DEAD: Darkness Before Dawn

BOOK: DEAD: Darkness Before Dawn
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Other Titles by TW Brown

 

The DEAD Series:

 

DEAD: The Ugly Beginning

DEAD: Revelations

DEAD: Fortunes & Failures

DEAD: Winter

DEAD: Siege & Survival

DEAD: Confrontation

DEAD: Reborn

DEAD:
Darkness Before Dawn

DEAD: Spring (July 2014)

DEAD: Reclamation (December 2014)

 

DEAD Special Edition

 

DEAD: Steve’s Story

DEAD: Vignettes

DEAD: The Geeks

 

Zomblog

 

Zomblog

Zomblog II

Zomblog: The Final Entry

Zomblog: Snoe

Zomblog: Snoe’s War

Zomblog: Snoe’s Journey

 

Miscellaneous

 

Gruesomely Grimm Zombie Tales Vol. I

That Ghoul Ava

That Ghoul Ava & The Queen of the Zombies

That Ghoul Ava Kicks Some Faerie A**

Dakota

Darkness Before Dawn

(Book
8 of the
DEAD
series)

 

 

 

 

TW Brown

 

Portland
, Oregon, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead: Reborn

 

©2013 May December Publications

 

The Split-tree logo is a registered trademark of May December Publications, LLC.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living, dead, or otherwise, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author or May December Publications.

 

Printed in the United States of America.

 

 

ISBN - 978-1-940734-14-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word about reviews
, zombie children, and cliffhangers…

 

Let’s not mince words or waste any time. If you have been with this series from book one, then you are probably familiar with the format. Much like
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
, the middle book of every three-book arc is riddled with cliffhangers. That is just the way things work out in the
DEAD
series. So, yes, be prepared to still be on the edge of your seat when you reach the final page in every storyline in this book.

Also, many of you recall that this book was supposed to be called
DEAD: Spring
. That would have been a very misleading title since things turned unexpectedly dark. I have no reason…it just did, and I have always been a firm believer of letting this story lead me where it wishes.

So, try not to be angry with me here as you venture forth. Remember, this a zombie apocalypse after all. People die. Some you will cheer, others you will cry…maybe even be angry
about. Trust me when I say that I take that as a compliment. That means that you felt something. There have been a few deaths that caught me off guard. (I did not plan for Steve to leave the story soon!) But, believe it or not, I do have an “end game” in mind for this series. And yes, it ends at book 12;
DEAD: End
. From there, I will get even more involved with my
That Ghoul Ava
series and also begin
DEAD-Snapshot
…. Those will be complete stories that tell a tale start to finish set in the
DEAD
universe. There may be “guest appearances” by characters that you know and love from the original
DEAD
series, but not always. The idea will be to take a single town and wipe it out. You will be along for the ride as it all begins and stay with it until the final scream. And who knows…I may use YOUR town if you ask nicely.

N
ow I want to talk briefly about reviews. THIS IS NOT A CALL FOR 5 STAR REVIEWS. There, I said it. What this is a call for is ANY review. Believe it or not, Amazon uses those little babies as a way to gauge whether or not to feature said item in those little emails and banners. They matter.

And now for the big reveal. Yes, I read each and every si
ngle one. For better or worse. And I try to at least express my thanks for you taking a moment of your time. They are your way to say what worked for you. Or maybe you just want to rant about how I keep killing all your favorite characters. (Just try not to give away spoilers, I will know who you mean, trust me. I braced myself for the backlash from Steve’s death. Even my wife gave me a bit of a scolding.) I’ve even printed off some of them and kept them to pull out when I am blue.

So, even if it is just to say, “Hey, liked this one, looking forward to the next.” It matters to me. The reality is that it will get me put in front of more people
because the Amazon gods will deem me worthy. And believe it or not, a few of you have helped me become a better writer because of your comments. Now, will I change my style based on a review? Nope. But I might read some little nugget and think, Wow, he/she is right…I could make that more clear.

