Authors: TW Brown
Other Titles by TW Brown
The DEAD Series:
DEAD: The Ugly Beginning
DEAD: Fortunes & Failures
DEAD: Siege & Survival
DEAD: Darkness Before Dawn
DEAD Special Edition
DEAD: Perspectives Story (Vols. 1 & 2)
DEAD: Vignettes (Vols. 1 & 2)
DEAD: The Geeks (Vols. 1 & 2)
Zomblog: The Final Entry
Zomblog: Snoe’s War
Zomblog: Snoe’s Journey
Gruesomely Grimm Zombie Tales Vol. I
That Ghoul Ava: Her First Adventures
That Ghoul Ava & The Queen of the Zombies
That Ghoul Ava Kick Some Faerie A**
Next, on a very special That Ghoul Ava
(Book 10 of the
Portland, Oregon, USA
Book 10 of the
©2014 May December Publications LLC
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 LLC.
Printed in the U.S.A.
The World of the
(Coming in the spring of 2015)
To see your town die in the
world, email TW Brown at:
A moment with the author…
I love what I do. I appreciate each and every one of you that have come this far in the journey. So before you go forward, let me send you on your way with a warning: sometimes, bad things happen.
Of course I won’t be sharing any spoilers, but I wanted to let you know ahead of time that this final three book arc has the potential to be upsetting. Am I going to kill off every character and end it with the zombies bringing down the last living human? No. Did I consider it? Sure. I mean, don’t we all see that as an eventuality?
Why would they wipe out over ninety percent of humanity in the first year and then just stop? Sure, the pickings would get slim, but don’t you think there is a likelihood that the zombies win? I know I do. However, I will say that you will not find that ending here.
On the other side of that coin, some of the stories will take a final bow. I have actually considered pulling a
Wayne’s World Super Ultimate Happy Alternate Ending
and writing it for the
DEAD: Special Edition
collection that I do after each three books. Maybe if enough people ask for it…I will do just that. After all, the Special Editions are written based on fan feedback of what they would have liked to know more about. So why couldn’t I devote an alternate final chapter to a few of the stories? That is the cool thing about my job…I can do whatever I want! So start banging that drum if you want to be heard.
I wanted to actually share something about the way this book came about. Many of you know that I hate using outlines. That is why things often happen that I find myself wondering how the characters will possibly escape it alive. And then…they don’t.
A few examples, I never intended for the Geeks to drop so damn fast. They just kept getting into trouble that I could not save them from. And then there was Steve. Steve was actually supposed to be part of the
finale. I do actually reach a point with myself that I say, “Enough already!” However, in writing this particular book, I hit a few spots that had me concerned. And as it got deeper, I tried to alter the direction, but then the words would not come. The only way things would move forward was for me to either delete several chapters worth of work (with no guarantee that I would not end up stumbling down the same rabbit hole) or to just surrender to the words that come.
I have always trusted in the latter. I feel it makes the story more “real.” It is when I start trying to make things happen that my work becomes forced and loses some of its tension. That is also when it stops feeling like me. Let’s face it, we came this far because the story did not follow conventional plans. You are invested in these very real people because they act like we would, not like supermen and women…trained in all matters of survival and who happen to always stumble upon just what they need in that final second to escape their ugly demise.
MY CHARACTERS DIE!
This is a zombie apocalypse, not
Adventures in Happyland
. (Although a zombie version of that might be fun.) The world is a dangerous place, and even with careful planning and a lot of luck, chances for survival are sketchy at best.
So, buckle in, this might get messy. Also, I have included an excerpt from the first book in the
. So, while the characters that you have come to know and love might be sailing off into the sunset very soon, the
world has many untold tales of horror, salvation, and yes…even some human depravity.
A few quick thank you mentions are in order. They may seem silly to some, but these are our way of trying to make the people who matter realize that we know they are out there. Heck, must people skip this part anyway.
