Sunday, July 26, 2015

Looking Beyond This Halloween, Here Before You Know It

I’m looking forward to scaring up some old-fashioned supernatural horror when I’m done with my SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER series. Cranking up the fog machines, the atmosphere, the many moods of the lost souls as they take care of business from beyond the veil of the living. It’s downright heroic, when you think about it, even if a bunch of people in the wrong house do end up getting killed...or worse. Bring the spooky!
Lifted from the Halloween: All Hallows Eve Facebook page.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

FEAR the Late July Heat!

Poor guy. He was just poking his head outside the door for a quick weather report. Now he’s the poster child for a late summer TV horror series. 

For those saying they wished there really was a zombie apocalypse, remember: there is no electricity, and therefore NO AIR CONDITIONING in the zombie apocalypse. Think about this, please. And God bless our HVAC technicians. They are the MVPs of all humanity in this most extreme of seasons.

Thursday, July 16, 2015



Episode 5: “Their oozing stumps, their foul teeth”

(Episode 4)  (Episode 3)  (Episode 2)  (Episode 1)

Setup: We’re one week into the zombie apocalypse. Our zombie-fighting hero, Derek Grace, has been put in charge of a grab-and-go mission at the local Wal-Mart. Hijinks ensue.

We burst through the swinging doors to find the freezer door still open and Randy and Timcat on the loading dock fighting off the former citizens of Natalia, Kansas. The stinking mob is pressed against the lip of the five-foot concrete dock, reaching and grasping. The white truck backed against the stairs makes it difficult for them to come up at us from that angle, but not impossible. The Goth kid in the long black coat swings away at their exposed arms. He flips the blade and backswings to take off their heads. Yeah, definitely more than three at once.

But there are so many of them. Their combined moaning is so loud we can hardly hear one another.

“Reckon we shoulda minded the time, huh, boss?” Timcat yells over the racket.

I run to the edge of the dock and begin swinging, hacking through their upraised arms. I have to swing deep enough into the horde so I can hammer at the skulls of the ones up front without getting grabbed by ambitious outliers shoving their way towards me. Hammering at their skulls requires my getting on my knees to reach over and pop them and I don’t like that as a defensive position at all. They swing at me with their oozing stumps, snap at me with their foul teeth. I wish I had two hammers; it’d go a lot quicker. 

The bodies fall, and now the rows behind them have something to stand on. I’m able to take their outstretched arms off closer to the shoulder. When this new row falls backwards it knocks down the former citizens coming up behind them. It’s hard standing on a corpse, with the skin slipping and ripping beneath their feet. Once the bodies get two rows deep towards the back, a pale thing in a tracksuit attempts standing on the fallen ones furthest back. He pitches forward and cracks his forehead open on the concrete lip of the dock before I have a chance to do anything with him.

I take advantage of the buffer of fallen bodies to stand back. “This isn’t getting any better,” I say. “We’re either going to jump in our trucks and go, or plan to be stuck here until our arms wear out.”

“Whatchoo think we oughta do?” says Timcat.

“Who had the gun? I heard gunfire.”

“Ain’t nobody here got a gun,” says Timcat. “Someone was horsin’ around there at the bottom of the west side of the parking lot. It’s drawin’ all these things to us.”

“I got a gun,” says Krystal.


“Right here,” she says, pulling a 9mm Glock from her purse. “It was in the glove compartment of the truck. I’m sorry.”

I take the Glock from her. Just like the one I had in Kansas City. Might well be same one, I don’t know.

“There was an extra one of these that went with it,” says Krystal, handing over a magazine. Thank the dark gods, it’s full.

“Good job, Krystal. Here, take these,” I say, handing her the truck keys. “I’ve got an idea.” 

“If this don’t work, we’re fucked,” says Timcat.

“Shit, ya think?” says Randy.

Goth kid cries out. His arm has been caught by an alert young woman who brings the full unrelenting force of rigor mortis into her bite. He drops his katana. It’s seized by pale blue grasping hands and pulled into the swarm.

