America the Dead: Survivors Stories One. Episode 4

America the Dead: Survivors Stories One

 Copyright © 2018 W. G. Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 W. G. Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 W. G. 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.


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


Watertown New York

Project Bluechip

Pearl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“English?” The woman asked.

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

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

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

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

“Badly scraped up?” Pearl asked.

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

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

Watertown

Franklin Street

Roux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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America the Dead: Survivors Stories One. Episode 3

America the Dead: Survivors Stories One

 Copyright © 2018 W. G. Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 W. G. Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 W. G. 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.


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


Watertown New York

Project Bluechip

11:00 P.M.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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America the Dead: Survivors Stories One-Free episode 1

America the Dead: Survivors Stories One

 Copyright © 2018 W. G. Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 W. G. Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 W. G. 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.


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


ONE

March 1st

Watertown New York

Off Factory Square: Joel Morrison

5:00 PM

Joel sat at the bar and watched football on one of the big screen TV’s Mort had put in. It was a slow game, he was tired, and his mind kept turning to other things. He couldn’t concentrate. Part of the allure of the Rusty Nail was the quiet. After a 12 hour shift at the mill with the constant noise from the huge machinery, the quiet had been nice. But that had all changed once the bar had become popular with the nearby base. He needed to go home. The crowd in the bar was starting to build and the noise was giving him the beginnings of a headache. He caught Mort’s eye and went back to his thoughts as he waited.

The Rusty Nail had always been a locals only bar up until a few years back when the economy had taken a nose dive. The nail was wedged up a side street off Factory square. Not exactly easy to find, and that had hurt business too as the old people left and the new people came in.

Mort, Mortimer to anybody that felt like being tossed out on their ass, had nearly lost the small bar and the building above it to the bank. The building above it had six small apartments that Mort had purposely left empty when he had bought the building fresh out of the service thirty years back. Who wanted to deal with tenants, he had said then. But times changed, and so he had sold his house, moved himself into one of the apartments, and then sold the bank on remortgaging the whole building as well as renovating the other five apartments. The bank had come up with a loan that took all of that into account and added a second income source from the apartments that could pay the monthly mortgage and put a good chunk of change into his pocket too.

He had signed on the x, taken their money, renovated the building, moved in the tenants and then taken a hard look at the Rusty Nail. He had decided to completely gut the bar and do it over. He had dumped far too much into the renovations though, including being closed for nearly a full month, and then opened it to find that the economy had taken an even deeper nose dive during those nearly thirty days. The third month into the new mortgage and he had found that he was maybe in a bad spot already.

Joel remembered now that he had sat right at the end of the bar when Mort had talked it over with some others, Moon Calloway, Johnny Barnes, Jim Tibbets, Joel had been welcome to include his two cents which he had declined to do.

“Well, what you do is put the word out to those cab drivers. Believe me, I’ve seen it. They will have them soldiers down here in no time, even if you are off the beaten path,” Jim had said. Jim was a school bus driver for the north side district and less than a year away from a fatal car accident on the interstate. Jeff Brown, who had been a local football star, was doing ten years up at Clinton Correctional for hitting Jim’s car head on drunk and killing him. But that night Jim had still been alive and had wanted to be a part of the New Rusty Nail that Mort had in mind. Something a little more modern. Modern bought the soldiers, but more importantly it also bought women.

“I’m not paying a cab driver to bring me G.I.’s,” Mort had said. “And I know your game. You’re just hoping to get laid out of it.”

They had all laughed at that, except Jim who had turned red. But after a few seconds he had laughed too, and the conversation had plodded forward the way bar conversations do.

“Well, you ain’t got to pay them exactly, give them a couple beers,” Moon threw in.

“Jesus Christ,” Mort exclaimed. “That’s why you boys ain’t in business. You think the beer is free.”

“I know it ain’t free, Mort,” Jim said. “But it don’t cost you that much. You get it wholesale.”

“Wholesale? I drive right out to that wholesale club and buy it by the case most of the time just like everybody else. Cheaper than them beer guys, except draft, of course. That ain’t free. You got to pay the yearly club fee. You got to pay them taxes to the feds. You got a lot you got to pay for. Some fuck crushes your can you’re fucked for that nickle. Jesus… wholesale my ass. It ain’t no bargain.”

“Yeah? … Let’s see,” Moon starting writing in the air with his finger. You get it for let’s say six bucks a case, I know that cause that’s what I pay out there too. So six bucks divided by 24 is,” he drew in the air for a few moments, erased it, and then started over. “How the fuck do you do that, Joey… The six goes into the twenty-four? Or times the twenty-four?” Moon asked.

“Uh, it’s a quarter a can,” I had supplied.

The argument had raged on from there. Once Moon found out he was paying a buck fifty for a can of beer that only cost a quarter he was pissed off.

In the end Mort had talked to a couple of cab drivers. Free draft beer one night a week if they bought soldiers by all week long and told as many others as possible about the place. Within two weeks Joel hadn’t recognized the place when he had come by after shift to have a couple of beers. The soldiers drank a lot of beer, the bank mortgage got paid, and life was fine. Except for the fights, Joel thought, but you can’t load young guys up on alcohol and not expect trouble. Especially when those young men were just waiting on the word to go and maybe die in another battle that remained undeclared as a war. High stress levels meant heavy duty unloading. The M.P.’s got to know the place as well as the soldiers did.

“Joel, you ready?” Mort asked now.

Joel smiled. “I was thinking back…” He had to shout to be heard. Tomorrow his voice would be hoarse. “This place was empty! … Yeah… One more then I gotta go,” Joel agreed.

Mort leaned closer. “Gov’ment tit. I know it, but screw it. It’s all the Gov’ment tit. Road and Bridge projects. Job centers. One way or the other it comes out the same. Even them subsidies so the paper mills can still run. It’s all the Gov’ment tit, ain’t it, Joel?”

“Its is,” Joel shouted. He nodded. It was. This town would have dried up years ago without it. Mort left and then came back a few moments later with a fresh beer.

“Vacation?” Mort yelled.

Joel nodded. “Two weeks of silence,” He shook his head at the irony and Mort’s laughing agreement was drowned out by the noise.

“If I don’t see you, have a good one,” Mort said leaning close.

Joel nodded. “I will.” He raised his glass and then tossed off half of it. A few moments later he was outside on the relatively quiet sidewalk punching numbers into his phone, calling for a cab. The night was cold, but the cold sobered him up. It seemed nearly capable of washing away the smoke and noise from inside the bar. He stood in the shadows beside the door waiting for the phone to ring on the other end. The door bumped open and Johnny Barnes stepped out.

“You ain’t calling for a cab, are you?” Johnny asked when he spotted him.

Joel laughed and ended the still ringing call. “Not if I can get a free ride from you.” Joel told him.

“Yeah, you were always a cheap prick,” Johnny agreed. “Hey, I heard you’re heading into the southern tier tomorrow?”

“Two weeks,” Joel agreed as he levered the door handle on Johnny’s truck and climbed inside. His breath came in clouds of steam. “Get some heat in here, Johnny.”

“Coming,” Johnny agreed. “Man, I wish I was you.”

“Me too,” Joel agreed.

Johnny laughed. “Asshole, but seriously, man. Have a good time. You gonna hunt?”

“Nothing in season… Maybe snare some rabbits. Not gonna be a lot this time of year.” Joel said.

“Maybe deer,” Johnny offered. He dropped the truck in drive just as the heat began to come from the vents.

“Probably, but they’ll be out of season. Rabbit, and I got freeze dried stuff. Trucks packed, which is why I didn’t drive it down here.”

The truck drove slowly through the darkening streets as the street lights began to pop on around the small city: The two men laughing and exchanging small talk.


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The Earth’s Survivors series on iTunes/Apple

EARTH’S SURVIVORS I-Tunes:

Book One: Apocalypse, free eBook. The end comes swiftly. Few will live, fewer still will survive. The Earth’s Survivors series of books follow the people that survive and set out to rebuild their lives… #ApocalypticFiction #iBooks #Horror

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-apocalypse/id963866999?mt=11


 

Book Two: Rising from the ashes

EARTH’S SURVIVORS Rising From The Ashes #iTunes #Apocalypse From L.A. To Manhattan lawlessness is the rule #eBook  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-rising-from/id595453162?mt=11


Book Three: The Nation

The Nation takes shape and the people who will build it.

Billy and Beth have reached Manhattan and a small camp with those they met on their trip across the country. They are waiting, for what they do not know… #eBook #horror

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-the-nation/id602902809?mt=11


Book Four: Home In The Valley. Building the first and most important settlement.

Follow the struggles of the Earth’s Survivors as they begin to put the pieces of a new society together. One that can keep everyone safe. #Apocalypse

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-home-in-valley/id1015548804?mt=11


Book Five: Plague #Undead Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead across the country. First it was survivors who should have died and didn’t. Then it was reports of people coming back from death. Now it is an epidemic raging across the planet #eBooks https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-plague/id1015630497?mt=11


Book Six: Watertown

A virus capable of raising the dead comes up missing from a top secret lab. Watertown tells the story leading up to the Apocalypse. The story of Billy Jingo, Ben Neo and Jimmy West, and a drug deal that goes very wrong… #PAW #iBooks

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-watertown/id1086227131?mt=11


Book Seven: World Order. The final book. Will the Nation crumble or rise…? We had walked for days. The desert seemed never ending, plateaus, sand dunes, the bleached bones of cattle. The sun rose, the sun fell. #Dystopian #Horror #iBooks

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-world-order/id1086393733?mt=11


Book Eight: To Build a Nation: Coming spring 2019.  #iBooks #ZombieFiction #ApocalypticFiction


SE 1 Contains the first two books, trivia, cast and more. Save, eBook… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-se-1/id1017135329?mt=11


SE 2: I-TunesSE 2 contains books 3 & 4, character bios, diaries, trivia, more, eBook…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-se-2/id1017126399?mt=11


SE 3: iTunes contains the Outrunner books. The Outrunners are the people who fight the dead to keep the nation safe…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-se-3/id1081677032?mt=11


SE 4: The Story of Mike and Candace. The most popular group from the website writings were Candace and Mike. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-se-4-the-story-of-candace-and-mike/id1212723662?mt=11


SE 5: Books 6 & 7. The complete text of books Six and Seven in one volume. #Preppers #Dystopian #iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-se-5/id1212582642?mt=11



 

A free look at Alabama Island from Author Dell Sweet

ALABAMA ISLAND

Copyright 2011 W. G. Sweet all rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 W. G. 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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

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


ALABAMA ISLAND


12:30 am

New York: 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.

Haley

Market Place: Watertown, New York:

Early Morning

“I don’t give a fuck what you think, girl. Get that fuckin’ money in the bag, and get it in the bag now.” He shifted away, leaning back from Haley, but with the mirrored sun glasses it was hard for her to tell whether he was still looking at her or away from her. The drawer had hesitated opening, the reset from switching to emergency power, just a sticky register, something, she had tried to explain it, but he had taken it personal. Like she had meant to have it happen. Thankfully it had opened immediately the second time. She picked up her cash drawer and dumped it into the green plastic garbage bag he held. The ground trembled a little under her feet causing her to sway, and they both paused, waiting…

There had been earthquakes. A few aftershocks in between the major jolts, and then the power had gone out. This was, Haley hoped, only a tremor.

