chapter 3 | exit light, enter Rizzo
“Oh my God, turn that fucking thing off!” Joshua shouted over the Obliterator.
“What’s the matter, tough guy?” Morgan chided.
Jamal leaned forward, his head between the front seats, to address Josh and Morgan. “Tell me you have an ETA on your unit.”
“Aren’t you having fun? It’s like Camp of the Damned.” Joshua laughed at his attempted humor.
“Yeah, I’ve seen that film; it doesn’t end well—at least not for us.”
Morgan leaned over and smacked the back of Joshua’s head. “Stop being such a goofball, Josh. Tell the poor man how soon the cavalry will arrive.”
Josh laughed and glanced at his watch. “They should be here any minute.”
The distant sound of moans wafted up from the darkening sky.
“Please don’t get dark yet,” Echo whispered, as if to hide her plea. I wrapped my arms around her tiny frame and pulled her into me.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let anything hurt you.”
The words took me back to broken promises from the past. Susan—another young girl I’d promised to protect. That failure would eat at my heart for eternity. The only thing to be done was to finally make good on a similar promise and ensure nothing happened to Echo.
So far, so good.
“By the way, what’s the plan once we’re gassed up and on the road?” Jamal spoke softly. I loved that about him, how he always knew when to effect peace in a room—one of his many gifts.
“The plan hasn’t changed,” I started. “We hunt down and kill the Zero Day Collective and reclaim Jacob.”
Echo shuddered. “Jesus, when you put it that way it makes Jacob seem more property than prophet.”
The sentiment cut sharply. The thought that Jacob would ever be seen as a commodity to be tossed back and forth between enemy lines was insane. He was my baby, my joy, my hope for life. The idea threatened to spiral me down into emotional withdrawal. I had to change the subject before I reached critical psychological mass.
“Speaking of which,” I added, as I focused my attention back to the laptop, “I need to see if the tracker has any hits.”
It has always been rumored that technology would eventually be the ultimate demise of man. The singularity would occur and machines would take over. The tiniest fragment of my intelligence begged me to consider it possible the singularity had finally arrived—in human form. The lowest common denominator had won out and would overtake the planet with predictable stupidity and greed. Ignorance and power were the new currency.
I propped the laptop back on my lap and minimized the Obliterator application. In its place came the tracker. The application ran in the background, collecting tons of data from the network at large. Any time specific suspect words were captured, traveling across the global network of connected computers and communication satellites, a flag would be raised and the data packets logged. Once the tracker had collected enough data, I could sift through the information and begin piecing together the location of the Zero Day Collective and Jacob. It was only a matter of time before they appeared on my radar. The NSA and Sherlock Holmes had nothing on me.
As soon as the tracker window was open, Jamal peered over my shoulder, his eyes wide and his mouth agape. I could feel his warm breath on my neck as my eyes ripped through the information. A pattern started to develop.
Zero Day Collective.
40.0176 degrees North.
105.2797 degrees West.
“Bethany,” Jamal whispered, “that’s Boulder, Colorado. But what does it mean by “Mobile unit”?”
“Well, Jamal, I would assume it means that whoever is sending out these communications happens to be on some sort of mobile Zero Day Collective biological unit. In other words, it’s moving.”
Jamal sighed. “So getting a fixed location isn’t likely.”
Jamal grinned. “Yes, but…if you get a number of consecutive coordinates, you can at least predict where the unit will be at a given time. Of course, that would require knowing what type of unit and at what speed they were traveling.”
Before Jamal could continue, I silenced him with a palm to the lips.
“Joshua, how quickly can you get us to Boulder?”
Josh laughed. “At this rate it’ll take, oh, forever!”
Again, Morgan smacked Josh across the back of the head.
“I’m just fucking with you. We get back up to speed soon, and I can have you there in a day…tops.”
“B, what do you have in mind?”
Before I could answer Jamal, a soul-destroying roar ripped through the truck. The prehistoric release was followed by the shattering of glass and a pale arm reaching into the truck. Dirty, blood-soaked fingers tangled deep into Echo’s hair and yanked hard. Echo released a cry that was almost too high in pitch to hear as the arm pulled her head toward the shattered glass.
“What the hell? The Obliterator is running strong.” Josh shouted, as he gave the volume knob for the Obliterator one last turn.
“Oh my God, look at its ears,” was all Morgan needed to say.
Blood was caked around both ears. A thick, viscous liquid bubbled from the holes on the side of his head.
“The fucker cracked his skull on the cement until he went deaf,” Joshua added. “Perfect immunity to the power of the Obliterator.”
The beast gave another tug that pulled Echo’s head nearer the shattered window. Echo’s arms flailed outward to thwart the thing’s attempts at commandeering her skull.
* * * * *
The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014
AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in November, here’s the complete list, updated daily:
November 8, 2014 | Categories: Guest Blog Posts | Tags: apocalypse world, apocalyptic, author, excerpt, fiction, guest post, jack wallen, post apocalyptic survival fiction, writer, zombies | 1 Comment
You can listen to my story “Perfect Little Hands” from my collection Fresh Cut Tales for FREE by clicking the link below.
