A free short story and a small amount of yackity

Slowing down and a free short Zombie story from Geo Dell and Dell Sweet

Posted by Geo 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 of 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 some one 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 wonder sometimes 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. 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’s only maturity that makes us look at things differently. If so, thank God for it. It’s 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 of the things that you thought your 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’s 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…


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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 © 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 authors 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 authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.


DEDICATION

To the Tuesday night Guys.


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 aint a world where there is always time for questions at all. It was, in n 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 talkiin’ 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, 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 another one that I had also caused and had no idea about. But when a man kills for a livin’ it has it’s 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 a 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 small 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 things 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.


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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…


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Earth’s Survivors The Nation Kindle Edition from George Dell

NATION – EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors The Nation Kindle Edition

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.

More? Check out the whole series at


More? Check out the whole series at: iTunes | NOOK | KOBO | Smashwords


America The Dead Survivor Stories from W G Sweet

AMERICA THE DEAD SURVIVOR STORIES

 

 

America The Dead Survivor Stories One 

Series: America The Dead Survivor Stories, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 127,520. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
These books came from requests for Earth’s Survivors books that dealt only with single groups of survivors, unlike the Earth’s Survivors books that follow many survivors. All are double books. These stories are also written so that they can stand alone… The end has come. In an effort to help the government has destroyed most of humanity. The few survivors are on their own… Free Previews…
Get it now: Smashwords | iTunes


America The Dead Survivor Stories Two

Series: America The Dead Survivor Stories, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 131,510. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
These books came from requests for Earth’s Survivors books that dealt only with single groups of survivors, unlike the Earth’s Survivors books that follow many survivors. All are double books. These stories are also written so that they can stand alone… The end has come. In an effort to help the government has destroyed most of humanity. The few survivors are on their own… Free Previews…
Get It Now: Smashwords | iTunes


America The Dead Survivor Stories Three

Series: America The Dead Survivor Stories, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 150,350. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
These books came from requests for Earth’s Survivors books that dealt only with single groups of survivors, unlike the Earth’s Survivors books that follow many survivors. All are double books. These stories are also written so that they can stand alone… The end has come. In an effort to help the government has destroyed most of humanity. The few survivors are on their own… Free Previews…
Get It Now: Smashwords | iTunes


America The Dead Survivor Stories Four

Series: America The Dead Survivor Stories, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 169,030. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
These books came from requests for Earth’s Survivors books that dealt only with single groups of survivors, unlike the Earth’s Survivors books that follow many survivors. All are double books. These stories are also written so that they can stand alone… The end has come. In an effort to help the government has destroyed most of humanity. The few survivors are on their own… Free Previews…
Get It Now: Smashwords | iTunes


America The Dead Survivor Stories Five

Series: America The Dead Survivor Stories, Book 5. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 195,980. Language: English. Published: September 19, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » Undead
These books came from requests for Earth’s Survivors books that dealt only with single groups of survivors, unlike the Earth’s Survivors books that follow many survivors. All are double books. These stories are also written so that they can stand alone… The end has come. In an effort to help the government has destroyed most of humanity. The few survivors are on their own… Free Previews…
Get It Now: Smashwords | iTunes


New releases from Dell Sweet on iTunes: Crime Time | Necro | All

Earth’s Survivors Paperback and digital links

Earth’s Survivors Paperback Versions


Paperback Links:

Apocalypse
Rising from the ashes
The Nation
Home in the Valley
Plague
Watertown
World Order


Earth’s Survivors eBooks


 EARTH’S SURVIVORS APOCALYPSE:

Published: January 30, 2015 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic

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. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise…

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 EARTH’S SURVIVORS RISING FROM THE ASHES:

Published: January 13, 2013 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic

Rising From The Ashes continues to follow survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely hit and became the cap to a series of events that destroyed the world as they know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise.

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 EARTH’S SURVIVORS THE NATION:

Published: February 9, 2013 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic

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.

Billy and Beth. Conner abd Kate. Adam and Cammy. Mike and Candace. They have all picked up what they can and moved on. 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…


Links: Smashwords | Nook | Apple I-books


 EARTH’S SURVIVORS HOME IN THE VALLEY:

Published: April 7, 2013 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » General

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 power and leadership positions across the former United States. In This book the first supply trip out for the Nation nearly turns to disaster, and more of the separate parties will join together and become one under the flag of the Nation…

In this book the seeds of the Fold are sown and the beginnings of Alabama Island are explored through the eyes of the men and women who will found it.


Links: Smashwords | Nook | Apple I-books


 EARTH’S SURVIVORS PLAGUE:

Published: September 1, 2015 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Horror » Undead

Plague steps back to the first days of the catastrophe that nearly destroyed the world and takes a look behind the scenes at the government and military agencies that were involved in manipulating the data the world received, and developing a virus based drug that would enable soldiers to fight longer, harder, without food or water, even gravely wounded. Although never approved for release, one man took the circumstances and used them to his advantage, justifying the release of the virus worldwide in order to help mankind survive the coming catastrophe. The results of those actions are now being felt everywhere.


Links: Smashwords | Nook | Apple I-books


 EARTH’S SURVIVORS WATERTOWN:

Published: February 17, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller

Tuesday Morning: Watertown

Project Bluechip Major Richard Weston

He 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. From there the infected would go on to infect even more, where it stopped was anyone’s guess.


Links: Smashwords | Nook | Apple I-books


 EARTH’S SURVIVORS WORLD ORDER:

Published: May 1, 2016. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 181,980. Language: English. Published by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Horror » Undead

Jessie Stone’s Journal

For the record I would like to say that David’s death is on the shoulders of The Nation: They forced us out in the cold of winter with nothing but the clothes on our backs. They did allow us weapons, but only because I begged them for them. Conner, Jake, Aaron and a few others, and the guards that turned a blind eye as we were marched by them at gun point in the dark of night. There it is, understand my hatred for The Nation and her people, and understand why we have come to this place to build our Fold where any and all are welcome…


Links: Smashwords | Nook | Apple I-books


 EARTH’S SURVIVORS BOX SET

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 745,740. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic,Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
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 KNOCK

Published: January 17, 2017 Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 53,170. Language: English.  by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Fiction » Horror » Undead

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…


Links: Smashwords | Nook | Apple I-books