Forrest Carr Bio
Forrest Carr is an award-winning journalist who's spent 33 years in the trenches of local TV news warfare. He's known for strong ethics, outspoken views, and for such innovations as the critically-acclaimed Viewers' Bill of Rights. Take his passion for journalism, mix in his quirky sense of humor, stir, and you have his novel, "Messages." He's also a long-time fan of old-school science fiction, as can be seen in his second work of fiction, "Journal of the Crazy Year" - a zombie apocalypse with a twist (among other things, they're not zombies!) Carr graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications in May of 1980. After working his way up through the ranks as a reporter and producer, he became a TV news director in 1997, and has served in that capacity in the Tampa, Fort Myers, Albuquerque, and Tucson television markets. He has received or shared credit in more than 90 professional awards, including a Suncoast Regional Emmy for investigative reporting, two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative reporting, a Walter Cronkite large-market station award for excellence in television political journalism, and most recently, a national Edward R. Murrow station award for best website. Carr is a co-author of "Broadcast News Handbook," a college textbook published by McGraw-Hill, now in its fifth edition. Carr also writes the Bashful Bloviator Blog. He resides with his wife Deborah and their two cats Ellis and Mina, a.k.a. Butthead 1 and Butthead Also, in Tucson, Arizona.
"A Journal of the Crazy Year" excerpt
The sound of gunfire close by jolted him awake. The first thing he noticed was that the interior of the gym was almost completely black; the lights were off, and the generator that had been running somewhere outside had fallen silent. Judging by the dim light that trickled in at the doors, it appeared the sun was going down.
There was a long burst of gunfire from an automatic weapon, followed by several more scattered shots, and two more long bursts. This didn't sound like someone shooting crazies. It sounded more like a gunfight, and it was happening right outside the gym. He heard engine noises, the sound of brakes, and more firing. There was a crashing of glass, followed by a loud explosion that might have been a grenade. Two more shots, and then silence.
The doors to gym burst open. A squad of helmeted soldiers entered, carrying flashlights and covering the room with their rifles. Seeing no threats, one of them turned to the others. "Okay. We're secure in here. Branson, take the men, and check for wounded, then set up out front in case of counter attack."
"Yes, sir!" The soldiers turned and rushed back outside.
The soldier who'd been giving orders walked into the gym. Approaching the cots, he began to play his flashlight beam over them, searching them one by one.
Nicole turned to John. "Should we –"
"Hang on," John said. "Let's see what develops."
The soldier continued searching the cots. Finally he stopped at one just a few feet away from where John was lying. "Oh, God," the soldier moaned, and then dropped to his knees. "Oh, my sweet Lord."
John could see that he was kneeling beside the cot of what had been an attractive young woman with shoulder-length reddish brown hair, which the soldier now reached forward to stroke. Bending down, he placed his head on her chest, and began sobbing.
Nicole and John exchanged glances. "What now?" she mouthed.
"Hang on," John whispered.
The soldier continued sobbing for a moment, then lifted his head up. "I am so sorry, baby," he said, stroking the woman's face. At the touch, she moaned and rolled away from him. "I'll fix this." Reaching down, he snapped open his holster and withdrew his side arm.
"Hey!" John shouted.
The soldier whipped his head around.
"Over here," John said. "Can you cut us loose?"
"Who the hell are you?" the man demanded, pointing his flashlight at them.
"I'm John. This is Nicole. My wife is on one of those cots. We came in to visit her, and some hotheaded lieutenant grabbed us. We don't belong here."
The man nodded, and returned his pistol to its holster. "Fog of war," he said. "Everything's confused right now." Standing, he pulled his knife, and then walked over and cut their straps.
"Thank you," John said, rubbing his wrists. "I can't tell you how good that feels."
"Amen to that," Nicole agreed.
The door to the gym opened, and a soldier walked in. "The perimeter is secure. No sign of a counter-attack. We've got two prisoners, both wounded. You sure were right, sir. They don't look like Koreans at all, and they speak English as good as me and you."
