DEAD: Blood & Betrayal: Book 11 of the DEAD Series

BOOK: DEAD: Blood & Betrayal: Book 11 of the DEAD Series
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Other Titles by TW Brown

 

The DEAD Series:

 

DEAD: The Ugly Beginning

DEAD: Revelations

DEAD: Fortunes & Failures

DEAD: Winter

DEAD: Siege & Survival

DEAD: Confrontation

DEAD: Reborn

DEAD: Darkness Before Dawn

DEAD: Spring

DEAD: Reclamation

DEAD: Blood & Betrayal

DEAD: End (October 2015)

 

DEAD Special Edition

 

DEAD: Perspectives Story (Vols. 1 & 2)

DEAD: Vignettes (Vols. 1 & 2)

DEAD: The Geeks (Vols. 1 & 2)

 

DEAD: Snapshot— {Insert Town Here}

 

DEAD: Snapshot—
Portland, Oregon

DEAD: Snapshot—
Leeds, England
(August 2015)

 

Zomblog

 

Zomblog

Zomblog II

Zomblog: The Final Entry

Zomblog: Snoe

Zomblog: Snoe’s War

Zomblog: Snoe’s Journey

 

That Ghoul Ava

 

That Ghoul Ava: Her First Adventures

That Ghoul Ava & The Queen of the Zombies

That Ghoul Ava Kick Some Faerie A**

Next, on a very special That Ghoul Ava

That Ghoul Ava…on the Lam!

 

 

 

DEAD: Blood & Betrayal

Book 11 of the
DEAD
series

©2015 May December Publications LLC

 

The split-tree logo is a registered trademark of May December Publications LLC.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living, dead, or otherwise, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or unauthorized use of the material or artwork contained herein is prohibited without the express written permission of the author or May December Publications LLC.

 

Printed in the U.S.A.

 

 

A moment with the author…

 

The fear of being a disappointment!

Any
Sopranos
fans out there? How about the riveting show that was
Lost
? If you fall into either of those groups, then you might know a little something about feeling like you went on this amazing journey that ended up with a great big kick in the naughty bits. Sure, there are those who will profess to be just fine with how two of the most epic television series ever came to a halt, but judging by the responses at the time, I am guessing that those people are in the minority.
X-Files
? Hell, even
Rosanne
and
Seinfeld
get grief from anybody who vested any serious amount of time watching a sitcom for anything other than the humor. And don't get me started on
How I met Your Mother
, a sitcom that started off with a supposed end game.

Give me the ending to
Breaking Bad
...or either of my personal faves,
Friday Night Lights
and
Quantum Leap
(the song “Georgia on My Mind” garnered some serious meaning for me after that QL finale; it still almost brings a tear to my eye when I hear it). The finale is the reward to the fan. It is that last image that they will cling to for eternity. It can be the toughest episode to create because it is going to have the greatest impact. Nothing that came before will mean squat if the finale sucks. (See
Lost
.)

So, what the hell does any of that have to do with me? Well, as many of you may very well know, the proper
DEAD
series is coming to a conclusion. I expect to release
DEAD: End
(Book 12 of the
DEAD
series) on Halloween of this year. I am currently cobbling book 11,
DEAD: Blood & Betrayal
and am experiencing some tremors of nervousness as the book wraps. (I believe I have set a record for the lack of zombies in a zombie novel with this one.)

I intend to go directly into the writing of
DEAD: End
immediately. This book has gone through so many possible conclusions in my head that I could write five “alternate ending” books. One of my earliest ideas was to give each major character a final chapter. Too bad most of them (major characters that is) did not survive to have a final chapter.

I think I have settled on one story line's ending. I am not certain how I will get there, but that is half the fun for me as a writer. Still, even though I think the ending is kinda cool, that by no means carries over to how it will be received. I have learned over the past few years that things I see clearly can often be cloudy at best for my readers. (I thought I dropped enough clues when I began the Emily-zombie story line to explain the behavior of the child zombie...umm...NOPE! I still have folks asking what the deal with the child zombies is after book 9.)

