ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO preview

ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO

Zombie Plague: Book Two is copyright © 2010 Geo Dell. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Geo Dell

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Geo Dell

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

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ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO

 

One

On the road

~ March 26th ~

The camp was up before dawn, tents packed away and breakfast and coffee taken quietly together around the low embers of the camp fires. The breakfast didn’t consist of much more than the coffee and a few energy bars, but it suited their purpose well enough. The Dog, who still had no name, was going person to person and begging little tidbits even after his own breakfast of canned meat.

As the sun was touching the horizon, the small caravan of six vehicles were once again winding their way southward, leaving the roads where they were impassable and taking to the fields.

The two Suburbans that had been fitted with lifts and bigger tires had no problem with the on and off road transitions. It was tougher for the other four vehicles.

They monitored the radios as they drove along. Bits and pieces of conversation and skip came through the static. Sometimes clear, sometimes garbled and barely intelligible, but there were no conversations they could follow. Mike had never been a C.B. Radio fan, but Bob had been and he explained skip to everyone.

Skip could be two thousand miles away, or only a  hundred. It was a signal that hit the atmosphere just right, or cloud cover, or a mountain range, and carried farther than it normally would have. You might talk to someone a thousand miles away as clearly as though they were no more than a mile down the road. And you might have that conversation for ten minutes or two hours and then suddenly they were gone because those atmospheric conditions that had allowed the conversation had changed.

Early on, Mike had thought about Ham radio. You could reach around the world with Ham radio. But Bob had explained that Ham radio accomplished that with relays. All the people that did the relays were most likely gone, at least for now. Maybe they would be back eventually, but they had heard nothing but a soft electric hiss cutting across the miles the two times they had tried the bands, and no one had answered their calls.

The F.M. Band had also remained dead. It seemed all the traffic was on the C.B. Channels. The V.H.F. Bands, normally used for Marine conversations, were empty too. But that offered a secure option for them to talk without being overheard. As they drove through the morning now, they talked back and forth on the V.H.F. Band, monitoring the C.B. and the F.M. Bands.

~

They filled their tanks two hours after dawn at a collapsed gas station next to the interstate. A length of rubber hose connected to a hand operated Kerosene pump made the job quick. The only hard part had been locating the underground tank. The cover had been found though, the cap spun off, and the odor of gasoline drifted up into the air telling them that the underground tank had not been ruptured.

The little area that serviced the interstate contained a large garage, two small Mom-and-Pop stores, the gas station and a chain auto parts store right next to the garage, probably built with the garage in mind.

On the other side of the asphalt parking lot sat a motel unit that had seen better days. Most of the units were flattened. The swimming pool was cracked and empty; wire mesh and what looked to be a bottomless void graced the middle of the rust stained pool. A second row of motel units running parallel to the pool looked to be untouched. Across the road were two name brand outlet stores, obviously placed to take advantage of the interstate. They had pulled the trucks onto the cracked pavement of the gas station, and after they had finished gassing up the trucks, Mike had gathered everyone together.

Bob and Tom came back from checking out the garage and the auto parts store just after the trucks were gassed up. Bob nodded his head at Mike.

“You noticed Bob and Tom looking over the garage,” Mike said. “We’re thinking of stopping here. We’d probably end up here for a few days while Bob and Tom work on the other four trucks. And we need a few other things: tail gate swing outs that can hold a spare tire, gas can too, roof racks to carry gear, lifts, better, bigger tires… In short, the things we had intended to do back in Watertown.” He looked around, trying to catch the eyes of each person individually.

“You can see how much easier it is for the two Suburbans to get around wrecks, buckled roads, down in to and out of ditches. It just makes sense to give the other four trucks that ability, otherwise they’ll just be slowing us down. You saw a little of that this morning.”

“Makes sense,” Janet Dove agreed.

Molly nodded. “My only concern is, are those…” she paused and her face reddened, “People,” she managed after a long pause, “coming after us?” Her eyes were dark and questioning. Mike could read the fear in her posture.

“I doubt it,” Candace said. She spoke quietly but forcefully.

“We’ll listen in on the radios,” Nellie added.

“They won’t come. In the city they knew how to get around… Out here,” Patty waved her arms around, finally lifting them to the sky. “They wouldn’t know what to do. Couldn’t sneak up on us.” She shook her head. “I just don’t think they’re the kind that want to deal with even odds.”

Candace nodded in agreement. “You know, Molly. Spineless, right?”

Molly nodded and Mike watched the fear leave her and something closer to determination replace it. She nodded her agreement once more, looking directly at Candace as she did.

Mike cleared his throat and continued. “The reason we traveled on was to put some miles between us and them. It’s a long way for them to come. I don’t see it,” Mike said. He let the silent nods continue for a moment and then continued.

“There are other things we can do, things we need. Canned goods, maybe one of those cows, or a deer. They seem to be wandering everywhere. There really is enough to keep all of us busy for the next few days while Bob and Tom get the truck situation straightened out.” He paused but no one spoke. “So… If there are no real objections?”

“Let’s do it,” Molly said.

“Yeah, I’m for it,” Patty added.

~

As Mike turned away, Patty, Candace, Molly and Nell began to set up a plan for monitoring the radios. Everyone agreed that they would probably hear about anything coming their way long before it reached them. Molly went over to the garage a few minutes later and pitched in, helping Bob and Tom move whatever was in the way so that they could reach the racks and garage bays. There were two tow trucks that they used to do most of the work, but chains and muscle power accomplished the rest.

In the end, they cleared out three stalls that they could work in. Molly stayed, and not long after Nell found her way over and began to work side by side with her.

The garage was a prefab steel building that, either because of a whim of the Gods’ or its design, had remained standing. By the time some others were returning with a cow and two large does in the back of one of the pickup trucks, the garage was ready to go. Molly and Tom wheeled out a towering chain-fall for the hunting party to use to dress out the animals and then went back to work.

~

By late afternoon the third Suburban was well under way. The lift was done, brush-guards installed and they were working on the carrying racks. Mike and Ronnie stopped by to look over the effort and were amazed. The Suburban looked like something that had rolled out of some sort of Safari outfitters garage, or a futuristic end of the world epic, Mike joked. But that sent them all into silence for a few moments, and Mike didn’t mention it again.

Molly and Nell were working on bolting a huge winch to the front bumper of one truck while Tom and Bob worked on stripping out one of the pickups to get it ready for a lift kit.

Tim and Annie had made their way to the garage and then found themselves drafted and made part of the work crew. Annie was in the third stall laying out the parts they would need for the lift on the pickup truck while Tim worked at mounting the oversize tires to new, larger rims, using a pair of heavy iron bars and his body weight to accomplish the work. He and Annie joked back and forth as they worked.

They were using a small twelve volt air-compressor to inflate the tires after they had them mounted. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves, Mike thought, and they seemed happy to be in each other’s company.

Outside, near the far end of the garage, the chain-fall had been set up, and a group led by Janet Dove, which included Sandy and Susan, were hoisting a large cow up into the air.

“Mike,” Janet said as he and Ronnie passed by on their way out of the Garage.

Mike paused.

“We would like to smoke most of this meat… If we’re going to be here a few days, I thought…”

Mike nodded. “Yeah. Might as well, Jan. We have the time,” He assured her, “And, it’ll help to have the meat with us, who knows what’s ahead.” He shrugged.

Janet Dove smiled, turned away, and Mike stood watching as the huge cow began to lift into the air from the back of the pickup truck before he and Ronnie turned and walked away.

A few minutes later, the two of them fell in with Candace and Patty who were sifting through what the chain stores had to offer in the way of clothing, canned goods and whatever else they came across that they could find a use for. They passed by Lilly who had taken over the toy department, blocked off one aisle, and was keeping Brian and Janelle busy. She smiled and waved as they passed. Janelle waved back. Her dark eyes finally looking rested and happy.

Brian had built himself the biggest Lincoln Log village that Mike had ever seen and was now busy populating it with dozens of green, plastic Army Men. Mike smiled and Brian took the time out of his game to smile back at he and Ronnie. He held a large plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex in one hand which seemed to Mike about to wreak havoc on the village and its population of Army Men.

A half dozen trips with Candace and Patty, and late afternoon turned into early evening. Fires were burning to smoke the meat. Two large roasts were spitted over a huge fire pit made of field stone. A stew was bubbling in a pot that had been suspended over the flames. Nearly everyone had found a reason to stop by the area Janet Dove had set aside for cooking, most arriving just as she had been about to send some others out looking for everyone to round them up for dinner. The Dog was running around in circles, happily racing from person to person, tail wagging crazily. The smell of roasting meat hung heavy in the still, cool air.

~Early Evening~

Everyone sat close together at several wooden picnic tables that Janet had drafted a few volunteers to bring over from the collapsed section of the motel. They had sat in a small clearing not far from the building, untouched, while everything around them had been leveled.

The temperature was in the low forties, but with the early evening sun still shining, it felt much warmer.

Mike sat next to Candace, Ronnie on his other side. Across the table, Molly sat with Nell. They were both laughing, involved in conversation with each other. It was the happiest that Mike had seen Nell or Molly.

Canned potatoes, fresh beef and venison, a stew that held a bit of everything in it and a steaming platter of peas dominated the table center. Everyone had heaped up their plates. Too long eating thrown together meals or energy bars had left them hungry for real food.

