Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chapter 12 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Showdown at the Smiley Place”

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

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 11: “Welcome to the Boomtown”

I lay the AR-15 in the flatbed as we turn onto the road for Loretta Smiley’s place. This likely saves us from being shot up immediately as the men in black body armor jump out at us from the woods on both sides, weapons at the ready.

Agnes squeezes the button on the flame thrower. Ethan is already taking out the rest with his rifle as Elyssa’s SUV pulls up immediately behind us. Satisfied there are no further surprises, we roll around this latest bunch of road kill to find Loretta’s driveway filled with vehicles with U.S. government tags. Agnes and I wave the rest of the convoy to ride past as we pull into the yard.

“Should I kill the engine?” Agnes says as another Air Force colonel in blues and his camo’d goons emerges from the house onto the deck. Given the height of Mom’s Taxi, we’re at eye level, if not exactly face to face.

“Go ahead,” I say, unbuckling from my harness. “This won’t take long. Might as well top off the tanks while we’re here.”

Agnes looks at me as if she hopes I’ll change my mind. We’re making enough noise as it is, though. I don’t want to make it any easier for the ghouls at the checkpoint to find us. I squeeze her shoulder, and she turns the key. I rise from my seat to retrieve one of the fuel containers strapped on the end of the flatbed.

“Mr. Derek Grace,” the colonel calls out in his best command voice, “are those eight men up on the road also to be added to your murder charges?”

“Sure,” I say, pouring fuel into the monster truck’s tank. “Those, and the eleven would-be rapists of my wife and daughter at the checkpoint. Put ‘em on the tab.”

“Mr. Derek Grace, you are under arrest for arson and murder. If you and your wife and daughter don’t want to ride up to Wyoming in handcuffs, you will get down from that vehicle and surrender yourselves to me immediately.”

“Where’s Martha and Loretta?”

“You are under arrest, Mr. Grace.”

“Mmm-hmm,” I say, replacing the fuel cap before moving on to the flame thrower’s tank. “Now be a good boy and get the lady of the house for me, will you? Otherwise, fuck off.”

There’s a woman on the deck with them. Pastor Julie Pearce, I presume. She pales, then flashes bright crimson with rage at my f-bomb. “You talk like that in front of your daughter?” she says.

I ignore the woman. “I do not recognize your authority. You and your people will stand down and turn my friends over to me.”

“Or what, Mr. Grace? If you try anything, we’ll shoot your wife and child and those two old women inside the house.”

“What, I don’t get a bullet?” I say, strapping the fuel container back down to the flatbed.

“You know why. But I’ll make you live with the regret of not doing what you’re told.”

I look towards Paster Julie. “As a woman of God, you approve of the murder of women and children?”

“From what I’m told you don’t have any moral leg to stand on,” she says.

“This isn’t about me, Pastor. You’d watch a mother and her child shot. Of course, you already have the blood of one mother and her child on your hands. What does that say about you?”

The colonel steps in front of Pastor Julie. “We don’t have time for your false pieties, Grace. Not with all the blood on your hands. You need to get down from that truck, surrender the keys, and talk to me about where your friends have gone.”

“Friends? You mean the people who drove on by and left me to deal with you thugs?”

“Mr. Grace. I represent the lawful Provisional Government. Pastor Julie Pearce here represents the settlement of Abundant Life. This house is on her settlement, and this is a lawful arrest of a known arsonist and murderer, namely you.”

“You know, the funny thing is Col. Dietzen and his people were supposed to be helping us. If they’d come with us and provided support like they promised, they wouldn’t have been overwhelmed by the zombie mob your people sent up our side of the mountain.”

“Col. Dietzen and his troops were killed by the fire you caused—and that’s enough of your delaying tactics. Get down from that truck. If any of your people show up and cause trouble, we’ll start liquidating your collateral.”

Liquidating my collateral? Holy shit. “All right, Colonel. You got me.”

I duck into the cockpit. With my hand on the hatch cover, I look at A.J. and Agnes. “If you’re thinking of raining fire on them, do it before I hit the ground,” I whisper. We can hear the armed goon pounding down the steps from the deck to meet me under the truck.

“No, Mr. Grace,” says the colonel. “Ladies first. Mrs. Grace, I need your hands where I can see them. Mr. Grace, you will assist your daughter coming down the ladder.”

