Archive for the ‘Zombie Talk Show’ Category

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

~~~

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~~~

Just checking in with the latest news.

I’ve been busy working on the premiere chapter to the fifth book in this epic series. I now have a title for the book: Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Five: Remains. When I looked up the definition for this word on my phone and read: Remains – the parts left over after other parts have been removed, used, or destroyed I knew immediately that this was going to be a strong primary theme for the next arc of this series.

The first chapter will tentatively be titled: Obituaries. Considering where we left off at the end of Book Four, that doesn’t sound very hopeful… lol. This has been a challenging premiere chapter to write in that this is the first time I’ve written a premiere that will also feel like a finale… and that’s all I can say about it.

Here’s a tidbit about Book Five that I can mention. For all you Northeast Ohio readers out there getting a kick out of the various local settings that I’ve been writing in, Geauga Lake will be one of the locations featured in Book Five. That chapter’s going to be a blast to get into. For those unfamiliar, Geauga Lake was a popular amusement park that was closed down back in 2007, but its remains are still there today… looking very much like the perfect post-apocalyptic setting.

As far as what lies ahead, I am now seeing the eventual finish line of this long, long tale and can tell you that Don’t Feed The Dark will conclude with Book Eight. So I guess you can say we’re a little past the half-way mark. I am already neck-deep into three separate plot lines that will span the next two book in this series, setting up, in part, the last two books. It’s going to be a wild ride to the end. Here are the title teasers for the next three books:

Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Five: Remains
Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Six: Mother
Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Seven: The Prophet

I, of course, will not spoil anything, but there’s a lot going on and I’ve been waiting a very long time to tell various stories found in the next three novels. It’s exciting!

On to other news: The editing of Book Four: Phantoms has been postponed while I’m writing new material, but I’ll try to get it in print as soon as possible. Also, later this month, I’ll have the second part of the two-part interview with Russell Bower for the next After The Dark episode.

As mentioned last month, I’ve started a separate tab at the top of the page for other various dark stories, poems, etc., that I’ve been posting over the month of June. Just click on the “Other Short Works” tab to read any of it. I’ve included all three DFTD spin-off stories there as well.

That’s it for now. I’ll post more updates as we get closer to the premiere.

-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 (#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
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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 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

~~~

Don’t Feed The Dark Updates: 12/5/16

Posted: December 5, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Giveaways, Horror, horror fiction, 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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the living

~~~

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to check in a final time before the holidays to let you knew what’s brewing behind the scenes while we wait for Don’t Feed The Dark, Book Four: Phantoms to resume on Monday, January 2nd.

Sometime later this week, a new episode of After The Dark (The DFTD talk show) will be posted. Our host, John Ecko, will sit down with Gina, Tony, Diane and Nine to discuss where we are so far and perhaps get some further insights into this new story arc. Be sure to stop by with any burning questions you may have for any of our special guests and we will try to field them on the show, if possible.

Later this month, time permitting, I’m hoping to have my third spin-off story available, titled, Hangar Six. This short story will take us all the way back to Chapter 14 and give us some additional insights into the strange happenings surrounding Fairport Harbor Marina. This story will also tie in to the upcoming chapter due out in January.

As mentioned, Chapter 35: Deal Dolls (Part One), will start us off in January. It will be a Meredith centered chapter which will show us what she’s been up to in the present as well as delve into her mysterious past and hopefully shed some light on her connections to the notorious group known only as Mother.

Chapter 36: Uprising , will take us back beneath the Wasteland compound and will tell the story of what happens after a dissatisfied faction of survivors decide to take over leadership… and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Chapter 37: Through the Eyes of a Devil, will be the long awaited chapter that so many of you have been waiting for. That’s right, it will all be centered around our resident serial killer, Russell Bower… and yes, he survived the fall off the cliff. This chapter is already written and not only is it the longest chapter to date, I think it’s going to blow you away (how’s that for a teaser?).

Lastly, Chapter 38: Healing, will be the last chapter for this latest book and it will take place about three weeks after Chapter 36. And that’s all I can tell you about it without spoiling anything.

Just to add, I’ve already begun plotting for Book Five… and it’s going to be crazy as hell.

That’s all I have for now. I look forward to catching up with all of you again after the break. Hope you all have a great Christmas and an awesome New Year.

-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… )

If you’ve been enjoying Don’t Feed The Dark, please help support the cause by liking it on facebook, following along on twitter, voting for it on topwebfiction (just click on the cat in the corner), writing reviews for it on Amazon or anywhere else it’s listed, or just by spreading the word via social media. Every little bit helps in getting this long dark tale known.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope to hear from you in the comments and that I might find some of you with me when this story eventually comes to an end.

-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

Don’t Feed The Dark Updates: 7/5/17 

