Tag Archives: post apocalypse

Fiction – Running From Death: Part Two

For whatever reason, be it the slightly bemused look on his face or the fact that he’d been nicer than many she met on the road, she took his statement in a non-threatening way. “Fair enough. Do we hang out here for a while longer, or do we hit the road?”

He patted his gun and pockets. “I seem to have everything a traveler needs to wander these wretched hollows. I’m game for leaving now.”

She nodded sharply. “Me too. The clock is ticking.”

He walked to the door and waited.

She undid the booby trap and as she did, noticed he drew his gun. She had time for a brief moment of panic, when she remembered having the gun out before entering the street was good practice.

He went out first, swept his gaze left and right and then motioned for her to come out. He spoke in hushed tones. “I’m going to take us through some spaces most people wouldn’t easily fit into. Don’t panic if things get tight. It’s easier to travel where they can’t go.” The moved into the darkness after he doused his headlamp.

Her eyes adjusted to the outside gloom. The inside of the Starbucks hadn’t been any brighter until Leon had activated his lamp. Now she had to stumble a bit until her pupils opened up. She tried not to make any undue noise. Silence was an area Leon excelled at. She thought for a moment she’d lost him, but once she got her bearings she saw that he waited for her in a pool of shadow further up the alley they were in.

True to his word, they went through places where she almost couldn’t make it. She was hardly big. The post-apocalypse diet had been kind to her figure and she wasn’t overly tall. She still struggled to contort herself through gaps. Travelling light helped as there was nothing much to get snagged. The walked for what seemed like days. In reality it was only a few hours before the sun began to make itself known. Instead of only being able to see a few feet ahead, she could now see yards away. She marveled at the great vision Leon must have had to guide them in near complete dark.

For the first time in a dozen hours she felt somewhat safe. They might still run into pockets of the stumblers, but if they stayed outside that would be unlikely. She motioned to Leon. “I need a water break.”

He smiled at her. “Good idea.” They both fished out plastic bottles and drank. He offered her something wrapped in plastic. It was a granola bar. The rectangle was nearly as hard as a brick, but she broke off a piece and put it in her mouth. She let the sweetness dissolve on her tongue and couldn’t help letting out a little moan of pleasure. After far too few minutes spent on what no sane person would call breakfast, they continued on.

Morning light came on strong. The sky above the city was a reddish haze. Shards of blue broke through, instilling a sense of hope. She didn’t know the last time she’d seen a clear and completely blue sky. They were getting better as time went on. Pollution was slowly making its way out of the air and to the ground. “How much farther?” She was beginning to wish for the nap she didn’t get to take.

“Only about another hour or so.” The sound of sliding rock in the near distance put them both on alert. He drew his gun and squatted.

She pulled her knife and held her breath. Just because the usual danger wasn’t present didn’t mean there weren’t things to be afraid of.

When the noise failed to repeat itself, the pair continued on. “What did you do, before?” She felt safe enough to speak in a louder voice, but still kept it just above a whisper.

“This and that. I was mostly a teacher, Adult Education. You?”

She thought about him standing in front of a classroom, maybe on a cardboard box, and stifled a laugh. “I was a waitress for a long time. Then I decided to go back to school. I was going to get my nursing degree. I wanted to really give something back to society.”

“I guess your skills have been useful?”

“Oh yeah.” She smiled, thinking about how she’d helped the people in her group. “I didn’t finish the program before it all went to hell, but I got through most of it. I’ve got plenty of useful knowledge tucked away. That’s part of the reason I want to find the cure. Some people said it would be better if I just died and that there was no cure. I’ve got two people I was teaching my skills to. I want to get back to them and finish what I started.” She saw the ghost of a frown on his face. “What’s wrong? You know something, don’t you?”

He tucked his thumbs into his belt loops and avoided her glance. “I know a lot of things. Some of them are about C-9 and some aren’t.” He looked up at her, but only for a heartbeat. “I know the cure might not work for you.”

“Hell I know that.”

He smiled at her honesty. “Good. The percentage is probably a lot lower than even you know. I heard it only works in about ten percent of cases. The other ninety either die of the disease anyway, or die from the attempted cure. The things that are remaking you have a sort of fatal cascade they undergo and that screws up your whole system.”

“You know an awful lot more than I heard. You’re military, aren’t you?”

“Was and am.”

She drew her knife and pointed it at him. “What do you want with me?”

“Will you put the knife away? If I wanted to kill you you’d be dead. I want to see if this cure works for you. And I maybe want to see if I can help.”

“How would you help? Isn’t it just an injection?”

He nodded. “But those little machines in you? And the ones that will search and kill them? I can talk to them.”

“How? I never heard anything like that.”

He stared at her. “Look in my eyes.”

She hesitated for a moment and could swear his irises flashed silver. “Did I just see that? Are you a cyborg?”

