Teaser: Greg P Ferrell #WinterofZombie

BookCoverImage

Hope looked out into the raining darkness and was amazed by how completely dark it really was.  Except when lightning flashed, there was almost a feeling that the world completely vanished a mere two feet from the edge of the tower wall.

“Man, I didn’t think it would be this bad out here tonight,” Hope said to her watch partner Rico.

“I don’t know how you talked me into this,” said Rico.  “I need my head examined being out here with you.  If the rain and wind don’t do me in, your dad is going to throw me to the slabs if he was as mad as you said he was.”

“Don’t worry about my dad.  He likes to talk tough, but he won’t do anything to you.  I’m 18, and he’s got to let me grow up eventually, whether he wants to admit it or not.  Besides, it’s not like we’re doing anything wrong up here,” Hope said to calm Rico down.

“Yeah, I know.  “But it’s just your dad has an aura about him that it wouldn’t take much to set him off when it comes to you three.  And I don’t want to be on the receiving end of whatever he decides to do to me if anything happens to you.  I mean he’s a big dude; and to be completely honest, he scares the crap out of me,” Rico said a little wearily.

“Well, if we’re being honest, I wouldn’t worry about my dad so much as Uncle Ron and Uncle David.  They do all his dirty work for him when it comes to guys around me.  You remember me telling you about Tony who was chasing after me for months?  Well when dad introduced him to David and Ron one night they stepped outside with him and he left shortly after and never called me again.  In fact, two weeks later, he withdrew from school; and nobody’s seen him since.”  Hope finished and waited until Rico turned almost pale as he soaked in what she just said.  Suddenly, she started to laugh at Rico when she realized that he believed her.  “I’m just kidding. You need to relax a little,” she said as she punched him in the arm.

“That was not funny, especially after I just admitted to being terrified of your dad,” Rico replied while letting out a slight sigh of relief.

“Shut up,” Hope said.

“I’m just saying . . .” Rico tried to respond as Hope’s hand cupped over his mouth.

“No.  Shut up and listen,” she whispered to him as she pointed out into the darkness.  “Something was out there.”

The two listened intently trying to hear through the pouring rain and the howling wind.  At first there was nothing to be heard.  “There. Did you hear that?” Hope whispered to Rico.

“I’m not hearing anything. You sure it’s not just the wind?”  Rico responded.

“It’s down at the base of the wall right in front of us.  Hand me the light,” Hope said as she snatched the flashlight from Rico.  She shined the light over the edge of the tower.  But from the angle of where she was at, she couldn’t see the location of the noise.

“I’m going down to ground level to see what I can find,” she said as she headed down the ladder.

Rico decided to follow, and after a few slippery steps down the ladder, he was on the ground with her.  Hope was standing directly in front of the watch tower at the wall trying to peer through the holes in the wall out into the darkness beyond.

“You see anything?” Rico asked.

“Nope, just keep quiet and listen,” Hope instructed.  “Oh, and watch your step.  There’s a huge stream of water between us.  I just stepped into it, and water flowed over the top of my boots.”

Suddenly, the noise which was quite muffled from up in the tower, reappeared.  It’s was as if something was rubbing up on the wall, like the sound of a limb or bush brushing against a house in a slight breeze.

“There. Did you hear it that time?” Hope asked as she peered through the hole again in the direction toward the sound.

“Yeah, it just sounds like something has blown up against the tin on the other side of the wall,” Rico replied with a little bit of relief.  “You see anything?” he asked.

But just as he finished, Hope lets out a startled scream.

“What’s wrong?” he blurted out.

He found Hope trying to leap back from the wall.  But instead, she fell straight down.  She landed flat into the stream of water flowing behind her and, immediately, became submerged over her head.  Rico threw down his gear and lunged forward to grab her and lift her out of the water.  Hope exploded out of the water spitting and choking, but managed to get out a phrase. “My foot!  It’s got my foot!” she screamed.

Rico looked down toward her foot, which was submerged into the stream at the edge of the wall.  He leaped over and started to extract it from the water.  But her foot was not the only thing that came out of the flowing stream.  A badly decomposed hand, also, came up with it.  He reached down and yanked her foot free of the hand and pulled Hope back to safety.

As the two fell backward to a safe distance, they both looked to the location of the hand and watched as the rest of the body started to wiggle and emerge from the ground.  The small stream of escaping water had created a washout under the wall and a slab had found the hole.  As the muddy rain washed away the mud from its eyes and face, the slab recognized the two targets in front of it as food.  Suddenly, it exploded out of the hole the rest of the way and in a flash; it clamped its teeth onto a some part of Hope’s leg.

Continued in Humanity’s Hope: Camp H

2015-05-09 15.04.05_resized

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The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

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Teaser: Mike Evans #WinterofZombie

zombies and chainsaws

Zombie and Chainsaws Teaser

By Mike Evans

Matt didn’t answer he just laughed as he walked away. Bill started to walk up the hill a little when a branch snapped. Bill screamed and shined his flashlight around. He didn’t see anything. When he heard the noise a second time he aimed the light and two black eyes stared back at him. He wasn’t sure what it was eating, but there was a possum sitting in the grass its head the only thing sticking up from the space. Bill clutched at his heart rubbing it. He said, “You are one lucky little bastard that I don’t have my piece on me or I’d blow your damn head off.”

A second crack went off and he laughed as he said, “Oh I ain’t getting scared all damn night long. If it’s another damn possum I’m going to get me some rebar out of the back of the truck and crack these right upside the head. I ain’t takin’ no shit from no animals.”

