For a limited time only, I’m offering the entire Gathering Dead series in a single volume. This includes:
A really crummy cover!
The Gathering Dead
Left with the Dead
The Rising Horde: Volume 1
The Rising Horde: Volume 2
All of the text has been lightly refreshed to correct some typos and inconsistencies, but those of you who have already bought the series shouldn’t be compelled to buy it again. This release has a limited shelf life, as the universe of The Gathering Dead will be gaining two new additions: the prequel, Whispers of the Dead, and the final book which will close out this segment of the cycle, Echoes of the Dead.
This release is priced at $5.99 for over 850 pages of zombie mayhem, so if you’re new to the genre, pick it up and enjoy!
Visit The Gathering Dead: Omnibus Edition for your copy now!
As the fair desert hamlet of Single Tree, California completes its fortifications and the townspeople await the legions of the dead, Detective III Reese and his LAPD and National Guard comrades still have to find a way out of Hell Angeles. To set up this excerpt, the group has been forced out of hiding and are trying to make to the Santa Monica Pier. In the middle of the day. While driving around in a very noisy but durable National Guard five-ton truck.
Not the most stylish of rides…but it does get the job done.
As the civvies took their positions, Reese got up and turned, facing outward, his rifle already shouldered. Plosser had been right. Ahead, a gaggle of several dozen stenches lurched toward the truck, drawn to it like bees to honey. Bates was apparently eager to hasten the meeting, and he pushed down on the throttle. The five-ton truck obliged by accelerating toward the stenches. Even though they were facing down an object whose flight they hadn’t a chance in Hell of altering, the zombies surged forward. The faster ones picked up the pace, hurrying to their own end.
The truck didn’t even slow down when it hit the first wave, plowing right through the six or seven runners that charged the vehicle. When it hit the main body of the dead herd, it began to rock from side to side; not because of the mass of dead bodies braining themselves against the truck’s extended bumper and winch, but because of the squirming corpses that were being crushed beneath the truck’s forty-something inch tires. Reese had to hold on tight to prevent himself from being hurled over the side.
“Oh my God,” Marsh moaned, before vomiting over the side of the railing.
“Crap, Detective—you gonna be like this on the boat?” Thanh asked.
Marsh made to respond, but his reply was transformed into a gurgling roar as he vomited again.
“Attaboy, Marsh!” Plosser said. “Give them just what they’re looking for: a nice, hot lunch!”
The Last Town 5: Fleeing the Dead, the second to final entry in the serial, should be out at the end of the month or in early July. Stay tuned, as always.
…it’s The Retreat 4: Alamo!
This just went live on Amazon, folks. So if you’d like to get your crazy, demented Klown on…you know what to do!
Heading your way around the third week in June: The Retreat 4: Alamo. The battalion is rolling hot once again as it leads a mass of evacuees, dependents, and fragmented military units toward the rumored reconstituted safe zone of Florida. Craig DiLouie is back at the helm, and he’s in fine form this time, let me tell you!
As always, the below excerpt is offered without any guarantee that what you read here will be in the released product, etc., etc.
Route 180 cut through trees and farmland. As it topped a rise, Corporal Sandra Rawlings saw the convoy strung out ahead of her through a brown haze of dust. Dozens of vehicles and trailers, hundreds of soldiers, thousands of civilians. A farmhouse burned in the distance, surrounded by fields trodden into mud. From here, the retreat looked more like a rout.
The Humvees and trucks crawled along the road, overloaded with wounded and children and gear. The Trailblazers scout platoon and Alpha Company, Captain Hayes’s hard chargers, formed the vanguard. Then Headquarters under Jane, with Echo, the logistics company, under Johnston, and the mortar and medic platoons. Charlie under Sommers, Delta under Perez. Marsh’s Bravo Company, which had gotten decimated during the kamikaze attacks in Philly, had been placed in the rear with the civilians and what was left of the Pennsylvania Guard’s 56th. Later, they’d be integrated. If there was a later.
