Remodeling my house, and my truck…

Uploaded by Dell

I am in the middle of home construction, writing, and a half dozen other projects. I spent yesterday doing yard work, cutting tree limbs and trees, clearing out an old garden, and in the midst of that the delivery truck showed up with all the building materials I ordered and, of course, I was here alone when it showed up.

The delivery guy uses a lift to take the stuff off the truck bed, a tractor trailer flatbed actually, and sets it on the ground. So there it was, a pile of Sheetrock, studs, and other building materials sitting in my driveway. I had been in the middle of cutting down a tree, so I went back to that. A kind of, ‘Finish one thing before you start the next thing,’ approach. And of course I was hoping someone might show up to help.

The Tree: If you have ever cut down a tree you have maybe been where I was yesterday. In the ground, stretching up into the sky, the tree didn’t look so big, tall, formidable. First, a short explanation about why I had to cut down the tree: It was where it should not have been. Maybe that’s a little too short, here is a longer explanation: Over the years the previous owners had allowed the tree to grow right next to the house. As a result the trunk was now touching the roof edge, and towering over the garage, and the base was right up against the garage wall, to one side of the door.

At first, I thought, I’ll buy an ax and chop it down. Then I looked it over and decided it would take all weekend to chop it down, and, besides, I don’t know anything about chopping trees down, so I canned that idea. Next I thought of a chainsaw. But, I thought, if I buy a chainsaw to cut down this one tree that isn’t a very good tool cost to tool return ratio. And, knowing me, I will begin to look for other things to cut down. And that is bad as there is a whole forest behind my house. And I have seen people juggle chainsaws, not that I would, but… So, I decided against the chainsaw. So how to get the tree down?

I looked it over, judged the tree to be no big deal. Went and got my new reciprocating saw (This is a great tool for any do it yourself-er.). It is like the electric knife you use to slice the turkey with, only a lot bigger and with a selection of blades to cut through nearly anything at all. Cut a car in half? No problem. Cut a wall right out of your house? No problem. Cut a pipe, piece of wood, window opening into a wall (That is why I bought it. I want a window where there is none), no problem. I know these things are true because I have used a reciprocating saw to do them at various times in my life, but cut down a tree? No. Never.

Looks a lot like my reciprocating saw. Built for home construction/destruction, sometimes incorrectly called a chop-saw, but absolutely not meant for chopping a damn thing…

I sorted through the blades. I bought blades for everything, but there were none marked ‘Tree Cutting’ so I selected one marked ‘Wood and Metal’. I ran out the extension cord, plugged in the saw and started cutting. I mean, why think it out first? It’s a tree. It needs to be cut down. The saw is in my hand. Could it be any clearer? Well, as it turns out, it could be.

I began my cuts on the front, a wedge chunk cut out in the direction I wanted the tree to fall (I saw that as a kid hanging around loggers one day in the woods. The north country used to be full of loggers. That’s how they did it). Step one done. My cat, Buster, peeked around the corner of the house at me, decided I was crazy, and took off toward the other side of the house. But I have noticed, unlike dogs, cats will abandon you in times of need, or just when you need a little encouragement. A dog will look at you and grin, and your confidence soars. A cat looks at you, shakes it head and runs away and you begin to rethink your entire life. Don’t get me started on cats.

Okay, I moved on to step two, coming from the back of the tree and cutting towards the front notch I had made. I guess now would be the appropriate time to say I had taken off my gloves, believing I did not need them. And also, to note three other things. First: A reciprocating saw is not made to cut down trees. Second: If you’re going to use a reciprocating, or any type of saw, for something other than what it was intended for, wear your damn gloves! And Third: Don’t try this at home kids. I’m a trained professional writer, and I have written about people who have cut down trees with reciprocating saws, so I have some experience.

Ten minutes later, I realized my plan was not going according to, well, my plan. My plan was simple and effective, cut the tree through until it fell. I like simple plans like that because there isn’t much to go wrong. But, the blade was not coming through the tree, so I stopped. That is when I realized I had misjudged my angle, I had cut through part of the trunk and was now cutting a swath through the dirt, stone, etc, that surrounded the tree, but not actually making any progress into the trunk itself.

$#@%*$#, I said. And then a few other things I have neglected to write down here. I looked at my palm, no gloves, so I had blistered the palm in a quarter sized circle. Brilliant, I thought. Then, @#$%^*$# Tree, I muttered. The tree didn’t seem to mind. It sort of just stood there. I re-positioned the saw, and began again. This would have been a good time for someone to interfere, but no one did.

It only took a half minute of cutting at the right angle to cut through to the notch, and then the tree swayed back onto the garage and the blade, stopping the saw. The tree seemed about to go over onto the roof, and that was when I realized just how big that tree was. Even so, I put my weight into it, convinced it to pivot, and down it came, away from the roof and the garage, just like I had planned it.

That was when I noticed that neighbors on both sides had stopped to watch. Probably sure I would drop the tree on the house or the garage, but I disappointed them and dropped the tree on my truck instead. Everything got quiet instantly it seemed. I heard my neighbor on one side snigger, but when I turned in that direction he seemed to be looking up at the sky for rain. Which, I might add, I should have been doing.

So, there I am. Tree on truck. A huge load of building materials sitting in my driveway, neighbors amused to say the least, a hole worn into my palm. A second blister on my thumb.

I know, quit whining.

Okay, I will.

After I cut up the tree into manageable chunks with the reciprocating saw, I realized that my mistake had been misjudging the size of the tree. And the weight of the tree. And the wisdom of cutting down a tree with a reciprocating saw. And, well, maybe the cat was smart to hit the road early on. Once it was in pieces it didn’t seem so big to me. I had planned to load the pieces into the truck and take them to the land fill. But the truck was a little messed up, so I dragged the trees around to the back of the house and made a pile, called the wrecker for the truck, and about the time I had that done it was obvious I had to get the materials inside before the rain began. I barely made it.

In the end I sat and watched the rain fall as I sipped a Lipton Iced tea (Love that stuff), picked at the broken blister on my injured hand, and wondered why I ever decided I could cut down a tree with a reciprocating saw in the first place. Was I really an idiot, or only a throw back to the days when… Uh, I have no ending for that, because I’m pretty sure there never were days where men and women cut down trees with reciprocating saws. I mean, how would they get the power out there in the deep woods? And in my deep woods there are always bad things lurking about, so they would have been killed and eaten by something long before they cut any trees down, with or without a reciprocating saw.

I thanked God that I didn’t hit the car too, which had been sitting right next to the truck. At least there is something to drive until the truck comes back… If the truck comes back. On the plus side, the tree is no longer growing into the garage roof, and since I was on a roll I actually raked up all the mess I made and things look pretty good. And all the materials are here for me to start the remodeling job on Monday. And skin grows back. My palm will heal. I fear the truck is terminal though.

In other news. I got very little work done on Earth’s Survivors Six, but it is progressing. The Zombie Killers book three is still with the editor. The oppressive heat wave and high humidity broke for a while last night. A promise of things to come? I hope so. And, Open Office, the software I use, has a new version 4.0 if you are an Open Office fan. If you aren’t, you should be. It is very good.

The rain was good for all things living, except the cat. He did not appreciate the rain at all. Came running up to me and jumped on my lap soaking wet, and cats do not like being wet, so, instead of shaking like a dog will, he just rubbed against me until he was dry again. Great. None of the drywall got wet. That would have been worse. And nothing lasts forever. And, the tree is not rubbing against the garage. I know I said that but it bears repeating because it was the whole reason I went out there in the first place. Oh, and the reciprocating saw was not damaged at all. So I can cut that hole in the wall tomorrow that I wanted to cut to install a new window. Wish me luck…

Hope you had a great week…

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A GOOD PLAN

“Okay,” Paul said. “Morbid… Sure it is. I know that, dick-wad, but death is always morbid, man, for real. The thing is what happens after and that is that life goes on am I right? I mean, my Bro. flies back to Seattle, he don’t like me anyhow… Randy goes back to work bustin’ his ass down the paper mill and so do you. End of story. Oh, maybe you think of me tenderly from time to time.”

This material is copyright protected. It is not edited for content. You may not use this material for any purpose with the express permission of Wendell Sweet, and, or his assignee.

A GOOD PLAN

“No,” Paul slurred, as he shifted around on his bar stool and looked directly at Jack, “I mean dead as in gone! As in outta here, friggin’ history, get it?”

“Yeah, dead as in dead, as in suicidal again as in I told you I don’t know how many times you can’t do that. You got resposisilillyties? No, resposabilities. To-hell-with-it, you know what I mean.”

Apparently Jack couldn’t talk any better than he could, Paul thought, but they had both been drinking since eight this morning and it was now nearing four PM what else could you expect? Paul asked himself. And not beer either. If they had stuck to just beer they would have been be fine. But Jack had got him going on the ginger brandy chasers. Beer… Shot of ginger brandy… Beer… Shot of ginger brandy. And that was the way the day had gone. “I knoooh,” Paul said, still slurring his words, “that I got them things, respectabilities, but I. Have. Had-it. Fuck it! I mean, less say I croaked right now. Jess sittin’ right here on this beer-stool-Beer-stool was a private joke. Neither of them could remember which had started calling it a beer-stool, but they both knew one of them had-drinkin’ and then I croaked. Say a freakin’ heart attack, prob’ly would be, or a stroke. Anyway! Dead, like, right now… You’re sitting right freakin’ there and I buy the farm. Then what?”

