Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Excerpt from Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies by Richard Howes

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback: https://www.createspace.com/3758847
Or on Amazon Kindle here: http://tinyurl.com/cgmu3p5

Enjoy the excerpts:

   I killed a puppy - murdered it, actually. I shot it right between the eyes with a gun and didn’t feel even a little remorseful. It didn’t bother me. In fact, at the moment of pulling the trigger, it was the right thing to do.

    Awaking to tears on my face, my long red hair sticking to my cheek, I couldn’t remember when I last cried. It must have been a year before or even longer, when little Julie Rayzor was just an innocent pup herself. Sleep escaped me the rest of that night. I dried my tears and slowed my breathing to avoid waking anyone else up. To pass the time I listened to the sounds of the military hospital compound that we called ‘Fort Tulsa’.
    Through the barricaded windows set high-up in the warehouse the September sky forewarned of the coming morning. The night patrols should be back soon, and maybe Corporal Jim Barnett would return from his mission. It had been three days with no word.
Missing Jim, the man who had gone off to help defend Tulsa from the zombies, and the boy who pulled my ponytail when I wasn’t looking, I tried to forget that his patrol was long overdue and stifle the realization that he might have been bitten by a zombie. I stared at the ceiling wanting to cry.
    I almost never slept. Private John Wilcox, our resident explosives specialist and all around red-neck jerk, was snoring again from the men’s side of the warehouse-barracks. The sound came through the twenty-foot tall wall of shelves that separated the men from the women. Wilcox wouldn’t let anyone forget him either awake or asleep.
    His fiery red hair like mine, only much shorter, was a tribute to his temper. Even his snores sounded angry, but something was wrong with the noise. With every second or third snore a little creak or scratching noise came to me. I wondered if some of the other soldiers or civilians in the makeshift dorm were snoring in sync. I wondered if the rats had learned to work under cover of nasal protection.  
    Listening again for the odd creaking noise, I found that it had stopped. Wilcox continued snoring. I turned on my cell phone and used it as a flashlight. (No one had phone service anymore.) I looked across the room at hundreds of beds, army cots, hospital beds, double and triple-decker bunk-beds, hammocks, and sleeping mats lining the floors of the former city hospital warehouse. Half the beds were empty; the rest were occupied by sleeping soldiers and civilians.
    My right leg itched. I retrieved a straightened coat hanger from my nightstand table and slid it down between my leg and the plaster cast that protected a broken shin bone.
    The cast was intolerable from the moment it went on. When Dr. Teresa Scarbrough, a former general practitioner, and Felix Vinson, our full time zombie researcher, applied the cast to my leg, I asked for a walking cast. Felix brushed his long brown hair from his eyes and looked at me. “That was before the zombies,” he laughed nasally. “No one gets anything like that anymore.”
    Felix was a nerd in every way and he had a crush on me, but his laugh always made me want to vomit. Literally throw up. He’d scolded me as if I were a child for carrying a stretcher. I told him that Jill Addison my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, mid- western, California-girl, best friend and I could manage moving the patient down for surgery.
    Jim Barnett, with a square-jaw, brown-hair and dark hazel eyes, darker than my own brown eyes, was handsome in the way a man can be, that a boy cannot. Slightly older than I and strong, he had a man’s carriage, a man’s frame, and a man’s voice. I liked Jim enough when he offered to carry the stretcher for me. I wondered if he felt insulted when I said, “I’m not a weak little girl and don’t need your help.”
    Jim had laughed but then I added, “Like you,” and punched him in the arm. He laughed again and left me and Jill to manage on our own.
    A few minutes later I stumbled on the steps, and the stretcher slipped from my grasp as it plowed over the top of me. The patient went for a wild ride down the stairs, and I snapped my leg bone in an instant.
    I lay on the floor at the bottom of the stairs with Jill laughing at me. (She was the only girl who could make cargo-pants and a sweater look sexy.) I laughed with her as I’d felt no pain, but when I tried to stand up I realized that I’d broken my leg, and the laughter ceased.
Jim came to see me every day I was nursing my broken leg until he left on a mission with the Lieutenant-Colonel and three squads. Their return was long overdue, and everyone wondered when they would be back.
    The scratching returned in perfect rhythm to Wilcox’s snores. I wondered if the zombies were tunneling beneath the hospital. I wondered if Wilcox was dreaming up some new vulgar jokes and laughing in his sleep or if he were dreaming of killing zombies. I slowly realized that the scratching sounds were not coming from him or even from that side of the warehouse, but from the air vent under the stairs.
    Getting up, I reached for my .44 caliber revolver I kept under my pillow. Then I remembered it was gone, confiscated by Felix when he annoyingly tucked me into bed after putting the cast on my leg.
    “Ms. Ray-zor,” I recalled the sinus pitch of Felix’s voice as he scolded me. “Teenagers aren’t allowed to have weapons.” He knew, everyone knew, that I hated having my name drawn out like that - RAY-Zor or even worse, Raz. I told Felix I’d been shooting since I was eight years old. I told him it was my dad’s gun. He said he didn’t care, and he checked it into the armory where my dad’s Model-12 shotgun was stored when I first arrived at Fort Tulsa. Everyone also knows that almost everyone carries a handgun and to not get caught with it. Even Dr. Scarbrough rolled her eyes at Felix’s stupidity.
