Posts Tagged ‘writing

24
Feb
14

How could I forget – anothe free Kindle promo…

Hi folks,

Don’t know how I forgot, but I did.   My first ghost story ‘Touches’ is also in this weeks Kindle freebies from Amazon.   You’re sure to like this one:

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful

By    Shirley Priscilla  JohnsonTOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2004

Format: Paperback

  In this novel we find a young couple, David and Julie.  Tired of the humdrum of their existence, they longed to open a Bed and Breakfast in an old home.
After searching they felt they found just the place in the old Bender house, but they were not aware of the danger that awaited them there.
Moving in, Julie is left alone while David finishes up some work in the city. Julie begins to experience a presence and sees shadows throughout the house. Thinking at first it is only her imagination, Julie tries to lose herself in the vision of the future and their plans.  However, the supernatural forces at work were determined this would not happen.
What was happening here? She had to know as she searches desperately trying to find the history of the house and a possible clue to what was happening.  What she finds out fills her being with fear.
As the story progresses it becomes more intense as the presence in the house brings death and the near loss of her husband. Will they make it out of this house alive?
Wow!  What a ride.
This work is a real page turner as you sit glued to your seat unable to put it down. Heart thumping, you have to know what secret is within the walls of the Bender house; and you silently pray that Julie will be able to battle the forces that hold her husbands life  and their future in their hands.
Horror fans will love this one. Recommended.
Shirley Johnson

 

By    Cathy on April 25, 2012

Format: Paperback

  Purchased this book years ago and never read it. Never heard of the author but the story sounded interesting. Every time I saw it sitting on my bookshelf my curiosity was peeked but i never picked it up. Finally, after it sat staring at me for 30 minutes as I was on the computer, I decided it was time. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed it. I googled the author and found he has written two other books, I Am Maker and another titled Ferryman. I plan on reading these too as I’m curious to see how his writing has developed and they both sound like something I would enjoy.

By    Stacey Harlow on August 5, 2007

Format: Paperback

  This book is wonderfully written. It was an emotional, scary, spooky ride full of goose bumps, laughs, and even some tears. I could relate with the characters, picture the scenery, and enjoyed this book very much. I highly recommend it.
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Actually for the rest of this week, 3 of my books are free on Kindle (Touches, The Secret and Eleven Till Midnight).    Stock up, enjoy and feel free to drop me a line on what you thought!
J/W

 

22
Feb
14

Free Kindle Promotion – ‘The Secret’

Hi Everyone,

My free Kindle promotion is back on ‘The Secret’.    Get it for free starting Monday the 24th through Friday the 28th.    If you missed it the first time, here’s your chance.

‘The Secret’ is a light-hearted paranormal romance that leaves you with a smile.

Vince Campbell isn’t like other recent college graduates. While they hit the bars on Friday night, he loads up his Civic with ‘Have you seen this girl’ posters and heads out to neighboring towns and states. While they mingle on the dance floor, he searches shelters and morgues. While other guys are looking for a one-night stand, he thinks of only one girl. His entire life: past, present and future, could be summed up as a relentless search that began the night of the Sadie Hawkins Christmas dance during his senior year in high school. That was the night that Katrina Watson vanished without a trace in the labyrinth behind the old Thornton mansion. That was the night a part of him died.

The only lead the cops ever had in Kat’s disappearance was the reference in her diary to some secret she intended to share with Vince the night she vanished. Only one problem – no one had any idea what that secret might be. Not even Vince.

According to urban legend, Kat wasn’t the labyrinth’s first victim. It took the Thornton’s twin boys over a hundred years ago. What kind of mind designs a three-dimensional labyrinth? How can the perfectly trimmed grass and hedges that line its paths never need tending too? Why was the stone wall around it, built to keep people out? Could Kat’s secret have shed any light on the mystery, and more importantly, did it have anything to do with the disappearance of Vince Campbell himself some five years later?

CLICK THE BOOK COVERS TO THE RIGHT AND GO TO THE KINDLE VERSIONS.   Please give them a try and let me know what you think.     Jonathon Wise

11
Sep
08

One of the most pivotal explanations I’ve ever read….

I've always wondered about this myself. Now I know.

- The Silent generation, people born before 1946.

- The Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and
1959.

- Generation X , people born between 1960 and 1979.

- Generation Y, people born between 1980 and 1995.

Why do we call the last one generation Y? I did not know, but a caricaturist explains it eloquently below...Learn something new!

By the way, I've posted another short story for your enjoyment! J/W

02
Sep
08

Another Free short story added….

I've posted the first installment of my vampire serial 'Survival'. Simply click on the link "Free Short Stories for Your Enjoyment" at the bottom of the red banner above, and select 'Survival - The Fall of Post #17'. This is the same short story that's posted on Amazon's Shorts Program - but instead of paying to download it you can read it for free here. As I said before, it's never been about the money. Thanks and enjoy! J/W

28
Aug
08

Another Free short story added….

