Category Archives: Fantasy

Earth’s Survivors Weekly Serial presentation – 3

Earth's Survivors Weekly Serial presentation - 3

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.


Public Square

Pearl (Pearly) Bloodworth

6:20 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watertown New York

Project Bluechip

11:00 P.M.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watertown New York

Project Bluechip

Pearl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“English?” The woman asked.

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

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

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

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

“Badly scraped up?” Pearl asked.

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

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

Watertown

Franklin Street

Roux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Necro by Dell Sweet

Necro

Dell Sweet

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

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 couldn’t make it come… Something… Some accident? Maybe… He pushed harder with his hands and rose to his feet… Shaky but holding him upright. He took one tentative step and then another. Moving off down the street in search of anything that could calm the hunger in his belly…


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Star Dancer Free Preview from Dell Sweet

Star Dancer Free Preview from Dell Sweet


STAR DANCER

Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet

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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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

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.


03-19 06:33:02

Twenty Seven

Main Trap

The main trap was exactly as it sounded a trap between the free world and one of the largest prison colonies in the known worlds. Two officers in separate bubbles, both outside the trap itself, controlled the comings and goings. All entrances and all exits were announced to shift sergeant’s colony wide, no access in or out was granted without documentation.

As Far as Superintendant Sam Ellison was concerned Twenty Seven was a super max facility classified as a max. That meant that it went well over the threshold of security for a max prison and came in just under the official super max classification: Lacking the certification because they did not possess a thirty foot wall that completely surrounded the facility.

Superintendant Ellison had petitioned to be moved to the super max classification despite the wall. His argument was short but eloquent: Although they did not possess the necessary wall they did have an absolute barrier, an atmosphere that could not sustain life. Anyone breaking out of Twenty Seven may not have to then scale a thirty foot wall, but they would die in seconds from the lack of oxygen and most likely they would begin to freeze to death before that occurred; or find themselves burning up, dependent upon the phase of the Martian day.

Four soldiers decked out in full riot gear; including fully loaded laser rifles stepped from an el lift at the end of a transport hall just outside of the main trap and looked over the area. Another group at the opposite end of the hall came to attention, spread out across the front of the entrance to the trap, a two story steel monstrosity made of chrome carbon-steel bar work that could not be moved without the machinery that had been specially designed to move it. Before that machinery could be activated both of the bubble officers would be in radio contact with one another and reach complete agreement as to the authenticity of the orders for the movement.

The four officers stepped back into the el, took custody of the prisoner from two other officers that had remained in the el to secure the prisoner and got him moving.

Kenneth Rowland shuffled forward, the chains that bound him and the heavy footfalls of the soldier’s boots were the only sounds in the short hall. He wore a chain around his waist: A second chain ran down to the chain on a set of ankle cuffs and was joined to that chain via a heavy double keyed padlock. His hands were chained with a few short links to the waist chain, also joined with a heavy double keyed padlock. He wore finger spanners that kept his fingers separated and spread apart as well as disabling flexing more than two fingers at one time. A final chain snaked away from the waist chain to an appliance truck that carried a small, metal file cabinet stuffed with files pertaining to his charges and cases, both on Earth and here on Twenty Seven. A soldier pushed the truck. A lawyer representative walked beside Rowland carrying a small camera to record the procedure live to courts on Earth and Twenty Seven. It would also be retained as part of the permanent record.

The ungainly crew moved quickly down the short hall, the soldiers hustling Rowland along faster. When they reached the gate the soldiers there parted and formed a complete circle around Rowland, the lawyer was cut out; left standing on his own. Two soldiers separated from the group and faced the lawyer, watching him carefully: It was not unknown for an attack to occur from a lawyer that had been planted for just that purpose. In 2099, to protest the end of a half century of Fed rule, a Martian law representative had detonated a half ounce of fiber-gel explosives he had combed into his hair in this very trap killing thirty two people. With the rebuild had come the bug lights which could deal with all known manner of electronic and bio bugs, explosives and tagging equipment. The Feds had many enemies.

