Saturday, October 25, 2014
IN THE FLESH: PART FIFTEEN
Genre: Horror (Zombies)
Carson Ryder: Former marine/Former police officer/Suffers from retrograde amnesia/ Searching for clues to his past
Damien Albright: Found and saved Carson/Has no family or friends outside of the group/Doesn’t seem to have a care in the world
Kenny Sudrow: Former spa porter/Happy to be doing something else
Eli Burton: Survivor found in Cherrywood Mall/Parents were rich and left him a large inheritance when they died
Vern Sheldon: Former truck driver/Carries a badass flamethrower
Terry Watts: Proprietor of the Starlight Hotel
Valentina Jackson: A new ally that was saved by Carson Ryder
Tyler Reese: Saved Kenny Sudrow’s life/Carries a submachine gun/a native Bostonian
IN THE FLESH
By Daniel Skye
The man, caked in dirt and adorned in tattered rags of clothing, shuffled through the streets without shoes. His feet, sore and lacerated from broken glass and other scattered debris, stung with every step he took across the cold pavement. It had been a week he’d survived on his own.
The week before, he’d been part of a group of ten. His wife and son were in that group. Their camp got raided one night, overrun by a herd of vicious Biters that ripped, clawed, gouged, and tore their way through anything that was breathing.
Down to his last round of ammunition, the man fought valiantly to protect his family. He took down ten Biters with remarkable accuracy. But after the gun had been emptied, the Biters still continued to advance.
The man was the only one to survive their onslaught. The only one who managed to get away.
Everything else had been left behind. Supplies, clothing, food, his shoes. All of it gone in an instant. In order to escape, nothing could be spared. He didn’t even have a spare minute to mourn the loss of his wife and child.
But now, with a full week spent on the road, he’d been given plenty of time to mourn. It also afforded him time to mull the options. The most logical option to this man appeared to be suicide. With his family gone, he had nothing left to live for. And with no weapons, it was only a matter of time before one of those things caught up with him.
The man stuck to the back roads, avoiding the highways and main roads of every town he passed through.
On his journey that day, the man stumbled across a creek. The water looked foul and murky, but he hadn’t had a drink of water in four days and the creek was his only source of hydration. He bent at the knees, cupped his hands, and brought some of the water to his mouth, slurping it down.
He retched at the vile taste, but cupped his hands again and drank some more. The crunching of fallen leaves and twigs made him lift his head from the creek, and he saw three men advancing from the other side.
The leader of this trio was a tall, stout individual with broad shoulders and tree-trunk sized legs. His hair was a fiery red and he spoke with a thick Irish brogue. “The name’s Malcolm McCredie,” the man introduced himself. “This here’s Dexter. And the man on my right is Hubert. What’s your name, soldier?”
“Freddie,” the man said. “Freddie Macintyre.”
“An Irish lad?”
“You betcha,” Freddie said.
“Glad we found you,” Malcolm said. “We can always use more men. Do you have a group? Any friends or family members that would be happy to join us?”
“My family’s gone,” Freddie told them. “My friends are gone. It’s just me.”
“Well, you’ll make a fine addition to our group. Our camp is about half a mile in that direction,” Malcolm said, pointing west. “We’ll take you back there. Get you some food and some clothes. You look like you could use it. And I think I have a pair of boots that should fit you just fine.”
“Wow,” Freddie said. “I can’t thank you enough. What can I do to repay you?”
“Oh, I’ll think of something eventually,” McCredie assured him.
* * *
Day One Hundred and Eighty-Two.
Malcolm McCredie had sent word back to his camp, and all his men had packed their guns and supplies and headed for the Starlight Hotel on foot.
It had been three days since McCredie and his men had taken residency in the Starlight, and they certainly made themselves at home. Their presence was felt through every inch of the hotel.
The men were keeping the group bound and separated, confined to different rooms that were guarded at all times. Eli Burton had resisted and was beaten unconscious for his efforts. And unconscious he stayed for the days to come. Every time he'd start to come around, the men would unleash their savagery upon him and beat him unconscious again.
