Category Archives: short stories

A free short Zombie story from Geo Dell and Dell Sweet

Slowing down and a free short Zombie story from Geo Dell and Dell Sweet

Posted by Geo Dell

Life in The Slow lane…
I don’t like the fast lane. It isn’t that I can’t see the advantage of the fast lane and getting wherever the hell it is you need to get in the fastest  possible time. I can. I just don’t agree with it anymore.
When I was seventeen, just back from the Navy, I couldn’t wait to get on with what I considered real life. My wheels were spinning. I needed a girlfriend, a job, a life and I needed it right then. It needed to be immediate. And so I went looking for all that stuff and that is the last time I remember life being slow. After that life sped up and I lived it full tilt. I thought that was the way you do it. Burn it up. No regrets. Don’t look back. Hurry up and get a little older so I can drink legally, so we don’t have to sneak around and see each other only in the back seat of my Chevy. So we can get married, have children, get a place of our own, raise our children, oh, I can’t wait until the terrible twos are over with, and… What do you mean you don’t love me anymore? Hurry to get past that pain. Think about slowing down but that just makes the pain worse so I hurried right into another relationship. Another Marriage. More children.
Drink a little more because sometimes when things started to slow down I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it because I could see things clearly when I slowed down. See the mistakes, feel the pain of failure and I didn’t want to see it because it damn well wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would. So I sped it back up…
Now I’m here. I’m here and I’m slowed up. And I can clearly see all of the things that I rushed past. The time I didn’t get with my children. The lovers that I shared something with and then they were gone. The two relationships that did mean something and I still didn’t’ slow down for. Time. Only time. But time can not be purchased only spent. And thinking about what has passed is no good at all. It can not solve a single heartache. It will not bring some one you love back. It can only keep you in a place where you are not dealing with reality. Where you overlook the ends because not only do the means not justify them they are not even the same ends you were looking for.
I deal with real time now. I stay in the slow lane. In a hurry? Drive around me. All the things I could not wait to get to in the future I had right there in my past. Did you read that? Those things were never to be attained, they were already attained. Free of charge from life. Right there. And I hurried right past them. We all do sometimes.
I was a little too young to be a hippie I wonder sometimes if i would have made a good one though. I have always wanted to drop out of society… As long as I can have my electricity… And a computer… And a truck to drive into town… Okay, maybe not. And, I could never smoke pot it made me sick. So, maybe I would have made a piss poor hippie after all. But, the ideal. The live life on life’s terms philosophy I could definitely have embraced wholeheartedly. Didn’t though. I joined the rat race. And, I didn’t like the rat race so I stayed on the fringe of the rat race waiting… Where is my great life? What the hell is this? This is not what I wanted at all.
But it was. Maybe it’s only maturity that makes us look at things differently. If so, thank God for it. It’s okay to hate the rat race. We have to live it anyway unless you are really going to fill a knapsack with energy bars and walk off into the forest. No. You’re not and neither am I. So where is the solution?
The slow lane. No bull. The slow lane is the answer, but you will have to change your attitude to really appreciate it. But if you can you will find all of the things that you thought your were running that rat race for are right there.
Right there is your child that you love and keep not spending time with. Right there is the man or the woman you love. The job you can be happy with. The life that can mean something.
There was a time in my life when I made on average twenty grand a week. No. That is not a misprint. And, do you know how happy I was? … I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you because every fiber of my being was caught up in making that nut every week. Every bit. There was nothing left over. And there were men and women who knew me that wanted to be in my place. Truly.
I have done nothing but spend money and have not made a nickle in six months. Scary. It is when you have faith in yourself and you go for it. But, what I do not do is put all of me that there is into  things that are only really designed to pay the bills. I don’t.
I breath the air every day. I tell the people I love that I love them. If someone needs my time I give it. Yes, I work a lot of hours but it does not own me anymore and it is not the reason I’m living… Can you see that?
Here are some words from a song I wrote called A Minor

“I was never fixed in this world anyway… I was just sitting here waiting on a bus for the next.”
And that was true. I lived here in this world. Worked here. But it was not in my blood. I didn’t enjoy it. See it as good, or fulfilling, or enough… I just didn’t. So I just waited for it to end.
I don’t do that anymore. I live. I live for real. One of the things I have noticed is that people will make time for you, love you, and even tell you if you give them the time. So I do. I do but I have noticed that a lot of people just smile and hurry past me on their way to… Well, I really don’t know, and I’m not sure they do either. But I know that if you slow down there’s some space for you right here in the slow lane. You can ride shot gun with me. We’ll just take our time and enjoy the view…


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Rapid City Three

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three

By Wendell Sweet

PUBLISHED BY: Wendell Sweet – Blog Edition

Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three

Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet All Rights Reserved


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

This short story is Copyright © 2013 Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print..

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


DEDICATION

To the Tuesday night Guys.


Rapid City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was most dead when I got there.

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

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

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

I pushed her shirt aside and looked at the hole. It was bad enough. Close to the heart and suckin’ air. Blowing out little bloody bubbles when it wasn’t suckin’ air. “You…” she started and that was that. Her eyes fluttered and she was gone. I caught her head as she fell back and laid her gentle into the sand. Around me was death. All around me. I couldn’t look nowhere without seeing a body. And here another one that I had also caused and had no idea about. But when a man kills for a livin’ it has it’s own answers sometimes. It does. I laid her out, stood and then bent low and said a prayer as best I could. I don’t know God. I ain’t never met him, although I know some day I’m going to. I guess it just pisses me off that the man sets up there pullin’ my strings and ever body besides me too. Never mind it though, there ain’t no one else you can say a thing like a prayer to. And, she would turn, I didn’t have the luxury of time. If she had creeped on me in life, what is it she might do in death? Maybe, I told myself she had closed those eyes for the last time thinkin’ ‘I’ll be back for you in a few minutes,. Mister.’ Maybe… May be… I mumbled the words and I wasn’t near so eloquent or flowing as I hoped a I was afraid she was on her way back. I stepped back and put one in her head and damn if she didn’t jump and hiss at me when I did.

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

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

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

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

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


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Aliens, Billy Jingo and a free space story from Dell Sweet

Posted by Dell 04-20-2017

so, what about a story about a one legged alien who goes in search of a late night meal, say… Chinese, but, the kicker, when he says Chinese he really means Chinese… so he goes to the bus stop near his home… he lives with a little old lady and her thirty seven cats… too bad he didn’t have a taste for cat, but that’s another story…

so… anyway, he hits the bus stop because, well, because he’s found quick meals there before. And low and behold, there is a young Asian person there but upon striking up a conversation he finds they are Korean… So the alien has to ask himself, does he feel like changing his selection to Korean? Well, does he?

Hey, good morning! Happy Thursday, one day closer to the end of the week. This morning I will give you a look at Star Dancer, a short story selection from Billy Jingo. I hope you enjoy it. This short story has been turned into a novel over the last few months because it just pulled at me that much. I finished up the actual writing a few days back and am debating where to go next. It is an interesting book. I hope you enjoy the short story version of it and please check out the link for Billy Jingo at the end…


Billy Jingo

Collected Short Stories

Billy Jingo: Collected Short Stories is Copyright © 2014 Dell Sweet

Copyright © 2014 by Dell Sweet All rights reserved

Cover Art © Copyright 2015 Wendell Sweet

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 are 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 © 2014 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing construct used by Wendell Sweet. Portions of this text are copyright 2010, and 2011, all rights reserved by Wendell Sweet and his assignees. 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 or assignees permission.

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


This Material IS Copyright Protected

This Material is NOT edited for content



STAR DANCER

PROLOGUE

Universal Planet Time was part of the Space Travel Treaty signed into planetary law back in 2050 when regular cargo trips had begun between the moon bases and the first private colonies on Mars. Of course now there are dozens of colonies on Mars, Venus and Jupiter’s moons: Plus six major colony cities on the moon, and new colonies are being proposed daily to the space council.

Universal time meant that space ran on a different non-changing schedule from the Earth. Space time ran twenty-four hours, and business was always conducted seven days a week. There was no down time, only changing crews, flight coordinators, colony station personnel. Space was the biggest cash venture on Earth. It was what had pulled the global economy from the slump and severe depression at the beginning of the century, and it was still growing.

The technology had been ready for a very long time, there had simply been no economic stimulus to begin the push. Men and women with the money and the fortitude to put that push on and get the entire global community involved and interested: After that initial global push the speculators had poured onto the scene. Then the serious investors, then the corporations, and the industry had been born. And as the saying goes, nobody has looked back since.

ONE

Earth Date: 2096 – 08 -25 – 16:21:43

Moon Base 14: United Planet Technologies

Intra Flight Systems: Star Dancer

Michael Watson

I purchased Star Dancer right after college, and I’ve never looked back. I can remember my great-grandfather, gone now for more than forty years, talking about what he had, had for opportunities right out of high school. That would be laughable now. My parents had, had my life mapped out from the age of two. Life Mapping was a serious thing, I don’t know any that don’t have their lives mapped out now from birth.

School was not complete without college. You could not be licensed to work the counters of Planet Burger unless you had two years of college. My own career had taken four years of specialty college and geared trade school from the first grade on. When other first graders were learning about monetary systems and world level banking, I was learning about Star Drives and ION Propulsion units.

The grades, one through twelve, start at age three and last on average seven years. Some fall behind, some spring ahead, but by ten years of age most are ready and I was no exception. I began my specialized training, four years, four more years of global military service after that with an option for six more, which I declined, and I am pretty sure made my instructors very happy by doing so, and so at the old age of eighteen I signed a twenty year funding commitment for Star Dancer. At the time I was sure I would never dig myself out of thirty million credits of debt, but for the last two years I have been watching credits build in my accounts.

Today I was docking at UPT on Fourteen to pick up a four year re-supply for a prison colony at Mars-Twenty-Seven: Some kind of Tech drop for Colony One, and two panel pre-fab labs for IO’s base six.

Moon Base Fourteen is United Planet Technologies own base. There is not much else here; a small cafeteria, some lounges for through travelers, each progressively worse than the last: The best being Vic’s, and Vic’s was the only official bar, the other two were simply overlooked. That could happen at a base that was not really a base at all, but a company town.

I had, had the tour before, and short of taking on a small crew, and maybe a new navigator to replace the one I had been without for the last seventeen months, I would be here only long enough to fuel, be unloaded and then loaded and once I was re-supplied I’d be off: So there would be no downtime in the next twenty-four.

The crew was a transport crew. In other words, a company crew that would accompany me to all three of the offloads, do all the offloading and on loading. I would be coming back to Fourteen with a full load of finished products bound for Earth. They would pack it all, all I had to do was bring it back.

On my last stop, IO, I’d lose the crew. That would leave me alone for the return trip, unless of course I signed a navigator today. So far out of twenty possibles I had, had only five show up, and out of the five three turned me down. I turned the other two down. So if I was a betting man, and I am usually, I’d say the odds were that I would be riding this trip alone.

I eased my ship into dock. Some go with the auto-nav, but I have heard too many horror stories about out of phase computers, last second power surges and more to trust my ship to the machines. I do it myself. I have known how to do it since third grade in the flight sims. Microsoft had the best federally approved space flight sims, and my parents had made sure I got the best.

I gave my reverse thrusters a quick slap with my palm at three hundred feet out and watched my lock coupler drift home with nothing more than a small frame vibration when I went green on lock-in. I keyed my overhead.

“Central, I’m locked on 6B… Standing by for loading, over…”

“Green on my board, Dancer… Unlocking for loads… You have company standing by, Dancer.”

“Oh yeah?” That was a surprise.

“Uh… Lounge seven… Navigator?”

“Oh, okay, right… Send him right up, and thank you.”

“Uh, her.”

“Her?”

“Oh yeah… Pretty sure, unless I’m blind.” He chuckled.

“Huh… Supposed to be…” I punched the name up on my scheduling screen. “Pete Stanovich.”

“Uh huh… Short for Petra, no doubt… Petra Stanovich… See, you must have heard the Pete part and not the tra part.” He chuckled again.

“Someone screwed up… It’s entered as Pete in the com. Okay send her up then, and thanks.”

“Coming at you… Base out.”

I clicked off and sighed. This meant number twenty-one was most likely a wash too. Most women who interviewed for the job were not interested once they realized it was an intra-galaxy, or system cruiser, and one that was considered a dinosaur of a ship. About all I did have to offer was transferable credits for Federal space-work. I had what was called time for time credit. A perk because I had done my four in the service and never deactivated my six. That meant technically the feds could still pick me up for that six any time they wanted to. In exchange, it meant that I could offer my employees who were fresh out of military service time for time credit. A young navigator would have to be fresh out of military service, or within their benefit time window, thus making them eligible for the time. The time would count directly as military experience in advanced navigation. A big plus, but maybe not worth the two year minimum hitch on my ship.

Even so it was a good perk, and the past three navigators I had hired were immediately picked up for star ship service at the end of their contracts. It was both my ace in the hole and my queen of spades.

I unbuckled, thought about it, and then keyed my Com-Link

“Unlocked, central, and could you delay my visitor by twenty?”

“Be at least that… Problem?”

“No… That’ll work… Out.”

He keyed his Com-Link as an answer. I flicked the unlock switches for the cargo holds, electronically signed my security certificate to allow off loading and loading and headed for the showers and fresh clothes. I may as well make the best impression that I can, I reasoned.

Earth Date: 2096 – 08 – 25 16:27:14

Moon Base Fourteen: Visitor Lounge seven

United Planet Technologies:

Petra Stanovich

I could see the bar through the glass wall, I suppose that was the idea, but the last thing I needed before the interview was a drink.

This would be my fourth interview: Each interview had started good and then spiraled downward. I supposed my job broker was doing the best he could though. I had no experience. My parents had used all of their remaining influence to get me into the military after two years training school. I had worked out of field for the last two years, a bad mistake. You became obsolete fast as a navigator. I had been considering using my six on the back and going back into the military side of the feds. There would be plenty of navigators and pilot positions there. The out of field work had really put me in a bad position, and if I went to the Military side of the feds I could forget ever having a civilian career.

The only good thing about this particular position was that it was a time for time position. It would count as military time; restart my clock and qualify me for something better down the line.

Time for time did not take away from my on the back time, it added to my military experience instead: So my two years became four years, and two more became six. In that sense it was a good opportunity, but nothing else about this position looked good at all.

I had watched the Star Dancer dock: A twenty-eight year old Intra-Cruiser. Straight cargo. She was shaped like a giant box with rounded corners. The propulsion units, ION drives and living quarters sat atop the box, rounded, slightly flattened spheres looking as though they had been added as an afterthought. I had thought, ‘How many of these were left in service?’ … ‘Two?’ … ‘Three?’ … A quick check of my wrist pad showed me just how wrong I was. There were over ten thousand Intra-Class cruisers of this configuration in service right now. That was mind boggling. I had assumed that the heavy Star-Cruisers were what dominated the heavens, but I was wrong. The same link gave me the data for that configuration: Only slightly more than four thousand, and out of that number only one hundred twenty-eight were licensed as Star Cruisers, the rest were Galaxy-Cruisers, short run re-supply craft, and drone craft for quantum travel. The antiquated Intra-Cruisers far outnumbered the Galaxy-Cruisers of the official Federal fleets. Maybe the whole thing could be a plus, I thought.

I watched the huge, plastic outer wall. I saw loading was already taking place on the cruiser. Two hatches were open, and company workers in full radiation suits could be seen inside the cargo bays.

Rows of lights lit the space. It yawned open like a cavern, far into the interior of the ship; so far that I could not see the end of the space. All the approaching shuttles and even the workers all seemed to be moving in slow motion. Space did that. It seemed to take forever for something to actually happen: A shuttle to close the pace to a dock facility; a worker to push off and then maneuver with suit thrusters to their next work station.

On the other hand, I had stopped watching twice, chasing thoughts in my head, and when I had turned back so much had happened that I was surprised. More support shuttles towing cargo barges had shown up: Teams of workers riding on the open barges for their short trip to their work stations. The whole ship was crawling with workers: Inspectors, mechanics and repair persons. Seen from this perspective it made the Intra-Cruiser appear to be a very important ship after all. I shook my head. It was still thirty year old technology. If I was offered the job, and I hoped I was, I would stay no more than the required two years to get my career back on track… Nothing more, if I did stay longer the technology curve would pass me by. That was the last thing I needed. I would have absolutely nothing left to fall back on, and that was bad. That was how the prison colonies were populated.

The prison colonies had started with the undesirables: Murderers, rapists, predators that were deemed unfit for society: As the colonies grew they moved on down the criminal line to fill them. Multiple offenders, thieves, and other criminals. Finally, the prisons on Earth were emptied and all prisoners were re-located off Earth.

The real estate on Earth was suddenly deemed too expensive to use for housing them. Yes, correctional services was still a cash cow, but it was simply moved off planet. Earth’s citizens did not want their criminals living among them. The colonies on Mars, IO and Venus were perfect for penal colonies. All the first off Moon colonies had been founded by, and built by prisoners.

It had worked perfectly, and long before the massive death tolls and horrid conditions came to light, the Feds had perfected living condition requirements and buildings that could withstand life in those places. What was past, was past, those that write history shape history they say, and it had been that way, I knew.

The changes and colonies had come at the expense of some ninety-two thousand inmates and political prisoners. Earth’s citizens turned away their blind eyes, happy that those prisoners were not a blight upon the Earth itself, walking among them in some cases. Glad to risk lives that were not their own for progress.

