“Meat’s meat,” said Sam, thumping the butt of his ancient shotgun against the dull hardwood floor. A sound like an actual gunshot rang through the room, and the gathered collection of ragtag survivors sat up a little straighter. “We need to survive, and to survive we need protein. I don’t care where it comes from.”
He paused, letting the words sink in, and I stared at the ground beneath my feet.
Winters in Nebraska – or at least that winter, since it was the only one I’d ever experienced – were hard. The chaotic thunderstorms of the fall gave way only when the furies of blizzards took over, with snow falling so thick and heavy and fast we found ourselves paralyzed, stuck in a farmhouse whose walls cried out in agony against the winds and whose roof sank beneath the snow’s wet, heavy weight.
The number of refugees in the house dwindled, slowly at first but then picking up speed as food stores disappeared and with them, the will to live. We did our best, languishing within the snowbound farmhouse, but suddenly our best wasn’t good enough. Nothing could have prepared us for the dull, aching boredom and the vicious, vengeful starvation of a winter trapped inside the home we once considered paradise.
“Maybe we can try the snowshoes again,” I said, not daring to look up. For the truth of the matter was, Sam had a point. We were starving – not slowly anymore, but daily, with gusto. I rarely ate more than a few mouthfuls of rice a day, squirreling away my shares of food for Sadie or Rosie or Will, who were younger and needed the nutrition more than I did. Hunger was a monster worse than any zombie. It tore at you from the inside out. It made your stomach seize with cramps so painful you dropped to your knees in the middle of a crowded room. It made your head throb and your hands shake and it made you question any decision you’d ever made, because every decision you’d ever made somehow had landed you there, in the midst of the terribly long process of starving to death.
Even though it was barbaric, I couldn’t help but sometimes think with longing of the piles of preserved meat – human meat, the meat of the refugees who’d already succumbed to death – stored in the unused barn less than a hundred yards from our house. I couldn’t help but sometimes remember with a sudden, lurching, hopeful churn of my stomach, the scent of burning human flesh that filled the air as we once, a lifetime before, mounted our escape from the fire-eaten city of New Orleans. Even though I knew with every ounce of my being that it was wrong, somewhere deep in my stomach, as I stared at the swirling pattern of battered wood beneath my feet, I couldn’t help admitting: Sam definitely had a point.
As if reading my mind, Sam thumped the shotgun against the floor again. “You know that won’t work. Our snowshoes are tennis rackets with straps. That’s it. None of us knows the first thing about how to actually use them. And anyway, there’s nowhere close that we haven’t already swept clean of anything and everything useful.”
His words were daggers, sharp and edgy. I forced myself to look up. From across the room, Sam glared at me. Closer than him, his brother Michael, once my husband but now a silent shadow hovering on the outskirts of my daily routine, glared at me too, but for so many different reasons. Beside him stood Simon, his face gaunt beneath a long, graying beard, leaning his near skeletal frame against the old chest of drawers that stood by the foot of his bed. His wife Allie sat beside me, her hand occasionally grasping mine, with fingers so bony and lean I could barely stand their touch.
Me. They all stared at me. As if I’d have all the answers.
* * * * *
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!