She just sat and watched…

Sometimes, the good man you see is not the whole picture.

Sometimes, the good man is not the whole picture

Usually she laughs at me, but mostly she just sits and watches. That sums up my relationship with my wife, Tabitha. Don’t misunderstand; she’s a superb wife and excellent mother. It’s me. I’m hilarious as hell. Or so she says. This opening has significant bearing on this post. Tabitha was a bit of a muse for this one.

Lately I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Werewolves of the Dead and a novel tentatively titled A Ways to Go. It’s a serial killer type of book with a lot of my past mixed in. “Write what you know,” is what I’ve been told and I know about emotional and physical childhood abuse. It’s about time I made that pay. And that brings me to this weeks #ThursThreads hosted by the delightfully naughty, Siobhan Muir. Every Thursday she hosts a flash fiction contest that limits authors to 250 words maximum. More often than not I never get the chance to participate, but when I do I love it. This week’s prompt has allowed me to delve into that deviant homicidal side I’ve suspect that I might have.

Here’s is my entry for this week. I’ve titled it She Just Sat and Watched

For years she’d been my conscience, guiding me between right from wrong. Normally I followed her suggestions. That is until that jackass cut us off while leaving McDonalds.

I honked angrily as he pulled away, and thought that was that. But then I noticed him behind us a mile later.

He followed us for several blocks, flashing his high beams, and riding our tail.

“I’ve had enough of his shit,” I muttered.

“Baby, don’t,” she said plaintively, remembering the last time I’d lost my temper. It hadn’t ended well for anybody, especially me.

“I’m not about to break my sixteen year no fighting record.”

She knew I was lying.

We stopped behind an abandoned movie theater.

I rolled down my window, and pepper sprayed him the moment he arrived.

Calmly I got out of the car with my hatchet as he stumbled around, screaming obscenities.

“Baby, please,” she said again.

“I’m okay. Don’t worry,” I said, bringing the hammer end down behind his left ear.

The rude jackass awoke in our basement, strapped to a gurney board, screaming through the gag. His expression spoke of all manners of bad that awaited me if I released him.

I hit the juice for the electrodes attached to his ears, informing him of his perilous position.

“Time to get under way,” I said, brandishing my KaBar knife. I knew I’d feel really guilty later because of her, my conscience. But for the time being she just sat there and watched.

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It’s close enough to that time of the week

I spend so much of my time writing about werewolves and zombies that I don’t focus on other things that I’ve written. I’ve done some pretty good stuff that isn’t lycan or undead oriented that really doesn’t see the light of day. This blog post will showcase one such piece.

A couple of years ago I submitted a short story for inclusion in an anthology that I knew wasn’t quite perfect for the theme. Let’s call this editor Stacy. Stacy is a good name because it calls to mind Stacy Keach, and one of my favorite movies of his was Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the USS Indianapolis. This movie mention factors into the featured short story.

Now, I submitted this particular story mostly to get that inspiration and to receive feedback from an editor I respected and who was always honest with me. The editor liked it, of course said it didn’t fit, but it did however give them an idea for the next anthology. “Hold onto this one. I liked it and it has a nice Twilight Zone feel to it,” I was told. I’m glad it gave him that feeling because Rod Serling was a motivating factor behind it.

Well, I did keep it, as I keep everything I write, and it got lost in the shuffle of life. The short story is called The Dive, and it involves the ill-fated mission of the USS Indianapolis, and a Navy deep sea diver’s unintentional arrival to this ship. I won’t go into the history of the Indianapolis because it’s in the story, but it’s always resonated with me thanks to the Stacey Keach film. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been a Twilight Zone fan since Eye of the Beholder sent me running and screaming from the living room as a seven year old. It took me forever to look people in the face again.

Now that you’ve gotten the backstory on the inspiration, submitted for your approval is my short story, The Dive.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) at Mare Island Navy Shipyard.

USS Indianapolis (CA-35) at Mare Island Navy Shipyard.

Tony Barlow hummed as he finished examining a sunken ocean tug for holes in its hull. The tug had once been the USS Arapaho and had sunk six months earlier in rough seas. Tony was thankful that all hands had made it off as he’d previously encountered dead trapped within a sunken vessel and each time he’d lost control of bodily fluids.

 

This time it was only him and the occasional fish swimming in for a peek. He had just finished his inspection when his radio buzzed.

 

“Green diver, topside. Do you-” Static filled the Mark V diving suit’s helmet.

 

“Say again, topside. Did not copy last message.” Tony collected began making his way to the tug’s foredeck.

 

“Tony-” was followed by more static. “- much longer? Contact with – spotty –. Better return – the comms show –. ” The voice belonged to his best friend and business partner Andrew Tillmore aboard their salvage vessel, Atlantic Queen. The slender Midwesterner and former Marine was the calmest person Tony had ever known, but his voice expressed uncharacteristic worry.

 

“Say again all after Tony.” The received response was more static. Tony wanted to smack the side of the helmet to clear the interference, but he knew it wouldn’t work. The tether checked out before they commenced operations and there was no reason why there should have been static. Still, Andrew had never sounded worried like that before.

 

The 200 pound suit was unwieldy on land and only marginally better underwater. At 742 feet below the surface, Tony was in no position to run a race. The urgency in Andrew’s voice forced him to push faster. It was after arriving at the diving platform that his diver’s intuition buzzed incessantly. His hackles urged him to surface and he wasted no time signaling that he was ready to ascend.

 

“Topside, green diver. Bring me up, over.”

 

Nothing happened.

 

“Topside, green diver. I say again, bring me up, over.”

 

Nothing.

 

“Damn radio’s on the fritz,” muttered Tony. The water had a chill to it, but only because of the fear creeping into his heart. “Topside? Topside, do you read me? Andy? Are you going to retrieve me or –”

 

The platform jerked and ascension began. He looked at the Arapaho and instinctively went to rub his eyes. His right fist banged against the brass cage of his forward view port and he blinked not understanding what he witnessed.

 

“Topside! Andy, do you read, over? The Arapaho… It’s moving.” Moving was the closest word he could find to describe the shimmering, wobbling vessel. “Andy, I think there’s a tsunami happening.”

 

Tony held onto the rails of the platform, bracing for the wave. His experience told him that it wasn’t a tsunami at all, but his mind pushed for that outcome.

 

“C’mon, come on.” He fought to control his breathing as he sang the US Navy Anthem. “Anchors aweigh, my boys. Anchors aweigh.” He sang loud and clear, hoping that Andy would hear him.

 

He kept his eyes on the Arapaho as he rose, disbelieving the expansion of water around the ship and then the seeming implosion into nothingness.

 

“Andy! It’s gone. The Arapaho is gone.” Tony couldn’t help screaming. He’d seen some disturbing things on the sea floor, but never had he seen a vessel disappear.

 

He watched the shock wave horrified that the bubble was expanding and coming towards him. “I’m bracing for impact!” He didn’t think anyone was listening. Andy appeared to be offline and he was pretty sure God had forgotten about him and his predicament.

 

The wave grew and overtook him. It rocked the platform enough to shake him off and he found his helmet had somehow filled with water.

 

He swung his arms out, kicked his feet, and discovered he was near the surface. He never once questioned how he’d been able to swim even after his face broke through the waves. Breathing was his only goal then.

 

Tony dragged in a deep breath. He blinked sea water out of his eyes and discovered that he wasn’t alone. Men surrounded him and most splashed each other while a nearby few stared at him with dismay.

 

“Shit, Polaski. What the hell were you trying to do?” laughed a swimmer close by.

 

“What…?” sputtered Tony. “Who are…? Polaski?”

 

“Dumb Polack. You forget your name jumping in or something?” The man swam closer to Tony and looked into his eyes. “You don’t seem like you hit your head. I don’t see how you could’ve. That was a near perfect dive.”

 

“Who are you? My name’s Tony Barlow.” He looked at the man with incomprehension. He backstroked away, realizing that his diving suit was gone. “Where’s my suit? Who the hell are you people?”

 

“You must’ve hurt yourself, Dillon. Let’s get back to the ship and get the Doc to look at you.”

 

The man swam toward him. Tony flipped over, intent on swimming anywhere away from the man and the others. He lost his breath again once he saw the US Navy cruiser at anchor.

 

He looked around and found the Atlantic Queen was gone. The man that had spoken to Tony was joined by two other men. Each gave quizzical stares to Tony’s confused expression.

 

“Where’s the Queen? Where’s my boat?” Tony spun in the water, looking around. The three exchanged dismayed looks before looking back to him.

 

“What are you talking about, Dillon? There ain’t no other boat out here besides us,” said one of the new arrivals. “Buddy, you know it takes more than nutty sunshine talk to get out of the Navy.”

 

“I’ve been out of the Navy for years. What in hell’s going on here?”

 

“Get him back to the Indianapolis, Bobby. He’s acting squirrelly,” added the third.

 

“Come on, Polaski. You’ve gotta get to sickbay.” The first, the one named Bobby, rested his hand on Tony’s shoulder.

 

Tony shrugged it off, looking bitterly at Bobby.

 

“Get your hands off me. I don’t know how I came to be here or who any of you are, but I’m not getting on that ship.”

An arm grabbed Tony around the neck. He successfully struggled at first, but was soon dragged near the ship’s side.

 

“Lower a rescue line,” yelled the second sailor. “We’ve got an injured man!”

 

A line was lowered and wrapped across Tony’s arms. Slowly he was raised to the cruiser’s deck. He looked around, unbelieving of the history, as horrible as it was, that he stood on. The ship’s name dawned on him. “Indianapolis,” he muttered.

 

“How many fingers am I holding up, sailor,” asked one of the men on deck.

 

“Four.” Tony slapped the hand away.

 

An officer shined a light in his eyes. “What’s your name?”

