The Engineer and The Black Death

Chapter 3 of my second novel, The Lost Pages of Trevor Sunburn. Check out the book page, which contains more excerpts here.


Hotel food sucks. They charge an exorbitant amount of money for shit on a plate and after five days of eating that garbage, just the thought of a greasy slice of pizza would make the insides of my cheeks sweat.

Even the eggs suck. How in Zeus’s lightning do you fuck up eggs?

I guess it doesn’t help that I’m picky and don’t eat meat.

I had a vegetable panini one night; which in this case was squash, zucchini, mushrooms and some other crap on focaccia bread. Sure, it sounds mighty tasty, but damned if it didn’t make me want to fucking vomit. First, I pick it up and some big shiny red thing’s sticking out the side, wobbling around like a floppy dildo, then every time I try to take a bite of the bastard, these goddamn slimy sea creatures squeeze right out from between the buns and flop onto my plate with a wet splashing sound.

Needless to say, I took a stroll through the blistering cold to get pizza after that experience, rather than eat at the blasted hotel. It was either the elements, or I do battle with the fucking Kraken again.

I was an engineer, and sometimes I had to do field work, so I spent a lot of time at hotels…when there were hotels anyway. Though I read somewhere that good books give a lot of details, my job was as exciting as playing charades with a coma victim, so I’ll leave it at that.

The point is I knew how to make things work.

That’s why T.B.D. had me design the guns. I’m not much of a “hands on” kinda guy, so I didn’t manufacture them. About the only callus my hands would ever see is from jacking off. So I just designed them, while The Black Death transformed the paper into cold steel, modifying the guns to match my custom designs; to get a little more power out of them, a higher capacity, better accuracy and a more threatening visual presence.

Guns and ammunition are necessary commodities. All the post apocalyptic movies talking about people fighting over gasoline were bullshit. What few people were left couldn’t care less about going anywhere, cause it was all the fucking same anywhere you went. Those who were on the move stayed that way, so they always found gas in new locations, rather than guarding a single stockpile.

Guns and ammunition are necessary commodities. They would smite the smiles while securing food from the unaffected. Food was the only other commodity that mattered.

Guns and ammunition are necessary commodities and The Black Death is an expert at forging them.

The smiles were called such, because they were always fucking smiling, and their teeth and gums were always three times too large. It was the only common trait among all of the mutants; those who evolved when the great change happened.

So I designed the guns while T.B.D. fabricated them.

* * *

Mike Williams is a faggot. I don’t judge him and I can’t say I haven’t partaken. Anyone who says that a queer is any less of a man surely hasn’t met The Black Death.

A dark skinned black man of seven feet in height, T.B.D. towers over most. He taught me everything I know about guns and bringing death. T.B.D. earned his name because of his dark skin and the trail of bodies he leaves behind.

Mike Williams is a faggot, and he reeks of death. The vultures have learned to follow in his footsteps. Wherever he goes they’re circling overhead, hungrily awaiting their next meal. The smell of death lingers in his clothes like cigarette smoke and the vultures know it.

The kicker’s that the queer can’t stand the fucking things. He despises them with every bone in his body, yet he can’t bring himself to blow them out of the sky like clay pigeons. While he won’t hesitate to put a bullet through the teeth of a smile, The Black Death won’t kill an animal.

“They’re innocent,” he says.

So the vultures circle unendingly, shitting on T.B.D.’s trench coat and laughing to themselves, while he trudges forward and grumbles in protest without raising his pistols to the heavens.

I met Mike Williams after the change happened.

After the incident with the ice cream man, it wasn’t long before the mutants raided my home, and any other home containing a pulse.  I was on the run from some smiles that cornered me in a bowling alley. So I’m trapped in one of the lanes waiting to be picked up like a spare, when the head of the smile in front of me suddenly explodes like a melon. My face is covered in blood and chunks of brain, and a piece of skull cuts my right cheek just below my eye.

That’s when a seven foot black man unmade a dozen of the smiles in a matter of seconds. Two shiny, silver revolvers—double action Colt Anaconda 44 magnums with six round cylinders—white hot bullets to the brain—covering the lanes in a scarlet pool. One of the smiles who survived a hole in his throat managed to crawl toward me, as the black man pressed his boot on the back of the smile’s neck until his wheezing breath finally gave out.

“I’m Mike Williams,” the black man announced, real cool like.

“Trevor Unruh,” I told him as I shook his massive hand.

“Follow me, there’s more outside.”

And I followed him ever since.

On a particularly cold night, he burrowed close to me—I don’t know why I let him, but I did and I’m not afraid to admit I enjoyed it—backing into him and pulling him deeper until he was finished with me—he saved it, figured he deserved a taste of it.

I called him The Black Death because he was like a plague, decimating the smiles one bullet at a time. His past was a mystery and he wasn’t talking.

The vultures came later.

It took a little while, but they learned that if they followed him, they could gorge themselves on rotting flesh until their bellies were overflowing with his handiwork. And he fed them quite often as time went on.

The smiles numbers were growing. I don’t know why some people were spared the change, like T.B.D. and I, but there were very few normal people left. Those who remained unchanged were slaughtered if they were without guns and ammunition, and the smiles were quite ruthless in their killings.

Guns and ammunition are necessary commodities.

Mike Williams is a faggot, and he has both in great supply.

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