First up, a heads up from one of my readers about the International Birddog Association meeting next year-
Calling all FACs, Ravens and Cat Killers…I want to say the International Bird Dog Association (IBDA) will make 2020 the biggest Birddog Meeting ever.
The meeting will be 15 – 18 September 2020 in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Next, Alma Boykin has another set of Familiars short stories out- Distinctly Familiar.
Temptation lurks in marshes between the land and the sea…
Lelia and Tay discover a new puzzle…
Fundraising collides with a spell gone awry…
A mage discovers the impossibility of arguing with almost two-thousand-pounds of Familiar…
There’s something distinctly familiar, and Familiar, about these urban fantasy short stories, set in a world like our own, almost.
Short stories, 46,000 words.
Another good one! Quick and enjoyable!
And speaking of shorts… The beginning of the first short I sold, back in 2017!
A Long Year
“Rocking C, Rocking C, this is Johnny, how copy?” A burst of static followed then the call was repeated, “Rocking C, Rocking C, this is Johnny, how copy?”
Old Tom, pulling his suspenders up over his shoulders, limped into the parlor cum radio room, grumping, “Can’t even take a piss in peace…” Flopping into the chair in front of the desk and propping his cane against the wall, he punched the microphone bar. “Sheriff, this is Rocking C, go head.”
“Rocking C, you’ve got fifteen, maybe twenty shamblers heading down fourteen sixty-nine toward your north forty. I can see some steers up in the corner of that pasture,” the sheriff said.
Old Tom cussed under his breath, then keyed the mic. “Gonna take me fifteen, maybe twenty minutes to get up there. Me, Tommy, and Olivia are the only three here.” Spinning the chair around, he bellowed, “Tommy! Olivia! Muster!”
Sheriff Coffee answered resignedly, “I’ll come in behind them. We can pincer them between us. How you folks sitting for gas?”
Spinning back around, he mumbled, “Damn kids. Never can find ‘em when you need ‘em.” Keying the mic he said, “We’ve got a couple hundred gallons left. Sure wish you had a diesel. We’re good on that, probably two thousand gallons left in the tanker.”
“Where are everybody else?”
“Micah, Dot, Jose, and Eric are up on the rail line by Panhandle, trying to get some propane out of that tanker you spotted last month. Mrs. C, John, Bruce, and Tammy are up on two eighty-seven with Box H and Diamond J, they’re trying to hit that warehouse, if they can get in and out without setting off a bunch of damn zombies. They want to see what’s in it. Might be food.”
Tommy, thirteen, gangly, with a shock of straw colored hair sticking out in all directions came sliding in the door. “What’s up?”
“Where’s Olivia? We got shamblers coming up on the north forty.”
“She’s feeding the goats. We gonna go?”
Old Tom levered himself up. “Yep, go get her. ARs only. Two mags only. We’re gettin’ low on ammo.” Tommy grinned, scrambling back out the door, as Old Tom limped into the library and now armory. Looking out through the barred windows, he noticed some rust on the welds and shook his head, “Damn shoddy work. Shoulda taken more time on them.”
Reaching up, he took down two AR-15s, checked they were unloaded and safed, and pulled four magazines out of the filing cabinet. He stumped down the hall to the bedroom he and Bruce shared, reached into the chest of drawers, and slung his old single action around his hips. He buckled the gun belt, pulled a box of 200gr long Colt wadcutters out of the drawer, and opened the box. He loaded one, skipped one, then loaded four more and slipped the single action into the holster, flipping the thong over the hammer to keep it tight in the holster.
Limping back to the library, he found Olivia, also thirteen and starting to blossom into what he was sure was going to be a beautiful woman, if she lived that long. Black haired, sloe eyed, and dusky skinned, she’d definitely gotten her beauty from her mother, Juanita, God rest her soul. Thankfully, she hadn’t seen her mother turn, since it’d happened in town. Sheriff Coffee said he thought she’d died in the fire that burned half the town that night. Old Tom glanced up at the calendar, thinking, that was exactly a year ago today. Which means I broke my leg six months ago. Shit… At least I’m still alive.
Olivia smiled shyly as she racked the bolt on the AR, rolled it and confirmed the chamber was clear. “We’re it?”
“Yes we are, Ollie. Ain’t nobody left but us. Sheriff Coffee is going to meet us up there. You got your eyes and ears?”
Olivia pointed to the bag sitting on the chair, “Mine and Tommy’s too. He never remembers to bring his. Are we taking the wagon or the truck?”
“Truck. It’ll give y’all some height, and once you’re in, ain’t nobody getting in there with ya.”
Olivia replied ruefully, “But it’s going to be hot and noisy when we start shooting.”
