Friday, June 11, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 10e

Who ever was on bell ringing duty was slow to get to the bell as they were just starting to ring the alarm when they rolled in. They were driving two 4 wheel drive trucks that had been modified for back country use. Both had winches up front, were set up higher, and they each had an extra tire on top of the cab in a rack that had to have been made locally as ugly as it was. They had the Brethren symbol painted on the doors of each truck.  Well at least I didn't have to wonder who they were anymore. 

There was two in the front and two in the back.  The back of each truck had sections of steel bolted to the same iron work that held the spare tire.  The one in the lead had "War Wagon for God" painted on the steel. The other one had "Jesus Rulez!" At some point the paint job on each had been altered using spray and brown exterior paint to give them a camo exterior.  Each one had collected a few bullet holes in the body somewhere. Probably from accidental firearm discharges.They pulled in facing us. I could see the driver of the lead vehicle grinning at me through the cracked windshield.  They dismounted leaving one guy in the back of each vehicle.

They looked like I expected. They looked competent at small town bullying and civilian raping.  I knew what they were here for. Trouble.  Plus I liked the trucks.  The old man had gotten up out of his chair and I joined him while I edged off from him by about four paces.  People like to bunch up for this kind of thing. They did it instinctively. If we ended up having to fight with shields it would come in handy.  Until then it was stupid.

The dogs had woken up and were starting to sit or stand up to see what the excitement was.  I told the old man "Go open the door so the dog can get out but keep the kid inside. I'll talk to them until you get back." Instead he yelled "Open the door Iris and let the dog out but keep the boy in!" I looked over at him, he grinned and told me "Fuck that. I'm not going anywhere."

I was still laughing as they formed up in front of the trucks. Four of them in front, each one standing about a half of a pace apart. Two more hung back by the cab. They had left the doors open. The other two up in the bed had scoped rifles they were using to  look towards the houses on the hill. I revised my opinion of them a notch upwards. 

The leader said "Hey Captain. You know..." He didn't get to finish his sentence because I was walking towards them grinning and yelling back "Praise the Lord! Did you get the message.." By then I was within three feet of them.  I drew both guns and shot the two on the ends in the face. I stepped forward. As I did I whipped both guns in, crossing my arms as I did, then I turned my wrists so they were sideways and snapped my arms out  in a sweeping arc. The arc was interrupted by the side of their heads. As I did that I cocked them again.

Simultaneously out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur leap past me on to the hood of the truck to my left. I heard nails scratching camo paint and then Woof was over the cab and someone was screaming. I shot at the other backup in the bed of the other truck as I shot at the one who was hanging by the open door on my side. Both shots missed with the Colt ball ricocheting off the window of the truck. The old man had cut loose with his shotgun and had blown away the guy on the other door. Then he was down, in the background the sound of the dogs was insane as they roared their desire to get a piece of what was happening.  

Someone was firing single aimed shots from the hillside, at least I hoped they were aimed, and two more people were running down the hill towards us. Someone else was firing from the woods to my right. Then it was over. It wasn't silent. Woof was growling and it sounded like he was ripping his kills arms off inside the bed.  Hopefully the guy was dead by now.  The two I had face smashed were moaning. One went for his weapon. That ended any pain he was feeling. The other one was mumbling something that sounded like "I surrender."  I shot him too.

The young man, Cameron I think his name was and the old lady were kneeling by the old man. Both of them were crying.  I looked back. Zane was standing in the doorway with his rifle on his shoulder. I noticed a couple cartridges on the ground by him. He looked at me, and I said "Clear." He dropped the rifle from his shoulder a little bit.  Not much.  "Clear" wasn't the same as "Over." The dogs were all over the downers except for the Captain.  The people from the hill had made it to us and were looking at the wreckage, the dogs, and me with horrified looks on their faces.

I was looking at the trucks.  With a little luck one of them still ran and that was all I needed. More people were coming out of the woods around us. I looked at them, back at the trucks, and realized I had the makings for my very own mini-Horde.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 10d

I settled into one of the well worn chairs they had in front of the store underneath the overhang.  He looked at Zane who was standing there unsure if he was supposed to sit down or not. The door leading inside opened, a young guy, white, in his twenties, and carrying a sawed off pump shotgun stepped out. He looked at me, the kid, then the dogs, who with the exception of Woof had laid down and were watching us with their tongues hanging out. He shook his head, and said "You okay Grandpa?"

"I'm fine Cameron. Take the boy inside and give him something to eat. See if we got a bowl we can put some water in to give these dogs a drink.

"Sure Grandpa." Zane looked at me and I nodded that it was okay. Cameron stepped back to let Zane though and Woof was right behind him. "Whoa dog. Not you." He started to step in between Zane and Woof. Woof didn't like that. I heard him growl and watched as his lips curled back. Everybody froze for a second until the old man waved his hand and said "Fine. Let the boy bring his dog with him."  Cameron looked a little dubious but he gave Woof as much room as he could so he could through after Zane.