 

“Tony Barlow.”

The doctor looked to Bobby. “His name’s Dillon Polaski, sir. Gunner’s Mate Third Class Dillon Polaski.”

 

“Get him to sickbay,” ordered the doctor.

 

“Where are we,” bellowed Tony. “What day is it?” The question struck him as ludicrous. He didn’t understand why he asked. He only felt that it was needed.

 

Two Marines standing near a railing laughed. “This joker’s looking for a psychological discharge,” quipped one.

 

Tony glared at them. “You’re the ones that are crazy. The Indianapolis sank in July of 1945 after carrying A-bomb parts to Tinian Island. This ship doesn’t exist any more!”

 

The Marines stopped laughing. One of them took a drag off his cigarette while studying Tony closely. Sailors milling around on deck looked at him with a mix of wary and frightened stares.

 

“Get him to sickbay…now,” ordered the doctor in a sterner tone. Bobby made to help Tony up, but Tony resisted. The Marines, accompanied by the sailors that had been in the water with Tony, rushed forward to help.

 

Tony fought back harder, kicking a sailor in the groin. The smoking Marine hadn’t been in the mood for trouble. Two quick punches from him rendered Tony unconscious.

 

He awoke in a small room, strapped to a bed. He gazed at the closed door. “Hey, is there anyone there?”

 

A Marine, the smoker from earlier, peered inside. He held an M1 Garand rifle at port arms, and his expression was stern.

 

The Marine glanced around the doorframe. “He’s awake. Have the doc call the Skipper.”

 

The Marine then stepped into the room. “Look, mac. Time’s short, so talk fast. What’s an A-bomb?”

 

“What?” Tony was incredulous. “Are you stupid or something? Everyone knows what an A-bomb is.”

 

“Treat me like I’m a child. What is it?” The Marine glanced into the passageway.

 

Tony sighed indignantly. “It’s a bomb with enough power to level a major city. You’ve been given the parts to one and you’re going to be delivering them to Tinian Island. From there it’ll be dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. It’ll be the first of two and they’ll end the war, but start a new arms race that could evolve into something that’ll make World War Two look like a border skirmish.” Tony looked at the Marine’s rank. “Sergeant, it’s some serious shit.”

 

“Right,” answered the dubious Sergeant. “Serious. Look. We haven’t picked up anything from anywhere… yet. In fact, we just finished the test run on our new equipment and we’re headed back to Mare Island now. Something is going on, but no one knows anything. This is stuff you should already be privy to. Right now though, the best thing for you to do is keep your gob shut.”

 

“The cat’s out of the bag, Sergeant,” said a handsome officer, entering the room. “Do you know who I am, son?”

 

Tony looked closely at the officer. “You’re Captain Charles McVay the Third, skipper of the USS Indianapolis.”

 

McVay took off his hat and sat next to Tony. “That’s right. Do you know where you are?”

 

“Aboard CA35, the USS Indianapolis.”

 

“Two for two. What’s today?”

 

“Tuesday, the fourteenth.”

“Really? What month and year?”

 

“July, 1967.”

 

“You were doing so well. It is July Fourteenth, but its 1945. You’re off by 22 years, sailor.” McVay studied him for a moment before speaking again. “You say we’ve already accepted components to something you call an A-bomb? We haven’t picked up anything so far but I have to ask…where will this pick up occur?”

 

Tony’s mouth felt dry. He had no idea what to say even though he knew the history of the Indianapolis. Every self-respecting Navy man did. “This is a dream. I’ve been knocked out by that wave, and I’m having a fever dream or something.”

 

“Where will the pick up occur, sailor?” McVay’s voice held a tone that patience was fading fast.

 

“Hunter’s Point Navy Shipyard, San Francisco.”

 

McVay’s face remained placid. “Everyone knows that. Tell me something I don’t know.”

 

“That’s the kicker, sir.” Tony chuckled maniacally. “You don’t know what you’re picking up. There’ll be a load of scientists, generals, and Marines, hell, everyone but the President will be on deck to oversee the loading of the equipment. You’ll get it, along with a bunch of Marines you won’t know anything about. You’ll deliver some Uranium 235 to Tinian Island on 26July1945 and four days later, at 0015, you’ll be sunk by a Japanese sub, the I-58.”

 

McVay considered Tony’s words. He wanted to brush the young man off as merely a raving delusional, but he couldn’t. “What will the loss of life be?”

 

“Out of 1,196 men, 900 or so will make it off. They, and you, will spend over four days in the water, but only 317 will be rescued. The biggest loss will be to exposure, injuries, madness, and sharks. You’ll be court-martialed, Captain, and vilified for not zigzagging, even though survivors will state that it wouldn’t have mattered.”

 

“Is that a fact?” McVay rose from his seat and walked to the door. He paused. “I’d like to say you’re crazy, but you’re too damned convincing. I’ll check into your story.”

 

The door silently closed. For long moments Tony lay still, contemplating what he’d said and his situation. He tried once more to convince himself that it all wasn’t real. The pain in his jaw and the restraints kept dragging him back to the conclusion that it was indeed all too real.

 

Tony drifted to sleep, and was awakened hours later by the Sergeant. “Wake up,” he hissed to him. “We’ve gotta get you outta here.”

 

“What’s going on?” murmured Tony. “What are you doing?”

 

“A court-martialing offense is what I’m doing.” The sergeant unbuckled the straps, flinging them to the side. “Come on. We’re leaving.”

 

Tony’s bare feet hit the floor. The shock of the cold linoleum fully woke him up. “Why are you doing this?”

 

“In a minute,” he said, looking out of the door. “Are we clear, Quint?”

 

“As clear as we’ll ever be, Mike.” The Marine from earlier appeared in the doorway. “Come on, we’re short on time.”

 

The Marines led Tony down the passageway.

 

“What’s going on? What’s happening?”

 

“You’ve been deemed a security risk. Skipper radioed ahead to Hunter’s Point and got the brass riled up. He asked them what Uranium 235 was and they ordered us back to Mare Island. Apparently what you told him got our orders changed.” The Marine put a hand on Tony’s chest, stopping him. “Everyone says you’re this Dillon Polaski, but from what I hear you don’t talk like him. You know something important. I don’t know what it is, but you know things you shouldn’t, and you act like it’s all in the past. That’s enough to make me do something really stupid.”

 

They exited topside and Tony couldn’t help but to stare up at ship’s superstructure. It was history to him and for the first time since he’d boarded, he was in awe.

 

“We’re moving into position to pull into port. The pilot will board and when he does, you’ll jump for it and swim out of here.”

 

“That’s insane. I don’t think I can swim fast enough to get out of the way of the ship’s props.”

 

“You’ve got ten minutes to get clear. Do you want to chance the swim, or be a guest of Naval Intelligence? Your call.”

 

Tony saw the logic and readied himself to make the jump. The ship glided to a halt and they could hear the pilot’s boat moving in to position. He looked to the Marine. “What’s your name?”

 

“Tillmore. Lincoln Tillmore.”

 

Tony’s eyes widened and he whispered the man’s name.

 

“Now or never,” said the other Marine.

 

“Go. Now!” Tillmore gave Tony a push. Tony dove into the colder than anticipated water.

 

He turned to surface and choked on the air wanting to burst from his lungs. He opened his mouth to scream and clawed at his throat. Blackness over took him.

 

He opened his eyes, discovering that he was back in his diving suit and breaking the surface. The day was as it should’ve been and he blinked rapidly as Andrew removed the diving helmet.

 

“Tony? Tony, look at me. Are you okay? You blacked out there for a moment.” Andrew pulled down Tony’s eyelids. “You were muttering something about sharks and the Indianapolis.”

 

“I don’t know what happened. I guess I blacked out. I had some weird dream about the Indianapolis.”

 

“You had me scared there, buddy.”

 

Andrew didn’t say anything further as he and a tender worked to get Tony out of the suit.

 

The diving tenders squared away Tony’s rig as he and Andrew visited the galley.

 

Andrew brought Tony a cup of coffee and set it down before him. Tony sipped it and grimaced.

 

“You forgot the sugar and cream, Andy.”

 

Andrew furrowed his brow. “You’ve never taken ‘em in your coffee before. Why start now?”

 

“What are you talking about? We’ve known each other for seven years, worked together for six, and you know how I like my Joe.”

 

“Doc needs to take a look at you. We’ve known each other since we were Navy divers at Little Creek. That was twelve years ago. You sure you’re okay?”

 

Tony’s mouth dropped open. “Navy diver? You were Marine Corps. Shipboard security aboard the Forrestal.”

 

“Yeah, we’re getting you to Doc ASAP. I’d never join the Corps. Especially after what happened to my dad.” Andrew moved closer to Tony. He didn’t like the way his friend was acting. “Come on. Let’s at least get you to your rack.”

 

Tony stood on shaky legs. “Lincoln Tillman was your father.”

 

“Really? That’s not news. Dad and another Marine were court-martialed and sentenced to 10 years in Leavenworth for helping a spy escape the Indianapolis. He swore the guy was from another time or something. Whatever the guy told them was enough to get the Indianapolis off the hook from delivering parts to the first atomic bomb. That duty went to the New Orleans. Damn thing never made it to Tinian and was presumed sunk with all hands lost. That was in the fall of ’45. Its ancient history, pal.”

 

“But the Indianapolis sank in 1945 after dropping off Uranium for Little Boy.”

 

“Little Boy? What the hell is that? They dropped Fat Man in ‘46, but it failed to end the war. C’mon. You know the war ‘ended’ in ‘47, and that the Japs are still fighting their guerilla war against us. Hell, the Indianapolis is still afloat and stationed at Norfolk last I heard.”

 

“No,” whispered Tony, pushing Andrew away. “The war ended September 2, 1945 with the Japanese unconditional surrender. Little Boy and Fat Man did that.”

