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Notes from the Edge 04-21-2024


Posted on April 22, 2024 by dello

 Notes from the Edge 04-21-2024

E.R. Visit

Wound up in the E.R. the other evening/morning with my wife who was not feeling well; wow, what an eye opener that was.

Got there the previous afternoon at around 4:00 PM or so. It was semi busy, looked about the same as it did twenty years ago, the last time I was in an E.R. waiting anyway; but within just a few moments I realized how different it was.

The first thing I noticed was Homeless People in the ER. Lounging, stealing pens and talking nurses and security staff into crackers, sodas, ice water, socks. I was amazed at how things were. Who knew? Well, apparently the hospital is because one of the homeless people was a handful for several hours. He got a staff member to give him a glass of ice and then went over to an abandoned half bottle of soda and poured over the ice and drank it. The man across from him said something to him and he made several colorful remarks back including “It ain’t your f*ckin’ soda so shut the f*ck up. I reminded myself to keep my f*ckin’ mouth shut, which I did, but when I turned back to my wife, she was glancing past me to the left trying to get me to look, so I did.

Nothing special a young girl all curled up in a single seat, she was that small with pink toenails sticking out, which is what I thought she was referring to. I shook my head, I didn’t get it, so she cut her eyes again and I looked back, this time sliding past the pink toenails to a large expanse of bare ass sticking out of those skin-tight see-through- yoga pants she had on that a lot of women seem to wear, that has somehow slid off her hips and down to the middle of her ass. A full moon.

I almost laughed and then had to remind myself that I had looked with permission, but I had better not look again. I think I said something like ‘Urk” I didn’t know what else to say.

About then homeless man one starting wandering around the E.R. talking to himself. Things like: “Lass week I’s in Buffalo shootin’ H. Been out since Saturday.” Then he looks at you like he might just cut you for your pocket change.

Cut my eyes away, overshot and wound up looking at that wide expanse of ass again. Jeezz, I said to myself, out loud.

“What are you looking at that woman’s ass again for?” My wife asked. “Wasn’t I lied,” and nodded at the mumbling homeless man who had luckily migrated to the general area of behind the woman’s ass.

My wife left off, satisfied but why is there something like that in an E.R. anyway?

Things chilled out for eleven seconds and then the girl must have felt a breeze on her ass and tugged up her yoga pants. I swear withing a very few seconds they were back down so far, I was sure there was going to be a serious breach of panties at any moment. And, the thing is, those yoga pants are so thin you can see everything through them, panties, EVERYTHING. I felt like switching places with my wife, having her run interference. But, no, this was my problem and so I forced my eyes back to wandering around the ER.

Homeless man 1 got a nurse to give him a Sprite and some snacks. He was happy for a moment, and that was when homeless man two showed up. He asked to see a patient that did not exists. When the security guard told him there was no such patient he said “Oh, Okay,” and wandered away to a small corner of the waiting room that held a few chairs and disappeared from the security guard. Suddenly security guard 2 shows up, is informed by security guard 1 that there may be a problem, and heads over to the area homeless man 2 disappeared in.

We could hear a brief argument: Yes, we, the whole damn room was bored, waiting to be seen and since the wide expanse of ass had once again been covered there was nothing else to do, then the two of them came out of the corner with homeless man 2 protesting that he had simply forgot to sign in. The security guard walks him to the sign-in table right next my wife and I and hands him the paper to fill out. The homeless man stood for a few moments, fumbled with the pen, stole two of the pens and then headed down the hallway the went back into the ER proper.

“HEY!” Yelled the security guard from the desk, “you can’t go down there! But down there he went and so the security guard chased him down and he came back reluctantly. And, just as the security guard sat down the homeless guy starts scream and jumping up and down and shaking his fists in front of the desk and trying to eyeball all of us with the stank eye at the same time. “I Want a Psych Review! I WANT A F*CKIN’ PSYCH REVIEW RIGHT NOW!!!

That puckered me up. I have seen crazy before, and I don’t like it. Especially when I have a wife right next to me and in between me and sir crazy. So, I edged forward. Old I may be, but I weigh 270 and if he comes to close to my wife, he’s going to lay down hard.

He didn’t. A second later he bolted down the hallway again this time pursued by a skinny security guard who apparently had bigger kahunas that the other fat security guard. We didn’t see him again for a while, so I assume he got his wish for a psych eval.

I believe it was about four hours later when my wife was finally called back to see the actual doctor; after a cat scan, blood work and an exam by a PA and a nurse. This was around midnight.

Within seconds of her leaving the semi naked woman next to me began to cry. Uh uh, I told myself. Your wife will kill you. And so, I sat there like the sane old bastard I am and let her cry. I felt bad, but the older you get you either get smarted or you find yourself the star of an episode of Snapped where wifey buried you in the back yard garden, and they only discovered you because the cat partially disinterred you while crapping on you.

Two hours after that, with more homeless man 1 con jobs on the nurses, and more expanses wide expanses of bare ass the nurse came and got me to take me back there. I admit it, I thanked God profusely.

It was after shift change the next day before we were seen by the doctor. And as we sat back there for hours waiting Homeless man 1 got sent to Pysch Eval too, where we overheard homeless man 2 already was. He ran in there as soon as the door to the mental health unit was opened. We finally ended the whole fiasco after 14 plus hours, no sleep, wifey finally got a shot that gave her some relief. 14 hours for a shot to help settle down a migraine. Crazy, and finding out that drug addicts and homeless people have, at least from what we saw, and the fact that the hospital staff catered to them as though they were used to giving them pens, paper, notebooks, sodas, crackers and more to settle them down, have pretty much tried to settle the problems they have in their lives by crashing in on the hospital E.R and mental Health units.

I left some things out because you wouldn’t believe it and I don’t want to exploit people as it was a real event. But next time you need to make an E.R. visit you might want to switch that to an urgent care, I understand those places are marginally worse for the care part, but substantially stricter for the crazies. Of course, I might add that Urgent Care had at least one doctor on, and the ER, 20 times larger also had only one doctor one…


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Notes from the Edge 02-01-24


Posted on April 18, 2024 by dello

News…

This week: It seems like last to this, the week flew by, and I had so much to do that I really couldn’t stop to think about it.

Microwave ovens and presets on microwave ovens: 

I like microwave ovens. They have made our lives better; I truly believe that. How else can you get a hot cup of coffee from yesterday’s leftover coffee in just about 120 seconds? Not that I do that. I mean drink yesterday’s left-over coffee… Okay… I do.

Here’s the thing though, it’s coffee! That’s my only argument. It should be enough though. I mean it’s like sacred, isn’t it? If I were living in a cave and discovered the coffee bean and bought it to my fellow cave dwellers, they would probably build a shrine for me and worship me… Paint pictures of Coffee beans on the cave walls instead of hands, horses and signs for water. History would have been changed! Well, would have been changed had that happened.

So, no. I won’t throw out coffee. I guess that is a shocking admission but it’s true.

Once, I can’t remember the movie, some western, the character threw the dregs of then coffee in his cup on the fire. The other guys around the fire looked at him like he was crazy… Crazy! And, he must have been. I was just a kid at the time, and I thought he was crazy! After that the other cowboys ostracized him. And he wasn’t asked along for the next roundup. That’s how serious a thing coffee was for cowboys back in the day. So. I don’t throw away coffee. Which brings me back to microwaves. Don’t you wish your mind worked the way mine does? See how I came right back to where I wanted to be? Okay. I don’t even know how my mind works; I just thank God that it does. So, Microwaves…

I like the idea of a Microwave, but I do have some issues with them. First, you cannot make popcorn consistently. In fact, I went to make popcorn the other day and the bag said, “Do not use the Popcorn Setting on your Microwave.”  Huh. Then why have the setting there? Isn’t that the whole idea? Ease of use? Push one button? Well, we’ll get to that in a minuet. The bag went on to give precise microwave instructions. If you have this many “Watts” use this amount of time. This many, that amount of time. I had a headache when I finished reading it. Finally, I put the popcorn back into the cupboard and got some chips instead and sank into a deep depression over the whole technology thing. How can you eat microwavable popcorn if the button settings are wrong, and you have to spend three hours figuring out wattage? You can’t just get out a pan and some butter, tear open the bag and do it that way, can you?

Well, as I sat eating my chips that I didn’t want I thought about that. There are a lot of buttons on a microwave. For instance, there is a beverage button on mine. It doesn’t work for beverages though. It leaves them too cold or too hot. But what if you accidentally pushed the popcorn button? And you then found out the popcorn button worked for beverages? Wouldn’t that be great? Well, it does. I tried. But the beverage button will not work for Popcorn. What a mess that was. But, in the end, I did go back out there, rip a popcorn bag open, and put it in a pan with some butter. Guess what? That did work.

As for the coffee on the popcorn setting it did come out pretty good, but I have an aversion to using a button marked Popcorn for coffee. But I wonder. If the popcorn companies don’t want you to use it, why do the microwave companies still make a popcorn button? Hmmm. And if the beverage button doesn’t work for beverages, what the Hell good is it anyway? And, if coffee is the most nuked beverage, why not a Coffee button? And stay with me here, if the Popcorn button isn’t used anyway, why not re-label it Coffee? Then I wouldn’t have to feel so bad about using the popcorn button for my coffee. Hey, I’m going to get one of those little label makers and make a coffee sticker and put it right over the Popcorn label. That will solve my problems for now. Feel free to just copy the picture above, print it out, and paste it on your own Microwave! No need to say thanks.

That only leaves the power button on mine. But that is kind of cool. You can press it, set the time amount, and watch the little turntable go around and around….

Have a good week…

Check out The Zombie Plagues:

The Zombie Plagues: Book One

by Geo Dell

ONE

Watertown

Tuesday Morning:

Project Bluechip

Major Richard Weston

He read the report twice and then carefully set it back on his desk. Johns or Kohlson: One of the two had stolen samples of SS-V2765. It was not a question. No one else had the access, no one else the proximity or knowledge of where it was stored. Two of the viruses, one each of the REX agents were missing. Enough to infect several million people and that was just the initial infection. From there the infected would go on to infect even more, where it stopped was anyone’s guess.

Knowing it was one of the two did not solve the problem of how for him though: There should have been no way to get it out. Every area of the facility was under surveillance. There had to be more than just one of the two involved.

From Complex C they were stripped down, showered: Out of the showers naked and into a locker room where they could retrieve their own personal clothing they had stripped out of that morning: Dressed, frisked, metal wanded and then allowed into the elevators that would take them six stories to the surface. This theft was not something either of them could have committed alone.

“Alice.” He picked up the report from his desk. “I have a problem… A problem that requires your… Expertise. Two fold… First; all the guard and camera operators for C Complex are to be relieved of duty. You will personally interrogate them and find out which of them took a payoff to look the other way… Our boys, Johns and Kohlson… Both or one smuggled out the virus.” He paused… “It hardly matters in the scheme of things, it changes nothing, but it is the principle of the thing.” He tossed her the report. “Read it… Quartermaster’s office… Handle that too?” Alice nodded before she bent and looked over the thick report. “Second thing is the virus agent, and the REX agents are out there somewhere.” Alice raised her head from the report. “Find it and bring it back?” Alice nodded once more before her head dipped low again; eyes devouring the report. Weston leaned back in his chair, the cigar that was a near permanent fixture in his mouth, rolling from side to side as he closed his eyes and rubbed at his temples. “It goes without saying… They’re all expendable,” he added as an afterthought.

“Sir,” Alice said before she returned to reading.

Ecuador

Jefferson Prescott’s Estate

Wednesday Morning

Andrea Zurita had been alive for the second time for more than three days. The men who had left her body had done so carefully: Senor Prescott would be very angry to find them on his land. Transgressions had been met with violence in the past, the bodies dumped into the ocean.

Andrea Ivanna Zurita had taken I’ll three days before in the small village near to Prescott’s property. She worked for Prescott, someone allowed on and off the property with ease. She had taken ill at work suddenly, no one knew the why of it and her family was poor: A doctor, other than the local clinic, was out of the question. So, she had been sent home to rest, but she had never made it to the local free clinic: She had lapsed into a coma a few hours later and while her family had still been reeling, she had died. No rhyme, no reason.

Andrea Zurita was a young woman, there seemed no reason for her sudden illness and death, but there were things that should be done and so the local Mirukus, shaman had come. A few words, prayers, the shaman was a transplanted Haitian. They understood most of what he said, but not everything. He had left and they had prepared her for burial. She was washed and dressed in a plain white cotton dress. The second day came, and the family came to call, leaving their wishes where she lay in her grandmother’s home. The third day came, and the burial was coming. Cousins, men who worked in a neighboring village, were on the way to open the grave. That was when Andrea had sat up and vomited blood.

Her eyes had rolled back into her head. Her body shaken, but her chest did not rise. She had spoken no words, but she had tried to rise several times before one of the arriving cousins, crossing himself, had bound her with rope, hand and foot. They had sent for the Mirukus again.

The old Haitian had come quickly, taken one look at Andrea and then spoken cryptically, quickly. “Return her to the man that has cast this spell on her. He has bound her to him in life and that has followed her into death. Return her for she is yours no longer.”

The Mirukus believed the white man, Prescott, had attempted to control the river spirit Pullujmu, to take control of the beautiful young woman for his own devices, but she had slipped over into death and was now controlled only by those who controlled the dead. He had left fearfully, quickly and had refused to come back for any reason. With nothing left to do for her they had taken her and left her bound body on the long drive that lead to the Prescott house. The white man may have her, but he would not have what he expected to have.

Jefferson Prescott.

Jefferson watched as the men carefully skirted the body of the young woman in the back of the patrol truck. They had picked her up and, not knowing what else to do, they had bought her to him.

Her eyes rolled in her head, but occasionally they would stop and focus, seeming to stare through him. Blood seeped from her open mouth, staining the front of what looked to be a burial garb of some sort. She was, at first, unrecognizable to him until one of the men told him she was his own worker, Andrea Ivanna Zurita: Kitchen help, among other things, she had been here for more than a year. To Jefferson’s Catholic upbringing she seemed possessed, and he kept his distance as he watched her, perhaps as superstitious as the local shaman had been.

He had eventually made the phone call to the Policía Nacional del Ecuador and left the matter in their hands. He had seen stranger than this in his time in Ecuador and had no doubt he would see it again. He sent one of his men into the small village with a thousand dollars in U.S. Currency, Ecuador had no currency of its own, for her family. A thousand dollars would go a long way for a poor family living in an equally poor village.

His phone had chimed, and he had excused himself to answer it. He was needed back in Manhattan; Ben Neo had found the answers he required. He pushed the problem of Andrea Zurita from his mind and concentrated on plans to leave that evening and return to Manhattan.

The Policía Nacional del Ecuador had come some hours later, taken her off his hands without question, as though they saw this sort of thing every day and he had never heard another thing about it or given it another thought. He had taken his private helicopter back to the United States later in the day as though nothing of any significance had occurred.

Manhattan

Wednesday evening

“You have a beautiful view, Mr. Prescott,” Ben Neo said. He stood on the balcony of the top floor of Prescott’s building which was his home in Manhattan and where his wife and two daughters lived full-time.

“I am rarely here,” Prescott said. “But I do enjoy the view when I am. My wife and daughters seem to like it too. My eldest daughter, Lita, seems to enjoy it more than my wife Esmeralda or my youngest Mia.” His eyes slid to Carlos who met them with his own. “But we’re working on that, aren’t we?” His comments seemed directed a Carlos. Carlos nodded. Not sure what he should say or do. “We are,” Prescott said. He sipped at his drink. “Are we all set for tomorrow?” he asked Carlos?

“We are,” Carlos said. “We’ll drive back to Rochester later tonight.”

“You own a home there?” He turned to Neo.

“Yes. Everything is there; we’ll take it from there to the meet in Watertown. Carlos will go with that, I’ll pick up the cash and then meet your guys there,” Neo said.

Prescott nodded. “It seems like Tommy, and I should just dispense with all the drama and just deliver the stuff directly to each other,” he said. He laughed, “But that would put both of you out of a job. And there are so many things I can’t handle as well or don’t have the time or inclination to handle, as well as you two.”

He was interrupted by Carlos’ cell phone ringing. Carlos’ dark face flushed with embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” he said, obviously not about to answer it. He fumbled it out of his pocket ready to shut it off.

“No, no,” Prescott said. “We were done. Take your call. It is all right, Carlos. Take it out here on the balcony. Benjamin and I will give you a little privacy… Won’t we, Ben?” he asked.

Ben nodded and they both stepped through into the living room and pulled the sliding glass door shut.

“Hello,” Carlos said, obviously upset. He listened. “I cannot believe you called me here,” he said. His voice was high and panicked. “Are you crazy? Did you know he was here with me? Right here with me? He is in the living room separated by a few pieces of glass. You are crazy. Crazy,” he took a couple of deep breaths while she spoke. “No… That is even crazier! While he is right here? Meet you with him in the house? Are you trying to get me killed…? No? It seems as though you are… It does… No… How…? How will he not know?” He listened for a few minutes glancing nervously through the glass, but Neo and Prescott stood with their backs to him over by the bar.

“Lita,” he said at last, “I will meet you… Nothing else… I have to leave later on…”

She continued to talk.

~

Ben stood silently drinking his drink. The two voices came clearly through the small scanner behind the bar. They listened to the conversation between Lita and Carlos.

“Did you know, Ben that they were simply radio signals, and they can be picked up easily?” Prescott asked.

“Yes… I did… Although I did not realize it could be done this easily,” Neo said.

