Connected. The Crime Fiction series from author W. W. Watson

Author W W Watson on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=W+W+Watson


Connected: Sanger Road:

Carl looked: A dead man sagged back into the front seat of the car… #Crime #Fiction #Kobo

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/connected-sanger-road


Connected: Dello Green:

Late afternoon was the perfect time to dump a dead body, Jimmy thought… #CrimeFiction #eBooks #Kobo

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/connected-dello-green


Connected: Short Hauls

by W. W. Watson

series Connected

A collection of seven crime stories; including Harrows…
They had been drinking one night when Robby had come out with the murder bit. https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/connected-short-hauls



 

America The Dead


America The Dead: Manhattan #Kindle The doorman, an elderly white haired man, had been dead, lying in the doorway preventing the door from closing and locking. The dead had killed him but not turned him. Or at least he had not turned yet.  #Zombies #Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3QYB91


America The Dead: Los Angeles #Kindle They had finally been stopped by the wreckage of three cars that had collided on the Quachita river bridge on 270. Together they had pushed the cars off the bridge and into the river. #Apocalypse #Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3G437B


America The Dead: Begins The End #Kindle There had been two significant earthquakes, The first time he had nearly wrecked the truck. The truck had stopped rocking and he had pulled back onto the road careful of all the new devastation… #Apocalypse #SciFi https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3G5JLR


Zombie Fall #Kindle I buried Della this morning. I knew they’d find out, Hell, they probably knew immediately in that slow purposeful way that things come to them. I can hear them out there ripping and tearing… #Horror #Zombies https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I48MMUU


America The Dead Survivor Stories Five #Kindle The city is a refuge… Until they try to leave it. The trucks stopped a half mile away, and for several minutes there was absolute silence, then the first shots came… #Apocalypse #Preppers  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D3D9Z2S


America The Dead Survivor Stories Four #Kindle There were thousands of the living camped out in the park. She could smell them. They believed they were safe in their numbers and for a time that had been true, but no more… #Zombie #Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H5QNOKY


America The Dead Survivor Stories Three #Kindle The outside. This place overwhelmed me, that and having to kill a man, but it was worse for those who stayed behind. If they had not stayed the rest of us would have died… #Horror #Survival https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H5Q9W0A


America The Dead Survivor Stories Two #Kindle Parts of the projects are burning. Jersey is burning. The sky is red-orange, everything across the river is on fire. No one has come… #ApocalypticFiction #Horror  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H5Q9S36


America The Dead Survivors Stories one #Kindle #Apocalypse: Those that survive pick up the pieces, those that have died lay in their death sleep, but in their bodies a virus is mutating, setting the stage for a second catastrophe far worse than the first.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H5PM49W


Author Dell Sweet at Amazon’s Author Central…

https://www.amazon.com/Wendell-Sweet/e/B00B6QPHNM



 

New books and the weekend creeping up

Posted By Dell Sweet 05-02-18

The weekend is creeping up on me. I think someone stole a few days and tried to slip one over on me. Or I would, except it really is Wednesday.

I would like to mention the book Zero Zero. I wrote this book some time ago, as in years and it is only now available. I write an end of the world book series Earth’s Survivors and this book is in the same vein. Different, but I think equally good. I mean that.

I was talking about this place today with someone today. How it did not start out to be an indie publishing vehicle, but simply an outlet for my own digital book copies. Now there are nine writers here and I doubt it will stop there.

I guess we don’t say much about ourselves so maybe now is a good time to do that. We are all writers. This site was first started to create a space for Writers, Musicians and Artists. We have many of each and many who do all of those things. One thing I have come to realize is that creative people wear many hats, not just one or two.

None of us own the site, but three of us work here fulltime. Yes that makes it nice, we get to write as we write. In fact it is encouraged. The owner is not a writer or a musician or an Artist. She enjoys all three things and many others though and so she gave us this and allowed us to develop it and build it. That did not happen the way some of us saw it happening.

I can’t speak for the others but I saw a site where writers, artists and musicians all hung out and marketed their work. Now we have a site where all those things have occurred. The writers, musicians and artists are here, we talk all day sometimes, back and forth, give advice or work on projects, etc. If someone asks me to help, I do. I wrote two of my most successful short stories that way. One of the other writers wanted to publish an anthology and wanted some of my work in it. Something new. Something different. Okay. I offered Zombie Fall and Rapid City.  Neither of those stories would have happened if I had not been in that creative process with others.

There are top grade musicians here. I do my own music. I used to play in bands years ago. But I have not stuck with it: Although I love it I have too many other obligations on my time. So I have turned to other musicians to catch up on the new technology, so to speak, because three of my characters in the Earth’s Survivors books write music and I want to be able to provide that music on the website as it evolves.

My point is that the creative processes here are really good. They help all of us to be better at what we do, and in some cases write things we would not have written, and, the big deal, it is not what we had planned to build here. And it continues to grow. I couldn’t be happier and I’m glad to be a small part of it too.

I believe I mentioned before that I am a tech wizard, well, at least in my own head, but, I am common sense stupid. Lacking, sadly, in that small area of the brain that says ‘What?’ or ‘Hey wait a second!’ Nope. My brain just says, ‘Yeah go ahead who cares,’ or, ‘Hey it ain’t my problem, know what I mean?

Here’s an example: I picked up a screwdriver yesterday that I had bought in case I needed it. Brilliant, because, six months after I bought it? I needed it. Brilliant. There is the brain in action. I did not have to go buy one, simply go get it and use it. But since I needed it I had to open it. Except it was packaged in that stiff, molded, welded-plastic stuff. You know, the stuff that was predicted to be gone soon because Walmart supposedly hated it? And because there were several injuries reported after trying to tear it open. Yes. That is the knowledge I had when I picked up the package, that it could hurt me. I think that is as far as my common sense thinking went because immediately my Brain said, ‘Yeah, may be, but it won’t hurt me.’ No explanation as to why it wouldn’t, just that it wouldn’t. And that is the problem with my lack of common sense. My dumb self went… ‘Okay’ and immediately began to try to rip the package open.

After ten minutes and two cuts I gave up and admitted that my brainiac self had duped me again, bandaged my two hurt fingers, thanked God I had not lost a limb, and marveled over why we don’t issue this to our soldiers. They could present it to the enemy… ‘Here. Enjoy this Swiss Army knife that you can use to stab me to death.’ Our Soldier Smiles at his enemy. The enemy looks suspicious, but I have found a lack of common sense is a pretty, well, common thing. Especially in undeveloped countries that don’t know what that stuff is. So he tries to open it and end up slicing himself all up. Great weapon. I’m sure it could work.

