Friday, February 28, 2020

Zombie Short Story: Funk Day Blow Out

     "Rodney, the place is a mess."  Connie in the rental office had said on Monday.  "You need to blow out all the buildings this week."

     "Sure thing Ms. Connie.  I got this!"

Photo by Cbaile19 / CC0

     Rodney didn't care.  Some groundskeepers bitched about the weight and noise of the leaf blower.  It was a challenge walking all over the apartment complex, up every stairway, and down every breezeway.  It was a good workout, but he liked running the leaf blower.  It was fun.  He was in his mid-twenties and still in great shape.  It wasn't too hot out yet.  He liked pushing all the leaves, pine needles, and little trash around and he loved to obliterate bugs, spiders, and spider webs.  It was cool.  He would just put on his yellow safety vest, grab his headphones, crank up the tunes, fire up the blower, and groove through his week.   If the old lady in the 200 building didn't like the racket, she could call the office.  Nobody would mess with him.  Nobody would say anything.

      Now, it was Thursday.  It was Funk day!  Rodney had been through hip-hop day, R&B day, BeyoncĂ© day, and he was moving quickly towards his favorite day:  Friday.

      "You dropped a BOMB on me baby," he crooned to an imaginary audience that wouldn't have heard him over the free revving blower.

      As he worked the second floor breezeway over to get the spider webs and dead moths out of the way, Rodney didn't care who heard him or his blower.  With just two buildings to go, Rodney headed towards the back staircase.

      Unfortunately, some people were on the stairway so the groundskeeper just took his finger off the trigger and let the blower idle.  He was used to standing aside for random folks carrying groceries.  But, these folks seemed to be talking a long time.  Rodney edged over and took a glance down the back  stairs.

       A pale man with an angry face caked with thick black blood glared up at him.  The man was crawling slowly up the steps and there was a whole mob of similarly bloody nasty looking people right behind the first man.  Some were crawling.  Some had twisted and gnarly limbs.  Others had bloody flaps of skin just hanging off of their faces or arms.  Rodney exhaled and removed his headphones.

       "It's o.k. I'll just use the other stairs," he said turning and running towards the front of the building. 

       He got to the head of the stairs only to meet more of the vile, animated, dead who were  just reaching the top steps.  He hit the trigger of the leaf blower and gave the first of the dead a 220 mile-per-hour industrial strength blast of air.  The dead man didn't shrink, shy away, or stop.  He slowed down, but just kept coming with a wind-distorted face that revealed a mouth full of blood stained teeth and bloodshot eyes that were as black as the night.

      Rodney wasn't going down without a fight. He jabbed the first three of the dead about the head, face and throat with the hard plastic air tube to break up their advance.  But, then he felt something tug on his backpack.  The backstairs zombies were grabbing him from behind.

      "Oh hell no," Rodney yelled.  "I'm done for today."

      He released the straps of the backpack-mounted blower, ditched the extra weight, and started spinning.  Rodney hadn't spun that much since he had played running back for McEachern High back in the day.  He had scored a touchdown then and he was running for his life now.  Between all the lumbering dead people, Rodney saw daylight.  He shot through a gap between in the dead, ran for the railing of the breezeway and catapulted over the handrail. 

    He landed on the concrete sidewalk below.  He felt something pop in his ankle on impact and he skidded forward skinning his knees and palms.  But, he didn't care.  He ran as best he could.  He knew he was hurt, but the adrenaline was flowing.  The groundskeeper limped and ran all the way back to the maintenance shed and jumped into his old Nissan pickup truck.

      He put the key in the ignition and fired it up. He looked at his bleeding hands and pointed skyward to give the glory to the almighty.  Then he noticed bloody marks on his forearm.

      "Damn," Rodney said.  "They bit me."






Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Post-Apocalyptic Author's Thoughts on Pandemic Preparation

As a writer of zombie fiction, I'm no expert on communicable diseases, pandemics, or global health emergencies.  I'm just a guy wondering what I should do to prepare, what is practical, and what I can afford.  In some ways, my current situation in regard to the Covid 19 corona virus pandemic is similar to the situation faced by Jake and Karen in my novel Zombie ComplexFortunately, the ill won't be biting anyone.  Unfortunately, this is real life with real victims and the specter of disease and death facing us all.

We've been thinking that we may need to expand our small stockpile of supplies so that we have basic supplies and food on hand for a potential two to three week quarantine period.  We'll also make sure that we have sanitation supplies (cleaners and hand sanitizers).  We already shop "off-peak" and avoid large crowds.  While the government in Zombie Complex is more of a hindrance than a help, I do have a fair degree of confidence in public health authorities here in the United States.  They are a good place to start for advice on how to prepare for the human corona virus and other pandemics.

Hospital Visitor during a Swine Flu Epidemic - photo by Kencf0618 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

I recommend that everyone start with the Department of Homeland Security's Ready.gov website.  It provides basic information on emergency preparation and has advice on preparing for a pandemic.  It also has links to Health and Human Services (HHS) for more information about the pandemic.  As scenes from quarantined areas appear on the news, it is apparent that streets and store shelves get empty fast when communities are hit.  While you shouldn't panic, this is a great time to get a kit of basic supplies together and adapt hygiene and travel habits to the situation.

If nothing else, this health emergency should give everyone more time to stay home and read.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Zombie Science: What do zombies say?

Zombies traditionally are not able to speak.  Scientifically speaking several parts of the brain are required for speech:  Broca's Area, Wernicke's Area, and the angular gyrus.  In addition to speak, you need to have air movement with the lungs and the ability to move your tongue, jaws, and vocal cords.  With all of the brain and body damage they have sustained, there isn't much evidence that zombies can do these things.

"Killer Zombies of the Weld" painting by Elizabeth Barsham / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

I think one of the most horrifying aspects of zombie movies and zombie television shows is that a person loses their mental faculties and that they may have thoughts while they are a zombie with little ability to express them.  In The Walking Dead, it's heartbreaking to see a look in a zombie's eyes.  Do they know what they are doing?  Can they see the horror and pain they cause?  Do they want to be released from their condition?

In my short stories, "Dog Walk of the Apocalypse" and "Zombie Cage", I experiment with how the zombie contagion takes over a person's mind and with the traditional conventions about whether a zombie can speak.  However, if a person is infected with the Zombie disease, I don't think they can say much or have any vocal abilities for long.  If you want to find out what zombies have to say, i invite you to check one of my stories out.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Read "Howling at the Moon" from the WolfPack Authors


Like many of you, I've been saddened by the horrible wild fire images coming out of Australia for the past few months.  If you've wondered how you can help, I'd like to direct your attention to Howling at the Moon.  It's the latest charity anthology from the #WolfPack Authors writing group.  The anthology features great short stories from wonderful indie authors and all profits will benefit Australian Fire Relief.


I contributed what I think is one of my best zombie short stories to the Anthology and I'm sure you'll love it.  I'm really proud to play at least a small role in helping provide some relief for the situation in Australia.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Old Survival Wisdom in times of Covid 19

In these trying times of COVID-19, it may be helpful to draw some wisdom from the old U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, and Escape Manual (FM 21...