Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Safe in My Basement, Adding Highlights and Color to the Apocalypse

It’s chilly and blustery on the Front Range about Pikes Peak this penultimate day of April. It’s toasty warm in the basement, though, and look! Breakfast!

Let’s tuck in:

Three eggs, a bit of sliced white onion, mushrooms, and orange pepper, with four slices from what must be the most brutally hot jalapeño I’ve encountered in all my decades of eating them. Fortunately, the addition of a slice of regular American cheese not only brought all of this together, it mitigated the blistering scorch of that jalapeño. There was just enough heat to open my sinuses and bring a sheen of sweat to my face and my scalp, but not so much that I might as well pour gasoline on it, set it on fire, and try to eat it that way. 

Bless my wife for her genius in coming up with this particular plate of morning Genius Fuel. With this, a few mugs of black coffee, a working four-color pen, multi-color Sharpies, varying sizes of sticky notes...honestly, I have no excuses. The only thing standing between these 250+ pages of Grace Among the Dead and its adoring public is me. I must be iron like the skillet that cooked this masterpiece, that I may prepare my own plate of crunchy, gooey, hot delicious apocalypse for you all!

Or something. Let’s get to work already....


Monday, April 28, 2014

Please Don't Interrupt My Nap...

...with a Taser and your baton, because I will surely overreact.

WARNING: FLESH-EATING NASTINESS AHEAD: I did promise another excerpt, though. This is from Chapter 3 of Grace Among the Dead, “The Wrong Kind of White People”:

Kim’s chin is on her chest where she bleeds out against the front of the sofa. I step around her, reaching down to snatch her wrists and pull her away from the sofa. The splinter snaps out of her belly as it catches on a corner of the overturned table.

Deputy Milner’s eyes pop comically as I lay Kim to rest between his legs. I pull my hunting knife and begin slicing away his uniform. Once I’ve got him stripped I go to the pantry and grab a couple of bottles of barbecue and steak sauce. I shake them out over his naked body, dabs of the red and brown mingling with the fat tears beading down his face. The only thing missing is an apple stuffed into his mouth. 
A high, keening whine rises through his gag as I turn to run up the stairs. I throw my books and toiletries and other loose items into my overnight bag. I zip up my suitcase. In less than a minute I’m pounding back down, suitcase in one hand, the bag over my shoulder. I look over at Deputy Milner as I reach the living room. I set my suitcase and bag down by the front door and cross into the kitchen. I take the scotch from the pantry and pour a glass. I step back into the living room, facing at a discreet distance across from the trussed deputy and the remains of the woman between his legs.

“Adam Milner,” I say, swirling the scotch in its glass. “Be it known to all and sundry, you are where you are now because you assaulted me in the course of an attempt to rob and murder me. You could have had this house, the hot running water, all of it. But for some weird pathological reason…who knows? Who cares? For ruining my nap, I sentence you and everyone you know to be eaten alive. Salud!”

I down the glass. Right on cue Kim’s corpse begins to stir. As she moans into un-life, the ruff-tuff creampuff who was Tasing me mere minutes ago squeezes his eyes shut and begins to sob.

Kim awakens to undead heaven, between the fever-hot legs of her first living meal. I accidentally thump the tip of my boot into the foot of the oversized chair and she doesn’t turn around. In the course of pushing herself up from the floor her cool, dead hand has closed around Deputy Adam Milner’s ankle.

I’d thought it would be all nice and ironic and shit if Kim had found the deputy’s junk and chowed down on that first. This is even better. The looks on both their faces—the eternal playground bully served his ultimate comeuppance, Kim’s mindless emotional hunger in full literal expression—yes, there’s the monster face!

God help me, have I turned into a monster, too? What would Claire think if she saw you right now? Or Sibyl?  Or Jack?

Well, they aren’t here, are they?

Kim chomps into the back of deputy’s leg like it was the world’s largest state fair turkey drumstick. Big yellow dollops of mustard sauce plop into the pooling blood on the floor, but Kim does her mindless cadaver best to slobber up as much as she can with her tongue and lower lip.


No, I’m not enjoying this. That means I’m still okay, right?

Good Lord, what the blue screaming hell have I done?

Made a mess, by the sounds of it. By the sounds of it, they also had it coming. Fortunately, we have the rest of the novel to redeem ourselves.

