Tag Archives: Deserted Lands

Twosies Sale?

NewCoversBkI&IIIn honor of the 2nd anniversary of the release of ALL IS SILENCE and the launch of the Deserted Lands series in February 2014, I am having a sale on all of my currently available works of fiction. In November I did an Elevensies Sale, so in February, I’m doing a Twosies Sale. In the 22 days around and leading up to 2/22/2016 readers can get every one of my e-book works for a total of under $10 on Amazon Kindle. Or both DESERTED LANDS novels on e-book for under $10 from Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. Or you can get either print novel signed and shipped for $11 each.  That’s $22 for 2!

TWOSIES SCHEDULE:

ALL IS SILENCE – Deserted Lands Book I. $2.99. Reg. $4.99. February 1-29Kindle. Kobo. Nook. Smashwords. Print $11.00 [including shipping and handling – regular price $15.]

STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS – Deserted Lands Book II. $5.99. Reg. $6.99. February 1-29Kindle. Kobo. Nook. Smashwords. Print $11.00 [including shipping and handling – regular price $16.]

TOILS AND SNARES – A short novel of the Deserted Lands. $0.99 Reg. $2.99. February 2-8. Kindle.

One Tin SoldierFREE. Reg. $0.99. February 6-8, 16-17. Kindle.

Just DesertFREE. Reg. $0.99. February 1-5Kindle.

Outward BoundFREE. Reg. $0.99. February 11-15Kindle.

I have only THREE copies left of the original pressing of my debut Singer/Songwriter CD – Some of the Parts.  I have several copies of the family poetry book, Blue Deer, that my mom released. I also have quite a few ALL IS SILENCE T-SHIRTS. Only in February you can get any two of the three: CD/Poetry Book/T-Shirt for only $11.

And the last TWOSIES deal. All Four of my ebooks as signed download Signed Download cardscards, available for all major ebook platforms. Also, only $11.00 including shipping. Regular price $23.96 See more info on download cards here.

New Mannie and Saj scene in Screenplay format

So, the formatting didn’t come through from the word processor, but here’s a little scene I wrote from a writing prompt I gave my Creative Writing students for dialogue practice. Then they put it into screenplay format. Not sure if it will make it into Book III, but it captures some of the essence of Mannie and Saj!

NO MAN’S LAND

EXT: A SMALL HOUSE IN PROVO, UTAH. NEAR FUTURE/POST PANDEMIC.

FADE IN:

INT: MANNIE’S DINING ROOM

Saj is putting his green beans in the toy truck.

MANNIE
Saj, what are you doing?

SAJ
Not doing.

MANNIE
Why are you putting the beans in the Tonka truck? You’re supposed to eat the beans.

SAJ
Not beans. Logs.

MANNIE
Okay, Saj. Why are you putting the logs in the truck?

SAJ
Take home. Put in fire.

MANNIE
Those are your dinner.

SAJ
They green. Not like green.

MANNIE
(Sigh.) I understand.

SAJ
(Hopeful.) You eat?

MANNIE
I’ll eat mine later.

SAJ
Put you logs in my truck. Don’t eat.

MANNIE
(Trying to be patient.) Eat. Your. Beans.

SAJ
Don’t eat logs.

MANNIE
We don’t waste food in my house. (Stern.) You need to eat your beans.

SAJ
You eat yours.

MANNIE
I will.

SAJ
Show me.

MANNIE
There.

He eats one.

I ate one. Now you.

SAJ
There.

He eats one.

I ate one. Now you.

MANNIE
Two.

SAJ
Two.

MANNIE
Three.

SAJ
Free.

The doorbell rings.

MANNIE
I’ll be back. You eat more beans. Four.

Mannie goes to the door. Saj puts two beans on Mannie’s plate.

SAJ
(Quiet.) Two. (Loud.) Four.

END SCENE

Who is at the door? I don’t know… Lizzie? Zach? Jess?

Short Help Me List & Desert Club invite.

1.  Please vote for ALL IS SILENCE in Wattpad’s STORY OF THE YEAR contest! It’s one of the top 150 Wattpad stories, but they’re letting readers with Twitter accounts vote. If you don’t have a twitter account, you can still spread the word. You may have to search Slater to find it. It’s currently hovering around #60.

2. Lizzie Goodin-Guerrero loves music. Pretty much everything from before her third birthday in 2004. Monday, January 11th was her 14th birthday! So, if there are songs you think she would listen to or songs to listen to while reading a certain part of her story, please send them to me. I’ll post it under the fun tab.

3. Join The Desert Club shirt[Like the Breakfast Club, but pronounced like dessert!). If you’re a fan of the Deserted Lands you can become a ‘Deserter’ and get a FREE ALL IS SILENCE T-Shirt and the opportunity for more special prizes! Come find out more at the Desert Club page.

January Smorgasblog

Okay. Here’s a random list of catch up things for January. 11 in November, 12 in December… Should be either 1 or 13 in January, no? Well, somewhere in between. Here we go.

0. [inserted last] Today is Lizzie’s 14th birthday! Born 1/11/2002.

1. My friend and writing mentor Holly Lisle’ s Memory of Fire (World Gates Series) is on a special price for Amazon Kindle = $0.99.

My review: Great opening to a cool universe. Pretty classic parallel universe with lots of nice twists. Strong females! Yeah. Be happy that they are all out so you don’t have to wait read them all like I did! I can’t find my paperbacks, so now I can have it on ebook! Holly Lisle writes books you can’t put down. This is no exception. 

Currently #211 paid in the Kindle store! Check out her stuff at her websites: [Her Books & Blog] [Her Writing Classes]

2. First Convention booking WeAreAllSFfor 2016. WE ARE ALL SCIFI. NOV. 4–6, 2016 ♦ OCEAN SHORES.

Join Tor editor Beth Meacham, authors Jennifer Brozek, Nancy Kress, Jody Lynn Nye, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Raven Oak, Mike Resnick, David Gerrold, William F. Nolan, James E. Gunn, Angela Korra’ti and many, many more TBA for a fun con at the beach! Kid friendly!

Our other Guests of Honor include Celebrity Guest of Honor Drew Hobson (Grimm, voice actor, State of Decay & more), Games GoH Scott Hungerford, and musical guests Dara Korra’ti (Crime and the Forces of Evil) …and games, costumes, writing workshops, panels, dances…

See you there.

3. We now have the first two members of The Desert Club, a street team of Deserted Lands fans. Want to help? Want a FREE ALL IS SILENCE T-shirt? Click on the link.

