a Steampunk Zombie Western
- Bodacious Creed
Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
U.S. Marshal James Creed has known loss, starting from the untimely death of his wife and daughter in a sudden fire. His work, chasing down and arresting outlaws across the Wild West, is all he has left to live for. Then one day, in 1876, the infamous killer Corwin Blake catches Creed by surprise and guns him down.
Creed awakes after a mysterious young woman resurrects him in a basement laboratory beneath a brothel. Half alive, Creed feels torn between his need for justice and his desire to fall back into the peace of death. Creed's instincts drive him to protect the city of Santa Cruz, California, from the outlaws it harbors while searching for Blake.
He uncovers a secret criminal organization, likely protecting Blake, determined to use resurrection technology for its own ends. The former marshal, now faster, stronger, and a more deadly shot than ever before, must work with a brothel madam, a bounty hunter, and the remaining marshals to uncover the criminal syndicate before they can misuse the machines of rebirth and create more mindless zombies. Meanwhile, he must also stop Blake, before the outlaw kills the only people he cares about.
His own death can wait.
Tropes: Abandoned Place, Becoming a Monster, Body Modifications, Burial Ground/Cemetary, Found Family, Good Robots, I Am Your Father, Redemption Arc, Roguish Thief, Secret Society, Superpowers
Word Count: 120000
Setting: Santa Cruz, California
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
Maxwell Gregg stood beside Corwin Blake’s bed, the Tesla bulbs in the ceiling dim. Why had he bothered to give the kid such fine guest accommodations? Did Blake need a bed large enough for three? Did he need two quilts and six pillows, the rocking chair, the wide table, or two shelves full of books? The air smelled of Blake’s sweat, alcohol, and the red roses in a vase on the table. Blake lay naked atop a soft quilt, a red-tinged bandage around his leg, a sheet draped over his hips and crotch.
The outlaw stared up at Gregg, blinking lazily. He had finished half a bottle of single-malt scotch, again more than Blake deserved, while the medic removed the bullet, then cleaned and sewed shut the wound with silken thread.
“We had you covered,” Gregg said. “You had to have your fun though, didn’t you?”
“What did you want me to do? Go to the back room?”READ MORE
“That’s exactly what you were supposed to do.” Gregg wrung his hands behind his back. In Iron Nelly’s, Blake had ducked behind the bar just as James Creed and Bennett Nelsen had entered. Somehow, the young killer had remained quiet, though Gregg imagined he had probably worked hard to suppress laughter.
Jason knew that Gregg would evade the lawmen, and had done just what Gregg would have wanted. Seamless work for a well-run organization.
“You’re not here to tempt the law, Corwin. They’re not your playthings.”
“Ain’t they, though?”
“One more stupid move like that, and you won’t like your accommodations.”
“I don’t think your sister’s gonna like how you’re talking to me,” Blake said.
“Melba doesn’t run the Syndicate.” Gregg glared.
Blake squinted at the light above. “Well, you gotta, ah, you gotta let me do something for you. I don’t want to stay down here all the time.”
“Show me you can behave as expected.”
As Gregg headed for the door, Blake called out, “I will. You’ll see. Whatever you need.”
Creed slept soundly on the night of July third, even though the posse had not caught Blake or his accomplice. If anything, Creed suspected their search had driven the men deeper into hiding.
After a few hours of gathering deputies around town, they had a posse of just fifteen, thirteen of them from Nelsen’s trip to The House of Amber Doves.
They had worked in shifts. First, half the men rode into the Flats to ask questions of the citizenry while Creed checked records in city hall to see who owned the smoking building. The deed belonged to a Steven DeGraw, but when he asked the clerk about the man, she informed Creed that DeGraw had passed away three years prior with no heirs. The property belonged to the city.
Nelsen oversaw the investigation there, while Creed returned to Iron Nelly's.
Jason Nash, the proprietor and bartender, claimed not to know the name of the stranger they had followed, only that the residents called him Heilong. According to rumor, he ran a criminal organization. Nash claimed that crime in the area didn’t seem organized. Creed thought it interesting that Heilong, despite the Chinese moniker, was a white man with medium brown hair and a plain, shaven face.
Rather than speak, Nash wrote all this on a note and tore it up after Creed read it.
