America the Dead Free Read 3

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

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 3

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

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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.

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


CHAPTER TWO

Conner March 9th

Maybe it’s March ninth. I guess I really don’t know. But, that’s what I think it is so that’s what I’m going with.

It’s late. I spent today getting food. Canned stuff mostly. It was rough. Almost everything is flattened, and what isn’t flattened is badly damaged. I spent about five hours a few days ago digging my way into a market on the Park Street Road. The roof was down but held up by the tops of the aisle stacks, so I was able to make my way through. I just had to be really careful of broken glass. That was where I went back to today.

I had no flashlight at first, but I managed to get a small flashlight and batteries. I had to take so much stuff out of the front area of the store that all the impulse stuff they sell was right there, Candy, little radios, and of course flashlights and batteries also. I tried a small portable radio, nothing but static on the A.M. and F.M. bands both. I bought it back with me along with some extra batteries. I listened to it a short while ago; still nothing, maybe tomorrow.

I spent the day at the market digging out canned goods and bringing them back here.

Here, is an old factory. The factory is down in back of Old Town as it’s called. I knew about it from growing up here. It used to be some sort of a manufacturing plant and it had been closed up for years. The quake took care of that though. The doors that had once been closed and bricked up buckled and sprung open. I was worried about the building itself collapsing, but it seems to be fine.

It’s only about a mile and a half from here to the markets in the village but with no vehicle it’s slow going. I’ve been piling stuff up on a large sled and making trips back and forth.

I found several cars and trucks, snowmobiles, but none of them will run. Most of them have no juice but even the ones that do just turn over but won’t fire up. Maybe if I was a mechanic I could do something, but I’m not. So it’s the sled and a lot of muscle work.

I did notice today, after not going there for two days that no one else had been there either. No tracks in the fresh snow. It’s depressing. No way can I be the only freaking guy here, right? And that made me wonder, what the hell am I writing this for? I mean, if there’s no one left who will read it? I guess those are questions for another day. Another day because, truly, I don’t want to deal with them today.

So I spent my day getting food. There are maybe two dozen buildings still standing in Old Town. But that’s where I was when I left off writing yesterday, heading for Old Town, so I’ll pick it up from there.

When I got into Old Town there was no one there. Only the handful of buildings standing as I mentioned, and two of those went down a short time later from an aftershock. The Police department… Gone. The Fire department… Gone. I know I walked out there. Ditto the high school. All the old houses. The newspaper, museum. Really, it’s all gone.

There were some tracks, but how old were they? I couldn’t tell. And I couldn’t tell where they were headed either. I got pretty down about it and ended up walking back down to Old Town and then down towards the river in back of the buildings. There was a porn shop, still there. It seemed like the dirtiest place I’d ever seen. I mean, why would a place like that still be there, still be standing when almost nothing else was?

Is that a statement or what? Hey, maybe it is. But, since I was down that far I thought I’d take a look at the river, and that made me think about the old Factory down by the river. I remembered playing around that building as a kid. Solid back then. I could never figure out why it was abandoned. Maybe it was still solid.

It wasn’t hard to find it. It’s on an old abandoned road below the level of Old Town, but a good hundred feet or so above the level of the river. All of the brick work that had once closed off the entrance way had fallen. The building itself seemed okay. Some brick had come down, but not much. Most of the brick lying around looked pretty old. Like it had been there for some time. Given the buildings in Old Town, which were still falling, or this old factory that seemed pretty solid , I chose the old factory. It just seemed to make more sense.

It’s quite big. Lighted from the old wire reinforced windows all along the front. The front area is huge, and dry, more room than I could ever use, so there’s no need for me to go back into all that darkness where the light doesn’t reach and find out how deep it goes. And that’s funny, isn’t it? What is it that I’ll need? Might need? Could need? I don’t know. I do know I won’t be spending the rest of my life living in an abandoned factory, that’s for sure. But it’s winter. I have to stay somewhere for the next few months. Then maybe I’ll head south if no one shows up to rescue me. I guess it would be me, there’s no one else here. It shouldn’t be that way though. There has to be more than me.

I spent the rest of the day looking around. I walked all the way out to the strip, as well as out of Old Town toward the old rail yards. It’s all car dealerships and strip malls now. The South Town mall, or most of it, has collapsed. But I should be able to get some stuff out of it. The interstate is car wrecks and bodies everywhere. I could see it from the overpass. I didn’t feel a need to go down there to see it in person. I didn’t want to.

I hadn’t really seen many bodies. Some at the mall, some at the market, a few others here and there, but there is so much ground, houses, things missing, that I think the other people just got swallowed up by the quake. There is a lot of raw earth. Most of the streets are messed up. The interstate is like that in places, what I can see any way, but close to the mall it’s all wrecks and bodies. Wrecked and burned vehicles and it smells horrible. I could smell it long before I came up on the overpass. I’ve decided it will take a lot to get me to go back out there again.

The market has that smell. It’s just a small neighborhood market really. I found two people up by the checkouts when I first dug it out, but none since then, as I’ve dug out other parts of the store. Maybe it’s the meat department at the back of the store that smells like that.

I spent most of the next day wandering around. Trying to start cars and trucks. Calling out to the people I had hoped were there. Nothing. I heard something that sounded like an engine running, but it came and went on the wind and I couldn’t tell where it had come from. But I took that as a good sign. It has to be someone right?

I can’t imagine being alone.

I tried to start new cars, old cars, new trucks, you name it. None of them do anything except turn over. But at least their batteries are working.

That was the day I realized that the daylight seemed to last way to long. My watch wasn’t working, so I can’t say for sure, but the sun just seemed to hang in the sky all day, then it seemed to sink in the wrong direction once it did set. And I was sick all day. My stomach. And I was light headed.

The night lasted a long time and the sun came back up in the wrong place, unless my sense of direction is off. Maybe it is. In any case I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was the earthquakes? I don’t know. It could’ve been, but it doesn’t seem possible.

The end of the world books were saying the Earth would stop and then run backwards. Maybe it did, but I didn’t feel weightlessness if it did. Or at least I don’t think so. But I thought about the vehicles, magnetic poles, maybe because everything is electronic now they can’t work? I don’t know. It’s just an idea, but I’m thinking I’ll look for an older vehicle to try out my theory on. Like I said, I wish I were a mechanic and then I’d know.

Once I found the old factory my mind was pretty much made up. I spent a lot of time clearing out the glass and broken bricks. Bringing food in and even some chairs, blankets, things like that. I’ve collected a lot of firewood and every butane lighter I could find. Paper plates. Plastic forks and spoons. And, man oh man, coffee. I found a small metal coffee pot in an aisle with camping gear. It works pretty damn well. I got some heavy duty pots and pans there also.

All of that over the last few days, but still no other people. It makes me wonder about the tracks that went past my house. Where did they go? Where is there to go to? I turn the radio on every once in awhile but nothing. Even so I’m keeping my attitude upbeat. Positive. There has to be other people. Doesn’t that just make sense? Winter can’t last much past May, and then it will be time to get out of here. Hopefully with other people.

Katie March 9th

I saw him! I know there is this other person just across the river. It was while we were on the way back and I happened to look back across the river from the rail trestle and there he was by the river bank. Climbing it? I think so, but why? And how can I say it was the same man that belonged to the footprints? I can’t. I feel it though. I believe it was him. Who else could it have been?

I wanted to go back right then. Jake refused. There was no reason for him to refuse but he did. We argued about it. I mean really argued. I hadn’t realized or really even thought about what it is about Jake that I don’t like. Maybe a better way to say that is what keeps me away from him. Why didn’t I, in all this destruction, hopelessness, just fall into his arms, or love, or whatever would pass for love in this world. Isn’t that logical? Shouldn’t I have? But I didn’t and the reason is because he’s got this attitude about what place a woman has in his world. It came out today when we argued. I think I picked it up subconsciously before that though and it kept me away from him.

Anyway I’m not going to go there. I’m leaving in the morning to go over there and find the man that I saw. I know that sounds crazy. I know it does but I’m going. I’m getting up at sunrise and I’m going. Jana and James said they would go with me. If Jake doesn’t want to go he doesn’t have to. We’re not speaking at all. Lana seems upset by that. She wants him but not at my expense. I guess that makes me like her a little more than I did.

I was outside until way after dark looking for firelight on the other side of the river. I didn’t see any at all.

I don’t know that area though. Maybe I wouldn’t see a fire over there. Maybe he is being careful. I want to know so much. When will I know it?

March 10th ? (probably) Conner

Another long day, more trips back and forth to the market. The days are definitely longer, but so are the nights. I don’t see how that can be but it is. I have no real way to judge it; it’s just a gut feeling. I found several watches by the checkouts. None of them work either. But, I know its true. I feel the longer days. I feel the longer nights. That’s all I can say.

A few days back I became sure that the days were even longer and that’s changed. They’re not as long as that, but still longer than they used to be.

I was thinking. Who are you? I know that’s kind of dumb but, you’re somebody, right? And you’re reading this, right? And, how far away is it in time? Place? Do you know who I am or did you just find this and begin reading it? Have you been through this too? Is it over and explained? For all I know no one is here to read this. I can’t really believe that though. Man, I really can’t… Won’t. It’s the only reason I’m writing this. So that someone, you, will know who I am. That I made it, at least so far, and as I go along I hope to get some answers. There must be some somewhere. Maybe you have them. Maybe.

So my name is Conner Davis. I’m a web site designer… Was, I guess. I guess there’s no more internet, right? Hopefully it’ll be back though.

I’m twenty three years old. I’m single and it looks like I might remain single for awhile. That’s not funny really. Hopefully I’ll find other people soon. I can’t be the only one left. But if I do or if I don’t, I’ll have this written record.

I dragged about fifty sled loads of stuff down here today. The inside of the market is really beginning to smell bad. No, really bad. And I found more bodies as well. Two today. I’ve been concentrating on canned stuff, trying to make sure I don’t get sick. There is a lot of it, and I have a lot of it here now.

I heard dogs today and not far away either. And there were paw prints in the market. And something had been at the bodies. The dogs, I suppose. I was kind of leery of going in but they weren’t there. And had they been they probably would’ve been as afraid of me as I was of them. But I was also wondering, were they dogs? Wolves? I mean, don’t they sound the same? Leave the same sort of tracks? Maybe not to someone who knows what to look for in the tracks, but to me they look like dog tracks. And the bodies I had found had been partially eaten. Something was eating them. Dogs? Wolves? I didn’t know but I knew I had to be careful. And what about the other tracks going into the market? Other People? Where are they?

That got me thinking about the zoo. What happened to all of the animals there? So I walked out to the park, but I couldn’t get all the way up to the park entrance. The road’s gone. The whole park area seems to be gone. No trees just raw earth. So I turned back around and came back. I don’t think anything could’ve lived through that. But lions, wolves, bear? There are a few new things to worry about, right? Can a lion survive in the winter? I don’t know. But I walked back from my trip to the park a whole lot faster than I walked up there.

But I heard dogs… Or wolves. I heard them, and if they lived other people had to live, right? And a few times now I’ve felt that I was being watched. You know that feeling you get? Well I’ve gotten it a few times in the last few days. I still haven’t seen anyone though. I’ve called out a few times; no one has answered.

I haven’t seen other footprints besides the market, but it’s been a little warmer and the snow has melted. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And they could also walk where I’ve been walking, in which case I wouldn’t see their tracks. But they should have no trouble finding me. I’m not try to hide… Be careful about the tracks I leave. I don’t know if that’s good or not. I’ve been thinking about that too.

I’m not much for guns. I’ve never shot a pistol or a rifle or gone hunting. But I’m thinking of walking back out to the strip. There were a few sporting goods stores out there. I even took a few things from one of them the other day, but I didn’t think about guns at the time. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow.

A weird thing did happen today. I was being careful, making sure there were no dogs or wolves, or whatever in the store. Looking around. I was up at the front where the payphones are, there was a time when people used things like payphones, these were still there from that time, and one of them rang. As soon as it did the other two there rang also. Only a little jangle. It didn’t last more than a second, but it scared the crap out of me. I thought I was dead right there. For some reason I thought the wolves had sneaked up on me. Come up behind me and were about to get me. Don’t ask me how I got wolves from a ringing phone but I did.

