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Monday, May 31, 2010

The Harvest: Chapter Fourteen

They followed the spider-like creatures in all their various sizes and appearances as they skittered down the corridor. Some of them ran along the wall and ceiling while others just ran atop one another. Len couldn’t help but think of a New York subway being overrun by roaches and rodents alike, scurrying from onrushing water.

After a few minutes the creatures began to disperse down several other chambers that the corridor spilled out into. Not knowing if it mattered much, they turned down the closest one and continued to follow the little things–and some bigger ones. Len lifted his head and saw what was following behind them, groaned and put his head back down. There were as many behind them now as there were ahead of them. The faster ones caught up, and simply sped past, ignoring them completely. The corridor then spilled out into a large open room with walls that looked like honeycombs, but the honeycombs were filled with what could only be escape pods. The creatures skittered up the walls and entered the pods. Once full the doors would close, another door would come down and then a bursting noise could be heard as the pods were jettisoned.

Amid the creatures were other aliens that must have been captors as well, their lack of clothing a dead giveaway. Everyone was scrambling for an escaped pod, captor and escapee alike.

“We need to get inside of one of them immediately,” Vavoo said.
“What are we waiting for? Climb!”
So they did. S’tahgrah took Len from Dax and began scaling his way up the honeycomb-like structure. Vavoo was already ahead of them, and Dax was having difficulty moving vertically.
“Please don’t leave me behind, guys,” Dax verbalized his fears.
“You better hurry. I’m not dying for you,” the werewolf roared.
“Must you constantly put up such a front?” Vavoo called out.
“So long as you continue to play with fire,” he retorted.
“Just keep moving.”

The creatures skittered over them as if they were part of the wall itself. Dax swatted them away as best he could without compromising his climb. Vavvoo payed them no mind, focusing instead on her wound and her climb, which she was mostly doing with one arm, using her other for support when needed. S’tahgrah killed one of the creatures every time he moved up, either by crushing them in his hand or by stepping on them.

They finally made it to an open door and began piling in, violently removing the few creatures that had gotten in prior. S’tahgrah set down Len who was near comatose and pale from all the blood he was loosing. The pod was tight, almost too tight for them all, and once they helped hoist Dax in they were shoulder to shoulder and uncomfortably squished together. Another creature tried to skitter its way inside, but he burst into puss when Dax bit him in half.

“I really wish I hadn’t done that. They taste terrible. Not at all like humans,” Dax said.
“Whuh?” Len asked, only partially hearing the statement.
“Never mind, it was a joke,” Dax said, “I thought humans were jovial?”
The door closed.
“I don’t think so,” Vavoo added, “I think they whine and bleed all the time.”
They all laughed but Len, who whimpered and held his leg.
The exterior doors began to close, and the pod began to rev up.
“Hold on, this thing is about to go,” S’tahgrah said.
“There’s not enough room for us to move anywhere,” Dax said.

The pod exploded out of the craft. The pressure from the water was almost too much on the small pod and it began creaking immediately. It rushed forward, creating a blur of bubbles at its sides. A moment later it broke through the surface of the bright blue water and landed back in it. Dax figured out how to open the door, and they began to climb out. Dax stood on its surface, helping everyone up and out. Once they were all out they admired the alien landscape. The water was bluer than any found on earth. The sky was a hazy magenta, with clouds of yellow and white, like old torn cotton. There were hilltops of dark green, and brown, with gray and silvery cliffs. It was beautiful.

“Ah, I am home,” S’tahgrah roared triumphantly, smiling as he watched the creatures swim for the shoreline knowing what awaited them.

Tune in Next Week for The Harvest:Epilogue!
Be sure to leave comments and let me know what you think of the serial thus far, or not, because its pretty much over.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Seed

So, I thought it was pretty cool to see my short story "The Seed" have over a hundred downloads. I put it up for free just to see how many people would bother to download it an read it, and in a weeks time a hundred plus bothered. If you've read it, consider leaving me a review, or a rating. I'm in the process of polishing off a few more stories to put up at Smashwords, and at least another free one. If you're a writer or considering a kindle or e-reader check out the site to see whats out there…its interesting to say the least, and hopefully another tool to level the playing field with traditional publishing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Harvest: Chapter Thirteen

(apologies for the delay…I know you were all devastated…)

The craft fell through the atmosphere, picking up a deadly amount of momentum. Pieces of the hull began to melt away and disintegrate, sending portions of the craft scattering away from the center of its mass. The group was forced against the wall, their own bodies nearly compressing. The few creatures left of the command crew fought to keep the ship from crashing while their brethrens dead bodies joined the group of escapees against the wall.
Len fought for breath, feeling his ribs squeeze over his lungs. S’tahgrah still tried to move but soon found it useless. The others remained against the wall, pinned by the momentum. Dax still seemed to be enjoying himself, while Vavoo kept her eyes clothes and mouthed what could only be a prayer.

The alien crewmembers became immobilized. Their bodies pressed against consoles or remained strapped to their chairs. Some of them were pressed to the point of their pustules erupting--sending puss into the air.

“This is better than Grav-Jumping!” Dax exclaimed. His voice lost among the noise.

The ship crashed into an ocean, vaporizing tons of water as it broke through the surface. Giant waves of blue emanated from the crash. The ship hit bottom, digging itself in deep to the murky depths, but the ship couldn’t bare the strain of the impact and began cracking. Water began to find its way in immediately and once the ship’s momentum ceased the ship cracked almost in half and the back end began to tumble forward.

Upon impact, the ship initiated its safety mechanism (a gravity shift adjustment). The adjustment compensated for the impact so that ship occupants would be spared the full impact of the crash. Despite the adjustment the group in the command center still slammed against the opposite wall, but instead of bursting like grapes they only cracked bone and tore muscle. The surviving crew bolted out of the room alien sounds blurted out of the air. Color lights flashed and a siren like sound permeated the room.