 

“No, it didn’t. They only dropped one bomb, called Fat Man, and May 25, 1947 was when the Japanese ‘surrendered’. The war never really ended for them though.”

 

Andrew held a firm grip onto Tony’s forearm. He refused to let go and Tony refused to be held.

 

Tony lashed out, striking Andrew, and then ran for the hatch leading topside.

 

Andrew followed him, screaming for someone to stop Tony. The deck hands looked at Tony, surprised at his rapid appearance on deck. A tender asked him what was going on, but decided not to say anything further upon seeing his wild-eyed face.

 

Without any thought, Tony dove off the side of the Atlantic Queen. He swam toward the wreck of the Arapaho, kicking feverishly. It didn’t take long before the feeling of bursting air from his lungs and sluggish feeling limbs over took him. He blacked out and came to on a small boat’s deck.

 

“You okay?” asked someone, helping him to his feet.

 

The little vessel pitched slightly, but Tony could stand. He looked down and discovered himself wearing a khaki uniform. He turned to find four other men dressed in khaki Marine Corps uniforms.

 

“Where am I?” Tony looked around. He was in a small launch, moving through a naval harbor. Older, obsolete battleships sat anchored in neat rows and he knew that none should have been afloat.

 

“It’s easy to see you’re a rook. A small swell got us, and you lost your footing. You must’ve hit your head pretty hard, Marine,” said a sailor steering the launch. “You’re at Pearl Harbor. No better place to spend Christmas. Now, sit down like I told you. The Arizona’s ahead. Welcome to the pride of the Pacific Fleet.”

 

Tony sat down not because of the order, but because he knew where he was. For him, home was very far away.

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#ThursThreads Week 133 winner is…me.

ThursThreads MainV2

Since I’ve returned to writing full time I’ve wanted to get back into the mix by reconnecting with friends I’ve met on Facebook and Twitter. One of those is the paranormal romance author Siobahn Muir. Every Thursday Siobahn hosts the #ThursThreads challenge, and this week I was able to submit an entry. I thought my 250 word entry was strong, but I didn’t think it would win over the 17 other talented entries. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve done flash fiction so imagine my surprise to find that I had won.

I’d like to thank George Varhalmi for judging, and for Siobahn for hosting the weekly challenge. Below is the story that was submitted. Please forgive me but I feel Rod Serling trying to break through for an intro.

Submitted for your approval, a company of Russian soldiers, men and women dedicated to keeping the peace in the midst of a rebel uprising. But one can’t summarily dismiss the enemy combatants as mere rebels. Especially when the remote outpost borders the Twilight Zone.

“What the hell is he up to?” said Mikhail, watching Sergei walk his post along the perimeter fence. Sergei paused to tug on a section of wire fence. “Stupid’s been doing that for two hours. He walks his post, pauses, and pulls at that section before continuing on.”

“Maybe that’s his escape route.” Lipa peered at Sergei with her scoped AK74. “Perhaps I should do something about it.” She trusted the new transfer as much as Mikhail. “Maybe he’s a rebel sapper.”

Mikhail’s reply was cut off by explosions and gunfire from the base’s west end. “Contact, western sector,” cried their radios. “Rebels armed with RPGs and… Shi-”

Mikhail and Lipa watched their sector. Sergei stood watching them, smiling. A Russian military truck plowed through the fence. Figures leapt from the truck, opening fire as they landed.

“He’s a rebel,” cried Lipa. She fired and Sergei fell. “And that was that,” she spat. She looked to Mikhail, but he was dead.

Lipa sprinted and was almost to her position when something landed on her, knocking her unconscious.

It was nighttime when she awoke. She’d been tied naked, and spread eagle to the ground, illuminated by a spotlight.

“Don’t struggle,” said a voice beyond the light.

Lipa struggled.

“You won’t be raped,” said Sergei, stepping into the light.

“I killed you.”

“Bullets are now ineffective.” His mouth, hands, and uniform were bloody.

“What are you, monster?”

“Dear, clichéd Lipa. You don’t know a damn thing about me.”

And that was that.

 

All content on this page is copyrighted and sole property of author Jason McKinney and cannot be used without permission of Jason McKinney. Images have been used with permission from owner, and cannot be reused without permission of author Siobhan Muir.

 

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Help me spread the word…

This is me. Left outside in the cold. Again.

This is me. Left outside in the cold. Again.

Because the world needs my destructive help.

Have you heard the joke about the husband telling his friends that if he did this or that or the other then his wife would have sex with him again? I’m sure you’ve heard something like it. Well that’s not my problem or what this blog post is about. Not exactly at least. I’ll explain in a moment.

A couple of weeks ago were-fan vargulfen commented on my post, I’ve stepped in it again, that I should give Indiegogo a shot in raising funds for my writing. I’ve been mulling that suggestion over since then and I’ve come to a decision; I’ll do it.

Kickstarter was a bust for me. It flopped because I couldn’t give it the attention it deserved and I was in a pretty crappy mental place when I started it. Now I’m in a better place; a more hopeful place. So that’s why the opening sentence in this post is a link. The link is to my Indiegogo crowdfunding project. Since I’ve left my job I can concentrate on writing, but that takes some backing in some areas. Those areas for me are editing and cover art.

I have friends that can, and have done what they could, for little to nothing, but they have full-time jobs and families, and sometimes I fall through the cracks through no fault of their own. It happens.

The target of my crowdfunding is Werewolves of the Dead. I started this about three years ago, and got halfway through before I had to return to a full-time job. Werewolves of the Dead fell to the wayside and to the demands of Dog World: Gone to Hell. That cost me the greatest beta reader I could ever hope to have; my wife, Tabitha.

Once I pushed WotD aside in favor of DW:GtH she swore she wouldn’t read anything I wrote until I finished Werewolves of the Dead. It’s been three years, and she’s held to that promise. That woman wasn’t kidding in the slightest. “It’s the best thing you’ve written yet,” she said. “Go back to it. Because let me tell you, I’m not reading anything until you finish Werewolves of the Dead.” I asked if she were joking, to which she replied, “Try me.” I told her she was bluffing. “Nope. I’m not going to read anything until you finish that. I’m telling you it’s the best thing you’ve ever done. You’ve done good, great, and shit. This is the greatest. Now finish it.” I scoffed. She didn’t back down one bit. The only things I write that she takes the time to read these days is the occasional grocery list or email. Like I said, she wasn’t kidding.

So now I have picked up were I left off on Werewolves of the Dead. More accurately I am going over what has been written to refresh the story. She’s right. It is good. It’s goddamned good.

So, I would forever be in your debt if you could find it in your heart to spread the word or donate a little to the kitty. Whatever you do, even if it’s just reading this blog, know that I do thank you for your time. And I should mention that there are incentives in it for those that do. If you’ve visited my Indiegogo page then you understand what I mean when I say that I am dying to wear a zombie chicken outfit.

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Hell yeah werewolves are fucking awesome!

Dog_World__Gone_to_H_Cover_for_Kindle

That’s right. Werewolves, lycanthropes, skin walkers, changelings, whatever you choose to call them, are goddamned, fucking awesome like nothing else can be. They’re not even second to zombies, and I love a good zombie tale. Let’s face it, werewolves can’t be beat.

Even as I write this, I’m listening to The Killers’ All These Things That I’ve Done, and the creative juices are flowing. Bear with me, please. I left my job yesterday to return to writing so I’m still all cracked out on my joy-gasm. Yeah, that’s right; I’m off the chain and out of my whole damn mind… again.

So earlier last week I reached out to my Facebook fans and asked what attracted them to werewolves in the first place. It’s a fair question that demands an answer. If not demands, then maybe it’s asking nicely with a bit of gnashing teeth and grasping claw for emphasis.

My lycan buddy and Dog World Grand Poobah, Antonio Jones, said he’d get back to me about that. He’s a true lycan aficionado, and needed much time to think on it. He still hasn’t gotten back to me. lol

Janet Sked, fellow author and all around best friend, points out that , They’re fast, tough, & don’t suffer any of the miserable little diseases that make life painful.” She nailed it there. Anyone that has seen a werewolf film, good or bad, or read any piece of werewolf fiction will know that lycanthrope are some terrible mothers to put down. Their resistance to damage or illness has always been a big drawing factor to me. Matter of fact, I’m returning to finishing my novel, Werewolves of the Dead to see how tough they really are. A word about Janet before we move on; she’s a top notch writer and illustrator. She’s given me no-BS assessments on everything I’ve written. Aside from Tabitha, no other person has said flat out, “All due respect, mate, but this is utter shit. You can do better. Now give us a hug, love.”

Facebook friend and fan, Terry Lane, says, Werewolves are the bridge between our animal and human natures. They are other, and they are us.” That’s a true statement. No matter how far up on the evolutionary chain we may be, we’re still no different in the pack mentality than wolves. The only difference between us and wolves is that wolves don’t turn on each other for shits and giggles. That’s just my take on that at least.

Stuart Conover, fellow author and editor of BuyZombie.com.. Tails wagging.. Panting.. Totally docile killing machines” This may or may not upset lycanthrope enthusiasts. For me, it made me laugh. Stuart is a zombie fanatic. No, that’s wrong. He’s a zombie super-fanatic, and a great guy to boot. He and Angelica Hill gave Memoirs of the Walking Dead: A story from the zombie’s point of view a chance when a lot of people wouldn’t. Even if he hadn’t I still would have laughed at his comments. Thanks, Stuart.

But my favorite comment PERIOD is Dog World Super Mistress Supreme Diane Hershfield saying, How can you not love werewolves? The perfect lifeform- and such badasses!” Too right, Diane! They are the perfect life form and are total unstoppable badasses! This reasoning, and Diane’s devotion to animals, is why she is in the top of my werewolf fan list.