Creed returned to Nelsen just as the men they had recruited began heading out to ask questions around town. Nelsen showed him their findings. Deputies had pried boards from the walls and floor. In the very wall where Creed had pulled off the first board, they had found a furnace, tall, flat, wide, and wired to a small power generator. A switch beneath the window activated it.
The generator had no brand markings and didn't match any made by Morgan's Mechanicals, making it illegal.
Next, Creed and Nelsen checked the buildings that surrounded the flower shop, where Blake had climbed the wall. The residents had no issue with letting the men look inside, though darting eyes and shaking hands gave away their fear. A helpful negro couple explained they had heard noises on their roof a few times in the last year, but thought that cats were scratching up there.
After about an hour’s search, Creed found a trapdoor hidden under the shingles on the roof of the flower shop. It opened to a space no larger than a coffin. Were there many like this?
Creed found a deputy leaving a pipe store and sent him to retrieve the rest of the posse. Within the hour, they had gained entry to a dozen buildings. Three hours later, they had found five more rooftop compartments, one where the couple had heard occasional scratches. None opened to the buildings, however. Someone had built them for the sole purpose of hiding.
Around midnight, Creed and Nelsen headed out, just as the shift of night time deputies entered Railroad Flats. Creed spotted a big man, even taller than himself, with broad shoulders, a black coat, gambler’s hat, and hair to match. That meant the night posse had done more recruiting.
Good. Perhaps the big man would put some fear into Blake’s heart.
Nelsen had ridden off toward the woods, where he lived in a cabin with Heidi, just far enough out of town to enjoy the forest calm and fresh air. Had he not shied away from marriage, that might have been Creed’s life. Instead, he lived and worked alone. Family lost. Love lost. He wondered how much longer he could push aside the ache.
He washed in a bath house on Pacific Avenue then returned to the federal post to bunk down for the night. Some men, after a day like Creed's, might have had trouble sleeping, weary but worried. Creed had worked hard on July third. Though Blake remained hidden, they would find him.
He shut his eyes and within a few minutes, entered a dark sleep.
On July fourth, Creed spent the day seeking leads in Railroad Flats. Some deputies kept watch in the area while others put up wanted posters. One announced a bounty of two thousand dollars for Blake, another, one thousand for Heilong. The artist had produced a good likeness of Blake using a photograph that had made it into various newspapers. The picture of Heilong looked like a generic, beardless white man, even after Creed had brought Jason Nash in from Iron Nelly’s to describe him.
Around seven in the evening, hundreds of citizens, many in their best Sunday clothes, rode or walked through Railroad Flats to the boardwalk. American flags flew all along Beach Street. Just after eight, the fireworks started, rocketing up from the wharf over the bay. Booms, crackling, whistles, stars exploding into constellations, and fiery flashes of light filled the clear sky.
Creed rode Johann uphill on Center Street and back into town to the marshal post. Both Nelsen’s and McClary’s steeds stood hitched outside.
Creed tied Johann beside them and stepped into the office where a bulb in the ceiling cast sharp light over the men, McClary sitting at the desk, spectacles half-way down his nose, Nelsen leaning over it as they studied a pile of papers.
The alluring scent of fresh coffee nearly tempted Creed to pour himself a mug, but he decided food and drink could wait for his scheduled meeting with Anna Lynn Boyd. That afternoon, Mayor Cooper had confirmed the engagement and promised that El Cuarto Trasero, where Anna would treat him, was one of the best restaurants in the city, even better than the fine food at Anna’s own parlor. Creed needed a good meal after such a dull day. The clues seemed to have dried up entirely.
“What have you learned?” Creed nodded at the notes that he, Nelsen, and their posse had taken. “Anything we’ve missed?”
Nelsen looked at him with a long frown. “Nothing we haven’t gone over a dozen times.”
“He’s bound to make an appearance soon. He's too restless, too much of a troublemaker. He can't hold out for long.”
“Maybe it's the leg wound,” said Nelsen. “You've got great aim, and you shot him good.”
As McClary read over a page, his hand rested on a payment ledger. For those sixteen or so men helping, the money earned would be but a stipend, but Creed wished they could help more. Perhaps he could donate some of his own salary.
