February 2007 Archives

Montana MacInnes and the Reunion of Doom

Chapter 2: Meet Montana MacInnes

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Dr. Lowell Schneider was the town mayor. For several years, he had taught English at the local high school. Eventually, he moved out of his mother's house and went back to school to earn his PhD. He was away for several years, but he could not stay away. He returned, and ran for mayor.

As the new mayor, he was authorized to do anything to take care of the developing problem. He arranged to bring Montana MacInnes into the town's confidence. He sat anxiously at his desk waiting, when a knock came at the door. He got up, and answered it.

"Come in Mr. MacInnes," said Dr. Lowell Schneider. "We haven't got much time."

"Thanks," replied the six foot four inch Zombie expert as he scanned the room. He dropped his large satchel and took off his hat that covered his long thick wavy hair. His hardened face looked beyond his years, but he was clean-shaven. He could not grow a beard even if he wanted.

"I heard about your adventures in the woods of the northwest," began Dr. Schneider as he took his seat behind his desk.

"Thanks," Montana replied shifting his weight back and forth.

"Terrible business that 'Dead Earth' thing."

"Yep," the still uneasy Montana replied. He removed his long black leather duster and placed it over a chair.

"It has earned you quite the reputation."

"Yep," he replied as he began pacing back and forth.

"Please, make yourself at home," continued Dr. Schneider. "Can I get you anything?"

"Nope."

"I would like to hear more about your time in the mountains near Seattle. Is there anything that you can add to the stories I have heard?"

"Nope."

"Two Thousand undead. That is how the story goes."

"Yep."

"Our problem is not nearly as bad," assured the doctor.

"Yet," responded Montana.

Halberd

"2000 with a homemade halberd -- that is quite impressive. Please -- take a seat," the mayor said motioning towards one of the available chairs.

"Listen Mr...."

"Doctor," interrupted Dr. Schneider.

"Listen Dr. Schneider, the longer we waste time telling pretty stories, the more this could get out of hand. So, could we get on with it?"

"Of course -- we do have the area quarantined. No one goes in or out without my approval. Thus, it cannot get terribly out of hand."

"K"

"It is actually kind of funny how it started."

"Well?"

"A brother and sister wanted to have their dead cat back. They checked a book out of the library, made a potion, read an incantation, and there cat rose out of the ground."

"Kids!"

"Well, actually the boy will turn 26 on April 1st. She's 23."

"Still..."

"The cat was revived but so were several others in the cemetery."

"Take me there. I will need to see the book, and I want to examine the potion."

"Fortunately, they ran off and left everything on a grave marker. Those items are still there."

Montana grabbed his coat and gear and Dr. Schneider escorted him to the doctor's 1976, Sea Island Green, Mercury Cougar XR7, two-door sport coupe. Montana put his stuff in the back seat and sat in the passenger seat as the mayor got behind the wheel.

"Nice car," remarked Montana.

"She's a classic," replied Dr. Schneider as the two men began making their way to the cemetery.

It was a short drive and Montana was silent the entire way. He scanned the streets for movement. Dr. Schneider had tried to start a conversation, but Montana shushed him. He wanted to have an estimate of what he was up against, and the conversation would distract him.

The two men arrived at the cemetery and Dr. Schneider parked the car in the nearby lot. They walked the short distance to where the brother and sister had drawn a pentagram on the ground. In the center, they had placed a small pot on some twigs and made a small fire. Montana lifted the pot and gave it a sniff.

"They forgot the garlic," observed Montana.

"Oh?"

"I wonder what side effect that will have..."

"Here is the book they used."

"Your local library has books bound in human skin?"

"It was in our rare books section. They were not supposed to be able to take it out of the library."

"Well, a little 'Klaatu barata nikto' and you have yourself a problem."

"You didn't just raise more dead did you?" the nervous mayor said as he looked around.

"Don't worry, those words don't mean anything. I heard them in a movie once..."

"I guess I am just a little on edge... You can see the disturbed graves around you."

"Thirteen."

"Thirteen?"

"The spell made 13 people rise from the grave -- not counting the cat. Now, tell me when and how this incident was reported."

"Across the street from the cemetery is the high school. The night janitor, Robert DeFonzio, was cleaning up the school kitchen when a former lunch-lady walked into the school cafeteria. She began making meatloaf, creamed corn, and garlic bread lunches. Mrs. Doris Phipps had died 2 years ago. She hissed at him when he tried to stop her. He ran and called the police. That was about 12:15am."

"Was he bitten?"

"No, but we got several reports of the recently deceased entering homes and doing common activities."

"Doris did her usual routine as if she had just gotten out of bed. That is what she would have done when she was alive. That is typical."

"But the results were awful. The meatloaf was inedible. Well -- less edible than what she used to make."

"She doesn't have any higher order functions. But it is strange that she wouldn't reflexively use the same recipe..."

"Similar stories from all across town. Inedible pies, cookies, etc."

"Probably the garlic..."

"Pardon?"

"Nothing. Go on..."

"The town has been completely sealed off?"

"Except for the brief window to let you in. Hopefully, no one else entered the town at nearly the same time."

The zombie hunter groaned and shook his head.

"But we did not let anyone out during that time without checking," assured Dr. Schneider.

"How do you want to proceed?"

"What do you mean?"

"We have two options. Kill the spell casters. This breaks the spell, and the 13 -- plus the cat -- fall where they stand. Problem solved -- except for the auxiliary bite victims. They will have to be cleaned up manually."

"Uhhhhhh -- and the second option?"

"Take care of the 13 and the others manually," sighed the zombie expert.

"We'll take that one!"

"They always take the hard way," Montana muttered to himself. "Do you realize that that option requires a house to house search? It could take a long time and be very expensive."

"You have my choice," assured the mayor.

Reluctantly, Montana agreed to the terms and the two men returned to the classic automobile. He grabbed his bag out of the back seat of the car, and placed it on the hood. He opened up the bag to ready himself for the fight ahead. He took off his shirt revealing his bulging muscles.