He turned around yelling trying to scare whatever it was away thinking how much he hated country critters at times. When he shined the flashlight down at the ground he saw no animals. What he did see was a muddied blue pair of suit pants. This was worse than the animal and scared the absolute shit out of him. He screamed dropping the flashlight and tripping over the weeds tangling his feet in them. Everything went black around him and all he heard was the slow shuffle of feet and a groan.

Bill said, “What the fuck are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere? Christ, you are lucky I didn’t shoot you. You realize how dangerous it is walking around scaring the shit out of people late at night. You must be shit faced, damn man.”

There was no answer. Again he called, “He – he – hello? Wh – Who is there? I didn’t mean ya no harm I promise. You just scared the hell out of me. I got a buddy here with me, so you best just get on outta here. You ain’t got no business being down here this time of night.”

He tried to push himself up but fell back down. The slow shuffling and moans were making their way closer to him. Bill tried pushing up but slipped back on his face in the wet weeds. He rolled on his back and only saw the dark of night staring back at him. The feet finally kicked into Bill’s legs and Bill made the mistake of kicking at the stranger’s shins as hard as he possibly could. The kick did the opposite of what he was hoping for and he kicked the stranger’s legs out from beneath him. Bill screamed as the wet mud covered stranger fell against his body and the man’s weight made him try to push to scramble away. He tried shoving the man off, but he was too big, bigger than Bill and very stiff.

Bill took a whiff and couldn’t figure out what the hell he’d been in it was a stench like he’d not smelled yet before, there were no signs of health from it at all. Bill grasped around finally getting the flashlight. He brought it from the side whipping the back end of it into the things face once and then a second time. Something fell on his face showering it and Bill shook at it rapidly brushing them off. He flicked at whatever it was picking something up and realized they were teeth. He put the light on the man’s face and when he did he saw dead eyes staring at him. Maggots were crawling out of his eye sockets and his nose had been almost completely rotted off, his face had holes in it and the maggots were everywhere now falling on Bill’s face as well.

Bill tried to push backward but it was useless, there was too much weight on top of him. He shivered at the idea of the man’s teeth on top of him but nowhere near as much as the thought that those maggots were crawling out of him. He didn’t need to be a college graduate to know that there was something seriously fucked up about all of this. He pleaded with the man because he was out of options and never in his life had he wanted the ability to be standing and running as much as this moment right now.

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*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Teaser: Jay Wilburn #WinterofZombie

Dead Song Book 2 front cover

The Dead Song Legend Dodecology

Book 2: February from Vicksburg to Cherokee excerpt

by Jay Wilburn

They scrambled out from under the remains of the shack and ran through the gap created by the dead chasing them over the top where they used to be. Satch was carrying his sister trying to hold her throat, but he still nearly outran Tiny. Blood dripped into the pine straw behind them and Tiny heard the dead following.

“How far, Satch?”

“Down by the river. Keep going.”

As they crossed the road, a zombie with green smeared in its beard whirled on them. Satch ducked away and Tiny stabbed into its head. Brackish water gurgled out of the wound and the grimy creature collapsed to the road.

Another dove teeth first at Satch’s leg and he had no free hand. Tiny stabbed into the forehead and stopped the undead attack short. He ran after and tried to get ahead to provide Satch cover, but Satch was not slowing down.

They reached the bank and Tiny saw the boat a few feet farther on. Satch jumped in. “Can you drive it?”

“I don’t know how.”

“Hold her wound.”

Tiny dropped the knives in the boat and covered her throat. Satch stepped out and leaned to push the boat off. A creature blasted through the pine branches with arms out.

“Satch.”

He turned with his hands still on the boat and thrust kicked heel first into the zombie’s jaw. The bottom teeth jammed back into its face. The creature folded backward and stumbled onto its back on the bank. It rolled over and scrambled to its feet again. More emerged from the trees and staggered toward the boat on both sides.

Satch splashed out into the water and then jumped in the boat. The dead splashed into the river after them. They’re going to flip the boat, Tiny thought. Satch engaged the motor and the boat lurched backward.

The zombie with the collapsed jaw dove where the boat had been and vanished below the water. The river water splashed up into the air like piranha are tearing apart a cow below the surface. Tiny turned away from them and watched Peck bleed below his hand.

Satch lowered the motor and let the current turn the boat. Tiny saw the dam stretch above them. One of the dead stumbled over the railing and dropped into the water. Satch blasted the motor and the boat tilted as it raced across the Tennessee toward the southern bank.

Peck coughed and lurched under Tiny’s hand. He was actually surprised she was still alive. He felt air pass wet through the wound under his hand and she stilled. Her eyes slid open and stared glazed up into the sky. Tiny saw the reflections of the clouds rolling across the wet curves of Peck’s eyes as Satch pressed the engine.

“Satch.” Tiny whispered, but the words were lost in the roar of the engine against the Tennessee River.

Peck heaved for air and fought against Tiny’s grip.

Satch called. “Hang on, Peck. We’re almost there.”

“Satch.”

Her teeth snapped and Tiny pulled his hand away. Peck sat up and clawed at her brother. Satch just stared as she reached for him. Tiny grabbed her braid and yanked her backward at the last moment rocking the boat.

Satch cut the engine. “Stop. You’re hurting her.”

