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EARTH’S SURVIVORS: APOCALYPSE

Copyright 2009 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet

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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

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ONE

Off to their left the city was easy to spot. There were fires all through it. In some places huge sections were on fire, in others it was scattered fires. There were no areas that didn’t seem to be affected, and with the fires it was easy to track the edge of the cities as they drove.

Lana laughed. “So they just added names. Well, couldn’t the same be said about Los Angeles? About any large city as it grows? Isn’t that the way it works?”

“I guess… I hadn’t thought it out.”

~

“Going to have to cut through part of the city,” Lana said a few moments later.

Johnny looked up from the map as the truck rolled to a stop. “A river.”

“Probably a canal…” Lana said. “Either way we can’t drive over it… Does it break anywhere?” She turned the truck and began to run along the side of the canal heading for the city once more. In the distance several fires burned, but the fires seemed to be several miles distance, nothing close. “Like a housing development or something,” Lana said a few minutes later as the truck bumped up onto a road that was paralleled by a brick wall. The wide concrete gutter was bone dry, the pavement smooth after so much time in the desert

“Not on the map…” He shrugged. “I just don’t know, Lana.”

Lana had stopped on the edge of the housing development. It was dark, lit only by the headlights of the truck. Cars and trucks sat neatly in driveways. The streets were empty. Heavy dust seemed to blanket the whole scene. Little trails cut from place to place.

“Spooky,” Johnny said. “Volcanic ash?”

“Probably… What do you think the trails are?”

Johnny frowned. “It has to be the dead.”

“It doesn’t have to be the dead… Could be small animals raiding house to house… No garbage any more so they have to get into those houses and get what they can or starve… Or it could be the dead.”

“Great, you had me ha…”

Something hit the truck hard and it rocked on its springs. The smell of death hit them about the same time, and Lana hit the gas, mashing the pedal into the floor boards.

A rotting hand came through the open back window and fastened around Lana’s throat, her hands left the wheel as she was yanked backwards; the truck spun hard to the left and accelerated, her foot still mashed on the gas.

Johnny lifted his gun and shot the zombie in the face. It seemed slow motion at first, the face exploded as it fell away into the back of the pickup, Lana drew a deep breath and tried to grab the wheel, but it was too late. Everything sped up to real time and the truck roared forward and slammed into the side of a house, continuing on through the wall and into it. Her foot had slammed down on the brake and the truck finally stopped several feet inside the house.

Johnny hit the dashboard hard and then rebounded and slid under the dash as the truck plunged into the house. Seconds later he scrambled out from under the dash, the smell of gasoline was strong, the smell of the hot motor equally strong. He looked over at Lana but she seemed dazed, her eyes unfocused, a trickle of blood running from somewhere under her hairline, mumbling softly under her breath. Johnny levered his door open with a little help from his foot, it screeched as it opened. The screech of metal was very loud in the silence of the house. The headlights were still on, illuminating what looked to be a kitchen.

The smell of death came to him over the smell of gas and hot motor.

“My God, Lana, we’ve got to go,” Johnny said loudly. He reached down, gabbed Lana’s rifle where it had fallen to the floor and then shoved his gun into his holster. He was surprised he had the presence of mind to actually pull the strap over the hammer and snap it in place to hold the gun in. He reached over and pulled Lana to him, she came willingly. A second later he was outside the ruined truck and staring out the hole it had punched through into the house. He saw no dead, but he could smell them. He debated only briefly and then ran for the hole and the moonlit night outside.

The dead were all around, pulled from their wanderings by the sound of the wreck and the smell of the living. Johnny shifted Lana’s weight more fully onto his shoulder, and lifted the gun, but before he could fire, the truck blew up behind him and he felt himself pushed by the blast out into the street where he struggled to stay on his feet. A warm rush of air moved rapidly past him and Johnny got his feet moving only a second later.

The dead scattered. They made an odd clicking sound, a sort of strangled scream, which Johnny supposed was all they could do with no air to move their lungs, as he ran they slowly disappeared into the hiding places they had stumbled from. An SUV loomed out of the darkness, illuminated by the flames and the moonlight: Dusty, sitting in the driveway of a house three houses over from the one they had plowed into. A second later and Johnny had the door open and he tumbled Lana inside onto the passenger seat. He ran around the car to the other side and fired a quick burst at three of the dead that came from the side of the garage and started toward him in their stumbling, dragging way. They all three went down, but they were back up again almost as quickly as they had gone down. He was too far away for head shots. He got the handle open and jumped into the car pulling the door shut behind him.