“We’ve got to follow them,” Dax said.
“Can’t…move…” Len said.
“We’re all hurt. Get up and move or die here,” S’tahgrah grumbled, picking himself up.
“…M-my…leg…” Len rasped, pointing at bone jutting from his shin.
“Come on,” Dax pulled him up, and threw him over his shoulder.
“Thanks…” Len said.

They hobbled out of the command center. S’tahgrah had a bad limp. Vavoo was bleeding all over and clutching her arm. Dax seemed relatively fine and Len was slung over his shoulder in shock. The alien captors scattered down the hall. They didn’t seem to care or even notice the escapees. Water was trickling through the walls and ceilings.

“Looks like we’re under water,” Vavoo pointed out.
“Yeah, and they must be heading for the escape route,” S’tahgrah replied.
“Let’s follow ‘em,” Dax groaned, already tired of Len’s added weight.

Tune in Next Week for The Harvest: Chapter Fourteen!
Be sure to leave comments and let me know what you think of the serial thus far.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An interview with me on True Believer Reviews(.com)!

I did an interview with TrueBelieverReviews, check it out here:

I still cannot understand why anyone would want to interview me, but it was neato, and if you're interested go check it out. We talk a lot about Lettering, Comic Books, and some Birds of Prey.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Harvest: Delayed

Sorry, but The Harvest will not be up till some time happens.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This one's on the house...The Seed

Get The Seed, for free at Smashwords. Its a flash fiction piece, so as soon as you're done reading it I expect you to let me know what you think. And please give it a 5 star rating.

Here's the linky:

Dark: A Horror Anthology is now available on Smashwords!

Dark: A Horror Anthology is now available on Smashwords in multiple e-book formats for a mere $2.49! That's an exceptional value. Even if you don't have an e-reader, you can buy it and print it from home and read it that way.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stay Dead: The Stranger & Tunnel Rats now available at Smashwords!

If you've hesitated on picking up the print edition of Stay Dead: The Stranger & Tunnel Rats then you're in luck. Cause its now on Smashwords for only 99¢! Go get it here:

Batman XXX: A Porn Parody

This will be boughten!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Literary Value Meal...99¢

Isn't one of my short stories worth 99¢? I hope you think so, cause I do. "SHELTER" is the first of many short stories I plan to realease in multiple ebook formats on Smashwords. What else can you get for 99 cents? Nothing really.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stay Dead: The Stranger & Tunnel Rats Video Promo

Yep, another video...what can I say I'm hooked. And, of course, I used some more footage from Night of the Living Dead.

Dark: A Horror Anthology Promo Video 2

Just whipped this up in iMovie--can't get enough of it. In case you're wondering, yes, go buy a copy of Dark: A Horror Anthology.

The Harvest: Chapter Twelve

The corridor was mostly empty. They had come across a handful of lone creatures and dispatched them accordingly. The craft they were on was massive and they had no real idea of where they were going. They knew their destination, but how to get there was all guesswork. They basically wandered around for what seemed like hours, entering random doorways, and bashing whatever creatures they came across into pussy little puddles on the floor.

Len was tired, in fact he had never been so tired, and his head ached still. Vavoo led them forward. She had the most vigor in her step, leaving the others a few paces behind her.

Either by luck or process of elimination, the next door she entered appeared to be the command center. It had all gizmos and do-dads a command center is supposed to have, even a command crew, a commander, or a pilot if you were to ask S’tahgrah. The command crew swung around to face the doorway as it whooshed open.

“Land this ship or die,” Vavoo ordered.
They did not reply.
“Die it is,” S’tahgrah said, stepping through the door cracking his neck.

The commander motioned one of its spindly legs and one of the crewmembers came darting forward, spraying puss from its back. The puss arched toward the doorway and Len lurched out of the way. S’tahgrah stepped to the side, Dax had yet to enter, and Vavoo stood her ground. What did she have to fear? --She’d had plenty of the puss on her as it was. The puss hit her, and at first it felt no different than a warm spray of blood. But after a moment, it began to burn, and her skin began to smoke. She held in a scream, but as the seconds ticked by she could no longer hold it in. Her skin burned like nothing she’d ever felt before.

S’tahgrah leapt for the pilot, and the pilot dodged his attack, skittering out of the way just in time. The massive werewolf smashed his fist down on the console where the creature had been standing. It sparked and dimmed. The pilot made a screeching noise and ran for S’tahgrah, clearly angry. The wolf stood his ground and swung his large hand at the pilot. He connected and the pilot slapped against the wall. He didn’t burst like the other creatures had, and the wolf was surprised as a result. The pilot wasn’t getting back up however.

Vavoo clutched at her skin, trying to subdue the pain by sheer force of will. Dax pulled her to the side, finally entering the room. His hands began to burn at the touch, but when he looked at his digits he could see no difference.

“They’re using different tactics, but they’re still screwing with our heads,” Dax called out. “The puss doesn’t burn! They’re just making us think it does,” Dax continued.
“I’m getting really fed up with these bastards,” Len replied.

Len, his face an angry grimace, ran at the closest bug-like bastard he could see. His intended target matched his intent and ran right at him, its tall thin legs skittering forward.

“Come on!” Len yelled.

The creature hit him head on, attacking not only physically but telepathically as well. Len flew backward, and the creature followed through, piercing his shoulders with its legs. Len screamed.

