Zombie Lives Matter, a short story by Joelle Reizes

The butterfly effect meets zombies in this short story. Some political overtones, so be warned. Can’t quite figure out what the title should be, Zombie Lives Matter (political), or the one below, or something else. Comments? Thoughts? Opinions? Would love to hear from you.

How Charleston Finch and Den Oliver Destroyed the World

I was there when it started.

The zombie family was minding their own business, sitting in the park, eating their cow brain sandwiches, when a man grilling hamburgers noticed them.

“Hey dead-heads, you gotta leave. This is a live person only park,” he yelled. “We don’t want your kind around here. What if I sit on that bench get infected? Or my kids do?”

It attracted attention from other park goers, and generated hecklers and haters. I was playing in the park with friends and we wandered over to get a better look.

To Mr. and Mrs. Zombie, this had become the norm. To Little Boy Zombie and Teen Girl Zombie, it was all they’d ever known. They rose to leave, hoping for a peaceful exit, when a picnicker threw eggs at them, hitting Little Boy Zombie in the face. LBZ started to cry and his mother rushed to shelter him in her arms.

Mr. Z held up his hands. “Please,” he said. “We wanted to eat lunch together. That’s all. We weren’t bothering anyone. We’ll leave, but don’t hurt my children.”

They tried to push their way through the crowd and were pushed back hard, so hard that Mr. Z lost an arm. This wasn’t the first time it happened, but the conservatives in the state had passed legislation to severely limit Limb Reattachment clinics. There were only eight in the state, none nearby and he would have to get it done in the next three months or be subjected to a medically unnecessary limb attachment video created to educate zombies on the danger of limb loss. Not to mention that he had a high deductible plan and reattachment cost a fortune.

The important thing now was to get the arm back. He reached down with his left hand to retrieve it when it was snatched up and tossed in the air like a football. “Here, catch!” bellowed a teenage boy to a friend. The friend pitched the arm to another teen and on it went, a pick-up football game using a zombie’s arm as the ball.

“Don’t do that!” Mrs. Z begged. Losing an arm completely required legal registration of the limb and it took months to be issued a new one, not to mention a bunch of paperwork.

Teen Girl Zombie broke away from her mother, slashed at her wrist with her nails so that her thin pink blood leaked out. She held up her wrist as she pushed people out of the way. Everyone backed up several steps. She approached the teen boys, stood in front of them, cocked out a hip and said, “I’d put that down and go wash my hands if I were you.”

The three boys stared at her and the one holding the arm dropped it. It was missing a finger, but that was less of a problem. She picked it up and walked back through the silent crowd to give the appendage back to her dad.

The teens ran off toward the lavatory, but one could be overhead saying, “I mean, this may be gross, but she was kinda hot.”

The Zombie family wrapped the arm in the picnic blanket and gestured for the crowd to part. It appeared that the crowd would disperse and for a moment, it looked as though all would be well.

Except for one poorly placed rock.

Mrs. Z stepped on it, lost her balance and fell. During the descent, she flailed her arms trying to regain her balance, and it doing so brought about the end of the world.

Her right hand accidentally touched a six-year old living child, scratching the child on the left cheek.

A minor scratch does not necessarily spread the zombie virus. A simple series of anti-virus drugs are given in an “abundance of caution,” but the child was in little to no danger. Sitting next to a zombie, eating from the same pizza or drinking from the same glass will not harm you.

But the child’s mother didn’t care.

The mother reached out and grabbed Mrs. Z by the hair, dragging her on the ground, screaming the whole time. Mrs. Z was crying and trying to apologize but no one would listen. The crowd grew ugly and mean and closed in on Mrs. Z.  Mr. Z frantically tried to reach the police on his cell phone all the time holding the children back from the mob. The children struggled to break free of their father, who was restraining them and dialing with the one arm he had left.

The mother kicked Mrs. Z in the head and the stomach. Someone got a rope and before cooler heads could prevail, there was an old-time lynching. The children watched their mother die.

The police finally arrived, and afterwards many would say that they delayed on purpose, not caring about zombie lives. Whether they did or not, the result was the same. For the first time in sixty years, a zombie was hanged.

I was a kid then and had never seen a lynching before. Sure, I’d read about them in the history books, but everyone I knew said that kind of segregation and prejudice was in the past. I didn’t know any zombies personally, but I didn’t hold anything against them. They seemed far away from my secure little life. I lived in a nice community in a three bedroom ranch with a large backyard and a swing set. My school was within walking distance and it never occurred to me that my world was secluded, isolated from minorities like zombies.