He sat, his breath coming in ragged gasps and pulls. His lungs hurt, there was a stitch in his side and his heart felt like it just might explode at any second. He looked over at Lana, but her head was rocked back against the seat back. A sob escaped his throat, but he bit down on it, breathing hard, and checked the ignition.

No keys, but that was what he had expected. What he hoped for was gas. The car should start, the gas was the important thing. He reached to the floorboards for his knapsack and a screwdriver to jimmy the ignition and that was when he realized he had nothing to get the truck started with. All he needed was a screwdriver to hammer into the ignition, pop the cylinder, and then start it, but he had neither the screwdriver nor a way to get it into the ignition in the first place. He fisted his hands and slammed them against the wheel. His head sank onto his hands.

“Smash it,” Lana said. It was not much more than a whisper, but it bought Johnny’s head up fast. Outside the truck the dead were gathering. Just three or four, but they could smell them, and it wouldn’t be long until more showed up. He focused on her face which was ashen and blood slicked, unsure if she had really even spoken. She turned her face to him, eyes heavy lidded, unfocused. “Smash it, Johnny… Rock… Rocks by the driveway… Saw them… Smash it.” Her head sank down to the dashboard and stayed there. A trickle of blood ran across the dusty plastic and rolled toward the edge of the dash before it slipped over the edge and continued down into darkness.

“Lana. You’re hurt bad, Lana.”

“Johnny… Johnny, shut up and get a rock… Get it, Johnny. Stop whining, get the rock.” Lana told him. Her words were muffled, whether from the effort or the position she was in he couldn’t tell. He picked up the rifle by the barrel and looked through the glass at the dead that were trying to figure out a way into the truck. He waited for the one near the driver’s door to slip backwards along the side of the SUV and then he threw the door open and jumped from the truck.

He landed bad, on the very same rocks Lana had been talking about, and nearly went all the way down before he caught himself and slammed his knee into the pavement to stop himself. He had been unable to close the door as his ankle twisted and he fell away. The one that had just slipped past the door was already turning to get inside. He couldn’t shoot, if he did he might hit Lana. He launched himself at the shambling wreck instead and dragged it backwards and to the ground. They were both snarling he realized a moment later when he shot it in the head.

A second one came around the back of the SUV. Johnny took two steps and shot it in the head. The third was on the opposite side of the truck and seemed frozen, unsure what to do. Johnny turned, picked up a large rock, and tried to step back into the truck. The ankle collapsed and he went sprawling, losing the rock, barely holding onto his rifle as he once again slammed his knee into the ground to stop himself from planting his face on the steel door sill of the car. The zombie on the other side made up her mind, stood to her full height, and sprang to the roof of the car. Johnny heard the metal buckle as she landed.

A second later he forced himself to his feet, adrenaline flooding his body, leaving that sour electric taste in his mouth as it did. The zombie stood to her full height once more, nothing but tightly stretched skin and protruding bones, but determined to have him. Johnny raised the rifle and shot her under the chin. She collapsed on the barrel and he turned as she spilled past him and burst open onto the driveway behind him. Johnny took two shambling steps of his own, ankle and knee screaming, pain so hard that it made him stop and double up. He vomited, losing control for a brief instant, the pain was so hot. A second after that the adrenaline kicked back in and he finished his shambling travel, managed to stoop and pick up another large rock and get back inside the SUV. He slammed the door on the hand of another zombie that had come out of the darkness. He heard the bones snap, and the fingers fell away into the SUV as the door thudded home. Johnny collapsed against the steering wheel. He couldn’t seem to catch his breath. He waited for his heart to slow down.

The dead seemed to be everywhere when he lifted his eyes a few seconds later. One was inches away, staring into his own eyes through the glass. Dozens of others milled about as if waiting to be told what to do. His heart staggered once more, and the rifle was coming up before he realized he could do nothing. He lowered the gun and raised the rock that was still clutched in one hand. He smashed it down on the cheap plastic that surrounded the ignition built into the side of the steering column.

Outside the zombies went crazy. Sounds did that to them, but to Johnny it was almost as if they knew he was about to escape. The one next to the window stepped back and cocked it’s head. Johnny looked back at the column, smashed the rock down again and the pieces of the ignition fell to the floorboards of the SUV. A splinter of plastic cut his hand as he jammed his fingers into the opening and pushed down into the hole the cylinder had once occupied. It took a second to find what he was searching for, but once he found it his finger pressed down and the motor began to turn over. At nearly the same time the zombie dropped from sight outside the window.

