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.