Saturday, November 22, 2014


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/Was married once/Bad tempered/Doesn’t seem to care at all about family or traditional values
Kenny Sudrow: Youngest member of the group/Former spa porter/Happy to be doing something else/Lost his family to Biters
Eli Burton: Survivor found in Cherrywood Mall/Parents were rich and left him a large inheritance when they died
Vern Sheldon: Used to drive a truck/Lost his family/Carries a badass flamethrower
Valentina Jackson: Tough as nails/Has no fear/Knows how to use a gun
Tyler Reese: A young man who saved Kenny Sudrow’s life/Carries a submachine gun/A native Bostonian/He used to be a mechanic
Taryn Mills: One of the newest members of the group/Little is known about her at this time
Diego Garcia: A ticking time bomb

By Daniel Skye


          Day One Hundred and Ninety-Eight.
          Vern was there to open the doors and let them in through the vestibule. The group was melancholy, as they returned minus one member. They lost George Verdi back at the hardware store. There was no time to save him.
          At least that’s the story Diego Garcia tried to sell the group. And what was worse is that the group seemed to buy it. In actuality, Diego had shot George in the leg and left him for dead in that hardware store to save himself. But mainly just because Diego felt like killing someone.
He didn’t have to put a bullet in his head to know George was a dead man and that he was the one responsible. As soon as that Biter tore into his gut and ripped out a length of George’s small intestines, Diego knew he was a goner.
          Taryn Mills ran into the vestibule, looking to leap right into the arms of her beloved. Instead she was greeted with silence. Valentina was building up the nerve to break the news to her. But Taryn wasn’t born yesterday. She could do the math and she knew immediately that someone was missing from the equation.
          “Where’s George?” Taryn asked, her benevolent smile slowly fading.
          “Sweetheart, you should probably sit down,” Valentina said.
          “Oh God,” Taryn sobbed and the tears started to flow. And once they started, they just wouldn’t stop.
          Valentina put her arm around Taryn to console her and Carson Ryder tried to express his sympathies, but Taryn could hear nothing over her own sobs and high pitched squeals.
          Damien slipped away quietly to find Tyler Reese and bumped into him after he turned the first corridor. He passed Tyler the bag with the oil. “Did you fix the RV?”
          “Everything’s good to go,” Tyler said. “Just got to pour in the oil.”
          “Well do it and get ready to go,” Damien said. “Carson’s itching to leave. He wants to hit the road by morning.”
          “Will do,” Tyler said, nodding. “What’s going on out there, by the way?”
          “We lost George,” Damien said. He was the only one who didn’t appear morose about the subject. The loss didn’t tear Damien up like it did the others. This was something Damien had hardened himself to, something he had prepared for. Loss was inevitable in this strange new world they had found themselves in.
          “Damn,” Tyler sighed. “I’m sorry to hear that. Wait, does that mean Taryn is single now?”
          Damien chortled. “Just go change the fucking oil.”
* * *
          Eli Burton had morphed into the newest recluse of the gang. He kept mostly to himself, except for when he was hungry or when the group was going on a mission. He’d always volunteer to come along, but lately Carson and others seemed to be avoiding him more than he was avoiding them. Anytime he’d volunteer for something, Carson would request that he stay behind and guard the hotel.
          But that night, Eli felt like socializing. And so he cornered Diego Garcia in his room after everyone else had turned in for the night.
          “I know what you are,” Eli told him. “I could see it in your eyes the second I met you. You’ve got that killer instinct inside of you.”
          “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Diego said, playing dumb.
          “It’s cool,” Eli assured him. “My lips are sealed. Go nuts. You’re off to a good start. Nice move getting George Verdi out of the way. If I were you, I’d kill that dark one next.”
          “Vern Sheldon?” Diego asked, raising one quizzical eyebrow.
          “Yeah,” Eli said. “He’s got it coming to him. And nobody will miss him. He’s a useless pawn in this intricate game of chess I’ve got going. Destroy him. I won’t utter a word to a single soul. I promise.”
          “You know something?” Diego said. “You’re all right, Eli. Now beat it so I can get some rest. Vern Sheldon can wait till morning.”

