As a writer, sometimes writer's block strikes with unbelievable intensity. Here you will find broken pieces of novels and short stories that I have yet to complete.
The Levitican Party 3
The Holy Crusader Administration is the police force of the Levitican Party. When the United States Government fell, all of their legislation was replaced with the Levitican Party’s legislation. According to any official you ask, the freedom that the United States was famous for was the direct cause of their damnation. In my country, freedom does not exist.
At seventeen hundred hours the sun sat high in the sky, its burning rays lighting up the plaza as the citizens of the small town began to gather. The large crowd amassed around a central point in the plaza, all drawn to the scene unfolding before them like moths to a flame. Caleb Gallagher was bound to the whipping post, his muscled chest heaving with his quick, panicked breaths. He’d been stripped of his shirt, exposing the long, jagged scars that ran the length of his back.
“Ain’t his first rodeo, from the look of things,” Dean murmured to Jasper in a barely audible whisper. The two stood amongst their families near the front of the crowd.
“These babies shouldn’t have to see the likes of this.” Ruby Hambly, Dean’s grandmother, held her two-year-old grandson against her chest protectively. She was a stout woman, and surprisingly sturdy despite her seventy-six years. Her long hair was the color of molten silver, and she kept it braided tightly down her back.
“Right you are, Miss Ruby,” Jenna replied quietly. “Jasper, when the time comes, you make sure Jade ain’t watchin’ this.”
He offered his sister only a nod in response as he patted the top of Jade’s head. She had her arms and legs wrapped tightly around Jasper’s left leg, and she offered him a big smile when he looked down at her.
“Y’all should come over. Jen can set your nose straight for ya so it don’t heal all lopsided.” Jasper’s eyes remained on Caleb Gallagher as he spoke.
Dean nodded in response, his eyes also stuck to the bound man in the middle of the crowd. “Sounds good,” he replied quietly, his distraction obvious in his tone of voice. A hush settled over the crowd as a Crusader pushed his way to where Caleb stood with his arms tied above his head.
“For the crime of insubordination, twenty lashes will be administered.” The officer pulled a rolled-up whip from his belt and allowed it to unfurl onto the hard red clay. It was a harsh-looking thing, made of worn brown leather with metal studs going down the length of it. The metal shone flawlessly in the bright sunlight; a new addition to the already cruel device.
“Come here, sweetheart.” Jasper bent down and picked Jade up with ease. “Now close your eyes,” he whispered as he gently moved her head so it was resting on his shoulder. He kept his calloused hand over one of her ears tenderly.
The officer’s expression was hard and emotionless as he swung the whip, and the man’s tortured scream echoed through the silent plaza. Jasper felt Jade’s body jolt against him with each lash, and his hold on her tightened protectively. The man’s cries turned to weak whimpers after ten lashes, and by the fifteenth he’d gone limp, held up only by his tied hands. After the twentieth lash the officer returned the whip to his belt and silently retreated. Caleb Gallagher was left there, unconscious and tied to the whipping post. His back was a bloody, tattered mess, most of the skin having ripped off throughout the lashing. A myriad of deep incisions mangled his flesh further where the metal studs on the whip had sliced into him.
“Get Miss Ruby and the kids back to the house safe, alright?” Jasper passed Jade over to Jenna carefully. “Me and Dean are gonna help April get him home.”
Jenna nodded curtly, holding her sister against her chest protectively. “We’ll be waitin’. Y’all be safe, ya hear?” Her voice was strong and unwavering, but her concern shone in her icy blue eyes.
“Always,” Jasper replied confidently before leaning down and placing a kiss on Jenna’s forehead. Without another word he turned and began to push his way through the mass of people with Dean following close behind. When the two finally broke through the edge of the crowd, April Gallagher was kneeling beside her husband’s limp body. Her hands trembled as she reached out for him, and her entire body swayed with the force of her sobs. It didn’t take long for Jasper to locate Landon, who was the eldest of the Gallagher boys at seventeen years old.
“Son, get your mama and your brothers back home safe, ya hear? We’ll be right behind with your pa.” The boy nodded, wearing a hardened expression that looked wrong on his youthful features. He hurried to his mother’s side and helped her up from her knees.