Their basic protein needs had been met, but there was nothing like real food to make you… Happy, Mike decided. He looked around the table at all the smiling faces. It was actually a mood elevator, he decided.

“What’s on your mind, Baby?” Candace asked. Her eyes smiled, but her mouth wore a question he had come to know was more serious than her smile insinuated.

He bent forward and kissed her, making the smile on her face spread wider still. “I was thinking how happy everyone looked.” He turned his head and let his eyes sweep the tables once more, then turned back to Candace whose eyes and face now wore another look he was becoming familiar with. He bent forward and kissed her once more. “I’m pretty sure I love you,” He told her.

She laughed, “Pretty sure!” She slapped his arm with one hand. “You better be more than pretty sure, Mister.”

Mike laughed and kissed her again. “Positive,” he said. “I’d be lost without you.” His eyes turned serious. “That’s the truth,” His voice dropped to a near whisper as he leaned even closer. “I love you so much that I don’t have words for it. I only know it’s real. I only know I need you.” He kissed her once more and sat back up to catch Annie giggling and looking away.

Candace laughed beside him. An easy laugh that eased the seriousness of the conversation.

“I hope we’ll have some time later on,” she said, her voice still low, husky.

“I’ll make sure of it,” Mike told her.

“I was looking at that garage building,” Ronnie said from beside him.

Mike nodded.

“It’s one of those industrial prefabricated jobs. I’ve put up a few, but I had no idea how well engineered they were. They hold up pretty well, or at least this one did. The buildings not really damaged at all.”

“I noticed that too,” Mike agreed, “What are you thinking?”

“Well,” Ronnie grinned, “When we get where we’re going, it may not be a bad idea for a dwelling… or dwellings. At least for a temporary dwelling until we build… if we build. Lightweight, easy to put up. Easy to insulate. Not bad in an earthquake, if that stuff’s not completely done with us.”

Mike was nodding his head. “I’m for it, but are they hard to come by? I mean, where could we get one?”

“Not as hard as it seems. There are outlets where you can buy them in larger cities. And there are thousands already set up. We could take them apart pretty easily, take them where we want them and put them back up. All the structural supports are pretty much the same. You just add more or take away to make the building the size you need. Very lightweight, so they’d be easy to transport. They’d go up or down pretty fast,” Ronnie finished.

“Has my vote,” Bob added. “Fast, easy. They seem solid. It will save us a ton of time.”

“I’ve seen them around. I think it’s a good idea. We wouldn’t have to worry about wooden structures falling down on us.” Mike looked around. “Almost all the wooden structures are down. Concrete seems okay, for the most part, steel. But wooden structures just give too easily. Putting them up fast would also be a plus,” he finished. He raised his eyes from the ground – he had a habit of looking at the ground to visualize his thoughts – and saw that Molly and Nell had been listening to their conversation. They were nodding their heads in agreement.

“That garage is really solid,” Molly agreed.

“Cement’s cracked here and there, but the building itself held up really well,” Nell agreed. “I don’t even like walking into a wooden building anymore. You can feel it move, hear the creaks and groans… pops.” She shook her head.

Mike and Ronnie both nodded.

”It’s a good plan,” Mike said. He turned his head to Molly. “Where did you learn to turn wrenches?” he asked her.

Molly smiled. “My dad had a race car. It started out as a hobby but became something else. He’d work on it all week long and then run it in races on the weekends.” She smiled shyly. “When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, I used to go out and watch.” She laughed. “Pretty soon I was fetching wrenches, parts.” She laughed again. “The first time I came in with greasy hands, I thought my Mother was going to die. When I was fifteen, my Dad bought an old beat to shit Mustang. A sixty-four. It was a project car, he’d said. We’d work on it in our spare time together, finish it up and sell it for a profit.” She smiled and her eyes misted as she seemed to be looking back through the years.

“It took nearly a year of work. That was also the time I was eligible to get my permit. The day I got my license, he handed me the keys,” she finished, smiling happily at the memory.

“Pretty nice,” Candace said.

“Yeah, except it got smashed flat when this,” she lifted her hands and gestured helplessly, “happened. But once we’re where we’re going to be, I think I’ll try to find another one, or maybe a two door sixty-two Chevy Impala. I’ve always liked the way those Chevy’s look.” She shrugged, “Crazy, I guess, but I really think I’m gonna do it. There must be one somewhere.”

“I can see that,” Patty said. “Or something else worth rebuilding.”

More than a few heads nodded in agreement.

“Sometimes,” Patty added as an afterthought. “The thing you find is better than the thing you thought you wanted.”

Nell looked at Molly. Molly smiled, and Nell leaned closer and kissed her.

“You two?” Candace asked.

“Nell tempted me,” Molly said.

“It’s like Patty said, sometimes the thing you find is better than the thing you thought you would find… or want. I hadn’t expected this much out of life in the old world let alone this one,” Nell said smiling, but serious. She worked her hand into Molly’s and leaned closer to her.

Mike’s eyes swept across Patty’s face, expecting to see a smile but finding a distracted, sadness on her face instead. Patty swept it away so quickly though that he wasn’t sure just a second later that it had really been there at all. Maybe, he decided, he had imagined it. After all, Patty had found the better thing she hadn’t known she would find in Ronnie. There would be no reason for that sadness to be on her face. He found his own hand holding Candace’s, and she leaned into him for a kiss.

“Get a room, you guys,” Tim said as he and Annie passed by. Annie was blushing but had a huge smile on her face.

“Horn dogs,” Tim told her as they walked away, laughing with each other and holding hands as they went.

“Horn dogs?” Mike asked.

“I don’t know about you but I am no horn dog,” Janet Dove joked as she passed by.

The thought of prim and proper Janet Dove making a statement like that caused everyone to crack up. Janet stopped, a shocked look on her face.

“Good one, Jan,” Candace said.

“I can’t believe I said that,” Janet said.

Everyone cracked up then, including Janet Dove.

~Evening~

Candace lay in the crook of Mike’s arm as they talked quietly.

“Gotta go in about five minutes,” Mike told her. “My watch.”

“No,” Candace said. “You can’t go if you can’t get out of bed. Besides, we paid for the room for the night,” she finished and laughed.

Mike chuckled. “This is nice. Privacy, first we’ve had in… well, forever.”

“When we leave, we’ll be back to getting none at all again,” Candace told him. She snuggled against his side, one hand resting against the flat of his stomach, her index finger drawing small circles. “But,” she lifted her eyes to his. “I guess I have to let you go. Just think about that alone time for later.” She kissed him softly. “Something to keep you thinking about it.” She turned away, swung her feet to the floor and began to get dressed.

“You do give me things to think about,” Mike told her. He trailed his fingers down her back, bent forward and kissed her shoulder.

Candace looked back at him. “Do you want to make that watch?”

Mike laughed. “No, but I have no choice at all.” He leaned forward and kissed her mouth. “Later,” he said.

“Later,” She agreed.

~

The room had not been in bad shape. It was funny how fate could be, Mike had thought. One wing flattened, one untouched. From sleeping in a cave a day ago, to sleeping in a real bed the next.

The room was dusty, a slight musty, unused odor, but dry. The roof had held up. The walls seemed untouched.

“Where are you going?” Mike asked.

“With you.”

“You’re not on, Babe,” Mike grinned.

“Correction. I wasn’t on. You had Patty on, but she wanted to spend time with Ronnie, so we switched. That way, when we’re done, we can come back here again…” She cocked her eyebrows. “And take our time?”

“What, not be rushed?” Mike asked.

She stood and turned into him as he was getting ready to leave. A beautiful woman wearing only a pair of white socks, which was all she had managed to get on. She stretched up onto her tip toes and kissed him. His hands pulled her close. She pulled away with a smile.

“I thought you were coming with me,” Mike said.

“I am,” She giggled.

He reached for her once more, but she skipped away. “We’ll never get there, Baby,” she told him.

“As it is, I’ll probably be thinking about you throughout the whole watch and waiting to get back here. God, Candace, you’re so beautiful.”

She looked at him seriously. “Keep that up and we’ll never get out of this room.” She crossed the short distance between them and kissed him once more. “Say it just once more?”

“You’re beautiful,” Mike told her as he pulled her close.

~

It was about an hour and a half past sunset when Mike took over one of the perimeter guard posts from Susan. It was simply the far corner of the garage complex that overlooked a field and the highway beyond it.

“Quiet?” He asked.

“Pretty much. The dog… what’s that dog’s name anyway?” she asked.

“He doesn’t have one,” Mike admitted. “We, uh… we just call him The Dog, you know. He survived. He got through it same as us; he made it, you know. He’s The Dog.” Mike finished lamely.

“Oh. Sounds like a little guilt there, Mike. Maybe we should all get together and name it,” Susan suggested.

Mike nodded.

“Well, anyway… The Dog kept looking off towards the highway. He didn’t, like, bark or anything. I thought maybe deer, cows, something else. But with the meat drying, it could have drawn anything at all. The fires and so many people should be enough to keep anything away. Even if it’s wolves, they’ll probably stay away, right? I just thought you should know about it.”

Mike nodded. “Could be something, but you’re probably right. Most likely it’s nothing. I imagine the smell of the meat will draw every carnivore in the area. That’s okay as long as they don’t try to bother us. There will be plenty of scraps when we’re gone.”

