Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders Chapter four

 

Chapter Four
Brownie: The First Law Dog in Space!

While Joey was telling his incredible story to Teddy and Puffy, Brownie was on his way to the far reaches of outer space. He was in a rather big room and trapped in a large transparent bubble made of a strange stickiness. Brownie being Brownie couldn’t resist the urge to lick to bubble that imprisoned him and was greatly surprised at how it tasted. “Gross!” he yelp with disgust. “This tastes like tree goo.”
“As it should Earth human,” said a loud squeaky voice from the corner of the room.

“Your cell is made from what you would call a ‘plant’ on your world.”

“A plant? You made this from a plant on my world?” Brownie asked curiously.
“No, we made this from a plant on my world,” the voice said. A moment later one of the alien worms walked from its dark corner toward Brownie.
“Then why did you say a plant from my world?” Brownie asked.
The alien sighed impatiently before answering Brownie. “I meant that it was made from something you call a plant on your world.”
“Why didn’t you say so?” Said Brownie as he sniffed another portion of the bubble. “Geez, you guys are more confusing than Joey. And why did you call me an Earth human?”
“That is what you are. You are an Earth human. Obviously a part of the ruling class judging by the domicile you found us in,” the alien said in a snobby voice.
Brownie laughed at hearing what the alien had said. “Boy, you guys are not too bright! There was nothing dome shaped about the barn you were in! Besides, I’m not a human; I’m a dog!”
The worm aliens’ beady eyes appeared to grow in surprise at Brownie’s response but the alien quickly regained its neutral expression. “Good try human. We know that you are the ruling class as we have watched with great interest your dealing on your land mass.”
Brownie laughed harder and longer this time, which annoyed the alien even more. It raised a tentacle that held the ray gun that had fired the silver beams at Brownie. “You will be silent! I will not tolerate your insolence!”
“I’m sorry,” Brownie said still laughing. “It’s just that you think I’m human and that I’m in charge of the farm!”
“Stop laughing! Your attempt at trickery will not work! We were disappointed that we were not able to get the dog accompanying you but when we return to your land mass we will succeed where we failed.”
Brownie was on the bottom of his bubble cell now rolling on the floor laughing. “You think Joey’s a dog! You are too much! He’s a duck, wormy!”
This made the alien furious. He fired a silver beam at Brownie but it didn’t have the same immobilizing effect as it did before. It in fact it made Brownie stop laughing and start moving one of his hind legs in a scratching motion.
“Ah, yes! That feels so good! It’s just like when the farmer scratches my belly,” he said smiling.
The alien was dismayed by what it saw. “Stop that this instant!” Shrieked the alien in a tone that sounded like it had started to breath helium. “Look what you’ve done! I’m beginning to hyperventilate!”
The alien shut the ray off and stomped all four of its feet out of the room. “What an annoying Earthling! The fubilizer is not meant to do anything pleasurable.”
Brownie couldn’t understand the alien anymore as it tromped away but the high-pitched squeals that he heard now hurt his head too much at that moment to think about it.

“Wow. Puffy’ll never believe this!” he said aloud. “These aliens are more high strung than Benny is!”
His talk with alien had tired him out more than he had wanted. He lay down and took a nap for a while before another alien worm entered the room. It was a different worm this time; Brownie could tell by the way it smelled.
“Awake, human!” The second alien squeaked.
“Huh? What do you want besides having me tell you that I’m not a human?” Brownie said in sleepy defiance.
The alien blinked its beady eyes at him and then spoke in a softer tone of voice. “Forgive me and my comrades, human. We mean you no harm we just wish to get to know you while we are on this long trip back to our home world.”
“Long trip back to your home world?” Brownie said as he cocked his head curiously. “Where do you guys live? Somerset county? I know that’s a long ways from where I live. You know that place where I live? It’s where you took me from.”
“We know we took you from Earth, human,” the alien said as he sat down. To Brownie it wasn’t sitting so much as it was watching the legs disappear into the alien worms body.
“Glad to hear it. Like I told your friend, I’m a dog. A law dog to be exact and not a human.”
“We are verifying what you say at this moment,” the alien said as it pulled a silver bag from inside its rust colored body suit. It opened the silver bag with a tentacle and scooped out a thick mud like substance and proceeded to eat it. The alien paused after its first bit and looked quizzically at Brownie.
“My apologies,” it said in squeaky sincerity. “Would you like some?”
Brownie was horrified by the offer. “Are you kidding? I know dirt when I smell it and I don’t eat dirt. I mean I eat a whole lot of things I probably shouldn’t but dirt’s not one of them.”
“Forgive me, please for indulging in this snack. Your world is made of such tasty food indeed.”
“It’s made up of dirt!” Brownie roared. “You know, dirt! The stuff you walk on?”
“We live in it actually. You will see that once you arrive on our planet,” the worm said before taking another bite of the mud it was eating.”
“At least it’s close to home and I can just walk back,” said Brownie optimistically.
This time it was the aliens turn to laugh and it sounded once again like a voice that had breathed in helium. “Human…”
“Dog!” Brownie said.
“Whatever,” responded the alien. “You are going to Pluto. Please look and see how far from home you truly are.” A tentacle waved through the air and Brownie was amazed to be able to see through the wall of the room and out into space.
“The planet we are now passing, you call Neptune on your world.”
“Holy baloney!” Brownie shrieked. “This is like the coolest thing ever! Uncle Teddy’ll never believe this!”
The alien was a little stunned and unsure about how to respond to Brownie’s reaction. “Um, yes. Coolest ever, of course.”
“I have a few questions, wormy,” Brownie said as he gazed at what he saw.
“My name is Kynorgblip,” said the alien. “And we know that you are called ‘Puffy’.”
Brownie whipped his head around in extreme surprise. “What do you think my name is, how can I understand you and what do you call yourself again, Knee-orb-lip?”
“Your name is Puffy, my fellow Plutonians and I release a chemical through our suits that allows you to speak to me and me to you, and I am called Kee-norg-blip,” explained the alien with great patience.
The thought of the alien having such a funny name coupled with the alien and his friends thinking that Brownie was Puffy caused Brownie endless laughter.
“Look, Dee-dork-flip, my name is Brownie, not Puffy. Puffy’s a cat and my bestest friend!”
My name is Kynorgblip!” the alien screamed, “I will also not tolerate any more of your human trickery.”
“Brownie is my name and I think I’ll call you Alphabet and I’m a dog!” Brownie said gleefully.
“Milnorpop was right!” Raged the alien in another helium sounding tone. “You are an infuriating beast!” The second alien worm turned off the view to space and stormed out like the first.
“Hey! I’m getting hungry, by the way!” Brownie shouted. He then started to giggle for no reason at all. “I’m getting hungry and you need to stop being so funny! Start with the food and stop with the funny!” Brownie howled as he fell onto his side and then into sleep.

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Werewolves of the Dead Chapter thirty

Chapter Thirty

Drexler awoke to thin sunlight piercing the horizon. She was exhausted and hungry. Sleeping in unconsciousness wasn’t restful like sleeping because you were sleepy. Not by a long shot.
She struggled to stand, and fought harder to keep upright. She went to wipe the hair from her face and realized that her left arm was unresponsive. Drexler looked down to find that particular appendage was a mass of broken bone and burnt twisted muscle and skin. Her gaze traveled up to her shoulder. It was just as ruined. She felt the right side of her face. It was rough and crusted with dried blood.
“Fuck,” she scoffed. “I need to eat. Goddess, am I hungry.”
She’d left the little bastard five or six miles back, she didn’t really remember, stashed in a grated drainage ditch. She’d snatched them right from underneath the soldiers’ noses with very little effort. The poor fools were tired, hungry, and their only lycan was busy with other pressing matters. It was easy just to wait for Shannon the Mongrel to leave with her…whatever she was…and then lure the mother out with the boy. She’d snatched them and kept them hidden from the soldiers without any of them being the wiser.
Department stores had hidden passages with strategically placed mirrors to look out for shoplifters. The only people that were privy to such knowledge were store managers and the police. She’d kept them in such a location, and in one instance, two soldiers had been mere inches from Drexler as she’d peered out at them. One of them had even flossed his teeth as she made faces at him on the opposite side of the glass. The bound and gagged woman had been alive then. She killed her right after the soldiers had left. Killing her sooner would have more than likely alerted them to her presence. Humans had a habit of soiling themselves when they expired. It made dining difficult, but sometimes you didn’t care. That was one of those times.
Drexler had stripped naked, transformed, and then killed the woman in front of the boy. She didn’t do it out of malice or to make the boy suffer. It had been a moment of opportunity. She was hungry and she needed to be fed. Human meat was more satisfying as a werewolf than a human. She derived no joy from the boys screams, if he did scream, she didn’t remember either way, or from the fact that once she had finished she realized the boy was unconscious. That worked out for her; it made transportation that much easier. She’d followed two miles behind the parting soldiers hoping to maybe take a straggler or two for additional ammo for her stolen weapon when she realized they were staying close to the freeway. They were either hoping to come across transport to save boot leather, or they were meeting up with another group.
That’s when she decided to stash the kid and run her own recon. If they were linking up with more, then she’d go her own way. There was only so many she could stand against and win. If not, then maybe she could do some damage. And things had worked out better than she had hoped. Things had also quickly gone sideways. She’d gotten overconfident and had paid for it. Now she was without useable salvage, but at least she had the boy.
“Hmmmmm. The boy.” Drexler began to salivate and that saliva dripped in thin drops from her the left corner of her mouth. Her wound needed those precious fluids so she forced her mind away from the hunger and the images that came with it. Her body was healing, but like anything else, no fuel meant slower recovery times. She had to get back.
Slowly, she began her trek back to her base camp, humming In the Year 2525. “If man is still alive. If woman can survive…” Drexler had always loved the song. She had given the thought of what lycan life would be like with such helpless meat at the ready. A pointless thought, but she entertained it even now. “I guess it’s time for the judgement day,” she said, glancing over at two slow moving figures over six hundred yards from her. They were shamblers and not worth her time and effort. Not that she had much effort left to give them. She blew them a raspberry and tromped onward.
In time she had made it back to the drainage ditch and was appalled to find the grate and been wrench away. Her meat was gone, but her stashed weapon and thermal imager remained buried under a reeking pile of washed up storm washed detritus.
“No, no, no, no,” she pleaded as she sloshed through the brackish water. She ran her hands through the water, splashing it everywhere in the vain hope that he had heard her coming and was holding his breath. He wasn’t there. The boy was really gone. She paused fist halfway to striking the wall in a mindless rage when she realized there was a scent. No, not a scent; scents. Both male, and not more than fifteen minutes old. They couldn’t have gone far. The men had only cared about the boy. They hadn’t searched for anything else. Maybe they thought he was in danger, with him being tied up and gagged, and decided that Good Samaritanism still applied.
“Ha!” Drexler scoffed as she dug in the mess for the rifle and the thermal imager. She looked at the imager and smashed it against the concrete wall. She’d only stolen it to take away any advantage it gave them in the night.
Drexler hurried out of the ditch, hunger almost forgotten.
“Fee fi fo fum,” she said sniffing the air. She followed the scent, breaking off from following once she felt comfortable they were going to continue on their main trek. They were avoiding the freeway, but keeping to space with nearly knee high crab grass that allowed them cover should they need it while allowing them a full range of sight for any trouble. They knew enough to be dangerous, but she knew more.
She circled wide, using her instinct the plot their course. She was off course twice but correctly quickly each time. Her stomach growled as she caught the boy’s scent. Fresh meat was on the menu for lunch and nothing was going to stop that ala cart treat.
Drexler crouched low as she moved along the grass. She could hear their faint voices as she closed on them. Were they laughing and whooping, and carrying on like they were on a hunting trip? And was that whimpering she heard? First and foremost, it sounded like they were having a high time, and as she raised up enough to aim the M4, she froze.
They were having a high time. A high hard one as a matter of fact, and at the cost of the boy’s virtue. They were raping him. Those motherless sons of cur bitches were raping that boy. She didn’t know what angered her more; the fact that they were bespoiling her meal or that they were sexually assaulting a child.
‘I’m a mother fucker,’ she thought, as she lowered her rifle, and eased her breathing, ‘but even I have a limit that must be maintained.’
She raised the rifle up quickly and squeezed off a shot. Her marksmanship skills were always sharp and the round that entered the man taking the boy from behind proved it. He slumped forward, pinning the boy beneath him.
The second had been massaging his hardened prick as he watched his friend work the boy over. The shot had taken him by surprise, and he dropped his dick and lurched for a bolt action rifle leaning against a battered backpack. Drexler squeezed the trigger again. The shot slammed into the shoulder of the arm reaching for the rifle.
“Don’t fucking move, and you won’t get hurt,” she said, rushing to the man. She kicked the rifle away. “Down on the ground, hands on your head, now!”
Drexler stomped on the man’s back, causing him to howl in pain.
“You’re a cop? Ain’t no jailing us now. World’s over,” he sputtered before Drexler moved her booted foot up to the back of his neck.
Her face itched like crazy. She scratched it and found that new skin was forming, but it was nowhere near what it could be if she were operating on a full tank. She hit the man on the back of the head, and quickly handcuffed him.
“You didn’t have to hit me again,” he cried as she flipped him over.
“Shut up,” snapped Drexler.
She moved to the boy and checked his pulse. He was out, and his breathing was slower than what it should be. She licked her lips and looked form him to the dead man. She laid her rifle down, and went to work on the man.
She tore out his neck at the shoulder and swallowed greedily.
“You’re one of them.” The man’s shrieks were high and shrill. The sounds he made were very similar to that of a terrified preteen human female. Hell, Drexler knew women that hadn’t screamed like that before their deaths. And how much more irritating and nerve wrecking he was to her hearing.
She whipped her face toward him. The change was evident on her face and she wanted to see it as she snarled at him. She knew her now lovely golden eyes and sharpening features would scare the man into submission. In reality, all he did was scream louder. She wrenched his dead friends arm out of the socket, the sound it made as it was ripped free was more satisfying than the sound it made when she struck him with it. His moan pleased her as his head slammed into the ground.
“Better,” she said, returning to the meal.
She fed until she was beyond satiated. This was the werewolf feeding equivalent to grudge fucking. It was satisfying, but not in the act itself. The act of stuffing her face and filling her cave like belly was nice, but the violence and rage that the act allowed free was the true release.
Drexler pushed herself away from the body and leaned back, propping herself up with her arms. Her stomach growled back at her in pain at the amount of redneck meat she had consumed. She belched loudly and laughed at the sound. She cut the mirth off as she remembered the boy.
“Child,” she asked, looking around the camp sight. The boy was gone. She moved toward the still unconscious dimwit.
“Where’s the boy,” hissed Drexler through her bloody teeth, meat wedged firmly into every crevice. “Where’s the boy?” she said, slapping him. She licked her muzzle anxiously as she struck him again and again. “Where’s.” Slap. Harder and louder. “The.” Slap. Slap harder and louder still “Boy.” Slap harder yet, followed by a sharp even louder crack.
“Shit.”
She opened her hand and watched the body fall to the ground.
“Shit. Fuck.”
Drexler stood and drew cool the air deeply into her lungs. The smell of decay and different gore caught her attention.
“Fucking shit.”
She ran full out in the direction of the smell. She crested a knoll and found two undead ripping into the boy. Neither noticed her approach as they performed their own gluttony. She reached the first, a newly dead mid-teen girl, and snapped her neck. The arms ceased their pulling at organs and flesh, though the mouth still worked at chewing the flesh, and the eyes still moved, seeking answers to where the body had gone.
The second, a boy of the same age, didn’t notice what had happened to his partner. He continued digging into the boy. The ripping sound of flesh had never bothered her, but this time the sound made even her cold skin crawl. The rip, slurp, crunch, rip, slurp, crunch repetitiveness tickled her conscious and subconscious mind. She almost had to force herself to move for the final kill with purpose and not overzealous anxiousness to end the noise. Drexler smoothly snapped his neck, giving it an extra pound of torque. Like the girl, his mouth still worked at what had been shoved into his mouth. Drexler stood, reverted back to her human form, and contemplated her next move.
“Oh well. What the hell,” she sighed, turning the boy’s head toward his left shoulder. She then pulled the boy’s corpse close to the girl’s. “Maybe you and she can gaze upon each other for however long it takes for you both to rot away. Gaze, and perhaps contemplate how damned ugly you are. Or how you’re love, be it true romance or sibling what have you, lead you to this place.”
She moved to the boy, and breathed deeply. She bent down to close his eyes. She paused when the mouth moved as her hand passed over it. He’d come back. He looked Drexler in the eyes and his mouth worked again, this time opening wider before snapping closed. She could’ve sworn that he was trying to say something, but she could’ve been wrong. Wrong or right, Drexler had to do something.
“Not good,” she said flipping him over. Organs that she had exquisite familiarity with spilled from the boy. “Oh what they have done to you,” Drexler said, searching her pockets. She didn’t have anything sharp on her so she searched the undead teenager first, and found nothing useful. The girl proved otherwise. She had a number two pencil stuck into her pulled up hair.
“Let’s give you a go,” Drexler said. She gave the pencil a twirl between her fingers as she straddled the boy.
With a well-honed motion she drove it into the back of the boy’s skull. Drexler flipped the boy’s body over, and was pleased to see the motions of the jaw and the searching eyes had stopped. She smiled down at the still face, the unseeing eyes and the aging that death and undeath had brought to his face. “Come along, Sonny-Jim,” Drexler said, sweetly brushing the boy’s hair from his face. “I must make sure that you are reunited with your friends.”

