As anyone who is familiar with my Free Write blog, I’m a huge Zombie fan. Unfortunately, I’m a fast reader and found myself at a loss for a good zombie novel / series: one that made me care about the characters, but also one that gave me “thrills and chills” with the zombies; one that was “realistic” about lack of food, running out of ammunition (I don’t know much about guns, but I know they run out of bullets!), and maybe, just maybe, a book / series that delves into Where the zombies came from! I’ve seen some of my ideas used (a mutation of rabies was one), but I figured I’d just have to work on my Zombie Bits (working title).
And then I found Doug Ward.
It starts with Parasite; The True Story of the Zombie Apocalypse . Followed by: Symbiote, Creator, and Predator. I tore through these books as if my life depended on it, becoming attached to the characters, watching as they changed due to their situation and the loss of those close to them. These books were as real as any Zombie Apocalypse books could be. Characters were realistic, and didn’t immediately go from out of shape nerd to Rambo in a day. We watch how they each learn how they fit in with their group, utilizing their strengths and making up for others weaknesses. Mistakes are made, lessons learned. While you can read just one, I highly recommend getting them all (preferably from Amazon or somewhere Mr. Ward can get some financial benefit!)
Anyway, here are some of my attempts. One is from a male p.o.v., which I have problems with; another from a Y.A. (Young Adult) perspective (they make money); and two I was going to use for the novel I refer to below — but now I plan to rewrite them both. Editing, the bane of a writer’s existence!
Excerpt from: Pen and Paper and Zombies: Journal Wed 10 Feb 2016
I’m not sure why I am so fascinated by the whole zombie genre. My son and I live in a six-story building with a pharmacy downstairs. I’ve told my son that if the zombie apocalypse does happen, we will wipe out the pharmacy and use the pills as currency. What I don’t think my son wants to admit is that I will not survive very long in a zombie infested world: my disabilities and dependence on medication would slow me down. I plan on finding someone trustworthy to take care of my son, handing over the meds, and taking a bullet to the brain.
Unfortunately, my son has said that if I get bitten, he will have me bite him so we can “be together”. I do not approve if this, although if he gets bitten I would have him bite me, though not before tying us together at the waist so we will “be together”.
I’m also slowly working on zombie short stories, held together by the thread of a main character who is in her first trimester of pregnancy when all hell breaks loose. She is saved by a nurse who takes her to a compound the nurse’s father has set up. (This is where se meet the other characters and hear their stories.) The problem is that the nurse is hiding a secret — her father, who spends his time in his lab working on a cure, is one of the scientists who created the virus in the first place. *dum dum duuuum*
I’ve posted a couple of these Zombie Bits, like Zippo and Apocalyptic B.S..
So the Apocalypse has happened.
People who died don’t (or won’t) stay dead.
They bite and eat the living.
Those that had enough of a body left became one of Them: Zombies, Undead, Shufflers, etc.
Whatever you want to call them.
Only when it “started” I, well, I happened to be cutting school, sitting in on of my mom’s latest husbands huge boats– oh, excuse me, her latest husband would be my step-father. He has a thing about my calling him “daddy”. As in, I have to or else we take one of the boats with a bedroom. Alone.
So when I saw him shuffle (They really do shuffle. It should be a new dance craze.) towards me, towards his boat, and his head was at an awkward angle, his tongue–black, swollen, hanging out– coming down the extra-long pier, I thought, No. This time, no.
And I started cutting at the ropes holding the boat to the dock, wishing I’d paid more attention to perv-faces’ “Rope 101” lessons.
Jeez, how many ropes need to hold the goddamn boat to the pier? I wondered.
I knew I was in trouble for cutting school and being on his “precious” (Yes, he’d say it like Gollum til the next new toy became his “precious”.) But I’d been helping myself to the “wine cellar” (a.k.a., 12–make that 11– bottles of awesomely expensive wine kept at a certain temperature at a certain angle…) since about 10am and was more concerned with the coming hangover than anything.