It had been the new assistant manager’s bright idea to stay open. To be a gathering place for people in the neighborhood until someone in charge showed up. It was three A.M. and no one in charge had shown up. Twenty minutes ago three people had walked through the front door: All dressed in military fatigues; all wearing the mirrored sunglasses and some sort of scarves or bandannas tied around their heads and below their noses. Hair, eyes, all the features you could look for and remember were gone. They would probably never get caught, there was nothing to remember. Never mind the fact that the alarms were out, the cops hadn’t been seen for hours, and they were robbing the market in the middle of some kind of disaster. Haley only hoped they made it fast and didn’t hurt anyone. The oldsters, her nickname for the older folks that lived in the area, couldn’t handle a lot of shock. Already some of them were overly frightened and shaking.

Her eyes swept around to the other two. The one guy seemed slightly heavier through the upper body, but the fatigues were out sized, so it was hard to tell. The last had a deep booming voice that he had only used once when they had come into the market, kicked the chocks that held the automatic doors open out of the way, and announced the robbery. None of the three had spoken since then.

There were twenty-eight people in the market, mostly the oldsters from the Old Towne neighborhood who had come to the market area because the lights were still on, and there were other people there. Old Towne was a far suburb of the city of Manhattan. Some young couples lived here, but getting into and out of the city was sometimes too much and before you knew it a face you had gotten used to seeing was gone. The oldsters with their pensions and fixed incomes stayed. The commute into the city, as rarely as they had to make it, meant nothing to them. Crime was usually low; it wasn’t a bad place to live.

A tremble passed through the floor once more; weaker than the last. It felt like a heavy truck passing over a bridge, no more than that, she thought.

Three earthquakes had hit so far, each one stronger than the last. Haley herself had watched the lights of downtown dim and then wink out. All of those old buildings that had lit up the sky over the old public square every night for as long as she could remember, gone in the wink of an eye. The flat screens that hung above the checkouts had winked out, and the two televisions at the front of the store that were on every hour of every day blacked out and then came back with snow and static. The skyline had lit back up, but it was flickering in places.

Haley had grown up in the Grant projects in Harlem. Six months ago she had made the move north to Watertown. She took a room on the north side of the city and up until a few weeks ago she had still made the trip back and forth every day, but she had found a place, a small walk-up, not far from the market. It was okay for now. And living near downtown suited her, or had. She didn’t know how this was going to change the equation.

The power had not come back on in the downtown district. The lights were running by generator. The generator was necessary for the meat department at the back of the store. It wouldn’t run forever, but it was on now keeping the meat freezers and the cold cases working; running the low powered emergency lighting system inside the market.

The robber that had been in front of her moved down the line to the next register when the shaking stopped, bag in hand: The other two stood silently at the front of the store, some sort of rifles with clips held in their hands, watching, Haley supposed, through their mirrored lenses.

The man with the bag had reached the end of the line when a much heavier earthquake hit and things began to tumble from the shelves, falling into the aisles. Above her she watched the ceiling lift from the painted cinder block walls and then slam back down once more. One second she had been looking outside at the massive bare limbs of the oaks that lined the other side of the street and the next she had been looking at the backside of the corrugated panels that made up the roof of the market. It had happened so fast that she wondered to herself if it had really happened at all. The thin steel roof trusses that held the corrugated panels twisted as the roof slammed back down, squealing as they did. It seemed impossible to her that they could continue to hold the roof.

Her eyes swept quickly around the inside of the market. Most of the oldsters were screaming, cowering where they stood, trying to melt into the floor, but a few were standing stoically; watching parts of the ceiling begin to fall. Haley held the side of the dead conveyor belt in her checkout lane as the floor rose and shook. The robbers scrambled to stay on their feet; the stock tipped and tumbled, rolling across the floor.

The looks on some of the oldster’s faces said, “I knew this is how it would end,” and Haley believed in that split second that they really had known all along that the world would come to an end in the downtown market square just like it was right now. They had been children playing in the school yard, young lovers chasing after one another through the tall grass, parents seeing their child off to school on that first day: Pensioners walking to the box to get their check as the little girls that lived next door played hopscotch on the sidewalk; old folks coaxing the cat into the house through the back door, and they had known. They had known all along. Her eyes swiveled back to the front of the market, and that was when the roof at the front of the store collapsed. The robber, the one with the bigger upper body screamed and jumped back, and Haley understood then that he was a she. Her scream seemed like a signal to everyone, and a fraction of a second later they were all, oldsters, employees and robbers, running for the back of the store as the ceiling of the market collapsed onto the tops of the aisle shelving. The lightweight steel girders grinding and screeching as it came down.

The doors to the back stock room slammed open and the crowd poured into the rear storage area, coming up against the stacks of boxes and crates, and stopping. Just that suddenly the situation had changed. They were no longer running for their lives, they were being herded like cattle by the three and their waving, motioning rifles, holding the doors open, pushing the stragglers, cut and bleeding, into the area as the last of the shaking stopped. Large clips depended in a curve from those rifles, Haley noticed. They were in their hands, but they also had other weapons slung upon their backs by straps that looked every bit as capable as the ones they held in their hands. The one with the thicker chest, the one who at least screamed like a woman, kicked the doors shut and they stood, choking and sneezing as the thick clouds of dust swirled and billowed in the emergency lights.

Outside:

The old Chevy began to rock on its springs, lunging first right and then left. It took a harder lunge to the right, and then jumped forward and slammed head on into the side of the building.

“Fuck, Calvin. Fuck,” the woman driver screamed. She held a rifle with a long banana clip that slammed into the ceiling. Her finger squeezed the trigger tightly for just a brief second and spat a burst of bright white light and noise; a jagged hole appeared in the roof of the car.

“Bitch, what the fuck?” Calvin screamed as he tried to roll with the shaking car, hanging onto the dashboard. The four in the back added their own comments, and in a second the entire car erupted into cursing and yelling. The ground movement tossed the car once more, picking it up and slamming it sideways into a truck that had slid over three spaces. The screech of grinding metal and breaking glass silenced the screams and yells from the car. The car bounced away from the truck, jiggled from side to side and then settled onto the ground; one tire flat, the nose bent upward.

“Get out… Get out of this motherfucker,” Calvin screamed. Bricks and pieces of concrete block began to tumble from the roof line as the main wall of the market bulged out and the false roof structure that fronted the store titled backwards and fell into the store space. A few of the huge glass windows that fronted the market cracked with loud audible clicks: Spider webs running like bolts of lightning top to bottom, and then shooting off to the sides. Huge walls of glass that were now held together only by the aluminum frames they rested in.

“Jesus… Jesus, those bitches will go… I know it,” one of the men that had been in the back seat muttered, as he tumbled from the car and staggered away. One tall window groaned, splinters of glass shooting onto the sidewalk, and the front passenger side of the car, and then collapsed in a small pile onto the concrete as if to prove him right. Screams surged out from inside the store mixing with their own. A thick cloud of dust billowed out through the opening. The glass glittered like gemstones in the sparse light from the interior of the market.

“Out… Out!” Calvin yelled. A small section of brick bonded to concrete block fell over and crushed the nose of the car, pinning it to the ground. Steam erupted from the buried nose of the car and rose into the cold air, mixing with the dust as it did. Calvin skipped backwards, the hard heels of the combat boots he wore getting little purchase on the asphalt. He fell backwards with the momentum, his hands splaying behind him, immediately cut on the glass and other debris that covered the asphalt. He wrenched himself forward and began to pluck at the pieces embedded in his palms. His eyes rose and swept across the others as his fingers worked. Murder, Shitty, Chloe, Tammy, he ticked off the faces mentally. “Who?” he asked. His quick head count had come up short.

“Rosie,” Tammy said. She was a thin girl with a shock of kinky pink hair. The name was picked up by the others.

Rosie had been in the front with him. She had been the one that had shot through the roof of the car. She was nowhere to be seen. Calvin stood, dusted his bleeding palms against his fatigues and walked around the edge of the car. Rosie’s boot clad feet protruded from under the car. Not moving. A pool of spreading blood seeping past the wheel that rested partway onto her body, and out into the lot. He stopped. “Rosie’s done up,” he said aloud. He raised his eyes from the pavement as a gunshot came from inside the market. He swore to himself. “Better see what’s happened inside. Stay right here,” He frowned as a second shot rang out. “Fuck… Listen, if it goes bad, get the fuck out… Just run.” He waited for Murder to nod. Murder was his first. The one he trusted the most. He trotted toward the front entrance, his rifle in his hands, safety off.

The Stock Room:

Things moved fast after the doors swung shut. The one with the thick chest tore off her bandanna and shook her head as if to get the dust out of her hair. White-blond hair flew about her face. She bent over a second later and vomited. Haley smelled it on the air instantly, and fought the gag reflex that started in her own throat. A few of the oldsters didn’t make it, and the small floor area was covered with sprawled and bent double bodies a second later as more became sick. Haley kept her eyes on the three. A second later the other two tore off their bandannas, and Haley’s heart sank.

The one with the deep voice spoke again: A tall pimple faced white boy, Haley saw. He couldn’t be more than fourteen. “Get these,” he said, as he passed long pieces of plastic to the other two. The plastic made no sense until a few seconds later when the other two began slapping the zip ties around one of the oldster’s wrists and tugging another through the first before pulling them tight.

“Oh God. Don’t do that to me,” Annie, one of the new clerks screamed. She bolted forward as if making a break for the now closed stock room doors, and Haley watched as the pimple faced white boy raised his rifle. He squeezed the trigger once. Annie collapsed to the floor in mid stride, like a kite that had spilled all of its air at once. One leg spread before her, the other at an angle behind her. Her body skidded along the floor an inch or two and then stopped. She sighed loudly. Her mouth was closed tightly in a grimace as she slowly tipped over to the floor. Her eyes were open, and for a second Haley thought maybe she was seeing, but then something in them shifted, and she knew she was gone. Haley turned away as a few of the oldsters began to mutter between themselves, a few others began to cry. Jason, the new Assistant Manager, stepped forward.

“Listen,” he began in a loud voice. “I don’t know who you people think you are, but you’ve killed someone now… Killed someone!” He stopped and looked incredulously at the three who stood closer to the doors. His eyes cutting down to Annie and then up once more. The pimple faced boy raised the rifle once more, Jason opened his mouth, and the boy shot him in the chest before he could say another word.

The blast was amazingly loud in the closed area. Louder than the other shot had been, and a large section of Jason’s smock turned instantly red, puffing out behind him. He sank slowly to the floor, his mouth working as though he had one last thing to say, but he said nothing. He reached the floor, tipped sideways, and a flood of dark blood spilled from his mouth. After that no one spoke: The other two went back to tying wrists with the zip ties, and time seemed to jump forward in quick little jerks as Haley watched them do her own wrists and then move on.

They would kill her now, she knew it. Nineteen years of living through the violence of the projects: Making it out; all to die in the back of some market stockroom over a few dollars that didn’t even belong to her. And they would do it. There was no reason not to now. They had let them see their faces. No reason to tie them. No reason to remove the bandannas. No reason at all.

A sharp banging came from the side of the stockroom and Haley twisted her head quickly. The door that lead out to the sidewalk, Haley knew. A voice calling, and the pimple faced white boy raised his own voice in answer; turning toward the sound.

“We’re good… We’re good,” he yelled in that voice that didn’t seem capable of coming from him. He turned back, his eyes scanning the crowd. They stopped on Haley.

“Where is that fucking door?” he asked. “Where’s it go to?”

She motioned with her head. “Behind the boxes… There, at the end of the aisle. Goes outside… Out front.”

