alfredoI just bought the limited edition (only 3,000 copies made) Blu Ray of Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, Sam Peckinpah’s strange, weird, and uncompromising masterpiece. Many revelations contained in the commentaries and documentaries provided as special features.

Warren Oates and Isela Vega apparently were nervous about the famous graveyard scene. So Warren bought some hallucinatory mushrooms, readily available in Mexico at that time, and they both ate some. When time came to shoot the scene they were both stoned out of their minds. Just one of many outrageous stories told about filming that movie.

Wild character Peckinpah. Apparently most people who knew him hated his guts but loved him too at the same time.

Alfredo Garcia is a metaphor for life itself. Its about what we all have to do to survive in this world. And it ain.t always pretty. There’s always some one at the top calling the shots. Benny, the main character, finds out who it is and goes after him.

EL Jefe, the man at the top, played by Emilio Fernandez, was the model I used for Don Sized CoverPedro Sanchez in Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto. No reviewer yet has seen how closely the opening scene of the book mirrors the opening of Alfredo Garcia. There are many other references to Peckinpah’s work in Rio Muerto.

Maybe you should go buy a copy from Amazon. Kindle or Paperback.

 

recon

I received the good news a few minutes ago that my story, “Wolf Water” has been accepted by Emby Press editor Miles Booth for the RECONSTRUCTING THE MONSTER anthology. There’s the cover on the left.

This antho was built around the idea of writers submitting new stories featuring the characters of classic horror films. Mine was inspired by The Wolf Man (1941). It’s an updated tale set during the war in Afghanistan.

I can’t wait for this to come out, It’s not only unusual, but I hope will leave you with feelings you never thought you’d get from this kind of story.

The lineup of writers in this collection is impressive with folks like Darin Kennedy, Larry Underwood, James Newman, Jamie Lackey, Tim Prasil, Kevin Wetmore, and others. Most of the major monsters from classic Hollywood films are represented in the anthology including, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, The Blob, Gidorah, the three headed monster, the Gorgon and others. The only one I don’t see listed is the Creature from the Black Lagoon. I hope they’ll be a Vol. 2, I’ve got a great idea for that one.

It’s also worth noting that this collection is being co-edited by Miles Boothe and Brian P. Easton, author of the best-selling novel, Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter. This is one to watch for.

 

amazonAmazon announced big news Friday, July 18. For readers its definitely great news. For authors like me it’s a case of good news,and the potential for really bad news. I’m hoping in the long run the good out weighs the bad.

Amazon has introduced Kindle Unlimited, a new program that lets readers who join pay $9.99 a month to have unlimited access to some 600,000 ebooks. The good news for readers is the low cost they will pay to read all the books their beady little eyeballs can handle. The good news for authors like me is the increased exposure the program will provide. Nothing like having Flying W Press’s Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto in a program that includes Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

Also on the plus side is the encouragement Kindle Unlimited will give potential e-book Seige at Rio Muerto ebookpurchasers to take a book like mine out for a spin. Acquiring readers is the hardest task for independent and self-published authors like myself. so any idea that puts my book out there in the public eye is a good thing.

But there is one little catch that could be the fly in the ointment. According to Amazon, authors, whose books are picked up this way, will receive a royalty from a special fund created for Kindle Unlimited. How much of a royalty depends on a number of books ordered overall. But in order for authors to be paid, the reader must read 10 percent of the book. They can’t just order it and let is sit their in their Kindle. Amazon is watching. And there’s the rub. How many of us have ordered ebooks and just let them sit there in their Kindle without ever reading them?

If that happens under Kindle Unlimited, not only would an author lose the royalty from the sale of the ebook, he may never collect a cent from unread books lingering in Kindle “unlimited”  limbo.

On one hand I feel positive about the chance for increased exposure to potentially an “unlimited” audience. But I’m concerned about the chances of losing sales because of this 10 percent rule. I’m also bothered by the fact that Amazon didn’t ask my opinion about including my book in Kindle Unlimited. They just went and did it. Me and the authors of 600,000 other books are in it whether we like it or not.

Interesting they announced this on a Friday, the end of the news cycle. With other disasters dominating the headlines, this isn’t getting much attention. Smart move or coincidence?

It’s too early to really start complaining. This could be a real boon to new authors who are trying to attract readers. That’s how Amazon is describing it, anyway. But I would make two recommendations in case anyone’s listening.  If you as a reader intend to pick up my book under Kindle Unlimited, please read it. At least past the 10 percent mark. My other suggestion to Amazon is to drop the 10 percent rule entirely. What difference does it make to Amazon how much someone reads the book? What’s the point, anyway?

Those are my thoughts on this incredibly big development in the ebook publishing world. I’ll reserve final judgment until I see the results. Meantime, I’ve got another idea. Skip the Kindle and get the paperback. Over and out.

 

 

april-cover-400x533-e1405090134700

Amazing Stories’ special 88th Anniversary issue, containing my story, “Where the Space Pirates Are,” is now available free to Amazing Stories Subscribers.