Check out the 'Free Short Stories for Your Enjoyment' link above for my latest addition to the collection. Read and enjoy! J/W

06
Jul
08

Free – the 2nd installment of my Vampire Serial ‘Survival’….

Don't know what's going on with Amazon or if they'll ever get their 'shorts' program back up and running.   With that said, a lot of you took the time to download and read the first installment of my vampire serial 'Survival'.    Months ago I promised the second installment and so to be true to my word - here is 'Survival - The Siege of Lawrence' in its entirety.    Please accept my apologies for the delay and read on....

Survival - The Siege of Lawrence

Clouded by the unrelenting fatigue of a war that had been raging for seven years, most survivors forgot long ago that the onset of the end actually began outside of Boulder. Denver is the memory burned into their minds. There one second, gone just as quickly in one brilliant flash. But even then they knew it came too late to stop the spread of infection. When the military felt that they couldn’t chance any more nuclear fallout, they turned to carpet-bombing. Several major cities across the Midwest were reduced to rubble.

Then on one autumn day the jets stopped flying. Word quickly gained momentum that the government had drawn the line at the Mississippi. There’d be no testing stations set up at bridges or along the banks to welcome the uninfected refugees of the western United States. It was a chance the government wasn’t willing to take. Instead, the military fortified its armaments and left no room for misinterpretation – anyone attempting to cross over to the eastern bank would be shot on sight.

Everything and everyone west of the river was written off as collateral damage. With most major cities destroyed, survivors converged on the smaller, relatively unscathed towns like Topeka, Lawrence, Joplin and Hot Springs. But limited by makeshift fortifications and minor firepower, the first two years of the war proved particularly bleak. Thousands along each town’s perimeter ended up missing: no blood, no bodies, simply gone - victims of nighttime vampire raids.

The eastern bank wasn’t much better. Violence spawned by fear and starvation took nearly as many lives as infection did in the west. It was a most precarious time for the human race.

Then in that darkest moment, hope sprang forth. Talks started between the outcast survivors of the restricted zone and the eastern bank. In exchange for supplies to protect themselves (weapons, fuel, construction materials…) towns in the restricted zone would farm the surrounding land and provide grain and crops to the hungry of the eastern bank.

Survival had degraded to a matter of delicate balance.

 

The Siege of Lawrence

August 27th

 

The old Chevy bounded over a rise in the worn asphalt that sent Justin crashing into the roof of the cab. "Shit!" He shook it off and floored the accelerator as he jerked back up straight behind the wheel. Time was running out. The tall, stark wind generators that dotted the fairways between the first and fourth greens of the old country club were racing up to greet him. But it was what lay just partially hidden behind that skyline that fueled his adrenalin. He kept a tight grip on the wheel and his right foot to the floor as the old truck raced up to the ‘T’ intersection. Then at the last second, he threw the wheel to the right and slammed on the brakes. The blue Chevy skidded around the turn onto East Farmington Road as tornado sirens blared in the distance. That’s when he stole a quick glance at what lay beyond. There under the brink of dusk, he could see the lower tip of the sun beginning to set below the horizon.

It might have been different if there had been even a single cloud in the sky. But there wasn’t. In fact the only thing he could see was Rita back at the depot. In his mind, everyone would be running – except for her. She wouldn’t leave. He was sure of it. God help her… she’d stay hoping against all odds that Frank might return. She’d step out on to the platform, shield her eyes from the last rays of the setting sun and stare down the tracks.

By now the mad scramble in the heart of town would be nearly over. Most folks would be back home with their loved ones, gathering guns behind locked doors.

Two jeeps, outfitted with machine guns swerved onto the road right behind Justin as he cleared the line of trees just south of the train stop. The sight of more than two hundred marines and guards scrambling to take position around the depot brought him straight up in the seat. He was no virgin when it came to cropper raids, but he’d never seen this kind of response. Not this many men in one place. Not with this kind of firepower. It looked like everyone had a mini-gun and several men were taking up position with M20 bazookas. It could only mean one thing. This was no simple raid of infected humans.

Justin flew through the station gate and sprayed a cloud of dust and gravel as the pickup skidded to a stop among an array of military vehicles. He flung the door open, jumped out and started bobbing his way between men and cars in a frantic run to the platform along the tracks. He grabbed the post at the foot of the stairs and sprung up to the third step. As he leaped up onto the crowded platform, two soldiers parted and he spotted Rita’s flowing dark hair. But instead of calming his nerves, it only intensified his fears. He couldn’t get over to her fast enough.

He fought his way through the soldiers like a man trying to free himself of an entanglement. Just as he got to her, Rita turned and looked at him. For that timeless second that followed, all his panic simply faded. The jerky and harsh movement of a moment ago was replaced by the calm and pleasant touch of her skin as he took her hand in his. He could stare into her eyes for the rest of his life, but even that wouldn’t be long enough.

"It’s Frank – I know it!" Rita said over the scream of the siren as she rose up on her toes and turned to look back down the track.

