The story posts that appear on this blog are results of my collaborative fiction and story role play posts as they appear on my community site Pan Historia. These characters are all mine, and all authored by me and as such please do not copy without permission. Currently a person has to register to Pan Historia (or use our guest login) to read the posts due to the nature of the site (safe, fun, sane) so I created this blog as a way to sample my writing to a larger audience. Because I write collaborative fiction these posts are all parts of a larger whole and such are really just tasters and teasers. I will post in order written for the various stories with notes to help the reader bridge the gaps left by where character other than mine were telling their part of the story. For the full version of any of these tales you would need to register to Pan Historia. Read bottom for chronology (oldest posts first).

What is collaborative fiction? It’s a form of storytelling where anywhere from two to dozens of writers work together to tell the story, switching point of view depending on the writer, commonly. At Pan Historia we usually write from the POV of our characters or what we refer to as NPCs – non-player characters from RP parlance.

Replete, the Sulkie settled into her pillows and stretched her silky limbs out over the sheets in a deliberately provocative manner. Wyatt thought about taking advantage of the situation. It was always hard to resist her when she was in the mood, but he’d not given her a love philter in order to bed her. She’d been willing enough with a little magic and herbs, particularly in the beginning. He needed to talk to her and he needed her in a receptive mood. She was the most contrary creature he’d ever had to work with before.

“Maddie, I reckon we had an agreement. You’re making it very hard to keep to my end of the bargain.”

“Maybe I changed my mind, monkey man?”

Even drugged and amorous she wasn’t going to forget to call him a monkey apparently. She didn’t, when they first met, insult him quite so frequently.

“As you said you would if you were not to fall in love.”

“I’m in love right now,” Maddie purred and the sound literally rumbled warmly from her chest much as if she was a cat.

“Yes, and so we can talk and I can get some sense out of you. You’re making it harder and harder to keep you safe here.”

Pouting her lips into a moue shape Maddie wiggled in the bed, patted the sheets beside her and said: “why don’t you get a little closer. We could have some fun before we get down to boring business?”

“If my lovemaking didn’t win you over on its own merit I won’t be accepting a counterfeit.”

“Love potion?”


“Sneaky monkey.”

“You told me you would be a handful if you didn’t fall in love with me, and you haven’t – and I haven’t with you, so there we are. How am I to keep you safe if you keep trying to escape?”

“Common sense tells me to stay here and fall in love with you. You’re handsome enough for a human, but the fact is my soul is pining for the water and my own true form. Without the sweet fruits of love I have no reason to stay in this dry town sucking dust into my lungs day after day.”

“You have reason, as your common sense has tried to tell you – otherwise you would not have struck your bargain with me. You paid me good coin once I won you in that hand of Catcan Stud.”

“Oh this is so boring, let’s fuck already!”

“Perhaps I’ll come back when the effects aren’t quite so strong. Naturally I didn’t tell the apothecary exactly what I wanted the philter for. He must have taken me at face value.”

“Don’t go, Wyatt.”

Now Maddie turned all kittenish. It was getting harder and harder to resist. Wyatt wondered why he was. It wasn’t like she wouldn’t bed him when she wasn’t under the influence. It might make a very pleasant change for her not to be snarling and biting and riding him like he was a wild bronco.

“Maddie, you gotta hear me. You will die if you go home, that’s if’n what you told me is true. If you want me to protect you got to stop trying to escape. I may have go out of town if I get a job, and I can’t be keeping you under lock and key the whole time.”

Maddie let out a wail that sounded very much like a Sulkie in the water and she flopped over onto her belly.

“You are cruel, Wyatt Earp. You remind me of my sorrow. I should die rather than to live this lie. Bring me someone I can love if it is not to be you so that at least my body will be happy in this terrible dry and waterless place!”

Perhaps she was right? Maybe he needed to find someone in town she could willingly attach herself too? Doc? The new apothecary?

He ended up staying after all, if just to comfort the beautiful creature in her hour of need.

