The Ugly Beginning - 01

BOOK: The Ugly Beginning - 01
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The Ugly Beginning

 

 

Written by: TW Brown

Cover Art by Shawn Conn

 

Dead: The Ugly Beginning

©2011 May December Publications LLC

 

Fourth Edition

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To: Ronni, Cody, and Alex

They are May and December

 

 

 

 

 

A Moment with the Author…

 

Greetings,

You are holding a culmination of a lifetime of dreams and childhood fantasies. I have always loved to write. The idea that I could create feelings and emotions that would churn inside the hearts of people I have never met is a bit of a rush.
That
is what this series is all about to me.

There is little doubt that you are a zombie fan. You’ve watched all of Romero’s work. Probably watched the remakes. You have that “favorite scene” or the line(s) that you recite: “
They’re coming to get you, Barbara” “When there’s no more room in Hell…”
we know
way
too much about Tom Savini’s work history, and become giddy whenever a new Romero project hits the rumor mill.

Like anybody who has fallen in love, there has been heartbreak. Cheesy one-offs, and flat-out bad stuff has been a festering boil on the ass of the zombie genre. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all read some really awful stuff, and seen some ridiculous movies (
Zombie Strippers
anyone?).

There are some who say zombies are the new vampire. I say that the zombie will always be The Zombie. First and foremost, I’m a fan. For the most part, I’m a traditionalist. However, there have been some great new mythologies rising from the grave. David Wellington, Brian Keene, and S. G. Browne have all made their own mark. They are my genre heroes out there blazing trails. For the purist in me I enjoy Robert Kirkman’s
Walking Dead
graphic novel or read Kim Paffenroth. Then there is Tony Monchiski and Rhiannon Frater. As I’ve said, I’m a fan. You’d find me standing in line holding a pristine copy of the book and a Sharpie with the rest of you.

This sycophantic rambling has a purpose. All those I’ve mentioned have things in common with George A Romero. They give us CHARACTERS. Of course, there is gore and abundant zombie-induced carnage. But they give you evil to cheer, boo, love, or hate. A lot of stuff out there fails in that area spectacularly.

My hope with the
Dead:
series is to give you something to follow with interest. I want you to feel the loss when a beloved figure succumbs to death…undeath. It sounds plain, yet arrogant at the same time. Only, anybody who knows me personally knows that I don’t believe in small ambitions. The only goal I allow myself is to be one of
The
names in zombie fiction.

I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel (or the zombie). I just want to create my own world and populate characters that sit beside you, seem real, and stir your emotions. I will tell you here that there will be twelve books in this series. The actual goal that I have set for myself when I first put pen to paper is for this series to occupy as much shelf space as Robert Jordan’s
Wheel of Time
, Terry Goodkind’s
Sword of Truth
, or Laurell K Hamilton’s
Anita Blake
series.

Let’s face it, we all wanted to know what happened after that helicopter lifted off the roof of the mall. People change after major life-events. What is bigger than the zombie apocalypse? So, the men, women, and even children that you will meet in the pages ahead will change. My hope is that you will enjoy it.

If you’ve lasted this long, you get my first thanks. There are always a lot more people involved in the creation of a book than the name stamped on the cover. So, let the effusive gratitude begin. In no particular order: Doctor Pus and his Legion of Librarians—nowhere can there be found a more loyal fan base if you can manage to capture their attention; Permuted Press—all the help and professional advice coupled with some amazing stories; my wife, Denise—for doing all the things I can’t;Shawn Conn—for the best covers…ever…period; The History Channel’s
Life After People
series—what a great source of information for apocalypse scenario writers; and finally, Ronni, Cody, and Alexander—they will always be May and December, they are my babies no matter how old they get. My life will always belong to them and my only real goal is to make them proud of their dad.

 

Proceed with Caution

May 2010

TW Brown

 

Email:  [email protected]

DEAD: The Ugly Beginning

 

Chapter 1 – The Ugly Beginnings

Chapter 2 – Vignettes

Chapter 3 – The Geeks Shall Inherit…

Chapter 4 – Radio Traffic

Chapter 5 – Vignettes II

Chapter 6 – One Less Geek to Feed

Chapter 7 – Still Running

Chapter 8 – Vignettes III

Chapter 9 – Geeks to the Rescue

Chapter 10 – Tranquility Base

Chapter 11 –Vignettes IV

Chapter 12 – Geeks, Girls, and Guns

Chapter 13 – Illusions

Chapter 14 –Vignettes V

Chapter 15 – Geeks versus Myth

Chapter 16 – Tough Choices

Chapter 17–Vignettes VI

Chapter 18 – Geeks Plus One

 

1

The Ugly Beginnings

 

 
I ain’t no hero. I never thought of being one. When I was young, I didn’t dream about being a police or fireman. I never considered joining the military, even after 9-11 when so many others my age flocked to the recruiter’s office.

