But with a Whimper

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by TastingAshes » Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:14 pm

Ah... I have learned thy routine PB 8) Here we are again...the midnight writing hour!
(Kicks back with a stout drink)
Story-time!!!

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:11 am

For the next week, the National Guard was mounting sweep and clear operations out of Red River, mainly to see if anything remained in the area surrounding Eagle Nest. News crews continued to descend on Red River, which had by now become the center of what some were calling the campaign to wipe out the dead. More dramatic words brought to you by the media, but at least these were accurate. It was very much a campaign. The national guardsmen in Red River were anything but idle. Everyday, the Blackhawks were going out in advance of teams on the ground, and it was easy to pick up on how things were going. At least a dozen had been located near Eagle Nest and put down, though Taos Ski Valley was a complete ghost town; nothing living or dead was found there. A major operation involving two platoons swept the area around Cimarron, which had almost completely been evacuated to the Raton camp. Some had been found in Penasco and Chimayo, but as the days went on the law of diminishing returns collided with the determined military effort to return New Mexico to a state of calm.

During this time, the residents of Red River, safe inside their camp, followed the news as best they could, and those in the Best Western had the easiest time of that. What surprised some people was that the dead were being located in small numbers far away from where anyone thought they would be. A few, perhaps three or four, had been reported as being destroyed by armed citizens in Pecos, while at least seven had been spotted in the Jemez Mountains above Los Alamos, and when four of the bodies were shown to be the missing members of the Maturin family, speculation went crazy in the news about the true fate of Jeffrey Maturin, who, it was believed, had been the source of the disastrous outbreak in Espanola. Barely four days after the military had arrived in Red River, some people in high places (it was an election year, after all) were calling for a reopening of the Christopher Nessman autopsy case. That was getting at least some airtime on the news.

But the final tally had come in from the outbreak in Espanola, and that was by far the worst news of all. The town’s population had stood around nine thousand, but as the bodies were policed up and the refugees counted, the initial figure was that six thousand had been killed in the disaster, some turned into dead cannibals like their killers, others were now just piles of bones bleaching in the sun. The rest had been either evacuated, while the tiniest minority had been rescued by the military as they swept through the town. That made even the defenders of Red River grow cold with horror. Their town had been spared destruction, but the toll in Espanola was too terrible to not wring out every heart that heard about it.

Continuous sweeps of the surrounding area had not turned up any more of the dead, though the National Guard still patrolled the mountains and nearby roads. But things began to wind down. Patrols were lessened by the fifth day. The media got what interviews and photographs remained to be taken in Red River, including one that ran on the front page of the very newspapers Henry had read almost obsessively for months. It was of himself and his officers, posing in front of the cleared entrance to the convention center. Despite Henry’s contempt for drama and symbolism, he went along with it because he thought the photo would make a good keepsake. The photo was of the Red River Police Department holding the New Mexico state flag. The article was titled, “New Mexico Communities Remain Vigilant as Campaign Winds Down.”

Henry had a copy of that picture sent to him, though he did insist on the photographer taking another, if only because Henry wanted a specific one just for himself. It never ran in any news publication and was never meant to. In it, with the mountains behind them, Henry, Erika, Mayor Denning, his officers, and everyone who helped defend the town of Red River during that dark time when terrible enemies closed in around them, all stood or knelt, some giving thumb’s ups, others with the two-fingered ‘victory’ sign, while Henry and a couple of others held the heavy metal devil horns high. To him that was his Iwo Jima photo. That was his own personal “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

But after a few more days, with no sightings whatsoever, everyone in the camp just wanted to go home. The bodies were gone, the dead were no longer being spotted, and everyone just wanted to have their lives back.

On one night, Henry stood outside his hotel room. His people were asleep inside, but he contented himself by looking at the moon and stars, and the silhouettes of the buildings against the night sky. He just wanted to look at his town and feel that same state of peace he had moved to Red River to find. As he did, Major Royce came up to him.

“Evening, Chief.”

“Evening, Major.”

“I think you should know that my battalion has been ordered to stand down. We’re sending a company to take over for the one in Espanola. We still need to be concerned with looters and souvenir hunters out there. A lot came in, and gave our guys a lot of trouble. I think we might be maintaining a permanent presence there until someone upstairs figures out what to do with the place. I don’t think Espanola is going to exist anymore. I can’t imagine anyone who got out ever wanting to go back.”