“Hey for real, man, like, mental health might be a thing to think about here.”

“Uh uh, you ain’t got it yet is all. I don’t mean dead as in dead I mean dead as in gone, get-it?”

“Same thing, man, same…”

“No it ain’t,” Paul said as he leaned forward from his stool nearly surprising Jack into falling off his own stool. “I mean the supposing thing is the same, but the premise ain’t. Hey, I said premise right I ain’t too far gone. In other words, just play along for a quick sec., okay?”

“Fine,” Jack said wearily. He tipped back his glass of beer, drained it, and looked at Paul.

Paul nodded.

“Two more, and a couple a more shots too,” Jack said, once he got the beertenders attention.

Beertender was another private joke, but one they had picked up rather than invented. “Okay,” Jack said once the beers and shots had come and he had downed his shot and chased it with some of the beer. “Gotta piss like a race horse, man. Then we’ll get back to this.”

“Again? Man you’re pissin’ like every ten minutes,” Paul said, quickly cutting his eyes to the darkened rear area of the bar.

“Yeah? Well so are you, man,” he got up and staggered back towards the men’s room. Laughing as he went.

Paul cut his eyes quickly toward the darkened rear area once more, as a shadow parted from the darkness and came forward quickly. Jack was back a few seconds later.

“Okay,” Jack said picking up the conversation once again. “You’re croak city right here. Right now so… I guess I call the cops, right? Friggin’ CSI time or somethin’?”

“Sure you do, or the beertender does, but I mean after. After they come and get me and drag my ass down to the city morgue or whatever it is they do, then what?”

“Well…” he thought for a moment, not sure where Paul was trying to lead him. “Okay, the funeral. Me, probly Randy from work, your brother’d fly down from Seattle probly. We all cry, an… An then we plant you. Over and done.”

“And?”

“And what? You’re frigging worm food there ain’t no and then what.”

“Sure there is. There always is.”

“Got me swingin’, man. I don’t know where the hell you’re goin’ with this and I’m seeing two of you sittin’ there and I ain’t really sure which one of you came up with this bull-shit, but it sucks. It’s morbid, man, kinda sick.”

“Yeah? well now I gotta piss, but you hold that thought, man. I’ll be back in a flash.”

Jack watched him go, and then turned away from the dark area at the rear of the bar. He ignored the slight rustling noise beside him. Concentrating instead on the back bar. Counting the bottles. He didn’t turn back around until Paul came back and seated himself on the barstool once again.

“Okay,” Paul said. “Morbid… Sure it is. I know that, dick-wad, but death is always morbid, man, for real. The thing is what happens after and that is that life goes on am I right? I mean, my Bro. flies back to Seattle, he don’t like me anyhow… Randy goes back to work bustin’ his ass down the paper mill and so do you. End of story. Oh, maybe you think of me tenderly from time to time.”

“Not friggin’ hardly… I got somethin’ you can tenderize, man,” Jack said laughing.

Paul laughed right along with him. “Okay,” he said at last, “that was cute, but for real life will go on; end of story. I don’t have that ever-lovin’ Mortgage comp’ny on my ass. Same for the bank that has my truck loan. Joan can’t grab me for no more fuckin’ alimony, it’s the end… The real end, it’s over and life goes on.”

Jack stared back speculatively. “Listen, for real now, you’re startin’ to scare me, man. There’s no reason to do somethin’ like that. Hire a friggin’ lawyer, man. Go to court and fight her. Hand the goddamn keys to the truck back and the keys to the house and file bankruptcy. The end, problems gone, fini.”

“Not true, man I thought about it. Even talked to a lawyer. As long as Joan doesn’t ever remarry I gotta pay her. If I don’t have the money they’ll throw me in the slammer until I come up with it. As for the house I could give a shit. The truck’s nearly paid for why should I hand over the keys just because we can’t get no hours down the mill? Uh uh; I spoke to the same lawyer bout that. They’d make me pay it. I’m single, no dependents. They’d grab my whole fuckin’ check and send it off to the court every week. I’d end up bustin’ my ass for nothin’.”

“Okay… Okay fine, but dead? Being dead ain’t the answer, Paul, for real.”

“I agree.”

“Well, what the hell! You been arguing that bein’ dead is the answer!”

“It is… But not really dead: As good as dead, but still alive.”

“Okay, splain this one to me.”

“Easy… I been thinkin’ for over a year about it; here’s my plan. I go huntin’, right?”

“Right.”

“That’s it. I never come back.”

“A year? A whole friggin’ year and that’s the best you came up with?”

“Uh uh. I got a plan… A real good plan too… I’m about average size, right?”

“Right.”

“Do you know how many guys are average size?”

“Like, a real number?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, since it’s average I guess a lot would be.”

“Zactly. Friggin-a. In fact you’re average, am I right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, well since I’m average all I need is another guy that’s average, to make my plan work.”

“Uh uh, flawed to the max., man. What about, like, dental records. Or, like, blood type, or, like, I don’t know there’s a friggin’ million other things they can compare. Scars, uh, shit, I really don’t know, but I do know there are a lot of things.”

“All true,” Paul said, as he took a deep drink from his glass. “All true, but who gives a damn.”

“You would. See, if you do what you’re thinkin’, like switchin’ a body for your own, they’ll know, and… And why in hell am I even discussing this with you? Do you know how crazy this sounds?”

“Prolly does sound crazy, but I worked it all out. You know I got this partial plate, on account of that football thing back in school right?” Jack nodded. “Well last year when I went up to Canada huntin’ I had a new one made. I wear it a lot too, to get used to it. It’s a little bit different than the one Doc. Freiler made me, but I am used to it.”

“So a persons mouth is different. A lot different,” he signaled the beertender once more, and waited for the fresh shot and beer. “How you gonna find someone with the same teeth missing in the front like you? And even if you did they’d have to be average and then the partial plate would have to fit. A lotta if’s, if you ask me.”

“Well the thing is I didn’t ask you, but if I did you’d have to give it the same amount of thought as I did, and you’d see it ain’t rilly a big deal. A pair a pliers, pull out the teeth so it’ll fit…”

“Jesus, Paul that’s sick. You tellin’ me I don’t know you? You tellin’ me you’re the sort of man that could do somethin’ like that?”

Paul grinned. “No. Just bustin’ your balls, Jack. You fall so friggin’ easy that I can’t resist it.”

Jack broke into a huge bray of laughter. “Oh shit. Oh shit, you had me… I gotta admit it, you had me hook line and sinker, Paul. Oh that was good, Jesus that was good, really I mean it.”

Paul laughed right along with him. “So’d you tell your old lady you were goin’ huntin’ with me this weekend?” he asked once he got the laughter under control.

“Christ no! She’d have a shit-fit if she thought I was out enjoying myself. Uh uh. She thinks I’m doin’ my hitch with the guard this weekend. She don’t know my hitch ended last year. You know… It’s so Cindy and I can have some time alone occasionally.” Cindy was Jack’s girlfriend, Paul knew. They’d all gone to school together and knew each other well.

Paul nodded. “Well, I’m for the woods for an hour or two. Pick a good spot. I’d like to get one this year. Then we can rent a room for the weekend, stay the hell outa this bar and bag somethin’ decent tomorrow, hopefully.”

“With ya,” Jack said, as he tossed back the last of his beer. He followed Paul out of the bar.

Paul drove the twenty miles up into the forest preserve in silence. Jack had passed out beside him nearly as soon as they had left the bars parking lot. He parked and shut off the truck. Jack came awake.

“There?” he asked foggily.

“Uh huh,” Paul agreed, his voice blurry, and indistinct. He levered the door handle open, and nearly fell getting out of the truck. Jack tumbled out from the other side, and they stumbled off up a nearby trail into the late afternoon darkness of the forest.

“So,” Paul said, after they had walked a few hundred yards. “I never finished my idea.”

“But I thought you said you were kiddin’?”

“Did.”

“So?”

“Wasn’t,” Paul said simply.

“You’d really be able to do that?” Jack asked looking directly at Paul for the first time since they’d left the truck. He had his rifle with him. Not only was it with him, but it was in his hands, and he’d come to a dead stop in the middle of the trail.

“It ain’t so much that I want to,” Paul said softly. “I have to. The banks really are drivin’ me crazy, Jack and I’m sorry, but it has to be this way…” He raised the rifle slowly as he finished speaking.

“Hey,” Jack said in a near whisper. “It was funny before, but this ain’t, man. This ain’t even slightly funny.”

“I don’t suppose it is… Do you want to hear the rest of my story?”

“Uh uh. You’re sick man, you’re goin’ too far with this… Jesus Christ, we’re friends, Paul, we’ve…”

“Been friends since first grade,” Paul finished. “That’s why I chose you, Jack. I know you, in and out. We’re built the same, we look a lot alike…”

Jack stared back at him.

“so,” Paul said quietly. “What you have to do is burn the body. I lied, it can’t work as a huntin’ accident. But as a drinkin’ and drivin’ accident while you’re huntin’, especially with all these curves up here. It’ll do just fine. It’s gotta look real obvious too. Real obvious so they don’t check too close.”

