Anthology Title: The Will to Survive: An Anthology for Hurricane Relief
Story Title and Authors:
“All the Optimism of Hamlet” by M.L. Katz
“Code EMP” by M.P. McDonald
“The Shimmers” by Kelly Hudson
“The Worst Case Scenario” by C.A. Rudolph
“PHASE 6” by A.J. Norris
“Double or Nothing” by Clabe R. Polk
“Wooly” by Shane Gregory
“Brothers by Dust” by Timothy Johnson
“The Collective” by Patrick D'Orazio
“The Last Charter” by Steven Bird
“The Spread” by Shaun Schubert
“Fractured Hope” by Chris Pike
“Into the Valley of the Shadow” by Sean T. Smith
“Above the Line” by Josh Hilden
“Make My Day” by Mike Sheridan
“Replica” by Stephen North
“Showdown at Rig City” by Jamie Mason
“These Things the Kitten Said” by D.J. Goodman
“A Single Stone” by Joshua Guess
“The Angel of Lafayette” by Jonathan Yanez
“Last Bus Out” by Brad Munson
Edited by Felicia Sullivan
Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic survival short stories
Book cover design by Hristo Argirov Kovatliev (https://hristokovatliev.crevado.com)
Blurb taken from the short story “Double or Nothing” by Clabe Polk
Because it looped in the Gulf of Mexico, hitting Cuba twice, doing untold damage, and killing many Cubans, some said the Great Cuban Hurricane of 1910 was the work of the Devil.
Some of the older people in the Cuban mountains say that the Devil drove teams of demons with whips, clearing paths through the mountains wherever they went.
But eyewitnesses in Florida swear that the Devil, or at least his minions, was elsewhere that night.
Additional background to provide context for the story:
The Great Cuban Hurricane of 1910 destroyed thousands of homes in the mountains of western Cuba and is credited with killing more than a hundred Cubans. It came ashore in Florida at Punta Rassa at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, near Sanibel Island, proceeding up the Florida peninsula to Jacksonville, where it swept the Carolina coast before exiting into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Schultz Company Hotel at Punta Rassa, originally built to accommodate the needs of the International Ocean Cable Company (eventually to become Western Union) and the “cracker” cowboys bringing herds of Florida range cattle for shipment to Cuba, became a sport fishing center and endured the Great Cuban Hurricane of 1910 before burning to the ground in 1913.
The town of Indianola, Texas was totally destroyed by a Category 4 hurricane on August 19, 1886.
Excerpt From: “Double or Nothing” by Clabe Polk:
Jake poured more whiskey into their glasses. “Don’t know about that,” said Bart. “Strikes me the wind’s blown the water out to sea. Look at the river.”
“Can’t see much in the dark. Yeah, the breakers are way out there.”
“It’ll be back before morning,” Jake said. “What kind of fools wouldn’t leave anyway?” Pointing at the bottles on the shelf along the rear wall, he said, “The water’s likely to be up to there in this bar when it comes back in.”
“Same fools that ain’t lived through a hurricane, I reckon. Folks like you, I guess…you and our other guest,” the bartender said. “You’ve probably heard of him, Amos Puckett. The Reverend Amos Puckett, that is.”
“We should have ridden out hours ago,” Jake muttered to Bart. Turning to the bartender, he asked, “Who the hell is Amos Puckett? Why would I have heard of him?”
A small smile creased the bartender’s face. “Speak of the devil and look who appears,” he said, nodding toward the stairs. Bart and Jake watched a tall man of middle age wearing a long black coat amble regally down the stairs. “Reverend Puckett in the flesh,” muttered the bartender under his breath.
Puckett nodded to the cowboys without expression and followed it with a hard stare fixed on the bartender. “I see your den of iniquity is open for business,” he growled.
“Every day, sir, storms or no. Tryin’ to feed my young’uns.”
Puckett leaned on the counter and faced the two cowboys. “You gentlemen would do well to consider your immortal souls before you drink that stuff. Demon rum will damn your soul to Hell just as surely as those ladies of the night in whose company you’ve doubtless been.”
The wind gusted violently, whistling loudly around the corner of the building, slamming the loose shutter violently with a bang! Bart tensed at the sound, his eyes moving frenetically around the room for signs of danger. Seeing none, he raised
a slightly unsteady hand holding his glass in a mock salute to Puckett then drank it down. “My immortal soul is doing quite well, thank you, sir,” Jake drawled. “I doubt it needs any help from you.”