It was a look that tugged on Justin’s heart. The fact that she chose his brother couldn’t quell the feelings that he had for her.

Marines and guards were racing everywhere in a mad scramble to take position. Some took cover along the ruins of junk cars while others set up behind the stockade of semi-trailers that comprised the perimeter wall on that side of town. Trains were no longer allowed to go through towns. All tracks were blown just inside the perimeter. Goods that came in and needed to continue on were carted across town by truck to the next train. That’s how it had been since the town of Amarillo fell. A train full of the infected rolled all the way into the heart of town – that was the end of Amarillo.

Justin grabbed Rita by the arm and yelled over the background noise. "We’ve got to go!"

"Go if you want," she huffed as she wrenched her arm free. "I’m going to wait here for Frank."

Before he could respond, a commotion started to bubble up among the marines as a man from one of the forward posts got up and ran back behind the perimeter. A moment later the rest of the men positioned at the forward posts retreated inside the perimeter.

Justin flagged down a guard who was barreling across the platform. "What is it?"

"We don’t know what—" a squawk on the radio cut him off before he could finish. But as the man keyed the mike clipped to his shoulder strap he handed Justin his binoculars.

Justin quickly focused on the distant blur that was beginning to crest the horizon a mile or so off. Almost as quickly as they went up, he dropped them back down. The second time he raised them to his eyes, it was slower and more deliberate. "OH SHIT!" The harsh and jerky movement had suddenly found a home again. He pushed the binoculars back into the guard’s hands and grabbed Rita around the waist. "Frank isn’t coming! You’re leaving with me."

Rita screamed in protest and started clawing and kicking, but she was no match for Justin’s determination. He wrapped one arm around her waist and dragged her toward the stairs as the train’s whistle blew once in the distance. Marines were still arriving and taking up positions along the perimeter as the tornado siren finally fell silent. It was only then that everyone heard the sounds of the approaching force.

Justin dragged Rita down the steps unaware of her screams to stop…. There were so many. So many infected marching and driving on each side of the train. That’s what he saw through the binoculars - a nightmare come to life. A line of battered old cars and trucks stretched out a good quarter of a mile from each side of the train. And there had to be over a thousand infected marching at the front of the line. Lawrence had been home to Frank, Rita and him ever since the evacuation convoy dumped them off nearly seven years ago. The people of this town had taken them in and offered them a home when they had none. They had lived through night raids and hunger. The town even killed a vampire once. But none of that seemed to matter now. What Justin saw through the lenses of the binoculars was more than an army – it was the end of Lawrence.

All of a sudden his movement snagged and he jerked to an abrupt stop. He yanked once out of instinct. When Rita resisted it brought him back to the present. Until then, he hadn’t heard her sobs or felt the sorrow in her back and tremble in her shoulders. He eased his grip and faced her.

"He might be on the train…" Rita cried as she released her clutch of the door handle she had anchored herself to.

"If he is alive, he’s not on that train," Justin said as he released his grip around her waist and took her hand. "We have to go now. We have to make it back inside the inner perimeter." Justin looked around and spotted his pickup near the back of the haphazard maze of parked vehicles. Then in a calm and assuring voice, he said, "Come on…"

Just as they began to move, a rocket launched from an M20. Rita tensed up, but allowed Justin to continue to lead her between the cars. About three seconds later the sudden clasp of thunder rolled across the clear sky. Several more tubular ‘bumfs’ sounded as more M20s launched. Deafening explosions and reverberations in the ground followed those sounds almost immediately. If the relationship between lightning and thunder were any rule, then the battle was coming to them in a hurry.

The roar and battle cries of infected humans started to roll in on the tracks. Almost instantly the cries were all but cut off by the metallic whine of mini-guns. Justin let go of Rita’s hand as their pace picked up to a full-fledged sprint. He slammed against the grill of his pickup, rolled to the passenger side and opened the door for Rita as the ground began to rumble. She jumped in as he sprinted around to the other side. The deafening sound of war was around them – gunfire, wild screams, explosions and the approaching train. Justin jumped in behind the wheel and screamed, "Hang on!" as he put the truck in gear and floored it. The tires spun on the gravel, then took hold and swung the tail of the pickup into the fender of a military jeep. The old Chevy rocked up on the passenger tires as marines began to spill out into the parking lot like floodwaters from a bursting dam. The depot was about to be overrun.

As the driver’s side of the truck rocked and slammed back down on the ground, Justin saw an infected man tackle one of the guards running for the parking lot. The two flew off the platform and kicked up a small cloud of dust as they hit the gravel. Justin barely saw the knife thrust through all the chaos as he swung the pickup around. But as he waited anxiously for a few marines to jump into the bed of his truck, he saw the flash of the guard’s pistols in his side mirror. He watched as the infected man fell backwards, off the guard. His knuckles flared as he clutched the wheel and stared at the reflection of the guard stammering up to his feet, blood spilling from the stab wound in his gut.

One of the marines in the back of the truck smacked the roof of the cab. "Go! Go! Go!"

