Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chapter 10 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Of Flesh Crushed, Chopped, and Hollow-Point Blasted”

From the ALL-NEW, Yet-To-Be Proofed and Published FINAL BOOK of the SAGA of the DEAD SILENCER

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 9: “All Downhill from Here”

It takes me a minute before I see what’s wrong. The dead aren’t walking on the road, but alongside, coming at us through the trees where we can’t get at them with our 66-inch tires. On the next level down I see a dozen or more, widely spaced. You’d have to work to get at each one—but they could come together easily to get you.

I look back towards Elyssa and the rest of our people and I realize just how clever those Air Force bastards are. “Agnes!”

“Derek, please use your indoor voice with these things.”

“They separated us before we even left our camp.”

A.J. and I put our hands to our ears as Agnes shouts “Aw, shit!” A loud beeping pierces the protection of our headphones as she reverses up the hill. We bounce over the crest and Agnes cuts hard into the first yard on the terrace. Roaring forward again, we see the swarm coming out of the trees around Elyssa’s SUV. They’ve almost cut it off from the rest of the convoy. All the young men at shotgun position, along with Melinda and Rene and Justin, are blasting away with their AR-15s.

It’s as if this mob was waiting for Agnes and A.J. and I to go ahead before attacking our people. Elyssa is still moving but they’re swarming the hood of her SUV. Ethan is standing up through the moon roof and firing one expert round after another into their skulls. He’s just one man, though, firing one round at a time into a mob that’s growing larger as they emerge in twos and threes from the woods on either side of the road. The men at arms in the other trucks are busy with their own goon mobs pawing and slapping at their windows.

I unbuckle from my seat and turn into the cockpit. I pull the cover from the hatch and drop the ladder.

“What the hell are you doing?” says Agnes.

I take off my headset, and kiss her on the cheek. “Time to take out the trash,” I say, stepping through the hatch.

“Oh, God.” She slows the truck as I descend the ladder. She closes her hand over her mic. “Derek,” Agnes shouts after me. “Come back. I can just roll over them.”

“You won’t get the ones crowding the vehicles. Someone’s got to draw them off. Pull up the ladder, but be ready to drop it anytime. This shouldn’t take long.”

“Derek, no.”

I drop to the ground and sprint out from under the front of Mom’s Taxi. Once Agnes has me in sight she backs up, and then turns to the left side of the road to crush the incoming on that flank.

A woman in the rags of a dress raises her arms at me and a quick swing of my newly sharpened blade sends them tumbling to the pine straw. I have just enough time on the backswing to take her head off, though, because she’s not stepping off. She waves her dribbling stumps as she throws herself forward, determined to sink her black, broken teeth into me.

The seconds spent in taking her out allows three more to close in a semi-circle behind me. I jog towards Elyssa’s SUV, my three would-be diners joined by four more across the road.

I’m yelling at the dead surging around the SUV but none will turn towards me. They are focused on the people inside the trucks. Brother Christopher and Ethan fire into the swarm, and it only seems to encourage them. Maybe it’s the stink of all these things that’s getting to me, but the whoops and yells I’m hearing sound like mockery. Ooh, check out the tough guys. Is this all you got? 

As I did with that mob behind the Wal-Mart in Kansas a year ago, I make a running slash at the ones closest, not standing long enough for any of them to turn and get a fix on me. There are so many of them, yet the ones in front of the ones I’m chopping up don’t turn to attack me.

Or maybe they’re waiting for me to get distracted by the individuals approaching from behind. I slash at the chunky teenage boy crowding me on one side and turn just in time to panic-slash at a man and a woman reaching for me from Elyssa’s SUV. I find myself doing a dizzying circle-dance of blade-slinging. For a blood-freezing moment I fear I’ll never see daylight beyond these things, regardless of many desperate swings of the panga take pieces large and small from them.

Through a haze of tumbling limbs, squirting, stinking dead blood, so many gaping mouths widened with a stroke of my blade, I find myself in a clear space. My wife thoughtfully flattened all the pedestrians on this side of the road while I was thinning the group around the convoy, giving me room to breathe. Unfortunately, I can’t; my head swims amid the sweet-sour stench of all these bacteria-ridden old corpses shot, dismembered, and crushed. I have to step carefully lest I slip on these desecrated remains of retail clerks, paralegals, engine mechanics, and supermarket cashiers….