“Show me, Bitch.” He moved forward and his rifle barrel dug into her stomach, and then upward, dragging heavily across the edges of her ribs as he lifted the barrel and motioned with it. She stifled the urge to cry out. She could feel blood trickling downward, across the flat of her stomach under the smock she wore. She walked the short distance to the door, and found herself suddenly falling as he shoved her hard to one side, and slammed down on the door width bar; swinging it open.

Haley’s forehead hit the concrete hard, and she slid forward on her chest, rolling into a skid of cereal boxes. She was out cold before the boxes tumbled to the surrounding floor, hiding her body.

The Padlock Situation:

“What the fuck? The one called Calvin said as he stepped into the room. The pimple faced kid held up the bag of money as he stepped forward to go through the door, the other two behind him. Calvin caught the edge of his shirt and shoved him backwards hard.

“Why’d you kill some? Why’d you do that? Didn’t we talk about it? Didn’t we make it clear? What the fuck?” His eyes swept over the two bodies that lay on the floor, blood running away in small rivulets toward the floor drain near the swinging doors that lead back out into the store area.

“The cunt on the floor tried to rush us… No choice!” The kid’s frightened, pale-blue eyes stared up into Calvin’s own eyes. A small smile played at the corners of his mouth.

“The other guy played hero,” the blond said. Her face was slicked with sweat, making it seem even darker than it was. She stepped forward slightly, trying to hold Calvin’s eyes with her own. Calvin’s hand flashed to his waist, and a second later he bought it up in a sharp thrusting motion. The kid gasped, his mouth opened, and a small trickle of blood ran from the corner and across his cheek. Calvin watched the life begin to bleed from the kids’ eyes before he released him. The kid slid to the floor as if in slow motion. Calvin sheathed his knife: The blonde stepped forward as if to catch the kid, and Calvin raised his rifle.

“You got something to say?” he asked.

The blond wagged her head. Tears glistened at the corners of her eyes. She stared down at the body on the floor.

The Parking Lot:

Chloe looked from Murder to Tammy. She had already started backwards at the shot. It had taken all of her resolve not to run. Tammy stood trembling, her eyes trapped, and unable to stay in one place for long; lighting first on Chloe, then Murder, then back to Chloe.

“Chloe! Fuck. Chloe!” Tammy hissed. “Let’s go… Let’s fuckin’ go.”

Far away the scream of an engine came to her, and Chloe’s eyes swiveled back to Murder. “You know he’ll kill us too… You know it.”

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up, Bitches. Just let me…” Before he could finish the words, Shitty, who had been standing right next to him, had turned and sprinted a few feet away. He stopped and looked back, sweat trailing down his face, panic bright in his eyes.

“That fucking engine, Man. It’s coming here… Listen, Man. Listen.” They all listened for a second. “It’s cops… I ain’t fuckin’ waitin’.”

There may have been some hope of Murder holding them together, but at the same instance he had that thought a burst of automatic gunfire came from the market and he found his own feet moving. He followed the other three as they ran for the shadows at the back of the lot.

The Stockroom:

Calvin motioned to the blond and the other remaining kid and they stepped through the door out onto the sidewalk and the cold air. The blond started to walk away, but Calvin curled his fist into her hair and dragged her back. She cried out involuntarily as he pulled her around to face back into the stockroom.

“Can’t leave it like this,” he told her. “Your man fucked it up; unless you want to be in there with him you better take care of it.” Her eyes pleaded, but he pushed her away; turned loose of her. He raised his rifle, holding it on her. “Take ’em out,” he said quietly. “Take ’em out.” She turned to him once more, briefly, and then turned back, raised her own rifle, and began to fire into the stockroom. Things happened fast after that.

Cops:

Calvin turned at the sound of tires screeching on the wet pavement. A kind of low grade squalling as the tires slid to a stop, muted by the rain slicked roadway. He turned, fully prepared to flash the rifle, and show whoever this was that it might be smarter to take off. He wasn’t prepared for the sight that greeted him.

A police van had skidded to a stop halfway across both lanes of the street and cops seemed to boil out of it: A half dozen. All armed. All dressed in riot gear, and bulletproof vests, Calvin saw. He fully intended to keep turning, but at nearly the same time he saw them his legs seemed to be pushed out from under him, and he felt himself falling as an eruption of noise and smoke filled the air all around him. He tumbled through the doorway into the dim interior. Just outside he watched as the blonde and the remaining man sprinted for the only shelter, the stockroom, but the cops were on both of them just that fast. They fell even as they made the doorway, sprawling on the heap of bodies just past him. The rapid shots fell off to single blasts, and then stopped. Two heavily armored cops ran forward, flanking the door, hesitated only briefly, and then jumped through the doorway into the room beyond. The silence held for a brief second longer and then one called back. Calvin fought to keep his eyes open, convinced that if he could do just that one small thing everything would be alright.

“Toast… Done up.”

The one that had called out turned, light flashing dully from his black body armor. He started for the door when his eyes fell on a thick padlock hanging next to the door. He grasped it as he leapt through the doorway; the other followed. They both bent and picked up the few scattered weapons that lay on the sidewalk; tossing them into the darkness of the stockroom, and then the first one slammed the door shut. He ran the padlock through the welded plates on the door and snapped it shut.

Calvin heard the click. His vision was lost in the absolute darkness of the space. He had already tried to move. He couldn’t. It was useless. It had seemed so important to try to move though. So important just a few moments ago. A few…. He blinked, but he still saw nothing. A buzzing started in one ear, and then that ear seemed to fill up with static, breaking the buzzing sound up into little bursts of confusion that tore away into his brain. He blinked and tried to listen harder, but there was nothing to hear, then…

“Come on, come on, come on!” This from one of the cops crouched back by the van where it idled on the roadway: Vapor curling from the exhaust pipe and lifting into the air: The two sprinted back, jumped into the rear of the van; holding the doors partially shut with their hands and the van roared away. It turned two blocks down and disappeared onto one of the side streets. The motor could be heard screaming on the still air for a few moments longer, and then it was gone. Silence held the street, and then snow began to fall lightly. Within a short time the entire street was covered in a coating of snow as lightening flashed in the dark skies above Old Towne.

The darkness began to suddenly take on more weight, and the fear that he might be dying settled in more fully with Calvin’s other scattered thoughts. A puppy he had had… So real… Its whole body was wagging right along with its tail. It was … was… When?  What? Gone… A birthday party… Not his… He had no gift… The sound of the lock clicking shut… Echoing, and then as suddenly as the light had left with the slamming of the door it flared back into existence: A bright ball up near the ceiling. A light to be sure, but unlike any light he had ever seen. It flared brighter… Brighter still, and then he felt himself rise, confused at first and then stepping from the shadows of the room and into the bright lights of a hallway. Panic jumped into him… How could he be walking? How could he be?

He spun, meaning to step back into the darkness, but the darkness was gone. All that remained was the over bright hallway that lead to… Whatever it led to. He couldn’t make an answer for it come to him. None at all. He stood briefly, still facing what had been the darkness of the back room, but now was only a smooth white expanse of flat wall, and then he forced himself to turn around… It meant… It meant the end… The end… He slid one foot forward and then the other, forcing himself to walk.

Haley:

She came awake in the dark. She was shivering, the cold of the concrete seeping deep into her body. Her head ached, but when she tried to lift her hands to it she remembered that they were still zip tied behind her back. Boxes tumbled away from her. That caused panic to settle into her for a brief moment until she realized that whatever had happened was over. The stockroom was graveyard silent, a thin blueish line of light seeped under the swinging doors about twelve feet away. Shadows began to emerge from the darkness as her eyes adjusted: Bodies, and then the thick smells of coppery blood and vomit came to her. She fought the urge to gag.

She was convinced she was alone, equally convinced that this was just a trick. She waited, and then waited a little longer, but nothing changed as she watched the line of light under the door. Occasionally it would flicker. Nothing else. She made her decision, carefully got to her feet, and stepped around the bodies to the swinging doors.

The roof was collapsed onto the tops of the aisles. The steel of the shelving units held it suspended there. Most of the emergency lighting was out, but a few lights were still lit: Some hanging by wires into the aisles. The space in the aisles to the roof was tall enough that she didn’t have to stoop over as she made her way to the front of the store. She stopped in the darkness at the mouth of the aisle, and looked out through the shattered front windows in front of her. Snow fell on the street beyond the glass. Lightning flashed sporadically in the skies, the sound of thunder sometimes close, sometimes far away: The lightening blue-white flashes of light on the snow covered street.

She waited: For what she didn’t know, but nothing came, nothing changed. She stood, listening to the clicking and buzzing from the flickering fluorescent lights of the market. She bumped against the sharp edge of an end cap that had partially buckled, jutting out next to her: Blood trickled away from her arm, rolling to her wrists which were still bound, her hands, swollen, were cold and numb. She turned and used the sharp edge as quickly as she could to cut through one of the zip ties that bound her wrists. Rubbing until one tie flew apart, making a plastic clicking sound as it hit the aisle floor and skittered away. She moved her wrists around in front of her and into the light.

A thin line of blood ran away from the wrist that had been encircled by the tie. Whether from the sharp metal she had used to escape the zip-tie, or the zip-tie itself she could not tell. A few more seconds of careful rubbing with the sharp metal edge and the other plastic cuff fell to the floor. She stood and rubbed feeling back into her hands. They came alive with sharp pins and needles nearly making her cry out. She flexed them, working blood back into them, and looked out at the falling snow. The whole world seemed quieted by it.

She looked around the entire front area of the store. It appeared empty, but it was hard to see anything; there were few lights working. The roof collapse had shortened the entire space, trapping what lights remained working inside the aisles, hanging from their wires. There were no sounds, no movements. She was alone, she decided. She stood for a few moments longer, still rubbing her hands, and then walked past the checkouts, stepped through a shattered front window, and walked off down the street into the falling curtain of snow.


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A free look at Trash from Dell Sweet

WHITE TRASH 

Fourteen million dollars in a burned suitcase. Parts of a dead man in a duffel bag. Two hired killers, a drug dealer, and two organized crime kingpins; all chasing two white trash kids from New York into the Deep South as they head for what they think will be safety in Mexico. Adult orientated. Sex, language and Graphic Violence… 18+ No preview is available due to the Adult Content. Drug Use…

“I was in the woods. I ran. I didn’t know what those guys would do. I knew you lived here. I was heading here when I saw you come out. I wouldn’t have done that… I couldn’t have. Especially when you fell inside the car. It made me gag.”
She paused and met his eyes for a second, then looked away once more. She closed her eyes like she was remembering the scene, or it was playing out again behind her closed lids. David supposed it was. She continued in…


WHITE TRASH

By Dell Sweet

Copyright © 2018 by Dell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet; all rights reserved

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. 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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. All rights are retained by the Author.

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

Cover art Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet


This excerpt has not been edited for content


WHITE TRASH


ONE

Friday Morning: Glennville, N.Y. …

David pulled the zipper and recoiled from the smell that came from the bag. April leaned close to see what was in the bag and then recoiled herself from the smell.

“What the fuck?” she asked.

David opened the bag wider, but saw nothing except crumpled up newspapers. Tentatively he pushed aside the newspapers and a pair of dead, dusty eyes stared up at him through the newspapers. He flung the bag away from him, reacting simply on impulse. The bag hit the wall and the head, along with a pair of hands, rolled out onto the floor.

