The first episode of Alabama Island. The Glennville series is a new addition to the Podcast. This is the first episode, written by Dell Sweet and read by Ami Adams…
In front of her a shadowed figure had appeared staggering through the ice and snow, angling toward her. She blinked, blinked again and her eyes found their focus. The man from the car, suddenly back from wherever he had been. One hand clutched his side where a bright red flood of blood seeped sluggishly over his clasping fingers. Her eyes swept down to his other hand which was rising to meet her. A gun was clasped there. Probably, her mind told her, the same gun he had been going to shoot her with before. The gun swept upward as if by magic. She blinked, and realized then that the sound of the motor straining was louder. Closer. Almost roaring in its intensity. The gun was rising, but her eyes swiveled away and watched as a truck from the nearby base skidded to a stop blocking the road from side to side no more than ten feet from her. She blinked, and the doors were opening, men yelling, rushing toward her. Bright light flashed before her eyes, and a deafening roar accompanied it. An explosion, loud, everything in the world. A second explosion came, then a third, and she realized the explosions were gunshots. She felt herself falling even as she made the discovery. The pavement once again rising to meet her. Her eyes closed, she never felt the ground as she collapsed onto it, falling back into the dark.
STOP! This material is NOT edited for content. It is not fiction. It contains explicit language and descriptions of real situations. It is not suitable for minors, and may not be suitable for people who easily disturbed…
One time the four of us who worked in the
carpentry shop were waiting for our C.O. To pick us up. It was after lunch, the
mess hall workers were stripping floors so we had to sit on this bench on the
other side of the steel gates that lead into the mess hall waiting for him.
So we’re sitting there talking with each
other about dumb stuff, we’re in prison, there isn’t a lot to talk about. I
don’t remember who stopped talking first, one of us did, so we all looked to
see why, and of course that means looking down the long hall to see what there
is to see because if there is anything to see, like a fight, or something, it
will be coming from that way. I look up and I see this woman walking down the
hallway: Built, and putting a lot into her walk. We all stopped talking and
stared. One guy even said some dumb shit like, “Wow, she’s hot.” Then we all
sort of remember at the same time that we’re in prison and she is wearing
greens just like us, therefore she is really he. We all sort of choked at the
same time. The guy just smiled and winked, he liked that he was noticed. It was
fucked up for real.
Another time I went into the shower. The
shower in prison is a no talking zone for men. Sex goes on there, alcohol,
drugs get smoked, shot up or whatever. They like the constant steam and the
vents that draw it outside. No alcohol fumes, pot smoke smell, etc.. We shower
in our underwear, boxer shorts. You wear boxers, if you don’t it means you are
putting your shit on display by wearing tighty whities, the name for briefs.
Some men have special shower boxers they have made, one pair inside another
pair so that even when they are wet they can’t be seen through. If a man is
showering naked he is either new and doesn’t know the rules, or he is fishing.
Either way he is going to get stepped to and told there is no nude showering.
The only time there is a change in that is when you have a significant
percentage of men who want to, for whatever reason, shower nude. Then they will
set an hour aside for nude showering. They all have to shower in that hour. No
one else goes in during that time.
You don’t stare at anything you might see
and you don’t talk unless you are in there with someone you know really well,
even then it might be misconstrued by someone else. So you go in, ignore
everything as best you can, and leave. I was kind of new, I knew the rules, but
I hadn’t had a lot happen yet so I was green. Anyway, this guy’s back is to me,
that’s cool, but then he turns around and he is surgically altered, he has
breasts. I got used to that after a while, but the first few times were hard to
used to workout with this really big dude who had a saying, ‘Defense Mode On’.
The first time he said it we were walking back from the weight shack and he
said it out loud. It made me look up, and when I did here come these two
asshole gang-bangers that I had seen around the prison and knew were trouble.
What it meant was he had beef with them, so it was his way of saying, I’m going
to try to hold it together and it might work or it might not, but with him it
almost always worked when he just said those words. I adopted it. I thought it
had value. To me it means I can do this if I have to, but I don’t have to:
Defense Mode On.
I see the value in fitting into society. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with a
lot of what society is, but I value rules, organization. I spent over 10 years
in prison, it was enough. I can and do play by the rules.