Susan nodded this time. “Mike,” she hesitated and Mike nodded for her to continue. “Well, I wondered what you thought about Jan and Bob’s idea of settling in the wilderness. You know, deep in the middle of nowhere… a new Nation.”

Mike nodded slowly. “I think they really want to do it. I think they really believe in it, Susan,” he shrugged. Her eyes questioned him. “Okay… and… And I wish I could believe in it they way they do. Not that I believe it won’t work. I think anything we do will take hard work, a good deal of hard work,” he shrugged again. “And I think they’ll put the work in, I really do. Maybe you’re asking me what I want to do, and I can’t tell you that. I don’t know… I haven’t decided. It’s something Candace and I would have to take the time to sit down and decide, and we just haven’t had the time to do that.”

“You know, in my head the old world was selfish. It was all about selfish. The me-generation? Something like that. And I’m not saying I was any better. I wasn’t. Oh, I had my friends, and I helped them when I could, but when it came down to push or shove, it was me. It was me, and a lot of the people I knew, worked for, with, associated with, were the same way. Social on the surface, but scratch that surface and it’s a different story. Push or shove… and not an overly hard push or shove either.” He looked at her and Susan nodded.

“At least for me it’s been that way. I guess I sound cynical. But it’s not that way anymore. I’m not that way anymore. It’s not about me. It’s about me and Candace. And it really isn’t about us either. It’s deeper. There are people here I’ve really come to care about. I mean really care about. Do you realize that I haven’t watched T.V. Since the night this all started? Sounds ridiculous, right? None of us have, but I did computer work. Scripting, C, C plus, plus, graphics, more. I used to turn my computer on, turn on the T.V. for company and go to work. Eighteen hours sometimes, even longer on occasion. It… that… was my life. No relationships. No one to really care about. No time for it. And everyone I knew was the same way. Superficial. Shallow? Yeah, that too. Well… I don’t do that anymore; I don’t want to.”

Susan nodded. “Everyone I knew was too busy living to think about how they were living,” she said.

“That I do understand,” Mike said. “But not now, you know, somewhere, in some secure building, on some secure server I have a couple of bank accounts that were well over a million dollars each.” He laughed. “All means nothing now, Susan, nothing. I am happy with what I have. I don’t want what I used to have.” He sighed.

“The Nation? Probably a great idea. I can think of only a few things that I could do that would matter as much to me as that does to them. Kids… love… Candace, you know? Do it right, not like the old world. And that’s the rub. It depends on Candace… and the baby. She’s trying to get pregnant. It seems like almost everyone is.” He rubbed the flat of his palm along his jaw feeling the stubble that was softening into a beard. “If she wanted to do it, yes. If she wanted to travel to Alaska, yes. When the time comes, and it’s probably not all that far away in the scheme of things, but when the time comes for Bob and those that have committed to go with them, and those that will – I know there will be more – when that time comes, if Candace wants to go with them, I’ll jump in with both feet. That’s the truth of it.”

Susan’s eyes were misted. “Thank you,” she said.

“Thank you for being long winded and entirely too personal on short notice?” Mike asked.

Susan laughed. “No, for being honest. I think I’m going to go have a talk with a young lady. I’ll see you later, Mike,” she said. She smiled and then walked off into the shadows of the night.

Mike watched her go. Apparently everyone was more appreciative of people now, not just himself, he thought. He turned his attention to the field and the highway. After his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he could see the dark shapes of cattle grazing in the field, a few deer mixed in with them.

He thought about what he had just said, how much he felt for Candace. How for the next few nights they would have a real bed. His mind filled with thoughts of her. He almost missed the radio call, almost wrote it off as one of their own, until he realized it wasn’t.

~

“Hello the camp,” the voice repeated.

Mike unclasped the radio from his belt and raised it to his mouth and spoke. “I guess you mean us,” he said more calmly than he felt…




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The Zombie Plagues: Dead Road

The Zombie Plagues: Dead Road

Zombie Plagues: Dead Road

Books One through five were published, book six was not published for the series and the epilogue was also withheld. It would have come at a much later date in the series.
Bear and Beth. Billy and Pearl. Donita, Mike and Candace, and all the other characters are here. The saga begins and continues until the Outrunners face off against the dead and those that raise them in one final battle. They have only suspicions to guide them and nothing else.
Book One: Candace and Mike Meet and struggle to survive during and just after the apocalypse.
Book Two: The small group heads out in search of the Nation and a place to live without fear.
Book Three: The resupply trip that introduces Bear’s group and Mike’s group.
Book Four: The Story of Bear and Donita.
Book Five: The story of Billy and Beth
Book Six: The end of the line. The Outrunners face the dead one last time…
Over 450,00 words in total, six complete books and bonus material. Take a look at a free preview right now.


Zombie Plague: Dead Road

This book contains all the published Zombie Plagues books, one through five, as well as book six that was not published. It also contains a complete character bibliography and a small series epilogue. If you were waiting to read the complete series in one place, wait no more. From the first days of the apocalypse to the first babies, and then the epilogue, and the last days of Bear… More



This week from Geo Dell

This week from Geo Dell…

So last week mom is heading to the store and asks if I need anything. Sure, I say, a toothbrush.
So she gets the toothbrush and the next morning I get up and open it and it looks a little odd, thick handled, funny looking bristles, but it seems to work just fine.
So I use it all week and then I get up this morning, tired, no coffee yet and I’m standing in front of the mirror trying not to look at myself because I’m grumpy without coffee and frankly I can scare myself first thing in the morning at times; and so I glance down at the toothbrush and notice; for the first time, that it has these little nibs on it… Two… They stick up and look sort of like waterproof click-on/off switches I have seen on some flashlights.
So I push one, nothing, I push the other one and BZZZZZZZZZZZ.
This thing is vibrating so hard and buzzing that it tickles my mouth. I brush my teeth… Wow, I think; so I go out, get my first cup of coffee in me and tell mom that I realized the toothbrush was electric. She says, “Really?” Like i’m a complete idiot… Like she really might have dropped me on my head too hard a few times as a kid. I sigh, get up and go get a second cup of coffee. Everything will be fine I tell myself; you’re not really stupid, just a little slow on the uptake… 



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I finally got my quad monitor stand. This is a VIVO, Quad Monitor stand, up to 4 27″ monitors. These are my 4 19 inch DELL flat panels. I bought these used, class A condition. Their former life was medical monitors. Hope they weren’t in a bad place and they can forget all the stuff they have seen, lol.
The stand was under 40 bucks, returned item and repackaged, full warranty though. I like it.
I also uploaded models and made the links work at my game site https://dellsweet.sotofo.com/3DRAD/



No need for words   



WHITE FLAG: Dido

[Verse 1]
I know you think that
I shouldn’t still love you
Or tell you that
But if I didn’t say it
Well, I’d still have felt it
Where’s the sense in that?
I promise I’m not trying to make your life harder
Or return to where we were

[Chorus]
I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be

[Verse 2]
I know I left too
Much mess and destruction
To come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you
Can’t talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of “it’s over” …

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-fWDrZSiZs
Lyrics: https://genius.com/Dido-white-flag-lyrics



A site I put together for my modeling where you can download demos and software too https://dellsweet.sotofo.com/3DRAD/

#3DRAD GameBuilder GameSoftware



Check out my books on iTunes: Geo Dell



The Zombie Plagues on NOOK

The Zombie Plagues on NOOK (Barnes and Nobel) Check out the series and get book one FREE!
 
 
The Zombie Plagues Book 1: If the world ended tomorrow would you be able to survive? #Zombie #Nook #horror http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-book-one-geo-dell/1116974111?ean=9781492798668


 
The Zombie Plagues Book 2 follows a small group of men and women as they struggle… #Preppers #Dystopian
 
 
The Zombie Plagues 3. Life is good for some, but life in the real world is a different story #apocalypse http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-book-three-geo-dell/1117027340?ean=9781492798798


 
 
The Zombie Plagues Book 4: I saw the zombie take a mouthful of her back, just below the curve of her neck. #Undead http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-book-four-geo-dell/1117475716?ean=2940045439084


 
 
The Zombie Plagues Book 5 The Story of Billy and Beth and their flight out of L. A. #LosAngeles http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-geo-dell/1121785682?ean=2940151878876


 
 
The Zombie Plagues Dead Road: The Collected books.
Contains books 1 thru 6. Books One through five were published, book six was not…
 

The Zombie Plagues Book One. If the world ended tomorrow? What would you do? Would you be able to survive?

The Zombie Plagues Book One

If the world ended tomorrow? What would you do? Would you be able to survive?


THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES:

What if the world ended tomorrow? What would you do? Would you be able to survive? The Zombie Plagues books follow a small group of men and women as they struggle to survive on a vastly changed earth, where the dead sometimes do not remain dead. Follow along as they try to rebuild their own lives as they rebuild their world.

A great change was coming to the Earth. Catastrophe was about to change everything her people took for granted. It made some wish for death, but death was no longer a guarantee. For some death had become some other sort of life. A life they could not easily leave.

