For those of you who have taken the time to read my Chronicles of Connor: Zombie Rising, first, I owe you a huge thank you! For all those who have given me feed back, rated the book on Amazon, and of course purchased the book, I owe you a double thanks! Your feedback means the world to me!
Many people have asked about the sequel, and it is coming! I have posted chapter one of the sequel here and I would again love your comments and feedback! I am typing away and hoping to get the second book out to everyone very soon. Thanks again!
Chronicles of Connor: Zombie Smash
Chapter One- Different Perspectives
Appalachian Mountains, Virginia
Deep inside the Appalachian Mountains of northern Virginia there exist a series of massive bunkers that house the largest collection of advanced weaponry and cyber-intelligent computer networks that the world has never seen. These weapons and computers are designed simply for one thing– the elimination of those threats that the President of the United States feels must be terminated for the good of the order.
The ACME Corporation owns these bunkers, and they answer to the President of the United States and no one else. The world is not aware of this corporation, because simply, it does not exist. At least it does not exist on paper. It turns out secret organizations do not like to leave a paper trail.
I would recommend not looking for this corporation if I were you. Reason being, ACME stands for the Advanced Computerized and Mechanized Exterminations. This corporation is in the business of one thing, and one thing only. That is killing. And, if in your inquisitiveness, you were to discover this organization, well, they just may consider you to be a threat to the good of the order.
And whatever you do, please do not speak with me about the ACME Corporation, or tell anyone I have told you about this organization. I am taking my chances just mentioning it to you in this book.
How ACME does was it does best is with the use of drone aircraft and other robots that are within its inventory. You might have heard of these drones; remote controlled aircraft, which fly around the world armed with the most devilish of missiles. The drones circle the trouble spots of the world, every now and then launching their Hellfire missiles at some terrorist who thinks he is safe in the mountains of some far of country with a funny name.
Currently, ACME’s drones and their Hellfire missiles are reserved for people who plot evil and anarchy in the world, which according to current press reports and the many presidential briefings on the subject matter, is quite a number of people. However, so effective are these drones that recently some members of the military, a few enlightened congressmen, and a certain leader of the ACME Corporation, have proposed using ACME’s collection of drones on zombies and other undesirables.
The ACME Corporation is managed by one General Isaiah Stryker. General Stryker is recently retired, tall, heavily muscled man who sports a closely cropped military haircut. Stryker is a most unpleasant man, not one for conversation, friendships, or the company of others. Stryker loves one thing, the business of soldiering. While other men and women excel at banking, teaching, or building tall buildings, Stryker, excels at killing.
On this chilly day, deep inside the cavernous bunkers of the ACME Corporation, in the massive command center, General Stryker was watching the events play out at the Centralia Mine on an enormous screen. The ACME Corporation had long ago been monitoring the actions of Team F.I.S.T. Although Team F.I.S.T. was the official government organization created to deal with the zombie crises, somebody in the government had decided it would be prudent for ACME to spy on Team F.I.S.T.
General Stryker had at his disposable a great host of spy satellites that excelled in the business of spying from the safety of space. So powerful were these satellites, that if you were to hold up a dollar bill to the sky, General Stryker, safe in his underground bunker thousands of miles away, could tell you the serial numbers of your dollar bill that you were holding up to the sky. Then, he would probably go on to tell you to comb your hair, button your shirt, and to move three feet to the left to step out of the ant nests that you are currently standing in. That is, if he was so inclined, which he would not be, such was his disposition.
The General had long ago taken an interest in the Professor’s work. “Fighting zombies was best left for the military, not some muddled professor and his collection of half human flunkies,” the General argued to those who would listen. But the Professor had friends that looked after him. As long as the Professor kept the zombies under control, he and his team had a job working for the government. But, if the zombie crises were to escalate, or his friends were to think otherwise, well then, General Stryker, and the ACME Corporation might just win the coveted zombie killing contract.
This morning, the General stood before the center screen watching the Professor lead his team into the mines and then lose the battle with the zombies. As the battle unfolded before him, every so often he would let out a low “huh” or a long “hmmm.” He had long advocated against the Professor for the very reasons he was now watching. Team F.I.S.T. was losing the battle to the zombies. They had been lured into a trap. In his professional military opinion, he was watching a train wreck unfold. “Professors should teach and leave the killing to us,” he pontificated loudly to his staff around who were trying to look busy.
