Fate And How It Gets That Way (A Zombie Short)


That’s right – this still exists. This is a short story related to the plot of The End Was Nigh that I just finished. Still working on that, but if you need a dose of zombie fiction a few times a month as I do, now you can have it.

Cole had woken that morning to the daily struggles of the common man. He never did that again.

The universe had revealed itself to him at a young age, amid the violence of a breaking home. It was whispered in his ears by the tail end of screams, subversively occupying the darker corners of his mind well into his adulthood – an intangible virus of perspective.

Resting in his chest, burrowing deeper as the years passed by. Communicated silently but clearly through the stern drunken gaze of his father and the creased pages of dated science textbooks, Cole had internalized a crippling truth. One day, when his presence lad long since been forgotten, when his footprints and those of his sons had been shed by the earth, the great cosmic drama would find its way to his little planet’s front door and swallow it whole. All the organic matter that gave rise to consciousness would be gone. All the broken glasses, splintered cabinet doors and passionate tempers, not lost or forgotten like the days of infancy, but destroyed, disappearing along with the context from which they rose.

And what would the point be then? It haunted Cole for the better portion of his young adulthood.

That virus.

“What?”

Cole had said it aloud, startling his companion as well as himself. They studied each other for a moment, trying to ignore the moaning of their captors just beyond the bars of the cell.

It was small crimes or poor choices that led Cole and his cellmate to this microscopic corner of the universe called Ashwick Valley. A town with nothing, situated among nothing, the police station’s holding quarters resembled those of classic television shows, with old, worn steel bars and ancient locks.

With his cellmate now eyeing their captors intently, Cole studied the man’s appearance. He was dressed well, had it not been for the struggle. Sporting a sweat-stained collared shirt crowning torn khakis and a missing right shoe, he looked nothing more than an ordinary man in a less ordinary place.

“So, did you hold up a Finish Line?” Cole spoke slowly and intently with a tone far too heavy for the content of his words.

“Payless,” the man answered, chuckling to himself before returning to his fingernails once more. As the man continued to dig and pluck at them, his hands still bound by cuffs, Cole let his weight slide down the length of the wall and crouched on his heels.

“What’s your name?”

“Lenny.”

“Well Lenny, I’m Cole. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“No it’s not.”

Lenny laughs and, after a short moment, Cole can’t help but do the same.

Laughter was such a beautiful thing, Cole thought. Where did it come from? Why does it happen? Laughter had been a scarcity for most of his childhood, something that he would learn to do later in life, long after he’d fully divorced himself from his origins. What was that mysterious force that gripped him and shook him down to the core, filling his lungs with pure, unabated joy?

Where does it go when it stops?

Cole stood up, wiping his hands on his jeans impulsively before noticing Lenny’s gaze fixed intently upon him. Slowly tracing its trajectory with his own, Cole knew what it would reveal.

Crimson smears like a blood-red hand reaching out from his pant leg. It didn’t matter where laughter went now. It was gone, just like the officer whose blood had become nothing more than the evidence of an encounter. Cole tried to steady his breath, to let the his hearts palpitation subside, but the stain looked like a monster now, and the faint pink tint of his palms nearly induced sickness.

He certainly couldn’t ignore the fact anymore, not with the blood attesting to his fate from just below his torso. He was going to die here, no matter how long he paced and mulled over plans for escape or rescue. He had survived his childhood, lonely walks on empty highways, and numerous bar fights in small towns like Ashwick, but chance and circumstance had metastasized into fate and destiny. There was no way out.

Misfortune certainly knew how to catch the eye.

Lenny stood up and pulled at his handcuffs as though to remind them that they had fulfilled their purpose, that there was no more use in the restraint of his limbs. Predictably, the cold steel ignored his plea, just as the cold steel bars of the cell ignored the mass of reanimated dead flesh outside, moaning and vying for entry.

They had been seated at separate desks when it happened. The deputy completing Cole’s paperwork had unlocked Cole’s left handcuff. Don’t make me regret this, he had said, but despite Cole’s aptitude for disappointment, he made no attempt to flee the scene. The 30-foot run to the door would have him passing several officers before landing him outside and fully exposed.

