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Q: We’re here today with Ashton Daigle, author of The Long Hunt, for a little Q&A. How are you today? Thanks for being here. It’s good to see you again.
AD: It’s good to be seen. Thanks for having me
Q: Well for those of us who are unfamiliar with your work give us a little background.
AD: I began writing professionally in 1998 for newspapers. I was still in college when I got my first reporter job. I did that for over ten years.
Q: Do you still?
AD: No. Barring the occasional freelance article, I seldom write newspapers or magazines. I shifted away from journalism a few years after Hurricane Katrina.
AD: Yeah, to a degree there was some of that. It also just became harder and harder to make earn a decent living on reporter wages.
The wind gusted and brought the rain down in sweeping sheets as Emma fumbled deftly with the handle of the screen door. The latch finally gave and way Emma opened the door partway so Viola could come in. Viola, who was carrying a large brown shopping bag from A&P, scurried past Emma and into the front room of the lake house. Just as Emma was about to shut the screen door, the wind violently wrenched the door from her grasp and it blew up against the wood-frame house with a whack.
Instead of trying to retrieve it, Emma simply shut the main door.
“Get in here and dry off Viola, before you catch your death,” Emma said. “Let me get you a towel.”
“You ain’t got to worry with me Miss Emma,” Vila said. “I’ll drip dry.”
Never you mind,” Emma said and took the cumbersome bag from Viola. She walked through the front room and into the kitchen and then ducked into the small bathroom in the hallway and came back with a towel.
“Here,” she said handing the towel to Viola, who was removing her now soaked wind breaker. “I’ll take that. Come on in the kitchen and get you a cup of coffee. I just dripped it.”
Emma took the wind breaker hung it on the bathroom door knob and then turned back into the kitchen.
“I’ve been telling John for a week now that he needs to oil the latch to that screen door,” Emma said. It’s always something with him. Same thing with the log under our house. The tides come up and old boards and driftwood float under there and then end up bumping up against the pilings for days or until he gets under there in the boat and fishes’em out.”
“Speaking of, where is Mr. John? Is he already down for his afternoon nap?”
The flight wasn’t very eventful, so Ace used most of the time to sift and sort through supplies. He checked and re-checked the chute a few times to make sure it was in proper working order. Around the fourth time he caught himself checking it, he laughed to himself, realizing trust wasn’t one of his strong suits. But, by the same token, it wasn’t like McCallister instilled much confidence either.
Ace realized the bottom line was that he was walking into a mission that was basically doomed. If he had to calculate his chances of success, he estimated it was only about a 25 percent, and that’s if everything went off completely without a hitch. He knew from experience, that no mission ever went off without a hitch. There were always unknown factors and variables that could screw up your mission, or worse get you killed, in a heartbeat.
He also inventoried his supplies and removed any items that he thought would weigh him down. He kept the essentials which included a combat knife, a machete, the Uzi, the Glock, water purification tablets, the hatchet, a handful of protein bars, a few changes of socks, maps, sun screen, insect repellent. He discarded the heavier and bulky items, like a tent, sleeping bag, shovel, and a flashlight. Flashlights were no good. They could get you killed quickly.
He debated over a 50-foot coil of sturdy rope and a pair of night-vision goggles though. There was always a need for rope, but by the same token it was usually awkward and not easy to use or manipulate, especially in situations where time was of the essence, or in tight and cramped quarters. He ditched the rope, but kept the night vision goggles.
The hangar was a large, open air building with an aging sheet metal roof. Pigeons, or some sort of birds at least, were nested up in the heights of the iron girder frame. Ace noticed them, along with the large shop fans and an old, aging Cessna 182 parked against the far wall. Although he wasn’t cuffed any more, the guards still tailed him and led him to a couple of rectangular collapsible table and rusty and some fold-up chairs.
A tall, thin guy wearing tiger-striped camouflage pants, identical to the ones he’d just been outfitted with, and a sleeveless olive drab tee shirt looked up from a collection of maps that were spread out across one of the tables and extended his hand.
“Hi,” he said. “Mike Adams. I’m going to be your pilot”
Ace shook and shrugged and muttered, “I guess you know who I am.”
Adams smiled wryly and said, “Yeah, unlucky contestant number six. Nice to meet you, but damned if I’d want to be you right now. Billiot and McCallister should be out here any minute now.”
Billiot killed the lights, pulled a remote control from his hand and punched in another code and a large wall monitor protruded from the far wall with a dull click.
“While the rest of the world is scrounging for scraps of food and water, you guys are sitting on all the cool toys here in your fortified compound,” Stabler muttered.
“Put a sock on it Ace,” McCallister said. “The footage you’re about to see was captured from a security feed outside the main gate at our Pueblo base.”
“I see the old Pueblo site is still up and running,” Stabler said. “We never did get around to shutting it down.”
“No, zombie apocalypses tend to sidetrack people.”
“How much mustard gas do we still have down there from World War One?” Stabler asked. “It’s not like chemical weapons work on the undead.”
“That never stopped us from trying,” McCallister said. “I don’t understand the mechanics of all this zombie disease crap, but somehow even though vital functions shut down, part of the CNS is still able to receive messages from the brain, which in turn animates them, so the thought was to concentrate on chemical and biological weapons that would basically cripple brain function.”
“Nice,” Stabler said with a wry grin on his face.
The recycled air that blew through General Harvey McCallister’s subterranean office was cool, but stifling too in some sickening way that made his chief aid, Steve Billiot, feel slightly queasy. The Spartan furnishings and austere grey walls didn’t help that feeling.
Besides a single row of antiquated fluorescent tubes up above, the only light in the office emanated from McCallister’s computer screen which he stared at listlessly as Billiot stood nervously by watching.
“Sir, are we sure this is the only way?” Billiot asked.
McCallister exhaled tiredly and snapped, “I don’t like it any more than you do, but it’s the best shot we have.”
“What if he refuses?” Billiot asked.
“Leave that to me,” replied McCallister.
As he approached his townhouse, his next-door neighbor, Pilar, waved to him from her own sun deck.
“You catch us any breakfast?” she hollered out across the sands, her voice mixing with the winds, the sounds of the surf and the seagull songs.
Zoe glanced up and then saw Pilar and barked in greeting.
Pilar bent down slightly, clapped her hands together and then tapped them on her thighs and said, “Well come on girl. I’m coming down, but c’mon up.”
The waves crashed onto the shore as Roger Tate repositioned his right heel to gain better footing in the frothy sand.
Zoe, his German Shepherd, barked and danced excitedly back and forth across the beach, kicking up miniature tornadoes of sand with her rear paws as Roger’s fishing pole continued to bend at a precipitously awkward angle.
He continue to reel the line in. He snagged the fish, whatever it was, about twenty minutes before. The fish tired, but still had a lot of fight left in it. Roger waded out into the rough wake, where the breakers crashed as he continued to try to reel in his line.
Hi folks. Here’s a story I recently wrote on the history of the West End lighthouse on the south shore. The view from up top as amazing…Hope you enjoy this
It all started with Facebook. Guy Broussard, a Johnny-come-lately particularly when it came to technology, activated his first Facebook account around six months ago shortly after his daughter, Alyssa, decided she was going to move to Baton Rouge to begin her studies at Louisiana State University.
She convinced him to get the account so they could keep in touch with each other, in addition to their iPhones.
Guy wasn’t thrilled with the idea of her moving all the way own to Baton Rouge and he had voiced his protests enthusiastically.