Dr. Schneider noticed a few of the scars on the zombie hunter's body. After watching the man for a few seconds, he felt a bit self-conscious as the muscular man continued to get ready.

Montana grabbed a long sleeve t-shirt and covered his nudity. Over the shirt, he put on some padding to protect his elbows, biceps, and forearms. They looked like ordinary rollerblading pads. Once those pads were securely fastened, he struggled to put on a flack vest.

"Superstition," Montana said.

"What?" enquired Dr. Schneider, who was momentarily lost in thought.

"I put the vest on after the arm pads because of a silly superstition. I got the vest after the pads. Thus, I put it on second even though it would be much easier to put on the vest first."

"Oh!" replied Dr. Schneider as if he was barely listening.

The zombie fighter left his jeans and his stained boots on. He strapped on some padded chaps over his jeans. Finally, he pulled out the head of his halberd.

"Did you bring the pole?" enquired Montana.

"It is in the trunk," replied the mayor.

The mayor opened the trunk and pulled out a seven-foot wooden pole.

"It is impossible to fly with a long pole. I'm impressed that it fit so easily in that trunk!"

"She's a classic!" replied Dr. Schneider. "Did you need a butt-cap for your ash-pole?"

"Nope," replied the zombie hunter as he attached the head of his halberd onto the long pole. "Let us kick some zombie decaying butt!"

"Let us ... ?" asked the nervous former English teacher.

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The Haunted Mines of Krator

Part 4

By Dwayne MacInnes

I listened to the two humans speak to each other for a good ten minutes. I learned that there were about five or six of them and that they all used to be miners except for the hedge-wizard they hired. The leader, as usual, had his dwelling furthest in the mine.

It does not matter on the species or race, but one thing always stands out. The leader is always furthest from the opening in any dungeon. How I would just love one day to sneak into a dungeon see the leader of the group taking a snooze on the doorstep. I could kill or subdue him collect my reward and leave town. Most bands of ne'er-do-wells tend to breakup after their leader is out of the action. Very few actually vow revenge and try to hunt down the do-wells who had taken care of their leader.

However, I digress. It also turns out that this little party of miners had used the tragedy of the mine collapse as a means for smuggling out silver that they were still mining. The best way to ensure that no one would bother them was for the mines to become haunted. The fence, to whom the miners smuggled their loot, was one of the townsfolk. In fact, he was a former miner by the name of Gunter.

The small party had hired a hedge-wizard from another town to help conjure up, literally, the ghosts and ghouls the other miners saw. The poor legionnaires who were to investigate the haunting fell victim to the traps that lay scattered about the mine. The miners were so kind as to dispose of the legionnaires bodies by tossing them into a deep chasm.

A funny thing about the Mages Guild is that they do not tend to care about the evil schemes in which their members may partake. Their only rule is that members cannot kill one another. Say what you will about the Thieves Guild, but at least there are strict rules for its members. The first is never to kill anyone you are robbing unless it is in self-defense. Another is -- it is strictly forbidden for members rob the poor or other guild members. In fact, it is highly recommended that members help the poor, after all the paupers and beggars are the best informants around. Now you know why I prefer the title 'wealth adjuster' to thief.

I knew that I had gained all the information I was going to get when the two sentinels started to talk about arena bouts. One of the louts even had the audacity to say that my tactics in the arena were not fair and that if he were in the pits he would know how to put an end to me. The second came to my defense, so I killed him first with a clean shot from the shadows.

The first human rose up from the table when his friend slumped forward with an arrow in his back. At first, he just stared in surprise. It took a couple of seconds for it to register that there was a trespasser on the premises.

I had plenty of time to kill off this man, but I stayed my hand. It was a matter of pride. For this human to state that my tactics were unfair really riled me. Did I not go up against adversaries who were not only better armed and armored than me, but also two to three times my strength?

Many would consider the following very poor judgment and I would agree. Except that, I had already spied out the terrain and laid out my plan. This was not just some revenge for an insult. No, I did plan to let this man attempt to prove his point.

I stepped out from the shadows. The human now had his sword drawn and was rushing to meet me. I waited for his advance and at the last second, as his blade swung towards me, I simply sidestepped and kicked the man behind the knee. The huge lug toppled as his leg gave out -- leaving him sprawled out on the floor. Further, his sword went sliding away across the rough floor.

I simply smiled at the man as he regained his feet and then I did a back flip onto a tall rock outcrop. The man's eyes nearly popped out of his skull as realization struck.

"Y-you're the Black Arrow!" he exclaimed in disbelief. I smiled and nodded.

The man recovered his sword. I was now waiting for him to recover his nerve. I also kept a close eye on him just in case he wanted to cry out an alarm. Before he could draw in a deep breath for a yell, I would have an arrow through his throat.

The man must have realized this and composed himself. He screwed himself up for the fight and a mask of rage broke out upon his face.

"Okay," he said silently as he waved for me to come down. "Let's finish this."

I watched the man closely and studied his stance. People rarely realize that they signal their intentions before they actually do them. This man had seen some of my bouts, and he knew about my leaping attack.

It would have been folly for me to leap over his head and kick from behind when he clearly intended to skewer me in mid-flight. So, I did the only thing I could do. I leaped. However, I aimed for ground in front of him. I tucked and rolled behind him and then as I quickly regained my feet I turned and fired an arrow that caught him square between the eyes as he turned to meet me. The expression of surprise froze on his face as he fell backwards; the sword fell from his limp fingers and clattered to the ground.

I helped myself to some of the miners' possessions before I hid their bodies and resumed my "ghost hunt". Unfortunately, all they had on them was a couple of cheap swords and worn armor. The sixty-seven Silver Crowns did not seem worth the effort, but I took it anyway.

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Montana MacInnes and the Reunion of Doom

Chapter 3: Meet Me at the Lemonade Stand

By Douglas E. Gogerty

H.K. sat on the porch for several minutes, but not a single car drove by. There were no cars on the highway. It was quiet. It was as if the town had been evacuated, but there was a brief window that allowed him to enter. Of course, the town did roll up the sidewalks at dusk, but that was no excuse for the eerie silence.