“You did and I’m more android than cyborg. Most of me is machine. They made my type during the last days of the war. They mostly wanted something harder to kill than the infected people. Turns out we might also be able to help folks.”

“How much of the government is left?”

He shook his head. “Very little and nothing centralized. I and the others like me are scattered around the country. We look for people like you, who are at the right stage, and who would be useful to a new society. Then we offer to try and help them.”

“You’re selective? That’s cruel.” She gripped her knife’s hilt tightly.

“Not as such. If you’re too far gone then there’s a risk of damaging my programming. It’s a risk no matter what and there are only a few of us. It’s just making the best use of a limited resource.”

“Am I at the right stage?”

“You meet all of the criteria. I didn’t lie to you about getting you to a cure. We do need to hurry though.”

Fiction – Running From Death

This is the beginning of a story inspired by Chuck Wendig’s “Choose Your Setting” challenge. It’s turning out to be longer than I thought it would be. Here’s part one.

Jackie looked around before creeping out of her shadowy hiding spot. The creatures hadn’t found her yet. Last she heard them, they were making a meal of someone or something in an alley just up the street. Taking to the fire escapes had been a good move. She made sure that no one was coming and that she had a good grip on her knife before she crossed the street. Refuge was just on the other side.

She broke into a run, her Vibram covered feet making no noise. The Starbucks was an acknowledged safe house and stockpile according to the graffiti code spray painted on its front. Travelers would put anything extra they had in places like this, no less than five percent of any good they carried that could be quantified. She got to the door and disabled the rather simple mechanism at the door’s top edge. The creatures didn’t have the manual dexterity to do it and they would end up getting a grenade to the face if they triggered it.

Once inside, she re-armed the booby trap. Only then did she breathe a sigh of relief. She slid the knife into its sheath and looked around. The only thing remaining here that harkened back to its original purpose was the coffee bar. Nearly anything else would have been used for scrap, from the espresso machine to the cash register. The fight against the creatures, she refused to call them zombies or vampires as some did, had been going on for five years and humanity was slowly losing ground. Cities were practically deserted, most opting to live in small enclaves in mountains or other terrain that was difficult for the creatures to navigate.

She walked to one of the plastic totes labeled “Water” and lifted the lid. Sure enough, there were bottles of varying sizes. She took one and spun the top off. It went done in one long pull. She smacked her lips and put the empty in her shoulder bag. She’d refill it at the next known good water spot she passed. Her hand came out of the bag with a handful of shotgun shells. She walked over to an ammo box and dropped them in. She didn’t have a gun, so there was no sense in keeping them.

She could get a little shuteye and resume her travels in the daylight. There would be less of a chance of being accosted. The creatures, former humans themselves, didn’t much care for the sun. It didn’t’ hurt them, but their eyes were sensitive. That would mean putting off getting to her goal. That could be the end of her. She had convinced herself that she could feel the nanites, or whatever it was that caused the change, working on her. She’d be one of them before much longer, if she didn’t make it to one of the CDC drop zones.

She didn’t even know for a fact that there’d be any Countermeasure-9 available for her to use. It was a chance she was willing to take. The thought of becoming a mindless cannibal didn’t appeal to her. Some people said that C-9 was just a suicide pill. Either way, her wait would be over in less than twenty four hours.

“Screw it. I deserve a break.” He voice echoed back to her. It shocked her. It sounded ragged to her own ears.

She started as she heard something scratching at the door. She drew her knife and cursed the fact that she didn’t have a gun or crossbow. She’d left her ranged arms with the group. it hadn’t been easy, but they all agreed it was for the best. “Be a cat. Be a cat. Be a cat.” For some reason humans and cats were the only ones affected by the nanites. Dogs could smell the oncoming change and responded viciously. If she had to face anything she’d rather it be a feline.

“I can’t manage the door. If there’s anyone in there, help me.”

The creatures eventually lost the ability to speak, but it wasn’t the first thing to go. She waited, debating whether or not to help. Finally, she gave in and opened the door.

The person waiting on the other side was small, but was definitely an adult. He held a gun that was likewise on the petite side, but he pointed it to the ground as soon as he saw her. “Thank goodness. It’s been too long since I’ve seen another person.”

She stepped aside and let him in. “I’m Jackie.”

The small man holstered his pistol and stuck out the hand that had been holding it. “I’m Leon.”

It was hard to make out details in the dark, but it seemed that his skin was darker than hers. “Good to meet you.”

He reached up and snapped on a headlamp. The light revealed that his skin was indeed dark brown. He walked over to the water bin and helped himself. “Odd to run into another person in this sector. This is my third time past here this month and this is the only time I’ve been able to get in.”

“Why in God’s name are you still around here?” The word sector seemed odd. He didn’t look military, but then again what did that mean?

“I could ask you the same question. Let’s just say that I’ve always been more of a city boy.” He moved to the ammo bin. “Yet another reason to carry a smaller pistol.” He held up a small box. “”People almost never donate the higher caliber stuff.” He tucked the box in a pouch on his jacket.

