Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What do Leeds, England and Liberty, South Carolina have in common?

Both will fall to the zombie apocalypse created in my DEAD: Snapshot--{Insert Town Here} series. Liberty, South Carolina will be the site of my third installment in the Snapshot series. It has been amazing to see the reader response from people who want to see their city or town fall to the zombie apocalypse. I am humbled by the deluge of emails, and while I would love to think that I could get to them all, that seems impossible. 

On the plus side, I now have PLENTY of material to work with. But that does not mean for you to stop submitting your town to fall to the undead; I am seeing some towns with multiple requests. That makes it more likely to get my attention. Also, when I am seeing groups from a small town send me an email, that really gets my keep 'em coming.

As you wait for the next installment, let me just offer up a taste of the next volume:

The Dead Walk!

Shadiyah Kasim looked from the window of her flat on the ninth floor of the Clyde Court complex. Everywhere she looked, it was the same nightmare. Fires still burned and there would be no services to put them out. Groups of the dead could be seen stumbling around the streets. On occasion, she could see a living person on the move.

It was always easy to tell the difference. The dead moved along with little to no deviation from their course until whatever it was that caught their attention would send them off on a new tangent. The living moved in fits and starts.

And the living ran.

Thank God that the dead did not run. While she was not terribly out of shape and had tried her best to hit the treadmill at the gym at least a couple of times a week, the dead did not tire, and if they had the ability to run, humanity would have fallen in the first week.

Not that the human race had fared all that well, Shadiyah thought.

“Anything, Shaddi?” a voice called in a hushed whisper causing her to pull away from the window.

Shadiyah’s sister Assi, sat on the floor clutching her doll to her chest. A few months ago, that would have looked ridiculous. Assi had the thick, black hair of their Lebanese mother. It hung down to the middle of her back and usually had an amazing luster and shine. Now, it looked dull, flat, and tangled. Her large eyes were rimmed in red from the endless crying. She looked like she would not likely share in the ample breasts that their mother had passed on to Shadiyah. Assi was slender and had the perfect figure of a tomboy. Right now though, Assi was acting in an uncharacteristically girlish manner as she clutched that worn out ragdoll to her chest.

Assi was fifteen and past the age of dolls. However, Shadiyah could forgive the girl considering all that had happened. On reflex, her eyes flicked to the dark stain that was dried and now a part of the living room wall like some hideous sort of New Age artwork.

Her father had brought the sickness into their home. Of course, when it had happened, nobody had any idea what would happen within those next horrific hours. She shoved the memories from her head and returned to the situation at hand.

They needed food. As of yet, the water had not been shut off, but she knew that was just a matter of time. Already, when she looked up at night, she saw large sections of the city appearing as black stains on the landscape. It was like watching the tide roll in and knowing that her sandcastle was going to be washed away no matter how hard she might try to prevent it.

“Assi,” Shadiyah knelt in front of her sister, “I need to go out and get—”

“NO!” the girl shrieked, causing Shadiyah’s eyes to flick to the front door. Not more than twenty minutes ago, something had been scratching at it from the other side.

“Shh!” She covered her little sister’s mouth with a hand. “You need to stay silent, and you need to understand that we have to stock up on as much water as possible while we wait for somebody to come rescue us.”

Assi looked up with tears brimming over the cusps of her eyes. She clutched the doll even tighter to her chest and snot bubbled from her nose, causing Shadiyah to flinch. As soon as she did, she could not fight back the bitter laugh that burst forth.

Here she was, unsettled by a little snot after everything that had happened in the past few days. She glanced at her hands; the blood that had dried under her nails and left them stained black was only a small piece of the whole puzzle.

“Can you keep quiet?” Shadiyah asked as she rose to her feet. Her sister nodded.

“I will be as fast as I can, but we need to get as much bottled water as possible. While I am gone, I need you to fill the filtered pitchers. Can you do that?” Again, Assi nodded. “And don’t open the door, no matter what you hear out there. I have the key and will let myself in. If I knock and tell you to let me in…” She let that statement hang as an invitation for her sister to respond and confirm that she understood.

“Then that means somebody bad has you and is forcing you to bring them here,” Assi said with a sniff.

There were more than a few unsavory types living in the towers. Shadiyah had added this last precaution after hearing something terrible happen down the hall a couple of days ago. She thought that it might be that nice family from India that had recently moved in from the sounds of it. Whoever it was, the screaming, begging, and crying had gone on for hours.

She had scoured the house for anything that could be used as a weapon and happened upon something under her father’s bed that she’d never seen. It was a black leather case, but inside was a magnificent curved sword. Its handle looked to be carved ivory and had a lion’s head at the end of the hilt.

There was also a letter with a fancy gold seal that spoke of her father as being some sort of hero in the Lebanese Army. She hadn’t even known that he had served.

She had pulled out the weapon, half expecting it to be nothing more than a decorative piece, but when she cut her finger on the blade, she discovered otherwise. Besides being tremendously sharp, the weapon was also surprisingly sturdy.

Shadiyah slung the leather belt over her shoulder and picked up her sister’s school backpack. When she stood, she saw her reflection in the mirror that was mounted on the wall by the arch next to the front room door. She paused to take in what she saw.

Before all this insanity involving the dead seeming to return as zombies that hungered for the living, she had worked in an eyeglasses shop. Everyday, she had put on her makeup, dressed nice, and then hopped on the bus. Her wavy hair had always been kept long, and despite how much her mother complained that such personal vanity was inappropriate, Shadiyah went the extra effort to straighten her thick black locks.

Now, her hair was a nest of unruly curls that had not seen a brush for over a week. She had not even thought about such frivolous things as makeup since the day her father had risen and killed their mother in this little apartment. Yet, and she could not help herself, her big dark eyes and feminine curves still shown through, hinting at the beauty hidden under the dirt and grime. Shadiyah knew from an early age that she was pretty. Not just because her parents said so; that was a parent’s duty. No, she began noticing how the boys looked at her, how even some men would turn as she passed.
She had dreamed of becoming a model. However, when she had stopped at a small agency one day on a whim, she had seen those dreams crushed. Yes, she was easily as pretty as any of the girls sitting or standing in the lobby. However, at barely five feet tall, she was lacking in height.

“Perhaps you might consider acting,” one of her friends had whispered that day.

Shadiyah shook herself free of those memories. She needed to be focused on the here and the now. Letting her mind wander would be an invitation to becoming one of those things. The news had made it very clear in the end: a bite or scratch from one of the infected would result in the wounded individual becoming infected within seventy-two hours.

Stopping at the front door, she glanced back at her sister again. Assi had actually moved to the couch. She still had that ridiculous doll clutched to her chest, but at least she’d gotten up from the floor.
Being as careful and as quiet as possible, Shadiyah turned the deadbolt and then opened the door a crack. If the smell inside the flat was bad, it was sickeningly overwhelming in the corridor. Opening the door a bit further, she felt it stop when it came into contact with the bodies that had been laid on the other side.