I calmed down after a few minutes and so I walked over and picked up the nearest receiver. Static. Scratchy static. Then it cleared for a second and, it was probably just my nerves, but I could swear I heard someone there. Maybe not heard, I don’t know if I heard anything at all, it was more like I knew someone was there: You know what I mean? Like when you get a crank call and the person doesn’t speak but you know that they are there anyway? Like that. Exactly like that. But, then it went right back to scratchy static and I felt stupid for even thinking it at all. Who could’ve been there? Who would know I was there? It was just nerves. I know it was.

After I got everything back to this building I organized it. I’ve bought back a lot of stuff. Meat, vegetables, bottled water. I have to work my way over to some of the other aisles. I need rice. Pasta. Maybe some instant potatoes. I started on that today. I got part way through the end cap, but the whole roof seems to be resting on that part of the aisle stands, and it’s the same way on the other end. That’s when I found the bodies. It was so bad I couldn’t tell what they had been.

I thought it might be better to go through the aisle dividers. They are solid steel though, and I can’t see any way through them, short of a set of torches. Maybe I could find a set, but it seems as though it would be easier to start from the checkouts and work my way through the piles of stuff until I hit another aisle. I have no idea what each aisle is though.

Yeah, I’ve been there about a thousand times, and I can tell you where the beer and chips would be, paper plates, disposable forks and spoons, but that’s about it. I’d hate to spend five hours or more of digging just to reach the toilet paper and sanitary napkins in aisle four. That would be my luck. But there’s nothing to do for it except to do it. Or go find a set of torches.

I know I need carbs. Canned meat and vegetables are good, but very low carbs. It’s funny but I need fat, things I’m burning heavy and need to replace. I have nearly constant exercise. My pants are hanging off me. Who knew it could be this easy to lose weight?

I’d also like to find supplements. A good selection of first aid stuff. Vitamins, band aids, disinfectant, things like that. I guess that’s my next little bit of time mapped out for me.

Other things I’m looking for: A wind up watch (Should work right?); an old car or truck without an electronic brain (My hope is that if it’s just a simple distributor/spark arrangement with a carburetor, I should be able to get it to work). I think electronics are shot. They don’t work that’s for sure. But I could be wrong. Maybe they will in time.

A battery powered T.V. ; maybe there will be a station on. I know it’s a long shot. Everything is digital. Do they even make battery powered digital televisions?

A C.B. or Ham radio. That would let me listen to the state, maybe the world. I should be able to reach someone. And, last; I’m going to check every phone I come across… Just in case.

It’s early but I’m tired… I wish I weren’t alone.

Katie March 10th

It’s late at night. What a difference a day makes. Conner is his name.

We went back today to see if he had been back to the store. I went there first. I hoped to catch him there early but he wasn’t there. Jake dragged his feet. Like he didn’t want to go at all. He didn’t say that but it seemed that way to me. Maybe things were just getting to me. Jake putting more and more pressure on me to be with him. Lana turning up the I hate you attitude. Maybe it’s just me, or just was me. Either way, by the time we did get there this morning the snow was melting and there was no real way to tell if he had been there at all. I thought about what I had decided yesterday, just going without Jake, but I waited.

We went back to the river and began looking along the banks on that side. I couldn’t figure where he had gone to.

I backtracked to the market up street, thinking I must have missed him, missed something anyway. On the way back I saw him crossing the end of Old Town. I practically screamed out loud but he didn’t hear me. By the time we got there he was gone.

Then the day just started to slide away. I began to think I wouldn’t find him at all. It depressed me.

It was James who smelled the smoke. All we had to do was follow the smoke and we found him. James found him. How do you follow smoke? Have you ever tried? I mean, if I could see it in the air? Sure. But I couldn’t. James knew how to follow it anyway. That man is smart.

I guess there’s a lot more that I could say about today but I’m not going to say it now. I’ll say this though, I want him. I want him and Jake knows it. It’s like Jake knew it would turn out this way. Jana knew how I felt, knew how it would be. She told me that today. She said she could see it in me last night. Like this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Lana knows as well. She’s happy about it. I saw her face when she figured it out. She looked from me to Conner and back. Then she did it again; this puzzled look on her face, and then she smiled, looked at me and nodded. I think she’s just biding her time now. I guess I am too.

Conner Davis. Conner. I think I already wrote his name. I don’t know what happens next. How to make it happen. I’m no good at that sort of thing. I’ve never done it. And my little notebook here, my only friend through all of this, along with Jana, can’t help me with that. I can write it here, look at it, but that doesn’t realize it.

I still have my father’s gun. That has also been my friend the last few days. But it can’t help me either, unless I shoot Jake. I guess that’s not funny. Jake never liked my gun. It bothered him Not ladylike? Something like that I think. Conner wasn’t shocked at all except to say he should have already gotten one and didn’t. It didn’t intimidate him in other words.

Tomorrow is March eleventh. I would have started a new life tomorrow. Maybe one I wasn’t meant to start. I feel like… I don’t know. To be honest I feel like I’m just a dumb girl pretending to be a woman, a grown up. Does nineteen know everything? No. I don’t want to pretend at this. I want to get things right. I don’t know what’s next. But does anybody?

Conner March 12th

Things have been really crazy the last few days. I’m not alone anymore. It’s funny because that’s the last thing I wrote, and two days later it’s like an answer to prayer. It happened later on the evening of the tenth. Oh, and it was the tenth. Jake has an old fashioned wind up watch. So does Katie. And they’ve both kept track. Kept them wound up too. But, in another way it isn’t the twelfth today at all because the days and nights, or the rotation of the Earth that makes the days and nights, isn’t the same at all. It’s much slower. It’s taking about twenty eight hours to cycle through. But last week it was up to almost thirty six hours. And, none of us knows why, except it slowed up and it’s now starting to get back to a normal length of time to cycle through a night and day. So, it’s not really the twelfth, and they’ve just been keeping track of the days as they pass. Same as I’ve been; except for the day I thought I’d lost.

 Anyway, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start from start; I was organizing stuff. There is a warehouse down closer to the river full of wooden pallets. I went down there a few days ago. Box upon box upon box. I have no idea what’s in them. I figured sometime I’d just open a few up and see. Maybe it would be something useful, maybe not. What’s useful now is radically different from what used to be useful.

Anyway I noticed all of the pallets. Pallets everywhere. Some full, some piled high with stuff, but a lot of empty ones; so I went back down with the sled and made a few trips back and forth to the factory so I could stack the canned stuff on them, so they’re not sitting on the floor. I was putting them in the back of the building. I was so wrapped up in stacking the canned goods that I never even heard them until Katie cleared her throat. I guess to get my attention.

It scared me bad. I thought about the gun I had never bothered to go and get, and a lot of other bad stuff. It went through my mind so fast. The first thing in my head was. The wolves got me! They Sneaked up on me! Stupid, I know. I knew it was a person, but my head still insisted wolf. It didn’t last though, and my reaction scared them as well. Lana said I had a can of peas in my hand and she was sure I was going to bean Katie in the head with them. For some reason she found it funny that I would bean someone in the head with a can of peas and she giggled. I just felt embarrassed and glad I didn’t throw the can. I set it down on the stack and took a few deep breaths instead. We all ended up laughing our asses off. Nervous energy. Release, I guess, or something like that. And then we all began to talk at once.

They had known about me for two days. They had seen that someone was going in and out of the market. They were going out to one on the north side, the other side of the river from where I was. For some reason I hadn’t thought to cross the river, they had already been on the other side to begin with, and even though the main bridges seemed too damaged to be trusted, the railroad trestle seemed solid and unharmed to them, so they crossed over on that to get to my side. I was impressed; that is an open trestle. A long way down to the water.

Because the snow on the asphalt was melting they couldn’t figure out where I was going when I left the market. They were actually going back across the river when Katie happened to look over her shoulder toward the opposite bank and happened to catch me going into the factory. She had thought to yell, but over the sound of the rapids she couldn’t get anyone around her to hear her, let alone me.

Once they were across she talked to Jake, Jake pretty much was their leader (I don’t know if I like that. Do we need leaders?), and they decided to come back the next day, which was two days ago, and see if they could find me. They didn’t know about the . Katie had thought I was just climbing the rock above the river. They searched along the back of the Old Town, or what’s left of it, and down towards the strip. If they had come back down one more road towards the river, they would’ve found this old factory then. Maybe they hadn’t realized there was a road there at all; so they just followed the path of the river thinking I was living in

one of the fallen down buildings closer along the banks of the river itself.

They had seen me from quite a way off crossing the square as they were heading back. It looked to them like I was heading for the north side, maybe crossing one of the bridges, but by the time they got there I was gone. They even began to wonder if I had seen them and hidden on purpose. Maybe out of fear. They had searched for awhile and then, just when they had been about to quit for the day, James realized that he could smell smoke. As soon as he said it, everyone else realized they had smelled it all along as well. After that it didn’t take long to find the old factory. They just followed the smell of smoke down to the lower road and found me.

So that was that and now we are six. Jake, Jake Light, he was their leader as I said. He’s an older guy. In his late thirties. Used to be a truck driver.

Katie Lee (don’t call her Honey. I don’t know why). She’s nineteen and was visiting her grandparents. She was from New York. I thought she was with Jake. I think Jake thought so as well.

James and Jana Adams. James is a little older than Jana. In his fifties, and he said he is a mechanic. Jana does, did, data processing. And Lana. Her real name is Marcia Santos. Lana is her middle name. She said she always liked Lana better. She was still in school, local college. I guess she’s the same age as Katie, nineteen. And last, but not least, me.

We spent all of yesterday getting their stuff from across the river and bringing it over to the factory. I thought that was weird. Why go get stuff anyway? You can have anything you want. It’s all free. But in another way I guess I understand. We’ve lost everything. We want to hang on to what little we still do have. We’re all going to stay here. And we talked about what’s next, and what we know about what happened.

I said I had been kind of planning to leave once spring came. Head south or west. Somewhere where I wouldn’t have to worry about winter. Jake said it may be that where it would normally have been warmer it won’t be any more. He said it depends on what happened. None of us really know. He thinks it might be smarter to stay here. We could stock up this building. We could even hunt. He said he’s sure there are deer around. James agreed with him, at least on there being Deer around.

I told them about the footprints by my house. They said they had seen footprints also. They had gone out toward the strip and seen the tracks of three or four people going in and out of a small store in a strip mall out there. They had called out, but no one had answered. They had had second thoughts about calling out as well. They weren’t armed. What if someone shot at them?

That bought my original thoughts to mind about a weapon. I mentioned the sporting goods store and we all agreed to make a trip out there soon.

We talked about cars and trucks and agreed it would be good to get an SUV or truck of some kind if we could find one that will run, as they might be the only vehicles that could drive around as bad as things are torn up. They have also tried starting a few vehicles with no success. I mentioned my electronic brain idea, and Jake said he had thought of the same thing. Turns out he’s also a mechanic. I guess I can see why they chose him to lead. I feel kind of useless around the guy though. We agreed to try finding an older vehicle. Jake thinks our chances of getting one running are good. We’ll see what we can find.

The first night together was good. The best I’ve slept since this thing started. Just not being alone, you know? I guess I’ll end on that note…


ATD: STORIES


America The Dead: Survivor Stories One

W.G. Sweet

The leg of the jeans he had been wearing was a tattered wreck. Blood and gore streaked his pants to his boot top. He needed clothes. His shirt stank, and was stuck to him with sweat, but he was alive…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-one/id1436765995?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Two

W. G. Sweet

John watched as Bear helped the girls move their sleeping bags and packs over to a clear space on the factory floor, she wouldn’t get a second chance with him… https://books.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-two/id1156649961


America The Dead Survivor Stories Three

W. G. Sweet

Billy paced the hallway, trying to think, telling himself they had to leave soon. There were fires over past the park; you could hear gunfire from all over the city all night long. The police? Gone… 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-three/id1156638728?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Four

W. G. Sweet

Classified for the next hundred years or so, and he wondered: Would it ever be released? He doubted it. The shit they were doing here was stuff you didn’t ever want the American public to know about… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-four/id1156637747?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Five

W. G. Sweet 

We walked out State Street. There’s a store there, and we found tracks in the snow. One person. A man I would guess from the boot tread. I can’t tell you how good it was to see evidence of other people. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-five/id1157353753?mt=11

America the Dead Free Read 2

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..


