Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 2a - by nova

Cruz went ahead of us yelling "Make a hole! Make a hole people!" They began to move, saw it was me and Ninja and moved a little quicker. A quick thought, "Man, I love this shit" went through my head. By that I mean people getting out of my way. I wonder what Ninj thought about it or if even did. When I was an IT drone as I was damn near invisible at work unless someone wanted something from me. I bet being an Asian back then, even as a kid, was the same way.

My guy, Thompson, was standing there, doing what he did best which was look good. He was trying to project charm, contriteness, and boyish innocence.Thompson was a good looking guy, and I tried not to hate him for it. He looked a lot like an aging action hero from one of those big budget, special effect laden movies that were popular once. He was also borderline worthless, a bit of a bully when he thought he could get away with it, and a magnet for woman who only thrived in abusive relationships.

I could tell by looking at him he thought he was going to be able to charm his way out of this. Probably because he was our first thief and we hadn't set a penalty for it yet. I knew there had been some borderline incidents but they were petty and handled at the squad level. This wasn't going to be.

Everyone had shown up for this. I saw Max talking to Freya while Night was listening intently to something Shelli was telling her. She saw me, smiled, and went back to listening. I grinned at her, damn, she was striking when I met her but she had become pure beautiful somewhere along the line. I refocused and headed for Max nodding at people who caught my eye along the way.

The aggrieved party, Statler, was standing about fifteen paces behind Max and Freya. I didn't know him by name but I recognized him. I would have known he was the complainant just by the way he was glaring at Thompson. I took note that he had his squad behind him while Thompson only had a woman I recognized from the dungeon where I had found Carol. I hadn't seen her yet but I knew she and Zane had to be around here somewhere.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On Guns

Most people reading here own a gun or five. Everyone usually has strong opinions on them. Entire blogs and forums are dedicated to them. I got my "Cheaper Than Dirt" catalog and once again I was struck by the theme of tactical black plastic.

So here are some of my random thoughts on guns, a slow crash, and life.

1. How many people have spent any time reading what their county/state considers legitimate self defense? My guess is very little. Why is that a big deal? If you believe in a slow crash than you will have functioning law enforcement. Even back in the Wild West days you couldn't just shoot someone because they scared you. Learn your local laws. You do not want to get sucked into the gears of a failing system.

Scenario A

Times are getting hard and ugly. Property crime is up. Violence is up. There is the smell of smoke in the air. So what are you going to carry? How are you going to dress?

Do you really want to walk around looking like a Paladin Press Commando?

"Excuse me officer but why are you stopping me?"

Maybe because you look like a nutcase. A well armed nutcase. Well armed nut case types will be frowned upon by LE. It's their job to enforce the law and preserve the public peace. If you're not on active duty but try to look like it than you are a threat.

How are you going to perceived in an urban environment toting what looks like a military style automatic weapon? I don't care if you have "The Right." You don't. You will attract attention and if you don't have very good local connections a way will be found to get you off the street.Plus you are setting yourself up to be a target and get yourself put in a situation where you will have to put up or get shut down. Law enforcement used to carry "throw downs" for a reason. Here you are walking around with one hanging from a tactical sling.

Scenario B

You show up in court. What do you want the jury to see? The judge to see? Your AR-15 with the taped up double magazines? Your Kel-Tech gangster gun? Or a rifle that looks like a deer rifle. A handgun that, at the most, looks like what local LE carry.

Gardener Fall - Chapter 2 - by nova

I looked at Ninj and he shrugged. We both got up, I wasn't as fluid as Ninja was. That fucking pit bull that bit me had done some damage that, if anything, seemed worse than it had after I thought I had recovered. I saw that my stiffness hadn't gone on unnoticed by either of them and mentally made a note to be more carefully about how long I sat and to be more careful about showing it. I saw Cruz start for me like he was going to offer me a hand. I blew him off with a glare and a snarled "What's up Cruz?"

"We caught a thief. They have him down by the church."

We were moving and I asked him "Anyone I know?"

"Yeah...well maybe. He's from your company and he got caught with one of Ninja's guys gold."

I heard Ninja mutter "Shit."

I laughed. "Let me guess. Was it Thompson?"

Cruz answered me "Yeah. You got it. Fucking lightweight."

"Who was he caught stealing from?" Ninja asked.


"Statler? I'm surprised him and his buddies didn't drag his ass off into the woods and kill him."

We were approaching the church and I could see a crowd gathered. Even little spats and BS disputes drew a crowd these days. We were starved for entertainment.