4. Oh, and have I asked you to read Toils and Snares? Yes? A hundred times? Are you sure? Are you exaggerating. Only a little? Would you leave an honest review? You haven’t finished it? It’s on your Kindle? I’m needy? Did I tell you why? Did I mention that BookBub promos usually have over 20 reviews and I have 19? You’d tell me if I was that author, right? Oh, I wasn’t but I am now? Yes, in fact, we did play the game of questions in Drama at school. I lost? That was a statement? Oh. You’re right. Sorry.   

5. November’s Elevensies sale sold 111 ebooks, at least that was my count until one final sale came through from November on iBooks. So, 112. Probably biggest month ever for number of sales, but adding in promotional costs made it a less than average month in income. Still a lot more people have read one or more of the Deserted Lands series. I’m planning on doing another sale near my birthday in February and the date of ALL IS SILENCE’s print publication.

6. Some personal goings on you can check up on the non-writing blog. I’m working on lowering stress levels by finishing old projects, getting rid of shtuff, reading more, exercising more and rebooting my relationship with alcohol. Planning on blogging about these processes there, interspersed with non-alcoholic drink recipes and food to go along with them.

7. Working on building a library at Windward High School where I teach. So, moving books from my house thataway as well as donating a bunch of my books to worthy causes like Heinlein for Heroes, Books for troops, alternative high school and juvenile detention center libraries. If you would like to donate to my school library, let me know!

December Smorgasblog – Keep Warm and Dry

12 mini-blog posts for the Holidays. If the weather gets too bad, curl up with a book or an e-book.

A stand-alone parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE.
A stand-alone parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE.

I’m re-submitting Toils and Snares for a FREE [Free for the reader, not for me! ;-)] promotion at BookBub today.  If you have read Toils and Snares, please leave an honest review here. In order to successfully submit a book to BookBub, they want enough reviews to be certain it is good enough for the people who subscribe to their service. If you are willing to read and review it, I will send you a FREE ebook copy of it to read. Just send me an e-mail or comment at the bottom of this post. Thanks.

My first novel,  ALL IS SILENCE, won a WATTYS 2015 Award for Collector’s Dream. Wattpadders can add books they want to read to their Collections and they made it one of the the most-added stories of 2015.  Today there are three easy ways to buy ALL IS SILENCE:

  1. KOBO 30% off ebook – $2.79 with this link and code DEC30
  2. Still waiting for Amazon to put the kindle version at the $3.99 price, so it’s $2.99 for now here.
  3. Want a print version? Go to Village Books and get SIGNED COPIES of one or both of my books in time for the holidays with only $0.99 shipping.

I’m having a great month on Kobo. STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS is being featured on their Science Fiction Next Picks lineup and ALL IS SILENCE is in their December 30 as mentioned above.

In December I will be making appearances at the following events and locations. Come see me there.

  • December 10, 2015. 5:00PM until 8:00PM. Holiday Book FestivalBellingham Cruise Terminal. 17 local authors. Signing, chatting and selling. I’ll have books, t-shirts & ebook download cards.
  • December 12, 2015: GIFTS FOR GEEKS II. 2:00pm – 9:00pm AFK Elixirs & Eatery. Signing, chatting and selling: books, t-shirts and ebook download cards.
  • I’ll be visiting the Whatcom County Juvenile Detention center to talk to the kids there and donate some books.

Join my ‘street team’ The Desert Club [Pronounced Dessert club so it’s a play on The Breakfast Club which Lizzie loves.] and help me promote my books to new readers.

On my personal blog I’ve a post about drivers, the inattentive and tentative, titled Drive South [a nod to one of my faves: John Hiatt…]

Pintado’s cover art for ALL IS SILENCE is up for another award at COVER WARS. You can vote everyday! Scroll to the bottom to vote.

And a partridge in a pear tree…

Partnering with your Brick and Mortar Bookstores

I realize that I have already written a love letter of a blog to Village Books, but in this time of Thanksgiving, I wanted to thank them again and tell you what they have done for me lately and what I hope to do for them.

They have partnered with me to sell ebook download cards, sort of cutting edge and so far not a lot of sales. This is what the signed download cards look like. Click for a larger picture.Signed Download cards

I can even sign them with a metallic pen. They’re like collectable cards. The cover art is cool enough to display even at that small size.  I’m hopeful this will be another tool to put control of an author’s intellectual property and sales firmly in their own hands, as well as offering a way for brick and mortar bookstores to sell e-books to their customers who would like them.

They have also agreed to send folks MY SIGNED BOOKS, SHIPPED TO YOU FOR ONLY $0.99! They go slower than standard shipping, so if you want them by the holidays, order them now. If you want a special personalized inscription, include that in the notes when you check out. It’s the only place on the planet besides my hands that you can get a signed hard-cover of ALL IS SILENCE, part of a limited print run of 50!

Sam from Village Books invited me to come hang out, talk to readers and sell books during Small Business Saturday and Indies First! So last night, I got to meet a bunch of Village Book patrons, talk about apocalyptic politics and other fascinating subjects, as well as give away some of the above mentioned e-book cards. I only signed and sold one of my own books, but it was lovely to be home. I even had a customer come up to me to tell me they’d read and enjoyed the first book!

 

AIS Extras Part V: Second Ending Part II

The Semi-Mega-Sad Ending. Part II

This is the second part of the second ending. A little over the top, but certainly different from the first happy ending.

Today you can get all three of my Deserted Lands e-books for under $11 for the “This Sale Goes to Elevensies” Sale!

~L~

“All right, Zach. We’ll see you when you catch us.” Lizzie hung up the phone. She hit the bar that said Glen. His tired voice answered. “Glen? Are you okay?”

“Well. I got some food. They’ve got me. I am no longer a free agent. But they are as interested in preserving what I’ve got here as I am. It ought to be fine.”

“I hope so,” Lizzie said. “Good luck. We’re headed south.”

“All of you?” He asked.

“Yeah. Pretty soon. We’re supposed to meet the others. Dad’s gone on ahead.” She laughed. “I’m on a school bus full of rejects. Rejects for the birthers that is.”

“I don’t get it.”

“The Redeemer let us go. I talked him into the political thing. Get rid of the

troublemakers.”

“Like you?”

“Yeah. Like me and my kind.” The bus shook itself loose as the pulled onto the main road. She could hear it coughing. Probably hadn’t been driven since last school year. She leaned her knees against the thick green pad on the back of the seat in front of her. “Thanks again, Glen.” She laughed. “At some point I will get you more Mountain Dew.”

“You better. Glad you’re okay. I was worried for a bit.”

“Yeah, me too. Later, Glen.”

“Call me if you need something.”

“I always do.” She hung up and watched as the city of Provo faded into the distance. The rumble of the bus threatened to put her to sleep just like it had when she was a kid. Every field trip she’d ever been on, she’d woken up with her hair mussed and lucky if no one had pulled any jokes like writing on her face or putting M&Ms in her nose.
The bus lurched and she felt the breaks locking and unlocking as it slid to a stop. “Shit.” That came from the bus driver.