I’ve received a lot of comments on this post, the majority of which came in Facebook private messages rather than public Facebook comments. I used only the public Facebook comments for this post. I’m assuming, that the message was meant to be private so I held those back in confidence. I know someone is reading this and thinking, or even saying aloud, “to assume is to make an ass of you and me.” Well, let me say this, I can make an ass of myself with out any assistance from anyone. My wife will tell you I’ve been doing it on my own since 1975.

Thanks for reading, all, and I’ll be back next week with a post delving into the zombie side of love. Stay delicious, my living peeps.

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I’ve stepped in it again…

DWGTH

And this time on purpose.

And this time with familial support.

And this time on purpose.

I know, I know. I said “and this time on purpose” twice. That’s because I’m found of doing daring (and often times dangerous) things on purpose more than once.

I’ve submitted my resignation from my full-time, 9 to 5 job to return to writing. For the past almost two years I’ve been working full-time outside of the home as a normal, grunt-type office drone, and for a year I enjoyed it. Until my writing went from everyday on lunch, and hitting it hard on weekends to once a week and spending weekends recharging from the work week, to having not written a word in seven months. Okay, I did write within that seven month period, but it was utter shit. By utter shit I mean it was unworthy to be in the Dog World universe and was more or less torture porn with no real heart or story. Even Tale of an Undead Pussy…Cat (a novel centered entirely Charlotte the Undead Feline from Memoirs of the Walking Dead) fell apart like a cheap paper towel at a Southern barbecue. In short, my writing sucked balls. A few chapters of Charlotte’s story need to be deleted and the hard drive possibly burned, and over 60 pages of Dog World: Reclaiming Hell Pt 1 need to be given a lava bath as to never see the light of a metaphorical printed page. The shit was not bad. It was hell-yeah-that-shit-is-fucking-rotten kind of bad.

I’ve been miserable at this job for almost a year. We moved to a new location far enough from my home that we’re loosing money we can’t afford to lose, and yada, yada, yada, a bunch of other stuff I can’t really reveal because we, employees and company, have a nondisclosure agreement with the NSA (that’s right; National Security Agency), blah blah treason if mentioned, and here I am. I turned in my two weeks notice. My supervisor saw it coming, I was so miserable.

But it’s done, and soon I will be returning to the world of writing full-time. I’m already feeling the rusted gears of my mind starting to turn again. The day I put in my resignation I did something that I’d been putting off for over two months; putting Dog World: Gone to Hell up for sale in paperback. Yeah, that’s how unmotivated I was. Oh, and if you head over to take a look at the new DW, try to ignore that lonesome 5 star review. It makes absolutely no sense to me or anyone that I can think of.

With my returning motivation I will be posting more and returning to the twitterverse, Facebook, etc in the next couple of weeks. It also gives me a chance to reconnect with people like my friends over at PromoteHorror.com, and ilovewerewolves.com I hope they do reconnect with me.

In the mean time, I’m going to be posting more often on the blog, and I’m now open for short story commissions, interviews, and the occasional entertaining at a children’s birthdays. I do an awesome balloon Cthulhu.

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Dog World: Reclaiming Hell – Chapter One rough draft

Hello, all! As some, if not all, of you know I’ve been working on the next book to Dog World, and Dog World: Gone to Hell. For those of you who have been wondering what happens next at the end of book 2, you’ll love this post. For those of you who have never read the Dog World series of atrocities against everything clean, decent, and moral, click on the titles above, buy the books, and prepare to be horrified.

Below is a very rough draft of Chapter One. I haven’t had time to clean it up as much as it deserves, but the spirit to release this morsel just won’t leave me be. I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and as an aside. I received what I believe to be my most favored new review on Amazon. R. Wertz wrote:

“This is one of the weirdest books I have ever read. Imagine our Earth invaded by werewolves and you don’t know who is human and who is Lycan. Not to give it way but the end is a genuine cliff hanger. Read it, enjoy it and then say: What the hell just happened?”

As a wise member of The IT Crowd once said, “I like being weird. Weird’s all I’ve got. That and my sweet style.” Well, I am weird. I’ve never denied that, and I’ve definitely got some sweet style. Again, thanks for stopping by, for reading, and for hopefully enjoying.

Dog World

Reclaiming Hell

 

Jason McKinney

 

For Tabitha with love. You made me do this after all, and now the world must suffer.

 

Chapter One

 

“What the hell did you expect?” screamed Demarti, kicking Bernerd in the side. The British soldier had been receiving Demarti’s abuse for the past several hours. Neither man knew how long they had been at “interrogation” and neither cared.

Demarti lifted Bernerd’s head by his shaggy hair and stared into the puffy and bloody face. “So tell me exactly what you were expecting, Leftenant.” Bernerd tried to twist his face away from Demarti. Demarti instead pushed it aside in disgust. “I was sure you’d all fracture and go your separate ways, but no, you had to come on anyway. I can’t believe you followed that screw up jarhead and come here. Did you really think you had a shot after you forced me out? Did you think you could sort shit out?” Demarti wasn’t happy with the answers he had been getting, which were none at all. He had started out wanting to know exactly what they had been doing after he left, and had somehow degenerated to brutality for its own sake.

Bernerd’s puffy lips parted and a bloody cough tore from his throat.

“What was that, Ian? I didn’t catch it.”

Demarti leaned an ear to Bernerd’s mouth. Even in human form he wasn’t worried about Bernerd getting brave considering the beating he had been taking.

“Don’t want… fresh…hell.” Bernerd coughed and something that could have been a clot flew from his mouth. “More…” He coughed again. “More like…reclaiming hell from you… bastards.”

“Another fine example of balls of British steel,” Demarti scoffed, punching Bernerd’s throat.

Bernerd fought for breath as Demarti called for a guard.

“Get this back to its cell. I want the woman.”

“Sir,” said the guard cautiously. “General Vance has left us with orders to not leave you alone with Chief Walinski.”

“Not her, you fucktard,” bellowed Demarti angrily. “The bitch Mitchell. Bring her to me. Now!”

The guard eyed Demarti coldly. Demarti stepped up to him and growled deep within his throat. “Now, not later.”

“Yes, sir. Corporal Stannard, give me a hand with the prisoner.”

The guards left with Demarti and five minutes later they returned with Mitchell. The guard that had been insulted treated her respectfully not because she was a lycan or a female, but because he wanted to piss Demarti off.

Demarti didn’t take the bait. “Very good. Dismissed.”

“Sir-”

“Dismissed,” Demarti repeated with a snarl. “Not the reunion I expected, but I’ll take what I can get,” he said once the door was closed and locked.

He moved two chairs from a corner and helped her into one.

Mitchell’s hands were handcuffed and Demarti made no moves to take them off, even when she asked about it.

“I love you, but that doesn’t mean that I trust you.” He sat in the chair backwards and studied her. “You’re looking good, all things considered.”

“Making you was the worst thing I’ve ever done,” Mitchell said, glaring.

“Really?” He grinned slyly at her I saw it as a chance for us to be together without worry about any lycanthropic complications.”

“What I did was against nature’s morality, and my own.”

“In the name of love,” crooned Demarti. Seeing Mitchell had put him into a strange mood and a brief thought of atonement flashed through him.

“No atonement on the menu for you, buddy,” said Not-Kunpai suddenly. “I don’t think our girl her is up to forgiveness today.”

Demarti’s face soured. Mitchell saw it and her eyes narrowed.

“Something wrong, Major Demarti? Am I not responding the way you would like?”

“You fucked him, didn’t you?” barked Demarti in Mitchell’s face.

“What? What are you talking about?”

Demarti’s right open hand lashed out, striking her in the face. “You know damned well what I’m talking about. You screwed Kunpai.”

Mitchell’s head rang and her vision was alive with brilliant multicolored flashes of light. She rolled her tongue inside her mouth. The bitter copper taste of blood washed over it. “Never should’ve-”

Demarti struck her again, backhanded. “Answer me!”

“Dude,” said Not-Kunpai reproachfully. “I’d remember if she did. I seriously don’t think-”

“Shut up, asshole,” screamed Demarti. He grabbed Mitchell by her shoulders hard enough to rattle her handcuffs. “Did you or did you not have sex with him?”

“What does that have to do with anything.” Mitchell’s voice sounded hoarse to her and at the end the words had a bubbling feel from the blood trickling into her throat. She spat a bloody wad into Demarti’s face and screamed no shrilly.

“Cheap bitch,” roared Demarti. He drew his fist back and delivered a blow to her nose, breaking it and sending her and her chair backwards. She rolled limply away from it unconscious.

“Wake up,” bellowed Demarti, dragging Mitchell to her feet by her hair. “Wake up and see what you have coming.”

Demarti struck her again and again until her face swelled and bleed as did his fists.

“You need to stop, buddy,” said Not-Kunpai unemotionally. “You’re going to kill her. None of my business, but hey, whatever gets you off I suppose.”

“I told you to shut your mouth!” Demarti turned his head to face Not-Kunpai in time to see two of Vance’s enforcers rush into the room. One of them ran through Not-Kunpai as easily as a blue jay through the morning air. They had their batons out and weren’t shy about using them. It took them and two others to get Demarti to release Mitchell.

“You’re afraid of the real me,” said Not-Kunpai in a contemplative voice. “Yeah. That’s it. You’re afraid of the real me.” Not-Kunpai began whistling a familiar tune before breaking out into the familiar words. ”Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf,” he sang, following the soldiers as they dragged Demarti from the interrogation room. “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?”

“Not if I’m eating his face,” raged Demarti. “Not if I’m eating his mother fucking face!”

“Damn, dude,” mumbled Not-Kunpai mockingly. “You’re cracked.”