A series of bug lights in the overhead ceiling came on and almost simultaneously grills mounted in the walls came to life. The air current was stiff and steady. The first lights killed everything biological, and the air movement kept the contaminants moving out of the space. After three minutes the lights died down and a second set of lights came up bathing the hall in blue light. The second set of lights carried destructive electronic impulses within the light wave that would destroy any electronic circuitry. The total time was just under seven minutes. The lights cycled down once more and the regular lights came up. Shorty after that the big doors began to move.

Rowland looked around the narrow hallway. There would be no chance of escape. If he tried anything at all he would most likely wind up dead: And if you were dead it was all over with anyway; so he would bide his time and wait. There would be something. Some mistake and when it happened he would be ready for it.

“Move your ass scumbag!” One of the soldiers gave him a quick shot to the kidneys. The lawyer was blocked and would never see it he knew. Rowland bit down hard, a slight trickle of blood running away from his lip where he had bitten it. He refused to cry out. The door finished its travel and he shuffled into the center of the trap, the lawyer left behind.

03-27 02:20:09

Star Dancer

Mike clicked his Log-link on: “Intra System Cruiser Star Dancer. Present: Michael Watson chief operating officer: Petra Stanovich Navigation officer. Two hours ten minutes and fifteen seconds out of Mars Twenty Seven. Contract FQHPX2879 concludes. U.P.T crew Twenty Nine, one additional crew, see addendum CL44988 per U.P.T crew manifest… Stop two will be Mars One for a tech drop… Contract 771926F… Our last drop will be IO Six… Prefab buildings plus one, to total three now, see addendum 279916BX… Out.”

Petra looked up from where she was programming her navigation interface and smiled. They were at slow speed, orbit maintenance speed; and Mike watched the surface of Mars slip by far below as Petra prepared to break orbit and head for docking at Mars One. He took one last sip of coffee, drained the cup; popped it into an in-seat holder and belted himself in for descent…


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Zombie Kindle Edition by Dell Sweet

Zombie Kindle Edition

Johnny:
I am here in this farm house that Lana and I found a few weeks back. By myself. Lana is gone. I sat down here to write this story out before I am gone too. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but it isn’t. I know exactly what my situation is.
We have been to Manhattan, outside of it, you can’t go in any longer, and we came from Los Angeles, so we know: It’s all gone, destroyed, there’s nothing left.

The Graveyard:
The moon rode high in the sky. Moonlight gleamed from bits of gravel in the dirt road that lead into the barn. Silence held, and then a scraping came from the ground, muffled, deep.
At the edge of the woods, eyes flashed dully in the over-bright moonlight. Shapes shifted among the trees and then emerged from the shadows onto the gravel roadway. One dragged a leg as he walked, clothes already rotted and hanging in tatters. A second seemed almost untouched, a young woman, maybe a little too pale in the wash of moonlight. She walked as easily as any woman, stepping lightly as she went. The third and fourth moved slower, purposefully, as they made their way to the freshly turned soil. They stopped beside the grave, and silence once again took the night, no sounds of breathing, no puffs of steam on the cold night air.
“Do you think…?” The young woman asked in a whisper.
“Shut up,” the one with the dragging leg rasped. His words were almost unintelligible. His vocal cords rotted and stringy, no air in his lungs to move his words. The noises came once again from the earth and the four fell silent… waiting…
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 hole. She noticed the four and stopped, her pale skin nearly translucent, her black hair tangled and matted against her face and neck. Her lips parted, a question seeming to ride on them.
“It’s okay,” the young woman whispered, “it’s okay.” She and one of the older ones moved forward, fell to their knees and began to scoop the dirt away from her with their hands.
“It’ll be okay,” the young woman mumbled in agreement through her too cold lips.
“It will… It will,” the other woman repeated…


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Zombie from author Dell Sweet

Zombie

I am here in this farm house that Lana and I found a few weeks back. By myself. Lana is gone. I sat down here to write this story out before I am gone too. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but it isn’t. I know exactly what my situation is.
We have been to Manhattan, outside of it, you can’t go in any longer, and we came from Los Angeles, so we know: It’s all gone, destroyed, there’s nothing left… More

