Writing Earth’s Survivors
A few words about the Earth’s Survivors Series of books:
This series was written by me several years ago and remained unpublished. I wrote the original books in longhand in bound composition notebooks. At the time that was what was available to me, at least for the first few books. After that it didn’t matter. I was hooked. The stories seemed to flow perfectly and I didn’t want to mess with the magic. Sounds crazy, maybe, but those stories come from some place that I don’t have access to, or at least access to any time I choose.
I can sit down and begin nearly any story that is suggested to me, but if it isn’t there, after the initial start, the story will just die. The words will come harder and harder and then the well will be dry. I have no idea where the characters are going to. And, most likely, that is because they are going no where. They are staying where ever I wrote them too. They will always be there, any time I care to reread what I wrote.
My point is, if it isn’t there it isn’t there. Beginning it, or wishing it will not make it work. So, I did not want to mess up the magic. I left it alone and the books poured out.
From 2008 to 2010 I wrote twenty Earth’s survivors books. I also wrote four Dreamer’s Worlds books. I wrote eight America The Dead books. I wrote seven books about Earth’s Survivors characters before the world ended, loosely formed around a Weather Girl named Rebecca Monet. The first is Billy Jingo.
I wrote dozens or short stories. Space travel, Cowboys and Zombies, Crime Novels, Horror, Sci Fi, True, Historical and more. Some of it I personally like, some fans like, it’s has always been impossible for me to judge which way it will go. It surprises me when I write something and I don’t especially like it, yet others do.
Stephen King once said that The Stand was the book he got the most feedback about, the largest fan base, but it was not his favorite book. Even so, he knew he had written something special, and he did.
So, I wrote in my composition notebooks and the stories came to me. Occasionally I would write lyrics in between. I spent my day today going through all of it so I could formulate an attack in my head. How to get it from point A (The Composition Notebook) to point B (My Open Office Install).
The main writers who do the work of taking that content from the notebooks and getting it into the word processor are W. W. (Jay) Watson and Geo Dell. The editor for the series is Rachel Clancy. No one can read my handwriting, including me some days, so most of the time it is easier for me to type it into the word processor and then give it to them to finish, then off to Rachel to edit.
It gets done. It makes it from that Point A to Point B. But, I guess, because I put Jay and Geo’s names on the books that it has confused a few people. Don’t be confused. That’s why I am on this subject, to let you know exactly how the process goes. In the end, no one, except Rachel, changes one word I have written. And, the ones she changes need changing. What I do think that they do is lend a feel and a certain flow to the books. The stories flow, and that is because I listen to their suggestions and change what needs to be changed. And with that many eyes on it there are less problems for the Editor.
So, to recap, I am the writer, copyright owner, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. They do put the work in and they deserve to have their names on the books too. W. W. (Jay) Watson has his name as the lead on the Main Earth’s Survivors books. Geo will have his name on the Rapid City books, and already has his name on the Dreamer’s Worlds books. I like both men. I also like Rachel a great deal and I am very happy they are there to do the work. It gives me time to develop ideas and stories that are written by Jay and Geo, and occasionally time to introduce new material like the upcoming Outrunners series, the first book of which is new material as there never was a book that introduced the Outrunners.
I took the weekend off from the home construction that is ongoing. I worked with two young guys most of the week. I mean young like seventeen. I thought they would kill me before we finished up. But, they also got me in gear and I think we enjoyed working with each other. Even so I took the weekend of to heal. Monday I’ll jump back in.
There have been changes to independAntwriters. A few writers have left, a few new ones have come. We have new sponsors, the books are doing well, and I believe that Rachel will be done with the first Outrunners books before the end of this month.
I have been collecting public domain writing in the E Pub format. I have the reader as well as about 1000 books that are public domain. One of the things that I would like to see soon, probably fall, is that collection to be available for download. Once the push to start it is over, the rest, adding to it as books or stories become available, shouldn’t be too hard. That is ahead.
Ian and Rachel Clancy plan on release of a second EMAN book soon. If you haven’t read the first you should. I read it, and I do not read everything I’m asked to read, but I did read it and it was very good..
So far this year we have released ten books through i. I myself have released seven of my own, Four Earth’s Survivors, one, two, three and SE. One Outrunners book, one Dreamer’s Worlds book and Eight Days in November. I hope to have Billy Jingo and one more Earth’s Survivors book added to that number.
