Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter of Zombie Tour - Jaime Johnesee







Today I'm honored to have on a friend of mine that I actually got to meet this year at the World Horror Con - Without further ado - Jaime Johnesee!



Thanks for having me on your blog today, I really appreciate it. I promise I'll try to keep everything right where you left it. Except the bratwurst. I have to be honest and tell you right up front, I ate the bratwurst out of your fridge and for that, I am sorry. There, I feel better now that I've confessed so I think I'll go ahead and move on to the less delicious topic at hand, zombies. I love zombies. They are such versatile monsters and so intrinsically linked with our fear of death and what lies beyond in the afterlife. Zombies represent the possibility that there is no peace and that is something that makes more than a few people uncomfortable and it also explains why zombies are such a great subgenre.

The history of zombies in American literature and film all begins in the Carribean. Haiti, to be exact. The lore says that Bokors practicing voodoo would essentially shanghai people by using a powdered mixture that caused paralysis and mimicked death. The victim was thought to be dead and was buried while in an unconscious state. The kidnapper would then come back under cover of darkness, dig up the grave, and wake the confused soul within. The zombi had no memory of who they were or what had happened. These folks were then said to have been sold to plantation owners, or kept by the Bokor themselves to be used as slaves.

In time, zombi mythos migrated to the Americas where, in the swamps and forests of the southern half of North America, it thrived and grew. These stories morphed from the zombi being sold into slavery to them becoming aware and attacking the slave masters. As more time passed the word morphed from zombi to zombie and the creature itself began to change. This time they weren't merely humans who had their memory erased, now they were the dead brought back to life seeking vengeance.  As the decades passed the stories, and the creature itself, changed and morphed throughout all mediums.

In 1932 the film "White Zombie", and its star Bela Lugosi, brought the zombie into the public theaters for the first time. This paved the way for other films like 1944's "Voodoo Man" These zombies were of the hypnotized/drugged variety and the mainstay in these stories is that the zombie themselves was not evil, but whomever turned them into a zombie was.

Other movies, like "I Walked With a Zombie" from 1943 showed the creatures to be magical and under the total power of a voodoo priest/priestess. Then came the undead. In the thirties, forties, and early fifties zombies start casually shifting from victims to monsters. By the time the man we refer to as the grandfather of the modern zombie, George A Romero, came around these beings were no longer something to pity. Gone were the days of the human robot being controlled by another through words, spells, or drugs.

The monsters Romero envisioned are the ones you read about most often today. The term 'Romero zombie' is actually used when describing a vicious, flesh eating, nearly indestructible terror out to spread the virus it carries in any way it can while feasting on the flesh and viscera of humans.

These beasts are still changing, still evolving, today. There is the more widely known zom-poc (zombie apocalypse) category but there are also other subspecies of zombie tale. Some, like Jeffrey Kosh's "Revenant", bring us back to the deep South and illustrate the lush voodoo tales of old, highlighting an undead creature's desire for revenge. Then there is the funny and entertaining world of zombie comedy --zom-com for short. Jeff Strand's "A Bad Day For Voodoo" being one of my personal favorites. These types of books and films poke fun at the thought of undeath. They seek to make this underlying fear of death --intrinsic to humans-- become something more light hearted and fun. When done properly, as Strand did, these books can be just as fun and thrilling as their survival type counterparts.

Whatever form the zombie has taken, wherever the story is set, and what the zombie itself is capable of doing changes based on the author/filmmaker. Zombies have been around for a long time and I honestly don't think they're going to disappear anytime soon. Some brush aside zombie fiction as being too mainstream, and to them I say; wade a little deeper into other areas of that pool, you just might find something you like after all.

*   *   *   *   *

The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 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! #WinterZombie2014

https://www.facebook.com/events/1524813084430035/?ref_notif_type=plan_user_joined&source=1

AND so you don't miss any of the posts in November, here's the complete list, updated daily:

http://armandrosamilia.com/2014/11/01/winter-of-zombie-post-list-winterzombie2014/




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Saturday, November 1, 2014

What does the FluffyRedFox say??: Hallowed Horror Collection

What does the FluffyRedFox say??: Hallowed Horror Collection: What a fantastic collection this book is, some amazing authors who have supplied some huge novels and brilliant novellas. Everyone sh... Pin It Now!