The fifth installment of my steampunk story featuring Wyatt Earp in the Pan Historia collaborative fiction novel The Crossroads:

He brought her a tray with supper. It was not unusual so Wyatt hoped she wouldn’t be suspicious of the almond flavored cordial he included on the tray along with the softly poached fish, her favorite, and the fresh vegetables he’d practically had to kill a man to obtain. Sulkies were picky eaters and even though they modified their diets to adapt to land dwelling, it was still no easy feat to keep a Sulkie’s belly in good eats.

He laid the tray down on the floor in the hallway, next to the door, and fished the keys out of his coat pocket. He’d been locking her in for days now. Maddie’s temper was getting worse, and, naturally, she was looking to get to the river. She knew where her skin was even if he didn’t. She’d liked him well enough in the beginning to only need a guard and an admonishment not to leave, but now she was more determined and Wyatt was going to have scars to prove it.

“Maddie, I’m coming in. I’ve got you a nice supper and if you behave you can have it, and we can enjoy a pleasant evening, but if you choose to be troublesome, I reckon it won’t go so well for you.”

“Fuck you, you bastard.”

Wyatt felt encouraged enough to pick up the tray, balance it in one hand, and open the door with the other. It was her tone of voice that indicated she was willing to accept his terms, not her exact words. Once inside the door he laid the tray down on the side table by the door and carefully locked the door again. His every move was watched by Maddie. She knew exactly where that key was in his pocket. She wasn’t very adept at pick pocketing but Wyatt knew better to sleep in the room.

“Now, now, Maddie, is that anyway for a lady to speak?”

“I’m no lady, you flipperless landlocked son of a monkey.”

“I’ll grant you that, but I believe you are a princess of your own kind, and your father would not like to hear you carry on so.”

Wyatt decided that geniality was the best course of action so he ignored the insults, even though she was coming up with some of the worst her kind delivered. Still – he could not resist:

“That’s a landlocked son of an ape, not monkey, sweet heart.”

Maddie rolled her eyes, pulled herself to a sitting position on the bed, careless let one flawless breast the color of fine bone china slip from under her flimsy dressing gown, and patted her lap.

“Whatever, monkeyman, bring me my vittles.”

Dutifully Wyatt brought the tray over and placed it on her lap. He sat down on the bed beside her and laid out her napkin over her chest to catch the crumbs. In about five seconds she gulped down the fish. She was clearly feeling her roots tonight. With greasy yet divinely dainty fingertips she reached for the cut crystal glass of cordial and brought it to her nose and sniffed. She wrinkled and sniffed again.


“I believe it’s an almond cordial indeed. The barkeep said that it was a favorite of all the young ladies hereabouts.”

“Oh goodie, you brought me a monkey whore drink.”

Wyatt fervently hoped that once Maddie consumed the love philter she would stopping calling everyone ‘monkeys’. It was tiresome from a creature whose more normal form was a plump furry creature with a face like a cat and whiskers.

Finally she decided the drink smelled good enough to drink and she tilted the glass to her lips and swallowed it down in one greedy gulp. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, ignoring the napkin that Wyatt had laid out for her, and then devoured her vegetables. When she was done with the meal it took all of Wyatt’s rather considerable reflexes to manage to catch the plate and place it safely as Maddie clearly intended to fling it away – smashing it against the wall.

Now it was just wait and see. Wyatt pulled a cigar from his pocket and leaned back.

Here is the fifth installment of my new steampunk collaborative piece for The Crossroads at Pan Historia.

“As promised, sir.”

“You can call me Wyatt, Mr. Seecomb.”

Wyatt took the proffered vial and examined it under the gas lit lamp. Judging from the color and consistency it was well-made, but only by using it would he really know if it did the advertised job. He tilted the vial back and forth in his nimble card-shark fingers a few times to watch the swirl of amber and coffee colored liquids as they made iridescent spirals, twisting gracefully against each other, then finally mixing. Once he placed it on the counter it would, once again, separate.

Theo gulped, perhaps from a dry mouth. He’d lost his casual cocky attitude from earlier in the day. Wyatt missed it.

“You can call me ‘Theo’ if you like, sir… ur… Wyatt.”

“Sure thing, Theo. ‘Theodophilus’ is a mite bit of a mouthful, I reckon.”

“May I ask you a question?”

“You can try.”

“If you’re so hell-bent on remaining anonymous in this town, why not use a pseudonym?”