Maria and John exchanged glances.
The lieutenant pointed his flashlight at John and Nicole. "These two civilians got caught in the cross fire. They'll be taking his wife and leaving. Go get them a weapon, and a couple of clips. There should be plenty of both lying around."
"Yes, sir." The man turned and trotted off toward the front of the gym.
John looked at the lieutenant. "You mind if I ask what that was about?"
The lieutenant regarded him with sad eyes. "I can't let my wife lie here like this. I had to come help her. So I cooked up a story about the gym having been captured by troops from North Korea."
"Wow," John said. "And they believed it?"
"They trust me," the lieutenant said. "And besides, they're about to turn. One of the things I've noticed over the past few days is that just before someone becomes one of those – things – they go through a couple of blackouts. Most eventually black out completely, and don't wake up. They just lie there, sleeping. Or they freeze in position. We've already lost most of the unit that way. But some of those who come out of the first blackout are very susceptible to suggestion for a short while. So I made some suggestions." He sighed. "We may only have a few minutes. Where's your wife?"
John led him to her. By the time he had cut the final strap, the other soldier had returned. He handed John an M16 and two clips. "Do you know how to use one of these?"
"Yes," John said. "I used to sell the AR-15."
"Good. Be careful. It's locked and loaded. The safety is on."
John slung the weapon over his shoulder.
"Did you come here by car?" the lieutenant asked.
"Yeah. It's in the parking lot."
The lieutenant turned to the soldier, and motioned to Maria. "Help them get her to their car. Then come back, and man the perimeter. We may be here a couple of hours before reinforcements arrive."
Either that was a clumsy lie, John thought, or the lieutenant knows that in two hours, he won't care what happens. He suspected the latter.
The soldier, a bulked up young African American who looked as if he ate nothing but steroids, hoisted Maria to his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. "Let's go."
As they ran toward the doors, John looked back. The lieutenant was walking slowly back to his wife's cot. He had once again drawn his pistol....
The sergeant turned and butted open one of the doors with his hip. As they burst outdoors into the fading twilight, John saw that two humvees were arranged end to end on the narrow concrete plaza a few feet away from the gym entrance, parked about three feet apart. Soldiers were on station at the front and back ends of each vehicle, while a two more hovered in the rear.
"I'm heading out to the parking lot with these three civilians," the sergeant said to the men as he stepped outside. "Keep your eyes peeled."
With that, he trotted out onto the asphalt, with John and Nicole hard on his heels. Within seconds, they had reached the Explorer. John pulled open the left rear door.
"Rooow!" Otis said.
"I know. Sorry about that, buddy." He stepped back. The sergeant deposited Maria gently onto the back seat.
From the direction of the gym came the sound of a single gunshot, quickly followed by another. Whipping his head around, the sergeant unslung his rifle.
"We've got it from here," John said. "Thanks, sergeant."
The man nodded. "Good luck." With that, he turned and trotted off in the direction of the gym.
John put his M16 on the floorboards next to Maria, propping it against the far door. Then he dashed around to the back of the Explorer, popped the gate, and lifted it open. Grabbing a set of ties, he ran back around to Maria.
He heard a clattering sound in the direction of the gym. Looking up, he saw that the sergeant, now just ten feet from the humvees in front of the gym, was standing stock still. His rifle lay on the ground in front of him.
"Oh, s*!t." He turned to Nicole. "Quick. Get inside. We've got to get the hell out of here."
They could hear the sergeant let out an animal roar. As John and Nicole jumped inside the Explorer, John saw the soldier charging the humvees. He expected to hear gunfire, but there was none.
John fired up the engine, threw it into reverse and pulled out of the parking spot. As he swung around, he could see that the sergeant had a man down on the far side of the humvees. There was a flash; the sergeant continued attacking the man beneath him. More flashes. John did not wait to see what would happen next. He put the vehicle in gear and roared out of the parking lot.