“Oh, God,” April said.  “Put it back in the bag, David, put it back in the bag and get it out of here!” She jumped off the other side of the bed and pressed into the wall as far away from the bag and she could get. David looked at her and then grabbed one of the shirts that had been in the other duffel bag; he lunged forward quickly, picked up the head so he wouldn’t have to think about it too long and tried to jam it back into the bag. It wouldn’t go. The shirt, or the head, or both kept catching the side of the bag and collapsing it. Finally he laid the bag down on one side and managed to hold one side of it open and kind of scooped the head back into the bag. Once it was in he quickly zipped up the bag. He stood quickly and started to walk from the room.

“David, where are you going?” April asked.

He stopped. He had been heading for the door, but he had no idea where he would go from there.

“David… The hands… David,” she pointed…

EARLIER

David Cross sat watching his television: An old war movie, boring, but it was three A.M. and there were only the local stations that he could get, plus the one from Canada when the weather was right, or what-ever-the-fuck had to be right for an antenna to work. Tonight it wasn’t working. Excuse me, he corrected himself, this morning. Whatever needed to be right wasn’t. It had looked like a foreign film with all kinds of nudity too, but the goddamn thing had kept fading in and out so much that he had gotten a headache trying to watch it. He’d finally settled for the old war movie on one of the local stations.

He was trying to nurse his last beer. He’d been sure that there was one more left, but he’d been wrong. Somehow he had miscounted and that was unlike him. He always knew how many beers he had to the can, but somehow he’d messed up the count tonight. There were no more. He’d even moved the green loaf of bread, which he had hated to do, but he had moved it only to find nothing behind it. He had hoped the one remaining can had rolled behind it, but it had not been behind the moldy bread. He had been wrong.

It hadn’t occurred to him to throw out the moldy loaf of bread while he was at it. Instead he had gotten one of the spatulas from the silverware drawer, levered it under the bread and then pushed it to the side only to find no beer can hiding there. He had then levered the loaf of bread back into the original position it had been in.

So he was nursing his last beer: Last beer and no money for beer. And it was Friday: That meant the rest of Friday, Friday night, and the whole weekend loomed ahead dry. It was too depressing to think about. He tried to focus on the movie.

His trailer was located at the end of Lott road, a dirt road on the outskirts of the city two miles beyond the county dump. Nobody really wanted to live on Lott road it seemed, except David, and if he were honest with himself he didn’t really want to live here either, he simply had no choice. His crappy job only paid him enough for a crappy place to live. This was it: The crappiest of the crappiest. In fact the morning before the cops had taken the body of a young girl out of the ditch just down the road. Found by someone driving by. She hadn’t been there very long either. Someone had killed her and dumped her there. It was definitely a crappy place to live. He knew that for a fact because he had gone looking. There were no crappier places. Except maybe the trailer park down the road, he thought, but that was part of Lott road too so it didn’t count.

He owned neither the trailer nor the lot. He did own the furniture, which had been easy. He had simply cruised every street in the city on garbage day: A chair here; another one there. The mattress and box springs he’d gotten from the Salvation Army. Thirty bucks and only pee stained on one side, well mostly only the one side. There was some other stain on the other side, but he wasn’t sure what that stain was. It didn’t exactly look like pee. Anyway, it was barely noticeable and the guy in the store had sworn that they weren’t really pee stains, but water stains. David wasn’t too sure about that. His own brother had wet the bed until he was ten and they had slept in the same bed. He knew what a pee stain looked like and this looked like a pee stain. Still it had been a good deal and stains couldn’t hurt him. After all when his brother had been wetting the bed he had peed on him too. If he could live with that he could live with a little pee stain: If it was a pee stain. And if they were pee stains, they were on the other side of the mattress, he added optimistically. Besides, they disinfected those things. The guy said so: Sprayed them down with something that killed everything on them. He grinned, tipped his beer, nearly took a large swallow, took a small sip instead and then lowered the can depressed all over again about the long, dry weekend ahead of him.

Five or six garbage runs and one trip to the city dump, where they didn’t mind if you took half the dump away with you, and he had been furnished. It was amazing the things people threw away. He sipped carefully at his beer, pulled a crumpled cigarette from his pack and lit it with a long, wooden kitchen match.

There was an old fashioned wood stove store in town and he stopped there once or twice a week for kitchen matches. Not that they gave them away for free, but they used them for the stoves so there was always a box or two laying around that he could help himself to.

Day old bread and doughnuts at the bakery twice a week: Those cheap ten pound bags of chicken and what they had called Crack Head soups in Jail, noodle soups to the rest of the world, and there was his weekly food budget. The only other things he needed were gas and of course beer and cigarettes.

The rest of his paycheck went for the rent and utilities. Sometimes it was close, but he always made it somehow. The real bummer this morning was that he had today off and the whole weekend too and he’d have to stay here watching the crappy T.V. … Sober…

His job Monday through Thursday was cleaning for a maintenance company. They only required that you showed up. They ran you all over the city to clean supermarkets; banks; mall shops that were closed. He worked the nights away pretty quickly. Go to work at five P.M. Next thing you knew it was one thirty in the morning and they were through for another night. He kept telling himself that he would have to get a better job if he ever wanted to be better off in the world. A job that paid more than minimum wage had to be in his future. He was sure there were plenty of them out there he just didn’t know where to look. Some day, he told himself, some day.

He took a deep drag off his cigarette and then sipped carefully at his beer. He thought about the girl’s body and realized she could have been killed while he had been sleeping. He shuddered. He hated this place.

He set the beer down carefully on the coffee table. It was scared with cigarette burns and missing the tip of one leg, but it had been free and an old paperback novel held up that corner of the table well enough. As he looked back up from the coffee table lights swept across the living room wall, bouncing up and down and back and forth. Because his was the last place on the road, every car that came down the road lit up his living room. These headlights however seemed a little frantic, bobbing, darting across the wall and then a second set shot up onto the wall too, jittering and jumping across the cheap paneling.

Twice now cars had come down the road, shot right across the bare dirt of his front yard and into the woods before they had been stopped by the trees. David had a fear about some car, some day, hitting the bedroom wall while he slept. So far it had just been the woods, but you could never tell. He got up quickly and walked to the window.

It was immediately obvious that this was something different than just some drunk not realizing that the road was about to end. The lead car was flat out. He could hear the whine of the engine now as it came. The car behind was trying to stay close, tapping the back bumper of the lead car, causing it to slew all over the dirt road. Apparently that wasn’t good enough because a second later the passenger leaned out of the car’s window and opened up on the lead car with what looked to be some sort of a hand held machine pistol. David let out a startled squawk, ducked below the window and then popped right back up.

The shots had taken out the rear window, traveled through the car and taken out part of the front windshield too. And from the large red stain on the spider webbed remains of that window David guessed it had taken out the driver too. Maybe even the passenger had there been one. There was a lot of red.

Shit, David thought. That meant that the lead car was not going to be able to stop. David calculated quickly and realized the car would miss the trailer. At the same time the driver of the rear car locked up his brakes, suddenly realizing that he was on a dead end road, and the car began to slide in the dirt. David’s eyes shifted back to the front car which hit the end of the road, jumped up over the drainage ditch and roared through the front yard just missing the edge of the trailer, shaking the thin walls; engine still screaming. It was out of sight for a split second before he heard the crash. The big oak in the back yard, he thought.

His eyes came back to the second car long enough to see it slide down into the drainage ditch at full speed, catch its nose on the opposite edge and then flip end over end across an empty lot before it crashed down on the edge of a cement slab that was trailer-less and had been since he, David, had moved out here. David crouched down quickly to the floor, grabbed his boots and wedged his feet into them. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a flashlight off the counter and headed out the front door at a run…

~

The smell of hot metal filled the air. David looked to the car on the cement pad first: The trunk had popped and all manner of stuff that had been inside now lay scattered across the ground. Hot oil and antifreeze dripped from under the hood and onto the concrete. The front roof line was smashed flat to the top of the driver’s seats. The backseat area seemed untouched.

He slipped around the end of the trailer and looked at the other car. A newer Ford: He could see the badge on the rear deck. The front end of the car was wrapped around the oak in the backyard just as he had thought and steam was rising up into the air. The Ford first, he decided. The car across the road would have to wait.

The Ford had hit the tree and climbed it a few feet before it came to a complete stop. David had to stand on tip toe to peer into it. The driver had no head left, which explained the huge stain on the windshield. He was past dead, he was dead bad. There was no passenger. Looking out from the inside it was not just red, but gray and black too: Bone, hair and brain matter. His stomach did a quick flip and he began to close his eyes as he turned away.

As he turned his eyes caught on the floorboard and a blue duffel bag that was jammed into the space with the drivers legs. There was no way that the door was going to open, but the glass was gone from the window. He balanced over the edge of the door trying to stay as far away as he could from the dead man as he did, leaned in and tried to snag the duffel bag. His fingers brushed the two plastic handles, but he could not get a grip on them.

David levered himself further over the window sill and nearly came down into the dead man’s lap as he lost his balance and his feet left the ground. His hand shot down quickly, bounced off the dead man’s thigh and hit the seat, stopping him just a few inches above the man’s lap and a small splattering of bone and blood that was there. His hand slipped, but he pressed down harder and held himself.

He could feel the slick blood and splinters of bone under his hand, but he pushed the knowledge out of his mind, took a deep breath, braced himself and then reached down with his free hand and snatched the handles pulling the heavy bag free.

He pulled back, but the bag was so heavy that he had to hold on tight and push off the seat with his other hand. For one alarming second it seemed he would fall forward into the man’s lap. After a second of indecision his body dropped back down to the ground, the bag in his hand. He thought about the trunk as he started to turn away, reached back in, shut off the dead ignition, pulled the keys free and hurried around to the trunk.

The trunk held nothing but a black suitcase. He debated briefly, then reached in and took it. He went back, put the keys back into the ignition, and turned it back to the ON position. What else! What else! His mind asked.

His heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute, skipping beats, and his breath was tearing in and out of his lungs so quickly that it was painful. He could think of nothing he had forgotten. He told himself there was nothing else, and then immediately he thought of the glove compartment. He ran back around the passenger’s side of the car, dropped the bags and pushed the button on the glove box. A small paper bag and a dull, black pistol rested inside.

He took a deep breath, thought for a moment and then took both, slammed the glove box shut, picked up the bags and ran for the trailer. He booted the door open, threw the bags inside, slammed the door and then started for the other car down the road. He stopped mid stride, bent double, and nearly threw up. He caught himself, forced himself to take several slow breaths and stood experimentally. It seemed as though his stomach had decided the remains of the beer could stay for now and so he trotted off down the road to the other car.

This was an old Toyota, not one of the small ones though, one of the ones that seemed almost as big as an American car. He stopped thirty feet away. Two large plastic garbage bags had fallen from the popped trunk. They were both crisscrossed with gray duct tape, bound tightly. Two black duffel bags were jumbled in a heap nearby, along with what looked like a cheap foam, ice-chest. The ice-chest had ruptured and splintered when it hit the ground spilling beer, soda, and packages of lunch meat and cheese out onto the ground. Mixed in, and what had really caught his attention, were small brick sized packages, also bound with duct tape.

His heart was still racing hard. There was no one anywhere yet. No sirens. The nearest neighbors were nearly a mile back down the road… No car lights… Nothing at all.