Peck tried to roll over to bite Tiny. He pulled her braid again so that she fell back on his chest in the boat. Her skin had faded from the even brown that matched her brother’s to a sickly, gray hue. She snapped her teeth together loud enough to echo over the water. Her voice came as a hiss and gurgle from the deep cut in her throat. She thrashed bobbing the boat from side to side.

Tiny slid his hand through the wet gore under her chin and then locked her head tight in the crook of his elbow to pin her jaw closed. She hummed and struggled.

“I said, don’t hurt her, Tiny.”

Tiny came up with one of the knives and held the poit next to the opening of her ear. As he prepared to drive the blade into her skull he focused on Satch holding his own, dark knife positioned above Tiny’s head aimed at him instead of his sister.

“Satch, we have to …”

“Don’t do it, Tiny. Don’t.”

They turned dead in the water as Tiny clutched Peck’s cold throat and Satch stood above with the clouds drifting beyond him.

 

 

 

 

Links for people to purchase it.

 

Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 1: January from Milwaukee to Muscle Shoals

Start the series here è http://amzn.to/1CvxbST

Dead Song Legend Dodecology Book 2: February from Vicksburg to Cherokee

Continue the series here è http://jaywilburn.com/book-2/

Check out the first soundtrack to the series, The Sound May Suffer: Music from the Dead Song  here è http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thesoundmaysuffer6

or on Spotify. The hard CD is also available on Amazon.

 

Your promo links.

http://jaywilburn.com/

Author Jay Wilburn

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Teaser: Shawn Chesser #WinterofZombie

frayed cover front

Frayed:

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

By

Shawn Chesser

 

Prologue

 

 

The man shifted his gaze from the thin band of blue sky up ahead to the rearview mirror, where he saw nothing but angry clouds and darkened countryside. Seemingly following him on the same northwesterly tack, the pewter smudge was depositing big heavy flakes on the rolling hills and abandoned farmhouses and rust-streaked silos whipping by on both sides of the winding State Route.

Thinking ahead, just after traces of the first snowfall of the season began to stick, the driver had stopped on a zombie-free stretch of road a few miles back and engaged the four-wheel-drive. Now, negotiating the snow-dusted rollercoaster-like two-lane cutting between Wyoming to the east and Utah to the west, all the driver had to concentrate on as he approached his destination were the clusters of walking dead making yet another slow motion sojourn north. As he halved his speed and zippered between the staggering human husks, he noticed that their movements seemed sluggish—more so than usual—their already diminished motor skills seeming to degrade before his eyes in pace with the rapidly dropping mercury.

As the rig passed within arm’s reach of another slow-moving group—where normally the younger and more agile specimens would at least crane and get an eye lock on him or, if the conditions were right, manage a clumsy swipe at the vehicle—there was a delayed response, their maws opening and arms extending only after the SUV was well past them.

“Well, well,” said the man, flicking his eyes to the rearview. “That is what I was hoping would happen. Levels the playing field, a little.” Despite the task at hand, a grin spread across his face and he rapped a ditty on the steering wheel. “Bite me biters … aren’t such the bad asses now are we?” Though he wanted to stop and take out thirty or forty of the things in one fell swoop, he didn’t want to expend the energy clearing their carcasses from the road would require. As he swept his gaze forward, he saw off in the distance the north-moving herd he’d first seen two hours prior and a number of miles south.

Spitting a string of expletives, the man slowed the vehicle and grabbed his binoculars from the seat next to him. Then, knee-steering, he risked a couple of glances at the shambling mass, only pressing the field glasses to his eyes for a couple of seconds at a time, which was all he needed to learn that the main body had just passed his turnoff, leaving only a loose knot of walking corpses and the few lone stragglers bringing up the rear for him to worry about.

Knowing the distant herd would soon crest the small hill and then be on the downslope and out of sight, he slowed his ride to a crawl, swung wide right, and hauled the wheel hand-over-hand. The sun-dappled horizon swung a one-eighty across the windshield’s wide curvature and the tires squelched on the far shoulder as he straightened the wheel and looped around the listless pack of dead he’d just bypassed. A hundred yards south around a bend in the road where he figured the vehicle’s silhouette would be masked from the dead, he eased off the gas and let the rig coast until its forward momentum bled off. Now, with two hundred yards or so and a grass-covered hillock between him and the biters, he jammed the SUV to a stop on the solid yellow centerline and put the automatic transmission in Park. For the sake of comfort, he took his boxy semi-auto pistol from its holster on his hip and placed it on top of the dusty dash within easy reach. Eyes threatening to close on him, he kicked his seat back, elbowed the door lock down, and flicked on the stereo to start the soothing sounds of Johann Sebastian Bach flowing from the speakers.

***

The man’s respite was cut short just minutes into his powernap when the half-dozen dead not fooled by the coast maneuver caught up to the inert vehicle and began raking their nails against the sheet metal. Though the late German composer was being all but drowned out by the keen of bone against metal and hollow moans of the dead, the man tolerated the sneering creatures batting the window just inches from his face for ten long minutes.

Once the ten minutes had passed, for good measure the man stared at the second hand’s sweep and allowed five more minutes to crawl by. Finally, convinced most of the dead would be far enough away to the north so as not to key in on the growl of the diesel engine, he jacked his seat up and started the motor. Fighting the wheel and clunky gearbox, he conducted a three-point-turn and was rolling north at a fair clip.

