THE ORIGINAL SURVIVORS SERIES FROM DELL SWEET

THE ORIGINAL SURVIVORS SERIES FROM DELL SWEET


  FROM ASHES

The Original Survivors: From Ashes. The survivors face the apocalypse head on…

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074B7T4MC

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/152195402X



  ON THE ROAD

The Original Survivors: On The Road. Some who have survived are on the road looking for safety…

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0749Y4M1R

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/152195433X



  ALABAMA ISLAND

The Original Survivors: Alabama Island. Follow a group of survivors through the beginning of the end…

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074DJZX2J

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521975515



  BLUECHIP

New Release! The Original Survivors: Bluechip. The story of how the apocalypse began…

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074YH3ZRG

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1549541110



 

Bits and pieces of stuff I might have thrown away. Humor

Bits and pieces of stuff I might have thrown away. Humor


I had a nightmare last night. It was so bad it lurched upright from the dream and stumbled from the bed… What could be so bad you ask?
Well, I was in Vegas where myself and my new bride had just gotten married at some little out of the way chapel. Elvis was there, the best man. Of course it was a pretend Elvis, but still. My new bride was worth millions, she only told me after the ceremony.
The thing is she wore a veil and even with the veil there was something about her I recognized but I couldn’t get it.
Then I noticed there was this authoritative black gentleman following us both around and hopping to it when she said anything. He even barked at me a few times; scared me too.
We got in the limo… I was still sleeping peacefully, and then she turned to the man and said “Bird, bring in the litigants for the next case,” and she lifted the veil… My new bride, Judge Judy… I have got to stop letting mom control the TV so much…


And when God came back to gather his people he was surprised to see that Geo was not ready. Still formatting his hard drive…

Me today, formatting an old hard drive. I forgot how much time we used to put into that stuff in the old days…


Me with the tornado warning a few nights back…

Wooooeeee… The tornado warning is upon us and the skies are flashing, the thunder crashing… Whoops, almost re-wrote a Garth Brooks song right there….


Me commenting on the presidential eclipse…

And again…

Waited at my desk for three hours never saw a damn thing. No Google updates on the eclipse… No Presidential Tweets like “Ohhh Ohhh here it comes…” nothing… Guess I should’ve gone outside… You don’t suppose the Russians hacked the eclipse do you? Oh well, next time 


A little television knowledge…

Well I just learned this from television: Sixty percent of all American women are wearing the wrong size pad… Yes, I learned that on TV. But, the maker of the Always pad says that women can check the top of their box and find the right size for them… Honest, I just learned that. I am assuming they are talking about bunion pads. So, ladies hop to it and protect those feet. This is my first and only public service announcement on this subject… You are welcome…


And the week moved by me. Lucky for me because I was running out of handy sarcasm. I hope you mad it to the end of the week in one piece. I am looking for the weekend and the aliens to come down, suck that whole week right out of my head and fill it with  better stuff… If aliens do that, we’ll need to check with a conspiracy expert to be sure…


A new release that is also free today for the Kindle. Go get it!

New Release! The Original Survivors: Bluechip. The story of how the apocalypse began: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074YH3ZRG


A free book link for you iTunes fans… Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse… The end of the world is here… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-apocalypse/id963866999?mt=11


For those who like Nook, another free book… The Zombie Killers Origins: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-the-zombie-killers-dell-sweet/1123356143

That is it for me this Friday. It is a beautiful cool day here in New York. I hope the weather is cooperating where you are. Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you soon, Geo…



 

Blogging humor, Med warnings I have seen…

George Dell

Blogging humor, Med warnings I have seen…

Things I have seen on my meds that befuddle me. I take meds four times a day. Back in the 70’s people who did that were called hippies.

My meds control all the things that I did not control and therefore had to have a doctor take control of to control… Got that? Good.
I listed a few of the things I have seen on the six mile long pages of warnings that seem to come with every med I take…

1: May cause periods to stop or become erratic. Hmm, that better not happen…

2: Do not take if you are allergic to this medication or any of its ingredients. I haven’t taken it yet so I don’t know if I will be or am allergic…

3: (On my heart medication) May cause your heart to form abnormal rhythm. Also may cause excessive bleeding without warning. What???

4: (On my other heart medication) May not work well with other heart medications. And there goes my heartbeat speeding up all on its own.

5: Do not ride a bike or operate machinery. Really? I had absolutely no plans to ride a bike this evening. None at all…

6: May cause some unspecified problems that this medication has not been studied for. Whoa. That is some secret squirrel stuff right there. Are they just hedging their bets…?

7: Do not use alcohol in excess when taking this medication. Hmm, I wonder what exactly excess is? Is that when you fall down and can’t get up or is that just before you fall down and can’t get up?

8: Do not toss small children into the air when taking this medication. Dang it…

9: You may become dizzy when taking this medication. That is not true. My friend takes the same medication and he was dizzy already…

10: Do not mix with other drugs or medical emergencies may occur. I usually read that one as I have the handful of pills transferred to my mouth and I am trying to swallow them, so I know what the medical emergency is, choking!


Take a look at these new releases…


New Release! The Original Survivors: Bluechip.

The story of how the apocalypse began #Apocalypse #Undead #Crime https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074YH3ZRG


A story of addiction and recovery

#Addiction #Recovery #DrugAbuse https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074YHHTF6


The Nation Chronicles Zero. It might be the end for Earth as greed sets death in motion

#Paperback #Crime #Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521911215



Enjoy the week and don’t forget to stop by and see me on Facebook or Twitter, Geo…


 

The Walmart lessons…

The Walmart lessons…


Let’s see what I have learned…

Occasionally I will venture out to Walmart. Rarely does this turn out well. I am almost always in a situation where I have to go, not want to go. I look at Walmart like a foreign entity occupying american soil. You should get a visa, passport and shots before you go. Lately I have been keeping track of my visits so that I can have a filter in place to let me know when I should or shouldn’t go…

Late Afternoon: So far I have learned that late afternoon Walmart shopping excursions are a bad idea. Too many families shopping with small children. Too much shoving and pushing and just an overall feeling of WHY AM I HERE! Even my mom and aunt on that trip were actively taking the electric carts they were using and in the case of my aunt trying to run people down. Mom was just wide open on the throttle and get the hell out of my way. I was trying to keep up, save small children and laugh at the tough guys who just almost got run over by little old ladies. Also young women wearing spandex… And grandmas wearing spandex and yes, a grandpa wearing spandex and gym shorts. Why grandpa, why! My friend Andrea says the women wearing spandex is payback for the men wearing it. I understand, but it seems to be a vicious cycle… Late afternoons are not good shopping days, I was mentally shot and probably traumatized by the time we got out of there.

Early Monday mornings: No. No. No. Employees and vendors restocking and blocking pretty much every aisle. Half naked women and men in night clothes. I don’t understand… Is it okay to dress in night clothes because it is early? Also lack of caffeine allows me to be extra nervy and impolite and if I am nothing I am polite… Sorry, nearly choked there. So early Monday is a bad idea. Might as well schedule a lobotomy, it would have been the same to me.

Holidays: Oh God. I hope you are coming back before the next holiday trip to Walmart. All I can say is that if you need something that bad pay someone to go there for you. If, as is my case all your nephews, sons, daughters and nieces are too smart to let you hire them, consider adoption. Screaming children. Nasty floors, picked over merchandise. Impolite &^%#’s. Yes, that was a bad word right there, sorry. It made me wish I had gone holiday shopping at Walmart with Mad Max or the Outlaw Josey Wales. No, no, that’s fine Mister Wales… You can shoot the next one too. Maybe Max’s little dog too. That dog was hardcore. So, no Walmart holiday shopping at all.

Late morning Wednesday shopping:Today was the late morning shopping test. Apparently Wednesday mornings are screaming child day, multiple screaming children as a matter of fact with grandparents or people my age who should not be having children at all. I had two boys running up and down aisles screaming and taunting each other… “I’ll get you!” … Slow down!” “Aiiii”
Little $#^&’s. I felt like tripping one and then yelling to the other “Here he is! Caught the little #$@%^&# for you.” Wonder what they would have made of that. But I was good. The second group was a boy beside a cart with grandpa or the worlds oldest father and a kid in the basket screaming. I mean SCREAMING. And the grandpa/father smiling and ignoring them and the boy beside the cart screamed at the screaming kid telling him to shut up. Thankfully they sell things in other areas of the store and so several times I managed to get away from the little kids. That was when I noticed that many of the shoppers were smiling and nodding. Look right at you, through you, smile and nod and whisk right by you and the screaming children and never lose the smile. Hmmm, I thought, which aisle is the Prozac in. I looked but I didn’t find it.
I also noticed that the produce area was inundated with alternate types. I saw a man with a pink Mohawk. A woman with a brush cut and her sleeves rolled up to biceps almost as big as mine. Another man picking over loose vegetables. I always wondered who in hell bought those loose potatoes, beets, carrots, now I know. Really picky guys in too tight designer jeans. It was weird in the produce area, but it was also heaven. The screaming children were not present, apparently all of these folks had been spayed or neutered.
I hung out there for awhile until I realized I had to travel to the other end of the store for soy milk and so, reluctantly I left. As for Wednesday shopping at Walmart in mid morning? Yes if it is produce, no on the rest. Hey, that is my strongest and only Walmart endorsement ever… Enjoy the balance of the week…


Check out my latest release The Nation Chronicles: Death…

Amazon Exclusive

KINDLE  |  PAPERBACK



Everything you wanted to know about piezo discs

Piezo Disc Elements


I chose to use two Piezo discs in a recent guitar build project to blend with one Humbucker pickup. The sound will be unique because of that blend, but very often I mention these elements and I don’t fully explain them, so I thought that I would do that. The first thing I will do is give a basic explanation of what a Piezo disc is and what it does.


