First the boilerplate I include with every Newsletter--you know the part about where you and your friends can get my books.
The Dying Time: Impact is now (FINALLY) available in a 6" x 9" Paperback via CreateSpace
After The Dying Time (Book Two in the Trilogy) is also available
Thanks to you and my other readers both books are getting great five star reviews
Well, readers, I spent so much time writing on Book 3 of the Dying Time series I didn't get After The Dying Time out in paperback this month. I'll have to prioritize that for June.
My friend Duane Lindsay's, Private Eye thriller "Missing Amanda" is officially out tomorrow and available for order. I'm hoping you all will give him a chance to win you as readers. I know, it isn't apocalyptic, but it is one terrifically fun read with memorable characters, sparkling dialogue, unique action scenes and humor, lots of humor.
The Title is "Missing Amanda" and here's a link and the cover to it.
My next book, "TAP DOUBT: Your Next Drink of Water Could Kill You" will be available for pre-order on July 1. It's a terrorist thriller and the first book in my War Corps series--all of which, as always, are stand alone novels.
Terrorists are poisoning America's water supplies using an Environmental Cleanup company as a cover. When ousted CEO Nick Kuiper hires a beautiful con artist and her legendary grifter father to get his company back they tumble to the plot and all hell breaks loose. Here's the cover.
And now, here's chapter 1 of Tap Doubt
Moscow Institute of Chemical Studies
Maria Elena Zelanskaya swallowed bile as she stood before the five men seated in the cramped laboratory. Her heart raced like a thoroughbred in the homestretch as she watched them eyeing her, each a picture of boredom, interest, patience or doubt. That they were all large men and she barely reached 5’ 2 made her hands shake. That they were powerful members of the committee and soldiers had her near tears of self-doubt and worry.
They could make her career if they liked her presentation.
“Gentlemen,” she said, almost stumbling on the word. Nothing about these five conveyed gentleness or warmth or any kind of human feeling. They were killers, all of them, trained in the fields of Afghanistan, veterans of campaigns too horrible for a chemistry student like her to comprehend. They were timber wolves roaming the frozen steppes and she was a lone hare trapped between them, offering them a tempting meal.
Maria Elena couldn’t feel more naked and exposed if she was one of the cheap slut dancing girls on display at the Western-style strip clubs that now flourished in Moscow—the result of the East/West clash insuring the worst of both cultures.
She breathed deeply to calm herself and said, “There is a man in America named Nicholas Kuiper who owns a company called EnviroTech. This company is designed for one purpose, to clean up the most heavily polluted chemical waste sites in their country.”
Several of them stirred at this idea, shaking their heads or rubbing thick calloused hands through full beards in amazement at the concept. Mother Russia was still hiding its own poisonous wastes, burying them like they did at Chernobyl, covering up like a cat in a sand box.
She rushed on. “This company has forty-three highly contaminated sites under contract with the American government in a project they call the Superfund.” She stumbled a bit on the uniquely western word, having no equivalent in Russian. “They devise methods for how to turn their dangerous waste into safe, pure water.”
“So?” Ivan Petrovsky, a hard fat man in a gray coat and beaver hat, made his displeasure known—his body language clearly stating his desire to be somewhere else. “What does this misguided foolishness have to do with us?”
“Let me explain. No, let me show you.” Maria stepped behind a laboratory table and pointed at a large glass bowl filled with a yellow-green liquid. “This compound is the exact equivalent, in chemical composition, to a small lake in Pennsylvania, that EnviroTech is charged with cleaning up.”
Two men sat straighter in the student chairs, making them creak a sound like someone dying, far away, in anguish. Maria Elena rushed on, trying to shake the image from her brain. If they decided she was wasting their time, she might be the next poor soul to make that sound.
She picked up a beaker filled with a sickly rust-colored liquid, the shade of a long abandoned Zil. “And this is a formula I tailored to blend specifically with the chemicals in that lake.”
She paused. There was so much at stake. Her status as a student was in jeopardy due to the latest round of purges and decreasing funding of the university. She had to make them see.
A voice spoke up and she saw Alexander Krakov, a red-bearded bear of a man sitting at ease in the too-small chair, his expression guarded. “How do you know the American chemistry?”