To the firefighters of the world who go into a real Hell on Earth every wildfire season and put it all on the line to try and save the homes of people they don’t know and will probably never meet formally…you are freakin’ Rock Stars. To the men and women of the armed forces, home and abroad, you are overworked, underpaid, and often under-appreciated—thank you for standing the midwatch. My Beta readers—Sophie, Tammy, and Vix—you make my book so much better Last but not least, my wife. Denise has been through hell and back this year, but she still finds time to do all the computer stuff that make my books available…thank you, Hunny Bunny.
In conclusion, I hope you enjoy the ride. I hope that, either way, you will take the few moments out of your day to post a review on Amazon and any other venue where reviews are accepted. And never feel shy about reaching out and letting me know what you think. I don’t have “people” who read my emails and reply for me. I do that every morning over coffee as I sit down to the day’s work. I love hearing from you. And I am always happy to be interviewed for blogs or just asked random questions.
Warriors…come out to play-yay!!!
George A. Romero & Stephen King
Two men who don’t even know I exist
And both changed my life
A Place A Geek Would Call Home
Ghost From A Geeks Past
Geek On A Cross
The Geek’s Girl
DEAD: SNAPSHOT PREVIEW
DEAD: Snapshop –Portland
Billy Haynes once told me that you can get somebody to talk just by leaving them in a room full of items that look like they would cause a great deal of pain. I hope it works.
“Is he secured, Thalia?” Dr. Zahn asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said as I shut the door behind me.
“Then you should get up to HQ. Billy is setting the roster for the next patrol. And don’t forget that your little brother is over at the garden. You are supposed to pick him up on the way home.”
“I know.” I sure hope I didn’t sound as annoyed as I felt.
My name is Thalia Rosa Hobart. I am little Stevie Hobart’s big sister…daughter of Steve, and I can’t remember a time when zombies did not exist.
“No activity has been seen in the La Grande valley for three months,” Billy was saying as he stood at the head of the huge room in front of the heavily notated and hand drawn map on the wall.
“And when did the wind turbines around Island City get yanked down?” a voice from somewhere in front of me asked.
“Best guess is within the last two weeks.” Billy did not hide his grimace of annoyance.
Seriously, this was stuff that the rumor mill had been spitting out for the past ten days. Why would anybody ask that question? The only person that stupid—
“So why have we waited this long to send a team down?” Kayla Brockhouse asked as she stood up, probably so that people could see that stupid look on her face…and her boobs. She thought those were the answer to everything.
I fought the urge to yank her back down into her chair by that curly blond hair of hers that she grew out well beyond regulation. Just another example of how those stupid bumps on her chest acted like some sort of male brain damage inducer. Her squad leader apparently found his eyes unable to go high enough up her body to see that she had at least three inches past the collar. I wonder if zombies are that stupid.
Mroar…oh…you have boobs? Well, never mind then, I’ll go eat somebody else.
“Something funny, Miss Hobart?” Billy’s voice snapped me out of my daydream.
Damn, had that sounded like a question?
He gave me a nasty glare and I patted myself on the back for not sticking my tongue out. Billy had never been the same since losing Katrina. She’d been on a routine security patrol a few years ago. Her team had never returned. There had been some frantic searching that revealed nothing. Eventually, Billy disappeared. He returned almost a month later…different.
It did not take a genius to know what he’d found out there. Still, he never talked about it…ever. At least not to anybody who might leak anything. I am pretty sure that he told Dr. Zahn. She would go to the grave with whatever it was he had said in those few days that he stayed in the doc’s office.
“As I was saying…” Billy gave me one more tight lipped grimace, and then continued, “…the reason we have not gone down there is because ZH-Seven was in the area between us and them.”
ZH-Seven wasn’t the largest zombie herd, but it did number well over a half a million. You did not want that crossing between you and home if you could help it. Herds were really the only thing about zombies that anybody was concerned about these days. In fact, most times, if you passed a single or a small group, you just ignored it. It wasn’t worth the time or the energy.
