Eulogy Post III


Red 4


“What does this mean?” The woman was very pale, so much so, that she almost seemed to glow. Sandra was a peculiar sight, wearing a dark navy blue jogging suit. In the darkness all that was visible was her face, which made Red take a second look before approaching.

“I have no idea,” answered an equally pale gentleman. He was dressed in what appeared to be the exact same outfit. Something about these people was off; Red thought he should be cautious.

“Where is the manager,” asked Red as he came closer. Red was in his late fifties, but looked more like a healthy forty, with snow white hair, and a broad smile. “Why’s the power out?”

Startled at the new arrival, the pale woman bluntly replied, “Read the note.”

“Now Sandra let’s not be rude, we don’t know why the power’s out, but there is a note here.” The pale gentleman spoke kindly.

Red with a gleam in his eye, extended his hand, “I’m sorry, where are my manners, my name is Red.”

“I’m Phil and this is my wife Sandra,” hesitantly, he took Reds hand and gave it a feeble shake. Sandra just sneered.

Red then took the note and read it slowly.


     I apologize for the inconvenience, but due to the national crisis, I have gone home to be with my family.                                               

                                                                                        The Management


“Well that’s odd; wonder what he could have been talking about?” Red inquired.

“I don’t know.” Phil replied.

“My wife and I have been here nearly a week, and I haven’t seen a single newspaper, or watched a single news broadcast in all that time.” Red spoke, puzzled.

The campsite they were in was privately owned and the owners were real careful of who they rented to. They liked regular customers and cared little for profit. Their only concern was that the place stays nice. Red loved it; it didn’t have all the partiers to deal with like many of the other sites. He and his wife came down twice a year, once before spring and once at the end of summer. “All our other vacations are for spoiling our grandchildren,” Red liked to joke.

Red’s thoughts were interrupted when Phil offered, “Let’s check the radio in my RV, to hear the news.”

As they made their way to Phil’s RV they saw approaching headlights. The car slowed as it neared, then stopped, “Hey,” came the voice of a girl not more than 18 or 19 years old. “What’s happened, why are the lights off?” It was a dark moonless night and she was wary of coming any closer to these strangers in the dark.

“That’s what we are trying to find out,” replied Red.

“Did you see the note on the manager’s door?” snapped Sandra, apparently irritated at the girl’s arrival. Red thought again, something isn’t right with this woman.

“No, I’m not sure where the office is, I been here with my boyfriend.” sounding a little shocked by the woman’s tone.

Red interjected, “something’s happened, no need in going to the office, there is no one there to talk to. We are heading to this gentlemen’s RV to try and get the news on the radio.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“We don’t know yet.” answered Phil sweetly trying to make up for his wife’s rudeness.

“The note said there is a national crisis, but didn’t explain any further than that.” said Red.

“A national crisis,” the girl repeated, aloud. She then leaned back in her car and started scanning the stations, the auto scan cycled all the way through twice with nothing. She was starting to worry.

Red noting the girls looks of worry, offered, “You should go get your boyfriend and meet us back here so we can find out what is going on.”

“He’s gone,” she answered, and Red thought she was beginning to tear up.

The girl climbed into her car and began scanning the stations one at a time, after passing five stations she knew should have been there the radio locked onto one.

“This is a message from the emergency broadcast system, be advised all American citizens are to cease all movement. Say again, all American citizens are to cease all movement by order of The President of the United States of America. This is the only way to prevent the spread of the virus.” This message continued to loop playing over and over again chilling all four of them.

“Phil I’m going to get my wife and check the other camp sites to see if anyone else is here. I will meet you at your RV in 15 minutes.” Red said with the slightest hint of distress entering his voice.

The girl, disillusioned by what she had just heard quietly said, “He left,” as tears filled her eyes, “he went back to school last night.”

“What’s that?” Sandra snapped.

Red cut over Sandra’s unprovoked hostility towards the girl and asked, “Phil? Well is it ok if we meet at your RV?”

“Yeah sure,” answered Phil quietly dazed. He like the other three was trying to make sense of what he had just heard.

Red couldn’t help thinking that Sandra could care less if the whole world fell down so long as it didn’t affect her. She was mean, and although Red could get along with anyone on his worst day, he had an ominous feeling that this woman would be trouble, given the slightest opening.

“Sweetie my name’s Red, do you want to walk with me to get my wife?” Red wasn’t about to leave this vulnerable child with the closest real world example of the wicked witch he’d ever met.

From behind blurry tear streaked cheeks the girl answered, “Sure a walk would be nice, I need some air.” She wasn’t dressed nearly warm enough for the chill in the air, but seemed not to notice.

“My name’s Beth,” she sniffled trying to hold back the tears.

“Bethany or Elizabeth?” Asked Red knowing this would distract her momentarily from what was upsetting her. Red had been a psychologist for over thirty years, the last twenty of which had been devoted to children with severe emotional disorders. A simple case of heartache was not hard for him to spot.

“Bethany and I hate it.” She turned up her nose as if it left a bad taste in her mouth to say it.

“Well I think it is a beautiful name, it’s a shame you don’t go buy it. Where do you go to school?”

“UNC Wilmington, I’m a, well I am going to school to be a marine biologist.”

“Impressive, all my sons wanted at your age was to race cars.”

“How old are they?” She asked.

“I have two, one is twenty-seven, and the other is thirty-two.” Proudly he added, “I am a grandfather three times over.”

“I’ll be 20 in May. I can’t imagine having kids. You have to get married first. Well you don’t have to be, but my parents would kill me if that happened. I can’t even keep a boyfriend; much less find someone who’ll marry me.” She had started crying again as she finished telling him this.

“You know I really hope you don’t believe that. You seem like a perfectly normal girl to me, not to mention, but I will anyway, how beautiful you are. I know tons of guys who’d be proud to call you their own.”  Red answered emphatically.

Red had not exaggerated; Beth was a classic beauty, long perfect jet black hair, petite 5’1” maybe 105 lbs., big green eyes, and dimples to boot. She came across as a passionate person, the type when they enter a room; all around suddenly feel more alive.

“You really think so?” She asked, looking at Red for the first time since the beginning of the conversation.

“I most certainly do darling.” These words from Red brought the faintest hint of a smile to her face.

“This is it sweetie,” He then yelled at the darkened camper, “Sherry you in there?”

“Yeah sug, I’m here, haven’t left you yet. Did you bring home company?” Beth could see by the lantern light that this woman nearly in her sixties was both beautiful and kind like her husband. She had a reassuring smile that seemed to light up the abysmal night more than the lantern she carried.

“Hi I’m Beth, nice to meet you.” She shook Sherry’s hand.

“Looks like I should be more worried about you leaving me than me leaving you. My you sure are a pretty thing.” Even in the dim light Sherry could see the puffiness around the girl’s eyes. Like Red, Sherry would do anything for a smile.

Blushing, a bright crimson on her olive toned cheeks Beth said, “thank you.”

Red brought Sherry up to speed on what they had heard and Sherry and Beth went to meet at Phil’s.

Red set out to check the other camp sites. His search was fruitless as he had known it would be, considering the time of year. He and his wife always took an early vacation just before it really warmed up and one at the end of the summer when the weather begins to cool. He often told his friends it was the secret to their marriage. They’d been coming to this same campsite for over thirty years. Unbeknownst to them, being there is why they were still alive.

“The entire place is deserted, it is March after all.” Red said as he approached the lantern light outside Phil’s RV.

“We can’t get anything but that damn emergency services message.” Spouted Sandra irritated as if all this was their doing. The irritation in her voice was being replaced by panic.

“I’m going to try the radio in my car again,” said Beth. She too was beginning to feel panicked. Even Red seemed to become tenser.

“I’ll join you if that’s ok?” Sherry asked.

Beth didn’t answer, only nodded, fearing she would begin crying again. It was not heart break that threatened to renew her tears, and she was heartbroken. The kind words that had been spoken to her by Red had been like putting a large bandage on the pain. She was terrified, imagining the worst. She had never heard an EMS message that wasn’t just a drill before.

Beth and Sherry walked to where Beth had left her car, when they were inside Beth lit a cigarette and offered one to Sherry who accepted with a smile. “Red knows I smoke, usually only two or three a day. I haven’t had one since we’ve been here. He wouldn’t complain if I did smoke around him, but I don’t because I know it bothers him.”

“You two have the perfect marriage,” Beth was awestruck at how two people could be so sensitive to each other’s wants and needs.

Sherry laughed, “We’re not perfect honey. But we love each other and that is what matters. We each have our own quirks and we both work too much. That’s why we take these vacations. We take two each year to be alone together, and we use the holidays to see our children and grandbabies.”

