Monday, January 31, 2011

Homecoming - Chapter 1 - by Nova

I had a good life once. Now, I don't know what I have.  When things started going bad it didn't seem like a big deal at the time.  You know, just another day in the life kind of thing. Hell, I was mature enough to know that you can't expect roses and unicorn shitting skittles all the time.  You roll with the problem, come up with a solution, and everything works out.  Except sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it just get worser and worser until you want to cry which is wrong because men don't cry.  I never did. At least so people could see. I think.

I decided to write this because, well, I think, hell, I know, I am losing it.  It is not a happy maker feeling.  So I am writing this in hopes it finds its way to my daughter so she will know my side of the story and maybe not hate me anymore.  Of all the pain I have felt since everything fell apart hearing her say "I hate you!" was the absolute worse.  I thought we would have time to talk, you know, work it out, after her outburst and the tears.  We never did. If you come away with anything from reading this then know this: You never have time for do overs. It's now or never baby and the river stops for no one.

It all starts somewhere. I try to focus on THE DAY when it all went wrong. I can't make up my mind. Sometimes I think I figured it out and I am happy. The next day I can't remember or I think "How could I be so stupid! That wasn't THE DAY! You wouldn't believe how many times I have started this story and then tore the sheets of paper out of my notebook and smashed them on the floor.  I got thrown out of Starbucks the last time.  The lady was nice about it but she was serious about me having to go. I knew this because everyone was looking at me with "Go!" in their eyes. That didn't bother me as much as the little girl who had "FEAR" in hers. That made me sad and ashamed.  I am working on not making bad noises now and I think I am doing good.  You would be proud of your dad.

 So I decided to start when I was still someone and me and your Mom were together.  Oh, I think you were  five when we made the first mistake.  We decided to buy a house.  We already had a house. A nice house.  You liked it. I liked it. Your Mom? Not so much.  It was small. The school district was not the best.  We had been looking for awhile and prices had kept going up and up.  Your Mom's best friend, Shasta, was a real estate agent then. and she convinced your Mom that it was "buy now or be priced out forever!" To be fair it wasn't hard to convince me that she was right.  It certainly seemed that way at the time.

Friday, January 28, 2011

American Apocalypse

Thank you for all your comments.

Right now this is what I see happening as far as the series goes:

AA V - They get to the promised land.  I will wrap up the loose ends to date and probably add some.  The problem is, at least in my life, is some loose ends never get tied up. Shit just happens.  Also it is too much to expect that a group like this would see more than a leg or two of the elephant.  Should something like this ever happen I think that is going to be very true. Especially with the Internet down, and if it is working, like we have seen in Egypt, severely crippled.  It's going to be word of mouth and whatever passes the ruling party censors.

In AA IV I was going to write the start of the next leg down.  I don't think there will be a quick descent to a state of total savagery.  There will be a bottom at a level of technology that will provide the support for a new civilization. I have not figured out what that level will be,  I am still thinking 1880's.  That period, if you were born then, went from horses and trains to cars, rockets, and TV in your lifetime.

Then I hope to write more Gardener books.  Right now I am thinking once he gets to the promised land and the Horde settles in he gets bored and goes off to rid the area around it off bad people.  This just struck me  -- perhaps as Freya's Marshall.

AA VI - will be the final, or as final as life gets, battles. 

As far as characters go I consider some of them the core to the story. If I kill them off then there is no more story.

Thank you for reading and for all your comments.

P.S. If you have read anything of mine can you leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble?  Barnes and Noble being the best place.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Done

Thank you for reading and for your comments.

I am going to start on another book almost immediately.  This one is going to be a bit different as it will have minimal violence -- I think.  You might want to skip reading it as I am not sure if it is going to work out.  I still plan on going back and working on "The Mover" and "Chosen."  This one will probably have elements of both in them as there is a story I want to tell in there along with "The Lion."

Writing these books, especially when it works, is easy because it comes as fast as I can type.  Where it comes from and what direction it is going to take is totally unknown to my conscious brain. I hope some of you will stick around and read it.

I am thinking of dropping the AA IV from the title and instead making it a Gardener book.  What do you think?


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 18d - by Nova

I found Night. I had to practice patience and I even bantered with people along the way and put up with their stupid knowing grins.  She was where my company was bivouacked which meant I had more hands to shake and backs to slap. It was nice to see some of them.  I was surprised how nice. Chief, the head of the Motor Pool was there too and I talked to him. Mostly because he was standing with Night and they were laughing about something to do with Ninja.

"Hey Chief!"

He had his back to me so he didn't see me come up on him. When he turned around his grin was genuine and his hand went out and I shook it without hesitation. It was funny but not a lot of people shook hands anymore. The distance between people in conversations had increased too. Letting someone get close was not such a good idea anymore and I think even if it hadn't changed there would be a significant group of people who would never let anyone get to close again. If you really trusted someone you would do a bro hug.  There were only two people alive that I would let get that close; Max and Ninja. 

"Well god damn if it isn't the returning hero!" He looked me up and down and added "Now don't you look all sharp, shiny, and deadly."

"Yeah." I returned the up and down and said "You got a truck for me?"

He laughed "Hell no. Every time I give you a vehicle you disappear with it and I never see it again.  Might be able to find you a bike."

Thanks Chief." 

"Your brother was by and convinced me to set up a tent." He pointed at one that was set off from the others "I'll be going now."  He winked and left me with Night. 


She looked up at me "Yeah?"

"Come here."

She started moving towards me smiling and I grabbed her and threw her over my shoulder and headed for the tent. She was laughing and beating on me and in the background I could hear more laughter and cheers.  I dropped her gently inside the tent and by the time I had the door zipped up she was almost out of her armor. Life was good again.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 18c - by Nova

I suppose I should have felt awkward standing there in front of the three of them.  I didn't because they were my real family.  I never had a family, well one that not insane or high, but now that I did I didn't see any point in pretending things weren't what they were which, to me at least, was all fixed up.  Carol had her kid.  Max was Max. Night was Night. Life was good. 

"Hey Max. What's up Carol?"

Max grinned, put his hand out, and as soon as we made contact he pulled me in and gave me a bro hug.

When we both stepped back he looked me up and down, and smiled again, this time it was tinged with sadness? Irony? How fucked up life can be?  And told me "I would have gone." He didn't add or say anything else.  We both knew what he was leaving unsaid.

"Yeah but it needed to be done right."  Then I laughed. 

After a second he started laughing too and told me.  "Yeah. Somehow the word that comes to mind is expendable."

Yep. Everything was back to normal as far as I was concerned.

Carol had stood up and wasted no time getting to the point "G. I'm sorry." She paused and looked directly at us and said "No. I'm not. I did what I had to do and I would do it again." She said this defiantly but then her tone softened and she focused on Night "You understood don't you?"  The plea for mercy and understanding was raw an apparent. I tried not to respond to it and instead I looked away.  I had too. It may not have been what I should have done but I was afraid to have Night see my eyes right then.  It was only for a beat, time enough to shut some doors in the head, then I looked at Night. 

She wasn't looking at me.  She was staring directly into Carols eyes. She gave her a brief nod, then told her in a voice that was as flat and toneless as a machine. It was her "I'm not fucking around voice" and it got a smart persons attention right away.  "I don't like you. I never will.  Stay away from me. Push it again and I will kill you and go into exile -- alone if I have to."

She unlocked her arm from around my waist, spun, and walked away.  I looked at Carol and told her quietly "She means it."

"I know." Her voice was incredibly sad.  

I looked at Zane and told him "See you around" and turned to follow Night.  She wasn't moving fast and I stretched my pace to catch up.  We had covered twenty paces when I heard Max  "Night. You don't mind if me and G take a walk do you?" 

She shook her head "No" and pulled away without looking at him.  I knew why. She didn't want him to see her tears.  Life was not as good as I had originally thought and as usual I was feeling clueless on what to do when it came to crying women and relationships in general.

It was a bit of a relief to fall in with Max. We walked silently and headed off towards the perimeter and began tracing it with slower measured paces.

"So what's up Max?"

He didn't laugh. I would have. Instead we walked for a bit more then he began with "First off I didn't know you then, let alone about you and your ... thing for her when we got together."

"Yeah. I know."

"I know you know. I just felt like I had to say that G."

Now it was my turn to be silent.  A lot of things went through my head.  None of them particularly uplifting or what I wanted to deal with so I just locked them down and told him "Thanks."

"I'm going to assume you're up to speed and know I'm sleeping with Freya." He quickly added  "She isn't a kid anymore G." 

"I know." I also knew this came under the same category as what he told me about Carol. The "I had to say it" category.

"It's all about survival.  Our survival.  "Our" meaning everyone you see" He had stopped walking and was looking at the Horde going about life.  "What do you see G?