On the third day, Malcolm made the rounds to see how everyone was adjusting to their new accommodations. He started with Tyler Reese.
“I’ll give it to you, kid. You’ve got guts.” McCredie looked down at a bound, beaten, bloodied Tyler. “You didn’t even know that schmuck at the liquor store and you risked your ass to save him. Admirable. And you also were nice enough to donate that fantastic submachine gun of yours to me and my men. We can’t thank you enough.”
“Get bent,” Tyler said.
“How mature,” McCredie sighed. “I really want to give you a chance. You have potential. Join us.”
“After the beating your men handed me? After the way you violated that poor, helpless girl? Never. I’d rather burn.”
“Then burn you shall.”
* * *
“So what are you supposed to be?” McCredie inquired. “The muscle? Because you sure as hell ain’t the brains of this operation.”
“I’m a manifestation of your worst fucking nightmare,” Damien uttered. “Cut me loose and you’ll find out just who you’re dealing with.”
“A provocative challenge,” McCredie nodded. “Good to see you still have some fight left in you. But I’m afraid I must save my energy for Miss Jackson.”
“Coward,” Damien spat.
“Coward, am I? Alright, smart ass. I was going to wait to tell you, but instead I’ve got a little surprise for you. I’m going to give you a fighting chance…at dark. Rest for now and get ready for show time. You’ll need every ounce of strength.”
“My men are starved for entertainment, and you’re going to give them a show. One man, two zombies, no weapons. You survive, you get to walk. You die, then the show’s over folks.”
* * *
“I can’t thank you enough for leading us here,” McCredie told Kenny as he looked on, bound and helpless.
“Not like I had much of a choice,” Kenny said. “There was a gun pointed at my fucking head.”
“You still didn’t have to lead the way. You could’ve died an honorable death by keeping silent. Maybe your friends would’ve been spared. Maybe you would’ve been spared.”
“My friends and I are still alive.”
“For now,” McCredie said, emphasizing the last word.
“Why not kill us now and get it over with? Why toy with us?”
“This could’ve gone one of two ways. Unfortunately, when your men drew first blood, it angered my men. They desired revenge. And they needed shelter. I promised them both. And I’m giving it to them.”
“Your man, Freddie, he started the whole thing. Him and the other guys. They drew on us first. It was us or them.”
“You see, now you’re getting it. Us or them. That’s what it all boils down to in this savage new world.”
* * *
“I found what you were hiding upstairs,” McCredie informed Terry Watts. “Don’t worry,” he said with a wink. “It’ll be our little secret. Your buddies never have to know.”
“You’re sick,” Terry mumbled and struggled against his restraints.
“You’re one to judge,” McCredie cackled. “So who are they, anyway? Some random people that came looking for help? They friends of yours? Family, perhaps?”
“Fuck you,” Terry spat.
“Very well,” McCredie sighed. “You don’t have to confess your sins to me. Share them with God when you meet him. It should be soon enough.”
“I repeat, fuck you,” Terry said.
“Whatever,” McCredie shrugged. “By the way, I also found this upstairs. Carvedilol. What is it?”
“Where’d you find it?”
“In your room. Don’t worry, I’ll put it back when I’m done.”
“It’s heart medication. It belonged to a member of our group. He died a few days ago. I don’t know how it ended upstairs. I never took it from him. I swear.”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me,” McCredie said. “I don’t care if you did or you didn’t. If it’s heart medication, I have no use for it. And my men are only interested in what’s going to give them a buzz. And we have plenty of liquor for that.”
McCredie exited the room, slamming the door and leaving Terry to ponder how the medication ended up in his room.
* * *
“So you’re a marine, huh?” McCredie asked a bound and bruised Carson Ryder. “I saw your USMC tattoo. I was in the marines, too. For a period of time when I immigrated to the good ol’ US of A. I was dishonorably discharged. They said I was too violent, too aggressive.”