“Still I envy you two,” she then thought of her own parents and the constant bickering and arguing.

“I know young people hate to hear stuff like this, but I am old enough to say it anyway. Your still a baby, Red and I didn’t even know each other when I was your age. You’ll find him one day when you least expect it. Sweetie, trust me.” Sherry squeezed Beth’s shoulder and gave a reassuring smile.

Beth cranked the car and slowly began to drive towards where she and Sherry had left Red talking with Phil and his wife. As she drove she scanned stations, and just as they arrived, the radio stopped on a low FM station. She had to back up and pull forward a few times, but finally got the station in good enough to understand it. It was still muffled with static.

“Hey guys come over here we got a station playing music, maybe there will be some news.” Beth tried to get the station in even better, but settled afraid anymore attempts may cause them to lose the station altogether.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it,” came Michael Stipe’s voice through the crackling speakers. Everyone was gathered impatiently waiting for the song to end.

The song ended and the static seemed amplified for a brief moment which hurt their ears, but no one made a move to turn down the volume. “This is K-D-E-D radio for the dead and dying.” The voice was haggard and had a menacing quality. They all exchanged uneasy glances as they listened.

“This has got to be some sick fucking joke!” Screamed Sandra, her eyes had become animal like in the darkness, as if she were ready to attack at any moment. She was hushed by all even her husband.

Then they heard through the static the obvious sounds of retching and someone gagging. Then after about thirty seconds of static only, “considering that everyone is dead I guess I’ll do the weather. Well the five day forecast is as follows, Monday 99% chance of death, Tuesday 99% chance of death, well fuck seems like 99% chance of death all week. Is there no one listening?” The voice pleaded to them through the speakers.

“I would say call in if you were listening, but the phones are out. The powers out too, all up and down the east coast.” He began to choke and vomit once again.

After a brief silence, “To recap ladies and gentlemen, thirty US cities have been nuked and everyone has a mutated form of what appears to be the Ebola Virus. At least that is what the news said. I am dying, can anyone hear me?”

The voice sounded desperate and delirious and the signal was weakening. “I don’t know if anyone can hear me but my generator is dying so signing off for this life. This is K-D-E-D radio for the dead and dying.” They heard crying and more choking. Then nothing but static blared at them through the speakers.



Eulogy Post II

blue skull



Charles Erwin Jakobs looked no different than any other healthy forty-year old. He was in excellent physical condition because he exercised religiously. The thing that set him apart from others was the shackles and the blood red jumpsuit he wore. This was the color issued to death row inmates in Kentucky.

He had already faced two counts of first degree murder and had been quickly convicted. He never denied his guilt. He believed wholeheartedly that a man must accept the consequences of his actions no matter how harsh. If they planned on killing him then he would die and they wouldn’t get a “sorry” or “please no!” He was a man and he would act like it.

His argument for the murders he was already convicted of was precisely the same as the murder he was set to stand trial for later that morning. He adamantly argued that he had the right, both morally and ethically, to kill his wife, her lover, and the bastard son he had been conned into believing was his for the last ten years.

She had taken a vow, till death do us part and Jakobs had every intention of making her keep that vow. Her lover was a home wrecker and a thief; he was a thief for having Jakobs raising his kid. The kid was the most innocent, but he was just as guilty as the two adults and worse of all he was an abomination born out of wedlock. He was the result of a cruel deception and he was punished just the same.

It didn’t pain Jakobs to kill the boy he had called son for a full decade. He had always suspected that something was not right with the boy. The boy was weak, soft minded, and gave out half way through a hard day’s work. This in itself was enough to make Jakobs suspicious. He’d yell, “Ain’t no boy of mine a weakling and a sissy!” Then he would double his efforts at whipping the boy into shape.

One day he decided he was going to try yet again to teach the boy to drive. The last five attempts ended with the boy beaten down so thoroughly, that he lost even the strength to cry.

“Now boy, I was doin’ this at seven years old, now you’re going to learn to drive this here truck or I’m gonna tie you down and run over your worthless fucking head with it!” He bellowed at the cowering boy. “You understand me?” Just to make sure he had gotten his point across he slapped the boy’s ear open handed, which resulted in severe disorientation accompanied by a loud ringing sound.

The boy tried as hard as he could, but he just couldn’t get the hang of the old truck’s gear shift. It was a 1970 Chevy C10 with a manual transmission, with the shifter on the column. “Three on the tree,” His father had called it.

That day, something odd occurred to Jakobs. “Is this even my boy?” he asked the rusted out truck. Jakobs was old fashioned, but he was not stupid. He thought that every now and again all families got a weak one but even they can be beaten into shape. The more he thought, the more he became convinced that this boy could not possibly be the product of his loins.

That day, he drove into town and stormed into the local doctor’s office, “the doctor, who had delivered my prized idiot!” He would tell people. He had a fierceness that even men bigger than him would veer away from. The receptionist nearly feinted as he stormed in, slamming the door open so hard it sounded like a shotgun blast.

She gathered her composure as best she could and attempted to protest his unwanted entry. He was making for the rear of the office where the doctor was examining a patient. He silenced her with his glare and she wanted to cry. She thought for sure this man had gone mad and was going to pull out a gun at any moment.

Jakobs burst through the door to the examining room dragging his mentally broken protégé. The boy was not embarrassed; he did not notice or acknowledge that his father was acting in any way other than what was normal. He had no friends to judge by, just as his mother. He was taught that only adult men have friends and children are meant to be seen and not heard. Women just didn’t matter.

The boy knew one thing that his father didn’t; his mother did in fact have a friend. She would slip off during the day and visit with him in the woods while his father was working down the mountain. Yes, his mother had a friend. He had followed her and saw the two of them going at it like wild animals right on the ground. He watched with fascinated curiosity; he had never known his mom to act in such a way. She never spoke unless asked a direct question, but with this other man she spoke constantly without pause it seemed.

He dared not tell his father for fear that he would be beaten for neglecting his work in order to follow his mother. He kept that to himself and wondered if there would ever come a time when his father would not be around. He wanted to meet this other man, the one who made his mother come to life.

When Jakobs jerked open the examining room door he nearly flattened the elderly gentleman who was exiting. The doctor, seeing the anger in his eyes, quickly turned on the charm in an attempt to cool Jakobs’ temper.

“Mr. Jakobs, what can I do for you?” he asked as politely as he could.

Jakobs’ jerked the boy by the collar and shoved him out the door, slamming it behind him.

“You can cut it with the niceties, doc. I am here on business.” He walked closer to the doctor, causing him to jump just a little.

The doctor was a plump older man, very friendly, and very well liked in this small town. Right now his cheeks had gone from their normally rosy hue to a more desperate white. He was frightened of this man; he had never felt the brunt of Jakobs’ stare but now that it was upon him, it was worse than he had ever thought possible. He was trembling and the sweat began to pour from him in torrents.

Jakobs, realizing the doctor’s fear, grinned. This grin unnerved the poor man further. “Listen doc, something occurred to me today and I need you to do a test on me and my boy.” He sneered as the “my boy” slipped off his tongue. The more Jakobs thought about it, the more he became convinced that he had no children.

“Well, what’s the matter?” stammered the terrified man. “Maybe I should examine you both. Are there symptoms you’re both having?”

“Oh no, doc, see that in itself is the problem. We don’t have the same symptoms. It appears we don’t have anything in common at all. That’s what the test is for.” answered Jakobs, with a menacing look.

“What test would you want me to do?” asked the doctor.

“I would like for you to do a DNA test. I want to know if that shit for brains is really my son.” He stared coldly into the older man’s eyes, silently daring him to argue. He already knew what the results would be but he had to have definitive proof.

“Yes, ok. I will order the kit and have it here in two weeks.” blurted the doctor. He continued “but the results may take four to six weeks to get back.”

“Listen to me, damnit!” He growled. “I ain’t waitin’ no fucking two months.” Jakobs was seconds from strangling the life out of the man.

Then a calming thought came over him. He mumbled aloud. “When I know, really know, I will find out what it’s like not to quit squeezing her throat at the last minute.”

Jakobs smiled a real smile and the doctor did not know what to say or do. He was fighting the urge to piss himself. “Doc, I will be here in two weeks to take the test. You better have it here and be ready.” He continued to smile as he walked out.

“One word of this to your mother and I will beat you for so long the leather of my belt will cry for mercy.” The boy shrank away upon hearing these words.

He took the boy back and they took the test. He was polite to the doctor and acted as if everything were fine. The doctor didn’t know what to make of it. He knew that if the test results were to prove that he was not the father, then someone was going to die. He was afraid to call the police fearing that he would become a target. In the back of his mind he knew that if his wife whored around on him, she would deserve whatever she got. He did nothing.

