Life in The Slow lane

07-17-2017 Posted by Dell

Life in The Slow lane…

I don’t like the fast lane. It isn’t that I can’t see the advantage of the fast lane and getting wherever the hell it is you need to get in the fastest possible time. I can. I just don’t agree with it anymore.

When I was seventeen, just back from the Navy, I couldn’t wait to get on with what I considered real life. My wheels were spinning. I needed a girlfriend, a job, a life and I needed it right then. It needed to be immediate. And so I went looking for all that stuff and that is the last time I remember life being slow. After that life sped up and I lived it full-tilt. I thought that was the way you do it. Burn it up. No regrets. Don’t look back. Hurry up and get a little older so I can drink legally, so we don’t have to sneak around and see each other only in the back seat of my Chevy. So we can get married, have children, get a place of our own, raise our children, oh, I can’t wait until the terrible twos are over with, and… What do you mean you don’t love me anymore? Hurry to get past that pain. Think about slowing down, but that just makes the pain worse so I hurried right into another relationship. Another marriage. More children.

Drink a little more because sometimes when things started to slow down I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it because I could see things clearly when I slowed down. See the mistakes, feel the pain of failure, and I didn’t want to see it because it damn well wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would. So I sped it back up…

Now I’m here. I’m here and I’m slowed up. And I can clearly see all the things that I rushed past. The time I didn’t get with my children. The lovers that I shared something with and then they were gone. The two relationships that did mean something and I still didn’t slow down for. Time. Only time, but time can not be purchased only spent. And thinking about what has passed is no good at all. It can not solve a single heartache. It will not bring someone you love back. It can only keep you in a place where you are not dealing with reality. Where you overlook the ends because not only do the means not justify them, they are not even the same ends you were looking for.

I deal with real time now. I stay in the slow lane. In a hurry? Drive around me. All the things I could not wait to get to in the future I had right there in my past. Did you read that? Those things were never to be attained, they were already attained. Free of charge from life. Right there. And I hurried right past them. We all do sometimes.

I was a little too young to be a hippie. I sometimes wonder if I would have made a good one though. I have always wanted to drop out of society… As long as I can have my electricity… And a computer… And a truck to drive into town… Okay, maybe not. And I could never smoke pot it made me sick. So maybe I would have made a piss-poor hippie after all. But the ideal. The live life on life’s terms philosophy I could definitely have embraced wholeheartedly.

I Didn’t though. I joined the rat race. And I didn’t like the rat race so I stayed on the fringe of the rat race waiting… Where is my great life? What the hell is this? This is not what I wanted at all.

But it was. Maybe it is only maturity that makes us look at things differently. If so, thank God for it. It is okay to hate the rat race. We have to live it anyway unless you are really going to fill a knapsack with energy bars and walk off into the forest. No. You’re not and neither am I. So where is the solution?

The slow lane. No bull. The slow lane is the answer, but you will have to change your attitude to really appreciate it, but if you can you will find all the things that you thought you were running that rat race for are right there.

Right there is your child that you love and keep not spending time with. Right there is the man or the woman you love. The job you can be happy with. The life that can mean something.

There was a time in my life when I made on average twenty grand a week. No. That is not a misprint. And do you know how happy I was? … I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you because every fiber of my being was caught up in making that nut every week. Every bit. There was nothing left over. And there were men and women who knew me that wanted to be in my place. Truly.

I have done nothing but spend money and have not made a nickle in six months. Scary. It is when you have faith in yourself and you go for it. But what I do not do is put all of me that there is into things that are only really designed to pay the bills. I don’t.

I breath the air every day. I tell the people I love that I love them. If someone needs my time I give it. Yes, I work a lot of hours, but it does not own me anymore and it is not the reason I’m living… Can you see that?

Here are some words from a song I wrote called A Minor…

“I was never fixed in this world anyway… I was just sitting here waiting on a bus for the next.”

And that was true. I lived here in this world. Worked here. But it was not in my blood. I didn’t enjoy it: See it as good, or fulfilling, or enough… I just didn’t. So I just waited for it to end.

I don’t do that anymore. I live. I live for real. One of the things I have noticed is that people will make time for you, love you, and even tell you if you give them the time. So I do. I do, but I have noticed that a lot of people just smile and hurry past me on their way to… Well, I really don’t know, and I’m not sure they do either. But I know that if you slow down there is some space for you right here in the slow lane. You can ride shot gun with me. We’ll just take our time and enjoy the view…


I will leave you with a free short story for your Monday…


Rapid City Three

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three by Wendell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY: Wendell Sweet – Blog Edition

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three

Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet All Rights Reserved

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please point them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This short story is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet. Portions are copyright 2013, Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and or distributed without the author’s permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print. This material is not edited for content.


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 persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.


Rapid City

The streets of Rapid City were deserted, but I paid that no mind. It could appear empty and would make no difference in reality. In my world reality did not have much of a place, being mostly a notion.

I suspected that the dead were long gone, but that did not mean they hadn’t left some for me to deal with. They were known to do that, had on more’n one occasion that I could recall. I was not about to get myself caught that easy. I had no wish to be dead for ever and ever.

There was bodies ’bout every ten feet or so. Slaughtered. They wasn’t lookin’ to turn these men the way they was some you saw, no, they had meant to murder and murder is what they had done.

In the last six months I had already begun to wear a reputation as a murderer myself. It was a hard jacket to wear at times. Some men understood it, some men were downright uncomfortable with it, some had to know if they could take me. I had gone hunting the dead. Killing the dead. And it was ironic to me that after just six months I had a reputation of killing more of the living than the dead. Wasn’t true, of course, but like I say you got to wear the jacket. It ain’t a world where there is always time for questions at all. It was, in only six months, a world where it was best to kill immediate like. Fast. No thought: If not it would be you that was dead.

I had come across the Gulf Coast from Texas and taken some time in this town or that town. Mostly killin’ what should have been already dead. It was in a little pine board town just west of what had been Natchitoches that I began to see a livin’ in this. Purely by accident, but that was when I got fitted for that jacket and I been wearin’ it ever since. Was a woman in that pine town that got herself bit. Her man got to thinkin’ it would pass, or the federal boys had a fix up their sleeves they’d be along with right quick, so he chained her up inside their shack and waited. Love will make you do things like that. Not the only time I seen it.

The dead came for her. Ever night they came for her, and ever night he kept them from getting’ her. Drove them off, but the others in that town wanted something done about those dead that kept comin’ around ever night and killin’ some of their own. They didn’t know what the man had done.

There was a sheriff in that town, mostly scared of his own shadow, and it was him that come to me with the offer. I had just killed a man the day before in a gunfight. Livin’ or dead, that sheriff saw no difference. I checked the street careful as I walked.

I had taken thirteen of the dead out. Hid myself and waited for them. And then I had found the wife. Sent her on her way too. And the husband. Left me no choice. It may be that helped to fit that jacket a bit better. People get to talkin’ and the leave a lot of the story out. Not that the truth always sounds better. But the towns I hit after that pegged me as a man killer and a gunfighter. Hired me more often than not. That’s been six months passed now. And I had worked my way to this little pine board town. Done a little better than the others maybe… Maybe someone had a care for this place, hard to tell. What was easy to tell is they seemed all to be dead now.

I stopped now and stared down at drag marks in the sandy street. They lead off to the shadows of an alley across the way from where I walked. I loosed my gun strap, stretched the leather of my gloved hands for a good grip, and stared hard at the mouth of that alley. Spots of blood dotted the trail. In this heat that blood would’ve turned to rust in no time and then been picked apart by the wind what seemed to favor this street. No sir. That was fresh. It didn’t take no special sense or ability to see that.

A second after I loosed my strap they came for me. Six from the shadows direct in front of me, and the real threat from the sides. I had my second pistol out fast and threw myself down into the dust and rolled hard to the left, firing as I went. Killin’ shots, what I could see. I was up and runnin’ a second after the roll began when the dead were still trying to find their asses, and when I turned around and sighted I got four more, but missed one who was on me before I could get a head shot in. I put a knee in her guts fast like, crumpled her up, and put one in her head as she lay wondering what had happened. It was over that fast, but it was not the end.

I counted them up, nine; drug them out of the little pine board town and lined them up in the sand. Took their heads to be safe. It ain’t pretty work, then went to get my horse where I had left her nearby. They had done for my horse while I was afoot in the town. Cut her throat ear to ear, left her to bleed out. A zombie don’t want no horse flesh. They will partake of it, but they will not regular. And these had been feeding fine, judging from the dead that lined the streets. They killed them and ate them. They didn’t kill them to turn them, unless there were more I had not yet seen. That is the way the dead do it when they want to send a message to you. The message says I can do this and you can not stop me from it. I have my own message system though. My message is lead. Notched to fly apart and take their heads apart. And if I had not already got the ones what done this piece of work, I would.

It took a half hour of tugging to get my saddle off’n the horse and lug it back to town. I was not sure what it was I could do with it with no horse to wear it, but I was goddamned I’d leave it for the dead or time.

I come back into the town and made my way down the street slowly. Alley to alley. Building to building. I found four of them hiding under the supports for the saloon. There was maybe a two foot high crawl space there and they had wedged in tight. I backed up and they came out fightin’. Probably knowin’ they would die for sure if they did not. I checked the rest of the town, and afternoon was then comin’ on strong and I began to look for a fortress, not at all sure they was done with me, or I was done with them for that matter.

The church building set apart from the rest. The balance of the town had been slapped together, and like most pine board towns it had been done rough and slip shod. The term pine board town, or Piney as some said, had been coined to call these towns collective like. It did not mean they was pine, or even wood. It was a term only, because they was built with scavenged materials, and most of that was pre-apocalypse pine plywood. There was miles of the stuff in warehouses all over the south. There for the hurricanes that ripped through so often. The other favorite was tin roofing sheets. This town had favored chipboard. A substance that would not be long for this environment at all. A cheap alternative to the plywood. They had wrapped that with tar paper. It looked as temporary as it had turned out to be.

I carry with me some necessaries in my saddle bags, and I took them out and set up the little town before nightfall rolled all the way out.

It was a soft evening, and I could tell why those that still lay dead in the streets had favored it. The air rolled fine and cool off the desert working at the sweat on my brow that had risen as I had worked on the town. I sat in a wooden chair on the porch of the church and looked out at the wide sandy street and the desert that rolled away from it. Calm like. I waited for the dead that I knew would be coming for me to finish what they had started with the horse. They had cut me afoot for a purpose.

The blue moon had rose and she had begun to sail when I spied them comin’. I would love to say you could hear them, but it ain’t that way at all. They is quiet. Not like the livin’. The livin’ take noise with them wherever they go. The dead take quiet. It is goddamned unnerving. They can be where they were not just a second ago.

I had pulled both pistols and crossed them on my lap. Fingers through the guards, lightly caressing the triggers like they was a woman I favored, but I will tell you, in some ways, these were favored more and more by me over women. It seemed I got into trouble with women, out of trouble with these guns. Two of the men I had killed had been killed over women. Part of that jacket I spoke on. I believe that once you begin to kill it don’t take much to cross a border. And I have crossed borders easy.

I saw one. That one slipped just a bit out from the shadow. Another man mighta thought it was just a heat shimmer. The days heat leavin’ a buildin’ I’ve seen that too. It looks alike, but this was not that. Something told me this was not that and I took from that small look the speed of the walker and tracked slow like, and then another ripple come, and Another. So they was there then, I told myself. They was there.

I marked that first one and began to look in earnest for the others I knew had to be there, but I could not spot them, and so I went back to trackin’ the single one, askin’ myself if it could maybe be just the one. If it could. It warn’t though.

When the one that I was trackin’ slipped up the next time I let it begin. Best to have the odds on your side than them have them. The shadow slipped, I fired. I heard the impact as the body flew back into the side of that building. Cracked the wood. That started round two.

I had left that chair and took to the darkness at that first shot and I kept to it. If they like the dark and make it their tool you got to take that away from them. Make it your tool. Bring the fight to those godless bastards and stick it right down their goddamned throats too.

I crossed the sandy street and made my way into the shadows of that alley. If they had been there I mighta been done for there, but they was not there, and I had figured with close reasoning how they would not be there. It didn’t fit. It was too exposed for them. They like to sneak until they got to fight. When I mad the alley they cam out in the street, and the plan they had had to catch me flatfooted backfired. I had them in the bright moonlight and took a dozen out before they could turn and fade. Four in the street was not dead, but I taken my time and introduced them proper. Then we began to wait again, and the night wore on.

It was no more than a handful of minutes when I heard a noise over by the building where I had dropped the first one. A deep intake of air, and I knew I had lung shot a man. I could hear it. And walkers do not breath. They got no need for air in that way. I think they suck air in through their skin. I don’t know. But I do know they don’t breath, and ain’t no lung shot going to make no walker sound that away. I had shot a man. And, although that man was not dead yet, I had killed him. What remained for me was the mystery of what that man had been creeping on me for. And had I knowed it, I woulda killed him fast like, because a man will and can use a gun, unlike a walker. God forbid those bastards ever overcome their fear of fire and pick it up. We are done for then.

A minute or two after I heard the man, I saw a fast blur to my right, the other side from the church, and I blazed that whole building, dropped my clips, reloaded the ones I had emptied while I listened and waited. I listened to the lung shot man’s breathing and it was not good. I allowed my head to get lulled by that yearning to hear that man pull his breath so much that I almost missed it when they came at me.

Two sides at once, and damned if I didn’t get them all as they were comin’. All but the one that took me in the back and flattened me out right there in the street.

I managed to flip onto my back, but I was no better off. I had lost both guns and that walker knew it. She was on me hard and fast. Hissing, biting at me, clipped the end of my finger, had me scared for hours because of that. I got my sticker and drove it up hard through her chest and into her backbone. She arched hard, her back bent like a bow, mouthing wide, teeth flashing, and I was trying to pull that knife free when her head blew apart and she flew off the side. I got my eyes closed, but I still grimaced as I felt cold chunks of her head splatter against my face. I held my vomit, but barely, rolled off to my right, pulled my shirt up, buttons flying and cleaned off my face as best I could. It was then I thought to look for the lung shot man I knowed had to be there.

