Kohlson turned to him. “Go on in… Do CPR if you want… They don’t pay me enough to do it. I don’t know what that shit is. Look at the way the Doc suits up. Clayton Hunter will be in rigor before anyone gets in. It’s airborn, man.” #Zombies #Apocalypse https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-four
The pawn shop was a mess. Nearly every cabinet was locked. He found a gun cabinet, managed to pry it open, and left with two semi-automatic nine mm pistols and a dozen boxes of ammo. He got to the truck, debated on the ammunition, and went back… #zombie https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-one-1
A hand broke through into the moonlight. A few minutes later a young woman’s head pushed up, and then she levered her arms upward and began to strain to pull herself up and out of the grave. #Zombie #Apocalypse #Undead #Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/zombie-outbreak
Earth’s Survivors: Home In The Valley. The valley is safety, until the first mission out #Nook #Zombie #Prepper
Collected Short Stories
Mister Bob: Collected Short Stories is Copyright © 2015 Dell Sweet
Copyright © 2015 by Dell Sweet All rights reserved
Cover Art © Copyright 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.
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 © 2015 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing construct used by Wendell Sweet. Portions of this text are copyright 2010, and 2011, all rights reserved by Wendell Sweet and his assignees. 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 or assignees permission.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
This content has not been edited for languge or situations. 18+
Blackness Of The Soul
Paul Brown settled the barrel of the nine Millimeter pistol against his left palm, curled his hand around it as if to hold it forever, and then released it finger by finger. A sob escaped his throat and a fat tear drop rolled down his left cheek and splashed against the butt of the pistols grip where the clip protruded slightly. He took his free hand, wiped the tear away and then reached for the beer that sat beside him.
He raised the can to his mouth, drank deeply, and then continued to stare at the black pistol that rested in his right hand. Once again his left hand closed around the barrel, but lightly. Stroking it. Caressing it. He fished a cigarette from the pack beside him on the floor, thumbed the wheel of his old Zippo and pulled the harsh tobacco smoke into his lungs.
The smoke, or the beer, or both seemed to calm him, at least momentarily. His chest hitched but he stifled the sob this time. The sobs frightened him more than the gun. The sobs came on their own and there seemed to be no way to fight or stop them. They were a life unto themselves. The gun on the other hand only had to speak once. And technically he would never hear it.
“Probably never hear it,” he whispered into the semi darkness of the living room. He had pulled the curtains on the outside world. Blocked it away from him.
Probably never hear it. He wondered about the truth of the statement for what seemed to be an excessive amount of time to him, caught himself, and took another deep drink of the cold beer followed by a near frenzied pull from the cigarette. He waited on the sob but it came when he didn’t expect it. A flood of tears came with it, falling from his eyes, staining his reddened cheeks before he could think to try and stop it.
“Oh, God,” he moaned. He sucked in a deep breath, lifted the pistol to his mouth and bumped the barrel across his teeth and into his mouth.
Everything seemed to freeze. The taste of oiled metal flooded his mouth He gagged, and then nearly squeezed the trigger too hard because of it. Panicked, he ripped the gun from his mouth tearing open his upper lip on the gun site as he did.
He was breathing hard. He needed to calm down. The tears just continued to fall. His cheeks felt raw. His eyes full of sand. His head began to pound harder. It had begun to pound earlier. He thought about that too. No more headaches. None. No more worries. No more anything at all. He sighed and returned the gun to his lips. He could taste the oil and metal once more, mixed with the blood from the torn lip.
His lips did not seem to want to part. He eased the gun away, took a deep drag off the cigarette, his breath shuddered in and out. He tipped the can and took a deep drink to rinse his mouth of the tastes that had made him gag, then upended the can and drained it. He reached over and pulled another beer from the bag on the carpeted floor, took another deep drink to rinse the tastes from his mouth and then lit a new cigarette from the butt of the old one. He dropped the old butt into the freshly emptied can beside him. He pulled the smoke deeply into his lungs and then let it drift from his nose as he slowly exhaled, trying to calm himself. If he could only think this out, his mind jabbered. He took another deep drink from the can.
In a way it would be nice to sit down and think this through, but in another way he didn’t care if he ever had another thought in his life. He didn’t want to take the time to think it out at all. He had made up his mind earlier. In a few minutes, when he finished the cigarette and the beer he’d do it, he decided.
He didn’t want to die with a lit cigarette in his mouth and burn down the house. Anne had to live here… Well, maybe not, but even so she’d have to sell it or something… If she didn’t lose it…
He pulled hard on the cigarette as if rushing it to its end so he could rush his own end. He took a deep drink from the beer and felt the headache ease back a little.
He could feel the buzz from the beer. Maybe it would knock down the headache after all. Either way the headache was not long for this world, he decided.
Calm seemed to come over him all at once. The sob that he had been waiting for didn’t come. His chest didn’t hitch. His cheeks still felt irritated, his eyes full of sand, his mind weary and removed from him to a degree, but the hysteria he had been sure was going to grab him didn’t make another appearance.
Through the curtains he could see the late afternoon sunlight. Still gold in the sky. Heating up his part of the south. There was no noise except the steady rumble of the air conditioner. Whatever heat the sun held was lost on him today.
He pulled on the cigarette, noticed that it was all but dead and dropped it into the can with the last one. He upended the beer can and drained it. He waited, expecting the sobs to come back but the calm remained. He sighed once, was surprised to find that the gun was only inches from his lips, opened his mouth and slid the barrel in. The hysteria stayed at bay. He adjusted the barrel so it would be more comfortable, sighed at the absurdity of that thought, and then squinted his eyes down as his finger tightened on the trigger.
“How do you feel, Paul?”
Paul blinked and tried to look around him. He found that it was not entirely possible. He couldn’t really turn around to where the voice had come from no matter how he tried.
