I made a decision today

So, as anyone who has been following me already knows, I have been working on the third book in The Keepers of the Orbs Series while also writing a standalone Sci-Fi book at the same time. I’m about 50% complete on the next KOTO book, but my focus lately has been on the sci-fi book as I am over 83% and looking to wrap it up.

I know, you’re asking “so what’s the big decision”? Well, I have struggled with the way I was planning on ending The Saukarian Children (that’s the sci-fi story). This was always intended to be a one book thing. That was it. Write it…and move one. The only problem? I don’t think I can. I have fallen in love with the characters, but at the same time I don’t think a happy ending is coming their way. Don’t get me wrong, the three MCs are the heroes of the story and they will get the credit they deserve. But I can’t just leave it at that.

Along those lines, I am changing how the story is going to end. I still have 5 chapters to go, and the way I had intended for it to end when I sat down four months ago, has been scrapped. Without giving too much away, I just don’t think the human race would ever accept the Saukarian Children for what they are. There would naturally be some form of prejudice and hatred coming their way and I think it just makes sense. Then again, it also leaves it open for me to write additional stories down the road 🙂 which is never a bad thing.

Anyway, the story hasn’t even been released yet, but I know there will be some hatred coming my way for the ending and I just wanted to explain myself ahead of time to calm the storm. Not everything can end like a fairy tale, and I think this just makes more sense. If you hate the ending, blame me for falling in love with my characters, and for not wanting to give the final farewell.

 

Advertisements

Writing Update

It has been a while since I posted, and I figured it would be a good idea to post an update. I initially planned to take a week or two off during the Holidays to unwind and enjoy my family (immediate and extended). We got a bit of a surprise when a couple days after Christmas, my wife’s grandma passed away unexpectedly. I took some extra time to support my wife and her family during this difficult time, and haven’t written as much as I expected lately. Only complicating matters, as am I writing this I’m expecting a message any time now that my grandfather has passed away. He has somehow survived for four days without his feeding tube and IV, but it’s only a matter of time (he always was stubborn). He has accepted it and is at peace with it, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the rest of us though. Needless to say, it has been a crappy end of 2015/start of 2016 so far. I don’t expect to do much writing in the next week, but you never know.

It hasn’t been all bad, though. I released Book 1 in The Keepers of the Orbs series, The Rising Past on December 1st, and I broke all of my previous records for single day downloads during a free giveaway. Let’s hope it leads to some additional sales. I’m currently waiting on four reviewers to give me their feedback (in process), but the first few I have received have all been positive. The most recent came in today and can be found HERE.

I am currently about 40-50% through writing the next book in the series and I expect to have it available on Amazon by the end of 2016, with a plan for the final book near the end of 2017 or early 2018.

My editor is currently done with 50% of her final review of another fantasy novel that is unrelated to my series. The title I’m working with is Elves of a Sugar Maple. I am excited by this story. It was originally an idea from my wife about a species of tiny beings who call a giant tree in our backyard home. I took the idea and ran with it. I incorporated many of the issues our society is currently facing (race, religion, sexual orientation, etc) and I’m quite satisfied with how it all came out. I should have it available mid-spring.

I’m also writing a serialized novel for Channillo.com. It is a Sci-Fi story and is an idea I have had for several years now. I’m releasing a chapter a week on Channillo. Currently there are 9 chapters available to read. I plan on making the full novel available on Amazon this summer. If you have a subscription through Channillo, you can access the story HERE.

That is all for now. I continue to squeeze in as much writing as I can as often as is possible.

You can get a copy of The Rising Past for Kindle HERE

The Rising Past Cover

Or  see how it all began by picking up a copy of the Prequel, The Unknown Man HEREAmazon Prequel Cover

Remember, do an author a favor by leaving a review 🙂

 

The End is Near (Part 2)

There is one more section left that will wrap up the story.  I will post that in a day or two.  Until then, here is the second part of The End is Near.

 

Roger cautiously followed him and was greeted with rows and rows of chambers.  There had to be thousands of them.  “What are these?”  He was afraid to ask, but he had to know.

“Eggs. These are all incubation chambers and are the source of the problem.  If our mission fails, at least we can be confident that none of these eggs will ever hatch.  Just think of how many lives can be saved by destroying them right here, right now.” 

Roger shook his head.  He was right, he didn’t want to know.

Mike set the duffle bag on the ground.  He had seven of the incendiary devices left.  He struck a match and lit the first one, before throwing it at the first chamber.  It exploded and sent fluid over several of the other organic chambers, lighting them on fire.  Smiling in satisfaction he grabbed another one and tossed it.  And then another.  Suddenly an alarm blared throughout the room.

