the folds of her robe as if she appeared more concerned about catching a cold.

Gina was starting to panic as the dead were almost upon them. Their loud hungry cries almost made her run in the opposite direction. And still, the old woman remained motionless, staring at the horde with a crooked smile on her face. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, whatever point you’re trying to make, it’s lost on me right now. Tell one of your men to hand me a rifle at least.”

“Shhh,” Clementine said, raising a finger to her mouth. She closed her eyes and let her arms drop to her sides.

“Shit,” Gina hissed as the hungry mob was less than ten seconds from ripping them apart.

Clementine raised her arms dramatically and then balled her hands into fists.

The horde stopped abruptly, less than ten feet in front of the two blood bags. They looked confused as if suddenly forgetting what they were doing. Their ravenous, murderous eyes were no longer fixed on Gina and the old woman. Instead, they all started staring up toward the sky as if hearing a sound only the dead could register.

Gina was about to speak.

Clementine turned her head toward her, put her finger back up toward her mouth, and shook her head.

Gina remained still.

Clementine brought her outstretched arms in slowly toward her chest as if she were about to clap, then violently ripped them back apart as if she were trying to separate the air directly in front of her.

That’s when the dead did something Gina had never seen before.

The entire herd pushed to the left and the right directly at the center until the roadway was clear. The dead remained in that befuddled state, staring up at the sky standing at the sides of the road, appearing to no longer be aware of any of them.

Gina’s eyes went wide with surprise. In her head, she could hear Frank saying, “It’s just like Moses parting the fucking Red Sea!”

She put a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing.

Clementine turned to her and lowered her arms. She smiled, gave Gina a wink and then nodded back toward their vehicle.

Gina followed the old woman back to the car, repeatedly staring back at the oblivious horde that continued to stand along the left and right shoulder.

Once back inside the blazer, Gina said, “Holy fuck! What was that?”

Clementine leaned over and told her driver, “We can proceed now. Please notify the front car.”

“Yes, Lady Clementine,” the driver said, reaching for the radio receiver.

Gina stared from the driver, back to Clementine. She raised her arms in disbelief. “Am I the only one here blown away by what just happened?”

The old woman gave her a smile and said, “Like I said, child, there are some things in this world that still defy belief. You’ve just seen with your own eyes what Mother can do. Let’s just take this one step at a time for now. As much as you’ve just witnessed, I still can’t make your people stop hating us. That will require a bit of magic from you, I ‘m afraid.”

Gina leaned back in her seat as the convoy started to resume. She stared out her window at the dead as they allowed all ten vehicles to pass. “Fucking magic, she says,” Gina shook her head. “I need a damn drink… after I’m done shitting myself.”