Jakobs spent the next few weeks beating his wife with more regularity than normal; this actually gave the boy a break of sorts. The boy could hear his mother as she was raped while being strangled, he could hear her gasp for air, hear the pain in her groans.

He would sit and wonder what would happen if one of those times, the air didn’t come. He loved his mother, but he didn’t think of her as a mother. She was merely a silent cell mate. Almost like an older sister in comparison to his father. She was only sixteen when he was born and his father had been thirty.

One day the boy was chopping wood, “Like a faggot” his father had told him, slapping him in the back of the head making him fall over a log.

“Let’s go,” the boy complied, he always did. Trying to avoid incurring the wrath which somehow always came, no matter how hard he tried.

They drove to the doctor’s office. He made the boy stay in the truck. He walked inside, politely nodding to the receptionist and to her surprise actually took a seat.

About five minutes later an elderly woman exited and the doctor beckoned for Jakobs to come back. Once inside, the doctor couldn’t conceal the grim look of foreboding on his face. He pulled a sealed manila envelope from a drawer.

“I have not opened this nor do I care to see the results of it. This is your private information, no one knows what is in here except for a lab tech in another state who tests hundreds of these weekly,” offered the doctor.

“Calm down, doc, I ain’t going to hold you accountable for what’s in here, unless you have something else to tell me.” Jakobs grinned with that old menacing glare that had so thoroughly frightened the doctor on his first visit.

“No sir, I sure don’t,” quickly blurted the doctor understanding what was being implied.

Jakobs opened the envelope and slowly pulled out the results. He scanned the sheet and quickly found what he had been searching for. NEGATIVE MATCH in harsh black letters jumped off the page at him.

He sat there a moment, silently thinking, when the doctor asked, “Everything alright, Mr. Jakobs?”

“Oh, yeah. Everything is perfect. Just what I expected. Thanks again.” Jakobs said as he strolled from the office.

That night was the strangest the boy ever knew. His father seemed down right nice. Of course, his idea of being nice was simply to not be screaming at or hitting anyone. Supper was silent; not even Jakobs spoke. He just sat there eating with a grin on his face the entire time.

Later that night the boy could hear his father starting with his mother as he usually did. This time was different. He actually heard them talking. He couldn’t quite make out what they were saying.

“We’ve been together eleven years now,” Jakobs pondered aloud to his young wife. “I am a bit older than you, ya know?”

She had never heard him speak of such things or in such a manner. Since day one, she knew she was nothing more than his property. She remained silent.

He continued, “When I die will you remarry?”

She couldn’t remember the time he had asked her anything other than a simple yes or no question. She was shocked to have been asked something so important and did not answer right away. She began to pray in the back of her mind that he was dying, cancer, emphysema, anything, she didn’t care. After a moment she answered, “No, I don’t think so.”

Her head was spinning, she felt as if she were lying on a raft in turbulent seas. She was sure that this was some insane dream gone awry. Her husband did not say such things or ask such questions. She almost longed for the rape to begin so they could get it over with, so she could escape to her real dreams.

When she began to think he was no longer going to talk, he asked, “You sure you wouldn’t want to marry the boy’s father?”

She tried to get up but his hands were on her throat before she even got her feet off the bed. She shook her head at him, horrified, knowing that her time on this earth was nearly finished. He strangled her till her eyes began to roll back in her head then he let go. He was well practiced at this from years of torturing her.

She gasped and choked and he even offered her a glass of water to help ease the pain. “Who is he, that’s all I want to know. Give me his name and this will all be over.” demanded Jakobs.

“It was a long time ago, it was a mistake,” she croaked with her bruised vocal chords.

Jakobs grabbed at her throat and she tried to ball herself up tight, to defend herself against him to no avail. He punched her in the side, making her attempt at oxygen even harder. She was on the verge of unconsciousness when he gently started rubbing her side where he had struck her. “I’m sorry, I was only trying to see if your throat was okay.” he lied.

“Jonathan Myers, he moved away several years ago.” she finally answered.

Jakobs smiled, for he knew this man and he also knew that he had moved, but not very far. He would be very easy to find and deal with.

“DO you have anything you want to say before we begin?”

When he looked her in the eyes, she knew that he really was going to kill her.

She fought and she fought like a woman possessed, but she could not free herself from his sadistic grasp. He raped her time and again in every deviant manner he could conceive.

“This is the last time,” he whispered in her ear, “and when I am done with you I am going to kill your son and then I am going to kill your lover.”

She was broken, there was no fight left.

The boy had lain and listened for hours, not understanding what was happening. He knew adults had sex, but he didn’t know the deviant nature and the suffering his mother endured. Not entirely.

He heard the gasping and groaning and as always he waited to hear her catch her breath. This was always the sign that it was over and he could sleep. He listened and he understood at the last second this was not the same. This time she did not regain her breath. The air escaped his mother’s corpse just as his father finished with his carnal and murderous desires.

He was crying and did not hear his father creep into the room where he lay. The light frightened him as it came on, but the sight of his father was far worse. He seemed alien to him.

“I see you heard,” as he sat down at the foot of the boy’s bed. “Your whore momma is dead, and good riddance.”

The boy was in shock and at a loss for what to do. He stared blankly at the side of his father’s sweat-soaked head.

“I found out today why you can’t ever get anything right. It ain’t your fault. You’re an abomination, ya see. Your mother was married to me and fucked some other man. She whored around like a damned prostitute and got pregnant with you. So you’re not my son. I am so glad about that. That is the one good thing to come from this, I suppose. I reckon there ain’t but one humane thing I can do for you, boy.” He rose from the foot of the bed, cracked his knuckles and went for the boy.

Jakobs left the house an hour later and drove on to find Johnny Myers. He lit candles all over the house so they would burn down and ignite papers and things he had placed at the bases of the holders. He needed a little time to get to his third victim in the next county.

Jakobs arrived at the local diner where everyone in the area stopped to get the paper and a cup of coffee in the morning. He waited. At five in the morning, Jonathan Myers entered the cafe. Jakobs saw him. He left his booth, and walked over to meet him at the counter.

“Jonathan Myers?” he asked innocently.

“Yeah, that’s me.” He recognized this man but wasn’t sure from where. “I’m sorry, I forgot your name.”

Jakobs pulled a sheet of folded paper from his pocket and handed it to him. Jonathan began to unfold it, thinking this was a weird encounter at such an hour. Others had gained interest in this exchange and were watching.

Just as Jonathan was getting the paper unfolded, Jakobs said, “You should never forget the face of the guy whose wife you’re fucking.” He said it so calmly that several people watching almost thought it was a joke done in poor taste.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about and what is this you gave me?” replied Jonathan, visibly irritated.

“That is the result from the DNA test I had done on my son. He is not mine. So unless she was fucking more people than just me and you, he is your son.” He paused, and then added cryptically, “Was anyway.”

Jonathan was hit hard by this information. He knew precisely who he was talking about but he was going to play dumb. Being shown the evidence was a big blow and what had he said? “Was?”

“What do you mean was,” demanded Jonathan.

“Well I fucked the female to death, and then I strangled the bastard son until he quick kicking. And by now the entire place is probably nothing more than ashes.” He grinned and looked around at all the eager nosey faces, then added, “That’s what the fuck I mean by was!”

Just then, with twelve sets of eyes glued to him, Jakobs produced a 12″ bowie knife seemingly by magic and stuck it all the way to the hilt under Jonathans chin. He grabbed at it, only aware for half a second, and then fell dead.

Jakobs unceremoniously strolled out of the diner and casually walked to his truck. No one tried to stop him. A few watched out the window to see what he was driving but that was as far as they went. He was picked up thirty minutes later, driving aimlessly and with no destination. He was just relaxing; thrilled at the thought that he had not created an idiot.

As he sat waiting to be transported to his trial he began to think of his father. “Pop,” as Jakobs had called his father, was the hardest man he had ever known. He was grateful for this. His father had taught him well.

Jakobs’ father believed that if you spared the rod in your household, that your wife and children would be spoiled. He applied this belief generously to both of them.

“Boy you have to be tough!” his father would bellow.

“I ain’t gonna stop beating you with this belt until it stops making you cry!”

Eventually after countless beatings he did stop crying. The beatings had continued just as often as before; some days there were even more.

One day for no apparent reason his father stormed in and kicked Jakobs hard in the butt, causing him to fall head long into the wood stove. He gashed his head from the impact and burnt his hand pushing away protecting his face.

Jakobs silently unbuckled his belt as he rose from the floor with his back turned to his father. He heard his father do the same. He heard the old man swing his belt and he allowed the blow to hit where his father intended. In that second Jakobs decided he would never be beaten again.