Everywhere, people coughed on the dust in the afternoon heat of this, the last dregs of summer. Babies cried. Gear clattered. The vehicles snarled and coughed exhaust. Otherwise, it was a subdued march. They’d come nearly two hundred kilometers out of Philly, through Gettysburg. They felt sickened and numb, even the hard cases, even the big hairy Sergeant Muldoon, who seemed born for a war like this.
Rawlings remembered first meeting her squad, these lightfighters of Company B. Before that, at Harvard Stadium, she’d been a leader; the boys there had been so shell shocked, they’d all but given up, but rallied to her mothering. These 10th Mountain guys, however, had seen her as a leaf eater. She’d proven herself—not by any single heroic act, but simply by covering her sector and shooting straight—and when they looked at her now, they often forgot she was NG, a Nasty Girl.
They’d changed since that first time she’d met them and they’d tried to intimidate and impress her with their barracks routine. Gone was the grab-ass, the macho posturing, the dumb jokes, the bitching. They were starting to look like the lost boys of Harvard Stadium, which worried her. They didn’t talk about how they missed KFC and beer and PS3 and going to football games, the comforts of home. They were home, what they called the Home Front, and it was filled with blood. They missed everything. They missed the ones they loved. The world didn’t make sense anymore. They were supposed to do the fighting and dying while their loved ones stayed safe. Now here they were, safe for the moment, while so many people they knew were probably dead or cowering in some government stronghold.
Rawlings felt the same guilt. She remembered getting called up in Beantown and reporting to the Muleskinners, a logistics unit with the 164th Transportation Battalion, Massachusetts National Guard. Boston was falling apart from the horrifying epidemic. Everybody thought once the civilian governments had pulled their heads out of their collective ass and unleashed the military, things would get back under control. The Army held the line for a while, but only a while. Every day, the gunfire got a little louder, a little closer. Every day, things got worse.
Boston’s major arteries had been closed off to civilian traffic and used as super lanes for troop movements and logistics. Day and night, the Muleskinners hauled supplies all over the crumbling city. Then one day, a five-ton broke down on the Massachusetts Turnpike, near the Big Dig. The convoy pulled over. Lieutenant Spaulding set up a security perimeter while the gearheads got to work. The Muleskinners shared cigarettes and sweated in their combat uniforms. Rawlings popped a fresh stick of gum in her mouth and chewed like she wanted to kill it.
A group of police officers appeared at the fence and looked down at her. Some wore riot gear. About thirty in all. They’d come out of the Mass Pike Towers, a low-income housing project. One raised his hands and waved frantically over his head, making Rawlings stiffen. While she stared back at them, they began climbing the chain-link fence and loping down onto the highway. They glanced over their shoulders. Wherever they’d come from, something bad had happened.
“Sergeant,” Rawlings said. “We got company. Some kind of trouble.”
Lieutenant Spaulding was already jogging toward them. Sergeant Nance sighed at the sight. “Look at her go. Wonder Woman to the rescue. Like we need this shit. We got a schedule to keep.”
Rawlings heard Spaulding ask, “What do you guys need?”
“Christmas,” a cop said and cut her in half with his shotgun.
Rawlings swallowed her gum. “They’re crazies!”
“Shit!” Nance said. “LT! Shit! Loonies!”
The cops tore into their outfit with a joyous cheer. The officer who’d killed the Lieutenant grinned at Rawlings, sweeping his finger across his throat. She raised her M16 and fired a three-round burst, missed, and fired again. The man fell to his knees laughing, smoking pouring out of his chest.
They’re cops, she remembered thinking. This wasn’t supposed to happen. It couldn’t be happening. But it was.
Nance dropped without a sound, half her face gone. One moment, she was a human being shouting orders, the next, a falling sack of lifeless meat. Everywhere, people screamed, others laughed. Rifles popped. Rawlings fired again at a charging figure. Something blurred in the corner of her eye; her mouth exploded in pain. She reeled, spitting blood and splinters of teeth, as a gorilla in a bulletproof vest swung his baton again with savage glee, ringing her helmet like a gong.
