Dell’s Blog

Posted by Dell on 03/27/2019

It has been a long week for me. Oh, wait, it just started. Well, I guess it is going to be a very long week then. What is nice is that even though at times it may not seem it the end of the week does come.

This week we are working on David’s book. That’s what we do. We all work on whatever needs work at the time. His book is new, we’re helping. I also know that Geo and Melody are working on The Caves. From what O have seen it is a 200.000 k novel. Huge. And, it is an excellent read. They are completely into it.

Joseph is getting his books ready to sell on Amazon. He has not been a strong seller there, has not taken the time to develop a following but he is concentrating on that now.

I have done editing work all week, updating the websites so If you noticed one of my screw ups at 2:00 AM yes, that really was me making a mistake. For the most part I have done alright. I am integrating several websites into one. Rather than go here or there to pull books, you will, some day, be able to pull them from one place. Wow. Right now everyone sort of has their own system. But we all realize that if you can find them easier you will be able to actually read them. We are not total idiots. Notice I said total. I think we’re maybe 86%. We just get stuck in that tech mode on occasion.

What was this past week like? We’ll we gave away 600 plus US copies of the First Dreamer’s Book. Geo and I were pleased about that. No it is back to business as usual for awhile. The Caves will probably be the next book up.

What do I have for you tonight. I have a short story that I wrote several years ago. I never published it. It contains two of my three favorite people, Bobby and Moon and you will have to meet Lois some other time, in my favorite town that exists only in my head, Glennville. This will, maybe, someday, be part of a larger story. But it won’t be published as a short story. So, it’s here for you…

The Great Go-Cart Race

Copyright (C) Wendell Sweet 1984 1994 1995 1996 – 2019


The Great Go-Cart Race

~1~

The summer of 1969 in Glennville New York had settled in full tilt. The July morning was cool and peaceful, but the afternoon promised nothing but sticky heat. Bobby Weston and Moon Calloway worked furiously on the go-cart they had been planning to race down Sinton Park hill, in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. Both boys had grown up in Glennville. Bobby on upper Fig, Moon on lower Fig. And even though they had gone to the same schools and grown up just a block apart, they had only recently become friends. The Go-cart was a project they had devoted the last two weeks to, and it looked as though today would finally see it finished.

By eleven thirty that morning they had the wheels on the go cart, and had dragged it up Sinton Park hill. An old piece of clothesline tied to each side of the two by four the wheels were nailed to served as the steering. One nail pounded through the center board and into the two by four allowed it to turn. It was the best go cart either of them had ever built, and it rolled just fine. The plan was for bobby to give Moon a ten minute head start down the hill. That way he should be at the intersection by the time Bobby got there, they figured, and able to make sure that Bobby got through it in one piece. Just exactly what Moon was supposed to do to stop a car, or Bobby-the go cart had no brakes, except Bobby’s Keds-he didn’t know. They hadn’t figured that part of it out.

“So, how am I supposed to stop a car?” Moon asked. He didn’t want to sound stupid. Most probably Bobby had it all figured out, but Moon couldn’t see it.

“Easy,” Bobby told him, “you don’t. You’d get freakin’ killed.”

“Well, I knew that,” Moon lied.

“See, you’ll be on your bike. You’ll be sittin’ up higher. You’ll see if there’s a car coming, I won’t, on account of how low to the ground I’ll be.”

“I knew that too.” Well, and then what? Moon asked himself.

“So easy. You just yell to me before I get to the intersection, and I cut off to the left and go into the sledding hill instead. You see that way I’ll be going up, instead of down, see?”

“Oh yeah!” Moon said, as it dawned on him. The sledding hill was there. Of course it wasn’t a sledding hill in the summer, but it was a hill, and he could see exactly how it would work. “I knew that too. I just wasn’t sure if that was what you were goin’ to do, or not,” Moon finished.

“Of course you did,” Bobby agreed.

Moon was just getting ready to bike back down to the bottom of the hill, when John Belcher showed up. John Belcher lived on West avenue, and his dad raced stock car out in Lafargville.

