Skip to content

At Hell’s Gates 2: Origins of Evil

At Hell's Gates: Origins of Evil -

At Hell’s Gates: Origins of Evil

At Hell’s Gates 2: Origins of Evil

Now available in Kindle. Paperback edition is coming soon.

Read Lesa’s latest short story, “The Millstone,” as well as new stories by 23 of today’s top Zompoc authors. Once again, all proceeds go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which supports the men and women of our armed forces and their families.

The Millstone

Roy Flanagan wakes alone in the desert with no memory of how he got there. He encounters a mysterious woman who seems to know more than she is willing to say. As time passes, he realizes that she is harboring a dark secret, and he begins to wonder if taking a ride from the stranger will turn out to be a deadly mistake.

Advertisements

Mechanical Failure, Chap. 7a (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

LA 258

~continued~

I rang the doorbell, and I could tell at once that there was activity inside. It looked like I was going to have to deal with a zombie or two, but I had to be sure. The last thing I wanted to do was barge into the home of an armed survivor who didn’t want company. I stepped back far enough to make sure I was visible from the upstairs windows. My knife was out of sight, so anybody looking outside would just see a small blonde woman with a fireplace poker.

Nobody came outside or peeked through any of the windows, so the occupants were probably of the undead persuasion. I could hear one of them pounding on the other side of the door, and he didn’t seem too happy. For a moment I considered moving on, but I wanted a zombie-free neighborhood so he had to go. The door was unlocked, and I pulled it open and stepped back like I always did. It was like a floodgate had opened. Seven of them poured out in rapid succession with one crawler following behind; a whole undead family. Making a quick retreat, I managed to trip over the edging along the flowerbed and landed on my back. I rolled instinctively, and it was a good thing because one of my new neighbors tackled the spot where I had just been. I got him in the eye with my knife before scrambling to my feet. I’m still not quite sure how it happened, but two of the smaller kids got behind me, and I was surrounded. The little boy lunged at me and bit my leg hard. I finished him off with the knife, wincing at the pain and praying that his teeth hadn’t made it through my jeans. I dropped him to the ground and went for the other fast one, holding the little dead girl at arm’s length as I ended her life as a zombie. By then, one of the others had reached me and grabbed the back of my coat. I swore, wishing I’d had something better than the bulky jacket I was wearing. I twisted and stabbed at her hand, realizing it was the mother. She paid no attention to my knife but tried to pull me closer, mouth opening wide. By now, the largest teen was on my right, and he grabbed for me as well. I was not going to be able to take out all five of the remaining family members with my knife. I stuck it back in my pocket and drew the gun, which I hadn’t planned to use. Covering my face with my hood to keep any infectious goop away, I shot the mother in the head. She fell, but others were there to take her place. I turned and ran, pulling away from the teen who still had a grip on my coat. Once I was far enough to feel safe, I took careful aim and put them down, one by one, saving the crawler for last. I was shaking by the time it was all over. I also realized I’d gained some attention since there were now a few zombies trying to crawl over the car I’d used as a gate.

~to be continued~

Mechanical Failure, Chap. 6c (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

DSC00761

~continued~

I woke with the dawn and my eyes went to the door. I was glad to see that the dresser was still right where I’d put it. Once I moved it aside, I listened at the door for several minutes. If the noise I’d made moving furniture hadn’t drawn anything upstairs, I was probably safe. I still opened the door with a weapon ready, just in case. This time it was my knife since I wasn’t sure I had room to swing the fireplace poker. The hallway was clear, as was the rest of the house. I climbed the stairs again so I could look out a window that had a view of my temporary gate. There was nothing on the other side of the car, but I couldn’t see over the RV well enough to say if it was clear. I watched for almost ten minutes before I saw movement. So they were still out there, waiting. That was fine. I had food and shelter, and I wasn’t bothered by the prospect of being trapped inside the neighborhood for a while. If I had to leave, I could always climb over a wall.