Mind you, I still didn’t know about Them. He always liked scaring me. And grossing me out. And getting his friends in on it. Hence, the other guys who looked like they were bloody and gross.
“You look like extras from The Walking Dead,” the wine made me yell at them. No, not the wine. I always believed that if you drink or do other drugs that if you don’t take responsibility for what you do while on them, you shouldn’t do them. So I guess it was the stupid make-up and the ropes not getting loose fast enough and the knowledge of what was going to happen in exchange for me cutting. The fear somehow gave me a sense of what-else-can-go-wrong?
One or two turned towards my voice, but since the group was already looking at me like a juicy steak
As he got closer, I saw that “daddy” had recieved the best make-up job. It actually looks like his neck has been chomped and there seemed to be mising bits on his arms.
Just as Shuffle-Perve gets a leg up on the ladder, the boat pulls out and it looks like he’s trying to do a split, but then he falls into the water.
I laugh and point and laugh, which had to be the wine (sorry!) since he was a great swimmer and would probably be climbing on the boat yelling for a towel any minute. But he just sank like a rock, followed by two more who didn’t so much fall as shuffle right off the pier, never taking their eyes off of me.
They sank, too.
I went to the other side of the boat to steer the thing and tried, really tried, not to scratch his boat as I pulled out of the small boat area (marina?) and into the river. I figured I couldn’t get in to any more trouble and, like I said, wine does strange things. In vino veritas or something.
Then I did something stupid. I curled up on a chair and passed out.
It wasn’t until much later, the next day, actually, when I turned on the tv to see my favorite show that I found out what was going on and that I realize he wasn’t just being an arse. I think. I’m sure in his undead state he was still an arse. No zombie virus could change that.
The dead had come back to life.
I’m sure that thought would’ve scared me more, alone, on a yacht my, um, step-dad owned, floating down Ol’ Miss (the Mississippi to you Yankees).
But it was the quiet that scared me. I put on some music and I searched above the deck, and below. If they were serious, I needed to check for food and water. I also helped myself to another bottle of wine.
As I was passing the linen closet (who has a freaking “linen closet” on a boat?), I heard a noise.
Just my effing luck, I think. A zombie.
I’d never been the athletic type.
I did try out for the cheerleaders, figuring my gymnastics background would help. I didn’t make it as they were more focused on slutty dance routines. Not that I’m biased.
We don’t talk about it in my family.
My family! Crap. I realized my mom was probably worried by now. Especially with what happened to her husband. I pulled out my phone and found I’d missed about ten texts– from my ex. I can’t say I was too upset to find there was no service. But how would I get in touch with my mom and little sister? Technically, she was my half sister, but I adored her anyway. I tucked that problem awsy for later.
The linen closet doors bang against me, and I hear muffled gibberish from within. Oh, yeah, zombie aboard. Maybe it was my wine diet for the last day and a half, but I didn’t freak like I thought I would.
I backed away slowly, and pick up an ugly statue. The doors burst open, and I slam the statue down on his head so hard it breaks, and suddenly there’s all of this blood all over the place.
It’s bright red.
The dead thing puts his hands to his head.
“Ow. Damn. I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be here when I’m not working but I was supposed to meet this hot chick and she didn’t show but you did and I didn’t want to lose my job and why’d you hit me so hard? Oh, G-d, I’m bleeding!” He’s going on and on until I finally interrupted him.
“So, you’re not one of Them?”
“One of what?” He asks, looking up at me with blue eyes so light, they melt my knees. I remember him; the head of something to do with keeping the boat together.
“Brian?” I asked, holding what’s left of the ugly statue in my hands, which are raised above my head. “Why didn’t you come out sooner?”