He lay for a few minutes thinking about how much he loved Candace, wondering how funny it was that he had lost so much yet gained so much, something he had never had and had been in no hurry to go out and find. He wondered how he had ever managed to live his life without her in it. He wondered over how deep his love was in such a short period. It seemed like it was just yesterday when he had first met her. He had remembered how he had never really found tattoos attractive on a woman, but she had this tribal thing that started on her left hand, wrapped around that wrist and then sleeved her arm, disappearing under her shirt sleeve. It was one of the first things he had noticed, and when she had been reaching for something he had seen another piece of the same work that came down across her flat stomach and slipped below the waist band of her jeans. While he had been wondering if it was a second piece or part of the same piece, she had caught him looking. Her eyes had settled on his own and the next thing he knew he was thinking about her in an entirely different way. Thinking about making love to her, about being with her. Thinking that could never happen, Tom was obviously interested. And then she had walked over and changed his entire life.
He couldn’t be without her now. The
man he was becoming had a lot to do with her, probably would have never existed
without her, and he had never even known she existed, never even known that
love could be like that. The entire world was destroyed, but he had found
himself. And she loved him too. He could feel it, see it. It was every bit as
strong as what he felt for her. Not clingy, just real. Total.
“Hey,” Candace said. His eyes had
slipped closed; he opened them to see her standing over him, a cup of coffee in
“Coffee,” He said.
“Good,” she said. “It’s alive. Were
you going to sleep the day away?” She handed him the coffee carefully as he sat
“Something wore me out,” He grinned.
“More than okay,” She answered. She leaned over and kissed him…
Posted by Dell. Um, I’m in my sixties, isn’t that young?
It has been a busy week for me, and a week where I accomplished no writing at all. That seemed strange at first, but I got so much else done that I decided it wasn’t strange, just a temporary kind of new.
I worked all week on remodeling, smashed almost every finger and thumb that I have, wore myself out completely a few days in a row, and still felt grateful for it. It made me wish even harder to be living a life that models my books. I think that is why we find tales like that, a struggle to survive, impelling. It is a lifestyle we long for because it is completely different from what we have. No taxes, no $4.00 a gallon gasoline. No boss on your ass, and all the rest of it that would personalize it for each of us. That kind of life has pulled at me since someone bought it up to me at 18, and offered me a chance to live it.
I had an opportunity then to homestead in another country. It was serious. Isolated. Living completely off the land in a very wild place. No neighbors, cars, roads, telephones. Nothing at all. I was young. It sounded so great. My wife was pregnant and said no and that was that. She would not have a baby in the middle of nowhere. And that bought the realization that even if we stalled a few years, eventually she might have to have that baby in the middle of nowhere. It was a dead issue for her after that.
I understood it on two levels. First the reality of living that life or a life in the real world where my wife, child and family were. And just examining that on the surface made the decision for me. Second, even though the decision had been made, I was absolutely convinced that if I had gone I would have succeeded at it and loved it.
Because of that duality in me, I always pressed to learn as much as I could that would make me as self sufficient as possible, and I have. It allows me to write about things in my books with assurance. I can write it because I have done it. Learned it. Not because I read it in a book or Googled it. (Although Googling things is pretty damn impressive too, and I have used that a few times). My point is that for the past three weeks I have left the keyboard alone and turned back to working with my hands. And, as is usually the case with me, working alone too.
It’s been great, despite the broken finger, smashed truck and busted up thumb, blisters and dead tired, nothing-left-at-all, way I have felt most nights. That is my compromise for life. It’s like an uneasy truce I declared back there at 18. I have to have some of that sort of time.
It has seemed to work great most of the time. But I found the same unhappiness, missing something that many of us find in life. Marriage, success, money, it doesn’t matter. There is, and always has been, something missing for me, and it took a great deal of life to finally forge an uneasy truce, compromise, cease war with myself.
It takes real effort to keep it working, moving. But it can be done. Part of it is what I write. I say I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s obvious that it is strongly flavored by my desire to live that life I felt I should have lived.