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


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.


ATD: STORIES


America The Dead: Survivor Stories One

W.G. Sweet

The leg of the jeans he had been wearing was a tattered wreck. Blood and gore streaked his pants to his boot top. He needed clothes. His shirt stank, and was stuck to him with sweat, but he was alive…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-one/id1436765995?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Two

W. G. Sweet

John watched as Bear helped the girls move their sleeping bags and packs over to a clear space on the factory floor, she wouldn’t get a second chance with him… https://books.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-two/id1156649961


America The Dead Survivor Stories Three

W. G. Sweet

Billy paced the hallway, trying to think, telling himself they had to leave soon. There were fires over past the park; you could hear gunfire from all over the city all night long. The police? Gone… 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-three/id1156638728?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Four

W. G. Sweet

Paragraph

Classified for the next hundred years or so, and he wondered: Would it ever be released? He doubted it. The shit they were doing here was stuff you didn’t ever want the American public to know about… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-four/id1156637747?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Five

W. G. Sweet 

We walked out State Street. There’s a store there, and we found tracks in the snow. One person. A man I would guess from the boot tread. I can’t tell you how good it was to see evidence of other people. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-five/id1157353753?mt=11


America The Dead Free Read 1

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..


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


CHAPTER ONE

June 1st

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

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

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

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

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

Mason! Mason!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think… I think…” Madison tried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Emma… What are you doing… Emma.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A bit,” she agreed.

I stood for a second not knowing what to say.

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

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


ATD: STORIES


America The Dead: Survivor Stories One

W.G. Sweet

The leg of the jeans he had been wearing was a tattered wreck. Blood and gore streaked his pants to his boot top. He needed clothes. His shirt stank, and was stuck to him with sweat, but he was alive…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-one/id1436765995?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Two

W. G. Sweet

John watched as Bear helped the girls move their sleeping bags and packs over to a clear space on the factory floor, she wouldn’t get a second chance with him… https://books.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-two/id1156649961


America The Dead Survivor Stories Three

W. G. Sweet

Billy paced the hallway, trying to think, telling himself they had to leave soon. There were fires over past the park; you could hear gunfire from all over the city all night long. The police? Gone… 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-three/id1156638728?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Four

W. G. Sweet

Classified for the next hundred years or so, and he wondered: Would it ever be released? He doubted it. The shit they were doing here was stuff you didn’t ever want the American public to know about… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-four/id1156637747?mt=11


America The Dead Survivor Stories Five

W. G. Sweet 

We walked out State Street. There’s a store there, and we found tracks in the snow. One person. A man I would guess from the boot tread. I can’t tell you how good it was to see evidence of other people. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-five/id1157353753?mt=11


Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes

Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes

Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes continues to follow the survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The small groups are growing, branching out in search of a new future. It chronicles their day to day struggles as well as their dreams as they search out new hope in their shattered world… Less
The end has come for most of the world’s population. Small groups of survivors are picking up the pieces… Learning to live again…
When the sun began to peek over the top of the ridge on the opposite shore of the Black river, everyone filed out to the two remaining trucks. It had been decided that Mike and Jan would stay behind while the others went in search of the stolen truck. They switched on and tested two sets of F.M. radios.
“The range is normally only about two miles or so, but it’s not like there’s anything to interfere with them anymore,” Tom said. “We’ll take three with us, and you keep the other here to monitor us, or if they come back here,” Tom finished.
“Do you think that’s a possibility?” Janet Dove asked.
“I doubt it, Dear,” Bob told her with a reassuring smile. “It’s just to be safe.”
Mike walked over to Candace. Her eyes met his. He kissed her softly, and her arms slipped around him.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered, “I’ll be careful. And I’ll make sure they’re careful.” She kissed him and pulled back.
Mike stared at the face of the two way radio for a long second and then watched her get into the Suburban. Bob got into the front seat with her. Her eyes met his once more, and she smiled reassuringly, then started the Suburban and fell in behind Tom as he drove the big State truck out across the pavement.
Mike and Janet stood quietly as the two trucks drove away. Neither of them wanted to go back inside the cave. The sun was up and warming the old asphalt of the road where it passed in front of the cave, and what little snow remained was already beginning to melt.
“Left here,” The radio squawked. It sounded like Lydia.
“Behind you,” came an answer that sounded like Bob.
Mike shifted the 30-30 Deer rifle he held in one hand and thumbed off the strap that held his Nine Millimeter in his web holster. Janet Dove grimaced and then thumbed the safety off the shotgun she was holding. A short clip protruded from the base of the shotgun, just forward of the trigger. She had two more clips in a small pouch on her side, as well as a fully loaded Three Eighty in a tooled leather side holster she wore.
What must we look like, Mike thought. Aloud he said, “They’ll be fine.”
“Really?” Janet Dove asked. “I truly hope so. I truly do.”
~
The next twenty minutes went by slowly. Occasional squawks of directions came from the radio, and in the distance the sound of both trucks could still be heard. The silence broke all at once.
The radio squealed in Mike’s hand. One word jumped clearly from the static… “Jesus!”… Mike couldn’t tell from whom. A crashing sound accompanied it, and in the far distance gunfire erupted in the still, previously quiet morning air.
The squeal from the radio abruptly cut off and it fell back to low static. In the distance the sound of gunfire continued for what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably no more than thirty or forty seconds in reality. Mike keyed the radio, “Candace,” he screamed. “Candace?”
Gunfire broke out again in the distance. The fast… POP, POP, POP of semi automatic gunfire, but the sharp crack of a heavy rifle too. No answer came back over the radio. Janet Dove made a small strangled sound in the back of her throat and a low sob slipped from her mouth. “No, God, no,” she whispered.



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Settlement Earth series

EARTH’S SURVIVORS: SETTLEMENT EARTH BOOK ONE

Copyright 2009 W. W. Watson all rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.


This preview is licensed for this blog. If you would like others to read it please point them to this page. Scroll to the bottom of the preview for links to currently available titles…


ONE

High summer: Plague year one

Base Ostega

Northern Canada

1:00 am

The first quake had been minor, the last few had not. The big one was coming. The satellite links were down, but Doctor Alan Weber didn’t need to have a satellite link up to know that. He touched one hand to his head, the fingertips came away bloody. In any other circumstances he would be hurrying to get his head wound taken care of, but these were not just any circumstances. The entire world was ending and it was a miracle to him that he had made it through the complex above and down into the control room of the facility before it had been supposed to automatically lock down. His office was a shamble, but his secretary had met him in the hallway having ridden out the quakes in the supply room, between the tall rows of steel cabinets: Together they had made their way to the office.

All main-line Comm links were down, probably because of the loss of the satellite systems. Underground back-up cable Comm: Down. The facility was in bad shape, and he was not kidding himself, there was no help on the way. No hope of reaching the surface and the worst was not yet here. He was probably lucky to have made it down the six floors to his office from where he had been. There was an automatic lock-down program that would shut down the entire facility within seconds of an attack or catastrophic event, it had failed somehow.

He laughed to himself, he had, had to lock it down manually once he had made his way in or else it would still be open to the world. He had blown up the two main entrances to the facility, sealing his own fate as he sealed it off from the world above.

He had spent the last several years here in the Canadian wilderness running the chemical countermeasure unit at the base. He had worked on a top secret virus designed to prolong human life in cases of extreme deprivation: Nuclear attack, war and other unlikely scenarios. He had spent the last two weeks working up to this event from his subterranean office complex. All wreckage now. Still, he had sent operatives out from here three days ago to do what they could to seed the virus: Following his final orders sent down through some now probably non-existent chain of command. He had heard absolutely nothing since, and believed that was because there was no one left in command any longer.

The virus was so secretive that no one beyond the base knew the true nature of it. Even the politicians that passed bills for funding while looking the other way had not truly known what they were funding. A couple of well placed dollars in the pocket could buy a great deal of silence.

Several Army bases had secretly been infected and studied. The commanders of the armed forces had, had no idea that anything was being tested on their men. The troops had done well, surviving their training with little food and water much better than they usually did, but over the next week nearly every bird in the area had died. Some side effect they had not been able to ferret out.

That virus build had also been crippled. It had a built in self destruct mechanism to kill the virus after a short amount of time. In fact that same version had been kept as an antidote for the newest version which had no such mechanism and would go on reinfecting indefinitely.

The entire virus design and its capabilities were top secret. Top secret. And usually Top Secret meant dozens of people knew, but this time it had meant that it really had been Top Secret. Withheld from the public, and even those in charge for years had known nothing of the true nature of the virus.

Last week had changed it all. Last week the news had come down from the finest scientific minds that an extinction event was about to take place. Up to ninety percent of the world population would likely be killed off as events unfolded. It was not a maybe, it was an absolute.

The public knew that there was a meteor on a near collision course with the Earth. They had paid off the best scientists to assure the public it would miss by several thousand miles. A lie, but they had found that even scientists were willing to look past facts if their own personal spin put a better story in the mix. A survivable story, and so some had spun their own stories without prodding. From there the internet had picked it up and run with it. From there the conspiracy theorists, and by the end of the week the meteor was survivable. The story that the meteor would destroy the planet was now a lie made up by commanders of the rebel alliance in the Middle East to take the focus off their actions, the public believed what it wanted to believe.

The truth was that the meteor might miss, barely, a near miss, but it wouldn’t matter because it would contribute to a natural chain of events that would make a meteor impact look like small change.

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

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

The bare facts were that the Yellowstone Caldera had erupted just a few hours before. The bare facts were that the earth quakes had begun all around the world, and although they were not so bad here at the northern tip of Canada, in other areas of the world, in the lower states, in foreign countries, third world countries, the bare facts of what was occurring were devastating: Millions dead, millions more would die before it was over, and this was nothing new. The government had evidence that this same event had happened many times in Earth’s history. This was nothing new at all, not even new to the human race. A similar event had killed off most of the human race some seventy-five thousand years before. The space race had been all about this knowledge. A rush to get off the planet and settle elsewhere on an older, more sedate planet before something that had already happened time and again happened once more.

The virus was an answer, help, solution, but Alan Weber was unsure how well the solution would work. It was, like everything else, a stop gap measure, and probably too little too late. And it was definitely flawed, but he had temporarily pushed that knowledge away in his mind. Even now as he sat and waited for the end, which would surely come, out in the world operatives were disbursing the virus that could save humanity.

He thought for a moment, “Or destroy humanity,” he added aloud.

There were no guarantees, and there was strong evidence to suggest the designer virus did its job a little too well. Designed to help prolong life, there were rumors that it could raise the dead. Some scientists who had worked with the virus in the now destroyed facility had nicknamed it Lazarus.

Alan had seen evidence to support the rumors that it could raise the dead, or the near dead for that matter. He had been present when a test subject that had been pronounced dead had come back. Weak, half crazy, but alive again.

As the hours and then days passed the subject had become stronger, seemed to be learning from the situation it was in. The decision had been made to kill it: Even that had been difficult to do. Even so, he knew that it was the only hope for society. There was nothing else. The military machine was dead. The American government was dead. The president, from reports he had read, assassinated by her own guards.

While most of America had tracked the meteorite that was supposed to miss earth from their living rooms, and had been side tracked by all the trouble in the Middle East, he had kept track of the real events that had even then been building beneath the Yellowstone caldera and many other places worldwide.

Yesterday the end had begun, and the end had come quickly. Satellites off line. Phone networks down. Power grids failed. Governments incommunicado or just gone. The Internet, down. The Meteorite had not missed Earth by much after all, and the gravitational pull from its mass had simply accelerated an already bad situation.