I started going through the other houses that day, taking both the knife and the poker with me. The hardest part was moving around the neighborhood without being seen. I didn’t want the dead on the other side of the car gate to have reason to hang around, and I hoped they’d eventually forget I was there if they couldn’t see me.

There were two zombies in the first house. One was a crawler, and I was able to take it out with a single blow to the head. I winced at the sight of the brain matter and wondered if I would ever get used to the violence and gore that was part of my world now. It had been months since I’d killed my first zombie, and it still wasn’t easy. I walked through the house as quietly as possible, but the second zombie was doing the same thing. Usually they made some noise, but this one didn’t. I turned a corner and there he was, grabbing for me with a loud moan. I was too close to use the poker, so I dropped it and pulled the knife as I backed away. He was tall, and I was going to have a hard time jamming my knife into his head without some serious risk. As I took another step back, I came very close to tripping over the crawler, who was probably the tall guy’s wife. Hit with sudden inspiration, I stepped over the body and kept moving back, leading the big guy forward. He never looked down, of course. They never do. They just keep coming, focusing on the meal in front of them. As I had hoped, he tripped over his dead wife and went sprawling, giving me the opportunity to shove my knife into the base of his skull.

Once I was sure they were both truly dead, I searched the rest of the house and collected everything worth taking. The supplies would have to be transported once I figured out where I’d make my home for the rest of the winter. All of the houses in the neighborhood were nice, custom homes, but I wouldn’t pick one that had been a home to zombies for several months. The smell always seemed to linger long after the zombies were removed, and I also had no idea if I had to worry about contamination. I decided not to risk it.

I had better luck on the second and third houses. Apparently the people who had lived there had either gone to the shelters or had left town, but the houses were empty. I repeated my earlier steps and ended up with a large pile of goods near the front doors of both houses. It was the fourth house where I really ran into trouble.

The family in the fourth house was still home, though they were no longer living. I could see them through a large picture window where they were clawing at the glass, and I counted six kids ranging from maybe six to nineteen. That’s just a guess, but I know the older two boys were big. Another thing about child zombies is that they tend to be faster than adult zombies. I learned that lesson the hard way.

~*~

~to be continued~

Mechanical Failure, Chap. 6b (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

Nighttime.jpg

~continued~

I edged closer, having a general idea where the zombie was now. Listening carefully, I was able to pinpoint his location after he took another step. When he moaned again, the sound seemed to come from an area in front of me but a little higher, which made sense. I was short. Could I possibly kill him with the knife without being able to see him? No, I decided, taking a step back. That was just plain stupid. I’d have to get close enough for him to grab me, and that would likely not end well, at least for me. If I could get to the car, there was a tire iron in the trunk, but that wasn’t going to happen in the dark. I thought about it for a moment and remembered that there was an iron fireplace poker inside the house, if I could get to it.

It felt like it took forever, but I edged my way toward the house. The stupid dead thing kept moaning, getting the attention of the others before long. I could hear some of them banging on the car and the RV. Every time I heard the crunch of dead grass beneath my foot, I heard the same sound echoed a moment later as the zombie mimicked my movements. I finally reached the road and was able to cross it silently, putting some space between us. I found the driveway and followed it back to the house, but when I opened the door, that got my dead friend moving again. I made my way over to the fireplace as quickly as possible and grabbed the poker before going back to the door.

I had no idea where he was now, but I was hoping he wasn’t right outside. I opened the door and stepped out, already imagining the dead hands grabbing for me. Nothing.

Easing the door shut, I listened. He wasn’t giving me any indication of his location, and that just wouldn’t do. I made my way to the driveway and quietly said, “Hey, over here.”

That got his attention. He began moving straight for me, and I got ready. When I was sure he was right in front of me, I swung at where I thought his head should be. Imagine my surprise when I hit only air. To make it worse, as I followed through on the swing I felt his hand graze my head. I stumbled backward, trying to get my balance again. This time I listened to his footsteps again and waited a second longer than I had the last time. I was rewarded with a loud crunch as the metal poker bit into his skull. A thud followed as he dropped to the ground.

