Authors: Assorted Baen authors,Barflies
The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley
Assorted Baen authors and Barflies
The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley
Assorted Baen authors and Barflies
Who is the mysterious Joe Buckley, and why does he meet so many unfortunate ends in various Baen books?
Joe Buckley is simultaneously a real person and an unlucky figment of numerous Baen authors' imaginations. He's been drowned, shot, stabbed, turned into a werewolf, eaten by a shark, and put through a snow blower and had his atomized remains spewed into the air, just to name a few. He's been spindled, folded, mutilated, blown up, and autopsied.
Now for the first time we have compiled the many instances of Buckley meeting a bad end, with introductions by the dastardly authors--and one artist--who did him in. Find out who killed him first and why, and how the tradition grew. With bonus material: "The Buckley Alphabet" by Sarah Hoyt's Dinerzens, and a filk song, "The Twelve Days of Battle" (to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas).
All proceeds from this collection will support two charities near and dear to our hearts, both founded, supported, and run by Baen readers: Operation Baen Bulk, which sends books, ereaders, and other supplies to our men and women in uniform, and ReadAssist, which allows disabled readers free access to Baen ebooks.
THE MANY DEATHS OF JOE BUCKLEY
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is
The Many Deaths of Joe Buckley
copyright © 2014 by Baen Books.
“Introduction” copyright © 2014 by John Ringo.
Monster Hunter Alpha
, copyright © 2011 by Larry Correia. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Larry Correia.
“The Anatomy Lesson,” copyright © 2008 by Eric Flint. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Eric Flint.
1634: The Galileo Affair
, copyright © 2004 by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis.
“From the Badlands,” copyright © 2007 by Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett.
Gentleman Takes a Chance
, copyright © 2008 by Sarah A. Hoyt. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Sarah A. Hoyt.
A Hymn Before Battle
, copyright © 2000 by John Ringo. Introduction copyright © 2014 by John Ringo.
, copyright © 2001 by John Ringo.
When the Devil Dances
, copyright © 2002 by John Ringo.
, copyright © 2004 by John Ringo & Julie Cochrane.
, copyright © 2007 by John Ringo & Julie Cochrane.
Honor of the Clan
, copyright © 2009 by John Ringo & Julie Cochrane.
Eye of the Storm
, copyright © 2009 by John Ringo.
, copyright © 2011 by John Ringo.
, copyright © 2014 by Ryk Spoor. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Ryk E. Spoor.
, copyright © 2006 by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor.
, copyright © 2010 by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor.
, copyright © 2013 by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor.
One Day on Mars
, copyright © 2007 by Travis S. Taylor. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Travis S. Taylor.
The Tau Ceti Agenda
, copyright © 2008 by Travis S. Taylor.
One Good Soldier
, copyright © 2009 by Travis S. Taylor.
Ashes of Victory
, copyright © 2000 by David Weber. Introduction copyright © 2014 by David Weber.
Mission of Honor
, copyright © 2010 by David Weber.
Better to Beg Forgiveness
, copyright © 2007 by Michael Z. Williamson. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Michael Z. Williamson.
Contact with Chaos
, copyright © 2009 by Michael Z. Williamson.
, copyright © 2011 by Michael Z. Williamson.
“Naught but Duty,” from
Tour of Duty
, copyright © 2013 by Michael Z. Williamson.
, copyright © 2011 by Timothy Zahn. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Timothy Zahn.
“The Joe Buckley Alphabet” copyright © 2014 by Sarah Hoyt’s Dinerzens. Introduction copyright © 2014 by Tedd Roberts.
“The Twelve Days of Battle” copyright © 2014 by James Copley (Resoldier), Keith Glass, Tedd SpeakertoLabanimals Roberts, Brad Handley, Bruce Charles Hobbs, Richard Evans, and Sanford Begley
“About ‘The Anatomy Lesson’ Cover,” copyright © 2014 by Tom Kidd.
“The Dead Man Speaks,” copyright © 2014 by Joseph Buckley.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A Baen Book
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Cover art by Tom Kidd from
Grantville Gazette IV
First Baen electronic printing, November 2014
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Electronic Version by Baen Books
To be clear, Joe Buckley is not only a real person, but a really great guy.
Unless you meet him online.
Joe is one of those people who in person is very kind, caring and inoffensive, and online suddenly changes into, well, not quite a troll but rather sarcastic and, alas, it must be said, occasionally obnoxious.
Furthermore, back in the Elder Days of the Internet (not the very elder days of war dialing or the slightly less elder days of BBS and GEnie but elder nonetheless), when the concept of every website having a forum, Facebook, et cetera was not even a gleam in the eye of a Stanford dropout, Joe used to frequent one of the very first web forums, called Baen’s Bar. It had been created at the behest of Baen Books founder Jim Baen specifically so he could have long conversations “of cabbages and kings” with his authors and their fans. Joe was a frequent poster, as was I.