It left a bad taste in my mouth, but my own position was not much better. Last year both of my parents were killed in a random terrorist attack on their building. It happened about twice a month somewhere in the world. There were so many factions opposed to the unified Federal Global Government.

Truth be told, I didn’t like it myself. It scared me in its impersonal approach to life and death, human rights. Two years before it had become a world class felony to be found homeless. Picked up and convicted, the offenders were deported off-world to one of the penal colonies. An unspecified sentence which was a black mark forever, and then usually an offer of half pay to work at some back water colony base, or new base construction project, with little or no law.

The new law affected me because I was not yet a viable worker, and the government had seized all of my parents property and assets for unpaid Life Taxes: Poor planning on their parts. I was, essentially, homeless, living on my two year service benefit. That benefit entitled me to free government housing, education and job placement: Meals, as well as a small monthly credit allowance, but it was not indefinite. It would continue for three years, four if I applied for the extension. Time was running out.

Of course, worse come to worse, I would re-enlist before I would allow myself to slip into an illegal existence and be shipped off to some penal colony. It was still far from a happy existence for me. Better if I got this job. I needed to get this job.

I turned my attention back to the infra-cruiser and saw that the first two shuttles had arrived in the first cargo hold and were off loading. If I were on that ship it would be my job to monitor that off-loading and re-loading as it occurred. I would be doing my pre-flight checks as I did it. I would probably be thinking about my first off-planet trip. I had never seen Mars, Venus or IO except in video clips.

My concentration was broken when I heard my name announced over the loud speaker system in the lounge; I got up, gathered my case and headed for converse four as instructed. It was easy enough to find. Ten minutes later I was strapped into a battered dock shuttle on my way to the Star Dancer.

Earth Date 2096-08-25 16:52:58

Star Dancer

Michael

I got a good look at Petra as I flagged her through the air-locks: All fresh air; your basic space bug, Earth bug delouser unit. People had, at one time, believed that space was sterile. A few serious contaminations early in the century had stopped that. Of course the process rendered you sterile. It was the same, male or female. The price you paid, so you banked your eggs or your sperm and didn’t give it any more thought. Space travel, constant radioactive exposure, caused all sorts of birth defects. It only made sense.

She was tall, blue-black hair, high cheekbones. Russian. The hair had to be died, but it suited her face, which was hard edged and a little angular. Something past pretty, but less than beautiful… Maybe, I decided.

I had read her information over twice as I had waited for transport. I had picked up the lounge seven video feed, so I knew who I was looking at, matching the details with what I read.

She was on thin ice. About a year left on her military benefits and she would be declared homeless, and probably insolvent shortly after that. Her only choices were military services or a foot in the door somewhere. I had no doubt she would use that as a stepping stone, but it would set up my operations with Star Dancer for the next two years, and I needed the stability back.

Top ten percent of her classes. Short on military experience, only a two year plan. Fluent in twelve languages, double the average. She had no political advantages, so she had no opportunities in the corporate world. She needed me, it seemed, as much as I needed her.

I buzzed her through the last lock. Flushed the air, and then keyed my Com-Link.

“I’ve sent the El for you. It’s a slow go traveling three hundred decks, but it’s programmed to bring you to the bridge. I’ll see you in about twenty minutes, Miss Stanovich.”

She turned her dark eyes to the camera. “Thank you.”

Star Dancer Bridge

17:13:22

Michael

“Full gravity?” Petra asked as she stepped from the El. I had met her at the elevator door and we were walking the curved and window ported outer hallway that ringed the central area.

“It’s magnetic, and yes it’s full-time… Doe it feel like Earth?”

“Very much so… I didn’t…” She colored.

I laughed. “Don’t worry about it. You won’t hurt my feelings. I know, fresh out of service you must have seen technology that makes this old bucket look its age.”

She smiled, but her face was still flushed.

“Really… I do understand, and don’t worry. The field is a perk. The feds installed it. They ship some gravity sensitive stuff, there’s a small cargo space directly above us, and really sensitive ‘Destroy if captured’ stuff in security safes on the main deck. So… We get gravity full time.” I smiled at her again and she smiled back. “It’s not perfect though. The mag field takes a little getting used to. It’s never bothered me though,” I finished abruptly, realizing I had just run on longer than I needed or intended.

“What does it do?” She asked.

“Space sickness… Upset stomach. Two of my navigators and one of the crew who came up here to exercise… It lasted a few days and then they got their space legs. “I laughed.

“Exercise equipment?”

“Another perk. I carry full crews out bound every trip, and I almost always come back with a dead head crew too. They’re supposed to use it, but they rarely do. They tend to socialize together on their own deck, two below this one. There’s a small inner-deck El that connects us. The exercise deck is up here: Treadmills, elliptical, stationary bikes… It’s nice.”

“But, shouldn’t they check in with you?” She seemed surprised.

I shook my head and shrugged. “Technically, I am their captain, in actuality they couldn’t care less. They’re company men and women. They take their orders from the company. As long as they don’t interfere with the running of my ship we operate independently. You’re accustomed to the chain of command…”

She nodded.

“Nothing like that here. We’re like neighboring countries, my own crew stays here, they stay there. I can’t recall a time when I have met more than two or three of a crew at any given time. Usually one or less.” I shrugged once again. “That’s the reality of intra cruising.”

She nodded and followed me onto the bridge.

The bridge on an Intra-Cruiser is a very small area. It is at the front of the pod with two huge viewing ports and one even larger viewing screen in between them. Contrary to popular belief, even my own until the fourth grade, there isn’t anything of great interest to see in space at any given time.

Most of the rooms wall space is taken up with smaller flat panel displays hooked into ship systems. There are three console units with chairs directly facing the view ports.

“You would be here with me most of the time.” I waved my hand to include the entire room. “Take your pick of seating, any can be configured the way you want it to be. Sit down, give a shot. It’s pretty straight forward.”

She sat, pulled the overhead monitor down and had the navigation screens up in just a few moments. She studied them for a few seconds. “Looks easy enough.”

“It is… Believe me, you’ll be bored most of the time.”

“When would I have to decide?”

I looked at one of the wall monitors and the time stamp that ran along the bottom. “You have about four hours from now. That will give me time to re-configure rations, get your licensing in order, passport, extra fuel supplies… Or, you could think it over this trip and I’ll be back in thirteen months, give or take… That’s my average return trip.”

“So… So, you’re offering me the job?” she asked. She was a little wide eyed.

“Absolutely… You’re qualified… Listen, let’s face it, you’re overqualified. I’d be damn lucky to get you. The only thing I’d ask of you is the standard two year contract.” She started to speak, but I held up my hands.

“You can’t hurt my feelings. Two years, as we both know, is the maximum benefit time for you, and it will give you the time to look around. It is an incredible world out there. You won’t believe all the contacts and people you’ll meet. It will give you some real time to breath… Think about what you really want to do. I’ve got some good contacts I could point you at.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“Absolutely… You do right by me and I’ll be happy to do right by you.”

“Okay.” She looked around the room. “My stuff is in a locker off Lounge 7.”

It took me a second. “Oh, you meant okay as in you’ll take it… The job?”

“She smiled. “Sorry. Guess I forgot to add yes I’ll take the job.”

“No, no, I’m a little slow.” I turned back to my monitor and pulled up the re-stocking charts. “Any particular wants or needs? We eat pretty well. The Fed contracts load us up with all kinds of stuff. Perks again, but they are well stocked here at Fourteen… Real coffee… Media… Whatever.” I continued through the screens and began to recalculate the fuel requirements.

Earth Date 2096-08-25 00:03:51

Moon Base fourteen

United Planet Technologies

Intra-Cruiser: Star Dancer

I ran down the lists as Petra pulled them up on her screens and checked them off. Flawless.

“It looks good, Michael.”

“It is good, Petra… Take it out.” I picked up my mug of coffee, the first real coffee I had, had in a while. It sure beat synthetics. I felt the vibration as she threw the dock lock switches and expertly palmed the thrusters. We did a slow, nearly perfect half turn, then she did a longer burn to put us into our ten mile safety limit before she could engage the ION engines.

I watched Moon Base Fourteen fall slowly behind us on the main monitor, and then continued watching as Petra went through the pre ION drive check lists. I had done it so long by myself that I felt almost guilty sitting back and letting her take care of it. Nevertheless, it felt good, and I was looking forward to the company.

“Ten plus zero zero one,” Petra said.

“Kick ’em,” I told her.

She grinned at me and then reached forward and engaged the ION drives.

I sat back and watched the red mileage numerals begin to move fast, then I turned my attention to my own checks. Cargo, decks, company crews. A few minutes later I was done and I sat back and watched as Petra finished her calculations and sent them to my screen to check and approve. She began to program her side navigation console.

Moon Base Fourteen was gone. The moon itself was a distant smear of dull gray next to the big blue ball. Sometimes there were things to look at in space.

I sat back and relaxed into my chair and thumbed by Log-Link.

“Intra-Cruiser Star Dancer, forty-five minutes and twenty-eight seconds out of Moon Base Fourteen. Present, Michael Watson, chief operating officer, Petra Stanovich, navigation officer. We have at present, twenty-eight UPT crew members, see contract FQHPX2879 for a crew manifest… Mars Prison Colony Twenty-Seven will be our first stop, a re-supply, see manifest 97715. Mars One tech drop, see Fed contract 771926f, our second stop. IO six, last drop, pre-fab building shipment under science contract 279916bx… Watson out.”

I picked up my mug and sipped at my coffee while Petra did her own log. I had a navigator for the next two years, after that maybe I would bite the bullet and spring for an Intra-Galaxy Cruiser. I thought about it. I just might do it. Maybe it was time for a change. Maybe I could even run it by Petra, see how it sounded to another set of ears. Maybe it would even interest her.

It made me feel good. I guess I had fallen into a rut over the past seventeen months. I was surprised how good the bridge felt with someone else on it. I sipped at my coffee and watched the Earth grow smaller as we picked up speed.


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Writing Earth’s Survivors

Posted by Dell Sweet 04-12-2017

You made it! Middle of the week passing as we speak. I am motivated today, writing and a few other minor projects I have to finish up. I hope things go smoothly for you today too.

A few words about the Earth’s Survivors Series of books:

This series was written by me several years ago and remained unpublished. I wrote the original books in longhand in bound composition notebooks. At the time that was what was available to me, at least for the first few books. After that it didn’t matter. I was hooked. The stories seemed to flow perfectly and I didn’t want to mess with the magic. Sounds crazy, maybe, but those stories come from some place that I don’t have access to, or at least access to any time I choose.

I can sit down and begin nearly any story that is suggested to me, but if it isn’t there, after the initial start, the story will just die. The words will come harder and harder and then the well will be dry. I have no idea where the characters are going to. And, most likely, that is because they are going no where. They are staying where ever I wrote them too. They will always be there, any time I care to reread what I wrote.

My point is, if it isn’t there it isn’t there. Beginning it, or wishing it will not make it work. So, I did not want to mess up the magic. I left it alone and the books poured out.

From 2008 to 2010 I wrote twenty Earth’s survivors books. I also wrote four Dreamer’s Worlds books. I wrote eight America The Dead books. I wrote seven books about Earth’s Survivors characters before the world ended, loosely formed around a Weather Girl named Rebecca Monet. The first is Billy Jingo.

I wrote dozens or short stories. Space travel, Cowboys and Zombies, Crime Novels, Horror, Sci Fi, True, Historical and more. Some of it I personally like, some fans like, it’s has always been impossible for me to judge which way it will go. It surprises me when I write something and I don’t especially like it, yet others do.

Stephen King once said that The Stand was the book he got the most feedback about, the largest fan base, but it was not his favorite book. Even so, he knew he had written something special and he had.

So I wrote in my composition notebooks and the stories came to me. Occasionally I would write lyrics in between. I spent my day today going through all of it so I could formulate an attack in my head. How to get it from point A (The Composition Notebook) to point B (My Open Office Install).

The main writers who do the work of taking that content from the notebooks and getting it into the word processor are W. W. (Jay) Watson and Geo Dell. No one can read my handwriting, including me some days, so most of the time it is easier for me to type it into the word processor and then give it to them to finish.

It gets done. It makes it from that Point A to Point B. But, I guess, because I put Jay and Geo’s names on the books that it has confused a few people. Don’t be confused. That’s why I am on this subject, to let you know exactly how the process goes. In the end, no one, except Rachel, changes one word I have written. And, the ones she changes need changing. What I do think that they do is lend a feel and a certain flow to the books. The stories flow, and that is because I listen to their suggestions and change what needs to be changed. And with that many eyes on it there are less problems for the Editor.

So, to recap, I am the writer, copyright owner, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due. They do put the work in and they deserve to have their names on the books too. W. W. (Jay) Watson has his name as the lead on the Main Earth’s Survivors books. Geo will have his name on the Rapid City books, and already has his name on the Dreamer’s Worlds books. I like both men. I am very happy they are there to do the work. It gives me time to develop ideas and stories that are written by Jay and Geo, and occasionally time to introduce new material like the upcoming Outrunners series, the first book of which is new material as there never was a book that introduced the Outrunners.

I took the weekend off from the home construction that is ongoing. I worked with two young guys most of the week. I mean young like seventeen. I thought they would kill me before we finished up. But, they also got me in gear and I think we enjoyed working with each other. Even so I took the weekend of to heal. Monday I’ll jump back in.

I have been collecting public domain writing in the E Pub format. I have the reader as well as about 1000 books that are public domain. One of the things that I would like to see soon, probably fall, is that collection to be available for download. Once the push to start it is over, the rest, adding to it as books or stories become available, shouldn’t be too hard. That is ahead.

I am going to leave you with Zombie Fall a short story I was asked to write for a Zombie Anthology that I believe is due out this fall sometime. It may actually be out now. I hope you enjoy it… Because of language issues, readers must be over the age of seventeen.


ZOMBIE FALL By Wendell Sweet

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Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet

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Zombie Fall

Geo ~ October 29th

I buried Della this morning. I knew they’d find out, Hell, they probably knew immediately in that slow purposeful way that things come to them. I can hear them out there ripping and tearing… They know. Yeah, they know, I know it as well as I know my name, Geo, Georgie, Mother used to say. I… I get so goddamned distracted…. It’s working at me…

Bastards! If they could have only left Della alone I could have…. But it’s no good crying about it or wishing I had done this thing or that thing. I didn’t. I didn’t and I can’t go back and undo any of this, let alone the parts I did.

In August when the sun was so hot and the birds suddenly disappeared, and Della came around for what was nearly the last time I hadn’t known a thing about this. Nothing. It’s late fall now and I know too much. Enough to wish it were August once again and I was living in ignorant bliss once more.

Della. I didn’t want to do it. I told myself I would not do it and then I did it. Not bury her, that had to be done, I mean kill her. I told myself I wouldn’t kill her, and that’s a joke really. Really it is, because how do you kill something that is already dead? No. I told myself that I wouldn’t cut her head off, put her in the ground upside down, drive a stake through her dead heart. Those are the things I told myself I wouldn’t do, couldn’t do, but I did them as best I could. I pushed the other things I thought, felt compelled to do, aside and did what I could for her.

The trouble is, did I do it right? It’s not like I have a goddamn manual to tell me how to do it. Does anybody? I doubt it, but I would say that it’s a safe bet that there are dozens of people in the world right now, people who have managed to stay alive, that could write that manual. I just don’t know them… I wish I did. And it won’t matter to me anyway. It’s a little too late.

So the books say take their heads off. The books also say, for Vampires, put a stake in their heart, and older legends say turn them around, upside down in the grave. Isn’t a vampire a kind of Zombie? Isn’t it? Probably not exactly, precisely, but, could it hurt to have done the stake thing just in case? To be sure? To put her at rest? I don’t think so.

They can come out during the daylight, you know. I thought they wouldn’t be able to. Every goddamn movie I ever saw, starting with the Night Of The Living Dead they couldn’t. You could get some relief. You could get some shit done. And you could if it were true, but it’s not. They rarely come out in the daylight, that’s the truth. It’s hard for them, tough somehow, but they can. It won’t kill them. They aren’t weaker than they are at night. They just don’t like the daylight. They don’t like it. And don’t you think writing that made me a little paranoid? Thinking it over once more? It did. I got up and checked the windows. Nothing I can see, but they’re out there. They’re right out there in the barn. Sleeping in the sweet hay up in the Haymow. I know it, so it doesn’t matter whether I can see them. I can hear them and I know where the rest of them are. And I know they know what I did and they’ll come tonight. They’ll come tonight because I’m afraid of the night. Not them. Me. And they goddamn well know it! They know it! They think. They see. Did you think they were stupid? Blind? Running on empty? Well you’re the fool then. Listen to me, they’re not. They’re not and thinking they are will get you dead quick. And what about me? How will I feel tonight? What will I think about it then?

Zombies: I thought Haiti, Horror flicks…? What else is there? Dead people come back to life, or raised from the dead to be made into slaves. Those are the two things I knew and nothing else. Well, it’s wrong. Completely wrong. No. I can’t tell you how they come to be Zombies initially, but I can tell you that the bite of a Zombie will make you a Zombie. The movies got that much right.

I can’t tell you why they haunt the fields across from my house. Why they have taken up residence in my old barn. But I can tell you that it might be you they come for next and if they do you goddamn well better realize that everything you thought you knew is bullshit. See, Della didn’t believe it and look what happened to her! I know, I know I didn’t tell you but I will. That’s the whole point of writing this down before they get me too.

