Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Writers Block

I can not find the words like I once did. I know the stories are there -- I just can't get them to come together enough to make it to the page. One of the problems is I have to work a day job and it is becoming increasingly difficult to focus on anything else. I am getting ready to spend 25% plus of my time in training prior to doing a full data migration and network OS switch. In the IT world I have to completely retrain every 5-7 years and this, I think, will be my final major one.

Gardener and the rest of the crew have not gone away -- I hope. I used to love IT and found learning new software and hardware great fun. This time it's a struggle but one I need to do.

Thank you all very much for stopping by and reading.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What is Honor for a Warrior? Especially in a Collapse?

One of the major slams against the characters I write about is they have "no honor." I have been thinking about that and found I don't understand it. Honor, to me at least, is a code a person lives by. Since this post is in the context of a person trained and equipped to take lives, the emphasis of at least part of it will be on that.

The Honor Code itself, at least to me, has changed over time. It reflects the society as much as the religious beliefs of the people who practice it. I also believe it is an artificial construct, especially now.

Most of you know that honor, the core belief, has stayed the same throughout history. This is in the context of a tribal warrior, the only type of warrior until the rise of the nation state and the industrial age. Nationalism, and borders, are a recent invention. Chivalry, an invention that in my opinion was only given lip service, is something else entirely.

So what is "Honor?"

I believe it is simple. All who are not of your people, and that can be as small as a family group, are the enemy.

Those that are your people will be treated differently than the "Others." You have a code for your people and a code for the "Others." You can extend hospitality and small kindnesses but that is it.

Is killing quickly, and for what may seem trivial reasons the "Others", wrong? No. Not if they are armed and posing as warriors themselves. For if they choose to arm themselves than they should be expected to understand what that means.

There is no honor in killing people from afar. There is no honor in killing the unarmed. That is slaughter. That is murder. Wiping out a village from the air in a machine that was designed for just that is nothing but joining yourself with a machine. No one has value and all are targets.

Since the machines are the tools of those whose policies will bring the collapse why feel like you owe them? Why serve them? Their idea of honor is not respect for the person but rather for vague goals that enrich a few. I see no respect for others in the current concept of honor. A military formation today is a pseudo family and an attempt to manipulate by counterfeiting the warrior groups that existed for millennium.

In a post collapse scenario survival will be tribal. I doubt very seriously that in that context PTSD will be a problem. Why? Because what will be done for easily understandable reasons. We must stop these/this person because they will hurt people I care about if I don't. I am sorry, I may understand what is driving you, and I may respect your skills but my child will eat.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 4 - by nova

Two days later Ninja and I were just outside of camp on our way to run some drills with what I was calling the Scavenger Squad when we heard them. The sound sent a chill down my back. I signed my people to "Hide," and faded myself flat on the ground.

I was in the open and knew better than to run for the closest bushes. I didn't have the time and I sure as hell wasn't going to be caught running across a field by unknown helicopters. Helicopters because it sounded like more than one of them.

I popped my head up like a fucking gopher trying to simultaneously scan the horizon and check my people. Two thirds of my people had made it to some kind of reasonable concealment. The rest, including Ninja were spread out around me. I sure as hell hoped that some deranged dickhead fed hadn't designated this area as a free fire zone. It had to be the feds. No one else could still afford this kind of shit.

They went over us fast and low. The .50 gunner on the door off the big one saw us. No fire, a swooping bank as the Apache in the lead overflew the camp and then pulled up and started climbing.

I knew it was an Apache. Anyone who played online would recognize one. The little stubby wings hung with their death pods while underneath the pilots hung the 30mm canon that always reminded me of a little dick. The other helicopter was a Sea Stallion or something like it. I was remembering how much I hated these death birds as I got to my feet and yelled for Ninja.

While the Apache went high the Sea Stallion banked and came back towards us. That's when I realized it was landing and it planned on doing it damn near on top of me. I brushed myself off and signed the ones in the tree line to stay put. I wanted the rest on me. Hopefully they would understand. I doubted it. I never liked the black plastic guns but the comm stuff was great the army had was great stuff.

Ninja was next to me and staring at the Stallion which was hovering about 500 paces from us. My people were picking themselves up and running towards us from where they had taken cover. The Stallion door gunner was taking this all in. I looked at Ninja who was staring at the them, mouth open, and told him "Better close your mouth dude before you eat a stick."

"What are we going to do G?"

I checked to make sure he closed his mouth before I answered him with, "Greet them, what else?"