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About the Legend of Sparrow

Dell Sweet: About the Legend of Sparrow

I began the Legend of Sparrow in a creative writing class several years ago. There were a dozen of us in the class, but only a small core of five who actually took the class to learn. The others were there to be entertained, get credits.
The first day of class the ones who were there to pass the time began to act up and a few of us shut it down by offering to read what we were writing. That set the tone for the entire semester and they were good and well behaved after that.
What I decided to share in that brief instance of bravery was a short-short story about a man having these odd dreams. He would wake up and find himself in a familiar place, yet no matter how hard he tried to find his way to home from there, although it should have been easy he could not.
That short story came from dreams I had had for years. I would find myself in a factory or train station, bus station, park: The place didn’t matter so much except it was always known to me. I knew that home and safety were a short way away. I could almost see it from where I stood, I could see the path worked out in my head. All I had to do was move my feet in the right direction and I would be set upon the right course. I could never do that though. For some reason I would turn the other way or someone would interrupt me and by the time I turned back everything had changed and I was lost.
I had written the short-short story based on that. Since we had both volunteered we were on the chopping block. Every day after that we would be reading updates to the stories we were writing. The other guy was writing a crime story; very complicated, people double crossed over and over again. One of those stories where you had to ask for clarity. And of course that was his offering while mine was this weird dream book where everything happens out of sequence and nothing made sense at first. Even so the class listened and eventually got into both stories and it seemed like the semester burned up it moved so fast.
About ten years back I found those stories and made them into a novel. I sat down one day with the stories, about 6000 words and a week later I was edging out a 100 k novel. I finished it at 125 thousand words and jumped into a sequel immediately. That sequel is still sitting in a composition notebook, two actually and I hope some day to write it into the word processor.
That is how I wrote back then. I wrote in composition notebooks. Even now I have composition notebooks and some days it is all I can do to stop myself from jumping into a story line and writing it out in one. That is because I wrote something like 30 novels that way.
I guess my point is you take them as they come. I started this novel as a Little dream sequence of my own and it became a book that is centered in the dream worlds of two Native American people…

The Legend of Sparrow: Laura must travel the trail of death to reach the city of the dead and free Sparrow Spirit…

THE LEGEND OF SPARROW
I had come back to spend time with Laura. I could not tell her my real reasons. That I was afraid of leading the Dream Killer to her. Or I was not sure even whether I was coming back in the end, so I had wanted to see her one more time. She asked me…


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EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 1

PUBLISHED BY

independAntwriters Publishing

AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved

Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty


This book, in this blog format, is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. 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 material is not edited for content and is rated 18+


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.

This novel is Copyright © 2013 independAntwriters. 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..


EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE


CHAPTER ONE

June 1st

We were down along the river checking over some of the old buildings that perched on the cliffs high above the water. Summer was coming on full and we knew we had to get moving, get out of this dead city. We had half the country to cross and find a place before winter came back around again.

I was thinking back to March. Just two months ago but the world was still the world. And for the next little while there, we didn’t even know about the dead. Dead was still dead. When you closed your eyes for the long eternal sleep you didn’t wake up a short minute later as something else. No. We were ignorant up until a few weeks ago when they decided to come after us. Ignorant. Stupid. Didn’t know a thing: Have a clue. We didn’t know what the blue shit the government planes sprayed us with right after everything went to hell was. And I am still not convinced I know all there is to know, but I suspect things. I have been told things. I met a guy a few weeks back that said he worked at the Army base. He knew what it was. What I do know was it was designed to strengthen us. Keep us alive a little longer. Make us stronger somehow. Some dip shit scientist’s idea.

I suppose it was meant as a help for us. A help. The world slowed down, fell apart, everything stopped working. They knew they couldn’t get to us. We would die. So they sprayed the blue shit on us. And I could suppose further that some of us survived the last few months because of it. I can’t prove it but I suspect it did help us evolve into… I don’t know.. Whatever the hell we are now. I know we’re alive? I know our hearts beat. I still feel human and I truly think I am still human. If it made changes to the living they are very small changes… At least so far.

