Page 2 of 159

Mount Saint Helens, Plus 40 Years

Monday was the fortieth anniversary of the Mt. Saint Helens eruption. I have vague memories of the eruption when it happened, as I was only a kindergartner and on the other side of the continent. The Wife was living in Washington State at the time and remembers the ash fall.

This is an interesting little video out out by the Smithsonian Channel:

Danger Zone

This video’s been making the rounds.

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some X-Wings. That being said, I prefer this one.

Metal Tuesday- Shinedown – Devour

This is one of those that will get stuck in your head. I may know this from experience.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 3 – Chapter 19

Aztec Ruins, 150 miles south of Mexico City, 1100 hours local, 2 December 2009, Countdown: 2 years, 29 days

Quentin McLintock was fighting fatigue and grief. William “Billy” Shakespear, the Native American dervish who pretty much took down a fifty-zombie horde on his own, took one look at Quentin and started processing the bodies. Such a clean word for such a gruesome task. They were joined by the team Mackenzie and Winston sent down to assist in the clean-up of the camp site. Quentin just couldn’t watch their clinical efficiency with the corpses of those he called friends and colleagues. So, he did what he could do to stop this horror from happening again. Quentin grabbed a laptop and went into the temple and started to try and decipher why Giant and his minions attacked the camp.

The temple looked gray as filtered light managed to reach into its main room. The floor was strewn with broken shards of what looked to be clay tablets of some sort. Quentin went to work. As he immersed himself, he barely noticed the gray light turn to amber from the dawn. He didn’t stop. He was making so little progress. Then, Quentin noticed the ambient light in the temple darken. Annoyance flashed through his tired mind. Who was interrupting him now? Don’t they understand how crucial–

“Hello Quentin,” said a familiar voice that shouldn’t be anywhere near this temple. Quentin almost dropped the piece of clay tablet in his hands. He was sure his fatigued mind was playing tricks on him. Still, there was the faint glimmer of hope it was true. Quentin turned to see Mateo Cortez standing in the opening with a warm smile on his face.

“What are you doing here?” Quentin asked, his mind still unable to reconcile with what his eyes were seeing. The last time Quentin saw this man was on Skull Island. Mateo was boarding a helicopter and swearing never to have anything to do with zombies or zombie hunting again. Now he was standing in the doorway of the temple in a strange set of armor with an odd rifle hanging at his chest on a tactical sling. Why was he here now?

“Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe,” Mateo said, “I’m team lead for the Skull Island Zombie Response Team. It’s a long story we don’t have time for right now.” Mateo’s smile vanished, replaced by a determined look. Quentin remembered that look with fondness. Mateo was back and fully in command. For some reason, that gave Quentin a small sense of peace.

“I talked with the guy, Billy, outside, but he says you’re the only one who saw the primaries. What can you tell me?” Mateo asked.

“One guy who looked like he was a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier than me. Two more like the prisoner,” Quentin answered, “I think they were searching for how the Aztecs created zombies and gollums. Did you ask the prisoner?”

“He’s not talking due to a bad case of death,” Mateo said, “Not sure how he managed to suicide, but the body’s off to Mexico City for autopsy. The clean-up crew was nice enough to do some forensic work before it left. I’ve got Collin and The Steve working on that. What have you found here?”

“This is definitely the place where the followers of Xipe Totec created their own versions of the undead,” Quentin said, waving his hand around the temple’s main chamber. “Giant broke all of the tablets relating to the process, but I’ve managed to piece enough together. Also found a half-dozen gollum medallions.”

“How do you know Giant broke them?” Mateo asked. Quentin held up one of the broken tablets.

“No erosion on the broken edges,” Quentin answered. “Giant’s the most likely suspect.”

“Were those the ones Giant left, or did he not understand their significance?” Mateo asked.

“I don’t know, Matt,” Quentin answered, tiredly, “Maybe if I knew more about how gollums were created in the first place. My guess is Giant left these for some reason. He knew too much about this place not to know about the medallions.”

