The Mad Mick Series is a post-apocalyptic fan favorite. There's no prepper tips, no helpful information, just fast-paced post-apocalyptic adventure.
When newcomers arrive in Conor Maguire's territory, they bring word of an enemy approaching from the north. They wear military uniforms, carry military weapons, and drive military trucks. Like a plague of locusts, they sweep through every town in their path and pick it clean. In their wake, they leave ashes and atrocity.
When it appears this enemy is on a collision course with their community, Conor must build an army to intercept them. This is no easy task since his daughter's abrasive manner has divided the community. Their hasty alliance will be tested. Roles and relationships will be challenged.
Against this larger, more highly-trained force, it falls on Conor to do what he does best. To rain chaos, savagery, and utter devastation upon his enemy. After all, there's a reason they call him The Mad Mick.
Release date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Independently published
Print pages: 402
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Ross County, Ohio
Just north of Chillicothe, Ohio, Thomas pulled his truck up to the gate in the chain link fence and grinned. An ominous sign read: Looters Will Be Shot.
“We’ll see about that.” He killed the engine, popped his door open, and stepped down. By the time his boots hit the gravel, more trucks just like the one he was driving fell in behind him. They were mostly military surplus M54A2 cargo trucks with few M35A2s thrown in. All ran multi-fuel engines capable of running on diesel, jet fuel, kerosene, home heating oil, and, in a pinch, even gasoline.
The need for fuel was what brought this special convoy to the Buckeye Farm Supply. Rumor was they still had a decent supply of kerosene and home heating oil put back in case things got worse. Of course, that rumor was extracted under duress, what some people might call torture, but Thomas had no qualms about employing such means. Someone had to do it. Someone had to lead in the group. Someone had to find the next cache of fuel and keep the convoy rolling. That someone was him.
Thomas left the line of trucks, a grin on his face, and walked toward the tall rolling gate. He studied the sturdy chain and the serious padlock. He also noted the bloodstains on the dry gravel beneath his feet. Rather than scaring him, he actually found that to be an encouraging sign. Somebody had something here they felt a need to protect.
“Keep moving, soldier!” barked a voice from somewhere inside the farm supply.
Thomas searched the windows and doors of the main structure. He didn’t see anything open, no heads sticking out. He decided he needed to keep them talking in order to get a better fix on the speaker.
“We’re just searching for fuel,” Thomas said. He was trying to sound both official and innocent, a poor stranded soldier out there saving souls and keeping the peace.
“Guess you haven’t heard but there’s a shortage,” the voice replied.
The man was being a smartass and Thomas hated a smartass. Disrespect was one thing he would not tolerate. He’d worked hard to earn the respect he held and he wouldn’t let anyone talk to him that way without paying a price.
“Yeah, we’ve heard about the shortage. We just want to take a look around. I’m certain you got something in there these vehicles can run on. Why don’t you come on out and open the gate?”
“This official business?” the voice asked.
Thomas detected a flicker of concern in the voice. The guy was a law-abiding citizen who didn’t want to do anything that might get him in trouble. “Official?” Thomas said. “What exactly do you mean by official?”
“I mean, is this official Army business? Government business?” the voice asked. “You’re in Army trucks, wearing Army clothes. Figured you must be doing Army shit.”
“Does it make a difference if this is official?” Thomas asked. “That help you make whatever decision you’re in there trying to make?”
“Not really,” the voice replied. “Just like to know who we kill. Helps us know how deep we need to bury the bodies.”
Thomas had to laugh at that. The balls on this one. He hoped the man’s laugh was a good one because it would most certainly be his last. As he was laughing, he was also searching, trying to find the man addressing him. Then there he was. A flicker of movement behind an enormous round bale of hay. Someone had turned several bales onto their flat end like giant soup cans and scattered them around the property, presumably to provide cover for situations like this one. In most cases, that bale would have protected the hidden man, at least for a little while.
Thomas spoke into his radio. “Mingo, you listening?”
“Yeah, T,” came the response.
“See that hay bale with the white wrap around it? The one by the forklift?”
“Grenade launcher. Smoke that motherfucker,” Thomas whispered.
Mingo popped up from the bed of Thomas’s truck and fired a shot from his M203 grenade launcher. Thomas ducked behind the hood of his truck just in case fragments came flying his way. The round embedded itself in the hay bale before exploding. Strands of burning hay floated down on the scene like a snowstorm in Hell. The emerging cloud of smoke gave Thomas a slight tactical advantage that he didn’t want to waste. He needed to get his crew moving before it cleared.
“First Team, go!”