Well, I did not drop any trees on my truck this week. What a relief. I did get my truck returned from the garage, dead, as I thought it would be. But a Huge U haul Van saw us through picking up the building materials and taking away debris. Pretty cheaply too, I might add. This week coming up I hope to get all the Sheetrock up and then the rest is easy, paint, carpet, tile, etc.
I am going to leave you with Zombie Fall a short story I was asked to write for a Zombie Anthology that I believe is due out this fall sometime. It may actually be out now. I hope you enjoy it… Because of language issues, readers must be over the age of seventeen.
By Wendell Sweet
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All Artwork Copyright Wendell Sweet 2010 – 2013
Geo ~ October 29th
I buried Della this morning. I knew they’d find out, Hell, they probably knew immediately in that slow purposeful way that things come to them. I can hear them out there ripping and tearing… They know. Yeah, they know, I know it as well as I know my name, Geo, Georgie, Mother used to say. I… I get so goddamned distracted…. It’s working at me…
Bastards! If they could have only left Della alone I could have…. But it’s no good crying about it or wishing I had done this thing or that thing. I didn’t. I didn’t and I can’t go back and undo any of this, let alone the parts I did.
In August when the sun was so hot and the birds suddenly disappeared, and Della came around for what was nearly the last time I hadn’t known a thing about this. Nothing. It’s late fall now and I know too much. Enough to wish it were August once again and I was living in ignorant bliss once more.
Della. I didn’t want to do it. I told myself I would not do it and then I did it. Not bury her, that had to be done, I mean kill her. I told myself I wouldn’t kill her, and that’s a joke really. Really it is, because how do you kill something that is already dead? No. I told myself that I wouldn’t cut her head off, put her in the ground upside down, drive a stake through her dead heart. Those are the things I told myself I wouldn’t do, couldn’t do, but I did them as best I could. I pushed the other things I thought, felt compelled to do, aside and did what I could for her.
The trouble is, did I do it right? It’s not like I have a goddamn manual to tell me how to do it. Does anybody? I doubt it, but I would say that it’s a safe bet that there are dozens of people in the world right now, people who have managed to stay alive, that could write that manual. I just don’t know them… I wish I did. And it won’t matter to me anyway. It’s a little too late.
So the books say take their heads off. The books also say, for Vampires, put a stake in their heart, and older legends say turn them around, upside down in the grave. Isn’t a vampire a kind of Zombie? Isn’t it? Probably not exactly, precisely, but, could it hurt to have done the stake thing just in case? To be sure? To put her at rest? I don’t think so.
They can come out during the daylight, you know. I thought they wouldn’t be able to. Every goddamn movie I ever saw, starting with the Night Of The Living Dead they couldn’t. You could get some relief. You could get some shit done. And you could if it were true, but it’s not. They rarely come out in the daylight, that’s the truth. It’s hard for them, tough somehow, but they can. It won’t kill them. They aren’t weaker than they are at night. They just don’t like the daylight. They don’t like it. And don’t you think writing that made me a little paranoid? Thinking it over once more? It did. I got up and checked the windows. Nothing I can see, but they’re out there. They’re right out there in the barn. Sleeping in the sweet hay up in the Haymow. I know it, so it doesn’t matter whether I can see them. I can hear them and I know where the rest of them are. And I know they know what I did and they’ll come tonight. They’ll come tonight because I’m afraid of the night. Not them. Me. And they goddamn well know it! They know it! They think. They see. Did you think they were stupid? Blind? Running on empty? Well you’re the fool then. Listen to me, they’re not. They’re not and thinking they are will get you dead quick. And what about me? How will I feel tonight? What will I think about it then?
Zombies: I thought Haiti, Horror flicks…? What else is there? Dead people come back to life, or raised from the dead to be made into slaves. Those are the two things I knew and nothing else. Well, it’s wrong. Completely wrong. No. I can’t tell you how they come to be Zombies initially, but I can tell you that the bite of a Zombie will make you a Zombie. The movies got that much right.
I can’t tell you why they haunt the fields across from my house. Why they have taken up residence in my old barn. But I can tell you that it might be you they come for next and if they do you goddamn well better realize that everything you thought you knew is bullshit. See, Della didn’t believe it and look what happened to her! I know, I know I didn’t tell you but I will. That’s the whole point of writing this down before they get me too.