~~~

Don’t Feed The Dark Updates: 9/29/16

Posted: September 28, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Horror, horror fiction, 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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the dead

~~~

Hello Everyone,

I hope you have been enjoying the new story arc so far. Now that the first two chapters are complete, I thought this would be a good time to make a few adjustments to the schedule.

Effective immediately, my DFTD talk show, After The Dark, will be going on hiatus for a little while so I can focus on finishing Book Four. Will go ahead and call it a 9 episode first season. But not to worry, ATD will be returning at a later date.

Also, as of Monday, October 3rd, I will be posting new episodes of Don’t Feed The Dark on Mondays and Thursdays.

As far as what’s ahead, here’s what the remainder of the year looks like:

Chapter 33: Detour, will be starting on Monday, October 3rd and will run for eight episodes, finishing out the month of October.

Chapter 34: Secrets, will begin on Halloween and run for another six episodes followed by a week off for Thanksgiving Break.

Chapter 35: Dead Dolls, will start on Monday, November 28th and will run until completed, shortly before Christmas, and will close out the year.

Chapter 36: Uprising, will start in January followed by Chapter 37: Through the Eyes of a Devil (and that’s going to be a long, long chapter). And then finally, Chapter 38: Healing , will complete Book Four sometime, I’m guessing, in early April of 2017.

As far as chapter specifics, Chapter 33: Detour, will begin on Monday and pick up where we left off with Gina and company as they continue their pursuit of the bad man while continuing to discover terrifying new changes in the world around them.

And that’s about all I can tell you about the plot for now.

~~~

For my old readers who are just returning, I know it’s been a while since you completed Book Three. I’ve posted a refresher course, highlighting some of the main points leading up to the premiere of Book Four: The Living and the Dead (A Look Back at Where We’ve Been)

And here’s a direct link to the beginning of the new arc: Chapter 31-1: Marvin’s Day

For new readers, feel free to start at the beginning: Chapter 1-1: Demon Night

And for those of you not yet familiar with my DFTD talk show, After The Dark, you can find out more about it here: After The Dark

Also, I’ve created a new facebook group called Spider’s Web Fiction dedicated to serial novel writers and their readers. You can find out more about it here: Spider’s Web Fiction

And finally, please continue to support the cause by spreading the word about Don’t Feed The Dark through your social media pages and by voting weekly for it on topwebfiction.

