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 Post subject: Phoenix Rising Series
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:39 am 
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As many of you know, I have written two books in my Phoenix Virus series (Phoenix Rising and Through the Ashes). I am working on book 3, and I've decided to go ahead and do a little advertising since my 8 year old Dell finally took a crap and I've had to rewrite most of book three. Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of Phoenix Rising: Evolution. I hope you enjoy it. You can purchase the books in the Kindle Store or from Smashwords. The awesome cover work is courtesy of Gunmetal Crew Chief.

Phoenix Evolution: Book 3 of the Phoenix Virus Series

Chapter 1

December 26th, 2012

My legs were on fire. I don’t know how long I have been running at this point. I just kept sucking wind and forcing my feet into the ground. My camouflage jeans were already torn in several spots and my shirt was completely soaked through with both sweat and blood. I’d considered dropping my carbine a few times, but I knew better. I was going to need it. I ditched my pack long ago…maybe a few hours ago? It was about the same time I ran out of ammo for the pistol. It couldn’t have been that long ago…could it?

My sense of time was completely gone.

I’ve been running most of the last 6 months from some things…towards others. I fully expected the rest of my life to be more of the same. There are people in my life that made the pain worth it…every second of it…no matter how long each second tortured me.

Damn this rifle is getting heavy. Screw it. I thought, tossing it off to the side of the trail. There were only 5 rounds left anyway. Hell of a lot of good that would do me.

I should have been paying better attention…maybe I shouldn’t have…survival is all relative at this point. Just when you think everything is going great and some sense of normalcy is setting in, those damn things rear their ugly heads…at least sometimes you get a clear shot when they do.

Where the hell am I? Am I even going in the right direction anymore? Have I passed it? Pay attention damnit! If you have to stop to rest…stop. You’ll do no good if you finally get there and cough up a lung.


I tried to hold back the laughter…the laughter that only a man who realizes how utterly ridiculous his situation is…laughter. I couldn’t. I just let it go.
So there I was, hysterically laughing when I turned the final corner. Hundreds of hungry eyes turned as one and locked on to me like meat seeking missiles.
I dug my heals in, and slid to a stop like Wile E Coyote. I should have kept the carbine. I thought while drawing my beat up machete.

“COME ON YOU BASTARDS!” I croaked, “DINNER IS HERE!”

***********

I woke up with a start, a cold sweat soaking through the sheets in the stuffy apartment. I rolled over and looked at Nic, who was sleeping soundly with Temp cradled under one arm. Along the opposite wall an old army cot was set up, and KK was sawing logs.

I sat up, groggy and still tired. At least you are sleeping now. I thought as I shuffled to the sink and splashed some cold water on my face. I looked at myself in the mirror, and ran a hand over the week old stubble. I swung the mirror towards me, revealing a shallow medicine cabinet. I checked my razor, and dispensed a small amount of shaving cream in my hand. After thoroughly rubbing it into my new growth beard, I carefully began to pull the razor across my face. When I was done and satisfied I hadn’t missed any spots, I put the razor back and wiped my face down.

You almost look human. Human enough anyway.

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"If guns kill people, then I can blame mispelled words on my pencil." - Larry the Cable Guy

Check out my Zombie Novels!; Phoenix Rising; ...and the sequel: Through the Ashes


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:57 am 
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I've also taken some heat for my rather brutal cliff hanger of an ending first book. Well, I'm a kind of a shit head, so here is an excerpt from book 2, Through the Ashes, regarding the cliffhanger from Phoenix Rising. Enjoy!

Although I wouldn’t say the desert was crawling with them, there were too many to give me the false hope that we could hold out at our current location. I was low on ammo, it was cold, and we did not have much food. The worst thing was we didn’t have any way to run either. The men that stole the truck and killed Joss a few hours ago had taken all of our supplies…and our sole means of transportation. Danny and John are nowhere to be seen and Nic is wounded. Ironically, the kids seem to be doing just fine. I guess ignorance really is bliss. Wait…who the hell am I talking too? I’m losing it. I snapped myself back to the present just as one of them nearly walked up behind me. I punched a 9mm slug into its forehead, and then loaded my second to last mag. I wish I had kept the suppressed .22 instead of giving it to Danny. I had 30 rounds left for the pistol. My hunting rifle wouldn’t be much additional help with only 7 rounds.