The Piezo element consists of a thin metal disc bonded to a thin ceramic disc. Wire leads are attached to the separate discs and when current is passed through the discs it stimulates them in one of two ways, either to produce sound or to transmit sound dependent upon the way you wire the disc. You may not realize it but there are Piezos discs in everyday items you have contact with. Smoke Detectors use them as a speaker to transmit that blaring beeping sound. Your Cell Phone probably has one in it to use as a speaker or microphone or both, and there are plans for practical application of the Piezo as a charging unit using the vibrations of the Piezo and converting it to current. The Piezo is a versatile device.
The Piezo element can do an equally good job at picking up vibrations in the soundboard of your guitar and turning those vibrations into sound. Preserving the Acoustic quality of those sounds as well. You have probably had experience or at least heard of under saddle Piezo elements that pick up vibration through the Acoustic Saddle and change that into sound. The Piezo disc works in exactly the same way except that the placement can be whatever you choose.
Placement of the Piezo Disc
Most of the string energy transfer will come directly through the bridge saddle on an acoustic guitar and radiate out into the soundboard from that point. There will also be energy transfer at the nut on the headstock and at the string mounting points on the bridge, whether that be pegs or a pegless attachment at the bridge or elsewhere, but that will be a very small amount compared to what will occur at the saddle. The saddle is where the majority of the string energy transfer occurs. That energy is transferred into the soundboard and then causes the soundboard to vibrate. That vibration produces sound which is then reflected off the back and sides of the guitar and out the sound hole. Acoustics in its most simple direct form. It’s the same thing that happens when you hold a glass to a wall and the press your ear to the glass. You will clearly hear the sounds from the room on the opposite side of that wall. That is sound energy transferred into the wall and then traveling through that wall via vibration and once again becoming sound as you place the glass against the wall. So, the closer to the source the better the vibration will be, the more your Piezo will pick up and convert to sound.
For that reason the best placement is usually the bridge. There are other placement options directly on the soundboard, either on top via a two sided tape or underneath via a bonding agent of some sort. Behind the bridge, sandwiched into the bridge if you are building a custom application, or attached directly under the bridge and cushioned in some way to defect the harsher sounds of the traditional Piezo. There are other ways as well, probably as varied as any builder can make them.
I have not seen a great many Piezo discs used in the way I am going to use them unless they are in a cigar box application. But I wanted the ability to have that acoustic sound and since I have converted the guitar they will be installed in to an adjustable bridge my options were limited.
A word on the harshness of the Piezo disc or even the Under Saddle Piezo. It is part of the design of the Piezo, they pick up sound very well. Fingers tapped against the top of your guitar, or accidentally tapping the soundboard as you play and so when Piezo discs are mounted directly to the wood they are much harsher because they are picking up all of that string energy transfer. The under saddle Piezo has a coating in most cases that reduces the effectiveness of the Piezo and so cuts down on that hardness/harshness in the sound produced. The disc has no coating at all and so a direct to wood mounting would pick up all the sounds in that top/soundboard, string zings, finger taps, maybe even slight buzzes from string changes. Because of that it is usually recommended to coat or shield the Piezo disc from the wood or mounting point. Recommendations include rubber, leather, plastic, silicone or epoxy. The harder the product the more energy transfer, the harder/harsher the sound will be.
Most of the discs you can buy are about 1 1/2” in diameter and you can cut them down to suit your tastes. As long as you make sure the areas that are wire attachment points are not disturbed they will still act as a pickup. Because of that you can fit them nearly anywhere at all. Still, the close to the bridge they are the more the energy transfer will be and the clearer the notes will be.


I used the silicone method of mounting the Piezo discs. I used two discs, one directly under the bridge the other one back a few inches where the vibrato mounts. Very close to the screw mounts for the vibrato in fact. I drilled about a 1/4” deep 1 1/2” hole in both spots and then over drilled the holes so that the Piezos could fit in them loosely. Next I filled each hole with pure silicone to the tops, making sure I left no voids within the silicone. I then pressed the discs into the hole with finger pressure and set them so they were about 1/8” deep, so there was the recommended 1/8” of silicone between the Piezo and the wood to act as a cushion and reduce the harshness of the Piezo discs. The one under the bridge will receive the most string energy the one further back will pick up the sustained energy through the tremolo mounting points. In the past that has produced a prolonged ghosting sound that seems to seep into sustains, almost seeming like a second wind in the sustain. Subtle but I really like it. I did this on one of the first guitars I built from scratch and the sound it produced has always stayed with me. I liked it that much. It may not be for everyone though, so you might consider a few other things as far as mounting goes.
First, you may want to consider doing the actual mounting of the Piezo discs at the very end of your build, that is if you have access to the area you wish to mount them in and you are in no danger of damaging the guitar as you mount them. This way you can use tape to temporarily mount them and check the sounds as you change materials and positions until you find something you like. I have done this a few times and I know what sound I am after so I don’t have as much of a concern in that area. The way I mount them, with the hole only slightly over drilled, the edges of the Piezo discs are bound to contact the sides of the wood. They will pick up sound in theses contact areas more easily, even so this is not a large or thick area, but the very thin profile of the disc itself. The rest of the sound will be cushioned by that silicon and it will produce a mellower sound, without the sharpness or harshness, the two should blend well and sound good as they have in the past. Blended with the Humbucker and the on-board EQ I should get just about any kind of repeatable sound I want. This is about the fourth or fifth build where I have done them this way and the sound reproduction has been the same to my ear each time.


Wiring the Discs
I wire these discs parallel; in other words one disc per circuit. You can wire these in series the same as any other electrical project, lights, speakers, etc. But wiring in a series changes or lowers the over all impedance of the circuit. You would end up getting less sound from the paired units. If you were wiring the Piezo as speakers that might be desirable to achieve a certain impedance coming out of an amp/driver. But as a sound pickup it isn’t all that desirable.
Controls


Here is the nice part for me. You can wire the Piezo directly into a 500 k or 250 k Volume potentiometer control or Pot as we call them. In other words the standard pot that came with the Strat donor wiring harness I am going to use. Humbucker into one, Piezo, Piezo. That output goes to an EQ/Preamp I could run it directly to the amp as a matter of fact. It doesn’t need the EQ/Preamp, but I want that to be able to tailor the sound to what I want so it will run into the EQ/Preamp and from there to the amp.

This saves a great deal of time. I have the donor Strat wiring harness I procured. I don’t have to do much more than solder my Piezos and the Humbucker into the circuit. I will note that a Humbucker will work with a 250 k or a 500 k pot. The pot will affect the amount of treble that is allowed to leak or bleed from the circuit before it reaches the amp. Generally a 500 k pot will leave you with more treble than a 250 k pot will. To throw a little more into the mix, remember that I am preamping this setup and running it through an EQ before it ever reaches the amp, so I could use even lower pots, 25 k to 100 k. So since I have not tried this particular setup before, and since if I go in any direction it will be down, not up, I will stick with the 250 k pots which I think will be fine, and change them out all the way down to 25 k if need be. These are things I can do after the guitar is assembled and playable, and really that is the best time to do it. And you may find that is also the best time to decide on your Piezo placement, or you can explore other alternatives such as the Tuneomatic style adjustable bridges that have the Piezo elements built right in to them.

The Finished Guitar
I hope you learned something about ceramic Piezos, Geo Dell.


Read more about this custom guitar build: https://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Works-Three-Custom-Builds-ebook/dp/B00XNPXHQI

The Mayan Prophecy and other inaccuracies

The Mayan Prophecy and other inaccuracies

The Mayans: (Written when the end of the world predictions were everywhere, the Mayans foremost)

I am not all that pleased with the Mayans. I have been waiting, but here it is creeping towards the middle of January and the earth is still here. What happened? Great mathematicians my… Well you know.

But really, we are so gullible That’s how these whack jobs like the Mayans get us in the first place. The whole thing probably went something like this…

Bob and Ted Mayan (Well, they were called Mayans, right?) were bored one day. Maybe they had just smoked a little weed, had a couple of ancient beers (Probably not a good European Dark beer, but hey they’re lucky they had any at all), and most likely Bob said something like…

“Hey, man… What if… What if… I forgot.”

“The world ended,” Ted supplied.

“Yeah… Yeah, Man. That’s it. What if, like, the world just ended and… and…” he shrugged (Probably too stoned to think straight).

“Yeah… Yeah… I see it,” Ted nearly screams. “And we all float off into space!”

“Dude!” Bob says.

“Dude,” Ted agrees.

And that was probably it right there. Next thing you know Bob and Ted have started themselves a little cult. Got a bunch of their contemporaries following them. Probably put it on their version of Face Book (The Cave Walls) and that was it. One kid’s a math wiz (At least on their level) and the next thing you know the Mayans are predicting our future. Makes me mad just thinking about it.

So here I am a few thousand years later… I don’t know the Mayans were high that day… I don’t know they had three or four arrests for possession before they were sixteen. Nope. I’m just an average Joe saying Hey What the hell is the deal? And I start to think maybe it’s happening. I’m at work and I turn to Fred my Cat…

“Fred… Fred, does it feel like the Earth is spinning slower to you? … Does it?”

“Meow,” Fred says. Whatever that means. And while I’m on the subject, which I wasn’t. How can a Cat or a Dog express themselves with so few words. This damn cat always answers Meow.

“Fred, what do you think? Were the Mayans right or not?”

“Meow.”

“Really.”

Or

“Fred, I think I hear a dog out there in the yard.”

“Meow.”

“Really.”

What does it mean? Couldn’t once he say…

A dog you say? Well that clinches that. I’m not going out in the yard at all.”

“Really,” I would say, surprised and probably in shock.

“Really? What the hell does really mean? Don’t you people ever say anything else,” Fred asks?

Anyway, the Mayans. It’s mostly our faults. I read somewhere that people who make predictions, by the odds, have to be right 50 percent of the time. That’s pretty limited thinking. Maybe if it’s strictly yes or no, otherwise the variables come into play and who can tell, and that is exactly how they get us. That…  maybe it could be … That… You don’t suppose…?  And we are so fatalistic in our overall views that we just jump on it…

“BARB! Let’s get down to the Walmart and stock up on all the stuff we’re gonna need! The World’s Ending!!!”

