To read an interview with the author, M.D. Massey, please see the May issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.
The action-packed prequel to M.D. Massey’s THEM Paranormal Zombie Apocalypse Series!
When a surprise nuclear attack forces Aidan from hiding, he finds the world to be a much different and more deadly place. Now he’ll traverse a post-apocalyptic landscape populated by violent redneck looters, rogue military factions, and an army of hungry undead…
I was just pulling my old Toyota Hilux 4×4 into the Stop N’ Go parking lot when I saw him standing there, kinda’ swaying back and forth and just generally waiting to get run over. Aw’ shit, I thought, better help him before Randy comes along and locks him up. Randy was the local constable, and along with the sheriff’s deputies who patrolled this area, he was most of what passed for the law in these parts.
Most folks who aren’t from Texas don’t realize it, but there are counties in this state that are bigger than most northeastern states. And in South and West Texas, many of them are fairly sparsely populated, which means there’s a whole lot of land with not a lot of law to go around. Suits me just fine, as I like to spend my time with as little government interference as possible.
Another thing most folks don’t realize is just how close to Mexico most of the state is. That means we get a lot of illegals coming up from south of us, looking for work and a better life. I don’t hold it against them, being as my ancestors pretty much came to Texas the same way, albeit before Texas was a state. And even though I’m mostly a fan of respecting the rule of law, I still try to help them anyway I can.
Sadly, this character looked like he’d been sick for days. Nearest hospital was in Kerrville, and he likely had no way to get there, as he was probably all on his own. Musta just got into town. Coyotes would smuggle illegals just far enough to evade ICE, then they’d give them a jug of water and say, “Walk that way until you find a town.” A lot of them died each year, lost in the desert scrub, without adequate water, food, or shelter. Good part of them were kids. I had an uncle who worked as a cop on the border in South Texas for the better part of 50 years, and he’d tell stories about finding kids dead in the scrub. Haunted him for the rest of his days.
So, when I see a guy like this one, I do my best to step in and help them get where they need to be. This guy looked like he was really bad off. For one, he was sticking out like a sore thumb, which was bound to get him picked up quick. He was wearing a pair of snakeskin boots that looked liked the soles were worn right through, a pair of acid-washed jeans that had seen better days way back in the eighties when they were probably made, and a cheap western shirt. An Astros hat topped it all off, which he probably bought thinking it would help him blend in, the poor guy. I pulled my truck up beside him and spoke from inside the truck.
“¡Oye! ¿Necesita un paseo?” Hey, do you need a ride somewhere? Nothing. The guy just stood there, continuing to rock back and forth. I could see his eyes were glazed over, and he looked like he was about to pass out. I grabbed a water bottle from the passenger seat, put the truck in neutral and set the parking brake, and got out to help him.
“Señor, quieres agua?” I asked as I approached him from the front. He was still zoning out as I walked up, and it looked like he’d need medical assistance, for sure. I unscrewed the cap and walked up with the bottle held out to him, and as I did, his eyes rolled back in his skull and he collapsed.
“Shit!” I dropped to the ground next to him and shifted into combat lifesaver mode. A few years in 3rd Batt and a couple of tours in Afghanistan, and you pick up a few things about first aid. The guy looked like he was either vomiting or foaming at the mouth, so I rolled him over on his side and checked to make sure his airway was clear. He appeared to be breathing okay, so I looked around to find someone to call 911.
Thankfully by this time we’d started to gather a crowd, mostly tourists who were down here to enjoy seeing the leaves turn at Lost Maples State Park and maybe a little tubing on the Frio, what with the Indian summer we were having. I tolerated them most days, but just barely. Bunch of yuppies and hipsters from Austin, with the occasional drunk-ass frat boy thrown in for good measure. I kept reminding myself they’d be gone in a few weeks, and good riddance. I also reminded myself that frat boys often brought sorority girls with them, which tended to make the summer and fall tourist seasons a bit more bearable. If only just.
Most of them had their cell phones out and appeared to be filming the action. Welcome to the age of Worldstar and YouTube, where idiots would rather shoot a viral video than help their fellow humans. Sign of the times, I supposed. I didn’t even own a cell phone, refused to carry them, in fact. Like I wanted the government to be able to track my every move. They had gotten enough out of me in the ‘Stan; now I just wanted to be left alone.