See in a little while I’m going to walk out the kitchen door and right out to the barn. I’ll leave this here on the kitchen table. First for my Son Joe, I haven’t heard from him since September, before things got really crazy. So, if he makes it here somehow this will be here for him. Second, it’s for you, whoever you are who happened along into my kitchen.

Goddamn Zombies. Ever lovin’ Bastards! …

I am losing control, I know I am But… Anyway, it was August. Hot. Hotter, they said, than it had been in recorded time. There was no wind. No rain. Seemed like no air to breath.

It was on a Tuesday. I went to get the mail and there were six or seven dead crows by the box. I thought those Goddamn Clark boys have been shootin’ their B.B guns again. So I resolved to call Old Man Clark and give him a piece of my mind except I forgot. That happens when you get old. It’s not unusual. I remembered about four o’clock the next morning when I got up. Well, I told myself, Mail comes at ten, I’ll get that, then I’ll call up and have that talk.

I make deals like that with myself all the time. Sometimes it works out fine sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t.

Ten came and I forgot to get the mail. I remembered at eleven thirty, cursed myself and went for my walk to the box.

I live alone. I have since Kate died. That was another hot summer. I used to farm. I retired a few years back. I rent out the fields. The barn did set empty up until late September or Early October when the Zombies moved in. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I walked to the mail box cursing my creaky brain as I went. When I got there I realized the Clark boys had either turned to eating crows or they had nothing to do with the dead crows in the first place. There were dozens of dead Crows, Barn Swallows, Gulls. The dirt road leading up to my place was scattered with dead birds, dark sand where the blood had seeped in. Feathers everywhere, caught in the trees, bushes, and the ditches at the side of the road. There were three fat, black Crows sticking out of my mailbox. Feet first. Half eaten.

Some noise in the woods had made me turn but I can’t turn as fast as I used to. Whatever had made the noise was gone when I got turned in that direction. But, there were bare footprints in the dry roadbed next to the box. They were not clear, draggy, as though the person had had a bad leg. He had, of course, but I had yet to meet the owner.

Hold on…

The day’s getting away from me. My ears are playing tricks on me too. I thought I heard something upstairs but there’s nothing. I have the bottom floor boarded up. Those Zombies may be far from stupid but it’s goddamn hard to get dead limbs to help you climb up the side of a house and we took everything down they could hold onto…

Where was I? The mailbox. The mail never came that day. In fact the mail never came again. Already Emma Watson, our local Mail carrier, was a Zombie. I just didn’t know it.

I tried Clark but got no answer. Later that day I heard a few shots but we’re country folks. There’s Deer wandering all over the place. Wouldn’t be the first time one got shot without a tag or a proper season. Della came later, upset, her boyfriend had run off somewhere she thought. It’ll be okay I told her.

I seen him a week later.

Della usually came at the ends of the month to help me with shopping, bills, she’s a… She was a good girl. A good one. A good Zombie fearing girl. She was… She didn’t come and August turned to September and I was sitting by the stove that night and heard the scrape on the porch.

His leg was bad. Somebody had shot him. But her fella had worse things going on than that. He was dead. What was a bum leg when you were dead? Small problem. But it made him drag that leg. I’m getting ahead of myself again though.

I picked up my old shot gun where it sat next to the door, eased the door open and flicked on the porch light. He jumped back into the shadows.

“Step out into the light,” I tried not to sound like the old man I was.

“No,” he rasped

“Step out here or I’ll shoot,” I tried again.

“Della,” he whispered. His voice was gravelly.

That stopped me cold. I squinted but it was too dark to make out much. Still I had the idea it might be her boyfriend. Maybe he’d got himself into something bad. I couldn’t get the name to come to me. “You Della’s boyfriend that went missing…?”

Nothing but silence, and in that silence I got a bad feeling. Something was wrong. It came to me about the same time that he stepped into the light. There was no sound of breathing. It was dead quiet. My own panicked breathing was the only sound until he stepped into the light dragging his leg.

My heart staggered and nearly stopped.

“Della,” he rasped once more. He cocked his head sideways, the way a dog will when it’s not sure of something. One eye was bright but milky white, the other was a gooey mess hanging from the socket on the left side of his face.

I found my old shot gun rising in my hands. I saw the alarm jump into his eyes and he was gone just that fast.

I stood blinking, convinced that I had somehow dreamed the whole encounter, but I knew I didn’t. The smell of rotting flesh still hung heavy in the air. In the distance I heard the rustle of bushes and then silence. Zombies are not stupid, and they are not slow.

The next day it seemed ridiculous. What an old fool I thought. What had I imagined? But the days leading up to October told me a different story.

I drove into Watertown around the middle of October. I passed maybe two cars on the way but neither driver would meet my eyes. That was wrong. Trash blew through the streets as I drove. The traffic lights were out on the square and no one was on the streets. I didn’t see a single police car.

The mall was closed. The road into it barricaded. I found a little Mom and Pop place open on the way back but there was next to nothing on the shelves. I got a jar of Peanut Butter that I didn’t want. A package of crackers, there was no bread, and paid with the last of my cash.

The store owner wore deep socketed eyes on a lined face. His attitude said, I will not speak to you. And he wouldn’t. After a brief attempt I went home. I never went back. By that next night I knew what the deal was when Della showed up.

She came around noon. I heard the sound of her engine revving long before she came into sight. She took out the mailbox and crashed into the porch and that was that. We were up most of the night talking about how much the world had changed. She knew more than I did. She knew there were no more police. She knew there were roving gangs of Zombies on the streets of Watertown. She had met a man who had come from Rochester. Rochester was a ruin. Another from Buffalo, the same story there. The Zombies, it seemed, owned the world.

She stayed until three days ago. I wouldn’t have been able to get this house closed up on my own. Della worked side by side with me. That was early, before we knew they would come out into the sunlight. Johnny, that was her fellas name, came for her in the daylight when we were closing up the house. If not for the bad leg he would have got her. If not for the fact that we were close to the living room door he might have got her. He might have got her because we both froze. And, when I realized I had to move she was still froze, just looking at his ruined, rotted face.

I got the shot gun and blew his head off. I thought she was going to kill me, then I thought he was going to manage to get back to his feet even without his head and kill me. He finally stopped and I managed to drag her inside and shut the door.

After that we watched when we worked. I had gone back out a short time later, after I got her laid down and sleeping off the shock, to take a closer look at the body. There were five of them eating him where he lay, and two watching the door. When I started out they were on me just that fast. I shot them both as fast as I could pull the trigger. My shot gun only holds four shells. Two were gone and they were slowed but they were not deterred. I made it back inside, bolted the door and began to wonder if my heart was going to explode.

Later, before dusk, I went back outside. Johnny’s body was gone along with the other zombies.

Since then it’s been a war, and then we decided, I decided that Della had to try to get out. Drive out and find help. She was carrying a child after all, the Zombie fellas baby I suppose. Maybe there was a place outside of New York where things were normal, okay, Zombie free.

We planned it. I got my truck, drained the gas from her car and my old tractor. That gave her a full tank in the truck and almost ten gallons in cans strapped into the back of the cab. There wasn’t much in the way of food but we split what we had. She promised to send help but we both knew that was a long shot. She left early morning and I thought she was away and free.

I don’t know what happened. I’ll never know. Did she get ten miles down the road before they got her somehow? Only a mile? How did they do it? I’ll never know. I only know she came back to me last night. Dead already. A zombie. Already reeking of death

“Geo!” In the night. Her calling my name and it pulled me up from sleep with dread, fear, but hope that there was some sort of plausible reason why she was out there calling my name in the night.

“Geo! Please… Help me!”

I had thrown the bolt on the door and had it halfway to open before I realized what an old fool I was. It was too late then. She was on me before I could close the door. She was strong. So goddamned strong, and she knew where the gun was and tried to stop me from getting to it.

I got it but I hesitated too long for the last time and she got me. She lunged and took a chuck of flesh out of my shoulder. I got her in the stomach with two shots, and then one more, after I reloaded, in the head.

I buried her this morning. Even when I did I had this strange urge to taste her. Just a small bite. Who would know? I was shocked that I had had the thought. Shocked that I had continued with the burial and had not eaten her. I’ve been sitting here since then. They’ve come around. I can hear them. It was the noise of them digging her up earlier that I heard and thought had come from upstairs. I suppose they dug her up. I just bet they did. I should have kept her for myself, I think. But, God, What am I thinking? What?

I can feel it working its poison in my body. My sense of smell is incredible. My eyesight sharp. I’m hungry. It’s like something that is trying to drive me… Own me… I can’t stand it. I can’t. I…


I hope you enjoyed that short story. Check out all of my books at iTunes: Author Dell Sweet (Follow the link for FREE eBooks from Dell Sweet!)

Earth’s Survivors News, a free short story from Mister Bob, and Wishing I lived somewhere else

Posted by Dell 03-29-2017

Earth’s Survivors News, a free short story from Mister Bob, and Wishing I lived somewhere else…

Wednesday is here. It’s official now, whenever I try to get more done things speed up and I run out of time. Whenever I am trying to speed things up they slow to a crawl. So I think that means I am capable of controlling time. Okay, maybe not, but at least my own perception of time.

It’s cold today, but warm weather is on the way for the early part of next week. Every year around this time I ask myself why I live here and the answer is I am that old dog that doesn’t want to learn new tricks. So rather than move somewhere pleasant I stay here and complain instead. They say that Washington State is a nice place to live. I have a friend who lives in California that says Washington State has near perfect year around weather. Of course if I moved there it would change. It would probably snow the first day and then an ice storm would happen along and I would never get any writing done because of the weather.

Anyway, New York it is for the foreseeable future. I worked on the Earth’s Survivors books yesterday. Getting back to the threads I left hanging which placed me back into the story line nicely. I have what I need to begin and possibly that may happen tomorrow.

For today I will lave you with a short story from Mister Bob, a collection I published not long ago that is available at most booksellers. I hope you enjoy it and I will see you back here on Friday for the next installment of Earth’s Survivors, Dell…


This Material is Copyright protected


PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS

Copyright 2017 Wendell Sweet All rights reserved


PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS

Nine Fifty-Nine A.M.

I lowered my wrist to my side, settled myself back into the shadows of the treeline and raised my binoculars to my eyes.

I swept the back deck and rear entrance, shot across the fence to the next house in line: Nothing; and nothing. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I had been wrong all along.

Being a private detective isn’t all thrills. Most of the time it’s doing exactly what I was doing: Sitting and waiting. For hours sometimes, with little to show. Other times you just happen to walk into the middle of something, get everything you need in those few seconds and feel a little guilty about even charging for it, let alone keeping the retainer: If there was a retainer… But of course I always fight past that. After all money, making a living, is why I do this job.

Apparently this job wasn’t going to be one of those kinds of jobs, but what kind of job was it going to be? Hard to tell.

I was watching the house of Paul and Melinda Fields. At Melinda Field’s request. She was a friend of my wife Joan. So you would think that the request would have come from my wife to help her friend, but it had not. It had not come that way at all. It had come instead in the form of a phone call to my office. Melinda had called and asked me to meet with her, and she asked me to keep it quiet. She didn’t want her friends to know, meaning my wife too, I concluded.

I was okay with that. You get a lot of that sort of thing as a private eye. People think odd things, maybe they’re even a little paranoid. If a woman or a man thinks his or her loved one is cheating on them they sometimes want to keep the information as quiet as possible. They want to know. You’re the private dick so it’s okay if you know, but they don’t want anyone else to know.

This was day two and I was about to burn up the retainer. I had nothing at all to show for it. But as I said that is the private detective game most of the time. Waiting and seeing. I simply hadn’t seen anything. Well, almost nothing. Apparently Paul did keep things from his wife. Right now, for instance, he was supposed to be at his office. He wasn’t of course. Joan had left for work, but he hadn’t. And more than once he had checked the windows as though he were expecting someone. Peeking out of the drapes; sliding the deck door open and peeking out before he stepped outside… Sipping his coffee as he looked around and then quickly stepping back inside. Odd.

Odd, but not exactly indicative of much of anything at all. He had done nearly the same thing yesterday and I had wasted nearly four hours watching him pace the deck, check the windows, pace the kitchen, refill his cup, pace the deck some more, and then finally get in his car and drive to the office in the early afternoon.

Paul Fields was a contractor. Not one of the big ones, but not one of the small ones either. They lived in a nice subdivision. Melinda sold real estate. Between the two of them they did very well. She drove a nice BMW and he drove a new Ford pickup. One of the big ones with the big price tags. It looked as though it had never hauled anything in its life. All shiny black and chrome. Lots of chrome.

The man lived in Jeans, work boots and button up chambray work shirts. He was in his early forties, looked thirty five. Fit, attractive in some ways. I could see why she might think he was  screwing around. I just didn’t see any evidence of it if he was. Maybe, I thought, I should have run it past Joan. Maybe she felt this same thing a few times a year, once a month: Who knew. The only thing that had stopped me was that Melinda had made it a condition of hiring me. And so I hadn’t.

I lowered the glasses, slipped a cigarette from my pack and lit it, and then settled back to smoke as I watched. I know, they’ll kill me, but isn’t life killing us all every day? I know, I know, excuses. I got a ton of them.

I took a deep drag and blew the smoke out my nose. I glanced at my watch. Another hour and that would be it.

It was about then that things got interesting. Paul had, had the drapes open on the rear sliders. They suddenly swept shut. My first thought was that he was about to leave for the office, but out of the corner of my eye I caught a taxi drift up to the curbing a couple houses down and stop. It sat idling for a few moments and then the back door popped open, a woman stepped out and hurried off down the walk toward Paul’s house.

I got the camera up and snapped a few dozen pictures before she was out of my line of sight, but who knew what they might be worth? She was moving fast and her face was not fully turned toward the camera. She had one hand up, brushing at her hair as she walked. I changed the card and slipped the other into my pocket. I hated to be short when I needed to shoot.

There was a gap in the drapes. I couldn’t see much through the shadows as I focused with my binoculars. The digital camera didn’t offer much better on zoom, but I clicked a few shots off anyway. Many times I had found the money shot in the pictures I didn’t think would be worth anything at all. I then began to scan the second floor bedroom drapes for movement. There was a set of sliders there too that opened onto an upper deck.

A little movement caught my eye so I kept the lens focused there. Something or someone brushed up against the drapes, they stuttered open for a brief instant and I clicked off another dozen shots out of habit. You just never knew where the money shot was going to be, or if there was even going to be one, but if you didn’t shoot you couldn’t get anything.

I put in another hour, but there was nothing much to see. I had just about made up my mind to shift my cover to the front of the house just in case she slipped out earlier than I thought she would, when a taxi rolled up to the curb of the house next door, and then coasted to a stop, presumably, out of my line of site in front of Paul’s house. I cursed under my breath. Piss poor planning on my part. No other way to see it. I could have gotten a clear shot of the woman, whoever she was.

All in all it made no difference though. The retainer was shot, and most people never went past the retainer. He was fooling around with someone, most likely, and maybe one of the shots I took would even be enough for Melinda to recognize who the woman was. If proof was all she was after she had that.

I retreated back into the woods and made my way to a dead end service road where I had parked earlier, tossed my gear onto the front seat of the beat up old Dodge I used for surveillance, and followed it in. A half a day shot. I had another case to look into, a simple straight forward process serve. I had some good information on where the person should be, hopefully she would be. Maybe it could be a slam dunk kind of day. Well, except for missing the exit shot. I cursed once more under my breath as I keyed the old Dodge and headed back into town.

Nine Twenty-Seven P.M.

I shifted into park, dropped the keys into my coat pocket and levered open my door. At the last moment I turned and retrieved my binoculars, camera, and the small .380 I usually carried when I was somewhere where unexpected things might happen.

The process serve had been a bust, I was tired and grouchy. I palmed the small gun in one hand: I had found myself in the woods more than once on surveillance jobs. Bad neighborhoods a few times too. The .380 was small in my hand, but a large comfort in my head.

I had started with the gun after a friend of mine who worked for the PD and moonlighted as a private eye, small stuff, mostly process serving, had been ambushed by an angry husband he had been trying to serve divorce papers on. He’d been shot four times and had barely survived the hurried ambulance trip to the hospital emergency room. The PD career was done, and the private eye stuff too, although a few of us threw him a bone when we could: When he was sober. I decided I’d rather have something to show.

I had nearly bought a .44 caliber, but one test fire had convinced me to leave that for something smaller and hopefully non fatal. I know, I shouldn’t really be concerned with that. After all, if I am going to have to use a gun to defend myself it should be capable of laying someone down. I just haven’t been able to believe in it yet. I have flashed the .380 twice and ended violent confrontations right there. My ex-PD friends say don’t pull it unless you mean to use it… Maybe… Someday.

I dropped the camera and the gun into my other coat pocket, wound the binocular strap around my hand and walked around the back to where my office is. Joan and I have a deal. I don’t track whatever I have been walking through all day into the house and she won’t divorce me. She was that passionate about it. I emptied my pockets, slipped off my boots I used for the woods, which did, I noticed, have something that could have been mud, bear shit or even dog shit that I could have picked up crossing my own back yard, on them: Joan’s poodle, Mister Tibbles. We’ve agreed to hate each other. I thought about a sniff test, decided to pass, I never could distinguish poodle shit from bear shit anyway, slid on my slippers and walked the shoes to the back door.

Joan called down from the upper level, probably the kitchen. More specifically the bar that was just off the kitchen. My office was on the lower level. You could translate that as basement and you would be correct. I would only add converted basement.

“Yeah… It’s me,” I called back.

“Be careful in the backyard. I took Mister Tibbles out and I couldn’t see where he went.”