“Mama, we gotta be gettin’ home now. Dean Hambly and Jasper Hudson are here to help.” He started to lead her away, but she stopped as they passed Dean and Jasper. She looked up at the two, her eyes watery and bloodshot from her weeping.
“God bless the both of you,” she breathed before she allowed her son to lead her away. The two younger boys followed as Landon forced a path through the thinning crowd.
Once the family was out of sight, Jasper approached Caleb Gallagher. He began to carefully untie the bloody rope wrapped around the man’s wrists as Dean got his shoulder underneath one of the man’s arms. It wasn’t long before the two had Caleb supported between them, and they started off toward the Gallagher’s home.
The Levitican Party 2
The territory I live in with my younger sisters has been named New Yemen, and is in the worst shape of all the territories that still have people in them. According to survivors from the initial takeover, where I live was once a state called Alabama, and New Yemen apparently encompasses what was commonly referred to as the “Deep South” when the United States still existed. The south put up the largest resistance to the Levitican Party’s regime when the takeover started, and it left the area in ruins. Chimneys stand tall where houses once surrounded them, now engulfed in the endless ocean of kudzu that has plagued the southeast for as long as anyone can remember. The only buildings that aren’t slowly falling to ruin are government sanctioned; in my town, that is only the hospital, the supply dispensary, and the Holy Crusader Administration’s headquarters.
Jasper’s skin glistened with sweat as he stood in line at the supply dispensary with his sisters. The hot August sun beat down on the residents of the small town mercilessly, and there wasn’t a hint of shade in sight. Many could be seen sitting with their backs leaned against the walls of crumbling buildings, attempting to escape the heat exhaustion that was beginning to set in. It wouldn’t be long before the paramedics showed up to take the sick to the hospital.
“Carmichael, family of seven.” An automated voice announced the next family over the loudspeaker, and the line moved up slightly.
“ You’d think they’d have found a quicker way of doin’ things by now,” Dean Hambly grumbled from where he stood beside Jenna. Both his eyes were blackened, and the swelling around his nose hinted that it was badly broken. “It’s hotter than the hinges on the gates of hell out here, and they’ve got us lined up like pigs at the slaughterhouse.”
Jenna reached up and smacked him on the back of the head. “Dean Hambly, keep your damned voice down. We don’t need you attractin’ no attention for us, ya hear?”
Dean rubbed the back of his head with a wounded expression. “I hear ya, Jenna. You didn’t have to hit me.”
“Davis, family of twelve.”
“Dean, where’s Miss Ruby?” Jade tugged on Dean’s pants as she spoke.
“Miss Ruby can’t stand this sort of heat, sweetheart. She’s back home watchin’ after little Silas.” He reached down and patted her on the head. “You can come back with me and see her if you like.”
Jenna frowned. “Jade has her lessons, Dean. Don’t go givin’ her distractions.”
He held his hands up in mock surrender. “I didn’t mean no harm by it darlin’. What’s got you so full of piss and vinegar, anyhow?”
“Just shut your damn yapper, would you?”
“Fine.” Dean crossed his arms over his chest and looked around the town square. It looked nothing like the old photos his grandmother had back home. Most of the beautiful historic buildings had been reduced to smoldering rubble nearly forty years past, but the remains were never cleaned up; looking around, one would think the resistance ended last month, aside from the kudzu that had engulfed the crumbling ruination in an invasive embrace. Amidst the rubble and ruin rose three immaculate, modern buildings, all bearing the trinity symbol that served as the seal of the Levitican Party.
“Finley, family of four.”
As the line moved forward again, Jade hurried forward so she was standing next to Jasper. She reached up and tugged on the edge of his white t-shirt to get his attention. “Jazzy, I’m thirsty.”
Jasper squatted down so he was eye level with his youngest sister. “I know it, Jadey. I’m pretty damn parched myself. It won’t be too much longer now, and then we can be headin’ on home with our rations. We just got to be patient, okay sweetie?”
The girl nodded and wrapped her arms around Jasper’s neck. “I love you, Bubba,” she whispered into his ear as she squeezed him as tight as she could.
