Free Read Friday: G is for God is Dead!

© Can Stock Photo / Zeferli
Author Note: What follows is a brief foray into the world the four boys from my post apocalyptic series inhabit. A world of unrestrained brutality where death lurked at every turn, where the only law was the firepower one carried, and the only hope was for a swift death followed by a dreamless sleep. Inspired by Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Roland Deschain was the last gunslinger, one of these boys is destined to become the first.

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G is for God is Dead!

On a winding country road four boys reach the edge of reality.

Were it a different time and place the sight of four boys on a camping trip would elicit a smile as many recalled doing just that when they were young. Their packs slung across narrow shoulders, the pockets of their cargo pants bulging with the necessities for the trip.  An adventurous trek into the wilderness away from the safety of home, even if it was at the very edge of the backyard where the forest waited in gloomy anticipation.

There was one notable difference, and it was in the way they moved. They weren’t bunched together as a group of boys normally would be. Shouting to let the world know they were alive. This group was spread out in a formation familiar to anyone who has ever served. Keeping to the edge of a road covered by a dense layer of dead leaves, the safety of a narrow ditch within easy reach.

Their obvious wariness belied the innocent nature of their trek, their heads always on a swivel as they kept watch on the forest that surrounded them. The well worn handles of various weapons within easy reach of hands that appeared at first to be idle, yet moved with a determined grace.

For them this was not a different time and place, this was their reality, having grown up amid the brutality of a world turned upon its head. This was the time after. Though they had heard the stories from the days before the dead walked. None of them had ever experienced the convenience of a fast food restaurant, the overwhelming sight of a fully stocked supermarket, the safety of a secure home.

“Did I ever tell you about the Zombie who wanted a girlfriend,” Billie-Bob, the youngest member of the group called out from his place at the rear.

“Keep it down back there,” Meat, the boy in the lead replied, turning around to walk backwards as he and Window, the second boy exchanged shrugs. There was a preternatural stillness about Window, who was not much younger than Meat. They both viewed the world through a thousand yard stare that was so out of place on a face so young.

In the distance ahead several structures along the side of the road emerged from the forest. Nothing more than a wide spot in the road, but it was the first sign of civilization they had seen this day. The last little town they had passed through had burned to the ground some time in the past. The fire leaving only the charred remnants of the foundations that once supported the buildings. With no fire department to respond the inferno had consumed the small village.

Window spotted something ahead and pushed forward to tap Meat on the shoulder. Dropping to one knee they tried to make out what it was hanging from the tree limbs interlaced over the road.

“I don’t like this,” Window said, his hand dropping to the butt of the revolver protruding from the holster on his hip.

“There’s a lot of things you don’t like,” Billie-Bob said. He was the only one in the group who could get away with riding Window, who shot him a dirty look.

“Let’s get closer,” Meat said and as a group they rose and quickly covered the distance between themselves and that object.

As they got closer the smell alerted them to what it was. It was the stench of something dead that has lain in the sun for too long. For them it was a familiar smell, one they had grown up with, marring the fresh clean scent of a wilderness that has moved on to leave the remnants of civilization behind.

More details emerged as they got closer and from the canopy of interlaced branches above them hung the dead body of an older man. His neck had obviously been broken, the head sitting at an unnatural angle, the eyes open and watching as they neared.

“It’s alive,” Einstein, the fourth member of the group said with obvious distaste. Unlike the others he had grown up in a secure compound along the banks of the James river, so he was unfamiliar with the brutality of the world in which they lived. He was the smartest in the group, earning the nickname he carried.

“Not for long,” Windows said as he drew his revolver.

“Don’t,” Meat said, putting his hand out to stop him, “there might be others nearby.”

From the dead man’s neck hung a crudely drawn sign.

“God is dead.” Billie-Bob read the sign out loud. It was then Meat spotted the white collar around the man’s neck. He’d been a priest.

Why had he been hung?

Meat turned his attention back to the buildings ahead, and spotted the small church, its white siding shimmering in the noon day sun. The answer lay there, he was sure of it, he just wasn’t sure if he wanted to answer it.

To be continued!

The four boys featured in this story appear in my post apocalyptic coming of age series available from Amazon.

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