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 – Jessie

Good morning, Internets! How’s the weather where you are? Here it’s cloudy and cold, on this 2nd day of June, which puts me in the perfect mood for a zombie story.

This week’s Free Fiction Thursday story is JESSIE. Fellow OWNers, you might recognize the setting for this one. *g*

 

Jessie

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

http://www.annie-reed.com

Cover art copyright 2008 by Ivan Bliznetsov at iStockphoto.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?”

“A wave could come in and knock you off and drop the log on top of you, and no one would come to help you get it off.”

She shrugged.  “So?”

Tommy didn’t have an answer for that, so he shrugged back.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

Tommy told her, and she told him her name was Jessie.  Tommy didn’t ask her how old she was, and she didn’t ask him.  Nobody really cared about that stuff anymore.  Grownups were the only people who wanted to know, and Leon had been the last grownup Tommy had been around who wasn’t sick.  The ones who were sick didn’t care about anything other than eating you.

“Do you know how to fish?” she asked.

Tommy shook his head.  His grandpa had talked about taking Tommy fishing someday, but he never had.  Tommy’s dad didn’t know how to fish.  All he knew was how to crunch numbers, whatever that meant.  One day he’d gone to work and hadn’t come home.  He was in the hospital, Tommy’s mom had said, and she left Tommy with their neighbor Leon.  Neither of his parents had ever come back home.  Leon told him once it was better that way.

Tommy hadn’t believed him until Leon had to kill his own girlfriend because she’d gotten sick and tried to hurt Tommy.  After that, Tommy figured it was better to remember his parents as his parents, not as creepy sick people who wouldn’t even know who he was anymore.

“I know how to fish,” Jessie said.  “Want me to teach you?”

Tommy shrugged again.  “Sure.”  He had nothing better to do.

Jessie had a fishing pole she said she found half-buried underneath one of the logs.  She stuck something slimy on the hook and showed him how to fling the hook with that slimy stuff out into the water.

He stood next to her and watched until one of the waves came up higher on the shore than the others.  She laughed at him when he backpedaled away from the water.

“Are you afraid of the ocean?” she asked.

“No.  I’m just not supposed to get my shoes wet.”

That had been one of Leon’s rules.  He’d seen a movie once, he said, where shoes were the next most important thing after food and water.  A person had to take care of their shoes if they wanted to survive.  According to Leon, wet shoes wore out faster.  Tommy didn’t know if that was true or not, but everything else Leon said was.

Well, almost everything.

(read the rest of the story here)