I knew this wasn't a rhetorical question. Max didn't do rhetorical. I also has some inkling about what the correct answer was to this but I didn't do correct answers with Max.  I told him my truth. I shrugged and told him "Outside of us," us meaning my family, "I see cattle. A herd that might be useful." 

" I know. I do sometimes too but I can't let that be me.  I see people.  I see casualties.  I see possibilities.  I see a future. I can't live by just killing G.  I need to make something worthwhile. I may have to kill a lot of people to get it but when I do it will be worth it. This I promise you."

 He let it end there. We both watched our people do whatever for a little bit.  I broke the silence asking him "What about Carol?"

 "Yeah....she is good at organizing. She'll find a place and I will make sure her and Zane are taken care of.  What was then is long over. She'll find someone, probably sooner than later."

 "Okay. What was the deal with Freya earlier?"

Max shook his head. "She loves ceremony.  It was going to a tribal presentation and recognition of your success.  At least that's what she told me."

That last part didn't get past me.  "You don't trust her?'

"I don't trust anyone who has an agenda and she most definitely does.  There is some shit going on that is bigger than us G.  I don't have a total handle on it and I think we are just a piece on the board but I tell you what..." He paused, grinned "We are aren't getting fucked like my people did last time around." He reached out and smacked my arm telling me "Lets go find our women.  I think we are both are going to have to do some sweet talking. Oh yeah. Tell Night her troop movement didn't get past me."  I was still processing the last thing he said but I didn't get it.  I stored it away to tell Night and followed him back into the heart of the camp. Now I had to find out where Night was because that was going to be where I was if it had any privacy for the next few hours at least.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 18b - by Nova

I looked at our leadership cadre.  Ninja was looking out of the corner of his eye at Max who was standing there as stone faced as Freya.  I don't know what through his head, he didn't even look at Freya, he just started walking towards Carol and Zane.  As soon as Ninja saw that he broke away and headed towards me and Night. That was the signal for the crowd.  They broke ranks and like a wave headed towards us.  Most of them, especially the women, headed towards Carol but a sizable bunch came to us.

It was one of the more bizarre experiences of my life. I hated it, I loved it, and I didn't let go of Night.  It was like I had thrown the winning touchdown or won the lottery.  Everyone wanted a piece of me.  My face went rigid with what I hoped was a grin and I began repeating the same phrases I had seen on television a million years ago.

"I was glad to do it."

"He's a great kid."

"Oh, there were a few rough patches but we made it."

"Glad to be back."

"Damn. You're uglier then when I left."

Night was spooling her responses out just like I was.

"Oh yes! I am so glad he's back.

"I never doubted it.

"He would do the same for you I know."

I only got about thirty seconds with Ninja before he stepped away. It was time enough for him to say "What took you so long?" Punch me in the arm and grin. 

I did have time to see Freya had disappeared and Max standing next to Carol and looking as uncomfortable as I felt.  At least for him. 

Eventually we were left alone enough that I could blow off the few who didn't get the message by telling them "Don't you have work to do?" They looked like I had slapped them with a fish but they left which is all I wanted.  I felt Night shaking and looked down at her.  It took me a couple of beats to realize she was shaking from holding in her laughter.

"Jesus G. I love you."

Then using the arm she had wrapped around me she pushed me in the direction of Max. I whispered to Night "This is going to be interesting."  Night didn't say anything but Max heard me.  He looked over at us, flashed a quick grin, and began telling his people it was time to go. He was a little more diplomatic but not much.

The Great Book Giveaway is Over

Sorry.  They are going to freak.  :)

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 18a - by Nova

Then what ever was planned became unplanned.  Zane took off like he was rocket propelled towards Carol all the while screaming "Mom!" Shelli yelled after him "Come back!"  Then in a quieter voice I heard her mutter "That little shit." She told one her acolytes "Go get him!"  They looked at her like she was an idiot and one of them told her "I ain't getting between that boy and his Momma."  I was already moving towards Night but I heard one of the other Shellites mutter "And anywhere near that dog."

I was laughing and picked up my pace.  Night saw me coming, grinned that delightfully evil grin of hers and came running.  I opened my arms and let her come running into them.  I was glad when she impacted that I was still geared up like she was.  That woman was hard with all kinds of crap slung on her load bearing gear. Then again so was I.  We had even gotten tangled up once before doing the exact same thing and we had almost fallen over from laughing so hard.  I didn't care.  I held her tight, kissed her, and whispered in her ear how much I had missed her. 

When we came up for air I became aware of the yelling and cheering going on behind us.  Even more surprising was I was hearing my name -- a lot.  People were delighted that I had gone to Night and kissed her like we were at the altar.  I looked over and saw Carol on her knees hugging Zane and crying.  It was one hell of a hell of a Hallmark moment. 


Yes, I will probably do some serious rewrites on the last few chapters of AA IV.  I still am not sure where I am going, other than roughly.  I should have more posts up today.

If you would like a free copy of AA I for review or whatever I can do this now.  The publisher will send them out to you I think by Amazon.  If you have left comments here then you are eligible for this free offer! Act now before it's to late!

Edit: I will need you to email me your address for shipping....duh

Seriously -- thanks for the comments and support.

Monday, January 24, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 18 - by Nova

Woof was uneasy and sticking close to Zane who was in turn was damn near stuck to me. Probably because I had pulled him close.  Funny how Shelli and her friends hadn't rushed up real close to pinch Zane's cheek and tousle his hair.  I guess the worlds largest known German Shepherd has that effect on people.

Damn Woof should be past his growing stage but he was getting bigger, a lot bigger since we had first met.  Probably all the growth hormones and what not in the people dined on.  He did seem happier lately too.  I wondered who was taking antidepressants that he munched on.  These were just random thoughts that run through your mind as head into what was probably going to be some kind of meaningful for the masses but intensely boring for me ceremony.Then it struck me that this might be my ceremony!  That would be nice.  Unlikely, but nice.

Shelli led us or rather I let her take the lead.   The Horde started moving too.  I could hear orders being barked around me.  They were being called to formation.  Shelli was talking over her shoulder to me and Zane telling us "Okay guys.  When we get almost to the church I'll show you where you need to stand.  Freya and everyone should be coming out .... they come. You will need to wait for my prompt..."

They filed out of the double doors of church like they had practiced it which I really hoped they hadn't. First came Night with Ninja right behind her.  I grinned at her, she waved and Ninja gave me a raised fist salute while grinning like a maniac.  Maybe fifteen paces behind them came Freya and Max.  Freya looked radiant and yes, she was not a kid anymore.  Her hair was still shiny.  That unicorn piss worked wonders.  The long white cotton dress she wore set her best features off perfectly, especially when the sun got behind her and outlined her body.  Max wasn't geared up, actually, for him, he looked dressed up.  Plain green BDU's, a white t-shirt, and his .45 worn in a law enforcement rig on his belt.  He was looking past me to watch the Horde as it finished getting in formation.  I was wondering where in the hell you find stainless white clothes like that these days when Carol came out after them maintaining the same spacing.  She too was wearing a long dress but hers was more of an organic brownish white.  It suited her.  Her hair was down and the blond highlists seemed brighter as did her eyes.  She had put on a couple of pounds and she looked good.  Real good. I went back to looking at Night.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 17e - by Nova

Jackson told me "Night has most of our company on guard around the vehicles and food stores."  He told me that like it was supposed to mean something.  I was slow, I didn't get it, but it told me Night had a plan which was good enough for me.

"Okay Jackson. Stick around."  I looked at Shelli and said "Don't tell me you don't know the back story here. You, of all people, are not who I would expect to see standing here grinning."

She gave me a wry smile and said "You're not up to speed with our new world.  Max and Freya are a couple."

That surprised me and angered me. "She's a kid Shelli."

She laughed. It was a bitter one but it was a laugh. "Yeah. Right. You may be the only man here who could say that and have me believe him.  She has the body of an eighteen year old and the heart of a 4,000 year old." She paused, then added "Well, I don't think she has a heart but you know what I mean."  

I thought about it. I flashed some images through my mind and realized she was right. I said, and I didn't bother to hide the disgust "I go away for a couple weeks and come back to As the World Turns." 

She smiled "No G. Think of it as a really bad reality show. That's what I do."

I shrugged and told her "Sounds like bullshit to me."  I looked at Zane and told him "C'mon kid. Lets go find your Mom."  As soon as I started walking Jackson got in front of me and said "I can't let you do this Gardener."

I looked at him and said "Then you die."

He looked at me, whispered "I know," and shut his eyes.  I thought "Well this sucks." I hesitated, I didn't like this, I would do it but I didn't like it. That is when the church bell started ringing and Shelli said "That's the signal. Zane...time to meet your Mama." 

I know I had told Shelli to shut up and I also knew that it was like telling water not to be wet but I was actually happy to hear her say that. Probably not as happy as Jackson though. 