“When Khloe didn’t show, but you did, I hid down here. But the stupid closet locks on the outside, so I was stuck.” He moves a hand from his head. “Oh, G-d, you better go back to the dock. I think I have a concussion. ”
I turned on the radio to give him his answer.
“The TV isn’t working? ” he asked, trying to stand.
“Just listen, will you?” I stand and look for towels in the closet.
I purposely grabbed a white one, knowing it’ll drive my step-dad crazy until I remembered yesterday, and then I’m running for the bathroom to throw up everything I ate in the last month.
When there was nothing but dry heaves, I lean back on my knees and almost scream.
“It’s just me,” Brian said, continuing to pull ugly statue pieces from his scalp, which, as I easily remember, has dark hair.
Great, dark hair, blue eyes, Zombie Apocalypse.
Which brings us up to now. In the bathroom of my zombie-turned hopefully-really-dead step-dad. Drunk and hungover on wine. Sitting next to a toilet filled with my puke, while the cutest guy my dad employs picks ugly statue bits from his scalp.
“I’m sorry, ” I say. ” I thought you were one of Them.”
“It’s not that bad,” he says. ” I’ve had worse.” He smiles at me. “You know, this whole Zombie thing is probably a hoax. Like whats-his-name.”
“Do you mean ‘War of the Worlds’?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he’s holding a towel to his head. The other towel went in the hamper.
“You obviously didn’t see my, um, your boss yesterday, ” I say quietly.
Brian flushes the toilet, and wets a hand towel, which he offers to me. He sits cross-legged in front of me as I wipe my face. I don’t want him looking at me now, gripping the toilet, puke breath…
“Yeah, he tried getting on the boat but I got it away from him.”
There’s a long pause, where all I hear is the radio, “if you can get to a city center, please do so for your own protection…”
Brian snorts, or maybe it’s a laugh.
“Yes, folks,” he says like a radio announcer. “If you know nothing about the undead, go to a place where it will spread the fastest.”
“So, you know about these things? ” I asked.
“Only from books, tv, movies, ” he said.
“Ok,” I said. “What now? ”
“We check our food and liqyid supply. Figure out how long it’ll last us. ”
He followed me up the stairs so we could check out what was in the kitchen.
[End of intro. Comments appreciated. ]
I have a virtual notebook that I use for ideas, bits of writing that aren’t fully fleshed out stories. I realize that the zombie thing is over-played, but there’s something about a zombie apocalypse that makes me want to write about it (not live it).
He kept playing with a zippo lighter. Flipping it over, under, around his fingers. It was mesmerizing, hypnotic. Flicking it open but stopping at the last second; he never lit it.
“Does it still work?” Serena asked.
He paused. Got that look we all get at times when we remember a close call with the undead.
“Don’t know. Don’t think so,” he paused and she thought that would be all he said. He leaned over and showed it to her. It was plain silver, but had the initials, “M.C.” with a heart. “It was my wife’s. It was the first gift I got her, back when we started dating, as teenagers.” He barked out a sound that could’ve been a laugh. “She took such good care of this thing. Said every time she used it, she’d think of me. We were married as soon as we were legal. Would’ve been twenty years if… If this hadn’t happened.”
Serena didn’t say a word. She knew what was coming.
“They got her, early, two of those fucks got into our house and they, well, I woke up and they were on her. Didn’t even notice me in the same bed. And I… I knew what had to be done, but even though I bashed those two fucks’ heads in, I couldn’t do that to her.” He shuddered a sigh, but he was on a tangent. It was as if he’d forgotten Serena was there; had forgotten the other survivors in the bunker. It was like a poison that he had to get out. “She was unconscious, or dead, I don’t know. I tied her to our bed. I poured gasoline I’d siphoned from one of our cars around the bed. I couldn’t, oh, god, I couldn’t pour it on her. I picked up the lighter — this lighter,” he held it up, “And I bent over to give my Marcy, MY Marcy, my love, one last kiss. I must’ve had my eyes closed because I heard this growl and jumped back just as she lunged for me but the ropes held her back. I lit the lighter and touched it to the rug… She was struggling by then, thrashing, her eyes had that film and she was growling and I watched the flames get closer to the bed…”
“That’s when we showed up,” Jim came over and put an arm around the guy. “Me and Mikey see the door open and smell the flames. We run upstairs and find this guy about to jump into the flames.”
