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“Gathering In” Excerpt #6   Leave a comment

The medical center held the priority for fuel, so had lights, kept low to save electricity. The patients all slept. Shane went into the room where Mike slumbered under a heavy dose of sedatives. His temperature still ran high. Shane looked at the blood-tinged pus in the bag hanging beside the bed. The yellow-green color didn’t bode well for his friend’s survival.

God, we could use your help here.

Where did that come from? Driving through a mortar barrage, he found a rudimentary belief in the god he’d so long denied. Shane found it convenient to blame the eternal crap bag for all the evil in the world, but he didn’t expect him to be a cosmic sugar daddy. That kind of delusion belonged to people who thought the meddlesome old man in the long white beard loved them. He knew if his parents’ god was real, he’d lose no love on a monster like Shane. God’s love of monsters stood in the way of Shane even believing in him. Men like King David, with hundreds of deaths on their hands, didn’t deserve heaven.

I deserve death.

Did Mike? Probably a card-carrying member of the asshole in arms did, yeah. Did Alicia deserve to be alone, pregnant and unprotected in a world now spun out of control? All of morality pivoted there for Shane. He knew he deserved death by painful torture, but he also knew that would hurt his parents deeply and the knowledge kept his 9mm in its back holster and not in his mouth. He had to do his best to not hurt himself while they still needed his skills.

“Gathering In” Excerpt #2   Leave a comment

The night of the pulse, Geo Tully and Wes Marcus were in the basement of Wes’ aunt’s home that had become their safehouse.

Wes, a wiry com tech barely old enough to shave regularly, held up a photo album that showed a man standing in front of the post-World War 2 bungalow with a shovel. The front door stood behind him, but not the view of the house that Geo recognized. The articulated arm of a backhoe could be seen on the edge of the frame.

“The porch is an addition,” Geo acknowledged.

A Navy Seal from Kansas, Geo towered over his Seattle-raised compatriot. They’d thrown in together when Bunnell & Wilson’s Knights Industry division seized control of the city by murdering military personnel. Wes’ uncle Fred had been an urban survivalist before he died a few years ago and his aunt Connie had died in Portland’s bomb attack. Their house had been a safe haven for two fugitives, so far.

“And look at how deep the hole is behind him.”

Geo turned to the front wall of the basement. The shelves had kept him from investigating here. They appeared to be attached to the wall, but when he ran his hand along the back edge of the shelving unit, he found a throw-bolt. He pulled it down and tugged on the shelves, swinging them out away from the wall. Hinged on the far side, they glided on hidden casters. Behind the shelves an open space stretched the length of the porch. Geo tried the light on the ceiling, but it didn’t turn on. He used the flashlight on his phone to illuminate the small room. A ham radio sat at one end, covered with plastic, while storage boxes filled the other end.

“I knew that tower had to still have a use.” Wes squatted down to look under the table the radio sat on. As an Army communication tech, he knew radios. “He left it disconnected. It’ll take me a moment.”

The light bulb in the main basement flared and popped off. Wes smacked his head on the underside of the table. Geo’s phone light went out.

“What’s that smell?” Wes stood, sniffing.

“My phone just fried, I think.”

They fumbled around in the dark to find the stairs and make their way to the kitchen. Duke, the Labrador retriever, stood in the living room, staring at the window and whining.

Geo peeked out the curtains as the neighbors came out on their porch, staring around.

“You smell that?” Wes asked. “I’m going to go check for fire.”

“Do you hear that?”

Duke whined louder. Raucous voices filtered in through the glass. Geo watched as the neighbors ran off their porch. Wes swept the front door open.

“What the hell?” Geo growled.

“They need help.” Wes ran into the street.

“Stay, Duke,” Geo ordered and followed his stupid partner into the street, where the neighbors could get a full view of their high-and-tights. They’d agreed they wouldn’t do that, but Wes had forced them all in. A municipal bus sat at the corner, smoke pouring out of its windows as the people inside tried to get out, screaming, kicking, punching at the glass, but when one window shattered, it just fed the fire that doomed them.

Wes ran to the rear passenger door and tried to pull it open, convulsing and chewing his tongue, smoke rising from his body.

“Gathering In” Excerpt #3   1 comment

They’d been told to expect a friendly village, an increasingly elusive concept in the Mirage these days, so they’d all opted to carry for their own safety. A young boy of about ten met them at the town entrance and jabbered away in a patois mixture of the local dialect, the Miragan central tongue and English. Although it seemed impossible for foreigners to master Miragan, Shane’s grasp of Arabic and the months spent with Sera meant he understood enough of the boy’s chatter that they could at least communicate rudimentarily.

“What’s he saying?” Commander Roth asked Shane.

“The levees came through about a week ago, but they haven’t been back. They took his older brother despite being younger than draft age. They took his father last year. He’s hoping for some food aid as he’s feeding three younger siblings by himself.”

“Do you believe that?” Logan demanded.

I do. Take a look. You see any adult males around here?”

“Not on the ground, but I’ll bet there’s plenty squirreled away in the attics.”

“Where’s the headman’s hut?” Roth asked.

The boy seemed eager to cooperate and they moved deeper into the village’s narrow lanes, leaving squads behind as they went, until only Mike, Killgore, Roth and Shane continued. One moment it seemed friendly, and the next an icy finger ran down Shane’s back. He turned his head toward the left to see the barely perceived danger. A woman in a dark cotton hijab materialized in a doorway. Shane opened his mouth to call a warning and several shots to his chest slammed him back into a stone wall.

Taste Treat #5 Objects in View   Leave a comment

Objects in View Front CoverSilence woke him. He blinked into the darkness, disoriented, tasting the staleness of the air, sensing the concrete a couple of inches from his face and the echoing chamber at his back. He remembered and rolled onto his back, listening for the patter of rain on the concrete roof. The growl of a dog-day storm had drifted off to the south while he slept and now the rain ceased to fall. Its absence deafened him in this dark prison.

Halfway there, he thought.

Could he last that long?

Shane had known sheltering would mean an uncomfortable time underground without fresh air. The alternative had never occurred to him until after he’d closed the door. Death by radiation poisoning was too slow to be attractive.

Or had been, before he shut out the light and fresh air. Contemplating the carbon dioxide levels made radiation poisoning seem almost preferable.

He’d lost track of the time, refusing to waste battery power by checking his cell, but he had slept, so he figured it was morning.

He guessed 12 hours since he had last peed. The bruises on his face were less tender. Maybe he’d slept longer than he’d thought. Or else the aspirin had been more effective than he’d supposed. Or maybe the lack of air was starting to affect him.

Did Rigby set this room up? Do I trust that Dylan was telling the truth? Am I losing my mind? Did I do it and not remember? I did smack my head.

His stomach growled. He needed light to prepare an MRE, but light held its own dangers. He had opted for darkness because it was less crazy making. Would it have been easier if he had sheltered with Alex and Keri at the farm? No, seven people in the root cellar would be much worse. They’d expect him to be civil when all he wanted was to retreat in his misery and wait it out … which was pretty much what he was doing now. Except he was hungry and he needed to urinate.

Hunger was a good sign. Alone and trapped might have turned badly for him, but he wasn’t hungry for the barrel of his gun. He was dreaming of MRE gourmet.

 

Lela Markham is an Alaska speculative fiction novelist. Objects in View is Book 2 of an apocalyptic series, Transformation Project. It will be available October 4 on Amazon and Createspace. Book 1, Life As We Knew It is available now.

Posted September 28, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion

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