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

In the small military base of Ostega that had rested above the defense facility near the shore of a former lake, the river waters that fed it had begun to rise: The chemical countermeasure unit, several levels below the base in the limestone cave structures that honeycombed the entire area, had begun to succumb to the rising river waters. By the time the surviving soldiers from above had splashed through the tunnels and into the underground facility, they had been walking through better than two feet of cold and muddy water. Shortly after that the pressure from the water had begun to collapse small sections of caves and tunnels below the base that fed the unit: That damage had been helped along by small after-shocks.

Alan Weber watched his monitor as a wall gave way and the main tunnel began to flood. It was only a matter of an hour at the most before the water found its way to him. He sighed and then relaxed back into his chair, reached down and pulled the lower file drawer open, and lifted out a partial bottle of scotch. He leaned forward and Bobbi Trevers cleared her throat in the silent observation room. Weber smiled and turned toward her.

“I suppose you have been watching, Bobbi?”

She only nodded.

He nodded back. “Share a drink with me?” He turned away, not waiting for her words of agreement. He heard her settle into a chair next to him as he pulled two plastic cups from the sleeve in the bottom drawer, left over from the Christmas party last year, and began to pour.

“I don’t usually agree to drinking on the job, but this is a different set of circumstances, isn’t it?” His eyes met her own as she nodded weakly.

“It’s almost over, isn’t it Doctor Weber?”

“I’m afraid so… Call me Alan, Bobbi… Is it okay that I call you Bobbi?” He finished pouring the scotch into the plastic cup. He had stopped at just an inch in the bottom, wondered why and then filled the cup half way instead.

North America

Far above the Earth, satellites continued to orbit importantly.

The north American continent lay sleeping far below. A wide inland sea had formed in the middle, fed by a huge river that stretched from the former Hudson bay to the middle of the continent. Small in places and easily crossed, no more than a river: Wide in other places as if it truly were a sea.

The state of Alabama had been divided in two along with most of the lower half of the former state of Florida. What resulted was the loss of the lower, southern half of the state. What remained now sat nearly forty miles out in a shallow bay that was quickly turning to sea: An island, the water surrounding it growing deeper as time moved on and the gulf reclaimed the land.

The upper north eastern section of the continent had already pulled apart and begun to drift. Although it was imperceptible, the two land masses were inching away from one another, and ultimately would be separated by a new ocean. And become separate, smaller continents.

The eastern end of the former United States, was also drifting away from the northern section of Canada. The massive earthquakes had also severed the state of Michigan, turning it into a virtual island.

Toward what had been the north, the St. Lawrence river basin had widened, pushing the land masses further apart. The Thousand Islands bridge spans had toppled, and slipped into the cold waters. The other bridges that had once spanned the mighty river had also succumbed as the river basin had split and pulled apart.

The new continent had severed her ties from Nova Scotia, as she had been pulled south and slightly east, to begin her journey. Only the province of New Brunswick, and a small portion of Quebec remained with the continent. The rest of Canada was severed from them by the wide and deep river, more like a huge lake in places, that surged from ocean to ocean.

Most of the north American continent was now in a sub-tropical climate as well. The poles had been displaced by the huge force of the multiple earthquakes and volcanic blasts which were still ongoing. The old polar caps were melting, and it would be thousands of years before they would once again re-form in their new locations.

The run-off from the melting ice would eventually reach the oceans and even more land mass would be sacrificed to the waves before the polar caps would be re-formed.

There were only thirteen full states left on the small continent. The two former provinces of Canada, one of which was only a small fragment. And parts of five former states, the largest being Florida.

Before the dawn, fires could be seen burning unchecked in many major cities, pushed with the help of freak winds the flames continued in all directions, occasionally fueled by chemical, and oil facilities, as well as numerous other flammable sources they encountered. The world began its fall.

New York

Johnny: October 29th

I am here in this farm house that Lana and I found a few weeks back. By myself. Lana is gone. I sat down here to write this story out before I am gone too. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but it isn’t. I know exactly what my situation is.

We have been to Manhattan, outside of it, you can’t go in any longer, and we came from Los Angeles, so we know: It’s all gone, destroyed, there’s nothing left. Time to hold on to what is left for you. I had Lana… That was my something that was still left to me, but she’s gone now…

Lana… I knew they’d find out, Hell, they probably knew immediately in that slow purposeful way that things come to them. I can hear them out there ripping and tearing… They know. Yeah, they know, I know it as well as I know my name, John, Johnny Mother used to say. I… I get so goddamned distracted…. It’s working at me…

Bastards! If, only I could have… But it’s no good crying about it or wishing I had done this thing or that thing. I didn’t. I didn’t and I can’t go back and undo any of this, let alone the parts I did.

In August when the sun was so hot and the birds suddenly disappeared, and Lana came around for what was nearly the last time I hadn’t known a thing about this. Nothing. It’s late fall now and I know too much. Enough to wish it were August once again and I was living in ignorant bliss once more.

Lana: I didn’t want to do it. I told myself I would not do it and then I did it. Not bury her, that had to be done; I mean kill her. I told myself I wouldn’t kill her, and that’s a joke really. Really it is, because how do you kill something that is already dead?  No, I told myself that I wouldn’t cut her head off, put her in the ground upside down, drive a stake through her dead heart. Those are the things I told myself I wouldn’t do, couldn’t do, but I did them as best I could. I pushed the other things I thought; felt compelled to do, aside and did what I could for her.

The trouble is, did I do it right? It’s not like I have a goddamn manual to tell me how to do it. Does anybody? I doubt it, but I would say that it’s a safe bet that there are dozens of people in the world right now, people who have managed to stay alive, that could write that manual. I just don’t know them… I wish I did. And it won’t matter to me anyway. It’s a little too late, but I’ll write this anyway and maybe it can be a manual for someone else… You…

So the books say take their heads off. The books also say, for Vampires, put a stake in their heart, and older legends say turn them around, upside down in the grave. Isn’t a vampire a kind of Zombie? Isn’t it? Probably not exactly, precisely, but could it hurt to have done the stake thing just in case? To be sure? To put her at rest? I don’t think so.

They can come out during the daylight, you know. I thought they wouldn’t be able to. Every goddamn movie I ever saw, starting with the Night Of The Living Dead said they couldn’t. You could get some relief. You could get some shit done. And you could if it were true, but it’s not. They rarely come out in the daylight, that’s the truth. It’s hard for them, tough somehow, but they can. It won’t kill them. They aren’t weaker than they are at night. They just don’t like the daylight. They don’t like it. And don’t you think writing that made me a little paranoid? Thinking it over once more? It did. I got up and checked the windows. Nothing I can see, but they’re out there. They’re right out there in the barn. Sleeping in the sweet hay up in the haymow. I know it, so it doesn’t matter whether I can see them. I can hear them and I know where the rest of them are. And I know they know what I did and they’ll come tonight. They’ll come tonight because I’m afraid of the night. Not them, me.  And they goddamn well know it! They know it! They think. They see. Did you think they were stupid? Blind? Running on empty? Well you’re the fool then. Listen to me, they’re not. They’re not and thinking they are will get you dead quick. And what about me? How will I feel tonight? What will I think about it then?

Zombies: I thought Haiti, horror flicks…? What else is there? Dead people come back to life, or raised from the dead to be made into slaves. Those are the two things I knew and nothing else. Well, it’s wrong, completely wrong. No, I can’t tell you how they come to be Zombies initially, but I can tell you that the bite of a Zombie will make you a Zombie. The movies got that much right.

I can’t tell you why they haunt the fields across from this house. Why they have taken up residence in the old barn, but I can tell you that it might be you they come for next and if they do you goddamn well better realize that everything you thought you knew is bullshit. See, Lana didn’t believe it and look what happened to her! Lana… Lana: I know, I know I didn’t tell you about her, but I will. That’s the whole point of writing this down before they get me too.

See, in a little while I’m thinking I might just walk out the kitchen door and right out to the barn. I’ll leave this here on the kitchen table. For you, whoever you are, who happened along into this kitchen.

Goddamn Zombies. Ever lovin’ Bastards! …

I am losing control, I know I am, but…

Anyway, it was August. Hot. Hotter they said than it had been in recorded time. I was not here in this kitchen in rural New York someplace, I was in L.A., outside the city up in the hills, a little farm. There was no wind. No rain. Seemed like no air to breath. Global Warming they said. Maybe… Changes coming, they said. Oh yeah, changes were coming. Changes right there on that wind, probably…

It was on a Tuesday. I went to get the mail and there were six or seven dead crows by the box. I thought, Those goddamn Clark boys have been shooting their B.B guns again! So I resolved to call old man Clark and give him a piece of my mind, except I forgot. That happens to all of us: It’s not unusual. I remembered about four o’clock the next morning when I got up. Well, I told myself, Mail comes at ten, I’ll get that and then I’ll call up and have that talk…


Get the books or read more…

W. Watson & Lindsey Rivers



Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book One by W. W. Watson The first quake had been minor, the last few had not. The big one was coming, but Doctor Alan Weber didn’t need to have a satellite link up to know that.

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Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book Two by W. W. Watson The cop took Ben’s gun and dropped it into the blue duffel bag. He took Ed’s bundle of cash when he searched him, whistling as he did…

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Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book Three by W. W. Watson Most days he didn’t think of his old life, but when he did it wasn’t with regrets. The hardest thing of all had been shooting Nikki…

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W. W. Watson & Lindsey Rivers: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22W%20W%20Watson%20Lindsey%20Rivers%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+



 

Settlement Earth series

Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth By W W Watson Lindsey Rivers

The end has come. In an effort to help, the government has destroyed most of humanity. The few survivors are on their own… Looking for others… Trying to avoid the dead… Free Previews… https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/7285


Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book1:

“It will kill you well enough,” Alice said as if reading his thoughts. “It’s a bad world. You need another shooter. Who knows what you’re going to run into.” She met Johnny’s eyes… #Crime https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360313


Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book Two The air lock cycled on and six soldiers stepped into the airlock. Johns tensed, waiting for the door to their space to cycle on, but it didn’t. “You think they will outright kill us,” Kohlson asked? …  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360317


Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book Three A thin line of blood ran away from the wrist that had been encircled by the tie. Whether from the sharp metal she had used to escape the zip-tie, or the zip-tie itself she could not tell… #ApocalypticFiction https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360319



 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein By Mary Shelley

This eBook of “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley belongs to the public domain.

Edited by Dell Sweet 2018

Cover design and artwork © 2018 Dell Sweet


Letter 1

TO Mrs. Saville, England

St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17-

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight. There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its broad disk just skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour. There–for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust in preceding navigators–there snow and frost are banished; and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions and features may be without example, as the phenomena of the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle and may regulate a thousand celestial observations that require only this voyage to render their seeming eccentricities consistent forever. I shall satiate my ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death and to induce me to commence this laborious voyage with the joy a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river. But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected by an undertaking such as mine.

These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose–a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years. I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas’ library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning that my father’s dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to allow me to embark in a seafaring life.

These visions faded when I perused, for the first time, those poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted it to heaven. I also became a poet and for one year lived in a paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted with my failure and how heavily I bore the disappointment. But just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier bent.

Six years have passed since I resolved on my present undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep; I often worked harder than the common sailors during the day and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to admiration. I must own I felt a little proud when my captain offered me the second dignity in the vessel and entreated me to remain with the greatest earnestness, so valuable did he consider my services. And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging voice would answer in the affirmative! My courage and my resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits are often depressed. I am about to proceed on a long and difficult voyage, the emergencies of which will demand all my fortitude: I am required not only to raise the spirits of others, but sometimes to sustain my own, when theirs are failing.

