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River
November 17th, 2011, 03:18 AM
Excerpt from a short story.


The Day Time Ran Out

At the CDC Atlanta Dr. Vernon Sedgwick hooked the air supply hose into his bio suit and opened the door of the level 5 bio containment where a fresh slide of the virus lay ready.

He nimbly moved manipulator control then gave the glass slide a final bump as it slid under the electron microscope.
Although the germ was small it couldn’t hide from the best microscope in the world. “No Sir my tiny friend, you cannot hide your face from me no matter how small you are. Come to poppa now and don’t be shy.”

He began adjusting the microscope a micro meter at a time and as the dimness cleared a shining metallic like figure came into. He stared at what had already killed half of Atlanta. The virus resembled a vortex, so unlike the Ebola virus which killed quickly enough, but this thing was twice as deadly.

He jumped when the virus he thought was dead exploded into a fireworks of color then settled back down, only this time it was larger and more ugly. Fear like he had never known filled his gut.

“Lacy…Lacy!

“Yes doctor Sedgwick?”

“I thought you said you treated this virus before it was handed off to me?”

“Yes sir..it was.”

“Then why is it still alive?”

The slender good looking woman on the other side of the inch thick glass stared at him for a moment.

“We did treat the virus Doctor, you know I don’t guess at those kinds of things, that’s why I work in level 5.

“Well..never mind its just as good, get suited up and come in here.”

“Doctor, you know the two of us are not supposed to be in there at one time, it’s the rules!”

“Well to hell with the rules, just get your pretty ass in here; the rule makers are mostly dead!”

The 29 year old graduate of Nova South Eastern and Cal-tec donned the bio suit quickly and stepped through the airlock door as it slid behind her and sealed.

“What are you so excited about?”

“This…take a look at this.”

He readjusted the microscope until the vortex virus was again clear; she stared at it a minute then jumped back as it bloomed again like a beautiful but deadly flower.

“Oh God!

As she stared into the microscope he reached over and hit the button that would seal their fate. She did not hear as the oiled 2 inch bolts in the door slid softly closed.
He reached into a drawer and as she stared at the image he put the gun close to her temple, just touching her bio suit and pulled the trigger, then he aimed the gun at his own head and pulled it again.


The first time Atlanta burned was during the civil war, the second time it burned was when the war against a man made virus was lost and Atlanta would never burn again.

The bio suited bodies of Dr. Lacy Miller and Dr. Vernon Sedgwick would watch over the bio containment level 5 long after the suits finally rotted off heir bones and blank eye sockets as a testimony to what man could do to himself. They would stay a hundred feet under ground while Atlanta sank into oblivion.



The Road

Virgil and Jan Grissom were just a normal couple, living in Beverly Hills. They weren’t part of the show crowd. Virgil had an auto repair shop, and Jan was a dental assistant at the local dental clinic. They did pretty well for themselves, just living their lives before the day.

They still remembered the hell-fire and brimstone preacher who had come on television, stomping around on the stage and warning about the things to come, but they didn’t believe him. He had made his way out of the missions to Costa Mesa, where they had some sort of Christian televised show that ran 24 hours a day. This preacher was sort of weird, and sounded like he was from the south. It was entertaining when he got really lathered up; he would yell and scream about something called the great tribulation.

Turns out the crazy sucker wasn’t so crazy after all, because in one short month, everything went from business as usual to hell in a hand basket, right after he preached his best sermon yet. Virgil and Jan sat on the couch that Sunday morning, eating popcorn and having a good old time watching him stomp and yell and wipe sweat off his face, while spit was flying everywhere. They laughed until they hurt. It was one month before the day that the preacher preached his last sermon down in Costa Mesa. The TV station closed the day after he preached it, and they must have all gone home.

Virgil had just gotten a contract to take care of a fleet of cars for the Hollywood crowd, and they were in the dough. It looked good as far ahead as they could see, until the day some Muslims stepped off a plane in Chicago with a load of a brand new blood-sucking germs with an 80% kill ratio. The rag heads didn’t get far, after they broke the beakers, before they were dead too, was Virgil’s thought on it, but it didn’t change a thing just because they were dead. The germs killed quickly and painfully. Filthy looking sores broke out on people, and they were dropping like rocks.