That answered that question. “Uh huh,” I answered.

Nothing else floated down to me. I left the landing and walked down to my office. I transferred the pictures off the two cards, then opened my image program as I dialed Melinda’s number. She picked up on the first ring. Her voice low, sexy. It said, “Please buy this property from me, baby.” Sexist, yes, I know. I try not to be. And I felt even worse about being one because of the bad news I was about to give her.

“Mike,” I said.

“Oh… Mike.” She sounded surprised.

I ignored it as I loaded the pictures and searched through them one by one. “Melinda, I have some bad news…. I’ll send you a report on this, but I thought I should call and talk to you just the same… Instead of you reading it in a report.” I searched through the thumbnails as they came up. “I have a few things left to do, but essentially… You were right, Melinda… There’s no easy way to put it, your husband, Paul, is seeing someone.”

I continued flicking through the thumbnails and selected two that might be useful. One shot through the upstairs drapes showed a woman. I ascertained that from the dress she wore. Her face however was turned away from the camera, a blurry blob in shadow.

The second photo showed her hurrying from the cab. Part of her face was obscured by one hand. I would work on both photos and try to get something that Melinda could identify. Melinda stayed silent on the phone.

“I don’t know who the woman is,” I admitted. “She outfoxed me and that doesn’t usually happen. Maybe she was being careful or maybe she’s a little paranoid… I…”

“I know who she is, Mike.”

I stopped. “You do?”

“Yes… I… I had hoped you would identify her though… I wanted to be absolutely sure.” She said sure, but she sounded very unsure.

I transferred the two pictures to some other software, started with the first one from the bedroom shot through the drapes, and selected the areas to work on.

“Mike,” Melinda said even more softly.

“I’m looking over a few photos I shot right now. Trying to get a good, clear face shot,” I told her. She sounded on the verge of tears. Like she was unraveling over the phone. It made me wish I hadn’t addressed it over the phone at all.

The face became clearer pixel by pixel. I have a good machine, it didn’t take long, and I didn’t have to bother with the other photo. “The picture’s coming up, Melinda,” I told her, but my words clogged in my throat as the picture finally came up, and I fell silent myself. She spoke into my silence.

“Mike… I would have told you, Mike… Mike?” She sounded panicked.

“What?” I managed.

“I wasn’t sure… Not completely, Mike.”

“But you hired me to find out? Me? Why didn’t you hire someone else?” A hard ball had settled into the pit of my stomach.

“I… I don’t know… I thought… I thought… I thought you would want to know… Mike… Mike I didn’t really think it through. I was angry… Upset… I wasn’t thinking straight, Mike. I wasn’t.” Now it was her turn to fall silent. I could just barely hear her breathing over the phone in the hardness of the silence.

“I’ll send the retainer back, “ I said at last into the silence. “You… You know maybe this was best… I don’t guess I would have wanted one of my friends to be the guy on this… Finding out. It’s just a little hard to think right now.”

“Sure it is,” She agreed. “I’m so upset.” She sobbed once as if trying to choke it back and then the soft sound of her crying came over the phone.

I was not at the point of tears. I was at the point of anger. That hard place where it’s brand new and you can’t seem to swallow it down. I was there, at that place. It’s a hard goddamn place to be and I realized she had been there too, maybe still was. It was also a dangerous place to be.

“I have to get the hell out of here,” I told her. Twice I had found my eyes locked on the .380 where I had set it on the desktop what seemed like a million years ago.

“Me too… It makes me sick to know it for a fact.” She was still crying, but trying to get herself under control.

It was spur of the moment, but my mouth opened and with no artifice the words tumbled forth.

“I have a cabin… It’s nearly the weekend… Up in Maine… It’s a drive… Isolated… A good place to think.” Silence from the phone. “If you wanted to… Oh hell.”

She laughed a small laugh, followed by sniffles and a few seconds of silence. “I’ll meet you somewhere?” She asked.

“Airport? … You could leave your car in the long term lot… Pick it up Monday or so…”

“Let me get some things together…” She went back to crying for a few moments. “I’ll just… Just leave him a note.” She laughed again, sharply this time. “You know what, I won’t… I’ll be there in… An hour? An hour, Mike?”

I nodded and then realized she couldn’t see that. And so I told her I would meet her there in an hour. I clicked off, slid the phone into my pocket and just sat there for a moment. My eyes dropped back down to the gun and it seemed to hold me hypnotized for a length of time. Like a spell I had to break. I forced myself to look away. I got up and walked away from it. I went up to our bedroom and filled an old suitcase.

I half expected Joan to walk in, see what I was doing and stop me, but she didn’t. I expected her to say something when I came back down the stairs and crossed through the kitchen to the back door, but again she didn’t. If she was sitting there in the gloom of the bar area or had migrated farther into the shadows of the living room, I couldn’t say. She said nothing. Mister Tibbles growled lightly and that was it.

I moved the car, backed my Jeep out of the garage and out into the street. A few minutes later I was cruising the interstate through the darkness, heading for the airport.


I hope you enjoyed this free short story. See you Friday, meanwhile you can get a longer preview at the links below, Dell…

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Snow and the Great Go Cart Race and more snow

Posted Wednesday by Dell 03-15-2017

Seems impossible that half the month is gone.  The year just started, didn’t it? Would some one push the rewind button please?

Well as you probably know we are up to our eyeballs in snow here. The weather was forecast a few days in advance, but then yesterday our top weather people said ‘Hey, it turns out it was over blown a little’ and so many of us thought that was that. I went out yesterday morning for a trip into the city thinking I better get it in just in case. The trip in was no big deal, the trip back was bad and by afternoon the snow was coming down fast at 3 to 5 inches an hour.

So here it is day two of the big storm. We had a little break for an hour or so and now it is coming down again. They say this snow fall amount will be much less. I hope so because yesterday dumped about two feet on us and we are out of room. Maybe someone could speak to President Trump about deporting some of it?

So today is short story day, and I thought I would post one of my favorites.

The great Go Cart race, and you thought it was going to be survival stuff, or zombies, or girls who can dream travel. Nope. The Great Go-Cart race is so close to real that it should be. When certain of us read it, it takes us right back to those days in late summer of 1969. It was a great time to be a kid, a great time to be alive…


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This material is NOT edited for content or language


The Great Go-Cart Race

By DELL SWEET

PUBLISHED BY:

Dell Sweet on Smashwords

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 the place of purchase and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

The Great Go-Cart Race

By

DELL SWEET

This short story is Copyright © 2013 DELL SWEET No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print

DEDICATION

The Great Go-Cart Race is Copyright © 2013 DELL SWEET

All rights reserved

*******

The Great Go-Cart Race

*******

~1~

The summer of 1969 in Glennville New York had settled in full tilt. The July morning was cool and peaceful, but the afternoon promised nothing but sticky heat. Bobby Weston and Moon Calloway worked furiously on the go-cart they had been planning to race down Sinton Park hill, in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. Both boys had grown up in Glennville. Bobby on upper Fig, Moon on lower Fig. And even though they had gone to the same schools and grown up just a block apart, they had only recently become friends. The Go-cart was a project they had devoted the last two weeks to, and it looked as though today would finally see it finished.

By eleven thirty that morning they had the wheels on the go cart, and had dragged it up Sinton Park hill. An old piece of clothesline tied to each side of the two by four the wheels were nailed to served as the steering. One nail pounded through the center board and into the two by four allowed it to turn. It was the best go cart either of them had ever built, and it rolled just fine. The plan was for bobby to give Moon a ten minute head start down the hill. That way he should be at the intersection by the time Bobby got there, they figured, and able to make sure that Bobby got through it in one piece. Just exactly what Moon was supposed to do to stop a car, or Bobby-the go cart had no brakes, except Bobby’s Keds-he didn’t know. They hadn’t figured that part of it out.

“So, how am I supposed to stop a car?” Moon asked. He didn’t want to sound stupid. Most probably Bobby had it all figured out, but Moon couldn’t see it.

“Easy,” Bobby told him, “you don’t. You’d get freakin’ killed.”

“Well, I knew that,” Moon lied.

“See, you’ll be on your bike. You’ll be sittin’ up higher. You’ll see if there’s a car coming, I won’t, on account of how low to the ground I’ll be.”

“I knew that too.” Well, and then what? Moon asked himself.

“So easy. You just yell to me before I get to the intersection, and I cut off to the left and go into the sledding hill instead. You see that way I’ll be going up, instead of down, see?”

“Oh yeah!” Moon said, as it dawned on him. The sledding hill was there. Of course it wasn’t a sledding hill in the summer, but it was a hill, and he could see exactly how it would work. “I knew that too. I just wasn’t sure if that was what you were goin’ to do, or not,” Moon finished.

“Of course you did,” Bobby agreed.

Moon was just getting ready to bike back down to the bottom of the hill, when John Belcher showed up. John Belcher lived on West avenue, and his dad raced stock car out in Lafargville.

As a consequence, John Belcher had the coolest go-cart around. His dad had helped build it. Real tires-they even had air in them-with a real metal axle running from side to side to hold them. That was the best way to do it, Moon had said, when he’d first seen John’s go-cart. That way you didn’t have to worry about the tires falling off when the spikes pulled out, and the spikes always pulled out. It also had a real steering wheel, a real one. Moon had exclaimed over that. His dad, John had told him, had gotten it out of an old boat out at the junk yard.

“Hey,” John said, as he walked up, dragging his go-cart behind him. “Goin’ down?”

“Bobby is,” Moon said respectfully. You had to show a lot of respect to someone who owned a go-cart that cool. “I’m watchin’… At the bottom. So he don’t get killed, or nothin’,” Moon finished.

“Watch for me too?” John asked.

“Sure, man, a course I will. Bobby don’t care, do ya?”

“Uh uh,” Bobby said. “You gonna try for the whole thing?”

“Why, are you?”

“Yeah… Right through the intersection, and if I can all the way downtown. Probly won’t roll enough on the flat part to do that though, but at least through the intersection and as far past it as I can get.”

Sinton Park Hill began at the extreme western end of Glennville, and continued-though somewhat reduced-as State Street Hill all the way to the Public Square three miles from its start.

“Cool!” John said. Now it was his turn to sound respectful. “I dunno, man. If I do it and my dad finds out, he’ll kill me.”

“Well, who’s gonna tell him?” Moon asked. “I won’t, and neither will Bobby.”

“Yeah, but if someone see’s me…”

“Yeah… I’m gonna though,” Bobby said. He could see John was aching to do it.

“Okay… I’m gonna,” John said decidedly.

“Cool!” Moon exclaimed. “Really frickin’ cool!”

John grinned, as did Bobby. “Well,” Bobby said, “guess you better head down, Moony. Moon didn’t need to be told twice. He stood on the pedals, and fairly flew down the hill.

~2~

“Think he’s down the bottom yet?” Bobby asked John quietly. They were both sitting at the side of Sinton Park hill. Their sneakers wedged firmly against the black top to hold them. John had allowed ten minutes to tick off, keeping faithful track of the time with his Timex.

“Oughta be,” John said in a whisper, licking his lips.

“Scared?”

“Uh uh… Well, a little.”

“Me too… Ready?”

“For real?”

“For real,” Bobby said solemnly.

John didn’t answer, he simply pulled his feet from the pavement, turned and grinned at Bobby, and began to roll away. Bobby followed, both of them hugging the side of the road, as close to the curbing as possible.

It was a slow build up for the first few hundred feet. Sinton park hill didn’t begin to get really steep until you were better than half way down, it was gradual up until that point. Even so, within that first few hundred feet, Bobby realized that everything had changed. John was already a good fifty feet ahead of him, and pulling away fast enough that it was noticeable. They were not going to hit the bottom of the hill at even close to the same time. Moon would have to watch for both of them separately.

John made a sharp curve up ahead, and disappeared from view. Everything, Bobby knew, was sharp curves from here on out, and that would not change until they were well past the halfway point. And, this was much faster than he had thought it would be. Much faster.

He fought with the rope through the curve, but he could no longer keep to the side. He was going to need the entire road.

And if a car came? he asked himself.

He had thought of that, but he had thought he would be able to stay to the side. No time to think. Another curve just ahead, and he had only barely glimpsed John as he had flown around the curve. Just the back tires really. He probably wouldn’t see any more of him at all until they were down at the bottom.

The second curve was not as bad as the first had been. He didn’t try to fight this time, he simply let the go-cart drift as far as it wanted too. He came off the curve and dropped both sneakers to the pavement. Instant heat, and the left one flipped backwards nearly under the two by four that held the rear tires, before he was able to drag it back in.

“Jesus,” he moaned. It was lost in the fast rush of wind that surrounded him. Torn from his throat and flung backwards. He hadn’t even heard it. Another curve, and the Indian trail flashed by on his right.

The Indian trail was just that. An old Indian trail that cut down through the thick trees that surrounded Sinton park. He and Moon had carefully negotiated it several times. The Indian trail was just before the halfway point, he knew. There was a really sharp curve coming up, just before Lookout Point. You could see nearly all of Glennville from there.

He fought the curve. Harder this time. It felt as if he were going at least a million miles an hour. Two million maybe, he corrected himself. And the go-cart was beginning to do a lot more than drift. It was beginning to shake. And, his mind told him, you ain’t even at the fast part yet! Lookout Point flashed by, and he fought his way around the sharp curve, going nearly completely to the other side in order to do it…. Yes I am, he told himself.

The road opened up. A full quarter mile of steep hill lay before him, before the next curve. It would be a sharp one too, but not as bad as the one he’d just come around. John was nowhere to be seen ahead of him. Presumably at and around the next curve already. No cars yet, and hopefully there wouldn’t be any at all. It was Monday, Sinton Park saw most of its business on the weekends, if they’d tried this then…

The quarter mile was gone that quick. This curve, and one more, and the rest was all straight-away. He gritted his teeth, and flashed into the curve.

Halfway through, nearly at the extreme edge of the opposite side of the road, the first raindrop hit him. A small splat, or it would have been. The speed with which he was moving had made it sting. Splat, splat. The tires were nearly rubbing the curbing when he finally came out the other side of the curve and hit a small straight-away. And now fat drops were hitting the pavement.

He sped into the last curve, and this time the wheels didn’t skim the curbing, they seemed glued to it. Screaming in protest as he tore through the wide curve and made the other side. The rain came in a rush. Turning the hot pavement glossy black as it pelted down. He used the rope carefully to guide himself back towards the side of the road. Slipping as he went, but making it. His hands were clinched tightly, absolutely white from the force with which he held the rope.

Straight-away, slightly less than a mile, and far ahead, where the stone pillars marked the entrance to Sinton Park, he watched John fly through the intersection. Nothing… No car. Nothing. He made it. He could make out Moon sitting on his bike at the side of the road. Leaned up against one of the pillars. Moon turned towards him, and then quickly looked away. The hill was flashing by fast. Too fast. He’d never be able to cut into the sledding hill. Not in a million years, and especially not with the road wet like it was.

Halfway. Moon was turning back, waving his arms frantically. Bobby slammed his Keds into the slick surface of the road. Useless, and he dragged them back inside after only a split second. Nothing for it, nothing at all. The intersection was still empty, however, so maybe…

Moon scrambled away from his bike letting it fall, and sprinted for the middle of the road, but he was far too late. And even if he hadn’t been, Bobby told himself as he flashed by him, the go-cart probably would’ve run him over.

“Truck!” Moon screamed as Bobby flew past him. He stumbled, fell, picked himself up, and ran back towards the stone entrance post, watching the intersection as he went.

The truck, one of the lumber trucks from Jackson’s Lumber on Fig street, made the intersection in a gear grinding, agonizingly, slow shuffle, before Bobby did. Bobby laid flat, and skimmed under the front tires.

Moon stopped dead, the handlebars in one rain slicked hand, and his mouth flew open as he watched. The undercarriage was just above his head, and if he hadn’t laid down…

Moon watched, frozen, as Bobby shot out the other side as neatly as if he had planned it, the back tires missing him by mere inches, and suddenly Bobby was well on his way towards State street hill, and…

Moon grabbed the handle bars tighter, flipped the bike sideways and around, and pedaled off after him as fast as he could.

Bobby raised his head quickly. He had truly believed it was over. He’d been praying, in fact. He hadn’t expected to make it all. He fought his way to the side of the road, and watched as far ahead, John slipped over the top of State Street Hill, and headed towards Public Square.

There were cars here, and more than a few blew their horns as he slipped slowly by on the side of them. He dragged his feet. Pushing as hard as he could, but managing to slow down very little. The top of the hill came and went, and reluctantly he pulled his feet back once more, and hugged the curbing. The only problem would be from cars cutting off the side streets.

The rain began to slack off, as he started down the hill-a brief summer down pour, they had them all the time, but the road was still wet-at least he could see better. The rear of the go-cart suddenly began to shimmy. He risked a quick backwards glance. Very quick, but it was enough to show him that the rubber was shredding from the tire on the outside, and it was also beginning to wobble. The spikes were coming out, and if that happened…

He pushed it away, and began to concentrate on the side streets that seemed to be flashing by every couple of seconds. Oak, Elm, Sutter, Hamilton. Nothing and nothing, and thank God. The rubber went a few seconds later. He could hear the metal rim ringing as it bit the wet pavement. The hill began to flatten. State Street Hill was nowhere near as long as Sinton Park Hill, and thank God for that too. Finally, he slipped past Mechanic street, and the hill flattened out. He could see John ahead, coasting slowly to a stop nearly in front of the First Baptist Church that held a commanding presence of the Public Square. He watched as John finally stopped, got out, and looked back. Moon whizzed past, standing on the pedals, screaming as he went.