The General reached into his pocket and pulled out a thick Cuban cigar and put it into his mouth. He loved his cigars; he smoked twenty of the foul, smoky things a day. If the General was not smoking his beloved cigars, then he was at chewing on them.
“Hmmm.” The General slowly moved the unlit cigar from one side of his mouth to the other. He could see the fighting for Team F.I.S.T. was not going well. In fact, it was obvious that Team F.I.S.T. was losing the zombie battle. These people were not soldiers. They simply played at being soldiers. Now that the team was surrounded and outnumbered, they would not last much longer under the current circumstances.
As the General stood watching the screens he witnessed an enormous white light emitting from within the mine. It was the explosion. His eyes went wide as the multitude of screens caught the explosion from many different angles. Rock was seen flying out the mine opening. Smoke was billowing from cracks in the mountain. The mountain itself seemed to shudder.
One of the junior analysts yelled out. “There’s been an explosion!” Of course it was obvious. A hush fell over the multitudes of analysts in ACME situation room. No one said a word for those few minutes as all eyes were focused on the screens ahead. With the exception of the whir of the computer fans cooling the massive computer banks, it was all quiet.
When Bruce staggered out of the mine opening carrying Connor and the others, the amassed experts, specialists and staff members let out a collective sigh of relief. Some even clapped with open enthusiasm. The ACME staff was pulling for Team F.I.S.T., no matter what animosity the General may have towards the Professor. However, their excitement was short lived. The ACME team could see another band of zombies emerging out of the nearby sinkhole.
One of the analysts, overly excited by the events unfolding yelled to the screen. “Behind you!” as if Connor and Bruce could actually hear him. Of course, they could not. But, the staff could see Connor and Bruce gather themselves for one more fight. Our two heroes were not beaten yet. There would be no surrender. No giving up quietly for these two.
Bruce balled up his fists and ran into the zombies swinging with those ham hock fists of his. Connor had grabbed a loose board and swung freely bashing at the zombies about him. Whenever the powerful troll landed a solid punch, knocking back a zombie for some distance, someone in the crowd would raise their hands in victory or punch the sky repeatedly. Bruce was quite the crowd favorite.
The whole staff of ACME had gathered to watch the battle unfolding. Elsewhere, for that brief moment in time, the evildoers of the world had a free pass. No drone strikes were launched, no threats against democracy were eliminated– evil, for this brief instant, had a reprieve. All eyes were on Connor and Bruce and their battle against the zombie hoard.
As the General watched the battle, twirling his thick cigar, occasionally mumbling something under his breath a young analyst came running up to him with good news. “Sir, we have a drone that could be on target in minutes. We could lend a hand in the battle.”
The General said nothing. He simply stared at the screen before him.
“Sir, we could have a drone on site within minutes to help the survivors,” the man repeated excitedly.
The General reached out his muscular arm. Across his bulging biceps the words “Men of Hate” were tattooed. The General grabbed the analyst by his collar, and pulled him in close, lifting him onto his toes. The unlit cigar was but inches from the young man’s face. The foul breath of the General caused the young man’s eyes to water.
The General leaned ever closer into the nervous young man and quietly whispered, “Go sit down and shut your pie hole.” The General then violently shoved the man backwards, and the analyst, off-balance stumbled into a wall of computers. Although shaken, the young man quickly recovered and left the room most hurriedly.
Connor and Bruce put up a good fight. But, they were surrounded and unarmed, and all hope seemed lost. The ACME crowd fell silent. No one was cheering. A sense of doom had descended on the crowd. The General just chuckled quietly. Damn fool Saint Graham. Damn fools all of them, he thought to himself.
The ACME spy satellites focused on Connor. He was scorched, bruised and battered. But, he was not beaten. The ACME team could see Connor put up his fist for one more round of fighting. The zombies had encircled the duo. The creatures were snarling, and snapping at our two heroes like wild animals. But Connor’s defiance was inspiring. The ACME analysts rose to their feet and cheered a deafening roar.
“Look!” one of the women analyst yelled. “Look, the little guy has a gun!” The ACME analyst could see the puff of smoke from Master Blaster’s firearm and a zombie go limp an instant later. The analysts cheered at the turn of events.
On the screen the crowd could see Master Blaster firing many more rounds, making sure each and every bullet found its zombie target. Connor tightened up his grasp on the timber and swung away striking a zombie with every swing. And, when Bruce balled up his fist and hit a zombie so hard, he knocked his head clean off the ACME crowd roared its approval.
The three zombie warriors were going to make it.