“First grade, man, think about it…” Jack blubbered.

“I did and the trouble is how am I goin’ to get you to voluntarily hop in that truck and drive it off a cliff? So I said to myself shoot his ass, stuff him in the truck and then set the pedal and let it drive itself off the cliff. Won’t work though, or it could, but a bullet’s a chancy thing. Could hit a bone, leave a hole that ain’t natural, tip them off. Uh uh, I sez finally, won’t work. Won’t work at all,” his hand fell down to the side of his belt buckle, where his knife case was. He patted it affectionately. “Knife? That’s risky too though. Nick a bone, leave a mark that ain’t supposed to be there, who knows what could happen? And besides it’s too messy to deal with,” his hand fell away from the knife case. “so I decided the thing to do is put you out some other way so’s I can get you into that truck… You agree?”

“Jesus, Paul, first grade and all. First grade!” he pleaded.

“Yeah… I know… First grade… And there was someone else there in the first grade with us wasn’t there? There was and I knew I would need help and I knew it had to be somebody I could trust too.”

“Huh? Hey come on, man. Think it over, Paul… Please?”

“You know. I didn’t expect that you’d go jelly on me, Jack, I really didn’t… Cindy? Our Cindy? Wasn’t Cindy there in the first grade too?” he raised his eyes up and past Jack. Staring into the woods. “Come on out, honey. It’s okay.”

A tall dark-haired woman stepped slowly from the trees.

“You-You, knew?” Jack managed.

She said nothing.

“So… Gangs all here, and all that leaves is the how of it. So I said to Cindy-Did you know about Cindy and me? Obviously you didn’t-So I said, how? No gun… No knife, how? Oh she’s good, Jack,” he stopped and wiped the sweat that was running in his eyes away. He had gone easy on the beer, but even so he had drank quite a bit. And he was feeling it. Dizzy, sick even and now was not the time for that. He drew a deep breath before he spoke again. “So, Ciny… I mean, Cindy said, the thing to do is to slip a sedative into a drink… But how? I asked, Well easy, she sez. He slips off to the bathroom and you slip it in. No big deal. He comes back, he drinks it, you get the both of you the fuck out of Dodge, he passes out, plop him in the truck… The end, she said,” he took two steps backwards. The friggin’ ground was all the sudden moving, he thought with alarm.

Jack suddenly straightened and stood from the ground where he had been curled nearly into a ball. The mask of fear gone from his face. A wide smile setting comfortably there now. Paul took two more steps, lost his struggle to keep his balance, and sat down hard.

“Good plan,” Jack said softly.

Paul tried to raise the rifle, but it seemed to be glued to the ground. He pulled the trigger anyway. Nothing… A dry click. He was positive he had loaded it before they had gone into the bar.

“If you hadn’t of told Cindy,” Jack said as he stumbled forward, “it would have worked. I knew about you all right. I figured it out a long time ago, buddy-boy. Cindy always was a slut. Never could keep those legs shut… But we both know that don’t we. I went right to her, Paul. Laid it all out and man was she sorry. She begged me to forgive her and she told me what you had been planning. She ain’t as sick as you are, Paul. She couldn’t and wouldn’t go through with it,” he paused and stared down at Paul who was still trying to stand up. He was having no success at all. Jack giggled before he continued.

“I can do it, though. That’s why I drank so much today. It ain’t goin’ to be easy, but I’ll make it: I’m drunk enough to do it. Switched the beers while you were in the can… Ain’t that friggin’ funny? Ain’t it?” he asked. The truth was though, that Cindy had switched the beers, he hadn’t been able to do it… She’d been in the bar, hiding back at one of the dark corner tables towards the rear and Paul had never once looked in her direction. He’d gotten the rear area where the light wasn’t so good so she could do the thing while he was in the can, for just that reason. But he’d drank maybe a little too much beer trying to work his courage up, and far too many shots. He wasn’t feeling all that good, and there were three Paul’s looking up at him from the ground. He stumbled again himself.

“Cindy switched ’em,” Paul mumbled from the ground.

Now how the hell’d he know that? Jack wondered. He stumbled again, and finally found himself sitting back on the ground. One second up the next second down. He swiveled his eyes toward Cindy.

“Had enough,” Cindy said quietly. “Had enough of you promising to leave your old lady for me. Had enough of both of you treating me like shit… Like a slut. I switched them all right. To you, when you were in the bathroom and then back to Paul when he was in the bathroom.” she smiled thinly.

Paul groaned from the ground, and his eyes suddenly slipped shut.

Jack tried to hold his eyes open, but they just wouldn’t stay.

“Shoulda treated me better. Shoulda treated me like a lady. Shouldn’ta told all your buddies about what we did in bed. Shoulda…”

Jack lost the battle to keep his eyes open, and they finally slipped shut. Darkness… A bird calling from far away in the forest… Cindy’s voice droning on and on from far away… Fading away, farther and farther, and…


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Earth’s Survivors: Rising from the AshesWhite Trash


Connected: Short Hauls

This was day two and I was about to burn up the retainer. I had nothing at all to show for it. But as I said that is the private detective game most of the time. Waiting and seeing. I simply hadn’t seen anything yet…

A collection of twelve crime stories; including Harrows…
They had been drinking one night when Robby had come out with the murder bit. Jeff had been talking about other men he had met in prison, before he had met Robbie: Men who had reps of being a bad ass, or connected, or extreme: Killers, men who bragged about having bodies, more than one in some cases. Jeff had made the statement that he could never kill anyone. It wasn’t in him to do it. Robby had called him a pussy and told him the world didn’t work that way. The world, according to Robby worked this way: You did what you had to do to keep on being.
“Keep on being what?” Jeff had asked.
“Keep on being… Alive… You… Free… Whatever you got to be doing you do it to keep on going, doing, seeing, feeling, breathing,” Robby had told him. And hearing it that way it made perfect sense. Perfect.
That had been a few weeks ago and one of the nights when the drinking had gone on for a while. Something had happened that night. Robby had gotten the wrong idea months before, that one time, and so he thought it was that way. That Jeff was that way. He believed it, and so it didn’t matter what Jeff thought.
Jeff didn’t want it to be that way, it was just that he got a few beers in him and it didn’t seem to matter what happened. Someday he would tell him. He would tell him and he would understand it completely and it wouldn’t happen again. That night it had happened and he had let it happen and it had been okay. In fact it had seemed to make Robby happy, and so it had also made Jeff happy. A little happy. Sometimes he wondered if that was all life was, feeling a little happy sometimes; just a little.
It had been the same in prison too. Sometimes people just got the wrong idea about him: Completely wrong. In prison that could be a very bad thing. If he had been with Robby, Robby would have made them stop, but he had been on his own in the beginning and being on your own was one of those Robby sayings he did believe in: You did what you had to do to survive and he had for three years until he had been transferred to a medium prison for his last year and met Robby: Everything had changed then. No one messed with him at all. He and Robby had become friends and that feeling had begun to build inside him. That feeling that they were bound for something special, something unique and something that would make them famous…

https://diygk.com/Connected-01

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How did you write that

Dell Sweet 07-24-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That story I spoke of above became the original unpublished version of Earth’s Survivors. Not the story that became a series about the rise of the dead. This is a story about people struggling to survive. There was not one Zombie in that story. The dead, in fact, were not part of the story at all until far into the series, and even then they had only one book.

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

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

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

It took off, and I hated it. I felt like I had succumbed to the temptation to go for the cash, lost faith in myself that I had a written a good book that could have made it without zombies/vampires/werewolves and sold out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing a zombie series, but the series of books I had written in all of those composition notebooks was not written as a zombie vehicle. It was written as a series about people picking up the pieces of their world and starting over.

It was my need to get that story out of me that made me finish the original story when there was no market for it: When The Zombie Plagues was a going series with the un-dead center stage.

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

That is the kind of faith you need. Remember, this is really about you and what you can sustain.

So you have your idea written down; write it out now. See where it is going…

This is an exercise writing about a Zombie with very few facts, just letting the story build on itself. A zombie in a kitchen… Just a zombie scene…

The zombie shambled into the kitchen and looked around.

When I wrote it, I mean when I just let the words go, it went where it wanted to go which is where I wanted it to go in my head. The brain has a pretty good idea of what it wants to do. When I did this earlier today, this exercise with my friend, that is what I wrote: The zombie shambled into the kitchen and looked around.

“So what is that zombie doing in that kitchen?” my friend asked.

Good question. What is that zombie doing in that kitchen? Where is that kitchen? How did the zombie get there? Who did it used to be? Question upon question if you allow yourself to ask them.