Wyatt grinned, genuinely amused.

“Well Theo, besides you and the Doc, no one here so far as recognized the old moniker. I ain’t hiding, just keeping it low key.

“And besides, I don’t go around hiding. I ain’t a coward.”

“Last I was in Midway City word was on the street that Titus Steerpike was still looking for you.”

“I ain’t avoiding him, but I ain’t going out of my way to give him what he wants.”

Once again Wyatt picked up the vial of elixir.

“I reckon I better go put this to use.”

“Just so you know you have to give it to her unawares. Sulkies can fight off the effects of a love philter if they are aware. Slip it in a drink.”


“I chose almonds. It’s the easiest to mask the other ingredients.”

This is the fourth installment for my steampunk story featuring Wyatt Earp in an alternative world.  This appears in one of Pan Historia’s numerous collaborative role-play fiction novels: The Crossroads.  As of yet I’m not working with other writers on this piece, except to conform and add to the co-created world and cultures we’re building. 

“I need a love potion.” Theodophilis Albacore Seecomb was not expecting a customer so soon, or such a customer with such an odd request. Of course he did love potions and erotic philters. It was the backbone of any apothecary’s business, that and cure-alls, but from this man? He’d spotted him as a Warlock the moment he’d stepped from the stage and surely a Warlock had no need of such simple concoctions? Further to that he’d barely started unpacking his trunks. Currently the two men stood in the raw rough-hewn interior of the small first floor shop that Theo had rented before he’d even set food in Sepulchre. Sawdust and packing straw littered the floor and Theo stood with hammer and measure in hand as he prepared to build his own shelves. He’d not even hung out his shingle yet so immersed was he in just setting up shop. “That’s an unusual request from a man such as yourself, sir.” Wyatt just grinned; with his right hand he stroked the waxen tip of his impressive moustache. “Of course I can accommodate you, but as you can see I haven’t quite finished unpacking yet.” “I’m kind of in a hurry. I have a Sulkie.” All became clear and Wyatt could see the light of understanding come into Theo’s eyes. “Do you have her skin?” “No, she’s got it hid somewhere on the banks of the Donate.” “Oh a river Sulkie – those are the most notorious kind.” “Indeed. It’s becoming dangerous to keep her. She’s taken to scratching and biting me.” “You could release her. A man of your talents and, might I add, looks need not keep a bitch when there are hundreds of soft ladies who would be more than happy to warm your bed.” “I could, but I won her in a card game and there is more at stake then just a bed warmer. She’s getting restless so I need something sooth her for a mite bit longer.” “I do not ask the business of Warlocks. Let me deliver your package to you later on this evening when I have unpacked more of my trunks. I believe I have just the elixir you require.” “That would be fine, but quit calling me a ‘Warlock’. I have changed trades. I’m a Bounty Hunter now and I’d just as soon keep the folks around here in the dark as to the particulars of my past.” “Of course, my error, sir. And your name so that I might find you later at your lodgings?” “Wyatt Earp.” Theo’s face went white. “I meant no disrespect, sir.” “None taken.” Wyatt slipped his watch from his waistcoat pocket. “I’ll expect to see you before dinner, Mr. Seecomb. I need that potion tonight.” The moment his first customer left the premises Theo started frantically in on his bags. He must make good on his promise and the potion needed to be one of his best, specifically designed to work on supernatural creatures.

The third installment of the steampunk collaborative novel The Crossroads at Pan Historia.

Besides the arrival in town of a new apothecary, Theodophilis Albacore Seecomb, the rest of the day proved to be more of the same old. Wyatt and Doc retired to their favorite watering hole The Vicious Slag. One of the ironies of Sepulchre was the naming of the saloons. The Diamond Melodia was a low dive, where McLowries and Claymores felt free to screw dance hall girls in semi-public, and where the floor was covered in sawdust to make it easy to clean up after a night of missed spittoons and drunken chundering. The Vicious Slag, on the ironic other hand, was a place of gleaming exotic hardwoods and a full length bar, polished brass fittings, and an enormous mirror that had been transported all the way from Quila in one piece. Considering the size of the glass it must have taken more than a touch of magic to ensure it remained in that single expanse of reflective glass. The girls were top notch, the hooch even more so, and the chandelier sent a spray of diamond reflections twinkling over the whole proceedings so that every gaslight night was like a trip to Veljalla.

