Writer of Horror Fiction

Dark Stories: Michael and Cindy, Part II

This is the last of the Michael and Cindy Dark Stories, and this one takes place immediately after the argument that takes place between Michael, Jeff, and George about Jason leaving with them to go to Manchester to collect supplies.  I thought this one would give you one last look into the twisted relationship these two have, as well as Michael’s paranoia about those around him.

There are a few more stories to tell, including one about Ben, the teens, and even Sadie, the little girl in the camp.  So stay tuned for those.

 

Michael and Cindy Part II

“What a bunch of pathetic wussies.  They make me sick.”

“Tsk, tsk dear.  Such harsh language.”

Cindy shifted her gaze from the curtain and focused on Michael as he sat at the table reassembling the M16 he’d decided to clean yet again before going on the hunt.

“Ya know, you keep rubbing that gun like that and you’ll go blind.”  She slinked over to him, her body lithe and sinewy.  She was a predator, a jungle cat on the prowl.  She treated most men, including Michael, like prey.  They were either food or sex, nothing more.  That was why when most men caught Cindy’s attention they usually did their best to divert their eyes and look away.  They seemed to know that to her they were just meat, pure and simple.

“And if you keep wishing such ill will on others you won’t get into heaven.”

Cindy almost laughed, but instead continued creeping up on her boyfriend.  Michael was definitely sex to her, but also food.  She craved him like meat, like a meal that could never completely sate her hunger, so she had to continue to hunt and devour him, over and over again.  She slithered to the floor and moved her hand over his combat boot, sliding it underneath his camouflaged pants.  Blocked at the bend in the knee, her hand hovered just below it scratching at his calf with her ragged fingernails.

Michael ignored Cindy as he finished reassembling the weapon.  After a second he admired his work and nodded in satisfaction.  He was getting more proficient at taking care of the rifle.  He’d searched around and managed to find a manual covering the how-to’s of field stripping and maintaining it in a bookstore he’d come across during the group’s travels.

As much as he had every intention of keeping it operational, the fact that he’d acquired only two thirty round clips with it, one of which was only partially full, meant that he had very little desire to use the M16.  It was more a symbol of his authority than anything.

He’d squeezed off a few rounds in automatic mode a while back, just to convince himself that it did indeed work and when the time came he could put it to use.  Other than that all he did was keep it clean and ready to go.  There would be time to acquire more rounds.  After all, there had to be tons of munitions floating around these days, it was just a matter of venturing into an area where soldiers had been stationed that wasn’t currently overrun by the undead.  Until then, the rifle would continue to serve its purpose as his staff of office.

He grinned as he flashed back to how he had acquired it.  It had been a shame, a real shame, that the soldier had been unwilling to surrender the weapon.  The boy had been brave, but he was injured, and in a bit of a jam.  He had required a bit of extreme persuasion, as Michael liked to think of it, to finally relinquish his rifle and sidearm.  Desperate times called for desperate measures …

Michael’s daydream was shattered by the sensation of sharp fingernails digging into his lower leg and a warm trickle of blood running down his calf.

Cindy was looking up at him, her head leaning against his leg.  Michael glanced at her, but despite the pain she was inflicting, he continued smiling at the M16.  Yes, it had taken quite a bit to get the damn thing, but it had been worth it.

“If you don’t ravage me soon, I am going to take that thing away from you and use it to get off.”

“Well that would be something to see.  It’d be even better if you let me pull the trigger while you did it.”

Michael caught Cindy’s fist before it could connect with his crotch.  He had no doubt that she would have hit him so hard he wouldn’t be able to stand up straight for a week.  He twisted her wrist until she gasped in pain.  As usual, it sounded more like a moan of pleasure coming from her lips.

He gritted his teeth as she dug the nails even deeper into the meat of his lower leg.  Michael knew no matter how much he twisted Cindy’s wrist, she would keep digging, even if he went so far as to snap the slender bones in her arm.  It was a tempting proposition, but with no doctors around he couldn’t take things that that far.  Still, the idea of putting the certifiably insane girl out of commission for a while was tempting.

Standing up abruptly, Michael flung her arm away with a sharp kick of his leg.  Before she could react he brought his knee up and slammed it against Cindy’s chest, forcing her to the ground.

Gasping for air, her eyes widened in surprise.  When she was able to breathe again, a knowing smiled appeared on Cindy’s lips.

“Maybe now I’ll finally get some attention.”

Michael glared down at her, angry again.  After what had happened outside with George and Jeff, he needed an outlet for the rage building up inside of him.  How convenient for him that Cindy was always available, willing to scratch any itch he might have.

