2016.999

12-30-2016

Well, it’s almost over for this year, time to start thinking seriously about 2017 and what it might bring you. Here is something it will bring you, free eBooks: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/25786 You can download those books in any format you might need for your Nook reader, Kindle or anything else you have. And they really are free, no strings attached. I don’t give that web address a lot of publicity so please pass it on to people you think might like it. Horror, crime, SciFi, there is a little of everything there.

That is my view out the office window. The huge storm that was predicted didn’t get us too badly here. Maybe six inches. Not bad considering they were talking a foot to a foot and a half. This time of the year it is good to see the predictions off in a good direction.

Sad to read yesterday that after Losing Carrie Fisher he Mother Debbie Reynolds also passed. Sometimes I look at the world and I realize that every day it is becoming less and less the world I know. Less the world i grew up in, and I am almost always shocked when an icon passes, as though I really did believe that mortality would somehow pass them by, that they really were as magical as I believed them to be.

I am working on writing today. I know Dell posted the 5th installment of Earth’s Survivors today: http://dellsweet.com/2016/12/30/earths-survivors-five/ so drop by there and read it. I would also point out that now that most of the content from the old blogs is now here the regular posts will be Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There are probably a few more articles that were missed. The old blog http://blog.sotofo.com/#home will remain a few more months until the traffic drops and then we will close it down.

I will leave you with an excerpt from Dreamers…

…………………………………………………………….

DREAMERS

Dreamers is Copyright © 2015 Dell Sweet & Geo Dell

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

Artwork © 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. 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.

………………………………………………………………

In The Sunlight:

The Book Of Memories;

Laura

I started from the first page of the book of memories. It was not a long book. Not a new book. The leather covers were old, mellow, but it had been taken care of. The pages were yellowed, slightly stiff, but they were not falling apart. A slim book, but I felt that what words it did contain most likely more than made up for the size. I began to read from the first page…

… In the beginning there was only the Creator. There was no Earth Mother. No Grandfather Sun to shine. No Grandmother Moon to light our way in the night. No Animals. No Thunders. No Directions. No legends to tell, because there were no peoples.

The Creator lived with the Star People in the heavens. But The Star People were not talkers, and so the Creator became lonely and wished for someone he could talk with.

One day as he walked among the Star People, he decided that he would create a world where he could go and talk to his creations.

Now all the things that ever were, or ever could be, lived within the Creators words. Within himself. So even though he had never walked on a world of the kind that he had in mind, he knew exactly what he wanted and what it should look like.

As he walked among the Star People thinking it out, he realized he did not want just another world full of rocks and trees, mountains and plains. The stars were full of worlds just like that. Those were worlds that were alive, but they were not the kind of life that the Creator was. What the Creator wanted was companionship. Someone he could visit with. Talk with. Someone like himself.

Now a tree or a rock could be visited, talked to, but what he had in mind was something that would answer back. At that time trees and rocks were not much on talking. There came a time within the legends when the trees and the rocks, when many things we do not think of as talkers, did talk. But that was not at this time.

Many cycles passed by as the Creator decided on what he wanted to do and how he should do it. What it would look like: Where it would live. And what the Creator would talk about with this new creation.

Finally, the day came when the Creator decided to create. He chose the earth as the place to create. At that time the Earth was a small, dead world with no Sun. No Moon.

He formed the Sun from the Star People around him and he set it into the void. He formed Grandmother Moon from a small part of the Earth and set her on her path. They had no life of their own at that time though, they simply reflected the life of the Creator.

The Creator then began to speak the words of life as he stepped from the stars onto the Earth, coming to stand in a summer tall field of wheat.

Next he made the directions and named them. The winds; and he gave individual names to each wind. But there was nothing yet to move the winds. No reason yet to the directions. No purpose yet to the greenery, for the wheat, for the rocks. For the Creator had not yet made purpose.

The Creator then bent and placed his hands upon the Earth and spoke her into life, calling her Mother. The Mother of all that could be.

As he stood from the ground he began to create purpose and assign it to his creations: The winds to move the air. Mother Earth’s breaths to move the winds. The directions so that the winds could find their way over the Earth Mother as they moved.

Mother Earth took her first breath and the tops of the Wheat began to sway as the winds picked up her life giving breath and began to carry it to all the corners of the Earth.

The Creator and Mother Earth spent the next several cycles talking. The Creator was pleased with his creation.

Now the Creator enjoyed Mother Earth’s company, but he also had many friends and favorite places among the Star People. Sometimes he would go for long walks among the Star People. Every time he left Mother Earth would become lonely and long for his companionship.

One day when the Creator returned from a walk among the Star People, Mother Earth spoke about her loneliness. The Creator understood her loneliness. It was the same loneliness that the creator himself had suffered through. So The Creator reached deep inside of himself. Taking a part of himself, the Creator mixed this with the words that lived within him, the words of Power and Life. He sowed this seed into the soil that covers Mother Earth.

“These seeds are the words of life become whole. They are of me,” the Creator told her. “Part of your Creator. They will speak themselves into being in the fullness of time and you will never be lonely again.”

The Creator lifted his hands and spoke Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon into life, causing the Creators own breath to fall upon them; and so they began to move on their own paths of purpose. “They will be for Times and for Seasons,” he said.

Now several cycles passed and the seed that the Creator had planted within the Earth Mother began to grow. The day came when Grandmother moon came down to hold Mother Earth’s hand and comfort her during her birthing of life.

Grandfather Sun spilled his light upon them and spoke quietly with the creator as the Earth Mother cried out in her birthing pains.

The peoples came first. Red, Yellow, Black, White, the Brown man, and all the shades in between. The birth waters gushed forth from her as Mother Earth’s womb opened and all the peoples were born.

The birth waters became oceans, lakes, rivers and streams.

The Clan Totems and Animal Totems came next. Their place was not on the Earth. Their place was among the Star People where they would live with the Creator. But they bought the Earth animals before them and instructed them on what they were to be for, before they themselves ascended into the Heavens.

Mother Earth’s sacred birth waters bought life to all that they touched. The fish swam in them. Brother Eagle came from the waters and ascended to the sky. Brother Wolf walked from the birth waters and made his home in the forests and the mountains with brother black Bear. Each animal found its place and knew its purpose.

Now the people had no spirits living among the stars. They had no ancestors to guide them. They did not come to fully know the Creator or the Mother Earth. They had no leaders. Knew nothing of totems. Spirits. Brotherhood. And they did not seek to learn because there was no one they would listen to that would tell them.

Now after a time the people began to divide themselves according to their colors. Leaders arose, but leaders who ignored the purpose within their souls, so they began to provoke wars among each other. With the other peoples. This was their nature.

Mother Earth became sadder and sadder as the peoples continued to war and fight. Many died, sending more and more of our kind into the spirit worlds, but they were proud. They didn’t understand life or purpose and they would not lift their arms or their voices to the Creator or the Earth Mother to ask for help. In fact as time passed they did not speak to Mother Earth or the Creator at all. They withdrew and became laws and Gods unto themselves.

One day a little boy was born to a great war chief. The chief held him in his arms at the naming and called him ‘He who speaks with those unseen.’ He did this because even with his first words he began to speak to the ancestors and those who had passed into the spirit worlds and now lived among the Star Peoples.

As the boy grew he spoke of the things that the ancestors told him with his people: He told them everything that the ancestors talked to him about.

He warned them about war. Spoke to them about peace and how all people, every one, were made for a purpose, to live a purpose. How part of that purpose was to live together. Even so the way of death and war continued.

But his own peoples believed and they began to worship the Creator. Speak to the Earth Mother. Sending praises up to the Creator and asking Mother Earth for guidance. In return The Creator and Mother Earth taught them about purpose, life, and to respect all living things on the Earth.

As the creator listened to his peoples, he realized that many of them wished to live in peace, even though some of them desired to make war and follow the way of death. With Mother Earth’s help he made places for all of them to have their own territories; and he separated them with oceans and deep lakes to keep them apart.

“We will have to hope that they have learned to live in peace by the time they learn to cross the great waters,” the Creator told the Earth Mother.

Time moved on. ‘He who speaks with those unseen’ grew up to become the leader of his people. They prayed to the Creator and kept his ways. They held Mother Earth in great regard, respected her ways, and the people grew and prospered. There were no wars, no famines, no sickness in his people.

‘He who speaks with those unseen’, finished his time and went to be with the spirit people among the stars. As the generations passed, however, the peoples again forgot the ways of the Mother Earth and the Creator. They learned to cross the great waters. They learned to hate again: To make war again. And Mother Earth called to the Creator to separate them once more, but he refused to do it.

“They will only come to kill each other once again. To Enslave. To make war. They must learn to make their own peace. Learn their lessons as a law. Come back to us as they should: As they once were. They will have to learn what peace means. Respect, until then we can do nothing with them.”

Mother Earth knew that the Creator was right. Even so with his words she wept. Her tears became the rain that we know. Lifted into the air and carried by the cloud people, to bring her gift of life from the heavens to all peoples through her tears.

It is said that they will continue to come as Mother Earth weeps for all the peoples. And they will be a sign for all peoples to remember that war and killing is not the way.

They will be a sign to us that Mother Earth will continue to bring life from death, the peoples cause. Sending her tears to us in hopes that they may heal us. And to show us that her love will always be with us.

I held the place in the book as I closed my eyes and sent a small prayer to the Creator for allowing me to read those words.

Across from me Bear slept. His paws twitching. The fire crackled companionably. I opened the book and began to read once more…

~
Enjoy your weekend! If you would like to read more of Dreamers, check out the links below…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/617155

NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreamers-dell-sweet/1123470056

I Tunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dreamers/id1087476401?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/dreamers-18


Fred The Cat

12-28-2016 Geo

THE STORY OF FRED THE CA T

I have mentioned Fred the cat many times as I write. Here is the story of Fred the Cat.

I rehabbed the entire house my mother, aunt and uncle live in about twelve years ago, but over the years things have slid. Three people in their seventies can not keep up the maintenance that needs to be performed on a house as it ages.

So, here I am trying to fix up the house again after years of being away. One of the thing s that had happened was that raccoons had found their way into an old chimney, broken through that into a utility area, found their way into a dropped ceiling in my Mothers living room, and dropped down into her lap (Practically) while she was watching T.V. With her Cats, and all Hell broke loose. Well, maybe not all of Hell actually broke loose but I would say a good deal of it did.

The Cats were upset, or as we say here in the north country, Pissed off. The raccoons believed, like Christopher Columbus maybe, that they had discovered this new place, therefor it was theirs. They did not try to make peace, however, with the natives like good old Chris did with my people (Before he stuck it to us, that is…. Just want to keep the record straight). No. The raccoons believed that both the Cats and my Mother should move.

Fortunately raccoons do not always have good access to legal representation, and these were no exception. So as a result my Brother-In-Law Harry came and sent them on their way and closed up the area they had been coming in through. No problem. My Mother lived happily ever after. The Cats basked in the Sunshine, and I came home to a secure well maintained home. No.

Cats are curious about everything. They are probably even curious about other animals or people, besides themselves, but they would probably never admit that though. So, instead of leaving well enough alone, the Cats decided to find out why the raccoons had gotten in, and how, and if a Cat could do it to, and then of course one cat probably dared the other, and so while one held the flashlight the other pried off the fix and got into the chimney. Oh what wonder! What absolute Joy! A way to get in and out of the house without having to use the door (Cats love things like this). And so the cats had their way in and out. Up the roof, into the old chimney, down the chimney, out the broken block that used to vent the furnace, drop right down on the furnace and then spring out of the utility room as soon as the door opened. My mother, who loves Cats, decided in her wisdom that since the cats had worked this out she should help them along by leaving the utility room door open. Oh those were happy cats (I assume).

Then I came along and the first thing I did was shut up the hole. That was how I met Fred. Fred was the only cat still able to find a way in and out, and Fred did not believe I had a say in it, and, well, as it turned out Fred was right. I blocked every hole I could find and Fred found some new way in. Finally, one late afternoon, I came into the Kitchen after working all day on closing the roof line up and any other spot I could find, and announced to Mom that the house was a cat free zone now. The utility door bumped open and Fred sauntered by me to the food bowl Mom had put down for him. She had more faith in the cat than me, well placed too.

That is how I met Fred. I just declared a truce.I thought, this rough and tumble cat beat me fair and square, he can stay.

Fred seemed like a Male cat. He acted like a male cat. He chased the female cats around, corralled them (Cats do that, perfectly fine behaviors for them. I would not recommend you try that at home) So, I assumed Fred was a male cat.

SURPRISE!!!

Fred is not a boy cat at all. Not only is Fred not a boy cat. Yes, this means I had to give him a quick exam, have you ever had a cat jump up on your lap and turn around and stick their butt in your face? Sure you have. Cat’s do that all the time. They think you Want to see their butt. Okay, it was at one of these times that I noticed Fred was not Anatomically equipped to be a boy cat. Right Fred was missing a few things and had a few things he shouldn’t have had.

“Hey, Ma!” I yelled. “Fred’s not a boy cat!”

“You’re a quick thinker,” Mom said. “I told you he might not be.”

“Might not be,” I said defensively.

“Well I guess I can change that to definitely isn’t,” Mom said and went back to watching General Hospital.

What could I say. Fred cocked her head back to me as if to ask if I got a good enough look. Cat’s are such smart asses, then jumped down and sauntered away.

End of story, except, Fred is looking distinctly fat… Fatter. Mom and I have come to a consensus, Fred the cat is probably pregnant. I said, “Well I thought Fred was just hanging out with those male cats ’cause they were his buddies!”

“Oh, they were her buddies alright,” Mom said wisely.

OTHER THINGS

We have a little kitten who likes to climb my leg while I’m typing. The she looks at me like, Oh … Were you typing? It’s me! The kitty! Let’s play! I’m cute! I’m also persistent. I’ll keep stepping on your keyboard and attacking you thumbs (Which hang off the edge of the key board as I type) Until you pay attention to me! Gotta go before she actually manages to chew a hole through my thumb… Dell…

Check out this book:

The End Of Summer

The summer of 1969 was winding down. The warm air held a smell 13 year old Bobby Weston couldn’t quite identify but nevertheless acquainted with going back to school. An end of summer smell, he decided. Or maybe an end of summer feeling. He couldn’t make up his mind, and it really didn’t matter, as soon enough summer would be gone and he’d be back in school. He had permission to go camping today. More

Available formats: epub mobi pdf rtf lrf pdb txt html


Earth’s survivors 4

Earth’s Survivors Book four

Book Previews Posted by Geo 12-27-16

I am going to upload a free preview of Earth’s Survivors Home In The Valley, book four. The book is written, remember this is a revamp of the old series and this is the last re-publish to make it whole.

Though this is a revamp there is a great deal more book than there ever was: The story line is broader, there are new situations and characters. All of which had been written and then dropped from the published books. It is available from Amazon Digital and Smashwords, B&N, KOBO, DIESEL and Google Play as the others are.

_____________________________________________

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:

This material is copyright 2015 by Dell Sweet, all rights reserved. You may not transfer, copy or publish this work in any format, digital or traditional print without the author’s express written permission. You may quote brief sections in critiques.

_____________________________________________

ONE

September 16th Year one

They left in three Jeeps just as dawn began to spill its light over the mountains in the south.

Katie had promised herself that there would be no tears, but it was a promise she couldn’t keep. Tears were practically the first thing to come. Leaping from her eyes of their own accord.

Amy had been unable to hold her tears back either. But both of them had been able to step back and let them go.

“Hormones,” Janna told them. And for some reason that made both of them giggle and neither one of them had been able to stop.

Sandy came up to the top of the ledge path, looked down at the two women giggling uncontrollably with tears running down their faces, turned to Janna and they both said “Hormones” which caused both of them to laugh.

They both walked over to Katie and Amy, took them under the arms, helped them to their feet and started down the ledge.

“Coffee,” Janna said. “It’ll do both of you good.”

Amy had slowed to a sniffle.

“Hormones,” Katie said, and they both began giggling again.

~

They made good time with the lightweight Jeeps, and found themselves at the head of the first valley by late morning. They took a few minutes and used the radios.

“Is something wrong,” Katie asked.

“No, Babe. We’re already at the first valley so we thought we had better call now… We may be out of range later on in the day, or tonight when we stop.”

Arron was carrying on a similar conversation with Amy on a different channel Dustin and Annie sharing a phone talking to Lilly as well and then Amy too.

Conner told Katie he loved her and then handed the phone to Molly. Arron handed his to Nellie.

A half hour later they were following the straighter lines of the tall pines through the forest.

“This is not a slow trip when you’re not driving a huge truck loaded down with cows and pigs and all that other stuff,” Arron said.

“I was thinking that too,” Conner agreed. “It seems as though we are so removed from everything. So isolated. But it looks like we’ll drive out in a little more than a day.”

“We’re only what, a hundred miles in? Little more, little less?”

“Little less, I think,” Conner agreed.

“Why does it seem to be going by so fast,” Arron wondered.

“Because, if you think about it. On the way in we drove slow. And we moved everything out of the way. Dead limbs, branches, trees, there isn’t anything left to slow us down.” Conner said.

Arron nodded. “Plus. No cows, horses, pig-chickens. Either.”

“Plus we know where we’re going too. We didn’t before. What’s a pig-chicken anyway?”

Arron laughed. “I meant pigs and chickens.” They both laughed.

September 16th

The Old State Campgrounds

Adam and Beth

The State Park sign was overgrown, sun faded and leaning at the side of the road.

The four trucks sat idling just inside the treeline of the old narrow road that lead down into the campground. The driver’s door of the second truck in line popped open, and Beth, wearing military style fatigues and carrying a wire stock machine pistol, walked up to the driver’s side of the lead truck and tapped on the glass.

Billy looked up from the map he was reading. “Beth, Just checking out this map. I think this is right.” His finger jabbed at a spot on the map that had been circled with red ink. “This used to be a state park. It’s early. I thought we should stop, plan where we go next.”

“Good a place as any, I guess,” Beth said. She looked up, staring down along the gloomy road and into the abandoned campground.

“What?” Billy asked.

Beth shook her head. “Nerves are on edge, Billy. I just thought I heard something.”

She smiled and turned back to Billy where he sat, map spread across his lap, the truck idling in park.

“But it doesn’t feel right. That’s why I stopped here, didn’t drive down in. Feels funny,” Billy told her.

“The location?”

Another truck door opened on the third truck back and Adam strode toward the front. He left the door hanging ajar. Halfway between the lead vehicle and his own he lifted his arms up into the air and shrugged his shoulders. “What’s the deal?” He asked in a deep bass voice.

The window on the last truck rolled down, the electric motor whining as it dropped. Mac stuck his head out of the window. “What the fuck, Adam?” he asked.

Adam stopped and turned. He shrugged his massive shoulders once more. “Something with Billy and Beth.” He turned and began walking back to the lead truck once more.

Beth lifted her eyes from the map just as the first shot came from the trees behind the back of the last truck.

“Jesus! Jesus, Billy…In the woods!” She shrugged her machine pistol off her shoulder and caught it with both hands. She was already moving toward the back vehicles. In front of her, Adam was turning away from her, back toward the rear, his massive frame blocking her view. Somewhere towards the back truck someone began to scream. Iris, she thought, it was Iris who was screaming.

She found herself running at that point. Her legs pumping effortlessly, the adrenaline surging through her veins. Iris was in the truck with Mac.

She had no sooner had the thought then she heard another voice began to scream. She couldn’t place it, but as she rounded Adam, catching up and passing him, she saw that two men had Mac on the ground, biting and snarling as he tried to fight them off.

“Beth!” Billy screamed from behind her. “Right. Your right!”

She had been just about to fire at the two men attacking Mac, and so even as she turned, she did not turn her pistol completely, but kept it aimed to the front towards Mac and the two men. By the time she registered how close the three men were to her, there was no time to turn the pistol and fire. They were nearly on her. She had no more registered their faces, jaws wide, eye’s milky and leaking puss, teeth gnashing – she had not even had the time to worry about her own fate yet – when the lead man’s head blew apart in a spray of black blood and bone.

She blinked involuntarily and managed to bring her pistol around as the two remaining men tried to reverse direction in mid stride. Their eyes were wild, trapped looking. She brought up the pistol and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened, and her heart staggered in her chest. The safety… the fucking safety, her mind screamed, and that was when a woman hit her from the side and she went sprawling onto the dirt road. There were two more on her before she could get turned over. She felt the first bite to her arm and ignored it, as she concentrated on getting the safety off the pistol she had somehow managed to hold onto as she fell.