“Goddamn it!” I run down the steep loading dock steps. I have to chop through a forest of fingers and hands clawing from the rail. I backslash off the woman’s head and pull Goth boy away, careful to hug the wall on our way back up.

“Marta! Timcat! Somebody mind this gap. Whoever’s got the keys to the white truck, have ‘em ready!”

I pull Goth boy out just as a little boy crawls up the stairs in his filthy pajamas. Marta takes the boy’s head off with her machete and kicks it towards the crowd at the lip of the dock. It hits a white bearded man in the face, knocks him back before tumbling into a dark forest of dead, shit-stained legs.

Marta turns towards the stairs where the only thing holding back the mob is their sheer numbers trying to get over and around the flatbed of the pickup and cram onto the narrow stairs. “Whatever the hell it is you think you’re doin’ please do it quick.”

“Randy, Timcat! Who’s driving the white pickup?”

“I am,” say Randy.

“Don’t drive your load to Kerch’s place. Take it directly to the high school.”


“Because I said so. Unless you don’t like eating. I gotta go.”

One thing about our focus towards the stairs is that the mob is massing at this corner. This gives me room to make a run for the other side of the dock. I won’t have time to butt-scooch over and let myself down nicely. I’ve got to move. And pray I don’t break a leg doing this.

First edition. Available
only in paperback.
NEXT: You gotta buy the book to find out! Crazy as it sounds, there are three editions of Bleeding Kansas, and they differ in more than just their covers. The first edition contains more overtly misanthropic observations from Grace about the people and even the undead around him, some of which apparently hit some reviewers where they live. It also contains the death of a special-needs child that really upset some others. The child dies because Tanner is an asshole, but people blamed my hero Derek Grace, then me, for being fucking heartless, or whatever. Because innocents don’t die in zombie apocalypses, only people who have it coming. Or who can defend themselves. Or whatever.

Second edition, in Kindle
and in paperback.
So I rewrote the book. Six pages fell away as I niced it up for sensitive readers. We slapped a new cover on it and figured we could leave the bitchy reviews behind. Although the reaction to the new version hasn’t been all that bad, it seems we got more positive vibes from those discerning readers who expect a properly violent and nasty apocalypse than not. When I finish the third book in the series (yes, the second is already out) I’ll restore the child’s death and some of the misanthropic snark, in the course of making the Ultimate Version. If the death of special-needs children bothers you, if angry people make you feel uncomfortable, this is the version for you. 

The third edition is the German language version. Luzifer Verlag thought enough of this book to buy it and translate it. Looking to brush up on your foreign language skills? Are you a native German speaker? This one has the best cover of them all!

Here’s hoping you enjoyed this series. I have other excerpts from my books available here.




Episode 4: Fatty foods are bad for dead and living alike

(Episode 3)  (Episode 2)  (Episode 1)

Setup: We’re one week into the zombie apocalypse. Our zombie-fighting hero, Derek Grace, has been put in charge of a grab-and-go mission at the local Wal-Mart. Hijinks ensue.

I’m jogging down the middle of the aisle, rounding the corner of the Men’s section. I find my size in boxers and grab five three-packs. I pick up some socks and colored T-shirts. I need something to carry this so I step out into the broad main aisle between the main goods and the checkout lanes and look for the chrome tree with the cloth shopping bags. There’s one by the outside corner near the shuttered entrance.

Now I’ve got one arm free. Time to find Marta. I see movement in the pharmacy area. I jog down the aisle and find myself face to rotting face with the most distressed-looking dead person I’ve seen yet. 

He’s in his late teens. I don’t see the terror of his death so much as he looks…green. His chin-to-crotch gore bib glistens with bright yellow gobbets like crumbs of wet rancid popcorn. He staggers towards me. I swing the panga but instead of taking off his upraised arms—which he doesn’t seem to have strength to raise—I slash his throat clear back to the spinal column. The rust-brown corpse gravy oozes thickly through the flap, his already discolored face paling visibly as it leaves his skull. 

