Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chapter 41: Nightlife

Chapter 41: Nightlife


  Humidity creeps into the cool night air. Inside the old well-kept wood paneled station wagon. There is an odd assortment of beings this night. The battered station wagon looks suspiciously like the one from those old National Lampoon’s movies. It casually navigates the muddy back roads of this rural area. Distant claps of thunder interrupt the conversation between two of the car’s occupants. As two others lay curled in the fetal position on the floor behind the front seats. “Lawson ….” Hobart questions his fellow zombie from the passenger seat. Lawson who is focused on driving cuts his eyes in his passenger’s general direction. “What Hobart?” The one time death row inmate turned sentient walking corpse responds. His voice tinged with a hint of annoyance. “It’s been a while since I drove and I’m tryin’ to concentrate dumbass.” He tells the dead man in the grimy prison guard uniform. Hobart himself is lost picking at the bone fragments around his shattered eye socket. “Bro just want to know why you trust that nutty ass Sin Preacher chick so much.” Lawson takes his attention from the road as plump raindrops begin to pelt the car. He stares down Hobart his cloudy orange eyes narrowing into slits. “Nah no disrespect Ian ….” Hobart holds his hands up in an effort to indicate his submission. “Just saying man you ran the biggest prison in the state from death row.” Hobart fumbles over his words. “Whatever you wanted you got every guard, every inmate was terrified of you. Now you’ve signed on with that robed bitch. It’s like to you her word as law.” The sound of Lawson’s knuckles cracking as he grips the steering reverberate about the car. “First off motherfucker …” Lawson snarls through gritted teeth. “Do I have to remind you who the fuck you are talking to?” Lawson’s right hand snakes out. He stabs two fingers into the black gooey hole where Hobart’s left eye had once been. Lawson pulls the dead guard to him like he’s grabbing an unruly fish by the gills. “Law … Lawson.” Hobart cries flailing around the front seat of the car. Slamming on the car’s brakes Lawson causes the vehicle to slide sideways on the rain soaked muddy road. Ian Lawson yanks Hobart’s face as close as he can to his own. For a brief moment the only sound in the car is rain drumming off metal. Ian the undead serial killer takes the time to deviously wiggle his fingers in to slimy goo inside Hobart’s skull. This odd sensation brings renewed protest from Hobart. “Bro …. Bro please.” “Shut up bitch!” Lawson screams out. “Remember Hobart I aint forgotten I’m a damn zombie because of yo stupid ass boy. You might be dead punk but I can still make you hurt.” The killer exercises complete control over Hobart. He slaps Hobart’s head viciously off the dashboard twice before slowly withdrawing his fingers from Hobart’s eye socket. “You just one eye away from being blind bitch!” Lawson points with the same two fingers that he’d seized the man’s diseased head with. A deep red mixture of fluids fly from their tips as he points. “Do I make myself clear boy?” Lawson asks Hobart who has drawn himself back against the window like a frightened child. “Yeah ….. Yeah bro.” Hobart’s hands tremble as they nervously make their way up to the hole in his face. “Let’s get one thing straight boy. That bitch says she can get us into a military base full of living warm human meat. When she done served her purpose just like you. I’ll get rid of you both and anybody else who tries to control me.” Hobart swallows hard. His dry sickly colored tongue literally sticking in his throat. “Hey …. Man I ... I’m with you bro. You and me Lawson we a team bro…… a team.” Hobart shouts. Ian shakes his head emitting an audible chuckle. “I got a prison guard for a bitch.” The smirk fades from his face as he cranes his head forward. Lawson peers from the car’s windshield at the sky.


    Rain was pouring down trying in vain to cleanse the now polluted planet. Ian’s mood darkened to match the atmosphere outside. He’d been imprisoned so long he’d forgotten how beautiful the sky was. Now these cursed clouds obscured his vision of the stunning ribbons of orange light that cascaded across the night sky. “Let’s do this.” Lawson announces. “Come on lil piggies.” Lawson roars stepping out of the car into the downpour. He leaves his door open and the car running. Lawson drags Ben roughly from the back seat dropping him in the cool wet muck. He looks down at the naked black man whose hands are tied at the wrist. “I got the bitch Lawson!” Hobart calls over the rain and thunder. On the other side of the station wagon Hobart takes his sweet time pulling Private Lockett from the car. He makes sure his cold clammy hands linger on her exposed breast. He pulls the young soldier by her bound wrist like an ornery pack mule. Sara is dumped in the mud next to Ben. Hobart casually steps backwards behind Lawson his job done. Rain falls in sheets so dense it’s hard to see more than a few feet in any direction. “Now meat ….” Lawson addresses the pair of humans on the ground at his feet. “Dead or alive my word is my bond.” He wipes the rivulets of rain water from his face. “So I won’t kill your asses this time but the next time I see you piglets.” Lawson advances slowly squatting his booted feet sinking in to the thick mud. “I will tear you apart with my teeth. Take heart though yo friends and shit back at that church.” Lawson’s lips pull back into a sinister sneer. “I assure you they are going to die by my hands while pleading for God take them.” He looks back a Hobart. The dead man is staring up letting the rain pool in hole in his face. Lawson clears his throat standing up. “Huh?!” Lawson snaps back. “Uh yeah motherfuckers y’all is dead!” He utters comically as Lawson brushes past Hobart paying him no mind. “Get in the car you fucking moron.” Lawson says shaking his head in disgust. Hobart zips off around the car to the passenger side afraid of displeasing Ian. Lawson stops leaning on the open door. Without warning he leans into the car pounding his fist down on the steering wheel. The horn blares out cutting through the symphony of rain and thunder. “Wooooooo! Woooooooooooo! Cooooooooome and geeeeeeeeetttt it!” Lawson hoots and hollers into the night. He laughs like the maniac as Hobart ever the follower joins in. “Human Sushi!” Hobart adds drumming on the car’s roof. The horn falls silent and all that’s left is the sound of pouring rain.



  Ben gets up to his knees then he stands upright. Leaning down taking Sara’s arm he never takes his eyes off their captors. “Get up now!” He tells the girl tugging at her by the arms. “Sara … Sara there’s a path over there come on!” He tries to keep his voice low so the ghouls won’t hear him. “Hey piggies have you ever heard of fast food?” Lawson shouts cupping his hands over his mouth pointing into the darkness. “Well y’all best be faster food.” Ben turns back looking over his shoulder. He’s distracted by the odd sensation of mud squishing between his toes. Ben watches the darkness in the distance. His vision is obscured by the driving rain. There he sees them where there was nothing before a pair of orange dots floating in the distance. A dazzling bolt of lightning illuminates the area. Ben catches a glimpse of a figure moving their way. He’s frozen in place the mud around his ankles now feels like cement. Instinctively he pulls Sara close to him. He does so in the same manner strangers seated next to each other on a plane. Holding hands as they plummet towards the ground seeking a few precious seconds of comfort. He begins to back pedal when he’s greeted another flash from the sky. Where the lone shadowy figure had once been there were now dozens. Ghostly eyes hover about the landscape menacingly. The glowing orange eyes reflect each jagged bolt of lightning. Ben can’t stop a shiver from running up his back. The eyes appear to float adrift in a sea of black riding an unseen current their way. They all look as if to be headed to where Ben and Sara now stand. More lightning there are now dozens of forms coming through the darkness. Glowing eyes dot the night from as far back as they can see. “Sara we gotta go.” Ben yanks Sara along as he passes the car cautiously. He sees their one time abductors grinning back at them. Ben feels paved asphalt under his feet as he and Sara take off at a dead sprint down a scenic river bike path. “Over here!” Ben hears someone scream from behind them as the rain drowns out the voices. He can only hear thunder and rain in addition to the sounds of their muddy feet slapping the ground. “Stay close Sara.” Ben tells Sara looking over his shoulder. He goes to work on the restraints with his teeth. Ben gets the rope’s knot to loosen and starts to wiggle his beefy hands free. “Ben I can’t get mine …” Sara says in a panic. “I’ll get yours when we get a chance to hide.” Ben squints through the rain driving before him. He sees a black shape floating in the air up ahead of them. “They are coming for us Ben I can hear shouts.” Sara wails as the rain washes the mud from her face into her mouth. “Don’t stop Sara we can use the rain for cover. Nothing’s gonna stop me from getting back to my family.” Ben’s emotional words come from his heart but his physical heart feels like it’s ready to implode inside his chest. He doesn’t stop reaching back taking hold of Sara’s bound wrist. They run on together each one occasionally glancing over their shoulder searching the shadows for their pursuers. Sara is slowly pulling ahead of Ben fueled by a steady flow of terror and adrenaline.


