A free look at Zombie from Dell Sweet…

A free look at Zombie from Dell Sweet…


ZOMBIE

Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.

Cover Art © Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet

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THREE

I flexed my hand and looked around the kitchen in the flickering candle light. Writing about it is bringing it all back, like I’m right back there. Lana’s rifle and two spare clips lay on the table top now. I haven’t needed it yet, but the night is young. Who can tell what it will be like in a few hours from now when the light is entirely gone: When all the dead wake in the old barn across the road. My rifle is also loaded, but I have less ammunition for it and it isn’t worth a damn up close. Lana was a lot smarter about weapons than I was… Much smarter.

It’s so goddamn quiet. I hate that. That quiet. These bastards don’t breath, they don’t trip and fall, they aren’t clumsy… You would never know they are there, never know it at all.  Jesus, I… Never mind. My mind wanders too much. Too goddamned much. I’ll be back…

I took a walk around. Upstairs I can still see a faint line of sunlight on the far horizon. The yard is dark. I can’t hear any more sounds. It’s unnerving. The boards are all in place, everything seems secure. I’m back at the table…

The cramping is gone from my hand. I guess in the digital age we just don’t write much, but when it’s all you got, it’s all you got. The whiskey is holding out. I’m being careful with it, don’t worry, not that it will make a bit of difference…

We had passed a sign and entered into Arizona. We made great time on the open road…

ARIZONA

The country had been turning more arid as they drove, the river was an oasis. Off to the north giant plumes of smoke blanketed the sky, seeming to spread across the entire length of the horizon. They had both wondered what it might be. Lana had checked the map and she though it could be Yellowstone or something close to Yellowstone.

Shops, stores, and even an RV park had sprung up around the interchange. They foraged for food in the late afternoon and gassed up the truck before evening began to take the sunlight. The air had a bitter, hot smell to it, the river flowed sluggishly, the water gray, and a scum of yellow white foam and ash rode the slow current. They sat in the truck and ate quietly while the map lay open across their legs and the seat top. Their eyes would drop to the map and then jump back up to scan the area. It had seemed too quiet, and there were no bodies anywhere. No sign of life either, and the stores and shops had not been looted. Some were still locked up. Empty RV’s in the park when they rolled slowly through it. Neither liked the feeling, the whole place felt wrong.

“Johnny,” Lana waited until his eyes left the map and met her own. He lifted them to follow her own gaze. “The silver building over to the right. The door just opened and then closed.”

Johnny frowned. “Not something the dead would do, is it?”

“We didn’t think they would come out in the daylight,” Lana said.

As Johnny watched he saw the door edge open slightly and then close just as slowly. “Saw it… I don’t like it. Dead or alive they know we’re here and they’re checking us out.” He dropped his eyes back to the map.

“Okay,” he said after a few moments. “Lets get off the road, run a ways out… Follow the highway. That takes us away from civilization to a degree, but eventually that will bring us into Phoenix.” He waited for her to nod her understanding. “There’s a lot of desolation between here and there, at least on the map.”

“Desolation is fine as long as the dead aren’t there.” Lana said quietly.

“Less likely to be,” Johnny agreed.

A few minutes later they were running through the desert that ran alongside I 10. There were not a great many cars or trucks there, but in several places there had been wrecks that closed lanes down. With no one to clear them they would have ended up in the desert anyway. And there seemed to be a dirt road that ran beside I 10 for as far as they could see.

The landscape in the distance had been changing as they drove the day away, but with the sun setting a few hours after they set out once more it was hard to tell what the surrounding countryside was like. Johnny dropped speed and flicked the trucks high beams on. A short while later Lana was sleeping, her head heavy against his arm. He drove through the night and into the early morning before she woke again.

August 14th

Johnny had eased the truck up onto I10 and the tires bouncing over the broken asphalt had awakened Lana.

“Not a big city… A town from the looks of it. Phoenix is close. Ten, fifteen miles maybe. Can’t really tell from the map,” Johnny said. A gas station loomed out of the early morning gray and Johnny wheeled the truck under the roof that covered the pumps intending to siphon some gas to top off the trucks tanks. He shut off the motor and they both listened to the tick of the hot metal for a few seconds as it cooled.