I turned to a fat guy in a Hawaiian print shirt, flip flops, and cargo shorts. “You, Peter Griffin! Call 911, this guy obviously needs help.”
The guy gave me a hurt look and started dialing his phone. “I was going to call – no need to start insulting people,” he mumbled as he dialed. I sneered and went back to helping my anonymous friend. In the time it took to turn to the tourist to get him to call an ambulance, the guy had stopped breathing.
“Aw hell!” I said to no one in particular. I jumped up and pushed through the crowd to my truck and pulled a med kit from behind the seat. It had a CPR pocket mask in it, because damned if I was going to give this guy mouth to mouth through all that foam and puke. I pushed my way back through, only to find that, of course, no one had started CPR yet. I dropped down next to the guy and cleared his airway again, gave him two quick breaths, then I started chest compressions. I could hear the crowd mumbling behind me as I worked.
“Oh man, this is going up on Facebook right now! The guys are going to flip!”
“Ew, he threw up in his mouth – gross. I bet he stinks, too.”
“Shouldn’t someone call an ambulance? I think they did already, right?”
“Where is the Border Patrol when you need them? If they were doing their jobs, this kind of thing would never happen.”
And so on. I blocked them out and focused on keeping this guy’s heart beating for him, a task that seemed to be dragging on into eternity. It was always like that when you were pumping on somebody’s chest, which I did more times than I would have liked in the ‘Stan. As I looked down at my hands moving the guy’s chest up and down, I could almost smell the gunpowder and feel the grit between my teeth, and hear the sounds of battle all around me.
Oh, bloody hell. Not again. My breathing started to quicken and I could feel a full-on panic attack was about to hit. Not good, Sully. Not good at all.
I tried to slow my breathing, which was kind of difficult considering all the work that went into keeping the guy’s blood moving and keeping air moving in and out of his lungs. So far no one had volunteered to do two-person CPR with me, and I was getting light-headed along with feeling like my heart was beating out of my chest. I started to feel like things were closing in, and I couldn’t focus, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think.
Just a few more minutes – surely just a few more minutes. Ambulance should be here anytime now, I reassured myself. Only, it might not. Real County covered over 700 square miles, and the local EMS crews could be busy with a drowning, an agricultural accident, or a motor vehicle collision halfway across the county. Just thinking about that started making me flip out more.
“Balls!” I whispered loudly in frustration. I was starting to see spots, my breathing was coming fast and shallow, and I was about to lose my shit. And that’s about the time the guy I was doing CPR on came back to life.
– – –
I was pumping away on the guy’s chest when his eyes suddenly popped open. It was weird though, because they were rheumy and covered in a white haze, not unlike someone who has suffered flash burns to the eyes. His eyes sort of rolled around a bit, then he took in a deep, shuddering breath, and started moaning and pawing all over the place.
I placed a hand on his shoulder to calm him. “Cálmate. Todo está bien. La ayuda está en camino.” Calm down, everything is fine and help is on the way.
His eyes rolled around again and centered on me. He paused, and I thought I’d finally gotten through to him. Then, he lunged up at me with lightning speed, bowling me over and landing on top of me. Out of habit, I pulled him in between my legs into the jiu-jitsu guard position, and got a forearm under his chin. Unfortunately, he had already grabbed me by the neck with both hands, and was pulling my face towards his with such force, I thought he might snap my neck. Not to mention the fact that he was choking me as well.
His face was just inches from mine, and he was snapping his teeth at me in a pecking manner, bobbing his head forward and apparently trying to take a bite out of my face. The scary thing was, despite years of Modern Army Combatives training, I couldn’t move his hands off my neck. He was that strong. I’m not a small man, but in all my years in the military sparring with guys my size and bigger, I’d never grappled with someone who had this much raw strength.
He’s on drugs, I thought. Great. I was already freaking out from the panic attack that had come on just moments earlier, and I was starting to see spots in my vision. I knew it was only seconds before I blacked out, and none of the bystanders were moving to help. I looked around frantically for assistance, unable to even speak, only to see a bunch of dumbfounded looks among the sheep standing by. In seconds, I was going to be a snack on Señor Bath Salts’ menu, and I’d end up another fatality in a viral “News of the Weird” story.
