Returning Readers (Refresher)


the living

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***SPOILER ALERT*** If this if your first time reading Don’t Feed The Dark then I strongly encourage you to skip this article. Major events in the storyline will be discussed.

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So here’s your refresher course, and my attempt to summarize some of the main points in the first five books. I know it’s been a while. I hope this helps trigger some memories from previous reading. I’ve divided this synopsis up by each book, so you can read up to whatever book in the series you finished off at without fear of reading spoilers for the books that follow it. Just be sure to stop reading this summary at the point you stopped… or else you risk having unread material spoiled for you.

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Book One: Southbound Nightmares Our story began early Saturday Morning, October 2nd, 2010, with a catastrophic event known as The Change, sometimes referred to as The Madness. This unknown outbreak struck the population, randomly turning people into flesh-craving monsters with fierce yellow eyes. As adequately described in Chapter 8, “It was estimated that one out of every five people simply lost their minds and turned on the living.” Along with this, were other abominations which returned to hunt the flesh of Mankind.

Book One detailed the horrific story of several characters in different locations throughout Northeast Ohio as they attempted to survive that first long night. We were thrown into several different stories happening at that same time as The Change was occurring. Some of the cast we’ve met: Russell Bower- a serial killer; Gina Melborn- a stripper; Stephen Eddington- a history teacher; Charlie Ottermeyer- a professional asshole; Amanda Howard- an alcoholic; Frank Carman- a convict.

Eventually all their stories merged at one of the last known places of refuge, the Percy Power Plant. From there we were introduced to the remainder of our group: Meredith Montgomery- a medium; Doug McFarlane- a baseball player; Greg Dermont- a handyman; Ashley Dermont- Greg’s teenage daughter; Marcus Dempsey- an apocalyptic philosopher.

After an all-out attack on the power plant, these original ten survivors barely escaped the massacre and decided to head for the coast to find a boat, via, a southbound route along an abandoned railway into nowhere. They were met with opposition from their new hostile world, as well as from each other, and they eventually made it to the marina in Fairport Harbor. From there, everything quickly fell apart as our survivors were overwhelmed by a horde of the reanimated dead, while discovering a strange three-pronged symbol, representing a mysterious group believed to be responsible for the attack.

The boat plan failed miserably and our survivors were split up. Douglas was torn to pieces at the marina, and they also lose Greg’s daughter, Ashley, who was bitten trying to get away.

Among some of the stranger events that occur in this book: Meredith has a connection with the dead that allows her to sense when they’re near. Charlie discovers he has an ability to control the dead with his voice, and Stephen is visited by Nicole Howard, the dead daughter of Amanda Howard. It is unclear whether he is seeing a ghost… or if he’s losing his mind.

The surviving eight eventually reunited, under Gina’s leadership, and decided to head east/northeast along the Grand River towards a mysterious radio broadcast promising sanctuary, while ultimately aiming for the mountains and a possible refuge in Pennsylvania.

(STOP HERE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK TWO)

Book Two: Almost Dead In the first book, Gina and her group were hiding out in a boathouse prior to being attacked at the marina, and they heard a CB radio broadcast. Book Two started on the other end of that broadcast where we discovered that Tony Marcuchi, Gina’s friend and bouncer at the strip club from back in Chapter Two, had not perished in a bonfire but was taken prisoner by a deranged, infected half-dead individual known only as the ‘Bad Man’. Tony eventually escaped and was determined to make it back to Gina. Along the way he met a survivor at a truck stop and tried to help her. He ended up fleeing for his life and getting lost in a strange wilderness preserve where we are first introduced to the mysterious and deadly Shadow Dead. Afterwards, he is captured by a former police officer, Samantha Petroskovich, the same cop Frank threw off a rooftop in Book One, and he is introduced to a futuristic looking camp run by a madman named Micom, and an insane machine called Micolad, which is considered the ‘god’ of the camp.

Meanwhile, Gina’s survivors fight their way through a horde of the dark-eyed reanimated in the city of Painesville; a cult of half-dead grey-eyed monsters in the quaint village of Harpersfield; and then deal with the treachery of one of their own near the town of Austinburg as Charlie, who possesses a power to control the dead, has taken Amanda hostage, revealing to the others how very dangerous he truly is.

They ended up leaving Charlie behind and headed southeast toward the town of Jefferson where they met a small community, run by a man named Rusty. During their stay with Rusty’s people, Gina considered joining them shortly before finding out that a large group of the yellow-eyed demons had been tracking them since the power plant. While they fended off the attack, Amanda perished saving Stephen’s life for the sake of her dead daughter, Marie (Nicole). After the battle, and suffering loses, Rusty kicked Gina’s group out when his group discovered what Meredith did to save them and believed she was a witch.

Gina’s group licked their wounds and headed farther south to the town of Andover where Greg is shot down dead by a rooftop sniper from another group of survivors. Gina vowed vengeance as she prepared to go after this unknown group, planning to kill them all.

