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Walking Dead – Chapter One

Well, it’s Friday, so that’s “later this week,” and as promised, here’s the first chapter of the new novel, Walking Dead.

I have no firm release date as yet other than “Summer ’09.” Discussions with my editor have lead me to believe it could be as early as the end of May, perhaps June, maybe July, but certainly by August, depending on what else is on Bantam’s publishing schedule. That being said, though, the book is pretty close to locked; I’m awaiting the copy-edit, which will, in turn, lead to requisite minor revisions. But structurally and story-wise, we’re final.

Unlike Patriot Acts, this is not a direct continuation from the previous novel in the Kodiak series, although it begins with the status quo as implied at the end of the previous novel; for those following who’ve been following Atticus, Walking Dead begins some three years after the end of Patriot Acts. If you’ve never read the series before, you should be able to dive into this one without confusion. In fact, that was one of the things I was hoping to accomplish in this book, that the reader could come to it with no prior experience of the series.

All in all, I suspect I’ll post the first three chapters in the coming months leading up to the release; I may post more, I’m undecided. If you’ve never read my prose work before, figure this is a good way to wet your whistle. For the rest of you who know the novels, I hope you enjoy this first taste. Comments welcome, of course.



Chapter One

People came to Kobuleti to hide. It’s why we were there, and it’s why Bakhar Lagidze had brought his family there, and I knew it, and I never asked him why.

I should have.

I was awake but unsure of it, my eyes suddenly open, the last whispers of dream vanishing, leaving me with no true memory, just the impression that it had been unpleasant, that I had done things of which I was not proud. Full-moon blue filtered into the bedroom, shadows swayed behind the thin curtains as long pine boughs rocked in the breeze.

Our dog, Miata, an old Doberman with no voice, was pacing at the door. I tried to focus my blurred vision on him as he turned a circle in place, raised a paw to scratch at the door, then glanced back my way. I fumbled my glasses off the nightstand and onto my nose, watched as he repeated the sequence. It had been the noise or the motion or both that had pulled me from sleep, and I knew the behavior for what it was, and it shifted me fully awake, and I put a hand on Alena’s shoulder.

“Trouble,” I said.

She murmured, refusing to surface.

“Wake up.” I’d been speaking in Georgian, now switched to Russian. “Trouble.”

I looked to the door in time to see Miata finish another circuit, this time to fix me with a plea in his eyes. Any other dog, I’d have thought he was fighting a weak bladder. I slipped out of bed, felt the hardwood immediately leech heat from my feet. There was a pistol in the nightstand drawer. I put the gun down long enough to pull on my jeans.

“What’s going on?” Alena asked.

“Miata’s got something.”

She looked at me blearily, half-heartedly shook her head, as if unsure she was dreaming this or not. “Not the alarm?”

“I’ll check. Stay here.”

She was readying a pistol of her own as I left the room.

The two laptops that ran our security system lived in the linen closet beside the bathroom, on the shelf above the towels. I could feel Miata’s moist breath against my bare ankles as I checked each. No alerts, nothing had been tripped. Nothing on the video. Nothing in the logs. It occurred to me that Miata was now an old dog, and maybe he really did need to take a leak, nothing more.

Then he bolted away down the hall, paws skidding on the floor. I followed more slowly and caught up with him at the back door. Together we listened to the night, and whatever it was he was hearing, I wasn’t. I opened the door, and stepped out after him into the summer darkness.

The air was close to cold, chilled as it came in off the Black Sea, with threads of thin fog hanging in the trees, and it was as dead silent outside the house as it had been within. I thought about going back for a shirt, but Miata had begun cautiously trotting towards the woods that ringed our house, muzzle and ears both raised, and he clearly wasn’t in a mood to wait. Two will-o-wisps, dim halos, blinked at me as a car came along the road that cut through the forest in the distance. The sound of the engine followed a second later, but barely, the vehicle easily half a mile away, turning along the road that lead to the Lagidze home. The light and the sound faded.

I followed Miata to the edge of the tree-line, where it bordered our backyard, put a hand on his back to calm him. Alena and I had cut down several of the trees in the past two years to clear eye-lines to the perimeter, and we still had four cords of wood split and stacked and ready to keep us warm through the coming winter.

Then I heard the shots.

This time, Miata had to follow me.

Flat run, barefoot, in the forest, in the dark, it took me almost three minutes to cover the distance, and I counted gunshots as I ran. I heard a total of fourteen more, all of them sounding as if spoken by the same weapon. An engine turned as I reached the edge of the dirt road leading to Bakhar’s house, and the car it belonged to was already in gear and accelerating, and the lights hit me. The driver’s response to seeing me, shirtless, barefoot, and armed, was to floor the Land Cruiser and swerve it in my direction.