This is the most favourable period for travelling in Russia. They fly quickly over the snow in their sledges; the motion is pleasant, and, in my opinion, far more agreeable than that of an English stagecoach. The cold is not excessive, if you are wrapped in furs–a dress which I have already adopted, for there is a great difference between walking the deck and remaining seated motionless for hours, when no exercise prevents the blood from actually freezing in your veins. I have no ambition to lose my life on the post-road between St. Petersburgh and Archangel. I shall depart for the latter town in a fortnight or three weeks; and my intention is to hire a ship there, which can easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and to engage as many sailors as I think necessary among those who are accustomed to the whale-fishing. I do not intend to sail until the month of June; and when shall I return? Ah, dear sister, how can I answer this question? If I succeed, many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before you and I may meet. If I fail, you will see me again soon, or never. Farewell, my dear, excellent Margaret. Heaven shower down blessings on you, and save me, that I may again and again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness.

Your affectionate brother, R. Walton …



Earth’s Survivors preview from Dell Sweet

Earth’s Survivors preview from Dell Sweet

EARTH’S SURVIVORS: APOCALYPSE

PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet

Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse is © Copyright 2014 Wendell Sweet, all rights reserved.

Blog Edition: Copyright 2018 -4-19 Dell Sweet and Andrea Scroggs

Additional Copyrights © 2010 – 2012, 2014, 2015 by Wendell Sweet, All rights reserved

This excerpt is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This excerpt may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this excerpt with another person, please point them to this blog. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Foreword

Here is the story the way I wrote it and the only way that it should be…

Dell Sweet: January 28th 2015


EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S: APOCALYPSE


ONE

March 1st 12:06 am.

L.A.

Billy Jingo

Billy knocked back the tequila, and waved off Beth as she motioned to the back bar for another. She came over smiling.

“A man that knows when to quit. I like that,” Beth said.

Billy laughed. “A recently acquired habit, I assure you. Shit will bite you if you don’t set your limits,” He smiled at her, hesitated, and then spoke again. “So, it’s almost over for tonight… Thought you would be dancing?” He raised his voice at the end to make it into a question. He knew it was what she wanted. He had seen her dance, there wasn’t a dancer in the place that could hang with her. She was it, except something wasn’t clicking between her and Tommy, or maybe it went all the way up the ladder to Junior Vitaglio. Whatever it was, Billy was curious about it.

“Curiosity killed the cat,” Beth said with a wide smile, as if reading his thoughts.

“Damn,” Billy said. “It’s as if…”

“I read your thoughts?” She laughed. It’s been written all over your face since you came in. I saw you looking at the stage, back at me, back to the stage. It’s not hard to figure it out.”

“Hey, it’s not like I’m some pervert, Beth. I just think you are way to good for…”

“If you say it I’ll smack you stupid,” Beth told him. Her eyes were slitted, narrowed, and focused. Her right hand had doubled into a fist. Billy had no doubt she meant what she said.

“Peace,” Billy said.

“Not that it really matters,” Beth said with a sigh. “Tommy knows, and that means Junior knows, and they don’t care… I thought maybe it was my time on the streets, but that’s not it. I’d feel for the lame ass that came in here if I was dancing, and had anything to say about my time on the streets. He’d find himself bounced fast… No, that isn’t it… We’ve all been there… At least the interesting ones.”

Billy nodded. “So what is it?”

Beth shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’m hoping Junior will be around later on and I…”

“Hey, Baby, what the fuck with the drink?” A big guy, belly straining at the buttons of his shirt. He smiled, but the smile was no more than a rough semblance of a smile.  Billy tried to burn him with his eyes, but Beth reached nearly into his face and said. “So you’re done here?”

Her eyes said don’t, he didn’t, but he would have liked to say something to the guy. Instead, he nodded a yes and picked up the change she had laid on the bar. She was talking to the fat guy before he got his change in his pocket.

“See that big guy over by the door,” she asked nicely.

Billy watched the fat guy turn to the door and then back to Beth. “Yeah?” There was a sarcastic edge to his voice that made Billy slow down. He wanted to see the outcome.

Jon, the big guy on the door had that bouncer sixth sense, and looked over at Beth and shrugged as if to ask if there was a problem. She rolled her eyes, and Jon left the door and headed for the bar.

“I told you no more,” Beth told the guy.

“And I said I don’t take no orders from no bitch,” The fat guy said. He puffed up, but a line of sweat trickled from under his too black hair, streaking his forehead with whatever he had sprayed on his hair to get the color. He swiped at it angrily, and began to bluster a little more when Jon’s heavy hand fell on his shoulder.

“And I missed my workout today,” Jon told him as he easily spun him around. “unless you’re it?” Jon finished.

“This is a private matter,” The fat guy told him, but there was a quiver in his voice that Billy heard clearly.

“Tried to grab Jill’s breast when she went past him. Jill laughed it off, said he’d been a perfect gentleman all the rest of the night. I said cool, a little mess up, he’s had too much to drink, and so I cut him off.”

Gentleman was a code word for a creep that had been hanging around getting way too friendly with the dancers.

“That so,” Jon asked. He had stepped back to give himself some room just in case things took a physical turn.

The guy noted the movement, set his empty glass on the bar and put his hands in front of him, palms up. “No interest in trouble at all,” he told Jon.

Jon nodded at the door. “Time to go home and sleep it off, I think,” Jon told him.

Billy watched the guy walk to the door and leave. He looked back to see Jon and Beth looking at him.

“You know, this guy is becoming a pain in the ass,” Beth told Jon.

“Ha, ha,” Billy said.

“Beat it, Jingo. Leave the honey alone. It’s off limits. In other words you ain’t getting none of it.” Billy watched a cloud come over Beth just that fast. She had been teasing, Jon probably knew that, but Jon had a thing for her and he hated Billy who sometimes did small things for Junior. He didn’t wait for Billy to leave, but headed back to the door, opened it quickly, and looked out into the lot.

“Probably making sure the guy ain’t fucking up his car,” Billy said under his breath.

“Sorry, Billy. I keep forgetting Jon isn’t human,” Beth told him. That made Billy laugh.

“Anyway, I’ll see you around. I’ll be late tonight.”

Billy nodded. “Good luck, Beth.” He turned and walked to the door at the other end of the club. The one that let out onto the front sidewalk.

~

The night was beautiful, Billy thought, as he walked along Beechwood Avenue. He knew pretty much everyone he passed. He had been here for a little over six months after making his way up from Mexico when things had gone bad for him there. Technically he was on the run. Warrants out of New York. Somebody had put two and two together and dug up some prints from a crime Billy had been involved with. He had only found out about it because he had happened to be away from the house when the Feds showed up. His neck of the woods had no municipal police, but even if it had they wouldn’t have come with shotguns and armor.

He had hid out for three days until the word had trickled down to him that it was him they were looking for to hand over to some federal agents from the U.S. It hadn’t taken much to put two and two together. He had managed to get a beat up old Ford pickup truck, and then he filled a fifty five gallon drum full of gasoline that was strapped into the bed of the truck: He set off into the desert.

The rest had been easier. Despite the laws and the changes in the U.S. it was pretty easy to disappear here. He had come with a little money, and that had helped. He had worked a series of meaningless jobs as he worked his way up the west coast. L.A. had looked good and so it had held him; that and he had met Beth.

Beth had been working the streets, but she was out of reach and he knew it. Even so, that didn’t stop the fact that he wanted her to be in reach. He had never met a woman like her. So he had stayed.  He had seen something in her. Something hard, some will he himself had that was hard to define, but that hardness in her pulled him to her like a magnet. It was that simple.

He had been working for Junior by then, and so he had mentioned Beth to him. He didn’t know how the details had worked out, but a few weeks later when he had noticed she had disappeared from the avenue, he had found her working at Junior’s Palace.

As he walked he became immune to the world around him. He never heard Jon until he was on him, had spun him around, and dragged him into an alley.

Hey… Hey! Jon… What the fuck, Jon… Hey!” but it did no good. The first punch nearly shut him down. The second did. The rest he never knew about.

L.A.: 2:00 am.

Beth

The night wore on. The morning came and went and the club shut down for another day. Beth worked at cleaning up the last little area of the bar as two of the dancers finished their drinks and hushed conversations, smiled at her, and walked away. A short conversation with Jon, he had probably made some crude remark; Beth had seen how both of them had instantly stiffened their backs after he spoke. It wasn’t just her, Jon was an actual creep. Whatever he had said the two girls chose to ignore it, turning away, making eye contact with Beth, waving as if they had been at the bar talking to her, and when Jon looked back to see who they had been waving at they slipped out the door. Jon made his way over to the bar.

“You scared my honeys away,” he told her.

“I think you can do that all on your own,” Beth told him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jon asked.

Beth frowned and shook her head. Sometimes she wondered if Jon even knew what a creep he was. How he made the girls who worked here, her included, feel. “It means that not everyone is always on the same page,” Beth said. She had changed her mind at the last second. She had to work here. Jon was the nephew of the owner. Creep or not he was part of the package.

Jon looked confused.

“Jon, Jon, it means that sometimes you just have to let things happen. Go slow. A girl wants to think it was her own idea to like you,” she told him.

“Yeah… I can see that, but when you need it you need it. Some of these bitches need to be on point.” One finger disappeared into his nose and then he seemed to suddenly remember she was there. “You know, me and you need to hook up. I got …” One massive hand settled onto his shoulder, and he stopped in mid sentence.

“Disappear, Jon, Jon. I need to talk to Beth right now,” Tommy told him as he sat down on one of the stools.

‘We was just talking, uncle Tommy.”

“Right, and now you’re done talking… Unless you’re not? Am I interrupting you?”

Jon turned beet red. He laughed to hide the embarrassment. “No… No,” he turned and walked away.

Tommy turned to Beth. “I guess you’ll have to get used to the kid. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s my pain in the ass… Load to bear,” He turned and watched Jon step out the door to the parking lot. “Jon, Jon,” Tommy yelled. Jon poked his head back in the door and looked at his uncle. “Take a good look around out there, make sure the lot’s empty, and the girls all got to their cars okay.”

“Okay, uncle Tommy,” Jon called back. The dopey smile that he usually wore settled back on his face as he stepped out into the darkness. Tommy turned back to Beth.

‘Billy Jingo,” he said.

Beth looked at him.

“I think that kid is bad news for you… Not telling you how you should live your life, just distributing advice… A girl like you, a dancer, don’t need a distraction like that. The customers don’t want to see no boyfriend hanging around. Spoils the fantasy.” He held her stare.

“It’s not like that, Tommy. “Billy is a friend only… Lives in the same building.” She had caught the fact that he had said she was a dancer. Something she wasn’t yet, unless…

“Uh huh, but he wants you. The kid is like a love sick puppy. If you could step back and look at it you would see it clearly. Are you telling me you are smart enough to handle Jon Jon, and you can’t see this Jingo kid has it bad for you?”

Beth shrugged. “No… I know… I know that, but he knows it isn’t going to happen. He knows what the deal is.”

“Good… That’s all I’m saying, but you need to tell him to stay away… Can’t be hanging around while you’re working… See?”

Beth nodded. “I see.”

“Good, cause next week you start as a dancer. I know you…” He stopped as Beth lunged across the bar and hugged him, squealing as she did. He hugged her back, laughing.

She kissed his cheek, and then her smile went away a little as one of his hands cupped the side of her breast. Her eyes focused on his. “I think we’ll become good friends, Baby,” he told her. She nodded as his hand roamed a little further, and then trailed away across the flat plains of her stomach. She pulled back. Tommy wore a crooked smile on his face. “So we understand each other?”

“Yeah,” Beth told him.

“So smile then. Let’s have a drink… On me… Pour us something good, Baby,” Tommy told her.

3:00 am

Beth smoothed her skirt flat as she stepped out into the darkness of the parking lot. She had spent over a month trying to convince Tommy to let her dance. She had gotten her wish, and more than she had bargained for, a relationship with Tommy. She wasn’t sure how that was going to be defined in public, but in private it was going to be defined as a sexual relationship. He had just defined it for her, she would have to wait to see what the public definition was going to be, but she had a good idea how it was going to be.