The werewolf roared, smashing everything in site. Crew and console alike they broke under his strength. The light in the room dimmed, and a red light began to pulse. An alien language blurted out of the air and the spacecraft was unable to maintain its course, falling victim to the closest celestial bodies gravitational pull. Whatever the werewolf had broken, if allowed to remain broken, would take them to one of their worlds. Which one they had no way of knowing. The fight in the command center came to an end as the momentum of the falling craft threw them back.

“Everybody hold on! This is going to be one bumpy ride,” Dax hollered, almost enjoying it.

Tune in Next Week for The Harvest: Chapter Thirteen!
Be sure to leave comments and let me know what you think of the serial thus far.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Justice League Sketch Cards

Here's a small sampling of the 225 sketch cards I did for the Justice League Sketch Card set for Rittenhouse Archives in 2009. You can find tons of them on eBay for reasonable prices or take your chances buying the packs.

Here's a site that lists all the artists involved: click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An interview with Brian Keene on The Last Zombie.

Brian Keene, one of my favorite writers (author of such titles as Dark Hollow, The Rising, City of the Dead, Dead Sea, Urban Gothic, and plenty more) took the time to 'sit down' with me for a bit and talk about his upcoming comic book series--THE LAST ZOMBIE.

Steve: Mr. Keene, you have a new comic project hitting shelves soon, called The Last Zombie which will be in stores on June 30th. What can you tell us about The Last Zombie that would compel readers to pick it up?

Brian: It takes place after the zombie apocalypse -- after the undead have rotted away into nothing, head shot or not. The survivors emerge to find civilization in ruins. There are roving gangs to deal with. Despotic leaders. Environmental disasters like oil slicks, forest fires and melted down nuclear reactors. Earth is one big biohazard. Disease runs rampant (and the virus that caused the zombies might still be lurking out there, too). If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic films like the Mad Max trilogy, then you'll like this.

There’s quite a number of zombie related books and comics on the shelves as it is, among them, is fan favorite, The Walking Dead. What does The Last Zombie bring to the table that they can’t find in these other books?

Brian: The aftermath. It would be silly to write just another zombie comic. We already have two wonderful zombie comics - The Walking Dead and Crossed. Nobody is going to do those better, and to try would just bring repetition. So instead, I'm trying something different, by taking a look at what happens after the apocalypse. How does humanity rebuild? Indeed, can they rebuild at all, with another zombie virus outbreak still a distinct possibility?

Steve: Your “zombie books,” The Rising, City of the Dead, and Dead Sea have earned you the “zombie guy” label, but to some discord among your readers ((spoiler alert*), the zombies depicted in those books are essentially demons, and some readers have split hairs over whether or not they can be labeled zombies at all). What type of zombies can we expect to see in The Last Zombie?

Brian: Well, Dead Sea did feature the more "traditional" zombie (if a walking corpse who wants to eat your face can be seen as traditional). The zombies in Dead Sea were the result of a virus. They were slow and stupid, nothing more than dead eating machines. The undead in The Last Zombie are the same type.

Steve: Is The Last Zombie a fixed series? Will it end by a certain issue, or be ongoing pending sales?

Brian: I've planned a fifty-issue story overall. Each five-issue limited series will make up one chapter of the overall saga. I hope sales are strong, but even if they are, I have a definitive end-point in mind fifty issues from now.

Steve: Will the series include any characters/locations from the Brian Keene universe? Any chance of a satyr wandering about looking for love?

Brian: You never know. If I tell you now, I'd spoil things for you. (laughs)

Steve: Are there plans to produce any merchandise related to the series--posters, action figures, t-shirts, busts, etc?

Brian: No plans at this point, but I'm sure we would if there's a demand.

Steve: Well, I know I'd want a shirt at the least! Will The Last Zombie be available as a collected edition at some point? Should readers wait for the trade or jump in on the single issues/periodicals?

Brian: In truth, it's too early to say. I certainly hope they'll be collected, but you never know. I'm still waiting for Cullen Bunn's The Damned and Steve Gerber's Hard Time to finish being collected. Good thing I bought the single issues when they came out, because it's been years. Hey, you work at DC, don't you? Tell them to get on the stick and collect the second half of Hard Time!

(Steve: I have no idea what the hell they're waiting for on that!--no excuse for that.)

Steve: What else are you working on that readers can look forward to in the near future? Any more plans for comic books? Any more zombie stories rattling around in that bourbon-doused brain of yours?

Brian: Oh, yeah. I'm always busy working on something. There's some more comic stuff in the pipeline, but I can't talk about it yet. And I'm currently working on two novels: Entombed and Hole In The World. I work on one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Steve: Well Hole in the World is a great title--I'm already intrigued.

I'd like to thank Brian for taking the time to give me and you the lowdown on The Last Zombie. I know I'll be picking up issue one and I hope you do too.

You can pre-order The Last Zombie here.

Brian has a contest going on over at his website where you can win a chance to be in the comic, details here:

Survival of the Dead poster by Charlie Adlard

One of the coolest posters in a good long The Walking Dead's Charlie Adlard. I'd love to see more companies do stuff like this.

The Harvest: Chapter Eleven

As they left the monitoring room, they were immediately attacked by hundreds of small spider-like creatures of EeMeee’s ilk. They varied in size; there were small creatures, no larger than a human’s fist, and others the size of half the corridor’s width. They didn’t wait like the would-be vampires did, they attack wildly from all directions and with seemingly no strategy--but they had strategy. They communicated with each other as quickly and decisively as any one-minded creature could. It made them quite formidable as a group, but their strength was varied and proportionate to their varied sizes. Even their hides were nothing special, they bruised like fruit--and burst like it too.

Len, having not been much good for anything other than devising a hair-brained plan of escape with the very creatures that had captured them was devastating some of the smaller telepathic puss-bags. His small human hands formed tight fists that swung and connected with several of the bugs, sending them reeling.