“It doesn’t matter though,” the same voice said.
And it didn’t. It became completely unimportant right then. Just like that.
“How do you feel?”
“I’m pretty upset. I…” He stopped. He had been pretty upset, but he wasn’t now. Now he felt… Well, at peace.
“That’s good, Paul. You should feel at peace.”
“It feels good,” he said. It seemed entirely normal that whoever was behind him could read his mind… Am I dead?
“I wanted to talk to you about how you got here, Paul.”
The time spun out.
“I stole about… I guess I don’t even know how much… I kept stealing and it kept adding up. And I knew they’d catch it… And they did… My boss must have called the cops,“ Paul said.
“Actually the company accountant… But I meant how you got here… To this point.”
“I… … I don’t know what you mean.”
“To kill yourself, Paul. I mean how did you get to this point where you decided to kill yourself… Take your own life… How did you reach that point, Paul?”
“Oh… I thought about it… I…” He stopped and thought about it. “I see… It’s just tough to understand… I don’t really know exactly… Are you God?”
“Do you think of me as God?”
Paul thought about it. “I think I do… I think so… I believe you are God.”
“Then I am.”
“You are? … Really? You really are God?”
“I really am, Paul…”
His voice was soft. Reassuring.
“I… I thought you would sound different… I… Am I dead?”
“No… Not yet… You have some little time left… I thought, since you asked, that before you do something that will change everything we should talk.”
Paul nodded. “I prayed… Earlier I prayed.”
“I know… You know, Paul, people sometimes think I don’t listen to prayer anymore… If I ever did. They tell themselves that and then they begin to believe it. I do listen though. I do. Every prayer. Every time. Do you believe that, Paul?”
“I do… I mean I do now. I do know that now. I’m ashamed to say that.”
“Don’t be. There is no shame here. You are used to saying words that really don’t mean anything true. They are there, you say them… In this case you say that you are ashamed when you are not ashamed.”
Paul examined himself. “You’re right… I don’t feel ashamed. I feel good still. At peace still.”
“So how did you get here. How did you come to be here? Who told you that suicide was a solution?”
“I… It was painful… My wife will leave me. We’ll lose everything… The kids… I can’t imagine what the kids will do… Feel… It seemed… It seemed right.”
Paul thought about it. “Maybe not… It felt like the only choice I had.”
“Yet you called out to me. Why?”
“Because… Because I used to believe in you… I…”
He laughed. “And I am still here. Did you think I had died? Did you think I had stopped believing in you?”
“Some people think so… That you died.”
“No… I guess the truth is I just stopped believing… I believed in other things… Taxes… Bills… Mortgage payments… Summer… Fall…”
“The things you see every day.”
“That’s a good way to put it.”
“I have a way with words.”
Paul laughed and then stopped. “I thought maybe that was a joke.”
”It was… Do you wish you had not stopped believing? Do you see how things could have been different?”
“I can see that now, but what good is it after the fact? I pulled the trigger… I remember that.”
“Did you? I think you asked me to help… Sometimes I help in unexpected ways… Thomas needed to see… To place his hand in my side… Peter needed to see me risen… Sometimes my people ask me for help and then don’t recognize the help when it comes.”
“Like now, yes. It’s time to think. To breath… To make a decision… A different decision.”
“Then what?” Paul asked.
“Then? … What comes, comes… I know what it is to live. I have felt what you feel. Struggled with the same temptations. We take it as it comes to us, Paul.”
“So the problems would still be there?”
“That’s help?” Paul asked.
“I will help you all that you will allow.”
Paul thought about it and realized it was true.
“So… How did you end up here?”
“I guess I just walked away… I guess I chose to do that.”
You still choose words that are untrue. Do you guess or do you know?”
“I know. I walked away.”
“You know, it’s a split second decision… Many times if you take the time to think you can get through whatever comes at you.”
Paul nodded, took a deep breath. “I see.”
The finger stopped. He remembered something… Something… Summer. A thousand years ago it seemed… Anne… When they had first met… The picture in his mind was so perfect, so intense. So real, and a flood of images followed it… But… There had been something else there for a moment, hadn’t there? He had been focusing on the trigger… The pressure… And there had been something else there… Just for a moment… It seemed so. It seemed as though he had been ready to pull the trigger and… And someone…
He pulled the barrel from his mouth and sucked in a deep breath. Whatever it might have been it was gone now. The sobbing came back with the fresh air. The pistol slid from his hand and fell to the carpet with a soft clunk. He lowered his head into his hands and let the tears take over…
Get Mister Bob nowh
Nook/Barnes and Noble:
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by Dell Sweet: Zero Zero takes a look at a post apocalypse world in ruins. The governments are gone. The police, the military. The United States is no more. And even the simplest things are hard to come by. #Apocalypse #GOODandEVIL https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zero-zero-dell-sweet/1120020211?ean=2940046071467
His shirt stank, stuck to him with sweat. His boots were melted in places. The leather looked sandblasted and ratty. He took two of the pills, washed it down with water. Next big town, he told himself, he would get clothes…
“Grow up, John, as for those two?” He looked over at Madison and Cammy. “Don’t mess with them anymore… I understand your thoughts might have gotten messed up… It’s tough times like this that can do that, but they are their own, not your own.”
He had gone up to the roof twice during the day and looked over the city.
It appeared to be dead. There was a precinct only two blocks away, deserted, doors hanging open. Looters were carrying away cheap computer systems and who knew what else…
Kohlson turned to him. “Go on in, do CPR if you want. They don’t pay me enough to do it. I don’t know what that stuff is. Look at the way the Doc suits up. Clayton Hunter will be in rigor before anyone gets there, besides… It’s Airborn, dude…”
We came across a dead man laying by the road. I could have sworn he moved, so I hurried to him, but I got closer and I could see he was long dead. We stood a moment and then left. Later when we came back he was gone, and I thought, was he dead? Was he?
