- Erica Stevens
- My name is not really Erica Stevens, it is a pen name that I chose in memory of two amazing friends lost too soon.I was born in New York and moved to Mass as a child. I spent my time growing up between NY and Mass so I have some interesting times when sports games roll around. I was fortunate enough to marry my best friend over two years ago and I don't know what I'd do without him. I have a large, crazy, fun loving family that just loves to laugh. My parents are the strongest people I know. I have an older brother and sister, and a younger sister, who have blessed me with many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. I am nowhere near as old as the great nieces and nephews make me sound. I love to read and have wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The week four winners are Tammy Ford Torres, Lisa Snowden, Kimberly Kasparian, Paula Reabold Novack, and KayJay. To claim your prize message me your address on FB or at email@example.com. Congratulations! All prizes must be claimed by Sun. 5/26. All unclaimed prizes will be offered up in a bonus question on Tues. 5/28. This is also the final call for week one winners Christine Copas and Heidi Andres.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Hi everyone I just wanted to let you know about a giveaway I am taking part in with some other authors. On Friday I will be giving away ten copies of a bundle of the first three books in The Captured Series on author AC James blog. I will a...lso be starting a sale of the bundle of books this weekend! There are other authors offering free copies of their books. Stop by and check it out if you get the chance! http://acjamesbooks.blogspot.com/
He drifted off but it was impossible to sleep for any length of time between the persistent throbbing in his hand and the feeling of impending doom. Every time his head would nod down it would shoot right back up. He blinked blearily around the room and shifted himself further up on the headboard.
The lightning and thunder had faded away a few hours ago, and he found he disliked the ensuing quiet even more than the chaos of the storm. He could hear them now, clearly. They bumped and jostled and moved about in the next room, but they didn’t speak and aside from the occasional shout from outside he heard no other human sounds from them.
Rochelle was curled up beside him; her chest rose and fell evenly as small breaths escaped her. Lee was on the floor on the other side of her; he was the only other one that had managed to fall asleep for any length of time. Riley and Carl were sitting by the front door. Carl had one leg drawn up, his arm draped over it and his gun in hand. He hadn’t placed the gun down since they’d realized that one, if not all of them, may become one of the mindless group surrounding them.
Riley’s head bent toward Carl’s as they talked in hushed murmurs that Al could barely pick up. A few feet away from them, leaning against the bureau, John stared at the ceiling. Al wondered what he saw there, or if perhaps he had become catatonic like the rest of the world seemed to have. Al slipped his hand under the pillow and wrapped it around the gun there. The last thing he wanted was to hurt anyone in this room but he wasn’t willing to be caught unawares.
Absently he reached down and rubbed his knee before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He wasn’t going to fall asleep and it was lonely lying there in the dark. He slid off the bed and plodded over to the wall. He bit back a groan as he slid down the wall between Carl and John.
“You ok?” Carl asked quietly.
“I’m not going to get any sleep.”
“I can’t believe they’re sleeping,” Riley murmured.
Al watched the two figures sleeping across the room. He knew what they were all thinking, were the two of them sick? Or were they really just some of the lucky few that could sleep through anything, including an apocalypse? Al hadn’t checked Rochelle’s temperature, he’d been too afraid to know. He wasn’t even sure that a fever would be one of the symptoms. He’d do what was necessary to survive, but he didn’t think he could put her down if it became required of him. He couldn’t do that to Rochelle or to Mary Ellen, but he was pretty sure that no one else in this room would be able to do it either.
“We were thinking,” Riley murmured. “What if it’s already in us, or perhaps was already in them?”
Al frowned as he reluctantly turned his attention from the slumbering forms. His eyes felt like sandpaper as he tried to blink away the blur that momentarily surrounded her. “What do you mean?”
“You know how chicken pox can become shingles, what if it’s something like that? What if it’s some virus or DNA strand that’s inside of us already and something new in the environment caused it to mutate?”
Al pondered her words and then shook his head. “I suppose it’s a possibility. I had the chicken pox.”
“I think everyone had the chicken pox,” John muttered.
“There are millions of viruses on the earth, and there’s no way to know how many may have been beneath it, or trapped within its crust. These might even be two separate things we’re dealing with here. A virus that makes people mindless drones and maybe bacteria that turns them into raving lunatics. There may even be other forms out there that we haven’t even seen yet, other manifestations in people.”