Thomas swung out from behind the truck with a set of bolt cutters he kept on the floorboard. He ran to the gate and cut the chain. Mingo laid down cover fire over their heads. They didn’t know if there was anyone else alive in there but they had to assume there was and that they were ready to fire back.
When the chain was cut, Thomas leaned his shoulder into the heavy steel gate and pushed it along the rollers. First Team, his breaching team, rushed through the opening he created. Someone inside the main building broke out a window and fired a few wild shots at them. Mingo, in concert with some of First Team, opened up on the window and the shooting soon stopped. They’d neutralized the threat.
There was a crash and the sound of splintering wood as First Team laid a boot to the storefront and smashed the antique door into kindling.
“Go! Go! Go!” the team leader yelled, rushing his stacked team inside. He fell smoothly into line behind them and they began clearing the main building.
“Second Team, go!” Thomas said into his microphone. There was no sign of stress in his voice. No rush. This was everyday business for them. Routine.
A second fire team sprinted through the gate, weapons raised. They rushed around the back of the building and into the yard where farm supplies were stored. There were stacks of gates, cattle feeders, water tanks, and every manner of livestock fencing. The team split up and set about securing the various other structures on the property. More shots came from inside the store building. They were single, precise, kill shots. Indications the team had found folks hiding and dealt with them.
They were executions.
Thomas removed a fire extinguisher from a bracket on the side of his truck. He walked casually to the smoldering remains of the hay bale and blasted it with a prolonged, powdery burst from the extinguisher. When the device ran dry, he tossed it to the side. The densely-packed hay had shaped the grenade’s blast in a peculiar manner and he spotted the remains of the man he’d been talking with through the gate. He looked like a giant ice cream scoop had come down from the sky and taken a scoop from his top half. He was all hay, blood, and powdered fire retardant, like some psycho’s version of a powdered jelly donut.
“Damn, bro,” Thomas muttered, shaking his head at the corpse. “You should have run.”
“Inside clear,” came the transmission from First Team’s leader.
“Second Team?” Thomas asked.
Thomas turned away from the wrecked body and beckoned toward the men remaining in the trucks. The passenger in his truck scooted to the driver’s seat, started the engine, and eased through the gate, heading behind the building. The rest of the caravan was made up of similar vehicles, though some pulled trailers. The final vehicle was an M49A2C fuel tanker and perhaps their most important piece of gear.
When the last truck passed by him, Thomas dragged the gate closed and set the chain back in place. With the vehicles concealed around back and the gate chained, the place would appear unchanged from the road. While they didn’t exactly depend on stealth, why invite trouble? Yet if trouble did come they were more than equipped to handle it.
Thomas stalked around the building, headed for the yard area and taking in the remaining inventory around him. Most of this farming shit meant nothing to him. As far as he was concerned, cows were for eating, not for babysitting. He didn’t give a damn how you kept, fenced, or medicated one. All he cared about was how you cooked them. Preferably with a slight char to the outside and medium rare on the inside.
He spoke into his radio. “Second Team, gate is closed. Get a couple of concealed sentries on the front and make sure the perimeter is tight. Lawdog? Mundo? You with me?”
“Yeah, T?” Lawdog replied.
“You got someone checking tanks?”
“Roger that, T. Already on it.”
“Then you and Mundo get inside and start hitting the books. Get me a list of those bulk fuel customers and where the fuck they live. We don’t roll again until the trucks and tanker are full.”
“On it,” Lawdog replied.
Lawdog and Mundo were his most computer literate men. They had a little Honda generator and a long extension cord. If the records were computerized, they’d boot the machines and find a way in. If there was anything petroleum-based and combustible in the area, they’d find it.
“Where’s my taco truck?” Thomas called.
A man carrying a three-foot long pipe wrench gestured to a particular truck in the sea of similar vehicles. Thomas didn’t acknowledge the gesture but jogged off in that direction. Shootah and Buddha Boy were in charge of the food and they were searching for a good spot to set up the camp kitchen.
“Y’all find something good to throw on that fire,” Thomas said. “I could eat the tires off one of these trucks.”
“We saw a couple of cows while we were sitting there at the gate,” Buddha Boy said. “They kept turning into steaks and burgers right before my eyes, like in one of those old cartoons.”
“Then make it happen,” Thomas said. “We’re burning daylight.”
Someone had opened a back door to the main building and Thomas headed in that direction. There was a covered back porch and loading dock area piled with more farming shit. While Thomas stood there studying the various shrink-wrapped pallets, a roll-up door rattled open on the dock. Men from First Team began slinging bodies off the dock and onto the ground.
