Author: Derek

New Old Gun

Last weekend, the family went down to see my dad’s side. My great aunt informed me she had a surprise for me. It turns out it was an old shotgun that belonged to my grandpa. Very old. If I’m doing my research correctly, it’s a Forehand Arms Company single shot 12 gauge, and at least a century old. It’s not in one would call great condition, but I really don’t care. I’ll probably clean it up and do some repairs, but otherwise, it’ll most likely just stay in the safe.

I’m just glad to have another of my grandpa’s guns.

Holding Grandpa's Shotgun

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 99

Barcelona, Spain; 2 October 2011, 2230 hours local; Countdown: 2 months, 29 days

Quentin McLintock kept his Colt Delta Elite 10-millimeter at a low ready. Next to him, Chief Stahl kept a beat-up AK-47 pointed at the old church. Marc, the last of their little group, stayed further back in the shadows with a disapproving look. The French investigator didn’t like how quickly the team broke out the firearms. He just sat back murmuring about American barbarians. Quentin and the chief ignored his disapproval. They kept a close eye on their teammates approaching the church.

Mateo led Jess, Jim, Sport, and the Steve down the boulevard with Billy trailing behind them a few yards. They looked to all the world like simple tourists who strayed just a bit too far off the beaten path. The two acolytes standing a sloppy guard at the front of the church looked over at the group and quickly dismissed them. Quentin tensed as Mateo’s team walked closer. He should have been with that group, not stuck in the shadows across the street. Chief Stahl put a calming hand on Quentin’s shoulder. Mateo had his reasons. It was over fast. Mateo took a step towards the near acolyte. The young man turned like he was going to say something. He never had the chance. Jim snaked past Mateo and hammered the acolyte with a precise fist. Jim easily had a hundred pounds on the skinny acolyte. The acolyte bounced off the stone wall and flopped to the ground. The Steve was tightening the zip-tie on the second acolyte before the first one hit the ground. Mateo signaled for Quentin and the chief to join up. Marc cursed as they jogged across the street as he tried to hold on to the oversized bag with the extra weapons.

“Well?” Mateo asked over the radio.

“You’re clear,” Seraph answered from her perch on a nearby roof. “The boys inside didn’t even hear you. Six of them are standing in the middle of the sanctuary. They look bored from their posture. I am unable to find the remaining four acolytes or the two minions.” There was a note of warning in Seraph’s voice. Mateo just looked at the feed from Seraph’s camera.

“Quentin kicks the door,” Mateo said, pointing at the big man, “We’ve got pairs of bad guys at twelve, two, and nine on the inside. Watch your zones.” The team stacked up as Marc dragged the two bound acolytes across the street. Quentin lined up against the heavy wood door. The anthropologist in him catalogued the intricate carvings. He really hoped they managed to take down these guys fast without too much damage to the church. The doors themselves had to be at least three hundred years old. Mateo gave the signal and all the extraneous thoughts running through Quentin’s mind stopped. It was just him, his team, and the door.

Quentin shouldered into the door like it was a tackling dummy. The heavy door hesitated for the briefest moment before giving way under Quentin’s charge. Quentin followed the door into the church and fell to the side as Chief Stahl came storming behind him. The distinctive chatter of the AK filled the church. One acolyte went down. The other acolytes were reacting, but they were too slow. Zombie Strike spread into their zones before the first acolyte thought to bring up his weapon. Jim took him down with the thunderous roar of his big Smith and Wesson. Sport killed another with a quick burst from his AK. The rest just dropped their weapons and screamed in Spanish. Mateo yelled back in the same language and motioned to the floor with his pistol. The three acolytes hit the floor so fast Quentin half-wondered if they fainted. The Steve and Sport secured each with heavy-duty zip ties.

“That was too easy,” Mateo said. He grabbed the closest acolyte and let out a rapid burst of Spanish. The acolyte shook his head. Mateo punctuated his demand by placing the muzzle of his pistol to the acolyte’s forehead. The acolyte’s dark eyes went wide and pleading. Mateo repeated his demand. The acolyte let out a squeaky string of Spanish.

“The rest of them are in the basement,” Mateo said, dropping the acolyte.

“That’s no good Matt,” Stahl said looking at his PDA, “From what I’m seeing we have one entrance in the back of the church. That’s it. Even amateurs like this could take advantage of that kind of fatal funnel.”

“That works for us just as much as it does for them,” Mateo answered. “Sport, Jim go make sure nothing comes up from the basement.” The two men nodded and rushed to the back of the church. Mateo turned back to Chief Stahl. “Do you know what you’re supposed to be looking for?”

