Change of Direction

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Hello all! How are you? I’ve had an…interesting couple of weeks since I posted last. I don’t like sharing personal information that much but, if you’re curious, I’ve heard back about my VA disability claim. It was denied and I’ve appealed the board’s findings since it was on it’s face bullshit (If you’ll pardon my French). They claimed that the problems I’m having with my back and legs was from an injury I suffered in High School which begs the question how exactly I passed not one but two MEPS physicals almost a decade apart if I couldn’t walk like a normal person (among other symptoms which will remain between me, my doctor and the board).
I ended up spending a couple days in the hospital last week because I had another flair up or what have you with the nerve damage in my lower back. I ended up being kept overnight for observation and got one of the MRIs taken that I’d been fighting with the VA over for months. Kinda funny that I got more care in less than 24 hours from a civilian hospital that I got from the VA in something like 3 months. I also found it kinda funny that the nurses kept trying to give me painkillers even though I insisted that I didn’t need them (apparently somebody with as much wrong with my back as I have should be in a significant amount of pain). I’m not looking forward to fighting with the VA over the bill since they give me an endless amount of crap over a $5o copay from my insurance company. Completely disregard that the VA nurse told me when I called to go to the ER and it’s 150 miles in either direction from where I live to the nearest VA hospital with an Emergency Room and I’m pretty much physically incapable of driving that far. I mean I *could* ride in a car that far but I’d be in some pretty severe pain by the time I got there. For the record, I ran between four and eight miles a day for five days straight over a period of on the order of 5-6 months before I went to a doctor and discovered that I had a fractured knee cap. So take that as you will…
Anyways! So what else is going on? I have kind of given up on the Fantasy novels for now. They’re still on my computer’s hard drive so I can start them up again if the mood takes me.
What am I doing now? I’ve started a new manuscript in the last couple days. I’ve started up again with the characters from my Outbreak series, taking up the tale about three or four weeks after the postscript at the end of Outbreak: Long Road Back. It’s kind of fun to catch up with these characters after all this time. Right now the world they’re living in has gone from Battle: Los Angeles meets The Walking Dead to a kind of Andy Griffith (with a hint of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) and it’ll be fun to see where it goes. The United States Government is pushing its way, slowly but surely, inland from the eastern seacoast so that’ll be interesting as well…
Anyways I guess that’s all I got for right now. I really mean to post more often than I do but I guess I just wait until I’ve got something worth reporting. So click the link at the top of the post to see my ebooks available for purchase for your Kindle or Kindle app and remember with each purchase you’re helping a guy who is getting dicked around by the government pay his bills. You can also follow me on Facebook where I…well…let’s be honest. I post more plus I post things there I find funny. So there’s that too. And, as always, have a nice day!

The Gift

HERE’S A LINK TO MY AUTHOR’S PAGE ON AMAZON!

Hello, everyone! How are you? I hope everyone had a good Christmas or whatever holiday you happen to celebrate this time of year. Anyways I thought I’d give you guys a little (somewhat) belated Christmas present. This is one of my favorite stories from the collection of short stories I published a little over a year or so ago (available for sale through the link above if you’re so inclined plug plug shameless plug) called Outbreak: Before and After. If you enjoy it take a look at the rest of my work and see what else strikes your fancy.
Also you can Like my page on Facebook and I started a Gallery on deviantART where you can see some of my concept art for the Fantasy novel I’ve been working on as well as some stuff to do with the Outbreak Series. Anyways! Enjoy the story!