This work is copyrighted by Jason McKinney. Any use, in whole or in part, is prohibited unless authorized by the author.

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Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders Chapter three

Chapter Three
Joey’s Fantastic Tale

Teddy and Puffy woke up the brilliant summer morning feeling well rested. They walked out into the farmyard to accompany the farmer on his morning rounds of the farm. When Brownie didn’t run up to them like he did every morning, Puffy and Teddy knew something was wrong.
Puffy looked around the farmyard but didn’t see Brownie anywhere. “Where’s that goofy brown menace,” Said Puffy in an annoyed voice.
“That’s a good question, old friend,” Teddy said as he turned from watching the farmer feed the cows to looking around. “He’s not even in the farmyard or we would have seen or at least heard him by now.”
Just then a loud quacking filled the air as Joey swooped in from the pasture. He landed clumsily in front of the barn and skidded to a stop ten feet away.
“We’ve got to help Brownie!” Joey said as he stood up and then fell over after taking a couple steps.
“What?” Teddy barked. “What do you mean we’ve got to help Brownie?”
“Brownie’s in trouble? Where, Joey? Where is he?” Puffy growled.
The farmer came out of the barn to see what the commotion was all about. He saw Joey attempt to stand up and fall over again before running to Joey. Teddy and Puffy ran closely behind him.
“Land of gumption!” The farmer yelled before he gently picked Joey up. “What have you done to yourself duck?” He asked as he walked back to the farmhouse with Joey in his arms.
Wilma, Florence and Stella Cow had all come out of the barn when they heard about Joey’s current troubles.
“What’s the matter duck?” Stella mooed loudly as she walked to the fence. Got into the farmer’s cider again!”
Teddy turned to look at Stella and her sisters. “You gals just need to tend to your hay. This may be official farm law business.”
“Why do you keep him around anyway, Sheriff?” Florence said in a shrill voice. “He’s not one of us!”
Puffy who was halfway back to the farmhouse with the farmer, ran back to face the cows. “You watch your mouth, cow!” Puffy snapped back. “You’re right, he ain’t one of you! He’s a duck who serves this community and has laid his life on the line time and again to protect you and me both!”
Florence and Stella stood dumbfounded before they tried to stutter a response. “You… I mean…who are you…Sheriff! We don’t have to stand for this do we?” Stella sputtered.
“Ladies, go back inside and we’ll forget all about what you’ve said here” Said Teddy sternly.
Florence and Stella slowly walked inside their barn leaving Wilma behind. “I’m sorry, Sheriff. Deputy Puffy, I apologize for the way my sisters acted. I truly hope Deputy Joey is fine,” Stella said with care in her voice.
“Thanks, Wilma,” Teddy said. “I know he will be. We’ll see you later.” Teddy and Puffy returned to the farmhouse at a quick walk.
“We need to find out what happened to Brownie and Joey as quickly as possible” Teddy said as Puffy walked through the pet door.
“You got that right, boss,” Puffy responded once they were both in the farmhouse living room.
The farmer sat at the kitchen table and held Joey in his lap. “What did you get into, duck,” The farmer said as he trimmed some of Joey’s wing feathers with a small pair of scissors. “You got singed feathers here and a heck of a goose egg on your head.”
Joey turned his head toward Teddy and Puffy and started to quack in a whisper to them. Teddy quietly barked to Joey. When Teddy stopped, Puffy started to switch between growling and meowing to Joey. At one point Joey pulled his wing out of the farmers’ hand as if he were showing it to Teddy and Puffy. The farmer was amused at the animals acting as if they were talking to each other, but he put it off to animal concern mixed with friendship and nothing more. If he knew what they were really saying he would have been greatly surprised.
What the three law animals had actually said to each other was this. “Boss, we have to…we have to get Brownie back,” Joey said tiredly.
“Take your time, my friend and speak slowly,” Teddy said as he sat down. “What do you mean we have to get Brownie back? Where is Brownie, Joey?”
“It was aliens, Teddy,” Said Joey softly. “Aliens took Brownie last night while we were on our patrol.”
“What? What nonsense is that your talking about, Joey?” Puffy said in disbelief. “Aliens took Brownie? You’ve been into the cider while watching X-Files, haven’t you?”
“Does this look like something cause by cider and a TV?” Joey asked as he jerked his wing away from the farmer and held it up.
“I’m just saying that it’s far fetched is all,” Puffy said as he looked away.
Teddy glanced at Puffy before speaking to Joey. “Just tell me what happened after you and Brownie left for patrol.”
“We saw pink flashes coming from the pasture so we went to have a look. The flashes were coming outta the old barn and when we got there we saw three giant worm looking things trying to fix a flaying saucer made outta rocks or something.”
At that moment, the farmer finished trimming Joey’s feathers and placed him on the ground. Joey gave his wings a little flap to see how they were and promptly collapsed to the floor.
“You act like you done flew a million miles, duck. You should take it easy for a while,” The farmer said as he picked Joey up again and then carrying him out to the front porch. Puffy and Teddy quickly followed and watched the farmer walk out into the farmyard to finish his morning chores.
“So what happened after you saw the ‘worm things’ and their flying saucer?” Puffy inquired sarcastically.
“You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” Joey loudly quacked.
“No one thinks you’re crazy,” Teddy calmly said.
“No, I do think he’s crazy,” Puffy said which made Joey even more upset.
“I ain’t saying anything till ya make that grumpy flea ridden excuse for a cat apologize!” Joey said as he flapped his wings. That didn’t help Joey’s cause any because he then promptly fell over onto his left side.
“I’m sorry, Joey”. Puffy said with mock sincerity before Teddy could interject. “You’re not crazy, you’ve been into the cider!”
“I have not!” Joey howled as he tried to get back onto his feet.
“DEPUTIES!” Teddy roared. “CALM DOWN!”
Teddy’s loud barks calmed both Puffy and Joey down as well as shame them into silence.
“Look, you seem to think Joey’s been up to no good, Puffy,” Teddy said impatiently, “So please tell me where you think Brownie is?”
“I don’t know, probably sleeping off his share of the fun somewhere,” said a sulking Puffy.
“Argh! Will ya please listen!” Joey pled. “Brownie and I were attacked last night by aliens.”
“Calm down, Joey. Please tell me what happened after you saw the aliens,” Said Teddy.
“We watched them using some pink ray gun thing to fix their…ship I guess ya’d call it when one of them saw us. We tried to get away but they had some gizmo gadget that shot out silver rays that kept me and Brownie from getting away.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” Teddy said. “So how were you able to escape, Joey?”
Joey appeared lost in thought for a moment. “I don’t know. Maybe my flying had something to do with it. Brownie’s stuck on the ground but I’m not so maybe their ray guns don’t work so well on things that fly.”
“Alright,” Puffy began. “This is all very interesting but now let’s go find Brownie and get on with our business.”
“Fine!” Joey screamed. “You don’t wanna believe me, that’s just fine. I’m going right back up to that barn and get our pal back.” Joey flew into the air about three feet then crashed back down. “Wow. Dear God am I tired. Farmer’s right. I do feel like I flew a million miles.”
Puffy rolled his eyes at Joey as Joey sat down on the ground in front of them.
“Go on up to the porch, Joey,” Teddy said kindly. “Puffy and I will go to the pasture and barn to look around. Just rest there till we get back.”
“Okay, I’ll do that but ya better be careful. Those worms play for keeps.” Joey walked up the porch steps and sat down under the farmers’ favorite rocking chair.
“Don’t worry, Joey. Hopefully we won’t see any giant duck eating snails while we’re out either,” Puffy said with a laugh.
“Ah, stick it in yer ear, cat! You’ll see I was for real when ya get there!” Joey said as Teddy and Puffy left the farmyard.

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Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders Chapter two

I figured why not post the second chapter. It’s been a while since Sheriff Teddy has seen the light of day.

Brownie and Teddy are real animals, by the way. Brownie was two years old when I wrote this nine years ago, and Teddy had past away three years earlier. The personalities for both dogs portrayed in the books are true to life. Well, to a certain extent it’s true to life with Teddy. Brownie is spot on, but Teddy… Teddy was something else at times.