Some people I know would leave this life to live that life in a heart beat. Others flat out say they would never do it. If given the opportunity I would go in a second, I say. And then I think of all the obligations I have. Things that I have said that I would see through, do, people I would be there for, and I know I could never do it.
What is my point? My point is that when I write about it. Or I take a few weeks off to really work hard with my hands, it’s just as good. It can be, just as good. Or as good as having feet in both worlds can be. I think the writing is the grand escape. A good story should be able to take you away. I hope mine take you away. I hope you enjoy it so that when all the crap you have to deal with in the real world comes along you can deal with that easier because you took a little breather in your head.
I like feedback. People do write to me and tell me their opinions, I enjoy that, whether it is people I know or people I am hearing from for the first time.
It’s a little cooler here in New York. My work on the house is progressing nicely, a little slower than I would have wished, but still progressing. Next week is electrical work, insulation, security system and all the other stuff that has to go in before the Sheetrock goes on the walls. I’m enjoying it, and in a few weeks it will be down to paint and carpet, finish work, and I will be back to being only a writer for the fall and winter. By the time that happens I will be grateful for it I’m sure.
There are just so many smashed fingers and tired limbs left for my future, I guess, and then I will be only writing. But I put a limit on that a few weeks back, kind of my own end of the world. It’s a long way away, but it is nice to be counting down the time to the third part of my life.
In the meantime I will publish everything I have written in all the series and then some. When I spent time last week going over the books and the outlines for the series, it amounts to 40 books for the Earth’s Survivors series. That probably seems very ambitious, maybe even unattainable But if you stop to consider that I have already written 20 of the main books and another 9 of the side books that fit the puzzle, it doesn’t seem so unattainable. Only 9 or so to go.
I hope you had a great week, where ever you are. Hello to my friends in the UK. I am glad I have friends there. My Mother’s parents were English and Irish. I have always felt that connection. My father on the other hand was African American and Native American, so I have always felt that pull too, and I am grateful to my friends here in the States and the UK that share that sort of heritage too.
I will leave you with a short story, the first short story from Rapid City. I’ll be back next week…
Rapid City #1
* * * * *
Wendell Sweet & independantwriters All rights reserved
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.
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 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 cure, but it had never come to anything. After a while 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 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 a while, 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 surrounding conversation.
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.
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 a while. 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 somehow. 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 an 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 story. Check out the Earth’s Survivors book Apocalypse, still a free download for you.
These are random thoughts I wrote out and then left: As a writer there are somewhere around three million thoughts streaming into your brain at the speed of light all the time unless you are sleeping…
What if you knew that the last image of you in death, like Elvis sitting on the toilet seat, would be seen by everyone? Would it make you live your life differently if you knew at the very last breath that everyone would know who you are, what you were in life, see a clear picture, see a picture of you, dead, reduced to an inanimate corpse. No magic. You can’t fly. You didn’t miss the bullet. You are no longer a star, bigger than life, you died, just like everyone else. And all the things you covered up during that lifetime, all the times when you could have bent, changed, helped, are gone. And everybody knows what you did and didn’t do. Would it change you? Would it mean anything to you to know that, or would you continue to be the person you are right now? (I went searching for a picture of Elvis. I found a picture of Elvis dead, sitting on the toilet. I was sort of shocked. I felt as though it made who he was kind of small. In the end there he was, dead, sitting on his toilet.)…
Did you know there are places in this world where people start their day without coffee? Like a refugee. A refugee doesn’t get the chance to have coffee in the morning. If I was a refugee I’d be like, “Hold your ass! I’m having my coffee here! You rebels are starting to piss me off!” (One of those mornings, any morning really, when I have to do things before I have had my coffee.)…
The Litter box zone:
If you have a cat you have a litter box, unless you’re one of those aliens that teach their cats to use the toilet (They’re probably alien cats. I tried to teach mine and it nearly drowned… Twice). We scoop cat crap, get embarrassed when our friends come over and the cat suddenly decides that fancy fish dinner has settled enough and blows up the house, but if your friend Bob came over, walked into the corner of one of your rooms and took a crap, and then threw some sand over it, would that be okay?
“Whew,” says Bob as you are trying to decide what in hell just happened. “That fancy fish dinner had to go.”