I sat up, my hands shaking, my body shivering and the healing wound on my leg throbbing from sitting atop this damn mesa in a far too cold of a night. I scanned the desert floor below, and with the incredibly bright moon and stars characteristic of the desert, I was able to easily see the creatures wandering around in the desert below me, even more so with the aid of my night vision monocular. They were filtering out of Socorro with more frequency over the last hour. At first they were coming in one’s and two’s. Now there were dozens of them. They didn’t seem to know where we were, and apparently they were not particularly intent on climbing the mesa. Perhaps they just instinctively took the route of least resistance. The few that did wander towards the top, I was forced to eliminate. The flash and bang from my pistol drawing the attention of the others in the area but the foothills and the ensuing echo making it difficult for them to determine my exact location. Oh what I wouldn’t give for a machete, an ax, a sledge hammer, or even a blue cord wrapped katana.

The cold was getting the best of me. My feet were numb and achy. The leg one of those things took a chunk out of was throbbing like someone was pounding on it with a sledgehammer despite being mostly healed. I wondered how Nic and the girls were doing. Fortunately one of the first things she did when setting up camp was to erect a small 3 person dome tent. She was huddled in there now with Kaydence and Temperance. Hopefully the emergency blanket and their body heat will be enough to get them through until morning. I was starting to have doubts about the likelihood of surviving the night.

I would love to be able to stand up and do some jumping jacks, or even just run in place, but that would equate to ringing the dinner bell for those disgusting pus sacks. I thought back to my training, nothing useful there other than how to build a fire and wear proper clothing. My cargo pants and fleece jacket were the best I could do. I suppose I could stuff my shirt with leaves or other similar vegetation, but there isn’t anything like that in this desert. Everything here pokes, stings or tries to eat you.

I remembered watching an interview with Herschel Walker when I was a kid. He was a football player and was sharing his methods for physical fitness. If I remember correctly he was a big believer in isometrics. By flexing opposing muscles you can actually get a workout, or so he said. If that is correct, then the constant muscle contractions will create heat as work is done. It’s worth a shot. I wonder if Hershel was now a…well, walker?

“Focus Jim, don’t lose focus,” I whispered to myself as quietly as possible but just loud enough that I wondered whether something else had heard me.
I started by making continuous balls with my toes, careful not to scrape my boots across the rocks and thus making sounds that would draw attention. After the muscles started burning, I moved to my calves and then worked my way up to my torso. I went through the progression 2 more times. When I was done, I did feel like I’d done some work, but I was also still freezing cold.

I decided it was time to go check on Nic and the girls. After scanning the desert floor one more time to make sure nothing was heading in our direction, I slowly stood up and did my best impression of a ghost moving up the side of the hill.

The mesa, known by the locals as “Shadow Mesa”, was several miles outside of Socorro. We stopped here the day before as a temporary respite during our journey. We had hoped that the infection hadn’t reached this far, but our hopes were dashed when we approached and found that anyone not dead was fleeing like rats from a sinking ship. We planned on circumventing the city to avoid most of the infected, but the Mog was low on fuel. After Danny and John took the Mog into the city to try to find fuel for the big truck, we had unwelcome visitors. Several men arrived at the camp and immediately made their ill intentions known. We suspected there may be predators other than the dead roaming about, but I thought that by keeping us relatively isolated it would lessen the likelihood that we’d come into contact with them. To be honest, I also didn’t think that those sorts would start showing up until weeks or months after the outbreak.

When they rushed into camp, they didn’t waste any time. I was caught by surprise as well. I didn’t even know they were there until I heard the first shot…the shot that wounded Nic. I was away from camp attempting to hunt down some food when it became obvious they were going to execute the women. I did what I could, but Jocelyn was killed in the crossfire. I had known her for such a long time, my mind was still a little numb from the loss. I guess immediate concerns have me preoccupied right now. If I hadn’t decided to traipse off into the desert to chase feral hogs, perhaps I would have been able to do something to prevent them from killing Joss and stealing our truck. It left us with only the tent and some cooking supplies, but no actual food other than what I had in my small hunting pack. It was a mistake that I will not make again.

