Free Fiction Thursday – Jessie

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I don’t know about you, but I spent some quality time with the zombies and survivors of The Walking Dead this last weekend during AMC’s Walking Dead marathon. The marathon was a promo for season 4 which doesn’t start until October, so a marathon in July only makes me realize how long a wait it’s going to be for the next new episode.

All those Walking Dead episodes put me in the mood for some zombie fiction.  I wrote “Jessie” while I was on the Oregon coast, and a favorite restaurant of mine makes a cameo appearance.  Since I’m getting ready to leave for the coast again this weekend, what better story to share for Free Fiction Thursday?  I hope you enjoy the story of Tommy and Jessie on the beach, and that your time along the coast is far more pleasant.

jessie2 cover interior
Jesse

Annie Reed

Tommy met Jessie on the beach.

He’d been wandering along the shore line, walking on the wet sand because it was easier, and playing keep away with the waves so his shoes wouldn’t get wet.  The day was cold and cloudy.  He was looking for driftwood to make a fire, but he wasn’t looking all that hard.  This part of the beach was sheltered from the big part of the ocean by a sand bar, and for some reason there was a lot of driftwood here.  Everything from dry twigs and bark to huge old tree trunks covered with big black splotches that looked like they’d come from a burned out forest about a million years ago.  Tommy wanted to climb on top of the biggest ones and see what he could see, but Leon always told him to stay off the logs, it wasn’t safe, just like Leon had told him to walk along the water because the sick wouldn’t go in the water and it was one way to get away from them.

That hadn’t turned out to be true, but Tommy still walked along the water’s edge like Leon told him to even though Leon wasn’t there anymore.

Tommy had just picked up a piece of wood about the size of his forearm when he saw her sitting on top of a huge log near the water’s edge, watching him.

“You’re not supposed to be up there,” he said.

She stuck her tongue out at him.  “Says who?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Bait

Good morning, everyone!

How about we get Free Fiction Thursday back on track this week with a zombie story? I’ve been biting my nails as this season of The Walking Dead powers toward the inevitable all-out war between Rick and The Governor. Only two episodes left! Yikes. I have a feeling those next couple of episodes are going to be intense.

So in honor of The Walking Dead, this week’s free fiction is “Bait,” a story about what happens to a mismatched group of survivors when they try to do the right thing. Enjoy!

cover2 bait interior

BAIT

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2013 Annie Reed

Sarah saw the little girl first.

“Stop the truck!  Oh, George, please stop the truck!”

George didn’t want to stop.  He was still too freaked by the run out of Reno.  Half a tank of gas was all we managed to get at the last Arco station on 395 before the locals sniffed us out.  Most of them don’t come out into the sunlight, but every gas station in Nevada has a helpful tin roof over the pumps to keep the tourists from burning their tender scalps crispy red in the high altitude desert sun.

Not that Nevada has tourists anymore.

Not that anyplace does.

Doesn’t matter that we’re not from here.  We’re survivors, not tourists.  Everyone else are locals, as George calls them.

George doesn’t like to use the Z word.  Sarah and I don’t either.  Makes it sound like we’re in the middle of some low-rent horror movie.  We’re not.  And calling them The Infected makes it sound like they’ve just got a bad case of the flu, no big deal.  Trust me when I say, it’s a Very Big Deal.  End of the world, Big Deal.  I keep expecting to see an avenging angel sweep down out of the sky, Hollywood blockbuster style, and rip us to shreds for fucking up God’s grand plan.

Not that Sarah and George and I were responsible for this whole mess.  We were never responsible for much of anything, which makes the whole last three people on earth thing kind of ironic, you know what I mean?

“George, stop the fucking truck!”

Sarah yanked on the wheel before George or I could stop her.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Love Among the Llamas

Good morning, everyone!  How’s your Thursday going so far?

