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A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 44

Father Enrico was rushed into the harbor door of Desperation, just behind Ally as the one eyed man held the door open. He, along with two other heavily armed men Enrico marked as deputies, guarded the door as they were pushed inside. A clean shaven man in a large hat, impeccably dressed, was introduced to them as Mayor Clement, and he guided Ally by the arm deeper into the town. Enrico only half listened as she begged to be allowed to the top of the wall, to watch that damn fool Morgan. He has seen him turn back towards that stagecoach. Back towards the woman and the downed rider.  Part of the old Enrico pulled at him, marveling at the man's selflessness. An older part of him though still feared that kind of bravery. He'd seen what happened to brave men, and it wasn't something noble at all.

He reached to absently clutch at his rosary beads, an age long habit it seemed since assuming this face, but remembered he'd tossed them into the river. He let his arm fall to his side as Clement lead him and the agitated Ally towards the hotel, with a promise of hot food and drink for information about what laid beyond the walls.  As the walked towards the hotel, Clement motioned for the one eyed man, whom he called Van Cleft, to watch the walls and inform him. Van Cleft spat a large hunk of tobacco on the ground and gestured to the other two armed men to follow. As they headed towards the main gate, Enrico followed Clement into the hotel.

There were several people inside, most looking haunted or hurt. One man had a heavily bandaged hand, while several women looked like they had been crying. Clement was all cheer and smiles though as he called out to the heavyset woman at the counter to bring some food and drink for his guests. She nodded, her tight, wrinkled face was lined with worry, but he couldn't blame her for feeling that way.

Within minutes she had brought each of them a plate of food. Two strips of steak and beans for Enrico, and the haunch of a chicken and some small potatoes for Ally. Clement drew a large beer and brought the two of them water, which Ally gulped down. Clement then started asking questions. Ally didn't want to talk about what she'd seen, but Enrico told the story of his parish and the death of all his brothers. He left parts out, particularly where he had left all those men to die. He wondered why he didn't feel more shame or guilt at the matter, but if he was honest with himself, he didn't feel anything anymore. Unless empty was a feeling. He talked for about 15 minutes, until Ally spoke up, again asking for information on Morgan.

"My dear, my dear, Van Cleft will most assuredly fill us in on any information. He is a man without repute. Since this dastardly outbreak this man has come be be our stoutest protector! "

It was only moments later when Van Cleft came in, followed by his two armed cronies, and another man that Enrico didn't recognize. He was a tall, with blond hair. His eyes were immedately drawn to the twin Pearl Handled Colts, set in a crossdraw about his waist. Fancy guns, and the man had the look of someone who could use them.

It was then that Ally screamed.

End of Line.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 43

The smell was the first thing Eva's noticed. A cloying kind of rotten spoil, a decay that wouldn't seem to leave her nose. She curled her lip and tried to force it out by pulling a hankerchief around her face but the smell permeated everything. She could feel the cold tendrils of fear around her heart as she spurred her horse towards the mass of undead in front of her. She drew out her pistol and glanced over her shoulder at Moore. The damnable fop had nearly passed out when she told him what she intended, but true to his word here he was. Taking a glance back at the stage one last time,  she saw sweet old Bartley holding his hat down as maneuvered his team down the switchback.the stranger, Johnson, was leveled on the roof top, holding the scatter gun at the ready, his precious saddle bags tied around his neck.  That sonuvabitch rubbed her the wrong way, she could feel it deep inside. He would try something. She only hoped that it would be after they reached Desperation.

Eva turned her attention back to the matter at hand, the giant mass of walking dead that mounted in front of her. She cleared leather on her Colt and drew aim on one of the creatures. He was a huge bastard, shirtless, with mottled black and green skin. His distended jaws worked up and down over a a slaver of bile. She watched coldly as his head exploded into bloody fragments and took aim again. She continued to fire intermittently as she urged her horse off the road to town. Eva glanced over at Thomas, who was doing the same thing, though with far worse aim, on the other side. The plan involved them drawing as many of the monsters as they could off the main road, drawing them out into a large circle before looping back around and repeating the process, allowing the stage to get a relatively clear path to town. Eva cut hard out in to the surrounding farmland, not allowing herself to get to far ahead of the surge of creatures. She calmly reloaded her pistol, snapping off another shot at one of the beasts as it got to close and urged the horse around. She could see Moore in the distance race his horse back around. He hadn't taken it out far enough before looping back, even from this distance Eva knew that the monster were too close. Bartley knew it too, she could see him urge the horses to move even faster. That's when her nightmare came to light.

Moore brought his horse racing by the stage and Eva saw Johnson stand up. The scream caught in her throat as she watched in horror as Johnson bore down on him, the thunder of his gun echoing through the valley floor. Time seemed to slow down to a crawl as she watched Moore tumble from his horse, near the river of undead that seemed to flow in behind him. A scream ripped from her throat but she couldn't hear it, pure instinct driving her. She kicked her horse hard, jolting as she surged forward. Her gun snapped up as she tried to draw a bead on Johnson, but her shots went wide as she didn't have the range yet. Eva looked on again as he busted Bartley across the face and jumped from the top of the stage onto one of the horses pulling the wagon. Eva kicked at one of the creatures as she cut across the plain, feeling the beasts claws rub ineffectively across the hard leather of her boots. It sent a shiver up her spine, but she forced it down, focusing on the stage, on her father.