Mike knew if any of the creatures were in the ship they would now be on their way.  He handed two of the glass bottles to Roger and took the other two for himself, lighting them as well.  He directed Roger where he wanted him to throw them, and then threw his own.  “Let’s get out of here.”

They stormed out of the chamber and ran back to the stairs.  They climbed four levels and could hear the creatures running behind them.  Mike directed Roger down the corridor.  He turned and shot two of the creatures as they rounded the corner, before catching back up with Roger at the end of the corridor next to a set of double doors.  They heard yelling in an unknown language from down the hall.  The both leveled their guns, ready to shoot.

The grumblings and yelling grew louder as two of the creatures rounded the corner, followed by two more.  Luckily the narrow corridor only allowed two of them to fit two side-by-side.  Mike aimed for the left and Roger to the right.  The creatures in the front fell and were trampled by the next two as they continued their march, only to be taken down as well.  They could hear more creatures coming.

“Roger, I couldn’t have done this without you.”  He turned and looked at the double doors.  “The control room is in there.  I need five or six minutes.”

“Go.  I can handle this.”  His body shook from the adrenaline coursing through his body.

Mike handed him both of the Berettas.  “Here are three more magazines.  This is all of the ammo we have left.”

Roger took the guns and handed him one of the Glocks.  Mike knew there were only a couple of shots left in it, but hopefully Mike wouldn’t need it. “Just go.  Quite wasting time.  I can’t die at the hands of one of those things.”  He grabbed Mike’s arm. “Promise me this will work, and that I won’t die from them.  Promise me!”

“I promise, Roger.  It has been an honor and I am glad I ran into you.”  He saluted Roger who motioned him forward.

Mike turned toward the door and punched a code into the control panel to open the doors.  Electronics filled the room and a large view screen took up the whole wall in the front.

He walked over to one of the panels and sat down.  He heard gunshots from outside. Sweat dripped down his face and he blinked his eyes to focus on the controls.  He started entering commands.  It all came down to his fifteen years of study and training.  He knew these controls better than anyone else on his team.

Minutes ticked by as shots and screaming rang out though the corridor outside the control room.  It distracted him and his task was more difficult as sweat now poured down his face, filling his eyes.

He heard a scream, barely, from the corridor.  “Hurry Mike.  I am almost out of bullets and they’re still coming.”

He typed in the final command and watched the screen blink.  He sat back and sighed as the blinking on the screen increased.  He may have caused this problem, but now he it would be over.  More shots rang out as his thoughts drifted to his family.  His sweet innocent family.  He was still shocked any of this had happened.  Suddenly the control panel started a series of beeps.  He sat forward in his chair.  I have done it. I am coming home.  I love you.  He closed his eyes as an explosion ripped through the ship.  He felt a blast of heat that instantly burned the flesh from his bones, before everything went white.

The End is Near (Part 1)

The End is Near

The last half mile of the walk had been uneventful.  He started to regret bringing Roger with him as everything had been so easy.  Although they couldn’t see it in the limited light, Mike knew the hangar sat only a couple hundred feet further.

They rounded a corner and put the light on the hangar doors.  Curiously, Mike noticed the doors were closed, which wasn’t the way he had left them.  He wished there were windows in the door so he could see what was going on inside, but alas there wasn’t.

“It will take both of us to move these doors.  Be ready, anything could be lurking inside.” He motioned for him to take the left door and he applied all of his weight and force on the right.  The doors slowly slid open, and they kept pushing with all of their might until they opened wide enough for them to walk through. They could hear clamoring on the other side.  Mike brought his flashlight up and focused it inside.  Three of the creatures were bearing down on them.  Roger could see them in detail for the first time.  They had large beady black eyes, large mouths that displayed teeth that could cut through bone, and where there should have been hands they had large razor sharp claws.  A green liquid dripped from their fangs.

Mike reached for his gun and began firing.  They were quick, damn quick, which made it difficult for him to aim.  At this point they would be sitting ducks.  He ordered Roger to back up.  “Get back and begin firing when they try to breach the doors.”  He yelled.  Mike kept firing while Roger backed up and got into position. 

Roger backed up and gave himself room to shoot.  He started taking shots as the creatures tried to squeeze through the door.  He aimed for the head and was amazed when he had to put multiple shots into the first creature before it fell to the ground, screaming in agony.  He noticed Mike digging in the duffle bag as he ran back to join him.  Three of the creatures were now at the door, fighting with one another as they tried to make their way through. 

Mike reached Roger’s side and he had a glass bottle in his hand with a rag sticking out the top.   “Keep firing.  Do NOT let them through!”  He struck a match on the concrete floor and lit the rag in the bottle.  The rag must have been soaked in a flammable material because it immediately went up in a flash of flame.