I’m having a hard time believing that’s its February already.  I shouldn’t.  I mean, we just watched the Superbowl on Sunday, and this coming Sunday is the long-anticipated (at least in my house) return of The Walking Dead.  Next Thursday is Valentine’s Day, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be on the Oregon coast for writing workshops with a lot of friends I haven’t seen in far too long.

But really, February?  Already?

Since we’re racing along towards Valentine’s Day, how about a little romance?  This week’s free story features a woman who decides to chuck her boring life out the window one morning (along with her cell phone) and go on an adventure.  I hope you enjoy “Love Among the Llamas.”

llama ebook cover small

Love Among the Llamas

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

Yesterday morning, I got in my car at seven twenty-five, same as always.  I popped in a CD – The Best of the Doobie Brothers this time – and cranked up the volume to keep me awake, same as always.  I stopped by Starbucks for a grande decaf latte, same as always.  Took the freeway to where I-80 merges with Interstate 395, that grand old mess of looped interchanges and exits Reno locals call the Spaghetti Bowl.  Same as always.

Only not quite.

Instead of veering right and taking the next off ramp, a left at the light three blocks down, and a right two blocks over into the parking garage, I stayed in the left lane and kept on driving east on the interstate.

And just like that, I quit my job.

Crazy, huh?  Maybe I always was crazy and nobody ever noticed.

I had plenty of time after that to think about what I was doing.  Once you get past Sparks going east on I-80, there’s a whole lot of nothing but empty road since all the early morning traffic’s going the other way.  All those cars carrying commuters to their jobs, and none of them was me.

My heart hammered in my chest there for a while, let me tell you.  I almost turned around at the next two off ramps I passed.  But what was I leaving behind, really?  An almost-empty apartment.  A barren love life.  A dead-end job for someone who’d only notice me by my absence.

I giggled a little about that.  I could just imagine my boss’s face when I didn’t show at eight.  At five after, he’d be checking his watch.  By ten after, he’d be growing frantic.

At eight-fifteen, my cell phone rang.

I threw the phone out my car window – I didn’t have  an iPhone, just some cheap thing I got at Walmart – which only made me giggle harder.  Bye-bye old life, hello you wide new wonderful world full of possibilities, you.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Patient Z

Happy Thursday, everyone!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m seriously jazzed about the season premiere of The Walking Dead on Sunday. The survivors were in pretty rough shape at the end of last season. It’s been a long summer waiting to find out what happens next.

For those who need a refresher, AMC will be marathoning the first two seasons starting Saturday morning and running through to the season 3 premiere on Sunday night. I’m going to have to avoid my television until Sunday night, or I’ll get sucked into watching the marathon and I have projects to work on, I tell you. Projects. *g*

In honor of The Walking Dead, this week’s story is the first story in my own zombie series. “Patient Z” is my take on how the end of the world started with a homeless woman who went dumpster diving in the wrong recycle bin. Enjoy!

PATIENT Z

Annie Ree

 Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

 Cover art copyright 2009 by Ivan Bliznetsov at iStockphoto.com

The Mayans got it wrong.  So did George Romero.

The world didn’t end in 2012.  It didn’t end in 2013 either.  The beginning of the end started on a quiet summer night in September of 2014 in an unremarkable corner of suburbia miles away from the nearest shopping mall.  If Madge had known what she was about to set in motion, she would have gone dumpster diving in someone else’s trash, but when you’re homeless, a glass bottle looks like nothing more than recyclable cash, not a plague waiting to happen.

The little stoppered bottle was stuck in the corner of a trash bag in the tenth recycle bin Madge raided that night.  Every other week, city workers picked up recycles along with regular garbage.  Most people put their garbage and recycles out the night before, either too lazy or too busy to do it in the morning.  Madge used to be too busy, too.  Not anymore.  These days, Madge had all the time in the world to rummage through recycle bins like she was making a late night trip to the bank, only instead of withdrawing cash, Madge lifted aluminum cans and glass other people threw away.

