Short Story Continued

They sat in silence while they finished smoking.  A blue haze filled the room, and definitely didn’t smell good.  The skunky aroma of the marijuana, mixed with the stench of the burning tobacco, didn’t make for an appetizing smell.

Mike walked over to one of the coolers and pulled out two bottles of water.  He walked back over to Roger and tossed him one of the lukewarm bottles. They both drank deeply to ease their burning throats.

Mike finished eating, but he knew he was wasting time. His intention was to stop for something to eat and find a new vehicle.  One of the items could be checked off his list, but it was time to move on and finish his task.  He just felt comforted by the fact people were still alive; something he thought would be impossible.

“Let me ask you, Roger, do you have a car?  With fuel?”

“Of course I do, man.  It’s got a little more than half left in the tank.”  He could see that this question made the boy anxious.  “Why, man?”

“You can settle down, Roger.”  He chuckled.  “I have no intention of stealing your car.”

“Oh yeah, you showed up in an SUV.  Why are you asking then?”

“Well that’s just it.  My car is nearly out of gas, and with no power, I have no way to fill it up.  I was going to ask you if you could give me a ride to Waterton Canyon, that is if you have nothing else going on?”  Mike chuckled knowing full well that Roger more than likely had nothing else to do.

Roger considered the proposition.  “Of course, man.  But why do you want to go to the canyon?  There’s nothing there.  It’s just a recreational area.  Unless…you’re going there to escape whatever it is that’s going on here, aren’t you?  I will take you but you have to keep me with you.  I don’t want whatever is out there to get me.  And we can stock up on provisions right here, man.”  Roger started grabbing as much as he could carry from the shelves.

“It’s not exactly that, Roger.  Everything that is happening is kind of my fault.”  He could see the anger on Roger’s face.  He must have lost a lot of friends and maybe some family members. “I am actually heading southwest of Wateron Canyon.  There is a top secret military base hidden deep in the mountains.  That is where I need to go.”

“This is all your fault?  You’re a monster.” He said between gritted teeth.

Mike tried to approach Roger.  “Calm down.  I said this was my fault, not that I slaughtered all of these people.  Now I need to ensure that I put an end to it.  I can take one of the cars in the parking lot, but I have come to enjoy your company.  Considering I am going to die soon, and more than likely you will too, I figured it might be nice to have some company for our last hours.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, man.  I never agreed to a suicide mission.  I’m not looking to die,”

Mike pulled out the pack of cigarettes and lit another one, taking a long drag.  “I hate to break it to you, Roger, but at this point you are going to die.  Not by a gunshot or in a similar manner as those poor innocent souls out there, but by what I have to do when I arrive back at the base.  It’s the only way and it has to be done.”

“You’re crazy, man.  I don’t like the way you’re talking.  None of us are going to die.  Whatever did this has moved on.”

Mike rubbed his hand on his forehead.  “You’re not listening, Roger.  Look, let me just tell you what happened and what I have to do, and you can consider whether or not you want to help me.  Can you agree to that?”

Roger considered what was being asked for a moment.  “I suppose I could do that.  But I don’t think I will go along with whatever you have in mind.”

Mike took another drag.  “We will see about that.  This all started yesterday when I arrived on base.  See my main purpose was to study and understand something.  For fifteen years I have been doing this, and I finally thought I had cracked the code.  For the last week we put a plan in place, with safety protocols mind you, but we weren’t prepared for what happened…”

Short Story

Here are pages 8 & 9

The station sat dark and appeared empty.  He grabbed his flashlight from the duffle bag before making his way inside.  He heard a noise from the end of the store and clicked on his flashlight to see.  He grabbed his 9mm and reflexively thumbed back the safety.  He made a sweep with his flashlight and gun, when a head popped up.

“Who are you?”

“Whoa, whoa, man.  What do you think you are doing?”  The stranger threw his arms up in the air, dropping the armful of food he carried.