And the religious whack jobs? Oh, they’re happy. They just look at you and smile. They’re God is gonna kick some ass now, that’s for sure. You people will starve in the wilderness… STARVE! But God will take care of me! God told me to get a rope and tie myself to the church steeple so that when the world ends, and the Earth stops spinning, I won’t float away…

Good. And when nothing happens I suppose you could use the rope to lasso a cow. Start a life as a cowboy.

We are so gullible. A friend bought a book to me a few years back. He handed it to me…

“Look, don’t pass that around…” He looked around to make sure no one was listening. “It’s the secret to life,” he whispered. “Says so right on the cover… A secret..”

“A secret?”

“SHHHS. Not so loud. It’s a friggin’ secret. Secret knowledge… Read it, I did.”

Or another friend shortly after that.

“It’s the Mayan prophecy, Dude. See this guy that wrote it… Well, he’s not a Mayan, but he’s good with numbers, see, and he says it’s gonna be December 2012…” He looked at me meaningfully.

“Uh huh… December?”

“Yeah… December.”

“Yeah. I got that. I mean what’s gonna be in December 2012?”

He looked at me like I was nuts. “Dude! The world’s ending, Dude.”

“Oh… That December 2012 thing.”

“Yeah, see this guy has a ship full of virgins and he’ll be in the New York harbor waiting to sail…”

“Ah, virgins?”

“Yeah… Yeah, see, to re-populate the world when most everyone dies.”

Gullible. We want to believe it. I personally think if the moron that wrote that book would have showed up with a ship full of virgins he would have found himself in jail. But hey, maybe the Mayan’s could post bail…

Anyway. I’m still here. The world didn’t end, and I didn’t see a single Mayan on T.V. apologizing for the misinformation. Not one. The world is still going and if you went ahead and maxed out your Visa card you’re gonna have to pay it. Next week or the week after that the light bill’s gonna be due, then the car payment, and the next thing you know we will have moved right past those Mayans and their faulty math.

But listen. Keep this to yourself, but I read this book and it predicts that the real date is a year or so away. Then the whole friggin’ thing’s gonna fall down…. Honest. The book says so…


EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Rising From The Ashes: I-Tunes From L.A. To Manhattan lawlessness is the rule, eBook… #iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-rising-from/id595453162?mt=11


Turkeys trying to eat my Fred cat

Posted by Dell 08-05-17 3:21 A.M.

Turkeys trying to eat my Fred cat.

I know it sounds funny but it isn’t. As you probably didn’t know we’re out here in the boondocks, well, the lesser boondocks, okay, the suburbs of the boondocks. There are some woods here, okay? The turkeys live in the woods, and that’s fine. That’s fine because Fred lives in the house. No problem, except Fred was converted from a do whatever she wanted to cat to a live in the house cat and that means that sometimes Fred gets the urge to go out into the wilds of the back yard and look around. That brings Fred into conflict with the turkeys.

When Fred and I were just getting to know each other she decided to impress me. So, every day for about three weeks Fred would bring me a semi dead something. Bird, Squirrel, mouse, you get the idea. Then Fred decided to teach me to hunt, at least I think that was the intention. Fred probably thought I was a soft cat. Hanging out in the house all day, never hunting in the backyard, and I suppose Fred figured that if she had to be seen with me that she should make me a little more presentable. So, she went from dead and semi dead to live gifts. In other words down the Chimney Fred would come with a live bird, squirrel, mouse, bring it right to my desk, look at me, probably thinking. … “Okay, Stupid. I’m gonna let this go and you’re going to catch it. I can’t keep feeding you. You have to learn to hunt” … or something like that. And then, Surprise! Fred let the bird, squirrel, mouse go.

Oh what fun, what joy, tearing around the house trying to catch the bird, squirrel, mouse. I’m not making this up, so I found it amusing when Fred began her turkey troubles. Seemed like pay back to me, like the little birds had called up their bigger cousins.

The turkeys believe the back yard and the woods are theirs. These are not little Turkeys these are huge full grown turkeys. Big, and not like the turkeys at the A&P. These suckers still got heads, beady eyes, wings that can fly, feathers, the whole nine yards.

Have you ever seen twenty five or thirty pounds of bird fly? The whirring of their wings sounds unreal. Heavy. Like a chopper is about to land. The first time I heard it I thought it was a helicopter far away. Nope, four huge turkeys dropping out of the sky to land next to the window and eat the bread Mom put out. I jumped about three feet straight up in the air when I saw them.

So, I’m not really sure what started it with Fred and the turkeys. One day they just decided they were going to eat Fred. He probably looked a lot better than the bread, so Mom opens the door, Fred walks out leisurely, like he owns the yard, like he has all day, and then WHIRRRRRR, thirty pound birds dropping from the sky and Fred ran for the Shed.

Mom had shut the door but she yanked it open and sprang into action. Funny? Mom is… Let’s say older and leave it at that… but she is no slouch, and no one eats her cats without her permission. Broom in hand Mom went after the turkeys who pretty much had Fred cornered at the edge of the house, he couldn’t get to the shed and couldn’t get back to the house.

Mom is about this high. (I was holding my hand up, sorry you couldn’t see it, but I am no fool). Do not tell a woman’s true age, and don’t make remarks about her height or lack thereof. Let me just say this; If the turkeys had thought to stand on one another shoulders they may have been able to hold her off, snatch up Fred, and make their getaway. But they didn’t and they could not stand against the broom wielding woman who is my Mom.

I guess the turkeys just looked at it like shopping…

“Heeeey, Billllly, is that a cat down there?” whirrrrrrrrrrr

“Yup. Looks like it Brian.” whirrrrrrrrrr

“I was just going for eggs and cheese, but cat would go good too…” whiiiiiirrrrrr

That was round one. I slept through it. The next day Mom put the bread out again. I said, “But, Mom. The turkeys tried to eat Fred!”

“Honey that was just because I didn’t put enough bread out there for them. We have this half loaf of wheat bread that’s gone bad.”

“We just got that two days ago!”

“Goes bad fast.”

You can’t argue with Mom. I looked at it like a turkey payoff. But she put the bread out and the turkeys didn’t show up. We both wondered about it for awhile but eventually the day went on and we forgot.

Fred get’s in and out on her own most of the time, right into the utility room, up the old chimney and under the roof eves and she’s out. But now that Fred is pregnant she prefers the door. Probably smart since she is about as wide as she is long now. So I let her out about an hour later. The door wasn’t even closed before I heard the whirring and the biggest damn birds I’ve ever seen that close up dropped from the sky. I was no help, I froze like a deer caught in the headlights. The only thing that helped was that I froze and left the door slightly open and Fred darted back in. The turkeys saw me, glared at Fred and then took off. I could have sworn the one turkey called Fred a bitch as he flew away. Gangsta turkeys these were.

I learned a few things though. First, turkeys do make Gobbling sounds. They sound like some fat guy sitting in the brush with a shotgun doing a bad turkey call. Exactly like that. In fact I’m pretty sure the fat guy did a better job than the Turkey did. Second, these turkeys are not kidding. The last two days in a row I’ve gone out and they’ve been camped out in the pines, thirty feet up, waiting for my Fred cat. Where’s the fat guy with the shotgun when you need him? He could probably call those turkeys right to him and BLAM!

Okay, so we have to be careful. We have no fat guy with a shotgun and the turkeys know it. I feel like I’m living in Australia surrounded by dingos and Olivia Newton John. And Fred is so pregnant she can’t run fast, so I have been resorting to turkey raids. I fling open the door run out and rush at the trees with the kitchen broom, but I nearly gave the old lady next door a heart attack and I just couldn’t stand to listen to the turkeys up there in the pines gobbling at me. It sounded like laughter… Anybody know a fat guy with a shotgun I could hire??? There’s a free turkey dinner in it! … Gobble, gobble, gobble….


Check out Star Dancer a new book from Dell Sweet…

Star Dancer #SciFi #iTunes Michael Watson is the captain of an inner galaxy cruiser who longs for deep space…

Star Dancer 

Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 61,250. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2017 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Star Dancer is an inner galaxy cruiser, transporting inmates and materials between the penal colonies on the Moon and Mars, as well as supplies and people to the bases scattered throughout the Solar System. Her captain, Michael Watson purchased Star Dancer right out of school, but the last few trips have left him longing for more adventure out in the wider expanses of space…

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/star-dancer/id1245409334?mt=11

Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/7235891

Dell Sweet’s Earth’s Survivors series on iTunes, Nook and Smashwords

Dell Sweet’s Earth’s Survivors series on iTunes, Nook and Smashwords


I-Tunes: Apocalypse, free eBook… Free eBook Friday! Get it right now from iTunes!

Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe.

A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise.

Los Angeles: Billy and Beth start out with a small group and wind up on their own as they make their way across America trying to find others and safety.

Apocalypse: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


Rising From The Ashes: I-Tunes From L.A. To Manhattan lawlessness is the rule, eBook…

Los Angeles: Billy and Beth started out with a small group and wound up on the East coast, camped in a field where they can watch what is left of Manhattan as it burns. Now they have to decide what is next for their growing encampment. They have been south, most of the south seems to be gone. They had pinned their hopes on the East coast, but it’s clear that New York is no better than L.A..

Manhattan: Adam Has found his way out of the Dying City of New York only to get pulled back in as he finds a group of survivors coalescing around his leadership, that want to stay close to the city. But New York is firmly in the hands of the Gangs. It’s only a matter of time before the gangs tire of threatening him and come after his small group of survivors and he knows it…

Rising from the Ashes: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


The Nation: I-Tunes. The Nation takes shape and the people who will build it, eBook…

This part of the story really concentrates on the formation of The Nation and the people who will build it and carry it forward, but it also brings along the side story of The Fold and the people who will build that haven. It gives a more complete picture of Adam and Cammy, and picks up the Tale of Billy and Beth, Mike and Candace, and Conner and Katie as they work to sort out their lives.