The issue has new and reprinted fiction, articles and interviews from some of today’s top talents, including Douglas Smith, Michael Sullivan, Jack Clemons, Felicity Savage and many others. Amazing Stories publisher Steve Davidson says “this issue marks a major milestone in Amazing Stories’ return to regular publication.”

It’s available in Epub, Mobi, and PDF. If you are a subscriber to AS you’re entitled to a complimentary copy of the issue before it goes on sale.

My contribution is one of the series of stories I wrote for Raygun Revival, featuring futuristic trouble shooter Frank Carson, and it’s one that combines action with a bit of comedy, something unusual for me, at least in the fiction I write.

So click on over to Amazing Stories and get your free issue. 

 

 

I still have a working laser disc player. I’m surprised how many people have never heard of laser discs. In the 80s and early 90s it was state-of-the-art technology. There was a kind of a cult of laser disc enthusiasts who bought laser disc players and set up home theaters at a time when home theater was not the common place thing it is today.

The players were not too expensive, around $300-to $500 for an average player, maybe up to $1,000 higher end models. I bought a used Pioneer  CLD S 201 for a couple hundred at a local hi-fi store (remember them?). It needed some work which the store did for free and it’s worked perfectly ever since.

laser discThe laser discs themselves were 12 inches in diameter, same as a vinyl LP, and like LPs they were analog not digital. Some came with digital sound, but the video was all what they call “interlaced,”  rather than progressive. Also the video information was not “anamorphic,” which means that when you play it on the new digital widescreens it has lots of black space all around it. To fill the screen you have to use the Zoom feature on the TV.

One bad effect of zooming is magnification of the flaws in the picture. However, there are enough ways to offset the defects by adjusting noise reduction, contrast, brightness, and all the other adjustment options that are available on today’s television. As a result you can get a pretty decent picture out of a laser disc. Not as good as Blu-Ray, I grant you, but pretty damn good.

Laser discs were considered a high-end product, and were produced by Sony, Image, MGM, 20th Century Fox. Most titles went for around $35-$40. But the thing with LDs was that they catered to the movie laserdiskconoisseur who didn’t mind paying a higher price for premium movie fare. I can remember shelling out around $90 for Vertigo.  A special box set of the original Flash Gordon serial went for about the same amount.

Among the discs in my collection, and regrettably I don’t have that many, maybe around 30 or so, is the laser disc version of the original, unenhanced version of The Empire Strikes Back. It’s got very good sound quality. That was one of the things about LDs that made them cool. The soundtracks on some were and still are better than some Blu Rays today. You have to hear it to believe it.

There’s also something about the Laser Disc picture quality that actually seem more like film. Sure, up close you can see the roughness in the texture, but that’s the way film looks when its projected on a big screen too. When you’re sitting back in your chair at viewing distance, the picture actually feels more like a theater viewing experience.

My_name_is_nobodyI just watched my LD copy of “My Name is Nobody,” the Italian western with Henry Fonda that most people think Sergio Leone actually directed, instead of ToninoValerii, the director who was given credit. It was about a gunfighter trying to retire and a fan who wanted him to make one last play and find his place in history. It’s a good film and thoroughly enjoyable on Laser Disc. Like aging gunfighters, Laser Discs were made obsolete by history, but they’ve still got a few good plays left in them. At least until parts are no longer available.

 

 

[The Great American Fourth of July is once again upon us. I have noticed in the last week quite a few people are digging into the archives to view this post that I wrote two years ago as a tribute to both the 4th and to the late great humorist Jean Shepherd. So rather than leave it buried among the 100 plus items in this blog, why not bring it right out front. Meanwhile, don't forget, the holiday weekend would be a great time to catch up on your monster hunter reading. Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto is available in Kindle and paperback. Have a great holiday!]

 

Hey, Gang, How’s it hanging? The Fourth of July, the day we celebrate our Independence in the U.S., is here once again.  Amidst the continuing threat of terrorism, war in Afghanistan,  some of the worst hot weather we’ve had in recent years, wildfires out west, a society fragmented by political differences, and a struggling economy, we’re still hanging in there.

For me part of the Fourth of July tradition includes family gatherings, patriotic movies on Turner Classic Movies, a barbecue, some time at the local swimming pool, fireworks of course, and a reading from Jean Shepherd’s classic book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. Some of you may know who Jean Shepherd is, others may not. Most people familiar with the name know him from the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story, which is based on Shepherd’s book. This is the movie about Ralphie (who is really Shepherd as a kid), growing up in Indiana, and wanting more than anything in the world a Red Ryder BB gun. The movie is shown in a 24-hour marathon every Christmas on one of the Turner Cable Channels. It’s Shepherd’s voice you hear narrating the story.

The real insiders know Shepherd from the nightly radio show he had from the late fifties to the mid-seventies on WOR radio in New York. Every night he would come on the air, alone and unscripted and talk. It wasn’t like talk radio today, though. He didn’t take phone calls. And he didn’t have a political ax to grind. He just sat alone and told stories. When he wasn’t telling stories, he did social commentary, or read haiku to “cheap guitar music.” Some of the stories he told ended up later as short stories in Playboy magazine and became the basis for the novel and two films: A Christmas Story, and My Summer Story. 