It had been noon. Cole knew this from the sounding of the old grandfather clock tucked into the corner of the room. It was no more than seconds after the final report from the bell that officer Davis – whose name Cole had gleamed from the terrified screams of his cohorts – crashed through the front door with his hand pressed against a deep wound in his neck. He slid across the floor, writhing in what looked more like insanity than pain. The sounds emanating from his blood-choked throat were something far removed from human screams, and the panic that ensued within the walls of the claustrophobic station created an unnerving harmony.

With most of the officers rushing to Davis’ aid, none were prepared for the storm that poured in behind him.

The universe collapsing inward, Cole thought. How can you survive the destruction of context?

First it was one, then two and three and so on until the sounds of violence were drowned out by the effect upon its victims. The deputy in charge of Cole had stood and reached for his holster, but fumbled with the lock as the beasts barreled toward him from the front door. Within a single moment the officer and his attacker were tumbling over the desk and onto Cole, who pushed himself away from the bloody encounter and toward Lenny, who was dodging an encounter of his own. If it weren’t for the blood and the torn skin, if it weren’t for the human bite wounds and the shrill, inhuman cry of their voices, they would have just been a mob of confused drunks.

As it was, with various officers tangled up in their jaws and eyes turned to a remorseless copper-red, they were death in the flesh and blood.

Deafening gunshots rang out against the mostly bare walls and tile flooring, but only for a short moment before the mysterious, human-like creatures had swallowed them whole. With every officer wrestling with the great unknown, Cole, Lenny and a wife of a deputy had stumbled to the back of the room with clumsy, trembling steps.

With his bearings lost, with all sense of center slipping through the doorway from which the creatures had come, Cole thought of his mother.

“The backdoor. There’s a backdoor,” the woman had said under her breath. It was her frantic escape toward the door that alerted Cole and Lenny to her intentions.

Lenny remained frozen in shock as Cole made pursuit.

Her screams blended well with the terror unfolding in the room.

Just as she had opened the door, another creature burst through, enveloping her body in bloody flesh as a wild animal latching onto its prey. Their duet, a play between coarse throats and mindless wails, caused Cole to fall back on his heels, landing just before a stunned, panicked Lenny. The beast was frenzied, consuming her whole, limb by limb.

In all the panic and commotion, Cole had wondered if she had a name.

The beast looked up, as if aware of his thoughts, and Cole’s stomach sank to his feet. It crawled over her body with the fury of a rabid animal, swinging its arms madly, grabbing at Cole’s legs. Rather than hysterically kicking and rising from the floor, rather than dodging the ghoul and sprinting out the backdoor, Cole simply sat frozen with his hands pressed firmly against the tile floor.

His life didn’t flash before his eyes. There wasn’t much to see anyway. He prepared for the end like a man trapped in a car underwater, taking one final gulp of breath before stumbling through the threshold of mortality.

But it hadn’t ended there.

Lenny pulled him through the gate and into the holding cell with the swift execution of a hero on the silver screen. The door slammed shut, and all but Cole’s attacker had kept to their respective victims. It took time, but eventually the dead made their way to the bars of the cell, reaching through and swatting at the air with uninhibited rage. This had already gone on for hours, long enough for familiar nametags to appear at the front of the bloodthirsty crowd.

They turn, Cole thought. How lovely.

Now here they were, trapped inside a cage with death just beyond the gates. Dehydration and starvation laid in wait, crowding the wings of a dismal stage.  Both standing now, with Cole’s bloodstained pants and Lenny’s missing shoe, they awkwardly smiled at one another.

“I suppose I should thank you for saving my life.”

“Not really.”

“Well, thank you anyway. I think I prefer this option.”

They eyed their captors, dead eyes staring back.

“Do you think they’re in there?”

“If they are, that one is a prick and that other one there is cheating on his wife.”

Lenny pointed them out with two outstretched fingers.

“The dead one?”

“The dead one. There she is now.”

She pushed her way to the front of the crowd, taking her place in the rotation of dead carnivores. She had been pretty before this, on the minds of many on a lonely Saturday night. Many people had been pretty before, Cole reflected. Maybe no one could ever be that again.

“So, what did you do to get in here?” Cole asked Lenny, walking to the opposite end of the cell and sitting down on the cold bench. Lenny sat beside him and rested his elbows upon his legs.

“Just a bar fight. Few scrapes and cuts. You?”

“I stole some food.”

“Where from?”

“Ed’s General Store.”

“Why’d you do that?”