In Joe’s case, however, his Internet persona tended to rub certain authors the wrong way. They knew he was a fan and many of his comments were on point, however . . .
Then Joe Buckley was immortalized in flaming death aboard the RMS
(along with several other poor people who had the audacity to nil David Weber during a cutthroat spades game. None of whom even KNEW Joe Buckley.)
And thus the legend was born. I, ahem, admit to some
Eventually it got to the point of this remembered post from Baen’s Bar:
To anyone who knows.
I’m planning my first submission to Baen Publishing. I’ve followed all the formatting guidelines and it’s already been professionally edited. No guarantees but fingers crossed. However, I have one question:
Who is “Joe Buckley” and is it required to kill him in the book to get published by Baen?
(The answer by the way is: No, but it helps.)
Enough idling. Time to Roast Joe. Again and again and . . .
When it comes to killing Joe Buckley the bar has been set pretty high, so when I decided to off him in
Monster Hunter Alpha
, it wasn’t good enough to just kill Buckley once. In the Monster Hunter universe death isn’t always permanent and that gave me a bit of room to work.
My Joe Buckley was a small town sheriff’s deputy. I had a werewolf eviscerate him in the first few pages, then he came back to life as a werewolf and got burned to death, and then he came back as a zombie werewolf, so I fed him into a giant industrial snow blower. That last one was nasty.
Monster Hunter Alpha
The Crown Vic suddenly lurched on its shocks. Buckley looked up, but with the windows fogged, he was blind to the outside world. Puzzled, his initial suspicion was that someone was screwing with him, but then there was a thud as something big struck the hood.
The sound sent an involuntary shiver running down his spine. Something had just scratched the hell out of his paint. He reached for the door handle. “Son of a—”
The windshield ruptured, pelting him with safety glass. Black limbs shot through the hole. Buckley yelped in surprise as black fur engulfed his face. Stunned, he tried to jerk the door open but was torn away and pulled against the steering wheel. His hands were swatted aside as long claws flailed, tearing him open. Blood struck the dash as nails sliced through his scalp. Paws clamped down on both sides of his head, and squeezed until his skull cracked.
He was dragged thrashing through the glass, down the hood, and hurled into the cold mud. The claws released, and Buckley shoved desperately against the mass of heat and hair, splashing and rolling in the muck. He ended up on his back. The thing towered above him in the headlights, and Buckley knew that he was going to die. Terrified, he struggled to get his gun from its retention holster as blood poured down his throat.
The animal seemed to smile six inches of razors as the Beretta came out in slow motion. The pistol disappeared into the night as a claw laid Buckley’s arm open from elbow to palm. Then the animal was on him, and Buckley watched in shocked disbelief as it drove its long snout under the bottom edge of his Kevlar vest and bit deep into his abdomen. Fire lanced through him as the animal wrenched its head back and forth.
The animal tore its bloody head free, something red dangling from its teeth. In shock, Buckley stretched out both pieces of his hand, as if to ask for that bit of himself back, but the creature was already retreating out of the headlights. He tried to speak, but all he could do was cough out the blood in his mouth. He felt as cold as the puddle he was squished into.
A figure walked into the light. He was saved! Somebody had chased off the animal. The man would call for help. He just needed to hang in there.
But this man didn’t seem upset. He didn’t call for help. He didn’t tell Buckley to stay calm. Instead he just squatted next to him in the mud. His features were obscured by the shadow of a wide-brimmed hat, but somehow his eyes were visible, glowing like molten gold. The stranger studied the giant hole in Buckley’s stomach and frowned. He made a
noise, and behind him the animal let out a mournful howl.
Buckley had lost too much blood to be afraid. He was just very cold. The man plucked the gold name tag from his shredded uniform shirt and studied it. “My apologies, Deputy Buckley,” the stranger said. He tossed the nametag into the puddle with a little
. “I doubt you’re going to make it. The pack could’ve used you. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but that doesn’t happen too often. For now I leave you to the
The stranger rose, adjusted his overcoat, and walked from Deputy Buckley’s darkening vision.
* * *
Buckley was gone. Something had taken his place in the bed. He—it—was staring at her. Her mouth tried to form words, but no sound came out. It was still Buckley, sort
of . . . Skull cracking, his face had twisted into a horrific snout. Yet as he looked at her again, she somehow knew that it was no longer Joe inside there. Joe was gone. He rose from the bed, twisting and gasping, his gums stretching past his splitting lips.