I only knew Teddy through my wife, Tabitha. Teddy was her dog and she loved him dearly. “He’s a great dog,” she’d say. “He’s soooooo sweet.” Yeah, he was so sweet. I, on the other hand, have a different memory of him. I only met him once and that was more than enough.

Here’s a fun fact about Teddy. The only time I “met” him was while visiting Tabitha. It was my first trip to her home, so no one had first hand knowledge of me. We were best friends, and this was two years before we even began dating. Yes, I wanted to be her boyfriend, but she was with someone at the time. I was in the friend zone, and quite happy with that. Seriously, I was. Don’t judge me. My patience paid off! Anyway…

“Wait here. I have to put Teddy up,” she said, opening the front door. “Okay,” I responded. I was going to meet her folks and I was a little nervous. I should have been afraid. Once that front door opened a great white horse came bounding towards me. “I got him,” she called to her parents. Tabitha went left to intercept Teddy, and that’s when this dog with brilliant tactics reminiscent of George S. Patton and Erwin Rommel made his feint before launching his pincer movement.

I vaguely remember someone screaming Teddy’s name before he clamped down on my posterior. That’s right, he bit me in the ass. My memory says I was facing him head on as he rushed towards me, but the physical evidence says I was more in the processes of making a retreat. You bet I ran. That dog was huge and pissed.

To this day she still laughs at the way that he tried to warn her that there was something wrong with me.

“He was protecting me,” she says, always laughing at the memory.

“He hated me,” I always answer.

“Well you know what they say, baby. Stranger, danger. And they get no stranger than you.”

I have to admit, I find the recollection funny as hell, too.

With that said and shared, I hope you enjoy Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders Chapter two, dear reader!

Chapter Two

A Duck, A Dog and Three Worms

 

Brownie and Joey silently went about patrol. Joey was still taken by the wonder of the shooting stars. The only thing Joey said as the ambled along was, “amazing, simply amazing’.

“It is pretty awesome,” agreed Brownie.

“Hmmm? Oh yeah, it is. If I’d known life could be like this I’d have moved here a long time ago.”

“I love it here. All the food I can eat, all the friends I could want, and not to mention that everybody loves me.”

A small chuckle escaped from Joey’s bill. “Yeah, everyone loves ya, buddy. Manfred sure does.”

Brownie smiled. “Yep, he’s my best friend.”

Joey chuckled again. “Let’s get this patrol over so we can go home and get some sleep.”

They patrolled the area between the only road leading into and out of the farm to the cornfield. Both were content to find that everything was calm.

They had decided to call the night complete when Joey noticed pink light flashing from the pasture where the old barn was located. At first Joey thought it was a flash from a shooting star, but when he saw it again he mentioned it to Brownie.

“Did ya see that, Brownie?”

“See what?” answered Brownie as they continued walking to the farmhouse.

“That flash of pink by the Pasture of Banishment. There were two of ‘em.”

“Nope, didn’t see it.”

Just then another pink flash appeared over the pasture’s horizon. Joey stopped suddenly and stared in its direction. “There it was again,” quacked Joey excitedly. “I love ya to pieces, but please stop and look ya blind brown goof!”

Brownie stopped and turned his head toward the pasture in time to see another pink flash. “Cool! Maybe the farmer’s building a cotton candy machine or something.”

“Somehow I doubt it, Brownie. I think we should take a look out there.”

“Do you think that a good idea? It could be a surprise for us.” Brownie’s voice sounded timid.

“Don’t matter if it is or not. We’re law animals and it’s our job to check out stuff like this.”

“I don’t know, Joey. Going through the woods at night is dangerous.”

Joey thought for a moment and then agreed with Brownie. “Good call, pup. We’ll cut through the pasture. It’s a longer walk, but it’s safer.” Joey ducked under the fence and waddled toward the flashes.

Brownie barked at Joey. “Hey, wait up! You forgot me!”

“Nobody forgets you, Brownie. Ever,” whispered Joey. “Now keep it down. We don’t know what’s going on out there.”

“Okay, let’s just be quiet,” Brownie whispered back.

They walked as silently as they could through the pasture, not speaking to each other until they came within sight of the barn. The barn stood dark for a few seconds, and then lit up in a series of bright pink flashes.

“What is this?” whispered Joey suspiciously. “Whatever is in that barn is lighting up the entire inside.”

“Yeah, well, we saw it now let’s go home and tell Uncle Teddy.” Brownie sounded frightened.

“Just wait a moment. We need to see what’s in there.” Without warning Joey waddled closer to the barn doors.

Brownie shook nervously, but his concern for Joey overcame his fear. He found Joey staring intently through a crack in the door.

“Look at that,” said Joey almost breathlessly. “What’s going on here?”

Brownie looked in the direction Joey stared and saw a large brown saucer shaped object laying flat on the barn floor. The saucer looked as if it were made from dirt and rocks. Its rocky exterior took up most of the inside of the old barn.

Running around the saucer were three odd looking creatures that resembled earthworms. Each had a toothless mouth and two beady eyes. The aliens walked on four stubby legs, had two tentacles for arms and were dressed in rust colored suits that covered most of their worm like bodies. Their bodies were close to the same color as their flying saucer.

The creatures appeared to be repairing their ship. They stopped from time to time and squealed at each other in high-pitched tones. On the end of each of their tentacles were large silver, three pronged fork-shaped objects that emitted the bright pink flash that filled the barn.

The flash looked like it was sealing holes in the saucer, using large clumps of dirt scattered around. The creatures didn’t seem to notice the deputies watching them. They were too intent on accomplishing their task.

“Oh my,” said Brownie in stunned voice, “that’s a flying saucer and those are aliens.”

“Ya got that right, mac,” said Joey. He refused to take his eyes off the saucer. “We gotta get to Teddy and tell him about this. He’ll have a cow.”

“That’s impossible, Joey,” responded Brownie lowly. “Teddy’s a dog so he can’t have a cow.”

“Whatever, Brownie. We need to get outta here.” Joey looked away from the saucer and its three unusual inhabitants. “Come on. We’re leaving.”

“No way. This is just like the X-Files. How cool is that?”

“It’s cool, but we’re still leaving, pup. C’mon,” hissed Joey impatiently, swatting Brownie in the head with his wing.

Just then a louder, higher pitched squeal came from within the barn. Joey looked back in time to see one of the wormy aliens pointing its silver fork at him and Brownie. The others stopped what they were doing, and squealed as well.

“LET’S GET OUTTA HERE,” quacked Joey in panic. He ran across the pasture and was about to fly away when he realized that Brownie hadn’t left with him. He turned toward the barn and found Brownie still at the barn door.

“Brownie,” screamed Joey. It didn’t work. Joey flew to the barn as fast as he could and bit down on Brownie’s bobbed tail. Brownie yelped loudly and turned to Joey.

“You bit me!” Brownie cried out incredulously.

“Ya bet I did. Now come on!” Joey took a second to look into the barn again, and saw that the worm aliens were half way to them.

“They can’t move all that fast, doofy, and so now’s the time to go!” Joey yelled.

A bright silver light ray flashed over Joey and Brownie’s heads. Brownie then ran off done the pasture toward the farm and Joey flew off in the same direction. Silver rays flew past Joey as he soared through the night sky. He looked down and saw two of the alien worms running after Brownie firing their silver ray guns at him as well.

Joey flew back around and went into a dive at the two aliens pursuing Brownie. He landed on one of them for a couple of seconds and pecked at one of the alien worm’s head. It squealed loudly and frantically waved its tentacles over its head. A moment later, Joey was back in the air and away from the invaders. He looked back to check on Brownie and saw something made his heart sink.

There was Brownie being held in the middle of a silver ray. The ray didn’t appear to be hurting Brownie but it made him yelp in panic and kept him from running off. Joey went into another dive after the invader that had the ray on Brownie. The other two saw Joey coming and focused their rays on trying to capture him. Joey flew in and out of the rays’ paths but was unable to get back to Brownie.

“Help me, Joey!” Brownie cried.

“I’m coming, buddy!” Joey responded as he flew back to rescue Brownie. He circled around the alien and tried to knock the ray gun off the tentacle but missed. Instead Joey found himself trapped in a silver ray. Unlike Brownie, it didn’t stop him from flying but it slowed him down greatly. The ray didn’t hurt it just made moving very hard.

“Let me go, ya fishing bait rejects! Let my buddy go too or I’ll make a Christmas present for the fish outta ya!” Joe bellowed.

The alien worm that had Joey appeared to be having a hard time controlling the ray while he was in it. The invaders then started to move back toward the barn taking Joey and Brownie with them.

“This isn’t cool anymore!” Brownie howled. “This isn’t cool and I want to go home!”

“Don’t worry, Brownie!” Joey yelled. “I’ll get ya out!” Joey flapped his wings harder and faster than he ever had in his life. He felt that he was able to gain moment the longer he tried and then suddenly Joey was flying free through the air.

“I’m free, Brownie!” Joey yelled hopefully. “I’ll get ya out…” Joey never finished his encouragement to Brownie because he flew straight into the barn wall. He flew so hard into the wall that he knocked himself unconscious. When Joey awoke a few hours later the sun had come up and Brownie, the invaders and the saucer were gone.

 

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Once upon a time… Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders

Once upon a time I wrote kids books. I still dabble from time to time in that genre, and I regret not doing it more. Tabitha is the one that mentioned the subject of this post.

“You know, baby, you’ve written a lot of stuff,” she said to me this evening over dinner.

“Yeah, I guess I have. Why’d you bring that up?” I asked before cramming my hot ham and Swiss sub into my overly large mouth.

“I was just thinking about Sheriff Teddy. I remember when you wrote all those for him when he was little.” She took little bites of her sub. She’s dainty like a mouse, eating a bit of cracker. I’m like a bulldozer gouging the life out of my food. I bet you get the picture.

“I had fun writing those.”

“Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders was the best of those. You should work on getting that published.”

“It was funny, wasn’t it?” I had to smile at the memory of writing that. I thought it was a pretty funny story.

“It was more than funny. It was the best thing you’ve ever written. Seriously. You should look into getting it out there.”

“Hm. Okay. I’ll post it weekly on the blog.”

“Great idea. Make it a weekly thing.”

“You’re so smart, sweetie.”

“That’s why you married me.”

She gave me a wink to make sure I knew she was serious. She’s right though. That was one of the reasons I married her.

So to lightening things up and to make sure it sees the light of day, here’s chapter one of Sheriff Teddy and the Plutonian Invaders.

Introduction

On a little farm in Nebraska there was an old albino German Shepard named Teddy, an orange and white fluffy cat named Puffy, a big, anxious eleven-month-old brown puppy named Brownie and a wise cracking white duck named Joey. Teddy was the farmyard sheriff and Puffy, Brownie and Joey were his faithful deputies.  They loved their jobs as much as they loved their farm.

The two law dogs, law cat, and law duck have had more than their fair share of adventures, but nothing could have prepared them, or the farm, for their latest adventure.

The hard-working mystery-solving quartet has confronted menaces like weasels, mad goats, human sheep stealers and Deputy Brownie’s out of control happiness. Never in a million years did they or any animal on the farm expect to have to deal with invaders from outer space.

 

Chapter One

What a Night!

On a typical late summer night at the farm’s pond, Geraldine Goose got into more trouble than she ever thought possible. A mysterious visitor watched her as she slept. After hours of patient waiting, the visitor crept toward her. With swift speed and surprising agility, he snatched her from her nest, placed a rubber band on her bill, and dumped her into a burlap bag. Geraldine tried to call for help, but the rubber band was too tight. She tried to struggle, but the bag was too small. Then that her kidnapper spoke to her.

“They told me you would struggle, but as you can see, mon cher, it is pointless,” whispered the voice. “Ah, but I have you now and you are much wanted elsewhere.”

Geraldine struggled harder, but still couldn’t free herself. She felt like she was being bounced around on an animal’s back for the longest time. Before Geraldine knew it, she felt as if she was flying. For the first time ever she felt airsick.

 

***

 

At the farmhouse, Sheriff Teddy, Deputy Puffy, Deputy Joey, and Deputy Brownie sat on the front porch, enjoying the warm summer evening.

Puffy, who hated summer, spent his time trying to smooth out his uncooperative fur.

Teddy and Joey, neither of which minded summer, spent their time watching the shooting stars streaking across the sky. Brownie, who didn’t notice weather of any kind, was busy barking loudly, and running across the farmyard.

Puffy had a hard time concentrating on his appearance due to Brownie’s barking and decided to intervene on his peace of mind’s behalf. “Dog gone it, Brownie! What in the name of peace and quiet are you doing? You the know the law against disturbing the peace applies to you too!”

“Sorry Puffy,” answered Brownie, “I’m just trying to get the stars’ attention. They look like they’re visiting everywhere else except here and I don’t appreciate that.” Brownie began barking louder at the stars.

“Sheriff,” called a voice from the sheep pen. “Please get him to be quiet! Sam and Sally are trying to go to sleep!