Nan, the dancer Tommy was currently seeing, was going to be upset. Tommy was not subtle. It had been clear that they had been seeing less and less of each other. She had no doubt that her first night of dancing he was going to make it clear she was his. Like a dog marking his territory. She sighed, off the street, but still getting fucked for money. She hated putting it that starkly in her head, but that was the plain truth. She was still selling it, just different terms, better money, better protection. She heard footsteps running behind her and her breath caught in her throat. She turned as the club door that exited to the parking lot banged shut.

“Beth,” Jon yelled. “Beth.”

She stopped and waited.

“Uncle Tommy said I should drive you home… He don’t want you walking.”

She sighed. She had half expected it. Jon ran the twenty feet from the door to where she was. She changed direction and walked slowly toward Jon’s car. Well, she thought, at least there would be no more bullshit from Jon.

Jessie

Twenty feet away from Junior’s Palace on Beechwood Avenue, the prostitutes were just beginning to show up in force, waiting for the early morning traffic. Jessie Chambers sat with his back against the wall of an alley: A needle ready, and a speedball cooking over a tin of shoe polish. There was a bum sleeping a little further down the alley. Jessie ignored him, watching the mixture in the blackened spoon begin to bubble, melting together.

Two days before he had been sitting in a diner off 4th avenue south waiting for his world to end. He had paid for the bottomless cup of coffee the place advertised, but ten cups had done nothing to improve his situation. He was still sick. He was still broke, and he needed something to take the edge off the real world, which had been sucking pretty hard at that time. A trucker had come in and ate his dinner just two stools away from Jessie, but every time he had worked up the courage to ask him for a couple of bucks the guy had stared him down so hard that he had changed his mind.

He had just made up his mind to leave. Even the waitress was staring hard every time he asked for more coffee. The cops couldn’t be far away, when the trucker had reached back for his wallet, pulled it free and took a ten from inside and dropped it on the counter top.

Jessie watched. It was involuntary. One of those things you did when your head was full of sickness and static. Just a place for your ever moving eyes to fall. The wallet was one of those types he had seen bikers use. A long chain connecting it to the wide leather belt he wore. Hard to steal. Hard to even get a chance at. The man stuffed the wallet back into his pocket. Sloppy, Jessie saw, probably because he knew the chain was there and so if it did fall out he would know it. He turned and put his ass nearly in Jessie’s face as he got up from the stool. The wallet was right there. Two inches from his nose, bulging from the pocket. The leather where the steel eye slipped through to hold the chain frayed, ripped, barely connected. The man straightened and the wallet slipped free. The chain caught on the pocket, slipped down inside, and the wallet came free, the leather holding the steel eye parted like butter, and the wallet fell into Jessie’s lap. He nearly called out to the man before he could shut his mouth. His hand closed over the wallet and slipped it under his tattered windbreaker. The waitress spoke in his ear a second later.

“Listen… Buy something else of get the fuck out. You hear me? Otherwise, my boss,” she turned and waved one fat hand at the serve through window, “Says to call the cops.”

Jessie stared at her in disbelief. He was sure that every one in the diner had seen the wallet fall into his lap. He swallowed. “Yeah… Okay… I’m leaving,” he said with his croaky voice. Sometimes, getting high, he didn’t speak for weeks. It just wasn’t necessary. When he did he would find his voice rusty, his throat croaking out words like a frog. Sometimes he was right on the edge of not even being able to understand the words. Like they had suddenly become some foreign language. He cleared his throat, picked up the cup of cold coffee and drained it. “Going,” he said.

He got up from the stool, kept one hand in his pocket holding the wallet under the windbreaker and walked out the front door.

New York

12:30 am

Carl Evans watched from the mouth of a dark alley. It was one of the things he loved about this place. You could hang out in an alley, smoke cigarettes all day and night long if you wanted to, and nobody said a word to you. Where else, but New York could that be true, he asked himself.

He leaned back against the wall, one sneakered foot propped on the brick behind him to hold him, the other flat on the cobbled stones of the alley. Another thing about New York, he thought as he inhaled deeply of his cigarette, and then let the smoke roll slowly out of his mouth. Old things everywhere you looked. These cobblestones for instance. He wondered how old they truly were.

“Young man.” The deep voice startled him from his thoughts. He lifted his head to see an old, gray haired gentleman standing at the mouth of the alley a few feet away. His face was creased and seamed. His skin so dark it was nearly blue. A cane in one hand supported his weight.

“What’s up, Pops?” Carl asked politely.

The man placed his second hand on his cane and leaned forward. “That cigarette will kill you.“

“Pops…”

He held up one hand as Carl began to speak. “Just telling you. Don’t need an argument. It will kill you. The big tobaccos, they knew about it back in the day when I was a boy chasing that habit. And they knew about it when it was in commercials in magazines, and T.V. and what not. That cowboy died from it you know, they knew it and they still know it. It will kill you. In case you didn’t know it I wanted you to know it.” He straightened his back, lifted the second hand, nodded once, and moved across the mouth of the alley disappearing as though from some sort of magic.

Carl chuckled, lifted the cigarette to his mouth, took a deep drag and then found himself blowing the smoke out, dropping the cigarette, and crushing it. The old man had ruined it for him. He hadn’t smoked in ten years, but it tasted as good now as it had then. And he had figured with the way things were nobody had much time. Certainly not enough time to die from cancer or some other nasty surprise from cigarettes, but just the same the old man had ruined it for him.

He looked down at the blackened mess he had made as he ground the cigarette into the cobbles. Just as well, he told himself, it was time. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small silver canister. He inhaled a sharp breath involuntarily. He knew what it was. Knew what he was doing, but he still couldn’t believe he was actually going to do it.

He fingered the small red button on the top of the silver canister, hesitated, and then pushed it down. Something inside clicked. There was no other sound in the stillness. He tossed it down the alley, turned, and walked out to the sidewalk.

Route 81: A rest stop outside of Watertown New York

1:00 am

The black truck pulled into the rest stop and two men climbed out; walking toward the rest rooms that sat in from the road. Concrete bunker looking buildings that had been built back in the early seventies. They had been closed for several years now. In fact the Open soon sign was bolted to the front of the building; rust streaked the sign surface. It seemed like some sort of joke to Mike Bliss who used the rest stop as a place to do light duty drug deals. Nothing big, but still that depended on your idea of big. Certainly nothing over a few thousand dollars. That was his break off point. Any higher than that, he often joked, you’ll have to talk to someone in Columbia… Or maybe Mexico, he told himself now as he sat waiting in his Lexus. He watched the two men make a bee line for the old rest rooms.

“Idiots,” he muttered to himself. He pushed the button, waited for the window to come down, leaned out the window and yelled. “What are you, stupid? They’re closed.” He motioned with one hand. “You can’t read the fuckin’ sign or what?”

Both men stopped and looked from him to the sign.

“Yeah, closed. You can read right? Closed. That’s what it says. Been closed for years. Go on into Watertown; buy a fuckin’ burger or something. Only way you’re getting a bathroom at this time of the morning.” He had lowered his voice for the last as he pulled his head back into the car, and turned the heater up a notch. The electric motor whined as the window climbed in its track. He looked down at his wrist for the time, 1:02 A.M., where the fuck was this dude. He was late, granted a few minutes, but late was late.

A sharp rap on the glass startled him. He had been about to dig out his own supply, a little pick-me-up. He looked up to see the guys from the truck standing outside his window. “Oh… Fucking lovely,” he muttered. He pushed the button and the window lowered into the door, the motor whining loudly, the cold air blew in.

“And what can I do for you two gentlemen,” He asked in his best smart ass voice.

The one in back stepped forward into the light. Military type, Mike told himself. Older, maybe a noncom. A little gray at the edges of his buzz cut. With the military base so close there were soldiers everywhere, after all Watertown was a military town. It was why he was in the business he was in. It was also why he succeeded at it.

“Did you call me stupid,” The man asked in a polite tone.

“Who, me? No. I didn’t call you stupid, I asked, what are you, stupid? Different thing. The fuckin’ place is closed… Just doing my good deed for the day… Helping you, really, so you don’t waste no time,” Mike told him.

“Really?” The man asked.

Mike chuckled. “Yeah really, tough guy. Really. Now, I did my good deed, why don’t you get the fuck out of here ’cause you wore out your welcome.” He opened his coat slightly so they could see the chrome 9 mm that sat in its holster.

“Really,” the first guy repeated.

“Okay, who are you guys, frick and frack? A couple of fucking wannabees? Well I am the real deal, don’t make me stick this gun in your fuckin’ face,” Mike told them. He didn’t like being a dick, but sometimes you had to be.

“You know what my mother always said about guns?” The second guy asked.

“Well, since I don’t know your mama it’s hard to say,” Mike told him. He didn’t like the way these two were acting. They weren’t cops, he knew all the locals, if it had been someone he had to worry about he would have handled this completely differently. These guys were nobodies. At least nobodies to him, and that made them nobodies to Watertown. If he had to put a bullet in… His thoughts broke off abruptly as the barrel of what looked like a .45 was jammed into his nose. It came from nowhere. He sucked in a deep breath. He could taste blood in his mouth where the gun had smashed his upper lip against his teeth.

“She said don’t threaten to pull a gun, never, Just pull it.”

“Mama had a point,” Mike allowed. His voice was nasally due to the gun that was jammed hallway up to his brain. “Smart lady.”

“Very,” the man allowed. “Kind of hard ass to grow up with, but she taught me well.” He looked down at Mike. “So listen, this is what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna drive out of here right the fuck now. And that’s going to stop me from pulling this trigger. Lucky day for you, I think. Like getting a Get Out Of Jail Free card, right.”

“This is my business spot… You don’t understand,” Mike told them. “I… I’m waiting for someone.”

“Not tonight, Michael.”

“Yeah, but you don’t.” He stopped. “How do you know my name?” he asked. There was more than a nasal quality to his voice, now there was real fear. Maybe they were Feds. Maybe.

“Yeah, we know you. And we know you use this spot as a place to do your business. And I’m saying we couldn’t care less, but right now you gotta go, and I’m not going to tell you the deal again. You can leave or stay, but you ain’t gonna like staying,” The guy told him.

Listen… This is my town… If you guys are Feds you can’t do shit like this… This is my town. You guys are just…

The guy pulled the trigger and Mike jumped. He fell to the right, across the front seat. Both men stepped away from the car, eyes scanning the lonely rest stop from end to end, but there was no one anywhere. The silence returned with a ringing in their ears from the blast as it had echoed back out of the closed car interior. The shooter worked his jaw for a moment, swallowing until his ears popped. He lifted his wrist to his mouth. “Guess you saw that,” he said quietly.

“Got a cleaner crew on the way up. You’ll pass them in the elevators. We’re waiting on you guys.“ The voice came through the implant in his inner ear. No one heard what was said except him.

He nodded for the cameras that were picking him up. “In case you didn’t hear it, someone is supposed to meet him here so your cleaner crew could have company.”

“Got that too… We’ll handle it.” He nodded once more, and then walked off toward the rest rooms as the other man followed.

In back of the unit they used a key in the old rusted handset. It only looked old and rusty, it was actually an interface for a state of the art digital system that would read his body chemistry, heat, and more. The key had dozens of micro pulse sensor implants that made sure the user was human, transmitted heartbeat, body chemistry, it could even tell male from female and match chemical profiles to known examples in its database. Above and to the sides of them several scanners mapped their bodies to those same known profiles. Bone composition, old fractures, density and more. All unique in every man or women. The shooter removed the key and slipped it into his pocket. A few seconds later a deep whining of machinery reached their ears, the door shuddered in its frame, and then slipped down into a pocket below the doorway.

A second later they stepped into the gutted restroom. Stainless steel doors took up most of the room; the elevator to the base below. They waited for the cleaner crew to come up, then took the elevator back down into the depths.

~

The facility stretched for more than five miles underground. Most of that was not finished space, most of that was connector tunnels, and storage space bored from the rock. The facility itself was about three thousand feet under the city of Watertown in a section of old caves that had been enlarged, concrete lined and reinforced. The rest area was one of several entrances that led into the complex. An old farm on the other side of Watertown, an abandoned factory in the industrial park west of the city and a few other places, including direct connections from secure buildings on the nearby base.