The Gift

20 April 2012 06:32 hours Little Orleans Lodge Little Orleans, MD
The morning was warm and muggy with low wisps of fog rising out of the grass around the two story house. The building was surrounded by a small sea of grass though it had been awhile since anybody had been around to cut the lawn. There was a garden in the back that showed signs of recent expansion filled with rows established for corn, radishes, beans and other various kinds of vegetables. The grounds were hemmed in by a makeshift fence made out of timbers cut from some of the trees that surrounded the house on three sides.
A few macabre decorations dotted the fence as it was made of four foot long stakes braced with a crosspiece and bound with wire. Once you got a little closer in the fog you could see these shapes were humans who reached out with thrashing arms like impaled insects. A tall wiry man with long brown hair that hung almost to his shoulders and bushy beard walked along the barricade.
He wore a leather apron over his jeans and flannel shirt. All in all he looked like he could either be a malnourished lumberjack or the lead singer of a Seattle Grunge band. His hands were protected by heavy workman’s gloves and he had a long handled roofing hammer in his right hand. The man walked along at a leisurely pace and came up to the first humanoid form.
The person stuck to the fence had sallow skin with lanky black hair his skin shrunken around his skull. Without preamble he grasped the impaled man’s arm held it aside and smashed the impaled man’s head with the hammer. The impaled man twitched a few times and went limp his weight supported by the spike through his chest. The man inside the perimeter nodded satisfactorily then did the same to a teenage blond in a jogging outfit. This time the man frowned. She must have been cute when she was alive… the man thought bitterly. He shook his head then wiped the hammer on the grass to try and clean the bits of skull and brain tissue off it.
“Hey Brian.” a quiet feminine voice called out of the fog. A woman of average height with close cropped brown hair walked slowly towards Brian. She had green eyes with a spattering of freckles across her cheeks and nose. The black tee shirt and khaki cargo pants gave the woman a vaguely military appearance never mind the butt of the Glock 21 sticking out of her waistband. The woman’s tan army boots made almost no sound as she came closer. If you looked close you could see brown stains dappled across the rough tan leather. “About finished here?”
Brian looked at the two zombies he had just bashed in the head. “Just about, Doc.” he said quietly. The man grabbed the fence and put one work booted foot on the chest of the male corpse and pushed it off the spike causing it to land on the ground with a wet thump. “Just gotta walk the back part of the yard and get rid of these two plus the one I found out front.”
She joined him as he finished his rounds. “We going to make that run today?” Doc asked, her voice just above a whisper. There had been bold talk last night that since the weather was getting better they should start going out scrounging again. In an hour or two the fog would get burned off when the sun finally made its way into the valley and they could see where they were going.
“Yep.” Brian said as they approached the corner and started walking the last bit of the fence. “Any idea where we’re going to go?” The man glanced at the pistol in the woman’s waistband “How many bullets you got left?”
Doc shrugged. “I think we’re going south first.” she said and frowned at a tall scarecrow of a creature stuck on the fence a few feet ahead of them. Its spaghetti noodle arms waved like one of those inflatable men that they used to set up outside car dealerships. Doc smiled a little at the comparison as she caught one arm while Brian grabbed the other. In a few moments the thing ended up another corpse on the ground with its head bashed in.
Once the morning perimeter check Brian went to the back of the house and pushed over a big handcart mounted on bicycle tires. Doc walked alongside the man and lent him a hand getting the three bodies on the cart then dumping them into a low pit. At Doc’s suggestion they had dug this pit to burn the zombies to reduce the chances of disease spreading. There were blacked remains of the last few corpses in the bottom of the hole and they’d probably burn these three new ones once they had a few more to throw on the pile.
Their morning chores done Doc and Brian returned the cart and went inside. The rest of the group was either in the kitchen getting breakfast ready or setting the table in the dining room. “Hey guys.” Doc called as she picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer and squirted a generous gob of the clear goo into the palm of her hand. “What’s for breakfast?” she asked as she rubbed her hands together. Since the snows had gone away they had started running short on water. It wouldn’t be long before they had to take another trip to the Potomac River about a quarter mile away and fill their jugs again.
Judy, a short woman with a crown of curly silver hair, scowled at the younger woman. “Oatmeal. The same damn thing we’ve had every day for the past four months.” she grumbled as she filled a kettle and set it on the stove. Luckily the cozy little bed and breakfast had its own natural gas tank so the stove and the furnace worked.
“Well maybe we’ll get lucky today.” Terrance said pointedly. It had been a long winter cooped up in the house and he was more than ready to go…just about anywhere, really. Brian clapped the taller man no the shoulder as he walked into dining room. He liked the tall black man but he could sometimes couldn’t help but needle Judy when she was in a mood.