To say that I am feeling the pressure would be an understatement. You, my loyal reader, have embarked on this journey with me and trusted that I would take you to a satisfying conclusion. I have almost reached a point where the last paragraph has Pamela Ewing go into the bathroom where Bobby is taking a shower. Once she tells him about her “crazy dream” he says, “Wait until I tell you about mine! Spoiler, it has zombies in it!”

I guess I am just saying that, like anything in the world of entertainment, not everybody is gonna love it. My biggest goal right now is to avoid comparisons to any of the shows mentioned in the opening paragraph.

Oh well, I have until October before the calls rise up for the villagers to assemble with their torches. Right?

 

“Do you have any tattoos, Janet?”

TW Brown

March 2015

 

 

 

 

Thad and Scotty

Still my friends after all the crazy stuff

 

 

 

1

 

Vignettes LXI

 

Juan felt himself slip from consciousness. His last memory was seeing a pair of legs coming his direction. He wished desperately that he could see Mackenzie’s face as it was before she died, but the only image was that of the sallow-faced, tracer-riddled eyes that had consumed her beauty in those last days.

The next thing he knew, Juan’s eyes were struggling to adjust to the flickering light of a fire. Through slitted eyelids, he could make out the log walls of a cabin. He was trying to decide if he was in a good place, or maybe this was a new and horrible basement scene like the one he’d endured at the hands of a crazy woman all those years ago.

“You thirsty?” a man’s voice asked. It was rough, and sounded awkward.

Great
, Juan thought,
zombies have finally learned how to talk
.

“Daddy!” a familiar chorus of squeals brought him fully awake, and Juan was now suddenly frantic. He was bound and unable to move. He began to squirm, desperate to come to the rescue of his daughters, Della and Denita.

“Easy, mister,” the awkward voice warned.

A shadow fell over Juan as a coarse-spun shirt filled his entire field of vision. Juan looked up and could only see a dark outline against the light of the fire. There was a moment where he wanted to scream as he felt hands fumbling for him, but then he was suddenly free to move.

“Just take it easy, mister,” the voice whispered. “The girls don’t need to see you all frazzled. Took them a mighty long spell to get comfortable here.”

Juan tried to sit up and found that his head swam the moment he got less than halfway upright. He lay back down and took a deep breath to try and get his nerves settled. That was also just enough time for two small figures to climb up and on top of him. Both girls began talking a million miles an hour, not a single word managing to make sense as both talked over the other and neither relating a similar part of the story. Then he heard something that got his attention.

“Wait!” Juan groaned, getting his elbows underneath him and easing up just a bit. “What was that ‘bout the deaders?”

“The Grizzly Man came in and chopped them all down just in time to save Keith and the horses and Brianne. Then he talked with Keith and they said they would meet you in Ankledge,” Denita spoke with amazing surety.

“Actually, my name is Gerald, but your girls think it is fun to call me the Grizzly Man.” A hand that looked as if it could engulf both of Juan’s at once came forward and waited to be clasped in greeting. Juan shook the man’s hand and accepted the help to a completely upright position.

Juan’s eyes had finally adjusted to the light, and he took in the figure that spoke. His daughters had chosen well in their nickname. The man was taller than any human being that Juan had ever met in his life. He was wearing a heavy shirt that was partially unbuttoned to display more hair on the man’s chest than most men had on their heads, and then there was the beard. ZZ Top in their heyday could not compare to the thick and massive beard that climbed the man’s cheeks to the point of almost hiding his eyes, and hung down low enough to settle on the solid but ample belly.

“Juan Hoya,” he said absently as his eyes drifted around an open cabin that looked like the setting for a really cheesy horror movie.

The walls were adorned with the heads of bears, wildcats, moose, and a variety of other animals that all stared back with empty gazes. One shelf had a variety of smaller animals. This was where his gaze lingered. There looked to be a squirrel or some such creature on a tiny unicycle. He saw a skunk reading a newspaper while seated on a miniature toilet, and then there was an arctic fox wearing glasses and leaning against a light post checking his wristwatch.