“I was fucking hungry.”

They shared a laugh like soldiers in a bloody foxhole.

The dead continued to rehearse their song, floating through tones like phantoms of the avant-garde.

“You’re a drifter?”

“You could say that.”

“Do you have a home?”

“No.”

“How’d you get here?”

“Hitch-hiked.”

“And you’re alone?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re a fuckin’ drifter.”

“I guess I am.”

How many hours had gone by? The reports from the grandfather clock had ended. The demons before them must have taken the entire town, power plant and all. Cole took a moment to scan the crowd, gazing into the eyes of each and imagining their stories.

A lawyer. A carpenter. A not so desperate housewife. A wholly desperate preschool teacher.

“Well Cole, you a democrat?”

“Independent.”

“Left-leaning?”

“A few degrees left of center.”

“You like the Sox?”

“Only when I’m drunk.”

“Then we’re gonna get on just fine. It’s a pleasure to die here with you.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” Cole quipped.

It really would have been a pleasure. Cole had toiled away all his life, passing from town to town and drifting through various social circles. He’d met interesting people, seen interesting things, but the virus that had infected him in his early childhood never quite subsided. In every face, he saw the end. Every cracked sidewalk looked like a splinter in the fabric of reality. He could never shake the thought that his body would return to its source only to one day be crunched down into nothing by a super massive black hole.

It would be a pleasure for the thought to pass, to finally simply not be. It would be a pleasure to see it pass along with a companion, enjoying a final dose of the laughter that had sustained Cole thus far.

But that pleasure would have to wait.

As Cole curled forward and rested his hands upon his knees, he noticed the blood dripping from Lenny’s pant leg, sliding down his ankle and staining the white sock on his shoeless foot. He looked up to find Lenny staring him in the face.

That moment, singular among all the others that had transpired that afternoon, burned in Cole’s heart. The two men, seated no more than two feet apart, knew exactly what was happening. Both had recognized the name tags of their dead hosts; both had understood what awaits those who have been bitten. Cole recognized the feeling in his stomach, the same feeling that dug into his nerves just before his companion dragged him into the cell.

Just before this man – Lenny – had saved his life.

Without warning, corresponding messages were sent from a mass of nerves to its obedient limbs. Cole watched his left hand shoot out toward Lenny’s face. Like an innocent man witnessing a murder, he watched in awe as Lenny tumbled over the side of the bench. He tried to catch his breath as he rose from his seat and stood above his cellmate. Grunting as he raised his leg and tucked his knee into his chest, his heart grew heavier with every successive blow. Through various crunches and snaps that threatened to send Cole into a fit of tears and vomiting, he watched the life leave his cellmates body, spilling onto the floor like a puddle of consciousness and thought.

And then it was over. Silence would have befallen the room, had it not been for the horde of dead reaching through the bars. Cole turned, stumbled backwards onto the bench and stared straight ahead, the dead mocking him with moans and drunken postures.

Could they see him? Cole wondered. If they could, did they understand?

Cole rested his head on his hands and tried to concentrate on the floor rather than the corpses and their chilling song, but this proved useless. Gazing upward into the eyes of the woman whose demise had unfolded just beyond his trembling legs, Cole felt an emptiness transfer between them. A virus that slipped in through the corner of his eye and spilled into his being. In every way that mattered, Cole more closely resembled his captors than the dead man named Lenny in the corner of the cell. In every way that mattered, what became of these bodies and the drama of their lives would be nothing more than a footnote in a book set to flames.

These were going to be long, last days.

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“The End Was Nigh” – Excerpt No. 1


Hello potential zombie,

Okay so, I know I haven’t been the best in terms of posting content. That being said, I’ve decided to post an excerpt from the first chapter of my zombie story, entitled “The End Was Nigh”. Can you find it in yourself to love me anyway, despite the lack of content? I make up for it in substance, I swear! Good. I love you too – and by love, I mean that I would totally bash in a zombie’s skull for you.