Mike put his gun away.  The man was young, in his early twenties, obviously not a threat to him.  “I’m just trying to get food.  No different than you.”  His eyes scanned the store.  He spotted potato chips, and made his way over to the aisle.  The stranger eyed him suspiciously.  “You should really be careful young man.  It’s dangerous out there.  I hope you have a weapon.”

The young man kept his distance as Mike walked through the store.  “I haven’t seen anyone all day, man.  How… how did you survive?”

Mike grabbed a bag of pork rinds and a bag of chips.  He walked around to the next aisle and grabbed a package of cinnamon rolls.  He ripped them open and ate the pastry.  “My name is Mike, and it’s a long story.  How did you survive?”

“My name’s Roger.”  He started to feel more comfortable and stopped keeping his distance.  “I was camping outside of Deckers.  I returned just before noon and found the city like this.  I went back to my apartment and found bodies dismembered everywhere.  I was afraid to go in, and quickly left, hiding in a culvert.  As the sun set I realized I was hungry and needed to find food.  Which brought me here.  I have been hiding and eating in here ever since.”  His eyes drifted to the ground.  “What happened, man?”

Mike finished the rolls before replying.  “Again, long story.”  He noticed the change in stature of Roger as he realized Mike might have something to do with this terror.  “Relax, Roger.  In a way, yes this is my fault, but it’s deeper than that.  It’s not like I went out and killed all of these people.”  He looked at the cash register and his eyes lit up.  He quickly walked behind the counter and grabbed a pack of cigarettes.  They weren’t even his brand, but he didn’t care.  At least they weren’t menthol.

He removed the cellophane and pulled out one of the magical death sticks.  He smelled it before placing it in his mouth.  He patted his coat pocket to find matches, but remembered they were in the duffle bag.  He scanned the checkout counter and spotted a display of lighters.  He eagerly grabbed one and lit the cigarette.  He took a long, deep drag and savored the flavor as the smoke filled his lungs.  He exhaled deeply and temporarily forgot his worries.

Roger watched as Mike enjoyed his smoke.  Mike had given up smoking on a promise he made to his wife many years ago when they found out she was pregnant with their first child.  It was a promise he had never broken, but was one he never really cared for.  He took another drag.

“You shouldn’t do that in here, man.  Don’t you know the law?”

Mike chuckled.  “Do you really think it matters?  Is anyone going to come in here and stop me?”

Roger walked through the store and came closer to Mike.  “No.  I guess not.”  He pulled a joint out from behind his ear. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”  He stuck it in his mouth and lit it.  He took a long drag and offered the joint to Mike.

Mike shook his head at the offering.  “No thanks.  I never cared for marijuana myself, but by all means.”

Short Story

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The story continues.

Pages 6-7

He approached the cloverleaf on-ramp of the highway to head west. He slowed his car and crawled to a stop.  Two cars blocked the ramp and he couldn’t see a clear way for him to get through.  He looked around in all directions to see if he spotted any movement. When he was comfortable it was safe, he got out and ran to one of the cars.

He opened the door to the first car and the stench of death, urine, and feces hit him like a ton of bricks. The woman in the driver’s seat—at least he thought it was a woman based on her clothing—had only a stump where her head should be.  He pulled her out of the car and let her body slump to the ground with an audible thump.  His stomach suddenly churned, and he ran to the side of the road to vomit.  Tears streamed down his face, while spit and chunks of partially-digested food clung to his chin.

Relieved, he ran back to the car and moved it out of the way.  With the path cleared, he got back in his own, and continued on his way.  He collided with a car as he made his way through.  The damage appeared only cosmetic, though.

The sun steadily fell behind the mountains and soon it would be dark.  He knew his job would be more difficult once the sun disappeared.  Travel was difficult, and he found himself off the road more than on it, but so far the issue at the on-ramp had been a singular event. However, he still barely crawled along at a speed in the mid to upper twenties.  It felt painful to Mike, and he didn’t know how long he could handle the kiddie music.  Although he thought it better than his own demons trying to overtake the thoughts in his head.

