America The Dead Book One Episode Two

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

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 2

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 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..

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

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CHAPTER ONE

(Continued)

TWO MONTHS EARLIER

March 1st ~ Katie Lee

The traffic leaving the parking lot had slowed to a trickle. The lot nearly empty. The live shows were over. The bands packed up and gone. The dancers gone before or at the same time. The club was empty except Jimmy, the club boss, Don the main door security, and me.

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

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

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

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

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

But,” I started.

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

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

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

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

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

“Jesus, Jimmy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s late… Creeps around maybe.”

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

Jimmy nodded. “Smart creeps. There’s a lot of woods up north. Easy to lose yourself with or without a little help.” He looked at his watch and then fixed his eyes on me once more. “So you keep your perspective. Set your limits. Draw your lines,” he spoke as he shrugged into his coat, retrieved his hat from the bar top and planted it on his head, “Don’t let nobody cross those lines… You start next week… Let’s say the eleventh?”

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded. I let the Doll remark go.

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

I said goodbye to Jimmy V. Crossed the parking lot for the last

time and drove myself home. I parked my rusted out Toyota behind my Grandparents house and twenty four hours later my world, everybody’s world, was completely changed…

Katie March 2nd

This is not a diary. I have never kept a diary. They say never say never, but I doubt I will. I have never been this scared. The whole world is messed up. Is it ending? I don’t know but it seems like it’s ending here. Earthquakes, explosions. I’ve seen no Police, Fire or emergency people all day. It’s nearly night. I think that’s a bad sign. I have the Nine Millimeter that used to be my father’s. I’ve got extra ammo as well. I’m staying inside.

Katie March 3rd

I lost this yesterday; my little notebook. I left it by the window so I could see to write, but I swear it wasn’t there when I went to get it, then I found it again later on by the window right where I left it. Maybe I’m losing it.

There are no Police, no Firemen, phones, electric, the real world is falling apart. Two days and nothing that I thought I knew is still here. Do you see? The whole world has changed.

I got my guitar out and played it today. I played for almost three hours. I played my stuff. I played some blues. Usually blues will bring me out of blues, but it didn’t work. It sounded so loud. So out of place. So… I don’t know. I just stopped and put it away.

Katie March 4th

I’m going out. I have to see. If I don’t come back. Well… What good is writing this?

Katie March 5th

The whole city has fallen apart. I spent most of yesterday trying to see how bad this is. I finally realized it’s bad beyond my being able to fix it. It’s bad as in there is no authority. It’s bad as in there is no Jimmy V. I hear gunshots at night, all night. Screams. There are still tremors. If I had to guess I would say it’s the end of the civilized world. Unless things are better somewhere else I have to believe that. Power, structure, it’s all gone. I mean it’s really all gone. This city is torn up. There are huge areas that are ruined. Gulleys, ravines, missing streets, damaged bridges. The damage costs have to be in the billions… And that’s just here. There’s me and my little notebook I’m writing in and my nine millimeter. I’ve got nothing else for company right now.

I’ve got water, some peanuts and crackers. How long can this go on? What then?

Katie March 6th

I’ve decided to leave. I can’t stay here. There was a tremor last night, and not one of the really bad ones, but even so I was sure the house would come down on me. It didn’t. Maybe though that is a sign, I told myself. And scared or not I have to go. I have to. I can’t stay here. Maybe tomorrow.

Katie March 7th

The streets are a mess. I’ve spent too much of the last week hiding inside my apartment. Most of my friends, and that’s a joke, I didn’t have anyone I could actually call a friend; So I guess I would say most of my acquaintances believed my grandparents were alive and that I lived here with them. They weren’t. I didn’t. I kind of let that belief grow, fostered it, I guess.

I planted the seed by saying it was my Nana Pans’ apartment. You can see the Asian in me, so it made sense to them that she was my Nana. But I look more like I’m a Native American than African American and Japanese. It’s just the way the blood mixed as my father used to say. But Native American or Asian they could see it in my face. And this neighborhood is predominantly Asian. Mostly older people. There were two older Asian women that lived in the building. They probably believed one of those women was my Nana and I didn’t correct them.