“I know. But I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to either one of y’all. Now let’s go! Move it!”
Olivia slung the AR, picked up her bag and ran out the door. “I’ll give Tommy his stuff and we’ll be locked in by the time you get there.”
“Smart ass kids,” Old Tom mumbled under his breath, as he grabbed the keys off the board, limping out behind her. Tommy was standing at the back of the truck, AR at low ready, as they walked out. Olivia had also loaded her AR, and was scanning back and forth as she walked slowly across the yard. Old Tom slipped the thong on the single action asking, “Truck clear?”
“Truck is clear, sir.”
“Okay, y’all mount up.”
Tommy swung the plate steel door open and waited until Olivia had scrambled in, then climbed in pulling the door closed and Old Tom heard the bar clang down inside as Olivia slid both firing ports on the left side open. He wrestled the driver’s side door open, cursing the weight of the plate added to it, along with the bars over the window. Sliding into the seat, he started the truck, waiting for the oil pressure and temps to come up, then turned on the A/C, making sure the duct was tight on the center vents and looking back to make sure it hadn’t fallen down where it went into the bed.
Peering out through the bars over the windshield, he put the truck in gear, yelling, “We’re moving,” and hearing the kids yell back they were strapped in. The truck rumbled over the cattle guard at the first fence, then he picked up speed as he turned the radio on. Three miles up, he turned into the cattle guard at the north forty and keyed the mic, “Sheriff, coming into the north forty from the south now.” He glanced up toward 1469 and saw a small plume of dust, and a quarter a mile ahead, six or seven longhorns milling around the feeder.
Yelling back, he said, “Almost there. Sheriff is to the right.” He made sure he could get to the single action as he eased up the pasture behind the cows, and finally saw the shamblers. The fence had them slowed down, and apparently a couple of them were hung up as the steers looked on curiously. Finally, one made it over and headed toward the steer they called Brisket as he pulled the truck in behind them, yelling, “Off your right. One to three o’clock, nothing further back than that!”
He heard a mumbled reply and keyed the mic. “Sheriff, we’re gonna light them up.” Static then a pair of clicks sounded, as he heard measured fire coming from the back of the truck. Putting the truck in park, he slid over and looked out the right window, seeing the sheriff pop the plate lid that replaced the sunroof on his Chevy, and stand up, unlimbering his old bolt action rifle, he yelled again, “Sheriff is up and shooting.”
Ten minutes later, all of the shamblers were down, heads exploded like melons by the rounds, except for one head that was stuck on Brisket’s left horn. He yelled, “Cease fire, cease fire!” Hearing the kid’s reply, he yelled, “Moving.” Putting the truck in gear, he eased behind the cows and steers, moving them slowly out of the way, as he pulled up to the fence.
The sheriff had dropped back down into his truck, pulling up on the other side. Getting out, the sheriff confirmed they were all dead outside the fence, as Old Tom confirmed the one that had made it over was dead. Of course, since he was missing his head, that was pretty obvious, but procedures were procedures. Once that was done, he banged on the plate door, “Y’all can get down now and get some air.”
Sheriff Coffee leaned on the fence. “I count twenty-two. Dunno how they made it out this far.” Nodding to Tommy and Olivia, he continued, “Good shooting.”
Olivia smiled at the sheriff. “Thank you, but Tommy got more than I did. I only got six of them.”
Tommy scuffed his boot. “Well, I had a better angle. But Olivia was more accurate. She didn’t miss. I missed one.”
The radios went off, interrupting them. “Diamond J calling Sheriff Coffee, Diamond J calling Sheriff Coffee!”
The sheriff went back to his truck to answer the radio and Old Tom said, “Okay, police up the brass and let’s get back to the house. Don’t like leaving it unoccupied.” Tommy and Olivia picked up what brass they could see, then played rock, paper, scissors to see who got to ride in the cab back to the house. Olivia slumped in the seat, butt of the AR under her chin, “Tom, what was wrong with them? They moved even slower than that last bunch.”
Tom shrugged, “Dunno, maybe that guy up in Eaton Rapids is right, maybe they don’t eat enough, they get slower and slower then just mummify where they are.”
“Well, I’ll be glad when I don’t have to shoot anymore of them. I know they’re not people anymore, but I still don’t like it.”
“I know Ollie, I wish you didn’t have to either.” Dammit, it’s wrong that we have two thirteen year olds who are having to kill people. Maybe Ollie uses that philosophy, but they used to be people. Thankfully, they haven’t had to shoot anyone they knew!
And lastly, a question for my three readers… 🙂
I’ve done a few ebook only things, and the short above (that I now have the rights back for), so do you think people would be interested in a paperback with all the shorts and novellas in it?