Eventually, with the help of a pair of scissors, I did get the screw driver out, but I cut myself once more because the edge where I had cut it was so sharp. And I wondered, because people who lack common sense often wonder about stupid things and I am no exception, what if you bought a pair of scissors encased in that crap? And you bought them because you had to have them to open that sort of packaging?. What could you do? Could you go back to the store and use a complimentary pair of scissors to cut open the packaging? Could you go get your carpenters knife (Razor Knife) and slice it open with that? (I did this once while holding the packaging on my lap. NOT Recommended.). Do you even have or own a Carpenter’s Knife? Could you run over it with the car and break the packaging? Nope. Doesn’t work. Nevertheless, I thought of all these things anyway. No, I decided, I would bend the package until the scissors popped through. That would work. So now I plan a trip to my local Walmart so I can buy a pair of scissors and try my theories. And once I get them open I’m going to run with them and see if that old wives’ tale is true. I mean, after all, how can it be dangerous if you don’t fall? I don’t plan to fall.

Well that’s my week. I hope your work week had some amusement in it for you as mine did. Check out the free e Book list here. It’s a beautiful night here in New York, 68 degrees and low humidity. I just mowed the lawn a little while ago, so add the smell of fresh mown grass to that. If I had a pond and a fishing pole I’d be all set, but I do have a chair and a porch and I think I’ll go watch the sunset. I like the way my characters in my books get to do that. They think of those things, maybe because they have lost so much. They take time to enjoy and appreciate those simple pleasures now. Enjoy the Week… Dell.



 

Earth’s Survivors Collection one Kindle Edition by Dell Sweet (Author)

Earth’s Survivors Collection one Kindle Edition

Earth’s Survivors Collection One contains the complete text from the first two Earth’s Survivors books, Apocalypse and Rising From The Ashes. It also includes bonus material, a complete major character bibliography, plus information from the series and the future plans for the series. Save when you buy both books at once and get more of what you want…
Earth’s Survivors follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in desperate struggle to survive. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule.
The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise.

Los Angeles: Billy and Beth start out with a small group and wind up on their own as they make their way across America trying to find others and safety.

Manhattan: Adam leaves the safety of his apartment to find his way out the dying Manhattan, gathering others as he makes his way.

Old Towne New York: Conner is alone for the first few weeks, but then he finds Katie and a reason to live again. They set out to survive and find much more than survival.

Watertown New York: Mike Collins goes to sleep thinking about his first vacation in many years that he will start in the morning. He awakens to destruction.

The Earth’s Survivors series of books follow the people that survive and set out to rebuild their lives. At first hoping only to make it day by day, but ultimately looking to the future and rebuilding a society where fear does not rule…

ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO preview

ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO

Zombie Plague: Book Two is copyright © 2010 Geo Dell. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2018 Geo Dell

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Geo Dell

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.

 

ZOMBIE PLAGUE: BOOK TWO

 

One

On the road

~ March 26th ~

The camp was up before dawn, tents packed away and breakfast and coffee taken quietly together around the low embers of the camp fires. The breakfast didn’t consist of much more than the coffee and a few energy bars, but it suited their purpose well enough. The Dog, who still had no name, was going person to person and begging little tidbits even after his own breakfast of canned meat.

As the sun was touching the horizon, the small caravan of six vehicles were once again winding their way southward, leaving the roads where they were impassable and taking to the fields.

The two Suburbans that had been fitted with lifts and bigger tires had no problem with the on and off road transitions. It was tougher for the other four vehicles.

They monitored the radios as they drove along. Bits and pieces of conversation and skip came through the static. Sometimes clear, sometimes garbled and barely intelligible, but there were no conversations they could follow. Mike had never been a C.B. Radio fan, but Bob had been and he explained skip to everyone.

Skip could be two thousand miles away, or only a  hundred. It was a signal that hit the atmosphere just right, or cloud cover, or a mountain range, and carried farther than it normally would have. You might talk to someone a thousand miles away as clearly as though they were no more than a mile down the road. And you might have that conversation for ten minutes or two hours and then suddenly they were gone because those atmospheric conditions that had allowed the conversation had changed.

Early on, Mike had thought about Ham radio. You could reach around the world with Ham radio. But Bob had explained that Ham radio accomplished that with relays. All the people that did the relays were most likely gone, at least for now. Maybe they would be back eventually, but they had heard nothing but a soft electric hiss cutting across the miles the two times they had tried the bands, and no one had answered their calls.

The F.M. Band had also remained dead. It seemed all the traffic was on the C.B. Channels. The V.H.F. Bands, normally used for Marine conversations, were empty too. But that offered a secure option for them to talk without being overheard. As they drove through the morning now, they talked back and forth on the V.H.F. Band, monitoring the C.B. and the F.M. Bands.

~

They filled their tanks two hours after dawn at a collapsed gas station next to the interstate. A length of rubber hose connected to a hand operated Kerosene pump made the job quick. The only hard part had been locating the underground tank. The cover had been found though, the cap spun off, and the odor of gasoline drifted up into the air telling them that the underground tank had not been ruptured.

The little area that serviced the interstate contained a large garage, two small Mom-and-Pop stores, the gas station and a chain auto parts store right next to the garage, probably built with the garage in mind.

On the other side of the asphalt parking lot sat a motel unit that had seen better days. Most of the units were flattened. The swimming pool was cracked and empty; wire mesh and what looked to be a bottomless void graced the middle of the rust stained pool. A second row of motel units running parallel to the pool looked to be untouched. Across the road were two name brand outlet stores, obviously placed to take advantage of the interstate. They had pulled the trucks onto the cracked pavement of the gas station, and after they had finished gassing up the trucks, Mike had gathered everyone together.

Bob and Tom came back from checking out the garage and the auto parts store just after the trucks were gassed up. Bob nodded his head at Mike.

“You noticed Bob and Tom looking over the garage,” Mike said. “We’re thinking of stopping here. We’d probably end up here for a few days while Bob and Tom work on the other four trucks. And we need a few other things: tail gate swing outs that can hold a spare tire, gas can too, roof racks to carry gear, lifts, better, bigger tires… In short, the things we had intended to do back in Watertown.” He looked around, trying to catch the eyes of each person individually.

“You can see how much easier it is for the two Suburbans to get around wrecks, buckled roads, down in to and out of ditches. It just makes sense to give the other four trucks that ability, otherwise they’ll just be slowing us down. You saw a little of that this morning.”

“Makes sense,” Janet Dove agreed.

Molly nodded. “My only concern is, are those…” she paused and her face reddened, “People,” she managed after a long pause, “coming after us?” Her eyes were dark and questioning. Mike could read the fear in her posture.

“I doubt it,” Candace said. She spoke quietly but forcefully.

“We’ll listen in on the radios,” Nellie added.

“They won’t come. In the city they knew how to get around… Out here,” Patty waved her arms around, finally lifting them to the sky. “They wouldn’t know what to do. Couldn’t sneak up on us.” She shook her head. “I just don’t think they’re the kind that want to deal with even odds.”

Candace nodded in agreement. “You know, Molly. Spineless, right?”

Molly nodded and Mike watched the fear leave her and something closer to determination replace it. She nodded her agreement once more, looking directly at Candace as she did.

Mike cleared his throat and continued. “The reason we traveled on was to put some miles between us and them. It’s a long way for them to come. I don’t see it,” Mike said. He let the silent nods continue for a moment and then continued.

