Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stone Dead Forever (Zombie D.O.A. Book 11)

Chris Collins thought Memphis, Tennessee would be a safe haven for his family, a respite from the relentless pursuit of Colonel Gareth Stone and his zombie army.

But Memphis is run by Buzz Talbert, a megalomaniac former US senator, who has just declared himself President of the United States. Now Talbert has kidnapped Chris's family and is heading for Washington D.C. for his inauguration. Before that he plans on making Kelly Collins his First Lady.

Chris sets off in pursuit, but the run from Memphis to Washington is wrought with dangers. First off there's Colonel Stone and his doped up zombie soldiers. Then there's the clan of cannibalistic bikers known as The Dead Men, who's leader has a personal grudge against Chris and wants to (quite literally) turn him into hamburger.

Throw in a backwoods cannibal clan, a pair of sadistic hunters, and lots and lots of zombies, and you have all the ingredients for a rip-roaring, action -packed, post-apocalyptic adventure.
 
Stone Dead Forever is the 11th episode of the Zombie D.O.A. series - packed with the usual twists and jaw-dropping action that  the series has become renowned for.



 

Click the "Read More" link below to read an excerpt from

Stone Dead Forever








one


The Volvo station wagon stood at the side of Interstate 40, some sixty miles northeast of Memphis, Tennessee. Its hood was up, and under it, Hooley Hoolihan was trying to remove the cap from the radiator, while smoke billowed around him.
Behind Hooley, Chris Collins stood with his hands on his hips and tried to mask his frustration. “You check the water, Hooley?” Chris said
“Hell yeah,” Hooley said. “Topped it to the brim last evening. Must be a crack in the radiator lining.”
“Where’s that leave us?”
“More than likely it leaves us on foot. Be able to tell you once I get this cap off.” He reached for the radiator cap then quickly withdrew his hand. “Son of a bitch!” he shouted, jumping back and thrusting his fingers into his mouth.
“Everything okay back there?” Joe Thursday said from behind the Volvo. 
“Goddamn foreign cars!” Hooley said, shaking his hand. “Damn near took a layer of skin off my fingers.”
“Here, let me.” Chris said. He pulled his sleeve down over his hand, stepped forward and gave the radiator cap a twist. It popped off immediately, releasing a gush of steam.
“That’s cooked,” Hooley said immediately. He walked over and peered into the tank anyway, crouched down and sniffed tentatively.
“Car coming!” Joe called out.
Chris looked around the station wagon, back down the road towards Memphis. A vehicle was chugging towards them, about a mile off, not appearing to be in any hurry. He picked up his AK-47, slinging the rifle belt over his shoulder, positioning the rifle so that it looked non-threatening but allowed him to bring it up quickly if the need arose.
“Must have come out of those trees to the right,” Joe said. “More than likely he was parked there when we passed.”
The vehicle was closer now, Chris could make out a rusted, old Dodge truck that was listing badly to one side, two people in the cab.
“Easy on the trigger, gents,” Joe said. “Let’s just see how this plays out. Maybe they can help. It’s not like we have a whole lot of options.”
The truck drifted by, a grizzled man of about sixty at the wheel, a chubby, blond woman in the passenger seat. For a moment, Chris thought they weren’t going to stop but then the vehicle made a languid turn in the road, came back towards them and shuddered to a halt twenty feet from the Volvo. The passenger door popped open and a woman rolled out. Chris had thought her chubby when he’d first seen her, now he saw that she was somewhere north of that description, five foot two and almost as wide. She had on a floral dress that could have doubled as a marquee for a fair sized garden party, she wore a smile of the thousand-watt variety.
“Mornin’ travelers,” she said. “Looks like you’ve got yourselves some car trouble.”
“Mornin’ ma’am,” Hooley said. “Radiator decided to go kettle on us. Waitin’ on her to cool down, then we’ll be on our way.”
“Oh dear,” the woman said. “Best we get Otis to have a look at that. Ain’t a piece of machinery on God’s green earth that man can’t fix. I swear he’s a genius on matters mechanical.” She half turned towards the truck.
“Pa!” she screeched. “You come on out here.”
The door of the truck flipped open and the driver dragged himself out, moving as slow as molasses. Chris shifted his hand ever so slightly closer to the trigger guard. The man stepped from behind the truck door and walked towards them in slow, deliberate paces. He was the exact opposite of the woman - gaunt and snake-hipped with dirty hair and three days worth of stubble on his chin. He regarded Joe, Hooley and Chris suspiciously nodding to each in turn.
“Oh, my goodness,” the woman screeched, “Look at my manners. I haven’t made any introductions. I’m Lottie Janks, this here’s my husband, Otis. We’ve got us a spread just the other side of this rise, down by the lake. Real pretty down there.”
“Joe Thursday,” Joe said. “Chris Collins, Hooley Hoolihan. The two young ladies in the car are Ruby and Ferret.”
“Young ladies?” Lottie said, she peered into the cab of the Volvo and a look crossed her face that Chris didn’t particularly care for. Then it was gone. “Hi girls,” Lottie said, wriggling her fat fingers. She turned back to Otis.
“I was just tellin’ these nice gentlemen how you can fix just about any machine ever made.”
“Yes ‘um,” Otis muttered.
“Why don’t you take a look at their car? They seem to be having a problem.”
“Yes ‘um.” Otis said again. He strolled towards the Volvo, barely reaching it before he announced, “Cooked.”