Brian grinned when he entered the dining room. Danny was finishing setting the table with Karen the two of them arranging white Styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons on the scratched up wooden table. The blond, already pale before spending the entire winter indoors, was almost translucent now. Her skin contrasted sharply with the dark blue tee shirt, jeans and denim jacket she wore. The boy was brown haired like his father though he was almost frightfully thin. His third hand sweatshirt and blue jeans hung on him like a scarecrow. The winter had been hard on all of them but…since his mother had died and come back Danny had been a constant secret worry to his father. The boy rushed over and wrapped his arms around his father’s leg. Karen settled into a chair as the people in the kitchen brought out the hot water and the plastic container of oatmeal out to the table.
The group tucked into their meal with a morose intensity as the oatmeal was bland and had the consistency of rubber cement but it beat starving. “So Brian and I are going out to see what we can find today like we talked about.” Doc said around a mouthful of tarry oatmeal. Danny gave his father a frightened look but Doc ignored it. “Anybody need anything specific?”
“Last time to ask.” Brian added with a small grin. There was the list written on the piece of scrap paper folded up in his pocket but there was the chance that somebody had thought of something they needed during the night. In truth he was more than a little nervous but he had to keep a brave face on for Danny’s sake. Besides he and Doc had gone scrounging for supplies before the snow started to fly and everything had come out alright.
They finished eating and tossed the disposable dinnerware into a trashcan in the kitchen. Doc and Brian each went upstairs to their rooms to collect what they might need for their trip. In a short amount of time Brian came back down with a knapsack over his shoulder and a duffel bag in his hand. He had an Ithaca Model 37 12 gauge shotgun slung over his shoulder loaded with the last five precious buckshot cartridges they had. Danny was waiting for his father at the bottom of the stairs.
“Hey buddy.” Brian said as he said as he put a hand on the boy’s head and pressed it against his side. “Don’t worry little man. You and Terrance keep things tight around here, alright?” He let the boy go and the two of them walked outside towards a white Ford F-150 that had obviously seen better days. He balled up the bag and tossed it into the bed of the truck.
Doc came out onto the porch and looked around until she located Brian and his son standing by the truck. She had a New York Yankees cap pulled low over her eyes and what had earned the woman her moniker in a backpack. Doc had also added a small machete in a nylon sheath to her belt opposite the Glock. The woman tossed her Army issue ‘portable hospital’ through the open window of the truck and went to Brian.
The two of them helped each other secure thick piles of newspaper around their forearms with duct tape. The pair made one last check of their gear and weapons, gave Danny a hug then got in the truck and pulled to the section in the fence blocking the driveway. Brian got out of the passenger’s seat and moved the gate to let the truck out then replaced the barricade before rushing back to the vehicle. He gave the woman a nervous smile. “Alright, let’s go.”
They had made a pretty thorough search of the houses and other buildings in the immediate area so they were now heading into unknown territory. Brian looked at the woman sitting on the truck’s bench seat opposite him. He noticed her jaw working as she chewed on something. “Hey! You got gum?!” he asked arching an eyebrow at the woman.
Doc rolled her dark green eyes and dug around in her cargo pocket. “Here.” she offered him a couple rectangles wrapped in tinfoil. She was secretly grateful that he only took one. “If you find any cigarettes remember I was nice and shared my gum.” Doc said with a grin.
They drove on in silence down the tree lined road for a little while Brian guiding the truck around a stalled vehicle here or a downed tree there. There was a sharp bend in the road forcing him to slow down to negotiate it and the truck bounced as he ran over a thick tree limb jarring the passengers. Doc scowled at Brian who shrugged apologetically. Presently the trees thinned on the right side of the road and a handful of small farmhouses revealed themselves.
They passed by several more houses as they had pretty much picked them clean during the earlier summer and autumn. Brian felt a chill when he noticed a handful of slouching staggering figures coming towards the noise of the truck’s engine. If they were lucky the hills would make it harder for any of the zombies farther away to pinpoint the source of the noise…
Two large houses presented themselves on either side of the road neither of which they had gotten around to checking out earlier. “Which one?” Brian asked. The one on the left had a driveway in plain sight while the one on the left looked like it might be farther down the road.
Doc shrugged. “Let’s do the one on the left first and then the other one.” she said and swallowed her gum. Brian shrugged back and then steered the truck onto the gravel driveway of the house on the left gently letting the vehicle glide to a stop. The structure had been an impressive two story colonial with white vinyl siding however now it had all the charm of a dead five dollar hooker. Its siding was falling off and it looked to Brian like he could probably kick his way from one end of the building to the other. When the truck came to a stop the two of them jumped out and hid behind the side of the vehicle facing away from the house.
Brian and Doc looked at each other waiting for some sign that something had heard the truck coming. The two of them exchanged nods and stood slowly with their firearms ready in case someone in the house started shooting at them. After a few tense moments they ran from the truck and up onto the front porch of the house. They waited again on either side of the front door… Brian reached out and pounded on the door hard four times with the butt of his fist.
They waited ears straining for the sound of any creatures inside coming. Doc cautiously reached out for the door handle once they were reasonably certain that nothing was inside. Or rather nothing inside was falling for their little ruse… The picture window behind her shattered with a crash making both of them jump out of their skins.