This made Clementine laugh hard.

~~~

Gina stood at the edge of the large crater overlooking the ruins of the topside camp. Everything had collapsed after the explosion, merging below into one massive charred junkyard. She felt fortunate that the vehicles could go no farther, and that Clementine did not desire to explore the ruins.

Too many fucking ghosts down there, Gina thought with a chill, turning away from the crater. She started walking back to the convoy where Clementine was giving her soldiers instructions.

The old woman abruptly stopped as Gina approached. “This is as far as we’re going,” she said, staring over Gina’s shoulder in disgust. “Just the sight of this dismal place reminds me why we should’ve intervened much sooner.”

“Yeah,” Gina said. “I’m not a fan of this fucking graveyard. Too many bad vibes here. We initially came back before the winter to see if the Shadow Dead were lurking around, but we found nothing.”

Clementine nodded. “I’m not surprised. Once the Shadow Dead departed this area, I’m sure they retreated to an alternate camp for the winter.” The old lady lifted her nose and squinted her eyes. “You can smell it. All that death and destruction. It’s like a stain that never goes away.” She looked up at the charred tree tops surrounding the whole area. “What a waste. Even nature hasn’t bothered to return to this horrible place. Are the woods much the same over where your people are?”

“Only to the east of the waterfall. Lots of dead trees between here and there… and a whole of silence. It can be a bit unnerving at times. My people rarely come out this way unless we have a good reason.”

Clementine considered this. “I’ve sent a handful of my best scouts ahead to check out the area.”

“Why did you do that?” Gina was getting angry. “I thought we were going together? You know, so that my people would have a chance to talk to me first.”

“And they will,” the old woman assured her. “No one will see my scouts. They’re very good a remaining hidden.”

“Like your Shadow Dead?”

Clementine took the shot. “Yes, but not that good. Again, Gina, we are nothing like them. They’ve… they’ve lost their way, as did the fool who ran this place and the people who followed him.”

Gina stared long and hard at Clementine, and then said, “I’m hoping that I’m not the fool now for trusting you enough to try this. But if I suspect a double-cross of any kind, I will do everything I can to warn my people about your presence… and they will retaliate.”

Clementine smiled. “I admire your loyalty. Even if it is misplaced. If I recall correctly, did these people not exile you?”

Gina averted her eyes. “They had their reasons, and I don’t fault them for it. I would still give my life to protect them… no matter what.”

“I’m glad you’re with us, Gina. We need more people like you.”

Gina’s eyes shot up. “Who said I was with you? I may not be with my people anymore but that doesn’t mean I’m one of yours either.”

“Forgive me, Gina.” Clementine laughed. “Bad wording… and a little premature optimism on my part. I guess I’m hoping that when all the dust clears you might consider finding a home with us… since you no longer have one. I would hate to think that after everything, Gina Melborn simply disappears back into the wilderness. I don’t like thinking of you as some nomad. You have strength and a whole lot of heart. It would be a waste to see you going back to living alone.”

Gina didn’t know how to take the compliment. “I don’t mind alone,” she lied. “It’s easier to know who to trust when there’s no one else around.”

Clementine smiled and put a hand on Gina’s shoulder. “Well, I want you to know that you will always have a place here, with us… and that we’d never abandon you. Mother looks after her own.” She nodded toward one of her soldiers. A man wearing similar forest-green coveralls came over and handed Lady Clementine an assault rifle. Clementine nodded to the man, who bowed, and quickly returned.

The old woman handed Gina the rifle. “When my scouts come back, you and I, and six others will head out to meet your group. We will all be armed, for protection, but so will you. If at any time you believe I’m up to no good, you’ll be able to shoot me down and complete your original mission.”

Gina stared at the rifle. “Why would you put your life in my hands? As you’ve said, I was on my way to murder you before my… friend… decided to kill me.”

“Because I believe in you, Gina. I believe there’s so much more to you than living out in the woods among the dead, barely surviving, and desperately searching for any cause to right the wrongs in this new world. And I consider myself a good judge of character. Please, take it.”

Gina reluctantly took the assault rifle, checked to make sure it was loaded, then strapped it around her back. “Okay. What now?”

“When my scouts return, they will tell me how close we can get before being detected. Then, we’ll walk that far… and allow you to continue alone from there. You can talk to your leadership on our behalf, and hopefully… they’ll agree to speak with us.”

“And if they don’t?”

“Then we’ll leave. But it will fall on you to make sure that we leave in peace.”

Gina nodded.

Clementine laughed lightly. “Relax. You’ve been so tense all this time. This isn’t a war we’re trying to start. We… Mother… is here to take care of these renegade Shadow Dead. We will do it alone if need be. But we are not here to take back the compound. I assure you, there’s nothing there that Mother can’t do without. Your people have made it a home… and we intend to honor that, regardless of the outcome today.”

Gina stared at her feet and let out a heavy sigh. “I really want to believe you.”

“I know you do, child. Why don’t you get some rest. There’s nothing left to do right now but wait. The back of the blazer is all yours.”

Gina smiled. “Yeah, I’m feeling pretty exhausted.”

“I’ll wake you the moment my scouts return.”

Gina nodded and started toward the vehicle.

“Oh… and Gina,”

She turned.

Clementine smiled. “Even if your people decide not to speak with us, my invite remains the same. You are more than welcome to return with us. I’m certain we could use your help bringing those Shadow Dead monsters to justice.”

Gina laughed. “Well… maybe after I’ve had a nap and a cup of coffee. Does Mother believe in coffee?”

Clementine gave her a disbelieving look. “Dear child, what on earth are we fighting for if not to restore order… and the freedom to enjoy a good cup of java?” The old woman winked again.

Gina turned and shook her head. I really want to believe this woman. But I still want to kill her, too. Gina crawled into the backseat of the blazer and locked the doors. She glanced once at the numerous soldiers securing the perimeter around the vehicles, watching as the red-robed woman moved among them. She placed the rifle along the floorboard within easy reach, then laid down across the seat, closed her eyes, and was asleep within twenty seconds.