Seconds later, he arrived at the crest of the hill where he had first spotted the herd which, in the thirty minutes since, had only shambled a half a mile beyond his turnoff and into a veil of falling snow. Closer in, however, was the smaller knot of biters that inexplicably were still within eyeshot of his turnoff, which was a narrow dirt road shooting uphill and to the right off the paved State Route.

Practicing what he preached to his kids—better safe than sorry—he gently pressed the pedal to start the SUV rolling forward over the hill’s crest. Once gravity grabbed the three-quarter tons of American iron, he jacked the transmission into neutral, manhandled the transfer case out of four-wheel-drive, and then killed the engine. Without the boost of power steering, keeping the SUV’s squared-off grill guard aimed at the throng of dead took considerable effort.

Halfway down the hill, the wind whistling through the half-dozen bullet holes in the driver’s side door alerted the dead to his approach and, sluggishly, as if in slow motion, they turned in unison and faced the noise.

A beat or two later, the sickening sounds of the coasting SUV plowing through the picket of corpses made its way through the rusted floor pan and again the soothing string work of another Bach masterpiece was drowned out. Before the remaining corpses could scrape themselves off of the roadway, the man had set the brake, grabbed his weapons, and was unfolding his massive frame from the high clearance vehicle.

Standing on the road in the midst of the crushed and mangled corpses, he slipped his Glock back into its holster. Then he donned his faded knee-length western-style duster, leaving it unbuttoned. Finally, he cracked his back and neck then slipped the corded nylon rope over his head and adjusted the scabbard it was attached to so that the pommel of his ancestral blade was within easy reach behind his head.

“Come to Daddy,” he growled, a wolfish grin spreading on his face as he began wading through the leaking corpses to get to the throng of dead vectoring toward him.

Frayed: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse at Amazon

Shawn Chesser Facebook Author Page

Shawn Chesser on Twitter

ShawnChesser.Com

Shawn Chesser’s Amazon Author Page

Shawn Chesser

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Guest Post: Gerald Rice #WinterofZombie

Anything But Zombies Cover

They’ve done it. Despite your best safeguards; your potholes, your traps, and all your weapons, the dead have gotten into your house.

You take the high ground, the stairs, and their swelling numbers still drive you backward. One of your comrades falls and he is immediately snatched into the mass of knotted limbs. There comes a nervous intake of breath where he disappeared just before the pealing of flesh and the cracking of bone. He had no real opportunity to scream. The rest of your group redoubles their efforts, fighting even harder, more than enough to make up for the fallen man. They surge forward and you retreat deeper into your home. When the doors broke open half of the group chose to flee into the basement, counting on that as a last stronghold, although you’ve already stated your case that this is a deathtrap. Although your own situation hardly seems any better with the sheer numbers you are confronted with.

You stumble, but shrug away the flash of the entirety of your life as you fight back to your feet, thrashing a lone zombie reaching for you. With each head that is bashed in or lopped off it becomes apparent you are not fighting a mob or even a hord, you are fighting a hydra. The dead come at you as one massive body, their numbers becoming greater by the second.

“Get back,” you say, the reason why as obvious to anyone else with eyes and ears. The situation is hopeless at present and even though giving up this high ground would seem the worst possible move an idea has struck you. “We have to get to the roof.”

As you crest the top of the stairs one of your compatriots chances a sideward glance at you.

“The roof?” he says incredulously. He doesn’t question as you break away from the fight, though, and dash down the hall, merely following just as the rest of the group and the dead shortly behind. The last person in doesn’t bother locking the door as dead hands won’t bother with the knob. In milliseconds after they reach the door it will be torn apart as they crowd in. Instead, you go for the window, shoving at it to get it open. Then you see the latch and flip it.

“Hurry, they’re coming!” someone says as if you already didn’t know. You tug on the window again and it still doesn’t budge. You quickly look around the window frame and see that it has been painted shut.

Then you take a step back, not bothering to announce what you are about to do and everyone follows suit as you smash the glass and quickly yank out as many of the tiny shards at the edges as possible before ushering the others out ahead of you.

Just then the moans grow loud, the door seeming to bulge before it splinters in the center and folds open. The dead pour through the door like angry bees from a hive. You look back at the last person wiggling her way through the window and you tap her back, hurrying her along.

You toss pillows, knickknacks, a television to trip them up, slow them down before turning to the window, practically diving through as undead stink fills your nose again.

Steady hands grab hold of you, help you to your feet. Your body automatically reorients to the slanted roof as you look around.

“Where’s <insert name here>?” you ask, noting your group is now a second body short.

“He fell over,” the thin woman whose name you never bothered remembering says. Sometime during all this chaos, names became superfluous, faces interchangeable, the people surrounding you transient.

<insert name here> wasn’t your friend, a neighbor before the apocalypse you knew well enough to say good morning to you by name, but not a friend. Even the ache you feel at the loss has grown cooler.

You nod and turn to face the window as the first one of the undead pops its head out. The skinny woman lops it off with one fell of the meaty sword she said she scavenged from a flea market and it falls away. Two more replace it and the other woman and a teenage boy move in and begin swatting at them with hammers, the woman’s blows falling with pinprick precision until her zombie drops hanging halfway out, the boy’s falling all over the place on its neck, arms, head and back.

An arm reaches out and grabs his wrist, the boy squealing and dropping the hammer inside the house. He had been full of piss and ready to take on the world until his best friend was torn open right in front of him and you had to step in to save him and what was left of Darren.

That name and that particular pale face begging for sweet death you wish you could forget.