But the dead. Oh, the dead. That’s a different story. It did something else to the dead.

I walked along thinking my thoughts. I was lost in them, I’ll admit it. We were right in front of a line of cliffs that overhung the water, spread out a little, at least I was. It’s funny how you can forget to be careful so Goddamn fast. It was somewhere past midday when they came for us.

Mason! Mason!

Emma from a hundred yards down. The panic and fear in her voice made my heart leap into my throat, and because of her fear, and probably some of my own, I did a really stupid thing right then that cost me time. I was so panicked that I threw my rifle down and sprinted towards the sound of her voice. I got maybe twenty feet when the realization of what I had done hit me. It would have been comical to see the way I locked my legs up and tried to turn around ,before I had even come to a stop, if it had not been so Goddamned serious.

I had the rifle back in my hands, the safety off, just a fraction of a second later when Emma and Madison opened up on the UN-dead closing in on the mouth of the cave on the narrow trail up from the river. I added my fire to theirs before I had run another fifty feet and their leader, a shambling wreck of a corpse folded up and then flopped over the side of the trail and down into the river. I continued to run as I fired and was shocked to realize that I was screaming at the top of my lungs as I closed in.

Goddamn-son-of-a-bitching-goddamn-bastards,dead-fuckers!” All strung together, fear words. I did not hear them at first so I did not know when they started, and I could not shut them down once I did hear them, the panic and fear were just too hot.

I watched as, unseen by Emma and Madison a Zombie crouched on a narrow path above them swiveled his rotting head to me, seemed to take my measure with a wide, yellowed grin, and then dropped from the ledge on to Madison’s back.

No! Goddamn-son-of-a-bitches-dead-bastards-bastards!” I could not say Madison Look Out!Or speed up my feet or any other damn thing. Time had slowed, become elastic, strange, too clearly seen… The Zombie hit her hard and she folded like an accordion and was driven into the ground, a few hundred pounds of animated corpse riding her down into the dirt. Clawed hands clutching, mouth already angling to bite…To taste her…

I was still thirty or more yards away. I could not see how that could even be possible. I should have been closer but I was not. I saw Emma turn, panicked, take her eyes off the other UN-dead, and start towards Madison. Unchallenged the other Zombies closed ground far faster than they should have been able to. I saw the Zombie on Madison take a mouthful of her back and rip the flesh away from her spine. Emma’s rifle came up and barked and the zombie blew apart, raining down on Madison like a storm of red. Somehow I managed to switch to full auto, get my rifle up, and spray an entire one hundred round clip into the other Zombies where they rushed along the path towards Emma and the fallen Madison.

Madison screamed. Time leapt back into it’s proper frame and I found myself five feet away as Madison arched her back, screamed, and tried to stand. Blood ran in a perfect river from her gaping wound, across the white of her T-Shirt and down to the waist of her jeans.

I think… I think…” Madison tried.

Baby… Baby,” Emma sobbed. She dropped to her knees and pulled Madison to her. “Oh, Baby… Baby,” Emma sobbed.

I looked back up at the trail. Empty. At least of moving UN-dead. Three or four, it was hard to tell with the tangle of legs and arms, lay dead on the pathway. Silence descended. I heard a bird in the trees above calling as if nothing was wrong with the world. Emma sobbing. Madison crying, hysterically. The wind moaning through the empty buildings of the downtown area, which was set just back from the cliffs and the river on this side of town.

I was thinking… “That wind is colder. Colder even than when we started out this morning. Fall is here. Maybe it will slow those bastards down… We will be okay… My, God… They bit Madison… They BIT Madison!!!” I sagged to the ground my mind full of confusion and numbness.

Emma was sobbing uncontrollably, Madison had lapsed into shock. I was sitting crossed legged wondering where in Hell this would all end up, my rifle fallen from hands and laying on the ground next to me. Time spun out. Dragged. Seemed elastic once more, sticking in places and jumping ahead from those places to where it should have been had it continued to run properly.