The door gunner who had been slowly swinging the barrel tracking people as they moved towards us let it center itself on me. I flipped him off and told the crew "Let's go see what they're selling this week."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 3a - by nova

Statler's story was short and simple. He caught him digging through his pack in the tent he shared with his current woman when they both had the time. Thompson? He turned on the charm, flashed the grin, and started talking shit. Watching him I have to admit I liked it when he realized it wasn't going to cut it with the crowd. I saw the flash of amazement but he just switched gears to contriteness and, "I'm really, really sorry." He paused after uttering that and checked the crowd. I saw the first bit of uncertainty when he realized he wasn't getting the reaction he expected. I checked the crowd too, the handful of faces I saw nodding like a bunch of bobble heads with forgiveness I filed away under, "will eat shit if the spoon is pretty enough."

He looked around. For the first time I saw fear. Only for a micro-second, You had to be standing next to him and focused on his eyes to see it as it was gone that fast. Just as fast was the blink of animal cunning I saw followed by his dropping to his knees, stretching out his arms, and with tears running down his face he sobbed, "Please! In the name of Jesus! Forgive me!" I waited a couple of beats, than I reached down, grabbed him by the collar, pulled him to his feet, and told him, "Wrong church Slick."

Max told him, "Look at me Thompson."

I assisted Tompson with his reorientation and told him "Hey. You got snot running out of your nose."
He muttered, "Fuck you Gardener" and wiped some of it away with the back of his hand. I cuffed him lightly on the back of his head and stepped back.

Max told everyone while he stared at Thompson, "Your guilt is obvious. Your groveling is a disgrace. As was your calling..."

Thompson was back on his knees again. I was beginning to wonder if he was really gay. "Please Freya! Spare me!'

Freya looked at him than looked at Max. "It is customary where I come from for a thief to get his hand cut off and then be banished from the people."

Max contemplated what she said. At the same time Thompson yelled "I'll take it!"

I was thinking if this went on much longer I was going to cut his fucking head off myself when Max stepped away from Freya. He looked at the crowd and then Thompson. I took two steps away from him. All Max said was "No." I was glad I had moved when I heard that.

Max drew his .45, shot him in the head, stepped back again and told us, "Donate his weapons and belongings to the common fund." He stood there for a couple of beats while nobody moved or said anything.

"Get back to work. Winter is coming."

I watched him walk away while Cruz began yelling at people to get moving. I headed off in the opposite direction. I know I didn't look back and I was sure Max didn't either.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 3 - by nova

We ended standing in front of Max and Freya with Statler and Ninja about ten paces away on my left. Everyone else was gathered around us in a half moon with Night and the cadre on my right. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Carol standing in back. Zane and Woof weren't around. Not a surprise. The boy had taken to disappearing for hours with Woof and the girls from the house. Probably hunting lost travelers was my guess.

Max was standing there with his arms crossed and staring a hole into my client while Freya looked bored. We all stood there for a couple of minutes. Long enough that Thompson, with his fidgeting and repeated turning to look at the crowd for support, was getting on my nerves. Max definitely had our attention when he finally decided to get the show on the road.

He told the assembled multitude, "One of our people has been caught stealing from his own people." He paused here, swept the crowd with his eyes and then focused back on Thompson. He continued, "Not out of personal need. That would be wrong but different. A failure of communication because we always take care of our own and everyone of you needs to believe that or be gone. No one goes hungry. No one. No.One. Gets. Left. Behind." I didn't have to turn around to know that heads were nodding by now.

Max had uncrossed his arms, he pointed at Thompson and told us "We can not tolerate theft for personal gain. Any journey down that road ends in a place where the lights go off and we end as strangers tearing at each other to survive the darkness. I know what happened. Because of the seriousness of the crime, and because we are family, I want all of you to know what happened. Statler tell us what brings you here."

Statler, after being prompted by Ninja to turn and face the crowd, told what happened. Thompson had been caught red handed going through Statlers personal effects. All he taken was the gold that it was Statlers responsibility to safeguard for his platoon. Usually that wouldn't be that much as individuals kept their personal kills belongings and than gave to whoever they felt like.

An entire honor system was evolving around that practice with unspoken rules. No one kept everything from a kill. That had become taboo. Instead there was more public honor and respect gained by giving away. Of course if you came across gold and jewelry you hung on to most of it. Especially if you had a woman. Hell, that's what helped you get one.