You step in and pump a bullet into the brain of the zombie that has a hold of Darren’s friend. It lets go and you force the boy to allow you to examine his arm. By some wicked irony, God has allowed a slim miracle to slip free–the boy is unbitten. His flesh must have passed near at least three or four hungry mouths like a hot ear of buttered corn on the cob and all missed the opportunity.

The boy snatches away and retreats close to the edge. You want to tell him to watch his step and with one glance at the street below your breath is taken away.

There are thousands of them.

If you had any hope of getting past the zombies in the house and outside it dies. There is nowhere to go. The dead are packed tightly together, butts to nuts as someone might have said a year ago, before this nightmare, and to leap from this roof would be like leaping into a live blender.

Dry-mouthed, you turn back to the work at the window. The skinny woman is actively attempting to extract her sword from the skull of a thick-bodied, male zombie. It must be even thicker-skulled as it is still reaching for her, mere inches away with its jagged, talon-like hands. You step forward again and rather than wasting another precious bullet, grab it by its tattered collar and yank it the rest of the way through the window. The sword is pulled from the woman’s hands and as the zombie stands you casually step forward and deliver a Leonidas-style kick to the its chest, pitching it backward and into the sea of dead flesh awaiting below.

You briefly wonder how the people in the basement are faring, no doubt the five who decided on an opposite route from you must have been pushed back just as you were. One advantage the basement has that the upstairs doesn’t is actual hardwood doors. They won’t hold up forever, but perhaps they may fare a bit longer than you.

You don’t know which option to prefer.

“C’mon, let’s keep this up,” the other woman says, tucking her hammer into her pants. They begin grabbing zombie arms and pulling them out the window, propelling them toward the edge and either falling or taking no more than a gentle nudge to finish the job. Even the teenager joins in. After about ten minutes the bigger woman is beginning to tire and you switch with her. The skinny woman is a workhorse and is either not tiring or not interested in complaining.

“I’m ready,” the other woman says after a while, but the skinny one shakes her head. “C’mon, I’m ready.” Another shake. You give the waiting woman a look as if to say ‘What can you do?’ And continue your grueling work.

Shortly after, your rhythm is thrown horribly off. A tall and fat zombie jams its way into the window, big enough to crowd out all others. If you could just kill it and let it hang there you just may be able to get a breather for a while. You take a small step back and reach for your gun, holding out your hand to ward off the skinny woman. But she is set on her work and has not noticed you.

She pulls on the slovenly arm, a good deal of greasy, sallow skin slicking back in her hands, exposing rotted grey-brown muscle and yellowish tendons. She digs in at the wrist, pulling so hard she actually lifts the zombie herself. Then the foul creature’s arm detaches from the shoulder with an audible, sloppy –pop- and she stumbles back a step or two in surprise. She steps forward and in front of you just as you’ve drawn your gun when it springs its legs and comes out of the window like a jack-in-the-box from hell and lands squarely on top of her. Your shot isn’t clean and the other woman is struggling to get her hammer out. The boy is squealing and you seem paralyzed in the interminably long few seconds it takes for the zombie to dip its head and tear out a significant chunk of the skinny woman’s neck like it was putting its lips to a cool river for a drink.

A single kick rolls it off of her and she struggles to her feet, clutching her throat. Her eyes roll but she manages to power through it and saunter to the window again. A zombie about half her size slides through and stands, maybe a child of about eight when it had been living. She shoves it by the face and it rolls off the roof then she punches another in the chin, dislocating something vital enough that it collapses.

The skinny woman pauses, shutters, readjusts her grip on her own throat and seems to be attempting to swallow. Blood pours off her fingers like a waterfall. She sits heavily, barely out of reach of zombies half out the window. You take your mallet and break the arms closest before smashing three heads in quick, efficient blows, effectively stoppering the open window for the moment.

You and the others rush to her side and it is clear she is dying. The woman’s eyes roll slowly around to all three of you. She opens her mouth to speak and a gob of blood spurts out. Her face contorts in frustration and for one brief moment seems to lose control, arms and legs kicking as if they could fight off the inevitable.

With tremendous effort etched in her features she brings herself under control. You get it. She wants to die with her own measure of dignity. You don’t know from where or how she summons the strength but she calms her rapidly failing body until she looks serene.

She looks to you and nods. Before you can process what she means, she takes her hand away, the ragged hole at the side of her neck showering your shirtsleeve in red. It is quick and her eyes remain on you the whole time.

“I wanna go,” the teenager says. You look at him, still in awe of what you have just witnessed. He’s crossing his legs and hugging himself like he needs to pee, the way a three-year old would do.

“So go,” you say flatly. He rattles his head up and down and turns, walking toward the peak of the roof.

“That’s not going to last much longer,” the other woman says. You agree, thinking about much more than the window full of zombies. You’re tired and hungry and the thought of the boy relieving himself makes your burgeoning bladder squeeze. You wonder what’s the point and consider flinging yourself over the edge. It would be quicker and much less torturous.

“Don’t even think about it,” the woman says, fixing you with a hard stare. “We didn’t come this far to quit. I don’t care what the odds.”

“But where do we go?” You gesture to the waiting dead below. “How?”

“God will find a way.”

You grumble something about how The Man Upstairs has had over three hundred days of absenteeism since the dead arose and you doubt He’ll show up for work today.

“Hey, guys, I think I’m gonna jump,” the boy says.

“Todd, no!” the woman says. You don’t bother looking, let him.

