BOWIE V. IBARRA
Below is an excerpt from the short story 'Rocket's Red Glare' from the award winning zombie short story collection, 'Holiday of the Dead'. It's one of many short stories written by some of the genre's heavy hitters, including Wayne Simmons, Eric S.Brown, Joe McKinney, Iain McKinnon, David Dunwoody, Remy Porter, and even John Russo, one of the writers of the original 'Night of the Living Dead'.
Check it out, then pick up a copy for yourself today here, or at the link at the end.
ROCKETS RED GLARE
BOWIE V. IBARRA
COPYRIGHT 2010, 2013 BOWIE IBARRA AND WILD WOLF PRESS
Calavera City, Texas
“Litte faggots popping fireworks for the Fourth of July tonight?”
Trevor and Todd’s sole purpose was to drink beer and make people feel miserable at Calavera City Community College. It was an even easier task when the boys weren’t in class. The five people they rolled up on were some of their favorite targets, both in and out of school.
“Don’t you guys have a douchebag meeting tonight or something?”
Geoff was always the first to respond of the five friends. He gave a high-five to his two buddies, Bruce and Lawrence, who were standing next to him when he uttered the response. They immediately began laughing. The laughter was just another way to get under Trevor and Todd’s skin.
“You’re just jealous because we can afford them, asshole,” said Belinda, joining the boys with a barb of her own. Heather, who was standing by Belinda, laughed along with the boys. She knuckle-bumped Belinda.
“You’re the only girl I know, Belinda,” said Todd, “That would settle for a little queer boyfriend like Bruce who doesn’t even have a car.”
“I’ll take personality over having a car any day, asshole,” she said, flipping him the classic ‘boney-maroney’ middle finger.
“Why don’t we just go inside your house?” said Todd, indicating her home. “You can see how big my personality is.”
“Fuck off,” she replied as Trevor and Todd chuckled.
Two large military trucks pulled up behind Trevor’s Mustang. The bright lights of the first vehicle cut through the early evening. The driver honked.
With the arrogance of a true jerk, Trevor took a long and defiant swig off a beer before saying, “When you girls want to hang out with some real men, call us.” He revved the engine to his Mustang GT before peeling out in front of the kids. The white smoke of burnt rubber drifted from the pavement to the air as the car shrieked like a Detroit-born banshee before speeding away. The driver of the military truck grinded the vehicle into gear and drove away. The five friends laughed.
“I should have thrown a bottle-rocket in their car,” said Bruce.
“That would have been hilarious,” said Heather.
“Speaking of,” said Lawrence. “Let’s send another salvo.” He handed four bottle-rockets to his friends and they immediately placed them in their bottles on the sidewalk.
“Try and delay the lighting,” suggested Belinda. “Let’s see if we can get them to pop in one-second intervals.”
“Hey babe, this isn’t the fireworks at the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, now,” chuckled Bruce.
“Just do it. Ready?”
The friends had their punks lit and ready. “Go.”
They each waited for the person beside them to light their fuse before they lit theirs. As the last of the five friends lit theirs, the first rocket went off. Then the second, third, fourth, and finally the fifth rocket took flight. Like Belinda had planned, they whistled into the sky in a crude, yet coordinated, salvo. They burst in the sky in intervals, and the friends cheered.
“Respect the soldiers,” came a voice. The friends turned around. They knew who it was. It was Mr. Fuentes, who had rolled up on his bike. Or as students at Calavera City Community College knew him, he was Pete the Nutty Professor. “Respect the soldiers on the Fourth of July. They are with God now. They died so you could live here in America.”
“Guy’s nuttier than squirrel turds,” whispered Bruce.
“Leave him alone,” said Heather. “He’s just old.”
“And annoying,” said Geoff, lighting a small string of Black Cat fireworks. As the fuse lit, Geoff yelled out, “Hey, Nutty Professor, here’s to the soldiers.”
Before his friends could stop him, Geoff tossed the firecrackers at the old man. The old man whimpered in fear as the fireworks lit up the ground around him. The blasts of the tiny explosives rattled his eardrums, and he got back on his bike and rode away.
