Teaser: Mikhail Lerma #WinterofZombie

Z Plan Series promo

Prologue

 

He laid on the old beat up mattress on the floor, staring at the spot on the ceiling. It was dark brown, water maybe, or maybe even an old bloodstain. The curtains hanging in the window began to rustle. The breeze brought in the putrid smell of the crowds of undead wandering the streets outside, their moans never ceasing.

How did he get here? The past few weeks had been a nightmarish blur, running for his life from masses of undead cannibals. He’d had nightmares about this very thing since he was a child, ever since he had seen Return of the Living Dead. Those zombies couldn’t be killed. The ones in the Romero movies could be though; you just had to destroy their brains.

At least he was kind of prepared for this sort of thing. He chuckled to himself, “Who knew Romero would be so accurate? Can’t stay here long, they’ll start gathering again.” He sat up and stretched, making the wound in his side sting for a moment.

Cale had become accustomed to sleeping short hours and packing lightly. He’d also gotten used to talking to himself. It was really the only thing he could do to keep from going mad.

It was like the whole world had gone insane. It started with breakouts of some new form of rabies. Mass acts of violence, murder, and suicide. Most people were calling it an End of Days, the Apocalypse, or Armageddon. Cale thought it was ridiculous what the superstitious freaks thought of.

He believed it was a virus of some kind, nothing magical. Hell hadn’t filled up. Somewhere, someone fucked up. They didn’t wash their hands or something. He put on his boots. Most of his combat uniform, with stains of dirt and blood, he kept.  He discarded the top, but kept the undershirt, boots, and pants. Cale looked for the practical reasons for keeping things.  He kept the boots because they were comfortable and you could run in them, the pants because they had enough pockets to hold everything he’d need, like snack foods, ammo clips, and his lucky charm. Most importantly, a green piece of cloth, cut to look like a tiny American soldier, and a red, white, and blue charm bracelet identical to the ones his wife and daughter wore.

He often wondered if they made it to his mother-in-law’s. They were going to visit her family in Illinois for the holidays. The last time he talked to his wife, and it seemed so long ago now, he asked her if anything was happening there. Nothing had been reported yet. The outbreaks had started somewhere in Africa. She assured him they’d be fine. After tying his last boot he walked to the dresser for his knife. Actually it wasn’t his knife at all. It had belonged to his friend, most definitely his best friend in the war. It was a remake of a WWII British combat knife.

It was his fault that Zach was now dead. He, after all, suggested they split up.

 MikhailLerma

*   *   *   *   *

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!

Advertisements

Teaser: Zach Bohannon #WinterofZombie

empty bodies cover for real last no doubt

The following is an excerpt from “Empty Bodies” by Zach Bohannon

 

The sheer chaos in the plane was a horror he could’ve never imagined. Down the middle aisle, bodies lay both sprawled and stacked on top of each other. On some, arms waved from figures who were covered with the bodies of the assailants. The lights flashed on and off above Gabriel’s head and the captain was still working to calm down his passengers, apparently having no idea of the mutilation happening behind the comfort of the cockpit.

Then Gabriel heard a scream over the intercom, and the calming of the captain ceased to exist.

Frantic alarms suddenly sounded through the plane and Gabriel lost his balance, grabbing onto a nearby seat to keep himself upright.

In front of him, one of the creatures looked up from its prey and saw Gabriel. It hissed at him from one knee as it dropped the head of its victim and stood.

The eyes, formerly a man’s eyes, had gone as gray as a cloudy spring day. Blood covered its cheeks, and pieces of flesh were stuck around its mouth as it came at Gabriel without hesitation.

As Gabriel backed up, the plane began to rumble, sending him and his stalker both to the ground. The creature rolled over Gabriel, the motion of the plane sending it hissing over him and hurtling toward the back of the cabin.

When he was able to catch his balance, he looked back and saw the remains of his stalker’s brains splattered on the wall.

He turned back toward the front of the plane just as another beast came at him. It was just about to bite his right arm when he blocked the path to his wrist with the stake, and the thing bit into the wood instead of his flesh. It chomped at the wood, leaving teeth marks in the middle of the shaft, as Gabriel pushed the beast away from him. They both fell backwards, away from each other, and Gabriel hit the back of his head on the floor when he landed.

He stumbled to his feet and limped over to the fallen creature. Looking over him, he saw those eyes. Those dead, cold eyes. They looked up at him without a soul. Remembering that the stab to the stomach had done nothing to his previous foe, Gabriel took the stake over his head, and with a thunderous plunge, drove it into the face of the monster below him. The blow covered his white dress shirt in a mural of red, but the thing’s arms went limp and didn’t move.

Gabriel put his foot on the chest of the beast and tried to remove the stake, but couldn’t. The lights flashed and the plane shook again, sending Gabriel off his feet, banging his head again, this time against one of the seats. As Gabriel fell, he clutched his hand and grimaced, feeling the burn of a newborn splinter in his palm from the shaft of the plunger.

All around him, he could hear the echoing of beasts’ howls and victims’ pleas as the plane continued a turbulent and eventual fall to the earth.

The plane fumbled again and sent Gabriel rolling down the aisle toward the front of the plane. One of the things passed over the top of him, chomping its jaws and hissing as they passed each other in mid-air.

Gabriel stopped sliding and rolling as the plane leveled again. His face was against the ground and as he looked over, he saw the young boy curled under the seat in front of his. Dylan lay on his forearms and gripped the metal base of the seat, the lonesome helplessness flashing over him.