He got off the bench and went inside. He checked the phone, but it was still dead. He was beginning to feel like the last living cell in a dead body. Just then, a cold wrinkled hand fell upon his shoulder. He jumped up startled, but once again, it was Uncle Ben.

"Perhaps you should lay off the coffee Butch," Uncle Ben said in his monotone way.

"It is just that it is so quiet around here," replied H.K. attempting to regain his breath and cringing at being called 'Butch' again.

"It is definitely not like the owl who married a goat," responded Ben.

"Yeah! Hootenanny," replied H.K. attempting to sidestep the 'joke'. "Where is Aunt Beulah?"

"She is upstairs. She likes the quiet."

"Can I borrow your truck Uncle Ben -- please?" asked H.K. attempting to ease into it, but he ended up just blurting it out.

"My truck?" inquired Ben. "The red rocket? Ole Red?"

"Yes."

"The mighty red sled? The red green show?"

"Yes."

"The 52 pickup..."

"Yes, *your truck*!" interrupted H.K.

"No," replied Ben curtly.

"Aw come on!" begged H.K.

"If you took the truck, we would be trapped like weasels..."

"Huh?"

"If, for example, a great zombie horde came this way," began Ben in his typical unemotional tone. "We would not be able to get away. You wouldn't want that on your conscious would you?"

"What are the odds of that happening?"

"I have never computed them."

"But..." began H.K.

"Your bicycle is still in the garage. The exercise would do you good."

"Is that some sort of 'fat joke'?"

"Am I laughing?"

"Uh -- that was *my* joke..."

"Ah!" responded Uncle Ben with a flat facial expression. "Very funny."

"I guess biking is it then."

"I guess so."

"No chance you would change your mind?"

"No chance."

"Very well then."

"I guess so."

"I'll be off then."

"I guess so."

After giving up trying to get the last word in on Uncle Ben, H.K. went into the garage. His ancient 10-speed was hanging on a hook in the garage. His mom had never thrown anything away without permission. Someone once offered her 50 cents for the bike, but she could not get hold of H.K., so she did not sell it.

The tires were flat, so he had to search the garage for the pump. He searched through the pink cabinets in the garage. "No man would have pink cabinets in his garage," H.K. thought to himself. "This is definitely my mom's house..."

He found the pump in one corner, and proceeded to pump up the tires. He also found some lubricant to spray on the chain. H.K. thought, "It has been years since I rode "'ole blue', 'the blue bomber', 'the blues traveler'."

He chastised himself for being like Uncle Ben. "That apple not falling far from the tree thing was too true in this family!" H.K. scowled.

He opened the garage door, and tested the old 10-speed in the driveway. He did a couple of circles, and the aging bike performed just as he remembered -- not very well. It had terrible brakes, it would not shift to the lower sprocket, and it did not want to stay in the upper gears. It was going to be just like old times -- a ten speed with only one working speed.

After his test was complete, he needed to decide where to go. He remembered seeing the old woman as the taxi pulled onto his mom's street. Where was she now? He did not watch where she went, but she should not be too far. Thus, H.K. decided to check that area first.

It was just a block away, and 'ole blue' would have been more trouble than walking. Thus, he walked up the road. There were still no cars and silence remained all around. The image of the blue-haired woman became clearer and clearer in his mind. The more he pictured her in his mind; the more it looked like his dead grandmother.

The woman was wearing the same type of flowered dress that H.K.'s grandma wore. She had the curly, blue wig that grandma wore. She was very petite like grandma was.

H.K.'s thoughts began to wander towards his grandma and how she always baked cookies for get-togethers. "While her cookies were not the greatest," he thought. "They sure beat the awful ones that were made for this reunion."

He knocked on a few doors up the block, but no one answered. He was sure he saw her come this way. Had she got in a car and left? Where was everyone? What was going on?

Since his 10-speed was ready, he decided to ride it to the center of town. Perhaps there was someone by the high school. Maybe there were some old acquaintances at the grocery store. Maybe he would see someone on the highway into town.

H.K. got on his bike and rode on the bike trail next to the highway towards the town square. He did not see one car on his way, nor a pedestrian walking the path. The town seemed empty. The silence hung heavy in the air.

At the first residential street, he got off the bike path and began searching for movement or sound. He was beginning to become tired. He was in worse biking shape than he had realized. It had been too long since he rode last. He was going to need a break soon. That is when he heard it.

He was not quite sure what he heard. It was like a moan. It was like a call. It was like a cross between a moan and call. Nevertheless, it was a sound. It somewhat sounded like a young child shouting. He thought the call was "lemonade," but where did it come from?

H.K. pumped his bike a little harder and tried to find where the cry had emanated. He tried to remember where the kids ran their stands in this neighborhood. The word 'lemonade' kept ringing in his ears. It was the only sound, other than his squeaky bike, he had heard since he had left home. It was the only sign of life.

He rode for a little while, but the silence had returned. There was the one cry he had heard, and the city returned to silence. He turned one corner and spotted it. There on the corner of two normally busy streets was a table with a crude sign. The sign was almost completely illegible. Lemonade, if that is what it said, looked like 'Lemoonaad' but that was being generous.

H.K. pumped as hard as he could to get to the stand. He forgot that his bike had terrible brakes and he flew right past. He did manage to stop several yards away. He dropped his bike and ran back to the stand. He looked around, but there was no one there.

He was breathing hard, and lemonade would be refreshing now. There was a pitcher on the table next to a set of paper cups. The pitcher had a yellow liquid and a few mangled lemons. It looked like an active stand, but where was the kid?

He looked around but saw no one. The weather was nice, but it was not a good day to have a stand because the town seemed deserted. Clearly, the call came from this place. H.K. decided to knock on doors of the closest homes. No one answered. Was he dreaming? What was going on?

He was hot and thirsty, so he decided to just leave a dollar and take some lemonade. He poured some lemonade in one of the glasses and took a drink. The sour liquid bit at his throat and he spit it out. There was no sugar in it and it was warm.