See in a little while I’m going to walk out the kitchen door and right out to the barn. I’ll leave this here on the kitchen table. First for my Son Joe, I haven’t heard from him since September, before things got really crazy. So, if he makes it here somehow this will be here for him. Second, it’s for you, whoever you are who happened along into my kitchen.
Goddamn Zombies. Ever lovin’ Bastards! …
I am losing control, I know I am But… Anyway, it was August. Hot. Hotter, they said, than it had been in recorded time. There was no wind. No rain. Seemed like no air to breath.
It was on a Tuesday. I went to get the mail and there were six or seven dead crows by the box. I thought those Goddamn Clark boys have been shootin’ their B.B guns again. So I resolved to call Old Man Clark and give him a piece of my mind except I forgot. That happens when you get old. It’s not unusual. I remembered about four o’clock the next morning when I got up. Well, I told myself, Mail comes at ten, I’ll get that, then I’ll call up and have that talk.
I make deals like that with myself all the time. Sometimes it works out fine sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t.
Ten came and I forgot to get the mail. I remembered at eleven thirty, cursed myself and went for my walk to the box.
I live alone. I have since Kate died. That was another hot summer. I used to farm. I retired a few years back. I rent out the fields. The barn did set empty up until late September or Early October when the Zombies moved in. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
I walked to the mail box cursing my creaky brain as I went. When I got there I realized the Clark boys had either turned to eating crows or they had nothing to do with the dead crows in the first place. There were dozens of dead Crows, Barn Swallows, Gulls. The dirt road leading up to my place was scattered with dead birds, dark sand where the blood had seeped in. Feathers everywhere, caught in the trees, bushes, and the ditches at the side of the road. There were three fat, black Crows sticking out of my mailbox. Feet first. Half eaten.
Some noise in the woods had made me turn but I can’t turn as fast as I used to. Whatever had made the noise was gone when I got turned in that direction. But, there were bare footprints in the dry roadbed next to the box. They were not clear, draggy, as though the person had had a bad leg. He had, of course, but I had yet to meet the owner.
The day’s getting away from me. My ears are playing tricks on me too. I thought I heard something upstairs but there’s nothing. I have the bottom floor boarded up. Those Zombies may be far from stupid but it’s goddamn hard to get dead limbs to help you climb up the side of a house and we took everything down they could hold onto…
Where was I? The mailbox. The mail never came that day. In fact the mail never came again. Already Emma Watson, our local Mail carrier, was a Zombie. I just didn’t know it.
I tried Clark but got no answer. Later that day I heard a few shots but we’re country folks. There’s Deer wandering all over the place. Wouldn’t be the first time one got shot without a tag or a proper season. Della came later, upset, her boyfriend had run off somewhere she thought. It’ll be okay I told her.
I seen him a week later.
Della usually came at the ends of the month to help me with shopping, bills, she’s a… She was a good girl. A good one. A good Zombie fearing girl. She was… She didn’t come and August turned to September and I was sitting by the stove that night and heard the scrape on the porch.
His leg was bad. Somebody had shot him. But her fella had worse things going on than that. He was dead. What was a bum leg when you were dead? Small problem. But it made him drag that leg. I’m getting ahead of myself again though.
I picked up my old shot gun where it sat next to the door, eased the door open and flicked on the porch light. He jumped back into the shadows.
“Step out into the light,” I tried not to sound like the old man I was.
“No,” he rasped
“Step out here or I’ll shoot,” I tried again.
“Della,” he whispered. His voice was gravelly.
That stopped me cold. I squinted but it was too dark to make out much. Still I had the idea it might be her boyfriend. Maybe he’d got himself into something bad. I couldn’t get the name to come to me. “You Della’s boyfriend that went missing…?”
Nothing but silence, and in that silence I got a bad feeling. Something was wrong. It came to me about the same time that he stepped into the light. There was no sound of breathing. It was dead quiet. My own panicked breathing was the only sound until he stepped into the light dragging his leg.
My heart staggered and nearly stopped.
“Della,” he rasped once more. He cocked his head sideways, the way a dog will when it’s not sure of something. One eye was bright but milky white, the other was a gooey mess hanging from the socket on the left side of his face.
I found my old shot gun rising in my hands. I saw the alarm jump into his eyes and he was gone just that fast.
I stood blinking, convinced that I had somehow dreamed the whole encounter, but I knew I didn’t. The smell of rotting flesh still hung heavy in the air. In the distance I heard the rustle of bushes and then silence. Zombies are not stupid, and they are not slow.