Aside from their physical attempt to subdue their once captive prisoners, the spider-like captors emitted a light telepathic pulse that irritated the group. The pulse felt like hot needles prickling at the backs of their necks. EeMeee’s mind games had given them some resistance to its effects, but given enough time and potency the prisoners would fall victim to the pulse, as it would surely grow in severity. They would be beaten to submission by unseen mental weaponry. If Len and the others could continue to stand their ground physically they had the chance of getting away and then fighting at a distance where their captors’ telepathy would be weakened.

“We have to get away! My head is going to burst,” Dax yelled, as he ripped one of the beings in half.
“No shit!” Len yelled, swinging away like he had never done before.
“Push through them! We have to use their numbers against them,” the werewolf roared, covered in the puss-like blood of their enemy.

Vavoo said nothing. She struck her enemies with a speed that the others couldn’t match. She was swift and deadly, and sexy in a leathery, alien sorta-way. Her needle-like features were growing back, a visible sign of her strength returning. Vavoo’s home world was warrior’s wet dream. There were constant battles among the several beings that inhabited her planet. Fighting was a way of life there, it was more than a rite of passage--you either kill or be killed. Even S’tahgrah took note of her veracity and couldn’t help but smile. She was doing more damage than any of them and with such a small, slim figure.

They fought, as the pulse increased, and moved from the middle of the mayhem to the outskirts of it. Their heads burned like fire. Their thoughts getting muddled, and vision blurred. The more they killed, the more they weakened the pulse, but the ones still standing increased its potency faster and faster, doing themselves harm in the process. If they could only survive long enough to exhaust them, they’d be home free. If EeMeee had been any indication of how long it took to exhaust them, it should be any second.

“Why aren’t they dropping?” Dax asked.
“Don’t…know…” Len mumbled, weakening quickly.
“Just keep swinging!” S’tahgrah roared.

So they did. They swung, and clobbered, and clawed, and stomped till they were heavy with the puss-like blood. Nearly slipping in the mess they had made. Now, the beings began to exhaust, their pustules erupting like zit volcanoes, their bug bodies quivering. Len, near collapse, charged at one the size of a car. He hit it hard with his fist, puncturing the thick shell of its bodies. It screeched, and bucked, and sent Len flying into the wall, leaving him too stunned to get back up. He sat against the corridor wall, covered in filth staring at the stars that fluttered before his eyes.

Vavoo came in and finished the job. A few scattered, and the few that remained met the same end as the others. Dax, Vavoo, and S’tahgrah could barely stand. Their heads hurt something fierce and the pain ran throughout their bodies. Dax helped Len to his feet and stepped through the remains of their attackers.

“Now, let’s find the pilot and kill him too,” S’tahgrah said.
“Yeah, maybe he’s got some aspirin--my head hurts so fucking bad,” Len whined.
“Hush, now, baby, we’re almost home,” Vavoo purred.
“Hey, my head hurts too,” Dax said.
“I’m surrounded by pussies,” Vavoo snickered.
“I know that excludes me,” the wolf looked back.
“We’ll see,” Vavoo replied. “You might cry yet.”
“Not likely.”

Tune in Next Week for The Harvest: Chapter Twelve!
Be sure to leave comments and let me know what you think of the serial thus far.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It Doesn't Matter: Damaged Goods

Just made a new video--iMovie is awesome. I used Night of the Living Dead to cut from, possibly my favorite movie of all time, and put it to "Damaged Goods" (It Doesn't Matter).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It Doesn't Matter: Ghost

I put together a little video for Ghost (from It Doesn't Matter).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Batman Confidential #44 (Batman VS. The Undead)

So, it's been awhile since I've talked comics, but I've got something on the shelves I really dig and its important that I mention it. Why? Well, because DC is always hesitant when it comes to horror comics--why I don't know, but that's just how it is. So, Batman Confidential 44 is the start of a "horror" arc (Batman VS. The Undead)that serves as a follow up to Superman and Batman VS Vampires and Werewolves. Its the same creative team, and I love this team, especially Tom Mandrake's art which is pitch perfect for a story like this, scripted by Kevin Vanhook, and I'm on board as--you guessed it, letterer. So, go pick up this issue, and the rest of the arc so the bean counters at DC can tell the bigwigs that horror comics have an audience.

Also, check out Tom Mandrake's website:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So, it's kinda like a mailing list, but better...

…it's a Google Group. And you need to join it if you want to be informed of my happenings with Apparatus Revolution--my very own company. Don't worry, I'll hardly ever send out emails. Once every few months would be about right, but aside from being informed, you can start discussions--so its better than a mailing list!

Sign up here:

Cadaver Lab Podcast

Another awesome podcast has shown love for my Stay Dead promo--Cadaver Lab Horror Podcast! One you should all be listening to. Thanks guys! Here's a link to their site:

Hell Comes for the Hurried (a short story)

Here's a short story that I submitted for an anthology--it wasn't accepted. Sadly that is becoming a theme. Oh, well--that just means you get it for free. Let me know what you think.

Hell Comes for the Hurried

By Steve Wands

I’m supposed to be thankful today. Thankful for the wonderful bounty before me, thankful for the air that stings my lungs with its bitter, sinister cold, and thankful for all that I have. Well, all I have is regret and a heart that refuses to give up the ghost, a belly nowhere near full of charred rabbit meat and cold moonshine. I have the vague memory of a world that was chewed to the marrow. I have the memory of my family. And, I have a picture of them, which I guess I’m thankful for. It’s the only picture I have left of my wife and our son—though it’s so tattered I can barely make out their faces anymore. It’s as if they are ghosts caught on film. But am I thankful? –No. Not till I’m dead. Sure, I could’ve easily checked myself out countless times in the years that’ve passed. No, I’m not a religious person, though I do believe in God, and I most certainly believe in hell. I believe my family is waiting for me. Waiting where all the good-hearted dead go, were I hope I can go, and I don’t think suicide will get me there.