“Cheap frequency scanner. I only need to know the frequency.” He sighed. “I’m sorry you are a witness to this embarrassment. I treated him like a son… She is my daughter. He has obviously corrupted her… Take him down through the basement, leave that way… Bring me back what I requested, Ben. I would almost do it myself; right now, but I will not bring murder into my home… Call me?” he asked.

Neo nodded. It was obvious that the conversation was over. Prescott reached behind the bar and flicked off the scanner. He pulled his phone from his pocket and punched in a number.

“Yes… Bring Mr. Neo’s car to the basement elevator… Thank you.” He hung up just as Carlos came back in through the sliding glass doors, rubbing his arms.

“A little cool, eh?” Prescott asked.

“A little,” Carlos answered. “About the phone call,” he started.

Prescott held up his hand. “Not necessary. Besides, we have had a change in plans. Ben here, along with you, will drive back now. A little earlier than we planned, but apparently Mr. Neo needs to take care of something for Tommy this evening… So… You, see?” He shook Neo’s hand. “Your car is waiting at the basement entrance.” He looked to Carlos, but his face was a mask: Unreadable. Carlos said goodbye and followed Neo to the elevator.

On the road

The idiot lights came on: Ben’s Ford bucked twice and then died. Carlos looked over from where he had been watching the lights of Manhattan slip away. They were in an abandoned industrial area on their way across the city.

“Not good,” Carlos said. “Especially here.”

“Hopefully it’s not a big deal,” Neo said. “And who would be stupid enough to mess with us?” he asked. He laughed and Carlos joined in. “I think it’s a loose wire. It happened once before,” Neo said. He coasted the car to a stop and shifted into park. He reached down, pulled the release handle and the hood popped up.

“With all the money you make. You should buy a better car,” Carlos said.

Neo nodded… “Too cheap, I guess. Will you pop that glove box and see if there’s a flashlight in there?  Should be.”

Carlos searched briefly and pulled out the flashlight, held it to his chin and turned it on. He laughed. “Makes me look like a dead guy,” Carlos said and laughed again.

Neo nodded. “Come and hold it for me and we’ll get this baby fixed and be on our way.”

They both climbed out and walked to the front of the car. Neo popped the second hood latch and pulled the prop rod into the air. “Back here,” Neo said. He pointed to a block of wires and one loose red wire that had pulled free. “I knew it,” he said. “Hang on, let me get the tape. Fix it a little better this time,” Neo said. He ducked back into the car and Carlos stood holding the flashlight and thinking to himself; wishing he could have met Lita, but glad that he had not, if Prescott ever found out he would be a dead man. He felt the car shift as Neo got back out and came around to stand beside him.

“Hey?” Neo said in a soft voice.

Carlos looked over at him.

“It’s not personal. I would have done her too,” Neo said. His hand came up fast and he shot Carlos twice between the eyes before he could say anything. Carlos dropped straight down: Folding up as he went. Neo shot his hand out and snatched the flashlight out of the air before it hit the ground. He bent down and checked the pulse at the side of Carlos’ neck to make sure, but Carlos was gone. The silenced 22 was perfect. Not enough velocity to exit the back of his head, just enough to kill him dead. He walked around to the back of the car.


Get the book: 

https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-billy-jingo/id712828059

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My Life in the sixties


Posted on April 14, 2024 by dello

The street that I grew up on. 

The house is the house we grew up in. We played tackle football on that road. 

Baseball in that gravel lot in the picture above, which is directly across from our house. 

The little white building pictured above? That was Major’s Market. If you had a quarter, you could get a sixteen-ounce Coke, or Pepsi if you prefer, or DR Pepper as I preferred. You could also get a large candy bar, and a handful of penny candy. All for that quarter. We used to love to walk down to Major’s Market and spend our money. 

We used to get up on the roof of that red building, which is a lumber storage barn, with a neighbor’s ladder to get our baseballs a few times a week. There would usually be three or four along with someone’s kickball, football, or basketball. The tackle football was a sometime thing. The thing being it never lasted long before someone got pissed and got in a fight. It hurts to be tackled on pavement. But once we walked about a mile to play football on the lawn of a church, and when we got there a funeral started and the minister told us we’d have to leave. So, we just played in the street. You didn’t have to worry about traffic, yes, all the families’ owned cars, but most of the dads were never around, so the cars weren’t around much either. You could play for a good two hours and never have a car come along. And if one did? Well, I hate to say it, but we weren’t so quick to get out of the street. After all it was our street, our neighborhood, go drive somewhere else. And, as I mentioned, it wasn’t likely to be anyone from the street. 

The blank area that looks like an old driveway full of bushes, is where the railroad tracks ran behind the lumber company. It doesn’t look like much now, but that was our private park back there. There were four tracks, three of them almost dead, one that ran from north into the city. The whole area was overgrown, and I think every kid on the block had a fort back there somewhere. Also, the trains used to stop there to pick up lumber, and or drop lumber off. So, there were huge concrete loading docks that we could survey our kingdoms from. 

Most of us boys used to go camping every weekend. That area in back of the lumber company was a great place to leave our bikes. It was our neighborhood, and kids for blocks around knew it. Nobody who wasn’t from the neighborhood went in there, so your bike was safe for the weekend. Leave the bikes, jump up on the rails and start walking north, balancing on the rail, toward Black River (Where I now Live). 

When we hit the small village of Huntingtonville (Above today: The old railway tracks have been converted to a trail walk that goes out of Watertown all the way to the village of Black River) we could fish, swim in the Black or both. There was a dam that many of us balanced across the top of to make our way to a small island in the middle of the river. It was an abandoned island. And we explored every inch of it at one time or another. 

We would find a place to camp out. Either a farmer’s field, or somewhere in the miles of forest that surrounded the Black, and even a long stretch of land that followed the riverbank. Flat but isolated. It had once been a railroad bed, abandoned for years. 

Sunday afternoon we were back on the tracks, balancing our way back to Olive Street, pick up our bikes (That way we didn’t have to go home) and head for Thompson Park. Walk those bikes up two miles of hill, hit the top, turn around and ride like the wind down off the park hill. If you hit the lights right, or dared to run them, you could coast all the way to the public square in Watertown. After all it was Sunday, everybody else was at church. We would end up at the First Baptist Church on the Public Square (A new England town square). I knew my sister was inside. I of course was a rebel and so I went to Catholic church sometimes with dad. Given a preference I’d rather go camping though. But that is the same sister that got me to love God by giving me a cassette tape (Jesus Christ Superstar). 

Then I had an accident and met God. Then two years on the street, addiction, alcoholism, running away from life, family, God. But life eventually got me back to that connection I had lost. The house looks a little different. The neighborhood a little rougher, if that is even possible. Somebody turned the little market into an apartment. And the city ripped up all the tracks that we used as our own private path to the entire world. But even if the pictures are different from what I remember, I still feel that love for those days when I look at them, Dell.


Books I have written using my hometown as a backdrop (Renamed to Glennville NY)

Glennville Series: https://books.apple.com/us/book-series/glennville/id1532766279


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Notes from the Edge 03-12-2024


Posted on April 13, 2024 by dello

 Notes from the Edge 03-12-2024

Happy Friday.

I am doing the after birthday regretting prayer, ie I ate too much, drank too much and I’m still really old and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. And the beer didn’t soften the fact that Father Time took another bite out of me.

Doing my blog today and loving the fact that it stopped raining earlier when the weather forecast came in and they are calling for snow tomorrow. Wow. It is crazy this year. Let it snow. I have plants to go out, but I have not transplanted them, and some of them are not even up yet because of how crazy the weather has been.

Marijuana is legal here in my state. I can’t stand it, never could, when I tried it as a kid it always made me sick, so I stuck to the Colt 45 and the Boones’ Farm Apple Wine or Strawberry Hill. Yes, as a kid. I grew up in the Sixties and Seventies. Love and Peace and Rock and Roll, which you may not be aware used to be sexual description at one time, not a music description. No wonder our parents hated it.

In any case drinking by eleven or so and running the streets by thirteen. Fourteen nearly killed me, literally and also found me living on the streets at a very young age for the next two years. Sixteen saw me in the Navy.

In any case, so, I grow marijuana for someone I love who uses it to deal with pain, life, be able to eat even sometimes. If you thought, it was all hype that Marijuana helped with pain and made it possible for some folks in pain nearly all of the time to live a better life, I can tell you it is true. It works. I would love to post it here but for some crazy reason it isn’t allowed. I am thinking of doing it on my own site but of course that would most likely get me labeled adult only and kill most of my traffic. All that for something that actually works. Go figure.

So, instead I’ll leave you with another installment of my America the Dead series of books. Episode 3 below, enjoy, Dell…                                

AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Based on the series by W. G. Sweet

Episode 3

PUBLISHED BY

Writerz.net Publishing

AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE

Copyright © 2019 by W. G. Sweet All Rights Reserved

Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty

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AMERICA the DEAD: EPISODE THREE

~

March 2nd

New York: Watertown

Joel and Haley

Morning

Joel Morrison awoke to the sounds of birds whistling in the early morning pre-dawn. Birds, he thought, usually the sounds from the mills drowned them out.

He had made it home around 6:00 PM the previous evening. He was working the midnight to eight shift and had stopped into the Rusty Nail after work to have a few drinks with some other guys from the paper mill.

He had wanted to leave before the bar began to fill up. The Rusty Nail had gotten more than a bit rowdy as of late. Two years before, one of Joel’s good friends, Moon Calloway, had been killed in the bar. That had seemed to turn the tide. After that point the bar had become much worse, a proving ground of sorts for the young GI’s from the base. Joel often wondered why he even bothered to hang around there at all. Last night it had seemed as though the rowdy element was showing up even earlier than it usually did, when Johnny Barnes had offered the ride Joel had accepted.

The house on Linden Street wasn’t much, but it was paid for, and Joel knew a lot of guys at the mill who either rented or were damn close to losing their homes to the bank. Times were tough in the old U-S-of-A, and at least he had the place free and clear.

He had practically fallen into bed once he had gotten home. He hadn’t realized how tired he was.

He’d been working all the short shifts he could get, along with his normal evening shifts, saving the money after he’d paid off the house, and today would be the start of his first real vacation in over twelve years.

Joel had grown up in the small city of Watertown and had never left. It suited him, he liked to think. Where else could you see the seasons change so vividly or take a quiet stroll through the woods anytime you felt, he often wondered. The Adirondacks were close by. The southern tier, where he hoped to be in just a few hours, he reminded himself, stretched away for miles. Forever wild lands, Lake Ontario, wetlands. And if he wanted the big city, it was just seventy miles away down route eighty-one.

This is going to be one great vacation, he thought, as he got out of bed. Despite the damn birds.

The vacation he had planned was a three-week camp out in the State Forest Preserve that started only twenty miles to the east. The preserve was nestled up to the military reservation and stretched from there all the way into Central New York. Joel had no idea exactly where he would camp. He had decided to just hike until he found a spot that suited him.

As he headed for the bathroom, he noticed that the clock on the dresser was off. Not blinking, but off, and he could vaguely recall dreaming of waking during the night to some loud noise.

It had seemed at first, when he had awakened within the dream, as though the entire house had been shaking. He had passed from that dream into another, but the noise and the shaking had seemed to accompany him into that dream as well. It had to have been the strangest dream he could ever recall having.

At first, he had been in his bedroom; the walls shaking around him, and the next thing he knew he had been standing on a stone pathway that overlooked a wide and deep valley that stretched away for miles before it hooked to the right and disappeared. Its forward path blocked by even higher mountains, with others lifting even higher behind that. He turned to follow the ridge lines back to where he was and the scene had shifted to the bedroom once more. He had found himself sitting up in bed, breathing hard, frightened, the room silent, wondering if this was just more of the dream or an actual waking. As he began trying to figure it out, waiting for his head to clear, he had found himself sitting on a bar stool in the Rusty Nail, Moon Calloway beside him holding down the other stool.

He tried speaking to Moon, but he either couldn’t hear him, or he pretended not to. In his dream he had still known Moon was dead, so it made sense to him that he could not speak to him. He turned to Mort to order a beer and Moon had suddenly spoken.

“It was right here, Joel… Right here. Bad place to die… Used sawdust on the floor… Soaks up the beer… The blood…. You know….”

He tried to turn as soon as he heard the voice, but by the time he turned the scene had shifted again. Instantly the bar was gone, and he found himself standing at the edge of what he took to be a lake at first. The water stretched away as far as he could see. There was a tang of salt on the air; red earth crumbled away as the waves came in, taking more land with it.  He could remember the salt smell from a trip to Florida as a kid with his grandparents. The smell of the sea.

“This is the place,” Moon said from beside him.

He turned expecting Moon to be gone, but he was standing a few feet away staring out over the water. He turned and looked at Joel. “You see it?” Moon asked.

“Yeah,” Joel managed. The word was barely audible, lost in the sounds of the sea as it worked to take the red dirt away. “Where,” Joel asked. “Where is it? What place is it?” He turned when Moon didn’t answer, but Moon was gone. He blinked and he was back in his bedroom, in bed in his own house on Linden Street, talking to a priest that was sitting on the edge of the bed. He remembered telling the priest that he just wanted to go back to sleep. That had apparently satisfied the priest, as he had shaken his head and seemed to float away.

Joel shook his head, recalling the dream as he entered the bathroom. He picked up his toothbrush from the small plastic cup that held it, squinted into the mirror, and turned on the cold-water tap.

Nothing happened. No rattle of the old pipes in the wall. Nothing.

“What the hell,” Joel said aloud, “frigging water out too?” He dropped the brush back into the cup and headed into the kitchen to start the coffee.

“Shit,” he said as he entered the kitchen and remembered the power was off, and that there was no water with which to make the coffee. “Now what?” He walked back into the bedroom and tugged on the pair of jeans and shirt he had worn the day before; he walked through the house to the front door, shoving his feet into his sneakers as he went, and opened it to retrieve the paper that he knew would be there. The ends of the untied laces clicked and bounced against the old hardwood floors as he walked. At least he could read the paper, maybe even find out what the hell was going on.

The sun was just beginning to climb into the sky as the door swung open. He bent down.

“No damn paper either?” he muttered as he stood back up and began to search the lawn.

His eyes rose from the lawn and fell on the Hubert house across the Street.

Something seemed oddly out of place, and he puzzled over it for a few seconds before his mind told him what it was. The entire house was leaning to one side. That wasn’t all though, the street in between dipped and rose in places, and the lawn over there had large patches of brown dirt. The snow that had been everywhere the night before was nearly gone. His eyes had skipped over it, lending an illusion of straight lines until he had looked closely. His eyes rose to the Hubert house once more and he realized what else was wrong, the lot looked too big: He could see more of the Hubert house because the houses on either side were gone. No trace. Jumbled dirt and clumps of grass filled those lots. A leaning Oak that had been in front of the Schuyler house for two hundred years: Uprooted and on the verge of toppling onto the fresh soil.

As he left his doorway and started across the street to get a better look, his eyes took in the devastation that had changed most of the street overnight.

Broken cobbles from the old streets poked through the pavement in places, and the broken pipes below street level bought him the sound of running water somewhere deep below. The reality of it hit him and he stopped and turned to look back at his own house. His mouth fell open wide as he stared. The entire house was leaning from foundation to roof, the gutters had detached and snaked down to meet the ground. Almost seeming as though they were holding the house upright. Small sparrows where pecking through the debris that had fallen from the gutters and singing in the warming morning air. Joel’s mouth snapped shut as he stumbled back into the street and sat down hard.

“What the hell is this?” he asked aloud to the street.

“What the hell is going on?”

Joel believed in the tangible. If it could be touched it must be real, and so believing, he reached down to feel one of the cracks beside him in the road. The road tipped, tilted, had separated, and the other surface had dropped lower. His fingers came away with small chunks of asphalt.

“Feels real,” he declared aloud, as he stared at the road. He pulled at it and a small piece of the asphalt he held snapped off into his hand. He bought it up to his face to examine it closely; threw it back to the ground and got up from the street.

He looked slowly off in both directions down the length of Linden Street. As far as he could see in either direction the roads or houses were similar. In fact, he thought, the street doesn’t even look like a street anymore. It was still a street because he thought of it as a street. His street. There was now more gravel, dirt and broken asphalt chunks than there was actual street. And in several places, it was gone completely. No sign. Wide spots that were wholly devastated.

Joel closed his eyes and then reopened them. It was all still there. Nothing had changed. He stood and stared for a few minutes longer before he started to walk off down the street in the direction of the downtown area, three blocks to the south.

He looked over the houses he passed. Most were partly, and some were completely destroyed. He felt as though he were in a bad dream. He knew he wasn’t though, as he had closed his eyes to blink away the sights several times to no avail. He had also pinched his left cheek until his eye had begun to water. No good. It was still there. He had done acid once, but only once, back in the seventies, and he had heard about flashbacks, and this could maybe be one, and he had been drinking pretty damn heavily yesterday, and…

He spotted a young woman sitting on the curb three houses down and walked up to her. She tilted her tear streaked and puffy face up to him as he approached.

“Is this a dream?” he asked when he stopped.

“No, it’s no dream,” she replied as she slowly shook her head.

“Where have you been since last night? Didn’t you hear the noise? Didn’t you feel it?”

Joel recalled the noise that had awakened him during the night. The noise he had thought was only an extension of the strange dream.

“Well, I thought it was a dream, you know, but I did hear a storm, or something, but I didn’t think it was a big deal… you know, they can get loud sometimes, but… What happened?”

“Yellowstone blew up,” she said simply. “Didn’t you see the TV?”

Joel shook his head.