We watched the door shut behind them. The old man kind of smiled, then said "That may be the biggest German Shepherd I have ever seen. He got some wolf in him?"  I laughed, I had gotten a flash mental picture of all the people Woof had probably eaten and answered "He's got a lot of bloodlines in him."

The old man considered that for a minute and decided to let it go.  He reached out and we shook hands. That felt very strange.  He told me "They call me the Captain because I was a Navy Captain once upon a time." He pointed at his ball cap. The faded yellow said "ONI" and had a government seal.  My specialty was the USSR. Like I said. I've been out for awhile." Then he stared at me. It took me a couple beats to realize what he wanted. I told him "My names Gardener." If I remembered right I was supposed to tell him my occupation. "I'm a Major in the Freya Brigade."  I thought it sounded good. You know, it was military sounding an everything. He didn't looked impressed. Instead he replied "You don't say."  I shrugged.

"So tell me what you've seen." He yelled out "Can we get some ice tea out here! Sorry, I am forgetting my manners."  So I told him a version of what we had seen and where we had been.  He knew about the Brethren and he made it clear he didn't like them.  He wasn't a big fan of the Colonel either. "Traitors. That's all they are. Traitors." He made it sound uglier and more obscene then all the curse words I could think of.

An old lady, about his age, came out and handed us each a glass of mint tea. It was unsweetened but a welcome change from what I usually drank. There was also a piece of bread to go with it. I couldn't help but make a face when I bit into it. The old man laughed, then said "Yeah, I know. Mostly acorns and what not. Takes some getting used to." I agreed with him but I ate it anyway. He listened to my story, nodded most of the time, asked a couple of questions, and generally was a very good listener.  The lady came out near the end to refill our glasses and told me "The boy is asleep inside on the floor. I wanted to wake him and move him somewhere more comfortable but his dog wasn't having any of it."

I told her "That's fine. Thank you." She didn't say anything. I think she expected me to go inside and move the kid. He was fine where he was.

I was interested in what the old man had to say. Mostly how they managed to survive. I told him "Okay. Your turn."

He laughed. Then he told me "I would like to hear the version you just told me with all the stuff I know you left out."  He held up his hand and said "I know. Not a problem.  What interests me more is the Balkanization and the politics going on here. You didn't see much of the government did you?"  I had already told him that I hadn't but I told him again. The part about the police battalion had interested him. It interested him a lot.

"We survived because I knew something bad was coming. Look around you. Everyone here is related one way or another.  We dropped trees in two different places and in between did our best to tear up the road. We did that on both sides of us. Then we hunkered down.  We took some people in and we shot a few. We were lucky. Most people couldn't or didn't want to walk far.  That's why I was surprised to see you. Not many, even now, walk the woods.  Now we got the Brethren and the Colonel sniffing around.  He was getting ready to say something when I heard them. Truck engines. I held my hand up to silence him. Yep. They were coming quick too. "You got company coming" I told him. He couldn't hear it yet. "You got two trucks coming down the road from the north. Moving fast too." He looked at me and his eyes narrowed. I knew what he was thinking so I told him "Nope. Not mine."  Then he heard them.

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 10c

We came out of the woods and stopped at a little village that straddled a secondary road that led in the right direction. It had a country store and gas station. A building that had once sold antiques, and a couple houses, only one of which was manufactured. I could see a few more houses on the side of the hill and another trailer hidden mostly by trees and bushes behind them.

The hill itself had a large garden that was fenced in with a mix of materials. I stopped for two reasons. The store had a hand lettered sign up saying "Fresh Vegitables." The other reason was they had the American flag flying. Not the American flag with some other flag flying with it. Nor was it a hand sewn flag invented by some Prophet as a sign to passerby's that they had entered another world. No. It was the real deal hanging on the pole and occasionally unfurling a bit in the breeze.  I was surprised by how moved I was by seeing it.  Of course everyone in town could be insane goat fuckers but it was a good sign.

I took the dogs with us. The kid showed promise but I would rather have Woof at my back. Especially after we were spotted and a bell started ringing.  So they were organized too. That was even better. Organization was a sign of brains and people giving a damn. People like that were usually easier to talk to I had found.   I mentally mapped the activity by sound and movement. Woof helped too. He was looking around and sniffing the breeze. If he stared at a point in the woods or up the hill and I hadn't registered anything I would take another look at it. Woof was always right.

I slowed down a bit to let them finish. I was pretty sure we had taken them by surprise. About the time we were about twenty paces from the gas pumps the window closer to the back of the store slid open. They let that register with me and then an old man stepped out the front door.  He was clean shaven and had an old ball cap on with yellow braid and a design of a ship on the front on his head. He was wearing faded khakis and his shoes were polished. I was impressed. He may have been the best old school dressed man I had seen in months.

I stopped and said "How ya doing. I'm interested in the vegetables and whatever else you might have."

He studied me. I studied him. After a handful of beats he said "That so."

