So you can read my books

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Ever wonder what happened to Becky, Glasses, and LeRoy from Victor's zombie run-in at that playround in Detroit?

You'll find out in THE RIVAL.

{Due to be published this summer!}

But here is the bit called "THE LAST NEWSCAST."

{Detroit has become the city of the undead except for four very frightened children -- one of them a murderer and worse.}

“You can find everything you need at Sears,” I whispered with a smile, remembering what Mother had once told me.

“Aren’t you finished yet?,” whispered Becky.

Over the past month we had learned to whisper whenever we talked. It had been a pretty lousy thirty days.

Especially for Becky and Glasses. Both had lost their parents long ago. Becky lived with an older sister, Glasses with a maiden aunt. Both sister and aunt died in that playground.

I made a finishing twist of the screwdriver and nodded, “All finished.”

I handed her the tinkered leg of a walker I had worked on for nearly an hour. “Your Zip gun.”

Becky took it with a frown. “Gee, it’s heavy!”

“Should be. It fires ball bearings.”

LeRoy cocked his sullen head. “How it do that?”

“It uses compressed air to shoot ball bearings. I took a couple of things Leonardo di Vinci taught me ….”

All three of them looked at me as if I were Forest Gump, and I hurriedly added, “ … in a dream.”

Glasses smiled timidly, “What was the dream, Victor?”

“Ah, Mother and I visited him when he was a real old man. She told him it was time to go.”

“Go where?,” Becky frowned.

I shrugged. “Somewhere he really didn’t want to go from the way he looked. Mother left me with him, saying she’d postpone his going as long as he taught me needful things.”

Both Becky and Glasses made me uncomfortable by getting closer than they needed to be.

LeRoy huffed, “And did he?”

“Did he what?”

“Show you those needful things, fool!”

“Yeah, he did. It was a pretty fun month. He was a neat teacher. Then ….”

“Then, what?” whispered Glasses.

“Then, Mother came back. But Leo took it better than I expected. He ruffled my hair and told me I had made his last month one of the best.”

Becky got even closer. I couldn’t understand it. In a month she seemed to have grown older by a full year at least. I had a sinking feeling my scream on the playground had something to do with it.

She whispered, “What happened next?”

I grew uneasy and muttered, “The dream ends there.”

LeRoy grunted, “Dreams always do.”

He sneered at my red wagon by the Sears hardware check out. “What else you got in there?”

I reached down and pulled out the mini-crossbow I had jury-rigged for Glasses and handed it to her. “Lighter than bricks.”

She took it gingerly. “Ha. Ha.”

I smiled thin. “I used pulleys and chains in ways Archimedes showed me.”

LeRoy sneered uglier. “In another dream, right?”

I nodded. “In another dream.”

Becky made a librarian face. “How many of those silly dreams do you have?”

“Don’t know. I just seem to remember ‘em when I need them.”

I sniffed at the faint traces of familiar perfume and pulled at the cuffs of my work gloves, uncomfortable at the memories they stirred. LeRoy smiled like a shark. He shook his head.

“What? You don’t want those lily white hands to get dirty?”

“Cut. I don’t want them cut. Remember how fast Shamblers get when they smell fresh blood?”

That shut him up. He looked concerned all around the empty store. He gnawed his upper lip.

“This places spooks me. It so empty. It should be full of Shamblers as you call them.”

Glasses shook her own head. “It’s as if somebody cleared them out before we got here.”

Becky laughed bitter. “Maybe it was Victor’s Mother.”

I might have laughed with her if I weren’t smelling her strange perfume in the air.

To change the subject, I pulled out two back packs. One marked G and the other B. I handed them to the girls.

“It has bolts and ball bearings in them. First Aid kits, magnesium flares, matches, Zippo’s, lighter fluid …..”

“Why both matches and Zippo’s?,” growled LeRoy.

Glasses’ eyes lit up. “Oh, I know! You skirt a Shambler with the lighter fluid, light up the pack of matches with the Zippo, and throw it on the zombie!”

For once LeRoy nodded in appreciation of one of my ideas. "Barbequed Shambler! I like that."

I figured he was smiling because it was spoken out loud by Glasses. If Becky had done it, he would have done hand-stands.

He suddenly frowned, “Hey, where’s my back pack?”

“With that free running of yours, you don’t need to be loaded down with a pack.”

I bent down and pulled out my gag gift. “Here’s a new mop though .. to replace the one you broke over that Shambler's head in the playground.”

As the girls giggled, he snapped, “You know where you can stick that.”

“Where do we go from here?,” asked Becky.

I grinned, “The mattress department.”

LeRoy huffed, “I ain’t sleeping in this death trap.”

We’re gonna sit while the girls snooze for a couple of hours.”

Becky clasped both hands together. “Oh, LeRoy, could we? To sleep on a real bed again ….”

He relented. “Oh, all right. But not for no two hours. Maybe thirty minutes. Those Shamblers may be gone now, but they be coming back.”

Becky and Glasses literally skipped on the way to the Mattress Department. Sears had three beds as models. The girls picked the biggest to snuggle up in together.

LeRoy made me antsy the way he looked at Becky in the bed. I unfurled long sheets of bubble wrap all around their bed.

LeRoy muttered, “The Shamblers get that close, getting warned won’t do no good.”

But the bubble wrap seemed to ease the girls in the way that I hoped it would. LeRoy glared at me, seeing it. Let him. We were never going to be Prom dates anyway.

They snuggled in their new Sears jeans and blouses and sighed. I sighed, too, as I noticed they kept their sneakers on. It was a new world with new rules.

