Thursday, March 31, 2016

Gathering Momentum, One (Utterly Maddening) Start-Stop at a Time


State of the Apocalypse at the Finale of March 2016


It’s been tough to just get going. Once I get going, something seems to stop me again.


I keep flashing on a truism that applies to weight-loss programs, but applies to anything else you’re trying to maintain as well:

Diets don’t fail. People fail to commit.

As I struggle with writing The Wrong Kind of Dead, I remind myself that two of the greatest albums of all time, namely, The Beatles’ White Album and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, were created under duress, at a point in which the members of these bands were all but sick of looking at one another. 

Of course, my situation is more akin to The Who and the creation of their album, Tommy, in which the band had racked up debt, and needed nothing short of a blockbuster to keep them out of bankruptcy. In any event, this writer has to stay committed, and make the stresses of transition going on outside my writerly bubble work for me, as they did in creating these classic rock masterpieces.

Meanwhile, amidst all of March’s distractions, an audience has begin to discover the mayhem that is Grace Among the Dead (read the first chapter on my blog here). Which means I have to push hard towards finishing the finale to my zombie apocalypse action series (read early draft chapters here). As of this writing I’m still mired in the process of going through my first two books and tweaking them for consistency of tone. 

I can’t say I don’t have any outside encouragement to keep going. There are a lot of total strangers in the USA, UK, Canada, and Germany looking for a post-apocalyptic good time. It is my intention to show them one, complete with a monster truck, MQ 9 Reaper drones, and a herd of undead whose front lines cross state borders north and south.

In my darkest hours of this dreadful month, there were people on Twitter retweeting my links. I’ve got people in my corner. I don’t know who they are. I’ve never met them. But they’ve been a huge help, physically and psychic, and I cannot let them down.

Back to work, then. If I can make a decent rhythm of all these starts and stops, I’ll dance to it.


###

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

If You’re Feeling Worthless...

...well, don’t.

I saw this image somewhere in my Facebook feed this morning and I lit up. I immediately shared the image on my feed, then posted it to Twitter. My accompanying comment read:

Worth is relative to the interests of the appraiser. Whose appraisal do you seek, and why?

Following the fitful night of a long day in which I had to take Benadryl to sleep because I was insomniac with anxiety and despair over financial bullshit, I found this uplifting. I can see where this might not make sense to a lot of people, but that’s all right. I’ll take my uplift where I find it. 

No, I’m not selling a kidney to pay down my credit cards. This is more along the lines of me making my own self-appraisal, and taking the fight where it needs to go.

I’m still not sure exactly where that is, but at least I’m comfortable with the uncertainty. Moreover, I have the energy and the will to get started, which, let’s face it, is everything.

Time to go do some chores. Upon my return, I shall pound this keyboard until I stop.


###

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chapter 15.2 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Monument Hill”

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

PREVIOUS EPISODE: “Ride to Live, Kill to Ride”


“What’s going on?” I say.

“Almost there,” says Agnes.

“There’s these weird-looking planes in the sky,” says A.J. “Lots and lots of them.”

“Oh, great.” I could try climbing into the cockpit, but it would be dicey getting through the hatch. To pull myself up I need both hands on the platform, and I don’t trust my elbows.

The air darkens again. There’s another boom, this one much closer. Either from where we just left, or close enough. Agnes drives faster.

“You okay down there?” she says.

“You’re asking now?”

“Not much further. We can see Monument from here.”

Scuzz’s shotguns are quiet. I don’t see any more stragglers. Our engines roar louder as the road slopes upward into the Monument/ Tri-Lakes area. It’s not a steep climb. It was easy enough for commuting cannibal corpses, even in the days when they took the paths of least resistance to their meat.

With that, and all the open country, no one we knew tried to settle here. Enough people used to live along the long, seemingly empty roads out here to create enough undead that would surely encircle one’s hideout from across the open, rolling fields. Now this is suddenly safe, and the concealing woods of Black Forest are infested. It’s an upside-down world.

We’re coming into the commercial area around the main exit. Where we want to be is a little beyond that. Agnes doesn’t start slowing down until we come to a slight bend in the road. After this, it straightens out again, and there’s the sign announcing the highest point along the I-25 corridor in Colorado, along with a line of military vehicles lined up across the north and southbound lanes, all facing south towards Colorado Springs.