“There are other things we can do, things we need. Canned goods, maybe one of those cows, or a deer. They seem to be wandering everywhere. There really is enough to keep all of us busy for the next few days while Bob and Tom get the truck situation straightened out.” He paused but no one spoke. “So… If there are no real objections?”

“Let’s do it,” Molly said.

“Yeah, I’m for it,” Patty added.

~

As Mike turned away, Patty, Candace, Molly and Nell began to set up a plan for monitoring the radios. Everyone agreed that they would probably hear about anything coming their way long before it reached them. Molly went over to the garage a few minutes later and pitched in, helping Bob and Tom move whatever was in the way so that they could reach the racks and garage bays. There were two tow trucks that they used to do most of the work, but chains and muscle power accomplished the rest.

In the end, they cleared out three stalls that they could work in. Molly stayed, and not long after Nell found her way over and began to work side by side with her.

The garage was a prefab steel building that, either because of a whim of the Gods’ or its design, had remained standing. By the time some others were returning with a cow and two large does in the back of one of the pickup trucks, the garage was ready to go. Molly and Tom wheeled out a towering chain-fall for the hunting party to use to dress out the animals and then went back to work.

~

By late afternoon the third Suburban was well under way. The lift was done, brush-guards installed and they were working on the carrying racks. Mike and Ronnie stopped by to look over the effort and were amazed. The Suburban looked like something that had rolled out of some sort of Safari outfitters garage, or a futuristic end of the world epic, Mike joked. But that sent them all into silence for a few moments, and Mike didn’t mention it again.

Molly and Nell were working on bolting a huge winch to the front bumper of one truck while Tom and Bob worked on stripping out one of the pickups to get it ready for a lift kit.

Tim and Annie had made their way to the garage and then found themselves drafted and made part of the work crew. Annie was in the third stall laying out the parts they would need for the lift on the pickup truck while Tim worked at mounting the oversize tires to new, larger rims, using a pair of heavy iron bars and his body weight to accomplish the work. He and Annie joked back and forth as they worked.

They were using a small twelve volt air-compressor to inflate the tires after they had them mounted. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves, Mike thought, and they seemed happy to be in each other’s company.

Outside, near the far end of the garage, the chain-fall had been set up, and a group led by Janet Dove, which included Sandy and Susan, were hoisting a large cow up into the air.

“Mike,” Janet said as he and Ronnie passed by on their way out of the Garage.

Mike paused.

“We would like to smoke most of this meat… If we’re going to be here a few days, I thought…”

Mike nodded. “Yeah. Might as well, Jan. We have the time,” He assured her, “And, it’ll help to have the meat with us, who knows what’s ahead.” He shrugged.

Janet Dove smiled, turned away, and Mike stood watching as the huge cow began to lift into the air from the back of the pickup truck before he and Ronnie turned and walked away.

A few minutes later, the two of them fell in with Candace and Patty who were sifting through what the chain stores had to offer in the way of clothing, canned goods and whatever else they came across that they could find a use for. They passed by Lilly who had taken over the toy department, blocked off one aisle, and was keeping Brian and Janelle busy. She smiled and waved as they passed. Janelle waved back. Her dark eyes finally looking rested and happy.

Brian had built himself the biggest Lincoln Log village that Mike had ever seen and was now busy populating it with dozens of green, plastic Army Men. Mike smiled and Brian took the time out of his game to smile back at he and Ronnie. He held a large plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex in one hand which seemed to Mike about to wreak havoc on the village and its population of Army Men.

A half dozen trips with Candace and Patty, and late afternoon turned into early evening. Fires were burning to smoke the meat. Two large roasts were spitted over a huge fire pit made of field stone. A stew was bubbling in a pot that had been suspended over the flames. Nearly everyone had found a reason to stop by the area Janet Dove had set aside for cooking, most arriving just as she had been about to send some others out looking for everyone to round them up for dinner. The Dog was running around in circles, happily racing from person to person, tail wagging crazily. The smell of roasting meat hung heavy in the still, cool air.

~Early Evening~

Everyone sat close together at several wooden picnic tables that Janet had drafted a few volunteers to bring over from the collapsed section of the motel. They had sat in a small clearing not far from the building, untouched, while everything around them had been leveled.

The temperature was in the low forties, but with the early evening sun still shining, it felt much warmer.

Mike sat next to Candace, Ronnie on his other side. Across the table, Molly sat with Nell. They were both laughing, involved in conversation with each other. It was the happiest that Mike had seen Nell or Molly.

Canned potatoes, fresh beef and venison, a stew that held a bit of everything in it and a steaming platter of peas dominated the table center. Everyone had heaped up their plates. Too long eating thrown together meals or energy bars had left them hungry for real food.

Their basic protein needs had been met, but there was nothing like real food to make you… Happy, Mike decided. He looked around the table at all the smiling faces. It was actually a mood elevator, he decided.

“What’s on your mind, Baby?” Candace asked. Her eyes smiled, but her mouth wore a question he had come to know was more serious than her smile insinuated.

He bent forward and kissed her, making the smile on her face spread wider still. “I was thinking how happy everyone looked.” He turned his head and let his eyes sweep the tables once more, then turned back to Candace whose eyes and face now wore another look he was becoming familiar with. He bent forward and kissed her once more. “I’m pretty sure I love you,” He told her.

She laughed, “Pretty sure!” She slapped his arm with one hand. “You better be more than pretty sure, Mister.”

Mike laughed and kissed her again. “Positive,” he said. “I’d be lost without you.” His eyes turned serious. “That’s the truth,” His voice dropped to a near whisper as he leaned even closer. “I love you so much that I don’t have words for it. I only know it’s real. I only know I need you.” He kissed her once more and sat back up to catch Annie giggling and looking away.

Candace laughed beside him. An easy laugh that eased the seriousness of the conversation.

“I hope we’ll have some time later on,” she said, her voice still low, husky.

“I’ll make sure of it,” Mike told her.

“I was looking at that garage building,” Ronnie said from beside him.

Mike nodded.

“It’s one of those industrial prefabricated jobs. I’ve put up a few, but I had no idea how well engineered they were. They hold up pretty well, or at least this one did. The buildings not really damaged at all.”

“I noticed that too,” Mike agreed, “What are you thinking?”

“Well,” Ronnie grinned, “When we get where we’re going, it may not be a bad idea for a dwelling… or dwellings. At least for a temporary dwelling until we build… if we build. Lightweight, easy to put up. Easy to insulate. Not bad in an earthquake, if that stuff’s not completely done with us.”

Mike was nodding his head. “I’m for it, but are they hard to come by? I mean, where could we get one?”

“Not as hard as it seems. There are outlets where you can buy them in larger cities. And there are thousands already set up. We could take them apart pretty easily, take them where we want them and put them back up. All the structural supports are pretty much the same. You just add more or take away to make the building the size you need. Very lightweight, so they’d be easy to transport. They’d go up or down pretty fast,” Ronnie finished.