Of course it wouldn’t be okay, so why do we allow cats to do the very same thing and then calmly take a scoop and cover it or remove it? And what about litter that absorbs odor? Doesn’t work. You could blindfold me, walk me around my house and I guarantee I could tell you when I hit the liter box zone. “Yep… Right here. Smells like wet sand/clay and cat sh*t,” I would say. (Do you have a cat? Enough said then.)…
Cat Trials: To determine whether cats truly do have nine lives.
Closed after one test… No, Cats do not have nine lives.
Excuses for why the cat is gone.
It was past it’s expiration date so I had to chuck it.
There was a terrible showdown between the cat and three mice. I think the mice were carrying knives. It was bad. Yes, they may have been blind mice, but they were friggin’ mean blind mice.
I traded that cat for a Volkswagen
What cat? We had a cat?
Other Cat Stuff…
Used cats: You never see ads for used cats, you know, “Gently used cat. Very low miles. Will trade for good dog, beaver or camping tent.”
One of the things I have against cats: They have fur all over them, and since I am in denial about having evolved from some sort of monkey or other animal, it bothers me to know they may rise and take over the world some day. Funny? I’ll bet that’s what the other monkeys thought about 25,000 years ago when Bob the different monkey shocked them all by fixing a hamburger and fries for dinner instead of insects and grass.
Whistling: If you whistle to a dog they’re coming. He or she will be right there. Whistle to a cat and they may flip you off, but they’re not coming.
Things you never hear… “Brother, can you spare a cat?”
“Give a man a potato he can eat for a day. Teach a man how to grow a potato and a cat will probably come along, dig up his garden and crap in it.”
Things I have not seen:
Three legged cats. Cats with their suitcases packed (Do they have suitcases?). Cats with a drivers license. Talking cats. Unpretentious cats.
From a real Social Website Commentary
The following conversation contains bad remarks about cats and cat like creatures. If bad remarks about cats or cat like creatures offend you, you should not read this. Also, no cats were harmed in the making of this commentary, nor do any of the participants wish any cats to be harmed for any reason… Except the ones trying to take over the world…
(The conversation started in response to an Article about Cat Allergies)…
Geo Dell: I am not going to read it. I don’t want to learn how to get along with cats… Here’s my theory of how cat allergies happen. I think the ACD Gene detects their presence and alerts you. Of course we should pay attention, but we don’t. I also have another theory. There is a pheromone cats send out. This enters the brain through our olfactory organs and then is, unfortunately, absorbed into the blood stream. Suddenly, usually within hours, you find yourself liking cats. WHAT? you think, How in heck did that happen? Easy, that pheromone carried a destructive gene sequence that attacked and overcame the ACD gene. After that contaminated people are screwed. Those people will continue to like cats, and, unfortunately again, the cats will take over the world and make us their enslaved race of human pets… Or… When the ‘Fridge is empty… Pet Food…
(Name Changed for protection): I had a dream like that once where cats had taken over the world and people had to worship them or be killed. lol
Geo Dell: True, sad, but true. It will happen. It’s inevitable…
Geo Dell: Oh… ACD = A**hole Cat Detector
Geo Dell: Reasons to not like cats… They used to be ten feet tall at the shoulder… They used to catch us and take us back for the kits to chase around and learn to hunt… They are only tolerant of us… THEY WANT TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!
Geo Dell: Every year thousands of people die in their homes and are eaten by cats. You never hear of cats dying in their homes and being eaten by us, do you?
(Name Changed for protection): lol
Geo Dell: Old people are forced to eat dog food. Well, cats are cheaper.
(Name Changed for protection): Hey, I think people forget they are living with animals. if you die, they will eat you. You’re meat at that point
Geo Dell: Yes, but I believe cats have secretly learned how to use the phone and call their friends over. Sort of like a… Fancy Feast
(Name Changed for protection): “Hey Oscar, this is Simon, my food supply died. you wanna come over and help me eat him? Tell whiskers and the crew that dinner’s on me this weekend.”