Among the many tales Shepherd told of growing up in the Midwest, one about an historic incident that took place in his neighborhood on the Fourth of July is one of my favorites. Ludlow Kissel and the Dago Bomb That Struck Back, describes one hot Independence Day when the town drunk (the term alcoholic wasn’t widely used back in the 1930s) showed up in the middle of his street carrying a lethal looking firecracker that in those days was known as the Dago Bomb. This was not an anti-Italian appellation, Shepherd explains, but was actually pro-Italian, the ne plus ultra of fireworks. In more effete circles is was known as an aerial bomb. It was big and looked like one of those non-existent firecrackers that show up in cartoons. It had a warnings on it, that indicated it should only be used by professionals.

So this one Fourth of July Ludlow Kissel appeared on the heat-shimmering horizon, “weaving spectacularly, and carrying a large paper bag as carefully as a totally committed drunk can. He was about to celebrate the founding of our nation, the nation which had provided such a bounteous life for him and his.” No one paid much attention as he inched his way from lamppost to lamppost and fire plug to fire plug and went into his house. He came out minutes later with the largest Dago Bomb anyone had ever seen. It was the first all-black Dago Heister anyone had ever laid eyes on and was suspected of actually being made in China!  Later some witnesses would argue that it wasn’t a firecracker at all, but was some sort of mortar shell.

Kissel staggered out to the middle of the street, set the firecracker on the ground and tried to light it. Neighbors peered nervously through windows, others came out on their front lawns. Several attempt to light the fuse with a match failed and a kid came up to Kissel with a lit punk and handed it to him. A crowd gathered. He lit the fuse, the crowd drew back. The fuse sputtered out and Ludlow lit it again but being too soused to know what he’s doing, he just stood there. “Hey Kissel, for god’s sake! It’s lit,” somebody yelled. “What’s lit?” Kissel said. He staggered around and knocked the Dago Bomb over and it went off.

Do I have to tell you what happened next? The expelled cartridge shot through the crowd, which ran for cover, and landed under Kissel’s front porch. It blew the porch off, then skittered next door, took down a neighbor’s rose trellis and ended up finally exploding under another neighbor’s car. Total devastation!

When it was over Kissel was still there in the middle of the street, on his knees and made his statement, which is even today part of the great legend. “My God! What a doozy!”

That was Jean Shepherd’s America. A different America in many ways from ours to be sure, but in some ways maybe not that different. We still watch fireworks, have barbecues, eat too much, and drink too much on the Fourth. We still have that urge to light that fuse and see the ultimate firework display of all time. Shepherd died in 1999 and I often wonder what he would say about our world today if he was still sitting behind the mic in a radio studio. He always knew that life was insane and that civilizations come and go, and most of us will be unremembered after we pass on. Probably he’d advise us to keep our sense of humor about it, and remind us,  as he always did to: “Keep your knees loose, and your duff close to the ground!”

I hope your Fourth is a doozy.

I watched last night’s episodes of Under the Dome and Longmire, and have to say my hopes that the shows were going to bring something new to television, namely quality writing, were sadly disappointed.

What in the world was Stephen King thinking when he penned the premiere episode of the second season of Dome? I’ll credit him with writing probably the best episode the series will ever have in terms of increasing domethe dramatic pace and action of what have been rather slow, and frankly boring episodes of the first season. But the idea of making the Dome itself a character who does things was ludicrous. The Dome suddenly becomes magnetized and most of the action consisted of characters running and ducking flying furniture. and SUVs.

Spoiler Alert

We were told in advance publicity that some first season characters would be killed off. And King lived up to that promise. Only thing is, he killed off the wrong characters! I can’t remember any of their names, they’re pretty non-descript, but most of the ones killed seemed to be women. And not only that they were among the few likable persons in Chesters Mills.

The police woman, who represented sanity as well as law and order, the young girl that the mayor’s nutso son chained up in a bunker, and a few others all bit the dust. While the cheesy,lying, two-faced mayor and his demented son continue on. I suppose you can’t get rid of villains until the end, if they indeed are villains. I tend to think now, with so many hints given that something else other than what’s on the surface is actually gone on, we may discover someone or something else is the heavy. Maybe they’ll let the Dome off the hook.

King planted a few hints, at the beginning when the mayor;s hitherto unknown brother taps a light bulb that triggers the Dome into some kind of fit. And at the end we see the mayor’s wife in another town in a studio putting up a painting of a mysterious doorway. Is it a doorway to another dimension where all this is taking place. Who knows? I got a feeling we’ll watch another whole season and still not get the answer.

Longmire

As for Longmire, it fulfilled every expectation that it was just another cop show featuring psycho cops, and psycho killers. The only difference between Longmire and every other cop show is that it’s a western. At longmire_081212_652_gallery_primaryleast it looks like one, because Longmire wears a cowboy hat, and there are some Indians in the story. Everyone acts real serious and the mood is heavy, but it’s a pretension that something important is going on or is about to happen. But its just another show that stays at surface level, dwelling more on the seamy aspects of the crimes without much attention to the inner lives of the characters. I mean there is backstory, and suffering, but its at that trivial level that most TV series stay hung up on.