More to come,
-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

~~~

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 (#8) – Evil Gina

Posted: September 14, 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 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 32-1: Wasteland, I strongly suggest that you don’t continue on with us until after you’ve caught up. Consider yourself warned.

So, we’ve finished the first chapter of Phantoms and got our first peek into the next chapter, titled, Wasteland. What do you think… is this some crazy shit so far or what?”

(The audience applauds enthusiastically.)

“Well let’s get right to it. I’m excited to introduce out next guest. For the longest time we thought this man found his way into Malcolm Hathaway’s barbecue after smoking some bad weed back in Chapter Two.”

(The audience laughs.)

“I think we were all delighted to discover that he survived the sex party on the beach. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Tony Marcuchi!”

(Tony enters smiling and rolling his fists at the crowd. The audience stands and gives him a loud ovation as Tony takes a seat beside our host.)

“Tony,” John begins. “It’s awesome to have you on the show and I’m glad one of the genuine good guys actually survived past Book Three.”

“I know… I know. Believe me, I thought I was going down in that crazy camp with Charlie’s zombies once I saw Gina chained to that tree. You know, some kind of heroic rescue followed by a traumatic end right after being reunited with the one I loved.”

“Well, I for one am glad the author didn’t let that happen. We’ve already lost enough characters who were trying to do the right thing that I was starting to wonder if you had to become a mega dick or something to survive the apocalypse.”

(The audience laughs.)

“So what the hell is happening, Tony?” John asks, leaning forward. “After this first new chapter along with Stephen’s account of the last several months, opening up the next chapter, I’m staring to get the impression that morale is at an all-time low.”

Tony laughs. “Yeah… that’s an understatement. As you can tell, none of us are happy campers at the moment. The last few months have been rough on all of us.”

John shakes his head. “With the exception of the serial killer and the dude with the imaginary dead girlfriend, everyone else seems to be having some serious anger management issues or something.”

(The audience laughs.)

John continues. “Why do you suppose life has been so difficult since you all moved beneath the Wasteland?”

Tony sighs and says, “I think there’s a number of reasons why life has been hard for us, although you’d think we’d all just stop fucking whining and just be thankful we’re all still alive… right?”

(The audience applauds.)

“Seriously, though,” Tony continues, “I think none of us were prepared for the lull in the fight when we went into hiding. As it turns out, standing still for too long during the apocalypse is deadly. With nothing to do but overthink everything, it’s a wonder that any of us are still functional after having to stare so long at all our ’emotional baggage’. This is the first time for a lot of us, myself included, that we had to serious accept the possibility that law and order were not going to be restored and that our old lives were never coming back.”

“Yeah, that had to suck,” John says. “If all you knew was gone, what’s left but the uncertain future, especially from the vantage point of the compound where everything seems so dark and bleak.”

Tony shakes his head. “As you all read from Stephen’s narrative on Wednesday, we discovered a new enemy: each other. I think the strain of dealing with everyone’s conflicts, grief, and hopelessness created a challenge that none of us we’re prepared for.”

“That certainly seems to be the case so far, Tony. So lets shift gears a moment. What the hell is wrong with your damn girlfriend? Is she applying for a new villain role we’re not aware of, or is this just a case of apocalyptic PMS?”

(The audience laughs.)

Tony covers his face with his hands and says, “You would wait to say that until after she left.”

“Absolutely! I’m not going to put myself on Gina’s shit-list right now. She might go all evil on my ass, lock me in my car, and then set it on fire!”

(The audience and Tony roar with laughter.)

Tony points at him between bursts of laughter and says, “You are a naughty host! Behave yourself!”

(The audience laughs.)

“Okay… sorry… but I’m calling her ‘Evil Gina’ for the duration of this show. I think she’s earned it.”

“Fair enough,” Tony says with a laugh and throws his hands up in surrender.

“All joking aside, Tony,” John continues, “is what’s happening with Evil Gina a direct result of the last few months, or would you say that it’s accumulative, going all the way back to the beginning?”

Tony shakes his head sadly. “Hell yes it’s accumulative. Look, that woman is tough as nails, but she’s been through one shit storm after another since the start of this thing. When you consider that our first introduction to Gina, and her first introduction to the apocalypse, was right after she got brutally raped, which I will add that she still hasn’t told me about, and then everything that’s happened since… shit… I don’t know if anyone but Gina could’ve made it through all that. But I believe she found strength in her new apocalyptic family. When she had to start dealing with those deaths on top of everything else, Gina had two choices: Either forge her pain into anger or simply cave. She chose anger and it’s really starting to bite her in the ass now.”

John nods. “So tell me honestly, Tony. Is Evil Gina becoming a serious problem and is the Wasteland community, as Stephen states it, right about her? Is she dangerous?”

Tony’s face turns to stone. “Well, we’re just going to have to wait and see.”

“Fair enough. Let’s move on. So now we get our first glimpse of the yellow-eyed zombies after months have passed. Are these monsters starting to evolve? Are they getting smarter?”

“They’re definitely becoming something we did not expect,” Tony says. “How that factors in with everything else is a frightening aspect we will have to consider since we’ve been waiting all winter to escape the compound that has slowly been killing us from the inside out.”

“So Helen is out among the dead surrounding the house, the prisoners you came to save have all turned postal, and the bad man is nowhere to be found. On top of all this, Gina is out of control and you’ve already lost one member of the team. I can only imagine the mind-fuck this is amounting to for you. Does all of this factor in as to why you decide to show Marvin a bit of mercy near the end of the chapter?”