As he heard his father swing his belt again, Jakobs side stepped and in one fluid motion he yanked his belt free from his pants and swung hard at his father’s head.

They each stood staring one another down. Jakobs saw blood begin to bead across the steadily growing whelp on his father’s face. Jakobs remembered clearly, there was no fear left in him. He was ready to die at that moment. No matter what happened, this was going to be the last time he was going to be hit.

His father was the first to move, he snaked his belt back through the loops that housed it when it was not being used as an instrument of torture.

“Well son, you’re a man now. My job is done.” his father said calmly.

Jakobs just stood there a moment and he to, returned his belt to his pants. He was stunned by his father’s words.

“This is a cruel world son; people will take from you whatever they can. You have to always be on your guard and when you have a son remember how I taught you.” The old man reached in his pocket and produced two ancient looking one hundred dollar bills and handed them to Jakobs. “I put this in my pocket the day you were born, just as my father did for me and his father for him. Take it, it is yours. Eat some supper, pack your things and get out. There ain’t no more I can teach ya son.”

There had been no emotion in his father’s voice but the pride in his eyes was unmistakable. This memory of his father brought a grin to Jakobs’ face.

That was that, he left that night and never saw his father or mother again. Just as he was walking out the door he recalled seeing his mother with tears in her eyes. He didn’t need to cry, he was a man. She was nothing to him after all, just a beast of burden. She was no different than the mules his father kept. He just walked out the door with not a single look back, not even a good bye.

Jakobs was pulled from his thoughts by the clank of a steel door further down the hall. They were on the way to get him. He woke at four that morning and ate breakfast. At five they moved him to a cell near the rear of the prison where there was a contained area for loading and unloading prisoners. It was now six and they were moving him again. Jakobs thought everyone working at the prison was thieves who couldn’t stand to work a real job, so they sucked off the teat of the taxpayers.

He also thought they were all idiots, his trial didn’t start until ten that morning, but they have him getting up at four. He wondered if it were some sort of conspiracy put in place to make sure offenders weren’t clear headed when they faced the judge. He was sure that was the reason.

He wasn’t surprised when they took him out into the cold air of the loading bay a full two hours before his transport was scheduled to leave. The guard, “the biggest asshole in the prison, and that’s including the fags!” Jakobs had informed him after he shoved Jakobs hard into the back of an unmarked police cruiser. His shackles were too tight and he was horribly uncomfortable. He supposed this was intentional. The guard had cranked the car and turned the heat on high. Within 20 minutes Jakobs was sitting in a makeshift sauna. His jumpsuit was sticking to him, sweat issued from every pore.

“Well asshole have all the fun ya want at my expense. It ain’t bothering me none.” Jakobs said out loud to the stifling air of the cruiser.

The radio was on he noticed. The volume was down real low but he was sure if he concentrated and relaxed he could hear it. He would distract himself listening to the music until he could get accustomed to the heat.

His plan worked after a while the heat wasn’t such a bother. He felt it intensify as the sun came out and lit up the black top around the cruiser. It was still tolerable. He found he could easily make out the songs. He only had a problem understanding when the disk jockey was speaking.

Once he could have sworn he heard the disk jockey say something about an outbreak. He just assumed it was a movie promotion or something of that sort. He just waited for more music. He noticed that the station had more talking than music now so he just tuned it out and dozed. He was looking forward to getting on the road and getting this trial behind him. He was guilty he had killed Jonathan Myers. He was going to make sure that the judge, the Myers family, God, and everyone else knew that if he had the chance he would kill him all over again. Scum like that just doesn’t deserve to live.

He was not a religious man, but a contract is a contract. That man had destroyed the contract Jakobs held with his wife. He knew in the old days there wouldn’t have been any questions, as it should be.

It was seven forty when he looked at the cruiser’s clock. He closed his eyes and waited to hear the door open which meant it was time. He dozed off again and when he woke he had a strange feeling. It seemed much later, the sun had moved to far. The clock read nine thirty.

“What the hell?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Where is the asshole who is supposed to be taking me?” he yelled out. No one heard him.

It had grown considerably hotter than it had been when he fell asleep. His jumpsuit was completely drenched. Even his trick for dealing with the heat was little help to him.

“If we ain’t going, take me back to my fucking cell!” Jakobs was furious.

He tried to ignore the clock which seemed to only mock him. The more he looked the slower it seemed to count the minutes. “Some asshole is getting fired over this stupid shit!” he cursed.

By eleven he was really getting worried. He couldn’t understand where everyone had gone. The prison he was in housed thousands of inmates and there were people coming in and out all hours of the day and night.

He knew from previous court appearances that a majority of the employees entered through the gate only forty feet from where he sat cooking.

By noon he was nearly delirious, he had been in this heat for six hours. It had been hot in the beginning, but the temperature had risen as the sun had climbed higher in the sky. Now he found it harder to breathe, but he knew it would get worse as the afternoon progressed. All the while the car continued to blast heat into his claustrophobic confines.

There was no relief; all he could do was wait. He knew the human body is sixty-five percent water and he didn’t know how much more he could sweat out before he succumbed to heat stroke. He had already begun cramping. The spasms would begin in his legs and work their way up causing him to convulse. At this moment he would have welcomed ten beatings for a minute outside of this furnace.

He thought of the foolish idea he had that morning not to drink his juice or coffee and the choice to skip the cereal with milk knowing that they would make you sit for hours without using a restroom, just to be assholes. He would kill for a drink of anything.

He passed out after a series of spasms in his legs. While he was asleep the weather had changed, clouds covered the sky easing the temperature only slightly. Any decrease was a blessing. It had begun snowing around three and the wind began to gust, cooling the interior of the car considerably.

He remained unconscious for nearly four hours. He was awoken by the slamming of a large steel door. He snapped his head looking to see who had made the noise. It was the guard who had placed him in the car ten hours earlier.

Jakobs began slamming his shoulder into the door of the cruiser, yelling as loud as his parched throat would allow. “Hey you fucking asshole! I am dying in here, let me the fuck out!”

The guard heard him and took a few steps towards the cruiser; Jakobs could feel the cool air that would greet him when this asshole opened the door and realized they had majorly screwed up.

The guard came within ten feet of the car and stopped. “Open the fucking door you stupid son of a bitch!” Jakobs demanded.

The guard grinned and it was then Jakobs noticed something wasn’t right about the man. He appeared withered, and for a second Jakobs began to think it wasn’t the guard who had put him in this pressure cooker after all. After closer inspection Jakobs was a bit shaken to realize it was.

“Rot you fucking murderer!” The guard yelled at Jakobs and then stumbled a few steps backwards.  His face was sickly white and his eyes had faded somehow. Jakobs could see there was something all down the front of his shirt.

“Jesus, what the hell is wrong with you man?” Jakobs yelled through the glass. The man didn’t answer he just started back on his original path. He stumbled every few steps, seemingly oblivious to Jakobs pleas to be set free.

Jakobs knew he wouldn’t make it through another day like this in this car. He wasn’t sure how much gas was in the tank. He knew if it ran out then he would be at the mercy of the cold. Cold wasn’t something he could even imagine at that moment.

He yelled and beat on the door with whatever part of him would reach it and still the guard stumbled on. Jakobs was actually scared, not like when he was a boy, this was something he was unfamiliar with. His mortality had never been in such jeopardy.

The guard punched in a security code and went through a gate that led to the employee parking lot. Jakobs watched as the man struggled up the slight incline. “How could they do this, and just what in the fuck is going on?” He demanded from no one.

He watched the guard, with every step his struggle intensified just to stay on his feet. When he was nearly out of sight the guard doubled over and began to vomit furiously. He was holding a low railing which paralleled the incline that led out of the prison loading bay.

Jakobs realized then that the strange stain on the man’s uniform was the same as he was purging. It had an odd color to it, almost green. It made Jakobs feel nauseas watching, but he kept his eyes on the man.

After ten minutes of alternately vomiting and dry heaving the man righted himself. He took two steps then lost consciousness. He fell backwards with no attempt to catch himself and when his head hit the asphalt Jakobs could hear the thud, even at almost a hundred yards.

Jakobs knew that if someone didn’t come along this man was a goner. “This dumbass may have gotten me help after all.” He exclaimed excitedly. “Come on you assholes, I know you’re in there watching the cameras, one of your own just fucked himself up! Come out and help him!” He waited anxiously. No one came.

He was still cramping, but the spasms had subsided considerably and the outside temperature had made the cruiser more tolerable than it had been in almost ten hours.

Jakobs sat and watched as the crimson tide flowed from the man’s skull through the fresh snow. “You rot you fucking asshole!” Jakobs smirked.

