The Snow: The Mutant Rain Book 3 is finished, the edits are complete. Formatting has taken place, once, twice, three thousand times and I'm 99% sure she's good to go — no matter how many times you look you eventually go crosseyed and miss a typo or a rogue line of formatting. Still, the ARC team are out in force and diligently working their way through the novel to catch any snags. I am lucky to have a set of super-readers committed to aiding the quality of my work.
Anyways, enough rambling, you're here for the good stuff. So, here it is, the opening chapter to the third, and final, novel in The Mutant Rain series. Happy reading.
'I'm not joking, another thirty seconds and I was dead.' Retelling the crazy events of the past thirty minutes thrilled Guy. He panted as he fired out the story to the two Watchroom Hyena gang members. Their chunky, round jaws nodded in obedience, swishing the ridiculous Mohawks the Hyena members always sported.
Reinhardt and Darkmore had locked themselves in some epic super-mutant battle. 'Good job I left before Reinhardt broke loose.' Shame about the Pigs.
A dozen strong, and one of the more robust Watchroom sub-gangs, the Pigs were all dead, Reinhardt killed them all. As the two mutants exchanged thunderous blows Guy climbed atop a dustbin lorry and glanced back over the street, binoculars helped, and confirmed the demise of yet another sub-gang.
The herd had been thinning of late.
Rumours of a purple man ran rife, known only to Guy as Isaac from the brief and unhelpful information Doctor Zhirkov provided. Screw him, that creepy old man is history. Guy needed to return to The Watchroom club, the pillar and stronghold of the group’s hold on the crumbled city.
'You guys with me,' he ordered the two stragglers he found out on the street. They were members of The Watchroom Hyenas, a useless bunch and from what the two goons before Guy told him, all that remained of the gang. I'm surrounded by idiots.
The fools proved useful; shooting them both in the leg to lure a massing zombie horde off his trail worked a treat. Rather them than me.
That's how Guy operated over the years. New Hampton demanded the brutality from an individual long before the plague broke out. Doctor Zhirkov's plucky understudy, Doctor Fattal, had played god and unleashed the mutant virus on the masses. Guy's experiences told him mutants always resided in the city, and further harrowing rumours brought up memories he buried years ago.
A translucent man, working separately from the purple man, was also butchering Watchroom gang members with gay abandon.
'Jed,' saying the name out loud sent shivers up Guy's spine. The rumours must be false.
The last time Guy saw Jed was thirty years ago, as a boy. Jed seemed such a meek little thing as a child. On the fateful day that scarred Guy, the only visible taint on his perfect, masculine visage, Jed was left for dead. Guy's parents told him Jed moved away after his father died, and Guy never saw him again.
The period marked the death of Guy's innocence.
The perfect lesson in what lurked in New Hampton.
Ever since that day Guy dominated all before him, hence his lofty status within The Watchroom organisation the finest, or most loathsome depending on your outlook, enterprise in the city.
Guy arrived at another stronghold, The Watchroom Wolves and was greeted with emptiness. Indicators of their presence lingered throughout the rundown hardware store. The metallic shop front shutters smeared with a twenty-foot-tall piece of graffiti; The Watchroom skull with a wolf sitting beside, with its long, powerful tail wrapped around the base of the jawbone.
Guy loved The Watchroom tattoos. He was a man privileged to receive The Watchroom skull, and nothing else, tattooed across his left arm. The exquisite artwork ran from shoulder to elbow, wrapping around his ample bicep. Only a select few achieved the honour of being a member of the original Watchroom, a group so mysterious their boss, the only man Guy reported to, hadn't been seen in the flesh; ever.
Guy's meetings always happened through curtains, walls and phone calls, always cloak and dagger.
He decided to bundle up some unused paint sheets in the far corner of the shop floor, obscuring himself from the entrance and any prying eyes. Once convinced he was out of sight he nodded off for a few hours sleep.