Friday, September 5, 2014

ZF Fan Fiction

Hi all hope you enjoy this piece of fan-fiction as much as I did, the author wishes to remain anonymous but I'm sure would wish some feedback!


My Journal
Entry one:  Today I am starting a journal because it was suggested by a traveler that my thoughts may prove interesting for someone in the future.  I have never kept a journal but he finds it comforting and I want to give it a try.  I hope the reader will forgive my writing style, Mike says just write it in a way that tells the story.  So here goes.

Mike and his family/friends arrived here the day before yesterday.  I saw them calling out and knocking on doors in my neighborhood.  I liked the way they tried to be polite and walked up to them.  They looked exhausted and hungry.  I introduced myself and offered to take them to a shelter house Robin (my sister) and I had prepared for refugees.  They looked surprised and a little leery but agreed to follow me.  I took them to two homes on Foxrun Avenue.  These two houses have running water and propane hot water heaters.  There is a working stove and gas fridge and it is stocked for guests.  I thought Mike was going to hug me when he realized he was getting a hot shower.  I liked this guy.  I told him, "Welcome to Georgetown, Kentucky".

I went by last night to check on them and everybody was in bed.  Mike was standing guard duty.  I told him it was unnecessary but he said he didn't sleep much anymore would feel better keeping an eye out for trouble.  He said it liked to follow him around.  I laughed and said I could understand that but that I hadn't seen a zombie weeks and nobody would come into my neighborhood anymore.  He laughed and asked me if I was a badass.  I told him I was much, much worse, a pariah.  Since we were sitting out and it was a nice night I told him my story.

I used to like zombies.  I read every zombie book I could find.  If it was about zombies...I was up for it.  I recorded The Walking Dead on two DVRs to make sure I got it.  I would have watched it "live" but it was on late and I go to work at 4:45 a.m. I especially liked audiobooks, had an entire zombie collection.  

I worked as a nurse at the University of Kentucky, Chandler Medical Center.  A level One Trauma Center, capitalized because it is a big deal.  If nobody else can handle the train wreck of your problems, you end up at a Level One Trauma Center, nearly everybody I took care of was on life support. 

I was at work when I heard the first reports of the dead coming back to life.  The announcers acted like they thought they were being punked...my mind went into overdrive.  No...it couldn't be...could it?  I thought about it all day and then said, “What the hell, why not?”  After work I started on my crazy plan.  I have a $10,000 credit limit on my credit card and I am going to max it out.  I put a down payment on a nice little RV and stocked it with everything I thought I might need.  I got a solar package with the RV for power, a case of solar lights, sterno, case of lighters, case of coffee (I like coffee), cereal, dry milk, canned and dried foods, toilet paper..well you get the idea.  I went to Lowes and got plywood for my windows, I got hardware to secure my doors.  I left everything in the packages--so I could return them if the zombie thing didn't happen.  The prevailing theory was that it would take about 10 years for the zombies to get to Kentucky--we are about 10 years behind on everything else!! HaHa.  That was what people thought. 
 
    
I called Robin in New Mexico and MADE her come for a visit.  Robin worked as the director of the commissary at the largest prison in New Mexico.  She barely knew what a zombie was.  I liked fantasy--Robin watched stuff like Scared Straight, too much drama for me.  She is a logistical genius.  3000 prisoners and their families relied on her to provide snacks, clothes and hygiene stuff for the prisoners.  Do you know how handy it is to have a logistical genius during a Zombie invasion?  Wow she was unbelievable!  The help she provided for families was incredible.  You know how in the zombie books people take over the stores and protect the assets with guns?  That didn't happen here.  Robin and her crew dispensed the supplies as they were needed and people BROUGHT stuff to the stores for trade.  She made it work with a no nonsense attitude--just like she used with the prisoners.  You can have a guy with a AK47 show up to take over the store vs. my sister and my sister will winevery time.  Look how she organized your family when you got here!  Did anybody get a vote?  No, I didn't think so!  But...she was right, you all got what you needed.  Hot showers, good food, privacy and the special things that make this place a respite for travelers.  We offer these homes to travelers who are passing through the area.  If you want to stay, we can send you to people who can help you get established. 