(STOP HERE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK THREE)

Book Three: Recruits At the start of this story arc, we go back to the afternoon, prior to the outbreak, where we met a survivalist group in training who appear to have foreknowledge of the pending epidemic. They are also affiliated with the strange three-pronged symbol, which we then learn means, Mother. After the outbreak, they are led by a mysterious man named, Donovan, to a pre-designated ‘safe house’ where they are told to wait for further instructions. After a few startling revelations, we followed this group’s journey to the point where we found out that they are the snipers on the rooftop who murdered Greg.

Gina led an attack on this group, killing most of them and taking Megan, a pregnant girl, hostage. They eventually let Megan go and then have to deal with another larger group moving into town. They are intercepted by the larger group, who is run by the former police officer, Samantha, and that’s when Tony and Gina are reunited. Frank is placed in jail for the attempted murder of the police officer. Gina eventually decides to go rescue the pregnant girl, Megan, after finding out that she is going to the place in the wilderness preserve run by the psychotic machine, Micolad. She is accompanied by Frank and they both allowed themselves to be captured in the hope of infiltrating the wilderness preserve facility and end up being tortured instead.

After Tony makes a stand to defend the town of Andover from a presumed Shadow Dead attack, they end up going after Gina. Charlie returned with an army of the reanimated. All hell broke loose at the wilderness preserve, ending with an explosion, as Micolad self-detonated, destroying much of the forest. The survivors reunited in an underground facility, behind a waterfall, and decided to make it their new home for the winter. Our serial killer, Russell Bower, is finally revealed as Marcus Dempsey when he murders Frank by a river.

(STOP HERE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK FOUR)

Book Four: Phantoms Book Four begins almost six months later, at the end of a long winter. We are brought back to the ‘Bad Man’s’ ranch, where Tony was once held prisoner, and discover a strange man named Marvin living in the Bad Man’s house. Gina has put together a small attack group, which includes: Tony, Diane Conley- the surviving hunter at the end of Book Three, a strange young man named, Nine Lives, who is obsessed with numbers, and Marcus Dempsey (a.k.a. Russell Bower). Together they intend to seize the Bad Man and free any prisoners he might still be holding. Shit goes south very quickly. The yellow-eyed dead show up and they have changed significantly. After escaping the ranch house, Gina and her group are pursued by both the dead, led by the Bad Man’s wife, Helen, and the Bad Man, himself. Marcus ends up falling off a quarry cliff while trying to lead a pack of the red-eyed animal beasts away from his group. The Bad Man, who we learn is named Walter, captures Gina and wants Tony to turn himself over to him. Things end with the death of the Bad Man at the hands of his wife. Gina and her group head home to the compound beneath the wilderness preserve.

Back at the compound in the partially scorched wilderness preserve, called The Wasteland, Stephen is left in charge. He has become the self-appointed historian of their community as he gives a written account of the past few months. Stephen is also in a relationship with Nicole Howard, the dead daughter of Amanda Howard (Don’t ask me to explain that…lol). Gina is under suspicion for the murder of two community members. The community has split with a third of the people leaving with James Orosco. An uprising occurs shortly before Gina’s return, which result in Gina’s arrest. Stephen is eventually voted in as the new community leader. We are also introduced to a strange preacher, named Logan McCalister, who has a shady gang-related past.

Meanwhile, Meredith and Doctor Arnold Cooper- the same doctor Meredith meets in Andover, are attempting to treat the half-dead Megan. The first of two major flashback stories begin with a long look into Meredith’s past, and her connection with the mysterious group known only as Mother.

We discover that Marcus has survived the fall off the cliff and has been treated by a strange young woman, named Alysa Monroe, who has actually been slowly drugging Marcus and interrogating him without his knowledge. After three weeks of being tricked by this strange woman, Marcus has an opportunity to kill Alysa, but decides to flee instead. We discover that Alysa is actually a Shadow Dead.

Near the end of Book Four, Gina is exiled. Marcus returns and goes out to find her. The Shadow Dead have returned in full force in what looks like the beginning of an all-out attack on the survivors… and that’s where we find ourselves at the very end of Book Four.

(STOP HERE IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOK FIVE)

Book Five: Remains Book Five picks up where we left off at the end of Book Four with the pending Shadow Dead attack. The Wasteland compound is viciously attacked as archers assault Tony’s defenses topside while infiltrating the compound through secret entrances. While Tony, Nine and Diane hold off the attack above, Stephen and Logan are dealing with the invading force from within. The power goes out as chaos and a whole lot of death begins. Most of the compound community is slaughtered. Stephen, Logan, Meredith and Megan manage to escape via the mysterious door, only to discover another stairwell descending into the unknown dark.