Cruz's reply was "He would have if he had thought about it before making so much noise."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 1c - by nova

We had both decided to take a break from life and the duties that came with. Plus Ninja wanted to hear about my adventures in the Zone, a lot of people did I found. It wasn't because they wanted to know about what I had done, I figured that out fairly quickly, no, it was the idea that America might be still out there is what they wanted to hear about.

Their questions were a lot different than Nights. She wanted data. They wanted, and couldn't get enough of the cut grass, facebook for the missing, and job training. Their eyes shone and the quick significant glances shot between couples told me a lot. I understood too. Who the hell wants to spend their lives camping out in houses that had seen better times? Let alone worrying about getting shot, stabbed, or eaten.

"Hey Ninj. You think I should quit telling people the good parts of the Zone?"

He thought about it, shook his head, then told me "It sounds good in a way. It also sounds, I don't know, creepy. Like, I would be always waiting for the weirdness to come out of hiding."

He paused, then added, "I wouldn't mind, you know, checking it out for a couple days." He grinned, "Plus it would be nice to meet some new women."

"You already run though all we have?"

"Yep." That was said with no little pride. What he said next was mixed with a bit of sadness, There really isn't that many that aren't taken or nuts. We got some real nut jobs G. A lot of them saw or experienced shit that they may never get over."

"Yeah. I know."

I did too. I had already noticed that the more damaged they were the more likely they were to be found around Carol. She had a start on creating another shelter inside of our shelter.

"How long we been gone bro?"

Ninja squinted the sun, "Maybe two hours."

"You don't find that weird?"

"You mean that no one has come looking for us?"


"Naw. I told Cruz I wanted us to be left alone for a bit."

"He knows what a "bit" is?"

"Yeah. That's how long I take when me, and who ever, slip away."

I thought about that one. If Cruz even looked at me funny later me and him were going to talk. Ninj was oblivious as usual. So I told him "That's nice. I'm surprised you and 'who ever' can find enough to talk about for an hour and forty five minutes." It took a minute but he processed it and threw the twig he had been gnawing on at me along with a 'fuck you G!'

We both grinned at each other. It was good to be back.

About then we heard Master Sergeant Cruz say "Excuse me gentlemen but you are needed at the church."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 1b - by nova

"Yeah. There's that." I left it at that.

He looked off into the distance and told me "This place is going to really suck come winter. Thank god they got us doing recon and scavenging. I bet it will still be too fucking cold for too long."

"Yep. Not as bad as being stuck out in the middle of the Great Plains or arriving in Montana in the middle of winter."

Ninja had given up on the knife tossing and was shaving the bark of a twig he had found. "So you believe Montana gets as much snow as they been saying?"

I sighed, "I hope not. What have you been hearing?"

"Ten feet. Most of it staying on the ground and more up in the passes. What ever the hell a pass is."

"Freya said it's less where we're going. Maybe two or three feet on the ground. A pass is some kind of low spot between mountains where you can get through without freezing your ass off I think."

Ninja had cut a point on the twig and was using it as a toothpick. While he was doing that he said "FruckinGazerBark. Itj zonds kalt."

I shook my head and told him, "Take the toothpick out when you talk you moron."

He spit it out wincing "Damn. We need a dentist. I said Glacier National Park, even the name sounds cold."

"Yeah. You forgot to factor in global warming. It will only be cold six months out of the year instead of nine."

"Riiighht." Then he looked at me and starting laughing. I joined him. We both knew it was probably going to be cold as hell most of the time. We were following a Nordic goddess wannabe around. Snow and cold was where they hung out so it made sense to me that I was going to be freezing my ass off. If Night was happy with it than I was going to be happy with it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 1a - by nova

"Hey Ninj."
"Yeah G."
"You ever heard a song that went like this?" I semi sang it to him, "If God is a bullet have mercy on us everyone."

Ninja was sitting sitting cross legged on the ground tossing his knife up in the air and hoping it would stick point first when it came down. It was, but not that often. It didn't seem to bother him when it didn't.

He shook his head and said "Can't say I have. When did it come out?"

That was a good question and one I didn't have an answer too. Music from back then, at least in my head, had drifted loose from its mooring of time and dates. It was just from "Then" and then was a time that was becoming more and more like a movie or dream that I could only half remember and even those parts I did recall were often pointless.

I had one of my Rugers in my lap and had the cylinder open and was spinning it. The rounds for it were in my lap. If you asked me what I was doing I would have told you "checking primers." The reality was I thought each .357 round was beautiful. The brass, the bullet at the tip, they were my diamonds and gold coins. I loved looking at them.

"I think it was in the early 1990's."