The Nation: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


Home In The Valley: I-Tunes Building the first and most important settlement, eBook…

Home in the valley concentrates on the building of the first and most important settlement of The Nation. The valley settlement is where the people that run the Nation will come from. They will rise to power and leadership positions across the former United States. In This book the first supply trip out for the Nation nearly turns to disaster, and more of the separate parties will join together and become one under the flag of the Nation.

In this book the seeds of the Fold are sown and the beginnings of Alabama Island are explored through the eyes of the men and women who will found it.
Mike and Candace have left New York in search of the land Billy and Beth swear exists in the former state of Alabama. Their journey will take them across most of the easy coast. They will lose people close to them as they travel, and the fight against the plague that is just beginning to take shape will be bought home to them forcefully in a way they will not forget…

Home in the Valley: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


Plague: I-Tunes. Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead across the country, eBook…

Plague steps back to the first days of the catastrophe that nearly destroyed the world and takes a look behind the scenes at the government and military agencies that were involved in manipulating the data the world received, and developing a virus based drug that would enable soldiers to fight longer, harder, without food or water, even gravely wounded. Although never approved for release, one man took the circumstances and used them to his advantage, justifying the release of the virus worldwide in order to help mankind survive the coming catastrophe. The results of those actions are now being felt everywhere…

Plague: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


Earth’s Survivors: Watertown. Fast paced action in this sixth book! Free Previews…

Major Richard Weston read the report twice and then carefully set it back on his desk. Johns or Kohlson: One of the two had stolen samples of SS-V2765. It was not a question. No one else had the access, no one else the proximity or knowledge of where it was stored. Two of the virus, one each of the REX agents were missing. Enough to infect several million people, and that was just the initial infection. From there the infected would go on to infect even more, where it stopped was anyone’s guess.
Knowing it was one of the two did not solve the problem of how for him though: There should have been no way to get it out. Every area of the facility was under surveillance. There had to be more than just one of the two involved.
From Complex C they were stripped down, showered: Out of the showers naked and into a locker room where they could retrieve their own personal clothing they had stripped out of that morning: Dressed, frisked, metal wanded and then allowed into the elevators that would take them six stories to the surface. This theft was not something either of them could have committed alone…

Watertown: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


Earth’s Survivors: World Order, Book 7. The Last book in the series. Free Previews!

We lost David outside of Arizona. We had been fighting the dead as we traveled, and they seemed to have become less and less. One morning we were searching the remains of a small border town, deserted we thought, when we were suddenly attacked.
The dead had been easy to handle. They seem sickened. Slower, barely there. Like they had contracted some disease that was taking them out. I can not count the times we have come across corpses scattered on the highways or roads. Vacant buildings. It is unnerving. Especially since we do not know why it is. David fell into an old well while he was running. We managed to pull him out hours later, but he was gone. Janna was destroyed: She still is, I really don’t know if she’ll make it.
For the record I would like to say that David’s death is on the shoulders of The Nation: We were not given a choice in our leaving. Since this journal will be part of who we are, will document The Fold as it continues to grow and is established, I want the understanding to be there from the beginning of our creation. They forced us out, simply because we challenged them. They forced us out in the cold of winter with nothing but the clothes on our backs…

World Order: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


The Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume. Get a FREE Preview right now!

The Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume.

Book One: Apocalypse.
Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. Small groups band together for safety, leaving the ravaged cities behind in search of a new future…

Book Two: 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…

Book Three: The Nation.
This part of the story really concentrates on the formation of The Nation and the people who will build it and carry it forward, but it also brings along the side story of The Fold and the people who will build that haven. It gives a more complete picture of Adam and Cammy, and picks up the Tale of Billy and Beth, Mike and Candace, Conner and Katie as they work to sort out their lives.

Book Four: Home The Valley.
Home in the valley concentrates on the building of the first and most important settlement of The Nation. The valley settlement is where the people that run the Nation will come from. They will rise to leadership positions across the former United States. The first supply trip out for the Nation nearly turns to disaster, and more of the separate parties join and become one under the Nation Flag.

Book Five: Plague.
Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead, chronicling the spread across the country. It follows Adam, Beth, Billy and Pearl as they head north looking for an antidote that can bring the plagues to end. It also sees the first babies born to the Nation, the formation of both the Fold and Alabama Island, and the loss of one of the founders of The Nation without whom the Nation may dissolve…

Book Six: Watertown.
Major Weston read the report twice and then carefully set it back on his desk. Johns or Kohlson: One of the two had stolen samples of SS-V2765. It was not a question. No one else had the access, no one else the proximity or knowledge of where it was stored. Two of the virus, one each of the REX agents were missing. Enough to infect several million people, and that was just the initial infection…

Book Seven: World Order.
This book steps back to the beginning to bring you the story of the Fold. Jessie Stone, why and how Snoqualmie settlement came to be. It begins in present day and then falls back in time to the beginning of the Apocalypse. The Fold becomes the biggest challenger to the Nations power. The community that can force the Nation into compromise, or bring a war that may destroy both societies…

All seven books in one collection. Follow the survivors as they struggle to survive in a vastly changed world, where the living are just as likely to kill you as the dead are.
The release of this box set puts the series to an end. I have enjoyed writing it, I hope you have enjoyed reading it, Dell Sweet.

The Box Set: iTunes | Nook | Smashwords


Dell Sweet on…  iTunes | Nook | Smashwords

Humor on many subjects and a free short story Mister Bob

Posted by Geo 07-28-2017

Today is an assortment of humor and a free short story, Mister Bob, at the end. This is all stuff I have written and set aside. There is so much of this sort of stuff that sometimes I wonder how I get any work done at all. Please take it all with a grain of salt, or two, or three…

My Friend Bob.

My friend is a little slow. He called me up and said…

“Listen, I’m really worried.”

“What’s wrong, Bob,” I asked? I was concerned. Must be serious for him to call me.

“Well, I’m concerned about this Trans-vaginal mesh thing on the T.V.,” Bob says.

“Oh… Wife?”

“Huh?”

“Wife had the surgery?”

“You know, I never even thought of that,” Bob says.

“Oh… Mother… Sister?”

“Jesus, now I’m really worried… I was worried about me… That time I had the surgery for the hernia.”

“Um… Okay… So you were worried what, that they used trans-vaginal mesh to repair it?”

“Oh, that’s bad,” Bob says. “I didn’t even think of that… But no… When I went to see that shrink a few years back he told me I had to get in touch with my inner Vagina.”

I choked. I couldn’t help it. “He said that?”

“I think so… The thing is he was saying a lot of shit, I really wasn’t paying attention. Inner feminine side, vagina, something.”

“Okay… Well, is it possible he said inner child? And … Get in touch with your feminine side?”

“Maybe,” Bob allowed. “But you know we are all female in the womb and that means we must have a vagina and that’s what’s got me worried.”

Things on TV that I don’t want to see or hear:

“If you have an erection that lasts more than four hours contact a doctor”

“Less leakage with our pads.”

“Let’s talk about our bums.”

“Hail to the V.”

Important things to consider:

Bears can not wipe their asses at all.

Beavers are really an animal with buck teeth they can cut down trees with. How does that equal a vagina? Oh… never mind.

Groundhogs are really just rodents so you don’t have to listen to anything that they say. Such as, I don’t know, predictions from that fat bastard groundhog in Pennsylvania.

Boogers, there was a time as a child when you considered this food.

Assholes, what if everyone that was an asshole had to look like one? I know, right?

Hamburgers have no ham in them. Is that a lawsuit or what?

Politicians, what if everyone that was an asshole had to look like one? I know, right?

Loose ends

Riddle me this the big Dummy asked: What wind speed would it take to knock a 270 pound Idiot-Man flat on his butt on an icy driveway, while shoveling, in the middle of a blizzard?

You may ask, “Well, what was the idiot doing out there shoveling if it was a blizzard?” But that is self explanatory, he’s an idiot.

You may say, “Shouldn’t he have a Prozac and watch the snow pile up from somewhere safely inside?” But that should also be self explanatory.

Give up? Well, um, apparently all it takes is 16 mph winds from the West. I checked with the weather service after I got up. And although you didn’t ask, I’m fine. Just fine, and bonus, I apparently provided a smashing show for the guy driving by in the green truck. Happy to be of service, Guy in the Green truck…

Tough guy lines

“Hey… Hey, let me have your fucking attention for a moment if I might. Why don’t we do this. Let’s just shut the fuck up and accept what I’m gonna do or else I’ll put a fucking bullet right in your fucking eye… Okay? Are we cool with that?”

“Okay… Okay… I see. You are objecting to the way I’m handling this problem… I got that right, right? You don’t think I’m being fair? Okay. Well then, obviously I gotta make a change. Fair is fair. So why don’t we compromise and do it this way. You’ll have your say and then I’ll do what I was gonna do anyway and you’ll shut the fuck up and quit jabbering about it. That way I don’t gotta shoot you in the fuckin’ knee… Now who says I can’t compromise?”

Things a dolphin might say if a dolphin could talk

1: Please don’t eat me.

2: So, you a fisherman?

3: I hear the Snapper is good.

4: Well, you could take me home… Keep me in one of those little bowls…

Things a dolphin might say if you get them drinking.

1: “So, me and my buddy were over by the coral reef when this huge frickin’ shark cruises in like he owns the place. Well, I says to my friend, let’s just see about that. So…”

2: So, she says to me. “You come here often?” Often, I says. Often? It’s the freakin’ ocean! Whad’ya’mean often!

3: Well I used to be a Loan Shark.

4: Sushi… I mean Susie… Ow! Stop it! Why are you eating me!

Truth in advertising

Used Cat, 2013 model with gray striping. Yellow/green/red/demonic eyes. Very low miles, sleeps all the time. Has claws, poops in the house, does not respect humans, dogs, bugs or pretty much anything else. Has chewed the cords off seven mice and three power supplies, still all in all a very likable cat.

Bad dog. Very cute. Has piddled or pooped in every spot in the house. Dug up garden. Bit mailman and killed neighbors cat. Very affectionate. Cheap. Papers included, newspapers I mean, because he is sure to crap all over your house too.