“We have unconfirmed sightings,” McClary said, “and a dozen mismatching descriptions of Blake. Anyone who can afford a paper should know exactly what he looks like.”
Creed shook his head. “People don’t always make a lot of sense. I’ve got some notes to take, then my meeting with the madam.”
“Don’t get your hopes up. She’s not a working dove anymore.” McClary put one page down and grabbed another.
Creed ignored the comment and retrieved a few sheets of paper, a pen, and ink from Nelsen’s desk. He considered typing his notes, but they amounted to little. He could write them quickly enough. Ten years ago, there had been no electric lights and no steam generators, aside from train and steamboat engines, and no typewriters.
The fireworks, banging and popping like guns, ended about twenty minutes after they started. Creed continued to work and at last checked his pocket watch. Ten minutes to nine, it read, which meant time to ride to the restaurant to meet Anna Boyd.
He set his notes aside and went to the front door. “I will see you fellas in the morning.”
“You watch out for her,” Nelsen said.
“She's a prostitute, why else?”
“Former,” said McClary. “Don’t you listen? She runs a fine establishment. You go ahead, James. Let her pay her respects to you. You've earned it.”
Creed tipped his hat and stepped outside.
Streetlamps lit the road like early twilight, and a chill drifted in from the ocean. It would take Creed just a few minutes astride Johann to reach the restaurant, across the San Lorenzo River. If the madam had already arrived, he felt sure she could wait.
Just as Creed began riding up Center street, behind him came a deafening boom. Another firework? It couldn’t be. Too loud.
Creed looked back and gasped in horror.
Flames licked at the station window. Smoke rose as the fire danced along the edge of the roof. On the breeze rose a smell like burned bananas. Johann reared back and Creed held tight to the reins.
“Down!” he called. Johann staggered and the marshal leaped from its back. He swatted his steed’s behind. “Go!” Johann was loyal like a good dog and he knew they'd find each other.
Creed thought he might be able to enter the building and pull the other marshals free. He dashed toward the door when another explosion thundered inside. Fire erupted across the roof. Creed hoped his jacket would protect him long enough to save both men.
In a second he flew up the porch. The door handle burned his flesh. Inside, his breath quickly became ragged. Heat rippled across his face and dried his throat.
McClary lay in the doorway to Nelsen's office. Creed stepped back. The fire was thick around the man's crisping body. No, Creed thought, around the halves of his body. McClary’s midsection was gone, and his upper torso and legs burned. It seemed he had pounced on a stick of dynamite.
Nelsen lay by the desk, shirt and pants on fire, but possibly alive. Creed lifted his friend and backed him out the door and down the stairs. He dragged him a good ninety feet into the road, removed his own coat, and squelched the flames on his friend.
Creed glanced up at a cacophony of cries. From windows above, and in front of nearby buildings, Santa Cruzans stared, faces aghast.
The fire spread fast over the outside of the federal marshal post. “Hold on, partner,” Creed said to Nelsen and rushed to free the horses. A breeze blew smoke into the street, but he could still make out the suffering animals, bucking in fear.
“You shot me, you son of a bitch!” came a shout.
Creed drew a pistol and wheeled toward the voice of Corwin Blake.
The outlaw strode through the haziness and fired.
Creed shot back, but pain flared in his chest, and his own bullet went wild. He fell, scarcely noticing how hard his coccyx hit the packed earth. The marshal rolled to his side and tried to aim steadily, but his hands burned and his arm shook.
Blake turned to Nelsen, who had risen to his knees. Nelsen pointed his gun. Two shots banged and splatter left the back of Nelsen’s head. He tumbled, knees still bent.
Creed’s scream came out nearly silent as he fired over and over, all shots speeding past Blake’s head. The outlaw sauntered forward with a wicked smile. His gun cracked and Creed's right shoulder jerked back. A second shot tore across his cheek.
A high voice shouted “No!” It seemed so faint that as he toppled back, Creed wondered if it came from the afterlife. Perhaps his wife, calling him home.
Somehow, as Blake turned and ran, Creed still lived. A silhouette in the smoke, Blake unhitched Nelsen’s horse, mounted, and rode northward.