Anyway, back to my story..the zombies were in the major cities and spreading devastation within days.  Panic was starting but people here still thought the government was going to do something to stop it.  I thought the government was going to make it worse.  So I made a plan..yep me...a plan.  I am not a military commander and my only experience was, get this...I liked to read zombie books.  There is a gravel pit about 2 miles from my home.  Every afternoon between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. they set off explosives.  My neighbor is an engineer and used to work there.  He said the tunnels go back for about a mile.  I went there and inquired about buying some gravel and talked to the guys about the set-up.  They didn't offer to show me how to set off explosives but I got a good bit of information that I hoped to never need.

A few days later, zombies came to Lexington.  Within hours they were here.  The plywood went up and we waited it out.  Within 24 hours my zombie fantasy was reality.  I spent those hours storing information on my ipad (car charger).  I wanted to know where to go if we survived.  I wanted places to go where somebody had set-up their house off-the-grid.  Solar, wells, septic tank, food gardens.  I wasn't looking for the dumbass that built a castle in the woods to keep out raiders,  I wanted the Mother Earth News kinda guy.  I am an optimist that way.  I didn't buy a lot of guns and amo.  This is Kentucky, you can't throw a rock without hitting a gun collector here.  I figured it wouldn't be much of a problem.  Mike wanted to know more about my information hoard.  A virtual survivor is a person who dosen't want to commit the funds to surviving--but wants to know where to find what you might need.  I surfed the net for y-tube videos, off-the-grid solutions, primitive living solutions, home-grown medications etc.  Like football fantasy team for zombie geeks.  The information is stored on my computer--not on the web, since the web went down a few days into the disaster.  Personally, I want my own island in the Caribbean sea.  Hard to get here in my RV hybrid though!  I've got a few other possiblities...but it is hard to leave home.  We have a pretty good set-up here but the winter is tough.  Plus what is going to happen to the zombies?  Will they rot and just disappear?  I heard from Mike they hybernate.  Crap.


Here is the way it went down.  You know, the best zombie stories are the beginning of the series.  Where you get to see how they survived and see what worked and what didn't, well here goes...Georgetown is a place where they made theCambry for Toyota.  About 50% of the people worked at the plant, about 10% at the schools and another 10% in local business.  The rest didn't work or went to Lexington.  The Toyota plant is about 10 miles east of my house and the schools (elementary, middle and high) are on the other side of town about 8 miles to the west.  Georgetown University is in the center of town but was basically closed for the summer, Thank God!!  Toyota must have treated the zombie invasion as a terrorist event and shut the plant--with the workers inside.  Nobody gets in or out until the situation is under control, departments locked down.  At first everybody was okay with the plan, after all they didn't think it would be more than a few hours.  Then they started getting panic texts from family about zombies in the schools.  Moms and family members were rushing to pick up the kids.  Kids had been bitten and teachers were taking care of them.  You can guess how that went.  Zombies took minutes to hours to turn.  Soon there were hundreds of bitten kids, moms, teachers and it was spreading like wildfire.  The west side of town was overtaken within hours.
 
The people at the plant were not getting updates from family.  Those that were getting news got unbelievable reports.  The workers wanted to go home.  The managers understood but denied all requests to open the doors.  It wasn't long before the auto workers found equipment to start breaking out.  But Toyota isn't made up of a bunch of stupid people and they were right, the workers should have just stayed there for a few days or weeks.  They know how to secure a plant but the workers were determined to get home to their families.  It was terrible.  From what I understand the workers went a little crazy, who wouldn't?  The zombies got to them because they forced holes in the defenses.  I don't know anybody who made it out, but that is what I heard.  I wonder what happened.  Maybe someday I will hear the story first hand.

We still had electricity and internet in those first few days.  I went on the Georgetown city page (where people were posting messages for police and firemen to come save them) and proposed my plan.  Lure the zombies to the gravel pit and blow them up in the tunnels.  I thought zombies would be attracted by sound and wanted volunteers to play the car stereo loud and get zombies to follow them to the pits and others would have arranged IUDs for the zombies and others would shoot any that survived from the ridge of the pit.  I wanted drivers like the Dukes of Hazard, military guys and hunters.  I was a idiot.  I watched too much TV.  I read too many fantasy books.  These hillbillies jumped on board The Plan.  We worked it out onlineand people who were trapped in their houses wanted a way out, and something to do.  We are Americans!  We can do this.  I was a total dumb ass, any military leader would tell you this idea would take a couple of months to work out.  We did it in days over the internet.