As a consequence, John Belcher had the coolest go-cart around. His dad had helped build it. Real tires-they even had air in them-with a real metal axle running from side to side to hold them. That was the best way to do it, Moon had said, when he’d first seen John’s go-cart. That way you didn’t have to worry about the tires falling off when the spikes pulled out, and the spikes always pulled out. It also had a real steering wheel, a real one. Moon had exclaimed over that. His dad, John had told him, had gotten it out of an old boat out at the junk yard.

“Hey,” John said, as he walked up, dragging his go-cart behind him. “Goin’ down?”

“Bobby is,” Moon said respectfully. You had to show a lot of respect to someone who owned a go-cart that cool. “I’m watchin’… At the bottom. So he don’t get killed, or nothin’,” Moon finished.

“Watch for me too?” John asked.

“Sure, man, a course I will. Bobby don’t care, do ya?”

“Uh uh,” Bobby said. “You gonna try for the whole thing?”

“Why, are you?”

“Yeah… Right through the intersection, and if I can all the way downtown. Probably won’t roll enough on the flat part to do that though, but at least through the intersection and as far past it as I can get.”

Sinton Park Hill began at the extreme western end of Glennville, and continued-though somewhat reduced-as State Street Hill all the way to the Public Square three miles from its start.

“Cool!” John said. Now it was his turn to sound respectful. “I dunno, man. If I do it and my dad finds out, he’ll kill me.”

“Well, who’s gonna tell him?” Moon asked. “I won’t, and neither will Bobby.”

“Yeah, but if someone see’s me…”

“Yeah… I’m gonna though,” Bobby said. He could see John was aching to do it.

“Okay… I’m gonna,” John said decidedly.

“Cool!” Moon exclaimed. “Really frickin’ cool!”

John grinned, as did Bobby. “Well,” Bobby said, “guess you better head down, Moony. Moon didn’t need to be told twice. He stood on the pedals, and fairly flew down the hill.

~2~

“Think he’s down the bottom yet?” Bobby asked John quietly. They were both sitting at the side of Sinton Park hill. Their sneakers wedged firmly against the black top to hold them. John had allowed ten minutes to tick off, keeping faithful track of the time with his Timex.

“Ought a be,” John said in a whisper, licking his lips.

“Scared?”

“Uh uh… Well, a little.”

“Me too… Ready?”

“For real?”

“For real,” Bobby said solemnly.

John didn’t answer, he simply pulled his feet from the pavement, turned and grinned at Bobby, and began to roll away. Bobby followed, both of them hugging the side of the road, as close to the curbing as possible.

It was a slow build up for the first few hundred feet. Sinton park hill didn’t begin to get really steep until you were better than half way down, it was gradual up until that point. Even so, within that first few hundred feet, Bobby realized that everything had changed. John was already a good fifty feet ahead of him, and pulling away fast enough that it was noticeable. They were not going to hit the bottom of the hill at even close to the same time. Moon would have to watch for both of them separately.

John made a sharp curve up ahead, and disappeared from view. Everything, Bobby knew, was sharp curves from here on out, and that would not change until they were well past the halfway point. And, this was much faster than he had thought it would be. Much faster.

He fought with the rope through the curve, but he could no longer keep to the side. He was going to need the entire road.

And if a car came? he asked himself.

He had thought of that, but he had thought he would be able to stay to the side. No time to think. Another curve just ahead, and he had only barely glimpsed John as he had flown around the curve. Just the back tires really. He probably wouldn’t see any more of him at all until they were down at the bottom.

The second curve was not as bad as the first had been. He didn’t try to fight this time, he simply let the go-cart drift as far as it wanted too. He came off the curve and dropped both sneakers to the pavement. Instant heat, and the left one flipped backwards nearly under the two by four that held the rear tires, before he was able to drag it back in.

“Jesus,” he moaned. It was lost in the fast rush of wind that surrounded him. Torn from his throat and flung backwards. He hadn’t even heard it. Another curve, and the Indian trail flashed by on his right.

The Indian trail was just that. An old Indian trail that cut down through the thick trees that surrounded Sinton park. He and Moon had carefully negotiated it several times. The Indian trail was just before the halfway point, he knew. There was a really sharp curve coming up, just before Lookout Point. You could see nearly all of Glennville from there.