She was some tore up when I saw her. She had sagged to the ground just about where she had stumbled to and managed the shot.

I got my face as clean as I could and then got to my shaky feet and went to her. I was looking over that finger, worried as I went. It was bit bad, but the skin did not break.

She was most dead when I got there.

“What was it that bought you creeping on me like that,” I asked?

Her eyes were bright. The bottoms of those lids filled up to overflowin’ with tears, probably from the pain. A lung shot can hurt powerful. I seen a man or two go that way. For a woman she was holding it good. “Kin you hear me?”

She breathed it. “I… Can… Hear… You.” Spittin’ blood. A flood at the end.

I pushed her shirt aside and looked at the hole. It was bad enough. Close to the heart and suckin’ air. Blowing out little bloody bubbles when it wasn’t suckin’ air. “You…” she started and that was that. Her eyes fluttered and she was gone. I caught her head as she fell back and laid her gentle into the sand. Around me was death. All around me. I couldn’t look nowhere without seeing a body. And here was another one that I had also caused and had no idea about. But when a man kills for a livin’ it has its own answers sometimes. It does. I laid her out, stood and then bent low and said a prayer as best I could.

I don’t know God. I ain’t never met him, although I know some day I’m going to. I guess it just pisses me off that the man sets up there pullin’ my strings and ever body besides me too. Never mind it though, there ain’t no one else you can say a thing like a prayer to. And she would turn, I didn’t have the luxury of time. If she had creeped on me in life, what is it she might do in death? Maybe, I told myself she had closed those eyes for the last time thinkin’ ‘I’ll be back for you in a few minutes, Mister.’ Maybe… May be… I mumbled the words and I wasn’t near so eloquent or flowing as I hoped, as I was afraid she was on her way back. I stepped back and put one in her head and damn if she didn’t jump and hiss at me when I did.

I had thought about burial, but I did not figure a burial would do much. And there was too many. Where did you stop? Did I only bury her? No, I dragged them bodies, all them bodies into the buildings. The ones the dead had killed, the dead, and the woman too.

I thought as I dragged her in, that she had to have come to be there some way. I may never know the reason she come, but I did know she had, had to have got there some way.

I stepped back and then pulled a hand cloth from my pocket. Earlier I had taken a small can of lighter fluid from my saddle bags. I had located a bottle in the church. For what it was used I could not say. I used it to hold the lighter fluid, and now I dipped the rag into it and pulled it through the hole I had jacked into the bottle with my knife.

It was all dry. The church would maybe survive, depended on the vagaries of the winds, but the balance of the town would go. Maybe the fact that I had not purpose burnt the church would set well with God. There was a hope for it. I lit the cloth and tossed the bottle into the nearest doorway. I stood, cool air at my back, heat at my face, and watched as it caught. In a minute she was burning and catching in both directions. I walked away on the road out of town.

I found her vehicle just a few miles out. I had hoped for a horse, but the truck would have to do. It would get me to a horse, and that was enough. I settled my saddlebags into the open back, flexed my aching back, and then climbed in. I had not thought to look for no keys, but a funny thing about keys was that they had fallen into disuse after the world changed up. I had the truck runnin’ a minute later, and turned her away into the desert. Behind me I saw the flames lightening the skies behind me as I drove away.


I hope you enjoyed the short story, you can get the rest of the Rapid City stories here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276647

Here are some free book listings for you for today!

The Zombie Plagues Book One: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357698

The Zombie Plagues Book Two: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357703

The Great Go-Cart Race: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362984

The Zombie Killers: Origins: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412524

The Borderline: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487747

Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515457

Have a great week, Dell…

The week in review and a look at Rapid City one

Posted by Dell 07-12-2017

It has been a busy week for me, and a week where I accomplished no writing at all. That seemed strange at first, but I got so much else done that I decided it wasn’t strange, just a temporary kind of new.

I worked all week on remodeling, smashed almost every finger and thumb that I have, wore myself out completely a few days in a row, and still felt grateful for it. It made me wish even harder to be living a life that models my books. I think that is why we find tales like that, a struggle to survive, impelling. It is a lifestyle we long for because it is completely different from what we have. No taxes, no $4.00 a gallon gasoline. No boss on your ass, and all the rest of it that would personalize it for each of us. That kind of life has pulled at me since someone bought it up to me at 18, and offered me a chance to live it.

I had an opportunity then to homestead in another country. It was serious. Isolated. Living completely off the land in a very wild place. No neighbors, cars, roads, telephones. Nothing at all. I was young. It sounded so great. My wife was pregnant and said no and that was that. She would not have a baby in the middle of nowhere. And that bought the realization that even if we stalled a few years, eventually she might have to have that baby in the middle of nowhere. It was a dead issue for her after that.

I understood it on two levels. First the reality of living that life or a life in the real world where my wife, child and family were. And just examining that on the surface made the decision for me. Second, even though the decision had been made, I was absolutely convinced that if I had gone I would have succeeded at it and loved it.

Because of that duality in me, I always pressed to learn as much as I could that would make me as self sufficient as possible, and I have. It allows me to write about things in my books with assurance. I can write it because I have done it. Learned it. Not because I read it in a book or Googled it. (Although Googling things is pretty damn impressive too, and I have used that a few times). My point is that for the past three weeks I have left the keyboard alone and turned back to working with my hands. And, as is usually the case with me, working alone too.

It’s been great, despite the broken finger, smashed truck and busted up thumb, blisters and dead tired, nothing-left-at-all, way I have felt most nights. That is my compromise for life. It’s like an uneasy truce I declared back there at 18. I have to have some of that sort of time.

It has seemed to work great most of the time. But I found the same unhappiness, missing something that many of us find in life. Marriage, success, money, it doesn’t matter. There is, and always has been, something missing for me, and it took a great deal of life to finally forge an uneasy truce, compromise, cease war with myself.

It takes real effort to keep it working, moving. But it can be done. Part of it is what I write. I say I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s obvious that it is strongly flavored by my desire to live that life I felt I should have lived.

Some people I know would leave this life to live that life in a heart beat. Others flat out say they would never do it.  If given the opportunity I would go in a second, I say. And then I think of all the obligations I have. Things that I have said that I would see through, do, people I would be there for, and I know I could never do it.

What is my point? My point is that when I write about it. Or I take a few weeks off to really work hard with my hands, it’s just as good. It can be, just as good. Or as good as having feet in both worlds can be. I think the writing is the grand escape. A good story should be able to take you away. I hope mine take you away. I hope you enjoy it so that when all the crap you have to deal with in the real world comes along you can deal with that easier because you took a little breather in your head.

I like feedback. People do write to me and tell me their opinions, I enjoy that, whether it is people I know or people I am hearing from for the first time.

It’s a little hotter here in New York. My work on the house is progressing nicely, a little slower than I would have wished, but still progressing. Next week is electrical work, insulation, security system and all the other stuff that has to go in before the Sheetrock goes on the walls. I’m enjoying it, and in a few weeks it will be down to paint and carpet, finish work, and I will be back to being only a writer for the fall and winter. By the time that happens I will be grateful for it I’m sure.

There are just so many smashed fingers and tired limbs left for my future, I guess, and then I will be only writing. But I put a limit on that a few weeks back, kind of my own end of the world. It’s a long way away, but it is nice to be counting down the time to the third part of my life.

In the meantime I will publish everything I have written in all the series and then some.  When I spent time last week going over the books and the outlines for the series, it amounts to 40 books for the Earth’s Survivors series. That probably seems very ambitious, maybe even unattainable But if you stop to consider that I have already written 20 of the main books and another 9 of the side books that fit the puzzle, it doesn’t seem so unattainable. Only 9 or so to go.

I hope you had a great week, where ever you are. Hello to my friends in the UK. I am glad I have friends there. My Mother’s parents were English and Irish. I have always felt that connection. My father on the other hand was African American and Native American, so I have always felt that pull too, and I am grateful to my friends here in the States and the UK that share that sort of heritage too.

I will leave you with a short story, the first short story from Rapid City. I’ll be back next week…


Rapid City #1

By Wendell Sweet


BLOG EDITION


PUBLISHED BY:

Wendell Sweet & independantwriters All rights reserved

Rapid City

Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet

If you would like to share this book with another person, please direct them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This short story is Copyright © 2013 Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print..

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 persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

Rapid City is Copyright © 2013 Wendell Sweet

All rights reserved


This material is used with permission

This material is not edited for content


 

RAPID CITY

The Town At Twilight

It was late when I came into Rapid city.  Though the buildings had been thrown up as temporary shelters some twenty years past, they still held sway over the main street. But they seemed empty, abandoned in the twilight.

A faded, crudely lettered, wooden sign nailed to one side of the bat wings of Blood and Breakfast made the street official. Or as official as anything ever got in Rapid city.

My horse didn’t seem especial nervous as she made her way along. If you ride a horse, and everyone did now, gasoline was long gone unless you were a part of the Nation, you got used to their moods… Perceptions, and you paid attention or you might wind up dead. Horses were still free and Zombies couldn’t chase them down and eat them. Not that they didn’t get one occasional, they did. But it was rare.

My own horse watched the shadows slide from alleyway to alleyway between the old buildings. Her large, liquid brown eyes watching careful like. She was no fool, but she also didn’t appear to be alarmed to me.

The zombies weren’t out. They rarely came near the city in my own experience. At least not before full dark came on. So I didn’t concern myself with them. But I didn’t slide either. My eyes automatically slid from shadow to shadow in the buildings alleyways as I tied my reins to the rail out front, made the steps and headed up to the bat wings. I Heard a pigs squeal suddenly cut off and hoped there’d be some meat to be had with the usual eggs and biscuits.

Rapid city had been thrown together by some survivors who had come out of the North looking for a warmer place to live. You might as well say driven out and not just by the cold, but the zombies. Zombies didn’t mind cold. You could come across one naked as a jaybird, seeming frozen at the side of the road in the middle of the winter and think it would be no trouble. But the minute you turned your back they’d be up and on you. Once bitten there was no turning back. Oh in the early years there had been talk of some kind of cure, but it had never come to anything. After a while all those Government mouthpieces that kept talking cure got bit themselves and you just didn’t hear from them anymore. Not too long after that the whole government structure fell apart and for all intents and purposes, excepting those of us who could fight, the world belonged to the Zombies.

I had taken to gun-fighting. First: you had to be good with a gun so you could get them bastardly Zombies before they got you. Second: For some reason those that were left alive seemed to be hell bent on killing one another. A man couldn’t hardly turn his back on no one lest a bullet find him between the shoulder blades. And women? Well, short of whores of one kind or another, I had no truck with them. A woman, a real woman, was in short supply and worth killing over: Even if she was an ugly woman. I’d seen a four way gun battle over a one legged Whore down by Texas a few years back. And I’d heard about a thirty two man shoot out over a woman out on Alabama Island. And she was a slatty slip of a woman, but they said she could breed and that was that. I’d come across that one when it was over and they was counting the bodies. But these were things that were in the past. Years ago.

Back then things of that like seemed a waste to me. Here these Goddamned Zombies were killing us by the thousands, millions and these dumb son-of-a-bitches were killing each other. No sir. I’d rather take me a whore in some town when I need one. You can keep those so called proper women. And I will tell you; in my experience a whore can be a perfectly good woman. Love just the same as one of those sulky, pale things I seen out on Alabama Island a few times.

They say the plains is free of Zombies. That’s what they say. They say the Zombies is smarter, they stay around the cities where they can find food. And from what I’ve seen I’d have to agree. They seem to be evolving. But, didn’t we kind of know that was gonna happen? And do you know what the bitch is? There ain’t no goddamn way to win. You got to die, and when you do they got you. Pisses me off just to think about it.

The Blood And Breakfast

I made my way careful up the balance of the splintery steps, through the bat wings and into the Blood and Breakfast. The Blood and Breakfast only served two things. Whiskey and Breakfast. You could order just about anything you had a mind to at any time of day. And they might even listen to you, let you ramble on ’til  you was done, but in the end they would tell you. You could order eggs and biscuits, meat if it was to be had. And you could have your whiskey in a bottle or a glass if you considered yourself fancy. But that was what there was and no more to be had. I put my head back to thinking as I looked around the interior.

I’d heard a lot of things about the plains. There was land. There was food to eat. And they say there’s men that has run off with whores and made them proper women out there. I heard it enough that I got to go. This will be my last stop in Rapid City and then I’m going. I’m tired of looking over my shoulder waiting for a damn Zombie to get me. Or another gunfighter. There’s a broken up BlackWay, what we used to call a road. Ain’t many seen it, but probably ain’t many been looking for it. Not only have I seen it I know where it goes. Like I said, a short stop here. Load up on supplies and I’m on my way.

The original settlement had not been laid out to serve other travelers but as a refuge for those escapees from the North. Even so within a few months all the original settlers had been run off or killed by the Zombies. The ones that came later settled the city. After that Rapid city had become the main gateway to the southern states.

The name had come from the rapids in the nearby river. Well, the river had been near town. Things changed pretty quick back then. Dams a thousand miles away burst with no maintenance, rivers sprang up, died out. Nature did what nature wanted to do. Before the first coat of paint was drying on the church building, the river had spread out nearly a quarter mile wide and was no longer the fast moving body of water that it had once been.

These days it was more like an evil smelling swamp, with the actual river nearly a mile away. It was Hell in spring when the Mosquitoes hatched but the good side of that was the other residents of rapid city, the Zombies, didn’t like the Mosquitoes  Something in their bite made them zombies drop like flies. Didn’t kill them outright but it knocked ’em down, gave them some kind of sickness, and a knocked down Zombie is one you can kill real easy. Most of the Zombies that found their way to Rapid City became residents of the swamp in just that way. Their bodies tossed unceremoniously to the alligators that had found the swamp a few years back. Alligators didn’t turn when they ate Zombie. They didn’t even seem to mind eating it. The residents, few as they were, breathed a little easier, and life went on.