Justin floored it as hordes of infected men, women and children spilled over the platform and swarmed the downed guard. But before they could rip apart his flesh, the marines in the back of the truck opened up with their mini-guns.

The Chevy cleared the gravel at the gate and just as it started to lay rubber on the broken asphalt of East Farmington, the train shot past the depot and hit the barrier at the end of the track. There was a thunderous explosion of heavy timbers and dirt. For a split second, at least in Justin’s mind, he wasn’t sure they were going to make it. Tons of earth jetted into the twilight sky as the diesel locomotive plowed a path straight for the road ahead of them. Justin locked onto the wheel and shoved his foot to the floor. The ground started shaking as the diesel locomotive came rumbling into his peripheral vision like a runaway about to t-bone him at a crossing. "Come on! Come on!" he cursed as he shook the wheel one last time.

Then his breath caught midway as his heart skipped a beat. Before he could gasp or swallow, the back wheels bounced up in the air as the ground exploded to their rear. Dirt and asphalt sprayed across the truck as the train cut through East Farmington not more than ten feet right behind them. A few cheers erupted from the marines hunkered down in the bed, and only then did Justin take his next breath. They escaped the collision, but it was far from over. The infected had broken through the outer perimeter around Lawrence. And nightfall was right behind them. Vampires would be coming.

Justin looked at Rita. She had her knees drawn up to her chest and was staring at the floor. It wasn’t so much a look of fear from the death they just cheated, as it was the bitter look of having her hopes crushed. He quickly reached over and gave her a reassuring squeeze as they sped toward the next intersection.

Justin yelled, "Hang on!" to the men in the bed as he threw the wheel to the right.

The truck bounced over the shoulder as the mini-guns opened up again. This time it was dark enough to see the flame from the barrels. Rita sprang to life and jumped around to look out the rear window. "They’re behind us!" She grabbed Justin’s shoulder as she watched the marines unload their weapons into the mob of cars behind them. Then her nails dug in. "I’ve never seen so many…."

Justin glanced in the rear view mirror but couldn’t see past one of the marines. The side mirror though put everything in perspective. That’s when he saw the last remnants of the sun disappear over the horizon. "Shit!" Then three loud pops cracked the window behind his head.

Rita jerked back forward and was immediately thrown against the passenger door as Justin took a hard left. As soon as the truck straightened back out, she pushed off the door, strapped on the seat belt and yelled, "They’ll come won’t they?"

Justin took a quick swipe at the sweat trickling down his face as metallic pings swept across the tailgate like fat raindrops on a tin roof. Then he glanced at her. A single nod told her everything she needed to know. The truck shot through one residential intersection after another as they raced for the town’s inner perimeter. That was their last real line of defense – the town’s only hope.

One of the marines slammed back against the rear window of the cab and then rolled over the side. Justin saw him hit the asphalt in the side mirror. The man barely had a chance to stop rolling before several infected pounced on him and began to feed like a savage pack of wild dogs. As gruesome as that was, it was all the cars and trucks that scared him most. He saw them everywhere – on the road, on the shoulders, driving across open lots and front yards alike. But most frightening of all, were the cars veering off at the last intersection. Those were the cars that would try to cut him off.

The Chevy skidded around the corner onto US 40. The western gate was less than three-quarters of a mile straight ahead. He could almost make out the guards and marines posted along the top of the stockade. The inner perimeter was a wall the town fabricated nearly four years ago. It was made up of just about anything they could find. Some sections were mortared cylinder block, others were crushed cars stacked ten high. But by far the vast majority was made up of existing buildings. The western gate was actually modeled after a floodgate. Its skin was made up of steel plate welded over a one-foot thick honeycomb of angel-iron. All in all, it stood nearly twenty feet tall and took over thirty men to slide it across the tracks to seal off downtown from US 40. But the inner perimeter didn’t get its strength from either the wall or the gate. What gave downtown a fighting chance at defending itself was the open ground just outside the wall. When the wall went up, the town also razed every building and house extending two blocks out from it. Then dozers swept the area clean. The only cover that the infected or vampires would find, would be what they brought with them.

Two blocks from crossing into the open zone, Justin saw the gate sliding shut.

Rita screamed, "We’re not going to make it!"

"We are!" Justin yelled as he started honking the horn and flashing the headlights. A heartbeat later, they hit the open zone and one of the spotlights positioned on the wall lit up the cab. Justin threw an arm up to shield his eyes as the stockade wall ignited with the spark of gunfire. Rita grabbed him and for a split second, time seemed to stop. He didn’t see his life pass before his eyes. In fact he couldn’t see anything for that split second. It was that uncertainty that scared him most. Then just like that, the spotlight swung off the cab and lit up the mob behind the truck. That’s when he realized the guards on the wall were shooting at the vehicles to their rear.

He bit down and pumped the wheel. The gate had stopped halfway across the street. They were going to make it. He glanced over and met Rita’s eyes, but before he could say a word, a bullet blew out the rear window.