He fought the curve. Harder this time. It felt as if he were going at least a million miles an hour. Two million maybe, he corrected himself. And the go-cart was beginning to do a lot more than drift. It was beginning to shake. And, his mind told him, you ain’t even at the fast part yet! Lookout Point flashed by, and he fought his way around the sharp curve, going nearly completely to the other side in order to do it…. Yes I am, he told himself.

The road opened up. A full quarter mile of steep hill lay before him, before the next curve. It would be a sharp one too, but not as bad as the one he’d just come around. John was nowhere to be seen ahead of him. Presumably at and around the next curve already. No cars yet, and hopefully there wouldn’t be any at all. It was Monday, Sinton Park saw most of its business on the weekends, if they’d tried this then…

The quarter mile was gone that quick. This curve, and one more, and the rest was all straight-away. He gritted his teeth, and flashed into the curve.

Halfway through, nearly at the extreme edge of the opposite side of the road, the first raindrop hit him. A small splat, or it would have been. The speed with which he was moving had made it sting. Splat, splat. The tires were nearly rubbing the curbing when he finally came out the other side of the curve and hit a small straight-away. And now fat drops were hitting the pavement.

He sped into the last curve, and this time the wheels didn’t skim the curbing, they seemed glued to it. Screaming in protest as he tore through the wide curve and made the other side. The rain came in a rush. Turning the hot pavement glossy black as it pelted down. He used the rope carefully to guide himself back towards the side of the road. Slipping as he went, but making it. His hands were clinched tightly, absolutely white from the force with which he held the rope.

Straight-away, slightly less than a mile, and far ahead, where the stone pillars marked the entrance to Sinton Park, he watched John fly through the intersection. Nothing… No car. Nothing. He made it. He could make out Moon sitting on his bike at the side of the road. Leaned up against one of the pillars. Moon turned towards him, and then quickly looked away. The hill was flashing by fast. Too fast. He’d never be able to cut into the sledding hill. Not in a million years, and especially not with the road wet like it was.

Halfway. Moon was turning back, waving his arms frantically. Bobby slammed his Keds into the slick surface of the road. Useless, and he dragged them back inside after only a split second. Nothing for it, nothing at all. The intersection was still empty, however, so maybe…

Moon scrambled away from his bike letting it fall, and sprinted for the middle of the road, but he was far too late. And even if he hadn’t been, Bobby told himself as he flashed by him, the go-cart probably would’ve run him over.

“Truck!” Moon screamed as Bobby flew past him. He stumbled, fell, picked himself up, and ran back towards the stone entrance post, watching the intersection as he went.

The truck, one of the lumber trucks from Jackson’s Lumber on Fig street, made the intersection in a gear grinding, agonizingly, slow shuffle, before Bobby did. Bobby laid flat, and skimmed under the front tires.

Moon stopped dead, the handlebars in one rain slicked hand, and his mouth flew open as he watched. The undercarriage was just above his head, and if he hadn’t laid down…

Moon watched, frozen, as Bobby shot out the other side as neatly as if he had planned it, the back tires missing him by mere inches, and suddenly Bobby was well on his way towards State street hill, and…

Moon grabbed the handle bars tighter, flipped the bike sideways and around, and pedaled off after him as fast as he could.

Bobby raised his head quickly. He had truly believed it was over. He’d been praying, in fact. He hadn’t expected to make it all. He fought his way to the side of the road, and watched as far ahead, John slipped over the top of State Street Hill, and headed towards Public Square.

There were cars here, and more than a few blew their horns as he slipped slowly by on the side of them. He dragged his feet. Pushing as hard as he could, but managing to slow down very little. The top of the hill came and went, and reluctantly he pulled his feet back once more, and hugged the curbing. The only problem would be from cars cutting off the side streets.

The rain began to slack off, as he started down the hill-a brief summer down pour, they had them all the time, but the road was still wet-at least he could see better. The rear of the go-cart suddenly began to shimmy. He risked a quick backwards glance. Very quick, but it was enough to show him that the rubber was shredding from the tire on the outside, and it was also beginning to wobble. The spikes were coming out, and if that happened…

He pushed it away, and began to concentrate on the side streets that seemed to be flashing by every couple of seconds. Oak, Elm, Sutter, Hamilton. Nothing and nothing, and thank God. The rubber went a few seconds later. He could hear the metal rim ringing as it bit the wet pavement. The hill began to flatten. State Street Hill was nowhere near as long as Sinton Park Hill, and thank God for that too. Finally, he slipped past Mechanic street, and the hill flattened out. He could see John ahead, coasting slowly to a stop nearly in front of the First Baptist Church that held a commanding presence of the Public Square. He watched as John finally stopped, got out, and looked back. Moon whizzed past, standing on the pedals, screaming as he went.