The motorcycles slow down faster than we do, but that’s fast enough where I am, as the ladder now pulls the other way beneath my feet. At last, Agnes brings Mom’s Taxi to a halt, and I drop to the asphalt. I walk out from under the front of the truck, shaking the ache and sting from my hands.

“Well, that’s one hell of an entrance, Mr. Grace,” says a familiar voice.

“Col. Grinnell,” I say, squinting in the sunlight. “Good to see you, too.”

“You missed the air show.”

“My daughter filled me in.” I look up and around. The sky is empty overhead, but the southern horizon is smudged with the swarm of UAVs over Colorado Springs. Toadstools of orange and black sprout throughout Black Forest and points south. The area we were in minutes ago is a fat column of smoke and flame.

“Walk with me?” says Col. Grinnell. “Everyone might as well stretch their legs while we get them loaded up.” He nods towards Mom’s Taxi. “Bring the family.”

I wave at Agnes and A.J. Both are slow to get going but I can tell they’re ready to get out of the cockpit after having spent what seems the better part of the day up there. Elyssa is already out of the SUV and running towards me. She throws her arms around me, squeezes—and just when I brace myself for the big wet kiss to follow, she slaps me hard on the face. “How dare you put yourself in harm’s way like that. Don’t you ever do that again!”

“Had to give ‘em a show,” I say, rubbing my cheek. I look at the colonel. “How much of our road trip did you get on camera?”

“They got their show,” says Col. Grinnell. “You’ve earned your ride. If you still want to take it, that is.”

“Of course.”

The colonel turns to the first lieutenant standing next to him. “Go supervise the load-out.”

“Sir.”

“We may yet pull our survival from the jaws of inevitability,” Col. Grinnell says as the young man walks away. He nods towards Elyssa’s SUV. “I believe your own lieutenant has something he needs to report.”

I turn to see Melinda’s tear-streaked face from between Teresa and Tiffany and the other women who comfort her. Next to them, Christopher stands with Ethan and the rest of the moon roof shooters. A few glance back, but can’t seem to hold eye contact. 

“It’s all right,” says the colonel. “I’ll wait.”

“Thanks.” I turn and walk towards Brother Christopher. A loud sniff to my side reminds me that Elyssa is holding onto my arm. I look down at her. Whatever anger she was carrying has dissolved into pure grief. I have an idea her outburst at me has a lot to do with what I’m about to hear next.

“All right,” I say as I approach. “Who did we lose, and why am I just now finding out about it?”

“Sir,” says Brother Christopher, “it was Justin and Rene. We lost their truck, too. There was nothing anyone could do.”

“That’s part one of my question,” I say. Elyssa’s hands tighten about my arm.

“Sir, for what’s it worth, I did notify you about the…situation. If you didn’t hear about it….” 

“You didn’t hear about it,” says Agnes behind me, “because there was nothing you could do. We had to clear the way out front so everyone could move. Justin and Rene sacrificed themselves to keep the families in the convoy from being eaten alive while we did that. Scuzz’s people were already engaged, along with the shooters in the two trucks closest to the action. You going out and getting mixed up in that wasn’t going to save them.”

“Anything else I need to know that someone might not be telling me about, Christopher?” I reach across with my free hand to pat Elyssa’s hands on my other arm before she squeezes off the circulation. She releases her grip, and steps over towards Melinda, Teresa, and Tiffany.

“Honestly, sir, there’s not much to tell. Rene took Melinda’s keys and pushed her out of the truck before the dead from the side and the rear began swarming. I think they knew they were making a last stand.” Christopher looks away towards the southern horizon, towards the pillars of smoke and flame rising from where we once were. “At least they didn’t die for nothing,” he says. “If it wasn’t for them and Scuzz’s people, we could have been in real trouble.”

“Scuzz lose anyone?”

“They lost three people, two bikes.”

“Shit.”

“Along with Melinda and Rene’s truck, we lost a crate of that NATO ammo. We’d divided up the first one, but left the other with Melinda and Rene because….” Christopher pauses. “We figured if anyone needed it, they did. I like to think it was quick.”

Wouldn’t we all, I think. We both know it wasn’t. 