Microsoft Backup in the old days

Waiting for a backup is like watching paint dry… Nope, the paint is dry and the damn backup is still ongoing. I suppose, as a writer, that I should feel fortunate that I have so much stuff to back up, once upon a time I only had those first few words too. It has said … ‘About Four Minutes Remaining’ … for like twenty minutes now. Oh, what a surprise, I wrote that, went back and checked, and it still says … ‘About four minutes remaining’ … Figures. I do not believe that Microsoft Windows Backup can count. See, I wrote that too and it still says it!!!! ARRRGGGG. Lol. The Backup dilemma, do I have five hours to waste today to do a backup?

Scenes of Elvis I have cut out of books I wrote…

… In a rusty old trailer, in the Palmview Park trailer court, in Miami Florida, a dark haired heavyset man sat at his kitchen table.

The power had been off for days, and the cheap plastic cassette player’s batteries had finally run-down. He had tried to be careful, had tried to only play it occasionally, but they had run-down despite his efforts.

He no longer wore the white leather outfit. He had hardly ever worn it anyway, only occasionally, only when he needed to, when he wanted to remember.

He had put it away two days ago, and he had no intention of ever wearing it again. It hung in the musty closet in his bedroom at the rear of the trailer, and as far as he was concerned it could hang there forever.

He removed the dark sun glasses and rubbed his tired eyes, started to put them back on, and then decided against it. They too had to go. Old stuff. Stuff that wasn’t important any longer, he knew. He ran his fingers through his thick hair, as he carefully set the glasses aside. He had thought of cutting it. Like maybe he should cut it, but he hadn’t been able to do it. In fact, he didn’t want to do it, so he had left it, along with the long graying sideburns. He liked them, they suited him, and he couldn’t let them go. He supposed they looked silly, even made him look older, but he didn’t care. And besides, he thought, he was old. The hair made him feel young, the hair made him remember, and if only for that reason, he wanted to keep it.

He sighed as he stood up from the table, glancing once more at the cheap plastic cassette player. It was time to go, time to leave, and although he didn’t want to go, although he really wanted nothing at all to do with people again, he knew that he had to go.

He had known, just known, when the batteries had finally died, that Florida was about to die too. He had to leave, unless he wanted to die right along with it. He levered the old door open for the last time, and stepped out into the warm morning air.

He took one last look at the rusted and faded trailer, and then set off through the park.

He walked slowly, looking around at the run-down park for the last time as he did, and headed for the marina that was just down the road. He hoped to find a boat of some sort, and leave.

And… Go where? He asked himself.

He pushed the thought away. It didn’t matter where he went, only that he went…

From a later book

… Aaron walked slowly out of the bedroom and into the kitchen area. The music had cut off, and suddenly too. And for just a second there. For just one small second there, he had felt as though the last ten years had slipped away, had been made unreal somehow, and he was back in the run-down trailer in good old Palmview trailer court, in Florida. Which was ridiculous, had to be ridiculous, and even he knew that it was ridiculous, but it had felt that way.

It had, thank God, nothing to do with that though. It was ten years later, he wasn’t in Florida, and everything was… Well, regular. The damn breaker had flipped again.

Ira, had helped set it up, and most of the time it worked just fine, but sometimes  like this time, he thought  it didn’t.

Sometimes when the sun slipped behind a cloud the thing just shut down. And the reason was clear. The electricity was solar, and they had hooked up a battery back-up, but the back-up was shot, kaput, done, finished, the damn thing couldn’t hold a charge more than fifteen minutes on a good day, and the last several day’s had been far from good days. Barely any sunlight  six days running  and it didn’t look as though there would be any real quick.

No big deal, he thought, as he switched off the main breaker, and then reset the one that had tripped. It wasn’t like there were factories just pumping out batteries any longer.

He had come a long way since his days as the king of rock and roll. And, he really had been the king for a while there, even after he died, after he was supposed to be dead, he had still been the king: Still on top, and no one had come along to knock him out of that top spot either.

The Star Reporter had still been doing articles about him ten years ago. ELVIS LIVING AS A VEGETABLE IN BRAZIL, was his favorite.

Really? Please, give it a rest. How much, he wondered now, did they have to pay those people to say those things? Probably, he concluded, as he always did, with a dry chuckle, absolutely nothing. They were glad to say it, needed to say it even, and would say it regardless of whether they were paid or not.

Wouldn’t they be surprised to know that he had really spent those years since he was supposed to have died flipping burgers in a run-down diner on the outskirts of Miami?

No, he decided, that would be too boring to print. They would have never gone for that.

Aaron chuckled once more, and walked back into the bedroom. Ira had stopped by just a few hours before, and invited him over to dinner, no time to think about Slander Sheets now, time only to get ready, and not just for dinner with Cora and Ira. After all, there was some serious business ahead. Very serious, and Ira might not know it yet, but Aaron did, he knew it for a fact. And he also knew, had a feeling really, that this time… This time the king might really die. He might really die, and…

He chuckled once more, an uneasy chuckle, and again began to trim the bushy sideburns that had been one of his trade marks so long ago. It made no difference. Not to him, and most surely it wouldn’t make any to Ira. If it was time, it was time. Life hadn’t been so bad, at the least the last ten years hadn’t, not at all. In fact the last ten years of not being the king, of not living in the shadow of being the king, of not reading all that garbage every day, those years had made all the other years more than worthwhile. If he died so be it, Mamma would be there, and Aron would be there, and he had spoken to Ira about death, so he was no longer afraid of it. It was a known thing now, an understood thing, and if he had to go he would.

The sound of a motor came to him from outside, slightly loud. The exhaust, he knew, was going on Ira’s old truck. It was too dark in here to see all that well anyway without the light. He set down the scissors, and left the bedroom just as a short and feeble-sounding toot came from the truck outside. He could use a new horn too, Aaron thought as he opened the front door and walked to the truck…

A word from turtles

Thousands of turtles are run over each day, while doing nothing more than trying to reach their homes across the busy interstate. This wholesale slaughter can be averted. We are currently working to provide turtle overpasses on many of the nation’s busiest highways. Won’t you give to help this worthy project? Just ten cents a day could save the lives of these poor, unfortunate turtles who are being run down and left for dead as you read this.

For ten cents a day you can give a turtle a safe alternative to reach his home. Won’t you consider it now?


Okay. Hope you found some of that humorous. I am going to leave you with a short story. Before I do that I wanted to let you know that I will be gone a good part of this coming week, possibly into the next week. I have posted concerning that so I won’t reiterate it. I’ll be back as soon as I can with fresh posts and blogs for you. Until then, have a great week, try not to hurt anybody on your way through life. That’s it for me today, Geo.


MISTER BOB

Mister Bob is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet and his asignees

Additional Copyrights © 2010 by Wendell Sweet All rights reserved

Cover Art © Copyright 2015 Wendell Sweet


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

LEGAL

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

This novel is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing construct used by Wendell Sweet. Portions of this text are copyright 2010, and 2011, all rights reserved by Wendell Sweet and his assignees. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s or assignees permission.

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


MISTER BOB

The Middle of the night: Lisa

She awoke suddenly in the darkness of the bedroom. Panic rode tightly in her throat, but nothing in the silence told her anything she needed to know.

The clock read 2:38 AM, green numerals lighting the bedroom in eerie, fairy half light. Spooky light, she decided. It was adding to her sense of something wrong. Would red be better, she wondered. She would pick up a new clock… Make sure it had red numerals.

Don slept on beside her, apparently undisturbed, but the sense of panic, touch of fear, would not leave her.

“Mommy…!” Alandra, sobbing, calling her name. She threw the covers aside and nearly leapt up, out, and to her feet in one motion: The cotton night shirt fell to her knees as she ran for Alandra’s bedroom. Behind her, Don grunted in surprise, but she barely heard him: Her mind had kicked into a higher gear; suddenly working overtime.

…Nightmare?   … Kidnapping? …Killers? … Burglars? … My baby! …

And why is it, she thought, as her mind threw all the worst possibilities at her, that your mind does exactly that? Why?

She pushed it all away as she pushed the bedroom door open to find Alandra sitting up, staring at the closed window that looked out over the back yard.

She reached the bed and gathered Alandra in her arms… “What, baby? … Bad dream?”

“No,” Alandra sobbed. “Not a dream. You have to stop them, Mommy. They were killing Mister Bob… He told me.”

Lisa let her eyes fly quickly to the window, and then flit around the bedroom, alighting here and there, in case there was some wack-job standing in the shadows… Closed window… Tree limbs outlined outside it in moonlight… Closed closet door… She thrust one foot at the darkness under the bed.

“Baby, there’s no one here.” She pulled Alandra’s head away from her breast which was already wet from her tears.

“Honey, Alandra.” She waited until she turned her tear stained face up to her own. “Baby, there’s no one here… See?” She turned her eyes to the empty room.

“Mommy, Mister Bob,” Alandra said. “Look at the window.”

Lisa looked more closely at the window, but saw nothing more. “Honey, are you saying that Mister Bob was at the window?”

Alandra nodded solemnly.

Dan was supposed to take care of getting the tree outside the window trimmed. Lisa had been concerned of just this thing: Someone climbing that tree and having access to Alandra’s bedroom window. A spike of fear lodged directly in Lisa’s heart. “Stay here, baby, okay?”

Alandra nodded once more. Lisa gathered herself, rose from the bed, and went to the window, wishing she had thought to grab her pepper spray. Better yet, her mind supplied, Don’s 9 mm. The window was closed, but the thumb lock was off. She eased up next to the window, holding herself in the shadows, and scanned the back yard. … Nothing … The bedroom door opened suddenly and she turned quickly, her heart hammering hard against her rib-cage.

“Whatzit?” Dan asked.

“Jesus, Dan,” Lisa said. One hand went to her throat.

“Sorry…” He turned to Alandra. “What’s wrong, honey-pie?”

“She said someone was at the window,” Lisa supplied.

“Christ,” Dan muttered. He walked across to the window: A big man who moved fast. His eyes scanned the yard.

“Well… I don’t see anyone now,” he said.