So I sit here among these people I’ve traveled with, their names don’t matter to me, and to be honest, neither do they. We still look out for each other though. It’s just that I’ve grown cold, beyond numb—I barely even speak nowadays. There is nothing to say, and small talk is bullshit. I’d rather keep my thoughts to my self. Some of the folks I travel with like to tell stories or talk about the glory days of a world half-remembered. I like to find the dead things and make them deader. I pretend that every one of them is the one that took my family away. It’s the only time I feel anything other than nothing and regret. And once I finish off this moonshine I’ll be ready to do just that.

The last swig bit me like a viper and hissed all the way down. I got to my feet, grabbed my club and headed away from the fire and out from underneath the bridge. I admired the sight once I got to the top. It was early evening and the sun was setting behind the river. The destruction was breathtaking. It was a bombed out skeleton of a city—a modern day dinosaur with its broken bones reaching for the sky. I stood across the river taking it all in. We were heading there tomorrow, on the big old road to nowhere through the city and beyond. We’d probably set up camp in the ruin one of the buildings—a library would be nice, or a museum. I could bury myself in a book, or make a display for the human race at the museum. Either way would be a fine way to kill time before time kills me.

I heard her following me but I hoped she’d leave after a bit, but of course she didn’t. I wasn’t that lucky. She was damn near feral, completely animalistic and why we saved her I still don’t know. She was part of a “fuck hut” we came across months ago down by Jamesburg off the old highway. The girl was barely into double digits by the looks of her. She was filthy and had no idea how to interact with others, not that any of us really did, but she made it extremely uncomfortable. Who knows how many times she’d been raped—it was all she knew. She looked at you as if you were going to, and was confused when you did nothing. At times it was almost as if she wanted to be fucked, as if that were the only way she could have contact with another person. If I had a heart it would break, but it didn’t. Her movement and posture resembled an ape more than it did of man. I turned to look at her as she hid behind a pile of rubble. She grunted at me and I shooed her away. She scampered off, heading back to the group. Good riddance.

I walked for a few minutes, heading toward the road which eventually took me to the bridge. Both of which were cluttered with broken down vehicles, many of which were weathered and rusted. Come tomorrow, getting across would be interesting. I wondered if we even could. Something stirred on the bridge. I heard a noise, and stared right in its direction. From the shadows emerged one of the dead. Its eyes gone long ago, its skin wrapped like tight leather around its bones. It looked like a mummy whittled out of wood. I stepped closer to it, my club at my side. It met me part of the way. I stood staring at it, staring into its eyeless holes looking for something to hate. It came at me, stiffly and weakly. I let it grab hold only to push it away. I let it do it again, and again. How the hell did these things turn the world into a nightmare? The thought gave me rage and I used it to swing my club at the deader. I knocked it to the ground, its leathered hide scraping on the pavement. I put my foot to its head and slowly pressed down, it gave no fight and if it did I didn’t notice. I stomped full-force on the deaders head, heard a very satisfying crunch and looked at the dark ooze coming from its ears. It looked like oil. I raised my foot to stomp it once again, and once again I was satisfied with the noise I made—it was music, and violence was the instrument. I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn’t notice the other creatures that crept out from the shadows of the bridge. Three more, and they were just as slow as the dead bastard who finally found rest under my foot. One of them had been disemboweled long ago, staggering forward with an empty hole where her stomach should’ve been. I could see the upper crest of her pelvis and the base of her spine. The rest was covered by skin that hung in clumps like rows of jerky. None of them had clothes, one barely had any hair, not that it mattered what they looked like. Nothing mattered, really. I hoped they would kill me but I knew they wouldn’t be able to. Even against three of them it was easy work. I had my fun of course then quickly put them down.

I was beginning to sober up and that was a bad thing, a very bad thing.
It was on my second jar of moonshine that I returned to near oblivion. I was almost drunk enough to enjoy the stories being told within earshot of where I stood on wobbly legs. I heard one part of a story that involved Mick Jagger and it only made me think of my dead friends on the bridge. It almost made me chuckle—the thought of Mick and The Stones being responsible for the death of death. I smiled, briefly, and it felt unnatural and dirty on my face. I wiped it off and took a swig from my jar.
The river moved fast and rough. It looked almost green. I could see a few people from the group down near the river talking amongst themselves—it could’ve been an argument the way they were moving, but I stopped paying attention, and moved closer to the fire. The fire smelled terrible, like hot piss on burnt rubber, but I took it in all the same.

A memory came to me then, one of fire—a fire that didn’t smell of piss and rubber. It was a Thanksgiving years ago, our first Thanksgiving as a new family, just the three of us. I fought and fought for us to be by ourselves. I was sick of sharing the day with her family, and for once I wanted to just be by ourselves. The fire then smelled great and it heated most of the house. Our son was crawling around like a maniac and we kept chasing after him—but I must say I had a hard time crawling after him. I was heavier then, and my knees hated me for it. It was the best Thanksgiving I had as an adult. I wish I could go back to that day, back to a day on the couch with a giant heap of mashed potatoes, a cold beer, a beautiful woman at my side and my curious little creation roaming the floors in search of brightly colored toys to put in his mouth.