Other planes landed in New York, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Orlando, and the world as they knew it ground to a halt inside of a week and a half. The plague spread like wildfire blown before the winds of high speed travel. People rushed to the hospitals and killed the doctors and nurses and the people in the hospitals with what they brought with them. The ones who were just getting well got sick all over again; only this time they didn’t survive. The germs quickly made their way to the CDC, and killed the workers by the droves. People fled from the cities to the farm land, only to kill the farmers. The truck drivers with their loads of freight died en route to the cities, and the trucks rolled to a halt on the freeways and the interchanges.

Some fell dead with heart attacks as they saw the waves of death coming at them from every direction. Some sat and hugged their money to their chest, just in case it would buy them a day or two. It didn’t. The grocery stores ran out of food in a day; the gas ran out next. They guarded the hospitals with automatic weapons, and killed anyone who tried to break through the lines; yet it wasn’t nearly enough. The National Guardsmen died too, with their weapons in their hands.

The wheels of the industrial nations quickly came to a stop, and the Bedouins died in their tents in the desert. The gray horseman galloped back and fourth across the land, his steed rearing and pawing the air, a hideous smile on his face. As he rode to and fro across the earth, hell followed after him.

Los Angeles quickly became unsafe for the few survivors to come out of their houses. The wicked became more wicked, and they had the run of the gun shops. They had all the weed and dope they could smoke and shoot up their nose, and they killed for the sake of killing. They would kill a man for a dime, when they could get money for free just by walking into the stores and banks.

So far, the germs hadn’t touched the Grissoms, or they were some of the lucky ones who were immune to this thing; only time would tell. They kept hoping things would get better, so they holed up. But they stayed too long, as most other people did. Finally, the city water ran out, and it was time to go. The other survivors must have realized the same thing, because it was as if a message was sent along an invisible wire, “Get out of Dodge, and do it now.”

“Virgil! What are you doing?”

“Just a minute, will ya?”

Virgil took one last look around the house, slammed the door, and walked to the loaded four wheel drive Land Rover. They were going to try to make it out of Beverly Hills by way of the Tujunga Canyon road, and then up over the hump and down to the interstate 5 after they cleared the Grayson Ranch, which lay atop of the mountain. His brother-in-law lived just outside of Porterville, and he had advised them to come on up, but Virgil was afraid they had stayed too long in the Los Angeles basin.

They wouldn’t be able to get over the freeway that led out of Los Angeles; it was too clogged with wrecks and desperate people with guns who wanted anything that rolled. Virgil had made a trial run the day before, and it was just impossible. His only hope was to catch the freeway at Castaic junction, and then head north. In order to do that, they would have to make their way through Burbank over the back roads. He figured the roads would be somewhat clear past Castaic.

Anyway, they couldn’t stay here, and perhaps there was food or fuel in the San Joaquin valley. There was food in the houses along the way, but no one dared to go foraging in them, because before the people at the CDC croaked, they had warned the people of the rampant disease that would be fermenting in houses with dead bodies soaking in the heat.

Virgil got behind the wheel and started the big Land Rover. He had the car behind their house for the last fifteen years. He had overhauled the engine and the transmission, intending on restoring the vehicle completely. On a whim last spring he had completed the job. Now he was glad he did, because if anything could make it over those roads, the Land Rover could.

Jan looked across the seat at him with fear in her eyes. She didn’t want to leave the house at first; she just couldn’t get it through her head that this had happened, and that her comfortable world was gone so quickly. She longed for the hair parlors and the Bunco dice games once a week with the girls. Now everything was a mess. Her hair wasn’t professionally done, and she was mad as hell at anything she felt took away her comforts.

She was skinny, black haired, with a pretty face and cute turned-up nose, and it was love at first sight. He had met her at his high school basketball game. They had gotten married after high school and settled down in the quiet North Hollywood neighborhood where his father had built the garage for him.