  “Hey Lawson why the fuck we still here?” Hobart calls out over the thick grey sheets of rain. He leans on the passenger side of the station wagon waiting for his answer. “I figure we are do for some guest.” Lawson squints his dead eyes peering at the forms emerging from the shroud of rain. A dazzling bolt of lightning illuminates the area before them. Emerging from the downpour is a teaming mass of the undead. Rotters sprint into the picture driven by hunger for live human flesh. Behind them Trotters meander about on unsure footing. The less coordinated dull zombies fall about in the thick muddy farm fields around them. Lawson realizes the snarling cadavers vaulting from the cloak of water aren’t stopping. Their dead eyes can’t discern warm blooded bodies from the putrid decaying mobile corpses of their kin. Lawson is aware his brethren are hunting based on the shape of their prey. “Shit.” Lawson sighs as the heavy wet footsteps beat nearer to him. The rage in the howls of the zombie nearest to him brings out his own inner demons. The first cold body to jump him is a tall lean form shaped like a man. It lunges forward just as Lawson steps gracefully to the side. “You motherfuckers really need to learn to control y’all selves.” He barks catching the running corpse by the scruff of his neck. Lawson whirls around with the corpse in hand using its own momentum to his advantage. He propels the dead man’s head into the car’s rear passenger door. There is a loud crack like a tree branch snapping. The zombie goes limp in his grip in the same motion Ian Lawson pirouettes to face the next corpse. He lashes out in a blur propelling his calloused fist into the screaming woman’s face. Her head whips back as he catches her by her filthy blouse. Lawson takes the zombie to the ground dragging her over to the open car door. Lawson holds the flailing zombie with his right hand like a snake handler. Lawson uses his right hand to grasp the still open car door. He begins to slam the shrieking zombie’s head between the door and the frame. The blows from the door come in rapid succession as Lawson’s rage reaches a volcanic boiling point. “You ……” He screams out slamming the door over and over in a blur. “Need to …..” Lawson pauses calmly. Looking over at Hobart who is standing with his fetid mouth wide open catching rain. “Control yo’selves!” The final vicious blow from the door crushes the zombie’s head. Lawson looks down watching the decaying woman’s headless body twitch about in the mud. Lawson releases the door turning about slowly. He walks towards the gathering horde of zombies.


  The dead can see now that he is one of them. “We just let loose a couple naked darkies.” Lawson looks at the zombies gathered around him. He points through the veil of rain down the pathway where Sara and Ben had disappeared. “What do you mean you idiot?” A fidgety woman shouts angrily pushing her way through the crowd. “Why in the fuck wouldn’t you chase them down yourselves? You two pretty boys in the habit of sharing your food?” She mocks stepping up into Ian’s face. “Other than that prison jumpsuit what makes you any different from us?” She says challenging the killer. Lawson takes his time looking the ghoul up and down. His eyes linger on the curves of her breast underneath her blood caked t-shirt. A rotter slowly shuffles between them with his dull cloudy eyes staring down the bike path. The zombies moan causes the others like him to ring their vocal dinner bell. The mindless walking corpses ignore the infected casually fighting amongst themselves. They sense the warmth through the rain left by the fleeing humans. “Where the hell all these dummies goin’?” Hobart asks over the top of the car. “They can sense warmth from those two we turned loose I bet.” Ian chuckles. The rest of you festering fuckers are too smart for yo own good.” Ian Lawson blurts. Those dumb rotten sacks of maggot food go on base instinct. I suggest you folks beat them to dinner cause they tend to make a mess of things when they get there first.” A few of the sentient zombies look around at each other. “Fuck that!” A short bald man dressed like a high school gym teacher spits as he turns to run. He opens the proverbial flood gates as wailing zombies follow him. They plow head long into the slow moving pack of zombies trampling them under feet. Bones are broken in a collision of the undead. Some Rotters find themselves pushed by frantic undead hands into the slow moving river besides the bike path. “Get in the car Hobart.” Lawson commands lowering himself back into the idling vehicle. “You didn’t answer my questions asshole.” A woman’s raspy voice barks from the backseat. Lawson turns about in the driver’s seat to face the woman as she slams her door shut. Here in the cabin of the dimly lit car he can see the flesh torn from the back of her neck. The bones visible there appear to be an impossible shade of white to his foggy eyes. “What makes me different you ask?” Lawson says. In the blink of an eye his hand is around her throat. Yet she doesn’t flinch an evil smile coming to roost on her face. “What makes me different bitch is that I killed before all this …. Before death was fashionable.” His grip tightens fingers burrowing into the dead woman’s neck. Hobart watches the scene unfold with all the glee of a child watching his idol sign an autograph. “Unlike you … you dead rotten piece of shit.” He whispers pulling the woman’s face up to his. “Dead or alive I can control my urges to kill.” Lawson shoves the ghoul back into her seat. She bounces up and down clapping “We’re gonna have so much fun boys!” Lawson throws the car into gear pressing the gas pedal to the floor. The car fishtails through the muck as Ian heads back to the church.