The motor coughed to life just as the zombie shot up with a rock in its rotting hands and smashed it down on the glass. Johnny let out an involuntary scream as the rock skittered across the glass and flew across the hood. The zombie did it’s odd little scream and then fell out of sight once more. Johnny slammed his hand forward, caught the shift lever and yanked it down into reverse. His foot was already mashing the gas pedal down, the engine was revving and so when the zombie came back up with yet another rock the front fender slammed into him as Johnny spun the wheel, and the car began to race backwards, turning as it went. The zombie and several behind it flew away from the side of the car, the wheels hopped as it bounced over them and then caught. The car rocketed out into the street. Johnny locked the brakes up to get it stopped and nearly stalled it as it ground to a stop. A second later he dropped it into drive and plowed through a group of a dozen or more of the dead as he fumbled for the headlight switch and roared off down the road.

The dead flew up over the hood. One smashed into the glass hard enough to spider web it as it hit and then tumbled over the roof. He could hear them bumping as they slammed into the roof and fell into the night behind them. A few seconds later and all he could hear was the scream of the motor as he accelerated down the street. He forced himself to slow down so he didn’t wreck. Lana was holding onto the dashboard in a death grip.

The truck left the pavement and flew out into the desert once more. Johnny mashed down the pedal a little more and began to put some space between themselves and the housing project. He reached over and pulled Lana away from the dashboard. She rocked back into the seat, her eyes closed, blood still running from under her hairline and slicking her face…


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Feel, thoughts about life

Feel, thoughts about life…

Posted by Geo 08-11-2017

Good morning to all. It doesn’t seem possible to me that this summer is nearly over with. Pretty soon fall will be moving in and then the holidays and then I’ll realize another year is shot.

Work:

I spent this past week working on non-writing projects. It feels strange to say that, but it is true. I did spend part of the week doing some Earth’s Survivors writing, even though the series is over. I realized that for me the Earth’s survivors books are not over. I am not saying they will ever be published, but I am saying the story is continuing. I spent a small part of the week writing the back story for a few characters that had no real back story. And the deeper I dig the better it gets for me. I want to know more about them. So I wrote a beginning for those characters too. I think when I can allow myself to get into their world I find that I know it so well that I get lost in it and want to know more, tell more, write more. It makes little difference if I ever publish any of it the story still has to be written out. I think that is what makes someone a writer as opposed to someone who writes for a living. And I no longer write for a living. That part is over with.

 

Questions I often get:

Family: I have been asked more than once about family as it relates to my writing. Where are they, what do they think, etc…

You may notice that I don’t have family members that read my writing, proof read it, make comments about it. I don’t know if that is normal or not. I think I have the same sort of quasi dysfunctional family as everyone else in this country has. I like a few of them, a few of them like me, some of us struggle to get along, a few I could do without and I am sure a few feel that way about me. Makes me wonder what it’s like in other countries, or maybe used to be like in this country. I can remember grandparents that were very strong people. They held things together; the fabric of the family. Now grandparents are shipped off to old folks homes, care centers that really do no more than house geriatric patients, and even places that abuse those patients and are rarely held accountable for that. And why are they there? Because family is a word that now means ‘this tiny, little, immediate group right here around or near me. Not grandparents, not parents, not siblings, just these few. My goals are more important than seeing after the well being of the man/woman people that raised me. And if divorce happens? Well then that little group changes too and the kids grow up without parents. Sometime I look at the world and think it’s pretty much junk. The more we evolve the clearer it becomes what sort of race we are aiming to be: Selfish, self centered tiny universes of our own. Spinning alone through the darkness.

I hope God kills me if I ever start thinking that way again. I take care of my mother here at home and this is a place for her until she passes or doesn’t want to be here. I think that because we are so far apart on our views of this subject there is too much between some of my family and I to work out. And I understand it all because I have been self centered, and thankfully I’m not now.

I had a friend once who made a remark to me about why I am single. I thought, that is a stupid question to ask me. Can’t you see what I am doing? I have traded all of that for responsibility, isn’t that they way we were supposed to be raised? Do you mean I should put my mother in a home so I can have a wife? I think sometimes people mean well, but they don’t think things out past their own small universe.

I guess I said all of that because I wanted to explain why there is no family involved in the process with my books. I don’t really think it is a surprise to anyone who actually lives in this world. And I wanted to say this clearly in a public blog. Everything I write belongs to me. Yes I had thought to leave it when I left, but no. I will decide what to do with it before that time happens. There is a legality in play here and the reason I wrote this worded they way it is.