If we had enough military experience, maybe we could have made it work perfect.  We made it work a little.  The first day two 20 something girls died, they were drivers--bringing the zombies to the pits.  They missed their turn.  They made a u-turn to correct their mistake.  A FREAKING U-TURN!!  The zombies that were following the cars that made it to the pit were not as interested in following the sounds of the Grateful Dead CD we were playing, as they were in eating the drivers in the parked cars.  Imagine that!  I stood there on the rim with the gunmen and watched my plan not working.  I ran down the side and started yelling at the zombies from the bottom.  "Come here...Got your nice juicy human"!  Idiot.  Well they started coming..but just a few.  Then others came down to help me.   "Get out of here" I told them "I am an old lady (54) and I don't have kids, get back"!  They came anyway and six of us got the zombies to follow us into the tunnel.  There was a way out and we ran for the exit.  I was the slowest.  These guys ran like track stars!  Dammit!  I needed my inhaler but I made it.  I pantomimed a boom while gasping, the demo team set off the explosives.  The end of the tunnel collapsed and a lot of zombies were ended. The gunmen got the stragglers and we had a meeting to work out the problems.  No celebration let me tell you.  We were drained.  We decided to do it again the next day and cleared out another area of town.  By the fourth day, the guys looked pretty bad. I didn't think they were sleeping.  We had destroyed hundreds of children zombies.  Their families were fractured.  Their souls were disintegrating.  This must be what it is like for soldiers, I thought.  We knew what we were doing was important but it was killing the humanity that made us the people we thought we were.  We held it together long enough to clean out the town... Afterwards, two guys killed themselves.

If you think for a minute that the townspeople thought I was a hero for pulling this together you are wrong.  I was told that I was "just like Hitler with the Jews".  I led their family members to the pit and killed them in cold blood with my Nazi helpers.  I am a nurse and know how grief works.  DABDA we call it.  Denial (10 years for zombies to reach KY), anger (Hitler and hernazis) bargaining (if we hate her then we are not responsible for killing our kids, friends and family) depression and acceptance.  We have the anger and depression in full force here.  Nobody is ready to say that what we did was for the best.  You can't say what you are thinking.  Not yet, maybe never. All these houses are empty because anybody alive in my neighborhood moved out—wouldn’t want to be associated with me.  It is too bad because my sister, Robin had been helping a lot of people get food and clothing organized as I was working on my project.  She is driving me nuts with nothing to do.

Mike thanked me for nursing his friend who was zombie bit and I told him is was okay because we were bit too and knew how it felt.  He said he hadn't heard of anybody surviving the bite. So I told him about getting bit on the fifth day of the crisis.  I was stupid and let it happen during the pit project.  I went home and asked Robin to kill me.  She said she would tie me up and take me out after I turned into a zombie.  I talked and cried and talked some more and we waited.  I had to pee.  I chair walked to the shower and sat there waiting to turn.  I got hungry and Robin made me a sandwich (which she fed me with thebarbecue tongs).  I got tired and slept.  Days went by.  We talked about why I wasn’t turning.  I wanted to get untied.  She wanted to give it more time.  I wanted to kill her.  I had been tied up FOUR days before she cut me loose!! We were hardly talking by that time.  Yeah laugh now—you try it!  A couple of weeks later Robin got caught out in the yard.  I had a gun and got the zombie but not before he got a piece of her.  Now it was her turn to get tied up.  Four days later I turned her loose.  Good thing I had the gun is all I have to say.  We talked a lot about why we didn’t turn and we have a couple of theories.  

Mike wanted to hear some more but I was tired, I will tell more tomorrow.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mayan Prophecy

I was getting ready to lay down and I heard something bang up against the side of the house. I'm thinking 'deer' because we live in the sticks, maybe a friggen moose because that would be awesome. So I go downstairs the puppies are in the back room hiding under my office desk. I was like 'typical!' I turn on the porch light and I didn't see anything. So I'm a little scared, I said screw this, grabbed my .357. Now I'm brave! I opened up the front door, and I'm looking around, I can see nothing because it's dark as hell, but I hear this real heavy breathing.

I'm like 'shit what is going on?' Went back in grabbed a flashlight (still have the gun). I walk out on to my deck and go behind my house. The breathing is louder, I shine my flashlight down and there's a friggen black bear, looking up at me, I may have screamed, it was dark I couldn't tell. The bear didn't move except his head, he swiveled up to look at me. His eyes were wide and he looked petrified, I noticed wounds on his forearms and his back. I'm thinking what the hell attacked a bear. Pack of wolves maybe?