Several lone survivors live through what will become the dawn of a new world. The only thing these people had in common is that they all lived in the same small city in upstate New York. Before the week was out they would be thrust together in a struggle for survival. Before the month was out those that survived would begin to seek others who had lived through the catastrophe that had blighted the Earth. Looking for ways to stay alive…


The Zombie Plagues Book One

Created by Dell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY: Geo Dell and independAntwriters Publishing

The Zombie Plagues Book One

Additional Copyrights 2009 – 2015 Wendell Sweet & independAntwriters Publishing All rights reserved

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


This material is used on this blog with permission.

This material is not edited for content and is rated 18+


Evening

Dinner was eaten without a great deal of enthusiasm. No one found themselves too far away from their weapons. Mike made a point of talking to everyone during the meal, just a few words to see how they were doing, what was on their minds, or at least the most pressing thing on their minds.

Everyone was concerned about what could happen next. Two people had run off. Yes, they had set their weapons down, but there were weapons everywhere that they could pick up any time they wanted, weapons much nastier than the ex-GI who called himself Sin had gotten for them.

Mike had looked the two rifles over. They were both the same. A carbine that held a fifty round clip and was either semi or fully automatic with the slide of a small button. If the first guy hadn’t gone right down, he could have cut down Tom, Bob and the others easily. The second guy had laid his rifle down without firing a shot. What if it hadn’t gone that way? What if it didn’t go that way the next time? Those were the questions that mattered to everyone.

The second man and the woman had turned and run. Tom had berated himself for not stopping them, but as everyone had pointed out to him during the evening, what could he have done? Shoot them? Certainly that was not an option. But then Tom had said what was on everyone’s mind. What if they came back? What if they came back with Machine guns? Hand grenades? Or even, what they had the first time which were really very close to personal machine guns anyway, as far as Tom was concerned. Knowing that, and Tom had thought about most of that as they had suddenly bolted, but knowing all of that, that he or one of them may very well have to deal with those same two people again in the future, shouldn’t he have shot… To kill? To maim?

No one had answered at first when Tom had tossed his own doubts out and asked, but Mike had been about to. Before he could, Patty had spoken up.

“That’s a maybe, not a fact, not an absolute. And you can’t see the future. Maybe, maybe, someday we’ll have to deal with them. That doesn’t make killing them an option, doesn’t make it right. I mean, I’m scared too. They could come after us. Do they know where we are? But,” she lowered her voice which had risen with her passion, “It’s only fear. They might, they might not. If they do, I’ll shoot to kill. But until they do…

Do something… I couldn’t,” she finished.

Mike had let the conversations run their courses and nearly everyone had had something to contribute. But it became apparent that after dinner was over they were going to have to discuss it more fully, decide what they wanted to do about the situation, what the group wanted to do.

Mike looked around. The sun was setting slowly in the North East. The day had been a long one with nothing settled yet. The trucks had been unloaded and the supplies carried inside the cave. The back of the Suburban had been cleaned up. Dinner was over. The dog, which was still lacking a name as far as Mike knew, was nosing around playfully with the two children, wagging his tail. The children were smiling, coming out of themselves already. Mike was surprised, but happily so. The chill of the night was moving in on the air that rose from the river and flowed across the asphalt and dirt at the front of the cave.

“Why don’t we take this inside?” Mike said at last. “We’ll all get comfortable and figure out what to do, how we want to handle this.” It seemed that everyone had been waiting for that announcement. Within just a few minutes everyone was picking up items and heading into the cave out of the growing darkness.

Mike watched the two children laughing as they ran into the cave with their newest friend close at their heels, tail thumping against their legs. Mike looked over to where Annie walked with Patty and Candace. She was smiling also, in spite of the day. In spite of the heaviness of his spirit, he felt a smile rise to his own face. He hurried to catch up to Candace and the others, walking into the cave with them.

~

Tom went first. It was obvious to everyone that he blamed himself for letting the two run off, but it was also clear that no one – some after hearing what Tom had to say, some after giving it more thought – had placed the blame on Tom, except Tom himself.

Janet Dove went on for quite some time about it in an obvious attempt to cheer Tom up, but that didn’t look to be possible, Mike thought. Then Nell spoke, relating what the woman who had been shot had told her before she had died.

“She told me he had been stationed at the base, but he’d been A.W.O.L. for quite some time before things went bad. No one knew his real name; he went by the handle Sin. The other guy, the one that ran off, called himself Death. It was some sort of private joke between the two of them,” Nell grimaced, as if to say she saw no joke, private or otherwise. “No one knew whether they had served together or only ran into each other once things got bad. But they had both been soldiers, and they decided to walk back out to the base for weapons.”

“They never did make it back out there though, but found the two rifles they were carrying somewhere in town. The other woman that ran off was Death’s woman. They all met each other on the street. Emma, and Wanda, the one who ran off, had met Death and Sin. The four of them had found Ann and the two smaller children a few days after that. She just kept telling me Sin wasn’t a bad guy, just wired,” Nell finished. A low murmur greeted her last words. Mike looked around.

“She didn’t say she thought that; she said the woman thought that,” Mike said. Annie spoke up in the silence that took over.

“Did a lot of cocaine,” she said quietly. “All the time. Death did a lot of speed. Between the two of them you never knew what they might do. Sometimes they mixed it. They tried to get me to do it…” Her voiced trailed off to nothing.

Mike shook his head, bad thoughts running wild through it. “There was nobody else, Annie,” he asked?

“No,” she answered.

“Well, that’s something,” Bob said.

“You think so?” Lilly asked. She looked pasty sitting next to Tom. Too pale. Too fragile. Too young to be involved in all of this.

“Well, it’s only two is what I mean. And they saw there were more of us than them,” Bob finished.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Candace said. “They saw a few more. And they’re only two. There are probably others. That’s what we really have to talk about… others… the fact that we could’ve already had this problem several times over. Who knows how many little groups are wandering around out there? Are they all like that? Probably not, but how are we going to be now?” She looked around, “Trusting? Naive?  I hope not either. But we will be some way. We have to be. We can’t close our eyes and just tell ourselves there aren’t people like that out there, because there are.”

“So, that’s it,” Mike said after a few moments of silence. “We need to discus it. What options do we have? Who has some ideas?”

“Better weapons,” Tom said.

“At least that,” Ronnie agreed.

“No more going out on trips split up,” Nell suggested.

“Maybe we should leave now,” Tim threw in.

“Maybe we should,” Lilly agreed.

Tom had lowered his head as he often did when he listened. He would turn his head toward the speaker and listen as they spoke. His head shot back up and his eyes focused on Lilly, but he said nothing. Candace shot Mike a quick look. Mike shrugged his shoulders.

“No guarantee that we wouldn’t run into the same type of people no matter where we might go,” Mike said.

“Probably would,” Patty added.

Candace nodded. “Bad is bad. It’ll be everywhere.”

“If we went back to the land,” Bob said, “Far enough out, who would there be to bother us?”

“But,” Candace said, “Not everyone wants to do that, Bob.”

“Maybe it’s the only way,” Bob came back.

“I don’t want to do it,” Patty said. “But I don’t want to live in a cave either, and here I am. I also don’t want to live in fear of what someone might or might not do.”

Mike raised his hands palms out in a gesture of conciliation. “We can talk about leaving,” He said.

“Maybe we’re all not wanting to go to the same place,” Janet Dove said.

“Maybe,” Mike agreed. He tried not to show it, but her remark surprised him. He knew she wanted to go back to the traditional Native way of life, but, hell, everything was nature now, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that the same thing?

“I didn’t really want to go,” Tom said. “But,” he looked over at Lilly, “Now, I don’t know.”

Even Candace’s head shot up. It seemed everything was a surprise tonight, Mike thought.

“Maybe,” Mike said, “We need to air all of this out.” He waited until all the little side conversations that had sprung up fell silent.

“It seems everyone has something on their mind. Maybe this is the best time to get it off your mind. Speak your mind. Let it go. We should work out where we all are, where we want to be, where we’re going to, what we’re working towards… I’ll be honest,” he paused, “I was surprised twice in a couple of seconds. What I thought I knew about some of you… What I had thought you had said, turned out to be wrong. We can’t… No… I can’t tell you what to do, but we shouldn’t do that to each other. We should all know what page we’re on. True?”

“It’s not like you can’t change your mind,” Candace said. “It’s your mind, your life. But to plan for all of us, we need to know where we’re going, where we are, don’t we?”

Bob spoke: “You’re right, of course. I guess once Sandy came along we started to think more about the real kind of life we wanted to live. I have always wanted to live, but I think I speak for Jan and Sandy too, I have always wanted to live the Native lifestyle. I want to go back to the land…  I mean really go back. I don’t want to live in a cave either. And I’m not saying I want to live in a longhouse even. It’s the way of life I want, the stories I heard as a child. Only do it right this time, not give up our land, live on it… with it. Can you see that?” He seemed defensive but enthusiastic.

“I can see it,” Mike said. “I can’t say it’s for me, not yet. Maybe it will be someday,” he shrugged his shoulders, “But… But I don’t know what else might be left. Could the world really be destroyed? All of it? Everything? I can’t imagine it, not all of it. Not everything. I’m not saying I want my T.V. back, but I’m not sure I want to move into a cave either.” He grinned and looked around. “But I did. I’ll admit that. It’s the first thing I did. Maybe that says something… and not just about me. But that’s me. If Bob’s not talking about living in a cave or a long house…” He shrugged again. “I don’t know… We each have to make up our own minds. You have to live true to you, because if you don’t, you are nothing.” Silence held. Bob nodded his head a few times.

