EARTH’S SURVIVORS: TO BUILD A NATION
Copyright 2019 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.
Cover Art © Copyright 2019 Dell Sweet
This excerpt is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This excerpt may not be re-sold, copied or given away to other people. If you would like to share this with another person, please point them to this blog. 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. The Earth’s Survivors characters are copyright protected.
This excerpt is not edited for content
June 22nd Year Two
Another long day, but, Mike, Chloe, Ronnie and Adam are off to see what they can find and I am left here to lead and run the meeting.
There will be a group coming in just a few days: I only know they were over to the west somewhere; Rollie has dealt with them a few times. It’s the same problem Sam had, settling too close to the old world; several places have done that and are now having problems with outsiders. As far away as we are we still have problems. I say that because of what recently happened.
We still don’t know how they found us or what their motivation was, but if they know we are here others will also know we are here. It could be the lights; Rollie had mentioned they could be seen from sixty miles away.
We have four new posts: One at each point of the compass; added to the others we had, plus every cave has their own observation post on top of Ridge Mountain. We’ve got sand bags going along the rocky trails to cut down on rock chips; believe it or not, children, the bags to make the sand bags were hard to come by. But Rollie found them somewhere and they are on the way.
I can’t see how Sandy can get any bigger. She is due next month. Was I that big? Patty tells me I was bigger, but I can’t imagine it. Cindy is due in August. Debbie and I are on the fence; will we have babies this year or just over the line in January? Chloe definitely next year; and Pats too: Lisa and Sharika are due about the same time as Pats.
I am really happy with a song that Bonnie and I are writing together. I think we’ll play it soon: We titled it “A woman like me”. It’s the first time I have worked on something with someone else. It’s tough to do, but in the end I hope it comes out well. Hopefully we’ll do more together.
Candace folded her journal closed and slid it in a drawer. The babies were asleep; the kids as well.
Patty had a thick book in her hands Music notation and chords, Candace saw.
“What’s doing, Pats?” Candace asked as she settled on the bed beside her.
“Learning the basics of writing music and scales, and chords, and I don’t know how you keep it all straight, Baby,” Patty told her.
“I don’t see why you keep a body like that covered up, Honey,” Candace said. She pulled up Patty’s over-sized t-shirt and wiggled her head up under it.
“Hey, that’s for the baby,” Patty said.
“Sorry, Lover, wrong direction.” She popped her head out from under Patty’s t-shirt and tugged at the elastic waistband of her sweatpants with her teeth. Patty arched her back and Candace slipped her sweatpants and panties down with one quick movement; she worked her way down.
Mike, Ronnie and Chloe
They had run no more than two or three minutes when they heard thrashing through the trees ahead of them. They came to a quick stop and faded into the greenery on the sides of the wide path they had been following.
Mike held the rifle ready and calmed the dog with his other hand. A large group of women came into view at a trot, struggling to carry a fat man on a bier that rode on thick poles resting on their shoulders. The fat man held a military machine gun in one hand, pointing it up in the air: The bier danced up and down, the women struggling to carry the load. Mike stepped out into the pathway: Pointing his pistol into the air and fired a short burst. The women in front screamed and tried to stop, but the momentum of the women behind them knocked them over. The bier crashed to the ground, nearly in front of Mike. He reached down and snatched the machine gun as it hit the ground. The fat man grunted in pain as he slammed face first into the hard-packed dirt of the path.
A woman toward the back threw herself to the ground and fell to her knees as if in worship.
There were several women and two young girls. Mike sent Ronnie and Chloe back with word to bring the trucks up: Once through the heavy kudzu near the water, they could negotiate the path easily he knew. There was no fight left in this group. Many of the women wept openly, several leaped up and began to kick and pummel the fat man, but he was beyond feeling. Most likely he had broken his neck in the fall. Although two women had also attacked him right after he had fallen, jumping up and down on him, kicking his head and body. By the time Mike had gotten them to stop the man was gone.
When the trucks arrived they made their way back to the encampment. Mike ordered several of the women to carry the fat man’s body back to the camp. He followed behind the women, the trucks behind him.
Once they reached the camp and released the fat man’s captives, it was clear several of the women were more hated because of the things they had done, and it was hard to keep the captives from killing them with their bare hands. As it was; several were badly beaten before the beatings could be stopped. Mike had found himself having to threaten to shoot people on both sides before they would calm down.
One dark-haired woman came over to Mike.
“You seem like a nice guy; I guess you just don’t understand.” She pointed at a particular woman. “They killed my son… They did… She took him, her right there, they ate him, don’t you see? They ate him and you’re protecting them… If I had a gun I’d kill you just to get to them,” she told him.
The whole conversation was low pitched and calm, but the woman’s eyes were mad. Heavy bags hung under them, red-lines spider-webbed the whites. She stared at him a few minutes longer and then walked away. As she went, she suddenly lunged at the other woman. A sharp bone spearhead appeared in her hand and she drove it into the woman’s throat. Ronnie stepped up and clubbed the woman in the head with his rifle; she collapsed like dirty laundry in a heap. Mike raised his voice.