   Ben’s age was catching up with him. He was behind Sara and even with her hands bound she was widening the gap between them. Her bare feet slap the paved blacktop of the bike path rhythmically. Then she vanishes into the dark rainy night. From behind them they hear their hunters. Ben wheezes struggling to keep his footing. Suddenly the rain is gone replace by steady streams of dripping water. Ben spins around to find Sara looking up. Her index finger pressed to her lips to silence Ben. “We have to get up there now.” Ben looks up to see they are standing under a rusty black railroad trestle. Ben scans the length of the old structure as it crosses over the river into the darkness. The train tacks only serve to slow the cloud burst spilling from the heavens. “Ben we have to get up there. It’s our only hope we can’t out run these things.” Sara taps Ben’s shoulder he subconsciously notices her smooth wet naked body for the first time. “Hey can we focus here Mr. James.” She snaps at him. “My tits have been out all evening and it doesn’t look like I’ll be covering them anytime soon.” She glances back the way they’d come. Ben feels flushed like a school boy. He realizes the only thing keeping the blush from showing on his cheeks is the pigment in his skin. Sara squats with her bound hands out motioning for Ben to step up. “Mr. James hurry the hell up.” She yelps startling Ben into action. The trestle is only a few feet above their heads. Ben braces himself placing a meaty foot into Sara’s palms. “On ‘go’.” Sara Lockett instructs Ben. “Oh and Mr. James please try and keep your balls outta my face on your way up.” Ben feels a new rush of warmth bubbling up his neck into his cheeks. “I uh ah …” Is all he can manage stammering. “Go.” Sara orders pushing upwards with her hands interlocked as Ben stretches out above her. His fingers clasp the cold metal and Ben pulls his girth upwards. He struggles to finagle his girth up into the narrow opening on the trestle’s bottom. The cackling dead draw closer to their quarry. Ben braces himself between the steel sides of the trestle. “Gimme your hands Sara quick.” Ben calls out thrusting his hand down towards the female soldier. With his body braced looking down Ben tugs Sara up with ease. He grunts softly Sara takes a hold of the side of the rusty metal next to him. She joins Ben pressed against the side of the railroad bridge. Seconds later zombies’ race into view below them. The pair cling to each other breathlessly just out of sight of the living dead below them. “They lied to us played us for fools!” The chubby gym teacher growls pacing back and forth. “Bastards ….” A dead man missing both his arms next to him scowls. Soon they are joined by a throng of enraged zombies. Ben and Sara watch the crowd growing mere feet below them. An ill-timed bolt of lightning lights the surreal scene. “Wait did you see that?” The armless corpse asks. “See what?!” the gym teacher shouts. “Up there I thought I saw something.” The armless zombies attempts to direct the group’s attention up to the trestle. “Up there you jackasses.” He cocks his chin up. In the distance the sound of something falling into the cold black water of the river breaks the stalemate. “They’re in the water …..” the gym teacher shouts running off. “We’rrrrrrrreeeee coming you fuckers.” The dead man laughs. Like festering lemming the remaining zombies follow him. Except for the armless man he stands underneath the bridge squinting upwards through the dripping rain and his cloudy eyes. Ben is aware of Sara’s warmth pressed against him. He doesn’t know how long he can hold his breath. Sara squeezes his hand. The dead man loses interest he takes off after his pack.


  “Thank God.” Sara whispers in Ben’s ear. “Alright let’s move this way.” Ben states they begin to make their way down the iron frame of the trestle. Soon they find themselves out over the shallow icy water of the river. “Where does this thing go Mr. James?” Sara murmurs. “I don’t know …. The other side of the river I guess.” Ben responds as they move hand over hand balancing on a thin ledge of dusty steel. Ben can see the river bank on the opposite side. “We crawl up then stay low.” Ben tells Sara over his shoulder. “Ok I say we hunker down til morning.” Sara responds. Soon they come to the end of the trestle Ben holds his hand up as a signal. Sara stops as he pokes his head up between the old battered railroad ties like a frightened prairie dog. “Let’s go.” He murmurs ducking back under the trestle. Ben groans as he wiggles his burly frame up onto the railroad tracks. Once more he reaches down to give Sara a hand up. From their blind side Ben vanishes taken off his feet by a shadow. Someone pounces yelling “Gotcha ….” Ben’s blindsided by a shadow. Sara is stunned as Ben and the shapeless form tumble down an embankment into a drainage culvert. They hit the water with a splash. Private Lockett gnaws at the rope cinched painfully around her wrist. She feels the rope loosening as she bites like a crazed animal. Down in the drainage ditch she can see the oddly shaped figure straddling Ben. The murky runoff water is only about two feet deep. “Oh God!’ Sarah exclaims. She can see the figure sitting atop an apparently dazed Ben. It was the armless zombie who’d lingered behind after the others. Finally she frees her hands dropping the rope at her feet. Sara scans the area in a panic she grabs the only thing she can a large brick. Sara leaps down the slope towards the bodies thrashing in the river runoff. “So those assholes weren’t …..” The zombie atop Benjamin James never finishes his thought. Sara slaloms on her bare feet down the waterlogged grassy embankment. With a grunt she smashes the brick into the dead man’s skull with both hands. Bones crunch like breaking china as the zombie pitches forward into the water. “Over here!!” A voice calls from beyond the curtain of rain. “Come on Ben we gotta move.” Sarah whispers in a harsh hushed tone. She directs her large companion to a drain pipe two feet wide running under the road above them. Ben moves slowly climbing up and in the chrome opening. “Here ….” Sara hands him her lethal brick. “You watch that end.” Sara points through the trash filled drainpipe. Ben can see light at the pipe’s other end. “Ok …” He mumbles. Sara reaches down in the muck finding a jagged chunk of concrete. She leaves the crumpled zombie behind crawling into the pipe staring at Ben’s back. She turns the opposite way as they squat back to back. “You and me Mr. James.” Sara swallows hard water running down her face. “Please …” Ben huffs quietly through gasps of air. “Call me Ben … Sara after all we’ve seen each other naked. “Shhhh.” Sara hushes Ben. “I heard a splashes from over this way.” A distant voice calls from above them through the softening rainfall. “Down there it’s that armless fuck.” Another person laughs. Sara thinks the voice belongs to the fat zombie from across the river. “Bet he fell his stupid ass down that slope and split his head open.” The fat man laughs at the body floating just beyond arm’s reach of Sara. Soon the concerto of laughter above them drowns out the distant thunder. “Let’s go …..” Chubby the zombie says. “Those assholes lied to us. Besides I think I saw some people a few miles down the road this morning times a’ wasting it’ll be daylight soon.” For the first time since they had been captured Sara thought “It’s quite.” “Sara …” Ben wheezes his teeth chattering. “We aren’t alone in here kid.”   
  Well finally The Living Dark is back I am glad to say! So much has gotten in the way of Chapter 41 but it is here now and I hope it was worth the wait.
   Looks like Sara and Ben have found themselves in a bad place. By bad place I mean butt ass naked and on the run from zombies. Meanwhile Lawson and Hobart head back  to the church and their keeper The Sin Preacher.
Hope to see you all back the week of January 5th for Chapter 42. Enjoy your Christmas and New Years! See you all in 2014!
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The Living Dark

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chapter 40: The Congregation

Chapter 40: The Congregation

  He feels his head spinning as if he’d spent the day drinking then hopped on a Tilt a Whirl. Ben is so woozy that the world before his eyes appears as a shapeless blob of white. His head flops about on his shoulders like he’s an infant. His mind cleared slowly so he focuses on the one clear memory drifting among the mental fog in his head. The Sin Preacher his mind meandered she had threatened him. The woman had revealed her true colors by telling him she “wanted Jamal and baby Cammy as payment or something equally as heinous.” Ben’s stomach reacted bitterly to the vertigo seizing his senses. He fights to clear his mind he needed to find his people and get the hell out of First New Faith. Ben pulled himself together staring at the blinding white light before him. He sees the silhouette of an angel floating in the midst of a fiery ring of light shining through an amber colored stained glass window. “Come on Ben.” The man prods himself mentally to get going. Gravity pulls his head to the left causing Ben to struggle to hold his head up. The blurry outline of a man appears to his left. Ben ignores the figure he instead puts all his efforts into standing up. His hands feel heavy his arms moves as if he’s swimming in tree sap. Indecipherable words filter into his ears as background noise. It drifts up sounding like a crowded train station around him. Ben stands to his feet by clamping down on the chair in front of him. He sways in place fighting the effects of the blow to the back of his head that had rendered him unconscious. He felt as if it had reset his brain nothing moved at the correct speed. Ben had that sensation of being in a dream trying to move while being held back. His knees buckle painfully slamming into the back of the wooden bench he clung to for support. He barely manages to remain standing glancing down at his hands. What he sees puzzles him his hands are clasped together as if he is praying. He must be still suffering from being knocked out. He believes his hands are bound at the wrist.


