Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Time in Zombie Writer’s Camp XI: The CONFEDERATION Project

More fun with Preacher Miller of Soul’s Harvest, the rival church to Deacon Dare’s New Bethany. Run the boilerplate!

In 2008 James Robert Smithand I collaborated on a project we hoped would turn out to be the Winesburg, Ohio of zombie epics, a mosaic tale describing the communities coming together (and squaring off against one another) in the wake of the zombie apocalypse. For various reasons the collaboration fell apart. Bob took his part of the narrative — which included his idea of a border collie manipulating the other abandoned dogs and zombies—and crafted The Living End. I scuffled around for a couple of more years until I came up with The Saga of the Dead Silencer.

For the benefit of those readers who were following the first part of my saga, Bleeding Kansas, and miss having something nasty-mean to read, here’s the eleventh installment I wrote for the project. Of course, if you like this, feel free to pick up Bob’s completed work. Support your local architects of the apocalypse....


A straight-up defeat would have been easier to bear. New Bethany had had the superior numbers, far more than the hundred or so Preacher Miller had reckoned earlier. But the numbers and bullets that had driven back the Soul’s Harvest expedition were numbers and bullets directed at the countless dogs and deaders swarming the church and its outlying buildings and houses. In this battle the men of Souls Harvest hadn’t even counted as a force. They were merely in the way.

As the moon rose above the treeline Preacher Miller marveled at how much there was of New Bethany. It was something he hadn’t noticed that time he’d come to parley, that so many of the houses in the surrounding village were occupied — and that there was at least one armed man in every one of those houses. They also saw women at the windows with rifles or shotguns. An older boy might be at the other side of the house, firing away at the hungry shamblers closing in on their home.

As so often happened when houses were surrounded it was only a matter of time before one heard the breaking glass and screams. They could see the figures of dogs leaping through the windows, and Preacher Miller could only imagine what was going on with them. Probably getting a few bites of their own before the Unclean set upon the occupants.

But not all of the surrounded houses fell thus. Groups of men ran out from the main building and from houses close by the main building that Preacher Miller realized were barracks for the security forces. Squads of auxiliaries would take positions behind those surrounding the houses and draw them off with gunfire. The dead would turn and the men would pick them off one at a time until the area was cleared.

More and more dead would stumble over from the other houses, attracted by the gunfire. The dogs darted among them, avoiding the men with guns. They were quick to leap through the broken windows, or even come behind the defenders outside and take them down.

In the end, though, New Bethany had the numbers. And they had the guns. Preacher Miller soon realized that his idea of attacking New Bethany had been foolish, fatal vanity. They were but thirty-three men, not against a large church, but against a heavily armed town. Even with the casualties New Bethany suffered, even with the confusion of families escaping into the night....

“That’s it,” Preacher Miller told Brock. “Call everybody. We’re leaving.”


“Yes, now!”

“You want ‘em all to meet us back here?”

“No! Tell them to get back up the road to Souls Harvest! Get there anyway they can!”

“Yes sir.”

Preacher Miller couldn’t tell if Brock was relieved or disappointed in his decision. Maybe he was disgusted at the desperation in the preacher’s voice. Well, Brother Brock might learn a little desperation of his own as they tried finding their way back through these woods. Especially if the dogs and deaders used these same woods in their retreat. Or if the New Bethany security caught them slinking away, and gave chase.

Preacher Miller couldn’t decide which was worse. He could only hope to collect as many of the men he’d brought with him and get away.

Somewhere along the way, he had to figure out what to tell his flock back at Souls Harvest.

Come to think of it, that was the worst of all.

I dunno. I’d say this looks worse.

Copyright © 2008, 2013 by Lawrence Roy Aiken

The Living End © 2013 by James Robert Smith