Gabriel knew that his only chance to survive was to get back into a seat and hope—pray—that none of those things got to him. He reached up, grabbed onto the nearest armrest, and pulled himself up into his original seat.

Dylan seemed unaware that Gabriel was there; he was in shock.

“Hey, kid,” Gabriel whispered urgently.

The back of the boy’s legs faced Gabriel and he continued to look straight forward, never glancing up.

“Dylan, right? We have to get you up into your seat,” Gabriel told him.

Dylan still didn’t respond.

Gabriel heard more screams from further toward the front of the plane, piercing through the pounding shriek of the alarms.

He knew there was little time, so he leaned over and reached for Dylan’s legs.

The boy screamed and began to squirm, kicking back at Gabriel.

“Calm down,” Gabriel demanded, but Dylan didn’t.

His hands around the boy’s stomach, Gabriel lifted Dylan off the ground as he continued to yell and, with his back facing Gabriel, slapped at whatever part of Gabriel he could find. Gabriel let out a groan, turned Dylan around, and slapped the boy across the cheek.

The squirming stopped and Dylan looked to him in shock.

“Listen to me,” Gabriel said. “If you want any chance of seeing your mom and dad again, you better stop that shit right now and do as I say. Do you understand?”

Dylan, holding his face where the palm had landed, reluctantly nodded.

Gabriel guided the boy into the seat closest to the window and strapped him in. Above their heads, the oxygen masks swung back and forth. He grabbed the mask above Dylan’s head and secured it to the boy’s face, hoping that any beasts still alive were being bludgeoned by the plane’s walls.

“Now, hold on,” Gabriel told him.

Gabriel extended the seatbelt over his own lap and clicked it in, pulling to make sure it was secure. When he went to reach for his mask, the scream beside him stopped him.

A man, sick and decaying, reached at Gabriel. He was about the same height as Gabriel, but heavier by at least twenty pounds from what he could tell. Their hands were locked on each other’s shoulders and Gabriel tried desperately to hold the thing at bay.  Its mouth was open, spitting blood and saliva all over Gabriel, who screamed consistently, trying to fight the thing off.

Gabriel’s hand slipped, allowing the thing to get within inches of his face.

Then, Gabriel watched its face fall back and away from him as the lights dimmed and the plane began to dive.

“Shit,” Gabriel mumbled, his eyes wide. The plane was going down.

Frantically, Gabriel reached above his head, trying to grab the mask. His nervous hands shook but he found it and secured it to his face.

He took the hand of the little boy, who was screaming through his mask.

“Hold on,” Gabriel cried out.

He closed his eyes, thinking of Katie and Sarah as the plane made its accelerated final descent.

FullSizeRender

*   *   *   *   *

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: Edward P. Cardillo #WinterofZombie

Creeping-Dead-ebook-cover(1)

The Creeping Dead: A Zombie Novel

Edward P. Cardillo

August 21

“This is Mark Altman here on the Jersey Shore, in the small resort town of Smuggler’s Bay, in the midst of two strong weather fronts culminating in what is becoming Superstorm Rodney.”

The cameraman followed him up a wooden ramp. As the camera jostled around a bit, Mark Altman’s hat blew off his head, and his raincoat and hair flapped madly in the wind.

“As you can see, we are now up on the Smuggler’s Bay boardwalk, and—right behind me (the camera pans and zooms past Mark’s shoulder)—you can see the surf encroaching up the beach, practically to the boardwalk.”

The sky was a dark gray, and the clouds raced by as if something chased them. The ocean surged up the beach, the sand no longer visible under the churning surf.

“Pretty soon the water will be washing up onto the boardwalk and eventually into the residential community behind it.”

Shouts came from behind the cameraman. A few police officers emerged into view.

“We have now with us members of the local law enforcement.”

One officer stepped in front of the camera and addressed Mark directly. “You can’t be out here right now,” he shouted over the howling winds, the boom microphone bouncing off of his blue cap. “It’s too dangerous!”

Everybody ducked and flinched as a wall of water hit the public restroom behind them, off to the right, splashing vertically into the air, sending foam and spray across the boardwalk.

“See what I mean?” shouted the Chief into Mark’s face.

The camera panned right, zooming down the boardwalk. Water surged over the edge of the boardwalk, through the green chain linked fence, and around potted palm trees and wooden benches. The sky ride chairs swung in the high winds.

“What’s that?” asked the cameraman, lowering the camera and pointing.

In the distance, figures shambled down the boardwalk. There were about a dozen of them, spread apart.

“Those…those are people,” said Mark in astonishment. “There are people walking down the boardwalk?”

“Jesus Christ,” said the Chief. He turned to Mark. “Get off this boardwalk, now!” He motioned to his officers, and they took off down the boardwalk toward the walkers.

Mark Altman didn’t miss a beat. “There you have it from Chief Holbrook, the boardwalk is no longer a safe place to be. The various businesses and shops are all boarded-up, sandbags forming what will likely be a futile barrier against the relentless surf now encroaching on the boardwalk.”

The camera was still focused on the police officers as they splashed their way toward the oblivious pedestrians.

Mark continued his commentary off camera. “They’re walking erratically…they appear to be…intoxicated. Don’t you worry, the Chief will make sure they’re escorted off the boardwalk to safety…excuse me.”

The camera wheeled back around to find Mark with his back turned toward a couple more walkers, a man and a woman, closing in on them.