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 17c - by Nova

We met up with the Horde team about an hour later. It was uneventful.  We both spotted each other at almost the same time.  I  saw them first and told Zane to drop flat on the ground in the high grass and stay there.  They glassed me and I flashed them our recognition sign.  It was probably out of date but it was generic enough to be recognizable to one of us.  What was surprising was none of the team were mine.  They had Ninjas patch but there was no Ninja leading them.  No Night either.  I wasn't sure what to make of that.  As soon as they approached close enough that we could talk quietly I asked the three man team leader "Where's Ninja?"

"He's busy sir."

"What kind of busy?"

I hadn't told Zane to move yet and I was pretty sure they didn't know exactly where he was.

"Sorry sir. He wanted to come, as did the Lady Night, but they had to stay for a meeting."

"No shit" is what I said. What I was processing was 'the Lady Night' thing which was a little weird.  This was the first time I had heard that.  What strange shit had gone on that I had missed? I mean I hadn't been gone for that long.

"Sir...we should get going. Where is the boy?"

I wasn't getting a bad vibe. I recognized all three of them.  One had turned to watch behind his team and the other had split off about ten paces and was watching the horizon and not me. Never the less I decided to ping him "What boy and who the hell are you?"

He let my implicit challenge roll over him and calmly told me who he was, and what he did in Ninja's company, battalion, or whatever the hell we were calling it this week. 

I stared at him and told him to wait here. I backtracked a bit and called for Zane.  After a couple of beats he popped up and we joined up with our welcoming commitee. We headed back with them walking a wedge, Zane behind that, and me walking drag. 

Note: I am using a laptop without spellcheck to write this as I am at work dealing with a down circuit and a tech that was supposed to be here an hour ago.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - 17b - by Nova

Walking is what we did too.  Eating regularly in the land of the feds had confused my stomach.  It was rumbling and asking "Wheres my meal?"  I ignored it because I had no choice.  One of the things I noticed about Zane was he never complained about being hungry.  He was either used to it or life so far had taught him that sporadic eating was how it was. 

Somewhere around 10:00 I heard crows cawing. We were skirting the edge of a field and I was trying to adjust to the change in terrain.  I didn't like it.  Not enough woods and creeks to screen us from sight.  I was thinking about what the Great Plains would look like while keeping an eye on the world and listening to the crows when Freya appeared in my minds eye and startled the hell out of me.

"I thought we had agreed you were going to say something like 'Stand by' before you did that."  I didn't bother to hide the irritation I felt either.

She giggled and said  "I forgot."


She "hmmpfed" in my brain and replied "Maybe you'll like this better."  Then Night was there.


She was there. Damn, I had missed her. That smile and those laughing dark eyes. Her hair. Those nipples. Then I remembered that everything I was thinking was going out live and cut that off until later.

Her voice was amused "So you missed me?"

"Yeah. A little." I said it pretty casually I thought but the peals of her and Freya laughter told me otherwise.

Softly she replied "Yeah. I missed you."  Then the steel was there "You found him?"


"Not bad. With weeks to spare too.  Let me see him." 

I turned to look at Zane and sent her his image.  There was a moment of silence, then she said calmly and coldly, each word clipped "That. Slut."

In the silence afterward I waited. Nothing else was said so I told her "He's a good kid and I won't stand for him being hurt."

I didn't know what she had planned or was thinking.  I also knew saying that could hurt her our relationship, maybe even fatally, but that was the way it was going to be. I waited and walked and tuned out Zane's "What's going on? Who is that blond girl?"

We had covered a couple hundred paces when Night broke her silence, the tiredness apparent to me in her  "Just come home to me G. That's all."


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 17a - by Nova

I woke up in the middle of the night, or did in my dream. I wasn't sure what state it was other than it felt real.

"Hello sleepyhead."

Freya was sitting on an overturned five gallon bucket maybe five paces from me.  Her hair was unbound, golden, and gleamed in the moonlight which was strange as the sky was overcast with clouds. 

"How do you get your hair to gleam like that?"

I wasn't surprised to see her, in fact it seemed pretty natural for her to appear sitting on a bucket in the middle of nowhere.

She replied straight faced "Unicorn urine."

For half a beat she had me believing that but she started to smile and I caught myself.

"That's nice.  Pony piss is supposed to be high in vitamins too." I stretched, smiled back, and asked "Bring any cookies?"

Her smile went away. "No. Everything is stale that used to be good. Before you kill people can you ask if they know how to bake?"

She asked it seriously too. Just as seriously I replied "No."

We both stared at each other for a couple of beats, then she grinned and told me "It's good to see you."

"Thanks.  Whats up?"

"I've come to bring you home." She looked over at Zane and Woof.  Woof was awake too and watching the both of us. She looked over at the sleeping Zane and said "So that's him. The once and future king."

"Somehow I don't think that's Arthur."

She shrugged. "I like saying that.  It reminds me of the old days.  So that's Max's kid.  Kind of scrawny."

That should have taken me by surprise. It didn't.  "When did you figure that out?"  I was expecting her to tell me she had seen it from afar in the stillness of a pond or a crow had told her. Instead I got "Looks like him and Max is not exactly Mr. Celibate."

"Oh. Okay." Somehow I wasn't really comfortable with the idea of discussing Max's sex life.

"Yes." She looked off into the distance for a second, I heard a crow caw three times, then she said "Warriors are not supposed to be. It's part of the job description." She paused "Well it used to be."

I really hoped this wasn't going to turn into one of those Freya speaks in cryptic phrases conversations. That shit got old fast.  "So how far away are they?"

"Maybe twenty miles as the crow flies.  Max will send a team to meet you. Just keeping going north when you wake up."

"I thought I was awake."

"No silly man. I'm not going to walk this far unless I have to. Now go to sleep."

That was all I remembered until I woke up just before the dawn.  The weird thing there was a five gallon bucket exactly where I dreamed it was.

"Wake him up Woof."

Woof got up and Zane moved. I told him "Wake up kid. We got some walking to do."

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 17 - by Nova

We drove for a couple of hours through the darkness.  When I say darkness, I mean darkness. That was the one the many things I had to get use to was how dark it was out in the country.  I had pretty good night vision now thanks to Freya and eating my vegetables whenever I could. Still it was dark and the road was rapidly approaching unusable. I found myself thinking more than once that the trade off for mileage verse the higher clearance and four wheel drive might have been a mistake.  I consoled myself that it was only in books and movies where the good guys made all the right choices. 

I repeated that to myself when the axle broke.  It didn't help but it did wake up Zane who had fallen asleep.  I got us all out of the car and loaded up with what we could carry which wasn't much.  One of these days I was going to have to find someone to sew up a couple of doggy packs for Woof.  I didn't think he would wear them but who knows.  We hadn't seen a single car so far and only the occasional light from a farmhouse. I had been sending out Freya connect messages to no avail. Never the less I knew we were close. How I knew I didn't know, but I did. Then cable TV used to have lots of shows about how people had some kind of ability. My Mom liked the Ghost Whisper for just that reason though the best I could tell her only talent was picking losers for boyfriends.

We walked about 300 yards off the road into a clump of trees and found a place to sleep.  Zane curled up with Woof and he was back to sleep in seconds.  Woof watched me and occasionally lifted his head to sniff the faint breeze that was blowing.  The clouds had been building all day and I was sure we were going to end up soaked by noon tomorrow.  I saw a bolt of lightening and heard the roll of thunder and revised that to very soon.  My problem was I didn't know the weather here.  It was hot, sticky and the breeze felt good.  Maybe the rain would cool it down.  With that I stretched out and told Woof he had the first, second, and third watches.  I would relieve him before dawn.  He seemed okay with that idea.

Note: Sorry about the slow posting.  I have a lot going on at the moment. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16e - by Nova

Checking for keys also meant looking for money.  Not a lot of money on these assholes. The bartender was the richest man in the place.  No surprise there.  The guy talking to the woman was the second wealthiest. Another unsurprise. Love is never cheap -- even in Indiana it seems. 

Zane came back and told me "I did it Gardener. What else you want me to do?"

I considered it, he was basically worthless for I needed him to do. He couldn't drive and he couldn't carry a lot of weight but I knew I needed to keep him busy.  I wanted to get the hell out of here. My mental alarm was going off and I decided just to haul ass. Looking for loot thing was when I had people I could trust watching my back. I didn't have that now.

"C'mon. Lets go see what we are driving."

We went outside and lit up the vehicles. I wanted another truck but I ended up with a Ford Focus.  It was the only one with more than a half a tank and if I didn't bust an axle we could make some miles on that much gas. 

I dumped the box of food and guns in the back and laughed when I saw the size of the back seat. Woof wasn't going to have enough room to scratch let alone move around.  I was still pissed at him for kicking me to the curb so easily. I thought our relationship was better than that.