“I apologize about that Shirley,” answered Teddy. He looked at his nephew as he ran by. “Brownie, please stop that. Just so you know the stars aren’t really falling to Earth.”

Brownie stopped barking, and turned his attention to Teddy. “Really, Uncle? If they aren’t falling here, then where are they going? I mean they can’t just disappear, can they?”

Puffy being Puffy couldn’t resist the urge to tease Brownie “I can tell you where they’re going. They’re running away in fear because you’re Earth’s mightiest pest.”

“Really? See I told you I was the best at something. Thanks to you, I now know what that is.” Brownie held his head high and grinned.

Teddy could do nothing but laugh. “Brownie, falling stars are space rocks that burn up in the atmosphere. They disappear when there’s no more rock or no more atmosphere for the rock to skim against.”

“Burning rocks? Holy cow,” said Brownie in wonder. “Why would you want rocks filled with burning stuff to come down from the sky? Somebody really needs to do something about that.”

“Indeed, nephew.” Teddy returned his gaze to the sky.

Meanwhile Joey stood by and placidly listened to their conversation. Usually Joey would have added a few wise cracking remarks, but he, too, was intently focused on the nighttime show.

“It’s so beautiful,” said Joey, looking up in amazement.

“It is a beautiful night, Joey,” remarked Teddy.

“Well, yeah it is, boss, but this…these falling stars and all… it’s just…beautiful.” Joey didn’t sound like a tough duck from New Jersey. At that moment he sounded like a child watching their first fireworks show.

“Yep, it’s nice,” added Puffy, “but this heat’s not helping my fur at all.”

Joey had another chance to let his humor show, but he didn’t say anything. He simply continued looking at the sky.

“Hey Joey,” said Brownie, joining Joey. “Do you want to go on patrol with me?”

Joey didn’t hear Brownie. He silently sat looking up at the colorful streaks filling the sky.

“Joey!” Brownie’s bark caught Teddy and Puffy’s attention more than Joey’s.

“Huh? What?” answered the distracted duck.

“Do you want to go on patrol with me? Maybe see the stars from another spot?”

“Yeah, sure, Why not.” answered Joey, standing. He walked to the farmhouse pet door, but was stopped by Teddy.

“Joey, patrol is out there. You’re heading inside the farmhouse.”

“Oh, yeah.” Joey turned and walked back to Brownie. “You ready, Brownie?”

“Hey Joey,” called Teddy. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Sheriff. I’m just really struck by all of this wonder and beauty. We never see anything like this in the city.”

“I’m glad to hear you’re okay. I was getting worried about you for a second. You two have a good patrol.”

“And make sure not to get lost, okay?” added Puffy jokingly.

“And you make sure not to get yer tongue tied into knots dealing with that rats nest you call fur,” responded Joey in a teasing voice.

“He’s okay, boss,” said Puffy to Teddy. “He just needed the proper push to get back on track.”

“Yer never far from my thoughts, cat,” called Joey as he waddled to the farm’s boundary lines with Brownie.

“You just be sure not to get lost, smelly duck!” retorted Puffy, watching them leave.

“Furball!” called Joey as he and Brownie disappeared into the darkness.

“You love that duck, Puffy, and you know it,” said Teddy.

Puffy grunted while he continued grooming. “He’s okay. Just like Brownie’s okay.”

“Right,” said Teddy skeptically. “I’m going in. I’ll see you inside.” Teddy disappeared through the pet door.

Puffy stopped grooming to stare at the shooting stars. ‘Joey’s right,’ he thought. ‘It truly is beautiful.’ Puffy watched for five more minutes before following Teddy lead into the farmhouse.

 

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Help

“4 Adam 6, we’re 10-97.”
“4 Adam 6, do you require assistance?” Dispatch never made me feel better about anything.
“Negative, dispatch. We’re code 6.”
“Roger.”
I placed the microphone back on the cradle and stepped from my car.
‘They give you the feeling that help is always around the corner.’ I was told that once by my field training officer. Of course, she’d always finish up with, ‘Intermediaries never help as quick as direct action though. For us, they’re good for letting them know what location to find the bodies.’
This felt like was one of those times.
“I’m glad we get the vagrant calls,” said my partner, Roy Valdez. “No one ever misses them. Plus they’re always rife with taint anyway so that’s an added bonus.”
“Don’t you ever shut up, Roy? Show some respect.”
“They’re only dirty flotsam people, Penn. The cast offs and shit like that.”
“You know, when you talk like that you only show how little time you’ve spent on the job.”
“So? You’ve been doing this for, what? Ten years? That’s not long.”
“Eleven,” I corrected as we strolled across the park.
It was coming up on 10PM, and the park still had people milling around. The closest was a group of two men and a woman, about a hundred and fifty feet way. I made sure to make eye contact with them. I focused for a few seconds on each pair of eyes. Their eyes flashed green briefly at me as we made our way to the location of the disturbance call.
I gave them the I’m-watching-you hand signal. They just kept staring at me.
“Damned angels,” I groused.
“Hey, I think this is the one of the guys we’re looking for.”
The man was sprawled out on the park bench. Normally the homeless could be found lying down, facing outwards, or sleeping while sitting up. This guy looked like he was about to roll off the bench and splash across the ground. I could already smell the blood and it smelled like a lot.
Roy knelt beside the man and shook his shoulder. “Hey, buddy. LAPD. You okay?” Roy shook him again, harder. He looked quizzically to me, that stupid grin plastered across his face. I stared hard back at him.
“Respect,” I said with an edge to my voice.
“Right.” His face soured before he shook the man harder. “Sir. Los Angeles Police Department. Are you okay?” The playful malevolence was gone from Roy’s voice. Now, he was just angry. “Wake the Hell up, drunkie.”
I was about to say something to Roy when the man stirred and lifted his face to us. “Wha…” he said weakly. “Wha happened?” His voice was slurred from his lips puffy, pulped lips. The man’s left eye was swollen shut and even in the dark I could see it and the adjoining cheek had taken on a raging purple hew. “I think I got hurt,” he said, producing a small bloody bubble from between his lips. The bubble popped midsentence. Roy sprang back to his feet in disgust. He jerked out his flashlight and raised it above his head to add to the vagrant’s misery.
“I’m not going to tell you again. Repect.” My eyes flash menacingly at him. While I may have agreed with him personally, we were in uniform and that made things different, even if by just a little.
“You and your morals.” Roy’s lip curled at me.
I glared at him, making him stare into my eyes. He quickly turned away and held a hand out to me to talk to the vagrant.
“Call for an ambulance, Roy.” I knelt down to the man. “Sir, my name is Officer Penelope Penn. Can you sit up and talk, or at least just talk and let us know what happened?”

“I can talk.” The Hell he could. His words were mashed and it was all I could do to understand him. “Three people… three people were messing with me. I just want to be left alone. But they scattered my stuff everywhere. Said I was unworthy of having what I got. Then one of them hit me again and again and-.”
I speak numerous languages, but understanding him was difficult at best.
I stroked his head. He was unworthy like the rest, but what was done to him was unnecessary. Killing him outright would have been better.
“What’s your name, sir? Do you remember your name? Do have any ID?”
“Wentworth,” he said, struggling to sit up. “Gilbert Wentworth. I live… I live in the park. I just wanna be left alone.” The last sentence was a plea more than a statement.
“Hey, Penn. Ask him if it was those three losers over there that beat him up.”
“Mr. Wentworth, were the ones who attacked you the people behind me?” I leaned over, hoping he had enough space to make an ID.
“I dunno.” His good eye closed as he laid his head back down.
“Hey, Mr. Wentworth.” I nudged him. “Mr. Wentworth.” I nudged harder. He snorted softly. “Gilbert.” I pushed him hard enough to crack a backboard in the bench. The audible crack could have been his clavicle giving way in time with the board.
“Oops,” I said in unison with Roy. Unlike Roy I felt a twinge of guilt over it.
“Jinx.” Roy smiled that razor toothed shark smile at me. By God I hated him sometimes.
“Where’s the ambulance? You called for it, right?”
Roy shrugged. “Yeah. I don’t think he’s going to be around long enough to enjoy the ride though.”
“Stay here. I’m going to talk to those ‘people.’ If they were the ones, I’m taking them in.”
“Might be pointless, Penn.” Roy looked concerned, not for their safety, but for mine. “They look above it all to me. You know? Hell, maybe they called it in. It’s possible.”
“Stand watch over him. I’ll be back in a tic.”
I went to pull away and realized that Roy was holding onto my sleeve.
“Please, Penelope. I don’t like this. I called for assistance so let’s wait-”
I jerked my arm from him and proceeded to the three good citizens.
“Good evening. I’m Officer Pen-”
“We know you, Officer Penelope Penn,” said the only female in the trio. She was a redhead and tried to give the impression of demure stature and attitude. I knew better. I sensed a giant in her that was straining at its leash. “We know you, and we know what you are.” She spoke with calm smugness, and I felt her arrogant attitude straining to be unleashed.
“And you are?” The fact that they, and by they I mean her in particular, made my blood boil more than usual confirmed my suspicions as I had talked to Mr. Wentworth.
“We are only humble citizens of the City of Angels, Officer. We saw a fellow human in trouble and made the call to insure he received the help he needed.” The woman smiled at me. Her perfect teeth and pleasing breath was sickening. She smelled of mint, and I hated mint of any kind. It came off her in waves and it did little for my growing anger.
“I get it,” I said, keeping my teeth from becoming the needle points I saved for intimidating suspects in truly difficult matters. “You’re just a Lordship on a stroll with her Powers dogs. Thought you’d take a trip through the park and catch the night air to clear your minds. Is that it?”
The redhead smiled beatifically at me. I hadn’t shaken her, but the Powers behind her had stepped out in an attempt to flank me if need be.
“Oh no, Officer,” she said, her face going into a mock look of dismay. “Now you have us.” I have to give her credit for not laughing. Angels like to laugh; God or Satan knows why. They have no reference to hardship, especially the hardship of others, and that pisses me off. God or Satan knows why.
“You’re on my beat, Angel. I don’t know why your boss declared open season on humankind, but…” I was at a loss for words. I didn’t care about humanity, LAPD be damned, but in the past century the angels were horning in on our territory. Where once we tormented mankind by making them turn on each other by bringing out their worst, the Angelic Hosts were physically targeting humans for sadistic pleasure. For us demons, it wasn’t a matter of maintaining a balance, but saving face. We were the bad guys. I was a cop because it was a guaranteed soul feast. Now I was witnessing things that enraged even me. What the Hell happened to the world.
I must have really lost my train of thought because the Lordship was just an inch from being face to face with me.
“But what, Officer? Do you really live by what it says on the door of your car? To protect and to serve? You may be Asmodeus, but you come across as Nephilim. You protect and serve humans? You reek of them.” Her voice was starting to lose the calm and was undergoing a transformation into self-righteous zealot.
Her sweet breath streaming into my nose was my trigger. I gripped her by the throat, lifted her off her feet, and pulled out my pistol. I alternated my aim between the Powers, who had become as they naturally are.
The Powers human street clothes disappeared in a flash, and were replace with Romanesque armor and shield. Dear Beelzebub they looked pretentious. These ‘enlightened protectors’ had bought into man’s image of them.
“You’re under arrest for assault. Place your weapons on the ground.” My eyes flashed Hellfire as I used the Lordship as a shield. I could feel my strength growing as my horns pierced my flesh and I moved her in front of each Power as they sought to close with me.
“I believe their shields are mightier than the one you wear, Officer Penn,” tittered the Lordship maliciously.
“Get back,” said Roy, joining me. He had his pistol out and his flashlight on. Why was he trying to blind beings that he knew could look harmlessly into the sun until it burned out?
“How sweet,” the Lordship said brightly. “The Abaddon has come to stick up for his bitch.”
“Back it up or I swear to your boss I’ll pop all of you.”
My first reaction to Roy’s bravado was, ‘Surprise, surprise, He’s become the epitome of the job for once,’ but then I replayed what he’d said. “That’s not protocol, Roy.”
“Yeah, well, the guy’s dead. He looks like he keeled over from a heart attack, not getting the crap beat out of him.”
“What?”
“His body healed right in front of me. He said he was feeling better, then all of a sudden, he gasped, and then flooded my space with death breath. They did their funky Angel crap on him to cover it up.”
The Powers’ armor transformed back into their street clothes, and they took a step back while moving closer together.
The Lordship laughed merrily as she pried my fingers apart. My fingers burned with her Angelic light and I could smell the brimstone we demons carried spilling from the scorched flesh. Hellfire has nothing on Angelic light these days.
She backed up from me, swinging her arms back and forth, mocking us. “Oopsy daisy. I guess Hell-spawn are unable to multi-task. I’ll give you this one for free because you’re good people. Our boss quit around a century and a half ago. He really gave up caring about this so why should we. But keep up the good work on that whole serve and protect thing. You’re doing great.”
She and the Powers winked out before us, leaving behind that mint smell.
“Why do they have to leave an area smelling like a damned Orbit factory. I hate it.”
“That’s all you can say?” I was beyond incredulous. “She just admitted that God’s gone. Judas! Have we been lied to this whole time?” I holstered my pistol, and rubbed my left hand. The blistering was disappearing, but the burning felt like it was rooted in my bones. I rushed back to Mr. Wentworth only to find that Roy wasn’t mistaken. Mr. Wentworth was not only dead, but looked…younger. Leave it to Angels to restore some youth to someone they murdered.
“Penn,” said Roy, putting his hand on my shoulder. I shrugged him off. “Penn, seriously, listen. You had to have heard the rumors.”
“Yeah, but mostly from humans! I heard the majority of the God was dead or God’s given up BS from them. I’ve even heard it from Mammon and Belial to the Pythius of Lucifer’s throne. But to hear it from them?” I motioned to wear the Angels had been. I couldn’t believe it. Lucifer is the Prince of Lies, but this was too much even for me.
“Sorry, Penn. I had a feeling one of those was true. Now, it’s confirmed, and somewhere along the way, we became something we were never meant to be.”
I didn’t have a response to that. In the distance I heard the sirens of responding units and an ambulance. Help sure as Hell wasn’t on the way for us.