“Have you heard anything about Taos Ski Valley or Eagle Nest?”

“Not a thing, but someone might just decide to either bulldoze them to the ground or let the buildings rot. Who knows? Whatever happens, happens. But I think our time in Red River is just about over. We’re leaving in a couple of days. What are you and your people going to do then?”

“I don’t know. Go home? Start over? That’s all there’s left to do. Start over. We wanted to get through this and we have. All we really wanted in the end was to keep our town, and here it is, still standing. So are we.”

“If your slopes are open this winter, I might bring my family up here. I’m not a half bad skier myself. You must be pretty good at it, Chief.”

“Never skied once in my life, Major.”

“Really? What, may I ask, draws a person to a ski town who isn’t a skier?”

Henry just stared off into the brilliant night sky again, drawing in a sentimental sigh. “You hear that?”

“I don’t hear anything. Other than my own people, I don’t hear a thing, Chief.”

“That’s it. That’s why I came here.”

The next morning, one of Major Royce's staff NCOs knocked on his door with a message to hurry.

"What the hell is it?"

"I don't know, Chief. They don't tell me anything. I just know that you're needed and it's urgent."

Henry left his room after kissing Erika and headed over to the command tent, where Major Royce was waiting.

"Morning, Chief."

"You needed me for something, Major?"

"There's a call for you on our field telephone on that desk there. Just pick it up...the caller is already on the line."

"I already spoke to my folks yesterday, so this better be good."

"Depends on your point of view." Major Royce and his staff left the tent to give Henry some privacy.

If anyone was listening outside, the conversation they heard would have gone like this:

"Henry Dane, Red River Chief of Police. Who is this? Yeah, right. Okay, who is this really? I must admit, you do sound like him, but...cute joke...okay. Joke's over. Stop pulling my damned leg already. Why would he call here? Wait...really? Are you serious? Huh...well I'm sorry, this is quite an...okay...okay...well, thank you, Mister President."
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:16 am, edited 3 times in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:38 am

When the National Guard began packing down, the residents of Red River began to gather their things and prepare to head home. But then, what did that really mean in the end? It was easy to just walk or drive home and sleep in one’s own bed. That hard part was returning to what was truly home, that is, to a place within themselves that would keep them safe and warm despite the memories of cold, bony hands scratching at their town, looking to slaughter all they found as they had done in Espanola, Eagle Nest, and Taos Ski Valley.

It would not be until the next day that the last of the National Guard would leave, but just about everyone, Henry included, believed that their job was done and no one could ask any more of them. Their accomplishments were beyond question. They had marched face-first into a disaster eerily reminiscent of the most entertaining parts of the bible and, against their own fears, doubts, and beliefs of life and death, had hunted the dead wherever they were found.

No one was completely certain how to take the first step into the next phase of their lives as they saw the military pack away their camp, to leave Red River to get back to small town life. It was not until George Sturgis got the ball rolling that the people began to believe that life would truly go on, and not in such a different fashion than it had in Red River for generations. He simply left, went home, grabbed a shower and a shave, and before the day was out, opened up The Mountaineer. Maybe it was just a determination to start living again, but the rest of the town saw it as symbolic. By the next day, Eleanor Miller had turned around the “open” sign in the front window of The Written Word, and Lew Clancy did the same at The Rough Rider. Tim Farrow bluntly told his people that by the next morning, the Save-Mor would be up and running again, and that they might have to pull extra shifts until the confusion was sorted out. The real boost came when once again, The Red River Griddle opened its doors, and the best burritos in the world were once again ready to maintain their fine reputation. What meant the most to Henry was when he shook hands with his own officers before they left the camp for the final time.

“Martin, you did a hell of a job. Thanks for keeping those bastards out. Thank you. I guess that we really were just too handsome to die here, weren’t we?”

“Damn right we were. See you tomorrow for the morning shift, huh?”

“Jay, Madeline, you guys really showed me something. You’ll both be fine officers one day. Hell, what am I saying? You both already are. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone, not anymore.”

All Madeline could do was wrap her arms around Henry, after which Jay shook his hand and simply said, “Wolverines, Chief.”

“Wolverines, you funny bastard. And Bumpy? What about you? You up for tomorrow morning? Ready to get back to the grind looking after this little burg of ours? This fine little place where nothing ever happens?”