I can’t tell you why I did that. I guess I wanted that separation. I didn’t want them, anyone to get to know me well. My plan had been to dance, earn enough money for school, Criminal Justice, go back to New York. Pretend none of this part of my life had ever happened. Some plan. It seemed workable. I wondered over what Jimmy V. had said to me. Did he see something in me that I didn’t, or was he just generalizing? It doesn’t matter now I suppose.

My Grandmother passed away two years ago. The apartment she had lived in was just a part of the building that she owned. Nana Pan, my mothers mother, had rented the rest of the building out. The man who had lived with her was not my Grandfather, he had died before I was born, but her brother who had come ten years before from Japan. They spoke little English. People outside of the neighborhood often thought they were man and wife. She didn’t bother correcting them my mother had told me. Nana Pan thought that most Americans were superficial and really didn’t care, so what was the use in explaining anything to them? Maybe that’s where I got my deceptiveness from.

I had left the house as it was. Collected rents through an agency. For all anyone knew I was just another tenant. Of course Jimmy V. had known. He had mentioned it to me. But Jimmy knew everything there was to know about everyone. That was part of his business. It probably kept him alive.

So I stayed and waited. I believed someone would show up and tell me what to do. But no one did. I saw a few people wander by yesterday… Probably looking for other people, but I stayed inside. I don’t know why. What all my reasons were. A lot of fear I think.

There have been earthquakes. The house is damaged. I went outside today and really looked at it. It is off the foundation and leaning. I should have gotten out of it the other night when I knew it was bad, it’s just dumb luck it hasn’t fallen in on me and killed me.

It doesn’t matter now though. I met a few others today and I’m leaving with them. I don’t know if I’ll stay with them. I really don’t know what to expect from life anymore.

I’m taking this and my gun with me. Writing this made me feel alive. I don’t know how better to say it.

I’ll write more here I think, I just don’t know when or where I’ll be.

Old Town

He came awake in the darkness, but awake wasn’t precisely the term. Alive was precisely the term. He knew alive was precisely the term because he could remember dieing. He remembered that his heart had stopped in his chest. He had remembered wishing that it would start again. That bright moment or two of panic, and then he remembered beginning not to care. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. And he had drifted away.

Now he had drifted back. But, drifted was not exactly right. He had slammed back into himself where he lay on the cold subbasement floor where he had been murdered by a roving gang of thieves. And he knew those things were true because he remembered them. And he knew they were true because he was dead. He was still dead. His heart was not beating in his chest. His blood was cold and jelled in his veins. He could feel it. Some kind of new perception.

He lay and watched the shadows deepen in the corners of the basement ceiling for a short time longer and then tried to move.

His body did not want to move at first. It felt as though it weighed a ton. Two tons, but with a little more effort it came away. He sat, and then crawled to his knees.

In the corner a huge rat stopped on his way to somewhere to sniff at him. Decided he was probably food and came to eat him. He had actually sat for a second while the rat first sniffed and then began to gnaw at one fingernail. Then he had quickly snatched the rat up with his other hand, snapped it’s back in his fist and then shoved him warm and squirming into his mouth. A few minutes later he stood on shaky legs and walked off into the gloom of the basement. Looking for the stairs and the way up to the streets.

March 8th

I debated with myself about how to start this. Isn’t that stupid? Not whether I should start it. I guess that means that I have some hope that I am not the only one.

Actually, I know that I’m not the only one. I’ve heard gunshots more than once. I’ve heard a dog barking. And I’ve seen several dogs, cats, squirrels, etc. . . .I’ve also heard what sounded like a car or a truck, but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Everything is so quiet, it could be anywhere.

The sound of the river drowns things out. Even so, I haven’t seen any other people. None. And, I’m getting ahead of myself too.

I have no idea what has happened. Even here in Old Town. It doesn’t really matter either, except to tell you, whoever you may end up being, what happened from my point of view, I guess. Maybe it’s the same for you. Maybe writing this out is a waste of time. But, it keeps my mind off shit, you know?

So, I wondered where to start? Today? Last week? Just start, I guess…

I have heat. Food. Fire. And I’ve finally gotten myself moved into this old factory, so my mind is more at ease. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself. It started for me last week on the 2nd of March. Only six days but everything here has changed.