The blood and breakfast was located in the old church building. The building had been gutted except the altar area which had been turned into a small dance floor for the whores and travelers. The ratio of whores to travelers was about 3 to 1, but the ratio of clean, disease free whores was about 1 to 5.  You had to be real careful. If old Doc mulberry had rejected it, you should be smart enough not to check it out for yourself. If it could kill you you didn’t want it. But of course if the whores didn’t get you, the Zombies would. And some men liked to gamble.

The blood came anytime after the dinner meal. We’ll, after it had been served , not necessarily eaten and ended. It was kind of fluid so to speak, always had been. There was no violence while the serving was going on, and that was enforced by a shotgun wielding crew of about four employees who would show you some blood  quick if you really needed it. In my experience it always turned out better to obey the rules and wait. No matter who you were. Even the gunfighters who visited knew the rules and obeyed them.

As I stood looking around I smelled coffee brewing too, probably thick as molasses and only black, but that was fine with me. I beat my hat against the doorpost, shook off as much dust as I was able to, caught the bartenders eyes, Smoky, was his name, and took the table his eyes had given me.

There was no fresh pork yet despite the screaming pig. But there was still bacon to be had, a better treat to my thinking. It seemed like the only meat I ever ate was venison or horse.  And the zombies didn’t have it that way. They didn’t care what kind of meat they ate. But of course they preferred people. It just galled me that they was never having the problems with food that the rest of us had. I’d heard of a few places where the tables had been turned. Where hunting parties went out looking for Zombies. Shot them down. Bought them back to display them. But I also heard how them places went bad too. There was always one that stepped over the line and decided to eat what they shot. Don’t let that shock you. After all, isn’t it the same Goddamn thing the Zombies are doing to us? Sure it is. Except that old saying you are what you eat comes into play pretty damn quick. To me it made no sense. I couldn’t cypher how they had got to think to eat a Zombie. The things were dead. Stunk to high Heaven. And it only made sense that it would turn you. Just about every Goddamned thing you had to do with them frigging Zombies would turn you.

Like them idiots that thought you could mate with them. Breed the UN-dead right out of existence. That never turned out well neither. I guess men just thought strange thoughts sometimes when they set down to ponder this whole situation out and there wasn’t always someone there to talk sense into them. Anyway, I knew I was tired of horse and venison, and nowhere near ready to lunch on Zombie. But a little bacon would be a good treat. It’d been a few years since I had any, a little place down toward Texas where it had once met Mexico was the last time.

I took the bacon. A half dozen biscuits and as many eggs: When there’s fresh food you take it. Jerky and hard biscuits was the normal fare. Horse or Deer jerky. And once Turtle jerky. Jesus, that there was some bad stuff. I suppose you might get to thinking around the campfire late at night, belly rumbling, that a little Zombie might not be so bad after all.

I rolled a smoke and sat watching twilight paint the dirt street golden as the sun sank.  I spoke to a boy leaning on the wall watching me and sent him to do for my horse. He was off the wall as soon as I flipped a gold piece at him and out the door.  I heard him lead my horse away, feet clomping in the early evening stillness. I sometimes worried about my horse. A zombie will eat a horse if that Horse is tied up and can’t get away from it. I seen a Zombie horse or two in my time too. Yes. A horse could be turned. Jesus. It’s a rough sight to see.

The kid would make sure the horse was inside but not penned. She could go if she needed to. I’d find her later. Wouldn’t be the first time. In this world your horse was everything. I’d known men who loved the company of their horse mor’n other people. There was something I understood, but dinner was coming so I put the horse out of my mind. The evening was nearly here and I was safe inside. And I felt good.

 

The Gunfighter Profession

 

I am Robert Evans, a gunfighter. I wear stitched leather gloves with no fingers. There is a man in Alabama City that makes them special for me and a few others that be in the life of gun fighting. They protect my palms. They give a good grip. And they leave my fingers clear so they do not get tripped up when I need them. Those gloves have always made people look twice, and a lot of what I am about is psychological. A painted picture. I want to be feared. Sometimes I think I am no better than the Zombies when it comes to that. If you fear me you stay away from me. But there was the other side of that too. You kill what you fear. Yes you do.

I don’t fight overly much anymore. That sort of occupation is dying out I guess. There was a time when the world was crazy though and we found ourselves in a different kind of life. The cities fell. The cops failed to keep us safe. Governments were all talk, and then they were no more. The dead were everywhere.

That was our time. Gunfighters. Gold on the nail and we could make death happen. I carried two fully automatic 45 caliber pistols with custom extended clips. Made my own ammo. Still do. Knock a Zombie down at 100 yards. Walk into a crowd of Zombies and take them all out before one could touch me. And although I was not special I was no slouch. There were only a few in my league. Jimmy Jenkins… Lila West… A few others. We were sent for from all over to take care of Zombie outbreaks. But the sheer numbers overcame us. And the shock wore off and those that were still alive began to fight back. And we, gunfighters, became outcasts. Social misfits. Hated almost as much as the Zombies we had once been hired to kill. The people felt we had taken advantage of them. Lied to them. And some even suspected that we ourselves had something to do with those Zombies. Some sort of bond. Like maybe we had spawned them so we could profit from them. I never made no Zombie any more than I’d ever be willing to eat one. But back in the beginning? We was feared. I could not tell you how many Zombies I put in the ground for permanent. Thousands. High numbers of thousands.

Now nobody gives a shit about us. There were so few people that lived that it looks like it would probably take about ten thousand years before anybody would need to be fighting over anything.  Maybe the Zombies will take over.  Maybe the earth is no longer for the living. But there is land everywhere. Gold everywhere. The women live longer than the men. Life is just harder for a man. Die sooner, except when the zombies get you then you don’t even get to die. And even if the women that are left are mostly Whores there are enough for everyone. No need to kill over them anymore, despite those things that still go on. Really, there are just a few of us left and every time I come around somewhere it seems there is a half dozen less faces that I had been used to seeing. The Zombies get a few, and we still kill each other too. Makes no sense to me at all.

There was and is speculation about that. Are we dying out? I think we are. Looks pretty clear to me.  How can you kill something that’s dead? You can’t. Is this God’s judgment?  Maybe. Government fuck-up? That’s what I think. We will never know for a fact what did happen, but I know this, I believe we’re done. I wouldn’t say it if I was you though unless you’re prepared to meet your God. It’s just that way. We may be dying out. And we may know we’re dying out. And the Zombies may be on the verge of inheriting the earth, but we don’t want to hear it. Saying it will usually get you dead fast.

 

The Good Old Days – Dinner and Conversation

 

When I was younger it was cockroaches. People believed that someday a nuclear missile would take all of us out and the earth would be left to the cockroaches. That’s funny because even when we are gone the Zombies will go on and the cockroach population will be kept in check, because, as it turns out, Zombies love cockroaches. Eat those little fuckers just like Popcorn. Like a treat. And, it applies to nearly every goddamn bug there is. If you study Zombies for a while, I killed them for a living for many years so I had to, you will see them do it. Just reach down and snatch a bug from the ground, or the floor, or the air and stuff it in their mouths. And they are fast. Gone are those early days when they were slow. No more. Only the mosquitoes are a different story. If we could have just found out what was in Mosquitoes we might have gotten someplace, but it’s too late for that now, truly it is.

I flicked my cigarette away as the food came. It’s been a good six months since I’ve eaten real meat.  That had been on Alabama Island. The Nation. I was looking forward to the Bacon. Just seeing it on my plate made my mouth water.

The Nation is what has bought most of this country back under control. They control the communist whole, not just each and every little area but the whole of the continent.  North, South, East and West. They’re there. I do trade with them. I could probably fall in with them and establish my own settlements, be myself again. Beef, Coffee, Sugar, Textiles, Electricity if you were in one of their settlements or one of their larger cities like Alabama Island you would think that nothing had ever happened.

But there were rumors about the nation. They were getting shaky, falling apart, and on my last trip to Alabama Island I saw that, that might be true. If they were shaking it might take some time before they shook themselves apart. They were so big that I couldn’t really see it. The only thing that made me really examine it at all was that America was big… The biggest… And it fell apart.

I mulled life over as I began to put away my dinner and listened to the surrounding conversation.

Concerns about the weather. Too much sun. The farming, crops. The Nation. Concerns about the Zombies, was it over? Was it done? Talk about a gunfighter who had been tracked down in a small town down near the Texas border and killed. That one I had heard about. Vigilantes, something like that. Tracked him down. Betsy, one of the whores, had caught something bad. Bad enough that Doc Mulberry didn’t know what to do about it. A zombie that had been acting strange, coming around the Blood and Breakfast and going through the trash. Even in the daylight. If it was like that with zombies now I guess it didn’t really surprise me. They’ve come around like that before. Zombies were adaptable… Changing… We all knew it. And then the conversation moved on and I lost interest as I ate my dinner.

 

The Challenger

 

It took me a few seconds to realize that it was quiet. All the conversation had fallen off. The roar of the silence broke through to me. It’s odd like that, ain’t it? How the absence of sound can call you up out of your thinking sometimes, faster than actual noises can. This was bad though. Stupid of me. The old me would not never had been caught like that.

I looked up following the directions of the stares and heard the low clacking of new boot heels as they made the wooden steps that came into the saloon.

He was known to me, but that didn’t mean I was known to him. I had seen him fight more than once.  Perhaps four times total if I recalled correctly. Gunfighters were so rare now as to draw attention. I drew my share of sideways glances and small murmurings as I said. And handling my own business was nothing new for me. I did it when I had to. My guns talked for me.

John Baxter, that was the gunfighters name, walked in and straight to the bar. I would have liked to have thought that he had not seen me but I knew he had.  He was working way too hard to not look my way.  He had used his peripheral vision to check me out same as I would’ve. And I was caught completely off guard. I had not heard him soon enough. Not his horse coming, nor whatever it had been that had tipped off the bar crowd and caused them to fall silent. The only edge that I had if there was trouble, and in my world there always was, was that he did not know I was unprepared. And even as I thought those thoughts I prepared myself. And as far as I was concerned we were back on even ground just that fast.

In those seconds I had freed up my pistols, changed my leg position and looked over the room completely. I ended by moving my body slightly to present a smaller target. Seconds spun out. John ordered a whiskey and kept his back to me. I considered shooting him dead right in the back. I’m not above it. Better dead, no matter whether you were right or wrong in the way you got it done.

The crowd was absolutely silent and drawn back away from us. Making room. They had seen a few gunfights in the Blood and Breakfast. Even so two gunfighters in the Blood and Breakfast at the same time had to be something unheard of in a while. Most likely the whole town had been aware that something might be up, maybe from the second I come into town. Certainly before I knew.

I looked at my plate regretting that I’d saved the bacon for last as it now sat untouched on my plate along with the biscuits sopped in egg yolks. There were at least three flies having a feast. It pissed me off, but it would not keep me from eating it later. I told myself I should have shot him in the back just for the pure fact that he was making me miss my breakfast. And I would have to eat it cold later with fly shit that looked an awful lot like black pepper after we were done with our business. John turned slow from the bar. Dinner in the Blood and Breakfast was done being served.

“Come to kill you, Robert,” he said easy. His eyes were gray, hard and flat. A tight smile played at his small mouth. His lips were pursed. His hat sat upon the bar where he had thrown it.

“So I thought,” I said aloud. I moved not at all. My own blue eyes gave away nothing of my emotions. My hands did not shake.

Silence fell and held. Just the sliding and shuffling of the feet of the townsmen, the whores and the travelers alike sliding backwards from what they considered to be the fighting zone. I was thinking I had waited too long, that I should have shot him in the back, when a twitch of his shoulder told me he was going for his gun.

The noise was deafening. I emptied half a clip into him from under the table top.  Half a modified clip was fifteen bullets. And the first four or five took the bottom edge of the table off as they flew at John.

The thing about a gunfight is that it slows down time somehow. You ask any gunfighter and they will tell you that’s true. I watched as my first bullet plucked at his shirt front before his own gun had completely cleared leather. My second bullet blew his collarbone apart just a few inches from where it joined with his neck, but his gun was out and spitting fire. It was about then that two things happened.

The first was, I felt a sudden heaviness in my chest. I didn’t have time to puzzle that before one more bullet found its mark and I saw John become dead. This one midway in his chest. Showing only as a tiny hole but it was like the light went out of his eyes all at once: When those two things were done it finally registered in my thoughts that I had been shot too. Hit, not killed. I was pretty sure not dead or dying. To prove it I forced myself to move and I was able to move just fine.

The smoke hung like a curtain in the air. The smell of hot metal, gunpowder expired, hung in that same air.

Someone said…  “They is both hit…  Lookit!” Real low… Like a whisper.

 

In the Alley By The Door

 

John finally had the sense to fall down. His gun clattered to the floor just before John himself did.

Time slipped by. I wanted to see how bad I was hit. I had no real idea. I finally stood from the table and looked down at myself. A small neat hole just below my shoulder in my upper chest. Red blooming around it like a small, spring flower. I was hurt, but not bad. I had been shot worse.

“Get the Doc,” I said to some skinny, slat-sided whore crouching in the shadows. She looked scared to death or almost. She lit out, seeming glad to, and I walked over to John where he lay sprawled on the floor and put one more bullet right between his eyes. Best to do it soon. I’ve seen a body start turning before the life is really even done leaving it. Those bastard Zombies can’t wait… Or the  Dead disease. Whatever it is that turns them. A little dog hiding under a nearby table yelped when I fired and scrambled, nails clicking on the wood floor, trying to secret itself better. I reached down and took John’s guns and personals, gold mostly, set them on the table, grabbed one booted foot and dragged him towards the back door.

I kicked the rear screen door open, dragged him bumping down the steps and rolled him over towards the trash cans. I’d done my part and now my chest was beginning to hurt. I felt like sitting down all at once. There was a little bubbling in the lung on that side. I could both feel and hear it. It was an odd thing. And I could feel the bullet in there, wedged tight, burning. I didn’t relish Doc. Mulberry operating but the alternative was unacceptable. And I had come through much worse. Much worse.

I was turned to go back in when the Zombie got me. He must have been crouched down by the garbage cans in the shadows and I hadn’t seen him. He had me by the wrist growling and snarling before I could shoot him. I got my gun up and put one through his head as fast as I could, hoping the ricochet didn’t take off my hand. He let go and laid down with one leg twitching and his back arched stiff for a second. Then he was dead for good, Amen.