*

Perhaps what had happened outside should be considered a moral victory.  At least on the surface, it appeared that way.  Everyone had been watching as Jeff had gotten flustered when he couldn’t persuade Michael to let Jason stay in the camp.  He’d been forced to demand that the boy be left behind when they went into town, which would have ended very badly for Jeff if he had remained obstinate.  That is, if George hadn’t butted in.

The final result, though unexpected, was a pleasant surprise.  George had committed to staying with them, which wasn’t what Michael had expected to get out of him.  Not in a million years, and certainly not voluntarily.  The deal George offered was one Michael was more than willing to make.

The plan had been to dress down Jeff, make him sweat a bit, and make it abundantly clear who was in charge so there wouldn’t be any more opportunities for them to butt heads.  Jeff would know his place and would be content from then on in following orders.  Backing him into a corner should have been easy, with just a little bit of help from his friends.  Megan was never going to allow Jason to leave the camp and it was Jeff’s duty to enforce her wishes.  In the end, Jeff was backed into a corner, but George’s little outburst had pulled his bacon out of the fire.

Looking back on the spat was amusing.  Michael could care less about whether or not Jason went with them.  When the conversation first started even Frank seemed to question the value of having a twelve year old going out with them, but even someone as dense as that fat hick was able to pick up on what Michael was trying to do after a few minutes and kept his big yap shut, except to tease George and Megan.

Jason was just another pawn to Michael.  It appeared that Jeff was really the only other person who picked up on that little detail.  Perhaps George and Megan had suspected, but they let their emotions get in the way, which was exactly what Michael had hoped for.  The kid liked Michael, and that made him pretty damn easy to manipulate.  Since none of the adult newcomers seemed to have much fondness for the camp’s leader, resorting to using the kid was the natural choice for sorting things out and clearing the air as to who was in charge.

Jason would be useful again later on.  He was probably mad at everyone at the moment, including Michael, but he would get over it.  Kids were resilient like that.  All it would take would be a few more gentle reminders that he had to stand on his own two feet and needed to act like a man.  He couldn’t allow the adults in the group to coddle him like a little baby anymore.  With a few well placed words, Jason would ditch the others entirely and be as loyal to Michael as Frank and Marcus.

Jason’s destiny was to drive a wedge between Megan and the two other men.  The subject of the boy would be a hot topic amongst them from now on and sooner or later they would not see eye to eye on how to deal with the rebellious preteen.  As they argued, it would be easy to chip away at their loyalty to one another.  In time, one of them would decide they were better off offering up their loyalties to Michael, who was the one providing them with shelter and food, rather than the other two troublemakers, who were just stirring up shit and doing little else that was productive.  It was just a matter of letting them fall apart on their own, with a few well placed nudges, of course.

It would all work out, but there was still something that bothered Michael.  Something about what had happened outside that tasted foul on his tongue—like fruit that had started to ferment a little too quickly.  Something was not right.

George had shown some backbone, which was far more than Michael thought the dumb bastard was capable of.  George was supposed to be some miserable wimp pining away for his family, so it came as a big surprise when he agreed to stay at the camp to avoid putting Jason in any sort of danger.  Even more surprising were the threats he’d uttered.  Michael had to admit that it had unnerved him—not because George was so big and scary.  Michael had taken down bigger foes in the past.  Instead, it was what he had seen in the big man’s eyes: there was no bluffing there.  George had every intention of killing Michael if he continued pushing him.

Despite that, there was a simple answer to the George dilemma: he would have to be watched and watched carefully.  The old man would fly the coup if he was certain the boy was safe and secure here and the opportunity to escape presented itself.  But more important than making sure he stayed put was getting him to behave.  That might require poking and prodding him into a fight.  It would give Michael a chance to break the old man down and sap his will to rebel just a little bit.  And if that did not work, more drastic measures might be in order …

But as much as George might end up being a headache, he would be easy to deal with—he was a minor nuisance at most.  George was not the one bothering him.  Jeff was.

Michael had seen his type before: the reluctant leader.  Jeff did not crave power, at least not in the form of authority over others.  He was the type that preferred staying behind the scenes, doing his own thing, and would only step up when he was forced to.  He wasn’t fearless, but like so many other people, he had probably lost everything and figured he didn’t have any real reasons left to be afraid anymore.

So the trick, as Michael saw it, was to give Jeff a few reasons to be afraid once again.