I don’t want to step up to him without first taking off his arms and he won’t hold them up for me. Dropping my bag I put both hands to the handle of my panga and swing a hard chopping blow between his shoulder and elbow on either side. His limbs tumble to the linoleum, rank blood splats from his stumps. Instead of charging me in a rage, though, he backs off, moaning miserably. I draw my hammer, switch hands with my panga. I do the same snare drum snap with the hammer as I’d done with the girl. He falls to his knees and maybe I’m seeing things but his dead mottled face looks relieved.

“Another one of those, huh?” says a sharp-toned female voice behind me. I turn to see Marta, carrying a cloth shopping bag of her own. “I dropped four of ‘em on my way here. Looked sick as dogs.”

I’m looking around the pharmacy area. It occurs to me I might need something while I’m here.

“Don’t even think about it,” says Marta. “I got all the good shit.”

“Good for you,” I say. I go to the vitamins and start scooping bottles of Vitamin C supplements into my bag.

“What the hell you want all that for?”

I go to the aspirin aisle and scoop the shelves there. I consider getting another bag, maybe a cart. On the other hand, there’s plenty of places to loot between here and Colorado Springs. We really need to finish this up and hit the road….

“Wait,” Marta says as I turn to go. I stop and she runs up to me. I resume walking as she catches up. “Look, you don’t have to be all anti-social and stuff. I’m not gonna give you grief like those other little show-offy shits.”

“Nice to know. I take it you’re not bothering with the ice?”

“Fuck that. Old Man Kerch got plenty of ice and everything where he is. We’ll get the runty and the rotten and the leftovers down at the high school, like since we got corralled in there.”

“You’re telling me this?”

“C’mon. Everyone knows you don’t wanna be here. Including Kerch, I imagine. Better watch your shit, is all I’m sayin’. By the way, was that you hollerin’ a few minutes ago?”

“I thought all you were saying was I’d better watch my shit.”

“Hey, look, those four I killed? I’m not sayin’ I took ‘em on at once. I mean, I’m not sayin’ you—”

“Shhh! Listen!”

It’s a heavy flop-slide, flop-slide. A clattering as the thing gets caught in one of the circular racks of clothing.

“Oh, God,” says Marta. “That thing sounds huge.”

The morbidly obese woman pushes aside the racks like a squat Tyrannosaurus Rex pushing aside trees to get to its prey. Her curly white hair is a nauseous pale yellow from the dead scalp showing beneath but at least the rest of her looks more or less normal. That is, normal about her head. Discounting the red, gore-clotted teeth and mouth, and the rage to rip, rend, and feast in her face.

The rest of her as seen through the streaming rags of her muumuu is a horrible sea of red-yellow holes in a wide ocean of pale, quivering flesh. Globs of rank, yellow fat fall from some of the wounds, especially the one opened in that broad, naked fleshslide flopping over her privates.

“God, no!” and now it’s Marta’s turn to surrender her breakfast.

I bring the panga up and slice it hard through the middle of the woman’s skull. It goes in but not deep enough; it’s sticking. Her arms reach out for me and I lean into the blade and push her back. The blade slices further down the middle of her face, squeaking through the groove it carves through her skull. Finally all 300 pounds of this woman spill over. We jump back barely in time as glistening fatty tissue like bright yellow corn kernels in red gelatin bursts forth from all those bite wounds, ripped wider by the heavy woman’s impact to the floor.

Marta is coughing and spitting. “Goddamn zombie shit!”

“Yeah, that explains the sick ones,” I say through the hand cupped over my face. We’re already moving away from the massive spill on Aisle Get Me the Fuck Outta Here.

“Huh?” says Marta.

“The sick ones with the yellow down their fronts. They’ve been eating the stuff they shit. Off that fat woman.”


We hear the gunfire from outside. “Goddamn it,” I mutter under my breath. Mindful of yellow zombie droppings we run down the long aisle to the back of the store where the service doors lead to the prep area and the loading dock.

NEXT: “Their oozing stumps, their foul teeth”

Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2017 by L. Roy Aiken.