She reared the horse hard as she watched Johnson bullet from the horse train. He held a knife in one hand as he slapped the rump of the lead horse with the flat of the blade. His horse veered towards town, while the other three horses bolted in a panic, the severed ends of the bridal and reins flopping behind the panicked creatures.   The last image she saw was his maniacal smile as he hunched over his mount, as he gave her a jaunty wave. She fired off a shot that went wide, but swung her gun around as she drew up on the slumped figure of Thomas. Two of the herd had advanced close and she fired quickly. She dropped one with her first shot, but it took two to take the second down. Eva slammed her Colt into her holster and leaned over in teh saddle. She grabbed Thomas by his coller and pulled him over. He was clutching his neck and Eva looked in horror as she watched blood spurt sporadically from the wound. His eyes were wide and he'd truned an unnatural shade of white. She didn't have to be a doctor to know that kind of wound was usually fatal. He clutched at the wound, trying to stem the flow of blood. His voice sounded like wet gravel, as he sprayed flecks of blood with each word.


Eva's eyes went wet, and she felt a lump in her throat. She never really liked or respected the damn fool, it was only now, only at the end, that she realized why her father had kept him around all these years. He really did love her. '

Thomas rolled over and pulled out his gun. The herd had drew in close, mere paces away from them now.


He fired at the mob, who had caught the smell of blood on him and surged towards him. Eva spurred her horse, looking away. She couldn't close out the sounds though, the roars and gurgles of the creatures. It wasn't until she heard the empty click of Thomas's gun that she felt the hot tears on her face.

End of Line.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 42

Dawn had come, or what past for it these days anyway. Cody watched the cold black orb rise from the east and hung his saddlebags over one shoulder. He still held the scatter gun in his free hand as he headed towards the stage. He'd hoped to be able to talk Moore or Eva into him letting ride one of the horses, or worse case, ride double with one of them. He felt a flush of heat as he imagined Eva's tight breeches rubbing against him on the horse and suppressed a smile. He owed that bitch one and she was sure gonna pay for punching him. Still his murder of their friend Rex last night had not endowed him into their good graces and he was consigned to ride with that fat tub of lard Bartley atop the stage. Having a horse would have made things easier, but in the end, it wouldn't matter much.

Eva's plan had him atop the stage to protect it. Ideally he could fire at any of the undead that got to near the horses or the coach, protecting Bartley and the old man, allowing them to focus on moving the old stage with as much speed as possible.  That fossil, Caleb, hadn't liked Eve's intention of riding out in front of the stage with Moore, who'd gone white as a ghost at the mention of it, Her plan was to ride in large circles, drawing some of the monsters away, giving them a clearer path to Desperation. ll him what to do. It wasn't a terrible plan and that gauled Cody almost as much as having to listen to a woman tell him what to do. He grimaced as he approached the coach. There were four horses drawing the stage, and Cody marked the reins and truss in his mind as he passed by. He stashed his knife loose into the top of his boot and threw his bags and the scatter gun onto the roof of the stage before climbing up himself.

This will still work he told himself. He took a small piece of rope he'd stolen from the camp earlier and used that to tie the saddle bags around his shoulders, making sure they were nice and tight and wouldn't fall off. He made sure the flaps were securely shut as well, he didn't want the bag falling off when he made his move. He'd worked too damn hard for this money to fuck it all up now. He laid down on the stage and checked the loads in his twin Colts and the breech of the scatter gun, wrapping his feet through the edge of the railing for support.

Cody watched as Eva saddled her horse, fighting the primal urges that he still hadn't tended to since killing Rex last night. The tight suppleness of her pants, the curve of her chaps over her thighs, the quick glimpse of her cleavage from a button loosened top, all of that set a boil in Cody's gut. He bit his lip and looked west, towards the walls of Desperation and drew a deep breath. He was so close to the route to Old Mexico now, so close, he couldn't screw it all away now for a roll in the hay with some bitch. The rest of the crew mounted up as Cody fought to regain the cold calm that usually came before a heist. He needed to be on guard, he needed to be steady. He needed to be clear. He gently rubbed the pearl hilt of his beloved Colt and felt that calm click into place, a cold, remorseless detachment he'd first discovered long ago. He was ready.

Eva called out the charge and he felt the old stage lurch to life, Bartley spurring the horses on as Eva and Thomas Moore vaulted out ahead. Moore looked less pale today, he'd turned a sickly green shade instead and held that shiny gun so tight his knuckles were the only thing that even remotely resembled his pallor from the night before. The stage lurched down the switchback path of the bluff face,winding towards the bottom. Eva and Moore didn't really burst ahead until about the last quarter of the trail, Eva hollering out first at a breakneck pace. She was the first to fire and Cody looked impressed as she caught one of the monsters square in the head.