He drove onto the shoulder to maneuver around a car a little bit too fast.  He hit a patch of muddy ground and lost control.  He over-steered when he tried to correct, driving over a corpse lying on the highway, and slamming into the rear of a van. His head went through the door window from the force of the collision and cut his head.  The force of the impact knocked him unconscious.

Back on the Road

He awoke to a painful headache and a broken vehicle.  He struggled out of the SUV and walked around to the destroyed front end. He got down on his hands and knees only to find out the radiator had a hole.  Fluid leaked everywhere and Mike knew he wouldn’t be able to drive any further.  He had to make his way west of Waterton Canyon, and it would be too far to walk.  Fortunately, he cars in running condition surrounded him; the interiors were a different story.

He needed an SUV or truck considering the state of the road, and he looked around to find a suitable replacement.  He spotted a newe,r black SUV a few cars up, and made his way over to it.  It had been lifted with oversized tires, suiting his needs perfectly.  He opened the door, surprised to find it empty and the keys still in the ignition.  What luck, he thought.

He ran back, grabbing his duffle bag from his no longer useful vehicle before commandeering the new SUV.  As he expected, it started as soon as he turned the key.  Just like that, he was back on the road, not that the highway was any easier to traverse.  He liked the new SUV; it was quite comfortable. He settled in and turned on his high beams to see the road better now that the sun had gone down.  It struck him as funny, normally he would never drive with his high beams on like this, but what did it matter now.

He only made it about 5 miles in the hour that ensued.  The crowded roads and pitch blackness of night made it more difficult to drive, and he paid the price.  He caught a yellow flashing light next to his speedometer; it was the low fuel light.  In his haste to be back on his way, he neglected to check the fuel gauge before he embarked.  Out of frustration, he pounded his fist on the dashboard.  What were the odds he would pick one a car with low fuel.  Now he would have to find another one.

His stomach started to growl, a reminder he needed to eat.  He hadn’t had a thing since last night and his stomach reminded him of his hunger.  He decided to take the next exit and find a gas station.  Without power, he wouldn’t be able to get any gas, but he hoped he could grab some food and find another car in the parking lot.

Even with his high beams on, the darkness made it difficult to see as he drove down the off-ramp.  Fortunately, he often stopped at this gas station on his way into work and knew it wouldn’t be a problem to make his way to it.

He kept his eyes on alert, and searched the vicinity as he made his way to the gas station to make sure he didn’t see any movement.  He hadn’t seen any of them since earlier in the day, and hoped they had moved on, but you could never be too certain so he examined the empty fields.

Aside

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Here is page 5 of the short story.

Page 5

Mike tried to stay focused on the road, looking far in advance of his current position to make adjustments in time; although never able to get his speed above twenty-five.  It was eerie how empty the town looked and felt.  Everywhere he looked there were cars, but it like time had frozen.  Nothing moved.  There wasn’t even a breeze strong enough to move tree branches, or blow trash across the road.  He looked over at an empty field that would normally be filled with a colony of prairie dogs, but now sat motionless. It sent a shiver up his spine.

The silence grated on his nerves.  He instinctively reached and turned on the radio to liven up the mood in the car, but forgot the power was out through the city, so all he was able to pick up was static.  He hit his hand on the steering wheel out of frustration. 

He rummaged through the middle console, careful not to take his eyes off the road for too long, in the hopes of finding some music.  All he could find was one of his kid’s compact discs. While cursing, he jammed it into the radio and was immediately serenaded by a rousing rendition of “The Wheels On The Bus”.  At first he found the childish tune to be annoying, but he slowly came around and soon found himself singing right along with it.  The music helped to take his mind off the task at hand, and he could relax a little.  In fact, after a while he found himself thankful for the CD-player even though they were antiquated in the current times.