“I don’t either, but I thought…”

He nodded. “Tomorrow morning, noon at the latest. It’s spring… He’s backed up.” Dan shrugged helplessly. “I’ve been on him, Lissy. I have.”

“Dan.”

He held up a hand. “Or I’ll take the day off and do it myself… Promise… I’ll call him in the morning before I leave.” He sighed.

Lisa yawned.

“Honey, you want to sleep with Mommy and Daddy,” Dan asked?

“Uh, uh. What if Mister Bob comes back?” Alandra asked.

“Mister Bob?” Dan asked.

“He told her that was his name,” Lisa said.

“Were you dreaming, honey?” Dan asked.

“She wasn’t dreaming, Dan,” Lisa warned.

“Well… Cops… Should we?”

“There’s nobody… What do you say exactly? No… Just make sure it can’t happen again,” Lisa finished.

“Okay… Okay.” He turned back to Alandra. “Come on, honey. Sleep with Mommy and Daddy tonight. Tomorrow we’ll make sure Mister Bob can’t wake you up in the middle of the night again.”

“Mommy will stay in here with you,” Lisa countered.

Alandra nodded.

Dan looked from Alandra to Lisa. Lisa shrugged.

Dan frowned and then turned and left the bedroom. A few minutes later he was back.

“Here,” he said as he handed Lisa her pillow. His own pillow and a wad of blankets were tucked under his other arm

“We’ll have a camp out,” Dan said. He looked at the floor, yawned deeply and then spread out the blankets and tossed the pillow to the floor.

Alandra giggled as Lisa climbed into the narrow bed and pulled her close.

~

Dan was already softly snoring and Lisa was sure that Alandra was sleeping too. Her own thoughts were getting farther and farther away from her. Her mind free falling into the spiral of sleep when Alandra whispered.

“Mister Bob is my friend, mommy.”

She came up from the edge of sleep just that fast.

“He talks to me every night.”

Lisa pulled her closer. “When, baby?” she whispered back.

“All kinds of times… Sometimes when I’m awake, sometimes he wakes me up. He’s not mean, mommy. He’s my friend.”

“But, baby, a man shouldn’t be climbing a tree to talk to you,” Lisa told her.

“But he doesn’t, mommy. He’s already there. Mister Bob is a tree. My tree.”

“Oh, baby… A tree? The tree in the back yard?”

Alandra yawned. “Uh huh. My friend, Mister Bob.”

Lisa nodded.

“He talks to me… He said… He said, they’re going to kill me, sissy. Don’t let them kill me.”

Lisa’s heart leapt in her chest. Sissy had been Alandra’s nickname until she had discovered that she liked her real name better in Kindergarten and had solemnly told she and Dan not to call her Sissy anymore. Lisa yawned in spite of herself. She pulled Alandra closer. Maybe it had been a dream after all.

“He calls you Sissy?”

“I told him I’m not a baby.” She yawned again and the rest of what she said was lost as she began to drift into sleep.

The fear that had been rising in Lisa’s heart bled out just that quick. Her own lack of sleep caught up to her. She yawned too, and a few seconds later she drifted down into sleep thinking about talking trees that spoke to little girls and called them by their nicknames.

Morning:

She heard the alarm from her own bedroom. Dan had turned over, pulled the covers over his head and balled the pillow up under his head. He slept on, oblivious. She recalled a dream of her own. Must have been after all that had happened, she thought. She had dreamed that she had awoken briefly to hear Alandra holding a conversation with Mister Bob. Something like, “I told her… She’ll make sure you’re okay.” And the impression of another voice. Deep, resonant. She couldn’t understand it. A weird dream provoked, no doubt, by what had happened earlier and what Alandra had told her. She looked down into Alandra’s sleep eyes.

“Want to sleep a little longer, honey?” Lisa asked her.

Alandra nodded.

Lisa kissed her forehead, got out of bed and then tucked her back in. She turned to Dan.

“Do you want to sleep in a little longer too, honey,” She asked.

The wad of blankets surrounding his head nodded.

“Well, you don’t get to sleep in. Come one. Get up.”

Dan groaned. He struggled briefly with the wad of tangled blankets that surrounded his head. Alandra looked over the edge of the bed and giggled. Lisa looked at her.

“You’re not going back to sleep are you.”

“Nope,” Alandra agreed.

“Well come on then. We’ll get breakfast and coffee going while Daddy gets his shower.”

Late Morning:

Lisa shifted through her email: Nothing too pressing. She closed the browser and popped open her scripting editor. She worked for the next three hours straight after she had gotten Alandra off to school. The website she was writing a script for was nearly done. She had written the site, incorporated the graphic elements, and was finishing up the scripting that would load the cart system for the site and control purchases. She had one small script to write yet, and a few graphics to tweak and that would be it. She reached for her coffee cup, found it was empty, and headed for the kitchen.

She had just poured the coffee when she heard the sudden roar of a chainsaw. She knew the sound. She heard it often enough in the spring and fall, but it was close. Much closer than it should be, and that rattled her. She took a deep sip from her coffee, set it down on the counter, and headed for the back door, glancing through the windows as she went: Two men she didn’t know were in her backyard.

At first it alarmed her and then she realized they must be there to trim the tree. She levered open the rear door and popped her head out anyway. They both looked over and nodded.

The bigger one held the chainsaw in his hand. A bigger saw than the models she had seen used for yard work. Somewhere, probably in the garage, they had one of the small ones tucked away for just-in-case themselves.

She smiled. “Here to trim the branch?” It made her blush. She felt a little foolish asking, but the saw was huge. Maybe they were at the wrong house… Wrong job… Something.

“The tree, miss,” the smaller man answered over the roar of the chainsaw.

The smile left her face. The words Alandra had said the night before surfaced on their own but she couldn’t quite get them. Something like, Mister Bob was her friend… A tree… This tree, in fact, and they were going to kill him… Trying to kill him

“The branch,” she said.

“Uh, uh,” the small one said. He pulled a notebook from his breast pocket, studied it. “Danny said… Danny said take the whole thing.”

“Well that just can’t be right,” Lisa informed him.

“Well, miss. I got it right here in black and white.” The big one was revving up the chainsaw and looking at the big tree with something like desire on his face.

“Well, see, I give Danny a good price, ’cause we’ll just cut this son-of-a-whore-tree…” He seemed to remember that he was talking to Lisa, met her eyes and blushed deep red. He turned away. He continued after a few seconds of silence.

“This ol’ tree, we’ll cut her up for firewood,” the bigger man continued. He had let the chainsaw fall to a rough, popping idle as they talked. From the kitchen came the ringing of the telephone.

“Excuse me,” Lisa said. She turned to go and then turned back just a quickly. “I’ll have to call Dan… Maybe that’s him. It’s only the limb though, not the tree.” She turned and headed for the back door.

The phone stopped ringing just before she reached it. She cursed under her breath, picked up her coffee, sipped at it, then picked up the handset, punched in Dan’s number.

The house phone was something that their friends considered an oddity and she considered a necessity. She liked it. She had a cellphone she rarely ever used. She had no real reason to. Her cell phone dislike wasn’t part of some strange phobia, it was just a habit she had never developed. She was a stay at home mom, what did she need a cellphone for, she asked her friends when the chided her about it. Secretly she hated it. More truthfully, she knew, she loathed it. It was something akin to being tracked everywhere you went. She had tried one for a year and that was how it made you feel. You didn’t have to slip it in your pocket, but you did. You didn’t have to answer it in the super market, but you did. While driving, while gardening, she had even tentatively answered it once when she had been in the bathroom.

That had been it for her. The cell phone had gone in a drawer, and the next time she had been at the big shopping center she had bought a wall phone with a built in answering machine. She had bugged Dan to get the house phone put in and things had been perfect. Calls went to the machine: If she felt like answering she did. But she didn’t rush to answer. She didn’t buy a portable phone to add to the line. She liked it the way it was.

Smooth silence greeted her on the line, then it clicked and a voice was in her ear.

“Hello? … Hello?”

“Hello?” Lisa answered.

“Miss Stevens?” A voice asked.

“Yes.”

“That’s so weird… It never rang… Just sounded as though a number was being punched in,” the voice said.

“You must have been there when I picked up to dial,” Lisa said. “Sorry.”

“No… No, it’s okay… Miss Stevens, this is Ms Edwards… Joan Edwards?” Alandra’s teacher.

“Is something wrong?” Lisa heard the panic as it jumped into her voice, but she couldn’t have stopped it if she had wanted to.

“No… No, but, well, Alandra’s upset… Very upset. I’ve honestly never seen her like this… She wants to talk to you… About Mister Bob? I know her father’s name is Daniel, and the explanation about Mister Bob is hard to understand… She”s upset of course, but whoever this Mister Bob is, she believes…”

“Someone is going to hurt him?” Lisa supplied.

“Well, yes… Her words were stronger.”

“Kill?” Lisa asked. Her words seemed forced, her heart hammered right at the back of her throat, fast, hot, her tongue was dry and hard to move.

“That was it… I know it’s unusual, but I’m here in the principle’s office…, She’s quite upset.”

“Put her on? Put her on,” Lisa told her. “Baby? Alandra?” The sound of Alandra’s sobbing came to her. “Baby, what’s wrong…? What about Mister Bob?” She was getting more than a little freaked out. Two men had come to cut down her imaginary friend the tree. But there was no way she could know that, was there?

“Mommy, they came to kill Mister Bob.” Lisa only understood it because she was listening for it. Otherwise, it was just broken sobs and syllables. In the backyard the chainsaw revved up to a high whine.

“Honey, they won’t cut down Mister Bob.”

“Kill, mommy, kill.”

“Kill… They won’t kill Mister Bob. They won’t kill Mister Bob… I promise.”

“Mommy, I want to come home, mommy. I want to. I want to see Mister Bob!” She sobbed even harder. The phone clattered and the teacher was back on the line.

“Miss Steven’s, I don’t know…”

“Ms Edwards… Ms Edwards I’m coming to pick her up. I’ll explain when I get there, but I’ll come to pick her up.”