“I…um…I asked for it. The Americans…I asked…”
“You asked for it? What are you saying? Who did you ask?” Expressions turned hard against her and Maria Elena felt like crying in fear and frustration.
“I sent a letter to a friend in America.” An exchange student named Ron Driekman she had met last summer when he was a tourist. A science student—his major was particle physics—they shared a love for the classroom and had written several times to each other, long letters from worlds so far apart.
“My friend asked the American government about the chemical composition and they gave it to him…”
Loud grumbling and sounds of disbelief flowed toward her. “They gave it to him? What nonsense is this?” Oleg Mekelovsky, a skeletal old man with a reputation that made the others fade into insignificance—some say that he once worked directly for Stalin himself when he was young and hungry—snorted. The idea that someone could ask a government for anything and the government would simply hand over the information was so foreign to Russian experience that it sounded like a fairy tale. His derision made her hear that death-shriek again.
But Alexander waved a paw of a hand, quieting them before they got too far out of control. “I want to hear this.”
Maria Elena, grateful for his interest, played the rest of her presentation directly to Alexander, ignoring the crude remarks and guttural barking of the others. Animals, she thought. But such dangerous animals. They reminded her of the massive sea lions in the frozen north.
She said, “Perhaps you should put on the masks in front of you.” Each man had a brightly colored plastic respirator. Gold, purple, red and blue, with green filters on the side, she had gotten them from her professor before staging this meeting.
Holding the beaker clumsily in one hand she picked up a small cage with the other. In it several white mice raced back and forth, whiskers twitching, noses testing the air, sensing danger. She held the cage over the bowl for a full minute before setting it back on the table.
“You see? The chemicals, which the Americans think are so deadly, are only a problem if they make direct contact with the skin. They cannot harm you through the air. However…”
Gesturing like a Gypsy magician she held up the beaker for display. She could see their attention focus as she tipped the rusty brown liquid, letting it pour slowly into the bowl. The colors merged, swirled together in unholy patterns that reminded her of the cancerous cells she’d been forced to study in biology. Sick cells all of them, twisted and foul.
She set down the empty beaker and grasped a long-handled spatula, using it to stir the mixture. With one hand she held a respirator to her own face. Then she picked up the cage and again held it above the bowl.
This time the result amazed them. The mice began to thrash around in a frenzy, clawing at the cage in a desperate attempt to escape. Then they slowed, twitched and their bodies curled as the poison they were breathing overwhelmed their lungs. In seconds all of them were dead. Ventilation fans kicked in and removed the remaining gas.
She had the men’s attention now. All of them sat upright, wide-eyed and incredulous.
“A chemical weapon?” asked Oleg, her harshest critic. “You have made a chemical weapon?”
“I have done much more than that,” said Maria Elena, her voice firm now that they’d seen her proof, her eyes glowing with triumph. “I have created forty-three chemical weapons.”
“Explain, please.” This from an intent Alexander Krakov.
“Instead of this small bowl full,” she gestured, “each EnviroTech site contains millions of gallons of waste.
“Imagine,” she told the group of feral men facing her, “What would happen if we captured those pumps that are cleaning these places and pumped in our own chemicals to convert each site into a small factory of death?”
An uproar. Four voices each trying to out-bellow the others. A cacophony of discord and dissent struggling for dominance, all directed at the idea that Maria Elena had proposed.
“Madness!” cried one. “How could it work?” demanded another. Then, “Foolishness,” and “Insane,” and “The Americans would never allow us near these places. How would we deliver the poisons? It isn’t possible.”
Finally, the verdict. “Belongs in an asylum,” said Oleg, followed by angry glares as four men gathered themselves and clumped from the room.
Maria Elena felt her shaky scholarship crumble and die, just like the dead lumps of mice lying in the cage. Her eyes stung with tears of failure but when she wiped them away she was surprised to see one man remaining.
Alexander Krakov sat watching her. On his face was an expression Maria Elena could only describe as wonder.
I hope you enjoyed chapter 1 of Tap Doubt. And now, as a further treat I'm including Chapter 1 of my friend Duane Lindsay's book Missing Amanda
August 19, 1958 – Chicago
“Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go…”
Paul E. Smalls, in a two-room flat near Bryn Mawr, frantically stuffed clothes into a battered leather grip. His tan cotton pants were dirty, the white wife-beater tee stained and his brown shoes were scuffed.