My hunting pack…I did not have much of a chance after the bandits left before I heard the first moan filtering up the side of the mesa. I was pretty busy after that for quite some time. I wondered if there was anything in the pack I was overlooking. I had my night vision, binoculars, a few extra rounds for the rifle, an emergency blanket and my PLD, or personal locating device.

Now there is a thought.

I had completely forgotten about the PLD and hadn’t even considered it as a useful option at this point. The power went out several days before and the cell towers were not working since then as the plague and its various creations ravaged everything in man’s modern world. I wondered if there was anyone listening to the emergency system? I guessed I didn’t have anything to lose by trying. The small personal locating device is designed to transmit a high power signal to satellites, transmitting the units’ location to within 100 yards. The unit also had a radio beacon on a universal frequency for rescuers to pinpoint the units’ location as they closed in. The emergency signal the beacon transmits is relayed through a satellite to the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center where it is then relayed to local search and rescue groups. I was positive there were some military elements left, but I seriously doubted there were any local search and rescue left.

With nothing to lose, I knelt and opened my pack to withdraw the locator. I flipped the unit on, and watched as the confirmation indicator turned green, indicating that the satellite message had been sent. I snapped the unit to my belt to make sure it had a clear view of the sky, and then turned my attention back to the desert floor. That is when one of those things nearly stepped right on me.

I rolled to my right, drawing my pistol and bringing it up. The thing had initially lunged directly at me, and was in the process of regaining its balance. I adjusted my aim, and lined up the three glowing dots from my tritium pistol sights and pulled the trigger. The flash momentarily blinded me, but the wet ‘smack’ from the hollow point making contact confirmed a hit. I rolled one more time to give me some distance, and watched the now ‘deader’ thing roll a short ways down the hill before coming to rest against a pile of rocks.

I pulled my night vision out of my cargo pocket and looked down the hill. Several of those things had changed their course, heading in my direction, which had happened before. This time however, I noticed a larger group farther in the distance. There were easily a hundred of them…and they were all heading in our direction.

I turned towards the top of the hill as their hungry moans reached my ears and jogged the hundred yards back to the tent that sat alone on the top of the flat mesa. It was set up in a slight depression, so only the top half of the tent was visible. When I got within a few meters, I whispered to Nic, to let her know it was me. There was no response.

I unzipped the front of the tent, and crawled in. It was pitch dark, but I could hear their breathing. I didn’t want to use a light that would illuminate the entire tent from the outside, so I pulled up my night vision and saw a tiny pair of eyes staring back at me with a big toothless grin. I couldn’t help but smile, but the dropping sensation in my stomach reflected my fear of what was inevitable. Temperance was our second daughter. She was only 4 months old when the shit hit the fan a month ago. She started to squeak a cry, so I quickly shuffled forward on my knees and picked her up. She cooed quietly, and buried her head in my neck, rubbing her tired eyes with her miniature hands. She was so warm and fragile. Just holding her made me forget about how cold I was.

Laying on the other side of Nic was Kaydence. She was just over 2 years old and was rarely not moving, yelling, laughing or crying. She was laying on her back, with the space blanket pulled up to her chin and both arms spread out above her head. She was out like a light and softly snoring.

I shook Nic’s foot, but she didn’t move. I slapped her foot, and again she did not move. I moved towards her head, and shook her head. Still nothing.
“Nic!” I said as loud as I could without making too much noise. She still did not move.

I shifted Temp to my other shoulder, getting a half hearted squeal of disapproval from her before she fell back asleep, wiggling her arms and legs until they found warm, comfortable spots. I reached my free hand out and rested it along the side of her neck. She was warm, actually quite feverish, but had a strong pulse.