“Well,” the young woman continued, “anyhow that’s what happened. They cut in to the TV last night; I was watching… you know, and they cut in and said that the Yellowstone caldera was going to fracture because of how close the meteor came. I came outside to see, and, well there was nothing to see at first, and then the ground started shaking, so I ran to get back inside. But the whole bottom floor of the building was gone.” She shrugged.

The young woman broke into fresh tears and buried her face back into her hands.

Joel sat down beside her and put his arm around her in an attempt to comfort her.

“Is your husband here?”

“Not married,” she said, “There was a guy… A few years back. He’s stationed somewhere in the Middle East,” she finished, as she looked at Joel.

“Sorry,” Joel said, “how long have you been out here?”

“I called this cop that had given me his card… He said the police would come so I came back out to wait, but they never showed up, so I just sat here. I didn’t know where else to go or what to do! I’ve been here ever since, just watching the street crack.”

Joel looked around at the street.

“It happened all at once?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, also staring at the street. “One second it was still whole, the next it wasn’t. But it’s still going on. Every little while a crack will just appear and then another section will tilt or drop a little. Sometimes there’s no noise, other times it’s this horrible groaning sound… Like it’s alive or something.”

“Is your power on?” Joel asked changing the subject.

“No,” she replied, “went off right after the ground started shaking.”

“Mine’s off too,” Joel replied.

“The power lines fell while I was out here, arcing all over the place. Scared the shit out of me too, and then they just quit… Went dead,” she said.

“Listen… I’m going to walk downtown… see if the police department is open or see maybe if everyone is there somewhere. You’re the only person I’ve seen so far… do you want to come with me?”

“Sure,” she said, as she stood and brushed at her jeans, “no use sticking around here I guess, is there?”

“I don’t think so,” Joel said. “I think… you know that everyone else is probably downtown. Getting organized or something,” his eyes betrayed the worry he felt. He hoped that everyone was downtown as he had said, but he wasn’t convinced himself. We have to find someone though, he thought, don’t we?

He stood up and they both walked off down the street toward downtown Watertown.

“Joel,“ he told her. Talking to you for an hour and didn’t even know your name.”

She laughed, halfhearted, but it instantly lifted the mood. “More like fifteen minutes if that… Haley.” She told him.

They exchanged small talk as they walked, and it seemed to help quell the fear they both felt.

They wondered about the rising temperature as they walked.

“I wonder if it’s some sort of fallout from the earthquakes. Can it be radiation, Joel?” Haley questioned.

“Maybe. I flunked science, so I really don’t know. I don’t think so though. I mean, if it was, wouldn’t we be sick? I think ash is a possibility, maybe if they triggered volcanoes? Makes me wish I had paid attention in science class, or physics, history, one of those.” Joel said.

She laughed again, this time a little more fully. “No,” she replied. “I don’t think so either… I mean the earth shook… like an earthquake. I didn’t know we could get an earthquake up here.”

“Oh yeah… Lived here all of my life. It’s more than possible, happens all the time… You from here?”

“No… Syracuse, before that Texas.”

“Ah, the big city… Well up here we don’t have a hell of a lot to do so they teach us about fault lines, earthquakes. We have a huge fault line that bisects this entire region and continues on south to the Gulf.”

“All the way to the Gulf?” Haley asked. She patted his arm. “Big city my ass,” She laughed. “You should see Houston you want to see big city, buster.”

Joel laughed and nodded. “Seen Houston once… I mean, a long time ago. And then only the Greyhound station downtown.”

She stopped. “Get out, really?”

“Really.” Joel told her. “Very bad place too,” he seemed apologetic.

“Yeah.” her eyes had suddenly gone sad. “Very.” She started her feet moving again. She had come close to telling him just how well she knew that area of Houston and had nearly bitten her tongue to stop the words. Emotional situations… You never knew the things that would just jump right out of your mouth, she thought. Leaving you all kinds of vulnerable too.

They talked back and forth as they continued down the street. When they reached Fourth Street they turned and walked the short block to Main, turned left this time, and headed into the downtown area.

March 2nd

Joel and Haley

They both stopped short as they topped the small hill at the crest of Main Street and stared down at the downtown area on the other side of the river.

It appeared to be more of a war zone than a city. The buildings that were still standing leaned crazily to the left or right, and only the tallest seemed to have been, as yet, untouched. Haley wondered aloud at that.

“The taller ones are not that old. Built with federal monies. Earthquake proof…. To an extent: When I was a kid the tallest building was the Baptist church tower.” He pointed to a gray stone spire that reached into the air.

There was a small crowd of people milling around in the center of what had been the Public Square.

“It looks bad to me” Joel said softly. He pointed. “City police building?” He met her eyes with his own. “Gone… There should be thousands of people down there…”

Haley shook her head. “Ought to go down.” She looked up to see what he thought about it.

Tiny people walked aimlessly around the square or stood, seemingly transfixed, by the huge gray spire of rock that capped the State Street end of the square. The sight of the people broke the spell. Joel nodded once and they began the walk down the hill.

They stopped and looked over the bridge that crossed the Black River. It seemed fine, almost untouched. It was so strange a sight that Joel laughed.

“What?” Haley asked.

“Doesn’t it seem strange to you? Everything destroyed and the bridge sitting here untouched?” He looked from side to side before he stepped out on the steel decking and began to walk. As they neared the other side, they could see that there was a crack that ran from side to side and the road dropped down more than a foot. They leapt easily down.

“That makes me feel better. It just seemed too weird that it had no damage at all.”

Haley nodded and they continued to walk into the downtown area.

The walked up a small rise that had once been the bank of the river just a few hundred years ago, before the dams, mills, and reservoir projects had changed the water flow, Joel thought. The Public Square spread out before them.

“At least there are other people,” Haley said aloud. “Last night when I was sitting there all alone, I was wondering whether there were.” She breathed a sigh of relief which was echoed by Joel.

When they reached the first people at the bottom of the hill, they could tell that many of them were in shock. An older woman wandered by completely naked. Blood ran down one calf from an ugly looking wound, and she was covered with dirt and grime. When Joel attempted to talk to her, she tried to hit him with a baseball bat she had been holding at her side.

“Leave me alone, you bastard,” she screamed into his face. And then she had run off towards one of the still standing buildings.

Joel was shaken by the experience and jumped when Haley touched his arm.

“…think,” he caught as he turned around to face her.

“Wha-What?”

“I was saying, I don’t think she knew what she was doing,” Haley repeated. “Hey? Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he answered, in a small voice.

He was still a little shook up when an older man began to approach them, and he found himself wishing he would turn and head in the other direction. He didn’t even recognize him until he was nearly upon them.

“Glenn,” he asked, “is that you?”

Joel had worked for Glenn driving truck at the gravel pit two summers before, when things had slowed down at the mill. Glenn Dove owned the gravel pit, and most considered him a hard guy to work for.

Joel had liked him though. He seemed to be honest; always paid on time, and he always bought Joel a beer when he ran into him. He was forever trying to talk Joel into leaving the mill and going to work for him full-time. Today he seemed old and tired. Joel supposed he didn’t look much better.

“How are you, Joel,” Glenn asked, “some vacation, huh?”

Joel had run into Glenn just the week before down at the Rusty Nail, and had told him he’d be leaving, but he hadn’t given the vacation a second thought since he’d gotten out of bed this morning.

It seemed odd to think of it now. Wonder what the rest of the world woke up to this morning? He thought. It had only been a short time since he had awakened this morning, but it felt like years had gone by.

“I guess my vacation got canceled,” he said, trying a grin on his face. “Hell looks like a lot of vacations got canceled,” he continued, as the grin slipped from his face. “Did you see any of this happen, Glenn?”

“No,” he replied solemnly. “I was out at the pit, and I didn’t come into town until this morning. But I saw plenty out there, thank you just the same.”

“As bad as this?” Joel asked, waving his hands at the damage that surrounded them.

Glenn paused and looked around at the destruction.

“Pretty damn bad,” Glenn said, as he shook his head in agreement. “I was moving the trucks down to the loading area, down the bottom there, and the ground started to shake, and the shaking threw me right out of the cab. I jumped down and got the hell out of that pit in a quick hurry, let me tell you. Good damn thing I did too, as about ten minutes after I did the bottom just cracked open and she started to fill. Spent the night in the woods and when I walked out this morning the water was up the top of the pit. Never seen nothing like it.” He paused and looked around the small-town square. “So, I came down here, but I’ve been over to city hall, nobody’s there. The police department, you know,” he gestured helplessly with his hands.

“Gone,” Joel agreed.

“Seen you coming across here and figured to see what you might know,” Glenn finished, nodding.

Joel shook his head. “You can ask Haley,” he said pointing to the young woman beside him, “she saw it on the television last night.”

Glenn looked expectantly towards her.

“Well… not like I know it all, but I was watching the TV last night, and they said…”

Joel turned to stare out at the people who stood nearby in small groups, as Haley spoke to Glenn.

“Shit don’t that figure,” Glenn exclaimed, when she finished, “So another politician lied to us. All last week they said that meteor would be no problem. Yesterday morning there was some yak attributed to the web about Yellowstone being closed down and already in a bad way and they denied that too,” He swore under his breath. “Figures. Seen any sign of the Guard around, or the Army?”

“We just got down here ourselves,” Joel answered, “but I expect they’ll be here soon, don’t you?”

“That’s right!” Haley exclaimed, “They should be coming, shouldn’t they? I mean, we’re alive, hell of a lot of people are alive, they’ve got to come, right?”

“Maybe,” Glenn said slowly, looking from one to the other, “but it seems as though they should have been here already, doesn’t it? I mean, if they were coming, it ain’t that far to the base… Eight miles? I mean, well, hell, it ain’t a long way for them to come.”

Joel nodded his head. “Well, if they aren’t here by noon… Anybody got a watch?”

Haley nodded and held up one hand so he could see the slim silver dial on her wrist, 9:32 he noted.

“Well, if they ain’t here by noon, I vote we go look for them.”

“Sounds good to me,” Glenn said, as Haley nodded her head in agreement.

They spent the morning wandering between the few remaining buildings and talking to the small groups of people that had formed around the huge church spire in the middle of what was left of the city’s downtown.

Haley found several other people with similar tales of the destruction they had witnessed the through the night. A few had slightly different takes on what had happened. One woman was convinced the end times had come and spent most of an hour trying to convince Haley to repent of her sins and join her. She had been polite and firm as she told her thanks, but no thanks. She had also stuck closer to Joel after that. Joel was disheveled. He probably hadn’t realized he’d forgotten to even comb his hair when he had walked out of his house this morning and witnessed all the destruction. His eyes were a little wild looking. People tended to shy away from him when they saw him.

She sat at the bus stop bench overlooking the square and wondered what had happened to some of the people. Joel sat quietly beside her, lost in his own thoughts.

One woman had stopped by the bench and tried to convince them that flying saucers were to blame, and she actually had several people convinced of it. They formed a small protective group around their leader. Haley supposed that with the way things were this morning, that it wasn’t as far-fetched as it may have been just yesterday. She listened cautiously, courteously, and they both breathed a sigh of relief when she became distracted by a small after shock and then moved on, her group hovering protectively.

“Jesus please us,” Joel said.

“Amen,” Haley agreed.

They had discovered earlier that though none of their cell phones worked some phone lines were still working. Well, sort of, Haley amended as she thought about it now. You could call out, but all you got was static or a busy signal. There was a bank of old style pay phones in the Arcade Mall. Joel had tried for over twenty minutes, calling every emergency number in the telephone book. He had finally given up about ten minutes ago and had ambled back over to sit beside her on the bench.

“You still want to go out to the base?” he asked now.

“No.” she replied, as she released a deep sigh. “I really don’t see a reason for it… I mean, if they were there, and everything was up and running, they would be here by now. So, I just don’t see a reason for it. We were fooling ourselves to think that they would come. Let’s face it, they’re probably at least in as bad shape as we are.”

Joel, who had been feeling the same, nodded agreement.

“So, what do we do then?”

“I don’t know, Joel. I don’t know what we can do.”

The conversation ended, and they once again sat staring out over the square, neither knowing what to say.

Glenn wandered back over from a small group of people he had been talking with and sat down next to them.

“What did you find out?” Joel asked.

“Well,” Glenn began, “mainly a lot of strange stuff. For instance, you know Lilly Roberts over there?” he pointed at a tall woman, standing with the group he had just left.

Joel and Haley both nodded.

“I know of her,” Joel said, “she ran that little diner out on River Road, didn’t she?”

“Yes,” Haley confirmed, “I worked out there last summer, part-time.”

“Well,” Glenn continued, “she said she was at home with her husband and, well… You guys know him?”

They both nodded their heads to indicate that they did, and Haley said, “Kind of hard not to know him, or at least to know of him.”

Earl Roberts, Lilly’s husband, had established his own church three years before. The local paper had published numerous stories about him, and the church itself. He had obtained his license through a mail order ministry, and the church was based on the book of revelations; specifically on the principal that the planet Earth was in the last years. Jesus was on his way back, and not the easy-going Jesus of the New Testament, a darker, angry Jesus.

“He’s the guy who had the church out in Fort Drum, right?” Joel asked.

“The same wacko,” Glenn said. “Well, anyway, they were at home last night, having an argument about that church of his; she says they were awful close to divorcing over it. So, they’re arguing and she’s telling him how she doesn’t feel as she knows him anymore, and bang the first quake hits… She says there were three, at least three,” Glenn said and paused.

“Maybe five,” Haley said… “At least I felt five.”

Glenn nodded. “Better number. That’s what I felt, but I didn’t correct her. … So, he just turns away from her and stares at the front door for a few moments and then leaves. She’s chasing him down the street, but he’s making for the river fast… Snapped.”

“There’s plenty more here that have slipped over the edge,” Haley said.

Glenn nodded. “Well, he did just that. Slipped over the edge. Walked right to the river and starts talking like there’s somebody there. She said at first, she thought maybe he had just gone clean over the edge, you know? A second later he just jumped in. Nothing she could do the water was high, churning. Bad … She never saw him come back up again.”

“Sometimes Happens,” Joel said as Haley nodded her head.

“I’ve heard of that too,” she said.

“Well, there’s a couple of others who swear the same sort of thing happened to people they knew. A few others are talking about end times.” Glenn paused and looked out over the lake wringing his hands restlessly in his lap.

“I don’t know,” Glenn continued. “I guess it makes about as much sense to them as anything else.”

“You mean they think it is the end times? That it was real?” Haley asked.

Glenn shook his head. “I ain’t saying I believe it at all,” he replied. “I’m simply telling you we’re going to have to be really goddamn careful who we deal with.” He arched his eyebrows. “Strange winds blowing.”

“Seen it while we sat here. I can’t believe something like this can throw someone that far off. But we’ve heard a few similar things this morning.” Joel said.

“And that was strange stuff while we weren’t seeking it out… Just sitting here minding our own business.” Haley added.

“Well,” Glenn began, “let’s say that this is the beginning of the end of the world. I ain’t saying it is, but for the sake of argument let’s say it is.”

“All right,” Haley replied, “let’s say it is.”

“Well, so let’s say it’s the end of the world. What does that really mean?”

“I can’t say I follow you.” Joel replied calmly. “I think it’s self-explanatory, right?”

“That’s about how I feel about it too,” Haley said when Joel had finished speaking.

“You went too deep,” Glenn said, as she finished speaking. He laughed lightly. “I meant, what is the end of the Earth? It’s obviously not the end of the Earth right now or we wouldn’t be here. What it really means to these people, I think.” He raised his hands to gesture at the people milling around everywhere. “Is the end of their way of life. They can’t call a cab. Take the train into New York and see a play, fly to the Bahamas for vacation. That is their end. They can’t see anything past that, and so when that ceases to exist it is the end of everything for them. They snap… Jump in the river… Sit down in the road and wait for God… Or Moses, or Muhammad to show up. The mother ship… I don’t know.” He sighed, leaned forward, cupped his face in his hands and looked out at the devastation. He straightened up, rubbed at the small of his back with both hands. “It’s too soon in my life to be the end of anything. I need some more time. And, anyway, when something ends something else begins.”

Joel was surprised into laughter. “The Mother Ship?”

“Hey, I talked to that lady earlier… She’s pretty much doing just that,” Haley said.

“I don’t know what I believe myself. It’s a question that I never felt a need to answer. I mean, I’ve had a few Bible-thumpers come knocking on my door from time to time. I ain’t mean about it, I just listen politely is all, and when they ask me if I want to be saved, or get to their point, I just pass. I just always figured to each his own, you know? I mean they ain’t hurting me,” Glenn continued, “and if they want to go around knocking on doors, hell, let ’em do it.”

“I just don’t answer the door anymore,” Haley said.

“Me either,” Joel added, and continued. “I kind of got into the habit of looking through the peephole lately anyway, on account of the crime being what it is, and if it’s a Jehovah, or some other Bible people, I just don’t answer the door.”

They all three shook their heads in agreement.

“I’ve done that too,” Glenn said and then went back to his original argument. “But suppose it is their end? Then what?”

“Well,” Joel started, “I suppose that you could have a lot of people just waiting for God… Or maybe even the mother ship. Right?”

Haley just sat quietly, listening to the conversation, as it went back and forth.

“So, you would, but,” Glenn continued, “what if there really is a God and a Devil? How does that change things? What if the people that believed in God were taken up?”

“I’ve thought of that,” Joel said, “I guess probably it was the first thing that jumped into my head this morning. It seems pretty far-fetched to me. I mean… Would God have a need to be this dramatic? And doesn’t God just do things and then, I don’t know, after ten thousand years or so the people fall in line and things are okay again?”