The nurse cried out and started crawling for the door. The noise caught Buckley’s attention. His lengthening head whipped around, attention fixed on the woman. The attempted flight set something off. He leapt from the bed.
“Stop!” Heather cried, but she was already pulling the trigger. She didn’t even remember aiming the Beretta or flicking the safety off, but the glowing front sight was right there on his center of mass, just like she’d been trained. She pulled the trigger again as his feet hit the floor and then again as he pounced on the nurse. The woman screamed as Buckley’s teeth sank into her chest and his fingers into her neck. Buckley shook his head back and forth. The nurse was flung about helplessly, limbs flailing, crying, as Heather kept on shooting.
Buckley jerked as Heather shot him repeatedly in the back. He released the nurse, head rising, mouth spraying blood in a wide arc, and Heather shot him in the throat. Buckley got up, made it a few steps toward the exit, and then collapsed in a heap into the hallway.
Heather was shaking. The slide was locked back on her pistol. The Beretta 96 held eleven rounds in the magazine. Somehow she’d fired them all. The adrenaline had made the gunshots sound like insignificant pops. She realized she’d been holding her breath.
Buckley wasn’t moving. His feet and legs were still in the room, only they weren’t shaped like feet anymore. She broke out of the tunnel vision. The nurse was coughing up blood. Her collarbone was visible. Temple was frozen. Heather reached for another magazine as she moved to the injured woman. It took her two tries with her suddenly clumsy fingers to get the new mag seated in her gun.
Heather squatted next to the nurse. The wound looked like she’d been hit with a chainsaw. Blood was pumping down her shirt. Buckley had bitten a
out of her. Terrified, the woman was trying to speak. “It’s okay,” Heather lied. Thumbing the safety down, she reholstered her pistol, just like she’d been trained. “Just stay calm. We’ll get you some help.” That’s what they’d taught her. Tell the injured that everything was going to be okay, even if you knew they were screwed. Freak out in front of them with a bunch of
Oh man, you’re all messed up, you’re gonna die,
and it was just like you’d killed them yourself. However, this was so far beyond Heather’s first-aid knowledge that she had no clue what to do. She tried to put direct pressure on the biggest hole. Blood came spurting between her fingers. But it didn’t matter. The flow dropped in intensity, then stopped. The nurse was dead. Heather didn’t know her name. She must have been new here.
Scrambling back, blood up to her elbows, Heather tried her radio, but there was no response, only static. She moved to the phone at the bedside, but it was dead, too. She needed help. People were gathering in the hall, a couple of mobile patients roused by the gunfire, and the final member of the skeleton crew of the night shift on this floor, and all of them were stopping and staring at Buckley’s mutated hairy body, facedown, bleeding out on the carpet.
Finally another nurse stepped gingerly over Buckley’s body and came to help his coworker. Heather recognized this one. Bailey Something, and he’d been nice enough while her grandfather had been dying here. “What happened?”
“Buckley . . .
her,” Heather tried to explain.
“Where’s Doc Glenn?”
She awkwardly pointed at the window. Some weird shit had just gone down. Bailey went to work, though Heather knew it was too late. Heather tried to stay cool.
“Chase?” The other deputy was still standing there, mouth agape. The young man didn’t respond. “Deputy Temple!” she shouted. “Draw your fucking sidearm!”
He jumped. “Yes, sir,” he finally responded, coming back to reality.
“Watch Buckley. If he moves, shoot him in the brain. Do you understand?”
Cringing, she passed over Buckley’s body while trying hard not to look at him, pushed past the patients, and made it around the corner to the nurse’s station, keying her radio the entire way, getting nothing but static, and found that the main phone was dead as well. Not even a dial tone. The power, phones, and radio were all down. “Damn it all to hell.” What else could go wrong?
Then the people behind her began to scream as Temple started shooting.
* * *
Someone screamed inside Buckley’s room.
Her boot clicked on the linoleum, and Heather realized that she’d been retreating. She stopped. Despite her best judgment, all reason, and logic, Heather knew her job, and nobody had ever accused her of not doing her job. “Crap, crap, crap.” Drawing her Beretta, she flicked the safety off and raised it in both shaking hands, walking toward Buckley’s room.
Temple flopped into the hallway, slipping onto his hands and knees, scrambling madly through the blood. Shirt rent open, he was bleeding from several deep lacerations. “Help me!” He had made it a few feet toward her when a black mass of hair bounded into the hall at his heels. It was unbelievably fast, and it certainly wasn’t human. The animal grabbed Temple by the foot and in one smooth motion dragged him back into Buckley’s room. Her fellow deputy disappeared, a look of shocked disbelief on his face.