By DELL SWEET
Copyright 2014 Dell Sweet
Copyright 1976, 1983, 1987, 2009, 2014 independAntwriters Publishing & Dell Sweet. Copyright renewed 2015, Dell Sweet. All rights reserved
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’re 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.
Somewhere in everything that I have written over the last seven or eight years, resides the story of this book. I spent a few hours trying, but I could not find it. There are times where I irritate myself and this was one of them: Because although I could have easily rewritten the information I spent the better part of an hour looking for it; as if somehow that made more sense. Of course it didn’t turn up. Things that were close to explaining it turned up, but not the text I remember writing. So I will write the story once more.
In 1976 I was a young man and I wanted to be a writer. I wrote a short story about this closed up series of caves where bad things happened. I didn’t know what bad things happened there, only that they were bad; probably very bad. I had some vague ideas, Russians, Dead people, Military types. All the things that used to scare me back then. I struggled for what was probably a few months and managed a short story that had very little to do with the caves and more to do with some post apocalypse cave man who was affected by radiation deformities, part of which made him want to kill and eat other people. That short story was sixteen pages long, handwritten, and everyone who read it thought maybe it was a joke of some kind and maybe I should consider doing something else instead of writing.
So I put it away and life took a giant step forward to 1983. I found myself working at home and had a lot of extra time on my hands. I happened across the manuscript as I liked to think of it, all sixteen yellowed and dog eared pages, and began to re-write it. It held my attention for a while and then life took another step forward to 1987. Still working at home, only now involved in the world wide web, as we called it. A thing most people thought would go nowhere at all. I got back into writing and fell into that story. This time it actually went where I wanted it to go, where I thought it should go all those years before. I wrote it and then wrote a sequel, and then a few dozen short stories and then life took another giant step.
When things shook out again it was 2010 and I was in a position to once again write. I thought about that first book, and the sequel, and the short stories, all lost now, gone to who knew where. Thinking didn’t bring them back but it did get me writing again. The first thing I did was re-write that book. It came out nothing like that long before first book had: It had taken a few twists and turns in the writing; in trying to remember what the other book had been about so many years before, and colored by all the things that had happened during that passage of time.
In any event I liked it, so I wrote another part and added it to it, and then another, and pretty soon there were twenty books written from that long ago first book. A series really. Then I wrote another book, and another, and one day I woke up and realized that I was not still hoping to be a writer, I was a writer.
Sometimes I would think about that first book and regret losing it, but I would also remind myself that if I had not lost it I would have never written all of the other books that I had written, or at least not the way they were written,. Maybe they would have been better, maybe worse. Who can tell when you think about changing circumstances. I moved on, literally forgot about those books and stories, and then one day my son called me and told me he had found those files in a digital format. All of them. He doesn’t know if we can get them or not, or if they will be readable if we are able to get them. He only knows we have a shot at getting them.
To make a long story short we did get them, and everything except for the second book was easy to get and download to my own computer. The second book was not easy at all. I ended up using a program that downloads the file no matter what condition it is in. It simply fills the corrupted sections with zeros. Amazing. I got about 95% of the second book that way. Small sentences missing here and there, a few words or a paragraph there, but easily reconstructed.
I marveled over the technology that allowed me to pluck that book out of time, nearly twenty years of it, and then took a walk back through time and read that first book and those short stories from way back then. There were some that I did not even remember writing until I began to read them and then the story flooded back into my head. It was great.
The thing was life was busy and I had a lot of work laid out in front of me. It took awhile to get back to that first book. I debated over whether to do anything with it except read it and then let it sit. But after I read it I decided that in very many ways I liked it as much as the books I had written to replace it. In some ways even more.
That is this book you are about to read. Started when I was a kid just out of the service with a young wife and son, finished when I am at the other end of that spectrum. Kind of funny. Maybe it puts end to what I began. I don’t know. I do know I liked the book then, I thought the story just flowed from me and I really felt a part of it, and that has always been the hallmark of good writing to me, being right in the story. Falling into it. Starting to care about the characters and their circumstances.
So here it is forty years late: The road to publishing this book was a hard one, but I hope that you like it as much as I have enjoyed watching it come together.
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 © 1976 – 2014 Wendell Sweet & independAntwriters Publishing. Dell Sweet is a publishing name for Wendell Sweet. All other copyright notices are herein encompassed. All national and foreign rights are reserved. 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.
Ira Pratt stared at the squared board lost in thought. If he moved to the right, he would surely lose two checkers. Maybe, he thought, as many as four. Moving to the left would not help either. There was actually only one semi-safe move to make, and that was straight ahead. But even that move could put a hurtin’ on his few remaining checkers, he thought. Nothing to do for it though, but move it, and see what happened.
He stared into the thoughtful eyes of the older man across the table, trying to read them. No good, he was a master at hiding his thoughts. His face was calm and carefully composed, not so much as a smile played at the corners of his mouth.
Ira gave in and decisively moved one checker forward and then leaned back into his chair, waiting to see what the older man would do.
“Well, I see you have left me little choice, Ira,” the older man said. He picked up one of his own checkers and carefully slid it forward as he finished speaking.
“That was what I was hoping you’d do,” Ira said grinning as he jumped two of the older man’s checkers.
“No doubt about it, Ira, you’re just too good for me,” the older man replied. He smiled widely, and pleasantly, and then changed the subject. “How about we take a short break, Ira, maybe go for a walk. You must get tired of beating me all the time?”
“Well,” Ira replied, “I kind ‘a get the idea you let me beat you some times, but sure, I wouldn’t mind a break at all.”