“Respect the soldiers, you little bastards. Respect the soldiers,” he said as he rode away.
The five friends couldn’t help but laugh. It was like watching a guy in an old western dance around the ground as a villain was shooting at his feet.
“Geoff,” said Heather, hitting his arm. “That was mean.” She was still chuckling.
“You thought it was funny,” said Geoff.
“It was funny,” said Bruce.
“He’s always talking religion,” said Bruce. “Like my mom says, if he was mad at us, he should forgive us.”
“I forgive you,” said Belinda, walking up to her man. Her hands held in a pantomime of religious fervor. “I forgive you.”
The five laughed again and found more fireworks to set off.
But as they had a laugh, Trevor and Todd were plotting against them.
“Hey, check it out,” said Trevor, indicating Deputy Jacobs at the Whataburger. “It’s the sheriff.”
“Let’s get out of here,” he said. “If he sees us drinking, we’re done for.”
“But it’s Deputy Jacobs,” said Trevor. “He’s my brother-in-law. He owes me a favor, too.” Trevor slammed his beer and threw the empty can in the back seat and drove to the restaurant. He pulled into the parking lot and parked the car right beside the deputy’s vehicle. “Watch,” said Trevor, stepping out of the car and walking to his lawman-in-law.
In the car, Deputy Jacobs was eating a triple-cheeseburger as Trevor knocked on the window. Diced onions had already fallen on his belly, and the deputy made no effort to wipe them off as he rolled down the window.
“Trevor,” said the deputy, talking with his mouth full. “What are you doing?”
“Well, brother, I just wanted to report some lawbreakers to you.”
The deputy made no effort to finish the bite from the burger before he stuffed five French fries in his mouth. “What do you got?” The colors of the food in his mouth repulsed Trevor. Gruesome bread melded with ketchup and meat in his mouth. It was a disgusting collage. Mustard was on his chin, but Trevor made no effort to tell him.
“There’s a group of kids popping fireworks just two blocks away. There’s a restriction on popping fireworks in the city limits, right?”
“That’s right.” The deputy made no effort to finish eating before he spoke. Saliva laced the masticated food in his full mouth. A small piece of lettuce hung on his moustache.
As if on cue, the fiery projectiles of a Roman Candle lit up the sky, exactly where Trevor was indicating.
“Well, as you can see,” said Trevor, smiling and showing off his crooked teeth, “those kids are clearly ignoring the burn ban in town setting off those fireworks.”
Deputy Jacobs took another big bite of the burger. “I’ll be right over there, Trev,” he said, talking with his mouth full. “Thanks for the info.”
“Anything for my brother,” said Trevor, giving a thumbs up.
The deputy had another question. “Have you been drinking, by the way?”
“Brother,” said Trevor, slyly. “I don’t drink and drive.”
Trevor got in the car. Arrogantly, he cracked open another Natural Light and toasted his in-law. Todd shrugged, and toasted back as they pulled out.
Deputy Jacobs had a few more bites before he finished his burger and fries. He would go after the kids soon.
The five friends were having a time just blocks away.
“Man, those were awesome,” said Bruce.
“We got the heavy duty Roman Candles,” said Heather.
“And we haven’t even pulled out the mortars yet,” said Belinda, smiling.
“Ya’ll got mortars?” said Geoff. “I want to light one.”
“We’ll have to finish with the mortars,” said Lawrence. “Always go with the big finish last.”
“True, true,” said Belinda. “Right Bruce,” she winked. “Big finish.”
Bruce smiled. “Oh, yeah. Big finish.”
“You guys are so gross,” said Heather, laughing.
“Big explosion, right Bruce.”
Bruce blushed. “Oh, yeah.”
“You guys are nasty,” said Lawrence.
They set off another series of fireworks, oohing and ahhing at each display.
Another car pulled up at the mouth of the street. At first, the five just thought it was a regular car. But when the overhead red and blue lights came on, they knew it was the cops.
“I thought we were out of the city limits,” said Geoff.
“We’re about a hundred yards inside the limit,” blushed Belinda.
The car was speeding to them.
“Quick,” said Belinda. “Into my house.”