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When I was young, far too young to know the harm I could do to myself by watching terrifying movies, I permanently damaged something inside of me. You see, I was not the sort of child who ate well at dinnertime. I am reminded of this daily as I struggle to get my own children to eat their dinners. However, back then, I had a secret agenda.
While other children played Asteroids or with Lincoln Logs before going to bed, I stretched out dinner as long as I could manage. And for good reason. My mother made me sit at the dining room table until I finished everything that was on my plate, knowing I never would. Still she tried. But I waited because I knew at some point my mother would turn the television to the shows I wanted to see. My seat at the table had a direct view of the television.
From the dinner table I watched full episodes of The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, One Step Beyond, and many more. At the mere age of four I watched The Omen in its entirety. I filled my curiosity of the things that haunted me to my heart’s delight. And then something broke. One night my mother turned on Psycho and life for me would never be the same.
I know what you’re thinking; “I’ve seen that movie. It’s not that bad.” Well I assure you at 4 or 5 years old it is quite terrifying. In fact, I have never looked at taking a shower the same way. I am thankful for my clear shower stall, no curtain needed to hide the things that might be waiting to stab me. It was such a defining moment in my creepy little life.
You see, it is this emotion I feel when taking a shower that I have become obsessed with. I think all children feel it, and although kids now seem a bit desensitized to it all, it is still there. It hides under their beds or sleeps right outside the window waiting to get in. It’s in their closet calling out their name or in the basement. True horror is always there whether we choose to admit it or not. It waits for us, always there in that brief second where the realization that it does exist finds us. It is then it leaps out, causing us to jump out of our skin.
So why the obsession you ask? Why does one obsess so over lack of sleep? Is it because we desire it so or because we loathe the knowing that we will not find rest? My fascination with horror exists simply because I cannot get these images out of my head. These fears have long haunted me, always waiting around one corner or the next, always terrifying. So it is this constant fear that I examine in my stories, trying to discover the truth behind each horror I have encountered.
Does it work? Some, but not much. I sleep lightly, waking often throughout the night. When we stay at hotels I still peek out around the shower curtain expecting to find Norman Bates, or maybe something worse. I know the Boogeyman rests under my bed, waiting for my eyes to close before he makes himself seen. Ghosts sit at the edge of my bed, hoping I will not wake as they study me. These horrors are part of me and likely always will be. And this is why I write.
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11/06/2012 RELEASE! 05/05/2013 RELEASE
~Kenneth W. Cain
October 24, 2012 | Categories: News | Tags: author, coffin hop, collection, contest, fiction, free, giveaway, horror, kenneth w cain, science fiction, scifi, stories, undead, win, writer, writing, zombie | 26 Comments
Q: I’ve read and enjoyed the poetry on your website, and I see you have won many awards as a poet. Being so successful on that platform, what drives you to long fiction?
BB: Actually, I’ve been publishing fiction, some of it long, for as long as I have poetry. My first novel, Stained Glass Rain, is over 140,000 words. I’ve also published more than a hundred short stories. I’ve always written both fiction and poetry. You can find most of my best stories collected in Masque of Dreams (Wildside Press, 2001, 2009) along with some of my best poetry.
Q: My own poetry suffers, likely due to the constant want to make the piece into a story. What shortcomings and downfalls might one expect to encounter when tackling both poetry and prose?
BB: When you tackle poetry seriously, you are looking at every word choice and every line break. And how they resonate with one another. If your poem starts turning into a story, you can either turn it into a story…write a long narrative poem…or compress it to the point where it works as a short poem, making every word count. You choice depends to some extent on where you feel your talents lie. I’d say that if the ideas and words are flowing for you, go with it, go for the story. If you decide it doesn’t work as a story, it’s generally easier to cut and refine what you’ve already written while you were on a roll than it is to add to it. I’ve had poems that I’ve later expanded to fictions and fictions that I’ve extracted poems from. I’d say there aren’t any shortcomings or downfalls if you take an open approach.
Q. I find this interesting, because the first section of The Guardener’s Tale came off so poetic to me. Was this your intention, or do you think this is merely the voice you were given coming out through your work?
BB: The Guardener’s Tale evolved out of a poem that originally appeared in Amazing Stories in the 80s. You can find the poem reprinted online at Membra Disjecta. The opening section of the novel draws heavily on this poem. Poetic language can enhance fiction if it is used in the right way. Some writers, such as Lawrence Durrell and Nabokov, are good reads for me in part because their language often reads like poetry.
Q. The indiscretion of Tuesdays was brilliant for me. I love the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” concept that allows a society the ability to let loose once a week, as if nurturing the human need to be bad. So, why Tuesdays?
BB: Tuesday is three days from Saturday and three days from Friday, the days when one is most likely to go out with one’s mate. So Tuesday seemed the most logical day to go out alone seeking other liaisons.