“Not a clue,” the chief said. Then, the former soldier cocked his head as if he was listening to something the rest of them couldn’t hear. He walked over to the altar. Stahl looked it over, almost as if he was searching for something. The rest of Zombie Strike traded confused looks. Suddenly, Stahl tossed the altar onto its side with a deafening crash. Using his knife, Stahl pried open a concealed door on the underside of the altar and pulled out a small cloth bag.

“What in God’s name are you doing?” Mateo yelled. Stahl opened the bag and pulled out what looked like a gollum’s medallion, but this one was gold instead of stone. As soon as Quentin’s eyes locked on the medallion, everything fell away.

Quentin was standing on a tropical beach. Maybe a hundred yards inland was a thick tree line that led into what could only be called jungle. Quentin hated the jungle since the first time Zombie Strike went out two years ago. Out at sea, Quentin could see what looked like a Spanish galleon anchored. What was going on?

A cacophony of shrieks and indescribable noises erupted from the jungle. Out of the tree line emerged a ragged party of Spanish conquistadors dragging a line of bound people. From their dress, they looked like Aztec peasants. Quentin screamed at them to stop and pulled his pistol. Reality quivered angrily and Quentin fell silent. The warning was evident. He was only supposed to watch. There were six Aztecs, four men and two women. Some of the Spanish were firing their muskets back at the tree line. The party scrambled into a pair of long boats. As the Spanish rowed back to their ship, a creature emerged from the jungle. Quentin had seen one of those before. Back in Panama when the team fought the Little Death. It was a vampire before it adapted to the world.

The world shifted back to the church. Quentin blinked as he realized he was on the cold tile floor. He stood up groggily. He still felt as if his body was readjusting from the vision back to reality. Quentin looked over to where Chief Stahl had been standing. His eyes went wide as he saw two men in long brown leather cloaks standing over them. Their ancient faces were impassive like weathered granite.

“You should have dealt with the others before revealing the medallion,” the first one said. Well, sort of. It was like watching an old Godzilla movie. The man was clearly speaking in his own language, but Quentin was hearing English.

“Who are you?” Chief Stahl demanded, staggering to his feet. He had the medallion clenched in one hand and a pistol in the other. If the two men were threatened by the chief, they didn’t show it.

“We are the Guardians of the Truth,” the first one said, “You have seen how we came to this part of the world. This is the only the first step you must take if you are to fulfill your role in the coming of the Flayed One. Unfortunately, you have activated the defenses your opponents put around this building. We will talk again if you survive.” Before anyone could say anything, the two men faded like they were ghosts and sank into the floor.

“What the-“ Mateo started. Seraph interrupted the thought.

“Is anyone listening to me?” she practically screamed into the radio. “There are five hundred zombies coming down the street! They’re making a straight line for you.”

[Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 100]

Ward Manor Thanksgiving

We had our first Thanksgiving at Ward Manor. The Wife and the SIL have decided that the holidays will be shared between our place and theirs. This year, we had Thanksgiving and we’ll go to their place for Christmas. Spurred on by her co-worker(s), the Thanksgiving decorations didn’t last more than a week before the barrage of Christmas decoration festooned the house. The Wife has all of her prior decorations, plus some that came over with MIL, plus a line item in the budget for purchasing more. I don’t fight it, I just kind of ride the wave and hope it passes over peacefully.

Thanksgiving was good. The family got to see the nanday parakeets that have been stopping by the bird feeder infrequently. We also managed to not have a ton of left overs in our fridge. I consider that a win. Over the long weekend, I did something that’s been incredibly rare around here. I actually got some work done on my fantasy novel. It’s nowhere near done, but it was just nice to get words down on paper (so to speak). Then I helped The Brother put together his new standing desk. It was nice to see someone get the benefit from the experiences I had when putting together three desks (one a standing) in the span of two months.

On a different note, The Wife hates to put gas in her car. To the point that the fuel light comes on. Sometimes I think she does that just to see the veins pop in my head. Anyways, I went to go put gas in her car. There’s a gas station a few miles down the road from the subdivision. The speed limit is supposed to be 45, but that only happened in the last couple of years. Most folks treat it as the 60 mph road it was and should be. Except for the person in front of me as I go to get gas. I swear, I found the only person from Texas who drives the limit.

How Long Have I Been Playing?

Last week, one of those FB memories popped up:

I’m playing Civ 6. I’m at war with the Russians, while Spain is at war with India. Two separate wars. However, due to the geography, there’s a block of about six to eight hexes where I’m fighting the Russian units while Indian and Spaniard forces are duking it out.

And what’s going through my mind?