These are the kinds of stories I like to tell. Never mind the weapons porn. I’m going beyond calibers and grains and stopping power and straight to the bleeding meat, and what it does to a man’s mind.  What mass death and the collapse of civilization does to a civilization that was well over halfway towards an every-man-for-himself hellscape long before the dead rose to take it all down.

I’m still finishing up the rewrite of Grace Among the Dead, but my first book, Bleeding Kansas is still available. It’s not your typical “the zombies came, we shot them” tale. If you’re truly fed up with things as they are and would love to see someone hit the reset button and make things interesting for a change, this is for you.

My critics say, “There’s no one to root for!” I quote Charles Bukowski: “If I bet on humanity, I’d never cash a ticket.” Check out what all the attitude cops, the Think Positive! slaves, the tone trolls, and other weeshes are whining about!

Grace Among the Dead: Book 2 of The Saga of the Dead Silencer 
Copyright © 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.


They Were Fleeing the Coming Storm...

...yet found only DEATH!
From MotiFake.

The worst is when they slip through the grill and into the radiator front—where they cook.


Breaking Badly

Dammit! Aren’t you supposed to be the one who knocks?

So, uh...what’d ya bring me?


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Last Sunday in April, One Week Out of Easter

Your irregular cavalcade of fussin’ and complainin’ for Week 17! 

I have no idea how I came into possession of this.
It’s the medium weight I prefer and I can find it
in the dark, so it’s been my go-to pick when I’ve got
the urge to bang on my 1976 Yamaha acoustic.
It’s functional and ironic, the way God planned it!
Last Sunday was the convergence of stoner culture’s 4/20 and Easter Sunday, prompting plaintive whines in the Letters to the Editor and comments sections on online news sites. Marijuana is “in our faces” complained one on the ABC affiliate’s site in Colorado Springs, KRDO.com, and what a shame it is that Easter isn’t celebrated more that a stoner “holiday.”

Even back in my Young Believer days I found it incongruous that Easter didn’t get the same treatment Christmas did. Christmas is the one day of the year in which (almost) everything stops. (It’s becoming less and less such. As of last year, Thanksgiving semi-officially became just another day at work for the retail sector. We’ve been slippin’ down that slippery slope for a while now.) Easter is when everyone piles into the car to go to church—for many, it’s the only time they go all year—and then hits the restaurants. If you work at an Applebee’s or somesuch, fuck you and your holy day. Get your sorry peasant ass into work and wait on these Good People with better jobs! 

After that, it’s just another Sunday. If you’re lucky, as I was on an Easter 40 years ago, you go straight from church and drive to a rented beach house in Garden City, South Carolina, where you’ll spend Spring Break week breathing salt air, body surfing, and grooving to another radio station. (This is from my Top Five favorite childhood memories. You’re welcome.)

Am I the only one who detects a strain of pathetic butthurt when these churches put up “Easter Is the Reason for the Season” signs at Christmas? Well, “ain’t that America!” is all I gotta say. Love it or leave it—or, if you’re like me, try and ignore it, because nothing is sacred, save what’s in your own heart. You’re only making a nuisance of yourself tilting at these windmills. Don Quixote was first and foremost a fool, a parody of a hero. Never forget.

AUUUGGH! It’s in my face! IT’S IN MY FAAAACE!
As for 4/20, it struck me as very subdued this year in Colorado. Of course, April is a terrible time of year to plan anything here, because the weather on the eastern slope of the Rockies can turn from pleasant to miserable to plain annoying in a matter of minutes. The public smoke-outs always struck me as stupid and in-your-face, but I didn’t read or hear as much about them this year. Even the local dispensaries in Colorado Springs seemed to regard it as a wearisome chore, and the “specials” they ran were nothing special, not like three years ago when the local legal industry was only two years old and dispensaries were all but giving their product away in order to bring in new customers. Now the customer base is established. Everyone has their loyalties, based on either proximity or price. There was absolutely none of the festival feel from years past. 