"Zane. You ever set anything on fire?"

"No...not really."

"Your dad loves setting stuff on fire."

"Really! What are we going to burn? 

"The building in front of us." 

I liked watching his eyes get all big.

"Okay! Wait. My Mom said I shouldn't play with matches."

"I bet she told you that awhile ago."

"Yes...before everything..." He didn't finish it. He didn't need to.

"Okay. I don't think she would mind. Plus you have adult supervision."

That convinced him not that he really needed any.  I told him  "Follow me."

We went back inside,  Zane had done a good job, the air stunk of high test alcohol.  I looked behind the bar and found a sawed off shotgun.  I grabbed it, did a quick search for money but didn't find any. I fished a box of matches out, backed up us a bit, and showed him how to strike one.  He broke the first one. The second one lit and he tossed it in a puddle of homemade booze which lit up with a nice blue flame. We stared at it longer than we probably should of but it burned with such a beautiful blue color. Woof barking at us got us moving. We hustled out, got in our new car, and slowly drove away watching the bar burn. Fire is beautiful.

Friday, January 14, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16d - by Nova

The place was empty. I thought "Everyone had shown up to watch the fight and get their tickets punched." I laughed to myself. I really cracked me up sometimes.  I found a cardboard box and began loading it up with what looked worth taking from the kitchen. There wasn't much.  I walked back to find Zane sitting in the same place I had left him, my .38 on the table, his arm around Woof and the dead already attracting flies. 

I set the box on the table, slipped the .38 into a pocket, and told Zane "Go through their pockets, look for keys, we need a new ride."

He hadn't looked up at me when I came in and he wasn't responding to what I told him to do.  I bit back my irritation, took a deep breath, and dropped to a knee so we were all at the same level. "Zane." He twitched but he didn't look at me. "Zane." He slowly turned his head to look at me and I saw he had been crying. In the softest voice I could manage I told him "Zane. It sucks. I know. Your Mom is somewhere around here. I need you to help me find her."

He looked at me blankly and I watched as he came back to reality. It took longer than I wanted but he did.  I got a nod from him and "I'm okay."  I doubted that but all I needed was him functioning.  "Lets change up. I'll look for the keys. I want you to go pour their drinks from the bar on the floor. Do the same for any alcohol you can find behind the bar. Okay?"

"Got it."

"Okay." I slapped him on the shoulder and stood up ignoring the twinge of pain in my hip. "Let's do it."

We did it.  I tossed the handguns from the bodies in the box with the food I found.  It ended up full.  I found a couple of sets of keys with clickers. I was going to drive all night and hope for the best. Not much of a plan but it was about all I could think of. I wasn't all that much of a plan guy anyways.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16c - by Nova

There was a beat of stunned silence while they absorbed the fact that the world champion Indiana Militia mascot was no more.

As soon as they had come around the corner I had been doing the death math in my head. Who is armed with what? What are the angles for my shots? Who has the right and wrong look in the eyes?  The big what if? running all the time in the background.  One of these days I was going to guess wrong and pay but I didn't care. If anything it just made it better.  What was weird was I had sucked in math all my life but I was good at this.  Good enough that you could have blindfolded me right then and I still was sure I could run the table.

In that one stunned beat of time I shot two of the Militia guys in the face, then I recocked and dropped the Rugers back in their holsters.  Unsafe? Who cared when the fraction of a second saved made all the difference in a gunfight. While I did that I read faces. The waitress was just raising her hand to wipe blood and brain spray off her face. The couple that had been at the bar when we came in were dropping their jaws. The remaining Militia guy was going for his gun. They hadn't brought their rifles with them and this wasn't rifle work anyway. Woof had launched and brought down the bartender. That left five people, the bouncer and Militia guy being first in the queue. 

Max had told me "Never react the way they expect. Act in the way that benefits you first."  Well, it was something profound like that. Anyways I had been working and refining my responses since. Plus I liked blade work, maybe more than I liked my Rugers.  Also it made a difference I had found.  In close quarters a long gleaming piece of steel totally scared people who might have hung in there and exchanged rounds with me.

I drew Sword, stepped forward, and buried the blade about four inches into the remaining Militia mans gut.  Sword could be swung with two hands but the blade was shorter than "real" swords.  It had been made with the dominant infantry weapon of the world in mind, the Roman short sword, and had been adapted to the conditions that came 400 years later. It was deadly in close and I liked getting close. I screamed "Freya!" then stepped forward again and punched the couple with two quick jabs of steel.. 

I turned, trying to relocate the bouncer, and tangled my feet in the bartender who was on the floor screaming. I had decided to skip him and it had been a mistake. I had gone forward to reach the couple and he had used that extra bit of time to pull his weapon. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, turned, did the math, and thrust Sword at him while screaming "Freya! again"  It was enough to make his first shot miss and for me to draw and not miss. 

I turned again and saw the waitress coming fast and already way to close with a steak knife gripped tight in her hand. I did the math and thought "Shit. I fucked up." There was a loud bang and she stopped, looked at Zane in surprise, opened her mouth to say something but it remained unsaid because he shot her again. I looked at him, his face was white but his hands were steady and he was still pointing it at her as she went down. 

I told him "Point it down and stay with Woof. I have to see if we're clear." 

I was moving towards where the kitchen had to be when he stopped me in my tracks.  "Gardener. I killed her."  It wasn't the words that stopped me. It was how he said them.  I knew he was having a moment. The problem was there was no time for it.

"Yeah. You saved my life too." Then I got moving.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16b - by Nova

She came back with the bowls and was smiling all the way. Just before she had come back one of the militia boys had looked around the corner and given us a thumbs up.

"Here you go honey"  She set the bowls down and brightly asked "Will there be anything else?"

"How about some utensils and something to drink?"

"Oh my" She covered her mouth with her hand, laughed, and said "I'm so sorry. Ice tea or water?"  Zane and I both said "Ice tea."  When she left he semi-whispered "Shes not real smart is she?"

I shrugged and told him "Give Woof his bowl. He doesn't need any utensils." He set the bowl down and we both watched Woof sniff it and pass.  Zane looked at me. I looked at him. He said "It can't be that bad."

"Naw. Woofs probably still full from his Mexican food. Grab it and we can split it."  I noticed he didn't hesitate to reach down for it either. The waitress came back with the rest of our stuff, apologized a couple more times, and finally left. We dug in. It was bad but edible.  No meat. Just beans and a tomato sauce. I'm a fast eater but Zane was faster. I pushed the other bowl over to him and said "That's yours. I'm getting full." He nodded and swapped the bowls out like a pro. He was almost done with the second bowl when it started. "Nice timing" I thought.Woof had stood up and was in his warning stance.

Five beats later the bartender was towed around the corner by one big, ugly, scared brown pit bull. Behind the bartender trailed the militia members and everyone else in the place.  Woof was bigger by 70 lbs was my guess. He was growling from deep down inside and I felt it inside my gut where it was making the crappy chili vibrate. The pit bull didn't make a sound. He just looked at Woof and sneered. He had taken some hits, the missing ear said that, as did the bite marks and scars.  He didn't look bothered because my guess was he had never lost.  The scratched up one inch wide steel collar he was wearing helped that winning streak I'm sure.

I got up from the table and stood at an angle in front of Woof. "What you got there?" I asked them casually.

Bartender told me proudly "This here is the mascot of the Indiana Militia! Never been beat. No sir. Just like us."

"No shit." I nodded gravely.  "Nice dog. It have a name?"

Bartender and everyone else grinned. He told me "Yes indeed. We call him...Vick."

I laughed. So did everyone else. We were all becoming such buddies.

"So why you showing me your dog?

He looked around at his buddies. The grins had changed. They weren't the lets laugh kind of grins. They were slimy and more than a little maggoty.

"Well, we figure you being a rich Zoner" he really stepped on the word Zoner too, "that you might want to bet. You know...your dog against ours."

"If I don't?"

The grins got mean and he told me "I guess you don't got much of a choice."

I smiled at them, drew, and pumped two .357 rounds into Vick. As the sound died away I recocked and  told them "I always got choices."

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16a - by Nova

Our waitress was what I expected.  Bleach blond hair with the dark roots reclaiming half her head. Bad teeth and a worse attitude. Dressed in clothes that would have set her off nicely twenty years ago.  She was hot.  Not.  Her first words were "I'm not serving you if you don't muzzle that dog."

I didn't say anything.  I just reached into my pocket, opened my money pouch, and slapped a silver dollar on the table.  Then I pulled out four more and said "This enough to buy the house drinks?"

Her attitude changed.  She smiled. It wasn't pretty. "Why yes. I think that will work. What do you boys want?"

I indicated the bouncer and told her "He gets a drink too."

She had already scooped up the silver. Woof had watched and started growling but Zane put his hand on his shoulder and said "No Woof."  She didn't waste any time backing up either. 