There was a moment of cessation of breath as they all stared at him. “Crap,” John muttered as he ran a hand through his hair. “Crap, crap, crap.”
“Until it happens to one of us I don’t think we should worry.” Al knew that was easier said than done, but they would drive themselves crazy if they continued to harp on this. “All of these people were in a town that we didn’t enter until hours later. They could have been exposed to something we weren’t.”
“Maybe,” Riley muttered and dropped her head into her hands to massage her temples.
“When I was ten years old I played spin the bottle with a girl who refused to kiss me. Her name was Rosie Dugan and I thought she was the end all and be all of my entire existence. When she wouldn’t kiss me I was certain that I was going to die, that the ground was just going to open up and swallow me whole,” Carl muttered.
“Ooook,” Riley said after a prolonged moment of silence.
“Before today that was the only other time in my life that I was absolutely certain I was going to die, but I managed to survive it.” Riley began to laugh, a low chuckle that she muffled by covering her mouth with both her hands. Al couldn’t stop the small bout of laughter that started to escape him and John’s head bent as his shoulders shook. “Yeah that’s how my friends reacted when it happened,” Carl continued.
That only caused Al to laugh harder and Riley was squirming down the door now as she tried to stifle her giggles. “What happened to Rosie?” John inquired in a choked voice.
“Ah well, Rosie just got prettier with age and ignored me until the end of high school. She married an investment banker, had three babies, and last I heard she was living large in California.”
“That bitch,” Riley said and covered her mouth as she started to laugh again.
“My thoughts exactly,” Carl told her. “But I suppose there’s a good possibility she might be dead now.”
“That’s looking at the bright side,” John snorted.
“I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t want to kiss you,” Riley said.
Carl shrugged as he ran a hand through his hair. “I wasn’t this irresistibly good looking back then.”
John grabbed his stomach as he bent over. It was taking everything Al had not to burst into the loud, belly deep laughter that had been his signature until his wife died. “That explains it,” Riley chuckled.
The laughter came to an abrupt halt as a loud bump sounded against the door behind Riley and Carl. They all froze, Al’s hand tightened around his gun as he waited to see if some other loony was going to try and break in. Silence followed the bump but it was still a few minutes before he took his first easy breath.
“When I was thirteen I was showing off for a girl on my bike by doing a jump. I ended up face planting into the curb instead. I broke my nose and knocked out my front tooth. I didn’t get a kiss that day either,” John told him.
“I wouldn’t doubt it,” Carl said.
“She kissed me a few weeks later though so I guess it was kind of worth it.”
“I’m sure that’s what your parents thought when they got the dentist bill,” Al replied.
“Probably not,” John agreed. “My dad thought it was kind of funny though, my mom wasn’t anywhere near as amused.”
John shifted and grew quiet as he rested his head against the bureau again. His fingers tapped on his knee as he went back to staring at the ceiling. “Xander stuck me with the nickname Dumbo. Everyone called me that, or D, for a good chunk of my life. I could never quite decide which name I found more annoying,” Riley admitted. “People gave me feathers until I was thirteen. I actually got lice from them once; I’ve never told anyone that before.”
“Oh,” John choked. “That’s bad”
“Your ears aren’t that big,” Carl assured her.
“Thankfully I grew into them, but yeah they were pretty bad.”
Rochelle released a soft snore and rolled over on the bed. “I don’t know if I envy them or if I’m a little afraid of them,” Riley muttered.
“Both, definitely both,” Carl said.
“When I was seventeen I planned an elaborate, beautiful dinner for this girl I was dating, Helen. I was going to ask her to marry me. I was really nervous but I still managed to pop the question. She said no,” Al told them. “I’d never been more embarrassed and humiliated in my life.”
“Why did she say no?” Riley’s voice was a bare whisper.
Al shrugged as he absently rubbed his knee. “She knew what I didn’t at the time.”
“And what was that?” John prodded.
“She wasn’t in love with me, and when I met my wife I realized that I hadn’t really been in love with her either. Helen was a good woman, we actually remained friendly for years afterward, but we weren’t going to be good together. At the time it was a big step for her, she went against the grain, and her parents, by saying no. I respected her for that but it was embarrassing as all hell and my pride was stung for a long time after that one. When I finally worked up the nerve to ask Nellie to marry me I was so nervous that I couldn’t get the words out. Thankfully she was a smart woman and figured out what I was ineptly trying to get at and said yes. That was one of the best days of my life.