As for people coming in from out of state, I wouldn’t know. The elderly elders who rule Colorado Springs don’t allow recreational sales, despite the county’s popular vote to ratify Amendment 64. “Pot tourists” went mainly to Denver or Pueblo.  Here’s hoping Pueblo is able to break its reality/image as a depressed former steel town and gets the real green love from marijuana tourism. Everyone has to have a reason to exist. Much love to Tommy Chong for coming to visit, and even invest in the scene there.  He could have gone to Denver, but it was the poorest and most maligned town in Colorado outside of Greeley that he blessed with his presence. Not everyone is an asshole; who knew? That’s news I can use!
Look on the bright side, citizen! Your loss is this photographer’s Pulitzer!
(You should be grateful you weren’t photographed crying.)
It seems every time I sit down to watch the national news the top story is always the weather. Tonight was no exception. Speaking of 40 years ago, that Super Outbreak of tornadoes that terrorized half the country the night of 3 April 1974 is about to be taken down another peg—or at least that’s what all the Teleprompter readers on the propaganda networks seem to be hoping. A nightmare of severe weather from a slow moving system will torment the southeastern US for the entire working week.  NBC and ABC had reporters in Little Rock, because they’re expected to get the worst of it tonight. Those toothy, grinning bastards and bitches are hoping for the worst. Cash, prizes, and possible awards for best disaster porn “reporting” swing before their overpaid faces, while everyone else faces misery and terror and loss. Hooray for the Fourth Estate!

The second biggest thing in the news is the professional basketball team owner who got recorded telling his weird-looking pet piece of ass not to bring black people to “his” games. Oh, the humanity! A racist old white person!

Sticking it to the man isn’t a mere matter of
black and white. Besides, you’re not his
girlfriend. You’re just a couple of paying peasants! 
Left out in the Old White Man Crimethink narrative is the sense that the players who make this ugly old man his billions owe him for the opportunity to make them those billions, and get relative crumbs back in return. He gave them the houses and the cars and stuff; they didn’t earn it with their sweat on the court. They owe him.

It’s the same detail that’s glossed over in the Angry Old White Rancher case in Nevada—he’s evil because he used the word Negro several times over the course of several paragraphs of hilariously ignorant amateur sociology. Not because he’s a wealthy old parasite who, like most wealthy old parasites, feels entitled to use other people’s land (ours, the taxpayers) to graze his cattle.

Bottom line: these men are castigated for not knowing much about, or caring much for, black people. But to criticize them for being wealthy old parasites who feel entitled to the fruits of the labors of others, or their property, is the true American doubleplusbad crimethink. It’s so doubleplusbad it’s not even mentioned.

Meanwhile, some religious types no doubt noticed that the canonization of two late popes by two living popes this morning was afforded maybe 20 seconds notice, if not left out of the newscast entirely.

Me, I notice that jobs are still impossible to come by, that the Great Recession is the new status quo, it’s not going away...I notice a lot of things. Meanwhile, a movie star who swore he’d never get married got engaged to some horse-faced aristocrat who speaks three languages, studied at Oxford, and is involved in various “causes” that help no one but the CEOs and boards of the various organizations. “Is she the real star?” read the mighty warrior for the Fourth Estate on ABC’s World News Tonight.

Jesus God, am I the only one who looks at the TV and wonders where the people who look like me and everyone else I know is? I suppose I am. And I’ll leave that windmill alone if I know what’s good for me. Which I don’t, most of the time.
In other news, I had my best week on Twitter yet. I actually got some new followers—getting retweeted by Zombie Response Authority helped a bit.

That’s the kind of positive stuff I should be focusing on. Now let’s see if any of them drop my opinionated old ass because I’m putting this post up.

I’ll try and get some more excerpts up from my zombie trilogy up. Fictional mayhem among undead monsters is so much more fun than the depressing horseshit that passes for mass culture in this benighted empire in decline.
Ain’t no secret with me. Bring on the sublime terrors of the Ambulatory Deceased!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Up with Dead People!

Has it been a week already since I posted? Time flies when you’re ass-deep in fictional dead people. Here’s a snippet of conversation from Chapter 2 of Grace Among the Dead, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”:

“Oh, crap. You left a group behind, didn’t you?”

She can’t meet my eyes. “We…they were starving. Everyone sees you all brave and playing like it’s some crazy kung-fu movie, just coming and going as you please.”

“And no one steps out to introduce themselves?”

“There’s always those…people around.”

“What people? You mean the yellow ones? Or the green ones? The gray, or the off-white and bluish-tinged ones? Let’s hear it for diversity! Here, the rainbow tastes you!”