Lizzie pulled herself to her feet up over the giant padded seat. “Shit.” A row of men with guns was strung out from a couple of trucks. “What the fuck? Collectors?”

“Maybe worse.”

A gun smashed the bus door. A hand reached in and pulled it open. “Everybody out.”

“What the hell? We have safe passage guaranteed by the Redeemer.”

The guy who seemed to be in charge grinned humorlessly. “I’m afraid you’re already out the Redeemer’s territory. Sorry.” He shoved her toward the back of the bus. “Women to the back. Men to the front.” Somebody had pulled open the emergency hatch in the back and was forcing people out.

Lizzie stumbled forward into a group and slid her cell phone from her pocket. She hit text and Zach. ‘Need help now. South of Provo. Freeway.’ She glanced around. ‘Woods. Exit 263. University Ave.’

“Hey, you.” An ugly voiced called.

Lizzie ducked and glanced around.

A tall, gangly teenager with months of half-assed beard all over his face was shoving people aside and grabbing for her. “You. Girly. With the bleached hair and dark roots.”

No doubt who he’s talking to now.

“Give me your damn phone.” The brute shoved her against the bus.

“Here.” She shoved it at him. “Have it.” It dropped and she ducked out of the way. She tried to see BeeGee or Jess. The women, mostly dog-people were milling around confused. She pushed back toward the front of the bus. Then a gun barred her way. Brute boy again.

“Stay back, girly.” His eyes dropped predictably to her chest.

Shit, are 90 percent of men assholes? She stepped back into the press of bodies. No. But a lot of them seem to have survived.

A voice yelled. “Kill all the men. Line them up. Don’t waste any ammo. Six at a time.”

Lizzie pushed back forward. The dog-men were being herded forward. She watched in horror as the first group was lined up. Guns exploded and the bodies fell. As the echoes of the gunshots died, she heard another sound, a vehicle coming fast. It was her father’s jeep coming from the direction of Provo. But he was in a car headed south. As it drew closer and skidded to a stop next to the bus she recognized the Captain at the wheel. He jumped out of the car, grabbed what looked like an M-16, slammed the door and strode toward the leader of the renegades. “Cease and desist.”

“On whose order, Captain.” There was disdain in the response.

Shit. Are they working together? Of course, how else to get rid of us. Troublemakers. Old age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill. Don’t teach your grandpa how to suck eggs.

“The order of the Redeemer.” The Captain cradled the gun gently, ready. “And mine.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Fine.” The captain reached in his pocket and pulled out his phone.

Another sound came from the opposite direction. Two motors. A motorcycle pulled into view. Beside her, Lizzie heard BeeGee gasp. The tall shape had a bike helmet with braids coming down on either side. Randy Blackhawk, I presume. Then a car behind it. Dad.

The bike rolled to a stop at the edge of the gathered renegades. He had guns hanging off him. He kicked the kickstand and stood up. A shotgun hanging loosely from his right hand.

The captain nodded at the biker and fiddled with his phone for a moment then held it to his ear. “Your Excellence? Yes. I am here.” He listened for a moment then responded. “My granddaughter is having your baby. I have served you. Please. Don’t do this.” Another pause while he listened.

Her father’s car stopped behind the motorcycle. He got out and strode toward the inner circle. The Captain acknowledged him with a glance.

“Thank you, Sir. It’s the right thing to do.” The Captain motioned with the phone. “Here. He wants to talk to you.” The captain tossed the phone to the renegade leader.

The renegade snatched it out of the air. “Yes, Sir?” He listened intently. No one moved. A movement caught Lizzie’s eye behind the bus. Red hair. And black. Zach and Duke. She glanced back expectantly.

“Yes. Very good, sir. Long live your Excellence.” The renegade tossed the phone back. “He wants to talk to you again.” It flew through the air. “He said to tell you, “Dad, you’re retired.” The gun came up and it burped out bullets. The captain’s body shook with the impacts and the phone crashed to the ground. For a moment all was still.

Then Hell broke loose. Another single shot rang out. The renegade leader fell. But his gun was up and firing. Lizzie dove for the dirt as she saw her father go down. Randy ducked behind his motorcycle and blasted toward the rest of the renegades. The dog-people milled in a panic.  The next six who had been lined up ran for the woods. Lizzie heard shots and saw most of them fall. Behind her guns blasted. The Renegade leader was shooting randomly. His front was red with blood. Something caught her arm and threw it behind her. I’m shot. But it didn’t hurt. She slunk closer to the ground and crawled toward the Captain. He’d had a gun.

She got to him, behind his body. Another shot shook it. His body jumped into hers. She felt a pressure on her side. He grunted. So he’s not dead yet. She pulled him toward her. His eyes darted to hers. “Dugway. Proving Ground. Army base. Dead animals…” His eyes closed and his grip on her hand softened. Then he grasped harder and his eyes flashed. “I’m sorry. Tell your father. I’m sorry.” Then his hand went limp and fell from hers. His head collapsed to the ground. She grabbed the gun lying next to him and pointed it at the renegade leader and squeezed. The gun bucked in her grip, the body in her sights shook and then collapsed. The gun fell from the fingers. Her eyes searched for another target. Her right hand was numb. There was blood flowing freely from a wound on her arm where her oldest scars had once bled. She switched sides with the gun and used the Captain’s body to prop it.

***[See Zach ? Duke?]

The rest of the renegades were running. She squeezed off a few shots, aiming high. Her eyes searched for her father, the others.  She used the gun to lever herself to her feet. Her father was lying where he had fallen. She stumbled to him.

“Daddy?” He rolled over. She could see he was trying to talk. Blood dripped from his mouth. His chest was wet with blood. “Oh, god.” She tore at his clothes where the blood flowed from a wound near his left breast. A piece of bone stuck out at an odd angle. “Jesus, Daddy.” She pressed her hand on the wound.

“Lizzie. Sorry.” His eyes wandered over her. “You’re hurt.”

“Just a flesh wound, pops.” She watched the blood flow from her arm. The hand she pressed against his chest was numb, but it seemed to be staunching the flow.

“No. There.” He nodded to her left side. “Your side.”

Lizzie glanced down. Her left side was soaked red. Her vision swam. “Daddy.”

“I’m sorry, Lizzie.” Her father’s eyes closed. Then blinked open

“No, Daddy. Don’t go.” A hand pulled her hand away and replaced it with a bandage on her father. Arms pulled her away. “No. Please.”

The horizon flipped. Lizzie saw sky.

Nev’s face swooped in. “Lay still. We’re helping your dad. And you.” She held Lizzie down.