The creatures surged after the riders, drawing a large portion of the herd along with them. As Bartley drew the stage off the incline and onto the trail, he whipped the horses into a full on sprint towards Desperation. A few of the creatures got close and Cody could see Bartley flinch as the scatter gun shredded the undead creatures. He calmly reloaded and watched, waiting. It would only be a few moments more moments now. a few more moments until Cody Jarrett showed these people who they'd really been fucking with.

End of Line.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Poetry: After the Fall

Hey all!

Look at this. Two posts, two days! Crazy I know!.....

I really wanted to write some poetry after working on that Dead Sun piece yesterday and before I started working on the next chapter. This poem is sort of a companion piece to the last poem I wrote a few months back, Afterglow. That poem was about making love with someone you love. This poem mines though same fields but comes at it from a different perspective, its more of a poem about a one night stand and what happens when two people don't feel the same way about it. I thought about writing this as a short story, but I really just thought it worked better as a mirror to the other poem I wrote.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the poem. As always I welcome feedback on anything. Thank you for reading.

After the Fall

Strange lips brush my own,

Softest murmurs in dulcet tone.

Unknown hands upon my chest,

Nestled close, to sleep, to rest.

Passion's thrust a faded glow,

As urgency has rut and row.

A passing glance down at the bar,

Led the night so ever far.

And two strangers laugh and drink,

An electric touch as hands do link.

That simple spark leads to flame,

A burning need to which each must tame.

So the the two did lead to bed,

Where passion's lust needs were fed.

Lips and limbs grown, intertwine,

Chased by sweat, love, and cheaper wine.

They gave their bodies to basest needs,

Sex and love were wont to feed.

But now the night has come to pass,

And she feels the haze of liquor grow to pass.

She lay beside this man unknown,

Whom she met one night in roam,

And now she knows not his name,

Fearing last, that walk of shame.

He feels her body start to stir,

The pieces of his mind, a blur.

The night before a faded dream,

But now he wakes, lost in stream.

Yet one clean thought bubbles to rim,

This lovely woman had chosen him.

She mutters words she cannot hear,

Wishing now, she wasn't so near. 

Sliding free of grip and sheet,

Moments soon, her escape complete.

She gathers clothes and is out the door,

As he looks lost, wanting more.

He never saw the girl again,

A memory he could never quite begin.

But she was never far from his thoughts,

This perfect girl his memory has wrought.

Because for one lone night he had it all,

It's just the hardest part of love is after the fall.

End of Line.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 41

Morgan gripped the reins in his teeth as he loosened the pistol on his belt. Satisfied that it was in easy reach he freed his Winchester and cartridged in the first round. A calm sort of ease had spread through him, the tension of the situation almost melting completely away. Despite the things he had told Ally and the Padre he knew this was most likely a one way trip. There were to many of hells creatures out here and not enough bullets in his gun. Still, if he could hold out long enough, maybe. just maybe little Ally would have a chance. He'd pull every one of the mother fuckers towards him if he could. He nodded to Ally and the preacher and prepared to spur his horse. They were ready. He paused one last time, laying his rifle across his lap. With his hands free he took the tomahawk from his belt and drew a line across his palm. the red blood blended with his dark, tan skin and he traced to trails across his cheeks, like his mother had shown him all those years ago. He clenched his left hand tight to staunch the blood, and picked the rifle back up. Let the bastards smell him coming. Hell wasn't the only thing walking the earth to be feared today.

Just as he spurred his horse a huge clamor across from above them, down the winding trail from the top of the bluff. He craned his head to the right to see a large stage coach, being driven by a heavyset man hell bent on leather. There was another man on the roof of the stage, and two separate horses running in front of it. He could swear, even from this distance, that the lead rider was a woman. Morgan watched as the shuffling masses of undead shambled toward the team, and Morgan knew this may be a better break than he could have hoped for. As much as he was prepared to die, he'd made a promise to get that girl to Desperation. This could be just the distraction he was waiting for.

"Change of plans lass, follow me."

Morgan spurred his horse, keeping the rifle aimed at any of the monsters that drew to near. He heard Ally and the pastor behind him as the hugged the coastline, using the protection of the river on his left as he watched for monsters on the right. In the distance he could see the stage curl around the bottom of the incline and head hard up the road towards the central gates of town. Morgan hoped that he could find one of the side entrances by the river to get in through, but worse case he would have the duo stick to the wall and head towards the center. He didn't allow himself to think what would happen if no one would open the door.

Morgan brought the Winchester to bare and snapped off two quick shots at two errant creatures who had wandered in to close. The sound of gunfire lured another small herd towards them but the group was well past the danger of the creatures before they could pose any real threat. Morgan could taste the sweat in the leather of the reins and his levered the rifle again, snapping off another shot at a lurker emerging from the water on his left. He felt the slather of his horse as it charged along the bank, and the feel of the wood on the butt of the Winchester, his senses flaring out in anticipation. He continued looking left, twisting slightly in the saddle to check on Ally and the pastor. Ally's teeth were gritted as she urged the horse faster, but Morgan could see the tell tale sign of tears at the corners of her eyes. Father Enrico had a detached look, as he thumbed back the hammer of the old pistol. He had one hand on the side saddle mount as he fired. The old gun barked once as one of the undead's head exploded in a mixture of bile and teeth.  Morgan couldn't help but be impressed, for a man of God he sure had the aim of the Devil.