two  


“That’s settled then folks, y’all coming with us.”
“Appreciate, the offer ma’am,” Chris said. “But we really don’t have time to-”
“Nonsense,” Lottie cut in, “What kind of Christian folk would we be if we left you stranded by the side of the road, and with two young girls and all? You’re comin’ back to the house with us and there’s an end of it. I’ll fix y’all something to eat and Otis will fix the car and have you back on the road in a couple of hours.”
Chris looked across at Joe, who shrugged. “Not like we’ve got a whole lot of options here, compadre.” 
“A couple of hours?” Chris said to Lottie.
“Maybe less,” Lottie said.
“Okay then.”  
  While Hooley helped Otis hook up the Volvo, Chris and Joe helped Ruby onto the back of the truck, where Ferret already waited. Despite the two sachets of plasma Ruby had received, she still looked weak and frail, and Chris was becoming genuinely concerned about her. Of course, any fifteen-year-old girl, taking a bullet like she had, losing the amount of blood she had, was going to need some recovery time. But Ruby was no ordinary girl. She’d always had extraordinary powers of recuperation. Now, those powers seemed to have deserted her.
“Y’all hold on back there,” Lottie Janks said, as she jammed herself into the cab. The engine was engaged, and the Dodge lurched forward pulling the Volvo behind it, headed back in the direction of Memphis.
 Chris looked over the filthy bed of the truck, and wondered if he’d made the right call. A grubby, wooden tool box stood to one side, beside it, a couple of threadbare tires and an array of rusting car parts, beer cans and other debris. He noticed something else, too, brownish stains spattered along the side of the bed, and caked into frigid rivulets between gaps in the metal. He’d seen enough blood in his time to know what it was.
“More than likely, these are huntin’ folks,” Hooley said, anticipating Chris’s thoughts.
“Wouldn’t be so sure of that, Hooley,” Joe teased. “Hard to imagine Ma and Pa Kettle walking a trail. If you ask me, their hunting skills have more to do with sweet talking gullible folks like ourselves back to their homestead.”
“Could be they got children what do the huntin’ for them,” Hooley said, his face taking on the same spooked expression as when they’d encountered John Casey Adams in the woods outside of Forrest City.
“Just joshing you, Hooley,” Joe laughed. “I’m pretty sure they’re deer hunters like you say. Although, if they offer you a fillet mignon, I’d advise you to say you had a big breakfast.”
The truck made a right turn, leaving the freeway and picking up a dirt track that cut through a grove of trees. If Otis really did have a knack for fixing automobiles he hadn’t applied it to his own, at least not to the shocks anyway – Chris felt himself pitched and tossed about as though he were on a boat riding out a low intensity storm. He held on to Ruby, cushioning her body from the worst of the buffeting.
The truck crested the rise and continued downward into a shallow glen. A small lake nestled among the foliage at its base. It was as pretty as Lottie had suggested, especially with the sun putting in a belated appearance and the fall livery of the trees reflected back off the water. A few minutes of bone-shaking descent later, they lurched to a stop beside a ramshackle cabin, some fifty feet back from the water’s edge.
Chris did a quick scan of the surroundings. Aside from the cabin there was a small barn, a corral, and a standalone garage, all gathered around a dirt yard. At the center of the yard, the last embers of a cooking fire smoldered, an overturned iron pot among them. The corpses of several decaying motor vehicles surrounded the yard, again giving Chris reason to doubt Otis’s mechanical skills.
“Come on down, folks,” Lottie said, extricating herself from the cab. “Come on down and make yourselves at home. Ella! Get out here girl. We got company present!”
A woman padded barefoot onto the porch, a younger version of Lottie, not quite as heavy, but with similar bottle blond hair, dark roots showing along the parting. “This here’s my daughter, Ella,” Lottie said. “Well, Ella-Mae actually, except she don’t like the Mae part none, do you girl? Her feller Tom’s up in the hills doin’ some squirrel huntin’. And this here’s Joley.” A girl of about four joined Ella on the porch, clinging to Ella’s leg as though her life depended on it. “Say hello to our visitors,” Lottie coaxed. Neither Ella nor Joley said a word. “Shy,” Lottie explained.
Chris helped Ruby from the truck while Joe and Hooley unhooked the Volvo with Otis hovering in the background, not showing any particular interest in the vehicle.
“Right, who’s hungry?” Lottie said. “I got some pot roast left over from last evening’s meal. How about I heat some of that up for you fellers?”
“No thanks ma’am,” Hooley said immediately. “I had a big breakfast, I’m fit to burst, as a matter of fact.”



three


Colonel Gareth Stone surveyed the city across the river through his one good eye. Memphis was burning. Not a fully-fledged conflagration as yet, but enough smoke and flame to suggest that the faint breeze rippling across the Mississippi might stir it up at any moment. Stone had no problem with that. As far as he was concerned, the whole damn country could go up in smoke. What concerned him was the bridge, or rather, the lack of one.
“You mean to tell me there’s only one goddamn bridge in this whole pissant town?”
“Not saying that at all,” V.J. Pratt said. “I’m saying there’s four bridges - all of them down. The good news is, I found us another way round. ”
“Oh, you have, have you?” Stone said. He had the doozy of a headache building up, a regular occurrence these days, an affliction that only a dose of BH-17 seemed to clear. He removed a vial from his pocket, broke the seal and took a slug of the bluish liquid. Pratt’s looked like he wanted to say something about it, but he held his peace. Good thing too, Stone wasn’t in the mood for Pratt’s shit today.
“Down the river to Helena,” Pratt continued. “Straight as piss, and we’ll be in Memphis in a couple of hours tops.”
“Sounds like you have it all figured out,” Stone said. “Mind if I take a look at that map?”

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