Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Character Profile: Todd O'Neil (DF Tuesday)

Todd O'Neil

Age: 28

Height: 6'

Eyes: Green

Weight: 175 lb.

Birthday: 12/15/84 

Hair: Dark Brown Curls

Race: Cherokee/ Caucasian

Career Before the War: State Trooper.

After the War: Level 4 Eagle in Adrian's Army.

Quote: "I'm more Adrian's than I ever was my mother's."

- Unshakably stubborn about what he believes in.
- Very loyal to his fellow men.
- Always needs to make sure his ass is covered before going out on a limb.
- Is very suspicious of people and of himself.

FBI Notes:
Todd O'Neil applied to be an FBI agent in 1978 but was denied for failing the mental test.
Has no capacity to give his life in service despite being a public servant.

Unlike most of the others at Safe Haven, Todd had a decent childhood. His mom was a hooker who died in the jailhouse during the birth, and his father, a sheriff, did a good job of raising his unwanted and very unexpected offspring.

Todd followed in his father's footsteps becoming a cop and then a Arizona state trooper but he has always worried how much like his mother he really is. It makes him very straight-laced.

When the war came, he and his dad tried to defend the jail. Todd was the only one to survive. He found Kyle a week latter, rescuing the mobster from a car accident and the unlikely pair became fast friends.

Neil has never let his hair down and refuses to go anywhere without his state trooper hat. Everyone assumes to be his. It really belonged to his father, and he wears it to honor a hero who fell in the line of duty.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Farm: A Story of Drugs, Invasion, and Post Apocalyptic Survival

It was the biggest field of weed they'd ever seen. Huge, sticky green buds on plants that stretched over their heads, and it ran as far they could see. Acres and acres of food. It was also the first pot farm they'd seen that had no guards.

They'd waited almost two days before approaching it, letting the fragrant scent drive them crazy with hunger, knowing their lives depended on it, but the huge patch of weed seemed abandoned. That was like an unguarded bank before the invasion. Just not right. This was the currency now. Where were the cops?

The trio moved slowly at first, sunken eyes darting over their shoulders but as they got further into the jungle of buds and no one came, the females began hurriedly filling their pockets, chattering excitedly. The male with them followed their lead but he never stopped looking for an ambush, even as his hands pulled the green loose and filled his pack with it. They weren't supposed to be here. High World was lethal now. Hadn't he lost every one he'd traveled with since the War?

The map to this place had been written in blood on the crumbling wall of a bathroom stall just outside D.C., the capital long since fallen, and they'd been following it a long time. Seventeen of them had crawled from the sewer. Half that number had crossed the Georgia state line. Now there was just the three of them, looking for the only food that satisfied them now. Grass. 

They were also searching for those who'd found this place before, the map-makers, and the females fell into a heated discussion about where to start looking for them. Their pale faces and thin arms stood out in vivid contrast to their growing stomachs and huge appetites, and the man turned his gaze back to the green around them, hardening his heart. They'd had little mercy on him. Why should he care? All they wanted was this, the food their minds craved relentlessly thanks to the planet's water supply being contaminated. 

The man fingered the weed in his pocket, hollow eyes still searching for the threat; sure they were in trouble here. Nothing looked wrong but the feeling didn't fade. His eyes went back to the females, confusion and impotent rage in their depths. Thanks to the new need for the green, men were now slaves, literally, and their numbers were far more endangered than the women. He had a feeling that too had been planned, a part of the invasion. They'd been turned against each other in mere weeks and their enemy had obviously known which gender was more ruthless.

One of the females met his bitter eyes with a smirk and when she waved an arrogant hand, he went without protest, lest she punish him with pot. Even now, his body demanded he gobble it while his brain ordered him to destroy it. He held out his full pack to the woman; let her take it without argument. If he did that, they'd turn on him, kill him. Both females carried perfect sons. He was expendable now.

The trio made shelter in the far corner of the field, close to the woods for running, and as they settled in for the night, the man's eyes went over the silvery threads winding up a nearby withering tree. They'd seen more and more of those, along with huge holes in the ground and buildings crushed flat, like they'd been pounded down with an enormous mallet. Everything was changing in High World. In the six months they'd hidden below, topside had become a nightmare. Friends walking next to them vanished into the ground, their screams following running feet, and the sun no longer came except in brief glances.

For those who ventured up, the cravings driving them, few survived. Even knowing these were the symptoms of addiction that were being used to lure them out of hiding, only held for so long and then the need took over. Unlike most habits, this one got stronger the longer you were off of it. Except for him. 