Madge had her neighborhoods memorized.  She knew which houses recycled and which ones didn’t.  She knew the every-other-week collection schedule better than most of the residents.  Raiding the bins was her full-time nocturnal occupation.  While turning in her finds didn’t net her a lot of money, she made  enough to keep herself in beer and the occasional bottle of cheap wine, neither of which the soup kitchens provided along with their free meals and the obligatory heaping helping of save your soul for dessert.

She found the stoppered bottle in front of a two-story house surrounded by a six-foot chain link fence.  The dirty yellow recycle bin sat next to the garbage can at the base of the gated driveway.  A padlock made sure nobody messed with the gate, and the yard was guarded by a thick-necked Rottweiler.  Most things except garbage were locked up these days, but not too many people had dogs anymore.  At least not dogs they let outside at night.

The dog growled when Madge rolled her shopping cart close to the driveway.  After she got close enough for the dog to catch her scent over the pungent odor of her cartful of recycles, the dog’s growl turned into a needy whine.

Madge had made friends with the dog weeks ago by feeding it scraps through the fence.  Turns out the dog just wanted a friend.

“Some guard dog you are,” Madge muttered.  “I’d have fired you, that’s what I would have done.”

Fired him, like Madge’s last boss fired her for not doing her job.  She didn’t blame him.  She’d been drinking a lot back then, back when Eli had left her and taken the kid and told her to get her damn act together as he’d walked out the door.  What a joke.  Nobody’s act was together anymore.  All everybody did was keep their heads down and survive the best way they could.

The dog was just like she’d been.  Stuck in an unsuitable job and an unsuitable life.  On the nights when Madge’s brain wasn’t too pickled to string more than a couple of thoughts together, she wondered why the people who hid behind a locked gate and the security system the little blue sign in their flowerbeds warned about never realized that their guard dog was lonely.

“Give me a minute,” she said to the dog.  “I got something real tasty in my pocket just for you.”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Ella and Mo

Good morning, everyone!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead. Yesterday I got a peek at Entertainment Weekly’s four covers for The Walking Dead’s third season. Wow! I can’t wait.

Since I’m in a walking dead frame of mind, here’s one of my own zombie apocalypse stories about one tough little girl. I hope you enjoy “Ella and Mo.”

 

ELLA AND MO

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover art Copyright Igor Shmatov | Dreamstime.com

Cover and layout Copyright © 2011 Thunder Valley Press

I met Ella when me and Jimbo come outta one of them flat-top houses a couple of miles off The Strip.  Jimbo had his arms full of stupid shit he thought he could sell.  Me?  I had a couple of cans of tuna somebody left behind because they was dented.  These days, tuna’s worth more in Vegas than blurays and TVs and jewelry, but there was no telling Jimbo that.

Ella got the drop on us ’cause we wasn’t paying close enough attention.  See, those sick fuckers that want to eat everybody don’t come out much during the day.  Too damn hot in Vegas for ’em.  Too damn hot in Vegas for everybody now that the power don’t work right half the time and the AC ain’t on, but I’d rather be hot than hungry, and Jimbo, he’d rather be rich than anything.  So we always did our business during the day when we didn’t have to worry so much about something that used to be alive wanting to eat us.

I don’t know what Ella was doing that day.  She never said and I never asked.  All I know is that one minute me and Jimbo was walking past some old lady’s garden gnome sitting as pretty as you please in the middle of a stand of  cactus in her front yard, feeling pretty proud of ourselves even though the sweat was pouring off us, and the next minute I see this kid with a gun standing next to my car.

She never said a word before she pointed her gun at Jimbo and blew a hole clean through his left shoulder.  Jimbo screamed, and her next shot hit him in that open maw of his mouth.  He quit screaming then and fell to the sidewalk like a sack of raw meat, smack on top of all that worthless shit he’d been carrying.  That was it for Jimbo.

Then that little kid pointed her gun at me.

“I want your car,” she said.