“Excuse me,” Mark shouted at them over the howling wind, rain battering his face and fogging up his glasses. “It’s not safe on the boardwalk.”

The man and woman either were unable to hear him, or they just ignored him, and kept walking toward Mark, the rain and the camera lens fogging up, blurring their features.

“Mark, there’s something wrong with them,” said the cameraman.

Now only fifty or so feet away, the walkers’ features came into view. They both had dark circles around their eyes and a strange pallor to their skin. The girl walked as if her feet were shackled, and the man was dragging his right foot sideways on its ankle behind him.

“They don’t look so good,” said Mark to the cameraman. Then to the walkers, “Are you hurt? Do you need assistance? Larry, wait here. I’ll go get the Chief.”

“Okay,” answered the cameraman nervously.

Mark handed Larry his microphone and took off down the boardwalk toward the Chief and his men. The camera wheeled around again, the features of the closing walkers becoming more distinct. The man’s lip was curled up in a sneer, his eyes wide. The girl was…grinning, her eyes wild. They were reaching out for the camera.

The cameraman started to back away from them, the camera half-pointed downward, filming the walkers’ feet. A bone jutted out of the side of the man’s ankle, its sharp end scraping the wood of the boardwalk planks. It stuck out farther every time the man put weight on it, while the foot flopped around on the boardwalk, splashing in the water.

“Mark! Oh, Jesus…Mark!”

Suddenly, the camera jerked up as the cameraman collided with something behind him. Hands reached around, forearms blocking the view of the camera as the cameraman screamed into the howling wind.

There were wet ripping and growling sounds as the man and woman caught up, their faces popping in and out of view as the camera swung back and forth.

There was a loud crashing sound as water came rushing into frame, covering the cameraman’s feet. The camera dropped to the ground, and the picture went black.

The network cut the audio when the cameraman’s screams died down into gurgling and the growls turned into ravenous chomping.

 

The Creeping Dead can be purchased as a Kindle ebook or paperback on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Creeping-Dead-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B00SW5JVWI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

*   *   *   *   *

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: Scott Lefebvre #WinterofZombie

The_End_Of_The_World_Cover_for_Kindle (1)

The Middle Of Nowhere by Scott Lefebvre

     Sean narrowed his eyes into what was almost a squint as the high thin clouds scuttled away from under the sun making the glare from the sun even brighter than it had been a moment before.   He was wearing cheap black plastic sunglasses over his prescription glasses mended at the corner with a bent and twisted staple where a tiny screw used to be.   The sunglasses were a luxury in these times when the world required one’s constant attention if one wanted to live until the sun went down.   Darkening one’s visual perspective with darkened lenses was dangerous, but the headache caused by eye stain from constantly squinting at the glare of the sun as it reflects off of the road and the flickering of the overgrown fields laid out as far as the horizon to either side of the road, as far as anyone could see, was also dangerous as the two-lane blacktop laid out straight into the distance until the vanishing point was always seemingly closing but never arriving like an eternally postponed tomorrow, shimmering with imaginary heat mirages that had the potential to lull a person into a trance and that was the most dangerous of all.

Sometimes there were traps set in the road and sometimes the traps were warned of in advance with signs painted on repurposed pieces of wood affixed to lengths of pole or pieces of metal stuck into the ground and skewed by the capricious intentions of seasonal winds.   Sometimes the warnings were painted on the road itself in big block letters in whatever color of paint was most conveniently readily available at the time or in uneven spray-painted letters.   The messages usually read along the lines of “TURN AROUND”, or “DEAD AHEAD”, or even simple pictographs of child-like scrawlings of skulls and crossbones but the message was always the same.

The message was always, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”   The message was “Your final destination is ahead.”   The message was “Death awaits.”

The message was always “The living need not apply.” or “There’s nothing for you up ahead, so you might as well save yourself the gas and time and effort and head back in the direction you came from.” but usually there was nothing in the direction you came from or there was something but that something was bad or dangerous and anything and anywhere seemed better than what you had left behind anyway so you went forward anyway hoping that maybe the next stop would be better than the last and sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t but you never know unless you go and almost anywhere is better than wherever you are except when it’s not.

The traps that were warned about in advance were usually the less dangerous.   Busses resting on their axles across the road to prevent your progress.   Boxes of metal designed to move groups of people rendered redundant since there was no reason to move people from one point to another and significantly fewer people to move even if they were of a mind to do so.   Intentionally parked across the road and left to rust, the messages were usually painted across the broad side graffiti style.   “NO MAN’S LAND AHEAD” and “TURN BACK WHILE YOU CAN”.

It was the traps that you weren’t warned about in advance that were dangerous.   The bridges that had been washed out by flash floods or were unable to bear themselves up against the constant strain of gravity and the gradual disintegration by the oxidizing effect of rust which is what almost always happens when most metals are left to the merciless attentions of water and air.   The monuments made by man seemed so eternal when there were people around to see to the needs of their buildings and bridges.   But as is often said, time destroys everything and nothing is permanent.

Sean was fine with traveling alone by daylight despite the risks because without any other people to worry about there was less to worry about overall.   Sure it would have been nice to have someone along for the ride to help to kill the seemingly endless time.   A woman or another man but preferably a woman because of the other.   Their softer voices and softer skins.   But companionship also means another mouth to feed and another life to watch over and another bladder to listen to the insistent demands of on the road.