I guess another basic problem with these continuing story series is that the writers know they’ve got to stretch the story out for a season, so a lot of the episodes have long, time-filling scenes that could be cut or discarded completely. At least King kept the action going in this one, but I’m sure starting next week, while he’s off cashing his check, we’ll see characters talking the paint off the scenery instead of doing anything. Maybe Longmire’s writers could pick up the pace, if they gave him a horse to ride.

Interesting thing was the appearance of Peter Weller, who also directed last nights ep of Longmire..

So that’s my take on last night’s TV shows. It was more interesting than usual, but like the man at the shooting gallery says: “Close, but no cigar!” Feel free to agree or disagree.

 

Tonight CBS will air the premiere episode of the second season of Under the Dome. This wouldn’t be big news if it wasn’t the first episode written by horror master Stephen King the man who wrote the book the series is domebased on. I haven’t read Dome, but I am a big fan of King’s writing for the most part. Oddly enough other writers wrote the first season episodes. King chose to stay out of it, but maybe since it attracted so many viewers, becoming CBS’s  number one hit show, he has decided to get involved and penned an original script for the series.

Reviewers say that the series has strayed far from the basic ideas of King’s novel, and maybe he’s trying to steer it back on track. It wouldn’t hurt. I tried to stick with the show during the first half dozen episodes, but as with most TV series the multiple subplots with all the different characters I thought diluted the tension and horror of the main idea, which is: what’s that big transparent dome doing here and where did it come from? With subplots involving the mayor’s idiot cop-son who kidnaps his girlfriend and chains her in some kind of underground bunker, a boy-model hit man who falls in love with a half-baked female reporter, a radio station with some kookie people working at it, a mysterious stockpile of propane tanks and what all, the show seemed to be spinning out of control. I just lost interest and quit watching.

Putting together a television series with multiple characters and their various problems is now the norm. The single, stand-alone story with a beginning middle and end all in 60 minutes (less with commercials) is a thing of the past. Recently Beat to a Pulp editor David Cranmer under the name Edward A Grainger, has been reviewing weekly episodes of another popular series, Longmire, which airs on A&E. He’s a big fan of the show, and thinks its one of the best things on TV these days. But in his latest review even he seemed to find some fault with the multiple plot ideas contained in the episode. There was just too much going on. “So many storylines, so little time,” he wrote.

longmire_081212_652_gallery_primaryI posted a comment on his review in which I wondered if the format of modern TV drama, which is basically the format created by daytime soap opera, was a symptom of the Attention Deficit Disorder age we’re living in. I’m talking about format, not content. Daytime soap content is very different from that of prime time series, but the multiple character/plot concept is the same. I noted that with most of us addicted to our cell phones, constantly hopping around between Facebook, Twitter, blogging and gaming, maybe we as individuals just cannot sit still for a full 60 minutes (less for commercials) to watch a single story line, based on a single thought, developed and explored with some depth and insight. As I said in my comment to Cranmer’s post, that kind of in-depth drama was once watched by millions together all at the same time, when there was no DVR or Netflix. Dramas like Route 66 and Naked City, written by Stirling Silliphant, Howard Rodman, and many others managed to keep us entranced on a weekly basis, with deeply moving explorations of the human condition. Before that Rod Serling wrote meaningful 90 minute live dramas that explored the themes of betrayal, selling out, and how human beings should treat each other.

What we get now is just the opposite. Today’s TV dramas go only surface deep, and deal with characters like serial killers, rapists, mass murderers, and other sundry psychos and the obsessed cops who are after them. They’re full of cynicism and despair. I don’t expect things will change soon. Nevertheless, on Cranmer’s say-so, I’ll  record Longmire tonight, while watching Under The Dome. Maybe Stephen King and a crusty Wyoming sheriff, who doesn’t like cell phones, can make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

SummerZombie Shirt FrontIn his long career as a monster hunter in the Old West, Mordecai Slate hunted down monsters of just about every stripe, including zombies. The Living Dead have always been one of the most challenging of prey. As we all know, it ain’t easy killing something that’s already dead. Which is one reason why they brought a pretty fair bounty back in the era that Slate lived in.

But it seems as many as you kill, more of them just keep popping up. There’s been evidence of that during this month-long Summer of Zombie 2014 Blog Tour. Judging from the number of books written about zombies, the supply of walking dead is seemingly endless. And that’s a good thing for fans of Z-lit.

10403409_10204114432081167_310592458127484597_nThe man behind the blog tour for the third straight year is writer/editor/publisher Armand Rosamilia. This year the tour is bigger than ever, and includes over 30 authors, representing the best in the field (and a bloody field it is), posting info about their works on over 90 host blogs all over the internet. Today it’s my turn to host.

It’s a special occasion because, as if the blog tour isn’t keeping Armand busy enough, he’s also releasing a new book this week. Dying Days 4 is the fourth volume in a series that is bound to become a modern horror classic. And I’m happy to say that it’s my privilege as today’s host to present a preview sample of the new work. Check it out. It’s pure Rosamilia. When you’re finished go buy it. Happy Monster Hunting.