Anybody else might have yelled or run or laughed at her.  ‘Cept for that gun, she wasn’t much to look at.  Even before the creepers—that’s what Jimbo called those sick, dead fuckers—turned the world upside down, nobody took a little kid wearing a Red Riding hood cape and carrying a gun half as big as she was seriously.  Me?  I’m a survivor.  My old Mustang and me might have logged a lot of miles together, but a car’s just a car, so I said, “Yes, ma’am,” and held out the keys.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Jessie

Good morning!  Happy Thursday, Internets!

I don’t know about you, but I spent way too much time this last weekend watching AMC’s The Walking Dead third-season preview marathon.  I can’t wait for the up-coming season.  Maybe I should dive into the novel to get the background on The Governor, who will be showing up in season three.  Anybody here read The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor?  How did you like it?

In the meantime, since I’ve been in a zombie apocalypse survivor mood, this week’s Free Fiction Thursday story is one of five zombie survivor stories in my collection THE PATIENT Z FILES, which is on sale for 50% off the cover price at Smashwords through the month of July.  I hope you enjoy “Jessie.”

JESSIE

Annie Reed

Copyright © 2011 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Cover illustration Copyright Andreas Gradin | Dreamstime.com

Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

Tommy met Jessie on the beach.

He’d been wandering along the shore line, walking on the wet sand because it was easier, and playing keep away with the waves so his shoes wouldn’t get wet.  The day was cold and cloudy.  He was looking for driftwood to make a fire, but he wasn’t looking all that hard.  This part of the beach was sheltered from the big part of the ocean by a sand bar, and for some reason there was a lot of driftwood here.  Everything from dry twigs and bark to huge old tree trunks covered with big black splotches that looked like they’d come from a burned out forest about a million years ago.  Tommy wanted to climb on top of the biggest ones and see what he could see, but Leon always told him to stay off the logs, it wasn’t safe, just like Leon had told him to walk along the water because the sick wouldn’t go in the water and it was one way to get away from them.

That hadn’t turned out to be true, but Tommy still walked along the water’s edge like Leon told him to even though Leon wasn’t there anymore.

Tommy had just picked up a piece of wood about the size of his forearm when he saw her sitting on top of a huge log near the water’s edge, watching him.

“You’re not supposed to be up there,” he said.

She stuck her tongue out at him.  “Says who?”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Bait

Good morning, Internets!

Anybody besides me looking forward to this Sunday’s return of The Walking Dead? To tide us over, this week’s free fiction Thursday story is BAIT, one of the zombie survivor stories in my five-story collection THE PATIENT Z FILES. Enjoy!

Bait

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art copyright Andreas Gradin | Dreamstime.com

 

Bait

Annie Reed

 

Sarah saw the little girl first.

“Stop the truck!  Oh, George, please stop the truck!”

George didn’t want to stop.  He was still too freaked by the run out of Reno.  Half a tank of gas was all we managed to get at the last Arco station on 395 before the locals sniffed us out.  Most of them don’t come out into the sunlight, but every gas station in Nevada has a helpful tin roof over the pumps to keep the tourists from burning their tender scalps crispy red in the high altitude desert sun.

Not that Nevada has tourists anymore.

Not that anyplace does.

Doesn’t matter that we’re not from here.  We’re survivors, not tourists.  Everyone else are locals, as George calls them.

George doesn’t like to use the Z word.  Sarah and I don’t either.  Makes it sound like we’re in the middle of some low-rent horror movie.  We’re not.  And calling them The Infected makes it sound like they’ve just got a bad case of the flu, no big deal.  Trust me when I say, it’s a Very Big Deal.  End of the world, Big Deal.  I keep expecting to see an avenging angel sweep down out of the sky, Hollywood blockbuster style, and rip us to shreds for fucking up God’s grand plan.

Not that Sarah and George and I were responsible for this whole mess.  We were never responsible for much of anything, which makes the whole last three people on earth thing kind of ironic, you know what I mean?

“George, stop the fucking truck!”

Sarah yanked on the wheel before George or I could stop her.

(read the rest of the story here)