 

***

 

In his office Vance watched Demarti’s out burst on the 62 inch plasma screen TV mounted across the room. His eyes narrowed and lips pursed as he studied the guards’ reactions. Each of the three took a collective step away and eyed Demarti with a mix of contempt and alarm. If Vance could have seen Not-Kunpai he would have agreed before having both men shot. But Demarti was still useful up until the time the remainder of Demarti’s party was captured and then killed.

“Goddamn pup is certified bat shit nuts.”

He changed the view to include a frame work of various feeds from other detention cells. Sims sat in his cell; legs crossed and appeared to be meditating. Vance thought the act was “faggy” at least. He hadn’t known what to expect from Sims, but he hadn’t expected him meditating like a limp dicked Tibetan.

Mitchell hadn’t been returned to her cell, but was placed in Bernerd’s. Lewis was shoved in a moment later with a first aid kit to treat the wounded British soldier. Vance knew he could count on them to form an escape plan to amuse him and the guards.

Tan and Walinski were kept across from one another. Tan had been pacing her cell for hours. Vance had no idea if she were going stir crazy or taking stock of her cell, looking for a weak point. “Titanium reinforced concrete doesn’t have a noticeable weak point, you daffy bitch,” he muttered turning his attention to Walinski.

Walinski was being kept under closer scrutiny than the others. An hour before she’d been bound and gagged Hannibal Lecter style. She’d put up a struggle earlier, breaking some ribs of one guard and the nose and jaw of two others, but it was her singing that had gotten her retrained. Dolly had taken to defiantly belting out alternating renditions of the English and German versions of Lili Marleen. The guards had less tolerance for Dolly’s screeching shrillness than her hand to hand confrontations.

Vance regarded her coldly. He couldn’t wait to start on her. It was going to be amusing to see what made her so intuitive. Breaking her spirit was also an added bonus. But first things were first.

He picked up his phone and toggled the duty NCO. “Sergeant Yamara. Send ‘Major’ Demarti to me ASAP.”

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Image

Hey hey, my lycan fiends and zombie-philes! It’s been a while, but it’s time to post some good news to those who haven’t heard yet. Effective last Monday, Dog World: Gone to hell is available for Kindle. I know I’m more than a year overdue, but it’s finally out! I want to give a special thanks to my friends that have helped and are continuing to help; Janet Sked, Gretchen Stull, and Kriss Morton. I don’t know what I would have done without these three! Visit the link below if you feel inclined to give it a look. I know I’d appreciate it, and I bet Karl Vance and the rest of the Dog World universe would too. There might even be a limited edition Vance bendy straw in it for you. ;-)

http://www.amazon.com/Dog-World-Gone-Jason-McKinney-ebook/dp/B00JSJRDT0/ref=la_B004T4LOSK_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398380264&sr=1-6

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Dog World: Gone to Hell Lucky number 13

Chapter Thirteen

“Vitals are dropping,” yelled Sutton as the gurney carrying Demarti was rushed down the hallway. “We’ll lose him if we don’t get into the OR now!”

Two medics rushed alongside them, barking for those in the way to make a hole.

Demarti was bleeding profusely; the dark red flow appeared to have no end.

They burst into the underground operating room. The bright fluorescent lighting made everything about Demarti’s condition appear worse.

“You don’t need to be here, Cameron,” said Jeanue, taking her by her blood-covered hands. “Wait outside, okay?”

“I want to be here.”

“I know. I also know you want to make a difference topside. They’re going to need all the guns they can get right now.”

Mitchell considered Jeanue’s words. They held more than a little truth. She knew she would only be in the way. “Right. You’re right. I’ll go topside.” She squeezed Jeanue’s left shoulder, before moving away from the doors.

Jeanue disappeared through the OR doors.

Inside, Sutton and another surgeon had cut away Demarti’s ACU jacket and were swabbing the wound.

Jeanue paused, staring at the surreal scene. It seemed somehow impossible that she was about to assist in the operation of saving another friend.

“Piss or get off the pot,” Sutton called to Jeanue. “If you’re just going to stand there then you need to either get to work or grab a gun and fight. Pick one.”

Jeanue snapped to immediately. She cleaned her hands, grabbed a surgical smock and then cleaned her hands again. A nurse assisted her with putting gloves on, and she took a position beside Sutton.

“What do you need me to do?” asked Jeanue.

“Make sure the incision stays clear for starters. We were able to stabilize his vitals and stop the bleeding but the trick is getting the bullet out.”

“You’re a neurosurgeon, why are you doing this?”

“I started out assisting in spinal injuries before I went into neurosurgery, and my eyesight’s better than anyone here.”

Sutton probed the wound. “Found it,” she declared. “Wipe my forehead please, Maggie. This would’ve been so much easier if we had x-rays.”

Someone knocked at the door. Jeanue turned to see Kunpai’s serious face peering through. “It’s Omi.”

“Get rid of him,” snapped Sutton. “We don’t have time to deal with concerned people.”

Jeanue went to the door and Kunpai opened it for her. He was accompanied by two soldiers that stood in the opposite room. An olive drab case marked Rifle, Individual, M4A1, along with three ammo cans sat between the soldiers. She eyed the containers with a fearful eye. “Sutton wants you gone,” she said pulling her eyes to Kunpai’s. “Whatever you have to say better be said in a minute or less.”

“Vance has brought armor to the fight. What tanks we have are engaging them.” Kunpai fell quiet for a moment. “We don’t know if we can hold him off. Roaches have breached the interior and we’re tied up between maintaining the perimeter and engaging them. Vance has air support, too. We’ve got Hornets inbound from Coffer Airfield. Their ETA is five minutes.”

Jeanue was incredulous. “We’re in danger of being overrun?”

Kunpai cast his eyes away. “Look, I’ve brought weapons. If push comes to shove you’ll have to fight your way out.”

“I can’t bring those into the OR,” she protested.

“And you can’t afford to leave them out here either.” He turned to one of soldiers. “Private, uncrate the rifles. Lock and load each one.”

“Now see here, Omi -”

“No, you see here, Colonel. We’re fighting for our survival now, and if we get overrun I don’t know if we can come for you. You have wounded besides Paul. You take these damn weapons or I’ll take them into that room for you.” Kunpai wasn’t kidding.

Jeanue looked at the OR doors and then back to Kunpai. “Obviously there’s no getting rid of your toys so take them in, but stay out of everyone’s way and don’t stop to…ogle things. Open the crate first, and then place it at the far wall, and stack the magazines on top of them. In and out, that’s all you’ll do.”

“Do as she says,” ordered Kunpai. They quietly and quickly moved past Jeanue and Kunpai. They performed their task in a matter of seconds.

“This makes me feel a bit better, Maggie.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“Vance has a hard on for that Collins guy. He means to get him.”

“Let him come,” warned Jeanue. She returned to the OR, leaving Kunpai and the soldiers alone. Silently they left for the battle that raged above.

Sutton had removed the bullet in the time that she’d talked to Kunpai, and was currently closing the wound. The deformed projectile lay in a sterile solution, trailing red streamers as the antiseptic worked its cleaning magic.

“Why’d you let them bring guns into the OR?” Sutton cast a harsh glance at Jeanue. “They broke a clean environment to bring in a case that undoubtedly contains dust and multiple germs. Not the brightest idea you’ve ever had, Maggie.”

“Omi says that we’re in danger of being overrun.” Jeanue’s voice was flat and sounded tired. Her words caused everyone to stop what they were doing.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” inquired a male nurse.

“It means exactly what it means,” answered Jeanue. “Vance has tanks and aircraft out there. Better pray he doesn’t have bunker busters or we’re screwed.”

Sutton growled. Most eyes in the room went wide and to her. “Out-fucking-standing. The only way we find out that Vance is here is by getting Paul sent to us with a bullet in him, which leads to us being told that the literal wolves really are at the gate. And now they tell us he’s got tanks. Can this day get any better?”

“What’s his status?” asked Jeanue, changing the subject.

“He’ll live. We have plenty of his blood type on hand so that’s a blessing. As far as walking goes… it’s 50/50. If Vance’s people breach then it won’t matter either way. He’ll never realize he’s dead until he’s meeting St. Peter.”

“Get his transfusion going,” ordered Jeanue. “Christ, get a freaking poodle to donate if you have to. I don’t care what you do, I just want him well.” Jeanue ripped off her surgical gloves and smock and threw them into a bio-waste can. She only stopped to snatch up a loaded M4. “If anyone wants to help set up a defensive perimeter in the hall they’re more than welcome to join me.”

Jeanue stuffed spare magazines into her pockets before checking the rifle’s chamber. It had been loaded and she caught the round before it hit the floor. Her dexterity surprised her more than anyone else.

A male nurse followed Jeanue’s example. He stripped off his surgical gear, picked up a rifle, three magazines, and offered to move any patients quartered near the entrances.

Jeanue didn’t answer the nurse. She spoke only to Sutton. “Patch him up. We’ll be down the hall if you need us.”

She exited the OR, briefly wondering if she had made the right decision in picking up a weapon. In the end she knew it be the right call. If Vance breached the building he would kill her just as surely as he would anyone else he found on the floor.

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Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

 

Detrick was alive with activity. Civilians outside of shelter were ushered under cover to mess halls or to nearby underground facilities. Gunfire from somewhere on Detrick’s grounds punctuated the urgency for cover.

Hughes entered his quarters and hurriedly donned his boots and war gear. He was sure that battle would be close in and had armed himself with an M1087 automatic shotgun for his use. He snapped his helmet onto his head and picked up the shotgun.

Kunpai waited outside in Kunpai’s command vehicle. “All stations this net, all stations this net. Report status. Over,” he called into a handset handed to him by a radioman.