Justin locked up the brakes as the Chevy jumped the tracks in front of the closing gate. One of the few marines still standing in the back flew over the cab and hit the ground rolling as the truck skidded sideways to a stop. But that didn’t matter. Justin didn’t even notice the civilians and guards diving out of his way. The only thing he saw was the sudden snap of Rita’s body as the seatbelt grabbed hold and jerked her back against the seat.

The pickup rocked back over its rear wheels as Justin jumped across the seat and grabbed her. "Baby!" he cried out in fear.

Then suddenly and unexpectedly, but ever so gleefully, Rita shoved him off her. "Get off me Jus."

A shiver of relief rolled up his arms as a nervous smile eased across his face. "I thought you were hit."

"Yeah!" Rita exclaimed. "Hit by your shitty driving." Then after a second to square her body, she looked back at him and said with a grin as she opened the door, "Someone might think that you didn’t even have a driver’s license."

Justin smiled as he jumped out from behind the wheel and joined the bedlam of people rushing to close the gate behind them. Some people were rushing to tend to the marine who rolled over the cab, while others were lifting the bodies of two dead marines out of the bed of his truck. Justin looked around for others. He didn’t know exactly how many marines had jumped in before they raced out of the depot, but figured there had to have been at least six. But as he looked at the faces and into the eyes of those scampering around the truck, he realized that the only marine who made it was the one slowly getting up to his feet on the other side of the truck. That’s also when he realized that the gunfire had stopped. Besides marines barking out orders and the white noise of numerous mumblings and conversations, the night had turned eerily quiet.

Rita walked over and put her arms around Justin. This time she was serious. She pressed the side of her face to his and whispered, "Thank you for coming to get me Jus."

Justin lost himself in the moment and was about to give in to his desire to kiss her, when several marines ran up with their weapons drawn. He quickly stepped back before Rita caught wind of his intention. "Blood test you know," he offered in explanation as one of the marines tossed over a test kit. It was exactly what he needed, a quick diversion that would allow him to corral his feelings before he did something that could never be taken back. He pricked the tip of his finger and dabbed the test strip. "Just doing what Frank would do. Except that Frank wouldn’t have needed any help to rescue you."

Rita displayed the negative result on her test strip to the marines as she looked over at him. "You did okay."

He kept his feelings in check and simply smiled. Once the marines had their test results, he took her hand and led her around the front of the truck. "I think we actually owe our lives to this man," Justin said as he presented Rita to the lone surviving marine. "I’m Justin Harcore and this is Rita Wells."

The marine wiped his hands across the front of his shirt and then extended his right. "Pete Foley. I’d say your quick thinking and driving had a little to do with saving our asses."

As Rita and Pete shook hands, one of the guards up on the wall yelled down, "They stopped." He glanced back out beyond the wall and then waved everyone up for a look. "They all stopped back on the other side of the dead man’s zone."

Justin grabbed Rita’s hand as they followed Pete over to the nearest makeshift stairs. When they got to the top and joined the others who were gathering along the catwalk, they found themselves confronted with the presence of an evil the likes of which had never been seen in Lawrence. Forces were still joining the masses of infected on the other side of the dead man’s zone. Men, women and children were walking up and stopping under the cover of buildings on the other side. Cars, trucks and buses blocked US 40 and the side streets for as far as the eye could see. The infected were surrounding the west side of Lawrence. But that’s all they were doing. They were advancing. They weren’t shooting. They simply stood under the glow of torches and waited.

As town folks continued to converge on the catwalk above, one of the ranking marines below called his squad over. They were too far away for Justin to hear what was being said. But when he saw the marines drive out in different directions after breaking formation, he had a good idea of what was going on. They were checking to see if infected had surrounded the entire town.

"You have a brother Frank?"

Justin turned back around and joined Rita and Paul in their watch of the infected. "Yeah, he’s my older brother."

Pete nodded. "Didn’t know him well, but enough to know that he was a good man."

Justin sensed the fret in Rita’s hand at the mention of Frank. He motioned toward her with his head. "Rita and Frank…"

Pete understood and stopped before going any further.

"What’s that?" Rita asked as she pointed across the dead man’s zone to a group of infected huddled at a corner of one of the buildings.

Pete’s reaction was almost instantaneous. He jerked around toward town and yelled out, "Vampire!"

Screams of panic filled the night. But Justin didn’t move. He stood there; stiff jawed in the face of death. He watched the dark blur leap from the huddle of infected. It was almost as if it flew. Then his heart suddenly started racing as he watched it hit the ground on all fours, thirty-feet inside the dead man’s zone and leap again. Part man, part something else, its strength and power clearly visible in the distant torchlight. It leaped once more and disappeared in the darkness.

"Jus!" Rita screamed as she yanked him by the hand again.