“I love you too, Jadey Girl,” he replied quietly, his voice uncharacteristically gentle as he spoke to her. He wrapped his arms around her tight before lifting her up quickly, causing her to squeal in surprise and delight. Jasper chuckled as he set her back down on the ground. “Now just be patient, little bit. You remember what I told you about patience?”
“Patience is a virtue,” she replied with a smile.
“Right. Now you go keep Jenna company before she takes Dean’s head right off his shoulders.” He almost smiled as he watched her turn around and attach herself to Jenna.
“Gallagher, family of five.”
Jasper watched as the solid metal doors to the hospital opened and several paramedics rushed out. They were clad in the white jumpsuits that were common to all government employees now, the Levitican seal carefully embroidered just above their name tags. They spread into the crowd like stark white ants, and soon the sickly were being carted off toward the hospital.
“They could at least bring water with ‘em,” Dean mumbled, earning another smack from Jenna. “Ow! Would you stop hittin’ me, woman?”
“I’ll stop hittin’ you when you stop yappin’,” she replied crisply. “Jade doesn’t need to hear all of that.”
Dean was about to reply when his attention was caught by a commotion in front of the supply dispensary.
“This isn’t enough! There was more than this last month, and my family hasn’t eaten for three days!”
“Sir, you need to calm down. I’m sorry if you are displeased with your rations, but there is nothing we can do for you. Now please, take what you have and be on your way.”
“I will not take what I have and be on my damn way! What am I supposed to tell my wife? What am I supposed to tell my children?!”
“Sir, if you do not calm down and move along, I will be forced to call the Crusaders, and you will be charged with insubordination.”
“I will not calm down! My family is starving, and you lot are just makin’ it worse!”
The man continued to yell, and soon four officers emerged from the Holy Crusader Administration’s headquarters. They were clad in all black uniforms with the gold trinity symbol sewn over the heart. The uniforms were complete with bullet proof vests, and each of the officers had a gun holstered to his hip. There were no female Crusaders. The officers seized the man, holding him easily between the four of them despite his struggles.
“You can’t do this! My family has to eat!”
The man’s pleas were ignored as his hands were secured behind his back with handcuffs and a black hood pulled over his head. One of the officers remained as the other three dragged the pleading man away.
“Punishment will be administered at 17:00. Attendance is mandatory.” The officer turned on his heel and disappeared behind the armored metal doors of the HCA headquarters. The eerie silence left in the wake of the incident was interrupted by the loudspeaker.
“Hall, family of six.”
The Levitican Party 1
When we were children in school, it was taught that the Levitican Party overthrew the United States government peacefully nearly 40 years ago. One look around at our ruined nation would tell you that isn’t the case. In history class, they teach of lustful sinners, of murderers and rapists running rampant through the streets. They teach us of how the Levitican Party has brought purity back to a nation that was previously condemned to destruction, just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in the Good Book. They teach us of the cruelty of the millions who were murdered, how the spilling of their wretched, lustful blood paved the way for the society we live in. My question is, how could it have been any worse than it is now?
“Hold still now, damn it. I don’t wanna be pokin’ your eye out or nothin’.”
Jenna Hudson frowned down at her older brother as she carefully stitched up the large gash near his eyebrow. It was hard for her to see what she was doing clearly, as only a few candles provided her light to work by. The lambent glow made the wound look harsh; the blood on his face looked almost black against his tanned skin. When he’d come home earlier that night, Jasper Hudson had been in poor shape, to say the very least. He’d stumbled into the house, smelling strongly of moonshine, with his face and ripped up t-shirt covered in blood. It’d taken Jenna a lot of fussing about to find that most of that blood wasn’t his, though that didn’t make her feel much better.
“Who was it you were fightin’, Jazz?” Jenna finished the stitches and carefully wiped away any blood around them.
“Dean Hambly,” Jasper muttered in response as he shooed her away. “I’m fine, Jenna. Just let me be.”
Her frown deepened as she stepped closer to him. “I know you’re fine, you idiot. It’s Dean I’m worryin’ over. How bad did you hurt him?”
He rolled his eyes. “You worry too much, kid. He’s no worse for wear. Might catch a few questions over the state of his face, but he’ll be alright. Now will you let me be?”