Everything else went into the case or onto the floor.
He paused at a picture of his sister, tossed it in the bag, scanned the room and decided enough was enough. He threw on a shirt, tails out and unbuttoned and slapped a fedora on his head, closed the bag and ran for the door.
The mob, he thought as he dashed down the stairs two at a time. Jesus Christ, being chased by the fucking mob. A choked sound came from his throat as he careened from the wall, off balance, and legged it down the last flight at the back of the building. He looked both ways and dashed for the black Ford Fairlane convertible across the alley.
He almost made it. The case was in the back seat, his keys in his hand and his mind already on the road when something heavy hit him between the shoulder blades. He went down like a wet sack of cement, his back screaming in agony.
Feet came into view, black tie-ons, argyle socks, brown cuffs above them. Paul E. cringed and tried to scuttle backwards, crablike but hands lifted him not gently, to his feet.
Paul E. felt the harsh acid of rising bile. So close, the thought, so goddam close. If only he’d rabbited sooner.
The guy shook him, making Paul E’s head roll around. From nearly closed lids Paul E. saw the goons’ hard expression and knew there’d be no mercy here, no sympathy. The ox was low grade muscle, paid to beat people and bring them to his masters.
The mob. Fear like he’d never known went through his gut. The ox worked for Cermak. Guzman Cermak – Cermak the Surgeon. Stories of Sadism and torture attributed to the crime boss were legendary and if even half were true, Paul E. was in for a world of hurt.
Cermak. They say he carried a scalpel in his lapel pocket…
The ox shook him again and Paul E. pretended to be out, thinking of what he could do. He could scream but who’d listen? He could fight but why bother? It would be like hitting the brick wall behind him.
But…Ox didn’t have a gun, or didn’t have it out, which was the same thing, In Paul E.s world, if you don’t pull a gun you didn’t intend to use one. So that was one good thing. And here was another: the guy was alone.
Probably didn’t expect trouble from a private dick with a camera, Paul E. thought. Good. There might be a chance after all. He willed himself to stop shaking.
He groaned again, theatrically, making it sound worse than it felt. His right shoulder where the ox had hit him was numb and useless, maybe broken, but his left felt okay If he did this right he might live to see Wisconsin.
He waved a hand feebly – no acting there – as if to ward off the goon.
He heard a laugh like the braying of a not particularly bright mule, but the vicelike grip on his arm lessoned. Paul E. slumped against the Fairlane, across the open window and slid down as if falling inside. His left hand scrabbled for the gun…
Ox said, “Hey! Get up,” like a junk yard dog who could talk. He grabbed Paul E. by the shirt and yanked, expecting dead weight. The unbuttoned shirt ripped off. Paul E. came up fast and the goon overcompensated. Paul E. swatted at the horn in the center of the steering wheel and the Ford made a loud blatting noise, further startling the goon. Paul E. spun around with a silver .22 and pointed it straight into the guy’s startled face.
The ox stepped back suddenly, like he’d been stung by a bee, the alley exploded with sound and a bullet shattered the Ford’s side mirror. There was another one, thought Paul E. as he ducked.
Paul E. reacted with the Army training from the war not that many years ago. He pulled the trigger twice and the little .22 cracked wise in the alley. The ox went down bellowing in pain and Paul E. swiveled left and dropped to his knees, feeling a bullet flash over his head even as he heard the blast.
Five more time he fired his pistol, emptying it. A shadow teetered over a garbage can and fell into a shallow puddle of muck. Just like at the target range Paul E. thought, blessing his foresight in keeping up with his training. What would a private dick be without it?
Dead, that’s what, and not pleasantly. He tossed the now empty gun into the back with the valise, opened the door and cursed. He couldn’t just leave the dead guys, not with his apartment just across the alley and himself about to vanish. The cops would put that together like lightning and the search would be on.
No, gotta do something else. With his left arm useless the chore would be difficult but not impossible he pushed and pulled and dragged the nearest thug to the car, thanking Ford for the size of the trunk. He fit neatly, just above the spare.