“We did it! We freakin’ did it!”

Bobby smiled, a small smile, but it spread to a wide grin. So wide that it felt as though his whole lower jaw was going to fall off. His stuck out his much abused Keds for the last time, and coasted to a stop behind John’s go-cart.

“Man, did’ya see it? When ya went under th’ truck, Holy cow, for real, did ya see it? I thought you were, like, dead, man, for real!” Moon said as he ran up, John along with him.

John looked pale, really pale, Bobby saw. He supposed he looked the same.

“Under a truck?” John asked. “A freaking truck? A real one?”

“For real. Scout’s honor,” Moon told him. “It almost ripped his head off. I saw it! For real! Next time I do it,” Moon declared as he finished.

“Next time?” John asked. He looked at Bobby.

“Uh uh,” Bobby said. “There ain’t ever gonna be a next time, Moony, right, John?”

“For real. Uh uh. No way. Not ever.”

Moon smiled. “Well, too bad, cause I woulda… For real.”

Bobby looked at John. “Did you know it would go so fast? How fast were we going, Moony?”

“No way,” John said softly.

“Probly… Forty, at least forty.” Moon said confidently.

“You think so?”

“Could be,” John agreed, “cause like the speed limit is thirty five, and we were passing cars, and that was on State Street Hill, not Sinton,” he opened his eyes wide as he finished.

“Hey, maybe fifty,” Moon assured them.

“Did it look scary to you?” Bobby asked.

“Scary? Uh… Yeah, it did. I thought you guys were dead, for real. I was pedalin’ as fast as I could, but it took a long time to catch you. Was it?”

Bobby looked at John. “Yeah,” they said, nearly at the same time.

“Really scary,” John added.

They all fell silent. John, Bobby noticed, seemed to be getting some color back in his face.

“Wanna go buy some Cokes?” Moon asked at last.

“Can’t,” John said, “no money.

“We’ll buy,” Moon said, smiling once more. He helped drag both go-carts up over the curbing, and turn them around. Moon rode his bike, as Bobby and John pulled the go-carts behind them.

They rehashed the entire ride as they walked towards Jacob’s Superette. Laughing, the terror already behind them.

Later that day when Bobby and Moon finally made it back to Fig street. They stuck the go-cart in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. They talked about it from time to time, even went in the garage and looked at it occasionally, but they never rode down Sinton Park Hill, or any other hill, with it again. It sat there until the fall of 1982 when Bobby himself dragged it out to the curb and left it with the weekly garbage.


I hope you liked it. You can get more of my short stories in the collection Mister Bob…

iTunes | Smashwords | Amazon | NOOK | KOBO

The middle of February

02-13-2017 by Dell

Good morning! It is crazy here in little Canada. We have had nothing but snow for the weekend, followed this morning by plows filling in driveways, followed by massive shoveling, followed by more snow and no doubt more plows. I wonder… How many times do those poor plow drivers get flipped off? And, how smart is that? I mean, if I were a plow driver and you flipped me off I think I am going to remember that and the next pass I might just, accidently of course, smash the hell out of your mailbox, So, I’m not going to do it anymore and I am deeply apologetic mister plowman, honest, you can’t see it, but I am reeling in the offending flip-off finger and putting it away. It was a momentary indiscretion bought on by fatigue and too many cups of coffee. Sorry.

So, today… Well today is a beautiful day despite the weather and I am glad to be here with you all. I have made it through the Earth’s Survivors book Watertown, cleaning up small errors in the old text and updating the manuscript and re-publishing at all outlets. That has kept me very busy, but only World Order remains and then I will be back on track. As I do the work I am also publishing the paperback version with Amazon’s new paperback service for authors.

It is pretty easy to use for you authors that don’t have much experience with paperback publishing, and for the old pros it is a cakewalk, easier than anything out there. A few things first to be ready. Format your book in a popular size. The most popular online size is 6×9. That means the .doc file should be set at 6×9. Next make sure you have a copy of your front cover in a high resolution (4800×7200) and DPI (At least 300) or you can completely design a cover from scratch during the process if you are doing a new book or thee is no need to keep continuity between the eBook and Paperback. That is all you will need. It will take the rest of the information from your eBook. You might want to plan something for your back cover though. I used an author image and then a series plurb and a small sample from the book.

What I have done so far.

Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse #PaperbackBooks #books #Read End of the world fiction from Dell Sweet

https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Apocalypse-Dell-Sweet/dp/1520284357

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Earth’s Survivors Rising from the ashes #PaperBacks #Books End of the world fiction from Dell Sweet…

https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Rising-Ashes-Sweet/dp/152050974X

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Earth’s Survivors Nation #PaperBacks #Books End of the world fiction from Dell Sweet…

https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Nation-Dell-Sweet/dp/152051655X

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Earth’s Survivors Home in the Valley #books #PaperbackBooks End of the world fiction from the mind of Dell Sweet…

https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Home-Valley-Sweet/dp/1520528957

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Earth’s Survivors Plague #Paperback #Books #ReadAbook End of the world fiction from the mind of author Dell Sweet

https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Plague-Dell-Sweet/dp/152054832X

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Earth’s Survivors Knock #PaperBack #Books End of the world fiction from Author Dell Sweet #Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Earths-Survivors-Knock-Dell-Sweet/dp/1520434421

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Earth’s Survivors Watertown #Paperback #PAW End of the world fiction from author Dell Sweet #Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/152057116X

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World Order is next, most likely sometime this week. If you looked at the links you saw two things immediately. First how easy it was to create good looking books that fans can get with just a few clicks, and second how the paperback also links to the eBook and vice-versa. For people that want to hold a book in their hands instead of a phone, tablet, eReader it is a good solution and proves that the printed word is not dead if Amazon is investing money in it.

What else for today? Well, how about a short story? This is a western. I would love to write a full length western, but I am not the guy that can sell that concept, it would have to be some other writer with a publisher behind them. Or maybe that is all bull and I am too afraid to take that step out of my comfort zone. In any case, here is a western short story and I hope you like it…

BORDERLINE

Collected Short Stories

BORDERLINE: Collected Short Stories is Copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet

Additional copyrights © 2010, 2015 by Dell Sweet

All rights reserved, both foreign and domestic.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

A DRESS FOR JANEY

I rode slowly watching the trail side. There wasn’t much to see in the moonlight, but enough to follow if you knew where to look, and I did.

The thing was, this fella was not no kind of careful anyways. And he was not no horse man neither.

I rubbed my geldings rump, patted a time, and silently promised him a little extra rest time once we caught up to this fool sometime later in the night.

Mister Johnson was a good horse. More used to plow than saddle, but circumstances dictate those positions more’n I do. And this man I was trackin’ had dictated tonight’s circumstances clear and straight.

I turned Mister Johnson down a short chute of a canyon, keeping him to the side so as not to mark the trail, and to keep his iron shoes from ringing out on the stone. We come to a little stream that cut the canyon and I stopped, rolled myself a smoke. I sat, hand cupped and smoked. Listening to the surrounding night.

If this was a smart fella, no way would I have lit no smoke. But this was no smart man at all. This, from what I could see, was a desperate man. Desperate or dumb. Or, possibly, both. I’d know for sure before dawn.

I finished the smoke, flipped it into the crik and went on my way again, following the trail of my own other horse, Mizz Johnson.

I had, had her as long as I had, had Mister Johnson. Truth be told I thought Mister Johnson might be even more pissed off about the situation that I was. He just didn’t know how to use a rope, if so I’m sure he’d a been out for a hangin’ too.

I worked my way sideways down a gully, leaving the actual trail behind me where it out and did a loop back onto itself. The direction was clear enough, and he was far enough ahead that I wouldn’t come up on him, and the shortcut would save me time considerable.

I had me a farm, a good woman and two boys old enough to help a little already. A girl child who made me feel like crying ever time I looked at her. I don’t figure how that is: That a girl child can do that, ‘cept I can see she will have to live her life, and it’s a hard one, and I wisht better than what I got to give her.

Men is men. The boys will grow up rough and tumble. That’s boys. That’s boys comin’ to be a man. But a girl child, seems to me, looks out at the world all pretty and hope, and then the world sort of breaks her down. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.

I’d seen that truth in the eyes of a whore down in Dodge several years back. A young pretty whore, but resigned to be a whore. I’d paid my dollar and stayed for a little conversation as it was a slow night. I don’t never want to see that look in my Melissa’s eyes. But I can’t see that my Janey would ever let her go down that path. We learn from our mistakes, we do: If we don’t we don’t last long in this world.

I made the trail and walked Mister Johnson on the up-slope at a steady pace. He didn’t need much help or pointin’: I figured he could smell ol’ Mizz Johnson at that point, and he was, as I said, a might upset himself.

I was two days out from home. Me out from home meant that Janey had to do it all with no help from no man. Plow what she could with that goddamn, son-of-a-bitch mule we had. Be lucky if it didn’t kick her bad is what I’d be.

This life don’t slow down for no horse thief. The kids got to be fed. The chicks fed too. The cows milked. The other things a woman’s got to do. Cook, and clean, what all. But she’s got to do all the things a man’s got to do as well. All piled in there. No break at all. That was this life out here, how it had to be. How it was.

I caught the smell of fire and meat roastin’ on the air. Fresh, green wood. Not much of a woodsman either, I opinioned. But, considering the horsemanship, the theft itself and all of the rest of it, I’d say I was not too surprised. I stopped, rolled another smoke, kept it cupped to hide the flame, didn’t worry about the odor even though I was close now. The wind was at me after all, and his own, smokey fire would hide all other smells if the wind did shift. Chances were he had no idea of smells on the wind anyways.

I let my eyes travel the sky, lookin’ and I spotted a few stray sparks as they rose into the night sky not far away. All kinds of dumb. But I bet he considered himself some sort of woodsman just because he could light that fire.

Some figure if they can build a fire they’s a woodsman. I laugh at that. I have slept in snow banks and stayed warm. I tracked snowshoes in dead winter and got them. I have been lived in the wild with just a knife for two months while I was working out of the back country and my first horse dropped a leg in a chuck-hole and I had to shoot him.

I was green then. Used up one of my last four bullets on the horse, when I could’a used the knife and saved that bullet. Packed some out with me, dried over the fire, and et better those two months. I was young, dumb and life to come. And for me I was goddamn lucky to have lived through it that time. But, as I done said the one time, you learn or you die. Life, it don’t forgive a lot out here.

I finished the smoke, crushed it out between my thumb and forefinger, then angled Mister Johnson down toward the fire I’d seen. I could be, maybe, cocky and ride right up on him, but I don’t like to misjudge. I tied Mister Johnson to a tree to keep him out of it in case there was gun-play, which I intended there might be. I’d just have to hope there were none that got Mister Johnson. But he’d fare better hidden away. A man will always try in shoot a man’s horse at first sight if he can.

I walked the last hundred or so yards into his camp. My old sprung boots was so mushy and soft they was like walkin’ in Indian mocs anyhow. He never heard me comin’.

He had a chuck spitted over the fire, and probably ever cat, wolf, bear and wild dog for two miles around was sniffing on the air. He was stupid alright. I’d seen some green eyes, and two sets of red eyes as I had made my way into his camp.

He sat before the fire. A fat man: I’d knowed that from the depth of the hoof print though. And a stupid man just as I had guessed, as he had allowed me to walk right up to him, too busy tryin’ to twist the cap off’n a store bought bottle of whiskey he’d got from somewhere.

I decided on the spot to save the bullet: Put my gun away and pulled the rope that I had bought with me free from my shoulder. If a man ever works with cattle, branding, he don’t forget how to rope. And, as a younger man, I done my share of that. I had him in on one toss, and cinched it tight as I walked up on him face to face like.

“Hey,” he says, but me, I go about my business. I got me a limb picked out. We wrestle a little while I drag him to the limb, shift that rope quick like to his neck, and haul him up. He don’t say nothin’ after ‘Hey’, he tries to though.

Folks think hanging a man is easy. And, it can at times be easy, but this wasn’t no easy time: This was one a them hard times. A fat man, a thick neck, and me being plain tired out. He kicked and thrashed for all of ten minutes before he slowed. Me hanging on the end of that rope to keep him stretched, but I could not get him to swinging. And then, me being tired as I was, I looped that rope around Mizz Johnson’s saddle horn, the dumb bastard didn’t know enough to take a saddle off’n a horse, and walked her a bit to get him swinging free. Goddamn if he didn’t kick some more at that. I waited ten more minutes, ticked ’em off on my Elgin. I seen men come back if they neck ain’t broke, and I was sure it was not.

I let him down after that time, rope don’t come cheap to me, and left him laying there for the coyotes, wolves, bear and cats the damn fool had called down. Fat man might not be their favorite, but when times is tough it will do I’d bet.

I gathered up Mizz Johnson, went back and got Mister Johnson. They was happy to see each other. Blowing and touching noses to necks.

The fat man had two pair a saddle bags. The first had a food store, no surprise there, except why he’d been about to eat chuck when he had bacon. The second was a surprise: Gold, and not a little. I will tell you it was enough to sit me right down there by the fire to look it over.

I can count, but there’s a limit. What I knowed, I did, and then I had reached the limit and there was a long ways to go yet. A very long ways. And the trouble was I did not know for absolute what each piece was worth. Coin, stamped, but I could not read none. I could only say there was five times of counting to one hundred and a way to go after that.

Janey could read and write too. And she could cypher figures a sight farther than I could when it come to that. Whoring had taught her that. No whore could afford to get cheated.

I looked at it there in the moonlight for a piece, then put it all back in the saddlebags except a few pieces I kept for my pocket. Janey could count it; whatever it was we were a huge sight better off than we had been. It almost made me want to thank the fat man. I didn’t though. He stole my horse and he got what a horse thief is supposed to get.

I tied Mizz Johnson to the saddle horn of old Mister Johnson’s saddle by a longish lead and we rode out of there. I did put that fire out before we left. I left the chuck where it was, dug me out a piece of jerky my own Janey had made. I chewed thoughtful, thinking about the money as I rode. I was gonna stop at Abilene, which was on the way, and buy Janey a dress. She’d always had such pretty dresses when I’d met her, but times being as they was there weren’t no money for pretty dresses.

I smiled to myself thinkin’ about Janey’s eyes when she saw a new dress or two and then a saddlebag full a gold pieces. It made me feel good inside. I looked up at the moon, sent a prayer to God above up there somewhere, turned Mister Johnson for the next ridge and headed towards Abilene.

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Take a longer look at Borderline: Short Stories in all Genres… 

Oh Canada

01-11-2017 Dell

Well it is hump day already. This year is already eleven days old, only 347 shopping days til Christmas, if you live in Canada only 348 days until Boxing Day, so you’ll want to get right on that.

I have been getting right on nothing. This new year has been eaten alive with appointments and visits and work. Work? Yes, work. That stuff that piles up while you are screwing around doing other things. I did manage to get some writing done late yesterday afternoon, but that was it. This morning I was up early and out the door and only now have come back in time to write  this blog and post it. So my morning work should be done by afternoon and my afternoon work done by early evening. Life.

Today it is 40 outside. Two days ago we were into the minus column, tomorrow the weather person says low 70’s. That isn’t a misprint. We went through freezing rain and sleet then just rain and icy roads last night to wet roads and everything thawing and melting this morning. Flooding all over the place of course because we just had three feet of snow the other day. On my morning outing I saw that the river is very high. I suppose that will be great this summer when New York City needs our water that is being held up in the mountains in the reservoirs. The last few years we have had below normal snow fall and the reservoirs were far below capacity. If the water all goes to the city then the farmers here have a problem keeping the crops watered.

Living up north here is much different than living down toward the city. There are rules for living here. For instance you may not know it but we are part of the Northern United States Defense Strategy. We have perimeters set up to make sure the Canadians don’t get across the border. For the most part it works out okay. I’m not really sure what the Canadians would do if they over ran our country. For sure they would start showing movies on TV uncensored. I know that because they do right now and of course since we are just across the border we can pick them up.

I don’t think Canadians use snow tires either. I mean they grew up in the deep freeze and so they make due with summer tires. So I suppose that would change. Plus I think French would be introduced in high school.

Oh, I’m told French already is taught in High School. See? They are sneaking up on us.

They are not controlled by Briton any longer so we don’t have to worry about a Queen or something showing up, and the French no longer have a claim, so that is good. However they do play hockey, so there is that. I suspect that once the Canadians take over Hockey will replace Baseball as the favorite American past time. And bonus, no more presidents, which means no more elections, Russian tampering and bitching for months about who is the real winner.

I expect we’ll hear a lot more Alanis Morrissette and Celine Dion, Shania Twain and unfortunately, yes, Justin Bieber. Jeeze, maybe we can get the last one vetoed? Do Canadians do vetoes?  We better hope so.

So, we are in for some changes once those Canadians come pouring across the border, so get ready. Of course we could maybe ask our president to build a wall to keep out the Canadians too? I mean what the hell, he’s already going to build one, why not two?

This morning I am going to leave you with a short story to thank you for stopping by. It has been a while since I have shared one.

I would like to remind you that I live a stones throw from Canada and they are good neighbors and make really good singers and gardeners, and I mean them no harm. None, although videos of Justin Bieber do make me laugh in many cases, but I have Alanis Morrissette on my play list and so I think that probably offsets that.

This story, The Last Ride is a true story. I have had people wonder if it is, well it is. I drove Taxi in the city for a few years. I could fill a few books with all the things that happened to me on those late night shifts. Someday, maybe I will.