Finally, I snapped. I went into full-on batshit mode and let my survival instincts take over as I reached down and drew the Kahr CW45 that I always carry on my right hip. Then I placed it under the dude’s left ear and fired. The bullet exited his skull at an angle that saved me from accidentally shooting an innocent bystander, but brains and blood sprayed out all over the people who were standing on that side of the crowd.
As I rolled the guy’s now limp body off me, people scattered everywhere, with screams and shouts erupting all around me. A few people were still filming on their camera phones, but from several yards back now. I looked over at the guy I’d just been trying to save, saw the exit wound, then promptly turned my head and barfed. It’s not like I hadn’t seen wounds like that before, it was just that I’d nearly been choked to death, I was still having a panic attack from hell, and frankly the idea that I’d just killed a man who I was trying to help wasn’t sitting well with me at the moment.
I could hear people starting to react to what had just happened. More murmurs, some outraged voices, others shouting and arguing. I heard tones of disbelief, angry voices… and still others were speaking in dickheadese.
“Did you see what happened? He just killed that poor homeless guy!”
“Man, this is going to get, like, a million hits! O-freaking-M-G dude, this is going to blow up my followers!”
“I would have done the exact same thing – absolutely. He did the only thing he could have done. Yep, the only thing.”
Again, I tuned them out and my training kicked in as I began assessing myself for injuries and scanning the scene for further threats. That’s roughly the time I heard the sirens, but it wasn’t an ambulance pulling up. It was Constable Randy Taylor, the local law dog. I holstered my weapon and stood up with my hands away from my body and in clear sight. Randy got out of his cruiser, weapon drawn, then he saw me and the guy on the ground and quickly holstered it. He reached up to click his radio mike, rattled off something to his dispatcher, and calmly walked over to me.
“Randy, it was self-defense. Honest. I was doing CPR on the guy, and then he just jumped up and started choking the shit out of me. Couldn’t get him off me, and I was going out. Had to do it.” I had my hands on my knees at this point, and I was starting to hyperventilate again.
Randy strode up and grabbed me by the arm, and then walked me over to the front of the building, whispering in my ear as he guided me along. “I’m going to pretend that what you just said was, ‘It was self-defense and I need to speak to my attorney before giving a statement.’ Sound good?”
I nodded wordlessly. He’d just reminded me that anything I said right now could be used against me in a court of law. For the most part, our county was fairly conservative, and would likely look favorably on a justified self-defense shooting. However, you never knew when you’d get a DA who who might be itching to make a name for himself, and that could lead to charges being brought, even if the cops on scene reported that it appeared to be self-defense.
And despite the fact that I have a Mick name, I hardly look like a poster child for the Aryan race. Take one overzealous prosecutor and add an all-white jury who could be convinced that this was just one drunk Mexican killing another drunk Mexican, and I’d be sent up for twenty and change. No thanks. So, I took Randy’s cue and zipped it.
Randy sorted of hunkered down in front of me and looked me in the eye. “You know SOP says I have to take you in on a shooting fatality. That means in cuffs. You okay with that?”
I nodded, and allowed him to take my sidearm and cuff me, while leading me back to his cruiser. The windows were dark tinted, the motor and AC were running, and it was cool and dark in there. Randy left the cuffs loose. He was actually doing me a favor by putting me in the patrol car.
I sat there for about 30 minutes while Randy and several sheriff’s deputies took statements and kept the crowd from tampering with evidence. It took about ten more minutes for an EMS crew to arrive, but they were really only there to transport the body to the morgue. One of them stopped by the patrol car to check me for injuries, but I waved him off and signed an AMA form. Soon after, Randy strolled over and hopped into the front seat of the vehicle.
He remained silent until we’d pulled away from the scene and were down the road a bit. “Witnesses all pretty much said the same thing. You stopped to help the guy, he collapsed, you did CPR, and then he attacked you. We grabbed a couple of cell phones that filmed the events. A couple of folks weren’t too happy about it, but they said they wanted to help. Told ‘em they can come by the station and get them back after we’ve copied the video over.”
He paused and looked back over his shoulder. “Looks like it was a justifiable shooting. Not a jury in the county that would put a good Samaritan war hero in jail, no how.”