Morgan snapped back to attention as the sounds of new gunfire erupted from his right. He glanced over and watched as the second lead rider of the stage group lurched from his horse, falling in a sickly thump from the fast moving mount. He looked again as the figure atop the stage lashed out with his rifle, catching the driver across the jaw. He watched as the heavy set driver lurched forward in the seat and the other man made a daring leap from the moving stage onto the horse train. After a few moments the train was free from the stage and the lone man took off towards Desperation.He watched as the first rider, the woman, fired shots at him but quickly gave up as she spurred her horse towards her fallen friend.

Morgan looked at the walls of Desperation loomed closely overhead. He saw a few ragged men atop the harbor door lookout and waved to them, pointing to the preacher and the young lady. A clean shaven man in a brown hat and a scraggly older fellow with one eye nodded. He saw the old man drop from sight and a few second later the gates of the harbor door cracked open.  He fired the rifle until the weapon clicked empty, clearing the few stragglers from the area. Several heavily armed men emerged from the door, including the one eyed man, as he reared his horse up short, snapping out his pistol.  Morgan looked back at the woman and the stalled stage, then glanced quickly as Ally pulled her horse up into the doorway. She caught his eye as he looked back and she shook her head no, her eyes heavy with tears as Morgan kicked hard into his horse, heading right towards the thick of the monsters.

Hell rides hard today.

End of Line.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 40

Ally felt Morgan gently shake her awake, the last vestiges of her troubled sleep falling away. She had slept fitfully throughout the night, or at least what passed as a night these days. Every time she woke though she was always greeted with the reassuring sight of Morgan, standing at the edge of their camp site, his rifle cradled in his arms, his eyes searching the surroundings. He stood so still, but she knew his eyes never stopped moving, looking for danger.

Ally stood up, stretching the kinks out of her sore back. Hell, everything was sore still, her ribs, her lip, her cheek. She felt like one big god damn bruise. Sleeping on the ground hadn't helped, but she felt better than she had yesterday. Ally looked up, the sun breaking in the east, casting its black pallor over the horizon, and worked as much of the soreness in her muscles as she was able before strapping back on her gun belt. She walked down to the river edge and took a deep drink, running the cool water over her face and neck. She watched Morgan and the preacher break down their little camp before saddling the horses.She walked over and rubbed the neck of her horse gently as Morgan finally broke the silence that had permeated the camp.

"Listen, we're about the run to Desperation. It won't be easy. Once we round the cliff bank, the valley floor flattens into a grassland that runs to a point, Desperation. Now last night I saw lights across the walls of the old fort the town was built around. The outlying town, and the plains leading to them, are over run with the dead. This won't be an easy run."

Ally looked to the preacher, who just lowered his head and looked to the ground, then back to Morgan.

"We'll lead the horses on foot around the narrow shoreline, then you two will double up on Ally's horse and break for the fort walls. I'll ride out first and try to pull as many of them after me as I can so you can have a head start."

"But Morgan... you can't leave.."

"Ally, listen. I can ride faster alone, I'll loop them out then cut back up around the narrows. Once I loose the majority of the creatures, I can cut back upriver before turning back and meet you inside Desperation. Splitting up is the only way we have a chance at this. Besides, we don't even know if Desperation will open up and let you in. This way if there is a problem you can cut back too."

She wanted to argue, she wanted to tell him how much he had come to mean to her in the past day. How in the moments that things felt the worst, she felt safe with him. But she didn't. She nodded her head and set her face as strong as she could. More than wanting him to stay, she wanted to show him that she wasn't weak. She wanted to prove to him that she was worth a damn.

She watched as the preacher, who had simply nodded, absently rubbed the rosary beads at his waist. He moved silently through the camp, picking up the old pistol that he'd brought with him. He reached into one of the pockets of his robes and slowly loaded the gun as Ally and Morgan lead the horses to the narrow. They secured the saddles and the bags tightly, before moving onto the shore.

The cliff face was sheer, with just a scraggly strip of beach running along the edge of the river. The current really picked up as they were less than a quarter of a mile from the merge point of the twin rivers. Another river from the east met this one at Desperation, creating a major trade route by water that eventually spilled  into the Gulf. Ally remembered wanting so much as a little girl to ride the big boats down the river, how it had all seemed so magical and impossible. Now it seemed like a long, long time ago.

The trio moved single file through the narrow, Morgan in the lead followed by Ally and Father Enrico, each leading one of the horses. The narrow stretched a good quarter mile and they took it slowly. The path was safe enough, but an errant buck of one of the horses would make it a lot more dangerous. You could see the water rushing by, reflecting the blackened sun back towards them. Morgan kept his rifle out, and eventually motioned them to hold back as he moved forward. He peered around the end of the cliff face, and beckoned them over.