My answer was to get the hell out of the way as fast as I could, and when I got to my feet again, the car had already shot around the bend, taillights retreating. Miata burst out of the woods, racing in the direction of the house. I went after him. A second Land Cruiser was parked outside of the darkened house, its tail to Bakhar’s beat-up Opel, and I could see three men heading for the larger vehicle. The night stole details, but I saw that two of them were armed, and one of them had a long gun, the distinctive silhouette of an AK, and maybe Miata didn’t care, but I sure as hell did.

“Back!” I shouted the command in Russian, and Miata took it immediately, veering off sharply, into the cover of the woods on the right.

I went left, and had just enough time to put a tree between myself and the AK before the shots came. Whoever was on the trigger knew his business and controlled his bursts, sending three my way in short order. The Land Cruiser started up right after the third salvo. I broke cover to run alongside the road, using the trees, and the AK shouted at me again, and this time I got a fix on the shooter and returned fire, two double-taps that went true.

A door slammed, and the Land Cruiser shot forward, then past, then was gone.

I brought my pistol down, tried to get my heart rate and breathing to follow suit. Miata edged out of the shadows on the other side of the road, followed me as I went to check on the man I’d shot. His legs had folded beneath him where he’d collapsed, the AK lying parallel to his knees. The moonlight lit him well, and I could see he was Caucasian, probably Eastern European, which was hardly a surprise, considering that was where we were. I found a wallet and a wad of Euros on him and took both, stuffing them into my own pockets. I picked up the AK, gave it a quick check.

The night had gone quiet again.

I looked toward my friend’s house. The front door was ajar, perforated with shots. Moonlight dropped a shadow that filled the entrance with darkness.

“Bakhar?”

I didn’t get an answer. I didn’t expect one.

I already knew what I was going to find.

45 Responses to Walking Dead – Chapter One

  1. librarygorilla

    What with the first person, I briefly read “Comments welcome, of course” as part of the chapter, which amused a lot more than it ought to have.

  2. admin

    D’oh!

    I should fix that….

  3. lithera

    To read or not to read. I have yet to catch up to this point…

    Of course considering at the speed I read, I’ll be caught up before the end of next week….

    Choices, choices.

  4. sd6

    The appetizer was excellent. I’ll definitely order the entree and dessert.

  5. nealbailey

    Damned fine. But now I’m pissed off, because I want to read more. But then, that’s exactly what you want, no doubt…

    I’m thinking in my head, “What’s he feel like now that he’s, you know, what he did last novel?” whereas the general reader’s gonna be like, “Woo! Kick ass action!” I gotta wait a few chapters, no doubt, but I want to.

    Win-win.

    Actually, my last book opened with a dude running barefoot through the woods. I love that image. Just that, “Oh, you’re not only thrust into the WILDERNESS, you don’t even have SHOES, man. Desperation!”

    Love it. And anyone who’s been camping and had to do the weak bladder thing knows how when you step out into that cold night without shoes, you realize how precarious it all is.

  6. mattokeefe

    I’m planning on buying the paperback for Patriot Acts, so I’ll have to wait a couple months to read this. Looking forward to it.

  7. superleezard

    I usually don’t buy hardcovers but I always get the Atticus hardcovers because I just can’t wait. Awesome opening chapter, I’m really looking forward to reading more.

  8. davidwynne

    Oh FUCK yes.

  9. jared465

    Can’t Wait!

    Sweet. Reminded me of PA – out of the gates like a shot!

  10. hdefined

    I refuse to read it because it’s going to annoy the hell out of me that I can’t read the rest. I’m eagerly awaiting the whole thing, though!

  11. stealthbunny

    Drat… am I going to be lost because I haven’t read PA yet?

    Or am I going to hate you all over again because I can’t read MORE of this yet?

    Or (most likely) both? :P

  12. darthsleuth

    I don’t know how reliable it is, but Amazon has a release date of April 28th.

    http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Dead-Greg-Rucka/dp/055380474X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222473430&sr=1-1

  13. gabbicus

    I loves ya, but you are an evil, evil man!
    I wants to read this, but I know if I do, I will be like a crack fiend for the next SEVERAL months. I have YET to have one of you books, that I actually managed to put down without reading at least half of it. Your last one, I said… “just one chapter, baby. Then, I’ll turn the light out.” 4 in the morning came far too quickly. ;)
    BUT, it is a taste…hmmm what to do. what to do…

  14. fluidbeauty

    thanks!

    just finished re-reading the series about a month ago, and i’m very, very grateful to get this early look. which sucked me in immediately. also: I miss Erika. What’s she up to? Did she graduate? Does she hate Atticus? are we done with her?

  15. chiefseamonkey

    I knew I shouldn’t have read this. I am fiending for more.

    Can’t wait to read more.

  16. admin

    It’s a nice meal, tastes dandy, and I think leaves a pleasant after-taste.