“Coffee would be really nice,” Lana said. “No way do we want to go into Phoenix… Too dangerous.” She yawned and then covered her mouth and laughed. “Mal aliento, dios… Morning breath.” She zipped open her knapsack, retrieved a bottle of water, her toothbrush and some toothpaste. She stepped down from the truck.

Johnny opened his door and settled his feet onto the pavement. It wasn’t just old pavement, he saw, it was gray, washed out, used up: There was no black left in it. Lana stood slightly in front of the truck, her gun in one hand, the toothbrush working around her mouth on its own. In a blur her free hand was reaching to catch the rifle which was just coming free of her shoulder. Johnny had his own rifle off his shoulder and into his hands before he even saw what had alarmed her. She spit out the toothbrush, pulled her gun and flicked the safety off. Three men stepped out of the shadows of the open garage bay.

They were kids, Johnny saw. Or at least not much more than kids. They walked slowly forward.

Lana raised the rifle and pointed it at the lead kid. “That’s it.” She said.

She didn’t scream it, softly spoke it, Johnny thought later, but the kids stopped in their tracks.

“What’s with the fuckin’ guns?” The lead kid asked.

“Ours weren’t aimed at you until you aimed yours at us,” Johnny said. He hoped he sounded as cool as Lana had.

“Bullshit,” one of the other kids said. “You had it in your hands when I looked at you. That’s why I got mine ready.”

“I don’t want to kill anyone today,” Lana said.

“It really don’t bother me,” The third kid said. His eyes were blood shot. They had interrupted him while he was sleeping, it seemed. He kept rubbing at his eyes, Lana saw.

“I think you’re right… Can’t matter if you’re dead,” Lana said.

“Hey,” the lead kid said, “Maybe all’s we want is to party a little.”

“Well I don’t know if Johnny swings that way,” Lana said.

“Pretty funny,” the kid responded. “Look… It’s our town. We ain’t the only ones here. You shoot there will be twenty more here in seconds. Then everybody dies.”

“Oh… I guess I didn’t see it right,” Lana said. “I can see where it might be preferable to get raped and then murdered instead of getting murdered outright.”

The one in the back, the one with the sleepy eyes, stiffed a yawn and reflexively raised one hand to his mouth as his eyes slipped shut for a split second. Lana shot the lead kid in that split second, Johnny had the second guy a moment later. The third kid opened his eyes to a changed situation.

“Just give me a reason,” Lana said. “Any reason.” The kid released the rifle he held and it dropped from his hands to the pavement.

“Can’t shoot me I ain’t got no gun… Can’t… Can’t shoot me…” He spun and looked off toward a rag tag collection of trailers that lined a dirt road in back of the station. “James!” he screamed. “James! Killers!” he turned back to Johnny and Lana. “Can’t shoot me… I ain’t armed… Can’t…” Johnny shot him…



Zombie: Two survivors set out looking for others during the apocalypse

 

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0759TD7XK

 

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Dell-Sweet/dp/1549650246



 

Trucks Stuck in 4 wheel low

Trucks Stuck in 4 wheel low

For you that don’t know, I live in the north, close to Canada, and this year we have seemed to get a lot more snow and cold than usual. Last week I went out to get the truck ready for a run into town. Normally not a big deal, but I had not started it in awhile, a big mistake, yes, and I had not driven it in the snow. My ten minute (My estimate) warm up the truck and get-it-ready-to-go trip turned into a few hours of jumping it, letting it warm up (It was like 2000 degrees below zero) and then getting in the thing to go. Since I don’t drive at all, except around the yard, you know, getting things ready to go, that meant my long suffering mother had to drive the truck into town. And she hates the truck.

I don’t mean to imply she doesn’t like the truck, I mean to imply she hates the truck. HATES the truck. So getting her in it to drive it is a big deal. But I did all I could. Jumped it, warmed it up, opened the door so she wouldn’t have to, after I pulled it right up to the door. The only thing I could’ve done better is park it on the porch.

Mom is slightly over four feet tall, and the truck is four wheel drive, not huge, but is is a step up into the cab. Her last truck was a two wheel drive and didn’t sit much farther off the ground than a car. That, that sitting-off-the-ground-further thing, is strike one against the truck as far as mom is concerned. She wanted to take the tires off her old truck and put them on the new one so it would sit lower. When I explained she couldn’t do that she began to hate the new truck even more. Strike two. The truck was almost out before she ever drove it. And since I steered her towards the new truck I will probably never hear the end of it.