“So… What are you going to do, Bob? What are you really talking about? I mean, say it so we know,” Patty said.

Bob looked from Janet to Sandy. “We have to decide, but we will go – we just haven’t decided where yet –  back into the wilderness… the lands… somewhere isolated. But we want to bring more people. It wouldn’t work with just a few of us. So we would like to go with you with the understanding that we would eventually go out on our own,” Bob finished.

“So you would try to recruit people from the people we meet along the way?” Ronnie asked.

“You make it sound like stealing,” Bob said.

“No. No,” Ronnie said. “I don’t mean to make it sound that way. But it makes it kind of hard to get behind. Here we would be trying to bring people together, and you would be trying to convince them to something else. We’d be trying to get them to work with us, and you’d be trying to get them to work with you. It might drive them away if they think we can’t even agree how it should be between us,” Ronnie finished.

“Stealing,” Bob said again.

“No… It’s… This is a community,” He looked to Mike and Candace who nodded for him to continue.

“So… it’s a community and we would be trying to get everyone to work together. You see?”

“Are you saying you wouldn’t have us because of that?” Sandy asked.

“No one said that at all,” Candace said.

“Certainly not,” Mike agreed. “It’s not like that. If you want to come, you come. I can see where you would be an asset to us. I can also see your need to do this thing you want to do. I can see where you would need more people to do that. I can see where I might be convinced to go with you. Let’s not shut doors. Let’s not start mistrusting or trying to read things into what we say. Ronnie asked the questions any of us might have. In fact I would have if he hadn’t.  The people you need for what you want to do are probably not going to be the same people we need for what we want to do. It’s a different type of life. Different people… Different ideals… Different purpose, dreams, directions. How could that hurt either of us? I don’t see where it could. Let’s not go back to the old world view, fear of what we don’t know about each other; let’s just let it be. No one has decided yet to go with us or you. We don’t even really know if we’re on opposite sides yet,” Mike concluded.

“I agree,” Ronnie said. “I didn’t mean to imply that I have some great plan or idea. I could find myself wanting to go with you when the time comes too. Mike makes sense. Maybe we don’t want the same things, maybe we do. And after today, I think it would be safer if we all travel together. Less inviting to trouble.”

Bob nodded, satisfied. Silence held for a few seconds.

“He’s not coming back. I know that,” Nell said. Her eyes teared up. “My husband,” She added after a short pause. “I lied to myself, you know. I don’t want to believe he’s gone. But I don’t want to wait here, stay here; I want to go with you guys. This place is… like a city of dead,” she finished.

Make that three surprises, Mike thought to himself.

“I want to go,” Tom said. “I… I want to go.”

Mike nodded.

“I want to go,” Lilly said.

Mike had been sure that if Tom had said he wanted to stay, Lilly would have wanted to stay too. Now he wasn’t sure. It seemed now it might be the other way around.

Annie was looking from face to face.

“I don’t want to stay here,” she said at last.

“You could come with us,” Tim said. He smiled. “You want to, right?” he asked. His smile faltered a little.

She answered him with her own smile. “I want to.”

“Good,” Tim said.

Mike looked around. Amazing, he thought. “I’m amazed,” he said. Echoing his own thoughts.

“When?” Bob asked.

“Today changes it. Doesn’t it?” Patty asked.

“Does it?” Mike asked.

“I think so,” Ronnie said.

“I do too,” Tom agreed.

“Yeah, it has to,” Sandy agreed.

“Well, then it does,” Mike said. “What do we… what do you want to do? Leave sooner?”

Yes, they all answered in unison. He blinked, surprised again. “My concern is winter,” he told them. “I don’t like this situation either. We could have two people out there with weapons waiting to come after us… Coming around, maybe taking shots at us,” He shrugged. “Or maybe they’re as scared as we are. Just as scared. And maybe we shouldn’t over react because of that fear. In any case, the days are colder. It’s still winter. It could snow at any time. We have shelter here. Yes, it’s a cave, but we’re not cave men because we’re living in a cave. It’s shelter. We know the area. We know where to get gas for the trucks, food, supplies.”

“It’s close to April,” Patty said. “Just a few days really.”

“So we could shoot for getting ourselves ready to go by April first,” Mike said. “Supplies.” He looked around at the supplies in the vast cave. “April first. If the weather’s good, we go,” He paused. “Everyone agreed?”

Another chorus of Yes answered him. Even the dog barked and wagged his tail. The looks on nearly everyone’s face showed relief. The dog’s enthusiastic and well timed bark caused most of them to break into laughter. Relief, Mike thought.

“Until we go,” Mike waited for the talking and the laughter to die down “We only go somewhere together, and we take one of these carbines when we do.” He held up one of the rifles they had taken away from the two young men just hours before. “The other stays here to protect the cave. Double the guards at night, starting tonight.” He paused again, but no one spoke out. “Guess that’s it,” he said quietly. “We’ve decided.”


Get this book right now!

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-book-one-geo-dell/1116974111?ean=9781492798668

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-book-one/id712828059?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357698

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Plagues-Book-One/dp/1492798665


 

The Zombie Plagues Book two preview

The Zombie Plagues Book 2 follows a small group of men and women as they struggle to survive in a new world… 


Copyright protected material used with permission


Donita and the boy

The fires burned bright, freshly banked for the night. She could not say what it was in fire that frightened her, but it did. It touched something deep inside, something that she could sense had not always been there. Like at one time she had embraced fire the same way the breathers did. Now it only frightened her.

Behind her, the boy whined, high pitched and frightened. The fire did the same thing to him. She turned and allowed a growl to slip from her cracked and peeling lips, and the boy quieted down immediately.

She looked back toward the fires. She should have gone already. She should have taken the boy and moved on. The breathers could mean death to both of them. The dog kept coming around. And now there was another dog. She could smell her.

But the breathers didn’t usually hang around that long. Others had come and gone just as quickly. These should have been gone when the moon rose into the night sky, packed up and gone while she and the boy had been in twilight. But they were still there. Their terrible fires burning and sending their stink into the air, creating heat. Heat was an enemy of all things cold, she told herself. And she was a thing cold.

She stood, her legs flexing easily, something they did not do just a short time ago. Behind her, the boy stood also, soundlessly, and although she did not see him – hear him – she felt him. She knew he had stood, knew he was waiting for her to move, knew that he believed the entire world revolved around her. All this with no words, touches, conscious thoughts.

She looked off through the trees to the opposite side of the road, across from where the breathers were camped.

Her new eyes saw more than her old eyes had ever seen, though not precisely as she had seen with those other eyes. This sight was not suited to daylight. It could see – would see – in daylight, but not well. The lesser light of the moon was the light she needed.

She could see for more than a quarter mile clearly. But it was not just about the seeing. Smell, the feel of the air upon her skin, things that could not work the way they used to work, now worked with her eyes. She saw the scent on the wind. She perceived the movement of air across her skin with her eyes. She saw it. Her eyes were her windows to the world.

She saw the rabbits far across the field, past the other road, and rabbits were fine, but it was not the rabbits that had attracted her. It was the boy, not much older than the one behind her, that had caught her attention.

He carried rocks in a pouch, held a weapon in his hand as he stalked the rabbits.

He was alone. It was a thing that she knew. He was not a part of the breathers that were camped not far away. He was a loner, and he had managed to avoid the ones like her that must have scented him, followed him. She scented the air and drank in the information.

Alone… Hungry… Mistrustful. He stumbled, and the rabbits spooked. Before he could react, the rabbits were across the balding grass patches near the trees on the opposite side of the road and into the tall grass. She could feel them running through the grass. Tiny hearts beating fast, knocking against their rib cages. She tracked the boy at the same time. He had lunged for the tall grass and then had fallen back. His head came up, scenting the air the way breathers did, and she knew he had caught her scent, the same way any hunted animal did, even when they did not yet know they were hunted. It had been the reason he had stumbled and frightened the rabbits. She said nothing, simply flexed her leg and leapt into the tall grass, the boy behind her.

The woods emptied out into a narrow valley sparsely populated with scrub pines, a small creek running through the bottom. The boy made the creek at a dead run, but the fire in his side caused him to stumble. She was not there to see him stumble, but she knew it just the same. A second later the boy was on him, knocking him flat to the ground. When Donita came upon them, the boy had his hands tightly around the boy’s throat, riding his chest as he bucked and thrashed. She flew upon them, pushing the boy aside, driving a knee into the boy’s throat and closing off the air he had been fighting so hard for. She pressed her body hard against his, stretched out flat upon him, and held on as he thrashed and clawed.

~

He fought hard, but he faded just as quickly. With no air, breathers could not fight long. Something she had learned, had known, she told herself now, but she did not remember how she knew, she only knew that she did. When at last he stopped his fight, she rolled off him and rose to her full height, towering over him, looking down at him.

He was barely as big as the boy she had already. He would be just as ignorant too, stupid… but open to learn, and he seemed stronger, built bigger. Wherever he had been – and she could smell places on him that she had never known – wherever he had been, he had used his rocks and weapon well, kept himself well fed. She sighed. It was not her choice alone, and she could feel that the boy resented him, did not want him to be a part of them. She waited for his emotions – still so much like the breather he had been – to pass…

NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-book-two-geo-dell/1116974114?ean=9781492798743

Home work and a free short story, The Dam

Posted by Geo 10-16-2015

Home work and a free short story, The Dam…

This past week I let all the work there still is to do on this house go and kicked back and wrote. This winter I will catch up on my other projects and that should be fine.