Jason had told Michael a bit about the group.  About how he and George had spent most of their time stuck in some church, and then all the excitement that had occurred over the past couple of days, ever since Jeff and Megan had shown up in their minivan.  Michael had gotten a few juicy tidbits from the stories the boy had told, enough to use against Jeff and George when they’d argued earlier, but he needed more information on the newcomers.  Lydia was the one who’d spent the most amount of time with Megan and Jeff since they’d gotten here.  Michael would need to have a long discussion with her about what they’d shared with her after they returned from the supply run.  If anyone in the camp was non-threatening enough to open up to, it was Lydia.  She was good at keeping secrets, but with a little sweet talk there was no doubt she would reveal things to Michael about her new friends.

Getting to know Jeff better would allow Michael to know what made him tick.  There was no doubt he’d lost his family over the past few weeks.  The thousand-yard stare confirmed that much.  And when he’d stood up for himself outside, and given the ultimatum about Jason staying inside the camp … well, that had been a bit of surprise.

He would have never thought the other man had it in him.  Jeff was soft, not a brawler of any sort.  Unless he was hiding some sort of ex-military commando existence behind his bland exterior, Michael knew he could easily take Jeff down in a fight.  More importantly, Jeff knew that as well.  People like him avoided physical confrontations like the plague.  Jeff was just an average dude who had been a family man once upon a time.  Michael did his best to try to understand it.  Jeff had to know that Michael was younger, faster, and stronger than him, plus he had all the weapons.  So why risk getting his nuts squashed?  The whole idea went against the grain.  Jeff had probably lived his whole existence going with the flow, not rocking the boat.  He lived a dull, unexceptional life, kept his nose clean, and obeyed all the laws … just like 99.9% of the other slobs out there.

As Michael continued to mull Jeff over, another possibility occurred to him.  Maybe Jeff was willing to get a few teeth knocked in, just to show everyone he wasn’t a coward, and that Michael needed brute force to maintain control over the camp.  Jeff would have been beaten, but Michael would have lost the respect of some of the camp members.

Oh you son of a bitch.  You sly, sly son of a bitch.  You almost had me, you cock sucker.

There was a small sense of satisfaction at having rooted out the trickster’s plan, but it was surrounded by doubt.  Was that really Jeff’s intention?  Was he willing to get bloodied to prove a point?  George had stepped in and changed things with his declaration, which left Jeff’s real intention a mystery.  All Michael knew was that there was no way that motherfucker was going to undermine his authority.  No way in hell.  Others had tried before and he had dealt with them—it was one of those ugly responsibilities that came with the burden of leadership.  His father had taught him that.  “Make a good enough example out of a troublemaker and the others will think twice before they cross you.”

Jeff was just another liability that would be dealt with soon enough.  Michael just needed to get a better fix on him, so he could find out the best way to make him behave.

*

Perhaps if Michael had bothered looking out the window of the Winnebago at that moment, he would have seen Jeff and Megan consoling one another, which might have given him some ideas of how he could keep Jeff in line.  Instead, his thoughts shifted back to Cindy as he stared down at her, his knee still on her chest.  In that moment he felt the closest thing to love for her that he could possibly could.  She had allowed him to see things in ways he had never seen them before.  Everything was … easier now.

Without her he was a good leader, but with her he was a leader that understood that he always needed to be consolidating his power and eliminating elements that would seek to undermine him.  He knew the sensation he felt was not really love; it was more like gratitude.  An appreciation for the woman who had unearthed in him the feelings and passion that drove him.  He grew more excited as he continued gazing at her.

The resentment and regret that always seemed to creep up on him when he thought too much about her had dissipated, as it always did.  It seemed foolish not to embrace the power he felt because of what Cindy had done for him, what she had shown him.

He slapped her across her jaw as a grin surfaced on his face.  He watched as the side of his girlfriend’s face slammed into the carpeted floor of the RV.

Cindy felt dazed, but knew once again that Michael was just getting warmed up.  It made her shiver with excitement.  He was getting closer to losing control with the others like he did with her.  He’d nearly gotten into a fight with both George and Jeff instead of trying to be diplomatic, which was how he used to handle things like that.  Not anymore.  He’d used that brat Jason to get his way, and it had stirred up shit with that bitch Megan, as well Jeff and George.  What had happened outside was a tantalizing tease and there was a good chance that Michael would come to blows with one or both of the new men in the next couple of days.

The idea of it nearly sent Cindy over the edge with excitement.  She loved seeing the hate boil up behind her man’s eyes.  It wouldn’t be long before he stopped trying to restrain himself and let go.  It would be a beautiful sight to see when he did.

She licked at the small trickle of blood that came from her split lip and returned Michael’s smile.

 

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