“We did it! We freakin’ did it!”

Bobby smiled, a small smile, but it spread to a wide grin. So wide that it felt as though his whole lower jaw was going to fall off. His stuck out his much abused Keds for the last time, and coasted to a stop behind John’s go-cart.

“Man, did’ya see it? When ya went under th’ truck, Holy cow, for real, did ya see it? I thought you were, like, dead, man, for real!” Moon said as he ran up, John along with him.

John looked pale, really pale, Bobby saw. He supposed he looked the same.

“Under a truck?” John asked. “A freaking truck? A real one?”

“For real. Scout’s honor,” Moon told him. “It almost ripped his head off. I saw it! For real! Next time I do it,” Moon declared as he finished.

“Next time?” John asked. He looked at Bobby.

“Uh uh,” Bobby said. “There ain’t ever gonna be a next time, Moony, right, John?”

“For real. Uh uh. No way. Not ever.”

Moon smiled. “Well, too bad, cause I woulda… For real.”

Bobby looked at John. “Did you know it would go so fast? How fast were we going, Moony?”

“No way,” John said softly.

“Probably… Forty, at least forty.” Moon said confidently.

“You think so?”

“Could be,” John agreed, “cause like the speed limit is thirty five, and we were passing cars, and that was on State Street Hill, not Sinton,” he opened his eyes wide as he finished.

“Hey, maybe fifty,” Moon assured them.

“Did it look scary to you?” Bobby asked.

“Scary? Uh… Yeah, it did. I thought you guys were dead, for real. I was pedalin’ as fast as I could, but it took a long time to catch you. Was it?”

Bobby looked at John. “Yeah,” they said, nearly at the same time.

“Really scary,” John added.

They all fell silent. John, Bobby noticed, seemed to be getting some color back in his face.

“Wanna go buy some Cokes?” Moon asked at last.

“Can’t,” John said, “no money.

“We’ll buy,” Moon said, smiling once more. He helped drag both go-carts up over the curbing, and turn them around. Moon rode his bike, as Bobby and John pulled the go-carts behind them.

They rehashed the entire ride as they walked towards Jacob’s Superette. Laughing, the terror already behind them.

Later that day when Bobby and Moon finally made it back to Fig street. They stuck the go-cart in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. They talked about it from time to time, even went in the garage and looked at it occasionally, but they never rode down Sinton Park Hill, or any other hill, with it again. It sat there until the fall of 1982 when Bobby himself dragged it out to the curb and left it with the weekly garbage.

…………………………………………..

Check out my new novel: Yellowstone

…………………………………………………………………………………..

Dell’s Blog

Posted 03-24-2019

Happy Sunday AM.

Personal News:

This coming week will be my last full time working on the house week. Last week I completed the flooring. Tomorrow I’ll do small touch ups, caulking and moldings and then a final check Tuesday to make sure nothing was missed and I’ll move everything in on Wednesday. It has been tough living with construction for these past months but it will be over.

I started the week laying laminate flooring. It was my bright idea to do laminate flooring throughout the entire house, and then smaller area rugs. So, it seemed like it would go fast, and I really thought it would. But, I got either a light case of the Flu or a bad cold that I had to work with. Then I somehow pulled a muscle in my chest. Then I remembered, I’m not a carpenter any more, what the Hell am I doing? I nearly mutinied right there, except I remembered at the last moment that it was all my idea. So I bought a case of energy drinks and got to work.

Energy drinks: I never had one in my life and didn’t like the first one I drank, but when it actually worked I decided they would be my new best friend… At least for the week. They helped, the floors got finished, the debris swept up and now it’s just a big empty space with a cathedral ceiling in the living room and kitchen. I did also get the dishwasher hooked up, the over the range microwave, the gas line and the stove installed. The last cabinet work, recessed lights in the kitchen. You know, all those things I had lied to myself last week about and said would only take ten minutes to do.