"What you got?"

She pursed her lips, looked off to the right, and read the invisible menu for awhile.  I was getting ready to say "Hello?" when she tuned back in and told us "Bean chili. Hamburger, but that really sucks, then she smiled again "That's it!"

I told her "Three chilies"

She smiled again and left. I noticed she headed straight to the bar first. As she walked away I noticed Zane checking her ass out.  At least I thought it was her ass until he asked me "Why does she have a tattoo above her butt G?"

"It's her PIN number."

He looked at me blankly. "Just decoration kid."


Zane talked to me about what he was going to tell his Mom while I listened and felt the surface flow of the room change. It was still ugly but the ugly was biding its time.  That was what I wanted. We needed time to refuel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 16 - by Nova

I was halfway across the gravel parking lot, I really like listening to the sound of gravel crunching under my boots, when it hit me. I was close! No. No bird email. No Freya. I just knew.  I yelled "Yessss!" and turned around and told Zane and Woof "We're close. I know it."  Zane yelled "Yea!!!" Woof just looked bored. 

I covered the rest of the ground to the door feeling good until I saw the crude sign at the doors.  It said:

No Zone Punks Allowed

Someone had keyed threw the "Punks" and scratched "Bitches" underneath it.  "Nice" I thought and locked the good feeling away.

Without thinking about it I flashed the hand sign for "On Me" and walked in.  As soon as I cleared the door I knew it was going to be an interesting night.  It was a shit hole.  It had been one before PowerDown, hell, probably since it was built, and would be until the end of time or someone burned it to the ground. 

They had a bouncer working the door.  He was big, bald, and had a nice snake tat on his neck.  He looked fierce but I didn't think it went all the way to the core.

I told him "Table for three." It looked like it was going be time to find out how much Max the kid had in him. Then I grinned at him. I don't think he was used to witty banter because all he could come up with was "No dogs."  

"Service dog."  Then I walked past him. I thought he would let it slide but of course not. They seemed to breed that type out this way.  He held out his arm to block Zane and said "No minors allow..."   That was a mistake. I am fast but Woof was closer. I drew and had the barrel of the Ruger between his eyes. Woof silenced the place. All eyes had been on us when we came in but they were talking. Woof's growl silenced everyone except the jukebox which was playing Toby Keith's "As Good As I Once Was."  Not one of my favorites by any means.

"Put your arm down very, very slowly I told him."

He did.

"Thank you. You do serve food right?"

He nodded his head. He wasn't paying attention to me. He was entirely focused on Woof. 

"Who's the men at the bar?"

I had noticed the right away. Three guys talking to the bartender who was a piece of work just by himself. They were drinking something clear out of tumblers and I knew it wasn't water. Two of them were wearing armor and they were trying real hard to look like they were military.  They had a couple of black plastic AR looking clones and a Russian SKS that looked pretty nice. I could see two handguns which meant I had a lefty or less likely, someone who didn't have a handgun. The bartender looked like a shotgun type and the bouncer had a handgun tucked under his t-shirt which he had made no attempt to go for.  The other male and female who were talking didn't look like much. Her worse weapon probably required money and wouldn't show up right away.

"Indiana Militia."

He said it like it meant something. 

"Nice." I told him.  Then I started walking over to the other side of the room to an empty table.  I hoped Zane would have enough since to follow. He did.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 15d - by Nova

We finally got it together and I started us rolling though both of us for the next couple of hours would look at each other and bust out laughing. 

"So what's up Gardener? Where are we going? Is my Mom here?"

"We need to eat. We're heading northwest. I hope so"  I grinned at him. "Did I miss anything?"

"Do you think we are close?"

"I hope so. You get anything at night? Any dreams?"

He shook his head, looked down at the floorboard and mumbled "Sometimes I think I might never have another dream or see my mom again." Even quieter he said "Sometimes I'm afraid I will forget what she looks like."

I thought about what he said and told him the truth, or at least my truth, "Your Mom is unforgettable kid. Trust me on that one."

He nodded his head but I doubt if what I said helped. 

We were losing the light when I spotted the tavern.  It was busy and it probably had shitty food but it would do. We parked away from everyone. I don't know why I bothered. I knew we would come back out and find a big ass SUV or truck parked next to us and closer than I liked.  Such is life.  I thought about leaving Woof in the truck but I decided not to. No reason really. It just felt right. 

"C'mon Zane. Lets go see how bad they can screw up a bowl of soup." 

"Good. I'm hungry."

I was getting ready to jump down out of the truck when, for no reason, it just seemed right, I stopped and told Zane "Hold up."  I dug the snub nosed .38 I carried strapped in a holster around my boot and handed it to him.

"Look at me" I told him.

I waited until he was, struck again by his eyes and who they reminded me of, and asked him "No bullshit. Can you use this?"


I didn't hear anything I didn't like in that "Yes" so I told him "Find a place to put it" and handed it to him. Then I dropped down out of the cab, and headed towards the tavern. I didn't call him and I didn't hear Zane call him either but Woof was out of the truck and looking at the tavern.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 15c - by Nova

He went, sobbing every step of the way.  I went around the truck and found Zane where I thought I would.  I told him "Toss the phones and gear out the door."



"Does Woof eat everyone?

"I haven't seen him eat any Black people yet."

"No..." His voice trailed off. "I mean is he bad like those people are?"

"No. Though lately he has been pretty worthless.  Get moving. I want to get out of here." 

I yelled at Woof "Get your ass in the truck Woof!"  He just looked at me and went back to working on detaching Jesus's left leg below the knee. Juan was watching this and it was making him most unhappy.  He might have been good with the young chickens but he wasn't impressing me. 

Woof wasn't moving.  I shrugged, slammed the gate shut, and got in the cab.  Zane was looking at me all worried "Your not leaving Woof?"  

"No kid. Just seeing how fast he can run."

We rolled out moving slow. Slow enough that I could look back over my shoulder and watch Woof look puzzled while Juan got up and moved towards the pile we had left. Zane was watching with me and yelling "Woof! Woof!"  That did it. Woof got to his feet with the leg bone clenched in his jaw and came running.  Juan saw Woof, screamed and went running head long into a picnic table. "That had to hurt" I told Zane.  Woof landed with a thump in the back and Zane and I laughed so hard I had to stop driving for a couple of minutes.  It's the little things like that that make life worth living.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 15b - by Nova

"We came here because we heard they were going to restart the turkey plant near here and might be hiring workers."

"We being you and Jesus?"

"Yes sir. Me and Jesus.  I loved him." Then he started crying.  I let him cry for about fifteen beats and then told him "That's nice. Keep going."  He wiped his nose on his hand and continued with his story but I had to cuff him upside the head first. 

"Okay. Okay. We ended up in a place...others like us who were waiting for the plant to open. We moved into some houses that were empty by the dump.  A couple of men come by and ask questions...they tell us it was for the hiring. We were happy." He stopped, looked at me, and held up his hand saying "I know. I know. I come to the part you want." Woof cracked another bone and he stopped to take a quick sob break. I heard the truck door quietly open and knew Zane had decided to get out so he could listen in. That was fine. Maybe he wouldn't ask so many questions later.

"Me and Jesus.  One day we slip off.  It was getting warmer and, well, we wanted privacy." He looked at me, looking for understanding I suppose, so I nodded. "We hear noises of trucks.  Jesus wanted to run back right away. He thought it might be trucks coming to take people to the plant." He paused, once again the sign of the cross, "We go back but it takes time. Time enough for us to hear shooting.  So we hide and watch." He took a deep breath. "They kill everyone. Little ninos, my friends dog, everyone.  They shoot them.  Then they throw the bodies into the trucks and drive to the dump."

"Why?" I asked him.

He stood up a little straighter and I actually heard some anger in his voice for the first time.  He spread his palms out in the universal gesture of cluelessness and said "Because they could. Because we are not Anglo. Maybe they think we are agents of Aztlan."

"Maybe all of the above" is what I thought.  What I said was "Go sit down over there." I pointed to where there was. "We'll leave you some phones you can sell, clothes, and whatever else we can spare." 

Monday, January 10, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 15a - by Nova

I turned around slowly and started back towards them while quietly saying "Tell me about these bodies."

Juan replied just as slowly "You don't know?"

Jesus looked at him and said something fast in Spanish. I caught "Federales" and the look in his eyes told me even more. This guy was scared shitless. My hand was slapping leather at the same time they decided to bolt.  Juan changed his mind when I drew on him. My problem was I was facing them and they both gone in different directions.  Juan had gone to my left, well he had attempted to, Jesus had gone the other way and had caught me in an awkward position. I was backing up trying to swing enough around so I could get both weapons pointed in the right direction without being off balance and turning my back on Juan.