Paul E. went to the other guy – ox – and was surprised to see him still breathing. Well, not for long. Paul E. went back to the trunk, took the gun off the body, a nice silver plated .38, went back and shot ox twice in the chest. The gun jumped in his hand and Paul E. flinched at the sound.
Farther away, ox took a bit more effort to drag to the car but soon he was slouched in the back seat like he was sleeping off a drunk. Paul E. pulled the ragtop into place, lugged it down with some difficulty, rolled up the window and got in. he drove carefully down the alley, made a left on 54th and hightailed it to the safety of Baraboo.
Hey Rube, he thought. I’m coming.
Lou Fleener was admiring the White Sox coverage in the Tribune when a shadow darkened the frosted glass of his office window. The Sox were in second place, the Cubs in third. Louis Aparicio was hotter than the August weather. Was there a God? Could it happen?
“It’s open” Lou called to the shave-and-a-haircut rapping at the door. He set down the paper and watched with interest as a big guy in a new Poplin suit pushed the door and shoved it closed with his hip. He shuffled across the dusty green and white checkered linoleum and sat in the guest chair. If an elephant wore summer wright cotton, it would look like this guy. The chair creaked.
“What it says on the door.” ‘Lou Fleener – Private Eye –’ backwards in gold letters, painted on by a cousin of Monk’s.
“Smart guy,” said the suit.
“Lou shrugged modestly. “It’s true.” He put his feet on the scuffed wooden desk and leaned back. “What can I do for you?
“Word on the street is you’re good.”
The guy cocked a jaw and bit his lip. His hair was cut short like a Marine, flat on top and razored on the sides. He didn’t look like a customer, but what does a customer look like? There had been so few lately that Lou lacked perspective.
The suit fidgeted, took a pack of Lucky’s from an inside pocket and lit one from a gold Zippo. Lou pulled an ashtray from the drawer and slid it across the desk, a thick chunky glass souvenir from the Palmer Hotel. The bottom said ‘A handy place to stay,’ in red ink under a pair of black dice. Classy.
Lou studied the visitor for a moment as the smoke filled the small room. Nice suit, good cut, one of those new polyester fabrics, it covered the muscles as if tailored and concealed the gun under the left armpit. The guy was a blond with the features of a body builder gone soft. “Hey,” he said. “I know you!”
“No, you don’t.”
"Yeah. Yeah I do.” Lou snapped his fingers. “Wait a minute, it’ll come to me.”
“It doesn’t matter who I am. I’ve been sent –”
“Got it! You’re Milt Stiltmeyer.” Lou slapped the desk in delight. “I’m right, right? Milt the Stilt?” Lou sounded like a fan at Comisky meeting Minnie Minoso. In a moment he’d be asking for an autograph.
The guy made hands down motions, like quieting down a rowdy dog. “It don’t matter who I am,” he said. “I’m here to bring you to –”
But Lou wasn’t balked. “I know I’m right. Millie the Killer they call you. ‘Cause you killed that guy, what was his name? Stubbs, right, while you were wearing a dress.
Milt looked pained.
“Sure,” Lou said, “I know all about you.”
Now Milt looked concerned. “How?”
“I read about you. In the Trib. I got a scrapbook,”
“The hell you mean, a scrapbook? You got a scrapbook of thugs?”
“Sure.” Lou didn’t mention that it was Monk’s idea and that he’d been against it.
Monk said, “If you’re going to do this – be a private eye – then the least you can do is be prepared. You’ve got to study, know your enemies.”
Monk talked like that, like he graduated from Loyola or someplace. “It could save your life.” Then he’d gone off to his used book store down on Clark street and came back with this huge pile old musty newspapers and made Lou go through them every Thursday night. The company had been good, the beers cold and Lou had gotten into it, learning the names and nicknames and habits of the current Chicago mob scene.
And now, here was one of them – in person! Lou could hardly contain his glee.
“Bummer of a name, man,” he told Milt with real sympathy, meaning it. “Other guys have cool names like Sammy ‘the icepick’ or Bugsy Siegel or ‘Scarface’ Al. But you got saddled with ‘Millie.’” Lou shook his head at the unfairness of the world.