We share an awkward moment of silence before Christopher says, “I wish I could have been there fighting for them, too, sir. You saw yourself, though, we had hands full where we were.”

“Right,” I say. I turn to approach Melinda, her head on Teresa’s shoulder. “I’m sorry for your loss,” I tell her. She sniffs in acknowledgment. 

I clap Agnes on the arm. “I’m going out, honey. Don’t wait up.” I smile for whatever cameras are watching and turn away.

“What? Derek, wait.”

I meet Col. Grinnell where he stands with his phone. He looks up as I approach and we resume walking south back towards the commercial area, along the shoulder of the northbound lanes. 


NEXT EPISODE: “The Third Stage Is Called ‘Bargaining’”



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.

###

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#MondaysCats: Meet the Fab Furry Four

...or the Four Fluffies of the Apocalypse. The most chill apocalypse you ever did see.

Left to right: Jack, Otis, Puff, and Mick.

I was coming up the stairs from my basement office last month, despairing for not having a blog post to put up, when I saw my cats in the sun. And I—very cynically, I note—decided I’d make a cat post. Cats in the sun, looking overexposed in the midday light coming in through the window. Call it “Overexposed Cats on the Internet.” Woo-hoo. I felt I had to do something. I was losing my mind for not being able to focus.
Otis the Elderkitty.

Well, bless me, it was a hit. One of the most popular posts of the month. Almost as popular as my zombie fiction excerpts.

So I thought, not so cynically, maybe we all really needed this. It felt good to think and write about my cats for a change. I’m rather fond of them, which should make the posts easy to write. They each have their stories. Why not tell them?

You know it beats talking about the current election cycle and the latest tragedies and travesties at home and abroad. For my part, I decided a while ago that terror, horror, grue, and general negativity belong in my zombie books and nowhere else in my life. Drama is fine for movies and TV shows. Nowhere else, though. We all need an oasis of calm in a world with a media that trolls us for extreme reactions 24/7.
Mickey D. Mouseslayer

By that rationale, putting up photos of my cats isn’t shameless clickbait. It’s a necessary public service.

So meet Otis the Elderkitty, Mickey D. Mouseslayer, Handsome Jack the Halloween Cat, and Lily the Puff. They’re going to be making our Mondays a little easier to take for as long as I can make up posts about them.

Also, I get to challenge my photography skills. Which aren’t much, I’ll admit, but getting my mind on something other than writing actually helps with the writing when I’m stuck. Who knows, maybe I’ll get good with this Canon PowerShot S95. 

In any event, we all get to look at some fine felines, and that’s one for the Win column.
Handsome Jack the Halloween Cat














Lily the Puff










###

The Year of Accelerated Entropy

My State of the Apocalypse, near the end of the first quarter of 2016.


What with another round of passings this month—Pat Conroy, George Martin, Earl Hamner, Jr. foremost in my remembrances—we might as well give this year its proper descriptor: The Year of Accelerated Entropy. The numbers are staggering, the names impressive, but for the most part these deaths were coming.

This first quarter of 2016, though. Good Lord, what a massacre! We now live in a world without David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Glenn Frey, among so many others. It’s not brave, and it doesn’t feel particularly new, either.
I still have the Jeep, but I may be saying goodbye to these mountains this year, among other people and things. “Trying to face the strangest ch-ch-changes, yeah.”




I’m seeing the entropy with our long-since paid-for vehicles in our garage. A headlight here, an ignition switch there, even an elderly spare tire switched out (it came with the vehicle when I bought it in 2001). I’ve never had these problems in the nearly 15 years I’ve owned my Jeep. 

Well, it’s been 15 years. If it all seems to be happening all at once, it’s because I’ve had a long, lucky, utterly blissful run. Time to cope with the inevitable.

Mickey D. Cat, in recovery from the same stomach
upset we feared would do Otis in last summer.
Eight years old isn’t that old for a cat,
but it’s old enough. We’re glad he’s still with us.
I even had another near-death scare with one of our cats, the second oldest, right as I was curating photos to start a series on the Four Fluffies of the Apocalypse. We got through that without casualties, but once again I was reminded of how fortunate I’ve been to enjoy years of zero drama. 

People and things grow older. They wear out. They break down. They die. It just seems to be happening all at once this year.