I was having a few beers, watching the coverage of the world countdown party; hey, it was supposed to be a joke, right? And, supposedly, we had a few months to go. It was supposed to be one long countdown party. And, one minute everything was fine, and the next the power was out.

Then the first quake hit…

I made it through that night and…. Two more quakes? Aftershocks? Who knows? I was just trying to get through to the morning. Phones were out; Sirens everywhere; No power. But, the closer it got to dawn the less noise there was. The sirens fell off. The rain started hard, and then the lightning came. A thunder and lightning storm in the middle of winter!

It was spooky, and when morning finally came it didn’t make much sense at all. Almost everything I could see in every direction was flattened. The streets had cracked open and had become rivers. The temperature was higher than it should have been as well. But that didn’t last.

By noon the rain stopped and I kept expecting to see someone. Emergency workers… Power Company… Somebody. Even a neighbor. But I saw no one at all that day.

I guess as serious as it was I wasn’t taking it serious. At least not the first day. I was still thinking,… Rescue… Help… It’s on the way. This is the most powerful country in the entire world. Help is coming. So I sat on my ass and drank beer and ate bologna sandwiches and chips, staring out at the street from my front porch which was perched on the edge of a twenty foot rain gully.

Just before dark the real quake hit. It had to have been stronger than the previous ones. It felt like it anyway.

I barely jumped off the porch before it fell into the gully. Scared the hell out of me. It wasn’t long after that when darkness settled in and I knew I was in trouble. Something in the whole structure of the house was damaged .Every aftershock made it dance, sway around me. It was also now a two foot drop down to the ground since my porch was gone. And I didn’t dare leave because I had no idea what it was like outside. No Streetlights. No Moon, no starlight. No starlight, none! Then the storms came back and the air turned back to cold.

Every time the lightning flashed I could see the street, or what had been the street. There was no more street, not really. It was a river, wide, and deep. All of the opposite side of the street was gone now too. No houses, cars, telephone poles, satellite dishes. Nothing. It seemed like the entire side of the street had washed away right down to the river. The water roared past me, just a few feet from where my porch had been, flattened out, and then turned into rapids breaking away to crash into the river further down the hill. That was when I realized it wasn’t just the other side of the street that was gone, the other two blocks that had been between me and the river were also gone.

Later on the rain turned to snow, but the lightning kept up. Lightning in a snow storm. How crazy is that? By the morning of March 4th the river running past my house was down to a trickle, but the snow was piling up. Down the hill the real river was over its banks. There was nothing else to see, a few solitary houses still standing as my own was. But there was no one around anywhere. That’s when I got into the hard stuff.

I drank myself to sleep and when I woke up I’d lost several hours. My watch still worked at that point. When I walked to the front door the first thing I noticed was footprints in the snow. Three sets. Two small, maybe kids or women, one big. Going just past my house. No more than three feet from my house, where once upon a time in some other world my porch had been, and I had slept through it. I yelled and screamed for a half hour hoping that someone would hear me, but no one came. No one yelled back and told me to shut up either. Just absolute silence. No birds, just the roar of the swollen Black. Nothing else.

I’ve thought about the day, the fourth, a couple of times. Was it the fourth? The fifth? Did I sleep more than a few hours? I don’t know. And, that was the day my watch stopped working so I don’t know. One minute it was working the next it wasn’t. The face was blank.

There were a couple of more aftershocks that day and I began to wonder if my house would be standing much longer. After all nearly everything around me was destroyed already. And, I thought, what if that was an aftershock? Like I had thought the first quake was the real one and then the one the next day was so much stronger. It made me realize how stupid I was to still be in that house. And, I thought, no wonder no one is answering when I yell. They were all smart enough to get away from the buildings. Leave. And if I left also, I reasoned, I’d most likely catch up to them. Whoever they were, where ever they had gone. That was when I had glanced at my watch and noticed that it had stopped working.

I had been in the habit of looking at my watch all day. Just nervous, I guess. I was positive that I had just looked at it and it had been working. But, when had that been? What time had it been? And, when had it been that I had looked at it? How long ago? All I could remember for sure was that the last aftershock that had started me wondering had been at 2:57 P.M. I wasn’t sure of anything after that. Even when I thought back on it later, wondering what day it was, I wondered why I had never thought to push the little date button to see what the date had been. Or, had I? Had I and then forgotten that I had? Had I only remembered subconsciously that it was the fourth? Anyway, the watch was dead. And what time was it? And where should I go? And how soon would it be dark? After wasting time wondering about things like that. Things that were absolute bullshit in light of everything else, I just jumped down into the snow and headed off towards Old Town.