Geo Dell: Exactly. Now you are thinking. Rise up! Rise up, I say. And… Uh, well, I really don’t have a plan, but I would say start installing video cameras, keep track of these cats, especially the radical Pink Panther cats. And then, well, we’ll do something. Start a revolution or something. Sit around smoke pot, drink and say really deep things that nobody remembers the next day. At least that’s the way it was in the Seventies when we used to talk about revolution…
(Name Changed for protection): lol…
Okay, enough foolishness…
On other fronts….
I don’t know why I should be surprised when Monday shows up and I am no further ahead to catching up on things than I was the week before. Yet every Monday here I am, surprised again. And that would be funny except it’s true, which sort of makes it even funnier.
There was progress last week of course, just not as much as I would like to see. I always want mega progress, the whole board wiped clean, and of course that is not going to happen because as the board empties on one end it fills on the other. That is life for most of us I would bet.
The fifth Earth’s Survivors book Plague, the last book for the series until next year (maybe).
This blog is where you will find information from me every Monday. Dell will do informational blogs as well, usually on Fridays or the weekend. Ami will do blogs throughout the week and load blogs for others.
That’s it for this Monday. I hope your week was a good one, I’ll be back next week, Geo Dell
So it is Sunday and I thought I would share yesterdays project. I used to do a lot of selling on eBay before all the changes killed off many of us who had been around for a while, or forced us into a position where we had to pay too much for the privilege of selling on that service: So when I pulled the plug I had a lot of stuff left over that I had to re-purpose.
I had a Dell USFF 745 machine, an HP monitor, about fifty hard drives, memory modules, hundreds of games from the 80s and 90s. A dozen keyboards, mice, and the list goes on and on.
The Dell USFF 745 was one of a half dozen I had bought, the only one remaining. I had done nothing with it myself because it was old, under-powered, and I had a few other projects that came first. But yesterday I took another look at it.
First, all the files to rebuild this as it was from the factory and even better, are right on the Dell website. I decided to see what it would do. I downloaded the bios upgrade and flashed it. Sounds hard but it isn’t, it’s an executable and does the work for you, not like the old days of working from a command prompt and hoping you didn’t trash your machine for good when you flashed the BIOS.
It has built in video, built in sound, no room for a second hard drive, no card slots either. A purpose built machine that wasn’t going to be much in the upgrade department. But, that said, I wanted to see what it would do.
I bumped the memory up to the max of 2 gig (Newer USFF machines allow 4 gig). I left the 160 gig HD alone, flashed the bios as I mentioned, downloaded every driver Dell offered and installed them one by one.
Before I did all of that I had tested it with some old games and other software. That configuration was 1 gig ram, the same 160 gig HD with a new XP install and, of course none of the original drivers at all.
I installed and tried: GTA 3, Track Mania Sunrise, 3D Rad version 6.50, 7.19, 7.22. Track Mania the first version. Test Drive Off Road three. Midnight Club (Another Rock Star game that is highly addictive). Open Office 4 and the Spelling and Language add-ons’. Photoscape, Gimp, Audacity, AIMP 3, D-Fend Reloaded (The Dos Box front end to play the old DOS games. Open FX (An open Source 3D Modeler). I tried a few other things too, but I’ll stick to those because for me those are my basic programs to test a machine.
All of them installed, none of them fully worked. The 3D Rad programs failed to start. Test drive off road worked but crashed, neither Rock Star game worked. Open Office installed but could not load the language module. The newest version of Audacity would not load, and the list went on like that. All programs that are advertised to work with XP but would not work correctly.
The key was the drivers. It’s a straight forward process. Enter your model number and search for the drivers. It will warn you that they will not work on the machine you are downloading them too, or will not work with Windows 10, in my case.
I downloaded them, burned them to a DVD and then installed them on the USFF machine. The video drivers were key in getting the video games working, and 3D Rad too. The sound drivers fixed some problems with Audacity, and some games too. I also downloaded and burned to DVD the latest JAVA, DirectX and Chrome, because XP does not like you to use Chrome for some reason, so I downloaded the full version and installed it from DVD, there by by-passing Explorer and XP.
Before I had installed the drivers, I had wiped the drive once more and re-installed XP. I have dozens of OS discs, XP, Win 7, even Win 98, DOS, Geos, Ubuntu, more. The point is that I was once again leveling the playing field and starting with a clean slate. I installed all the drivers and files, even flashed the DVD bios, and then installed software piece by piece.