"Damn" I thought "Everyone has to do laconic." So I replied "Yep" and waited for the next two word sentence. I was wrong. Maybe he had some coffee earlier. I got four words "Where you coming from?"

"The woods" was my reply.  He looked at me like I was being a smart ass." I knew that look. I used to get it all the time a few years back.

I waited. If it was going to go down hill it would start in the minute. Instead I got "C'mon and sit down and talk a bit first. I always like hearing news from travelers.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 10b

We moved fast and I pushed the kid to his limit and maybe a bit beyond. We didn't talk much. I didn't want to. My thinking was "Why get attached?" He was going to be history within days of us getting back. Banished into the wilderness. 

We did some scavenging in houses as we came across them. Only the ones I felt okay about. I didn't want to deal with people even though I knew we were going to have too eventually. If for no other reason than we needed food and news.   I skipped one house that looked good and was empty. No real reason other than I didn't like it. Zane didn't have a problem with it either. I think he felt it too.  Some ugly shit had happened in the world and some places still held the echoes of what had happened.

We stumbled across corpses or groups of live people in the strangest of places. We would walk fire roads or whatever roads at times. I called them "Whatever" roads because I had no clue why they were there. They just were. Ruts most of the time was all they were. Maybe made by hunters, maybe by locals. They were just there. The corpses would show up off to the side of one of these roads. Never more than four or five except for the usual exception.

Most of them were just robbed and killed.  A few we found stacked in piles around fire pits. The exception was over twenty men, women, and children we found in a pit. They had been executed.  I was positive they were Hispanic. The hair was the tipoff. They might have been Asian but I doubted it.  A few of the females still had rosaries clutched in their hands. 

The live people we went around. Usually as widely as I could. I really doubted that they would welcome strangers with anything other than a bullet. If they didn't, it would because they needed time for the water to boil.  Twice they tried to track us. They were good but not good enough. Woof and his friends probably considered them their version of pizza delivery. Hot, fresh, and they didn't have to do anything other than wait for it to come to them.  I heard a gunshot one night when I knew we were being followed. The next day we were short one of the dogs. It was the mutt. No big deal as far as I or as best as I could tell to the others. Hell, the dogs probably ate him too.

Woof hung around the boy a lot. They got along pretty good. By the second night Woof was sleeping, when he wasn't out hunting, next to the kid. I was sort of jealous but I knew Woof was doing what he thought he was supposed to do.  The kid would sit with him in the evening and go through his fur looking for ticks and whatever else he could find matted in his hair. Sometimes he would have what he thought were barely audible conversations with Woof.  Mostly they were stories of what he had seen or about his family. I learned a lot, and sometimes I tried real hard not to listen.

We had made the turn back towards the way the Horde had gone on the forth day. I was ready to start looking for a place to stop. I was also looking for a vehicle or a couple bicycles. I was wishing we had Thursday's truck, maybe minus him. I regretted never getting to try the hammer. It was somewhat lame of him to blow us off like that. If I ever did run across him he was going to pay for that.  Then I would give his hammer a new home. Then again, if he was who I thought he was, I might wait until I talked to Freya first.  I had read a few Thor comic books as a kid so I knew he might be a challenge. The sword, and the arc light on contact with the truck told me that.

Zane asked me on our third day why Thursday had left us. I was surprised he waited that long. Then again he was like me that way. People came and went. Nobody ever explained it to you. It was just the way it was. We sitting near a small spring I had found when he said "Why did that man leave us?"

"I'm not sure. I think we were not his kind of people."

He made a kid scrunchy face and said "Huh?" Sometimes it was like I was with a midget adult. Other times he was just a kid. Those times were rare.

So I told him "Well, as best as I can figure he doesn't like the side I'm on. I think he is some kind of...god." I held up my hand to cut the kid off. I had a feeling if I didn't I would spend hours answering questions and I wanted to be moving soon.  "It's like this. The Colonel has his followers right?" He nodded his head. "Well this guy, the old man, he is trying to find his own followers.  I already have a couple leaders I'm following. So I was useless to him."

He thought about this. I could see it made sense to him... almost.  "So who is our leaders? Max?"

"Yeah kid. He is one. Then we got Night. She is my wife sort of. We also got this girl named Freya. She is from the same group that Thursday came from. They all have special powers."

"Like Jesus? Or like Transformers?" he asked.

That stumped me. "I think kind of in between. Except Thursday wants to hurt people more than he wants to protect them."

"Is Freya good?"

I looked at him "Is anyone really?"

He thought about that for a bit then shook his head sadly. He knew.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 10a

The kid woke up a lot calmer than I did but then he wasn't sleeping on watch or breathing in fresh Woof breath. He was a little bit wide-eyed. Woof's friends who were sitting,  laying, and in one case, licking himself, would do that to most people. Especially to a kid that weighed, maybe, as much as the scrawniest dog there. I looked over at Zane and said "Don't worry. They're on our side for now."  I pushed Woof aside, got up, stretched, and checked where the sun was. We had a couple of hours to go before sunset.  Woof was sniffing the kid who much to my surprise reached up and scratched Woof behind the ear. I heard him whisper "Hey doggie." Woof liked that. I knew that because his tail wagged. 