There were a few buildings standing in that direction. It was still snowing pretty hard, but I could see the outlines of the buildings through the snow.

There were planes overhead in the night. I know that sounds crazy but I awoke to hearing them. There was a strange smell in the air and I was thinking, in my dream? Maybe in my dream or maybe awake, anyway I was thinking crop dusters. Like they were crop dusting. Spraying something. It was weird. Now I could see traces of blue… Powder? Something, on the snow and it made me remember the dream. But I pushed it away and walked. Too much to see and comprehend as it was without worrying over bad dreams.

Normally it’s no more than a fifteen minute walk down to Old Town. I figured that if anyone was still alive that was where they would be.

In fact, I told myself, they probably would have some buildings open for shelter. Fire Department passing out blankets… Bottled water… Hot soup. I could see it so clearly in my head. I was wrong, of course, but that’s a story for tomorrow. My fingers are shot. Hey it would be easy to write this on my computer keyboard, but computers are a thing of the past now.

I’m warm. I’m dry. I’m pretty much okay. I survived the day the world ended, but my fingers are sore and I’m tired, so I’ll pick this up tomorrow.

Katie March 8th

Fresh snow today. The whole world is covered in clean, white snow. It makes it look like nothing ever happened here.

I’m with a man named Jake. He’s crazy about me. I just can’t feel the same. I could fake it, but I told myself I’m not going to do that. But I can’t keep on this way either. It is too hard on him, too hard on me.

James and Jana Adams are also with us. I don’t know what I would do without Jana. She is level headed where I am impulsive. A thinker where I tend to just act. A good balance. James has an idea of rebuilding his peoples lands. He’s Native American, so is Jana. It sounded crazy when he first said it but after I thought about it, it began to make sense to me.

Lana is the other member of our party. She hates me. That’s because Jake wants me and she wants Jake. Maybe that will fix itself before I have to fix it by leaving and going on my own.

Today we decided to see if the city was any better on the other side of the river. It isn’t. We crossed the river on a railroad trestle. There is a traffic bridge, and it looks passable, but it’s clogged with cars, and some of those cars look purposely placed to block it off. That creeped me out.

We walked across the trestle, carefully, and went up toward the park. There are markets up there, and we found tracks in the snow. One person. A man I would guess from the boot tread.

I can not tell you what that was like. Seeing a footprint left by someone else. Someone else alive in this whole mess. I felt connected to him. I can’t say it or explain it any better than that. Like a connection existed forever and I only had to find it. I tried to explain it to Lana but she just shrugged. We have this thing with Jake between us though. She wants him, he wants me. I don’t want him. It could be so Goddamn simple but it isn’t.

Except the footprints. Maybe the footprints are the answer. I think they are. I believe they are. We just need to find the person, the man, that goes with those footprints and… And I don’t know. I really don’t. But I think he’ll know.

The only bad thing today; we came across a dead man laying crumpled by the side of the road. I could have sworn he moved so I hurried to him but as I got closer I could see that he was dead. Long dead. We stood for a moment and then walked on. Later when we came back he was gone and I thought, was he dead? Was he? But I know that he was. I suppose that wild dogs or something got him. We didn’t talk about it but it bothered all of us.

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Book one-Series link

America The Dead Book One Episode 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 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..

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

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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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Dell’s Blog

Posted by Dell on 04-11-2019 @ 1:03 A. M.

I thought about entitling this what the Hell is wrong with me but I don’t like to get too dramatic. Even so, there is something wrong with me. I just don’t seem to see things the same way as other people do. For instance, just before I sat down to write this I turned the channel to a movie channel to listen to movies while I work. Pathetic, I know, but I do it every night. The T.V. Is behind me so I have to turn to see it. So, I don’t. I just listen. But, sometimes it’s so good that I do turn to watch for a second and I’m usually disappointed. Well, tonight I turned the channel and there was a sports show just ending, and one of the commentators turned to the screen and Said “We want to thank you for tuning in.”