The passenger door on the second truck flew open, and Dell jumped from the truck, machine pistol spiting fire as he ran. The gunfire all along the road was crazy. It had instantly become a war zone. Dell made it halfway around the hood of the truck when he stepped into a crossfire and his head exploded, spraying across the hood of the truck.

Adam sprayed the woods with his machine pistol. The infected had all come from the same direction, and once he had focused on them, it had been easy to mow them down. They began to slow, some turning to run back into the woods, some standing as if they didn’t know what to do. Adam launched himself away from the truck fender he had been leaning against and began to run at them, firing as he went, a scream building from his throat.

Billy had staggered to a stop just past the end of his rear bumper. He had watched Dell come into his line of fire, and he had instantly let loose of his trigger, but it had been too late. He was in shock and time seemed to slow to a crawl. His eyes swiveled back around, and he saw that Beth was pinned to the ground by two women. Blood ran from one arm as she struggled to hold them off. Both women were infected. Mucus scaled their cheeks, mouths yawning, teeth gnashing, necks swollen. He yelled and charged them, raising the stock of his rifle, smashing in the back of the head of the first one, kicking the other aside with a hard shot to the ribs and spraying her with a short burst that took her head from her shoulders after she had rolled a short distance across the ground.

~

One of the infected had stopped at the last truck and dragged the young man inside out through the open window. Two more joined him and pulled him the rest of the way out of the truck.

The first man then lunged through the open window and fastened his teeth on Iris’s throat as she tried to fight him off, and the inside of the truck became a slaughter house. He was so engrossed in feeding, that he did not see the machine pistols barrel as it thrust through the open window a few minutes later. He only barely felt it as it bit into the back of his head. Adam pulled the trigger, and his head blew apart. Iris stopped screaming.

The remaining infected stopped in mid stride, tried to turn back to the woods, but the machine pistols mowed them down where they stood or as they turned to run. Adam, Billy and Beth were on their feet moving in a loose line toward the wooded area once again.

Behind them, Cammy, Jamie and Winston, who had stayed in the trucks with the children, came out now and joined them. The gunfire held strong for a few moments, and then everything stopped at once. The last of the infected fell or managed to get far enough into the woods as to no longer be seen.

Silence crashed down all along the road. It held for what seemed like minutes. The swirling haze of smoke from the gunfire hung heavy in the late afternoon air. The headlights of the trucks cut through it, making it dance through the blue-white beams of light. The overcast sky and the sudden silence made it seem as though night had arrived all at once. There was very little to hear in the silence: the still running trucks, a scratching, scrabbling sound as one of the infected tried to crawl off the road and into the woods. Beth turned shakily from the woods, her face hard, set. She pulled her knife from her side sheath, took a few steps and straddled the man. She reached down, grabbed his hair, pulled his head back as he snapped and snarled, trying to reach her with his teeth. The knife flashed as she embedded it into the side of his head. She thrust one booted foot against his head and pulled her knife free, letting his head fall into the dirt. She pulled a rag from her pocket and cinched it tightly around her arm, cutting off the blood flow.

The silence held for a second longer, and then Beth began to sob as she sank down to the ground.

The Nation

The barn was shadowed and cool after the hot sun in the valley. The entire Nation was digging potatoes. Lilly, Amy and Katie were grounded from the heavy work, but they had walked down from the main cave and watched them at work on their way to the barn to collect eggs for Janna.

Katie had truly believed that after Conner and Arron left, Sandy would allow them to go back to some sort of light work. It would have proven she had only grounded them to make sure they did not go on the expedition to the outside. Maybe she had been wrong though, she thought now. Sandy had not changed her mind.

“What I want to know,” Lilly said, “is what is the difference between picking eggs up or digging potatoes?”

“The potatoes don’t have crap all over them,” Amy said.

Lilly laughed.

“Not really though, right?” Katie asked.

“What do I win?” Amy asked.

Katie slugged her in the arm. “It wasn’t a contest. Besides, you forgot to answer in the form of a question.”

“What is, the potatoes don’t have crap all over them, Alex?” Lilly asked.

“Lilly wins,” Katie said.

“Wow,” Amy said. “You guys cheat so bad.”

“So, for real, do the chickens lay the eggs and then leave them? We come along and just pick them up? And they’re not really covered with crap, right?” Katie asked.

“You know, later you’re coming down with me to get fresh rabbits for dinner,” Amy reminded her. “I expect you to know all about the modern farm by dinner this evening.” She smiled at Katie’s sarcastic grin. “Okay, the chicken lays the egg and then sits on it. You have to move the chicken to get the egg.”

“Oh… Great,” Katie said.

“It’s not so bad,” Lilly said. “Jake brought me down a few times. Just act like you have a right to be there. Reach right in, move the chicken over and take the eggs.”

“Crap on toast. I suck at this sort of stuff,” Katie complained.

Lilly laughed. “Where does Crap On Toast come from? You and Arlene have the funniest sayings I have ever heard.”

“Okay,” Amy said. They faced the line of baskets and the wire mesh door to the chicken roost. Across the barn, the rabbits had a whole section to themselves. “Grab a basket and a pair of gloves.”

Katie picked up one of the pairs of gloves. They were heavy leather, stiff. She put them back and picked up a basket. “Oh,” she set the basket back and picked up another. “Wow. These baskets are not too clean, Aim,” She showed Amy one of the baskets.

Amy took a basket, looked at it and then handed it to Katie. “It’s a basket for collecting eggs, Kate.” She turned it over and a few feathers drifted out of it.

Katie looked into the basket. “It’s got crap in it.” She looked closer. “It looks like chicken crap to me.”

“It is,” Amy said.

“Well, I was thinking, clean eggs in a basket that has chicken crap in it?”

Lilly began to laugh. Amy choked back her own laughter.

“What?” Katie asked.

“Oh, God. Don’t you make me pee myself, Kate,” Lilly said.

“But what!?”

“Okay,” Amy said. She bit back her own laughter. “I guess it’s not funny. You don’t know anything about eggs. Are you sure you want to come down here later to get the rabbits for dinner?”

Katie sighed. “No, but I have to learn sometime. So where have I got it wrong with the eggs?”

“Honey, it’s easier to show you. Here,” she handed her the basket and then a pair of the stiff leather gloves.

“I’ll skip the gloves,” Katie said. “I can’t even flex my fingers in them. I’ll never be able to grab an egg.” She tossed the heavy gloves onto the nearby bench top

Amy shook her head, grabbed a pair of gloves and a basket and then opened the door and stepped into the chicken coop. Lilly stepped in behind her and closed the door.

“Christ, chickens stink,” Katie complained.

“They do. Used to be dinosaurs,” Lilly said.

“Jesus, a two story tall chicken, but chickens don’t seem mean enough to be a dinosaur.”

“Oh, they’re mean bastards,” Amy said. “Don’t kid yourself. So,” she slipped on a glove, reached in and under the chicken, and came out with an egg. “Just like that.” She dropped the egg in her basket.

“Okay,” Katie stepped to the next chicken, plunged her hand under the chicken and then pulled it back with the egg. “There’s another egg under there,” she said as she dropped the egg into her basket. She looked at her hand. “Eww,” she looked at the egg in the basket. “There’s chicken shit all over the egg and my hand,” she held her hand up, but Amy and Lilly were both hanging onto each other laughing so hard they couldn’t catch their breath.

“Oh my God,” Lilly complained.

Amy tried to stop laughing, but Katie was still standing, her hand splayed, looking at the streaks of chicken shit that now adorned it. “I tried to tell you… I tried…” She gave up and pushed Katie back out through the door, closed it, laughing harder as she walked away to the trough that entered the barn. She picked up a steel cup and filled it with water after tipping the trough to get the water to flow clear. She picked up a sliver of lye soap and walked back to Katie.

“Hold your hands out.” She waited until she did and then poured the water over them as Katie worked them together. She handed her a piece of lye soap. The soap was iffy, more likely to burn than anything else. Katie grimaced as she worked some soap into both hands. Amy poured the rest of the water over her hands. “Don’t touch your eyes for a while,” Lilly reminded her. She had managed to stop laughing, as had Amy.

“Okay,” Amy said. “For real. You have to wear the gloves. Eggs have shit on them. They come that way, and sometimes the chickens will peck you as you’re taking the egg. They don’t always take that well. Other than that, you did good.”

“I didn’t know chicken eggs had shit on them,” Katie said.

“You grew up somewhere where you never had to deal with real eggs I guess,” Lilly said. “I grew up in Watertown and I still gathered eggs a few times.”

Katie frowned. “Never picked – gathered – eggs before. Okay… I imagine this is stupid. Why do the eggs have crap on them? Because the chicken is sitting on them? Do they always have crap on them? I may never look at eggs the same again.”

Lilly chuckled along with Amy. “Okay,” Lilly said. “Chickens don’t have, um, a separate vagina. Chickens have one canal, so to speak. It all comes out one hole.”

“Jesus. That’s messed up.”

“Probably be bad if you weren’t a chicken. But the chickens don’t seem to mind,” Lilly said.

Katie tugged the glove up her arm. “She has me murdering rabbits later.”

Lilly looked at Amy. “She wants to learn how to do it,” Amy told her.

“Conner thinks that I need to learn,” Katie frowned and stuck out her lower lip.

“Oh stop. She wants to impress him, so she’s learning. We’ll be coming right back here tomorrow to prepare chickens… fresh chickens.”

Katie frowned. “Murdering rabbits tonight, chickens tomorrow.” She went to the next chicken, reached in and under the chicken and pulled her hand out with the egg in the glove. She slipped the egg into her basket and then went back to the first chicken. “There was another egg under this one,” Katie said as she slipped her hand beneath the chicken. She started to pull her hand back when the chicken suddenly erupted into the air. Katie screamed and jumped back, crushing the egg in her gloved hand.

Lilly was on the hay covered floor, holding Amy and rolling back and forth, laughing uncontrollably.

Katie looked at the yolk and chicken shit dripping off her glove. “Can’t wait for the rabbits,” she said. Amy and Lilly went off into fresh gales of laughter.

………………………………………………

Get the book:

Amazon | Smashwords | KOBO | NOOK | I Tunes


4 Wheel Low and a free preview of Zero Zero from Dell Sweet

12-26-16 by Geo

Trucks Stuck in 4 wheel low:

For you that don’t know, I live in the north, close to Canada, and this year we have seemed to get a lot more snow and cold than usual. Last week I went out to get the truck ready for a run into town. Normally not a big deal, but I had not started it in awhile, a big mistake, yes, and I had not driven it in the snow. My ten minuet (My estimate) warm up the truck and get-it-ready-to-go trip turned into a few hours of jumping it, letting it warm up (It was like 2000 degrees below zero) and then getting in the thing to go. Since I don’t drive at all, except around the yard, you know, getting things ready to go, that meant my long suffering Mother had to drive the truck into town. And, she hates the truck.

I don’t mean to imply she doesn’t like the truck, I mean to imply she hates the truck. HATES the truck. So getting her in it to drive it is a big deal. But, I did all I could. Jumped it, warmed it up, opened the door so she wouldn’t have to, after I pulled it right up to the door. The only thing I could’ve done better is park it on the porch.

Mom is slightly over four feet tall, and the truck is four wheel drive, not huge, but is is a step up into the cab. Her last truck was a two wheel drive and didn’t sit much further of the ground than a car. That, that sitting-off-the-ground-further thing , is strike one against the truck as far as Mom is concerned. She wanted to take the tires off her old truck and put them on the new one so it would sit lower. When I explained she couldn’t do that she began to hate the new truck even more. Strike two. The truck was almost out before she ever drove it. And since I steered her towards the new truck I will probably never hear the end of it.

But, I pulled the truck up, all warmed up, opened the door for her and offered to help her in. Bad move. Mom does not acknowledge age or shortness. Nevertheless age and shortness do acknowledge her. She doesn’t give in, just ignores it. So she climbed up into the cab, on her own, and off we went… Off we went not too far.

I forgot to mention that while I was moving the truck to bring it up to the door I decided, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to test out the Four Wheel Drive?” … and … “Maybe we will need the Four Wheel Drive on the way into town so I should make sure it works!” I’m pretty sure I used an exclamation mark just like that too. I was that enthusiastic about it. So, I turned the little knob on the dash from Two Wheel to Four Wheel Low. Nothing seemed to change. A little light did come on on the dash informing me that Yes, I was now in Four Wheel Low. So I dropped the truck in first and plowed through the two inches of loose powder on the driveway and fought my way out into the wilds of the out back (End of the driveway). I will say this, I never spun a wheel. That Four Wheel Low is phenomenal. So, after my off-road adventure, I turned the little knob back to Two Wheel drive.

So, off we went… In Four Wheel Low. Which meant that the transmission was whining. The Motor racing, and we were doing all of twenty miles an hour. Creeping down the road. So, idiot that I am, I said to Mom, “What are you doing?”

“I’m not doing anything,” Mom says. “It’s your stupid truck!” To illustrate this more clearly, in case I had missed something, she goosed the gas to try to make it go faster.

The other thing I forgot to mention is that I like to take a cup of coffee with me. I have a travel cup of course but I don’t like it. If you close the top on the travel cup the coffee is too hot when it hits your lip. At least it is for me. So, I don’t use it. No. I like a regular ceramic coffee cup filled right to the brim with hot, black coffee. This time was no exception, but, thank God, since it was about 2000 degrees below zero outside it had cooled off pretty quick.

Mom goosed the gas, the truck jumped forward, I ended up wearing the coffee. All over me and the floorboards, a little on the dashboard too if I’m honest. That is when I realized, One: It’s not good to be a Wise Guy with your Mom. Two: Hot coffee will go right through waterproof jackets. I guess waterproof does not mean hot coffee proof. And Jeans? Ouch.

“Mom,” I said. “Better take it home. Something’s wrong with it.”

“Well,” Mom says. “The gas station is just down here. I’ll stop there. Maybe we can fix it.”

Let me explain a little more. Mom grew up on a farm. The phrase ‘Right down there’ could mean ten miles down the road, or, the next county over. I was calculating walk back distance to get the car should I have to. But, the other thing about Mom is that she raised us alone. She’s pretty used to making command decisions, and she doesn’t require a whole lot of input from her idiot son who picked the truck that she hates and is now screwing up her day. I think that’s a fair description, or assessment of the situation.

“Mom,” I said, while I tried to figure out where to put the now empty coffee cup, “I think we should go back.” Down the road she went.

When she reached the gas station she pulled in and right up to the pumps. “May as well get gas while we’re here,” she proclaimed. She shut of the truck, jumped down to the ground (Nearly) and called back, “Twenty” as she went inside.

I got my coffee soaked self out of the cab, pumped in the gas, I’m pretty sure that Twenty Bucks, which got me around Five Gallons, is what my first Muscle car (A 72 Plymouth Duster) I owned growing up used to burn to start it. She came out, apparently having considered my request to turn around, and said, “I guess we should probably take the truck home… Something seems to be wrong with it.”

Rather than say anything else dumb, I just nodded and got back in the truck. She climbed in, turned the switch and all it did was click twice and then nothing. The guy behind me tapped the horn on his truck. ‘#@$%^#,’ I thought. I climbed out of the truck and walked back to the guy.

“Truck’s dead,” I said. “Sorry.”

“@#$#@$,” The guy said.

“Uh huh,” I agreed. “But at least you’re not the one who has to walk three miles to get the car.”

“@@##$%,” the guy said

“You have a nice day too,” I told him.

So, after the three mile walk back to the house to get the car, I arrived back at the gas station with my Aunt as a driver now, jumped the truck and got it back home.

“I hate this truck,” Mom said as she climbed out of the truck once it was home.

“I missed General Hospital,” My aunt told me.

‘@#$!.’ I thought.

I write this today because I went to my Tuesday night Group meeting last week, after that happened, and asked a few of the guys there who are mechanically inclined what I did wrong. And, lo and behold, it’s Tuesday again. So, it was on my mind.

Group…

“Oh, it’s the @#$#@@ sensor,” one guy said. “Those #@$%$%$# sensors always do that.”

“Thank you,” I said. I told myself to call a mechanic I knew and have him fix the sensor.

“No, no, no,” another guy said. “Those $#@#$@! sensors are pain in the ##@@#, but it was probably a fuse. Those #@@#$$@# fuses are almost as bad as those %$#@#$ sensors.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “The #@$$@ Fuses or the @##$$@# Sensors. Okay.” I made another mental note. ‘Note To Self: Check #$$#@ Fuses too.’

“Maybe,” another guy said, “But the last time that happened to me it turned out to be the #$$#@ motor on the (I have no idea what he called it).”

“Oh yeah,” The first guy said. “I forgot all about the #$@#@#$ motor on the (Apparently he knew what the thing was called and how to pronounce it).”

“Oh yeah… Forgot all about that,” The second guy said.

“What,” I asked, “No @#%$@#@?”

“Oh, sorry,” He said apparently taking me seriously. “The @#$%$@ motor on the (He knew the word too).”

About this time I realized a few things. First: I could ask all I wanted, it wasn’t going to fix the truck. Everybody had a different idea of what it was. Two: At least I could check those things they suggested or mention them to the mechanic. Three: Guys like to swear.. a lot.

I went home and worried about the truck most of the week. Once it rose to a balmy 12 below zero I went out and spent about four hours messing with the truck. The indicator on the dash said ‘Four Wheel Low’ in tiny red letters. ‘No #@#@#,” I thought. I found the sensor, seemed to be working. I found the fuse, not blown. Hmm, I thought, It just might be the Motor on the (Whatever the word was they used). Then I looked at the switch on the dashboard. Just in passing mind you. I was on the way out of the truck. I had conceded defeat. I flicked it back and forth and noticed it didn’t rest completely at Two Wheel Drive when I flicked it back. Meanwhile I’m running the truck, letting the battery charge, cleaning the coffee off the dashboard too, so I decided what the heck, I’ll look at the owners manual. (That probably gave you pause to laugh. I will only say I am not alone. Most men refuse directions or manuals. We’re too smart for that sort of help). I opened the index, found my problem, turned to the page, and read this,

“YOU MUST DEPRESS THE CLUTCH BEFORE SWITCHING OUT OF OR INTO FOUR WHEEL DRIVE.”

Hmm I thought. I did that… Didn’t I? Maybe… Yes… No… I was conflicted, and, since the truck was running I pushed in the clutch, flipped the switch back and forth from Four Wheel Low to Two Wheel drive and … The light blinked out and Two wheel lit up.

“!@@#$%@,” I said aloud. “Sorry, God.” I added. “!#@$!,” I said again. I waited a few minuets to see if the truck would blow up or quit or something. It didn’t. I shifted into first and ran it up the driveway. No whining transmission. No Revving motor, it really was out of Four Wheel Low. I put everything together and went back into the house.

“Well,” Mom asked?

“All fixed,” I said cheerfully.

“Really?” She arched her eyebrows. “I hate that truck.”

“I know, Mom. I know,” I said.

“So what was it,” She asked?”

“Oh… Uh, well it was the @#$#@ Flux Capacitor,” I told her as I hunted around in the fridge for a bottle of juice.

“Really,” She asked? “I saw ‘Back to the Future’. I like Michael J. Fox. He probably never made his mother drive a truck she hates. What was it really?”

“Um… I had to press the clutch down to disengage it,” I admitted.

“I knew it!” Mom said.

“Hmm,” I said.

So, tonight is group again. And the guys are gonna ask about the truck. I guess I’ll just admit I didn’t do it right. Or I could blame it on the @@##$$# Motor on the thing I can’t pronounce. I’ll play it by ear I guess. Hey! Have a good week…

Check out this book from Dell Sweet


Zero Zero

by independAntwriters Publishing

As the clock ticks down for our planet and her inhabitants, powers that have lain dormant for centuries are loosed on the Earth. Zero Zero takes a look at a post apocalypse world in ruins. The governments are gone. The police, the military. The United States is no more. And even the simplest things are hard to come by. Some have hidden to ride out the storm unleashed upon the Earth, others have taken a stance in the fight. Those that survive the apocalypse are splintered and isolated. Mistrustful of one another, but beginning to come together in small groups. They have been told of a place a safety, but getting there, if it exists, is not a guarantee. The powers that have been unleashed may not be done with them, and they have to be wary of everything and everyone in a world where firepower and fearlessness rule the day… One last time Earth comes to the brink of destruction. Controlled by powers both on and beyond the earth her fate is left to a small group of survivors to secure. Zero Zero begins with a secreted base that holds the keys of destruction: A madman who holds those keys in his hand, and a small group of men and women who will challenge him as the clock ticks down to Zero Zero…


ZERO ZERO

Copyright 2014 Dell Sweet

Copyright 1976, 1983, 1987, 2009, 2014 independAntwriters Publishing & Dell Sweet. Copyright renewed 2015, Dell Sweet. All rights reserved

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

Much Thanks to: M. Laughlin, C. Maxon, G. Dell, C.J.