“Chief…Henry…I don’t know. Been doing this my whole life…and all of that built up to this mess. Hell of a way to go out. You really think anyone in this whole world can ask anything of me? Ever again?”

“What are you saying, Bumpy?” Henry asked.

“Thirty years and then some, Henry. Thirty damned years plus. I think that I can go ahead and hang up the spurs. I’ve done my share, you understand? I really think I’ve done my share. It’s time, you know? It’s time.”

“Well, you earned that and more, Bumpy. But we’re having one hell of a retirement party. You’ve earned that, too. Martin’s buying, by the way.”

Martin replied, “I am?”

“Yes you are. It’s your turn, or did you forget that in all this craziness?”

As they turned to leave, Henry and Erika walked up to Mayor Denning, who was already packed and ready to head home. His car was still in the lot beside the convention center.

“Jim?”

“Henry. Is this it? Is it over? Is it really time to go home?”

“I think it is, Jim. I think we can finally go home. I’m about to head there now. I just want to go home, sleep in my own bed, get it on with a pretty little blond without the whole department in the next room, you know?”

“Pretty little blond?” Erika inquired. “Is her ass as nice as mine?”

That got a chuckle from Henry and Mayor Denning. “But Henry,” Mayor Denning said. “You really saved our town. It’s still standing, just like us. Hell of a thing you did. What a hell of a thing.”

‘Take care, Jim. See you soon enough.” Jim Denning began to head to his truck after planting a kiss on Erika’s forehead until Henry stopped him.

“Jim?”

“Henry?”

“We really did it, didn’t we? We really shook the pillars of the earth. We…we shook the pillars of the earth with our own hands.”

“That we did, Henry, that we did.”

Henry turned back to Erika. “I guess that’s it, then. Ready to go home?”

“You say goodbye to Major Royce yet?”

“A little while ago, yeah.”

“Then let’s go home, Henry. Let’s just go home.”

They got in Henry’s cruiser, taking it back to the station to switch out to his truck. As they passed the buildings on the main street, they saw one “open” sign after another, and while everyone was busy getting to their own homes, one thing had finally become a reality.

Red River, New Mexico was open for business.
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:46 am

Red River, New Mexico did pick up the pieces, as did everyone else whose lives had been affected by the so-called “Crisis in New Mexico.” Everyone remained glued to their TVs as the usual coverage of the aftermath, the experts who didn’t know what they were talking about and the political consequences came and went, though that would take a while.

Espanola, New Mexico, while still on the map and on road mileage signs, more or less ceased to exist. The death toll had been too great and most of the three thousand who had either been rescued or evacuated were not willing to return to a town that bore the fatal scars of the hell that had consumed it. Most scattered to the wind, going off to live with relatives in other cities and states, while some others just seemed to vanish, taking to the road despite the many offers of assistance from various sources. Over the years, the city fell into ruin. Most of the unclaimed valuables disappeared into government vaults until insurance claims could be filed. Most would never be seen again, just lost in some vault or drawer as the years continued to come and go. But Espanola became a sorrowful ghost town, the kind of place that camp counselors told their campers about. Eventually, there came a time in which Espanola passed almost into legend, and some would not travel anywhere near it in the daylight, so great was the loss.

A similar fate befell Eagle Nest. The dozen who had escaped never went back to do anything but claim their own property, and, it was said, take a little extra from their dead neighbors. But the town had been small, and after all of the political and legal wrangling, the houses were simply bulldozed, their remains carted away. Eagle nest was gone, and after years, there was not even a building remaining or a spot on the map to tell that a town had ever been there. So passed Eagle Nest, New Mexico.

Taos Ski Valley, on the other hand, had a lot of out-of-state financial backers who were not about to watch their cash cow wither and die, though for a time, there was not much they could do about it. The entire town had left for Raton, and none had ever come back. After opportunities had presented themselves after an economic revitalization several years later, some moved to make use of it. The ski slopes had become popular again, though more than a decade had passed before that happened. There was not, however, a single monument to those who had fled for their lives only to die horribly on their way to safety. In a sad way, Taos Ski Valley had forgotten its dead.