   Ben casts a drunken sideways gaze at the man standing to his left. They are eye level with the man being slightly taller than Ben. With all the background conversations and mumbling going on Ben can’t make out the man’s words. He sees the lean gaunt fellow dressed in stained bright orange clothing. He stares at the man they catch each other’s eye Ben’s head tilts to the side similar to a confused dog. Ben shakes his head vigorously back and forth attempting to snap himself back to reality. The man’s orange jumpsuit is filthy with deep crimson black stains covering him from head to toe. What perplexes Ben the most is the man’s eyes they seem diseased and dull with a slight shiny hint of orange. Ben’s subconscious begins to scream at him from the foggy haze of his mind. He can’t make out the voice which seems to call to him from down a long dark hallway. He looks the man up and down leaning in to get a closer look. He can see inside the man’s mouth. His crooked yellowed have tatters of something caught in them. “Must have ... just eaten.” Ben thinks leaning in to examine the red sauce coating his new found friend’s face. The voice in his head grows louder but can only hear snippets of the words it screams at him. In his dream like stupor Ben becomes painfully aware of a gnawing hunger in the pit of his stomach. He is literally starving without thinking he raises his hands to the man’s face as they both rock in place. The man turns his mouth hanging slack as he playfully nips at Ben’s finger like a puppy. He misses providing Ben the opportunity to jab his finger at the man’s cheek. Ben drags his thick index finger through the stain on the man’s face narrowly avoiding his wild blond facial hair. The man’s skin is cold and clammy. His skin feels rough like old wet leather. Ben’s finger comes back slick coated in a sticky red goo. Ben stares down at his fingers as he rubs them slowly together. He can see now his hands they are bound with a thick dirty piece of rope at the wrist. Down further he can see the naked brown meat of his thighs. Is he naked “why in the hell would I be naked?” He thinks to himself climbing out of the dissipating murkiness enveloping his mind. It is replaced with that illogical confusion one feels during a particularly lucid dream. Ben touches his thigh smearing a red stain across his brown skin. Unlike the man besides him his skin is warm to the touch. Benjamin James panics he becomes acutely aware that he is more coherent than he thinks he is. “He’s dead!” The voice in his head screams with such ferocity Ben’s head snaps back. He’s looking the man in his face and only now does he take in the sickly greyish color. A groove made by his finger is visible in the blood slick on the dead man’s cheek. The man in the gore covered orange jumpsuit turns to face him on heavy feet. The dead man utters a low guttural moan sending Ben tumbling backwards in terror.


   Ben lands hard on his back his head scanning the room. His vision having cleared Ben is aware there are people swaying in place all around him. The mumbling that had filtered into his ears plays from speakers overhead. The Sin Preacher’s voice pours from the rafters raining down in a hypnotic sermon. There are old brown wooden pews on either side of him as he rolls about on the floor. He is laying naked on a filthy frayed red rug. Looking over his head he spies two doors bolted and chained shut. Ben sits up panting “I’m in the church sanctuary!” He spins back in the direction of the figure he assumed to be an angel. It steps out of the halo of early evening sunlight at the end of the aisle. The Sin Preacher saunters down the aisle in a full length white robe with gold trim. She carries a small black microphone her arms outstretched like a bird seeking to take flight. Ben has found the source of the voice he heard filling his concussed mind. Her smile seems to outshine the shaft of sunlight behind her bathing the small chapel. Another moan pulls his attention back to the zombie in the prison jumpsuit. The walking corpse takes a few unsteady steps in his direction. Ben’s glances to his right looking for a way out. Seated with her bound hands nestled in her lap is Private Sara Lockett. She sits nude staring straight ahead shaking uncontrollably. Ben guesses the girl’s shivering is due to fear rather than the temperature. “Sara …” He wheezes as if his voice would set off an avalanche of the undead. Her head turns mechanically in his direction. Her eyes are wide and her cheeks are wet with tears that have spilled down onto her breasts. Sara silently shakes her head “no” deliberately mouthing the word. Her lower lip quivers with such force Ben doubts she could actually speak. She mouths the words “help me” then robotically turns back to face the front of the church. A long bone chilling groan erupts across the aisle. Ben whips his head back in time to see the undead convict attempting to navigate his way out of the pew. “Easy my child ….” The Sin Preacher says walking smoothly into Ben’s nightmare. With mannerisms more suited to a mother she prods the fussy zombie back into the pew. “Mr. James …” She turns showing no fear of the living corpse. “Welcome you have met my flock now let me introduce you to my congregation.” She announces with glee. Alarmed Ben looks around the room finally. The pews are filled with zombies all standing swaying in place like obedient dogs waiting for their master’s command. Ben gasps aloud there at the end of the aisle backlit by the waning late day sunlight. He makes out the outline of a person chained to the floor. Ben sits gazing past the Preacher’s he recognizes the man chained to the floor before a small pulpit.


   “Jamal!” Ben screams having found control of himself. He struggles to heft his girth up and onto his feet. “You sick bitch let him go.” Ben demands storming towards the woman who simple pushes her glasses up on her narrow nose. “Stay where you are fool and still thy tongue in this house of worship.” The Sin Preacher commands as Ben continues in her direction. When he shows no signs of stopping she raises the microphone in her hand. Miriam quickly flips a switch on the bottom of the mic and the prerecorded sermon wafting from the speaker’s stops. Suddenly the once docile moaning zombies become enraged caged beast. Snarls echo out as every zombie in the room starts to moves like a pack. They stumble for the warm living morsels of flesh locked in the church’s cramped nave with them. Benjamin’s feet won’t budge from the moldy carpeted floor then he finds the reverse button. He begins to back pedal from The Sin Preacher as she stands up boldly defying the zombies to attack her. She doesn’t flinch as they living dead begin to encircle her. Ben trips over a body on the floor he lays out in the air landing hard. His tender head impacts the floor but this time Ben fights to maintain his consciousness. He is eye level on the floor staring into Sara Lockett’s terrified face. A blast of feedback rattles from the speakers mounted around the hall. “At first light ….” The Sin Preacher speaks softly into her microphone. “The king came unto the lion’s den.” The riled up zombies cease their aggressions almost immediately upon hearing The Sin Preacher speak. “He called out Daniel has your God protected you from the lions this night?” The woman chuckles softly into the microphone. She spins about joyfully like an amused child. The Preacher raises her microphone flipping the switch once more. The church’s sound system plays Miriam’s recorded sermon for the undead masses. She takes several steps forward as the zombies around her wander back into the pews. “So Sara do you still fancy me fool?” She asks kneeling down getting in close to Ben and Sara. “You believe these poor folks to be dead to be … zombies.” She spits the word out with a sneer. “You couldn’t see the truth and for a while ......” The Sin Preacher looks around the room. “Neither could I. The Lord he opened my eyes as surely as he made the blind man see.” The Sin Preacher takes a few short steps over to a tall brutish zombie. The huge walking corpse is dressed in sand covered bloodied military fatigues. He is missing his right arm it looks to have been chewed off above the elbow. The Sin Preacher playfully runs her fingers through his spike salt and pepper hair. The zombie cast his dull gaze upon her like a dim witted dog. A spark of intelligence flickers across the dead man’s jellied eyes. “You girl you mocked me.” Pointing an accusing finger at Sara who lays trembling curled in a naked ball on the floor. “You were right to mock me young Sara. For I myself initially missed what God was trying to reveal to me.”  


