Authors: Rhiannon Frater
Tags: #Anthologies, #Science Fiction, #Horror, #Young Adult, #Adult
AS THE WORLD DIES
Untold Tales: Eric’s Story
As The World Dies
story was written over a two year span in a series of mini-chapters that were posted on a somewhat regular schedule. I accidentally began what would be my zombie epic when I quickly wrote down a zombie short story and posted it to two different forums. The response to the story was immediately positive and people wanted to know where the rest of it was.
I hadn’t even considered that there was more to the story, but as the encouraging words continued to hit my email box, I realized there was more story to tell. I traveled far and wide over the great state of Texas for my job as a governmental consultant and spent many hours on the road. My experiences in small towns in Texas inspired me to write my zombie epic about a small town in the middle of nowhere Texas where a group of survivors band together to fight the undead and somehow pioneer a new life for themselves.
Since the story was written in mini-chapters on my laptop as I sat in my hotel room at night, some of the characters did not get all the attention I wanted to give them. In rural Texas finding a decent Internet connection is sometimes impossible and I often couldn’t check on the forums to see what I had or had not written
Eric was one of the characters that was swept to one side by my busy schedule and crazy writing spurts. Though I always saw him in my mind’s eye as a valuable part of the Fort and adored his character, he always seemed to end up just off screen.
As The World Dies
is a trilogy and the first book is coming out in the Summer of 2008, I have decided to revisit that world and make things right with a few of the minor characters.
This is the first of the untold tales of
As The World Dies
I hope you enjoy it.
All is Calm
Eric’s eyelids slowly fluttered open as the full force of the morning sun struck his face. With a slow, painful moan, he turned his head away from the beam of bright sunlight that was reflecting off the stained glass edging the tall windows of the bedroom. Evidently the sun had been cooking his left arm for a few minutes. It felt hot as he laid it across his chest to get it out of the sun. His right arm was dead to him. Brandy was laying on top of it in all her tanned, smooth skinned glory. Her streaked blond hair was hanging over her face and she had shoved the covers off both of them in her sleep. She was naked, gorgeous and snoring loudly.
It took some work to get her off his arm. He had to shove her a few times and she thrashed a little, striking his chin with one elbow before rolling over and continuing her snores. Struggling to sit up, he rubbed his arm and looked at the digital clock on the antique bed stand next to the four poster bed. It was nearly eleven o'clock in the morning.
His movements reminded him of how much wine he had consumed the night before and his vision swam as his brain quivered in his skull. The annoying wine hangover was in full force.
Leaning over, he managed to find his boxers in the heap of clothes next to the bed and pull them on. His legs were the pale, skinny, hairy opposite of Brandy's incredible gams. But then again, he slogged away in an office ten hours a day while she jogged and played tennis between her modeling jobs. It still amazed him that he was dating such an amazingly beautiful woman when he was a tall, gawky average looking guy.
Scratching his thigh as he walked to the bathroom, he noted the three bottles of wine strewn next to the bed and the remains of their gourmet meal tucked away on a silver tray next to the door. The bed and breakfast wouldn't tidy up until they left for the day or set the tray outside the door. He opened the door and shoved the tray out with one foot and then added the wine bottles for good measure.
Behind him, Brandy snored on.
Outside the birds sang and the wind rustled the limbs of the huge pecan trees hovering over the reconstructed farmhouse. It was a comforting sound. He took a moment to look out the window into the garden and saw it was empty save for a cat gingerly making its way across the stone walkway.
The shower was hot and refreshing and he was amazed at how sore he felt. But then again, it had been a sexual marathon the likes he had never done before. After weeks of working on a major project, he had finally had the chance to take time off and spend it with Brandy. It was obvious he had been neglecting her in a certain area and she had been demanding and exciting. As he soaped up his rather shabby chest, he once more vowed to work out and get into shape. Luckily, his clothes hid his slowly expanding stomach and still gave the impression of him being lean and long, but that would only last for so long before he headed into the uncomfortable world of being overweight. His head throbbed from the wine as he washed his medium brown hair that so perfectly matched his medium brown eyes. Everything about him was just medium, except for his girlfriend. She was exceptional.
Most of his friends hated her, but he decided this was about jealousy. They complained she was spoiled and he knew, guiltily, that this was true. He always bought her the best of everything, from her car to her clothes. She kept their home immaculate and always made him feel wonderful. They did occasionally have fierce battles, but mostly because he was still uncomfortable with his growing wealth and she was not. He still tended to keep a penny jar and buy his clothes at JC Penny.
Dressing in Dockers and a button down shirt (but he did roll up the sleeves and unbutton the collar), he stood in front of misty mirror in the bathroom and took a deep breath.
Today was the day. He was going to ask her to marry him. He had been carrying around a 4-carat diamond (she had told him from day one she would settle for nothing less) for weeks now and last night he had chickened out. Or perhaps had just been distracted by her throwing off her clothes. Either way, he had not pulled out the little blue box with the diamond ring inside.