The next day it seemed ridiculous. What an old fool I thought. What had I imagined? But the days leading up to October told me a different story.
I drove into Watertown around the middle of October. I passed maybe two cars on the way but neither driver would meet my eyes. That was wrong. Trash blew through the streets as I drove. The traffic lights were out on the square and no one was on the streets. I didn’t see a single police car.
The mall was closed. The road into it barricaded. I found a little Mom and Pop place open on the way back but there was next to nothing on the shelves. I got a jar of Peanut Butter that I didn’t want. A package of crackers, there was no bread, and paid with the last of my cash.
The store owner wore deep socketed eyes on a lined face. His attitude said, I will not speak to you. And he wouldn’t. After a brief attempt I went home. I never went back. By that next night I knew what the deal was when Della showed up.
She came around noon. I heard the sound of her engine revving long before she came into sight. She took out the mailbox and crashed into the porch and that was that. We were up most of the night talking about how much the world had changed. She knew more than I did. She knew there were no more police. She knew there were roving gangs of Zombies on the streets of Watertown. She had met a man who had come from Rochester. Rochester was a ruin. Another from Buffalo, the same story there. The Zombies, it seemed, owned the world.
She stayed until three days ago. I wouldn’t have been able to get this house closed up on my own. Della worked side by side with me. That was early, before we knew they would come out into the sunlight. Johnny, that was her fellas name, came for her in the daylight when we were closing up the house. If not for the bad leg he would have got her. If not for the fact that we were close to the living room door he might have got her. He might have got her because we both froze. And, when I realized I had to move she was still froze, just looking at his ruined, rotted face.
I got the shot gun and blew his head off. I thought she was going to kill me, then I thought he was going to manage to get back to his feet even without his head and kill me. He finally stopped and I managed to drag her inside and shut the door.
After that we watched when we worked. I had gone back out a short time later, after I got her laid down and sleeping off the shock, to take a closer look at the body. There were five of them eating him where he lay, and two watching the door. When I started out they were on me just that fast. I shot them both as fast as I could pull the trigger. My shot gun only holds four shells. Two were gone and they were slowed but they were not deterred. I made it back inside, bolted the door and began to wonder if my heart was going to explode.
Later, before dusk, I went back outside. Johnny’s body was gone along with the other zombies.
Since then it’s been a war, and then we decided, I decided that Della had to try to get out. Drive out and find help. She was carrying a child after all, the Zombie fellas baby I suppose. Maybe there was a place outside of New York where things were normal, okay, Zombie free.
We planned it. I got my truck, drained the gas from her car and my old tractor. That gave her a full tank in the truck and almost ten gallons in cans strapped into the back of the cab. There wasn’t much in the way of food but we split what we had. She promised to send help but we both knew that was a long shot. She left early morning and I thought she was away and free.
I don’t know what happened. I’ll never know. Did she get ten miles down the road before they got her somehow? Only a mile? How did they do it? I’ll never know. I only know she came back to me last night. Dead already. A zombie. Already reeking of death
“Geo!” In the night. Her calling my name and it pulled me up from sleep with dread, fear, but hope that there was some sort of plausible reason why she was out there calling my name in the night.
“Geo! Please… Help me!”
I had thrown the bolt on the door and had it halfway to open before I realized what an old fool I was. It was too late then. She was on me before I could close the door. She was strong. So goddamned strong, and she knew where the gun was and tried to stop me from getting to it.
I got it but I hesitated too long for the last time and she got me. She lunged and took a chuck of flesh out of my shoulder. I got her in the stomach with two shots, and then one more, after I reloaded, in the head.
I buried her this morning. Even when I did I had this strange urge to taste her. Just a small bite. Who would know? I was shocked that I had had the thought. Shocked that I had continued with the burial and had not eaten her. I’ve been sitting here since then. They’ve come around. I can hear them. It was the noise of them digging her up earlier that I heard and thought had come from upstairs. I suppose they dug her up. I just bet they did. I should have kept her for myself, I think. But, God, What am I thinking? What?
I can feel it working its poison in my body. My sense of smell is incredible. My eyesight sharp. I’m hungry. It’s like something that is trying to drive me… Own me… I can’t stand it. I can’t. I…
I hope you enjoyed Zombie Fall, please Enjoy a free Preview of the Original Survivors Series of full length novels: From Ashes at Amazon…