    The Sin Preacher turns back to Ben and Sara. “One of my first encounters with the Unclean was right here in this sanctuary.” She waves a hand about causally talking. “One of our members was bitten when she came to us after The Event.” The Sin Preacher moves back to where Ben and Sara are cowering. “She succumbed to her injuries that day. So we lay her down here in the pulpit.” She motions over her shoulder at Jamal. “She lay right there where the heathen is chained to the floor.” Jamal moves slightly the steel chains locking each arm to the floor rattle. Ben feels helpless looking at a beaten Jamal laying in what appears to be the remains of a butcher gone mad. “When she was raptured her body was resurrected without her soul. I was preaching in the pulpit my flock deserted me they fled in every direction. So I kept preaching and as she drew nearer to me I could see a spark.” Miriam stops looking back out the high stain glass window. The Sun was preparing to relent to the moon for yet another night. “Her eyes weren’t just dull and lifeless. So I preached to her fed that need in her to be nurtured by the Word. When Brother Gustavo happened upon us. I had him restrain her until I could formulate a plan.” The Sin Preacher strolls slowly down the aisle. As she passes Jamal he pulls back from her like an animal in fear. She glides smoothly up the three short steps taking up position behind her white podium. “You see not all of the Unclean are truly soulless my friends.” She raises her voice over the playback hypnotically keeping the dead at rest. “I sent Brother Gustavo out to do my work so that I may do the Lord’s work. He gathered all of the Unclean who showed the spark of a soul from near and far. Then he brought them to me here to be ministered to …. To be shown the light so to speak.” She claps her hands together pressing them to her lips attempting in vain to suppress a smile. “When I speak it soothes their tormented souls. They listen to me, they hear me and they obey the sound of my voice.” The last part she pronounces with such self-righteous grandiosity Ben expects her to take a bow. “I protect them during the day when they are at their most venerable and they return the favor unto me at night.” The Sin Preacher scans the room looking out over her congregation with a certain sense of pride. She keeps the audio of her mock sermon just loud enough to be heard like background noise at a party. Downstairs is another matter entirely she has commanded the volume be raised nightly. This way it masks any wayward noise the congregation might make that would alert the flock. Her eyes sink to the naked olive skinned young man at bound in sacrifice before her. One last glance back at the fading sun and she knows it’s almost time.
  “There is only one drawback tour little arraignment Mr. James. You will find out what this unfortunate drawback is like every other person in that room downstairs has.” She presses her glasses on her nose again. “My congregation can’t overcome the one major side effect of their current condition and that is the need to feed on warm human flesh.” She holds her index finger up as if she has just gotten an excellent idea. “They have to be fed like any good guard dog to ensure not only their obedience but that do not turn on their master. My flock who were with me before this all came about are exempt. However those folks like yourself Ben who have found themselves in need of shelter during this time of Tribulation. Well they my friend must choose from among themselves a sacrifice whose death will pay for their safety.” She turns her finger down at Jamal who begins to tug at his restraints. Ben leaps to his feet unsure of what to do next. “Now Ben before you act know this. This filthy heathen and that fatherless infant will pay for your family and the rest of your group’s passage here at First New Faith. Would you sacrifice them all for one who is ignorant to the ways of the Lord and a child who is granted automatic passage into the Kingdom of Heaven?” Ben’s words fail him as he looks at Jamal’s bruised body. He finds himself glaring at The Sin Preacher his eyes bubbling with hate. The Sun throws off its last light before sinking down below the horizon. As the sun fades he is drawn to the face of the zombie nearest him. It was his old buddy in the orange prison jumpsuit. The corpse’s molted sunken upturned face slowly comes to life. Its eyes loose much of the cloudy as an orange flecked glittery light seeps into them from the edges. The mouth which had hung open like a putrid fly trap turns into a bone chilling sneer. “Awwwwwww fuck yeah!” The dead man burst to life along with the rest of the congregation. He leaps for Ben cackling like a madman. “Stop Ian.” The Sin Preacher shouts from the behind the podium on the stage. “You will not harm these two do I make myself clear?” She tells the ghoul as the rest of the Unclean now mill about uncharacteristically repressing their murderous cannibalistic ways. “What why the fuck not?” The dead killer snarls moving in close enough to cause Ben’s bladder to go. “Ha he pissed himself.” The zombie missing an eye and most of the bone in the surrounding socket standing over Ian’s shoulder laughs. “Hobart shut the fuck up I want to hear why I can’t skin tinkles or this bitch on the floor here.” The Sin Preacher comes down from her perch undead part allowing her to pass. “Ian you and Hobart have served me well and you have helped me do the Lord’s bidding as he has instructed me.” She pats the dead convict on the shoulder. “These two are far too troublesome to allow refuge among us. So I am casting them out for they are non-believers who shall reap what they have sown. I want you and Hobart to provide them safe passage. Take them out into the wilderness leave them to wander as God did Moses and the children of Israel.” The Sin Preacher steps to Ian Lawson poking a finger into his chest. “My word is my Bond Ian and as so it cannot be broken. Ensure that no harm comes to them by your or Hobart’s hand I will reward you most handsomely my child.” Ian shoot a glance over at Hobart who simply hunches his shoulder. “How handsomely?” He asks running his dry discolored tongue over his jagged teeth. The Sin Preacher pulls Ian by the collar bringing his ear down mere inches from her lips. “In my office I have a plump innocent morsel that you may have for yourself. A baby Ian for you and you alone my most trusted disciple.” Ian Lawson rights himself lost in the Sin Preacher’s eyes. “Deal …..“ He says grinning.
  “Mr. Lawson …. Mr. Hobart our guest if you please.” The Sin Preacher points to Ben and Sara as she heads back to the altar. The ghouls each grab a human Lawson grabs Ben roughly by his neck. Hobart is not as gentle “C’mon bitch” he blurts snatching Sara off the floor by her hair. Sara screams in agony as she is yanked to her feet and drug down the aisle. “We have two orders of business.” The Sin Preacher says walking ahead oblivious to the throng of dead on either side of her. Climbing up the small stage coming to rest behind her podium again. “First ….” She motions into the crowd. The Frankenstein like soldier plods up to join her. “Ma’am yes ma’am.” He calls out falling in a to a parade rest even with his missing limb. “Sargent Glass has been kind enough to supply us with a little information about our current situation and how we may better it.” Ben and Sara are dropped to their knees almost literally face to face with Jamal. The Sin Preacher looks to the soldier only to see rage building in his decaying face. “Sargent is there a problem?” She turns to the big zombie. “Yes Ma’am this coward left me to die!” Sargent Glass advances pointing down at Private Lockett. Sara reels back “Staff Sargent?!” She utters in disbelief. “Do tell Sargent?” The Sin Preacher says a look of concern etched upon her face. The angry zombie closes the distance hopping of the stage in two great strides. “Yeah it’s me you cowardly whore.” He says slapping Sara across the cheek so hard she rolls over into crowd of zombies. “You and your unit hauled ass out of there without looking back.” He shouts standing over as Hobart giggles jumping around like an evil sidekick. “You left us to die we were slaughtered.” He unsheathed a sinister looking combat knife with his remaining hand. “Now Sargent I can see you were wronged ….” The Sin Preacher speaks up. “But let’s not forget that vengeance is mine. I say you will have you vengeance my child but not here not now.” She says dismissively. Sargent Glass looks back at here then down again at Sara as if he was torn by his choices. “You were delivered to us last night for a reason Sargent Come now Sargent tell us of this Operation Bullfrog.” The tension in the zombie’s muscles relax he snaps his combat blade back into its sheath. “Operation Bullfrog …. “ He calls out to the undead gathered around him. “It is a protocol the United States Government put into place during the Cold War.” He joins Miriam on the stage once more. “Operation Bullfrog has gone through many upgrades in the past fifty years. Its primary goal is to ensure that the U.S. Government could communicate in the event of a nuclear attack or any other event that would cause a total communication blackout.” Murmurs from the zombies begin to fill the room. The Sin Preacher raises her hands and they all fall silent at once. “The Bullfrog is a massive all terrain self-sustained mobile combat platform that has a sophisticated satellite array atop of it. Imagine a train comprised of tank like vehicles on steroids that don’t need a tracks. Now there are five Bullfrog units strategically placed across the country. Each one is designed to allow communications to leapfrog from across the country to coordinate any remaining assets in play. There is one not far from us and it was to serve as our forward base of operation from our post at St. George.” The Sin Preacher reaches up placing a hand on the dead man’s shoulder interrupting him. “Now my children the fun part. Each of these vehicles also acts as a pseudo ark of sorts. It ferries any survivors back to its base or burrow as the Sargent told me. These fortified bunkers can hold up to two thousand souls. We will commandeer this behemoth and ride it back down into its burrow delivering my vengeance …..“ “What does that have to do with us we don’t need shelter?” A woman missing most of her scalp call out. “Can you imagine any reason why the Government would want to coordinate its assets?” Glass responds “If they get their shit together it is us … our kind …. “ He pounds his broad chest “…..That they would seek to exterminate. We cannot allow this my brothers and sisters.” He says to the snarls and shouts of the zombies listening to him. “I will not allow this transgression against my people.” The Sin Preacher shouts raising up her hands. “We will take their sword and turn it on them. We will ride the beast down into its lair and bring my word unto the living masses. We will use our weapon to strike down each of its kin for none shall stop the Great Tribulation.” The Sin Preacher brings her voice down several octaves. She slaps the side of the podium with an open palm. “My children take solace for those who turn a deaf ear to me and the salvation I offer. Well they will most assuredly fill your bellies.” The decaying horde of zombies milling about raise their hands skyward falling to their knees.
  The Sin Preacher looks out over the sea of hands watching as her new congregation pledge their devotion to her. The members of First New Faith Baptist church huddled below her in fear “were never this zealous.” She muses as her heart soars filled with a joy so fulfilling Miriam knows this is why she became a preacher. Well she actually became a preacher to piss off those who said she couldn’t mostly but this was a close second. “Now my children it is time it is time for you to take sacrament before you head out to minister my Gospel.” She steps around the podium making her way down to the last tiny stair. She positions herself directly behind Jamal. From here she can visibly see the young man trembling with dread. More importantly she could see Benjamin and Sara’s faces as they looked upon their friend. “Brother Lawson and Brother Hobart please ensure our guest of honor have a clear view of the sacrament.” Hobart wastes no time driving a knee into Sara’s back. The girl reels pitching forward as he throws his full weight on her back. He reaches down grabbing a hand full of her hair yanking her head. Sara cries out her eyes tearing from the pain. She can see the tears she has shed are nothing compared to the cascading stream of tears coating both Jamal’s cheeks. “Well ole Hoss …. “ Ian Lawson squats down next to Ben. “I aint gonna be all over eager like my friend here.” He cocks his head in Hobart’s general direction. “But know this my brother …. “ He comes in close and whispers in Ben’s ear. “If you so much as flinch or turn away at any point. I won’t keep my word my deep dark brother and when I get y’all out away from here. The things I’ll do to you will make you wish you were this camel jockey here.” Ben wretches feeling bile travel up from his stomach. “You understand me boy?” Ian Lawson asks. Ben can only nod his head as he begins to weep uncontrollably. He prays that the salty tears will obscure his vision.
 The Sin Preacher steps down placing a hand on Jamal’s sweaty back. He is shivering so hard she feels as if she has her hand place on a large speaker. She closes her eyes throwing her head back raising her other hand in prayer. The living dead congregation do the same as well. “We take this living sacrament as a show our faith. A bond that shall not be broken as we seek to seize control this new world from the nonbelievers whose mere presence is an abomination before my God almighty. We spill this heathen’s blood as they did in the Old Testament oh Lord that you may see our willingness to slay your enemies.” The room goes quite the only sound is Miriam’s disembodied voice oozing from the PA system over head. “Amen …..” She says opening her eyes after a long pause. “Flesh of my Flesh …. “ She pronounces dipping her head down. She allows her hair to fall over and cover her face tightening her grip on Jamal’s shoulder. By the time Ben’s mind can process the image lain bare before him. The Sin Preacher has her mouth buried in the side of Jamal’s neck. He shakes trying to throw the woman off but to no avail. The Sin Preacher pulls away with a wad of flesh in her mouth. Jamal’s blood spurts out in thick rivulets covering Ben and Sara both. The Sin Preacher staggers backward vigorously masticating the meat in her mouth. She swallows hard her face a mask of pleasure as she wipes her chin dropping more blood on her once white robe. She comes to rest on the stairs of the stage panting like a satisfied whore. “Partake my children ….” With that the dam of savagery burst. The zombies tear at Jamal’s chained body in a frenzy of such ferocity it would make a great white shark jealous. Ben watches in horror as Jamal closes his eyes one last time. The young man vanishes under a pile of screeching zombies. They beset Jamal with teeth, hands and a ravenous sinister hunger. Ben watches the mass of bodies writhing on the floor. A rush of blood seeps from under the snarling zombies. The chewing starts causing Ben to vomit over the crowd of feasting ghouls. They begin to rip Jamal to pieces the whole macabre looks like a group of zombies wrestling in a pool of human viscera. Ben wants to recoil to look away in horror but he doesn’t. Not even when Jamal’s still warm blood washes over his knees flowing at like a small red tidal wave. He catches a glance at Sara as she is bathed in the same flow except she is laying flat on the floor. A female corpse falls inches from Ben she clutches a slab of raw meat hissing like badger. Suddenly Sargent Glass looms over the fallen zombie. He smashes a large black boot into the middle of her face the way one stomps out a cigarette butt. He twists his massive foot mashing down until the dead woman’s head resembles a pulped watermelon. He callously reaches down pulling the prized meat from her still twitching hands. The big dead soldier walks away chewing without looking back. “Brothers take our honored guest and cast them out of my congregation.” “Yes Ma’am …..“ Lawson hoots. “Remember let no harm come to them by your hands my brothers. For God had decreed that they be cast into the wilderness and left to their own devices like Lot.” Ben and Sara are drug from the rear door of the church into the humid night air. Overhead the dark black sky is awash with orange ribbons of light. In the distant thunder rumbles across the back hills of the farm country. Lightening flickers briefly illuminating heavy black rainclouds. Hobart and Lawson take a few seconds to stare in wonder at the orange lights before dragging their captives away in to the night. They make a pit stop at the carport behind the church before setting off into the night.
  Looks like things have come to a fairly disturbing head within the walls of The First New Faith Baptist Church. The Sin Preacher has shown where her loyalties are. Other than Ben and Sara no one under her roof has any idea of the depths of her depravity. As for Ben and Sara they find themselves at the mercy of two psychotic zombies. What will happen next in The Living Dark Comeback the week of November 17th and find out.
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The Living Dark