What went on this week:

Monday night my cat kept me up all night long yowling. There was a female outside and when I let him out Tuesday morning, that was it. He never came back.

Tuesday I spilled a very small amount of coffee onto the keys of my laptop and messed it all up. How you might ask could I be so stupid as to spill coffee on my keyboard? I don’t know. Plain old stupidity… Half awake… A cup of coffee in my hands… All the above. After determining that, yes it was fried, I bit the bullet and headed to eBay where I found a replacement.

Wednesday I wrote all day and into the next day (3:00 AM). Sparrow Spirit came back from editing and I set it up and released it on Amazon. I also added the first book to Amazon and then made the series Amazon exclusive. More about that in a minute.

Thursday I did the same, and then tried to put together some computer parts I purchased. Failed. Realized I had bought a BTX form factor Motherboard (Advertised as an ATX), and even though it would not have fit the case I bought, I had not purchased the ATX case I thought I had, but a MATX case. Confused? So was I. After a gazillion hours trying to make it all fit I went online and looked for solutions. Ha Ha, I say that with the deepest sarcasm.

To fix the situation I needed to purchase a BTX form factor case, but I quickly found out a BTX case is hard to come by and more expensive than the whole combination I had bought. So I looked for an MATX board  to put the processor I had purchased on, but an MATX board, at least the ones I found, would not hold as much memory. They were generally more expensive with less to offer.

Which begs the question, why? I have noticed that a lot over the last several years. Want to buy a dog? Well a German Shepherd or a Malamute, both about the same size, will cost about the same price. But  a small dog, I won’t mention the breed costs more than either of those dogs. Huh. On that subject: As a dog, if a cat can kick your ass you’re probably too small.

Anyway, I finally decided to buy an ATX board and case. That worked except I was out more green. BTW if you followed all of that you are probably as geeky as I am.

Friday I did some editing on Smashwords books. Writing, and eating Candy Corn. I have to admit it was great to get back to writing, but the Candy Corn was pretty good too. And listing all of those computer parts I bought that I  no longer need. Let’s see. I spent about $250.00 in parts that I didn’t use, and another $200.00 in parts to actually build the thing; plus the cost of another laptop (Used on eBay), a really good deal for $125.00, I would say this week the computers won. And the thing is, in this society you cannot do without them. I guess I’ll be happier on Monday when the laptop shows up and in a week or so when I put my fast computer together and convince myself that I am not really an idiot at all, technology is just faster than it used to be… Did that make sense? No.

What did I learn this week?

#1. Cats are not very useful when it comes to making you feel good about yourself. I mean they take off chasing the lady cats and don’t even bother to come back. That is a direct hit to the old self esteem. Of course maybe he was kidnapped or eaten by a dog, or a Sasquatch: After all there have been a great many Sasquatch sightings lately on the National Geographic channel of all places. I hope he didn’t suffer. That is of course if he was eaten. If he did run off with a lady cat I hope she takes him for everything he has.

#2. Laptop computers really suck. I have spilled whole sixteen ounce Cokes on my desktop keyboard, no problem except the keys began to stick bad. Also the laptop keyboard stayed screwed up, I had to plug in a USB keyboard to type with, until I bought the replacement laptop. Second, I looked up form factors with Google. Holy Crap. The odds of me getting the wrong parts are very high, especially since some people that sell them don’t have a fricken clue what they are selling. There are dozens of form factors. Let me geek this out for you. Form factor refers to a common build for a particular board, across different manufacturers. Same pin connections, width, length. Etc. The last time I built a machine I only knew of two form factors, ATX and MATX which is a smaller board, and then there were proprietary boards built by some manufacturers. Yeah. No longer. So now I think spend the extra and have someone else build it to your specs. And after I get through this fiasco I will do that the next time.

#3. Writing is easier on the body than building a house is.

#4. I am no longer sure I should drink and keyboard. Coffee, Coke, it always ends up on the board before I am finished.

Other stuff:


Earth’s Survivors News: The first four Earth’s Survivors books have been put in a collection or SE series. Buy two books at a time and save money, plus get more for your buck too:

SE 1 | SE 2 | SE 3 | SE 4 | SE 5


 

The Zombie Plagues: The five books that make up the series and an few bonus books.

Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Book 4 | Book 5 | Box Set | Dead Road


 

Everything else is in line and going well. Well, except computers, Cats and coffee cups.

I will leave you with a true short story…




THE DAM by Wendell Sweet

Copyright 2010 – 2015, Wendell Sweet and his assignee’s.

All rights reserved, electronic or traditional print.


Blog Edition: Used with permission

This work is copyright protected. You may read it in its present form. You may not alter or transmit it by any means. If you would like to share this material with someone, please direct them to this URL. This is not a work of fiction. The people and circumstances really existed and I have faithfully reproduced the circumstances without excessive artistic license. I have changed names to protect innocent people.


THE DAM


It was summer, the trees full and green, the temperatures in the upper seventies. And you could smell the river from where it ran behind the paper mills and factories crowded around it, just beyond the public square; A dead smell, waste from the paper plants.

I think it was John who said something first. “Fuck it,” or something like that,” I’ll be okay.”

“Yeah,” Pete asked?

“Yeah… I think so,” John agreed. His eyes locked on Pete’s, but they didn’t stay. They slipped away and began to wander along the riverbed, the sharp rocks that littered the tops of the cliffs and the distance to the water. I didn’t like it.

Gary just nodded. Gary was the oldest so we pretty much went along with the way he saw things.

“But it’s your Dad,” I said at last. I felt stupid. Defensive. But it really felt to me like he really wasn’t seeing things clearly. I didn’t trust how calm he was, or how he kept looking at the river banks and then down to the water maybe eighty feet are so below.

“I should know,” John said. But his eyes didn’t meet mine at all.

“He should know,” Gary agreed and that was that.

“That’s cool. Let’s go down to the river,” Pete suggested, changing the subject.

“I’m not climbing down there,” I said. I looked down the sheer rock drop off to the water. John was still looking too, and his eyes were glistening, wet, his lips moved slightly as if he was talking to himself. If he was I couldn’t hear. But then he spoke aloud.

“We could make it, I bet,” he said as though it was an afterthought to some other idea. I couldn’t quite see that idea, at least I told myself that later. But I felt some sort of way about it. As if it had feelings of its own attached to it.

“No, man,” Gary said. “Pete didn’t mean beginning here… Did you,” he asked?

“No… No, you know, out to Huntingtonville,” Pete said. He leaned forward on his bike, looked at john, followed his eyes down to the river and then back up. John looked at him.

“What!” John asked.

“Nothing, man,” Pete said. “We’ll ride out to Huntingtonville. To the dam. That’d be cool… Wouldn’t it?” You could see the flatness in John’s eye’s. It made Pete nervous. He looked at Gary.

“Yeah,” Gary said. He looked at me.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “That’d be cool.” I spun one pedal on my stingray, scuffed the dirt with the toe of one Ked and then I looked at John again. His eyes were still too shiny, but he shifted on his banana seat, scuffed the ground with one of his own Keds and then said, “Yeah,” kind of under his breath. Again like it was an afterthought to something else. He lifted his head from his close inspection of the ground, or the river, or the rocky banks, or something in some other world for all I knew, and it seemed more like the last to me, but he met all of our eyes with one sliding loop of his own eyes, and even managed to smile.

~

The bike ride out to Huntingtonville was about four miles. It was a beautiful day and we lazed our way along, avoiding the streets, riding beside the railroad tracks that just happened to run out there. The railroad tracks bisected Watertown. They were like our own private road to anywhere we wanted to go. Summer, fall or winter. It didn’t matter. You could hear the trains coming from a long way off. More than enough time to get out of the way.

We had stripped our shirts off earlier in the morning when we had been crossing the only area of the tracks that we felt were dangerous, a long section of track that was suspended over the Black river on a rail trestle. My heart had beat fast as we had walked tie to tie trying not to look down at the rapids far below. Now we were four skinny, jeans clad boys with our shirts tied around our waists riding our bikes along the sides of those same railroad tracks where they ran through our neighborhood, occasionally bumping over the ties as we went. Gary managed to ride on one of the rails for about 100 feet. No one managed anything better.

Huntingtonville was a small river community just outside of Watertown. It was like the section of town that was so poor it could not simply be across the tracks or on the other side of the river, it had to be removed to the outskirts of the city itself. It was where the poorest of the poor lived, the least desirable races. The blacks. The Indians. Whatever else good, upstanding white Americans felt threatened or insulted by. It was where my father had come from, being both black and Indian.

I didn’t look like my father. I looked like my mother. My mother was Irish and English. About as white, as white could be. I guess I was passing. But I was too poor, too much of a dumb kid to even know that back then in 1969.

John’s father was the reason we were all so worried. A few days before we had been playing baseball in the gravel lot of the lumber company across the street from where we lived. The railroad tracks ran behind that lumber company. John was just catching his breath after having hit a home run when his mother called him in side. We all heard later from our own mothers that John’s father had been hurt somehow. Something to do with his head. A stroke. I really didn’t know what a stroke was at that time or understand everything that it meant. I only knew it was bad. It was later in life that I understood how bad. All of us probably. But we did understand that John’s father had nearly died, and would never be his old self again, if he even managed to pull through.