Worthwhile companions were in short supply since the world ended.   Hunger and fear and self-interest usually worked against the human instinct to operate as a social animal and in the absence of this instinctual drive, the worse natures of humans were brought to the fore as a constant character.

To survive in the world that was, now that the world that used to be was over, everyone had to do the opposite of what they had always been taught to do unto each other as they would have done unto themselves.   Everyone that did not kill and steal and covet the possessions of others would be killed and stolen from by those that coveted what little they had and would not survive.

http://www.amazon.com/End-World-Nigh-Middle-Nowhere/dp/1495291529

*   *   *   *   *

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: Dunne Brothers #WinterofZombie

image1

Tales of

The Nothing Man

 

Tale 1

The Lady

Michael killed himself two days ago. We lost Elliot a few weeks before that. Without his brother, I guess he figured it was all too hard, so he simply gave up. Too much pain, too much misery. I found him dangling after he threw in the towel and hung himself in the barn. I know it must have been hard for him to do, to leave me. I don’t blame him and I try not to hate him, but it is a bitter painful pill to swallow. After all, he was the man, I am the woman. Instinct drives a man to protect. Turbulent, crashing emotions threaten to drown me. Though, somehow, with feelings of pity and mercy, I hope to forgive him.

Elliot would be super pissed at him. All the effort he’d gone through to save us all those times, wasted. Poor Elliot copped it cheap. An unfortunate choice of soft soggy wood he’d used to pulp a zombie’s head left him scattered full of infected splinter shrapnel. He knew what it meant, and he couldn’t ask either of us to do it for him. Neither of us was brave enough to offer.

While Michael and I pretended to sleep, Elliot went and did what needed to be done. Quietly, so as not to bring any unwanted guests, nose diving head first off the top of the barn. The courage, conviction and self-control it must have taken not to put his hands out to make sure the job would be done properly, brings me to oceans of tears. Michael and I never spoke of it. Michael, I think he fancied me. Sometimes the heart wants what it can’t have, which is probably why I longed for Elliot. Perhaps Michael’s guilt or his confused feelings at failing his younger brother at the end was what pushed him over. I guess I’ll never know.

Outside the temperature has to be over 40 degrees Celsius, and it has been for the last week or so. Conditions are unbearable. It’s dry and hot. I ran out of stored food. I’m low on ammo, and we haven’t seen another living soul for months now. The Australian outback is just about as harsh and unforgiving as the zombies that want to feed on us. By luck, good or bad, I have yet to decide, we made it through the collapse of civilization. We witnessed loved ones dying first hand. We stood by while the life left their eyes, and we closed them again after death had reopened them. We struggled within ourselves, almost losing the fight to madness and the unconquerable mountains of depression and stress. But I would not yet call myself a survivor. A memory perhaps, or maybe a reminder of the old world, but not a survivor. By definition, nobody survives an apocalypse. Now I fight starvation, infection, disease, and worst of all, loneliness. Everything just wants me dead.

For so long it had been just the three of us, bunkered down in an abandoned farm house, making do as best we could, then two. Now it’s just me. No Elliot to keep me comfortable. Alone in the world of the undead. Nights are the hardest, sleeping by myself on the second story of the barn, struggling with the heat and twitching to arms at every noise. I have some decisions to make. Do I go resupply my water rations or should I check on the fences, maybe I should kill myself, or maybe I should prepare to move?

Who would know? More importantly, who would care? Michael did it, why can’t I?

Madness stole his health. He was sick and wasn’t getting better, physically and mentally destroyed. I pity and forgive him.

One word keeps running through my head. WHY

Why should I continue?

Why did Michael have to get sick?

Why the fuck is it so hot?

Why didn’t Elliot choose a more sturdy piece of wood?

If there is a God I ask him…WHY? FUCKING WHY?

I turn to the only form of company and solace I have left. Elliot’s handwritten, ragged journal. Since he has been gone, I have carried it everywhere with me. I have read it almost to the point of being able to memorize it, but I feel the need to read it again. In it are his thoughts all lined up and organized. I can almost hear his self-educated voice as I read the words. The pages are dirty and ruffled. Slowly my fingers turn the pages to find his last few entries.

My body decides I should walk the fence line while I read. Old school six-shooter dangling loosely in one hand and Elliot’s penned thoughts in the other, I walk. I walk and I read and I ponder. I don’t look up, see or hear, but my body moves along the fence line.

Evidence.

 

Evidence via Observation. Senses. Touching. Seeing. Hearing. Smelling.
Everyday I see the dead walking, hear the dry clicking of their hungry mouths and smell the rotted meat that is their flesh.
My proven senses, they are the things I believe in.

Lazily as I walk I tap my gun against each wooden fence post, just like I use to on my way home from school. Oblivious of my surroundings and trapped in a world of Elliot’s deep thoughts, I don’t notice the surrounding bush land conspire with the weather and start to whisper evil plans. The mood in the air changes.

Tradition. Authority. Revelation – Lies!

I don’t believe them. Never have I witnessed a divine miracle or seen any signs of a God. The biggest lie is the tradition of religion. Someone made something up and told everybody it was true. Where is the evidence? Just because it is old and written in many books and because so many other people believe in it, I’m supposed to as well? It isn’t any truer now then it was when it was written. How can it be? There are so many variations of even the same religion. How can they all be right?
I don’t notice it when the air pressure drops and changes, but the birds in the high branches talk about it and the lizards in the scrub dance about it. Wind swirls and lifts and pushes on the trees, slyly testing the weight of things for what it knows is brewing.