“After meeting Nellie I thanked God everyday that Helen had said no that day. I came to realize that Helen’s rejection wasn’t the worst day of my life, but it was one of the days that made me understand that not everything is as it seems. It made me realize that even the darkest days may bring something unexpected and wonderful.”
“Do you think that might happen here?” Riley breathed.
“One can only hope,” Al told her, but he didn’t hold out much hope. Helen saying no had been one thing, this was something entirely different.
“I suppose so.”
Al rubbed at his knee again as something bumped in the room next door. “I hope the truck’s ok,” John said.
“You and me both.” Carl’s bones popped as he pushed himself away from the door and rose up. He stretched his back as he surveyed the room. Though no one, after Riley, had been willing to take a shower, they had all cleaned up the best they could with washcloths and tub water. Carl had tossed aside his ruined work shirt in favor of the hideous Hawaiian shirt that was loud even in the shadowed room. Al was pretty sure he shouldn’t go out in public, it seemed like he’d be waving a red flag in front of the mindless bulls.
“That is one ugly shirt,” John muttered as Carl started to pace the small room.
“Better an ugly shirt than an ugly face,” Carl retorted.
“My mom said this was a handsome face.”
“It is a face that only a mom could love.”
John smiled weakly at him and went back to staring at the ceiling as his fingers resumed their tapping. Al shifted and pushed himself into a kneeling position, John moved to help him but he waved the young kid away. He’d be happy when he could get his hands on some aspirin, but he didn’t need help, not now anyway. He felt every one of his years as he straightened up though.
He walked over to the spot that Carl had vacated and pressed his eye to the peephole. He could barely see anything out there, just shifting shadows amongst the inky backdrop. He stepped over Riley’s legs to get to the window and pulled back a corner of the mattress. He could see shifting shadows sliding through the dark, but he couldn’t tell how many people were out there.
He placed the mattress carefully back against the window and leaned against it. “I once ate a worm on a dare,” Riley said.
“That’s disgusting,” John told her.
Riley shrugged but her teeth flashed in the darkness. “It wasn’t as bad as you would think.”
“You’re not helping your case,” John muttered.
“I once jumped off my porch roof because I was convinced I could fly,” Carl admitted.
“What were you on?” John inquired dryly.
“A lot, I didn’t even know I’d dislocated my shoulder till the next day.”
“I tipped all my neighbors cows over when I was fifteen,” Al said. “It was about as much fun as it sounds.”
John stopped staring at the ceiling to smile at him. “My friends and I once stole someone’s boat and went fishing all night. We left them a few beers, a thank you note, and some leftover bait. That was a good night.”
“Sounds like it,” Riley murmured. Carl walked back over to the door and tried to see out. “Maybe we should try and leave now.”
There was a large part of him, ninety nine percent actually that wanted out of this room so badly that he almost agreed with her. The one percent that was rational, and knew that it would mean almost certain death, wisely kept his mouth shut. “We can’t,” Carl reluctantly said.
Riley took a deep breath and pulled both of her legs up against her chest. “We robbed a cop’s house today.”
John cocked an eyebrow as he stared at her. “Seriously?”
“Yeah,” she said with a small grin. “It’s how we got our guns. I felt like a bad ass.”
“Oh yeah, you’re a rebel you worm eater you.” John pointed his index fingers at her as he beamed at her.
Riley laughed and grinned at Al as he settled back onto the ground beside her. “Well I never would have done it on any other day, that’s for sure.”
“I skipped almost every day of my senior year. My parents were so disappointed, but school wasn’t my thing. I enjoyed landscaping,” John stated.
“I enjoyed many things in my life.” A small, reminiscent smile curved Carl’s mouth. His eyes took on a distant look as he drifted into some memory Al was sure none of them wanted to hear.
“I once dropped my son on his head when he was just a year old. He squiggled out of my grasp and plopped right on the floor. I was terrified for years that I’d given him some kind of brain damage,” Al admitted.
Riley chuckled as she leaned against his side. “Your wife must have flipped out.”
“I value my life too much to have told her about that one. We’d have been divorced, or she would have been a widow.”
“Did you do any damage to him?” John inquired.
“Nah they’re surprisingly sturdier than you would think.”