The man's eyes narrowed on the silvery threads again. For some reason, he seemed to be building immunity to it, the desire fading. He'd figured out if he didn't drink the water unless it was bottled before the invasion, then he wasn't being poisoned.

It was still strong though, like when they'd stepped into the field, and he pretended to eat, sitting with his back to the females. He was fighting it, was sure he could win. Others would be the same, other men, and this was his reason for joining the group. A man alone now drew too much attention. With owners, he could quietly search for others like him. Together, they'd fight back, organize a resistance. 

The thought was exciting and the man pushed himself up into the nearest tree without the shiny threads so his feelings wouldn't show. These two were just a means to an end. They had no desire to quit the weed, only to find a safe place to grow it and he doubted he'd be with them much longer.

The females watched him with glittering eyes, blaming all men for what had happened, and they spoke in low tones when he settled in a branch and closed his eyes. He often chose the trees, hating the reeking heat of their growing bodies against him in the night, and normally, he was tied to one of them. Tonight, they probably wouldn't bother. Who would leave all this food when they were all starving?

The THC soon had the women sleeping, faces relaxed, dreaming of their old worlds, no doubt. There was little in this new hell to dream of without waking yourself and everyone else with shrieking screams.

The man considered leaving them here. They might not track him down if there was this to hold them but he stayed where he was, watching their stomachs rise and fall with the life he'd been forced to put there. He would have been killed had he refused. Did he feel anything for these unwanted unborn? He slowly shook his head, wondering vaguely if man would be back in charge by the time they were born. He sighed, letting sleep finally take him. If not, they were better off dead.

Hungry eyes watched them sleep and there was no sound as the cage door closed, locked. A huge black paw descended and the trap lifted effortlessly into the air, the entire field of pot getting higher and higher as the trap floated toward a waiting aircraft being loaded with hundreds of other similarly baited pens. The winds blew harshly, swirling debris and bones from the ground as the ships hovered.

The man watched from the tree, holding tight as the air shifted. Enormous shadows were exposed to his horrified gaze and he swallowed a warning shout, squeezing his eyes as the screaming began. He thought he heard his name but at this distance, he couldn't be sure. 

The man forced himself to shut his eyes and hunker down, the tears making movement impossible. He would find others like himself and then revenge would be had.

A while later, he slid down the tree and silently moved into the darkness, avoiding the silvery threads that were really the cleverly hidden bars of cages.

It was another lesson learned. His step lightened a bit. They would fight back soon, he could feel their time coming, and for now, he was alive and free, and as far as he knew, still the President.

Do you like post apocalyptic fiction? try this:
The Survivors

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Post Apocalyptic Journal (Story Sunday)

It’s been almost two weeks since the War and I still can’t believe my luck. Joe, a senior Green Peace member, showed up late and heard me trying to dig my way out. There were no other survivors of the secret meeting. Why was I spared? I deserve to still be under that house. My dreams always start me in the basement. Maybe I’ll find answers there.

We're holed up in a barn with a tin roof, waiting out the storms, and I wonder if my companion hears any of what I dream about. Doesn’t matter. Not much does now except making it to Little Rock. My grief for America is almost unbearable.

We hit Nellis today and I think maybe I’m sick. I’m seeing things Joe doesn’t, hearing voices. I see odd colors in new places; stare at eyes that glow like neon bulbs from dark and empty windows. There are words in the trees and movies in the gritty clouds, puddles with reflections… I may be having a break down. It’s barely a scratch on what I deserve.

It’s getting worse. The people we’re seeing, the awful, pain filled refugee’s still trying to find each other, haunt me, stalk me. They fall to their knees at my feet, beg me with tears and outstretched hands to help, to save them, and then I blink, and see they never even looked at us. What the hell is happening to me? Am I in a comma somewhere and this is all one of my horrid nightmares? How I wish that were true. I’d gladly trade my life for America’s.
I share the blame for all the pain and death, should have revealed who I was back when there might have been a chance to stop it all, but like those who betrayed us, I didn’t want anyone to know the truth either. The need to atone is consuming, overwhelming, and I can’t make enough progress each day to be satisfied. The worry is endless.

The dreams are slowly convincing me I’m not crazy, demanding I take action. I remember each scene in such vivid detail when I wake! Even in the clear light of day, they look good to me.
I owe the whole world a huge debt but to my country, I owe everything that I am, even the one waiting for me in Arkansas, and I have to at least try. I’ve decided to start in the morning, when we reach Las Vegas. That infamous skyline is dark now, but in the city that never sleeps, there are people. I know. I can almost feel them.