Q. I find it interesting, the comparison to a gardener, and their garden–creating a thing of beauty. In your tale, it is no different, except there are a variety of levels to these Guardeners, that in part appears to have something to do with age/experience. Also, the play on the word, using “guard” almost had me picturing storm troopers from Star Wars, but in actuality they are far from such armored monsters. On all levels, they are creating a garden of beauty together. I also found the widespread use of imagery that revolved on flowers in the story. Can you provide some insight into your creation of the Guardener as a social status and job?
BB: If you recall, some of the Guardeners do act like storm troopers when they invade the slum and evict residents from their dwellings. The higher level Guardeners are both police and psychiatrists, or at least with the help of technology they take on the role of psychiatrists. The Future Perfect, the garden of beauty they envision, is only perfect in terms of a society functioning without disruptions of any kind. In other words, a world were everyone has the same values and all serve a productive function within the system. It’s a bit like an insect colony, with no room for individuality or attitudes and ideas that run counter to the norm. Also akin to the ideal state once envisioned by the former Soviet Union. Much of art and literature of the Soviet Union from the 30s through the 50s, known as Socialist Realism, portrayed striving for an ideal communist society. Of course any society has its canon of what is considered acceptable behavior, which includes the content for art and literature. The more totalitarian the state, the more narrowly such a canon is defined. The Guardeners in The Guardener’s Tale are both guardians of their particular canon, and like gardeners in that they are trying to shape the future of the state by weeding out undesirable elements and shaping others. To extend the simile to an extreme, something like bonsai gardening.
Q. As a writer, I often find myself divulging opinions of how I think the future will look. Our present society can at times appear so limiting, and yet with modern day technology it is actually mind-blowing just how limitless it is. In your tale though, we have a world where technology has surpassed freedoms, and the City State must take control in order to ensure a successful future. Tell us a little bit about this concept. Is this how you envision the future of society?
BB: In the world of The Guardener’s Tale, although computers are used by government and business, they are forbidden to individuals, considered a negative freedom. There is no Internet as we know it. Despite all its faults, the Internet strikes me as a force for individual freedom and a barrier to government control. It creates a worldwide community that not only transcends national borders but can quickly exert political and social pressure. It disseminates information that the powers that be, any ruling government, would rather not have freely available to its citizens. It can be disruptive to a smoothly functioning society. WikiLeaks is a prime example of this.
Q. And what of reprogramming humans, as you mention in The Guardener’s Tale? Was this just you being creative, or is this yet another glimpse into where you think things are heading?
BB: There always seems to be an attempt by authoritarian forces of one kind or another to reprogram human nature to fit some socially acceptable norm. This is endemic to social systems. The Catholic Church served this function for centuries in Europe. Today, our basic natures are all reprogrammed to some extent by the mass media we are exposed to. A more specific example: the clinics that try to reprogram homosexuals to be heterosexuals. As to where we are headed, I’m not sure. If a technology evolves that can successfully reprogram humans, it’s hard to believe that a government would not attempt to make use of it to stabilize its power and achieve its goals.
Q. On your website it says that you are credited with coining the word “cybertext.” How does something like that transpire? I mean, did it just catch on from one of your tales or the like?
BB: I published a collection of poetry in 1992 titled Cybertexts. The prefix “cyber” is defined as “relating to information technology, computers or the Internet.” Many of the poems collected in Cybertexts have to do with human interaction with computers of one kind or another. However, at the time I wrote these poems, the Cyberpunk movement was still flourishing in science fiction, so the book also contains poems that applied to this, i.e., poems that described or reflected the world of that movement. Jump ahead a few years to 1997. Norwegian Professor Espen J. Aarseth, odds are totally unaware of my poetry collection, published a book titled Cybertext—Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. In this study, Aarseth defined “cybertext” as referring to texts that require an involvement on the part of the reader. For example, a text that poses questions to the reader and then proceeds with further text in response to the answers given, and so forth. This is the sense in which the term “cybertext” is used most commonly today. I coined the word, was the first to use it. Aarseth defined it more specifically in its contemporary usage.
Q. What might we expect from you in the future? Another book? More poetry?
BB: My latest collection of poems, Surrealities, should be out any day from Dark Regions Press. This is not a horror or science fiction collection, but all surreal poems and poems about surrealism. It’s also a departure for me in that I illustrated this collection myself with original Rorschach inkblots. You can find the illustrations online HERE.
Beyond that, Gary Crawford and I are compiling a shared-world collection of dark poetry and prose, working title Notes from the Shadow City.
Well Bruce, I’d also like to thank you for stopping by and giving us a quick glimpse into The Guardener’s Tale. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good futuristic dystopian tale. You can find out more about Bruce on his WEBSITE.
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July 30, 2011 | Categories: Interviews | Tags: author, boston, bram, bruce, control, dictatorship, dot, dystopian, fantasy, fiction, gardener, guardener, horror, hwa, murder, novel, poet, poetry, same, stoker, story, tale, utopia, utopian, writer | Leave a comment