I did it but it took a couple beats. While I was doing that a big fast moving fur blur crossed my peripheral  vision. Woof had finally decided to get off his ass and provide some backup.  Juan and I watched Woof hit Jesus like a four footed land shark and take him down hard. I saw the plea in Juan's eyes for me to stop Woof. I shrugged and told him "Talk to me. Now."

He swallowed hard and shook his head "No."

"What?"  I was incredulous. "Look. I have somewhere I need to be. You, I hope, want to live. Talk and you can go."

Jesus picked up the volume on his screaming for a second. "Nice timing Woof" I thought. He switched to gurgling as Woof got past his guard and ripped his throat out.

"You really let me go?"

I really wanted to kill him about then but I wanted to know about the bodies. "Yes. Stop fucking around."

In the background a bone cracked. I stepped back as Juan threw up.  While he was puking Zane called for me "Is Woof okay? Can I..."

"No! Keep your ass in the truck."

I told Juan "You got five seconds to quit puking and start talking." Then I started counting. He hadn't eaten much lately because he was talking by the time I said "Three."

"Pardon" he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and I stayed where I was. His breath stunk. "Me and Jesus" he gestured in Woofs direction without looking. "We worked in a chicken plant not far from here.  Everyone left when the power went out.  We didn't." He shrugged "We had no car and no money.  We stayed and ate chicken until it made us throw up.  Then we ate the rats. We did what we had too." He made a quick sign of the cross and continued "We tried robbing but we didn't have guns. That was not good. We were..." He paused, obviously searching for the English word and gave up "Rats. We had to go. We found a car and we were going to drive to El Salvador. We made it not far from here."

"Can we move this along. I really want to move." I was getting that feeling, The one that told me it was time to go."

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 15 - by Nova

We rolled with only minor slowdowns. The worst delay was near Louisville outside of La Grange which I had thought was in Texas. I remember one of my "Uncles" playing some band that sang a song about it over and over.  He would be sitting back in the recliner, knocking back a bear or five, and would tell me "That's real music boy. They don't play shit like this no more. " I learned not to come inside when he started playing that music, especially if Mom was home.  He got excitable and he when he did they went at it like animals. It also didn't help that I had, without thinking, said "Thank God" the first time he told me that.

I blew down the side of the road and stopped only when I had to. The Army guy told me they were conducting a tactical counter insurgency sweep a couple of miles away and they didn't want people getting off the ramps and driving into the operational area. He was more than a little patronizing about telling me this too.  I told him that was great but I was transporting suspected insurgents to Louisville and I was not going to be getting off on any ramps around here.  He gave me reluctant tactical permission to proceed.  I resisted  the desire to shoot him, got back in the truck and kept going.  It was nice. No traffic and I was able to stay at 60 mph for about 30 minutes.  I was feeling good. I started looking for crows and trying to contact Freya.  I saw plenty of crows but I wasn't getting a connection yet.

It was a couple of hours before nightfall and I wanted to find something to eat and a place to sleep so I took the off ramp from I-64 a few miles out of Louisville for some state highway that desperately needed its pot holes filled in three years ago.  Driving one of those electric hybrid cars might save you some money but if they didn't start fixing these local roads soon you would end up saving even more gas because that hybrid wasn't going to be able to go anywhere.  Even the Interstate required me to keep the speed down so I could avoid some of the holes that pockmarked it. Jesus and Juan appreciated it I'm sure.  They were going to be even more bruised since they had been bouncing around in the back every time I caught a hole too fast.

I pulled off the state road into a roadside pullover that was the home of a couple of sofas and a burnt our car of unknown make.  There was an empty suitcase in the weeds not far from it and some clothes that were well on the way to rotting into rags strewn around it.  Leftovers from someone else who tried to make a run for it.  It was getting to the point were I didn't even notice anymore the wrecks that still littered the roads. 

"Okay Zane. Gather up all our cell phones and the other stuff they gave us at the camp.  Get them together and stay in the truck for now."

I jumped down, closed the cab door behind me and told my two terrorists "Hey guys."  Then I dropped the gate and motioned them to get out.  Once they were out I told them "Okay. Turn around."  That's when the older one dropped to his knees and began begging me not to shoot him.

I looked at him. I looked at the younger one who looked like he was going to bust out into tears any second and said "You idiots. I'm not going to shoot you. I'm going to cut you loose. Get up and turn around."

Both of them were babbling their thanks as I cut them loose.   I think the young one wanted hug me but changed his mind.  I'm not really a hugging type of guy.

"Look. I'm going to leave you some clothes and cell phones. They're yours.  Just don't tell anyone where you got them.  You're on your own."

Juan and Jesus were still thanking me and swearing on some saints heart they would never say anything.  I had backed up a bit as I wanted a little room when I walked back to the truck.  I had made it halfway when the younger one stopped me cold.  He said "Don't worry sir. We tell no one about the bodies we saw in the garbage."

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 14c - by Nova

I got in the truck. Much to my amusement Zane had the 16 out and across his lap.  Woof was standing up in the back watching. My guess it was more out of boredom then any desire to leap to my rescue.  That was fine with me.  When I got to the point where I was expecting anyone to back me up I was on my way to Valhalla or Hell. Well, that might be a little grandiose. Most definitely a hole in the ground somewhere. 

We drove over to the other side and I did the paperwork.  Then they brought my guys out to me. Two more pathetic looking terrorists would be hard to find.  I had a kid, maybe sixteen, and a old guy. He was probably in his forties.  Both had been beat on and didn't look up much.  They had been cuffed with plastic ties and when they asked me I told them to leave them on.  I decided not to mention that I didn't own any cuffs, plastic restraints, or even a ball and chain.  They didn't have any cookies for me.  I was told to pull around to the back for my gas. 

"C'mon." I told my two guys.  We walked out and I had them each take a lean on the truck so I could search them.  Max had told me way back when never to trust someone elses word when came to knowing if someone was clean or not. Woof leaned over from the truck and sniffed them. He seemed unimpressed.  I had Zane come out and watch while I did each search.  I explained to him why I was doing it and what I was looking for.  I would have pulled off their boots but they were wearing homemade thongs which made it easier to see they needed to trim their nails.  The old man had toenails like claws. 

I had looked at the paper work. The one I thought was sixteen was really twenty and the one I thought was in his late forties was in his late thirties.  So much for my ability to gauge ages accurately.

When I got done I stepped back and told them to turn around.  They both understood English which was going to make my life easier.

I looked at them and pointed at the younger one. "You're Jesus?"

"Yes sir."

"And you're Juan?"

"Si. Yes sir."

"Great. This is how it is. Behave and catch some rays.  Try and run or something equally stupid and I feed you to the dog. We on the same page?"

Both of them let me know that we were all together on this.  I dropped the tailgate and told them to climb in. They looked at Woof, looked at each other, looked at me, and the older one shrugged.  He went first and since he had his hands tied behind his back the best he could do was lay down partially on the gate, then try and twist his body while throwing his legs up on the gate.  He had just started to do it when Woof let us all know that he wasn't going to share.  Juan literally rolled off the gate and hit the ground with a thud when Woof start growling and barking at him.

"Shit."  I shook my head. I didn't have time for this. We were on Day 6 and I should be outside Cincinnati by now. "Zane. Go around to the other side and let your dog in back."  Once he did that I grabbed Juan, or was it Jesus, by the collar and stood him up in front of the gate. "Okay. Try again."  Once I got them both loaded I slammed the gate shut and pulled around to fuel.  I did the paperwork required for that and spun out of there. It was time to roll some miles under my wheels.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 14b - by Nova

She agreed to everything but wouldn't commit to the cookies. I decided to see what happened there. I really was in the mood for cookies.  Of course there was paperwork and of course it was somewhere else. Somewhere else this time was on the other side of the road.  The gas pump was about a mile or so away at the airport.  Much to my amusement it was called "Clinton Field."  She didn't hesitate to tell me it was because this was Clinton County and that was why it was called that. When I came out of the office, not to my surprise, a group of uniforms were waiting me.  Corn Fed of course was one of them. 

I stopped on the wooden landing they had built for the door and looked at them. I waited for all of them to focus on me and then told them "Didn't you all forget something here?"

"What's that hot shot?"  This from Corn Fed.

"Handicap ramp."

"We don't have any handicapped here except maybe you asshole."   Corn Fed had pushed it to far.  I knew he would. I sighed. I probably wasn't going to get my cookies now.

I walked down the two steps and kept going until I was standing a few paces away from Corn Fed.  He had his color up again and I knew where he wanted to go with this.  So I snap kicked him in the balls. As he doubled over from the pain I drew and whipped the Ruger upside his head. He went down.  Then I scanned each one of them and said "You're going to need the ramp now."

Friday, January 7, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 14a - by Nova

I walked over to the coffee pot, poured myself a cup, and asked her if they had any doughnuts. I thought I had blown her up but she caught herself and laughed.