3D Rad shocked me. It not only ran 6.5 but also 7.19 and 7.22. Granted, large renders dragged it down fast. It is totally unsuitable for that, but even a small racing game demo played flawlessly and rendered well. I ran my own model in 7.22 with my own landscape, textures, and it played fairly well. It did lag a few times, but this is a piece I am designing on a machine with 16 gig of RAM and Win 10. No way did I expect it to even load on XP on the little USFF machine.
Open Office loaded and the language tool and the spelling dictionaries as well. I loaded one of my novels and ran through it, no problems at all. I loaded a working novel that had not been proofed and the language tool began finding all on the mistakes that are common to me immediately. Worked flawlessly even with very large files.
Audacity worked perfectly too, I went ahead and installed LAME for Audacity (To save to and read from MP3 files), no problem. Jack (Software that connects other bits of your recording software together), no problem, my Midi keyboard and my USB guitar input. No problem.
Gimp and Photoscape (Photo editors and more) worked well. Photoscape and gimp did well opening 4 and 5 mg photos to edit and save. I use the pair to do Book Cover and Ad illustrations.
Then I moved on to the games. Both RockStar games, Midnight Club and GTA 3 worked perfectly. I had a blast and had to force myself to stop playing. Test Drive Off Road, also perfect. Track Main Sunrise and the original version were also perfect. So, I went ahead and installed DOS BOX with the D-Fend Reloaded front end. NASCAR Racing, Need For Speed, Stunts and a few other games went in and played flawlessly, including LeadFoot an old RatBag game I picked up on eBay for about 6 bucks.. By then it was four AM and so I quit for the day.
Prognosis: This is an excellent machine, once set-up, to play all those great games from the 80’s and 90’s that are so cheap now or even public domain in many cases. It is also fine for 3D RAD with a light duty game build. I also tested assembling and making an executable, no problem. I had thirty bucks in the USFF Dell 745. Memory, a keyboard and mouse and the monitor kicked it up a couple bucks, all used stuff I picked up online, except the keyboard which I had new. The games and software were Open Source, Public Domain or original DVD or CD that I picked up on-line for cheap, like a buck or less per game. All in all I have a back up writing machine that I can also work on my games with, and play old games on too. It’s stable, I have CLAM Anti Virus on-board to protect it, and I have about $60.00 bucks in it and a few hours of downloading files. I see a future for this machine all set up to do everything I do as my backup and a gaming machine on the cheap filled with all those cool games from the 80’s and 90’s, and even some newer software too.
I hope you got something from this. Enjoy your Sunday, Geo…
3D RAD: I love this program. I have been playing around with it since about 2001. I paid for it back then, before it became freeware. Worth your time. The site is down, but I have copies of 3D RAD. eMail me firstname.lastname@example.org subject 3D RAD and I’ll send it as an attachment.
GIMP: http://www.gimp.org/ This is a fantastic Photo manipulation tool. Filters, too much to list. Between This and PhotoScape I need to use nothing else.
Old DOS Games: https://www.myabandonware.com/ That is one link. I would say be careful what you download. This site is safe, but I have noticed many are not. So think, check the link first, make sure you are getting what is advertised. I spend much more time searching than downloading. I never use a site that offers a download tool. I don’t need it, and nine times out of ten it is a way for them to sneak crap in that will end up in your browser or worse. I hover over the link if it says anything other than the file name I skip it. On to the next place that is playing straight. I downloaded Need for Speed SE 2 and all the support files from here, scanned them, no problems.
That’s it for me. Hope you got something out of this. I enjoyed it and writing the article too. I’m going to go play GTA 3, Geo Dell…
Her frozen body has been hailed as one of the best preserved Incan mummies ever found and, this week, she went on public display for the first time in the High Mountain Archaeological Museum in Argentina.
Visitors to the museum have been peering at the downy hairs still visible on her arms, the perfectly intact skin on her face and the lice that must have been scurrying through her hair when she died and are still lodged there.
Along with the remains of two younger children, the teenager was plucked from the slopes of a cloud-swept volcano in 1999 by a team who battled for three days through driving blizzards and 70mph winds to reach the summit 22,000ft above sea level.