How are the historians of this world going to describe this situation? The Battle of Two Wars?

Here’s the kicker. That memory was from five years ago. When I mentioned this to The Brother, he dutifully informed me that my current hour count on Civ 6 was over 4,000 hours.

To be fair, the current version of Civ 6 has a mostly passing resemblance to the version of Civ 6 that I’m currently playing.

But still…

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 98

Barcelona, Spain; 2 October 2011, 1500 hours local; Countdown: 2 months, 29 days

Quentin McLintock stifled a yawn. After nearly two years of almost constantly traveling, he was slightly amazed he still felt jetlag. He sipped at the cup of coffee in front of him. The caffeine wasn’t as good as actual rest, but it would do in a pinch. The team lost a lot of time getting to this beautiful city. The Truth managed something rulers had been trying to accomplish for centuries – they’d forged a united Europe. Granted, it was under a group of dictators that answered to a supreme dictator. If Johann Spiegler wasn’t an acolyte of the Truth, he was certainly in their pay. Just to prove the point, one of the first things the new European Alliance did was to outlaw Zombie Strike.

“Catalans,” Mateo swore as he sat down next to Quentin. The team leader discretely passed a manila envelope to Chief Stahl. The chief cut it open and started passing out the contents. Mateo turned back to look out at the rest of the restaurant. The team wasn’t in the bad part of Barcelona, but they could see it from outside the door. Quentin looked at the photo in the fake passport. Not too bad. So, for this mission he was Quentin McCall, an American from Baltimore living in Italy.

“I’m sure they don’t understand you any better than you understand them,” Jess said, picking up her own passport. She blanched as she looked inside. “Why did they use that picture? I look hideous.”

“What’s the bloody problem?” Sport asked. He just glanced at his new ID before tucking it away. Jess looked over at Mateo. Her foster father just waved for her to answer. He was still too frustrated.

“You remember how hard it was to understand Americans when you first came over?” Jess asked. Sport nodded. He’d told that story plenty of times. “Well, the difference between the Spanish spoken here and the Spanish spoken in most of the Americas is more than just accent and a few different terms. Standard words are different. Needless to say, it can be a bit frustrating.”

“Must be. Boss dude looks like he’s about to punch someone,” The Steve said. “Should have sent Quentin. He’s the Zen dude.”

“I don’t know Spanish,” Quentin said. He turned back to Mateo. “Did we find out where we’re supposed to be going?”

“A church in the slums,” Mateo answered. “I texted all of you the coordinates. What about weapons?” Each of them was armed only with pistols and knives. Quentin also picked up a metal pipe at a hardware store. That was fine for fending off muggers and run of the mill criminals. Against what they were expecting to deal with, Quentin wanted a bit more.

“The good news is we got all of those Chechens’ weapons when Mountain, Sport, and I went back to get Billy,” Chief Stahl reported. Getting into Spain quickly and quietly forced the team to deal with less than nice people. They’d rode into Barcelona in a convoy of vans trucking in girls snatched from Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia to become prostitutes. Quentin wanted to smash the smarmy leader in the face the moment they met up in Sarajevo. The Steve calmed him down with promises the opportunity would come later. Apparently it had come when the smugglers had held onto Billy and demanded another 100,000 euros to release the pup.

“What’s the bad news?” Mateo asked.

“The commotion attracted the attention of those policemen in the funny hats,” Stahl answered. “I don’t think we left anything that could be traced back to us, but we were rushing a bit. We got some worn AKs, a couple of pump shotguns, and a good rifle for Jess. Plenty of ammo for them plus a bunch of nine millimeter. I put all of the toys in the hidey-hole.”

“Don’t worry, we covered your tracks,” said an achingly familiar female voice. Quentin turned to the speaker and saw an exotically beautiful Mediterranean woman slipping next to their table.

“Seraph?” Quentin asked, breathlessly. Memories flooded back from an archeological dig back in Mexico nearly two years ago. The battle Quentin first encountered minions. The night he’d heard the most beautiful voice in the world telling him help was coming and everything would be alright. She gave him a dazzling smile as she sat down next to Mateo.

“It does a lady good to know you didn’t forget about me,” Seraph answered coyly, her British accent giving the words an almost seductive lilt. Her face went into a professional mask as she turned to Mateo.

“My team covered yours after the incident with the smugglers,” Seraph said. “We have a good reputation with the locals. As far as the police are concerned, the Chechens ran into a rival gang of Romanians. What can you expect out of Gypsies?” Seraph shrugged dramatically.

“Your team?” Mateo asked, eyeing the woman suspiciously.