The General stood stoic and unmoved staring at the screens. He pulled out a match, struck it against the nearby wall, and lit his precious cigar. He puffed until the flame caught and the tobacco glowed red. The stink of the tobacco wafted over the room. Slowly, the General turned and walked back up the steps and over to his desk. He took a long puff on his cigar then reached down and picked up the red phone.
The red phone was a direct link to Madame President. It was a secure line, and no one else could listen in on what the President and the General spoke about. Protocol dictated that the President always called Stryker. The General never called the President– until this moment.
The phone rang three times, and then on the other end, a very serious and somber woman’s voice answered. “Hello.”
“Madame President, this is General Striker. We have located a zombie nest at the Centralia Mine Facility. It is the largest nest of zombies I have ever seen. If these zombies are left unchecked they pose a clear and immediate threat to the nearby population.” The General was speaking quietly; his hand covered his mouth so that the others could not hear him.
“What about Team F.I.S.T.?” Madame President asked. “I understood they were moving in to contain this situation.” Madame President had her intelligence sources.
“Madame President, Team F.I.S.T. has been compromised. They were lost in the battle with the zombies.” The General was only telling a half-truth, and when you tell a half-truth, you might as well be lying.
“What about Professor Saint Graham? Is the Professor okay?” Madame President asked her normally calm and reserved voice suddenly full of apprehension.
“Madame President, our intelligence indicates the Professor has died in the battle. However, the Professor and his team did lead us to this very significant zombie find. Our intelligence, coupled with what we have gleaned from Team F.I.S.T., indicates this zombie outbreak is imminent. I am recommending that we activate and use the Mother of All Bombs on this location. I can have a drone on location post haste.” The General took a long puff of his cigar. The red glow of the cigar’s lit end made for a bright torch in the dark room. The General slowly let the smoke out as he waited for Madame President’s response.
“Is there any risk to civilians General?” Madame President asked.
“No Madame President, the area is sterile; we will just be killing zombies. Lots and lots of zombies,” the General replied with pleasure. He liked the business of killing, regardless of who or what he was killing.
“General, you may proceed,” Madame President somberly advised. This was very disturbing news to her. She dearly liked the Professor and his homespun honesty. In the cutthroat world of Washington, the Professor represented someone with honesty and integrity, despite his being a bit odd and frumpy.
The General smiled and hung up the phone, took another long puff off his cigar, and picked up another phone and pushed a button. On the other end, a voice snapped to attention and smartly answered, “Yes General?”
“Load the Mother. When she is loaded and armed, call back and I will give you your coordinates.” The General hung up the phone, exhaled the blue smoke he had been holding in, twirled his cigar, and looked back at the movie screen.
“Damn fool that Professor,” he chortled. “Damn fool.”
Bosco was deep asleep when heard the alarms being sounded, wailing their high pitch alarms throughout the complex. The alarms meant only one thing, Team F.I.S.T. team was in danger.
So startled was Bosco when he awoke, that he fell over in his chair; the stack of reports on his chest fell to the ground in a scattered heap. Bosco clamored to his feet and took off running to the Command Center. In all his years of working with Team F.I.S.T. the alarms had never sounded. Now, he ran for the Command Center like he had never run before.
Bosco had no time for the elevators and bounded up the stairs two at a time. Beads of sweat broke out on Bosco’s forehead and his lungs screamed for him to stop running. He did not.
He pushed his body even harder, ignoring its cries to stop and take a breather. As Bosco turned one corner, he knocked over the newly hired janitor. Bosco, never a man for rudeness, helped the young man to his feet, apologized profusely in between breaths of fresh air, and then took off running again.
When Bosco burst into the Command Center, he found it in a state of chaos. All across the wall monitors, video was being streamed of the battle within the mines. The Command Center could see the team was fighting a great host of zombies, far more than had ever been fought before. Far more than had ever been expected to be in this location. The intelligence they had been given was bad. Or, had been altered.
It was as if the staff in the Command Center was watching a science fiction movie. Only this movie was for real. Their friends were fighting for their lives inside the dark mines. The muzzle flashes of their weapons providing an odd strobe light effect within the darkness. Master Blaster threw his explosives into the thickest of the zombies, sending them flying. For every zombie that fell, two more advanced. It was a movie going badly. Only, this movie was for real. And, those people fighting in the mine were their friends.
Bosco stared at the scene before him. “Oh no,” he murmured to himself. “Oh no.”
It was Bosco who shook off the awfulness of the situation first. “Backup!” he yelled out to the staff members. “Call for backup now!”