Jenna shook her head as she packed the first aid kit back up. “What were you doin’ out there at that damn distillery anyway? That devil’s water ain’t no good for you, Jasper. You know it’s forbidden.”
“Fuck the damn zealots. I’ll drink whatever I damn well please.”
She sighed as she watched him stumble down the dark hallway to the bedroom the two shared. Their home could hardly be called more than a shack, with its single bedroom, half-bathroom, tiny kitchenette, and even smaller living room. The tiny house didn’t have a single light, nor anything else electrical for that matter; New Yemen had very limited electricity, and in their small town it was all used at the hospital.
Jenna blew out all the candles save one before moving to her favorite chair. It was an old thing, stiff with age and hardly comfortable, but she loved it all the same. She set the candle on the side table and reached for the book next to it, but hesitated when she heard a quiet groan from the couch. Soon after a small girl stood before Jenna, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Jade Hudson was the youngest of the three at seven years old, and she possessed the same strong conviction of beauty as her older siblings.
“Is Jazzy okay?” Jade twirled the ends of her long golden hair around her fingers absentmindedly.
“I fixed him right up, darlin’. Don’t worry your pretty little head over him.” A rare smile graced Jenna’s lips as she leaned forward and placed a kiss on her sister’s forehead. “Get some sleep, Jadey. I’ll be wakin’ you up for your lessons before too long.”
Jade stepped forward and climbed into Jenna’s lap. “Can I sleep with you tonight?” Her tiny fingers tangled into Jenna’s hair instead of her own, and she gently rubbed it between her fingers.
Jenna smoothed Jade’s hair back gently. “Of course you can darlin’. Let’s get some sleep.”
“Read to me first?”
Jenna flashed the small girl another smile before reaching for her book. “Only for a short while, little one. Sissy’s tired.” She picked up the old, tattered book and ran her hands over the cover. The words The Tragedy and the Triumph of Phenix City, Alabama were barely readable. “When the War was over, Hugh Bentley first saw Albert Fuller standing on the corner at Dillingham Street, wearing hand-tooled cowboy boots, a ten gallon white Stetson hat, and a pair of gold-plated guns, hung low on his hips, watching the girls walk by…”
”This is Amy Donnelly with KVLR News Leader 9. This unscheduled broadcast is in loving memory of Jacob Mackrel, one of our field reporters who was brutally murdered earlier today. Jacob was killed in action while investigating some sort of plague that has been largely covered up by such government organizations as the CIA and the FBI. Very little is know about this plague, so little in fact, that until today the government has successfully kept it a secret with absolutely zero media leaks on the matter. Unfortunately, we still don’t have any details regarding what may very well become a widespread pandemic, but we do have footage of some of the infected. The following content is not suitable for those under the age of eighteen, nor is it suited for those with weak stomachs. Thank you for watching KVLR News Leader 9, your number one source of what’s really happening. Amy Donnelly, signing off.”
The Director paused the tape after the footage ended. “Come someone please inform me how in the fuck this happened?! If none of you noticed, there are infected on national fucking television! Not zombies from movies and video games, but the real fucking deal! You know, the top fucking secret real fucking deal?! FUCK!”
Friendly Neighbors: IV.
October 31, 1993
We spent the next four days getting to know the neighborhood. We took pies to neighbors and met their families. We had to be sure we didn’t get anyone we lived near; that would make us vulnerable. It was Halloween when we sent Laura and Spence to the bar, and it was perfect. Halloween meant there would be plenty of people out, and some of them wouldn’t be recognizable to those around them.
Maggie, Adam and I were sitting around the living room in anticipation for their return. There was a movie playing, but none of us were really paying attention. Maggie was the first one up when a car pulled in. She peeked out the window then turned to Adam and me with a smile. She hurried back to the couch and snuggled up to me just as the door opened. Spence walked in with a girl on his arm. She was dressed up as a slutty pirate and Spence was practically supporting her weight. It looked like she was nearly passed out. “Tiff, these are my roommates. Roommates, this is Tiff.” We all said our hellos as he laid her down on the loveseat. Laura was behind him with a guy who wasn’t dressed up at all. She introduced him as Andy before leading him over to the couch; he was in the same condition as the girl. It was about thirty minutes before both of them were passed out, and Laura was smiling as she moved to sit with Adam. “Andy is from out of town. He had business in Chicago over the weekend, and doesn’t know anyone here. Decided to stay in Cal City because it’s cheaper.”