Writing News: I am writing three books right now and hope to finish them later this spring / summer…

Actually I will be moving eventually, it will just be a few years longer. For now I’m here holding down the fort.

That’s my week. I want to leave you with a free look at The Zombie Killers. Stay safe and healthy, and if the world does end I’ll meet you on the road somewhere…

ZOMBIE: ORIGINS

Created by

Wendell Sweet

* * * * *

THE ZOMBIE KILLERS: ORIGINS

* * * * *

PUBLISHED BY:

Wendell Sweet & independAntwriters Publishing

The Zombie Killers: Origins

Copyright © 2010 – 2019 by Wendell Sweet & independAntwriters Publishing 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.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

FREE PREVIEW OF BOOK TWO

LEGAL

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 © 2010 – 2013 Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission.

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

*******

THE ZOMBIE KILLERS: ORIGINS

*******

FOREWORD

The Zombie Killer books are derived from the Earth’s Survivors series. Because of this some of the characters from the Earth’s Survivors series appear in this book. It is not necessary to read the Earth’s Survivors series to understand these books, although it would enhance your reading, the two series can stand alone.

I originally thought of publishing these books under the Earth’s Survivors name to keep the series connecter with each other, but testing showed it could be too confusing and so I split them apart. You can find the Earth’s Survivors series books at http://www.earthssurvivors.com . I hope you enjoy these books as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Dell Sweet 10-13-2013

CHAPTER ONE

Bear

August 4th

We were down along the river checking over some of the old buildings that are perched on the cliffs there, high above the water. Fall was not far away, 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.

We had left the others in our place off the park – an abandoned factory building I had found after I had lost Donita – and struck out looking for food earlier that morning. With the park and its crowds so near to us, the shops and small stores for blocks around us were stripped clean. Another reason to get out of the city. It was time. I remember thinking that as I walked along.

I was thinking back to March as I walked. Not really paying attention to the walk, where I was going… March… Just a few months ago, but the world was still the world then. 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 they decided to come after us. Ignorant. Stupid. Didn’t know a thing. Didn’t have a clue.

I had been in Central Park a few days after the first earthquakes hit. I had left Donita alone and went down on my own to see what the deal was. I found out nothing. No one knew any more than any one else. There was a lot of speculation, but that was it. There had been earthquakes. It had rained hard for nearly twenty four hours straight. The really freaky stuff hadn’t happened yet. We were just starting down our new path, but what was clear was that thousands of people had died in the city, maybe more than thousands, maybe a million or more. And certainly millions if the damage here was the same across the country… or worldwide.

And my initial estimate turned out to be a kind. In the city alone: collapsed buildings, fires, exposure to the elements because there was no shelter. There were millions of bodies. It was not so bad in those first few days, but a few days later, when the smell of the dead rotting under the rubble began, it was horrible. The diseases started then too. And the diseases took thousands more, and we thought that was the end of it, but it was not. The dead came next. The same dead, newly risen to some other sort of life. But that day in Central Park I did not know about the dead yet. I had no idea what was ahead; what was before me was bad enough.

At six foot three and nearly two hundred ninety pounds I don’t usually fear much. But that day I did. I realized there are some things you had better fear if you have half a brain in your head. It didn’t matter that I could walk through Central Park unmolested. Something was on the wind, something that didn’t care who it touched, did not respect physical size.

I walked through the park. There were hundreds there already. In the coming days those same people began to make the park home. But that day they wandered aimlessly, in shock. The subway was shut down, the buses. You could not find a cab. The same with the cops. Everything that was the same about the city, the things you could depend on to be the same day after day, were gone. A few short days, and they were gone. No more. And it had a feeling of permanence to it, a feeling of doom.

I sat down on a bench and watched the people shuffle by. No noisy kids. No babies bawling. No Joggers. No dog walkers. Hopeless people shuffling by. The occasional panicked whack job running around crazily. I saw no one shot that day, but in the coming days, they, the hopeless ones, began to shoot the crazies, chase them down and kill them. But that was later. That day I sat on the bench and wondered what had happened, and that was when the planes had overflown.

We all heard them from a long way off, military cargo planes. Slow, sometimes seeming to hang in the sky. That droning sound as they overflew, blocking the sun from the sky. This was no fly over to see how New York was, that much was evident immediately.