… The zombie lurched into the kitchen from it’s hiding place in the garage. It had heard something… Some noise that had drawn it…


If I ask a question my mind tends to want to answer it. (Notice I re-wrote that first sentence. That happened because the story began to flow. When that happens you sometimes end up on autopilot, along for the ride.) Now I know where the zombie came from, the garage. Why was it in the garage? Where did it come from before that? Does it even know? And I don’t stop to ask these questions, I just let the stream flow from me and I follow it as it flows: Because that is the other thing about this process. These stories come to you. I could not say where they come from either. Sometimes it feels like theft. They come so fast. So complete. So well formed. The characters all seem to be looking at me and asking, Don’t you know me?” And I realize I do know them. I don’t know from where, or how, or why, but I know them. They came with the story and they are products of my imagination, but my imagination wants them to live, and so it creates them and I am only the vessel with opposable thumbs that writes them out. And that is writing too. Acknowledging that this miracle came through you and you don’t have a clue how it did that. Still, take that gift, write it out and follow it…


The zombie stared around at the disorder of the kitchen. It’s vision was not the vision it had once had. The crystal clear vision that the living enjoyed. This vision was more of a knowing, supplemented with shadows, blurred movements, and something else… Light, it decided, and it did not like the light… The light caused its head to ache… The light was… The light was bad, it decided. The noise came again causing the zombie to tilt its head and stare down at the movement it had felt from the floor. Something squirmed there, moving with a purpose that suggested life.


More is more. The vision sequence came because I asked myself, How do zombies see? The zombie was in the garage. Some noise made it come to the kitchen. The kitchen is a wreck. Why? What is in the kitchen? What was in the kitchen? Remember, it doesn’t matter if there are misspellings, if it is missing descriptive content, we are simply getting the story out. We can come back later and flesh it out.


The cat stared up at the woman where she stood, head cocked, stopped halfway through the garage doorway, as if listening. The woman was different. Her stance: The way she moved. Even her smell was different. And she had not fed the cat in the past two days. Why, the cat wondered, was there no food when there was always food?

She sniffed at the air. The smell was wrong. And something deeper than that was wrong, the cat decided. And just as the cat had made up its mind to spring away from the woman and leap for the front door that lay shattered and open to the elements, the woman bent quickly, snatched the cat up, and brought it to her face. The cat snarled and clawed, but the woman paid no mind. Her strange eyes locked with the cat’s own, and then the woman leaned forward and bit one of the cat’s paws off.

The cat yowled in pain, squirming desperately in the woman’s hands, trying to free itself as the woman turned, shuffled back into the garage and slammed the heavy door behind her. The door rattled in its frame and then the kitchen fell silent.


And there is my story. The zombie came, it was explained, and then it left.

A few last remarks: If you are capable of writing you already know it; it is something inside of you, some drive that will never let you be. Not a wish to make a lot of money, because I can tell you that rarely happens. Not a desire to be famous, another thing that happens to only a few and something some of us do not want at all. In fact I have always longed for a writing partner who likes that public attention and will handle all of that public face time so I can simply write, but we writers are all nuts, and so that is something that probably won’t happen because we would probably kill each other.

So it isn’t those things. It is another thing that eats away at you. It is the sometimes bizarre train of thoughts that parade through your head every hour of every day. Yes, you might think of something else for twenty five minutes, or even fifty, but it’s coming back. Somewhere in that hour your mind will turn back to…

If you are a writer, don’t let people scare you away from it. I have seen many writers who lived parts of their lives in misery because they truly believed they sucked at writing because some dipshit pencil pusher told them that. Hey, screw that guy or girl. Are they in your head? Do they see the ideas you see? No. They are the kind of people that like to judge people. Thank God that many of our writers went through that process and passed by it to become the writers we know and love or else the world would be a poorer place for not having them as writers we know and love. Three of my favorite writers, Mark Twain, Stephen King and Jean Auel, all received bad advice that told them they shouldn’t write. Some of that came after they wrote, some before. Some mild, some horrific, you suck, stop writing, etc.

The thing is that, that can not matter too deeply to you. Yes you hear it, but don’t let it own you, drive you, don’t invest in it. What has to matter deeply to you is writing. That sounds selfish and it is. Lovers will hate you. Kids will feel neglected. Life will pass by and you will wonder where the hell it went to. Other writers will feel jealous, even hate you, or love you or a million other things… Write the stuff that is in your head and demands to be written or else all the bad shit that could happen to you in your life will happen anyway and you will find yourself at the end of your life, a miserable person who never wrote those things and figured out what this world or that world that existed entirely in your head was about.

I have been many things in my life. A drug addict, a prisoner, a bad guy, a carpenter, a father, a husband, a friend, a lover, and through every one of those things that I was, I was also a writer, except it wasn’t always also: Sometimes it was everything. Because being a writer and having these things inside of you that need to be written out can be a curse too. It can cause you to neglect the things you shouldn’t neglect. It can cause you to need that drink to cap those thoughts, that drug, that distraction. It is a blessing and it is a curse. And many writers have handled it poorly in public. I don’t handle it in public anymore, but I did, what a mess I made too. Same as many other writers with the same predilections and addictions to sort through. The same obligations they ignored. All to chase that thought to its conclusion. So forewarned is forearmed, isn’t it? Don’t say you didn’t hear the truth from me. And yet, for me, I will still chase that story to wherever the hell it is leading. I’ll open that door, go into that room that I shouldn’t go into, I don’t care.

I was told in my career as a writer that I would not make it. Too much of my past would hurt me. I would not be able to control the bottle, the drugs, the world, the thoughts. And besides, you suck as a writer too. It all makes me laugh now, but it used to make me mad, yet eventually, when I learned to look at it for what it was it had to make me laugh. It made me laugh because there is not a choice here. It is what I do. I get up every day and do it. I know when I do it that there are people who will hate what I write, hate me, and I know there are those who will read it, love it. That is life. It is the way the world has always worked and nothing that you and I can do will change it. Except you must ignore it if you want to write. Remember two things: One: Only you can say whether what you wrote is worth something. Two: Opinions really are like assholes, everyone has one and some people seem to have more than one.

I can assure you that I care what readers of my novels think, but I can also tell you that a few weeks back I pulled the plug on the most popular series I wrote. I have not looked back, and I wont. This is personal and public, heart wrenching and soul quenching. I write. It’s what I do: Until I die it is what I will do. That is the passion you need to have to write. If all of those things I just wrote are true about you to any degree? You should stop fighting it and write.

What follows is the balance of the exercise, the little story I wrote. I liked it. I did not ask anyone else…


ZOMBIE GRANDMA

Copyright 2014 Dell Sweet. All rights reserved.

THE HUNTINGTON RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Day Three of the Zombie Apocalypse:

“Shush… Shut the hell up!” Danny hissed loudly.

“Don’t be telling me to Shush… Or to shut the hell up either,” Tamara said.

Danny turned around and stared at her bug eyed. “What? Are you frickin’ kidding me? A zombie frickin’ apocalypse happening, and you know those frickin’ zombies come right to the goddamn noise…”

“That’s true. They do come right to the noise,” Agnes agreed.

“Girl! What the hell?” Tamara said. She stared at Agnes hard.

“Well they do!” Agnes thrust her hands on her hips, jutted one hip out and tried to look older than her twelve years.

“Both of you all shut the hell up,” Danny said. “Shush” He placed one finger over his lips to illustrate. Just then a sliding, shuffling of feet came to them from the door that led into the garage.

“Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus,” Agnes said in a whisper moan. “That is a goddamn zombie right there… A goddamn zombie… Already ate grandma and now it is gonna open that…” Her words broke off suddenly as Tamara’s hand clamped across her mouth.

“Ain’t no zombie… It ain’t… It is grandma…. We came here to find her, right? Well she has just been waiting back in the garage for us… Only place safe,” Tamara whispered in a squeaky, scared voice. Agnes frightened eyes looked up to her own.

“Mooser?” Agnes asked in a muffled whisper.

“I’m sure,” Tamara agreed.

They had stolen a car in the city and drove themselves out to the Huntington Retirement Community where grandma still lived to make sure she was all right.

The apocalypse had started two days before. Slow at first, just a murmur of problems, but yesterday it had gone full tilt crazy. The zombies were everywhere, taking over the city, but most likely there had not been too many dead rising out this way yet, Tamara thought. The problem was that grandma’s front door had been splintered apart. Someones leg, hairy, so it wasn’t Grandma’s, probably, Tamara thought, had lain just inside the door.

“That’s a mans leg,” Danny had said.

“’Cause it is hairy,” Agnes asked?

“No, ’cause it has got half a…” Tamara had slapped him in the back of the head.

“Don’t you be saying things like that in front of this child,” Tamara said.

“I ain’t no child,” Agnes had said loudly. And that had been when something had crashed in the garage.

“Son-of-a-bitch,” Danny had said, and jumped about a foot off the floor. Now the shuffling of feet came to them again, followed by a low growling sound.

“Oh, Jesus, Oh Jesus,” Agnes said before Tamara clamped her hand back across her mouth.

“Grandma never growled like that,” Tamara said.

“Yeah?” Danny turned and looked at her. “Well maybe that is Grandma’s cat… Probably been locked out there in the garage with nothing to eat for two days ’cause grandma done passed out in one of them dialectic comas, or whatever the hell you call them, so the cat is hungry… I would growl too if I was hungry… What we better do is open the goddamn door up before that cat decides to eat grandma!”

“Are you stupid?” Tamara hissed. “Grandma ain’t got no goddamn cat… Never had no goddamn cat… Hated cats… Idiot.”

“Thasafwukinzwombi,” Agnes said in her muffled voice.

“It’s not a frickin’ zombie,” Danny told her. “See what you done? Scared a little child.”

The garage door rattled in its frame.

“Gwamoo?” Agnes asked.

