Category Archives: Novel

Remnants: The Colcoa Wars Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A mostly gray-haired man and a boy walked across a barren boulder-field.  The boy’s long brown hair streamed to the side as the two of them skipped from rock to rock.  They moved quickly and silently, their soft-soled greenish leather boots made no noise, and neither shifted a single pebble as they moved.  The wind blew from the west, whipping their thin dust-infused shirts in the hot, dry air.

The man’s face was leathery from years in the sun.  His eyes seemed permanently squinted behind the scratched aviator-style sunglasses held to his temples with a leather cord, the stems long-since broken.  Despite decades of scraping a living off the land, the man had an easy look on his face, one that proclaimed more happiness than grief in this harsh world.

Thirty years before, the field had been lush, green Minnesota pasture. It had probably been littered with ponds and creeks. Or maybe this was an old lake bed; there was no real way to tell anymore. Anything that would have been an indicator had long since been scoured away. Today it was just part of a large rocky barren. It was already over a hundred degrees, and the sun was not up yet.  In another hour or two, they would have to find shelter for the day.

“When I was a boy, this time of year would have been much cooler, and some years there would have still been snow on the ground,” said the man to the boy.

The pair reached the first of the scraggly old trees. “Do you see these trees, Ez? Do you see how the oval-shaped leaves crawl up the branches, lining up two by two? This is a walnut tree. Do you remember eating walnuts last fall?”

“Yea, Pop. I remember,” said Ez, clearly bored with the conversation.  His father was certain the boy would much rather be talking about one of the two girls his age in their town.  That was not a conversation he was looking forward to having, although he knew he was going to have to have it soon.  At least these days there isn’t much need to talk about STD’s and using condoms, he thought.

“Good! This fall, after the summer heat, we need to come back here. This grove will keep us in nuts for most of the next summer while we’re underground. What do we say about nuts, Ez?”

“Where there are nuts, there are squirrels, Dad.”  Ez sighed as he spoke, having had this exact same conversation with his father dozens of times.

“Right.  Let’s hurry; we need to dig in soon.”

The two of them had been hunting and gathering food all night, and they were tired. The boy’s father had learned years before that hunting during the day was too dangerous. Even in what passed for winter in Minnesota these days, the UV radiation and heat from the sun was far too powerful to be exposed for more than a couple of hours, but that wasn’t the biggest danger.  The experimental animals were out during the day.

In this part of the country, they mostly encountered experimental grizzly bears. They were slightly smaller than normal grizzly bears and had a greenish tint to their fur.  By the time their prey realized the clever animals hunted in packs and communicated with each other, it was too late.  Experimental grizzlies were the apex predators on the planes; that position was no longer occupied by humans.

Joe and his son walked through what passed for a forest in this time, although it was barely more than a handful of trees and some pathetic scrubby vines.

Most of the trees left standing were mature years ago when the ships first came.  Many species of trees were dying off, their seeds finding only rock and hardened clay in which to make purchase.  Joe’s hope was that one day the trees would rot and leave a strip of fertile dirt where they’d fallen.  He collected and stored seeds on these gathering trips, just in case.

Joe had dozens of burrows ranging out from their town, places to stay when he was outside the walls gathering food, each of the burrows stuffed to the gills with supplies and each of them a secret storehouse of seeds, buried in the cool earth, far from the sun.

“When can I go by myself like Willa?” asked Ez, snapping Joe out of his thoughts.

“When you’re sixteen. Until then, you’re stuck with me, pal,” said Joe, tousling the boy’s hair.  “Besides, I’d miss you too much!”

Joe broke into a trot, hopping from rock to rock, trying to leave as little scent as possible behind. The father and son moved along silently for the last mile, listening for some sign of game and looking for any wild edibles they may have missed on the way out. They found none and returned to their burrow with the day’s gatherings.

Willa was already there, sitting on the lip of the burrow beside a much larger pile of dirt than they’d left the day before; she’d been busy digging the burrow out to make room for the day’s gathering.  Willa was very tall, nearly a foot taller than her father, and very lean. Everyone was lean these days from a life of hard labor.  She had long sandy brown hair that she kept tied up on top of her head.