The man noticed Juan’s gaze and made an embarrassed cough. He started for the shelf and then stopped as if realizing that he could not cover anything up as the cat was already out of the bag so to speak.

“Alone out in the Alaskan wilderness, you come up with some…interesting ways to bide your time.” The man reached over and adjusted the fox so that it was easier to see the fact that it appeared—above everything else already apparent—to be smiling down at a mouse that was standing beside him in some sort of jacket.

Juan made a grunt as his eyes now shifted to the arsenal of bladed and spiked weapons adorning one entire wall. One sword in particular looked to be taller than his daughters. The gleam from the firelight and the few hanging lanterns gave away that the edges were finely honed. Juan had no doubt that every single blade on that wall was sharpened to a razor’s edge.

“So, as your daughters already told you,” Gerald rumbled, “your friends went ahead to Anchorage.” He made a point to enunciate the word as he winked at Della and Denita.

“How long have I been out?” Juan asked cautiously.

“In and out for over a week,” the man replied.

“Grizzly Man had to clean your butt!” Della snickered, and then both she and Denita were giggling uncontrollably.

“You have been taking care of us this entire time?” Juan gave the man a curious look.

“He killed the deader wolves before they could eat you,” Denita said around the last of her giggles.

Everything came flooding back for Juan. The horse falling, the pain in his leg…and the wolves. No matter how many times he encountered those horrible things, he didn’t think there would ever come a time when he would not be totally creeped out by them.

“You took a nasty fall,” Gerald said with a nod. “All that noise distracted the wolves from their original target.”

“Huh?” Juan shook himself clear of the memory and focused on Gerald again. “What target was that?”

“Me,” the big man said with a sigh. “Damn things had me dead to rights. Already took down my bear. I’m gonna miss old Walt.”

Suddenly, the nickname was making a lot more sense.

 

***

 

Vix moved down the long walkway. Below her, a sea of undead faces looked up. That was not the scary part. The really scary part was how many of those heads did not even regard her passing. There were more zombies here than she had ever imagined could gather in one place.

It had taken twelve days since that mob was spotted for the first of them to begin arriving at their shore. No telling how many were swept away in the currents of the waters of the River Medway and sent out to the sea. It did not seem like nearly enough as the waterway was now a slurry of parts that had come free and no sign of an end to the mob that was still pouring in from the far shore across the river.

“Beacons alight!” somebody cried.

Vix paused and turned to her right. They were being surrounded. This was the third beacon towards the direction of Warden. Already, in the direction of Queenborough, the beacons were burning as far as her field of vision would allow her to see. They were basically being cut off. The one thing that they had going in their favor was the wall.

So many people had complained against the hard, backbreaking labor that had been required. She would do her best not to rub their noses in it later when this crisis was averted. It was far too early for her to gloat.

“It looks like the entire population of the bloody country is here,” a young man hissed as he moved past Vix on the walkway.

Vix looked out across the water at the horde that were following their brethren into the surf and across the waterway to what had once been their peaceful refuge. It still did not make a great deal of sense. In all the years since the first days of the zed rising, the abominations had not made it a point to just walk out into the water.

“Something caused this,” Vix grunted as she thrust down with her spear.

Her shoulders were starting to protest. Her shift was not even a half hour old, and already she was feeling the muscles start to ache. After three shifts of an hour each yesterday, and this just her first one today, she did not look forward to what she might feel like in a few days.

For the next thirty minutes, she put her body on auto-pilot and let her mind drift. She considered all of the choices made in the past decade and fixed on every single one that she now viewed as a mistake. The first one was actually in relation to the walkway and wall system that she was currently using.

The meetings had been worse than the old days of Parliament with all of the hissing and shouting that took place. The people were divided on three lines: first was the group that believed that only a section of the island needed to be walled off; second was the group that wanted the entire island walled off; and last were those who felt no need for a wall at all. The third group was the smallest, and quickly pounced upon by the other two as each side sought to secure the majority vote.