I had already set up two Lazy Boys by the beds before I led us here. With the TV in front of it. LeRoy arched an eyebrow.

“Where the popcorn to go with the movie?”

“No movie. Only a DVD recording marked THE LAST NEWCAST.”

LeRoy made a face. “I can hardly wait.”

The newswoman looked like she had seen better days. Her fancy hair-do was all frazzled. Her business suit looked like it had been slept in for days.

The camera was even off-center as if not wanting to get too close a look at her. Her first words explained the camera.

“T-Ted, the camera man is … dead. I … shot him myself.”

She peered into the camera as if begging its owner’s forgiveness.

“You asked me to, Ted. I – I didn’t want to. God, you know I didn’t want to. B-But you said women were the stronger sex.”

(“Yeah, right,” muttered LeRoy. I shushed him.)

She sniffed once, picked up a stack of rumpled news copy, and laughed bitterly.

“I don’t feel stronger. I feel … that’s just it. I don’t feel. It’s like my heart and mind are both wrapped in cotton.”

I heard the pounding and grunting from behind the camera at the same time she did.

She went stiff, dropping the papers in a messy sprawl on the desk in front of her.
“I don’t have long. But if I’m going to die, I’m going to die a newswoman.”

The pounding on the unseen door got louder. The grunting was worse somehow, and the poor lady echoed my thoughts.

“It’s that damn hungry, incessant grunting. It’s more than hunger. Sexual almost. Damn.”

She looked back into the camera, now seeing, not Ted, but the audience. “Ted set this up to repeat over and over again. So if you’re watching this, I’m not really here.”

She looked off into the shadows and murmured, “I haven’t been here for a long time now.”

She snapped out of it with the increased pounding and grunting behind the camera. Splintering wood was added to the mix. She tried to wet her mouth, her dry tongue.

“Anyone close to you gets bit, you kill them. In hours, minutes even, they become ….”

The grunting grew obscene somehow, and she looked towards it then back to the camera.

“… one of them. Shoot them. But not in the body.”

She smacked her forehead. “There! If you don’t have a gun, a bat, a lead pipe. Fire. Burn them! But save yourself. They are already dead.”

She looked down at the floor by the camera and whimpered, “Already dead.”

The door sounded ready to go, and she pulled out a revolver.

“Don’t bury them. Kill them. But don’t burn the bodies! God, don’t burn the bodies.”

“Ted and I were there when the National Guard started burning the bodies. The smoke. God, the smoke. It infected everyone by the fires who breathed it. They changed so fast.”

She closed her eyes tight as the grunting got louder, the splintering wood more shrill. “Those changed didn’t shamble.”

(LeRoy looked at me with the speaking of the word. His face was ash gray, his eyes wide.)

“They were like rabid dogs. They ran so fast, their open mouths foaming. T-That’s when Ted got bit. I think I might have gotten a whiff of that damn smoke myself. I – I don’t feel human anymore.”

It sounded like the door was about to go.

“No, I feel like a little girl back in church, knowing I’m going to get a spanking when I get home.”

She stroked the revolver as if it were a cat and began to sing “O Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in a little girl’s voice :

“H-Here I raise my Ebenezer ….”

She put the gun’s barrel under her chin.

“H-Hither by Thy help I’m come,
And I hope by T-Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive a-at ho-home.”

She pulled the trigger.

I jumped in my chair. The door to the newsroom finally tore off its hinges right then. The camera was knocked down. We saw a flurry of shambling feet. Then, there was a click.

The newswoman was back looking at us again. “T-Ted, the camera man is … dead. I … shot him myself.”

The clip was repeating itself. I was shaking. LeRoy husked out , “Shit.”

I managed to say, “What you said.”

LeRoy frowned, “Hey, the grunting didn’t come so soon, did it?”

I quick turned off the TV with the remote. The grunting kept on. LeRoy suddenly looked like an albino.

“They found us!”

We popped out of the Lazy Boys. I turned to the far end of the third floor. There. At the escalator.

The Shamblers were tumbling to the floor as their feet no longer remembered how to step off an escalator. They hadn’t seen us yet. They had only smelled us.

LeRoy started for Becky. I was closer. I whispered shrill.

“Cover Glasses’ mouth when you wake her.”

“Why the hell for?”

“Don’t you remember? They always wake up screaming.”

Alice & Victor's love theme :


  1. Holy crap! I'm not a zombie fan, but that made me want to find out what's going to happen next. Sadly, I didn't find you in the Kobo store.

  2. Jasmine :
    Isn't Leonora Roy a fantastic artist?

    Will :
    THE RIVAL will not be out until summer of this year. Glad you enjoyed this snippet -- and THE RIVAL just begins with zombies, it gets more dangerous with every chapter. Thanks for the kind words.

    My books currently are not available through Kobo -- I am looking into it, Roland

  3. ...okay that settles it. I'm getting caught up with Victor's story promptly!

    The hook has been set, my friend.

    Well done!


  4. Thanks, Elliot :
    LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH and UNDER A VOODOO MOON are out. THE RIVAL (book 3) comes out this summer.

    I'm glad you're interested in Victor's "Indiana Jones" life! It certainly isn't boring. But it is like an onion, the more layers you peel away, the more are revealed yet to understand. Thanks again, Roland

  5. I love that they're called Shamblers! Nice work :)

  6. Trisha :
    Hope your forehead is some better! Yes, Victor tries to cope with his fears by making light of them. Tune in tomorrow for a new version of the playround incident when the 4 children meet for the first time and find out that ZOMBIES DON'T PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS! Roland