“Really,” I asked?

He didn’t say anything. I guess we would all be surprised if he did. But, I continued… “I didn’t tune in. I hate your show! I wouldn’t watch it if you paid me.” He did seem to flinch a little at that but the T.V. Went to commercial with no further incident… Not that there could have been one. I’m just saying…

Anyway, my point is, I do not like sports the way other men do. Several times in my life other men have stopped and looked at me like…. “Whoaaa, what’s up with this dude.” or “Did you play with dolls when you were a kid?” I learned early in my life that it is unmanly to say you do not like sports, or hint it, or not know the answer to a sports question. It’s just not allowed. Since I was young I had to go along with it, even so I couldn’t always keep up the facade. Occasionally someone would trip me up…

“So, what did you think of Babe Ruth?”

“Oh… Babe Ruth… It’s a damn good candy bar,” I answered.

He looked at me funny and I knew I screwed something up, but, eventually he laughed, I went home and asked my little Brother who Babe Ruth was, a hockey player? (My brother is a Hockey fanatic) “Sure… Sure… A hockey player,” my little brother tells me. That was payback for all the mean things I had done to him.

As I got older I’d pick a little and ask guys why they didn’t just give both teams a ball and send them home, I mean, wasn’t the point to get the ball? And didn’t they seem to take an awful long time to get it? And wouldn’t it be easier to just give them a frigging ball of their own? Wouldn’t it. That didn’t win me any points, and then, in ninth grade, I decided to not major in smoking behind the school that year and I took Home Economics instead.

My life as a social outcast was short lived though. I got kicked out of Home economics and went back to majoring in smoking behind the school. Then, voila, it hit me. Maybe not liking sports was… was… I couldn’t make the connection though. I had probably burned out too many brain cells smoking joints behind the school instead of cigarettes. Too bad, if I could have only made the connection I may have been able to see that real men need sports in their lives as much as they need to fart and burp… (Some men, not all men.). And sports lends a well rounded social adaptation you just can’t get any other way. I remember so many times at work some guy would say… “So, what do you think about those Dodgers?” And I would say, “Oh… Well they ought to go to jail…(Then, because it’s manly to swear and cuss), Frigging A! They ought to, those bastards!” Another potential social connection missed. Another opportunity to be a success in society missed.

At an early age I did decide to make a concession. I decided that I would watch Stock Car Racing. That was a sport. That would be my sport! It would solve everything. But no. Footballers, Baseballers, All those other ballers (It’s all games where you play with balls, right? … I’m just saying…) they don’t all believe that stock car racing is a real sport… What? So, I had managed to like the one sport that wasn’t really a sport. What was wrong with me? I just didn’t know.

As I grew up and went to prison I realized that I had to be honest with myself about my shortcomings when it came to sports if I ever hoped to break the cycle and stop going back to prison. My whole life was in ruin. Virtual ruin. So I sat down and examined it and realized that I was uncomfortable with the games. I paid attention, I took notes, and I realized that I had some prejudices and hangups concerning the way the game was played. And, I plain didn’t understand the rules. So I took a closer look at them. And wrote down the ones that really confused me:

#1. Did you pat the other guy on the Ass after he made a basket/home run/touchdown or before?

#2. Did you grab your junk whenever you wanted to or only when people were watching?

#3. Did you cry only in a strong emotional circumstance like your coach retiring, or could you cry if you just had a bad day, or the dog crapped on your new carpet?

#4. If you patted a guy on the Ass more than once did it mean you had to buy him dinner?

I learned these are not questions you ask other men in prison.

After I got out of the infirmary, I tried to figure these questions out on my own after watching my sport for awhile, but I only became more confused.

In NASCAR, nobody pats anyone on the Ass. At least not in public (Tony Stewart excepted but he’s nuts anyway). I’ve seen dozens of finishes and never once have I seen the other drivers run up and pat the winner on the Ass. Not Once. There are no balls to play with. None. The drivers never grab their junk in front of the cameras, and if anyone cries, why one of the other drivers will just beat him up! Even the women drivers don’t cry, and, I’m pretty sure they don’t play with dolls either.

After much thought I decided these things:

#1. I’m not patting any guy on the Ass whether it’s a game or not, and if one pats me on the Ass there’s going to be trouble.