Jakobs ran a thousand scenarios through his head attempting to figure out what was going on here. Each idea was less likely than the one before it. For a moment he had convinced himself that they were just playing some crazy joke and getting their kicks out of watching him suffer.

The two best scenarios he could come up with he didn’t think were probable much less possible. “It can’t be a riot, there are no sirens. Besides in a riot this place would be crawling with police and swat teams.” He thought a moment.

“An outbreak, Isn’t that what the DJ said this morning on the radio?” he asked himself. “Now you’re just being stupid. It must be a riot, that guard was probably sick from pepper spray.” Then he came back to his earlier conclusion, “no sirens.”

He got into the most comfortable position his chains would afford and strained to hear the radio. He heard shouting and hysterical chatter. He had to listen a while before he realized it was multiple people. There was one constant voice; this belonged to the disk jockey. The other voices he was hearing were listeners calling in giving their own information per the DJ’s request.

He listened raptly for hours; he could understand almost every word. He was amazed at what he heard and was quietly relieved. “Cooking in this car all day probably saved your life old buddy.” he told himself.

With a rapturous grin on his face Jakobs fell asleep. Despite the cramped car, the heat, his aching muscles, and his shackles he had the best night’s sleep of his life.



(This is my first novel, I began it back in 2001 but did not finish it until 2011 so please forgive me if some of the material is dated. Also, and I beg, keep in mind I have come a long way with my crimes against punctuation since I began on this journey. This is the first 30 pages or so. I hope you enjoy. Any critiques would be greatly appreciated. I will post more as I have a chance to go through and make sure the chapters are legible. I have a horrible habit of thinking faster than I am able to type. Thank you. – JM)



The Beginning 1

Riad woke early as he did every morning, brushed his teeth, showered, and dressed. He quietly made a simple breakfast of sliced pineapple and bananas. He was always respectful to his roommates despite his secret loathing of them both.

He had lived here in this cramped apartment for almost two years as he attended NYU working towards a degree he knew he’d never finish. Riad was a peace loving sort who prayed every night that his people would be free of the infidels’ oppression.

At times he found himself wondering if they were as bad as he had been taught. Then he would remember the flashes and explosions so powerful his hearing had been damaged. This he told his classmates was a hereditary problem.

Then with heart crushing clarity he remembered his mother. The memory of her so fragile, dying in his father’s arms took over. She had a wooden beam deeply lodged in her chest; the pictures flooded his mind. The silent eeriness of it made his heart race and spine tingle even after all these years.

The beam had been driven home by the force of the infidel’s mortar round. Whether human error or an act of nature, the round had missed the warehouse fifty yards away and had blown away the entire corner of his family’s modest home.

His mother had tried to speak but could not form the words. It would have mattered little; he and his father would not have been able to hear. They watched her struggle to breathe her last breaths with destroyed lungs.

He steadied himself, fighting the urge to scream. Hatred hardened his heart. “Yes they are that bad.” He muttered softly under his breath.

He noticed the time and hurried himself. He finished his breakfast and set out just as he had done every weekday for the past two years. It was only five in the morning when he hit the frigid New York streets and he felt revitalized by the brisk air, he kept a quick pace.

He followed his regimen to the minute. He met his train at the usual time, exited at his usual stop. He was known for being one of the first to arrive and last to leave at the school’s massive library. He enjoyed learning and it kept his mind from his most feared enemy: doubt.

He began to study as he had always done but today was of course different than any before. He wondered to himself, will I live through this? He quickly shook this thought off, knowing it wasn’t important. He had a mission and he would do what he was asked no matter what it was.

It was a quarter till seven when the messenger arrived. Riad didn’t know what to make of this man. He was dressed in a canary yellow windbreaker, bicycle shorts, helmet, and gloves, all of which were covered in reflective strips. Riad hadn’t known who would show up, but to trust such delicate information to just any bicycle messenger shocked him.

He signed for the envelope and nonchalantly opened it, feigning interest for the benefit of the nosy librarian who had pointed him out to the messenger. He acted happy as he pulled the card from the envelope.

He said, smiling, “It’s my birthday.”

“Happy birthday,” replied the librarian who went back to her work, disinterested.

Riad had no problem acting; he had been doing so for years. He was after all on the frontlines of the war. He had to do what was expected of him. He had sworn to his fallen mother and the ailing father he had left behind to complete this mission.

The card was one of the musical types and as he opened it he had been afraid it would blare music into the silence of the early morning library, but it had not. It read “Happy birthday son, Love your Mother and Father.”

This made his heart ache. His father had died a year after his arrival in the US. He had been unable to go back for the funeral, fearing it would jeopardize the mission. He scanned the library, making sure no prying eyes were on him. He flipped over the card and saw that where the manufacturer logo should have been, there was instead a fictitious brand name and an address. He gathered his belongings and casually left the library.

He made his way outside, hailed a cab, and went to the address. The cab ride took a long time, which was fine with Riad. He had casually opened a book containing the birthday card and using his thumbnail, tore open the part that normally contained the little device which played the music. He saw that in its place was a small silver key.

“Clever,” he said under his breath.

“Huh,” barked the groggy cabby who looked as if he hadn’t had a day off in weeks.

“Oh nothing, sorry, I was just thinking out loud,” he replied, without a trace of tension in his voice.

He arrived at the address at eight thirty. He paid the cabby, giving him a nice tip.

“Thanks Bub,” retorted the cabby with a grin, “need me to wait on ya?”

Riad replied, “No thanks. I have business to handle here.” I don’t know exactly what business that is, he thought, as the cabby sped off.

He approached the building, which was a plain brick structure with a faded sign that read Jones’s Short Term/Long Term Storage. He entered. There was a reception desk with a grumpy looking old man dozing in an old cushy lounge chair in front of a set of double steel doors.

At the sound of Riad entering the old man looked up and snapped, “Key, where’s your key?”

Riad produced the key. The old man looked it over and handed it back wordlessly, buzzing him through to the storage area. The old man leaned back and began snoring immediately. Riad found this amusing and was grinning as he walked down the narrow corridor towards the locker that matched the number on his key.

The locker was small and the lock made quite a bit of noise, as if it hadn’t been opened in a very long time. Riad imagined it had not been. He knew little of what he was involved in, but he knew that he was not alone. He was comforted to know that many other people just like him, warriors on the front line of this epic battle were following messages this very morning all on different paths driven by faith.

All he knew about what was to come was told to him by a mysterious figure in a dark room four years earlier. “There will be many, and not one of you will know the others involved. This plan was set into motion after the invasion of Kuwait by the Infidel Americans and their supporters. We have been placing people and equipment all over the world since 1993.” He knew that this plan had cost lives, hundreds of millions of dollars, and sixteen years of hard work. He would not fail.

He slowly entered the small storage unit and was convinced there was some sort of mistake. It appeared to be filled with nonsense junk. There were boxes of old clothes, toys, and books. His heart sank. Was this all for nothing? Did someone fail at their portion of the mission? Are we found out? He began sweating, expecting armed assassins to come bearing down on him in a hail of bullets.

He waited a few tense minutes and when nothing happened, he began digging. He inspected box after box and just as he was sure there was nothing of use he saw a box labeled Riad’s Junk tucked away in the back corner. All his fears faded and he knew that once he opened this box there was no turning back. He was filled with strength, knowing that his faith was about to be tested.

As he moved the cardboard box, he found it was bigger than the rest and very heavy, though still manageable. He was very careful with it, not sure what he would find inside. It could be anything, as he had no idea what had been planned for him.

He imagined explosives. That was the simplest way, he had long thought, strap on a bomb and blow myself up somewhere densely populated. He always hoped it wouldn’t be explosives but that was irrelevant. He would do what he must.

He held his breath and opened the box. “Balloons?” He choked. The box was half full of deflated balloons. They were the nice ones you buy for birthdays and anniversaries and such. Pulling the balloons out slowly, looking for some form of instruction, he found a small note taped to the inside of the box which read:

Riad you are a great man and your name will echo through the halls of history through all the ages to come. Keep your faith my brother and you shall be a hero. Fill as many of these as you can carry around with you, release the gas on buses, trains, anywhere the infidels congregate. Do this all this day until you are caught or killed. If you are blessed with one more day, be in Time’s Square at nine am tomorrow. God be with you my friend.

He didn’t know who had written the letter, but it did not matter. He understood secrecy was important so that the architects of this great mission could live on to formulate new scenarios for exterminating the enemy.

He removed all the balloons and saw four helium tanks beneath. He filled and sealed a large bunch of balloons, then tied them in a bunch and added a bow. The old man did not stir as he left and he was careful not to let the door slam.

He waited at the bus stop and whistled Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. He was quite fond of classical music. As the lumbering bus approached, his whistling ceased and his lips expanded into a warm smile for the driver as the doors opened.