 

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End

I didn’t want to kill them, but I did. I loved them so much that I couldn’t let them live in this world.

I killed my sons first. That was easy and done with a mix of sleeping pills and the last five oxycodone from a nasty dental extraction five months earlier. I’d ground it to fine powder and put it in the last of our chocolate pudding, which in this world of dead light was a luxury in itself. They became drowsy, and my wife and I lovingly carried them to bed. We tucked them in, told them we loved them, and kissed their foreheads as the red-orange of the sky bled through their bedroom curtains.

Our daughter, done with university studies as higher education no longer had any value, sat on our couch reading a book on her iPad. The iPad’s battery would soon expire and be as useless as technology faded from the planet. The internet still worked most of the time, but “who wants to read the same depressing shit day after day?” That was what she had said before abandoning life in the dorms.

“What are you reading,” I asked, leaning over her. She had the back light turned down to conserve power.

“Psalm 43.” She didn’t look up at me as I leaned over the couch back. “Not that I get much from it. God’s dead.” She had picked up reading the bible since she’d left home, but with what had happened to the world, she’d lost what faith she had gained. Reading passages was only a way to pass the time. “The burning is getting closer. Can you smell it?”

I nodded in agreement and kissed the top of her head. She returned to reading, and I hovered over her for three seconds before acting. I had practiced pulling her head back cutting her throat many times and had diligently researched what would happen in the moments after the carotid artery was cut. Her neck gave little resistance as I jerked her head back by her hair and slid the barber’s razor from ear to ear.

The blood sprayed out in a gush for one second, and then pulsed in time with her dying heartbeat. The pulse became weaker as her heart lost blood pressure. I had taken care to get her windpipe so there wouldn’t be any screams. There was only the rush of air from her body’s only highway for breath. It took mere seconds for her to die.

I eased her body on the couch and closed her eyes. Allow me to say that it isn’t like the movies when you close the eyes and they stay closed. They sprang open, staring dully at me. I felt a sharp pang of regret and hatred at what I had done, but it really was for the best. Hell was coming, and I didn’t want her to live through it.

I turned to the window with its open curtains. The horizon burned and so did the all-encompassing sky. Everything during the day was coated in Hell born red-orange, and a dull red at night. My daughter had been right; the sulfur stench had gotten worse in the past two days. Looking out I could see the silhouettes of distant flying objects locked in their dance of death with each other. We still had some fight and resources left. I sighed knowing that it was a very brave, but very useless attempt at hanging onto life. I closed the curtains and turned to the bedroom hallway.

My wife would be in our bed, listening to her audiobook, likely one she’d listened to once already because that was her comfort. I entered only to find her facing away from the door, folding laundry.

The clothes she folded weren’t even clean. They were clothes we had only worn once or twice since the water had become dingy with filth and decay, making it unfit to clean anything. At first boiling water had gotten rid of enough of the impurities, leaving a lingering smell of rot. Drinking it would quench your thirst if you were able to get past the faint tang of blood. Of course, drinking it on a regular basis would make you sick with bleeding mouth ulcers and growing tumors that made you curse a dead God and a joyous Devil. With civilized medicine being eradicated in the months leading to now, you avoided drinking the water in copious amounts. And don’t make me talk about bathing in it. That was a quicker way to die than drinking it.

“You don’t have to do that,” I said, standing in the doorway.

“It gives me something to do. The server to my Star Wars game was taken over by ‘the news’ yesterday. God, I need some coffee. I haven’t had any in a week. Is coffee too much to ask for?” She threw down the pair of socks she’d been matching, and leaned forward on her clench fists as she sobbed.

“Baby, I love you, and it will be okay. I promise.”

“It’ll be okay?” she growled. Her voice rose as she roared her response to me once more.

I knew she would whirl around to face me. Her face was one of rage at my false reassurance. I don’t think she consciously registered the baseball bat that collided with her temple. The swing knocked her to the floor. I dropped my bat, sat down, and held her convulsing body.

She looked up at me with bewildered eyes as her limbs twitched. That dying light that people mention in the eyes of the dying is real. I gazed tenderly into her irises as she retreated into eternal darkness. I stroked her bloody hair and ruined face, and smashed skull, not even offering an apology for I knew I had done what was right.

I laid her down on our bed, and pulled the comforter over her. It was now my turn.

I had my grandfather’s .45 automatic from the Korean War. That was my end. I wanted everyone’s end to be thought out and personal. I gave their ends much thought and consideration. Instead of being homogeneous for them all, I wanted their souls to know that I cared enough to research something individual and close to painless for each. I loved them from start to finish. There was no malice involved, except for me. And in that. this weapon of war and hatred would be mine.

I loaded a single hard ball round into the magazine and chambered that round.

I placed the muzzle to my head and squeezed the trigger. The world vanished for a moment, and then reappeared. I wasn’t in my bedroom; I was floating above a city. It might have been New York City or Melbourne, Australia. I didn’t know, I didn’t care. The sky was transitioning from red to red-orange and the only sound I could hear was the beating of furious wings; my wings. I had become what I feared would consume my family. In my desire to save them from the evil that had become our world, I had become what had killed hope, kindness, and love.

 

This work is copyrighted by Jason McKinney and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part with express permission from the author.

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Werewolves of the Dead chapter twenty-nine

Chapter Twenty-nine

Drexler closed with Ohkawa first. The little Asian was the worst shot Drexler had ever seen. Drexler’s heightened sight allowed her to see the bullets being fired at her part the air. The fires that raged near them gave the ripples stunning ethereal rainbows. Drexler always loved that effect; that’s why she allowed people to shoot at her. What was life without fun?
She would save Ohkawa for torture last. The ones that cracked the easiest were always the best to torture with false promises of freedom. The brawnier woman, she realized her name was Delford only because the Asian kept screaming at her for guidance, was a hard ass. Hard asses were no fun to break. Those delusional or stupidly brave eventually did, and their final screams were actually less pleasing than the ones that folded under her punishment right from the outset. Pathetic.
“Dammit,” called Delford as she moved to keep Ohkawa out of her line of fire while keeping Drexler inside it. “Shoot straight!”
“She’s moving too fast. I’m reloading,” answered Ohkawa even as Drexler leapt over her kneeling form.
Drexler was simultaneously pleased and amazed that the soldier had stopped moving. Being a faster bipedal, Drexler allowed herself and extra second to analyze Ohkawa. The soldier had dropped to her knee and was attempting to reload her rifle. Idiot, thought Drexler as she sprang vaulted over Ohkawa’s head, and landed at a crouch behind her.
Ohkawa tried to turn to face Drexler, but Drexler was faster. She snatched Ohkawa by her body armor and ran directly toward Delford with Ohkawa held out before her.
“Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” cried Ohkawa as Drexler carried her forward at a sprint, closing the over fifty feet between her and Delford.
Drexler laughed raucously up until her left knee exploded in inexplicable pain.
“Oh God, why!” cried Ohkawa, as Drexler lunged forward into the sod.
Drexler tumbled into the grass, while Ohkawa slid fast first into the dirt and grass in front of her.
“Shoot it,” cried Ohkawa as she scrambled to her feet. She spat dirt out of her mouth and rubbed her eyes as she blindly stumbled away from Drexler and toward Delford.
Drexler stood, and promptly almost went back down. It wasn’t her leg that had taken the hit, it was her knee. Regardless, it throbbed like a bitch in heat, the tell-tale sign that it was already healing. She moved with a lessening limp counter clockwise to Delford as Delford tried to clear the walking obstacle.
“Goddamn it,” screamed Delford as Drexler swatted Ohkawa aside.
“Stupid bitch,” remarked Drexler aloud, stepping forward. Even she wasn’t sure if she was talking about Ohkawa or Delford.
Delford had put more space between herself and Drexler. The extra fifteen feet the soldier had gained would do little to help her. Drexler was sure of that.
“You’re going to shoot me again?” taunted Drexler, stepping forward.
Drexler’s eyes narrowed. Her grip on the M4 was off. No, not off. It was wrong. Instinctively she knew what Delford was doing. But Drexler was a werewolf, and superior to these shawarma sluts. A loud thump sounded, and all Drexler saw was something moving toward her. It was cylindrical and slow enough for her to follow its path. She smacked the gold tipped projectile aside and at that instant she realized what it was; a 40mm grenade. The grenade went off at the same instant that Drexler’s hand made contact with it.
The resulting blast threw her backwards. Shrapnel smacked her hand and her face with equal force. The hot metal tore away flesh from her face and hand. It burned the fur on her chest and her left breast burned from the searing chunks of metal.
Drexler stumbled backwards, muttering. She looked from her chest to her hand, and then to Delford, helping Ohkawa to her feet. “Stupid bi-” She tried to yell only her words came out as a croak. She fell to the ground, and blackness encompassed her.

***

“Is she dead,” asked Ohkawa, as Delford helped her to her feet.
“Unknown. Only one way to find out. You okay?” Delford tried to sound professional and in charge, but this close contact was shaking more than her voice.
“I’m good. I think I’m good.”
Delford released her grip on Ohkawa’s armor. “Stay here.”
“What are you doing?”
“Checking the kill.”
“That’s stupid, Corp. Come on. Let’s get the hell out of here. Okay?” Ohkawa’s voice was pleading, boarding more on pants wetting terror. She wasn’t as much of a soldier as she thought she was, and she knew it.
“Stand by.”
Delford moved hesitantly toward Drexler’s body. She’d taken a gamble on being just inside of the arming radius for the high explosive round. She’s gotten lucky. She was sure of it. The closer she got to Drexler’s prone figure, the more she was sure of that feeling.
She stood over Drexler, watching for any signs of movement. No occurred and she wondered if werewolf deaths were like the movies. Drexler wasn’t reverting to human, but her chest wasn’t moving with the effort of breathing either.
She stepped back, checked the rifle’s magazine, charged the weapon more, and stepped forward again with the rifle raised in her shoulder.
“This is when the monster wakes up and-” yelled Ohkawa, trying to warn Delford.
This is when the monster wakes up and grabs you was correct. Drexler howled weakly as her hand closed on Delford’s left ankle, and yanked her off her feet.
Delford squeezed the trigger reflexively. Automatic fire poured from her weapon. She’d done everything right except making sure her weapon was on semi. The 5.56mm rounds stitched down Drexler’s back, and the grip eased completely.
“Fuck fuck fuck-a-doodle do,” cried Delford kicking away from Drexler.
Once she felt comfortable being away from Drexler she stood and checked her weapon. The bolt was back, and the magazine was empty. She dropped her made, placed it into an empty magazine pouch with a shaking hand and loaded a fresh one into the rifle.
“She’s gotta be dead, right?” asked Ohkawa. She appeared through the adrenaline fog, and clutched Delford’s shoulders.
Delford jumped at the words and touch. “What? Yeah. Gotta be. Come on, girl.” Delford said in a shaky tone. “We have to clear the battle space.”
Ohkawa hooked her arm into Delford’s and lead her away. Delford tried not to glance back at Drexler’s body, but she couldn’t resist the pull. She’d look forward and then back. Had the body twitched when she last looked back, or had it been her fear and adrenaline fueled imagination? She didn’t care much about anything other than getting away. She focused forward and quickened her pace. “We gotta clear the battle space.”
They trudged on and for the first six miles Delford kept her mind centered on their situation and how they needed sleep and a vehicle; not necessarily in that order.
They bedded down in the remains of a UPS truck for night. Ohkawa took the first watch, which surprised Delford.
Delford slept fitfully for her stretch and was grudgingly grateful for being awake. Her dreams were filled with Drexler and her mocking voice, and explosions. The real world seemed a bit better.
“The truck’s operational, though it’s only got a quarter of the tank. Keys were in the ignition and I’m betting the driver won’t be back for it anytime soon.” Ohkawa gave Delford the run down on the whole lot of nothing that had occurred while Delford was asleep.
“It’s an automatic, right? We can drive it if it is.”
“Yep.” Ohkawa took off her helmet and put on her patrol cap. She leaned against the balled up UPS driver’s jacket that Delford had used for a pillow. “Corporal?” she said after pulling the cap’s bill over her eyes.
“Yeah?”
“She’s not dead, is she?”
“She has to be. Yeah.”
“We’re the only ones left, so be honest with me.”
“Okay. She’s alive and pissed, and is going to be coming for us after she licks her wounds. Happy, now?”
“Fuck yeah. At least I know what to expect.”
Delford spun around to face Ohkawa. She stood outside on the ground and almost jumped into the truck to come face to face with Ohkawa. She held her temper in check.
“Then why did we stop here?”
“I thought it was as good a place as any to make a stand.”
Delford mulled on that for a second. “Go to sleep,” she said bitterly. “We’re leaving in a few hours.”