“That is enough: Next one jumps, from either side and I start shooting. And I mean it.” He glared back and forth between the two groups. No one spoke.
“Chloe, take those captives somewhere: Somewhere where they can get cleaned up. Adam, go with her. Jeff.” He waited until the big man looked at him, “You still with us?”
The big man nodded.
“Them,” Mike continued, “go with them and talk some sense into them. When you get back we’ll have this mess cleaned up, and try to work up some food. What is there to hunt on this island?” Mike asked.
“Cows,” Jeff said.
“Cows?” Mike asked.
“Yeah… A couple of wild herds on the other side of the island,” Jeff said.
“Mike nodded. “Ronnie? Adam? Take one of the trucks and get at least two, maybe three. Jeff… That is my woman,” he said pointing to Chloe. His warning was clear. After everyone left, Mike turned back to the large group of women.
“Is there a stream, river, lake, some sort of water close to the ocean? Because if not we’re walking all the way to the ocean.” They wound up at a small stream nearby.
“Don’t be shy, get clean,” Mike said. “Is that all you have to wear,” he asked, indicating one of the loincloths.
“There are boxes of stuff back there… He wouldn’t let us wear it,” one woman volunteered.
“Good. Scrub that shit off, get clean. Throw those things away. We’ll get clean stuff when you get back,” Mike said.
When they came back Mike had some of the women hand out clean clothes. By the time the other group came back the body of the one woman had been removed and all the other women were dressed in real clothes.
The two groups declared an uneasy truce.
Ronnie and Adam came back with two cows and a pig: Soon the smell of roasting meat filled the air. Evening closed in and as darkness set in Chloe helped some of the other women find clean clothes to wear.
As the sun set in the main valley, the lights came on in the new addition to the school and the track in back of the school.
“Run Patty, run,” Candace shouted.
I cannot believe I played baseball tonight. We all ate hugely and then went down to the new ball field on the pretext of testing the bats. We had a game going within a few minutes. Just pick-up teams we threw together. Nobody cared, we just wanted to play ball.
Pats, me, Candy and Debbie were all in the same team. But we got it handed to us.
Tom, yes my own husband, Josh, Brad and Alexa were the best hitters on the other team. They got us one by one, and we made them work for it too.
We had been hoping to hear from the guys that are away. Sometimes they’re in range, but nothing. Maybe another few days: I know they are out for very specific things, wiring being the majority of it, but real plumbing articles like toilets, sinks. Specific types of computer and hardware and software that Stephen and Lisa want. And of course, they have huge lists from just about everyone.
Well, my Tom has a sore shoulder from hitting all those home runs so I guess I’ll rub it out for him. You know, for a little while, it seemed like the old world, a good part of the old world, tonight. And that felt good.
Earth’s Survivors: To Build a Nation.
Coming in early spring 2019 from Dell Sweet
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.
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.
Somewhere in the World
“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?”
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
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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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.
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
Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet, all rights Reserved
This material is NOT edited for content and is rated 18+. It contains language and adult situations…
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…
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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Yellowstone Yellowstone from W G Sweet: 74,000 years ago the last big super volcano eruptions to hit the planet Earth nearly wiped out civilization. It’s happening again. Join Jack and Maria as they search for safety and others… #Survival #Apocalypse #SuperVolcano
White Trash: They thought he had killed her in the trailer, but Jimmy knew that the blood and the brain matter that had been found had more than likely come from the bags, not Cross killing the girl, or the girl killing him, for that matter. #CrimeFiction
Billy lifted his gun and shot the zombie in the face. It seemed slow motion at first, the face exploded as it fell away into the back of the pickup, Beth drew a deep breath and tried to grab the wheel, but it was too late. #Zombie #Apocalypse
The mental health unit: Age thirteen, suicide attempt three. I tried suicide for the first time the year before at about twelve, or just turned twelve. The time before that had been accidental… #Addiction #Recovery
Crime Time: Crime Time is a collection of nine crime stories from author Dell Sweet. From short stories to near novel length… #CrimeFiction #Kindle
Mister Bob: Short stories from author Dell Sweet #ShortFiction #Amazon
His shirt stank, stuck to him with sweat. His boots were melted in places. The leather looked sandblasted and ratty. He took two of the pills, washed it down with water. Next big town, he told himself, he would get clothes… #UNDEAD #Dystopian https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-one/id1436765995?mt=11
“Grow up, John, as for those two?” He looked over at Madison and Cammy. “Don’t mess with them anymore… I understand your thoughts might have gotten messed up… It’s tough times like this that can do that, but they are their own, not your own.” #action https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-two/id1156649961?mt=11
He had gone up to the roof twice during the day and looked over the city.