With the rag lit, Mike threw the glass bottle at the creatures.  It collided on the steel doors and shattered, sending flaming liquid at the creatures.  They screamed in agony as they ran and tried to put it out, taking them back into the hangar and out sight.

Mike walked back toward the doors with his gun drawn and flashlight aimed in front of him.  He heard the cries of the creatures die down and stop all together.  He waited by the doors and listened.  After a few moments of silence he aimed the flashlight inside the hangar; not that he could see much in the limited light the flashlight provided. Still nothing moved from what he could see or hear, so he walked inside motioning Roger to join him.

Roger looked amazed when he walked through the doors.  Again he couldn’t see much, but he could tell by the lack of visible walls in the beam of light that the room was rather large.  It’s not that it’s large, it’s enormous, he thought.  This had to be the largest room he had ever seen.

Mike turned back and looked at him.  “Follow me, and stay close.” He ordered him. He made his way rather easily though the dark and Roger stayed on his heels.  They rounded the corner of what Roger assumed was another room in the building and were greeted by a door with an electrical panel to the left.  Mike hit a series of buttons, and the pad illuminated.  Roger looked surprised to see the pad had power; he thought the whole city was dark.  After a few more buttons, the door hissed and slowly lowered to the ground creating a ramp into the room.  The light from inside the room blinding Roger who had to shield his eyes.

Once their eyes adjusted, Mike walked inside, turning the corners with his gun first.  Roger quickly followed him.  The room looked like nothing he had ever seen before; almost alien.  The walls weren’t all metal. Parts of the interior even looked organic, as if it were alive.  It was all rather unsettling.

Mike waited and listened, before turning to Roger.  “Well, we made it inside.  I’ll cover our front, you watch our rear.  I am not sure what we might encounter, so stay close and only shoot when you have a clear shot.  We don’t have much ammunition left.”  Mike grabbed another Molotov cocktail and carried it in his left hand, before leading the way.

Roger started to relax after ten minutes of complete silence, except for the clamor of their feet on the metal floor.  He decided what he thought was a room, was in fact a ship.  A ship that was not human made.  At least it did not resemble anything he was accustomed to.

Mike led the way down a staircase and they went down one level.  He led them through corridor after corridor, before stopping at a set of doors.  “This is the riskiest part of what we have to do.”  He entered a code into the door and led the way after it slid open.

Short Story Continued

An Unlikely Companion

Roger couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  The news was disturbing, and almost far-fetched enough to be made up.  But given the sincerity and tone of Mike, he knew it had to be true.

“This is heavy, man, I mean the implications of what you’re planning to do.  Something like this has never been attempted before; at least not that I know of.”

“I know, Roger.  Believe me when I say I have thought of nothing else for the past twenty four hours.  This is the only way to preserve mankind and hopefully undo any damage I may have already caused.”

“But the lives that have already been lost, Mike.  The innocent people, I mean I just can’t…”

“Nothing can be done for them; it’s already too late.  And don’t forget this has affected me just as much as it has affected the millions who have already been impacted, or will be impacted.  I lost my entire family.”  Tears welled up in the corners of his eyes, ready to roll down his face and cheek.  “My children and wife died at the hands of these barbarians, all because of a mistake I made.  It’s nauseating and I cannot live with myself.”

Roger put his head between his legs and took a deep breath.  “How far away would I need to be to survive?  I mean, do I even have a chance?”

“I don’t know, Roger.  We have never dealt with anything like this.  But if my calculations are accurate, you would need to be as far east as Nebraska, and as far west as Nevada or California.  There just isn’t time for you to get that far away.  If you can’t get away, hopefully the rest of them cannot either.”

Roger shook his head; his face turned a deep shade of white.  He looked like he would be sick.  “I guess I really don’t have a choice, do I?  I can sit back and wait to die, or get off my ass and actually do something to help stop this before it spreads.”

“I’m sorry to lay all of this on you, Roger.  I know it can’t be easy to hear, nor to deal with.  But I know this will work.  It has to work.”  He paused while he considered his next words. “I would really enjoy having someone with me.”

Roger stood up.  “Well, let’s go then, Mike.  No reason to delay what we have to do.”

Mike nodded as he rose to his feet.  “I appreciate this, Roger.  You will never know.  But we have the opportunity to save humanity, and to me that makes it all worthwhile.”  He walked outside.  “Which car is yours?”

Roger walked up behind him.  “It’s that one over there.”  He pointed to a mid-90s sedan.

Mike shook his head.  Of course it would be a piece of crap.  “Well that piece of crap isn’t going to work.  We’ll have to take one of the other ones, and I’m afraid it isn’t going to be appetizing.”  Mike spotted a pickup truck parked at one of the pumps and walked over to it.