I hauled my hand back, and slapped her across the face. Still nothing! “What the hell?” I said to myself. I was very concerned. She seemed fine before I left…for someone that had been shot. The wound was a through and through in the muscle of her left shoulder. The bleeding had stopped and it was well dressed.
A moan from one of the walkers startled me. It was close! I started to lay Temp back down, and she snapped back awake, protesting with the beginnings of a tantrum. I pulled her back towards me and patted her on her back. She settled back down, but I wasn’t sure for how long. If she decided to wake up and cry, we were done for. With Nic unconscious and unable to be roused, I considered my limited choices. I guessed that we had about a half hour before the larger group made it to us. If they decided to follow the relatively flat desert below, then we might be okay. The problem was that last moan sounded like it was on top of the mesa already.

My first option was to try to take the kids and make a run for it. I’m sure Nic would want the kids safe, but I could not leave her here alive for those things’ midnight snack. The second option was that I could make a stand outside the tent. There are already more of them than I have bullets, and in the dark I’ve only been hitting just over half of my shots. I could also run along the mesa and try to draw the things off. I was positive that if I started yelling and shooting that one or both kids would wake up and start crying. I cannot leave them alone, especially if I was cut off from them.

Another moan faintly sounded from the direction of the horde headed towards us, expediting my decision process. I unzipped the front of the tent, and with Temp on my hip shuffled on my knees out of the tent and turned towards the last moan. Through the green hue of the night vision, I could easily make out a dozen slowly moving, shambling figures cresting the edge of the mesa. They were still headed towards us.

I decided that the best thing for my family was to enjoy the last few minutes we had together. I didn’t want my kids terrified during their last moments. With a determined walk, I headed for the pile of cooking utensils. A glint of steel caught my eye. “Good girl” I thought to myself and I picked up the spear point Cold Steel machete leaning up against the pile. Nic must have pulled it from the truck after we talked about gathering wood for a small fire. I walked back to the tent and crawled back inside, zipping the tent closed behind me. I hugged Temp, steeling myself against what I was going to be forced to do.

Trying to decide the best way to do it, I decided the best way would be to hold Temp close and hard. She would go quietly that way. I’d have to do the same to KK next, followed by Nic, then put a bullet in my own head. I sat down, resigned, and cradled Temp, humming softly. She again softly cooed, and I stuffed her binky in her mouth.

I sat there for a moment, listening to the moans and shuffling get closer. Suddenly, I began to fill with a hopelessness that I’ve never felt before. It made me angry. I could feel my face beginning to burn as the rage began to bubble to the surface.

I can’t do this. As long as I had a breath in my body, I will not quit on my family. I pulled my remaining spare pistol magazine out of the belt pouch, and pulled out four rounds, loading them into the magazine I emptied earlier. That would be my reserve magazine…for the 4 of us. I stuffed the 4 round magazine into my pant pocket, and sat quietly for a moment, rocking Temp slowly. Temp had drifted back to sleep, her tiny breaths next to my ear. I kissed her on the forehead, and then laid her back down next to Nic, pulling the emergency blanket up to her chin. I leaned forward and kissed KK on her cheek. She shifted slightly, and her eyes came open.

“Mommy-dadda?” she said in her little girl voice. “Holdee?” she said while reaching out with both arms for me.

I nearly jumped forward to shush her, but figured there was no point. Judging by those things’ frenzied moans they knew we were here somewhere.
“Hi baby,” I said, choking up with tears. “Daddy is going to be right back okay? Go back to sleep honey.”

“Okay dada,” she said, before laying back down. A cascade of terrifying moans emanating from outside the tent made her sit back up instantly, and she started to cry…not just cry, but wail.

“Now or never,” I said to myself, and unzipped the tent and took a step outside. She tried to come after me, but I zipped the tent up before she could make it.

I stood fully upright and looked around. There were now several dozen of the creatures. As I stood, their heads turned as one towards me, the moonlight reflecting off of their eyes. Still nearly 20 yards away, their mouths dropped open in a renewed low chorus of moans as their arms reached towards me.
I press checked my Sig, retracting the slide just enough to catch the glint of brass from a chambered round before reholstering it. KK was at a full blown tantrum in the tent, and Temp had woken and joined her…her little baby cry filling me with pain, regret…and outright hate for the situation we were in. Just a month ago we were rolling around in the living room laughing with KK crawling all over me and giggling.