All photos from Google Images.



Episode 3: Please Do Not Leave Your Dead Children Unattended

Setup: We’re one week into the zombie apocalypse. Our zombie-fighting hero, Derek Grace, has been put in charge of a grab-and-go mission at the local Wal-Mart. Hijinks ensue.

Panga in hand, I jog down the wide aisle separating the grocery from the dry goods. There are display islands in the middle of this aisle. I’m come to the clothing section and the racks enclose the right side of the aisle like little banyan trees concealing the predators beneath.

A hand claws at me from beneath one of these and I miss a step, my foot coming down on that hand. But that gives the other hand a chance to grab at my boot. It’s a small blue hand, with stubby blue fingers and yet I can feel its death-rigored grip through the leather.

I pull my panga and swing but the child is wrapped around my boot now—a little thing with a yellow ribbon in her hair and the fatty child skin chewed away on one side of her face. An eyestalk hangs eyeless from one socket but the muscles about her jaw are intact and working. Her little baby teeth are bearing down hard on my boot. I lift up my foot and kick at the display in the middle of the aisle. A small ribbon of intestine trails beneath her waist; she has no legs, not even bones.

Her teeth bear down harder.

I pull my hammer and smack it into her yellow-ribboned hair. The pain in my foot intensifies and I snap-grip the handle in my wrist as if the hammer was a drumstick and her head the snare. Her little skull cracks open and her body falls limp.

Rigor clamps her little jaw fast to my boot. I shuffle towards the end of the center-aisle display. No one is in this food aisle to the left so I ease towards it, propping my backside against an end-cap shelf so I can figure out how to get little Brittney off of me.

I grab a fistful of her hair and try pulling her head back. I see the gaps in her front incisors; if her adult teeth were in—hell, even if her originals were still there—they would have broken the skin of this boot. I need thicker boots, steel-toed. And thick socks. Save for that strip of intestine (which has since slithered off the rib bone it was caught on) the girl’s torso appears to be hollowed out. No insides, no stomach to even hold her meal and yet she crawled along, with this sick, pointless hunger. How many more are scuttling along like this out there?

When I found this deluxe claw hammer in the garage I thought it might double as a convenient tool with which to break into things. I never thought I’d be fitting the broad tines through the top gap of a small child’s teeth. The rotten blood in her ruined gum runs down my boot, adding one of those special nuances to the boxed-in stink in the air that makes me gag. 

It’s when I see the tracks of tears through the dirt on the good side of this child’s face that I unload my breakfast into the aisle. I jerk the claw-end up hard and snap this flesh-and-blood reminder from my boot, this notice of how our position on the food chain has adjusted. Just as lions think nothing of culling the young of a zebra herd, something got hold of this once-five-year-old charmer in a pink Disney Princess T-shirt and made a meal out of her. And in turn made her into this….

I let out a furious yell. Goddamn it, come at me, you ugly, fucked-up shits!

I push myself away from the endcap, stepping carefully to the side, not wanting to slip, not wanting to see the remains of the child face up in a puddle of vomit. Unable to rid myself of the sight of her remaining eye, the terror and agony of a little girl’s last moments sealed within its dry, dead glaze…

…Claire. Jesus. I think of my daughter Sybil….

I listen and hear the slow shuffle-slide throughout the store, coming down any of the dozens of dark, hot, stinking aisles. I’ll have my chance with whoever-whatever killed this girl soon enough.

NEXT: Fatty foods are bad for dead and living alike 

Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2015 by L. Roy Aiken.

All photos from Google Images.




Episode 2: “As if it didn’t stink enough out here already.”

(Episode 1)

Setup: We’re one week into the zombie apocalypse. Our zombie-fighting hero, Derek Grace, has been put in charge of a grab-and-go mission at the local Wal-Mart. Hijinks ensue.

“I never caught his name,” I say.

“That’s Trenton,” says Krystal. “He wants everyone to call him Oni-bara now. Says it means ‘Devil Rose.’ More like Devil Dork! I never understood those anime freaks.”

