The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for the ‘zombies’ Category

A Quick Drive-By Post

Posted by BigWords on August 27, 2011



The last week has been rather hectic and weird. Weirder than Wild Zero. Okay, so maybe not that weird, but plenty strange. Normal service will be resumed as soon as the brain transplant has fully healed up, and once the thing in the cellar stops banging all night long – there’s a good lesson to everyone in that. Don’t read from the Necronomicon when you are drunk.

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Linkies (some commentary)

Posted by BigWords on June 30, 2011

Gypsyscarlett posted about the first horror film a while back, so I should point out how late (comparatively) this move into the horror genre was for early cinema. The first comic-book adaptation – something seen by many as a recent phenomenon – was in the 1880s. You can argue amongst yourselves if they meet the precise criteria, but both Ally Sloper and a series of untitled shorts based off a one-pager of a boy (sometimes a girl) standing on a water hose, then raising their foot when the gardener looks into the end of the hose, were made in the mid-1880’s (eighty-four seems to be a date that stands out)

Blake M. Petit put up his 100 favorite comics – there are some excellent choices in there, and I may steal borrow the idea at some point for a post. I really need to convert people to the wonders of Valerian, The Walking Dead and Black Jack for good karma points.

Neftwink has been posting some amazing photographs over the last couple of months, so you should be taking a look.

Oh, and Jamie DeBree raised a subject I’ve been trying to ignore. Notes. The mere thought of explaining how jotting down the things which make up my works-in-progress tick makes me cry.

At some point I’m going to have to explain how I pull all the threads into little blankets of text with which I try to wrap my characters into seamlessly. Hmm… Lots of fabric metaphors there. (You’re guess is as good as mine as to where that came from)

Talents. Uh. “I can see where the holes are.” Stop sniggering. It wasn’t meant like that, and you know it. When I look at things (from novels to comics, from television shows to news broadcasts) I can see where there are things which have been omitted, and where pieces which appear to be unconnected end up intersecting. It’s like I know instinctively where there ought to be more material. It also allows me to call bullshit on nearly everything which BBC News broadcasts – not that doing that is particularly difficult.

While I agree with this, I also acknowledge that there are times when calling someone names is not only necessary but demanded. Anyone who claims the live-action Transformers films are high art, for example, or who insist that Yoko Ono’s songs are beautiful.

When I saw this post my immediate reaction was to point out precisely why we need to be able to film police officers…

Can anyone say “Rodney King”?

Oh, and you must read this as a primer to the forthcoming apocalypse.

Posted in Misc., writing, zombies | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Mid-November Update

Posted by BigWords on November 15, 2010

This is my mid-November update, just like it says in the post header, and seeing as how I have managed (in my own special way) to add more projects than is either sane or remotely normal in one month – remembering that this is the height of the NaNoWriMo rush as well, you’re lucky I am writing this much about my activities. I’ve been pondering how I could break the following news to people without getting shouted at, but it seems that no matter how I word this list of projects I’m gonna end up with people wondering about my sanity.

The Comic

Yeah. That’s not going so well. It’s stalling somewhat because of the nature of the story… It was originally a neat examination of what a world would be like if superheroes defeated all the supervillains, but then I went and did something really stupid. I found Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack and Maximortal while I was moving stuff around, and even though there was a list of things I needed to do I decided to re-read them. Then (through mental machinations which my subconscious can only hint at, and for reasons even I don’t fully comprehend) the story took a wide left turn and had all kinds of things happen which undermines the simple message that you can’t always get what you want. I’ll start drawing the pages as and when I’m certain that they’ll not go through further permutations, though it doesn’t appear that I’ll be making the series available for download until March at the earliest – and that’s if it makes an appearance in finished form at all. There’s so much more than I expected lurking in the idea that I may see if I can pace it out properly at a later date and shop it around – there’s at least a couple of things in there which made even me (the man behind the story) do a double-take. It’s not that it is particularly violent, nor too offensive (especially given the type of things you can see in Max or Vertigo titles) but it has a feel to it that is off-key.

The early draft of the first issue is still here – and I’m wondering how Dan feels about his dubious caricature. Pfft. Whatever. I’m not going to change it now.

