Read the first episode here.

Chapter 6 – Rachel Holbrook


They couldn’t be real. None of this could be real. This was all just some sick, prolonged nightmare, and she just needed to wake her ass up.


“Wake up, Rachel. Wake up,” she whispered.


But, she didn’t wake up. That little voice in her head was screaming at her that this was no dream. A nightmare–yes. But, she was definitely awake.


One, two, three… Eight. Eight of those things that shouldn’t be there were plodding across the street, heading directly for the diner. Voids in the shape of men and eyes without signals. With every step, they bared their obsidian fangs a little more, and their talons twitched in anticipation.


Rachel’s body trembled as every joint locked into place and every muscled tensed. Before she knew it, her blouse was drenched and her eyes were begging her to blink, filling to the brim with tears. If there was noise around her, she couldn’t tell; it was drowned out by the thumping in her chest. Something was tugging at her arm. She looked down to see her brother’s eyes staring up at her, pleading for help. Hadley’s lips moved, but it was a few seconds before Rachel came to enough to hear her.


“Aunt Rachel, it’s them. They’re here. What do we do?”


Rachel turned to where Frank had been standing a few moments before and saw him on his knees reaching for something underneath the booth. He pulled out a two-by-four and thrust it into the handle of the door. He ran around, turning all of the lights in the dining area off before he stopped and spoke to the group.


“Ok, everyone, keep away from the door and windows. Stay together. And no matter what, don’t let them get their hands on you.”


“Don’t let them get their hands on you,” asked Carter as they all made their way to the bar. “Am I to assume these… things are hostile?”


Rachel looked at Frank, already knowing the answer to the question. They were certainly hostile in her dream.


“They’re not friendly, that’s for sure,” said Frank. “Usually they’ll just bang and scratch on the boards and stare at you for a while before they leave. They normally don’t get too violent unless you start attacking them or they think there’s a good chance they’ll get you.”


“Normally,” Carter repeated. Rachel had caught that, too.


The entire group was now huddled around the bar. Through the cracks in the boards, Rachel could see the monsters outside had advanced across the road, now only a hundred feet away. They had spread out a little more, probably intending to surround the diner. Random muscles twitched around Rachel’s body. Her hands balled in and out. She needed a solution. She needed to tell someone to take care of it. But, how could she say that when she didn’t know what was going on? How could she control a situation she didn’t understand?


“Normally, yes,” Frank said. “There have been times when they start out more aggressive.”


“Frank, are there any weapons in here,” asked Carter. His face was stern, as if he was ready for violence.


“Eliza,” Frank said, turning to his wife. She pulled out a shotgun and baseball bat from under the bar and put them on top of the counter. “You take the shotgun,” Frank said to her, “and I’ll take the bat. Take a couple people down to the cellar. There should be some hammers, a crowbar, an axe, and plenty of two-by-fours.”


“Why don’t we all just go to the cellar and stay there,” asked the bus driver.


“No, it’s a bottleneck,” Frank answered. “If they get in here and manage to break down that door, there’ll be no way out.” He grabbed the baseball bat as Eliza grabbed the gun. “A couple of you should go down there with Eliza and get what you can.”


Rachel would go. She was tired of not knowing what to do, of being so useless. She told Hadley to stay put and immediately followed Eliza along with a few other people into the kitchen.


For once, she was glad there were other people with her. Following Eliza, the lady who phased in and out of those terrible things outside, alone into some unknown cellar wasn’t something she wanted to consider. Something about her told Rachel not to trust her. Probably the fact that she was apparently five minutes away from becoming one of her nightmares. Three others joined her: the man who was with his wife and daughter, Michael, and the skinny kid who had given her shit a few minutes before about “accepting” things. It was fine. They weren’t there to socialize; they had a job to do and they needed to do it quickly.


The old woman was faster than she looked, and it was hard to follow her. Her phasing in and out made it look like there was a strobe light on her as she moved. They sped past the cook station, the smell of whatever Frank and Eliza had for dinner briefly reminding Rachel that she hadn’t eaten in a couple of hours, and were at the door for the cellar in a matter of seconds. Eliza opened the door and pulled a hanging light switch, illuminating a less-than-safe looking staircase. She raced down them without any hesitation, relieving only some of Rachel’s nerves about the state of the steps. The stairs went down about ten feet before turning left for another ten where they ended at another door.


“Don’t know of many diners that have cellars,” said Michael as they reached the bottom landing. He was right: it was strange.


“As far as we’ve found, this is the only basement in the entire complex,” Eliza replied. “They must have used it to store everything for the motel and gas station as well.”




Eliza swung the door open and flipped a switch to reveal a large, concrete storage room that must have spanned the entire diner. There were rows of shelves filled with tools, spare toilet seats, knickknacks, snacks, and everything else needed to supply a stop like the Midhaven Motel. Along the walls, piles of wood were neatly stacked. Eliza ran to a nearby shelf and grabbed a crowbar. When she returned, she handed it to Rachel.


“Alright, I’m sure my husband is upstairs telling everyone this right now, so I’ll tell you all. The Empty People don’t feel pain like you and I do. There’s no point in hitting their bodies or limbs. Go for the head. That’s your best bet.”


“What is this,” started the kid with the mouth. “Some zombie crap?” Eliza merely smiled at him for a second and blinked in and out.


“Ok, everyone, we don’t have much time. Grab what you need.”