Ninj laughed "Shit G. That's ancient. Probably a Beatles thing. Ask Chief. He knows lots of old stuff."

We sat their in silence for a bit. It was good. Then he asked me, "Why? What brought this up? If you found a working iPod that's something you need to share."

"Naw. I doubt if there is more than three left in camp that work. If you really want one ask Night. She knows what everyone owns down to the amount lint in their pockets."

We both laughed. She did too. We both knew it was true.

He went silent and I knew Ninj. He still wanted to know why I brought it up. So I told him. "I had this dream, that song was playing in the background or maybe just in my head, I was standing in front of people I think. They were not happy with me and I was not happy with them." I paused to look at him. He had quit tossing the knife and was listening. I flipped one of my rounds at them and said "Here is the only god that's listening." I stopped talking.

Ninja waited a bit, then said "Yeah?"

"I don't know but it was important and it felt real."

He tossed his knife up in the air. We both watched it bounce grip first off the ground. He shook his head, and said "Did you kill them?"

"I don't know." I didn't know either.

"Damn G. It can't be a big deal then. Usually you kill them."

American Apocalypse IV and a Question for You

American Apocalypse IV should be showing up on Amazon in the next few days in Kindle and paper. I have to do the smashwords version next. Also Diary of a Serial Killer is on Amazon in Kindle. The paper version I am still working on.

Thanks Chile for your help!

This is the cover:

Thank you all for reading it as I wrote and your comments.

The question?

I am slightly jammed up. I have Homecoming started but I have a Gardener story knocking inside my head. Since y'all are really seeing what I write before everyone else, I may skip somewhat ahead a bit. This will be a standalone Gardener story set a few months after AA IV. There might be some continuity problems but no spoilers. What do you think?

My other problem is some unfinished books and edits. The problem is I want to write a Gardener story. Before you say "You never finish anything" check out what I have produced.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Homecoming - Chapter 1b

The problem was while we were buying all this stuff and refinancing the house every time the interest rate dropped 1% was how unreal it felt to me. It just didn't feel right. I talked to your mom about and she said it was silly. She said, a lot of people said it too, that housing was going to keep going up and the economy was booming.

I couldn't let go of it. So I guess I mentioned it too much. Your mom got real mad and said it was because I grew up poor and didn't know, or appreciate, the good life. Like she knew. Her parents only owned one new car in their life.

I read what I wrote above later and erased some of it. I will work on keeping my bad thoughts about your mom out of this story and stick to the facts. I have lots of bad thoughts these days. I try and and not listen to them but they make sense. Sometimes they are the only thing that makes sense. I am working on my anger issues too. I want to see you again but I am increasingly realizing that isn't going to happen.

I suppose I should let you know that I have started drinking a bit more. I was always pretty good about that when you were a kid but there doesn't seem much point in it anymore. Plus, out here it makes me feel better about being me and my life.

I have also made new friends and they all drink and some do a lot more. I stay away from them. They are crazy. I see it in their eyes. Always watch the eyes kiddo. People can hide bad thoughts behind their face but they always peak out from inside their eyes.

On Gardener and How Good He Is

I have read a few comments about how impossibly good Gardener is with a gun. No one could be that good. This is who I partially modeled him on. Bill Jordan was not only good but he used his skill in the line of duty.

The first reaction to Jordan’s gun work is amazement at his speed. A pin pong is held on the back of his gun hand, the palm hovering six inches above his holstered gun butt. The hand moves, the Smith & Wesson is drawn and fired, and the ball rests inside the holster, displacing the revolver after a travel of less than a foot. For encores, the stunt is started from the same point, but this time the sixgun is drawn, then poked forward , the muzzle striking the falling ball and propelling it forward like the serve of a table tennis ace. Bill claims that his speed is not a big factor in these exercises. The hard part, if you would believe him, is to hit the holster with the ping pong ball.

The Jordan speed is a matter of record. The Robot Dueller, an electronic tester of gunsharks skills, has recorded Bill’s time for draw-and-hit at .27 of a second. A similar device, the McAvoy timer, marked him at .28 of a second. Both instruments include the reaction time of the shooter, who draws only after a signal is given, in the total score.

More startling than his quickness is the fantastic accuracy that attends Bill’s hipshooting sessions. After a bit of kidding around with 12” balloons and aluminum baking tins, he settles down to the real meat of his routine. Two-inch wafers, sliced from a cedar pole, are zapped calmly with quick hipshots. The range is 10 feet – good shooting, but nothing you would stomp your feet and whistle about. Next comes a line of Necco candy wafers, which are smaller and shatter in pleasing fashion. Bill’s guests nudge their drowsy neighbors awake as he blasts Lifesaver mints with quick hipshots, and everyone is muttering in awe when he reaches the finale, unerringly obliterating aspirin tablets with his Magnum held at waist level. Worried that the folks were getting blasé, Willie has added a new target to the series. He now finishes by centering a saccharin tablet with a wax bullet.