Danny cleared his throat. He was carrying a huge shovel with a pointed tip that he had found laying in grandma’s garden when they arrived. He tapped at the door with the shovel end. “Grandma?” he asked.

A low snarl came from behind the door, a rustling busy sort of sound and then a solid weight hit the door, rattling it in the frame.

“Stay behind me,” Tamara said as she released Agnes mouth and quickly looked around the kitchen. The door rattled a little harder; her eyes fell on the coffee carafe sitting on the counter. She snatched it up and turned back to the door. The door rattled once more and then stopped.

“I told you it was the frickin’ cat,” Danny said.

“It’s not a…” Tamara began, but just then the door slammed open, bounced off the wall and then closed once more on itself. It had been just long enough to show grandma standing in the doorway, eyes glowing red, something like foam dripping from her jaws, her hands clasping some unrecognizable thing tightly.

“That wasn’t no cat,” Danny said. “That was grandma… Dead… Shit comin’ out of her mouth an…”

The door slammed open once more and grandma lurched into the room. She dropped the stiffened cat she had been holding in her hands onto the floor, and lurched after Danny who stood still, mouth open in shock. His eyes fell to the cat and then flew back up to grandma.

“We came to save you grandma… we came to save you! What the hell you been into grandma…” She lurched forward and fixed him with her yellow-red eyes. “Wha… What the hell you been doing… Eatin’ that cat? What did you eat the cat for, grandma. What the…” Grandma lurched forward again and Danny finally realized that she was coming after him. He turned and jumped backwards as Tamara stepped forward and slammed the nearly full coffee carafe into the side of grandma’s head. The glass shattered, coffee sprayed across the kitchen and poured down grandma’s face in a brown river, shards of glass protruded from her temple. Her face began to twitch and shudder.

They all quickly sidestepped as grandma let loose a snarl and tried to claw Danny with one hand. Agnes began to scream, grandma’s rotting head swiveled toward her and she took a step in that direction. Tamara gripped the handle of the carafe tightly, looked at the sharp curve of glass still attached, and then stepped forward and drove it into grandma’s temple. Grandma collapsed in a heap, her head jerking and twitching, and then silence descended all at once.

Agnes sucked in a deep breath and started to sob in a muffled voice, her face pressed into the crook of her arm.

“I told you grandma had a cat,” Danny said. He stepped forward and toed the cat with one boot. The cat suddenly flopped around and fastened its teeth into Danny’s boot. “The frickin’ cat,” Danny screamed. “Grandma’s cat’s got me!” He remembered at the same second that he had the shovel clasped tightly in his hands and thrust it down, knocking the cat’s head away from his boot. A second after that he bought the shovel down hard, and the cat’s head rolled of into the corner where it snapped and snarled at grandma’s flowered wallpaper. Danny tried to backpedal, slipped and sat down hard.

“Oh for Christ’s sake,” Tamara growled. She stepped forward quickly and crushed the cat’s head with one booted foot. Danny looked up at her.

“I told you she had a cat,” Danny said.

“Oh, Jesus, Oh Jesus,” Agnes said. “This is worse than when Billy Parkin’s showed me his woo who.”

“What?” Danny asked. “Billy Parkin’s showed you his woo who? What the hell?”

Agnes peeked out from the crook of her arm and nodded.

“So what,” Tamara said. She fixed Danny with a hard look, reached down one hand and tugged him to his feet. “Showed me too. Don’t worry, they aren’t all that small.”

“Yeah. Showed me too,” Danny agreed as he dusted his hands against his jeans.

“You were looking at Billy’s Woo who?” Agnes asked.

“Well I wasn’t looking at it… It sort of,” Danny began. Grandma suddenly groaned from the floor and began to squirm around once more. Danny jumped forward and slammed the shovel down on her head over and over again until she stopped. The silence fell once more.

“We had better go,” Tamara said as she stared down at the smashed ruin of grandma’s head. “Find a safe place.”

Danny lifted his eyes up from the floor. Started to toss the shovel away and then decided to keep it. He nodded.

Agnes came forward and threaded one arm into Tamara’s own.

“Ready, punkin?” Tamara asked her. She nodded. The three turned and began to walk from the kitchen.

“What were you looking at Billy Parkin’s Woo who for?” Tamara asked Danny.

“I did not say I was looking at Billy Parkin’s Woo Who,” Danny started as they walked out onto the front walk. The day was fading fast, dark clouds moving in.

“We have to find a place, don’t we?” Agnes asked.

“We do,” Tamara agreed. She looked off down the street to a cluster of buildings that looked promising. Community Center, a sign hanging over the nearest buildings entrance said. She thought for a moment and then moved off toward the building, the others following.

“You did say it,” Tamara said as they walked.

“I didn’t say it,” Danny replied with a shake of his head. “I didn’t.”

The three moved off down the street toward the community center building, their voices a soft hum on the cooling air as they walked.


I hope you got something out of this. I read Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons), it made me want to be a writer, I thought. Except that bug was in me already. I read The Stand (Stephen King) and I realized that people really did write things that mattered. I read Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel) and realized that the past was a real place, alive and breathing.

I mention those books because I want you to read the feedback if you check them out. I’d really wish for you to read those books if they are your speed. Some people didn’t like those books. In fact some hated them. You have to internalize that. Do you want to write? Then write something. Stephen king has a great book on the art of writing, but he loves to talk about writing in the introductions to nearly every book he has written. Samuel Clemons talked about it as well. Jean Auel has given insight several times on what it took to write her book series. Be encouraged. Write. I would love to read it. Dell Sweet

Writing about what I have written

Posted 07-23-17

I decided to write about what I have written. It might surprise you to know what I have written and published, and what I have written that remains unpublished at this time and may always remain unpublished…

Outrunners: I would love to start out by saying I am done with the third Earth’s Survivors Outrunners book, but I am not. It has about 50 pages to go, maybe. I say maybe because I have cut the story down twice and it has still ballooned, right now about 111,000 words.  With 50 pages left to proof, and the ending as yet unwritten, only suggested with a few hundred words, I am unsure where it may end up. I do know that it will finish up some time tomorrow, I will do a read through, and then it will go to the editor when she is ready for it. I would say some time toward the end of the month it should be ready. I will give it away for a weekend and then it will settle into its place. That will determine whether there will ever be another Outrunners book, but I am sure there will be it is a really good story.

The story-line (No spoiler here) will take us back to March and the beginnings of the whole thing. We will not be back with our familiar friends, Mike, Candace, Patty, Ronnie, Bob and the rest of the eight though. Instead, we will be somewhere else with other characters. By the end of the book we will have come up to current series time, IE: to the same place that the Zombie Plagues book five ends, and a little past that. So that when the Zombie Plagues book six comes out next year the two will line up, whether  you read both book series or not. That is because you could get by with the description and brief introduction of some characters from the Outrunners book at the end of The Zombie Plagues book three. You could pick enough up through the balance of book four to get an idea of who they are.

So, the upthrust is, you do not have to buy one to understand the other. There are other books planned where they will bleed together. There are two that I can think of where they will be in the same time line exactly, but, with very few exceptions the characters are their own. The exceptions are Mike, Candace, Ronnie, Patty, Bob, Janet, Lilly, Annie and Tim, Tom and occasionally a few other minor characters from the Zombie Plague main series showing up in the Outrunners books. This is because the Outrunners work for the Nation. They are part of the Nation. They protect the nation, and so there will be some back and forth. Of course Donita will be in both series as she plans to kill the nation and bring them into her own armies, and she will be in constant conflict with Bear and the other Outrunners.

The focus of the Outrunners series will be the battle with the dead, the other living factions, and keeping the Nation resupplied. These are meant to be fast paced action based stories. There are six more Outrunners Books written at this time.

As you can imagine, Bear, Cammy, Beth, Billy, Pearl* and Donita will be in the main Zombie Plague series as well. I believe I explained that well. At least I hope I did not confuse you.

*As yet you have not met Pearl. She is from the UK and is introduced in the first Outrunners book near the end. I can’t say much more about the circumstances, except Pearl is a permanent character in the Outrunners series.

Rebecca Monet: The Rebecca Monet novels follow a young woman as she works her way up the corporate ladder in the Television News business. There are six books written (Seven or eight outlined), and two more outlined for this series. My next project will be finishing Hurricane, the second novel in the series.

There are four other books written,  Alone – Kat and Pat-  Rebecca, and a second Billy Jingo novel to cap the series.

Rebecca, the lead character from These novels, is in the Zombie Plague series. Her name is changed, but she gives herself away.

Candace, Patty and Mike, main Earth’s Survivors Characters, all have cameos in the Rebecca Monet books, which are set in the before times.

Earth’s Survivors: Book six is out and available on iTunes. The books that follow, will concentrate more heavily on the community and the lives of the people as they rebuild their world. Yes, there will be wars, action, but the main overall focus will be on the people and their lives in the valley and where ever else they may find themselves.

Other Projects:

Eve: Eve is a small two book series that really focuses on the struggles of a small party as they try to stay alive in the changed world. They are in the same circumstance as Earth’s Survivors, except some ten years in the future when we come to know them. These two books are intense people books. They never cross lines with the Nation unless there is some point in the future that I have not yet written.