So now I'm thinking I'm way too far from the front door. I start edging back, the bear makes this low moaning sound and I hear him go thundering through the woods to the west side of my house. If he's spooked, I'm spooked. I start to hear shit in the woods on the other side of the house and I'm thinking, what a poor choice of weaponry I grabbed. I stayed a minute longer to see....them coming. It's started, my house is surrounded I don't know how much longer I'll have power. Good luck and God Bl....

I'm so exhausted. We made it through the night. The basement is lost...they...are...in...the...house. We've barricaded the door that leads downstairs, heavy oak, should hold them. But what's disconcerting is that I see the handle TURN from time to time.

It's just Travis, Tracy, Henry, Riley and myself. Maybe we should have done shifts to watch that damned door. I just want to be the first and hopefully last line of defense. I don't know what they are, human once. Not anymore. If you're reading this, you need to know THEY ARE FAST.

I thought I could keep them from getting inside the basement, went through two magazines. It looks like a head OR a heart shot will stop them. When I turned to pop my 3rd magazine in, they came and they came fast. I barely made it up the stairs ahead of them, felt more than one hand reach and grab for my calf. If Travis hadn't of opened the door I guess I would have been a late night snack.

It sickens me to think they're below us. My wife's Jeep is 25 feet and 500 ravenous sub-humans away. We're stuck, I heard sirens about 5 hours ago, pretty sure they're not going to make it. Once upon a time I'd wished for a zombie apocalypse. Be careful what you wish for, I don't know if we'll make it through the day.

I guess I figured it wouldn’t end like this. It’s kind of ironic, my last meal is going to be a fucking cherry pop-tart. I’m wincing every time I have to take a bite. The basement door is cracking, all efforts to keep that from happening have failed. Travis, Tracy me and the dogs have grabbed all the ammo and all the guns, and have retreated (fuck that Marines don’t retreat, we’ve withdrawn to readjust!) to the upstairs. We didn’t even bother grabbing anything besides some snacks this was not going to be a long withdrawn siege. Unlike ZF1 I do not have the luxury of being able to remove stairs.

Travis and I are shoulder to shoulder and will blow zombies to whatever maker they belong. Tracy after a quick lesson will be our re-loader. We’ve got enough bullets to coat my living room floor in 6 inches of enemy blood. If and when we finally fall even the zombies will have to take pause at the losses they suffered, and if this were middle-earth they would sing songs of our heroics.

Travis stiffened, I sagged, as we heard the basement door splinter, it’s show time. We locked the dogs in the master suite bathroom, I hope when the zombies are finished with us they leave them in peace somehow I could die a tad bit happier if that thought held true. The first zombies rounded the corner they were running so fast they couldn’t make the sharp turn to come up the stairs. More than a few slammed into the far wall and so it begins, Travis fired the first shot. I think it hit a shoulder but it was impossible to tell as we started to light them up. Rounds fired this close were devastating, arms fractured off, heads ruptured, dripping gray diseased mass across the wooden walls.

More than once my mind began to wander and wonder how I would get those stains out. They didn’t stop, no matter how many we blew apart, no matter how many times we changed out rifles and handguns, no matter how many times Tracy reloaded magazines and cartridges, they still came. No matter how many times that fucking cherry pop-tart threatened to reemerge, they came.

So far the zombies hadn’t got past mid-way on the stairs, still entirely too close, what’s that five, seven feet max? I thought for the briefest of seconds we would have to retreat to my bedroom. At that point it would have been a waiting game. This was our Alamo, our final stand was here, we left this spot and we might as well have turned the guns on ourselves and saved the zombies the trouble. It’s a stand-off right now, they’re slowing up trying to slog through the death and detritus of their dead, and we’re exhausted, thankfully we’re not yet running low on ammo, but the zombies seem to be in endless supply. I’ll write again when I can. Is it Christmas yet? We could use a miracle.

Been up 48 hours straight. I can barely focus. There were times in the Corps during battle I’d stayed awake 72 hours. But that was 6000 miles and 25 years ago. I’m a different man than I was then, I cared for little, including myself. This constant worry for my wife and son (and dogs) is draining. There is no cessation in fighting, the enemy needs not regroup, re-plan or reform, they just come unmercifully. There will be no quarter, no surrender, and no Christmas greeting across the span of the battlefield.