A thing that used to be a willowy young girl in a filthy blue floral print sun dress lay writhing on its stomach trying to get to its feet. The broken glass on the planks created a myriad of bloodless slashes in its palms and forearms. Brian was on it in a flash his hammer streaking downward in two sharp blows smashing in its skull before it could move.
Brian stepped over the zombie and carefully stepped through the broken window so he wouldn’t cut himself on the shards of glass sticking out of the frame. He stood in what looked like a parlor or living room. A couch and a recliner were arranged around a television on a wooden stand a few feet away all of which were covered in a thick coating of mold and dust. The dust was so thick that he could tell that the zombie that was now on the porch had come through the doorway about ten feet away. Was there any more in there?
He quickly walked over to the door and let Doc in. The pair of them made a quick sweep of the first floor discovering a dining room that looked like a tornado had hit it as well as a kitchen and, most importantly, a small pantry. There was also a small laundry room attached to the kitchen. There was a set of stairs that led to the second story in the dining room. Brian picked up an empty laundry basket that was sitting on top of the dryer and handed it to Doc. “Put the stuff from the pantry in here.” he said as he rushed out to the living room.
Doc made a strange face but put tucked the Glock into her waistband and went back into the pantry. There was pretty slim pickings: some dusty cans of Spam, some tuna fish, a few cans of miscellaneous vegetables…not really enough to justify the trip so far. She returned to the kitchen and started going through the cabinets. This was a little more profitable as Doc discovered several Tupperware containers with some rice, flour and sugar as well as a supply of salt in a cardboard container. There had been a few boxes of cereal in one cabinet but the mice appeared to have made short work of them.
The woman paused between the kitchen and the living room. Brian was crouched next to the cabinets next to the television muttering to himself as he rooted through the contents. He growled under his breath and shifted over to the one next to it. Doc shrugged mentally before walking quickly to the truck and putting the laundry basket in the back.
“FUCK!” Brian shouted as he kicked the door to the cabinet he’d been searching shut. Doc turned on her heel and sprinted into the room machete drawn. The woman chuckled relieved when she saw that Brian was alright but standing in the middle of the room with his hands clenched at his sides. The look he gave her cut off any further laughter.
“Are you alright?” she asked after a few seconds of awkward silence. Doc slid her machete back into its sheath and took a few tentative steps towards Brian. He took a deep breath and looked at the woman. Doc was suddenly a little concerned for the man’s sanity.
“It’s Danny’s birthday in a couple days.” Brian said quietly. The man smiled awkwardly and motioned towards the cabinets and shelves he’d been searching. “I wanted to give him one good day… I was hoping to find a movie, one of my favorites when I was his age, and hopefully some popcorn or candy or something.”
Doc smiled. “You know what? That sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Let’s see what we can do.” she put her hands on her hips and looked at the stairs. “I wonder if the people that lived here had kids. We’ll probably find something if they did. What one are we looking for in particular?”
Brian looked at the floor suddenly a little bashful for some inexplicable reason. “The Princess Bride.” he said and cleared his throat before meeting the woman’s gaze. He smiled a little when she didn’t burst out laughing straight away.
“Inconceivable!” Doc exclaimed with a wide grin. She started towards the stairs and looked over her shoulder. “Let’s hope we find a copy. I take it you’ve got something to play it on?” The power had been out at the house they were crashing in when they arrived so the TV and DVD player in the living room would be useless.
Brian grinned back. “I hid one of those portable DVD players in the attic.” He had found the player along with a supply of batteries the last time he had gone out scrounging for supplies. Terrance had been sworn to secrecy and Brian was glad the man had kept his word.
The two of them pulled their hand weapons and crept up the stairs. The stairs ended in a hallway lined with two doors on the right side and one on the left. Light streamed in through the door on the left. Brian paused at the top of the stair frowning thoughtfully then pulled his key chain out of his pocket and tossed it down the hall. The keys slid and clattered down the wooden floor of the hallway making plenty of racket. Doc and Brian waited, muscles tensed to spring or flee depending on what and how many things came out of hiding…
After about five nervy minutes Brian decided that nothing was going to come out so he crept up the stairs hammer ready. Then again they had been making enough noise downstairs that anything up here would have heard them and come looking. The open door on the left looked like it was some kind of storage space as there were boxes stacked around the room. The closet was stuffed with odds and ends of clothing the air heavy with the scent of mothballs. Dust motes floated in the air tickling Brian’s nose as he slowly pushed the door the rest of the way open and tiptoed into the room.
A sneeze like a shotgun blast shook the air. Doc wheeled and faced the unchecked hallway machete raised should something happen to come stumbling out into the hall. Brian sneezed again and again the motion of the air stirring up thick clouds of dust. “Get that shit under control!” Doc hissed over her shoulder.
Brian dug a handkerchief out of his pocket and sneezed into it a couple more times. “You’re supposed to say ‘God bless you’.” he said, his voice muffled by the fabric. The man wiped his nose then stuffed the handkerchief back into his pocket. They waited again ready for something to come bursting out of the closet or out of the room at the end of the hall. Doc cast a pointed look over her shoulder at Brian who only gave her a small shrug. “Sorry.”