Hot and thirsty, H.K. sat down defeated. Anger and frustration began to build within him. Where was everyone? He sat there, quivering with fury, stammering as he tried to come up with a real crusher. All he got out was, "Lemonade!"

He sat there on the ground for a while with his knees bent up and his head in his hands. Suddenly he felt a hand touch him on the shoulder. He jumped up and his heart leapt even higher.

"Sorry for startling you," said the soft feminine voice.

"Another person..." H.K. mumbled to himself.

"You see," she continued. "My car broke down about a mile from here, and you are the only one I have seen or heard from in a long time."

The feminine voice belonged to a tall blonde-haired woman with stunning blue eyes. She had filthy black hands, she was sweating profusely, and her clothes were very crumpled, but other than that -- H.K. found her stunning.

"When you called out 'lemonade'," she continued "I came as quickly as I could. Why are you running a lemonade stand when everyone else was evacuated because of the zombies?"

"Zombies?" he asked.

"I would have been long gone, but my car failed... Your handwriting is awful," she added after reading the sign. "Are you mentally handicapped or something?"

"Huh? What?" H.K. stammered. "No -- I just got into town and I was looking for some people. I thought I heard someone yell 'lemonade', and I came here. When no one was here, I became frustrated and that is when I yelled."

"Is 'lemonade' a swear word for you?"

"It's just..." H.K. started but could not think of something to say. "Did you say zombies?"

"Yeah, but I do not think it is as big a threat as they make it out to be. I have been walking for quite some time, and you are the only thing I have seen. My name is Laurie by the way..."

Just then, a ghostly pale young man emerged from a nearby house. Part of his head was smashed in and his brain was exposed. He shambled out of the house with a horrific limp. The shin had been shattered, and only flesh kept the leg together.

The look of the child was quite disturbing, but the smell was something else. It reached the couple quickly. It stung their eyes and choked their throats. It was a terribly disorienting stench.

The child limped closer and closer while the two stood there in shock. They grabbed each other at the site of the young creature. The undead child got closer and closer. He was nearly in reach of the two when, in an awful, dismembered, throaty moan, he yelled, "Lemonaaaaaaaaaaaaade!"

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The Haunted Mines of Krator

Part 5

By Dwayne MacInnes

It was not too hard to track the shaft the miners were using. With the dust so thick after months of disuse, it was obvious down which tunnel I should proceed. I knew I would have to be quick before someone notice that the men I had just dispatched were missing. They certainly would send a search party to find them.

The mine at this point had some mining cars and tracks. This was a welcome obstacle because it made it easier for me to hide; especially now, as the tunnels were lit every few yards by a torch. I moved quietly behind the cars down the track. There is a saying that a leaf falling from a tree makes more noise than a Wood Elf moving stealthily. Now, that may not be exactly true but it is pretty close to the mark.

On the other hand, a saying should go that a human moving in a semi-dark mine on patrol is as loud as a dragon that has had its keister pierced with a ballista bolt. That was how I came upon the third miner.

It appeared that this individual was patrolling along the track near a ledge. Why he was doing so I never found out for I put an arrow into his shoulder. This proceeded to propel the unfortunate victim over the side of the ledge. I guess it was not too deep because before he could get a scream off I heard the sickening crunch of his body as it impacted upon the unforgiving rock.

There was not much to explore or find on this stretch of the road. There was not even a silver nugget or a tripwire. Although it was highly unlikely, the miners could have laid a tripwire over the line of track they were obviously using.

I continued my hunt down the shaft before it opened into another large cavern. There working alone chipping away at a vein of silver was a lone human swinging his pickaxe. Not exactly a formidable weapon, but a weapon nonetheless. I waited and watched the man continuously swing his pickaxe onto the silver. Nuggets fell to the ground in a pile. The man finally stopped and started to load the nuggets into a bucket. After he loaded the bucket, he wiped his sweaty brow with the back of his grimy hand. Before he removed his hand, I had it pinned permanently to his forehead with an arrow.

I moved quickly and helped myself to some more "souvenirs" from the bucket. I almost considered ignoring the three Silver Crowns in his pockets. However, money is money no matter how small.

I noticed a side tunnel that led off from the cavern. There were some footprints in the dust on the path. However, it was not as heavily trafficked as the shaft that led up to here. It was obvious that this was the domain of our leader. After all, I had dispatched the bulk of his minions. By process of elimination, this left one hedge-wizard, one leader and maybe another miner.

It became apparent that our glorious and brave leader either did not trust his own minions or wanted a fall back position by the tripwire I found stretching between the two support beams at the entrance of a small cavern. This one too I just simply walked over. A quick investigation revealed it tied to a pile of logs braced above the entrance. Having one roll over on you would be fatal enough without the other five.

I must have been too engrossed in the trap because I did not hear the miner approach behind me. Now, this miner could have easily just have killed me by running me through the back. However, all she did was yell, "HEY!"

I turned towards the voice and the woman ran towards me with sword drawn. I gauged her distance then I headed back down the shaft after I tripped the wire. The logs tumbled from their support and proceeded to roll over the poor miner in the process blocking most of the entrance. The gaps between the logs were wide enough for me to see the crushed miner on the other side, but I could not squeeze through it.

Now, if I were a fighter I could use my brute strength to remove a log or two so that I could reenter the cavern. However, I am not a fighter so I had to spy out another route. Fortunately, there was a gap between the right support beam and the wall to allow a lithe figure such as myself though into the cavern.

I quickly searched the body of the woman and found a Golden Eagle and a silver necklace with a ruby centerpiece. That was a little better than I had been finding so far, but only a little. So far, none of the miners had much in the way of weaponry or armor that would make it worth my while to carry these heavy objects back to town.

A narrow tunnel led away from the cavern and I started down it when I heard footsteps running up the shaft. Apparently, the noise of the logs alerted the rest of the group down the tunnel. With no time to spare, I squeezed back through the beam and wall and waited on the other side of the logs.