The Zombie List

The other main project for November was a list of all the zombie novels I could conceivably think of, and even I’m surprised at how many there are. It’s not as if I expected it to be easy, but it’s already longer than I anticipated, and the listing thus far is only up to the letter N. I thought that I would be done by Saturday, freeing up the rest of the week for the NaNo, though it now appears I’ll be doing this particular list for another couple of days. The list of short stories and other material to be found on the web will eventually be moved to it’s own sub-page as I get around to including all of the wonderful material I have yet to include, but for the moment it is all bunched together on the master page. The few titles missing from the list will eventually get added as I get around to confirming whether or not the undead in those works are indeed zombies, or if they are expy’s for vampires or other strains of the undead – there are a lot of mythological beings which look, at a cursory glance, to be zombies but are much different.

The Fanfic

I pointed out the fact that I was attempting to alter the largely negative attitudes to fanfic writing through an elaborate and interconnected saga which I would be writing through the latter part of this year, though it has increased significantly in scope, running (at present) to around 300k, and still incomplete. When it is nearly finished I will start polishing the opening chapters and begin posting them online a safe distance from my other locations on the interwebs. The last thing I need is to get embroiled in anything which it may arouse in people.

That’s all the shit you probably know about, and I’m sorry if I’m boring you to death by stating – yet again – that I’m busy working on things and not plying my usual brand of mind-games and madness online. There are only so many hours in the day, and it seems as if I am making things even harder on myself by adding more projects when I should probably be streamlining my activities to a few core things. The advice to writers is often “write what you are working on, and store away those good ideas for later” but it fails to take into account the sheer number of mind-blowing ideas which present themselves. If I started writing everything I want to write, I still wouldn’t have exhausted all the good stuff by the time I die. And you don’t need to start pipping in with a dead pool for me, ’cause I intend to live forever just out of spite.

Yeah, you heard that right… I AM NOW IMMORTAL.

The New Idea – Realism In YA

There was a couple of blog posts which I quickly browsed through – noting complaints and suggestions for the future of YA – which piqued my interest in the ways that a progression of sorts, or rather an expansion, could be done. The limited nature of YA – and I mean no offense to the many YA writers whose work I enjoy immensely – means I often get frustrated. The fact that so many of the YA books have resolutions which affirm and secure the reader is irritating and (whilst understandable) too neatly tied up. One of the biggest prompts for my concept – which I will come to in due course – was a post which suggested that there ought to be more diversity in the largely whitebread YA books. I love this. The only niggle at the back of my mind, questioning the suitability of myself as a YA writer, is the story I managed to subconsciously patch together whilst these thoughts I was consuming boiled over in a stew of possibilities. It isn’t exactly the type of thing I would imagine being an easy sell.

When people start begging – or at least pleading… maybe merely asking, now that I come to think about the wording of that post – for a more realistic set of texts for young readers, I always have the same reaction. It’s not that I don’t trust people’s judgment to separate the reality from the fiction, but it feels as if I need to repeat the same bloody thing over and over again – kids can be little shits when left to their own devices. The current way that they are represented in fiction could lead people to believe that children are somehow different from adults in their capability for acts of violence, malice and calculated evil. You don’t need to search too long to uncover some of the stories which have come out of the news channels regarding these kids, and it seems – to me, at the very least – that there may be worth in showing YA readers that not only do the good guys don’t always win, but that the flip-side of the coin can have widespread ramifications.

This, combined with a longstanding love of classic hardboiled writers, The Wire fresh in my mind, and a fortuitous e-mail from a friend whose career in Social Work gives me access to details I could only dream of, managed to combine to create a tale about a twelve-year old who graduates from running drugs and stealing, to the “heights” of running his own criminal empire in a housing estate. I already have the opening scene, with a clock of cement being thrown off the roof of the estate onto a policeman’s head, and I know how the story ends – the kid, now fourteen, is shot dead by police. That’s as much as I want to share at the moment. And for those of you who asked for more realism, I hope you’re happy…

Somehow I have the feeling I should have merely copied Jack’s response to being asked for truth.

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The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Three

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

I didn’t make it to fifty films. That isn’t the biggest let-down of the week (you can make an educated guess regarding the previous post as to the nature of the week’s low point), yet the fact that I’ve sat through no less than forty odd films and a couple of television episodes regarding zombies has made me realize a few things. Firstly, I really, really want to be somewhere with an independent supply of water when the apocalypse falls. Can you imagine the smell of undead pieces of flesh hanging off your weaponry, compounded by the fact that no-one has had a shower in weeks? These are the types of questions which have been rattling around my head whilst the filmmakers intentions have been largely ignored. I’ve seen most of the decent films enough to know them off by heart, so the ruminations have been getting free reign.