The woman makes a course correction to intercept Devil Dork. An angry and wanting moan rises from her gore-crusted lips. Her companion adjusts likewise, rocking sideways, focused on the tall, pale young man wearing the long black coat in the middle of May in humid, sun-baked Kansas.

Devil Dork brings the blade down to one side of the woman’s neck. She falls to the asphalt in halves, her organs and entrails flopping wetly to the pavement. The man behind her hesitates. His head is back, sniffing the air. He’s backing away when the blade goes through his neck. His head tumbles from his shoulders to the parking lot. His body falls backward and lands across it, putting one shoulder up.

“Great,” says Krystal. “As if it didn’t stink enough out here already.”

I’m backing the truck up next to Randy’s at the loading bay. I kill the engine and we get out. Going up the concrete stairs along the side I see Randy’s flatbed already has fryers and frozen turkeys stacked in a spill of meltwater. Five cases of burger patties sit off to the side. It’s backed in over the lower steps so we have to climb under the rail to get up.

“Didn’t you have some shopping to do?” says Krystal. “Now’s your chance.”

“Yeah, I do,” I say, looking around the area. It’s a broad lot arcing over either side of the large graded knoll the Supercenter is on, Whatever comes up here will have to lean into the incline. It won’t be easy. But it won’t stop them, either. Worse, we won’t know we’re surrounded until too late. 

“Well, what are you waiting for?” says Krystal. “We’ll be right here.”

Krystal goes to help the boys in the freezer. They’ve found a dolly and are using it to stack the boxes of patties and ground beef from the freezer. Wide puddles of water cover the floor but it doesn’t smell like anything is turned—yet. Then again, it’s hard to tell with the smell of dead people in the air.

“Where’s that chick I saw earlier?” I say, looking in on them.

“Marta’s s’posed to be bringin’ us some ice from up front,” says the guy in the trilby hat. “You might wanna go check on her.”

“Yeah, will do. What’s your name, by the way?”

“Timcat. Like ‘tomcat,’ but with Tim.”

Jesus. “Great.” I nod to the guy in the Chiefs hat. “You?”

“I’m Randy.”

“All right. Move fast. Oni-boner or whatever his name is just got two walkers outside. You can bet more are on their way.”

Randy and Timcat laugh. “I hear ya, boss. We’ll handle it.”

I push out the service doors into the main of the store. The heat, the stench, is gagging.  Like Kansas City outside the hotel this stench has layers to it. Just when you think you’re getting used to it a fresh wave of putrefaction billows over and it’s all you can do to keep your stomach from turning inside out.

A grunting and shuffling to my right draws my attention to the man in the cargo shorts struggling towards me. His difficulty is exacerbated by having only one working leg. Apparently whatever got him worked one side; even his arm has had so much muscle chewed and sucked away it’s useless.  He’s managed to pull himself up along the shelves on the back wall and hop-shuffle towards the sound of our activity.

I draw my panga and walk over to the half-man. Flashing back to Rebecca’s smooth motion with her gun, hitting her target along the sweet spot of the curve, I raise the blade and divest the half-man of his one good arm. The fine, silvery, deluxe claw hammer I found in a tool box in the garage is in my other hand; I bring the blunt end crashing between his eyes before he has a chance to drop. He goes over backward, cracking the back of his skull for good measure as he hits the floor. 

These exertions don’t make this easy but I have to control my breathing, if only so I can hear what’s around me. I turn my head slowly to take in my surroundings, waiting for my panting to quiet. Eventually it’s enough that I can hear the stirrings down the various aisles across the store.

Goddamn it, let’s just get that underwear and get out of here!

NEXT: Part 3: Please Do Not Leave Your Dead Children Unattended

Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2015 by L. Roy Aiken.

All photos from Google Images.




Episode 1: Herding cats

Setup: We’re one week into the zombie apocalypse. Our zombie-fighting hero, Derek Grace, has been put in charge of a grab-and-go mission at the local Wal-Mart while others take on the liquor store, and other places of provisioning. Hijinks ensue.