The police, suddenly realizing the seriousness of the situation, tried to get to Mrs. Z and cut her down, calling for an ambulance. The crowd blocked them from getting to her. I watched as police pushed against the crowd, the crowd pushed back and then things went worse.

Now frantic to get to what they realized was a murder victim, the police pulled out their Tasers and used them on the mob’s first line. Those that fell were stepped on as the second ranks pushed through and attacked the police. I was jumping up and down to try to see what was going on. My friends climbed a tree to get a better look.

Tasered men and women lay on the ground, some seriously hurt by their own mob. More cops arrived and used water hoses to disperse the mob, but another mob formed behind them and pinioned the police down. One of the police drew a gun and shots rang out. And just like that, it became a full-fledged riot. My friends shimmied down from the tree and we high-tailed it back home.

Seventeen people killed, another twenty or so injured plus the murdered zombie. Zombies formed coalitions to patrol the streets to keep their kind safe. The Zombie Alliance petitioned the courts for stronger laws, and the President appeared on television asking for calm.

Underneath the top layer of law-abiding folks was an extremist pro-zombie group called Zombies for Life and their equal and opposite Keep America Alive. The KAA harkened its tactics from the ugly part of the 1960’s. Its leader, Charleston Finch, was a high school dropout who never belonged to anything. His father, an alcoholic who sexually molested Charleston and his sister, Rebekah, died in an unusual tractor accident.

Charleston found his calling in hate. He could hate like nobody’s business. He could hate with passion and eloquence. He even hated in his dreams. When the KAA started he became a local leader, then a regional one, and finally, the head of the entire organization, ruling from an old gothic home in Tennessee.

The house was a commune, with families and children all living together. It was open season for Charleston, who found his taste ran rather young, but only female, never having gotten the equal opportunity gene from his father. He admired the Branch Davidians standoff in Waco from way back in 1993, and promised everyone that he’d go out burning rather than risk being handed to a zombie FBI officer.

A blunt instrument in most things, he was a maestro at terror.

From the reports, Charleston awakened one morning with a vision and called all this commanders together from across the United States and in Europe. They came to compound and met in early May.

“Everyone, I know what we are going to do,” he announced. “We are going to strike fear in the hearts of all zombies and zombie loving breathers.”

“How are we going to do that,” asked his Texas representative, and Charleston smiled.

On July fourth, at noon, a powerful bomb exploded in the building directly next to Zombie Alliance headquarters in New York. Simultaneously, bombs went off in ZA adjacent buildings in London (five pm), Quebec (noon), Kyoto (one am), Paris (six pm), Abu Dhabi (eight pm), Prague (six pm) and Lisbon (five pm). The coordinated attack was the most massive the world had ever seen and, including the breathing problems and heart attacks afterwards, killed ten thousand people. Kyoto has the fewest casualties as it was the only bomb not timed for lunch or evening rush hour.

Placing the bombs in buildings adjacent to ZA headquarter buildings was a stroke of genius. While security was tight at the ZA offices, the restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores and homes next to these buildings had never been searched or protected.

Charleston, now a bona fide mass murderer, was the subject of a global manhunt, but he was never caught. Some say he went to Mexico. Others say he holed up in a shack in the woods. Still others said he’d died by his own hand. Whatever really happened, Charleston was never seen again.

His crime, however, reverberated throughout the world and ushered in a new era of terrorism. Zombie families were found crushed under truck tires, burned to death, and, the worst, torn limb from limb, sentient but unable to pull themselves together.

The ZFL’s leader, Den Oliver, was a zombie of some prominence, having been an actor in his twenties. He fought for roles other than the shambling, mindless flesh-eating zombie during the apocalypse, and won, eventually playing a sidekick role in a made for TV mystery movie, earning an Emmy nomination.

His progress as an actor stalled after that, however; and worse, his family became a target. When his daughter tried out for the school play several of the children refused to hold her hand during a dance number. When the teacher told them that they had to or couldn’t be in the show, they quit, dressed in raincoats, boots, gloves and masks, and met his daughter after school. They used metal pipes to beat her to a pulp. The worst part was that they propped her head on a stick so she could watch the destruction of her body while she was completely conscious of what was happening. Then, having had their fun, they used her head as a piñata.