Yeshua: One of the things time alone will do for you is cause you to examine your self. Your motivations. What you truly believe in. I did that. I found there was a great deal of myself that was not worth keeping. I found that I had fairly strong beliefs. I also found that I don’t believe everything I am told. So, I sat out to be able to understand enough Greek, Latin, and Chaldea to be able to read the actual biblical translations and decide for myself what they said. Easy. That is sarcasm, Sheldon.

Ten years later I had a book. My own translation of the bible. It took a very long time to write. It deals only with the New testament and nothing else. I do not know if I will ever publish it. I do know that before I do three ministers I know will read it. I do not want to be mistaken when it comes to God.

Short Stories: Dozens and Dozens of them. I will publish them in volumes. There are currently 24 books of writing that has to be transcribed. That is not counting Lyrics, Poetry, etc. Here are a few collections: Billy JingoCrime TimeMister Bob.

Space Travel: I have a series of short stories that lead to a space novel. It’s is now available on iTunes. Star Dancer

Dreamer’s Worlds: Three more books in the Dreamer’s Worlds series are written. I currently have no plans to publish them. Dreamers on iTunes

The Caves: There are three more Caves novels finished. Right now I can not see them being published.

The Editor: Yes. There is an editor now. She is very good. She has the right to put her name in the books as she edits, I don’t know that she will do that though. You may never hear about her again except as you read you should find no mistakes in the books. I had hoped for this solution a few months back, waited, but it did not happen. It actually has happened now.

And, the last word on writing: I will attempt to answer the why of the writing, or at least the most often asked question.

“Why, if you have written all of these novels don’t you simply publish them?”

A few reasons. The first direct answer, is that all of them are written, but they are written in longhand. In composition notebooks. At the time it worked for me, but the problem now is to get them from that long hand and into a word processor format that can be published.

I have tried a few ways of doing this. I thought the easiest would be Speech to Text. (You can’t hear me, but I am laughing). (I am laughing hard). Let’s say that if the speech to text software improves at some point in the near future I will try it again, but thus far my experience has been poor to say the least. (I think you can find more on that in one of my blogs)

Second, more involved answer: They are complete novels. Start to finish, but as I re-write them into the word processor, I jump right back into that story and the story grows. It is a creative process. There is not much I can do to speed it up. I can sit down and write a fresh story in about two weeks start to finish. I mean a 75k to 100k novel. It may not be perfect, but it will be complete, in need only of editing and regular re-writes. Reading my own crappy handwriting, and then typing the story in with revisions, however, takes me about a month. I sometimes think it would be better to just write a whole new book. IE: That is exactly what I did for the first Outrunners books. There were no Outrunners book that explained the characters origins. I wanted one. Two weeks ago I sat down with the first Outrunners Mission book to write it, instead I wrote the new story that introduces the characters. I was pretty happy with it, but you can see how the time gets spent.

The third thing is, what to write? Should I write only Earth’s Survivors books because there are fans and the books pay the bills? ‘Yes, I tell myself, do that.’ but then there are other books that speak to me. So I am trying to fairly split these books up. Most authors offer one or two books a year, I have given three Earth’s Survivors books this year,. Admittedly most of that production was to separate the series and send them on their way in different directions. But as long as there is a demand from you for those books I will write them. In fact, if there were no demand I would write them. That is how I wrote the first twenty.

At one time there were two guys who gathered to listen to my stories about the end of the world. Two guys. That was it: Before them there was only me. I had to like it, get into it to write it. In a creative writing class I took, there were about six people that showed up on a regular basis to class. We read each other stories, short stories only and encouraged each other to write.

My point is, I think some people who read books think writers sit down and write for them. And in a sense we obviously do. If you didn’t like what we write we would be back working our old jobs, mine would be a carpenter, singer/song writer in a minute. But we don’t really do that at all. Our first fan is us. I have to like what I write or it will not come to me. I think a blog I wrote a week or so ago gets into the creative process and how it works for me. It really comes to a miracle. I have no real way of knowing how the process works. I only know it does work. And I know the first fan is me. Then maybe a few people I trust, and it goes outward from there. And then once the process has come to fruition I try to write for you; try to write what I believe you want to read, but it comes out as it comes out.

So that is the longer explanation, because when I sit down to write what comes to me comes. Like sitting down with the first Outrunners book and then writing a  whole new novel. Just stick with me though, I will write it all out and I do listen.

Other Things: IE, A little humor

Rain and New York: The rain in New York this year has been ridiculous. It seems that the only time it isn’t raining is when the humidity is 98% and the temp is 89 to 99 and it’s getting ready to rain and you can’t move without melting. Arrgg. Oh, and when it’s drizzling, which I believe is rain, but I was warned is not called rain, but drizzle, so may not actually be rain. Hmm. And. Our lake, Lake Ontario is actually above flood stage and has been for the whole summer so far. All the state beaches are flooded and unusable too.

Six billion cable channels: I have noticed that although I have six billion cable channels there is nothing at all to watch. Unless I like cooking shows, selling shows, reality shows, basketball – baseball – football – Girlfriend/Wives shows, guys with 70’s hairdos selling music from the, surprise 1970’s. Um sitcoms from the 60’s 70’s or 80’s, oh and 90’s too. Um, tractor pulling, Bear hunting, NASCAR racing, witch hunting, alligator wrestling, speedboat racing, and some stuff that I pause and go, What the Hell is that, as I’m going by. Doctor Phil, Price is Right, Jerry Springer, Katie, Holy God, the list just goes on and on.

So I said to myself; why can’t I find something out of all of that to watch? But the answer is clear, IDHTC Envy. IDHTC Envy is a very real thing. It is propagated by the cable network of course, because it pays them to do it. IDHTC Envy,  (I don’t Have That Channel Envy) is a rough deal. Here’s how it gets me.

I know I don’t get HBO, CINEMAX, ENCORE and a sixty-two thousand other channels. Okay. Great. I don’t get them. I’ll just go look at the ones I do get. But on the way to the channels I do get, I happen by the channels I don’t get and I see all the really great stuff they have that I don’t get. Never mind I get all the Showtime channels. Sundance, IFC, Free Movies on Demand. Netflix (My personal favorite). The Movie Channel and the LMN movie channel-More about that channel. I mean, how many movies can there be about a guy who screws over a woman and she ends up paying him back? Tracking him down and bringing him to justice. I mean, do all men do these things? Apparently dozens and dozens of them do, because that is all that LMN shows! Oh and I get the second LMN channel that shows all the other movies like that, that the first channel doesn’t have time to show, because, alas, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, thank you God.

Where was I? Oh, so I do get good channels (Excluding that channel and  channels I like to think of as the wacko channels. I’ll just shut up about those channels, but we all know they are there). But I get good channels too. However, every time I go by HBO or Cinemax I tell myself… DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK! And I try not to look, but I have to know what channel I’m on as I pass, right? And I see it… It doesn’t matter what only that it’s something better than what I get on the channels I can watch.

So then I get depressed and dive right in. Torture myself going through all the channels I don’t get. I click on them anyway. “Click to buy !,” the screen says. I chicken out. I have better uses for my $7.95 I tell myself. But I have looked. Now I can not go back to the same old, same old.

Oh, I will go and watch my sub-standard movie on the channel I get, but all the time my heart is lusting after the movie I saw the description of on the other channel I don’t get. Why, I ask myself? Why, Why, Why!

So, I decided in the end, I have plenty to watch, I am simply suffering from IDHTC. I take an aspirin and watch Grapes of Wrath for the fifteenth time. I can really feel for the Joad’s, I’m suffering too, if Henry Fonda only knew.

That’s my weekend here, except the rain which never seems to stop. I am pretty sure it will though about the time the snow starts flying…

Okay. The last few days I have worked on the Zombie Plague Collection books and those are now available. Paperbacks:

Book One: https://www.createspace.com/5767401

Book Two: https://www.createspace.com/5767421

Digital versions are available at Smashwords, but have been submitted to iTunes, Nook and Kobo and should be up within a few days.

Smashwords:

Book One: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/581013

Book One: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/581021

Geo or I will be here throughout the week. Have a good week, Dell…

Life in The Slow lane

07-17-2017 Posted by Dell

Life in The Slow lane…

I don’t like the fast lane. It isn’t that I can’t see the advantage of the fast lane and getting wherever the hell it is you need to get in the fastest possible time. I can. I just don’t agree with it anymore.

When I was seventeen, just back from the Navy, I couldn’t wait to get on with what I considered real life. My wheels were spinning. I needed a girlfriend, a job, a life and I needed it right then. It needed to be immediate. And so I went looking for all that stuff and that is the last time I remember life being slow. After that life sped up and I lived it full-tilt. I thought that was the way you do it. Burn it up. No regrets. Don’t look back. Hurry up and get a little older so I can drink legally, so we don’t have to sneak around and see each other only in the back seat of my Chevy. So we can get married, have children, get a place of our own, raise our children, oh, I can’t wait until the terrible twos are over with, and… What do you mean you don’t love me anymore? Hurry to get past that pain. Think about slowing down, but that just makes the pain worse so I hurried right into another relationship. Another marriage. More children.