Post Apocalypse Doom by Another Writer - I like this setting

This is by someone who writes as "Raptor." He writes pretty good stuff.

A sample:

Chapter 1

“Paradise, Pennsylvania!” The conductor’s voice came scratching through the coach’s PA system. “Paradise Pennsylvania is next! This is the connection to the Paradise, Lancaster, and Western Railroad. Passengers heading for Leaman Place, Strasburg, Pequea, Millersville, Lancaster, and points west must change trains here. Paradise, Pennsylvania is next. Paradise, Pennsylvania!”

The PA system had barely switched off when Callahan rose from his seat, and in one smooth motion pulled his oversized backpack from the overhead luggage rack, shouldered it, pulled his duffel bag down from the rack, and stepped into the aisle. The tall, lanky-looking man set the duffel down just long enough to pluck his much-loved tan boonie hat from the aisle seat and pace it atop his head, then maneuvered his way towards the doors at the end of the coach.

Save for the relative dearth of passengers, at first glance the Pennsylvanian looked as it might have before the war. The service was not, nor had it ever been the Pennsylvania Railroad’s flagship service – that honor went now, as before, to the legendary Broadway Limited – but that didn’t mean it wasn’t respectable. Streamlined First Class coach service running every weekday between Pittsburg, Harrisburg and, King of Prussia, a distance of about 300 miles, was no mean feat, especially in these times.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homecoming - Chapter 1a - by Nova

We were too. Is was nice. I liked it. Me and your mom never got along so well.

Do you remember your birthday party? We had a pony? You didn't like it. You said it scared you. Your mom got so mad at you but I understood. He was an evil little pony that bit your friend Brittany. Boy did she cry. It was just a nip and didn't even draw blood. That turned out to be a good thing. If Dumpling had drawn blood Brittanies asshole father would have sued us for sure.

I wonder about that kid. I was glad when she quit coming around. No seven year old should look like that. I mean, WTF? She was wearing makeup and dressing like her tramp stamped mom. She is probably living somewhere nice and has good ponies that come whenever she calls. That's how the world works kid.

There for awhile every time I checked my email there was a message from your mom with attachments. Photos of clothes and stuff for the house. I almost ended up in mail jail because of it. She has good taste your mom does. Plus I was getting stuff too. I even got a man cave!

It's weird when I think about it. You know, all the must haves we had to have. What was even weirder was how the list of them kept growing. We had to have a pool; a man cave; a office for your mom. the entertainment room with the big TV. Then came the upgrades.

That's another thing. I loved my big TV. Watching the Redskins play on that screen was like being there. Yet they kept making bigger and better televisions. It got so no one even called them televisions anymore. If you did, and I did until I learned not to, people gave you that "look." You know, the one where they kind of tilt their eyes down, their lip goes up,and they get that funny sparkle in their eyes? It means you just farted a stinker word. You had to call them "flat panels." People in trailer parks had TV's.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Homecoming - Chapter One

Some of you will recognize this. I have no idea where it's going.

I had a good life once. Now, I don't know what I have. A circus? A nightmare? I just don't know. When things started going bad it didn't seem like a big deal at the time. You know, it was just another day in the life kind of thing. A bad day is a bad day but life is like that. 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, stay positive, 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 she won't 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 has to start somewhere. I know all stories need a beginning. 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 on my story. You would be proud of your dad.

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 seemed to like it. I liked it. Your Mom? Not so much. It was too small. I was okay with that. She wasn't.

As you got older she went for the heart. I started hearing about how the school district was not the best. We had to move for you so you would have a future. She would say that, smile, an add quietly "You do want her to have a future don't you? Or do you want her want her to be like the rest of your family?" By the time she hit "your family" her voice had risen to a notch below a scream. Well, I wanted you to have a future. What else could I say? So we started looking for a new place to live.

We looked for awhile and while we did prices had kept going up and up. The problem, for me, was the prices they wanted. I couldn't see how we could put a twenty percent down payment. We would be broke and still have problems covering the monthly payment on top of that. What puzzled me was how everyone else was doing it. They were too. Everyone was moving into houses that were huge but us. Everyone had new cars, fancy televisions, and were going to Europe. The world had won the lottery and we had never even knew that there was one let alone bought a ticket.