“Yes… God is not known to be really easy on his believers.,” Glenn agreed.

Joel continued. “Take Joanne Hamilton over there for instance,” he said as he waved his hand at a group of people. “I worked with her husband down at the mill, and he’s one of the meanest bastards I ever knew. Everybody knows he used to beat the shit out of her, and there was that business a few years back where he got himself caught with a young girl out on Jefferson Road, parked to the side there where the kids hang out. That kind of blows their theory, doesn’t it? I mean if there was ever a meaner son-of-a-bitch I don’t know him, and I can’t see what good side there could be to him, do you?”

Glenn seemed to think a second before he shook his head. “I don’t see anything good about him either,” he stated flatly. “I knew him myself, and I couldn’t stand him, but hear me out a second, Joel.”

Joel nodded his head, and Haley leaned closer to Glenn to listen.

“I think those people are dead as dead. Swallowed up by the Earth, drowned in the rivers. They’re gone and that’s that. But what about these others? All I’m saying is, it doesn’t matter to us whether we don’t think that’s what happened, it only matters that they think that’s what happened.”

“Then I guess they try to bring us into their psychosis,” Joel said. He looked around at the crowd.

“But that doesn’t make it so,” Haley said.

Glenn Laughed wryly. “I wasn’t looking for truth,” he said softly, “I’m just trying to make sure I live… Both of you too. We have got to be careful with some of these. I have been in war, seen how easy it is for people to turn into primitives just like that.” He snapped his fingers. “I say, we need to think about leaving here. It’s only going to get worse.”

Joel turned from looking over the crowd and nodded. “Makes sense. You have a long way of getting to the point, Glenn, but logical… Thought out.”

“I spent a whole six months in college before I had to leave to help my mother run the gravel pit after my dad died,” Glenn continued. “This makes me wish I’d spent a little longer. Maybe I’d know more about it. Whatever it is though, it’s natural. Something that just happens. I don’t want to get tangled up in someone’s ideal.” He paused and then began to speak once again, changing the subject slightly.

“The other thing that’s been bothering me is something we can all agree on.”

“What’s that,” Joel asked.

Haley answered the question for him.

“I think I know,” she said, “it’s the Earthquakes. I mean if we really were hit by that meteor, shouldn’t we all be dead by now? What I mean is, when I was outside last night, I didn’t see any fall out, but I did feel the earth shaking, it felt like an earthquake too, a big one, but that couldn’t have been the Yellowstone one, that’s, what, a few thousand miles away anyway, we wouldn’t have felt it like that, would we? And still have aftershocks?”

She stopped and drew a deep breath inward and then continued.

“The television said that the meteor was sighted inbound, and I could have sworn that, for just a few seconds, there seemed to be a huge glow from the west in the sky. I remember thinking it was where it landed, but when I looked again it was gone. If it was though, why are we still alive?”

“That wasn’t my exact concern,” Glenn said, “but it runs along the same lines. I felt the shaking too, and it felt more like a heavy thud the first couple of times I felt it, something close… Not far away.”

“…I’ll tell you what though, I was talking to Jasper Morrison, he fishes Lake Ontario for a living, you know, and he was just docking when it started. He had a pretty good view from there, out across the lake, I mean, and he said he could clearly see a white streak running across the western edge of the sky. He said he was expecting to see a mushroom cloud or something, but the sky glowed for a split-second or two, then the glow just disappeared. But a man’s line of sight is only about 3 miles or so, after that the curve of the Earth drops off. So, you are looking at something fairly close, or further away but high up in the air.”

“He also felt the ground shaking after the hit,” Glenn continued. “But that’s not hard to explain. You may not know this, but there is a fault line that runs all across the Great Lakes basin. Ontario included. The fault line runs all the way across the continent to the gulf coast. Could be that the impact did trigger some sort of earthquake. My point though, is that if that meteor did hit in the west, close enough for Jasper to see, we should be dead.”

“Joel was telling me about the fault,” Haley said.

“What else did he say?” Joel asked.

Haley nodded her head slightly as if to voice the question herself.

“Well, like I said, he had just brought the boat into the dock and tied it off. That ain’t a little boat, I’ve seen it, forty-five-footer, and the water where he ties it off is damn deep too. Well,” he continued. “He tied it off, and he’s standing there, and the waves are starting to really build so he hot foots it off the dock. Just as he gets off the whole damn thing just sinks. It took his boat and a couple others with it too. That ain’t the end though. As he’s standing there, this is the weird part, the lake just drops about five feet, real fast. He knows that lake, and it could be, if that fault line opened up, it could have dropped. If so, I’ll bet we have one hell of a new river running from here down to the Gulf a Mexico, or at least one hell of a lot of damage.”

“Jesus,” Joel whistled softly.

“I don’t know… Food for thought though,” Glenn concluded and leaned back into the bench.

Joel recalled the dream of the night before and quickly related it to Haley and Glenn. When he finished, Glenn turned to Haley.

“Did you see anything? Maybe dream about anything?”

“No,” she replied, “nothing at all, except for what I told you. But I was up all night after it happened.”

“I haven’t had any myself,” Glenn said quietly, “Of course; I was awake all night too in the woods.”

All three sat back into the bench and stared out over the square, lost in thought.

“So, what does it all mean?” Joel asked to no one in particular, as he continued to stare at the lake.

“I wish the hell I knew,” Haley said, as she turned her gaze away from the Square and back to the two men on the bench beside her.

Besides a few guys from the mill that he would have an occasional drink with, or maybe shoot a game of pool with, Joel was a loner, and he had never married. It was not something he had chosen to be, it was just the way the world was. You really couldn’t trust people, he thought, you could never really know what they were like. It was a thing that had bothered him for as long as he could remember.

He had known men who seemed to be perfect fathers and husbands, but when they were at the bar, and the kids were home with the wife, they were completely different. It was something he had always hated, and something he had constantly fought with whenever he had noticed the same sort of inconsistencies in himself. It was a battle though that he had always won and would continue to fight. It was one of the main things that had decided him against religion when he was a kid, that and his father.

His father had been a strict Catholic and had fought with Joel’s mother to get her to agree to let him take Joel to attend the local Catholic Church. Joel had hated it. His father, who was normally drunken, or at least drinking, would sit calmly through mass with all his other drinking buddies every Sunday, then when he got home it was, “Bring me a fucking cold one, woman.”

He had actually been glad when his father had died, he had never said it aloud, but he had been. He had only wished he had died a lot sooner so that his mother could have had more than the one year she had lived past him, to enjoy life. He pulled his mind reluctantly back to the conversation, when he heard Glenn speak his name.

“Sorry,” he said. “I was just thinking.”

“That’s okay,” Glenn smiled, “we all are.”

Glenn continued. “What I think is that the world has changed… That simple. We just need to get on with this different life. I know that’s over simplistic, but it beats staying around here waiting for the mother ship to show up. What I was wondering is what you’re going to do. Hell, what all of us are going to do now?” He paused as most of the silent crowd that had gravitated to them turned their eyes towards him.

“Maybe it’s time to sacrifice an animal… Pray,” an older woman in the crowd said.

Glenn continued when no one else answered. “I don’t think, or maybe I’m just not convinced,” he offered the woman who had just been speaking a small smile, and then continued, “That praying, or a sacrifice, will do us much good. Maybe what we should be doing is trying to figure out what we should be doing. Catch my drift? We can’t just stay here and wait for someone to come, it ain’t going to happen, and I think we can all agree on that.” He looked around at the faces that surrounded him and stopped at Joel’s.

Joel nodded.

“Did any of you notice the temperature?” Glenn asked.

Several people looked expectantly to one corner of the Public Square, where the Watertown Trust Bank had sat with its digital clock, which alternately flashed the time and temperature. They turned quickly back when they realized it was no longer there.

Many of them had noticed the difference in temperature though. Northern New York, even in the summer months, rarely reached the high seventies, low eighties, on the hottest days. The surrounding air was much hotter and humid.

They looked back at Glenn.

“Haley and I noticed it this morning,” Joel said.

“I picked this up when I went in Samson’s Five and Dime earlier,” Glenn said, holding up a small plastic thermometer. The red line on the thermometer hovered just short of one hundred degrees.

As he looked at the thermometer, Joel recalled how warm it had seemed this morning. When he had first opened the front door, he had felt it, but then forgotten it as he had gazed out into the street. As he looked around now, he noticed that several people in the small crowd were sweating profusely. In fact, he realized, he was sweating a great deal himself.

“Anyway, my point is this,” Glenn said as he began to speak again, “there may be something to that earthquake theory some of you have been kicking around. It could be that the fault line may have been triggered,” Glenn was saying. “If it was, we really ought to be thinking about finding a safer place to be. I remember reading about that fault line, and it seems to me the book I read, said that if the fault were somehow triggered, it could, and probably would, crack the entire Great Lakes Basin. That means that Ontario, along with all the other lakes in the chain, probably would drop. At least a small amount at first, but after they recover from the initial drop, they’re probably going to rise… They’re probably going to rise, a lot. I don’t know what most of you know about this city, but I’ll tell you what I know. Got it from the same book,” he paused. “…It’s built on pretty low ground. Now… that river,” he said indicating the bridge that spanned the Black River on the opposite side of the Public Square, “has surely been rising.”

With that the discussion went back to where they should go, and what they should do once they got there.

“You’re right,” Joel said at last, “We do need to make some decisions,” he paused for a moment and then continued. “When was the last time anyone here ate? I know that sounds a little stupid at a time like this, but if we’re going anywhere, we should also think about food, and in this heat dehydration could become a factor as well, couldn’t it, Glenn?” he finished, looking toward him.

“I should have thought of that myself,” Glenn said, “how many of us are there?”

Haley quickly counted heads and replied. “Twenty-seven, Glenn.”

Glenn nodded his head. “Okay… Let’s do this. We do have to eat, so let’s head up Maple Street to Jacobs Superette, get something to eat, and finish this discussion there.”

Everyone agreed, and the small group left the public square and walked the three blocks to Jacob’s Superette in a light rain that had begun to fall.

Jacob’s Superette

Joel, Haley, Glenn and several others were standing by the rear doors that led to the stockroom in Jacob’s Superette.

They had been discussing where they should go. A few others from the small group, were there with them.

Joel looked around at them as the conversation went back and forth. They seemed solid enough. Terry Jacobs who had worked for Glenn, Amber Johnson who was married to a GI from the base who was now stationed overseas, and Scott Vincent, a carpenter working on one of the many housing developments in the area. There were others but many of those others that had followed them to Jacobs Superette did not really seem to be doing anything other than following. The ones that had gathered at the back of the store seemed to be on the same page, leaving Watertown.

Ed Weston and Dave Jackson had joined the small group earlier. Ed had worked for Glenn at the gravel pit for over ten years. He was tall with dirty-blonde hair and a slim muscular build, and Joel liked him. He’d grown up right here in Watertown on Fig Street, down by Jackson’s Lumber. A piss poor family, but Ed himself was a damn good man. He seemed a little rattled today, but weren’t they all? He was a hard worker and would be an asset to the group if he chose to come along.

Glenn and Haley both knew Dave. He owned one of the local lumber mills: A small family mill. He had also driven truck for Glenn once or twice when things were slow. Joel had never met him, but he had seen him around: Watertown was a small city. Neither of the men had voiced their opinions but had been standing quietly as the other three had talked. Dave was younger than Ed, but just as tall, and his dark black hair was tied in a small ponytail that hung down his back.

The conversation at the market never really got going. The crowd that followed had spread out into the store, taking what they wanted to eat and then split up into smaller groups, discussing their own plans. A few had congregated near the beer coolers. That discussion was sometimes heated, and more than once Joel had caught some nasty looks directed at them from that crowd.

“I guess not everyone is on the same page,” Joel said now.

“It was a good idea,” Glenn said. “You can’t make people see a good idea. Look at cigarettes. People knew for years what they were doing to them, and they still smoked. Some of these people haven’t hit the wall yet. They still believe the system will save them.”

“Yeah, except there is no system,” Scott said.

Glenn nodded.

“Listen,” Joel started. He paused until they were all looking at him, not sure if he really wanted to proceed. “Might sound stupid,” he said after a few moments of silence.

“I don’t think anything would sound stupid right now… We’re trying to figure this out,” Haley said.

Joel frowned. “Okay.” He frowned deeply, and then nodded decisively.  “So, it’s this. I was leaving this morning for the Southern Tier. I’m thinking, the truck is all packed, what are we,” he paused and counted heads, “Eight? I have enough food packed to keep us all fed for a few days… We could head out to the Tug Hill Plateau. Close by. We could pick up some stuff here to take with us too…” He paused again, but no one spoke. “I say let’s get another truck or two and get away from the city for a few days. Maybe the Tug Hill Plateau wouldn’t be a bad place to be right now. Let things calm down, especially the hot heads.” He paused, his face grim. “We can come back in a few days… Maybe the Guard will be here by then, maybe not, but it would give us a few days to think this out, if it… Well, if it really is as bad as it seems to be…” He looked from face to face as he stopped speaking.

“Smart,” Scott said.

“Probably for the best,” Glenn agreed. He had all been listening to the nearby conversations, some loud and argumentative, and the beer cooler was emptying quickly: That certainly wasn’t going to help the problem.

“Yeah… These guys seem bent on getting drunk and figuring it all out,” Amber said.

“I’ve seen that sort of thinking before,” Haley agreed. “I vote go.”

“I’m on that,” Scott agreed.

Dave Jackson and Ed Weston agreed.

“I make that all eight?” Joel asked.

“Only, let’s get some trucks and get what we need here before we go. This place is going to get picked over fast,” Haley said.

“Who do you want to go with you?” Joel asked.

“I’m open,” Haley replied.

“I’ll go,” Amber said.

“Me too,” Scott added.

“That’s enough… I guess we’ll get stuff ready here… Wait on you,” Joel said. He held Haley’s eyes until she nodded. A second later she and the others left and the rest of them began to put together some bags of supplies.


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My Own Apocalypse


Posted on April 11, 2024 by Author Sam Wolfe

My Own Apocalypse 

A free audio story

Part 1:

Part 2:

My own Apocalypse: A free Zombie Apocalypse story read by the author.


#Podcast#Audio#Horror#ApocalypticFiction#Free#Audio#ShortStories


This short story became the new novel just released by W. G. Sweet!

… Ethan lives in Harlem with his wife Janelle. The city gets out of control fast as an apocalypse hits the world.

Harlem is burning; what is not burning is gang controlled. What is not gang controlled is abandoned. The people are on their own. The cops disappeared, same with fire fighters. The Fires are unchecked.

Across the river parts of New Jersey are also burning. Ethen and his wife pick up bits and pieces of newscasts but none of it seems to make sense to them.

Things become clearer over the next few nights. Something, or somethings are prowling the streets at night, preying even on the gangs. At first, there is no clear answer and Ethan is convinced it is gang on gang violence, but little by little, it becomes clear that the dead are the problem. …

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Genesis Earth


Posted on April 11, 2024 by dello

Genesis Earth: Armageddon

Genesis Earth is a trilogy of books that document the plight of the peoples of the Earth as she faces a mighty battle of superpowers rarely glimpsed by mankind. #God #Chistian #Mythology #ChristianFictionm #Readers #BookLovers

https://books2read.com/b/bzBG1E


Genesis Earth: Gods and Devils

The small group is traveling trying to find others, trying to find the scope of the damage and the survivors… #God #Chistian #Mythology #ChristianFictionm #Readers #BookLovers https://books2read.com/b/3LxOVw


Genesis Earth; the Roads out of Eden

He was sure now, that he had somehow become trapped in this dead body. Which was bad but was not that bad. It meant that he could maybe exact a small amount of revenge… #God #Chistian #Mythology #ChristianFictionm #Readers #BookLovers https://books2read.com/b/b6GEz0

A free Sample from book one!

Genesis Earth: Armageddon

By George Dell

Original Material Copyright © 1976 – 1984 – 2009 – 2012 by Dell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away

 to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an

 additional copy for each recipient. 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 © 1976 – 1984 – 2009 – 2014 by Dell Sweet Publishing. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission.

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

Genesis Earth: Armageddon

FOREWORD

First, let me caution you on the length of this foreword, it is long. I apologize, but I follow the thought to where it goes, and this one went quite some way. Feel free to skip past it, it contains nothing that is absolutely germane to the story that follows. If, on the other hand, you are like me and you like to know the why of things, read on…

I recently published a story in a magazine and had a conversation with the editor about writing and how it works for me. I said that what I do is take a mental outline of what I want and go from there. I usually commit those same ideas to paper. I don’t usually publish short stories in magazines, but the process was interesting and made me put some real thought into the interview answers.

It’s pretty simple to have an idea, or a storyline. We all get them, but that doesn’t write the story. You have to do that, and the first thing that you have to do is believe in what you are writing. If you don’t believe in it no one else will because you will not be able to convince them it is real or viable. For instance, if you want to write a zombie story, but you have no faith that you can, you more than likely won’t ever write the story because no matter what you do write, you will not feel it, believe in it, and so you will continue to reject it until you hit upon something you do believe in; or give up entirely.

I don’t know how you write, but the writer friends that I have talked to have all been in that place where the words stopped, or the phrasing wont come. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. And the reason it doesn’t matter is because you are allowing yourself to get caught up in all the trivial things of your proposed story, so much so that you have frozen your creativity. You have no story because you are not allowing yourself to write it. You have dammed up that stream. Stopped the flow of information. What you need to do is just write, and there are a few reasons for that.