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chapter 39: A Books Woth of Revelations

Chapter 39: A Books Worth of Revelations


   Ben senses the indignation in him blistering his gut. He clutches the arms of the wooden chair that hold his husky frame. He is ready to leap from his seated position and fall upon manipulative twofaced Sin Preacher. How would he explain to his wife and children that he’d beaten a woman senseless? Right now Ben didn’t give a shit they’d forgive him. “Lady …” Ben thrusts up from the chair his arms quaking. “You’re a fucking nut and I’m …” He hears the hammer cock before he sees the silver revolver in Miriam’s hand. “You’re going to do what Mr. James?” She scoffs flipping her frizzy hair back. “You know what you’re going to do Benjamin?” She asks a sneer drawing across her lips. “You will relent to my demands ….. You will agree to give me the heathen and the fatherless child.” She moves around the corner of the desk. “If you don’t agree to my terms your family will be cast down into the pit. Where they will used as fodder to feed the Unclean and keep the rest of us alive.” Ben swallows hard locking his eyes on the Sin Preacher. He falls back limp into the aging wooden chair which groans in protest. His mind races he attempts to suppress the images of his family’s demise. The idea of his children being devoured by zombies brings a glob of vomit to the back of his throat. “You and that mouthy soldier girl Sara will have to be put down as well.” She keeps just out of reach of the big man. Miriam’s hand clutching the pistol doesn’t waiver. Ben watches the barrel leveled at his head but it is the least of his concern. “I will ask you again Mr. James.” The Sin Preacher speaks through gritted teeth. She was not the same person who picked them up in that field what seems like a lifetime ago. “Will you give me the two members of your party I demand as repayment or will you condemn them all?”