Lizzie tried to fight, but nothing obeyed her. “Daddy… Nev, please.” Her eyelids dropped and she could see nothing. She fought to open them, but they would not. She felt blood beating and the cold numbness, now in her arm and also in her side. Daddy, don’t die. Lizzie could hear noises, people shouting, but they sounded far, far away. A chill flowed through her and she thought she felt her body shake. Someone called to her. She heard her name somewhere in the distance. She could not tell who called. Then she realized she was floating. The darkness receded and in the distance there was light. She could make out the voices now. Her mother. Jason. Calling her. Her father’s voice was somewhere behind her. Oh my god. Daddy. Don’t go. I don’t want to leave you.

Lizzie. Stay with us. Lizzie.

Zach? Not you, too.

Faces flashed before her. Zach. Dad. Spike. Charley. Nev. Rachael. Saj. Oh, god. Saj. No.

Lizzie, stay with us. Now the voices begging her to stay were in front of her. In the light. Lizzie spun, feeling buffeted by a wind, many hands on her dragging her, hugging her. From all sides voices called her name. Lizzie. Stay. Don’t go. Lizzie. The voices continued. Mama. Jason. Zach. Dad. In the distance she heard a baby crying. Jason? No. Saj.

NO! She screamed with all her might. She felt her body or what had been her body harden. “I want to live. Saj. Daddy. Mama. Jase. I don’t want to die.” Her body softened and spun out of control again. Then the voices faded from all sides. She felt a pain in her heart and her body contorted out of her control again. Then all went black.

 

~M~

Manny woke to darkness. It was no relief from the preceding darkness. He knew he was alive. But he’d seen Lizzie go away. Seen her eyes leave. As she begged him to live. He’d fallen in the first hail of gunfire. He knew that. Down without firing a shot. He’d seen Lizzie’s friends running from cover, firing. Two young men, red-headed and dark. He had seen both go down. But the renegades had fled. Someone had helped him. He remembered the last face he had seen before the darkness came. Jess. His body shook. He could feel himself strapped down. His shoulder throbbed. He strained to talk. “Help.” He brought his head up, trying to see around himself in the dark. “Anybody there?” His voice came out in a whisper. Then there was a face above him. The same. “Jess.” Her hand touched his forehead.

“Rest, Manny.” She smiled. “Glad to see your eyes.

He had to ask. “Jess. Who made it?” He couldn’t hear any of his words after Jess and neither could she. He faded again as he saw her nodding. Waiting.

~

 

The next time he woke there was light behind his eyelids. He opened them tentatively. BeeGee was sitting at his side, staring off into the distance. He tried to say her name, but a gurgle just came out. She turned to him. Smiled.

“Water?” She held his head up as he sipped from the plastic cup. “That’s better.”

“Thanks,” he croaked. “Lizzie?”

BeeGee nodded sadly. “She’d still alive. But she hasn’t woken up. She got shot in two places.”

Manny nodded and closed his eyes. The darkness returned.

~

 

He woke to the throb of pain in his chest. Pain is a good sign. I will live. He opened his eyes slowly, not trying to sit up, or speak or do anything but be. He listened. He heard breathing.

Labored in the distance and fluttery and close on the other side. It felt like a hospital, the overhead ceiling tiles with the myriad of little black holes told him it was definitely some sort of government building built by the lowest builder and as boring as possible. The slightly sitting angle he was at and the metal bars of the bedrails reinforced the idea of hospital. He sucked up the liquid in his mouth and swirled it around. “Hello?”

The fluttery breath next to him caught. “Daddy?”

“Elizabeth?” His heart pounded and threatened to take him back under. Breathe. You’re alive. She’s alive. He forced himself to let the breathe go.

“Yes. I’m here. I can’t see you.”

“I’m here.”

Manny heard footsteps crossing the floor. He saw Jess off to his left.

“The sleepyheads are awake.”  Jess smiled at him and disappeared for a moment.

He could hear her moving something and then he heard a motor. Then she was back grinning. She pushed something near his head and he felt his body lifting, The ceiling spun and his stomach flipped. Hold on, Manny. He closed his eyes tight for stability.

“Open your eyes, silly,” Jess commanded.

He did. Lizzie lay across from him. Her grin from ear to ear.

“Daddy. You scared me.”

“Scared myself.” That was all he could get out. He lost sight of her as tears flooded his eyes. “I love you, Elizabeth.” His eyes closed. “See you in the morning.” He let himself drift back off to sleep.

 

~L~

Lizzie let her head fall back against the pillow. She smiled up at Jess. “Thanks. I didn’t know he was alive.”

“I told you…” Jess’ voice fell; darkness crossed her face and she looked quickly away. “You don’t remember?”

“Remember what?” Lizzie could see tears in Jess’ eyes. “Jesus, Jess. What?”

“I told you. The drugs must‘ve… You don’t remember.” Jess sat down on the bed and buried her face in Lizzie’s shoulder.

“What the fuck, Jess?” She tried to move her arms, to shove Jess up, but she didn’t have the strength. Jess was sobbing softly. “Tell me, Jess. I’m sorry you have to tell me again. Please. Tell me.”

Jess’ eyes raised to face her. They looked like she’d been doing a lot of crying. “Zach.”

“Oh, God. No.” Lizzie’s stomach twisted and heaved. She felt bile climbing in her throat. She couldn’t turn she couldn’t stop it. Her stomach gurgled and contracted vomit came up, not much, but it burned her eyes. And fell back into her throat. She couldn’t breathe. It gagged her. She tried to clear her throat, but it just kept contracting. Jess pulled her forward, her fingers inside Lizzie’s mouth. Then air, smelly vomit soaked air returned to her lungs. She spit as the tears cleaned the bile from her eyes. Pain stabbed at her side. “Jes-“ Lizzie pointed to her side. She could see blood on the bandage and everything spun once again into blackness. Zach, you bastard. Why’d you leave me?

~L~

“Zach is dead. Spike is dead. BeeGee’s husband Blackhawk is dead. I don’t get it.”

“The Redeemer got what he wanted. He got rid of us, potential troublemakers, future martyrs and he got rid of others who might oppose him in the near future. ‘And the meek shall inherit the earth.’ Or they think they shall. Only the Redeemer will have them right there in the palm of his hand.”

“But-“

“Lizzie, he was hoping he could get rid of you all, blame it on the renegades…” Her father sighed. “But Captain Foote got in the way. Blew his cover. And I ran into Blackhawk. I can’t believe how close the Redeemer came to making it all work out. You need to rest.”

“Do you think they’ll come after us?”

“I don’t think so. We’re headed south. It’s safer there. Hopefully our war is over.”