He sat in the first open seat he came to, he was all smiles to the other passengers but his insides were churning. He noticed a beautiful blond women sitting nearby. He caught her eye and she smiled sweetly at him. He let his mind wander for a moment, imagining her holding him, telling him how much she loved him. He saw their children being born and growing. He saw their future house and their blissful happiness.

The woman noticed he was still watching her as he was lost in his thoughts and her smile broadened. Just as quickly as he let his mind wander he snapped back into reality. Just for a moment, the woman saw the vicious intent in his eyes but he recovered with a quick smile. The young woman did not look at him again and exited at the next stop.

He admonished himself silently. How could you be so foolish, she is as bad as any of them, she may as well have launched the mortar that killed your mother!  They are the enemy and they are not to be trusted!

With that he punctured the first balloon. He went from bus to bus and train to train, careful he did not pop more than one in front of the same people, in order to avoid suspicion.

He traveled all over the city, visiting parts he had never been to before, often feigning disdain if anyone noticed one of his slackening balloons. He returned eight times that day each time carrying away a fresh bunch of balloons and a box of junk to make it appear he was just emptying the storage unit. The people running the place did not seem to care one way or the other.

Riad mused at how easy this all was more than once that long day. They don’t care enough to notice what is going on around them. These people deserve whatever they get.

In the afternoon he stood in a busy subway tunnel releasing balloon after balloon filled with what, he did not know, nor did he care. He had developed a cough that was mild at first and progressively worsened. At first he thought that it was being out so much that day that was making him sick, but then it occurred to him that it was most likely what he was unleashing upon the unsuspecting infidels. They are so prideful, they believe they can attack us in our homes but are safe to come and go as they please.

He spent twelve hours doing as his instructions had bade him until he was too sick to even think of continuing. He had noticed a great deal of sneezing and coughing much like his own during the last few hours.

He returned home at nearly eleven that night. His roommates were both home but did not greet him. They were already asleep. He thought this to be strange, considering neither of them ever went to bed this early. As he dozed off in between his own coughing and sneezing fits, he could have sworn he heard the same sounds of sickness coming from both of his roommates’ bedrooms.

When he woke the next morning he was surprised to see it was already bright outside. He had never overslept in the two years he had lived here. He had trouble getting up and getting to the bathroom. He was running a high fever and sweat poured from his body. There was no sound in the apartment except the wheezing coming from the other two bedrooms.

The gravity of what he had done slowly began to set in. It was obvious that both his roommates had the same symptoms as him and neither of them used the bus or subways. He began to wonder just what was in those helium tanks.

He took a much longer than usual shower, trying to let the steam clear his sinuses but to no avail. He got dressed, but did not eat. He left without waking his roommates. Despite years of acting as their friend, they were nothing to him, just two more enemies that needed to be dealt with.

He left the apartment at seven am and it took him an hour and a half to walk to Times Square. This walk would normally take him no more than an hour but he was very tired this morning. He didn’t want to ride the bus or to take the train so he just walked. He noticed even for this hour there were fewer people than normal. Another thing he noticed were the amount of sirens he heard. More than half the people he did see all seemed to be in the throes of a horrible flu just like him.

Riad found an unoccupied bench in Times Square and waited. He prayed silently to himself. He could not stop coughing but from what he had seen this morning he had done his job well. He smiled despite the fever and pain in his chest. At five minutes to nine a man sat down beside him.

“Riad?” The man asked.

This startled Riad and he slowly replied, “Yes.”

“I only received your name this morning in a note I found with this briefcase, it said that you would be here by nine and that if you had done your job well you would be very sick. My friend I know you did your job well because I am very sick also.”

“I thought this was all to be secret?” replied Riad, a bit shocked.

“I know, my friend. The note told me to explain that I was to meet you before the end because true warriors like us deserve better than to die alone with nothing but the company of infidels.”

Neither of the two sick men spoke again, they just sat and prayed silently for their remaining moments. Each man knew that at exactly nine am they would be at their god’s side. They both sat sickly smiling as the small nuclear device detonated. Times Square was vaporized.

Simultaneously in major cities all across the world similar situations unfolded. Any country allied with the US was attacked, but none to the extent of the US. There were attacks in thirty states. Within minutes the news spread around the globe. Fifteen minutes after the detonations there was a broadcast accepting responsibility.

The static cleared and the familiar face of Osama Bin Laden appeared. The message was short and disturbing. “American Infidels, you and your allies will all be destroyed. The first phase of our attack was more successful than we could have dreamt, the Infidels shall fall!”

The world was thrown into a state of panic. The highways and interstates around the world became jammed with panicked people fleeing for the safety of the countryside. They believed they were escaping certain nuclear death if they left the cities.

Their plan could not have worked better. The millions of people fleeing carried with them a death sentence far worse than they could have imagined. The virus spread like wild fire. There was a complete collapse of emergency services, crash victims died in their vehicles, house fires burned unchecked, and all semblance of order collapsed.

The National Guard was ordered to block all interstate traffic but it was futile. In many cases the guardsmen were over powered by armed civilians. When they tried to defend themselves with force, they were gunned down. There was no stemming the flood of sick from swarming the rural countryside. It was hope that drove them on, and it was hope that sentenced millions more to a horrific death.

By the time the government knew what was happening, it was far too late. The president issued a plea to cease all movement, warning that traveling was only going to spread the virus faster and increase the mortality rate. His plea went unheeded. It seemed none would be spared.

The virus acted fast. Anyone who contracted it only believed they had the flu at first. It progressed so rapidly that by the time the sick realized it was something worse than the flu they were already in the throes of a fever-induced delirium. This aided in the spread of panic. The infected, suffering from diminished mental capacity, resorted to the most basic instincts: fight or flight.

Riad died without knowing what he had released on the American people, but knowing there would be casualties. He believed these casualties would be localized. When the stranger with the briefcase arrived he understood there was a bomb inside but he had not realized that it was nuclear.

The thousands of people he imagined dying were only a miniscule drop in the ocean of deaths that he actually caused. Not even the architects of this intended genocide could have truly grasped its scope.

The bombs had killed hundreds of thousands, being detonated simultaneously at the beginning of the work day in dense areas as they were. The true genius of the plan was made evident during the following days after the explosions.

Within three days American losses had reached 50 million people. These numbers were impossible to substantiate because the infrastructure had all but collapsed.

There were vague stories before the networks went off the air that this was an accelerated form of the Ebola virus. These stories raised more questions than answers. Millions more died each day. In a healthy adult it took three to four days from infection to death. Within two weeks, ninety percent of all human life was snuffed out. This dramatic turn of events was something no one could have foreseen.



He stood proud, even as imminent death approached. Slowly with great effort, “As you can see no one is immune to these, most unholy of events. Millions of our friends, neighbors,” briefly he paused, choking back tears, “and loved ones have already fallen to the disease that is spanning the globe.”

The last words he had spoken seemed to add weight to his withering frame and he fell to his knees. The podium obscured the view, but it was more than obvious the President was vomiting. The dying man gasped for air, unable to catch his breath. Uniformed doctors, most of whom appeared to be in no better condition than their prestigious patient, rushed to his side. Suddenly without any warning the network feed was cut, ending the last Presidential speech ever to be given.

Alex sat silently hanging on every word. Teary eyed in disbelief he vaulted off the couch towards the TV, aloud he said, “This isn’t real, this is like that comedian, yeah that’s it, the crappy comedian who does the presidential impersonations. That’s not really the President there; this is some sick bastard’s idea of a joke. How could I have been so stupid, it’s obvious he’s a fake, he’s too small, doesn’t have the right skin tone and the voice is way off.” Self-assured this was nothing more than a hoax he changed the channel.

Alex checked all 8 of the stations his television would pick up and was horrified to see that every channel was either static or an emergency services message. His assurance fled him as quickly as they had come. His hope waned, only to be replaced with despair and confusion.

Shaking violently, as he was known to do when reason had begun to fail him, Alex screamed, “This is America, this shit doesn’t happen here!”

He jumped to his feet and half ran, half stumbled to the rear of the house. He stormed into the cramped bathroom grabbing the door to the medicine cabinet, knocking over a ceramic vase which shattered as it hit the tank of the toilet. Ceramic shards rained down around his bare feet, slicing the exposed skin. Oblivious, he continued his search. All that was going through his mind was that he needed his pills.

He had taken himself off these pills as he had done every other time they put him on something new, always giving him the spiel about how he needed to give them a few months to start working properly. He gave it a few months, went as long as four on these. They too, only seemed to aggravate his symptoms more than help. The only good side effect, he could see, was that they were capable of causing him to sleep for extended periods of time. He once slept thirty-six hours after taking only four. At this moment, all he wanted was to go to sleep and forget the world. He would work this all out when He woke up.