In the low light, I made out the forms of the hedge-wizard and another person who could only be the leader. The leader wielded a bow and he let a couple of arrows fly towards me. Fortunately, he was not the sharpshooter I was. Unfortunately, I would have to deal with him after I dealt with the hedge-wizard.

I reached behind my back and grabbed my shield just before the wizard shoved his staff between the logs and released a fireball. As I have previously stated, my shield is quite useful in protecting me from adversarial spells. The heat of the fireball washed over me as I ducked behind the heavy shield. But, that was the only effect I felt.

The hedge-wizard fired fireball after fireball at me as I hid behind my shield. I could tell he must have been getting angry from the curses he released at me as well. The leader took this time to fire a couple arrows at me too.

The steel arrowheads tended to bounce off the enchanted shield with nothing more than a spark. This was more damage than the fireballs did.

I do not know for how long I waited behind my shield until the wizard finally threw his staff down and began to chant his own spells. First, he fired off a lightning spell. The blue electric bolts hit the shield and did nothing. Then he fired off a frost spell and the air cooled noticeably as the artic blast collided with the shield. Then he fired off a flame spell. Two long trails of fire sprang from his fingertips and washed over the shield.

Fortunately, these spells take a lot of energy. After the mage exhausted himself, he pulled back and sat against the wall panting. However, the leader now had me all to himself. He fired another arrow that bounce harmlessly off my shield.

I quickly dropped the shield and grabbed my bow. In one smooth motion, I plucked an arrow from my quiver and fired it towards the leader. The arrow stuck in his left shoulder. Not a lethal wound but I was in a hurry.

The leader grunted and fired off his arrow. It did not even make it past the log barrier. I took better aim with my second shot and the leader fell against the panting wizard with an arrow protruding from his left eye.

The hedge-wizard looked up at me with a mixture of fear and fury in his eyes. With amazing speed, the mage drew his short sword and found the same opening I had used. In surprise, I fell back just barely staying out of reach of that lethal blade. I dropped my bow and drew my own short sword.

I am not the world's greatest swordswoman, but I was better than the hedge-wizard. As he brought his hand back for a deadly chop to my head, I just thrust my arm forward and managed to pierce the blade between his ribs and into his heart. The mage's sword clattered to the ground behind him before his corpse followed suit.

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Montana MacInnes and the Reunion of Doom

Chapter 4: The First Dead Un-Dead

By Douglas E. Gogerty

"Uh -- um," stuttered Dr. Schneider. "You see -- when the town hired you -- we hired *you*."

"What's your point?" enquired Montana MacInnes.

"At no time -- you know -- did we think -- you see -- you would work with a townsperson."

"Listen Mr...."

"Doctor," interrupted Dr. Schneider.

"Right -- Dr. Schneider -- I am new here. I have no transportation. While this town is not that big, it would take days for me to clean this place up -- without your help."

"But..."

"Then it is agreed," Montana asserted as he pulled out a pad of paper and pencil from his bag.

"But..."

"Let us get the names of the risen dead," Montana said as he searched the disturbed graves.

Dr. Schneider looked around nervously as Montana wrote down the names on the gravestones. There was no point in arguing the issue as Montana was correct. He would need a ride at the very least. None of this was mentioned in his brochure, but Dr. Schneider should have guessed that some sort of arrangement needed to be made.

"Besides," added Montana. "You will not be able to get passed the guards."

"Well," squirmed Dr. Schneider. "*I* probably could."

"If that is true, the first thing we need to do is firm up the quarantine. We would not want to infect the outside world. Are you sure you wouldn't rather just kill the two that cast the spell? It would make things a lot easier..."

"I'm sure."

"Alright then, I'm finished here. Do you know any of the people on this list? You know, where they used to live?"

"Let me see..." the mayor said stroking his chin as he searched the list. "This name -- I think he lived just up the road. He was a kid that was hit by a car if I remember correctly."

"Let's go," urged Montana as he trotted towards Dr. Schneider's car.

The mayor reluctantly picked up his pace to get to the car. He unlocked the classic Mercury to find that Montana was already sitting in the passenger seat. He was about to lecture Montana on proper car etiquette when they both heard a call.

1976 Mercury Cougar XR-7

"Did that sound like someone just yelled, 'Lemonade' to you?" asked Dr. Schneider.

Montana had grabbed his halberd, was out of the car and running down the street before the mayor knew what was happening. Dr. Schneider started his car and followed behind the running zombie hunter.

Montana MacInnes jumped over fences and cut through yards, so Dr. Schneider had a difficult staying with the running man. He came to a stop just short of a 10-speed bike discarded on the road. He did not know where the zombie expert was, but he was sure he was headed this way.

He looked to see a young man and young woman become suddenly transfixed by something. He could not see what. Then he heard a cry different than the first one, but the word could have been the same. Nevertheless, an awful, dismembered, throaty voice yelled, "Lemonaaaaaaaaaaaaade!"

Montana appeared out of nowhere with his halberd in his hand. Dr. Schneider got out of the vehicle and spotted the pale young man limping horribly towards the young couple. A second later, the child's head was off and it rolled under the table. A thick black substance oozed out of his neck, and he fell with a sickening thud.

"I highly recommend we get out of here," Montana said calmly.

He ran towards Dr. Schneider and the two followed behind. "What the...?" started the mayor.

"I suggest you duck behind the car," insisted the zombie hunter.

Following his lead, the quartet ducked behind the car. As if on cue, the corpse exploded with an awful kersplat spewing black goo in every direction.

When the glop settled, the zombie expert asked, "Did anyone get hit by anything?"

Everyone checked and answered in the negative. Montana MacInnes introduced himself to the couple. H.K. Stein and Laurie Ball introduced themselves as well.

"Mr. Schneider?" H.K. enquired.

"It is Dr. Schneider,"

"Oh! Lowell, Mr. -- er -- Dr. Educated! Have you moved out of your mom's house yet?" asked H.K.

"I am the mayor of this town -- I'll have you know."

"Wow! Mayor!" H.K. said with a touch of sarcasm in his voice. "But, that doesn't answer my question."

"It is none of your business," insisted the mayor.