“Okay.” She watched the tears roll unnoticed down his ruddy cheeks and into his beard. “It’s not home, but it might as well be.”

She lay her head back down and she felt his left hand rubbing her head. His chest shook and she knew he was crying like she was.

In a tight voice with a kind of croak he started singing. “Hush little baby, don’t say a word, daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.”

Lizzie hugged her dad as tight as she could and let her tears fall into the tired cloth of his ranger’s shirt.  His heart beat thrummed in her ears, strong

He sang many more verses of his own making. Then finally, “If that horse and cart fall down, you’ll still be the sweetest little girl in town.”

The End

AIS Extras Part IV: Second Ending Part I

The Semi-Mega-Sad Ending. Part I

There are certainly some “and a lot of things happen here” spots, but you get the gist. Better than the first Scooby Doo ending, but still not right. Not the original spelling of Mannie’s name. A mi, no me gusta. Today you can get all three of my Deserted Lands e-books for under $11 for the “This Sale Goes to Elevensies” Sale!

~L~

“Lizzie knows we’ve gotten captured,” Jess said softly.

Manny turned to Jess. She looked tired, but trying to hold herself together. She was tough, but he was pretty sure it was a thin sheen of toughness. “What do you think she’ll do?”

“Well, if she’s still as crazy as she used to be…” Jess shrugged. “She’d probably gonna get Zach to help her break us out.”

“If they can find us.”

There was a sound out of sight. And muffled voices. Then a female voice carried over the top of them. “Lock me up with the others.” The voice demanded. Then, “Please?”

Manny looked at Jess and she nodded. “Lizzie.” They said at the same time.

A few minutes later the guards led a petite girl with mussed short hair and a man’s jacket and jeans. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. He could see aspects of her mother and strange aspects of himself. He stood and crowded toward the door. “Elizabeth?”

“Dad.” She smiled. “Sorry about the circumstances. Not the reunion I’d imagined.”

The first guard unlocked the door. “Please, step back, sir.”

Manny backed away. The world was suddenly fuzzy and he could feel his heart beat in his head. The door slid open and Lizzie rushed in and wrapped her arms around him, spinning him. He buried his face in her hair as the tears flowed from his eyes. “Oh, Lizzie. Oh, my.”

“Daddy. I’m sorry. I was so afraid I’d never see you.”

“Excuse me, miss? Sir?” The guard had keys in his hands. “I can unlock your cuffs.”

“Daddy, daddy, daddy.” Lizzie repeated.

Her voice and the sound of the words in her mouth buoyed Manny up. He allowed Lizzie to spin him toward the guard without letting go of him. Then his arms were free. He wrapped them around her. No words came. He just held her. The guard left and the cell door slid shut. Manny thought he could see tears threatening in the guards eyes.

“Lizzie. I was afraid I wouldn’t live to see you. And then you were dead.” He winced at the memory. “Then things kind of went black. I’m sorry. It was weak.”

“It’s okay, Daddy.”

Her eyes, glistening red with tears, glowed up at him. “I won’t let it happen again.”

“I don’t care. I found you.” Her body shook with sobs. “I found you.”

“You found me.” He chuckled. “I was lost, but now am found.”

“Amazing Grace?”

“Yeah.” He hugged her close, her head fit just under his chin. “Never been religious, but some of those hymns…”

Jess jumped down and when Manny released her, wrapped Lizzie in her strong farmer girl arms. “God, Lizzie. It’s good to see you.”

“You too, Jess.” Lizzie nodded toward Manny. “Thanks for taking care of my dad.”

“He wouldn’t let me take care of him much, but at least I gave him someone to talk to.”

BeeGee cleared her throat.

Jess stepped aside. “Lizzie, meet BeeGee.”

“Your Dad drank the last of my vodka.”

“Hi, BeeGee.”

The Native American woman shrugged sheepishly. “Your dad’s a good man, Lizzie.”

“Yeah. I hope so.” Lizzie smiled at Manny.

He smiled back at his daughter. “Yeah. I hope so, too.” She shrugged back into his arms and squeezed. He held her close and felt her breathe.

After a while the guards brought in some breakfast. Oatmeal, steaming in bowls. Pretty plain, but with honey and brown sugar on the side. Coffee, hearty smelling and black steamed beside it. And there was sugar and cream to go with it. The guards left them alone while they ate. Something about the experience seemed to lend everything a little extra humanity.

Jess introduced Lizzie to BeeGee and gave her a short version of their meeting. They talked about their journeys while the four of them sat around the rolling cart and ate breakfast. The food was good and filling and the coffee was as hearty as it smelled.

Someone came to the door of the cell, Manny assumed it was the guard and didn’t bother to look.  “I’m glad you found your daughter, son.”

The voice surprised Manny, but he knew who he would see before he looked up. “I’m not really young enough to be your son, Sir.” The captain from the Provo guard post smiled gently at him.

“I know.” The Captain replied, his gruff voice softened. “I’m sorry you didn’t heed my warning. I don’t really have a choice this time. Headquarters is pretty sure they know who you are and why you’re here.”

Manny laughed and with only a hint of bitterness said, “That’s really freakin’ amazing, since I’m pretty damn sure I don’t know why I’m here. Maybe you can tell me so we both know.”

“Well, Lieutenant Manuel Guerrero,” The Captain’s gray eyes twinkled, “they think you’re a military spy sent to infiltrate their city.  ”

“I’m not in the Army anymore,” Manny growled. “And why the Hell would I do that?”

The older man chuckled. “Because, of course, what they’re doing here is the most important thing going in the world. And everyone is going to try to take it away from them.”

Manny stood and crossed to the older man. “And what is going on here?”

“You know what happens when there’s a power vacuum. Two-bit dictators pop up.”

“You don’t sound like you respect your superiors.”

“Oh, I respect my superiors…”

“So what happens next?” Lizzie stood and walked over to the bars.

“I get to escort you back to Provo and you get to meet His Holiness, The Redeemer.”

“Yippee.” Lizzie said with a grimace. “When do we leave?”

“As soon as we’re ready.”

“Can I have one phone call?” Lizzie asked.

The captain laughed out loud. “Good one. Sorry, no. I’m afraid the exchange your father and I had last night has set some wheels turning. The good thing is they think he’s important. That gives you a level of safety not common around here.”

“Great. How come that doesn’t really make me feel better?” Lizzie walked back to the breakfast and finished her coffee.

Manny stepped forward and stared into those eyes. They stared calmly back. They held strength and sadness. What had he lost? What did he still hold dear? He could see that the Captain had chosen duty as his path to deliverance. Manny broke the eye contact. “Well, let’s get moving then.”

The captain motioned to the guards and the doors were opened. “Your chariot awaits.”