Once they were reasonably certain that Brian’s sudden sneezing fit wasn’t about to bring down a horde of flesh eating undead monstrosities on their heads the two of them moved out into the hall. “We’ll check there later.” Brian whispered. “Bound to be something good in there.”
The door at the end of the hall opened into a spacious bedroom. Brian’s mouth curled into a hint of a smile as he crossed to the nightstand and tugged open the drawer while Doc closed the door behind them. “Ha!” he crowed happily. “I knew it!” There was an antique though well cared for revolver in the nightstand. Brian picked it up, liking the feel of the weight in his hand as he pushed the cylinder release forward and grinned. There were six cartridges in the cylinder so he snapped it closed with the palm of his hand and jammed the weapon into the back of his waistband.
Doc glanced over her shoulder at Brian inspecting his prize. She busied herself checking the drawers of the dresser searching through the clothing for anything more useful. So far she had turned up a deck of playing cards with naked women on them (which she left), a small pocket knife (which she slipped into her front pocket) and a tin container filled with coins. On a whim she stuck the coins in an empty pouch on her backpack then went about searching the rest of the dresser.
When they had given the room a quick once over the two of them went back out into the hall to check the room behind the closed door. “What’s behind door number three?” Brian asked quietly. Doc chuckled and rapped on the door. The saying was an old joke between them but it still struck her as kind of funny. When it seemed clear she slowly eased the door open to find the house’s bathroom. A corpse in the bathtub looked up at the woman as she entered. Doc put her machete in its head before the animated corpse could rise and pulled it free with a grunt of effort.
A search of the bathroom turned up some recently expired aspirin, some allergy pills, two scented candles and (most importantly) four rolls of toilet paper. Stuffing their prizes into Brian’s backpack they returned to the first room they had entered and set about poking around in all the boxes. The first box Brian opened contained nothing but old dishes covered with a thick furry coat of dust. He frowned and set it on the floor to go through the one under it.
“I got a box of old books here.” Doc said as she rooted through a container on the other side of the room “Think we should take it?” Not waiting for a response she took the box over to the door and set it down then went back to the stack of cartons she had been going through. The woman flipped back the cardboard flaps and ran a trembling hand over what she found inside. A soft blue baby blanket…a knot of baby clothes…Doc gritted her teeth and set the box aside.
Brian glanced out the window as he opened a carton. It looked like some winter clothes packed away for the summertime by the owners of the house. He took the carton over to where Doc had set the box of books down. “C’mon. I think we’re about done here.” Brian said at last as he tried to get a look at where they had parked the truck. “Let’s take these and try our luck someplace else.”
They put the cartons in the bed of the truck and climbed into the cab. In a matter of moments Brian had the vehicle parked in front of the bigger house on the other side of the street. There had been a small blacktop road leading to the…well…the word farmhouse didn’t fit this structure. This was a McMansion: one of the spacious multi-level homes for the upwardly mobile manufactured by the dozen before the real estate market went belly up back in the mid-2000’s.
Brian noticed that the roof looked like it was in terrible shape as they waited out front. He hoped that the place was still sound. Brian had been a teacher before the current state of affairs made him have to take a permanent sabbatical and had worked summers as a construction worker. His mind drifted for a moment, thinking about how much work would have to be done to repair the wind and water damage to the building’s roof.
A figure stumbled through the thick trees off to their left crunching leaves and branches underfoot. The telltale lack of stealth told Doc that it was one of the walking corpses and not a living person. They waited for the solitary form to stumble and trip its way through the thick underbrush and into the driveway. Brian slapped its groping hands away and put its lights out with his hammer leaving what might have been somebody’s grandpa once lying on the blacktop.
The two of them waited a couple more minutes to see if Grandpa Zombie had come to visit all on his own or if he had brought the whole family. Finally Doc climbed the stone stairs leading to a glass door that was meant to look like it was made from old fashioned leaded glass and peered through it. “Looks clear.” she said quietly as Brian walked over to stand at the foot of the stair. “There’s a little…what do you call ’em? Mud room and then a foyer.”
Brian nodded and Doc tried the door. “Locked.” she grumbled and looked around. The woman reached up to feel around on a small ledge above the door and grinned when her fingers found something small and metallic. Doc fitted the key in the lock and eased the door open. There were pairs of shoes arranged in neat pairs just inside the door on the tile floor of the mud room. “I think we might find what we’re looking for here.” Doc whispered motioning towards the three children’s sized shoes.
The heavily water damaged floorboards creaked and groaned under their feet as they crept through the entryway and into a large family room. A massive flat screen television dominated one corner of the room with a huge fireplace a few feet away. The furniture also spoke of the wealth of the house’s former owners: the couch and chairs were upholstered in fine leather tacked down with brass. There were still framed pictures sitting on top of the mantelpiece. Brian avoided looking at them as he stepped into the room hammer ready.
