Teaser: John Palisano #SummerofZombie

An excerpt from Dust of the Dead:

It’s been ten years since the dead came back to life. Things aren’t like they were in all the zombie books, movies, and TV shows. There weren’t really independent bands of rogues battling it out. Things never really got too traditionally post-apocalyptic in that way. Instead, it was more like the world went into lock down. The best way I can describe it is that we all had curfews, and it was like living in the bad part of the city, no matter where you went in the city. You had to be mindful. You had to keep a look out over your shoulder. One of the undead might spring out from behind a car or dumpster. But there weren’t hordes of them. Well, that’s not true. There were, but they were mostly gathered at cemeteries. And really? They pretty much stuck inside, and with their own. Most were too confused, or too stupid, to go much farther than from where they’d found themselves. That made them easy to take care of. That was what the Reclamation crews were for. Man, that was a bad job. Most of the time, their main gig was to go into cemeteries, dig up the newly reanimated dead, who were still stuck in their coffins, and put them out of their misery, for what everyone hoped, was the last time. Reclaim them as dead. That’s where I came in.

***

I remember driving around Burbank Boulevard, and everything seemed just as normal as ever. The world had changed, but life chugged along. People returned to being horrible, self-centered, and narcissistic. They were cutting each other off, trying to get ahead, rushing up to the next red light, and cutting everybody off they could. Humanity at its finest. Me-first-gimme-gimme, and that whole short-sided attitude. After all we were going through, all the selfish bastards kept on being selfish. Looking back? I’m not surprised, though. Thanks to the Reclamation Crews, the world had gone back to normal, other than an occasional Zom popping out. Those attacks were far and few between. They weren’t even considered attacks anymore. Not like when they first came back.

For the first two years, the undead were hungry. They were just as nasty as all the books and movies told us they were. They bit people; those people changed, then those bit more people. Everyone got scared. There was an out, though. What nobody expected was that when the undead aged,  their bodies turned hard, and they lost a lot of mobility. Their muscles toughened. Their skin dried. They were a lot like mummies. Most of them? They weren’t really able to live very long after they were reanimated. Some did, but they weren’t the danger they’d originally been. Those undead that lasted? We all stopped believing they were a threat after a while.

We were wrong.

There was a big press announcement from the White House. There was some big scientist that told the world that nature would soon take over. Undead people attracted all sorts of natural predators. Flies. Maggots. Birds. Crows. Wild dogs. Bears. She told us that their actual tissue wouldn’t survive more than a few weeks before they’d decompose into nothing. Even if they did last that long, she said, bacteria would break down the body and take them down.

All we had to do was wait.

We did.

She was wrong.

Flies wanted nothing to do with the undead. Neither did any wild animals. The undead flesh seemed resistant to bacteria and mold, all due to some strange evolutionary thread within them, those that should’ve known guessed. No one was quite sure of the precise details. The undead did, however, begin to dry out after a time, as predicted. Their skin, in most cases, became less pliable. The things dried out.

There were so many biological uncertainties. How could it physically be possible for the dead to reanimate? How could their bodies re-charge and process food again? Their circulatory systems seemed to work, although much more slowly than a normal person’s. They had significant brain function. Their hearts pumped. Several scientific teams captured undead specimens and studied them. The undead ate. They processed food, and it wasn’t just the brains of the living. That turned out not to be true. Most of them didn’t want to eat us, just kill us. Mortal jealousy. Many wanted to re-join us, and somehow rejoin their former lives.

Those who were well preserved, or recently deceased, fared much better. They often had memories of their lives, and the people and places they’d known. But they were different–think rabid animals. They were extremely dangerous, like dogs that’d been abused too much. They’d turn on loved ones foolish enough to harbor them. Things went south quickly. Uncle Bill would be sitting on the couch, quite, and drooling on himself, mumbling, and then little George would run past, and Uncle Bill would be on him, tearing the little boy to pieces.

Not pretty.

So that’s when the Reclamation Crew got started. It was work no one wanted. Families were never happy seeing us come. Rarely were we welcomed without hostility. They all held out hope there’d be some kind of cure, some day, some type of way to bring their loved ones back to the way they loved and remembered. But there wasn’t. They’d died, and there was some kind of abomination that was making them come back, extending their stay on this green planet just a little bit more than should be.

We aimed to fix that–send them back on their way to the great unknown. Reclaim them for the afterlife, as it was supposed to be.

DustOfTheDead cover fixed

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 30+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don’t miss an interview, guest post or teaser…and pick up some great swag as well!

Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them!

#SummerofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

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