They were not where he remembered leaving them. He slammed the medicine cabinet so violently the mirrored door shattered raining even more razor sharp projectiles down on himself. This to, he seemed not to notice.

He tore back towards the front of the house. He over turned furniture, smashed holes in the walls, and launched any inanimate objects which dared be in his way.

Entering the kitchen he began slinging the entire contents of cabinets onto the floor with one sweep of his broad arm. To him the time spent searching seemed more an eternity than the 20 minutes it actually was. He jerked the microwave away from the wall with more force than was necessary. It flew nearly to the other side of the kitchen.

He found what he’d been searching for behind the microwave. “How in the fuck did you get there?” He yelled at the bottle, which he then opened and dry swallowed six 300 mg. tablets of  Seroquel.

Alex, still very much in the midst of a psychotic episode, calmed down considerably, “More than enough, I will sleep a full day, two if I’m lucky.” Talking to the wake of his most recent destructive outburst, he continued. “Just enough time for a smoke,” he told the ruined kitchen.

He righted the overturned couch and sat down. He then noticed that the emergency services loop had gone to static. The pills had begun very quickly to do their magic. He hadn’t eaten in days so there was nothing in his stomach to slow down his digestion. He got up, nearly falling over the battered coffee table and clicked off the TV. He made his way back to the couch, dropped onto it, and with cigarette and lighter in hand passed out.

He dreamed terrible dreams, but the one that He was having now seemed too good to be true. It was real to Him as His dreams always seemed to be. He was with his brother in Cleveland. His brother, a guitarist was on the road and would have been in Cleveland that very night.

There were no diseased people here, everyone seemed happy to see him. In his dream he was thrilled, the concert was packed and going great. Everything felt fine to him, which was quite unusual. At that moment he was happier than he had been in years. It had been a very long time since last he had dared going into a crowded place. It had been two full years since he’d last even been inside a grocery store, but this night, this concert, everything was perfect.

He began to notice that the crowd was all people he knew. These were all the people he cared most about in the world, all his friends, and loved ones were gathered here. Then for a second he thought he glimpsed His Grandmother, who had raised him since he was seven years old.

At first, it didn’t seem very odd to him that she’d be amongst all those he cared about. It struck him suddenly, his stomach dropped as if he were on a roller coaster. “She’s dead, been dead five years now. That was just my imagination.” He blurted. As if on cue, she appeared before him, an apparition breaking through the crowd. She was all smiles and warmth.

“GET OUT!” She screamed. He stumbled backwards towards the bar, blindly landing on a bar stool. She had changed; he was in shock to see the woman he had most admired was now a grotesque rotted version of herself.

The band stopped playing; this drew his attention in the direction of the stage where he saw what he feared more than death itself. His brother was there holding his guitar in a state best described as living death. “Rick, oh God, Rick, what has happened to you?”

“It is ok little brother, I’m ok now, but you need to go,” said the animated corpse of his brother.

They were all dead all around him, everyone he knew. It was not fear that welled inside him, it was sorrow and shame that they were all dead and he was not. Even in his own dreams he had no sense of self-worth.

He began to cry, and the rapidly decomposing crowd all gave sympathetic looks. They began to fall apart silently with no signs of discomfort or even sorrow, as if they were all resigned to their fates. Most were still smiling when their legs crumbled under the weight of their torsos.

The floor appeared to be no floor at all but some benevolent entity greedily swallowing up all he loved. They fell into the all-encompassing darkness. The darkness was spreading. There were no sounds other than a giggle which he was sure had come from his long dead sister. She died along with his parents in the crash, which altered his waking life forever.

Now there were only four remaining. Still on the stage were his brother and the only three other people he had spent any real time with since leaving High School. He began to cry harder looking at these four people he was now sure he’d never see again.

Rick spoke, “Alex you have to leave, you can’t stay in this place, all that made it home is gone. It’s a new world for you now. Live, you hear me? Live.”

“I don’t understand, what happened to you, why are you dead,” He begged.

“That’s how it has to be,” Rick had tears in his eyes but his voice never faltered. “It’s now the perfect world for you Bro, no people,” at this the three people who knew him best standing just behind his brother laughed.

In unison the three said, “Love ya man,” graciously they stepped off the stage and into the darkness before Alex had to witness their decomposing any further.

“I have to go, I love you Brother, take care of yourself, and no matter what, don’t forget to leave,” Said his dead brother. He added earnestly, “It will be hard, but I know you can do it.”

“I…I… don’t understand,” he was cut off as his brother cranked the volume on his guitar stack and started playing a song Alex knew well, Seasons In The Abyss, by Slayer. Still playing with a last look at his brother and a nod he jumped into the darkness.

He was falling. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been falling, but usually he had panicked at this feeling while dreaming. This time it was different, as if he were comforted by his own weightlessness. After the dream and the sensation of falling ebbed away he slept peacefully for 8 more hours.

It was a day like any other day, the sky was visible through the smudged windows of his little room. The somber grey clouds were motionless. With effort, he rolled on his side to see the time and to find a cigarette. He wasn’t sure how he’d made it to his room, but that was normal. He often found himself in different places than he’d fallen asleep.

Seroquel sleep was his favorite sleep; he often woke with his mind a blank slate. He rubbed his temples, trying to remember. “What happened last night?” Then as in answer a sharp pain tore through his head starting at the nape of his neck continuing around to his eyes. As his eyes blurred and tears began to form it all came back to him. “How did this happen?” He yelled at the ceiling.

He remembered the dream with perfect clarity, his brother, grandmother and all his dead friends trying to warn him away, he whispered, “But from what?”

He got up stumbled through the house towards the living room, all the while surveying the damage from the previous night’s rampage. He turned on the T.V. and searched the channels, all were gone. Static is the only reward his search provided.

“How could this be?” he asked aloud.

“No one to run the stations you goof ball,” he heard his brother say in the back of his head.

Checking the stereo He only found an emergency services loop, “By order of the President of the United States of America, all citizens are to cease all movement. The United States has been attacked by terrorists using small nuclear devices, as well as biological weaponry. The only way to stop the spread of this virus is to cease all movement. If you believe yourself to have been infected, do not seek medical help. Find a secure location and quarantine yourself. Seeking help will only spread the disease further. There is no cure; I repeat there is no cure.”

“FUCK YOU!” He yelled, which freshened the unbearable pain in his head. He paced from room to room trying to grasp what had happened. All his thoughts were confused glimpses of horror fantasy coated in a thin layer of reality.

“I’m going crazy”, he chanted to himself under his breath. He walked through the house, looking in every closet, every cabinet, and drawer, as if searching for some lost artifact of sanity, he collapsed on the couch.  The pills he had taken the night before had not yet run their course. He dozed fitfully.

Half asleep he heard a loud bang from the rear of the house. Alex jumped off the couch in a run, tripped over the over turned coffee table and slammed into the TV stand knocking the television to the floor. Stunned he regained his footing and picked his way to the front door.

Silently he begged God that the noise had been His brother. “Rick, Bro is that you?” No answer came as he stood on the porch looking around. Then he heard it again, this time he heard breaking glass.

He couldn’t contain his excitement, “Bro where are you?” he ran, nearly falling as he rounded the corner at full speed. To his disappointment, the yard was empty.

It was cold out; the calm was eerie this early March morning. Alex was grief stricken; in that moment it occurred to him he would never see his brother again. Then he remembered the noise. He slowly continued around his house, near the rear there were three hard cover novels on the ground.

“Alex, over here,” Issued a raspy voice he nearly recognized.

“Who is it?” He asked startled as he turned slowly around.

There in the window of his neighbor’s house, was what looked like a zombie. The once robust family man looked like something from a late night sci-fi marathon. The discharge appeared green in the early morning light and steamed as his neighbor leaned out the window to vomit. It oozed from his nose, ears, and mouth. The eye sockets seemed empty from where Alex stood. He needed to get closer to see if this man were really alive. Being prone to hallucinations, as he was, he wasn’t sure if what he was seeing was real.

Alex had known John for five years and was sure this wasn’t his neighbor. This was not the man he had sat with and watched his two little girls play in the yard. Alex remember watching, longing for a family of his very own. He thought this is someone else for sure. I just saw John last week; this poor guy is at least 50 lbs. lighter. He began to walk closer.

“Stop,” yelled His neighbor. The exertion obviously pained him; he groaned and began dry heaving.

“I, I,” stuttered Alex, realizing his folly, but could not think of what to say.

After gaining his composure, as well as he was able,”Alex is your phone still working?”

“I don’t know, I have a dial tone but I haven’t talked to anyone in several days. My brother is out of town,” answered Alex. “He should be calling soon.” He added.