Bosco moved through the rank and file of the Command Center barking out orders to the other team members. “Call the CIA!” he yelled at the analyst who were glued to the screens. “Call the Army! Call the Air Force! Get your butt’s moving, our people need us!” He yelled at the top of his lungs.
The team snapped back to their senses and began diligently working the phones trying to find help for their companions in trouble.
Bosco turned back to the movie screens. “Most terrible, definitely a tight spot, an obvious trap,” he muttered under his breath as he stared at the horror unfolding before him. Professor Saint Graham and the team had walked into an ambush. It had to be Count Vlad and his minions at work.
One of the young staffers yelled out, “Bosco, the Army says they have no resources!”
Another staffer soon piped up. “Air Force is refusing to assist. They say it is not their jurisdiction!”
A third staffer offered more bad news. “The local sheriff is also refusing to assist. He wanted to know if this was a joke.”
Bosco furrowed his brow in anger and frustration. The other agencies were turning their back on Team F.I.S.T. in their time of need. Bosco always feared this would happen. There had always been jurisdictional squabbles before, but they had always worked through them in the past. Now, in their time of need, no one was there for them.
Bosco turned back to see what was happening just in time as each of the Command Center screens went white. It was the explosion within the mine.
“No!” one of the staffers yelled.
“What just happened?” another called out.
“There has been a major explosion inside the mine,” said an analyst who monitoring the data from several sensors designed to detect major explosions and disruptions. “This was not caused by Master Blaster, this is something else,”
Minutes later, as the camera feeds came back into focus the staff could see that Bruce, flames and smoke rising off his body, was running in and out of the mountain with some of the staff members. Team members were unconscious, or worse, dead. Bruce was the only one moving back and forth attempting to rescue those that he could from within the mountain.
“Please, please don’t let it end like this,” a staffer said quietly.
Someone had turned on the video feed for the entire complex to watch. All across the F.I.S.T. compound team members were gathered at the nearest television monitor watching the events unfold. All had stopped to watch the horror unfold.
Higgins had also been watching the events unfold from the Command Center. In his ethereal form, he had remained out of sight, but not out of touch with the events. Now, the Professor and Connor needed help. Higgins, who had promised the Professor he would attend to Master Connor, knew what he had to do. Higgins materialized before Bosco wearing his finest suit from another age, a round top derby hat, and with cane in hand, and made eye contact with Bosco. Higgins, did not need to say anything, he simply tilted his hat to motion he was leaving, and disappeared- Bosco understood and nodded back.
Bosco turned around and picked up the nearest phone. One ring later, a grief-stricken voice came across the line. “Garage here, Smitty speaking, how can I help you sir or ma ‘me?”
“Smitty, Bosco here. Are you up on the situation that he we are currently facing?
“I am Mr. Bosco. Been watching on the video,” Smitty replied.
“How fast can you have Zombie One ready to roll?” Bosco barked into the phone.
“Mr. Bosco, Zombie One is ready for action sir. I fired up the old girl when the alarms sounded. I am just waiting for you to give the word.”
Bosco looked back at the screen, paused, and then spoke. “Smitty, the word is given.”
Centralia Mine, Pennsylvania
The explosion within the mine had changed everything. The explosion had erupted with such force that it was as though the mountain had come alive and had turned its anger on the quarreling, fighting creatures scrambling about within its core. The explosion did not care who its victims were– zombies, humans, or anything else for that matter. It was death without prejudice.
But, for Professor Saint Graham, luck was with him that fateful moment when the blast would claim so many. When the explosion erupted, the force picked him up and hurtled him through the mine shaft. The explosion slammed our dear Professor against the mine wall with such great force he was left crumpled like yesterday’s dirty laundry in the corner, which, considering what would come next, was undoubtedly a good thing.
A great ball of flame engulfed the mineshaft seeking an exit for its ferocity. Our Professor, crumpled in the corner, avoided the worst of the flaming blast as it travelled down the shaft and engulfed the approaching zombies who were stumbling forward to reinforce their fellow zombies. Professor Saint Graham was slightly burned around the edges, his hair was definitely shorter and his eyebrows were all but gone. Fine steak houses would use the phrase- “seared, but still pink on the inside” to describe our Professor’s physical state at this moment.
But Professor Saint Graham, leader of team F.I.S.T., self-professed bookworm, keeper of secrets, and lover of food in all its glorious forms, had a duty to preform; he had to get his people to safety. With his clothes still smoldering, his hair charred, and a very unhealthy flash burn on the exposed parts of his skin, he scrambled to his feet.