Willa had grown up spending the winters outside their town with her dad. They were foragers, tasked with finding food to feed the entire town. It was, without a doubt, the least desirable job in their society. There were kids in their underground village that had never seen the sun.  They were born after the Colcoa came and never felt the need to get out and roam. Those people felt like it was a small price to pay for never having to face the experimental animals or the hard, burning planet above.

Willa thought those people were crazy.  After being in the dark underground town for the three hottest months of the year, it was all she could do to avoid running up to the surface to spend two minutes outside in the scorching heat.  Surely the sunburn would be worth it.  Down in the cool cavern they called home, a reminder of the sun and how good it felt for the hour or two she got to see it every day during the fall, winter, and spring.

“Get anything good?” Ezekiel asked his sister.

“Naw.  Just these fish,” she said, grinning while she held up two trout.  Each was as long as Ezekiel’s arm and still flopping on the end of the stringer.

“Fish? Where did you find fish? Where did you find enough water for fish that big?” exclaimed Joe, a look of amazement on his rugged face.  He sat down on the hard earth and dangled his legs into the burrow, feeling the cool air inside.

“There’s a creek running out of the rocks about twenty miles south of us.  You two just went the wrong way! There’s dirt there, Dad.  Real dirt.  With plants growing in it.  I didn’t bring any, but Dad, there were flowers!  They smelled so good!  Once I got there, I didn’t ever want to leave.”  Willa’s excitement was contagious.  Ezekiel was grinning from ear to ear, watching his sister practically bouncing while she told of it.

“I also found these berries,” she said, pulling a pouch out of her backpack.  “There were tons of them!”  She opened the pouch to show off the beautiful red berries, grabbing one to toss it in her mouth.

“Willa, NO!” Joe was staring at the berries in her hand.  “Those are poisonous.  They are brindleberries.  You would be dead within minutes of eating one of those.”

Willa looked sheepish as she dumped the contents of the pouch out on the ground.  “No wonder the bushes were so loaded.  I should have known. How could a bush right next to a water source have any berries left this late in the season unless they were poisonous?  Sorry, Dad.”

“You covered forty miles today?” asked Joe.  “What if something had attacked you?  How would I ever have found you?  I’d never be able to live with myself if I lost you.  You know not to go more than five miles from camp.”  It was hard for Joe to scold his daughter; he thought she was better able to take care of them than he was, but rules were rules.  Out here in this place, not following the rules was what got people killed.  It was exactly what got her mother killed.

Willa looked slightly abashed, and her cheeks and chest turned bright red.  “Dad, I found moving water.  And food.  We could spend the next summer there.”

“Can we, Dad? Please? Please don’t make us go back to Red River Falls this winter. I can’t stand another year of being cooped up with nothing to do,” said Ezekiel.

Joe gathered his kids into a big group hug and said, “Let’s not get crazy.  The water will probably dry up once the real heat sets in.  Do you remember how hot Mrs. Aberfinch’s rooms get?  And she’s, what, thirty feet below the surface?  Willa, it gets over a hundred and thirty during the summer.  The only surface water we’ll find during summer is up on top of the world.”  Joe shared their hopes, but he wanted to hedge them, just in case.   “Any plants growing there will almost undoubtedly be poisonous or else something would have eaten them.  We’ll head out there as soon as it’s cool enough tomorrow and check it out.  There may be some things we can take back to Red River Falls with us,” Joe said.   “Willa, hand me the fish. I’ll show you how to clean them.  I haven’t had trout since I was a kid; this is going to be good.”

Willa handed him the two trout, and Joe stood up.  “Come on.  We can’t clean these near where we sleep, and we’ll have to eat fast.  The grizzlies will smell the fish from very far off.”

The three humans bounced nimbly from rock to rock, keeping up a fast pace for about a mile from their burrow.  Willa started digging with her stone knife, and Ezekiel gouged into the rock hard clay with a sharp piece of flint.  When they’d dug down about a foot, Joe lopped the heads off the fish, pulling a string of guts and organs from the body cavity.

“See how I cut that?  Cut from this fin to here and then around the head.  That lets all the guts stay intact.  By cleaning them that way, we don’t spoil the fish with waste.  Now in the old days, I would have used a really sharp knife to filet these, but since I don’t have a filet knife, I’m just going to scale them.”  As he spoke, he scraped from tail to head with his flint knife, sending shiny fish scales into the hole at his feet.