Their two girls’ cries seemed to be whipping the dead into a frenzy. I unsheathed the machete, and took a few practice swings, mentally reacquainting myself with the feel for its heft and my grip. The spear point machete vaguely resembled a Roman Gladius or short sword. It was designed for chopping and thrusting with a point that was sharpened on both sides. I let it hang to my side as I held my head back, looking upwards into the night sky. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and smelled the decaying rot of the dead intermingled with the sweet scent of desert flowers. I said a quick prayer to anyone that may be listening, then leveled my gaze back towards the soon to be pieces of corpses in front of me.

My stomach churned as the adrenaline began to flow. I took one step forward, willing myself to be steady and true with my strikes, trying to expend the least amount of energy as possible. Then I took another step, working my way up to a slow jog. The image of a fireman on the nightly news at the beginning of this mess popped into my head. Alone and surrounded, the fireman made a stand before becoming surrounded and overwhelmed. I could not let them surround me. I had to keep moving, making every swing, every expenditure of valuable energy, count. I knew they wouldn’t tire and it would only be a matter of time.
My thoughts turned to the magazine with 4 cartridges in my pocket. If it came to that, I had to make sure I could get back to the tent and couldn’t let them cut me off.

I shot towards the first walker, bringing the machete up, driving the point of the blade in under its chin. Thick, clotted blood splashed out of the wound. I drove the blade up through the bottom of its skull, ripping it out as I spun, bringing the blade around on the next walker. I misjudged the distance and severed both of its arms at the elbow. The force of the blow spun the creature as I planted my right foot and reversed my swing at the next one. I caught it in a wide sweeping blow just below the ear, my blade nearly decapitating it as it deflected down and crushed through the vertebra in its neck.

I adjusted my grip, and swung back towards the zombie with no arms, plunging the spear tip deep into its eye. I spun around looking for more targets as all three zombies staggered, and fell in unison. After such a short series of moves, I could already feel myself getting winded.

Two more were approaching from either side, their hands reaching out for me. They seemed to be moving slowly, as if they were stuck in a pool of molasses. I sidestepped, planted my right foot and drove my other foot in the first one’s chest, knocking it backwards flat on its back. Reversing my momentum, which I knew was a waste of energy, I swung the machete as hard as I could at the second one. The blade bore into the side of its neck, burying itself in the bone. I twisted the handle and its head separated from its neck like a bottle cap. I quickly turned, placing my hand on the butt of the grip and drove it through the eye of the second one as it struggled to get up.

A group of four was almost on me as I shuffled the machete to my left hand and drew my pistol, firing quickly into each creatures’ forehead.

My head turned on a swivel as I spotted several of them shambling towards the sound of the panicked cries emanating from the tent. I sprinted towards them, swinging the machete madly, taking one’s leg off at the knee, firing a round into the head of another, chopping the top of another’s head off. The fourth one tried to turn as I swung, the blade slicing through its throat and its head flopping back. It stood there for a moment, arms still reaching and its hands opening and closing before I grabbed it by its collar and flung it to the ground.

I was breathing heavily, my arms and legs were starting to turn to jelly as I turned back towards the horde approaching me. The blade was dripping with thick clotted blood and tissue, the grip was getting slick and I didn’t think I could even maintain my grasp on it much longer.

I fought on to the point of exhaustion. Whirling, running, chopping. I was a blur…my actions were a blur…time was a blur. I have no idea how long I carried on before I was out of gas. I dropped to one knee, unholstered my pistol and slammed my last full magazine in and chambered a round. My hand slipped into my pocket and wrapped around the four round magazine, my fingertips running across the smooth feed lips and the jagged hollow cavity of the first round.

_________________
"If guns kill people, then I can blame mispelled words on my pencil." - Larry the Cable Guy

Check out my Zombie Novels!; Phoenix Rising; ...and the sequel: Through the Ashes


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:21 am 
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(Formatting errors courtesy of cut & paste)

_________________
"If guns kill people, then I can blame mispelled words on my pencil." - Larry the Cable Guy

Check out my Zombie Novels!; Phoenix Rising; ...and the sequel: Through the Ashes


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