Ally peaked around the corner, her heart dropping. There were hundreds of the monsters, some mindlessly shuffling around, others hunched over the fallen forms of the once living. How would they ever be able to get through all of these things? She looked again at Morgan, who was checking the the barrel of his rifle. He glanced up, and gave her a small smile, an unfamiliar sight on his weathered face.  She smiled back, a small flush creeping up her cheek, as he helped her mount the horse behind the already saddled Father Enrico.

"Be ready to move after I draw them off. Stay as close to the river for as long as possible before turning towards the wall. Father, would you like to say a prayer before we move?"

One of Enrico's hands held the reins, but the other absently rubbed at his rosary still. He looked down to his hand as if realizing for the first time that he'd been rubbing them. He pulled them free, the beads clacking against his leg and held them in his hand. He looked east, directly into the dark sun, before speaking.

"I'm not sure there's anything to pray to anymore. Heaven has forsaken this place."

He let the beads fall and Ally watched as they washed down into the river, away from them. Morgan shrugged noncommitally but gave Ally a reassuring pat on the leg before mounting his own horse. He wrapped the strap of the rifle around his arm and cleared the pistol on his hip.

"Well then Padre, time to see if Hell's a more welcoming place."

Morgan gestured his horse and pulled up beside her, giving her a side long hug and whispering words of strength in her ear. He told her that they'd see each other soon. Ally felt a shiver run down her spine as Morgan then spurred his horse, bursting from the narrow. It was then she heard all the gun shots.

End of Line.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Poetry: Afterglow

 Hey all,

As you can see I've been posting a bit lately, mostly Flash Fiction as I approach the final chapters of Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins. I haven't mapped out each story individually, but I have the plot set up and we are certainly ramping up in bringing the group together. You can expect a new post of Under a Dead Sun every Sunday, with the exception of the week I'll be at Comic Con in July.

Anyway I still want to post poetry and other bits of fiction and stuff, which brings us to this post. I think the subject matter, and the poem itself for that matter, is pretty self evident. I'm not sure where I really got the subject matter for the poem, I just sat down and wrote it. It took maybe an hour, the actual poem itself was pretty fast, I just used a lot of time to tweak lines and rhymes. The poem is an idealized thought on the after moments of sex, of what two people think after making love. I think anyone who reads my poetry knows that a lot of what my poems are about are idealized loves. Whether loves lost, or unrequited, or of a love captured, I tend to like the idea of pure loss and pure hope. Of what love can be, or could be. I'm not sure this poem actually deals with those topics... but I think there is still a message there. Enjoy.


Softly lit drips candle wax,

As passions throws begets, gone lax.

Sounds of breath and labors love,

Climaxed so hard, crying to Him above.

Intertwined, they writhed and groan,

This expression of the love they've shown.

Without words of praise or scorn,

They feel the bond their souls adorn.

And in the afterglow of candles flame,

Each can feel no guilt or blame.

With fingers clasped, in hearts embrace.

They lock their eyes, now face to face.

The depth of stare, each other eyed,

Their bodies spent from crafts then plied.

But in each they know the others truth,

Spoken in a language known to aged and youth.

But before they turn themselves to sleep,

Cuddled close and nestled deep.

They say those words that meant the most,

I love you spoken in twin riposte.

As the candle light does snuff,

The flame extinguished in a tiny puff.

Our lovers turn and big good night,

Because everything feels just right. 

End of Line.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sin

Chapter 39:

Father Enrico rode slowly next to the two strangers. He wasn't sure what their deal was, the young girl, Ally, walked with a limp and her face was bruised. She stayed close to the big Cavalryman, never far from him, though the girl seemed scared, almost withdrawn. She was the easy one to read. The Cavalryman though, he was another story. He loomed tall and hard, his face a stony mask. The revolver and hatchet on his hip looked well worn, he seemed a hard man. He'd seen men like him before, men born to war and bloodshed. Haunted men. Men he'd once left behind.

When they had ridden up on him by the riverbank, his hand still holding the smoking gun, they'd been wary. After all, you had to wary of everyone in this damned new world, and a preacher with a gun was no exception. He'd told them his story, or a version of it at least. He told them how he had left his parish to seek help from Desperation and that he'd found the old pistol as he fled the monsters. He left out the part about leaving his brothers, and his flock, to die. Lying was the least of the sins he'd committed this day.

The pair had agreed to travel to Desperation with him, the big man, Morgan, saying that they were better sticking together than traveling alone. Since they only had two horses, Morgan had dismounted and lead them by the tether. Enrico felt as if he'd aged a hundred years in the past day, the soreness seeping to his bones. He hadn't felt this old, this tired, since his days in the camp during the war. The only thing that was same though was the pain, the regret....and the failure. The failure was always the same.

Ally rode beside him, half asleep in the saddle. She'd shared a little of her story and the poor thing seemed to be beyond the limit of her endurance. Morgan just moved with a limitless resolve, never faster, never slower, just a steady pace. His eyes always scouting the horizon, always watching the trail for signs of recent travel. He seemed to take in every detail as he moved and Enrico could tell this man had been a scout at some point. Enrico wasn't sure what kind of a man he had been, but he had a feeling he would know before to long.