We moved fast without stopping. I ran us back the way we had come but I planned on looping down towards Kentucky and then back up. Too many people had been stirred up to go back the same way.  We were going to have to find us some more water soon too. Fortunately it wasn't that scarce.  Filtering it was going to take some time. It must have been nice to be able to drink from a stream without having to worry about spending the rest of your life sitting in the woods shitting your insides out. I wanted to find a spring. I also wanted a lot of things but I would take what I could get and like it.  Supposedly once upon a time that had been a joke. I never got what was funny about it. It seemed to sum up life for most everyone I knew.

We made camp on the opposite side of a hill with the road about  a mile or more on the other side of that.  I decided to go light on dinner. We had eaten pretty good that day. Better than I know I was used too. We settled in. I didn't know what to do about watches since their was only me. I was glad no one else had witnessed my falling asleep on the job.   We had the dogs so I was going to use them as watch standers. I knew they would run off to hunt though. I just hoped they stayed close.  Regardless, I was going to be up before dawn.

I split my plastic tarp that I slept on with the kid and unzipped my sleeping for us both to lie down on. It was still warm enough that we should be okay. I made a mental note about looking for midget clothes for him. We might find some in an abandoned house. Kid clothes were usually left behind when people ransacked houses. They weren't in a lot of demand during peak looting.

I settled in with the kid next to me. He had been very quiet all day so I was surprised when he started talking to me.

" still awake?"

"Kid. I just laid down."

"Oh. Sorry."

"I should have expected this" I thought. He had been through some strange shit today. Of course he would have questions." So I told him "What's on your mind?"

He waited instead of answering right away. I knew he was framing what he wanted to ask in his head the right way. After a couple of minutes he said "I knew someone would come." He paused, the said slowly, "I thought Max would come too."

I listened to that and thought "Damn kid. Couldn't you have asked about Hammerhead or that weird lightning?  Hell, we could talked about you racking Lowell's nuts but no..." So I told him "He wanted to come but he is busy being a leader and what not.  So I got the job."

"Is my Mom okay?"  This I could handle "Yep. She is waiting with the rest for you to come back."

"Where is that?"  He asked.

"I don't know kid. Hopefully we can catch up with them soon." I didn't bother to tell him about the clock ticking in the background.He didn't need to know.  There was silence for a bit. I was just starting to drift off when he said "My Mom told me about you and Max." Yeah. That brought me back to the land of the listening. I waited. He didn't follow up, so I asked "What did she say?" I thought I sounded casual.  She said "Max was like a blade. By the time you knew he was there it was too late.  She said you were a bomb. You went around perfectly fine until you went off, then there was nobody left alive around you. Is that true?"

I mentally discarded about five answers before I went with "Max is a good man to have around. You couldn't do any better" and left it at that.

He thought about it and I started drifting off again when he said "My Mom said my Dad, not my real one, fought like a lion. He was there when we needed him."

I told him "Go to sleep" and I pretended not to hear him crying.

Monday, June 7, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 10

We had to fade and freeze a few times. The kid, for being so young, moved well.  He also didn't try talking to me which was good. Even more surprising he understood basic hand signs. Maybe two hours later we were back to where we had dropped the dogs.  We could of been there quicker but I took a roundabout path to get there and approached from the other side. Instead of going to the exact spot I stopped about 500 yards from it and settled down behind a downed tree.  I told the kid I would watch for a bit. Of course he told me he wasn't tired and then went to sleep about three minutes later.

I looked at him as he slept and saw the parts of Carol in him. His skin was her color, ivory pale, but it tanned easy instead of burned.  The hair was brown with streaks of gold like hers. He had Max's face. The eyes were all Max too.  Not a bad combination if he hadn't been too damaged along the way. Then I fell asleep. It was one of those dreams that were totally life like, in color, and I could feel every emotion at twice the power of what I would feel awake.

I was back in time, another world ago, high school. I was looking for Carol. It was the day of graduation practice and I knew I had to find her and talk to her or I would never see her again. The thought of that almost made me sick. I kept running into people who wanted to talk but I either brushed them off or asked them if they had seen her. A couple of girls laughed and told me where they had seen her last but she wasn't there. I would run up to groups of people, search each ones face for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Even her the group she should have been in -- she wasn't. She was gone. Gone for ever. I wandered away, found a private place, and I sat there and cried and cried.

In the dream it seemed like I cried for ever but at some point a hot wind began to blow into my face. My tears stopped, then dried up. In my dream I realized the breeze had changed. It stunk now of rotten meat and drops of rain were falling on my face.. I woke up with a start, my brain shrieking "Oh my god! I fell a sleep on watch!" Jeebus, the adrenaline kicked in then. It didn't help that I bolted straight up and bumped noses with Woof who standing over me. He had a wet nose too. I told him "Jeebus Woof...get off me." and wiped the drool he had dropped on my face off with my hand. I was going need to wash my face. Woof's saliva smelt like his breath. Foul.