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Werewolves of the Dead chapter twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-eight

Hecate and his people were tired. They were tired, hungry, filthy, and irritated. The woman that had stayed played him for a chump. The moment her friends were gone, they’d snatched an M4, a thermal imager, and some ammo and had vanished into the ether. He disliked losing a civilian, but he hated the loss of valuable equipment and weapons. He didn’t bother trying to track her even though she had a kid with her. His people were edgy, scared, and on the verge of splintering off on their own. Chasing her and the boy would have been a waste of precious morale. That above all else was in shorter supply than ammo and hot food. Besides, the smell of rotting flesh and decaying garbage was everywhere, and it covered her tracks more than effectively. Now, he had this goddamned traffic jam to navigate.
He had his lesser ranked dismounts on watch around the main mass of abandoned vehicles that were bottlenecked because a series of tractor trailers decided to try converging into one. What happened next was a mass killing of anything with a pulse. He hoped that any undead in the area had moved on. He hadn’t smelled any lycans in the area and that was a small mercy as far as he was concerned.
“School circle,” Hecate cried, waving his people and charges in. “The situation is as follows. We need wheels if we’re going to make any progress in linking up with the 115th. Last report put them forty miles northwest of here after they were forced to pull out. They said they’d wait-”
“Like they waited for us back in town, when was that? A week ago? Two weeks? Three days? Shit, I don’t even know what day it is anymore,” spat Ohkawa.
“Lock it up,” growled Weddington. “No one cares about what you think.”
Hecate glared at Ohkawa. It took tremendous discipline to keep from telling her to keep her fucking gob shut. “They said they would hold their ground and wait for as long as they could and if they had to pull stakes they’d let us know. That was eight days ago.” He decided to let the cat out of the bag. “No contact has come from them since then.”
Weddington shifted his foot and stepped on Ohkawa’s. He frowned at her before grimacing as he absently scratched his left tricep.
Hecate had noticed him favoring that arm as they were leaving town. He had tried to keep eyes on all his people, but there was only so much of his attention to go around, and so many of them plus two civilians. He wasn’t up for this. He wanted to run like Hell and not look back. But that wasn’t an option any more than it ever was. Still, he’d have to look in on Weddington’s wound, and soon.
“Your orders, sir?” said Delford before Weddington could open his mouth.
“Delford, Weddington, Ohkawa, Park. I want a perimeter seventy yards around this position. Weddington, Ohkawa, you two are going to watch over Ms. Nicks and her son. Ohkawa,” he stared at her intently. “You will watch them as you’d watch over your own mother, roger?” Ohkawa answered in the affirmative. “I and the others will look for something with wheels that works. If any of you know how to hotwire a car and need to, do it. I want several anythings that goes vroom-vroom in the next ten minutes. Let’s roll.”
Weddington gave a more enthusiastic Hoo-Ah, than the others, but each soldier set about their assignments with a serious if not weary zeal.
Five minutes into checking vehicles one of his soldiers called him over. The man’s name was Kimmler, a private that was fresh out of AIT and still full of grab ‘em by the nose and kick ‘em in the nuts repeatedly bravado that Army basic gives you. He was only 18 years, 5 months, two weeks, four days, and a handful of hours old. Hecate made it a point to memorize each man and woman’s birthday down to the hour. Kimmler was more than a child to him, but he was one of his kids.
“Whatcha got, Bobby?” he said, joining the soldier at a Staples box truck.
“This truck looks big enough to carry us all, sir. It’s got the keys in the ignition and I think it has close to three quarters of a tank.” Kimmler climbed the step and glanced in again. “Yep, it looks like it.”
“And the holdup is?” You got a winner so why isn’t it running yet.” Certainly one of his kids, but also got on his nerves for not taking the initiative when ordered to do so. Hecate grinned at him, but that grin was a bit strained.
“Door’s locked, sir,” answered Kimmler with a look of youthful bewilderment on his face.
“For the love of-. Get down. Watch me.” Hecate pulled him from the step, took Kimmler’s place, and smashed the driver’s side window. He unlocked the door and swung it open, quickly getting to work at sweeping the glass away with his gloved hand. “That’s how you do, son. Now get in.” He jumped down and held his hand to the open cab.
“Me?”
“Your find, your ride.” Hecate jumped down and wiped his face. “Now climb in and stand by. I’m calling the others in.” Hecate walked to the rear and was about to climb on the back step to call his people in when he noticed the narrow stream running where his left boot rested. He’d smelled gasoline the moment they’d arrived on site, but he brushed it off to various the collisions littering the area.
“Kimmler, wait one,” Hecate said, moving to the driver’s side. “You look like you’re leaking fuel.”
Hecate flattened himself on the ground and to examine the gas tank. Immediately he was greeted by two large red gas cans that looked like they’d been haphazardly flung under the truck.
Alarm bells went off in his head. IED, his mind screamed at him. IED, dumbass! RUN!
“Get out!” Hecate screamed as he grabbed Kimmler by his body armor. With every ounce of strength he threw Kimmler into the air as far as he could, all the while screaming into his microphone, “Cover! IED! It’s an ambush!”
Time slowed down for Hecate as his hearing picked up the first ring of a cell phone. And then the world went white, then dark, and then was filled with a creamy yellow light accompanied by long awaited peace.

***

Delford was keeping watch on her sector when PFC Quaker yelled that he’d found a couple of discarded gas cans.
She ignored his yells up until the time he called her out by name.
“Good for you,” she responded sarcastically, not bothering to take her eyes off forward. “I’ll be sure to recommend you for an Army Achievement Medal when this shit gets straightened out. Are they full?”
“No they’re empty.” He joined her, holding the cans up to her face. The smell of gas so close to her nose made her gag.
“Get that nasty mess away from me.” She slapped the nearest can out of his hand. It made hollow boing-boing noises against the ground as it bounced away. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“It just seemed odd, Corporal,” Quaker answered spitefully. “There’s like fresh gas spilled around a minivan over there. I think someone was here recently.”
“What?” Delford’s eyes widened and she jerked turned to face the search area. “What do you mean, fresh gas?”
“Over there,” said Quaker, pointing to where he’d come. In that moment both soldiers saw a figure fly through the air as Hecate’s voice blasted from their headsets, “Cover! IED! It’s an ambush!”
Training kicked in for Delford. She flung Quaker to the ground, shielding him with her body. She’d always scoffed at the possibility that she would do something like that. It seemed too John Wayne for her and she usually left those actions to more hardcore troops. But she did it, and didn’t realize it.
She’d done two tours in Iraq, and never once had been involved in an IED. She considered herself lucky. She knew what happened to those that survived that, and that made her lucky and grateful.
This wasn’t like the daisy chained 155mm howitzer rounds that the Muj assholes in Iraq used. This didn’t have that type of power, thank God or whoever, but it was still devastating.
Fabled steel rain fell down around them. Chunks of metal and plastic this, that, and the other fell on and around them. Something with a decent amount of weight thumped on the back of her armor before falling off her. A second later something slammed into her helmet, forcing her face into the turf. The smell of dry earth mingled with that of melted plastic, burning steel and aluminum, and barbeque filled her nostrils. It was as close to the scent of Hell that Delford would ever want to get.
It wasn’t until Quaker started squirming underneath her that she realized that the rain had ended. And that’s when she realized what she’d done. She’d urinated on herself, and on Quaker.
They stood, looking at each other. She was certain she was yelling at him, asking what the fuck had happened, and that he was doing the same. It was the goddamned ringing and disorientation from the blast that made it hard to focus and even harder to hear.
She keyed her mic and called for a sitrep, but was unsure if anyone else was using the net as she was, or if anyone besides her and Quaker were still alive.
“I’m going to check for survivors,” she said, facing Quaker.
“What,” he screamed back, or she was sure he was screaming. She sure was.
“I’m…” She pointed to herself. “Going to…” She pointed to the blast zone. “Look…” She pointed to her eyes. “For survivors!” she pointed back up the gentle slope.
She saw Quaker’s mouth form the word okay, and then set off.
The explosion was more than she expected. Numerous vehicles were ablaze. The black smoke from melting rubber and plastic that would feed the infernos for who knew how long was acrid, thick, and nauseating.
Delford approached an overturned WTAV news van that was blazing merrily away. She saw the unmoving blackened body of a soldier, but she was damned if she could ID who it had been.
“We’ve got to go around,” whispered Quaker. He was actually yelling inches from Delford’s face, but he sounded too far off to pierce the ringing. He pointed to his right for emphasis on which way he thought they should go.
She nodded agreement and went to move away to continue searching when Quaker stopped her.
“Did you piss yourself,” he said, emphatically pointing to her crouch.
She looked at her pants, and then back to him.
“Did you piss on me?” His face looked unbelieving as he felt around the back of body armor. “You fucking peed on me!” he roared, pulling his hand back to front. He looked at it as if the thought was worse than the body of their charred companion was nothing in comparison.
She didn’t need perfect hearing to know that was what he was saying. Her only answer was, “Shut up.” The little ingrate should be thankful that she hadn’t also shit on both of them.
“Anybody receiving me, over?” Delford released the button and looked around for any sign of anyone left standing. She pulled her helmet off and pressed the headset further into her ear. She heard nothing but open air over the comm. “Does anyone read me? Over.” More dead air.
Another explosion sent a sedan of some kind several feet into the air. It landed on top of a pick up’s hood and wobbled before coming to a rest.
“Fuck me,” she said, flinching away from the blast. She switched radio frequencies. “Any station this net. Any station this net.” Juliet Three has…” She stopped and considered what she was doing. There was a chance there was no one to receive her situation report. As far it was looking so far, she and Private Nitwit were the last troops standing.
“Hey. Hey, Corp. Look.” Quaker pulled hard at her arm as he pointed into the flames. “Over there. Eleven o’clock. Movement.”
Delford looked up and saw a figure staggering around trying to find a way past flaming wreckage. The figure weaved in and out of her line of sight as it sought an exit.
“Come on,” she said, reaching for Quaker. To her surprise he was already ahead of her and closing fast on the survivor.
She sprinted after Quaker and nearly ran into him as he rounded the far side of the blast wreckage.
From the debris came Weddington. Most of his face and upper body was as charred and red as the metal that he’d fought his way through. His uniform and armor had reached its heat resistant point and beyond. What didn’t melt had melded with his skin. His right arm hung from thick ropey muscle and his left arm reached out to them. The hand was beseeching and held palm up. His eyes were sorrowful and his mouth kept opening and closing. This was wrong. That much damage should’ve incapacitated him, but here he was moving toward them.
“Sergeant,” called Quaker. He sprinted toward Weddington. Delford made a grab for him, but missed.
“No!” she cried out. She’d noticed him rubbing at the area of the arm below the armpit, and didn’t give it much thought. If Weddington had been bitten, he’d have told them. She thought he would have.
With speed that didn’t match his wounds, Weddington lunged forward, dragging Quaker by his body armor toward his open mouth. Even as Weddington tore out his throat Delford could hear the scream that ended in a bubbling gurgle.
“Weddington!” she called as Weddington feasted on the struggling soldier. Quaker’s movements became less and less. “Weddington!”
Delford shouldered her carbine and sighted in as Weddington looked up to her. He chewed thoughtfully, head cocked to the side, and stood. He walked slowly toward her, Quaker meat hanging from his burned away mouth as he chewed ferociously at the mouthful. Delford closed her eyes for a second, breathed deeply, and then out. The shot happened and the left side of Weddington’s head geysered out. Weddington took an extra step before collapsing face first into the road. Delford blinked. The shot hadn’t come from her.
“I’ve waited for a long time to do that,” said Ohkawa, rising to her feet twenty some odd feet away. “Self-righteous dick.” Ohkawa, sweaty and obviously feeling proud of herself, joined her. “You okay?”
“The fuck? Ohkawa, you- What the hell?” Delford reached for her mic, and Ohkawa’s headset. “Comm check,” she said briskly, holding the headset as close to her ear as her helmet allowed. The ringing had faded some, allowing her to hear the echo of her voice from Ohkawa’s headset. She slammed it against Ohkawa’s chest, pushing her away. “You fucking moron. You stupid fucking shitty excuse for a person. Why didn’t you answer when I called? Huh?”
“Didn’t feel like it at the time.” Ohkawa’s bottom lip stuck out in a pout. It infuriated Delford more.
“You arrogant, spoiled-”
“Corporal Delford,” said an unknown voice behind them. The voice had a thick sound to it, and a resonating base that jarred Delford’s being in all the wrong ways. The sound of the voice alone caused Delford to not shove Ohkawa. Her hands were pressed flat against Ohkawa’s body armor.
Delford lowered her hands and she turned her body to face the same direction as her head. Ohkawa gasped and jerked her rifle up to face the eight foot tall lycan. Ohkawa was a full second slower than Delford. Neither woman knew it, but they were face to face with Drexler. Drexler’s muzzle was parted in a fiendishly sweet smile as she stared at the two women.
“My name is Margaret Drexler, and I’d love to play a game with you.”
“Light it up,” cried Drexler moving away from Ohkawa. The human women moved in opposite directions, firing as they moved in a slight crouch.
Drexler began to dodge most of the shots. A few impacted uselessly against her thickened hide, but she didn’t mind. Drexler loved a challenge.