“Sir. Sir.”

I look up in time to see the crowd detaching from Elyssa’s SUV. They’re coming straight for the panting, tired guy trying to find a non-flesh-slimed spot of grass to stand on. The ones on the side closest on the other vehicles are turning away, too.

Good. Now the convoy can move. Except now they’re waiting for Agnes, who’s busy with all the ghouls pouring out of the trees on either side of the road. At last she turns towards me. I step gingerly through the broken bodies, as fast as I can away from the mob advancing towards me from the convoy.

The rope ladder falls as Mom’s Taxi pulls alongside. I grab a rung and climb as fast as I can while Agnes drives us away. I’m almost jarred loose as the ladder is yanked from the bottom by an extraordinarily nimble woman in the remains of black power suit. I hardly have time to adjust my grip as I pull my panga. Her face contorts into a hiss I can almost hear over the sound of the engine. A yellowy arm reaches out as I lean back and swing down.

That reaching, grasping arm spins away into the billowing dust about the right rear tire. With a strength borne of pure animal rage, the woman launches herself at me. My stroke bisects her eyes on the horizontal. For a moment I fear sticking the blade in her skull but she falls away, her one arm still reaching and grasping, her gore-blackened teeth and gums the last thing I see before the dust takes them, too.

I pull myself into the cockpit, my wife yelling into my ear, “It’d be a lot easier if I could just turn loose with this flame cannon.”

I hold up my hand. I reach for the headset and put it on. “Anyone heard from Col. Dietzen’s people?” I say through the mic.

“No. They didn’t leave a number to reach them at, either.”

I replace the cover on the hatch. “So much for all that support he was talking about. Our convoy nearly got overwhelmed and we’re not even a quarter of the way down the mountain.”

“These things were minutes away from where we all lived. To think I almost stopped and had everyone clean up before we left. I hate what the yard looked like, but those things could have taken us entirely by surprise.”

“Not necessarily,” I say. “They probably had Pied Piper drones herding them. They came out when the time was right to lead them out, right after we got a terrace ahead of our group.”

“Well, we’ve already established Dietzen doesn’t have our best interests at heart. The way he talked about Elyssa convinced everyone else for us, thank God.”

“Yeah,” I say, strapping into my seat behind the cockpit cage, “I was worried we were losing hearts and minds to widescreen TV zombie war porn.”

“I still can’t get my head around the fact someone is watching TV somewhere like…like it’s normal or something.”

 “Uh huh.” I’m looking at Elyssa’s SUV, immediately behind us. Like Agnes, she’s driving faster than she should along this road. The dead keep pouring out of the woods on either side, though. It’s as if they know that any one of them can cause a driver to lose control and go into the trees.

As we flatten the former citizens falling beneath Agnes’ monster tires, we leave a slippery mass of pulverized flesh that could easily help this process. So far, Elyssa and the rest of our drivers are holding steady.

That is, until Elyssa’s front left tire goes up over a lump of two mashed cadavers at once, and the back end of her SUV swerves to starboard. Ethan drops back through the moon roof, as does my stomach, watching Elyssa struggle to correct.

NEXT EPISODE: Chapter 11, “Welcome to the Boomtown”

For the price of a happy hour drink you can enjoy many delirious hours slashing and shooting your way through the delightful hellscapes of my first two SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER books, available in Kindle and paperback from Severed Press. We commence the collapse of civilization in Bleeding Kansas, wherein our intrepid hero, Derek Grace, must survive a plane crash, combat with the undead at the local Wal-Mart, an exploding fire truck, a female hardbody assassin, and lots of walking dead people-things.

Book 1 has ONE exploding head
on its cover.

I’m told it reads even better in German. This edition from Luzifer Verlag also sports a hellacious one-of-a-kind cover courtesy of ace artist Michael Schubert:
You can buy this German version stateside here.
You know you wanna.

Book 2, Grace Among the Dead, steps up the game with a tale of love and redemption, the living dead, and a flame-throwing monster truck. We’ve got an arc going from decadence to...respectability?...for our hero. As close as it gets, anyway. You should savor this big book o’ hell while it lasts, because things are about to go completely to shit.
Book 2 has TWO exploding heads.
See the pattern here?

They’re also available in Canada and the UK.