But it took the whine of mini-guns to break Justin from his trance. He glanced at the marines lighting up the night from their positions along the stockade. Then he glanced at Rita. He saw the fear in the whites of her eyes as men and women scrambled down the stairs behind her. Instinct suddenly took over. Without any thought guiding his actions, he followed her down the stairs and sprinted after the mob. Everyone was racing for the marines who had taken cover behind a line of cars two blocks down the street. Justin and Rita ran past his pickup and that’s when he heard the scream. He glanced over his shoulder in mid-stride just as one of the armed marines along the catwalk disappeared. But no magic came to play here. Something tackled the marine with the force of a runaway Mack truck and crashed down on the hood of a car a full sixty feet away. There was time for one short scream and flail of arms before blood and flesh shot up into the night sky. Then mini-guns fire drove the creature back into the shadows. It was more than he could watch.

As Justin turned forward, one foot caught the other. One moment he was running hand-in-hand with Rita toward the marines at the next intersection. The next, he was sliding shoulder first on the hard asphalt. He lost his baring for a second in a blind roll. By the time things came to a stop and he was able to spot Rita, she was running back for him. He reached for her hand as he scampered to his feet, but that’s when he heard the woman’s scream.

He swung back toward the gate. It was an old woman crawling on the ground next to a stalled car just left of the gate. Then a cloud of dust kicked up in the shadows. It was a good fifty yards off, but he could still hear the whimper of fear, the last fledgling of fight before the body and mind both give up. It raised a fear that rode the course of his spine. Then there were the eyes. There was no mistaking the glow of those damned eyes. It was a vampire… a vampire feeding on one of the marines. He looked back at the woman clawing at the ground, trying to get up.

"Hurry!" he pleaded as he slammed his fist against the asphalt.

He felt the soft touch of Rita’s fingers slide around his hand, but couldn’t pull his eyes from the old woman. Even if she made it to her feet she wouldn’t be fast enough. A heartbeat later, Justin pulled his hand from Rita’s as he turned toward her. The instant their eyes met - the message was clear. "Go!" he urged.

She spun around and took off running for the marines at the next intersection, as Justin spotted his pickup. He didn’t think about what he was doing – he just did it. He took off in a mad dash as the vampire gorged itself on the marine's blood. A second later he grabbed the door handle in full sprint as the vampire threw its head back and screamed victoriously at the night sky. In one fluid motion, Justin swung around the door, jumped in and started the truck just as the vampire spotted the old woman using the car to pull herself up to her feet.

The Chevy’s back tires smoked against the asphalt as the vampire suddenly leaped to attack. The truck squirreled out of a fishtail and then shot off straight toward the old woman. Before Justin had a chance to consider that she might not be able to get out of the way, a weighty thud landed on the street right in front of her. She tried to scream, but when the creature rose up on its hind feet, the sight stole even that from her. All she could muster was a frantic grab of her chest as she fell back against the car.

Justin screamed and hit the headlights! The sudden glare of the truck’s high beams spun the creature around with one hand poised to strike. It was a split second chance for the old woman - and she seized it. She shoved off the car and stumbled to the ground just before the pickup slammed into the vampire. The Chevy hit with such force that the rear tires popped off the ground and sent Justin crashing into the steering wheel as it sandwiched the vampire against the woman’s car. But if it were that easy, the war wouldn’t still be raging after seven years.

An animalistic cry of pain echoed from the massive chest of the vampire as it threw back its head and screamed. Then it’s face twitched once as it found Justin gingerly pulling back from the wheel on the other side of the shattered windshield.

"Shit!" Justin yelled as he jerked back from the dash right before the vampire’s two-inch talons blew out the windshield. Then just as the vampire was about to reach in and rip out his throat, he kicked the door open and rolled out.

The old woman was on her feet, thirty-feet back, watching from where the car was before Justin crashed into it. By the time he ran up and slid his arm around her, the screeching sound of bending metal was filling the night behind them. He shot a quick glance back at his truck. The front wheels were four feet off the ground and climbing steadily as the vampire pressed the front end of the Chevy over its head. In seconds and it would be free. They took off in a spirited dash to escape but barely made it fifty yards before they heard the crash of his truck hitting the ground upside down.

"Duck!" It was Pete and Rita running up with several armed marines.

Justin hit the ground with the old woman and immediately flipped onto his back. But he wasn’t prepared for what he saw. The shock snagged his breath and nearly stopped his heart. He was eye-to-eye with the vampire. It was standing right over them. He didn’t notice the blood dripping from the fangs on each side of its mouth or the giant clawed hands about to strike. All he could see was the look of vengeance in the eyes of the creature. It was personal.

Justin shielded the old woman with his arm and was about to shut his eyes when bullets sprayed across the chest and shoulders of the vampire. Little red welts popped up through the mat of short, dusty hair. The creature jerked up and stared defiantly at the charge of approaching marines.

Another spray from a mini-gun ripped across the vampire and sent it staggering back as the marines stopped in a half-circle just a few yards off. It locked eyes once more on Justin before throwing its head back and screaming into the night air. Similar guttural sounds echoed up from other positions around the stockade wall. Before the last echo died, the creature turned and dropped on all fours. Three leaps later it was on top of the stockade wall. Then it disappeared back into the night.