“Has my vote,” Bob added. “Fast, easy. They seem solid. It will save us a ton of time.”

“I’ve seen them around. I think it’s a good idea. We wouldn’t have to worry about wooden structures falling down on us.” Mike looked around. “Almost all the wooden structures are down. Concrete seems okay, for the most part, steel. But wooden structures just give too easily. Putting them up fast would also be a plus,” he finished. He raised his eyes from the ground – he had a habit of looking at the ground to visualize his thoughts – and saw that Molly and Nell had been listening to their conversation. They were nodding their heads in agreement.

“That garage is really solid,” Molly agreed.

“Cement’s cracked here and there, but the building itself held up really well,” Nell agreed. “I don’t even like walking into a wooden building anymore. You can feel it move, hear the creaks and groans… pops.” She shook her head.

Mike and Ronnie both nodded.

”It’s a good plan,” Mike said. He turned his head to Molly. “Where did you learn to turn wrenches?” he asked her.

Molly smiled. “My dad had a race car. It started out as a hobby but became something else. He’d work on it all week long and then run it in races on the weekends.” She smiled shyly. “When I was a little girl, as far back as I can remember, I used to go out and watch.” She laughed. “Pretty soon I was fetching wrenches, parts.” She laughed again. “The first time I came in with greasy hands, I thought my Mother was going to die. When I was fifteen, my Dad bought an old beat to shit Mustang. A sixty-four. It was a project car, he’d said. We’d work on it in our spare time together, finish it up and sell it for a profit.” She smiled and her eyes misted as she seemed to be looking back through the years.

“It took nearly a year of work. That was also the time I was eligible to get my permit. The day I got my license, he handed me the keys,” she finished, smiling happily at the memory.

“Pretty nice,” Candace said.

“Yeah, except it got smashed flat when this,” she lifted her hands and gestured helplessly, “happened. But once we’re where we’re going to be, I think I’ll try to find another one, or maybe a two door sixty-two Chevy Impala. I’ve always liked the way those Chevy’s look.” She shrugged, “Crazy, I guess, but I really think I’m gonna do it. There must be one somewhere.”

“I can see that,” Patty said. “Or something else worth rebuilding.”

More than a few heads nodded in agreement.

“Sometimes,” Patty added as an afterthought. “The thing you find is better than the thing you thought you wanted.”

Nell looked at Molly. Molly smiled, and Nell leaned closer and kissed her.

“You two?” Candace asked.

“Nell tempted me,” Molly said.

“It’s like Patty said, sometimes the thing you find is better than the thing you thought you would find… or want. I hadn’t expected this much out of life in the old world let alone this one,” Nell said smiling, but serious. She worked her hand into Molly’s and leaned closer to her.

Mike’s eyes swept across Patty’s face, expecting to see a smile but finding a distracted, sadness on her face instead. Patty swept it away so quickly though that he wasn’t sure just a second later that it had really been there at all. Maybe, he decided, he had imagined it. After all, Patty had found the better thing she hadn’t known she would find in Ronnie. There would be no reason for that sadness to be on her face. He found his own hand holding Candace’s, and she leaned into him for a kiss.

“Get a room, you guys,” Tim said as he and Annie passed by. Annie was blushing but had a huge smile on her face.

“Horn dogs,” Tim told her as they walked away, laughing with each other and holding hands as they went.

“Horn dogs?” Mike asked.

“I don’t know about you but I am no horn dog,” Janet Dove joked as she passed by.

The thought of prim and proper Janet Dove making a statement like that caused everyone to crack up. Janet stopped, a shocked look on her face.

“Good one, Jan,” Candace said.

“I can’t believe I said that,” Janet said.

Everyone cracked up then, including Janet Dove.

~Evening~

Candace lay in the crook of Mike’s arm as they talked quietly.

“Gotta go in about five minutes,” Mike told her. “My watch.”

“No,” Candace said. “You can’t go if you can’t get out of bed. Besides, we paid for the room for the night,” she finished and laughed.

Mike chuckled. “This is nice. Privacy, first we’ve had in… well, forever.”

“When we leave, we’ll be back to getting none at all again,” Candace told him. She snuggled against his side, one hand resting against the flat of his stomach, her index finger drawing small circles. “But,” she lifted her eyes to his. “I guess I have to let you go. Just think about that alone time for later.” She kissed him softly. “Something to keep you thinking about it.” She turned away, swung her feet to the floor and began to get dressed.

“You do give me things to think about,” Mike told her. He trailed his fingers down her back, bent forward and kissed her shoulder.

Candace looked back at him. “Do you want to make that watch?”

Mike laughed. “No, but I have no choice at all.” He leaned forward and kissed her mouth. “Later,” he said.

“Later,” She agreed.

~

The room had not been in bad shape. It was funny how fate could be, Mike had thought. One wing flattened, one untouched. From sleeping in a cave a day ago, to sleeping in a real bed the next.

The room was dusty, a slight musty, unused odor, but dry. The roof had held up. The walls seemed untouched.

“Where are you going?” Mike asked.

“With you.”

“You’re not on, Babe,” Mike grinned.

“Correction. I wasn’t on. You had Patty on, but she wanted to spend time with Ronnie, so we switched. That way, when we’re done, we can come back here again…” She cocked her eyebrows. “And take our time?”

“What, not be rushed?” Mike asked.

She stood and turned into him as he was getting ready to leave. A beautiful woman wearing only a pair of white socks, which was all she had managed to get on. She stretched up onto her tip toes and kissed him. His hands pulled her close. She pulled away with a smile.

“I thought you were coming with me,” Mike said.

“I am,” She giggled.

He reached for her once more, but she skipped away. “We’ll never get there, Baby,” she told him.

“As it is, I’ll probably be thinking about you throughout the whole watch and waiting to get back here. God, Candace, you’re so beautiful.”

She looked at him seriously. “Keep that up and we’ll never get out of this room.” She crossed the short distance between them and kissed him once more. “Say it just once more?”

“You’re beautiful,” Mike told her as he pulled her close.

~

It was about an hour and a half past sunset when Mike took over one of the perimeter guard posts from Susan. It was simply the far corner of the garage complex that overlooked a field and the highway beyond it.

“Quiet?” He asked.

“Pretty much. The dog… what’s that dog’s name anyway?” she asked.

“He doesn’t have one,” Mike admitted. “We, uh… we just call him The Dog, you know. He survived. He got through it same as us; he made it, you know. He’s The Dog.” Mike finished lamely.

“Oh. Sounds like a little guilt there, Mike. Maybe we should all get together and name it,” Susan suggested.

Mike nodded.

“Well, anyway… The Dog kept looking off towards the highway. He didn’t, like, bark or anything. I thought maybe deer, cows, something else. But with the meat drying, it could have drawn anything at all. The fires and so many people should be enough to keep anything away. Even if it’s wolves, they’ll probably stay away, right? I just thought you should know about it.”