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9h

I told the kid "Get in the truck." While he did that I walked over to where Thursday was finishing up. As I watched, I told him "We need to move soonest." He replied "Who's we Freya Warrior?" Then he yelled at Zane "Get out of my truck!"  With that he dropped the body, which looked more than a little shriveled,  jerked open the truck door, and tossed his hammer inside. He settled himself  behind the wheel, rested his elbow on the window jam, and told me "I'll make this quick. You got your head up your ass as far as your priorities. You got the killing down but you suck at the rest. You are sworn to Freya. I could work around that but you carry the Sword." He looked at me, sighed, I guess he saw I wasn't getting it "Damn, if you aren't one of the dimmer candles in the beer hall." Then he turned the key, yelled "You got 20 seconds!" put it in gear, and was gone.

I spent two precious seconds processing his remarks and the rapidly disappearing back end of his truck. It didn't help that his exhaust pipe was glowing a deep red, almost like an eye, which I thought was rather cool. Then it clicked. I yelled "Run!" and took off for the end of the street. I heard the kid behind me and hoped he kept up because we were going to cut this one close.  I cut around the corner, saw a house with a yard and headed for the overgrown bushes besides it. The kid turned the corner just in time. A second slower and they would have seen him. I heard  vehicles stopping where the bodies lay and a truck went hauling ass down the street we just cleared in the same direction as Thursday had gone. I thought "Good luck catching that asshole." Anyone who fueled their truck on unheaded and whose exhaust glowed like a dragons eye was not going to be caught by someone driving a Ford.

The kid slid into the bushes. Thank god they weren't holly or something equally obnoxious. "You up to doing some serious running?" I asked him. He whispered "Yes sir."

"You like dogs?"

He looked at me like it was a perfectly normal question to ask when you hiding in a clump of weeds and bushes and replied "Sure. Who doesn't."

"Good." I told him. I  unslung the 30-30, asked him "Ready?" I waited for his nod. Stuck my head up and looked around, and said "Go!"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9g

We came to halt and stood there looking at the bodies.  I looked up and down the street and saw nothing. I didn't expect it to last long.  I checked the window. No kid in sight which hopefully meant he was hauling ass towards us.  I told Thursday "You got two kills. You want to strip them?"

"No. I want you cut off this ones head."  He walked about twenty paces past the truck where the first soldier he had hit landed, grabbed him by his boots, and dragged him back to the truck.  While he did that I stripped the other downers and tossed their gear in the back of the truck.  I noticed they were wearing crappy quality vests and their boots had seen better days. I thought "Supplies running a little thin or second rate troops?" I filed it away. Night loved knowing this stuff.

The kid had come pounding up and was grinning until he saw the bodies.  I put the grin back on his face by telling him "Nice shooting Zane."  Thursday had pulled the soldiers helmet off and positioned horizontal to the truck with his head, shoulders, and arms hanging over the side and into the bed. He told me "Okay. Ready when you are." He opened the gas tank and was standing there grinning at me. There was a bit of a challenge in that grin too. I thought "Okay. So you want to see hard core? Fine." I reached back over my shoulder, drew the sword, and stepped forward at an angle to the right of the body. Doing it I had to tell Thursday "Move. You're in my way." He was standing there staring bugeyed at my blade.  I swung the blade down, yelled "Freya!" and whipped it back up, pivoted, and brought it down hard.

As I did Thursday yelled "No" and moved towards me, his hand reaching out as if to grab my arm and stop my swing. He wasn't fast enough. The blade gleamed brightly as it went slicing through the air. I remember thinking "He's going to be pissed when he sees the gash my beauty puts in the side of his truck." I had put everything I had in it and it felt right and true on the down swing. It sliced cleanly, even though the angle was off and I knew I was going to cut through collarbone too. It cut like it always cut flesh, like nothing in the world would ever stop it. Then it bit into his truck and my world exploded.

I came to with Zane kneeling next to me. His face floating above me, vaguely seen between the blue white after images that danced through my vision, leftovers from the arc torch brightness I had just seen. He asked me, actually sounding worried "You okay?"

I still held the sword in my left hand I could feel the grip glowing, it was a nice warm heat in my hand.  I told him "Yeah. I'm fine." and got to my feet feeling more than a little off balance.  Thursday had the neck of the soldier whose head I cut off jammed into his gas tank opening.  He was muttering and seemed extremely pissed about something. I looked at the sword, it looked fine, and I sheathed it.  Zane whispered to me "What is he doing?"