Authority.

 

I have issues with authority. Just because an individual says so does not make it so. Show me the Evidence. Let me see it, let me touch it or let me hear it. Let me observe your ‘truth’.

…Click…A distant noise pulls on the sleeve of my consciousness.

Revelation.

 

To have a really strong feeling about something with no evidence other than a gut feeling. Every time I bought a lotto ticket I would convince myself that I was going to win. Look how that worked out for me. Of course it is important to follow your feelings and to be led by instinct, but a gut feeling is still guided by unconscious wants and needs, chemical reactions in the brain and environmental upbringing. Who is to say that my gut is more right than your gut? Evidence is!

Click…Click…Click…the familiar noise pricks my ears and stirs deep inside. It threatens to wake me from my thoughts, but it is distant and not important enough to distract me from finding the answers I so desperately seek. In Elliot’s journal I hope to find the epiphany that will surely save my soul.
When revelation and authority mix, look out! A man with a really big hat or seven wives may try and convince you, based on the ‘beliefs’ of others and a really old book, that you are going to be punished for an eternity when you die. Punished if you don’t do what he says. Most likely because of that old man you’ll have trouble adjusting to society and work the graveyard shift at a gas station with an idiot named Geoff for most of your adult life; an early glimpse of hell.

Click…

Faith and Hope!
Both good words. We can share faith in mankind and hope for the survival of our race. Together we should strive and believe in this.

…Click…Click

Should I have faith and hope that we can find more survivors? That we can re-create what we once had?

Click …Click…CLICK! Such an annoying familiar noise, “WHAT!” I scream in frustration. It’s then and only then I look up and notice I have undead company. Six of them just on the other side of the fence, clawing and scratching and Click-Click-Clicking their dusty mouths in that sickening way they do. They are walking bug specimens, petri dishes full of disease. Maggots and all sorts of creepy crawly creatures fall from half ears or from between exposed rib cages, while thick clouds of flies buzz unnoticed around them. Barely clothed and with nothing more than mutilated steaks for feet, they do their little hungry dance for me. There are six of them and I have six bullets.

Oh, I really shouldn’t…BAM! Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Really…other Clickers will hear.
BAM! Roaaaaad kill.
I’m low on ammo as it is.
BAM! Dropped Pie.
I could run and get the…BAM! Fucking die! Fucking click your mouth at me?
Two of them left, and two bullets remain. They stand one in front of the other, with no value for personal space. They don’t fight over me. They will be happy to share my warm blood.

This time I appreciate the moment. I take careful aim and prepare to shoot through the gaping, yellow-teethed mouth of the dead thing in front. Hate makes my trigger finger tremble in anticipation. Because of these things , I am where I am. I have lost what I have lost.

BAM! Shish kebab!

Perfectly timed, the two dead things wobble their heads in tandem. My bullet exits out the back of the mushy head of the first, and in and out of the second. Two Clickers with one bullet. They fall in a sloppy heap with the other four.

One bullet left.

Pleased with myself, I continue to read.

Reality.

And walk.

A dog sees the world in mainly black and white. Fruit bats see nothing, but sense the world. The reality of their world is so much different to ours. A schizophrenic’s reality may include a voice telling you to stab your friends, and a man with an inner ear problem experiences a much more wobbly reality. Reality is in the eye of the beholder.
Perhaps we don’t have the right eyes or the correct senses. Perhaps, as human beings, we are unable to observe the true reality of our existence. I believe this to be true. I don’t know what is out there. I don’t know why anything happens, but logic tells me not to follow blindly. If I do, how will I see what is ahead of me?

I do believe that when I die, I will I become NOTHING!

The weight of the gun is heavy in my hand, and as I come to the edge of the property I remember, one bullet left.

As I have done a hundred times, I repeat to myself Elliott’s final word etched hard and deep in to the page ‘NOTHING’. Reproachfully I look up to the heavens, smile and ask myself the big questions.

Do I believe in an afterlife, reincarnation, heaven or hell? Should I strive to survive? Am I scared of the nothing? Of becoming nothing, just as Elliot did the second his head spilled out?

A woman, alone in what’s left of this world. Then I ask myself, is it worth it? Am I dead already and is this my own personal hell? Surely the nothing is better than this?

Drawn to it, I find myself by the barn, near a scattering of sharp, up turned rocks. The heap where Elliot landed. The clouds have come in dark and aggressive. The sun is leaving too. Do the clouds care that I carry a gun in my hand? Do they know what I plan to do with it? Sinister clouds, they urge me on. Troubled by the weight of my existence, I drop harshly to my hands and knees. Broken, defeated, and empty. A non-believer, prostrating myself. Lightning flashes and thunder laughs, daring me to do it. The cruel world in all its misery mocks me with sticky hot weather, thunder and lightning but no rain to ease my woes. Not a tear shed by any witness.

Elliot’s journal lays open on the ground. The wind turns its pages at random.

One bullet left.

My stomach is angry at me and it growls with protest and hunger. My mouth is blistered and dry, my pretty lips and gorgeous smile taken. They don’t exist anymore. My entire body aches and cries for sweet relief. The safety is off. The hot barrel is on my temple. My finger on the trigger.

Tears fill my eyes, and dirt and grime run down my face like cheap mascara. Physically, an easy twitch of the finger is all it will take.