Despite not setting out to expand my theories about survival post-civilization, there are good tips throughout zombie films, and even suggestions which could be put to use whilst the cities are still standing. Zombieland‘s cardio rule is a very pertinent one in a world where there are a lot of folks too fat to run from the undead. The walking banquets are, in a roundabout way, good for the long term survival of the human race, ’cause while the zombies are feasting on them the rest of us can run like our asses are on fire. And, while I’m thinking of food here (yeah, watching zombies do their stuff make me hungry) there needs to be enough food wherever I am at the beginning of the apocalypse, as there is no chance I’ll survive on junk food alone. Well, not for long anyways…

Even though it isn’t (yet) a required text on zombies, Dead Rising has a perfectly valid argument against trying to hook up with other survivors – there is nothing to say that everyone else hasn’t gone completely and utterly insane with the situation around them. These fuckwits (technical term) will most likely be the death of as many people as zombies, so it makes sense that everyone tries to avoid everyone else. Just in case. Adding to the reasons for avoiding other survivors is the fact that there is always one idiot who denies they have been bitten. Go watch the Dawn Of The Dead remake and you’ll see that even babies aren’t above suspicion… So yeah.

The list, for those of you wishing to replicate this “experiment”:

28 Days Later; 28 Weeks Later; 48 Weeks Later; AAH! Zombies!!; Apocalypse Of The Dead; Beyond Re-Animator; Bio Zombie; Day Of The Dead; Day Of The Dead; Day Of The Dead 2: Contagium; Dead Air; Dead Snow; Diary Of The Dead; Fido; The Ghost Galleon; The Horde; House Of The Dead; I Walked With A Zombie; I Was A Teenage Zombie; King Of The Zombies; The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue; Living Dead Girl; Mutant; Night Of The Living Dead; Night Of The Living Dead; Night Of The Seagulls; Pet Sematary; The Plague Of The Zombies; Quarantine; Resident Evil; Resident Evil: Apocalypse; Return Of The Blind Dead; Shaun Of The Dead; Survival Of The Dead; Tombs Of The Blind Dead; Trailer Park Of Terror; Versus; White Zombie; Wicked Little Things; Zombie Bloodbath; Zombie Flesh Eaters; Zombieland; Zombies, Zombies, Zombies

There sometimes wasn’t time for me to watch full features, so I threw in a few episodes of Tales From The Crypt as well – the less said about the feature films the better. You may also want to check out a couple of first season episodes of Urban Gothic, which subverts zombies and necromancy seven different ways before the end credits roll. Oh, and while I remember about it – as my brain is quite likely to melt before the next election rolls around – all Brits reading this really need to reconsider their political allegiance when there exists a party which actually makes sense out there. Trust me… When the end of days comes, you will want to have the correct people in charge.

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The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Two

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

If the first post was “The Good,” then this is The Bad. The films I have avoided mentioning thus far are, without being too mean, worse than eating dogshit whilst having a red hot poker thrust up your anus, as a Hanson album plays on an eternal loop. These are the films even as distinguished a film geek as Quentin Tarantino would be unlikely to admit to watching. I’m possibly overstating just how god-awful they are, but not by  much. I know they are meant to be horror films, but I’m sure inducing horror in viewers at the prospect of watching them again wasn’t exactly the idea. You can go hunt them down if you are sufficiently mentally ill or have a broad and deep masochistic streak, but it would honestly be cheaper paying someone to punch you in the face repeatedly.

The first film to make me question my sanity in a week of zombie films was the comic-book adaptation Trailer Park Of Terror, which sounds like the perfect mix of everything I like, yet managed to disappoint on nearly every level. It’s not that the story is bad (there’s a nice clean line through the film), it’s just awful to look at. If I had watched it in isolation, I would probably have been more favorable to it, yet hot on the heels of some of the classics of the zombie genre it pales into insignificance.There are some nice extras with the main feature, but no matter how much supporting material could be added, it’s just another in a long list of disappointments which would sully those first few hours of flesh-tearing bliss.

The worst offender is – without the shadow of a doubt – Zombies, Zombies, Zombies, a film which any sane film producer would have bought in a heartbeat when they heard the high concept. It’s a twist on the Dawn Of The Dead conceit of hiding somewhere safe, in this instance a strip club. The survivors are, naturally, strippers themselves, yet despite having one of the best-sounding premises, it manages to destroy the idea resoundingly. I wanted to like this for so many reasons… Um. Okay, mainly for the strippers, but the film deserves no time whatsoever spent thinking about it. That I have already typed this much out is a testament to how much it irritates me, and I would rather puke blood than continue. Therefore…

That 48 Weeks Later manages to make those two films look decent by a substantial magnitude beggars belief. It’s so bad that it could feasibly be used as an implement of torture should the US military wish to get quick answers from those detained at Gitmo – trust me, even the most hardened terrorist will beg for a quick death after sitting through the first half hour, and it goes downhill from there. It would have gotten on this page for piggybacking on the success of 28 Days Later alone, but it’s unimaginable badness means it gets a special level of Hell all to itself. The amateurish acting borders on hilarious, so if you want to laugh at production values, awful acting and the kind of direction not seen since The Star Wars Holiday Special then this should suit you perfectly.