I replied "Filling it up with unheaded kid."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9f

I was really hoping the kid wouldn't need to shoot. He was up there for a reason. To keep him safe. Not to be a sniper. If we died they would probably find him and send him back to boarding school. It would suck to be him but he would live. I put him out of my head and focused. Just before we turned the corner I looked over at Thursday. He had picked the same time to check on me. Our eyes met and we both grinned. So far he had been a bit of an asshole at times but he loved this shit as much as I did.

I whipped a little Freya talk on him for the hell of it. I growled "Doda dem alla" I had been in a growling mood today. I kind of liked it. I was going to do more of it. I thought it fit the occasion much more than soldier talk. What I didn't expect was his reaction to it. He yelled it back at me and took off running while he yelling it  over and over loudly. Very loudly. Amazingly loud. I thought "Fuck! You idiot!" Then I drew both guns and followed him thinking "I really hope the Colts powder stayed dry during the rain."

He was fast for an old man. I had to open it up to stay a couple steps behind him. He was still yelling as he turned the corner. Yelling always made me feel good in these kind of situations too so I joined in adding "Freya!" at the end. I swung out a bit to his left to give me room to work and lost a couple steps on him doing it.  They were still where they had been we looked at them from the window. Their positions had only changed by a couple of steps.

They had frozen in place when Hammerhead rounded the corner yelling but these laddies weren't going to run or panic like the last had. Weapons were going to their shoulders and I was still at least 75 yards away but closing fast. This was going to be tricky. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Thursday throw his hammer. I remember thinking "One shot and he wasted it" and I started pulling triggers. At a full run, off the hip, all I could hope for was spoiling their aim. While I shot I watched that hammer fly. It didn't twirl like a tomahawk. It just sailed on a laser beam straight line, head first into the chest of the soldier boy who was getting ready to shoot Thursday. He went backward like he had been hit by a bus.

The guy next to the one who ate the hammer, I was closer now, it was a woman, shot a three round burst at Thursday, while the third one tried to kill me. He shot high. I had missed too but I was closing the distance. Then the hammer Thursday had thrown went sailing back to him like some kind of bizarre high speed replay.

I hadn't heard it but the kid must of cracked the window open because my guys throat exploded in a burst of red spray. The woman soldier was staying calm, she sent another burst towards Thursday and then she spun awkwardly to the side. The kid had hit her but he hadn't put her down. The hammer that hit her did. Even that was an awkward hit because of the fact she was falling, and off balance.  I heard bones crunch, saw the grimace of pain, and she was gone, tumbling gracelessly backwards.

I kept running towards them holstering my weapons. I was going to switch to the 30-30 I had slung on my back which as usual I had forgotten about. Plus I didn't like what the flying hammer had told me. I had an idea of who I was dealing with now. Another pain in the ass left over from another time wannabe god who spoke a language that no one else did and wanted to be treated like he was somebody still. Well, I liked the hammer. Maybe he had a spare he didn't need.

Friday, June 4, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9e

I heard Thursday clumping along behind me. That man walked heavy. Maybe it was carrying the hammer or maybe he had rocks in his boots. Whatever. I knew I would never take him on a job that required stealth. Door opening? Yes. Sneaking up on anyone ? No. I wasn't worried, at least at the moment, of him dropping that chunk of metal on my head. I didn't sense any animosity towards me now. Probably because he was looking forward to hammering the soldier boys.

I paused at the door and told Thursday "Okay. What I want to do is walk towards them. When they spot us I want us to smile and wave. Got it?"

"Trickery. Sure. I got it" was his reply.  I yelled up the stairs "Hey kid!"


"When we get in that truck you best come running down them stairs."

He yelled back, his voice as high pitched as a girls "Got it!"

I pulled the door open enough for me to squeeze out, looked around, the street was quiet, and told Thursday "Okay."  I waited until he slipped out and propped it back up.  Then we started walking.

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9d

We looked out and saw that someone had been smart. They had posted three guys as sentries and they looked miserable. Nothing like standing around guarding a pickup while lightening strikes struck around you and rain poured down on you. Plus they had to have heard gunfire.  So yeah, they were miserable and jumpy. So I was going to have to be subtle. Maybe even think up some tactics or a plan.

Thursday was growling and muttering to himself.  What, I didn't know because it was in another language. He sounded a lot like Freya. We were really going to have to talk later.

I called the kid over and told him "See them people standing around that truck?"

"The one with the weird shiny sheep heads on the front"?

"They're goats!" Thursday told him.

"Yeah those." I told him. Now was not the time to squabble about fucking hood ornaments.

"That's my truck!" Thursday added.

I so wanted right then to lay the Ruger upside his head. Zane told him "Nice truck!"  Thursday grinned and told him "You betcha!"

"Both of you shut the fuck up about the fucking truck." I didn't yell. I didn't raise my voice. In fact I said it very quietly. They looked at me and shut up.

"Heres the plan. Zane. I want you to stand here and watch them. If they look like they are going to shoot us then shoot them. Me and Thursday are going to go down and talk to them."

"Talk to them?" Thursday asked incredulously.

"Okay. We're going to get close and kill them." I told him.