Now the question was, was he alone? Had I somehow just missed the dead guy when scanning the neighborhood? He obviously hadn’t been a crawler, so I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have made his presence known earlier. It made me think that the makeshift gate must have been breached. If so, had one zombie just managed to climb over or was the neighborhood filled with them now? I struggled with myself, knowing the smart thing to do would be to go inside, watch the neighborhood the next day and if it was clear, retrieve the rest of my stuff the next night. I just couldn’t do it. I’m one of those type-A people who wants to get things done when I want to get them done. And I wanted to bring in the rest of my stuff now. The thought terrified me, but I also reminded myself that they probably couldn’t see me any better than I could see them. Still, if there were enough of them, they could corral me. I stood on the front porch for a long time, listening, but I couldn’t hear anything moving nearby. Against my better judgment, I walked across to the park again through the inky darkness of the night. It took me almost an hour to retrieve the rest of my supplies, but I was careful, stopping often to listen and taking care with each step I took. I justified my foolish actions by calling it “training.” Who knew when I might need to move through the dark around a bunch of ghouls? This skill could be invaluable. It also allowed me to face my fear of running into the creatures in the dark.

Once inside, I stacked my loot against the locked door so that if anything got in, I’d probably hear the sound as my pile of supplies fell. Just to be sure, I added a couple of empty tin cans to the top. I locked myself in the master bedroom with a dresser in front of the door that night. I had found a thick blanket earlier and had nailed it up over the window so that I could put a light on in that room after dark, but only in that room. Even the slightest light seemed to draw the dead like moths, I had found. I wasn’t sure why they were attracted to the light but not to smoke or the smell of a barbecue. I had so many questions that would probably never be answered.

Once I was ready for bed, I took the blanket off the window so I’d wake when it grew light out.

~to be continued~

Mechanical Failure, Chap. 6a (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

DSC01328

I was terrified. I’ve always had an overactive imagination, and it was working against me. I used to lie in bed at night and let my mind wander, and it came up with some pretty bizarre stuff. Sometimes I’d imagine a hideous creature crawling across the floor, dragging itself toward my bed. And I just knew if I opened my eyes, I’d see it crouching next to me, its face just inches from mine. It never happened, but these days it was much more likely. So, thanks to my warped mind, I couldn’t just go outside and calmly retrieve my pile of supplies. Instead, I had to imagine dead faces materializing through the inky darkness. I visualized a dozen walking corpses slowly turning my way and taking those first lurching steps, arms outstretched. I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t likely that any of them had climbed over my makeshift gate, since I had been watching carefully for them earlier. It didn’t matter. I scared myself out so badly that I almost turned around and went back inside. Instead, I took a deep breath and just listened for a while. My eyes adjusted a bit to the dark. It wasn’t much, but I felt like I could see a few feet in front of me, whether it was true or not. Taking small steps, I started to walk toward what I hoped was the park area. I almost tripped over some curbing at the edge of the dying lawn. I caught myself in time, but I made a mental note to find the driveway and walk down it on the next trip.

I began to stack the supplies by the front door, and it was going pretty well until I thought I heard a foot crunch on the grass nearby. I was in the park area at the time, and I froze, straining to hear. When it came again, I was certain that there was one of the creatures inside the wall with me, and it was close. My hands began to shake as I ran through my options, not sure what to do. I could try to sneak past it if I could tell where it was, but I still had a lot of stuff to bring inside. I also wasn’t sure that there was only one of them. For all I knew, they could have gotten over the car, and there could be a dozen of them wandering around. I heard it take another step, and I pulled my knife. Unfortunately, I didn’t do it quietly. The sound could have been heard a mile away. A low moan came from somewhere between me and the house, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before he got the others interested if I didn’t shut him up. I took a step toward the dead thing, knife ready.