Drink a little more because sometimes when things started to slow down I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it because I could see things clearly when I slowed down. See the mistakes, feel the pain of failure, and I didn’t want to see it because it damn well wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would. So I sped it back up…

Now I’m here. I’m here and I’m slowed up. And I can clearly see all the things that I rushed past. The time I didn’t get with my children. The lovers that I shared something with and then they were gone. The two relationships that did mean something and I still didn’t slow down for. Time. Only time, but time can not be purchased only spent. And thinking about what has passed is no good at all. It can not solve a single heartache. It will not bring someone you love back. It can only keep you in a place where you are not dealing with reality. Where you overlook the ends because not only do the means not justify them, they are not even the same ends you were looking for.

I deal with real time now. I stay in the slow lane. In a hurry? Drive around me. All the things I could not wait to get to in the future I had right there in my past. Did you read that? Those things were never to be attained, they were already attained. Free of charge from life. Right there. And I hurried right past them. We all do sometimes.

I was a little too young to be a hippie. I sometimes wonder if I would have made a good one though. I have always wanted to drop out of society… As long as I can have my electricity… And a computer… And a truck to drive into town… Okay, maybe not. And I could never smoke pot it made me sick. So maybe I would have made a piss-poor hippie after all. But the ideal. The live life on life’s terms philosophy I could definitely have embraced wholeheartedly.

I Didn’t though. I joined the rat race. And I didn’t like the rat race so I stayed on the fringe of the rat race waiting… Where is my great life? What the hell is this? This is not what I wanted at all.

But it was. Maybe it is only maturity that makes us look at things differently. If so, thank God for it. It is okay to hate the rat race. We have to live it anyway unless you are really going to fill a knapsack with energy bars and walk off into the forest. No. You’re not and neither am I. So where is the solution?

The slow lane. No bull. The slow lane is the answer, but you will have to change your attitude to really appreciate it, but if you can you will find all the things that you thought you were running that rat race for are right there.

Right there is your child that you love and keep not spending time with. Right there is the man or the woman you love. The job you can be happy with. The life that can mean something.

There was a time in my life when I made on average twenty grand a week. No. That is not a misprint. And do you know how happy I was? … I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you because every fiber of my being was caught up in making that nut every week. Every bit. There was nothing left over. And there were men and women who knew me that wanted to be in my place. Truly.

I have done nothing but spend money and have not made a nickle in six months. Scary. It is when you have faith in yourself and you go for it. But what I do not do is put all of me that there is into things that are only really designed to pay the bills. I don’t.

I breath the air every day. I tell the people I love that I love them. If someone needs my time I give it. Yes, I work a lot of hours, but it does not own me anymore and it is not the reason I’m living… Can you see that?

Here are some words from a song I wrote called A Minor…

“I was never fixed in this world anyway… I was just sitting here waiting on a bus for the next.”

And that was true. I lived here in this world. Worked here. But it was not in my blood. I didn’t enjoy it: See it as good, or fulfilling, or enough… I just didn’t. So I just waited for it to end.

I don’t do that anymore. I live. I live for real. One of the things I have noticed is that people will make time for you, love you, and even tell you if you give them the time. So I do. I do, but I have noticed that a lot of people just smile and hurry past me on their way to… Well, I really don’t know, and I’m not sure they do either. But I know that if you slow down there is some space for you right here in the slow lane. You can ride shot gun with me. We’ll just take our time and enjoy the view…


I will leave you with a free short story for your Monday…


Rapid City Three

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three by Wendell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY: Wendell Sweet – Blog Edition

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three

Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet All Rights Reserved

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please point them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This short story is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet. Portions are copyright 2013, 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. This material is not edited for content.


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.


Rapid City

The streets of Rapid City were deserted, but I paid that no mind. It could appear empty and would make no difference in reality. In my world reality did not have much of a place, being mostly a notion.

I suspected that the dead were long gone, but that did not mean they hadn’t left some for me to deal with. They were known to do that, had on more’n one occasion that I could recall. I was not about to get myself caught that easy. I had no wish to be dead for ever and ever.

There was bodies ’bout every ten feet or so. Slaughtered. They wasn’t lookin’ to turn these men the way they was some you saw, no, they had meant to murder and murder is what they had done.

In the last six months I had already begun to wear a reputation as a murderer myself. It was a hard jacket to wear at times. Some men understood it, some men were downright uncomfortable with it, some had to know if they could take me. I had gone hunting the dead. Killing the dead. And it was ironic to me that after just six months I had a reputation of killing more of the living than the dead. Wasn’t true, of course, but like I say you got to wear the jacket. It ain’t a world where there is always time for questions at all. It was, in only six months, a world where it was best to kill immediate like. Fast. No thought: If not it would be you that was dead.

I had come across the Gulf Coast from Texas and taken some time in this town or that town. Mostly killin’ what should have been already dead. It was in a little pine board town just west of what had been Natchitoches that I began to see a livin’ in this. Purely by accident, but that was when I got fitted for that jacket and I been wearin’ it ever since. Was a woman in that pine town that got herself bit. Her man got to thinkin’ it would pass, or the federal boys had a fix up their sleeves they’d be along with right quick, so he chained her up inside their shack and waited. Love will make you do things like that. Not the only time I seen it.

The dead came for her. Ever night they came for her, and ever night he kept them from getting’ her. Drove them off, but the others in that town wanted something done about those dead that kept comin’ around ever night and killin’ some of their own. They didn’t know what the man had done.

There was a sheriff in that town, mostly scared of his own shadow, and it was him that come to me with the offer. I had just killed a man the day before in a gunfight. Livin’ or dead, that sheriff saw no difference. I checked the street careful as I walked.

I had taken thirteen of the dead out. Hid myself and waited for them. And then I had found the wife. Sent her on her way too. And the husband. Left me no choice. It may be that helped to fit that jacket a bit better. People get to talkin’ and the leave a lot of the story out. Not that the truth always sounds better. But the towns I hit after that pegged me as a man killer and a gunfighter. Hired me more often than not. That’s been six months passed now. And I had worked my way to this little pine board town. Done a little better than the others maybe… Maybe someone had a care for this place, hard to tell. What was easy to tell is they seemed all to be dead now.

I stopped now and stared down at drag marks in the sandy street. They lead off to the shadows of an alley across the way from where I walked. I loosed my gun strap, stretched the leather of my gloved hands for a good grip, and stared hard at the mouth of that alley. Spots of blood dotted the trail. In this heat that blood would’ve turned to rust in no time and then been picked apart by the wind what seemed to favor this street. No sir. That was fresh. It didn’t take no special sense or ability to see that.

A second after I loosed my strap they came for me. Six from the shadows direct in front of me, and the real threat from the sides. I had my second pistol out fast and threw myself down into the dust and rolled hard to the left, firing as I went. Killin’ shots, what I could see. I was up and runnin’ a second after the roll began when the dead were still trying to find their asses, and when I turned around and sighted I got four more, but missed one who was on me before I could get a head shot in. I put a knee in her guts fast like, crumpled her up, and put one in her head as she lay wondering what had happened. It was over that fast, but it was not the end.

I counted them up, nine; drug them out of the little pine board town and lined them up in the sand. Took their heads to be safe. It ain’t pretty work, then went to get my horse where I had left her nearby. They had done for my horse while I was afoot in the town. Cut her throat ear to ear, left her to bleed out. A zombie don’t want no horse flesh. They will partake of it, but they will not regular. And these had been feeding fine, judging from the dead that lined the streets. They killed them and ate them. They didn’t kill them to turn them, unless there were more I had not yet seen. That is the way the dead do it when they want to send a message to you. The message says I can do this and you can not stop me from it. I have my own message system though. My message is lead. Notched to fly apart and take their heads apart. And if I had not already got the ones what done this piece of work, I would.

It took a half hour of tugging to get my saddle off’n the horse and lug it back to town. I was not sure what it was I could do with it with no horse to wear it, but I was goddamned I’d leave it for the dead or time.

I come back into the town and made my way down the street slowly. Alley to alley. Building to building. I found four of them hiding under the supports for the saloon. There was maybe a two foot high crawl space there and they had wedged in tight. I backed up and they came out fightin’. Probably knowin’ they would die for sure if they did not. I checked the rest of the town, and afternoon was then comin’ on strong and I began to look for a fortress, not at all sure they was done with me, or I was done with them for that matter.

The church building set apart from the rest. The balance of the town had been slapped together, and like most pine board towns it had been done rough and slip shod. The term pine board town, or Piney as some said, had been coined to call these towns collective like. It did not mean they was pine, or even wood. It was a term only, because they was built with scavenged materials, and most of that was pre-apocalypse pine plywood. There was miles of the stuff in warehouses all over the south. There for the hurricanes that ripped through so often. The other favorite was tin roofing sheets. This town had favored chipboard. A substance that would not be long for this environment at all. A cheap alternative to the plywood. They had wrapped that with tar paper. It looked as temporary as it had turned out to be.

I carry with me some necessaries in my saddle bags, and I took them out and set up the little town before nightfall rolled all the way out.

It was a soft evening, and I could tell why those that still lay dead in the streets had favored it. The air rolled fine and cool off the desert working at the sweat on my brow that had risen as I had worked on the town. I sat in a wooden chair on the porch of the church and looked out at the wide sandy street and the desert that rolled away from it. Calm like. I waited for the dead that I knew would be coming for me to finish what they had started with the horse. They had cut me afoot for a purpose.