"I see you're still driving Ugly John," joked H.K.

"This car is a classic," protested Dr. Schneider.

"I hate to break up this fine reunion," added Montana. "But I suggest you all get into 'Ugly John' as you call him -- and fast!"

Without hesitation, the three piled into the car as Montana jumped upon the hood. They learned quickly that Montana knew what he was talking about and that they should listen to what he says. After they were in the car, they heard a strange mix of animal-like noises.

From all directions, strange looking dogs, cats, squirrels, and rabbits came running. There were hollow barks, strained meows, and odd whistles as the animals got closer. Montana looked at the animals as they converged towards his position.

"What is he looking for?" asked Laurie.

"I have no idea," answered Dr. Schneider.

"My guess," H.K. said. "Is that he is looking for the main zombie. If he eliminates the root cause, the rest will fall."

An undead robin swooped down upon Montana and he sliced it in half with his weapon. A sparrow was next, but Montana missed the small bird. A large German shepherd jumped against the driver side window startling Dr. Schneider. He watched in horror as Montana removed its head with one swing of the halberd.

Dozens of animals now surrounded the car. Claws and teeth were gnashing at anything and everything. Montana cut animal after animal into pieces. Nothing had any effect on the rest of them.

That is when Montana spotted the crippled cat attempting to make it towards the car. He was certain that she was the root of all of these undead animals. Like a pole-vaulter, he placed the end of his halberd on the ground and launched himself over the crowd of animals surrounding the car.

The zombie hunter landed a few feet from a squirrel trying to bite him. He kicked the animal out of the way, and made his way towards the cat. She hissed at him, but her head went spinning away with a swing of his weapon.

Montana ran as fast as he could to gain shelter as the entire collection of zombie animals exploded into a putrid black mess.

The stench of the undead boy had been bad. With the addition of the exploded animals, the stink in and around the car was sickening. Lowell turned the car on and sped away leaving the zombie hunter alone taking H.K. and Laurie with him.

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The Haunted Mines of Krator

Part 6

By Dwayne MacInnes

I searched the bodies of the leader and the wizard. The only thing of worth was the hedge-wizard's staff. Even a wizard's staff that is exhausted of its charges was worth a lot of money.

The narrow tunnel led to another small cavern that had been the dwelling place of the leader and the hedge-wizard. There were two bedrolls around a fire and several crates and one chest. The crates unfortunately, only contained foodstuff and the like.

The lock on the chest was very expensive and of very good quality. I smiled, now this was a challenge I would enjoy. I was still new to lock picking so I broke a couple of picks before I managed to free the chest from the evil constraints of the lock. Inside, I found a few potions of healing and some fine jewels.

These I kept. Obviously, this was a silver mine and jewels would clearly be out of place in this setting. I figure that if the town elders knew about it they would thank me for cleaning up such clutter.

The trip back to the mine entrance was uneventful to say the least. I remembered the first tripwire I came across and I disarmed it for the townsfolk. I did not even bill them a service fee. I felt it was only fair after they let me gather some "souvenirs". I had all I could carry in my pack when I finally reached the huge oaken door.

The lock on the door was a lesser quality construct than the one used on the leader's chest. I did not even break sweat let alone a pick opening it.

The look on the guard's face as I swung the door open was purely comical. His jaw dropped, as he stood there dumbfounded holding his spear in one hand.

"The mine is cleared," I said to the amazed guard. I never found out if he was surprised to see me or just surprised to see me open the door without a key. I am sure it was the former. It is well known how comely elves are -- especially Wood Elves. I think High Elves tend not to be as attractive because of their attitude. Did I ever mention High Elves have no sense of humor?

I smiled at the guard and motioned towards the town of Krator. "You may want to alert the elders to the success of my mission." The guard just stood there and stared. Maybe he thought I was ghost.

"You might want to do it before sundown," I continued.

The guard with jaw still agape only nodded.

There was only about an hour and a half before sundown and I figure it would take three to convince the guard to alert the elders. Therefore, I decided to do it myself. You want something done right; have a Wood Elf do it, or something like that.

Fortunately, as I first stepped into town, news of my approach spread like wildfire. Before I even reached the town square, a large crowd was swarming around me. Everyone was asking me questions. "Did you get rid of the ghosts?" "Do you need to find some help?" "How did you get out?" "Will you marry me?"

Yeah, there is always one of those around. In any case, before long the elders where gathered in front of me. They were no less surprised than the crowd was. Before they could ask me how I managed to make my way out of the mine, I told them about the little setup the brigands had established.

Imagine their surprise when they realized that those miners who disappeared were actually smuggling silver out of the mines. I told them about their outside contact named Gunter.

The crowd hushed and looked around. This Gunter was nowhere in sight. A thorough search by the town guards and a mob of angry citizens with the assistance of a few pitchforks finally flushed Gunter out of his hiding spot underneath a haystack.

What happened to Gunter I do not rightly know. I am sure that if he did survive his ordeal it was not without a longer neck. In any case, I took my reward and returned to the arena. Sure, the mine job paid well, but the ghost hunting got rather dull after awhile. Maybe that is why vampire hunters tend to be humans and High Elves and they are welcome to it.

I sold many of my souvenirs to the local merchants and with its proceeds bought myself a modest house. I continued my rise in the arena until I became the Grand Champion. I even started to take on some real work in the Thieves Guild. But these are tales for another time.

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Montana MacInnes and the Reunion of Doom

Chapter 5: Zombies Hate Vinaigrettes

By Douglas E. Gogerty

The mayor, Dr. Lowell Schneider sped off leaving Montana MacInnes alone at the Lemonade stand. Sitting next to him in the front seat was H.K. Stein. Laurie Ball also sat in the front seat next to the door. With a stunned look on his face H.K. asked, "What are you doing? We can't just leave him!"

"Those varmints that were surrounding the car just exploded! Do you have any idea what that could do to my paint job?"

"So while the world is coming to an end, you're going to wash the car?" H.K. enquired as he spotted the carwash a half a block away.