Morgan called for a stop as the river banked hard to the right. The right shore was mostly rock, a tall cliff overlooked the river. The sandy shoreline had thinned immensely as the river had picked up speed at the bend. They would have to lead the horses around the treacherous footing of the coast, the walls of the cliff to their back and the trail was just too narrow. Just around that corner though was Desperation, laying at the bottom of the cliff face, a grassy peninsula that met as another river flowed into this one. The opposite side of the cliff ran a soft ascent back up to the main road they had left behind earlier in the day and the access of both the road and the river had made Desperation a key stop on the trade route to and from old Mexico. No one was quite sure why the town had been called Desperation, though the name seemed quite appropriate now. It seemed like desperation was all they had left.

Morgan told them to make a small camp, warning them against starting a fire as it might bring unwanted attention. Enrico and Ally unsaddled the horses as Morgan scouted the bend on foot. A chill had fallen as Enrico looked to the sky. The dead sun had long since settled in the west and the moon was full and bright, though you could still feel the unrest in the air. He wasn't gone long before coming back. He placed a saddle blanket around Ally shoulders and offered the other to Enrico, who gladly took it. They settled down and broke out their meager rations before Enrico finally broke the silence.

"How does Desperation look?"

Morgan didn't say anything for a long while, instead taking a short pull from his water skin as he studied the dirt at his feet intently. When he finally looked up and spoke his eyes were hard, glinting with such intensity that they seemed to spark.

"The towns there all right, with the gate up. I can see lanterns and torches lighting the city. But the valley floor is covered in those things. Hundreds of undead monsters roaming outside, blocking our way."

Ally gasped and bundled herself under the blanket as Enrico looked down. He softly caressed his old rosary beads in one free hand and wondered what fresh hell awaited him now. He thought about turning and running right there, but where would he go, alone, low on ammo. With no friends, no faith. It wasn't just him that God had forsaken, it was the whole damn world. Like it or not, his lot was with these two strangers for now. Enrico took his own swallow off the water skin, before speaking again.

"Then what do we do now?"

"Simple, for now we rest. In the morning we ride."

Enrico took one last look at the moon and let go of the rosary beads, his hand moving towards the pistol, rubbing the butt of the gun softly. Moving from his old faith, towards the only one he had left.

End of Line.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 38

Eva watched the man she knew as Beau Johnson walk back to his saddlebags, her face still locked in an expression of mixed hatred and disgust. She felt her father grab her hand and pull her into the cabin of the stage as she reluctantly looked away from him. Her father tried to catch her eye as she settled into the cab, but she pointedly ignored him, trying to get a tether on the seething rage she felt as she grabbed one of the sets of clean linen they had brought with them. She was unfolding the sheet when her father finally spoke, breaking the thick silence that hung in the cabin.

"Eva...sweetheart. I'm sorry. He was my friend too, Rex helped raised you, he's been a member of this family since you were a little girl. But as much as you hate that man, hell, as much as I hate that man, part of you has to know he was right. Rex was going to turn, like little Evan had. We were to late."

Eva listened to her father's words, but she couldn't bring herself to really hear them. Rex had been like a second father to her. He'd taught her how to ride, how to rope, how to shoot. He'd never tried to force her into a dress, he'd always said she was to much like her real father. There was no changing that man's mind, and there was certainly no changing hers when she set to it. She bit her lip, hard enough to draw blood, as she choked back a sob. She felt the brush of her father's hand, his gnarled, weathered fingers wiping away the lone tear that trickled down her cheek as her body let out a small shudder. So much death. So many friends.

"Remember him as the man he was Eva. Remember him as I will."

Her father pulled her into a tight hug and held her for a long time, the kind of hug they hadn't shared since her mother's death. She stayed in his arms, trying to remember Rex's face, and not the look on that man's. Not his damnable smile. Eventually she found her breath and her composure, and sat back up. Caleb gently released her as she used the edge of her sleeve to wipe her face. The two of them then dressed Rex's body in the new linen, covering his ravaged face. The red of his blood had already turned a ripe, greenish black and Eva tried to ignore the truth in what Beau had said. She knew his reasoning had been a lie, coated in a measure of truth yes, but a lie none the less. That man killed because he liked it, not because he had to. She knew not to ignore her instincts when they flared like this. That fore sight, her trail sense as Rex had called it, had never steered her wrong. Her emotions might be frayed after what she'd seen this day, but that tell tale flair around that man was the one thing she knew was true. Beau Johnson was not a man to be trusted.

"Eva, as soon as we reach Desperation, we'll dispense with the man. Until then, out here, with all those ...creatures out there we need to stay in a group. Just a little longer my dear."

" I know father, I know. Just don't judge me harshly if I keep my gun handy."

He smiled sadly as she let herself out of the cab. She straightened her clothes out as she touched down, seeing Thomas and Bartley standing at the edge of the bluff. To her left, Beau Johnson sat, his saddle bags slung across his legs as he idly rolled the chamber of one of his Colts across his wrist. He had a small smile, which unnerved her. She fought back another shudder threatening to slip down her spine as she walked over to Moore and Bartley. As she neared she knew they were talking about Beau and the incident with Rex in hushed tones. They stopped in silence as she drew beside Bartley.