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Werewolves of the Dead chapter twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-seven

Approaching Hecate with their urge to leave wasn’t as difficult as they thought. Hecate was amicable about their separation. He touched on the safety in numbers rule, but didn’t push the subject. He agreed to their leaving alone only because of the growing restlessness growing within his own ranks.
“I know I have problems within, and taking a civilian and her child will be problematic, but I have a responsibility to myself to do what’s right.”
“You’re going to have your hands full with that one,” responded Deidre, waving lazily at Kelsey standing at the opposite side of the room. “Take care of her.”
“Will do,” Hecate said, shaking hands with Shannon and Deidre.
He gave them a civilian map marked with the location of their rally point with other military forces. “Just in case you change your mind. It’s a twenty two mile hump, but it could mean safety if you change your mind,” he said, handing it to Shannon. They walked to the revolving doors and stopped. “I’m serious; I’ll take care of your friend and her child. If she were leaving with you I would’ve raised a stink, but…” His shoulders moved in a very unmilitary shrug.
Hecate asked once more if they wanted to go through with their idea. The answer stayed the same. He reminded them once more of where the undead were massed and the probable lycan hotspots were in the area. With a handshake and a smile, Shannon and Deidre moved through the doors.
As Shannon walked through, Greene appeared. He offered discomforting news in the way of offering his opinion that things were surely going to be difficult for the military party. He didn’t offer details, and Shannon didn’t ask. His words were enough to reassure her that they were making the right decision. She’d almost stopped considering him a figment of her mind, and more of a bizarre guardian.
“I hope to God they’ll be okay,” he said wistfully, appearing in the window of a T-Mobile store they were walking by. Shannon could see his sadness reflected in the window. She didn’t know what to say to herself concerning Kelsey let alone a disembodied spirit.
Shannon stopped, and turned around to find Deidre staring at her. “Ready,” asked Deidre. Her tone was flat, and she looked unconvinced on Shannon’s ability to see a dead friend.
“As I’ll ever be,” answered Shannon.
Neither spoke of Kelsey as they moved along in a wary half crouch. Kelsey was determined to stay with what she thought of as a safe bet. Who were they to force her to move with them and not the soldiers?
Shannon and Deidre stepped into the street, one after another. A well-lit city street would have given comfort, but now dread began to blanket them. They could feel the eyes that watched them as they moved along silently through the city streets. Both women didn’t bother to comfort themselves with the thought that Hecate’s people were watching over them.
Shannon briefly glanced up at a streetlight. How long before the power eventually failed, she wondered. For now the illumination gave the city a lonelier feel.
The city was still in ways that left both feeling vulnerable. Shannon allowed herself a look back at the store after they had walked three blocks. She saw the soldiers moving out in cautious twos and threes. One of them stopped and waved. Shannon could smell it was Hecate. She waved back, causing Deidre to urge her along. “We’re in the open, and too well illuminated. Come on. That way.”
“Right,” said Shannon, returning her attention to their trek. They moved to a sidewalk, staying clear of windows, doors and walls as much as possible.
Neither spoke for an hour. Their attentions were focused on making it out of the city without incident. “I don’t know how much further I can go on,” said Deidre finally. Her voice was filled with a reverberating sadness that Shannon had never heard from her. “What if this is it?” she said, stopping suddenly. She held her arms out, the shotgun held out in her right hand by the pump foregrip. “What if there’s no coming back from all this shit, Shannon?” Deidre’s arms fell to her sides, slapping her ribs. She turned back in the direction they had been heading and resumed walking. Deidre’s feet rose and fell in automatic steps, and Shannon wondered when if the change had been sudden or gradual. Her body spoke volumes of feeling alone despite Shannon’s presence.
Shannon kept pace beside her, taking notice that she was the only one looking around as they walked. “What if it’s not? What’s eating you, Dee? It’s been close to a week since things started falling away. We can turn this around. This isn’t the end.”
Deidre stopped short of walking up an interstate on ramp. She turned to Shannon, her hands working the shotgun angrily. “We’ve got zombies, werewolves, and zombie werewolves. You’re a werewolf and while this may be old hat to you, it’s new to me. It’s new to Kelsey and Rance. For most of the normal nine to five goddamn world it’s new. Look at us!” Deidre raised her weapon, and thumped her chest with it to accentuate her words. “We’re two women without a plan, without even short term supplies, moving toward something we don’t even know about. And just why in the blue fuck are we moving north? Why?”
Shannon didn’t know what to say. Her mouth opened, shut, opened again, and then shut for good. Like it or not Deidre had a point. Where were they going and why.”
“See what I mean? You have no idea either. What are we going to do? Move north until we get to Canada, and then what? Montreal is gone from what I heard. So’s Alberta, Ontario, and Toronto. Fucking Nashville, goddamn Tennessee is gone. This shit is everywhere. Everywhere!”
“Is this about Kelsey?” Shannon spoke without knowing why she was speaking.
“It’s about Rance. He’s the whole reason I traveled with you people. There’s nothing left to work for now that he’s gone.”
“Don’t you have family?”
“Mom and dad’s dead. My sister lives in Nebraska. She has a husband and two kids, and her own problems to deal with.”
“Live for them then. I know that’s trite and clichéd, but that’s all you’ve got then. If you won’t live for yourself then live for them.”
Deidre laughed. It was hushed, desperate laugh. “It’s a long walk to Lincoln, Nebraska, Shay.”
“Like Canada’s any closer.”
Deidre blinked in surprise. Canada was a nice idea, and most certainly no worse an idea for a destination than Nebraska. “Why?” she said, regaining her composure.
“Why what?”
“Why are you here? Things are going to hell and your kind’ve helped with that, but yet here you are. Why?”
Shannon shrugged. She looked away in the distance, and then down at the ground before meeting Deidre’s eyes once more. “Got nothing better to do. This is a break for me. First time in my life I don’t have to worry about hiding what I am. Trust me, it’s not fun for me either, but it makes for an interesting change of pace.”
The exchange lightened Deidre’s attitude. Thinking of what family she had had a calming effect on her. “You and your fucked up sense of positivity. Okay,” she said, smiling. “Nebraska it is. Like you said, got nothing better to do. Haven’t seen Janet and the kids in two years. Zombie werewolf apocalypse is a good enough reason for a road trip.”
“Then what are we waiting for?”
“You know how to get there?”
“No. Do you?”
“We need a map.” Deidre dug the Hecate had given them from inside her shirt. She turned it over, looking at it with mild bemusement. “This piece of crap will get us out of Arizona but past that we’re screwed. Come on. There has to be a convenience store somewhere near the freeway.”
Deidre turned back to walk down the road when she heard a far off boom. She would’ve ignored it and doubled down on moving forward if not for Shannon grabbing her arm and saying, “Look.”
“What do you think that is?” asked Shannon flatly.
“Something we don’t want to be a part of. Let’s get back to it.”
“Yeah, let’s,” answered Shannon.
In the distance black, oily smoke rose skyward. Whatever had happened was large indeed, and neither woman wanted to be anywhere near what could have caused it.
Deidre paid more attention to her surroundings from then on. They walked on for several miles until they came to an atypical stop of for families traveling between home and their vacations. The area was covered with the infill of Shell and Gulf stations surrounded by fast food places and mom and pop greasy spoons.
Shannon and Deidre’s stomachs growled in unison at the sight of Arby’s and McDonald’s signs blaring their specials for all to see. Food, or the prospect thereof, would have to wait. First they needed to make sure the area was clear of threats.
They climbed over the guardrail and slid into a gully two hundred yards from the nearest building, a newer Motel 6 claiming that it had the softest beds in 100 miles. The motel was also the biggest structure in the vicinity that could hold problematic concentrations of werewolves and zombies. Both looked it over like wary rats eyeing a piece of drying bologna on a trap.
Three dust covered cars sat idle in the motel’s parking lot. None of the neglected vehicles had been driven in days. The desert grit blanketed them like a perverse kind of snowfall. But even their apparent disuse didn’t mean the motel or the surrounding business fronts were empty. No lights shown through the windows, and the majority of the motel curtains were pulled shut.
The sun was setting behind them, and a number of street lights flickered on. Some of the lamps pulsed, giving the area a strobe lit effect. Shannon tapped Deidre’s shoulder and pointed at the Shell station. The gas station’s interior was still well lit and the parking lot was deserted save for a Los Angeles police cruiser. The police car sat vacant with its driver’s side door open at a gas pump. The nozzle hung from the tank. Nothing moved inside the store or around the car.
“Far from home, ain’t he?” mused Deidre as they moved forward for a closer look. They moved just outside of the range of the gas station’s exterior lights, observing the scene as they lay prone.
“Maybe he knew a lost cause when he saw one and took off. LA’s a big city. Bound to have more than its share of corpses roaming around.” Shannon sniffed the air. She could smell the cold engine of the Ford Crown Victoria, the stink of one, no, two cops that had occupied the car. One was a male, the other was confused. A male that liked to be a female? No. She couldn’t place it, but the smell was wrong. She was thirsty and tired so maybe that was messing with her sense. That and the stink of the gas station’s tanks filled with mostly fumes. A number of the tank caps lay open. Scavengers had to have come by looking to boost their fuel supplies with what was left.
“Maybe, but I’m not taking any chances that Officer McGruff is inside and still in the mood to serve and protect. Let’s hang here for a while, keep watch on the place. We’ve got nothing to lose by doing that.”
Shannon shrugged her shoulders. It was a plan, and their best chance to find a map and get some kind of supplies, provided that it hadn’t been emptied. Still, they couldn’t wait too long. Each moment they delayed was a moment someone else, a bigger badder someone else at that, could roll up on them.
Shannon chose another tact. “We need to get in there, but we’re going to have to sleep sometime, Dee. We’ve walked too far with too little rest.” She stretched her limbs like she was tired. The truth was she wasn’t in the slightest. She could go three days without sleep, but she didn’t need to use her nose to know Deidre was close to running on reserves. Deidre’s steps had picked up after her rant, but over time had slowly moved from natural easy walking to forced steps.
“You sleep,” said Deidre. “I’ll take the first three hours.” She rubbed her eyes. It was clear she was exhausted.
“Deidre. I can go longer without rest. You sleep and I’ll watch. If anything happens I’ll let you know.”
Deidre considered it. “Okay. Let me know first thing if trouble shows up.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got this.” Shannon tried to sound reassuring, but she felt exposed. They were hidden from human eyes, but it was the now reigning monsters of the world that concerned her.
“Just wake me up if you see something, okay?” Deidre shrugged off the half empty backpack and laid her head on it.
“I will.” Shannon focused on the gas station, and a minute later light snoring drifted up from Deidre. The snores weren’t loud, but it was an unnatural noise that certainly could draw attention. Shannon wondered if she snored when she slept. It was a silly thing to wonder, but silence was now their best weapon, and if they couldn’t sleep silently then they were in greater danger.
As if in answer, Deidre’s snoring ceased. Thank God for small favors, she thought as she peered into the growing twilight.
Shannon watched as the occasional zombie moved past the Shell. Once an undead woman walked in, moved behind the counter, picked something up and shuffle back through the door. It wasn’t until the dead woman was down the road that Shannon realized the woman had taken a carton of cigarettes. Shannon resisted the urge to call “thief” after her. Instead she pondered why a roaming dead person need a carton of smokes. Smoker in life, smoker in death, she thought as she turned her attention back on the Shell. The act of observing the dead was growing monotonous quick, fast, and in a hurry. She silently swore that she’d wake Deidre up in an hour to get the good goddamned map if nothing perilous showed up.
Then something more puzzling than the nico-zombie happened. An undead teenaged girl slunk from the motel. She walked to the police car with a lazy purpose that Shannon found captivating. The girl removed the nozzle from the police car before dropping it to the ground as she tried to place it back into the cradle. She did this twice before being able to set it back home.