          Doctor Kazarian scribbled a few words on his notepad. At least that’s what Diego assumed he was doing. The text was invisible to him, as Diego could not see what Kazarian was writing from the couch he was sprawled out on. For all he knew, Kazarian was playing tic-tac-toe on Diego’s dime. He was paying for these therapy sessions and he expected to see some results.
          “What do you feel right now?” Kazarian asked.
          “Anger,” Diego barked. “Rage. Hate. I hate everyone and everything around me. The feeling is overwhelming. I can’t shake it. I can’t live a normal life. I try to fit in, but it’s just acting. It’s not the real thing. I want the real thing. I want this sickness to go away.”
          “What sickness?” Kazarian inquired.
          “The voices in my head. The pangs in my gut. I’m talking about the sickness that has spread through my body. It’s tainted my blood and diseased my organs. Every night I pray for it to stop. I just want the sickness to go away. Please, help me, doctor.”
          “What voices do you hear, Diego? What do these voices say? Do they tell you to do things? Bad things?”
          “They tell me…to kill.”
          “But you’ve never succumbed to temptation? Isn’t that correct? Diego, you’ve never acted on these impulses, have you?”
          “Oh, doctor, if you only knew the things I’ve done. I’ve got plenty of blood on my hands. And I’m not speaking figuratively. I’m a bad man, doctor. A very bad man. And I need you to cure me. Make the sickness go away. Please just help me make it go away. Tell me what to do. I’ll do anything. Anything.”
          “Diego, I want you to wait right here. There’s a man that can help you. I’m just going to go into the other room and call him. Stay where you are, please.”
          “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that,” Diego said, springing up from the couch. Kazarian moved for the door, but Diego was faster and made it there first. He drew a cloth from his jacket that harbored a strong chemical odor. “I’m sorry about this, doc. But I can’t let you put me away.” He clamped the chloroform soaked rag over Kazarian’s face and in seconds, his body crumpled to the floor.
          Shit, Diego thought. Nice going. What are you going to do now? You can’t kill him here. It’ll be too messy, too much evidence to clean up. You could get caught. You can’t let that happen, Diego. You promised yourself you’d never see the inside of a prison cell. Remember the closet? Remember what that bitch did to you? Do you want to go back to that life?
          Diego mulled his options. If he killed Kazarian now, the police would be able to determine the time of death and match it to the time of Diego’s appointment. And Kazarian also had a secretary, a pretty young blond named Fallon. She would be a witness and Diego couldn’t leave any witnesses behind. It was quite the predicament Diego had found himself in. Until he realized it was five o’clock and he was the last patient of the day.
          He opened the door and shouted,” Fallon, come quick! I need your help! Doctor Kazarian has fainted!”
          Fallon rushed in to find Kazarian splayed out on the floor. She kneeled down and attempted to revive him by performing CPR. She caught the lingering stench of the chloroform a second too late as Diego snuck up behind her and clasped the rag over her face. She tried not to inhale, but the chemicals were too strong and she lost consciousness in seconds.
          Diego locked the front doors to Kazarian’s office building and used the back exit. He pulled his car around and strategically arranged their bodies in the back of his Ford Bronco.
          Then he wiped his prints clean from the office and erased his name from the office computers and Kazarian’s schedule.
          When Diego was certain there wasn’t a trace of himself left behind, he slipped out the backdoor and drove off with Kazarian and his secretary in the rear of his Bronco.
          What was he going to do with them? Even if I knew the answer, you wouldn’t want to hear it.
          Day One Hundred and Ninety-Nine.
          Carson Ryder rose before sunset and snuck out back. He walked along the garden and came to the site where Janice Whitfield and Chase Crawford were buried side by side. In the wet grass, Carson spotted the object of his desire.
          It was the crucifix that Chase Crawford had clung to like a good luck charm. It was only after he had abandoned his faith that the good Lord chose to call him on up to heaven.
          Carson placed the crucifix around his neck and let it dangle in front of his chest. “I’ll give it a good home, Chase,” Carson said. Then he bid farewell to his fallen comrades and started packing the RV.
          No one else was awake yet, but he figured he could have the guns, fuel, water, food, and other supplies packed by the time they all woke up.
          It was just past dawn when he heard the screams. He grabbed his Remington from the RV and racked it to make sure it was loaded. Then he made a mad dash around the side of the hotel and saw the girl running through the garden with three Biters on her trail.
          These ones were fresh. Not nearly as decomposed as their fellow undead counterparts. Their decay was gradual, but the signs were still evident. And they all had those same dead, grey eyes devoid of any pupil or sclera.
          Two slugs zoomed through the barrel of the shotgun and pierced the skulls of two bloodthirsty Biters. He pumped the shotgun again and fired a single shot that caught the final Biter in the throat, tearing its head off by the neck.
          The girl was panting, struggling to catch her breath. When she did, all she managed to say was, “Thanks.”
          “What’s your name?” Carson inquired.