The Vicious Slag took its name from its formidable sole-proprietress Anastasia Phillipa Melodia Murgatroyd. Yes, she had started her working life at the Diamond Melodia as a songbird. Her golden larynx had earned her a small fortune as well as the attention of Munson Murgatroyd, Esq. Murgatroyd, a phorrus merchant, had married the chanteuse and then had the decency to pass on leaving her another small fortune. Unable to change the name of the saloon at which she had first made her name, Anastasia was making sure that no one who entered through the portals of her establishment ever mistook her for someone ‘nice’ or demure. She was the exacting mistress of her gin palace. On occasion she might grace her stage with a turn; reminding everyone of her claim to fame with a song from her awe-inspiring pipes, but once freed of the need to earn a living on the stage or on her back Anastasia had grown into a woman of tremendous proportions. She could no longer fit behind her own bar – not that she would ever condescend to pull a pint herself.

Wyatt and Doc leased the gambling concession from Anastasia and thus owned a corner of her domain when they choose to operate one of their card games: Pharaoh or Catcan Stud (a local variant on stud poker that tickled Doc’s funny bone – had he made it up or did he really bring it back from his travels to Catcan?).

It was that hour when the night grew so long in the tooth that the morning was not far and finally the last of the miners either headed to their cots or their breakfast before the first shift at the stamp mills. Doc idly shuffled a deck of cards over and over, riffling the deck in a myriad of methods, all of which made the cards look like one continuous stream. He leaned with his chair back against the wall. Wyatt counted chips. Both men had finally had their fill of Anastasia’s booze.

“Say Wyatt, isn’t it about time you gave that little wildcat of yours a tumble? She must be pining for your attention?”

“I’m sure she’s had her fill of my attentions. Besides I need to let my back heal. She has claws like a cat.”

“Why do you keep her?”

“Hard to say. I’m careful that’s all. I don’t know what goes on in Mattie’s mind. She might be planning revenge for all I know, and I can’t take that kind of risk.”

“I can’t say I would want to sleep with my enemy, myself.”

Doc laid down the deck of cards, drained his cup of brandy, and with the elegance of the practiced cardsharp smoothed his moustache to perfect curl.

“What I always say is keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

“I still think I’d decline to put my pestle in that mortar.”

“That’s because you haven’t tasted these particular spices.”

“Lend her to me for an evening and I can make a better assessment of her worth.”

“Like hell, you rascal.”

Note: This is the second installment for Wyatt’s character in The Crossroads collaborative role-play and fiction novel at Pan Historia.  I tip my hat to a small bit of inspiration for some of the magical elements of the story to the novel Warlock by Oakley Hall; in particular the use of the word ‘warlock’ and little else.  I wasn’t fond of Warlock as a story though I grant you it was a well written tale with some good ideas, but I’m too much of an Earp fan to be easy with its portrayal of the Earps based on the Earp bashing that came into fashion then. 

The stage screeched into town on metal rimmed wheels that grated against the rocks. The team was flecked with foam and had been ridden hard. Doc Valerian dropped from the shotgun seat with a Riker’s .57 Patented shotgun in his hand, pumped and primed. Doc served as both the town’s dentist and one of its most able shotgun riders for the stagecoach run. The driver, Able Ballard, was look a mite bit pale. It was obvious that it was not an easy ride, but who in tarnation attacked the stage coming into town on any day except the day when the payroll came in? And on that day it was guarded by the Pinkerton boys.


Well that answered that question. Doc grinned through black whiskers at Wyatt. The good doctor, while a man of erudition and education, favored the wild frontier look. His hair was kept at shoulder length and braided with beads and shells like a man gone native while he wore fringed buckskins and sported colorful boots with intricate patterns tooled into the leather that would have gotten him mocked anywhere where they didn’t know of his fearless speed with a blade or his uncanny accuracy with a firearm of any description.

“I bagged me half a dozen.”

Wyatt didn’t doubt Doc’s skill at killing, though he doubted the final number. It was probably more like two or three Knockers. Doc liked to embellish. It was an endearing trait to his friends, and one that got him into a stack of trouble with his enemies.