If you happen to like this violent trash, I would be VERY grateful that you indicate it with a like or a re-blog or something of that nature. You can click the “follow” link at the bottom of the page (cleverly named ‘FOLLOW THE DEAD’ *cough cough*) if you want to keep up with the story. You can also share this excerpt with the convenient “SPREAD THE INFECTION” buttons at the bottom of the entry (fuck man, I’m so clever!).  I’ll be posting a short story related to the story next week (this time I promise, last time I didn’t – that’s the difference) and from there I’ll be pumping out chapters until they stop coming. Yes, I know, there’s no music here for you listen to. When it’s not just an excerpt, I will post a piece of music for the first chapter. Until then, enjoy this piece (or don’t – fuck you):

Again, I hope you enjoy and thank you so much for reading. Please don’t report me to the police.

———-

“The End Was Nigh” – Excerpt No. 1

Chapter 1 – The Importance of Locked Doors

Those first days were measured in short, panicked moments that collided in the life pouring out of my sister’s gaping mouth. The crown of her skull was in pieces, feeding a pool of blood that slowly wrapped its arms around my feet like a lost, confused child. I didn’t step away. I let the last evidence of her body’s momentum hold me close.

Outside I hear muffled screams. Downstairs in the kitchen, my mother’s have stopped.

The time is now zero. All certainties have become careless estimations.

It was a Thursday. The August sun had just finished a steady climb to its fiery throne, exhaling the seeds of life onto an otherwise cold and dead planet. We lonely apes had just completed our daily mechanization from carbon-based life forms to petroleum-fed machines, limbs squeaking in bored agony with every labored step.

It only took seven hours of daylight for the gears to come apart.

There had been silence for a short moment before she stood up. Only two minutes earlier her body had held on to life dearly, violent convulsions giving breath to the red craters in her neck. Where cinema would have dialogue framed in gasps and music absorbed in drama, there was only the guttural sound of death, kicking and screaming on the bedroom floor. Where great authors would have men wail and curse the fates, there were only deep heaves of physical exhaustion.

Death gave her greatest performance when no one else was watching.

It was a stroke of luck to have made it through the bedroom door. We crashed onto the floor a bloody mess, caught between childish sobs and painful moans. I didn’t secure the lock or apply pressure to her wounds. The shock had stalled any decisive action and cut off all contact with my shaking limbs.

I didn’t hold her tight and tell her that it was going to be okay. I didn’t calm her panicked breath. All the correct actions and words were swallowed up by the panic welling in the back of my throat.

What seemed like hours was probably mere seconds. Her eyes searched for reference, for something concrete within reach to which she could anchor herself. Without a single movement save the involuntary shakes of the nearly departed, her golden-brown eyes scanned the walls. They found a poorly painted middle school project before stumbling over a framed ink portrait of our late grandmother. Just over the rolling hills of unkempt sports medallions and faded photographs, she arrived at a picture of us taken no more than four days ago. I traced her gaze to the photo for a moment before turning back to her.

She stared back, quietly acknowledging her fate with shortened breaths. Her lips began to shake with anticipation. Of all the things I could do or say, I did nothing. The noises I produced provided no comfort.

When people die, you can feel all the tension of life spilling out through their limp fingertips.

The long nights spent whispering in the darkness of our shared bedroom. Our father’s broken promises and our mother’s fits of violence. The divorce. The month-long visits to extended family. The short hours of face-time filtered through steel-reinforced glass.

All these were ending in a brief moment. Every memory and the life it had, resurfaced and dead in the final pulses of a young human brain. All in all, it had taken four minutes for her story to come to a screeching halt. I closed her eyes and, for the first time, pushed her away.

When she stood up and shuffled past the bed, I remembered she loved tulips.

Hunger comes to mind when you see them stand up. It’s in their eyes and in their posture. It slips through their teeth and falls to the floor. The understanding of their intentions is carnal, immediate, and the brain only hesitates for a moment before the switch is flipped.

I took a step forward, picked up Miranda’s softball bat and destroyed something.

Outside were the songs of birds and the screams of the living. Downstairs only a creaking ceiling fan broke the silence. No one is counting, but it takes three or four strikes to stop her moving. No one is here to tell the difference, but someone leaves the room and the arms of gravity rock an empty corpse. All the weight of the world finally came crashing down in the hammer fall of a childhood relic.

Natural selection paints its masterpieces in thick crimson.

I don’t the need to tell you this, but the time is now zero. You won’t need a reminder, but all certainties are uncertainties. Nothing may matter anymore, and the weight of things remains to be seen.

Here we are floating amid the ancient celestial dust cloud.

“The Dude Ate His Fucking Face”: You won’t hear it coming, no matter how loud it screams.