BOOM!…

A thunder bolt sent from a God I don’t believe in bellows its authority and shakes my reality.

From nowhere a strong, boney, weathered hand grabs hold of my pistol.

Fear. A throat squeezing, chest crushing, bowel loosening fear. That is what I feel. Releasing my grip on my only weapon, I scuttle away like a startled crab as quickly as my limbs can scuttle. Snatched away at the last second, my decision has been made for me. With gut wrenching relief, I agree with every inch of my being. Crystallized, I want to live. After coming so close, I want to live. Anything is better than nothing.

Would I have done it?

I don’t know.

With the sun’s glare setting behind, standing tall in a cloud of kicked up dust is the owner of the boney, weathered hand. Wearing snake skin boots, tied tight. Black and blood stained denim jeans, a flannelette shirt tucked in with sleeves rolled up. Looking out to the distant, tree populated, dry hills is a man. No, click-click-I want to eat you-mouth clicking. A man. A living, breathing, soul filled man.

In one hand he holds a sturdy old wooden axe handle, good hard wood but no axe head. In the other, my gun.

Grateful but shocked, I follow his gaze. Already the sun has begun to flee behind us in the west. Mean, black clouds hover impatiently above us, and to the hills in the east is a soft orange glow of light. Gentle and warm. A small city? Car headlights?

No

Elliot’s calming voice rushes into my head again. This time quoting a line he use to always say to try and keep us going, “The key to happiness is to be happy with what you’ve got.” I desperately miss Elliot. On some level, he would probably have enjoyed the irony of my current situation.

Off in the hills lightning strikes, beginning hell on earth. An uncontained, out of control bush fire. If I thought it was bad before, then this must be that cruel bitch Fate showing me that things really could always be a lot worse. Thick, dark plumes of smoke curl and play on the wind. The stinging scent of it being brought to us by that other nasty bitch, Mother Nature. With all the variables in place, harsh drought conditions, unkempt, overgrown bush and dry, hot, tornado force winds, it is going to be fierce and quick. Everything is combining to form the recipe for my own personal second apocalypse.

A murder of crows fly overhead in a panic, flying west at top speed, away from the orange glow. Dirt whips up into our faces, stinging eyes and drying lips. The surrounding trees groan and creek with dread, dropping branches and letting leaves run free. It’s an ominous warning that both the stranger and I understand.

Though I have to squint to see, I get my first glimpse of the stranger’s face. He wears the familiar face of the undistinguished man you see in every crowd, trustworthy, unremarkable but oddly forgetable. His eyes intrigue me. In them, I see nothing. Not fear, not hunger, not love or hate. I see the Nothing Man. An outstretched hand offers me back my gun. Still shaking with emotion, I accept it and nod my thanks.

There is no formal greeting, no friendly catch up or even cautious sizing up. We know what needs to be done. No time to discuss it. We need to get the fuck out of dodge. Fuelled by adrenaline, I sprint to the barn without looking to see if the stranger is following. The breeze has picked up and the lightning and thunder must be nearly on top of us. Smashed by the winds, the barn doors slam forcefully closed and reopen only to test the rusted hinges and slam shut again. Because of the constant dry heat, half of the fuel has vaporized, and I spend what seems like an eternity using the hand pump to refuel one of the quad bikes. Girls don’t grow up out here without knowing how to handle a farm bike.

Deciding that some fuel is better than none, I give up with the hand pump, jump on and kick the guts out of the bike until it starts. To my left, the stranger is trying patiently, but in vain, to start the only other quad. With vacant eyes he looks over to me. I scoot forward on the seat, and he puts those snakeskin boots on either side of me. I can’t help but think how much Elliot would have liked those kicks. Off to one side, he holds his sturdy axe handle.

Looking around quickly, I don’t know what I feel as I realize I will never see this barn, my safe home for the past few months, ever again. Forced by nature and chased by fire, I have to venture out into the world again. Tears of sorrow, relief, fear or regret? Who cares? I rev the shit out of the bike and in a blaze of glory, scream out of the barn leaving a trail of dust in my wake.

The fire is already visible. Flames dance above trees and thick black smoke chokes the skyline, blocking the sun. It’s only early evening, but I have to flick the headlights on to see. Like little demons playing hopscotch, the flames hop and skip from here to there, with us ultimately in their path. In no time at all we skid to a halt at the western gates of the property. The Nothing Man is off the bike and at the gate, but he struggles, fumbling with the lock. He doesn’t seem to care if we live or die. I look back over my shoulder and wish that I hadn’t. A wall of fire reaching up to the heavens is rushing down from the hills. Flames first lick, then swallow, turning everything in their path to black. The devil has sent its angry pet here to devour everything. It makes its presence known with a bellicose, deafening roar. The heat is so intense, I can’t tell if I’m sweating or melting.

Rooted to the ground, the trees have no escape. They crack and shriek and pop. The wind howls, thunder still booms. The fire roars and here in front of us, a small herd of four or five Clickers …Click…

Impending doom in the form of a raging inferno threatens our existence, but still they hunger.

Anger boils in my stomach. I get off the bike and easily knock the useless stranger out of the way. Death threatens from every possible angle. Sweat drips in my eyes. My hands shake with petrified excitement, and the metal locks are extremely hot to the touch. The pressure of the situation asks me to rise, and so I do. Forcing my mind to calm, I manage to quickly undo the lock on the gate and push it open, knocking down two Clickers. Back on the bike, we take off again. I throw a leg out to knock a third Clicker down and maneuver to dodge the scrambling others.