Several people in high places wanted blood for the death and destruction, but it proved to be hard to find. Everyone seemed to be pointing fingers at everyone else, first wondering how it could have happened, and then wondering how the government could not have known it would happen, but no smoking guns were ever found. The closest anyone ever came to finding a culprit was when the State Attorney General’s Office ordered an investigation into the autopsy of Christopher Nessman, and threatened to have a certain Nathan Marr and Frank Benevidez roasted on a spit if it was found out that they knew about it. The investigation did not last long. The records of the autopsy were found missing. Despite being questioned by state authorities, Sheriff Lucas Stahl claimed to not know what had happened to them. The matter was dropped not long after.

Alvin “Bumpy” Furlong retired a few months after the defense of Red River. Contrary to what some expected, the retirement party was held at The Rough Rider instead of the Mountaineer, and George Sturgis even closed The Mountaineer so he could attend. It was quite a party, and it was long said afterwards that anyone with a clear memory of that night wasn’t really there. He remained in Red River, living out his days in peace and quiet, visiting his friends at the station frequently.

A couple of years after the fight, Jay Paulsen and Madeline Blair moved in together, but never got married, not that they really needed to. They both continued in the Red River Police Department, but nothing ever quite compared to the monumental fight those days and the intense summer they had, and they were grateful for it. They were able to get back to their lives as small town cops.

Martin Turner married Gina Marlowe in a ceremony held at the park in front of the convention center. They had their first child within a year and two more as time went by. Their names were Henry, Erika, and Madeline. He and Henry remained best friends, while Gina’s and Erika’s friendship continued to grow.

Mayor Denning was reelected and didn’t give much thought to the higher offices some might have been grooming him for. Apart from being Mayor, he was still running his hardware store, still quick with a wink, and still did his best to remember what it meant to be mayor of Red River.

And Henry?

Erika moved in with him, but that took a while until her house had a buyer, nearly a year after those terrible days. She remained Henry’s secretary and dispatcher, though had taken to calling him by his name rather than “chief” while on the job. They never had children, though they did try. Henry remained in contact with Nathan Marr, Frank Benevidez, Lucas Stahl, and Calvin Ruiz, all of whom came to visit him in Red River on occasion. They spoke quietly sometimes of the bullets they dodged as some looked for heads for their wall after the Crisis in New Mexico.

In Henry's office, hanging on the wall near his desk was a greatly enlarged photograph. It needed to be enlarged for anyone to recognize the many faces in it. It was the photo taken of the defenders of Red River, giving their hand signals in their celebration of getting through their siege. Everyone in that photo had signed the back, but across the front with a black Sharpie was inscribed a single word, put there by Jay. The word was 'Wolverines.'

But nightmares lingered, even though those who had them learned to accept them. Years passed but none were ever seen again. The last of the living dead were thought to have been rooted out and destroyed, and whether or not that was the case, none ever troubled New Mexico or anywhere else again, except in their memories.

For years after, Henry still did his best to be vigilant. On one particular night, perhaps five years later, Erika woke up to go to the bathroom and, upon realizing that Henry wasn’t in bed, knew right away where he was. She peeked into the living room, where she saw him sitting in the dark, looking out the front window into the trees. By his side was an old Winchester rifle, and where it had come from, even Bumpy could never say. He did this on some nights, sitting, looking out into the dark even though the street lights barely reached him through the trees. Erika never bothered him on such nights. It’s just who Henry Dane was.

On that night, he sat in his chair, still watching over his town as it slept.

Just another quiet night in a quiet town, like so many others before it and almost certainly after.



But that….

is another story.



THE END
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Brock Meatstone » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:02 am

Damn, dude. Nice. very nice. I have been reading this story since you started it, and I have to say it is one of the most compelling and all around "best" pieces of fiction I have ever had the immense pleasure of reading.
Kudos, sir. Kudos.

You earned it.
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Cascade Failure » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:12 am

Another excellent Ponyboy story! Thank you.

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by TheGunslinger » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:55 am

Good story, nicely done.

These should be published in an anthology or something. They kick the shit out of WWZ or anything comparable that I've read - along with Two for the Road you'd be pretty nearly there, I reckon.
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by jameslw1 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:09 am

that was brilliant, i hope there will be another story from you on here soon

:D please ? :D
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Laager » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:26 am

Excellent story! Although I am sad to see the end (not that I did not know it was coming), thank you very much for all the hard work and effort.

:sniper: :sheep:
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Big J » Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:29 am

Two thumbs up!