Gitmo brings me my phone. “I’ll need a little more time. The liquor store is a few blocks over and they’ve got it barred up seven ways to Sunday. Give me a call if you don’t hear from me in 45 minutes. Everyone else should be done in about half an hour. You might want to take longer here, yourself.”

“Yeah, we probably do,” I say, and so much for that in and out in a minute bullshit. I figured as much, especially when it comes to all this frozen meat. Unless there are herds of deer and other wildlife roaming these Kansas fields that I don’t know about, meat will be hard to come by for a while. It’s this or canned food from here on out.

Gitmo and his crew are the last to pull away. It’s just me and Big Yellow, a white pickup truck, and the lavender lowrider truck with the purple flames on the side. My crew includes the tall, scowly-faced Goth kid from dinner last night with the katana at his back. A shorter, compact young man with long, stringy blonde hair squeezed beneath a trilby hat carries a crossbow at his back. I almost miss the little girl between them—actually a very small young woman with her breasts mashed together beneath her too-tight black blouse in case you mistake her age; she’s got a machete on her belt. The closest I’ve got to a normal looking kid wears a Kansas City Chiefs jersey and matching Snapback hat.

“That’s expensive gear to be wearing on what’s eventually turning into a bug hunt,” I tell him.

“These are all the clothes I got, man.”

 “I’ve got to pick up some threads of my own. You wanna come with?”

“Shit, man!”


“No offense,” he says grinning, “but I would never shop here.”

“Suit yourself.”

“A humble leader who shops with the peasants,” smirks the Goth kid, waving his sword about his head in short loops. “He can take on three citizens at once!”

“So let’s hear your mighty saga, then.”

The kid hisses and turns away from me. The stringy-haired man in the trilby shrugs. “He was actually pretty good last night. Just so you know, Mr. Kerch’s comment about seeing you take on three at once sounded pretty silly to the professionals.”

“The professionals?”

“Hey, man, it’s serious business. You heard what the man said about last night. We were taking on a lot more than three at once to rack up that score.”

“All right, then, so what are we doing here?”

“We gotta get all the frozen stuff out of the freezers before it’s all thawed out. So we back up the trucks, I reckon.”

“Out front? That makes no sense. We need to be closer to where the freezers actually are.”

“You the bossman,” he says.

“Is this your first time doing this?”

“Individual runs. Not coordidnated-like.”

“Great. Let’s get these trucks over to the loading dock on the grocery side. You’ve got gear to break locks with, right?”

“Well, duh!”

“Let’s get going, then.”

Trilby hat gets into the white truck with the guy in the Chiefs hat, who drives the white truck over. The lavender lowrider belongs to Russ, one of the herders. “Shit, I don’t even know why they want us out here,” he says. “We scrubbed ‘em out of here real good last night.”

“You heard the man. He wants another thousand gone today, another thousand tomorrow, and another thousand the day after that. We gotta clear ‘em all out, no way around it.”

“I saw what happened to Evans’ boy yesterday. They pulled him through the busted window. He was squirtin’ blood all over where he was cut up and those things had their mouths open like they were catchin’ rain.  Goddamn, I can’t believe these were people once.”

“I dunno. They make perfect sense to me.”

“Shit, you may be right,” he says, starting his little truck. “Like my boy Marcus used to say, ‘Humanity two-point-motherfuckin’-Oh.’ People minus the polite civilized bullshit. They just step right up and bite your fucking face off.” Russ puts his truck in gear. “Take care, man.” He drives off.

I climb into the Big Yellow Truck. “Hi,” says Krystal from the passenger seat. 

“What? Jesus! I take it you rode over with Brandon?”

“You knew we were going to be here. I didn’t expect them to put you in charge so early, though. So sad what happened to Mr. Evans’ boy.”

“Yeah. Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but what are you doing here?”

“Someone’s gotta look out for you. You don’t know these people.”

“I’m getting an idea.”

“Besides, they didn’t leave you nearly enough people to clean out that freezer. I’m pretty strong, you know.”

