Tag Archives: horror

Dead Train: All Aboard Snippet One

Hey everyone, here is the first snippet for Dead Train: All Aboard.  You can expect Dead Train: All Aboard on 12 October, 2018.

Chapter One

The zombies didn’t move out of the way as two thousand nine hundred and fifty tons of steel rolled into them.  The train didn’t lurch, it didn’t shudder, it didn’t even really slow as it crushed dozens of the rotting corpses and rolled right on through.  The train snow plow on the front mostly sent the mindless undead tumbling out of the way, shattering their bones and leaving those it struck limp and motionless.  Jack couldn’t even hear the sound of crunching bone and tearing flesh over the sound of the train’s wheels on the tracks and the grumble of the diesel-electric locomotives.

A few would sometimes find their way under the wheels or would catch a grip on one of the sides of the cars in passing.  That was why the train riders went to full defensive status as they passed through towns.  In towns, the train had to slow down for curves and track switches.  As Jack watched, hundreds more zombies shambled out of the otherwise dark and deserted town, drawn by the noise of the train.  Most of them were too slow to reach the train in time, but a handful were either fresher or simply more energetic, and those managed a stumbling run.

Most of those grasped blindly for the train and many of them lacked the dexterity necessary to accomplish anything beyond falling beneath the wheels and being ground into a red paste.  Survivors fended off the handful that caught hold, using improvised spears.  This situation wasn’t severe enough to warrant the use of ammunition.

“Watch for clingers,” Jack shouted over his radio.  “Report in your status by car!”  Captain Jack Zamora waited patiently, his body armor, weapons, and helmet a familiar weight.  The gray-eyed former Army officer kept a confident expression on his lean face, even as he felt worry eat at his gut.

“Car forty-nine, all clear,” Chris Peck reported.  The former construction project manager from Cincinnati had a proper attention to detail, which was why Jack had chosen him for the trail car.  “No clingers and we’re clear of the town.”

The other cars reported in, one by one, and as the train began to pick up speed again, Jack gave a silent prayer of thanks.  It looked like they’d made it.

“This is car twelve!” A panicked voice shouted over the radio, “Taylor is down, there’s a zombie, oh god, they’re killing us!”

Jack didn’t take the time to swear.  He waved at the response team and started running back along the line of cars.  Twelve cars, he did the math as he ran, trying not to think about how many women and children were in car twelve, fifty-five and a half feet per car, that’s six hundred and sixty-six feet.

Jack didn’t even notice the gaps between cars as he jumped them, shotgun clutched in his hands.  A single zombie wasn’t too bad of a hazard, not by itself, not normally.  They’ll be alright, he tried to tell himself.  Yet he knew just how close they were to Indianapolis.  He knew that bodies rose quicker the closer they were to the dead cities.  One zombie would kill one person and the corpse would rise.  Two would kill two more…

As he rushed forward, he saw car twelve.  Children clustered on the top, center part of the car, passed up by their parents to safety.  As he watched, a screaming woman tried to pull herself up on the side, clutching at the ropes that the survivors had run across the top for just that purpose.

Reaching arms caught her and pulled her back.  She let out a shrill scream as they dragged her back and Jack knew the look on her face, he’d seen it far too often over the past six months.  It was terror, but it was also disbelief.  She didn’t understand –couldn’t understand– why this was happening to her.  Before Jack could raise his shotgun, he heard that scream cut off with brutal finality and even over the noise of the train he heard the grinding crunch as she fell beneath the rail wheels.

Jack knew that there probably weren’t any other survivors in the car, but he didn’t hesitate.  He ran forward, caught a side rope, and swung into the open car door feet first.

His boots slammed into a cluster of undead and the zombies tumbled back from the impact.  Jack found his footing and brought up his shotgun.  He recognized Taylor’s gray and bloodless face, the former Marine’s throat ripped out.  He fired the Remington 870 Express and blood and bits of brain matter splattered his face and eye protection.  As the headless zombie stumbled back, Jack pivoted, racked the slide, and picked his next target.

This was an older zombie, its flesh gray and its face sunken.  It came at Jack with a jagged shard of bone sticking out of its arm where its hand should have been.  Jack fired into the thing’s center of mass.  As the zombie stumbled back, Jack moved forward, clearing the area.

The rest of his response team came through the open door behind him.

There was no finesse to what they did.  As they joined him, Jack dropped his shotgun, letting the friction strap swing it back against his chest, even as he drew his hooligan crash ax. The short, ax-like blade was designed purely for chopping and Jack swung it as the next zombie came forward.  His heavy blade split the zombie’s skull and as the undead child stumbled, Jack tried not to think, tried not to see, tried to turn off his mind as he split skulls, separated shoulders, and kicked moaning undead out the open side of the train-car.

Clearing the car took less than thirty seconds.  He’d become so disconnected that it took a panicked shout “No, no, stop!” for him to halt, mid swing, about to brain a survivor who stood behind a makeshift barricade.