I laughed. Randy chuckled too. “Well, maybe if the DA played it just right. But thing is, I’m pretty sure I can make this go away before it even gets that far. With the video, we should be able to show that you acted in self-defense. The fact that you were providing aid before the attack will likely clinch it. Case closed.”
We pulled up to the Sheriff’s office about 20 minutes later, and I followed Randy inside. Three hours after that, I was released without charges filed. Despite Randy’s assurances, I decided to have a local attorney show up at the station. After we conferred privately for a few minutes he sat with me as I gave my statement to the investigator who worked homicide for the county. Before being released I was told not to leave the area, in case they needed me for further questioning. The lawyer told me he thought no charges would be filed. I had my doubts, but there was nothing I could do.
One thing was for sure though; I was still freaking out. It was all I could do to hold things together while I sat through questioning. All the deep breathing exercises and other mental tricks I’d learned weren’t working, and I knew the only thing that would cure this and settle me back down was either a shit-load of Xanax, or heading out in the woods to be by myself for a good long while.
I decided on the latter. After Randy took me to get my truck, I headed home to pack my gear.
(Zombie Apocalypse Book One)
This book isn’t your run-of-the-mill zombie book. It does start out with the classic bomb attack and the results of the zombies (or deaders as they are called here) taking over with small communities that are trying to hold a safe zone. Our main character in this series is Aidan, aka Scratch – who is an ex-military man, who deals with his PTSD from being in Afghanistan by spending a lot of time in his family owned cabin deep in the woods. On one such trip, Aidan gets sick and is out a bit longer than he planned, and when he comes back out to town, everything has changed.
Since this Is the introduction to the series, you are getting the information on how it all started, so think Rick Grimes waking up in the hospital in The Walking Dead in the first episode, and you’ll get an idea of how confused Aidan is. But with his military background, Aidan gets his act together pretty quickly.
Now this story will begin to really get clicking a little over halfway in. The zombies aren’t the only monsters in this book. The ones that have been in hiding are now coming out – the vampires, seeing some easy pickings with the apocalypse. But these aren’t the romantic vampires you read so much of these days, think nosferatu and you are heading in the right direction. Anyone who doesn’t like the idea of vampires in with a zombie book, may change their minds if they give this a chance. The author brings them into the story very organically, and I liked the originality and it broke up the monotony of the clusters of zombie books on the market today.
Well written, and very engaging, and even though you are burdened with a lot of information, the author does a good job keeping the material interesting to the reader. Looking forward to book 2. Reviewed by Cyrene
Scratch Sullivan just wanted to survive the apocalypse in peace. But when the vamps bring their war right to his doorstep, it’s time for him to cowboy up and rain hell down on his enemies…
It’s been eight years since the bombs fell and the dead rose, and the world has become a very dangerous place. But I’m getting by.
Oh, don’t get me wrong—it’s been hell on earth. But somehow, I seem to fit in. I hunt the dead, vampires and zombies alike, with the odd revenant thrown in for good measure. Folks pay me for solving their problems, sometimes in food, sometimes in moonshine, sometimes in ammo.
And to this point, I’ve been content with how things turned out.
But now some nosferatu tells me the vamps are going to attack the people I protect. Maybe it’s a load of bull, maybe not. But it’s too damned quiet, and something tells me I better find out for myself.
So, I’m heading into the badlands, out where no one’s safe. Gotta see if that vamp was just blowing smoke, or if war is coming.
And if it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll have. Because after eight long years of rebuilding what was lost, I’ll be damned if I let them take back what we’ve reclaimed.
(Zombie Apocalypse Book Two)
This one is even faster paced than the first one. A very original concept, of bringing in paranormal elements into a post-apocalyptic zombie story. In the first book, we learned of the vampires living on the outskirts of humanity, hiding in the shadows and getting braver since the apocalypse and coming out. In this book, toss in werewolves to sweeten the pot, and Scratch Sullivan, hunts all of them. And don’t be fooled, this isn’t the romantic type of monsters that are wrote about so much these days. These are not what you want to meet in a dark forest.
Characters are even more well developed, and there is even a bit of humor snuck in. Dystopian books don’t get a whole lot better. Reviewed by Cyrene