Right, yes, fine, got it. Still, though. Is there anything remotely flippin’ positive we can talk about here?
For all the mayhem and foolishness this month, there were also Zen bunnies in the snow. Happy Easter!





















Of course there is. I got through it. 

March was the month that the Happy was taken out of my Happy New Year. I smashed my foot, my Jeep was vandalized, its ignition switch wore out, and my wife went into the hospital, all in the first three days. A 1099-MISC for income I had forgotten about appeared out of nowhere weeks after I’d filed taxes, and I had to file an amended return. (I’ll get more money out of this, but good grief—aren’t all these forms supposed to be in my hands by 31 January?)

One of the cats got sick, so sick he disappeared somewhere in the house. (They do that when they think they are going to die.) He got better, and so did we, but that was a long 22 days out from the first of the month. 

Of course, the blog suffered. I’ve got nearly half a dozen drafts of posts I started but never finished. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I start a post, but don’t finish and post on the same day, I might as well delete the thing. It will never be finished.

Work on The Wrong Kind of Dead also ground to a halt. In some of my darker hours during this most horrible month, I’ve despaired of ever finishing it. 

This, however, may have been a very good thing. I had planned on going through all my books at the beginning of the month to make sure the tone and chain of events are consistent, when all the distractions hit the fan at once. Over the last three nights, I’ve begun what I wanted to do three weeks ago. I’ve got a whole ‘nother perspective now, one that should make for a richer and more nuanced reading experience.

I’ve had my cage rattled, my frame shaken, and the wind taken from my sails, but I’m back to work. I’m moving forward, however slowly. I’ve got this blog post up. That’s something.

Thus, with one eye doing a Mad-Eye Moody 360-degree sweep for lurking bummers—this is the Year of Accelerated Entropy, after all—I proceed into the wilderness of Things to Come. It’ll be a while before the swagger is back in my step. In the meantime, a little humility will temper my soul. 

Here’s hoping all is well with you where you are. If not, then power through, screaming while you burn. It worked for me. Hell, it was all I knew how to do. I wailed like a little bitch the whole way. I’m looking forward to laughing at this, when I’ve got it all far enough away in the rear view mirror.

Happy Easter. Here’s to resurrections. Here’s to what’s next.
My walk can use some work. To paraphrase Dirty Harry, it’s good to be made aware of one’s limitations.
So I’ve got that, too.



###

Monday, March 21, 2016

Another Life, Another Epiphany

Food & sex have since
betrayed my fat self sad
with the prospect of
having my heart broken at
last by children who will (at best)
move on to (justifiably) hate
me for bringing them into this
dull horror of routine anxieties

as the vague aches become
the sharp pains which become
the final sentence ending with
dot-dot-dot
beeeeeeeep! & all
for the same crap that (if
they’re lucky) brought me
down, food & sex &
bad genes & etc.

Anyway,
just so you know,
I’ve seen
what there is
to live for:

It’s the pale
pale blue
of the late
November
sky as the sun
melts behind
the tree-blackened
horizon.

This blue cannot be
compared to robin’s
eggs or even water,
blue watery pastel
qualities aside

it’s the pale blue of
yearning, the healthiest
truest ache you’ve
known since
working out your
last baby tooth

it’s something I must
bear witness to although
I understand how pointless
it is trying to explain it

while you’re wishing
you were the witless
dickweed who just drove by
in the low-slung car with the
spinning silver rims, stolen
melodies defaced by
rhyming insults over
lowing hellcow bass

causing my very ears to
grind their teeth &
reminding me of the
blessing my eventual
culling from this
idiot herd
will be

just keep those drugs handy
& quiet please
while I watch 
this light bleed out

only now do I realize
it was all that ever mattered
not the food 
not the sex nor the
anything else

I’m only sorry I never
caught this sooner.

###


from Nymphomagic Electroshock &
Other Middle-Aged Complaints (2011, 2016)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Crawling Out of the Crater Where My Mojo Got Bombed

State of the Apocalypse, Post-Ides of March, Pre-St. Paddy’s Day 2006 Edition

If only.
I’ve started this post multiple times, but it’s a really long story full of weird shit that takes too long to tell. Suffice it to say no one died or was crippled, or that we ended up in the street. Someone did attempt to steal the Jeep by removing fuses in an attempt to immobilize it for future collection, but that theft was thwarted, and the vehicle repaired. 