Jack lowered the ax, the blade covered in blood and hair, with bits of skin stuck to it.  He tried not to think about the crusty, sticky nature of his stained uniform.  The man that he’d nearly killed stared at him with a mixture of fear and shock, but with a level of hero worship that made Jack want to vomit.  He turned away.  “Status?” Jack barked.  He answered his own question in the same way he had drilled his team.  “One up.”

“Two up,” Joshua Wachope reported.  The tall, bearded, lanky Special Forces man gave him a thumbs up.  Josh was solid and there wasn’t anyone that Jack trusted more than him in a fight.  I wish he was in charge of this shit, Jack thought, not for the first time.

“Three up,” Johnny Woodard said as he wiped down his ax.  The tall, dark, former combat medic looked care-free, as if dismembering people was an everyday occurrence.  Come to think of it, Jack thought, it very nearly is…

“Four up,” Hector Chavez snapped.  The stocky, perpetually angry man glowered at the survivors of the train car.  “How the hell did this happen?!”

“A zombie came in through the latrine hole,” a woman said, her voice distant.  “It crawled up and it stabbed Taylor with its arm.  Just like that and then he attacked Sophie and…”  Her voice trailed off into a confused babble.

“How many survivors?” Jack asked as he turned back to face the men clustered behind the barricade.  They’d flipped up a couple of the bunk beds and chairs, he saw.  Quick thinking, Jack thought.  Though he wished they’d been quicker.  One man with a weapon could have stopped all this before it got out of hand.

“Uh…” the two men looked around, both of them clearly shell-shocked.

Jack restrained a sigh.  “All of you, come out.  We need to check you for injuries and infection.”  He shouldn’t blame them, it wasn’t their fault that they didn’t know what to do, how to function.  The cars at the center of the train were for those survivors who didn’t understand, who couldn’t defend themselves.  They’re weak… a voice spoke in the back of his mind, but he squashed that voice.  His people would train them, they would become useful members of his group… one way or another.

“Are they…” a woman gasped, “… are they contagious?  I saw Frank, he got bit!”  She pointed an accusatory finger at one of the men on the barricade.

The group surged away from the man and Jack just shook his head.  “No.  No they’re not contagious.”  Well, he admitted to himself, only in the sense that they’re dead and they can make you dead, too.  “But if you’re injured, then your wounds could turn septic and you could die.”  And then you’d rise from the dead and try to kill us all.  “We’ve got a medic, he’ll check you out.”

In theory, all the people on the train should know that… but they’d just picked up a few dozen survivors two days ago.  Train car twelve was one of the places they put those survivors.

The latrines have covers that should have been latched until we got the all clear, Jack thought to himself.  It wouldn’t surprise him if one of the newbies had left that cover open.  That meant someone in the car had effectively killed Taylor and all the others.  Jack just hoped that whoever it was had paid with their life.

If not, he thought grimly, I’ll kill whoever was responsible.

***

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Schade of Night Book Review

Schade of Night by JP Wilder
Schade of Night by JP Wilder

I read JP Wilder’s Schade of Night this past weekend and I wanted to share my review of that.  Here’s the book description below:

Schade Lee, ex-FBI agent turned PI, is on a mission to prove her dreams wrong. While on a case to find runaway Kylie Berson, Schade follows a gruesome path where she learns Kylie is in love with a serial killer with animalistic instincts. But what she does not know is that the killer is of supernatural origins, that she will inherit a demonic bloodline on her thirty-third birthday, and that she has had a guardian since birth.

After the killer lures her to a frozen town, Schade meets her guardian, Kenan Quicke, who tells her they are allies with the same goal. But Schade, who has never made a habit of trusting strangers, decides to continue on her mission—just as she learns the killer has set his sights on her. His plan is to recover an ancient artifact and use it to steal her budding power at the height of her soul’s transition. Now, with help from Kenan, she must not only defeat the killer and destroy the artifact, but also face the Sentinels, a shadowy organization that intends to enslave her for their own purposes.

I’ll start this off by saying Schade of Night is very dark contemporary fantasy.  The characters live in a twisted, shadowy world where people’s souls are stripped from them, characters lives are taken, and where being a seemingly main character is no guarantee for survival.  JP Wilder does a great job of showing that, as every page gives the reader a level of concern about not just how the book might end, but whether this or that character is even going to make it to the next paragraph.

Wilder ratchets up the tension with each encounter and his attention to detail is such that the universe is encompassing and solid, even if, as blood spatters everywhere, you might not wish to be so immersed just then.  The violence comes quick and often, and the characters are in the unenviable positions of knowing exactly what they need to do… and knowing they haven’t a hope in hell of doing it on their own.

Schade of Night is a book that embraces the darkness of its own story and comes out the other side giving the reader a sense that, while the world may be a dark place, there are still those who will face that darkness and fight it until the end.  It is not a story of happy endings but of calamities averted at great cost.  You don’t need to read Schade of Night, but you should.