There was a drag trail through the blood. It had happened so quickly that Heather hadn’t even fired a shot.
What was that?
“Buckley?” Temple bellowed in agony. Heather forced herself forward. “Hang on, Chase! I’m coming!”
Then the beast moved back into the hall. It came so quickly that it just seemed to materialize. It saw her, and there was no hesitation. Growling, it charged on all fours. Heather yanked the trigger repeatedly. It covered the distance in a split second. The creature leapt high. There was no time to dodge. She shut her eyes before impact.
There was a bone-jarring bang, but the expected hit never arrived.
Heather opened her eyes. The creature was sliding down the floor away from her, wearing what she could have sworn was a too-human look of surprise on its awful canine face.
A man in a leather jacket had come out of nowhere and was standing protectively in front of her. He was shaking his right hand loose as if he’d just struck something hard. “Stay behind me.”
“Did you . . . did you just
“Seemed like the thing to do,” the stranger grinned, winked, and that’s when she recognized the annoying Southerner from the traffic stop earlier. “Any chance I can get you to rip up that ticket now?”
The animal came off the floor, roaring, and charged. “Look out!”
Nonchalant, the man turned back as a big stainless revolver appeared in his hand. He fired so quickly that the shots sounded like a continuous crackle. Every bullet struck home, right into the animal’s head. Blood and fur splattered the walls. It collapsed, limp, forward momentum sliding it onward. The man opened the cylinder of his revolver, punched out the spent casings, and slammed in a bundle of six more so fast that his gun was reloaded by the time the creature reached them. He casually raised one boot and put it down on the body, stopping it in place.
How?” Heather stammered. The thing under the stranger’s boot was bizarre, unnatural. One of its claws had come to a stop only inches from her foot. “Ack!” She kicked the hand aside.
Taking his time, he put one last shot right between the animal’s eyes. Heather flinched. “Silver bullets,” he explained. He stuck his gun back into his holster, then took a cigarette out of his coat and put it in his mouth. “Your regular ones won’t do shit to a werewolf. I’ll give you a B for effort, though.”
* * *
Stark’s eyes flashed to what was standing in the doorway. “Oh shit.”
Mosher frowned. “I’m not falling for that.”
The charred, blackened, twisted form that had been Deputy Joe Buckley rose behind Mosher. The werewolf’s hair had been burned off, exposing thick muscles that cracked and bled as he moved. Ruined lips parted in a snarl of jagged teeth, dripping a slurry of bloody ash. Mosher heard the sound and turned, armor creaking. The agent and the werewolf stood nose to nose.
And then Joe Buckley bit Mosher on the face.
Stark blinked as blood splattered him. Mosher screamed and kicked as Buckley dragged him into the hall. There was a series of loud
as Mosher ineffectually fired his pistol. Stark hurried and kicked the door shut, but not before he saw that all of his neatly stacked corpses in the hallway were getting up.
* * *
The impact nearly knocked him out. Earl was facedown in the snow. Head swimming, only a foot from the whirling death blades of a tractor that was only not rolling forward because one corner was jammed into a building. Groaning, he rolled over. The animated corpse of Deputy Joe Buckley was standing over him. The hilt of the Bowie knife was sticking out of Buckley’s neck. Blood ran down the
’s cracked chest and splattered onto Earl.
Buckley’s claw wrapped around the knife handle. Blood leaking sluggishly, he jerked it out and tossed it into the snow. Buckley cocked his head to the side, white eyes gleaming. This time it was going to bite something unarmored, and that would be the end. Earl got ready. The least he could do would be to shove them both into the blades while it was distracted eating him. “Nobody eats me and gets away with it.”
Something moved in Earl’s peripheral vision. It took a moment to focus past Buckley’s gleaming teeth to see that the stainless-steel lid of the prison-coffin was dangling, broken and open inside the rolled-over pickup. Earl had never seen a red werewolf before.
Buckley didn’t know she was there until it was too late. Claws flashed from the right, from the left, flaying Buckley’s back open. He turned, stepping off Earl, as Heather cleaved him twice more, crossing an X of lacerated flesh clear through his ribs. He raised one arm, and she batted it down. The other came up, and she took it off cleanly at the elbow. Buckley’s hand spun off into the night.
was no match for a
Heather lashed out, spraying blood across the yard. Buckley was crumbling, falling, but that wasn’t enough. Heather was out for
. She slashed his throat clear to vertebrae, then sunk her fingers into his neck, down, until she caught his sternum, and using it like a handle, hurled the
into the roaring blades. Buckley simply exploded. One instant he was there; the next he was replaced with a rapidly expanding cloud of meat. A second later blood belched out the top spout, spreading a fine mist of Buckley into the air.