"No. No we don't.  She shook her head, snorted, and told me "You want to hurry up? My shift ends soon."

I just nodded my head. I couldn't say anything because they kept their coffee hot enough to melt a McDonald's and I had just burned the shit out of my tongue and lip.

She held out her hand and said "Credentials."

I slapped them into her hand and watched her. She gave them a cursory look, gestured at a nearby chair, and told me to pull it up and sit down.

She dropped my credentials to her desktop, pulled on a head set, and starting clicking with her mouse.  She looked over at me like she was measuring me for a suit, then she adjusted the web cam clipped to the top of her monitor. That's when I got a "Oh shit" feeling in the pit of my stomach. She gave me an evil grin and told her microphone "This is Forward Base 71/Bravo 2. This is Captain Jennings and I would like to talk to the Marshall please. Yes, I can wait."

She didn't lose her evil smile when she told me "I am doing a visual confirmation. I'm sure you won't mind Mr. Gardener."

"Nope. Do what you got to do."

She drummed her fingers and worked on trying to twist a kink out of her neck.  I blew on my coffee and tried to drink some more. I was hoping to have drank enough that I could grab a refill on the way out. 

"He's not available? Fine. Yes, I will talk to Marshall Lee."

She cleared her throat. "Hello Marshall. Yes. I will be playing softball this year. Great!  Yes, she isn't bad. I'll ask her. No. No. Ah...yes. Why I'm calling is to have you ID one of your people. Hang on."

She reached up and adjusted the cam.  I smiled and waved.  "Really. I see. I see. I'll tell him. Sir! Before you go. I have a job I could use a Marshall on. We're short handed and I need him to help with a prisoner transfer. Yes. I will. Thank..."

"He hung up you. Didn't he."  It was my turn to grin evilly. 

"No. He got busy."

She sniffed and pretended to be busy for about a minute then said "He told me tell you job well done."

I shrugged modestly. I  knew she wanted to ask what I had done but she didn't. Instead she said "I need a couple of prisoners run down to the Louisville courthouse." She paused a space and added "That's what you people do isn't it?"

"You sure you don't have any doughnuts are cookies?"


"Oh. So what's the story on them?"

Her voice turned on a dime. Now it was clipped and professional. "Two male Hispanics. We caught them digging into a landfill east of here."

I laughed. "A fucking landfill! You're kidding?"

Her voice got even tighter "No. It was federal property. Plus they had priors and someone thinks they may have connections to the Republic of Aztlan."

I drained my cup of coffee. Damn if it wasn't still hot. "Okay. I might need one of them Abrams to run security for me."

"Are you going to do this or not?" 

I walked over to the coffeepot and poured myself a cup. I had to tilt the pot to get it. No wonder it tasted like shit and was molten. 

"If you can gas me up and find me some cookies I will."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 14 - by Nova

The woman in the back had dual monitors and there was a HP Laserjet sitting behind her.  The back wall had an American flag and framed picture of the General.  He looked constipated. 

"Is this where I need to check in?"

Corn Fed looked me up and down and said "Let me guess. You're a fed. No." He held up his hand "I got it. You're the Lone Ranger." He thought that was pretty funny and while he was checking the woman out to see if she laughed I reached over my shoulder, grasped Sword, pulled it up, out, and down so I could grip it with both hands and whipped it down into the wood of the desk he was sitting behind.  The zing it made as it cleared the scabbard was a clear and beautiful sound. A mix between a hiss, crystal being tapped, and the cry of a woman. Once upon a time it had been the equivalent of a shotgun being racked. What it did to the top of the desk was just as brutal as a 12 gauge round.  

Corn Fed fell backwards in his chair and on his ass avoiding it.  Just as well. If he hadn't he might of ended up circumcised. I switched to a one handed grip on Sword and in the silence following said "No. I'm a US Marshall and you're an asshole." Then I smiled at the woman who was now on her feet with her hand on the butt of her weapon.

Corn Fed was coming off his ass in a hurry. I looked at him and said "Don't."  He was going to anyway but the woman's curt "At ease Larry" stopped him. He was breathing heavy, flushed red and staring hate at me. I just grinned at him. I was getting ready to say something smart when she cut me off with "I'm going to bill your agency for that desk."

"Get a metal one next time. For Larry heres sake."

"Fuck you fed boy."  Larry didn't want to let it go.

Sharply this time she told him "Go outside. Take a break."  When he hesitated she added "Now!" The "Now!" snapping like a whip. Larry twitched from the sting, then he moved, bumping me as he went out the door.

"Okay. You done?"

"Yeah." I paused "So am I in the right place?"

She took a deep breath, tried to smile and decided not to, instead she told me "Yes. Come on over here."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 13d - by Nova

"You know what Zane? I'm going to have to teach you how to drive."

I pulled up in front of the trailer, killed the lights, and put it in Park.

"Really G! That would be so cool!"

"Yeah." I opened the door "Problem is your legs are to short. I figure if I shut them in this door and pull real hard I can stretch them out." Then I jumped down.   "Watch Woof. Make sure he doesn't eat anyone" and I slammed the cab door. I walked away laughing as he yelled "No way!"

I walked past two troopers who had stopped talking as soon as I pulled up and had tracked me every step of the way since.

I walked past them and I didn't miss the disdain in the younger ones eyes. The other one, maybe ten years older told his buddy as I opened the trailer door "Check that shit out. We got cowboys again." His buddy replied "Fed asshole."  I was smiling as I entered the trailer.  They were sucking serious power as it was cold inside from the air conditioning and lit up like an operating room from the florescent lighting.

They had a desk as you came in. Behind that was a coffeepot on a table and a couple of chairs that were empty. Behind that was another desk that was occupied by a bored looking white woman with her pulled back tight and wearing the Ohio gray uniform.  The desk in front was relatively bare and had a bored looking white guy who as soon as I saw him "Corn Fed" popped into my head. I wasn't surprised by the bored look. They looked competent and the job was probably boring except for the usual five minutes of  a violent encounter or whatever came close.

Monday, January 3, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 13c - by Nova

We rolled pretty good for about forty five minutes.  Then traffic, which had been light but steady, came to a gradual halt.

"What's up G?"

"Roadblock is my guess. Maybe something else." I slid one of the Rugers out of it's holster and dropped it between the door and the seat with the barrel jammed between the seat belt holder and the seat.

"Lets find out."

I hit the lights, pulled over to the side and ran along the stalled traffic grinning.

"I love this shit." I told Zane. He was grinning too and Woof was barking in the back.  That's when I eased up on the gas. Why? An Abrams tank with it's main gun moving in your direction will do that.  The soldier in the orange safety vest holding up his arm for me to halt made the decision even easier.

"Damn Zane. We got a problem."

"What's that G?" He wasn't grinning anymore.

"We got a Nazi deer hunter up ahead."

I didn't have to look at him to see the blank expression on his face. 

A couple more soldiers popped up including one from inside the tank.  I hit the brake and came to a stop about fifty paces in front of the guy in orange. I stuck my head out the window and yelled "US Marshall. How the hell do I get through this shit!"

One of the soldiers behind the deer hunter spoke into a radio, then told him to wave me through. I stuck my head back in, hit the gas, and rolled on up while I powered Zane's window down.  When I pulled abreast of the Nazi deer hunter I yelled "Just roll around the tank?"

"Yes sir. Pull up by the Highway Patrol vehicles. They'll process you through."


The trucks had blocked my view of the actual roadblock. It wasn't a quickly thrown up affair. This had been here for awhile. Then Ohio had been the first state to charge a toll to out of staters just to drive down their roads back when states were trying to fill the holes in their balance sheets. I hadn't seen a Ohio state police vehicle yet.  I wasn't surprised to see they were white. Otherwise the troopers, or what ever they called them here, looked like the Virginia ones we had worked with once. Same gray uniforms, that dumb ass Smokey the Bear hat, and big guys who looked like someone broke a shovel off in their ass.  Yeah, I didn't like them. Some of them were okay once you got to know them but I had found that they often got a bit of an attitude with small town cops like I had been once. Oh well. That was then and this was now.

They had one of those mobile home/offices that construction sites had with a bunch of antennas and a generator truck next to it. There was two Highway Patrol cars, a HUMVEE with no gun on the mount, and a couple of trucks pulled in front. I told Zane "Betcha desert they call that the command center."

"Hah! No way. No bet G. That's what it is."

The choke point had the civilians set up on the side I was on.  In the middle of the Interstate the military had setup, they had their own spiffy trailers, and another Abrams. I could see a gunship coming in low about two miles away and maybe a mile off the Interstate. That was interesting.  The far side had more prefab buildings but these had bars on the windows and more soldiers who looked alert .  This was more than a stop and stare. It was a processing center of some sort and it was far more fancier than anything I had seen even in DC.  The American flag was run up and flanked by what had to be the Ohio state flag and another flag that I had never seen before.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 13b - by Nova

You ready to roll?"