~~~

The old woman slowly approached what was left of the grotesque looking willow tree. It was charred black with its entire upper portion blown away after the explosion. She stared at it with contempt, as if it were still alive and watching her every move. “What have you done?” she whispered accusingly. Whether she was talking to the tree or the spirits of the dead… it was uncertain.

She stared at Copperfield’s black blade sticking out of the base of the tree. It was still exactly where she’d left it when she first stepped foot into the ruins after her group arrived at the airport. Clementine walked up to the sword and shook her head in disgust, staring at the charred hilt. “So much was given to all of you… and now… this is all that remains? What a waste.” She reached out her hands, grabbing the hilt of the sword, and then removed it from the tree. She held it up for a moment, her face crumpling up as if she’d just picked up a foul dead carcass by the tail, and then she quickly discarded it.

Lady Clementine backed away from the tree and then stared at it, her eyes scanning upward along the burnt trunk and stopping at a long black shard reaching up to pierce the sky.

Her thoughts drifted elsewhere. The day she’d inserted that sword into the tree was the day she’d killed everyone in the underground compound. When the Shadow Dead discovered it after the long winter, they’d immediately understood the message and began preparations to attack. Now that the nasty deed was done, she was glad to dispose of the vile weapon.

Lady Clementine closed her eyes and focused on her plans. She needed to win Gina’s trust and get her on their side… or more specifically… on her side.

After the scouting party returned with visual verification that Meredith had made it out of the compound, and that they’d sealed the main entrance with a forced cave-in, their work here would be finished.

The old woman sighed at the prospect of returning. She had stalled for as long as possible at the airport, long after Toby’s plan to push Meredith out of the compound had occurred. She did not look forward to seeing him again.

She about Alysa. Hopefully she’d get the Ama-Eskua back on track. They had been out here in these desolate woods, unsupervised for far too long. It was risky allowing Alysa to shoot the volatile red-headed woman, but necessary to tame the savage beast that she wanted to keep alive. Clementine would use that killer as leverage over her wayward daughter… as she would eventually use Gina as leverage over Meredith… assuming her old friend ever made it back.

Many plans were already in motion.

There was nothing left to do but emotionally destroy the former leader of these pathetic people who had the audacity to remain, stealing what did not belong to them. Mother had made examples of them. But now, Mother needed to embrace the nomad and comfort her during this next difficult phase.

Clementine shook her dark thoughts away and turned her back on the tree.

Time to deliver the fatal blow, she thought with a smile. The next arrow will not miss the intended target.

~~~

“Gina?”

Gina opens her eyes and sits up with a start. “Frank?”

Her old friend is sitting in the driver seat, smiling back at her like the Cheshire Cat. “I’m so glad you found the time to get a nap in and all… but… playtime’s over.”

“What… how the hell are you here?” Gina’s rational mind is telling her this is a dream, but it feels so real.

“Doesn’t matter. You need to wake up now and put on your best damn poker face. Game’s about to start and you need to learn the house rules pretty fucking fast.”

She smiles at him. “I miss you, asshole.”

“Yeah… well, you look like shit,” he adds with a smile.

Gina laughs, then sighs. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there… you know… when you died.”

Frank shakes his head. “There you go again, acting like you can stop all the big bad events in the world… and when you don’t… it’s because you weren’t there. Talk about a fucking ego.”

“What happened to you?”

Frank gives her a serious look. “You know what happened. Piece it together, smart girl… and you’ll know exactly what happened.”

Gina’s eyes go wide when the latter-than-hell realization finally hits her. “Marcus.”

Frank laughs and turns. He stares out the windshield and says, “Time’s up. Remember what I said about your game face. Shit’s about to get real… and you ain’t gonna like it. Stay strong, Gina… and remember, no matter what, that you are alone in the Big Game now. Don’t trust anyone.”

She starts to reach out for the big man. “No. Wait…”

~~~

… “Gina?”