In the end, most of the island had been walled off. The wall proper was set inland about fifty to a hundred yards depending on location as some ground was more stable in certain places. However, Vix only brushed over that for a moment; currently, her biggest regret was the fact that she had allowed herself to settle in a location that had no ready escape.

She felt a tap on her shoulder and breathed a sigh of relief that her shift was over. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, she headed down the stairs and made her way home. She wanted to just flop on her bed and sleep until the knock came at the door that would signal it was time to start over, but she could not relax until she’d washed up.

After dumping the basin out, Vix was finally prepared to get some rest. Her eyes had not closed for more than a minute or two when a knock came.

“Impossible,” she growled as she got up to answer.

“You need to come with me right away.” It was Chaaya. She was in full gear for a trip off the island. Two others were with her, both also dressed for the field.

“What is going—” she started, but was not given the chance to finish as a hand came up and covered her mouth.

“Not here, and not now!” a man hissed. Even in the hushed tone, she recognized the voice of Gordon Richardson.

Gordon was average when it came to height, and even by the new standard, he was a bit skinny for a bloke. However, it was his voice that made you remember Gordon from the first time you met; it was deeper than you would expect by a considerable amount. His fair hair and blue eyes were pleasant to look at and he always had a bit of a lopsided smile on his face.

The other individual was Marjorie Burns. Marjorie had been an up and coming snowboarder on the extreme sports circuit as well as an Olympic hopeful when the world ended. She had lost none of her attitude or daredevil outlook in all that time. If there was a trip to be made, she was always a volunteer, if not a leader. Marjorie was also a bit of a scrapper. Her round face was highlighted by a flat nose from the frequent scrapes the woman seemed to find; and she did not care if you were man or woman—in more ways than one. Lately, she and Chaaya had been an item.

“Suit up.” A satchel was thrust at Vix by Gordon. She opened it, not really surprised to discover the full field compliment inside.

After a brief internal debate, she shrugged and did as she was asked. Ten minutes later, she was moving along the wall, headed towards what had once been the Elmley National Nature Reserve. Now, it was pasture and open grazing land for sheep, cows, and chickens as well as a few horses.

It was an hour later when she noticed that none of the danger lanterns on the wall towers were lit in this area. That was a good thing, she decided as she walked in silence with the others. Twice she had tried to ask what was going on; both times she had been unceremoniously hushed and told that she would be told everything in due time.

They stopped suddenly and Vix heard a jingle of keys. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Nobody was allowed to have the keys with the exception of the roving patrol assigned to that area. The day that the zombies had been sighted across the channel, all of the keys had been collected and secured. There would be no excursions. This was one of what Vix called “The Horror Cinema Rules.” This rule in particular was enacted simply because somebody had mentioned that somebody always left a door unsecured in the movies, and that is how the monsters got in and wiped out the humans. In the event of an assault from outside the walls—living or undead—all keys were secured until the threat had been dealt with and declared null.

“Okay,” Vix snapped, folding her arms across her body and planting her feet in the ground, “I’m not budging until somebody tells me what the bloody hell this is all about!”

The nervous looks that passed between the trio did not go unnoticed; there could be no doubt that something was seriously wrong. At last, Chaaya gave Marjorie a nudge forward. “Tell her what you saw.”

“But we can’t be sure.” Marjorie shook her head. “I told you that I didn’t want to involve anybody else in the first place. You tell her!”

Chaaya looked over at Gordon who nodded his agreement. All this did was annoy Vix further. It was bad enough to be woken up after a shift on the wall. Then she had been basically shanghaied into coming on this secret little journey for who-knows-why.

“Just spit it out, or I am going back home.” Vix glared at Marjorie, her eyes flicking down to the woman’s clenched fists. “And don’t think you can threaten me, girl. You aren’t the only one who knows how to handle herself in a scrap.”

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