His sawn-off shotguns remained pointed at the door through a metal railing.
His grip stayed firm around the hilts.
The raucous cheers and woops of the returning Watchroom Wolves woke Guy, he must have managed a few hours sleep on account of the darkness outside. Snow peppered the windows. A multitude of vulgar boasts echoed around the expansive area. Guy was impressed the group, only seven large, managed to hold onto such a vast piece of real estate within the shattered ruins of New Hampton. Its secluded location at the end of a long industrial estate was one of only a handful left in the affluent area of New Hampton. It's the only one in the Emerald Mile?
Guy kept extensive information of property in the city. It was his job to pounce on any takeover opportunity, hostile or legal.
'Hey, who's there, come out?' said a man, with a hint of fear, though his next words exuded confidence, accompanied by the tell-tale click of a gun, 'We're armed, show yourselves.' Through the metal railing Guy noted the tall man, with long blonde hair and a slim-featured face, signal two fingers from his right hand to the left and to right. Two men obeyed each signal, and two remained with the leader.
'Don't shoot. It's me.' Guy stood up, hands raised.
At first the seven men glared, guns pointed, until the comprehension of who stood before them took over.
'Guy?' demanded the blonde haired man, Callum if Guy's memory served him. He knows who I am.
'Callum, isn't it?' Guy stepped out from his hiding spot.
'Yeah, man, wow, good to see you. We haven't seen another member in weeks.' The welcome bordered on disingenuous, easy to spot when a man smirks while looking everywhere but at your face.
'On account of being busy collecting resources'as instructed.' Guy stepped forward, right up close and personal to Callum.
Speckles of sweat formed at the edges of Callum's temples, and he gave himself up by wiping a black woollen sleeve across his forehead. 'Uh. Yeah of course.' A level of composure returned to the man as he glanced around at the vicious grins of his fellow Watchroom Wolves. 'What else would we be doing? Beginning to think no one was coming.'
He edged half a step forward, a big mistake given four of the men had lowered their weapons and Callum's body blocked the other two. Guy rammed two serrated blades deep into Callum's abdomen, twisting them and yanking them back out to vault them at the men who stood behind Callum.
The knives slammed into their targets, one bulged out of a gaping mouth and the other lodged out from an eye socket. Another two men hit the floor, and before the remaining four-gang members reacted Guy pointed two sawn-off shotguns in their direction.
'Everyone relax, from this range these beauties would do some serious damage. I think you'll agree?' Guy's words were spoken easy and calm. 'I'm not going to hurt you, you know me, and my position. Callum didn't.'
'What about those two?' asked a hulk of a man as overhead lighting shimmered across his dark features and elaborate purple Mohawk.
Guy took a few paces back to avoid the pooling blood. 'That’s a fair question.' He stepped over the last corpse blocking his exit. 'They were armed and ready. You are not; tough world. Now, down to business, show me your supplies, you must have a lot stored away. Then I'll be on my way, but before I leave you'll need to elect a new leader and inform me. After all I am second-in-command.'
A groan of agony accompanied Guy's final sentence.
The purple Mohawk slumped to the floor. An enormous machete protruded out of his back.
'He would've been a bad leader, too much mouth.' informed a wiry, diminutive man in a Spanish accent. 'The three of us know our place and won't bother you, Mr Hagan. We're big fans of your work.' The man's easy smile showed him as false.
Reading people was Guy's greatest asset. 'Splendid, show me,' said Guy. 'And what's your name?'
'Gustavo, sir.' The man’s sparse moustache twitched, a nervous tick.
'And you two are?' Guy waved the shotgun in his left hand to and fro.
'Excellent, shall we?' instructed Guy, flicking the shotgun in his right hand toward the huge, expansive back door to the shop signposted as “Storage”. Guy caught the nervous glances between the trio of wolves. Upon walking into the backroom the odd facial expressions made sense. God damn it.