It was a few days after that now. The first time the four of us had gotten back together. We all felt at loose ends. It simply had made no sense for the three of us to try to do much of anything without John. We had tried but all we could think about or talk about was John’s father. Would he be okay? Would they move? That worried me the most. His sister was about the most beautiful girl in the entire world to me. So not only would John move, so would she.

He came back to us today not saying a word about it. And we were worried.

When we reached the dam the water was high. That could mean that either the dam had been running off the excess water, or was about to be. You just had to look at the river and decide.

“We could go to the other side and back,” John suggested.

The dam was about 20 or 30 feet high. Looming over a rock strewn riverbed that had very little water. It was deeper out towards the middle, probably, it looked like it was, but it was all dry river rock along the grassy banks. The top of the Dam stretched about 700 feet across the river.

“I don’t know,” Pete said. “the dam might be about to run. We could get stuck on the other side for a while.”

No one was concerned about a little wet feet if the dam did suddenly start running as we were crossing it. It didn’t run that fast. And it had caught us before. It was no big deal. Pete’s concern was getting stuck on the little island where the damn ended for an hour or so. Once, john, and myself had been on that island and some kids, older kids, had decided to shoot at us with 22 caliber rifles. Scared us half to death. But that’s not the story I’m trying to tell you today. Maybe I’ll tell you that one some other time. Today I’m trying to tell you about John’s father. And how calm John seemed to be taking it.

John didn’t wait for anyone else to comment. He dumped his bike and started to climb up the side of the concrete abutment to reach the top of the dam and walk across to the island. There was nothing for us to do except fall in behind him. One by one we did.

It all went smoothly. The water began to top the dam, soaking our Keds with its yellow paper mill stink and scummy white foam, just about halfway across. But we all made it to the other side and the island with no trouble. Pete and I climbed down and walked away. To this day I have no idea what words passed between Gary and john, but the next thing I knew they were both climbing back up onto the top of the dam, where the water was flowing faster now. Faster than it had ever flowed when we had attempted to cross the dam. Pete nearly at the top of the concrete wall, Gary several feet behind him.

John didn’t hesitate. He hit the top, stepped into the yellow brown torrent of river water pouring over the falls and began to walk back out to the middle of the river. Gary yelled to him as Pete and I climbed back up to the top of the dam.

I don’t think I was trying to be a hero, but the other thought, the thought he had pulled back from earlier, had just clicked in my head. John was thinking about dying. About killing himself. I could see it on the picture of his face that I held in my head from earlier. I didn’t yell to him, I just stepped into the yellow foam and water, found the top of the dam and began walking.

Behind me and Pete and Gary went ballistic. “Joe, what the fuck are you doing!”

I heard it, but I didn’t hear it. I kept moving. I was scared. Petrified. Water tugged at my feet. There was maybe 6 inches now pouring over the dam and more coming, it seemed a long way down to the river. Sharp, up-tilted slabs of rock seemed to be reaching out for me. Secretly hoping that I would fall and shatter my life upon them.

John stopped in the middle of the dam and turned, looking off toward the rock and the river below. I could see the water swirling fast around his ankles. Rising higher as it went. John looked over at me, but he said nothing.

“John,” I said when I got close enough. He finally spoke.

“No,” was all he said. But tears began to spill from his eyes. Leaking from his cheeks and falling into the foam scummed yellow-brown water that flowed ever faster over his feet.

“Don’t,” I screamed. I knew he meant to do it, and I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“Don’t move,” Gary said from behind me. I nearly went over the falls. I hadn’t known he was that close. I looked up and he was right next to me, working his way around me on the slippery surface of the dam. I looked back and Pete was still on the opposite side of the dam. He had climbed up and now he stood on the flat top. Transfixed. Watching us through his thick glasses. Gary had followed John and me across.

I stood still and Gary stepped around me. I have no idea how he did. I’ve thought about it, believe me. There shouldn’t have been enough room, but that was what he did. He stepped right around me and then walked the remaining 20 feet or so to John and grabbed his arm.

“If you jump you kill me too,” Gary said. I heard him perfectly clear above the roar of the dam. He said it like it was nothing. Like it is everything. But mostly he said it like he meant it.

It seemed like they argued and struggled forever, but it was probably less than a minute, maybe two. The waters were rising fast and the whole thing would soon be decided for us. If we didn’t get off the dam quickly we would be swept over by the force of the water.

They almost did go over. So did I. But the three of us got moving and headed back across to the land side where we had dropped our bikes. We climbed down from a dam and watched the water fill the river up. No one spoke.

Eventually john stopped crying. And the afterthought look, as though there some words or thoughts he couldn’t say passed. The dying time had passed.

We waited almost two hours for the river to stop running and then Pete came across…

We only talked about it one other time that summer, and then we never talked about it again. That day was also a beautiful summer day. Sun high in the sky. We were sitting on our bikes watching the dam run.

“I can’t believe you were gonna do it,” Pete said.

“I wasn’t,” John told him. “I only got scared when the water started flowing and froze on the dam… That’s all it was.”

Nobody spoke for a moment and then Gary said, “That’s how it was.”

“Yeah. That’s how it was,” I agreed…



I hope you enjoyed the short story. Check out Crime short stories here. Check out a collection of my short stories here.


New releases this week: Amazon:

Dreamer’s Worlds: The Legend of Sparrow Spirit:  Made Amazon Exclusive: Get a FREE Preview here.

Geo Dell The Nation Chronicles: Zero Book 1 in this Fan Fiction series, where the books are in the order fans chose and parts of the stories are fan suggested. Get a FREE Preview Here.

Geo Dell The Nation Chronicles: Death The second books in the story introduces you to the gang from Alabama Island. Get a FREE Preview Here.


Smashwords recent releases:

(Smashwords books distributes to iTunes, Nook, Kobo and many other book sellers.)

Earth’s Survivors Life Stories: Beth The Life Stories series follows individual groups in the apocalypse. They can both be read alone or as a series. Get a Free Preview right here.

Earth’s Survivors Life Stories: Bear Bear is the leader of the Outrunners, the team that track down and kill the dead, removing the threat so the Nation can be safe. This is his story. Click here for a FREE Preview.

Okay, that is it from me. I hope all is well in your world, enjoy your weekend, Dell.

Walmart jokes and Zombie Plague links

Posted by Geo  07-21-17

Another weekend is here. I spent this past week working on a manuscript and taking care of guitar build updates.

I want to throw some congratulations to Andrea Scroggs. Her Graphic Novel, Invariant is doing well. She is working on another graphic story. Her artwork is as good as her writing and she knows how to bring both things together. Amazon: Invariant

The zombie Plagues books are doing very well.  https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/5280

What’s on the burner: I am working on a new novel right now. I have also completed one other novel, editing work for that one now. The fifth Zombie Plagues novel is now available on Nook too: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-zombie-plagues-geo-dell/1121785682

 

Free Books Today and tomorrow:

Guitar Works One for the Kindle on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Works-One-Finish-Work/dp/1502825678

Earth’s Survivors Life Stories: Jack & Maria: https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Life-Stories-Maria-ebook/dp/B06XQFV63D

 

Writers and their websites:

Sotofo: http://www.sotofo.com/

Dell Sweet on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DellSweet

Geo Dell on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/George-Dell/e/B00T94K198

What else is going on: Summer is passing. It is hot here in northern New York but I’m sure back in the day the woolly mammoths thought it was warm enough too and then wham! They froze to death right in their fields… So, you know, maybe hit the winter coat aisle at Walmart before the prices go up…

Some absolute facts…

Absolute Fact:

Q: Who discovered America?

A: Richard Plambouise.

Huh? Richard was working at the local Walmart in 2011 when he was assigned to move some shelving during inventory. Behind the shelving he noticed a continent that had fallen from the shelf and lay dusty and disused. He recognized it for what it was, America.

Congratulations Richard Plambouise.

Absolute Fact:

Q: Is the Earth really round?

A: No.

Think about it, you’d fall off of it. The earth is flat. Been flat since I was a kid, I know ’cause I ran in my new sneakers, fast as hell and I didn’t fall of. The Earth is flat.

Absolute Fact:

Q: Is what mom feeds me actually good for me?

A: Yes.

Everything mom feeds you is good for you, now shut up and eat.

Absolute Fact:

Q: When a man loves a woman can he keep his mind on anything else?

A: No.

Just ask Percy Sledge who not only told us a man can not keep his mind on anything else, but that he would Sleep out in the rain if she says that’s the way it ought to be. Thanks Percy.

Absolute Fact:

Q: If my wife asks, should I tell her, Yes., her butt does look big?

A: Absolutely.

Relationships are built on respect, truth and honesty. Go ahead, tell her. You can even tell her I said to. In fact, Percy didn’t say otherwise either.

You can usually find myself or Dell on twitter throughout the day, Dell: @SweetDell or me, Geo: @GeorgeDell01

That is me for your Friday. I hope your weekend is good and the coming week is a good one for you. Check out the free books for the week and the websites. I’ll be back next Monday, Geo.

Working on the house, chickens and the zombie plagues

Posted by Dell 07-18-2017

Happy Tuesday.