He settled back against the door and tuned out the noises next door as they continued to share stories and secrets that they’d harbored for years. Though none of them harbored any soul shattering secrets, he realized after an hour or so that they were unburdening themselves. They were sharing their guilt and tales in search of forgiveness that none of them required. He shared their desire to unburden himself, to listen to them, and tell them everything, even if they were strangers.
But they weren’t strangers, not anymore. He hadn’t even known them for a whole day, but as the sky began to lighten he realized he knew more about them than some people he’d been friends with for thirty plus years. He also found that he liked them more than he had liked certain members of his own family even. Carl crept back to the window and pulled the mattress down. The growing light of the day did nothing to help the hideousness of his shirt.
Al wiped tiredly at his eyes and forced himself back to his feet. For barely having slept in the past twenty four hours he was surprised by the fact that he was still able to move. “I would kill someone for coffee right now,” John muttered.
“Do you really think that was the best choice of words?” Carl asked him.
“Perhaps not, but it’s the truth.”
Al stepped next to Carl as he pulled the mattress back from the window again. There were still people outside but their numbers seemed to have dwindled. The truck and car appeared untouched but he couldn’t see the back of the truck from here. “We might as well wake the two sleeping beauty’s and go now. I don’t think it’s going to get any clearer out there,” Carl said.
Riley nodded and hurried over to Lee’s side; she grabbed hold of his shoulder and shook him. “Go away,” he muttered as he threw his arm back at her.
“Lee come on, get up.”
Lee cracked an eye and looked up at her as Al shook Rochelle’s shoulder gently. “Riley? What are you doing in my room?”
“You’re not in your room dumb ass, now get up. We have to go.”
Rochelle’s eyes fluttered open. Her eyes widened in fear and then her face fell as realization dawned upon her. Tears blurred her eyes for a moment before she wiped them quickly away and sat up. “Are we leaving?” she asked.
“I have to go to the bathroom first.”
“Remember not to flush,” Carl reminded her.
She nodded as she disappeared into the small bath. Lee sat up and rolled his shoulders as he stared at the covered window. “Are you ok?” Riley asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he muttered.
She reached for his shoulder but her hand fell back to her side as the bathroom door opened and Lee climbed to his feet. Al watched the young man shuffle to the bathroom with hunched shoulders. “Do you think he’s ok?” Carl whispered.
“I think so,” Riley answered.
Lee looked a little more revitalized when he reappeared from the bathroom. “We’ll move as quickly as possible, I’m hoping we’ll still be able to drive both vehicles. Who knows what that lightning might have done to them though. Stay close together, it’s the only way we’ll all get there,” Carl instructed.
Al took a deep breath and adjusted his hold on his gun. He wasn’t looking forward to this, but he wanted out of this room so badly right now that it didn’t matter how much he dreaded stepping foot outside again. Carl nodded toward them as he slid the chain lock free and flipped the door handle lock. He hesitated for a moment before flinging the door open on the dawning day beyond.
Al hadn’t known what he’d been expecting but the cloud filled gray sky, and barely visible hazy sun, momentarily threw him off. He blinked against the seemingly normal, peaceful day as he stepped through the doorway. He had only a moment to take in the serenity that had followed the preceding events before a loud bellow broke the solitude of the early morning.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
You will be able to answer the question until 12:00 PM EST, on Tues. 5/21/13, and the five winners will be posted by 5:00 PM EST on the same day. Due to the fact that this is the last question, all prizes must be claimed by Sun. 5/26. All unclaimed prizes will be offered up in one final bonus question that will be asked on Tues. 5/28. Please only answer once. Good Luck!
Which vampire is the fifth in line? Which vampire is the seventh in line?
Which vampire is the fifth in line? Which vampire is the seventh in line?
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The winners for the Salvation week 3 giveaway have been chosen! They are Mzd11, Vicki Stephenson, Jordon Haigh, Katrena Turner, and Tabitha McBeth. You can message me your address through FB or at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize. Congratulations! Don't forget there will be another chance to win starting tommorow!
Monday, May 13, 2013
THE SURVIVOR CHRONICLES
In less then a day everything they’ve ever known has vanished and the world is in chaos. Uncertain where to turn, and who to trust in this strange new world, they must band together in an attempt to survive. However, as they begin to realize, it’s not only the crumbling earth, and treacherous people around them that are a threat, but also something unseen and even more lethal.