There, the archaeologists spotted a rectangular walled area, dug down through five feet of rocks and soil and finally uncovered an Incan burial platform.
One of the team was lowered headfirst into the icy pit, his colleagues hanging onto his ankles, so that he could scrape away the soil and pull the dead children out with his hands.
The three Children of Llullaillaco, as the mummies came to be known after the mountain on which they met their death, were found with an extraordinary collection of elaborate gold, silver and shell statues, textiles, pots containing food and even an extravagant headdress made from the white feathers of an unidentified bird.
But it was the state of the bodies, preserved not by embalming, like Egyptian mummies, but simply by the natural deep-freeze in which they were abandoned, that scientists found most remarkable.
The younger girl’s body was slightly damaged because it had been struck by lightning. But CT scans showed that their internal organs appeared to be in perfect condition: one still had blood in its heart, the brains were completely undamaged and when the blood vessels were thawed the blood that poured out of them was crimson, as it would be in a living person.
“The doctors have been shaking their heads and saying they sure don’t look 500 years old but as if they’d died a few weeks ago,” said U.S. archaeologist and expedition member Johan Reinhard at the time.
“And a chill went down my spine the first time I saw her hands because they look like those of a person who is alive.”
It’s thought that the children were chosen by the Incas for their beauty and sacrificed in a ceremony called a capacocha.
“The Incas didn’t do this very often,” according to Reinhard.
“The sacrifices were children because they were considered to be the most pure.”
They were not sacrificed to feed or appease the gods but, rather, “to enter the realm of the gods and live in paradise with them. It was considered a great honor, a transition to a better life from which they would be expected to remain in contact with the community through shamans (holy men)”.
The Incas believed that by scaling the snow-topped heights of the mountains they could get closer to the heavens and communicate better with the gods.
The three children’s journey to the place of their death would have begun some 500 miles north from where they were found, in Cuzco, in what is now Peru.
They would then have set off by foot, in a long procession with other children, priests and officials, arriving at the foot of the Llullaillaco some weeks later.
Given an alcohol made from fermented corn to drink, and coca leaves to chew to ward off fatigue and pain, they must then have been marched steadily uphill, into the thinning air.
They would have had a desperately hard time of it: above 16,000ft the body struggles to adapt itself to altitude, and as well as oxygen deprivation their small bodies would have had to cope with painfully low temperatures.
Once they reached the summit, cold and exhausted, and dressed in their finest clothes – in the case of the elder girl, a grey shawl adorned with bone and metal ornaments – the children were allowed to die from exposure.
“The priests lit fires or burned offerings as they waited for the children to fall slowly unconscious and they were ready to place in their tombs,” Constanza Ceruti, the Argentinian anthropologist told the New Scientist magazine.
The three children have been stored in a freezer at the museum where the elder girl is now on display in a specially built case that keeps her remains at – 20C, surrounded by a special gas to prevent deterioration and in a pressurized atmosphere to guard against ice burn.
The decision to display La Doncella — Spanish for ‘The Maiden’ – at all has been controversial.
The head of an association representing Argentina’s indigenous peoples complained that it would be, “a violation of our loved ones”.
He said: “Our ancestors taught us our sacred places should not be touched.”
As a compromise, the museum have made only the older girl, and not the younger children – a girl of six and a boy aged seven – an exhibit.
But even this decision was not without its dissenters. Christian Vitry, the museum’s director of science and one of the expedition team, said he felt they should never have been taken from the mountain.
“The research could have been done in situ and the children left as they were,” he said, before admitting that “98 per cent of those signing the museum’s guestbook wanted to look at the mummy.”
There is also an intriguing codicil to this story: DNA samples taken from the bodies were used first to establish the exact age of the children when they died and then to launch a search for any possible living relatives.
After taking hundreds of samples from Peruvians, scientists found a DNA match between the 15-year-old girl and a man from the small village at the foot of Mount Ampato some 1,000 miles away from the burial site, making him a “living Inca” with a direct blood line to a young girl who 500 years ago was chosen to live with the gods.
Sources : Nat Geo – Google – accumulative web searches