She fired on reflex. The bullet entered his right eye, bounced around, and shot the mess out the back of his skull. Then she blacked out.
She awoke in Harvard Stadium, her friends dead, her unit destroyed. Two weeks later, she’d been forced to kill another friend, Private Scott Wade. Six weeks after that, she watched another good man, Jeff Carter, die.
So much horror and death, yet she lived.
Rawlings often wondered why.
In the distance, bodies dangled from a dead power line. The battalion hadn’t seen a Klown—short for Killer Clown, the nickname the lightfighters gave the laughing infected—in days. She wondered where they all went. The fields here had been trampled flat. A massive army had passed through this place.
Marching next to her, Muldoon nudged her shoulder. “You okay?”
Rawlings stared at him. Was anybody okay?
“You’re okay,” he told her.
Unlike the other Bushmasters marching with their heads down and their shoulders clenched, the big NCO walked easily. He’d shrugged off the horrors of Philly days ago and was back to his old insufferable self. He was doing okay. He was doing just fine. The sergeant seemed at home with all this. A true survivor.
Despite all the affection Rawlings felt for the man, she hated him right then.
“Our earnest and intrepid Colonel Lee has gotten us this far,” Muldoon said, loud enough to be heard by the whole squad. “We’ll reach Mount Weather soon. Corporate Nutter will grab his balls and tell the President he didn’t vote for her.”
Nutter said, “Is that an order, Duke?”
“Ramirez will drink his Mexican ass stupid. Donegal will bitch about something. Make that everything. Garza will somehow get the clap.”
“And Cline will look for the nearest gay bar.”
The squad burst into laughter, earning them worried glares from the people around them.
Sparta 3-1, this is Sparta, over, Muldoon’s radio buzzed.
“Go for 3-1, over.”
Knock off the laughing. Now. Over.
Now Rawlings joined in. Laughing felt dangerous but good.
Muldoon said, “Just boosting morale, Lieutenant.”
You’re killing everybody else’s. Gonna give somebody a heart—
“Negative contact, Sparta. Say again, over.”
What the—? Wait, one.
“Train!” somebody cried.
Rawlings stiffened as a flurry of panicked screams rippled through the civilians. She looked across the helmeted heads of Bravo and saw a civilian with a scoped hunting rifle standing on an RV.
“Train,” the man repeated. “There’s a train coming!”
First off, a correction for a previous post on this topic. Below is one of the alternate covers that was presented of Hastings bailing out onto the train. Wolf and I discarded it, not because it’s bad or anything, but just because it wasn’t sufficiently dramatic. It is good work, though!
Now, back on topic. We already agreed upon a format, and the next revision Marc sent to us is below:
Good stuff, but the main character seems a bit out of scale, and unless the Chinook is drifting sideways, he’s kind of away from where he should be. Another guy was added, blasting away at the dead. But Wolf’s major problem with this: the stars on Old Glory aren’t right. But as you may remember from this earlier iteration, it’s generally all sorts of good.
Marc’s latest revision…
…has a different sky, a modified aspect, more guys, guns, and zombies–and oh yeah, Hastings actually kicking the head off a zombie. That was an unexpected surprise, and if he can get enough brackish gore in there, it’ll be perfect! Flag modified, our crew chief is whipping out the pistol, and some neat-o spark effects thrown in for good measure. Wolf approves, and so do I, so this is the launching pad for the final.
Now…if only I could deliver my pages so Mr. Wolf can start his slice…😀
First hack at the cover for the upcoming The Retreat 4: Alamo by none other than the luminaire of all things graphic, Jeroen ten Berge! This is just the initial pass, and it’s still awaiting comments from Craig and Joe, but it’s looking pretty hot to me!
And for fun, a little 3D popper as well, even though this won’t be released in print as a standalone:
Can’t really go into the details of the plot as of yet as this is Craig’s secret to reveal, but the battered and bloodied battalion finds itself in yet another tight spot!