John Pauls and Sammy Black had Alpha clearance. Both were ex-military, but most likely military clearance was no longer a real matter of concern this late in the game, Sammy thought as they made their way down the wide hallway. The word coming down to those in the know was that in the next twenty-four hours the human race would come very close to ceasing to exist at all. No confirmation from anyone official, but regular programming was off air, the news stations were tracking an asteroid that may or may not hit the Earth. The best opinions said it didn’t matter if it hit or not, it would be a close enough pass that there would be massive damage. Maybe the human race would be facing extinction. The government was strangely silent on the subject. And that had made him worry even more. The pass was estimated to be right over the tip of south America. So maybe formalities like Alpha clearance weren’t all that important any longer, if only Michael Bliss had given that some thought before he had pissed him off.

The halls were silent, nearly empty. Gloss white panels eight feet high framed it. It had always reminded Black of a maze with its twists and turns. Here and there doors hung open. Empty now. Always closed any other time he had been down here. So it had come this far too, Black thought. He stopped at a door that looked like any other door and a split second later the door rose into the ceiling and Major Weston waved them in.

Alice, he had never learned her last name, sat at her desk, her eyes on them as they walked past her. One hand rested on the butt of a matte black .45 caliber pistol in a webbed shoulder holster that was far from Army issue, and Sammy had no doubt she would shoot them both before they could even react. Alice was etched into one of those name pins that the Army seemed to like so well, but oddly, just Alice, no last name, rank or anything else. She wore no uniform, just a black coverall. The kind with the elastic ankle and wrist cuffs. No insignia there either. He had noticed that months before. Her eyes remained flat and expressionless as they passed her desk.

“Alice,” Sammy said politely. She said nothing at all, but she never did.

“Sit down, boys,” Major Weston told them. He spoke around the cigar in his mouth. Dead, but they were always, and there was never the smell of tobacco in the office. They took the two chairs that fronted the desk.

The Major was looking over a large monitor on the opposite wall that showed the north American continent. This map showed small areas of red, including the northern section where they were. The rest of the map was covered with green. “Where we are, and where we need to be, “ he said as he pushed a button on his desk. The monitor went blank. He turned to face the two.

“So here is where we are. You know, as does most of the world, that we are expecting a near miss from DX2379R later on tonight.” He held their eyes.

John shrugged. “I’ve been doing a little job, must have missed that. It’s not gonna take us out is it?”

“Saw that on the news a few days back. Guess we dodged a bad one,” Sammy said.

“Right… Right,” Weston said quietly. “But that cover was nothing but bullshit.”

“It’s going to hit us?” John asked.

“Maybe… The fact is that we don’t know. One group says this, another group says that, but it doesn’t matter because it will probably kill us off anyway. Direct hit, near miss, it is going to tip over an already bad situation with the Yellowstone Caldera.” He raised his eyes, “Familiar with that?”

“Yellowstone park?” Sammy said.

John nodded in agreement.

Weston laughed. “Put simply, yes. Yellowstone has always been an anomaly to us. Back in 1930 the Army did an exploratory survey of that area. What we came up with was that there was a section of the Rocky Mountains missing. Looked at from the top of Mount Washburn it was easy for the team to see that the largest crater of an extinct volcano known to exist lay before them.”

“I guess that’s about what I thought,” Sammy agreed.

“Yeah. We all think that. Except it is not true at all because the Yellowstone caldera is not extinct, it is active. Active and about to pop. There have been several warnings, but we took the recording stations off line quite some time ago, so there has been no mention of it in the news. Budget cuts,” he shrugged. “So everyone is focused on this asteroid that may or may not hit us and instead this volcanic event is going to blow up and when that happens the rest won’t matter at all.” He clicked the button on his desk and the monitor came to life. “All the red areas are spots where the surface pressure has increased. There was, at one time, many active volcanoes on the north American continent.” He clicked a button and the map changed to a view of the European continent with many of the same red shaded areas.

“All over the Earth… Higher pressures. Up until a few days ago the brainiacs were still arguing over whether this could even happen.” He laughed. “It is happening and they are arguing over whether it can happen. Well, we had our little debates and then we realized that history shows clearly that this has happened before. Several times. Call it the Earth’s way of cleansing itself.”

“But it’s not an absolute, right?”Sammy asked.

“Don’t start sounding like the scientists.” He reached below his desk and came up with six small silver canisters. Each had a small red button mounted on the top with a protective cap over the button itself. He clicked a button on his desk, and a picture of destruction appeared on the screens. It was obviously an aerial shot, looking down at a chain of islands. Smoke hung over the chain, reaching as high as the plane itself. As the plane dropped lower, rivers of red appeared. “That picture is an hour old. That is… Was, the Hawaiian chain.”

Sammy twisted further to the side, staring at the monitor. “How can that be… I mean everyone would know about it.” He turned back to Weston.

Weston nodded. “And that would be true except the satellites are out because of the asteroid. Shut down to avoid damage. That is the official word.” He clicked the button on his desk and the monitor went dead once more. “I started this out saying that none of it matters and that is true. The Yellowstone caldera is going to erupt sometime in the next few days. Not a maybe, not an educated guess, if the satellites were up you would know that the park is closed, it has already started. We have had a few quakes, but the big stuff is on the way. He rolled the canisters across the desktop; Sammy and John caught them.

“Super volcanoes… Earthquakes that modern civilization has never seen… The last super eruption was responsible for killing off the human population some seventy-four thousand years ago. Reduced it to a few thousand. And that is not the biggest one we have evidence of.” He lifted his palms and spread them open, sighing as he did. “So it is a double whammy. If we survive the asteroid the volcanoes get us, or the earthquakes because of them, or we’ll die from injuries. And I think those of us who die outright will be lucky. The rest of us will have a hard time of it… Staying alive with nothing… We will probably all starve to death.” He paused in the silence.

“Those canisters are a compound developed for the armed forces. Project Super Soldier. SS for short. That kept people from looking too deep, they assumed it was something to do with the Nazi youth movement here and abroad. We let that misconception hold.” He waited a second for his words to sink in. “SS is designed to prolong life past the normal point of termination. It allows a soldier to survive longer without food and more importantly without water. Does something to the cells of the host, I don’t pretend to know what. What I do know is that the people above me made the decision to release this…” He picked up a mug of coffee from the desk and sipped deeply. His eyes were red road maps, Sammy noticed now. Like he hadn’t slept in a few days.

“So this is it for us. I guess you realize that you probably won’t get paid for this. No money is going to show up in your account. I will run it through before I pull the plug, but I truly believe the machinery will be dead by the time payday rolls around. So this is something I’m asking you to do.” He pointed to the canisters that both men were looking over. Sammy held his as though it might bite him.

“Those babies are really all we have to hope with. Most people will die outright. They will never make it past the quakes, eruptions, and the resulting ash clouds and gases. Up here we should be okay as far as gases go, eruptions, but there are fault lines that crisscross this area. This whole facility is bored from limestone caverns. Probably won’t make it through the quakes, although it is a good eighty miles from the closest line,” he shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. My point is there should be a good chance for survivors here.”

“So we do what with these? Can they harm us?” John asked.

“Harm you, kill you? No, but you will be infected the minute you push that button. It will protect you the same as anyone else. There is enough in a single canister to infect about five hundred million people,” Weston said quietly.

“Whoa,” Sammy whistled. “Why infect… Why not inoculate? And why six canisters… Three Billion people?”

“Minimum three billion. That is before those infected pass it along themselves, after a while it won’t matter. As to the question of infected, this is a designer virus. You catch it just like the flu. We infected whole platoons by releasing it in the air over them. One hundred percent infection rate. Be glad they decided on this. They have some others that will kill everybody in the world in a matter of days.” Weston nodded at the raised eyebrows that greeted his remarks. “I don’t doubt that the merits of which way to go were debated hotly,” he finished gravely.

“The virus is designed to live within the host, but it can live outside of the host. It can stay alive in a dead body for days, even if the body is frozen. In fact that just freezes the virus too. Once the body is thawed it will infect any living person that comes along. So those,” he pointed to the silver canisters, “are overkill. Same stuff is being released across the globe. Great Briton… Germany… Australia… West coast just a few hours ago. Manhattan has already been done, all the East coast in fact. I want the two of you to head out from here.  One vial here, then one of you head west, the other south. Go for the bigger cities… Water supplies… Reservoirs… Release it in the air or water, it doesn’t matter. There are men heading out from the south, the west coast…” He rose from the desk. “I’ll see you out.” He turned to Alice. “Alice… Pack us up.” Alice nodded as Sammy and John got to their feet, but her hand remained on the butt of the pistol. Rubber grips, Sammy noticed as he passed her.

“Alice,” he said.

“Um hmm,” Alice murmured.

Sammy nearly stopped in his tracks, but managed to hide his surprise as he passed by into the hallway. The Major fished two sets of keys from his pocket. “Parked in the back lot. A couple of plain Jane Dodge four-bys. Drive ’em like you stole ’em. Leave ’em where you finish up. Hell keep ’em if you want ’em. Nobody is going to care.”

The three stood in the hallway for a few seconds longer. Sammy’s eyes locked with the Major’s own, and he nodded. The major walked back into his office, and the door rose from its pocket behind him. Quiet, except the slight buzzing from the fluorescent lights.

John shrugged as his eyes met Sammy’s, waiting.

Sammy sighed. “You heard the man… West or south?”

“Flip for it?” John asked. His mouth seemed over dry and he licked his lips nervously.

Sammy pulled a quarter from his pocket and flipped it into the air. “Call it, Johnny.”

“Tails,” John said just before the quarter hit the carpet.

Sammy bent forward. “Tails it is. You got it, Johnny.”

John looked down at the carpet. “West, I guess.” John said.

Sammy nodded, looked down once more at the quarter and then both men turned and walked away toward the elevator that would take them back to the surface.

Watertown Center

Shop and Save Convenience store: Candace Loi

1:30 AM

“Last one,” Neil said.

Neil was a detective for the Sheriffs department. It was closing in on 2:00 AM and he and his partner Don had just come back from six hours of sleep to get a jump on the day. Yesterday one of the checkout girls had disappeared between the Shop And Save and home. Earlier this morning she had turned up dead in a ditch just a quarter mile from the front door. The techs were still processing the scene, but it was looking personal. Stabbed to death, multiple wounds, no defense wounds, at least none that he or Don had been able to see, and fully clothed. Her purse had been found nearby, wallet and cash inside. They would know more in a few days once the coroner did her magic. It all pointed to someone she knew, and they had no known boyfriend. The trailer park where she lived had turned up nothing, they had questioned some people at the convenience store, but some had been off shift, so here they were back at the store questioning the other employees.

They had commandeered the night manager’s office which was barely larger than a broom closet, but at least it was a place to sit with enough space left over to call in the workers and ask their questions. Free coffee via the same night manager, who had still not gone home, was taking a little of the six hours of sleep sting off, but to Neil free coffee in a convenience store was like a whore offering a free shot of penicillin to the first twenty five customers.

“Who’s next?” Don asked.

The last half hour they had been interviewing the people who worked the same shifts as Amber Kneeland.

“Candace loi,” Neil said.

Don looked up and stopped writing in his little notebook.  “How do you,” spell her name, he had meant to ask Neil, but she was right in front of him.

“EL. OH. EYE,” she said with a smile.

“Vietnamese?” Don asked. She was obviously mixed race, African American and Asian, he questioned himself.

“Japanese,” she told him.

“Nice name,” Neil said, “Candace.”

Beautiful girl, Don thought. “Did you know Amber Kneeland?  Sometimes works this shift?” he asked.

“Not really,” she answered. “I mean, I met her, but only in passing… I just started here myself.”

She really is beautiful, Don thought. “You wouldn’t know if she had a boyfriend… Other friends?” he asked.

Candace shook her head. “Sorry,” she said… “What has she done?”

“Nothing,” Neil supplied.