This Material Is Copyright Protected

This material is NOT edited for content


Frank had been able to pick up speed once they had left Mexico. The pavement was fairly even, and after the first three or four miles they had left the vines behind completely. Still, he would go no faster than thirty miles per hour. There were several blind hills, and curves, and although there were not a lot of abandoned cars and trucks, they seemed to be in the least likely places.

The traffic, as they had rightly assumed, began to pack up just before Oswego where 104 B came back into 104. By the time they reached it they were back down to a crawl, weaving in and out of backed up traffic in both directions. The four wheel drive had come in handy, as several times they had to go over the curbing and into a field, or someone’s yard to get around it. By the time they reached Oswego, they were ready to stop and rest. John pointed out a large shopping center on their left, and Frank pulled into the mostly empty parking lot and rolled up to the front doors of a large department store. “Thrifty Deal?” he asked John.

“Chain store,” John replied. “You can find a little of everything.”

The other two Jeeps pulled in behind them as they were getting out. Frank walked up to the front doors and tried to open them. “Locked,” he said.

“That’s okay,” Gary smiled, reaching back into the Jeep. “I’ve got the key.” He handed the jack handle in his hand to Frank as he walked up to the glass doors.

“Well,” Frank said, “I guess here goes.” He swung the jack handle at the door and the glass shattered into millions of green-tinted crystals that skittered across the pavement.

“It’s my first real crime,” Frank said, turning around with a large grin on his face.

Just then a loud alarm began to whoop from within the store, and a split second later an even louder alarm, mounted in a steel box above the doors, began to bray into the quiet afternoon air. Frank, along with almost everyone else, had turned and began to run back towards the Jeep when it went off. The jack handle clattered to the pavement.

“Holy shit,” he sputtered.

Annie was doubled over laughing, leaning up against the Jeep for support. Frank looked at her stupidly for a few seconds and then smiled. Most of the others began to laugh as well, breaking the tension the alarm had caused.

“Y-Y-You,” she tried to say, but couldn’t stop laughing. “I thought you were going to have a heart attack, Frank,” she said, once she had gained some control. She held her stomach and began to laugh again. Frank began to laugh himself, along with everyone else.

“Well…it scared me at first,” he protested. He hadn’t been the only one, he knew. Gary’s eyes had looked as though they were going to pop right out of his head, he recalled. He seemed to be all right now though.

Gary walked forward and picked up the tire iron from the pavement. Standing on tip toe pried the metal box open. He hit the large siren inside with the jack handle, until it finally screeched and then quit. The other alarm inside was still going off. He disappeared into the store, and a few seconds later that one stopped too. Gary came back outside and peered sheepishly at the small crowd, most of whom had finally stopped laughing.

“If we’re gonna do this on a regular basis,” he said, “we better pick up some real burglar tools while we’re here.” Everyone laughed again. But the laughter died down quickly, and once it had they all crunched across the glass and into the store.

The power was off, it turned out. The alarm had been backed up by battery, and had apparently switched over automatically when the power went off. The mood changed once they had gotten into the store. Just the fact that no one did come when the alarm had  gone off would have been enough, but the empty store had also contributed its share to their somber mood. It served as a reminder that they still had met no other people at all. They had traveled over seventy miles and seen no one, and it reinforced what had happened in all their minds. No cashiers at the empty checkouts, no police cars screaming into the parking lot to see who was breaking in, there was nobody, anywhere, it seemed.

Although the power was off, the water was not, and they availed themselves of the employee showers after they had quickly moved through the store and picked out what they needed. They had gone together through the deserted aisles of the store, unwilling, or unable, to split up.

Frank, his hair still wet from the cold shower; dressed in a faded pair of jeans and a blue chambray work shirt, leaned up against the wall outside the rest room with the other men, and waited for the women to come back out. They talked quietly among themselves as they waited.

“You think Rochester will be the same as here?” Dave asked. He had seemed especially shaken by the alarm in the parking lot, and still seemed shook up over it.

Mike stood silently next to Gary, tapping the heel of one work boot against the cinder block wall. “It does sort of seem like everyone is gone,” he said, as he stopped tapping the boot heel and straightened up.

“Could be,” Gary said, solemnly. “It really could be, but I don’t think so. I think there are probably people right here in Oswego. They’re scared, is all. I can’t say as I blame them either, they don’t know any more about what’s going on than we do. Even if they saw us come in, I don’t think they’re about to come running up to say howdy. I wouldn’t,” he paused, before continuing. “If I saw a bunch of people come driving in, I’d probably want to stay away. No police means there is no protection, and they don’t know who we are, or even where we came from, or what we want for that matter. I think though, that there are people. Maybe it’s just going to take some time before we all get back together. I just can’t believe we’re it, I guess.”

“I have to agree with you, Gary, “John said. “If we were to stay here awhile, I would bet we would probably see someone. The curiosity would bring them out, I think.”

“I agree,” Frank said. “I was none too keen on approaching you guy’s back in Watertown either. I thought about avoiding you, as a matter of fact, just going in the other direction.”

“Glad you didn’t, Frank,” Gary said. The other men nodded agreement as he spoke. “I can see though where a body wouldn’t want to. Especially since there was more than a few of us carrying guns, or rifles, at that point. I am glad you did though. I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to end up with that Ron Saser trying to take charge. He was already pushing it pretty hard. Probably would of shot him myself if he had tried. Who the hell knows what a guy like him would do.”

“You don’t think they’ll follow us do you?” Mike asked.

“No telling,” Gary said, “but I wouldn’t doubt it. Guy’s like him are all over though, and I suppose we’ll run into a few just like him eventually. Not much we can do except to be careful, I guess.”

“Think we’ll make Rochester today?” Dave, asked, as Gina and Connie came walking out of the rest room.

“It’s not far, only about another sixty, maybe seventy miles,” John answered, “but I doubt it. We will probably get there tomorrow sometime, depending on the stalled traffic of course.”

“That’s about what I figure,” Gary chipped in, “probably late tomorrow at that.”

Annie and Lisa opened the door and walked out, and the small group prepared to leave.

Everyone, at Gary’s suggestion, had changed into sneakers or boots in case they ended up walking. They had taken the time to pick up extra clothes, as well as some more canned goods to replace what they had eaten, and Frank had found some Quick Cold in one of the side aisles.

Quick Cold had only become popular in the last couple of years as a retail item. Before that it had only been used by the medical profession, to transport anything that needed to stay cold, or frozen. Organs for transplant, fresh blood, and countless other things. The plastic bags contained a small stick shaped tube. Frank had filled three large coolers with soda and beer, and tossed in several of the bags after snapping the small cylinder within, to activate the chemical the bags contained. They had instantly frosted up and began to cool the warm cans.

After they had loaded the Jeeps, they had left the abandoned shopping center and began to work their way through the seemingly empty city. When they reached the first bridge they were forced to stop.

The bridge was still standing, that was not the problem. The problem was that it was packed bumper to bumper with wrecked and burned out cars and trucks. A large city bus also sat within the wreckage. Dave and Frank scrambled over the cars to see what had caused the huge accident.

At first it seemed that the wreckage went on forever. But as they neared the second bridge the problem became apparent.

The bridge, or more properly put, the twisted steel girders and huge chunks of concrete that had been the bridge, lay at the bottom of a deep gorge, partially submerged in the water. Reluctantly they scrambled back over the cars to tell the others that were waiting.

“Think we could move them?” John asked, as Frank and Dave returned. “I saw a wrecker back up the highway a bit; we could go back and get it.”

“Wouldn’t do any good,” Frank said his voice somber. “The second bridge is nearly gone. Even if it weren’t, I don’t see this one standing much longer either. We took a look at the underside from the other bridge, and a couple of the pilings are cracked pretty badly. I wouldn’t trust it. There is another bridge though, looks like only a couple of blocks over. It’s still up, but I can’t tell from here whether or not it has traffic on it, the sides are enclosed.”

“Which way, Frank?” Gary asked.

“Looked like down a little ways,” Frank said, pointing back the way they had come. “Take the next right, and it should be only a couple of blocks away.”

“Well,” Annie said, trying to sound positive, “let’s go find out.”

They piled back into the Jeeps, and after some careful maneuvering, managed to turn them around and head back the way they had come. Frank made the next right and started down the street, while Gary and John, as well as Annie, watched for a bridge on the side Streets that bisected the one they were on. Frank had just slowed to cross a set of rail road tracks, when Annie suddenly yelled out.

“There!” she shouted, pointing down the tracks.

Frank looked in the direction she had pointed, which happened to be down the tracks.

“Shit, that figures,” he said, “a rail road trestle”.

The trestle was a newer one, and the sides were enclosed steel with concrete reinforcements. Probably why I didn’t realize it was a train trestle, he thought, and then said aloud. “Well that blows that, but there ought to be other bridges. This can’t be the only one.”

“Actually,” Gary said, from behind him, “it ain’t necessarily bad news.”

“What do you mean?” Frank said, staring back down the tracks at the bridge.

“Well, just what I said. It’s still a bridge ain’t it? It’s not a rickety old wooden one either, solid steel and concrete, it’ll hold us, and it does cross the river right?”

Frank looked at the bridge doubtfully. “I suppose so, but… You think we could fit across it?”

“I’ve seen cars and trucks both on trains,” Annie exclaimed, “they would have to fit, or else how could they carry them on the trains without smashing the hell out of them?”

“Good point,” Gary said, “how about you park this buggy, Frank, and we go take a look at the bridge.”

The other two Jeeps parked, and all of them walked off down the tracks to look the bridge over.

The wooden ties, and the tracks that lay upon them, were well supported. Heavy steel girders ran the length of the bridge, and were supported by massive concrete pilings sunk into the river bed far below. Frank peered down through the ties at the concrete. It was cracked in a few places, but all of the pilings seemed still to be firmly anchored in the river bed. “Do you really think it would hold us?” he asked.

“If it will hold a train, Frank, it will hold us,” Gary replied.

“I mean the cracks, wise ass,” Frank said. “The pilings are cracked. They seem to still be solid, but… I don’t know,” he finished lamely.

“Tell you what. You drive one, and John and I will drive the other two. Everybody else can walk across. I’ll go first even. If it looks the least bit shaky we call it off, and search for something else, Okay?” Gary argued.

Frank thought for a moment before he replied. It might be a good idea after all. Where else were they likely to find a bridge that wasn’t blocked off with traffic? The bridge did seem solid, and it couldn’t hurt to try he supposed.

“Okay, but I’ll start out. You watch, and you damn well better let me know real quick if she starts to go. I’ll be pretty pissed if you dump me and my new truck in the river,” Frank finished, smiling widely.

“Wouldn’t think of it,” Gary said, solemnly.

“See you on the other side,” Annie said.

Before Frank could reply she quickly kissed him. “For luck,” she said, a bit breathless. Annie turned, and along with the others started walking across the bridge.

Frank watched her go. The kiss had taken him by surprise.

“Ahh, Frank,” Gary said grinning, “better close your mouth before the bugs start flying in.” Frank closed his mouth with a snap, and looking a bit embarrassed, walked off towards the Jeep.

John threw Gary a wink, and they both walked out onto the bridge to wait. Frank started the Jeep, backed around, and drove slowly over the ties towards the bridge, straddling the rails as he went, and he was still thinking of the kiss as he edged slowly out onto the bridge. He looked across and saw Annie waving from the other side. He waved back and then brought his attention back to the truck.

“How’s she look, Gary,” he asked out the open window, as he inched cautiously out onto the trestle.

“You might scratch the paint a little, but the deck didn’t budge a bit when you eased on to her,” Gary replied. “I don’t think they brought too many auto-carriers across this deck though, more like freight cars. You only got a couple of inches on either side.”

“Well here goes nothing,” he muttered under his breath as he moved further out onto the bridge. “Still okay?” he asked.

“Good as gold,” Gary replied. Frank was not entirely blocking the bridge, and Gary and John squeezed by on one side of the truck. “We’ll be behind you,” Gary said, as he paused at Frank’s window. “I’ll wait until you’re off, and John will wait until I’m off.” Gary looked at both men as they nodded their heads.

“Let’s do it,” Frank said.

He eased off the gas and let the Jeep idle its way across the bridge. When he reached the other side he angled off the tracks, parked, and walked back to the bridge. He stood quietly beside Annie and watched until the other two Jeeps were across. As he stood next to her, he noticed how much more aware of her he was. Funny what a little kiss can do, he thought. In fact, he noticed, she seemed to be a little flushed, and with that thought, Frank began to wonder just exactly what the kiss had meant.

Once they were back on the main road again, it was late afternoon, and by the time they finally reached the other side of Oswego, they had all agreed to stop for the day.

As they entered the small town of Martville, and pulled into a large field, Frank found himself wondering more and more what the kiss had meant…


Read more: Amazon USUK | iTunes | NOOK | Smashwords

 


LOST Christmas

12-25-16 Geo

Well, the presents have been opened, the kids are happy, family is probably on the agenda for the day and that means another Christmas is almost over.

(Helpful reminder) Only 364 shopping days left until Christmas.

I am lethargic today, the overloaded with food Christmas day tradition, and I started yesterday, so I woke up this morning thinking it was Monday. It must be. I am still full from dinner. I feel heavier, it has to be Monday. But no it is Sunday. Only Christmas day. I am still expected to eat too much today too. Groooaaannn.

(Little known fact) Reindeer cause thousands of dollars in roof damage every year, but all Santa carries is liability, so if yours was one of them you are out of luck.

Football today. Gather round the TV and watch it with friends, uncles, cousins, spouses. It is that one time of year where all the other differences are put aside and family and friends come together to watch one team or another win a game everyone will be talking about all the next week at work.

Later in the day there is… More Football! Ahh, a time to break in that new flat screen, drink a few beers, the cousins uncles, that one aunt with the mustache have all gone home. Maybe you’ll be able to watch this game.

But really, family and friends is the important part of the holiday here. It only happens once a year. Sort of when your spouses mother comes to visit. You can be good for one day out of the year, can’t you? Yesterday I had a two year old running from the living room to my office. Hit the office, skid to a stop, turn around and run back to the living room. All the time screaming at the top of his lungs. Meanwhile his father is sitting next to me laughing. Come on, man, it is Christmas!

(Little known fact) Santa Clause was once named Elroy Ringo, but after a brush with the law he went on the run, wound up at the North Pole and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, I know you have enjoyed your visit here today. I have, wait, I am always here, sorry. If you learned nothing today I hope you learned that you should never believe everything you read on-line unless it comes from a trusted blogger like me.

(Helpful reminder) Better get those New Years resolutions ready!

Okay, I am off, but you knew that. I will enjoy the rest of my day. I intend to squeeze in some episodes of LOST, I love that show. I never saw it so I am watching it on Netflix, binging on the whole six seasons a few shows at a time. I recommend it. I hope you enjoy your day, see you soon, Geo…


Rapid City

Hey, Merry Christmas Eve! And what kind of Christmas would it be without Zombies?

Posted by Geo 12-24-16

I am going to leave you with an odd ball Zombie story line I started a few years ago and then ended up writing more of over the last few years, Rapid City. Rapid City comes from the first Zombie Plagues books. It is a small town that sprung up after the plagues and became a hangout for paid gunslingers that hunted down Zombies and even each other. The town itself plays a part in the later Zombie Plague books. This is the full first episode…

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Book one: Rapid City

Copyright © 2013 Wendell Sweet All rights reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

One – The Town At Twilight

Two – The Blood And Breakfast

Three – The Gunfighter Profession

Four – The Good Old Days – Dinner and Conversation

Five – The Challenger

Six – In the Alley By The Door

*******

RAPID CITY COWBOYS AND ZOMBIES BOOK ONE: RAPID CITY

*******

The Town At Twilight

It was late when I came into Rapid city. Though the buildings had been thrown up as temporary shelters some twenty years past, they still held sway over the main street. But they seemed empty, abandoned in the twilight.

A faded, crudely lettered, wooden sign nailed to one side of the bat wings of Blood and Breakfast made the street official. Or as official as anything ever got in Rapid city.

My horse didn’t seem especial nervous as she made her way along. If you ride a horse, and everyone did now, gasoline was long gone unless you were a part of the Nation, you got used to their moods… Perceptions, and you paid attention or you might wind up dead. Horses were still free and Zombies couldn’t chase them down and eat them. Not that they didn’t get one occasional, they did. But it was rare.

My own horse watched the shadows slide from alleyway to alleyway between the old buildings. Her large, liquid brown eyes watching careful like. She was no fool, but she also didn’t appear to be alarmed to me.

The zombies weren’t out. They rarely came near the city in my own experience. At least not before full dark came on. So I didn’t concern myself with them. But I didn’t slide either. My eyes automatically slid from shadow to shadow in the buildings alleyways as I tied my reins to the rail out front, made the steps and headed up to the bat wings. I Heard a pigs squeal suddenly cut off and hoped there’d be some meat to be had with the usual eggs and biscuits.

Rapid city had been thrown together by some of the survivors who had come out of the North looking for a warmer place to live. You might as well say driven out and not just by the cold, but the zombies. Zombies didn’t mind cold. You could come across one naked as a jaybird, seeming frozen at the side of the road in the middle of the winter and think it would be no trouble. But the minute you turned your back they’d be up and on you. Once bitten there was no turning back. Oh in the early years there had been talk of some kind of a cure, but it had never come to anything. After awhile all those Government mouthpieces that kept talking cure got bit themselves and you just didn’t hear from them anymore. Not too long after that the whole government structure fell apart and for all intents and purposes, excepting those of us who could fight, the world belonged to the Zombies.

I had taken to gun-fighting. First: you had to be good with a gun so you could get them bastardly Zombies before they got you. Second: For some reason those that were left alive seemed to be hell bent on killing one another. A man couldn’t hardly turn his back on no one lest a bullet find him between the shoulder blades. And women? Well, short of whores of one kind or another, I had no truck with them. A woman, a real woman, was in short supply and worth killing over. Even if she was an ugly woman. I’d seen a four way gun battle over a one legged Whore down by Texas a few years back. And I’d heard about a thirty two man shoot out over a woman out on Alabama Island. And she was a slatty slip of a woman, but they said she could breed and that was that. I’d come across that one when it was over and they was counting the bodies. But these were things that were in the past. Years ago.

Back then things of that like seemed a waste to me. Here these Goddamned Zombies were killing us by the thousands, millions and these dumb son-of-a-bitches were killing each other. No sir. I’d rather take me a whore in some town when I need one. You can keep those so called proper women. And I will tell you; in my experience a whore can be a perfectly good woman. Love just the same as one of those sulky, pale things I seen out on Alabama Island a few times.

They say the plains is free of Zombies. That’s what they say. They say the Zombies is smarter, they stay around the cities where they can find food. And from what I’ve seen I’d have to agree. They seem to be evolving. But, didn’t we kind of know that was gonna happen? And do you know what the bitch is? There ain’t no goddamn way to win. You got to die, and when you do they got you. Pisses me off just to think about it.

The Blood And Breakfast

I made my way careful up the balance of the splintery steps, through the bat wings and into the Blood and Breakfast. The Blood and Breakfast only served two things. Whiskey and Breakfast. You could order just about anything you had a mind to at any time of day. And they might even listen to you, let you ramble on ’til you was done, but in the end they would tell you. You could order eggs and biscuits, meat if it was to be had. And you could have your whiskey in a bottle or a glass if you considered yourself fancy. But that was what there was and no more to be had. I put my head back to thinking as I looked around the interior.

I’d heard a lot of things about the plains. There was land. There was food to eat. And they say there’s men that has run off with whores and made them proper women out there. I heard it enough that I got to go. This will be my last stop in Rapid City and then I’m going. I’m tired of looking over my shoulder waiting for a damn Zombie to get me. Or another gunfighter. There’s a broken up BlackWay, what we used to call a road. Ain’t many seen it, but probably ain’t many been looking for it. Not only have I seen it I know where it goes. Like I said, a short stop here. Load up on supplies and I’m on my way.