The five picked up their fireworks and ran into Belinda’s house. They slammed the door as the car reached the house.
“My mom’s coming back soon, so we can’t stay here. Out the back,” said Belinda. The team quickly followed her out the back door and into the back yard.
“What now?” asked Lawrence.
“Just follow me,” she said, walking through the back gate into an adjacent alley. Beside the alley was a crude barrier that the team bypassed to go into a dry concrete waterway. They followed Belinda under a nearby bridge.
The team assembled, expecting to be pursued.
“So,” asked Heather. “What are we doing here?”
“Let’s give panzon a little time to lose interest,” stated Belinda. “Then let’s go to the cemetery and pop fireworks.”
“Oh, no,” said Heather. “That’s too scary. What with all those dead people.”
“They’re dead, Heather,” said Lawrence. “Died in wars. It’s the military cemetery, not the public one. They’re not going to bother us.”
“Dead soldiers tell no tales,” said Geoff. “I wonder if they still have their weapons.”
“Shut up,” said Belinda. “They don’t bury military soldiers with their weapons.”
“The military cemetery would be the best place to shoot more fireworks, though,” said Heather.
“It’s outside the city limits, too,” said Bruce. “We could pop them there and not get in It’s a public place.”
“Just let this marinate,” said Belinda. “We’ll head in and have some fun in just a few. Tubby shouldn’t be too long.”
The five friends spent the next few minutes talking about school, general gossip, who was boffing who, and other general discussion topics when Belinda thought it was best to go. In that fifteen-minute period, the remains of the day were swallowed by the horizon and replaced by stars and the moon in a black sky. The five friends crept out of the dry waterway and walked to the cemetery.
“Hey, did you guys hear the rumor that there’s a secret military base under here?” asked Lawrence.
“What?” said Geoff.
“Yeah,” Lawrence continued. “The government sponsored renovations on the cemetery in the early ‘80s. They had standard renovation equipment from the city. But there was equipment here that was used for tunneling. It took like three years before the construction crews left.”
“It’s true,” said Bruce as the five entered the cemetary. “My dad told me about it once.”
“I heard there was a UFO base under it,” said Belinda.
“It was that they made UFO’s, not an actual base,” said Lawrence. “And I heard it, too. They might be hiding one.”
“Or two,” said Belinda.
The five friends took the main road into the cemetery. It was a large cemetery, over 5 acres of land. They decided it would be best to head to the back portion of the cemetery and pop the fireworks there.
As the kids began setting up their bottle rockets, Roman candles, and other fireworks in the distance, Trevor and Todd waited in their car nearby. They lingered until the five were in the distance before quietly closing the iron-gate to the cemetery.
“Hand me the chain,” said Trevor, getting it from Todd. It was a simple bike security chain, but it would be efficient enough to lock the five in.
As Trevor finished locking it, he switched the levers to the combination to its home position. Both could not contain their glee.
“This is going to be great,” said Trevor, heading back to the car.
“Hell yeah,” said Todd. “I’m going to make them beg. Beg, beg, beg.”
The two returned to the vehicle about a block away and cracked open two more beers. They could see the fireworks in the distance. The explosions in the sky displayed warm colors, a joyful expression of the Fourth of July.
Unfortunately, just below the five friends, there was a not-so-joyful explosion. The kids might not have known exactly what was below them from their earlier conversation, but the speculation that the government was conducting experiments under the cemetery for years was spot on. Government-sponsored scientists had been conducting tests with chemical weapons for years. The explosion caused by miscalculation and fate provided sick colors, and a fearful expression of death that filled the secret halls of the base. The explosion rocked the facility, cracking its ceiling, blasting the scientists up against the walls. The device that was put together with almost perfect precision now belched its deadly gas into the air. The underground base was immediately shut down and contained. Its inhabitants dead.
Dead, at least, for the moment....
Read the rest of the story in the award-winning zombie holiday horror compilation 'Holiday of the Dead' from Wild Wolf Publications today. Available in paperback and Kindle.
The Fall of Austin, tells the story of military, police, convicts, and citizens of the Texas capitol as they deal with the zpoc.
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