Thomas watched with detached interest. He didn’t really care who they killed or how many. What interested him was their appearance. He was trying to figure out if the men they’d killed were owners and employees of the company or if they were men who’d just been occupying the place. From the bibbed overalls and goofy trucker hats, he figured these men owned the joint. They were at least locals.
“Hey, Jawbone,” Thomas called, speaking to a short, muscular man. He was dressed the same as Thomas, in the uniforms they’d all been issued by the Army.
“There’s got to be some wheelbarrows or carts around this place. Get a couple of guys and haul these dead fuckers out of here.”
“Where to, T?”
“I don’t give a damn as long as I don’t have to see or smell them.”
Jawbone scratched his head and scanned the yard.
Thomas spotted a nested stack of wheelbarrows beneath an open shed. “There,” he said.
Jawbone looked but didn’t immediately see them.
“There,” Thomas repeated. “Right. Fucking. There.” He jabbed with his finger.
“Oh yeah,” Jawbone said, heading off in that direction.
“Dense motherfucker,” Thomas mumbled. He heard men approaching and saw it was Lawdog and Mundo with their tiny red generator.
Lawdog stopped at the pallet of stacked plastic sacks. He tore open a section of the plastic wrap and scanned the label, tracing it with his finger until a smile split his face.
“What?” Thomas asked.
“This is the good stuff,” Lawdog said. “The kind of fertilizer you can blow things up with. Oklahoma City bombing level stuff.”
Thomas stared at it. “That right?”
“You know how to do it?”
“Oh, hell yeah.”
“Good to know,” Thomas replied. “But right now we need fuel more so get your ass in that building and find us some.”
“You got it, T,” Lawdog said, following Mundo inside.
Thomas brought up the rear and entered the dark expanse of the farm supply. While old country stores had faded into obscurity, replaced by convenience stores with their bright lights and relative uniformity, farm supply stores carried that atmosphere of bygone days. Inside, the narrow planks of the oak floor creaked as Thomas walked. The ceiling was tinplate, with the fine detail obscured by multiple layers of dingy paint. There was a smell that was somewhere between a barn and a hardware store, consisting of oil, wood, smoke, and grains.
“This place is big,” Thomas said to no one in particular. Besides Lawdog and Mundo, several other men with specific areas of expertise were moving through the aisles, searching for supplies. “We push some of this shit out of the way, we can sleep in here.”
“There’s a woodstove too,” Flaco called from the far side of the room. “Already got a fire going and everything.”
“Let’s keep it going,” Thomas said. “Gonna cool off fast in here with all these doors open. It would be nice to sleep someplace warm for a change.” He wandered to the front window. The single-layer glass provided no insulation and was as cool as the outside air. Thomas could feel the cold on his face.
“We entertaining tonight?” Flaco asked, his tone implying he was definitely hoping for it.
“Naw,” Thomas replied. He enjoyed entertaining as much as the next guy but they had work to do. “We learn the lay of the land first. These farmers might have neighbors who wanna pay us a visit for punching their buddies’ tickets. Possibly tomorrow.”
“Roger that, T.” Flaco picked up a green can from one of the merchandise displays and held it up for Thomas to see. “Look at this shit. Bag Balm. Who the hell would buy something like this?”
“No idea. What’s it for?”
Flaco studied the label. “Dude, I think it’s for your udders.”
Thomas shook his head. “Fucking farmers.”
Thomas woke to the smell of frying ham and pork bellies, the remnants of a pig Buddha Boy killed two days ago. The farmer who owned the pig complained and Buddha Boy dispatched him the same way he took the pig. A single round between the eyes. Thomas hoped they made biscuits and gravy. Nothing said good morning like biscuits and gravy. Eggs would be nice too. The only eggs they had were powdered but it sure beat the hell of out of no eggs at all.
He was a latecomer to the magic of a good breakfast. He didn’t realize until he got older what he’d been missing all his life. He couldn’t recall ever having had a homemade breakfast during his childhood. Usually in his house it was the “find it your own damn self” system. Kind of like a buffet except without the food. Most days he got his breakfast at school. Later, when he started earning on the street, he could buy his breakfast. That was when he got introduced to the Waffle House and learned what breakfast was all about.
The previous night he’d made his bed out of a half-dozen bags of goat feed. His men had laughed at him as he’d tested sacks of grass seed, chicken feed, and Purina Catfish Chow for their relative comfort. He found that goat food was his preference. It was firm without shifting too much when he moved. It also had a sweet molasses scent that reminded him of cookies.
They’d run perimeter security all night, four men with night vision, body armor, and select-fire M4s. Things had been quiet. Sometimes gunfire of the type they’d unleashed when evicting the previous tenants brought visitors either searching for vengeance or to scavenge from the dead. Thomas had fully expected a few shots in the night, either warning or lethal, but there had been none.