The reality was that zombies were still very dangerous. You only went head-to-head with one if you absolutely had no choice. The logic was that you couldn’t get bitten if you were not within range of their mouths. The hope that those things would fall over had long since vanished. Nobody could explain it. It defied biology (according to people that knew about that sort of thing).
“The route is now clear, and we want to send a full field team down
to observe only
.” He really emphasized those last three words and practically shouted that last one.
There was a ripple in the room. We seldom sent full field teams anymore. That was a relic from the days when you could still scavenge from abandoned homes and such. Those cupboards had been bare for a long time. If it wasn’t already cleaned out, then it was well past its expiration date.
Full field teams had a six person squad with a complete armament load out, two scouts, and a medic. We almost never allowed a medical person to leave on a run these days. While the danger was slim, the mindset was that it was stupid to risk such a valuable resource like a medically trained individual. As it was, the first actual class had just graduated, swelling our number of trained medical persons from five to eight.
Dr. Zahn had put together a program and was in charge of making sure the medics knew what they were doing. She had help from Sunshine, a lady who knew her stuff when it came to herbs and natural remedies. Also, there was this other lady named Cynthia Bird. She had been a veterinarian. Dr. Zahn relied on her a lot when it came to training—mostly because the doc did not have the patience (see what I did there?).
The other two medical people in the community had been EMTs. One was this man named Greg Carrigan. Greg was one of the immune. He had lost his right hand in the early days. He never smiled much, but he always had a nice word to say.
“The team will leave just before dawn tomorrow,” Billy announced. “Jim Sagar will be leading. The patrol list is posted. Check it on your way out. If you are on it, then you are excused from any tower watch you might have been assigned. That is all.”
Everybody got up and started for the door. I was falling in, ready to go pick up my brother when Billy called.
“Thalia, a word please.”
I sighed. He was probably going to give me a bunch of grief about not paying attention. He was always riding me and giving me a hard time. Sometimes I wondered if I had ticked him off when I was little and this was some form of revenge. I let everybody pass, but I noticed Kayla give me a nasty look on the way out. One of these days I was going to catch her alone…and when I did…
“I wanted to tell you instead of you seeing it on the board,” Billy said by way of greeting. “You are on the team for this run.”
I was suddenly struck dumb. I had never been on anything more than perimeter patrols despite being one of the best in hand-to-hand, knife and axe throwing, and the crossbow. I was not only the winner of my age bracket at the annual Establishment Festival, but I had won the overall against people twice, three, and four times my age.
“Are you serious?” My voice came out a bit squeaky, and I felt my face flush.
“There is nobody better if we need a sharpshooter,” Billy said. I swear I saw the slightest hint of a smile.
“But if this is an observe only mission—” I began. He cut me off.
“It is, but we have reports that there may be some raiders in the area.”
I had a million questions, but I was scared to ask any just in case that might be the one question that made him change his mind. I had wanted to go out there for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t that I was anxious to kill zombies or anything, it was just the simple fact that I wanted to see what was outside of the little area that we called home.
And I guess that is not entirely accurate either. Our community has stretched and expanded to cover quite a lot of space. I think somebody said that it was almost a mile long and two miles wide. We had stayed close to the creek in order to have our regular source of water, but we had pushed the forest back a ways up into the mountains.
I remember playing here…I remember snow…and I remember that zombie that got Emily. I shoved that horrible memory aside.
“Jim will keep you close to him, and I don’t want to hear that you did anything to make me regret my decision.” Billy folded his big arms across his massive chest and stared down at me with a raised eyebrow.
I imagine it would almost look funny, the two of us standing almost toe-to-toe. I had not even realized how close he was until it dawned on me that I could barely see his face.
Taking a step back, I swallowed once to make sure that my throat was clear. “I promise to make you proud, but I do have one tiny question.” He nodded for me to continue. “Does Melissa know?”
“I talked with her last night.” I opened my mouth, but he kept talking. “And I made her promise that she would not say anything. I did not want the word to get around and have you hear it from another source.”