Mike nodded. “Could be something, but you’re probably right. Most likely it’s nothing. I imagine the smell of the meat will draw every carnivore in the area. That’s okay as long as they don’t try to bother us. There will be plenty of scraps when we’re gone.”

Susan nodded this time. “Mike,” she hesitated and Mike nodded for her to continue. “Well, I wondered what you thought about Jan and Bob’s idea of settling in the wilderness. You know, deep in the middle of nowhere… a new Nation.”

Mike nodded slowly. “I think they really want to do it. I think they really believe in it, Susan,” he shrugged. Her eyes questioned him. “Okay… and… And I wish I could believe in it they way they do. Not that I believe it won’t work. I think anything we do will take hard work, a good deal of hard work,” he shrugged again. “And I think they’ll put the work in, I really do. Maybe you’re asking me what I want to do, and I can’t tell you that. I don’t know… I haven’t decided. It’s something Candace and I would have to take the time to sit down and decide, and we just haven’t had the time to do that.”

“You know, in my head the old world was selfish. It was all about selfish. The me-generation? Something like that. And I’m not saying I was any better. I wasn’t. Oh, I had my friends, and I helped them when I could, but when it came down to push or shove, it was me. It was me, and a lot of the people I knew, worked for, with, associated with, were the same way. Social on the surface, but scratch that surface and it’s a different story. Push or shove… and not an overly hard push or shove either.” He looked at her and Susan nodded.

“At least for me it’s been that way. I guess I sound cynical. But it’s not that way anymore. I’m not that way anymore. It’s not about me. It’s about me and Candace. And it really isn’t about us either. It’s deeper. There are people here I’ve really come to care about. I mean really care about. Do you realize that I haven’t watched T.V. Since the night this all started? Sounds ridiculous, right? None of us have, but I did computer work. Scripting, C, C plus, plus, graphics, more. I used to turn my computer on, turn on the T.V. for company and go to work. Eighteen hours sometimes, even longer on occasion. It… that… was my life. No relationships. No one to really care about. No time for it. And everyone I knew was the same way. Superficial. Shallow? Yeah, that too. Well… I don’t do that anymore; I don’t want to.”

Susan nodded. “Everyone I knew was too busy living to think about how they were living,” she said.

“That I do understand,” Mike said. “But not now, you know, somewhere, in some secure building, on some secure server I have a couple of bank accounts that were well over a million dollars each.” He laughed. “All means nothing now, Susan, nothing. I am happy with what I have. I don’t want what I used to have.” He sighed.

“The Nation? Probably a great idea. I can think of only a few things that I could do that would matter as much to me as that does to them. Kids… love… Candace, you know? Do it right, not like the old world. And that’s the rub. It depends on Candace… and the baby. She’s trying to get pregnant. It seems like almost everyone is.” He rubbed the flat of his palm along his jaw feeling the stubble that was softening into a beard. “If she wanted to do it, yes. If she wanted to travel to Alaska, yes. When the time comes, and it’s probably not all that far away in the scheme of things, but when the time comes for Bob and those that have committed to go with them, and those that will – I know there will be more – when that time comes, if Candace wants to go with them, I’ll jump in with both feet. That’s the truth of it.”

Susan’s eyes were misted. “Thank you,” she said.

“Thank you for being long winded and entirely too personal on short notice?” Mike asked.

Susan laughed. “No, for being honest. I think I’m going to go have a talk with a young lady. I’ll see you later, Mike,” she said. She smiled and then walked off into the shadows of the night.

Mike watched her go. Apparently everyone was more appreciative of people now, not just himself, he thought. He turned his attention to the field and the highway. After his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he could see the dark shapes of cattle grazing in the field, a few deer mixed in with them.

He thought about what he had just said, how much he felt for Candace. How for the next few nights they would have a real bed. His mind filled with thoughts of her. He almost missed the radio call, almost wrote it off as one of their own, until he realized it wasn’t.

~

“Hello the camp,” the voice repeated.

Mike unclasped the radio from his belt and raised it to his mouth and spoke. “I guess you mean us,” he said more calmly than he felt…




Geo Dell on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/geo-dell/id712828068?mt=11

Geo Dell on Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Geo+Dell?

Geo Dell on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Geo%20+Dell

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Geo Dell on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/George-Dell/e/B00T94K198




Zombie Plagues on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/25728

Zombie Plagues on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=The+Zombie+Plagues+%2B+Dell+Sweet



 

America The Dead Book Links…

Earth’s Survivors America The Dead

Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: Begins The End 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,130. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2014 by independAntwriters Publishing.
When a catastrophic natural disaster looms on the near horizon, the government releases an airborne virus designed to make the human race better able to survive. Those that do survive are picking up the pieces of their world, and those that have died lay in their death sleep, but in their bodies the virus works on, mutating, setting the stage for a second catastrophe far worse that the first.
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: Los Angeles 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 2 · Recommended reads. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 57,380. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2014 by independAntwriters Publishing.
An apocalypse of epic proportions has shaken the Earth to it’s core. In the bigger cities the dead are growing quickly in numbers. Growing intelligent as they continue to change and mutate. They have one thought in their rotting brains, take over the world, and destroy those that live in the process. Billy Jingo leaves Los Angeles hoping there might be something better on the other coast…
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: Manhattan 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 3 · Recommended reads. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 58,560. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
Donita’s Notebook March 1st (Night) Quakes, at least three. Warmed up fast, and all the dirty snow that was piled along the streets has melted. Torrential rains. Thunder and lightening in the snow storm that came after sunset. Didn’t last long; turned back to rain. Parts of the projects are burning. Jersey is burning. The sky is red-orange, everything across the river is on fire. No one has come.
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: War At Home 1 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 4 · Recommended reads. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 78,950. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
Gabe Kohlson moved away from the monitors. “Heart rate is dropping, don’t you think…” He stopped as the monitor began to chime softly. “Dammit,” Kohlson said as he finished his turn. “What is it,” David Johns wheeled his chair across the short space of the control room. “Flat lined,” Kohlson said as he pushed a button on the wall to confirm what the doctors already knew. Clayton Hunter was dead.
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: War At Home 2 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 5 · Recommended reads. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,770. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
Donita: The hunger was terrible, all consuming, and it came in crashing waves. The impulse to feed seemed to be the only coherent thought she had. It was hard to think around, hard to think past. It was all she could do not to rush from the trees, find the smell that tempted her and consume it. Eat it completely. Leave nothing at all…
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: Zombie Fall 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 6 · Recommended reads. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 86,580. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
Arlene’s Journal It’s the night before the six will leave to go back to the outside. I think of it that way… The outside. This place overwhelmed me for the first little while. That and having to kill a man. But it was worse for those who stayed behind when we made our way to this place. If they had not stayed to fight the rest of us would not have been able to get away…
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: The Zombie Plagues 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 7 · Recommended reads. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 83,790. Language: English. Published: March 22, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
Donita walked down Eighth Avenue towards Columbus Circle. Behind her a silent army followed, numbering in the thousands. From the circle they would take the park. There were thousands of the living camped out in the park. She could smell them on the air that flowed past her face as she walked. They had believed they were safe in their numbers, and for a time that had been true, but no more…
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: The Fold 1 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 8. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 91,250. Language: English. Published: July 29, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
They made it to the top of the pass just in time to watch the sleigh approach the steep grade that would bring it to the top of the pass. An older man sat high on the wagon, driving a team of four oxen. The man, somewhere south of sixty, Mike thought, set the brake on the sleigh and then looked down at the five men. Visitors to the Valley settlement of the Nation. Jessie sets out on her own…
Earth’s Survivors America The Dead: The Fold 2 