The layout of the first floor was open enough that they could see pretty much everything from where they stood in the family room. There was a large oval shaped table made of dark stained wood with a few chairs scattered around it in the back corner and an area that was separated from the rest of the floor by a half wall with a counter top built into the space. “Kitchen.” Brian whispered and motioned towards the spot they couldn’t see.
The two of them crept as quietly as possible to the opening revealing what used to be a nice kitchen. The floor was covered in tile with granite counter tops with stainless steel doodads arranged on them that Doc could only guess what most of them were for. She stepped into the area and contemplated opening the fridge but thought better of it. Without power to keep the food inside cold it would have all spoiled ages ago. “I’ll start in here.” she volunteered.
Brian nodded and made a beeline for the entertainment center. He knelt and started running his index finger along the backs of the actually rather impressive DVD collection on display. “C’mon…c’mon…” he muttered under his breath as he searched “It’s gotta be here…” Brian’s finger froze over the back of one of the movies in the middle of the bottom shelf.
Doc found one of those reusable shopping bags that had been all the rage. She reflected that now recycling your plastic shopping bags was probably pretty low on everyone’s list of priorities. The woman snorted a tiny laugh at her own internal joke as she pulled open cabinets and started going through the stuff inside. She found a few cans of various fruits and vegetables in the second cabinet, more flour in a Tupperware container, some dry pasta… “Holy shit!” Doc pulled a box off out of the cabinet over the top of the refrigerator. “There ya are ya spongy yella delicious bastards!”
Doc leaned forward showing Brian an entire unopened and miraculously non-rodent chewed box of Twinkies.
“Doc, you are awesome.” Brian said happily as he picked up a movie and held it up “Found it. Let’s take a quick look around and get back to the house.” Brian stowed his newly acquired copy of The Princess Bride in his backpack along with a few other movies that looked like they might be good as Doc finished stuffing what food she could find into the shopping bag. It wasn’t much but it was more than they had and well…they had Danny’s birthday presents.
Just as she exited the kitchen a board let out a loud groan under her feet. Doc and Brian had just enough time to exchange puzzled looks and then the floor gave way underneath the woman. Brian leaped forward hoping to catch Doc before she fell into the basement but missed. Doc had her hands on either side of the hole arms trembling with the effort of keeping herself from falling through but leaving her legs kicking in the air of the level beneath her. “I’m alright.” she told Brian as she tried to wriggle up through the hole.
Then she felt a hand brush against her pants leg.
“OH HOLY SHIT!” Doc screamed kicking her feet furiously as if that would make her shoot up out of the hole. “HELP ME, BRIAN! SOMETHING TOUCHED MY LEG!” She kicked so hard that her sweaty palms almost slipped on the dusty floor.
Brian caught the woman under her arms and pulled dragging Doc out of the hole with a grunt of effort. Somehow she ended up on top of him breathing heavily and seemingly almost on the verge of hysterics. He gently pushed the woman off of him then stood and helped her up. Brian pulled a small flashlight out of his pocket and moved towards the edge of the hole Doc had made in the floor peering into the dimly lit space under their feet.
A half dozen swollen doughy faces stared up at him making hungry gurgling noises in the backs of their throats as their hands clawed at the air. I think we found the owners… Brian thought, his mind reeling on a wave of nausea. He turned to Doc. “C’mon. I think we’re about done here.” he said quickly as he turned and tried to not run to the door.
Two days later Brian woke up early and started in on the chores before Danny was usually up and awake. Doc gave him a hand with the fence which had a few more zombies stuck to it than usual…but that was the chance they took running one of the vehicles. Sometimes the local zeds might be coming around for up to a week drawn in by the sound of the engine but the fences held them. The two of them entered the kitchen just as Danny was coming down the stairs.
The boy stared curiously at the packages wrapped in newspaper sitting on the dining room table. “What’s that?” he asked as he started to help get the table set. Danny was pretty sure that somebody was playing a joke or something but he wasn’t sure what it was or who it was on.
Brian looked at his son, his brow furrowed in confusion. “It’s your birthday.” he said quietly his face brightening as his son realized that his dad wasn’t kidding. “These are for you. Terrance and Doc helped me pick them out.”
Danny opened the DVD player and the movies followed by the package of batteries to run it carefully. The newsprint was thin and pretty rare so it couldn’t just be ripped up like before. “Oh wow!” the boy said excitedly as he admired his gifts. “Thanks, Dad! Thanks, Terrance and Doc!” He pushed back from the table and gave them hugs. Doc hissed when Danny’s forehead pressed against the nasty scrape on her stomach she got falling through the floor.
Danny and his father sat on the couch and got the DVD player out of the box then put the batteries. Doc got the box of Twinkies out of the hiding place in the back of the cabinet. She plopped down on the couch next to Brian and his son distributing the plastic wrapped treats while Brian tried to get the video working. “Sorry.” she said quietly “The best we can do for a birthday cake, buddy.”
Karen was about to sit down in one of the chairs then jumped up and ran into the kitchen. She dug around in one of the drawers and came back with a little yellow cardboard box and a lighter in her hands. “Lemme see your Twinkie, Danny.” she said taking the snack cake from the boy then opening the box and inserting one thin orange candle into it. After a couple attempts Karen got the candle lit and carefully set the Twinkie on its wrapper next to the DVD player.
They quietly sang the happy birthday song and Danny blew out the candle.