“No, I mean across. Mike Powell has the world record at twenty-nine feet, four-and-a quarter inches. I’m about the same height and build as he was, I could do it, probably.”

“You’re just a teenager, Todd, that was a grown man!”

“I know, but what is that, about nineteen feet from edge to edge?”

She turns to you, eyes pleading as you lay the skinny woman’s body gently down, careful not to let it roll.

“I don’t have the strength to fight him and them if he wants to do it.”

No,” she says and is about to go to him when you hook her by the arm.

“What’s the harm?” you say. “Look at us–look at where we are. Where are we gonna go? What are we gonna do?”

She sags in your grip and the groans of the multitude refills the air in the silence between the two of you.

“Go, son,” you say. The teen nods again and jogs lightly back and forth until he finally settles at the other side of the roof. He stretches his hamstrings and back, rotates his upper body left then right. The whole exercise looks ridiculous given the circumstance, although the last thing any of you need is him tearing an Achilles’ tendon and pitching helplessly into the awaiting dead below.

He kneels and plants the thumb, index and middle fingers on the roof. He sucks air rapidly in and blows it out, his lips in a cartoonish ‘O’. Then he explodes from his crouch, arms like blades, stabbing into the air in front of him as if he is cutting it out of his way, legs thrusting his body forward like he is kicking into higher and higher gears.

“Go,” you hear yourself chanting, fists clenched. The woman’s nails dig into your arm. At first it doesn’t appear as if he is going fast enough. And then he kicks into another gear in the last ten feet and when he leaps your heart sinks. His arms and legs are pinwheeling like he’s falling and then you realize he is. He’s poured all his energy into the jump and he is now at the mercy of Newton’s Law and gravity.

As he descends in a maddening arc your eyes are locked on him. You are convinced he is dead at the same time praying to that absentee God that his feet find purchase on the other side. And then, the slim miracle occurs: he lands. But his forward motion stumbles him several feet farther and he loses his feet.

“Oh no!” you scream and the woman screams too, her nails piercing your skin. You watch him flip butt-over-teakettle before rolling helplessly toward the roof. His legs fall over before his momentum is suddenly stopped. You aren’t breathing and for a second can hear only the throbbing pulse in your ears. The boy seems hurt, but definitely alive. Carefully, he touches everything around him, orienting himself.

“Careful,” the woman says, more for her own ears than Todd’s.

“Get up, Todd. C’mon,” you say. You find yourself believing in something for the first time in what seems like months. The boy rolls over, his shorts snagged on the gutter and tearing, revealing a butt cheek. The woman and you both laugh nervously as he rises and examines himself. He does his best to cover up and as he walks closer to the edge, your heart falls again.

So he’s on the other side. So what?

“Are you okay?” the woman asks. Todd nods.

“See if they’ve made it inside,” the woman says. The boy nods again and walks over to a window.

“I don’t think so,” he says.

“Good. Break the window.”

“What are you doing?” you ask.

“Trust me,” Carol says. You remember her name for some reason. Carol.

“Todd, you’re going to find your way to the master bedroom, maybe an adjacent bedroom, look in the closet and find the attic access. There may be insulation up there and a lot of times that’s made with fiberglass. Try not to touch it too much, but once you’re up there find the garage access. There may be a ladder in there.”

“A ladder?” you say, astonished.

“Yes.” Carol looks at you. “I’m not a high school track star. I can’t jump across.”

You nod furiously, remembering your bum knee and wave to Todd. “Go on, hurry up.”

Todd disappears inside as soon as he’s busted open the window. You wait for what seems like ten, then twenty minutes before his head pops out.

“I can’t find it,” he says.

“Check all the bedrooms then, honey,” she says.

“Okay.” He ducks back inside.

The dead have finally dislodged from the window and two have come out. They stand unsteadily and Carol calmly walks over, ducks a lunge and gives the creature a light shove that sends it down and off the roof. The second takes a step and falls of its own accord. Others begin coming out and instead of attacking she allows them to come. Two, then three, then four.

You open your mouth to ask if she’s lost her mind when you get it. The dead already balance precariously, on a slanted surface they may as well be babies just learning to walk. More than half fall before they reach either of you and others require minimal effort to push off the roof. The two of you take the high ground and see the windows on the back of the house have been broken and waving arms and heads hanging out. As you stand with your feet to either side of the roof’s ridge you easily fend off the dead no matter their increasing numbers.

You lose track of time and the sun is near setting when a voice calls out to you.

“I found it!” Todd says, smiling. Carol looks over and so do you. The boy lacerated his scalp at some point, dried blood has tracked down the center of his face.

“Careful with that,” Carol says as he brings out the ladder, but it slides out of his grip and halfway off the roof before he catches it. It is made of aluminum and you’re not sure how much weight it can support the way you’ll be using it.

“We’ll go one at a time–you first,” you say to Carol.

She nods and makes her way toward the edge, stepping over the chimney delicately. A zombie that has been rooted to one spot for the last half hour finally makes its move and dives for her leg. Carol lifts it out of the dead man’s path and it crashes into the roof, bouncing harmlessly away and to the ground below.

You keep the zombies clear as Todd steadies the ladder and Carol attempts a few tentative steps.

“As silly as this sounds,” she says, “I’m afraid of heights a little.”

You grunt in assent, growing impatient as the sun sets. You aren’t sure how well you can move in the dark up here, what you might trip over or what you might not see. As she crosses you continue to fend off the dead and realize yet another problem. How will you cross and prevent them from disturbing the ladder?