#2. I will only grab my junk when no one’s watching.

#3. If I feel an urge to cry I will remind myself that it could be worse. I could be a footballer and some sweaty, three hundred pound guy could be patting me on the Ass all of the time…


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Dell’s Blog

April-03-19

I have come to look at the extinction of the dinosaurs in a whole new light.

Over the last few years with Global Warming, or the natural earth cycle, whatever it is, the weather patterns have been crazy. Snow when there shouldn’t be snow. Rain where there never has been rain. No rain where there always has been. Golf ball size hail is common and baseball size is not unheard of in pretty much any weather disturbance.

Let me share this conversation I had with my Neighbor, a few days back;

“No… It wasn’t raining, it had finished raining, it was in between the end of raining and drying up. There were hardly any of those little plop things in the puddles.”

“Plop things,” I asked?

“Yeah, you know where the rain drop falls in and makes the little circle things that go out and… well they are sort of like little tiny waves, rolling across the surface of a tiny little Ocean….” He got a faraway look in his eyes and fell silent.

“Uh, Bob?” his name is Bob.

“Yeah?”

“You kind of zoned out there,” I told him. “But I understand the thing about the plop… I think…” he started to speak. “No, I do. I do understand it completely.”

Bob nodded. “Good… It’s kind of hard to explain… Did you ever wonder if there’s tiny little life down there… you know and the mud puddle to them really is an ocean… and.” He looked up, smiled and cleared his throat. “Well, you know.”

“Uh… sure… Once or twice I think… So, uh, you were saying about the hail?”

In between us a raccoon that lived in the woods behind us lay dead… Presumably dead. I had not checked for a pulse or attempted mouth to mouth, but it had been hit in the head with a chunk of hail roughly the size of a hardball while crossing from Bob’s property to mine. Bob had seen the whole thing, come over and got me away from my typing long enough to come out and look at the raccoon and the chunks of ice that had fallen from the sky. I looked up now. Not entirely sure more wouldn’t fall. I was not a raccoon, but I was still sure a chunk of ice that big could probably kill me to.

“Yeah… Got me spooked too,” Bob said and looked up at the sky.

“So…” I asked looking back down.

“Yeah, well… So I was coming out of the shed, getting the pots for my spring plantings, sun has to shine eventually, and here comes Martha (Martha was his pet name for the Raccoon) probably thinking I had a treat for her. So I’m fixing to get the peanuts out of my pocket, I keep them for her… You know, they was on sale two years ago at the A&P so I bought three cases of them.” He seemed to lose himself for a moment.

“Yeah… The A&P does have some good deals,” I allowed. I was glad it was not me eating three year old peanuts.

“Oh yeah. Last week they had Captain Crunch… She likes that too… I didn’t have any Captain crunch in my…”

Martha farted and Bob jumped back three feet.

“God!” Bob declared. Nothing else happened for a few moments and Bob looked up at me. “You suppose?”

“Just a natural thing,” I said. It had made me jump too though. Not pleasant to think that after you pass you’ll still be passing. The thought almost made me laugh which Bob would have taken the wrong way so I bit it back and listened as he resumed talking.

He had bent down and picked up a large hardball sized chunk of ice. There were several close by her, but he fixed on the one. “So she’s coming and the rain’s letting up, and, well, did you know she don’t like the rain? I think most raccoons are like that. They don’t like the rain. So… Where was I?”

“The rain,” I said reluctantly. It had been my chance to speed it up by telling him he was telling me about the hail hitting her in the head and I had blown it.

“Right, the rain… Hmm… Oh,” he snapped his fingers, “That’s how I know it was done raining. She wouldn’t have come out other wise.”

Martha farted again.

Bob looked offended, but neither of us jumped this time. “You think she’s just gonna keep doing that,” Bob asked?

I shrugged… “Maybe,” I allowed.

“Whoooeee,” Bob said fanning his face.

I was down wind.

Bob shuffled a little sideways. “Must have been the Captain Crunch.” We both stood silent for a few moments, staring down at the dead, farting raccoon.

“So,” I said at last.

Bob looked puzzled.

“Uh, the hail…. The accident… Poor Mable,” I gestured at the dead raccoon.