“So I guess this fact makes us buddies then? You think I give a shit if you were in the marines or the army or the navy? You think I give a damn what you used to do or who you used to fuck back in high school? You’re not my friend; you’re not my pal or buddy. You’re the enemy.”
“How rude. I just dropped by to see if you wanted to come and enjoy the show. Damien is tonight’s main attraction. We stop taking bets in an hour, so get your money in while you can. My money is on the zombies.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I think you’ll have to see for yourself. In fact, why let Damien have all the fun? I think we can turn this into a two-man show…”
By dark, McCredie’s men had cut Ryder and Damien free and led them at gunpoint out one of the back exits.
Outside, McCredie’s men had scrounged up two Biters. The Biters were tethered, and the ropes that bound them by their necks were staked into the ground, keeping them at bay like feral dogs on leashes.
Hubert, Dexter, and the rest of McCredie’s men formed a wide circle around the Biters as Carson and Damien were forced into the center. “Sorry about this, fellas,” Freddie Macintyre told them as he pulled a hunting knife from its sheath. “But you picked the wrong group to fuck with.”
“I could say the same for you,” Damien said.
“You’re in no position to be making any threats,” Freddie pointed out. “You’re surrounded by sixteen men with guns, and all of them want to kill you. And believe me it’ll happen if the Biters don’t tear you to shreds first. Best of luck to you, fellas.”
Freddie used his hunting knife to slash the ropes, setting the Biters free. He stepped out of the circle just as the decrepit Biters advanced on Damien and Carson.
“Two on two,” Damien shrugged. “Seems fair to me.”
“Yeah, but we don’t have any weapons,” Carson told him.
“You don’t need weapons when you’ve got crazy,” Damien informed him. With those prophetic words, Damien lunged at the first Biter, spearing it to the ground like a defensive lineman tackling his opposition. His fists moved at a furious pace, and they didn’t stop swinging until he had pounded its face into putty.
Carson was fighting off the second Biter, struggling to maintain his balance when Damien snuck up behind it and kicked it in one leg, causing the bone to snap like a twig. The Biter tumbled to the ground, and Damien used his knees to put all his weight on its shoulders. Pinning it to the ground, Damien used his thumbs to gouge his fingers into its eyes, forcing his thumbs through the sockets and into the brain.
McCredie’s men sighed with disappointment. McCredie himself was not there to witness the spectacle as he had wandered back inside to attend to other pressing matters.
Freddie Macintyre approached, his blade glistening in the moonlight. “Well done, fellas,” Freddie applauded them. “Now you’re ready for the final test.”
As he moved in closer, Ryder rammed his boot into Freddie’s gut and Damien grabbed him by the throat, wrestling the knife away from him.
“Step back!” Damien told the men. “Or I’ll cut his throat!”
The men stepped back, but continued to hold onto their weapons. Some of them had flashlights in their hands, but Carson took care of that with the gun tucked in Freddie’s waistband. He targeted the bulbs of each flashlight, and in seconds, the moon was the only thing keeping the darkness at bay.
Carson squeezed off three more shots in the darkness, killing Hubert, Dexter, and another of McCredie’s men. Some retreated; others returned fire, missing with every shot. Carson had dropped to the ground and crawled forward, coming across the loaded submachine gun that belonged to Tyler Reese. Dexter had dropped it in the snow when he went down.
“I believe in miracles,” Carson said, picking up the gun and springing back to his feet, unleashing a hail of bullets. He didn’t stop firing until all movement ceased and the night was silent again.
“So what are you gonna do with me?” Freddie asked as Damien still had the hunting knife pressed to his throat. “You could kill me, fella. Or you could let me go. I can be a real asset to your group. I’ve been working with McCredie for months, did everything he asked of me. I’m loyal, fellas.”
“Loyalty only gets you so far in life,” Damien reminded him.
“So what? You gonna slit my throat?”