When he was done, he handed the first fish to Willa.  ”Be careful, there are sharp bones in there.  The backbone runs the length of the fish, so pull the meat off with your teeth,” he said.

The next fish went to Ez, who devoured the raw fish in several huge bites.  “So good!” he exclaimed between stuffing his mouth and chewing each bite at least two times.

Willa saved a half of her fish for her dad and handed it to him when he was done filling in the hole.  “You take the rest. I’m full,” she said.  “You were right. It was very delicious.”

Joe took a bite of the fish, savoring the taste of the meat.  Fresh meat was one of the reasons he chose this profession.  Even though the townspeople looked down on him and his family as outsiders, he got to spend most of the year with his children, teaching them everything he knew about plants and animals.  It was dangerous, but he was good at it.  His children were learning the things that would keep them alive when he wasn’t around to protect them anymore.

Suddenly, all three of them froze in place.  Something changed in the air around them.  Seconds later, the sound of a twig snapping somewhere behind Joe dropped them all flat on their bellies.  They lay on the rocks, each facing one another, trying to present the smallest possible target for the bears.  Without turning around, Joe said, “Stay very still.  We have to figure out their plan.  Willa, how many do you see?”

“Three, close together behind you,” she replied.

“Ez, can you see any?  There are never just three.  They’re going to be all around us.”

“I think I see one,” whispered Ezekiel.  Fear was apparent on his face.

“Stay calm. Remember to breathe.  I think the three behind me are going to charge and drive us into the group behind Willa.  We can’t fall for their plan.  Willa, take Ez and run straight back to the burrow.  Block the entrance and hunker down for the day.  I’m going to lead them off.”

“Dad! No!  I can outrun a Griz.  You take Ez back,” said Willa, and Joe knew she was right.

“Willa, I need you to keep you both safe.  If I’m not back by night fall, come look for me. I’ll be at the river you spoke of.”

“Dad…” Willa protested.

“Do as I say, Wil.  I don’t have time to argue.  When I have their attention, you and Ez go straight to the burrow.”

Joe leapt up from his prone position and yelled, charging the three green-tinted bears.   All three stood up on their hind legs, fully two feet taller than the human.   The middle bear growled, and the two on either side dropped down and charged at Joe, and two more broke from either side.  He’s the pack leader, thought Joe.

Joe stopped running and started singing as loud as he could.

“Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice?”

The bears all stopped charging, looking at him.  The lead bear tilted his head, as if it was questioning the sanity of this human.

The pack leader growled softly, and all five bears started advancing.  Joe sang the song again, as loudly as he could, charging the bears himself, hoping to break up their plan.  He ran straight for the pack leader, arms outstretched.  He had a rock in one fist and his flint knife in the other.

The bear reared up as it closed with its opponent, but Joe was faster than the bear expected, bringing his jagged flint-knife down the bear’s face, opening a bright red cut from its ear, through its eye, to the underside of its greenish-brown muzzle.  The bear dropped to all fours and let out a loud, low rumbling roar.

Joe wasted no time. He vaulted over the grizzly’s back and ran for all he was worth, away from the safety of their hole, dragging the danger away from his children.  He ran north with energy he hadn’t felt in years, out into the barren rocky plain.

Continue to Chapter 2 >>

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What Zombies Fear 1: A Father’s Quest

When Victor Tookes went to work that beautiful spring day, he never expected to see a man eaten alive in the street in front of his office. After convincing himself that they really were zombies, he makes a trip from his house in Pennsylvania to his family home in Virginia, battling zombies all the way. His three and a half year old son was bitten on the leg, but doesn’t turn into a zombie. Instead, he turns into something more than human.

Victor quickly discovers that everything he knew about zombies was wrong. Not all of them were mindless, uncoordinated, rotting ghouls; some of them were bigger, faster, stronger or smarter than when they were human.

A small percentage of humans are genetically immune to the parasite. Instead of turning these humans into mindless shamblers, they gain enhanced abilities. These new abilities will be pushed to their limits in their quest to carve out a safe haven to call home.

How will he keep his son safe when the world crumbles around him?

What Zombies Fear is available for all electronic devices.  Here are the first Six chapters to help you decide that you’re interested in reading the full story.