The original settlement had not been laid out to serve other travelers but as a refuge for those escapees from the North. Even so within a few months all of the original settlers had been run off or killed by the Zombies. The ones that came later settled the city. After that Rapid city had become the main gateway to the southern states.

The name had come from the rapids in the nearby river. Well, the river had been near town. Things changed pretty quick back then. Dams a thousand miles away burst with no maintenance, rivers sprang up, died out. Nature did what nature wanted to do. Before the first coat of paint was drying on the church building, the river had spread out nearly a quarter mile wide and was no longer the fast moving body of water that it had once been.

These days it was more like an evil smelling swamp, with the actual river nearly a mile away. It was Hell in spring when the Mosquitoes hatched but the good side of that was the other residents of rapid city, the Zombies, didn’t like the Mosquitoes Something in their bite made them zombies drop like flies. Didn’t kill them outright but it knocked ’em down, gave them some kind of sickness, and a knocked down Zombie is one you can kill real easy. Most of the Zombies that found their way to Rapid City became residents of the swamp in just that way. Their bodies tossed unceremoniously to the alligators that had found the swamp a few years back. Alligators didn’t turn when they ate Zombie. They didn’t even seem to mind eating it. The residents, few as they were, breathed a little easier, and life went on.

The blood and breakfast was located in the old church building. The building had been gutted except the altar area which had been turned into a small dance floor for the whores and travelers. The ratio of whores to travelers was about 3 to 1, but the ratio of clean, disease free whores was about 1 to 5. You had to be real careful. If old Doc mulberry had rejected it, you should be smart enough not to check it out for yourself. If it could kill you you didn’t want it. But of course if the whores didn’t get you, the Zombies would. And some men liked to gamble.

The blood came anytime after the dinner meal. We’ll, after it had been served , not necessarily eaten and ended. It was kind of fluid so to speak, always had been. There was no violence while the serving was going on, and that was enforced by a shotgun wielding crew of about four employees who would show you some blood quick if you really needed it. In my experience it always turned out better to obey the rules and wait. No matter who you were. Even the gunfighters who visited knew the rules and obeyed them.

As I stood looking around I smelled coffee brewing too, probably thick as molasses and only black, but that was fine with me. I beat my hat against the doorpost, shook off as much dust as I was able to, caught the bartenders eyes, Smoky, was his name, and took the table his eyes had given me.

There was no fresh pork yet despite the screaming pig. But there was still bacon to be had, a better treat to my thinking. It seemed like the only meat I ever ate was venison or horse. And the zombies didn’t have it that way. They didn’t care what kind of meat they ate. But of course they preferred people. It just galled me that they was never having the problems with food that the rest of us had. I’d heard of a few places where the tables had been turned. Where hunting parties went out looking for Zombies. Shot them down. Bought them back to display them. But I also heard how them places went bad too. There was always one that stepped over the line and decided to eat what they shot. Don’t let that shock you. After all, isn’t it the same Goddamn thing the Zombies are doing to us? Sure it is. Except that old saying you are what you eat comes into play pretty damn quick. To me it made no sense. I couldn’t cypher how they had got to think to eat a Zombie. The things were dead. Stunk to high Heaven. And it only made sense that it would turn you. Just about every Goddamned thing you had to do with them frigging Zombies would turn you.

Like them idiots that thought you could mate with them. Breed the UN-dead right out of existence. That never turned out well neither. I guess men just thought strange thoughts sometimes when they set down to ponder this whole situation out and there wasn’t always someone there to talk sense into them. Anyway, I knew I was tired of horse and venison, and nowhere near ready to lunch on Zombie. But a little bacon would be a good treat. It’d been a few years since I had any, a little place down toward Texas where it had once met Mexico was the last time.

I took the bacon. A half dozen biscuits and as many eggs. When there’s fresh food you take it. Jerky and hard biscuits was the normal fare. Horse or Deer jerky. And once Turtle jerky. Jesus, that there was some bad stuff. I suppose you might get to thinking around the campfire late at night, belly rumbling, that a little Zombie might not be so bad after all.

I rolled a smoke and sat watching twilight paint the dirt street golden as the sun sank. I spoke to a boy leaning on the wall watching me and sent him to do for my horse. He was off the wall as soon as I flipped a gold piece at him and out the door. I heard him lead my horse away, feet clomping in the early evening stillness. I sometimes worried about my horse. A zombie will eat a horse if that Horse is tied up and can’t get away from it. I seen a Zombie horse or two in my time too. Yes. A horse could be turned. Jesus. It’s a rough sight to see.

The kid would make sure the horse was inside but not penned. She could go if she needed to. I’d find her later. Wouldn’t be the first time. In this world your horse was everything. I’d known men who loved the company of their horse mor’n other people. There was something I understood, but dinner was coming so I put the horse out of my mind. The evening was nearly here and I was safe inside. And I felt good.

The Gunfighter Profession

I am Robert Evans, a gunfighter. I wear stitched leather gloves with no fingers. There is a man in Alabama City that makes them special for me and a few others that be in the life of gun fighting. They protect my palms. They give a good grip. And they leave my fingers clear so they do not get tripped up when I need them. Those gloves have always made people look twice, and a lot of what I am about is psychological. A painted picture. I want to be feared. Sometimes I think I am no better than the Zombies when it comes to that. If you fear me you stay away from me. But there was the other side of that too. You kill what you fear. Yes you do.

I don’t fight overly much anymore. That sort of occupation is dying out I guess. There was a time when the world was crazy though and we found ourselves in a different kind of life. The cities fell. The cops failed to keep us safe. Governments were all talk, and then they were no more. The dead were everywhere.

That was our time. Gunfighters. Gold on the nail and we could make death happen. I carried two fully automatic 45 caliber pistols with custom extended clips. Made my own ammo. Still do. Knock a Zombie down at 100 yards. Walk into a crowd of Zombies and take them all out before one could touch me. And although I was not special I was no slouch. There were only a few in my league. Jimmy Jenkins… Lila West… A few others. We were sent for from all over to take care of Zombie outbreaks. But the sheer numbers overcame us. And the shock wore off and those that were still alive began to fight back. And we, gunfighters, became outcasts. Social misfits. Hated almost as much as the Zombies we had once been hired to kill. The people felt we had taken advantage of them. Lied to them. And some even suspected that we ourselves had something to do with those Zombies. Some sort of bond. Like maybe we had spawned them so we could profit from them. I never made no Zombie any more than I’d ever be willing to eat one. But back in the beginning? We was feared. I could not tell you how many Zombies I put in the ground for permanent. Thousands. High numbers of thousands.

Now nobody gives a shit about us. There were so few people that lived that it looks like it would probably take about ten thousand years before anybody would need to be fighting over anything. Maybe the Zombies will take over. Maybe the earth is no longer for the living. But there is land everywhere. Gold everywhere. The women live longer than the men. Life is just harder for a man. Die sooner, except when the zombies get you then you don’t even get to die. And even if the women that are left are mostly Whores there are enough for everyone. No need to kill over them anymore, despite those things that still go on. Really, there are just a few of us left and every time I come around somewhere it seems there is a half dozen less faces that I had been used to seeing. The Zombies get a few, and we still kill each other too. Makes no sense to me at all.

There was and is speculation about that. Are we dying out? I think we are. Looks pretty clear to me. How can you kill something that’s dead? You can’t. Is this God’s judgment? Maybe. Government fuck-up? That’s what I think. We will never know for a fact what did happen, but I know this, I believe we’re done. I wouldn’t say it if I was you though unless you’re prepared to meet your God. It’s just that way. We may be dying out. And we may know we’re dying out. And the Zombies may be on the verge of inheriting the earth, but we don’t want to hear it. Saying it will usually get you dead fast.

The Good Old Days – Dinner and Conversation

When I was younger it was cockroaches. People believed that someday a nuclear missile would take all of us out and the earth would be left to the cockroaches. That’s funny because even when we are gone the Zombies will go on and the cockroach population will be kept in check, because, as it turns out, Zombies love cockroaches. Eat those little fuckers just like Popcorn. Like a treat. And, it applies to nearly every goddamn bug there is. If you study Zombies for awhile, I killed them for a living for many years so I had to, you will see them do it. Just reach down and snatch a bug from the ground, or the floor, or the air and stuff it in their mouths. And they are fast. Gone are those early days when they were slow. No more. Only the mosquitoes are a different story. If we could have just found out what was in Mosquitoes we might have gotten someplace, but it’s too late for that now, truly it is.

I flicked my cigarette away as the food came. It’s been a good six months since I’ve eaten real meat. That had been on Alabama Island. The Nation. I was looking forward to the Bacon. Just seeing it on my plate made my mouth water.

The Nation is what has bought most of this country back under control. They control the communist whole, not just each and every little area but the whole of the continent. North, South, East and West. They’re there. I do trade with them. I could probably fall in with them and establish my own settlements, be myself again. Beef, Coffee, Sugar, Textiles, Electricity if you were in one of their settlements or one of their larger cities like Alabama Island you would think that nothing had ever happened.

But there were rumors about the nation. They were getting shaky, falling apart, and on my last trip to Alabama Island I saw that that might be true. If they were shaking it might take some time before they shook themselves apart. They were so big that I couldn’t really see it. The only thing that made me really examine it at all was that America was big… The biggest… And it fell apart.

I mulled life over as I began to put away my dinner and listened to the conversation around me.

Concerns about the weather. Too much sun. The farming, crops. The Nation. Concerns about the Zombies, was it over? Was it done? Talk about a gunfighter who had been tracked down in a small town down near the Texas border and killed. That one I had heard about. Vigilantes, something like that. Tracked him down. Betsy, one of the whores, had caught something bad. Bad enough that Doc Mulberry didn’t know what to do about it. A zombie that had been acting strange, coming around the Blood and Breakfast and going through the trash. Even in the daylight. If it was like that with zombies now I guess it didn’t really surprise me. They’ve come around like that before. Zombies were adaptable… Changing… We all knew it. And then the conversation moved on and I lost interest as I ate my dinner.

The Challenger

It took me a few seconds to realize that it was quiet. All the conversation had fallen off. The roar of the silence broke through to me. It’s odd like that, ain’t it? How the absence of sound can call you up out of your thinking sometimes, faster than actual noises can. This was bad though. Stupid of me. The old me would not never had been caught like that.

I looked up following the directions of the stares and heard the low clacking of new boot heels as they made the wooden steps that came into the saloon.

He was known to me, but that didn’t mean I was known to him. I had seen him fight more than once. Perhaps four times total if I recalled correctly. Gunfighters were so rare now as to draw attention. I drew my share of sideways glances and small murmurings as I said. And handling my own business was nothing new for me. I did it when I had to. My guns talked for me.

John Baxter, that was the gunfighters name, walked in and straight to the bar. I would have liked to have thought that he had not seen me but I knew he had. He was working way too hard to not look my way. He had used his peripheral vision to check me out same as I would’ve. And I was caught completely off guard. I had not heard him soon enough. Not his horse coming, nor whatever it had been that had tipped off the bar crowd and caused them to fall silent. The only edge that I had if there was trouble, and in my world there always was, was that he did not know I was unprepared. And even as I thought those thoughts I prepared myself. And as far as I was concerned we were back on even ground just that fast.

In those seconds I had freed up my pistols, changed my leg position and looked over the room completely. I ended by moving my body slightly to present a smaller target. Seconds spun out. John ordered a whiskey and kept his back to me. I considered shooting him dead right in the back. I’m not above it. Better dead, no matter whether you were right or wrong in the way you got it done.

The crowd was absolutely silent and drawn back away from us. Making room. They had seen a few gunfights in the Blood and Breakfast. Even so two gunfighters in the Blood and Breakfast at the same time had to be something unheard of in awhile. Most likely the whole town had been aware that something might be up, maybe from the second I come into town. Certainly before I knew.

I looked at my plate regretting that I’d saved the bacon for last as it now sat untouched on my plate along with the biscuits sopped in egg yolks. There were at least three flies having a feast. It pissed me off, but it would not keep me from eating it later. I told myself I should have shot him in the back just for the pure fact that he was making me miss my breakfast. And I would have to eat it cold later with fly shit that looked an awful lot like black pepper after we were done with our business. John turned slow from the bar. Dinner in the Blood and Breakfast was done being served.

“Come to kill you, Robert,” he said easy. His eyes were gray, hard and flat. A tight smile played at his small mouth. His lips were pursed. His hat sat upon the bar where he had thrown it.

“So I thought,” I said aloud. I moved not at all. My own blue eyes gave away nothing of my emotions. My hands did not shake.

Silence fell and held. Just the sliding and shuffling of the feet of the townsmen, the whores and the travelers alike sliding backwards from what they considered to be the fighting zone. I was thinking I had waited too long, that I should have shot him in the back, when a twitch of his shoulder told me he was going for his gun.

The noise was deafening. I emptied half a clip into him from under the table top. Half a modified clip was fifteen bullets. And the first four or five took the bottom edge of the table off as they flew at John.

The thing about a gunfight is that it slows down time some how. You ask any gunfighter and they will tell you that’s true. I watched as my first bullet plucked at his shirt front before his own gun had completely cleared leather. My second bullet blew his collarbone apart just a few inches from where it joined with his neck, but his gun was out and spitting fire. It was about then that two things happened.

The first was, I felt a sudden heaviness in my chest. I didn’t have time to puzzle that before one more bullet found its mark and I saw John become dead. This one midway in his chest. Showing only as a tiny hole but it was like the light went out of his eyes all at once. When those two things were done it finally registered in my thoughts that I had been shot too. Hit, not killed. I was pretty sure not dead or dying. To prove it I forced myself to move and I was able to move just fine.

The smoke hung like a curtain in the air. The smell of hot metal, gunpowder expired, hung in that same air.

Someone said… “They is both hit… Lookit!” Real low… Like a whisper.

In the Alley By The Door

John finally had the sense to fall down. His gun clattered to the floor just before John himself did.

Time slipped by. I wanted to see how bad I was hit. I had no real idea. I finally stood from the table and looked down at myself. A small neat hole just below my shoulder in my upper chest. Red blooming around it like a small, spring flower. I was hurt, but not bad. I had been shot worse.

“Get the Doc,” I said to some skinny, slat-sided whore crouching in the shadows. She looked scared to death or almost. She lit out, seeming glad to, and I walked over to John where he lay sprawled on the floor and put one more bullet right between his eyes. Best to do it soon. I’ve seen a body start turning before the life is really even done leaving it. Those bastard Zombies can’t wait… Or the Dead disease. Whatever it is that turns them. A little dog hiding under a nearby table yelped when I fired and scrambled, nails clicking on the wood floor, trying to secret itself better. I reached down and took John’s guns and personals, gold mostly, set them on the table, grabbed one booted foot and dragged him towards the back door.

I kicked the rear screen door open, dragged him bumping down the steps and rolled him over towards the trash cans. I’d done my part and now my chest was beginning to hurt. I felt like sitting down all at once. There was a little bubbling in the lung on that side. I could both feel and hear it. It was an odd thing. And I could feel the bullet in there, wedged tight, burning. I didn’t relish Doc. Mulberry operating but the alternative was unacceptable. And I had come through much worse. Much worse.

I was turned to go back in when the Zombie got me. He must have been crouched down by the garbage cans in the shadows and I hadn’t seen him. He had me by the wrist growling and snarling before I could shoot him. I got my gun up and put one through his head as fast as I could, hoping the ricochet didn’t take off my hand. He let go and laid down with one leg twitching and his back arched stiff for a second. Then he was dead for good, Amen.

I stood for a few seconds wondering what the hell had just happened. But, I knew what had just happened. I had lived through a goddamned gunfight at the old age of fifty two just to get bitten by a ever-lovin’ friggin’ Zombie. I stood a few seconds longer thinking of how unfair that was, remembering the conversation from inside while I had been eating. A Zombie had been coming around… Going through the trash… but then the craziness of the situation hit me and I had to laugh. And laughing was how old Doc Mulberry found me.

He looked from the Zombie to my wrist dripping blood on the dirt of the back alley.

“That from the fight or the Zombie,” he asked me.

“Zombie,” I answered . I tapped lightly at the bullet hole in my upper chest. He nodded.

“Ain’t that a bitch,” he said.

I laughed. “Ain’t it… Ain’t it just…”

###

I hope you enjoyed the reading. I’ll be back soon…

The Rapid City Trilogy: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276647


I Am A Writer

Posted by Dell 12-23-2016

It is a beautiful day here in New York. Yes, rain, on and off. It looks like the perfect set-up for an ice storm. I hope that doesn’t happen. It is supposed to cool off through the day, but then warm again tomorrow, so we will have to see how it plays out.

I once moved to the great state of Alabama and lived there for ten years. I stayed so long because where I lived the weather turned to what would amount to very early fall here, 65 to 75 degrees, about mid September to early October and stayed that way until the middle of March. About 5 months of beautiful weather. Native Alabamians thought I was crazy walking around in a pocket T-Shirt while they were in jackets and coats. I stayed because that weather was so perfectly suited to me. Here in northern New York I get a few days a year that are like that. Maybe ten total. It isn’t enough.

I suppose other people might think that is odd liking cooler weather. I also like the mountains and rainy days too. I think a lot of it is set in our early memories and that is it. From then on, sometimes for reasons we don’t even remember, we like certain things. I can remember three very clear rainy day memories from my early life and those are probably what make up my attraction to rainy days. The first is a small aluminum travel trailer my father parked behind our house. One of those shiny, silver Airstream numbers you could tow behind your car or truck. He ran an extension cord to it so it had power. I can remember standing inside the doorway watching the rain fall just outside that doorway. Listening to the rain pound on that curved aluminum roof. I was safe and dry.

My second memory is a camp I went to as a slightly older child. Lying on the top bunk reading Robinson Crusoe as rain drummed against the corrugated steel roof, the other kids spread around playing board games, writing letters. The rain the reason for the time to be able to read, play, otherwise we would have been doing other camp things I suppose.

The third time was only a few years later, but life had changed a great deal for me in those few years between eleven or twelve to thirteen and fourteen. I was standing in a doorway, rain falling hard, watching the traffic pass me by. Cars shooting up sheets of water as they went by, none able to reach me where I was hidden in the shadows of that doorway. That should be a bad memory, after all I was alone, homeless, a runaway living on those streets, and I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t. I listened to the pounding rain and it made things all right. Made me decide to be alive when my thoughts were dancing on the head of a pin, back and forth… Quit, live, quit, live.

I began to write an account of my life not long ago because someone asked me about it. It is funny when you start to write something how much more you remember than you thought you did. Some things I was happy to remember, others not so much. I’m not going down that road right now, but I will eventually, I suppose. For now I will illustrate how you can take those parts of your life and make them work for you as a writer. Take that emotion and write it out of you.

A quick word about what you write: Write what you know. I won’t spend a lot of time on this because it has been pointed out by every writer I have ever read, that when it comes to writing write what you know. I have done that in every book I have written. The First Earths Survivors book. Candace is someone I know. Mike is a better copy of me. Bob is the Native American man I wish I could be. And it goes on. Ronnie is the part of me that has African American blood. I write what I know. I only get into trouble when I step outside of that. Billy Jingo is a story about a a dirt poor kid who lives in a little dead end town and has nothing. Been there and done that. That book is set in the town I grew up in, and blended with people and places I have known and understand. All things I know. The Dreamer’s Worlds Book is really a book about Native American traditions and beliefs. I studied and read for months to be able to understand Native American religion only to find that there are many versions of it just as there are many versions of Christianity or the Muslim faith, or Buddhism. I studied to find the things that are in my blood that my father would not tell me about, not to write a book, but when I began the book I wrote from that knowledge I had leaned and internalized by going to traditional Longhouse services for those years. I took that and the things my Chief gave me and I wrote what I knew. And as I wrote it I added emotion.

Writing is emotion in my opinion. So is artwork, film, storytelling. Some of the best storytellers in ancient history probably learned how to channel emotion into their writing. Jean Auel writes more than a few scenes that illustrate that passing on of stories and the emotion that went into it. I also learned that the Native Americans passed down all of their history that way. If you think about it, they had no written history. They had fantastic storytellers though.

