Saturday, July 04, 2015

Fourth of July Fun with Fireworks and Zombies!

From My Work in Progress, THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD: a Taste of What’s Cooking in the Zombie Night Kitchen

It’s the Fourth of July, and in my native USA, that means grillin’ meat and fireworks. All of which we’re going to do here with a horde of hungry dead before Derek Grace, his family and supporters from the Abundant Life settlement, and a band of bikers led by a man named Scuzz, go all-out Mad Max up Interstate 25 to what they can only hope is safety in Monument, Colorado.

Just so we’re clear, “Mom’s Taxi” is a 15-foot tall monster truck with a flame-thrower attached. That’s not spelled out in the excerpt, which is why I’m telling you here. 

This is why I haven’t been posting much this year. I’ve been busy with wholesome family fun like this. Come with me, if you want to desecrate some corpses....

I see three of Scuzz’s men distributing brown paper bags among the riders up front. As soon as a rider takes possession he doesn’t wait for an order; he pulls the tubes of Roman candles and rockets from the rubber-banded bundle and fires one up with the cigarette hanging from his mouth.

White trails of smoke hiss away into the approaching herd. Efforts are made to hit these former people in their faces with neon-pink fire, but that doesn’t always work. The concentrated flames will land on a shoulder, burst across a chest, enraging the ghoul and bringing it surging forward for murder. 

One woman’s rags of an outfit burst into flames, which fortuitously disrupts the forward motion of that group as they, too, catch fire, or frantically back away to avoid catching fire. “This is taking too long,” says Agnes.

With a quickness of motion that tells me she’s doing this before she loses her nerve, Agnes turns the flamethrower 45 degrees to the left and brings the barrel back at a steep angle. The jet of flame arcs high, so high it loses some of its power before landing short of the near corner where the road leading towards Abundant Life’s HQ meets the one we’re on. It’s enough to ignite blood-stiff clothing, if not dried flesh. The afflicted ignite those closest to them in the course of trying to tear off their blazing rags. 

Agnes drops the barrel by a few degrees before sending out another volley of fire. This blaze falls just short of the ones with flaming clothes, and has just enough hang-time to smolder their skins. These crisping former citizens flap their arms and kick frantically, as if they might shake off the flames. 

Still, it’s hard to laugh when you might well be losing. The numbers are against us. Although our moon roof shooters have thinned out the dead emerging from the tall grass along the left side of the road, the stragglers are still drawing precious rounds away from the herd ahead of us. Even with the assistance of Scuzz’s people, it doesn’t look like we’re going to run out of dead on that side. I can only imagine what it’s like at the very end of our convoy. And I’d rather not. “A.J., message Justin, Rene, and Melinda. I need to know how they’re doing.”

A.J. begins thumbing in her message. She stops. “Brother Christopher says we have to move.”

“Advise him of our situation,” I say.

“‘Moving is better than standing still,’ he says.”

Christopher can’t see it from our vantage point high up on the monster truck, but there is no moving unless we make a path. Mom’s Taxi could drive all day through this, but the people behind us might as well be driving into the ocean. An ocean full of things that swarm, smash, bite, and chew.

“It’s that guy again,” says A.J. “He says if we don’t start moving now we’re going to be in real trouble in a couple of minutes.”

“So this is the fake trouble?” Agnes is laying down more fire, expanding the zone of burning bodies. It’s slow going, but she’s shunting a good bit of the herd down that side road—where they seem perfectly content to follow the more iconoclastic groups that did this on their own.

Still, the group in front of us is too dense to wade into with mere trucks and SUVs. I look towards Scuzz’s people. Most of them have exhausted their fireworks supply, but two groups of men on either side are loading rockets into those fat tubes you see at professional fireworks displays. This is tricky work, because these things are not designed to lie on their sides. One man props up the end of his tube with his boot. Another lights the fuse and runs away while the other man checks his foot for the angle before covering his face with his hands.

At fireworks shows in the old days you’d hear a low boom when these things launched. Immediately to either side of us, it sounds like cannons going off, one after another. I’ve never been so grateful for these noise canceling headsets. I can only imagine what it’s like for the people on the ground.

Even the dead have taken a step back at the sound, causing some to fall down, others to fall with them. The rockets ricocheting off their chest and legs, scorching them black with the orange-sparking wash, don’t help their balance. Blue gray smoke, and an unnatural howling loud enough to be heard over our truck’s engine rises about the herd.

Then the bombs burst in air—maybe all of four feet up, and smack in the middle of the seething mass. White-hot spikes of fire fan high over the herd before sizzling into their faces and shoulders below.

As if knowing full well this won’t be quite enough, the teams on either side of us are loading and firing another round. When they’re done with that, they fire another.

That awful garbage stink of smoldering corpses fouls everything as their pained dancing pumps oily smoke into the air. Still, they continue to surge forward, a tide that will surely engulf us if something isn’t done in the next two minutes.

What happens next? I don’t know. I’ve got to write it to find out!

Meanwhile, I’ve got two books out with scenes as crazy, if not crazier for you to read while you’re waiting on my zombie-slow, foot-draggin’ ass.  It’s the Fourth, and all the barbecuing I’m doing is on the printed page. So long as I have cold beer, I’m good. Here’s hoping you’re the same.

Only the strong will survive

In the heart of darkest horror, you will find 

US Kindle and Paperback
UK Kindle and Paperback
Canadian Kindle and Paperback

Coming in 2017: