Archive for the ‘Interviews/Reviews’ Category

~~~

“Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the Don’t Feed The Dark after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each episode we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.

***SPOILER ALERT***

At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read the first 39 chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.”

~~~

John stands, hands raised, before the studio audience as the crowd applauds excitedly. “Now… how the hell was that for a premiere chapter? That was some crazy shit!”

(The audience roars their approval.)

“We’ve just finished the first chapter and already… death and mayhem abound!” John continues. “Were any of you as much on edge as I was during these first six episodes?”

(The crowd voices their agreement.)

“Well… we’ve got a whole lot to discuss this episode. So, let’s get started! Ladies and Gents, please put your hands together for returning special guest, Tony Marcuchi!”

Tony walks in to a warm reception as he waves and smiles at the audience before sitting down with John.

“Welcome back, Tony,” John begins. “It’s good to see that you’re still alive and kicking… although your damn name listed on the obituary says otherwise.”

Tony laughs. “Yeah… I’m glad to still be a ‘living’ guest on your show, for as long as I’m allowed.”

“We’re glad you’re back, Tony. And thanks for sitting with us once more.”

“Thanks for having me.”

John settles in. “So, speaking of that list. What the hell was that all about, anyway? I think many of us were under the impression from the very beginning, that all of you were already dead.”

Tony nods. “I can see how this chapter’s presentation would make the readers think so. I believe that the author wanted to create an immediate reaction by starting off with the reading of an obituary, listing all our names, as if everything that followed the opening paragraphs was just a flashback showing how we all died. But as we’ve just discovered, the list is not accurate… some of us survived the Shadow Dead attack.”

“So… was the gathering in the opening paragraphs near the broken waterfall actually a glimpse into the future, then? And if so, who was giving the eulogy? And who were these people?”

Tony shrugs his shoulders. “That’s out of my range of knowledge. Sorry… I just work here.”

(The audience laughs.)

John shakes his head. “Why am I not surprised by your response? I should know better by now.”

“You had to try,” Tony encourages with a smile.

John laughs. “Okay… you can’t tell us anything about that strange future encounter… if that’s what it was. Can we expect to find out more about that opening moment later on in the story.”

Tony looks like he’s about to deny an answer, laughs, and then says, “Ooh… I’m allowed to answer that one. Yes. We will find out more about that moment later.”

“Now… do you mean ‘same book’ later… or ‘several books’ later?”

(The audience laughs.)

Tony smiles and nods. “We’ll find out about that mystery eulogy later on in this book… I promise. But that’s all I can say.”

“Fair enough.” John sits back and takes a deep breath. “Okay, so, obviously you all just had your asses handed to you by the Shadow Dead. I think it’s clear at this point that they could’ve seized the compound any time they wished. So why now? What’s the motivation behind this sudden attack? And was this mysterious Toby character floating around in Meredith’s mind responsible for it all?”

Tony sits back and sighs. “If I had to guess, I would say that the powers-to-be got tired of sitting around waiting for Meredith to do what she was supposed to do… so they forced her hand.”

“You’re talking about Mother and the mystery door, right?”

Tony nods. “Yes. It’s always been strange that Meredith had access to this facility to begin with. I would guess that she was permitted to enter the compound at the end of Book Three, perhaps even by this mysterious ‘Toby’ character, with the sole purpose of using the underground facility to further Mother’s objectives. Once those objectives were met, they used the attack to force Meredith into a life or death choice, resulting in getting her exactly where they wanted her.”

John nods. “So, the attack was all about Meredith? I think this is the first time since learning about Toby from Meredith’s flashback story at the orphanage in Book Four, that we can connect him directly to Mother. Can you elaborate on this at all?”

“Hell no” Tony says.

(The audience laughs.)

“But I can say that we will start seeing more and more connections to Mother as this series draws closer to conclusion,” Tony continues. “As far as the attack, I think the rest of us were just a means-to-an-end, but putting Meredith on the other side of that door was the real objective.”

“What a mind fuck that’s going to be when Meredith realizes how badly she was played,” John says. “So, Meredith, Stephen, Logan and Megan end up on the other side of that door. Can you tell us what’s down there?”

Tony smiles. “You know I can’t.”

“Shit… well… of course you can’t.”

(The crowd laughs.)

Tony nods. “But I will add that the author originally debated on stopping what happened inside the compound long before the others made it to the door, surrounded and trapped in that hallway, and leaving the readers to wonder if anyone else did make it out alive. In the end, the author decided to give us some hope for those characters by extending the scenes just beyond some of them making it through the door… but no further.”

“So when can we expect to hear from Meredith and the others again and can we assume that Gina and Marcus made it safely away before the attack?”

Tony nods. “Yes, Gina and Marcus were long gone before the attack. But that’s all I can tell you about that, so don’t bother asking.” Tony pauses, and then adds, “But we will return to them in the next story arc to find out what happened after Marcus started hunting Gina down.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” John says. “And the others behind the door?”

Tony smiles and shakes his head. “Sorry… I’ve no information available to tell you.”

“Shit,” John says and shakes his head at the audience.

(The audience laughs.)

“So,” John continues, “it looks like our characters have now been divided up in three different directions. Is there anything you can tell us about when they might reconnect again?”

“John, I can’t even tell you if anyone will still be alive long enough for that to happen. So much is about to occur for all three groups, in their present circumstances, that a reunion might take a while.”

“That’s unfortunate and a little exciting,” John admits. “It sounds like our story is about to expand in several different directions now.”

“That would seem to be the case,” Tony confirms.

“So what about your band of survivors, +1 Shadow Dead woman? Are they headed for James Orosco’s camp on that peninsula just south of Andover?”

“Yes.”

“And will Alysa be joining them?”

“Yes.”

“Anything else you can add?”

Tony takes a deep breath. “The little group I end up with will be facing some challenges they haven’t had to deal with before. The winter is over. it’s been months since they had to deal with the outside world… and everything that’s changed along with them. The remainder of this first story arc will center on those challenges.”

“Damn,” John says, shaking his head. “Is there anything you can tell us about the next chapter?”

“It won’t be as chaotic as Chapter One,” Tony says. “It’s called, Wick, and the author describes it as a thriller story contained within a chapter.”

“Sounds intriguing,” John says. “We’re almost out of time. Is there anything else you can tease us with about what’s coming in the days ahead?”

John nods. “We all may be split up at the moment. But this story is on a collision course with Mother… that is certain. There’s just a bit more story to tell before then… and then quite a lot still left after that eventual climax. Good enough?”

John sighs. “I guess.” He turns to the studio audience. “It looks like we’re all about to jump on the crazy horse again, folks, and see where we end up.”

(The audience laughs.)

John returns to Tony. “Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing what you could. We all hope you return to this stage one day, still in one piece, to speak with us again.”

“Thanks for having me,” Tony says.

“Let’s give our special guest a big hand, folks!”

(The crowd gets to their feet and applauds.)

Tony waves enthusiastically.

“And that’s a wrap, ladies and gentlemen,” John says, standing with Tony. “Once again, before we go, if anyone out there has additional questions they’re dying to ask, please feel free to ask away in the comments section, and myself or Tony will try to answer them, if possible. Other than that, just a quick reminder that Don’t Feed The Dark will post new episodes every Monday and Thursday up until the Holiday break somewhere around mid-November. After The Dark episodes will usually follow each new chapter, time dependent. So hopefully, we’ll see you all again after Chapter Two. So long, everyone!”

~~~

Please show your support for Don’t Feed The Dark by voting for it at topwebfiction Just click and vote. Nothing else required. You can vote every seven days to help me keep this series listed.

Thank you,
-Scott

~~~

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After the Dark1 (2)

~~~

“Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the Don’t Feed The Dark after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each episode we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.

***SPOILER ALERT***

At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read the first 38 chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.”

~~~

Both John and Marcus are seated before the audience. John gets up, hands raised, and begins. “Welcome back, ladies and gentleman. It’s now time for part two of our exciting, and a little unnerving, interview with our special guest, Marcus Dempsey, a.k.a. Russell Bower. Please put your hands together and let’s make Marcus feel welcome.”

(Most of the audience stand and put their hands together. The rest sink in their seats to escape notice.)

John sits. “Well, Marcus. Welcome back to the show. I’m looking forward in continuing our discussion to find out what’s in store for our resident serial killer.”

“You should probably stop calling me that, now,” Marcus says with a smile. “In this new environment, I’ve seen enough murder and mayhem by the rest of humanity to convince me that the term ‘Survivor’ is just another synonym for ‘Killer’.”

“That’s very true,” John says with a nod. “Hell, by the old standards, looking at what folks are getting away with after The Change, I guess anyone could be classified a ‘serial killer’.”

“Exactly,” Marcus says. “Besides, I think my purpose has evolved beyond the typical slice-and-dice murder crime scenes. All things considering, I think my character has shown consider restraint. Don’t you?”

“Yes, you’re right,” John says. “With the exception of catering to the savage, or The Other One, I was starting to think that you were done with killing. In fact, it really seemed like you were staring to become one among the community of survivors. They certainly value having you around.”

Marcus laughs. “Yes, no one minds having someone around who can keep them safe. Most people don’t even care how you do it, just as long as they can keep on breathing. I guess that puts me in a very unique position. I can be both protector and predator, dependent on the circumstances.”

“But… I started to sense, especially in your latest tale, that you even shared something more with this group, or at least, the core group that you traveled with. A sense of belonging, perhaps?”

Marcus rubs his chin and takes a moment to consider the question. “‘Attachment’ is probably a better word. I think I simply got used to operating within this group, functioning on some level to address the concerns of the whole, but ultimately, serving my own agenda… which is always… The Lady. As long as one does not come into conflict with the other, I could always serve both ends.”

“Meaning, you could be both Russell and Marcus. Embracing your new persona while still holding true to the former. Is that a correct assessment?”

“Yes, and no,” Marcus says. “I believe I could entertain an alternate existence as Marcus… if not for the savage who is constantly there to remind me that it’s all a farce. Believe me, that blood-thirsty maniac is constantly challenging the confines of are delicate arrangement. For that brute, I am holding him back, or, holding us both back from truly indulging in the apocalypse… and he despises me for it.”

“But you are the one in control, correct?”

“Most of the time,” Marcus says, and then sighs heavily. “Honestly, John, it’s becoming more and more difficult to deny the savage. I think he’s growing stronger within… and I sometimes wonder who will prevail in the end… and what that will mean?”

“That’s a truly disturbing thought,” John admits. “I think we are all bothered by your present character’s motives. But a Marcus Dempsey controlled by the savage… well… that would be disastrous.”

“Agreed,” Marcus says.

(For a moment everyone gets quiet.)

“Well, enough of that,” John says. “Let’s shift the topic, shall we?”

“Gladly.”

“Let’s talk about the mysterious Alysa. How does she make you feel?”

Marcus laughs. “You sound like a therapist I once killed.”

(The audience laughs.)

“Seriously though,” John continues, “that young woman seems very enamoured with you. Any thoughts?”

Marcus shifts uncomfortably in his chair, and everyone notices. “This… woman… finds me half dead after my unfortunate fall from the cliff, then pretends to be my savior as she nurses me back to health, all the while hoping to validate her worthless existence, hiding away from the world, by taking advantage of my injuries, knowing that I’m temporarily reliant upon her. Of course, this was what I thought at first… and then she pulled the rug right out from under me. My thoughts? I don’t think I’ve ever wanted someone dead more that that woman in the woods.”

“Clearly,” John says, sensing Marcus’ agitation. “So… she tries to belittle you, tries to seduce you, has been drugging you since the beginning, leading to all sorts of strange hallucinations… is there anything we can take at face value from this woman?”

“Absolutely not,” Marcus says. “If I’ve learned any one thing that is true about Alysa, it’s that she’s very dangerous.”

“You had a chance to kill her at the cabin. Why didn’t you attempt it?”

Marcus smiles. “I didn’t bother because it was a power-play. Alysa wanted me to know that she wasn’t afraid of me, so she put on a show of vulnerability to see what I’d do. Although I was no longer a prisoner in that bed, she was very much still in control. There was only one option… and that was leaving… as she intended.”

“Interesting,” John says. “How much do you think she knows about the real you?”

“I think she knows enough, and revealed just enough, to let me know that I was vulnerable.”

“Because of Gina?”

“Yes.”

“So what do you suppose she really wanted from you if everything else was an act?”

Marcus shook his head. “That’s a very good question. Truth is, I hope I never find out. I believe Alysa understands the value of information. Anyone can learn how and where to cut someone with a sharp enough weapon to do the most damage. It takes real skill to know how deep to cut to kill quickly and how shallow to prolong pain. But only a master knows how to do the most damage to someone with nothing but your tongue. Possessing and wielding information effectively is the most devastating weapon available.”

John nods. “And that’s what you’ve done a lot of, if I’m correct. How you devastated Tony before leaving the community seems like a perfect example of what you’re talking about.”

“Precisely. Knowledge waits, like a patient predator, for the most opportune time to strike.”

“And you’re saying that Alysa understands this as much as you do?”

Marcus sighs. “She may be more deadly with it than I could ever be. I wasn’t about to stick around and find out.”

“So, she let you go, then?”

“I believe she gave me a choice. A test. Whether I passed it or not is beyond me. But either way, she was prepared for whatever I chose.”

John shakes his head. “So, what was it about you that made her go through all this trouble? Why all the games and deception?”

“I believe she acquired enough information from the drugs to arouse her curiosity. The hell if I know for sure. She was able to hide herself from me… and that is not something most can do. I usually find a crack in most people, something to exploit… but not this woman.”

“So… has Marcus Dempsey met his match?”

Marcus smiled like the devil. “I certainly hope so.”

(The audience laughs.)

“We are almost out time,” John says. “I want to ask a few more questions before we finish. Near the end of the episode, Alysa opens a large chest, presumably full of her personal belongings. What’s described to us is a bow. Beneath the bow, a dark metallic suit, two gauntlets with razors for fingers, and a large cow-skull looking helmet. I don’t have to tell my audience what all that added together sounds like.”

Marcus laughs. “It is very interesting.”

“So I’ll just ask the million dollar question: Is Alysa a Shadow Dead?”

Marcus raises his arms and says, “I was long gone before that scene. Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Damn it!” John says. “I knew you were going to say something like that. Okay, next question. Will we see Alysa again in the near future?”

“Not if I kill her first,” Marcus says, and adds nothing else.

“Okay… okay… how about we just address the elephant in the room. What can you tell us about your next encounter with Gina… assuming, of course, that you find her?”

“All I’m permitted to say is that there’s a special kind of bond between myself and Gina… and a special kind of blood, which runs within us both. One way or the other, we’ll be exploring that blood in a very intimate way.”

“I don’t like the sound of that at all,” John admits. “Well, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else you can tell us about the next story arc found in Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Five: Remains?”

Marcus consider this, and then says, “There’s going to be a lot of death… and you all know how excited that makes me.” He adds a wink.

(The audience laughs nervously.)

“Well, Marcus, it’s been great finally having you on the show. I sincerely hope you never find Gina… but if you do… I hope she’s a much faster runner than you.”

(The audience laughs.)

“It’s been a pleasure,” Marcus lies. He could really care less.

John turns to the audience. “And that’s a wrap for this episode of After The Dark. As always, if anyone has any additional questions they would like to ask Marcus about his character, story line, or anything else Don’t Feed The Dark related, we will endeavor to answer your questions, if possible. How about a big hand for our special guest!”

(The audience stands and applauds… ecstatic to see the serial killer depart.)

“Just a reminder: Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Five: Remains, will begin in August. If possible, the author has informed us that we may have one more episode of After The Dark to kick off the premiere. See you all next time!”

~~~

Next Episode:
After The Dark (#14) – Remains

Please show your support for Don’t Feed The Dark by voting for it at topwebfiction Just click and vote. Nothing else required. You can vote every seven days to help me keep this series listed.

Thank you,
-Scott

~~~

~~~

Hello Everyone,

Just a quick update from behind the scenes.

I’m slowly working on the first chapter for DFTD Book 5 (currently untitled), while enjoying some much needed rest. I’m also planning on editing Book 4 over the summer, time permitting.

If you haven’t found out already, I’ve removed the “Updates” tab on the top of the main page and replaced it with the “Other Short Works” tab. This will now be the place where I post links to additional short stories I’ve written that aren’t DFTD related, as well as some dark poetry, etc., that I will update as I post more material.

Also, the newest episode of After The Dark is now available, titled: The Killer Cut (Part One). This is part one of a two part episode featuring our latest special guest, Marcus Dempsey (a.k.a. Russell Bower). I’ll be posting the second part of this intriguing interview as soon as it becomes available.

In case you missed it on the main sticky page, a special thanks goes out to author, Michael Fitzgerald (Rev. Fitz), for featuring Don’t Feed The Dark on his, 31 Days of First Impressions Challenge, which he has now completed. I encourage you all to come on over to Michael’s website and read all about it. Also, Michael is currently writing a fascinating serial novel, titled, Existential Terror and Breakfast. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and it’s definitely worth a read.

Lastly, the latest update link, as well as any additional news, will be posted on the bottom of the sticky post on the main page from now on.

That’s all for now. I’ll check back in a little later.

-Scott

~~~

After the Dark1 (2)

~~~

“Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the Don’t Feed The Dark after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each episode we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.

***SPOILER ALERT***

At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read the first 38 chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.”

John enters with his arms wide as the audience rises to their feet and makes a lot of noise.

“So how about that, ladies and gentlemen!” John begins. “We’ve reached the end of another exciting volume in this long, dark saga. Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Four: Phantoms has broken the record for longest book in the series so far, clocking in at over 225,000 words and 62 more online episodes. And I have to say, this book really took a departure from the norm and opened up a lot of new developments to think about.”

(The audience voices their approval.)

“Well, let me waste no time introducing our next guest. It’s been a long time coming… but hell yes! We finally have none other than Marcus Dempsey, a.k.a. Russell Bower, here on our show today. Please put your hands together and welcome our favorite serial killer!”

(Most of the crowd roars their approval. Some boo. Others wisely choose to sit back down, hoping to escape notice.)

Marcus walks across the platform dressed in an un-tucked black button-down shirt, jeans, and wearing a pair of dark sunglasses. He ignores the audience as John motions for him to sit in the open chair. Marcus sits and John immediately follows.

When the crowd settles down, John says, “Welcome to the show, Marcus… or would you prefer Russell?”

Marcus half smiles and answers, “Marcus is fine.”

“I think I can speak for all of us here and say that we’re finally glad to snag you for the show. You are certainly a hard man to get a hold of.”

“I’ve had years of practice escaping notice… John.”

“Indeed.” John scoots his chair to the side, creating a little distance between himself and his guest. “You’ll understand if I’d like a little more… space… between us, right Marcus? It’s not everyday I get a chance to interview a serial killer.”

(John’s overdramatic motions of discomfort cause the crowd to laugh.)

Marcus adds a laugh of his own, which feels more contemptuous than accommodating.

John shifts uncomfortably. “Anyway, it’s good to have you with us, Marcus. I have a shit-load of questions to ask you, so why don’t we just jump right in. Okay?”

“Certainly,” Marcus adds, adjusting his glasses to hide his eyes.

“Is your… friend… with you today?” John asks.

“No. I gave that savage the day off,” Marcus starts. “It probably wouldn’t go well to have him here with all these fine people in attendance.”

(The audience laughs… nervously.)

John laughs and says, “Well, that puts me at ease. I’m not afraid to admit it. So, let me ask the most obvious question. Why the hell did the author choose to keep you under wraps for so damn long?”

Marcus nods. “That’s a good one. I suspect the author didn’t want me killing off most of the main cast in the first book by leaving me out in the open… especially in this new free-for-all environment.”

“That’s a good point,” John says. “But seriously, why so long?”

“From the author’s perspective, when my story started all the way back in Chapter 1, with the hunting of Janet Schuler, I was one of many characters introduced. At that time, the author wanted to create an impression with the characters, leaving the readers a glimpse into their lives before The Change in the form of mini-stories, and then he wanted to leave us all in a state of uncertainty as to ‘when’ and ‘if’ any of us would return later on. In my case, the author told and completed the story of what happened between predator and prey during that insane night the dead came to visit. With the death of Janet Schuler, the author finished that particular tale, and then wanted the readers to forget about me by getting them engrossed in other character stories, especially when some of them started finding each other, while hiding me in plain sight. The author knew that some readers would forget about me, others wouldn’t suspect the ruse but would still be waiting for me to return, and then still others would have me pegged right away… but would never really know for sure, until the author revealed who I was and how. In all cases, he wanted an insider threat within the group, sitting patiently like a timed explosion, and only the author knew when that bomb would go off.”

“Very interesting,” John says. “And with everything else going on, I can easily see how you’ve been able to escape the reader’s notice for so long. And then what? That bomb goes off with the death of Frank Carman at the end of Book Three?”

“Exactly. Even the readers who long suspected who I was by then, couldn’t see that coming.”

“And so after waiting through three volumes to finally discover who you really were, we get this one long damn chapter which is loaded with… well… everything.”

Marcus laughs. “The author calls Chapter 37, a ‘novella within a novel’. He wanted to reward the patience of the readers by giving them ample make-up time with yours truly… and one hell of a story to go with it. Through the Eyes of a Devil was the very first chapter the author wrote for Book Four, long before the premiere, and he put a lot of thought and time into it, based in part, on things he’s been seeding for a while now… and things yet to come.”

“Fascinating,” John says with a nod. “Before we dig into that awesome tale, I have to ask: How far in advance did the author know when you would be returning? Was your reveal coinciding with Frank’s death planned well in advance?”

“In many instances, the author is just as surprised by events as the readers are since the outline can change rather suddenly. But in this case, yes, Frank’s death was in the works since Marcus was born. Several times, as that moment came closer, the author entertained changing the script to keep Frank alive, only because, like so many readers, the author also fell in love with that character. But it couldn’t be changed. The author had gone through great lengths to keep my character and Frank apart, and for good reason, because Frank always suspected there was something ‘off’ about me. The closer are moment came, the more the author understood that for me to continue to exist with these survivors, one of us had to go. The author knew that keeping Frank alive would have been a betrayal to the story’s intended course, much like if he had chosen to keep Janet Schuler alive, which he debated doing for a while, just to give the readers that predictable plot dynamic between predator and prey teaming up in the apocalypse. So, we had our destined dance together by that river, and I prevailed.”

John shakes his head. “And does our author have your death planned well in advance?”

Marcus smiles. “Nice try. I won’t bite on that one.”

“Well… no offense… but I hope the author puts an end to you soon. I don’t like the thought of you killing any more of my favorite characters.”

(The audience laughs.)

“I understand completely,” Marcus says. “At least I’m nowhere near any of them right now… well… maybe just one.”

“And we’ll get into that,” John injects. “But first, let’s talk about your story. I found it interesting that we got to revisit specific chapters from back in the first book to get your perspective on events. And then we even got to go back further and find out how you ended up at the Percy Power Plant, and how you came up with your new name. Also, I found it intriguing how you met Amanda Howard, who we might not have met at all if a certain savage had been in charge.”

Marcus nods. “Yes, Amanda was the latest mission, up until my character started having doubts. And then, of course, I met Gina… and that changed everything.”

“Why Gina? What made her so special?”

“I knew right away that there was tremendous potential in her to become something beautiful born of darkness.”

John scowls. “And what the hell does that mean?”

Marcus raises an eyebrow and answers, “I could tell you… but then I’d have to kill you.”

“Next question.”

(The audience laughs.)

“So, answer me this one: Obviously, you attacked the three scientists because they boasted they could cure the epidemic. And nice twist, by the way, discovering that the woman in the ravine was your handiwork. I guess I’m trying to figure out if you really love this new zombie-infested world, or you just hate the old world more. I get the impression that you might do anything to sabotage efforts in restoring law and order, or anything associated with ‘civilized’. So which is it?”

Marcus sighs. “My character appreciates what this new hostile world has given to everyone still breathing. And that is, a second chance to live without pretense, without fear, and without dipping into the stagnant pool of dead living. Everything else related to the past… all irrelevant now. My character firmly believes that everything that’s happened since The Change is progress… maybe even an evolution of a sort. In any case, he will do his best to interfere with anything attempting to put people back to sleep, content in their automatic lives.”

John nods. “So, we’ll get more into Chapter 37 in our next segment. But let’s talk about your childhood. That was some warped shit. Were you… the serial killer… caused by your awful parents, or were you always a bit… ‘off’?”

Marcus raises an eyebrow. “Yes, I suppose my lovely home life had a little to do with my blood lust. But in truth, I think I was like this long before all that. If anything, my wonderful parents simply accelerated the process.”

“And what process is that?”

“My understanding of the liberating power of death, first for myself, and then for others.”

“And… is that who you mean when you refer to The Lady?

Marcus smiles. “She is my destiny. She is Death… but not in the limited sense that the rest of you see her as.”

John shakes his head and smiles. “Well… I guess we’ll just have to take your word on that one.” He turns and addresses the audience. “And on that note, we’ll have to conclude for the day, folks. But not to worry, our second part of this interview will continue our discussion.” He turns back to Marcus. “I want to thank you for joining us today, Marcus… and for not killing anyone… especially me.”

(The audience laughs.)

“It was my pleasure,” Marcus says. “And I look forward to sharing more with your lovely audience.” He turns and scans the crowd with a menacing stare.

(Many cower down a bit lower in their seats.)

John laughs. “Well, we’ll definitely be talking more next time.” He turns to the audience. “For now, if anyone has any burning questions they’d like to ask, please feel free to ask away and we’ll try to answer them, if possible. If not, we’ll see you next time for part two of this discussion. How about a big hand for our special guest.”

(The crowd reluctantly puts their hands together.)

John stands. “In case anyone missed it. Book Five will be starting August 2017. We hope to see you all back then!”

~~~

Next Episode:
After The Dark (#13) – The Killer Cut (Part 2)

Please show your support for Don’t Feed The Dark by voting for it at topwebfiction Just click and vote. Nothing else required. You can vote every seven days to help me keep this series listed.

Thank you,
-Scott

~~~

After The Dark (#11) – Outcast

Posted: February 4, 2017 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, Interviews/Reviews, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, talk show, thriller, walking dead, zombie books, Zombies
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After the Dark1 (2)

~~~

“Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the Don’t Feed The Dark after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each episode we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.

***SPOILER ALERT***

At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read the first 35 chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.”

John stands up and addresses the audience. “After ten episodes of our show, we finally managed to corner our very own psychic to the undead stars… and she never saw it coming.”

(The audience laughs.)

“Would you please put your hands together for Meredith Montgomery!”

(The audience stands and gives Meredith a huge round of applause. Meredith enters wearing a blue and white flowered sundress, waves enthusiastically at the crowd, and then takes a seat beside our host.)

The crowd continues to cheer as John attempts to get a word in. “My, oh, my, these folks love you, Meredith!”

Meredith kisses her hand and pretends to blow it at them. “The feeling’s mutual, John,” she adds with a wink.

“I gotta tell you,” John says as the audience settles down, “I think we’ve all been dying to find out just what’s been happening on your side of this rather long tale. According to Stephen’s journal entries, you haven’t been a very popular member of the Wasteland Community. Why do you think that is?”

Meredith chuckles. “I have no idea. Everyone knows that I’m just a charming old gal who tries to get along with everyone.”

(The audience laughs.)

“You’ve been named the Wasteland Witch… I bet you’ll be a big hit around Halloween if that name continues to stick.”

“Well… I don’t have a broom, a fancy black hat, or even a cat,” Meredith says. “But it’s pretty clear that I’ve developed a rather larger-than-life reputation.”

John nods. “Obviously, the community has been passing along stories of what you did prior to the explosion in the last book. And I’m sure having Megan as your roommate in the clinic just adds fuel to the fire.”

Meredith leaned in and whispers, “Is isn’t mentioned in the story, John, but Megan started out as a cat until she started scratching up the furniture… and then ‘Poof!'”

(The audience laughs.)

“Seriously though, is it fear? They seem unable to accept what you’re capable of and would rather find any old excuse to exclude you.”

Meredith frowns. “Yes. It’s a lot like how I was treated as a young girl. It’s far easier to laugh with your friends about the freaks living with you than it is to attempt understanding someone very different from yourself. Also, being labeled an agent of Mother doesn’t help my cause much either.”

“Agreed,” John says. “So, rather than fight against what the community has turned you into, it seems like you’ve decided to embrace the role and enjoy the isolation it affords. Is that a fair assessment?”

Meredith smiles. “I’ve always tried my best to maintain the peace. I don’t like being a source of conflict, or causing discomfort. I would rather accept being their ‘witch’ and keep my distance, rather than try to join the community by forcing myself upon them. Nothing good can come of that… at least, not while people are suffering down in that dark dungeon.”

“Well, you’ve handled yourself with typical Meredith class. I suspect that very few of us could endure what you’ve had to put up with over that long winter and not lose our cool by now.” John turns to the audience. “Wouldn’t you all agree?”

(The crowd applauds.)

Meredith looks at her hands resting in her lap and says, “Well… that’s kind of you to say.” She looks to the audience. “It’s wonderful knowing that not everyone hates me for simply being different.”

(The crowd stands up and roars their approval.)

“So, let me sum this up,” John says. “Over the past several months, you’ve been trying to reach out to Megan who is essentially ‘half dead’. You’ve not be able to use your abilities to peek inside her head, and as a result, you and Dr. Cooper have been shooting in the dark.”

“Yes, that’s about right,” Meredith says. “I’m drawn to that poor girl because I know what she’s going through. I felt it once in Harpersfied. Megan’s in a very scary place… a very sad, lonely place… and I feel compelled to help her in any way I can.”

John nods. “If given the option, would you consider going topside with her and using your powers?”

Meredith carefully considers the question. “Well, John, I don’t think that I could… even if I wanted to. Last time I was around Megan’s particular illness it nearly drained me to death. There’s a black hole of hopelessness inside this particular breed of zombie that sucked the life right out of me. If Gina hadn’t shown up at that church way back in Chapter 20… well… I don’t know what would’ve happened… but it wouldn’t have ended well.”

“Considering they already had you on the menu for a sacrificial supper… I’d have to agree,” John says.

(The audience laughs.)

“So, what you’re saying is, because of the unique design of this Mother-sponsored compound, you wouldn’t last long around Megan without getting ill again?”

“I believe my resistance to her would’ve been better, now that I know what was making me ill, but ultimately… yes… if I started opening up my mind to poor Megan, it could potentially kill me.”

“Let’s move on,” John says. “So, after Gina put you under ‘house arrest’ in the compound, you’ve been able to be just Meredith for the first time. How did it feel when you realized you were cut off from your abilities?”

“Wonderful… and a little strange,” Meredith admits. “It’s like a fog suddenly lifting from your life, a fog that’s always been there, separating me from that clarity of my own life and causing me to learn how to defend my mind against it creeping in under the door cracks. It’s been an adjustment, for sure.”

“And now that you’ve been lowering your shields, so to speak, it appears as though you’re remembering a whole lot of things from your past that you haven’t had access to… until now.”

“That’s right, John. As we’ve found out from this present chapter, it’s all starting to come back… and apparently… I am more involved with Mother than I ever realized. It’s a rather frightening awakening.”

“So let’s talk about young Meredith,” John says. “You were an orphan?”

“Yes. Although I don’t think I’ve ever been told the particulars of how I entered the system, I’ve been moving around from foster home to foster home as far back as I can remember… and that’s a slippery slope at the moment.”

“Yeah… your memory’s like Swiss cheese, lady,” John says.

(The audience laughs.)

“So, you’ve been really adamant about keeping Gina out of that mysterious door. Can you tell us your theory of what the compound really is, or what the humming sound coming from beneath it is?” John asks.

“Probably not… but that doesn’t mean I won’t recall something later on in this story,” Meredith says with a wink.

“I had to try,” John laughs. “So, tell us about your old buddy, Clem? How does it feel knowing that she has survived The Change?”

“Well, my character obviously doesn’t know Clementine is alive… and I hope I never have to find out. That should tell you exactly how I feel on the matter,” Meredith answers with a smile. “But if you’re trying to get out of me whether or not I’ll be reacquainted with my old friend… well… I suppose anything’s possible.”

“Fair enough,” John says. He turns to the audience and adds, “For those of you who don’t know, Meredith’s former best friend, Clementine, makes a special appearance in the latest Don’t Feed The Dark spin-off story, Hangar Six. You’ll definitely want to give that a read and find out what Clem’s been up to.”

John turns back to Meredith. “So, let’s talk about a few things which were mentioned in this chapter.”

Meredith rubs her hands together like an eager child. “Let’s do that, John.”

(The audience laughs.)

“First… let’s talk about the damn lions. We have your dreams and the strange picture on your bedroom wall that show us the emerald lion with yellow eyes that apparently want to devour everything in its path. There are also drawings of lions on the classroom walls along with other scenes depicting death and destruction… creepy. We also learn that lions are mentioned in the children’s mantra at the end of class… that gave me a very weird cult-vibe, by the way. If I were to connect the dots, it would seem that all these lions are symbolic in nature. Then add in the fact that we have our modern day flyers that were hung shortly before the shit hit the fan, mentioning, you guessed it… lions. Are all these connected in some way?”

Meredith laughed. “If you’re asking me if I think the lions are symbolic of The Change… well, it certainly appears so. Especially when you factor in the yellow eyes.”

John leans back in his chair. “If that’s true, then it means that as far as this orphanage is concerned… they’ve known about it for a very long time. That’s mind blowing.”

Meredith nods her head. “Yes, it would seem that they knew something was definitely coming. Whether it was the girls who first saw it through their ‘gifts’ or something else… well that’s yet to be made clear.”

“Fascinating,” John says. “So let’s talk about the three-pronged symbol. You drew one in class which clearly freaked out Finch, and then found another one marking the secret door behind the doll cabinet wall. Obviously this orphanage, which is not an orphanage, is clearly another Mother-run operation. Is that right?”

Meredith smiled. “It would certainly seem so.”

“I hate it when you answer a ‘yes or no’ question like that. You sound like your saying ‘yes’ with a big ‘however…’ attached to it.”

(The audience laughs.)

Meredith leans back and folds her hands. “Questions, ask you. Answers, I may have,” she says in a bad imitation of Yoda voice.

(The audience roars with laughter.)

John shakes his head. “Meredith… you’re killing me!”

She laughs. “I’m surprised you haven’t asked about the dolls yet?”

“I was getting to that,” John says. “But let’s talk about Toby first. Is he the young man from your dream, the doll, or the sick man in the bed?”

Meredith scowls and says, “Well… I don’t know what to say to that question. But I think the better question might be, ‘What does he want from me?'”

“Agreed,” Johns says. “So… what do you think he wants?”

“I don’t know… yet.”

John feigns distress by hitting his forehead. “And what about those creepy dolls? Can you tell us anything about them?”

Meredith rubs her chin. “Well… I will say that it can’t be just a coincidence that they’re just happens to be four dolls and four patients hidden away in that secret room.”

“Interesting… but I bet you can’t tell us anything else, can you?”

“Probably not,” she says.

“Of course,” John says with a laugh. “So with all these memories crashing to the surface, what’s that mean for your character now? Do you keep what you’ve discovered about your past to yourself? Do you tell Gina and risk being alienated even further from the community?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, John,” Meredith admits. “All I know at the moment is that Meredith has a whole lot to process, while trying to keep herself and Megan safe.”

“That’s right,” John says. “After Logan’s unusual visit and veiled warning things aren’t looking very safe at the moment.”

“Agreed,” she says. “And we’ll just have to find out what happens in the next chapter… so don’t even ask.”

John threw his hands into the air.

(The audience laughs.)

“I will say,” Meredith adds, “that the next chapter will have us all back together again, and our resident preacher, Logan, will have center stage for quite a bit of the next chapter.”

“That sounds awesome!” John says. “Before we run out of time, let’s talk about Megan. After those tears, do you think she’s coming back from that black hole you mentioned? Is she remembering what happened to her?”

“I believe she might be. Which is all the more reason to keep her safe.”

“Okay,” John says. “Is there anything else you can tell us about what to expect in the days to come?”

“Well, I do know that this little flashback story from 1973 isn’t finished yet.”

“So we should expect a Dead Dolls, Part Two?” John asks.

Meredith hesitates, then answers, “Yes and no.”

“What’s that mean?”

Meredith laughs and explains, “This story from my past is definitely not finished… but it might not be continued from my thirteen-year-old perspective. A lot can happen between now and then that might make me… unable to finish that particular story.”

(The audience gasps.)

John points a finger at Meredith and says, “You’re just saying that because we don’t know what happens next chapter… right?”

Meredith smiles and shrugs her shoulders. “Folks die all the time in this series. We’re just going to have to find out what happens next.”

John shakes his head and turns toward the audience. “How’s that for a scary answer, folks?”

(The audience shouts out for more clarification.)

“Sorry,” she says sheepishly. “I can’t say anything else.”

“Well, we’ll just have to hope for the best,” John says, “and we’ll all pray that Meredith returns to us safely so we can ask more questions she’ll probably not be able to answer.”

(The audience laughs.)

“So let’s move on to a lighter subject. Is there some romance potentially brewing between yourself and the good Doctor Cooper?”

Meredith laughs. “Well, I think Coop will keep trying. Maybe he’ll wear me down eventually. But for now, we’re just really good friends.”

“Well, I’m just glad you’re still around. You seem to be at the center of a lot of things which were hinted about in the past, and now we’re starting to see what’s really going on. I have one more question for you,” John says.

“Please… ask away,” Meredith says.

“It’s about your connection with Frank Carman. Will we ever find out what was going on between you two?”

Meredith smiles. “You know, John, that’s very possible. Now that my past is free game, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author touches on our relationship at some point in the story.”

“That sounds intriguing,” John says, and leans back in his chair. “Well, I want to thank you for joining us today. It was such a pleasure to finally get you on the show.”

“Thanks for having me,” she says.

John turns toward the crowd. “Let’s give Meredith a big hand for hanging out with us so long.”

(The audience rises to their feet and applauds.)

Meredith is glowing as she blows them another kiss of appreciation.

“And that’s a wrap for this episode. Just a reminder, Chapter 36: Uprising begins tomorrow. If anyone has any additional questions they’d like to ask Meredith about her character specifically, or just about the story in general, we’ll try our best to answer your questions. If not, then we’ll see you all next time for another adventurous episode of After The Dark!”

~~~

Next Episode:
After The Dark (#12) – The Killer Cut (Part 1)

Please show your support for Don’t Feed The Dark by voting for it at topwebfiction Just click and vote. Nothing else required. You can vote every seven days to help me keep this series listed.

Thank you,
-Scott

~~~

After The Dark (#10) – Confessions

Posted: December 29, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, Interviews/Reviews, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, talk show, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombie Talk Show, Zombies
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

After the Dark1 (2)

~~~

“Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the Don’t Feed The Dark after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each episode we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.

***SPOILER ALERT***

At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read the first 34 chapters of Don’t Feed The Dark, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.”

John stands up before a live studio audience and is met with applause. Seated behind him on a large couch is Gina Melborn, Tony Marcuchi, Diane Conley and Nine Lives. He raises his arms to quiet the crowd. “Welcome back everyone to another informative episode of After The Dark! I’m excited to have all four of our special guests here today. How about another round of applause for Gina, Tony, Diane and Nine!”

(The crowd is on their feet as the studio erupts in another round of applause.)

John sits down in a chair across from his guests as the audience takes their seats. “Wow, it’s great to have all of you here… and what’s better is that you’re all still alive.”

(The audience laughs.)

“It’s been a wild run so far and we’re already twenty-four episodes into this new story arc. I’m going to just jump right in because I know we have a lot to cover.” John turns to Gina. “Welcome back, Gina. How’s my favorite bad ass doing?”

Gina laughs. “I’m doing okay, all things considering.”

“So… we’ve already discussed your current state-of-mind in a previous episode. I guess one of the big burning questions at the moment is, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?'”

Gina gives Tony a suspicious glance.

Tony sheepishly scoots a little farther away from her on the couch causing everyone to laugh.

“Why, John, whatever do you mean?” Gina jokes, feigning her restrained anger.

John shakes his head and says, “It’s confession time, Gina. You’ve suddenly gone from heroine to borderline villain since your time spent in the compound. Are we finally seeing your character pushed passed her limits?”

Gina nods. “As I’m sure you’ve already discussed, I’m at a very fragile place at the moment. I think what my character is experiencing is due in part to an accumulative amount of bullshit since the beginning of all this madness. I think losing Frank and Megan, as well as being betrayed by Meredith, has put me in a very volatile place, somewhere between wanting to go on an all-out killing spree and drowning in my own deep, dark self-loathing.”

“It seems very apparent that you murdered those two men who accidentally killed another community member who tried to break up their fight. Can you confirm this?” John asks.

Gina frowns. “Yes. I executed them. It was always my intent to do so. I just wanted them to give me a reason so I provoked their escape attempt, but they caught on to what I was doing, laid down their arms… and I shot them anyway.”

(The audience is unusually silent.)

John nods solemnly. “Ironically, it was Frank, the convict, who stopped you in the past from killing Megan, the pregnant girl. But now, his death has also set you back on a similar path, with no one to stay your shooting arm this time. Would you say that you’re having a tough time distinguishing who the enemy is?”

Gina folds her hands in her lap. “All is can say is that my character is in a very dark place. There’s a pain ripping away at her from the inside out and she’s losing a vital battle within. Tony is perhaps the only thing keeping her from plunging completely into the dark, but at the same time, my desperate need to keep him alive no matter what, is also contributing to some really bad decision making.”

John turns to Tony. “It would appear that you are also nearing a breaking point, Tony. You’ve been covering for her all winter long while the community has grown weary of Gina. And now we find out that you concealed her crime out in those frozen woods.”

“Yes,” Tony begins. “My frustration with Gina, and with myself, is reaching a boiling point. I think I’m starting to realize, as was evident near the end of the last chapter, that I can’t keep continuing to bail Gina out of her messes… not without losing myself. Something’s about to break within me if I don’t find a way to reach her.”

“Indeed,” John agrees. “So… Gina has essentially crossed the line with you, with the community, hell… even with Orosco, since he left the group early because of her. What’s all this going to mean when you all get back to the compound?”

Tony smiles and shares a secretive smile with Gina. “John, we’re just going to have to wait and see… and that’s all we’re allowed to say about it.”

“Fair enough,” John says. He turns to Diane. “And you, young lady, it’s nice to see another side to your character. All we knew of you from Book Three was that you were the good and faithful soldier character. Seemed like nothing could get to you, until that young man next to you came along.”

Diane looks to Nine and laughs. “What can I say? The heart wants what the heart friggin’ wants.”

(The audience laughs.)

“Seriously, though,” she continues, “I was delighted to find out that I would be playing a more central character in this story arc and I look forward to discovering, along with all the readers out there, just who Diane really is beneath all that armor.”

“Well, I’ve been enjoying how your relationship with Nine is developing. It’s good to see that young love can still find a place in this crazy, dark world.”

Nine puffs up and nods. “Yeah, she wants me.”

Diane gives him a playful jab to the ribs with her elbow.

(The audience laughs.)

John shakes his head with a smile. “So first off, Nine, welcome to The Dark. It’s great to meet new people in these storylines… hell… we’ve already lost too many.”

“Glad to be here,” he says. “I’d like to think that my character brings ‘cool’ back to the table.”

All four of them look to Nine disbelievingly, causing the crowd to laugh.

“So what’s with that crazy name?” John asks. “It’s because you’re real name is Bartholomew or something equally nerdish, isn’t it?”

(The audience laughs.)

Nine shakes his head. “No… nothing like that. It’s all about my luck with numbers, mostly.”

“Yeah… you say that,” John starts. “But I still think you’re just some kind of math nerd stuck in the 80’s.”

Nine lifts his hand. “No… I’m much too cool for math-”

“Math nerd. Just admit it,” John presses.

“Nope.”

The others nod their heads making the audience laugh. Nine turns to the others as they all turn away, trying not to laugh.

“You see what I have to put up with?” Nine says. “It’s a wonder how they’ve gotten by this long without me.”

John laughs and says, “Seriously, though, either you really have some understanding of how to use numbers in your favor, or, you’ve just been extremely lucky so far. Which is it?”

“I’ve always been good at the numbers game,” Nine says. “Without getting too much into it right now, let’s just say that the numbers are my character’s comfort zone. If I didn’t have them to rely upon, I’d probably be hiding under a bed until the apocalypse ended.”

(The audience laughs.)

“Fair enough,” John says. “I think we’d all be hiding under our beds if we each didn’t have something to fall back on. I’m looking forward to discovering how your character develops in the days ahead… and finding out a lot more about your ‘number system’.”

“Oh, well that’s easy,” Nine starts excitedly. “First you have-”

“Don’t get him going, John, or we’ll be here all night,” Gina interrupts, giving Nine a warning glance.

“Another time, then.” John looks through his notes and then turns to Tony. “So we’ve finally dealt with the Bad Man… and Helen. What was it like finding out that our favorite yellow-eyed monsters seemed to get smarter? Are the dead evolving over time like our characters or was Helen and her horde simply a fluke?”

“I believe we’re going to discover a whole lot of new things to deal with as we get farther out and away from our hole in the ground,” Tony says. “But it would definitely appear that at least some of the dead have… changed. What that will mean for us is still a mystery. But the implications are frightening.”

“Indeed. So did putting down Helen near the end of the last chapter give you some sense of closure, Tony?”

“I think so. It was rather sad… but in the end, Walter got what was coming to him and I think Helen and I both got a little retribution for the suffering we received from that evil man.”

“What’s really interesting about the last chapter,” Gina chimes in, “is that it was an unplanned chapter that came to the author late as he was nearing the completion of ‘Detour’. We were supposed to confront Walter at the end of the third chapter, but then the author saw an awesome opportunity to share with the readers what it was like being in Walter and Helen’s shoes before The Change happened. I think the bonus backstory between them really gave both those characters more depth and made events much more interesting by the time we confronted the Bad Man in the fourth chapter.”

“That is interesting,” John agrees. “I guess that’s why stories take on a life of their own and occasionally drift off course. Even writers can be caught off guard when a tale takes an unexpected ‘detour’ from the story line… pardon the pun.”

(The audience laughs.)

“So, we’re almost out of time,” John states. “I wanted to ask what we can expect from the next chapter. Gina?”

“Well… all I can say about it is that it’s Meredith’s turn to take the spotlight and Chapter 35 centers entirely around her storyline.”

“Fair enough,” John says. “I also understand that we have our third spin-off story that was posted on Monday, introducing us to a new character while taking us all the way back to the marina incident back in Chapter 14. Any additional comments on this, Tony?”

Tony smiles and says, “Again, we can’t say too much about it… but… it does tie in to the next chapter. Not only is it a Chapter 14 spin-off story, but it’s a Chapter 35 spin-off story as well… and it bit more than that.”

“That’s all you’re going to give us, isn’t it?”

“Yep,” Tony confirms.

“Damn it,” John shakes his head. “Well, on that note, we’ll just have to look forward to the next chapter and see where we land next.” John takes them all in and says, “I want to thank you all for joining us today and I’m sure we all hope to see you alive and kicking in the days to come.” He turns to the crowd. “How about a big hand for our guests!”

(The audience rises to their feet and applauds.)

Gina, Tony, Diane and Nine all wave and nod to the audience.

“And that’s all the time we have today,” John finishes. “If anyone wishes to ask any of our special guests a question about their characters or just about the story in general, we shall endeavor to answer your questions here… if possible.”

“Aside from that, be sure to check out the brand new spin-off story, Hangar Six and don’t forget that Don’t Feed The Dark returns on Monday, January 2nd for a brand new episode. As for us, I have been informed by the author that new episodes of After The Dark will now be posted at the conclusion of each new chapter. See you next time on After The Dark!”

~~~

Next Episode:
After The Dark (#11) – Outcast

~~~

Please show your support for Don’t Feed The Dark by voting for it at topwebfiction. Just click and vote. Nothing else required. You can vote every seven days to help me keep this series listed.

Thank you,
-Scott

~~~

Hello,

My name is Scott Scherr, part-time poet and fiction writer. I want to welcome all of you and thank you for giving my story a read.

Don’t Feed The Dark is an apocalyptic serial novel that I started posting back in the spring of 2014. It has since grown into a rather long work consisting of four novels totaling more than 689,000 words so far, and 210 episodes online. In addition, there are currently three spin-off tales and an online talk show titled, After The Dark.

Some might call this a zombie story. But I assure you, it’s a lot more than that. I prefer to think of this as a character-driven survival story with all sorts of mysteries and monsters both within and without. For a more detailed synopsis of the first three books in this series, please click HERE. You can also find out where to purchase DFTD in paperback from there, if reading online isn’t your thing. Sorry, there are currently no ebooks or audiobooks available (and I really need to get on that).

For as long as it takes for me to complete this dark saga, I will always make it available to read for free online. You can click right here to start reading from the beginning, or simply refer to my sidebar for chapter links, spin-off stories, online interviews, reviews, etc. Also, to find out more about me, my various publications, or the latest DFTD updates and giveaways, refer to this sticky page or the tabs at the top of the home page.

For readers who are returning and want a refresher synopsis of the first four books in the series: The Living and the Dead (A Look Back… )

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-Scott

~~~

New episodes of Don’t Feed The Dark will be posted every Monday and Thursday.

Don’t Feed The Dark Updates 8/23/17

Don’t Feed The Dark Updates: 8/3/17

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~~~

Chapter 34-6: Secrets

Posted: November 18, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, Interviews/Reviews, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombies
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night-storm

~~~

“This is so very fucking stupid and reckless!”

Diane’s last words to him echoed in his head like an omen. Nine continued to walk deeper into the forest, trying to pretend that he was unaware of the yellow-eyed beast’s presence just a hundred feet off to his left. The creature was using the trees as cover, inching closer and closer to its intended prey.

When the hell did these things get so damn smart? he wondered. She’s supposed to charge right for me like Tony on meth… not act all ninja-like with all this lurking crap.

Nine dared another glance over his left shoulder, just long enough to spot Helen’s shadow creeping toward him. “I think she’s right,” he mumbled to himself. “‘Stupid and reckless’, but with a light sprinkling of heroism if this actually works.”

Helen had closed the gap between them. She would attack at any moment.

Nine stared directly ahead, rehearsing his numbered steps in his head.

It was Diane who had discovered that they were being followed after Tony departed and they’d headed back downstream to figure out what to do next. She almost missed her tracks… almost. By the time they’d finished deliberately circling the area, Diane had located the bad man’s dead wife. At first, it seemed content to watch them from deeper in the woods, as if it were waiting for something.

That’s when Nine had opened his big mouth and whispered, “We can save them both if we catch this thing.”

Diane had given him ‘the look’.

“I mean it. We capture Helen, threaten to shoot his zombie lover’s brains out, and then arrange a prisoner exchange.”

“A fucking what?”

“You know… a prisoner exchange… like what they do in all those cheesy action flicks when-”

“Nine.”

“Yes, my angel.”

“Shut up.”

From there, he’d actually talked her into attempting it… and now… he was the bait.

Think I got the short straw on this one. Nine was about to glance back once more.

The brush suddenly came alive behind him as Helen charged.

Nine sprinted through the trees like his ass had just caught fire.

Diane had gone ahead and circled around behind the creature, allowing her time to prepare her part of Nine’s foolhardy plan. They’d decided on setting the trap in between two tall trees they’d spotted on their first trip around the area. The two trees had bowed toward each other near their tops, seeming to join in what looked like an arch. They’d both agreed that it was easy to spot from a distance. All Nine had to do was circle around and lead the beast between them.

Nine counted his steps as he ran.

One, two, three! He sidestepped left just in time to avoid Helen’s swing.

…Five, six, seven! He ducked to the right and then back to the left causing Helen to run into a tree.

He continued to count his manic strides, reacting to various numbers as if they somehow afforded him mathematical hindsight as he avoided being cornered by the surprisingly fast dead woman several times.

Nine could see the arch. Come on, Diane. I can’t keep this up. Please be ready!

He sprinted toward the gap between the trees.

One, two…

Helen was right on his heels, howling in frustration at her elusive prey.

…Three, four…

All he had to do was jump within the arch. Diane would handle the trap.

…Five, six… jump… wait! Not fucking six!

Nine sprinted through the arch just as Diane pulled back hard on the black nylon cord she’d tied to the opposite tree. It went tight, a foot above the ground. Nine struck it and tripped, falling forward on his forearms.

Fuck… it definitely works as intended, he thought.

A moment later Helen stormed through the arch and tripped over Nine, falling over and ahead of him.

“Shit!” Diane yelled, quickly getting to her feet.

Nine and Helen both got to their knees at the same time. She turned quickly and hissed at him, like a tiger getting ready to pounce.

“Ah… sorry about the trip… lady… Ma’am… whatever you are,” Nine slowly backed away on hands and knees. “Just… just take it easy. This has all been one big misunderstanding.”

The woman formerly known as Helen Gorman slowly crawled toward Nine. Her once long blond hair, now dark and damp with blood and dirt, hung over her face and down her tattered and soiled nightgown. Her face was a mask of mud and madness as her bloody teeth seemed to form a distorted smile. Her demoralizing hate-filled eyes dominated all else, making it hard for Nine to remember breathing.

The hideous witch-like monster lifted its scarecrow arms to reach in for him, the dark nails on her long fingers seeming like mini-daggers.

Nine raised his arms defensively. “Now… just hold on…”

Helen opened her mouth wide, a syrupy strand of crimson saliva dripped down her chin. She let loose an agonizing scream that made Nine want to crawl into a hole and die.

I’m so fucked, Nine thought.

Just as Helen thrusted forward for the kill, a black rope appeared around her neck. Diane pulled back and down on the cord with all her might, dragging the dead thing back and away from Nine. She continued to pull until the creature was suspended from a thick branch she thrown the rope over. Diane continued pull down on the rope as it struggled to get free of the noose, its feet dangling just a couple of inches off the ground.

Nine simply watched, awestruck by Diane’s overpowering of the creature.

“Get… off… your… ass… and… HELP ME!” she shouted at him.

“Fuck… right!” Nine got up and grabbed the end of the rope alongside Diane.

“Keep pulling!” she barked. “Don’t let that thing have any slack.”

Nine nodded.

Diane quickly took the end of the nylon cord and got beneath the creature’s swinging arms. She tied Helen’s feet together. “Now when I tell you to let go-”

“Let go? Are you sure?”

“Wait!”

Nine released the line causing the creature to fall over on its face.

Diane, who had just managed to get out of the way, shot Nine a murderous look.

“Sorry,” he mouthed.

The young hunter got up and kicked Helen’s rising arms out from under her as it tried to get up. She then got on the creature’s back to keep it down. She turned to Nine. “Pull the rope back until it’s tight, then run it through the slip knot I left binding its feet. Hurry! I don’t want these flailing arms anywhere near my skin.”

Nine did as instructed and then handed Diane what was left of the rope.

She carefully grabbed one of Helen’s boney wrists and brought her arm back. She quickly secured the hand with the rope. She then did the same to the other, being mindful of the monster’s infectious long nails. Once the creature’s hands were tied together, she quickly got up and moved away, struggling for breath. “Fucking thing’s ripe as hell,” she said, covering her mouth.

Nine looked at Diane’s handiwork. Helen’s hands, feet and neck were securely pinned behind the creature’s back. The more it struggled, the tighter its bindings became.

“Damn,” Nine said. “We did it!”

I did it,” she quickly corrected. “You almost got yourself killed! Why the hell didn’t you fucking jump!”

Nine looked away. “The count was wrong,” he mumbled.

“What was that?”

“I couldn’t jump on six… nothing good would have come out of it if I had.”

Diane raised her arms wide. “What the hell does that mean, Nine? Speak fucking English?”

“Doesn’t matter. Point is, the plan worked. We have our hostage.”

“And she fucking stinks! When we get back, I’ll be needing a two-hour shower… minimum.”

Nine watched as Diane removed his brother’s jacket, revealing a rare glimpse of her slender form contained within the tank top beneath. “Perhaps we could share that shower… you know… for the sake of water conservation and all.”

She glared at him.

“Never mind… just my nerves talking… I crack jokes after stressful situations. Unless, you think it’s a good idea… well, then-”

“Shut up.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

Diane put Nine’s jacket back on to his displeasure, grabbed her gear and rifle, and then picked up what was left of the rope. “Now comes the hard labor. We still need to drag this thing upriver.”

Nine looked at Helen. The crazed beast continued to fight against its restraints. “That looks uncomfortable as hell.”

“I don’t think it cares. It’s dead.”

“Good point. Too bad we didn’t have a car. We could’ve just dragged her from the bumper.”

Diane sighed. “Unbelievable.” She held out the rope. “You gonna keep dreaming about me in my tank top, or are you going to help me drag her?”

“Well… considering the choices you’ve presented, I’m going to have to say-”

“Nine?”

“Yes, my angel?”

“Rope… now!”

Nine moved in beside her and grabbed the rope.

“I hope this plan works,” Diane said.

“It will,” Nine said. “It has to… right?”

