I’m 17 days into National Novel Writing Month, and I thought it high time to share my novel with my favorite readers.
Here’s a few things I’d like you to keep in mind:
I still don’t have a title. Titles take me for-e-ver to come up with, so for now my Working Title is War Heroes, Bandits and Zombies.
This is a very rough 1st draft. 1st drafts are always rough, but this being NaNoWriMo I have thrown caution and grammar to the wind and have been writing like there’s no tomorrow. I haven’t even gone back to read over my work until tonight. And I’m not allowing myself to edit yet. SO, no this isn’t my best work, but it is my work and I’m proud of it all the same. =)
And HERE is my back cover synopsis!
One year after the Civil War, the west is as much a foreign, unclaimed land as it is Territories and States. Cut off from the rest of the nation, the corrupt border town of Boracho, Texas is completely unaware of the true reason the Confederacy fell and the hell that is coming straight for them –
A rag tag group of Union and Confederate Vets have dedicated themselves to fighting the zombie plague and halting it’s westward expansion. When they reach Boracho, will there be anything left? And will what’s left be worth saving?
What do you think? Tell me in the COMMENTS section!
The excerpt I’m sharing with you takes place in the middle of the first chapter. My main character (MC) is Union Captain Frank Barlow. He and his men are separated from their company and are trying to get back. They’ve just battled and won a fight against a small Confederate faction. And scene…
Excerpt, War Heroes, Bandits and Zombies
Captain Frank Barlow led the men ahead through the woods. The Confederate flag he’d taken rested against his shoulder, the flag itself wrapped tight around the pole. He kept his eyes open wide as possible to let in as much as the bluing light as he could.
Owls hooted in the trees. Crickets and frogs croaked in harmony. The steady footsteps of the soldiers kept the tempo of this nighttime orchestra.
The men marched on. No one spoke. Their heads and eyes were constantly scanning the shadows for life.
Suddenly a gun blasted from the right. A scream from behind. Another gun shot from the left.
“Defensive positions!” Corporal Foley yelled.
“We’re under attack!” Cap Frank seconded.
Just as he was reaching for his rifle a man came hooping and flying down upon him. The steel of a hatchet gleamed in the waning light. Frank grasped the flag pole in both hands and held it up before his face for protection.
With a harsh crack the pole broke and splintered in half.
The Rebel in front of him raised his hatchet high above his head and sliced down at Frank.
Frank blocked the blow with the pole in his left hand. He spun the right pole, unraveling the flag and then tossed it onto the rebel. The starred and barred flag wrapped around the man’s head, giving Frank enough time to put space between he and his foe and draw out his sabre.
The rebel soldier ripped the flag from his face. His eyes were wide and wild. His face was covered in brown stubble, and a white bandage was wrapped over his right ear and around his head, disappearing for a moment under his gray cap.
Frank lifted his sword overhead in box position. The rebel licked his lips, bent his knees and tossed his hatchet from hand to hand. He was not about to back down.
Captain Barlow lunged, swinging his sword down at the man. He cut, sliced and jabbed at his enemy, but this confederate dodged and deflected every strike. Turning in synchronization they blocked and lashed out at each other, their steel clanging and shining.
“We’re surrounded,” O’Rourke shrieked.
Munson sent his bayonet up through a rebel’s jaw and through his head. He dropped his rifle with the man, and pulled his Colt revolver from his belt. Spinning around he blasted a confederate soldier in the face. He grabbed the panicked O’Rourke by the collar, threw him to the ground and shot yet another soldier through the eye.
While the melee ensued, back in the former battle field, a dead soldiers hand twitched.
The man who’d been stabbed by Private O’Rourke, began to stir. First his fingers twisted and fidgeted. Then his feet began to turn side to side. A gravely, choking sigh escaped from the open mouth.
Across the bloodied field, the same was happening to each of the dead. Fidgeting, twitching, and choking.
Hand to hand combat continued between Frank’s men and the Rebels. Shouts, random gun shots and the thudding of fists reverberated off the tree trunks. On the ground at Munson’s feet, O’Rourke curled into a ball and covered his head with his hands. Munson kept the onslaught at bay with his double action pistol, but they were steadily closing in.
Frank and the hatchet man circled each other. With sharp eyes he noted every move his enemy made. The other man’s eyes were hardened and black, giving nothing away.
“There’s more coming!” Erikson screamed.