While not quite as bad as the above, Apocalypse Of The Dead is so packed full of clichés that it struggles to retain any of the vague interest which the admittedly cool cover art raises. It neither strikes an individual tone nor conforms to any of the established ideas which zombie films should strike for, varying wildly in tone from broad comedy to (allegedly) tense drama in the space of a few scenes. The brief moment late in the film where it seems to take a cue from Stephen King’s Cell is an opening which is never capitalized on, yet the “leader zombie” is probably the most interesting character in the entire film. That doesn’t say much for the leads, but they are as wooden as the stake through Dracula’s chest. If I make it sound disjointed and an awkward addition to the genre, then I am being kind.

It may seem a tad unfair to lump The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (or whichever of the hundred odd alternate titles it shows under) with that lot, though I found it to have none of the charm or style which the best of the zombie films display. There are a few exceptional scenes which border on classic, though aside from the bandaged zombie I don’t foresee myself wishing to revisit this any time soon. I’m only being nicer to AAH! Zombies!! as it has a funny idea and a quirky style, but it rapidly outstays it welcome once shifting from its’ early premise into something that is not entirely unlike Stubbs The Zombie. Instead of being mean, I’ll just point out how hot Betsy Beutler is, and quickly change subject.

Beyond Re-Animator is the one film I’m mentioning here which I truly wish wasn’t made, not because of how bad it is, but because it diminishes the first two films in the series. The prison setting is still fresh enough that it holds some interest, yet manages to fumble some excellent set-ups with poorly thought out scares and crappy editing. I really like Jeffrey Combs, and the only reason I can think of him doing this film is that he was trapped into a contract even Harry Houdini couldn’t have gotten out of.

Those were the highlights of the worst. You may want to refrain from thinking too long on what films were so bad as to make me repress the memory of having watched them, but bearing in mind the level of quality here I’ve spent more time wondering how these films get made. The Bill Hicks joke about production meetings (which hangs pretty much on the phrase “Will there be titty?”) doesn’t seem so far fetched after all…

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The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part One

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

Eternal cruise, I feel the fires of madness
Burning holes into my wounds
This Hell on Earth, I feel the power of sadness
No way out I’m marooned.

Lonely this Hell on Earth
Demons screaming in my mind
Wading through debris of life
A thousand souls their graves to find.

Marooned by Running Wild

My grand plan for Halloween wasn’t without some, ah… interesting time management issues, and I am especially proud of the ingenious idea of watching DVD’s on the laptop during my lunch break to keep from falling behind. You’ve probably guessed from the title of the blog post that it has something to do with the undead, but it is much, much madder than anyone could possibly think of, at least without already lining themselves up for a padded room in a nice facility where the jackets are done up from behind.

The plan was to watch fifty zombie films in a week, so I started with the DVDs I knew I would like (not the last mistake I would make during this insane challenge), namely Dawn Of The Dead, Shaun Of The Dead, I Walked With A Zombie and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Calculating the odds of getting through the entire fifty meant that some cheating was in order, so I pulled out the box set of old zombie flicks and watched King Of The Zombies, Revolt Of The Zombies and White Zombie to fulfill my classic quota and to get some shorter features in before the time constraints really began to bite. The picture quality on the newer films was fine, but those older films are really starting to show their age, even on HD-upscaled DVDs.