It appeared to be dead. There was a precinct only two blocks away, deserted, doors hanging open. Looters were carrying away cheap computer systems and who knew what else… #Survive https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-three/id1156638728?mt=11
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 stuff is. Look at the way the Doc suits up. Clayton Hunter will be in rigor before anyone gets there, besides… It’s Airborn, dude…” #Horror https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-four/id1156637747?mt=11
We came across a dead man laying by the road. I could have sworn he moved, so I hurried to him, but I got closer and I could see he was long dead. We stood a moment and then left. Later when we came back he was gone, and I thought, was he dead? Was he? … https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/america-the-dead-survivor-stories-five/id1157353753?mt=11
A collection of seven crime stories… They had been drinking one night when Robby had come out with the murder bit. Jeff had been talking about other men he had met in prison, before he had met Robbie…
Connected: Dello Green… Smith, who now resided in the trunk of the Dodge, had met Jimmy on a back road of the local base. Jimmy was now at the dump, because late afternoon was a perfect time to dispose of a body…
Connected: Sanger Road… Pulled from his mundane life, Carl finds a world where anything is possible if you are willing to risk everything…
A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive.
From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise…
It was the most tired I had ever been. I laid my head down and I was gone for a little while…
The sun is down all the way here. I went back upstairs. Nothing on the horizon. That time of evening when the sun is down and the moon has yet to rise. Very dark. Can’t see anything in any direction. Thought they must be all sleeping in the barn, but I heard some movements out near where I… Never mind what I did there, I’ll get to that soon enough, I guess. I only heard it once, but I know damn well it’s one of them… Some of them…
I don’t believe the whiskey is going to make it to daylight, but I have a feeling I’m not going to make it to daylight either… Feeling funny now, not myself… I’ll try to get this done…
It was the 15th when I came awake in that truck. Hot, but desert heat…
It was late afternoon when Johnny awoke. Somewhere in the day Lana had wound up beside him. He lay still, unwilling to let her go, his hand was curled protectively around her. Lana moved and he felt the sleep leave her body. One moment soft and willing, the next a live wire.
“You didn’t cop a feel did you?” Lana asked in a mumbled half sleepy voice.
“Lana, can’t you ever just say something like, good morning?”
She twisted her head around and smiled. The secret smile she rarely ever gave out. “Good late afternoon,” she said and the smile slipped away. There was still something there, but it wasn’t that secret, vulnerable glimpse into her heart that it was usually. She stretched, yawned, and her feet came up against the door. “Next vehicle we get is an SUV so we have some place to sleep too.”
“I don’t know, I kind of liked this,” Johnny said before he could shut his mouth down.
Lana laughed and it was the unguarded Lana once more. “As long as you know what the deal is.” She twisted her head once more, and then her entire body so she was looking directly into his eyes.
“I… I know the deal,” Johnny said. The press of her body was maddening.
“We really don’t need to talk it out?”
Johnny shook his head and looked away. “I’m a little too old for you, Lana. I know.”
Her eyes became sad. “Let me just say these few things.” She took a deep breath and then began to speak. “I am attracted to you. I considered sleeping with you before you became my friend, before I knew it couldn’t work between us. I even considered it after… Maybe ten minutes ago too, but it would cost me a friend because it wouldn’t mean to me what it would mean to you. It has nothing to do with age or anything else.” She held his eyes as if willing him to understand.
“It’s like you see me as this fragile little princess, and I am so far from that, Johnny. So far. I can’t see why you try to see me that way.” She laughed. “It’s a thing men do. Like… Like that is love, you see? Instead of love just being about all the other stuff… The things I admire about you, you about me. The things in common, the things that we share, the parts of you and me that are real that end up in the mix… But no, I’m a princess, unattainable beauty, something to worship, and it has nothing to do with what I really am at all. I have lived that way, tried to live up to that. It’s not possible… The man I need is out there, I hope. Just someone that looks at me as me.” She watched his eyes…
Get Apocalypse Free!
Fig Street is Copyright © Wendell Sweet 2018.
All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Wendell Sweet
Some text copyright 1984, 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.
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2018 Wendell G. Sweet. Dell Sweet, W. G. Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell G. Sweet. 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.
June: Jimmy Chang’s
“So, listen, it’s like this. When I die… No… It has nothing to do with when I die. Okay, when the people in my life who have screwed me over die? They will have to pay for what they did to me,” Bobby Weston said.
“Oh. Oh, okay. I got it. The eventual retribution deal. In other words, okay, screw me over right now, but when I die you are so done,” John said.
“Okay. Yes, but not totally. I won’t get them back, God will do it for me.”
Johnny chuckled. “So God, the God, will personally pay these low rent bastards back for you… Sweet. Very sweet.”
Bobby nodded. “And it’s all biblical too. I mean completely. God says he’ll take care of it. Don’t worry about it. I got you.”