New(ish) Short Story, Book Progress and Stuff

HERE’S A LINK TO MY AUTHOR’S PAGE ON AMAZON!

Hello all! How’s things? I’m doing much better since I last posted. Sorry it’s been awhile. I’ve been back to work for the last couple of weeks. My legs are still being kinda stupid but I’m getting by so hurrah for that. So…anyways…let’s get to it, right?
I’m about two thirds of the way through the first draft of the new Fantasy novel I’ve been working on. I just wrapped up chapter six the other day and I was planning on going to ten (I like nice even numbers…what can I say…). It’s looking like it’s going to be a series of books though how long of a series it’s going to be is unknown right now. Still, I’m having a lot of fun working on it and I hope you’ll all enjoy it when it’s finished.

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Here’s a picture I colored in of Leanna, the main character of my Sell-Sword Cycle stories, getting ready to face down an opponent in the arena (hence the chainmail bikini ‘armor’) in The Sands of Mantius.

There’s a new(ish) short story up on my Author’s Page available for viewing through the link at the top of the post (plug plug shameless plug). I went back and rewrote a story I published earlier called The Sands of Mantius after I fine tuned the main character then republished it. So it’s available for purchase right now (or free if you’re an Kindle Unlimited subscriber).
And Fun Fact: I used an actual practice from Ancient Rome as an inspiration for the plot of The Sands of Mantius. It wasn’t much talked about (as it was pretty illegal and underhanded and nasty) but you could actually rent gladiators out as hired muscle. Basically it worked like this.
Say you’re a wealthy patrician or maybe even of the senatorial class and there’s this piece of land that you’ve had your eye on. Maybe it’s right next to your property or maybe you think it’d make a really great place to put a new villa. Maybe a friend clued you in as to the route of a new road or aqueduct. However there’s one little hitch. Somebody else already owns it. Some jumped up freedman or what have you and he’s turned down every offer you’ve made.
So, at your wit’s end, you send your most trusted household slave to find a man who will find a man who will find a man who will come to me. I’m a Lanista and I run a school where the gladiators are housed and trained. You wouldn’t dream of coming yourself, by the way. My social standing is somewhere below actors and just above the slaves I’ve trained to violently dismember each other for your amusement. I’d best cross the street if I saw you coming if I knew what was good for me.
Anyway your man tells me he wants a couple gladiators for a private exhibition at your house. We haggle over the price but chances are good that the man would probably let me get my way (as long as I understood that this was a PRIVATE exhibition). You could always just go hire a couple mooks off the street to do what you want but there’s always the chance that those guys get a little worked up and…next thing you know you’re looking at a murder charge (or more likely a couple angry relatives coming around looking to make you a head shorter). If you hire my gladiators they’ll know exactly when to stop to get the desired results. They’re highly trained professionals in the art of throwing some jerk a beating, after all.
So at the agreed upon time I send my two highly trained (and well paid off) face shanking machines to the place I was told. And just by coincidence that guy that owned that property you wanted turns up with two broken knees and a bunch of bruises.
He can’t work his land anymore so that money you were offering sounds a lot better. Of course you’d probably not offer him as much since now he’s (literally) hurting to sell. And, of course, none of it will get back to you. There’s enough layers of insulation between the two of us (and they know either you’ll ruin them with money or…you know…I’ll just have their shit wrecked and dumped in a river some place).
So anyways that’s all I got for right now. Click the link at the top of the post to check out my Author’s Page and buy my books. I’m also on Facebook and THE TWITTER so you can follow me there too. If you’ve read my stuff and you liked it please take a moment to write a review on the book(s) page. It really means a lot and the good reviews make it turn up faster in people’s searches on Amazon. Also you’re helping a former soldier pay his bills while he waits for the VA to hurry up and approve his disability so there’s that too. Have a nice day!