Now it was all gone. Almost every one of their neighbors had died in the first week of the epidemic. Virgil wondered how or why they both had not died with them.

“You ready honey?”

“Yeah…Virgil, do you think we can make it to John and Nell’s place?”

“I don’t know, Jan, but if anything can make it, this old Land Rover will.”

“I gave you a hard time about this thing lying in the back yard all those years. I’m sorry, Virgil.”

“It’s ok, honey. I know it was an eyesore, but it was my dad's car, and I just couldn’t part with it after he passed away. Fasten your seat belt; here we go.”

The car shifted smoothly as they pulled out onto the street and headed toward the Tujunga Canyon road. The scene was surreal. Beside him lay two pump shot guns, and a 357 Magnum was in a holster he had on his gun belt. It was a German-made replica of the Colt 45 revolver some guy had given him to fix his car, along with the western type gun belt. He had hung the pistol in the closet, only to practice with it from time to time up in the hills behind the house. He had gotten fairly good at hitting what he aimed at with the thing.

“You look like a cowboy with that thing strapped on.” She smiled at him out of her hazel eyes. “The girls better let you alone.”

“I can handle all the girls who come my way.” He winked at her.

When they got into the canyon, about a quarter mile up, they rounded a bend, and came upon a large dog eating at a dead body. The dog growled and snarled at them as they gently skirted the body. Virgil saw his wife cover her eyes as they passed the ugly scene.

About two blocks up, they came to a stalled Arrowhead water truck that was crossways in the narrow road. No one was in the truck. Virgil got out and began to take out a tow chain he had stowed in the back of the Land Rover. He hooked the chain to the truck and walked back to the Land Rover. A man and a woman roared up on two Harleys, and stopped about 50 feet away.

“Need any help?” the man called out.

“I might need someone to steer the truck,” he called back. The man cranked the big Harley and pulled it closer; the woman stayed where she was. Virgil saw her hand go into her leather jacket, and he knew she had a gun in there. The large man got off the bike and walked over to the truck and got in.

“Pull until it gets to the edge of the road, then stop, and we’ll push it over the side, ok?”

“Ok,” Virgil said, as he cranked the big Land Rover’s engine.

The chain went taut as the jeep pulled the truck to the edge of the road. The man got out as Virgil unhooked the chain; he unhooked the other end. They both walked to the back of the water truck, and with a good shove the truck rolled over the edge of the canyon road and crashed down through the underbrush to come to rest at the bottom of the canyon.

“Thanks,” Virgil said, as he gathered up the chain.

“You’re welcome,” the big man replied. “You think maybe you might want a couple people riding along with you?”

Virgil looked warily at the man’s bearded face, stained teeth, and half shell helmet. He tried to read the man’s eyes, but the eyes told him nothing, as if the man took things as they came. “How do we know we can trust you?” He looked at him flatly.

“You don’t, but I don’t figure any of us have much of a chance with just the two of us.”

Virgil thought a minute. “How good do you ride those things?”

“Buddy, I was born on a hog. How good can you drive that thing?” he said, pointing at the Land Rover.

Virgil laughed, “I can drive it, and I can fix it. I owned a garage a ways back down the hill.”

By this time, the woman had walked over from the bike, and stood a few feet away, listening to the two men talk. She said nothing. Jan was looking suspiciously at her; she had a plain face, and a hard look about her.

“You planning on going over the mountain and coming out at Castaic?”

“Yeah, that was the plan.” Virgil’s instincts were in full gear, as he appraised the situation. He liked the man; he didn’t know about the woman. “So you think we might do each other some good?”

“We might. Hell…I’m just taking things as they go.”

“Where did you come from?”

“We came out of Anaheim. It's pretty rough back there. The people who survived are killing each other right and left; we figured we would scoot.”

“Were you part of some biker group down there?”

“We had our Bro’s, but the most of them died.”

Virgil couldn’t exactly place why, but he trusted the big man. He had a Lone Wolf patch on his jacket, and that was encouraging too. “I’m Virgil,” he reached out his hand. The big man took it into his huge paw.