“I would like to hear God say I got you somewhere, because to be honest I have never heard him say it here. It seems kind of like a scam though that you got to wait until you’re dead to hear it. I mean what the hell is that? Who can say if that’s the deal, whether it’s real or not? I mean that is kind of a perfect con job. That’s like… That’s like those bank account scams. You know, the guy approaches you and says: “Hey! I got a million dollars in this account, but those bastards won’t let me have it. Talking about some sort of transfer fee. That’s messed up too because I don’t have no transfer fee. I mean, that’s messed up isn’t it? I can’t get the money… My own goddamned money, it’s my money, without paying this transfer fee.”
“Jesus Christ, you make me wanna give you the money, Johnny.”
“Exactly, and that is the scam. You give me my money for the transfer fee. We set it all up legal too, and bam. I got you. I’m gone. Your money’s gone. It’s a wrap, and you never see that money back or whatever I promised extra to you to get you to do it. So… So this thing is the same. You’re dead, how do you know?”
The crowd in the bar was quiet. It was early yet, the noisy younger crowd wasn’t in yet.
Jimmy Chang’s was a neighborhood bar. You wouldn’t think so in East Glennville which seemed predominantly white, but the Asians had been here far longer than some of the prominent white families. Jimmy Chang’s grandfather had come for the railroad work out west back in the 1800’s. When the work died out he had brought his family north and settled in Glennville. There were three branches of the family now: Jimmy, who ran the bar the old man had built first and saw through the dry years of prohibition. His sister Alice who ran Chang’s which was about the closest thing that Glennville had to a Coat and Tie restaurant. And Jimmy’s uncle Billy who owned a truck stop just outside of the city. The truck stop was known across the U.S. by truckers who had spread the word. Bobby had eaten there more than once. It was better food than any of the other nearby diners, and more of it too.
Bobby smiled, ignoring the pain in his side. It had been there a few days now. Maybe a little too much jogging, that stitch in your side that didn’t want to go away. Maybe he had pulled or sprained something: Who could tell. He’d had it before, or something like it, and it had passed. This would too. “Listen, Johnny… It won’t be like that for me because I’ll be right there… I’ll know… I’ll see it.”
“No… No… I mean, like… You are alive now… I’m alive now. Two seconds from now I drop dead, how do you know what I see or don’t see? How can you know even? I mean you have to die to collect, that’s pretty suspect to me, man. No die. No know,” Johnny shrugged his shoulders.
Bobby nodded. “I know. I see. But I…”
“… Been dead before… I know…” He shook his head. “It’s about the only thing that makes me believe.”
“Yep. I mean, I believe you. I don’t think you made it up. I’ve known you all of your life. I believe it.”
“Me too,” Bobby agreed. They both laughed.
Johnny hadn’t moved to Glennville and become friends with Bobby until his early teens, but he had heard the story. Back in the fourth grade Bobby had gone fishing alone. He had crossed the Black while the dam wasn’t running, and crossed over to Saints Island to fish. He had been to that island before as a younger kid with his dad. It was an easy cross, but Bobby hadn’t known anything about the dam and the levels of water in the Black. How they could change in a matter of a minute or two. When he had started back across the top of the dam to cross the Black to get back to the main road he had slipped and gone under. A fisherman had just happened to see his head as he went under. He had managed to snag Bobby and get him to shore, but he had stopped breathing, his lungs full of water.
Bobby had been in the hospital for a month in a coma. Then one day he had awakened. The same old Bobby: Like nothing had ever happened. Except he swore that he had not been dead that whole time, or gone away from his body even when he had been dead on the river bank. He claimed to remember every part of it; all of it, right down to the fisherman’s thoughts as he had hauled Bobby out. “This kids a goner,” he had thought. “Ain’t no hope for him at all.”
Still he had gone to work, picking up his arms, flushing out his lungs, pounding his back, compressing his chest to empty the lungs. If you lived near the river things happened more often than people thought that they did. A truck had stopped on the road above the river and a power company employee had scrambled down the bank to the river. He had taken over and begun CPR; the training was required. He had never used it until then.
He had even turned Bobby upside down and wailed his back hard enough to leave bruises. He had been as surprised as anyone else had been later when Bobby had coughed, sputtered, and then began to breathe once more. Between the two of them they had laid him out on the seat of the power company truck and the man had driven him the three miles to the Glennville Community hospital.
Johnny had never forgotten Bobby relating that experience to him. He had tried to tell his parents but they had dismissed it. Johnny hadn’t. Over the years the story had never changed and Johnny had come to believe it.
He sighed and looked around the bar. The day was growing old, already a few of the younger crowd had wandered in. Looking to nail down a stool or a booth for the evening.
“Coming in earlier and earlier every day, huh?” Bobby said.
“Exactly what I was thinking… Pretty soon it won’t be our place anymore at all.” Johnny sighed again.
“Hey, let’s go to Billy’s. They got those tables right outside. The night is nice. Shit, summer will be gone before we know it. I’ll buy steaks, what do you say?” Bobby asked.
“I say that sounds goddamn good to me, that’s what I say,” Johnny agreed. He threw a ten on the bar and then followed Bobby out of the bar.