"It'll only take a minute," explained Lowell as he pulled the classic car into the carwash.

Lowell pulled his car into one of the empty carwash stalls. He opened the ashtray, grabbed a handful of quarters, and got out of the car.

"Can we have the keys to listen to the radio while we wait?" asked H.K.

"Sure," replied Dr. Schneider as he handed H.K. the keys.

The mayor pushed the door closed and realized that he got some of the black stuff on his hand. Disgusted, he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and promptly wiped his hands. He stuck out his tongue and gave a little shiver as he examined the tarry substance.

The fastidious former English teacher dropped a few quarters in the slot, and the water began coming from the carwash nozzle. He started from the top and began thoroughly washing his pride and joy of a car.

"AM Radio?" complained H.K. "It is probably original equipment."

"Why bother?" asked Laurie.

"You're probably right," responded H.K. as he switched off the radio and turned the car's ignition to the off position.

"How do you know so much about zombies?" asked Laurie.

"I read Montana MacInnes's book: Zombies from A to Z, but that last bit was a surprise."

"What?"

"When he killed the cat, which was probably the cause of all of the animal zombies, all of them exploded. He didn't mention that happening in his book."

"That sure was gruesome."

Dr. Schneider dropped a few more quarters in the carwash and continued to spray the goo off his car. The soapy water splashed off the car and went down the drain.

"With voodoo spells, it is difficult to determine how they will react," continued H.K. after a bit of thought. "Perhaps that is what these undead are."

"It made things easier. That man didn't have to decapitate all of those animals."

"Let us hope that they were all destroyed with that. Montana fought a few birds, if a duck or something escaped and migrated there could be big trouble nationwide."

"That Dr. Schneider is sure taking his time," complained Laurie as she watched the mayor drop a few more quarters in the carwash.

"He really loves this car. It was a gift from his mommy" explained H.K. as he reached over and honked the horn to get Dr. Schneider's attention. The mayor turned and was a ghastly shade of white. His eyes were black as coal and he had lips to match. He bared his teeth and hissed at the car's occupants. After that, he continued to spray the car.

Laurie screamed. H.K. slid over and got behind the wheel. He locked the door and started the car. He put the cougar into reverse, pushed the accelerator to the floor and sped out of the stall. Laurie gave another scream as she saw zombie rats crawling out of the carwash drain.

"Back to the lemonade stand!" shouted Laurie as H.K. turned the wheel of the classic car to get on the road.

Just then, they spotted Montana MacInnes jump a nearby fence and enter the carwash. In the wink of an eye, Dr. Schneider's head fell with a thud on the cement floor. Montana was out of the stall before the decapitated mayor exploded in cloud of soapy water and black spray.

Montana ran to the car and asked for his bag that was in the backseat. Laurie gave him his bag. She and H.K. watched as the zombie slayer pulled a few vials out of his bag. The expert examined the labels closely and put a few of the vials back.

A pot and a propane burner were the next things he pulled out of the bag. A few vials were emptied into the pot and a fire lit beneath it. When the pot began to boil, Montana began rocking back and forth and chanting.

After a few moments, the zombie hunter grabbed the pot and began sprinkling its contents throughout the carwash stall. He poured the remaining contents down the drain and ran towards the car.

Laurie opened her door, and slid over. The undead expert threw his bag in back, and got into the waiting two-door sport coupe.

"Go!" shouted Montana as the carwash erupted in a huge plume of green-gray smoke.

The merge-o-matic engine of the 30-year old mercury complained as the accelerator was pressed to the floor. The car eventually got up to speed as H.K. drove away from the carwash, which had erupted into a huge mushroom cloud of green smoke.

The town suddenly appeared to be full of life as ghostly white creatures shambled out of buildings towards the plume of smoke that was the carwash. One zombie ventured out in front of the speeding car, but H.K. did not slow down. The car was undamaged and the zombie got up and hissed as the car sped away.

"Where are we going?" asked H.K. after several blocks of just driving.

"Grocery store," replied Montana in a calm and cool voice.

"Pardon?"

"I need supplies," responded Montana.

With a few turns, H.K. made his way to the town's main road. He drove directly to the store where he had worked in high school. It had not changed in the many years since he had graduated. He pulled the car close to the cement pillars in front of the store.

"It's closed," declared Laurie.

"I can get us in," responded Montana as he grabbed his bag.

"Wait!" cried H.K. "You don't have to break any glass. Give me a second and I'll get us in."

H.K. jumped out of the car and ran around the side of the building. Montana also got out of the car and began sizing up the door. He was fumbling around in his bag when the lights of the store when up. A brief time later, the front door was open.

"Some things never change," declared H.K.

The three entered the store. "I need red-wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic..." began Montana.

"Is he making a salad?" whispered Laurie to H.K.

"Zombies hate vinaigrettes," joked H.K. "But seriously, we're dealing with voodoo zombies. Potions and spells make them rise from the dead. With the right ingredients, counter potions and spells can be made."

"Like at the carwash?" asked Laurie.

"Exactly!" replied H.K. as he led the group to the ingredients.

"I have some preserved amphibians in my car," volunteered Laurie.

"Seriously?" asked Montana.

"I'm an amateur herpetologist," replied Laurie with an air of pride.

Montana grabbed her and gave her a big kiss. "How are they preserved?"

"Some are in alcohol and some in formaldehyde."

"Great!" exclaimed the zombie hunter with a surprising amount of emotion. "Sugar and kosher salt!" he proclaimed.

When the group had gathered all of the supplies that the zombie expert wanted, H.K. ushered them out of the store. He made a list of the things they had grabbed and left a note with some money before he locked up the store. He jumped into the car and they sped off to where Laurie had left her car.

The zombie expert examined the contents of Laurie's trunk with wide excited eyes. He grabbed a few specimens and gave the contents a smell. A few he tasted the preserving liquid. When he was satisfied, he had a couple of frogs and newts.

"Air traffic personnel frown upon such things in carry-on luggage," explained the zombie expert.