But I pulled the truck up, all warmed up, opened the door for her and offered to help her in. Bad move. Mom does not acknowledge age or shortness. Nevertheless age and shortness do acknowledge her. She doesn’t give in, just ignores it. So she climbed up into the cab, on her own, and off we went… Off we went not too far.

I forgot to mention that while I was moving the truck to bring it up to the door I decided, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to test out the Four Wheel Drive?” … and … “Maybe we will need the Four Wheel Drive on the way into town so I should make sure it works!” I’m pretty sure I used an exclamation mark just like that too. I was that enthusiastic about it. So I turned the little knob on the dash from Two Wheel to Four Wheel Low. Nothing seemed to change. A little light did come on on the dash informing me that Yes, I was now in Four Wheel Low. So I dropped the truck in first and plowed through the two inches of loose powder on the driveway and fought my way out into the wilds of the out back (End of the driveway). I will say this, I never spun a wheel. That Four Wheel Low is phenomenal. So after my off-road adventure I turned the little knob back to Two Wheel drive.

So off we went… In Four Wheel Low. Which meant that the transmission was whining. The Motor racing, and we were doing all of twenty miles an hour. Creeping down the road. So, idiot that I am, I said to mom, “What are you doing?”

“I’m not doing anything,” Mom says. “It’s your stupid truck!” To illustrate this more clearly, in case I had missed something, she goosed the gas to try to make it go faster.

The other thing I forgot to mention is that I like to take a cup of coffee with me. I have a travel cup of course, but I don’t like it. If you close the top on the travel cup the coffee is too hot when it hits your lip. At least it is for me. So I don’t use it. No. I like a regular ceramic coffee cup filled right to the brim with hot, black coffee. This time was no exception, but, thank God, since it was about 2000 degrees below zero outside it had cooled off pretty quick.

Mom goosed the gas, the truck jumped forward, I ended up wearing the coffee. All over me and the floorboards, a little on the dashboard too if I’m honest. That is when I realized, One: It’s not good to be a wise ass with your mom. Two: Hot coffee will go right through waterproof jackets. I guess waterproof does not mean hot coffee proof. And jeans? Ouch.

“Mom,” I said. “Better take it home. Something’s wrong with it.”

“Well,” mom says. “The gas station is just down here. I’ll stop there. Maybe we can fix it.”

Let me explain a little more. Mom grew up on a farm. The phrase ‘Right down there’ could mean ten miles down the road, or the next county over. I was calculating walk back distance to get the car should I have to. But the other thing about mom is that she raised us alone. She’s pretty used to making command decisions, and she doesn’t require a whole lot of input from her idiot son who picked the truck that she hates and is now screwing up her day. I think that’s a fair description, or assessment of the situation.

“Mom,” I said, while I tried to figure out where to put the now empty coffee cup, “I think we should go back.” Down the road she went.

When she reached the gas station she pulled in and right up to the pumps. “May as well get gas while we’re here,” she proclaimed. She shut of the truck, jumped down to the ground (Nearly) and called back, “Twenty” as she went inside.

I got my coffee soaked self out of the cab, pumped in the gas, I’m pretty sure that Twenty Bucks, which got me around Five Gallons, is what my first Muscle car (A 72 Plymouth Duster) I owned growing up used to burn to start it. She came out, apparently having considered my request to turn around, and said, “I guess we should probably take the truck home… Something seems to be wrong with it.”

Rather than say anything else dumb, I just nodded and got back in the truck. She climbed in, turned the switch and all it did was click twice and then nothing. The guy behind me tapped the horn on his truck. ‘#@$%^#,’ I thought. I climbed out of the truck and walked back to the guy.

“Truck’s dead,” I said. “Sorry.”

“@#$#@$,” The guy said.

“Uh huh,” I agreed. “But at least you’re not the one who has to walk three miles to get the car.”

“@@##$%,” the guy said

“You have a nice day too,” I told him.

So after the three mile walk back to the house to get the car, I arrived back at the gas station with my aunt as a driver now, jumped the truck and got it back home.