First: Write it because writing moves you past that initial word on paper place. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s misspelled, it doesn’t matter if the punctuation isn’t right, it doesn’t even matter if you have no idea where you are going with the story, even if it seems that it is not adhering to your outline. Just write it. Let it flow. You can fix all of the other stuff later. And you wrote the idea down, so if this story coming to you is not the story you wanted, write it anyway. It’s a gift. Take it. Write the other story some other day.

Second: Write it because the words will disappear if you don’t get them down on paper. I have heard many writers say, “I had better write this stuff in my head down on paper before I lose it.” or “I had this story in my head, I should have written it down, I didn’t and now it’s gone.” I have never heard a writer say, “I guess I’ll write this story down that I have stored in my head from two days ago.” They don’t say that because it is gone, so write it down.

Yes a story idea can get in your head and be there for months. Drive you crazy. But that is the idea for a story, not the story itself. The idea without direction, and that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about sitting on the couch watching TV, or driving to work in your car, and suddenly an idea hits you and goes past that and starts to formulate into a story, and you know that it is is ready to be written out…

So here is this guy and one day the world as he knows it ends. The Earth stops being predictable, if it ever really was. The buildings, houses, and roads buckle and are consumed by the Earth in places. Earthquakes hit and destroy nearly everything he knows. And just like that his life is completely changed forever. I wonder what he would do?

It took me several tries and forty years to write that story out. Most of that was because I left for the streets at fourteen and spent the next two years living there. From there I went into the service. From there I became married, and then life took over. But the need to write that story never stopped. I wrote three books about it that no one ever saw, and then I lost those books for almost 30 years.

The note above was written in 2009, me rethinking the earlier books I had lost. It made me write it out again, and it became another book. As I followed that need to write that story out of me it turned into dozens of composition notebooks full of other manuscripts, short stories, plays, lyrics, millions of words that I finally realized I could write out of me.

You see writing is not about anyone, but you. Sure, the popular authors will say things like “I wrote this one for the fans.” And in some ways that is true, but in all the ways that matter it isn’t true at all. You wrote it because it was in you and it needed to be out of you so you opened up that doorway between your mind and your form of expression and you wrote it out of you. Gave it a life. Set it free. It doesn’t matter if ten thousand people hate it. If one likes it? That will make it all worthwhile. So it was for no one except you. It was because it was there and it was time for it to be birthed and you birthed it. The fans just gave you the ability to have an audience to read it.

This story is the original unpublished version of Earth’s Survivors. Not the story that became a series about the rise of the dead. There is not one Zombie in this story. This is a story about people struggling to survive.

When I was in the process of publishing this book, it was the first thing I had published in more than thirty years, someone said, “You know, publishing has changed. This is a good book but it probably will never sell a single copy because it doesn’t have zombies or vampires or werewolves in it.” That bugged me. I slipped back into that anxiety mode most writers find themselves in when they first publish… The editors are cutting out this and that, changing this scene, deleting this character, it isn’t what I wrote any longer… That sort of stuff.

I should have known better because I had already published years before and gone through all of that, and never published again because I hated the process so much. I saw this new self publishing as an opportunity to publish something my way: The way I wrote it.

All well and good, but the thing is that some editors, friends, people in your circle really do know better than you do. So I yanked this book, went back, wrote zombies into the plot line: Had a blast doing it, and then published it.

It took off, and I hated it. I felt like I had succumbed to the temptation to go for the cash, lost faith in myself that I had a written a good book that could have made it without zombies/vampires/werewolves and sold out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing a zombie series, but this series of books was not written as a zombie vehicle. It was written as a series about people picking up the pieces of their world and starting over. It was my need to get this story out of me that made me finish this original story when there was no market for it. When Earth’s Survivors was a going series with the un-dead center stage.

Does that mean you will like it? Maybe. If you like good characters and a good storyline you may. It’s up to you. I wrote it because it was in me and it needed to be out of me. I wrote it because it was what was given to me to write by whatever Gods are up there passing out stories, all those years ago. Here it is, and I will continue with this series publishing all the books that were written for it, and then never published. Yes, even if it is just for myself…

Geo

One

June 15th

At a large gravel pit on the outskirts of Glennville, New York, Gary Jones carefully maneuvered the wide mouth of the loader bucket over the dump box of the truck, and pulled back on the lever closest to him to release the load. Ain’t this something, he thought as he slowly topped off the dump box, barely 10 AM and we’ve already sent out twenty-seven truckloads of gravel to the base.

Six men out sick, and another forty truckloads to deliver before five tonight. What in hell are they doing with all this gravel? He wondered. It was a question he had asked many times before, and still had not gotten an answer to. Uncle Sam paid well though, and on time to boot, so he guessed he probably shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. He signaled the driver, and he pulled away with a whoosh of air as he released the brakes. Another dump truck lumbered up to take his place, and he pushed the questions out of his mind as he began filling the box.

– 2 –

Far below the small city of Glennville New York, Richard Pierce sat working before an elaborate computer terminal. He had just initiated the program that managed the small nuclear power plant hidden deep below him in the rock. A small handset beside the computer station chimed, and he picked it up and listened. He did not speak at first, but as he listened a smile spread across his face. “Very good,” he said happily, when the caller was finished, “keep me advised.” He set the small handset back into its cradle and turned his attention back to the screen in front of him. The plant had powered up just as it was supposed to, no problems whatsoever, and that made Richard Pierce extremely happy. Two more days tops, he thought, and then maybe I’ll get out of this dump.

He supposed he should feel honored that he was even here. It was after all one of the biggest projects in the country, albeit top secret, but he could not help the way he felt. He was close to a mile underground, totally cut off from everything and everyone, and he hated it. If he had a choice, which he had not, he would never have come at all. But he had written the software that handled the power plant, as well as several other sections of the underground city, and that made it his baby. There were a couple of small bugs, mainly due to the fact that no one had been allowed to know what the entire program was supposed to do. The way the rewrites were going however, it looked as though he would not be stuck here anywhere near as long as he had originally thought, and that was something to think about. He had begun to feel that he would never leave this rock-bound prison and wouldn’t that be a real bitch.

-3 –

In Seattle Washington, Harvey Pearlson sat at his wide mahogany desk and talked quietly into the phone.

The extravagantly appointed office was located on the top floor of one of Seattle’s most highly regarded newspapers. Pearlson had worked his way up from the bottom, after starting as a carrier in 1955, sixteen floors below.

“No,” Pearlson said quietly, “I don’t want to know. I just thought that maybe it could be handled in some other way.” He listened for a few minutes nodding his head as he did.

“Yes, yes I see, but?” He rubbed his eyes as he listened. “No, I don’t,” he said emphatically, “I happen to like him a great deal, and if you give me the time…” The voice on the other end of the line cut him off, and he once again listened quietly.

“I see,” he said, once the voice had finished speaking. “No, I do understand. I won’t. Do you think I’m that stupid? Give me a little credit here, will you. You wouldn’t even be aware of it if I hadn’t called you in the first place, for Christ’s sake.” He listened for a few seconds longer, then hung up the phone.

There was no reasoning with Weekes, he told himself, and he was going to do what he was going to do. For Frank’s sake, he wished he had never called him at all. Too late now though, he told himself, far too late. After all, he had done his best to swing Frank away from the story, but Frank Morgan was not a man who could be easily swayed, and he told himself, unless he wanted to find himself in the same circumstances, he had better just shut up and let it go. He reached over and thumbed the intercom button.

“Cindy?”

“Yes Sir?”

“I’m going to be out the rest of the day, Cindy, and if Frank Morgan comes looking for me before he leaves, you don’t know where I am, correct?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Anything important comes up you can reach me on my mobile, Cindy.”

“Yes Sir, Mister Pearlson.”

Harvey Pearlson picked up his briefcase and left the office. Whatever Weekes had in mind, he wanted nothing to do with it, and he didn’t want to be available for any sort of questions that might arise either. It was unfortunate enough that he had started the whole ball rolling; he had no intention of sticking around to see where it ended up stopping. No, he told himself, the lake was the best place to be. The only place to be, and he intended to stay there until the whole thing blew over just as he had been told to.

He took his private elevator down to the garage area, walked across to his Lincoln, and drove out of the parking garage, turning right on Beechwood. He passed a hooker standing at the corner of the building and thought just how badly Beechwood Avenue had gotten as of late. He would have to speak to the security people when he got back from the lake. Putting up with the hookers that had taken over the avenue at night was one thing, but broad daylight? Standing right in front of the frigging building? No, something would have to be done, and if the security people couldn’t take care of it, maybe he’d speak to Weekes. After all, he owed him one now, didn’t he? He pushed the thought away, signaled, and pulled out onto the loop. In an hour he’d be at the lake, and then he could forget about the whole mess, for today at least. He eased the car up to sixty and leaned back into the leather upholstery to enjoy the drive.

~4~

Ira Pratt stared at the squared board lost in thought. If he moved to the right, he would surely lose two checkers. Maybe, he thought, as many as four. Moving to the left would not help either. There was actually only one semi-safe move to make, and that was straight ahead. But even that move could put a hurtin’ on his few remaining checkers, he thought. Nothing to do for it though, but move it, and see what happened.

He stared into the thoughtful eyes of the older man across the table, trying to read them. No good, he was a master at hiding his thoughts. His face was calm and carefully composed, not so much as a smile played at the corners of his mouth.

Ira gave in and decisively moved one checker forward and then leaned back into his chair, waiting to see what the older man would do.

“Well, I see you have left me little choice, Ira,” the older man said. He picked up one of his own checkers and carefully slid it forward as he finished speaking.

“That was what I was hoping you’d do,” Ira said grinning as he jumped two of the older man’s checkers.

“No doubt about it, Ira, you’re just too good for me,” the older man replied. He smiled widely, and pleasantly, and then changed the subject. “How about we take a short break, Ira, maybe go for a walk. You must get tired of beating me all the time?”

“Well,” Ira replied, “I kind ‘a get the idea you let me beat you sometimes, but sure, I wouldn’t mind a break at all.”

“I would never let you beat me, Ira. It is a good thing we don’t play poker though. I might gamble the entire kingdom away trying to beat you,” the older man replied laughing. “Besides I have my reasons for wanting to take a break right now. I see it like this, if you and I take a break, maybe once we return your concentration will not be so keen, and then maybe I will win one of these games for a change.” He rose from the small table as he finished speaking. “Ready, Ira?”

“Yep.”

Ira closed his eyes. He could have kept them open, and a few times he had, but the trip was unnerving enough without adding the visual aspects to it. Not that there was anything to see except darkness for the split second they would be traveling, he thought. Still…

He opened his eyes. They had actually only been shut for less than a second, but in that space of time they had traveled a considerable distance, or at least seemed to have. The small table that had been before him was gone, replaced by a lush green valley. A calm blue river flowed across the valley floor far below. He followed it with his eyes as it wound away in the distance.

“It’s beautiful,” Ira exclaimed, “but will it still be…?” He let the question trail away.

“Yes, it will, as will several others, Ira. But it need not be this place, there are so many to choose from,” the older man informed him. “Come.”

Ira blinked, and when he opened his eyes they were standing in a high mountain meadow. Wildflowers covered the meadow, and a large, summer-fat herd of deer grazed peacefully among them. A large buck raised its heavily antlered head and stared at the two men, but perceiving no threat went back to grazing the field.

“This is also beautiful,” Ira said quietly.

“It only matters where, Ira. There are so many. There were even more, and there will be again.”

“I’ll have to tell Cora about this place, and the other,” Ira replied, still watching the deer graze.

“You should, Ira. In fact, there will be many things to tell her. Things she will need to know, Ira.”

“Tonight?”

“Yes. The time is short.”

“I was afraid of that,” Ira said slowly.

“There is no reason to be afraid, Ira.”

“I know that. I guess I mean afraid, as in I wish it didn’t have to happen.”

“I knew what you meant, Ira, but it is necessary. As much as I would wish that it was not, it is.”

Ira nodded his head slowly. “I know.”

The two men stood in silence for several minutes, watching the deer in the field. It seemed so peaceful to Ira, a good place to be, a good place to live, and that made it harder to accept that most of it would soon be gone. The older man spoke, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.

“Would you like to look at some others, Ira?”

“I believe I would at that. I think I’d like to look at as much as I kin before it’s gone, I guess. Does that sound wrong?”

“No, Ira, it does not, I too wish to look… Ready?”

Ira nodded but did not close his eyes. Darkness enveloped him, and a sense of speed. The absence of light was complete; he could only sense the presence of the older man beside him as the traveled through the dark void.

– 5 –

April 11th, 1952

Ira Pratt drove the old tractor carefully down the side of the slippery hill. It had been raining for close to three days, and it didn’t look as though it was going to let up right quick, he thought.

The rain was causing all sorts of problems, and not just for him, he knew, but for the cows as well. The biggest problem was the creek, and the only way the creek wasn’t going to be a problem was to unplug the thing.

He sat on the tractor as it slipped and slid its way down the hill through the gray sheets of rain. Ira let out a sigh of relief once it reached the bottom. For a second there, he had been sure both he and the old tractor would end up in the creek, but God was smiling on him today.

He slipped the worn gearbox into neutral and sat looking at the rush of muddy-brown water. The creek was a good four feet above the point of flooding, and he wasn’t sure it was a smart move to try to put the tractor in that. The tractor was sure footed, but so was a goat, and he’d seen more than one goat end up on its ass. But there wasn’t anything else for it. If he didn’t move the trees that were clogging the creek, and flooding it out and over the banks, then he might as well just sit back and watch a couple more cows drown.

Ira knew cows, pretty much anyhow, and everyone that he and Cora owned were just as stupid as any other cow he’d ever seen. The cows didn’t understand flooding, they didn’t understand how the water could weaken the banks, and so the big dummies just walked on down to the creek, just like any other day, and got swept away when the bank crumbled under their weight. Three days of rain and four dead cows, and though cows were stupid, they weren’t cheap.

Ira sat in the pouring rain and stared at the creek. Normally, the creek was no more than eighteen inches deep at the most. Course normal wasn’t what it was today, he thought, and wishin’ it wouldn’t make it so. It was his own damn fault, he reminded himself. Two of the trees that were clogging it had been there last summer, and hadn’t he promised Cora he’d take ’em out before fall? He had, but he hadn’t, and so here he was in the pouring rain fixin’ to half kill himself to get ’em out.

Looked like the best way, Ira thought, might be to try and snag the biggest one right from the bank. He squinted as he shielded his eyes to peer through the rain. One thing was for sure, sittin’ on the tractor and thinkin’ about it, wasn’t gonna get it. Reluctantly, Ira climbed down off the tractor and edged closer to the bank. The rain was coming down hard, but the section he stood upon seemed solid enough. “Probably what the cows thought,” he muttered as he moved closer.

He walked back to the tractor, unwound a long section of chain from behind the seat, and walked back to the creek. The top of the bigger tree was sticking a good three feet over the bank, and he was glad that it was. He could see that the water was rising faster, and moving along quicker, and he had no wish to get any closer to it than he had to. Quickly, but carefully, he wound the chain around the tree and pegged the links with an old bolt to hold them. Looks good, and solid as well, he thought as he slipped the other end of the chain over the bucket. He genuinely didn’t want to try and turn the tractor around. In fact, he thought, as muddy as the ground was, he’d be damn lucky just to get it back up and away from the creek when he finished.

He gave an experimental tug at the chain, and then climbed back up on the tractor. Carefully, without grinding the gears any more than he surely had to, shifted into reverse. He played the clutch out slowly and brought up the slack in the chain.

“Well God?” He asked, looking skyward, “You keepin’ a watch down here? I could sure use a hand about now, Lord. Amen,” Ira finished.

He let the clutch out a little further, playing the gas pedal as he did, and let the tractor go to work. The oversized tires spun, caught, and the tractor began to slowly back up the steep bank, pulling the tree out of the muddy water as it did. Ira released the breath he had been holding, and just as he did the chain snapped in two. Ira barely had time to register what had happened, when the old tractor flipped, crushing him beneath it.

TWO

For Franklin W. Morgan, just Frank to his friends, June 15Th, had been a particularly hard day.

As he sat at the small, scarred, wooden table at Mikes Pub on Sixth Avenue, nursing a shot of gin, his thoughts turned inward, mulling over the same problem he had been mentally chewing for the last several weeks. It always came back, no matter how far away he pushed it. It slipped right back to the front and began to hammer away at him. But today was much worse. It had seemed endless as it dragged on, and he had been able to concentrate on next to nothing. He had avoided the office, and Pearlson, no sense compounding things when he was so close to the truth by chancing a confrontation with Pearlson.

Pearlson was… Pearlson was, a piece of shit, he thought. However, at the moment it wasn’t just Pearlson that had him so keyed up and anxious, it was leaving, and, he supposed, that was just as it should be.

The thing that had made it difficult to get through was the pressure and anxiety he always felt when he was on the trail of a promising story. That and the stress associated with the story.

It was not so much the stress his job placed on him; he had always dealt with that quite well. He knew what it was, and what it had been for several weeks now. All of those late-night calls to his sources in New York. No sleep, virtually working around the clock; sifting through the information this source or another provided; sorting out the truth from imagination, and getting to the facts, or as close as he could get to them. That, coupled with the fact that he had been the only one, save Jimmy, who believed it, and now Jimmy was apparently missing so he could add the disappearance of a good friend to the growing list of worries that kept him up at night. This was turning into a three-ring circus damn fast, and he didn’t like. He didn’t like it at all.

