Sunday, July 23, 2017
Chapter 26 - Back Into the Frying Pan
Three days later, Wendell found himself in a chillingly familiar spot. Like a horrifying case of déjà vu, he was once again standing in with a group of other men, waiting for the stupefying doughnut to be passed.
He hadn't been re-captured, but secretly slipped in with the enemy ranks filing into the grand hall - as the three teens dubbed the place. Of the group, Wendell was the one most likely to foolishly fling himself into the jaws of certain death in order to take the enemy off guard. Yet this plan made even him a little edgy.
To get oneself kidnapped and dragged into a hoard of mentally twisted bloodthirsty killers was a forgivable accident in his mind. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Yet to willingly return there...? That was crazy to a whole new order of magnitude.
He'd protested the insane plan, of course, but in the end there were only two options:
First, to somehow evade the zomboid troops prowling the countryside for them, and then hope that the authorities weren't in the pay of Seebeck and would actually believe them. Second, to take down the well-dressed evil overlord themselves.
That seemed to be the more reasonable. There was only one Seebeck, after all. Then confusion would rule the leaderless zombie horde, allowing the three to escape unscathed in the chaos. ... Probably.
It wasn't the "probably" of that plan bothered Wendell so much. It was the psychotropic pastry that the server now held out before him.
Wendell's hand shook as he reached out for it.
For the first time in his recollection, there was something the food-obsessed teen didn't want to eat.
If you get me out of this, Lord, I'm never eating another doughnut again. Wendell mentally lied.
The master stopped and banged his staff on the stage floor just as he'd done the previous time and raised his hands high.
Everyone raised their doughnut.
Wendell raised his doughnut.
The MC dropped his hands.
Everyone ate his doughnut.
Wendell ate his doughnut...!
People started to groan. Some doubled over and clutched their stomach.
Wendell did both.
It gave good cover as the laced doughnut slide down his sleeve, just like the community theater magician he'd learned the trick from.
(The one he'd eaten was completely clean - a decoy stolen from the relatively low-security kitchen fresh out of the fryer.)
As the server turned away, Wendell's hand returned to his side, letting the drugged doughnut roll back into his hand. It went smoothly into his front pants pocket and was smashed flat so as not to create a bulge.
Even though he knew where it had come from, Wendell's subconscious nagged him with frightening questions. Am I really sure they were doping them after cooking? Am I becoming one of them? How would I know? Does my stomach really hurt? Wait! What's that? A tingle in my foot! Oh no! It's starting! (I think.) (Maybe.)
His paranoia was interrupted by the call to march. He staggered along with them, doing his best to look glassy-eyed and mind-controlled. (All the while hoping that he was only pretending.)
Ultimately, he was split off from the herd along with several other new recruits, this time not en route for the prison, but instead following a tall senior officer with a mustache.
They were marched to a secure depot and fitted out with uniforms, kit, and best of all... weapons!
The mustache checked his clipboard. "Congratulations. You are now called unit 302. You will report to Sargent Smith in sector A-19 and obey all orders with out hesitation."
"Yes, SIR!" shouted the crowd.
Wendell was a little late on the uptake and said "sir" a full beat later than the rest.
The irony of the words "without hesitation" made the mistake seem especially bad. I hope he doesn't make me do push-ups for that.
Then he remembered that this bunch had harsher punishments than push-ups. He shuddered.
The new troop fell out behind the 'Stashe, presumably en route to sector A-19. Wendell made sure he was at the back of the line, for he had another destination in mind.
Misty's arms must be getting tired by now.