Some of the best writers I have read, talked to, known, are able to write their emotion into a storyline and make you feel it. Sometimes I write a piece and re-read it and I can’t get the depth or feelings from the characters. I can play with it until I feel something, or I can set it aside for another day. Usually it is best to set it aside for another day. Maybe it will make sense to me, evoke an emotion, maybe not. But forcing it to be or mean something that it doesn’t, or to pull out some emotion that isn’t there, won’t work for me. If the second go around doesn’t do it either, then it’s usually over for whatever that piece I was writing was about.

What I am saying is there is a time to set a piece aside and go on to the next thing. When I say set it aside I don’t mean to throw it away. I rarely do that, in fact I can’t think of a time that I ever did. What I mean is to leave what is there, words on a scrap of paper, an incomplete document in your word processor: Title it whatever you thought it might be, file it, and move on. I have a real file cabinet because sometimes I write stuff down on real paper that comes to me at 3:00 AM. In it goes. I have a virtual file cabinet on my machine too. All the other stuff goes there. The point is that it has been set aside, but to me set aside is like the Windows Trash Can, it just moves it to an unused part of the hard drive. Occasionally I will go fishing there and see what there is to see. Sometimes it is clear to me why I moved a piece there, other times it isn’t. But that is usually rainy day stuff.

One of my points today is that you can and must move pass those blockages in your writing that cause you to fail, stop, or do anything else that disrupts that flow of words. And the easiest way to move on is to move that piece that just won’t come together right into the virtual file basket. Start something else, jump into it, if that doesn’t work move it out too. It works for me. But whatever you do don’t actually toss it away. Save it someplace and revisit it. You never know what might make sense in a year or even ten years from now.

In 2010 I wrote this on a scrap of paper… “War has taken my country.” I looked at it. The imagery had come from something that had popped into my head the way those things do with most of us. Emotion tied into it. A little boy watching war erupt around him. Those sorts of things don’t really happen very often in this country, but those things do happen in other countries all of the time. The world can be sane, safe like that rain falling on a tin roof, and then it can erupt into violence, and in the space of a few seconds everything can change permanently.

Vietnam was like that for me. I went into the service at the end of Vietnam, never went to Vietnam. In fact never went anywhere at all. But I grew up those last few years with the imagery that was on the TV. Reporters following soldiers into war. I notice that doesn’t happen anymore. Not like it was then. I can remember being a kid, watching dead bodies pop up on the TV, men shot down and dying, it was crazy, and I can see why they don’t cover war like that anymore. They need the nice, clean, sanitized version for TV. But what I saw then stayed with me, shaped my thoughts, probably shaped me and thousands of other kids who saw those things. That is where those words came from. That little vision of that little boy who was not an American, standing in his village and watching his world change forever. Emotion.

I wrote the note and it went nowhere at all. It was very compelling. It begged me to complete it, but it went nowhere. I filed it in my paper file since I had scratched those letters onto a piece of paper, and I went on to the next thing which was to write several stories in a row. I enjoyed that. Westerns, space travel, cave people (None of it published). All the stuff that interested me that I had not written. Then I began writing a long project, the Earth’s survivors series.

A year later, a rainy day in fact, I happened to pull out all of those notes, a small folder of them, from the last year. Just to take a look at them and see what I had been thinking about, trying to write. I found that scrap of paper and immediately the whole story jumped into my head. I wrote this…

*******

Lyrics Copyright © Wendell G. Sweet 2011 ♪ ♫ ♪ Date Written; 04-28-2011

Song Title: War At Home Style: Alternative

Verse One:

War has taken my country… Brother fighting his brother… It will be what it will be… See how we kill each other…

War it ain’t no way to live… It ain’t no way to die… Takes all that you can give… Takes every tear you cry…

Instrumental————-Steel drum rhythm with short lead transition———–

Verse Two:

War along the borders… Kills the father and the mother… Soldiers acting on their orders… Little Sister… Who will take care of your Brother…?

Their blood is crying from the ground… Who will reap the seed they’ve sown…? as you turn to run… pray that God will take them home…

Hook

let me have my country… Leave me to my home… Go back to your land of plenty… Leave this man alone…

You have come to kill the people… Watch them weep and moan… Come to kill our spirit… Why don’t you take yourself home…

Instrumental———————————————-Long Lead———————————–

Verse Three:

See the hills light up with fire… Young men running to their graves… Bad news coming down the wire… But you tell me Jesus saves…

Children sleeping in the gutters… Bodies lying in the street… Machine gun stutters… Pray… Your soul to keep…

Bridge:

Generals send their orders down… From their bunkers underground…

Freedom fighters honor bound… March to death without a sound…

Death is falling from the sky… Did you march today to die…?

Why is no one asking why…? too sad to cry…

Verse Four:

See it on your television… It all seems so far away… Think it’s real think it isn’t… Anyway… Don’t affect you today…

Take off your silver glasses… Take a good look around… As your time passes… may be you… that is lying on the ground…

Hook

let me have my country… Leave me to my home… Go back to your land of plenty… Leave this man alone…

You have come to kill the people… Watch them weep and moan… Come to kill our spirit… Why don’t you take yourself home…

Instrumental———————————————-Long Lead———-Steel Drum—————

Verse Five:

Justify your means… It is not you who has to die… Tell me it isn’t as it seems… Still… You can not answer why…

When judgment comes upon our heads… We will stand as we must… His words can raise us from the dead… or… return us to the dust…

Instrumental——————————-Short Steel Drum Rhythm——————————–

Verse Six:

I got to get away from here… This life is taking a toll… Always living in fear… I am… Less than whole…

Blood is welling up in fountains… Shooting up into the sky… I’m going home to my mountains… There is where I’ll die…

Hook / W Xtro

let me have my country… Leave me to my home… Go back to your land of plenty… Leave this man alone…

You have come to kill the people… Watch them weep and moan… Come to kill our spirit… Why don’t you take yourself home…

Why don’t you take yourself home… Leave us to our war at home… Take yourself home… Leave this man alone… Leave me too… My war at home… … … …
Why I Wrote It:

When I was a kid Vietnam was all consuming. The hippies hated it (I wasn’t quite old enough to be a Hippie but I liked the drug, rock and Roll, sex culture), society was torn. Young men kept dying. The T.V. Was full of news stories. They followed the soldiers into firefights. It was very graphic and there were kids all over the place that sat in front of televisions and watched that violence.

I saw dead men, children. Children crying, burned, separated from loved ones. The song came from that, although, really, war is war. It could be just as applicable to what’s going on now in the middle east… … … …

*******

All of the above was written at that single time, in one shot. Maybe it took me a half hour, changing this little thing or that little thing, but not much more than that. The emotion I connected to was strong. The story had had to wait a year but it had finally come to me. The little boy is there, and the man I grew into is also there as you read the words. And of course my emotion is there too.

At the time I was in a creative writing class. It was offered so I took it. I didn’t expect much because I had found that most creative writing classes were run by people who didn’t seem to have a lot of creativity, and were populated by people who needed to fill a hole in their schedule. More often than not I would go to those classes and find half the class asleep. There was no interaction, no back and forth discussions. So I nearly skipped this class and at the last minute changed my mind and took it because, well, I needed to fill a hole and decided to fill it with something that at least might offer good written materiel to me. Ironic, I know.

The woman who ran the class actually liked to write. She devised exercises that were interesting and set it up so that we would read the things we had written in class and get feed back on them. Incredible. I had been toying around with this book I wanted to write about a young woman, a drug addict, who was straightening out her life and she stumbles into something she doesn’t understand, dream travel. She discovers it in her sleep. Again this came from a note I had written to myself about this young girl trapped in a stone. What I wrote from that seed was The Dreamer’s Worlds. I had been coming to class and reading the book as I wrote it, an amazing way to write, especially with that book which is such a left field concept that most people would probably never read it. Add to that that I tried very hard to write the dream sequences as real dreams would be. Disjointed, jumbled and out of sequence to one another, the same way dreams can really be. The feedback was invaluable because it told me whether I was succeeding in still getting the story across or not. But I decided to take a break and read what had come from the note instead. They got it, they understood it. Something that would not have happened had I not written it down after the first failed attempt, and then waited for the time to come without even knowing if it would ever come around. I went on to write music for that and turn it into lyrics as opposed to a poem of sorts. And I put the piece of paper back into the folder and put it away. Saved it again.

So a few months back I am moving into my new office space (Read that as an unused room in the house), and I am moving files and I come across a mountain of paperwork that has to be sorted and put away. So I came across that folder again and the note. I remembered it inspired me to write those lyrics. I remembered also how those lyrics had started as words on paper and I had nearly left them as poetry or verse instead of lyrics. The next thing I knew I had a pen in my hand. I wrote this…

*******

Tanks On A Blue Sky Day

What if you were standing in your own yard and the world was the same. Great. Safe. Comfortable. And you were standing there in your yard. Just a kid, a man, a woman, the day right there before you. Feeling like the world would always be the same.

And this safety was all that you had known, ever. And the sun was shining in the sky. And then the tanks rolled in. And the soldiers with their guns. The noise incredible. The soldiers glancing at you as they walk past you. Like they know your name.

And everything changed. Your yard was not your yard anymore. Just a piece of dirt and grass with tank tracks running across it. But the sun is still shining… How can that be? And the soldiers are soldiering, they don’t speak. It’s like they don’t even care.

And you turn away but it is the same all around you. Your friends in their yards. Looking at the same blue sky, the same bright sun. The same tanks. The same soldiers with the same guns. They don’t speak either, but the same questions are on the air.

And you feel like the black clouds should move in and blot out the sun. The bright day should not exist in this world that your eyes see. You blink but it doesn’t go away, refuses to change. Your whole world has changed and a minute has not expired.

The tanks, clank, clank, clank. On their way to where, you wonder. And the soldiers step, step, step. One foot follows the other never questioning where. The children begin to cry. You think to wipe your own tears from your eyes, but find you are too tired.

The tanks, the soldiers, the sun in the blue sky. The day that started as your own…
The noise, the fear. Time is moving, but you don’t know where it’s going…

*******

Not really poetry, more like verse. Not much of a title, but there is emotion in it just like War at Home. Two pieces from the same note. I stuck the note back into that folder and who knows what it might evoke the next time I pull it out? Sort of like my own Magic Lamp I suppose. But the point again is that I wrote it. It came from emotion because emotion matters. When you connect your writing to emotion it clarifies many things immediately for you. You have hooked it into your own well of experience, whatever pain, hatred, love, confusion or anything else that is in that well is now able to lend itself to that story. For that scrap of paper, for that idea, is was only waiting for the right day to make that connection.

This is shorter: How to connect to the emotion. I have explained what I wrote from emotion, but not how I tapped into that emotion. That is simpler still, and if it isn’t you should not consider writing.

Writers, every writer I know, have spoken to, spent time with, is messed up. Something is not quite right with that person, me included. Maybe it is a big problem, many problems, or maybe it is many small problems. But if you truly examine that statement, is anybody quite right? Any one at all? I don’t think so. We are all flawed. We have all used and been used, bullied and been bullied, loved, hated, been lonely, bored, happy, ecstatic, depressed and the list goes on and on. It is why we can all relate to one another on the most basic levels.

No, I have not lost my mother so I can not know for a fact how it feels to lose your mother. My friend has though, and she has talked about it and helped me to understand the parts I didn’t know. Even so, I don’t know how it will affect me completely, and that is sort of like writing. If I had to write a story about a man or a woman losing their mother I would first relate it to things I do understand that are similar, losing my father, my uncle, aunt, yes even when my dog died. That is an emotional place. Once I am there my mood is going to change drastically. I am going to remember holding my uncles hand as he lapsed into a coma at nearly 4:00 AM. He died about 12 hours later. I am going to remember that my father died with things unresolved between us and how it hurts to feel that that can never be fixed. And I will remember that that same uncle whose hand I held as he passed away was like a father to me. He came and picked me up when my time on the streets was done. He loved me. And then I will think about the fear of losing my mother, the last parent. The person who has always loved me. Then I will remember the things my friend said to me. How she misses her mother all of the time. How it never really goes a way.

After that I am in that place where I am connected to that emotion, I only need to write it out. And to be honest, I would not want to take myself to a painful place like that and not write it out, express it. When I begin to write it may not be pretty. It may only be a note that I write that will be expressed fully years later, but it may be the story whole and complete coming right then. And whatever way it does end up it is connected directly to that emotion, and so every time that I read it I am instantly re-connected to that emotional well that it came from.

Have you never watched a movie and become emotional? Watched a favorite scene that took you someplace? Read a book that made you cry, love, feel? That is because that writer has connected that emotion to themselves and then conveyed it to you via their writing, imagery, pictures, artwork.

The thing about writers is connecting with that place, channeling it into the story and then letting it go. Not always easy but always necessary to really write. The reason to write it out should be obvious, if you don’t it can infect you, depress you, ruin your life. That is why so many writers are living on the edge of what they consider the real world. Can’t step into it, can’t live without it. Depression, alcohol, drugs. Good mental health means connecting and then walking away after the story is written. Let it go, get it out in that story, verse, lyric. That is what writing from emotion is all about. It makes a strong story and hopefully it makes a strong writer too.

I am not saying that the only strong emotion is sadness, or fear based. There are many happy wells you can go to also. Don’t think so? Actually think about it. There may not be dozens and dozens right there on the surface, but they are there. As humans who like to think a lot we tend to, at times, only look at the negative things. I know I do, but if you look you can find those good moments. You just have to let them be what they are. In other words, a moment of complete joy and happiness for me was watching my son born. An amazing thing for a dumb young guy who hadn’t thought past more than his tiny little world, and circle of knowledge. I could not imagine a stronger moment of happiness. But I could continue to follow that thought and remember that my wife and I split up not long after that. I could follow that thought to another negative thought and on and on. And that is what we sometimes do. I am saying get that one good thought and stay with that. Play it in your mind, over and over if need be until you are sure of it. Now go find another good thought. The first time a girl kissed you, or a boy. The first time it was summer and school was over for the next few months, and the world was yours. Or maybe the first car you bought: First home; the first time you did twenty miles on a bike. My point is that those good things are there too, and you can tap into them as easily as you can tap into the bad stuff.

Have you loved? Drank to excess? Lost someone you thought you couldn’t live without? Drugged? Gone to prison? Fell into or out of love? Left your home? Lost your home? Husband? Wife? Watched your children grow up? Those are the places you need to go to to get the emotion you need. Don’t live there, but know it. And the fact is that you know it anyway. To be honest anyone who has ever been hurt or helped by anything has learned from it. Now I am telling you to learn to write from it. It may not be pretty at first, but as you do it you will get better at it.

Here is a short story from that same well. This story was written years ago and published on the first writers site I ever owned back in 1985 or so. It is the same well of emotion that I went to to get War at Home and Tanks On A Blue Sky Day.

*******

FIRE FIGHT

By: Wendell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY:

independAntwriters

FIRE FIGHT

Copyright © 1984 – 2013 by Wendell Sweet All Rights Reserved

*******

FIRE FIGHT

*******

FIRE FIGHT

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

The fire was just as heavy as it had been on the first day. Non-stop. Round after round of machine gun fire, and mortar rounds that came so fast it was hard to tell when one ended, and another began. But the man upstairs, now that was something to consider. What was it with him, anyway? Vacation? A little mental constipation? Just how long was long enough, for Christ sakes. Johnson crawled over, eating some dirt as he came. But at least he had crawled. The numb son-of-a-bitch had walked the first few times. Like he was out on a goddamn Sunday stroll.

“Sergeant Beeker?” he whisper yelled over the sound of the gunfire. “Shouldn’t we maybe ought a return fire, sir?”

“Hey, fuck you, if I say we lay low, we lay low. Now, shut up and crawl your white-ass back over to your position, mister, NOW!”

Johnson went, he didn’t have to be told twice. Beeker was one mean bastard, and he had absolutely no desire to mess with him. Even so this whole situation didn’t set well in his mind, and that was mainly due to the fact that it didn’t make any sense. And how in hell could it? he asked himself. There was no answer, because there could be no answer at all. Fifteen days ago he had been safe and sound in… In… It wouldn’t come. Someplace. He had been someplace, not here, and he had been safe, and he had been sound, he could remember that much. He could also remember waking up here with Beeker, Philips, and Ronson. In the middle of… Of… Where am I? He didn’t know that either, and they weren’t disposed to tell him. Other than waking up in the middle of this fire-fight, he couldn’t remember jack-shit. He made the outside perimeter, and curled up into a near ball as he pressed himself into the dirt embankment.

“About fucking time,” Beeker yelled above the roar of gunfire… …They had been pinned down for the last several hours, with heavy fire from the North Vietnamese regulars. It had finally fallen off somewhat. It was time to make a move, and Beeker was no fool, he had every intention of getting his men the hell out. They’d already lost four good men on this mission. He couldn’t see losing any more. He looked across the short, smoky distance, directly into Ronson’s eyes, and signaled left, away from the sand, towards the jungle that pressed in from behind them. A quick sideways flick of his own eyes told him that Johnson and Phillips had caught it too. Beeker signaled Ronson out first, then Phillips, and then Johnson. It was a slow go, belly crawl for the first few hundred yards. The bullets continued to whine above them, but they all made it one piece. Two hundred yards in they were able to stand. The jungle finally offering some protection. Beeker led the way quickly yet carefully, through the lush greenery. The others fell in behind him silently. Two miles further through the dense jungle, they finally lost the distant sounds of gunfire, and the jungle fell nearly silent. They fell silent themselves, moving as quietly as they could from tree to tree. Aware of the noises that surrounded them. A short while later when the gunfire had completely fallen off, the jungle seemed to come back to life. Bird calls, and the ever present monkey chatter. That was a good sign to Beeker, if the jungle was full of gooks, the birds sure as fuck wouldn’t be singing. They pushed on through the night, and morning found them… Morning found them…

… “Oh, man,” Ronson complained. “Fucker dropped the ball again,” Beeker agreed wearily. He was leaned back against the side of a burned out hut, smoking a cigarette he’d pulled from inside his jacket.

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

“Sure as fuck did, he always does towards the end though,” Phillips agreed. “Gotta work it out… Make it just right. Set it up for the next one.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, sure…”

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

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

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

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

“As rain,” Ronson replied coolly.

“And where are we now?” “Seventeen?” Phillips asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Have a cigarette,” Beeker told him.

“I told you, I don’t…”

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

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

“So?” Beeker asked, smiling widely.

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

“And when was it that you were sleeping, Johnson? For that matter, when were any of us?”

Johnson thought about it. Had they been awake for fourteen days? Not possible, he told himself. He Looked over at Beeker. Beeker just smiled.

“None of us have. None of us have to, unless he makes us… Don’t you get it yet, Johnson?”

“Yeah, don’t you get the feeling someone’s putting words in your mouth?” Ronson snickered. He began to laugh once more.

“Can’t be,” Johnson mumbled.

“It is, and hey, it’s a bitch, ain’t it? But think of it this way. Us three have done this… Five now?” he asked to no one in particular.

“This’ll be six,” Phillips replied.

“Jesus, has it really been six?”

“This one makes it,” Ronson agreed as he stopped laughing once again. He leaned back against a nearby tree and fired up a smoke. His eyes twinkling as they locked on Johnson and Beeker.

“Okay, it’s six. You’re an extra, Johnson, you got wrote in to replace Simpson. You see the man upstairs figures it like this. You gotta kill somebody every once in awhile, right? Otherwise he’ll lose the readers attention. So he writes in disposable’s. Yeah, man, it’s a bitch, but it’s you. It sure as hell isn’t gonna be any of us. You don’t kill off the main guys, it don’t happen,” he softened his voice. “Look, it was hard for Simpson too. He kept him with us for better than ten chapters, and you know, I liked that sucker. He was all right for a white dude.”

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

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

*******

There you have three expressions from that same well of thought and emotion. They were written over the space of 30 years. It seems impossible to me that that could be true but I can remember writing them out, the story, Firefight, the lyrics, War At Home, and the verse Tanks On A Blue Sky Day, like it was thirty minutes ago.

I will just remind you: Believe it or not some people hate my writing. Amazing, right? All joking aside, that happens to be as true for me as it is for anyone else. The thing is there are people that hate what I write. Go read some of my reviews and you will see that. But you will also find reviews written by people who like what I write. It will be the same with you. I have a friend that I am constantly reminding that she is good. I mean so very talented, but it doesn’t matter what I say if she doesn’t believe it inside of herself. That is where you need to go with what you write. I do not mean to close yourself off from criticism or feedback, you need that. How else will you know when you provoke someone strongly? What I do mean is that you must know in your heart that once you get past the writing errors and mistakes that we all make (Read some history about any writer at all or check this) you are good. You are writing something that is worth reading and interesting.