          It took the girl a few seconds to revive her body from the state of shock it had fallen into. When she regained her senses, she said with a quiver in her voice, “Nikki…Nikki Fox. And thank you again for saving my life.”
          “Don’t mention it,” Carson said. “Where were you heading?”
          “Heading? I was heading nowhere. I was just trying to survive and avoid those freaks at all costs. I stumbled across three of them in the woods. Ran as fast as I could to get away from them. But I tripped on a rock and they managed to catch up a bit.”
          “Our group is heading out to Arkansas. We’ve got an RV big enough to accommodate ten people. If you joined us, you would be number ten.”
          “What the hell,” Nikki shrugged. “It’s better than staying out here on my own. And I’ll do whatever I can to help. Before all this crazy shit went down, I was a registered nurse. I could come in handy.”
          I’m sure you will,” Carson said. “Now come inside and meet the group. You must be famished. By the way, I’m Carson. Carson Ryder.”
          “Nice to meet you, Carson,” she said politely.
          “Before we go inside, I need you to take a look at something,” he said, removing and unfolding the faded photograph from his back pocket. “Do you recognize the woman or the little girl in this picture?”
          “Yes!” she said, her eyes lighting up. “The woman’s name was Caroline. The girl’s name was…oh man, it’s on the tip of my tongue. It started with a C.”
          “Yes, that’s it! They were part of my group. We were just twelve people. We were camped out in the west wing of a hospital for two months, just waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Eventually, some of the others wanted to move on. She went with them.”
          “Did they say where they were heading?”
          “I think they said Washington. A lot of people seemed to be heading there a few months ago. Everyone assumed that was the safest place.”
          “Well, from what I heard, they were wrong. Washington belongs to the dead now.”
          “The whole world belongs to the dead now,” Nikki pointed out.
          “Another member of our group ran into my wife. Caroline told her they were heading for Arkansas.”
          “Caroline’s your wife?”
          “Yes…I mean, I think she is. I have severe memory loss. This was the only picture I could find in my old house. And that’s me in the photo.”
          “She spoke of a man when she was with our group. Her husband. I can’t remember if she ever addressed you by name. But she spoke very highly of you. She said you were a police officer. That she felt sick for having to leave you behind.”
          “She said I was a police officer? You’re sure?”
          “Then I’m right,” Carson said. “Caroline is my wife. And Charlotte must be my daughter. I have to find them. Why didn’t you stick with them when they moved on?”
          “I got cold feet. You see, I’ve never left Tennessee before. But now I realize there’s nothing here for me but death. So I’m willing to accompany you on your journey. Like I said, I’ll do whatever it takes to help.”
* * *
          Inside, Carson introduced the latest addition to their group as everyone gathered their personal belongings and supplies.
          “Pleased to meet you,” Vern said, stopping to shake her hand. Damien, Tyler, and Kenny all stopped to greet her as well. Taryn had sunk into a deep state of depression and was too despondent to acknowledge Nikki’s presence. Valentina was one of the last to greet her when Carson pulled her aside.
          “We need to clear something up,” Carson said.
          “Ok,” Valentina shrugged. “What’s going on?”
          Nikki here saw the photograph I have. She claims she knew my wife. That my wife told her they were heading for Tennessee, not Arkansas.”
          “Carson, when I ran into your wife, my father and his gang were scavenging through town for new victims for their sick little games. I was trying to get her and your daughter out of there as fast as possible. I don’t really remember what she told me. I thought it was Arkansas, but it might’ve been Washington for all I know. She could’ve said Florida or California. It all happened so fast and I was terrified, they were terrified. I’m sorry if I got your hopes up.”
          “You mean, they might not be in Arkansas?”
          “There’s only one way to find out,” Valentina said. “And I’m with you every step of the way. I just hope you’re not mad at me.”
          Carson sighed. The journey had already taken so much out of him. He had no energy to waste on petty grudges. “I forgive you,” Carson said. “Now let’s get going. Once we get to Arkansas, we’ll know for sure. I just hope we can find her.”
          “We will,” Valentina said. “Just have faith.”
          And with that remark, Carson took Chase’s crucifix and started rubbing it between his thumb and index finger in the same manner as Chase himself.
          Kenny made sure to grab the case of liquor that was getting lighter and lighter with each passing day.
          “This last few months have wiped me out,” Kenny said. “I don’t know if I can stand another couple of months on the road.”
          “Well why don’t you have another drink and burrow your head deeper in your ass, why don’t you?” Damien remarked and walked away in a mood.
          “What’s his problem?” Nikki Fox asked Tyler.
          “He gets that way sometimes,” Tyler shrugged. “Hey, you don’t happen to have a boyfriend, do have?”
          “This is going to be a long trip,” Nikki said, rolling her eyes.
          Diego Garcia had spent the night polishing and sharpening the straight razor he carried in his boot. The first chance he got, Vern Sheldon was history…

To Be Continued With Part Nineteen: Killer Amongst Us

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