One by one the various outposts, sniper positions, and patrols called ready for action. Kunpai felt better in the knowledge that the troops were in a state of readiness. He hoped Hughes would feel the same.

A soldier ran to Hughes as he left his quarters and handed him a small stack of reports. He glowered at what he’d been given. “When did this happen?”

“Less than five minutes ago, sir. They overwhelmed Gate Two. We’ve secured the area. We have four KIA and three walking wounded.

“Shit.” He paused. “It’s all a diversion.” Hughes knew what was coming. He hoped that FortDetrick was prepared for it.

Hughes and the soldier stepped into the late afternoon sun, and looked for any vampires that might be nearby. Sporadic gunfire stuttered in various areas. He looked at the other reports. “Civilians were taken? How did this happen?”

“An unknown number of roaches overran a squad in route to their positions, sir. They’ve taken some of our people along with civilians.”

Hughes’ stride slowed as he read the reports. He grimaced as they moved toward his command vehicle. Belle waited in the driver seat and kept a watchful eye on Kunpai.

“Colonel Belle,” snapped Hughes coldly. “Secure a vehicle and break off a machine gun team. I want you to visually inspect the perimeter. Report any contact.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Belle.

“Gimme the radio,” said Hughes, sitting in a command Hummvee’s back seat. “All stations this net. All stations this net. Standby for sitrep.” He hurriedly looked through the papers once more. “Enemy elements have breached the perimeter and been verified as vampire in nature. Enemy is numbered between eighty and one hundred. Contacts are unarmed, but should be considered hostile. There have been casualties, and civilians have been taken along with three of our people. Do not engage if you are confronted by hostiles with hostages. I say again, do not engage if hostiles have friendlies mixed in. Contain them but do not agitate them. Hoo-Ah. Detrick Actual, out.”

A call came over Kunpai’s radio. It was Zellar. Her voice was tense, bordering on stressed.

“Say again,” said Kunpai leaning an ear toward the radio. “Copy that. Out.”

The sudden crump of detonating grenades and more gunfire mixed ominously with Hughes’ and Kunpai’s words. The noises of battle sounded closer than before.

Kunpai tapped Hughes’ shoulder and leaned toward him, whispering.

“All stations, all stations, standby.” Hughes looked at Kunpai. Disbelief crossed his face. “What? Where?”

“All stations, all stations. Do not engage new contacts in route to Gate Four! I say again, do not engage new contacts approaching Gate Four. All units on perimeter security secure your areas and stand by for further instructions.”

Kunpai whispered to Hughes once more.

Hughes was about to speak to Kunpai, but was interrupted by a call from Belle. Belle’s news confirmed Zellar’s.

“Mount up everyone,” called Hughes to the men and women.

The drive to Gate Four left the occupants of the Hughes’ vehicle wishing that the approaching column had been Demarti’s.

The unknown column had arrived and a number of soldiers had dismounted and taken firing positions three hundred meters away. A lone figure dressed in Army camouflage stood between the gate and the halted vehicles.

“They arrived a few minutes ago.” Mitchell gave the situation report. Mild agitation tinged her words. “They stopped at their current position and troops took up positions outside the perimeter. They’re being reined in well. No one’s fired a shot or given any Demands. I’m betting the bulk of their forces are here.” She cleared her throat. “He’s been standing out there alone since they got here.”

Hughes and Kunpai didn’t need binoculars to tell it was Vance that stood alone in the road.

Vance’s stance was akin to Clint Eastwood’s in one of his Man with No Name movies. His absolute arrogance outraged many at the gate. He stood in the open, defiantly daring anyone to shoot, though he knew no one would. It was fear of Vance that stayed the numerous trigger fingers, but Hughes’ order and the question of what repercussions Vance might have planned should happen if someone take the wrong initiative.

Zellar was one of many that itched to take a shot. “I can drop him easy, sir,” she said to Hughes, taking a prone position.

“Negative, Private. There’s a good chance you’re being sighted in, too.” Hughes smelled more trouble than he cared for. He knew the best Vance would offer FortDetrick in an attack was death for everyone within. The worst would be allowing the humans to remain alive with a select few lycans, such as him, left for torture.

Walinski and Tan jogged to Hughes and Kunpai. Tan raised her M4 to her shoulder. Looking through the scope she couldn’t believe Vance was there, leaving himself open for revenge.

Walinski felt his evil intentions burn into her mind. Behind her eyes, Dolly and Clarice vied to be released. The internal conflict for violent action was all together new to Walinski. Seldom did Clarice and Dolly agree on anything.

“Well?” asked Walinski impatiently. “What are we going to do?”

“We,” Hughes stressed the word, “aren’t going to do anything. I’m going to hear the man out.” Hughes’ eyes remained on Vance as he spoke.

“All due respect, General, but fuck talking,” blustered Dolly. “We have an opportunity here. Let’s not squander it…sir.”

“She’s right, General,” added Walinski.

“Suggestion noted, Chief. Now, until you’re in charge this is my call.” Hughes licked his lips. “What do you want, Shepherd?” Hughes’ yelled to Vance across the space between them.

Vance appeared to laugh before he began walking toward the gate.

“What’s he doing?” asked Kunpai, sighting his own weapon on Vance.

“I think he wants to talk, General.” Tan nearly said that she could talk fine with her weapon.

“Ka-pow,” whispered Zellar. She gave another mock squeeze of the trigger, and another ka-pow drifted from her lips. Her M16A4 was on safe. Still she uttered the word and squeezed the resistant trigger over and over again.

Hughes looked down to Zellar. As much as he wanted to order her to stop, he couldn’t. In theory, and in practice, he agreed with her. Still, he knew that even with her safety on there was a danger the rifle could discharge. “PFC Zellar. I’ve given out some promotions lately. How would like to become a Specialist?”

“You’ll make me an E4 if I shoot Vance?” she answered hopefully. She kept the scope to her eye, and spoke without looking at Hughes.

“No. I’ll make you an E4 if you don’t.”

“Thanks, but I’ll stay a PFC if that’s your deal, sir.” She uttered Ka-pow again, faking slight recoil with the pretend shot.

Hughes grunted. He’d come to like Zellar, mentally unbalanced or not.

“Hey, hey, Timmy boy,” called Vance jovially, stopping thirty feet from the gate. “Are you certain you have enough guns on me? You act like I’ve just killed the world or something.”

“What do you want, Shepherd?” Hughes spoke through gritted teeth, and thinned lips.

“Why are you using that name, Timothy?” growled Vance. The sound of his true name infuriated him.

 That’s your God-given birth name, isn’t it? Reginald Vancey Shepherd?” Hughes’ teeth unclenched as he taunted Vance.

“I’ve got a lost puppy in there. I’ve come to collect him. He’s so loved and I miss him so much. I’ll even pay you a finder’s fee.”

“Who are you referring to, Shepherd?”

Vance’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t play games you can’t afford to lose, Tim. You have my tech head traitor, and I want him back.”

“Or what? You’ll kill us if we don’t give him up? I don’t even know to whom you’re referring to.”

“Again with the games, Tim. You have Collins and I want him. I know you personally killed Rexler. That twat didn’t matter much anyway. I have to give you credit though. I never thought you’d put a bullet in her. Either way, we both know you have him.”

Hughes looked over his shoulder. “Lieutenant Colonel Kunpai. Do we have any new personnel on base?”

Kunpai joined Hughes. He didn’t like the Hughes’ game either. Why deny something that everyone knew to be true. Still, Kunpai forced himself to play along. “White guy, my height, kinda good looking? Let’s see, an Army captain and a lycan, right?” Kunpai momentarily played at giving it thought. “Nope. The description doesn’t ring any bells.” Omi Kunpai had said very few things that he regretted in life, and he regretted what he had just
said immediately. For someone that hated vicious games, he was certainly excelling at making a shit situation worse.

“Smartass lap pup, aren’t you?” Vance made a melodramatic show of smelling the air. “I smell newborn all over you, boy. I’ll gladly deal with you later. Tell me something. Had any cravings yet, Major? Oh wait. I see you’ve been promoted. How does it feel being the bitch? That’s right. You. A bitch. With cravings. They look tasty, don’t they?”

Kunpai bristled at the insult, but he contained his knee jerk reaction to defend himself against playground taunts.

“We have your boy,” said Hughes, breaking in, “and you can’t have him back. Finder’s keepers, Shepherd.”

“Oh, I couldn’t agree more.” Vance toggled a small hand held radio. “Bring ‘em,” he growled. “Remember what I said about playing a game you can’t afford to lose? You really should’ve just given me my dog back. I would’ve given you yours.”

It was a heart stopping moment. A military deuce and a half truck ground to a halt behind Vance. From the truck’s cargo bed came four of Vance’s soldiers, and three hooded prisoners.

Mitchell couldn’t help her change. It overtook her with all its pain and glory. “You son of a bitch! You goddamn mother fucking son of a bitch! I’ll fucking kill you!” She lunged forward but was restrained by Hughes, Kunpai, Walinski, and Tan.

Mitchell fought against them, viciously trying to get free. “You know who that son of bitch has! Let me go!” Tears stung her eyes and she fought against those as well.

“Who does he have?” screamed Walinski. “Calm down!”

Vance removed the hood from the first prisoner. Walinski’s heart froze before dropping to her feet. It was Demarti. “Oh Lord no,” she whispered.

Kunpai’s grip tightened on Mitchell’s midsection. A harsh low growl came from his throat. He could feel his own transformation spreading through his body. He snarled, “Let him go,” at Vance.

“Oh, ho. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I never knew Captain Demarti was both a ladies man and a man’s man. You swing both ways, Captain?”

Mitchell lurched forward, almost pulling Walinski and Tan off their feet.

Hughes asked for Mitchell’s forgiveness before bringing the grip of his Sig down against the back of her head.