"Okay. Thats a good plan." Thursday told me. I really wanted to reply "Thanks for your fucking approval hammerhead" but we were trying to stay focused here.  Then Zane asked "How do I shoot them if the window is in the way?"  I took a deep breath, and growled at him "You shoot through the fucking window."  Then I started heading down the stairs before I lost it. Damn, I missed Ninja at times like this. Him and Max. If I had them I would have been halfway back to Night by now."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9d

It also had been ransacked at some point. This had been a row house originally and this room had been the kitchen and dining room area. Someone had spent some money on moving walls an updating it into a nice break room. I wouldn't be surprised to find an apartment upstairs.  Someone had a dream. An upscale art and glass boutique maybe. They could live the small town dream, make some money, and never have to commute again.  Or maybe they sold sex toys. I would never know and I needed to focus on today.

"Hey Hammerhead." I was still irritated with Thursday. He should have known to clear the next room. Hell, the kid would have.

"What?" He turned to look at me. I wasn't sure if the "What?" was for the name or he was just responding.

I told him "Always check the rooms if you go in first. You never know who might be waiting."

He just stared at me. Actually glared would be more accurate.

"What." I told him flatly. "You got a problem?"

We locked eyes. If he so much as twitched an arm I was going to drill him. Fuck the noise it would make. He broke contact first, looked away, and mumbled something. I let it go. For now.

"Okay. Up the stairs. Lets see if anyone is watching your truck." I let him go first. That didn't go unnoticed by him. His smirk didn't go unnoticed by me either. I was right. They had lived above the shop. We did a quick tour of the rooms. Someone had tried to set the mattress on fire in the master bedroom. The other bedroom was a kids room. Someone had painted a unicorn on one wall. They had done a good job too. The unicorn was the only thing that interested Thursday in the place so far. He stood and stared at it until I told him from the door "We can see the truck from the window at the end of the hallway."

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9c

I had us headed towards the truck.  We needed it, or something like it, to get the hell out of here as fast as possible. I had a feeling that once who was ever in charge here got their act together they would be extremely interested in finding us.  I hoped to be forty miles down the road by then.  I figured that if I was in charge I would have staked out the truck just in case.  I was hoping that if they did that it wouldn't be local soldier boys in Humvees with machine guns. I doubt if they had anything heavier. At least I hoped so.  Even worse would be air support. I mentally shrugged and thought "In that case we are fucked."

The street we were on led to the corner of the block the truck was on.  If the truck was still there it would be about a half a block down on the right. I slowed the pace and started looking at what we were running past. It was a mix of storefronts, row houses, and the occasional nicer house set  a bit further back from the sidewalk.  I stopped in front of a two story storefront that looked empty. I waited for Thursday an asked him "Can you open that front door with that hammer of yours?"  He just grinned, walked over to it and swung. I thought he would whack it by the lock and we would have to push it in. Nope. He took the entire door down. I really liked that hammer.

I motioned for him to go in and waited for the kid. He was good. When we stopped he had plastered himself against the wall about nine feet away, crouched down, and was covering us.  I didn't have to say anything to him. He saw Thursday go in, and he was up and moving towards me and the door. Lowell may have been an asshole but the school looked like it hadn't been a complete waste for the kid.  He slipped past me and I followed him in. I grabbed the door and tried to fit it back into place as best as I could. "No use attracting attention" I thought.

Thursday was wandering around the room. There wasn't much to look at. Some shelving, a counter that had once held a POS terminal, and a woman's white shoe lying on the floor beside it.  I told them "Kid, watch that door. Me and Thursday are going upstairs and see if his truck is still there."  Thursday growled "They better not have touched my truck."  I ignored him and passed through doorway in the back looking for stairs. The doorway still had curtains hanging inside the frame to block the view into the next room.  Thursday should have cleared this room already. He hadn't, and I went into it with guns drawn. It was clear.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

American Apocalypse II - Refuge is out in Kindle on Amazon

The paper version should be out very soon.

I used the badge for the Kindle and the house for the paper.

Thank you Chile for the editing.

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9b

We ran until we found another street to cross over on. I stopped at a corner. I sorely missed getting Freya's magic bird view at times like this. Thursday was almost right behind me. I was going to have to slow it down. The kid was game but his legs were too short. Lightening strikes were hitting all over town and I smelled smoke. Something was burning nearby. It was hard to tell where. From the smell it was wood. Whether it was a house or a tree I had no idea. I didn't really care either. What was bothering me was running down the road with all this iron attached to me. I felt like a freaking lightening rod waiting to get lit up. Especially as the strikes were not all that far away. Then it began to rain. Hard.

I looked the kid and asked him "You alright?

He told me "I'm fine. Shouldn't we be moving?"

Thursday joined in with "Yeah. Shouldn't we be plundering too? Maybe setting fire to houses and seeing if any women folk run out?"