Nodding in the direction of the stage Wyatt said “whatcha got on board, Doc?”

“Couple of businessmen out of Midway City looking to get rich in Sepulchre, that’s all. I just went along for the ride. ‘Sides, Able said there might be Knocker trouble on part of the trip. Weren’t nothing on the way out, but coming back in we had a whole rig full of trouble with the damn things.”

The two businessmen in question were currently stretching their sore and cramped limbs by the side of the coach as Able passed down their luggage from the roof rack on the stage. At first glance it was always hard to judge a man’s mettle, but Wyatt memorized their faces so that he could be sure to recognize them around town in case either turned out to be interesting in anyway.

“Hey there, driver, be careful with that bag! It holds my instruments. A bumbling buffoon like you can hardly be expected to understand the value of the contents, but let me assure you, my man, that the value is inestimable to me.”

Turning to see Wyatt, dapper as always when in town, the passenger gave a broad smile and reached out to shake Wyatt’s hand.

“Theodophilus Albacore Seecomb at your service, sir. As you can see I’m new in town, but I hope to make this my home. I’m an inventor of elixirs and potions, and here is my card.”

As if from his sleeve Mr. Seecomb produced a small vellum card and passed it to Wyatt. With a small smile Wyatt received it and pocketed it.

“Wyatt Earp, Bounty Hunter.”

“Strange, sir. I mistook you for a Warlock.”

“Ex-Warlock” offered up Doc for clarification.

Wyatt turned to glare at his friend. Doc just grinned from ear to ear with his habitual good cheer.

Mr. Seecomb raised one eyebrow.

“Perhaps a bounty hunter will require a little boost from time to time. Now I must make way to my rooms to wash off the grime of travel.”

“Cocky sonofabitch” muttered Able as the dapper Mr. Seecomb made his way to the Mimsy & Millhouse Boarding House.

This story is for a new collaborative fiction novel taking place at the collaborative writing community Pan Historia.  It’s a steampunk setting taking place in a world different from our own, and yet oddly familiar.  I have chosen to use Wyatt Earp in this fantasy setting, and have taken great liberties, but it’s proving to be a lot of fun.  Our story begins:

He smoothed his lapel, flicking the dust from it with a deft flick of his long fingers. Squinting his ice-blue eyes he focused down the length of the sun-drenched street. It was quiet. It was all too quiet. He’d not received word of a job for over two weeks. Wyatt was bored. He retrieved a small package from his left breast pocket and twisted off the wrapping to reveal a sweet smelling cigar: hard to come by in the Dust, but an essential item nonetheless. Biting off the end he lit the smoking end with a flick of his fingers. It was an idle moment of hubris, but boredom could do that to a man. He leaned back on his chair until it rested against the general store wall and he could put his booted feet up on the rail. Momentarily his gaze lifted upwards to the window of the room he rented in the hotel across the street. Maddie was probably still sleeping being as it was before noon. Wyatt considered going back up to the room and once again drinking of her tender delights, but thought better of it.

She was in a bad mood and had been. Perhaps it was that he was home, as it were, too much lately. Her lovemaking had been mean and he had the scratches on his back to prove it. Right now they stung him; his shirt and wool jacket making contact with the rough wood of the sun-soaked wall. The stage was due soon. Perhaps there would be something in the mail, or better yet some fresh meat to alight upon the bustling frontier streets of Sepulchre. Ever alert Wyatt heard the clop of the hooves before the riders appeared in his line of vision on the street. He wasn’t the only one awaiting the stage. He kept his face an unreadable mask as the McLowries and the Claymores rode by. The two sets of brothers were arriving into town in force. No two sets could be anymore different in features, yet share the same nasty character. The McLowrie boys were handsome and dark: Thomas Dylan McLowrie and his older sterner brother Francis Bacon McLowrie. It was hard to tell them apart but for the fierceness of Francis’s gaze and the slouch with which Thomas rode.