He crawled out of his sleeping bag and sat up, yawned, and reached for his boots. The military had taught him to be a creature of habit, to develop personal systems that allowed him to function at optimal efficiency. He always slept with his rifle to the left side of his body. The boots were also at the left, at chest level. One boot held his Beretta M9 and the other held an unsheathed Cold Steel combat knife. Both the pistol and the knife were ready to grab and fight if it came to that.
It was a gray day outside and dim light filtered into the room. Some men were sleeping. Others, like him, were stirred to wakefulness by the daylight or force of habit. There was no hurry. They had nowhere to be other than where they wanted to be. Nothing to do other than that which they wanted to do. No orders, no training, and no bullshit.
One of the men added a log to the fire. The room was cool but a good bit warmer than a tent. Certainly warmer than sleeping up under the truck, which they had to do sometimes. Thomas emptied his boots of weapons and slid them on. They zipped up the side which saved a lot of time lacing. He stood and made his way to the stove, drawn to it like a cat to a sunbeam. Moments like this made settling down look like an attractive prospect. There was nothing comfortable about life on the road. You always had to be on edge, always waiting for the next challenge, the next attack.
He’d grown up that way, though, and knew no other life. He’d never been comfortable, never seen home as a warm, safe place where you could back up to a fire and hang out with people you cared about. That was a fairytale for soft people and the sheep they preyed on. He had no intention of getting soft. No intention of giving into the temptation of having a comfortable bed to settle into each night. He’d stay hard, stay sharp, and stay free. That was his life.
Thomas had found his family, his brotherhood, on the streets. When he’d become an adult, that same family had asked him to join the military. The gang wanted their soldiers to be trained like real soldiers. They wanted shooters who could really shoot. They wanted fighters who could bring warfighter skills to the street. Thomas had done what was asked of him.
At first, he hated the Army. He didn’t like being told what to do. There were rules for everything and punishments if you fucked up. Many times he was tempted to kill men for the way they talked to him. He could catch them off base or have a training accident. He’d killed men for that very reason on the streets and held no fear of doing it again. If he got arrested though, or got his ass thrown out, he wouldn’t be able to return to his street family. He’d have failed them. They had big plans. Big plans for him and the others like him who hid among the ranks of the military. He’d bitten his tongue, learned discipline, and at some point realized his newfound discipline made him way more dangerous than he’d ever been before.
None of the gang’s larger plans were going to happen. After the collapse, his gang had been wiped out by a rival. Now all he had was the others like himself. Men he’d identified in the ranks through their tattoos and the way they greeted each other. Before the shit hit the fan, he’d found over a hundred others like himself. They shared a history and a common upbringing. They shared a bond even beyond that the military instilled in them. Thomas built on that to establish the name by which they identified themselves. The Bond.
The name didn’t immediately identify them as gang members. Anyone who overheard them using it might have assumed that, due to their uniforms, it was simply referring to their bond as servicemen. Though some of them had come from different gangs, none of them had been direct rivals, otherwise Thomas’s effort to build these men into a team probably wouldn’t have worked. But it had. They all had similar backgrounds, they all knew the same world, and they shared the same values.
When the world crapped out on them the military was in shambles. There was no longer a cohesive mission, and desertion rates skyrocketed. For those who remained behind, commanders followed along party affiliations or other, less obvious, allegiances. Bases became entities unto themselves. There had been such a division in Washington that it seemed like commanders had been waiting for an opportunity like this.
The men of The Bond stayed in touch with each other through an encrypted chat app up until that quit working. When it did, they fell back on the plan they’d been working out over the past weeks. They stole a fleet of surplus multi-fuel trucks from their base, then stole weapons and supplies that members of The Bond had access to. Funny thing was, their base was in such disarray that no one cared. People were looting gear and selling it to civilians or smuggling it to family. People were disappearing from the ranks every night. Before long, there would no one left but those who only knew military life.
Thomas held a meeting each morning. The only men excused were those who had just come off sentry duty and needed sleep. Everyone else had to be there. Today, the men gathered in the main room of the farm supply with paper plates heaped with steaming food. Thomas didn’t believe in being stingy with food. Feed the men well and they’d follow you. They had bacon, fried ham, powdered eggs, and biscuits with little jelly packs they’d found in a fast food restaurant. There was some grumbling about the lack of gravy.
“Done spoiled you assholes,” Buddha Boy said. “You miss one day of gravy and you think it’s the end of the world.”
“Yeah, pretty much,” Lawdog agreed.
“You eating good, aren’t you?” Buddha Boy asked. “Ain’t no need to grumble.”
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