We were spent, physically and emotionally and it didn’t help that we had all suffered a fair amount of hearing damage from so many shots. Dialog was difficult. “Running low on 9 millimeter!” Tracy shouted. That was fine with me, gripping the small Glock 26 was murder on my hand and forearms anyway and if I didn’t damn near have the thing pressed against a zombie head it was difficult to hit something.

I could hear Henry barking off to my left, that was unusual although he could be hungry or Riley was beefing so bad he couldn’t breathe, both were highly likely. “Did you hear that!” Tracy yelled.

If she was talking about the mini-explosions that heralded the outgoing trajectory of a bullet, I’m pretty sure I’d heard it about twelve hundred times. I’d sent Travis into the master bedroom to see if he could get some sleep, we were going to have to do this in shifts if we were to have a chance. Typical teenager he was somehow able to sleep. The dead zombies had piled up so high they were an effective barrier against a bull rush of the smelly bastards.

Tracy even had some time to sit down next to me on the top step and take some shots. She kept closing her eyes as she pulled the trigger, maybe because she was afraid of the noise or just in the off-chance she would hit something and have to see the devastation the bullet caused. Either way I didn’t blame her.

I laughed.

“You laughing at me?” Tracy asked as she almost fell over from her last shot.

“Hell no, my enemy is to the front I see no reason to have one from the side.”

“Then what?” She asked.

“I’ve written, what? Ten books on zombies.”

“Probably.”

“I guess I thought I’d be better at this.”

“We’re still alive.” She said tenderly.

“Yeah that’s a positive. I’m going to be pissed if we die though.”

“What?”

“Do you know how many readers I’ve told that if I’m the first zombie or the first victim in a zombie apocalypse I’m going to be ripped!”

“I think they’ll understand.”

“Did you hear that?” I asked Tracy as I stood up.

“Gunshots. Our neighbors?”

We live in the sticks, ‘neighbors’ is a term used loosely. I’ve lived in houses where I could have reached out my window and borrowed my neighbor’s ketchup (not that I would mind you, who knows where that bottle’s been). We’d heard shooting from houses in our general vicinity but nothing for a long while.

“Mark you in there?”

‘It’s Ron!” Tracy and I exclaimed at the same time.

“Hon.”

“On it.” Tracy answered.

Our bathroom window over looked the driveway, the only viable approach. Although I guess that was wrong, the zombies had materialized through the dense thorn laden woods. Enough to stop a sane human, not so with our latest dinner guests.

I could hear them exchanging words, but like I said earlier I had suffered no small measure of hearing loss since this started and since I had been attending concerts since the ripe old age of 12 I didn’t have much I could afford to lose going into this battle.

“We’ve got problems.” Travis said coming out of the bedroom rubbing his eyes.

“You don’t say?” I asked him popping off the head of what looked like a 12 year old girl.

I retched a little inside my mouth, that was about the sixth or seventh time I tasted that fucking cherry pop-tart and it got worse each and every time. Serves me right for eating Devil’s fare.

“Uncle Ron’s leaving.”

“Fuck. Sorry.” What I thought was the cavalry was merely a message delivery.

Tracy’s head was hanging low when she came back out of the bedroom.

“He had to leave. They started to surround his car.”

Ron’s car was a 1992 Subaru, that was one pot hole away from its final resting place.

“Did he tell you anything?” I asked.

“Yeah he came here hoping to get more guns. There’s zombies everywhere.”

“Wonderful.”

Then our Christmas miracle started to happen (that would be a heavy dose or sarcasm laced with dread). Our post and beam house was starting to protest LOUDLY the number of uninvited we had in our living room and our stair case. A huge snap that was equal to or greater in sound than any of the guns we had fired exploded in the basement. I could only imagine that it was some sort of structural board as the house was being tested to the limits of its design and it was about to come up wanting.

“What was that?” Tracy cried. “Is someone in the basement?”

“I think our house is getting ready to fold in on itself.” I said in despair.

“Get some clothes on.”

“Why? Where are we going?” Tracy asked.

Travis knew better and had already headed into my closet to grab some hoodies.

“The roof.” I told her.

“What? Why?”

“Hon this house is going to collapse, we can’t be in here when it does.”

