Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 24

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Katie looked tired, or drugged, or both. James wasn’t sure, but she needed help. She didn’t deserve this prison, these tests, her… condition. My dad did this to her. He knew it and he did it. He’s a monster.

“My dad? My dad sent you? Who are you?” Katie said.

“My name is Jim and like I said, your dad sent me. Kind of,” he said, moving over to the bed and undoing the bonds that held her hands to the bed. There was an IV in her arm and he stared at it a moment before following the tube back to its bag, but the bag had no label. He had no idea if it was just a hydration IV or if it was something… else. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 23

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The door was huge. The ‘pop’ she’d heard was just the first unsealing mechanism and steam or some sort of gas escaped along its edge. She wasn’t sure what it was so she kept her breath held. There was a gas mask in her pack, but she’d forgotten all about it. Making a mental note to add that to her normal suit-up sequence, she waited while the door opened.

As it separated from its seal, Lindsay saw a swirl of white gas. She hesitated on the edge of it, reluctant to step through. She turned to look at Holden but his face was masked from her, covered by the darkness. All she saw was the glow of his goggles.

“It’s all right, it’s just water vapor,” the mechanized voice called from within the white gas. “It won’t hurt you.” Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 22

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James did his best to keep his expression neutral. The things before him were not men, not anymore, yet they spoke and responded when spoken to. They stood at attention down in one of the lab rooms, one that was converted into a ready room. They wore Black Dawn uniforms, the patches on their shoulders, but these were not, could not be, his comrades.

“Do you see the beauty of God’s Plan, son?” Gideon Fitzpatrick said, standing beside him. His father’s smile was proud, radiant, triumphant. James didn’t see anything of God in these men. He saw Hell, death, a lack of humanity. They were sick and dying.

“It’s impressive, dad,” James said. The lie tasted like ash in his mouth. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 21

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She descended into Hell.

Until this moment, Lindsay thought she knew what Hell looked like. Burned towns, dozens of dead bodies, the Undead trying to kill everyone she cared about. Men dying from crushed throats.

None of it compared. The horror that waited in the dark burned itself into Lindsay’s memory. It wasn’t the Undead that littered the ground, or the smell of rot and decay, or even the desiccated corpses left behind by the Infected, but the dead who lay among them.

Once the soldiers dispatched the Infected, they’d begun burning chemical lights for illumination. What they revealed were hundreds of forms covered by plastic sheets. The sheets were sealed to the floor, preserving the contents within. When Lindsay approached, she saw the sheets had small windows at one end.

All of them had the faces of the dead beneath. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 20

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James waited for over an hour in the briefing room. The men waiting with him were both armed. He knew their names but he really didn’t know the men themselves. One was named Tom and the other Bradley, at least he thought they were. Neither tried to make small talk.

What he’d seen down in the labs he couldn’t reconcile. Why were they keeping people in those closets? Why were they held like animals? Why did they move Chris out of the main cells like that? Who were those people in the testing rooms?

Was it all true? Were they infecting people on purpose? Chris said they were trying to turn it into a weapon but why? The world was already dying, why kill it more? And what had he said about his daughter? They’d infected his daughter? Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 19

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They gave Lindsay back her armor and rifle, though without Katie’s help, she had trouble remembering how it all went together. She refused to ask for help from any of these people though and managed the forearm, shin and chest armor after a short time. It felt heavy and awkward, like she’d forgotten to tighten something. It was too long in the chest and she briefly wondered if they’d given her Katie’s armor. She hoped they did.

The rifle she knew better. The little carbine was light but still heavy enough to feel powerful in her hands. A tactical strap went over her head and under her arm, holding it ready to use but also secure if she needed her hands. With the squeeze of her finger, she could have killed those men at the radio station with this weapon. Instead she’d stabbed one to death and crushed the throat of another. She’d done that. Lindsay Volk, Mount Hope High School Senior had killed two men brutally and without remorse. That lack of feeling still scared her. It was like something inside of her was numb and cold.

“Ready to go?” a gruff voice said behind her. She turned, seeing the man called Holden standing there in the doorway of the armory. He wore an all black uniform, body armor, and helmet with a strange goggle-like protrusion on it. Only the patch on his shoulder was white, though a black half-circle broke the white field in half. A black sun rising over a white field. She wondered why they’d chosen such an ominous name. Black Dawn.

It sounded evil. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 18

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James paced the small room, occasionally banging on the door with the heel of his palm. The first few times, one of the men outside opened it and asked what he wanted. When he said he wanted to leave, they just shut the door again. He really wished he had a window like Janine did. He could have squeezed out of it, maybe.

Time passed without word from anyone. His meals were brought to him twice a day, at least he believed it was twice a day. I really am a fucking prisoner, he thought over and over. He began to demand that his father see him. That he be allowed to speak with him. Neither request was granted. After five meals went by, James felt like he was going mad.

He lay on his cot, rereading Glyphbinder for the twenty-third time and regretting not buying the sequels, when there came a knock on the door. One of his guards announced he had a visitor and, expecting it to be his father, James stood up and prepared his tirade. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 17

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Infected. Katie was infected. That was what the doctor woman said. Her friend was infected. Her Katie. No. No no no.

Lindsay spent days trying to see her, trying to get out of bed and find her, to help somehow. Maybe if they did a blood transfusion? Maybe if… maybe…

In the end she couldn’t get out of the room. Even though she felt stronger and her wound barely pained her anymore, the metal door remained locked from the outside. The doctor woman, Major Richards, came to check on her every four hours. She brought her books and an old tablet to watch some movies on. None of it helped alleviate the urgency to get out and find Katie. She partially marveled at her own recovery speed, how the pain in her shoulder went away after just 48 hours. She figured maybe it was painkillers. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 16

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“You want me to do what?” Bubbles said.

She sat up in the bed, still naked from their lovemaking. The sheets pooled around her waist and legs and she didn’t bother holding them up to cover herself. James tried not to stare too much. He cleared his throat.

“I uh, want you to chat with your ex-boyfriend and find out where they took someone.”

“And just why would I do that?” she said, running a hand through her dark hair. There was a fresh scar across her ribs, white and angry in the dim light from a lone window. Continue reading

Dark Winter: Book 2 – Chapter 15

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Lindsay’s life became flashes of light, rough hands, explosions, and ringing ears. The hood made her blind and the zip-ties on her wrists kept her stumbling and helpless. Someone was guiding her, a strong hand on her shoulder. They shoved her, then stopped her, then shoved again. Sometimes they would drag her to the ground.

She was outside now and felt the cold on her exposed skin. Someone wrapped a jacket around her and zipped it up, trapping her arms inside. The wind was so cold that it ripped the breath from her, even inside the hood.

Gunfire. She was pulled to the ground again, held there by unseen hands. Something exploded. She could feel the pressure change, like a giant sucking out all the air. Then her ears hurt, a blazing pain in her head. They popped and she coughed. Smoke and something like burned meat filled her nostrils. She heard someone screaming and it took several seconds to realize she was doing it, calling for Katie. The only answer was gunfire, close, making her ears ring louder and louder. Each bullet a tiny nova inside her skull. Continue reading