Watching the girl sucked up Shannon’s full attention. Mentally she cursed herself for allowing it to happen, but she couldn’t help it. The undead girl seemed to be trying to put the car and gas pump to rights. Shannon watched the girl make her way to the driver’s side, climb inside, close the door, and then sit motionless for a couple minutes. The door opened again and the girl got out, slamming the door with a strength that impressed Shannon. The undead girl seemed perplexed as to why the car wasn’t moving. Three times she walked around it before giving it an awkward kick and then drifting off into the darkness.
“Lousy car thief,” snickered Shannon.
“What was that?” asked Deidre in a sleepy tone.
The remark startled Shannon. “What?” she answered, louder than she intended.
“Shhhh, damn it.” Deidre gave a quick stretch before rolling over. “What was that about a lousy car thief?”
“I think a dead girl tried to drive off in the police car.”
“You’re kidding.” Deidre rolled over to face Shannon. She sat up and stared at the vehicle in hopes of seeing the girl.
“Seriously. This dead girl came from the motel,” Shannon pointed to the Motel 6, “walked to the car,” she mimed a person walking with her fingers, “removed the gas nozzle, and then got in. It looked like she was trying to figure out what to do next before she wandered off.” Shannon then pointed to where the teenaged zombie had stumbled off.
“No shit.” Deidre quickly lost interest. There was nothing to see now. “Any activity other than that?”
“Zombies walking around, but nothing in great numbers.”
“Any of your ‘people’?”
Shannon’s face went sour. She sensed the quotation marks. “No, I haven’t seen any of ‘my people’.” The insinuation annoyed Shannon. Deidre didn’t mean anything by it, but Shannon the remark still agitated her. “If I had I would’ve woke you up.”
“Don’t have to get bitchy. It wasn’t a put down.”
“Hmph,” answered Shannon. “It doesn’t matter. There’s to see anyway.”
“Fine. Has it been three hours yet?”
“It’s been…” Shannon checked her watch. “Four hours.”
“So much for three hours. Your turn.” Deidre put her shotgun aside and brought her machine gun up to her shoulder.
“Not sleepy.”
“Okay. We’ll sit here and watch the sunrise together then.”
Together they lay prone on the ground, watching the area. As the sun was showing its orange and rose pink glow over the horizon a group of seven zombies approached the gas station. The night had seen singles and duos stumble through the dark, and most unheeded their surroundings. The size of this group, six in all, was enough to put them on edge. It was when two of the stumblers turned, staring in their general direction that Shannon and Deidre began to worry. The sight of them moving toward them was a wake up better than any hi-octane triple shot of espresso.
“Do they see us?” whispered Deidre, putting the butt of her weapon into her shoulder.
“God I hope not. Goes without saying that this isn’t right.” Shannon flicked her safety off.
“Those two know we’re here. How’d they notice us when the others didn’t?”
“I have a bad feeling,” she said bitterly. The annoyance was creeping up on her, overruling her tiredness. She hated closing her eyes to rub them, but she needed to in order to regain her focus. She opened them as Deidre’s nudged her elbow. The two had reversed direction and were lazily trailing after the group which had stopped and now appeared to be huddled together in conversation.
“Is it me, or do they look like they’re having a meeting?” Shannon stared hard at the group.
“Sure as shit looks like it.”
Without warning the group began to writhe collectively before collapsing to the ground. Shannon and Deidre watched in horrified dismay as they began to transform.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” muttered Shannon. Deidre gave her own curses as they watched the group rise up.
“Fucking were-zombies,” hissed Deidre. “We’ve gotta go. We’ve gotta go now.”
“We move, we die.” Shannon desperately grabbed Deidre’s shoulder, stopping her. “Do you think we can out run them? There’s too many. We have to stay low and not move unless they come at us.”
Deidre growled her disagreement but decided that staying put was the best choice. They watched the group prowl the area. It was obvious they were looking for food and both were sure that they would be found. “I can see escape and evasion isn’t in your vernacular so what do we do?”
“We wait, see what they’re going to do and then act.” Shannon sniffed the air between them. “Try to get your fear under control. They can-”
“Screw that. I’m a split second from pissing myself.” Deidre kept her finger on the trigger. He was using amounts of self-discipline that she never knew she had to keep from firing. Sweat beaded on her face before trickling down to her shirt. She had no idea her breasts could manufacture as much sweat as they did now.
The were-lycans advanced cautiously, their noses flaring violently as they sampled their scent cones. They spread themselves out, each sniffing a different area while making sure their cones overlapped.
At thirty yards away, one of them halted unexpectedly, its nose jerking upward to the sky. Unexpectedly, the were-zombie began sneezing. Ropey string of pale yellow infection flew from its nose. Bits that resisted from falling away wrapped around its muzzle as its head whipped furiously with each exhalation.
Deidre bravely stretched her head higher for a better look. Shannon didn’t have to; she could hear the infection expanding and contracting inside its chest and nasal passages as it violently expelled air. She tried to ignore the sound but couldn’t.
“Kind of like maple syrup and pebbles banging around in a bucket,” said Greene, standing up to watch. He nonchalantly smoked a cigarette as he watched. “That’s something Nyquil’s not getting rid of.”
Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off, thought Shannon, trying to banish Greene.
“No. Not right now. You know, things are about to get interesting, and a better OP would be over there in that cement mixer.” Greene pointed to a red and white big rig with Tucson Redi-Mix painted on the mixer. The rear end protruded from the back of the Shell. “Driver’s dead inside, but it’s good to go, if you want to go check it out. Oh and cover your nose and mouth. He’s been that way for a while so he’s kind of past the buy before date. They shouldn’t notice you. If you and sweaty tits there go when I say.”
Fuck off, Steve, fuck off, Steve, fuck off, Steve.
“Okay, okay.” Steve flicked the cigarette away. “Don’t say I didn’t try to help you. You know you have a fellow watcher about two hundred yards to your rear, right? Lady-girl’s been following you for the past four miles. Just saying.”
Greene vanished and Shannon reflexively looked to their rear. She didn’t smell anything out of the ordinary. That wasn’t saying much because now the world smelled like death, decay, and the living. The smells of the living seemed to be comprised of piss, fear, shit, and impending death.
“I think we need to get the hell out of here, like yesterday get the hell out of here.” Deidre’s whisper was underscored with pants filling dread.
Shannon turned to face forward again, but her eyes strained at the corners for a sight of anything concerning Greene’s warning. She saw nothing, smelled nothing, and that scared her.
The sneezing were-lycan was surrounded by its friends. Each was partially crouched and two were pacing back and forth, watching their ill comrade. The sick lycan snarled in between sneezes, warning the others to keep away. It fought valiantly to keep from as it stumbled in small circles trying to keep the others back. It raised its muzzle to roar at them, but doubled over, sneezing. It writhed on the ground, slamming its muzzle and head into the macadam.
“Weak,” said one in a slow, thick grating voice.
“Sick,” said another in return. The sick one rolled onto all fours and howled weakly.
“All sick,” said another. “This,” it jerked its muzzle at the sick one, “different.” That one cleared its throat and spat on the ground. “Kill. Eat. Smells different. Smells like food.”
Shannon gritted her teeth. Her nose was picking up something she hadn’t expected; the sickness was leaving the were-lycan on the ground. “Steve’s right,” she muttered. “Okay, we’re leaving soon. We can’t go forward, we can’t go back so we’re going to the bottom of the drainage ditch and heading left when I say.”
“When you say?” snapped Deidre. And Steve was right about what? Listen-”
“No, you listen, Dee. That bastard on the ground is changing, and I don’t mean back to a zombie. It smells like his body’s fighting whatever the hell this is, and when he does, this shit’s about to turn into another bloodbath.”
“Expelling? You mean like healing?”
“Shut up and listen, dammit.” Shannon didn’t take her sight off the group as her voice went lower and more menacing. “They’re going to attack it, and they’re going to kill it. They’re not acting like a pack. They’re acting like a mob of individuals.”
And they did attack. The moment the no longer not-so-sick werezombie took his eyes off one the killing began. Shannon smelled something akin to healthiness creeping back over him as the others pounced on him. She caught a glimpse him putting two on their asses before the remaining two closed in. The snarls and roars filled the air with the blood that was being spilled.
Shannon and Deidre retreated as fast as they could down the drainage ditch.
“I left some of our gear back there,” said Deidre in between gasps.
“Forget it,” answered Shannon, pressing her forward. “We can get new shit when we need it.”
An infuriated tangle of roars from behind gave both a mental shove forward. The pace was picked up and they topped the rise in time to see the bloodied werezombies charging at them. Their muzzles and the fronts of their clothes were covered in their former friend and they were hell-bent on having Deidre and Shannon as deserts.
“Shit,” cried Deidre.
“Run!” urged Shannon, her voice echoing off the surrounding deserted structures. She began the change, and then her blood and heart stopped. The wind had shifted a bit and then she smelled her. The rage fueled bitch dyke lycan, Drexler, was…close. Shannon’s mind reeled and for a brief moment the world stopped along with her heart. Drexler wasn’t close. No. She was near, maybe a quarter of a mile at the most, but close enough for the scent to register on the wind. And Shannon’s fear went from to the bone to a hellacious soaking at a cellular level.
Drexler was threat level she had never thought possible, and mixed with the current threats, there was no way in any hell that she or Deidre would make it through the next sixty seconds.
“Dee,” screamed Shannon as she embraced the change. It might help her survive, but she was certain that Deidre was fucked. She had to at least warn her. The drainage ditch had played out. The end was grated with heavy metal grid work. Their only chance was to crest the ditch and make a run for it on the road. Shannon followed Deidre up the side and for a moment she was gaining on her. It was when Shannon stopped to look over her shoulder that their distance opened up again. Damn could that girl run.
Deidre was forty feet ahead and still moving away. She glanced over her shoulder as Shannon screamed her name again. “Dee! Run! That lycan bitch is-”
The werezombie in the lead opened its muzzle as it charged forward, set to release a roar of impending triumph. A snap rushed past Shannon’s ear and its throat exploded. The undead lycan took a half step and then collapsed. A few seconds of weak mushy breathing came from the shredded throat, and then nothing. The shot had taken out the werezombie’s spinal column. It died unmoving as its comrades trampled or rushed past its body. They were rabid with blood lust. Froth, infected saliva or both flew from their muzzles, and nothing could convince them to change their minds or their course of action. They ran ahead, unmindful or uncaring that something had killed one of their own.
Three more snaps, three well placed shots to the head, in rapid succession fell the remaining threats. The werezombie pack died quickly and oblivious to the death of the others.
Shannon was fully changed, and she hoped to God that her shaking wasn’t visible to either Deidre or Drexler. She need to maintain confidence for one and dominance for the other. The dominance aspect was a pipe dream, and she knew it.
“Remember when I told you to get to the truck, and you didn’t?”
Greene was back, and his tone was vengefully accusing.
“Why didn’t you go to the truck like I told you? If you had, things would’ve been different. But no.” He drew no out in a long unflattering to anyone mocking voice. “You fucking knew better. Idiot. Stupid fucking idiot. You stupid fucking idiot mutt.”
Shannon turned to face Greene, to scream for him to shut his damned mouth, but he was gone.
Her gaze fell upon Deidre, poised in a crouch nearly against the wall of where Greene had urged Shannon to retreat. She didn’t take notice of Shannon or the expression of utter rage covering her face. She was too busy looking for the sniper.
“She’s moving away, I think.” Shannon spoke mostly to herself as she turned around sniffing.
“Dude, she’s retreated so get to the truck like I told you.” Greene’s disembodied voice felt like it was nowhere at all. It felt like it just was. What disturbed Shannon was Greene’s continued push to get to the truck even though the danger had passed. She didn’t like the new scent. It was too young, fresh, and familiar.
“Stay right there,” Shannon ordered as she passed Deidre. “Don’t move.”
“What do you mean, don’t move?”
“Stay,” commanded Shannon, hand held out like a canine trainer. She felt the urge to follow it with, “good girl,” but didn’t. A new reality had presented them personally not with a shit sandwich and a steaming glass of Ovaltine flavored diarrhea, but a shit salad smorgasbord with all you can guzzle green apple splatter cider.
And that new reality had now presented her and Deidre with Rance’s head perched precariously on the steering wheel. Lumpy fecal matter was smeared on his upper lip and chin in a parody of a mustache and goatee. On the windshield interior was the shit scribed message, written in Drexler’s elegant hand, “I tried to care for him, but you know how it is with livestock. They’re so hard to keep alive. Plus, pigs live in shit. You live with pigs, ergo you live in shit as well. Miss you much. D”

(C) Jason G. McKinney All rights reserved.

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