Thursday, August 30, 2012

A look into the darkness of Siege & Survival

In a couple of days, I intend to resume my little rant. Judging by the response from many of you (via email and your wonderful comments) I have touched on something and believe that there are seeds of Revolution waiting to be planted. Like I said to the well-spoken Bryan Hall after reading his amazing blog post the other day (click on his name and read for yourself), It may be time for Revolution, not the crazy kind, but one with a purpose. Not all revolutions are good (that whole 'Master Race' thing in Germany during the late '30s and early '40s strikes me as a BAD kind), but there is a solid core of individuals in the Indie scene who share similar ideas of what it will take to clean up our neighborhood. But I am getting ahead of myself...check with me on Saturday for my continuation of my previous rant. Today I want to share some raw material from the next DEAD book. (Dead: Siege & Survival--December 15, 2012) and remind you that I am fast approaching my 100th blog post (this is number 96 if you are counting) and will be giving away a bunch of free stuff (mostly related to my books...big surprise,,,right?). So, without further excerpt from Dead: Siege & Survival.

Jon said nothing, but he opened his door and climbed out while simultaneously allowing a painfully cold wave of air to fill the cab and ensure that neither the doctor nor I would simply sit in its relative warmth while he tromped around in the ice-crusted snow. I did a quick self-inspection of my gear. I didn’t know what I was feeling exactly, but it wasn’t anything good.
“Hello inside!” Jon called. Not exactly subtle, but I was nitpicking. Considering the fact that we’d driven here in the Snowcat and probably activated or re-directed every stationary zombie for miles, his little yell was probably not making things worse.
I hopped from the cab. That was my first mistake. I guess I really haven’t been out much. That is my best excuse when it comes to what is a complete ignoring of common sense. I promptly sank up to my thighs in the snow. Looking around, I realized that the Snowcat had plowed its way to where we were currently parked. I also noticed that we had driven in the tracks made the last time Jon had come this way. At the nose of the cat was a mound of snow that rose about three or four feet above my head.
“Took us three days to make it this far last time,” Jon said with a smirk as I looked around for anything that could extricate me from my current situation. “Then we had to shovel out way to their wall. They’d made a path, but it was mostly filled in when we arrived. Wasn’t sure if we were gonna find anybody alive.”
“So what led you here?” Dr. Zahn asked. “This is obviously off the beaten path.”
“Jesus saw a flare. The only problem we had with that was that once we got here, nobody admitted to firing one. We talked to everybody that was able to speak…but nobody owned up to it.”
“And that doesn’t seem a little weird to you?” I asked as I flopped down on my belly and tried to wiggle my way across the snow.
“Of course it does.” Jon reached the edge of the unpacked snow and offered his hand to help pull me across. “But I stopped trying to figure out everything that seems weird to me a few months ago.”
“Boy howdy,” Dr. Zahn chimed in.
Boy howdy? What the hell was that about?
“And did they completely ignore your attempts to make contact with them when you arrived that first time?” I tumbled off the snow bank and came to a less than graceful and somewhat painful stop against the rear treads of the Snowcat.
“Actually…no.” I could hear the concern in Jon’s voice, but there was something else that I couldn’t quite identify.
“Maybe they’re all dead,” Dr. Zahn offered.
She wasn’t being callous. Actually, the best way I could put it was that she was finally being ‘Dr. Zahn’ again instead of the strange person who had been walking around in a funky haze since Teresa's and Jamie’s death.
“So we are going to have to climb over,” Jon said with a sigh. “The best place is just around the corner. See that tree?” He pointed.
“I don’t think I’ve climbed a tree since before you were born,” Dr. Zahn grumped.
For some reason, that tickled my funny bone. It was something that I suddenly realized had been completely absent from my life these past several months—those spontaneous moments when you find something to be the most hilarious thing in the world. It is made worse by those around you who do not get in the slightest what you find so damned funny. Then, the harder you try to stifle the laugh, the worse it gets. Pretty soon your eyes are tearing up and you are laughing like a lunatic with no idea if you will ever be able to stop.
“Are you quite finished?” Dr. Zahn said as I wiped away the last of the tears in my eyes with my sleeves.
“I think so,” I managed. I was so out of breath that I really have no idea if she understood the words as much as just picked up on the sentiment.
We made our way to the corner…and that was where we encountered our first ‘surprise.’
“Holy Jesus,” Dr. Zahn gasped.
I felt my stomach shift just a bit and my knees give way until I somehow ended up on my butt in the snow beside the almost still defined trail. It took my brain a few moments to truly untangle the image and let me know what it was that I was looking at.
My best guess is that she could not have been any older than Thalia—five or six years old. She was leaning against the fence. More accurately, she was frozen to the fence. Somebody had taken the time place her exactly as we found her.
From just below her neck, there was nothing. Not a speck of flesh could be found on her frame—and that is all that was left…her frame. They had left the head untouched. So that one cold, dead eye still stared out at the world. She wasn’t alone. Beside her were seven others, all of varying ages. Each one had been stripped of every speck from the neck down, but for some reason, they’d left the heads.
Dr. Zahn pushed past me and knelt beside the first figure. She pulled something from her pocket and began to poke and inspect in a way that was far too clinical for me. I wanted to scream.
“They were boiled,” Dr. Zahn said, not looking away as she continued to inspect the collection.
That was the name my mind could handle referring to this group of individuals. They would now be etched forever more as ‘The Collection.’
“How do you know?” Glad to see Jon was still capable of forming words. I was just staring like an idiot.
“The bones are cracked and brittle.” Dr. Zahn duckwalked to the next one. “And if you look close enough, you can still see filaments of tissue. But for the most part, these people have been stripped clean of all the juicy bits.”
Now I wanted to be sick.
“So why not the heads?”
“Who knows,” Dr. Zahn said with an absentmindedness that let me know she was now fully engrossed in her inspection or autopsy, or whatever the hell you would call it.
“I never even stopped to ask,” Jon whispered.
“Ask?” I tore my vision away from the doctor and tried to focus on Jon.
“There were these big metal garbage cans—”
A flood of inmages filled my mind so quickly that I couldn’t shuffle them off to a nice dark place where they would only be able to torment me in my sleep. I fell on my side and threw up.
When I was finished, I looked up to see the doctor had moved down the line. Jon was at her heels and they were talking in low tones. I was too shook up to care. And now I understood the haunted look in Jesus’ face. Now I realized why he did not want to ever see this place again.

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