I stood for a few seconds wondering what the hell had just happened. But, I knew what had just happened. I had lived through a goddamned gunfight at the old age of fifty-two just to get bitten by an ever-lovin’ friggin’ Zombie. I stood a few seconds longer thinking of how unfair that was, remembering the conversation from inside while I had been eating. A Zombie had been coming around… Going through the trash… but then the craziness of the situation hit me and I had to laugh. And laughing was how old Doc Mulberry found me.

He looked from the Zombie to my wrist dripping blood on the dirt of the back alley.

“That from the fight or the Zombie,” he asked me.

“Zombie,” I answered . I tapped lightly at the bullet hole in my upper chest.  He nodded.

“Ain’t that a bitch,” he said.

I laughed. “Ain’t it… Ain’t it just…”

I hope you enjoyed the story. Check out the Earth’s Survivors book Apocalypse, still a free download for you. iTunes | Smashwords | Nook

 

Enjoy the rest of the week! I’ll be back next week, Dell…

The Zombie Plagues 3

The Zombie Plagues 3…


 

This material is copyright © 2017 Geo Dell and is used here with permission


Watertown, New York

They came from the hill. They came from the many graveyards that dotted the city where they had hidden in fear. They came from the surrounding countryside and made the journey to the small northern city. The wolves followed them from the tree lines, shadowy alleyways and doorways of abandoned buildings, but they kept their distance. More and more they turned and made their way out of the city, leaving it to the dead.

He led them, his limp was gone entirely. His body had finished the major changes that being un-dead bought with it. He had come from the barn outside of the city, looked down at the blackness of the valley that the small city lay in, and he had known it was time.

Miles away another lead a similar group, beyond that another, and another, across what had been the United States and beyond. Across the lands, the oceans, the continents. The living were through. The dead were the inheritors of this world now, the living squatters hanging on to something they had no claim to.

He scented the air while his gathered around him. Over one thousand, and nearly that on the other side of the city waiting for his command. He knew the numbers exactly, eighteen hundred seventy-three, but the numbers were unimportant, the time was important. Their time. The end of the old time. It was on the air. In the air. He took a step forward and those behind him surged, only to stop once more when he stopped, careful to leave him space. Careful not to bump or jostle him. For such a large crowd they were nearly completely silent.

He scented the air. There where hundreds of the breathers hidden away. Hundreds that believed they were safe. He knew where they were. He knew what they considered safe. But it was safe because he had allowed it to be safe. The time of safety for the living was at an end though.

He knew he would lose some of his own, but he knew those he took would raise to join him. It was ironic really, if the breathers could only look at it that way they might be able to see it in an entirely different light. A gift. And a gift was really what it was. How often did you wish you could live forever? How often had he wished it? So, here it was and they were running from it. Afraid of forever or afraid of passing through death to get to forever?

He looked over the dark city. The breeze that passed his face told him about those hiding. It also told him winter was on the way. Bad for the breathers, but not for them. Cold was life. Heat was the enemy. Cold was something to be embraced, longed for, fought for, striven to attain. Heat was the destroyer of that life. The coming winter would be good for them, they would come together and move to the larger cities.

He took a step, another, and began the walk down the hill toward the darkened city. The thousand behind him moved as one, following him down the hill. No fires burned. No lights shone. He could smell the stink of the breathers. It repulsed him and yet it drew him at the same time.

He could smell smoke on the air. The breathers needed their warmth, but it would only lead his to them more easily. They had their fear of fire, but they had a bigger fear of him. A fear of what he would do if they did not succeed. There was another death. Another death that was permanent. He had set examples, and he could set more, but the deeper into the process they were the more in tune with him and his needs they were. They did not need examples. They knew the consequences and they understood them completely.

The walk down the hill was pleasant. The air became even cooler as they descended into the valley that held the small city, the scents of the living clearer. He stopped near a crumbled store front on the outskirts of the city itself. A crossroads, or what had been a crossroads. The others stopped behind him. Waiting.

The main road stretched away into the city itself. To the left and right the buckled and overgrown blacktop stretched away, finding alternate ways into the city. He said nothing, but those behind him began to divide into groups, some to the left, some to the right. A few minutes later, the cold blue moonlight shining off the cracked and tilted roadway, they started on their individual ways. A few minutes after that the intersection was empty, as though they had never been there at all.

~

She ran from the doorway of a falling down building, one of the several that sat at the crossroads, the children under her arms and pressed closely to her. They were really too big to carry, and she would not be able to run for long, but she had to put as much distance between herself and the dead ones as she could, and the kids could never keep up with her…

She had not heard them come but she had sensed something wrong, the way any mother will, and she had crept to the front of the crumbling building and peeked out the shattered window, hiding herself in the shadows as she did. They were everywhere. She had nearly screamed aloud in her fear, but managed to reign it in because she knew it would lead to discovery. They would come for her, and if they came for her whether the kids hid or not they would be finished. They couldn’t survive without her. She had clamped one hand across her mouth and faded back further into the shadows.

At first she had refused to look. Afraid that they would somehow know she was watching. But she couldn’t stand not knowing where they were and what they were doing. Were they, even now, creeping toward the building? Was one peering through the shattered glass and into the shadows where she was hidden? Her eyes flew open. No. But, she had nearly convinced herself that it was true. They had stood motionless in the road. A vast group. Several hundred. Maybe more than a thousand. Maybe more than that.

Some did not look dead at all, they seemed almost as alive as anyone else. The differences were there though. You could not put that many living people in one place and maintain absolute silence. Humans… Living humans, she had amended… Were these still humans, she had then asked herself? She pushed her own question aside. She didn’t really care. The point was humans Her kind of humans, would not be that silent. Would not be able to be that silent.

This crowd had stood stock still. Hands dangling at their sides. They looked stupid, but she knew they were far from stupid. She had been watching. They were not smart, far from it. She had watched them stand still and wait while someone lined up a rifle or pistol and shot them. Wasn’t that stupid? To her way of thinking it was. But when she had thought about that she realized it had been some time since she had actually seen that happen. No. They were smarter than that now. Not as fast or smart as a human… There was that word again, but didn’t it mean that there was something about them that she didn’t consider human? Something in them that bothered her so much that she could not look at them as humans? Something…

She had watched, careful not to make any noise. The children were in the back, in an old freezer room. A heavy steel door closed and locked with a padlock. Even now they could be calling out to her and she would not know. But, that meant that the Zombies also would not know. Could not know. She hoped that they were not upset. Not worried. That they had not missed her. But she had been relieved that she had thought to close and lock the freezer door. It had occurred to her though, that if anything happened to her they would die in that freezer. No one would know they were there. No one would come for them. They would be frightened, scared… She had pushed it away and watched the dead where they stood, hands dangling, faces blank. They looked stupid. They looked stupid, dammit, and they should be stupid! But they weren’t.

She had watched from the shadows as a few minutes later they began to move away. No words passed between them. They made very little noise even in their leaving. Feet scuffing against the roadway, their clothes rustling slightly. No more than a whisper on the wind, and she had wondered what it was that had bought her from her steel prison in the first place… Intuition. Had to be.

She had waited a few moments after they were gone. The moonlight was cold. Her breath fogged lightly on the air. She was terrified, she found. Still terrified she corrected. She had taken to doing that. Correcting her own words as if she was someone else. She had worried at first that it could mean she was going crazy. But she had decided that it didn’t matter if she was crazy or not, didn’t matter in this world because the entire world was crazy. So what was the problem with a little more crazy? None, she had decided. She could go on correcting herself forever. Her heart still hammered in her chest. Hard… Bam… Bam… Bam… it’s a good thing they had not been able to hear it.

She had looked out at the roadway. Empty. Not a sound, but something bothered her about it. If they knew she was here they would come back. They would. And if they were gone it would be best to leave right now. Not wait until they came back and found her… Killed her, she modified. Yes… Killed her. And the kids… Or leave them to starve to death in the old freezer… Or… Could they figure out the lock mechanism? Could they? They were smarter, but were they that much smarter? Maybe they were. Maybe…

She had turned and ran to the freezer. Panicked. Knocking aside a stack of boxes as she went. The sound loud in the silence. More than loud. Overwhelming. Sending her into a frenzy. She nearly snapped off the key getting it in the lock. Her breath coming hard and fast. Creating pain behind her rips. That sharp pain she associated with running too hard for too long. And her breaths were unsatisfying, she couldn’t seem to get enough air. And then the key had slid home, she had twisted the padlock, shot it from the door and let it fall to the floor.

The kids had been sleeping, but they had come awake quickly as she pulled them from the floor and began dressing them.

“But mommy, I’m sleeping… I’m tired,” Danny had complained.

Jessie had just stared blankly. Blinking her eyes and looking around.

“Honey,” she had told Danny, “We got to go… We got to… Don’t fight me, Baby. Give me your foot.”

“Is it the dead guys,” Jessie had asked quietly, her eyes serious. She had held Jennies eyes and refused to let them go.

“Yes, Baby. Yes. Now come on. Get yourself dressed for mommy… I have enough with your brother. Get dressed, we got to go.”

Jessie had nodded and began to dress herself. She had turned to Danny as she dressed “‘member them dead guys?” she had asked him.

He had stopped squirming and looked seriously at his older sister. “Yeah,” he had breathed.

“Well they might get us if you don’t hurry up… Making mamma take too much time… They eat little boys first too.” She had turned away and began to tug on her sneakers. Danny had stopped fighting and had actually began helping.

“Wrap your arms around Mommy and hold tight,” Jennie had told them. She had been a big woman just a few months ago, now she was maybe a hundred pounds. Maybe it would make her faster, but she didn’t believe her own words, and the little voice inside her head continued to chatter along about running in boots, and she should have changed to sneakers, and… She had shut it down, peered out through the shattered window at the still and empty street. Jessie had reached down and turned the knob on the door for her, and she had stepped back and the door had swung inward. A minute later and she was running through the shadows at the edge of the road. A deep stitch in her side…


Read more at Nook:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-book-three-geo-dell/1117027340?ean=9781492798798

Hash, beans, messy counters, Houdini the cat and ice cream

Today was something else…
This mid-morning I made brunch for mom and I. We have been doing that, brunch instead of breakfast and lunch. Anyway, I opened a can of corned beef hash as a side with eggs. Shook the can downward hard to loosen the stuff and hopefully have it land in the pan. 60 years it has always worked. This morning it slid about 2 inches out and stopped, so I raised the can to thrust it downward again and it came out on the upswing: All over the counter, stove, and wonder of wonders completely missed the pan. Cleaned it up, opened a second can and served brunch.

Went out a few hours ago to make dinner. Now I am being careful. I am telling myself… BE CAREFUL YOU IDIOT! I cook the rice, the hot dogs mom wants and beans in sauce. So I decide to warm up the beans in the microwave for 2 minutes. It beeps when they are done. Now I warn myself again… LOOK YOU REALLY ARE STUPID! DON”T DROP THE BEANS! THEY MIGHT BE HOT! I reach in and use the span the bowl method with my hand to pick the bowl up. I do this all the time because my hands are wide and it works. You don’t touch the sides or the bottom of the bowl and burn yourself. The bowl is so hot that I am rushing it to the counter 2 feet from me, literally 2 feet downward at an angle, and I clip the edge of the microwave door which I did not open all the way and the bowl goes flying. Beans and sauce everywhere. Cabinets, cabinet doors. Floors, counter. There are three loaves of bread on the counter, covered in bean slime. Stove top, stove front, toaster, you get the picture. So almost a full roll of paper towels later it is cleaned up and I nuke a bowl of pork and beans as a replacement. And yes, I almost did the same damn thing with that bowl.

Mom is trying to stay serious, I am trying not to say words my little cat Houdini has never heard. Finally we laugh it off, dinner is served, eaten and we drive down to Stewart’s and buy a half gallon of chocolate fudge ice cream… Ahhhh….


Check Out: EARTH’S SURVIVORS The Nation:I-Tunes

This part of the story really concentrates on the formation of The Nation and the people who will build it and carry it forward, but it also brings along the side story of The Fold and the people who will build that haven. It gives a more complete picture of Adam and Cammy, and picks up the Tale of Billy and Beth, Mike and Candace, and Conner and Katie as they work to sort out their lives.

Earth’s Survivors The Nation follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. The Earth’s Survivors series of books follow the people that survive and set out to rebuild their lives. At first hoping only to make it day by day, but ultimately looking to the future and rebuilding a society where fear does not rule…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-the-nation/id1004202828?mt=11

A little commentary about the weather and Zombie Plague freebie

A little commentary about the weather and Zombie Plague freebie…

Well, here it is June. It appears as though summer has finally arrived here in Northern New York, or as I like to think of it; Little Canada. That has been a joke with myself and my friends since we were little kids. It was because we live so close to Canada that we could pick up the Canadian television stations better than we could the American television stations. And as a teenager I probably spent as much time in Canada as I did in this area. It was like going over to the next little town. No different.

The thing I appreciated as a curious young boy was that channel 13; CJOH in Canada did not censor their television broadcasts. If you watched a movie and it had anything risque in it they showed it. Or maybe a film entirely in French. We picked up a little French living on the border; not enough to understand it completely, but it made us feel sophisticated to watch a film in another language. Instant culture. Status. At least to us. I can remember watching Tina Turner do a concert broadcast on Canadian television, wearing a fishnet tank top shirt that covered nothing. My friend and I were floored. At least until my mother came in and flipped out. Oh well. Little Canada.

In the summer time there were always French speaking tourists. They came here just like we went there. Now if you want to cross the border you better be prepared for a wait. And I can not recall the last time I saw Canadian tourists on our streets. A long time.

I also grew up in Texas as a younger child. There we lived right on the border of Mexico. My parents took us back and forth to Mexico all of the time. There were a few places they liked to eat in Mexico. They would hop in the car and we were there. It was pretty cool. So I think I grew up with an Idea that the U.S. Borders were pretty loose things. More concept than reality.

I only mention it to relay how it used to be. The concept of another country, a border was much different back then. And like anything else you live; it seemed as though it would always be that way. It’s sad to see that it has changed so drastically and it makes me wonder how much more it will change.