 

Kal’s Fall 2014 Reading List

Something I’ve noticed since publishing my stuff (and getting paid for it) is that my available time for reading has dropped off.  As a consequence, I’ve limited my own reading to books and authors I know I’ll enjoy.  That said, I still read, and I still try to find new books and authors, but at a much lower rate.  Right now I read new books about once a month, this from a guy who used to tear through 3-5 full length novels in a week.

That said, I still enjoy reading and it is a measure of how much I enjoy some authors that when I find out one has a book available I’ll drop everything I’m doing to read their stuff.  Here’s the books that I’ve already read or will be reading this fall.  As a disclaimer, some of these aren’t available yet, but I picked up the eARCs from Baen.

Ryk Spoor’s Paradigms Lost

Being an expert in information searches, image processing and enhancement, pattern matching, and data forensics earned Jason Wood a lot of money – from private contracts and working with the police. And it was a nice, comfortable job most of the time. But then an informant showed up dead on his doorstep, a photograph didn’t show someone who’d been in the viewfinder when the picture was taken, and Jason’s world is suddenly turned upside-down.

Against things that violate the very reality he thought he understood, Jason has only three weapons: his best friend Sylvie, his talent for seeing patterns… and his ability to think beyond the pattern and see a solution that no one else imagined. Against the darkness of the unknown, the greatest weapon is the light of reason.

A vastly expanded and revised edition of Digital Knight, Ryk E. Spoor’s first published novel, Paradigms Lost adds two brand new adventures for Jason and includes many chapters of additional material within the originals.

David Weber and Timothy Zahn’s A Call to Duty

Growing up, Travis Uriah Long yearned for order and discipline in his life . . . the two things his neglectful mother couldn’t or wouldn’t provide. So when Travis enlisted in the Royal Manticoran Navy, he thought he’d finally found the structure he’d always wanted so desperately.

But life in the RMN isn’t exactly what he expected. Boot camp is rough and frustrating; his first ship assignment lax and disorderly; and with the Star Kingdom of Manticore still recovering from a devastating plague, the Navy is possibly on the edge of budgetary extinction.

The Star Kingdom is a minor nation among the worlds of the Diaspora, its closest neighbors weeks or months away, with little in the way of resources. With only modest interstellar trade, no foreign contacts to speak of, a plague-ravaged economy to rebuild, and no enemies looming at the hyper limit, there are factions in Parliament who want nothing more than to scrap the Navy and shift its resources and manpower elsewhere.

But those factions are mistaken. The universe is not a safe place.

Travis Long is about to find that out.

Kenton Kilgore’s Lost Dogs

When our world ends, their struggle begins

Buddy–a German Shepherd–and Sally–a Beagle/Basset Hound mix–are the beloved pets of Rob and Gennifer Bennett and their young daughter Audrey. Their home is Kent Island, MD: a beautiful, peaceful place, good for raising a family, good for having dogs.

When unearthly beings strike without warning or mercy against humankind, Buddy and Sally lose the ones they love and the lives they knew. Now they must band together with other “lost dogs” to find food, water, and shelter in a world suddenly without their owners.

But survival is not enough for Buddy: he holds out hope that Rob, Genn, and Audrey live. And that he can find them before inhuman forces ensure that man is never again Earth’s master.

Wen Spencer’s Eight Million Gods

A new urban fantasy saga by the creator of the popular Tinker contemporary fantasy/SF series. A young American expat writer in Japan suffering from OCD tries to figure out if she’s crazy or not while solving a murder that may be part of a war among Japanese deities.

A contemporary fantasy of mystery and death as American expats battle Japanese gods and monsters to retrieve an ancient artifact that can destroy the world.

One Saturday afternoon, Nikki Delany thought, “George Wilson, in the kitchen, with a blender.” By dinner, she had killed George and posted his gory murder to her blog. The next day, she put on her mourning clothes and went out to meet her best friend for lunch to discuss finding a replacement for her love interest.

Nikki is a horror novelist.  Her choice of career is dictated by an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that forces her to write stories of death and destruction.  She can’t control it, doesn’t understand it, but can use it to make money anywhere in the world. Currently “anywhere” is in Japan, hiding from her mother who sees Nikki’s OCD as proof she’s mentally unstable.  Nikki’s fragile peace starts to fall apart when the police arrest her for the murder of an American expatriate. Someone killed him with a blender.

Reality starts to unravel around Nikki.  She’s attacked by a raccoon in a business suit.  After a series of blackouts, she’s accompanied by a boy that no one else can see, a boy who claims to be a god.  Is she really being pursued by Japanese myths—or is she simply going insane?

What Nikki does know for sure is that the bodies are piling up, her mother has arrived in Japan to lock her up for the rest of her life, she’s written herself into her new book—and her novels always end with everyone dead.