Chained to the back wall were two women. Their faces smeared with dirt, tears and dry blood caked the majority of their frazzled, matching hazelnut hair. The terror in their bulging eyes darted from the wolves, to Guy and to a blue plastic sheet in the farthest corner, tucked behind a pile of rifles, knives, axes and baseball bats. An unmistakable stench of human excrement and copious amounts of blood assaulted Guy's nostrils.
'Who's over there?' he asked, dispensing with pleasantries. 'Show me, now.' Guy cocked one of the shotguns.
'It's not what you think,' remarked the pock-faced man who named himself Pablo. His lips folded to reveal a foul, yellow-toothed sneer, 'the troublemakers of the group.'
'What do you use this group for?' asked Guy, beginning to formulate a new plan.
'Labour, fetching, building and other stuff,' said Darren, a sour looking bald man. He squared his towering frame, a subtle show of aggression.
The three men, oblivious to Guy measuring them up, he waited for his moment.
'Things are tough, man. It’s bad enough with the zombies but you've got these super-mutant freaks picking off Watchroom gangs left, right and centre. You know better than anyone we're one of the smaller gangs, we needed our own cannon fodder. We use the bodies at night, sprawl them out the front of the building, the hordes come and keep the mutants away. Come morning they're full and move on.' Gustavo's answer impressed Guy. I'll use that one.
The other reason Guy rose so high through the gang was his insatiable desire to learn, and an indestructible need to adapt.
'Smart move, the dead people, I mean. Are you alright?' asked Guy.
'We're getting by, and now you thinned the herd there's plenty to go around again,' responded Darren, his quick sinuous grin surfacing.
'I’m not talking to you, you fool,' said Guy, shooting him point-blank.
The women shrieked, one of them fainted at the sight of splattered brains all over her soiled, ripped white shirt.
'You son of a b—' raged Pablo, as he walked onto the second barrel.
It was the other woman's turn to be bathed in warm blood and gore.
To Guy's surprise she kept her composure and offered a wordless, mouthed thank you. 'Just you two left?'
'Yes,' said the woman, wiping blood from her cheek.
'Perfect,' said Guy, shooting Gustavo.
He moved over and helped remove the restraints on both women. 'They won't bother you anymore, why don't you stay here and guard this place for me. Gustavo was kind enough to give you a plan.' He moved over to Gustavo's shattered corpse and kicked his leg. 'And he's been kind enough to provide another offering to the zombies’ gods.'
'Will you come back for me and my sister?' asked the woman, as she helped her sister back to her feet.
'Do you want me to?' said Guy, narrowing his eyebrows.
'Yes, we'll hold this place, but you must protect us; you run The Watchroom yes.'
'I understand,' Guy said, leaving, unsure when he'd return.
Outside the muggy light of morning was creeping over the abandoned city streets, and the final mile back to The Watchroom nightclub proved uneventful. Bitter, ice-cold air plagued Guy's steps. A thin layer of snow and spots of black ice made for a slippery walk.
Twenty yards from the front entrance a gunshot rattled into the pavement, a few yards in front of Guy.
'Wait,' instructed a sniper from the rooftop.
'It's me you idiot!' Guy glared upward, giving the man the bird.
'Making sure.' The bald man grinned, a glimmer of sunlight shimmering off of his huge, dome head.
The vast doors before Guy clunked multiple times as the numerous bolts parted to allow his entrance. 'Is the boss here?' demanded Guy.
'Last I checked,' informed Graham, a barrel-chested goon, a twenty-year veteran at the club. His long, silver hair still shone, pristine despite the abysmal state of New Hampton.
Guy glanced back out the door one last time, snow pelted into the ring of cars positioned to create a blockade.
'Good, tell him I'll be with him in a minute,' said Guy, 'now shut the door.'
'Of course, welcome home, sir.'
Guy's delight at being back in a building where respect was earned and honoured couldn't be understated.
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