“I’m Zack, and that there is my wife, Rosy.” He indicated the woman in the leathers. “Come on over Rosy; we’re going to do a ride along with these folks.”

Rosy came walking over and extended her hand. She had grease embedded in her long nails, and she looked gravely up at him.

“Jan, get out and meet these folks.” She got out of the jeep and came around. The women eyed each other up and down, and then as if some silent communication passed between them, they gave each other approval of some kind.

You can never figure women out. The thought passed through Virgil’s mind like a fleeting bird, and then he was all business again. “Since we are going to do this thing, we need to trust each other explicitly; do you two have any food?”

“We got enough for three or four days in our saddle bags; how much you got?”

“About the same; maybe a little more.”

“You ready to ride? It's not safe sitting still for very long. Some people camped and were killed back down the road. The world has gone crazy, man.”

“Yeah, let’s roll.”

egpenny
November 17th, 2011, 06:04 AM
I'm hooked. This is good, too bad you're saying it's a short story. I got caught up in the story so didn't notice anything wrong, except--the grey horse was riding paragraph. I think the last sentence would sound more biblical or forceful if you left off the as in front and ended it with--- across the earth and hell followed after. Just saying.
If I picked this up in the bookstore as a novel and read the first page I would buy it. Soooo where's the rest of this excerpt??

River
November 18th, 2011, 05:47 AM
Just google the title and it will come up for you egpenny.
Thanks for the review.

egpenny
November 18th, 2011, 11:35 PM
Hey, I just finished reading the rest of your story. It was a good read and very well done. It would have been good as a novel too, but the length of it was just right.

River
November 19th, 2011, 05:38 AM
Oh yes, there is plenty of room for a novel here. I just fell in love with the form of the short story and I have found it is an art in itself. 10,000 words for a short is about the upper limit I decided on and no less than 3,500, but that's just me. It helps me to stay disciplined and not go rambling, although in the story I am presently working on, if I will get of my duff and finish it, sits at over 13,000. I only like about six pages and I keep telling myself I'm going to finish it.

Cody
November 27th, 2011, 03:01 AM
At the CDC Atlanta Dr. Vernon Sedgwick hooked the air supply hose into his bio suit and opened the door of the level 5 bio containment where a fresh slide of the virus lay ready.

This part made me picture the last few episodes of season one The Walking Dead, a popular t.v. series about zombies. New seasons start around Halloween. They have aired season two.


The rag heads didn’t get far This is super racist. I'm not even Muslim and it made me uncomfy to read that. I think that it is one thing to read derogatory terms like " Nigger", or " fags", or what have you, when it is dialogue, because it can show us more about the character of a your characters. It's also not so offensive when you are writing in first person and the person recounting his adventures uses that kind of language, because it tells us about that person. It's super weird to have that kind of language used out side of dialogue, because then it makes the author sound kind of racist, and you wonder if the rest of the story is going to be some kind of hate fest.

This line is also kind of weird sounding.


until the day some Muslims stepped off a plane in Chicago with a load of a brand new blood-sucking germs with an 80% kill ratio.

You make it sound like all Muslims are terrorist with intent to kill. Maybe you could name a specific terrorist group, and then if you want to you can add that they are Muslim if that is important to the story. That might make your story sound more professional and less like some kind of post war therapy for yourself. If it is some kind of post war therapy then I think that's great, but maybe keep it to yourself if it is for yourself.

If your intent is to get published I suggest re writing parts like that even more, as many publishers won't accept it as it.

My plot related comments is. Why would someone release a dangerous virus in the United states of all places. That is really dangerous. The untied states is a really wealthy nation and is somewhat of a hub. Many people from all over the world travel to the u.s. and then go back home, they would be taking this virus with them. What I'm saying is that anything this intense has a big chance of getting back to the country of origin. Even if it does kill people really quickly, with viruses there is generally some percent of population which is immune, or has a higher defense to it. Those people who seem unaffected could still pass it on to others. This is what happens in the movie that comes after 28 days later. I forget the name of it now. I also remember watching a discovery channel special on if we were attacked with bird flu. They said like 2 percent would have the biology to survive it. There are also some people who have defenses against leprosy.