Xander’s mouth dropped, his hand lingered on the door handle as all those vacant eyes swung toward the car. Josh’s hand tightened around his arm as he made some sort of noise that Xander had never heard before. A lump formed in Xander’s throat, what was wrong their faces? He couldn’t tell if they had chicken pox or a severe case of leprosy. He was so busy trying to figure it out that he hadn’t seen the figure ambling out of the crowd until he crashed into the side of the car.
Shrill screams filled the car and he wasn’t ashamed by the fact that one of them was his. Josh was practically on his lap as they gaped at the hideous face of what had once been a man, but now appeared to be more monster than human. He hit his palm against the passenger side window as he sniffed at it like it was an apple pie sitting on the windowsill to cool.
Xander didn’t plan on being that pie. Mary Ellen released Molly and shoved her back as she scrambled over the backseat to the space that Allie had vacated. The thing’s eyes turned toward her as her motion caught his attention. She froze, her eyes were as round as golf balls as her hand hung in the act of reaching for the open door.
The sight of that door spurred Xander into motion. He wasn’t going to sit here and be eaten by these things, or ruthlessly ripped apart by them. “Hold on!” Xander shouted and hoped like hell that Bobby and Peter heard him. He didn’t feel like killing his best friend today, or breaking his legs. “Get the door.”
Mary Ellen lunged forward and snagged hold of the handle as the man lurched at the doorway. Molly screamed again as the door slammed shut and Mary Ellen fumbled with the lock switch. Xander shifted into reverse and slammed on the gas. The tires spun on the pavement, smoke filled the air, and the scent of burning rubber permeated the luxury car. For a moment he didn’t think the tires would catch and they would sit there and burn rubber as the thing continued to beat on the car.
Then the car heaved awkwardly backward with a loud squeal that at any other time he would have thoroughly enjoyed. Right now though all he cared about was keeping the car on the road. The trunk blocked his rearview mirror so he had to use the side mirrors the best he could as he navigated in a swerving motion down the street.
He jumped and almost slammed on the brakes as the trunk suddenly shut. His heart dropped and it took a disconcerting second for him to register the fact that Peter and Bobby were both locked in the trunk now. He would have laughed out loud if it wasn’t all so awful. With the trunk down he was able to get a better view of the road as he draped his arm over the seat and turned sideways to watch the road.
Mary Ellen was leaning against her door to get as far out of his way as possible, but Molly was as unmoving as the sheets she was the color of. Xander navigated the car around a corner and hit the brakes. Something, or someone, crashed against the backseat, and then loud bangs echoed through the car as someone beat against the seats.
“Can you get those seats down?” Xander demanded.
“No time,” Josh said frantically.
“What?” Xander asked. The kid grabbed hold of his arm and jerked it off the backseat. Xander almost yelled at him but the kid pointed ahead of the car. The entire world seemed to blur before him as a chill slid down his spine.
There were thousands of them, or perhaps only hundreds, but it seemed like thousands as he stared at the people filtering through the streets. A woman pushed and shoved her way to the forefront, she looked more disgruntled than frightened as she elbowed her way past the last of the horde. She stared at the people like they were crazy, and Xander gave her credit for braving them in the first place. As he watched one of the ones that he was pretty certain had some kind of bizarre leprosy also emerged from the group. The woman didn’t see him until he grabbed hold of her and brought her to the ground.
Xander started to make a move to help her, but even as the thought crossed his mind he knew it was already too late. Though she screamed and gave a feeble fight, she was quickly silenced beneath the ferocious blows she was dealt. Josh’s mouth was gaping as he leaned forward to stare out the windshield. Xander’s hand tightened on the wheel, he wanted to look away, but he couldn’t bring himself to tear his gaze away from the atrocity before him. The freakoid, as Xander now thought of him, didn’t eat and tear into the flesh like Xander had been expecting, but pummeled and beat at the woman as if she were a punching bag that he was determined to tear open.
Then, he did tear her open.
Xander’s stomach somersaulted, Molly began to scream. Like a fire whistle going off, she began to release a series of shrieks that not only nearly pierced Xander’s eardrums, but drew the attention of the mob across from them.
Mary Ellen slammed her hand over the young girl’s mouth, but although her palm muffled the sounds, they didn’t silence her completely. “Shh, hush, shh Molly you have to stop. Shh!”
“Shut up!” Josh shouted. “Shut up! Shut up!”
“Not helping,” Xander told him. “Not helping at all!”