From somewhere behind the blazing post rode a large man on a chestnut steed, black coat streaming behind him, a metal ball at his horse's side glistening red with the flames.
To the screams of the crowd, U.S. Marshal James “Bodacious” Creed died.COLLAPSE
Laura on https://www.audible.com/pd/Bodacious-Creed-Audiobook/B078T1XJV4 wrote:
Since I recently read and reviewed the eBook BODACIOUS CREED, I concentrated on the narration while listening to the Audible edition. I have often read print books and then listened to the audio version in the past; however, I have not done this before in such close proximity in time. Where the author of the words in print dictates the tone of a book, it is the narrator that is the tone of the audiobook. D. Golden's use of her voice gives each character distinct personality. Her voice for the nineteen year old sociopath, Corwin Blake, is irritatingly spot on.
I did notice that Ms. Golden pronounced one or two words throughout the book in a way that made me think she is pretty young and unfamiliar with them. Most notably, the way she said 'hearth' which, by some reckoning, might be a somewhat archaic term.
I often wonder if the popularity of audiobooks goes beyond convenience. When I listen, the days of bedtime stories always crosses my mind. This may also be due to the fact that I almost can't go to sleep without reading my own version of the bedtime story. The drawback, of course, to listening before sleep is that one can lose one's place and have to figure out just how far back to go in order to get the whole story. I read the eBook so recently that if I did miss a bit in the listening, memory filled in the blanks. I have also gotten in the habit of noting the Audible chapter number (which always seems to be the author's chapter plus one) before I turn out the light.
So much for the audiobook; on to the book review. Having read and listened just days apart, the following is my review of the book as it appears on Goodreads and Amazon.
When I was a kid, I was a big fan of TV westerns. In my old age, I have become a big fan of steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy, in all of its many forms. BODACIOUS CREED is a perfect marriage of the wild, wild West and steam.
As we grow older, it is sometimes difficult to remember those little joys of childhood. I am reminded of a time when I was 8 or 9 years old when I used to play TV westerns with the kid next door. We had bikes for horses and six-shooter cap guns. We became the heroes and bad guys from our favorite shows. We had no grass or dirt paths, but in a child's imagination, even concrete Bronx sidewalks can be dusty trails with tumbleweeds. Jonathan Fesmire brought all that back with his descriptions of U.S. Marshals, bounty hunters, and their horses.
What I am not is a fan of current zombie fiction… no Walking Dead for me. Such zombies are just too nihilistic. I have always had a fascination with Voodoo and its tradition of creating a zombie slaves. As horrible as that may be, at least they don't feed on others to make more of their kind.
So how do steampunk cowboys end up with zombies? Steampunk is a very broad spectrum sub-genre of science fiction. As such, there is an 'anything goes' acceptance of everything so long as it runs on steam and can be described as mechanical. Extrapolate from that the need for gears and levers and add in the ether (or aether) and you have all the ingredients for raising the dead with science rather than ritual.
Although the setting is Santa Cruz, California, there is a Dodge Cityesque saloon run by a "soiled dove." Anna Lynn Boyd is the strong, intelligent woman who happens to be the madam of The House of the Amber Doves. This is her story as much as it is U.S. Marshal James Creed's.
While reading BODACIOUS CREED, the movie "Cowboys and Aliens" kept coming to mind. That was a must see movie for me that I truly enjoyed. There is something about the flavor of this book and that movie that seem to overlap. Also, if you are a fan of the Will Smith movie "The Wild, Wild West" you might just love this book as much as I did.
So without telling the story, what we have here is a well-written tale capable of making an old soul feel young again. That feat of legerdemain is accomplished with charismatic, well developed characters and writing that pays homage to attention to detail without getting bogged down in repetitive minutia.
I would highly recommend that upon finishing this book you avail yourself of the short story offer on Jonathan Fesmire's website. "The Obstructed Engine" provides a starting point for some of the characters in the Creedverse.
Oh yes, and I love the cover art.
T.Vogt 'Kindle Addict' on http://amzn.to/2uLdE1q wrote:
Really need to make this story into a movie.
Loved the steampunk and western mix. Both two genres I never normally go towards. The science and the steampunk was extremely well thought out, you could tell the Author had thought a great deal about this side of the story. It was great to see a female of that time be one of the main characters and a badass. Both physically and mentally.