That being said, Post apocalypse is my favorite genre! I also love that you used bikers. I use to go riding with my dad when I was very young. It's always been my dream to get situated with a nice bike of my own. Nothing in the world like riding down long country roads, or along the coast.

I have read a lot of your other stuff and I liked it, this one just threw me because of the way it sounded kind of racist.

This would make it awesome novel, there is a lot here to go on. I think stories dealing with issues of race are very important! I'm totally down in reading stories featuring main characters who hate, in fact all of the characters could feel the same way and it would still be ok, as long as you have the words coming out of the mouths of your characters and not out of the authors.

Galen
December 18th, 2011, 12:51 AM
Oh yes, there is plenty of room for a novel here. I just fell in love with the form of the short story and I have found it is an art in itself. 10,000 words for a short is about the upper limit I decided on and no less than 3,500, but that's just me. It helps me to stay disciplined and not go rambling, although in the story I am presently working on, if I will get of my duff and finish it, sits at over 13,000. I only like about six pages and I keep telling myself I'm going to finish it.

River, You are a good writer. I like your passion for the short story. Plus, I understand your use of the "racist" vocabulary. From my perspective, it was a part of the character development than a story about racism.

I wish you luck.

River
December 18th, 2011, 02:38 AM
This part made me picture the last few episodes of season one The Walking Dead, a popular t.v. series about zombies. New seasons start around Halloween. They have aired season two.

This is super racist. I'm not even Muslim and it made me uncomfy to read that. I think that it is one thing to read derogatory terms like " Nigger", or " fags", or what have you, when it is dialogue, because it can show us more about the character of a your characters. It's also not so offensive when you are writing in first person and the person recounting his adventures uses that kind of language, because it tells us about that person. It's super weird to have that kind of language used out side of dialogue, because then it makes the author sound kind of racist, and you wonder if the rest of the story is going to be some kind of hate fest.

This line is also kind of weird sounding.



You make it sound like all Muslims are terrorist with intent to kill. Maybe you could name a specific terrorist group, and then if you want to you can add that they are Muslim if that is important to the story. That might make your story sound more professional and less like some kind of post war therapy for yourself. If it is some kind of post war therapy then I think that's great, but maybe keep it to yourself if it is for yourself.

If your intent is to get published I suggest re writing parts like that even more, as many publishers won't accept it as it.

My plot related comments is. Why would someone release a dangerous virus in the United states of all places. That is really dangerous. The untied states is a really wealthy nation and is somewhat of a hub. Many people from all over the world travel to the u.s. and then go back home, they would be taking this virus with them. What I'm saying is that anything this intense has a big chance of getting back to the country of origin. Even if it does kill people really quickly, with viruses there is generally some percent of population which is immune, or has a higher defense to it. Those people who seem unaffected could still pass it on to others. This is what happens in the movie that comes after 28 days later. I forget the name of it now. I also remember watching a discovery channel special on if we were attacked with bird flu. They said like 2 percent would have the biology to survive it. There are also some people who have defenses against leprosy.


That being said, Post apocalypse is my favorite genre! I also love that you used bikers. I use to go riding with my dad when I was very young. It's always been my dream to get situated with a nice bike of my own. Nothing in the world like riding down long country roads, or along the coast.

I have read a lot of your other stuff and I liked it, this one just threw me because of the way it sounded kind of racist.

This would make it awesome novel, there is a lot here to go on. I think stories dealing with issues of race are very important! I'm totally down in reading stories featuring main characters who hate, in fact all of the characters could feel the same way and it would still be ok, as long as you have the words coming out of the mouths of your characters and not out of the authors.

Cody,
I suggest you stop trying to critique, to suggest that I am a racist because of the words a writer uses in his characters and story line is about the most ignorant thing I have ever witnessed.
You have shown that you do not possess the talent to write and frankly your drivel bores me.