Carol bobbles on her first step and you are certain she is about to fall. Then she rights herself, puts her arms out, and quickly manages her way across without incident.

Your turn.

It comes to you how you get across without the dead bothering you, literally falling on your head. At first the rain is a light drizzle, then it picks up, quickly soaking you. The walking corpses that have so far managed to keep their feet on the slanted roof suddenly find the job impossible.

You find yourself sliding some and have to adjust your footing to keep from sliding right into them. But one by one they all begin falling and then falling off the roof.

“Come on!” Carol says, laughing and you laugh too, whether it’s the entire ridiculousness of the whole situation or that you may have found a pinhole sized pathway out of Hell, you don’t know. You turn toward the ladder, ready to crawl across on hands and knees if you have to when you hear the chalky moan.

The corpse of the skinny woman seizes you by the wrist and it is by pure luck alone that you snatch your hand away in time before she bites you. The two of you topple over, her on top, teeth gnashing, reaching for your throat just as the fat zombie did hers. You get your forearm under her chin in time, although it is a struggle. Whereas she was strong in life, she appears even stronger in now. You know this is not true, that actually the single-mindedness off the dead allows them to focus their energy more intensely than the living, ignoring all else around them. This is of absolutely no comfort for you in this moment.

Add to your dilemma you’ve begun sliding to the edge and it feels like you may have broken a rib when you fell. Carol and Todd are shouting and you do your best to ignore them, wishing they would be quiet so you could figure out what to do. You try to dig your gun out but the corpse is pressed so firmly atop you it grinds the weapon painfully into your hip.

This is it, either fight or die. You set your mind, mentally laying out a short list of tasks to survive the next few moments. You have to stop sliding. You aren’t in a position to dig your heels in, your shoes would just be pulled off your feet. So you decide to do something even riskier and let the zombie’s face come closer to yours. It takes some effort but you manage to turn its head away and wrap your arms around its shoulder and neck, tucking your shoulder beneath its chin as you hug it tightly. It scratches at your clothes and the roof, tearing out tiles futilely. You take a deep breath, bend your knees and slap the soles of your shoes onto the roof and pump your hips as hard as you can, throwing the zombie’s lower body off yours.

Its legs sail into view, its neck cracking a second later. The body slackens and collapses and you let go, turning over to watch it tumble onto the sea of still moving bodies below. You’ve come close enough that your head and arms hang over the edge and you take a moment to look at them as they absently pull apart the woman who had been Sheila.

Sheila had been her name. And she had been the strongest woman–person–you had ever met.

You hear Carol’s voice over the rain like a million drumming fingers on the roof. You rise from your reverie and carefully trudge back to the ridge. You are beyond exhausted and simply watch as more zombies pour out of the window and immediately slip and fall off the roof. It would be comical if you hadn’t lost so many today.

“Are you okay?” Carol asks. You look at her, give her a weak thumbs up and collapse to your hands and knees. The crawl across the ladder is slow, but intentional. You are certain not to miss a rung, grasping each fully with either hand and centering it on your knees as your traverse to the other side, all the while looking down at the mass of writhing bodies and reaching hands until you feel Todd and Carol pulling you to your feet.

“Dad, we made it,” Todd says, smiling broadly at you. You look at him as if you need a moment to translate what those four words mean. Carol gently squeezes your arm and points out something in the distance in the dying light. It takes a moment, but you see the fence, still intact, and know what that means.

“They can’t smell us in the rain. They can’t hear us, either, honey.” Carol speaks as if she knows a secret. She pulls your face close and kisses you passionately, unintentionally scratching you with the downturned diamond of her wedding ring. Her positive energy slowly energizes you until you can stand on your own. Todd slaps you on the shoulder and smiles.

There are a dozen houses between the three of you and that fence and the dead appear to be thinner there.

“Well, if the ladder holds,” you say, sounding weak still but stronger than you felt five minutes ago.

It’s probably impossible, you think. We’ll probably die. Carol will fall off the roof, I’ll probably fall with the ladder and Todd will try to jump again and fall short. Despite these dark and doubtful thoughts, you find a wellspring of something inside you have long been in short supply: hope.

image1

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!

Teaser: Armand Rosamilia #WinterofZombie

highwaytohell2

Highway To Hell 2

Chapter One

 

Randy Jackson didn’t know the make and model of the pistol aimed at his forehead and, right now, he didn’t care. His arms were growing tired from keeping them over his head. His shitty day was getting worse and worse.

“Where’d the woman go?” the dirty man holding the gun finally asked through rotting teeth. He was flanked by two men also threatening Randy with weapons. “The redhead. We saw her drive away in a car.”

“My car,” Randy said. “She stole it. She left me stranded.”

“Lover’s spat?” one of the men asked and all three laughed, but kept their guns aimed at Randy’s head.

“I didn’t really get to chat with her much. She jumped me and took my car. That’s about it,” Randy said.

“Bullshit. You’ve been with her for awhile and she fucked you out of your wheels. Isn’t that right?”

Randy sighed and put his arms down. If they were going to kill him, they’d do it regardless of where his hands were. “Not even close.”

“I’m listening,” the leader said.

“I drove into town and when I stopped the woman carjacked me. I barely saw her but I’m guessing there aren’t too many redheads running around. That’s it. I’ve been wandering around for a couple of days trying to keep warm and find another way out.”

“Where did you come from?”