He was sure now, or as sure as anyone could be. But who the hell would believe him? Not his editor, that was for sure. He would not soon forget the day two weeks ago, when he had approached the subject with him either. It had been partly his own fault, Frank realized. He had not been as prepared as he should have been. He had also possessed no hard facts, he reminded himself, and he had speculated far too heavily for Pearlson’s taste. Even so, he was just as convinced as he had been then. No. More so now, he amended.

Two additional weeks of digging into it, with Jimmy’s help, had produced a wealth of information, and it was no longer just conjecture as the old man Pearlson had said, but a steadily growing stack of cold hard facts.

Pearlson had still laughed and told him he should try writing fiction for a living. But there had been something else lurking just behind that laugh, hadn’t there? Perhaps a hint of nervousness maybe?

Pearlson had also suggested that just maybe Frank needed a vacation, and things being the way they were Frank had taken him up on the last suggestion.

Screw him, Frank thought as he sat at the table and drained the last of his drink… Just screw him.

That was what had made his days so long and his nights so sleepless, he reasoned. Churning around in his head was all of that knowledge… Along with fear, fear of what that knowledge may mean.

But did he actually know anything? He asked himself, and could he actually prove what he did know? Yes, Dammit… And just as suddenly, probably not. He couldn’t prove all of it yet, at least not entirely, he admitted.

Not for much longer though, he told himself, the proof part of it was about to change. He had made plans to go to New York. Directly to the source, so to speak, and find out just exactly what was going on. No conjecture, no guessing, no screwing around at all. If Pearlson wanted facts, Frank would get them one way or the other, he had decided. And the suggestion to take a vacation couldn’t have been a better cover for him to go under, he reasoned.

No, he decided, it wouldn’t be much longer at all. Two weeks in upstate New York and he would know for sure. Frank saw no way that Pearlson could kill the story then. Not faced with cold hard facts.

But Pearlson could be an idiot, what if he still rejected the truth even after the facts were presented, he asked himself. Well, if he did, Frank reasoned, that would open up a whole new set of problems. Maybe Pearlson was involved somehow… Maybe not, but the whole thing had smelled of a cover up from the start, and if Pearlson cut the story loose, if he still placed no faith in it, then there had to be a reason, and maybe… And maybe shit! If it turned out that way, then maybe it would be time to move on.

He rose slowly from his chair and fighting his way through the crowded table area, made his way to the bar.

“Another Gin, Mike,” he said, once he had gotten the old man’s attention. “On second thought hold the ice, just straight up.” He stared miserably at the juke box in the corner that blared incessantly, and silently urged it to fall silent as he waited for the drink. His thoughts, still clouded, turned back to the problem he was constantly turning over in his mind, when a glance at his wristwatch reminded him of how late it actually was.

He turned his attention back to the bartender. “Shit! Mike, I’ve got to go see the kid’s and I am already late,” he threw a twenty on the bar, “that should cover the tab.”

“What about this?” Mike asked, holding up the shot glass.

“You drink it, Mike, I truly am late. I’ve gotta go,” Frank replied as he started to turn towards the front door.

“Hey?” Mike called in a questioning manner. Frank turned back to the bar.

“Get some sleep, Frank,” Mike said, “your eyes look like two piss holes in the snow.”

“Yes, Mother,” Frank joked, “I will.”

Frank smiled to himself. They always played this game and had been at it for the twenty years that Frank had been coming into Mike’s. Mike seemed to think it was his duty to mother him, even more so since Jane had died.

“See you in a couple of weeks or so, Mike,” Frank called as he stepped out the door. He glanced at his watch once again as he did. I’ll never make it, he thought, no way.

He resigned himself to the fact that he would more than likely be late, and not for the first time this week. He had already been late three times, picking up Patty and Tim from the sitter.

Cora Pratt, the sitter, could pitch a real fit when she wanted to, he thought. “Well, I’ll deal with her when I get there,” he mumbled to himself. Besides, he thought, tonight I don’t have to pick them up, just say good-bye for two weeks.

The heat assaulted him as he stepped out of the air-conditioned comfort of the bar, and he winced.

Twenty-seven years of living in Seattle had not changed a thing for him. He felt about the city as he always had. It was too hot in the summer, what there was of it, and too damn cold and windy in the winter, and it wasn’t home. He still thought about it as a place he was only visiting. He never had gotten used to it, and, he knew, he never would.

Frank worked the handle upward slowly, pulling the driver side door of the company car open carefully. He had to as this one stuck if you were forceful, and then he would end up crawling over the damn passenger seat to reach the driver’s side. It seemed to him that he had once had this car when it was new. It was hard to tell though as it was a pool car, and the younger generation of reporters in the press pool beat the hell out of all the cars.

“Too many hot-rod kid’s driving the piss out of them,” he said aloud as he keyed the motor and pulled the Plymouth Voyager out into the traffic. He headed out of the city, towards the suburbs and Cora Pratt.

~

When he reached the turnoff, from Route 5, Frank slowed the car and swung into Cora’s driveway. 

The old farm had been in the Pratt family for five generations. Ira Pratt, Cora’s long dead husband, had steadfastly refused to sell any of the land that made up the small farm, and after he had died Cora had adopted the same attitude. So, in the midst of suburbia, the old farmhouse sat on its own eighty-acre plot. It was sort of funny to Frank as you could drive a short way in either direction and you would still be in the Wildflower subdivision, part of which was still a respected suburb of Seattle.

The subdivision had simply been built around the property when Ira Pratt had refused to sell. Consequently, the farm had become a boundary line of sorts. West Wildflower was the poorer and run down section, whereas the eastern section was well kept and quiet. In the middle sat the farm and Cora Pratt.

Cora was a formidable woman, who, as far as Frank could tell, took no shit at all from either side.

When the “uppity bastards,” as Cora called them, on the east side had sent a letter demanding that she cut down on the fertilizer her hired man used on the corn field, she had called in John, the hired man, and told him to use just a little more instead. They had of course “Taken her to the court’s,” as she had put it, but to no avail. The court had upheld her Commercial Farm Zoning, and the judge had told the “Smart ass lawyer,” as Cora had called him that worked for the East Side Coalition, not to bother him with anymore groundless lawsuits or he’d personally report him to the Bar Association.

Likewise, when some of the, “Shiftless no-accounts,” from the west side had tried to steal some of her chickens, she had “filled their britches with buckshot.”

Frank knew all this was true because Cora had told him. She didn’t want to “Mince no words” as she had put it, “lay it all out on the table,” she had said. “Just in case you get to hearing things and think I’m a bit funny, I ain’t… I just protect what’s mine.”

That had been her little speech, on the day six years ago, when she had first begun taking care of Patty and Tim, and Frank had to admit, to her credit, she seemed to be just what she said she was, and no one could have taken better care of his children in his opinion.

Cora waved from the front porch swing as Frank stopped the car and walked towards the white framed house. The scent of Lilacs in bloom came to him on the light breeze from the porch front, where the bushes marched away in both directions, rail high.

“Thought you weren’t coming to say good-bye to your kids,” she quipped.

“Sorry,” Frank replied, “I got bogged down in traffic.”

More like a couple of shots of gin, she thought but didn’t say.

“Yep, that traffic can surely be a bother in the summer, that’s for sure,” she said aloud. Tim and Patty leaped down from the old porch and raced across the lawn. Frank went to his knees and caught them in his arms.

THREE

Frank Morgan flipped the map back onto the passenger seat of the small red Toyota Prius and glanced at his watch. 

He had figured the trip from Syracuse to Fort Drum would take about an hour and a quarter. He hadn’t, however, counted on the traffic. The whole day can’t be great, he thought. The trip into Syracuse International had gone well. One short connection in route and other than that the whole trip had been uneventful. But now he had to deal with this. Something up ahead was slowing the traffic down, and he was pretty sure he knew what the problem was. Still, if he lost much more time, it would probably be close to dark when he arrived in Fort Drum, and the possibility of arriving after dark, and trying to find the house didn’t appeal to him. 

Frank eased the Prius out into the passing lane, and slowly coaxed the car up to speed again. He had been right; the problem was the same as it had been coming off the thruway from the airport to get on route 81. Army convoys, and if you didn’t get around them quickly, you could spend forever in the left-hand lane. He had learned that lesson the hard way coming off the thruway. Not only couldn’t he get around them, at first, but when he did, he couldn’t get back in for the exit to Route 81 north. He had ended up heading south instead and had wasted twenty minutes getting turned around and back to the northern exit.

What the hell kind of military base needs that many trucks, he had wondered. It was a question that actually didn’t need to be answered, but he answered it anyway. The base doesn’t, the caves do. They may unload at the base, but I bet they just drop the load and ship it into the city at night, he told himself. 

He stared out the window of the car, and looked over the traffic as he passed it. Jeeps dump trucks, Hummers, and tractor-trailer combos carrying who knows what. All of them heading to northern New York, he knew. He also knew that the airfield, at the base outside of Glennville, had been quite busy as well, the convoys of trucks weren’t their only supply source.

Frank reached towards the dashboard and fished a cigarette out of the pack that rested there, lighting it just as he passed the last olive-green truck on his right. He tossed the lighter into the plastic console, and it landed with a hollow plastic bong. At the same time, he pulled back into the right-hand lane, and leaned back into the seat as he took a long pull on the cigarette.

From what he had been able to determine from the map, and what he already knew from his investigation, the military base was about twenty miles north from Fort Drum. Don was right, it didn’t seem as though any of the trucks would be passing through Fort Drum on their way to the base. Glennville was only about nine miles away from the base though, and that was where the loads would end up. Not in the city actually, he reminded himself, but under the city, and he hadn’t found that little piece of information on the map. The map said exactly nothing about the caves.

When he had first started to seriously investigate the base, he had gotten the first hint of the caves from one of his informers. The informer was an ex-private turned junky, who had been stationed at the base when the project had started. The rest he had gotten from the articles he carefully culled from the Glennville Daily Press, and Jimmy, an old friend who worked at a Syracuse paper. Some things could be hidden, but there was always a clue if you knew where to look. 

The first article he had read, had seemed harmless enough, but coupled with the information he’d already had, it had been intriguing. The United States Army had purchased some abandoned property from the city to use as a storage depot. The story had gone on to say that the land was close to the train depot, and the base would benefit from the purchase as they would no longer need to truck shipments from the base to the depot every time, they used the rail yards. The ex-private had tipped him off about the caves, which also happened to be located on the same piece of property.

Even then, it still hadn’t made a whole lot of sense to Frank. What would they save? They would still have to ship whatever came in there, to the base. Wouldn’t they? 

In other articles, most of which had been written years before in the Glennville paper, he had learned what the property actually consisted of, and at first it had seemed like an unlikely purchase. It hadn’t been all that hard to dig up the old articles, especially with the help of his friend in Syracuse. Although Glennville had its own local paper, the Times Reporter in Syracuse, which was only seventy miles away, often reported on the events that took place there. 

It had been an easy matter of looking through the archived data files, pulling the stories that pertained, and with the help of an internet connection, the reporter friend sent the stories to Frank in Washington via e-mail. He had learned most of what he knew about the actual property from those stories, some of which dated from the early thirties.

The property was located on the riverbank in the heart of the down-town section of Glennville. It consisted of a stretch of road that began in the center of the city, and then extended out of the city along an old set of railroad tracks. An old defunct coal company and some run down out buildings were also included. Perhaps the most important of all, an abandoned series of caves that ran under the city. The city had bricked up the caves better than sixty years before, in response to the community. 

In June of 1935, a large group of school children, along with two adults who supposedly were well acquainted with the caves and their various twists and turns had set out on a field trip to explore them. They had never returned. A subsequent search had turned up no trace of them at all. Three weeks later the city had sent a Public Works crew to brick up the entrance, and it had been closed since. 

When the Army had bought the property, it was considered unsafe and had pretty much been allowed to go to seed. The road leading out of it had likewise been closed off some years before, and the area had become a hangout for young kids and vagrants. On any given night the police ended up being called to the area several times, and the city had debated for years about what they should do with the property.

When the Army had offered to purchase the property, the City Council had considered it a Godsend, and had been more than happy to sign over the deed and accept the check they offered. It had seemed to be the end of it. Frank had read later articles, however, that seemed to indirectly touch on the property. There was an increase in traffic after the sale, and an unusual amount of security that surrounded the site. 

The local paper had downplayed it to normal, or as close to normal as they could. Glennville had always been a military town, and so most of the complaints of increased traffic, were actually seen in a good light. Increased activity at the property might eventually mean more jobs, and in a depressed economy, which depended heavily on the nearby base, anything the Army did was always reported in a positive light. As far as the local paper was concerned, there was nothing negative to report. 

So the real clues had come from the Syracuse paper. Franks’ friend, Jimmy Patrick, kept in touch, and had contacted Frank whenever he came across anything that was related to the smaller northern city. Syracuse itself had had tremendous problems, initially, with the traffic. 

When Frank had called Jimmy, he had only wanted to know what he knew about the place. But after Jimmy had told him about the traffic problem, he had asked him to keep in touch, and he had. He had also filled him in on everything else he knew about Glennville. As he drove along, Frank mentally ticked off what he knew about the northern New York City.

The Black River split the city in two, and there were four bridges that spanned it. Three of the four also spanned the property that the military had purchased, and those three bridges were new. When they had been replaced, the road that ran to the old, abandoned coal mine had been blocked off and abandoned. Ironically, or maybe not, Frank thought, the Army Corps of Engineers had done all of the work. 

The result was a small, discarded piece of property, with its own road leading in and out, in the heart of the city. It was bound on the south side by the Black River and the north by a sixty-foot rock ledge that rose just behind the old historic downtown district. That was, besides the caves, what Frank knew about the city itself. Jimmy had seemed to have caught Frank’s enthusiasm for the mystery and had also sent him other articles he found as well. 

Some of them, although at first glance seemingly innocent, were quite revealing about what was actually going on in Glennville.

The first one Jimmy had dug up and sent him, was from the Public Notices section of the Syracuse paper.

“I thought it was kind of strange,” Jimmy had said, “that they didn’t print the notice in the Glennville paper.” 

Frank had read the long notice carefully. It boiled down to a statement of facts concerning the property in Glennville, and the Governments intended use of it.

The whole notice hadn’t made a lot of sense. It seemed to be saying that they intended to invoke the privilege to the mineral rights that had been deeded to them along with the property. It also stated that the Army Corps of Engineers had decided that the closed caves would need to be reopened for a feasibility study, to determine whether or not they could be used as a storage facility. It had been the first direct mention of the caves at all. 

The notice went on to say that since this would involve transportation of, as well as disposition of, excess material from within the caves, the Corps had asked for, and via the printing of the notice, been given permission to begin the process without the necessary permits. They were also granted permission to transport radioactive materials to and from the site, the notice stated, and had likewise been granted a waiver of the Clean Water Discharge Act, to allow undisclosed drainage into the Black River. 

Subsequent notices and articles had detailed contract awards for “unspecified” electrical and plumbing work, along with contracts for per-piece orders of drywall and lumber. Another notice Frank had read, contained contract awards for concrete and asphalt, to a Texas corporation. The amounts were unspecified, and were listed as needed for road repair, and sub-wall replacement. Jimmy had thought some of it was unusual, and probably even illegal, and although Frank had agreed, there was not much that either of them could do without further proof. 

Jimmy had also told Frank that the Army had been building up the area for some time and that from what he’d been able to determine, they had begun work on the caves even before they had completed the purchase of the land.

They both suspected that the notices were only a cover for some larger project the Army was carrying out, and the radioactive permits bothered him a great deal. Jimmy had promised to stay in touch, and he had, up until last week. 

Frank had tried to contact him at work several times but to no avail, and the messages he left were not returned. He had tried calling Jimmy at home and his cell as well and had only been rewarded with his voicemail. That had seemed strange to Frank also. Jimmy was a damn good reporter who knew the value of answering his phone whenever it rang. At work, at home, in the middle of the night, it made no difference. Jimmy always answered the phone. Jimmy wasn’t answering and now instead of four rings before voicemail, the phone was directing to voicemail after the first ring.

He had even tried contacting Jimmy’s editor, but he had refused to talk to him. He hadn’t given up though and had tried to call just this morning before he left Washington. His call was put through, but all he had gotten was a steady busy signal at his home, and when he had called his work number, a business-like secretary at the paper informed Frank, in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, that Jimmy had left just the day before on an assignment. When he had asked her where he had gone to, her voice had gone even more business-like, and she had told him the paper did not give out that sort of information. Just when Frank had been about to try a different, more tactful approach to find out what was going on, she had hung up on him. The whole thing, the caves, and Jimmy’s disappearance weighed heavily upon him.

Frank inhaled deeply from the cigarette, and then tossed it out the open window. 

That was why he was here. None of it figured. The base itself had hundreds of acres of land, so why did they need more? Why the caves? And what the hell had happened to Jimmy? …

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 Notes from the Edge 04-03-2024


Posted on April 3, 2024 by dello

 Notes from the Edge 04-03-2024

Dell Sweet

Dreamer’s Worlds

Dreamer’s Worlds: The Legend of Sparrow

I had come back to spend time with Laura. I could not tell her my real reasons. That I was afraid of leading the Dream Killer to her. #Mythology #Fantasy #Readers #DreamTravel #Kindle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XRM98LP


Dreamer’s Worlds: The Dreamer’s Worlds

Laura and Joe live lonely lives, but they are dreamers. When they close their eyes they dream travel through space and time, to other worlds with little more than a thought… #Mythology #Fantasy #Readers #DreamTravel #Kindle


A free chapter read from the series…


DREAMER’S WORLDS: SPARROW SPIRIT

Published with CreateSpace

Dreamer’s Worlds Sparrow Spirit is Copyright © 2015 Dell Sweet & Geo Dell

Copyright © 2010 – 2015 by Dell Sweet & Geo Dell All rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2014 Wendell Sweet

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

LEGAL

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

This novel is Copyright © 2010 – 2015 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing name used by Wendell Sweet. The Name Geo Dell is a publishing name owned by Wendell 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.