Mitchell’s body relaxed as Walinski and Tan guided it to the ground. Kunpai stood erect, his lips drawn in, his hand tightening on the grip of his M4.

“What do you want?” asked Hughes. He kept the Sig pistol in hand, sorely tempted to shoot Vance where he stood. But to shoot might needlessly end lives.

“You always were either deaf or stupid, Tim.” Vance moved to the prisoners. “And behind door number two we have…” He pulled the hood away, revealing Sims. “And our next surprised guest is…” Lewis was underneath the last hood. “Give me what I want or I kill them in front of your eyes. Each and every one of them.”

Sims looked to Hughes. Anger and sadness filled his eyes. “Sorry, General. Bastard got the best of us.”

“Whoever he’s after, you keep them, sir,” spat Demarti. “Don’t give-“

Vance kicked Demarti in the back, knocking him to the ground. His hands were bound behind him and he couldn’t do anything as Vance fired his pistol.

Hughes didn’t blink, and was silent as Walinski, Tan and Zellar screamed “no” together.

“You have one hour, Timmy boy.” Vance spat on Demarti’s back. “Consider this a good faith payment.” He then ordered his men to load up and fall back. Sims and Lewis were loaded onto the deuce and a half. The truck made a Y turnaround and trundled back toward the other vehicles.

 

*******

 

It was only by chance that Vance had stumbled across Demarti’s column. He had smelled the odors of overworked engines, death, and blood fifteen minutes before coming across the bogged down vehicles. Vance had no idea what lay ahead though he was certain that he could make it work to his advantage.

The vehicle behind Demarti’s Hummvee reported an overhearing engine and that it needed to pull over for inspection. Demarti didn’t like the idea of stopping with less than an hour from Detrick.

He grudgingly called a halt. He knew the vehicle’s engine was in a bad way. Steam poured from under the hood and two soldiers stood over it, waving the hot fog away. The air stank of the sweet smell of boiling antifreeze and acrid burned oil.

“Good thing for me this happened, Captain,” remarked Charles from the passenger seat. “I could use the bathroom break.”

“Don’t stray far,” warned Demarti. “You’ll need an escort too.”

“I’ve got no problem with that.”

Demarti called for a soldier to escort him across the blacktopped highway. “Try not to be longer than ninety seconds, sir,” he called after them. He approached the crippled vehicle, inquiring if it could make it to Detrick.

“We can add more water, sir,” answered the vehicle’s driver, “but in ten minutes or less we’re going to be at it again,” He took a drink from a two quart canteen. Demarti knew that between men and machines overheating, he would always pick a machine over a man any day.

The engine was on beyond salvage, and Demarti knew that. “Understood. You men ride in the Piranha with the Marines. I know it’s crowded, but it beats the hell out of the alternative.”

He looked at the vehicle. It sat askew blocking the vehicle next in line. He was on his way to order the driver to drive it off the road when someone called out, “Hostiles, nine o’clock!”

“What?” exclaimed Demarti. From twenty meters away a rocket streaked out from the brush. It detonated against the Piranha’s wheels, sending burning shrapnel and rubber out wards. The blast pushed the vehicle halfway across the road. A second rocket followed the first. It struck the turret, destroying it before it had a chance to turn toward the incoming fire.

He searched for the female Daytons. His inability to find them melted his worry into fear. “Where’s the Daytons?” he yelled. “Anyone got eyes on the Daytons?”

Several soldiers answered with negative reports. The day had gone from shit to worse. The reason they were out in the boonies had vanished into thin air.

A soldier working the dead vehicle’s .50 caliber machine gun called out that he’d seen them moments after the shooting began. “The women ran off toward where the hubby went to piss. Past that, your guess is as good as mine, Cap’n!”

Demarti yelled obscenities as he broke cover from behind the Hummvee. He tripped over his own feet, cursing himself for his clumsiness. Rounds impacted on the vehicle’s body where he had been. His cursing was quickly replaced with muttered thanks to God. He crawled under the vehicle as machine gunfire kicked up dirt around his feet.

Another rocket took out the vehicle he’d been riding in. He looked to it, knowing that Urbane’s body had been inside. What ammunition had been with Urbane exploded. The smell of burning flesh and hot metal made him want to expel his stomach’s meager contents.

Demarti swallowed the bile in his throat as he went fired his M4 on full auto.

“Where are they?” yelled Lewis, firing his SAW over the Hummvee’s hood. “Who’s shooting at us this time?”

Sims called out target locations, and add, “It’s lycans this time,” he said, dropping beside Demarti. “They sure as hell ain’t friendly either.” He squeezed the M14’s trigger in successions. From Demarti’s right Shelby shouted a suggestion to pull back.

Demarti gave the order to retreat. The fire was too concentrated and as long as they had an exit to the opposite side of the road he would take it.

“Get our wounded and fall back, Colonel Shelby,” yelled Demarti above the din.

“Most were in the Piranha, Captain. We’re what remain,” answered Shelby.

Demarti calculated his assets, and realized that those able to walk were fewer than before. Fall back to the tree line at our current six! Sims, Lewis, and I’ll cover you and the others!”

Shelby crawled to Demarti. “We’ll fall back and cover your exit once we get to safety. Don’t be long.” He patted Demarti’s arm. Even under fire the Brit’s smile made everything seem okay.

“Copy, now go!” Demarti swapped magazines. He threw the empty behind him and zeroed in on the figure that had suddenly appeared in his sight picture. He gave two quick bursts, dropping the enemy in the middle of changing positions.

Shelby assisted a soldier with a leg wound. Bernerd, Mulcahey, and two others ran toward the trees. If it weren’t for their wounded the column would have traveled a more overland route, bypassing the paved roadways. The return journey had been risky to begin with, and hadn’t paid off in the least.

“To the tree line, lads,” screamed Shelby. “We’ll be all right once we make it to the trees. Then we’ll cover Captain Demarti and the others.”

Shelby and the other survivors had gone fifteen feet inside the tree line before being attacked. Seven lycans leapt out and surrounded the six men.

“One time offer only,” said one. “Drop your weapons and the fight is over.” The lycans wore black combat uniforms and were armed, as any soldier would be.

“Piss off,” screamed Mulcahey, firing his L85. His fire impacted a magazine in the vest of the lycan that had spoken. The rounds set off the ammo, sending detonating rounds through the lycan’s body.

Shrapnel struck a lycan on its left. It went down screaming as it clutched its bleeding face.

The denial of surrender outraged the remaining five. They lunged forward. Shelby dropped one, but a second grabbed him, and threw him into the air. Shelby’s finger was still on the trigger. The finger’s position was more accidental than intentional. A three second burst tore into a lycan that grappled with one of the surviving soldiers. The shots instantly killed both.

The second column survivor had had enough fighting. He retreated further into the trees.  A lycan overtook him before he could disappear from within sight of the skirmish. With his last effort of fighting, the solider pulled the pen on a grenade, killing them both. The wetness of the crump it going off made the explosion sound duller than normal.

Mulcahey dropped to the ground, and rolled away from a lycan’s attempt at grabbing him. He fired into its rear end. He was about to finish it, but another grabbed him by his ankle. The first thrashed around, crying out about its wounded ass.

“Fuck taking them alive,” roared the ankle grabber. “And shut up about your ass, Noddingham!” He raised Mulcahey as a cudgel, slamming him into the screaming, fallen lycan.

Mulcahey’s rifle flew out of his hands. Two more times the lycan used him to club its friend.

Mulcahey felt that he would suffocate. The blows didn’t allow him to catch his breath. Then something cracked in his back. The sound was loud and painful, and he hoped whatever it was wouldn’t leave him a cripple.

A burst of automatic fire caught the lycan in mid swing, collapsing its head. It collapsed, sending Mulcahey crashing one final time into the beaten to death lycan.

The last lycan stopped its attack against Bernerd. It stared wide eyed, amazed at how the battle had turned against him and his teammates.

“Now you surrender,” called Bernerd, underneath a lycan. He raised his Beretta to its head. He looked away as he squeezed the trigger. Blood, fur and skull fragments fell to his face. He hoped that none would seep into his ear, infecting him.

Bernerd pushed the body away. He panted heavily from the exertion. “Now that’s how-”

“Shhhh,” called Shelby. He motioned for the Mulcahey and Bernard to follow further into the treed interior. Bernerd and Mulcahey understood the order.

Mulcahey’s back protested the movement. If he stopped they would die, and he wasn’t yet up for that exercise.

They moved as best as they could, and stopped after arriving at what appeared to be a quarry. “What about Cap’n Demarti and the others?” gasped Mulcahey, fighting for breath.

Shelby sighed. “I don’t know. We have to trust that they’ll be fine. We’re in no shape for a rescue.” He looked at Mulcahey. The soldier’s face advertised that pain was up for sale. “What’s wrong, Sergeant?”

“It’s me back, sir.” He grimaced against the pain. “Something snapped there when that poodle used me for a hammer.”

Shots from the former battle space rang out. They looked back in that direction. There were no answering shots. Shelby assumed that whoever had been charge had executed the lycans for their failed mission to capture them.

“They’ll be coming along soon,” said Bernerd. “I think we should duck into that water down there. Might be safer to use it to mask our scent.”

“Good call, Captain,” agreed Shelby. “Can you make there, Sergeant?”

“Still in it, sir. I’ll make it.”

They made their way to the murky gray water. It carried the smell of things that all three dared not imagine, but it offered the best chance for survival.

“Helmet’s off, lads, and gas masks on. If you have earplug with you, now’s the time to use them.” Shelby took his helmet off, and slipped his mask on. He checked the seal and stared at the others.

“All due respect, sir, but what is a mask going to do for us? Water can get in through the filters,” said Bernerd.