 

Dying Days 4 Cover with Blurbs

Dying Days 4

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

There were two of the rotting fuckers, set on either side of abandoned cars with their backs to the dunes, waiting to ambush whoever came down the road. The only weapons they carried were their natural ones: teeth and fingers, but they were in the advanced stages and they wore clean clothes and the bloodstains had been washed away.

And they were whispering back and forth across the stretch of open road between them, joking and laughing like there was nothing wrong in the world. One of them, the larger of the two, was scratching something into the sand with a small stick. They looked bored.

Tosha Shorb noticed the chain running across the road between the cars. She’d been on this stretch of A1A for hours without a car coming by. What were they waiting for?

She heard the engine the same time her two new friends did. They gave a quick thumbs up before squatting behind the cars. Tosha got comfortable in the dunes with her Bushmaster M16 A2 Carbine and was about to take both zombies out when she saw movement in the dunes on the opposite side, closer to the beach. At least four zombies were getting into position and two of them carried rifles.

“Motherfuckers,” she growled quietly. Now they were arming themselves. This was getting worse and worse each day. She’d had to abandon the tour bus when zombies began setting up road blocks like this. And about half of them were banding with others to hunt the living while the other half wanted to destroy both the undead and those still breathing. And there weren’t many left still breathing.

Three vehicles were coming down the road: a custom van with a hole cut out of the roof to allow the two gunmen easy access, a pickup truck with a dozen armed people piled in the back, and a black SUV in the rear.

They were driving right into an ambush but Tosha moved her finger from the trigger. This wasn’t her fight. She wasn’t going to leave just yet, though. There might be food and supplies left over after the massacre. Luckily the zombies didn’t worry about eating (except breathing people) or drinking. They also never seemed to tire and never slept. She’d observed some becoming inactive, just leaning against a wall or even sitting and staring into space. But their eyes didn’t close. Ever.

And they were healing.  The gunshot wounds, severed limbs and stilted walk were going away, slowly but surely.

There were a half a dozen zombies creeping down the dunes, from her side, in anticipation of the ambush and she instinctively put her finger back on the trigger. But pulling the trigger would alert every zombie in the area to her presence, and she didn’t feel like dying today. Or any day soon.

The other unnerving thing with these zombies was the fact they could sense people. She remembered being in a McDonald’s storage room and two of them coming in, talking about her smell and trying to find her. They had but she had put a metal bar between both their eyes and crushed their skulls in for good measure. What was most disturbing were the smiles they wore as they attacked. They were showing emotions… except for pain. Tosha remembered the confusion on their faces as they were being killed yet again. As if they believed in their immortality.

There were too many of them in the area and it didn’t matter how armed these people were because they’d be ambushed any second.

“It’s not your fight,” Tosha whispered to herself, but she kept her finger on the trigger and looked through the scope at each zombie as it got into position.

Her red hair was tied back and she’d tossed off her shoes a few miles ago because they were ripped and it hurt worse than bare feet to walk in them. Her jeans were ripped in several places (luckily not in the crotch since she’d stopped wearing undies a few days ago) and so was her shirt. Her pale skin was burnt and she’d give anything for some makeup, a pair of sunglasses and a cold beer right now.

Maybe these people had clothing. A pair of shades. A pair of thongs for her ass, which was getting rubbed raw by the jeans right now. Not your fight, she thought once again. Just fade away and go find a spot to sleep tonight.

The convoy was getting closer to the chain and the car pileup and they were slowing down. She heard someone in the SUV yelling something and the SUV stopped.

Tosha used the scope to look at the people in the SUV but she couldn’t get a good look at any of them. There were at least four occupants but they had the windows up.

As she watched, they began to back up, away from the cars in front of them, just as zombies swarmed over the dunes like ants.

Shots were fired on either side and a man pitched off the back of the pickup truck and hit the ground. Everyone else leapt out and tried to take cover on either side, but there was nothing to hide under or behind, and the zombies began firing at them like fish in a barrel, while at least a dozen zombies ran down the sand and jumped onto the pinned down living.

Tosha watched as the van tried to drive through the trap, but the chain was hit at about thirty miles per hour and slowed the van down, pulling the two cars on either side against it. The two original zombies scrambled onto the top of the van as it tried to back up, and both zombies fell into the open pit on the roof.

The SUV kept backing away without anyone stopping to help or fire a shot.

The living, from the pickup, put up a good fight, shooting at zombies and getting many headshots. The driver of the pickup managed to turn it around, doing a U turn on the soft shoulder of the road and running down two zombies.

Just when it looked like they’d escape, a zombie shot the front tires and they both deflated, forcing the driver to overcorrect and end up smashing into a dune on the side of the road.

Zombies shooting guns, Tosha thought. What is this dead world coming to now?

She was once again reminded of ants because so many zombies appeared from over the dunes and she shuddered when she realized at least twenty had been hiding, buried in the sand on either side of the road, and now popped up, swiped sand from their bodies, and joined the attack.