The chariot was a converted Hummer stretch Limo. They were joined inside by two armed guards and the Captain. Two military jeeps complete with a mounted machine guns flanked them.

“Riding in style,” Lizze said. The derision dripped from her words.

“Not my choice, young lady,” the Captain said flatly.

The ride to Provo was not altogether unpleasant. Manny and the Captain exchanged war stories as if they were heading to a party.

~M~

Manny stared at the Captain. “We need your help for this to work.”

A flash of pain crossed the old man’s eyes. “I’d like to help, but I can’t. I’ve already done too much, maybe.”

“Why the Hell can’t you help us??” Manny wanted to grab the man and shake his refusal from him. “You don’t like what’s going on. You play your ‘sense of duty’ games, but you won’t really hold yourself to the promises it makes.”

Something in the older man’s manner succumbed. “I can’t.” He sat down heavily and then he did appear to be old enough to be Manny’s father. “They’ve got my grand-daughter. Treating her like a queen…” He cut off. “A queen for a price. She doesn’t want to go and I can’t leave her.”

That was a motivation Manny could understand. He nodded. “Okay. I need to get my people out of here. Can you help me get to my daughter? Maybe we can even set it up so you report our escape to the higher ups to keep you and her both safe.”

 

~L~

Lizzie watched the heated exchange between her father and the self-titled Redeemer.

Manny stopped pacing and turned to the Reedemer. “Okay. What do you want from me so I can free my daughter?”

The Redeemer hovered over a map of what once was the United States. “I want the military government of San Antonio to recognize the sovereign state of Utah.”

Lizzie caught herself before she laughed out loud. The Redeemer glanced toward her. Don’t make it harder on your father. She tensed then relaxed. His eyes were not seeing her, but something else. Maybe his future? Not mine, too, I hope.

He continued with a low, sonorous voice. “And a treaty to be signed that recognizes our ability to govern our subjects and protect our borders.”

“That’s all?” Manny collapsed in a chair.

The Redeemer returned to the present. “Sarcasm won’t help, Mr. Guerrero.”

“Are you sure?” Manny stared at his hands. “Look. Sir. Sorry. Two things. I am not a spy. I am not in the Army anymore. I have no pull with anyone. How can I get you what you want? Send him.” He pointed to the Captain.  “Are you active duty?”

The Captain looked to the Redeemer, who nodded. “27 years active. 14 years in the reserves. I was recalled in September.”

Her father nodded at the Redeemer. “Wouldn’t he be a better choice?”

“He would be. But I need him here.” The Redeemer’s face darkened for a moment. “He commands a certain… Respect.”

“Yes. He does.” Manny sighed.

Lizzie wanted to go hug him, but now was not the time. He straightened up. Very straight. She suddenly saw the soldier in her father.

He stood toe to toe with the Redeemer. His words came out slow. “I think you’re crazy.”

Lizzie watched the Redeemer closely. His lips twitched, but she could not tell if it was in anger or humor.

Then her father stepped back. “But if that’s what it takes to get my people safely out of here….”

“It is. The only way.” The Redeemer faced her father. They held each other’s eyes.

Finally he stepped away. “I need my cell phone back? And how can I communicate with my daughter? You want my assistance you better keep her healthy and safe.”

“Of course.” The Redeemer agreed. “She can call you under supervision. There may be a short delay in your conversations. We don’t want any unmonitored communications.”

“Wait.” Lizzie had heard enough. “My father is an honorable man.”

“That’s what I am counting on.”

Lizzie strode over to the Redeemer. She caught his eyes. “Can I speak to you alone?”

“No, Lizzie.” Her father said behind her.

“I can handle myself, Dad.”

“I’m not worried about you handling yourself.”

“Very amusing, Mr. Guerrero.” The Redeemer’s face did not show amusement. “You may speak with me alone. This way.” He gestured for her to follow him and turned away down the hallway.

Lizzie hugged her dad. “Trust me.” He held her for a moment, then nodded. She could tell he didn’t want her to go, but she could see he wanted to treat her like an adult. For once a parent who will. Sorry, mama. Mostly thinking about Doug. She followed the Redeemer down the hallway and into the door he’d entered. He closed the door behind her.

“Can I get you a drink, Miss?”

“Lizzie. Yes. I’ll take a drink. Coffee and Irish whiskey?”

He chuckled. “Not a very girly drink.”

“I’m not a very girly, girl, Mr.–” She waited.

“You don’t like calling me the Redeemer?” His lips fought the smile they threatened. The smile won. “Very well. Mr. Ray. Mark, if you wish to be even more informal.” He poured the coffee. “Cream?”

“No. Black. Two sugars. Thank you.” She glanced around the room. It was nice not adorned, but not too excessive. The furniture looked like the room. Except the bar he poured the drinks from. It looked like a seriously expensive.

“I try not to be too extravagant, but I have a thing for antiques. The sideboard is 18th century American. Hand-carved. I liberated it from one of the local museums.” He brought her the drink. “So. How can you help me?”

“My father is an honorable man. If he promises to deliver your message to San Antonio he will. If he is doing it voluntarily I expect it will go better for you.” She took a sip of the coffee. It burned slightly both from the heat and the alcohol. “I’ve only recently been reunited with him. I don’t want him to go without me.”

“Understandable. But you are suggesting that I simply let you go?”

“Yes. It would be the smart political thing to do.”

“Miss Guerrero. Lizzie. Do not presume….” He stopped speaking. Something changed in his manner. “Lizzie, there are a variety of dangers out there. You have met the collectors. I barely keep them in control. Others are less, uh… reasonable.” He turned to face her, stepped toward her. His eyes held hers, challenging. “I think it safer for one man to travel south alone.”

“There are others. My friends. Who have still managed to evade your collectors.”

His smile had left his eyes. Lizzie turned away from them. She suddenly felt dizzy, flushed. She undid the next button on her shirt and turned back toward him. Had he put something else in the coffee? “If we meet up with them, we ought to be able to safely deliver your ‘offering of peace’ and respect for other ‘sovereign’ states.”

“You may button your shirt, Ms. Guererro. I am not likely to accede to your wishes with such theatrics.”

She gave him her best ‘oh, my god are you kidding, I wouldn’t sleep with you in a million years look.’ Then she met his eyes. “I’m not trying to seduce you, Mr. Ray. It’s too hot in here.” She crossed to the sideboard and set the coffee down. She poured a glass of water from the pitcher with ice and took a deep drink and refilled it. “That’s better.” She turned back toward him. “I want to propose that you make a show of peaceful acceptance. I want you to grant freedom to any of the people you have collected who wish to leave. My dog-people and the rest.”

“Lizzie. Most of those people cannot take care of themselves. And more importantly most wish to remain. Winter is coming on. We have power, protection and food.” He laughed. “I don’t think you’d get many takers.”