She was looking at me with panic in her eyes. My stomach was in full on tilt mode. My idea (see how I didn’t say plan) was to go out the skylight in the bathroom and onto the roof. Although from there I had no idea what we were going to do. It was twenty feet down to my yard which was frozen solid. It would be akin to landing on cement. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

“What about the dogs?” Travis asked.

“Gonna have to shove them in the laundry basket”

“The both of them?” He asked.

“It’s gonna be tight but we have no choice.” I told him.

I grabbed the sheets and started to tie them together, when I was fairly certain it would hold I tied it to the handles of the basket. This time I was confident enough to go with ‘plan’. I’d lower them down and they’d be able to get out when the basket went onto its side. Travis and Tracy got out on the roof, I was hefting up a very pissed off Bulldog basket and had it about halfway out when I heard in rapid succession the collapse of another two beams. And there were now zombies at our bedroom door. The hits they keep on a-coming! (Use your favorite DJ voice).

It’s Christmas Eve, I wish all of you that are still hanging on a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Getting down off the roof wasn’t quite as bad as I had anticipated. The scariest part was when one of the handles on the Bully basket let go, cantilevering them off to the side. Not sure if they cared or not, probably asleep. I hated using the pups as test dummies but it wasn’t like they would be lowering us down. I knew the tied together sheets could hold at least the combined weights of the dogs, somewhere in the 130 pound range. Tracy was easily under that, she was up next.

“Run to the car when you get down.” I told her.

“Okay give me the keys.” She replied.

Pretty sure the expression on my face gave it away. “You don’t have them?” She phrased it as a question but it really was never in doubt.

“First things first.” I told her when another series of wood splintering sounds resounded from inside the house. “Go towards the street. Travis and I will be right behind you.”

Henry and Riley were outside the basket just looking back up at the house. I wanted to yell at them to ‘scram’ but I didn’t want to be a zombie early warning detector.

“Take the dogs with you.” I told her.

“Henry won’t leave until your there and Riley won’t go without him.”

“Fine go to the street.”

I gave a fast demonstration to Tracy on a quick rope decent I’d learned in the Marine Corps it really revolved around the one fact of getting down and away from the rope as fast as possible so you didn’t get your ass shot. It usually came with rope burns if you didn’t have gloves, we all were going to have red palms tonight. I could only hope that was our biggest problem for later.

She was down and heading out the driveway before I could even begin to churn up some stomach juice.

“You’re next.” I told Travis.

“You sure about this?” He asked looking over the roof line.

I had a smart ass answer all lined up for him, the caving in of the center roof line was all the impetus he needed. He was down faster than his mother if that was possible. Then I got my answer.

“Fuck my hands!” He yelled.

“No swearing.” Tracy yelled from the woods by the side of the roadway.

I was next and I was having the same doubts as the boy, plus I had an additional 30 pounds of added desk weight. (You know the kind you accumulate by eating peanut butter laden snacks as you type at your workstation.) I would later blame the sheet giving on the added ammo I was carrying in my pockets.

I was halfway down when I felt the free fall sensation of free falling or for you truly optimistic, ‘short flight’. I thudded to the ground solidly. This was punctuated by the rapid firing of guns, luckily not mine. Zombies were bearing down, I didn’t have time to lament the air getting knocked out of me. I’d once been blindsided by an opposing lineman in high school once. I felt that daze like quality at this very moment. And I didn’t have the luxury of taking the next play off at the sideline.

I stood up and wobbled mightily. Zombies were literally falling by my feet.

“Dad move your ass!” Travis was screaming.

I just about had those little stupid cartoon birdies swirling around my head. I started to head towards Travis’ yell. Zombies close on my heels. I saw Tracy jumping up and down waving her arms. She was facing away so I don’t know what the hell she was doing, I’d find out soon enough as I sped down towards her.

Travis waited until I got flush with him before he turned and followed. I could hear a car or something fast approaching, now I knew what Tracy was doing. She was trying to flag them down. Would they stop? Would I if the roles were reversed? I could hear the engine revving as if in answer. And then just as suddenly I heard tires sliding on gravel.

“Son of a bitch.” I breathed out.

Only in Maine. If we had the misfortune of living in New York they probably would have given us the finger as they sped past.

“Get in!” A grizzled old man said sticking his head out the passenger side window.

Tracy was hopping into the back bed, Travis had long since passed me and was getting in.

“Might want to pick it up dad!” He yelled.

“Yeah and you might want to kiss my ass.” I grumbled.