The hatchet man lunged. Frank side stepped him and sliced his sword across the man’s face. The hatchet chopped into his left bicep. Pain ripped through Frank’s arm as the hatchet and the man slipped to the ground.
Turning to face his men, he saw dozens more gray coats emerging from the trees. Before him the ground was littered in heaps of Union blue and Confederate gray. Taking swift inventory, there appeared to only be twenty or so left fighting in his unit.
“There’s too many, Cap!” Foley called, tugging his bayonet out of a Rebel’s chest.
“Retreat! Fall back, men! Run!” Captain Frank shouted the first retreat of his life.
Corporal Foley backed his way towards Frank. He loaded his rifle as he moved.
“You have to get on, Cap. You’re an officer. They’ll try to take you prisoner ‘fore they’ll kill you. You have to get on.”
Captain Barlow grabbed his corporal’s shoulder. “I’ll try and draw them off. You get these men to safety. Get them to higher ground. You know what to do.”
Foley turned to look his captain in the eye. A fleeting, though heavy moment passed between them. In his reddened, sweat soaked face and his wide but serious eyes, Frank saw a good man who should never have been here. He should have been on a whaling boat in the Atlantic, not fighting for his life in the woods of Pennsylvania.
Even so, Corporal Foley raised his right hand to his brow and held it rigidly in place.
Frank raised his hand and saluted his comrade.
Foley turned and shouted “Unit, retreat –“
A gun boomed and red exploded from Foley’s chest.
His arms flailed from the impact, tossing his rifle from his hand. He staggered back two steps then fell like a tree.
Frank caught him around his shoulders before he hit the ground. Watery eyed, Foley stared longingly at the sky. Blood bubbled out of his chest like water from a natural spring. His eyes rolled slowly back into his head. He expired.
“No! Stop! Stop!”
One of the confederates who had just emerged from the woods had wrapped his arms around another gray soldier. The new comer drug the man to the ground. Three other confederates lumbered toward the man and tossed themselves on top of him in a pile.
“What the hell are you doin’? We’re friendlies.” Another Rebel was saying as another gray soldier staggered towards him, arms outstretched.
Erikson stood from a brawl he’d been fighting on the ground. Heeding the retreat he sprinted to the thick of the woods. A rebel from out of nowhere launched into the air and tackled him to the ground.
He scrambled to get away. The rebel clenched on to Erikson’s shoulders. He raised his head, opening his mouth wide and then – a blood curdling scream.
“Holy Jesus, he’s biting him.” Said Munson.
A mud covered rebel came running and flailing from the trees. Munson leveled his revolver and blasted the man in the chest. He flew back and to the ground.
Munson reached down and hauled O’Rourke up to his feet.
“Damn it boy! Put that gun to use. We got to get out of this.”
Shaking, O’Rourke pulled his rifle from off his shoulder. His fingers went numb and the gun fumbled to the ground. Munson fired off another round. O’Rourke’s ears rang like a church chime. He finally fetched his gun just as he saw a man in gray lunging towards him.
O’Rourke turned, closed his eyes, and fired his weapon.
Peeking through his lashes, he saw the man who’d come after him lying dead on the ground. A black hole smoked on the back of his head.
“Good shot, Rourkie.” Munson cheered. “But if I ever catch you shooting with your eyes closed again, I’ll kill you myself.”
More and more gray coated soldiers poured from the trees. They advanced steadily, resolutely, but they walked. There was no line formation, no apparent form of attack. Forward they marched, grasping out at whomever they came to first – blue or gray – and taking that poor soul screaming to the ground.
Their weapons, Frank noticed. They don’t have any weapons.
Three rebel soldiers ran right past him. They made no attempt at hurting him nor capturing him, even though it surely would have won them three weeks furlough and a promotion. He turned and watched as they scampered off, both taking a right turn at the same time.
“Munson! O’Rourke! This way,” Cap called. Those fleeting soldiers knew where they were going, and there had to be better than here.
O’Rourke cocked his rifle, took aim and shot another approaching soldier through the stomach. Munson clamped a hand on his shoulder and pulled him back towards the captain. O’Rourke felt it comforting to have the big man with him.
Frank slung his rifle from off his body and, grimacing against the pain in his left arm, raised it and shot a running, clambering solider in the chest. The soldier spun completely around. He stumbled side to side, then paused catching his balance. The soldier’s head slowly turned and looked up at Frank.