“That makes finding this guy priority,” Mateo concluded, “What do you need to find out what he’s after?” Quentin gave Mateo a wide-eyed stare. Did he even begin to understand what he was asking? No, Mateo never did when he made his impossible requests. Yet, they couldn’t be impossible because no one had yet to fail him.

“I need to find out why they smashed up the place,” Quentin said, thinking furiously, “No reason to waste time demolishing the place unless they were covering their tracks.” Mateo nodded in agreement. Mateo cupped his hand to his ear.

“Jess, I need you and the Brit Boys down here,” Mateo said. Quentin watched as his friend’s expression blossom with consternation at this Jess person. Mateo took a deep breath before speaking. “No, he can’t come with you. I gave you an order young lady. Now get down here!”

Quentin stifled the laugh. There was something about Mateo’s face, tone, and posture. Quentin had seen his friend dealing with the antics of some of his teammates, mainly The Steve, but this was completely different. It reminded Quentin of a father dealing with his teenage daughter. Then a blonde-haired, blue-eyed homecoming queen in body armor sauntered into the temple. Quentin almost didn’t notice the two professional-looking men trailing her. The girl couldn’t be more than sixteen. Why in God’s name would Mateo let this little girl be a part of the team?

“Mateo, what’s the problem with bringing Billy down here?” Jess asked with just a hint of whining. The two men who entered the temple with her rolled their eyes and braced themselves.

“Because you’re looking at him like you did that, um, guy from Twilight,” Mateo answered, and Quentin wondered what word his friend swallowed. “I need that mind of yours focused on the task.” Jess gave him the look of aggravated patience that only teenage girls can throw. Mateo ignored it.

“You three help Quentin with his work here,” Mateo ordered, “The rest of the team will be outside doing other investigation.” Mateo strode out of the temple. Jess just glared at Mateo as he left.

How to handle this ball of fire? Quentin asked himself.

“He’s gone now girl, you can bloody well drop the act,” the taller man said reprovingly with a clear British accent. It was slightly different from the accent of Quentin’s friend, Collin DuBois, but it clearly hailed from the United Kingdom. The man looked at Quentin. Jess shot the man a betrayed look. He ignored it.

“Apologies, Mr. McLintock. You may call me Slim. This is my associate Sport.” The shorter man raised a knuckle in salute. “You’ve met Ms. Montgomery.”

“Good to meet you all,” Quentin said, “How good are you at jigsaw puzzles?”

A few hours later, Quentin emerged from the temple. Mateo walked over and handed Quentin a bottle of water. Quentin savored the cool liquid running down his throat. It was a relief from the dry, dusty, and hot environment. Mateo gently tapped the end of the bottle, a reminder to Quentin to sip the water.

“What have you found?” Mateo asked bluntly.

“The tablets were instructions for creating the undead, but the instructions rely on the reader already knowing the basics,” Quentin said, “There was a lot of, for lack of a better term, technical jargon. Things that didn’t translate out properly. I think this was a raid to steal medallions and to destroy any remnant of the knowledge how to create the undead.”

“Makes sense,” Mateo agreed, “We’re trying to ID the two bad guys here. So far, no luck. Anything else?” Quentin gave his friend a sidelong glance before answering. Mateo picked up on his friend’s discomfort. “What is it?”

“Why did you bring along the kid?” Quentin asked, embarrassed at having to ask Mateo. Mateo took one look at Quentin’s face and laughed.

“Relax, Quentin, she’s my foster daughter,” Mateo answered. When that didn’t seem to ease Quentin’s concerns, Mateo gave him a quick rundown of the events surrounding the fight at Forreston.

“So what do you want me to do?” Quentin asked.

“I need you to keep trying to find out everything you can,” Mateo answered, “This group of cultists is acting very differently than Xipe Tzin, and I want to know why. Keep Jess with you.”