"Sure. What about Woof?"

"He's coming. I want to pull ahead about ten feet so when I drop the gate for him I don't step in anything."

I pulled up, shifted into Park, got out, and dropped the gate. "Get in Woof." He jumped into the back, wagged his tail, and curled up in the back. Nap time I guess. 

 The country here was pretty damn flat.  The horizon looked further away than what I was used to and the dirt looked better.  People liked painting everything white too.  White houses. White barns. Somebody needed to clue them in that barns are supposed to be red. 

Chenoweth Ohio was on the map but as best as I could tell it was one crappy looking house painted white and an intersection with another two lane road.  We rolled down it a bit and I could see the Interstate but I couldn't find an on ramp.  Why? Because there wasn't one.  I had read the paper map wrong.  I checked the GPS and it didn't show a ramp either. I turned it off and muttered "Smart ass machines." 

"Something a matter G?"

"Not when you got 4-wheel drive."

I saw where someone else, maybe a few someone else's, had run into the same problem.  Sitting up high in the cab it was pretty easy to see that someone else had done it before.  It turned out to be no big deal except for Woof who fell over in the back when I took the ditch.  We were on Interstate now and it looked clean to the horizon.  I grinned and put my foot into it.  Time to go home.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 13a - by Nova

Woof was cracking bones in the back and the noise he made was doing it was getting on my nerves.  I turned the radio up a little bit to drown him out, then opened the cab door and climbed into the back of the crew cab slamming the door behind me.

I started going through the contents of the back seat hoping for more goodies.  I found dirty laundry, a used condom which I left for Woof, a surplus .50 caliber ammo can that had boxes of 9mm and .223 ammo, a lot of MRE wrappers, and a laptop covered with dog slobber. 

"Can I turn down the radio G?"

"Yeah. Just tell your damn dog to chew his food a little quieter." 

The radio volume went down and so did Zanes window. "Hey Woof! Stopping making so much noise eating!"  I heard the window go back up and Zane told me "I don't think he is listening to me right now."

"Dogs are like that kid."  I handed him the laptop "Here. Put this upfront by your feet with their cell phones. Better yet. See if you get it to boot up."

I passed him the laptop and decided I had found everything that was anything.  I opened the cab door and tossed most of the trash and the dirty clothes out and climbed back into the drivers seat.  

I turned off the radio. It was annoying me. I reached across Zane and opened the glove compartment.  A miracle! An actual paper road map! And another handgun. This one was a Taurus 9mm. The rest of the papers were old inspection slips and the owners manual.  I had half halfheartedly hoped for something with some sugar in it but no such luck. 

"Any luck with the laptop?"

"No G. It's got a password when you start it up."

"Chuck it out the window."


"Truly. Plus toss them cell phones with it."

He looked at me, saw I wasn't kidding, rolled down his window, and started tossing stuff.   

I unfolded the map and liked what I saw.  We were a couple miles from Chenoweth and Chenoweth was nothing but a ramp on to I-71.  From there it looked like a straight shot down to Louisville and then west on I-64 for a bit. My guess was somewhere around here I would find the Horde or start picking up on their location.  Max had wanted to head this way to avoid the big cities and Zones. Then once he got past Louisville the Horde was going to head towards Springfield Missouri.  The country got a lot bigger from Springfield on acording to Max and the map he had shown me. Max told me St. Louis was considered the gateway to the West but we weren't going west. We were headed north and the terrain was supposed to be a lot easier, at least to the Great Plains.  That, from the way Max said it, was going to be the real bitch.  I had never seen this part of the world and I was looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 13 - by Nova

Listening to the radio was always interesting. Once upon a time I had music being pumped directly into my ear for most of my waking hours. Now, each time I heard it I found it was like running into a beautiful woman in the street. Why? Because it was startling, it took my breath away, and it was just as quickly gone. I rarely had the time to listen, let alone find a station that played anything I liked. I sure as hell couldn't plug a pair of pair of buds in my ears and lose my awareness of the world around me.

This was something different. It sounded classical, which I had next to no knowledge of, but it fit with the day so far and I liked it. A woman's voice, very tasteful sounding, like she used to sell Mercedes Benz's or timeshares said "That was the Theme of the Fast Carriers from the Victory at Sea soundtrack. From a time, not all that long ago, when the US Navy ruled the Pacific, and a reminder to all my listeners that what once was will be again. Your sacrifices will not be in vain and your children will speak in awe of what we will accomplish together. Now for the news. Internationally the United States of America regrets the action of the Chinese government in recognizing the Peoples Republic of Aztlan. The federal government has authorized the building of the first of a new class of multi-use drone platforms for deployment in the Pacific.  This platform was designed by the citizens of Zone 35NW in the great State of Washington. A State were ninety percent of the population has returned to the Homeland and is reaping the benefits in an increased standard of living, security, and the freedoms granted to our citizens by the Constitution of the United States of America.

While she continued babbling about places I had never been and would never go I went through my wins to see how well I had done.  The day had started off well and was just getting better. The money belts, each one of them had been wearing the same type, made me very well off. Night would be delighted. That woman loved gold.  I could care less about gold but this was enough that I would be reaping the benefits for many days and nights as a result of filling her hands with it. The sidearms were all 9mm Glocks. Just out of curiosity I checked the serial numbers. They were almost consecutive.  Glocks were unusual. Word during dinner was the United States was going to slap tariffs on all foreign gun makers in order to encourage local manufacturing.  One of my class had been talking about wanting to work in nextgen weapons design. Apparently the Ohio area was where the government wanted to build the next generation of small arms for light infantry, drug cartels, and Deutsche mark rich countries.  The dollar was no longer king, hell, it wasn't even in the ranks of nobility now. Life, being the ironic bitch that she often was, had probably smiled to see the Deutsche Mark, along with a couple of other currencies, fill the role the dollar once held.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 12d - by Nova

I had liked how heavy Sledges belt was. The zipper on the other side was a tip off too. I left the body armor and weapons in the back and gathered up the wallets, spare change, knives, cell phones, and swept them into my bag. 

"Get in the truck Zane. I'm going to let Woof out."

"He won't hurt me!"

"Yeah. I know. You don't want to be a speed bump for him either. Now get your ass in the truck."

I tossed my bag in the front seat and let Woof out. He didn't bound out or go racing to the back of the truck. He did the bare minimum leap needed to land away from the truck cab, looked at me with doggie disdain, and strolled to the back of the truck. I called after him "Stay classy Woof!" climbed in, started the engine and the a/c, and rolled up the windows. I thought of myself as fairly hard core but listening to Woof dine wasn't something I enjoyed listening to.

I turned on the radio and the GPS.  Yeah, I knew I was broadcasting my whereabouts. The vehicle, the sat phone, hell, my underwear may have been tagged. I didn't really care at this point. They knew who I was and I knew who they were. I didn't plan on disappearing until I was a lot closer to my goal. Why get people worried?  I needed to make time.  If I did this right the last thirty miles would take the longest. I knew they would feel the longest.

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 12c - by Nova

We cruised for about thirty minutes before I pulled over. I wanted to put some distance between us and the base. No use rubbing it in their faces but I was also aware the meat was spoiling. I had at least a couple of hours before rigor mortis set in but I figured Woof, fuzz brain that he was, deserved a fresh meal. Plus the longer you waited the harder and nastier it was to strip a body. I saw a turn off into a field, took it, and then pulled off the road under a clump of mature oak trees. I told Zane "Don't let Woof out yet" and stepped down out of the cab. Zane yelled after me "Can I come?"


I dropped the tailgate, grabbed Sledge by his feet and walked backwards until he dropped. I looked over at Zane and said "Oops."  He thought that was funny. I liked that. The kid had a good sense of humor.

"I don't think he felt it G."

"Naw. I don't think so either. Pull his boots off, shake them, and look for hidden treasure."

"Do I have to? I bet his feet stink."

"You like eating?"


"Then do it."

I took off his vest and weapon and set them to one side. I tossed his wallet next to the pile and went through his pockets and found nothing remarkable except for a rabbits foot.  "See this?"


"Never carry one" and tossed it over my shoulder.


"There's no such thing as lucky charms. You're good until you aren't.

He didn't say anything after that. I left him with his pants and t-shirt on but I made sure to take his belt.

"You're not going to take all his clothes off are you G?"



I had walked Greasy Ink off the truck and Zane was wrestling with getting his cowboy boots off. I was going to tell him that I thought it was better not to strip a man of his last shreds of dignity but that was bullshit with this bunch and I would have been lying anyway so instead I told him "They're going to be breakfast burritos for Woof and we need to leave some kind of wrapping on to hold the gutsies in for him."

He went a little pale but he didn't stop trying to get the last boot off of Greasy Ink.

Happy New Years All!