Really need to make this story into a movie.
Mallory Kelly on http://amzn.to/2uLdE1q wrote:
There aren't enough stars to rate this as high as I want to, so I'll juzt say it't a great read and you are dumber then a box of rocks if you don't read it..
Yes it mentions ladies of the evening but not so graphic that you have to cover you tween or teens eyes.. If they have watched Bonanza or Gunsmoke they can figure it out without the birds and bees talk..dear lord I dated myself mentioning those shows...It kinda has that touch of the Wild West movie Will Smith did, but better plot lines.. YES I said better....Between the blurb telling what you will read mentions zombies, you gotta laugh when the band has that name before a zombie is made !!
I loved working Tesla into the story because I have been a fan of his far more then Edison..While some parts remind me of other steam punk books I have read, making it a old Western was a really nice touch.. The story is complete you aren't left hanging off a cliff a huge pet peave I have I must admit I hated when I couldn't read it..And found I flew thru it as fast as possible when I could. Recommending this book is easy.. I was asked to read it free for a review, but mostly If I am interested enough I buy the book so if I give it a bad review it's honest and from the book and i didn't click and Owe no one anything but a honest read. I also know that there are times I just hate the piece, but in cases like that I try to come back in a few days and re-read it. A review of a book is looking at it with a open mind and see where the story takes you if you are in a I hate the world mood then you need to know and come back fresh eyes and mind.
Todd Simpson on http://amzn.to/2uLdE1q wrote:
Resurrected gunslinger with cyborg enhancements! Yes, please. I've never read anything quite like this novel and as a lover of westerns, sci-fi, zombies, and horror, it was appealing to my tastes while being unique and fresh (no pun intended).
I enjoyed the minimalistic setting. Western to the core: brothels, old-school jail cells, dusty streets and graveyards. The way Fesmire writes, you don't have to be a history buff to understand the cultural climate of Santa Cruz but there is not an ounce of boring historical exposition slowing down the action. The setting is masterfully done, with the bare information you need to see it and the freedom to create the rest in your imagination. The steampunk aspects are also done this way, so as long as you trust your own visualization then whatever particular segment of steampunk you prefer, this book will please you.
The female main character does not sound as though she's been written by a man, which is something that turns me off from many books. Anna is smart, strong, and living as a capable and unique woman in her circumstances. She isn't overly emotional but she isn't heartless. All around a likeable character.
This story had Western-style fights with a little martial arts, a heroically vengeful zombie, classic villians, a mafia-style ruthless criminal underground, enough love story to be sweet without being a sappy romance, and just the right amount of believability in the face of STEAMPUNK ZOMBIES. It's a must-read!
Excellent Book. Jonathan Fesmire has done a fabulous job in writing this very entertaining story. It’s not only the characters that make this such an enjoyable story, but the plot is very good as well. There’s always something happening in the story, and it’s probably why it didn’t take me long to get to the end. It’s also the technology used in an era that you wouldn’t expect to see it, that made this book quite unique and interesting to read.
US Marshall James ‘Bodacious’ Creed had quite a reputation as one of the best Marshalls going around. If he had you in his sights, then he would normally succeed in hunting you down, and either bringing you in for justice, or ending your life in a shootout. So, it irked him no end when he couldn’t succeed in capturing Corwin Blake, a well-known murder and thief. Even though Anna owns and runs a brothel, she’s one of the smartest people alive. The technology she’s created has achieved some amazing advances for the eighteenth century, however the thing she wants more than anything else, is to get to know her father again. It’s quite ironic that he was her protector in her early years growing up, and now the roles are reversed, and it’s Anna who is now looking out for the wellbeing of Creed. He didn’t come off all that well in his recent encounter with Blake, and it’s only after Anna was able to put him back together, that he was able to once again go on the hunt for Blake. Creed needs to be careful though, as there are others out there that want to get their hands on him. This story is full of adventure and intrigue, and is definitely worth adding to your reading list.
Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western takes place in an alternate Santa Cruz, California, in 1876. In includes resurrection using steam-era technology, gunfights, automatons, zombies, outlaws, and a lot more.