Series: Earth’s Survivors America The Dead, Book 9. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 96,300. Language: English. Published: July 29, 2016 by independAntwriters Publishing.
Jessie Jessie came awake in the darkness. When she tried to move her hands to her throbbing head, she realized they were securely bound behind her. She also realized that there was some sort of light source near her, and it had only seemed dark at first because her eyes were tightly covered. Blind folded, she told herself, and she was gagged as well. She tried to sit up…



 


Dell Sweet’s Books are also available at:

 AmazoniTunesNookKOBO – Smashwords and many other book sellers



The Original Survivors: From Dell Sweet

 

 

 

Andrea Zurita had been alive for the second time for more than three days. The men who had left her body had done so carefully: Senor Prescott would be very angry to find them on his land. Transgressions had been met with violence in the past, the bodies dumped into the ocean.
Andrea Ivanna Zurita had taken I’ll three days before in the small village near to Prescott’s property. She worked for Prescott, someone allowed on and off the property with ease. She had taken ill at work suddenly, no one knew the why of it and her family was poor: A doctor, other than the local clinic, was out of the question. So she had been sent home to rest, but she had never made it to the local free clinic: She had lapsed into a coma a few hours later and while her family had still been reeling she had died. No rhyme, no reason.
Andrea Zurita was a young woman, there seemed no reason for her sudden illness and death, but there were things that should be done and so the local Mirukus, shaman had come. A few words, prayers, the shaman was a transplanted Haitian. They understood most of what he said, but not everything. He had left and they had prepared her for burial. She was washed and dressed in a plain white cotton dress. The second day came and the family came to call, leaving their wishes where she lay in her grandmother’s home. The third day came and the burial was coming. Cousins, men who worked in a neighboring village, were on the way to open the grave. That was when Andrea had sat up and vomited blood.
Her eyes had rolled back into her head. Her body shaken, but her chest did not rise. She had spoken no words, but she had tried to rise several times before one of the arriving cousins, crossing himself, had bound her with rope, hand and foot. They had sent for the Mirukus again.
The old Haitian had come quickly, taken one look at Andrea and then spoken cryptically, quickly. “Return her to the man that has cast this spell on her. He has bound her to him in life and that has followed her into death. Return her for she is yours no longer.”
The Mirukus believed the white man, Prescott, had attempted to control the river spirit Pullujmu, to take control of the beautiful young woman for his own devices, but she had slipped over into death and was now controlled only by those who controlled the dead. He had left fearfully, quickly and had refused to come back for any reason. With nothing left to do for her they had taken her and left her bound body on the long drive that lead to the Prescott house. The white man may have her, but he would not have what he expected to have.

A virus spreads across the globe on the heels of a natural disaster; stolen and released or released purposely? No one knows for sure; they only know society is finished and the dead are rising…


Paperbacks:

One: https://www.amazon.com/dp/198057622X

Two: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1980576750

Three: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1980577102





 

Earth’s Survivors iTunes Links

Earth’s Survivors iTunes Links




Apocalypse:

The end of the world has come. Few will survive starving, attacks by gangs… And then the dead will come #Undead https://goo.gl/CKy1Zy


Rising From The Ashes:

#prepper Rising From The Ashes: I-Tunes From L.A. To Manhattan lawlessness is the rule, eBook… https://goo.gl/xddmoT


The Nation:

The Nation takes shape and the people who will build it #eBook #horror https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-the-nation/id602902809?mt=11


Home In The Valley:

Home In The Valley #iTunes Building the first and most important settlement #ebook #Apocalypse https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-home-in-valley/id1015548804?mt=11


Plague:

Plague #iTunes #Undead #eBook The dead rise and the cities fall to them. Death is no escape… https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-plague/id1015630497?mt=11


Watertown:

Watertown #iTunes #Apocalypse #eBook A look at what lead up to the apocalypse of the dead https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-watertown/id1086227131?mt=11


World Order:

World Order. The final book. Will the Nation crumble or rise…? #iTunes #Apocalypse #Dystopian https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-world-order/id1086393733?mt=11


The Box Set:

Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume. Get a FREE Preview right now! https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/earths-survivors-box-set/id1154467599?mt=11



More Dell Sweet on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/dell-sweet/id722382569?mt=11



 

The Original Survivors Alabama Island Kindle Edition by Dell Sweet (Author)

The Original Survivors: Alabama Island; Kindle Edition

Rochester NY: Joel
Late Morning
Joel came awake with sunlight streaming in through the windshield of the small car. He looked around at the road. Stalled cars for as far as he could see in any direction He was somewhere outside of Rochester, but where, he wondered. He thought back to Rochester.
The drive into the city in the early morning had seemed uneventful right up until the attack had come. Afterward he had berated himself, cursed himself for not taking the events of the night before more seriously, but he knew that the truth was that none of them had. None of them had, and now he was the only one left. The only one left, and he was alone because of that decision.
They had just passed a large mansion, or what had once been a large mansion on East avenue: Nearly into downtown when the attack had come. The last Jeep, Ed… Terry, Gina? He couldn’t remember for sure, but it didn’t matter, they were only the first to go. The Jeep had blown up behind them. One second it was morning silent; birds whistling from the tree lined street, and the next a roaring fireball had erupted from the Jeep. The Jeep had lifted into the air engulfed with flame, and had come back down a split second later a twisted, shattered wreck. The roof ripped open crudely as if a giant can opener had done the job: Glass gone, body twisted: Blackened shapes, still moving, clearly seen through the flames.
They had all panicked. Joel had hit the brakes, somehow convinced they had driven over something in the road: Landmines. The word leapt into his mind and kept repeating. The second Jeep had rammed into them, Scott, Lilly, Jan, and that had distracted him further. As he had lifted his eyes he had seen the men squatting beside the once elegant mansion. A rocket launcher on one man’s shoulder, and he had known the truth.
His foot had seemed to leap forward of its own accord and slam into the gas pedal, but it was too late. His eyes swiveled back and he saw the rocket leap from the launcher. A second later a black curtain had descended.
He had come to hours later; the vehicles’ nothing but twisted husks, still burning in the black night. He could feel the heat from the fires. He had lain for what seemed like a long time trying to orient himself, make sense of what he last remembered, and what he now saw. Time did nothing to sort it out. It still made no sense some time later when he had first tried to sit up. Pain had flared everywhere and the black curtain had descended once more.
The second time the fires had been out. Heat still came from the blackened shells, but the fires were dead. The moon was high in the sky, bloated, bright silver.
He had moved slower, and while it had been close he had managed to fight past the first pain when he had moved.
His left leg was bad. Not broken, but cut badly, maybe sprung, after all he had lain with it twisted to one side for what he assumed was a very long time. He used part of his shirt to wrap his leg as he let his head clear.
His head was worse. Pain inside every time he tried to move too fast. It felt like liquid sloshing around inside his head, his brain shifting with it, slamming into the bone cage of his skull, and he wondered if it were true, or just something his mind provided in explanation of the pain. As he sat the pain eased enough for him to stand. Standing helped to ease it even more and he began to search for the others…