He tried to carry both bales, but they were too heavy. He had to make two trips. The duct taped bricks, which could only mean one thing to his way of thinking, both duffel bags and two six packs of the beer that hadn’t ruptured went next. He had debated about the beer, but decided he could not leave it. He came back one more time, looked at a few more cans of beer and the packages of bologna and cheese and decided what the hell. He quickly picked them up and took them too. It would be something to put into the ‘fridge except the moldy loaf of bread he told himself.

He walked back to the car down the road once more. He reached the car where it lay flipped onto its roof and had just started around the hood when he heard a soft pop. He stopped as the hood suddenly burst into flames. The sharp smell of gasoline hit his nose and he jumped backwards just that fast. The car didn’t blow, but he stayed clear watching as it began to burn, allowing his thoughts and breathing to begin to slow down. It had seemed like a log-jamb of thoughts all trying to be expressed at the same time. He thought back as he watched the flames begin to build from under the hood.

Not long ago a car had plowed into that same oak in his back yard where the other car was now. It was just the way that oak lined up with the road. That driver had not hit as hard. He had jumped from the car and run for the woods that began in back of the trailer at a dead run. David had come out to look over the wreck a little closer. The jimmied ignition told him the story. The car had been stolen. He had heard sirens in the distance and said to hell with it, reached into the car and grabbed a cheap 22. caliber pistol from the front seat, and an unopened, and miraculously unbroken bottle of whiskey from the floorboards. He had barely stashed them before the cops had shown up.

He had stood on the sidelines and watched as the cops had popped the trunk to expose a large collection of electronic gear. Flat screen televisions, game consoles, DVD players, a shotgun and several more bottles of whiskey too. He had kicked himself over that one and vowed not to let something like that happen again should providence ever grace him with a second chance: Here was that second chance.

He had no phone, but the way the flames were leaping into the air he was sure someone farther down the road would be calling the fire department soon. The heat was already intense.

He squatted down, shaded his eyes against the glare of the flames, and tried to see into the back seat: No one. If there was anyone else in the car he couldn’t see them, but he did see a large suitcase resting on the roof of the car just inside the shattered rear door glass. He debated for a split second and then ran forward and grabbed for the bag, pulling it from inside the wreck. It was heavy and hot to the touch: The imitation brown leather sticky on one corner and melting. Whatever was in it, he told himself, would not have lasted much longer. He was headed back up the road from the wreck when he spotted a grocery bag spilled into the ditch. It was mainly intact so he picked that up too and ran for the trailer.

Behind him he could hear the sirens now. They were on their way and that meant there would probably be neighbors on the way too… Any minute, he told himself. He got the trailer door opened, jumped inside and closed it. He set the grocery bag on the counter. His heart was beginning to slam in his chest once more. He picked up the suitcases and duffel bags and hurried them back to the bedroom. He came back, threw the grocery bag and the packages of lunch meat and cheese into the refrigerator, debated briefly about the loaf of moldy bread, but decided to leave it. He looked back into the fridge. It looked crowded: Beer, lunch meat, cheese, bread. It was the most he could ever recall seeing in there at one time before.

He stepped back letting the door swing shut and looked around the kitchen-living room area. Nothing looked out of place. He could not imagine that the cops would want to come in here for any reason, but if they did they wouldn’t find anything.

He looked down at his hands, grimaced at the blood and specks of bone. A smear of drying blood decorated one shirtsleeve. He looked down at the front of the shirt and saw it was streaked with blood and gore. He turned and ran to the bathroom stripping off the shirt as he went. As he looked down at his jeans he noticed they were gore spattered to. He peeled them off just as quickly, kicking his boots aside. He left the bathroom and went quickly to the bedroom where he dug a wrinkled pair of jeans from the basket there, a clean shirt from the dresser, and quickly got re-dressed. He sat back on the bed, pulled the jeans up and shoved his left foot into one of his sneakers lying next to the bed where he had left them the night before. He stood, jammed his right foot into the other sneaker, danced around unbalanced for a moment as he tugged the zipper home, buttoned the top and threw himself back down onto the tangle of sheets to work the sneakers on the rest of the way and lace them.

His heart had become a racing engine once again, all high speed and flat out, and he tried to calm down as he walked down the short hall, opened the door and stepped down the rickety steps and into the bare-dirt front yard.

He could not see the fire engines or police cars, whichever it was that were coming. Both eventually, he told himself, but the sirens were loud and a half dozen people were walking down the road towards his place and the car that was burning. They were still a quarter of a mile away. He forced his breathing to slow down for the second time, and sat down on the top step waiting. The smoke from the fire was thick and black, spiraling up into the air. The smells of cooking meat and burning plastic hung in the air, competing with each other, causing his stomach to flip once more. The smoke seemed to catch in the trees, unable to rise further: Pools of it snaked along the ground, drifting slowly.

The lights came into view within a few seconds. They were far down the road, but closing fast. Within a few seconds a City Police car skidded to a shuddering stop on the dirt road, followed by two Sheriff Cars. Two Fire engines came next, coasting to a stop behind the Sheriff Cars, then swung around them angling down toward the burning car. David Cross rose from the steps and began walking to the road to meet them.

~

All of the cops were calling on their radios at once it seemed to David. He broke into a run and the city cop looked his way.

“There’s another one in my back yard with a dead guy too,” he yelled.

The cop looked amazed for a moment and then went back to talking on his radio once more. He finished, threw the radio back into his car, and glancing once more at the burning car, he turned and followed David into his back yard.

“Jesus,” the young cop said. “That happened when he hit the tree? No way!”

“The other car was shooting at them,” David said. He immediately wished he had kept his mouth shut.

“You saw that?” the cop asked.

Providence again, David thought. “Well, no, I didn’t. I heard shots… I didn’t see ’em,” he lied.

“So there are people in that other car?” the cop asked.

“I think so,” David answered. He took a few moments to formulate a lie. He didn’t need a complicated lie: Something simple. Something close to the truth so he could remember it, but something that wouldn’t make him an eye witness. “When I got out I saw the car lying on its top. I didn’t know about the other one. I had to get dressed. Once I got out of the house and headed down the road the car made this little popping sound and flames shot out of the engine compartment. When I turned away I saw the other one in the back yard. I knew something had crashed, because a few months back another car crashed into that same tree, and this sounded the same to me,” David said.

The cop nodded. “You go near either car?” he asked.

“The one out back; I leaned through the window to see if the guy was okay… Had to catch my hand on the seat… It was gross… I realized the guy was dead and got away from the car as quick as I could… Waited for you guys,” David said.

The cop nodded, pulled a small notebook from his shirt pocket and wrote in it. He asked David for his name and the address and wrote that down too.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, David thought. He hadn’t wanted to link himself to anything, but he had been afraid that they would find the hand print on the seat: An area of the seat that had been covered with blood and splatter and was now noticeably cleaner in the shape of a hand. What else could he do?

“You okay?” the cop asked.

“Not really,” David admitted.

“Go sit down… I’ll have somebody talk to you.” He looked intently at David for a moment. “How much you had to drink, David?”

“Uh… About a six pack… It’s my night off,” David explained.

“Easy, David… I’m not here to bust your balls. They’ll want to know… Impairs your judgment: It will determine whether they will take what you say or look for other witnesses, you see?” the cop asked.

“Yeah,” David agreed. “I do see.”

“So?” The cop asked.

“Oh… Right. I had about a twelve pack,” David said. He shrugged.

“Night off,” the young cop said.

“Night off,” David agreed.

“All right, David. Go have a seat and when the detectives get here I’ll send them over,” he told him.

David went and sat down on his front steps and waited for the rest of the cops to show up. He watched the lead fire truck drown the burning car in foam, and in just a few seconds the fire was out. The car sat smoking: Steam rising into the air; the smell of burned meat thick and heavy.



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A free preview of Dreamers from Dell Sweet

DREAMERS

Dreamers is Copyright © 2016 by Dell Sweet. All rights reserved foreign and domestic.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 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’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

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.

Parts of this novel are Copyright © 2010, 2015 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 permission.

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In the moonlight:

Laura

Joe sat nearby on the wall and she watched him as he watched her, sitting in a tall oak that shaded the wall from the moonlight. Morning was coming soon.

Last night they had found the note in the van. They had both been convinced it was a setup at first, there were as many bad spirits here as they were good. As many neutral dreamers as there were those who were searching out the path. Why should one contact them?

I had answered my own question. It could be as simple as it was. It reminded me of when I realized that Joe was one of those searching for the answers, trying to find the path. I hadn’t given it much thought at all, I had simply etched my name and number into the wall. This seemed to be the same thing

The note was simple: “Will find you tomorrow night. I have some of your answers.”

The night had come. Joe watching me. Me watching Joe, and now the night was about to pass and no one had come to either of us.

The new dawn began to color the horizon when a sparrow settled on the limb of the tall pine tree directly across from me and began to save her song. I listened as her song told the story: “When sparrow spirit went to the stars to live with the ancestors she lapsed into a dream state. Her body was kept from the ravages of death as the creator had given her life, but she was unable to function without her soul. Without what made her, her.

“Her mother, Birdsong, left not long after to be with her ancestors and stayed in the world of the dead. The Thief took her soul to the city of the dead and built her prison there.

“He built an island and surrounded it with water from the Rivers of the dead. The blood Rivers. He made that the home of water demons. He surrounded the island with a tall iron fence, topped with steel spires. Inside of that her steel cage sat on a raised stone platform. Inside the steel cage sat a small, ordinary looking stone, and inside that stone, he locked Sparrow Spirit’s soul away.

“Nearly 10,000 years has passed. Sparrow Spirit waits for the one who dreams. The dreamer, who was foretold by the creator, to Sparrow Spirit herself in her dreams. The dreamer who would free her from the stone.

“In those dreams she is called a sparrow herself. She is a woman of blood. A woman who walks the red path. There is only one gifted in all of creation that is that powerful. Only one that can save her from her prison.” The sparrow fixed her black eyes on Laura’s own. “She sent me to tell you she prays you well.”

The sparrow’s eyes stayed on my own.

“How can I find the past to her? How will I know how to fight? Who will tell me,” I asked?

“Seek those answers, believe in who you are, and they will come to you,” the sparrow said.  “Will you come?”

“Are you going back to tell her,” I asked?

“Yes.”

“I will find my way,” I said after a few seconds.

The sparrow said nothing more about Sparrow Spirit, but began to sing the sparrow sunrise prayer. I sang with her as the sun began to color the horizon with pinks and golds. Then she lifted into the air and flew away. I lifted from my own branch and flew to the wall, landing as myself, arms locked around my knees as I crouched on the wall, feathers floating on the sunlit air. “We know,” was all I said.

A few seconds later I was falling into the black void…



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Yellowstone free preview from Dell Sweet

YELLOWSTONE

Copyright 2018 W. G. Sweet all rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 W. G. 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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

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


 YELLOWSTONE


PROLOGUE

Somewhere in the World

Overclocking: SS-V2765

 

“Stay down next to the friggin’ bank, Hunter!” Beeker yelled. Beeker could see that Hunter probably wouldn’t be hanging around for much longer. He didn’t have the wits that Simpson had had. And a fire fight was no fuckin’ place to have to baby sit. Why was it that he always ended up with all the ass-holes any way? They had been pinned down in this particular position a sandy beachhead for four days. Sand and water in front of them, mountain and jungle behind them. They were on the other side of a river, and if the man upstairs the man that pulled all the friggin’ strings, Beeker liked to think, didn’t do something damn soon they might not see five.