"Jus!" Rita cried as she dropped down and took his arm. "I was so scared."

Justin took a deep breath as he tried to calm the quiver in his shoulders. "I’m fine," he gasped as he took Rita’s hand while helping the old woman to her feet.

"Thank you young man," the woman sighed as she clutched one hand to her chest. "I thought my time was up."

Justin rubbed her shoulder and smiled as he worked to catch his breath. "Almost… but not tonight."

"They’ve gone," Pete announced as he scanned the area. Then he turned to the other marines. "Take care of the wounded." If any of the wounded tested positive, they were as good as dead.

"Thanks for coming back for us."

Pete walked over to Justin and eyed him once over. "Not sure if that was incredibly brave or just incredibly stupid."

"Probably a little of both."

Pete nodded and smiled. Then he looked around the perimeter again. "Why’d they retreat?"

"Are the infected still out there?" Rita asked.

Justin looked at her. Then he and Pete exchanged stares. A second later, Pete was leading the way as all three walked back over to the stockade wall. Two marines with mini-guns went up first to secure the area. When the ‘all clear’ came down, the others joined them.

The infected were still standing just across the dead man’s zone. None of them had left. None of them had come any closer. They simply stood swaying silently in the torch light, like reeds in the wind.

"What are they doing?" Justin asked out loud as he took Rita’s hand.

Pete looked down the dead man’s zone in both directions. The infected had set in like a tick on an old hound dog. He paused and lowered his face for a second. Then as he looked over at Justin he said in an air of disbelief, "I think we may be under siege."

"Are you kidding?"

A few pistol shots rang out as marines tested the wounded. "It makes sense," Pete said. "Perfect sense. They’ve cut off our supply of food. Windmills are probably down too. Come this time tomorrow… batteries will be down and we’ll probably be talking in darkness."

"We can use car headlights to light up the place." Rita offered.

"Yeah… but only as long as we have gasoline. No word yet from the east side, but my guess is they’ve cut off any hope of barges coming up river. That means no gasoline."

"And no more ammunition… right?"

Pete looked at Justin. No verbal answer was needed. Then he motioned toward the hordes of infected surrounding the town. "Vampires have a steady and willing source of nourishment out there. We’ll be easy pick’ens once the food starts running low."

"How do you know?"

Pete swallowed and looked at Justin. "Because now I know what happened to Topeka."

"What about Topeka?" Rita asked as she stepped closer.

"No one has heard from Topeka in over two weeks."

The second and third night went by without incident. Every morning the town commander called a meeting in the town’s auditorium to update the status of any activity. Each day was the same. No vampires were spotted. No movement from the infected.

Justin and Rita spent the third night talking about Frank and the war. Most people had forgotten that the first sign of a vampire came outside Boulder, Colorado. It was simply found one day, dead on a hiking trail. No one even knew what it was at first, but soon after that people began to disappear and infection started to sweep across the state. By the time anyone understood what was going on – Denver had already fallen.

But then Justin’s brother Frank knew all this. He hadn’t forgotten. Frank always wondered about the vampire found dead outside of Boulder. What could kill a creature so powerful and resistant to death? By the next morning, Justin and Rita couldn’t quit thinking about it either. After all, they had just seen a vampire run off after being hit by a pickup and taking over fifty rounds from a mini-gun.

Standing room was even hard to come by as over 400 crowded into the auditorium in hopes of hearing something good in the daily status meeting. "Anything else to report?" the town commander asked as he shuffled the morning reports into a neat stack on the podium.

Justin rose from one of the benches near the back of the hall. "Does anyone know what killed the vampire they found outside of Boulder?"

Civilians, marines and guards all turned toward the young man. "What exactly are you talking about son?" the commander asked as he stepped out into the open.

Pete pushed out of a crowd of marines that were resting up against the windows. "Some people say that before the war started, a dead vampire was found outside of Boulder."

"How sure are you of this?"

Pete looked at the commander and then at Justin before addressing the entire crowd. "It’s just what I’ve heard." He looked around at the questioning faces. "Look… we’ve all heard things. Some of those things, as awful as they are, we’ve found to be true."

Justin spoke up. "It is true. Frank talked about it." A soft murmur spread across the crowd. "Look… a lot of you know my brother. You know he is a man of fact. He isn’t given to wild fire rumor… not without substance. If he said that a vampire was found dead – then you can believe it."

A man stood up near the front. "Let’s say that it is true… what good does that do us."

Pete stepped in before Justin could respond. "If we knew what killed it…" he glanced back at Justin, "then maybe we could fight our way out of here."

The town commander regained control of the discussion. "That’s all well and good if it’s true, but even if it is we don’t know what killed it."

Justin tensed up. "I’ll go to Boulder."

"What’s that son?"

"I’ll go to Boulder and find out how it died."