“I would never let you beat me, Ira. It is a good thing we don’t play poker though. I might gamble the entire kingdom away trying to beat you,” the older man replied laughing. “Besides I have my reasons for wanting to take a break right now. I see it like this, if you and I take a break, maybe once we return your concentration will not be so keen, and then maybe I will win one of these games for a change.” He rose from the small table as he finished speaking. “Ready, Ira?”
Ira closed his eyes. He could have kept them open, and a few times he had, but the trip was unnerving enough without adding the visual aspects to it. Not that there was anything to see except darkness for the split second they would be traveling, he thought. Still…
He opened his eyes. They had actually only been shut for less than a second, but in that space of time they had traveled a considerable distance, or at least seemed to have. The small table that had been before him was gone, replaced by a lush green valley. A calm blue river flowed across the valley floor far below. He followed it with his eyes as it wound away in the distance.
“It’s beautiful,” Ira exclaimed, “but will it still be…?” He let the question trail away.
“Yes it will, as will several others, Ira. But it need not be this place, there are so many to choose from,” the older man informed him. “Come.”
Ira blinked, and when he opened his eyes they were standing in a high mountain meadow. Wild flowers covered the meadow, and a large, summer-fat herd of deer grazed peacefully among them. A large buck raised its heavily antlered head and stared at the two men, but perceiving no threat went back to grazing the field.
“This is also beautiful,” Ira said quietly.
“It only matters where, Ira. There are so many. There were even more, and there will be again.”
“I’ll have to tell Cora about this place, and the other,” Ira replied, still watching the deer graze.
“You should, Ira. In fact, there will be many things to tell her. Things she will need to know, Ira.”
“Yes. The time is short.”
“I was afraid of that,” Ira said slowly.
“There is no reason to be afraid, Ira.”
“I know that. I guess I mean afraid, as in I wish it didn’t have to happen.”
“I knew what you meant, Ira, but it is necessary. As much as I would wish that it was not, it is.”
Ira nodded his head slowly. “I know.”
The two men stood in silence for several minutes, watching the deer in the field. It seemed so peaceful to Ira, a good place to be, a good place to live, and that made it harder to accept that most of it would soon be gone. The older man spoke, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.
“Would you like to look at some others, Ira?”
“I believe I would at that. I think I’d like to look at as much as I kin before it’s gone, I guess. Does that sound wrong?”
“No, Ira, it does not, I too wish to look… Ready?”
Ira nodded but did not close his eyes. Darkness enveloped him, and a sense of speed. The absence of light was complete; he could only sense the presence of the older man beside him as the traveled through the dark void.
– 2 –
Far below the small city of Watertown New York, Richard Pierce sat working before an elaborate computer terminal. He had just initiated the program that managed the small nuclear power plant hidden deep below him in the rock. A small handset beside the computer station chimed, and he picked it up and listened. He did not speak at first, but as he listened a smile spread across his face. “Very good,” he said happily, when the caller was finished, “keep me advised.” He set the small handset back into its cradle and turned his attention back to the screen in front of him. The plant had powered up just as it was supposed to, no problems whatsoever, and that made Richard Pierce extremely happy. Two more days tops, he thought, and then maybe I’ll get out of this dump.
He supposed he should feel honored that he was even here. It was after all one of the biggest projects in the country, albeit top secret, but he could not help the way he felt. He was close to a mile underground, totally cut off from everything and everyone, and he hated it. If he had a choice, which he had not, he would never have come at all. But he had written the software that handled the power plant, as well as several other sections of the underground city, and that made it his baby. There were a couple of small bugs, mainly due to the fact that no one had been allowed to know what the entire program was supposed to do. The way the rewrites were going however, it looked as though he would not be stuck here anywhere near as long as he had originally thought, and that was something to think about. He had begun to feel that he would never leave this rock bound prison, and wouldn’t that be a real bitch.
– 3 –
At a large gravel pit on the outskirts of Watertown, Gary Jones carefully maneuvered the wide mouth of the loader bucket over the dump box of the truck, and pulled back on the lever closest to him to release the load. Ain’t this something, he thought as he slowly topped off the dump box, barely 10 AM and we’ve already sent out twenty seven truckloads of gravel to the base.
Six men out sick, and another forty truckloads to deliver before five tonight. What in hell are they doing with all this gravel? He wondered. It was a question he had asked many times before, and still had not gotten an answer to. Uncle Sam paid well though, and on time to boot, so he guessed he probably shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. He signaled the driver, and he pulled away with a whoosh of air as he released the brakes. Another dump truck lumbered up to take his place, and he pushed the questions out of his mind as he began filling the box.
– 4 –
In Seattle Washington, Harvey Pearlson sat at his wide mahogany desk and talked quietly into the phone.
The extravagantly appointed office was located on the top floor of one of Seattle’s most highly regarded newspapers. Pearlson had worked his way up from the bottom, after starting as a carrier in 1955, sixteen floors below.
“No,” Pearlson said quietly, “I don’t want to know. I just thought that maybe it could be handled in some other way.” He listened for a few minutes nodding his head as he did.
“Yes, yes I see, but?” He rubbed his eyes as he listened. “No, I don’t,” he said emphatically, “I happen to like him a great deal, and if you give me the time…” The voice on the other end of the line cut him off, and he once again listened quietly.
“I see,” he said, once the voice had finished speaking. “No, I do understand. I won’t. Do you think I’m that stupid? Give me a little credit here, will you. You wouldn’t even be aware of it if I hadn’t called you in the first place, for Christ’s sake.” He listened for a few seconds longer, then hung up the phone.