That brings me to my final point before I turn you lo
ose on the DEAD world. As a writer, sometimes you get an idea and it makes perfect sense to
you
. That would be the case with the odd behavior of the zombie children. The thing is, I thought that I illustrated the idea behind their behavior with Emily, but judging by emails and even some reviews…I fell short. So, instead of revealing it here…I will leave it to Dr. Zahn. I hope that clears things up and makes their “abnormal” behavior make sense. It better…because it plays a big role in this part of the story.

And now for the thank you portion…all the usual suspects, and you know who you are. I am thankful for
your dedication to my stories as well as your friendship. And I want to give a big thanks to Andy, the voice behind the audio book version of this series. Also, I would be remiss if I did not mention John Bricker, the master controller at Falcon Sound Company. You guys rock…replica R2-D2s are in the mail the moment I sign a movie deal. I want to thank all of you who stop in and check out my blog ramblings or follow my Author TW Brown Facebook page whether you leave a comment or not. And, since I made such a fuss about it, I want to thank all of you who take a moment of your time to post a review. They really mean more to me than you will ever know.

I have taken enough of your time (for those of you who read these ramblings) and now step aside for the main event. Buckle up
because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

 

A pirate’s life for me…

TW Brown

December 2013

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-TW-Brown/290031277678618

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy McFerrin;

T
hanks for bringing this world to life

with your voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Vignettes XLIII

 


Three more!” Gemma screamed as she swung around and buried the head of the small ax into the crown of a zombie that had been a pig-tailed girl of about seven or eight with dark brown hair.


Where are they all coming from?” Harold managed through tears that streamed down his face as he brought his sword down with enough force to split the five-year-old from head to pelvis. The body seemed to fall apart as the putrefied insides poured out in a stinking pool of chunky, blackish fluid.

Vix said nothing. She just continued on with the grim bus
iness of dispatching this small herd of zombified children as quickly as possible.

At long last, it was finally over. The grass all around them was trampled, dark and slick with gore. This idyllic countryside hill was now the scene of nightmarish violence. From its crest, they could see great distances in all directions. A few lone fi
gures were moving in the early morning light, only visible from the waist down due to the fog...


If I didn’t know better,” Harold was almost back to being able to breathe normally, “I would say those buggers were waiting for us, almost as if they were trying to spring a surprise attack on us.”


Don’t be daft,” Vix said with a dismissive wave. However, she had been thinking those exact same thoughts. She simply did not want to believe them because the possibilities of zombies actually planning were just too horrifying.


But it was as if they were using the fog to stay hidden…I swear some of them had to be crouching so that we did not see them.” Harold was not going to be dissuaded from his train of thought.


They wouldn’t do that…right?” Gemma sounded absolutely terrified.


Standing around here talking about it is not doing us any favors.” Vix wiped off the length of her sword and slid it into the scabbard on her hip. “The cabin is just beyond those trees. If we get going, we can make it there before nightfall.”

The trio started off, but for the longest time, they seemed to forget about their normal method of staying spaced out. None of them were ready just yet to be without the perception of comfort that close proximity to a living human being brought.

They had been on foot for the past two days, forced to leave their bicycles behind when they had come to a bridge that looked to have been washed away in a terrible flood. The river was still a bit high, and there was even talk about abandoning the idea of the farmhouse until Harold weighed in.


If we get across, we will be putting a natural barrier at our backs…at least for a while,” Harold had said.

He had gone first, carrying across a coil of rope that he s
ecured to a tree so that both Vix and Gemma would have an easier go of it. By the time both were across, he had a fire started. They had huddled around it until they had eventually dried off. By then, it had been decided that they would camp for the night and push on come morning.

T
he morning had dawned through a filter of dense fog. By the time they got moving, it was nearing midday. They had crested the first hill, coming out of the fog and enjoying the feel of the sun on their faces despite the chill in the air.