I wrote this story out for a few reasons. One to show that like any man I can and have made mistakes. I think some times writers and reader Romanticize a writer or story so much that it becomes unrealistic. This story is not treated that way. No apologies are offered for what it portrays in me. I think the world would be a better place if we all were a little more honest at least to ourselves.

The other major reason are the two women central to the story. I have never been able to get either out of my mind, Dell…

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THE LAST RIDE

It was early in my shift. I owned my own taxi so I could pretty much pick which 12 hour shift I wanted to drive. I was young, just married, and so I drove nights so that I could be home with my son during the day while my wife worked. I’d told myself for most of the last year that I should stop driving taxi, settle down to a real job and be more responsible. And then a contract to haul train crews came along followed by the opportunity to work with another driver who handled the airport contract, and suddenly I was making more money than I could have reasonably expected from what I would have considered a straight job.

The hours were long, but there was something that attracted me to the night work. Always had been. Like my internal clock was Set to PM. It just seemed to work, and after a few failed attempts to work day shift work, I gave it up and went to work fulltime nights.

I never regretted it, and I was never bored. The nights kept me awake and interested. They supplied their own entertainment. Train crews, regulars that called only for me, the assorted funny drunks late at night when the bars were closing. Soldiers on their way back to the nearby base, and a dancer at a small club just off downtown that had been calling for me personally for the last few weeks. Using my cab as a dressing room on the way back to her hotel. It was always something different.

Days, the few times I’d driven days, couldn’t compare. Sure, there was violence at night too, but it rarely came my way and never turned into a big deal when it did.

It was Friday night, one of my big money nights, about 7:00 P.M. and my favorite dispatcher, Leo, had just come on. He sent me on a call out State street that would terminate downtown. Once I was downtown, I could easily pick up a GI heading back to the base for a nice fat fare and usually a pretty good tip. My mind was on that. My mind was also on that dancer who would be calling sometime after two AM, and who had made it clear that I was more than welcome to come up to her room. It was tempting, I’ll admit it, and each time she called she tempted me more. I figured it was just a matter of time before I went with her.

I really didn’t see the woman who climbed into my car, but when it took her three times to get out the name of the bar downtown that she wanted to go to, I paid attention. Drunk. It was early too. Sometimes drunks were okay, but most times they weren’t. This one kept slumping over, slurring her words, nearly dropping her cigarette. I owed the bank a pile of money on the car and I didn’t need burn holes in my back seat.

I dropped the flag on the meter, pulled away from the curbing and eased into traffic. Traffic was heavy at that time and I pissed off more than a few other drivers as I forced my way into the traffic flow.

I had just settled into the drive when a glance into the rear view mirror told me my passenger had fallen over. I couldn’t see the cigarette, but I could still smell it. I made the same drivers even angrier as I swept out of the traffic flow and angled up onto the sidewalk at the edge of the street. I got as far out of the traffic flow as I could get so I could get out to see what was up with the woman in the back seat.

I was thinking drunk at the time, but the thought that it could be something more serious crept into my head as I made the curb, bumped over it, set my four way flashers and climbed out and went around to the back door.

She was slumped over into the wheel well, the cigarette smoldering next to her pooled, black hair. In her hair, I realized as the smell of burning hair came to me. I snatched up the cigarette and threw it out onto the sidewalk, and then I shook her shoulder to try to bring her around. But it was obvious to me, just that fast, that the whole situation had changed. She wasn’t breathing.

I reached in, caught her under the arms, and then suddenly someone else was there with me.

He was a short, thin man wearing a worried look upon his face. Dark eyes sat deeply in their sockets. His hair hung limply across his forehead. He squeezed past me and looked down at the woman. He pushed her eyelids up quickly, one by one, and then held his fingers to her lips. He frowned deeply and flipped the hair away from his forehead.

“Paramedic,” he told me as he took her other arm and helped me pull her from the back seat.

We laid her out on the sloping front lawn of the insurance company I had stopped in front of, and he put his head to her chest.

He lifted his head, shaking it as he did. “Call an ambulance,” he said tersely.

I could feel the shift in his demeanor. He wasn’t letting me know he could handle the situation, like when he told me he was a paramedic, he was handling it. I got on the radio and made the call through dispatch.

The ambulance got there pretty fast. I stood back out of the way and let them work on her, raising my eyes to the backed up traffic on occasion. Most of the people in those cars had their heads half twisted out of their windows trying to see what was going on, on the sidewalk. The paramedic had torn open her shirt. Her nudity seemed so out of place on the city sidewalk. Watching the traffic took the unreal quality of it away from me. A few minutes later I watched the ambulance pull away, eased my cab down off the curb, back into the sluggish traffic, and headed back to work.

I got the story on her about midnight once things slowed down, and I had stopped into the cab stand to talk to the dispatcher for a short while. His daughter knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone at the hospital. The woman had taken an overdose. Some kind of pills. It was going to be touch and go. He also had a friend in the police department too. She did it because of a boyfriend who had cheated on her. It seemed so out of proportion to me. I went back to work, but I asked him to let me know when and if he heard more.

2:30 AM:

The night had passed me by. The business of the evening hours catching me up for a time, and taking me away from the earlier events. I was sitting downtown in my cab watching the traffic roll by me. It was a beautifully warm early morning for Northern New York. I had my window down letting the smell of the city soak into me, when I got the call to pick up my dancer with the club gig.

“And, Joe,” Leo told me over the static filled radio, “your lady friend didn’t make it.”

It was just a few blocks to the club. I left the window down enjoying the feeling of the air flowing past my face. The radio played Steely Dan’s Do It Again and I kind of half heard it as I checked out the back seat to see if the ghost of the woman earlier might suddenly pop up there.

The dancer got in and smiled at me. I smiled back, but I was thinking about the other woman, the woman who was now dead, sitting in that same place a few hours before. The dancer began to change clothes as I drove to her hotel.

“You know,” she said, catching my eyes in the mirror. “I should charge you a cover. You’re seeing more than those GI’S in the club.” She shifted slightly, her breasts rising and falling in the rear view mirror. We both laughed. It was a game that was not a game. She said it to me every time. But my laugh was hollow. Despite her beauty I was still hung up on someone being alive in my back seat just a few hours before and dead now. Probably being wheeled down to the morgue were my friend Pete worked. I made myself look away and concentrate on the driving. She finished dressing as I stopped at her hotel’s front entrance.

“You could come up… If you wanted to,” she said. She said it lightly, but her eyes held serious promise.

“I’d like to… But I better not,” I said.

She smiled, but I could tell I had hurt her feelings. It was a real offer, but I couldn’t really explain how I felt. Why I couldn’t. Not just because I was married, that was already troubled, but because of something that had happened earlier.

I drove slowly away after she got out of the cab, and wound up back downtown for the next few hours sitting in an abandoned buildings parking lot thinking… “I was only concerned about her cigarette burning the seats.”

I smoked while I sat, dropping my own cigarettes out the window and onto the pavement. A short while later Leo called me with a train crew trip. I started the cab and drove out to the train yard to pick up my crew. The dancer never called me again.

……………………………………………

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the free reading and I hope to see you back here Friday, Dell…

The true series is available only from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/17619

Blackness of the soul, Billy Jingo and a little yackity

 

Posted by Dell 12-27-2016

I spent today working on finishing up the links for the website change. At the beginning of the month Geo changed all the books over, so Amazon has it books back again.

Earth’s Survivors Nations Books:

One: Apocalypse

Two: Rising From The Ashes

Three: The Nation

I know that it took a lot of work to get those books back in that format. So I hope it works out well. He intends to support that series.

What else? Well spring has sprung here. We were supposed to get an ice storm here in northern New York. It’s almost January and we’ve been in the deep freeze, but today it was so beautiful out  that I thought possibly someone screwed up, drugged me in my sleep, and transported me to somewhere warm. It was disheartening to find I was still here in New York but it was definitely heart lifting to feel warmth outside. I guess God turned the heat back on. Okay, he’s a good landlord after all. Forget all those bad things I said. I took the afternoon and threw together an acoustic guitar I could kick around with. I am also working on a bigger project that still has a way to go before it wraps up.

We have talked about books and besides finishing Hurricane the writing schedule is open.

I live less that two hundred miles from most of the people I know. I have one friend that lives quite a bit further, the middle of the country, and another that lives all the way on the opposite end of the continent. What amazes me this year is that even though some of us are so far apart we have all had a weird winter with all kinds of unusual weather. It’s strange to me that I can be talking to someone 1500 miles away and they are having the same weather I am having. That isn’t usually the case. It has been an odd winter and it has only officially been under way for a few days.

Here is a short look at Billy Jingo that I hope you enjoy…

BILLY JINGO

Copyright Dell Sweet 2010-1015

Original Material Copyright © 2010 – 2014 by Geo Dell

All rights reserved

PUBLISHED BY:

Geo Dell & independAntwriters. March 2014.

This preview 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. 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 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. All rights are retained by the Author.

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

Cover and Interior Art Copyright 2013 Dell Sweet

……………………………………….

BLACKNESS OF THE SOUL

ONE:

Paul Brown settled the barrel of the nine Millimeter pistol against his left palm, curled his hand around it as if to hold it forever, and then released it finger by finger. A sob escaped his throat and a fat tear drop rolled down his left cheek and splashed against the butt of the pistols grip where the clip protruded slightly. He took his free hand, wiped the tear away and then reached for the beer that sat beside him.

He raised the can to his mouth, drank deeply, and then continued to stare at the black pistol that rested in his right hand. Once again his left hand closed around the barrel, but lightly: Stroking it.; caressing it. He fished a cigarette from the pack beside him on the floor, thumbed the wheel of his old Zippo and pulled the harsh tobacco smoke into his lungs.

The smoke, or the beer, or both seemed to calm him, at least momentarily. His chest hitched but he stifled the sob this time. The sobs frightened him more than the gun. The sobs came on their own and there seemed to be no way to fight or stop them. They were a life unto themselves. The gun on the other hand only had to speak once. And technically he would never hear it.

“Probably never hear it,” he whispered into the semi darkness of the living room. He had pulled the curtains on the outside world. Blocked it away from him.

Probably never hear it. He wondered about the truth of that statement for what seemed to be an excessive amount of time to him, caught himself, and took another deep drink of the cold beer followed by a near frenzied pull from the cigarette. He waited on the sob, but it came when he didn’t expect it. A flood of tears came with it, falling from his eyes, staining his reddened cheeks before he could think to try and stop it.

“Oh, God,” he moaned. He sucked in a deep breath, lifted the pistol to his mouth and bumped the barrel across his teeth and into his mouth.

Everything seemed to freeze. The taste of oiled metal flooded his mouth He gagged, and then nearly squeezed the trigger too hard because of it. Panicked, he ripped the gun from his mouth tearing open his upper lip on the gun site as he did.

He was breathing hard. He needed to calm down. The tears just continued to fall. His cheeks felt raw: His eyes full of sand. His head began to pound harder. It had begun to pound earlier. He thought about that too. No more headaches. None. No more worries. No more anything at all. He sighed and returned the gun to his lips. He could taste the oil and metal once more, mixed with the blood from the torn lip.

His lips did not seem to want to part. He eased the gun away, took a deep drag off the cigarette, his breath shuddered in and out. He tipped the can and took a deep drink to rinse his mouth of the tastes that had made him gag, then upended the can and drained it. He reached over and pulled another beer from the bag on the carpeted floor, took another deep drink to rinse the tastes from his mouth and then lit a new cigarette from the butt of the old one. He dropped the old butt into the freshly emptied can beside him. He pulled the smoke deeply into his lungs and then let it drift from his nose as he slowly exhaled, trying to calm himself. If he could only think this out, his mind jabbered. He took another deep drink from the can.

In a way it would be nice to sit down and think this through, but in another way he didn’t care if he ever had another thought in his life. He didn’t want to take the time to think it out at all. He had made up his mind earlier. In a few minutes, when he finished the cigarette and the beer he’d do it, he decided.

He didn’t want to die with a lit cigarette in his mouth and burn down the house. Anne had to live here… Well, maybe not, but even so she’d have to sell it or something… If she didn’t lose it…

He pulled hard on the cigarette as if rushing it to its end so he could rush his own end. He took a deep drink from the beer and felt the headache ease back a little.

He could feel the buzz from the beer. Maybe it would knock down the headache after all. Either way the headache was not long for this world, he decided.

Calm seemed to come over him all at once. The sob that he had been waiting for didn’t come. His chest didn’t hitch. His cheeks still felt irritated, his eyes full of sand, his mind weary and removed from him to a degree, but the hysteria he had been sure was going to grab him didn’t make another appearance.

Through the curtains he could see the late afternoon sunlight: Still gold in the sky. Heating up his part of the south. There was no noise except the steady rumble of the air conditioner. Whatever heat the sun held was lost on him today.

He pulled on the cigarette, noticed that it was all but dead and dropped it into the can with the last one. He upended the beer can and drained it. He waited, expecting the sobs to come back, but the calm remained. He sighed once, was surprised to find that the gun was only inches from his lips, opened his mouth and slid the barrel in. The hysteria stayed at bay. He adjusted the barrel so it would be more comfortable, sighed at the absurdity of that thought, and then squinted his eyes down as his finger tightened on the trigger.

TWO:

“How do you feel, Paul?”

Paul blinked and tried to look around him. He found that it was not entirely possible. He couldn’t really turn around to where the voice had come from no matter how he tried.

“It doesn’t matter though,” the same voice said.

And it didn’t. It became completely unimportant right then. Just like that.

“How do you feel?”

“I’m pretty upset. I…” He stopped. He had been pretty upset, but he wasn’t now. Now he felt… Well, at peace.

“That’s good, Paul. You should feel at peace.”

“It feels good,” he said. It seemed entirely normal that whoever was behind him could read his mind… Am I dead?

“I wanted to talk to you about how you got here, Paul.”

“How?”

“How.”

The time spun out.

“I stole about… I guess I don’t even know how much… I kept stealing and it kept adding up. And I knew they’d catch it… And they did… My boss must have called the cops,“ Paul said.

“Actually the company accountant… But I meant how you got here… To this point.”

“I… … I don’t know what you mean.”

“To kill yourself, Paul. I mean how did you get to this point where you decided to kill yourself… Take your own life… How did you reach that point, Paul?”

“Oh… I thought about it… I…” He stopped and thought about it. “I see… It’s just tough to understand… I don’t really know exactly… Are you God?”

“Do you think of me as God?”

Paul thought about it. “I think I do… I think so… I believe you are God.”

“Then I am.”

“You are? … Really? You really are God?”

“I really am, Paul…”

His voice was soft. Reassuring.

“I… I thought you would sound different… I… Am I dead?”

“No… Not yet… You have some little time left… I thought, since you asked, that before you do something that will change everything we should talk.”

Paul nodded. “I prayed… Earlier I prayed.”

“I know… You know, Paul, people sometimes think I don’t listen to prayer anymore… If I ever did. They tell themselves that and then they begin to believe it. I do listen though. I do. Every prayer. Every time. Do you believe that, Paul?”

“I do… I mean I do now. I do know that now. I’m ashamed to say that.”

“Don’t be. There is no shame here. You are used to saying words that really don’t mean anything true. They are there, you say them… In this case you say that you are ashamed when you are not ashamed.”

Paul examined himself. “You’re right… I don’t feel ashamed. I feel good still. At peace still.”

“So how did you get here. How did you come to be here? Who told you that suicide was a solution?”

“I… It was painful… My wife will leave me. We’ll lose everything… The kids… I can’t imagine what the kids will do… Feel… It seemed… It seemed right.”

“Did it?”

Paul thought about it. “Maybe not… It felt like the only choice I had.”

“Yet you called out to me. Why?”

“Because… Because I used to believe in you… I…”

He laughed. “And I am still here. Did you think I had died? Did you think I had stopped believing in you?”

“Some people think so… That you died.”

“You?”

“No… I guess the truth is I just stopped believing… I believed in other things… Taxes… Bills… Mortgage payments… Summer… Fall…”

“The things you see every day.”

“That’s a good way to put it.”

“I have a way with words.”

Paul laughed and then stopped. “I thought maybe that was a joke.”

”It was… Do you wish you had not stopped believing? Do you see how things could have been different?”

“I can see that now, but what good is it after the fact? I pulled the trigger… I remember that.”

“Did you? I think you asked me to help… Sometimes I help in unexpected ways… Thomas needed to see… To place his hand in my side… Peter needed to see me risen… Sometimes my people ask me for help and then don’t recognize the help when it comes.”

“Like now?”

“Like now, yes. It’s time to think. To breath… To make a decision… A different decision.”

“Then what?” Paul asked.

“Then? … What comes, comes… I know what it is to live. I have felt what you feel. Struggled with the same temptations. We take it as it comes to us, Paul.”

“So the problems would still be there?”

“Yes.”

“That’s help?” Paul asked.

“I will help you all that you will allow.”

Paul thought about it and realized it was true.

“So… How did you end up here?”

“I guess I just walked away… I guess I chose to do that.”

You still choose words that are untrue. Do you guess or do you know?”

“I know. I walked away.”

“You know, it’s a split second decision… Many times if you take the time to think you can get through whatever comes at you.”

Paul nodded, took a deep breath. “I see.”