The people in the pickup truck didn’t stand a chance. Another three shots were fired before the zombies dragged everyone out of the truck and rounded up the survivors in the road, ripping them apart and stripping them of their flesh.

Tosha turned away when she saw bloated sexual organs. These motherfuckers were sick. She wished she had a bazooka to blow up the entire lot of them in one fell swoop.

The ocean was rough today despite it being so warm and not many clouds in the sky. She’d been working on her tan for too long and now she was burnt. She wondered if she’d ever just tan without it feeling like she was on fire.

This beats the snow of Pennsylvania, she thought. She had no idea what month it was and Tosha had lost track of time since running from her home. All she knew was it was warmer here but filled with zombies, all seeming to march to the sea for whatever reason.

If she could figure out what time of year it was, she could maybe head back north and arrive during the summer so it wouldn’t be too bad. But she doubted a thousand mile trip back, after all the shit she’d had to endure getting to Florida, was in her future.

A stray zombie appeared in the surf, one of the mindless ones. Tosha didn’t remember the last time she’d seen a ‘newer’ zombie. As they’d matured and became cognizant, the zombies had taken to killing not only the living but the newer zombies as well.

The horde of zombies on A1A was a rarity, and for that she was relieved. If they decided to stop killing one another and march across the country, the living would be killed quickly.

A zombie appeared from the dunes not too far from where she was hiding and jogged down the beach, angling toward the new zombie.

Seeing it run was jarring, as was the fact the zombie wasn’t bloody, with gaping gunshot wounds and stringy hair or a missing jaw. It looked like a normal living and breathing person, jogging happily down the beach. Except… it wasn’t breathing, and the zombies had an odd malevolent look in their gray eyes, another way to see they were really undead.

But, from a distance, with zombies walking and talking like normal people, wearing nice clothes, driving cars and using weapons, opening doors and waving at you like they were friends, the danger was worse than ever. Even with so many older zombies eliminating the newer members of their sick society, it was worse.

The zombie walked right up to the one coming out of the surf. Newer zombies couldn’t sense anything but living, breathing people, and it did what they always do: walked right past the older zombie, who stepped behind and grabbed it by the neck.

Tosha didn’t want to see another massacre and had nowhere to turn her head without seeing death and decay.

She closed her eyes.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

“I can smell the three of you up there… wait, is there a fourth? A baby, perhaps?”

Darlene put her hands on her full belly and sighed. She could barely move on the bed and no matter what she did she couldn’t get into a comfortable position. It had been like this for weeks.

Murph, looking so frail sitting in the corner chair, wheezed as he slept fitfully, his head lolling back against the wall. In the weeks since their escape from the stilt houses, they’d found little shelter or food. Circling through the Palm Coast area had been a nightmare as more and more of the zombies began to talk and do things a living person would do. It would be harder and harder to know the difference between the zombies and the living soon enough.

“There’s only one of them,” John Murphy said, glancing out the window. “He’s standing on the porch.”

They were holed up in the upstairs apartment above Kokomo’s Café in Flagler Beach, where (in better times long past) the spectacular view would allow one to see the ocean a block away and the tourists and locals in Veteran’s Park, and enjoy the smell of good coffee from below.

Now the only smell was death and smoke. The view was burnt buildings and Rorschach blood spatters on every surface.

“Maybe he’ll go away,” Darlene said unconvincingly. It was only a matter of time before they were rooted out of another hiding place. It kept happening over and over, the baby like a beacon to these monsters.

John looked back and gave her a faint smile. “We can’t keep doing this.” He glanced at his father on the chair and back to Darlene. “Neither of you can be moved. It was a bitch getting you up the stairs.”

“Little pigs, little pigs, let me in,” the zombie called from below. He started laughing at his own joke. “Toss down the baby and let me play with it. Is it a boy or a girl? Does it look like its mommy or daddy? Does it have my eyes?”

John went to the bed and kissed Darlene on the cheek. “Do we have anything I can kill it with?”

She shook her head. “I’m out of ammo for the Desert Eagle and for the shotgun.”

“I’m out of arrows and bolts and haven’t found anything to fashion new ones with. I need something… damn,” John said and pointed at his sleeping dad. “A leg of the chair would do just fine.”

“Don’t wake Murph. You know how pissed he gets,” Darlene said. “And I don’t want you going down there.”

“I have to. All this yelling will only bring more of them. And they aren’t mindless anymore. This one will be expecting us. Remember the attack at Matanzas High School? They let me waste all my arrows and bolts and I only hit half the time. They aren’t so easy to kill.”

“Seriously, are you coming down to let me in or not? This is just plain rude. Are you Yankees? Huh? Whatever happened to Southern hospitality? I demand some respect as well as a sweet tea and a slice of key lime pie,” the zombie said and laughed loudly at his jokes.

“I’m going to kill him,” John said and shook his dad, sleeping on the chair.

The old man, despite his advanced age, came up swinging and John had to hold him down and tell him he wasn’t being attacked.

When Murph finally relaxed, he winked at Darlene and tipped his dirty baseball cap. “I still got some fight in these fists yet. That’ll be the last warning you get, John John. Next time I break your dang nose.”

“I need the chair,” John said.