There was no reasoning with Weekes, he told himself, and he was going to do what he was going to do. For Frank’s sake, he wished he had never called him at all. Too late now though, he told himself, far too late. After all, he had done his best to swing Frank away from the story, but Frank Morgan was not a man who could be easily swayed, and, he told himself, unless he wanted to find himself in the same circumstances, he had better just shut up and let it go. He reached over and thumbed the intercom button.
“I’m going to be out the rest of the day, Cindy, and if Frank Morgan comes looking for me before he leaves, you don’t know where I am, correct?”
“Anything important comes up you can reach me on my mobile, Cindy.”
“Yes Sir, Mister Pearlson.”
Harvey Pearlson picked up his briefcase and left the office. Whatever Weekes had in mind, he wanted nothing to do with it, and he didn’t want to be available for any sort of questions that might arise either. It was unfortunate enough that he had started the whole ball rolling;he had no intention of sticking around to see where it ended up stopping. No, he told himself, the lake was the best place to be. The only place to be, and he intended to stay there until the whole thing blew over just as he had been told to.
He took his private elevator down to the garage area, walked across to his Lincoln, and drove out of the parking garage, turning right on Beechwood. He passed a hooker standing at the corner of the building, and thought just how badly Beechwood Avenue had gotten as of late. He would have to speak to the security people when he got back from the lake. Putting up with the hookers that had taken over the avenue at night was one thing, but broad daylight? Standing right in front of the frigging building? No, something would have to be done, and if the security people couldn’t take care of it, maybe he’d speak to Weekes. After all, he owed him one now, didn’t he? He pushed the thought away, signaled, and pulled out onto the loop. In an hour he’d be at the lake, and then he could forget about the whole mess, for today at least. He eased the car up to sixty, and leaned back into the leather upholstery to enjoy the drive.
– 5 –
April 11th 1952
Ira Pratt drove the old tractor carefully down the side of the slippery hill. It had been raining for close to three days, and it didn’t look as though it was going to let up right quick, he thought.
The rain was causing all sorts of problems, and not just for him, he knew, but for the cows as well. The biggest problem was the creek, and the only way the creek wasn’t going to be a problem was to unplug the thing.
He sat on the tractor as it slipped and slid its way down the hill through the gray sheets of rain. Ira let out a sigh of relief once it reached the bottom. For a second there, he had been sure both he and the old tractor would end up in the creek, but God was smiling on him today.
He slipped the worn gearbox into neutral, and sat looking at the rush of muddy-brown water. The creek was a good four feet above the point of flooding, and he wasn’t sure it was a smart move to try to put the tractor in that. The tractor was sure footed, but so was a goat, and he’d seen more than one goat end up on its ass. But there wasn’t anything else for it. If he didn’t move the trees that were clogging the creek, and flooding it out and over the banks, then he might as well just sit back and watch a couple more cows drown.
Ira knew cows, pretty much anyhow, and every one that he and Cora owned were just as stupid as any other cow he’d ever seen. The cows didn’t understand flooding, they didn’t understand how the water could weaken the banks, and so the big dummies just walked on down to the creek, just like any other day, and got swept away when the bank crumbled under their weight. Three days of rain and four dead cows, and though cows were stupid, they weren’t cheap.
Ira sat in the pouring rain and stared at the creek. Normally, the creek was no more than eighteen inches deep at the most. Course normal wasn’t what it was today, he thought, and wishin’ it was wouldn’t make it so. It was his own damn fault, he reminded himself. Two of the trees that were clogging it had been there last summer, and hadn’t he promised Cora he’d take ’em out before fall? He had, but he hadn’t, and so here he was in the pouring rain fixin’ to half kill himself to get ’em out.
Looked like the best way, Ira thought, might be to try and snag the biggest one right from the bank. He squinted as he shielded his eyes to peer through the rain. One thing was for sure, sittin’ on the tractor and thinkin’ about it, wasn’t gonna get it. Reluctantly, Ira climbed down off the tractor and edged closer to the bank. The rain was coming down hard, but the section he stood upon seemed solid enough. “Probably what the cows thought,” he muttered as he moved closer.
He walked back to the tractor, unwound a long section of chain from behind the seat, and walked back to the creek. The top of the bigger tree was sticking a good three feet over the bank, and he was glad that it was. He could see that the water was rising faster, and moving along quicker, and he had no wish to get any closer to it than he had to. Quickly, but carefully, he wound the chain around the tree and pegged the links with an old bolt to hold them. Looks good, and solid as well, he thought as he slipped the other end of the chain over the bucket. He genuinely didn’t want to try and turn the tractor around. In fact, he thought, as muddy as the ground was, he’d be damn lucky just to get it back up and away from the creek when he finished.
He gave an experimental tug at the chain, and then climbed back up on the tractor. Carefully, without grinding the gears any more than he surely had to, shifted into reverse. He played the clutch out slowly and brought up the slack in the chain.
“Well God?” He asked, looking skyward, “You keepin’ a watch down here? I could sure use a hand about now, Lord. Amen,” Ira finished.
He let the clutch out a little further, playing the gas pedal as he did, and let the tractor go to work. The oversized tires spun, caught, and the tractor began to slowly back up the steep bank, pulling the tree out of the muddy water as it did. Ira released the breath he had been holding, and just as he did the chain snapped in two. Ira barely had time to register what had happened, when the old tractor flipped, crushing him beneath it.
Check out Zero Zero now
I decided to write about what I have written. It might surprise you to know what I have written and published, and what I have written that remains unpublished at this time and may always remain unpublished…
Zombie: I would love to start out by saying I am done with writing the Zombie series of books, but I am not. I began another that I may eventually publish and it has about 50 pages to go, maybe. I say maybe because I have cut the story down twice and it has still ballooned, right now about 111,000 words. With 50 pages left to proof, and the ending as yet unwritten, only suggested with a few hundred words, I am unsure where it may end up. I do know that it will finish up sometime this coming week, I will do a read through, and then it will go to the editor when she is ready for it. I would say some time toward spring it should be ready. I will give it away for a weekend and then it will settle into its place. That will determine whether there will ever be another Zombie book. But I am sure there will be though. It is a really good story.