Fantasy Novel Progress and Other Things…

HERE’S A LINK TO MY AMAZON AUTHOR’S PAGE!

Hello, everyone! How are you? I’m doing…alright. Still not at work and I’m running really low on cash… I’ve got an appointment this Tuesday (finally) with a neurosurgeon to find out what exactly is wrong with the nerve in my back. I had to run into the emergency room last Friday because I had a massive flare up and I ran out of some of my meds that keep it under control.
Though on the positive side, I’ve been being pretty proactive about promoting my books. I’ve found groups on Facebook that let me post links to my stuff and we all help each other by liking and sharing each other’s stuff which is cool. It’s still not enough but I’m making more sales than I was plus I’m getting some more reviews (thanks again Amazon user L.A. Otts for the 4 star review) so yay there. You can Follow me on Facebook here.
I also had my very first public appearance as an author person this past Saturday at an office space that a friend of mine is renting. He’s going to set up his own independent publishing company in my area so I really look forward to working with him more in the future. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some paperbacks of my books to sell out of the trunk of my car or whatever at some point. ha ha ha
I’ve also just finished the fourth chapter in the new novel that I’m working on. I’m really happy with where it’s going and I think it’s going to be a really fun read when it’s done. It’s going to be awhile before it’s done but I’m confident that I’ll actually see this one through to the end.
I’m also thinking of taking a day or so when I can to do another one of my Leanna stories set in the same world as the novel to help generate more interest in the upcoming novel. The first three stories are available through the link at the top of the post.
So I guess that’s about all I got for right now. Again, if you’re interested in my books click the link at the top of the post. I’m on Facebook and Twitter so you can get in contact with me there too. If you’ve read my stuff and enjoyed it please take a moment to write a review as that’s a huge help in generating more interest in my work. Thanks and have a nice day!

Book Updates, Headaches and Other Things…

HERE’S A LINK TO MY AMAZON AUTHOR’S PAGE!

 

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Me and my (now) middle nephew. I gave him a patrol cap for his birthday. 🙂

Hello everyone! How are you? I’m doing alright. Well…okay…a little less than alright. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts and such that I’ve served in the U.S. Army and I’ve had some health issues come up over the past year or so. Well…now it’s gotten to the point where I’m physically incapable of working for what looks like the near future. It’s a hard thing to admit because I’m still fairly young (I turn 34 next month) but I’ve got a degenerating disk in my lower back which has resulted in some pretty serious nerve damage. I have trouble getting around due to the weakness and numbness in my legs.
I’ve applied to the VA for disability benefits and I’ve been waiting to hear back for about five months now. In the mean time I’ve been getting treatment for my back issues as they come up…however the drugs that they’ve given me have pretty much stopped working. It’s pretty much looking like I’ll end up having to have surgery on my back to (hopefully) fix the damage. Fun fact: the highlight of my week last week was the civilian ER doctor I saw who told me the care I got from the VA was quote “wholly inadequate and untimely” after reading the report from the MRI I had done four months ago.
I’ve got about one more full paycheck coming from my civilian job and my contract ends with the Army Reserve tomorrow so…I’m running head first into some pretty serious money problems because I was barely scraping by before my legs decided to go and be stupid. I’ve applied for Social Security Disability and hopefully I’ll get approved for that so I’ll have a little bit of money coming in from that.
However, if you’re interested in helping me out click the link at the top of the post and buy my books. Take a minute and write a good review of my works so they’ll move up in Amazon’s search rankings and it will come up faster in their product searches. I SET UP A PATREON ACCOUNT where you can donate some money in exchange for some commission work and access to some neat little ‘behind the scenes’ stuff for my zombie fiction and the Fantasy novel I’m working on.
So other things: I’ve had plenty of time to work on the new book. I really like where it’s going and I’m pleased with the progress I’m making on it. I’ve started the third chapter today and I can’t wait to see where it goes. I’m not going to give away too much of the plot right now (mainly because I’ve only got the vaguest notion where it’s going myself right now) but it’s going to be a really fun read when it’s done.
If you’d like an idea of the world the new book takes place in take a look at my Fantasy short stories available through the link at the top of the post (plug plug shameless plug). Depending on what happens regarding my health issues I will try and publish more of the little side adventures of one of my characters while still working on the main book. So be on the lookout for that. 🙂
So that’s all I got for right now. Please click the link at the top of the page and look at my books. If you like them please take a moment to write a review. You can also FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK and THE TWITTER if you like if you felt like stalking me online. Because that would be super. Thanks and have a nice day!

Viking Memes! :D

HERE’S A LINK TO MY AMAZON AUTHOR’S PAGE!

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