That’s the way it happens, you know. It begins with isolated incidents, things that don’t quite make the national headlines.

A woman was found mauled and half-eaten in her Kentucky home, the apparent victim of an unusually gruesome example of domestic violence.

It captures the ever-shortening attention spans of a few college students only to disappear in a slew of increasingly mysterious colloquialisms punctuated by drags from cigarettes and swigs from bottles.

This morning a man was found bludgeoned to death. The attacker appears to have struck him down with successive blows to the back of the skull.

And eventually, seemingly without warning and with greater force than you could ever hope to repel, the infection is knocking down your front door and asking to stay for dinner.

The suspect, who has been charged with the grisly murder of his family, claims they had been infected with a deadly virus. The man is now in custody and undergoing psychological evaluation.

The song of the dead – distinct and haunting as it may be – will not be heard in the streets. The solemn shuffle of their restless limbs will go unnoticed, unintentionally ignored and cast to the back of a billion preoccupied 21st century minds. The peculiar details of an unusual story may briefly hover in the foreground, lifting eyebrows and shifting postures, but they will soon be gone. The blood and the violence will sell a few more papers in the morning, but the headlines will become nothing but cannon fodder for dead conversations at the public watering holes. After all, the coffee machine needs to be cleaned, there aren’t enough eggs for omelettes tomorrow morning, and you still have to mow the lawn before Sunday’s thunderstorms.

One day you’ll be fully engaged in the grand arch of your life, the next you’ll be coldly reminded of the natural world you left behind.

Of course, there may be a few that recognize the situation for what it is before it’s too late, but they will be a few and the advantage is minimal at best. You can only run so far before the end of the world catches up to you. The extra tanks of gasoline and hastily acquired stockpiles of food will be lost to the highways, clogged with the sounds of death and death’s closest approximation.

For the rest of us, the world will begin to crumble just as we realize what’s happening. By the time anyone recognizes the appearance of these mysterious, violent riots sweeping the country for exactly what they are, it will be too late. Just as you start to pack the minivan and head for your summer cottage in the woods, those sun-baked party crashers will be taking their first steps into your quiet suburban town.

Just as the cameras find your room and your survival story begins, you’ll be faced with an abrupt and untimely end.

I’m sure you object. You may be thinking, “Sure, most people aren’t going to make it, but who’s to say I won’t?” This very well may be true. I can’t tell you what your story would hold for you. After all, someone will experience those extremely improbable chains of events that land one in an empty field with a cast of characters they’ve never seen before.

Someone must play the role of the unlikely hero who makes the requisite sacrifices to lead a group of survivors into that new and dangerous world. You may be that one, laughing and crying and fighting your way through a hostile landscape with nothing but memories of yesterday and dreams of tomorrow to push you onward into the apocalypse. Who am I to claim that you won’t be that person on the silver screen, standing in all your despondent glory, contemplating the meaning of life now that everything is gone?

Then again, a Florida man’s face was fucking eaten off and here you are wasting another twenty minutes.

Happy surviving.

———-

Speaking of unlikely survival, I’ll be posting the first chapter of my zombie story along with an accompanying piece of music in two weeks as well as a related short story next week. Assuming that Rudy Eugene’s victim doesn’t stand up and derail all of our ambitious lives (too soon?), stay tuned for some dark, post-apocalyptic fun.

(As always, feel free to object in the comment box below.)

Don’t Go To Wal-Mart: Why your plan is bad.


The Apocalypse:

Day One – Get feet wet. Dispatch wandering zombie in the backyard. Pack up necessary survival and sentimental items. Fuel up car and leave town.

Day Two – Arrive at nearby Wal-Mart. Gather supplies and weapons – enough to hold you over for weeks. Build a makeshift safe house in the storage room of the large department store. Daily living and interaction will take place throughout the store. Safe house will be used for emergency situations. Daily clearing of the undead outside the glass doors will take place from the roof. A signal for help will also be built.

Day Three – Wake the fuck up. This won’t work.

            The first item on the list of zombie preparation is simple – let go of your fantasies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a discussion concerning potential outbreak scenarios, only to discover that my peers have nothing more than Wal-Mart dream plans. The issues with plans like these are numerous, but we’ll only tackle a few here to start.