The Claymores, on the other hand, were ugly as Knockers in Wyatt’s opinion. Their hair was frizzled and ran from dirty ash blond to bright red while their faces sported whiskers that seemed to grow from all the wrong places like ears and noses. The ugliest of the lot was the eldest Isaac. Isaac was both mean and stupid – which was a pretty lethal combination – and his red hair was puffing out from under his hat, while the red whiskers fanned around his chin where stained with tobacca juice. He was missing several teeth, but his canines were sharp and extended far enough that they protruded from his upper lip like tusks. Wyatt wondered about the lineage of the Claymores. It was rumored that Old Man Claymore, mean and clever and leader of the Enforcers, had mixed blood.

The whole crowd glared at Wyatt before they dismounted and hitched their horses up before the Diamond Melodia Saloon. Their thirst, however, was greater than any antipathy they bore the Bounty Hunter, and they soon vanished inside. Their entrance was greeted with screams of delight on the fortunate dancehall girls that attracted the attentions of the McLowries, and screams of pain by the girls that were unfortunate enough to have their attentions purchased by the Claymores. Wyatt lost interest. He was far more interested in what the stage might bring.

Michael returns from the Town Meeting to find that his five year-old son Jason is feeling much better, the flu symptoms are gone. Excerpt from the collaborative writing novel FLESH at Pan Historia.

Waking up in the early morning Michael could hardly believe the events of the previous few days. The early morning light was like a soft shower of gold dust through his bedroom curtains. Last night had been so different – so wonderful. His son was definitely better. Not only had Jason eaten a full dinner, played a game, but he’d been reluctant to go to bed, back to his old self. After he was down and sleeping without that feverish fretfulness Julianne and Michael had padded quietly into their son’s bedroom several times to check his temperature, and notice that his cheeks had returned to a normal healthy pink, rather than the red flush of his brief illness.

“Perfect temperature, darling.”

Julianne quietly put the thermometer away and the parents finally satisfied had retired to their own room to have a good night’s sleep after the anxiety of the last couple of days.

It was no wonder that Michael woke up with a full on woody. Smiling he rolled over to face his sleeping wife. She had her back to him, but he nuzzled her neck, his hands moving down to slide her sleeping t-shirt up over her lovely round ass. She murmured, smiled in her sleep, and as his hands caressed her more, easing her blissfully into wakefulness she purred up against him, pressing her backside towards his thrusting advances. It had been a few years since they’d woken each other up with morning sex, but Michael just felt so good with the worry washed away.

After the sex Michael dozed spooning with Julianne until she finally pulled herself away with a little mewling noise of regret, and got up and put on her robe.

“I think I hear Jason stirring. I better get his breakfast started.”

Later on Michael, dressed for a day in the fields, joined his son. Jason’s appetite wasn’t as good as last night’s, but his color was still good, and no sign of fever. In celebration Michael didn’t even put on the radio. He didn’t want to hear about troubles in the rest of the world. He was satisfied that if the town was quarantined his family would remain safe. Outside he could hear Orlando humming as he started his work day.

When Jason was finished pushing his breakfast around the plate he jumped up and demanded that it was time for him to collect the eggs and check on the hens. Michael felt the joy radiate from his chest. His eyes met Julianne’s as the parents shared a happy relieved smile. Jason was back to normal. All was right with the world.

Jason tumbled out the back door, letting the screen door slam, which Michael would normally have reprimanded him for, but not today. Today was like birthdays and Christmas all rolled up into one. Michael casually followed, strolling down the lawn towards the chicken coop that was set off to one side, near a stand of sugar maples. He watched as Jason reached up for the latch on the coop door and stepped in, carefully closing it behind him so that the birds didn’t get out into the yard instead of the run. There was the sound of clucking as Michael imagined Jason eagerly reaching his little arm under warm feathered hens to retrieve their eggs. But then the sound escalated from annoyed clucking to upset squawking. One of the birds started their alarm call from inside the coop. Michael could hear the sound of chicken bodies hurtling around in side the coop. He broke into a trot and moved quickly towards the door, calling out:

“Jason, buddy, you all right? Need a hand in there?”