She smiled half-heartedly. “Let’s go.”

~~~

Nine and Diane approached the cottage. The silence felt frightening, threatening to kill off they’re fragile hope like a noose around their necks as both of them expected the worst. They dragged Helen in front of the bad man’s van and Diane tied the end of the rope around one of the rear tires.

Diane held her rifle toward the dead woman, expecting the seemingly submissive thing to charge them at any moment. But Helen only stared at the hunter, her arms and legs still firmly secured behind her.

Nine, out of breath, quickly took in their surroundings, noticing Tony’s gear along with the hand-held radio laying in a pile on the front porch. “Tony’s inside,” he said. “God only knows what that maniac’s doing to them right now.” He turned toward Diane.

The hunter was becoming unnerved by the staring creature. “I wish it would stop that,” she whispered. “I feel like it’s sizing me up, trying to look for an advantage.”

“You give it too much credit,” Nine said coming over. He gazed into the creature’s eyes. “It just wants to eat you… same as all the rest.”

Helen turned her head toward Nine and continued to stare.

“Yeah… I know that look,” he said. “I have the same damn look when the pizza delivery guy shows up and pulls that steaming pie out of the-”

“Nine.”

“Yes.”

“Please shut up.”

Nine looked at her pleading face and nodded.

“Now what?” Diane said.

Nine cautiously walked back toward the porch and retrieved Tony’s gear and the radio. “He’s made this a lot easier for us with this.” He held up the hand-held and finished. “Now… we make contact and state our demands.”

Diane frowned. “You’ve seen one too many spy films. Nothing’s ever that easy.”

Nine swallowed hard. “Easy? Damn… I’m scared shitless right now. I’ve never seen anyone in those films about to wet themselves.”

“Thanks for sharing. Do you really think Gina’s dead?”

“I don’t know. Only one way to find out.” Nine took a deep breath, cleared his throat, and then hit the transmit button on the radio. “Attention, attention. To the fucking lunatic who has my friends and insists on broadcasting messages with the words ‘Waffle House’ in it, causing me to constantly crave pancakes I can’t have… stop what you’re doing and fucking listen.” He stopped transmitting for dramatic effect.

“Are you fucking serious?” Diane said. “All those movies and that’s the best you can come up with?”

“Sorry… I babble when I’m nervous.” He hit the transmit button again and spoke in a deeper voice, hoping to sound more threatening. “I have your zombie. You have exactly five minute to release my friends.”

Diane rolled her eyes and shook her head. “‘I have your zombie’? Really?” she whispered.

“Cut me some slack!” he hissed. He then continued to broadcast. “If I don’t see them both on the Sampson’s front porch, alive and well… I’m going to put a bullet in Helen’s head.”

Nine winced, releasing the transmit button. “I sounded ridiculous,” he scolded himself. “Was it enough?”

“If you were going for ‘let’s see if I can make him laugh himself to death’, then yes… you did wonderful.”

“You’re sarcasm isn’t making this any easier,” Nine snipped.

“Sorry… you babble… I bite. This fucking thing keeps eye-balling me like I’m a rare steak.”

Suddenly, the radio came to life. “I gave you and your woman a chance to run. If I were you, I would take a long look at the meat you love and try to imagine the skin stripped from her flesh, hanging from my stables. That’s what I’m going to do to her when I come up… and I’ll make you watch me do it. Last chance. Leave now, and you both may still make it out of here before I hunt you down.”

Nine was terrified. He transmitted with as much bravado as he could muster. “Time’s ticking asshole. Bring my friends up… now!”

The bad man did not respond.

Nine started pacing.

“What do we do?” Diane asked, nervously swinging her rifle from Helen to the cabin front windows. “He knows we’re here now and he’s armed. This isn’t going to work.”

Nine looked at Helen and then at Diane’s rifle. “You’re… you’re going to have to shoot it.”

“What? After we dragged this thing all the way up here?”

“Don’t kill it! I mean… you know… make it scream.” Nine held the radio up and nodded. “Wait for me to transmit. Three… Two… One… ”

Diane gave him a weary look and nodded. She aimed for the creature’s right leg and fired two silenced rounds into its flesh as Nine transmitted.

Neither of them knew if the dead could feel pain, but the rounds successfully roused the creature as it screamed at Diane and pulled so hard against its restraints that Diane backed up, believing it might break free. “Shit!” she said. “I liked her better before.”

The dead thing’s glare was as penetrating as a bloody set of teeth. She’d never seen so much hatred… in anything… directed toward her.

“If you hurt her… there’s no end to the suffering I will put you through,” came the bad man’s reply, sending chills up Nine’s spine.

“He sounded scared! I could hear it in his voice,” Nine said.

Diane nodded, keeping the scope of her rifle on Helen’s forehead. “Just get on with it… and hurry.”

Nine transmitted. “No more bullshit. Get out here, or we kill Helen. Final warning.”

After another long pause, the bad man responded. “I’m coming up. Just… just leave her alone.”

“Get ready,” Nine told Diane. He retrieved the handgun she’d given him, moved just behind the dead things legs, and then held the gun aimed at Helen’s head. He squatted down trying to use as much of the zombie’s body as cover.

Diane took her cue, and got into the prone position behind the van, exposing just enough of herself to cover the front porch and windows of the cottage. “Don’t get too close to that thing,” she cautioned. “It’s clever if nothing else.”

Nine nodded.

A few minutes later, the front door of the cabin burst open.

Tony came out, wearing only his pants. Gina’s arm was around his shoulder as he helped her walk out onto the porch. They both looked terrible. Gina’s leg looked like some wild animal had torn it up.

The bad man, anticipating a trap, was crouched down behind them, using his captives as cover. He stopped them at the edge of the porch.

“I don’t have a clear shot,” Diane said in frustration.

“Understand. So much for plan A.” Nine yelled over to the porch. “Alright… we see you back there! Step out into the open or I waste this bitch!”

“Drop your weapons,” the bad man said. “If you don’t, I’ll kill one of them right now!”

Nine refused to budge. “Don’t do it! If you care about this… woman… then let my friends go! We’ll all just walk away and never come back!”

“I mean it!” The bad man yelled. “I only need one of them!”

Tony shouted, “Nine… Diane… if this fucker shoots either one of us… you kill Helen immediately… no matter what!”

“Understood!” Diane yelled back, making sure the bad man could see her rifle aimed toward the porch.

The bad man pressed the barrel of his rifle into Tony’s back. He could see Helen bound like an animal with the young meat holding a gun to her head. He could also see the woman with the rifle trying to get a clear shot. He was in agony. Part of him, the man trapped within the monster, wanted to simply run out to Helen and keep her safe, but the madness dominated him. The creature who Walter had become wanted to tear into his hostages’ flesh and rip them apart with his teeth… feeding the ravenous hunger… even if it meant his and Helen’s immediate death.

Tony felt the warning nudge of the rifle. He looked over at Gina. She was in great pain, but the anger behind her eyes kept her from acknowledging her condition. She needed to get her leg tended to before she lost any more blood. He looked out at Nine and Diane and smiled. Should have known that if you wanted today’s youth to do what they’re told, you have to tell them the opposite. His eyes connected with the yellow-eyed savage, who seemed to calm down considerably when it noticed him. You poor woman. All you wanted to do was help me… and now all this.

Tony spoke softly over his shoulder. “Walter, are you still in there?”

The bad man said nothing.

“You know now what you did,” Tony pressed. “You know what you did to Helen. Look at her. Is this what you want? Hasn’t she been through enough?”

“I did everything for her. EVERYTHING!” The bad man was losing it. “Of course I don’t want this! I want her to be happy. I want… what’s best for my Helen. She… she needs me now more than she ever did. I take care of her… I make the pain go away when she screams and screams and fucking screams for the blood! I feed her and it all goes away. That’s all I ever wanted.”

“Then fight it,” Tony said. “Fight the madness and do right by your wife. This can all end right now if you surrender peacefully. No one else has to get hurt.”

Gina gave him a puzzled look.

“Bullshit!” The bad man fought back. “There’s nothing but the blood now. I can’t… I can’t stop it! Best thing to do is just… just give it what it wants.”

“Then your wife will die,” Tony said. “She’ll die like a pig all tied up, lying face down in the dirt with a bullet through her brain. No one to mourn her. No one to bury her. No one to remember her.” He looked at the pitiful creature and finished. “She saved my life, Walter. Believe me, I hate to see her like this. Just let us go and I give you my word that I’ll let the two of you leave. You can find a new place to live, and take care of her.”

The bad man remained silent.

Tony looked to Gina. She was frowning at him with a look of confusion, fire, and hatred all rolled together plastered upon her face. My God, even now, her anger consumes all else. He had to keep trying. “Walter, are you still there?”

“Yes… yes.”

“She needs you, Walter. Who else will care for her if you’re gone? No one will understand. They’ll just see another monster and shoot her down. But they don’t see… they don’t know what we know.”

“What do we know?”

“We know that this poor woman is Helen Gorman, and she deserves better than this.”

“Yes… she does.”

“If she can forgive you for what you did to her, Walter, and I assume she still remembers you because in all this time since she escaped, she hasn’t come back to kill you, then I can forgive you, too. For Helen’s sake.”

“For Helen?”

“That’s right…for Helen.”

Silence.

“I think you know what to do, Walter. Please… don’t make Helen suffer any more. She’s had enough.”

“She… she needs me,” Walter said. “She needs me to… let you go. She’s always had a soft spot for you… Tony. Even after she… changed. I could tell. I could always tell that you were… special to her. I just couldn’t remember why. There’s so many things… I couldn’t remember.”

We might still get out of this, Tony thought.

“This is all my fault,” Walter said, lowering the rifle.

Tony heard Walter drop the gun. He turned toward Nine and Diane and shouted. “Lower the weapons. It’s over.”

Diane and Nine exchanged confused looks.

“I’m walking away now, Walter. Just… let me fix this.” Tony started moving Gina off the porch, half expecting to hear the sound of a gun followed by their deaths. Nothing happened.

The bad man sat down on the front porch steps, and rested his arms on his knees. He was staring at Helen, already forgetting about Tony and the others. When Helen met his gaze, he put his mangled face into his hands and began to weep. “I’m sorry… I’m so very sorry…”

Diane was tempted to take the shot.

“No!” Tony said. “It’s over, Diane. Help me with Gina.”

“What are you fucking doing?” Gina asked. “After everything he did… you’re going to just let him live?” She tried to break free from Tony but was surprised at how weak she felt. The blood loss was taking its toll.

“Gina, you need to let me handle this now,” Tony said.

She turned away in disgust.

Nine and Diane came over and grabbed Gina’s arms. Tony let them have her and gave them both a grateful look. “Next time I tell you to do something-”

“Sorry, Tony,” Nine chimed in. “You can’t be the hero all the damn time.”

“That’s right,” Diane said. “We just saved the fucking day.” She added a wink and a smile.

Tony laughed and ruffled the hair on both their heads. “Take her in the house and look for a first-aid kit–anything to stop the bleeding and patch up her leg” he advised them.

They nodded and started back toward the porch. Gina spit on the bad man as they passed.

Walter didn’t flinch.

When they reached the door, Nine turned when Tony didn’t follow. “You coming?”

“Just get her inside. I’ve got this. We have things to discuss.”

Nine nodded and they went into the house.

Tony retrieved Walter’s rifle and stopped. He no longer saw a monster, just a broken man being consumed by something stronger than the blood lust: his guilt.

He looked toward the van and then to Helen. Tony turned back to Walter and said, “I should kill you, promise or not, I should shoot you down right here and now.”

Walter looked up, shielding his sensitive, water streaked eyes from the sun. “I’m already damned, in more ways the one, slowly dying from the inside out. If my death means something for you, than have at it. You’d only be doing me a favor. Nothing’s worse than this… not even death.”

Tony looked back at Helen. Just as she seemed to recognize him in the woods, she also appeared to recognize her husband. I don’t know what all this means, but it can’t be good for whoever’s left of the living, Tony thought. But he would think about this another day. For now, he had to finish what he started.

Tony walked over to the dead thing and crouched down in front of her. “I don’t know if you can understand me, Helen. I don’t pretend to even understand how you’re still functioning in that dead body. But, part of me believes that you remember… maybe just a little bit. You might not remember me the way your old self used to, but still, there’s something there behind those hate-filled eyes that registers who I am to you.”

Helen stared at him, a blank expression on her dead face. Her eyes clearly spoke volumes, those eyes that demanded Tony’s blood all over her face as something foreign was barely holding back the beast from consuming flesh and blood and bone.

“Maybe that’s it,” Tony said. “Maybe the fact that I know you see me as something other than food right now, is all there is. Maybe you don’t even understand it. But it tells me that there has to be something of Helen Gorman still there, even if it’s just an impulse not to kill.” He stood up and located his gear. Tony went to his pack and retrieved his handgun with the silencer and a knife. He walked back to Helen and said, “I’m going to do something really stupid right now. When I do, I’m going to hope that I’m not wrong. But just in case I am, I just wanted to say thank you for saving my life that night. You didn’t have to stop. You could’ve just left me on the side of the road to die. But you didn’t. And it cost you everything. For that, I am grateful… and I’m truly sorry this happened to you.” Tony wiped a tear from his eye.

The dead thing continued to stare.

Tony went behind her, took a deep breath, and then cut the cord binding her legs to her neck which also freed her hands.

The yellow-eyed beast immediately struggled to its feet as Tony backed up, gun raised.

Helen turned to charge, but then stopped, locking eyes with Tony.

Walter was also up on his feet. “Don’t hurt her!” he pleaded. “You promised!”

Helen heard Walter’s voice and whipped her head around toward him. She hissed at him and then stormed toward Walter. Just when it looked like she was about to attack, she stopped right in front of him and stared into the familiar madness she found in his eyes.

Walter had his hands up. He lowered them and smiled. “You… you remember, don’t you, my love?”

The monster did not respond. She was panting heavily as if struggling with some inner turmoil that prevented her from slaughtering anything with a pulse.

Tony cautiously approached, his gun held much lower as to not appear threatening.

“Do you know what this is?” he asked Walter. “Does she… remember you?”

Walter smiled. “That night you escaped, she could’ve devoured me, but she didn’t. I’d lied to myself and said that she’d done it before… and that she’d infected me. The lie made me stupid… overconfident. She let me live after she attacked, after she tasted my flesh… and remembered me.”

Tony was stunned to silence as he watched Helen stare into Walter’s eyes as if caught in a trance she couldn’t comprehend.

“Now I understand,” Walter continued. “I did the same thing when I attacked her. I was able to stop myself from consuming my Helen because I tasted her and remembered.”

“So… are you saying there’s something in our blood that triggers… familiarity?”

“Yes… there has to be,” Walter said. “Something that made her stop because, on some level, she recognized me as her husband.”

“And she let you feed her,” Tony finished, remembering who the real monster standing before him was.

“Yes,” Walter said with a fond smile. “For the first time, Helen needed me to take care of her. So I did. And in her own special way, she has loved me ever since.”

Tony looked at his feet. “You murder people and feed them to your dead wife. How is this love?”

Walter turned to him. “What wouldn’t you do for love, Tony?” He looked back at the zombie. “Just look at her! See how she resists the almost overwhelming desire to kill? What else could stop something like that, if not love?”

“You’re fucking sick,” Tony said. “That’s the madness inside of you talking.”

“Maybe,” Walter conceded. “But it’s what we have left… what we share in common.”

“The blood lust?”

“Love.”

“I promised I’d let you both leave,” Tony said. “But that doesn’t get you off the hook.”

“What does that mean?”

Tony looked to Helen. “Your fate’s in her hands now.”

Before Walter could inquire further, Tony reached into his back pocket and retrieved the city photograph of Helen and Brian. He unfolded it and held it up in front of Helen.

“What are you doing?” Walter asked with fear in his voice.

Tony ignored him. The yellow-eyed beast stared at the photo. “Remember, Helen,” Tony said. “Whatever part of you that can… remember everything that this monster in front of you did.”

Helen raised her eyes and met Tony’s sad expression.

For a moment, Tony swore he saw a hint of recognition and horror strike that pale, dead face.

Helen turned to Walter and screamed in his face.

“Now… wait, my love!” Walter started backing up. “I know what I did to you… but… we’re passed that now!”

Tony slowly backed away.

Before the bad man could speak another word, Helen pounced on top of him, knocking him to the ground. She immediately leaned in and tore the other side of his face off with her teeth.

The bad man began screaming as Tony turned away, unable to stomach the gruesome sight.

Diane and Nine ran out on to the porch.

“What the hell?” Nine said, stunned by the bloody mess that was once Walter Gorman.

Diane lowered her rifle with a smile. “That’s my girl,” she whispered.

Helen continued to feed on her former maniac husband, oblivious to everyone else, covered in Walter’s blood.

Tony cautiously walked over with his gun raised to the back of Helen’s head. “I promised I would let you leave,” he told her. “You’ve been a prisoner long enough.”

Helen turned and howled at Tony, all recognition absent from her savage glare as the blood lust consumed her.

Tony sighed and then fired one round into her forehead.

Helen fell still atop the unrecognizable pile that was her husband.

The big man lowered the gun as his shoulders sank. He felt a wave of deep sadness strike him as tears fell freely from his eyes. “Now… you’re free, Helen,” he whispered. “Now you’re finally free.”

Gina had watched everything play out from the living room window. Her face was an expressionless mask.

Diane and Nine came over.

“You okay, Tony?” Nine asked.

Tony smiled at them through tears. “We came all the way out here to free prisoners. That sonofabitch held Helen in captivity longer than the rest of us.” He looked at the dead woman, finally at rest. “Mission accomplished.”