The blue moon had rose and she had begun to sail when I spied them comin’. I would love to say you could hear them, but it ain’t that way at all. They is quiet. Not like the livin’. The livin’ take noise with them wherever they go. The dead take quiet. It is goddamned unnerving. They can be where they were not just a second ago.

I had pulled both pistols and crossed them on my lap. Fingers through the guards, lightly caressing the triggers like they was a woman I favored, but I will tell you, in some ways, these were favored more and more by me over women. It seemed I got into trouble with women, out of trouble with these guns. Two of the men I had killed had been killed over women. Part of that jacket I spoke on. I believe that once you begin to kill it don’t take much to cross a border. And I have crossed borders easy.

I saw one. That one slipped just a bit out from the shadow. Another man mighta thought it was just a heat shimmer. The days heat leavin’ a buildin’ I’ve seen that too. It looks alike, but this was not that. Something told me this was not that and I took from that small look the speed of the walker and tracked slow like, and then another ripple come, and Another. So they was there then, I told myself. They was there.

I marked that first one and began to look in earnest for the others I knew had to be there, but I could not spot them, and so I went back to trackin’ the single one, askin’ myself if it could maybe be just the one. If it could. It warn’t though.

When the one that I was trackin’ slipped up the next time I let it begin. Best to have the odds on your side than them have them. The shadow slipped, I fired. I heard the impact as the body flew back into the side of that building. Cracked the wood. That started round two.

I had left that chair and took to the darkness at that first shot and I kept to it. If they like the dark and make it their tool you got to take that away from them. Make it your tool. Bring the fight to those godless bastards and stick it right down their goddamned throats too.

I crossed the sandy street and made my way into the shadows of that alley. If they had been there I mighta been done for there, but they was not there, and I had figured with close reasoning how they would not be there. It didn’t fit. It was too exposed for them. They like to sneak until they got to fight. When I mad the alley they cam out in the street, and the plan they had had to catch me flatfooted backfired. I had them in the bright moonlight and took a dozen out before they could turn and fade. Four in the street was not dead, but I taken my time and introduced them proper. Then we began to wait again, and the night wore on.

It was no more than a handful of minutes when I heard a noise over by the building where I had dropped the first one. A deep intake of air, and I knew I had lung shot a man. I could hear it. And walkers do not breath. They got no need for air in that way. I think they suck air in through their skin. I don’t know. But I do know they don’t breath, and ain’t no lung shot going to make no walker sound that away. I had shot a man. And, although that man was not dead yet, I had killed him. What remained for me was the mystery of what that man had been creeping on me for. And had I knowed it, I woulda killed him fast like, because a man will and can use a gun, unlike a walker. God forbid those bastards ever overcome their fear of fire and pick it up. We are done for then.

A minute or two after I heard the man, I saw a fast blur to my right, the other side from the church, and I blazed that whole building, dropped my clips, reloaded the ones I had emptied while I listened and waited. I listened to the lung shot man’s breathing and it was not good. I allowed my head to get lulled by that yearning to hear that man pull his breath so much that I almost missed it when they came at me.

Two sides at once, and damned if I didn’t get them all as they were comin’. All but the one that took me in the back and flattened me out right there in the street.

I managed to flip onto my back, but I was no better off. I had lost both guns and that walker knew it. She was on me hard and fast. Hissing, biting at me, clipped the end of my finger, had me scared for hours because of that. I got my sticker and drove it up hard through her chest and into her backbone. She arched hard, her back bent like a bow, mouthing wide, teeth flashing, and I was trying to pull that knife free when her head blew apart and she flew off the side. I got my eyes closed, but I still grimaced as I felt cold chunks of her head splatter against my face. I held my vomit, but barely, rolled off to my right, pulled my shirt up, buttons flying and cleaned off my face as best I could. It was then I thought to look for the lung shot man I knowed had to be there.

She was some tore up when I saw her. She had sagged to the ground just about where she had stumbled to and managed the shot.

I got my face as clean as I could and then got to my shaky feet and went to her. I was looking over that finger, worried as I went. It was bit bad, but the skin did not break.

She was most dead when I got there.

“What was it that bought you creeping on me like that,” I asked?

Her eyes were bright. The bottoms of those lids filled up to overflowin’ with tears, probably from the pain. A lung shot can hurt powerful. I seen a man or two go that way. For a woman she was holding it good. “Kin you hear me?”

She breathed it. “I… Can… Hear… You.” Spittin’ blood. A flood at the end.

I pushed her shirt aside and looked at the hole. It was bad enough. Close to the heart and suckin’ air. Blowing out little bloody bubbles when it wasn’t suckin’ air. “You…” she started and that was that. Her eyes fluttered and she was gone. I caught her head as she fell back and laid her gentle into the sand. Around me was death. All around me. I couldn’t look nowhere without seeing a body. And here was another one that I had also caused and had no idea about. But when a man kills for a livin’ it has its own answers sometimes. It does. I laid her out, stood and then bent low and said a prayer as best I could.

I don’t know God. I ain’t never met him, although I know some day I’m going to. I guess it just pisses me off that the man sets up there pullin’ my strings and ever body besides me too. Never mind it though, there ain’t no one else you can say a thing like a prayer to. And she would turn, I didn’t have the luxury of time. If she had creeped on me in life, what is it she might do in death? Maybe, I told myself she had closed those eyes for the last time thinkin’ ‘I’ll be back for you in a few minutes, Mister.’ Maybe… May be… I mumbled the words and I wasn’t near so eloquent or flowing as I hoped, as I was afraid she was on her way back. I stepped back and put one in her head and damn if she didn’t jump and hiss at me when I did.

I had thought about burial, but I did not figure a burial would do much. And there was too many. Where did you stop? Did I only bury her? No, I dragged them bodies, all them bodies into the buildings. The ones the dead had killed, the dead, and the woman too.

I thought as I dragged her in, that she had to have come to be there some way. I may never know the reason she come, but I did know she had, had to have got there some way.

I stepped back and then pulled a hand cloth from my pocket. Earlier I had taken a small can of lighter fluid from my saddle bags. I had located a bottle in the church. For what it was used I could not say. I used it to hold the lighter fluid, and now I dipped the rag into it and pulled it through the hole I had jacked into the bottle with my knife.

It was all dry. The church would maybe survive, depended on the vagaries of the winds, but the balance of the town would go. Maybe the fact that I had not purpose burnt the church would set well with God. There was a hope for it. I lit the cloth and tossed the bottle into the nearest doorway. I stood, cool air at my back, heat at my face, and watched as it caught. In a minute she was burning and catching in both directions. I walked away on the road out of town.

I found her vehicle just a few miles out. I had hoped for a horse, but the truck would have to do. It would get me to a horse, and that was enough. I settled my saddlebags into the open back, flexed my aching back, and then climbed in. I had not thought to look for no keys, but a funny thing about keys was that they had fallen into disuse after the world changed up. I had the truck runnin’ a minute later, and turned her away into the desert. Behind me I saw the flames lightening the skies behind me as I drove away.


I hope you enjoyed the short story, you can get the rest of the Rapid City stories here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276647

Here are some free book listings for you for today!

The Zombie Plagues Book One: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357698

The Zombie Plagues Book Two: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357703

The Great Go-Cart Race: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362984

The Zombie Killers: Origins: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412524

The Borderline: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487747

Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515457

Have a great week, Dell…

The week in review and a look at Rapid City one

Posted by Dell 07-12-2017

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 hotter 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

By Wendell Sweet


BLOG EDITION


PUBLISHED BY:

Wendell Sweet & independantwriters All rights reserved

Rapid City

Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet

If you would like to share this book with another person, please direct them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This short story is Copyright © 2013 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..

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.

Rapid City is Copyright © 2013 Wendell Sweet

All rights reserved


This material is used with permission

This material is not edited for content


 

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 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.

 

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 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. iTunes | Smashwords | Nook

 

Enjoy the rest of the week! I’ll be back next week, Dell…

TRUE: True stories from a small town 1

Posted by Dell 08-03-2015

This week: I have a true story from TRUE: True stories from a small town #1 These stories are from my past. I have three volumes published and I will probably add a few more this winter when I have the time.

Last week had been a long hot week here, but the humidity, despite the rain, fell over the weekend… Finally!

Things are going to continue to be absolutely crazy here as I adapt to the changes with my health, but so far I am doing that well.

I will leave you with this true story and my hope that you enjoy the holiday with family and friends…


Back in the eighties I drove taxi for a few years. That time of my life has provided tons of written material, but this is the only true story I wrote about that time period. I hope you enjoy it, and I will be back next week…

The Last ride By Dell Sweet

Single Edition Licensed for SOTOFO Blog

PUBLISHED BY: independAntwriters All Rights Reserved

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

This short story is Copyright © 2013 – 2015 Wendell Sweet & independAntwriters. 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


The Last Ride is Copyright © 2013 – 2015 Dell 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 had told myself for most of the last year that I should stop driving taxi, settle down to a real job and be more responsible, but then a Conrail contract came along, and then the opportunity to work with another driver who handled the Airport contract: 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 fulltime 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 at night 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 2:00 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 okay, 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 to 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 upon 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 quickly. 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,” Smitty told me over the static filled 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…

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I hope you enjoyed the story. I will be back again next week. Enjoy your week, Dell.

 Smashwords: TRUE: True stories from a small town #1