Gina opened her eyes and sighed.

Clementine was sitting in the front seat of the blazer, leaning back, and trying to wake her. The interior lights of the vehicle were on. It was dark outside.

“Holy fuck!” Gina said, grabbing the sides of her head. “How long have I been out?” She tried to move too fast, crying out as she felt her injuries.

“Be still, Gina,” the old woman said in a strange voice. “We’re not going anywhere, not tonight at least. We dare not roam about in these woods after the sun goes down. That’s their time.”

“But… I don’t understand. Why the hell did you let me sleep so long? Your scouts should’ve reported back hours ago and-”

“Gina,” Clementine said, letting out a heavy sigh. “They have come back. I didn’t wake you because I wanted you to get as much rest as you could… before I told you the news.”

Gina noticed how much it pained the old woman to speak. “Something’s happened. What’s wrong?”

Clementine closed her eyes, then opened them. She gave the young woman a serious look and then reached out her bony hands.

Gina didn’t know how to respond to the queer gesture. She simply took the old woman’s hands and Clementine held them firmly. “What I have to tell you will be hard to hear. I need you to steady yourself… right now. Can you do that?”

Gina nodded. “Yes… please… just tell me what’s going on.”

Clementine looked at Gina’s hands, frowned, and said, “There’s no easy way to say this, child, so I’m just going to say it, okay?”

Gina waited.

The old woman looked her in the eyes. “My scouts came back with terrible news. If only we’d responded sooner…”

Gina took a deep breath. “Just… tell me.”

Clementine nodded. “They’re all dead, Gina.”

Gina froze. “Excuse me? What did you say?”

“From what my scouts gathered, the Shadow Dead struck their camp a few weeks ago. They came in force, probably during the night. They killed everyone.”

Gina pulled her hands free. “What… what are you fucking telling me? Are you saying that all my… that all my friends are… dead?”

“Yes, dear. What I’m trying to tell you is that we’re too late. I’m… truly sorry.”

Gina felt dizzy. She suddenly needed out of the vehicle. She frantically grabbed for the door handle. “I need… I need some air…”

“Gina, please… don’t try anything… Gina?”

She quickly pushed open the door and stumbled out of the blazer.

Several of Clementine’s people stared at the frantic red-headed woman, wondering how to proceed.

“Leave her be,” Clementine ordered, following Gina out of the car. “Just… give her space, everyone. Please.”

Gina stared around at the camp of car headlights and the silhouettes standing in front of them. She reeled around, feeling like her head was going to explode. “I… I have to… I need to get to them,” she said.

“Gina, just calm down,” Clementine said from behind her. “We’ll take you there in the morning. But you need to settle down now. You’re not looking well.”

Gina tried to speak but nothing came out.

They’re all dead.

She suddenly vomited beside the blazer. Gina lost her balance and fell backwards to the ground. She could hear voices all around her.

Clementine bent down beside her. “Gina… just be still now, child. You’re having a panic attack of some kind.”

Gina stared into the old woman’s face and didn’t recognize her. “Get away from me!”

Clementine held up her hands and backed off.

She stared around at the faceless forms moving in around her. “All of you… stay the fuck away from me!” Gina tried to get up, but the ground was spinning too fast.

They’re all dead.

Gina put her hands over her ears, then rolled up into a ball. “Just… leave me… leave me alone!”

Clementine backed up near the front of the blazer, holding her hand up toward her people. “Just leave the girl alone,” she said. “She needs a minute.”