By the time he made it through all of the songs on the disc, he approached the highway; not that traversing the concrete jungle would be easy.  Yesterday when he made his way home chaos ensued, but he had no choice.  He had to return to the scene of the crime.

He turned on to the highway and headed north.  He only drove a mile before getting on another highway, heading west.  The congestion was far worse than it had been the day before.  Cars were packed nose to tail, and corpses lay everywhere.  Some were still in their cars; blood splattered, filling the interior of the vehicle.  Others had tried to run; their corpses in pieces lying on the pavement.

He had to drive on the breakdown lane, and in some cases the dirt and grass, to make his way down the highway.  The rumble strips were annoying, and felt as though they were going to shake the SUV apart.

 

 

Short Story – Page 3 & 4

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And the story continues.  I am working on a couple ideas for the title.  When I have it narrowed down, I will post them for feedback.

Page 3 and 4

Last night he made Molotov cocktails and they were all lined up in a row on his counter. He packed them into a small, old milk crate.  He ran to his bedroom and into his closet.  He started tossing clothing over his head, out of the closet, and into the bedroom.  He searched for a red duffle bag he knew his wife kept in the closet.  His thoughts drifted to his wife and he had to choke back the tears. Stay focused.  Now is not the time.

He found the bag in the back corner of their closet.  He grabbed it and ran back to the kitchen.  He stuffed the milk crate into the bag, along with the Glocks and spare magazines.  It wasn’t much of an arsenal, but it had to be enough.  With the bag packed, he pulled out a notepad and searched their junk drawer for a working pen.  When he found one, he took it and the pad back to the table and sat down once again.

 He wrote slowly, so that whoever discovered the note would be able to understand it.  He wanted his writing to be crisp and concise.  The people, the survivors, had to know what happened, and this was his only chance.

He wrote the letter for well over a half hour.  He read it over multiple times, to ensure that the reader would get the message.  He made several revisions, before settling on the final draft.  It took much longer than originally anticipated.  He neatly folded the sheets and wrote a message on the outside. 

They used one of the bedrooms as an office, and in it was a large, floor standing safe.  He opened the safe and placed the letter inside.  If he succeeded, he would be fifty miles away. He hoped it was far enough the safe would survive.  No use worrying about it; there was nothing he could do about it now.

 A Move to Action

Mike grabbed his duffle bag and put his now dry jacket back on.  He brushed aside the curtains once more and thoroughly checked the back yard.  Satisfied no one was lurking in the dark, he turned off the propane heater, grabbed his large box of matches and carefully opened the back door.

He looked one more time, before stepping out.  His SUV was in the driveway, and he ran to it, tossing the duffle bag in the backseat, before climbing in and starting up the engine.  He jammed the SUV into reverse, and squealed his tires exiting his driveway.  He took off down the street and headed west.  The sun set behind the Rocky Mountains, creating an orange and purple filled sky.  Mike enjoyed the moment, realizing this was probably one of—if not the—last sunsets he would ever see.  It truly was majestic, and a sight to behold.

As he navigated through his neighborhood, he was glad he had talked his wife into buying an SUV.  Cars were stopped, broken and battered, with car doors open, and parts littered the street.  Blood and body parts lay everywhere and Mike had to drive over curbs and onto lawns to actually make it out onto the main street.

It was truly amazing to consider what could happen in less than 24 hours.  The main roads weren’t much better, but at least there was more room to navigate.  It all happened so quickly, and he was fortunate it had taken place during the middle of the afternoon when people were still at work; not that anything that transpired in the last 24 hours could be classified as fortunate.

Short Story – Page 2

Here is the second page of the short story.  Please keep in mind that I am still editing this and making adjustments as I go along. 

Page 2

The room felt more comfortable and the warmth returned to his body, drying his clothes as the temperature increased.  He knew you were never supposed to run a propane powered device inside a home, but what did he care if it blew up.  No. He thought.  I started this.  I have to finish it.