He had a point. There was no such thing as a secret in our community. We numbered just over three hundred men, women, and children; and everybody seemed to always be in each other’s business.
“Hey, Cupcake!” a voice called from the doorway behind me.
“Hey there, See-gar.” I spun to see Jim Sagar stroll into the room.
You could not tell by looking at him, but Jim was a genius when it came to explosives. He was the only one who had free reign to slip out on his own. He would always come back with a full backpack of stuff and then vanish into his apartment for a few days. The rumor was that if his place ever caught fire, it would level the entire compound.
I still thought the name of this place was a bit corny. There had been a vote years back. The choice had been a strange one. I guess there used to be these schools called colleges. The big two in the state of Oregon had sports teams; one was called the Ducks, and the other was called the Beavers. As you enter our walled community, you pass under a sign that reads: Welcome to Platypus Creek.
“Making your first big run,” Jim said with his ever-present crooked smile as he reached over and tousled my short, black hair.
“It’s not like I have never been outside the walls,” I grumbled, finally pulling my head away when he did not seem inclined to stop.
“It is an entirely different thing when you lose sight of those walls,” Billy said in his usual gruff tone. “And that is also why I wanted to talk to you alone. If you want, I can send Paula. If it gets a bit too much, you can come back. Nobody would think badly of you.”
I looked back and forth between the two men. Even Jim had lost that smile. I am certain that was the first time that I had ever seen his face when he wasn’t at least sporting a lopsided grin.
“What am I missing?” I wasn’t getting scared if that was their intention. Actually, I was more curious than ever.
“You have been in this place for the majority of your lifetime. I am willing to bet that you don’t remember too much about what it was like out there,” Billy said, his voice now had a very uncharacteristic softness. “Once you get away from this place, it is an entirely different world. The closest community was Island City. Something took that place down. If it was a herd, that is one thing. However, we do not believe that it was zombies.”
“If it was people,” Jim picked up the narrative, “then they are bad…real bad. It has been a while since any of us had to kill a living person, but those of us who have done so…it sticks with you forever.”
“And you think this is living people who took out Island City?”
I had never been there, but I had heard the stories. While we were certainly advanced as far as communities were concerned, Island City was like a fairy tale. If you believed the stories, they had electric lights that ran night
day. There was a market that was rumored to be almost the size of five of ours lined up.
Sometimes the trade caravan would arrive and you could get this stuff called ice cream. Melissa had surprised me with some chocolate ice cream on my fifteenth birthday. That had been the first time (at least as far as I can recall) that I’d ever had chocolate…much less chocolate ice cream.
“We are almost positive,” Billy said.
“So, if you guys were going to get all worked up and try to scare me, why put me on this run in the first place?” I snapped. I mean, it was obvious what they were trying to do, and it was really making me angry.
“Because I told them you were ready,” another voice called from the doorway. I turned to see Paula Yin standing there.
Paula had very pretty Asian features that made her look almost delicate. She wasn’t. More than one guy had learned that the hard way. She was dressed in cutoff jeans, but it was the faded and tattered tee shirt that had the picture of (of all things) a zombie on it that got my attention.
Dawn of the Dead
?” I asked with a tilt of the head.
“Huh?” Paula seemed confused for a second, and then she looked down at what might have once been a dark green shirt. Now it was sort of pale, and even threadbare in spots. Also, there was a nasty stain on the left shoulder. “Oh!” Her eyes brightened and she had a wicked smile when she looked up.
“That movie was hilarious,” Jim muttered. “Didn’t much care for the remake. Thank God those things can’t run. I still love that opening scene when that little girl goes skidding down the hallway and then pops up to her feet.”
I noticed him shiver just a bit, and I tried to imagine a zombie that could run…much less pop up to its feet. That would suck.
“As I was saying,” Paula spoke up, breaking the mood and bringing things back to where they belong, “you are ready.”
“So why are these two trying to scare me…or whatever the heck that was they were pulling with the whole thing about the outside world being so full of danger?”