~to be continued~

Mechanical Failure, Chap. 5g (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

DSC01291

I decided that I would clear out all of the houses on the small loop before choosing one to fortify. That would also give me a chance to search the homes for supplies. My next order of business would be to find something better to drive. A reliable vehicle would be essential for the trip to Oregon. Besides being mechanically sound, it would have to be sturdy; something that couldn’t be tipped over easily. I wanted to reinforce the windows if I could figure out how to do it. I planned to take along all the food, water, and gas I’d need for the trip so I wouldn’t have to worry about scavenging along the way. The sooner I found the right vehicle, the sooner I could start preparing for the trip.

In the meantime, I needed to block off the street more permanently. As much as I would have loved to have a gate, I wasn’t sure how sturdy it would be. The smart move would be to build a good, solid wall and to forget the gate. It would mean parking my vehicle outside the neighborhood, but that was fine. It wasn’t like someone was going to steal it or anything.

The sun had set by 4:30, but I decided to wait until dark to go outside. I had never realized just how much light pollution there was around Vegas until the grid finally failed. It had happened while I was staying at Jeanette’s house. I remember being shocked at how bright the stars were that night. It brought back memories of camping in the Great Basin National Park, which had very little man-made light. While the mountains between Whispering Springs and Las Vegas kept most of the air pollution away, they had done nothing to hold back the bright lights of the city. Now, even the laser-like beam that shot into the sky from the Luxor was gone. I’ll probably never know exactly why the grid failed. I heard once that Hoover Dam should be able to run on its own for a long time, but I knew that the Las Vegas area only got some of its power from the dam. The power plants would have gone out first, but something had obviously happened with the dam as well.

By 5:30, it was so dark outside that I couldn’t see my hand in front of me. At least the zombies couldn’t see any better than I could, or so I hoped. If anything, their vision should be a little worse since they were dead. If their joints and muscles didn’t work as well as they had in life, it made sense to me that their eyes shouldn’t be any better. I hesitated, wondering if I should wait a day so I could check the neighborhood thoroughly before attempting to move around in the dark. I couldn’t say for sure that there weren’t any dead inside the walls. I just hadn’t seen any yet. My impatience got the best of me, and I found a pair of hiking boots that almost fit. I put them on with a couple pairs of socks to fill in the space. I wore the jeans I’d taken from Jeanette’s house and put on gloves and a hat as well. When I slipped outside, I was met with darkness and distant moans from the dead.

 

~*~

Mechanical Failure, Chap. 5f (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

001

~continued~

There were jumper cables in the trunk of the car I was using, and I found keys to the RV, though I had to fight the owner for them. He was dead, so I didn’t feel too bad about swiping his camper. It took me almost ten minutes, but I was able to get the thing running. I quickly parked it across the opening of the street, but there was still a good-sized gap, as I had expected. The noise of the engines had apparently attracted some attention, too, as a few ghouls were heading my way. I parked my car so that it butted up against the RV, filling the gap. It might slow them down, but it wouldn’t keep them from climbing over. I unloaded the car as quickly as possible and moved my loot to the park for the moment. I wasn’t sure if the undead had actually seen me or not, and I hoped that they might just be investigating the noise of the engines without having an actual destination in mind. If that were the case, I sure didn’t want to blow it by letting them see me carrying stuff into a house. It was time to hide out for a while. I picked a house and broke in, thrilled that the place didn’t smell like death.

“Hello?” I called out, keeping my voice down out of habit. The house was empty and so was the garage. There was room for two cars but no sign of either of them. As I did a thorough inspection of the place, I kept checking the window to keep an eye on my makeshift gate as well. I could see one of the creatures on the other side of the car, but for the moment it was just standing there. I wondered if the others were behind the RV. If they didn’t see me, they might leave, but I wouldn’t be able to retrieve my stuff from the park area until I was sure. In the meantime, I planned.

 ~*~