He emptied the liquids from the jars and replaced it with sugar. He shook the jars for a bit. When he was satisfied, he then dumped out the sugar and replaced it with the kosher salt. After a few more shakes, he put the jars into his bag and shouted "To the lemonade stand!"

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Tiberium Letters

Part One

By Dwayne MacInnes

Hail and well met! I am Gwendolyn a Wood Elf. I pray you do not confuse me with my stuffy High Elf cousins. There are many differences between us if you take the time to learn them. Firstly, High Elves are very pale, probably because they spend most of their days inside dark mansions reading. A Wood Elf actually runs the same color spectrum as humans. Some have a dark brown skin; where as, others do run closer to the alabaster you will associate with the High Elf. My skin tone is closer to that of a medium brown walnut. We Wood Elves are also more down to earth, and we love and crave adventure. Like all elves, we are born with natural magical abilities. Further, being a Wood Elf, I was practically born with a bow in my hand. Because of our home in the Great Forest, Wood Elves are also very dexterous. I suppose that is why many of us become thieves.

Ah yes, I am what you would call a thief, and I suppose the word means different things to different people. The beggar in the street will see us as heroes of the downtrodden. The wealthy see us as a menace. After all, if you are wealthy and you flaunt your status and riches, you probably are not giving all you should to charity and/or to the government. So, we thieves help restore some of the balance. Of course, we have a service fee we must charge.

Some thieves do not belong to the guild and tend to give all in our profession a bad name. I assure you that the Thieves Guild hunts these rogues down and will convince them to join and adhere to our rules. Otherwise, we will help them find a nice home in some local dungeon or prison camp.

Because of this, the word ‘thief' has a negative connotation. I myself prefer wealth adjuster. After all, guild members have strict rules governing their conduct. For example, we are forbidden to steal from the poor or fellow guild members. Any good thief will tell you that it is also not profitable. The poor generally do not have anything worth stealing. You also do not want to have the guild turn against you because you pilfered another member's goods. We also do not kill our victims if at all avoidable. The worst thing a thief could be associated with is the Assassins Guild. No other guilds have such hatred for each other than the Assassins Guild and the Thieves Guild.

The Thieves Guild actually performs many useful tasks. Though most governmental types will publicly disavow any knowledge of our organization, they are however quick to use our services. They know we honor our contracts and because of our unique abilities, we make great spies. Of course, the guild must charge appropriately for our services.

I know the guild is probably just a mysterious organization wrapped in secrets to you. Of course, we culture some of that. However, some things about the guild are mysterious even to us members. The greatest naturally is the Shadow Fox. Yes, we all wonder if there is some lone mysterious figure that runs the guild. Most members are not even sure and if you ask the local guild leader, you will just get vague answers shrouded in enigmatic ancient lore.

The story states that for the last five hundred or so years a mysterious and mask covered being has been running the Thieves Guild. My first thought was that the Shadow Fox is a Wood Elf; elves in general live for over a thousand years. However, the more you delve into the history, the more obscure it becomes. The Shadow Fox is a woman in some stories -- a man in others, tall in some -- short in others. He is a human, she is an elf, or even it is a lizard-man. One thing however is the same in all the stories, the Shadow Fox wears a black mask that hides his, hers or its face from the nose up.

You are probably saying, "A thief with a mask, big deal." I will point out that firstly, most guild members do not wear masks. There is no better way to advertise that you are a thief than to walk around town in a mask. Secondly, even heroes sometimes wear masks. Look at that Ranger from the Fighters Guild, D'Lowen. He goes around shooting his silver-headed bolts from his crossbow in the name of justice and he obscures his visage with a mask. On a side note, it was probably not such a great idea to use silver on his bolts. I hear that the poor are deliberately trying to get him to shoot them so that they can get at some easy silver. Plus, it does not work in his favor that he refuses to fire a lethal shot.

Now this story takes place after I had achieved the rank of Grand Champion in the Imperial Arena. There was no more advancement for me there. I occasionally would show up for a special show, but for the most part, the "Black Arrow" was officially retired. Therefore, I now dedicated myself to working for the guild full time. I had quickly advanced through the ranks. In fact, I was to the point where I was on the cusp of having my own local guild chapter when I received a special summons.

My guild leader told me that I was to meet someone in Jermaine Gilvus' house inside the town of Lissia in one week's time. No more information was forthcoming. Lissia is an easy ride from the Imperial City so I arrived ahead of time and did some scouting around while I stayed at the local inn. I knew of Jermaine from reputation, the man was a known and trusted sympathizer of the guild. Years before, we had once rescued his daughter from a band of brigands. Since then, he has given any help he could to the guild.

On the appointed time and date, I easily found Jermaine's house. I met the man outside and as I approached, he said in a low whisper, "He's waiting for you inside. Look in the basement." This naturally piqued my curiosity. However, there is that old saying, that "Curiosity killed the Wood Elf", but I paid it no heed as I entered the old wooden house.

It was a small house. The only room spread out in front of a burning hearth. The dining area lay in the center and a bed sat on one side of the room. Off in a corner laid the stairs that led down to the basement. I crept down the creaky wooden steps into the dark interior. On the far side of the subterranean room, a lone torch flickered. Barrels, crates, and various sacks lay stacked against the walls, but in the center stood a single table and two chairs. One chair was unoccupied the other sat a figure and as I descended he raised his face towards me with a face shrouded in a black mask. I was about to have my first meeting with the Shadow Fox.

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Recent Comments

  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks for the kind words Kerry. I too am very read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Christian! I too had a DOS computer. read more
  • Christian: A great story, i remember my first computer with DOS read more
  • Kerry Glasscock: Good story. I love that Dwayne. nice work! read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Susanne. You are correct, the OS of computers has read more
  • Susanne: Nice read, shame computers havent improved several years later (mainly read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Hey Rushan! Sadly no, I do not have one. Thanks read more
  • Rushan: Nice work.do you have that kind of one?thanks.. read more
  • Douglas Gogerty: Thanks Joyce. I appreciate your kind words. We do have read more
  • Joyce: Douglas, I just want express and my true admiration before read more

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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