Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Chapter 6 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Pajama Girl and the Black Chinook Moving Company”

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


PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 5.6: “Elegy for the Better Part of Winter”

The bags are small, but heavier than they look. I take one more look around. There, by the window, just outside of the moonlight on a dead-haunted night, Agnes and I proposed to one another.

“Derek!”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“You’re the one who’s all ‘let’s go’ and everything.”

“You know it, slowpoke.” I walk out into the hall. The sound of rotors whipping the air grows louder, closer. By the time we reach the foyer the roof is vibrating, the babies are crying, and Elyssa and the other women are running towards that side of the manor.

Brother Christopher comes in through the front door. “Get all of the bags from Elyssa’s room,” Agnes says. “Get them all out of here. Every room.” He nods, and waves in Ian, Lance, Seth, Jared, and Garret. They fan out through the house as we step outside.

The wash from the rotors pounds at our faces. It’s a struggle getting the hatch of Elyssa’s SUV up. We see Col. Dietzen and two of his men running to meet the men jumping from the open door on the side of the chopper. I look back to the house, where Elyssa leads the ladies, babes in arms, out to the side door by the garage, away from the worst of the turbulence. They double-time it to the trucks parked on the far side of the lot as Christopher and his crew comes out of the front door with the rest of the luggage. Jared, Garett and Ian run after the ladies while Brother Christopher jogs up to meet us with Elyssa’s bags, and one of my own.

Through the grit blown into our eyes, we see men post arms on either side of the Chinook’s door as men in black body armor pour out, running in a straight line for the house. Christopher runs towards us, squinting through the wash, and we set about packing the SUV as these black-suited, furniture-moving commandos crash through the front door of the place we called home for a nearly a year. I can almost hear them stomping and smashing through the house over the beat of the rotors.

They make a lot of noise, but not enough to overcome the second chopper landing on the far side of the lawn next to where Agnes parks her monster truck. Others from Dietzen’s squad run through the overgrown grasses to meet the people with our fuel. They have containers of varying sizes they are already offloading outside their door. Justin, Ethan, and Tom Smiley run up to help with the unloading.

As the men running out from the first chopper clear my line of sight, I see A.J. at the far end of our lot, near the tree line. She’s scrambling away from a familiar figure coming up from where the road up the mountain becomes our driveway. It’s the girl in the dirty bra and tattered pajama bottoms. Gray dust powders the damp raspberry colors of her most recent feast. Somehow she climbed the steep rock walls and followed the sound of diesels and loudspeakers up the long, winding road.

Someone cries out. Agnes may or may not have said something but I’ve got my panga in hand and I’m charging across the yard. The two men at arms outside the first helicopter aren’t even looking our way. Pajama Girl sees me and grins, bits of raw flesh flopping from her teeth. She recognizes my scent.

She lunges.

Breathe in, bring the blade back. It’s been weeks, months since I’ve been in a face-to-face situation and here it is, all the way up a mountain where I’d never thought I’d have to fight these things. Just like getting back on a bicycle, right?

Both hands on the handle, I swing at her outstretched hands. The blade sticks in her left forearm. The girl shrieks and reaches around for me with her free hand. I kick out with the heel of my boot into her belly and she falls away from my blade. I toss my panga aside and fumble for the 9mm on my belt. She lunges at me again, coming very close to grabbing a fistful of shirt. She already stinks like a slaughterhouse on two legs, but the smell of her breath as she hisses in my face nearly knocks me out. I thumb off the safety and squeeze the trigger.

The first round tears through one side of her neck. It explodes in a gurgle of old, dead blood, leaving her head to loll and snap about her shoulders on its remaining tendons. Another round hits her square in the chest, severing the strap connecting her bra cups, and knocks her back into the lawn. The third round goes through her left cheek. The fourth goes in under her nose, destroying her upper jaw, and that piece of her bacteria-driven brain that pulled her blonde, undead carcass up a 75-foot wall of rock, then a steeper 25-foot wall to get at some live flesh.

For all the weathered skin and monster face, those strips of bear flesh caught in her teeth, I can still see somebody’s daughter in there. Goddamn it, this is not my day. I walk over to retrieve my panga. Why on earth did it never occur to me to sharpen this thing, for all the time I’ve taken off from monster fighting?

I wipe my blade on the grass and strap it back to my belt. I walk to the edge of our driveway and look down the slope. Of the six left feasting on Mama Bear, the girl is the only one to make it so far, so fast. Unless the others are coming up off the road….

I turn to run back to Agnes but the men in black body armor are hustling back out of the house, carrying the breakfront from the foyer, the armoires from the two master bedrooms, the big wingback chair from the living area, etc. They move at a good clip, given their burden, and all at the same hup-hup pace. It’s like waiting for a small black train to pass, with the occasional ornamental mirror and long vanity dresser on the cars. I notice they’re not taking any of the beds. I should hope not, given all the gnarly peasant sex we had on them.

The absurdity of this whole scene, Pajama Girl, my dull panga, my bad shooting, the Black Chinook Moving Company…I must have the most ridiculous expression on my face when the train of men finally passes and I see Agnes, Elyssa, Brother Christopher, and Ethan on the other side, wide-eyed with terror. Brother Christopher has his pistol in one hand, and is waving me down with the other. I throw myself at the overgrown lawn.

The reports of his muzzle pierce the racket of the chopper wash; I feel the thud of a body hitting the ground behind me. I roll over to see that one of the other six had indeed come up from behind me, either from the driveway or—most likely—the wooded areas on either side, where I was too careless to think of looking.