Vix had gotten their bearings and pointed in the direction that they needed to travel. There were two more hills that they would try to use as guide points. It was the second one where the small pack of zombie children had attacked.

Walking in the fog had been creepy all by itself; but as they approached the top of the hill, all of them had started to sense something. There were flashes of shadow flitting about in the fog, but it was usually gone just as quick as they were spotted. Vix had been of the mind that it was probably some dogs running wild. She never once considered the possibility of zombies simply because the shadows kept moving away and zombies never retreated.

When the first attack came, it was five of them at once co
ming from all sides against Harold. Vix had actually stumbled back when it almost seemed like the world erupted in a writhing nest of mottled arms that emerged from the mist to grab the large young man. Gemma had screamed. And a handful of seconds later, smallish undead bodies came at them en masse.

Vix glanced at her
traveling companions and saw them just as deep in thought as she had been, She had no doubt that they were all reliving this most recent and bizarre attack. Child zombies had been a bit of a rarity. Vix had to imagine that it was due to there probably not being enough left to return. To encounter so many traveling together was definitely something that she needed to think upon. There was something odd at work.

As the sun was well into its downward journey towards the western horizon, they came to a small ridge. This was the last one. She knew it. Vix had been seeing somewhat familiar lan
dmarks for the past hour of their walk. Up ahead was the tower belonging to a small radio station. That station had provided the soundtrack to many events in her life over the summers she had spent here.

Try as she might, Vix could not keep her pace from spee
ding up. She knew that there would probably be a lot of work ahead if the place even proved worth staying at, but weren’t they due for something good?

She practically sprinted up the last stretch of the hill. It was careless and a good way to run smack dab into a zombie, but she s
imply could not help herself. She reached the top and came to a halt, her breathing now reduced to harsh gasps. Hands on knees, she looked out over the rolling land below. The lush, green grass was even more beautiful than she remembered. The fact that it was almost waist high only made it look all that much more beautiful as the breeze caused it to ripple like verdant water.

The small house was resting like a gem
almost smack dab in the middle of the great, bowl-shaped valley. There was only one problem…


There has to be a thousand of them,” Harold whispered, causing Vix to jump.

She wanted to cry, but the tears refused to come. Instead, she simply stared at the house and the thirty or more foot thick ring of undead that surrounded what looked like a
reinforced fence she had never seen before that circled the property.

 

***

 

“…but I still believe that it is time we create some sort of governing body,” the man said.

There were some nods of agreement in the crowd, but there were an equal amount of skeptical expressions. There were even a few cases of booing and other rude comments. Juan felt the throbbing in his skull ratchet up another notch.

“I’m fully aware that the idea of government has some nasty connotations,” the man continued after the room quieted down to the point where he could be heard. “However, we now have over five hundred people living here…something needs to be done.”

Five hundred?
Juan thought.
When the hell did that happen?


And what are we going to do about those signal flares?” another voice called.

This sent the entire room into a tizzy.
Juan stood up; at last they had hit on something that he was ready to deal with. He could care less about creating a government—which made what he was about to do in a few minutes that much more uncomfortable—and even less about the previous suggestion that had passed by a show of hands. If they wanted to create some form of law enforcement or police, that was up to them. He didn’t want any part of it despite what Mackenzie said. He would get to the prickly business in a moment, but at least now he had an opening where he felt comfortable taking the floor.


Everybody sit down and hush!” Juan bellowed. His voice was one that carried well, and in a room this small, it was like a cannon. He glanced back at Mackenzie who gave him a smile and a nod. He had used the word ‘hush’ instead of saying ‘shut up’ like he had at the last meeting.

The assembled crowd acted like a classroom that had been taking advantage of a substitute only to have the principal walk in; in other words, there was a scurry as people sought their seats. All eyes looked up at him and you could almost hear a pin drop.

“A team is being sent first thing tomorrow,” Juan announced. “Since the flares have come from the same location each night, we have a good idea where they are originating. That means we will need people to be on standby. If we bring in a group like the last one, I don’t want to have a person turn into a damned deader while they are waiting in line to be checked in to quarantine.”