I was torn between running and needing to know what this was. Once you start down that path of just reacting to fear, it gets bad fast, so I sat there, as calm as I could be. ‘They will not drop bombs,’ was my thought. I remember it. And they didn’t. What they did was spray the entire city. Trails of blue-tinged vapor drifting down out of the sky. That was the first time.

I finally did give in to the fear and took off through the park, thinking, like nearly everyone else, that it must be some sort of poison. The government’s solution to whatever it was that was going on in the city.

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 over in Jersey. He said he knew what it was. He said the planes came from somewhere down south, but stopped there on the way back to re-fuel. What he told me 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 boost 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 first 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 now thinking my thoughts. I was lost in them – I’ll admit it – right back in March for a few seconds. But I came back fast.

We were right in front of a line of cliffs that overhung the river, 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.

Bear! Bear!”

Cammy 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 toward 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 Cammy and Madison opened up on the UN-dead closing in on them from the mouth of the narrow trail that lead 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 I was shocked to realize that I was screaming at the top of my lungs as I closed in. I am big, but I can move when I have to.

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 Cammy 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, 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 Cammy 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, just below the curve of her neck, and rip the flesh away from her spine. Cammy’s rifle came up and barked, and the zombie blew apart, raining down on Madison, a storm of black blood. 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 Cammy and the fallen Madison.

Madison screamed. Time leapt back into its 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,” Cammy sobbed. She dropped to her knees and pulled Madison to her. “Oh, Baby… Baby,” Cammy 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, Cammy sobbing, Madison crying hysterically, the wind moaning through the empty buildings that were set just back from the cliffs and the river on this side of the city.

I was thinking, ‘That wind is colder. Colder even than when we started out this morning. Maybe the weather will turn back to snow and cold. Maybe winter is not done after all… Or coming sooner… It could be. It’s all so screwed up. Maybe, if it does get cold, it will slow those bastards down. Maybe we will be okay… My, God… They bit Madison… They BIT Madison!!!’ I sagged to the ground, my mind full of confusion and numbness.

Cammy 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 my 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.

Cammy 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 Cammy’s hands where she held her. Slowing… Slowing… Cammy 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 Cammy’s cheeks. Then time jumped, staggered, came back to normal, and Cammy was screaming and screaming…

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

“Cammy,” 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 Cammy. “Cammy… Cammy, it’ll be okay… It’ll be…”

NO!….NO!” She scrambled backward, 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.

“Cammy… Cammy, it bit her… Bit her… Cammy… Cammy, it’s… It’s just you and me, Cammy… 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.

“Cammy… What are you doing… Cammy?”

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 and machine oil. My tongue ran across my teeth unconsciously. I was sure she had smashed them out, but the barrel edge had come up short, or I had moved back far enough. One of those things.

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 Cammy, safety off and an empty clip, but Cammy didn’t know that. The blood dripped slowly. Cammy’s eyes swam in and out of focus, but remained on me. Her rifle barrel dipped and then rose again, leveled on me once more.

She seemed to take a deep breath that went on forever, and then, once more, time sped up. “I’ll kill you,” Cammy 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 aching jaw. 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 again. 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 brought with it away, cooling the sweat on my brow. The bird called. Another picked it up, and soon all of the birds were talking as 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.

Cammy 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 its 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 few months since the UN-dead disease, epidemic, disorder, plague, what-ever-the-fuck it is has 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. I reached into my jacket pocket, pulled out my pouch and rolled a cigarette. I felt at my lips, busted up, but it would heal. I had been in fights in my old life where I had been busted up much worse. I lit the cigarette, held it carefully between my lips, smoking as I watched the clouds slip across the sky. Letting the urgency of the situation float away on the wind like the smoke.

Cammy’s voice had fallen to a barely audible whisper as she stroked Madison’s hair and held her. Madison’s lips, blue tinged, moved, too quiet to hear her words. 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, Cammy, 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, 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 Cammy 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 Cammy 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 still been awake. Laying there badly injured but not gone, taking the comfort from Cammy that she offered. When the Zombie fell, she saw it. She saw it and managed to push Cammy 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 brought 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 its elastic trick and then snapped back before I was ready for it. My senses were shot. At first I could not connect the dots of memory that I needed to connect to make sense of what my eyes were seeing.