Topside, Tony, Diane and Nine fight for their lives and discover four teens who had been hiding in Cubicle City when the Shadow Dead came up through the floor. Matthew, Mark, Wendy and Beverly had used the Shadow Dead passage to make it back outside and meet up with the others. Tony and Nine are surrounded by Shadow Dead, who begin tormenting them, until the mysterious Alysa Monroe, former Shadow Dead, rescues them. This is the same Alysa who held Marcus captive in the cabin in Book Four.

After escaping the Wasteland wilderness, and believing everyone else has perished, Tony leads his new group south toward Orosco’s camp, hoping to reunite what’s left of the community. They eventually reach Orosco’s peninsula camp only to discover that most of Orosco’s group has been either slaughtered or captured by some new group with painted faces that they later learn call themselves the Lunatics.

After deciding to follow the Lunatics’ trail in an attempt to rescue what’s left of Orosco’s people, they encounter a strange, sadistic older woman, named Annie Greenman, and her neighbors in the small town of Wick, who have been keeping their dead relatives chained up in the basement and feeding them whoever they manage to capture. Beverly is killed and fed to the dead relatives and Diane loses her arm. Alysa is temporarily delayed at the neighbor’s house, but escapes and rescues the others.

From there, they follow the Lunatics’ trail west, ending up at the town of Orwell, where they are invited into the town library and meet a strange man named Jim who has been alone too long and has trouble distinguishing between what’s real and what’s not. Things go badly as Matthew, who has been suffering severe depression, decides to kill himself by releasing a horde of zombies being held at the high school stadium. Everyone manages to get back to the library as the massive horde surround it. After a several day siege, Nine and Jim come up with an ingenious way to escape, but Jim decides to remain behind.

After Orwell, Tony and the others end up at Mosquito Creek, a large protected swampland, where they discover a massive horde of dormant yellow-eyed zombies that have been gathering for some time. They estimate that there’s more than 5,000 of them.

From there, our survivors end up in the town of West Farmington where they are captured by a small group of mercenaries who run the town out of the local hospital. We discover that Sergeant Richard Hash, the same Hash who was at the Percy Power Plant way back in chapter ten, is leading this group made up of members of his former unit. After an unauthorized interrogation on Alysa, leading into a flashback story of Alysa’s days becoming a Shadow Dead, Hash stops the interrogation, putting him at odds with his second-in-command, Thompson, who he ends up jailing along with his followers. Hash eventually decides to release Tony and his friends, but this forces a confrontation between himself and Thompson, resulting in a gun fight in the middle of the street. Hash and the others survive the confrontation and Hash decides to join Tony on his mission to save what’s left of Orosco’s people.

Our final destination for Tony and his friends take them to the former amusement park, Geauga Lake, which has been converted into a shady black market town called New Cleveland. This is where they finally meet up with the Lunatics, as well as their leader, who goes by the name Candyman. After a bar room brawl, Tony and the others end up going into an auction to save their own lives, and this is where the first long arc of Book Five concludes.

The second arc takes us back to Gina Melborn as we discover what happened to her after getting exiled. After spending too much time alone in the wild, Gina ends up befriending a stray teenage zombie girl, who resembles Ashley, as she begins to confess her sins to the dead girl. After a series of events in the wilderness, Gina eventually discovers a small airport occupied by a small army. Gina captures one of these mystery people trying to get away and finds out that the airport group is a branch of Mother. Obsessed with confronting this group, Gina loses control and kills her hostage.

Meanwhile, Marcus has been tracking Gina and witnesses her murdering the hostage. All hell breaks looses rather quickly and Gina ends up wandering the forest at night, leading her to a farm house by dawn with the dead on her trail. Gina manages to take shelter in the house and Marcus rescues her from the dead.

Afterwards, Gina convinces Marcus that they need to attack the Mother group at the airport but Marcus insists that Gina be trained first. Marcus trains her while secretly setting up his own agenda. When the day comes to attack the airport camp, Marcus creates a detour toward a housing development site where he intends to finally kill her. Things do not go according to plan as Marcus is interrupted by Alysa, who shoots Gina in the chest with an arrow. Marcus, believing Gina is dead, breaks down and Alysa takes him into custody, intending to escort him to the Shadow Dead camp.

Gina wakes up at the airport and meets Clementine. Clementine attempts to convince Gina that Mother is not the evil group Gina believes it is and she takes her back to the Wasteland compound to prove it in the hope that she can convince Gina’s friends that they’re here to help. Clementine breaks the news that everyone at the compound is dead.  Clementine, taking advantage of Gina’s vulnerable state, convinces her to join the group and come back with her to the island headquarters across Lake Erie. They depart the airport via Helicopter… and that’s where Book Five finishes.

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And that’s about it (in a nutshell). There’s a lot of things that have happened that I’m not specifically addressing, as well as many more characters I could talk about that we’ve met along the way or who are coming in the days ahead, but I wanted to just touch on some of the major players and moments from the series. Hopefully this serves as a bit of a refresher going into Book Six and beyond. I look forward to reading your comments again as we embark on another volume in this long series.

-Scott

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