She thought about his answer and his unasked question. He was cagey, as anyone in their right mind was, but wasn’t without humor. That was a rare commodity in this world. “I’m a country gal, but I’m on something of a mission.”

He turned to her and raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know if I want to know the mission that would bring you into this hellhole.”

“Said the man who made the hellhole his home.” She smiled.

“Oh I’m crazier than a shithouse rat. You look pretty sane though. That means you’re either searching for someone or you need C-9.”

She took an involuntary step back.

“Well that answers that question.” His hand didn’t move towards his gun. “No need to be afraid. You don’t try and take a bite out of me and we’re all good.”

“How did you know?”

“I’ve run into a lot of folks like you, had that same look. I can smell desperation. I don’t think you’re going to have much luck. I’ll make you the same offer I made them. I’ll go with you, show you where the stockpile is, watch your back. If you make it, we’ll see what happens. If you don’t, I’ll put an end to your before you can hurt anyone.”

“How many people have taken you up on the offer?”

“Just one. He didn’t make it.”

She leaned back against the counter, strength gone from her legs. “I won’t lie to you, it’s a tempting offer. How far are we from the C-9?”

“About a twelve hour hike. Of course that’s with my legs.” He winked.

She couldn’t believe she’d run into someone that still had the will to joke. That it was so close was both a relief and a slight cause for alarm. She’d been told it was a little further away. “Do you know of a drop point other than the official one?”

“There are multiple drop points. I’m privy to most of them. The one you’re headed for is the one most people know about. There’s nothing there.”

“I’m lucky to have run into you then.” She had a bad feeling. If this guy was lying to her for some personal gain then she was well and truly screwed if she followed him. If she didn’t and he was telling the truth then she was equally screwed.

“I can sense your reluctance to trust me. I’ve got no way to convince you. It’s a matter of faith in humanity I guess. What have I got to gain from lying to you? If I wanted you dead I would have plugged you when I first stuck my head in here. There’s nothing in it for me if you wind up one of the stumblers.”

“What’s in it for you if I don’t?”

“Other than the obvious of keeping one on our side?” He shrugged. “You might live to show your gratitude in a useful way.”

Had many other folks said that, she would have been creeped out to the point of stabbing first and asking questions later.

The Judas Syndrome – Ebook Giveaway

Congratulations to C.A. Sizemore! His copy of Fire In The Blood will go out today.

Today’s book is The Judas Syndrome by Michael Poeltl.

Joel and his friends are on the verge of graduation and excited and optimistic about their futures. But when they return from a camping trip in the remote woodlands to find themselves faced with a post-apocalyptic world, their daily lives acquire burdens and terrors hitherto unexperienced.

The Judas Syndrome is an unforgettable portrait of survival against the odds. Joel, the protagonist, is a troubled youth whose dreams of entering college in the fall have disintegrated with the rest of the civilized world. Experiencing a barrage of sinister premonitions prior to a camping trip, Joel struggles to shrug them off as nothing more than anxiety over the newest cyber-terror, the Grimm Reaper. For months the Reaper has been inundating the airwaves with threats of mass destruction if world governments do not adhere to his plethora of ridiculous demands. Finally, he does more than just threaten.

The deed done, the Reaper’s threats now realized, Joel and his small band of friends find themselves alone in a dying world. Their families are all dead and gone, and Joel’s family home is now their stronghold. Faith and faithlessness are investigated as his ongoing visions prepare Joel for the realization that the worst is far from over. Prisoners to a darkened sky and toxic earth, the group fights to survive. Through battles staged on their hallowed ground, through loss and victory, the group meets the Pilate to their Judas, unwittingly setting in motion- the Judas Syndrome.

This is a stark cover for what sounds like a stark book. How much does a book’s cover influence your decision to buy? Drop a comment and let me know!

I plan on giving away a book a week this year, but none of them will be my own. Why? Well, I believe in helping introduce people to new authors and nothing does that like FREE! The contests will be as simple as leaving a comment on the blog, or showing me that you’ve left a review on Amazon or Smashwords of books you’ve picked up in the past. I’ll try and change things up to keep them interesting, but by and large you won’t have to work hard.

If you’re an author and you’d like to pitch your hat into the ring, let me know. I’m not asking you to give me anything for free. I plan on buying your e-book from Amazon/Smashwords as a gift for the winner. So in addition to you getting your name out there, you’ll also get a sale for the contest. The most I can budget per week is $2.99, so if you have a book in the $.99-$2.99 price range let me know. I reserve the right to turn you down, but I will try and do so gently. I’d like to have a variety of genres represented.

If you have a free book and would like me to just get the word out I can do that, but you won’t be part of my contest. If your book is more expensive and you would like to donate a copy, that works too.

Shoot me an e-mail, a DM, or leave me a comment to enter your book.