Cammy rose to shaky legs and started toward 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 Cammy had trained on me not so long ago. Time stopped its elastic trickery right around that time. I knew exactly what she intended to do before she did it.

Cammy 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 as long as 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 a week or so 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 come back.” She shuddered and grimaced at the same time.

We had been in an old house over in Harlem. That was before Harlem got crazy too. We’d had gas lanterns for light. The windows were boarded over. 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. Cammy 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 to 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, despite what I had already gone through on my own, 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. If I ever fuckin’ have to, I won’t hesitate,” Madison had said, “Once I’m dead, I don’t want to come back.”

And Cammy had begun to cry. “Don’t say it, Maddie. 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 its 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 drops of blood pattering down to the ground. And then the silence was roaring again.

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

~

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

I just kept us moving. Different places in the city, not staying in any one place for more than a day. Walking days, seeking refuge at night. The zombies smell us, you know. They can smell us for miles. So at night it’s been strong places, strong places where they can’t get in, and then hope like hell that these were not some of the new breed, the ones that don’t seem to have a need to avoid the day, and that 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, down south somewhere. Nobody seems to know exactly where it is. But others swear they have talked to the people that founded this place. A city somewhere down south. I had heard of something like that when it was Donita and me back in New York, but the word I keep hearing is that it is a safe place, that it is open to everyone.

So that is where I had been thinking about getting us to. Three days ago we got a truck. It’s still just me and Cammy, but it feels safer.

I have been thinking about this place. 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 won’t make it for long. There are only two of us that can fight. 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! We’re right here. I see it everyday. The people talking aren’t exaggerating at all. If the big cities are truly falling apart, and people can’t make it banded together, how can we make it alone?

No. I’m heading for this place. I’m hoping it’s real. Today on the radio I caught someone talking, and it sounded like he was talking about the same place I have heard about. Too far away to hear me. Skip. You can never tell where it’s coming from. 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. The vehicles if we have to, and we have had to. They can’t get in there to get us either. A little fire at night if I can, because they are afraid of fire. It’s one constant, so far. The Zombies 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 has come willingly, although silently, like a big, semi-animated puppet. And then yesterday she was sitting beside me, silent as she had been since the thing with Madison, and she spoke.

“I don’t like beans, Bear. 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 was winding my way through the middle of an abandoned car and a wrecked, burned out truck, months old. I looked over at her. She smiled, tentative at first, but then it lit up her face. I had to laugh. I had so much pent up inside me.

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

“A bit,” she agreed.

I brought the truck to a dead stop 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…”

CHAPTER TWO

Donita’s Notebook

March 1st (Night)

Quakes, at least three. Warmed up fast, and all of the dirty snow that was piled along the streets has melted. Torrential rains. Thunder and lightening in the snow storm that came after sunset. Didn’t last long; turned back to rain. Parts of the projects are burning. Jersey is burning. The sky is red-orange, like everything across the river is on fire. No one has come.

March 2nd (Day)

Rain ’til noon. Destruction widespread. Then horrific quake just before dark. Started to rain again, very heavy, then later at night it turned to snow. Lightening in the snow storm.

Night, no moon, no stars. Storms stopped for awhile, still no stars. Then the storms came back harder.

March 3rd (Night)

Rain in the day, but as soon as the sun set, it turned colder. Snow, heavy snow, thunder and lightening through out the night. No moon or starlight. No stars at all!

March 4th (Day into Night)

Electronics stopped working, wristwatches, battery powered clocks. Bear tried to start a truck. Nothing… Dead. Three more quakes, aftershocks. Planes sprayed blue stuff on us too.

March 5th (Day)

Tremors. Time seems off; days are longer, I feel it. No way to measure it though. No rain or snow.

Harlem ~ March 6th

Donita sat on a stool in the kitchen writing in her little notebook. Something was going on out in the world. Something, and the news was covering it up. The local news had been canceled. First at noon and now again at five. There had been no strange weather today, but the time was still off. Really off. The days were longer, no doubt about it at all.

There were fires burning out of control in the projects. No firemen had come. No cops. Nobody at all. There had been Earthquakes, or at least the ground had shook. Explosions somewhere? Was it Earthquakes? It seemed like no one knew…

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