A minor interlude is called for here, as it seems to me that the DVD quality of White Zombie especially is actually worse than the old video sell-through release. The tonal quality of the footage lightens and darkens mid-scene throughout, and the number of scratches is unbelievable. It wasn’t this bad on video (or, for that matter, on the 16mm version I saw whilst it was circulating in the late-80s), so I can only assume that this isn’t from the same master copy. The film itself has some wonderful moments, and one scene in particular stands out – Karloff’s Legendre is overseeing the removal of Madeleine’s coffin, and it is so much like a shot Kubrick would have engineered that I had to rewind a few moments to see it again. So beautiful…

Tick tock, tick tock… The clock is tight enough as it is, and I’m fucking around by rewinding. The night was filled with the original Night of The Living Dead, then the remake of Day Of The Dead. That is one film, I gotta say, that doesn’t deserve to be connected to George A. Romero in any way. Mena Suvari is so hopelessly miscast as a hard-ass military stock character that the rest of the film can’t help but look ridiculous around her. There are good effects in there, but rather blunted by the fact that she doesn’t get horrifically mutilated within the first half hour by the undead. With dawn closing in on me, and the week about to begin in earnest, I settled on 28 Days Later. Yeah, I know… “It’s not a zombie film.” Well, fuck Danny Boyle and the horse he rode in on. It’s a schlocky zombie flick. End of story.

I’m splitting this into three, so I can cover as much as I can be bothered saying about each of the films I watched. This, unsurprisingly being the first, is where I get to lavish affection on the good stuff, as there really isn’t enough said about the better zombie films. The other two posts will mostly be mockery and insults, so enjoy the relatively good mood on display here:

My opinions on NOTLD, Dawn and (to a lesser degree) Day haven’t changed over the years. Romero, more than any other director, really gets the concept of zombies – or, as he uses in NOTLD , “ghouls,” which is a much better word for his creatures. I love his style and his voice, but even I am not insane enough to class Diary Of The Dead in the same category as his earlier work. It’s a neat idea, but it’s also one which has been driven into the ground since The Last Broadcast – a classic of the POV style. The immediate follow-up to this, Survival Of The Dead is even less notable, save for an amazing final shot – almost worth sitting through the rest of the film for alone. It also breaks a cardinal rule by having identical twins as a major plot point, which indicates the slow deterioration of the “Dead” series as much as the dilution of the danger has.

If you are wondering, I’ll state right now that I skipped the lamentable Land Of The Dead. It’s not that it adds nothing to the mythos – the attraction to fireworks, and an increase in zombie intelligence which will eventually pay off in Survival – are fine, but any explanation as to how the sealed-off city fits in with the other films would require too much back-story. It’s the ugly step-sister of the franchise, desperately trying to look hip and cool while waddling along with too much padding. That’s probably heresy, but I’m beyond caring. I also managed to skip the comedy-horror Return of The Evil Dead, though that was more from luck than anything else – I forgot about it until it was too late to hunt down my copy. It’s probably nestled between Plan 9 From Outer Space and Twilight, along with a host of other B-movies…

Due to a couple of recommendations (here and here), I picked up the Norwegian film Dead Snow, and… Okay, I liked this, but the barrage of Frank Miller references in the credits threw me off slightly, and the shout-out to 300 only compounded the feeling that I was watching a low-budget fan-film. The effects are awesome, and it has a great storyline, yet there are moments where it feels as if it is trying too hard to throw in references to other films for the sake of it. I especially found the stark chiaroscuro of the trees against the snow at the beginning, though the harsher black and white element is lost rapidly as the film moves into a more traditional horror style. The zombies themselves are a major departure, being able to not only run, but also fight the “heroes” – med students, including a comedy character whose inclusion is obvious from the first reference to his phobia.

Another outstanding example of non-traditional zombies comes in the form of The Horde, a French zombie film in the mold of the Dawn Of The Dead remake, though infused with a stylistic angle as expected from a pair of French directors. It’s billed as “Die Hard with zombies,” but it has a lot more in common with computer games than any films which come immediately to mind. The sequence in Max Payne 2 where the building is burning around him is captured in mood, only the danger is zombies running around trying to eat people rather than flames licking at the heroes heels. The fat guy with the fire-axe may be a reference to Resident Evil, though it becomes an indispensable character trait for the unlikely savior of the beleaguered survivors. I’m going to watch this again, it’s that good…

That, sadly, is most of the best stuff. Sturgeon’s Law is fully in effect when it comes to zombie films – perhaps more than in other horror sub-genres – so I’ll leave off this post here without spoiling the mood.

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Apocalypse: The Incident With The Car (One For The Road)

Posted by BigWords on January 30, 2010

From my zombie WIP (currently laboring under the working title of Zombie Apocalypse) comes the first actual sighting of a ghoul. This is from the chopped-down version – and still comes in at around page fifty. It is still in very rough shape. There’s so much I’m meant to be doing right now that updating this blog has been pushed down the schedule a ways, though as soon as I get everything sorted I’ll be back to abnormal as usual.