The fire was just as heavy as it had been on the first day. Non-stop. Round after round of machine gun fire, and mortar rounds that came so fast it was hard to tell when one ended, and another began. Hunter crawled over, eating some dirt as he came. But at least he had crawled. The numb son-of-a-bitch had walked the first few times; like he was out on a goddamn Sunday stroll.

“Sergeant Beeker?” he whisper yelled over the sound of the gunfire. “Shouldn’t we maybe take the shit now, sir?”

“Hey, fuck you, if I say we lay low, we lay low. We take it like we’re supposed to, no deviations on my watch. Now, shut up and crawl your white-ass back over to your position, mister, NOW!”

The shit was V2765. The thing was, Hunter had already had it at least once, the rest of them hadn’t and never would. But Hunter had come with the vial clearly marked as a booster shot… He didn’t need that yet.

Hunter went, he didn’t have to be told twice. Beeker was one mean bastard, and he had absolutely no desire to mess with him. Even so this whole situation didn’t set well in his mind, and that was mainly due to the fact that it didn’t make any sense. And how in hell could it? he asked himself. There was no answer, because there could be no answer at all. Fifteen days ago he had been safe and sound in… In… It wouldn’t come. Someplace. He had been someplace, not here, and he had been… Whatever he had been, or where ever he had been it wouldn’t come. He could almost remember, like it was right there, just beyond memories…

He could remember waking up here with Beeker, Philips, and Ronson. In the middle of… Of… Where am I? He didn’t know that either, and they weren’t disposed to tell him. Other than waking up in the middle of this fire-fight, he couldn’t remember jack-shit. He made the outside perimeter, and curled up into a near ball as he pressed himself into the dirt embankment.

Jungle all around… Not the Middle East then… Where he had been… Had he been in the Middle East? Fighting… Fighting the… He couldn’t make the information come to him, but it seemed as though it was just barely out of reach like all the rest…

Bluechip… Volunteer? For? Thoughts floating around in his head… They had given him a shot… Some sort of booster? Yes, booster… Booster shot… For, what? He asked himself, but he had no idea.

“About fucking time,” Beeker yelled above the roar of gunfire… …They had been pinned down for the last several hours, with heavy fire. It had finally fallen off somewhat, and it was time to make a move: Beeker was no fool, he had every intention of getting his men the hell out, including that test case they had laid on him…

He’d already lost four good men on this mission. He couldn’t see losing any more. He looked across the short, smoky distance, directly into Ronson’s eyes, and signaled left, away from the sand, towards the jungle that pressed in from behind them. A quick sideways flick of his own eyes told him that Hunter and Phillips had caught it too. Beeker signaled Ronson out first, then Phillips, and then Hunter. It was a slow go; belly crawl for the first few hundred yards. The bullets continued to whine above them, but they all made it one piece. Two hundred yards in they were able to stand. The jungle finally offering some protection. Beeker led the way quickly yet carefully, through the lush greenery. The others fell in behind him silently. Two miles further through the dense jungle, and they finally lost the distant sounds of gunfire, and the jungle fell nearly silent. They fell silent themselves, moving as quietly as they could from tree to tree: Aware of the noises that surrounded them. A short while later when the gunfire had completely fallen off, the jungle seemed to come back to life. Bird calls, and the ever present monkey chatter. That was a good sign to Beeker, if the jungle was full of soldiers, the birds sure as fuck wouldn’t be singing. They pushed on through the night, and morning found them in a small village with a main trail running through the middle of it. They walked quietly through the village end to end… Burned out… Empty… A good place to rest-up.

“Oh, man,” Ronson complained. “Fuckin’ cra-zee,” Beeker agreed wearily. He was leaned back against the side of a burned out hut, smoking a cigarette he’d pulled from inside his jacket.

Hunter didn’t have the slightest idea where they were, let alone what they were talking about. Beeker had led them through the jungle and at first light they had come upon this village. They had crept in warily, ready for whatever lay before them. There had been no need, it was empty; a couple of dozen scattered bodies busy gathering flies: Burned out huts. The design wasn’t familiar to him. He had thought Beeker would move on. He hadn’t. They were still here. But where here was, and how Beeker had found it, eluded Hunter.

“Sure as fuck did thought we was done,” Phillips agreed.

“Yeah, well, we made it this far,” Ronson said. He grinned, and then the grin turned into a full fledged smile, and he began to laugh. Phillips joined him, and a second later, when Hunter was sure Beeker was going to open his mouth to tell them all to shut the fuck up, he started laughing too. “Oh… It’s good, look-at-him,” Ronson said, holding his side, and pointing at Hunter, “he don’t have a friggin’ clue.” That seemed to drive all of them into hysteria, Hunter saw. Including Beeker, who was usually hard-nosed and moody. He was doubled over too. Holding his sides. Tears squirting from his eyes.

“That true?” Beeker asked at last, once he had managed to get the laughter somewhat under control. “That your friggin’ problem is it, Hunter, you don’t have a clue?” he stopped laughing abruptly, and within seconds Ronson and Philips chuckled to a stop. “Do you have the slightest idea where your ass is?” Beeker asked seriously.

“No… Well, a jungle, I guess,” Hunter answered.

“No… Well, it could be a jungle, I guess,” Ronson mimicked in a high falsetto.

“Is it?” Hunter ventured in a near whisper.

“Look…” Beeker waited for silence. “Take a break, it’s going to get worse. Why don’t you have a smoke and kick back… Enjoy the break?”

“Well, the thing is that I don’t smoke, bad for the lungs. I’m pretty careful about my health.”

“Really?” Beeker asked politely. He chuckled briefly, lit another of his own smokes, and then spoke softly. “I would like your complete attention, Hunter, do I have it?”

“Yeah, sure…”

He cut him off, his voice a roar. “In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a fuckin’ war goin’ on, you pansy mother-fucker. A fuckin’ war, Hunter, you understand that, you ain’t gonna live much fuckin’ longer anyway. Get with the program mister, now!”

Hunter’s eyes bugged out, but as Beeker finished he forced himself to speak. “I know that… I can see that… It don’t mean I have to die though, not necessarily.”

“Man, Beek, don’t waste your time, he hopeless, same old shit, like Simpson. Like all those friggin guys before Simpson,” Ronson said.

Beeker drew a deep breath, winked at Ronson, and then spoke. “Yes it does,” Beeker said calmly. “It does because you ain’t a regular. You ain’t been here long enough, and you don’t mean a fiddler’s fuck to anybody. And that sucks, but that’s life, Hunter,” he paused and looked over at Ronson. “How long was the last one, fourteen days, am I right?”

“As rain,” Ronson replied coolly.

“And where are we now?” Beeker asked.

“Seventeen?” Phillips asked.

“Uh uh,” Ronson corrected, “eighteen, man, remember? Simpson bought it eighteen days ago, and this ass-hole came into play. Replacement, supposedly.”

“Right!” Beeker said. “It is eighteen, and that’s why nobody gives a fuck about you, Hunter. Eighteen’s too far, you’ll be done at twenty, it never goes past that, and I’ll bet bullets to bodies you’ll buy the farm long before we’re done with eighteen, see?”

“No,” Hunter said slowly, “I don’t see.” Seventeen? Eighteen? What the hell was that all about? he wondered.

Ronson chuckled. “I think he’s confused, again, Beek.”

“I think he was fuckin’ born confused,” Phillips added.

“Seventeen? Eighteen?” Hunter asked aloud. He didn’t get it, not completely anyway.

“Have a cigarette,” Beeker told him.

“I told you, I don’t…”

“Yeah, right, fuck that noise, there’s a pack inside your jacket… Check it… See if I’m right.”

Hunter fumbled with the jacket snaps, and finally pulled the jacket open. A half pack of smokes resided in the inside pocket. A silver Zippo tucked in beside them. He looked up with amazement.

“So?” Beeker asked, smiling widely.

“One of you guys stuck them there, while I was sleeping, has to be,” Hunter said.

“And when was that?”

Hunter thought about it. He Looked over at Beeker. Beeker just smiled.

“Don’t you get it yet, Hunter? Don’t you feel like an extra in a play.”

“Bluechip? Volunteer for SS-V2765? … Wow, they must have zonked your brain, man…

“Look, it was hard for Simpson too. He was with us for twenty days, and you know, I liked that sucker. He was all right for a white dude. All you guys show up… Combat ready… Except you’re all fucked up in the head… No idea what to expect or even where you are… It aint supposed to be that way, so we always have to lay it out… You are one of them, Super Soldier, we call it over-clocked… You’re gonna get dead, and you know what? Then you’re coming back… Don’t ask me what the fuck is in that shit they give you, all I know is you’ll get dead and then you’ll come back from it and they’ll ship you out… That booster shot? It ain’t exactly a booster shot. I don’t know what exactly it is, but once you’re gone I know this, it’ll bring you back.”

“Yeah, back… In the beginning some didn’t come back, it don’t matter though, ‘cause they come and got them too… But the last several months they, all of you, come back… Dead and then you’re not… And then they’re here and you’re gone and then in a few days some other dick-wad shows up in a supply drop…”

“What? A supply drop?” Hunter asked.

“Oh yeah… Supply drop… Wrapped up like a… Like a douche, man..”

“Uh uh, Beek, man, that line was really Revved up like a Duece,” Ronson said.

“Okay, bad analogy… I hate that fuckin’ song anyways… Always did, but you guys come wrapped up, like a package, man. We unwrap you and you’re alive… We leave you be for awhile and next thing you know you’re sitting up… Walkin’ and talkin’.”

“Yeah, boy… Fuckin’ freaky shit,” Phillips said. “Mucho freaky!”

Hunter swallowed hard, lit up one of the smokes from his jacket, and leaned back against the side of the hut. The silence held.

“So,” Beeker finished quietly, “you gotta deal with it man… You just got too… It won’t be long…”

Stateside: Project Bluechip

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 doctors’ 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. “Bertie 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. He had made his delivery a few weeks before. Whatever this shit was, bad people had not only come to know about it, but had come to have a need for what it did. It didn’t matter to him, not really. There were rumors, a few things he had seen while monitoring test subjects. Nothing he considered concrete. Maybe it extended life, that was  the strongest rumor. From what he had seen though, as far as test subjects, it did its fair share of ending life pretty effectively too. And here was another one to add to the growing number of failures… If that’s what they were.

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 kicked 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, Ed Adams thought. 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. “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… Bertie?”

“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, Bertie, 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 in here. That was stupid, Bertie.“

“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 going to sew him up, so it won’t be so bad.”

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

“Yeah. Me too. It’s there. Draws you to it. Like the Bunny on the Playboy Cover. You look at the rest of the magazine, but you know you’re going to 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?”

“Because 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 drooping at his side. Mouth yawning. Doctor Christmas had backed away until he had met the wall behind him. Nurse Bertie 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 into his headset microphone, “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 had 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 redundant protection; it was clear that they were in a very bad place.

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 later 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 also 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 gunfire. 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 again 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.



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White Trash free preview from Dell Sweet

WHITE TRASH

By Dell Sweet

Copyright © 2018 by Dell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet; all rights reserved

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. 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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. All rights are retained by the Author.

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

Cover art Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet


WHITE TRASH

Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet, all rights Reserved


This material is NOT edited for content and is rated 18+. It contains language and adult situations…


ONE

Friday Morning: Glennville, N.Y. …

David pulled the zipper and recoiled from the smell that came from the bag. April leaned close to see what was in the bag and then recoiled herself from the smell.

“What the fuck?” she asked.