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Diesel2 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:09 am

Thanks for that...now it's back to the boring morning coffee. Great story PB and, again, thanks for sharing it with us. 8)
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by FrANkNstEin » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:41 am

Thank you for another great story of yours! :D

I´m curious if the real Red River will see tourists that go there because of your story, and the looks on the faces of those in Red River that learn WHY some tourists even know about it... :lol:

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Yeti » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:43 am

Great job Ponyboy.
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by URBAN ASSAULT » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:46 am

Thank you for the great story PB, but I still think it could have been expanded into a full novel about the good citizens of Red River as they are on the run for a safe location as America falls around them to the Zombies.

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Bearcat » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:08 am

The only bad parts of Ponyboy's writing are the ends of his stories.
URBAN ASSAULT wrote:Thank you for the great story PB, but I still think it could have been expanded into a full novel about the good citizens of Red River as they are on the run for a safe location as America falls around them to the Zombies.

-urban
I agree, but I think it would be much cooler if it was cannon with his other stories and was the story of a particular town that made it through the ZPAW like in the Ghost and the Woman or Two for the Road
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by wyecoyte » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:22 am

Nice one PB I thought for certain it was going to be the start of one of the settlements and tie into one of your other stories. Good stand alone one where the dead don't take over and everything slips into a ZPAW.

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by GotMak » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:29 am

Great story, PB! Thanks for another great one!
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Cascade Failure » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:52 am

wyecoyte wrote:Nice one PB I thought for certain it was going to be the start of one of the settlements and tie into one of your other stories. Good stand alone one where the dead don't take over and everything slips into a ZPAW.
This could still tie into a story such as Road or Ghost. I think a Ghost settlement would work best as there is a good possibility that in Red River or surrounding areas there is still at least one undead that has not been found. A second outbreak could eventually lead to widespread ZPAW and the emergence of a Red River settlement.

Just one man's opinion and you know what they say about opinions. Good story either way.

Now get back to work on yours....we want moar.

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:00 am

Cascade Failure wrote:
wyecoyte wrote:Nice one PB I thought for certain it was going to be the start of one of the settlements and tie into one of your other stories. Good stand alone one where the dead don't take over and everything slips into a ZPAW.
This could still tie into a story such as Road or Ghost. I think a Ghost settlement would work best as there is a good possibility that in Red River or surrounding areas there is still at least one undead that has not been found. A second outbreak could eventually lead to widespread ZPAW and the emergence of a Red River settlement.

Just one man's opinion and you know what they say about opinions. Good story either way.

Now get back to work on yours....we want moar.
This story cannot tie into the colonial universe. The story begins in April, before anyone sees a zombie. Two for the Road also begins in April, when the dead have already just overrun society. The timeline is off. This was a stand alone.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Cascade Failure » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:49 am

Okay, I missed some details. I really don't care as long as you keep up the good work!

Side note, and maybe I missed this too, but working night shift I see many updates while I am working. Are you another night freak or what?

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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by nateted4 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:26 am

Sweet Read!
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Lakewalker » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:30 am

great story thanks!

Yeti
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Location: Mountains of Northern VA
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Yeti » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:46 am

Ponyboy314 wrote:
Cascade Failure wrote:
wyecoyte wrote:Nice one PB I thought for certain it was going to be the start of one of the settlements and tie into one of your other stories. Good stand alone one where the dead don't take over and everything slips into a ZPAW.
This could still tie into a story such as Road or Ghost. I think a Ghost settlement would work best as there is a good possibility that in Red River or surrounding areas there is still at least one undead that has not been found. A second outbreak could eventually lead to widespread ZPAW and the emergence of a Red River settlement.

Just one man's opinion and you know what they say about opinions. Good story either way.

Now get back to work on yours....we want moar.
This story cannot tie into the colonial universe. The story begins in April, before anyone sees a zombie. Two for the Road also begins in April, when the dead have already just overrun society. The timeline is off. This was a stand alone.
Actually I think you could tie it in Ponyboy.
As was mentioned Outbreak II could happen. So what it's 10yrs down the road and Chief Dane is about to make his retirement speech. :wink:

As a stand alone, I think it does just fine.
Looking forward to more stories from you.
Yeti

Nancy1340
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Re: But with a Whimper

Post by Nancy1340 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:54 pm

Great story and a wonderful ending. Thanks so much.

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