Get it now or read more: https://www.amazon.com/Original-Survivors-Alabama-Island-ebook/dp/B074DJZX2J


A free look at a story from the collection: CRIME TIME by Dell Sweet 2017

A free look at a story from the collection: CRIME TIME by Dell Sweet 2017


CRIME TIME

by Dell Sweet 2017 all rights reserved foreign and domestic.

 

LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

Portions of this novel are Copyright © 2010 – 2015 Dell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.



This material is protected by copyright laws and is used here with the authors permission

This material has not been edited for content and so it is arbitrarily rated 18+



PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS

Nine Fifty-Nine A.M.

I lowered my wrist to my side, settled myself back into the shadows of the treeline and raised my binoculars to my eyes.

I swept the back deck and rear entrance, shot across the fence to the next house in line: Nothing; and nothing. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I had been wrong all along.

Being a private detective isn’t all thrills. Most of the time it’s doing exactly what I was doing: Sitting and waiting. For hours sometimes, with little to show. Other times you just happen to walk into the middle of something, get everything you need in those few seconds and feel a little guilty about even charging for it, let alone keeping the retainer: If there was a retainer… But of course I always fight past that. After all money, making a living, is why I do this job.

Apparently this job wasn’t going to be one of those kinds of jobs, but what kind of job was it going to be? Hard to tell.

I was watching the house of Paul and Melinda Fields. At Melinda Field’s request. She was a friend of my wife Joan. So you would think that the request would have come from my wife to help her friend, but it had not. It had not come that way at all. It had come instead in the form of a phone call to my office. Melinda had called and asked me to meet with her, and she asked me to keep it quiet. She didn’t want her friends to know, meaning my wife too, I concluded.

I was okay with that. You get a lot of that sort of thing as a private eye. People think odd things, maybe they’re even a little paranoid. If a woman or a man thinks his or her loved one is cheating on them they sometimes want to keep the information as quiet as possible. They want to know. You’re the private dick so it’s okay if you know, but they don’t want anyone else to know.

This was day two and I was about to burn up the retainer. I had nothing at all to show for it. But as I said that is the private detective game most of the time. Waiting and seeing. I simply hadn’t seen anything. Well, almost nothing. Apparently Paul did keep things from his wife. Right now, for instance, he was supposed to be at his office. He wasn’t of course. Joan had left for work, but he hadn’t. And more than once he had checked the windows as though he were expecting someone. Peeking out of the drapes; sliding the deck door open and peeking out before he stepped outside… Sipping his coffee as he looked around and then quickly stepping back inside. Odd.

Odd, but not exactly indicative of much of anything at all. He had done nearly the same thing yesterday and I had wasted nearly four hours watching him pace the deck, check the windows, pace the kitchen, refill his cup, pace the deck some more, and then finally get in his car and drive to the office in the early afternoon.

Paul Fields was a contractor. Not one of the big ones, but not one of the small ones either. They lived in a nice subdivision. Melinda sold real estate. Between the two of them they did very well. She drove a nice BMW and he drove a new Ford pickup. One of the big ones with the big price tags. It looked as though it had never hauled anything in its life. All shiny black and chrome. Lots of chrome.

The man lived in Jeans, work boots and button up chambray work shirts. He was in his early forties, looked thirty five. Fit, attractive in some ways. I could see why she might think he was  screwing around. I just didn’t see any evidence of it if he was. Maybe, I thought, I should have run it past Joan. Maybe she felt this same thing a few times a year, once a month: Who knew. The only thing that had stopped me was that Melinda had made it a condition of hiring me. And so I hadn’t.

I lowered the glasses, slipped a cigarette from my pack and lit it, and then settled back to smoke as I watched. I know, they’ll kill me, but isn’t life killing us all every day? I know, I know, excuses. I got a ton of them.

I took a deep drag and blew the smoke out my nose. I glanced at my watch. Another hour and that would be it.

It was about then that things got interesting. Paul had, had the drapes open on the rear sliders. They suddenly swept shut. My first thought was that he was about to leave for the office, but out of the corner of my eye I caught a taxi drift up to the curbing a couple houses down and stop. It sat idling for a few moments and then the back door popped open, a woman stepped out and hurried off down the walk toward Paul’s house.

I got the camera up and snapped a few dozen pictures before she was out of my line of sight, but who knew what they might be worth? She was moving fast and her face was not fully turned toward the camera. She had one hand up, brushing at her hair as she walked. I changed the card and slipped the other into my pocket. I hated to be short when I needed to shoot.

There was a gap in the drapes. I couldn’t see much through the shadows as I focused with my binoculars. The digital camera didn’t offer much better on zoom, but I clicked a few shots off anyway. Many times I had found the money shot in the pictures I didn’t think would be worth anything at all. I then began to scan the second floor bedroom drapes for movement. There was a set of sliders there too that opened onto an upper deck.

A little movement caught my eye so I kept the lens focused there. Something or someone brushed up against the drapes, they stuttered open for a brief instant and I clicked off another dozen shots out of habit. You just never knew where the money shot was going to be, or if there was even going to be one, but if you didn’t shoot you couldn’t get anything.

I put in another hour, but there was nothing much to see. I had just about made up my mind to shift my cover to the front of the house just in case she slipped out earlier than I thought she would, when a taxi rolled up to the curb of the house next door, and then coasted to a stop, presumably, out of my line of site in front of Paul’s house. I cursed under my breath. Piss poor planning on my part. No other way to see it. I could have gotten a clear shot of the woman, whoever she was.

All in all it made no difference though. The retainer was shot, and most people never went past the retainer. He was fooling around with someone, most likely, and maybe one of the shots I took would even be enough for Melinda to recognize who the woman was. If proof was all she was after she had that.

I retreated back into the woods and made my way to a dead end service road where I had parked earlier, tossed my gear onto the front seat of the beat up old Dodge I used for surveillance, and followed it in. A half a day shot. I had another case to look into, a simple straight forward process serve. I had some good information on where the person should be, hopefully she would be. Maybe it could be a slam dunk kind of day. Well, except for missing the exit shot. I cursed once more under my breath as I keyed the old Dodge and headed back into town.

Nine Twenty-Seven P.M.

I shifted into park, dropped the keys into my coat pocket and levered open my door. At the last moment I turned and retrieved my binoculars, camera, and the small .380 I usually carried when I was somewhere where unexpected things might happen.