The weekend is coming, take time to enjoy it. Up here we know the deal and we are already counting down the weeks to winter and there aren’t many.

I’ll leave you with a look at Geo Dell’s The Zombie Plagues and links to get the book…


The Zombie Plagues: Book Four

Copyright 2012 Geo Dell. All rights reserved

This book is a product of the authors imagination. You may not copy, post, transfer or otherwise make any use of this material without written permission from the author. This post is licensed to TXavierGrant.com only.


This material is protected by copyright laws foreign and domestic

This material is NOT edited for content.


Take a look at Geo Dell’s The Zombie Plagues: Book Four…

The Zombie Plagues Book 4

Copyright 2013 – 2014 Geo Dell All rights reserved

Used with permission.


“Dead in the trees,” Bear’s bass voice called out.

The noise was instant, and the flash of gunfire lit up the twilight. They were all firing hard and fast and it took Mike a second to realize that someone was yelling above the roar of the gunfire. He turned away from the wood line and that was when the first of the dead came over the hood of the nearest truck and jumped at him. He yelled as he turned his gun and fired. All hell broke loose after that.

Mike drove the barrel of his gun into the zombies head, and only barely got it lined up to do it before he found himself on the ground, the zombie biting at him as he went down, missing by scant inches. Mike pulled the trigger and the zombies head exploded in a spray of red. Almost like a fog in the air that seemed to hang there, Mike thought, as he made it back to his feet and ran at another zombie climbing over the hood of a truck near him. He realized then that the fog had stayed with him. In his eyes, he knew, and he hoped that it could not infect him that way. He squeezed the trigger briefly and the zombie climbing over the truck flew back from the hood.

He stiffened his knees to slow his momentum and the coming collision with the fender of the truck. He managed to catch himself without losing his balance and sprawling over the hood of the truck. He got himself turned and Chloe began to scream. Even as he began to turn he knew the zombie’s from the woods were gone. That had been a distraction. He began to think then that they had thought out their attack. Later he was positive.

Chloe’s rifle came up and she fired almost as soon as Mike had found her with his eyes. Mike’s head spun trying to track what she was watching. He saw it all in a short burst. Less than a second.

Two zombies scrambled over the hood of one of their own trucks. Beth was between them. Already bitten. They gnashed their teeth and bit as they tried to drag her off. She clawed and fought. Mikes own gun started up but another spoke from behind him. All three blew apart in front of him and then the silence fell hard for a few seconds. The stench of gunpowder hung in the air. A blue-gray haze hung heavy in the air. The daylight was hanging by a thread.

Beth’s body slid off the hood of the truck and slumped to the ground. The next gunshot came as a surprise. Mike spun around to find George collapsing to the ground. One hand held to his stomach. Blood streaming over his fingers as he toppled over. Brad, Beth’s brother turned to Bear and his rifle started to come up.

Ronnie yelled Bear’s Name. The words came from Ronnie’s mouth at nearly the same time that his rifle bucked in his hands. Mike watched it all happen in slow motion. He had simply reacted. Bear finished turning and watched as Brad flew back and slammed into the fender of a nearby car. His eyes moved from Brad to Ronnie whose rifle was still clutched tightly in his hands. Barrel smoking. He had called out Bear’s name and then fired. Chloe rushed over to George but he was clearly gone. Debbie came from a crouch near the fender of a truck and stumbled to her feet. Her eyes were wide and shocked. The others stood slowly and looked around.

The dead were gone. Run off into the shadows of the lot, faded back into the trees. Chloe began to stand from where she had crouched by George. She had not made it fully to her feet when his leg twitched and he started to move, his hand reaching out to grab at her. Three rifles spoke quickly and his head blew apart splattering Chloe as she tried to spring back, too late. She collapsed onto the ground and began to sob. Debbie came over, pulled her into her arms and began to cry softly with her. Mike spun and kicked the fender of a truck with one heavy boot, crushing it inward.

“Easy, Baby,” Bear said in his bass rumble. “Easy.” He walked to Chloe and pulled her to her feet. “Crying don’t cut it,” he told her. “I’d like to give you that luxury but I can’t. Out here this is the way it is. I’ve lived with it for the last several months.” He pulled Debbie up too. “You had to do it and you did. And a good goddamn thing you did it fast too… No telling how many more of us might have gotten dead if you hadn’t.” He turned to George and Brad. “Did anybody see what that was about?”

“George shot her too,” Debbie said. “So Brad shot him… I don’t know from there… She was his sister. I suppose…” She was still upset and her voice hitched and caught as she spoke.

“Can’t have that shit,” Bear said. His voice boomed out.

“Bear’s right,” Mike said loudly. “Does anybody here want to be a zombie? Because if they had gotten her over the hood of the car that’s exactly what would have happened to her. She was on the way already… They already had her,” his voice lowered. “Listen… Let’s get some fires going… Right now… Then we’re going to lay out the ground rules for the rest of this trip…Bear?” He waited until Bear looked at him.

“I don’t know… You do… Should of already done this, but you’re going to tell us what we need to do to get our heads out of our asses so we can get home in one goddamn piece.” Bear nodded slowly. He turned back to the others. “Fires, dinner, then we talk this out. Meanwhile watch everywhere… Hard.”


Check out more of this book at the link below…

Read more now: iTunes | NOOK | Smashwords

A little humor and some book links for you

A little humor…

Okay. Well, today is Saturday and it is time for the test results from last weeks test. As you don’t know, because my secretary didn’t send it out, I have been doing a test to prove or disprove the theory that you can think yourself thin. Of course my secretary is Houdini, a cat, and so he can neither type or send emails, nor does he have any inclination to do anything other than sleep his eighteen hours a day and fart occasionally, so that’s why you didn’t get the notices.
Anyhoo… Last week I began bright and early on Monday morning with the negative thoughts. I am fat, I eat too much, put that doughnut down, those pants fit last week, etcetera. Throughout the next three days every time I ate a snack or a meal I told myself that I was too fat. Doughnuts were not the food of the gods. Calories did mean something, and then dark and late Wednesday evening I weighed myself and lo and behold I was still fat. In fact, according to my metric system scale I had actually gained .001 weight. So there you go. If you understand the metric system, good for you, you paid attention in school while I was outside smoking a cigarette.
So first thing Thursday morning I started my new plan. Every time I ate something I thought thin thoughts. I told my self, “Geo, you lookin’ fine.” I pictured Richard Simmons dancing carefree in a field of daisies. Not because it helped me, but because I’m pretty sure he does things like that all of the time. I reminded myself I was skinny at least a dozen times a day… At least.
Sunday morning I decided to check my results so I weighed myself once more with my metric system scale and found out that yes, I had not lost any weight at all and in fact I had gained another .001 according to my scale. If anyone knows a good Canadian or two, send them my way to straighten me out on this metric system, would you? Anyhoo. Busted. Thinking yourself thin does not work. I am the same fat guy I was last week.
In other news, Donald Trump announced at a press conference this morning that if he had, had a mother he would have preferred it be a woman. That should end all those nasty questions about whether or not he likes women.

Take a look at these books to help you through your weekend…


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. Small groups band together for safety, leaving the ravaged cities behind in search of a new future…

I-Tunes: Apocalypse, free eBook…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-apocalypse/id963866999?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes continues to follow the survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The small groups are growing, branching out in search of a new future. It chronicles their day to day struggles as well as their dreams as they search out new hope in their shattered world…

Rising From The Ashes: I-Tunes From L.A. To Manhattan lawlessness is the rule, eBook… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-rising-from/id595453162?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

This part of the story really concentrates on the formation of The Nation and the people who will build it and carry it forward, but it also brings along the side story of The Fold and the people who will build that haven. It gives a more complete picture of Adam and Cammy, and picks up the Tale of Billy and Beth, Mike and Candace, Conner and Katie as they work to sort out their lives.

The Nation:I-Tunes

The Nation takes shape and the people who will build it, eBook, I-Tunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-the-nation/id1004202828?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Home in the valley concentrates on the building of the first and most important settlement of The Nation. The valley settlement is where the people that run the Nation will come from. They will rise to leadership positions across the former United States. The first supply trip out for the Nation nearly turns to disaster, and more of the separate parties join and become one under the Nation Flag.

Home In The Valley: I-Tunes Building the first and most important settlement, eBook… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-home-in-valley/id1015548804?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead, chronicling the spread across the country. It follows Adam, Beth, Billy and Pearl as they head north looking for an antidote that can bring the plagues to end. It also sees the first babies born to the Nation, the formation of both the Fold and Alabama Island, and the loss of one of the founders of The Nation without whom the Nation may dissolve…

Plague: I-Tunes

Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead across the country, eBook…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-plague/id1015630497?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Major Weston read the report twice and then carefully set it back on his desk. Johns or Kohlson: One of the two had stolen samples of SS-V2765. It was not a question. No one else had the access, no one else the proximity or knowledge of where it was stored. Two of the virus, one each of the REX agents were missing. Enough to infect several million people, and that was just the initial infection…

Earth’s Survivors: Watertown. Fast paced action in this sixth book! Free Previews.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-watertown/id1086227131?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

This book steps back to the beginning to bring you the story of the Fold. Jessie Stone, why and how Snoqualmie settlement came to be. It begins in present day and then falls back in time to the beginning of the Apocalypse. The Fold becomes the biggest challenger to the Nations power. The community that can force the Nation into compromise, or bring a war that may destroy both societies.

Earth’s Survivors: World Order, Book 7. The Last book in the series. Free Previews!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-world-order/id1086393733?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume. All seven books in one collection. Follow the survivors as they struggle to survive in a vastly changed world, where the living are just as likely to kill you as the dead are.  The release of this box set puts the series to an end. I have enjoyed writing it, I hope you have enjoyed reading it, Dell Sweet.

Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume. Get a FREE Preview right now!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-box-set/id1154467599?mt=11


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

L.A. Billy and Beth: March 11th Billy was up on the roof. Beth, Jamie, Winston and Scotty were standing at the edge of the building as he was, looking out over the city. Things were crazy, and they seemed to be getting worse as the days rolled by. The police precinct was still burning.No one had come to put it out. Gangs were rounding up survivors, never to be seen again: The world seemed over…

Earth’s Survivors: Knock. Take a trip across a devastated America as a small group looks for safety…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-knock/id1197933887?mt=11


All the Earth’s Survivors books on iTunes

Earth’s Survivors Se 4: The story of Candace and Mike

Earth’s Survivors Se 4: The story of Candace and Mike

Dell Sweet

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

The Earth’s Survivors series follows groups of survivors as they struggle to stay alive in a vastly changed world. The most popular group from the website writings were Candace and Mike. They are from the northern New York town of Watertown close to project.
Mike was a long time resident of Watertown. He knew the ins and outs of the small city: The people; the bars. He worked a boring factory job, the same job his father before him worked, but he didn’t think of escape from his life. He had settled into it. He liked the small city and he was looking forward to his first vacation in many years. He went to sleep thinking about how great his vacation was going to be, but he woke up in a world that had little to do with the one from just a few hours before.
Candace was a transplant to Watertown. She had found work at a 24 hour convenience store but it barely paid the bills. Then someone had dropped her name to one of the local club operators and suddenly she was tending bar in a fast moving club. When she went to sleep she believed that in just a few days she would start work in the club as a dancer. Life seemed to finally be going her way.
In the early morning hours of March 1st great change came upon the entire planet, touching the small northern New York town where Mike and Candace lived as it touched every other place in the world. The world was no longer predictable, stable and the coming days would bring even more changes.
Follow along with Mike, Candace and the other survivors as they struggle to survive on the new planet Earth…
Earth’s Survivors SE four presents the only story that completes the original story of Candace, Mike, Patty and Ronnie as well as fills in the missing pieces of where they went…


iTunes: Get this book right now!


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EARTH’S SURVIVORS Free Post

EARTH’S SURVIVORS Free Post

 

EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

LEGAL

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 persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2016 Wendell Sweet and his assignee Andrea Scroggs. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.

………………………………..

ONE

March 1st

Watertown New York

Off Factory Square: Joel Morrison

5:00 PM

Joel sat at the bar and watched football on one of the big screen TV’s Mort had put in. It was a slow game, he was tired, and his mind kept turning to other things. He couldn’t concentrate. Part of the allure of the Rusty Nail was the quiet. After a 12 hour shift at the mill with the constant noise from the huge machinery, the quiet had been nice. But that had all changed once the bar had become popular with the nearby base. He needed to go home. The crowd in the bar was starting to build and the noise was giving him the beginnings of a headache. He caught Mort’s eye and went back to his thoughts as he waited.

The Rusty Nail had always been a locals only bar up until a few years back when the economy had taken a nose dive. The nail was wedged up a side street off Factory square. Not exactly easy to find, and that had hurt business too as the old people left and the new people came in.

Mort, Mortimer to anybody that felt like being tossed out on their ass, had nearly lost the small bar and the building above it to the bank. The building above it had six small apartments that Mort had purposely left empty when he had bought the building fresh out of the service thirty years back. Who wanted to deal with tenants, he had said then. But times changed, and so he had sold his house, moved himself into one of the apartments, and then sold the bank on remortgaging the whole building as well as renovating the other five apartments. The bank had come up with a loan that took all of that into account and added a second income source from the apartments that could pay the monthly mortgage and put a good chunk of change into his pocket too.

He had signed on the x, taken their money, renovated the building, moved in the tenants and then taken a hard look at the Rusty Nail. He had decided to completely gut the bar and do it over. He had dumped far too much into the renovations though, including being closed for nearly a full month, and then opened it to find that the economy had taken an even deeper nose dive during those nearly thirty days. The third month into the new mortgage and he had found that he was maybe in a bad spot already.

Joel remembered now that he had sat right at the end of the bar when Mort had talked it over with some others, Moon Calloway, Johnny Barnes, Jim Tibbets, Joel had been welcome to include his two cents which he had declined to do.