Emma sobbing, holding Madison up. Kissing her forehead. Telling her how much she loved her… How she was her world… Madison… Eyes rolled back in her head… Face pale… Fine beads of sweat standing out on her forehead… Her back a bright slick of red running across Emma’s hands where she held her. Slowing… Slowing… Emma mouthing words in such slow motion that I could not understand what she said… Madison’s body sagging, eyes rolled up to the whites… Bright dots of blood speckled across Emma’s cheeks… Then time jumped, staggered, came back to normal and Emma was screaming and screaming…

No! … NO! … Not my… My, love, my Madison, my…” Collapsing to the ground with Madison, crying still… Softer but continuous.

“Emma…” My voice, but I did not know it at first. I actually stopped speaking and looked around, startled, before I realized it was me speaking. I turned my attention back to Emma. “Emma… Emma, it’ll be okay… It’ll be…”

“NO!….NO!” She scrambled back pulling Madison’s unconscious body with her. She wiped one hand across her eyes trying to stem the flow of tears… “NO! She’s… She’s okay… Okay… You can’t… You…” She broke down into sobs, pulled Madison to her and began dragging her away from me.

“Emma… Emma, it bit her… Bit her… Emma… Emma, it’s… It’s just you and me, Emma… It bit her… It bit her…”

She let go of Madison and lunged for her rifle. I sat, still cross legged, stupidly, as she grabbed it and leveled it at me.

“Get out,” She said very calmly. Much more calmly than I thought she should have been capable of.

“Emma… What are you doing… Emma.”

GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!” She screamed. I reared back as the rifle barrel came up and then slashed down across my face. I jumped back but not fast enough. The steel barrel smashed into my lower lip, through it and then hit my teeth. I immediately tasted blood, machine oil, and I could feel pieces of my broken teeth on my tongue. Sharp splinters.

The pain was delayed but it came never-the-less. Hard, heavy, fast, down into my lower jaw and then ricocheted back up into the top of my head. I scrambled backwards, tripped over my own rifle, got it into my hands and then time did that funny slowing, elastic thing again.

The blood dripped from my chin onto the ground. My rifle was pointed squarely at Emma, safety off, and an empty clip, but Emma didn’t know that. The blood dripped slowly. Emma’s eyes swam in and out of focus but remained on me. Her rifle barrel dipped and rose again, leveled on me.

She seemed to take a deep breath that went on forever, and then, once more, time sped up. “I’ll kill you,” Emma told me. “If you touch her, I’ll kill you… I will,” She started out strong but ended in a doubtful, whining whisper.

I didn’t drop my rifle barrel but held one hand out in front of me in a placating gesture. “Not touching anyone… Not,” I managed through my busted lip and broken teeth. The pain was a live, throbbing thing.

“You will… But… I know you will… You think… You think…” She seemed all at once to realize that she no longer held Madison in her arms. She took a deep shuddering breath and then dropped her rifle to the ground. She collapsed back down to the ground and crawled to Madison’s body.

I stood. Shocked. Not knowing what to do. Time side slipped. The bird went back to calling out, if it had ever stopped, the wind came back, blowing cold against my face, pushing the flush of heat that the situation had bought with it away, cooling the sweat on my brow. The bird called… Another picked it up and soon all of the birds were talking a though nothing at all had happened. It became a perfect storm of noise after the deepness of the silence. Time slipped away again, clouds moving across the cold, blue of the sky.

Emma sat, Madison pulled up into her lap, a large smear of maroon on her forehead, stroking Madison’s black hair. The birds called. The coldness of the wind seemed to bite at my bones. Nipping. Tasting. An Undead thing of it’s own.

I can’t tell you why I did it but I am glad I did. I pushed the button on the rifle butt, dropped the empty clip in to my waiting palm, and slid another up into the rifle where it socketed itself home with a solid click. I did it perfectly. Like I had been doing it all of my life instead of just the last six months since the Undead disease, epidemic, disorder, what-ever-the-fuck it was had happened. She never looked up. The birds didn’t stop singing their birdsong… Just in case, I told myself. Just in case.