Other than myself, there are only 30 people here so far. Most of them are elderly men but I doubt half will make it; their injuries are just so bad I can’t help them in anyway but provide drugs to dull the pain and a comforting hand to hold while they die. Each one kills something inside me and I wonder if I’ve sacrificed family for dead strangers but I can’t just walk away. They need me too and other than a little ‘listening’, I’ll put it out of my head and go on. I haven’t abandoned him. I’m just very late.

We sleep in vans and buses, not enough workers for tents yet but I have an idea for two common room set ups, and when the new man, Doug, recovers, that’ll be his first chore. Doug’s important to me, I know it. I just don’t know how yet. I found him by accident or maybe by Fate leading me?
He was trapped under a collapsed concrete bridge in a national forest near the Nevada state line. Small packs of coyotes were keeping him from escaping the crushed car and shallow water, and it’s amazing he survived so long despite his huge size. A retired Army Sergeant, he’s one of my kind, just a little too old for what I need the most. He said a tremor took out the bridge while he was crossing it and that made me decide to start keeping track of those things too. If the temperatures continue to drop, and this is wintertime, so they should, then we won’t make it to Montana before we have to hole up somewhere. That thought keeps me awake at night even when the guilt isn’t burning into me. Where?

Damn, I’m tired. These people are depending on me for everything and I’m encouraging it, showing them I can handle the weight, but between standing guard at night on third shift, rescue and supply runs during the day, and camp setups and breakdowns, I’m beat. I have to get the help, the magic my dreams hinted of last night. Will Fate send me what I need?

We heard foreign voices on an American military channel yesterday and I moved the camp, ordered it. No one argued and that makes it official for me. I’m the boss. I know it’s because they were scared, the voices calling for everyone to surrender to the Mexican Draft, but for me, it’s real now. I’m in charge of 48 terrified, hurting refugees, and I’ve started carrying a portable CB system on my back so I can listen for trouble from that side too. Gangs are attacking towns in New Mexico and Colorado, the stories are awful and many of my "sheep" are now survivors of two Wars. The threat of the Guerillas is a serious one that will require a harsh plan and a lot of defensive work that these people will have to learn, help with. They’ve had an easy ride so far but soon, that will have to change. The first mandatory meeting’s coming up. Guess I’ll find out then if I’ve done enough by them to get their support and cooperation.

They’ve agreed to all the things I wanted. We even have a name now: Safe Haven.
We set up the two big tents, along with a center bonfire in a big metal pool and celebrated by barbecuing the chickens Doug found on a nearby farm. Tomorrow, I’ll show them the mess truck a few of us quietly put together. It has it all, including a hot water heater, and since we have a cafeteria cook now, we’ll have regular meals soon.
We also have more heaters and supplies on the way. Kyle and Neil found an undamaged sports store and I’m damn glad to have those two. They’ve both volunteered for the private and the public police force I’m starting and I chose to split them up, have them both lead their own team. Kyle started first and I’m encouraged, feel okay about sometimes leaving the camp in his hands on third shift.

My leadership is official and I can see some of them waiting for me to become like the politicians of the past but I won’t use my authority unless I have to. I plan to keep giving them back some of what was stolen and slowly, things will come together. I see a better time of it in the future and look forward to the help my dreams keep hinting of. Five or six more like me will take us to better places. Like Arkansas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

End World (Story Sunday)

The heavily armored platoon of soldiers moved in for the kill just as a dim daylight was breaking over the war-torn planet, surrounding the small group of aliens hiding in the dank sewers beneath the burned out city.

Led by an old warhorse Sergeant and a ruthless General with green eyes so pale they appeared transparent. They came through the tunnels like a swarm, breaking large holes in the concrete to get to the people

“Use the darts!” Donre shouted, seeing many of their intended captives falling to gunfire.

“We want them alive!” The Sergeant backed him up and they both ducked as a blast of fire was hurled their way, slamming into the cold stone above their heads.

Soldiers were falling all around them, being killed by the small group that only had three real fighters, their desperation lending them strength. Knives flashed, dart guns fired, flames flew through the air, and yet there were no screams, no pleas for mercy, only orders and grunts of death.

“Get the red heads!” Donre shouted from behind the safety of the Sergeants plentiful men. “Don’t miss one!”

“They keep getting back up!”

“Then up the dose!”