“I’m going to call you in a minute, I need to talk to you, it’s important.” He wheezed. There was pity in John’s voice; he knew what Alex was denying. The chances that his brother was still alive in all this were very unlikely.

Alex was back on the couch where he spent most of His time, “waiting to die,” he had mused to a friend of his and his brother. He had laughed at the time, but all the while, in the back of his mind, he believed it to be true.

After about five minutes the phone rang, “Hello John?”

“Yeah, how you holding up Alex, I would have called sooner but I thought you left with your brother.” John was having trouble catching His breath.

“I’m sorry, are you guys ok?” He felt like such an ass for not checking on John and his family.

“We were all infected, my girls and my wife died earlier this morning.” John’s voice had diminished to the point where Alex had to turn the volume up on the phone to full just to hear him.

Alex was stunned, again he thought of how he had envied this man for all he had. Now this same man, his only friend beyond the members of his brother’s band, had lost everything. He was now losing his life. Tears began to fill His eyes, as he thought of John’s daughters and how young they were.

“John, I am so sorry,” Alex felt that to be inadequate to tell a man who just lost two children and His wife, but was at a loss of what else to say.

“Thank you,” John was weeping, and just holding the phone up was more than a task for him, but he needed help so he continued. “Alex, how are you feeling, are you showing any symptoms?”

Alex thought a minute, his head was pounding. This was more than he could deal with, he thought, yet he was here. “I have a bad headache, but that’s normal. Other than that I feel fine.” He felt foolish complaining of a headache to a dying man.

“When was the last time you were around anyone? Try and remember, even if it was just a quick trip to the store.”

“It’s been at least 4 days, the day my brother left. I went to the store for smokes.” He answered.

“That’s great Alex, you have been spared.” John choked. Although his entire family was dead, and he too would be following shortly, he meant it.

Alex had always been kind in their brief talks over the years. John knew he was troubled, he drank too much, and listened to heavy metal music to loud. John also knew that if ever there was a problem; Alex was the first one at his door to help. He thought of the time his wife was hospitalized for two weeks due to complications with her pregnancy. Alex had done all his yard work, made sure his trash was taken out, and came by at least once a day to see if he needed anything. He thought to himself, not everyone would agree, but I couldn’t have picked a better person to survive.

“But everyone else is dying, what am I supposed to do?” Alex was trying to stifle his audible sobbing.

“Listen to me Alex, God doesn’t make mistakes. You have been spared for a reason. There will be other survivors, not everyone will die. The people who survive this must ban together and help each other. You must go and seek them out.” John spoke, as reassuringly as his failing health would allow.

“What about my brother, I can’t leave, what if he comes back and I am gone?” Alex began to feel dizzy, thinking he would surely pass out. He closed his eyes waiting for it to pass.

“Alex, you should write him a letter and tape it to the door, tell him you have gone to find other survivors and that he should do the same.” Replied John, he then added, “He will find you, if he makes it, he will find you.” John thought this is not the time for sugar coating.

John began to throw up uncontrollably, he fell to the floor with a bang, leaving Alex feeling hopeless, not being able to help. Alex waited for quite a long while, but could still hear John gasping so he remained on the line.

“Alex, you still there,” gasped John, winded but still alive.

“Yeah, I’m still here,” relieved to hear John’s voice, even as desperate as it sounded.

“Alex I want you to take my truck. Grab my camping gear from the shop and get out of here,” he then hesitated, before saying, “but I need a favor first.”

“Anything John, just ask,” quickly replied Alex.

“I want to be with my family in heaven. Suicide is a sin, being merciful is not.” John had more despair in his voice than Alex had thought possible before now.

“OK John,” he answered before what was asked, had had time to sink in.

“Out in my shop is a gun safe, take everything in it, if not for protection, you will have to hunt.

“Are you sure this is what you want,” praying he would say no.

“There is no one else to ask, all our neighbors are either dead, or they left.” Then as an afterthought added, “those that left are most likely dead as well.”

“I will do it,” God only, knows how, he thought.

“Alex after you are finished and ready to leave, set fire to the house. I can’t stand the thought of my family rotting away like this. The fire will kill the virus.

“John, I wish this hadn’t happened, I am scared, and I am so sorry for what has happened to you guys.” Alex cried.

“Listen Alex, you will be fine, and what happened was not you’re doing. The signs were there all along, but no one thought it was possible. You are a good man; I want you to get away. Go west; get somewhere where there are no buildings and no people. Take all you find with you and start over, but don’t forget us. Tell your children what happened, so they will know better than to do what we have done. Alex, remember this was an attack. Sooner or later the ones who did this will show up, if they survived.” John was becoming delirious from the pain, and was barely audible now.

“John I will never forget you and your family, you had what I’ve always dreamt of having.” Alex was crying again as he said this.

“You will go on to have beautiful children, and you will be a great father,” whispered John through his own tears.

John gave Alex the combination to his gun safe, and told him where he had his spare key to the shop hidden. After telling him where he’d be in the house, he hung up the phone. He could no longer breathe without serious pain and talking was something he’d never do again.

Alex went into the shop. He felt as if he were dreaming all this, for surely this couldn’t be real. He opened the safe, took out a rifle. He loaded it with bullets from a fresh box stored neatly at the bottom.

He found the spare keys to John’s truck. On the key ring was a picture of John’s little girls, forever frozen in time. Their smiles encased in the plastic picture holder his wife had given him. The sight of those little girls, so happy, so far away from where they were now made fresh tears well in Alex’s eyes. Maybe it was John’s words, but at that moment Alex felt a strong desire to be gone from this place.

He only took one gun, he’d come back for the rest of the things shortly. He had something to do. He went into his house and got a cigarette and walked back outside. Slowly he skirted the lifeless bushes, it was still very cold and they had not yet awoken from their winter slumber. He slowly approached his neighbor’s home and made his way around to the master bedroom’s window.

Clearly he could see John through the window kneeling on the foot of the bed praying over the bodies of his wife and children.

Alex slowly raised the rifle to his shoulder; looking through the scope he targeted John’s head. He knew that if he hit him anywhere else or merely wounded him that John would lay there suffering even more than he was now. There would be no way to enter to complete the task without getting infected. The rifle shook in his inexperienced hands. He was sweating despite the cold, he attempted to steady himself, then prepared to fire.

“God help me please,” he squeezed the trigger expecting this to finally be over. Nothing happened; he went weak in the knees nearly falling to the ground. “You gave your word to your friend, now do this!” He demanded of himself.

Surprised at the authority in his own voice he checked the rifle and realized the safety was on. He raised the rifle once more sighting his friends head and slowly squeezed the trigger. As if he knew it were time, John raised his hands towards heaven. The report was deafening, it appeared to Alex that in death John had embraced his family as he fell forward. His friend would no longer suffer.

The sound had scared Alex; he stood for a moment with silent ears ringing. Suddenly he became stricken with the fear that he must be having a psychotic episode. If he had hallucinated all these events, that meant he had just murdered his neighbor. He waited barely breathing like a deer in headlights. He was expecting at any moment for his neighbors to come running down the road screaming, “Murderer! Murderer!” This he even pictured in his mind.

After five minutes or five hours he did not know, there were still no sirens, no police, nothing at all. He was all alone.

Aloud he said, “This is such a small town, if everyone here is dead, then everyone must really be dead.” His own words chilled him.

He stood frozen a few minutes more then slowly walked back to the shop. He began packing what he needed into John’s truck.

He checked every house on his block, yelling from a distance but there were no replies. In a few windows he saw that the corpses of the old and young were indistinguishable from one another. We are all the same in death he thought, just bodies. He could see from the distorted faces that several had died in pain, he felt a twinge of guilt. Then he whispered, “What was I to do shoot everyone on my street? A sane person wouldn’t be able to handle that.”

He wrote his brother a lengthy letter explaining what had happened, and detailing where he planned to go. Then he burned every house on his street except his own. He climbed into John’s truck and drove to the end of the street and just sat and watched the fires. He hoped and prayed someone would see the flames and come, no one did. After an hour of waiting, he left the place he had called home for over twenty years. He never saw it again.


I read an interesting post today regarding success and the negative impact it has on the creative mind. If you paint a beautiful picture and no one sees it does that make it any less beautiful? No. This lady has a positivity flowing from her that is almost intimidating. I suggest checking it out. She is brilliant.

So… I am going to post chapter by chapter a book I wrote, it is unedited and I am sorry to say I am no editor sir. (or madam) …but I shall post it just the same, I will try and edit the obvious insane mistakes and I will post them individually as I make progress. Feel free to comment and lecture, rant, or heckle as you see fit. I can take it, I am a Gigantor after all…