“Coffee?” he asked.
“The name’s not important” Milt said through clenched teeth, like he’d been explaining this most of his life, which he probably had. “I’m here to take you to see –”
“Duke Braddock,” Lou finished for him. “You’re muscle for Duke Braddock.”
Milt looked uncomfortable with that, pursing his lips around the cigarette and puffing like a ‘53 Buick Roadmaster. He started through the growing haze until Lou thought he’d maybe quietly choked to death. But, “Okay,” he said. “I work for Duke Braddock. You heard of him?”
“Course,” said Lou. He sat up straight and his office chair creaked. “Who hasn’t?”
Even without Monk’s research Lou would have heard about Braddock. Bookie, prostitutes, marijuana, some said Coke and the big H – heroin. If it was illegal or killed you it was probably connected to Braddock.
“The mob guy,” he said simply.
“The businessman,” corrected Milt.
“The businessman then,” Lou agreed, smiling. No way, he decided, was he going to take this case. Duke Braddock was a major player. People who slept with Duke Braddock tended to wake up dead.
Lou wasn’t afraid – hadn’t been for years, since those long months slogging though the Pacific theater – but still. “What’s a guy like Duke want with –”
“A two-bit gumshoe?” Milt grinned like he’d been waiting for the line.
“A private investigator,” Lou said with Dignity. His practice was small – just him – and the office wasn’t in the best part of town, and the El did rattle the windows twice an hour, but it was approved by the State of Illinois. Said so right on the license.
The mentioned El chose that moment to rumble by the window, shaking the glass and making conversation impossible. The tracks were second story, just like the office. It kept the rent reasonable and there weren’t that many paying customers anyway.
Mocking, the guy kept talking. Lou could see his lips move. Ha-ha, cute joke. Lou upgraded his opinion of the guy from hired muscle to idiot. No way would he take this case, whatever it was.
When the train noise had faded to a muted rumbling he said, “Whadaya want?”
“The boss wants to see you?
Lou had maybe seven minutes before the next train so he rushed it. “No,”
“You haven’t heard what he wants.”
“Don’t need to. If Braddock’s involved, it’s dirty.”
Milt actually looked offended. A cheap thug in a turtleneck – in this August heat; how was that possible? – offended for a boss who killed people. Honor among thieves, Lou supposed.
Milt stared around the office; a short trip it was true – you could just about touch both walls if you stretched. “A punk like you,” he said. “Turning down Duke Braddock?”
“Amazing, isn’t it?”
Milt shook his head like he was clearing gnats. “A small time, no account piece of shit like you?”
Go figure,” agreed Lou. He was actually enjoying this. Few enough people came here, an actual gangland celebrity was a treat. Since opening the office two years back Lou hadn’t met anyone more dangerous than the bartender at Billie Goat’s, steamed about the bar bill.
Milt stood up, stretched, his fingers brushing the ceiling. “You gotta come with me.”
Standing he was bigger than he looked sitting, filling out the suit like a stuffed sausage. Worse, he balanced lightly on his feet and turned sideways like a fighter. A pro for sure.
Lou’s smile became a grin. This was getting better and better.
“Get up.” Milt motioned with the front fingers of his left hand. His right hand was resting on the edge of the desk.
Lou stood. He exhaled through his lips, blowing out all the air, sagging as if resigned and Milt relaxed, seeing the expected obedience.
Lou said, “Sorry,” picked up the ashtray and slammed it down on Milt’s fingers. Cigarette butts flew across the room in a spray of spark and ash.
The glass broke, Milt howled and automatically stuck his injured paw toward his mouth, Lou grabbed the wrist and pushed along with it, the motion making Milt bend back to avoid slapping himself in the face.
Once Milt was off balance Lou shoved him – hard – in the middle of that broad chest and kept pushing. Milt fell back, hit the door head first and the frosted glass shattered, the lettering gone with the wind. Monk was not going to be pleased, Lou thought, especially since his cousin hadn’t been paid yet.
Milt hung there, half supported by the remains of the door, then shrugged himself up and out. He brushed glass from his coat and glared.
“Tough guy,” he said.
“Yeah,” Lou agreed, He took a gun from the desk drawer and pointed it.