Hell, I was the guy who picked a desk in the middle of the classroom on the first day of school when all the Brains rushed for front row seats and the Jocks and Stoners roamed to the back. I didn’t play sports, at least not in any organized way. When sides were chosen (even if it was just a pick-up game with my buddies), I was pointed out someplace in the middle. Sometimes I would pull off a play in football, basketball, kickball…whatever, which was only amazing because it was me doing it.

I had my share of girlfriends. I lost my virginity my senior year. On prom night. To a girl who played flute in the high school marching band. Her name was Kerri or Kathy…or Kari or Cathy.

So you’re starting to get the point. Right?

I worked in an office complex after I graduated college …B minus GPA. Never married, but I was engaged a few times. My one bedroom apartment was small, but it suited me and my dog just fine.  Well, that was until the horror movies jumped off the screen and landed right in the middle of an atypically un-believing real world.

Some of the stuff about zombies proved to be true.

Some not.

Most of how humanity was predicted to act was drastically underestimated. The best. The worst. Sometimes I wonder how in the hell we’ve survived as a species.

That will likely be answered definitively sooner than I would like.

It may seem corny, but no one I’ve met since it began can give me a solid answer as to how it all rolled into motion. Sure, there are theories: Government Bio-weapon gone awry; Super-virus; alien particles from space; demons from Hell; and global warming. Each gets equal billing when you hear the topic come up. Maybe it’s a mix of all of the above. Or, maybe God got tired of us messing up his toy. And if you don’t believe in God…well then you can refer back to the list and pick your favorite. Honestly, I don’t give a damn. I’m too tired from running. How I ended up leading a band of survivors in this Romero-Hell is my new reality. The time for blame has long passed.

Since things began, I’ve seen…we’ve all seen…things best forgotten. Yet, I, as well as anybody still alive, know that forgetting is impossible. The best you can hope for now is sleep without the nightmares coming back to refresh those images you desperately try to shove into a hard to reach spot in your mind. There are some things that the movies missed, or could not accurately convey. The biggest would be the smell; that, and the psychological toll of hearing a person scream as they are ripped apart and fed upon.

 

***

 

 “…seem to see no pattern in what is being called
The Blue Plague
, due to the discoloration common in the final stages where it is theorized that the body is starved for oxygen.”

Click.

“Sars. West Nile. Crap. What’s next?” I turned off the television and tossed the remote onto a stack of unread magazines scattered across my coffee table.

Pluck, my Basset Hound, twitched a big, floppy ear and closed his eyes in disinterest. I scratched him behind one of those ears, earning a contented doggie sound.

I got off the couch and made one of those habitual trips to the fridge. I popped it open knowing deep down that I didn’t really want anything. A thud from the living room signaled that Pluck was on his way, just in case I might produce some tasty treat that would undoubtedly be shared. I’m pretty sure Pavlov’s dogs are hidden somewhere in Pluck’s family tree.

As is often the case when I’m about to make a major life choice, this one being leftover Chinese take-out, or last night’s pizza, the phone rang. I passed Pluck just as his paws smacked the linoleum with a scrabble of clicking claws that were in dire need of trimming. His exasperated huff caused his thick jowls to flutter.

“Yeah?” No need for formality since I could see Bill Wright, a friend of mine’s name, in the caller ID on my phone.

“Steve, are you watching this?” My friend Bill was naturally excitable, but something in his voice was off.

“Is this sports related?” I made no attempt to hide how totally
not
interested I was. “Unless it involves a female gymnast losing some or all of her outfit—”

“Turn to Channel Seven now!”

The near-hysterical timbre in his voice had me grabbing my remote before I realized it. I punched the buttons with my thumb. The green volume bar inched across the bottom of my screen as I tried to comprehend what I was seeing.

“…of the local police force along with a detachment from the National Guard have set up around the town’s perimeter. No contact has been established with any of the residents up to this point. Reports from the air indicate that it is unlikely that any survivors exist.”

The buzzing in my ear reminded me that I was still on the phone with Bill. Also, my arm remained extended towards the television. My hand was empty because, at some point, I had dropped the remote.

“Another 9-11?” I felt my chest tighten.

“I don’t think so,” Bill said. I could hear his keyboard rattling in the background. “This shit is all over the place. And not just in our country. It’s global!”

“What the hell is going on?”
“Straight-up horror movie shit!”
“Uh-huh.” My enthusiasm and interest began to recede quickly.

“Dude, I’m totally serious! Packs of crazed people are going on rampages and just tearing people apart.
YouTube
already has like a thousand postings under “Zombie Attack” that show some twisted stuff. At least it did until the site locked up and crashed.”

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