The loss of his daughter destroyed Den and he moved from being an activist in the Zombie Alliance to volunteering for ZFL, his charisma and intelligence eventually leading him to the top.

It was Den Oliver who hatched the plan.

While Charleston Finch used armed terror, Den decided to play germ warfare. He ordered every single ZFL member to cut their wrists and drip their pale, pink blood on door handles, taxi seats, public library chairs. Zombie baristas dribbled drips in macchiatos, waiters oozed blood into food, and bartenders into wine. The scourge started in the United States, but quickly made it to Central and South America, Canada, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. India was almost spared, having closed its borders, but ZFL members in the country caught the fever and the population was attacked from within.

The newer zombies didn’t have the mentoring that usually came with zombification, and became savage, feral beasts. They attacked breathers, either killing or infecting them, and the tidal wave was unstoppable. The virus, once only transmitted from human to human, adapted to other life forms. It started with the obvious, primates, and worked its way through the Class Mammalia until it reached household pets such as dogs and cats.

In three months, ninety percent of the worlds’ population was dead, and the remaining ten percent were zombies.

That’s all that is left. As far as I can tell, I am the only living person on the planet. This is my story. Hate killed us all.

5 Questions in 5 Minutes with Kevin Hearne! Staked out TODAY

Staked_Kevin Hearne5 Questions for Kevin Hearne

If you haven’t read the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, you are missing out. Stop reading this blog. Go get the first book. Read it. Laugh hysterically. Rinse and repeat until you get to this one, Staked, which is book 8.

I’m really thrilled that Kevin is joining me on SlipperyWords and that he shared some insights into the his way of writing three different main characters.

How did you develop the three different voices for each of the main characters, Owen, Atticus, and Granuaile?

Differentiating voices begins with language patterns: Choices characters make in syntax and vocabulary will set them apart—Leif Helgarson never uses contractions, for example, and Owen tends to swear in the modern Irish fashion. These verbal tics are just part of it, though. Their personal characteristics determine what they choose to say in the first place. Atticus often likes to begin chapters with a few sentences of pseudo-philosophical commentary about life before events force him to focus on survival. Owen notices things that stress him out—which is most everything—and reacts by yelling at them or punching them. Granuaile is often searching for harmony within and without, and pursues what she feels will give her and/or the earth a sense of balance. So their motivations and focus lend quite a bit to their personal voices just as much as their word choices do.

I can imagine it is difficult to keep the three straight. Do you write all of one character’s chapters and then move on to another’s, just to keep writing in the same voice? Or do you write the story in a more linear fashion?

For the most part I did try to work on each voice in chunks. Three or four Atticus chapters, then three or four of Granuaile’s, and so on. That helped me stay somewhat linear on the book as a whole while spending days at a time in one voice. I still needed to go back and check for overlap, though. During the editing process, I caught Granuaile using the word “dodgy,” for example—which she would never do as an American obsessed with American poetry. That’s a slang adjective favored in the UK, and it snuck into the text from the Atticus/Owen chapters.

Why can’t Druids turn into trees? Wouldn’t that be super cool? I can see that the only problem with that is your sense of time may suffer and you could easily lose a year or two.

Druids are supposed to protect the earth and be active champions on its behalf, so giving Druids the ability to turn into an immobile tree would be counterproductive in Gaia’s view.

Would you ever have a character’s bird form be something innocuous like a sparrow? Not much good at fighting but awesome for stealth and spying.

Gaia would always choose a species good at fighting—but stealth can be married with strength too. That’s why Atticus’s form is a great horned owl.

How many books are left in the series? And do you have the whole story arc outlined?
I have only one more book in this series—Druids had a thing for the number 9, so nine books. But there will be a novella out and a short story collection as well before book nine drops.
What is your favorite kind of taco?
Usually it’s whatever taco I have in front of me. But I really like fish tacos if they use grilled fish instead of battered and fried.

If You Like These, You’ll Like These…Authors To Read

My cousin thanked me this week for introducing her to Faith Hunter.  (Thank you, Debi. I love you.) I thought it might also be worth introducing my readers to some other authors/books that you will like if you like Faith Hunter and Patricia Briggs.

First of all, I love Faith and Patty, so keep reading their books. Patty’s new one comes out in March (although I have already read it…jealous?). Faith has a new anthology, Blood in her Veins coming out as well. More on both of those in the near future.

In the meantime, there are some other authors you should be reading if you like their work.