“Well, what you do is put the word out to those cab drivers. Believe me, I’ve seen it. They will have them soldiers down here in no time, even if you are off the beaten path,” Jim had said. Jim was a school bus driver for the north side district and less than a year away from a fatal car accident on the interstate. Jeff Brown, who had been a local football star, was doing ten years up at Clinton Correctional for hitting Jim’s car head on drunk and killing him. But that night Jim had still been alive and had wanted to be a part of the New Rusty Nail that Mort had in mind. Something a little more modern. Modern bought the soldiers, but more importantly it also bought women.

“I’m not paying a cab driver to bring me G.I.’s,” Mort had said. “And I know your game. You’re just hoping to get laid out of it.”

They had all laughed at that, except Jim who had turned red. But after a few seconds he had laughed too, and the conversation had plodded forward the way bar conversations do.

“Well, you ain’t got to pay them exactly, give them a couple beers,” Moon threw in.

“Jesus Christ,” Mort exclaimed. “That’s why you boys ain’t in business. You think the beer is free.”

“I know it ain’t free, Mort,” Jim said. “But it don’t cost you that much. You get it wholesale.”

“Wholesale? I drive right out to that wholesale club and buy it by the case most of the time just like everybody else. Cheaper than them beer guys, except draft, of course. That ain’t free. You got to pay the yearly club fee. You got to pay them taxes to the feds. You got a lot you got to pay for. Some fuck crushes your can you’re fucked for that nickle. Jesus… wholesale my ass. It ain’t no bargain.”

“Yeah? … Let’s see,” Moon starting writing in the air with his finger. You get it for let’s say six bucks a case, I know that cause that’s what I pay out there too. So six bucks divided by 24 is,” he drew in the air for a few moments, erased it, and then started over. “How the fuck do you do that, Joey… The six goes into the twenty-four? Or times the twenty-four?” Moon asked.

“Uh, it’s a quarter a can,” I had supplied.

The argument had raged on from there. Once Moon found out he was paying a buck fifty for a can of beer that only cost a quarter he was pissed off.

In the end Mort had talked to a couple of cab drivers. Free draft beer one night a week if they bought soldiers by all week long and told as many others as possible about the place. Within two weeks Joel hadn’t recognized the place when he had come by after shift to have a couple of beers. The soldiers drank a lot of beer, the bank mortgage got paid, and life was fine. Except for the fights, Joel thought, but you can’t load young guys up on alcohol and not expect trouble. Especially when those young men were just waiting on the word to go and maybe die in another battle that remained undeclared as a war. High stress levels meant heavy duty unloading. The M.P.’s got to know the place as well as the soldiers did.

“Joel, you ready?” Mort asked now.

Joel smiled. “I was thinking back…” He had to shout to be heard. Tomorrow his voice would be hoarse. “This place was empty! …Yeah…One more then I gotta go,” Joel agreed.

Mort leaned closer. “Gov’ment tit. I know it, but screw it. It’s all the Gov’ment tit. Road and Bridge projects. Job centers. One way or the other it comes out the same. Even them subsidies so the paper mills can still run. It’s all the Gov’ment tit, ain’t it, Joel?”

“Its is,” Joel shouted. He nodded. It was. This town would have dried up years ago without it. Mort left and then came back a few moments later with a fresh beer.

“Vacation?” Mort yelled.

Joel nodded. “Two weeks of silence,” He shook his head at the irony and Mort’s laughing agreement was drowned out by the noise.

“If I don’t see you, have a good one,” Mort said leaning close.

Joel nodded. “I will.” He raised his glass and then tossed off half of it. A few moments later he was outside on the relatively quiet sidewalk punching numbers into his phone, calling for a cab. The night was cold, but the cold sobered him up. It seemed nearly capable of washing away the smoke and noise from inside the bar. He stood in the shadows beside the door waiting for the phone to ring on the other end. The door bumped open and Johnny Barnes stepped out.

“You ain’t calling for a cab, are you?” Johnny asked when he spotted him.

Joel laughed and ended the still ringing call. “Not if I can get a free ride from you.” Joel told him.

“Yeah, you were always a cheap prick,” Johnny agreed. “Hey, I heard you’re heading into the southern tier tomorrow?”

“Two weeks,” Joel agreed as he levered the door handle on Johnny’s truck and climbed inside. His breath came in clouds of steam. “Get some heat in here, Johnny.”

“Coming,” Johnny agreed. “Man, I wish I was you.”

“Me too,” Joel agreed.

Johnny laughed. “Asshole, but seriously, man. Have a good time. You gonna hunt?”

“Nothing in season… Maybe snare some rabbits. Not gonna be a lot this time of year.” Joel said.

“Maybe deer,” Johnny offered. He dropped the truck in drive just as the heat began to come from the vents.

“Probably, but they’ll be out of season. Rabbit, and I got freeze dried stuff. Trucks packed, which is why I didn’t drive it down here.”

The truck drove slowly through the darkening streets as the street lights began to pop on around the small city: The two men laughing and exchanging small talk.

Haley

The traffic leaving the parking lot had slowed to a trickle, the lot nearly empty. The live shows were over, the bands packed up and gone, the dancers gone before or at the same time. It was barely sunset and the day was over for me. The next shift would be starting up, I had watched several of the workers trickle in as the others left. A harder group worked the late nights. Even the dancers were a rougher group. For the moment the club was empty except Jimmy, the club boss, Don, the main door security, and me.

“Why are you still here, Honey,” Jimmy asked as he came up to the bar. He was on his way back from the parking lot. It was a short trip across the parking lot to the bank night deposit on the lot next door.

“I had an idea that Harry would be by tonight. He wanted to talk to me,” I shrugged. Harry was a bookie, at least on the surface. Off the surface, or maybe it would be truer to say under the surface, Harry controlled most of the organized crime north of Syracuse. Jimmy… Jimmy managed the club, among other things, but the best description for Jimmy was to say Jimmy solved problems for Harry.

“Wants to talk you into staying here. That’s about all,” Jimmy said.

I turned away and pretended to check my face in the mirrored wall behind the bar. I wanted to Dance. I had suggested to Harry, through Jimmy, that maybe it was time for me to move on if there wasn’t any hope of me dancing. “Anyway, I ended up tending bar. So…”

“So it’s not dancing.” He dug one hand into his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of bills. He peeled two hundreds from the roll and pushed them into my hand, folding his hand over my own and closing it when I started to protest.

“But,” I started.

“But nothing. We did a lot in bar sales. You and I both know it was because of you.” He smiled, let go of my hand and stepped back. “It was me, not Harry,” he said.

I fixed my eyes on him. I knew what he might be about to say, but I wanted to be sure.

He sighed. “It was me that put the stop to your dancing. You’re too goddamn good for dancing, Honey. And once you start?” He barked a short, derisive laugh. “The law thing? Right out the window. What’s a cop make anyway in this town? Maybe thirty or forty a year?” He settled onto one of the stools that lined the bar, tossed his hat onto the bar top and patted the stool next to him. He continued talking.

“So, thirty, maybe forty, and what’s a dancer make? I can tell you there are dancers here who make better than one fifty a year. And that’s what I pay them. That’s not the side stuff or tips.” He moved one large hand, fished around behind the bar and came up with a bottle of chilled Vodka from the rack that held it just below eye level. He squinted at the label. “Cherry Surprise,” he questioned in a voice low enough to maybe be just for himself. “This shit any good, Honey?”

“It’s not bad,” I told him. I leaned over the bar and snagged two clean glasses when he asked me, setting them on the bar top. He poured us both about three shots worth. “Jesus, Jimmy.”

He laughed. “Which is why I don’t make drinks. It’d break me.” He sipped at his glass, made a face, but sipped again. I took a small sip of my own drink and settled back onto the bar stool.

“So, I said to myself, smart, beautiful, talented, and you have that something about you that makes men look the second time. You know?” He took another small sip. “Man sees a woman walking down the street or across a crowded dance floor, beautiful or not he looks. That look might be short or it might be long. Depends on the woman. Then he looks away. Does he look back? Not usually. But with you he does. There are women men look at that second time for whatever reason, and you’re one of them. I looked a second time, and then I really looked, for a third time. And I’ve seen a lot. That tattoo makes men and women look again.” His eyes fell on the tattoo that started on the back of my left hand, ran up my arm, across my breasts and then snaked back down over my belly and beyond. I knew it was provocative. That was the rebellious part of me. I had no better explanation for why I had sat,lain, through five months of weekly ink work to get it done.

Jimmy rubbed one huge open palm across the stubble of his cheeks. “Jesus do I need a shave.” He took a large drink from his glass. “It wasn’t the tattoo. It caught my eye, but that wasn’t what made me look that third time.”

“Honey, I took a third look because I saw a young woman that doesn’t need to have anything to do with this world. You’re too goddamn smart, talented, for this. So I said no. I let you dance a few times, but I didn’t want you to fall into it. I made the decision that you should tend bar instead of dance.” He tossed off the glass.

“I see that,” I told him, although I didn’t completely see it. He was reading a lot about what he thought, what he saw, into who I really was.

“Yeah? I don’t think so, Honey. And that’s a reason right there.Honey… like a treat. When did it become okay for anyone to call you that, because I remember a few months back when you started hanging around, it was Haley, and pity the dumb bastard who didn’t understand that. Now it’s Honey to any Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along.” He saw the hurt look in my eyes, reached below the bar, snagged the bottle and topped off his glass. I shook my head, covered the top of my glass with my hand and smiled. He put the bottle back and continued.

“I’m not trying to hurt you, only keep you on track. I’m giving you the keys. You drive. All I’m saying is set your ground rules. Make them rigid. Don’t let anyone – me, Harry, these boys that work here, customers – Don’t let anyone cross those lines. You see, Honey?”

I nodded.

“Yeah? Then why not call me on calling you Honey? I’ve done it since we sat down. Why not start there?”

“Well… I mean, you’re the boss, Jimmy.”

“Which is why you start there. I don’t allow anyone to talk anyway to anyone that doesn’t want that. Let me explain that. You got girls that work the streets. You don’t see it so much here. It’s a small city, but it happens. I spent a few years on the streets in Rochester, bigger place, as a kid. Happens all the time there.” He sipped at his drink. I took a sip of my own drink and raised my brows at what he had said.

“Yeah? Don’t believe it? It’s true. I fought my way up. I have respect because I earned it.” He waved one hand. “Don’t let me get off track.” He smiled and took another sip from his glass. “So, I’ve seen girls on the streets… Whores… It is what it is. Would you hear me say that to them? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t. If a woman sees herself as a whore, if that’s all it is, whatit is, then who am I to say different? Do you see? It’s a living, or it’s a life… There is a difference. Now back to you. You want to dance. Some of these girls,” he waved one meaty hand at the empty stage area, “work the other side. Some of them do that for me, some do it on their own. Some don’t,” he sighed. “Either way you would not see me treat them any other way than what they want to be treated. I mean that. If you believe you are a whore and that is what you see, then that is what you show the world, and that is how the world sees you… treats you,” he settled his eyes on me.

I nodded. I didn’t trust my voice. I had been down this road on my own. What did it say about me? That it only mattered that I made it? That money mattered more than anything else? Would I be swayed by the money? Was I even being honest with myself about my motivations? I really didn’t know. I knew what I told myself on a daily basis… that I wanted to follow my Father into law enforcement, but was it whimsical like so many other things in my life that I never followed through on?

“You are not just a dancer. There is a part of you that is, a part of you that likes the way a man looks at you, likes the money. But there is another part that is the private you, the real you. You need to keep those distinctions.” He rubbed at his eyes, tossed off the rest of his drink and rose from the bar stool. “Let me drop you home, Honey,” he asked.

I stood, leaving my mostly full drink sitting on the bar top. “I have my car,” I told him.

“It’s late. Creeps around maybe.”

“Jimmy, every creep in my neighborhood knows I work here… for you. Guys stopped talking to me, let alone the creeps.” I laughed, but it wasn’t really all that funny. It had scared me when I realized who Jimmy was, who Jimmy worked for. In effect, who I worked for. Another questionable thing? Probably.

Jimmy nodded. “Smart creeps. The southern Tier’s a big place. Easy to lose yourself, with or without a little help.” He looked at his watch and then fixed his eyes on me once more. “So you keep your perspective, set your limits, draw your lines,” he spoke as he shrugged into his coat, retrieved his hat from the bar top and planted it on his head, “Don’t let anybody cross those lines. You start next week, let’s say the eleventh?”

I nodded.

“Take the balance of the time off. By the time the eleventh comes around you should be ready for a whole new world. A whole new life.” He stood looking down at me for a second. “The big talk I guess. For what it’s worth, I don’t say those things often, Honey.”

I nodded. “I believe that. And, Jimmy?”

He looked down at me. He knew what was coming. He expected it, and that was the only reason I was going to say it. I knew better than to correct Jimmy V. There were a lot of woods up here. They did go on forever and they probably did hold a lot of lost people. I may be slow but I’m far from stupid.

“Please don’t call me Honey,” I told him.

He smiled. “Don’t be so goddamn nice about it. Don’t call me Honey,” he rasped, a dangerous edge to his voice. “Look ’em right in the eye. Don’t call me Honey. Put a little attitude in your look. A little I can fuckin’ snap at any minute attitude. Let me see that.”

I Put my best street face on. The one I had used growing up on the streets in Syracuse. I knew that I can snap at any minute look. I’d used it many times. “Don’t call me Honey,” I told him in a voice that was not my own. My street voice, “Just don’t do it.”

“Goddamn right, Doll,” Jimmy told me. “Goddamn right. Scared me a little there. That’s that street wise part of you.” He took my head in both massive hands, bent and kissed the top of my head. “I will see you on the eleventh,” he told me.

I nodded. I let the Doll remark go.

I followed Jimmy out the back door past Don who nodded at me and winked. Don was an asshole. Always hitting on us when Jimmy wasn’t around. But Jimmy was his uncle. I was employing my best selective perception when I smiled at him. I wondered if I would ever get used to him. Probably not, I decided, but maybe that would be a good thing. Of course, it didn’t matter. I never saw Don again. Or Jimmy. Or anyone else from that life.

I said goodbye to Jimmy V, crossed the parking lot for the last time and drove myself home. I parked my rusted out Toyota behind my Grandparents house, and twenty-four hours later my world,everybody’s world, was completely changed.

