Friday, December 05, 2014

Exclusive Preview from Book 3 of the SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER: Oyster Crackers, Part V

A Winter’s Tale, with Zombies, in Five Parts
This story, a flashback within a flashback, occupied most of October and November for me, as I had to establish Elyssa’s and Agnes’ backstory. I might not even use most, if any of this material, especially if it gets in the way of the narrative. Still, as Hemingway said in his parable of the iceberg, it’s good for the author to know much more than is stated explicitly to the reader.

It’s a hell of a story, though, and a shame to waste it, so onto the blog it goes. A tale of Bad Friday, the Dark Resurrection, as told over bowls of hot clam chowder on a dark and snowy afternoon. Pull up a chair and hang onto your lunch. Derek Grace’s post-apocalypse marriage to Dark Agnes isn’t the only thing getting messy. Here’s Part I if you missed it. Click here for Part II. Part III is here; Part IV here.

Part V:

This was Bad Friday. While Agnes and Elyssa and A.J. were preoccupied with Dylan’s last hours, they had missed the mass burials broadcast on local TV. They had missed the screaming and gunfire as so many Final Flu victims kicked out of their winding sheets at once.

They were blessedly far from the nearest park accepting interments; they didn’t hear the police and National Guard use up their rounds as the newly risen pressed in on all sides. They were (so far) out of the way of the nearest herd.

However, they were still in a dense, single-family home neighborhood. Every one of these homes had lost one or more to the Flu. Many had gone to the parks. 

Many, like Agnes, still had sick to tend to. A few had gotten loose into the streets.

One of them was pounding at the front door.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God!” Elyssa ran through the house, turning off the lights.  Agnes jumped over the remains of what used to be her son and called out to A.J. to unlock the bedroom door.

The pounding continued. The whole frame of the house seemed to shake. Elyssa crept forward to the picture window and looked through the edge of the curtains. It was a large man, his huge white gut hanging over his soiled Y-front underwear. A woman with large chunks of flesh ripped from her shoulders and upper arms staggered up from the street, attracted to the sound of the man’s fists on the door. Two more emerged in the pool of the streetlight, following the woman.

Elyssa could hear Agnes arguing with A.J. in the back bedroom. A.J. wanted to see what was left of her brother. Agnes was having none of it. Told A.J. it wasn’t her brother. His wrists where Agnes had grabbed him were cold. Whatever killed him brought him back to attack the living, and it didn’t care if it was his mother or sister or anyone.

“I know,” said A.J. “I could hear it all through the door. I just want to see him.”

Elyssa wanted to cry out that the noise was aggravating the man at the door to pound harder, won’t they please be quiet?

There was a loud popping of gunfire close by, maybe a street over. Tires screeched, a car crashed into something. A woman screamed. More gunfire. A man began yelling. The yells became shriller, and wouldn’t stop.

The man in the underwear backed off the front stoop. Elyssa thought he might fall backwards but he compensated by lurching forward to the sound of the crash. The chewed-up woman and her followers were already shuffling away down the street as fast as their dead feet could carry them.

Elyssa rose and turned to see Agnes and A.J. standing behind her in the thin blue light of the streetlight as it shone through the part in the curtains. “Did you see what happened?” Agnes said, whispering at last.

“No. But noise attracts them. We’ve got to be quiet.”

“We can’t stay here.”

“People are shooting at each other. These—what used to be people are out in the street.”

Agnes went to the edge of the window and peeked behind the curtain. Gunfire erupted from another street. More yelling, and another curious sound. Like the sound Dylan made when he got to his feet. But many voices at once.

“She stood there for what seemed like forever. She’d look back at me, or A.J. Behind the sofa, just before the hall, he son lay all bled out on the floor. Her eyes would settle on that from time to time. Then she’d look back outside.”

The corners of Elyssa’s mouth trembled upwards into a smile. “You could see her figuring it out. She was going to get us through this. I knew because I could tell she hadn’t forgotten anything. She wasn’t blocking out the bad stuff, like her son dead behind the sofa. Or that there should be a man here helping with this—I knew by the way she looked around, she was resenting her husband not being there.

“Most people would have turned that gun on themselves after having to shoot their own child. I know I would have.”

I glanced out the window, looked towards the main house. It stood still and dark, the lights off so what solar power collected could go to the furnace. God, I missed her.

I was startled by the touch of one slender finger on my hand. “She loves you, too, Derek. She doesn’t want you getting used to being alone.”

“I’ve been used to it for a long time, Elyssa. Sometimes I never felt so alone as when I had a wife, two children, and three cats in the house.”

Elyssa hazards a second finger upon my hand. “What happened last May was a terrible, terrible thing. It brought out the worst in everybody. But, for a very special few, it brought out the very best. Agnes is one example. I met your son before I met you, and he was one.”

Her entire hand lay over mine as she said, “I think back on everything I’ve been through, how lonely it was growing up, the day-to-day of looking after my parents. It was all over so fast, like it never even mattered. Now I’ve got Agnes, I’ve got A.J. I’ve got you. Agnes will have your baby, and I’ll love that child as my very own. Do you get it, now?”


“Everything we’ve been through, all the terrible things we’ve seen…it’s all led to this. You. Me. Everyone here. It’s okay now. You notice they stopped making so much noise at night now it’s getting cold?”

“Well, there’s that.”

Elyssa got up from her chair then, and slipped around the table to where I was. Her hand upon my shoulder, she settled into my lap. As her long fingers stroked the back of my neck, I looked into clear blue eyes and saw yet another Elyssa, apart from the personalities I’d seen before. One she had saved especially for me.

The light from the flickering wood stove played about her exposed flesh. I glanced instinctively towards the window, half-expecting Agnes to be looking in.

“It’s okay. I’m supposed to be here.”

“Elyssa, I’ve never cheated on my wife before. Any wife. Ever.”

“This isn’t cheating. Agnes said I can be your wife, too.”

“All right, goddamn it, this is getting weird.”

“And people coming back from the dead to eat other people isn’t?”

“That doesn’t change—oh, hell!”

Elyssa cried out in happy surprise as I leaned in to kiss the bride and it felt as natural as anything. The wood crackled in the stove, the snow deepened outside with the approaching evening, and somehow I managed not to burp clam chowder into her mouth, which I rate as one of the most heroic things I’ll ever do in this life.

To be continued in THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD, available in 2015 from Severed Press!

I’m still working on Book 3, but Books 1 and 2 of THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER are available NOW from Severed Press!

Check out Book 1, Bleeding Kansas, in Kindle and paperback. When you’re done with that, go straight to Grace Among the Dead, also in Kindle and paperback. These are brutal tales, brutally written, and both picked up by Luzifer-Verlag for German translation. Check out what the Germans like so much better than your fellow Americans!

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?

They’re also available in Canada and the UK.