Which leads me to wonder, whatever happened to United Colors of Bennetton? I remember their posters all over New York City in 1985. 

Screw it. Back to the zombie mines....

If you haven’t read Grace Among the Dead‘s predecessor in the Dead Silencer series, Bleeding Kansas, it’s available in Kindle for the price of a happy hour draft. It’s five o’clock somewhere....

Diversity! It’s what’s for dinner!

Grace Among the Dead: Book 2 of The Saga of the Dead Silencer
Copyright © 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Remembering BAD FRIDAY: The Dark Resurrection!

A preview from GRACE AMONG THE DEAD!

The following passage is from Chapter 10 of my second book in the DEAD SILENCER series, Grace Among the Dead. In Bleeding Kansas, Derek Grace witnessed the events of Bad Friday on a lounge bar television in a locked and secure Kansas City hotel. Here, in Grace Among the Dead, our hero hears the story from someone who was at one of the many Z-Day Ground Zeros in Derek Grace’s hometown of Colorado Springs.

I’m relating Pastor Isaac Bryce’s story through Derek Grace’s voice, but that may end up being changed to a straight-up first person recounting by Pastor Bryce. Derek Grace’s narrative voice comes easily to me, and that easiness alone is a red flag. On the other hand, I also have the advantage of Grace filling in the details and coloring them in a way the pastor would (or could) not, because he’s a truly good-hearted guy, while Grace is, well, Grace. No one does color commentary in the zombie apocalypse like Derek Grace:

Like everyone else, Abundant Life’s people had cases in which the early mortalities came back, so they knew it could happen. Like everyone, else, though, they weren’t prepared for the mass die-off—or what happened on what the people now call Bad Friday.

That was the Friday afternoon Pastor Wilkinson stood before the assembled multitude on a portable stage erected along the large, flat, undeveloped lot adjacent Abundant Life’s chapel. Abundant Life had hoped to build a Christian school on the land. Now it was a necropolis, the final resting place of 3,000 and more victims of the Final Flu. With a wireless mic in his suit jacket, and all the strength he could muster after watching his own wife struggle and die hours before, Pastor Wilkinson conducted the ecumenical service over the mass interment (no one wanted to call it a “burial”) for this corner of northeastern Colorado Springs.

The 3,000 lay wrapped in sheets before five long trenches gouged deep into the rocky, sandy soil overlooking the Interstate. Over half of these were already in the trenches when they began the service. The city wanted to time the final collection of remains to halfway through the service. The police, working with volunteers in bright yellow vests, would start herding the mourners towards the parking area immediately upon the completion of the service as the ‘dozers began filling in the trenches.

Everyone from the church leadership was there. They either worked the edges of the crowd, offering counseling, prayer, and cold bottled water—or else they were laid out with Pastor Wilkinson’s wife, Zack’s mother and girlfriend, among the thousands awaiting interment.

The main thing Zack Bryce remembered from those calm-before-the-storm moments was how everyone was so tired. That flash of sickness, the quick sting of death over the course one very bad week had left everyone feeling numb and hollowed out.

Yet in that hollow created by the shock and loss stood a flicker of anxious hope, the (almost) guiltless pleasure that comes from looking forward to the Next Thing. Whatever this Next Thing was, it stood to reason it wouldn’t have anything to do with the sickness, misery, and loss of the world before. This large-scale burial was strange and sad, just like the week that brought it on. And like the week that brought it on, it would soon be over.
“We were all ready to move on. Bury our dead, go back to our empty homes, pick up the pieces and get on with it,” says Bryce.

He sighs. “We had no idea what a blessed luxury that notion was.”

No one left alive knows who was first to kick his way out of his winding sheet. Bryce remembers him as sporting a nice, albeit rumpled suit, and rising inconveniently towards the middle of the long line of bodies waiting to be lowered in.

“They were just shooting, not even hitting him!” says Bryce. “Some poor woman a row back got hit and fell and that only stopped the shooting for a second before it started up again. The guy kept stumbling forward.”

The man’s foot slammed into another body. She jolted upright, her head jerking about her shoulders, her arms flailing, as if abruptly awakened. A low hum came from his lips. It built into a louder moaning as the other bodies about him matched his frequency, squirming and thrashing out of their sheets. Reveille for the dead. Like an army arising from its tents.