“Well if you think…”

“I do… Thank you so much, Ms Edwards.” The phone was back on the hook before the teacher answered, and Lisa was palming the back door open. The big guy was getting ready to cut a notch into the tree. She waved her arms and yelled at the smaller guy who tapped the bigger guy on the shoulder. He seemed to hesitate, then he turned to face Lisa. She motioned impatiently at the saw: Reluctantly he shut it off.

“Did I say you’re not cutting down my goddamn tree?”

“Miss… The mister said…”

“I don’t care what the mister said. The tree stays.”

“Miss,” the big one soothed. “It’ll be quick. I’m insured if that’s what you’re worried about. Let me take this ‘ol bitch down and get it over.”

“It’s a he,” Lisa said.

“What?”

“A… Never mind. You’re not cutting down my tree… Are you really standing here on my property arguing with me about my own goddamn tree?” She took a few steps toward him and he stepped back, flinching as he did, despite the fact that he was easily twice her size.

“Miss,” he started, but the smaller one patted him on the arm. He turned, paused, and finally seemed to realize he would not be cutting down the tree after all. “We’ll be going,” he said after a long period of silence.

Lisa didn’t wait. She walked back into the house and was backing her Honda out of the driveway before the two men had finished loading up their truck.

Late Evening:

Lisa popped her head into Alandra’s room, but she was fast asleep. Dan looked over the top of her head.

“Okay?” He asked.

Lisa nodded, closed the door a little farther and then followed Dan down the darkened hallway to their own room.

“A talking tree,” Dan said, not quite laughing as he changed for bed.

“She believed it… Believes it… I can’t cut down her tree.”

Dan shrugged. “Willy and Timmy were pissed off.”

“So was I.” Lisa said.

“I heard.” He held up his hands. “Not that you didn’t have a right to be… I should have told you. I made a deal to just take down the tree. I figured I’d just end up trimming the thing for years… It’s a bad place… But, if it stays, it stays.”

“I didn’t say the tree talked to me,” Lisa said.

“I know,” Dan agreed.

“I feel a little defensive.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t?”

“Don’t… It’s over.”

“Would you have done the same thing?”

“Are you kidding? Nandie crying on the phone? I would have run them both out of the yard.” He sighed.

Lisa smiled. “Okay, that made me feel better.” She reached for the light, casting the bedroom in half light from the glow of the red numerals on the clock. Dan noticed but said nothing.

“I didn’t like the other clock,” Lisa said.

He pulled her close. “Okay,” he agreed. “Red’s good.”

“Baby,” Lisa pulled back and looked up into his eyes. “Do you think, well, do you think trees can …”

“Talk,” Dan supplied.

“No, I was going to say feel pain… Weird, right?”

“Well, they’re alive, aren’t they? But pain? I don’t know… Are you serious?”

“Well, Alandra was so upset… So hurt and…”

“It was a bad dream. You know how a dream can seem at that age. Like everything… Real. Completely real to a kid.”

“You think?”

“I think,” Dan soothed. He pulled her closer.

Lisa snuggled her head into his chest, meaning only to close her eyes for a few moments, but she drifted off into sleep instead.

Late Night:

“Sissy…” Softly on the wind…

Alandra’s eyes opened in the darkness of her bedroom.

“Mister Bob,” she whispered. She sat up and looked to the window, got out of bed and walked over quietly raising the window a little. She sat down on the floor and looked up at the branches that were only a few feet outside the window. The blue-gray moon floated above the limbs far above the tree. The name came again on the wind. Softly… Barely there.

“Sissy…”

She smiled. “Mister Bob,” she whispered once more…


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Geo Dell’s The Nation Chronicles Fan Fiction series

Geo Dell’s The Nation Chronicles Fan Fiction series

A free preview of Geo Dell’s The Nation Chronicles: Death


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Geo Dell’s The Nation Chronicles: Death © Copyright 2017 Geo Dell

This excerpt is NOT edited for content


Project Bluechip: Watertown, NY

Complex C: Patient Ward

Test Subject: Clayton Hunter

Compound SS-V2765

Gabe Kohlson moved away from the monitors. “Heart rate is dropping, don’t you think…” He stopped as the monitor began to chime softly: Before he could get fully turned around the chiming turned into a strident alarm that rose and fell. “Dammit,” Kohlson said as he finished his turn.

“What is it,” David Johns wheeled his chair across the short space of the control room. His outstretched hands caught him at the counter top and slowed him at Kohlson’s monitor.

“Flat lined,” Kohlson said as he pushed a button on the wall to confirm what the doctor’s one level up already knew. Clayton Hunter was dead.

“I see it,” Doctor Ed Adams replied over the ceiling speakers. The staff called him Doctor Christmas for his long white beard and oversize belly. “Berty and I are on the way.”

“Lot of good that will do,” Johns muttered.

Kohlson turned to him. “Go on in… Do CPR if you want… They don’t pay me enough to do it. I don’t know what that shit is. Look at the way the Doc suits up. Clayton Hunter will be in rigor before anyone gets in there at all.”

“No argument,” Johns said. He wheeled back to his own monitor, called up an incident sheet and began to type.

“Me too,” Kohlson agreed. “Preserve the video, med and monitor data.” He punched a few buttons on his console and an interface for the medical equipment came up. He saved the last 48 hours of data, and then began to fill out his own incident report. These reports might never be seen by more than one person, maybe two if you counted the person that wrote it, Kohlson thought, but it would always be there. Classified: Top secret for the next hundred years or so. And he wondered about that too. Would it even be released after a long period? He doubted it. The shit they were doing here was bad. Shit you didn’t ever want the American public to know about. This incident report, along with the one Johns was doing, would probably get buried deep under some program listing that no one would ever suspect to look into. Or, maybe, it would get burned right along with Clayton Hunter’s body. He glanced up at the clock and then went back to typing.

“Uh… Call it 4:32 PM?” He asked.

“Works for me,” Johns agreed.

“I got 94 for the body,” Johns said.

“Yeah… Yeah, me too. That’s a fast drop, but we both got the same thing. 94 it is… No heart, no respiratory, dead as dog shit.”

“Dog shit,” Johns agreed. They both fell silent as they typed. A few moments later the doors to the observation room chimed, the air purifiers turned on with a high pitched whine, and they could both feel the air as it dragged past them and into the air ducts. The entire volume would be replaced and the room depressurized and then re-pressurized before the doors would open. And that would only happen after the air was tested and retested. A good twenty minutes away before anyone would step foot into the room with Clayton Hunter.

Complex C, Autopsy Room

Ed Adams and Roberta Summers had dissected Clayton Hunter’s body methodically. The autopsy had been painstaking. It had to be, it was recorded in detail and some General somewhere, hell, maybe even the president, would be looking that video over in the next few days: Maybe even watching live now. They had that capability. There was nothing to see. He had suffered a major heart attack. The heart had a defect. No history: One of those things that just came along and fucked up your two billion dollar research project all at once.

“Coronary Thrombosis,” He spoke in a measured voice. “It appears to be after the fact. The artery looks to be mildly occluded… The myocardial infarction appears to be caused from a congenital defect… Specifically an Atrial Septal Defect… Berty?”

“I concur. Easily overlooked. The lack of sustenance put a higher demand on the subject’s heart; the defect became a major player at that point… Bad luck for us.”

“Uh, bad luck for Clayton Hunter,” Ed Adams added.

“Of course. Bad luck for the subject, Clayton Hunter. I simply meant bad luck for a research volunteer to be defective in such a way that in effect it would compromise a project of this magnitude so badly.” She turned her eyes up to one of the cameras she knew to be there. “This in no way paints a true picture of V2765. We should proceed, unsatisfying as these circumstances might be, we should proceed with subjects 1120F and 1119X… Same compound.” She turned back to the corpse on the table. “You want me to do the brain biopsy,” She asked Ed.

Ed frowned as he made eye contact with her. They had decided, at least he had thought they had decided, not to mention brain biopsies. Three times now he had discussed the importance of not focusing on the changes that V2765 made to the brain. Anything that altered the brain could alter financing, funding, lab time. Even the government didn’t like changes to brain matter.

“Are you thinking there could have been an embolism?” He asked.

‘Well I,” she sputtered away for a second before Ed rescued her.

“I think all we would see is evidence of the embolism that occurred near the heart. We could search out areas of the body and most likely find more than one occurrence of embolism. Well thought, but I believe we will take a look at the brain later in the week. Right now I want to focus on the enzymes, proteins, blood work and readying the other two for a conclusion of this trial.”

“Yes, I agree entirely,” Doctor Adams.

“You have your samples?”

“Yes of course, Doctor… Rex?”

Ed frowned hard and shrugged his shoulders in the direction of the thick glass. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “None down here… That was stupid, Berty.”

“What was that,” Kohlson asked Johns in the control room.

“What?” Johns asked.

“That… Whisper, I guess,” Kohlson said.

“Oh… That. You know those two got it bad for each other. Probably making little remarks you don’t want to hear. Besides which, you make a report on that and we all have to deal with it: Them, sure, but us too because the bosses will be pissed off about it. Best to let that shit slide: If the boss wants to know he will. He looks at all of this shit in depth.”

Kohlson looked about to say more when Doctor Christmas began talking once more in the autopsy room.

“Let’s close him up,” Ed Adams said. He stepped on a switch set into the floor, paused, and then spoke again. “Lower the air temperature in here. We intend to keep him a few hours while we attend to other parts of the autopsy… No one in here for any reason.”

Out in the control room Johns keyed his mic button. “Will do… How low, Doc.?”

“I guess about 34 Fahrenheit will do… Just to slow it all down for a while.”

“Done,” Johns agreed. He adjusted a temperature graphic on a nearby monitor via his mouse.

Kohlson leaned over across the short distance. “So we got to look at that shit for a while? Great.”

“They’re gonna sew him up, so it won’t be so bad.”

“Yeah… That’s like; I got a mild case of flu. It’s still gonna suck, because every time I look anywhere I’m gonna feel compelled to look at it.”