“No. Maybe not. And maybe I’d only get the troublemakers… More people like me. But how can it hurt? You would appear…” She searched for the word… “magnanimous.” She watched his eyebrow raise and again the war between his smile and his severity. “It gives more support to your request for recognition. You are at the cutting edge. I don’t think there are many places in the country that have programs in place as well as yours to help people.” Lizzie hoped her emphasis on the word help came out as she wanted it to and not sarcastically as she felt. She took another sip of the ice water. She could feel his eyes on her.

“An interesting idea. But if you have a caravan of people it will slow down my… ‘offering of peace,’ as you called it. I need that message delivered before winter hits.”

She could see the wheels spinning, calculating. She said nothing. Let him think on it.

“If he leaves first and with a smaller party while you continue with your ‘volunteers’ at a slower pace. Will that be acceptable? I cannot allow you much in the way of equipment.”

“Perhaps a bus?”

“How many do you expect?”

“I don’t know.” She squared off with him. “How many do you expect would leave if you offered them their freedom?”

He smiled again at that. “Well. I don’t know either. Perhaps we’ll see. Your offer of freedom in the oncoming cold season versus my benevolent offer of protection from the elements and the wild ones on the outside.” He crossed to the window and looked down on the city. “Will your father agree?”

It was Lizzie’s turn to smile. “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.”

“Let’s ask him, then, shall we?”

When they walked out together the Captain from the cell had joined her father. He saluted the Redeemer and acknowledged Lizzie with a tip of his hat.

“Mr. Guerrero. Your daughter’s calm reasonableness has prevailed over my fearful protectiveness. Provided you get an early start taking my ‘offering of peace’ south…” The redeemer nodded at Lizzie. “Your daughter has convinced me to offer freedom to those of my people who wish to leave the safety of my City. She will continue south with them. You will have your cell phones returned to you. I’m afraid my basic distrust has only been reinforced by human behaviors since The Fall.”

Lizzie heard an odd emphasis on the word Fall. A religious significance, perhaps? The Redeemer was certainly a powerful personality. What had he done before “The Fall” had come?

“We will be ‘magnanimous’ with our peoples.”

Again the nod to Lizzie. He was charming. Probably sold cars. Lizzie watched her father’s response. It was tentative. He couldn’t quite trust the Redeemer either. But she could see him battling with himself over an appropriate response.

“Forgive me, your Excellence. How am I to trust you?”

“Through my deeds.” The Redeemer smiled. “Lizzie’s plan may rid me of troublemakers who will make it harder to shepherd my flock through the coming dark times. If the people who remain choose my protection, then all will be well.”

The Captain cleared his throat. “You are offering freedom to all who wish it?”

“For those whose reasons to leave outweigh their reasons to stay, Captain, yes. Many will choose to stay for the safety and protection I offer.” Their eyes locked together for a brief moment. “I will entrust you with ensuring that those wishing to leave are allowed to. We cannot offer them much in terms of supplies. Perhaps a school bus or two, depending on how many choose to leave.”

The Captain saluted. “I will begin work on it right away.”

Stay tuned for the next half next weekend. 

 

SmorgasBlog – Free Fiction with Newsletter sign-up

Okay, ELEVEN short notes for NaNOvember…

  1. Free Fiction with Newsletter sign-up. Put your e-mail in the orange box to the left. I will send you a FREE e-book of Toils and Snares. If you’re already on my mailing list and haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?
  2. NewCoversBkI&IIHere’s the first view of the updated cover art with Book I and Book II! So cool.
  3. PLEASE, PLEASE leave me an honest Review if you have read any of my books. If you’ve decided not to leave a review because you thought the book was only okay, please say that. One of my best friends gave me Three Stars on Outward Bound and explained in Renewthe review why he thought it deserved them. A volume of reviews, especially some that tell people why they might not like it helps me reach those who will. I created this Review meme for those of you who have seen Logan’s Run [and actually remember it! ;-)]
  4. Join my ‘street team’ The Desert Club [Pronounced Dessert club so it’s a play on The Breakfast Club which Lizzie loves.] and help me promote my books to new readers.
  5. Elevensies Sale continues. ALL IS SILENCE is still on sale and Toils and Snares AND Straight Into Darkness will be on sale 11/22 until 11/30.
  6. On my personal blog I’ve started a series called Not to 50posts about approaching mid-life with humor and contemplation. This post is on losing things: hats, glasses, mind…
  7. As part of my ALL IS Science page, I wrote this guest post for my writer friends Richard Levesque on How the Power Stays On When The World Shuts Down.
  8. Pintado’s cover art for STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS won one of five gold stars out of 110 covers for the October. Now ALL IS SILENCE is up for another award at COVER WARS. You can vote everyday! Scroll to the bottom to vote.
  9. Appearances:
    • November 28th, 2015. 12-4 pm. Local Author SigningsBarnes and Noble, Bellingham, WA.
    • December 10, 2015. 5:00PM until 8:00PM. Holiday Book FestivalBellingham Cruise Terminal. 17 local authors. Signing, chatting and selling. I’ll have books, t-shirts & ebook download cards.
    • December 12, 2015: GIFTS FOR GEEKS II. 2:00pm – 9:00pm AFK Elixirs & Eatery. Signing, chatting and selling: books, t-shirts and ebook download cards.
  10. Visit to Juvie! I’ll be visiting the Whatcom County Juvenile Detention center to talk to the kids there and donate some books.
  11. In terms of writing NaNoWriMo is more like NaNOOOOwrimo for me. I don’t want to start No Man’s Land until I have the plot solid in my head. So I have about 3000 words of plot that I am counting, but very few actual words of noveling. I’m sort of thinking like Field of Dreams. If I build the plot, the words will come!

AIS Extras Part III: First Ending

Here it is. The ending I wrote for NANOWRIMO in November 2012, knowing it wasn’t good enough, that it was too easy and quick. SPOILER ALERT. This will ruin some surprises in ALL IS SILENCE if you read it before you read the whole book!

Remember, ALL IS SILENCE is ON SALE for the first time at $2.99 the entire month of November on all major sales sites in honor of NANOWRIMO.

Last NANOWRIMO chapter

“Okay, drive through cones.” Lizzie said. “Don’t go into towns. Jesus, people are going crazy. See you in a bit.”

They got back in the vehicles. Lizzie helped Spike back into the Expedition, “Thanks for protecting me, big man, but Duke’s okay.” Then she got back in the truck with Duke “You all right?”

“Nothing like getting dog-mauled by a big man.” Duke was checking his face in the rear view mirror. “Besides he owed me one for last time.”