Zack remembers the slugs finally exploding into the man’s main body mass, the way he roared with inhuman rage as he staggered backwards against their impact. Hollow-point rounds caused great sections of his back to burst away, to the horror of all who watched, yet he still would not fall.

He was staggering backwards against the impacts, though, as as he did hands began reaching over the lip of the trench behind him. One more shot sent him tumbling backwards into the wriggling forest of undead fingers.

Others who had begun standing with the man fell after him into the trench as the rifle fire concentrated on their general location. All who fell suffered the indignity of their fellows planting their bare feet into their faces and bodies for a better reach over the edge. The heads of these more aggressive ones would emerge over the top, and maybe (but not always) a shooter could drop it. But their fall made it easier for the ones behind them.

Remains of the living and undead carpeted the field like torn, bleeding sandbags, providing cover for those last waves climbing from the trenches. “You saw little puffs of red-brown mist where the slugs ripped through the fallen bodies,” says Bryce. “It was just one blood-slicked mass of bleeding body mass in places. You couldn’t see where one individual…person…began or ended.”

He’s quiet for a moment. Then: “One of those things was my own mother. I thank God I have no memory of seeing her that day. I recognized some people, the way their faces looked told you it wasn’t them. It was more than a disease. It was something evil. If someone was to suggest demonic possession, I’d have a hard time arguing against it.”

This gets even bloodier and more horrifically violent as it goes along. I’m such a sucker for a good Z-Day story I’ll have to have a tale in the third book, too. 

In case you missed the embedded link above, Bleeding Kansas, the first installment in my trilogy, is available in Kindle and paperback. Kindle apps for PCs and Macs and smartphones are free, so you don’t need the tablet.
Grace Among the Dead: Book 2 of The Saga of the Dead Silencer 
Copyright © 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.


This Helpful Chart Is Useless

...if you’re downtown Friday night, because most everyone is doing one thing or another from it. You may recognize a few of these. You may even be one of these:
I can’t take credit for this, nor do I know who can. I don’t even remember where I got this from.

Keep it cool out in the field this weekend. Remember, starve a cop, call a cab. And don’t let any of these things too close. This could very well be Z-day’s first Night of the Ambulatory Deceased, and you missed it because it’s too damn loud in the bar.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tasty Tots on Plates

Most won’t get this one. It was in the late 1970s or early 1980s when an Australian woman got in trouble for losing her infant child. She swore up and down a dingo (wild Australian dog) grabbed her baby and ran away with it. 

To everyone’s horror, this turned out to be true. This fine citizen honors the Circle of Life as it’s observed Down Under  with a clever combination of custom license frame and custom plate:

Of all the states I’ve lived in, Virginia was the worst. I’m glad someone made something out of the ridiculous taxes and fees there, and at least got a decent license plate out of it.

 The bloody Blair Witch handprints really sell it. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Meditation on a Blood Moon

I’ve run this Henry Rollins passage before in the context of some emotionally oversaturated “current affairs” media drama. It must have looked like screaming-at-the-TV lunacy to any poor soul who came across it, no doubt looking for something to read about tonight’s Blood Moon.

So, I’ll delete that post and let this stand instead. The following is from Henry Rollins’ book Solipsist, and too important to throw away. Listen:

The moon will never lie to anyone. Be like the moon. No one hates the moon or wants to kill it. The moon does not take antidepressants and never gets sent to prison. The moon never shot a guy in the face and ran away. The moon has been around a long time and has never tried to rip anyone off. The moon does not care who you want to touch or what color you are. The moon treats everyone the same. The moon never tries to get in on the guest list or use your name to impress others. Be like the moon. When others insult or belittle in an attempt to elevate themselves, the moon sits passively and watches, never lowering itself to anything that weak. The moon is beautiful and bright. It needs no makeup to look beautiful. The moon never shoves clouds out of its way so it can be seen. The moon needs not fame or money to be powerful. The moon never asks you to go to war to defend it. Be like the moon.*

It’s a mantra to live by.
From Space.com. Follow the link and learn how freaky this lunar tetrad stuff really is. Tonight will begin one of NINE tetrads this century, which is significant, because from A.D. 1300 to 1900 there were NONE. Six hundred years, a few in the 20th century, and the 21st century hits the jackpot. IMPORTANT: Times in the graphic are UT, or Greenwich Mean Time. The eclipse gets going at 2 a.m. EDT, which means midnight where I am in Colorado. Folks on the Left Coast won’t have to miss as much sleep, as it will start at 11 p.m. there.