“Are you really worried about her being distracted by Billy?” Quentin asked, nodding to the animated Native American who was busily following the distinct forms of Collin and The Steve.

“Honestly, any other time I would be jumping up and down she was showing interest in a young man,” Mateo said, “Jess had a rough time with all of the upheavals in her life. There were some really dark days.”

“So what’s the problem?” Quentin asked.

“We’re facing a group of individuals who were willing to kill everyone in this camp to keep the information you found hidden,” Mateo said, “I can’t let her mind be distracted when dealing with people like that.” The cold bluntness of his words triggered a wave of suppressed grief in Quentin. Mateo realized belatedly the effect of his words. “I’m sorry about your friends. Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll be okay as long as I’m busy,” Quentin said, “We need to stop these murderers. I’ve got the feeling the attack here was a small part of whatever they’re up to.” Mateo started to stay something, but his mouth clicked shut as he listened to his earpiece. His face grew grim.

“Understood,” Mateo said in his command voice. He flicked a switch on his radio and said, “Everyone grab your gear and rally on me.” Quentin could see a flurry of action around the camp.

“For the record your new name is Prophet,” Mateo said, “Giant and his friends are leading a zombie attack in Mexico City. Transport is fifteen minutes out. You’re with me.” As Mateo, turned to brief his team, Quentin’s mind flashed to his friend’s words. Quentin couldn’t tell if his friend was joking with him or cursing him.

Zombie Strike Part 3 Chapter 20

Friday Quote – Calvin Coolidge

Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual.

No One Is Going To Like This Post – Tara Reade Edition

My podcast feeds have been going over the issue of the sexual assault allegations by Tara Reade against Joe Biden. More particularly, how the major media outlets have been responding. The more and more I hear the chattering class jabber on, the more I’m leaning to Jonah Goldberg’s position.

  1. The press has actually been doing their job on these allegations by working to investigate the claims to determine if there’s substantiation or holes. The commentaries are ludicrous on both sides, but that’s just the chatter class.
  2. There is a stark difference by how the major outlets are treating this episode compared to the Kavanaugh allegations. The ombudsmen or spokespeople for the major outlets should be stating clearly “We screwed up then, but we’re going to do a better job with this one and all episodes going forward.” By not doing that, it just looks like their only willing to do good journalism if it will hurt those they don’t like and help those they do like. At that point, they are no better than the chattering class.
  3. For those who want the press to treat Biden like they did Kavanaugh, are you out of your fucking mind? What was done to Justice Kavanaugh was a tragedy. Why under all that’s sacred would you want to mainstream that?
  4. Now, let’s through a stick of dynamite on the wood pile. Jonah Goldberg’s made the observation that many of the people who are demanding that Biden receive the Kavanaugh treatment are perfectly willing to turn a blind eye on the far more serious and more substantiated allegations against Trump. Now, I know expecting consistency out of people who are swept up in party politics games is a lot these days, but for fuck’s sake.

You Want To Know Why Black Lives Matter Exists?

Let’s examine the case of Ahmaud Arbery.

These two asshats killed a man on February 23rd. Since the elder is a former cop, the original prosecutor recused herself. The second prosecutor also recused, but gave a lengthy, if bullshit, memo as to why they shouldn’t be charged. The third is finally taking this to the grand jury after two months.

Let’s dispense with the citizens arrest bullshit. They did not witness a crime, nor did they have reason to believe a crime was in progress. That latter is proved by them asking Ahmaud to stop so they “can talk with him.” This also wasn’t anywhere near self-defense. If anyone had a justifiable claim of self-defense if was Ahmaud.

Yet, it took three prosecutors before they were arrested and charged?

Was it racism? Most likely. Was it a former cop getting preferential treatment? Fuck yes.

So, why should a community historically treated poorly by cops, look at this and not feel threatened?