He walked back to the table and sat down.  Feeling angry with himself, and overwhelmed by the grief resulting from the loss of his wife and two children, he started to cry.  They were his world and his whole reason for existing.  Without them he felt lost and empty inside.  The pit of his stomach churned, upset by the feelings coursing through his mind.

He had to shake them off, though.  He had something that he needed to accomplish.  This is all my fault, and I have to rectify it.  He reached to his shoulder harness and pulled out his two Beretta M9s. He then dug into his coat pocket to find the spare magazines he carried.  He had three of them with fifteen rounds a piece, plus the two loaded magazines in the guns.  He set them on the table before digging in the box.  He pulled out the two Glock 22s that he pulled off a dead officer earlier in the day.  He hadn’t been able to find any more magazines on the officer, meaning he had 105 shots total. I just hope it will be enough.

On the counter he had a cleaning kit, so he grabbed it and proceeded to clean and oil all four weapons.  Seeing as how the Glocks belonged to someone else, he wanted to examine them more closely so he would know if he could trust them when the time came.

The time quickly slipped by, and the distraction of cleaning the guns did its trick, but he knew he had to be on his way soon.  He had things to do, and a short period-of-time to accomplish it.  Tomorrow would be too late, he had to do this today.

Satisfied all of the guns met with his approval, and he would be able to trust them in a bind, he admired them as they sat on his table.  He reflected a little while longer on his loss, before he toured his home one last time.  He savored the moment for as long as it lasted.  His family had lived in this home for ten years.  Ten years of memories was difficult to give up.  He looked at his bed, where he made love to his wife for the first, and many more times.  He stared at the living room floor where both of his children had taken their first steps.  Tears welled up in his eyes, before trickling down his cheeks.  He wiped them away and shook his head to clear the flood of emotions flowing through his body.  There was no time to dwell any longer.

Untitled Short Story – Page 1

I wrote a short story a couple of weeks ago, and I know I should be working on book 2, but this idea hit me and I had to get it down.  Besides, it only took me away from book 2 for a week. 🙂

Anyway, I wrote this story and I wanted to get people’s opinions on it.  I am going to release it a page at a time, every couple of days, so be sure to check back often.  And I am looking for any kind of feedback you may have to offer. I hope you enjoy it.

Untitled

An Empty Home

Mike stormed through the door of his 1960s ranch style home and entered the kitchen.  Rain drops poured off his face and arms, collecting on the tile floor.  He almost slipped as he spun around and frantically locked the deadbolt.  He moved the curtains on the now locked door and quickly searched the shadow filled yard.  They are out there, searching, hunting for me, and others like me.  He let the curtains fall back in place and tried to focus on the task at hand.

He turned and dropped the box he carried on the kitchen table.  The kitchen was dark, too dark, and he instinctively reached for the light switch.  Of course when he moved the switch into position nothing happened.  He needed matches and patted his pants pockets, finding the matchbook he was looking for.  I just hope the rain hasn’t soaked deep enough into my clothing to render them useless.  The power had gone out two days ago and now he was forced to rely on candles to provide light.

He pulled the book out and ripped a match free, hoping it was dry enough to spark.  Fortunately it did, and he quickly lit the candles in the center of the table.  He took off his rain soaked coat and hung it on the back of the chair, before dropping into it.  His wet clothes, coupled with the cold kitchen, brought shivers to his body, and his arms broke out in goose bumps.  The lack of electricity meant he also had no heat in his home, which was an issue in the middle of November in Colorado.  He had a propane fueled heater he had been using, but his supply was running low, and it was only a matter of time before it ran out completely.

He considered starting the heater while he continued to shiver, realizing that if his plan actually worked, he wouldn’t need the propane any longer.  He walked to the living room and picked up the heater and brought it to the kitchen.  He used one of the candles to light it and basked in the immediate heat it offered the room.