"Okay, Eric, today. Today you're going to do it." He put on his glasses, nodded to himself, and walked out into the bedroom.
Brandy was still asleep, still snoring and now had one long leg dangling off the bed.
"When she wakes up," he murmured and let himself out of their room.
The hall and stairway was empty as he hurried down to the kitchen. The proprietor of the bed and breakfast, a woman in her early forties with masses of red hair, was standing in the doorway as he approached. Mrs. Waskom was completely absorbed in the small TV resting on the counter and jumped when he touched her arm.
"Oh, Mr. Hertzenburger, you gave me a start!"
"I'm so sorry, Mrs. Waskom. I just wanted to see if I could get brunch for me and my girlfriend?"
Mrs. Waskom nodded as her gaze slid back to the TV. "Of course. I can have it set up for you in the dining room unless you want to eat in your room or on the patio?"
Eric glanced toward the TV and saw a scene of mayhem that made him inhale sharply. "Is that Iraq?"
"No," Mrs. Waskom answered. "It's Chicago."
The TV screen was filled with the view of a smoke filled street. Bloodied figures were stumbling through falling debris as a large building crumbled slowly into the crowd.
"Oh, God," Eric gasped.
"A plane crashed," Mrs. Waskom explained. "It just went down into the neighborhood."
"Terrorists?" Eric swallowed hard.
"They're not saying," the woman answered and wiped a tear away.
Blackened figures struggled toward the news reporter giving her solemn take on the scene. Fire trucks continued to arrive behind her as the charred victims scrambled desperately toward the arriving rescuers. It was horrifying to behold.
"Eric," Brandy's voice whined behind him.
He quickly turned around to find her standing in the hallway, her silk robe wrapped around her. Her long hair fell around her face in a sexy mess and she pouted at him.
"Brandy, I was getting us brunch."
"I woke up and you weren't there," she said grumpily.
"I'm sorry, baby." He rushed toward her then stopped and said to the distracted owner. "Brunch on the patio will be perfect."
Mrs. Waskom again started at the sound of his voice then nodded. Flipping off the TV, she moved deeper into the kitchen. "It will be out in fifteen minutes."
Brandy tugged at his belt and looked up at him through her thick lashes. "I don't like it when you just leave me."
"I'm sorry, honey. I am. Why don't you get dressed and we'll have brunch?"
Her lips were soft against his and she snuggled into his side. "Okay. But no more TV. You promised me I would have you all to myself."
"Okay. No more TV," he promised.
Not Quite Right
“You said that you weren't going to ignore me," Brandy exclaimed as they entered their room. She spun about on her bare heel to glare at him.
"I'm not, honey. I was arranging for us to eat. The TV was on and-"
"Eric, you said no TV. No phone calls. No gaming. That is what you said."
"The cell phone is off. I didn't bring my computer. And the TV in here is unplugged. I swear. This time is only about you," he swore. He was eager to placate her so they could move on.
At times her anger at him not paying attention to her was a bit frightening. Once, she had deleted his primary World of Warcraft character after he had played all evening. In one fell swoop, he lost two years of endless grinding and all the gear he had obtained. It had been a huge blow, but as she sobbed at his computer that he didn't love her as much as the game, he understood that she needed to know he loved her. That was when he bought her a new car and swore off gaming except for one night a week.
She sniffled a little and swept her hair back from her face. Her eyes were hazel and sometimes looked like amber. Thick eyelashes made her eyes sultry and intense. Her long brown hair had huge streaks of blond through it and its very expensive cut made it look amazing no matter how long she had slept on it. The smattering of light freckles on her turned up nose made her adorable.
Taking her in his arms, he kissed her lips and said, "This is all about you. I promise."
"Okay," she said with a little smile. "I forgive you."
He kissed her again and held her close. "Why don't you take a shower and I'll go get Pepe and take him for a walk. We can meet out on the patio for brunch."
"Okay." She slid from his arms and sauntered toward the bathroom. "Make sure he doesn't smell."
"I promise," Eric answered and let himself out of the room and hurried down the stairs to the front door.
The main draw to the Crystal Waters Farm and Bed and Breakfast had been that they allowed guests to bring their pets. For an additional fee, there was on onsite kennel so that visitors could enjoy their vacation and not leave their furry little companion at home. Eric strode out past the gardens and out the gate toward the old barn that loomed nearby. Next to it was a small building that was the kennel for the visiting pets.
Gloria, a small Hispanic woman, greeted him when he entered the building. There were four kennels for the four available suites in the Bed and Breakfast and Pepe was the only dog visiting. The small Jack Russell terrier instantly jumped to his feet and ran to the door his tail wagging.
"Has he been okay?"
"A perfect angel," Gloria assured him. "I took him for a walk earlier and he was very excited to see the squirrels."
"That's my boy," Eric said with a grin. "A rough and tough hunter of vermin."
Gloria swung open the door and the tiny dog leaped into his arms. He was quickly covered in dog saliva as he was given the messiest of dog kisses, but he laughed and held the dog tightly.