This once-young man was taller and wider, and very nearly on top of me. I couldn’t hear him for all this chopper wash and the men running by. And none of the men at arms outside the Chinook thought to shoot at the undead coming all the way up here to this plateau where we were once safe, if only for a couple of seasons.

Brother Christopher and Ethan run over to pick me up. “If I could have your blade, sir?” says Ethan. “I can get it sharpened up for you in about 15 minutes.”

“Take it.” I hand him my panga and he runs away with it across the yard towards the driveway. He waves over some of our other young men by the comm truck. Christopher steps out to point to the bodies of Pajama Girl and the large young man. They pull their sidearms to check the edge of the yard for more party crashers.

“Are you all right, sir?” says Brother Christopher.

“I’ll be a lot better when these choppers get out of here,” I say, looking over at the first helicopter, where Col. Dietzen is talking to someone in camo. Another full-bird colonel, judging by the collar device. They shake hands and the colonel in camo turns to get into the helicopter. He thinks better of it and turns.

Now he’s waving me over. Col. Dietzen comes up to stand next to him. He looks nervously at me. I’m guessing he’s righteously terrified I might embarrass him in front of his older, sterner-faced colleague.

I walk on over. I find myself bracketed on both sides, with Elyssa and Agnes taking an elbow each. I feel the presence of Brother Christopher behind us. Col. Dietzen’s face falls a little at the sight. Love me, love my entourage.

“I’m glad to see all of you here,” the camo’d colonel shouts at us over the racket of the rotors. “Your head of security needs to know I couldn’t get him more arrows. Mr. Grier,” he says, addressing Brother Christopher. “Am I correct in assuming you have some AR-15s in your arsenal.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I have a couple of footlockers full of 5.56 by 45mm NATO rounds. You got enough AR-15s to make these worth your while?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Take them with my compliments. You and your people do good work. I have a feeling it’s going to take everything you’ve got and then some to get where you’re going.”

“Understood. Thank you, sir.”

The camo’d colonel turns to me. “I know it’s been a while and you let your blade get dull but we’ve got no time to warm up here.”

I feel Agnes’ hands, both of them, wrapping hard around my arm. “I gathered that.”

He regards Elyssa and Agnes. “Like everyone across what’s left of the world, I have no idea what these two see in you. Unlike everyone else, however, I think you’re entitled to whatever success you can make for yourself. You people are a big middle-finger in the faces of certain people I know, and I personally would like to see you all alive to keep on being that finger. Not that you have any idea where you got all this ammunition, you understand?”

“We got lucky and found a stash.”

“That’s the spirit. Good to meet you, Mr. Dead Silencer—and good luck.”

I glance down at the colonel’s name tape as he shakes my hand. Grinnell. I smile, nod, and he turns to climb up into the open chopper bay. Two footlockers are set on the ground below the hatch and we step away as the black Chinook, laden with the prime pieces of furniture from our former house, lifts into the air. 

Brother Christopher waves some of the boys over. They’re bitchy and sullen about another hauling detail until they realize what it is. The boys each have an AR-15 as spoils from last year’s guerilla action against the late Deacon Sparks and his crew. Might as well put them to work.

The fuel chopper lifts off as Grinnell’s Chinook lights out over the city. I’m setting a course back towards the overlook when I once again find myself confronted with Col. Dietzen.

“What is it now?”

“I wanted to make sure you all got a plate,” says the colonel, grinning. “Good job on impressing Col. Grinnell. He’s good people to know.”

“We appreciate the ammo.”

“He also came through with some medallions of filet mignon and frozen shrimp. We don’t have much time to eat, though. We’ve got to get ready to leave soon.”

“Sure thing, Colonel. Thanks.”

I walk with Agnes and Elyssa towards the grills where we get our executive surf-and-turf platter on heavy duty paper plates, with bottled water to drink. No one’s complaining. Honestly, shrimp? How the hell did they do that? I see Dietzen’s men eating from the same container we got ours from; I suppose it must be good as I don’t see any reason for Dietzen to give his own men food poisoning. I can’t believe I’m even looking at this. 

“They’re calling this the wrap party,” says Brother Christopher as we walk to a large slab of pink granite before the overlook.

“Because they’re wrapping up the series?” I say.

“That, too. Col. Dietzen had some champagne, but he changed his mind over the last half-hour. Something’s got them worried.”

“How are we on shotguns?”

“We’ve got five of varying gauges.”

“If Colonel Dietzen is scared, it’s because he isn’t the only one with drones. They control these things via satellite.”

Brother Christopher’s eyebrows go up. “I’ll make sure every truck has someone looking for these things.”

“Don’t worry whose drones we’re taking out, either.”

“Of course, sir.” 

I feel Agnes straightening next to me. “Christopher,” she says.

“Sir,” he says, picking up his plate. “I need to finish this so I can talk to our people. I don’t think we have long before Col. Dietzen wants to take off.”

“Actually, I’m not sure why we’re delaying when we’ve already had two deaders all the way up here. Never mind. Let’s eat, and get the hell out of here.”

“Sir.”

As I watch Brother Christopher walk away I’m aware that Agnes is staring holes through me while Elyssa is keeping a watchful eye on Agnes. I look down at my plate and start spearing some shrimp with my fork. This could very well be our last meal. I wish I had time to enjoy it.

NEXT EPISODE: Chapter 7, “Lunch, Love, and Reckoning”


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.

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