Public Square

Pearl (Pearly) Bloodworth

6:20 PM

The streets were clogged with snow, but the sidewalks were impassable, so she had no choice but to walk in the street.

She made her way carefully, slipping and sliding as she went. It was just before 6:30 P.M. and she might make it to work on time if she could make the next two blocks without incident.

She had been working at the downtown mission for the last several months: The night shift for the last two months. The mission night shift was an easy shift. Everything was closed down. Those who had made the curfew were locked in for the night. Occasionally there would be a little trouble between residents, but that was rare. Watertown was small, as a consequence the homeless population was small. And trouble, when it came, was usually settled long before her shift. Her shift amounted to catching up on paperwork, dispensing an aspirin or two, and being there if there was an emergency of any kind. At 4:00 A.M. The kitchen staff would be there to start their day. Shortly after that the rest of the day-shift would be in. At 6:00 A.M. The mission doors would open and the homeless would take to the streets. She would have an hour of quiet at the end of her shift, sitting and listening to the bustle from the kitchen as they cleaned up after breakfast and began to prepare for lunch.

She heard the approaching vehicle as she was stepping around a mound of melting snow and ice. It was late and there had been no traffic on this side street when she had stepped into the street at the cross walk three blocks down. The alternative was the foot deep snow and ice thrown onto the sidewalk from the plows. She would never get through that and make it to the mission on time.

The Mission was on upper Franklin street, a short walk in a straight line, or even if you had to walk around the square and start up, as she usually did, but tonight the square was packed with traffic and so she had chosen the shortcut instead. Unfortunately it was not well lit: A four block wasteland of parking lots and alleyways.

She had almost turned completely around to make sure the car had seen her when the horn blared and startled her. A second later she finished the turn, hand clasped to her throat, and watched as the car skidded to a stop and three men piled out of the back seat slipping and sliding in the slush, laughing.

“What’s up, bitch,” one asked as he found his feet and stood staring her down. The laughter died away.

“Nice ass,” another said as he moved toward her.

She turned to the second man, the one who had just spoken, as she shrugged her purse from her shoulder, caught the bottom of it in one hand, and slipped her other hand inside. The third man, really just a boy, looked frightened as his eyes slipped from his two companions and then flitted to her. The driver leaned out the window,

“What the fuck! Get the bitch!” He was looking over the roof-line, sitting on the windowsill of the driver’s door, a smirk on his too-white face.

“Yeah… How about a ride, baby,” the nearest one said. The other had finally found his feet, stopped slipping, and was skidding his feet across the slush heading in her direction. She pulled her hand from her pocket and aimed the mace canister at them. They both skidded to a stop.

The closer one, the one that had made the remark about her ass, cocked his head sideways, shrugged his shoulders and then pulled a gun from his waist band. “Yeah… Kind of changes the whole situation, don’t it?” He asked.

“Roux! Don’t shoot the bitch. She’s no good to us dead!” This from the man-boy leaning out the window of the car.

The boy, Roux, turned to the driver and nodded. He looked back at Pearl. His gun was aimed at the ground, close to her feet. She had only a split second to decide. He was less than five feet away, the gun rising from the ground, when she pushed the trigger and watched the stream leap at him. His face went from a sarcastic smirk to alarm just before the stream of mace hit his nose and splattered across his face and into his eyes. A second later he was screaming. She had just turned to aim at the second guy when the world turned upside down.

She found herself tumbling sideways. Somewhere, close by, a roar began and rose in pitch as the ground below her feet began to jump and shake. She found her knees after she fell and skidded across the roadway as she tried to hold herself, but the shaking was just too hard. She collapsed back to the roadway and the relative softness of the slush and snow, her body jumping and shaking as she seemed almost to bounce across the short expanse and into the snowbank on the opposite side of the road.

The roar went on for what seemed like minutes as she tried to catch her breath and steady herself at the same time. Both seemed impossible to do, but almost as soon as she had the thought the trembling of the earth became less and a split second after that the roaring stopped. There was no silence. The sound of breaking glass, tumbling brick, blaring horns and screams in the dark night replaced the roar. Sounds that had probably been there, she decided, she had just been unable to hear them.

Pearl made her feet and stared back down the street where the car had been. The car was still there, the nose tilted upward, the back seemingly buried in the street itself. She blinked, but nothing changed. She noted the broken asphalt and churned up dirt, and realized the car had broken through the street. There was no sign of the men, including the driver that had been hanging halfway out of the window.

She drew a breath, another, and suddenly the noise and smells of the world rushed back in completely. The screams became louder. Horns blared. The ground trembled under her feet as if restless. She could smell sewage on the air. Broken lines below the pavement her mind reasoned. She swayed on her feet as the earth trembled once more, lurching as it did. She waited, but the tremble was not repeated. She sucked in another deep breath and then began to walk, slipping on the broken pavement and slush as she did.

Franklin street appeared untouched as she lurched from the side street, slipping over the broken pavement, and retching from the overpowering smell of sewer gas. She collapsed to the icy pavement, skidding on her knees and was surprise to hear herself crying as she struggled to get back on her feet.

She nearly made it to her feet before the next tremor hit, this one much harder than the last one. She bounced sideways, knees slamming into the ground, crying out as they did, but unaware of her own cries. Just as the trembling stopped she made her feet again and stood, hand clasped to her knees to steady herself, breathing hard, holding herself rigidly, wondering what was coming next. When the shaking stopped and silence flooded in she was shocked.

She finally opened her eyes, she had no idea when she had closed them, straightened from the bent posture she had found herself in, quieted her sobbing and looked around.

Forty feet away, the gray stone of the mission that had rose just past the sidewalk was no more: Churned earth had replaced it. The sidewalk was still intact, as though some weird sort of urban renewal had occurred in a matter of seconds. Her eyes swept the street and now they took in the sections where the sidewalk was missing. The entire side of the street was gone for blocks. What was in evidence was an old house several hundred feet away, perched on the edge of a ravine. Beyond that, houses and streets continued. She was on the opposite side of complete destruction, and there appeared no way to reach that side.

She turned and looked back at the side street she had come from. Churned earth, tilted pavement, the car was now gone. Farther down the short hillside that had appeared the public square seemed completely destroyed. Water had formed in the middle of the square and ran away to the north, probably toward the Black river, Pearl thought. To the west everything appeared to be intact, to the east, Franklin street stretched away untouched toward the park in the distance. Close by someone began to scream, calling for help. She took a few more calming breaths and then began to walk toward the screams: The west, angling toward the opposite end of the square.

The screams cut off all at once, and a second after that the sound of a motor straining came to her. Cycling up and then dropping. She paused in the middle of the road, listening, wondering where the sound came from. As she stood something ran into her eye, stinging, clouding her vision, she reached one hand up and swiped at it and the back of her hand came back stained with a smear of blood.

She stared at it for a second. The ground seemed to lurch, shift suddenly, and she reached her hands to her knees to brace herself once more, expecting the shaking to start again, but her hands slipped past her knees and she found herself falling, her legs buckling under her. The ground seemed to rise to meet her and she found herself staring down the length of the roadway, her face flush with the asphalt. The coldness of the ice and slush felt good against her skin: As if she were overheated; ice wrapped inside of a dishrag at the base of her neck on a hot day. She blinked, blinked again, and then her world went dark.

She floated, or seemed to, thinking of London. A hot day. She was a child again: Standing in the second floor window and looking down at the street far below. The dishrag dripped, but it felt so good against her skin. The memory seemed to float away. She was rushing headlong through a never ending stream of memories. All suddenly real again. Urgent, flying by so fast, but sharp in every detail.

Pearl had grown up on a council estate in London: When her mother had died she had come to the United States only to find herself in the Maywood projects on the north side of Watertown. From one pit to another. Just different names, she liked to tell herself. Up until a few weeks ago she had still made the trip back and forth every day, but she had found a place, a small walk-up, not far from the mission on the other side of the public square. It seemed extravagant to have her own space, but living in the downtown area suited her.

She seemed to be in both places at once. Back in her childhood, staring at the street below the window, yet hovering over her body, looking down at herself where she lay sprawled on the winter street. She wondered briefly which was real, but nearly as soon as she had the thought she found herself struggling to rise to her knees from the cold roadway, her eyes slitted, head throbbing.

In front of her a shadowed figure had appeared staggering through the ice and snow, angling toward her. She blinked, blinked again and her eyes found their focus. The man from the car, suddenly back from wherever he had been. One hand clutched his side where a bright red flood of blood seeped sluggishly over his clasping fingers. Her eyes swept down to his other hand which was rising to meet her. A gun was clasped there. Probably, her mind told her, the same gun he had been going to shoot her with before. The gun swept upward as if by magic. She blinked, and realized then that the sound of the motor straining was louder. Closer. Almost roaring in its intensity. The gun was rising, but her eyes swiveled away and watched as a truck from the nearby base skidded to a stop blocking the road from side to side no more than ten feet from her. She blinked, and the doors were opening, men yelling, rushing toward her.

Bright light flashed before her eyes, and a deafening roar accompanied it. An explosion, loud, everything in the world. A second explosion came, then a third, and she realized the explosions were gunshots. She felt herself falling even as she made the discovery. The pavement once again rising to meet her. Her eyes closed, she never felt the ground as she collapsed onto it, falling back into the dark.

She was back standing in the window, looking out over the street. The heat was oppressive, but the ice wrapped in the rag was mothers’ wonderful cure. She tried to raise it to her neck once more, to feel the coldness of it, but her arm would not come. She tried harder and the window suddenly slipped away. A man was bent toward her face. A helmet strap buckled under his chin. Her hands were somehow held at her side. The motor screamed loudly as this world once more leapt into her head. She was on the floor of the truck, vibrations pulsing through her body as the truck sped along… In the back of the truck, her mind corrected as her eyes focused momentarily. Other men squatted nearby, including one who was partially over her holding her arms as the other man was tapping the bubbles from a syringe with one gloved finger. The mans face angled down toward her own and he aimed something in a silver canister into her face from his other hand. The hand opened and the canister fell to the ground.

“Itzawight,” his voice said in a far away drone. “Awightzzz.” She felt the prick of the needle, the light dimmed, his voice spat static: The light dimmed a little further, and then she found herself falling back into the darkness.

Watertown New York

Project Bluechip

11:00 P.M.

The first quake had been minor, the last few had not. The big one was coming, and Major Richard Weston didn’t need to have a satellite link up to know that. He touched one hand to his head. The fingertips came away bloody. He would have to get his head wound taken care of, but the big thing was that he had made it through the complex above and down into the facility before it had been locked down.

He laughed to himself, before it was supposed to have been locked down. It had not been locked down at all. He had, had to lock it down once he had made his way in or else it would still be open to the world.

He had spent the last several years here commanding the base. He had spent the last two weeks working up to this event from his subterranean command post several levels above. All wreckage now. He had sent operatives out from there to do what they could, but it had all been a stop gap operation. The United States, hell, every government in the known world was finished.

The public had known that there was a meteor on a near collision course with the Earth. The spin doctors had assured the public it would miss by several thousands of miles. Paid off the best scientists in some cases, but in other cases they had found that even the scientists were willing to look past facts if their own personal spin put a better story in the mix. A survivable story. They had spun their own stories without prodding.

The truth was that the meteor might miss, it might hit, it might come close, a near miss, but it wouldn’t matter because a natural chain of events was taking place that would make a meteor impact look like small change.

The big deal, the bigger than a meteor deal, was the earthquakes that had already started and would probably continue until most of the civilized world was dead or dying. Crumbled into ruin from super earthquakes and volcanic activity that had never been seen by modern civilization. And it had been predicted several times over by more than one group and hushed up quickly when it was uncovered. The governments had known. The conspiracy theorists had known. The public should have known, but they were too caught up in world events that seemed to be dragging them ever closer to a third world war to pay attention to a few voices crying in the wilderness. The public was happier watching television series about conspiracies rather than looking at the day to day truths about real conspiracies. The fact was that this was a natural course of events. It had happened before and it would happen again in some distant future.

So, in the end it had not mattered. In the end the factual side of the event had begun to happen. The reality, Major Weston liked to think of it. And fact was fact. You couldn’t dispute fact. You could spin it, and that was the way of the old world, spinning it, but the bare facts were just that: Bare facts.

The bare facts were that the Yellowstone Caldera had erupted just a few hours before. The bare facts were that the earth quakes had begun, and although they were not so bad here in northern New York, in other areas of the country, in foreign countries, third world countries, the bare facts of what was occurring were devastating: Millions dead, and millions more would die before it was over. And this was nothing new. The government had evidence that this same event had happened many times in Earth’s history. This was nothing new at all, not even new to the human race. A similar event had killed off most of the human race some seventy-five thousand years before.

There was an answer, help, a solution, but Richard Weston was unsure how well their solution would work. He had put it in motion anyway. Teams were, even now, deploying the SS-V2765 compound. It was, like everything else, a stop gap measure, and probably too little too late. It was also flawed, but he pushed that knowledge away in his mind.

While most of America had tracked the meteorite that was supposed to miss earth from their living rooms, and had been side tracked by all the trouble with the former Soviet Union, he had kept track of the real event that had even then been building beneath the Yellowstone caldera. And the end had come quickly. Satellites off line. Phone networks down. Power grids failed. Governments incommunicado or just gone. The Internet down. The Meteorite had not missed Earth by much after all. And the gravitational pull from the large mass had simply accelerated an already bad situation.

Dams burst. River flows reversed. Waters rising or dropping in many places. Huge tidal waves. Fires out of control. Whole cities suddenly gone. A river of lava flowing from Yellowstone. Civilization was not dead; not wiped out, but her back was broken.

In the small city of Watertown, that had rested above Bluechip, near the shore of the former lake Ontario, the river waters had begun to rise: Bluechip, several levels below the city in the limestone cave structures that honeycombed the entire area, had survived mostly intact, but unless sealed, it would surely succumb to the rising river waters. By the time the last military groups had splashed through the tunnels and into the underground facility, they had been walking through better than two feet of cold and muddy river-water. The pressure from the water had begun to collapse small sections of caves and tunnels below the city, and that damage had been helped along by after-shocks.