You also cemented ties with your platoon by giving weapons or other goodies to those who needed it or you personally liked. The rest was given to Shelli to be given to newcomers and to those in the larger group who may be in need. Only lately had the practice of giving a small amount to the platoon or squad leader begun. He or she held it with the expectation that should their group decide to buy something it would be funded from that. If we ever came across a town with functioning bars I expected most of it to disappear into a happy bar owners purse. Statlers squad was good and lucky. They had been rich as a group. I was surprised by how much they had managed to squirrel away.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 2d - by nova

"You got lucky Thompson. I'm your lawyer." He didn't seem pleased. In fact he went pale. I laughed. "C'mon," I told him. "Lets go see the Judge."

"You got to be shitting me. Max is the Judge?"


He went paler. I grinned at his reaction and said, "C'mon pale face. The Chief is waiting." He didn't get it. Instead of yukking it up with me he looked like he wanted to run.

"Bad idea. You can run but you wont get far. Plus your innocent. What can go wrong?"

He looked at me and tried to grin. He couldn't quite pull it off. Even with the great teeth it looked like the rictus of a man dying in great pain. An appropriate response, just a little early.

Character List for AA Books AA 1 to AA 3


Thanks K!!!

Living Characters
Carol Morton
Sgt. Max Whelan
The Colonel
Murphy (Max's friend in Col's compound)
General Rupert J. Jones
Valerie, 9 and Mist, 7 (surviving twins from basement cannibal meat locker in retaking of Meadow Mills)
Josh, 20s (of ragtag group @ police station in retaking of Meadow Mills)
Ben, 35-40 (same as above; frmr strip mall architect)
Shane, 40s (same as above)
Jimmy (soldier on duty @ Meadow Mills police station)
Shayla (notably competent niece of Chief Rogers, see Survival Unknown Characters,*III*)
Zane Morton
Mrs. Greene (secretary @ Junior Warfighter School)
Mr. Lowell (principal? @ Junior Warfighter School)
Cameron (small village heir apparent)
Sheriff Smiley (@ diner inside Zone)
Charlene (secretary @ Zone Acclimation Center)
Mr. Freeman (kennel keeper @ Zone Acclimation Center)
Mr. Langer (G's acclimation class teacher)
Sherri (feisty Latino woman raped @ Zone Acclimation Center)
Pockmark (a.k.a. PFC Stark)
FED Deputy Marshall Lee
Lt. Grayson
Marshall Kelly
Mjr General Richards
Juan (gay Latino witness to body dump)

Deceased Characters
Shaun (G's first teacher) Decapitated by a whore
The Fat Man (pedophile in the woods) Gutted by G w/a gardening spade
Jackson (missing girl/Regina's boyfriend) Decapitated by G
Chief Grier (of Fairfax City) Skirmish w/Max and G
Patrol Sgt Willis (Fairfax) Skirmish w/Max and G
Tommy (Meadow Mills) Impaled and burned on top of farmhouse
Donna Unknown
Tommy's children Boy's head bashed in, girl unknown
Corporal Jane Singer (tank operator) Raid on Anchorage Hotel
Jake (Carol's 1st husband/Medic) Shot by G
McKinley family (mom, pop, 2 boys; Tommy's unwieldy neighbors) Ambushed by G and Max
Edna Jacobson (sharp elderly lady in Meadow Mills) Assumed killed in horde overrun of Meadow Mills
Gunny (ran armory in Meadow Mills) Skirmish w/Sheriff of Meadow Mills
Sheriff of Meadow Mills Skirmish w/Max and G
Faith Weiss (oldest person in Meadow Mills) Assumed killed in horde overrun of Meadow Mills
Kathy Lynn Frisbee (privileged cannibal of children) Hugged and stabbed in the back w/bayonet by G
Jefferson (ret. VA statie) Shot in rush on Meadow Mills police station
Dalton (FED) Eaten by Woof
Major Hollister (1st man in charge of town next to Meadow Mills during horde) Self-inflicted head wound
Brother Tom ("Christian" asshole) Decapitated by G
Elder Bob ("Christian" asshole) Shot by G
Kyle (Carol's youngest son) Unknown
Brother Roger (one of Meadow Mills' inhabitants post Max and G) G and his sword
Brother Al (same as above) G and his sword
"the Captain" (small village leader) Shot in ambush by Col's minions
Sledge (Zone Acclimation Center degenerate) Shot in face by G
Greasy Ink (same as above) Shot in face by G
Jesus (gay Latino) Throat ripped out by Woof