The process serve had been a bust, I was tired and grouchy. I palmed the small gun in one hand: I had found myself in the woods more than once on surveillance jobs. Bad neighborhoods a few times too. The .380 was small in my hand, but a large comfort in my head.

I had started with the gun after a friend of mine who worked for the PD and moonlighted as a private eye, small stuff, mostly process serving, had been ambushed by an angry husband he had been trying to serve divorce papers on. He’d been shot four times and had barely survived the hurried ambulance trip to the hospital emergency room. The PD career was done, and the private eye stuff too, although a few of us threw him a bone when we could: When he was sober. I decided I’d rather have something to show.

I had nearly bought a .44 caliber, but one test fire had convinced me to leave that for something smaller and hopefully non fatal. I know, I shouldn’t really be concerned with that. After all, if I am going to have to use a gun to defend myself it should be capable of laying someone down. I just haven’t been able to believe in it yet. I have flashed the .380 twice and ended violent confrontations right there. My ex-PD friends say don’t pull it unless you mean to use it… Maybe… Someday.

I dropped the camera and the gun into my other coat pocket, wound the binocular strap around my hand and walked around the back to where my office is. Joan and I have a deal. I don’t track whatever I have been walking through all day into the house and she won’t divorce me. She was that passionate about it. I emptied my pockets, slipped off my boots I used for the woods, which did, I noticed, have something that could have been mud, bear shit or even dog shit that I could have picked up crossing my own back yard, on them: Joan’s poodle, Mister Tibbles. We’ve agreed to hate each other. I thought about a sniff test, decided to pass, I never could distinguish poodle shit from bear shit anyway, slid on my slippers and walked the shoes to the back door.

Joan called down from the upper level, probably the kitchen. More specifically the bar that was just off the kitchen. My office was on the lower level. You could translate that as basement and you would be correct. I would only add converted basement.

“Yeah… It’s me,” I called back.

“Be careful in the backyard. I took Mister Tibbles out and I couldn’t see where he went.”

That answered that question. “Uh huh,” I answered.

Nothing else floated down to me. I left the landing and walked down to my office. I transferred the pictures off the two cards, then opened my image program as I dialed Melinda’s number. She picked up on the first ring. Her voice low, sexy. It said, “Please buy this property from me, baby.” Sexist, yes, I know. I try not to be. And I felt even worse about being one because of the bad news I was about to give her.

“Mike,” I said.

“Oh… Mike.” She sounded surprised.

I ignored it as I loaded the pictures and searched through them one by one. “Melinda, I have some bad news…. I’ll send you a report on this, but I thought I should call and talk to you just the same… Instead of you reading it in a report.” I searched through the thumbnails as they came up. “I have a few things left to do, but essentially… You were right, Melinda… There’s no easy way to put it, your husband, Paul, is seeing someone.”

I continued flicking through the thumbnails and selected two that might be useful. One shot through the upstairs drapes showed a woman. I ascertained that from the dress she wore. Her face however was turned away from the camera, a blurry blob in shadow.

The second photo showed her hurrying from the cab. Part of her face was obscured by one hand. I would work on both photos and try to get something that Melinda could identify. Melinda stayed silent on the phone.

“I don’t know who the woman is,” I admitted. “She outfoxed me and that doesn’t usually happen. Maybe she was being careful or maybe she’s a little paranoid… I…”

“I know who she is, Mike.”

I stopped. “You do?”

“Yes… I… I had hoped you would identify her though… I wanted to be absolutely sure.” She said sure, but she sounded very unsure.

I transferred the two pictures to some other software, started with the first one from the bedroom shot through the drapes, and selected the areas to work on.

“Mike,” Melinda said even more softly.

“I’m looking over a few photos I shot right now. Trying to get a good, clear face shot,” I told her. She sounded on the verge of tears. Like she was unraveling over the phone. It made me wish I hadn’t addressed it over the phone at all.

The face became clearer pixel by pixel. I have a good machine, it didn’t take long, and I didn’t have to bother with the other photo. “The picture’s coming up, Melinda,” I told her, but my words clogged in my throat as the picture finally came up, and I fell silent myself. She spoke into my silence.

“Mike… I would have told you, Mike… Mike?” She sounded panicked.

“What?” I managed.

“I wasn’t sure… Not completely, Mike.”

“But you hired me to find out? Me? Why didn’t you hire someone else?” A hard ball had settled into the pit of my stomach.

“I… I don’t know… I thought… I thought… I thought you would want to know… Mike… Mike I didn’t really think it through. I was angry… Upset… I wasn’t thinking straight, Mike. I wasn’t.” Now it was her turn to fall silent. I could just barely hear her breathing over the phone in the hardness of the silence.

“I’ll send the retainer back, “ I said at last into the silence. “You… You know maybe this was best… I don’t guess I would have wanted one of my friends to be the guy on this… Finding out. It’s just a little hard to think right now.”

“Sure it is,” She agreed. “I’m so upset.” She sobbed once as if trying to choke it back and then the soft sound of her crying came over the phone.

I was not at the point of tears. I was at the point of anger. That hard place where it’s brand new and you can’t seem to swallow it down. I was there, at that place. It’s a hard goddamn place to be and I realized she had been there too, maybe still was. It was also a dangerous place to be.

“I have to get the hell out of here,” I told her. Twice I had found my eyes locked on the .380 where I had set it on the desktop what seemed like a million years ago.

“Me too… It makes me sick to know it for a fact.” She was still crying, but trying to get herself under control.

It was spur of the moment, but my mouth opened and with no artifice the words tumbled forth.

“I have a cabin… It’s nearly the weekend… Up in Maine… It’s a drive… Isolated… A good place to think.” Silence from the phone. “If you wanted to… Oh hell.”

She laughed a small laugh, followed by sniffles and a few seconds of silence. “I’ll meet you somewhere?” She asked.

“Airport? … You could leave your car in the long term lot… Pick it up Monday or so…”

“Let me get some things together…” She went back to crying for a few moments. “I’ll just… Just leave him a note.” She laughed again, sharply this time. “You know what, I won’t… I’ll be there in… An hour? An hour, Mike?”

I nodded and then realized she couldn’t see that. And so I told her I would meet her there in an hour. I clicked off, slid the phone into my pocket and just sat there for a moment. My eyes dropped back down to the gun and it seemed to hold me hypnotized for a length of time. Like a spell I had to break. I forced myself to look away. I got up and walked away from it. I went up to our bedroom and filled an old suitcase.

I half expected Joan to walk in, see what I was doing and stop me, but she didn’t. I expected her to say something when I came back down the stairs and crossed through the kitchen to the back door, but again she didn’t. If she was sitting there in the gloom of the bar area or had migrated farther into the shadows of the living room, I couldn’t say. She said nothing. Mister Tibbles growled lightly and that was it.

I moved the car, backed my Jeep out of the garage and out into the street. A few minutes later I was cruising the interstate through the darkness, heading for the airport.


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