“Oh… Oh…” Bob said. “Martha… It’s Martha,” Bob said.

“Sorry, Bob. Martha,” I repeated.

Bob Nodded. “Well, anyways, dropped right out of the sky and conked her right in the frigging’ head.” He nodded.

I nodded for him to continue.

“Oh… That’s it. Conked her in the head. Fell right down… Never said nothing after that. Not even a … a … Well, what ever a raccoon would say after getting hit with a chunk of ice.”

I nodded. Mister sympathy. Martha farted again. Bob made a face and shifted a little sideways.

“I suppose she would have said something like. Well, if racoons could talk. I know they can’t, I’m just saying, she might have said something like … ‘Son of a bitch that hurt!’ or ‘My God that was a big chunk of ice!’ but she never said a word at all. Just bang in the head and she dropped in her tracks… Just like you see her.” Martha farted once more as if to punctuate Bob’s words. “Had to be the Captain Crunch.,” Bob said quietly. “Well, anyhow,” Bob continued un-prompted, “Hail? Hail the size of a baseball? In Spring? Up here?” Bob was tossing the question marks around like he had a pocket full of them instead of peanuts.

I nodded. “I’ve never seen it,” I agreed. And I hadn’t in my fifty plus years of living in upstate New York.

“I been here all my eighty two years,” Bob said. “Never seen nothing’ like it… Hail the size of baseballs…”

Martha twitched, farted again and then raised her head slowly from the ground.

“Son of a bitch,” Bob said.

I muttered something a little more colorful.

Martha looked over at Bob, then swung her head around at me, managed to get her feet under her and wobbled a few steps.

“Son of a bitch,” Bob repeated. I must confess I repeated a few of those colorful words too.

Martha wobbled a few more times, let loose of one more long high-pitched fart, and then waddled over to Bob. Bob just stared down at her stupidly for a moment and then reached into his pocket and came out with a handful of lint covered peanuts. I stood and watched for a few moments as Bob fed her, but I hate to see old men cry so I kind of faded into the background. Besides, I’m pretty sure Bob forgot I was there.

My point is, Global warming, or whatever it is, is ruining the world. Making it a tough place to live in. I envision the whole dinosaur extinction as going something like this.

Fred the dinosaur is standing in his yard staring down at a tiny, dead little human. His buddy Ralph happens by.

Ralph: “So, what’s up there, Fred? Got your self a little meal there?”

Fred looks up and frowns. “No. It was my little friend,” He turns and points towards the cliffs a short way away. “Lives over there… Comes out every day or so… Likes those little furry things with horns?” He looks at Ralph and Ralph nods.

“I think they call them ‘Furry things with four feet,’” Ralph supplied.

It was Fred’s turn to nod. “Yeah, so, anyway, I keep one around, you know, they’re easy to catch. And I leave some for him…”

“And, “ Ralph prompted?

“And, the ice just fell out of the sky and bashed him in the head…”

“Well, you could eat him,” Ralph said. “Seems a waste to…”

The human rolled over, farted and looked up at Fred.

“Son of a bitch,” Fred said. “And you wanted to eat him.”

“Well… You could still eat him,” Ralph said.

“You make me sick sometimes,” Fred said. He shuffled over to the human, carefully helped him to his feet and steered him towards the pile of meat he had left for him.

“You know, just blue skying it here, Fred. But let’s suppose this whole weather thing is a … a … A harbinger of things to come? More bad weather? You know… What, Fred, If it’s the end for us? As a species!”

Fred strode across the short distance, flicked his tail and knocked Ralph off his feet. “You are over reacting, Ralph. Where do you get theses crazy ideas from?”

Ralph picked himself up, glancing over at the human who seemed to be amused by the whole situation. “Just repeating what they say. They say maybe our time is through and soon the world will be left to the humans. Imagine… Us extinct,” Ralph finished.

Fred laughed, a loud roar that caused the human to shrink back. “Nonsense! Humans take over the world? Where do you hear these things?”

And… That was probably it right there. The beginning, same as it is for us. Maybe two million years from now there will be a couple of cockroaches standing out in their adjoining yards…

“So, Darren, did you see that chunk of ice that dropped out of the sky?”

…………………………………………………………………..

Hey, have a good week! Dell Sweet.

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