“All right, then. Welcome aboard.”

We drive to the back. I’m almost relieved to see the two deaders coming in the other side of the parking lot. I know we’re not completely alone out here. It’s just a matter of waiting for the party to realize the food trucks (so to speak) have pulled up.

The man walks unsteadily, as if drunk. He sways from side to side, his weight on one leg, then the other. He toddles laboriously behind the thin, intense-looking woman who is hobbled only by the broken stiletto heel on one shoe. She makes a loping, up-down motion as she staggers along, not as awkward as the man following her, but with grim, I-will-have-this purpose. The gore is dried thick and stiff down her power-suit ensemble, with a glistening fresh sheen adding another layer to the man-sized scab accessorizing her white blouse and navy-blue skirt. Her sloppy seconds cake the pastel yellow button-down shirt of her wobbly companion.

I’m wondering whether to back the truck in first or jump out and address this now when the Goth kid comes out with his katana. I stop the truck to let him cross the lot towards the two. He draws his blade from the scabbard along his back, makes a show of whooshing it around over his head.

NEXT: Part 2: “As if it didn’t stink enough out here already”

Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2015 by L. Roy Aiken.

All photos from Google Images.


Monday, July 13, 2015

The Amazing Abuse of “Amazing” Must Stop

Another spasm of get-off-my-lawnisms. Look, I’m just sick of this stuff, all right?

Stop right now with calling people “amazing.” Unless your BFF or whomever can leap a tall building in a single bound, or do anything a spider can, they are not amazing. It says very bad things about us as a culture that simply graduating school—something everyone is expected to do in civilized society—is “amazing.” 

It has progressed to the point that whenever I see the word “amazing” abused thus, I am immediately drawn to the real—and sometimes savagely imagined—shortcomings of the individual being celebrated. For instance, “My amazing sister got married on Saturday,” so I think, “What’s amazing is that anyone wants to marry your sister.”

So quit it with the “amazing” crap. You’re not, they’re not, and nothing much is.

I’m actually amazed it took so long for one of these pictures to turn up. Not that I mind the Minions all that much—they do lend themselves well to image macros—but they are being overused. Pushback was bound to happen. 

Me, I miss rage comics. Yeah, I know.

I should stop here. ‘Cause you know what else grinds my gears? People saying they’re going to be brief, take only a minute, and they go on and on and on. Enough already.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thirsting and Trudging Towards the Next Narrative Arc: THE WALKING DEAD, Season 5, Episode 10, “Them”

Original airdate 15 February 2015.

Third of a series in which I review episodes of The Walking Dead in no particular order. WARNING: SPOILERS OUT THE YING-YANG, because, seriously, I’m among the last people in the solar system who has just started watching this. If you’re way-behind weird like me, give this post a pass.

Remember in my post about the previous episode how I thought we were going to get on with the next story arc? Thank God no one reads this blog, because this episode made a liar out of me.

“Mopin’, mopin’ mopin’/Like they gave up hopin’
Even Daryl’s mopin’/RAWHIIIIIDE!”
I’d thought the group had done enough “processing” of their grief over their bad decisions and the resultant fatalities. No, we have to dedicate an entire episode to Daryl moping over Beth, Sasha fuming over losing her brother Bob, Abraham sulking over dedicating the better part of his apocalypse to deception, etc. It wasn’t quite the festival of melodramatic soap opera bitchiness that caused me to change the channel in the middle of a second season episode at Herschel’s farm, but it came close. 

All this was done in the course of the group trudging slowly along down the same woodsy Georgia piedmont road we’ve seen for five seasons that we’re supposed to take for somewhere in northern Virginia now. We have a striking visual of dead frogs belly-up on a dry creekbed. We see Daryl digging in the dirt and pulling up a big ol’ earthworm and eating it. All this, and everyone is moping over their past decisions, whether they should have zagged when they zigged, and, God help us, “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
“I dunno, I could swear we’ve been on this road before.” To be fair, every planet in the Stargate universe—even in the Pegasus galaxy—looked like the hilly, misty woods of coastal British Columbia. Ten, 12 years of this, and no one ever said anything. I might as well shut up.