Tony sighs heavily. “Before arriving back at this nightmare place, I’ve had my own difficulties adjusting to the long winter stuck beneath the ground. I think it’s obvious that my positive attitude took a heavy hit with everything else that had already happened. For me, coming back here was a chance to essentially ‘undo’ some of the bad shit that happened to me personally, since there’s been so much that I’ve had no control over. I’m not used to reacting to situations and people. I’ve always been more proactive, but this winter has forced me to come to terms with a lot of things that are beyond my control. From the difficulties I’ve had with Gina, to the factions that have formed within our community, to the overall state of the world not improving but actually getting worse, and then the suicides… I think I’ve been suppressing a lot of shit. Finally getting here and believing that I might get to do some good and actually save some people this time around, since I couldn’t do that before… hell, nothing turned out the way I’d hoped. Just like things got bad for us back home, things got even worse out here, and we’re just finding out about it. Showing Marvin a little compassion was like saying, ‘Sorry I wasn’t here to show you how to fight back’. Although it wasn’t my fault what happened, I think I feel guilty. You know, like I was the damn lucky one that got away and I should’ve come back here much sooner to stop all of this somehow.”

John nods. “Understandable. Do you think there’s a part of you that wonders if you hadn’t escaped, would you have eventually caved and become like Marvin?”

“That’s where the anger comes from. I look at that guy and see a mirror of what I could’ve become if Lydia hadn’t helped me escape. I deny it, of course, but who knows? I don’t know what Marvin was like at the beginning of his captivity. He could’ve started off strong and resisted, but then watching all those people around him paying the price for their own defiance, day after day, might have finally caught up to him. I was a prisoner here for a little more than a week. Marvin has been here for months. I’m left to wonder what I might have become if the bad man kept me alive all this time. I would like to think that he would’ve killed me long before becoming… docile, like Marvin.”

“So back to ‘Evil Gina’.”

“Oh boy,” Tony laughs.

(The audience laughs.)

“So it’s not good enough that she’s the cause for Marvin bleeding out and the dead outside are surely gonna finish off the job she started. Then, she sets the house on fire and locks the basement door! What’s that all about?”

Tony shakes his head. “As I’ve already mentioned, Gina’s anger is what’s driving her right now. Truth be told, I don’t believe Gina cared as much about coming back here and rescuing people as much as she did about getting a little bit of payback for what the bad man did to me. In her eyes, Marvin, the woman on the porch, the others… doesn’t matter who they were. To Gina, they’re all part of the pain she’s watched me suffer through. I think if she’d showed up alone, Gina would’ve killed everyone in the house immediately, no questions asked. Locking that basement door was her way of insuring that Marvin had absolutely no chance of surviving his blood loss or the pending arrival of the yellow-eyed monsters outside. She wanted Marvin, and everything he stood for, destroyed.”

John shakes his head. “Man, you have got to have a serious sit-down conversation with that girl. If her idea of expressing her love for you is to kill anyone that looks at you funny… I can only imagine what she’d do if you all ever ran into one of your ex-girlfriends.”

(The audience laughs.)

“Believe me, we have talked. In fact, it’s becoming a full-time job covering her ass every time she makes the wrong call. That’s part of the reason she’s so unpopular with our community.”

“So why does she keep doing it? Why does Gina continue to lead this group when she clearly doesn’t want the job? That was apparent when Samantha took over way back in Chapter 25, and also when everyone looked to her again at the end of Book Three.”

Tony nods. “I think leadership’s a double-edged sword for Gina. When she believed the Shadow Dead were coming back and that they still had a battle to prepare for, Gina could thrive in that environment. She knew what needed done and believed she was the most capable of getting us all ready. Her anger was focused… needed. But when her war never happened, and the winter came instead, Gina was not prepared to deal with the subtleties of leadership, or the wide array of emotional turmoil that came with all that ‘down time’ we suddenly had to deal with. In order for her to ‘lead’ in that atmosphere, Gina would have to look at her own emotional issues. This is something she’s not able to handle right now.”

“So she volunteers herself for every dangerous mission just to get away from the real problems waiting for her.”

“Exactly,” Tony says. “Gina needs the fight more than it needs her. She wants to attack this horrible new world head on and inflict her wrath upon it for all she’s had to endure. She doesn’t want to look back, mourn for the dead, or reconcile her damaged relationships, like what she suffers through with Meredith’s betrayal. She’s at a place, unfortunately, where the only time she truly feels alive is when she’s pushing back, violently, against this world. It’s been my job to help her understand that there’s other ways to push back, other ways to live without the violence… but we’re having some real communication problems at the moment.”

“Has it occurred to you, Tony, that her pain, or her inability to face it in a non-violent way, may be bringing you down, as well?”

Tony smiles and leans back in his chair. “All the time, John. All the time.”

“Well, I hope you two can work this out and get passed this difficult place in your relationship, and I know we all hope Gina will surface from the darkness. Right folks?”

(The audience stands and applauds, offering their encouragement.)

“Well, thank you everyone, it means a lot. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

“We’re all rooting for you two, Tony. So on a lighter note, is there anything you can tell us about what’s coming next? I know we’ll be getting more into Chapter 2 next week and discussing what’s been happening on the home front with our next guest, but what about the bad man? We know Gina’s destroyed his radio, but will that be enough? What’s to stop him from just finding another hell house and another radio?”

Tony shakes his head. “All I can say is that we still have our hands full at the moment trying to get away from this new horde of zombies. As you read at the end of Chapter One, Helen was aware of our departure.”

“Well, I hope you all make it back safely.” John turns to the audience. “Let’s give our guest a big hand for joining us today.”

(The audience applauds as Tony waves at them.)

“It’s good to have you here, Tony,” John finishes. “I’m so glad we’ll be reading more about your character in the days to come… hopefully.”

“Hopefully,” Tony teases.

John turns to the audience. “And that’s a wrap for this week. As always, if anyone would like to ask Tony questions about his character, or the story in general, please feel free to do so and we will endeavor to answer what we can. If not, then I’ll see you all next week for another informative episode of After The Dark!”

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Next Episode:
After The Dark (#9)- Trauma

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Thank you,
-Scott

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