Something came loose inside of her. Gina felt like her mind was about to crash and her heart had just imploded. Suddenly, she started screaming and sobbing, causing everyone to take an uncomfortable step back.

Clementine simply stood there, her arms folded up within her robe.

As Gina’s emotions exploded in a torturous display of grief, deep within the shadow of her hooded face, the old woman was smiling.

~~~

A fire of mourning lit the eastern sky ablaze, penetrating tree tops, somber souls, and finally settling upon the surface of the large river pool. The calm, debris-filled waters reflected the dawn above, casting soft, red light mixed with shadow until the illusion of a funeral pyre was made complete—light and fire upon water—making the numerous corpses floating in the pond seem more like little ships sailing off to Valhalla, rather than the discarded remains of a futile battle.

The woman approached the pool, staring at the crumbled vestiges of a once magnificent waterfall, now, as silent as all the rest. She waited for the others to assemble around her, deliberately letting the moment linger, before finally retrieving the list from her robe.

She glanced at the written names, cleared her throat, and began her eulogy:

“We’ve come here today to pay our respects for those who have perished… for those who have fought against the long night, but did not prevail… may they now rest in peace.” The woman paused for dramatic effect as she glanced down at the list. “To the gods of this world, we commit the following souls into your care. May they find their way across the darkness, beyond all pain, terror, loss and confusion left behind in the wake of the Day of Deliverance. Had these poor souls known what was coming, they might have rejoiced at the eve of enlightenment, and not trembled at the end of the dark.” The woman paused and closed her eyes, appearing to pray for a moment. She opened her eyes, smiled at everyone in attendance, and then continued. “We’re here to remember the dead, to honor their sacrifice, and wish them good tidings on their journey into the Beyond. They are free now. They are one.” Lady Clementine started reading off the names on her long list. “Diane Carol Conley, dead at age 20, of Ashtabula County, former farmer…”

Gina sat on her knees at the edge of the pool, staring unflinchingly at the decomposed bodies. Her face was damp with tears. Her mind, heart and soul… gone. As the old woman read off each name, Gina allowed herself to feel each fresh wound… insisting on suffering through it all. It was the least she could do for them. It was the only thing she had left to do.

When Clementine finished reading off the last of the names, she bent down next to Gina and said, “Is there anything you’d like to say, Gina? I know this isn’t easy, and I can’t imagine the pain you’re feeling right now. But maybe saying goodbye would help in some small way.”

Gina shook her head. “I should be with them,” she whispered, fresh tears streaming down her face. “I want to be with them.”

The old woman nodded respectfully. She then leaned in close and said, “We will get them, Gina. We’ll make them all pay for this. You have my word, child.”

Gina turned to Clementine. “Thank you. Thank you for all of it… for this service.”

Clementine put a hand on her shoulder. “This is hard for me, too. I came here hoping to be reunited with my long-lost sister. Meredith meant the world to me… as she did to you.”

Gina wiped the tears from her face. “I lost… everything today. Are you sure they all died? Maybe-”

“No, child,” Clementine said. “We were thorough. No one outside would’ve survived the night. Anyone trapped in that hole in the ground were slain when the Shadow Dead got inside… or they burned in the fire. The entrance collapsed shortly after my scouts got out. They’re lucky they didn’t join them. And even if we could dig our way down there… I’m afraid your heart wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

Gina stared into the old woman’s eyes, saw her deep concern, and then finally nodded. “You’re right. If I went down there, I’d never want to come back up again.”

“You will get past this, child. I’ll help you.” Clementine grabbed her gently by the chin and finished, “And then… well… then we’ll go get them all. We’ll burn those fuckers up in the largest bonfire this world has ever seen. This I promise you. How does that sound, Gina?”

Gina’s eyes blazed up. “Yes. I would very much like to be there for that.”

Clementine got to her feet and held out her hand. “Then let’s get out of this dead place, child. There’s nothing left for you here now… and you need time to heal. Come back with me and I’ll show you what Mother can do… and how much those murderers will tremble when we return to hunt them down.”

Gina stared back at the ruined waterfall. They’re all gone. Tony, Stephen, Meredith… all of them. I’ve been betrayed by Marcus. And I attempted to kill this woman who came here to help us. She looked back up at the strong old woman in the red robe. I’ve been wrong about a great many things… including being alone. Perhaps I’ve been wrong about Mother, too. She reached up and took Clementine’s hand and rose to her feet.

Clementine put her hands on the broken woman’s shoulders and said, “I’m so very sorry this happened. With all the power I possess… I still can’t change something like this. I can’t bring any of them back in a world where the dead returning seems very ordinary. It’s a bitter bit of irony to swallow, I’m afraid. But we can bring justice… or we can bring vengeance. Will you join us… for their sake?”

“Yes,” Gina said, without hesitation.

Clementine smiled and then embraced the fragile young woman.

Gina held on fiercely, weeping into the folds of the old woman’s robe.