It’s funny the things you think of when you’re trying to get some shut-eye. And when I say funny, I mean odd. I was just thinking about the rain forest. I pictured it beginning to flourish once again. I saw vivid colors and giant trees, crazy looking little bugs, and noisy birds. The earth, the real earth, must be rejoicing as we continue to struggle for survival. I thought of the future I use to picture, flying cars and teleportation systems, robots named “Rosie” and all that good stuff. It’s crazy how quickly things can change. How one can go from a bright future to no future at all. I thought of dinosaurs, and then I felt like one. Somehow I slept.
I dreamt of walking through the city, the bridge was cleared and we joined a parade. People were celebrating again, the sun was shining, and people were talking and laughing. A man tried to sell me ice cream but I didn’t have any money. He smiled and handed it to me anyway. Then he gave me a wink. I could hear children laughing but I didn’t see any. Then it began to rain, no it poured. It was muddy and hot, and everyone ran off. I was left in the middle of the street with my ice cream, which turned into eyeballs. The people around me all turned into deaders. They began clapping. My vision blurred and the world began to spin out of control. Then I woke to the touch of someone stroking my leg. It was the feral girl. I jumped up and pushed her away. She hissed at me, I kicked her and snarled back. The others looked at me, then to the girl, and then they went back to whatever the hell it was they were doing—which was really just killing time.

I sat back down, and the last thing I remember was the shifting of gravel underfoot. Then blackness. When I woke up my head pounded, and the world was upside down. The folks I traveled with were standing around me. They looked anxious, and they were looking at me. I hung suspended by my feet, and my hands were tied in back. All I could do was squirm—and not very much at that. They were all pretty quiet. From behind me I could hear the sharpening of metal—I knew what was coming. I smiled when I figured it out; it was my turn, at long fucking last. There was a bucket under my head. The sharpening stopped and then all was quiet. I could hear footsteps approaching from behind, then the swift sound of a cleaver slicing through the cold night air. The pussy swinging the cleaver didn’t have enough strength to cleave off my head in one swing. So, you could imagine the pain when it struck my throat. As much as I looked forward to this moment, I had no idea how much pain it would actually be. Nor did I think it would hurt a hundred times more when the bastard pulled it out to try again. Finally on the third stroke my head landed in the bucket, face down and bleeding stump up. My warm blood flowed from the wound, quickly cooling off—and there was a lot of it. I then watched them slice open my gut and disembowel me. Cleaving out every organ and letting them drop to the ground. The bucket wasn’t near big enough, and according to the reaction of the bastards doing it I didn’t smell too fresh on the inside. Am I thankful? –Yes. I’d certainly have preferred a cleaner death, something more serene, and quick. But, what’s done is done. I was just a bit confused as to why there was no heavenly light shining down upon me, or why I didn’t float off into the air—I was still here, watching them hack at my mortal remains. Their names are fuzzy, and as I’ve told you before, they don’t really matter, but I think the bastard that cleaved my head was named Vic. He’d told me before that he’d eaten human flesh. He sort of eventually became our group’s leader. He was a nice enough guy, and if I could’ve thanked him for choosing me to be the Thanksgiving bird, despite the fact that the bastard couldn’t do the job swiftly, I would have. I guess he somehow convinced the rest of the group that human meat was better than no meat. I guess they agreed.

They had turned pipes and branches into skewers which they covered in my meat. I wondered if anyone would eat my dick, and if they did I sure as shit didn’t want to watch, but I wanted to know. I was almost all bone as they continued to skewer large chunks from my body. The man with the cleaver started making a stack for himself, cutting from my thighs, probably the choicest of cuts, my legs were in great shape from all the walking I’ve done over the years—probably the best they’d ever been in. I used to be a couch potato with a desk job and a bad appetite, now I was a slender stack of meat on Thanksgiving Day. Once someone had a full skewer they walked it over to the fire. I could hear the sizzle of my skin, but I couldn’t smell it—why I don’t know. I watched them eating my body. I wish I could tell you it disgusted me, but it didn’t. I didn’t care. The feral girl grabbed a skewer of me and headed to the fire in her hunched over stagger of a walk.

A woman, I think her name was Emma, grabbed the bucket that held my head. She pulled my head from the bucket by my blood-soaked tendrils of hair and raised it to her eye level. She looked at my face—which, to my surprise was moving its jaw and flitting its eyes. Those were my eyes, and they were moving without me behind them. I always thought if you removed the head from the body there would be no coming back. I couldn’t tell if my body still writhed, but my head sure did. It was strange, I must’ve cut the heads off hundreds of deaders and never once did I stop to pick up the head and say hello to it. Nor did I ever see a headless corpse walking around. You’d figure that after so many years these things would start to make sense, but no, they didn’t. None of it made any damn sense. Not ever. My current situation didn’t make a lick of sense either, but it was happening anyway, or not happening in my case. The woman started talking to my head, but I didn’t quite catch what she was saying. Then she walked my head over to the fire and tossed it in. My face, my identity to the world, was tossed like rubbish into the fire. It was one of the few things that reminded me of who I was, the other…the other was the photograph, which lay in a puddle of my innards and blood and torn clothes. I walked over to it and knelt down. I tried to pick it up, but I couldn’t. I wanted to wipe away my blood to see the faded image of my wife, Lynne, and my son, Marley, and I couldn’t even do that. All of this was to see them again, and what I got to see was the butchering of my body and the feasting of my flesh. God, if there is such a thing, had forsaken me.