I stood, my knees screaming, flexed experimentally and then walked a short distance away, leaning up against the cliff face. Emma’s voice had fallen to a barely audible whisper as she stroked Madison’s hair and held her. A private conversation. A private conversation in the wide open, which thanks to the UN-dead was a very private place. No one at all around, alive anyway, and the dead could care less about love, secrets, whispered promises, goodbyes. The UN-dead only cared about the hunger that seemed to drive them. Flesh, and more flesh… The time turned elastic once more and spun out of control for some unknown length. I only know that when I came back to myself the sun had moved across the sky. My thoughts were about darkness, Zombies, staying alive.

~

When I think back on it now I realize a noise had brought me back. Had to be, otherwise there was no reason for me to come back at all. Just stay gone. Let the sun go down and the UN-dead take the night, me, Emma, Madison and whatever else they wanted. But it didn’t go that way…

A noise. A sliding foot. A pebble falling from above… I really don’t know. I know that this time I reacted fast. My rifle came up, my mind was clear. I focused, two of them dropping from the cliffs above… Like cats… Like dead, stinking, feral cats… Dragging that stink of death with them. The stench of rotted flesh falling from the sky along with them and enveloping me even as I fired into them.

I had a choice. I couldn’t get them both. One falling at me, one falling at Emma where she sat with Madison cradled in her arms oblivious to everything around her. My reaction chose for me. The rifle came straight up and spat short, little barks of noise and flame. The Zombie started to come apart before it hit me. A shower of cold, dead blood rained down on me, splattered against my face. The body hit the barrel of the rifle and took me down to the ground clutching the rifle hard to keep from losing it as the full weight of the Zombie came down on it.

I kept it, but only by sheer determination. The Zombie had impaled herself onto the barrel. Her flesh so rotted that it had simply punched through her breast and out her back. I shoved her off as quickly as I could. One booted foot kicking against her chest. Knocking her apart, pulling the barrel back through the soft flesh and hard bone.

I expected to see Emma done for. I expected to see her dead or dying, but she had somehow ended up about twenty feet from where the Zombie had fallen. She looked herself as if she had no real idea how that had happened, but when I raised my eyes and they took in the whole scene before them, I saw exactly how it had happened..

Madison must have been awake. Laying there badly injured but not gone. Taking the comfort from Emma that she offered. When the Zombie fell she saw it. Saw it and managed to push Emma away from her and take the attack on herself.

The Zombie was no match for her, wounded though she was. She straddled the Zombie with a rock easily the size of her own head and bought it down hard. Once. Twice, and then I lost count and the Zombie quit fighting. The UN-dead dead again. This time for good.

The silence came back hard. Like a curtain on the last act of a play just when the audience isn’t expecting it. It crashed down.

~

Time did it’s elastic trick and then snapped back before I was ready for it. My senses were shot. A first I could not connect the dots of memory that I needed to connect to make sense of what my eyes were seeing.

Emma rose to shaky legs and started towards Madison. Sobbing once more. Madison’s eyes swiveled to me. A sick look in them and pain riding there too. She slumped forward, one wrist flapping uselessly and lunged for the rifle that Emma had had trained on me not that long ago. Time stopped it’s elastic trickery right around that time. I knew exactly what she intended to do before she did it. Emma stopped in mid stride and nearly fell backwards at the effort of stopping so quickly. I think she believed for a second that Madison intended to shoot her. I really believe she thought that, but that was not the plan and I knew that was not the plan. Because the plan that had resurfaced in her mind was the one we had talked about, half seriously, half jokingly for the last several weeks that we had been traveling together. Before she followed through on that plan I heard her tell it to me in my mind once again, the way she had several weeks before. Several weeks before when she had been unmolested… Whole.. Not about to join the ranks of the UN-dead herself.

“If I ever fuckin’ have to I won’t hesitate,” Madison had said, “Once I’m dead I don’t want to be alive again.” She shuddered and grimaced at the same time.