*Solipsist Copyright © 2009, 2013 by Henry Rollins. I’d link to the book but Colorado isn’t on the Amazon affiliates program, so look it up yourself if you’re interested.

The Big Box Store as Post-Apocalyptic Fortress

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, the Dark Resurrection, etc. First of a probable series, if I’m motivated enough.

This was on George Takei’s Facebook page, so I expect everyone has seen it already:

I have several problems with this. The first that comes to mind is the zombies do have memberships at my local Costco. People bitch about Walmart shoppers but the most inconsiderate, aisle-blocking, slow-ass slugs shop where I go for coffee, kitty litter, and toilet paper in bulk. If it wasn’t for the breaks I get on these items I’d have let my membership lapse a long time ago. 

Nothing on the company, mind you. The mindless hordes that go there, however, are a crash course in the most passionate misanthropy. Do you suffer from a naturally sunny disposition? Pushing your cart through these milling human cattle on a Friday afternoon, when the Food Sample Ladies are out in force, will clear that right up.

You’re going to have a hell of a time clearing these former shoppers out—in the dark, because you likely won’t have electricity. You’ll need to bring the steel doors down for security from the hordes outdoors, too. It’s okay, though. Whatever’s there in the store with you is sure to find you, so just sit tight and get ready to dance. In the dark. 
The reason for steel doors in one handy visual. In real life that glass front would bow in on its frames from the weight alone in, oh, 15 seconds? If this is what you’re seeing you might as well be pouring steak sauce on yourself. See ya in hell, son; I gotta go....

As always in these apocalypses, your fellow survivors are as much of a danger as the living dead. A big box store full of supplies and food is a prime target for the more aggressive looters and wannabe warlords.  Your best hope for protection is a lot of zombies in the parking lot, enough to swarm all but the largest and most heavily armed of groups.
Think of this as a moat full of snapping crocodiles. It’s better than any number of mall cops.
Of course, most things are.

Sure as sunrise, though, that biggest and most heavily armed group will come. You’ll want to be long gone when they show up, too. As far as they’re concerned, you’re the one squatting on their stuff, and they won’t take kindly to that. What scares me most is they might want to play with you a bit before they actually kill you. Yeah, let’s not go there....

You may (or not) have noticed the two stills from George A. Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead. In Romero’s definitive survival-among-the-undead film, his survivors take a helicopter and land on a shopping mall. The mall still has electricity, but they still have to clear it out and secure the entrances. It’s perilous work. And, in the end—SPOILER ALERT!—it’s all for nothing.

Before the inevitable gang comes busting through the barricades, letting the hordes outside back in, the survivors are already losing their minds to boredom. They’re surrounded by everything you’d think anyone ever could want, from jewelry to clothes to money—and like the latter in any collapsed economy, it’s all worthless. That’s the ultimate statement on the consumer mentality right there. Not the zombies. Indeed, the zombies are the only thing that gives our heroes lives meaning, because the dead force you to fight for the only thing that means anything, i.e., your life.

All such philosophical happy-crap aside, consider that our heroes in Dawn of the Dead had a brightly lit shopping mall to run around in. Sam’s Clubs and Costcos and the like are big, but not that big, let alone so cheerfully appointed. Also, you’ll be without electricity. You’ll be trying on all those discount clothes by camp lantern light, until you either run out of batteries or the ones there simply go bad.

Which they will, along with the food. Canned food, contrary to popular belief, does not last forever. There’s a handy Web site called StillTasty: Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide for your further education. Avail yourself of this knowledge while there’s still an Internet. Sure, the canned stuff lasts years. But one month is already a couple of weeks too long to be cooped up in a dark box.

Bottom line: you’ll likely be driven off by the darkness and the claustrophobia long before the food goes bad or the warlords show up, so never mind. If you’re not, you probably have a death wish anyway.
Psst...I write zombie thrillers. You like post-apocalyptic adventure? Right here, kid. I got some stuff.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Late Saturday Night with Rob Zombie

I’m slaughtering paragraphs, compressing chapters, and lovingly detailing my zombie fights in Grace Among the Dead when this comes up on my shuffle. You can’t go wrong with a good ol’ country classic. It’s got me fired up and good to go for another couple of hours: 

Here’s hoping your late Saturday night is going as well. Remember, starve a cop, call a cab!