July: Jimmy Chang’s
The bar was beginning to fill up. A young guy with a shaved head and a couple pounds of metal in his face slid in next to Bobby and eyeballed him hard. Bobby turned away. He looked over at Johnny and Johnny raised his eyebrows in a What the hell gesture.
Bobby had swung by Johnny’s work place at the Ford dealership and picked him up after work. Johnny’s car was in the shop. He could have gotten a rental right through the dealership, cheaply too, but that went against Johnny’s principle of paying for something he could get for free. A ride from Bobby was free. Always had been since they had been in high school driving clunkers that would have been better off in the junkyard. Johnny had always joked that somehow Bobby always seemed to get the better junker. It broke down less, ran better, was more reliable. He didn’t know how that could be, but it had always worked out that way.
“Time moves on. It all becomes relative,” Bobby said picking up a conversation on politics that Bobby himself had started. The kid’s cologne drifted across to him. Something from back in high school. Patchouli maybe, heavy and cloying. He picked up his beer and took a deep drink. His usual smile was not in evidence.
“Yeah…” Johnny cleared his throat and took a sip of his own drink. “I just hate those bastards. Relative or not, and I ain’t saying it isn’t relative to the way we vote, live, whatever, but the politicians seem to stay the same. No good, broke down lying bastards that would gladly swipe a lollipop from a little kid and then sell it back to them in the guise of some public work project. And!” He smiled widely. “Make the kid think he had gotten something in the deal.”
That bought a ghost of a smile to Bobby’s lips. “Hey, let’s take this out back,” Bobby suddenly suggested.
“Uh… Sure,“ Johnny agreed. “You gonna pound my ass or what? Sorry I called the politicians all broke down bastards, I know Ruth’s brother Don is one.” Ruth was Bobby’s wife of twenty five years.
Bobby laughed. “No ass pounding, just need a little fresh air.” He shot a hard look at the young guy who looked away and nursed his flavored vodka. “Besides, Donnie is the worst of the worst.” He laughed and Johnny joined in. He caught Jimmy’s eye and motioned toward the back door; Jimmy nodded. He didn’t like his bottles walking out. He owed the deposit on them. And he was one tight bastard, but he knew that Bobby would be bringing his bottle back.
They stepped out into the bright moonlight of early evening. The air was cooler. For the last several days it had been super hot. Global warming they said, global holy shit it’s hot, he thought.
“So what’s up with you? … You putting your garage addition on this year,” Johnny asked, fishing for the subject that had bought them outside.
“Oh yeah. Yeah it’s going up. Got the loan. It’s in the bank account. Hired Jeremy Jefferson. Starts in two weeks.”
“Shit. I’m hanging out over there every night after it’s done.”
“Me too,” Bobby agreed. They both laughed again. Bobby sighed heavily. “Cancer, man, the big C.” He sipped at his beer. “All through me… Nothing to do for it.”
Johnny was struck silent. “I don’t even know what to say,” he said at last.
“Well there’s nothing to say,” Bobby agreed.
“But you’re still gonna build that addition?”
“Yeah… Hell yeah… I’ve waited for that forever. Besides. I’ve known men that had a few months left to live that far outlived that.”
“That what they said? A few months.”
“At the outside,” Bobby said quietly.”
The silence spun out. A small group of bats left the tall chimney which was all that remained of an old plant across the tracks and flew across the moon.
“Damn Indiana Brown Bats,” Johnny said.
“Yep. Had to tear the factory down, but they couldn’t touch the stack. Had to fix it up instead… Preserve it… Christ they’ll be sticking money into that stack for the next several centuries to keep it up. Can’t let it fall it’s their natural home now.”
“Yeah… I was shocked when the EPA decided to do that.” The bats flew off and the silence returned.
“So… What you gonna do… I mean really… What are you going to do? What can I do?” Johnny turned to Bobby.
“Really nothing… Come on over and hang out. Watch the garage go up. I’m positive I’ll beat this shit. I don’t really even feel bad… Sick.”
“Sounds like you don’t believe it,” Johnny said.
“You know what? That’s right. This ain’t like being dead… I don’t feel it. I feel like it isn’t real. Just a phase in my life someone got wrong is all…” He made eye contact and winked. “Did you know that once Donnie tried to talk me into some land deal? Swamp land!”
“Yeah… I remember you telling me. Real swamp land too,” Johnny laughed.
“Bastard sold it all and him and his partners made a few million on the down low. Who would think you could sell swampland? Not me.”
Their laughter rose up into the moonlit summer sky. Bobby tipped his beer bottle, drained it, looked at Johnny, “Another?”
“Yeah… One more,” Johnny agreed and laughed.