Writing:

I also wrote the family part of this because truly my life is an open book, but I am also always asked who helped me get started, why I write, who is my support in my family and so on.

Many people want to write, but can never seem to make the grade. They have no support, no encouragement, no one to help them. I had/have none of that and I write. No one calls me up after a long day of writing and tells me how good that was, that they like it. There is no monthly encouragement letter in the box. I don’t have weekly support classes where everyone encourages me to keep writing. People ask those things of me when they write because they assume I must have had all of that. Nope. Didn’t.

Here’s the thing though, I still write nearly every day.

In school my English teacher thought I was an idiot. Music teacher the same. Family the same. That isn’t made up, it’s true. The same may be true for you and if it is then you have to do the work yourself. Love yourself. Praise yourself. Don’t give up. Keep going forward. I can’t say it better than that, if you want it you will have it. I know that sounds like bullshit, I used to think it was, but it isn’t at all. One foot in front of the other every day and keep the end goal in mind and you will get there.

I gave a cousin of mine a set of three books from the original Earth’s Survivors series last year. These were proof books, full of typos, rare, hey if I ever become famous they might actually be worth something too. I didn’t offer them, he asked, so I said “Here you go,” and handed him the set. The Covers were test covers and had Donita the zombie queen on them. He saw the covers and his mouth turned down fast. He took them, but a few seconds later he handed them back and said, “Yeah… I can’t read this stuff I’m a Christian.” “No problem,” I said. After all, I’m a christian too.

If you are a fan you know the books are about people and those people surviving, not evil. Yet I have close family that believes the same way. They can’t read them because it would be against their religion. These are the same people that watch movies and read books that have nothing to do with God at all.

I also got some disapproval because there are gays and lesbians in my books. That they have relationships, love, feel, are depicted like real people. Of course Christianity does not allow for gays and lesbians, so for some Christians it’s okay in their hearts to hate them, keep distance from them. In my real world there are only people. Some are this, some are that. I took what I know and I wrote it and so I couldn’t apologize to my Christianity for that. And my God didn’t ask me to, it was only people who felt that. I wrote about a real world rebuilding itself after a disaster and that world included everyone.

I guess things like that should have hurt my feelings, but they didn’t. It means that your family may only see you one way. Don’t pin your hopes there, go past that. Believe in you. Look at Jesus the Christ. Nobody in his hometown took him seriously at all. He had to go elsewhere before anyone took him seriously. You could be in worse company on your quest to be a writer that’s for sure.

Still, this is one of those places where you should have family or loved ones to count on, but quite often they are not there for you. That’s because sometimes, like you, like me, they are also damaged. Probably have self image problems too and so they can’t see others that might be doing a better job that they are. In effect they can’t see past their own problems, failures, successes. You tend to get stuck in that self pity mode and everything sucks, no matter if it is things you do or others do. So unfortunately for you and I we have to depend on ourselves, but one thing that solves is being let down by those same people.

If you get to know yourself, not the public or daily persona, but you, you will know what your capabilities are. You can start to believe in yourself. Don’t believe in bullshit, don’t believe in things people sell you, believe in you. Do you have a good heart? Good, believe in that. It’s a thing that you know about yourself. Do you care about people? Social issues? Are you artistic? Does music live in your soul? Get to know these things and you will have a real base you can believe in. You, not someone else, you. That way you can not let yourself down either. So that is my advice to people who want to write or accomplish anything else in their lives. I have lived that advice. It works. In the end you should write what you feel, what you know, what you want to write, encourage yourself and you will be fine.

Suicide:

That is a funny topic to ask me about. I can see the reasoning, but my answer has to involve so much of my life that the last few times I have been asked I ignored it. I assume you have read some other things I wrote that discuss that and that is where the questions come from.

Okay. Suicide. I really want to be careful in my portrayal of suicide. Modern Christians believe that suicide is forbidden. They will point to this verse or that verse of scripture as a backup. God says this or that about it, but my problem with that is the same problem I have with many laws touted by modern Christianity and said to have clear pronouncements in scriptures. They don’t. It’s that simple. Show me a clear scripture where God says that Suicide is unforgivable, or a sin greater than another, or even that suicide itself is a sin and I will eat my proverbial hat. It isn’t there.

The problems with modern Christianity is that almost all of it is interpretive. That is why there are dozens of Christian churches that do not get along with one another, even hate each other (In actions I have seen, although they will deny it is hate). If that’s the case I can also misquote or put a spin on some scripture and have my own church inside of five minutes.