  17. supergodginrai

    I don’t know if I want to read…
    On one hand, it’s new Atticus related material…
    On the other hand, it’ll just completely drive me insane NOT being able to finish the book right away lol.

  18. admin

    And bless you for buying the hardcovers!

    I’ll post chapter 2 this coming Friday, I think. And then I’ll probably stop for a while…otherwise I’ll end up putting the whole book online before it actually comes out, and my publisher will be angry.

  19. admin

    Fair enough.

  20. admin

    Nah, you can read this not knowing PA.

  21. admin

    This is news to me. Not sure it’s accurate, but I suppose it’s possible.

  22. admin

    Well, yeah, but you knew that I was an evil, evil man, and have known that for several years, now.

    (Your husband has a copy of the draft, you know. You could always go and beat on him to get access.)

  23. admin

    Re: thanks!

    You’ll find out (some) of what Erika’s been up to in the novel, yes.

  24. admin

    I love your avatar. I need more Venture Bros. avatars!

  25. admin

    See, and the nice thing? You don’t have to decide right now! It’ll be here for a while!

  26. supergodginrai

    It’s too late, I made the decision and I need more! lol

  27. fluidbeauty

    Re: thanks!

    thanks for letting me know – and for including that in the novel. how are you liking the experiment of posting chapters? or is it too soon to have an opinion?

  28. stealthbunny

    I did. I read. I want more. Please. Now. *ahem*

    Only quibble I’ve got (and it’s a somewhat moot/minor one, probably). Alena is (through my hazy memory, cause it’s been a while since I read the last one) Drama, right? So… one of the most feared assassins in the world, and … she’s hard to wake up at the first sign of trouble?

    Or has something happend in PA to calm her down and I’ve missed that. (Yeah, right… YOU tame characters, riiiiight).

  29. jmorse

    Nice start so far, Greg.

    I’m always torn when a new Atticus novel hits the shelf. 95% of me is dying to read it NOW. The other 5% is already setting myself up for the inevitable.

    It’s a credit that an author creates such strong characters that you wanna cry when you lose one.

    So, you big fat jerk. Which one of my friends dies this time?

  30. chiefseamonkey

    Thanks! MY girlfriend made them for me. She’s the one with the Hotoshop-fu.

    Here’s all the ones I’ve got. Feel free to take as many as you want!






  31. admin

    Yeah…funny that, huh? You’d think Alena would’ve been up and shooting people before Atticus had his glasses on…might be something in that…

    …or maybe, you know…she’s just become a deep sleeper. ;)

  32. stealthbunny

    Yeah… funny…

    You scare me, Greg.

    That’s not a bad thing, you know. But… you scare me.

    ….good god, she’s not preggers is she?? And that’s why she’s sleeping so …

    Noooo…. can’t be…. that would be EVIL….

    But… then again… you scare me, Greg.

  33. jaywillson

    Walking Dead

    Greg -

    You have no idea how happy this makes me, to see another Kodiak novel on the way. I have loved this series so much and have always admired how you’ve been able to top yourself with each book. I can’t wait!

    Thanks for the taste.

    Jay

  34. gabbicus

    My way worked better. GREAT read thusfar.

  35. superleezard

    Hey, I’d love to read a chapter a week but yeah, you probably wouldn’t get away with that. Ugh, come on Summer ’09!

  36. gabbicus

    awesome!

    Just finished it! AWESOME! I do not wish to say more, for fear of spoilers…but, I think you are right..you don’t have to have read the other books to get a really, really good read out of this one. Everything is explained as part of the story, so if you know these characters, you don’t feel like there is packpeddling, but if you don’t the interactions are explained pretty readily.

  37. admin

    Love them!

  38. admin

    Uhm…how do you define “friend?”

    ;)

  39. admin

    Re: Walking Dead

    You’re more than welcome. I’m trying to be more prompt about manuscript delivery; cutting back on comics will help with that.

  40. jmorse

    Aw shit. I could rebel and say I’m not gonna buy the book to spite you but we both know the truth.

  41. lithera

    That’s where I went too. I haven’t read PA either.

    This is …. scary.

    But awesome.

    We can sit over here in the corner together.

  42. stealthbunny

    Coolness! I’ll bring popcorn!

  43. lithera

    I like popcorn. That’s a deal!

  44. altonralsotn

    Walking Dead

    Greg,

    I want you to know that I laughed out loud, cringed, shifted, sighed, hummed, and made other sounds and motions while reading six straight Atticus novels. My wife used to ask what my problem was. After finishing Acts I begged her to read them straight through. She finished Critical Space last night and we talked about it today at lunch and she couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. She’s hooked too. We can’t wait for the Dead. Thanks for the books. They are near the top of the enjoyment list.

    Alton

  45. kiddofsteel

    Kodiak

    Love this character. Love these stories. I love your comics works, but the Atticus Kodiak series is definately amazing. Thank you, thank you, for your fine work.

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