October: Bobby’s House
Johnny Miller stood at the edge of the sidewalk and stared at the half finished garage. His German Shepherd Tank beside him. Ruth, Bobby’s wife, had stopped the construction as soon as he had died. The garage had sat there unfinished all through the balance of the summer and into early fall. He had heard the new owners intended to finish it before winter. He thought about that. Bobby Johnson was barely cold in his grave and some other guy was going to finish his garage and sit down and have himself a beer. A beer Johnny and Bobby had planned to have once it was done and never had. Never had, had the time for. Two weeks after their night at Jimmy Chang’s when Bobby had told him about his cancer; he had dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Forty three. Healthy. Worked out twice a week. Jogged. Bang: Out of the blue. And Ruth had already sold the house and been gone for three weeks. Gone for three weeks. Back to her people in Minnesota. Jesus please us.
Tank’s nails clicked on the pavement and Johnny looked back at the sidewalk from the garage. The German Shepherd wagged his bushy tail and cocked his head. Johnny smiled. So the big C hadn’t taken him. How was that for ironic? He wondered briefly about the life after death conversation they had, had. Well, he decided now, if there was some kind of life after death Bobby was right there. He lifted his head and looked around. Maybe even watching him right now. He wondered about that for a few moments and then the big dog whined, breaking into his thoughts.
“Yeah… Let’s go, Tank. Let’s finish this walk, buddy.”
Tank needed no further urging, eagerly examining both sides of the walk as he began padding down the sidewalk once more, tugging lightly at his leash. Tank crossed the short expanse of leaf strewn berm, stopped suddenly causing Johnny to plow into him, and then took off into the street dragging Johnny with him. The end of the nylon leash burned his palm as it Tank yanked it from him and broke into a gallop. Johnny lunged off the berm and into the roadway trying to catch it, but he was too late. Tank was already across the street as he straightened, chasing after whatever had caught his attention.
He began to straighten from the crouch he had found himself in when the entire world suddenly burst into bright light.
Sisters of Mercy Hospital: Room 357
Becky Miller smoothed the sheets that covered Johnny, careful not to disturb all the wires and tubes that were a part of who Johnny was now. Her brother spoke from the doorway behind her and she turned and gave him a strained smile.
“Sorry,” Dell Anders said. “I thought I would offer to sit for a while… Let you get a break… Some sleep.” He moved from the doorway and hugged her to his chest. He felt her chest hitch, once, twice and then she began to sob. He eased her over to the chairs and sat her down, pulled another close and held her as she cried…
…Johnny was walking the tracks that split the neighborhood behind Fig Street: It was night… Silent and he was not alone, a young boy walked beside him. Talking quietly as Johnny listened: leading him forward; guiding him through the darkness…
“…It’s me, Bobby,” the dream boy told Johnny Miller.
Johnny stared at the kid as they walked the tracks. He had noticed something was familiar but he hadn’t been able to place what that was. He looked down at himself. He was the same. An old man following along as a little kid walked the tracks, balancing on the rails. He stopped, lost for a second.
“You okay?” Bobby asked as he stopped and turned back to face him.
“Yeah… I think, but why are you in my dream? I didn’t know you then… This place… Did I?” Johnny asked.
“Yes and no. We share certain things.” He walked back and looked up at Johnny; his face serious.
“Will you come with me?” Bobby asked urgently.
This is the strangest dream I’ve ever had, Johnny thought. He stared around at the dark trees; the cold moonlight glinting off the steel rails. The young boy faced Johnny where he stood in the road.
“It’s no dream, Johnny, no dream at all, honestly. You can’t think of it as a dream either. If you do it’ll kill you, man. For real, I swear… Will you come?” Bobby asked again. His bright blue eyes seemed to glow as they locked on Johnny’s own.
“Where?” Johnny asked. The sound of his own voice startled him. It had changed. Become a child’s voice. A voice locked on the edge of change. A voice in between man and boy. He glanced down at his body and was not surprised to see that it had also changed. What he saw was a child’s body. And not just any child, but the same child he himself had been so many years before. The same wash faded jeans, with the same patched knees. He clearly remembered those jeans. Clearly remembered his mother carefully mending the knees. The same scuffed high top sneakers, with the same knotted laces. He raised his eyes and stared back at the small boy.
Bobby moved closer, seeming to float above the surface of the road. “Now. We need to go now. There isn’t much time,” Bobby told him.
The darkness split apart, and gray rock walls sprung up where the trees had been. In the distance Johnny could hear the laughter of children echoing against the cold stone walls. The laughter turned to screams. Shrill, panicked and growing closer, the low bass growl of a wolf mixed in with the screaming. Johnny started to move towards the sound.
“No! Bobby told him. “You’ll die. Not yet. We have to be first, see? We ain’t yet. It’s too early, man. Too early. you’ll die if you try to stop it now.”
“But?” Johnny asked aloud in his child’s voice.
“Home, man,” Bobby told him. “Home first, then here, after.”
The rock walls suddenly faded, replaced by a night darkened and quiet street. Houses lined one side of the street, a huge gravel lot filled the other side. Beyond the edge of the gravel lot long rows of leaning, crumbled buildings stood outlined in pale moonlight. The remnants of a chain-link fence ran partway down the street, still enclosing the buildings in places, overgrown and fallen in others. Johnny turned toward the houses and began to walk
“Here. Right here,” Bobby told him as they walked towards one particular house.
