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Authors: Bret Wellman

Tags: #Horror | Dystopian | Vampires

Dead by Dawn

BOOK: Dead by Dawn
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Dead by Dawn

by Bret Wellman

 

 

 

 

 

Text copyright 2015 by Bret Wellman

 

All rights reserved, except as permitted under the U.S. copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

 

First paperback edition: October 2015

 

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

Wellman, Bret, 1988-

Dead by Dawn : a novel / by Bret Wellman. - 1st ed.

 

 

 

Prologue

 

             
Far below their homes on a warm spring day, three people would come into contact without knowing it. The chance of these three people being in the same place at the same time, so far from home, was astronomical. That they would one day meet again is a testament to how small the world actually is.

They met without realizing it at a rest stop just passed the Florida-Alabama border.

It was a rusty old place, the bathrooms most likely crawling with Hepatitis. Anyone who went in surely came out wishing they could wash their whole body. It was better outside, with a row of vending machines placed just under the protective edge of the building’s slanted roof. There were green picnic tables scattered sporadically across the lawn. Large trees cast shade down upon them.

The parking lot out front, lined against the expressway, was full with people on their way home from spring break. They came and went in a never-ending line of traffic. They were the vacationers, the snow birds and their vast number contributed to why the three would never remember having met each other on that day. They had no way of knowing how entwined their fates would become.

The moment they met wasn’t special in any way. It happened and then it passed, none of them paid any particular attention to the other.

Joe, the first of three, was a tower of walking muscle. He was fresh off base for the last time and on his way home to take care of his sick mother. He was exiting the bathroom and on his way to his tiny old truck. The truck wasn’t anything to look at, but it ran reasonably well and he could afford it, nothing else mattered.

Sarah, the second of the three, was sitting at the nearest picnic table with her family. Her mother brought a cake and sat it on the table while her dad and brother poked in all the candles. Sarah was disappointed that she had to spend her birthday on the ride home, but understood they had to get back before school started. It was her fourteenth birthday and she already felt older. The things her brother did were completely childish by comparison.

Adam was the third and he was on his way home from spring break as well. The difference was he was with his friends and it was his senior year.

It was his actions that would bring them into contact.

He was at the vending machine trying to decide what he wanted to eat. He was on the fence between a bag of barbecue chips and a candy bar. In all reality he was leaning pretty hard towards the chips. That was when one of his buddies, a guy named Sam, came up and shouldered the machine.

The chips jarred themselves lose, but didn’t fall. Sam hit the machine again.

“Knock that off!” he heard a lady yell.

Adam turned to see the mother of the birthday party glaring at them. His eyes fell from her to her daughter. The girl was young, but cute. She definitely ‘had potential’, as he and his buddies liked to say.

They made eye contact and the girl looked down at her lap.

“Mind your own business hag,” said Sam as he hit the machine a third time.

The statement was so shocking that Adam couldn’t help but laugh.

The woman stood up, ready to retaliate, but her husband grabbed her hand.

“Honey, they’re just kids. It’s not worth it,” he said.

It was during Sam’s fifth strike that the chips finally fell. His smile was wide as he bent down to retrieve them.

It was at that moment that a large shadow fell over them. Adam looked up into the glaring eyes of a Goliath. He looked like he was in his early thirties with a buzz cut and a pissed off view of the world.

Adam took a step back.

“Are these kids bothering you?” the large man asked.

“They’re stealing food from the vending machine,” said the mother.

Sam took off running, chips in hand. He went straight for the back of the building and turned out of sight, leaving Adam alone and terrified
.
 

“Sorry,” he said, before following his friend’s retreat.

The large man turned to the family. “What a bunch of punks.”

The mother gave him a nod of approval. “Thank you.”

The family turned back to the birthday party, so Joe continued on to his truck.

The brief encounter would be lost in a slush of memories, to be reminisced only as a vague outline.

They would go their own way and live their own lives. None of them would think of each other. None would see each other again for four years. Not until the greatest tragedy in the history of the
Earth
unfolded.

 

Chapter 1

 

             
The Lodge is a small log cabin bar located at the eastern edge of Pennsylvania. It’s an unpretentious place with one lamp over its dirt parking lot. There’s usually no more than four vehicles parked there at once. Three of those four are bound to be rusty old trucks. Inside it’s dark; there’s a pool table in the back and one television over the bar that always plays sp
orts. The patrons there were mostly from the steelworkers’ union, and didn’t take kindly to new faces.

On that night, there were two new faces. They sat on stools at a chipped wooden table in the back corner. They made no effort to talk to anyone else; they were content just being left alone.