He didn’t want to look but he had to know. His eyes were drawn back toward the mayhem and blood before him, his heart pounded as the man that had so brutally ripped the woman apart now focused upon them. “We need to go,” Josh muttered. “We need to go now.”
Josh hadn’t had to repeat himself; Xander had every intention of getting out of there. Turning back around in his seat, Xander met Mary Ellen’s eyes. Molly was still screaming against her hand but the two in the trunk had gone silent as Xander hit the gas again. He heard them bounce against something, but this time there was no disapproving pounding on the backseat. There was only a strange silence that somehow managed to bother him even more than the fact that he was doing thirty in reverse, in an attempt to avoid the craziest people he’d ever had the misfortune of encountering.
He turned the car into another side road and threw it into drive. Squealing back out of the road, the car fishtailed as he was finally able to drive forward again. He knew he should be cautious, knew he should take it easy on the demolished roads, but it was getting darker out, and the last thing he wanted was to be trapped in this town, at dark, with those things.
“Xander,” Mary Ellen breathed when they hit a hole hard enough to send the car airborne for a few feet. His jaw clenched, his heart hammered, but he somehow managed to force himself to ease off the gas pedal enough not to destroy the car and everyone else in his urgency.
“Where are we going?” Josh asked.
Xander opened his mouth to answer, but he didn’t have one. There was nothing he could say because he didn’t know where the hell they were going right now. Sturbridge yes, but they needed to be somewhere else when night completely fell. Otherwise he didn’t know what would happen to them.
“I don’t know.”
Xander shook his head. “I don’t think many families exist anymore.”
“Xander,” Mary Ellen breathed from the backseat.
He glanced at her and Molly in the rearview mirror. Molly and Josh seemed so young, so vulnerable and lost, but Xander knew they were at most five years younger than he was, and they weren’t as weak as they appeared to be. Or at least Josh wasn’t. He was half convinced Molly had flipped her nut and entered the land of Oz, possibly for good. She’d gone completely silent now; her eyes had a glazed look to them that frightened him more than the freakoid had.
“They have to know, it’s not like we’re going to keep it secret from them. It’s not like we can hide the fact that the world has gone to crap,” Xander told her.
He pulled the car to the side of the road and took a steadying breath as he searched the empty road. “What are you doing?” Josh demanded.
“I’m pretty sure your teacher, and I know Bobby, would like to be let out sometime today,” Xander told him.
“They could still be out there.”
Xander hesitated. “They are still out there Josh, and they’re not going away, at least not anytime soon.”
“Xander,” Mary Ellen hissed.
“Well it’s true and he’s old enough to understand. What are you fifteen?”
“Seventeen,” Josh answered.
Older than Xander had thought and the same age as Riley. A pang stabbed his heart but he shoved it aside as he pushed the door open. It would be more than his heart hurting if he didn’t let Bobby out of the trunk sometime soon. “They’re old enough,” he said to Mary Ellen.
He took the keys with him. He was sure there was some way to open the trunk from inside the car but he didn’t feel like taking the time to find it, and truth be told he wanted out of the car for a few moments. He suspiciously surveyed the streets as he moved, they remained quiet for now but he knew that wouldn’t last. Those people, or things, or whatever, were out there and they were getting closer. He unlocked the trunk quickly and flung it open.
Bobby and Peter were sweating profusely as they blinked against the influx of the fading daylight. “Thought you might enjoy some fresh air,” Xander told him.
“More than you know,” Bobby muttered. “What was that?”
“I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you.”
“We saw the people,” Peter told him. “What was wrong with them?”
“I don’t know, but unless you want to stay in the trunk I’d suggest you get moving.”
It took them a little bit to disentangle themselves from the trunk. Though it was roomier than most, Xander wrinkled his nose as he stared into the confines. “Who broke the taillight?” he inquired.
“I think that was me,” Bobby told him. “But I doubt you’ll get a ticket for it now.”
“Yeah me too. It’s going to be cramped in the car, but…”
“Where’s Allie?” Peter demanded as he peered into the backseat.
Xander didn’t have a chance to respond, Josh had also stepped out of the car and was studying the street as he answered. “She ran into the crowd.”
“Why would she do that?”
“She saw her mother and ran after her,” Josh said.
“Is she ok?”
“We don’t know,” Xander told him. “Let’s hope so.”
“Mr. Dade.” Peter paused in the act of opening the backdoor to look at Josh. “Do you want to ride up front?”
