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.
“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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