She looked down at the scattered masses of undead that ringed the valley floor, stretching across the grassland to the softly lit walls of Desperation at the edge of the peninsula.  It would be a difficult stretch, but if they rode hard, really pushed the horses and watched each others backs, they just might make it. She glanced back at Johnson, her lip curling, and wondered just when he'd make his move. She already knew when she was gonna make hers.

"We ride at dawn."

End of Line.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 37


Cody felt the woman fly into him, throwing her weight against his body and driving the two of them out the door of the stage. Cody landed hard on his back, the air momentarily driven from his lungs. The impact had knocked his precious Colt from his hand when the woman, Eva, landed on top of him. She was not a large woman, but she was strong. He felt her shapely curves as she writhed for position, never belittling the hardened muscle underneath her the form fitting clothes. He tasted blood as she smashed her fist into his jaw, screaming at him. If this old maid didn't have such a stick up her ass, he might even have enjoyed this.


The momentary impact passed and Cody managed to find a small measure of breath. He grinned, blood trickling from the cut on his lip as he used his now free right hand to force it into Eva's face. His left hand grabbed at her right, blocking it from landing another free blow as he brought his knee up between her legs. He bucked his knee twice in fast succession between her legs, admittedly not as effective a move against a girl than some other bastard, but he outweighed her by a good hundred pounds and the sheer force behind it helped to dislodge her from his chest. He could hear her grunt in pain as the impact of his knee reverberated up her spine.

With her weight shifted, Cody moved his right hand away from her face, where he had been pushing her away, and brought a hard slap across her face. His first instinct had been to hit her, and hard, for laying her hands on him, but his peripheral senses had kicked in and he'd noticed the other members of her group joining the fray. That fat stage driver had pulled his rifle and the old man had his pistol out as well. Even that foppish dandy that fancied himself a gunman had his gleaming sidearm out. Despite his natural instinct, Cody knew that if he really hurt this bitch there was no way he'd get out of this alive. Still, the slap had felt good and he made a mental note to continue this line of action later. No one treated Cody Jarrett this way, especially not some uppity bitch.

The slap had jogged Eva to the side and with his leg free he used his boot to kick her off of him. He rolled to his right, coming up by his gun, which his hand hovered over quickly, before coming to his feet, his arms raised in submission. Eva, her face red from the slap, roared to life and tried to take another swing at him until the dandy, Thomas, pulled her back, away from him. Her arms and legs flew out as she screamed obscenities at him.


Cody wiped the blood from his lip and looked at it briefly, before sliding an oily smile across his face. His eyes never left the rifle trained on him by the stage driver, nor the pistol from the old cripple in the stage door as he spoke.

'Listen...listen... I acted rashly, I see that now. It's just that your friend was infected. I've seen that kinda wound before, the pus, the black seepage, it's the sign that he's about to turn into one of those fuckin' creatures. I watched two of my best friends succumb to that fate, if he'd have turned in that cart then he'd have infected all of you. I didn't want that to happen. So I acted. I realize now I should have said something, but I didn't want to take the chance. I'm...I'm sorry."

He noticed the fat driver, Bartley, lower his rifle and the old man's gun started to waver, and he knew he was nearly in the clear. He turned his attention to Eva, who was still fuming with anger, trails of tears running down the dirt on her  face as she sneered at him. He hated biting his tongue, especially to this cow, but this wasn't the time or the place, not with Desperation so close, not with freedom at hand. Besides, he could see that Bartley and the old man could see his line of thinking, hell even that fop Moore had holstered his gun.

"Eva... my dear, I acted rashly. I left my fear govern my thoughts. I didn't think about what this man must have meant to you. I only feared that he would turn. that what had happened to me would happen to you."

Eva sneered at him as she shucked off Moore, throwing him to the side. Her face was mixed with disgust and anger as she glared at him. It was the old man who spoke first though, breaking the tension.

"Listen...Mr. Johnson, you an travel with us until we reach town. Then I think its best for all of us... if you made your own way. I'm sure you understand."

He nodded to Eva, who climbed into the cab with him with Moore, but not before giving him a final look of derision. Moore followed them and the three started to wrap Rex in a blanket. Bartley gave him a final look and started to haul his fat ass up to the drivers seat and Cody turned his back, walking over to where he'd left his saddle bags. He checked the load on his scatter gun again and shouldered it as he patted down the prized contents of his bags. Cody cast a last look over the cliff ledge, down into the valley of death, at the grim lights of Desperation in the distance. The valley teamed with undead, getting across the flats wouldn't be easy, even with the extra guns these damnable fools offered. He shouldered his gear and turned his eyes back to the. A slow smile crept to his bloody lip and suddenly he knew just what to do. He just figured out the perfect distraction.

End of Line.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 36

Morgan looked at Ally, riding slightly behind him, her face expressionless as she looked forward. He'd found the horse running in a field still saddled a few hours after leaving the house and had helped Ally calm the animal down. She was a fairly good rider, having been around horses most of her life, but she was still ginger from the beatings she had taken. Each mile they traveled though seemed to ease her more into the saddle though and Morgan took that for a good sign.