I spent my day doing the last compound coats on the new drywall, and then trimming out all the new windows. The day before I finished the kitchen and then painted the walls there. Tomorrow (Monday) I will paint the balance of the new work and then I will spend the next several days putting in all the flooring and moldings. Then I can sit back and say ‘Am I done?’ … ‘Yes,’ I will answer myself, ‘You are done.’

It has only been a few months since I started this but it seems like forever. During the process my aunt went from sick to worse, and then passed away. In less than a year I have lost, first my uncle, now my aunt. I look at my mother every day and hope she feels fine. It’s humbling and also sobering. Life does end. One day you can be talking to someone you love. Everything may seem okay. They may be talking, laughing, and then a few days later you find yourself at their funeral. It seems impossible, but I have dealt with it twice in less than a year.

It seemed odd to me that I would be the one to deal so closely with it, but that is the way it worked out with my uncle. Not that I am somehow above having to deal with death, I certainly am not. I spent two years living on the streets from fourteen to sixteen. I saw death up close. I spent ten years in prison, I saw more. Despite that I had only lost a very few people who were close to me. My father and another uncle, both several years ago. I hated my father and loved my uncle. That really means I loved them both, I was just too damned young to understand what hate was, where it came from. When you are young it is very easy to look critically at the world around you and make snap decisions on your feelings, judge others, feel justified, righteous. Of course as we age our character is tempered. We are not so quick to judge, act, hate, love. I was a kid, I hated and I felt completely justified.

So I saw those deaths and they affected me, but I didn’t fully understand death any more than I understood my own motivations, drives, feelings. This time I spent two weeks with my Uncle as the end came. We talked, I changed and bathed him, and in the end I gave him the morphine that the nurses had told me he would want at the end. Rough. I felt it, and when my aunt came to the same point I was surprised that I wouldn’t have to be in the same position. Relieved, but depressed about it too. Of course I was doing all the work on the house, so my mind was busy. But she came to see me a few days before she died and she seemed fine. Tired, yes, but fine.

My mother is left. For the last twelve years the three of them lived on opposite sides of this house that I built for them so that they would be able to be close. It worked. They had family reunions, big picnics, large family gatherings. There is a door between the two kitchens. They would simply open that door and the two houses became one. This summer passed and there was no Fourth of July celebration. Everyone was still reeling from the loss of my uncle from bone cancer, and of course my aunt had gotten very sick, very fast, and was just as quickly diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. No get together. We had seen each other at the funeral, it was tough to think of anything else.

This past week we saw each other at the second funeral and promised ourselves we would stop seeing each other only at funerals. I doubt that though. It seems when these things start they obtain a life of their own and they feed off the things that are going on and just continue to exist when all of us wish they wouldn’t. I agreed a few days ago to build a huge double deck on the side of the house for family reunions next year. Everyone seems to think we will have all recovered from our shock enough by then to want to gather together again. Maybe. Maybe not.

For me it is simply life. It is hard to do, but it’s supposed to be hard. Life isn’t coasting and letting someone else do all the hard work. In my younger days that was the way I looked at life though, I am ashamed to say. Life is sharing the load. Being compassionate, understanding, practicing empathy. It’s not about owning the baddest car, the biggest house, the most toys. Maybe it’s tied into your feelings about the people you love. Hopefully it is, otherwise you’ll be coasting, and all of us have done that before. Anyway, I’ll move on. It has been a very rough year, but a very good growth year.

The house will soon be done and I will be able to sit on my couch and look around at the walls and remember when this wall gave me trouble, or how it took myself and two young nephews to get the new roof beams up, why I decided to build in a sound system, replace all the windows instead of just the few I had earmarked. Things like that. But I will be back to writing, sitting on my couch after a day of writing and relaxing, probably petting the damn cat that has made me its friend. Excuse me, damn cats.  There are two. Can’t pet one without petting the other either. Still, I will be on the couch. No more house construction for me.

Let’s shift gears:

I like the Geico commercials, especially the Old MacDonald was a bad speller one. The Owl one was good too. Occasionally things do catch my attention. A few years back it was the HLN song. They were looking for people to write an HLN song, so I wrote one. I liked it, but I didn’t send it in: Instead I rolled it into a real song. But the other morning I had a thought. The thought was, ‘What would the next Great Geico commercial based on the same line be if I got to write it?’

Well, it isn’t written, and no one’s coming to ask me to write it. But even so, the idea would not leave my head, so at six A.M. I found my self writing it out. I’m telling you that so that you know what the writing bug is like. Things like that happen all the time. A good part of the reason I am single. Find a woman that would put up with that and the other oddball writer behaviors. That is what I will leave you with this week. Maybe it will make you laugh a little. Hard to do in this world sometimes. Meantime have a great week! I’ll be back Friday morning…


Geico Commercial Idea: Copyright Dell Sweet 09-14-2015

Begin:

Two women working in a cubicle. The first woman just had an Email that tells about Geico. The monitor is in the background showing the Geico Gecko.

First Woman: “Huh… Fifteen minutes can save you fifteen percent on car insurance.”

Second Woman: “Yeah… Everybody knows that.”

First woman, taken aback a little: “Yeah? Well, do you know  why the chicken crossed the road?”

Second Woman looks confused:

Scene shifts:

A group of chickens hanging around at the side of the road. They are all goofing around, pushing each other playfully, like grade school friends. Clucking and talking.

Chicken One: “I don’t know… I don’t see anything over there that looks any different to me.” He glances up and down the road nervously. Smiles at the other chickens. Glances across the road where everything appears lush and green.

Chicken two, kind of nerdy: “They say the barnyard over there is lush and green… Filled with grain and water troughs everywhere.” Gets excited as he talks. All the other chickens look at him and begin nodding in agreement. “And no one ever disappears,” he adds. Everyone clucks nervously, bobbing their heads.

Chicken One licks his lips: “Gee, I don’t know fellas.”

Chicken Three: “They say you never know ’til you try.” Glances across the road.

Silence holds for a beat.

Chicken One Laughs nervously. Smiles: “Yeah… Okay.” He looks up and down the empty road. Nothing but silence greets him. “Well, here goes.” He smiles and darts out into the road.

The other chickens stare in wonder, but their faces change fast as the sound of an automobile engine building comes to them. Their eyes widen in fear. A wind whips their feathers as a vehicle roars by, and they close their eyes. A split second later Chicken Two opens his eyes.

Chicken Three: “Oooohh… That looks bad.”

The other chickens are all nodding and clucking.

Scene shifts to black screen with announcer over:

Announcer: “Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent on car insurance.”

Out:


Well there you go. The reason I got up in the middle of the early morning and wrote it. I complain, but I love the gift of writing, especially when it is like that.

Take a look at Geo Dell’s The Zombie Plagues Book One…

The Zombie Plagues Book One… The end begins, who will survive…?

Geo Dell: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-book-one/id712828059?mt=11


A free eBook for your Tuesday… Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse…

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-apocalypse/id963866999?mt=11

Have a great week!

The Zombie Plagues Book One free preview

The Zombie Plagues Book One

Created by Geo Dell

PUBLISHED BY: Geo Dell and independAntwriters Publishing


The Zombie Plagues Book One

Additional Copyrights 2009 – 2015 Wendell Sweet & independAntwriters Publishing All rights reserved

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


LEGAL

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

This novel is Copyright © 2010 – 2013 George Dell & independAntwriters Publishing and all rights to this work have been reserved by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

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


THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES: BOOK ONE


CHAPTER ONE

CANDACE

~ March 1st~

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But,” I started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s late. Creeps around maybe.”

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

Jimmy nodded. “Smart creeps. The southern Tier’s a big place. Easy to lose yourself, with or without a little help.” He looked at his watch and then fixed his eyes on me once more. “So you keep your perspective, set your limits, draw your lines,” he spoke as he shrugged into his coat, retrieved his hat from the bar top and planted it on his head, “Don’t let anybody cross those lines. You start next week, let’s say the eleventh?”

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded. I let the Doll remark go.

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

I said goodbye to Jimmy V, crossed the parking lot for the last time and drove myself home. I parked my rusted out Toyota behind my Grandparents house, and twenty-four hours later my world, everybody’s world, was completely changed.

Candace ~ March 2nd

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

Candace ~ March 3rd

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

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

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

Candace ~ March 4th

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

Candace ~ March 5th

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

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

Candace ~ March 6th

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

Candace ~ March 7th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Downtown Watertown~

He came awake in the darkness, but awake wasn’t precisely the term. Alive was precisely the term. He knew alive was precisely the term, because he could remember dying. He remembered that his heart had stopped in his chest. He had remembered wishing that it would start again. That bright moment or two of panic, and then he remembered beginning not to care. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. And he had drifted away.

Now he had drifted back. But drifted was not exactly right. He had slammed back into himself where he lay on the cold subbasement floor where he had been murdered by a roving gang of thieves. And he knew those things were true because he remembered them. And he knew they were true because he was dead. He was still dead. His heart was not beating in his chest. His blood was cold and jelled in his veins. He could feel it. Some kind of new perception.

He lay and watched the shadows deepen in the corners of the basement ceiling for a short time longer, and then he tried to move.

His body did not want to move at first. It felt as though it weighed a ton, two tons, but with a little more effort it came away. He sat and then crawled to his knees.



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