Zach pulled out and Duke followed him. When they hit the freeway they headed south. Rachael and Saj were asleep in the back seat. “So, you want to tell me about C.J., Curtis.”

Lizzie shook her head. “Not really. But you deserve to know as much as you want. Fucking craziest part of it is, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive.”

“How do you figure?”

“He sold Zach and Nev and I peyote. Besides being young, I think we survived from some antibiotics in peyote.”

“You’re shittin’ me.”

“I looked it up. It was never really used much for modern medicines because it takes too long to grow.”

“That little shit. So, I guess I’m in that group, too. One time we got drunk and he convinced me to try it. He spent the whole next day keeping me safe. It was really bad trip. One of the things that kept me mostly straight. Figured I’d stick with the devil I knew—alcohol.”

“So, I almost hit him with the car. My first day driving by myself. He helped me back to the house with stuff for Saj, the baby. He was drinking, but everything was fine. I went to bed and woke up with him fondling me.” Her body shivered; she shook it off and continued. “I tried to get him to stop. Went to the bathroom. I had a shotgun in there that I almost used to kill myself. I warned him. Thought it would scare him away. But I think he knew I wouldn’t shoot him. And I wasn’t going to…” She stopped, the explosion, the sounds and the smells came spinning back. “Then he pulled the gun. I closed my eyes and must have pulled the trigger. I didn’t mean to kill him.”

“His last words were, ‘I wasn’t gonna hurt you. I just wanted you.’ And then he died. There was so much blood and shit. I’m sorry, Duke. I still see it in my dreams.”

“Stupid little shit. Always the little man trying to prove himself big.”

Lizzie remembered the words. ‘Not little Zach; It’s big Curtis.’ “It didn’t have to go down that way.”

“No, it didn’t. But he never, ever backed down. Usually just used a bigger stick. See this scar? Hit me in the head with a two by four. I’d licked him fair and square and he came back at me with that. 22 stitches.” Duke sighed. “Thanks for telling me. Probably shouldn’t have made you go through it again.”

“No. I needed to tell you. Especially after you saved my life.”

“It was the right thing to do.”

“Exactly. It was the right thing to do.”

Duke reached over and hit the stereo power button. “How about some music?” The opening bells of AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells echoed in the speakers. “Guess I better turn it down a bit.”

Lizzie laughed. It felt good. “Don’t want to wake the kids.”

An hour later they saw headlights in the distance coming toward them. The road sign said the next exit was Bountiful. Lizzie smiled. She was feeling pretty bountiful herself. “I’ve never seen my dad. Not since I remember. Mom kicked him out when I was three. I thought he was dead.”

“Wow. And then?”

“I found a phone number. In the box I went back when I saw you at the house. I dropped the box. Weird. If you hadn’t scared me, I might not have found it.”

“That is weird.”

“I hope he’s worth this fucking trip. Better not be the asshole he was.”

There was a giant Country Inn and Suites building right off the highway as the three vehicles pulled to a stop. Lizzie leaped uot of the truck and ran to the Forest Service Jeep. Jess jumped out and Lizzie felt her strong farmer girl arms wrapped around her. “God, Lizzie. It’s good to see you. Your dad’s still passed out. We ought to get him to a bed. Don’t think he’d had a drink in years.” She felt cold on her arms and saw the beginnings of snowflakes coming down.

“I want to see him.” Lizzie pulled open the back door.

A native American woman shrugged sheepishly. His head was in her lap. “Drank the last of my vodka.”

“Lizzie, meet BeeGee.”

“Hi, BeeGee.”

“Your dad’s a good man, Lizzie.”

“I hope so.”

“You want to switch places?”

“No. Let’s go check into the Inn. We can get him more comfortable there.”

In a matter of minutes, Jess had gotten them keys and rooms. The air was a bit stale, but there were no visible bodies.

Lizzie was in the room with her dad by herself. He was snoring softly. She thought he looked pretty good. His salt and pepper beard was trimmed, not bushy and his hair was shorter than all the pictures except the military ones.

There was a knock on the door. Jess pushed it open softly. “Can I come in for a few?”

“Yeah. Don’t know if I can stay awake long enough to be here when he comes out of it.”

“I’m pretty wired. I’ll try and spell you. If he looks like he’s gonna wake up and you’re asleep, I’ll wake you.”

“Thanks, Jess. BeeGee said he’s a good man. What do you think?” She knelt down by the bed. She straightened his collar.

“Not perfect, but I’d agree. You’re lucky.”

“For once, maybe. Thanks, Jess.” Lizzy climbed into the other bed clothes and all. “Don’t know if I’m gonna sleep either. But I think I’ll try.” She yawned from the suggestion of sleep. She closed her eyes and wished she could hear mama’s voice, but tomorrow she could hear her dad’s and not over a phone.

 Lcallig25

She woke to daylight streaming in the windows. There was a cup of coffee on the bed-stand and someone was in the bathroom humming. “Jess?”

Jess poked her head out. “How you doin’ sleepy head. Tried to talk to you last night, but you were out like a light.”

“Thanks for the coffee.”

“Zach doctored it. Said he’d come back with some for your dad. Black with sugar. Just like yours. We probably should change his bandage and he’s gonna need another shot. You ever do any of that?”

“Nope. But Zach might have. Took care of his grandpa.”

“Funny. I remember Zach being an annoying kid, always playing drums on everything with anything. Just his hands if he didn’t have a pencil.”

“Yeah. You haven’t seen him in years. It’s only been a year or so for me and he’d sprouted up and out.”

“I’m going to go check on the coffee.”

Jess left before Lizz could call her back. “Well, dad. I guess now is the time.” She sat down on the edge of the bed and ran her fingers across his forehead. Tears welled up in her eyes. “I missed you. I always missed you.” His eyes flickered under the lids. Then the opened slowly. He stared at her but did not seem to see here. Then his eyes focused. “Jennifer? I thought.” His faced knotted in confusion. “Where am I?”

He thinks I’m my mom. “Daddy. It’s Elizabeth.” She saw realization in his eyes. She put her head on his chest and listened to his strong heartbeat. His arms wrapped around her. They were warm and strong.

“Oh, God. I thought you were dead.” He placed his hands gently on her head and pulled her up so he could see her face. “Tell me I’m not dreaming.”

“You’re not dreaming, Daddy. We’re in Bountiful, Utah. In between Ogden and Salt Lake.” She watched the tears roll unnoticed down his ruddy cheeks and into his beard. “It’s not home, but it might as well be.”

She lay her head back down and she felt his left hand rubbing her head.

“Hush little baby, don’t say a word, daddy’s gone by you mockingbird.”

She hugged him as tight as she could and let her tears fall into the tired cloth of his ranger’s shirt.

The End For Now…