“You can’t have it.”

“I need it.”

“For what?” Murph asked.

“I’m going to break a leg off and kill a zombie with it.”

Murph stood slowly and stretched. “I guess it’s as good an excuse as any. But now you owe me a seat. And I’ll bother you until I get one. Understood?”

“Yes, Dad,” John said and winked at Darlene. He picked up the chair and smashed it against the floor, pulling a jagged chair leg off of it. “I wonder if they still need to be killed by smashing in or jabbing into their heads.”

“I wouldn’t take the chance,” Darlene said. “They’re regenerating. Even the ones we thought had obvious head trauma were healing. If we had the time and resources, I’d say we burn all of them. But we don’t have the option.”

John hefted the wood in his hand. “I know what the option is right now. I’ll be back.” He started to walk to the door but stopped and broke another two legs off the chair, handing one to Murph and one to Darlene without a word.

He opened the door a crack, expecting the zombie to attempt to push through, but the stairs down were empty. The door on the bottom was still intact, as well.

“Good luck and be safe,” Darlene whispered.

He couldn’t look back at her. He needed to focus. John put a foot down on the first step and heard it creak like a gunshot. He tried to balance his weight as he put his left foot down but the next step did the same. These wooden steps had taken a beating in this Florida weather over the years, and without air conditioning or a heater to regulate the temperature, the wood was warping at an alarming rate.

Even without the threat of zombies, the building would eventually collapse in on itself and be too dangerous for them to stay. John wondered what he was going to do with Murph and Darlene if they had to flee again. He didn’t think they could at this point.

He creaked down to the door, knowing the zombie knew he was coming. He decided to get this over with, unlocking the door and kicking it open. John led with the jagged piece of wood, shielding his eyes from the sun.

The zombie wasn’t standing on the deck anymore and the door to Kokomo’s Café was wide open. John knew it hadn’t been more than a few minutes ago when he looked out the window.

John looked around to make sure the zombie wasn’t faking him out and hiding around the corner or crouching next to the deck.

“I’m in here,” he heard the zombie say from inside the former café.

John could do nothing but walk to the door and look inside. The zombie was sitting on a chair next to the counter, right hand playing with shards of glass from the broken pastry cooler.

“When’s the last time you had a good meal, buddy?”

John stiffened when the zombie turned to him and smiled, his steely eyes locked on John’s. He lifted the chair leg in front of his chest.

The zombie laughed. “What’s your name?”

“Huh?”

The zombie plucked a large shard of glass from the cooler. “My name is Earl.”

“Uh, I’m John.”

The zombie laughed. “I’m just kidding. Don’t you remember the show? I love saying that, right before I kill someone and strip their flesh from their bones while they scream. Such a sweet sound.”

John moved three paces closer. “Get up so I can prove you wrong.”

“Mark is my real name. I was born in Maine.”

John hesitated. “Maine? Where?”

“Swanville. Ever heard of it? Maybe someday I’ll go back, but I am so enjoying the warmer weather.”

John had no idea where Swanville was in Maine and if it was a real place or a nickname for something else, but he’d heard Darlene talk about Dexter and maybe Bangor. “Why are all of you zombies coming south?”

Mark shrugged and continued to play with the glass shard. “I can’t really say. It’s like I was being compelled to come south. I can’t say because I don’t remember anything about walking to Florida. One minute I was driving to the hardware store and then stopped at a red light. A car plowed into my rear end and when I got out I remember a mob surrounding me. The next thing I remember was the sun on my face. And being really, really hungry.”

Despite the danger, John was fascinated. He’d been killing them for so long and this was the first real encounter with a zombie without just a fight. “Can you stop yourself from biting and raping people? Do you know right from wrong?”

Mark smiled. “Your right and wrong is vastly different from mine now. I see it. Once I kill you and you rise, you’ll see it as well. I’ve decided to create as many superior beings as I can. You call us zombies, but a zombie is a mindless creature. I’m obviously so much more.”

“What happened? Are you changing, morphing back to human and alive? Will you start breathing again?” John asked.

Mark shrugged again. “Every day brings me something new and exciting. I can literally sit here and hear the heartbeat of the baby in her womb upstairs. It sounds like magic to me. I’m drawn to him for some reason. I think many of us are.” He grinned. “Mama is a special breed as well, as I’m sure you know. There’s something… different about her. Wait until this kid is born. We can all feel it. If I had a breath to hold I would, because he’ll be the death of us. I’m not joking. The pull is so strong, like the pull for all of us to head to southern States. I think eventually we’ll all be focused on the baby. I’d like to be the one to rip him apart and drink his blood, because then I’ll be the most powerful of us.”

“I’m going to stop you from getting to my son.”

Mark stood and dramatically stretched, cracking his fingers one at a time as he stared at John. “You can’t stop me, and you can’t stop us. We are the New World Order. We are the new Caretakers and the Homo Superior. We are the future.”

“You don’t have much of a future,” John said and gripped the piece of wood. He was wondering if the zombie was going to rush him or if he’d be able to get the jump on the zombie.

“Can we just agree to disagree?”