   “Why?!”  Ben croaks. “You never told us there was such a price to pay for your assistance.” He slams a fist down onto her desk but she doesn’t flinch. “Why help us at all? Huh Miriam it appears you had this in mind all along.” The meek woman with the gun shakes her head “No” vigorously. “Look you were in no position to refuse me Benjamin.” The Sin Preacher jabs the pistol in his direction. “My God commands that I help those who cannot help themselves. I wanted you and your people to be a part of what we have here.” She rubs her free hand across her mouth wiping away froth from the corners of her lips. “I simply can’t have that Son of Lot you brought with you in my house of God.” It was Ben’s turn to chuckle. “My wife was right.” He shakes his head giggling softly to himself. “Your ‘House of God” isn’t that an oxymoron?” “Careful Mr. James choose your words very carefully.” The Sin Preacher chides the man before her. “You pretend to speak for God yet you don’t know the true meaning of his words. You don’t know what grace and mercy are. You simply take a gaggle of slack jawed yokels and play on their fears and ignorance.” Ben wonders to himself if she possesses the moxy to do her own dirty work. “What will you do with Jamal and Cammy?” Ben probes sizing the woman up watching her body language. He knows full well he doesn’t want to know what her plans are. “What do you mean when you say ‘fodder’ Miriam?” Miriam breaks eye contact with Ben like a mortified child. She composes herself before speaking. “Your son and companion have already found out by now what I am about to share with you. As they have accompanied Brother Gustavo out on his rounds this morning.” When her eyes find Ben’s again they are as empty as the zombie’s they’ve been fighting the last few days. “I have found a way to distract the ravenous highly intelligent Unclean that hunt during the night. I have Brother Gustavo hang pieces of human meat in various places around the church. This keeps the Unclean preoccupied and fed at night. This way they don’t go roving about thus reducing the risk of them discovering us hidden in here. “You crazy bitch …” Ben blurts beside himself. “You let me send my boy out with that lunatic to feed zombies?!” He screams standing to his feet. “Yes I did Mr. James.” She says coldly. “By the way how did you sleep last night? Were your wife, your kids and your friends safe?” Ben is disgusted at the thought of having paid for his people’s safety with the life of another. “As you can imagine Mr. James this process has a high price and not everyone is willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.” She smiles. “But in this Post Rapture Apocalyptic world Mr. James. There are a few souls who are brave enough. The others … well …” She rolls her eyes. “Well let’s just say that everyone you met in that room across the hall had to offer up a sacrifice to stay here.” Ben’s consciousness darkens at the corners he feels light headed as he fights not to faint. “I will sacrifice that heathen and the baby as well Mr. James if you must know.” The Sin Preacher sighs deeply then fills her lungs with a breath of fresh air. “Either you give me the penance you owe. Then leave here never to return or you and Sara will suffer their fate as well. I’m sure the Olmstead boy will take you all in again or so you can hope.” The Sin Preacher grasp the handle of the revolver with both hands. She steadies her aim taking a shooter’s stance. “Now stop stalling and answer the fucking question.” She shouts shivering with self-righteous outrage. Ben’s lips quiver as he starts to speak. “I ….. I can’t …. I won’t.” As he whispers a single tear pools up in his right eye spilling slowly down his cheek. “In this new world Mr. James cowardice is lethal.” The Sin Preacher and Benjamin stare one another down. “I knew you lacked the conviction to make the right choice Ben.” She shakes her head as she speaks. “Colonel …” She yells out never taking her eyes or the gun barrel off Ben. The door burst open the big brute known as Colonel leads the way. He is dragging Private Lockett roughly into the room. Ben stands to his feet without hesitation turning to face Colonel. “Now Mr. James I assure you that remaining calm is in your best interest. He gazes back over his shoulder eyes dripping hatred but he doesn’t move. Sara fights in protest the whole way but the man is almost three times her size and her hands are zip tied behind her back. He flings her to the dusty floor all the while smiling in Ben’s general direction. Sara looks up from the floor in her brown eyes is a look of sorrow. Ben had never seen her so humbled and unsure of herself. The swelling under her right eye spoke volumes she didn’t have to say a word. “Morning Mr. James.” Colonel winks from across the room pointing a large pistol down at Lockett’s face. Behind them BC and Jim Hosstrum drag Jamal into the room and pin him down like police officers. Following everyone Silas Proctor waddles in clutching a screaming baby Cammy to his doughy chest. He looked to be having more trouble with his load than anyone else. Ben reels from a blow to the back of his head. He wobbles a bit before falling to his knees. The Sin Preacher steps up close to finish beating Ben into submission. Miriam does this with an arching blow to the base of his skull with the butt of the revolver. A man who had been gathered around the church members in the basement earlier reaches in a closes the door to the Preacher’s office. Ben fades quickly into unconsciousness.


   Several hours later their task for the day complete Brother Gustavo leads the two young men back into the basement of First New Faith Baptist church. He trots down the steps with purpose. His mind awash in confusion as he questions everything he thought he knew. “The Bible is all I have…” He thinks to himself raking his gangly fingers through the dense mop of black hair atop his head. Chip was behind him having popped a wheelie at the top of the short flight of stairs. He used his well-toned arms to navigate the creaky wooden stairs one at a time with the large rear wheels of his chair. “Chip you know I’ll help you bro seriously.” Private Carson says bringing up the rear guard closing the door behind himself. “No thanks man unlike hopping into the rear of a monster truck …. “ Chip huffs I’ve done this a time or two before.” Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs and rounding the corner they are greeted by a blockade of men. “Brother Gustavo and guests …” A man sporting a tattered green and yellow John Deere baseball cap speaks up. “The Sin Preacher wants to see y’all in her office immediately.” He annunciates through a thick country accent. Brother Gustavo doesn’t break stride turning right into the open doorway. Chip rolls in right after him as well. The sound of a scuffle breaks out “hey what the hell?” Chip shouts spinning around he watches the men spring on Private Carson. He prods his chair towards the group drawing his “Lucky Mallet” the pistol in his pocket long since forgotten in the panic. The young soldier is quickly disarmed by the quartet of farmers. That doesn’t stop the assault they pummel Carson into submission with fist and feet. Chip draws back his mallet ready to strike rolling freely in direction of the scuffle. His momentum is suddenly halted from the rear. He feels himself being whirled around then dumped from his wheelchair to the floor. Chip tumbles to rest on the musty old green carpet. Tossing his hair from over his face he looks up in time to see Silas Proctor throw his wheelchair aside. Most of the church men present chuckle out loud at the handicapped boy on the floor. “Pastor …. Pastor.” Gustavo beckons to his spiritual leader. “I have some questions Pastor.” He continues oblivious to the scene in the room. He has tunnel vision as he walks towards Miriam who is now holding baby Dakota. “Not now Brother Gustavo we have other matters to attend to.” She holds up her hand with the pistol while bouncing the baby girl on her hip. “But Pastor this cannot wait please I must …” “Silence Brother.” She interrupts stomping her foot in anger. “I said we have church business to attend to that is of a pressing nature.” Gustavo reels back on instinct upon witnessing Miriam’s emotional upheaval. He feels a spiritual shift in his perception of The Sin Preacher. In much the same way a child views a trusted adult who has abused them.