Metal Tuesday- Beyond the Black – Dear Death

Off their new album.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part 3 – Chapter 18

Aztec Ruins, 150 miles south of Mexico City, 2200 hours local, 1 December 2009, Countdown: 2 years, 1 month

Quentin McLintock faced one of the worst scenarios a zombie hunter could encounter. He knew it as soon as the first arm shot out from the ground. Quentin recognized the familiar ring from his Alma mater, West Virginia University. These were his friends and colleagues. They’d been murdered by a mysterious giant of a man and his four minions. Two of those minions fled with the giant. A third was starting to rise with the familiar shamble of the undead. The last was tied up after losing a fight with Quentin.

Quentin looked into the face of his academic mentor, Dr. Eli Stone, as the undead corpse freed itself from the dirt. Painful guilt wracked Quentin. He knew the moaning creature was no longer the kind man that looked past Quentin’s jock facade to challenge the burgeoning anthropologist underneath. He knew it was a monster that would kill him and turn him into a member of the horde. Yet, Quentin just couldn’t make his finger squeeze the trigger on his M4.

Quentin did the only thing he could do. He ran. He ran as fast as he could from the animated corpses of those he labored with in this cursed place. He sprinted into his tent. At the bottom of the trunk that held all of his weapons was a satellite phone. He needed help. Quentin clipped the phone to his vest and jerked the trunk up onto his shoulders. There were too many goodies Quentin didn’t want falling into the hands of the giant and his minions. He rushed out of the tent to the pre-fab building at the center of the dig camp.

The last minion was where Quentin left him bound with copious amounts of duct tape. The minion’s eyes laughed at Quentin as he slammed down the trunk. Quentin was sorely tempted to throw the bound man in the odd ninja costume to the zombies. Quentin squashed the thought and fumbled with the satellite phone. One of the buttons was blinking a friendly green. Quentin mashed it as he heard the hunting moans of the newly risen horde.

“Mr. McLintock are you all right?” asked a beautiful, melodic woman’s voice with an unmistakable British accent. “My name is Seraph. Help is on the way.”

“What?” Quentin asked, his mind jarred by the warm calmness in Seraph’s voice.

“I’m with MacKenzie and Winston, Mr. McLintock,” Seraph said, referring to the multi-national insurance firm covertly fighting zombie outbreaks around the world. They also covertly funded the archeological dig Quentin joined, hoping to find answers behind the outbreaks. Seraph continued, “One of our armed response teams were dispatched to your location when you opened the weapons locker.”

“Turn them around!” Quentin said, “There’s a zombie outbreak here! I need you to connect me to Kenn Blanchard! I need zombie hunters here as fast as possible.” Seraph didn’t say anything. Quentin worried that he scared the woman off. Just as he felt he was alone, Seraph’s lovely voice returned.

“Skull Island has been notified Mr. McLintock,” Seraph said. “However, the team will be unable to reach your location for quite some time. One of our armed response lads is Zed-qualified. He will be at your current location within the half-hour.”

“I got a feeling I’ll be surrounded by the time your boy gets here,” Quentin said, looking out the window at the mass of undead stumbling and moaning towards Quentin.

“Might I suggest you evacuate the area or engage your opponents?” Seraph said without a hint of condescension.

“Neither is a real good option,” Quentin temporized. Quentin just couldn’t confess to this warm and assuring voice he couldn’t bring himself to shoot the corpses of his friends and colleagues. At least not right then.

“I understand your reluctance to engage the zombies Mr. McLintock,” Seraph answered, her voice conveying warm and compassionate understanding, “They were our friends and colleagues. If you can’t fight, what prevents you from retreating?”

“Because I have a prisoner related to the individual who caused this outbreak, and I’m not going to surrender him unless I have no choice,” Quentin said with deadly calm. Seraph was quiet for a long minute.