John was done talking and moved against the zombie, who took a step back and swung the chair he was sitting on in front of him.

“It’s not going to be easy to kill us anymore,” Mark said. “If this were Vegas, I’d think even odds, although you had better really kill me for good this time. Because, if even a part of me is still alive, I will heal and come back to haunt you. And eat your baby.”

“Then I’ll make sure I burn you,” John said and rushed the zombie, stepping onto the chair and swinging the wood at his head. The move caught Mark off-guard and he tried to duck out of the way. The wood jabbed into the side of his face, ripping through his right eye and shoving out behind the ear, catching in the zombie’s head.

The two stumbled back and slammed into the dusty soda case, glass shards flying. They went down onto the wooden floor and John scrambled to stay on top of the zombie and away from his teeth.

“You missed the brain but I have to be honest… this shit hurts,” Mark said and tried to pull the wood out. John gripped the chair leg and twisted it, trying to pierce the brain, but it was too far out of the head to have any effect other than squirting dark blood onto the floor.

Mark the zombie did John a favor by pushing his hand away and yanking the splintered piece of wood halfway out. John stamped his palm onto the wood and turned it with his other hand, jabbing it into the center of the zombie’s head.

John was nose to nose with the zombie and was about to vomit with the sour breath of the undead man when he saw his gray eyes go from anger to confusion and then… nothing.

The zombie stopped struggling underneath John, all un-life snuffed out.

John found the biggest piece of glass he could and began the horrible but needed job of severing the head from the zombie’s neck, vomiting twice as he worked.

He’d never get used to this.

John wiped as much of the blood off the chair leg on the zombie’s shirt as he could. He’d need every weapon he could find and wouldn’t leave it.

As he stepped back out onto the front porch and into the brutal sunshine, he stopped and shielded his eyes from the sun.

There were three zombies standing on the street smiling at him.

John slid to his right without losing eye contact and went back up the stairs, closing the door when he hit the steps.

 

To get your hands on the rest of “Dying Days 4″ go to: http://dyingdayszombie.com/2014/06/21/dying-days-4-released-dyingdays-zombies/

 

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

https://www.facebook.com/events/286215754875261/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular&source=1

AND so you don’t miss any of the posts in June, here’s the complete list, updated daily:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/06/01/summer-of-zombie-blog-tour-2014-post-links/

 

 

 

I meant to post something about this a while ago. As everyone in America who’s read Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto knows by now, Monster Hunter Mordecai Slate hunts his monsters with a Colt 1855 Revolver Rifle. A rifle that has a revolving cylinder, like a six gun.

A lot of people have asked me if I just made the gun up so Slate would have a nifty weapon to use, something to set him off from  all the other monster hunters. The answer is no I didn’t make up the basic gun, but I did add some modifications to it to make it niftier.C186Colt1855RevolvingRifle_Web_(1)

This real 1855 had a six-round cylinder, like Colt’s .45 six gun, but, unlike the pistol, did not fire .45 caliber bullets. Instead it used paper cartridges, which, unfortunately had the discouraging feature of leaking powder. The paper would tear, gunpowder would leak, and the result would be a phenomenon known as “chain fire.” Namely, one of the cartridges would go off, and set off the other five rounds, serially or all together, depending how much powder had leaked. It was not an ideal situation.

The chain fire problem is probably the reason most people never heard of the gun. It was soon replaced by the more popular Winchester and Springfield rifles, which had no similar problems.

Slate came across the weapon as a young man during the Civil War. He liked the rapid fire capabilities of the cylinder and modified his by adding a larger cylinder that held 12 rounds instead of six. The most important change, of course, is that instead of paper cartridges it fires .45 caliber silver bullets that he and his uncle made, using scrap silver from a played out mine on his uncle’s ranch. Of course, the bullets are hand-rubbed with garlic.

But today I watched a show on the History Channel about werewolves that ran tests on rifles that fired both lead bullets and bullets made of silver. They concluded from the tests, that silver is a lousy metal for making bullets. The bullets come out too hard and as a result the rifling inside the barrel does not give the bullet a good spin. The shots are inaccurate! What a bummer.

So I guess maybe, that’s why Slate decided on the 12-round cylinder. The gun may not be all that accurate, but keep firing it and you’re bound to hit something!!!

Although the Colt 1855 seems to be a somewhat obscure weapon, you see it show up in western movies from time to time. In fact, it was my son J. Michael who pointed out to me that the rifle that Jamie Fox picks Sized Coverup at the end of Django Unchained, after he talks his way out of the cage transporting him to the mining company, is in fact a Colt 1855. It isn’t given much attention and you have to look close, but that’s the gun that Django’s holding as he rides back to Candieland to rescue the fair Broomhilda. Boy, what a great move that is.

And now, as a matter of fact, Taurus Guns now manufactures a revolver rifle called The Circuit Judge. And guess what, like Slate’s gun, it fires .45s! Life and art imitating each other, or something.

Anyway, that’s the latest from here. Hope you’ve been checking out all the  Summer Zombie Tours posts. And don’t forget to get your copy of Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto, Kindle or paperback. You can only get it here.

 

 

 

 

 

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