            First of all, I’m not one for rules, but I think we may need to establish one before we go any further. We will call it the, “This Ain’t No Fuckin’ Cinema” rule. The rule is as follows: You are not the hero. I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating. You never were the hero and you’re never going to be the hero. You are made of flesh and bone, just as everyone else. Chance does not sway in your favor; bullets and teeth alike will puncture your skin.

            So, now that we’ve established that, what’s wrong with Wal-Mart?

            To be fair, you’ve made a logical choice if you are one of the many with such a plan. We all know why we would go there. In any given Wal-Mart super store there are sizable stocks of food that could sustain a modest group of survivors for months. In a world where food is the source of most conflict (you’re either searching for food or becoming food), it would be a substantial advantage to have access to such large quantities and varieties. While other groups would be dealing with sparse meals and a lack of proper nutrition, you’d be choosing between the canned corn and the bottled peach slices.

            As advantageous as this would be, we of course need a little more than a food source to take root and rebuild. Other necessities include medicine, first aid, weaponry and fortifications. Luckily for us, Wal-Mart can provide all of these things. While you may not be able to purchase an album with a parental advisory sticker from this economic superpower, you can buy a shotgun, a crossbow, and the requisite ammunition for both (because a filthy mouth is the precursor to a filthy soul, but we should always have the necessary means to fuck shit up).

            The same goes for the other categories. I’m sure you’ve taken enough glossy-eyed strolls through the isles of this store or something like it to realize that every necessity for sustaining human life is represented. Any minor injuries are more than accounted for with full stocks of bandages, pain relievers, disinfectants and medicine for fighting germs and disease (though I wouldn’t recommend combating the current outbreak with Claritin D). As for fortifications, this may not be a Lowe’s (though you may have one nearby), but there are plenty of desks, tables, metal shelves and furniture whose purpose can be reassigned to the noble task of keeping out the dead. Grab some nails from the hardware department, pick up a hammer from the next isle over and start putting up a wall against the surface of the glass. You’ll have protection that invites the envy of every human being on the face of the planet in no time (for better or worse – we’ve all seen the conclusion of Dawn of the Dead).

            So yes, Wal-Mart seems to be a good choice, but one must remember that this ain’t no fuckin’ cinema. Where this plan goes wrong is simple: it fails to take into account the existence of the most propagated (and most destructive) ape on the planet.

            I want you picture traffic gridlock – hundreds of cars, vans, trucks and buses filled with warm bodies. The call to “stay in your homes” that the media will undoubtedly issue will not be given adherence. Thousands of families in your area will be ignoring this fairly sound advice, heading to the highways, desperately searching for a safe, unpopulated haven to protect them from a crumbling world. Unfortunately for these masses, they will have unwittingly stepped into a death trap.

            At least they’ll get to see biology work it’s most clever magic yet.

            In this situation, the automobile is the grave. It is far too probable that one of these vehicles harbors a family with someone who has come into contact with the infected. Lacking an understanding of how this virus propagates, or even that a virus is the culprit responsible for the mass hysteria just beginning to unfold around them, they have huddled around their bitten family member to give him comfort.

            “It’s going to be okay – we’ll get you to a hospital soon.”

            But they won’t get him to a hospital. This wall of traffic isn’t going anywhere soon and, in due time, little Timmy’s dad passes away, only to reanimate moments later with a horrible case of the munchies.

            After a short moment of panic, those inside the car will surely realize the need to disperse and will open their car doors, at once fleeing for safety as well as opening the floodgates of viral infection for everyone around them. The father, who has just finished feasting on his first born, reaches through the window of a neighboring vehicle. The young woman in the passenger seat, a mother of four, couldn’t close the window quickly enough, and Timmy’s dad manages to scratch at her face quite a bit before his attention is distracted by a soon-to-be dead officer of the law.

            The young mother of four thrashes about in her seat for a few minutes, her family desperately trying to understand why the harsh but certainly not fatal scratch wounds have put her in such a great deal of pain. Unfortunately for her and everyone near her, Timmy had managed to put up a small fight with his pocketknife, leaving his father with a thick coat of freshly infected blood on his fingertips. It only takes a few minutes for the infection to reach her brain with such a close point of entry. She’s dead, lying peacefully among the sad sobs of her children, and then alive once more, vying for more of their horrified song.