“I have relayed your situation to the responding individual,” Seraph said, “He should be joining you in approximately five minutes, so do try to avoid shooting him.” Quentin arched an eyebrow in a silent question. How was someone from an armed response team twenty to thirty minutes away suddenly appear in five? The moans of the undead tore him away from the quandary. The pre-fab building wasn’t the best fortification. The horde could probably push through the thin walls once the mass built up. Quentin peered out through a large window next to the front entrance. The shambling mass of animated corpses were staggering straight to the building. It was a loose horde, not the densely packed groups that were easier to whittle down and stop. It looked like every person in the camp except for Quentin and his prisoner were among the horde. It would take less than five minutes for the horde to swarm the building. Quentin took a deep breath. He hated it and was sure it would haunt his dreams for a long time, but he had to do what he was put on this Earth to do.

Quentin opened the front door. He brought up his M4 and sighted at the closest zombie. It was Kathy Walker. The cute little undergrad zoomed around the dig with a hyperkinetic need to help everyone do everything. Now she was a moaning, staggering undead with only a partially caved-in head to show how she died. She hadn’t even had time to decompose. Vibrant memories flashed before Quentin’s eyes. He heard the muffled laugh from the bound and gagged minion behind him. Sudden anger flared through Quentin’s body. Hot, seating rage boiled through his veins as the minion continued to laugh at Quentin’s inability to put down his former colleagues and friends. It was these intruders who killed these people and desecrated their bodies by turning them into zombies. The anger became too much. He snapped the rifle up and placed a round into the bridge of Kathy’s nose. The zombie toppled back and stopped moving.

Next was Jeffrey who hero-worshipped Quentin because of Quentin’s football career. He went down with a shot through the right eye. Then Autumn, the girl who feigned being a princess before getting her hands dirty with the rest of the crew. Marisol, who was hoping to find some link with her Aztec ancestors. Each shot bled a bit of Quentin’s rage and strengthened his guilt. The bolt locked back on an empty magazine. His rage spent, Quentin dropped the weapon. He couldn’t think what to do. He just looked at the oncoming zombies with faces that taunted and tormented him.

Quentin barely heard the loud, high-pitched screeching, but he saw the small armored figure barrel into the horde with a pair of clubs. Four zombies went down amidst a flurry of blows before the horde even noticed the speeding figure’s presence. The person buried the clubs into two more zombies before drawing two small Steyr TMP submachine guns. The zombies nearest the hurtling figure fell as the chattering of gunfire started. New memories flashed in Quentin’s mind as he watched the figure slide away from two lunging zombies an instant before putting both down with an impossible double shot. Memories of angry Australian whose dance of death defied the laws of nature and statistics. There was the same synergy of violence and motion, of grace and brutality. Quentin was transfixed.

It was danger that snapped Quentin out of his haze of guilt and memories. Not personal danger. The armored figure zigged when he should have zagged, and the corpse of Paul Jones snatched him off the ground. Paul Jones, the only person in the camp who even came close to matching Quentin in sheer muscle. The former star wrestler for California who was often mockingly called SOG, or Son Of Governor, in deference to California’s former-movie star chief executive. Quentin’s hand snatched the pistol out of the holster and double-tapped the zombie before Quentin even realized he was acting. The corpse of the once mighty man collapsed. Wordlessly, the armored person shucked off Paul’s lifeless corpse and finished off the last three zombies.

The person, Quentin really couldn’t tell the gender under all that armor, holstered the two TMPs before coolly walking into the midst of the carnage to retrieve the clubs. Quentin managed to pick up his own carbine and reload it as the armored figure strode back to Quentin, the featureless plate of armor hiding the face. The plate slid up as the person neared. A young face with distinctly Native American features. The man tucked his two clubs under his left arm and stuck out his hand.

“Hiya,” the young man said with a thick Brooklyn accent, “The name’s William Shakespear.”

Zombie Strike Part 3 Chapter 19

Friday Quote – themerrywriter

You can edit a bad book, but not a blank page.

© 2020 Derek Ward

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