THREE:

The finger stopped. He remembered something… Something… Summer. A thousand years ago it seemed… Anne… When they had first met… The picture in his mind was so perfect, so intense. So real, and a flood of images followed it… But… There had been something else there for a moment, hadn’t there? He had been focusing on the trigger… The pressure… And there had been something else there… Just for a moment… It seemed so. It seemed as though he had been ready to pull the trigger and… And someone…

He pulled the barrel from his mouth and sucked in a deep breath. Whatever it might have been it was gone now. The sobbing came back with the fresh air. The pistol slid from his hand and fell to the carpet with a soft clunk. He lowered his head into his hands and let the tears take over…

…………………………………………………

I hope you enjoyed the preview. You can get the book at the link below.

That’s it for me. I hope you have a great week. Geo will be here Sunday. Check out the new site when you get a chance. Dell…

Billy Jingo: Amazon USUK | iTunes | NOOK  | Smashwords

Billy Jingo: Publisher Smashwords. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/452624

Tuesday and writing

Tuesday 12-20-16

No way can it be this close to the closeout of 2016. No way, and yet unless I have slipped into a coma and I am in the hospital dreaming all of this while doctors keep me alive: Tubes snaking across the sheets and IV drips on tall stainless steel posts standing watch. Unless that is true, this is true, and the year has slipped away from me again.

A little dramatic, but that is why I am a writer. Sometimes I write something like that kidding around and then I come back to it later…

…………………………………………………

What if I was hit by a bus while crossing the street to get the cat where it lies beside the road, a little slower at crossing the road than I was. And while I am on my way I am not so fast as I think and I am hit by a city bus.

The bus is only there because the bus driver’s son was sick and he had to take him to the free clinic and in so doing it made him late for his shift, his first shift since his return from vacation and so he was assigned to maintenance for the day: Shuttling buses back and forth between the maintenance garage and the bus pool main staging area. And because he had had a rough night and a rougher flight home from his supposed vacation, picking up Danny from his sister only a few hours before, he has taken a little drink this morning… Not a lot… Just a little. Just enough to set his head right..

And as I am flying and tumbling through the air my eyes seek out and find the bus driver who is clutching the wheel, foot jammed onto the brake pedal, face a mask of panic, fighting the huge bus he is no match for at all.

As our eyes meet I know everything about him, everything. His son Danny, the reason he is here at all, or so he thinks. The wife who died of leukemia four years before when Danny, the son was just starting school. The sister Danny might have had if his mother hadn’t lost her, but most of what I see is about Roberto the driver. His eyes reflect shock as the front tires lock and the heavy bus begins to slide. He is tracking my body as it soars up and out in an arc, finally coming back down, almost gliding into the roadway once more: On my side, sliding through the dirty slush and snow built up in the center of the roadway and finally coming to a stop as I fight for a breath…

No breath… Nothing… No air to pull… Pain everywhere, and then the pain shuts down, overloads, I don’t know, I only know it is gone and the world seems to have slowed down… Time is now a curiosity… Of no importance… I look up and I see Roberto is there above me. Speaking, but I can not hear him. His voice and whatever it is he is saying is locked away from me. Even so I know that in his panic he has fallen back to Spanish which is his native tongue…

I can feel his breath upon my face a he shifts my body weight, stretching me out, laying me flat and beginning CPR. I smell the alcohol on his breath and I know he is going to be arrested… I can see it, almost like looking at the future. Prison… Danny is going to Foster Care… A series of rough places that should never have been meant for children in any case, but it will be okay… He finds a family… It will be okay… But Roberto…

Mexico… The day before… Roberto must be traveling back to the states, but he turns and looks back once more as he gets into the truck that will take him to the airport. He has delivered over eight million dollars in U. S. Currency hidden in a motor home he has parked in an RV park American tourists frequent. The Lot fee is paid for the season, no telling when the reasons for the money, a pay off, will resolve themselves, and he has yet to tell his employer where the RV is parked.

Pain slams back into my body as my heart stumbles and then finds its beat once more. I drift away from the real world and down into a curtain of gray. Away… I’m very tired… Nothing seems to matter…

……………………..

Hmm, now what? That is one of the things I do to write. I call it free form. I just jump on a thought and continue to follow it. That thought above is far from a conclusion, but I have followed it as far as I intend to today. I will probably come back because there is too much that I am questioning, and I want to know how things turn out.

I will leave you with links to the Earth’s Survivors series and bid you to stay in doors, it’s cold outside, but if you do venture out, perhaps to retrieve your cat from the side of the road, please look both ways before crossing that roadway…

……………………………………………………………

Earth’s Survivors

Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse

Series: Earth’s Survivors · Free eBooks. Price: Free! Words: 94,690. Language: English. Published: January 30, 2015 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General,Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic

(4.00)

Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. Small groups band together for safety, leaving the ravaged cities behind in search of a new future…
Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 80,570. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2013 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes continues to follow the survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The small groups are growing, branching out in search of a new future. It chronicles their day to day struggles as well as their dreams as they search out new hope in their shattered world…
Earth’s Survivors: The Nation

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 93,940. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2013 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
This part of the story really concentrates on the formation of The Nation and the people who will build it and carry it forward, but it also brings along the side story of The Fold and the people who will build that haven. It gives a more complete picture of Adam and Cammy, and picks up the Tale of Billy and Beth, Mike and Candace, Conner and Katie as they work to sort out their lives.
Earth’s Survivors: Home In The Valley

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 98,190. Language: English. Published: April 7, 2013 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Horror » General
Home in the valley concentrates on the building of the first and most important settlement of The Nation. The valley settlement is where the people that run the Nation will come from. They will rise to leadership positions across the former United States. The first supply trip out for the Nation nearly turns to disaster, and more of the separate parties join and become one under the Nation Flag.
Earth’s Survivors: Plague

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 108,600. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2015 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias,Fiction » Horror » Undead
Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead, chronicling the spread across the country. It follows Adam, Beth, Billy and Pearl as they head north looking for an antidote that can bring the plagues to end. It also sees the first babies born to the Nation, the formation of both the Fold and Alabama Island, and the loss of one of the founders of The Nation without whom the Nation may dissolve…
Earth’s Survivors: Watertown

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 102,860. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic,Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Major Weston read the report twice and then carefully set it back on his desk. Johns or Kohlson: One of the two had stolen samples of SS-V2765. It was not a question. No one else had the access, no one else the proximity or knowledge of where it was stored. Two of the virus, one each of the REX agents were missing. Enough to infect several million people, and that was just the initial infection…
Earth’s Survivors: World Order

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 181,980. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic,Fiction » Horror » Undead
This book steps back to the beginning to bring you the story of the Fold. Jessie Stone, why and how Snoqualmie settlement came to be. It begins in present day and then falls back in time to the beginning of the Apocalypse. The Fold becomes the biggest challenger to the Nations power. The community that can force the Nation into compromise, or bring a war that may destroy both societies.
Earth’s Survivors Box Set

Series: Earth’s Survivors. Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 745,740. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic,Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume. All seven books in one collection. Follow the survivors as they struggle to survive in a vastly changed world, where the living are just as likely to kill you as the dead are.  The release of this box set puts the series to an end. I have enjoyed writing it, I hope you have enjoyed reading it, Dell Sweet.

Snow Day

Posted by Dell 12-15-2016

Hey, we’re alive. About a foot of the white stuff fell. Schools, and business’s are closed and the roads are closed anyway, so there is no way to get anywhere.

This morning the sky is clear and the sun is shining, but this afternoon storm 2 is supposed to hit and dump up to 15 inches. If you own a cat this would be the time when you would curse the makers of weather and wish you had Alaskan sled dogs to get you down to the Dollar Store for that big pre-Christmas sale. But you don’t, and as my Bro David F. Sweet has pointed out, you will not get a cat to pull a sled. Not gonna happen. So, stay inside and play amusing games with your cat. Or your wife/girlfriend um…

Today is an assortment of humor and a free short story, Mister Bob, at the end. This is all stuff I have written and set aside. There is so much of this sort of stuff that sometimes I wonder how I get any work done at all. Please take it all with a grain of salt, or two, or three…

My Friend Bob.

My friend is stupid. He called me up and said…

“Listen, I’m really worried.”

“What’s wrong, Bob,” I asked? I was concerned. Must be serious for him to call me.

“Well, I’m concerned about this Trans vaginal mesh thing on the T.V.,” Bob says.

“Oh… Wife?”

“Huh?”

“Wife had the surgery?”

“You know, I never even thought of that,” Bob says.

“Oh… Mother… Sister?”

“Jesus, now I’m really worried… I was worried about me… That time I had the surgery for the hernia.”

“Um… Ok… So, you were worried what, that they used transvaginal mesh to repair it?”

“Oh, that’s bad,” Bob says. “I didn’t even think of that… But, no… When I went to see that shrink a few years back he told me I had to get in touch with my inner Vagina.”

I choked. I couldn’t help it. “He said that?”

“I think so… The thing is he was saying a lot of shit, I really wasn’t paying attention. Inner feminine side, vagina, something.”

“Okay… Well, is it possible he said inner child? And … Get in touch with your feminine side?”

“Maybe,” Bob allowed. “But, you know we are all female in the womb and that means we must have a vagina and that’s what’s got me worried.”

……………………………………………………..

Things on TV that I don’t want to see or hear:

“If you have an erection that lasts more than four hours contact a doctor”

“Less leakage with our pads.”

“Let’s talk about our Bums.”

“Hail to the V.”

Important things to consider:

Bears can not wipe their asses at all.

Beavers are really an animal with buck teeth they can cut down trees with. How does that equal a vagina? Oh… never mind.

Groundhogs are really just rodents so you don’t have to listen to anything that they say. Such as, I don’t know, predictions from that fat bastard groundhog in Pennsylvania.

Boogers, there was a time as a child when you considered this food.

Assholes, what if everyone that was an asshole had to look like one? I know, right?

Hamburgers have no ham in them. Is that a lawsuit or what?

Politicians, what if everyone that was an asshole had to look like one? I know, right?

Loose ends

Riddle me this the big Dummy asked: What wind speed would it take to knock a 270 pound Idiot-Man flat on his butt on an icy driveway, while shoveling, in the middle of a blizzard?

You may ask, “Well, what was the idiot doing out there shoveling if it was a blizzard?” But that is self explanatory, he’s an idiot.

You may say, “Shouldn’t he have a Prozac and watch the snow pile up from somewhere safely inside?” But that should also be self explanatory.

Give up? Well, um, apparently all it takes is 16 mph winds from the West. I checked with the weather service after I got up. And, although you didn’t ask, I’m fine. Just fine, and, bonus, I apparently provided a smashing show for the guy driving by in the green truck. Happy to be of service, guy in the green truck…

Tough guy lines

“Hey… Hey, let me have your fucking attention for a moment if I might. Why don’t we do this. Let’s just shut the fuck up and accept what I’m gonna do or else I’ll put a fucking bullet right in your fucking eye… Okay? Are we cool with that?”

“Okay… Okay… I see. You are objecting to the way I’m handling this problem… I got that right, right? You don’t think I’m being fair? Okay. Well then, obviously I gotta make a change. Fair is fair. So, why don’t we compromise and do it this way. You’ll have your say and then I’ll do what I was gonna do anyway and you’ll shut the fuck up and quit jabbering about it. That way I don’t gotta shoot you in the fuckin’ knee… Now who says I can’t compromise?”

Things a dolphin might say if a dolphin could talk

1: Please don’t eat me.

2: So, you a fisherman?

3: I hear the Snapper is good.

4: Well, you could take me home… Keep me in one of those little bowls…

Things a dolphin might say if you get them drinking.

1: “So, me and my buddy were over by the coral reef when this huge frickin’ shark cruises in like he owns the place. Well, I says to my friend, let’s just see about that. So…”

2: So, she says to me. “You come here often?” Often, I says. Often? It’s the freakin’ ocean! Whad’ya’mean often!

3: Well I used to be a Loan Shark.

4: Sushi… I mean Susie… Ow! Stop it! Why are you eating me!

Microsoft Backup in the old days

Waiting for a backup is like watching paint dry… Nope, the paint is dry and the damn backup is still ongoing. I suppose, as a writer, that I should feel fortunate that I have so much stuff to back up, once upon a time I only had those first few words too. It has said … ‘About Four Minutes Remaining’ … for like twenty minutes now. Oh, what a surprise, I wrote that, went back and checked, and it still says … ‘About four minutes remaining’ … Figures. I do not believe that Microsoft Windows Backup can count. See, I wrote that too and it still says it!!!! ARRRGGGG. Lol. The Backup dilemma, do I have five hours to waste today to do a backup?

Scenes of Elvis I have cut out of books I wrote…

In a rusty old trailer, in the Palmview Park trailer court, in Miami Florida, a dark haired heavyset man sat at his kitchen table.

The power had been off for days, and the cheap, plastic cassette player’s batteries had finally run-down. He had tried to be careful, had tried to only play it occasionally, but they had run-down despite his efforts.

He no longer wore the white leather outfit. He had hardly ever worn it anyway, only occasionally, only when he needed to, when he wanted to remember.

He had put it away two days ago, and he had no intention of ever wearing it again. It hung in the musty closet in his bedroom at the rear of the trailer, and as far as he was concerned it could hang there forever.

He removed the dark sun glasses and rubbed his tired eyes, started to put them back on, and then decided against it. They too had to go. Old stuff. Stuff that wasn’t important any longer, he knew. He ran his fingers through his thick hair, as he carefully set the glasses aside. He had thought of cutting it. Like maybe he should cut it, but he hadn’t been able to do it. In fact, he didn’t want to do it, so he had left it, along with the long graying sideburns. He liked them, they suited him, and he couldn’t let them go. He supposed they looked silly, even made him look older, but he didn’t care. And besides, he thought, he was old. The hair made him feel young, the hair made him remember, and if only for that reason, he wanted to keep it.

He sighed as he stood up from the table, glancing once more at the cheap, plastic cassette player. It was time to go, time to leave, and although he didn’t want to go, although he really wanted nothing at all to do with people again, he knew that he had to go.

He had known, just known, when the batteries had finally died, that Florida was about to die too. He had to leave, unless he wanted to die right along with it. He levered the old door open for the last time, and stepped out into the warm morning air.

He took one last look at the rusted and faded trailer, and then set off through the park.

He walked slowly, looking around at the run-down park for the last time as he did, and headed for the marina that was just down the road. He hoped to find a boat of some sort, and leave.

And… Go where? He asked himself.

He pushed the thought away. It didn’t matter where he went, only that he went…

From a later book

Aaron walked slowly out of the bedroom and into the kitchen area. The music had cut off, and suddenly too. And for just a second there. For just one small second there, he had felt as though the last ten years had slipped away, had been made unreal somehow, and he was back in the run-down trailer in good old Palmview trailer court, in Florida. Which was ridiculous, had to be ridiculous, and even he knew that it was ridiculous, but it had felt that way.

It had, thank God, nothing to do with that though. It was ten years later, he wasn’t in Florida, and everything was… Well, regular. The damn breaker had flipped again.

Ira, had helped set it up, and most of the time it worked just fine, but sometimes, like this time, it didn’t.

Sometimes when the sun slipped behind a cloud the thing just shut down. And the reason was clear. The electricity was solar, and they had hooked in a battery back-up, but the back-up was shot, kaput, done, finished, the damn thing couldn’t hold a charge more than fifteen minutes on a good day, and the last several day’s had been far from good days. Barely any sunlight six days running and it didn’t look as though there would be any real quick.

No big deal, he thought, as he switched off the main breaker, and then reset the one that had tripped. It wasn’t like there were factories just pumping out batteries any longer.

He had come a long way since his days as the king of rock and roll. And he really had been the king for a while there, even after he died, after he was supposed to be dead, he had still been the king: Still on top, and no one had come along to knock him out of that top spot either.

The Star Reporter had still been doing articles about him ten years ago. ELVIS LIVING AS A VEGETABLE IN BRAZIL, was his favorite.

Really? Please, give it a rest. How much, he wondered now, did they have to pay those people to say those things? Probably, he concluded, as he always did, with a dry chuckle, absolutely nothing. They were glad to say it, needed to say it even, and would say it regardless of whether they were paid or not.

Wouldn’t they be surprised to know that he had really spent those years since he was supposed to have died flipping burgers in a run-down diner on the outskirts of Miami?

No, he decided, that would be too boring to print. They would have never gone for that.

Aaron chuckled once more, and walked back into the bedroom. Ira had stopped by just a few hours before, and invited him over to dinner, no time to think about Slander Sheets now, time only to get ready, and not just for dinner with Cora and Ira. After all, there was some serious business ahead. Very serious, and Ira might not know it yet, but Aaron did, he knew it for a fact. And he also knew, had a feeling really, that this time… This time the king might really die. He might really die, and…

He chuckled once more, an uneasy chuckle, and again began to trim the bushy sideburns that had been one of his trade marks so long ago. It made no difference. Not to him, and most surely it wouldn’t make any to Ira. If it was time, it was time. Life hadn’t been so bad, and the least the last ten years hadn’t, not at all. In fact the last ten years of not being the king, of not living in the shadow of being the king, of not reading all that garbage every day, those years had made all the other years more than worthwhile. If he died so be it, Mamma would be there, and Aron would be there, and he had spoken to Ira about death, so he was no longer afraid of it. It was a known thing now, an understood thing, and if he had to go he would.

The sound of a motor came to him from outside, slightly loud. The exhaust, he knew, was going on Ira’s old truck. It was too dark in here to see all that well anyway without the light. He set down the scissors, and left the bedroom just as a short and feeble-sounding toot came from the truck outside. He could use a new horn too, Aaron thought, as he opened the front door, and walked to the truck.