“What reason do I have to live without her?” He mumbled, and resumed doing his Zippo tricks. “None.”
[Taken from my old writer’s group blog, originally published 23 February 2015]
Zombies in New York, Chapter 1a:
I threw my alarm clock against the wall when it went off at 6:30a.m.
This wasn’t new- I bought a new alarm clock from the dollar store weekly due to my habit of breaking them. (One day, I was going to point out that it was a dollar store, yet my alarm clocks cost $5.99, a.k.a., $6. But not today.)
I stretched in my queen-sized bed and forced myself to wake up by muttering, “Wake up, wake up,” under my breath. Yes, I talk to myself. A lot. I spread my legs, closed them, rolled from the edge of the bed to the side by the wall, and back. I slept in a queen sized bed alone. Sad, i know. It’s not that I hadn’t gotten over my ex, David. He had stayed with me half the week while keeping his apartment on the upper east side, “just in case”.
Well, “just in case” turned out to be when I sat him down on the futon couch in the living room to tell him I was pregnant.
“Who is the father?” he asked.
I wanted to scream, “You, you dumbass!”
Instead I told him I had to pee and, with my jeans and underwear around my ankles, I heard the front door quietly open and close.
David was gone when I emerged from the bathroom, as I knew he would be. A week went by. Then two. I had a sonogram appointment, so I tried calling him. His number had been changed to an unlisted number. His secretary at work said he wasn’t in, but she’d gladly take a message. I don’t know why I wanted him there, but I left the information anyway: Beth Israel, the one on Union Square, sonogram, October 8, 9:45am.
That was 3 days ago, and the appointment was today. I slowly got up, and placed my hand on my belly. The doctor said it was too soon to feel a bump, and I felt it was too soon to feel through the extra weight I carried around my middle, but I felt nothing. “Well, kid, today we find out if you’re a boy or a girl.”
A siren drowned out the end of my sentence, and it wasn’t the first I’d heard this morning. As I turned on the hot water in my shower, I was shocked to hear what sounded like gun shots. I ran to my bedroom window to witness two police officers on one side of their patrol car shooting at a woman on the other side of the car. She was in what i called a “haus frau” dress. The police had shot her in the knees, two shots, and she was still moving towards them, pulling herself with her arms. The dress was soaked in blood and the officers were telling her to stop and lie on the ground. I shoved open my window and yelled, “Spanish! She speaks Spanish! That’s Mrs. Garcia!”
As one of the officers looked up at my 2nd floor window, Mrs, Garcia gained a burst of energy and, going under the squad car, bit the officer looking up at me in the ankle.
“Awwww! What the–” , he yelled, stepping back, into traffic, and shooting her in the head. Her body twitched, and lay still, but the officer who had been bit fell backwards into the traffic on 14th Street. A car filled with five people and a lot of suitcases screeched to a stop, but ran over the leg Mrs. Garcia had bitten. I was horrified. His partner ran to his side, and checked his pulse.
“You bitch-” he screamed, not noticing as his partner sat up and bit into his neck.
The officer Mrs. Garcia had bit in the leg, who had then had his leg run over, was gnawing and chewing through his partner’s neck as if he hadn’t eaten in days.
I stepped back, away from the window, and repeated, “This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening, that did not happen.” I reached forward, closed and locked the window, and closed the blinds, all without looking out the window. Backing away slowly, still muttering my mantra, I took my shower.
An hour later, I was walking through Stuyvesant Town, trying to forget what I witnessed this morning. But it was like a movie that wouldn’t stop: why had the police shot Mrs. Garcia, anyway? And how much adrenaline must have been in her system to pull herself like that?