  1. Outbreak in York
  2. Flight to Max
  3. Bugging Out
  4. Frederick, Maryland
  5. Purpose
  6. Twin Peaks

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Nook  Smashwords  Epub  Sony reader
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What Zombies Fear 4: Fracture

A post-apocalyptic train, rogue military units, family tension, dissention in the ranks, a world full of zombies and a four year old boy.

Victor Tookes already has his hands full as he heals from the injuries of Atlanta. Now, with no ammunition and half the country to cross, He’s faced with a choice. Stop for ammunition, or continue on, hoping they don’t run into any more trouble. It’s an obvious choice for Vic. The heroes need to find a large ammunition storage facility.

This fourth installment picks up exactly where The Gathering left off. John’s wife and children are flying in from Australia aboard a hijacked military aircraft. Victor and his post-apocalyptic crew continue their trek across the zombie-filled country to meet John’s family.

It takes all the heroes can muster to overcome the depths of human depravity and make it in time to clear the runway for the plane. Do the heroes have what it takes? Will they break under the strain?

  1.  Alone
  2. Rotelle House
  3. Supper
  4. Shopping
  5. Departure
  6. Alicia
  7. Injection

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What Zombies Fear 5: Declaration of War

After heavy losses and major setbacks, the team splits up. Spread across the country, everyone is making a new life and rebuilding.

Kris and Alicia build a life for themselves in Gander Acres. John, Jo and the Australians fortify a town in the familiar climate of the Arizona desert in Yuma. Marshall and Renee take over Legion, and secure Atlanta.

Everyone thinks the war is over. Except Victor and the E’Clei. Victor never forgets the atrocities committed and never loses sight of the zombies goals. His friends think he’s crazy, but he continues to fortify Sharonton.

For years, life is pretty good, John has several more children. Marshall builds LEGION into a thriving community, with the help of Renee and her daughters. Gander Acres thrives, growing into a small town filled with love and relative peace.

Then the zombie hordes launch a coordinated attack against all of the major human settlements across the globe.

Only a stroke of luck saves Victor, as the E’Clei renew their offensive and declare all-out war against the humans. Will Victor and Max be able to save the few remaining humans from this massive offensive?

Please enjoy this sample of Declaration of War

  1. Gander Acres
  2. Gander Acres part 2
  3. Departure
  4. Water
  5. Darkness
  6. Prime
  7. Victor is Lost

“What Zombies Fear: Declaration of War” is available on all major retailers.

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Iron Jack’s

Before you read Chapter 4, I’d like to invite you to like my facebook page What Zombies Fear.  The link opens in a new window, so you can click it without losing your place here.

Now, on with the show, thank you for reading.

-Kirk

A new free web story by Kirk Allmond

 

Table of Contents
<<Chapter 4                                                                                                    Chapter 6>>

It took Nyko almost an hour to retrieve the carburetors from the ceiling tiles where he’d hidden them when he locked Iron Jack’s for the last time.  These two choppers were his babies.  He’d crafted them, by hand, in the back of shop.  Even though they sat in the show room, each with a price tag hanging from the handle bars, he’d never really had the heart to sell them.  They were designed to pique the interest of potential buyers, who would want a bike built according to their own specifications.

Nyko started working at Iron Jacks since he was a kid, tinkering on bikes.  At first he did grunt work, adding aftermarket parts and doing minor repair work after school.  When Jack died Nyko was already running the place.  Jack’s son Henry didn’t want any part of the business, so Nyko bought it from him, and grew the business into a successful custom bike shop.

He enjoyed the time getting the two bikes ready to run.  He worked by the light of a small lantern, quickly and quietly, trying not to draw too much attention to himself.  The infected were all around out here, and Nyko knew from experience that light and sound could draw them from miles away.  The work reminded him of better times.

In just a few minutes, the stainless steel carburetors were installed, the batteries had water added, and he added a gallon of fresh ethanol to each.  The fuel lines were all stainless, so there wasn’t any real need to worry about the ethanol rotting rubber tubing.

When they were ready to crank, he resisted the urge to kick the starter and roar off down the road.  He was on a mission.  The old shop truck was in the first garage bay right where it was supposed to be.  He drained the oil out of it, and while that was draining, he topped off the battery with water, and checked his portable jump-starter.  The battery in it was dead too.