A word from turtles

Thousands of turtles are run over each day, while doing nothing more than trying to reach their homes across the busy interstate. This wholesale slaughter can be averted. We are currently working to provide turtle overpasses on many of the nation’s busiest highways. Won’t you give to help this worthy project? Just ten cents a day could save the lives of these poor unfortunate turtles who are being run down and left for dead as you read this.

For ten cents a day you can give a turtle a safe alternative to reach his home. Won’t you consider it now?

……………………………..

Okay. Hope you found some of that humorous. I am going to leave you with a short story.  That’s it for me today, Geo.

……………………………..

MISTER BOB

Mister Bob is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet and his asignees

Additional Copyrights © 2010 by Wendell Sweet All rights reserved

Cover Art © Copyright 2015 Wendell Sweet

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 are 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 © 2015 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing construct used by Wendell Sweet. Portions of this text are copyright 2010, and 2011, all rights reserved by Wendell Sweet and his assignees. 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 or assignees permission.

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

_____________________________________________

MISTER BOB

The Middle of the night: Lisa

She awoke suddenly in the darkness of the bedroom. Panic rode tightly in her throat, but nothing in the silence told her anything she needed to know.

The clock read 2:38 AM, green numerals lighting the bedroom in eerie, fairy half light. Spooky light, she decided. It was adding to her sense of something wrong. Would red be better, she wondered. She would pick up a new clock… Make sure it had red numerals.

Don slept on beside her, apparently undisturbed, but the sense of panic, touch of fear, would not leave her.

“Mommy…!” Alandra, sobbing, calling her name. She threw the covers aside and nearly leapt up, out, and to her feet in one motion: The cotton night shirt fell to her knees as she ran for Alandra’s bedroom. Behind her, Don grunted in surprise, but she barely heard him: Her mind had kicked into a higher gear; suddenly working overtime.

…Nightmare? … Kidnapping? …Killers? … Burglars? … My baby! …

And why is it, she thought, as her mind threw all the worst possibilities at her, that your mind does exactly that? Why?

She pushed it all away as she pushed the bedroom door open to find Alandra sitting up, staring at the closed window that looked out over the back yard.

She reached the bed and gathered Alandra in her arms… “What, baby? … Bad dream?”

“No,” Alandra sobbed. “Not a dream. You have to stop them, Mommy. They were killing Mister Bob… He told me.”

Lisa let her eyes fly quickly to the window, and then flit around the bedroom, alighting here and there, in case there was some wack-job standing in the shadows… Closed window… Tree limbs outlined outside it in moonlight… Closed closet door… She thrust one foot at the darkness under the bed.

“Baby, there’s no one here.” She pulled Alandra’s head away from her breast which was already wet from her tears.

“Honey, Alandra.” She waited until she turned her tear stained face up to her own. “Baby, there’s no one here… See?” She turned her eyes to the empty room.

“Mommy, Mister Bob,” Alandra said. “Look at the window.”

Lisa looked more closely at the window, but saw nothing more. “Honey, are you saying that Mister Bob was at the window?”

Alandra nodded solemnly.

Dan was supposed to take care of getting the tree outside the window trimmed. Lisa had been concerned of just this thing: Someone climbing that tree and having access to Alandra’s bedroom window. A spike of fear lodged directly in Lisa’s heart. “Stay here, baby, okay?”

Alandra nodded once more. Lisa gathered herself, rose from the bed, and went to the window, wishing she had thought to grab her pepper spray. Better yet, her mind supplied, Don’s 9 mm. The window was closed, but the thumb lock was off. She eased up next to the window, holding herself in the shadows, and scanned the back yard. … Nothing … The bedroom door opened suddenly and she turned quickly, her heart hammering hard against her rib-cage.

“Whatzit?” Dan asked.

“Jesus, Dan,” Lisa said. One hand went to her throat.

“Sorry…” He turned to Alandra. “What’s wrong, honey-pie?”

“She said someone was at the window,” Lisa supplied.

“Christ,” Dan muttered. He walked across to the window: A big man who moved fast. His eyes scanned the yard.

“Well… I don’t see anyone now,” he said.

“I don’t either, but I thought…”

He nodded. “Tomorrow morning, noon at the latest. It’s spring… He’s backed up.” Dan shrugged helplessly. “I’ve been on him, Lissy. I have.”

“Dan.”

He held up a hand. “Or I’ll take the day off and do it myself… Promise… I’ll call him in the morning before I leave.” He sighed.

Lisa yawned.

“Honey, you want to sleep with Mommy and Daddy,” Dan asked?

“Uh, uh. What if Mister Bob comes back?” Alandra asked.

“Mister Bob?” Dan asked.

“He told her that was his name,” Lisa said.

“Were you dreaming, honey?” Dan asked.

“She wasn’t dreaming, Dan,” Lisa warned.

“Well… Cops… Should we?”

“There’s nobody… What do you say exactly? No… Just make sure it can’t happen again,” Lisa finished.

“Okay… Okay.” He turned back to Alandra. “Come on, honey. Sleep with Mommy and Daddy tonight. Tomorrow we’ll make sure Mister Bob can’t wake you up in the middle of the night again.”

“Mommy will stay in here with you,” Lisa countered.

Alandra nodded.

Dan looked from Alandra to Lisa. Lisa shrugged.

Dan frowned and then turned and left the bedroom. A few minutes later he was back.

“Here,” he said as he handed Lisa her pillow. His own pillow and a wad of blankets were tucked under his other arm

“We’ll have a camp out,” Dan said. He looked at the floor, yawned deeply and then spread out the blankets and tossed the pillow to the floor.

Alandra giggled as Lisa climbed into the narrow bed and pulled her close.

~

Dan was already softly snoring and Lisa was sure that Alandra was sleeping too. Her own thoughts were getting farther and farther away from her. Her mind free falling into the spiral of sleep when Alandra whispered.

“Mister Bob is my friend, mommy.”

She came up from the edge of sleep just that fast.

“He talks to me every night.”

Lisa pulled her closer. “When, baby?” she whispered back.

“All kinds of times… Sometimes when I’m awake, sometimes he wakes me up. He’s not mean, mommy. He’s my friend.”

“But, baby, a man shouldn’t be climbing a tree to talk to you,” Lisa told her.

“But he doesn’t, mommy. He’s already there. Mister Bob is a tree. My tree.”

“Oh, baby… A tree? The tree in the back yard?”

Alandra yawned. “Uh huh. My friend, Mister Bob.”

Lisa nodded.

“He talks to me… He said… He said, they’re going to kill me, sissy. Don’t let them kill me.”

Lisa’s heart leapt in her chest. Sissy had been Alandra’s nickname until she had discovered that she liked her real name better in Kindergarten and had solemnly told she and Dan not to call her Sissy anymore. Lisa yawned in spite of herself. She pulled Alandra closer. Maybe it had been a dream after all.

“He calls you Sissy?”

“I told him I’m not a baby.” She yawned again and the rest of what she said was lost as she began to drift into sleep.

The fear that had been rising in Lisa’s heart bled out just that quick. Her own lack of sleep caught up to her. She yawned too, and a few seconds later she drifted down into sleep thinking about talking trees that spoke to little girls and called them by their nicknames.

Morning:

She heard the alarm from her own bedroom. Dan had turned over, pulled the covers over his head and balled the pillow up under his head. He slept on, oblivious. She recalled a dream of her own. Must have been after all that had happened, she thought. She had dreamed that she had awoken briefly to hear Alandra holding a conversation with Mister Bob. Something like, “I told her… She’ll make sure you’re okay.” And the impression of another voice. Deep, resonant. She couldn’t understand it. A weird dream provoked, no doubt, by what had happened earlier and what Alandra had told her. She looked down into Alandra’s sleep eyes.

“Want to sleep a little longer, honey?” Lisa asked her.

Alandra nodded.

Lisa kissed her forehead, got out of bed and then tucked her back in. She turned to Dan.

“Do you want to sleep in a little longer too, honey,” She asked.

The wad of blankets surrounding his head nodded.

“Well, you don’t get to sleep in. Come one. Get up.”

Dan groaned. He struggled briefly with the wad of tangled blankets that surrounded his head. Alandra looked over the edge of the bed and giggled. Lisa looked at her.

“You’re not going back to sleep are you.”

“Nope,” Alandra agreed.

“Well come on then. We’ll get breakfast and coffee going while Daddy gets his shower.”

Late Morning:

Lisa shifted through her email: Nothing too pressing. She closed the browser and popped open her scripting editor. She worked for the next three hours straight after she had gotten Alandra off to school. The website she was writing a script for was nearly done. She had written the site, incorporated the graphic elements, and was finishing up the scripting that would load the cart system for the site and control purchases. She had one small script to write yet, and a few graphics to tweak and that would be it. She reached for her coffee cup, found it was empty, and headed for the kitchen.

She had just poured the coffee when she heard the sudden roar of a chainsaw. She knew the sound. She heard it often enough in the spring and fall, but it was close. Much closer than it should be, and that rattled her. She took a deep sip from her coffee, set it down on the counter, and headed for the back door, glancing through the windows as she went: Two men she didn’t know were in her backyard.

At first it alarmed her and then she realized they must be there to trim the tree. She levered open the rear door and popped her head out anyway. They both looked over and nodded.

The bigger one held the chainsaw in his hand. A bigger saw than the models she had seen used for yard work. Somewhere, probably in the garage, they had one of the small ones tucked away for just-in-case themselves.

She smiled. “Here to trim the branch?” It made her blush. She felt a little foolish asking, but the saw was huge. Maybe they were at the wrong house… Wrong job… Something.

“The tree, miss,” the smaller man answered over the roar of the chainsaw.

The smile left her face. The words Alandra had said the night before surfaced on their own but she couldn’t quite get them. Something like, Mister Bob was her friend… A tree… This tree, in fact, and they were going to kill him… Trying to kill him…

“The branch,” she said.

“Uh, uh,” the small one said. He pulled a notebook from his breast pocket, studied it. “Danny said… Danny said take the whole thing.”

“Well that just can’t be right,” Lisa informed him.

“Well, miss. I got it right here in black and white.” The big one was revving up the chainsaw and looking at the big tree with something like desire on his face.

“Well, see, I give Danny a good price, ’cause we’ll just cut this son-of-a-whore-tree…” He seemed to remember that he was talking to Lisa, met her eyes and blushed deep red. He turned away. He continued after a few seconds of silence.

“This ol’ tree, we’ll cut her up for firewood,” the bigger man continued. He had let the chainsaw fall to a rough, popping idle as they talked. From the kitchen came the ringing of the telephone.

“Excuse me,” Lisa said. She turned to go and then turned back just a quickly. “I’ll have to call Dan… Maybe that’s him. It’s only the limb though, not the tree.” She turned and headed for the back door.

The phone stopped ringing just before she reached it. She cursed under her breath, picked up her coffee, sipped at it, then picked up the handset, punched in Dan’s number.

The house phone was something that their friends considered an oddity and she considered a necessity. She liked it. She had a cellphone she rarely ever used. She had no real reason to. Her cell phone dislike wasn’t part of some strange phobia, it was just a habit she had never developed. She was a stay at home mom, what did she need a cellphone for, she asked her friends when the chided her about it. Secretly she hated it. More truthfully, she knew, she loathed it. It was something akin to being tracked everywhere you went. She had tried one for a year and that was how it made you feel. You didn’t have to slip it in your pocket, but you did. You didn’t have to answer it in the super market, but you did. While driving, while gardening, she had even tentatively answered it once when she had been in the bathroom.

That had been it for her. The cell phone had gone in a drawer, and the next time she had been at the big shopping center she had bought a wall phone with a built in answering machine. She had bugged Dan to get the house phone put in and things had been perfect. Calls went to the machine: If she felt like answering she did. But she didn’t rush to answer. She didn’t buy a portable phone to add to the line. She liked it the way it was.

Smooth silence greeted her on the line, then it clicked and a voice was in her ear.

“Hello? … Hello?”

“Hello?” Lisa answered.

“Miss Stevens?” A voice asked.

“Yes.”

“That’s so weird… It never rang… Just sounded as though a number was being punched in,” the voice said.

“You must have been there when I picked up to dial,” Lisa said. “Sorry.”

“No… No, it’s okay… Miss Stevens, this is Ms Edwards… Joan Edwards?” Alandra’s teacher.

“Is something wrong?” Lisa heard the panic as it jumped into her voice, but she couldn’t have stopped it if she had wanted to.

“No… No, but, well, Alandra’s upset… Very upset. I’ve honestly never seen her like this… She wants to talk to you… About Mister Bob? I know her father’s name is Daniel, and the explanation about Mister Bob is hard to understand… She”s upset of course, but whoever this Mister Bob is, she believes…”

“Someone is going to hurt him?” Lisa supplied.

“Well, yes… Her words were stronger.”

“Kill?” Lisa asked. Her words seemed forced, her heart hammered right at the back of her throat, fast, hot, her tongue was dry and hard to move.

“That was it… I know it’s unusual, but I’m here in the principle’s office…, She’s quite upset.”

“Put her on? Put her on,” Lisa told her. “Baby? Alandra?” The sound of Alandra’s sobbing came to her. “Baby, what’s wrong…? What about Mister Bob?” She was getting more than a little freaked out. Two men had come to cut down her imaginary friend the tree. But there was no way she could know that, was there?

“Mommy, they came to kill Mister Bob.” Lisa only understood it because she was listening for it. Otherwise, it was just broken sobs and syllables. In the backyard the chainsaw revved up to a high whine.

“Honey, they won’t cut down Mister Bob.”

“Kill, mommy, kill.”

“Kill… They won’t kill Mister Bob. They won’t kill Mister Bob… I promise.”

“Mommy, I want to come home, mommy. I want to. I want to see Mister Bob!” She sobbed even harder. The phone clattered and the teacher was back on the line.

“Miss Steven’s, I don’t know…”

“Ms Edwards… Ms Edwards I’m coming to pick her up. I’ll explain when I get there, but I’ll come to pick her up.”

“Well if you think…”

“I do… Thank you so much, Ms Edwards.” The phone was back on the hook before the teacher answered, and Lisa was palming the back door open. The big guy was getting ready to cut a notch into the tree. She waved her arms and yelled at the smaller guy who tapped the bigger guy on the shoulder. He seemed to hesitate, then he turned to face Lisa. She motioned impatiently at the saw: Reluctantly he shut it off.

“Did I say you’re not cutting down my goddamn tree?”

“Miss… The mister said…”

“I don’t care what the mister said. The tree stays.”

“Miss,” the big one soothed. “It’ll be quick. I’m insured if that’s what you’re worried about. Let me take this ‘ol bitch down and get it over.”

“It’s a he,” Lisa said.

“What?”

“A… Never mind. You’re not cutting down my tree… Are you really standing here on my property arguing with me about my own goddamn tree?” She took a few steps toward him and he stepped back, flinching as he did, despite the fact that he was easily twice her size.

“Miss,” he started, but the smaller one patted him on the arm. He turned, paused, and finally seemed to realize he would not be cutting down the tree after all. “We’ll be going,” he said after a long period of silence.

Lisa didn’t wait. She walked back into the house and was backing her Honda out of the driveway before the two men had finished loading up their truck.

Late Evening:

Lisa popped her head into Alandra’s room, but she was fast asleep. Dan looked over the top of her head.

“Okay?” He asked.

Lisa nodded, closed the door a little farther and then followed Dan down the darkened hallway to their own room.

“A talking tree,” Dan said, not quite laughing as he changed for bed.

“She believed it… Believes it… I can’t cut down her tree.”

Dan shrugged. “Willy and Timmy were pissed off.”

“So was I.” Lisa said.

“I heard.” He held up his hands. “Not that you didn’t have a right to be… I should have told you. I made a deal to just take down the tree. I figured I’d just end up trimming the thing for years… It’s a bad place… But, if it stays, it stays.”

“I didn’t say the tree talked to me,” Lisa said.

“I know,” Dan agreed.

“I feel a little defensive.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t?”

“Don’t… It’s over.”

“Would you have done the same thing?”

“Are you kidding? Nandie crying on the phone? I would have run them both out of the yard.” He sighed.

Lisa smiled. “Okay, that made me feel better.” She reached for the light, casting the bedroom in half light from the glow of the red numerals on the clock. Dan noticed but said nothing.

“I didn’t like the other clock,” Lisa said.

He pulled her close. “Okay,” he agreed. “Red’s good.”

“Baby,” Lisa pulled back and looked up into his eyes. “Do you think, well, do you think trees can …”

“Talk,” Dan supplied.

“No, I was going to say feel pain… Weird, right?”

“Well, they’re alive, aren’t they? But pain? I don’t know… Are you serious?”

“Well, Alandra was so upset… So hurt and…”

“It was a bad dream. You know how a dream can seem at that age. Like everything… Real. Completely real to a kid.”

“You think?”

“I think,” Dan soothed. He pulled her closer.

Lisa snuggled her head into his chest, meaning only to close her eyes for a few moments, but she drifted off into sleep instead.

Late Night:

Sissy…” Softly on the wind…

Alandra’s eyes opened in the darkness of her bedroom.

Mister Bob,” she whispered. She sat up and looked to the window, got out of bed and walked over quietly raising the window a little. She sat down on the floor and looked up at the branches that were only a few feet outside the window. The blue-gray moon floated above the limbs far above the tree. The name came again on the wind. Softly… Barely there.

“Sissy…”

She smiled. “Mister Bob,” she whispered once more…

________________________

Check out the full collection of stories in Mister Bob with free previews

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Have a great week, Geo.