“Sorry, I’m Seraph MacKenzie. I’m your liaison with M&W for this mission. My team is myself and a couple of the firm’s best investigators in this hemisphere. I’ve been tasked by the firm to assist you as much as we can. I will caution you that with the current regimes across the continent, that support may be limited.”

“We noticed,” Stahl said flatly. As much as Quentin hated how the team snuck into Barcelona, the chief loathed their smugglers even more. There was some history there. Quentin was kind of glad the chief and the others had been forced to hurry up. He didn’t want to think what Chief Stahl would have done if he had plenty of uninterrupted time with the smugglers.

“Did you manage to get us anything besides running interference with the police?” Mateo asked.

“One of my team is currently keeping your church under surveillance. There are maybe a dozen acolytes guarding the place along with a pair of minions. We don’t have a method to gauge how powerful they may be,” Seraph said. “He’ll let us know if anything changes.”

“Good, we’ll hit the church tonight,” Mateo said. “In the meantime, everyone needs to get some rest. Sleep if you can. I want everyone back up by 2100 for brief and weapon load-out at the hotel. Ms. MacKenzie, I’d like you there as well. You know where we are?” Seraph nodded. “That’s it people. Follow your routes back to the hotel.” Quentin hung back as the rest of his team got up from the table. Seraph must have sensed he wanted to talk to her because she stayed seated as well.

“I tried to find you after that fight,” Quentin said, “No one would tell me where you were or how to get in contact with you.” Seraph gave him that mesmerizing smile again.

“I know Quentin. Quite flattering, actually,” she said, “If things were different, I might have been tempted.”

“If things were different how?” Quentin asked cautiously. It was bad enough having a crush on a voice. Finding out the woman behind the voice looked like she did brought all of those long suppressed fantasies back.

“You’re a dear,” Seraph said sweetly, patting Quentin on the arm, “I’m not married or involved if that’s what you were worried about. The problem is I’m a MacKenzie. As in MacKenzie and Winston. My family would have a fit if I dallied with someone so far below my station.” Quentin’s fear flamed into annoyance.

“I see,” Quentin said trying hard to keep his tone civil. With the exception of Sport, Quentin probably had the best grasp of the culture behind Seraph’s words. He’d spent years studying cultures were class distinctions were ironclad and unbreakable. It still hurt when it was pushed into his face.

“I’ll see you later,” Seraph said, getting up from the table. Quentin waved and turned to wash away the ashes of his dreams away.

[Zombie Strike Part 10 Chapter 99]

This Is THANKSGIVING! (Punts Bad News Into The Pit)

I first saw the story of the teen accidentally invited to Thanksgiving a couple of years ago on the Book of Face. According to this USAToday article they are keeping the tradition going.

What started as a text to a wrong number has led to years of friendship and shared Thanksgiving meals for Jamal Hinton and Wanda Dench, a holiday tradition born from a happy mistake that’s gone viral every year since.

In 2016, Dench sent a text to a number she believed belonged to her grandson to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner at her home in Mesa, Arizona. Turns out, she accidentally texted Hinton, a complete stranger at the time.

Hinton asked who the number was and when Dench sent a photo of herself to him, he replied, “You not my grandma. Can I still get a plate tho?”

“Of course. That’s what grandma’s do … feed everyone,” Dench replied.

Since that text mixup, Hinton has received an invitation to celebrate the holiday with Dench’s family every year.

It was a very tearful to see last year’s picture, as Dench’s husband had passed. Yet this story gives my optimism a shot in the arm. These small acts of kindness, these small acts of family building, are what make humans human.

I look forward to seeing how the tradition continues.

Self Defense In Extremes

Two recent court cases highlight situations that terrify me.

Let’s start with Kyle Rittenhouse’s case. His was in all respects a clear-cut case of self-defense. I’m not going to debate his decision to be in Kenosha that night. That’s a whole ‘nuther can o’ worms. Suffice to say, it would have taken a lot more to put myself in that area. Here’s the two parts that terrify me: 1) being cut off and surrounded by angry people, and 2) then having my story rocketed to the front of national news because of the media climate at the time. The former because of the tactical situation. The latter because of its downstream impact on my life.

Then let’s take a look at the case of Andrew Coffee IV. This highlights that my fear of the police fucking up and deciding to no-knock my house. Because there have been too many episodes of police mistakes and swatting for me to consider it outside the realm of possibility. As for Mr. Coffee’s particular case, I think McThag summed it up quite well.

Whatever your feelings of how they got into their situations, both of these young men had the right of self-defense. They used that right of self-defense appropriately. And they will pay a price for it.

These are the extremes. You have been warned.