“Baltimore area,” Randy said.

“Why’d you leave Baltimore?”

“Because it’s worse there than here, if you can believe it. I was… out of my head for a bit. I lost someone very near and dear to me.”

“We all did,” one of the other guys said. “The fucking redhead killed a lot of people before she left. We’re going after her.”

The leader shook his head and stopped aiming at Randy’s head. “No, we ain’t. We have no way to follow her and it is too damn cold. We have no real idea where she’s heading, either.”

“South,” the guy offered. “Jimbo and I were on the roof when we saw her driving south.”

“Well, that really helps clear it up. Easy as pie now. We just go south. It ain’t like it’s a thousand miles to fucking Key West. And that’s if the bitch drives straight down and follows I-95. God forbid she turns at any point,” the leader said. “You’re an idiot. You know that?”

Randy sighed. “Look, I’m no harm. I’m just a guy having a shitty week. I want to find somewhere to sleep that’s warm tonight. The zombies are everywhere and we’re standing in the middle of the road.”

“You ain’t going anywhere, buddy. So shut the fuck up and put your hands back on your head,” the leader said. “We’ll decide what to do with you once we get back to the warehouse.”

“Does the warehouse have heat?” Randy asked. His fingers were on the verge of being frost-bitten. The days were getting nicer but at night it was still really cold.

“We live on the roof,” one of the men said.

“Shut up,” the leader said. “There’s no room for you at the warehouse.”

Randy was confused. “Huh? You just said you’d figure out what to do with me once we got back to the warehouse. I heard you. How about you guys?”

“You did say it,” one of the men admitted.

“I changed my fucking mind,” the leader yelled. “He’s another mouth to feed and we’re almost out of food. This town is dried up. Ain’t nothing left but zombies. But no one will listen to me. I’m not watching him.” He held up his pistol and took a step back. “I’m going to kill him and be done with it.”

“I think there’s an easier way,” Randy said, having no clue what it would be but trying to stall. He had his arms up again, waving his hands. “We can work this out. Every move doesn’t have to end in violence, buddy… I’m Randy. Randy Jackson.”

“Like the guy from American Idol?” one of them asked. “You, uh, don’t look like him.”

Randy had heard it a million times. Right now he didn’t want to get into a long-winded explanation about where his name came from. Although… “Have you ever heard of a rock band from Long Island called Zebra?”

All three men shook their heads. At least no one had shot him yet.

“I was named after the lead singer from what my mom tells me. I don’t know if it’s true or a coincidence. But I never had a problem until the show came on. I’ve even had people ask if we’re related,” Randy said. When the men laughed, he felt relief. Maybe he could get them to joke around. He’d do a dance if it meant staying alive.

“That’s a great story. So long, Randy Jackson,” the leader said.

Randy closed his eyes. End of the line, he thought. What a horrible life and a horrible way to die.

The shot went off but it sounded distant. Before Randy had time to properly process it, there was another and then another.

He opened his eyes to see all three men dead.

Holy fucking shit, Randy thought and looked around. He was alone. He looked at the buildings around him, especially the rooftops, and down the street. But someone had shot these three thieves while he had his eyes closed. He looked to the sky, at the overcast grayness and stray snowflakes falling. Was it Divine Intervention?

“Get off the street, you idiot,” he heard a female voice yell from somewhere in the building before him. Randy decided to run like hell down the street before whoever it was decided to put a bullet in him, too.

Randy got about a block before the cold and having no warm clothes started to get to him again. He knew he wouldn’t last too much longer if he didn’t find heat.

The building behind the one he thought the female had shouted from had an open window but the door was still intact. Randy hadn’t seen a zombie in at least an hour, which was a good thing. He didn’t know if he had the strength to fight.

“Hello?” he yelled inside the dark building. He’d rather have a horde of zombies try to attack from the other side of the wall than slide into the room and have them rip him apart.

And if there were living, breathing people maybe he’d get help. It was impossible everyone left alive was an asshole, right? Randy crossed his fingers and yelled again.

He counted to fourteen. He had no idea why he’d picked the number. Despite the chill, he wasn’t too keen on going inside and seeing what new terror awaited him.

It had been a bad day, a bad week and a bad month.

Movement caught his eye. The dead had found Randy, three zombies shuffling down the street silently. He stared at them for awhile as they bumped into one another, dead eyes fixed on his location.

Randy sighed and crawled into the window, expecting an attack at any moment. He scurried across the debris on the floor and put his back against a wall, trying to let his eyes adjust and sniffing the cold air. If he smelled anything rotting, he’d jump back out the window. At least in the open, he had a fighting chance of running away.

But there was nothing out of the ordinary. The scant light showed Randy the only thing rotting was a couch and a pile of blankets heaped in front of a ruined television.

Randy pushed the couch out a couple of feet, grabbed all the moldy blankets and crawled behind the couch. If he was going to die, he’d die sleeping, he decided.

He pulled the couch as close to his body as he could, bundled in the blankets and ignored the smell. If someone came into the room without a light source, they might not see him right away, hiding behind the couch.

Randy listened to the faint sounds of the undead shambling by outside the window before sleep mercifully took him away.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Highway-Hell-2-Armand-Rosamilia-ebook/dp/B014PNZ24Q/ref=sr_1_2_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447860726&sr=8-2&keywords=highway+hell+armand

Armand and Cthulhu (fun-sized)

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2015, with 40+ of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

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!

#WinterofZombie is the hashtag for Twitter, too!