The story-line (No spoiler here) will take us back to March and the beginnings of the whole thing. We will not be back with our familiar friends, Mike, Candace, Patty, Ronnie, Bob and the rest of the eight though. Instead we will be somewhere else with other characters. By the end of the book we will have come up to current series time, IE: to the same place that Earth’s Survivors Book Three ends, and a little past that. So that when Earth’s Survivors Book Four comes out this fall the Zombie killing team will be in place and known by you, whether you read both book series or not. That is because you could get by with the description and brief introduction of some of the characters from the Zombie books at the end of Earth’s Survivors Book Three. You could pick enough up through the balance of book four to get an idea of who they are.
So, the upthrust is, you do not have to buy one to understand the other. There are other books planned where they will bleed together. There are two that I can think of where they will be in the same time line exactly. But, with very few exceptions the characters are their own. The exceptions are Mike, Candace, Ronnie, Patty, Bob, Janet, Lilly, Annie and Tim, Tom and occasionally a few other minor characters from the Earth’s Survivors main series showing up in the Zombie books. This is because they work for the Nation. They are part of the Nation. They protect the nation, and so there will be some back and forth. Of course Donita will be in both series as she plans to kill the nation and bring them into her own armies, and she will be in constant conflict with Bear and the other Zombie characters.
The main focus of the Zombie series will be the battle with the dead, the other living factions, and keeping the Nation resupplied. These are meant to be fast paced action based stories. There are six more books written at this time.
As you can imagine, Bear, Cammy, Beth, Billy, Pearl* and Donita will be in the main Earth’s Survivors series as well. I believe I explained that well. At least I hope I did not confuse you.
*As yet you have not met Pearl. She is from the UK and is introduced in the first Zombie book near the end. I can’t say much more about the circumstances, except Pearl is a permanent character in the series.
America The Dead: America The Dead is the third leg of the Earth’s Survivors series. It is written. Six books worth of it. America The Dead was available for a very short time, but was never actually sold. This is a series that occupies the same timeline as Earth’s Survivors, and they do eventually meet one another, but a very long way into the series for both series of book. There is approximately a half million words written for this series. I have not firmly decided whether the series will ever be released.
Rebecca Monet: The Rebecca Monet novels follow a young woman as she works her way up the corporate ladder in the Television News business. There are six books written (Seven or eight outlined), and two more outlined for this series. My next project, in just a few weeks will be finishing Billy Jingo, the first novel in the series. Then I may as well finish Hurricane, the second Rebecca Monet novel, because a few months back I spent quite a bit of time working on first one then the other. They are ready to be written. There are four other books written, Alone – Kat and Pat- Rebecca, and a second Billy Jingo novel to cap the series.
Rebecca, the lead character from These novels, is in the Earth’s Survivors series. Her name is changed, but she gives herself away.
Candace, Patty and Mike, main Earth’s Survivors Characters, all have cameos in the Rebecca Monet books, which are set in the before times.
Earth’s Survivors: Book four will be out in the fall of this year. Book four, and the books that follow, will concentrate more heavily on the community and the lives of the people as they rebuild their world. Yes, there will be dead, wars, action, but the main overall focus will be on the people and their lives in the valley and where ever else they may find themselves.
Eve: Eve is a small two book series that really focuses on the struggles of a small party as they try to stay alive in the changed world. They are in the same circumstance as Earth’s Survivors, except some ten years in the future when we come to know them. These two books are intense people books. They never cross lines with the Nation unless there is some point in the future that I have not yet written.
Yeshua: One of the things time alone will do for you is cause you to examine your self.Your motivations. What you truly believe in. I did that. I found there was a great deal of myself that was not worth keeping. I found that I had fairly strong beliefs. I also found that I don’t believe everything I am told. So, I sat out to be able to understand enough Greek, Latin, and Chaldea to be able to read the actual biblical translations and decide for myself what they said.Easy. That is sarcasm, Sheldon.
Ten years later I had a book. My own translation of the bible. It took a very long time to write. It deals only with the New testament and nothing else. I do not know if I will ever publish it. I do know that before I do three ministers I know will read it. I do not want to be mistaken when it comes to God.
Short Stories: Dozens and Dozens of them. I will publish them in volumes. There are currently 24 books of writing that has to be transcribed. That is not counting Lyrics, Poetry, etc.
Dreamers: Three more books in the Dreamers series are written. I currently have no plans to publish them.
Zero Zero: There are three more novels finished with these characters. Right now I can not see them being published.
The Editor: Yes. There is an editor now. She is very good. She has the right to put her name in the books as she edits, I don’t know that she will do that though. You may never hear about her again except as you read you should find no mistakes in the books. I had hoped for this solution a few months back, waited, but it did not happen. It actually has happened now. She finished work on previous books and will go down the line, including new books as I finish them. I will not bug her, hurry her, I will just be grateful for her.
And, the last word on writing: I will attempt to answer the why of the writing, or at least the most often asked question.
“Why, if you have written all of these novels, don’t you simply publish them?”
A few reasons. The first direct answer, is that all of them are written, but they are written in long hand. In composition notebooks. At the time it worked for me. But the problem now is to get them from that long hand and into a word processor format that can be published.
I have tried a few ways of doing this. I thought the easiest would be Speech to Text (You can’t hear me but I am laughing; I am laughing hard). Let’s say that if the speech to text software improves at some point in the near future I will try it again, but thus far my experience has been poor to say the least. (Ithink you can find more on that in one of my blogs).