David opened the bag wider, but saw nothing except crumpled up newspapers. Tentatively he pushed aside the newspapers and a pair of dead, dusty eyes stared up at him through the newspapers. He flung the bag away from him, reacting simply on impulse. The bag hit the wall and the head, along with a pair of hands, rolled out onto the floor.

“Oh, God,” April said.  “Put it back in the bag, David, put it back in the bag and get it out of here!” She jumped off the other side of the bed and pressed into the wall as far away from the bag and she could get. David looked at her and then grabbed one of the shirts that had been in the other duffel bag; he lunged forward quickly, picked up the head so he wouldn’t have to think about it too long and tried to jam it back into the bag. It wouldn’t go. The shirt, or the head, or both kept catching the side of the bag and collapsing it. Finally he laid the bag down on one side and managed to hold one side of it open and kind of scooped the head back into the bag. Once it was in he quickly zipped up the bag. He stood quickly and started to walk from the room.

“David, where are you going?” April asked.

He stopped. He had been heading for the door, but he had no idea where he would go from there.

“David… The hands… David,” she pointed…

EARLIER

David Cross sat watching his television: An old war movie, boring, but it was three A.M. and there were only the local stations that he could get, plus the one from Canada when the weather was right, or what-ever-the-fuck had to be right for an antenna to work. Tonight it wasn’t working. Excuse me, he corrected himself, this morning. Whatever needed to be right wasn’t. It had looked like a foreign film with all kinds of nudity too, but the goddamn thing had kept fading in and out so much that he had gotten a headache trying to watch it. He’d finally settled for the old war movie on one of the local stations.

He was trying to nurse his last beer. He’d been sure that there was one more left, but he’d been wrong. Somehow he had miscounted and that was unlike him. He always knew how many beers he had to the can, but somehow he’d messed up the count tonight. There were no more. He’d even moved the green loaf of bread, which he had hated to do, but he had moved it only to find nothing behind it. He had hoped the one remaining can had rolled behind it, but it had not been behind the moldy bread. He had been wrong.

It hadn’t occurred to him to throw out the moldy loaf of bread while he was at it. Instead he had gotten one of the spatulas from the silverware drawer, levered it under the bread and then pushed it to the side only to find no beer can hiding there. He had then levered the loaf of bread back into the original position it had been in.

So he was nursing his last beer: Last beer and no money for beer. And it was Friday: That meant the rest of Friday, Friday night, and the whole weekend loomed ahead dry. It was too depressing to think about. He tried to focus on the movie.

His trailer was located at the end of Lott road, a dirt road on the outskirts of the city two miles beyond the county dump. Nobody really wanted to live on Lott road it seemed, except David, and if he were honest with himself he didn’t really want to live here either, he simply had no choice. His crappy job only paid him enough for a crappy place to live. This was it: The crappiest of the crappiest. In fact the morning before the cops had taken the body of a young girl out of the ditch just down the road. Found by someone driving by. She hadn’t been there very long either. Someone had killed her and dumped her there. It was definitely a crappy place to live. He knew that for a fact because he had gone looking. There were no crappier places. Except maybe the trailer park down the road, he thought, but that was part of Lott road too so it didn’t count.

He owned neither the trailer nor the lot. He did own the furniture, which had been easy. He had simply cruised every street in the city on garbage day: A chair here; another one there. The mattress and box springs he’d gotten from the Salvation Army. Thirty bucks and only pee stained on one side, well mostly only the one side. There was some other stain on the other side, but he wasn’t sure what that stain was. It didn’t exactly look like pee. Anyway, it was barely noticeable and the guy in the store had sworn that they weren’t really pee stains, but water stains. David wasn’t too sure about that. His own brother had wet the bed until he was ten and they had slept in the same bed. He knew what a pee stain looked like and this looked like a pee stain. Still it had been a good deal and stains couldn’t hurt him. After all when his brother had been wetting the bed he had peed on him too. If he could live with that he could live with a little pee stain: If it was a pee stain. And if they were pee stains, they were on the other side of the mattress, he added optimistically. Besides, they disinfected those things. The guy said so: Sprayed them down with something that killed everything on them. He grinned, tipped his beer, nearly took a large swallow, took a small sip instead and then lowered the can depressed all over again about the long, dry weekend ahead of him.

Five or six garbage runs and one trip to the city dump, where they didn’t mind if you took half the dump away with you, and he had been furnished. It was amazing the things people threw away. He sipped carefully at his beer, pulled a crumpled cigarette from his pack and lit it with a long, wooden kitchen match.

There was an old fashioned wood stove store in town and he stopped there once or twice a week for kitchen matches. Not that they gave them away for free, but they used them for the stoves so there was always a box or two laying around that he could help himself to.

Day old bread and doughnuts at the bakery twice a week: Those cheap ten pound bags of chicken and what they had called Crack Head soups in Jail, noodle soups to the rest of the world, and there was his weekly food budget. The only other things he needed were gas and of course beer and cigarettes.

The rest of his paycheck went for the rent and utilities. Sometimes it was close, but he always made it somehow. The real bummer this morning was that he had today off and the whole weekend too and he’d have to stay here watching the crappy T.V. … Sober…

His job Monday through Thursday was cleaning for a maintenance company. They only required that you showed up. They ran you all over the city to clean supermarkets; banks; mall shops that were closed. He worked the nights away pretty quickly. Go to work at five P.M. Next thing you knew it was one thirty in the morning and they were through for another night. He kept telling himself that he would have to get a better job if he ever wanted to be better off in the world. A job that paid more than minimum wage had to be in his future. He was sure there were plenty of them out there he just didn’t know where to look. Some day, he told himself, some day.

He took a deep drag off his cigarette and then sipped carefully at his beer. He thought about the girl’s body and realized she could have been killed while he had been sleeping. He shuddered. He hated this place.

He set the beer down carefully on the coffee table. It was scared with cigarette burns and missing the tip of one leg, but it had been free and an old paperback novel held up that corner of the table well enough. As he looked back up from the coffee table lights swept across the living room wall, bouncing up and down and back and forth. Because his was the last place on the road, every car that came down the road lit up his living room. These headlights however seemed a little frantic, bobbing, darting across the wall and then a second set shot up onto the wall too, jittering and jumping across the cheap paneling.

Twice now cars had come down the road, shot right across the bare dirt of his front yard and into the woods before they had been stopped by the trees. David had a fear about some car, some day, hitting the bedroom wall while he slept. So far it had just been the woods, but you could never tell. He got up quickly and walked to the window.

It was immediately obvious that this was something different than just some drunk not realizing that the road was about to end. The lead car was flat out. He could hear the whine of the engine now as it came. The car behind was trying to stay close, tapping the back bumper of the lead car, causing it to slew all over the dirt road. Apparently that wasn’t good enough because a second later the passenger leaned out of the car’s window and opened up on the lead car with what looked to be some sort of a hand held machine pistol. David let out a startled squawk, ducked below the window and then popped right back up.

The shots had taken out the rear window, traveled through the car and taken out part of the front windshield too. And from the large red stain on the spider webbed remains of that window David guessed it had taken out the driver too. Maybe even the passenger had there been one. There was a lot of red.

Shit, David thought. That meant that the lead car was not going to be able to stop. David calculated quickly and realized the car would miss the trailer. At the same time the driver of the rear car locked up his brakes, suddenly realizing that he was on a dead end road, and the car began to slide in the dirt. David’s eyes shifted back to the front car which hit the end of the road, jumped up over the drainage ditch and roared through the front yard just missing the edge of the trailer, shaking the thin walls; engine still screaming. It was out of sight for a split second before he heard the crash. The big oak in the back yard, he thought.

His eyes came back to the second car long enough to see it slide down into the drainage ditch at full speed, catch its nose on the opposite edge and then flip end over end across an empty lot before it crashed down on the edge of a cement slab that was trailer-less and had been since he, David, had moved out here. David crouched down quickly to the floor, grabbed his boots and wedged his feet into them. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a flashlight off the counter and headed out the front door at a run…

~

The smell of hot metal filled the air. David looked to the car on the cement pad first: The trunk had popped and all manner of stuff that had been inside now lay scattered across the ground. Hot oil and antifreeze dripped from under the hood and onto the concrete. The front roof line was smashed flat to the top of the driver’s seats. The backseat area seemed untouched.

He slipped around the end of the trailer and looked at the other car. A newer Ford: He could see the badge on the rear deck. The front end of the car was wrapped around the oak in the backyard just as he had thought and steam was rising up into the air. The Ford first, he decided. The car across the road would have to wait.

The Ford had hit the tree and climbed it a few feet before it came to a complete stop. David had to stand on tip toe to peer into it. The driver had no head left, which explained the huge stain on the windshield. He was past dead, he was dead bad. There was no passenger. Looking out from the inside it was not just red, but gray and black too: Bone, hair and brain matter. His stomach did a quick flip and he began to close his eyes as he turned away.

As he turned his eyes caught on the floorboard and a blue duffel bag that was jammed into the space with the drivers legs. There was no way that the door was going to open, but the glass was gone from the window. He balanced over the edge of the door trying to stay as far away as he could from the dead man as he did, leaned in and tried to snag the duffel bag. His fingers brushed the two plastic handles, but he could not get a grip on them.

David levered himself further over the window sill and nearly came down into the dead man’s lap as he lost his balance and his feet left the ground. His hand shot down quickly, bounced off the dead man’s thigh and hit the seat, stopping him just a few inches above the man’s lap and a small splattering of bone and blood that was there. His hand slipped, but he pressed down harder and held himself.

He could feel the slick blood and splinters of bone under his hand, but he pushed the knowledge out of his mind, took a deep breath, braced himself and then reached down with his free hand and snatched the handles pulling the heavy bag free.

He pulled back, but the bag was so heavy that he had to hold on tight and push off the seat with his other hand. For one alarming second it seemed he would fall forward into the man’s lap. After a second of indecision his body dropped back down to the ground, the bag in his hand. He thought about the trunk as he started to turn away, reached back in, shut off the dead ignition, pulled the keys free and hurried around to the trunk.

The trunk held nothing but a black suitcase. He debated briefly, then reached in and took it. He went back, put the keys back into the ignition, and turned it back to the ON position. What else! What else! His mind asked.

His heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute, skipping beats, and his breath was tearing in and out of his lungs so quickly that it was painful. He could think of nothing he had forgotten. He told himself there was nothing else, and then immediately he thought of the glove compartment. He ran back around the passenger’s side of the car, dropped the bags and pushed the button on the glove box. A small paper bag and a dull, black pistol rested inside.

He took a deep breath, thought for a moment and then took both, slammed the glove box shut, picked up the bags and ran for the trailer. He booted the door open, threw the bags inside, slammed the door and then started for the other car down the road. He stopped mid stride, bent double, and nearly threw up. He caught himself, forced himself to take several slow breaths and stood experimentally. It seemed as though his stomach had decided the remains of the beer could stay for now and so he trotted off down the road to the other car.

This was an old Toyota, not one of the small ones though, one of the ones that seemed almost as big as an American car. He stopped thirty feet away. Two large plastic garbage bags had fallen from the popped trunk. They were both crisscrossed with gray duct tape, bound tightly. Two black duffel bags were jumbled in a heap nearby, along with what looked like a cheap foam, ice-chest. The ice-chest had ruptured and splintered when it hit the ground spilling beer, soda, and packages of lunch meat and cheese out onto the ground. Mixed in, and what had really caught his attention, were small brick sized packages, also bound with duct tape.