FOREWORD

My hope is that you enjoy this book as much as we enjoyed writing it.

Dell wrote the seed to this book some time ago. As we sat down together and began to work out how to write the actual book it seemed like a few hundred serious things happened all at once. I had things going on in my life, Dell had things going on in his life. It seemed time to concentrate on the actual writing would be difficult with a few hundred miles between us, and little actual time to get together physically, but in the end it all worked out. And now it’s your time. Read. Enjoy. We will be back in the fall of 2015 with book two…

Geo Dell 

DREAMER’S WORLDS: THE DREAMER’S WORLDS

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

Joe Miller

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

Laura Kast 

DREAMER’S WORLDS TWO

Sparrow Spirit

ONE

On The Path:

Day One.

Laura Kast and Bear

The morning sun came up bright. Bear and I were sitting before a fire we had built a few miles from the village. We were not meant to travel in the night, that had been made clear. A few miles from the village everything changed. We weren’t in the land of the dead, any more than we were in the underground, but this was not the normal world either.

Neither of us knew exactly where we were or where we would end up. What would happen after three hands of time. Fifteen days.

But we had heeded the warning, and so, although neither of us needed sleep, we stopped, built a fire and spent the night wondering about what might lie ahead.

Several times in the night something came close to us.  Studied us. We could see the eyes reflected in the black.

Some of those creatures sounded like horses. Hooves beat the ground, but their eyes matched no horse I have ever seen.

Some made the ground shake as they walked. Just before morning one of them called out to us once more.

“Dreamer’s!” The voice had come from the blackness, after the sounds of labored breathing and vibration from the ground as the creature moved.

The silence spun out.

“Hear this!” The voice continued… “If I find you in the daylight, I will do all that I can to help you… I have prayed you well, and I will continue to pray you well, but if I come upon you traveling during the night I will kill you both.”

The voice alone made the ground tremble. When it finished, the sounds of labored breathing came back. And heavy footsteps moved away. We had no doubt that whatever it was, was meant as a straightforward warning to us. That, along with the warriors warning made us glad we had stopped for the night. If there were a doorway or doorways along this path, there was no telling what could cross over from other words. No telling at all.

Shortly after the sun rose, the second sun rose, and the heat began to build. We broke camp and began our walk on the well worn path that ran beside the river.

We looked but we found no footprints or unusually disturbed areas of earth. I began to put it from my mind as the morning wore on.

On The Path:

Joe Miller

Gary stood where I had left him. But it wasn’t really Gary. He was whatever I believed he was. My own guilt turned into a mirror.

His state had changed considerably since I had left. His face was sunken, split to yellow bone. Beetles and worms crawled busily over his moldy gray suit and through his hair. His eye sockets were deep black with chips of blood-red at the centers.  His hands not much more than bones and crumbly skin. Fingers clicking and clacking together as he moved them.

“I’m going in,” I told him. My hand fell on the knob.

“I’ll look forward to your arrival here,” The thing that was not Gary said.

“You’ll wait a long time,” I said quietly. My eyes left his and I turned the knob. It turned easily beneath my hand, the door swung inward, and complete blackness greeted me. I took a breath, tried to slow my heart rate and stepped into the blackness.

At first the floor remained under my feet the absolute black before my eyes. But the floor shifted, tilted down, changed texture. I stopped and regained my balance and at the same time the blackness began to clear.

A path came from the darkness winding down a steep cliff face to the valley floor below. I took another step, and another, and the blackness retreated completely to be replaced by  early morning sunlight that fell from the sky above. I turned my eyes up to those skies above the valley, where twin suns rode close to one another, lifting from the edge of the world, sailing into the skies. I looked back to the door but it had disappeared. Nothing remained of my old world. I turned my attention back to the path and the valley below.

A large village spread across the valley floor. Smoke rose from several fires. I wasn’t close enough to see what those places were. The people seemed no larger than half sized ants crawling across the valley floor. Even so, I felt that they knew I was there. Felt me. My presence. And they had been expecting me to come to them. I clutched my medicine bag where it hung on its leather cording around my neck. Sent a small prayer of thanks to the Creator and began to walk my path.

In The Stone.

Sparrow Spirit

Sparrow Spirits eyes opened. This world was as real as any she could remember. The physical world. The world she had traveled while she was dead, but she had never succumbed to its reality.

It was early morning. The sun in the sky seemed so real. The clouds that floated in the pale gray early morning sky, their bottoms tinged with pinks and oranges, seeming to promise rain. And rain may come, but it was not the thunders that would bring it, she knew. The clouds were no more real than anything else here.

Something had awakened her; she did not know what. As she wondered a sparrow song came to her, sending the greeting once more that had pulled her from her sleep.

She called the sparrow to her, and she materialized within the stone, her tiny feet wrapped around Sparrow Spirit’s small finger. The sparrows spirit looked and seemed as real as anything else in her prison. The sparrow sang its message as Sparrow Spirit listened.

Out Of Time

The Thief Of Souls

He strode briskly through the cool night air, his feet stepping on rocks, bricks, glass and nails alike. His feet were bare, but he paid no attention to where he put them. He stopped before a slight mound, just a few inches across and squatted next to it. One hand shot out and exploded the earth where it touched it. His hand reached down throwing the dirt that remained aside. He slowed, stopped, and then lifted out a few feathers and bits of bone, a fragile, yet intact bird skull. He placed the pieces all together on a clean handkerchief he had pulled from his breast pocket.  He stood, brushed the dirt from his hands, folded the handkerchief carefully and then walked off across the lot the way he had come. A few seconds later his feet touched down on a street in the city of the dead.

His boot heels clock clocked as he walked, bouncing off the empty buildings, echoing along the vacant streets. Dogs and coyotes fought over a nearby body. But they fled as the scent of The Thief of Souls came to them. The fight suddenly not important all. He walked to the edge of the city, savoring the pall of death that hung over it. The smells. The silence except for the death machinery.

He stopped at a small clearing. A stone altar and bare earth.  He walked to the altar, placed the handkerchief upon it and then carefully opened it, allowing the bones and bits of feathers to tumble out onto the cold, stone surface. He set the handkerchief aside leaving the bird bones exposed in the weak moonlight. He withdrew a shiny steel knife from a sheath inside his coat.

Long, over nine inches of smooth steel. Curved and honed to a razor-sharp cutting surface. The tip itself was honed to a needle like sharpness. He held one hand out, palm down, and drew the steel blade across it. A few drops of thick, black blood dripped down upon the remains.

The effects were immediate. The bones began to shift, curl, the feathers seemed to melt into black goo surrounding the bones as they twitched and moved.

Smoke began to rise in curls. The drops of blood slowed. The thief returned the knife to his sheath, took the handkerchief that he had discarded, wound it around his palm a few times to stop the flow of blood, stepped back and watched the blood serve its purpose.

A few minutes later the mess began to grow, covering the altar top. Time slipped by as it continued to grow. Finally, it ceased and Abignew lay stretched out on the table. The thief bent low, placed his mouth over the demons’ mouth and breathed life into him. Abignew came alive with a sharp cough and a cry of alarm. He settled down when the Thief laid his hand upon his chest, pushing him softly back to the stone altar top.

“You let them kill you…  You are not usually that stupid,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” Abignew told him.

He shook his head. “Don’t say sorry. Sorry is only a word. Go find them and this time, kill them. I don’t ever want to hear of them again.” The Thief removed his heavy hand and helped Abignew from the altar. Together they walked back into the City of Dead.

The Red Way:

Laura And Bear

The first dead passed us by before both suns had fully lifted above the rim of the world.

We had heard them long before we saw them. Crawling, stumbling, crashing around in a thick forest that crept up to the edge of the path in many places. In some places it fell back a few hundred yards, in others, limbs overhung the path as if reaching their wooden fingers for the river beyond. What the dead had been doing in the woods was beyond me.

Bear and I watched stunned as they began to pour from the woods, which were so thick that it seemed as though night still held dominion there and take up following the path.

Bear had no more explanation than I did for why they were in the woods. Like me he thought that they were here to finish following their own path. For all who died there was a journey of death to make. The final journey. And it made sense to both of us that they were on the same path as we were.

“This path is part of their journey,” Bear said. “We are in search of our entrance, and they are as well.” He seemed to think for a moment. “Somewhere along this path their journey may end, and they will find their way to the Ancestors, the Land of Dead, or the Underworld.” We walked in silence for a time.

The dead came heavy from the woods as the suns rose into the sky. They came as they had died, or as they had become after death. Some crawling. Missing limbs. Eyes. Some not much more than skeletons, collections of bones walking along to the accompaniment of the clacks and clatter from their bones.

Some seemed whole, some nearly so. A young woman walked past me and smiled shyly at me as she did. As she smiled, I thought she looked like the picture of life until she turned more fully to me, and I could see the opposite side of her face was a ruined mass of torn flesh. One bright eye stared back at me from the ruined mass.

“Could you help me?…  I can’t…  I can’t find my way.” She said. She moved on without waiting for an answer, drops of blood spattered to the ground as she walked.

Some were more terrifying than pathetic. They stumbled about headless, bumping into one another, and nearly bumping into us occasionally.

One came crawling along the ground. Her body was gone from the waist down. The flesh was stripped away from her face, rotted away or eaten by the birds who still harassed her as she crawled along. Landing on her and pecking away small strips of her flesh.

As I watched one landed on her head, dug in its claws and pecked one of her eyes out. Her hands, which had been working to pull her along, came up and grabbed at the bird as a scream came from her throat. One hand hit the bird and it fluttered up into the air.

A man stumbling along beside her snatched the bird from the air, crushed it in one fist and dropped it to the ground. The woman snatched up the bird in one hand. Her fingers were down to the bone from pulling her body along, the white tips poked from the flesh, streaked with blood, bits of flesh and dirt. The birds mouth opened weakly. The woman looked at it for a moment with her one remaining eye and then thrust her head forward and bit its head off. The sound of the head cracking and breaking in her jaws came to me as she threw the body away, dug her hands back into the ground and began once more to pull herself along as she continued to chew on the bird’s head.

Shortly after that we both began to focus farther off down the path so we wouldn’t have to look too closely. As the day wore on the woods seemed to empty and the path became crowded in places. No matter how fast we walked the dead moved faster, as they were always coming up behind us and passing us. Occasionally one would stop, look around, and then wander off the path to the river or the woods. I saw at least two dozen disappear into thin air as I watched.

By noon the predators showed up and the crowded path began to thin out.

My first reaction was to stop them. To chase them away. And I did the first few times, but that only told them to stay away from us.

Wolves, Bears, big cats attracted to the smell of so much death.  They ran at them, but the dead had no real way to run away or to defend themselves. They dragged them off into the woods where the screaming continued long after it should have.

Bear and I agreed that they were not really animals of all, but demons, spirits come to steal the souls of the dead. The ones that came as themselves were the worst of all. They swooped from the blue sky. Black shadows against the white clouds and dual suns. Hideous faces, some as dead as those they preyed upon. Some came from the ground, and twice they crawled from the river itself: After that we stayed farther away from the river.

By the time the suns were straight up in the sky there were very few dead left. The predators were stalking those and taking them one by one. They stumbled along fearfully, watching all around them as they tried to run. Or they ran toward Bear and me, screaming for us to help them. Swerving away at the last minute as if they realized we were something different and could not help them.

As the suns lifted higher into the sky the dead became less, although we could still hear their cries from the deep woods as they were devoured. Bear and I walked on in silence.

The predators, whether demons or real, ran along with the dead at the tree line. Sometimes concealed, sometimes showing themselves. Sometimes scenting the dead, sometimes seeming to scent on Bear and me. But always just a short space away.  We didn’t lack for company.

The river, black and oily in the darkness, was not much different in the daylight. An odor of death and rot came from its waters as they bumped over rocks and rapids on their way to wherever dead water went to.

The birds came in mass just before the first sun sank into the horizon. They picked at the bits and pieces of the dead that had fallen on the path. There were so many at times that Bear, and I had to push them aside in order to walk. Once the first sun set the birds took flight: The path was picked clean as it had been the night before when we had started out on it. Now we understood how it had gotten that way.

Just before the second sun set the Moon began to show herself.  I didn’t know if this was a Grandmother Moon, but I sent a prayer to her just the same as she came up to keep the darkness away.

As the sun set the other noises came: The shadows built at the edges of the forest. The heavy footfalls came from deep within the trees. The ground shook, and I remembered the voice from the night before.

Occasionally, as the sun set, we heard the cry of one of the bigger predators as they became prey to whatever it was that ruled the night. Just before nightfall we stopped, gathered dead fall together to see us through the night, and made a small camp at a wide area of the path.

The Moon came up full and Bear and I sat before the fire, each lost in thought.

The Red Way:

Joe

The suns were sinking lower into the earth by the time I came down off the mountain and wandered into the village. I was tired, as if I had a physical body. My eyes were heavy lidded.  My strength nearly gone. One moment I was alone the next I was flanked by warriors who had fallen in beside me. Ghosting from the trees and walking beside me, matching my stride. They were bare chested; war paint adorned their bodies. Red, black, and bone bead work was woven into their hair. I followed them into the village.

It was a large busy village. Small children ran here and there.  Happy, carefree. Wolfdogs chased after them, protected them, watched out for them, including keeping an eye on me, the stranger, as I walked past them deeper into the village.

The wolf dogs reminded me of Bear and made me wonder where Laura was. Whether Bear was physically with her, or only in spirit, walking some other path himself.

A clearing opened up and I found myself before a large teepee at the center of the village.

The tepee was off by itself, it was also clear that it approximated the center of the village. The heart. But it was a place of importance. An ancient old man sat close to a fire, nearby a young woman held a rabbit up to the sky in one hand. In the other she held a forged steel blade. The blade glinted in the moonlight. She closed her eyes, praying the rabbit’s soul back to the creator, and then lowered her hands.  A few short minutes later the rabbit was spitted over the fire across from the old man.

I studied her face as she spitted the rabbit. Tattoos of small blue-black squares on one cheek. Exquisitely made clothing. Leather tunic, leather dress. Moccasins with high built-in leggings. She was young, graceful, her eyes sparkled with amusement as she caught mine looking at her. I felt the need to apologize, but she was gone long before I could say anything. The old man beckoned me to sit. He had apparently been waiting on me. I felt like apologizing again. He spoke slowly.

“You could apologize your entire life. But your actions say those words for you. If you truly walk the Red Path, there is no need to apologize it is known that you feel remorse. And if you do not, you do not walk the Red Path at all.” He picked up an iron Tomahawk from the ground beside him. “We will eat shortly. For now, I ask that you honor the Creator with me,” he said as he packed the tomahawk’s pipe bowl full of tobacco.

I didn’t understand what he said on one level. I didn’t know the language. On another level I heard him perfectly and understood the things he didn’t say. That he had expected me. That I was welcome. That he knew I would honor the Creator.

He lit the bowl, puffed, blew smoke in the four directions, and then passed the pipe to me. I acknowledged the directions myself, smoked and then passed the tomahawk back to him. We repeated the passing of the pipe two more times without acknowledgment of the directions, and then he set the pipe down. He reached forward and turned the rabbit on its spit where it sizzled and browned, and then looked up to my eyes.

“You still live,” he said.

I nodded.

He nodded back. “It will be harder if you live. Hard to walk among the dead with a body to live for… You should let it go.” He finished.

I digested his words slowly. “Is it required?” I thought to add something else but couldn’t think of a single thing to say.  Across from me a young woman arrived with a skin and poured liquid into small wooden bowls. The old man gave me a bowl.

“It is not,” he said. “But I thought you loved the woman. Wanted her to succeed.” He nodded for me to drink and then drank himself.

I took a deep drink. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I had become walking down off the mountain. Heavy, fermented, sweet, it burned my throat on the way down. My eyes teared up. He smiled at me. “I want her to succeed,” I answered honestly. “I had hoped to dream her to life.”

“You cannot dream another to life,” he said simply and sipped at his bowl.

“I meant,” I started.

“I know what you meant. But death. Life. These are not your choices. These are choices the Creator makes long before we are born into these worlds. We can only accept them… She has died… None return from the dead… The legend of Sparrow Spirit should tell you that.” He said, holding my eyes with his own.

I sipped and nodded my head. “I should die,” I asked at last?

“I cannot say… I can only say I’m surprised you have chosen to walk alive. It is difficult dead… Alive…” He shrugged and sat his bowl aside.

Two young women appeared with a platter of steamed vegetables, and taking the rabbit from the spit, prepared a platter of food for each of us. The platters, I noticed when I took mine, were shoulder bones from Elk or Moose. I lost myself in eating. Surprised at my appetite. The old man ate with me, both of us silent. The two young women moved off a short distance and talked quietly between themselves. One had spirals on one cheek, the other wore a leather outfit with handprints and spirals. The same nine square pattern was tattooed on her cheek. The opposite cheek the young woman with the spiral had chosen.

“It is her name… Power… All she can be,” the old man said. It explained everything and told me nothing. “You could die a good death and be more help to her. What will you do alive?  How will you, a mortal, help her with the things of the dead?”

I met his eyes. I had no answer. “Is it required,” I asked again.

“Isn’t your purpose to win?” He countered.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly.