Is it true that you are not going?” a female voice asked.


Absolutely true,” Juan said with a nod. “I am taking myself off the list for a while.”

Juan was surprised when there was a smattering of applause. He was even more st
unned when people turned it into a standing ovation. He turned back to Mackenzie who was sporting her “I told you so” face. She had insisted that the people wanted him here for a while, that he did not have to lead every single mission. Like it or not, they saw him as the leader.

He scowled when Mackenzie gave him the raised eyebrows. She had told him that it was time he made his announcement. She said that she already knew how it was going to be received, but the words needed to come from his mouth. All of a sudden, his mouth was really dry.

“And that brings me to my next point. I know that a lot of you think things are running just fine and don’t see the need to mess with the statue quo.” A few chuckles rippled through the crowd. Juan felt his face get warm…he knew he’d screwed something up just then. Oh well, Mackenzie would tell him on the walk home. “But the facts are clear…we need to make some changes around here. After that situation the other day, even those of you not too thrilled with the idea of government have to see that we can never let
that
happen again.”

Two days ago, a young couple had gotten into a bit of an
argument. It had happened at the bazaar where folks bartered goods and services, so just about everybody had actually seen the incident take place.

What started as yelling turned ugly quick when the young man had struck the young woman with a back
-handed smack. That act was bad enough, but he’d been wearing field gloves. Field gloves are heavy duty with stud on the outside to deal a nasty blow to a deader if you are in close quarters and a wire mesh insert to protect from being bitten. Some folks closest were actually splattered with blood.

When a few men rushed in, the scene
devolved into chaos. There was a nasty fight, and at some point, blades were drawn. It set off a chain of events that many were now calling a riot. Juan had seen things like that happen in the joint. A small fight could turn into a big one in a hurry.

With everybody under such constant pressure, folks had built up a lot of steam. Once the lid came off, there was no pu
tting the heat back in the kettle. His grandma had said that phrase a time or two in his life growing up, he’d never really understood it until now.


That is why I am officially asking for nominations,” Juan continued. Mackenzie had already told him what she expected to hear, and he hated that she was almost always right. He hoped that this would be one of those rare instances. “We don’t have a title yet, but we obviously need somebody or a group of people to start a rules committee or something. We need to get ourselves in order. If not, we risk more like what we got the other day.”


Juan Hoya for president!” a female voice shouted.

Juan’s eyes snapped over to the source and saw April Cable give him a wink. His scowl re-emerged. A roar of approval from the crowd only made it deepen. Did that
woman have to be right about everything?


Hold on!” Juan threw his hands up in the air. He shot a look over his shoulder. Mackenzie was nodding. He glanced down at April who was doing likewise. He’d told April ahead of time that he was going to confess his complete past to Mackenzie when they had run into each other a few days after returning. Still, they had both agreed that some of what had happened at the house didn’t need to be shared.

Juan did not exactly trust April. He was still having trouble understanding everything that had gone down between them. He actually thought she might be a bit damaged mentally from all she had been through. After hearing her story of what she had endured, he had trouble feeling anything more than pity for April.

That night, he had come home to find April in his living room. Before he even had a chance to speak, April had blurted, “Mackenzie, Juan has some things he feels he needs to say. I think you should hear them.” 

The three of them had sat down
around the table that night. The guilt that had been too much for Juan seemed to act as a verbal lubricant. He found himself talking more than he ever had in his life about his past. Along the way he came clean with almost everything that had happened during those past few times out. He’d also told her about the real fate of Frank and Donna.

He had fully expected her to be done with him right then and there. As he’d confessed it all, he had not been able to look her in the eyes. He had instead just stared at his hands. When it was over, he braced for the worst. He even had a bag packed and waiting in the closet for when she told him to not just leave her house, but to leave the island.

BOOK: DEAD: Darkness Before Dawn
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