And if you need some hot zombie apocalypse action with the ultimate Mr. Bad Attitude anti-hero to pass the hangover, I’ve got the Rx right here!


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Some Corpses Are Better Than Others

Aw, come on, y’all. She’s not just another dead body littering the forest floor. She’s in a rather nice bower—and looking very nice for a dead lady. It’s not like he jumped up there and starting humping her cold remains. Nor did she rise up at the waist and chew his face off. It was a good day.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Dead Children Have No Problem Staying Still for Pictures

Once again, my Facebook timeline comes through in the clutch and I can break my dry spell with something worth promoting by way of letting people know I’m still in the game. Or something. Actually, I’m still in the basement. I’ve turned a 103K narrative into a 100K narrative and that’s just Act One, “Decision Points.” Act Two proves a tougher nut to crack but—well, you get the picture. I’m on the case with Grace Among the Dead. He’s cleaning up really nice, too.

Let’s take a break and look at some disturbing photographs. 

Locked Illusions Photography and Digital Artistry is based out of Houston if you’re in the mood for a really different kind of family photo for the grandparents. Zombies are only part of what they do, but they do them very well. Especially the children.

You don’t often see undead children but when you do, it’s a mess.  Not having a lot of mass and meat to begin with, they’re usually thoroughly gnawed over when they’re not (as is most often the case) pulled apart entirely.

These aren’t even the goriest or most disturbing ones. These are, shall we say...the cutest.
Only two walked away from that maddest of mad tea parties. I particularly like how the photographer nailed the washed-out lighting that whisper-screams, “It’s over!” for the living.

No bite marks. I’m guessing she died of starvation and terror, locked in a closet, looking through the slats in the door as the undead ate her family.

Elegance and style aren’t just for vampires, as our Ghastly Trio of fine dead young things demonstrate here.

What I like about the zombies here is their eyes look like the way I imagine them in Bleeding Kansas and Grace Among the Dead: whited over, as if dried for lack of moisturizing tears, and coated with dust. Dead people don’t blink. That said, they can still see movement.

“I love giving my Nana kisses. She’s the best!” 

“Uh, does your Mommy know you’re out here in the yard? Where IS your Mommy?”

Strawberries are always close to Strawberry Dreadlock's heart.

All photographs Copyright © 2014 by Locked Illusions Photography.

Grace Among the Dead: Book 2 of The Saga of the Dead Silencer
Copyright © 2014 
by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Another Murdered Darling

Most remember the line differently, myself included, but when I looked up William Faulkner’s quote, what I got from multiple places was, In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

Here, my murdered beloved is this excerpt from Chapter 5 of Grace Among the Dead, “Sweat Lodge.” I found myself forced to remove this passage detailing Derek Grace’s escape from his now-deserted former home in north Colorado Springs because I couldn’t make the transitions in and out of the flashback work as smoothly as I liked. It also went on too long, hobbling the narrative rhythm.

Fortunately, I have a blog so good stuff like this won’t go to waste. If this is the kind of stuff I’m throwing out, I can’t complain. The rewrite is going very well.

Here’s the setup: Off-camera, and between books 1 and 2 in the Dead Silencer series, Derek Grace arrived at his Colorado Springs home only to find it empty, with a three-page note from his daughter telling him the general location where they’ve gone—as well as detailing the final hours of his wife Claire’s life as she succumbed to the Final Flu.

As the neighborhood is infested with the hungry dead Grace sneaks out the back door of his house, flanking the small mob at his front door. He barely makes it into his truck. 

Roll clip:

I drove as fast as I dared along the western edge of the park abutting my son’s old elementary school. The park where we used to throw ball, the broad, steep hill we slid down in the winter. The wide green field was dotted with jaundiced ex-humans, their arms swinging limply from their shoulders as they hiked one leg in front, then another. However damaged and mindless, they were locked in on the sound of my truck.

I swerved through the remains of my former neighbors as they piled out of their yards to send me off, through the thicket of dirty, grasping hands. It’s just as well I didn’t know these people. Like most good Americans, my family kept to themselves. I avoided my neighbors then; we’re definitely avoiding them now. 