   Chip scans the floor finding his hammer a few inches in front of where he had come to rest. His eyes fall upon large heap laying in front of a shabby desk. “Dad?” He ask raising up on his hands in a panic. “Dad!” Chip screams pulling his body over to his father his mostly lame legs trail him like a lizard’s tail. Silas steps in blocking his path looming over the boy who can only crawl. “Not so funny now are you boy?” Silas looks down grinning his yellow teeth looking like old fence slats. “Where’s all ya jokes now that I gotcha crawlin’ round the floor cripple?” He places a booted foot down painfully on Chip’s hand. Causing the boy to cry out and roll over onto his back. Chip watches as a bloodied but defiant Private Carson is lifted to his feet by the men. His hands are tied behind his back with a thick length of tightly braided rope. They prop Carson against the wall two of the men lean into his back jamming him in place. The movement in the corner of his eye startles Chip. On his left Sara sits Indian style her face swollen on one side. The man they all called “Colonel” has a watchful eye on her. To his right he observes Jamal his face streaked with tears and blood. Jamal’s face is a pitiful portrait blood flows from his spilt bottom lip. His left eye is only a slit having swollen most of the way shut. “Hey up here boy.” Silas taps his toe against Chip’s shoulder. “Not so high and mighty now without all ya back up. Well looks like ‘Captain Chubby’ got the last laugh.” Silas looks back at The Sin Preacher hoping she won’t cut his fun short. “Tell me boy how does it feel to have to crawl ‘round like some kinda animal on the floor?” He throws his head back laughing so hard his portly body shakes with glee. “You tell me …” Chip mutters in a flash he grabs the mallet from floor. He strikes so fast Silas is wailing before he knows his kneecap has been dislocated by a vicious blow from the hammer. The room is still as Silas topples down on his damaged knee bringing fresh howls of agony. Baby Cammy takes this time to start crying as babies do when someone around them cries. Having reduced to blabbering idiot to his level Chip doesn’t hesitate. His next blow drives the rubber mallets head into Silas Proctors jaw. Amid the blood spray half a dozen of the man’s teeth clatter to the floor like dice. Proctor falls to the floor senseless mere feet from Ben. Chip watches a man blot from his right not waiting he pivots on his hands. Chip brings the hammer down on the man’s foot before he can react to the pain in his foot. Chip punches out with his empty hand connecting with the man’s testicles. “For Christ sake.” Colonel yelps in frustration jamming his pistol into his waistband. “He a got damn feeble!” The Colonel moves in to bring Chip’s irritating rebellion to an end. He pays no mind to Private Lockett. That is until he feels the savage kick to his exposed kidney from the steel toed boot. Sara rocks the man with a second kick to the back before leaping into the air driving her knees down hard as she lands on the old soldier. Carson aware of his captor’s distraction uses one of his muscular legs to push off against the wall. He drives the two smaller men backwards with his shoulder smashing them into a wall. They all hit the wall unleashing a shower of glass from a full length mirror. “Enough!” The Sin Preacher announces. The room falls silent at once as she walks into the center of the fray. She holds the chrome pistol menacingly close to the infant’s temple. “Cease this non sense this instant.” She demands. “With God as my witness if either of you three move I will start with this child and finish with Mr. James on the floor over there.” She looks around the room at her battered and bewildered forces. “You men of First New Faith I thought you could handle such a simple task. They are but children secure them this instant.” The men scurry about with their heads hung low. “Colonel remain here with me.” She uses the gun to control the flow of traffic like a symphony director. “You all take the infirmed boy, his wheelchair and the big one back there.” The Sin Preacher points in Carson’s general direction. “Cast them down in the pit with the unworthy and the rest of their companions.” The men set about doing as they were instructed. “What of Brother Proctor Madam Sin Preacher?” The remaining man guarding Jamal asks. “Drag him out of my office and have the women tend to him.” She rolls her eyes as if talking to the man is causing her physical pain. “Brother Gustavo assist Brother Green in hauling Brother Proctor away.” She fixes him with a hard stare. Brother Gustavo relents moving over slowly taking the obese man by his ankles. He treats the still living Silas no different than one of the corpses he handles. He drags the man away moaning softly while spitting up wads of mucus infused blood. As the bit characters exit the room they close the door. The Sin Preacher and Colonel are left with their chosen prisoners from the James clan.


     The Sin Preacher looks down at Benjamin James as he lays lifeless on the floor. She steps over his body cradling baby Cammy. Walking over to Jamal who lays bound and beaten on the floor. He slinks back further into the shadows like a scalded dog. “Oh don’t you worry heathen you can’t hide from your evil ways.” She spits on the young man huddled in the corner. “What will we do with them Sin Preacher?” Colonel asks from the other side of the room. Where he stands with his damaged left hand pressed against his side wincing in pain. Miriam comes about facing the man as he kneels down using his free hand to restrain Lockett on the floor. “We ….” The Sin Preacher ask comically. “We … you damn near couldn’t handle two Privates and a lame teenage boy.” She snaps “Colonel” making sure to emphasize the self-generated pseudonym. Anger flows over Colonel’s handsome face. “But Preacher if I had more disciplined men I …” Miriam raises her hand silencing the man. “Look I’m not putting this up for debate and you have to be accountable for you own actions in the eyes of the Lord.” Colonel hangs his head bearing the weight and shame of failing his leader. “The Congregation will decide their fate Colonel not you not I.” The Sin Preacher strolls slowly over to her cot tickling baby Cammy’s Chin. The baby coos back at the demented woman as she placed down into a hastily made nest of blankets. “Hey … bitch.” Sara wheezes from under Colonel’s weight. “Yes Private.” The Sin Preacher replies pressing her thin glasses back up over her nose. “We aren’t done here.” Sara explains squirming on about the floor attempting look the Sin Preacher in the face. Miriam stands over Private Sara Lockett glaring down at her. “Child you have no idea how far away from done I am.” She sets her pistol down on her desk before turning to sit on its chipped edge. “Colonel perhaps you could gag all of our friends here and maybe just maybe start rebuilding you value to the congregation. God can clearly see your shame as can I and he is displeased brother.” Colonel resolves himself to being a better servant. He quivers anger boiling up in him like a pot on a stove. “Yes Sin Preacher.” He growls coming to his feet hefting Sara up off the floor her hands bound behind her back. Colonel tosses her as if she’s no more than a wet sandbag. Sara lands next to Ben with a “thud” knocking the breath from her lungs.

    First off an apology for the delay in posting the new chapter. Real life has a way of complicating the fun we have navigating our favorite survivors through the zombie apocalypse from time to time.
Now moving on we are back in the First New Faith Baptist Church and we thought that Brother Gustavo's behaviors were odd. We and the James clan have found out how truly insidious The Sin Preacher's motives are. Ben has refused to give up Baby Cammy  Jamal and it now appears he's sealed his fate and Private Lockett's as well.
     We'll see you all back here for an explosive Chapter 40 the week of September 22nd.
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