Your Mom's best friend, Shasta, was a brand new 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.

So Shasta clued your Mom in on the facts of real estate life and together they ambushed me when I came home from work. Your Mom had been really sweet on the phone to me that day. It was nice. I expected, well, you can fill in the blank when you get older, but I was in a good mood when I pulled on to our street and started looking for parking. That was over when I saw Shasta's brand new Mercedes SUV parked where I usually did.

I liked Shasta but I didn't at the same time. You probably know what I mean or will eventually. She was a good looking woman who wore to much makeup, had impossibly white teeth, did you know people get their teeth painted!, and reminded me of a lizard. I don't know why. She didn't look lizardly but that's how I saw her. Sometimes I caught her watching me and her eyes, well, that was probably why, they had nothing in them and I swear I saw her tongue flick out. It was red and pointed. If your Mom still sees her you need to be careful around her. She is bad. Very, very bad.

Anyways I come in the house trying not to show my irritation about having to park almost a block away and your Mom was dressed in all black. She looked beautiful. Shasta, the lizard lady was dressed up too but she always was. Even her casual clothes were dressy. Your Mom got up to greet me smiling her happy smile, handed me a drink, and kissed me.

"What's the occasion?"

"Shasta has very good news for us."

This was followed by more of the happy smile. I took a deep drink of what Sandy had handed me. She had not stinted on the alcohol. I hardly drink and it went down warm and landed like sunshine in my tummy. The after taste made me grimace but that always happens.

She took me by the hand and we went over to the sofa. There were a bunch of papers spread out on the coffee table with pictures of nice houses and a calculator in front of Shasta. Not a good sign I thought.
Honey. Shasta says we can afford the house of our dreams!"

She had greeted me with a smile but now Shasta decided to be talkative. Her voice even changed. I had to try real hard not to smile. She was being businesslike. I took another drink, settled back, and looked over at Sandy. She smiled at me and winked.

Shasta started off with a big smile and said "I'm so glad I can help you two! I've done some research and I am so happy to tell you that you qualify for at least $800,000 dollars and ..." She went to a dramatic pause, made eye contact with both of us, smiled even wider than I thought possible, lizard people have stretchy faces,and told us "I did some research. The days of twenty percent down are soooo over you guys. I can get you in a house like this Michael" she handed me one of the brochures, "new construction too, for around $3,200 a month on a five year ARM. We can ..." I cut her off by asking "What is an ARM? I mean I know what an arm is but...?" I laughed. No one else did. I watched Shasta's eyes flick Sandy. A cue she didn't hesitate to go with. Her hand landed on my thigh as she twisted on the sofa to share the good news with me.

"Mikey. We're talking our dream house. We can do this!"

I knew I was being an asshole but sometimes I get stubborn about stuff. "I want to know what this ARM is."

The look in your mothers eyes confirmed I was being an asshole but I still looked at Shasta waiting for an answer. She waved her hand dismissively in the air and told me "It's a loan that resets after five years to a higher interest rate. It's no big deal as your house will be worth a lot more. You can sell it, buy another one, and still have money left over. I mean, seriously, housing prices aren't going down but interest rates are." She giggled and Sandy joined in at the absurdity of that idea.

"No really Mike." Shasta was boring in with her sincerity levels maxed. She leaned forward and I tried not to get distracted. Men are bad sometimes. Even dads. "I wouldn't do you too wrong. This is a great deal because we'll go in with zero down and roll the closing costs into the loan. If we have to we can get another loan for the down but I have some lenders who should be able to do this deal with no problem. In fact I am positive we can get the developer of the home you're looking at to take care of the financing end."

Sandy had the brochure in her hand now and it was open. She pointed at one of the houses and told me, "I really want this Mikey." In many ways and times I have found myself to be a weak man. This was one of them. I just wanted her happy. Yes, it was for selfish reasons mixed with good ones. That isn't unusual I think. I knew my life would be uncomfortable if I said "No." I also knew that I wasn't going to have to say "Yes" eventually or face a possible divorce. I couldn't live with that. I didn't want to lose you. So I said the magic words and got my first reward. A passionate kiss from your Mom. That was nice. The squealing that came after it from both of them was a little too much but I understood and in a way I felt good too. We were going to be just like everyone else.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Music - Soundtrack for AA I

Not that anyone has approached me about a movie but I was thinking about what I would like on the sound track.
Stacy M. Grubb

NIN - Hurt

Stones - Oh Carol!

Golden Earring - Twilight Zone

Eagles - Certain kind of fool

Anyone have any other suggestions?

I have a few others but I am curious about what you hear.