The truck was starting to pull away just as I got my first foot into the truck, I would have been left in the dust if Tracy hadn’t of grabbed my sweatshirt. It was close until Travis helped. I felt a zombie hand scrape down my back. And then we were off.

“Holy fuck.” I said as I leaned back, zombies were almost abreast of us and we were still building speed.

When I caught my breath, I thanked our savior.

“Name’s Jed.” He said sticking one hand through the middle glass that separated the cab from the bed.

Tracy looked at me. ‘No fucking way.’ She mouthed.

I could only agree. Life imitates art and all that shit, I get it, but Jed is a fictional character in a book that saved Michael Talbot’s ass a couple of times. Looks like I’ve found my own.

“Where you headed!” he shouted as he swung the truck to the left in a valiant but failed effort to avoid a zombie.

The resultant mist of bone and blood that shot over our heads reminded me of the cherry pop-tart I’d eaten a couple of days ago. “Headed to my dad’s in Belfast!” I shouted over the roaring wind.

He looked back, longer than he should have. “Belfast is gone son.” He said slowly. He didn’t offer a clearer explanation. “I’ve got relatives on Foster island that’s where I’m headed.”

He paused. Not sure what he wanted from us. I was still trying to wrap my head around my grief.

“You folks look like a deer in the crosshairs, do you want to come with me?”

I looked over towards Tracy. I didn’t have an answer, I mean it’s always easy to think up one when I’m sitting at my desk sipping coffee maybe eating a Devil Dog or two. But my house had just been destroyed and I had no idea where the rest of my family was. I needed some time to think.

I apparently took too long, Tracy was all about making sure her son was safe. “We’ll gladly take your offer.”

The truck came to a stop we all piled into the cab, I don’t remember much on that 4 hour drive. There was some traffic, some fighting and more zombies. I was lost, emotionally and spiritually, and hell even physically I had no fucking clue where Foster Island was.

When we finally did reach Jed’s destination, there were greetings abounding. I didn’t much care to stay in the house for small talk I went out onto the deck to watch as the sun went down, I was unsure if it would ever rise again.

When I was confident I had sufficiently frozen my body and thereby my brain so I didn’t have to think anymore, I went back in. The clock had just turned to midnight and two thousand, twelve years ago baby Jesus was born.

To paraphrase John Lennon - ‘So this is Christmas’ - Would there be a happy New Year?

More to come around the New Year

Thank you everyone!

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Twelve Days Of Christmas Talbot Style

The Twelve Days Of Christmas....the end!

’T was the night before Christmas, when all through the home-stead

Not a creature was stirring, not even the dead.

The entrails were flung to the wall with care,
In hopes that Eliza soon would be there.

The Talbots were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Pop-Tarts danced in their heads;

And Tracy in her ’kerchief, and I in my Red Sox cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap;

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the dead of the day, and eight ripped open reindeer,

There were old ones and slow ones, some lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be the sick.

More rapid than eagles her curses they came,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Pestilence! now, Plague! now, Death! and Famine!
On, Vomit! on War! on, Demise! and Contagion!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now attack away! attack away! Destroy them all!”

As hard enemies that before the wild apocalypse bound,
When they meet with an obstacle, smash it to the ground,

So up to the front door the zombies they flood,
With their mouths full of meat, and hands covered in blood.

And then, in a sinking, I heard in the room below me
The prancing and pawing of each little zombie.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Through the front door Eliza came with no sound.

She was dressed all in black, from her head to her foot,
And her clothes were all tarnished with blood and soot.

A bundle of heads she had flung on her back,
And she looked like a murderer just showing her pack.

Her eyes — how black and flat! her mouth how tight!
Her skin was like snow all dried up an withered like corpses,
her nose dark as night!

Her droll little mouth was drawn up in a growl,
And the pallor of her face was as white as the snow.

The stump of a finger she held tight in her teeth,
And the smoke of destruction encircled her head like a wreath.

She had a oval face and a flat little belly,
That growled, when she ate, what looked like a handful of jelly.

She was crabby and bitchy, a right mean old self,
And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself.

A wink of her eye and a twist of someone’s head,
Soon gave me to know I had everything to dread.

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And caved in all the skulls; then turned them with a jerk,

And laying her finger aside of her nose,
And giving a nod, up into the air she arose.

She sprang to her sleigh, to her team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the flight of a missile.

But I heard her exclaim, ere she drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-bite!”
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