The men hurried to obey and soon it was only the fighters and the soldiers exchanging darts and flames. Donre nodded as the last of the warriors, a huge man with bright red hair, was hit with another dart and went heavily to his knees. It had only been a few minutes and they had another 17 captives. It was a good half hour’s haul.

As things settled down, the Sergeant reported in. “We have four escapes.

They’re being chased but I lost half my damn squad!”

The Sergeant was pissed. He had been with these men for a long time and Donre turned to look at him. “You think we should have waited topside for them to come out?”

The thin man’s eyes were bitter as he nodded, wondering how he’d tell their families he’d gotten their men killed. “Yes. Our losses would have been much lower if we hadn’t listened to your spy.”

The tall, pale General shrugged, tone casual as he watched the soldiers carefully carry the prisoners, obviously shaken up by how much damage only 3 of the dreaded ‘Aliens’ had done. Weak.

“They had to die sometime. Why not in service to the great country that no longer exists?”

The tone was mocking, baiting, and the career man watched the bodies get hesitantly slung over shoulders, frowning. Alien bodies. His soldiers might get picked up later. Might.

“That include you and me?”

The General’s smile was colder than the wind whipping passed them. “Your loyalty’s are not mine.”Then why do you fight with us?”

The Officer turned those pale, unreadable eyes on him and the life long soldier felt threatened by another male for the first time in many years.

“I watch for someone.” He said finally.

“One of them?”

Donre’s lips twisted. “The Alpha isn’t just one of them. He’s the sum of all of them.”

“How do you know he’ll come here? Base says they’re scattered all over.” Donre’s eyes darkened with plans he’d begun a long time ago. “Because I’ve laid a trap. Blinded by youth, calculate betrayals follow.” His grin and age lined face was scared, ugly. “Calculated betrayer, Sergeant. That’s me.”

His green eyes glowed with ruthless satisfaction and he pulled up his hood. “We’ll come back after we drop these at Santa Quarry Detention center. Snake says there’s another group under the old Military installation near here. We’ll hit them next.”

Both men looked up in surprise as not one, but two gray, diamond shaped ships flew out of the green haze, streaking towards them.

“Isn’t this whole planet a no fly zone?”

Donre nodded, watching the second, bigger aircraft gain on the first, firing wildly. The ships bumped, banged, and then they were directly overhead and the soldiers around him started raising their guns.

“Hold your fire!” Donre ordered, turning to the radio man. “Call area 51. Tell them to shoot both and I don’t give a slam about our deal with the Merc.’s. Bring them down!”

The young Captain nodded, fingers working the buttons as the others frowned at the order, exchanging looks. The Sergeant was scowling openly, voice full of disapproval.

“We have rockets. We could have done it.”

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Besides…” Donre shook his head, watching the ships fade into the thick layer of haze that hung over the planet constantly since the war. What was it he felt from that first, smaller ship?

“Yours is not to question.”

Clearly, the man wanted to push but he knew better and the soldier turned away before his mouth could betray him, listening to their communications man relay orders as the rest of the captives were loaded.

The General lingered a moment despite the urge to hurry, pale eyes thoughtful as he fingered the long, gray and black beard hanging down the front of his flowing black robes. Had he felt something? A tiny wave of energy? Furyan energy? He smiled harshly.

“Soon.” He stated icily, turning toward the waiting trucks. “I’ll have what was promised to me.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Plea to Palos (Dark Fantasy Tuesday)

Oh great rock, up in the sky,
Planning to hit humankind in the eye,
Why must you come here,
Threatening all I hold dear?

Oh giant stone, up in space,
Hoping to land on the human race
We know you're coming,
And we're down here running
I wonder what will be your taste
Will it be cold, death's kiss
Or will I see all the people I've missed?

Oh merciless boulder, speeding through the stars
Damn it, are you there, by mars?
On your way to destroy my planet
Do you covet our cars and minibars,
Or have we lost the right to live?
Oh, what judgement you give!

Oh enormous disaster set to happen in 2039
Will I survive your devastation,
And strive to rebuild my nation?
The end is near
Will man still be here?
Unlikely, I fear
I'll miss me

Oh heartless asteroid, spinning closer
Each day, a roller coaster
Can't you move out of the way?
Why must you make My planet pay?
There are thousands of other races
Why mine?

Oh heartless weapon of mass destruction
Will I see your arrival,
And watch the end of man's survival?
Am I safe in my room?

Oh ancient harbinger of doom,
Can I assume its over,
And give those I don't like the cold shoulder?
Or is it a bad time to seek vengeance?