The Dreamer’s Worlds book was like that. Here I am writing a book that is not written in a traditional way at all. I published it and no one bought it. But I knew enough then to know that if you don’t have zombies or an in somewhere in publishing, you are not going to get people to flock to what you write (Zombies now, Vampires back in the 80’s). It is going to be harder. All you can do is have that faith that it is good. Continue to plug away and build your self confidence. It doesn’t matter whether you ever sell a single copy of your books at all, it only matters that you believe in yourself. Maybe that book was not the book that will do it for you, maybe the book that will do it for you is the next book in the magazine, and if you do not have faith in yourself you will stop and that book, that one that is the one that makes it, will not get written.

Another problem that is not a problem for me, is a man writing a female character, or a woman writing a male character. At first it was. Somehow I convinced myself that men and women are completely different and therefore I could never write like a woman because I am a man. And that might be true in as far as it goes. A story that is written by a woman might contain things I could not match because I could not understand them. But I know women, and I am no longer shy, I will ask about what I don’t know. And I will understand it, but as a man, I still might not capture what the woman wrote. But that doesn’t matter in almost all the important cases, because I want to write a female character. I don’t want to become a female, I don’t want to be let into the secret society of women, and by the way, if there is a secret society for men I have never been invited in. Either because I am unacceptable of because it doesn’t exist. I don’t want to do anything other than write a female character that seems like something a woman might write. A female character that seems real, believable. It isn’t a big deal to do that.

First of all, as a man or a woman, you know far more about the opposite sex than you think you do. It is like I started out saying, you remember more than you think you do. All those little remarks, mannerisms, ways of talking, handling problems, you remember those things and you do understand them. You don’t have to jump to the stereotypical male or female either. Have you, as a woman, ever seen a man cry? Never mind the old school thought that men aren’t supposed to cry, men cry all of the time in public now, and as a man I can tell you they cried before too, in private maybe, but they cried. The differences between a man crying and a woman crying are not that different. It sometimes may seem as though the man is a little more emotional. But if you think that through you will see that that makes perfect sense. Men are not used to dealing with strong emotions in that manner. Sure, we live in the politically correct world where men are not physical or aggressive. Bull. Men are still raised in almost all societies to be aggressive. To hide emotion, and so when a man cries it might seem to you to be more intense, but in reality it probably isn’t. It is a man expressing the same emotion, maybe in a slightly different way, but they are expressing it. The man is the same as the woman then, right? No. Of course not. The part you remember is all of the men, you as a woman, or all the women, I as a man have known. Are they all the same? No. Pick one and use it the next time you write about a man or woman. Or pick more than one. Let me give you an example. This is Candace from the First Earth’s survivors book:

CANDACE

March 1st

The traffic leaving the parking lot had slowed to a trickle, the lot nearly empty. The live shows were over, the bands packed up and gone, the dancers gone before or at the same time. The club was empty except Jimmy, the club boss, Don, the main door security, and me.

“Why are you still here, Candy,” Jimmy asked as he came up to the bar. He was on his way back from the parking lot. It was a short trip across the parking lot to the bank night deposit on the lot next door.

“I had an idea that Harry would be by tonight. He wanted to talk to me,” I shrugged. Harry was a Bookie, at least on the surface. Off the surface, or maybe it would be truer to say under the surface, Harry controlled most of the organized crime north of Syracuse. Jimmy… Jimmy managed the club, among other things, but the best description for Jimmy was to say Jimmy solved problems for Harry.

“Wants to talk you into staying here. That’s about all,” Jimmy said.

I turned away and pretended to check my face in the mirrored wall behind the bar. I wanted to Dance. I had suggested to Harry, through Jimmy, that maybe it was time for me to move on if there wasn’t any hope of me dancing. “Anyway, I ended up tending bar. So…”

“So it’s not dancing.” He dug one hand into his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of bills. He peeled two hundreds from the roll and pushed them into my hand, folding his hand over my own and closing it when I started to protest.

“But,” I started.

“But nothing. We did a lot in bar sales. You and I both know it was because of you.” He smiled, let go of my hand and stepped back. “It was me, not Harry,” he said.

I fixed my eyes on him. I knew what he might be about to say, but I wanted to be sure.

He sighed. “It was me that put the stop to your dancing. You’re too goddamn good for dancing, Candy. And once you start?” He barked a short, derisive laugh. “The law thing? Right out the window. What’s a cop make anyway in this town? Maybe thirty or forty a year?” He settled onto one of the stools that lined the bar, tossed his hat onto the bar top and patted the stool next to him. He continued talking.

“So, thirty, maybe forty, and what’s a dancer make? I can tell you there are dancers here who make better than one fifty a year. And that’s what I pay them. That’s not the side stuff or tips.” He moved one large hand, fished around behind the bar and came up with a bottle of chilled Vodka from the rack that held it just below eye level. He squinted at the label. “Cherry Surprise,” he questioned in a voice low enough to maybe be just for himself. “This shit any good, Candy?”

“It’s not bad,” I told him. I leaned over the bar and snagged two clean glasses when he asked me, setting them on the bar top. He poured us both about three shots worth. “Jesus, Jimmy.”

He laughed. “Which is why I don’t make drinks. It’d break me.” He sipped at his glass, made a face, but sipped again. I took a small sip of my own drink and settled back onto the bar stool.

“So, I said to myself, smart, beautiful, talented, and you have that something about you that makes men look the second time. You know?” He took another small sip. “Man sees a woman walking down the street or across a crowded dance floor, beautiful or not he looks. That look might be short or it might be long. Depends on the woman. Then he looks away. Does he look back? Not usually. But with you he does. There are women men look at that second time for whatever reason, and you’re one of them. I looked a second time, and then I really looked, for a third time. And I’ve seen a lot. That tattoo makes men and women look again.” His eyes fell on the tattoo that started on the back of my left hand, ran up my arm, across my breasts and then snaked back down over my belly and beyond. I knew it was provocative. That was the rebellious part of me. I had no better explanation for why I had sat, lain, through five months of weekly ink work to get it done.

Jimmy rubbed one huge open palm across the stubble of his cheeks. “Jesus do I need a shave.” He took a large drink from his glass. “It wasn’t the tattoo. It caught my eye, but that wasn’t what made me look that third time.”

“Candy, I took a third look because I saw a young woman that doesn’t need to have anything to do with this world. You’re too goddamn smart, talented, for this. So I said no. I let you dance a few times, but I didn’t want you to fall into it. I made the decision that you should tend bar instead of dance.” He tossed off the glass.

“I see that,” I told him. Although I didn’t completely see it. He was reading a lot about what he thought, what he saw, into who I really was.

“Yeah? I don’t think so, Candy. And that’s a reason right there. Candy… like a treat. When did it become okay for anyone to call you that? Because I remember a few months back when you started hanging around. It was Candace, and pity the dumb bastard who didn’t understand that. Now it’s Candy to any Tom, Dick or Harry that comes along.” He saw the hurt look in my eyes, reached below the bar, snagged the bottle and topped off his glass. I shook my head, covered the top of my glass with my hand and smiled. He put the bottle back and continued.

“I’m not trying to hurt you, only keep you on track. I’m giving you the keys. You drive. All I’m saying is set your ground rules. Make them rigid. Don’t let anyone – me, Harry, these boys that work here, customers – Don’t let anyone cross those lines. You see, Candy?”

I nodded.

“Yeah? Then why not call me on calling you Candy? I’ve done it since we sat down. Why not start there?”

“Well… I mean, you’re the boss, Jimmy.”

“Which is why you start there. I don’t allow anyone to talk anyway to anyone that doesn’t want that. Let me explain that. You got girls that work the streets. You don’t see it so much here. It’s a small city, but it happens. I spent a few years on the streets in Rochester, bigger place, as a kid. Happens all the time there.” He sipped at his drink. I took a sip of my own drink and raised my brows at what he had said.

“Yeah? Don’t believe it? It’s true. I fought my way up. I have respect because I earned it.” He waved one hand. “Don’t let me get off track.” He smiled and took another sip from his glass. “So, I’ve seen girls on the streets… Whores… It is what it is. Would you hear me say that to them? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t. If a woman sees herself as a whore, if that’s all it is, what it is, then who am I to say different? Do you see? It’s a living, or it’s a life… There is a difference. Now back to you. You want to dance. Some of these girls,” he waved one meaty hand at the empty stage area, “work the other side. Some of them do that for me, some do it on their own. Some don’t,” he sighed. “Either way you would not see me treat them any other way than what they want to be treated. I mean that. If you believe you are a whore and that is what you see, then that is what you show the world, and that is how the world sees you… treats you,” he settled his eyes on me.

I nodded. I didn’t trust my voice. I had been down this road on my own. What did it say about me? That it only mattered that I made it? That money mattered more than anything else? Would I be swayed by the money? Was I even being honest with myself about my motivations? I really didn’t know. I knew what I told myself on a daily basis… that I wanted to follow my Father into law enforcement, but was it whimsical like so many other things in my life that I never followed through on?

“You are not just a dancer. There is a part of you that is, a part of you that likes the way a man looks at you, likes the money. But there is another part that is the private you, the real you. You need to keep those distinctions.” He rubbed at his eyes, tossed off the rest of his drink and rose from the bar stool. “Let me drop you home, Candy,” he asked.

I stood, leaving my mostly full drink sitting on the bar top. “I have my car,” I told him.

“It’s late. Creeps around maybe.”

“Jimmy, every creep in my neighborhood knows I work here… for you. Guys stopped talking to me, let alone the creeps.” I laughed, but it wasn’t really all that funny. It had scared me when I realized who Jimmy was, who Jimmy worked for. In effect, who I worked for. Another questionable thing? Probably.

Jimmy nodded. “Smart creeps. The southern Tier’s a big place. Easy to lose yourself, with or without a little help.” He looked at his watch and then fixed his eyes on me once more. “So you keep your perspective, set your limits, draw your lines,” he spoke as he shrugged into his coat, retrieved his hat from the bar top and planted it on his head, “Don’t let nobody cross those lines. You start next week, let’s say the eleventh?”

I nodded.

“Take the balance of the time off. By the time the eleventh comes around you should be ready for a whole new world. A whole new life.” He stood looking down at me for a second. “The big talk I guess. For what it’s worth, I don’t say those things often, Candy.”

I nodded. “I believe that. And, Jimmy?”

He looked down at me. He knew what was coming. He expected it, and that was the only reason I was going to say it. I knew better than to correct Jimmy V. There were a lot of woods up here. They did go on forever and they probably did hold a lot of lost people. I may be slow but I’m far from stupid.

“Please don’t call me Candy,” I told him.

He smiled. “Don’t be so goddamn nice about it. Don’t call me Candy,” he rasped, a dangerous edge to his voice. “Look ’em right in the eye. Don’t call me Candy. Put a little attitude in your look. A little I can fuckin’ snap at any minute attitude. Let me see that.”

I Put my best street face on. The one I had used growing up on the streets in Syracuse. I knew that I can snap at any minute look. I’d used it many times. “Don’t call me Candy,” I told him in a voice that was not my own. My street voice, “Just don’t do it.”

“Goddamn right, Doll,” Jimmy told me. “Goddamn right. Scared me a little there. That’s that street wise part of you.” He took my head in both massive hands, bent and kissed the top of my head. “I will see you on the eleventh,” he told me.

I nodded. I let the Doll remark go.

I followed Jimmy out the back door past Don who nodded at me and winked. Don was an asshole. Always hitting on us when Jimmy wasn’t around. But Jimmy was his uncle. I was employing my best selective perception when I smiled at him. I wondered if I would ever get used to him. Probably not, I decided, but maybe that would be a good thing. Of course, it didn’t matter. I never saw Don again. Or Jimmy. Or anyone else from that life.

I said goodbye to Jimmy V., crossed the parking lot for the last

time and drove myself home. I parked my rusted out Toyota behind my Grandparents house, and twenty four hours later my world, everybody’s world, was completely changed.

Candace ~ March 2nd

This is not a diary. I have never kept a diary. They say never say never, but I doubt I will. I have never been this scared. The whole world is messed up. Is it ending? I don’t know, but it seems like it’s ending here. Earthquakes, explosions. I’ve seen no Police, Fire or emergency people all day. It’s nearly night. I think that’s a bad sign. I have the Nine Millimeter that used to be my Father’s. I’ve got extra ammo too. I’m staying inside.

Candace ~ March 3rd

I lost this yesterday; my little notebook. I left it by the window so I could see to write, but I swear it wasn’t there when I went to get it; then I found it again later on by the window right where I left it. Maybe I’m losing it.

There are no Police, no Firemen, phones, electric. The real world is falling apart. Two days and nothing that I thought I knew is still here. Do you see? The whole world has changed.

I got my guitar out and played it today. I played for almost three hours. I played my stuff. I played some blues. Usually blues will bring me out of blues, but it didn’t work. It sounded so loud, so out of place, so… I don’t know. I just stopped and put it away.

Candace ~ March 4th

I’m going out. I have to see. If I don’t come back. Well… What good is writing this?

Candace ~ March 5th

The whole city has fallen apart. I spent most of yesterday trying to see how bad this is. I finally realized it’s bad beyond my being able to fix it. It’s bad as in there is no authority. It’s bad as in there is no Jimmy V. I hear gunshots at night, all night. And screams. There are still tremors. If I had to guess, I would say it’s the end of the civilized world. Unless things are better somewhere else. I have to believe that. Power, structure, it’s all gone. I mean it’s really all gone. This city is torn up. There are huge areas that are ruined. Gulleys, ravines, missing streets, damaged bridges. The damage costs have to be in the billions… And that’s just here. There’s me and my little notebook I’m writing in, and my nine millimeter. I’ve got nothing else for company right now.

I’ve got water, some peanuts and crackers. How long can this go on? What then?

Candace ~ March 6th

I’ve decided to leave. I can’t stay here. There was a tremor last night, and not one of the really bad ones, but even so I was sure the house would come down on me. It didn’t. Maybe though, that is a sign, I told myself. And scared or not, I have to go. I have to. I can’t stay here. Maybe tomorrow.

Candace ~ March 7th

The streets are a mess. I’ve spent too much of the last week hiding inside my apartment. Most of my friends, and that’s a joke, I didn’t have anyone I could actually call a friend; So I guess I would say most of my acquaintances believed my grandparents were alive and that I lived here with them. They weren’t. I didn’t. I kind of let that belief grow, fostered it, I guess.

I planted the seed by saying it was my Nana Pans’ apartment. You can see the Asian in me, so it made sense to them that she was my Nana. But I look more like I’m a Native American than African American and Japanese. It’s just the way the blood mixed, as my father used to say. But Native American or Asian, they could see it in my face. And this neighborhood is predominantly Asian. Mostly older people. There were two older Asian women that lived in the building. They probably believed one of those women was my Nana, and I didn’t correct them.

I can’t tell you why I did that. I guess I wanted that separation. I didn’t want them, anyone, to get to know me well. My plan had been to dance, earn enough money for school – Criminal Justice – and go back to Syracuse. Pretend none of this part of my life had ever happened. Some plan. It seemed workable. I wondered over what Jimmy V. had said to me. Did he see something in me that I didn’t, or was he just generalizing? It doesn’t matter now I suppose.

My Grandmother passed away two years ago. The apartment she had lived in was just a part of the building that she owned. Nana Pan, my mother’s mother, had rented the rest of the building out. The man who had lived with her was not my Grandfather – he had died before I was born – but her brother who had come ten years before from Japan. They spoke little English. People outside of the neighborhood often thought they were man and wife. She didn’t bother correcting them, my mother had told me. Nana Pan thought that most Americans were superficial and really didn’t care, so what was the use in explaining anything to them? Maybe that’s where I got my deceptiveness from.

I had left the house as it was. Collected rents through an agency. For all anyone knew, I was just another tenant. Of course Jimmy V. had known. He had mentioned it to me. But Jimmy knew everything there was to know about everyone. That was part of his business. It probably kept him alive.

So I stayed and waited. I believed someone would show up and tell me what to do. But no one did. I saw a few people wander by yesterday, probably looking for other people, but I stayed inside. I don’t know why, what all my reasons were. A lot of fear, I think.

There have been earthquakes. The house is damaged. I went outside today and really looked at it. It is off the foundation and leaning. I should have gotten out of it the other night when I knew it was bad. It’s just dumb luck it hasn’t fallen in on me and killed me.

It doesn’t matter now though. I met a few others today, and I’m leaving with them. I don’t know if I’ll stay with them. I really don’t know what to expect from life anymore.

I’m taking this and my gun with me. Writing this made me feel alive. I don’t know how better to say it.

I’ll write more here I think. I just don’t know when, or where I’ll be…

*******

That is a female character written by me, a man. It works because I went with what I knew. I didn’t go for a stereotypical woman, but a woman who is a composite of a few women I have known in my life. She is loosely based on four women. The first and most obvious was a woman whom I met in the early eighties, when I drove a cab for a living. She was a dancer at a little club whom I picked up every early morning and drove back to her hotel room…

*******

The Last Ride is Copyright © 2013 Wendell G. Sweet All rights reserved

*******

THE LAST RIDE

*******

It was early in my shift. I owned my own taxi so I could pretty much pick which 12 hour shift I wanted to drive. I drove nights so that I could be home with my son during the day while my wife worked. I’d told myself for most of the last year that I should stop driving taxi, settle down to a real job and be more responsible. And then a Conrail contract came along and then the opportunity to work with another driver who handled the Airport contract, and suddenly I was making more money than I could have reasonably expected from what I would have considered a straight job.

The hours were long, but there was something that attracted me to the night work. Always had been. Like my internal clock was Set to PM. It just seemed to work and after a few failed attempts to work day shift work, I gave it up and went to work full time nights.

I was never bored. The nights kept me awake and interested. They supplied their own entertainment. Conrail crews, regulars that called only for me, the assorted funny drunks late at night when the bars were closing. Soldiers on their way back to the nearby base, and a dancer at a small club just off downtown that had been calling for me personally for the last few weeks. Using my cab as a dressing room on the way back to her hotel. It was always something different.

Days, the few times I’d driven days, couldn’t compare. Sure, there was violence too but it rarely came my way and never turned into a big deal when it did.

It was Friday night, one of my big money nights, about 7:00 P.M. and my favorite dispatcher, Smitty, had just come on. He sent me on a call out State street that would terminate downtown. Once I was downtown, I could easily pick up a GI heading back to the base for a nice fat fare and usually a pretty good tip. My mind was on that. My mind was also on that dancer who would be calling sometime after two AM, and who had made it clear that I was more than welcome to come up to her room. It was tempting, I’ll admit it, and each time she called she tempted me more. I figured it was just a matter of time before I went with her.

I really didn’t see the lady when she got into my car, but when it took her three times to get out the name of the bar downtown that she wanted to go to, I paid attention.  Drunk. It was early too. Sometimes drunks were OK, but most times they weren’t. This one kept slumping over, slurring her words, nearly dropping her cigarette. I owed the bank a pile of money on the car and didn’t need burn holes in my back seat.

I dropped the flag on the meter, pulled away from the curbing and eased into traffic. Traffic was heavy at that time and I pissed off more than a few other drivers as I forced my way into the traffic flow. I had just settled into the traffic flow when a glance into the rear view mirror told me my passenger had fallen over. I couldn’t see the cigarette but I could still smell it. I made the same drivers even angrier as I swept out of the traffic flow and angled up onto the sidewalk at the edge of the street. I got as far out of the traffic flow as I could get so I could get out to see what was up with the woman in the back seat.

I was thinking  drunk  at the time, but the thought that it could be something more serious crept into my head as I made the curb, bumped over it, set my four way flashers and climbed out and went around to the back door.

She was slumped over into the wheel well, the cigarette smoldering next to her pooled, black hair.  In her hair  I realized as the smell of burning hair came to me. I snatched the cigarette and threw it out then shook her shoulder to try and bring her around. But it was obvious to me, just that fast, that the whole situation had changed. She wasn’t breathing.

I reached in, caught her under the arms, and then suddenly someone else was there with me.