“She went missing last night,” Don said. “Turned up dead this morning.”

Candace shook her head. “Oh my God. That’s horrible. She was such a nice girl… Quiet.”

Neil nodded his head. “So maybe you did know her a little better than you thought?”

“I just started here a few weeks back, and like I said, I don’t really know her… But it might be a girlfriend not a boyfriend.”

Don looked at her. “You wouldn’t know who?”

“No. It’s just a rumor. Someone said it to me… I don’t even remember who… But I’ve never seen her with a guy, and I have seen her with other girls… Maybe also the way she looked at me a few times…”

“Go out with her?” Don asked.

“No… Never… I…”

“Don’t swing that way?” Don added.

Candace frowned slightly before she answered. “I work. I don’t swing any way. But if I did she wasn’t my type. She never asked me out, I never asked her out.”

“Didn’t mean to offend you,” Don said. He shrugged. “She’s dead.”

“She would probably do the same for you,” Neil said.

Candace nodded. “That really is all I know. I hope you find who did it though. She seemed like a nice girl,” Candace said.

“You don’t seem the type for this… Bagging groceries at 2:00 am,” Don said, changing the subject. “You aren’t local or I’d know you… This city really is small despite the base.”

Candace smiled. “Came here a year back with a boyfriend, Army. He left, forgot all about me, I guess. I had this idea of modeling… Tough to get a foot in a door though.”

“Wow, if he left you behind he must be a fucking idiot… Any good?” Neil asked.

Candace laughed.

“Excuse mister smooth there,” Don told her. Neil feigned a hurt look and Candace laughed. “He meant have you done anything? I know somebody… Might be interested.”

Candace arched her eyebrows. “I can model. I did a You Jeans ad back in Georgia a few years ago. I just need to prove it to the right person.”

“Escorting? It’s strictly escorting, no funny stuff. Dance clubs… Clothing modeling,” Neil said.

“Probably start out escorting… Dance a little… Then if he likes you he’ll put you into the modeling end of things. He owns a lot of shit… Several car dealerships across the state… Some of the biggest dance clubs, clothing outlets, those bargain places, but still, modeling is modeling, right? Not the big name stuff, but it’s a foot in the door,” Don added.

“I can do that,” she said slowly.

Neil passed her a white business card with his own name scrawled across the back. “Tell him I sent you… That’s my name on the back.”

“Jimmy Vincioni,” Candace asked.

“Just V… Jimmy V, good guy,” Neil said.

Candace nodded and tucked the card into her front jean pocket. “I’ll call him… Thanks. Look…” Her voice dropped to a near whisper. “I’m pretty sure she had a girlfriend here… I just don’t know who,” Candace added quietly.

Don finished writing in his notebook, nodded once he met her eyes and then shook the hand she offered. She walked away.

“Beautiful,” Neil said.

“Absolutely,” Don agreed. “You ain’t getting none of that though.”

“Yeah? But if Jimmy V hires her? It’ll be the next best thing.”

Don shook his head, but smiled. His eyes rose and watched as Candace walked away. “Guess I’ll have to have a few drinks at the club if that happens.”

Neil chuckled low. “You and me both,” he agreed.


            

Get this book free at iTunes: Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse

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A look at cell phones from Geo Dell

A look at cell phones from Geo Dell

Earth’s Survivors

I spent today updating websites and working on interior files and covers for the ES series, so you are going to end up with a partially recycled blog from a few million years ago when Jesus and I were in grade school together. I mean, of course, Jesus, Wanda and Pedro’s son. So don’t write me and tell me I picked on religion, I picked on Spanish friends instead.

The cold here in New York is relentless. Winter can’t be found lately. The cats are growing thicker fur instead of shedding fur… Sheesh.

Today the topic is Cell Phones…

Cell Phones: Tin cans and string: This Cell phone thing is my generations fault. I’ll fess up right here. We tied string to tin cans, pretended they were loud and clear radios, and dreamed of networks of tin cans and string. Okay, I dreamed of networks of tin cans and string. I think a few of my friends did too, but I won’t put them on the spot. But, someone must have besides me, because we grew up looking for that tin can.

We spawned children with that tin can thing embedded in their DNA. That and the Communicator from Star Trek. If that wasn’t a glimpse into the future and cell phones, I don’t know what it was. It was inevitable, and we should have known it as soon as some fool back in the fifties gave us Walki Talkies.

It was almost a reality right there. Probably good enough for some of us, but no, not for all of us. Some said…

“Hey, Bob. What if I could talk to Tim, Ellie and even my sister Sherry with these things?”

“Well, Bob says. “Why would you want to talk to your sister Sherry? She’s a girl.”

“Oh… Right… Never mind.”

But, then some other guy went… “Hey, Bob. What if I could talk to anyone I wanted to with this thing? I mean like anywhere?”

“Well,” Bob said. “We’d have to make them affordable… Put them in the hands of people everywhere.. We’d have to build relay stations… We’d… We could do it! We could!”

And so Marketing and the Cell Phone industry was born right there. And Bob probably headed it. Now we all have Cell Phones and we might as well be welded to them, or they to us.

Last week I remembered I had a cell phone for a reason. To make calls to people, or so that people could reach me. I was watching a really stupid movie at the time. Four young people stranded in the desert. The moron dude (There is always a moron dude who does the dumb thing that puts them all in the bad situation), so, the Moron Dude wrecks the truck and they’re stranded in the desert. So what does he do first? Tries his cell phone. And does it work? Of course not. And, I thought, hmm, I have a cell phone, what if I paid all this money for minutes, and, and (I tend to get excited when I think of stupid things that just might be possible) I get stranded in the desert, and I flip open my Cell phone, and I have, like, 300 minutes, so I sigh, relieved, I will not die in the desert and the young woman med student won’t have to pound a hole in my head to relieve the fluid buildup so I will live! That was what she (The med student) had just finished doing to one of the people in the movie, pounding a hole in her head to relieve the pressure buildup. Hmm. It didn’t work too well. The person still died. Now, my characters do things too. But I have yet to write a scene where one actually pounds a hole into another characters head with a frickin’ rock.

I’ll tell you, I was relieved. I have enough holes in my head (Some say). Then I remembered the scenario. Minutes don’t matter. Reception matters. So, in my head, in my little world in the desert with the Moron Guy, and the Med Student woman, I look down at my phone again. Damn. 300 minutes and no bars. But, like the Moron Dude I try it anyway. Doesn’t work. The young Med Student woman is looking at me funny. Like she can’t wait to pound that hole in my head. Son of a bitch, I think. This really sucks. Then I remember, it’s not real. I am relieved again, except I am still watching this pathetic movie, and I am looking at my cell phone and wondering why I welded myself to it.

Anyway, dumb movies aside, it really did get me thinking about my cell phone. I have this many friends. (I’m holding up fingers on one of my hands). Let’s just say it’s a small amount, I have fingers left over. Now, all of those friends never call me on my cell phone. If they need to reach me they send an email or call me on my land line. Yes, I have a land line. I know how pathetic that sounds. And I rarely ever use it either. But that’s another blog. So, my friends know my email address, and my home phone and my cell phone number, and they never call me on the cell phone. Yet every month I buy minutes and put them on the damn phone. So I must have thousands of minutes on the phone. Just then the phone rang.

“Hello?” I’m cautious. No one calls me here. “No one calls me here,” I say.

Turns out it is a new-old friend. IE: One I knew years before who just reconnected and does not realize no one calls me on my Cell Phone.

“Hey,” I say. What else can I say? “No, you’re not bothering me,” I lie. Then, the phone goes dead.

“Hello? Hello?” I take the phone away from my ear and stare at it as though that can fix it or at least tell me what is wrong. Nope. five bars. Hey, wait a minute, no minutes! How can that be? I just ran out of minutes on my cell phone. But I just put minutes on it. Hmm, a conundrum.

That lead right into the stupid movie, and I realized, if it was me, my luck would be that I would find I had a signal, and then discover that I had no minutes. And so, I asked myself, why is that? And that is the crux of the problem. Because, as I mentioned, no one calls me on my cell phone. So, where do all the minutes go to? They go to all the other calls. The ones I didn’t ask for. The Cell Phone Spammers. Yes. Those guys/gals/machines. They call all of the time.

“Hi! did you know that for just three hundred dollars a month you can get an unlimited number of minutes,” the voice asks?

“Really,” I ask?

The voice just keeps yacking. It’s not a real voice. It’s a machine. But I’m lonely, they know it, and they know I am stupid enough to listen to a machine… At least for a little while.

“Press One now for the Budget Plan. Press Two for the Super Business Package. Press three for the…”

I hang up. Cell Phone Hooker, I think.  I think some other unkind things too, even though I know it is a machine. An hour later the phone rings. I think, ‘I shouldn’t answer that. They probably just want to sell me something.’ But I am stupid, or I have a defective gene, or both.

“Hello? Is this a machine,”I ask right off the bat.

“No sir,” a female voice. Heavy accent. “I am calling regarding your account.”

“Oh… Oh, sorry… I get these machine generated phone calls you see…” I shut up, because of course it’s the Cell Phone. Yakking is money. “My account?”

“Yes sir… My records show that you have the Thrifty Budget plan. And I wanted to make you aware of the Super Business Travelers plan..”

“Huh?”

“Your Cell phone plan,” she explains.

“I don’t have the Thrifty Budget plan,” I say.

“Are you sure,” she asks?

“Mm, yes,” I decide.

“Hold on sir.” She sounds upset, leaves the line, and like the idiot I am, I wait for her to come back. Ten minutes later she does. “Sir?”

Probably she is checking only to see if I was stupid enough to hang on. But, no, I answer. “Yes… Ma’am.” I’m even polite. What an idiot.

“My records show that you do not have the Thrifty Budget plan. Please forgive me.”

And I am ready and willing to forgive her. It’s hot over there in New Delhi, I watch Big Bang Theory. I saw Slum Dog Millionaire. I know it’s got to be a hard job working half way around the worl… She interrupts me.

 So, Sir?” She waits until I answer. The minute monster is eating my phone alive.

“Yes?”

“So, wouldn’t this be a great time to get the Super Business plan?”

Finally it dawns on me. “Hey, are you from **** & ****?”(My phone provider)

“Well, no. I’m from **** *****.”

I hang up. I feel used. Dirty. ‘Damn,’ I think. I am even cussing. ‘Damn Dirty Ape. Frig!’ It is the most severe cussing I can come up with on short notice.

Okay, so I’m sitting there, and slow as I am, it finally dawns on me where all of my minutes go, they go to answering the phone so these guys can sell me more minutes so I can answer the phone, so they can sell me more minutes, so I can answer the phone IF one of my friends ever call, and, as evidenced, if one of my friends do call, I’ll have no minutes to talk to them. Boy am I dumb. Hmm… Then I think, well, I could just let the medical student woman in the movie pound the hole in my head. Might be quicker, smarter too…

Hey! Take a look at the new Earth’s Survivors book Alabama Island…



He had come to hours later; the vehicles’ nothing but twisted husks, still burning in the black night. He could feel the heat from the fires. He had lain for what seemed like a long time trying to orient himself, make sense of what he last remembered, and what he now saw. Time did nothing to sort it out.

It still made no sense some time later when he had first tried to sit up. Pain had flared everywhere and the black curtain had descended once more.
The second time the fires had been out. Heat still came from the blackened shells, but the fires were dead. The moon was high in the sky, bloated, bright silver.
He had moved slower, and while it had been close he had managed to fight past the first pain when he had moved.
His left leg was bad. Not broken, but cut badly, maybe sprung, after all he had lain with it twisted to one side for what he assumed was a very long time. He used part of his shirt to wrap his leg as he let his head clear.
His head was worse. Pain inside every time he tried to move too fast. It felt like liquid sloshing around inside his head, his brain shifting with it, slamming into the bone cage of his skull, and he wondered if it were true, or just something his mind provided in explanation of the pain. As he sat the pain eased enough for him to stand. Standing helped to ease it even more and he began to search for the others…

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Okay, that’s my week. I hope your week was good, Geo…