“Yeah, me too. It’s there. It draws you to it. Like the Bunny on the Playboy Cover. You look at the rest of the magazine, but you know you’re gonna end up looking at her. She’s the reason you bought the magazine after all.”

Kohlson nodded and smiled. “And I’d rather look at Miss January than a dead guy with big stitches across his belly and over his chest, sewing him back up again. That is some ugly shit.”

Johns laughed. “But you look anyway… Human nature. Why do you think people slow down and look at accidents?”

“’Cause we’re morbid mother fuckers,” Kohlson agreed.

“Well, that too, but it is that fascination with death we have. Look,” He pointed at the monitor. Do you think Clayton Hunter knew he’d be laying on a steel slab this afternoon, dick hanging out, with Doctor Christmas shoving his guts back in and stitching him up with his nursey assisting?” They both laughed and turned away.

“She ain’t half…”

A scream cut off the conversation and both men turned quickly back to the monitor.

Clayton Hunter was sitting up on the steel table. Arms drooped at his side: Mouth yawning. Doctor Christmas had backed away until he had met the wall behind him. Nurse Berty was nowhere to be seen.

“What the fuck… What the fuck. Get a camera on the floor… Maybe she fainted,” Kohlson said.

“Got it,” Johns agreed. He stabbed at the keys on his keyboard and a view of the table at an angle appeared. Nurse Bertie’s leg could be seen, angled away from the table, skirt hiked high. The camera paused briefly and then the view began to shift as Johns manipulated the camera angle. Her face came into view: Mouth open, blood seeping from one corner.

“Doctor,” Kohlson called over the speaker system. Outside the airlocks had clicked on and the air was cycling. Good, he thought, in twenty minutes the Calvary would be here. “Doctor Adams?”

The doctor finally took his eyes off Clayton Hunter and turned toward one of the cameras. On the table Clayton Hunter leaned forward and tumbled off the edge of the table. At the same instant the air purifier quit cycling and three armed men in gas masks stepped into the airlock.

“Jesus,” Johns sputtered. “You guys can’t do that shit. That air has to be worked?” Three more men stepped through the lock and the door to the autopsy room opened as well as the door to the control room. A split second later the rifles in their hands began to roar. The sound was louder than Kohlson expected in the enclosed space. He clasped his hands over his ears, but it did little good. The soldiers, he saw, were wearing ear protection of some sort: Noise canceling headgear. The remaining three soldiers had stepped into the control room, he saw as he looked back up from the floor. They kept their rifles leveled at them; the others were still firing within the confines of the small autopsy room. A small gray cloud was creeping along the floor and rolling slowly into the control room. The stench of gunpowder was strong in the enclosed space. The air purifiers were off. Kohlson knew there was another control room outside this one that controlled this space, and possibly another outside of that space that controlled that space. Built in protection; it was clear that they were in a very bad space.

Kohlson saw Clayton Hunter lurch to his feet and stumble into the soldiers who were firing at point blank range in the tight confines. A series of bullets finally tore across his chest and then into his head and he fell from view. A second late the firing dropped off and then stopped completely.

Johns was listening to the sound of his own heart hammering for a space of seconds before he figured out it was his own. The smell of gunpowder was nauseating, and he suddenly lunged forward and vomited on his shoes. As he was lifting his head he saw that the soldiers were retreating back through the airlocks and into the outer spaces of the compound.

“Jesus,” Kohlson managed before he too bent forward and vomited. They heard the air filtering kick back on as both of them rolled away from the puddles of vomit and quickly disappearing low, gray vapor from the rifles firing. The doors into the autopsy room suddenly banged shut and then their own door whispered closed as well: Once again they were isolated in their small space.

They both sat silent for a moment and then Kohlson left and returned from the small bathroom with a mop and bucket from the utility closet there. He left and returned with a bottle of disinfectant and sprayed down the vomit and the balance of the small room.

“That won’t do shit,” Johns said solemnly. We’re infected. Whatever they infected that guy Hunter with, we got it now.

Kohlson ignored him, waited the ten minutes for the disinfectant to work and then cleaned up the mess. Neither spoke while he returned the equipment to the small closet and then came back and sat down.

“You heard me, right?”

“I heard you,” Kohlson admitted. “I just don’t give a fuck… It’s too fresh… I can’t believe it right now.” He looked up at the clock. “Mother fucker… I was off duty in twenty minutes… Twenty goddamn minutes!” He spun and looked at Johns, but Johns was looking up at the monitors that were still on in the autopsy room. The smoke was being drawn out by the air exchange, and the horror of the room was slowly coming into focus.

Doctor Adams lay sprawled in one corner, a line of bullet holes stitched across his back. The back portion of his skull was missing, jagged bone and gray-black hair clumped wildly around the fractured bone. Johns gagged and looked away.

“Jesus… They killed everybody,” Kohlson said as he continued to watch. Nurse Bertie lay where she had fallen. Only her legs visible in the shot they could see. Clayton Hunter lay against the end of the stainless slab, his head a shapeless mass: The stitches across his chest and stomach bulging. Kohlson finally turned away too.

“They’re coming back for us.” Johns said.

Kohlson spun to the door.

“Not now, stupid ass, but you can’t think we get to live after that. They contaminated our air. We’re dead. No way are we not dead.”

Kohlson said nothing.

~

It was six hours before the soldiers came. They had finally taken a better look at the room. Johns moving the camera around as Kohlson watched.

“Dave… Tell me I’m wrong, but that fucker came back to life, right?” He was unsure even as he said it.

Johns shrugged. “I think what happened is they missed something… We missed something. Maybe a lead came off. You know, and the lead came off and so he seemed dead and he wasn’t dead at all, not really, he was still alive… Just that lead was off.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, I mean… I mean the alternative is that he came back to life… You don’t think that do you? I mean, do you? Cause that’s fucking crazy, Gabe… Crazy.”

“No. No, I can see what you mean I can see where…”

The air lock cycled on and six soldiers stepped into the hall like space that was actually just an airlock between the control room, the autopsy room, the former patient ward and the outside world. Johns tensed, waiting for the door to their space to cycle on, but it didn’t.

The soldiers were dressed head to toe in army drab plastic coveralls. Respirators, big units, sat on their backs and a full face shield and breathing apparatus covered their faces, somehow joined into the coveralls. Tape was wound around the elastic cuffs of the legs and the plastic boot covers that joined there. Flexible olive-green gloves covered their hands, also taped where they slipped under the plastic coveralls. They never looked their way at all, just waited for the air lock to cycle and then stepped into the autopsy room. A second later the monitors went dead in the control room.

“Fuck,” David Johns said. “That is not good at all.”

Kohlson got up and left the room. A minute later he was back with two diet colas. He handed one to David johns and then sat back down. Johns glanced down at the cola. The top was open already. He looked at Kohlson and Kohlson stared back unblinking. The med supplies cabinet was also in that closet. They had talked it over once. They had decided that… He pushed it away and focused on the low whisper of the air exchange

“You think they will outright kill us,” Kohlson asked after a few long minutes of silence.

“Gabe… I think they will, Gabe.” Johns said after a hesitation. He tried to stop himself, but he glanced down at the cola in his hand. It was half full. White powder floated on the surface. Clumped and drifting like tiny icebergs across a cola sea. “Probably… No. They’re listening in right now, I’m sure. Listening to see where our minds are at: As soon as those flunkies in there are finished with that job they’ll be in here to finish up the clean up.” He swallowed hard.

“Yeah, I guess that’s how I see it too,” Kohlson agreed. He raised his can and tapped the side. “Been good knowing you, Dave.”

Johns stared him down for a few moments and then sighed. “Yeah… Same here.” He raised the can in a salute and then downed it. Kohlson followed suit. Silence descended on the control room.

12:30 am

New York

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 tobacco’s, 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 rest-stop

Outside Watertown New York

1:00 am

A 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 would have to talk to someone in Columbia… Or maybe Mexico, he told himself now as he sat waiting in his Lexus, but it seemed that since Rich Dean had got himself dead the deals just seemed to be getting larger and larger. And who knew how much longer that might last. 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 a 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. The boss is 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.

Once 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 and then took the elevator back down into the depths.

~

The Bluechip 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 from 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 a meteor 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 Mike 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. Her shoulder seemed a little puffy on one side… Padded unevenly: Probably injured, Sammy thought: Even so, he had no doubt she could still 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 those 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 always were, 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 meteor 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 cartridges. Each had a 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 small quakes, but the big stuff is on the way.”

“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 meteor 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 cartridges are a compound developed right here in this complex 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. He picked up the two cartridges; holding them between thumbs and forefingers, rolling them back and forth.

“A few months ago this facility… I fucked up and allowed several vials of the virus to be stolen… The people responsible have been dealt with, but the damage was done.

“Shortly after that theft we began getting credible stories of contamination in Brazil… Nothing else anywhere else, but it doesn’t matter. This virus is tenacious, it will spread from Brazil to the entire world and it will just be a matter of time. The upper ups read those reports from Brazil and believe this may be the last hope for mankind if it is released now… In time to save the world… Before the end comes… So, accidental… Purposeful, I don’t know what that theft and contamination was meant to be, but it tipped the scales and now the entire world is going to be let in on it.” He sighed deeply and rolled the cartridges across the desktop; Sammy and John caught them.

“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 cartridges 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 cartridge to infect about five hundred million people,” Weston said quietly.

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

“Minimum, three billion. That is before those infected pass it along: 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. Eighty-Nine point seven percent infection rate, but that doesn’t really matter because it infects people close to you and those people will infect you… Sneezing, waste, sex, water, food, it gets into and on everything. And once it is in you, either orally or via bloodstream you will be infected. The human body has nothing to fight it, no reason to be alarmed or believe it’s anything more than a virus. And that same response will help to carry it to every area of the body as your own defenses manufacture white blood cells to fight it. So you may as well say a one hundred percent infection rate.” He paused and rubbed at his temples.

“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 hotly debated,” 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 cartridges, “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. The Air Force will be dispersing the same stuff via cargo planes tomorrow or the next day… As long as they can fly, if we can even make it that long, and that isn’t looking really good right now…” 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 overly 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…


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