He was a short, thin man wearing a worried look up on his face. Dark eyes sat deeply in their sockets. His hair hung limply across his forehead. He squeezed past me and looked down at the woman. He pushed her eyelids up quickly, one by one, and then held his fingers to her lips. He frowned deeply and flipped the hair away from his forehead.

“Paramedic”, he told me as he took her other arm and helped me pull her from the back seat.

We laid her out on the sloping front lawn of the insurance company I had stopped in front of and he put his head to her chest.

He lifted his head, shaking it as he did. “Call an ambulance,” he said tersely.

I could feel the shift in his demeanor. He wasn’t letting me know he could handle the situation, like when he told me he was a paramedic, he  was  handling it. I got on the radio and made the call.

The ambulance got there pretty fast. I stood back out of the way and let them work on her, raising my eyes to the backed up traffic on occasion. The paramedic had torn open her shirt. Her nudity seemed so out of place on the city sidewalk. Watching the traffic took the unreal quality of it away from me. I watched the ambulance pull away, eased my car down off the curb and back into the sluggish traffic and went back to work.

I got the story on her about midnight once things slowed down and I stopped into the cab stand to talk to the dispatcher for a short while. His daughter knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone at the hospital. The woman had taken an overdose. Some kind of pills. It was going to be touch and go. He also had a friend in the police department too. She did it because of a boyfriend who had cheated on her. It seemed so out of proportion to me. I went back to work but I asked him to let me know when he heard more.

2:30 AM:

The night had passed me by. The business of the evening hours catching me up for a time and taking me away from the earlier events. I was sitting downtown in my cab watching the traffic roll by me. It was a beautifully warm early morning for Northern New York. I had my window down letting the smell of the city soak into me, when I got the call to pick up my dancer with the club gig.

“And, Joe,” Smitty told me over the staticy radio, ” your lady friend didn’t make it.”

It was just a few blocks to the club. I left the window down enjoying the feeling of the air flowing past my face. The radio played Steely Dan’s  Do It Again  and I kind of half heard it as I checked out the back seat to see if the ghost from the woman earlier might suddenly pop up there.

The dancer got in and smiled at me. I smiled back but I was thinking about the other woman,  the woman who was now dead, sitting in that same place a few hours before. The dancer began to change clothes as I drove to her hotel.

“You know,” she said, catching my eyes in the mirror. “I should charge you a cover. You’re seeing more than those GI’S in the club.” She shifted slightly, her breasts rising and falling in the rear view mirror. We both laughed. It was a game that was not a game. She said it to me every time. But, my laugh was hollow. Despite her beauty I was still hung up on someone being alive in my back seat just a few hours before and dead now. Probably being wheeled down to the morgue were my friend Pete worked. I made myself look away and concentrate on the driving. She finished dressing as I stopped at her hotel’s front entrance.

“You could come up… If you wanted to,” she said. She said it lightly, but her eyes held serious promise.

“I’d like to… But I better not,” I said.

She smiled but I could tell I had hurt her feelings. It was a real offer, but I couldn’t really explain how I felt. Why I couldn’t. Not just because I was married, that was already troubled, but because of something that happened earlier.

I drove slowly away after she got out of the cab and wound up back downtown for the next few hours sitting in an abandoned buildings parking lot thinking… ” I was only concerned about her cigarette burning the seats.”

I smoked while I sat, dropping my own cigarettes out the window and onto the pavement. A short while later Smitty called me with a Conrail trip. I started the cab and drove out to Massey yard to pick up my crew. The dancer never called me again…

*******

The dancer is not the complete focus of that story. Two different women take the focus, the one that dies and the dancer. The dancer was where I went for my first look at Candace. For the purposes of the story I didn’t go into a lot of detail about the dancer, but you could assume that I had been picking her up every night for quite some time and that we probably had conversations and you would be right. What I got was the sense of a woman who did what she had the ability to do. Not because she was a whore, or a slut, or a loose woman, but because she wanted to live. Yes, she offered more than conversation and I turned her down, on another night I wouldn’t have turned her down most likely. That fact doesn’t make her or me either saints or sinners, just human beings. She seemed honest, unapologetic for the life she lived, I loved that. She was not pretentious, she was simply alive and living. She was great as my initial Base for Candace.

My second mold was my mother who has worked hard all of her life. She has been afraid in situations I am sure, but she always did what she had to to get by or survive and take care of myself and my siblings. That is real, not a composite, and I wanted Candace to have strength like that. I have met other women with that strength too. It is something I admire, something I think is sometimes lacking in female characters, so I wanted my Candace character to have it.

My third mold was my first girlfriend. Maybe in my head, we never actually made it official, but she was a funny person. Bold. Unafraid of life. She went for the things she saw that she wanted in life. She kept a positive outlook. She didn’t let the fact that she was a woman slow her down. I remember falling in love with her about three minutes after I met her. She was just an awesome person and she happened to be a woman too. One of the first women in my life that made me stop looking at women in a stereotypical way. I wanted Candace to have that strength.

My last mold was a buddies wife. I got to know her a little, and one night when we were drinking she told me a story about her life…

*******

Lyrics Copyright © Wendell G. Sweet 2011 ♪ ♫ ♪ Date Written;01-24-2011

Song Title: Vegas Style: Alt

Intro

It’s snowing in Watertown… Kat’s packing the car with Jo Jo… They’re leaving for the promise of a better life… Someplace…

Instrumental ———————————— Small Lead transition into song tempo —————-

Verse 1

They left the small town for Las Vegas… Kat she wants to see new places… Run the bases… And Jo Jo’s born to be told, you can tell… He takes her west where the snow never fell

But there ain’t no easy life in Vegas, it’s just a little brighter than some of the other places… Times are tough… You can see it in the faces… When’s enough enough? And who decides? It’s tough…

Instrumental ——————————————Small Transition —————————————

Hook #1

The pretty lights will make you blind… to the things you got to do. So you put them out of mind…

Someday, you know, you got to get wise… Time keeps slippin’ by… You fall through the cracks if you don’t compromise…

Verse 2

Time goes by and they find themselves sleeping in the car. Kat, she finds a job dancing at a bar, and Jo Jo fills in pouring drinks most nights… But he… Hates the dancing. Hates the men.. Hates the life…

And some days Kat’s thoughts are so black, all she can think about is going back… Promises… You know they don’t amount to jack when life ends up like this… When it… moves past promises…

Instrumental—————————— Long Lead ———————————————————-

Verse 3

Jo Jo ain’t got much to say… Feels like he… Pissed his life away… Wakes up to do the Jo Jo show… Believes that’s just the way that life goes…

He’s just trying to make his way through it all… Waiting for the curtain to fall… But maybe it fell and he’s just waitin’ on last call… Hard to tell.. Maybe it’s just as well…

Instrumental —————————————–Small Transition —————————————

Hook #2

The pretty lights don’t seem so bright when you’re working through the long night to the gray daylight…

And sometimes all you want to do is pack it in… But life here beats you down so hard… Don’t know where to start…

Instrumental—————————– Short lead transition ———————————————–

Verse 4

Kat, she sleeps through the day… Gets up for work and dances the night away… Walk this way… Slide down the pole… Some days it’s like it’s all she knows…

Just smiling her way through it all… Listening… Waiting on the curtain call… Sometimes she wonders is it her last curtain call? It’s all numbers… Still she wonders…

Instrumental —————————————Small Transition —————————————

Hook #1

The pretty lights will make you blind… to the things you got to do. So you put them out of mind…

Someday, you know, you got to get wise… Time keeps slippin’ by… You fall through the cracks if you don’t compromise…

Instrumental—————–Transition to end –slower —————————————————

Xtro

And it’s raining… In Vegas… As they make their way home… Still looking for the promise of a better life…. Someday….

Why I Wrote It:

(Note: Additional work 05-15-11 / 05-16-11 There is music for this written in C)

I knew a girl who lived that life. She left Watertown and ended up working in a bar. One night, over thirty years ago, she told me about it. I remembered that conversation and wrote the song about it.

Jo Jo is modeled after me. The aimless life I used to live. I put the two things together and wrote the song…

*******

That was my last piece for Candace. I made those connections in the blink of an eye. I didn’t have to explain them or show you the work that lead me to them, but it will be the same for you when you get there I am sure. The thing is to delve into your life. What was your mother/father/aunt/uncle/ex-wife/husband/minister/boyfriend like? Write it. Remember, characters that are non typical are more realistic in the long run. They are also more interesting to the reader, I think, and as you personalize them you base them on your own history and so they take on the characteristics that women or men you have known possessed, and they also become much easier to write because you know them.

Another problem is we sometimes let a friend or family member read our work and we don’t get the response we hoped to get from that friend or family member.

I gave a copy of my first book to every family member that I could find. A month later I wrote and said, “Excuse me, but have you had time to read my book yet? I put a lot into it and I think it’s good and I would really, really like to have your opinion.” I waited but not a single person wrote back. Huh, I thought. I must really suck very badly. I reminded them a month or so later “Hey! Me again. Just wondering if you read my book yet. Let me know!” Nothing.

Well I’ll be damned, I thought. I knew I wasn’t the greatest of writers, but I have read published stuff far worse than what I write, and besides, I poured my heart and soul into it.

I realized then that you have to find your audience. And your audience is there. They don’t know you yet, and you don’t know them yet, but they are there. They are there sitting patiently and waiting for you to publish that book so they can fall right into it.

Did you notice that I went to my humor well and injected a little humor into my re-telling of passing books out to my entire family and not one reading it or commenting? As you can imagine I was crushed. But I learned from it. I realized that my family didn’t write the book. They had no emotional attachment to it, so I went ahead and published it and not long after I got some of the real feedback I needed. I found people that liked it. Still do like it, and identify with the characters. Of course I found people that hate it, hate the style of writing, and that is to be expected also. My point is I based my faith in my ability on me, no one else. Yes, it was good to get feedback, and I took some it and rejected other parts of it, but the main thing was to get it into my head that I had to like it first. If I didn’t like it, believe in it, have faith in it, then it was dead already. Might as well bury it.

Again, we are not on impossible ground, we just have to know where we are. No body gets to go through life without being smacked around a little. Either life does it to you or other people do it to you. Sometimes it can destroy you if you allow it to, other times it hurts, makes you cry, but you pick yourself up and get your ass back in gear and go. You learn from it. That lesson is usually like this: “Wait a second, goddammit. Did I do anything to deserve getting used like that? No!” or “Does he/she really hate me? Why? What did I do?” And that might go on a little but you will come to the realization that you didn’t do anything at all. You were just you and some people like you and some people don’t. Before you know it you meet a woman/man that does like you as you are, does accept you. Maybe that takes some time, but as long as you don’t stop looking you find out how to be you and be liked. It is that simple. And you know what? It might not be five thousand people that like you. It might be five million, it might be less. But when you learn that, you now have a well to draw from. That is the same well you should go to for the basis of your confidence in yourself as a writer.

The reasoning is clear. You may live, as I do, in a small town/village. Things in a small place are small, small post office. Smaller roads, smaller school. But in another way that is all dead. With the advent of the internet that has all opened up. The world, literally, is right there at your fingertips. And how many people, do you suppose, are similar to you in your likes and dislikes? Millions? Thousands? A million? A million people out of the entire world is a small number. I would say it is safe to assume that there are a million people out there that would like your writing if you can get it to them. That is your strength. You have been down that road, all the way down that road, you know there are people who do like you, now apply it world wide and you can see what you have. Another well of strength to draw from.

Now that doesn’t mean all of those people are ever going to know about you. They might not, but if you never publish your work they will never have that opportunity and that would be a loss for you and for them. So go to that well where you have that emotion stored from that time you were rejected, put down, passed over, and then go to that other well of strength you used to get past that. Maybe the Bible, Quran, prayer, friendship, something inside that you can’t even explain. Whatever it is go to it. Tell your self that you personally have that faith in yourself. Believe it.

Last words: Family. Family is what we have to turn to for our strength usually, right? Not always. We turn there but it doesn’t always help, in fact sometimes it hurts. They seem to be more hypercritical of us that anyone else, or, they never read that book you sent them. Jesus went back to Nazareth to preach and was rejected there among his own people. They said, paraphrased, “What is this? This guy is a carpenters son, he’s not a prophet or a God or a messiah.” They rejected what he had to say. How many writers have you read that said their families encouraged them and read their work? Not many. Not many because it didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean they hate you, or your work. If it was someone else who published it and they read it they might even like it, but it wasn’t someone else it was you. And you are Mary’s/Bob’s/John’s kid. “Yeah, I went to school with you., You aren’t a writer, you work down at the Walmart, right?” And there you go.

So don’t look for what isn’t there. If you get that support great, but it isn’t a given and you shouldn’t let it impact you negatively if you don’t find it. Go to that well of strength and get what you need, and then publish your work.

Works and People mentioned here:

Jean Auel

The Dreamer’s Worlds Book

The First Earths Survivors book

Billy Jingo

True Stories From A Small Town #1 (Last Ride Excerpt)

I hope you enjoyed and learned from this. Please check out my sponsors and I will be back soon… Dell.


Fat men like me

Posted by Geo 12-22-2016

Okay, today I wanted to talk about a very sensitive subject, fat. Being a fat guy myself I completely understand the problems that fat men face. So today I have some tips that I hope will help you as much as they have helped me. As usual I would like to handle what I have to say with sensitivity and empathy but we all know I probably wont. Just please don’t write and tell me I am mean to fat people, I am one, so the rule I am one so I can say what ever the hell I want to is in effect.

First thing: The biggest problem we have is eating those extra things that we just shouldn’t eat. Passing by the toaster before bed when it is whispering things like “Real Butter” or “You can make toasted cheese like sandwiches in the toaster! No, Really. Toast the bread, throw the cheese on it and then nuke it in the microwave.” or even “The wife hid the doughnuts behind the coffee maker!” Or maybe opening the refrigerator door to get that diet coke you waited all day for and seeing that there is a half of pizza left over from the pool party the kids had. And you can smell the sausage… The pepperoni… And it is so hard to resist it. Well, there are alternatives. My first alternative I like to call To Hell With It.

To Hell With It is a novel approach to dieting. It assumes that no matter what you do you will get fat anyway so why not just say To Hell With it? I mean, after all, did you really think that cute chick that you see every morning at the Stop and Gas really digs you? Or would if you could lose three hundred pounds? No. Stop fooling yourself. She is probably barely holding on to that job as she spends her nights being a crack whore. Barely getting those cravings into check in time to make it to the store so she can sell your fat ass a box of doughnuts every morning. No. Give up the dream. She will never notice you and if she did, it would probably be one of those drying out stages where she realizes she hasn’t eaten in the last three weeks and starts to wonder if maybe you might not taste good with a little salt and a pinch of garlic powder.

So now that you have set your sites a little lower, lets adjust our attitude and learn to live with the fat instead of fighting it all of the time. There are tons of very good looking women that are, shall we say, not skinny? Yes. We’ll say that, because I don’t see where it would benefit us to have a bunch of fat women writing to us to complain about our insensitivity to their situation, when actually we are very sensitive to it. So open your eyes, unless the lids are too fat, then you can use tape to keep them up. In any case, get them open and look around you. The world is full of opportunities for you just the way they are.

The second option is to actually buckle under and diet. I don’t like this option at all. This option leaves no other options and I find that completely unreasonable. I mean, how can there be no options? This isn’t Russia, is it? I’m not a man living in the mountains who has just come of age and was promised at birth to my cousin Edwina, am I? No. So there must be options. And choosing between a sensible salad and a carrot stick … WHOO WHO! … Is not an option. Choosing between a lettuce sandwich and a Quarter Pound burger, now that’s an option. So really the option part comes before this, diet or no diet and we have already made that decision so to hell with spending time on this.

So no diet it is and full steam ahead with no diet. After all fat is stored energy, that’s all it is. Do skinny people make good lovers? We’ll never know because they run out of energy too fast. No stores! And if the zombie Apocalypse happens tomorrow? Skinny folks are screwed. They will already be half starved, low on energy, meanwhile us fat guys will be like, … “Hey, get the hell out of my way! It’s dinner time you $%%## A$%%$# What the $$%$## did you think you were doing trying to %$%$## eat me? … Zombies or skinny people we’ll just knock them all right out of the way. And truthfully, in the end? I think the zombies will be screwed too. When a fat man gets hungry he’s hungry. If it’s between me and a zombie I’m winning. Simple as that. I will learn how to make me some Zombie Burgers with fries. So we live with our fatness and we adapt.

Say you went out on a date with a skinny woman and she doesn’t want you the way you are? Her loss. Leaves all that much more for you to eat. Really. Order a second desert. Laugh loud at the movie. Eat all the popcorn. Who cares. Make jokes though to put her at ease. A good one I like to use is, “You know if ass sold by the pound you’d be broke!” This will make her feel more at ease with her skinniness. She will realize that you see her for just what she is. Not a piece of meat. Not an object. Just a woman that does not belong in your world. And don’t be a dick. Offer to pay for both of you. After all how much could she have eaten?

Another problem is clothing. For the fat man it isn’t all that easy to get dressed in the morning. Well you’ll be glad to know I have solved that problem too. You actually have a few options. My option of first choice is the sweat pant option. Sweatpants are great. Stretchy band. Hey they’re sweat pants so it does count toward a workout. And unlike the old days, manufacturers are aware that we wear these for everyday clothes so they come in all sorts of styles now. Striped, piping down the legs. Matching tops, Hell even matching footwear! You can look damn smart in these clothes, attend a local luncheon, shop at your local Walmart. What else do you need to do? And best of all, they are like an expensive hotel, big ball room.

But for those days where you do need a second option, I would like to recommend the stretchy jean. These are great. They look like jeans but they will stretch right across that XXX ass like they were painted on. No really. I’ve seen them. They do look painted on.

And for those of you who are a little less adventurous? Coveralls. These things are great too. Just throw on a T-Shirt and a pair of boxers and then slip inside the coverall. They come in all sizes, so fit is not a problem. Feeling a little wild? Go commando! Who’ll know? Tug that zipper up and your finished. Set for the day. They have plenty of pockets. They give you the appearance of actually working, so no more heckling from your girlfriends parents … “Get a job you fat bastard!” And they come in a array of stylish fashions and fabric finishes. What I like about them is that they make a great throw cover for the couch to keep that pesky cat hair off it when I’m not wearing them..

Solving Common Problems: Bending over to tie your shoes in the morning.

Now this is a tough deal. The problem is that you have become so fat that you can not bend over to tie your shoes without either crapping your pants or running out of breath and passing out. The problem is that there is simply too much fat crammed into a very small space, IE: your rib cage and your lap. So when you try to bend over that fat just crushes up against your lungs and you can’t breath. Or it presses right down on your lower intestines and, well, we know the deal there don’t we.

Fortunately there is a solution for this that works every time without crapping your pants or passing out from loss of air and tumbling forward onto the floor where you are at the mercy of your pets, who could think that this is the end and eat you. Sure, laugh, but many fat people have been eaten by their trusted pets once they became incapacitated.

Okay. This is a three part exercise designed to help you with this problem. I myself practice this method every morning and have had excellent results both with tying my shoes (Or slipping the shoe on if you have given up on laces as most of us have. For this demonstration we will use the lace method of putting on the shoes.)

Okay, first, firmly grasp your left thigh and push it over to the left, and then repeat this same exercise on the right side. What you should have now is your belly, unsupported by your lap, swinging free and threatening to crush your man parts. No worries. Arch your back and lean back as far as you can on your comfortable couch. This should allow you to reach the waist band of your trousers. Firmly grasp the button or clasp and wrench it free. This may be difficult to do as it may have retreated into the flab of your belly, but a bit of searching should turn it up. Now be aware that as you release this dam of flesh there may be some rolling and excessive movement. You will have to ride that out. When it has ceased movement you will find that you now have a much greater range of forward movement, and you should be able to easily bend and tie your shoes with no further problems.

Caution: Upon completion do not attempt to refasten your trousers while in the sitting position. Now that you have tied your shoes, simply stand and then safely re-clasp the button or clasp on your trouser tops. At this time if you have a belt that you have removed, it would be safe to once again attach it. Always check to make sure you have not damaged your man parts at this time, and of course be careful that there are no small pets or children around that could be injured by the length of the belt swinging freely as you reinsert it through the loops of your trousers.