I look into Agnes’ eyes, large and storm-sea green behind her glasses. I imagine the colonel’s goons roughing her up, chicken-winging her arms behind her back, the cuffs cutting into the flesh of her wrists. I imagine the little girl behind me surrounded by strangers with guns, her mother and adopted father helpless.

“One more for the road,” says my wife. She takes her glasses off. We go all out for what might as well be our last kiss. 

“All right, hurry it up, lovebirds,” says the colonel, and as everyone on deck sniggers, she wraps her hand around the back of my head to hold it for longer. 

I squint out the corner of my eye to see that, yes, Agnes is flipping everyone off on the deck with her other hand. I’m raising my hand to do the same when she takes both of my hands in hers and brings them to her chest. Like she used to do before the long, hard winter, and all this ugly hell following.

I look again into my wife’s eyes. “A.J.?” I say to the little girl behind me.

“I love you, Mommy and Daddy.”

“Sergeant Gilkerson, take aim at the girl,” says the colonel.

Without a word, with no change in expression whatsoever, the camo’d goon standing between the colonel and Pastor Julie raises his M4. Pastor Julie raises one of her chins in anticipation. 

“Get behind me, A.J.”

“Take aim at Mrs. Grace, sergeant,” says the colonel.

But the sergeant is yanked backwards. I see a flash of silver. A bright crimson wave of arterial blood crests and breaks over his flak jacket. Pastor Julie screams as the blood arcs forward and the sergeant is kicked hard from behind, across the balcony railing.

Lance Smiley emerges from the sliding glass doors, blade in hand. He raises his legs and puts his heel hard into the sergeant’s sternum. The balcony railing cracks. Lance pulls the sergeant up by the back of the pants, then kicks one more time. The railing gives, and the sergeant falls forward off the deck and belly-flops loudly into the hard dirt below.

The colonel apparently didn’t feel the need for a sidearm. His hands are in the air as Lance turns towards him, the sergeant’s weapon in his hands. “Lance,” I call out to him.

“Sir, he terrorized my mom.”

“Which is exactly why I want him duct-taped alive to the fat lady over there and left for the stinkers to chow down on while we make our getaway.”

“Oh, no.” The colonel sprints to the far side of the deck and vaults over the rail. A loud snap announces his landing below. Apparently he forgot that side was highest off the ground.

“Never mind the duct tape,” I say. “He’s not going anywhere. As for us, we gotta boogie.” 

I pull open the hatch, and, sure enough, the bully-boy who was going to escort us into custody is writhing in the pinestraw, gasping and gurgling around the arrow shaft in his throat. Ian and Seth have already stripped him of weapons and are working on removing his his Kevlar vest without getting soaked in arterial blood. 

I don’t recognize then at first because they’re both wearing helmets they’ve scavenged from the colonel’s men. “Careful,” says Ian. “He won’t bleed so much so long as you don’t move the arrow around.”

“Yeah, dumbass,” says Seth to the choking man. “As soon as you or someone else pulls that out, it’s over. Now hold your arms out straight.”

“Hey,” I call down through the hatch, “whose vest is that one for?” I notice they’re both already wearing flak vests.

“You want it, sir?” says Seth.

“Only if everyone else has one already. I want everyone who’s standing up through a moon roof wearing body armor, if they can.”

“We don’t have that many yet,” says Ian.

“At the rate we’re going….” says Seth.

“No problem. Just make sure Sgt. Dumbass is out from under our truck when we leave. We’ve got hungry guests coming in. I’d like him awake to meet them, if possible.”

“Oh, they’re already on the road coming here. We gotta leave in less than a—”

“Sir,” I hear Brother Christopher say from the deck.

“Make it fast,” I tell Ian and Seth before putting the hatch over back on. I pull myself up and out of the cockpit, the better to face Brother Christopher on the deck. 

“I apologize, sir,” says Brother Christopher, “but the dead are everywhere in the woods around us. The colonel had more people in the house than I thought, too. We barely saved Lance and Tommy’s mom.”

“It’s good to see you, too, Brother Christopher,” Martha says as she steps out behind Loretta Smiley.

Christopher doesn’t miss a beat. “If anyone has to go to the bathroom they need to go now. We’re waiting on—oh, there he is.”

Justin’s truck pulls into the driveway and alongside of us. “We’ve got to go,” he says, jumping from the still-running vehicle.

NEXT EPISODE: Chapter 13, “Hard Choices, Soft Bodies”

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.