I wasn't sure who I wanted to smack upside the head more. Instead I told the kid "Shut up."  I told Thursday "Not today" and I started running again.  The rain was heavy enough that I figured as long as it kept pouring we might get out of town without anymore problems. I felt better in the woods. In town if we got cornered they would eventually wear us down or burn us out. Of course the rain and lightening stopped almost instantly once we got moving again. I just kept jogging and thought "Shit never goes right. Never." The thought kind of made me happy. I was used to that.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9a

We were crouched there in the kitchen when someone shot a short three round burst through the door I planned on going through. I thought about sending Thursday through the door first as a bullet sponge then I laughed. Hell, that's why I got paid the big bucks. I was getting ready to tell Thursday to lay flat on the floor with the boy when he signaled me to look at the opposite wall. I looked. I saw a wall. So?  He pointed at me and the kid to cover our eyes. I don't know what the boy did but I peaked. Thursday reared back and tossed his hammer at the wall he had pointed at. The wall blew out like it had been hit by a cannon. I was impressed. I grabbed the kid by the collar and raced towards the hole making a mental note to myself to get a hammer like that. Maybe two.

The world we found as we ran out of the diner wasn't the same one that had been there when we had stopped by for lunch.  I had never been in the eye of a tornado but this was what I would expect it to look like. The sun was gone. The wind howled somewhere not far off and the clouds were black, fat and low. I doubt if we had more than a 100 yard ceiling at this point. The temperature had dropped too. It felt good. It felt right. It felt like killing time.

Nobody was outside, at least on this side. We had had come out into a parking lot. To my right was an alley that the backdoor of the kitchen opened on. I had two choices: Move away from the enemy who was around the corner or engage. I let go of Zanes collar by shoving him hard into the asphalt of the parking lot, pulled my sword, and screamed "Freya!" without breaking stride.

On my left was Thursday. I took a quick look at him just before we turned the diner corner. His face was red, veins stood out like snakes on his neck, he screamed something I lost in the wind and roar of my fury and desire to cut some fucking heads off. There were four of them. They looked at us and freaked. That was a mistake. A fatal one. We ran into them like a pair of wolves ripping into a flock of sheep. Their only advantage was distance. We were breathing in their faces before they could get their act together. I didn't break stride. I hit the one to my right using the sword as a lance. It hit him dead center and ripped through every thing he was wearing, his guts and then punched its way out the back just below his shoulder blades. I forgot to shoot the guy on my left. Instead I slashed at his face as I went past with the barrel of the Ruger. It wasn't a clean hit. He was wearing a helmet and he took it half on it and half in his face. I did get the pleasure of seeing his nose explode.

I was past my two, trying to slow down and spin around so I could come back for more. It took me all of a second at most but I was too late. I got turned around in time to see Thursday shatter the soldier I had just run past helmet and his brains inside it. At his feet were three soldier boys who wouldn't be getting an open coffin send off to the next world. Their heads were nothing but seedless watermelon.

The kid came bolting around the corner. I noticed his knees were bleeding through his pants and one knee was torn. Asphalt is unforgiving but so was the world we were in. He didn't pause to gawk or talk. He grabbed a rifle off the ground and pulled the watermelon heads spare magazine in about three blinks of an eye. Which was good because we were running again.

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 9

Thursday raised his hammer. The officer looked at him, grinned, and said "This ain't a body shop old man. Put it down." I was doing my calculations on who I was going to kill first when he put it down. Hard. The next thing I knew was I laying on the diner floor trying to clear my eyes from the after flash of the lightening strike that had hit the Humvee outside the window. It was now a smoking ruin and all the diner windows had blown in. I was covered in shattered glass and my ears were ringing which was good. It meant I wasn't deaf.

My brain was screaming at me "Shit! Get up dumbass!" I got up, filled my hands with guns, and registered that Thursday was still standing and laughing. I saw movement on the floor where the officer escorts had been. One of the soldier boys was sitting up and shaking his head. I shook it some more for him and shot the one next to him who was screaming. The officer was down. His head was a pulp. Mentally I noted it, thought "Huh?" and moved forward to find the remaining two.

One of them was busy bleeding out from the face full of glass he taken. The other popped up from behind a table and I caught him right between the eyes. I swear he looked cross eyed at the bullet just before it impacted. "Damn! The kid!" I looked back and he was fine. He had gone down and stayed down on the floor. He looked a little pale but I didn't see any bleeding. This was good. Someone outside cut loose with a short burst just barely missing me. It was time to go. I yelled "Go!" and ran for the kitchen door. I didn't look back. They either followed or we all died right here and I wasn't in the mood to die.

Inside the kitchen there was no sign of the cook or the waitress. Just as well. No sign of apple pie either and no time to look. Life was a real bitch sometimes. The kid was through next followed by Thursday. He had waited to make sure the kid cleared the room first. I liked that. I crouched down and gestured for them to do the same. Someone was pushing rounds through the front of the diner and I knew we were running out of time fast. I also knew going out the back door was probably going to hurt.