Reverend Puckett frowned. “Are you not acquainted with the evil effects of strong drink, sir?”
“Yeah…yeah, I am,” Jake replied. “The next morning gets pretty evil sometimes.” Bart laughed out loud.
“Please, sir, allow me to introduce myself,” Puckett said. “I’m the Reverend Amos Puckett, traveling from Tampa to Cuba where I have founded a mission. The Lord has favored me to be an instrument to save some of the lost souls in Cuba.”
Still laughing, Bart said, “No disrespect intended, my friend, but I’m sure the Cubans will be as thankful as we will when you return to Cuba.”
Silence reigned while Puckett digested the bile rising in his stomach from Bart’s insult. He was not armed, and he was a man of God. There was nothing he could do but take it.
The wind’s howl was stronger, rattling the pane. The whole building shook; the loose shutter banged. Without warning, the outside door crashed open against the wall as though kicked open by a herd of stampeding cows.
Whirling, everyone stared at the door. Two men stood there, cascades of water shedding from their clothes and hats, collecting in pools on the floor. They were dressed alike in pitch black pants, shirts, coats, and hats. Shiny black boots now dripping mud on the barroom floor completed their extraordinary look.
“Damned weather! Why is it always like this?” the taller of the two said, hanging his coat on a coat tree and walking to the bar, dripping water as he went. The second man remained by the door.
Nodding a greeting to the tall man, the bartender said, “Come on in, partner! Nasty weather out there. Come in and get out of it.”
“Lookin’ for somebody. Anybody else stop in here tonight?”
“Just us chickens. No roosters, if that’s what you mean. No hens either, come to think of it. You got a name?”
“Me? Or who I’m lookin’ for?”
“You’ll do, seein’ as you’re the one here.”
“Strickland. Yeah, Strickland will work for tonight.”
“Get you a drink, Mr. Strickland?”
“Maybe later.” Crossing the room, he sat down at a table. “Hear that, Kincaid? They ain’t here yet.”
Kincaid took off his coat, hung it on the coat tree, and joined Strickland. “Yeah, that’s good. That’s real good. Hey, bartender, got any whiskey? This weather calls for a drink.”
“Whoa, my good man!” Puckett injected. “Have you ever considered that strong drink can damn your immortal soul?”
Kincaid looked Puckett squarely in the eyes and asked, “Who might you be?”
“I’ll tell you who he is.” Strickland studied Puckett head to toe like a bird might examine a worm before gobbling it down. “He’s the Reverend Amos Puckett, soul saver extraordinaire. Cuba rejoices when Mr. Puckett comes home almost as much as they party while he’s away. When Puckett’s away, the Devil will play, and the people will pay come judgment day!”
“How do you know me, sir?” demanded Puckett. “I don’t believe I’ve had the privilege of making your acquaintance.”
“Oh, I knew you when you was a young man. When you had other, shall we say, preoccupations besides saving souls.”
“Well I never…” Puckett began indignantly. He drew closer to Strickland, demanding eye contact. Catching the full force of Strickland’s eyes, Puckett lowered his voice. “As I was saying, I was a much different man in my younger days. Perhaps our paths crossed back then.”
“I’m sure they did. Yeah, that must have been it,” Strickland said sarcastically.
The lull in conversation was filled by the screech of the wind and the constant roar of the pounding rain on the roof. Puckett withdrew to a table near the back of the room, his lips mumbling words no one could hear.
“Hey, bartender!” yelled Kincaid. “Where’s that drink? Better yet, bring the whole bottle.”
This is an especially good deal. Readers can get a lot of great stories (22 stories, 409 pages) by excellent authors for just $2.99 (or $11.95 for the paperback) and help others at the same time.
CLABE POLK is into a second career as a writer of fiction. So far, he has written four novels, three novellas, several short stories, and has a couple of other novels in process.
A lifelong reader with a great variety of life experiences, Mr. Polk brings an avid interest in natural sciences and more than thirty-seven years of professional environmental protection program management and law enforcement experience to his writing.
He lives in Powder Springs, Georgia with his wife, two daughters, and the family’s Cockapoo named Annie.
Social Media Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClabePolk (@ClabePolk)