Scorching flames now racing alongside us, pushed on by the winds faster than the top speed of my old quad bike. I risk a quick glance off the beaten path to look behind us. Framed by a horizon of bright red flames, an undead creature arcs it back, drops open its jaw, lolls its cracked tongue out, and shambles down the rocky path after us. Moments later a bigger, more cruel, less forgiving beast attacks it. Like a small shark getting swallowed by a bigger shark, the fire consumes the Clicker. Skin melts off its hands but still it claws its boney fingers at us. What meat is left on it sizzles and blackens until it cannot walk and tumbles down the path. Still a flaming mess, it opens its mouth, begging us to let it feed until, pop! Its head explodes.

More of them come out of the bush, some on fire, some not. My passenger makes little work of them, swatting them away with his flaming axe handle. Trees tumble around us, squashing the rest. Flames toy with us, betting we can’t out run them, keeping close on our tails. Grey, mud like smoke attacks my eyes and burns my throat down to my lungs. My chest heaves in and out, struggling to find oxygen. The heat on my back is so intense, I struggle with the pain and fight to keep conscious.

I lose.

Everything goes quiet.

Everything goes black.

Everything turns to nothing.

A flicker of an image remains, those eyes, the eyes of the Nothing Man. They are close, we are face to face, and he is laying me to rest.

Little, gentle, wet kisses all over my body stir me to life. The soft, pitter-patter sound of water landing in water. A sound so kind and welcoming greets me. My eyes sting, but I force them open to see rain, a mercy gift from the skies. I lie afloat in a tin dinghy in the middle of the farms dam. Dead fish bob up and down all about me. The jetty is destroyed and turned to cinder. Charred earth and smoldering fires hiss in protest as the rain hits them. The sun is well and truly asleep, not daring to bear witness to the atrocities down here. I can’t tell how long I’ve been unconscious, but thankfully the fire has passed. I see half of the quad bike sticking out of the water by the bank, and I see more rain clouds coming in. By the light of glowing embers, I see the horizon is clear for miles, everything flattened, dead and black. Not even the roaming Clickers survived.

I see all this, but I don’t see the Nothing Man. As mysteriously and quickly as he came, he has vanished. Whether he was a wandering stranger or an angel from up above, he came when I need him most. I am thankful for his existence. Unfortunately, I don’t think he survived since he was sitting behind me and my back is blistered, bubbling, and pretty badly burned. I owe my life to him.

I cannot move because of the pain. It hurts to breathe, and smoke has damaged my vision. Involuntarily and against the best wishes of my body, I smile. I laugh until I cough and gag, and then I laugh some more. The heavens truly open up in response and pour down heavy with cool water.

I have nothing, not even clothes on my burned back.

Nothing but my life…but I am happy with that.

image3image2

*   *   *   *   *

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: Larry Weiner #WinterofZombie

PR THUMBNAIL CREATESPACE copy 2

“Let the tide and sand take care of the blood. How many more vintage Turkish rugs can we afford?” The higher ups liked the idea. The weather in the Caribbean this time of year was ideal. There was an island’s worth of secluded beach on which to ask questions about ones’ education and work history. Then, if the candidate was a go, take the necessary action and welcome him to the club. Otherwise, hey, free meal with a view.

Tad Wingo was told he’d be meeting with the head of marketing on the beach. A nice stroll, maybe something to drink as they walked with pant legs rolled up, their bare feet sinking into the wet sand, the sun making its way toward setting. Tad was psyched. That showed class. Not some faceless conference room with bad art and someone’s coffee cup from the last meeting sitting on a faux woodgrain table. A walk on the beach to talk about his future with an exciting new resort opening in the West Indies. Things were about to get good, bub. Bring the “A” game and show these laid back island-types how shit gets done LA style.

Tad took care to put together an outfit that was relaxed, because he got the island vibe of things, but still business enough to be ready when the brainstorming came and maybe he’d need to slap together a PowerPoint deck. Tan Abercrombie khakis, a light blue Banana Republic oxford. No t-shirt. Nobody layered up in the tropics. He’d break out the Cole Haan loafers that set him back three hundred, but fuck it, if they get wet he was pretty sure the resort was gonna offer him a number that bought a lot of loafers. Bag the socks.

He was meeting with Kent Rossiter, head of marketing for Manje, LLC. Tad conducted due diligence, but came up with very little except that the resort, as yet to be named, would be a five star luxury hotel with all the shiny things that came with catering to the seldomly-impressed rich. Things had moved quickly. He learned about the gig from a co-worker who had a cousin who’d landed a beverage service job with the resort and heard they were staffing up majorly. Tad had climbed his last rung with The Marriott corporation, a company he’d always considered faceless and bland, yet it was a namebrand that had some cache. Better than The Red Roof Inn. Just as well. His superiors thought the same of Tad in regards to blandness.

Four-thirty came and Tad took one last look in the lavishly appointed hotel suite bathroom mirror. “That’s very kind of you. No, really. Well, I make a habit of staying near smart people and hope some of it rubs off.” He adjusted his collar. “I’ll tell you how I see things, Kent. I’ve been in this biz a long time now (5 years) and I can tell you that I’ve learned two things. One: Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake (Napolean Bonaparte) and two: you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take (Wayne Gretzsky).  That’s how I live my life. It’s how I work. It’s how I play.” Tad fussed with a sleeve button. “You got this, bro” he said to his reflection.