“Cut some of your uniforms off , and stuff them into the filters. Afterwards grip the drinking apparatus in your mouth,” Shelby’s voice muffled by the gas mask, “ and hold the end of the drinking tube a tad beyond the surface. Use it to breath.”

Bernerd’s face lit up. “Brilliant, sir.” He donned his and helped Mulcahey.

Mulcahey couldn’t raise his left arm enough to get the mask on. He was thankful for the help, but felt like a he had become a hindrance. Masks on and earplugs in place, they submerged into the stagnant water.

They stayed close to each other near the surface. Even at four from the surface the dark water all but suffocated the light trying to filter in.

Dull machine gun fire echoed around the quarry. It lasted for a minute before deafening explosions took their place. Their pursuers took no chances and had begun lobbing fragmentation grenades into their liquid shelter.

The shock waves shook them and the explosions battered their barely protected ears. Mulcahey receded further into the water than he wanted. Water flowed into his drinking tube and he was near to panic by the time Shelby reached him, putting his tube against Mulcahey’s.

Water splashed into his mouth, followed by Shelby’s breath. Shelby helped the wounded solider back into position.

Grenades and gunfire shook the quarry for another five minutes, and then it abruptly stopped. Ten minutes later, Shelby motioned for them to surface.

Bernerd climbed out of the murkiness first and lifted Mulcahey out with Shelby’s assistance.

Mulcahey collapsed on the rock and clay bank, fighting to breathe while Shelby and Bernerd surveyed the pit’s brim.

“Think they’re gone, sir?” asked Mulcahey, sitting up.

“I’m willing to bet they left some rear guard action.” Shelby raised his rifle to his shoulder. He scanned the top through his Sight Unit, Small Arms Trilux scope. From what he could see nothing moved. “Plan of action is to get our happy asses back to FortDetrick. As far as I’m concerned, the fun is well and truly over.”

“Escape and evasion,” mused Bernerd, looking through his own SUSAT. “No engaging unless absolutely necessary. Standard op crap from here on out, eh?”

“Spot on as usual, Captain,” answered Shelby.

“My back feels funny,” muttered Mulcahey, standing. He wobbled but gained his balance after some effort.

“Ian, you’re on point. I’ll assist Jon.”

“My back’s not that bad, sir,” protested Mulcahey. “I can walk.”

“Now’s not the time to be John Bull, son. You need help and we’re here for you.”

“Thank you, sir, but I want to walk as far as I can.” Mulcahey grinned at Shelby.

Shelby had been correct that he needed help, but like the thickheaded soldier Mulcahey was he didn’t want to be a burden on his team. “I’ll sing out when I need help. Promise.”

“Good on you, Sergeant. I’m holding you to that. Let’s move out. Remember sound discipline. Ready, Ian?”

“Ready here, sir.” Bernerd moved up the man-made rocky ramp. His boots squelched as he walked forward. The sun was setting and he hoped that what night vision goggles they’d packed had been safe in their airtight, water proofed containers.

Mulcahey suffered through the agony his back gave him. His steps were measured and he prayed they wouldn’t have to do any running. He wasn’t sure if he could move any faster than an extremely lazy jog.

They crested the ridge and turned their attention to where they’d entered the quarry. The area appeared deserted, but none would have taken a bet on it.

It took half an hour to recover ground that had once taken six or seven minutes.

The bodies of the lycans they’d fought lay where they had fallen. The wounded had been executed where they fell.

“No time for the wounded,” remarked Bernerd. He checked the bodies for spare magazines. The British L85 rifle took the same magazines as the American M16 and M4, but he found none. The bodies had been stripped of all things useful.

Mulcahey kicked at one of the dead out of frustration.

“Steady, Jon,” warned Shelby. “Don’t want to go pissing off any injuries more than needed.”

“Right, sir,” he answered in a sour voice.

“Now we got you, you rat shit bastards,” came a voice coming from the trees.

Five more of Vance’s black clad warriors appeared from the growing gloom. They moved with a silence that left Shelby envious.

“Weapons on the deck,” said a female lycan. “Now, I’m not going to ask again.” She motioned slightly to the ground with her bayonet fixed M4. Three of the five’s rifles were fixed the same.

“Do it, boys,” ordered Shelby. “Looks like the fight’s over for us.”

As they laid their rifles down another female lycan remarked, “Now’s as good a time as any.” She turned her rifle on a male lycan to her right, and bayoneted him the neck. She swept the blade outward, and bubbling gurgles accompanied by a surprised look illuminated the lycan’s face.

The other two alternated in stabbing the second to death. Both lycans died with a look of surprise etched onto their faces.

Bernerd reached down for his rifle but was stopped by the female pointing her rifle at him. “Don’t,” she urged. “We may have killed these two, but we’re a long damn way from being friends.”

Bernerd righted himself. He stared cautiously at her. “If you’re going to shoot, do it.”

“Speak for yourself, Ian,” said Mulcahey. His pain forgotten, he stood erect, waiting for the shot.

The female lycan that had first spoken resumed her human form. She moved forward to Englishmen’s rifles and kicked them to her friends. She then demanded the three to sit cross-legged on the ground.

“Keep your hands behind your head.” The woman spoke with a slight Texas accent. “We’re gonna have a little palaver.”

The Brits did as ordered. They had little choice in the matter, and each wanted to see where the encounter was going.

“The name’s Abigail Darmond. As you’ve guessed, I work for General Karl Vance. But that’s on the surface. In reality I work for a lycan named Victoria Pegg. She was a colonel in the British Royal Air Force before Vance started his shenanigans. But make no mistake, boys. She hates you pigs almost as much as she hates Vance.”

“Why spare us then?” asked Shelby. “If she hates us as much as Vance then why help us? Why do you even care what happens to us?”

“I said almost. You’re right though. I don’t care much for ya’ll, but what I do care about is not destroying the world. I don’t think we can live alongside each other at any given time. Up to me, we’d still be a secret. But it ain’t up to me and the cat’s outta the bag now, and what Colonel Pegg wants is set things to right.”

“How does she propose to do that?” asked Mulcahey. His vision swam with sudden lightheadedness and he felt himself wobble.

“You’re not doing to well, are you, boy?” Darmond sniffed him. “You’d best get that back of yours looked at. It’s starting to get infected with something. Best do it soon or you’ll end up gimpy.”

“Why do you fucking care? Why tell him what’s wrong with him when you just told us that you could care less about us?” inquired Bernerd.

“I don’t care, but I don’t believe in cruelty for the sake of itself. Your boy’s all messed up, and it’s starting to make my stomach turn. Now fucking listen to me ‘cause I’m only gonna say this once. Me and mine are going to escort you home. Then we’re gonna let you go and you’re going to give a message to your General Hughes. Got it?”

“I understand,” said Shelby, stiffly. “What’s your message? And how did you even know we’d be here to get it? All this seems a little too convenient.”

“You people are like the vampires. Fucking cockroaches scurrying around, doing your thing, oblivious to how you’re spoiling everything around you. There’s no balance to anything anymore. Originally I was supposed to infiltrate your base and hook up with Hughes when Vance sent the sappers in to extract that nerd boy he’s so hot after. We found your convoy instead and that was like a goddamn Godsend to Vance. After that, the plan changed. Now I can get the message to where it needs to be without running the risk of getting my ass shot off. As far as I’m concerned, you get to live and so do I. It’s a win/win situation. Now shut your dick hangar and listen.”

Darmond leaned to Shelby’s ear and relayed the message that Pegg had given her. Her injured side grumbled at position. She was mostly healed from the self-inflicted wounds, but had still volunteered to join Vance’s column. It was a risky venture, but those were the chances Darmond took as Pegg’s go-to woman.

She leaned back and stared at Shelby with her steel blue eyes. “You get that?”

“I’ve got it, Ms. Darmond.”

“My first name is Tech Sergeant, Colonel. Now get up, we’re moving out.” She turned to her comrades. “Clear their weapons. Condition four for each of ‘em.” She turned to her prisoners. “You’ll get full magazines when reach Detrick. I don’t expect you to play nice, but I want your word that you won’t do something stupid like open up on us once you’re home free. It don’t mean much to most folks these days but a person’s word means something to me.”

“You could promise the same to us, but your two mates could,” said Bernerd, taking an empty rifle from the second female lycan. Suspicion filled his voice. “Or you could turn, and rip us a new one, or turn us. Hell anything-“

“Goddamn but you love to talk, don’t you? Now I think you got a pretty voice and if you were like me I’d go out with you, but you need to shut that gapping pussy in your face. Nothing’s going to happen to you so long as I’m around. I’m not planning on dying anytime soon and Parkes and Laskle aren’t either. You’re fucking safe. Now move out before I forget that it only takes one to deliver a message. Now give me your word. Each of you.”

Mulcahey, Bernerd, and Shelby promised they wouldn’t fire at their escorts once they reached Detrick. Shelby was reluctant to follow through with his promise as his word was one of the things he was proud of. Bernerd felt the same, but Mulcahey was sure he’d fire on them if he had a chance. He lived by the all’s fair in love and war rule and he’d give as good, if not better, then he got.

Darmond on the other hand would’ve shot all but Shelby if Bernerd had spoken again. She didn’t have any ill will toward them personally aside from being human. After living for over ninety years she’d seen what mankind was doing to the world, and it sickened her. In some circles, lycan or human, she would’ve been called a tree hugger for her beliefs.

She didn’t think any plant or animal was worthy of needless killing any more than she believed that lycans were superior to humans. Darmond simply recognized that the world couldn’t sustain any more growth. If keeping populations under control meant killing a few million humans and lycans then so be it. In her thinking, Vance was right in a lot of ways but genocide wasn’t anything that she or Pegg wanted a part of. The planet needed all species to live if for no other reason than its own continued survival.

All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.

 

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