I nodded once, looking over at the girl. “What about her, Spence?” It was his turn to grin now.
“She lives on the edge of Chicago and all of her family is gone. She knows a few people from work or school, but she spends her time alone outside of work and school.”
I nodded again, then looked around. “Well, why don’t we get started, then?”
Friendly Neighbors: III.
October 27, 1993
Adam and I were sitting at the bar. Two full beers sat in front of us; it was a weak attempt to blend in. We were both looking around, getting a feel for the place. In all honesty, it was perfect. The crowd was just our type, and the security was pretty loose. Adam grinned, looking over at me.
“Dude, this place is gold. If we were careful we could do everything here while we’re in town.” I shook my head, still looking around.
“It’s too small, man. People will notice pretty fast, and it won’t take them long to connect the dots. It’ll work ‘till we head into Chi-town, though.” Adam nodded again as he looked around the bar. He was careful to avoid eye contact as he spoke.
“Do you ever think about what’d it be like to be one of them? Stay in one place, get to know a bunch of people?”
“I do sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade what we have for the world, man. All these people know so many people who have no loyalty to them; they might have one or two friends who would stand up for them no matter what. In all reality, we have it better than all of them. We never have to doubt each other’s loyalty. And of course, I’d never give up the habit.”
Adam nodded, looking at me now. “Ya know, you’re damn right. We’ve got it better than any of these motherfuckers.” He smiled before downing his beer quickly. “You ready to get out of here?”
“Yeah.” I downed my beer just as fast and slapped a couple bills on the bar. “Let’s go give the others the good news. I know Laura was pretty excited about this place.”
As expected, the others were ecstatic. Adam and Laura had already retreated to their bedroom, and Spence was out trying to pick up women. Maggie and I were on the couch watching a movie, her head in my lap.
I looked down at her and smiled. “What’s up, babe?”
“Do you think it’ll work out for us here?” I knew I had to tread carefully; this was one of the few times in which Maggie was vulnerable. I smiled down at her gently.
“I hope so, babe. I hope so.”
Friendly Neighbors: II.
October 25, 1993
It only took us a few days to settle into the new place. The routine was all too familiar. Adam had turned the house into Fort Knox and updated it with the latest technology within the first day. We were headed into the city to get a feel for the Chicago nightlife; in our “profession” bar crawls were gold.
“I like this one. It’s not trashy, but it’s not one of those uppity places either.” We were seated at a restaurant across the street from a nice little middle-class bar. “Tell me this one’s good, Noah. I really like it.” I glanced over at her then looked back at the bar.
“This one will be good for a starter bar. We’ll have to move further into Chicago when we really start operating. For the first few we’ll use this one.” Laura’s smile widened as she jumped up and hugged me.
“So when do we start?” She was still smiling as he asked.
I shrugged, still planning and mapping out the bar. “A few days tops. I just need to get a good feel for the layout of the place.”
Friendly Neighbors: I.
October 20, 1993
We were on the move. Things had gone south in Belleville; it was far too small. Maggie clearly hadn’t thought things through, but I wasn’t willing to start shit over it. Thanks to me, we always made a clean getaway. We were now headed to Calumet City, Illinois. This was till abiding by Maggie’s love of suburbia and her opinion that we would never be found there. She’d never give up her theory, regardless of how many times it failed. We all figured she was living out what she wanted her life to be like, a little at a time. We’d found a nice house to rent out, and with five of us working pretty nice jobs we’d be living the American Dream.
“I liked Belleville, man. They had some fine ass women. Didn’t even have to go to Detroit to find the cute ones. This was typical for Spence. He always had something to say when we moved. I’d told him many times that sticking with us meant he would never have a chance to really settle down, but he wouldn’t give up the lifestyle. We were all addicted; allies in our terrible passion.
“Aww, poor Spency. I’m sure there will be pretty ones in Cal City. And if you can’t find any, Chicago’s sure to have some nice ones. You just might have to pay to get it. The rest of us were laughing while Spence glared Laura down.