Kent was waiting for Tad in the lobby, which immediately set Tad on edge. Wasn’t he ten minutes early? Shit. Kent was dress in a suit, sans a tie. Fuck. Was Tad too informal? You got this, bro.

“Tad Wingo,” Kent said. He extended his hand and smiled.

Two things struck Tad immediately. Kent’s hand was ice cold and the teeth he was showing with that million dollar grin could be seen from space.

“Mr. Rossiter. It’s a pleasure.”

“Call me Kent.”

“Will do, Kent.”

“Ready to see the kind of beach oil magnates relax on?”

“Lead on, sir.”

Tad clenched his teeth. “Lead on, sir?” What the fuck? Not like this was meeting your girlfriend’s dad for the first time. A woman dressed in some kind of ceremonial garb that Tad guessed incorrectly was Jamaican (he kept the guess to himself, thank you, Jesus) held a silver serving tray on which rested two flutes of champagne. The light that filled the lobby of the hotel made the glasses sparkle. The woman smiled and for the second time in less than two minutes, Tad had bore witness to some amazing orthodonture.

“Thanks Carmella,’ Kent said, taking both glasses and handing one to Tad. “Let’s take a stroll.”

It was as Tad imagined.

Pant legs rolled up, shirts one button lower than respectable, the loafers were ditched as soon as they hit the sand, Kent having made a crack about being a SoCal kid so the feel of sand on bare feet was always a welcome sensation. The two men strolled and gazed out at the ocean while they chatted. Kent was very personable and had a modest quality that gave Tad a boost of ego, thinking already that he’d have Kent’s job in eighteen months tops.

School. Work. Family. The hospitality biz. Music. Movies.

Kent stopped and faced the ocean, Tad taking up the space beside Kent. “I love it here,” Kent said. “I’ve always preferred this climate to the others I’ve been in and that’s saying something for a guy who’s been in this business for nearly one hundred and eighty years.

How was that? Tad obviously misheard, but chose to ignore it. Kent nodded to the sunset. “Yep. Over sixty-five thousand sunsets. Tell me, Tad. How do I look?”

Tad smiled, his eyes darting. Okay. He’d go along with it.

“You look great,” he blurted out. “I mean, your skin is flawless. Talk about a perfect tan. And I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but you have the most amazingly white teeth I have ever seen.”

“They are white, aren’t they,” Kent said. “We have the best people on staff. Can’t take credit for the tan. It’s a combination of fake bake, creams and powders. There’s also puttys, gels, foams, urethanes, composites – a mortician’s wet dream, really. What they can do to preserve skin, tendons and muscle – let’s go ahead and call it an art form.”

Probably the champagne. Tad felt confused. He’d nailed this interview. Keep it together. You got this, bro.

“So whaddya think, Tad? Two-fifty to start. Your own office with an ocean view. Immortality?”

“Ho-kay,” Tad said. “I’m not usually a lightweight, but I’m having a little trouble tracking you.”

“I’m offering you the job, Tad,” Kent said. “And I only offer it once.”

Whatever Tad thought he heard, the one thing that stuck with him was, “Two-fifty to start.” “I’m all in,” Tad said.

“Then a toast,” Kent said raising his glass. Tad followed suit. “To a seriously long relationship.”

“Here here.”

They clicked glasses and drank. Then Kent tossed his glass into the surf. Tad laughed, shrugged and did the same. “Did you like the champagne, Tad?”

“I did. Dom?”

“Ha. No. It’s Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 1998. Two grand a bottle. We mix it with formaldehyde before the kill. Slows down the blood flow.”

“The blo–“

Before Tad could finish saying “blood flow,” Kent had grabbed Tad by the shoulders and sank his teeth deeply into Tad’s neck, shook his head like a shark biting a seal, and ripped a chunk of flesh from Tad’s neck. Going into shock immediately, Tad fell to his knees, his hands fumbling for a way to stop the flow of blood that ran down his shoulder and chest. His fingers got tangled in the arteries and tendons. Bubbles of blood managed to rise and fall out of Tad’s mouth. Kent stood, looking down at Tad, chewing slowly, savoring the chunk of humanity that never ceased to be an explosion of flavor in his mouth. Tad fell sideways, landing face up on the sand, hands still trying to stench the blood flow, but doing so with much less gusto. His larynx had been severed so there was no way to scream, let alone say something like, ‘OH MY GOD!”

“Ish won’t be long, now,” Kent said. He was still working away at the chunk of meat with his alloy fused porcelain teeth. Tad’s hands slid away from the gaping bite, bits of flesh flickering in the breeze. His lids slowly closed. Kent swallowed the last of his meat and with hands in his pockets, looked out at sun that was just about to touch the horizon line. It really was the best of climes. A slight moan. Kent sniffed, his tongue licked a corner of his blood-smeared mouth for one last speck of flavor. Another moan, this time louder. Kent looked down at Tad, whose eyes were wide open.

“Kind of a kick to the nuts, I know. I remember.”

Moan.

“It’s gonna take a few days to clean you up and do some repair work to your neck. And then you’re in for the shock of your life when you meet Sadie from HR. She’s gonna hit you with a stack of forms to fill out that would make you wish I’d finished the job.”

Kent leaned down towards Tad, hands still in pockets.

“Welcome aboard, Tad. Life’s better in the Caribbean.”

10528174_10203249605614504_2023473464_n copy

*   *   *   *   *

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!