We had been in an old house on the outskirts of the city. We had had gas lanterns for light. The windows were boarded. The UN-dead scratched and cried and pleaded, but they could not get in. The four of us–John had still been alive then, in fact he had died just two days later… Fell through a rotted section of floor in that same old house… Impaled himself on a pipe in the basement… Madison had shot him in the head nearly as soon as he had stopped his struggles. Emma had bent double and vomited. I had held it in but barely–but that night John had been alive, he had still been with us. With us as we listened to the sounds of the UN-dead that were trying to get us. To kill us. To eat us. To satisfy their ceaseless hunger. In the flickery light from the gas lanterns, she had said it, and he had nodded his head, agreeing immediately with what she had said. And I had not. It had not been a real thing to me until two days later when John had died and she had wasted no time. None. “He would have expected it,” she had said, and nothing more. But that night… That night she had said it right out. Like a mantra. Like looking into the future and seeing this day.

“If they come for me? If they get me? I’ll put a bullet in my own head. I will . I swear I will.”

And Emma had begun to cry. “Don’t say it, Maddy… Don’t say it.” And she hadn’t said it again, but it didn’t matter. She had already spoke it into truth. I had heard it. I had heard it and I knew she meant it.

And now… Time stopped it’s trick. She jammed the rifle under her chin and squeezed the trigger… Her head exploded in a spray of red and gray. I swear I could hear the sounds of small bits of bone and blood pattering down to the ground. And then the silence was roaring again.

I took a breath, another… And then Emma began to scream once more…

~

It’s been three weeks. I thought Emma would never talk again. I believed she wouldn’t right up until she did yesterday.

I just kept us moving. Out of the city and south. Walking days, seeking refuge at night. The zombies smell us, you know. They can smell us for miles. So at night it’s strong places. Strong places where they can’t get in and then hope like hell these were not some of the new breed, the ones that didn’t seem to have a need to avoid the day, and they would be gone in the morning.

I started carrying a radio the other day. Clips on the belt. FM. Picks up a lot of talk during the day. There’s a place that a lot of the people I hear from have heard about. In the middle of no place. Somewhere in Kentucky… Tennessee. Some swear they have even talked to the people that founded this place. I had never heard them myself until today, but the word I had heard was that it was a safe place. That it is open to everyone.

So that is where I’ve been walking us too. I don’t know who these people are. If they even exist, I only know the whole world is fucked up. I have come to understand that even if I get us as far South as I can, we wont make it for long. We’re only two. The dead are getting smarter. And that is not just my point of view. It’s on the radio. They all say it.

L.A. and New York both are barely hanging on. Both! Barely hanging on! Nearly over run! If they can’t make it how can we? No. I’m heading for this place. I’m hoping it’s real. Today on the radio I caught something. Someone named Conner. I heard that name. And it sounded like he was talking about the same place I have heard about. I’m just hoping it’s true. That I didn’t just imagine it to assuage my mind.

Meantime I am trying to keep us alive. Find strong places to stay through the nights. There are strong places. Places you can find if you give it some thought. Stairwells in highrises. Steel and concrete. They can’t get through those doors. Deep freezers in grocery stores. Heavy steel doors. Vehicles if you have to and we have had to. You can find a big truck with a steel trailer. The roads are jammed with them. They can’t get in there either. A little fire at night if I can. The Zombies are afraid of fire. Don’t like the smell of smoke. Canned stuff to eat. Christ, we’ll be eating canned shit until we die. Get up the next day and push on. Get moving again. And that is what I’ve done. Kept us moving. Kept us safe. And she came willingly, although silently, like a big, semi animated puppet. And then yesterday she was walking beside me, silent as she had been since the thing with Madison, and she spoke.

“I don’t like beans, Mason. I just don’t… Maybe we could find something different tonight?” She had lifted her voice at the end and made it into a question. I stopped in the middle of walking between an abandoned car and a wrecked, burned out truck. Months old. I looked back at her. She smiled, tentative at first but then it lit up her face. I had to laugh. I had had so much pent up inside me.

“The beans are a bit much then,” I asked?

“A bit,” she agreed.

I stood for a second not knowing what to say.

“You could say, welcome back,” she said softly

“Welcome back,” I repeated every bit as quietly. “Welcome back…”


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