The Professor could see the team members and zombies mixed into a jumble of writhing, screaming bodies; many were dead, some were dying, and some could still be saved. The Professor went about triaging the wounded, calling their names, checking their pulses. He could save some. But, but could not save them all.
Bruce, with his thick troll skull, was the quickest to recover from the explosion. And when he did, he found the Professor yelling in his face.
“Bruce get them outside!” he bellowed as he patted out the fires still burning on the great troll.
Bruce blinked his eyes. His ears were ringing. As despondently gazed about the mineshaft, he could see the carnage about him; Connor, Master Blaster, Isabella the Wolf, the other members of the team all had been thrown against the mine walls and were still unconscious. Black smoke was rising from the members who had been caught full on by the blast. The zombies, some still aflame, were mixed in alongside the team members and were writhing and screaming in pain as their bodies burned in the darkness.
“Bruce! Bruce! Get everyone outside,” the Professor repeated.
Bruce shook his head in an effort to clear the ringing from his ear and scrambled to his feet. The Professor handed the barely conscious Connor to Bruce who tucked his young friend under his arm like a piece of luggage. Bruce then saw Master Blaster nearby and grabbed hold of him with his free hand and stumbled outside of the mine carrying the two boys.
Once he had reached a safe distance from the mine, he dropped his two charges like sacks of potatoes, took in a deep breath of fresh air, turned around, and bounded back into the smoke filled mine to help the Professor. There was no time to be dallying, he had had to hurry, there were lives depending on him.
The Professor continued to scramble about trying to pull as many team members to the mine opening as he could. When he found Isabella and Tutyr crumbled against the wall, the damage to their wolf bodies shocked even him. The two had caught the fireball full on. Their fur was no match for the flames and simply caught fire, further scorching their bodies. The two were dying before him.
“No, no, no.” He murmured under his breath.
The Professor grabbed the two and dragged their limp bodies to the mine opening where Bruce would be sure to see them. Bruce, who did not like to share his emotions, was horrified at the damage to the two wolfs and even shed a tear at the sight of them. He gingerly picked up the duo and carried them to where he had placed Connor and gently laid them down.
As Bruce sprinted back to the aid of the Professor, the Professor would pass another person to Bruce. Bruce tried several times to bring out the Professor, but he who would not think of it.
“Get the team out,” he yelled to Bruce in a hoarse voice made raspy by the acidic black smoke he was inhaling.
As the Professor ran back inside, he noticed one of the newer members of team F.I.S.T. crumpled, but still alive, in a corner. The young man made eye contact with the Professor. Holding up his hand, he was crying out for help. The young man could not move on his own. His body was broken.
The Professor scrambled to the young man and scooped him up like a small child. “Hang in there son, hang in there.” The Professor only had to make the hundred feet to the exit. However, he had only taken two steps when the first crack of the loudest thunder he had ever heard erupted over him. It was soon followed by many more pops and cracks.
“Oh no,” he said looking up. The Professor feared things were going to get much worse. The many cracks and pops soon gave way a roar above him. The mountain was collapsing on the Professor. The mineshaft was caving in.
The Professor could see Bruce coming back to him. “Go back!” he yelled as loudly as his raspy voice would allow.
The Professor could have dropped the man and made a run for it, but he would not. The Professor had too much honor to even think of such nonsense. The team was his family. These were his children. The man he was carrying was his responsibility. He just had to make the next hundred feet or so, and they would both be safe.
“Professor, I’m scared.” the badly maimed man muttered to the Professor.
“So am I my boy, so am I,” He replied, gasping for air.
The Professor looked upwards and could see the fissures in the mine roof opening above him. The first rock fell just feet from him; it was then followed by hundreds more.
Great shards of black rock came crashing down all around the Professor. The falling rocks kicked up great volumes of black gritty dust that choked and blinded him. The sound of the rocks falling was deafening. As the biggest rocks hit the mine floor the impacts caused the Professor to stumble from the tremors.
If the wounded man said anything else, the Professor could not hear it. As it was, he could barely stand on his two feet. He stumbled forward under the weight he was carrying and the trembling ground.
Just ahead, the sunlight was beaming in through the kicked up dense coal dust illuminating the mine’s opening. The light was a beacon to safety.
Just a few more feet, the Professor told himself, just a few more feet.
Eric J. Wynn encourages you to connect with him on the Chronicles of Connor: Zombie Rising Facebook page.