Survival Unknown Characters
Regina (missing girl, Fairfax City)
Tito (security officer @ Carol's shelter)
Martina (Latino vixen @ Col's compound)
Lucas (punk @ Library, Meadow Mills)
Rachel (sister/cousin to Diesel & Hawk, below)
Dakota (black Marine friend of Max's on trail from Fairfax to Meadow Mills)
Gillian "Gil" Rogers (mouthy asshole in diner)
Old Guy (work hungry vet)
The Pastor (of Meadow Mills)
Casey & "Bunker Busters": Glenda, Jonsey, Merle, Chad, Darlene, +1 unnamed female
"Big Daddy" (Casey's father)
Grace (herbalist)
Darkness (a.k.a. "Zit")
Junior (slow & frmr Marine) & Bill (toll booth operators, Meadow Mills)
Sarah Weiss (granddaughter of oldest person in Meadow Mills, Faith Weiss)
Eddie (original contact on Community Policing and Freedom Assistance package)
Denise from NJ (burner friend of Shelli's)
Brad from OK (burner friend of Shelli's)
Lenny (defacto militia leader)
Roger and Don (suspicious "good samaritans" who find G in woods outside Meadow Mills after his break)
Chief Rogers (Meadow Mills)
Junior (Chief Rogers' "running buddy")
Captain Scyuler (Mjr Hollister's successor, see Deceased Characters)
Phil & Bettina (helpful older survivors in Ohio)
Jose (another black Marine friend of Max's)
Ricky (Marine)
Loco (Marine)

Monday, May 2, 2011

AA II - News

Ulysses Press just let me know that AA II got a big pre-order from the company that owns all/most/some of the bookstores in the airports. The problem, if you want to call it that, is Ulysses wants my edits to their edits done by next Monday. So Gardener Fall might be getting slower posts for a week. I leave for a week in CA tomorrow on business too.

EDIT: Thank you all for your kind words and support for with out them there would have been no AA series.

No San Francisco for me. We will be in S. California.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gardener Fall - Chapter 2c - by nova

"Okay Thompson" I told him, "It's showtime."

"Hi G!" He smiled brightly. How the hell he managed keep his teeth so white was beyond me. "Its not like you think. I was..."

"Save it."

That's when his woman started screaming at me "Not you! You're going to kill him. That's all you do!" She was in my face now and whatever she had in the way of looks going for her were gone. Buried in her rage and anger. She looked like a homeless woman screaming in a restaurant window at the people who were eating her dinner.

"You kill like it is nothing! You're a freak! You should be on trial here.." That's when Night came up behind her, grabbed a fistful of hair and jerked her backwards while kicking her behind the knee joint and folding her leg under her.

Night had her fillet knife out, the sharp side of the blade under the woman's nose. She didn't mutter or yell. Instead she said quietly but loud enough to be heard by everyone "Say another word and I cut off your nose. Say two and I cut your throat. Nod if you understand me."

The woman nodded. Night didn't move the blade so the woman cut her nose doing it. She didn't say "Ouch" though. She just looked up at me and I watched as the anger drained from her face to be replaced by fear, intense sadness, and a woman ten years older for a span of a second or two before she recovered. She needed to learn a trade soon because what I saw wasn't going to be pretty.

Gardener Fall - Chapter 2b - by nova

Night pulled away from Shelli and we all arrived in front of Max and Freya together. Night didn't like public displays of affection, it was a cultural thing, I usually ignored it anyway. The way I looked at it was in between running ahead of everyone and side trips like the last one I wasn't seeing, let alone feeling enough of her. So I looped an arm around her, gave a quick hug, and let her go.

"Hey." I waited a couple beats an added, "So why is he still alive? You waiting for me?"

Max grinned, and said "No. We're going to give him a trial and then kill him."

"So when did we become a democracy?" I asked.

Night answered "Since we got bigger and a few other reasons."


"Like we will talk later." Then Night held my look, looked at Max, and then back at me. Okay, I'm slow but I got it. Secret subtle shit must be going on. Well, no surprise there. Hopefully it wouldn't require a meeting.

"So how are we going to play this Max?"

"You get to represent your guy and Ninja gets to represent his. Let them each explain what happened, if they want to call witnesses let them, then speak for them if you want to."

Ninja looked puzzled and asked the question I wanted to which was, "Who gets to be the Judge?"

Max grinned and said, "I do."

Freya decided her was her turn to talk. She looked at us all and said, somewhat pompously I thought, "We always cut off their hand and sent them naked into the forest."

"Did they get to take the hand with them or did they go empty handed into the deep dark woods?" I asked her straight faced. She looked at me a little suspiciously and said, "Empty handed." I looked away for a couple beats to hide my smile. As I did Max told Cruz "Start it up." Cruz yelled "All right people. Lets do this!"

I starting walking towards Thompson. Night kept in step with me for a few seconds, long enough to mutter "Funny", smile a half smile, and walk over to stand with Chief.