The first of these two men had a long hooked nose and sharp eyes. His head had been shaved to the skin ever since he started balding in his mid twenties. He wore a long sleeve shirt that was blue plaid and gray cowboy boots poked out from under his black denim jeans. His name was Keith Hunter, and he carried a .380ACP pistol in his front right pocket at all times.

He scratched at a chip in the table, digging out a splinter. He’d chosen to go to this bar. Given how the place liked to treat new faces, it probably wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had. Neither of them cared however, they weren’t the type to be intimidated.

The other guy was Joe Taylor. At 6’5” 265 pounds, Joe was a sight to behold. He was a dominating presence, rippling with muscle. His face barely ever betrayed his emotions, and he always seemed to be in control of the situation. He was a handsome man too. He looked perfectly at ease in a white T-shirt and work boots. He never left the house without his old red ball cap that was beginning to fray at the seams.

Both men had some form of military background. Keith was a former captain in the US Army Special Forces. Joe spent four years of service flying helicopters in the Air Force, before coming home to take over the family farm.

Before that, they both graduated from the same high school. That was where they first met and became good friends. Their birthdays were only a week apart, so they decided to grab a few beers when their 36th came along.

Joe lifted the bottle with one of his large hands and took a pull. He s
macked his lips to better soak in the taste. Liquid hops.

“We must’ve had a hundred guys charging at us,” Keith went on with the story h
e was telling.

“I’m crapping my pants, ready to die. These guys are going to steamroll us. Then, without warning, Tanner takes the RPG we found and fires it.”

He slapped his hand on the table and let out a boisterous laugh. “You should have seen the Taliban when that thing exploded. I shit you not, there wasn’t one guy that didn’t turn tail and head for the hills.”

His eyes glazed over, taking on a mystified appearance. “Hot damn that was a good day.”

“Sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed yourself,” said Joe.

“Oh, I did. I loved every damn minute of it.”

“Seems like a guy can find better things to love.”

Keith shook his head. “No sir, not on t
his Earth. If those sons of bitches want us dead, then I got nothing better to do than to see them there first.” He took a drink. “Besides, I ca
n't think of a better time than a day out on the shooting range with free ammunition. The cost of ammunition alone would be enough to make me sign up again. That’s not even mentioning how boring everyday life can get. I miss the excitement, you know?”

“You ever try fishing?”

“Come on man, are you kidding me?”

“Just asking.”

“I did do a little bow fishing I guess, but not in a while.”

Joe thought it over as he took another drink. He glanced at the pool table where two older men were playing a game. The dim light over their heads cast eerie shadows across their faces. They looked like ghosts.

“You wanna take ‘em on?” asked Keith.

Joe shook his head. “Nah.”

“Come on, it’d be like old times. You, me, schooling the competition.”

“Give those men some credit, they seem to be making their fair share of shots.”

“Maybe, I mean it’s been a while since I’ve played and I don’t know about you. Still, I bet we could take ‘em.”

“Not tonight,” said Joe, finishing the bottle. “I’m getting another beer, you want one?”

“Well, I certainly didn’t come here to drink water.”

The bartender was a heavier set woman with a bad complexion and a heart tattoo on her shoulder that read “Styx.” She had a permanent scowl on her face as she handed out drinks.

Joe waited for her at the end of the bar. She poured a few shots before
coming over.

“What can I get yah?”

“Two Buds,” said Joe.

The bartender grabbed two bottles and twisted off both caps. She managed to look pissed the entire time she was doing this.

“That’s four bucks.”

Joe left her a five and headed back to their table. Keith had his phone out when he got there.

“Have you seen this?” He asked, as if Joe could see the screen his face was buried in.

“Seen what?”

Keith handed him the phone. It was playing a video. On the screen was a boy, maybe nine or ten. He was standing on the front porch of a small home. It was pitch black except for the small light that dangled above his head. The light illuminated the sliding glass door behind the boy, but for some reason, Joe couldn’t make out his reflection.

On the opposite side of t
he door, swaying in and out of the frame, was an older man. He looked dazed and could only be seen partly even when he was in the frame.

The boy stood there, apparently talking, and then dove through the glass. The door exploded into a thousand tiny pieces as he went through.

Both he and the older man fall out of the frame and into the house.

Once they were out of sight the video ended.

Joe handed the phone back. “Damn kid jumped right through that glass door.”

“A little exciting, but not that big a deal right? Now check this out.” Keith handed the phone back.

As the video began to play, it was of the same porch on a similar dark night. The lonely light still swayed in front of the sliding glass door, but this time there was no boy. The man was still there however, swaying in and out of the frame.