“Okay,” Milt said. “Okay, you’re a tough guy. Maybe that’s why the boss wants to see you.”
He stretched his shoulders around in a small circle and twisted his neck. Muscles bulged and bones cracked loudly. The heat came in through the open window and shimmered between them. The air hung heavy and expectant as if waiting.
“I’ll send Braddock a bill for the door,” Lou said finally.
Milt laughed, a short bark. “You do that.” He pulled open the door and walked out, heavy shoes crunching on glass shards. He turned back, framed in the space where the window used to be.
“I’ll be back, tough guy. Depend on it. I’ll be back.”
“Great meeting you,” Lou said. Come back any time.”
Duke Braddock, he thought. Hot damn.
Later, Mickey said, “Duke Braddock?”
Mickey Jablonski was a stoolie, a paid informer who’d sell his dog to a butcher for pork chops. He was short and skinny and walked with a limp from a meeting with a very dissatisfied customer. The guy had actually tried to chew through Mickey’s leg. Took three of Chicago’s finest to pull him off and cuff him. Of course, the cops hadn’t been in all that much of a hurry – nobody cared much for Mickey.
“Braddock,” agreed Lou. They were eating a late lunch at a corner booth at the Billy Goat Tavern at lower Michigan by the river. The Billy Goat’s was a newspaperman’s hangout and a bunch or reporters from the Trib were making noise at the bar. The place was old time, with dark wood crown moldings somewhere up there in the haze. If it weren’t for political connections, the place would have been closed down years before it ever opened.
Mickey scratched a kitchen match on the scarred table and fired up a cigar, Acrid blue smoke surrounded him and he looked like an acned Satan until he coughed and ruined the image.
“Still getting those expensive imported cigars?” Lou laughed.
“Screw you, Fleener. These cost two bits for ten.”
“Two bits. Big spender.”
But Mickey seemed more interested in another subject. “Braddock, man. I don’t know. He’s about as big as this town gets anymore.”
“I know. He’s very hot stuff.” Lou read the papers: Duke Braddock arrested for drugs, for prosties, for arson, assault. Probably murder and bad breath. But he’d walked away on every count every time, the result of great attorneys or big money. Or both.
“He lives in Evanston?” Lou asked. Where the old money hangs out?”
Mickey laughed. “Sure. He’s gone uptown for sure.”
Lou thought about old money and new money. He didn’t have either but he picked up the tab for the beers with the last two singles in his wallet, still wondering what Duke Braddock could want with him.
Like it? Remember, if you go to Amazon, the title is Missing Amanda by Duane Lindsay.
If you feel like doing me a big favor, please go to Goodreads or Library Thing or your favorite reading/book website and leave a review. Then drop me an email and let's get caught up.
Here once again are some links to other good apocalyptic writer's Amazon Author Pages where you can check out all of their books. As you will see all of these authors are prolific and well respected.
, author of the Stone Age series and other really cool books has an new one out titled "Highways: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale of Survival." His books get great reviews on Amazon.
Jay J. Falconer
is the author of the American Prepper series, the Narrows of Time series and others. His books "Redfall: Fight for Survival" and "Redfall: Freedom Fighters" are getting terrific reviews on Amazon. His Redfall book is on sale this week for only 99 cents. The cover shown below is Linkage, book one in his Narrows of Time series.
William H. Weber
is the author of "Last Stand: Surviving America's Collapse" book one in the excellent Last Stand series and numerous others of interest. The cover shown below is to Defiance, the first book in his new Defending Home series. Again, great reviews on Amazon.
, is the author of the Portal Wars, Far Stars, and Crimson Worlds series, as well as several others. Like all the authors listed here, he gets great reviews on Amazon.
Marcus Battle, aka Tom Abrahams, has written more than a dozen great books including Home: a Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian Adventure (Book 1 in The Traveler Series).
I'm getting in touch with Mailchimp, my newsletter distributor to learn how to offer free ebooks for those of you who have signed up for my newsletter. Other authors have done this and I keep failing to get it done. Mea Culpa.
As always I invite you to contact me. I love hearing from you. To that end I've added my email address, website address and Pinterest site address to the contact information at the very end of this Newsletter.