But not before my wife fell into great pain and had to be taken to the emergency room, and...as I said, it takes too long to tell. And then there was the 1099-MISC  that emerged out of the blue weeks after I’d filed my taxes, forcing me to file an amended return. The hits kept coming, and the first couple were enough to halt the momentum I’d had going since the start of the New Year. 

But it’s all right. I’ve just about got all the fires put out. We’re slowly getting it back together.

There was some good to be had from this. Worn parts were replaced. Lessons were learned. Best of all, a reckoning was had, and a major family decision was settled. This is a story I don’t mind telling. Besides, it’ll be a way to see how many of my Facebook friends actually read my blog. It’s major news.

In July 2013 I visited my home state of South Carolina and declared I was moving back. Over the last couple of years, however, my desire to do so has cooled. I feared broaching the subject with my wife, as I had gotten her excited about the prospects of returning to our native soil, and I know she wanted to be closer to her mother. 

My 104,185 square mile safe space.
The subject did come up, however, and it didn’t end in tears. It was agreed the move 1,750 miles east and south would be too expensive, as well as difficult to arrange. (I just knew we would lose a cat during the two-day drive.) Also, between staying close to longtime friends and family and staying close to our children—who, after nine years growing to adulthood in this place, are full-on Coloradans—we would choose our children. Thus this expatriate Southern writer will remain expatriated. 

I owe it to my long suffering wife (who did time in the hospital during these last two horrible, no-good weeks) to build the capital to send her to Alabama so she can at least see her mom. I still want to see my friends, too. But I can’t imagine living back there.

I’ve bitched plenty about Colorado Springs, and how we can’t stay here. We can’t, and we won’t. It turns out there are plenty of small towns throughout Colorado that a fixed-income military retiree family can live inexpensively. And the children will have a place to come to for Thanksgiving and Christmas within a few hours drive.

That said, I’m two weeks behind in writing my latest novel, and two weeks behind writing a blog post, any blog post. It’s hard getting my head back into that space where creation comes easily. This will have to serve as my first stab at it.

Until the next stab, then. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, if you’re celebrating that. I’ve got a new groove to carve.

###

Chapter 15.1 of The WRONG KIND of DEAD: “Ride to Live, Kill to Ride”

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


PREVIOUS EPISODE: Chapter 14: “The Battle of Baptist Road”


“Any word from Rene about what’s going on back there?”

“No, sir,” say A.J.

“What do you want me to do?” says Agnes.

“Let’s get the babies and our people on the school buses through this first,” I say.

“Dear God, just let us get out of here.” Agnes’ eyes are watery. The stench of hundreds of corpses and their cold, dead blood baking in the mid-afternoon sun can’t be helping. She takes her foot off the brake and we begin rolling down the exit ramp to I-25.

Elyssa’s SUV falls in behind us. Satisfied that everyone we can see from here has caught up, Agnes puts her foot to the accelerator. The only thing causing us to bump and bounce in the Mom’s Taxi is a mass of gummy flesh stuck to our right rear tire. It peels and flings away as the 66-inch tires find clean pavement. The gory mass slaps a lone pedestrian across the face. He wipes it off and stalks after us. One of the moon roof shooters, probably Tom, makes a red-brown cloud of the pedestrian’s head. 

I lay my AR-15 beside me on the flatbed and unbuckle from my harness.

“What do you think you’re doing?” says Agnes over the headset.

“My job, babe.”

“First, fuck you for calling me babe. Second—for the love of God, Derek, please don’t do this.”

I pull open the hatch cover and drop the ladder. 

“I’m not stopping to let you down,” says Agnes.

“It’s all right. I should be able to do this while we’re moving.”

“What?” Agnes takes her foot from the pedal and we decelerate. “Derek, whatever I’ve said to make you angry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I pushed you away. Please don’t do this.”

“This isn’t a death wish, Agnes. I’ve got to do something.”

“What are you doing?”

I begin climbing down. “I’m going to hang from this ladder and decapitate all the ghouls you miss with your tires.”