The commander chuckled to himself. "I appreciate your enthusiasm son, but are you forgetting the mob of infected surrounding this town. And if by some miracle you’re able to get through them you’d have to fight your way across the state. Don’t forget that we have no idea of what kind of nuclear fallout still exists around Denver. And for that matter, we don’t even know if Boulder is still standing after the nuclear strike on Denver. And if it is, I think we’d all agree that area is smack dab in the middle of the vampire forces." The commander stopped to shake his head in disbelief. "No one’s been there in years."

Justin dropped his shoulders and stood for a second. But then he thought about his parents, and about this town. He pulled his shoulders back and said, "I will." He looked down at Rita who was seated beside him and settled on her eyes. "We came here with nothing. No parents. No home. No life." He saw the warmth in her eyes and gave into it. "I wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for this town. This is my chance to even it up. Let me go. Let me find a way. Let me try to help you who have helped me."

Silence filled the auditorium. Just as the commander was about to speak, Pete stepped forward again. "I’ll go with him. We’ve got to try something… or we’re going to end up like Topeka."

An air of apprehension swept across the crowded room as all eyes turned to the commander. He lowered his head in thought and didn’t say anything for nearly a minute. But then just as a murmur started to rise, he looked across the filled auditorium at Justin. "Okay."

As soon as the meeting was adjourned, Justin and Pete were called into a side room with the commander. Pete followed Justin in and was about to close the door when Rita shoved her arm through. "I’m going too."

Justin swung around at the sound of her voice. "Oh no… you’re not going."

"The field isn’t any place you want to go," Pete said as he tried to nudge Rita back out the door.

Rita pushed Pete’s arm to the side and stepped through to Justin. "I don’t care. If I have to choose between dying here or dying out there with family… I choose family. Frank is all I have."

Justin stared at her. Her face was the only face that he’d every wanted to wake up to each morning. They weren’t blood relatives and they weren’t yet kin by marriage, but just the same, she was the only family he had left now that Frank was gone. His mind told him to refuse her request, but his heart lacked the strength to do so. Justin pulled out a chair for her. "She can come."

"Let’s all sit down," the commander said. "I want to hear how you plan to get out of town."

Pete spoke right up. "The escape tunnel."

"What tunnel?" Justin asked.

The commander raised a hand to stop the discussion. "That’s not an option."

Pete pushed on away and said, "Come on…. let’s think this through. We’d be lucky if we could get a dozen people out before the infected pounce on the tunnel." He paused to lean toward the commander. "Who’s going to pick the ones who go… and then like you said, would they even have a chance once they got to the other side of the perimeter?"

"What tunnel are you talking about?"

Pete turned to Justin and Rita. "It’s part of the sewer system. We installed several break away walls that look solid, but that you can push through. It goes all the way to the old country club."

"That’s it," Justin said as he brought his hand down on the table, "that’s how we’ll get out."

"Hold on. If you use that tunnel, that’ll be it. There won’t be any escape for the rest of us."

"I know," Pete said. "In fact I recommend that once we’re inside, you back fill it and seal off the tunnel."

 

Two hours later, a small group of marines stood around an open manhole in an empty lot next to the stockade wall. Justin, Rita and Pete each wore backpacks stocked with three days food and water rations. Pete decided they should go without mini-guns and opted for the smaller, more versatile assault rifles that wouldn’t hinder their mobility in the field. Firepower wouldn’t save them. If they were going to make it, their survival would rest on their ability to outthink and out maneuver the opposition. After a few subdued slaps on the back, handshakes and bids for success, Pete climbed down the manhole. Rita went next and then Justin.

Justin descended slowly, each rung of the ladder taking him deeper into the dark, cool dampness of the sewer junction below. It was another world below ground: one without light or sounds of the living. When his foot touched the floor, he took one last look at the faces staring down from above before quickly joining Rita and Pete about ten yards down the tunnel. A few seconds later, the bulldozer’s diesel engine roared to life above. They flicked on their flashlights and flicked off the safeties on their rifles, as they watched bucket loads of dirt cascade through the manhole and pile on the cement floor like sands from an hourglass. One thing became startlingly clear as the natural light slowly faded away.  The only way out lay ahead of them.

 

I hope you enjoyed it.    I'd never really written a vampire story before, and as any of you who've read my work know, I like to put a little different spin on conventional plots.    In this case, my intention all along was to make this serial an interactive experience - starting with the third installment where I'd let the readers determine the fate of not only our heros (including the characters from 'The Fall of Post #17), but also the country as a whole.    Thanks for reading!   J/W

23
Jun
08

My vampire serial ‘Survival’….

Still no word yet from Amazon as to when they're going to start accepting submissions again.    For all those who downloaded 'Survival - The Fall of Post #17' I ask for your patience - at some point in time I'm sure that Amazon will re-open their Shorts Program and then you'll be able to read the second installment 'Survival - The Seige of Lawrence'.    Until then, please remember that you can check out the first chapter from two of my finished manuscripts on my website jonathonwise.com.

Thanks, J/W




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