Johnny skirted the dirt front yard of the run-down old house behind Bobby. Peeling gray paint clung to the weathered clapboard, glass from the shattered windows lay glittering in the darkness. The few that remained were filthy yellowed panes set in crumbling frames, impossible to see through. Flecks of gray littered the hard-packed dirt yard. He rounded the side of the house and stopped. A long rope dangled from a broken second floor window. “Here?” Johnny asked.
“Here,” Bobby agreed. He began to climb the rope to the window that stood open above it. He paused part way up and stared back at Johnny where he stood watching. “Climb it, man. That’s my room up there.”
The rope was not nearly as hard to climb as Johnny had thought it would be. He made his way quickly to the top, and eased over the sill into the small room. The room was dark and quiet. He made his way to a narrow cot in one corner and sat down next to Bobby. “And?” he whispered.
“Morning. We gotta wait for morning. Then we can start. Then we can do something, see?”
“No,” Johnny whispered, “I don’t see… Start what? Do What?”
“We all gotta meet,” Bobby told him. “It’s hard to explain. You see, I was here. I lived here, and there are two other kids here. They live close by. We gotta do something important, see? And we need you. We need your help, man, get it?
“No,” Johnny replied honestly, “I don’t.”
“You will. Go to sleep, man. In the morning we’ll start. In the morning. It’ll be different this time. It will.”
Johnny laid down on the narrow cot and closed his eyes.
Sleeping in a dream, he thought. A dream about sleeping. Weird.
“Not a dream,” Bobby reminded him as he spiraled away into darkness. “Not a dream.” …
Fig Street from Dell Sweet, due this Fall from Smashwords, Amazon, Nook, Kobo and iBooks…
Earth’s Survivors SE4: The story of Candace and Mike
Posted by Geo Dell 04-28-18
Happy Saturday! This morning I will leave you with a look at Earth’s Survivors SE 4 which will be available the first part of April at all the major booksellers.
A little background on SE 4 and what it is: SE 4 is the story of Mike and Candace. In the Zombie Plagues Mike and Candace are prominent characters, but in the Earth’s Survivors books they are barely mentioned at all. This book gathers all the story lines of Mike and Candace and brings them together and provides the missing pieces that explain where they went to. This is yet another fan suggested book. Candace and Mike are the Characters that the most questions are asked about in both series. Hopefully this will satisfy those questions, Geo…
Earth’s Survivors Se 4: The story of Candace and Mike
By Dell Sweet
The Earth’s Survivors SE series follows follow Mike, Candace and a few other survivors as they struggle to stay alive in a vastly changed world. In the early morning hours of March 1st great change came upon the entire planet, touching the small northern New York town where Mike and Candace lived. Earth’s Survivors SE four is the only story that completes the original story of Candace and Mike…
This is Copyrighted Material!
This material is NOT edited for content
THE EARTH’S SURVIVORS SE 4
The story of Candace and Mike
PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet
Earth’s Survivors: SE Four: the story of Candace and Mike is © Copyright 2017 Wendell Sweet, all rights reserved.
Additional Copyrights © 2010 – 2012, 2014, 2015 by Wendell 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. 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.
The small crowd of people was armed, Mike saw, long before they actually reached the wide street and crossed over into their parking lot. Behind him, in the store, he had heard the sound of breaking glass several times. Presumably Candace and Patty breaking open display cases.
“Think they can see us in here?” he asked.
“Probably too dark,” Glenn answered as Candace and Patty came back with their arms loaded down with high powered rifles and shotguns.
“Careful,” Candace said, her breath coming fast. “These are loaded.” A small line of blood ran away from one knuckle as she passed Mike a rifle that looked like it would be more at home in a war.
“You’re hurt,” Mike said.
Candace laughed. “Just glass from a case… It’s nothing.”
“Not a girl,” Mike said
“Or even close,” Candace agreed with a smile. She stepped close to the front of the entrance way, still deep in shadow, but just behind the shattered doors.
There were a dozen of them when they came to a stop just thirty feet away from the doors. Women and kids, the old man and a younger guy hanging toward the back. The two men and three of the women were armed.
“We know you’re in there,” The lead man shouted out. He was an older man, short silver hair, thin, the ragged remains of a suit hanging from his shoulders. “We don’t want trouble… Just company… Safety… The nights are pretty bad now. I guess you know.” He made to step forward again.
“No… Right there is fine,” Candace said.
The man stopped. “I told you, we come in peace.” The man said as she stepped from the shadows. Ronnie moved out with her and a second later Patty and Mike joined her. Mike motioned to the rest to stay inside.
“Every bad alien movie I ever saw started just exactly that way,” Candace said.
“Is that what you think?” The man asked. “Aliens? Well, I’m no alien… I don’t know what happened but I don’t think it was alien, or aliens, unless you count the meteor that might or might not have hit us. And I’m obviously not one of the gangs or I wouldn’t be out here in the daylight talking to you.”