I left. I walked away and I didn’t turn back in the slightest. I returned to the bridge and what I saw made me laugh; the deaders were coming. They must’ve smelled my blood and innards, and like flies to shit they came for it. There were more than I had seen in a long time. I guess the city wasn’t as empty as we thought. There had to be hundreds, all of them shriveled like raisins. Still they were able to stagger, still able to feast. I wished them a Happy Thanksgiving as they passed through me. As they stumbled off the bridge and down toward camp, I could hear shouts, then a few shots but I knew firearms were few and ammunition was sparse. The shots stopped and the shouts turned into panicked screams. I walked over to the edge of the bridge and watched. They were completely surrounded by the swarm of deaders. The fools were so busy with feasting and clamoring about nonsense that they didn’t hear their slow approach, and the smell of the fire must’ve covered up their putrid scent, which I couldn’t smell. I was thankful for that too, I guess.

The feral girl ran for the river and dove—she would most likely die of hypothermia. The others tried to fight, but it was like fighting the tide. For every deader dispatched a new one came to take its spot. They fought as they always had though, and valiantly, but it was pointless. A few more chose the river. I guess I would’ve chosen the river as well. I’d rather of died a death with my lungs full of icy sludge than have my flesh torn off in chunks by the rotted teeth of the deaders. The deaders overpowered the rest of my group, dragging their dying bodies to the ground. The tide came in. The tide always comes in. And there’s not a damned thing in hell you can do about it. I watched the tide go back out as quickly as it came in. The fire illuminated the leftover chunks of cooling gore. The cold stiff dirt was left a darker than rust shade of red. The folks I traveled with joined the ranks of the dead. I walked on.

The bridge was littered with the remains of vehicles. The kinds people would’ve killed for, the public type that people dreaded, and the kind that probably stalled out and caused this mess. They were rusted and weathered, cold and dead, and useless. Just like me. I wondered how long it would take for the bridge to collapse without man there to keep it up. From the looks of it, I didn’t think very long. The longer I walked, the more I felt a part of this world. It was dead, I was dead. The only things I saw were dead, in one way or another, and the people still left were only biding time till they eventually died.

After the bridge I entered the city. It was once called Titan City, but I couldn’t find any sign that stated such. I remember the day of the bombings—Titan City was among the first to fall. It seemed like forever ago. I used to visit every once and a while. Daytrips, a show, an anniversary dinner here and there, and I remember when we took Marley to the museum for the first time. He loved it. We all did. I wondered if it still stood? I doubt it—many of the buildings were leveled, the ones still standing looked as if a good gust of wind would knock them over.
The streets were covered in glass and metal from the windows. I don’t think there was a high rise with a window left intact anywhere throughout this city of the dead. It was a hollowed out husk of a hornet on the windowsill of the world. And, I was walking through it. The devastation was nothing short of breathtaking. I tried to touch things, to run my fingers along the old bones of the city, but I could feel nothing.

I found what was left of the museum. A hole in the ground—a hole filled with fancy things. Fancy things covered by dust and debris. Things that had no place, things like me, relics. I stood there for what seemed like days, though I know it was only a moment. I waited to see my family, but they didn’t show up. I walked on.
The day never changed, night never came, and the sky stayed the dullest shade of grey I had ever seen. The clouds looked painted and hung heavy over me. I tired of the wasteland. There was nothing to keep me here. I headed for a home I had not been to since the dead began to rise. I wasn’t sure how to get there, but I felt drawn, like something was pulling me or pushing me toward it. I didn’t fight it, it’s not like I had something better to do.

I couldn’t tell if time was moving or not. It should have taken me a while to get from the city to my old home, but the sky never seemed to change. I felt no cold, no warmth, no wind, no anything. I thought I saw other ghosts or spirits, but they could have been shadows. I saw no living, or living dead. I couldn’t even find the sun. Yet I was almost to my destination, which was unrecognizable. The street signs were faded, the homes deteriorating; the once well-kept lawns were rebellious fields. My old suburbia lie in a worse ruin than when I left it, which was no real surprise, but it was disturbing to see. It made me feel haunted, though it seemed I was the one doing the haunting.

There it is, right in front of me. A door to a world I left behind years ago. A big heavy door, it used to be red—the shutters too, now they’re rust-colored. I can’t turn the handle. I can barely move. Whatever force had been guiding me is gone. I’m alone. The door opens.
“Welcome home, sweetheart,” she said to me. Her voice, a song I so longed to hear. Her irises shimmered like warm honey. Her skin looked so soft—if only I could touch her, smell her.

“Daddy,” shouted my beautiful little boy, running down the hallway toward the door. His hair bounced with each step, and his smile was bright.
The tiny pieces of my shattered heart ached. Each broken chunk burned. My eyes teared. I couldn’t even smile. They did though; they smiled brightly, as brightly and as warmly as I remember them.

I tried to speak but I couldn’t. She nodded, she knew what I wanted to say, and didn’t want, or need, to hear it. She patted my boy on the head. He looked at me with somber eyes and a grim chin. Their beautiful appearance began to change. They looked as they did the last time I saw them—in agony.

“You know what they say about cowards, dad,” he said, and I did.
I just wanted to apologize. I wanted to take it back. I wished over and over that I died with them, that I held them then, instead of hoping I could now.
“A thousand deaths,” my wife whispered.

A thousand deaths, her soft words hit me like a sledgehammer. All the years of letting the guilt eat me alive from the inside out for one death. How many times did I want to kill myself and end it all? I was a coward then. I was afraid, always afraid.

“Do you know how long it takes for a ghost to die,” she asked me, and I didn’t know. It wasn’t something I ever gave any thought. After thinking about it for a moment I feared I might never die again. I stared into her eyes looking for an answer, but there was none, only the warmth that I’d always known to be there. This was all my fault, not hers, I was the one who ran. She did the right thing.