Joe waited, wondering what would happen. Eventually the glass door shattered inward, with no visual catalyst as to why.

“That’s the same footage filmed by two different cameras.”

“What do you mean?” asked Joe, handing the phone back.

“This thing is all over the internet right now. Apparently it’s two different cameras set up right next to each other. One camera uses mirrors to capture an image, the other doesn’t. The kid you saw only shows up on the camera that doesn’t have mirrors.”

“Strange,” said Joe.

“It gets even weirder. That kid you see, they had his funeral earlier that day. The kid was dead, man. And to top it off, you saw the father standing behind the door right? Well that’s the last known time anyone has ever seen him.”

“The kid died when he jumped through the glass?” asked Joe.

“No, he was already dead. He died a few days before. His funeral was that day.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s what I’m trying to say. Nobody can make any sense of it.”

“Huh?” said Joe.

“Isn’t that crazy? A dead kid show
s up at his parents

house and only appears on cameras that don’t use
mirrors. I’ve never even heard of such a thing. It gives me the creeps.”

“It’s all smoke and mirrors Keith. I wouldn’t buy into it.”

“It seems pretty legit. I mean, as far as these things can be.”

“Who places two cameras right next to each other and leaves them recording for no reason?”

Keith sat up. “That’s just it. The dad was claiming that his dead son kept visiting him at night. No one believed him so he set up a bunch of cameras. There’s literally four different angles where the kid isn’t there and only one where he is.”

“Have you seen the special effects they can put in movies nowadays?” asked Joe.

“Yea,” said Keith. “You’re probably right, but there’s a ton of people online who think it’s real. And that being the last time anyone’s ever seen the dad, that’s real. I saw it on the news.”

Joe thought it over as he took another swig of beer. “I’ll hand it to you, the story is a little out there.”

“To say the least.” Keith slapped his hand on the table, leaving a twenty flat. “I’m going to take a wiz, make sure the waitress gets us a few more.”

Joe eyed his half full beer before agreeing to do what he said. He would have to drink fast because the waitress made her rounds every couple of minutes. Add to the fact that he had just ordered a round from the bar and he probably had almost no time at all.

Once Keith was gone, he realized how unfriendly the bar really was. It seemed like every other guy was eyeing him down. They stared, daring Joe to stare back. It was a challenge and if he accepted, it would insinuate a fight. He wouldn’t do that, not while he was surrounded. It wasn’t that he would cower away either, he simply acted indifferent. He didn’t feel the slightest need to prove himself.

By the time Keith got back from the bathroom he thought he might be up for a fight anyway. The continuous glares were rubbing him the wrong way. They were relentless and he was beginning to think fighting was inevitable. A fight, even if he was outnumbered, was way better than the limbo before a fight. He’d never been one to talk or wait around for somebody else to throw the first punch. He preferred to get things started so he could teach his lessons then move on.

“That bathroom is nasty,” said Keith. “I’ve seen cleaner piss holes carved out of dirt.”

“You’re the one that wanted to come here,” said Joe.

“That doesn’t mean I have to love their shitty bathroom.”

Just then their waitress came back with the drinks.

“Who’s in charge of the shitter?” asked Keith. “Because they’re not doing their job.”

This seemed to piss the waitress off. “If it’s not up to your standards, I can get a mop for you.”

“At this point I think I would need a flame thrower.”

The waitress walked away, shaking her head.

“Smooth,” said Joe.

“What?”

“Remind me not to order any food tonight…”

“Hey,” yelled a baritone voice. Joe turned to see a dark bearded biker staring at him from the bar. The waitress was standing behind him. “I think it’s about time you two took off.”

Joe glanced back at Keith, who had a smirk on his face.

“You hear me?” called the biker.

Joe made a quick observation of his surroundings. The wolves were getting ready to pounce.

“What do you think?” asked Keith. “I can take the four at the bar if you take the rest.”

That left Joe to contend with six guys, four if he counted the ones who were most likely to actually fight. It was long odds for even him. If he kept moving and counted on a little luck, it could be done. He took the bartender into account as well; she looked like the type of lady who might crack him in the skull with a beer mug if he got too close.

“I’m not going to tell you again,” said the biker.

Joe took one last look at Keith. He was ready to fight, already mapping out the plan of attack in his head. It was the type of challenge he thrived upon in his youth.

The Air Force had calmed him down however, and he was no longer as wild as he used to be.

Joe drank the rest of his beer and slammed it down on the table.


Come on. W
e’
re leaving
.

BOOK: Dead by Dawn
4.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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