“I hate this truck,” mom said as she climbed out of the truck once it was home.

“I missed General Hospital,” my aunt told me.

‘@#$!.’ I thought.

I write this today because I went to my Tuesday night group meeting last week, after that happened, and asked a few of the guys there who are mechanically inclined what I did wrong, and lo and behold it’s Tuesday again. So it was on my mind.

Group…

“Oh, it’s the @#$#@@ sensor,” one guy said. “Those #@$%$%$# sensors always do that.”

“Thank you,” I said. I told myself to call a mechanic I knew and have him fix the sensor.

“No, no, no,” another guy said. “Those $#@#$@! sensors are pain in the ##@@#, but it was probably a fuse. Those #@@#$$@# fuses are almost as bad as those %$#@#$ sensors.”

“Uh huh,” I said. “The #@$$@ Fuses or the @##$$@# Sensors. Okay.” I made another mental note. ‘Note To Self: Check #$$#@ Fuses too.’

“Maybe,” another guy said, “But the last time that happened to me it turned out to be the #$$#@ motor on the (I have no idea what he called it).”

“Oh yeah,” The first guy said. “I forgot all about the #$@#@#$ motor on the (Apparently he knew what the thing was called and how to pronounce it).”

“Oh yeah… Forgot all about that,” The second guy said.

“What,” I asked, “No @#%$@#@?”

“Oh, sorry,” He said apparently taking me seriously. “The @#$%$@ motor on the (He knew the word too).”

About this time I realized a few things. First: I could ask all I wanted, it wasn’t going to fix the truck. Everybody had a different idea of what it was. Two: At least I could check those things they suggested or mention them to the mechanic. Three: Guys like to swear.. a lot.

I went home and worried about the truck most of the week. Once it rose to a balmy 12 below zero I went out and spent about four hours messing with the truck. The indicator on the dash said ‘Four Wheel Low’ in tiny red letters. ‘No #@#@#,” I thought. I found the sensor, seemed to be working. I found the fuse, not blown. Hmm, I thought, It just might be the Motor on the (Whatever the word was they used). Then I looked at the switch on the dashboard. Just in passing mind you. I was on the way out of the truck. I had conceded defeat. I flicked it back and forth and noticed it didn’t rest completely at Two Wheel Drive when I flicked it back. Meanwhile I’m running the truck, letting the battery charge, cleaning the coffee off the dashboard too, so I decided what the heck, I’ll look at the owners manual. (That probably gave you pause to laugh. I will only say I am not alone. Most men refuse directions or manuals. We’re too smart for that sort of help). I opened the index, found my problem, turned to the page, and read this,

“YOU MUST DEPRESS THE CLUTCH BEFORE SWITCHING OUT OF OR INTO FOUR WHEEL DRIVE.”

Hmm I thought. I did that… Didn’t I? Maybe… Yes… No… I was conflicted, and since the truck was running I pushed in the clutch, flipped the switch back and forth from Four Wheel Low to Two Wheel drive and … The light blinked out and Two wheel lit up.

“!@@#$%@,” I said aloud. “Sorry, God.” I added. “!#@$!,” I said again. I waited a few minuets to see if the truck would blow up or quit or something. It didn’t. I shifted into first and ran it up the driveway. No whining transmission. No Revving motor, it really was out of Four Wheel Low. I put everything together and went back into the house.

“Well,” Mom asked?

“All fixed,” I said cheerfully.

“Really?” She arched her eyebrows. “I hate that truck.”

“I know, Mom. I know,” I said.

“So what was it,” She asked?”

“Oh… Uh, well it was the @#$#@ Flux Capacitor,” I told her as I hunted around in the fridge for a bottle of juice.

“Really,” She asked? “I saw ‘Back to the Future’. I like Michael J. Fox. He probably never made his mother drive a truck she hates. What was it really?”

“Um… I had to press the clutch down to disengage it,” I admitted.

“I knew it!” Mom said.

“Hmm,” I said.

So tonight is group again. And the guys are gonna ask about the truck. I guess I’ll just admit I didn’t do it right. Or I could blame it on the @@##$$# Motor on the thing I can’t pronounce. I’ll play it by ear I guess…


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