As they trudge, trudge, trudge along, the undead gather behind them. They attract more and more as they go. Rick and the crew realize they’re going to have to make a stand before the numbers become more than they can handle. Sasha goes off the plan and endangers everyone. They dispatch the mob, though, and resume trudging.

A pack of feral dogs attack. I find this interesting, as one does not see many dogs and cats in zombie apocalypses. (A friend of mine wrote the lone exception I know to this.) Admittedly, I have no idea how to address that in my own zombie books, but it stands to reason that feral dog attacks would be high on the list of things to defend against while out in the open. Here, it just serves to make sure everyone gets something to eat.

So what does infant Judith eat? Aside from practically glowing with serene cleanliness among the grime-streaked survivors, she doesn’t complain much for someone who isn’t ready for solid food, let alone starvation conditions.

I’ll be happy she doesn’t complain, however discordant her presence is in the series. (In the comics, she died from the same bullet that tore through her mother when the Governor made his final attack on the prison.) Never mind how they deal with the issue of diapers and wet-wipes. Is that what Abraham’s carrying in that bag? You need a big bag when you’re traveling with infants. Trudging right along....

Our intrepid heroes come upon a cache of water in plastic jugs in the middle of the road, with a note indicating that they were left there by a “friend.” Uh-oh. Despite their thirst, they resist the urge to drink it. Fortunately, a thunderstorm breaks. Everyone is happy for that free, untainted water from the sky. Then the thunderstorm starts getting severe. They take shelter in a barn Daryl was moping at a few scenes back. 

There’s more talky-talky as they settle in, and Rick makes his grand pronouncement, “WE are the Walking Dead!” It’s far less cheesy than it was in the full-page splash in the comics, but cheesy nonetheless. 

Then someone looks out and notices a bunch of zombies want into the barn out of the storm. After a splendid visual of electric blue undead revealed in a flash of lightning (what’s a whole parking lot full of dead people doing all the way out here the sticks?), we cut, and it’s morning. Apparently a handy little tornado blew through and skewered the dead on various tree limbs while leaving the flimsy barn standing. What the heck. Another great visual. 

Seriously, I can forgive a lot for a great visual. For all my complaining, if there is one thing about this show that’s done exceptionally well, it’s how they film this thing. The photographers, cinematographers, and sound people totally own it. Big-budget, high-end feature films wish they had crews like the one on The Walking Dead

A couple of the women from the group go out in the morning to enjoy this tableau and a finely photographed sunrise. I forget which two women, as it’s been weeks since I’ve watched this (I’ve been busy writing my own stuff), but the main thing is we finally meet our true catalyst for the next storyline, a supernaturally clean young man named Aaron.
At last, a development!

SEASON-WIDE SPOILERS: It’s my understanding that the crew goes to the community of Alexandria (not to be confused with the Washington, D.C. exurb, I trust) where Rick will get lethal over someone named Porchdick and make the original Alexandria residents question the wisdom of accommodating Rick’s crew in the first place. The narrative will touch on the old trope of how Prolonged Exposure to Crazy Makes You Crazy Too. In the season finale we’ll meet the Wolves, the nasties who attacked and destroyed Noah’s mystery subdivision neighborhood in the middle of the woods.

This will lead us to Negan; I’m guessing he’ll at least be hinted at in next season’s finale. The most interesting thing about Negan is that Robert Kirkman does a narrative leap after the resolution of that long-ass storyline, setting everything a year into the future. I’ve read those comics. I don’t see that working. Ideally, the TV series should end with the completion of the Negan storyline, which will put the series well past the 100-episode mark for syndication, and the show will go out on a high note.

We all know that’s not going to happen. For my sake, I hope they don’t take the rest of the zombie craze down with them when they burn it out. I have my own personal stake in this, after all. I should probably catch up on the rest of the season before the spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, begins on 16 August. We’ll see.