            Meanwhile, Timmy is making his undead debut, attacking the driver of the Ford Escort three cars down. He’d had his back turned to the front of the line, making casual conversation with another anxious traveler. He goes down quickly, his fellow traveler stares in dismay and so the pattern continues on until the infection has found its way a mile down the road and into the rear passenger window of your four-door sedan.

            Can we agree that we should always avoid vehicles and highways? I think we can. Now, you may be revising your plan, swapping out the Toyota Camry for the more versatile Yamaha dirt bike. You get two points for heading in the right direction (a mountain bike is preferred – silent, small and fit for most of the terrain you could ever hope the encounter), but you lose three points for not recognizing the most relevant lesson from our little foray into the outbreak traffic jam: stay away from people. Any and all concentrations of people whose stories you cannot account for are dangerous. Given what we know about people (mainly, that they won’t understand a thing about this infection for at least 48 hours), there will almost surely be an SUV turned zombie-taxi nearby at any establishment to which you run.

            In fact, people are the only reason a Wal-Mart plan isn’t a viable option. Whether it’s an armed man who’s managed to convince himself that the baby food you’ve selected from the shelf is critical to his son’s survival, or the infected thirty year old that has spotted you selecting a side dish from the freezer and is quickly turning you into his meat portion – you need to stay away from concentrations of human beings.

            I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but supplies are going to be scarce and you’re going to need good improvisational skills if you have any hope of making it through the first two weeks. Don’t look for the perfect safe house – just make use of that wonderfully complex concentration of nerves resting atop your shoulders. You’ll have to find food on the run and stitch your wounds with whatever you can.

            And if you still plan on going to Wal-Mart, do us all a favor and break something critical to movement before you go down.

            Want to argue about this? Come at me bro. Comment below, and click that pretty “FOLLOW THE DEAD” button at the bottom of the page. Everyone needs a friend for the end of the world.

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True Life: There was a zombie outbreak. Everyone died.


Let me tell you what is about to happen here:

Horrible, horrible things (and I mean that, sincerely). There’s going to be a whole lot of blood and a whole lot of music to flow with it. We’re talking bucket loads, and none of it is going to come easy. This is a blog created by a zombie lover, for zombie lovers (necrophiliacs, you are NOT welcome – that’s just distasteful). That being said, I’ve left a little something to wet your appetite for human flesh below. If you can dig it, please share it. I’ll be posting the first chapter of an original zombie story in the coming weeks and more chapters will follow (each will come with links to original music related to the posted chapter). In addition, there will be weekly blogs concerning one thing and one thing only: those lovely creatures we call ‘zombies’.

Oh, and this is the last time I’m going to sound like this is all hypothetical.

Cheers,

Tommy

—-

True Life: There was a zombie outbreak. Everyone died.

What you need to understand about an apocalyptic zombie outbreak is that you are almost certain to perish in a less-than-desirable fashion. I repeat: you are not the hero on the silver screen, but a single ape among billions.

You’re just an ordinary person that can’t shoot straight while sprinting, an ordinary person that never had to fight for life.

The odds are stacked against you, and everyone around you, so you may want to abandon the fantasy that you’re going to make it out of here alive. What little you know of combat is completely useless now and you’ve less than a few weeks to learn some very hard lessons (SPOILER-ALERT: you probably won’t).

I can already hear the hordes of twenty-something year old men objecting to this claim, their egos swollen up with testosterone and the meticulously crafted lie of effortless self-sufficiency (no, you can’t learn how to fight from watching MMA). Turn up the defrost on those sophomoric shades: the handful of fights you’ve been in, though they may have served to boost your self-confidence (if you were the victor), will not be relevant to an encounter with the undead. Now, unfortunately for you, the brain will think they are, and you’re probably going to get a nasty infection before your mouth starts watering at the sight of bare flesh. Sorry, it’s just the way it is.

Those of you with a few years of training under your belts (or anything beyond watching Spike TV) may raise your hands in objection here, citing the gallons of blood and sweat you’ve invested in training over the years. Yes well, good for you – you’ve got the body you always wanted and the confidence you always dreamed of. I’m sure you can slip punches, defend chokeholds and disarm adversaries all day. Sadly, none of that matters here.