Peter offered a small smile as he shook his head. “I think Molly needs me right now, but thanks Josh.”
Bobby took a step toward the passenger side door but Josh snorted at him and shook his head. “You don’t grade my papers man,” Josh informed Bobby before he bolted back into the passenger seat.
Xander bit back a laugh as Bobby’s mouth dropped. “That’s bull,” Bobby muttered as he stared into the crammed backseat. “Ugh.”
“I’d offer to let you drive, but you don’t grade my papers either,” Xander told him.
“You’re a freaking riot, just hilarious. Bet if Riley was back there you wouldn’t be driving.”
Xander smiled at him. “So when we find her, you can have the keys.”
Bobby climbed into the backseat and wedged himself up against Peter. He pressed his middle finger against the window as Xander closed the door on him. Xander smiled sweetly back at him before hurrying around the car. He glanced nervously at the streets again before slipping back inside and starting the car up again.
“Do you know anywhere we could go that might be safe? Anywhere we could hole up for the night, maybe even find another vehicle?” Xander asked.
Peter’s shoulders were scrunched up and his face was flushed as he met Xander’s gaze in the mirror. This car was going to get very ripe, very soon, Xander realized. There was sweat slipping down his back, never mind the four of them being squished in like sardines. He wanted to crack the window, but after seeing those people he was scared to breathe the air. But then he supposed it didn’t matter.
Mary Ellen inhaled sharply as he cracked the window. For a moment her shoulders stiffened but then she relaxed and cracked her own window. Though a cross current of air flowed through the car, the stale, muggy air blowing through did little to cool him off. “Well considering my house was past those people, I’d say that’s out of the question,” Peter told him.
Xander looked to Molly but she still remained immobile on the seat. “What about your house Molly?” he prodded anyway, hoping to get some reaction out of the girl.
She remained silent though, staring ahead as if there was some movie playing that only she could see. Xander wondered what the movie was, but he didn’t want to find out. Peter and Josh stared at her, Bobby tried to crane his neck to see the young girl but he was unable to do so. He gave Xander a confused look as Xander turned briefly to look over his shoulder. Xander gave him a subtle shake of his head and turned back around.
“Her house was on the other side of town too,” Josh answered. “Is she ok?” he asked in a low whisper.
“I don’t think so.” Xander refused to lie to the kid.
Peter reached over and rested his hand on Molly’s arm, but the girl didn’t show any response to the touch. “I know a garage.”
“A garage?” Xander inquired to Josh’s statement.
“Yeah, like a mechanic’s shop kind of garage. It’s in a remote area of town, and if we can get to it it could be a good place to hide the car, and ourselves, for the night. There won’t be any vehicles we can use, but there might be a little gas.”
“What kind of mechanic shop is it if there aren’t any vehicles?” Bobby asked.
Josh shrugged. “It’s a friend of mine’s place. We hang out there once in awhile while he fiddles with an old Camaro he’s trying to restore.”
Xander quirked an eyebrow while Bobby chuckled. Xander knew well that kind of garage; it had once been Bobby’s. None of them had done much work on the car though and more sneaking beers as they talked girls and hung out. In fact, Bobby’s Charger was still on blocks as far as Xander knew.
“Is it behind your friend’s house?” Xander asked, hoping there was a chance they could find some food or drinks at some point. He was beyond parched and his stomach felt like it was going to start eating itself. Then he recalled that strange human pummeling the poor woman to death and his appetite vanished.
“Nah, it’s actually an abandoned mechanic’s shop that we’ve been using.”
“Legally?” Peter asked with a quirk of his eyebrow.
Josh snorted as he shrugged. “I don’t think that matters much now Mr. Dade, but no not legally. Luke’s parents would have killed him if they knew he’d bought a Camaro.”
Peter tried to look disapproving, but Xander saw the amusement in his eyes. “I see.”
“It’s a good spot though. It’s in the woods, set back from the road, and there are two ways to get in and out. I don’t think we’ll find much better, at least not in this town. Maybe in the next one.”
“I think it’s better if we stop.” Mary Ellen nodded nervously toward Molly. “If we can get to this garage maybe we should do that.”
“I’d feel better if we had a gun,” Xander muttered.
“Can’t help you there,” Josh told him. “There’s a gun store in Taunton. My uncle likes to hunt and that’s where he goes.”
“Taunton’s backtracking and I’m not doing that,” Xander said.