Frank gasped and took a step back, appalled.
This soldier’s face was a pale sickly green. Thick, tarry blood oozed from his mouth. He coughed, spluttering the bloody substance through the air. His lips pulled back into a vicious snarl. Keeping his pale eyes on Frank, he screamed an angry, raspy, croaking scream.
Chills ran across Frank’s entire body. His heart raced. The color drained from his face.
“Run,” He whispered, but his feet remained stuck to the ground.
Frank, O’Rourke and Munson turned on their heels and ran for their sorry lives.
The hatchet man slowly pushed himself up to his feet. Blood poured from a deep gash cut from his cheek to the corner of his mouth. He blinked against the pain and struggled to focus.
Three Union soldiers ran towards him. He picked his hatchet up from the ground and braced himself. They might kill him, but not before he made them bleed for it first.
He recognized the soldier in front as the captain he’d been battling. The captain’s sword bounced in its sheath against his thigh. His rifle was clutched in his right hand while his left arm stayed tucked in to his chest. As he came closer, the rebel realized that this wasn’t an attack.
The captain’s face was white as alabaster. Fear and panic lit up all three sets of eyes. This wasn’t an organized charge. These men were fleeing.
Frank brushed by the hatchet man without as much as a glance. O’Rourke and Munson kept close to his heels. Behind them, he could hear the heavy footsteps and groans of the rebels closing in.
“What’s wrong wit’em?” O’Rourke asked.
“Damned crazy, that’s what,” Munson shouted.
“Keep running,” Cap ordered.
He took the turn he’d seen the other confederates take and found himself on a trail. They were able to run much faster on the well packed dirt trail. Though they picked up momentum, they could still hear the rebels crunching in behind them.
Frank noticed someone running up beside him. He looked over, expecting to see Munson. Instead, the dark eyes and bloodied face of the hatchet man met his. They exchanged looks of wide eyed terror, and then the hatchet man darted off ahead of them.
“Oh no, they’re coming closer!” O’Rourke screamed.
Up ahead the trail widened into a grove of oak trees. The three confederates that had first ran past Frank were sitting up high in one of the trees. They called out to the hatchet man and waved their arms at Frank and his men.
“Hurry! Up here!”
“Get up a tree,” Cap ordered.
Munson and O’Rourke broke off and scrambled up to the top branches of a thick oak.
Frank sprinted for the tree dead ahead of him. The hatchet man had already climbed up to the first limb. Frank jumped and grabbed on to the first branch, but the deep cut in his left arm made it impossible to grasp. His hands slid off the wood and he landed back on his feet.
He looked over his shoulder. Gobs of gray coats moved down the trail and headed straight towards him. He backed into the tree.
“Here,” The hatchet man called.
Frank looked up. With his legs wrapped around the trunk, the hatchet man leaned down and reached a hand out to Frank. Frank took it with his right hand. The hatchet man began to pull him up. Frank dug the toes of his boots into the tree for leverage as the man grabbed him by the belt to hoist him up.
Two hands latched around Frank’s ankle. He tried to kick them off, but the hands held tight. He looked down. It was the soldier he’d shot in the chest.
The soldier pulled Frank’s foot down from the tree. Frank grabbed on to the tree branch and the hatchet man kept his grip on Frank’s belt. The soldier kept pulling, stretching his leg down and farther from the tree.
The soldier opened his mouth and bit into the heel of Frank’s boot.
A blast from a gun, and the soldier slipped to the ground, pulling Frank’s boot off with him.
Cap scrambled up the tree limb and kept his feet as far away from the crowd of gray soldiers below him as he could.
The soldiers stared blankly, almost blindly up at the two men in the tree. They’re arms stretched out and hands held open like children waiting for sweets. They growled and groaned and clumsily slapped at the tree limbs.
One of the mob turned suddenly, his nose in the air. He croaked, and black phlegm sprayed from his mouth. Waving his arms as though he were swimming he staggered to the tree O’Rourke and Munson had climbed. Four other soldiers noticed this one leaving and followed after in the same fashion.
The remaining soldiers coughed and sputtered their way to the middle tree, where the three confederates had hid. And just like the horde below Frank and the hatchet man, they slapped at the tree branches and reached for the men.
Frank turned to the hatchet man.
“Friends of yours?”
Please share your thoughts in the Comments section! Thank you for reading!