“Nah,” Damien said. “Too easy.” Instead, he snapped Freddie’s neck like a tree branch. Then he plunged the hunting knife deep into his forehead, ensuring he wouldn’t return as one of those things.
* * *
“I love the flamethrower,” McCredie mocked Vern Sheldon. “It’s a nice touch. Not something a jungle bunny like you deserves though.”
“Watch your mouth,” Vern snapped.
“You’re not in any position to be ordering me around,” McCredie pointed out. It was true as Vern was hung upside down by his ankles. A metal bucket had been situated on the floor and his head dangled over it precariously. “Ever seen how they slaughter a pig, drain it of its blood? They slit it from groin to sternum. You know, I’ve never been a fan of dark meat, but I bet you’ll taste just fine.”
“Drop the knife and the gun,” Carson ordered McCredie. He and Damien had him dead to rights. It was pointless to resist, so McCredie tossed his weapons aside. “Move over to that corner and press your palms against the wall.”
McCredie moved slowly, doing precisely as Carson commanded. Damien used the knife to cut Vern Sheldon free. Then he passed the knife along to Vern and asked him to go free and check on the others.
“Where are my men?” McCredie inquired.
“Dead,” Carson informed him. “Every last one of them is dead. Even Freddie. You can say so long to that fella.”
“I underestimated you both,” McCredie said, accepting his defeat. “Very well. Do as you wish.”
“You bet your ass we will,” Damien said.
“No way,” Carson said. “This one is all mine.”
“By the way, before I bid you farewell, I must insist you check the second floor. As I can only imagine you haven’t already.”
“One thing at a time,” Carson said.
Carson tossed his gun aside and delivered one crushing blow to McCredie’s jaw with his fist. McCredie crumpled to the floor and Carson stomped at his face and head with his boots. Once blood was drawn, he went to work on McCredie’s ribs.
He didn’t stop kicking and stomping away until every rib was broken and McCredie lie on the floor, gasping for air. And then Carson went in for the kill. He didn’t shoot him. He didn’t snap his neck like Damien did to Freddie.
He ripped McCredie's throat out with his bare hands. “You fucked with the wrong group,” Carson whispered.
* * *
Valentina Jackson rubbed her sore wrists as the group all gathered in the lobby. She was nursing several bruises and a black eye, and she had been violated numerous times. But she was going to recover.
Valentina was as tough as they come. And her only regret was she didn’t get to kill Malcolm McCredie herself. But she was more than grateful for what Carson had done for her. The whole group was grateful for his and Damien’s heroic actions.
Carson thought about McCredie’s parting words. He considered confronting Terry Watts that very moment, but he figured it was a subject that could be left for the morning. They still had much work ahead of them.
On the plus side, they had acquired more than enough ammunition from McCredie’s departed soldiers. And they had also helped themselves to their supplies, seeing as how the men weren’t going to be needing them anymore.
“What should we do with his body?” Kenny Sudrow asked. “Do we give it a proper burial?” He laughed just at the thought.
“Fuck no,” Carson said. “Help me drag this piece of shit outside. We’ll leave him for the Biters. I’ll clean up the mess in here afterwards.”
Kenny helped Carson drag McCredie’s body from Vern’s room to the nearest exit, where they tossed it atop the thawing snow like yesterday’s garbage.
“Burn in hell you schmuck,” Kenny said. Then he apologized profusely to Carson as they walked back inside. “I’m so sorry we led them here. But we didn’t have a choice. They would’ve killed me and that kid. And he was only trying to help me. I really didn’t have any choice. I’m so sorry.”
“Relax, Kenny,” he said. “I forgive you. You only did what you had to do. I can understand that. And hey, we’re still alive. The score is Starlight group one, McCredie zero.”
“You said it,” Kenny agreed. “I’m just so relieved that ordeal is over. I wish I could’ve helped more.”
“It’s all right,” Carson said. “We have other things to worry about. Tomorrow, we’re going to have to check upstairs. It’s time to find out what Terry is hiding from us."
To Be Continued With Part Sixteen: REVELATION