The door stood ajar as he approached the truck.  He peeked his head inside as Roger ran up behind him.  The driver’s seat was empty, but a corpse sat in the passenger seat.  The stench was overwhelming.  He ran to the passenger door, but it was locked. “Roger, hit the switch to unlock the doors.”

Roger hit the toggle switch, before peering into the vehicle.  He spotted the dead body in the seat and quickly vomited, releasing everything in his stomach.  Although he had seen bodies littering the ground during the day, he wasn’t prepared for the close-up, gruesome sights and smells.

Mike pulled the corpse from the passenger seat of the truck.  It hit the ground with a disturbing sound. The arm he yanked on separated from the body. He was surprised how quickly the bodies were decomposing.  He knelt down to examine the corpse more closely with his flashlight, and spotted a green liquid surrounding a wound to the arm.  He didn’t know what it was and shrugged it off, returning his focus to the task at hand.

He walked back over to the driver’s side of the truck and told Roger to get in.  He threw the duffle bag onto the middle of the bench seat.  He reached the ignition to start the truck, but the keys were not there.  “Damnit!”

Roger opened the door as Mike cursed.  “What now?”

“The keys aren’t here.  We’re not going anywhere without them.”  Mike looked around the cab of the truck and spotted a purse lying on the floor in front of the passenger seat.  “Toss me that purse.”

Roger threw the purse to Mike and began to climb in. The seat was filled with blood and feces left behind by the corpse that previously occupied the space.  He wanted to throw up again, but was able to keep it down.

While Mike dug through the purse to find keys, Roger ran to his own car and grabbed a couple of t-shirts from his backpack in the trunk.  He ran back to the truck and heard it roar to life; Mike must have found they keys.  He wiped down the seat with one of the t-shirts, using water from one of the bottles they grabbed from the store.  Before sitting down on the seat, he laid down the other t-shirt while Mike urged him to pick up the pace.  He knew he shouldn’t care, but he couldn’t bring himself to sit in another person’s waste if he didn’t have to.

“You ready now? Anything else you would like to grab?” Mike asked the young man; sarcasm filling his voice.

“Easy for you to say.  You’re not sitting in a seat once occupied by a dead person.”  Mike’s jaw fell open. “What?  What’s wrong?”

Mike frantically dug into the duffle bag and pulled out one of the Glocks. “Have you ever shot a gun before?”  He handed him the weapon.  “Because you are about to come face to face with one of the creatures.”

“Of course.  Growing up, I hunted with my father.”   He finally understood what Mike was referring to.  He fearfully turned his head and looked out the window.  He couldn’t see the creature, but he spotted movement in the field to the north.  Whatever it was, it moved quickly. 

Mike slammed the truck in reverse and angled it toward the oncoming creature. It was running directly toward them; moving at a speed faster than a moving car. Roger jumped out of the truck and dropped to a knee.  He thumbed the safety, and steadied the gun and tried to control his breathing.

“Aim for the head.  If you shoot it in the body it will keep on coming.”

He could here his father in the back of his head, barking orders at him on how to shoot, but he knew he didn’t have much time.  With the creature in his sights, he took a deep breath and held it, before squeezing the trigger.  He missed the creature who bared down on them.  Upset with himself, he lined up another shot, calmed his nerves through several deep breaths, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger again.  The shot was true and hit the roaring creature above its left eye, or what Roger thought resembled an eye.  The creature had slowed its approach, but still wasn’t dead.  Roger repeated the exercise and put a second shot through its head.

The creature wasn’t like anything he had ever seen before.  The skin was a deep, murky green color and I was shiny, as if it were wet.  The eyes were large and black, in the shape of an oval, with no whites surrounding the pupil; just pure and utter blackness.  Sharp pointy fangs took the place of normal teeth, and a green fluid slowly flowed out if its mouth. Instead of hands, it had long, sharp and serrated fingers that resembled claws.  The arms hung down longer than human arms.  The creature was definitely not human and had to be from another planet.

Roger shook all over.  Adrenaline coursed through his body, and he was unable to comprehend what had happened in the previous thirty seconds.  “Jesus!  Even after your description of what we are up against…I wasn’t prepared for that.”  He dropped the gun on the seat of the truck and began to pace, running his sweaty hands through his thick, dark hair.  He took deep breaths and cussed, trying to get himself under control.

Mike got out of the truck and yelled to Roger.  “Snap out of it, Roger! We gotta go, man.  If there was one out there, more are sure to be around.”

Roger kicked the tire of the truck, before getting in.  “I don’t know if I can do this. It’s just too intense.”

“I understand your fear, but I could really use your help. It’ll get easier.  I promise you that.”

Roger nodded his head and Mike slammed his foot on the gas, screeching the tires, and fish-tailing the rear end of the truck as he left the gas station in their rear-view mirror.

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

Image

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

Image

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

Image

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.