Oh cosmic remnant, knocked off your axis
Why must you sack us?
We've done little harm yet to space
Why must we die?
Can’t you just try,
To miss me on your stop here?

Oh, great Palos, due in a few years
Will you bring the end of life,
Or is it okay to breathe?
Since I have this uncontrollable need
To survive, to remain alive
Mercy, I plea!
Let me and mine be!

This could come true. Palos really exists. It will pass very close to Earth and if it hits a ‘keyhole’, will be pulled into our gravity and impact the Southern hemisphere.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Signs (Story Sunday)


They found the expensive sailboat drifting on open water, its running lights fading but still on.

The search and rescue crew had been sent out as soon as the mayday had come in, female voices screaming in panic, and though it had only taken them an hour to find the Adriana, they saw no one as the crew pulled along side.

From their taller ship, the three men could see the deck clearly and their lights went over things in eerie discovery. There was a cooler, open and still half full of melting ice and drinks, and in the damp wheelhouse, a frosty beer nestled in the captains chair. Between a 9 mm and a baseball bat.

The big gauges showed half a tank of gas that could run the Adriana's engines for hours, a radio that echoed their request for permission to come aboard, and even a lifeboat in tow, a bloody smear across the yellow tarp. Of people, there was still no sight.

The rescue crew surveyed these things uneasily as they boarded the small sloop and the strange stillness of both the air and the ocean under them kept their voices to low mutters.

“Just like the others.”

“Then we won’t find ‘em.”

“Here we go again.” The Captain muttered, waving his nervous men toward the bunks below. It was the third abandoned vessel they’d investigated this month and that was just his crew. The coast guard was covering that many rosters each week.

Despite the high numbers, no one from the government was paying any attention yet.

“Too busy with oil.” He sneered, listening to the suddenly alien sounds of the water.  “Haven’t considered it wasn’t no accident.”

The man looked at the rippling water, feeling the rhythmic motions of the boats riding the light waves. There was a deeper noise under the liquid, almost like a hum, and the lifelong sailor realized he no longer felt comfortable on the ocean.

“Nothin, Cap.” He nodded at the men coming back up, hadn’t expected anyone either.

“Nothin’s outa place. Table set, food on the stove just startin to bubble.”

“Just happened. Right before we got here.” The second crew member stated and the Captain waved a hand, feeling more jittery by the second.

“Back on board. Call it in.” The two sailors went quickly, sharing relieved looks, and the Captain lingered, sharp, ocean wise, blue gaze reading the scene again for his own report.

The weapons said these people had prepared to defend themselves but had not been given the chance. He narrowed in on the damp seats and deck, noting the lack of high seas or stiff winds and his unease grew. It had come from the water. Or the sky.

As if the waves had picked up his thought, the hum suddenly grew louder in his ears and the man shook his head at the unpleasantness of it. It was like nails under water on a chalk board. Wrong.

He backed toward his coastguard cruiser with the noise getting louder and he would swear later not to have heard the hungry whispers of the water, telling him he would taste so gooooooooodddddddd!

The Captain flung himself aboard his own ship with desperate movements that brought his men running.

“Get us out of here!” He shouted, unhooking them from the ghost ship, and the sound of their engines eased him a bit as they roared in response to being manhandled.

They were yards away seconds later and gaining speed before the Captain realized the humming sound was gone. He slowed his breathing, never talking his eyes off the ghost ship as his First Mate joined him on deck.

“You call it in?”

“Radio’s down again.” The Captain nodded, regaining control of himself as the small ship got further and further from view. Loosing the radio now was happening so much, the fleet was about to update all its systems. Was it connected to that hum? It had been like spoiled radio waves, nauseating and scary, and in a moment of unusually emotion, he confessed to the man watching with him.

“I think they're here.” His voice lowered. “They don’t want us to know yet. I think they let us go, so they can keep on gathering. They know we won’t be believed, no one will investigate.” His first-mate said nothing at first, watching the old man control himself better than most of their members did. When he finally spoke, it was with a surety that made the Captain’s eyes swing to his for a brief second.

“Soon, they’ll attack. Openly.”

 Instead of the scorn or laughter he might have gotten from someone who hadn’t been out on the ocean, the Captain only nodded.

“We need to get ready.”

“Had the same thought. So have the others. They’re not the only one‘s who’ll gather and fight.” The Captain nodded again, glad to see the ghost ship finally fall out of sight.

“Yes, we will. The governments may be caught off guard but those who live on and around the water won’t. We’ll read the signs.”

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