 He'd considered camping at the old farmhouse, but with what little light the darkened sun was giving off, he thought it best to make towards Desperation while he could still see. Desperation sounded like the best option at this point. It was the closest populated town with any kind of protection. The core of the town had been built around an abandoned Army fort that had doubled as a shipping and supply depot. It was there Morgan was most likely to get some answers, and maybe be able to leave Ally with people who could look after her. People better suited than him.

They stuck to the main road, following the trail as it lead to Desperation. Occasionally Morgan would stop them and dismount, scanning the ground for tracks. He'd been seeing signs of travel, recent travel even, but he didn't trust the signs. It'd been too long since he'd used them, to long since he'd had to be the kind of man he'd tried to forget. Still, this was a pretty heavily traveled road and that could explain a lot of the tracks he'd seen. But one man had recently come down this road, he was pretty certain of that.

It was at the crossroads he finally got confirmation that they weren't the only ones traveling this road today. He'd scouted up-road, away from the trail to Desperation, Ally never far from his side, and he'd seen the carnage on the road. Bodies, the undead kind, shot, and recently. Also the lone tracks had stopped, running across the path of a stage with riders, two at least. They were ahead of him, he was sure, by a few hours at least, but they were getting closer. He wasn't sure what he felt about running into strangers on the open road. More men meant more guns, and with these damnable monsters running around that could be a good thing. But his mind kept going back to that shed at the farmhouse. That poor woman, assaulted and killed. About the things he had told Ally.

"It's not just those god damn monsters out there. Regular folk are just as bad as they are."

He closed his eyes, trying to force down the images that ran through his mind. The things he'd seen the last time he'd worn this uniform. The things he'd seen since he'd taken it off.  Damn right regular folks were just as bad. He'd proven that time and time again on his own.

They'd long since doubled back and made good time down the trail. Morgan hadn't seen any of the creatures, walking at least, since before the farmhouse. Still the sun was getting low in the west and the dim brightness was beginning to ebb. He reckoned that Desperation lay a good 10 miles down the road. It was better to keep moving than risk camping this far out in the open. He told Ally as much an she just nodded, her face still an expressionless mask.She hadn't spoke much since the incident at the shed. Morgan could only hope that was a good thing.

He heard the gunfire as the last dregs of black daylight clung to the sky. It was off the road, maybe a quarter mile through the sparse brush towards the shoreline of the river. Those instincts he had doubted earlier kicked in, as he spurred the horse through the underbrush, heeding Ally behind him. He'd kept the river to his left, trusting the road to be a faster, if not necessarily safer way to get to Desperation. Besides with what Ally had told him from her experiences on the river earlier, he preferred to have options if it came to retreating.

Six shots had rung out, pistol fire by his experience. Either the shooter was dead, or he'd emptied his gun based on the staggered firing of the shots. He loosed quickly, one hand on the reins as he lessened the rifle from the scabbard on his saddle bag. He glanced back to Ally, whose grim expression was starting to crack as they neared the source of the gun play.

"Time to steel yourself girl. Trust me to watch your back. I'm trustin' ya with mine."

She gave a small little smile and tried to look tough. He wished he didn't have to put her in harms way, but the whole damn world was harms way now. Either she faced what was out there, or joined it. Better here, better now to just get on with the whole damn mess. No sense in denying that the world had gone to the fucking  bastards. At least Ally had one of those bastards on her side.

Morgan's horse burst through the underbrush and he pulled the rifle up, drawing a bead with his eye. Only one man stood at the edge of the shore. The ground was littered with the dead, both the sad and forgotten kind, and the fresh hell of the recently risen. A solitary figure stood by the carnage, splattered with the blood of the pure dead, and the black ichor of the fallen. The smoke wafted from his pistol as he looked up to Morgan with haunted eyes. Morgan heard Ally rein in behind him as he lowered the rifle from his shoulder.

"Howdy Padre."

End of Line.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Poetry: You


 I watched the rivers flow,

Sweeping, gone away,

And I wondered where you'd go.

 All the miles of the Earth,

And in all the depth of oceans blue,

Separated by miles without you.

I longed to hear your voice,

To feel your soft caress.

Never knowing what I'd done to you.

I've read words within a poem.

And listened to melodies of myriad tone.

But all the verses sang of you..

Every road I walked,

And all conversations that I sought,

Just led me back to you.

Time came and did pass,

As calendars burned gone past.

But I never stopped thinking about you.

But you had long left me alone,

To love a man I did not know.

But I learned that you could break a heart.

For when you learned to finally love,

I knew what I had failed to see.

You'd shown me love was just a fallacy.

End of Line.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Poetry: Begone Before We Begin

Begone Before We Begin 

Start, then stop. 

Without the reason of thought.

We simply wander away,

Past battles long fought. 

Passions are dimmed, 

The headiness of zest, 

Simply grow cold, 

As motion begets rest. 

You never mean to leave, 

Or give up on dreams, 

It's just the rigors of life, 

As they pull at the seams. 

I didn't want to quit. 

Didn't mean to give in. 

Sometimes it just happens, 

Begone before we begin. 

End of Line.