“We love you,” they said together, and I was forced to watch them die again. It was just as painful the second time around, but this time I couldn’t close my eyes. I couldn’t run away. I had to grin and bear it. I watched every morsel of skin get ripped away. I watched them bleed, and scream, and squirm, and cry out for me, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t help, or change what I did. I was a Goddamn coward twice over, and there they lay in a pool of their blood, twitching as the dead thing swallowed their flesh, again. Just like the first time, only now I couldn’t run. All I could do was cry, not even blink, and hurt. Then they were gone, as quickly as they came. My angels, my demons, gone once again, all that remained was a stain on the floorboards and a huge gaping hole in my heart. Could God be so cruel? I guess so. I was able to move again, so I knelt on the stain—the only remains of my family. I wish I had my picture, now more than ever. All I have is nothing, save that of guilt. I eventually got up and wandered aimlessly through my old home. The dust was so thick it was dirt; covering most of the framed pictures I longed to see. What little I could see was distorted, another level to the hell I find myself in, if this is hell. I’m not sure. I tried to wipe the dirt away, but it was useless. I tried to blow it away, but nothing came out of my ghostly form. I pictured us as we were before the deaders bled the world dry. These walls were filled with laughter once, now just dirt and a ghost chasing after death. I walked around the home some more, then went outside and sat on the stoop. I waited for the tall grass to wrap me up and pull me under, but it never did.

I watched a deader stagger around aimlessly. I followed the clay colored sun burnt beast of yesterday. Wherever it roamed I followed. It had no idea I was there. It could’ve been months, or years, hell, it could have been minutes, it didn’t matter. The deader eventually found someone alive. I give it credit for trying, but it was pretty useless, the lady clubbed it to death. She bashed his head over and over again. Not one drop of blood came out of the thing—it was probably dried up, or bled out. She took her breaths and moved on, as did I.

I never did find out how a ghost dies. I did, however, watch a world die. I watched mankind disappear forever. I watched its walking shadow decay into nothing. I saw other ghosts, other things, but nothing could ever keep me company. I watched the climate change, and the animals all disappeared. I traveled the world time and time again. The landmarks I knew turned to dust. For a time, it was only the roaches and I, but they died off as well. The earth grew hot for a long time, and the sky turned red. The sun was dying. Then the earth turned to a ball of ice. The sun began to fade. Then there was the day the sun went out. Then it was just me and the darkness.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Harvest: Chapter Ten

The monitoring room was gigantic. It had multiple levels that looked like horseshoe rings with dozens of manned stations complete with B-movie gadgets and gizmos that dinged and danged, clicked and whirred. In a half dome shape at the end of the room was a massive holo-screen with dozens upon dozens of raw footage and text galleys. Among the footage were worlds being destroyed by an unseen menace.

Len moved in closer, staring at a screen displaying images from earth. It bounced around as if someone were channel surfing, and among the locations Len recognized quite a few of them. He could see New York City, Paris, Tokyo, and plenty others all under attack by little clunky spaceships that moved around far faster than he’d ever seen any aircraft move, complete with bright red lasers that blasted his home world. Bullshit or not, it looked real, and it caused some very real emotions to rise to the surface. As Len stared at the screen tears ran down his cheeks.

“This is bullshit!” Len screamed.
“Keep yourself together, human,” S’tahgrah grumbled.

The large werewolf lowered Vavoo from his shoulder and placed her gently on the ground. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully, unawares to the horrors that played erratically on the screen. EeMeee skittered around giggling. Dax stood uneasily, watching the screens, looking to see what creatures were piloting those ships. Surely there had to be a ground force, he thought.

S’tahgrah positioned himself next to EeMeee, all the while making eye contact with Len. Dax kept an eye on the two of them, and noticed a small movement from Vavoo, maybe she was waking, Dax hoped.

“Here is the proof of your worlds demise,” the lady vampire in red spoke.

No one replied.

S’tahgrah shifted his feet, aligning himself with his target. He struck swiftly. The large beast jutted his massive hands through EeMeee’s thick shell like form, exiting out the other side. EeMeee screeched horridly, the pustules on its back erupting and pulsating. It shook violently and S’tahgrah roared as he ripped the tiny bug-like creature in half. Len watched on in horror. S’tahgrah threw the two pieces of EeMeee’s body to the ground like it was nothing other than refuse.

“Why?” Len asked.
“That thing was no friend of ours, human,” S’tahgrah replied.
“I don’t understand.”
“Look around,” Dax said, “there’s nothing here.”
“Holy…shit…” Len said as he looked around at an empty room.
“That thing was in our heads, screwing with our minds,” Vavoo said as she lifted herself up off the ground. “I had a hunch so, I played dead, more or less. Since that insect assumed I was unconscious I went into his head and figured it out. It was the wolf’s idea,” she continued.
“He smelled like a liar. And even if he wasn’t he deserved to die just for all the laughing,” S’tahgrah said.
“Okay, if that’s true, then why can we still understand each other?” Len asked.
“That thing fucked with our heads so badly, they’ll never be the same again. The mind link cannot be reversed. It will diminish over time, but we’ll always be able to understand each other. We’ll always be able to feel each other, it may be slight, but what EeMeee did to us is irreversible.”
“Fuck,” Len whispered, scratching at his head.
“There’s something else,” S’tahgrah said, “we are still on a spacecraft, and our worlds are being destroyed--”
“More EeMeee’s?” Len asked.
“Yes,” S’tahgrah replied.
“They are harvesting our worlds,” Vavoo explained. “They feed off of our minds.”
“Damn parasites,” Dax added.
“So, what are we supposed to do now?” Len asked.
“We kill every last one of them and crash land the ship to the closest planet,” the werewolf said, quite matter-of-factly.
“You’re joking right?” Dax asked.

The werewolf said nothing, but showed as many teeth as he could.

Tune in Next Week for The Harvest: Chapter Eleven!
Be sure to leave comments and let me know what you think of the serial thus far.