    I swung my leg-cast over the side of the bed, being careful to not make any noise when it touched the floor. My cell phone flashlight went to sleep so I woke it up. A glint of metal came from a pocket of my jeans which lie over my nightstand, and I recalled that Jim told me he couldn’t get my .44 back, but he had a .32 semi-automatic handgun. He hid it in my jeans pocket for ‘just-in-case’ and told me to deny all accusations if it were found.
    Pulling the jeans on, I cringed at the long slice up the leg that Felix cut to fit over the cast. I was still p.o.’d about that for it was my last good pair of jeans and I had to fix the gash with safety pins. I threw a scarf around my neck and longed for my old long- lost bathrobe to ward against the cold in the warehouse.
    With the .32 from my pants pocket in hand, I felt for the loaded chamber indicator. A round was in the pipe. Jim had shown me the safety latch and I clicked it to red.
    My flashlight went out again, and I left it off as I slowly limped across the warehouse. The sound of the scratching grew louder as I approached a ventilation grate beneath the stairs. I timed the landing of my cast on the floor to the rhythm of the scratching, trying to cover the sound of my footsteps. The noise sped up and I could hear the sound of rapid breathing. My heartbeat thumped like a drum. Sweat ran down my back and soaked my shirt. The breathing changed to whining as I knelt down.
    Turning on my flashlight-phone, I found a puppy behind the grate. It looked like a mutt, and feral dogs were rampant in the wasteland that was once Tulsa. This dog was young, cute, friendly, and black. I love black dogs and had always wanted one. He looked like a Labrador mixed with German-Shepherd.
    The latches turned easily, and I raised the ventilation grate to let the puppy out from beneath the stairs. He scratched at the floor and jumped into my lap, tail wagging in joy at his release. The grate fell out of my hands and landed with a clatter. Suddenly a sound like a runaway-train-on-fire rose from the vent. I backed away in fright. Holding the puppy close, I pointed my gun at the grate.
    “Christ,” someone yelled. Footsteps approached. The soldiers that patrolled the hospital were coming. Flashlights came on around the room.
    Corporal Gary Lopez ran up to me, the flashlight on his carbine radiating light randomly about the room.
    “What is it?” Lopez demanded.
    I sighed. I didn’t feel like being hassled, and he was sure to give me crap over the dog. I just knew it.
    “Did you open that vent?” Lopez bellowed at me. His crystal blue eyes almost glowed in the dark. He was so loud that people started to wake up.
    “It’s just a puppy.” I showed him the dog in my arms, but the sweet innocent puppy growled and tried to bite me. Green and yellow puss oozed from its mouth. It tried to sink its small sharp teeth into my arm. I wondered if it could be a zombie, if a zombified dog were even possible. Lopez shined his flashlight on the dog. Its eyes were filled with blood. It was surely blind leaving no doubt it was infected by the zombie virus.
   I grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and held it away from me as it twisted and turned. It tried to bite me but slipped from my grasps and fell to the floor.
    The explosive rattle of a machinegun filled the air as Lopez killed the dog.
    “Why did you do that?” I screamed as the roar from the ventilation system grew louder.
    “Masks!” Lopez yelled. “Attack. Zomb attack. Wake up. Balaclavas, masks.”
    The fire alarm rang indicating a zombie attack. Emergency lights instantly illuminated the hospital warehouse. Through the windows, spotlights turned night to day. From far inside the hospital the rumble of generators started up.
Lopez looked at the grate from which the roaring train noise emanated. Rabid dogs suddenly came at us barking and growling, only they weren’t rabid; they were zombie dogs. They pushed at the grate with their noses as they tried to crawl under it. I raised my pistol, aligned the sights and squeezed the trigger.
    “One,” I counted my shots as a dog died.
    Lopez’s M4 carbine fired in quick bursts. Down went one, two, and three dogs.
    All about us, the sounds of people shouting were drowned out by the crack of automatic gunfire and the boom of shotguns. Behind every ventilation grate spaced around the room, dogs growled and scratched trying to get to us. In front of each grate, a soldier or civilian fired weapons at them, killing them where they stood.
    A dog dropped from a ceiling grate twenty feet above. It broke its hind legs in the fall and crawled, snarling in anger, on its front paws toward me. I shot it dead. “Two,” continuing my silent count. How many rounds left in the gun? I didn’t know as the .32 might have a seven, eight, or even a ten-round magazine.
    Fear didn’t enter my world at that moment for I was too busy; too busy looking for zombie-dogs, zombies, and their Leaders. The time to be frightened would be later, after I survived. Fear of the virus was part of life. I knew that later I might relive my fear of death-by-zombies, although that didn’t bother me much because I’d be dead. What scared me far more was the knowledge that some victims would be dragged away to be infected and turned into zombies. That terrified me beyond any of the many other horrors I’d witnessed.
    The human zombies came next. They first emerged from the grate I’d opened. It was a Leader. He... it... looked human; uninfected and quite normal; normal for someone crawling around in the air vents in the middle of the night and oddly dressed in a spotlessly clean t-shirt and brand new blue jeans. His face was washed. I noticed he had even shaved, however poorly. He raised a hand as if he wanted to talk. I shot him in the face. I fired twice more to be certain he was dead.
    “Three. Four. Five.”
    I never looked at Leaders if I could avoid it. Their eyes were too intense and almost crystalline as opposed to zombies’ blood-filled eyes. Leaders were too human. Too much like me, Jill, Jim, or even Wilcox, but when I saw purple blood on the wall I knew shooting him was correct. He was a carrier and a survivor of the virus. He acted as the eyes and ears of the Zombs and commanded them with his thoughts.
    Five shots. How many left? Two? Three? Five? I realized I didn’t have a second ammunition magazine for my pistol.

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