One of the great things about Stuy Town is each building had two entrances/exits. My window, and one exit, faced 14th Street, where I had planned to catch the M14 bus up to Union Square, but after the scene this morning (did that officer really bite his partner’s neck?), I decided to leave the other way, which led into Stuyvesant Town. If you knew your way around, you could exit multiple different ways. I was heading for 16th Street and 1st Avenue exit.
As I walked past one of the playgrounds, I saw a mother literally beating her toddler off of her. There was red liquid everywhere, and it seemed to come from both of them. The mother would smack the child to the ground, then try to run away. The toddler, acting like nothing had happened, let out a growl (a growl? Who knew toddlers growled?), and jumped onto his mother’s back.
I glanced at my watch, and saw I was running late.
Most likely that was Jell-O or fruit punch on the bench, and I needed to stay calm. I kept walking west, seeing a few more odd sights on my way.
Of course, the “End If The World” people were out in full force. A block from my appointment, I suggested to one that they should simply write, “Told You So.” He moved his sign from in front of his face, revealing completely white eyes, and black stuff dripping from his mouth.
He growled as a man in a suit came over and smacked him on the head, although the blow didn’t seem to phase him.
“Don’t get too close, pretty girl, one bite and you’ll be like them.” He used the stick again to move the creature back, and I heard the clinking of metal chains. The man in the suit noticed me looking at the chains and said, “We’ve got to keep them chained, or who knows what could happen?” He added a tight smile that didn’t reach his beady blue eyes.
“Uh, yeah, pretty scary. Good makeup and special effects, but i have an appointment,” I began to cross the street to get away from him, from them.
“This is Gods punishment for the non-believers. If you believe, if your faith is true, you’ve got nothing to fear,” the man in the suit yelled. “Just don’t get bit.”
As if the four chained up creatures understood him, there was a sudden pull at the chains. There was a horrible sound of metal bending. One of the chained man lost his hand, while another pulled so hard that the chain around his waist dug into him, spilling his guts on the sidewalk. All four men surrounded the man in the suit and all I could hear was the slurping and chomping.
My instincts screamed to run, but the baby had other ideas. I grabbed a pole and heaved and wretched the saltines and juice I’d had for breakfast. Morning sickness.
And then I ran.
I ran up the block, around the corner, and into Beth Israel. I used the stairs to get to the second floor. As I walked in i heard, “You’re late.”
I turned and, sure enough, it was David. I signed in and sat next to him. That was when I noticed his left hand.
“What happened to your hand” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Your directions weren’t very good, so I wound up in the ER. it’s a fucking mad house down there! As I was leaving, this guy tries to tackle me, and he nearly bites my hand off!”
David adjusts the dirty looking paper towels to show me. There are black lines going from the bite across his hand leading up his arm.
“You’ve no idea how much this hurts. I feel like I’m burning up.”
I wanted to comfort him, even if I didn’t love him, and after what he’d done…
Then I heard, “Jill? Jillian Mahoney?”
“That’s me,” I said, as if reminding David who I was. Six months wasted. “Will you be ok here?”
He looked up at me, sweat covering his face, soaking his shirt. A day ago he wouldn’t have let himself be seen like this: slack-jawed, bloody (i think; it was almost black) napkin on the floor, sweat stains. “Yeah, yea, uh-huh, Jullll I be finnneee–” and then he began throwing up on himself, on the floor, black gook that I’d never seen before.
The nurse came up to me. “Jill, let’s have your boyfriend moved to the ER. We’ve been seeing this all day. And let’s get your into the room. A virus isn’t good for a ten-week old baby!” She was so cheery, I followed her and forgot about David. How he’d actually shown up.