~~~

They located the bad man’s van keys. Diane drove while Nine sat shotgun to help navigate. Tony sat beside Gina in the back of the van as they tried to make her as comfortable as possible. They’d managed to stop the bleeding in her leg but she had developed a fever, falling in and out of consciousness–her body working overtime to fight off an infection.

After finding a main road, they headed south, weaving around stranded vehicles. They were fortunate that the road remained clear enough for most of the drive toward the western border of the Wasteland. From there, they would have to hike in on foot.

Diane ran over a long deteriorated dead-head which felt like hitting a pothole to Tony. He yelled over his shoulder, “Take it easy up there!”

“All my fault, Tony,” Nine called back. “I forgot to tell this crazy hunter chick that we weren’t trying to hit the damn dead things on purpose. She may be able to shoot, but she drives like shit.”

Diane gave him the finger.

“Promises… promises…” Nine mumbled, which earned him a punch to the shoulder.

“Sorry, Tony,” Diane added. “I’ll drive around it next time.”

Tony looked back down at Gina.

Her eyes were wide open.

“How you feeling?” he asked.

“Better. Where are we?”

Tony scratched his messy hair. “Maybe half-way back to the western woods.”

She nodded.

Tony looked toward the back of the van, struggling to find something to say.

“Just spit it out,” she said. “What’s the problem?”

He frowned. “I’m glad you’re alright, Gina. But you bailed on us. What the hell were you thinking?”

Gina turned away. “You know what I was thinking.”

“I think you damn near got us both killed with your recklessness.”

She turned back. “It was my call and I made it. I chose to protect you and Diane… but I had no idea what I was getting into. I see that now. I fucked up.”

“Together, Gina. That was the deal. We fight together and that’s how we get to go home.”

She didn’t respond.

Tony wasn’t finished. “You put everyone at risk. You’re supposed to lead us, not fucking lie to us.”

Gina felt the sting. “You were playing right into that maniac’s hands,” she defended. “If I hadn’t made another play, he would’ve had you in the basement instead of me, demanding your life for Nine’s. I wasn’t going to allow that.”

Tony let the matter go before his anger level rose any higher.

“Speaking of plays,” she said, attempting to change the subject. “I saw how you handled things outside, how you turned Helen into a weapon against him. That was gutsy… and a little stupid… but it worked. I imagine that was very satisfying.”

Tony gave her a puzzled look. “‘Satisfying’?”

“You know… letting Helen get a little payback, too. After carrying around that horrible experience all this time, after what the both of you experienced, I bet that felt good. Seeing that asshole get what was coming… and from his own wife, not that’s perfect.”

“I didn’t do it for ‘payback’, Gina. I gave Helen a choice and helped her remember what that sick man did. Honestly, I didn’t know what she would do, or if she’d even remember… but she did. I think justice is a better word here.”

“Justice, revenge, whatever… I’m just glad she gave that asshole what he deserved.”

“And if she had chosen to let him go, even after I showed her the picture, what would you have thought then?”

It was Gina’s turn to look confused. “‘Let him go’? Seriously? That never would’ve happened. I would’ve shot them both down before I let them walk out of here. That’s why I’m glad it all worked out.”

Tony turned away again. Her words reminded him of the memory he’d had earlier. “I wonder what we deserve?”

“What was that?”

“Never mind.”

“We’ll need to destroy Megan now,” Gina said. “I don’t care what Meredith is trying to do… that thing cannot be allowed to exist.”

“Megan’s no threat to anyone. Meredith and Dr. Cooper are always careful.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Gina said. “Those silver-eyed half-deads can infect the living… they can bring back The Change all over again with just a single bite. We’d never considered this before because it’s never happened. Usually those sick fucks just eat the living, go crazy and die, or pretend they’re still human for a while. But now we know how dangerous they really are. Megan can’t be allowed-”

“What do you want to do?” Tony interrupted. “Do you want to escort her into the woods and just put her down like a dog?” His tone was harsher than intended.

“What are you getting at?” she bit back. “Sounds like you’re mad at me for something else now.”

He tried to calm down, but now he was hearing Walter’s words in his head:

What wouldn’t you do for love, Tony?

“Go on,” she pushed. “What are you so pissed about?”

He looked her dead in the eyes and said, “Tell me again what you told me that night after the first storm. Tell me what happened when you walked those two men out into the cold and then came back alone.”

Gina retreated immediately. Her shields went up. “Why are you bringing that up… now? We’ve already talked about it, and you know it still bothers me.”

“You let them go… right? They wanted to come back, but you made them keep going?”

She nodded, a terrifying look surfaced on her face.

“And that’s it?” Tony challenged.

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” she said. “We’ve got more than enough things to worry about-”

“Just tell me what you told me then. Is that so damn hard to do now?”

Gina was shocked and deeply hurt by his words. How long has he been holding on to this? she wondered. Gina took a deep breath and said, “Like I told you before, I watched them disappear into the snowstorm, watched them head west until I couldn’t stand the cold any longer. Then I turned around and came back. You know I feel bad about leaving them out there, but I couldn’t bring them back… not after what they did to that girl.”

Tony shook his head. “What they did was wrong, Gina. No one questions that. That poor girl got in the way trying to keep the peace, and then got stabbed. But those men were remorseful.”

“So now you question my decision to kick them out. Is that it? Why now? Why bring this up after all this time?”

Tony looked away.

Gina sighed. “What are you holding back, Tony?”

He closed his eyes and thought of those damning words again:

What wouldn’t you do for love, Tony?

“You’re right,” he finally said. “Now’s not the time. I’m sorry I brought it up. I’m just… really tired right now.”

She didn’t believe him but was more than eager to let the matter rest. “You will talk to me, later… right?”

He nodded with a smile. “Sure. I’m just glad you’re alright. It’s been a rough mission.”

Gina frowned and thought of the others who hadn’t made it. “Marcus has saved my life so many times…” She started to softly weep.

Tony lied down next to her and held her close.

“I’m tired of all this death, Tony. So fucking tired,” she said.

“I know. We all are.”

“I’m really starting to believe there’s nothing else,” she confessed. “And the only thing I’m getting really good at is accelerating the process…”

He chose to let her strange comment go as Gina fell back to sleep.