There was no reply just the sound of terrified hens and a low growling. Michael grew terrified that Jason had surprised a fox or a raccoon in the coop. He quickly yanked open the door and was instantly sprayed in the face with a gout of arterial red blood from the gapping neck wound of a chicken. The bird with once white feathers, was still flailing, its wings insanely flapping, even though it had lost its head. Jason had it firmly grasped in his little hands, his fists around each leg, while he bit off the head and started chewing down on the neck and body, his face smeared with chicken blood. The rest of the birds were going nuts, and Michael saw other bloody white carcasses.

He stepped backwards in horror and shock. Jason looked up from his gruesome raw meal, his face covered in blood and gore, a feather stuck to his cheek. Michael saw how blank his son’s eyes were. The boy dropped the bird and growled. The bird still bounced, jumping around blind and headless. Jason reached his arms out to his father and started to lurch forward. Michael reacted quickly and slammed the coop door on his son, quickly latching it closed. Inside the chickens screamed and shrieked, while Jason threw his body against the inside of the door, screaming himself, banging it with his fists. There was no articulate sound that came out of his mouth.


Michael turned to face his wife who was standing behind him, having followed him down from the house just a minute later. She stared in horror at the blood on his face and cringed at the sounds inside the chicken house

The tension is building in Wessex Falls as more news comes about the ‘zombie flu’. Michael and Julianne refuse to believe their child could be affected. The rest of this story appears in the collaborative fiction novel FLESH at

Jeff Fields stood up to the podium. The level on the mike screamed and momentarily silenced the buzz in the room, but just as soon as the scream stopped the voices started again. Jeff adjusted his papers, tapped the mike, and generally looked nervous and uncomfortable. Michael was standing at the back of the room, his arms folded over his chest. The town manager looked like he was sweating. Normally Michael would have been enjoying watching him come under fire from the town, but not this afternoon. The fact that he and that the five members of the Selectboard all looked harried, pale, and nervous was making the whole room sweat. Just what was happening?

“I’m going to call this meeting to order…”

Jeff was prevented from proceeding in an orderly fashion as the room erupted into bedlam. Everyone was shouting. Michael watched as his neighbors shouted over one another to be heard, each one yelling about the ‘zombie flu’ that they had heard reports of on the news, and others about the school closing, while others mentioned the case of the boy who’s parents had been found in a gruesome homicide suicide.

“Didn’t Jason Lawler bite another boy at school?”

The voice was booming and Michael heard it loudly over the Tower of Babel that the Town Meeting had quickly degenerated into with Jeff, the Town Manager, totally unable to control. There was a rise in decibels and then it seemed as if no direction was going to be taken and so Michael pushed himself forward from the wall and shouted above the crowd.

“Everyone shut the hell up and let’s have one person speak at a time. I’ll start. Is it true that the Lawlers were found dead at their home?”

There was a general hubbub of assent.

“And the symptoms of this flu we’ve been hearing on the media include madness and biting?”

“Yes, Mr. Valentine, it’s true, and this is why we called this meeting today.”

The voice that now spoke was clear, calm, and female. It belonged to the most recent member of the Selectboard Eleanor Croft.

“And now that Mr. Valentine has so adroitly gotten your attention can I please call this meeting to order and get down to business? We have received official word from Montpelier and from Burlington that this thing is real, it’s happening, and it’s nationwide. Already the Government’s resources are over-extended dealing with the big cities like New York and Boston. We’re last on the list for vaccines or aid.”

A hand went up in the audience.

“So there is a vaccine?”

“One of our memos from Montpelier said that there was one in the works but Jeff has been on the phone all day and no one seems to have any – or if they do they’re not sharing it.”

An old farmer that Michael knew stood up, patiently waiting for the latest clamor to die down.

“Why don’t we quarantine the town, ayup?”

Any other time Michael would have smiled at the severity of the man’s old time Vermont accent and colloquialism, a vestige of a passing era, but today he was just concerned with the health of his son and the safety of his wife.

“That’s a damned fine idea.”

Michael’s support of old Mr. Winthrop’s suggestion was greeted with a swell of yeas, and then a call to order again. The Selectboard was quickly silenced when it tried to proceed in a ‘business as usual’ fashion.

“Frankly Mrs. Croft, members of the Selectboard, we don’t have bloody time for by the book. Judging by what is happening around the country so let’s make sure we keep the rest of the populace safe and strangers out of town.”