Second, more involved answer: They are complete novels. Start to finish, but, as I re-write them into the word processor, I jump right back into that story and the story grows. It is a creative process. There is not much I can do to speed it up. I can sit down and write a fresh story in about two weeks start to finish. I mean a 75k to 100k novel. It may not be perfect, but it will be complete, in need only of editing and regular re-writes. Reading my own crappy handwriting, and then typing the story in with revisions, however, takes me about a month. I sometimes think it would be better to just write a whole newbook. IE: That is exactly what I did for the first Zombie Book. There was no Outrunner team that explained the characters origins. I wanted one. Two weeks ago I sat down with the First Mission book to write it, instead I wrote the new story that introduces the characters. I was pretty happy with it, but you can see how the time gets spent.
The third thing is, what to write? Should I write only Earth’s Survivors books because there are fans and the books pay the bills? ‘Yes, I tell myself, do that.’ but then there are other books that speak to me. So, I am trying to fairly split these books up. Most authors offer one or two books a year, I have given three Earth’s Survivors books this year, and you will have the Zombie book, which is also an Earth’s Survivors book, and you will get one more Earth’s Survivors book before the year is out, so, five. And, as long as there is a demand from you for those books I will write them. In fact, if there were no demand I would write them. That is how I wrote the first twenty.
There were just two guys back then who gathered to listen to my stories about the end of the world. Two guys. That was it. Before them there was only me. I had to like it, get into it, to write it. In a creative writing class I took, there were about sixpeople that showed up on a regular basis to class. We read each other stories, short stories only, and encouraged each other to write.
My point is, I think some people who read books, think writers sit down and write for them. And, in a sense we obviously do. If you didn’t like what we write we would be back working our old jobs, mine would be a carpenter, singer/song writer, in a minute. But, we don’t really do that at all. Our first fan is us. I have to like what I write or it will not come to me. I think a blog I wrote a week or so ago gets into the creative process and how it works for me. It really comes to a miracle. I have no real way of knowing how the process works. I only know it does work. And I know the first fan is me. Then maybe a few people I trust, and it goes outward from there. And then, once the process has come to fruition, I try to write for you, try to write what I believe you want to read, but it comes out as it comes out.
So, that is the longer explanation. Because, when I sit down to write, what comes to me comes. Like sitting down with the first Outrunner book and then writing a whole new novel. Just stick with me though, I will write it all out, and I will listen.
Other Things: IE, A little humor
Rain and New York: The rain in New York this year has been ridiculous. It seems that the only time it isn’t raining is when the humidity is 98% and the temp is 89 to 99 and it’s getting ready to rain, and you can’t move without melting. Arrgg. Oh, and when it’s drizzling, which I believe is rain, but I was warned is not called rain, but drizzle, so therefore may not actually be rain. Hmm. And…
Six billion cable channels: I have noticed that although I have six billion cable channels there is nothing at all to watch. Unless I like cooking shows, selling shows, reality shows, basketball, baseball and football Girlfriend/Wives shows, guys with70’s hairdos selling music from the, surprise, 70’s. Um sitcoms from the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, oh and 90’s too. Um, tractor pulling, Bear hunting, NASCAR racing, witch hunting, alligator wrestling, speedboat racing, and some stuff that I pause and go What the Hell is that, as I’m going by. Doctor Phil, Price is Right, Jerry Springer, Ellen, Holy God, the list just goes on and on.
So, I said to myself, why can’t I find something out of all of that to watch? But the answer is clear, IDHTC Envy. IDHTC Envy is a very real thing. It is propagated by the cable network of course, because it pays them to do it. IDHTC Envy, (I don’t Have That Channel Envy) is a rough deal. Here’s how it gets me.
I know I don’t get HBO, CINEMAX, ENCORE and a sixty two thousand other channels. Okay. Great. I don’t get them. I’ll just go look at the ones I do get. But, on the way to the channels I do get, I happen by the channels I don’t get, and I see all the really great stuff they have that I don’t get. Never mind I get all theShowtime channels. Sundance. IFC, Free Movies on Demand, The Movie Channel andthe LMN movie channel-More about that channel. I mean, how many movies cant here be about a guy who screws over a woman and she ends up paying him back? Tracking him down and bringing him to justice. I mean, do all men do these things? Apparently dozens and dozens of them do, because that is all that LMN shows. Oh, and I get the second LMN channel that shows all the other movies like that that the first channel doesn’t have time to show, because, alas, there are only twenty four hours in a day, thank you God.
Where wasI? Oh, so, I do get good channels (Excluding that channel and channels I like to think of as the wacko channels. I’ll just shut up about those channels, but we all know they are there). But, I get good channels too. However, every time I go by HBO orCinemax I tell myself… DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! And I try not to look, but Ihave to know what channel I’m on as I pass, right? And I see it… It doesn’tmatter what, only that it’s something better than what I get on the channels I can watch.
So then I get depressed and dive right in. Torture myself going through all of the channels I don’t get. I click on them anyway. “Click to buy !,” the screen says. I chicken out. I have better uses for my $7.95 I tell myself. But, I have looked. Now I can not go back to the same old same old.
Oh, I will go and watch my sub-standard movie on the channel I do get, but all the time my heart is lusting after the movie I saw the description of on the other channel Idon’t get. Why, I ask myself? Why Why Why!
So, I decided in the end, I have plenty to watch, I am simply suffering from IDHTC. I take an aspirin and watch Grapes of Wrath for the fifteenth time. I can really feel for the Joad’s, I’m suffering too. If Henry Fonda only knew.