Tony’s thoughts drifted back to the night after the first winter storm…

~~~

THEN:

…His exhausted mind started to wander as Tony felt a sudden chill travel up his spine after considering how deep the snow was… and how anything could be hiding beneath it. He imagined a horde of the rotting dead buried beneath the ice, stirring, as Tony’s feet sunk deep enough for frozen limbs to reach up and grab him. He purposefully increased his speed.

Tony heard the sound of the river, muffled by layers of ice above it, as it continued to flow, not yet cold enough for winter to claim its vitality.

He was almost there.

Just before he cleared the last of the frozen forest on his side of the river, Tony abruptly stopped and gasped, feeling all the blood leave his face.

Sticking up out of the snow were two frozen distorted limbs, their black and blue hands permanently reaching out for him. For a second, he swore those hands were moving.

“Oh no,” he whispered. He walked toward the hand statues. When he was certain that whoever it was had not reanimated, Tony bent down and began digging up the snow around those hands.

When he revealed their frozen faces, Tony fell back and put his hands over his mouth.

Brannigan and Tyler’s faces were locked in horrific poses, their eyes wide open, their foreheads clearly revealing how they died. Tony couldn’t stop staring at the dark bullet wounds as he tried to deny what those heinous marks meant.

He forced himself to his feet and headed back toward the compound, his mind was already racing around a desperate plan which involved returning with a shovel, and the time required to relocate the bodies.

What wouldn’t you do for love, Tony?

~~~

Next Episode 35-1

Previous Episode 34-5

~~~

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

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 34-6: Secrets” Copyright © 2016 Scott Scherr. 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.

blog-hop-2016-zombie

~~~

I’m excited to announce that I will be participating for my second year in the October Frights Blog Hop, hosted by Clarissa Johal. It starts October 10th and finishes on the 15th. Please click the link above to find out more about this event.

This year I will be posting five creepy short stories (sorry, no zombies) to celebrate the Halloween season. You can read them starting on the 10th over at my DFTD Blogger site: http://dontfeedthedark.blogspot.com/

Here’s the line up:

ATM:
Find out what happens when a man making a late-night run to the cash machine gets an unexpected guest.

Boogeyman:
My spin on the classic closet monster tale.

Animals:
Sometimes the monsters within are much more terrifying than the imagined… especially when you’re trapped with them.

Previous Owner:
Ever fall asleep at the wheel for a few seconds and wake up wondering how you didn’t crash? This story looks at one possibility for those unaccounted seconds.

Moore’s Mountain:
Halloween and Christmas merge in this terrifying tale.

Bonus Story: Mr. Thompson’s Obsession:
Sometimes the latest horror is right next door…

I hope to see you all on October 10th. And don’t forget to visit all the other authors to find out what horrific offerings they have in store.

-Scott

~~~

After The Dark (#9) – Trauma

Posted: September 23, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, Interviews/Reviews, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, talk show, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, zombie books, Zombie Talk Show, Zombies
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After the Dark1 (2)

~~~

“Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of After The Dark. I’m your host, John Ecko, and this is the weekly DFTD after-show that will attempt to answer your burning questions while we shine a light into some of the darkest corners of this chilling apocalyptic serial to see what we can uncover.

Each week we will explore a diverse range of topics as we sit down with our featured special guests who have come right out of the pages of this dark serial novel to enlighten us and hopefully give us some additional insights into their characters, as well as what we can expect in the days ahead.

***SPOILER ALERT***

At this time, I must advise you, avid readers, that from here on in, there will be major spoilers discussed. So in the event that you haven’t read up to Chapter 32-3, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.

Now let me introduce are next special guest, he’s another original from the series, and still alive… which is a good thing… please put your hands together for Stephen Eddington!”

(Stephen sheepishly crosses the studio stage and waves to the audience. They stand and give him a big round of applause. Stephen makes it to his seat and sits beside our host.)

“Welcome to the show, Stephen,” John begins. “It’s great to get another living cast member here with us. So many have fallen along the way.”

Stephen fidgets nervously and says, “Wow, this is something else. I’m not much for crowds but it’s great to be made to feel welcome.”

“Nothing but the best for our survivors here on After The Dark. We didn’t get a chance last week to discuss the beginning of the second chapter so let me get right to it.”

“Alright.”

“You covered quite a lot of ground in your historical narrative. It seems you all did alright for yourselves taking over the compound. Lot’s of supplies and ‘creature comforts’, as you described. So with what amounts to a survivalist’s ‘wet dream’ as far as a refuge to hold out through the winter and avoid the dead, what the hell went wrong?”

Stephen laughs, adjusts his glasses on his face, and says, “I think we all underestimated the effects of the trauma introduced into our lives when The Change wiped out everything and everyone we knew. None of us, up until relocating into that place, has had any length of time to process all these horrors. We’ve been too busy running. But moving below the wilderness preserve allowed that tidal wave of emotions to finally hit us dead on. And we were certainly not prepared for the outcome.”

“So, essentially, constantly running from the dead and moving from place to place made it easier to avoid the trauma. Is that your assessment?”

“Absolutely. When you’re sleeping with one eye open all the time, and jumping at every sound around you, you’re not thinking about everything you’ve lost. You’re only thinking about how close you are to becoming a ghost yourself. Out in the wild, You’re living moment to moment; the person next to you could be ripped apart right in front of you, and you still have no time to grieve or register the shock of witnessing such brutality. Now imagine getting used to living that way, becoming hardened by it, and then you reach a place of so-called safety where all that suddenly goes away. It’s not an easy adjustment, as we’ve discovered. Then multiply all that violence, all that savagery, by however many people are forced to suddenly live together, and you have one hell of a problem on your hands by the time everyone now has to collectively deal with all that shit finally catching up to them.”

“You make some excellent points, Stephen. It almost sounds preferable to stay out in the wild rather then deal with all that built up trauma.”

“If you said that to Gina, and folks like her, they would quickly agree with you.”

“I imagine so.” John shifts in his seat. “Of all our characters so far, you seem to be handling all that emotional baggage reasonably well. Do you think that has a lot to do with the fact that you, more than most, seemed to be dealing with your issues along the way? Of the original ten, you were constantly struggling with the guilt caused by your actions, or inaction, did that build a sort of tolerance to it by the time everyone else had to catch up and face it, too?”

Stephen raises his eyebrows.  “You bring up some great questions.  In part, I think you’re correct.  Because of all my baggage and all my suffering with it leading up to now, I think I might be better suited to handle this internal storm better than most.”

John nods. “Well, it sure seems like you have a handle on things. Probably doesn’t hurt that you have a bit of ‘help’ as well. Which leads me to the elephant in the room. Stephen, what the hell is going on with you and Nicole? I think many of us have been wondering… is he hallucinating? Is he talking to a ghost? After that last episode, I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

Stephen laughs. “Well, I can only tell you that my character has moved on to a place where he doesn’t question Nicole anymore. He simply accepts whatever she is, and because he does so, this allows Nicole to have a bit more freedom in his life.”

“You mean, like, ‘Invasion of the Fucking Body Snatchers’ type of freedom that we discovered last episode? Are you even aware that she’s taking your body out for midnight strolls when you’re sleeping?”

“No, I most certainly am not. But I think the real question might be, ‘Is it her, or is it really me pretending to still be her?'”

John shakes his head. “I can’t wrap my mind around this relationship that you two share. If it is really you, and Nicole is simply a personification of your insanity, than I have to say, Stephen, that you have some serious issues to still work out.”

Stephen laughs and says, “Of course, you can’t work out issues you’re unaware of, right?”

“Shit, like I said, I can’t wrap my mind around this,” John says. “So did you… excuse me… did Nicole talk that poor woman into killing herself?”

“It would appear so,” Stephen says.

“That’s fucked up, Stephen. There was mentioning of other suicides, seven total I believe. Did Nicole have anything to do with those as well?”

Stephen shakes his head and says, “Well… John… I don’t really know. I suppose it’s very possible.”

“Okay… so let’s recap this: While you’re awake, you see visions of Nicole. But when you’re sleeping, she’s moving around inside your body… and having visions of ‘you’. What the hell is that all about?”

“I would say that our relationship is a lot more complex than any of us realized. And that’s all I can really say.”

“Fair enough,” John finishes. “So let me go back to Chapter 25, when you burned Nicole’s diary, and I’ll add that it’s pretty creepy that she’s started a new one that you’re unaware of. What happened after that when Nicole appeared? It seems like that was a real pivotal point for you when things started to change.”

Stephen leans back, considers the question, and says, “I believe Nicole represents a lot of things for me, whether I’ve concocted her or she’s something else entirely, it doesn’t matter. What I’m certain of is that, in part, she was my guilt personified. What I believe is that in order to move on with our relationship, I had to accept her… all of her… which meant the good that she described us as in her journal, the parts I was inspired by, as well as the bad… the fact that I cheated on my wife with a minor and than killed her. Until I was ready to accept all of it… all of her… I would never be able to move out from under that oppressive dark cloud. She helped me get there. And that was what that moment at Amanda’s grave was all about. I think I was finally ready to move past it all and take our relationship to the next level.”

John laughs. “Stephen, my man, you have the strangest damn relationship… you know that, right?”

“I’ve seen the dead come back to life and try to eat me,” Stephen says. “What’s so strange about our relationship after that?”

(The audience laughs.)

“You got me there,” John concedes. “Well, we’re almost out of time. I wanted to ask you more about events that happened in that laundry room, but I’m guessing there’s not much more you can say, is there?”

“Correct.”

“I figured as much. Well, it’s great to see your character coming out from under that dark place of guilt. I have to confess, I never thought you’d make it into the final four from the original ten who left the power plant. But here you are.”

“Like you said, I had help. Not only from Nicole, but from the others in the group. I think we all leaned heavily on one another to get this far.”

“Man, there’s so much in these first three episodes that I just want to dig my teeth into,” John says. “Let me touch on your scene with Logan. There was a moment there where it seemed like he was aware of Nicole on some level. Can you elaborate on that?”

Stephen shifts uncomfortably. “Well, I seemed to think so. But Logan could have been addressing something else entirely. It’s far too early to say. But I think that scene if very revealing in where my character is now. Back when I was first struggling with Nicole’s visitations, I would have loved it if someone else had seen her… you know… to validate that I wasn’t crazy. But now, that’s the last thing I want, as you all saw in how protective I became with Logan, and how I ripped that page out of the book after I wrote about her. So I am in a whole new place with all of it.”

“That’s interesting. Last question before you go: Since Marcus is the only one who knows the truth about what happened between yourself and Nicole, and considering how protective you are about her now, does that pose a problem between you two?”

Stephen shakes his head. “Well, obviously none of us know who Marcus truly is, but because he’s no stranger to secrets… or to murder… I imagine that man might be pretty bored with it by now.”

(The audience laughs.)

“However,” Stephen continues, “Marcus is very intelligent. I wouldn’t put it past him to exploit what he knows if it would work to his advantage.”

“Indeed,” John agrees. “Stephen, is there anything else you can tell us looking ahead? What’s in store for our group’s historian in the future?”

“I think by the end of this chapter you might get a sense of that,” Stephen says. “What we’re going to discover in this arc, as far as my character is concerned, is that I finally have a chance to find my role, my place in this new world… whatever that means. And that’s all I can tell you at this time.”

“Alright then. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, Stephen, and thanks for appearing on the show.” He turns to the audience. “How about a big hand for our special guest.”

(the audience stands up and applauds.)

Stephen waves back and says, “Thanks for having me.”

John concludes, “And that’s a wrap for today. If anyone out there wants to ask Stephen anything about his character, the story itself, or about anything else we’ve covered today, please feel free to ask away, and we will try to answer what we can. If not, then I’ll see you next week for another exciting episode of After The Dark!”

~~~

Next Episode:
After The Dark (#10) – Confessions

~~~

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Thank you,
-Scott