“There aren’t that many out here. As soon as Scuzz and his people get back here they’ll take care of them.”

“I don’t want them to see me sitting in that harness chair doing nothing, Agnes. Not that I should give a shit, but I’d rather our TV audience ‘back home,’ not see me like that, either.”

“Mom, Dad,” says A.J. “The man says we need to be on the Interstate in one minute or we’re not going to make it.”

“One minute?”

“We can do this,” I say over the headset, and halfway down the ladder. “Let’s clear this area so no one has to worry about a corpse throwing itself at a vehicle. Give everyone a straight shot.” I look up through the hatch. “Make us look good, honey.”

“Oh, please.” 

The former men and women of northern El Paso County gather  before us on the ramp to the Interstate. Others stumble in from the side, but it’s the ones ahead we need to clear out immediately. Agnes drives forward, her foot light on the pedal.

“You can go a little faster,” I say through the headset.

“I’ll pick up speed a little as I get closer, but this is as fast as we need to go. In case you missed it, I really fucking hate that you’re doing this.” Agnes pauses. “A.J., you did not hear that.”

Mom.”

“Hang on.” Agnes increases our speed. I’ve got one arm hooked through the ladder and the other one gripping my panga. The front end lifts unevenly as the tires hit walking obstacles, but it makes it easier for me to lean down and deliver death blows to the two up the middle coming towards me. 

Three of four arms, severed above the elbow, tumble to the asphalt. I hear gunfire as Agnes pulls her Sig Sauer and blasts away at the ones approaching the road from her side. She’s not bothering with head shots. Hollow point strikes to the main body mass do the job of dropping her targets. Chunks of rancid meat kick up dust behind eaters that can still eat, but can’t move with most of their spinal columns blown out their backs. 

Three more weasel their way under Mom’s Taxi without getting crushed by the tires. The jolt as Agnes hits a fourth nearly knocks me from the ladder, but it adds force to the blade as it completely cleaves the big man’s skull. Half of it falls away to land on his shoulder, freeing my panga in time to run straight through the woman’s face. The third one takes a step too far to one side and disappears beneath the left rear tire.

I hear the honking of a horn and look away to see Elyssa’s SUV, gore splashed up its body and pulling up close behind. Apparently she was letting Agnes take a wider lead so we could clear the road for everyone. The sound of a hundred chainsaws rises about the racket muffled by my headset, and I see Scuzz’s dirtbike brigade pulling up alongside. A lower register indicates the presence of Scuzz himself and his choppers. Whatever business they had to take care of at the rear of the convoy must be done with. I can only hope Justin, Melinda, and Rene are all right. 

Agnes calls down over the headset, “Do you want me to slow down so you can climb up?”

“I’ll be fine. Let’s get our people out of here.”

A.J. cuts in, “The man says we have to move at maximum speed.”

“I’ll move as fast as I think I have to!” snaps Agnes.

The arm I have looped around one rung grips the rung immediately below it. My feet are hanging on by my boot heels. I push down on them as we approach a stray pedestrian in the middle of the northbound lane. Agnes is trying to avoid him but he’s fast for a dead person, and focused in on the meat hanging by the nylon ropes. At this speed my panga takes the top of his skull clear off. The impact rings hard in my wrist, though. I hope I don’t have to do too many more of these.

I look behind to see Elyssa’s SUV dodge the body. I can’t look around for too long, though. Scuzz’s people ride along both sides, and the shotgun blasts seem to be coming from everywhere. I look back ahead and see two more in the road, approaching us.

“Derek, please hang on,” Agnes says over the headset.

The jolt on the left front tire shakes me hard. I get my panga back on my belt in time to grab the ladder with my other hand.

“A.J.,” I say, “have we heard anything from the back? Do we have everyone?”

“No one’s answering. All I get back is how bad we gotta—oh.”

There’s a change in tone in the engines all around as everyone slows down at once. The air around us darkens. 

“What’s going on?” I say. “I can’t see from here.”

“We’ve got maybe three miles to go,” says Agnes. “Can you make it?”

“What’s happening?”

“Honey, please hang on, okay?”

Agnes puts her foot back to the pedal. The motorcycles are picking up speed, too. A low, thudding boom sounds off behind us.


NEXT EPISODE: “Monument Hill”


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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