His heart was still racing hard. There was no one anywhere yet. No sirens. The nearest neighbors were nearly a mile back down the road… No car lights… Nothing at all.

He tried to carry both bales, but they were too heavy. He had to make two trips. The duct taped bricks, which could only mean one thing to his way of thinking, both duffel bags and two six packs of the beer that hadn’t ruptured went next. He had debated about the beer, but decided he could not leave it. He came back one more time, looked at a few more cans of beer and the packages of bologna and cheese and decided what the hell. He quickly picked them up and took them too. It would be something to put into the ‘fridge except the moldy loaf of bread he told himself.

He walked back to the car down the road once more. He reached the car where it lay flipped onto its roof and had just started around the hood when he heard a soft pop. He stopped as the hood suddenly burst into flames. The sharp smell of gasoline hit his nose and he jumped backwards just that fast. The car didn’t blow, but he stayed clear watching as it began to burn, allowing his thoughts and breathing to begin to slow down. It had seemed like a log-jamb of thoughts all trying to be expressed at the same time. He thought back as he watched the flames begin to build from under the hood.

Not long ago a car had plowed into that same oak in his back yard where the other car was now. It was just the way that oak lined up with the road. That driver had not hit as hard. He had jumped from the car and run for the woods that began in back of the trailer at a dead run. David had come out to look over the wreck a little closer. The jimmied ignition told him the story. The car had been stolen. He had heard sirens in the distance and said to hell with it, reached into the car and grabbed a cheap 22. caliber pistol from the front seat, and an unopened, and miraculously unbroken bottle of whiskey from the floorboards. He had barely stashed them before the cops had shown up.

He had stood on the sidelines and watched as the cops had popped the trunk to expose a large collection of electronic gear. Flat screen televisions, game consoles, DVD players, a shotgun and several more bottles of whiskey too. He had kicked himself over that one and vowed not to let something like that happen again should providence ever grace him with a second chance: Here was that second chance.

He had no phone, but the way the flames were leaping into the air he was sure someone farther down the road would be calling the fire department soon. The heat was already intense.

He squatted down, shaded his eyes against the glare of the flames, and tried to see into the back seat: No one. If there was anyone else in the car he couldn’t see them, but he did see a large suitcase resting on the roof of the car just inside the shattered rear door glass. He debated for a split second and then ran forward and grabbed for the bag, pulling it from inside the wreck. It was heavy and hot to the touch: The imitation brown leather sticky on one corner and melting. Whatever was in it, he told himself, would not have lasted much longer. He was headed back up the road from the wreck when he spotted a grocery bag spilled into the ditch. It was mainly intact so he picked that up too and ran for the trailer.

Behind him he could hear the sirens now. They were on their way and that meant there would probably be neighbors on the way too… Any minute, he told himself. He got the trailer door opened, jumped inside and closed it. He set the grocery bag on the counter. His heart was beginning to slam in his chest once more. He picked up the suitcases and duffel bags and hurried them back to the bedroom. He came back, threw the grocery bag and the packages of lunch meat and cheese into the refrigerator, debated briefly about the loaf of moldy bread, but decided to leave it. He looked back into the fridge. It looked crowded: Beer, lunch meat, cheese, bread. It was the most he could ever recall seeing in there at one time before.

He stepped back letting the door swing shut and looked around the kitchen-living room area. Nothing looked out of place. He could not imagine that the cops would want to come in here for any reason, but if they did they wouldn’t find anything.

He looked down at his hands, grimaced at the blood and specks of bone. A smear of drying blood decorated one shirtsleeve. He looked down at the front of the shirt and saw it was streaked with blood and gore. He turned and ran to the bathroom stripping off the shirt as he went. As he looked down at his jeans he noticed they were gore spattered to. He peeled them off just as quickly, kicking his boots aside. He left the bathroom and went quickly to the bedroom where he dug a wrinkled pair of jeans from the basket there, a clean shirt from the dresser, and quickly got re-dressed. He sat back on the bed, pulled the jeans up and shoved his left foot into one of his sneakers lying next to the bed where he had left them the night before. He stood, jammed his right foot into the other sneaker, danced around unbalanced for a moment as he tugged the zipper home, buttoned the top and threw himself back down onto the tangle of sheets to work the sneakers on the rest of the way and lace them.

His heart had become a racing engine once again, all high speed and flat out, and he tried to calm down as he walked down the short hall, opened the door and stepped down the rickety steps and into the bare-dirt front yard.

He could not see the fire engines or police cars, whichever it was that were coming. Both eventually, he told himself, but the sirens were loud and a half dozen people were walking down the road towards his place and the car that was burning. They were still a quarter of a mile away. He forced his breathing to slow down for the second time, and sat down on the top step waiting. The smoke from the fire was thick and black, spiraling up into the air. The smells of cooking meat and burning plastic hung in the air, competing with each other, causing his stomach to flip once more. The smoke seemed to catch in the trees, unable to rise further: Pools of it snaked along the ground, drifting slowly.

The lights came into view within a few seconds. They were far down the road, but closing fast. Within a few seconds a City Police car skidded to a shuddering stop on the dirt road, followed by two Sheriff Cars. Two Fire engines came next, coasting to a stop behind the Sheriff Cars, then swung around them angling down toward the burning car. David Cross rose from the steps and began walking to the road to meet them.


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Dreamers from Dell Sweet

Two strangers meet in the dream worlds and begin to look for the same things; follow the same dream and dreamers. Are they really strangers? Are they in the same place in the dream worlds for a reason? And, if they chose to begin a quest, can they both return safely from it?

Joe and Laura are dreamers. They meet in the dream worlds and Joe begins to fall in love with the beautiful Laura, but the dream worlds are treacherous: Nothing can be trusted, and nothing remains the same for long. As they learn the truth of dreaming they learn that nothing comes without a price, the price of this gift is coming due, and could very well mean death…


“I had looked in that jerky way dreams have of showing you something. Pieces missing, frames skipped in the film, scenes out of order: Bits of information that seemed to mean nothing at the time. Things you only know and never see. Even explaining it doesn’t do it justice, but if you’ve ever dreamed you know what I mean.”

Joe Miller


 

“I will say this about buildings, walls, houses, cars, trees… They harbor evil. They can hate. Maybe not in the world most of us live in, but in the world I spend most of my time in the rules are different. They can hate you. They can love you. They can kill you. You should know that if you ever dream.”

Laura Kast


The man’s smell was everywhere. The man who came to him in that other place. The place he slipped away to whenever he closed his eyes for too long. The place he wanted to go to but could not make himself go to. He had to wait. He had to wait until it happened on its own. He couldn’t make it happen. Couldn’t? Not exactly true. He could. Shouldn’t was truer.

Bear (The wolf spirit)



DREAMERS

Dreamers is Copyright © 2016 by Dell Sweet. All rights reserved foreign and domestic.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

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LEGAL

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

Parts of this novel are Copyright © 2010, 2018 Wendell Sweet and his assignee’s. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

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The dream came nearly instantly. But it was so UN-dreamlike that I didn’t realize it was occurring as it began to unfold.

I drowsed at the fire, my head nodding, snapping up at the sounds that came from the forest and then succumbing once more to its great weight. I drowsed again and my head snapped up again at some sound closer to me and I found her before the fire: Sitting across from me.

She spoke…

“You can change it all, you know.” Her eyes. Her hair, nothing had changed, and my heart cried out to the feelings she provoked inside of me. Conflicted with what I knew I was beginning to feel for Laura. No, felt. Not beginning to feel, I corrected myself. But that only made the guilt set in deeper.

She waited, but I could not find my voice.

“I know. She was here. I was not.” She leaned close to me and I could smell her clean scent. “I don’t blame you for being confused. But, Baby, it’s only the confusion. It’s only confusion.  I’m the one you love… You know that.” She leaned back. The fire turning to orange-red chips in her black eyes.

Tears rolled freely down her cheeks and my own began to spill to.

“You’re dead,” I managed.

“So is she,” she said softly, reasonably.

My mouth opened at that but I had no words. I had never thought of it that way.

“Look… I know you slept with her… You were lonely… You didn’t realize you could fix this… You had no reason to know.  But now you do know. I came to you so you would know… I wanted you to know. You have no idea how lonely death is…  How… Alone you are in death.”

She swiped at her eyes… “Maybe it’s different if you were supposed to go. Maybe… But when you weren’t. When you had everything to live for… A man you loved… We we’re going to have a baby… It wasn’t fair… And it wasn’t my time.”

She swiped at her eyes once more. I took a few deep breaths and tried to suppress a sob…

“I told myself I wouldn’t cry… Wouldn’t beg you… I told myself.”

My own chest heaved. I caught my breath. “You… You’re not real… What… What is this…” And that is when I began to realize that I was in a dream. It had that quality to it. But it had such a real quality to it at the same time.

‘I’m as real as she is,” she whispered. “Now. I don’t have a body… True… But you can fix that… You could undo what she did… You could.” She looked at me. Held my eyes.

“Tell me…  Just tell me you don’t love me… Tell me… Make me believe it, because, believe me, I don’t… I see someone who filled a space.” She swiped at the tears that rolled down her cheeks once more, licked her lips and then continued. “Come on… Think about it…” She lifted strands of her hair in one hand. “The same hair. We’re built the same… You can’t see it? Baby, she’s a substitute… A substitute… She’s there because you want me. Because you still love me… It’s true… You know it’s true.” She leaned forward once more. Her hands came up, settled on either side of my face. The fire between us for a while. She let me go, leaned back and held my eyes across the fire as I tried to wake myself up.

The dream, if it was a dream, was too real. Too painful. I could not wake myself from it. I could not and really didn’t want to. I wanted answers to the questions she had helped to voice within me.

“What do you mean I can change it,” I asked her at last, once I was sure I had my voice and most of the emotion in me under control.

“You’re alive. You can dream. You can go back and change it,” she said.

The guilt hit me harder. I had thought of it. I had thought about that exactly. I could. I could, but it would be against the purpose of her life. She would only die some other way. At least that was how Benjamin had explained it to me when I worked up the courage to ask him about it.

“You could lose your gift. The creator doesn’t give the gifts he’s given to you lightly. To be misused,” he said.

And I had seen it then. But now, with what really seemed to be Jana before me, I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see the reason.  My logic seemed faulty, or Benjamin’s logic seemed faulty.  Anything but truthful. Anything but the way it should be.

“Even if  I did you would die some other way. Your purpose was to die.” I said the words but they were hollow.

“And who told you that,” she asked?”

I shook my head. “I dream. I know.”

“They lied. Yes, if I was purposed to die, yes. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t purposed to die. I was purposed to be your wife I was purposed to have your children. I was purposed to live that way. I know I was purposed for it… I wasn’t supposed to die…”

Her eyes held mine. “Would you let me show you? Would you? If I don’t show you, you will never believe me. I can take you there so you can see how it happened.” Her voice was not much more than a whisper.

I shook my head. My own tears flowing… “This can not be real… This cannot be real…”

“But it is… Let me show you… In a few moments all of this can be gone… You wake up in bed with me… Five years ago… It really can be that way. That easy. You can fix it, and… You can fix it… Please, please let me show you!” She leaned forward once more, her arms outstretched, hands cupping the sides of my face. I closed my eyes to the touch, but it was all wrong as much as it felt so right.

I blinked, opened my eyes and she was gone. My breath caught in my throat. I could feel the tears, drying on my cheeks, leaving me cold despite the fire in front of me.



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