Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer in the Urban Civilian Retention Area (UCRA)

By Captain Jacob E. Billet
I remember my youth, wandering the west side streets of Grand Rapids. We'd ride our bikes down Lake Michigan Drive, the hot asphalt sucking at our rubber bike tires. My mother would bring us kids to the West Side Public Library on Bridge Street, we'd get some books, read for a while under the shade on the front lawn of St. James Catholic Church next door. A few bucks saved, my young friends and I would ride or walk over to the Dairy Queen on Fulton Street, get a Peanut Buster Parfait or a Dilly Bar. We'd go swimming at the Lincoln Park pool: ice cold water and heavy chlorine smell.
The only smell near that old pool nowadays: the city's local undead.
Other than the feeding runs and surveillance patrols, the moment the weather gets warmer, where the heat and sun can start to "bake meat," the city has us load up with 50 gallon drums of cool, refreshing water, an extra air compressor, generator and several heavy duty garden hose. It's not for our sake, to cool down us, or to play "wet habit time" with the nuns at the WSA. (Cripes, Stokes is really getting to me. That's something he'd only say, though not in the company of those battle-hardened, holy sisters.)
Shower time is for the UCRA civilians. The folks on the other side of the river, the living populace, with their "care and concern" for their undead neighbors, want these poor, rotting folk on THIS side of the river to enjoy a cool misting of water.
Sure, I understand why. Sun baked zombies equals hellacious smell, dried out, peeling flesh (nothing worse than a rotter shedding their skin, or in this case, a entire populace of undead littering the streets with orange-peel's like Autumn with leaves blowing about the streets), skin frying and sticking to pavement.
So we hose them down.
We drive up and down the streets, main ones first--Bridge, Stocking, Fulton, Lane, Lake Michigan Drive, Valley, then sweeps up Butterworth back to downtown.
It can be a day long excursion with us doing nothing else but giving the locals a soap-less shower.
Still, I'm almost glad the city cordoned off this neighborhood. It has kept most of the places of my childhood from being destroyed.
Yeah, I can't simply walk about like the old days, but sometimes it's just nice to see the old places. Though maybe NOT some of the old faces.
No one informed me that Mrs. Van Duin was undead and upright, still living in the corner house, two houses down from where I grew up. Used to wear heavy make-up back in the day. Ugh. She could use it now for sure.
For Captain Billet's further adventures in the UCRA and about Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2025, check out TRANSPORT. Available in ebook and paperback through most booksellers.
To be released July/August 2015
Publisher: Seventh Star Press LLC

Sunday, May 17, 2015

LCpl Loutonia Phelps in Action and Action Figure

Been a while, my friends.
Just so you know, TRANSPORT: UNCIVIL WAR (Book Three) is done being written and in editing stage. My publisher, Seventh Star Press, is shooting for a July 2015 release. The cover art is done. (Jason Conley from TN) The interior art is done. (Tim Holtrop fro MI) And with the editorial assistance of Mr. Scott Sandridge, hopefully we can make this last book in the TRANSPORT trilogy rock the house.
In the meanwhile, I have found some military action-figures that I have been messing around with. I will show you the HURON's crew shortly.
I couldn't find a good Loutonia Phelps figure so my talented friend, Mr. Russ Colter, who is a 1/18th scale figure kitbasher did up a "Loutonia Phelps" for me. (I had tried. Failed miserably with a much too "manly" Phelps figure so he stepped in. Fortunately.)
Way back in the day, before the TRANSPORT Series was even picked up by a publisher, I was talking with master artiste Tim Holtrop about the series and my ideas of characters, action scenes and such. He did a sketch of a scene out of TRANSPORT: HUNT FOR THE FALLEN where LCpl Phelps makes a leap of faith from the 72-ton HURON to the 68-ton DEVASTATOR to try and stop the tank from blowing the HURON and her friends to Kingdom Come.
Recently, I met a digital artist through my day job work place, Mr Lee Trevino, who said he muck about with the actual scale vehicles and figures I possess and try some "character shots."
Putting it all together, here's some of the cool, fine work done by friends and fellow TRANSPORT enthusiasts:
(All art 2014-2015 copyright their respective owners.)