“Maybe you haven’t looked at me lately, Laura. I’m never gonna have to pay for shit! Chicago ain’t never seen a face like this.” Spence flexed his muscles at her and grinned. “I always draw in the babes. Me and Noah do.”
Laura reached over and smacked him on the head, frowning. “Fuck you, Spence.” She curled more into Adam’s arm while he stared out the window. “Adam could get all the girls if he wanted. I just got lucky.”
Maggie immediately turned up the music in the new car, trying to get everyone to quiet down. She had that look on her face, the one that meant she was two seconds away from yelling in frustration. “How the fuck do I get here again, Adam? I’m gonna wreck this car if we get lost again. We should have been there an hour ago.”
Adam frowned, not mentions that he should have been driving. He looked up at the exit sign we were passing then looked at Maggie through the rearview. “Take the next exit. Right at the light, left at the next light, fourth house on the left.” Maggie nodded then focused on the empty highway again. Apparently the land of Chicago suburbia was dead at one in the morning; it was perfect for us.
Friendly Neighbors: Preface
We always had to play it cool everywhere we went. Maggie liked to live in small suburban towns, always near big cities. She had this idea that we’d be even less likely to be discovered there, but it never worked out that way. In big cities you don’t have as many nosy neighbors; everyone tends to keep to themselves. In Suburbia, everyone knows everything. The rumor mill is a beehive; if you act out of place, the drones begin buzzing about it. Some of the things we’d heard, usually from that token Good Samaritan neighbor, were just off the wall crazy shit, and for something to be off the wall for us was a feat. Somehow we’d always managed to get away, though. Right as things started looking rough, like our secret was soon to get out, we just moved to the next suburb and started a new life.
The gang consisted of five people. Maggie was the ring leader; she was always the one who took control and made the major decisions. No one challenged her, no matter how bad some of her decisions were; truth be told none of us had the balls to stand up to that girl. Spence was the muscle; he did the protecting when things got too serious for the rest of us to handle. Laura was the lure; her looks got her anything she wanted, and they certainly helped out whole operation. Adam was the computer whiz; he kept the places we stayed updated with the latest of everything, from household appliances to security systems. That of course leaves me, the strategist. When it came to the base of each mission, or so we called them, I planned everything step by step.
We all got along with each other pretty well, and we never had a dull moment. Of course, there were the relationship complications between couples in the group, but we all got past that in our own ways. Maggie and I handled our problems by simply talking them out. Laura and Adam tended to have loud, short arguments that were quickly followed by make-up sex. That leaves Spence as the odd one out, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way. He loved the thrill of the chase, having strings of one night stands with women who never even learned his name. We gave him shit for it, but we were never able to convince him to change his ways.
“Mrs. O’Shea, because this is your first offense, and your record is immaculate, I have decided to show you mercy. You will complete 500 hours of community service at St. Michael’s Memorial Hospital. I certainly hope you will learn your lesson, because if there is a next time, I assure you there will be absolutely no mercy for you, Mrs. O’Shea. Court dismissed.”
The sound of the gavel rang loud through the silent courtroom, and Gemma O’Shea sank back into her seat as the judge exited.
“Mrs. O’Shea. I’m not sure you understand just how lucky you are. They could have charged you with several felonies with the evidence they had if not for Judge Stevenson’s merciful ruling.” The lawyer gathered his papers into his briefcase and clicked it shut.
Gemma stood and stared the court-appointed lawyer in the eyes. “Lucky? Mercy? My entire source of income was just taken as the “evidence” you spoke of. I can’t pay my bills or my rent. At least in prison I would have a roof over my head and food in my stomach.” She grabbed her coat and shrugged into it. “Thanks for nothing, asshole.” The tattered trench coat whirled around her like a dancer’s skirt as she turned and stormed out of the courthouse.
Gemma struggled with the door to her small studio apartment with tears in her eyes. After a bit of jingling the door finally gave way, and she reached in to turn on the lights. She flipped the switch, but nothing happened; she was met with pitch black darkness and a below-freezing chill. “GODDAMNIT!” Gemma screamed as she stormed in and slammed the door. She sank to the floor with her back against it, sobs racking her small frame. “Will I never get a break?” She looked up before letting her head fall into her hands.