When the last group of five men had reached the air shaft, carrying the inert form of a woman between them, they had immediately pitched in with a group Weston had sent to brick the passageway off. The remaining bricks and concrete blocks were stacked and cemented into place in the four foot thick wall they had started. The materials, along with sandbags initially used to hold back the rising waters, had been taken from huge stockpiles within the city, and from the stalled trucks within the wide tunnel that had once fed traffic into the base. There was no way in, and no way out of the city. With one small exception.

The exception was that air ducting. The ducts led away from the city towards a small mountain-peak about a mile from the city. There the ducts merged together, inside a huge natural rock tunnel that had been part of the original network of caves and passage ways. That tunnel culminated deep within the mountain at an air treatment facility. There were also several access points where the ducting came close to the surface via tunnels and passageways that ran though the huge complex of caves. And it would be possible to walk through one of the many air shafts to the tunnel, break through the ducting, follow it to the treatment facility or outside to the surface and freedom. It would be difficult, but it would be possible. The end of the trip would bring them to the surface, from there they could go anywhere.

Watertown New York

Project Bluechip

Pearl

She came awake with a start. In her dreaming she had been leaning, leaning, holding the window sill and staring down at the street below. The heat, the cold dishrag freezing her tiny fingers. She had leaned back, shifted hands, placed the rag against the base of her neck once more, leaned forward and braced herself against the window frame and her fingers, slicked and unfeeling from the ice had slipped. She had plunged suddenly forward, falling, faster, panicked, and she had awakened as she had slammed into the surface of the bed, a scream right on the edge of her tongue waiting to leap.

“Here.” A woman’s voice. A soft hand at the base of her neck, holding her, easing her back down to the bed. “It’s okay now.” She held Pearl’s head up and bought a water glass to her lips. Cold, ice clinked together in the glass, she took the straw between her lips and drank deeply. She collapsed back against the bed.

“Where?” She managed at last. “Where is this place?” The ceiling was florescent lights in a panel ceiling. Dropped ceiling, her mind supplied. An Americanism.

“Blue,” the woman told her as Pearl’s eyes focused on her. She was short, slim, dressed in fatigues, a pistol in a holster at her side.

“Blue?” Pearl sounded as doubtful as she felt. She must have misheard. “Drum?” She asked. It was the closest military base.

“Blue,” the young woman shook her head. “The new base… Blue.” She smiled, but it was a tired smile. “You remember anything at all?”

Pearl shook her head, but then spoke. “A car… A boy with a gun… An earthquake?”

“English?” The woman asked.

Pearl nodded. “Was it then? An earthquake?”

“More than one,” The young woman sighed. “It’s bad up there. You’re lucky they found you, Jeffers and the others. Lucky.”

Pearl nodded and then moved her legs and nearly fainted. She looked down, both were bandaged. She recalled the gun. “Shot?” She asked.

“No… No, just scraped up, banged up maybe” The woman told her.

“Badly scraped up?” Pearl asked.

“No… A few cuts, but they are swollen. A day or two and you’ll be fine.”

Pearl didn’t hear the rest as she sagged back against the bed and fell away back into the dream once more…

Watertown

Franklin Street

Roux

The roadway was tilted crazily, the snow was gone. Cold persisted, but it didn’t bother him in the slightest. A small, silver canister lay just a few feet away. Inhaler, his mind supplied. Maybe his other self agreed, but something inside him didn’t seem to want to agree. He ignored the canister and the line of thought for the briefest of seconds and it was gone completely. Slipped away from him to where ever thought ended up.

He had been lying half in, half out of the gutter for the last several hours that he knew of. He had no idea how long before that. Days? Weeks? Weeks seemed wrong. Days, he decided. He turned his attention back to the roadway before him. Was it a roadway? When he thought roadway, he thought highway, something like that. From what he could see this was more like a city street.

It had never occurred to him in the passing hours to move his head, but the thought of it being a street in a city had caused him to move his head slightly so he could look around to be sure. Slightly, but enough to know he could move it. And he had moved it enough to know it was a city street. And if he could move it that much…

His face came away from the asphalt with a wet sucking noise and he nearly stopped. Expecting pain to come. Expecting the sky to fall. Expecting something, but nothing happened. The sucking sound stopped when his face finally pulled free and he pushed off with his hands and found himself in a sitting position. He flexed his jaw, it worked, tended to click when he moved it quickly, but perhaps it was just residual of… Of?

He didn’t know what it might be residual of. There was something he had had in mind when the thought had popped into his head but he couldn’t get it back now. His mind seemed slow. Not slow as in stupid though. He considered. It was slow like a computer he had once owned. The damn thing took forever to boot. That was what this felt like. A slow boot. He laughed at the thought, but all that came from his throat was a low buzzing sound that frightened him back into silence. He nearly laid back down on the cold road right then, but caught himself. Whatever this was it seemed real. Not a dream and if he could just get his mind to work right he could probably roll with it. Roll right with it. Whatever that might mean. He lost himself for a time again. Sitting at the side of the road, starring into the dim, gray afternoon sunlight.

He heard the noise before he saw the little boy. The noise was more persistent: Crying, weeping, something like that. Something he understood, had known, did know… He wasn’t sure. His head came around and he watched the little boy walking along the opposite side of the road, his face was dirty, tear streaked, one arm swollen, infection, he knew, he understood infection. He had sen it somewhere. Infection was… Bad, he decided.

The hand was mangled. It looked chewed, a finger missing, maybe an accident with a dog, his mind supplied. Accidents with dogs happened. He watched the little boy stumble along. The arm a grotesque parody of a real arm, swinging freely from its shoulder socket. Their eyes met a moment later, but it was already too late for the little boy. Roux had used his hands to prop his knees so he could stand. A second of standing had told him he could walk, and a single limping step had told him he could walk well enough. It had probably been the standing, his mind supplied now. His feet scraping on the loose gravel at the side of the street. His one ruined leg dragging slightly

He held the boys eyes with his own. Large, frightened, transfixed by the odd glow in his own eyes. He had closed the gap quickly, limp or no. Long before the boy had ever thought to call out. A second of standing and looking down into those, large, sad eyes and he had reached forward quickly and pulled the boy into the air with both hands wrapped around his neck, cutting off his startled squawk. A second later and he had dashed him onto the street surface and fallen once more to the asphalt himself. He pulled the still warm body to him.

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Earth’s Survivors free post from Dell Sweet and Geo Dell

EARTH’S SURVIVORS POST

Posted by Dell

Good morning and welcome. Hope it’s a great day for you and the weekend that is coming. Enjoy this free Earth’s Survivors upload! Dell Sweet…


 

EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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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 persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2016 Wendell Sweet and his assignee Andrea Scroggs. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.


This material is copyright protected

This material has NOT been edited for content


Joel and Haley

Asheville North Carolina

September 27th

The day was clear and bright as they skirted what they were certain was Asheville North Carolina and headed toward the Georgia border. They would be in Georgia just a short time before they crossed over into Alabama. Billy and Beth had told them they had not been far into Alabama before the state had disappeared, the highway sinking into the sea.

They were three trucks riding the sides of the roads angling their way across wet areas via whatever high ground they could find. They were close to the Georgia border when the attack came.

The trucks had come around a curve ahead of them and swept past on the other side of a wide highway median. Joel had known by the way the men in the trucks had watched them that this was not going to be a friendly meeting. The trucks had slowed. The center median was flooded, there was no way they would make it across there, but it was less than a mile back to where there was a crossing. The same crossing they had used to get onto this side of the highway. Joel had picked up the CB handset in his truck and told the rest to follow him.

He had no place in mind. It made no sense to go back, forward made the most sense. He picked up as much speed as he could and the other two fell in behind him as he skirted the road, running into the fields where necessary. A half hour bought them in view of a small town off the highway they were traveling. Joel drove off the edge of the highway and crossed through the fields into the town

The roads were rough, most of the town was a shamble, but the streets were quiet and darkened by the overgrowth of trees. The downtown section was full of abandoned cars, Joel spied a garage up ahead and angled into the parking lot. A little work and they managed to cut the locks off the garage doors and raise them. An hour after they had driven into the lot they were hidden away inside the garage. They had left the trucks and were gathered quietly looking through the dirty glass at the deserted streets.

“They will follow our tracks right off the road,” Joel said.”

“And if not they had got us on the road with no safe place to fight from,“ Scott said. “We have concrete block at our back here. They don’t know this is where we went.”

“Maybe,” Joel allowed.

“There,” Haley said and pointed.

One of the trucks they had seen on the other side of the highway idled down the street in low gear. The load exhaust reaching them inside the bays.

“How in hell did they find us so fast,” Alice wondered aloud.

“I don’t know,” Joel said.

“Maybe mud… Wet spots on the road from where we crossed out of the fields and headed down this way,” John offered.

“Dammit,” Joel agreed. “That’s it.”

“Nothing for it now,” Scott said quietly. “Well, do we bring it to them or let them bring it to us?”

John Frowned, Haley spoke up, Cathy right behind her. “I say take it to them. That’s one truck we can take out, out of three, right now. Might make the others think twice about it.”

“You’re sure it’s one of them?” Alice asked.

“Positive,” Joel said.

“Then we got to do it,” Alice agreed. “How?”

“We can’t shoot through this glass… Go around back, out the back, I mean. We’ll take him as he rolls out of the other street corner,” Joel decided at last. The rest followed him out the back door and around the building to the overgrown weeds and shrubs that hid the corner of the building.

A few moments later the truck rolled through the intersection on the opposite side of the garage and they opened up on it. The driver floored it and the truck scorched the pavement as it jumped ahead, but a split second after that the motor died and the truck bounced as it slammed back down to the pavement; drifting across the road headed for a small playground on the opposite side of the street and a construction area just beyond that.

A second went by, another, and the front passenger door opened and three people jumped from inside, stumbled, rolling onto the ground, trying to get to their feet and then began to sprint off down the street as the truck continued on, mowing over the chain link fence of the playground, and then hanging up on a small concrete barrier just inside the fencing line.

Joel led the first man and carefully fired. The man collapsed to the pavement like a rag doll, arms and legs flopping as he tumbled to an awkward stop. The second runner stopped, turned, and opened up on them. Haley felt the wind as a bullet zipped past her face before she heard the shot. At the same time she was pulling the trigger on her machine pistol. A notoriously bad weapon for long distance shooting, but a killing machine in full auto mode. The man seemed to start a slow tap dance for a second and then slowly toppled forward onto the pavement. A pool of blood spread quickly from under him. The last runner turned, a woman, threw down her weapon and raised her hands. A shot rang out and she topped over into the street.

“Oh my God,” Cathy said. She choked back a sob. “I didn’t mean to kill her. I didn’t mean it.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Haley said. “If you hadn’t, I would have.”

“But she surrendered,” John said. “She was surrendering to us.”

“Well, too late. She never should have come after us. We can’t take prisoners. Do you think they would have? No. They would have killed everyone. Maybe not us… Me, Cathy and Alice. That would have been worse. Don’t cry for her she made her bed and she’s dead now. Fuck her,” Haley finished quietly.

“It is what it is,” Alice said softly.

“Hey… Hey, hey, hey,” John said. “More!”

A second later the whole day seemed to come alive with noise. Gunfire crashed non stop as the other two trucks rolled onto the street and began firing. The battle was short lived. The last truck never fully turned onto the street. One of them got it with a lucky shot, the two front tires blew out and it dove for the ground. The huge tires making it seem sloped at a steep angle down onto the rims. The men inside the truck scrambled to get away as the men inside the lead truck continued to fire.

Eventually the gunfire fell off. No one moved. They had seen three men run from the last truck, back down the street. Two had lurched while they were running. They seemed to have been hit, the other might have made it, Joel thought. The silence held. Nothing. No sounds. No shots. Joel looked around and saw Cathy sprawled on the ground, the side of her face missing. He looked away quickly, watching the street carefully. From somewhere farther away they heard a motor turn over slowly, grinding to life. It caught, quit, and then caught again. The idle evened out and a few minutes later the engine rose to a higher pitch, almost screaming as it fled from the small city, east, back toward the highway.

Joel drew a deep breath. “Bring her inside,” He said tersely. Inside they laid her out on one of the work benches, but it was clear in just a few moments that she was dead.

Joel paced back and forth in front of the windows, pausing to listen. Across the street the first truck popped loudly and then burst into flame, a trail of fire running away from the rear of the truck toward the street and the garage where they were.

“Great… Okay, listen, we have got to go. We have got to go right now before that fire turns real bad.” As he spoke a car at the curb in front of the garage caught fire as the pool of gasoline found its way under it. Old oil on the motor, something, it caught fast and began to burn right along with the other truck.

“We should bury, Cathy,” John said.

“We should, and any other time we could, but this time, no,” Joel said. “Either of those tanks could blow at any second. Then we’ll be forced to run. On foot, because there will be no way out,” as he spoke he began yanking up the closest garage door. Scott wrenched another up close to him. Haley shoved up the last one.

“But it’s wrong,” John said. He was frozen in the middle of the floor, glancing back and forth to Cathy’s body. Joel walked quickly from the door to John. He didn’t hesitate, but threw a quick punch at his jawline. “Scott,” he called as he caught him. Scott was there a second later and together they shoved John’s unconscious body into one of the trucks.

Haley, Scott and Joel himself drove. Screeching out of the garage and across the pavement out into the street. The trucks jumping and diving, motors growling, the tires spinning and screeching as they fought for purchase. They were less than two blocks away when something back at the garage blew up. Joel sighed and followed Haley as she made her way out of the small city and southward once again.


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EARTH’S SURVIVORS Knock from Geo Dell

EARTH’S SURVIVORS BOOK NINE from Geo Dell

EARTH’S SURVIVORS BOOK NINE

Earth’s Survivors: Knock

L.A.
Billy and Beth: March 11th
Billy was up on the roof. Beth, Jamie, Winston and Scotty were standing at the edge of the building as he was, looking out over the city. Things were crazy, and they seemed to be getting worse as the days rolled by. The police precinct was still burning.No one had come to put it out. Gangs were rounding up survivors, never to be seen again: The world seemed over… More


 

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Paperback: Createspace – NOOK