His motorcycle was a six-volt, not enough power to turn the old truck’s motor over.

Nyko searched the shop, looking for an old twelve-volt alternator.  While he was looking, he grabbed a pair of jumper cables, and the cordless drill out of his saddlebags.  In his office, he searched through his desk until he found a nine-volt battery.

An hour later, he squeezed the trigger on the cordless drill, spinning the alternator.  The nine-volt battery excited the actuator, and current began to flow through the jumper cables into the old truck’s battery.  He wasn’t sure if it would be enough, but after he’d expended both of the batteries for his drill; the truck turned over slowly and finally fired.

“Fuck yeah!” Nyko shouted when the engine caught.

Without the shop’s air handling systems running, he knew he couldn’t leave the truck running for too long, but he also knew it would take some time to recharge the battery, and his drill was dead.  He knew the noise he’d been making would have drawn several infected to the shop.  His old bike trailer was still parked outside, he’d made sure when he pulled up.

Nyko scouted the shop.  If there were only one or two out there, he wanted to dispatch them as quietly as possible.   The first thing he found was an eighteen inch pipe wrench.  He picked it up and hefted it over his head in a trial run.  “Quit stalling, pussy,” he said under his breath.

He laid the pipe wrench down on the work bench and picked up a pry-bar.  A couple of practice swings later, he laid the crowbar down.  Blunt instruments always resulted in large amounts of bodily fluid.  Even a single drop in the eyes or mouth could result in infection.  The biker laid the crowbar down on the bench, and picked up a long, flat bladed screwdriver.  The shaft was over a foot long, and forged steel.  An idea formed.

A pair of safety goggles hanging on a hook on the back of the bench caught his eye.  Nyko grabbed them and slipped them over his head, resting the goggles just above his forehead.

The cleaning cabinet delivered the second half of his weapon, as he unscrewed the fiberglass handle of the push broom and used two pipe clamps to fasten the screwdriver securely to the end.  He now had an almost seven foot spear, tipped with a massive steel point.  He tied a clean rag from the cabinet around his face, covering his nose and mouth, donned a pair of mechanic’s rubber gloves, and lowered the goggles onto his face.

Nyko checked his keys to make sure he had the right one for the lock on the trailer.  He set the key ring on the bumper of the truck, laid the spear down quietly beside the door, and drew his pistol.  The heavy steel door was good protection, but without any windows, Nyko had no idea how many might be in the general area.

With a deep breath, he lifted the door about waist high, crouched on one knee and peered out into the parking lot.  By the light of the full moon he made out four shapes.  All four immediately turned and started making their way towards him.

“Four. Fuck.” Nyko cursed.  Four was the worst number.   If there’d been five, it was clear he’d have to use his pistol.  No one went hand-to-hand with five.  Three, he could pretty easily take down without making any noise.  But four was always a toss-up.

“What I wouldn’t give for a silencer,” he said, heaving the door the rest of the way up.

The four infected moved quickly.  Nyko holstered his gun and picked up the screwdriver-spear, waiting to see which would make it to him first.

He jabbed outward, piercing the nose of a redhead.  He felt the spear stop against the back of her skull, and quickly pulled it backward.  Pus and gore dribbled down her face as she collapsed.  “Sorry Darlin.  Always did love a redhead,” he said, stabbing another.

The third and fourth infected stepped within spear range at the same time.  Nyko backed up as he speared one straight through the eyeball.  As he removed the spear, the eyeball came with it, stuck at the base of the screwdriver.  He kicked the final one in the chest, pushing it onto the flat of its back.

“I wish you’d just fucking stay down,” he said, stepping towards it.  The infected, of course, didn’t.  The drive to infect others was all they felt.  No humanity, no memories, nothing left of what they were.  Just some genetically manipulated virus created in the basement of some research laboratory contracting muscles and firing enough synapses to keep blood circulating.

It tried to get up, reaching for Nyko’s leg.  He drove the sharpened metal screwdriver through the back of its throat, interrupting the few synapses still firing.

 

Table of Contents
<<Chapter 4                                                                                                    Chapter 6>>

If you’re interested in my other work, please check out kirkallmond.com or my Amazon Author Page