The silence held a long time.
“You hear me?” The older man said.
“I heard you,” Candace agreed. “What do you mean one of the gangs? Not one of the gangs?”
The man laughed. A short hard laugh that had nothing to do with amusement at all. “Are you serious?”
“If I wasn’t serious I wouldn’t have asked,” Candace told him.
“But… Okay… Why can’t we do this in there? Look at what I have here… A handful of scared mothers with a few children. The young guy at the back is okay. Why don’t we do this in there? I don’t like being out in the open. It’s just the gangs we have to worry about.” He looked off in all directions as he talked.
Candace looked over the group and then over at Mike. “Nothing we can’t deal with,” Mike agreed. Her eye’s met Patty’s and then Ronnie’s. They both nodded. “So you know there are more of us inside. Don’t be stupid.”
“Wouldn’t think of it,” The old man agreed. “John,” he said.
Candace just nodded and motioned him forward.
They were all gathered around a small fire that Glenn had started for heat and light. The nights were still cold. Glenn had built the fire in an empty fifty five gallon drum they had rolled out from the back. It the smoke detectors had still been working they would have had trouble, but as it was the smoke just gathered high up in the steel rafters and found its way to the outside from there.
“What do you know,” John asked. “That might be a better place to start.”
“Practically nothing,” Glenn answered. “We all met downtown a few days back… Earth quake… Meteor. Everything wrecked and no answers.”
John nodded. “Okay,” He rested his head in his hands for a moment, and then looked up. His eyes were red; the bags under his eyes bruised and heavy. “The second. It happened overnight, the first, the end of the first. I don’t know what it was, anymore than you do, but I suspect the meteor they said would miss us didn’t. Maybe that started a whole chain of events. So, aliens? No. I think our own government did us in though. I can see your view too, because there is something alien about it. About the way we would view it, the way you would view it. Yesterday the planes came over. Big Cargo planes. Sprayed blue stuff over the entire city. We thought for sure we were done right then, but whatever that was it didn’t kill us, didn’t seem to do anything to us… But I wonder, I really do…” He seemed to zone out for a second.
“John?” Glenn asked quietly.
He laughed. “Sorry. I need sleep. Sleep is what I need. Gangs,” he took a deep breath. “This city, most of the cities I’ve been hearing about on the CB are controlled by Gangs now. They’re out all night rounding us up. The other survivors…” He frowned heavily. “I’ll be straight, not much use for other men… ‘Less they think like them. Not much use for the children either. Women, gas, cash,” he laughed again. “They seem to think a day will come when it will all be worth something again.”
“You don’t?” Candace asked.
“I don’t,” John agreed. “I think somebody mucked up badly… I can’t believe it was all an accident. Washington? Dead. L.A.? Dead. New York? Dead as well. There have been reports of the President being killed. In the end the Secret Service deserted him. The few that remained fled. The whole thing fell apart. And it’s no better in other countries from what I have heard on the CB. Some of it could be exaggerated… Could be fear talking… But I don’t think so. I think most of it is absolute truth. I think it all failed and we’re on our own. That’s what I think.”
Candace looked over as Patty sprang to her feet and walked away into the darkness of the store. “I’ll be back,” Candace said. She got up and followed.
“I appreciate the truth, John,” Mike said.
John nodded. “Upset us too. Nothing for it that I can see.”
“Where are you from,” Mike asked.
“Rochester… Haven’t heard much from it except there is a glow to the west… Could be they still have power there.”
“Hey inside!” This from the parking lot that was now edging quickly toward twilight.
“Shit,” Ronnie said. “Forgot all about that.” He jumped to his feet and headed to the opening, Mike right behind him.
“Guess we’ll have to post a guard or something,” Mike agreed. He stared out at two small groups that stood in the darkness looking around at the deepening shadows. Ronnie spoke.
“What is it you want?” Ronnie asked.
“What is it we want? Are you kidding me? We want in there, out of the cold, the night.” The guy was tall and dirty looking in the darkening light, but Ronnie supposed they all probably looked a little rough. “Talking like that ain’t gonna get you in here,” Ronnie told him. “In fact it will get you an invitation to hit the road.”
A woman who was leading the second group, off to the right of the first group spoke up. “Look, man. We’re all on edge right now. We just want to share your shelter. Manny is not so good with diplomacy.”
“Manny?” Ronnie asked.
She nodded to the other group, “Manuel… Manny.”
“These groups ain’t bad,” John said from beyond the doorway, hidden in the shadows.
“You vouch for them?” Mike asked.
“No… I won’t go that far. I will say I have seen them around… They are not part of the gangs that are all over the place at night in the city. Not these two.”
“Good enough for me… Ed? Ronnie? Anyone else have an objection?”
“We’ll just watch them kind of close,” Dave said.”
“Okay… Well, somebody better go get Patty and Candace… Just to be safe.” He turned back to the parking lot and the two waiting groups. “Slow,” he called out. “Slow and keep those rifles pointed down.”