Teaser for Jake’s Law by J E Gurley
Jake Blakely was a Pima County Arizona deputy when the Staggers struck, the parasitic disease from the frozen tundra that first killed the infected, and then reanimated them as staggering, stumbling zombies. Unfortunately, the undead quickly became fast, deadly predators, killing everyone they encountered. As a die-hard survivalist and a loner by nature, Jake had prepared for an apocalyptic event, but a zombie plague had been low on his list of possibilities. In spite of the unlikely scenario, Jake was resourceful. He had food stockpiled. He had weapons and ammunition. His impregnable home in the mountains had water and solar power. He had a small patch for growing crops and pens for livestock. He hunted and scavenged. He established a personal set of rules to live by, Jake’s Laws. Law #1 – Aim high; shoot straight. Law #2 – In a lawless land, the biggest gun makes the laws, and Jake had a big gun. He wore his great-grandfather’s Arizona Ranger star to remind him that times had changed. The Arizona Rangers meted out justice from the barrels of their guns. Jake would follow their example. He survived by not challenging the thugs that preyed on the hapless, avoiding zombies when he could, and ignoring other survivors. It didn’t make him a wonderful person, as his ex-wife would attest, but it kept him alive. The one thing he didn’t expect was the loneliness.
Excerpt, Jake’s Law –
Jake was intent on reaching home, so intent that he almost failed to see the woman racing across the road, pursued by three fast zombies, Runners. He slammed on the brakes, sliding to a halt to miss her. One of the creatures focused its attention on him rather than the girl. Jake grabbed his crossbow and leaped from the jeep. His arrow struck the creature in the right side of its temple and passed completely through the skull in a fine spray of blood. The zombie took two faltering steps, teetered, and collapsed beside the road, rolling into a ditch. Before it hit the ground, Jake was in pursuit of the other two creatures.
The woman was fast, but she was clearly tiring. She stumbled, righted herself, and then stumbled again, this time falling and rolling across the ground. She picked herself up and saw that her pursuers were gaining. Changing directions, she raced toward a nearby building, limping slightly.
Jake stopped long enough to eliminate a second zombie with a bolt through its head, but the other Runner was too far away. He raced to catch up. The woman scrambled up on the flat roof of the building using a Palo Verde tree as a convenient ladder. At least she has more sense than to get herself cornered inside a building, he thought. When he got within range, he took steady aim and dropped the last Runner, who was intent on getting at the woman, clawing at the tree in rage. The woman noticed Jake but made no effort to vacate the roof.
“Come down. We have to go before more show up.”
She still didn’t budge. He was on the verge of leaving her, when she began to climb back down. As she did, a branch snapped, and she plunged ten feet to the ground. Jake watched her fall in slow motion, knowing he could never reach her in time. She landed with a sickening thud on her right side and lay there groaning. He rushed to help.
She was young, perhaps twenty-two or twenty-three, slim and athletic, but looked as though she had missed a meal or two lately. She looked up at him and grimaced, as she tried to sit up.
“I think I sprained my shoulder,” she said.
“Lucky you didn’t break your fool neck,” he replied a little harsher than he had intended, but continued, “What were you doing out here unarmed and baiting zombies?”
“I don’t like guns,” she said.
“Then keep dying a horrible death real high on your list of things to do, ‘cause that’s what’s going to happen to you.” He raised his crossbow into the air. Her eyes followed it. “Either you kill them, or they’ll kill you. Being a pacifist nowadays is a death wish. You can’t always depend on someone who doesn’t share your disdain for self-defense to help.”
“You’re a cop. Isn’t that what you do, save people?”
He didn’t feel like repeating his great-grandfather story about the badge. “I’m not a cop, and I normally don’t save people. Today was your lucky day. Now, why were you running?”
“My friends and I were holed up in a house a couple of miles away. Ben got careless on a food run and zombies followed him back. We didn’t know they were there until they broke the door down. One grabbed Liz.” She paused and closed her eyes. After a few seconds, she continued, “Ben tried to save her. They both died, horribly,” she added, looking up at him with a sneer. “I ran.”
She was angry with herself for deserting her friends. He decided to wise her up. “Smart move. They’re dead. You’re not.”
Some of the anger drained from her face. “I would be if not for you. By the way, my name is Jessica.”
Her sudden shift from disdain to praise caught him off guard and embarrassed him. He helped her to her feet using her good left arm. “You had better come with me, Jessica. I’ll see what I can do about that shoulder. Can you walk?”
She took a few uncertain steps. “I can manage, but my shoulder is numb.”
He noticed her right arm dangling loosely at her side. “You’ve dislocated your shoulder. Here.”
He handed her his crossbow, and then grabbed her right arm. Before she could protest, he pulled it outwards and up. She yelped in pain, as the bones slipped back into place.
“That hurt like hell,” she snapped, drawing back from him.
In the Army, he had become a Jack-of-all-trades. A little medical knowledge went a long way fifty clicks from the nearest medic. He knew how much pain he had caused her. “It will heal,” he replied. He took his crossbow from her. “Let’s go.”
She followed, limping badly. She had run a couple of miles wearing shorts and sandals with hungry zombies in hot pursuit. Her legs were covered with numerous scratches and scrapes. Several prickly pear cactus spines protruded from her flesh. Her t-shirt was ripped in several places, exposing one of her small, naked breasts through the fabric. He tried not to stare at it, but the sight stirred something in him. He fought it down, as he wrapped his arm around her waist to help her walk. She didn’t protest.
Back in the jeep, he offered her water and a protein bar he kept handy in case of an attack of hypoglycemia. She accepted both eagerly, downing the bar in three quick bites.
“Thanks,” she said, still chewing. “What’s your name?”
“Jake Blakely.” He fished another bar from his bag and handed it to her. “You can’t go back home,” he said.
She shook her head. “No, Jake, I can’t.” She glanced around. “I know the area. I’ll find some place safe.”
“And starve?” he asked. She didn’t reply. “Look, it’s not safe here. I’ve got a place north of here that’s secure, and I have plenty of food.” He wrinkled his nose. “I’ve got hot water for a shower, too. I don’t make any promises, but at least you’ll have a meal, a shower, and a place to sleep tonight.”
She looked at him undecided. He guessed at the reason for her caution.
“If I wanted to rape you or kill you, I could easily do it now, and I wouldn’t have had to waste precious protein bars.”
She smiled sheepishly at him. “You’re right. I’m being foolish. I accept.”
“Just as long as you know I’m not adopting you. When your wounds heal, you’re gone.”
“Fair enough. I don’t want to be a bother.”
“Too late for that,” he replied, as he cranked the jeep, mentally kicking himself for ignoring Jack’s Law #4 – Don’t bring home more problems than you left with. Especially a good looking problem, he added.
* * * * *
The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!
Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!
#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!