He nodded. “Then you must leave it to the creator. Death.  Life. Is his gift to give to you. For now he has purposed you to travel in the land of the dead, yet live. If he decides you must die, you will die. If he allows you to live, he will use you in that state.” He picked up the bowl and sipped from it.

I picked up my own bowl, found it empty, and one of the young women rose and came to me with a skin and refilled my bowl. She went to the old man and filled his next. I sipped at my bowl and thought about what the old man had said.  But it made sense. Perfect sense. I had wondered, and more than wondered, even asked the Creator to allow Laura to have her life back once more, against my own beliefs. My beliefs said the Creator has given us all that we need. There is no need to ask for anything, only to give thanks. Sometimes hard to understand. A hard path to walk. But it was part of the path I had always walked, and I knew I would always walk.

“You will walk,” he said. “Starting tonight, after the Moon is heavy in the sky. But you will not walk for lengths in the moonlight. If you do you will surely die, and your death will be for nothing. You’ll walk until you can no longer see the glow of the village. You will stop and make your camp. When the brothers rise, you will rise quickly with them and be underway. You will see things that are not a dream. Things that can kill you. And some things that will try to take you away from your walk. You must walk, when the brothers set you will rest through the darkness. However, tempted, do not venture into the darkness…” He sipped at his bowl. “Will you live? Will you help her? I cannot say.” He sipped again and then nodded. “If you die, Brother, die well.” His hands rose, motioning me up and I understood it was time to leave.

The village was not as busy as it had been when I walked into it. The Moon was rising. The light bled from the sky. Four warriors walked beside me.

I passed Elders gathered around fires. They watched as I passed. A baby suckled at his mother’s breast. His dark eyes following me as I passed.

We left the village at a run and a few minutes later I was on my own. I built a fire and it burned brightly to keep the night away. The voices came to me shortly after that. Thousands it seemed, calling to me from the trees that started only a few hundred feet from me. Screams. Voices calling for me to help them. As the Moon continued to rise the voices came less often. I sat and waited for the sunrise.

In The Fight:

Abignew;

Dream Killer

Dream Killer: Abignew traveled with the Dream Killer. The Dream Killer was not much different from he himself. A minor demon. An evil device was how he thought of himself. An evil device that the thief could use to meet his ends. Dream Killer may have had legends spoken about him, but he was no different than Abignew himself, despite that.

They traveled at the edges of the forest with the dead. The spirit animals, the dead following their path, the predators that preyed on the animal spirits, none of those bothered Abignew, and from what he could tell, they didn’t bother the Dream Killer either.

The traveled in the black, and the shadows within the black.  Things screamed. Some human. Some not. Other things came close until they got their scent and then they fled in terror.  The Moon rose into the sky.

Abignew found himself wishing they could simply move from one place to the next as they did in any other world. But the rules here were different. No one did anything other than walk the trail of the dead.

Near to morning they slowed. A fire glowed in the near distance. Abignew’s crooked face split into a smile. They were here… All of them? He asked himself.

He scented the air. No… One. He didn’t know which one this one was, and he didn’t care. He would kill them all, either by fair measures or foul. That didn’t matter. So, it mattered very little which one he killed first. They slowed to a walk at the edge of the deepest shadows that favored the edge of the forest.

The things that had been in those places moved and crashed off through the trees in fear. The scent of their prey came to him as he drew nearer, and he smiled as they walked. Seconds later he was staring through the trees at the fire light…


Check out the book links above for the series…


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Notes from the Edge – Dell Sweet


Posted on March 31, 2024 by dello

Posted by Dell 01/16/2024

It’s Tuesday already, where in hell did Monday go. It seems as though it arrived here way too fast, like I could have used a few extra days, maybe a nine-day week… Will whoever is in charge of that take care of it? Thanks…

This Week:

  • I talked to Geo Dell, and we will tackle the Dreamers series together. But, because I don’t want to take time away from the The Zombie Plagues series, he will take the lead with that. We hope to have the second book ready by March 1st. He’s happy with it and I am too. It puts his foot in a door he wanted it to be in and it gives me some of my time back. He will be publishing some more short fiction soon. I’ve seen it and it’s good. Once you read it you will see how compatible our styles are and why I decided as I did for us to work closer together.
  • The Zombie Plagues is now available in Paperback. It will be available on Amazon within the next week some time. It is also available digitally at Smashwords One Two Three Four.
  • Dreamer’s Worlds book two is done. There should be no problem with the March 1st publishing date. That will be available in Paperback and Smashwords editions.
  • The Zombie Plagues main site was updated to reflect the changes involved in moving the content.
  • An Author site was added at Smashwords. Smashwords

This week I thought I would treat you to a little preview of a character you may not have met, if you have not purchased and read the first books. She doesn’t come on the scene until the second book, but she is a major character from there on. Meet Donita…

This Book Preview is Copyright Dell Sweet 2024 all rights are reserved. It may not be reproduced by any means except short references for review or critique.

Meet Donita

~ In the Dark ~

The cow turned her head towards the woods, nervous. Her large eyes reflecting silver glints from the moonlight.

The smell of death and corruption was nothing new, and that was the smell that came to her now. But there was something wrong with it. Something not right with this smell. Something different. Her calf nuzzled her and began to nurse. The smell of humans came to her along with smoke and mumbled snatches of conversation and she stopped thinking about the dead smell. Turned away from the woods and stared at the firelight across the fields.

~In the Trees~

The eyes watched her and the other cows from the cover of the trees. The hunger was terrible, all consuming, and it came in crashing waves. The impulse to feed seemed to be the only coherent thought she had. It was hard to think around, hard to think past.

A few weeks ago, she had been… Been? But it did no good, she could not force the memory to come. A name came, Donita… she had been Donita, she knew that, but that was all she knew. And a name was not everything she had been. She had been something else… Something more, but she could not get to whatever it was though. Something that did not wander through the woods. Something that was not driven by all-consuming passions that she could not understand.

She turned her eyes up at the moon. It pulled at her. Something in it spoke directly to something inside her. Something deep. Something she believed had always been there but there had never been a need to address because it lived under the surface. Out of her line of thought. Below her emotions… Now it didn’t. Now it ruled everything. It was all she could do not to rush from the trees and find the smell that tempted her and consume it. Eat it completely. Leave nothing at all. Oh, to do it… To do it…

Her eyes snapped back from the moon and a low whine escaped her throat. The calf, sated, had wandered away from her mother. Behind her the boy made a strangled noise in his throat. She turned, gnashed her teeth and growled. The thin, skeletal boy fell back, hungry but frightened. She could feel his fear. It fed her, tempted her to taste him, but he was no food for her. She knew that much. It was a sort of instinct… Drive… Something inside of her. The boy was not her food. The boy was not her sustenance. He was one of her own. Corrupted. And corrupted flesh could not feed and sustain itself on corrupted flesh. Fresh flesh was needed, live flesh. Fresh Human flesh, she corrected.

The boy trembled and grinned sickly, his one good eye rolling in his head. The other eye was a ruined mass of gray pulp sagging from the socket. A great flap of skin below that socket had curled and dried, hanging from the cheek. He felt at it now, carefully, with his shrunken fingers. She hissed at him, and his hands fell away. She turned her attention back to the wandering calf that was nosing ever closer to the edge of the trees.

She desired human flesh. She needed it, but it didn’t absolutely have to be that way. Two nights ago, it had been a rabbit, the night before that she and the boy had shared a rat. The night before that they had come upon the old woman. She thought about the old woman as the calf wandered ever closer to the line of trees. The old woman had been good…

~The old woman in the ditch~

They had come across the old woman at near morning. Near morning was the best she could do. Time was not a real concern to her anymore. She understood near morning because the sickness, the sickness that began to send the searing pain through her body, had started. The boy had already been whining low in his throat for an hour. In pain. It was like that whenever the night began to end. When the morning was on the way. Soon to be.

She remembered sunlight. Her old self had needed sunlight just as she now needed darkness. Absence of light. That had been Donita too, but a different Donita.

They had been crossing the rock filled ditch to get to an old house on the other side. The basement of the house was what she had in mind. Quiet, private, darkness. She had been scrambling down the steep, sandy side when the smell had slipped up her nose and froze her brain.

That is the way she thought of it. Frozen. Everything… Everything besides that smell of flesh was frozen out. The boys whining, the coming dawn, the constant hunger in her belly, the moon silvery and bright so far up in the night sky. Nothing got by that desire, urge, drive. It consumed her, and it had then. It had started with her brain and then had spread out into her body. Her legs had stopped moving and she had nearly tumbled all the way to the bottom of the rock-strewn ditch before she had caught herself, her head already twisted in the direction of the smell. Her ears pricked, her tongue lick licking at her peeled, dead lips.

She could smell the old woman. Knew that she was an old woman. It was in the smell. Somehow it was in the smell. And her flesh. And her fear… The boy had slammed into her then, still whining and nearly knocked her to the ground.

She had come up from that near fall in a crouch and the boy had slammed into her once more, so she had grabbed him to steady him. He had thought she meant to kill him and had pulled away but a second later he had caught the scent and they had both gone tearing down the ditch.

~The Old Woman~

The old woman had heard them coming. She had begun to whine herself, replacing the boys whining which had turned to a low growl. The panic built in her as she heard them coming. Her heart pounded, leapt, slammed against her ribs bringing pain with it. The pain rebounded and shot down into her broken leg. The leg that she had broken the day before trying to scramble down into this ditch to reach the house across what was left of the highway so she would have a safe place to stay. The pain slammed into her leg, and she cried aloud involuntarily. A split second later the female slammed into her.

She had been on her belly. The pain was less that way. When the female hit her, she drove her over onto her back. A second after that she was ripping at her flesh, biting, feeding and she could not fight her she was too strong, too…. Animal strong. And then the boy hit her hard, pouncing on her chest, driving the air from her lungs, and before she could even react, catch her breath back, he was biting at her throat.

She felt the pulse of blood as he bit into her jugular, and it sprayed across his face. She felt it go. Felt her consciousness drop by half. Her eyelids flutter, flutter, flutter and then close completely. And the biting was far away and then it was gone…

~The Feasting~

The boy had her throat, but Donita had been biting her way into her chest. She had felt her heart beating and she had been gnawing against her ribs when she felt it stop. They had both calmed then, loosening the grips they had had on her, and settling down to feed.

She glanced now at the calf that was less than three feet from them. It’s huge moon eyes staring curiously at them. The calf did not know death. Had not seen it, she thought. It knew it’s mother’s tit, the sweet grass of the spring field, the warmth of the sun and nothing else. It edged a little closer.

She had killed the old woman. She had had no use for her at all. They had eaten so much of her flesh that she was useless to them. Couldn’t sit up all the way, the boy had taken one arm off at the shoulder and carried it away like a prize.

Donita had eaten so much that she had vomited, but that had only forced her back to feeding until she was once again filled. She had looked around the ditch and spied the rock. The old woman had come back already, and she was trying to raise herself from the ground. Trying to raise herself and walk once more. She had picked the rock up from the ditch. A big rock, but she was powerful, and she had smashed the old woman’s skull in as she had tried to bite at her.

She turned again to the calf. The calf was not what she wanted, but the calf would have to do for now. She let her hand fall upon the boy’s thigh and they both sprang at the calf.

The calf did not have the time to react, it didn’t even bawl. One second it was standing the next it was on its side, Donita’s teeth clamped tightly across its throat. A second after that it was sliding across the dew wet grass and into the woods, one wild eye rolling and reflecting the silver of the waning moon.

Click to get book one right here in all digital formats…


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 Notes from the Edge 03-26-24


Posted on March 26, 2024 by dello

 Notes from the Edge 03-26-24

Thought Bites

About This Blog

This is a medium to post book excerpts and my own thoughts.

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You may download Open-Source software completely free of any license fees. Install it on as many PCs as you like. Use it for any purpose – private, educational, government and public administration, commercial…

Pass on copies free of charge to family, friends, students, employees, etc.

Anything I have listed here is software I use myself and have checked out for, in some cases, years. The links are to the official websites only. Once there follow the links to get what you need. There are no charges, no fees ever.

OpenOffice is a suite of tools that equals MS Office. I use it for writing, and I have written more than ten books with it.

·         Writer a word processor you can use for anything from writing a quick letter to producing an entire book.

·         Calc a powerful spreadsheet with all the tools you need to calculate, analyze, and present your data.

·         Impress the fastest, most powerful way to create effective multimedia presentations.

·         Draw lets you produce everything from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations.

·         Base lets you manipulate databases seamlessly. Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and more.

·         Math lets you create mathematical equations with a graphic user interface.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://www.openoffice.org/

Puppy Linux enables you to save money while doing more work, even allowing you to do magic by recovering data from destroyed PCs or by removing malware from Windows. Now that vista and XP are no longer supported this OS can replace them. It is supported fully, and all updates are free.

·         CD Executable installs from within your old Vista or XP OS.

·         Full OS

·         No Charge for updates or more copies for other machines.

·         Runs on older or newer systems. Even systems under 1 gig of ram.

·         Includes a wide range of applications: wordprocessors, spreadsheets, internet browsers, games, image editors and many utilities. Extra software in the form of dotpets. There is a GUI Puppy Software Installer included.

·          

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://puppylinux.org/

Ubuntu is a popular Linux OS that can completely replace the Windows operating system on your machine. I use Ubuntu to do all of my computer related tasks. It is better, faster and more reliable than the Windows OS I once used.

·         Bootable disk with installer. As easy as installing any other software. Just make your choices, answer the questions, that’s it. The installer does the rest.

·         Software, Software and more software. Ubuntu comes with a built-in software installer, manager. Pick the software you want, and it will install it and set it up for you. OpenOffice, Gimp, Audacity, Games, Browsers and much more.

·         Updates are free. No charge for other machines. No licensing fees. Nothing at all. It is free and has long term support.

·         Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus and many other manufacturers now use Ubuntu.

·         32 bit, 64 bit, or both are available.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.ubuntu.com/

Gimp. Gimp is my graphics program of choice. I have paid the big bucks for other top name image/graphics programs, but I have not been as happy with those products as I have been with Gimp. I use it for all of my graphic/image needs. Book covers, Illustrations, in fact all the graphics on this site were made with Gimp.

·         Photo Enhancement. Numerous digital photo imperfections can be easily compensated for using GIMP. Many filters are included. Retouching, Resizing, all the top features you would expect to find are here.

·         File Formats. Gimp can read and save to all the top image formats.

·         Airbrush, Bucket, Pen, Brush, many other applicators included and easily used for your image work.

·         Blur, Soften, Clear backgrounds, Dozens of filters, Layers and much more. The only Image Processing software I use.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: https://www.gimp.org/


Run

A hardboiled #crime novel that follows Billy as he takes a walk to fight boredom and ends up in the middle of a crime. #Money #drugs #Violence #crime #Deadfolks and everything else you would want in a hardcore crime fiction novel… https://books2read.com/u/m2E061



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Notes from the Edge


Posted on March 25, 2024 by dello

 Notes from the Edge

03-25-24

Here are some suggested short story collections I and other writers have written, Dell

Alabama Island Short Story Collection

A collection of 12 short stories, including the featured story, Alabama Island.

I heard the soft murmur of its engine running: Some guy and some girl, I thought. #ShortStories #Thrillers #Readers #BookLovers #Drama https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/809312


Borderline: Collected Short Stories

He thought for a second longer, staring into the dimness, trying to see better. Checked the street; nobody, and then made his way down the alleyway. He bent and looked in passenger window… #Singles #ShortStories #Readers https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487747


The Curse of Norwood Middle School: Teenage Adventures of Kelsey (Teenage Adventures of Kelsey Book Series 4)

Kelsey, class president, wants to have a Valentine’s Day dance at the middle school. She takes it up with the school principal after the student council votes that the school should have one – but there is only one problem. Nobody is allowed in the school after dark. The school is cursed. Bad things happen. #YoungAdult #Amazon #ALNorton #ReadersofInstagram https://www.amazon.com/Curse-Norwood-Middle-School-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07MZHW7SH


TRUE: True Stories from a small Town #1 Five True Stories… 

The Last Ride. It was a busy Friday night driving cab… #Cab #Taxi #DellSweet #TrueStories #NonFiction https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276759


The Christmas Goo (Book Series 3) Kindle

Derik mocks Kelsey for having to go sit on Santa’s lap with her baby sisters and gets caught. As punishment, he has to now join them. Derik is not happy at all. He begins to make fun of Santa in any way he can not knowing the mall Santa can hear him. Is the mall Santa real or not? #ALNorton #ChristmasGoo #YoungAdult #Readerrs #BooksForKids 


Connected: Short Hauls

Harrows Grocery Early Morning The old Chevy idled roughly at the curb across from Harrows market…  #Crime #Thriller #Drama #Readers #ShortStories 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/831048


Not So Sweet Sarah: Teenage Adventures of Kelsey (Teenage Adventures of Kelsey Book Series 2)

Kelsey has a birthday coming up! She has recently been spending her allowance on starting a porcelain doll collection. All she wants for her birthday is that perfect porcelain doll to add to her collection. Her mom Jenna seems to have found one at an old antique store. When she leaves with the doll, the owner of the store regrets selling it to her. https://www.amazon.com/Not-So-Sweet-Sarah-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07J4KC1Y9

#ParaNormal #YoungAdult #ALNorton #Readers 


Billy Jingo Collected Short Stories

Billy Jingo contains 22 short stories, from crime to Horror and the title story, Billy Jingo. I started to get back into the truck when he wagged his head and put one finger to his lips. #ShortStories #Readers #Booklovers #Bookworms #Crime #Thriller https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/452624


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