A few minutes later, after lowering my pants, lifting my shirt, and dealing with the cold KY jelly used to see the fetus, the machine was moved slowly across my stomach, trying to get a good picture
“You’re having a boy, Ms. Mahoney, a healthy, and big, baby boy. Now, i just want to take a few more measurements, due to his size, nothing to worry about.”
“So, have you noticed anything, um, weird going on?” I asked.
“Pregnancy wreaks havoc with.our hormones, Jill- may I call you Jill?- it’s nothing to worry about.” Her smile could have lit up all of NYC.
“I’ve been, um, i think I’ve been, well, hallucinating,” I stammered. “I think I’ve seen people bite other people, and, well, eat other people.”
Sunny, as I’d named her in my head paused for a split second. Then she turned to me, bright as ever, “Oh, you’re thinking of that virus going around.” Big smile. “Go home, get some rest — and stock up on food! — and it’ll be over soon.” She spun around on her stool to face me and hand me paper towels to wipe off my belly. “Nothing to worry about. Here.” She scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to me.
“Just in case,” she whispered, before chirping loudly, “Any names yet?”
The paper said: “Cameras. Smile!” There were cameras watching us. But why?
I made up some boys names, then said I should check on David. Sunny smiled and said she’d be glad to take me, but her grip on my arm indicated differently. “Since you’re feeling so well, we’ll take the stairs, ” she said in her cheery, sunny tone.
We walked down one flight before Sunny pushed me up against the wall. “Can I trust you?” She hissed, so different from her upstairs demeanor.
“Y-Yes,” I sputtered. “Why?”
“You’re not hallucinating. It’s real. All of it. Don’t know why or how, but we’ve got to leave. There are cameras everywhere. Play along, and do what I say.”
“David?” I have to know. My sons dad.
“Dead. Or one of Them,” she
said, pulling me down to the 1st floor.
[To be continued…]
Zombies in New York, Chapter 1b:
The stairwell on the first floor had two doors: one leading directly to the ER, the other to the employee parking lot. [To be continued…]
“My name is Elizabeth, by the way,” the woman I’d named Sunny said. “But call me Liz.” She paused and looked up to make sure we were in a spot the cameras couldn’t see.
“So, who are ‘they’?”
She looked blank for a moment, so I added, “You said David was dead or one of them.”
She looked a bit relieved, which was odd, and said, “The monsters, the creatures, you know, ‘them’.” She did a quick glance around. “Look, we don’t have much time, and there’s a lot of echo here, so we need to talk quickly. You already know not to get bitten. But this is going to spread quickly, so I need to know: do you want to live thru this? Not just survive, but live.” She emphasized the last word.
“Of course I do!” I exclaimed.
“We don’t have time to explain this now, Jill,” she said fiercely. “I’m about to open that door-” she pointed towards the parking lot. “And if one of them is there I’m going to shoot him between the eyes. It’s the only way to really kill them. Then I’m going to get my dad, and hole up with some of our friends. I’m offering you a chance to live, but it’s not going to be easy or pretty for a while.” As she spoke, I absent-mindedly rubbed my belly.
“Why me, Liz? Why not a coworker or a boyfriend?”
“Everyone I care about has been given directions to where we’re going. But when I saw you, and I saw how you treated that ass who got bit-”
“David,” I interrupted. “My son’s dad.”
“I figured as much,” Liz said, tucking a stray piece of blond hair behind her ear. “I read your chart: no family left, a co-worker as an emergency contact,”
“Hey,” I poked a finger into her chest. “How do you know she’s not a friend I work with?”
Liz moved my hand effortlessly. “Do you think this is a joke? You’ve seen what they do. They don’t tire or feel pain. If you think he’s so good for you-” But Liz never finished her sentence as the door to the ER started rattling, as if dozens of people were pushing on the door to get out. She grabbed my left wrist and pulled.me away – hard.
The stairwell on the first floor had two doors: one leading directly to the ER, the other to the employee parking lot.
[To be continued…]