Any and all combat strategy developed up to this point will no longer apply. You wouldn’t try to punch a Velociraptor in the face, and you’re sure as hell not going to throw a leg kick at a zombie. Even incredibly simple and efficient modern combat systems such as Krav Maga are completely useless now, and god forbid you were only thinking of the bit of MMA training you’ve taken up ever since you saw that tall guy front kick the other guy in the face. You, my soon-to-be ex-deceased friend, are fucked.

You know how to throw a proper punch? That’s great, but a full mouth of bared teeth has the tendency to cut through skin. You may want to sever that hand as quickly as possible (it’s cool, there aren’t many gigs for pianists in a zombie outbreak anyway).

You’ll just throw strikes to the body and neutralize your opponent after sweeping them to the ground? Well, that may seem like a fairly sound plan, but the sponge-like fortress that is your skin probably isn’t in the best shape after your first day of stumbling, tripping and grinding your way through a post-apocalyptic landscape. Depending on the deterioration of your adversary’s torso, you just might find yourself wondering if human flesh tastes like chicken within the next four hours.

To think of combat with the undead as anything but the most horrifying idea ever to occupy your imagination, is a mistake. Any and all contact with the rotting skin of a reanimated corpse presents an opportunity to become infected. Thus, every time you engage an opponent without a medium to long range weapon, you risk not waking up tomorrow (or you may wake up, but I can’t guarantee you’ll feel quite yourself). Go ahead, take a close look at your hands and arms right now – if you’ve left the house in the past three days, it’s likely you’ve an open wound, poised and ready for contamination.

Have I ruined your zombie outbreak plan yet? Yes, it’s very unfortunate, I know, but you probably won’t make it to the local Wal-Mart.

All of this discussion and concern with infection is warranted, but let’s consider another factor. I honed in on potentially striking your adversary in the torso, however, punching a zombie in the solar plexus isn’t the best strategy, even without considering the risk of infection from contact. Striking a zombie anywhere without the requisite force to shatter bone or impede movement is absolutely a waste of time and energy. That one-hundred-sixty pound slab of mortality walking toward you doesn’t have any wind to knock out and will not double over in pain from your kidney-shot, so your best bet is to run in the other direction so that you may live to die another day.

Silver lining: ________________________________________________________.

You may be thinking that, with a clear head and the requisite diligence, one could use the zombie’s less than stellar coordination as an advantage to successfully maneuver through a world overturned. It is true that the zombie’s lack of coordination will be key to your survival, but let’s take a closer look at the above assertion.

You’re going to keep your wits about you while you watch your mailman stand up, having been ripped from existence in a blur of screams and various other horrific, biological sounds, only minutes before? You’re also going to keep a clear head and remain calm when you see that the mailman (what was his name, Dad or something?) has plotted a steady course to your front door? Let me be clear: the person whose neck was just torn to shreds by the jaws of a dead human being, has just gotten up, and with an iron will that cannot be shaken or disturbed, is coming to do the same to you.

Are you so certain that your thoughts will read more like an emergency evacuation pamphlet and less like the scribbling of a man whose just had his conception of the universe split in two, chewed up and spat out at his feet? If you are, you’re wrong (and if you ever get the chance to do just that and succeed, you’ve somehow been sucked into the world of a zombie movie – that shit just wouldn’t happen).

What I’m trying to get at here is this: your plan is not going to work. The main reason your plan is not going to work is this: it’s a plan. The other reason your plan is not going to work is this: the world you’ve imagined in drafting this plan is not the world that would exist in such a time. You’ve failed to realize just how easily one can be infected (you can only shuffle around in a dance with mortality so many times before the fates align and a drop of blood finds its way into that cracked lip, courtesy of your last partner). Remember, movies and television shows are following the handful of individuals that managed to make it through the first few weeks of infection. They’re not alive because they were prepared – no one was. They’re alive due to their ability to react and adapt, of course, but also because fate dealt them a favorable hand. There isn’t always a sharp object nearby and, more often than not, you don’t fall down next to your gun.

We’ve covered quite a bit of ground here, and I haven’t even addressed why it was a dumb fucking idea to run to Wal-Mart, but we’ll save that for later. For now, don’t count on any combat training to protect you from the dead (but don’t discard that training either – there were unsympathetic, violent assholes in the world before it came to an end, and they’re not going anywhere). Also, recognize being in the presence of two or more infected for what it is – a brush-up with a gruesome death.

Happy hunting, and by that I mean running for your life.

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