I blazed through the three-way stop at Austin Bluffs before skidding into the intersection at Woodmen Road, just missing the abandoned police car parked in the middle. A blue-green corona of shattered safety glass fanned out from the smeared and dented hulk like confectionary sugar garnishing a dessert. The front tires were flat, the front end caved in as if so many bodies had piled themselves atop. Which they likely had.

I steered into the eastbound lanes of Woodmen and gunned the truck up that last high, terraced ridge separating the foothills of the Rockies from the eastern Colorado plains. The hospital straddles the spine of this ridge, and I eased my foot from the pedal as I approached. 

The Life Flight helicopter was gone from its pad. Aside from a few scattered wads of blankets and some dark stains on the concrete there was no sign of all the people Sybil reported laid out around the emergency room. No shattered glass, but I noticed the double glass doors standing wide open to darkness and God knows what else.

Jesus, Claire. All these years, everything we went through. Just to end up here. And for what?

To think maybe it began again for you here…. 

The grunt of an approaching walker brought me back to the present. I looked over, half-fearing it might be…no. Just some poor bastard who got caught on the job at the home improvement store down the hill and across the street. Pieces of his face stained his orange apron. I hit the gas and sped away. 

Don’t get comfortable.
This set and others available from It’s Alive! Designs.
I drove as far out as Falcon, turning on a side road a few blocks up from the intersection with US 24. Somehow I found Hidden Farm. How I caught that opening in the trees, the total lack of opposition from living or dead, I might have called it a gift from God, if I believed in that sort of thing. It was getting dark. I had just enough time to get my bags and some cans of food inside.

I slept on the floor that first night. When I got up the next day I discovered I had running water. I showered, washed my clothes. I walked around. I assessed security, and hid my truck in the barn. I set my living area up so I could grab everything quickly and go. Then I made my biggest mistake.

I got comfortable.

Grace Among the Dead: Book 2 of The Saga of the Dead Silencer
Copyright © 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.

And in case you missed Part 1 of the Saga, here’s Bleeding Kansas! (Apologies for the shameless plug, but I’ve got a family to feed. Unlike the dead, we’re really into that shelter and electricity and clean running water thing, too.)


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Missed Anniversaries

The usual thing to say is “last month went by so fast!” but that doesn’t ring true. It just...went. In a weird, blowing fog of days and nights. And here we are, ready to slam the coffin lid on the second day of April 2014.

A lot of milestones passed unremarked last month. They would have made great blog posts, but March was dedicated to finishing Grace Among the Dead. Which I came within one page of doing before shutting down.

I’ve just finished rewriting the first act. I’m moving on to the second act tomorrow. I have a lot of inconsistencies to address, loose ends to burn off, and that’s all I can say about it, save that the first act has that professional shine I’ve been fighting for all along.

So. Let’s note these milestones:

9 March marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Charles Bukowski. I’m surprised I didn’t see more about this on the Internet. It’s just as well. The Great Bukowski belongs to his readers—and those readers who truly appreciate him live in an America that doesn’t spend all day futzing around on the Internet, if at all. It’s called “work,” people. The people who thunder most loudly about the “value” of it have no idea what it’s about.

I will not lament the death of The Last Poet Who Ever Mattered—Bukowski was 74 years old, and had lived longer than he or anyone might expect for the hard life he had lived. His death was the happy ending some would say he had no right to. He died indoors, not in an alley. He had good hospital care, which, by this point, he could actually afford. 

Moreover, Bukowski died in the company of the two women who loved him most, his wife Linda, and his daughter. He did not die alone.

Who loves you, baby?

11 March marked two important anniversaries for me. Well, maybe not that important, as I had to look up the date. It turns out the third birthday of this blog fell on the first anniversary of Gary Lucas sending me the e-mail inviting me to bring Bleeding Kansas to Severed Press. I would turn in the signed contract on the 13th.

That’s all I have for now. The second act of Grace Among the Dead beckons. I will finish this, or I will die. That is all there is to it.

Enjoy what’s left of the evening.
I’ve sworn not to drink another drop of beer until I finish Grace Among the Dead. Which is another reason I’m losing my fucking mind right now, but the whip must be cracked.