Hailing a Cab: Cab companies have phone numbers. They have them for a reason so that you can call them and ask them to come and get you wherever you are at. This is great, because if you try hailing a cab the driver will pretend he or she didn’t see you, like that’s possible. And you will not be able to chase them because you are lucky you got up, got your trousers on and out to the street and still had breath left. You will never catch that cab and that cab driver will go have lunch with his friend and laugh about how the fat guy couldn’t catch him or her. Bastards! So call. This way there I not a damn thing the cab driver can do. When they ask for their tip? Tell them to get an AllState agent.

Okay. I hope that I have helped some of my fellow fat men in the world. I would just add that women are attracted to fat men. No really. I’m a writer, it’s my job to know these things. So don’t worry about whether women find you attractive or if it is only your dog/cat/hamster. I mean, does a dog hump the leg of someone they don’t like? No.

Okay. That is me for today. Check out the Earth’s Survivors SE 1 eBook, now available for I Tunes. I hope you are all doing well. I will be back soon…

Earth’s Survivors SE 1

Dell Sweet

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

Earth’s Survivors SE 1 contains the complete text from the first two Earth’s Survivors books, Apocalypse and Rising From The Ashes. It also includes bonus material, a complete major character bibliography, plus information from the series and the future plans for the series. Save when you buy both books at once and get more of what you want…
The Series follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in desperate struggle to survive. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule.
The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise.
Los Angeles: Billy and Beth start out with a small group and wind up on their own as they make their way across America trying to find others and safety.
Manhattan: Adam leaves the safety of his apartment to find his way out the dying Manhattan, gathering others as he makes his way.
Old Towne New York: Conner is alone for the first few weeks, but then he finds Katie and a reason to live again. They set out to survive and find much more than survival.
Watertown New York: Mike Collins goes to sleep thinking about his first vacation in many years that he will start in the morning. He awakens to destruction.
The Earth’s Survivors series of books follow the people that survive and set out to rebuild their lives. At first hoping only to make it day by day, but ultimately looking to the future and rebuilding a society where fear does not rule…

…More

Have a great week and I’ll be back next weekend…


Settlement Earth

12-21-16

Good Morning. Christmas is nearly upon us and that means a new year is on the way too. Thanks for stopping by here, it is appreciated, and I hope you keep this place on your list of places to visit in 2017. Here is a free preview of Settlement Earth from W. W. Watson. There are links at the end to the other two books, and to get the first book free. Hope your holiday is a good one, Dell…

Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book One

Created by W. W. Watson

PUBLISHED BY: W. W. Watson on Smashwords

Earth’s Survivors Settlement Earth: Book One

Copyright © 2010 – 2013 by W. W. Watson & independAntwriters Publishing All rights reserved

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

………………………………………………….

“Well, Ira, what do you think?” the figure beside him asked.

Ira and Cora were walking through a field of tall grass somewhere in Oklahoma. The figure, that Ira perceived as a man who resembled his father, and Cora perceived as an older woman who resembled her long dead mother, walked beside them through the tall grass.

The air was warm.A light breeze touched the tops of the grass as it moved around them and through the field.

“I need to tell you of something that will soon come to pass,” the figure said, he paused briefly. “Do you accept me as God? The figure looked from one to the other as it asked the question.

“Absolutely,” Ira said, almost at the same time that Cora did. “Why? What else would you be?” Ira asked, with a trace of fear in his voice.

“Ira, my question was not meant to alarm you. Only to remind you of what I have shown you. Do you remember the man that was brought before me from the pit?”

“Why of course, Lord,” Ira replied. “It was Satan himself. Terrible,” Ira said as he shook his head. “That thing was Satan, wasn’t it, Lord?”

“Well, he has other names, Ira, but for you that is who he was. He is evil never doubt that, but he can come in many shapes, many forms. The man-creature you saw was how he chose to reveal himself to you, but you must be careful, he can take any shape, human; animal, and some you would not be able to look upon. Do you understand?”

“Not completely, Lord, but if you’re telling me avoid him, you needn’t worry. I don’t want nothin’ to do with him. He scares me, to be honest, Lord. Is that a bad thing?”

“No, Ira that is not a bad thing, in fact it is a good thing. The reason I reminded you, is not to set your heart to worry.”

Ira looked over at Cora. They had apparently stopped at some point in the conversation, he realized, and Cora was sitting on a large boulder, looking out over the field, seemingly unaware of their conversation.

“Do not be concerned,” the older man beside him said. “She is still walking beside me through the field. She needs to be told of the things that will soon come to pass as you do. She is well. Satan does not want that to be so, but the stars are not his to hold. Neither the Earth nor any of which you know, Ira. They are mine. They and all which are contained within them, and I love them. Do you wonder where a lie is born? Or where it came from?”

“Well… of course, Lord, from Satan, in the garden,” Ira said, and continued. “Course he was a serpent, and was made to crawl on his belly fer it, right?”

“Yes, Ira, but I mean the first, the beginning of the lie,” the older man said.

“I don’t get it, Lord,” Ira replied and wrinkled his brow before he continued. “He was sin, wasn’t he, and all sin came from him, right?”

“Only after a fashion…” the older man said.He paused before he continued. “Deceit is mine as well. It is a thing that was necessary to have. What He did was to embrace it and call it his own. But it was I who allowed it to be embraced. I knew that it would be as such. I knew, as well, that there would be others who would embrace it, but it was still a necessary thing.”

The older man paused as if in thought, and then continued.

“If you accept me as your God and as the creator of all that is and is to come, then you must accept the lie as mine as well. Do you understand, Ira?”

“I can’t say as I ever looked at it quite that way,” Ira said, and then continued, “but yes, I do, Lord.”

“I knew that you would see, Ira.” The older man said.

“It is not my wish to allow him dominion over this world or any other. While it is true that I told him I would abide him for three score, the speaking of those words did not in themselves make a truth…”

“…He has now a child which he has taken from among my own people. He believes the child is his, to do with as he pleases, and it pleases him to place him high above the world and all people. To rule them, Ira, to be his son, and to sit at his side on my throne, as a God.”

“He dreams of greatness, but he is small and pitiful. And he believes the child will be great and powerful, for that is the lie. He has deceived himself in his belief that it was He that created evil… For even evil is mine,” he paused. “Is it clear to you, Ira?”

The kindly, older man turned his eyes to Ira.

“Yes, Lord, it is. But if you didn’t intend to allow him to rule the Earth why did you turn him loose?”

“Choice, Ira. My people must be free to choose the path they wish to follow. Even him, your Satan. The path that he has chosen is evil, just as the ones he has called to him have chosen the same path. Your choice was to follow the path of truth, was it not?”

“Yes, Lord, it was,” Ira replied.

“His, and those that surround him, had the same choice to make. They chose the path of evil. It is that simple, Ira. He believes he has three score to prepare for the battle, but I have used his own device against him. That is the lie. I will not allow the time he thinks he has.” The older man paused before continuing.

“The battle will come soon, but the outcome is not assured. The outcome depends upon the path of truth. I can only supply it. I will not suffer any to tread it unless it is their choice.”

“Michael is preparing for the Great Battle,” he continued. “He has assembled those who have traveled the path of truth for the fight, but Michael will not lead in this world, he is unable. It is a circumstance I do not wish, yet one I have created.”

Ira looked at him with confusion in his eyes.

“My words are not meant to confuse, only to make you aware of a need. Someone must lead, Ira. Someone must lead who has no doubt. You are my child, Ira, yet it is you I would ask to lead.”

Ira opened his eye’s wide, as he spoke.

“But I can’t, Lord; I mean I will, but…How? I’m a man, Lord; I ain’t even an Angel, who would listen to me? I ain’t sure if I’d know how to fight, or even who, or where… Who would follow me?”

“Ira,” the older man said gently. “It matters not at all that you are only a man, and you will have little use of any army, or any angel. You will only need your heart and what it contains. That and nothing more. The armies are not upon the lands of the Earth, they are only within the spirit of the people. The evil one has his army unto himself, but only in spirit as well. They draw no breath, as you do. He may convince them that they do, but I assure you they do not. He draws no breath himself, though he believes that he breaths. He is insubstantial, Ira. He is a means to an end and nothing more. Nevertheless, he will find those that still draw breath, to fight his battles upon the land, as you yourself will find those who would oppose him. He will know of you, and he will become aware of the lie. I wish him to know, I do not wish him to succeed however. I would wish that he had stayed within the pit, but some wished for his release and the choice must be allowed. It is a promise to all that I love, that they may have a choice. And many wish to follow his path, so it must be allowed for the sake of the promise, Ira.”

“But still, Lord, who will follow me?” Ira asked.

“Did not many follow another? Who was also a man?” the older man asked.

“But, Lord,” Ira said, “he was your son.”

“Are you any less my son, Ira? Any less my own child?” the older man questioned as he took Ira’s hand into his own and continued to speak. “Are you any less worthy to be my son? No, Ira, you are not unworthy. You are my son, as Cora is my daughter, as Adam and Eve were also my children, and as even the one you think of as Satan is my own child. All are my children, Ira, the good as well as the bad. They all came from me and they shall all return to me in the end. It is my desire that you lead. That you bring the remainder of my children who wish to be with me to me. They will need to make the choice. Some have already made it, although they do not believe they have. Will you, Ira?”

“I’ll go, Lord, I can’t say that I’ll go without some fear though. I ain’t afraid of dying, but I’m afraid of failing you, Lord,” Ira lowered his head into his hands, and rubbed his temples. “I just think that you could do a whole lot better, Lord, is all. But if I’m it, I’ll go, and I’ll do the best I kin.” Ira finished speaking, and raised his eyes to the older man beside him.

“Ira…You are the best. There are none that would be better, or could be. You must remember that I made you. Everything I make is the best it can be. Nothing is imperfect, even the evil one you call Satan.” the older man stared deeply into Ira’s eyes before he continued. “He will, of course, try to kill you. You have life now, and will always have it, but he will try to kill your body.”

“I kind’a figured that, Lord…Will he?”

“Ira, it is not a thing that you need to concern yourself with. Do you think you can be killed? Has not your body been killed before, and yet you still live, and draw breath? Do you think he can do more to you?”

Ira shook his head, as he spoke. “I’m not afraid of death, Lord. I can’t rightly say I want to die either, but if it happens, I kin get through it, Lord. I kin still pray to you, can’t I?”

“Of course, Ira,” the older man said. “I will go with you as I will also ride with Michael to defeat the armies of evil. I do not wish to speak with words that confuse you, Ira. I will be there if you need me. Do not doubt that.”

“Will Cora be with me, Lord?” Ira asked.

“She will be with me, Ira, and I shall be with you. We will await your return. Come, it grows late.”

Ira looked towards the sky, and saw that it was true, the light blue of the sky had phased to a deep indigo as they had talked. Cora still sat upon the rock. Tears streaked her face as she stared into the setting sun.

“Go to her, Ira,” the older man said, “she waits for you. There is time for you, and you will draw strength from her. I shall leave for a time, and then return to take you to begin your journey.”

Ira turned his eyes back to the older man, but he was no longer there. He walked towards Cora, lifted her from the rock, and held her.

“I understand, Ira,” she said, as he brushed the tears from her cheeks. “Make love to me?”

Ira took her into his arms, kissed her, and after they lay down upon the soft grass he made love to her, and then held her gently as they talked.

“I will be with you,” she said. “I’ll always be with you, my love.”

Ira kissed her. “Cora, I love you too.It won’t be long, and then I’ll be back, Honey.”

The older man walked slowly towards them across the field. “I have to go now, Honey.” Ira said. He kissed her good bye.

Cora stood in the field with the older woman and watched him walk off towards the setting sun. He seemed to slowly fade away as he walked, until he was no more.

“Cora?” the older woman asked, “would you like to walk with me?”

“I would,” she replied. “Will I see him soon, Lord?” she asked as they began to walk through the tall grass.

“Look into your heart, Cora, he has never left you,” the woman replied.

They walked through the grass in silence, a peaceable contenting silence. They crested a small hill, and looked down upon a wide green valley. A blue river snaked its way through the valley, and horses grazed upon the grass. Buffalo grazed contentedly beside them, as the sun rode low on the horizon. The older woman spoke, as they stopped at the crest.

“This is the land that I promised to, Ira,” she said. “He chose it himself as we walked one day. I wanted to bring you here to prepare it for him, so that it will be ready when he returns. Are you pleased, Cora?”

“It’s beautiful,” she cried, as she looked out over the valley. “But how will I prepare it, lord?” she asked as she turned towards the older woman.

“You will not be alone, Cora, I will help you,” the older woman said, as she smiled. “Can you swing an axe, or pound a nail?”

“Course I kin,” Cora replied, returning the smile, “I learned when I was little, but you know that, Lord.”

“Well,” the older woman said, as she began to roll up the sleeves of the old fashioned dress she wore. “I guess we better get to it, Cora. Let’s see, a house, a barn, maybe a couple of fences, that about it?”

“I never built anything from the ground up, Lord,” Cora replied.

“Well I guess then, that it is time to learn. Come on child, let’s pick a place to build the house,” the older woman said as she took Cora’s hand in her own and started down the hill.

The two women walked down the hill in the direction of the river holding hands. When they reached the bottom, Cora broke into a run. A smile lit her face as she ran through the tall grass towards the river. She spun around like a small child and turned towards the older woman.

“Come on!” she called, smiling. “It’s so beautiful.” She spun again and skipped off into the tall grass, as the older woman smiled back and began to follow.

……………………………………………..

I hope you enjoyed this peek at Settlement Earth. You can only get these books from Smashwords and Smashwords re-sellers like, NOOK, I Tunes, KOBO and other fine booksellers.

Smashwords:

Book One: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360313

Book Two: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360317

Book Three: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/360319

Series Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/7285


Geo’s dystopian Earth’s survivors World Order

Geo 12-20-16

Tuesday all day today. I had heard rumors that it might be switched over to Wednesday mid-day, but it sounds as though that plan was scrubbed and we will be sticking to Tuesday all day long. What a bummer… Today we will delve into the Dystopian world of the Earth’s survivors. So gather around Preppers and read you some of this, a free preview of World Order Book Seven in the Earth’s survivors series….

The weather here is cold, but not too far below normal temps. The temperatures are scheduled to rise back up to the normal range for this time of year, 30’s some time tomorrow. My brother down in Alabama wrote to tell me, after me complaining about the cold weather, that the temperatures in Central Alabama had dropped to 71 and they had a brief shower that had caused his foot to become wet through his sandal. Ahh, smart-assery runs in the family, doesn’t it.

I lived in Alabama for several years and went through many Hurricanes, twice my first year, that nearly sent me scurrying back to New York. Rough stuff and the folks down there take it in stride same as we do these freak storms and frigid air.

Here’s that look at World Order, and a link at the end to get a longer preview free…

………………………………………

EARTH’S SURVIVORS: WORLD ORDER

Copyright 2016 Dell Sweet

Earth’s Survivors: WORLD ORDER is Copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet

Additional Copyrights © 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016 by Wendell Sweet.

All rights reserved, foreign and domestic

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

LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental. W. G. Sweet, Geo Dell and Dell Sweet are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet.

This novel contains Copyrighted material. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

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

……………………………………………………………

This is copyrighted material

……………………………………………………………

The Nation

They made it to the top of the pass just in time to watch the sleigh approach the steep grade that would bring it to the top of the pass. An older man sat high on the wagon, driving a team of four oxen. The other man sat across from him. The trader drove the horses easily up the incline and onto the broad terrace that fronted the cave.

The man, somewhere south of sixty, Conner thought, set the brake on the sleigh and then looked down at the five men.

“How do,” The man said.

“All right,” Aaron said.

The other man smiled and nodded hello.

“I imagine you’d be Rollie,” Conner said as he offered a hand. “And you would be Emmett.” He shook hands with the doctor also, and helped as both men climbed down to the ground.

“Rollie drives a fine wagon, well, sleigh this time of year, but I don’t recommend this kind of travel over long distance. This thing need shocks… Something.” He laughed as he massaged his back with both hands and then stretched and yawned.

“Well, you better hope these folks want you or you might find yourself walking back,” Rollie said and laughed.

They all laughed and Conner introduced the others. “This is Aaron, best carpenter we have here. This here is Jake, takes care of our farm with Josh, who actually is a farmer and shows us how to do things right. And this is Dustin who knows pretty much everything else.” They all shook hands and said their hellos. His eyes were drawn to the huge tarp covered load, the wagon and then the Oxen. “You’ll stay a while?” Conner asked.

The mans eyes had caught the electric lights spaced along the tunnel that lead into the cave. The tunnel now ran right down the right side of the main cave. It flowed in a curve all the way to the other side of the mountain and the second cave where it emptied out in the main cave area. You could use the doors there and the built up earthen ramp to continue right down into the third valley. He nodded and then shook his head.

“Yeah… Yes, I thought to stay a bit and rest a little. So… You do have electric. Amazing. I know of no other place that does, excepting Alabama Island, and they are barely up and running with it. I was sure you had it, electric I mean, and so I banked on it: Added a few items you might could use… There a place where I can put up the oxen?” He asked.

“Sure,” Dustin said. He helped the man disconnect the team and then he and Josh excused themselves as they lead the team down into the valley.

Katie, Amy, Sandy and Susan came from inside the main cave.

“Hello,” Emmett Stiles said As Katie stepped forward. He used a walking stick, but did not seem to need it for anything more than an affection. His black hair was long, twisted into a pony-tail that hung between his shoulder blades. A smile rested on his full mouth, his skin a light brown.

“Kate, Doctor Emmett Stiles,” Conner said. He turned and looked from Katie to Amy. “Doctor, my woman, Kate, you two talked over the radio. And my friend Amy, Aaron’s woman. Ladies this is our new doctor. Come to us from Johnson Crossing.”

Sandy overheard the introduction from just a few feet away where she had been looking over the wagon and hurried over with Susan.

“This is Sandy… Susan. Sandy is our nurse. She took over the load after Jessie left,” Conner said.

Everyone said their hellos and Emmett turned to Sandy.

“I wanted to meet you, Sandy. I have heard so much about you,” Emmett said.

“It’s nice to meet you, Doctor. Katie told me all about you,” she said.

“Emmett.” he lifted his eyes to include everyone. “Emmett is easier on my ears.”

“Emmett,” Sandy agreed.

“Sandy,” Emmett said. “Maybe you could show me around? … You too Susan, of course.”

“Absolutely,” Sandy said.

Rollie spoke up as they walked away.

“She’s telling a different story… Just so you know,” Rollie said in a low voice.

“Who,” Conner asked.

“Jessie. Radio, incoming on a relay a week or so before I left. Says you ran them out in the middle of the night… Says they were lucky to make it out alive. Not all did, in fact.”

Aaron shook his head and laughed. “Try to do someone a favor and it bites you in the ass. We walked them out, allowed them to go when we caught them about to go on their own with nothing. Gave them weapons, food,” He shook his head in disgust.

“You called it though,” Conner said. A sad smile curved the corners of his mouth downward. “You said it would get switched up and it did….” He turned to Rollie. “We’ll talk more later… Maybe others will want to hear what she said.”

“How’s a cup of coffee sound?” Jake asked a few seconds later to break the uncomfortable silence.

“You got coffee?” Rollie asked.

“Well, instant,” Jake admitted. “Coffee is gold here. We hope to grow some next year though.”

“Now see, that’s why you need me. I think we can help each other a great deal,” Rollie said.

The door opened behind them and several people flooded out of the cave and surrounded them. Aaron made introductions as Conner kissed Katie on one cheek.

“Well,” Conner said as things quieted down. “Come on in and let’s get some coffee in you.”

“All right,” Rollie agreed. He turned to the sleigh and in a second one corner of the tarp was loose and flapping. A second later he had thrown it back over the load. Boxes upon boxes, Conner saw. Rollie reached in the midst and pulled out a large sack and then an old fashioned coffee grinder. The smell of ground coffee hit him on the constant wind that blew over the pass and down into the valley. Rollie turned back with a huge smile on his face.

“Let’s make the coffee real. And let’s call this a good will gift to you folks,” he said, holding out the old fashioned coffee grinder and the sack of beans.

“Okay then,” Conner said and laughed. He took the grinder and Aaron took the sack of coffee beans. They walked into the cave together, the crowd all talking at once.

………………………………….

I hope you enjoyed the preview. Follow the links below to get a longer preview.

Amazon: https://t.co/yPiKQyCy84

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/616938

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/earth-s-survivors-world-order

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

NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-dell-sweet/1123456085