~~~

The drive back to the airport was uneventful, allowing Gina time to process and lock her grief away beneath the furnace of rage that burned brightly within. She refused to fight the darkness anymore. She needed every bit of it to keep on wanting to breathe—her need to destroy the Shadow Dead was all she had left.

As the convoy approached the old runway, she could see the tall terminal tower. Gina turned to Clementine and asked, “So what’s the deal with this place, anyway? Why are we back here and not out there hunting down the Shadow Dead?”

Clementine turned and smiled. “I told you we’d take care of them after you healed. Besides, we need Mother’s help.”

“I don’t understand. I thought you all were here on Mother’s behalf?”

“Yes… but we’ll need a bit more help, now that we don’t have your people to aid us.”

Gina nodded with a frown. “So, there’s more people and weapons here, I assume.”

Clementine gave her an amused look and said, “This place was always more than just our base of operations, child. It’s an extraction point, as well.”

“Extraction point?”

Clementine smiled. “I said we’re going to get more help. There’s only place left to go, Gina.”

Before she could inquire further, Gina was silenced by what she saw as they arrived at the airport.

~~~

Just before sunset, the skies above the airport came alive with the loud whirling buzz of machinery that had not been heard since before the outbreak.

Five black helicopters, resembling large dragonflies, took to the skies, flying north over the vast forest tree tops. This was the first of three runs to evacuate the airport of all personnel.

Gina stared down through the open doorway from her strapped in position. She was being flown back with the medical crew on the first run while Clementine managed affairs on the ground. Gina was glad to be away from the old woman for a little while, allowing her time to process… everything.

The wind whipped across her face. She stared down, completely in awe from seeing where she’d lived, fought, and bled since The Change began, speeding by below her, hidden beneath a sea of forest green. She thought of her friends—no—her family, and allowed herself one last moment to feel them in her darkening heart.

“Goodbye,” she finally said.

She looked up and saw an expanse of blue quickly approaching.

They were headed north, over Lake Erie.

To Mother.

(TO BE CONTINUED…)

~~~

DON’T FEED THE DARK WILL RETURN FALL 2018…

Previous Episode 47-6

~~~

If you’re enjoying Don’t Feed The Dark so far, please consider voting for it on Top Web Fiction and Top Site List by clicking the links below. This will help increase its visibility and draw in more potential readers. No registration is required. Thanks for your support and for reading :)

Vote for DFTD at topwebfiction

Vote for DFTD at Top Site List

__________________________________________
“Chapter 47-7: The Enemy” 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.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. nashmcgowan says:

    Great chapter overall Scott. I have to admit, you fooled me with the Gina fake out. You’ve killed a lot of people (lol) and I bought it all the way. I hope you enjoy the rest of summer. Looking forward to your return.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sscherr says:

      Thanks Nash for sticking with this long story and for all your support. I’m jumping right into Book Six on Monday… but I’m taking the weekend off… lol. You enjoy your summer, as well. See you in the fall 😉

      Like

  2. Great writing I will be back Monday night!!

    Like

    • sscherr says:

      Hello Jennifer. Thanks for reading and commenting, but I’m afraid you’ve reached the end of what I call Season 5. The next arc in the series won’t start until this fall.

      Like

Comments? I love to read them

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s