That’s my week here, except the rain, which never seems to stop. I am pretty sure it will though about the time the snow starts flying…
Have a good week…
I have been absorbed in the world of Bear, Beth, Billy, Cammy and the other Zombie characters. When I write, that is the way it is for me. I jump in and it is as good as a movie for me, in many ways even better. The craft, or art, of writing is like that for me…
I imagine it is like that for other writers, I know several, but I have never really asked. So, for all I know, it is only me. That sort of brings me to my topic for this week. Writing and writers.
I thought about this the other day. I do not have any non-writer friends. And, I realized the other day that I live in a bubble. I don’t purposely live in a bubble, but, a bubble is a bubble, purpose built or not.
Some of it is unavoidable, because of the way I am, the rest is how it becomes because of that same thing. My time is my own. there is no one at all to put designs on it, make me feel guilty about how I spend it, and, I have lived that way for so long that I am pretty sure I could not be housebroken now.
Not all of my writer friends do that to the same extreme that I do, but nearly all of them do it to at least a lesser degree. To me eighteen hours of writing is no big deal. To me pounding out a novel in fourteen days, also no big deal. But ask me what day it is? That isn’t a joke. I can not tell you how many times one of my friends has said, ‘Hey, it’s Friday,’ and I’ll look at them like they’re speaking Russian. ‘What do you mean Friday?’ ‘Ha Ha.’ ‘No, it really is Friday,or Tuesday, or the 28th, or whatever.’ Of course I’ll look at a calendar, watch, something, like they would really take the time to lie to me. They’re writers but their imagination isn’t that good, is it? Nope. It’s me. I fell into this world or that one and the time slipped away. It’s that simple.
What is pretty cool, what makes it so addictive, as a writer, is watching something come from nothing at all. No, I do not know where it comes from. I can not force it to come if it isn’t there. I have rarely been able to write exactly what I choose to write either, but when it shows up and it’s right there at the tips of your fingers, pouring out onto the page, and I am reading it, it is amazing. When that happens I don’t want to stop. I am afraid that if I do the words will go someplace else. To someone else, and they will write my story, only it will no longer be my story, it will be their story. So I hang in there, type, let the magic pour out of my fingers, and then someone says, ‘Uh, you do know it’s Friday, right?’
That is writing for me. And there are times when it has to stop. When sleep has to take over. And in the old days I would come back from that break for sleep, slouch back to my chair, stare at my monitor, and think. Well, that’s that. My head is empty. The story is gone. Shouldn’t have gone to sleep. Two seconds later the words are pouring out. The story is back from where ever it went to and I am along for the ride again. So when my other writer friends ask me about how I wrote this or that I really have no answer. In fact, usually I’ll look at them like, well, where do you get your stuff? Walmart Writers Aisle? Or I’ll get the writer I don’t understand who will give me the song and dance about how he or she plotted this out, and then did this and then pulled teeth to write it, and then… I have no idea what he or she means. The process is not that way for me at all and I have tried it, writing on demand, the same way they do it, and I turn out stuff that seems like cardboard.
That is not to say I can not write something off the cuff. I can. But, it works this way: Someone says, ‘Hey. Could you write me a story about a three legged dog that stops to sniff at a dead cat on the interstate during rush hour traffic, gets run over by a Semi and comes back as a Vampire dog that sleeps in the woods, flags down Semis on the highway and kills the drivers as retribution?’ … ‘Uh,no… Sorry. And, if you can find someone who can, well, you should hire them.’
But, I will go back and think… Hmm a three legged dog… Dead cat… What the hell happened with that cat anyway? And why didn’t the semi driver stop?… Hmm…Maybe he didn’t stop because he was distracted by the truck stop cutie he had picked up… Right, and the cat… The cat had been on the way to it’s kittens which were across the highway… Hidden in the woods… And I’ll work it out in my head like that. But then I’ll set down and the story just shows up. It ends up being about the Truck Driver and his drug addicted Daughter and it turns out the Cat and the Dog were simple distractions. Huh, I’ll think as I write it. I’ll be damned. Then, just at the end, the damn Cat comes back, abetted by her three legged dog friend, and kills the trucker. And I’ll think ‘Son of a bitch, I never saw that coming.’
Let me give you an example: In the Earth’s Survivors series, Molly and Nellie, major characters, are along on a resupply trip. Nellie gets shot and killed. I am shocked as I write it. I stop writing and think, ‘Wow, That sucks.’ I wonder about undoing it. In the old days I would have highlighted the whole scene and then deleted it. Kill a major character? No way. So I would then spent hours, days, weeks, re-writing it. And all to no avail because after that period of time I’ll see it had to happen that way because that was the story. Now, I may stop, look, but then I’m back at it. I am curious to know where it is going now. What will Molly do? Well, if you read it you know; Molly could not deal with it. She turned her own gun on herself before anyone could react fast enough to stop her. Another shock to me. But, that is writing to me. That is the gift God gave to me, and the way it comes out of me.
I suppose people will read that and think, bullshit. But it really is the process for me. And for all of the writers I know too, at least the ones I hang out with. And, hang-out is a loose term for me. I don’t hang out with anyone at all, not really. Hanging out to me is giving up that time I was talking about earlier, and I don’t like to give that up. So hanging out might be a 3:00 AM Skype conversation. No, no camera, just chat. If the conversation lasts more than ten minuets before it lags, then something is really wrong, and that is not just me talking.
The other person has some sort of project open on their desktop, same as I do, and they are either writing as we talk or thinking about writing as we talk, or actively wishing I would shut up or get to the point, so they can go back to writing. I know that because after the ten minute mark that is what I am doing, and the few times I have asked a writer friend honestly what they are doing they say those things, or, they are not as diplomatic as I am and just tell me to get to the point or shut up. No, that doesn’t offend me.
That is the craft of writing for me with all of the mystery and magic stripped off. I guess it is about as attractive as that dead cat in the road, huh? I wonder how that cat got there…
Have a good week…