/ The Great Conflagration

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Cover Art by William Perkins

Action-packed, historically revisionist zombie apocalypse for only $0.99

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It’s 1882, seventeen years since the end of the American Civil War. And while the country struggles to rebuild itself and come to terms with its history and possible future, a new conflict befalls the young government.

A sickness has begun consuming the country, causing those with the ailment to crave the flesh of the living.

Now Tallulah, a displaced Choctaw – having been taken from her tribe and sent to become “civilized” at the Carlisle Indian School – only desires to return to her people, getting as far as possible from this new poison spreading throughout the white man’s world.

But to accomplish this she must rely on the assistance and bear with the aggressions of others also desiring to find safe haven; including two former slaves who had already experienced the worst the country had to offer; overly aggressive Cavalrymen coming to terms with their own war demons; and a less than open-minded tugboat captain struggling to keep his two sons safe.

Each of them trying to survive the beginning of The Great Conflagration.



PREVIEW (forgive incorrect formatting)

“That’s Harrisburg,” Adeline assured her.

“But it is so bright,” Tallulah iterated.

“She’s right,” Silas agreed as he sat up to get a better look.

The back end of the dinghy dragged slightly to the left as it made its way around the river-bend, opening a direct line of sight to the ports of Harrisburg — And they were burning; the ports, the warehouses full of crops and cotton, the steel factories that lined the river, as well as some of the boats. All burning.

Tugboats had cut their barges loose. One barge full of coal was freshly ablaze as it pulled away from its burning port, too late to be saved. Other barges just rushed down river, untethered. While smack in the middle of the river was another large steamboat, consisting of eight smokestacks.

Tallulah, Jean, Adeline, and Silas were all instantly jolted when the steamboat suddenly exploded.

Washington jumped from Jean’s arms and cowered behind her, barking at the burning steamboat from presumed safety.

Passengers jumped from the steamboat, burning and screaming as they splashed into the water, uncontrollably pulled downstream.

That’s when Tallulah noticed the Biters, attacking people at the ports and along the train tracks that ran parallel with the river. All of the destruction and chaos immediately made sense.

One train was making a concentrated effort to leave its station, but it was already infested with Biters. There were passengers on ferries, tugboats, barges, and steamboats that were desperately trying to free themselves from their ports. Some succeeded, some did not. Either way, they were not faring well.

Adeline turned to Silas, as if desperately looking for his thoughts.

“I see them,” Silas replied, commenting on the Biters. He knew there were too many boats on the river and felt helpless as they headed straight for them, no guarantees they would be coming out the other side alive. “We have to steer around the boats!” he yelled.

Tallulah was already ahead of him, grabbing one of the oars at her feet. She looked to Jean, who reluctantly put Washington down and picked up one of the other oars.

Silas grabbed one himself, sticking it in the water at the back of the boat to work as additional steering support. “I’ll navigate us through this. I need you two to make sure nothing grabs onto the edge of the boat. If they do, you hit them with your oar, or do whatever you need to do to keep them from capsizing us.”

“But they are not all Wendigo,” Jean stated.

“We do not know that,” Silas and Tallulah replied in unison. They were both surprised to find the other on the same page.

Silas continued, “Get ready. We’re going straight through.”

Before they could even prepare themselves they were in the main flow of the river, amongst the burning ports and out-of-control boats.

Silas did as he promised and steered them past the first couple of sinking barges.

A ferry came rushing across the river, barely in control, arching down stream as it crossed, angled to collide with the dinghy’s port side.

“Slow down or they will hit us!” Tallulah pointed at the ferry.

“We can’t slow down!” Silas yelled. “Row! Both of you, row! We’re going to outrun it!”

Neither Tallulah nor Jean questioned Silas. They both put their oars in the water and rowed as hard as they could. It didn’t seem to be working as their boat and the ferry neared the point of collision.

Adeline watched as they just barely eked past the ferry, its heavy wake shoving the back end of the dinghy, spinning it ninety-degrees to the left and continuing downriver, sideways.

As they moved away from the ferry Jean noticed its captain had barricaded himself in the wheelhouse, Biters were actively breaking in, about to kill him. Jean closed her eyes as the captain screamed his last human scream.

As Silas tried to get the boat pointed forward again, he and the others saw a recently exploded two story showboat slowly sinking, pieces of the showboat breaking off as the current dug its claws into the weakest parts of its structure.

The dinghy was moving too faster, its port side about to T-bone into the sinking behemoth.

Silas held his oar firmly in the water, ever so slowly causing the dinghy to rotate ninety degrees counter-clockwise.

It worked. They just skimmed along the side of the showboat, as they now traveled backward down the river.

As they floated with the debris of the showboat, its lower deck listing toward the water, toward the dinghy. It began to quickly fill up with Biters, many of them running to one side, looking for someone to attack. They were all passengers that had been trapped and attacked out on the river, all dressed in their finest. Tallulah almost envied the dresses the women were wearing as they made eye contact with her and began piling over one another, reaching over the railing toward her, their freshly bloodied fingers just inches from her face.

Jean screamed as a handful of Biters fell over the railing and landed in the water ahead of the dinghy, three of them getting a grip on the nose of the lifeboat, nearly causing it to capsize. Before Tallulah knew it she was tossed into the water.


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