“I have to bring it to your attention, Mr. Valentine, and could you please use the mike and stop shouting from the back of the room, that the flu is quite possibly already here and it might not be in the best interests of your son to quarantine the town.”

“My son has the common flu, not this thing, this whatever it’s called.”

A number of people turned to Michael in surprise and shock, many voices murmuring about the Lawlers.

“The Lawlers were redneck woodchucks with a history of violence. There is no hard evidence any one was sick and their kid was acting out more of the same.”

Paul Albert, a librarian in a corduroy jacket, flew up out of his seat and shoved Michael in the chest.

“You’re an asshole, Michael Valentine.”

Michael looked at Paul, affronted by the usually mild-mannered librarian’s liberal outrage at Michael voicing what everyone in town actually felt, and brushed him aside.

“Or I can believe my son is doomed and the whole town is already infected.”

It was like the sound of metal tray dropping in a silent church. Michael could almost feel the collective intake of breath. After that business went very quickly as person after person volunteered for phone trees, road block crews to help the Sheriff’s department, and any number of measures required to lock down Wessex Falls from the outside world.

Parents Michael and Julianne Valentine are reluctant to believe their child is infected with the ‘zombie flu’ they’re hearing about on the media, but the concern runs deep. The town is starting to become alarmed and a special meeting of the Select Board has been called.

“You’re kidding me?”

Michael’s eyes moved quickly in the direction of the open kitchen door where he could see Julianne with Jason on her lap. She was trying to get him to drink some warm broth. Michael’s neck cradled an old-fashioned phone receiver so he was tethered by the length of spiral cord to the hall desk phone. The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Ogden Spitzer, a middle-aged farmer that was so ingrained with the soil of his native Vermont that that he seemed old as the Green Mountains themselves, right down to his thick Vermont patois. He, too, was on a old-fashioned landline.

Ogden, usually noted for his dry down home style humor, was not talking with any humor today. Unlike Michael he was widely liked in the community and held a seat on the Select Board.

“Nope, can’t say I am kidding you, Mike. Fact is folks are mighty worried around here.”

The word ‘here’ came out like ‘hee-year’, long and drawn out, but the tone was hard and serious.

“They think this is some kind of zombie flu? And my son could have it, is that what you’re telling me?”

“Don’t take it personal, Mike. We’re just going by what the media is telling us and the call from Montpelier.”

“So what the fuck are we supposed to do about it? Are they sending vaccines? What about treatment?”

“So far no one seems to have either, Mike. It’s looking bad. I hear they’re actually calling out the military in the big cities and just shooting sick people.”

Michael tried to let the news sink in, but he was having a hard time digesting the concept that there was a virulent form of flu that was sweeping the country and the only thing the authorities could think to do was to kill the victims. It was beyond a nightmare.

“So what you’re saying is that the sick people are attacking and killing people? That’s the symptoms?”

“Ayup. Though it’s like a flu first, you know with the running nose and fever and all.”

“Well my son isn’t attacking people.”

The unspoken part of that thought was that the boy that bit him clearly had been attacking people.

“How is the infection spread?”

Michael had heard some stuff on the radio, but somehow it was all more real coming from the mouth of down-to-earth pragmatist Ogden Spitzer.

“The usual, they say, saliva, mucus, blood, sneezing, and all.”


“Well of course, Mike, biting. That’s got spit and broken skin and blood.”

“I’ll be at the meeting.”


Michael slammed the phone down even though he wasn’t angry at Ogden. Ogden was a good man and likely to give it to Michael straight. He was one of the few in town that got on with Michael and that Michael, in turn, respected, but then that was probably because he was a farmer with similar challenges and a similar point of view to Michael’s. Right now, though, farming was the farthest thing from Michael’s mind, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to take those ripe tomatoes down to The Bushel Basket before they rotted in the cases. Looking at his watch Michael calculated that he had just enough time to carry out that errand before heading over to the High School to attend the emergency Town Meeting called by the Select Board.

“Julianne, I gotta go – it’s ok if you stay here and look after Jason?”

“Of course, honey. Find out what the hell is happening. I’ll be here.”

Julianne smiled at her husband. He knew her well enough to see that the smile did not move to her worried eyes.