Gail Martin. Go read the Deadly Curiosities series. I’m reading the second one, and I love the characters. Totally fun.

John Hartness’ Quincy Harker novellas. A mix of Harry Dresden and Constantine, all are fun reads. The latest is the best.

Jennifer Estep. She’s got a new one coming out too (also to be featured on this blog) but if you haven’t started with number one in the Gin Blanco series, you are missing out. Go get number one and get started.

Laura Anne Gilman. Her Cosa Nostradamus books, start with the Retrievers series. Laura Anne’s newest one, Silver on the Road, is a weird western, also worth reading, but a different genre.

Linda Robertson’s Persephone series. I have it on good authority that the seventh book in the series is in the works.

Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series is lighthearted yet serious. The last one, Kitty Saves the World, just came out this past year to much acclaim.

I know Charlaine Harris is famous for True Blood on HBO, but her Midnight Crossroad series is really my favorite. Check it out if you haven’t.

Also, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Karen Chance, C.E. Murphy, Seanan McGuire, David B. Coe, Alethea Kontis, Deborah Blake, Lucienne Diver, and Rachel Caine.

If you want to laugh and solve mysteries at the same time, try Casey Daniels, who lives in NE Ohio, somewhere near me. Her Piper Martin series is a hoot. (Debi, I’m looking at you if you haven’t tried her books yet.)

David B. Coe and C.E. Murphy have both done/are doing crossover stories with Faith. The best way to stay on top of everything these great folks are doing is SUBSCRIBE to their enewsletters. Don’t rely on Facebook. Here is the link to Faith’s webpage. You can sign up on the right hand side.

Some other writers, like Tamsin Silver, who I’ve profiled before, have new things in the works as well as things out that you might have missed. More in the future.

I KNOW I left out a lot of people. This isn’t an exhaustive list. Let me know in the comments who I forgot.

Making Alan Rickman’s Death Mean Something

Alan RickmanWe’ve lost some really talented people in the last couple of weeks. David Bowie and Alan Rickman are the ones that hit me the most, particularly Alan Rickman, who, for some reason, I just assumed would always be there.

What does this tell me as newer writer, just starting on the publishing journey?

It means don’t give up.

Nothing is guaranteed.

If something pulls at you to do it, do it. You may not have any more time.

I’m not being morose; I’m being realistic.

So, what does that mean for me?

It means taking the draft of the book I’m writing, holding my breath and giving it to a professional editor, who I will pay for, to review and tell me the truth.

Also, hopefully, guide me as I take a 46K manuscript and turn it into a full novel. But that can’t happen if she reads it and throws up.

I have until the end of February to get this as ready as I can and then I go, into the breach.

My ego may get bruised, but what is worse, waiting longer? I’m 47. If I die at age 69 like Rickman, I have a very few short years to see my goals realized. I can’t wait. And neither can you.

Let’s make the deaths of these creative people mean something. Drive yourself. Don’t stop. Believe in your abilities and that learning and growing requires falling and getting back up.

I’m going to keep trying. You should too.

Amber Benson’s The Last Dream Keeper

The Last Dream Keeper_Amber BensonEveryone knows Amber Benson from her time on Buffy, but what you need to know about her now is that she is a kick-ass writer. Really, her new YA book, The Last Dream Keeper is a great read, with a complex plot and female characters you can care about. YA and adults readers will enjoy it. Keep in mind this is number two in the series, so you may want to start with the first one and then proceed to this one.

Some uber-bad guys are burning witches again, and Lyse and her coven have to figure out who they are and how to stop them. Guided by witches from the past whose spirits live on, they must rely on their sisterhood to survive.

I enjoyed it and I would absolutely let my daughters read it, ages 12 and 14.

Best Quincy Harker Yet!

Hell Freezes OverJohn Hartness’ new Quincy Harker novella, Hell Freezes Over, is out and it is the best one yet.  Hartness has really hit is stride with this character and the novella zips along with enough action, emotion and mystery to keep any speculative fiction reader happy.

Murders, horrific murders, are happening. At first they look like mundane murders carried out by insane fathers against their wives and children. But a tiny little girl ghost points Harker in a different direction.

We get to meet a bunch of new characters and the sh*t begins to fly with both Flynn and Smith, as I’ve been hoping.

I love the spirituality Hartness blends into his fiction, and that is on display here, in a most elegant way.

Buy it: Hell Freezes Over

Featured image from http://www.hippowallpapers.com/the-angels-wallpapers

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