There was a time in my life when I was younger and I swallowed all of this hook, line and sinker, but I don’t any longer. Show it to me in writing. Don’t show me scripture that is vague and could cover anything from picking on your sister to skipping school to getting a felonious arrest for dealing drugs or murder. Show it to me in writing, not the Old Testament, which is not about us, but written for the Jews as a book of faith and law, not for Christians. No one can do that, and they can’t show it to me because it doesn’t exist. I have argued it before and the end argument for the other side always comes down to, “Well, it takes faith.” Right. That is so close to “There is a sucker born every minute,” that I just can’t abide it.

So back to suicide and the practical persons understanding of it and God’s feeling about it we may infer from our understanding of God.

I am a Christian. Not a modern Christian but a Christian who believes Bible. What was really said, not all the icing the Catholic Church and a few others put on the cake. After all, the Catholic Church said Mary the Magdalene was a whore for a few thousand years. They finally admitted she wasn’t, but that is the church supposedly founded on the rock, Peter, Jesus’s own disciple, so how could it have gotten it wrong? Because, the church is not run by God. It is run by men and we are fallible.

I could distort scripture and come to the conclusion that maybe Jesus himself committed suicide. After all he knew he would die. He knew the Jews would kill him. Does that make it suicide when he knew these things yet went willingly to be killed? Is that obeying God? Is it suicide? I realize I may make a few enemies here, but my point is that this is not their decision, it is your decision, you and God and what you understand about your relationship. I absolutely do believe that there are some circumstances where it should be an option for you alone. Terminal disease being one of them and yes personal choice being another.

So suicide. I made my own position clear in other writings which I assume the reader is referring to, but for those of you who haven’t read that I’ll repeat it:

I get up every day and I find a reason not to do it. I deal with despair, let downs, tragedy, hate, petty bullshit, plain old uncaring attitudes, loneliness, depression and whatever else comes along. I look for some sort of good in the world. Yes I find bad stuff too, we all do, but every day I continue. I don’t call it quits. Sometimes that is because I feel I would be guilty of a sin if I hurt someone by those actions. I believe our actions are things we are held accountable for by God. So whether I hurt someone through deed or action it is on me and some day God will hold me accountable for that. Other days it is a kind word that keeps me going. And if I wake up some day and the reason to go forward is gone? I’ll make a different decision. It’s my choice.

I got some static for the scene in Earth’s Survivors book three where Molly killed herself after Nellie, her girlfriend was murdered. I think that is the first time I addressed the suicide option. I think that writing was about a real person feeling a real thing in the heat of the moment. Would Molly have killed herself if she had had the time to think it through? I don’t know. She chose not to take that time to think it out.

Is it an unforgivable sin? No. I don’t believe so. I think that although God is the giver of life he also gave us free choice for a reason. It’s our decision. As a human being I would consider murder a sin of a higher magnitude. That is taking someones life when you don’t have that right under any of God’s laws. You are not God and you are not the person. Yet this is a sin that nearly all Christian churches will tell you that God forgives. People who argue this with me will usually end up with, “Well, you’re dead, you can’t ask for forgiveness when you are dead.” I guess that is their Ace in the hole to win the argument. It doesn’t prevail with me though, because two times in my life I have been clinically dead. I have both continued to live and to talk with God during those times. I was not left alone, I had the ability to ask anything of God. There were no restrictions of any kind. If I had needed forgiveness, absolution, I could have asked for it and received it I am sure. In fact all that stuff we sweat daily turned out to be no big deal. And yes, one of those times was a suicide attempt of my own.

Does that mean we should all pull the plug? Stop fighting this crap every day that we fight? No. I think there is so much of the world we can discover, love, be part of it. It means that you should look for those reasons, your reasons the same way I do every day. Find them. Work, because although I did not continue onward into death itself and whatever is there for us, I did get the feeling that this might be a one go around deal. One shot. And you do take these memories with you. There is no hatred, no blaming any longer, just you once you are there. There are a few people here that I love deeply. A few there I want to see again. Why not take those good memories?

I appreciate the questions. I think over the last few years this blog has taken its own direction. I’m never too concerned with the things that are discussed here and sometime discussed further and at length after with some of you. It’s growth. I hope you share in it as well as I do.

Last:

Okay, that’s it for me. This is a little longer than my usual blog. The sponsors on this page are the same people who pay the bills, so give them a look. Want to be a sponsor on this page? Let me know. Feel free to send me feedback, yell at me, hate me, like me, I’m okay with all of it.

Be back soon, hope you grow a little every day, Geo…