Josh frowned as he sat back in his seat. “Well we’re not that far from Woonsocket, I know there’s a store there he would get bullets from once in awhile. That’s still going toward Sturbridge at least.”
“I’m not sure it’s the best idea to rob a gun store,” Bobby muttered.
“It would probably be quicker to cross into Rhode Island to get to Sturbridge anyway,” Peter said. “Even if we don’t end up with guns, which I kind of have to agree with Bobby on that one. We need weapons, but I think that could be a bad idea. Real bad.”
“Let’s just get somewhere for the night,” Mary Ellen urged.
“There’s metal to hit people with at the garage, or are they zombies?” Josh tilted his head as he pondered his question.
Xander supposed metal was better than nothing, but he definitely would have preferred to have a shotgun in his hand. “I can’t even begin to think about that,” Xander told him. “Though he didn’t eat the flesh, at least not that I saw.”
Mary Ellen shuddered and made a face. “You’re going to want to turn up here,” Josh told him.
Xander followed his directions to a small dirt road that was pitted with holes and littered with branches. “I’ll get out. We’re going to have to move a lot of those,” Peter volunteered.
Bobby leapt out of the car before Xander could come to a complete stop; Peter was hot on his heels. Josh also climbed out of the car to help remove the limbs that blocked the way. Xander crept down the road as the three of them worked together to lift branches and toss them into the woods.
A small, worn down garage appeared at the end of the road. It was much like he had pictured with boarded up windows, a sagging roof, and two garage doors that had been spray painted with pictures, and a few words that he wouldn’t have said out loud if his mother was present. Vines climbed up the walls and encased the ceiling. It was rundown and looked as if a stiff wind would blow it over, but it had withstood the quakes, it was remote, and it was one of the best things he’d ever seen.
Josh and Bobby disappeared around the side while Peter stood watch at the corner of the building. The daylight was fading fast as one of the doors slid up and Josh waved him eagerly forward. Xander drove forward as the automatic headlights sprang to life. He moved faster, eager to hide the illumination, even if there wasn’t anyone around to see it.
The lights dimmed out as he turned the car off and the garage door clattered down behind him. Darkness suffused the building for a moment and then a light flickered on the other side of the room. The hollowed out shell of a Camaro was revealed, but unlike Bobby’s car, they seemed to be making actual progress with this one. Even so, Xander wasn’t surprised by the bag of beer cans sitting in the corner as he climbed out of the car.
“There are three lights, I don’t know how long they’ll last for,” Josh said as he held the mechanic’s light above his head. “I don’t remember the last time we changed the batteries in them. There’s usually some water in the cooler over there, and there’s always some munchies lying around. We’ll have to find them out as Dan as a habit of hiding them from the rest of us.”
Xander would search every square inch of this garage if it meant discovering where Dan liked to hide his munchies. “This may be a little bit of heaven,” Mary Ellen said as she glanced back at a still immobile Molly.
Peter hefted a tire iron into his hands and slapped it against his palm. “Better than nothing. Now let’s see if we can find that food.”
Josh was already pulling warm water out of the cooler and handing it out. Xander took one but hesitated before drinking it. What if whatever was wrong with those people had something to do with water? Saliva filled his mouth as he stared at the bottle. It didn’t matter if it had something to do with the water or not, either way he would end up dead, and he didn’t feel like being dehydrated when it happened.
Tipping his head back he took a long swallow from the bottle.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Braith’s shoulders were heaving, his chest was tense, and his arms sore from the amount of damage he’d just rendered. His vision was blurred by a hazy cloud of red that coated his eyes and made it nearly impossible to see. He’d never experienced anything like it. When he’d lost his vision, the world around him had consisted entirely of blackness. Then Aria had come into his life and brought the illumination back, brought color back and given him the gift of vision again.
Now the blackness had become the deep hue of blood. Instead of being completely blind this time though, shadows still moved across his field of vision and he could make out the blur of other obstacles in the clearing.
He couldn’t see them clearly but he knew that Gideon and Ashby had retreated far from him; David, Daniel, and William were standing by something solid, perhaps a rock, maybe a tree, only Jack was brave enough to remain anywhere nearby. He didn’t know what had caused this shadowed haze, he’d never been able to keep his vision this far from her, but it had been steadily improving when he was away from her. He thought it was due to the increasing amount of her blood within him.
She had strengthened him, and he’d let her down. He’d lost her.