####

The Incident With The Car
(One For The Road)

Harold’s mind was racing as he turned off from the more familiar streets on to the long road back to Lumberton; a mobile ‘phone gripped tightly to the side of his face as he pushed the car on to greater speeds, desperately attempting to conjure a plausible scenario which could explain his absence and yet cast him in a good light. It was harder to fabricate balls-out lies than he remembered from his youth, the necessary neurons not quite firing in his brain due to a potent mixture of fatigue, stress and – crucially – alcohol. Simmons wasn’t born to move in lazy towns, the pace of life in the city had shifted his internal clock too far from the rural timeframes which others seemed to accept. “I’m on my way back now, and you wouldn’t believe the roads up here.” A pause. “Probably around three. Maybe a touch later if I can’t floor it down some of the dirt trails which pass for roads up here.” The line crackled and fell away for a moment. Dumb fuckin’ ‘phone he thought, and held it in front of him as he tried to focus his vision. The bars indicating reception quality rose and fell in a steady rhythm, mimicking the equalizer on the car’s radio.

The dull thud, as a shape hit the car, rolled over the hood then fell away to the side of the road – taking the wing mirror with it – was merely the punch line to the bad joke that Harold Simmons’ day had become. A sharp crack appeared in the windscreen after the fact. At no point did Harold’s mind dare to contemplate the possibility that he might have inadvertently caused the death of another human being. “Aw… You god-damned cock-sucking son-of-a-whore,” Simmons spat out. The mobile ‘phone had landed at Harold’s feet as he struggled with the steering, beeping once in protest at its’ treatment before deciding that things were too stressful to deal with.

Spun like a child’s toy, the car came to a stop facing back in the direction whence it had come, its’ journey’s end marked by black rubber laid into the surface of the road. The body lay twenty-five yards back, yet the most important detail of the night – at least in Harold’s mind – concerned one broken light, a dented hood and a certain missing wing mirror. Toting up the damage, albeit with four beers and an empty stomach hindering his math, the damage came to the somewhere in the region of a thousand dollars. “This is why I hate pissant, backwater, shithole, hicksville…” Harold’s tirade stopped mid-sentence when he realized Mr. Roadkill wasn’t as dead as he ought to be. Staggering along the dirt embankment, his victim haphazardly navigated his way towards Harold.

“What is it, you dumb sonuvabitch?” Harold yelled, stepping out of his car. “You want to swap insurance details or something?” No response. “I could’ve killed you back there, ya drunken bum.” Still silence. Bain damage, Harold pondered, maybe a mute? Too drunk to talk? The last thought hit a little too close to home. The man moved closer, agonizingly slowly, but moving closer all the time. Harold glanced at the man as he tried to reign in his anger. Average height, average weight and utterly unremarkable, even Roadkill’s clothing was forgettable. The checked shirt, blue jeans and heavy workboots didn’t help with his bland conformity. This guys wife couldn’t pick him out of a line-up.

Harold ran his hand over the hood, “Look at it. Just look at it.” The car was of no importance to Mr. Roadkill, who – it seemed – moved very fast for a man who could barely  put one foot in front of the other without having to comically readjust his center of gravity by waving his arms like a windmill. Harold turned back to the man in time to see the man lunge forward again. He seemed to hang there, mid stumble with his head cocked slightly too extremely to one side. Inertia, slow to take hold, finally caught up with him, and his full weight propelled him the two feet distance towards Harold. The full weight of the man had pinned Harold to the side of the car, time stretching as Harold’s brain tried to make sense of the surreal situation.

“Get off me ya pole-smoker.”

Mr. Roadkill sunk his teeth into Harold’s left arm, tearing away jacket, shirt and skin from the wound as he pulled back, trying to straighten his head. The man’s arms flailed, making him look even more like a certifiable bug-munching, shit-flinging looney tune than ever. Senses already dulled by alcohol, shaken by the crash and confused by the crazy idiot with a biting fetish, Harold tried to force his brain into action. Harold pushed back against the man with all of his strength, mentally calculating how much time he had wasted with the interruption to his journey. Roadkill, sprawled on the ground, displayed no sense of impropriety at his actions, moving his head to one side as Harold’s foot swung out at him, swiping at the leg once immediate danger had passed.

Moving backwards to the safety of the car, Harold was careful not to take his eyes off Mr. Roadkill for one second. Bite me once, shame on you. Bite me twice, shame on me. Slipping into the driver’s seat he brushed his right hand over the open wound, pulling closed the door with his increasingly painful arm. It burned, but as he could still move his fingers (enough to flip off the bitey idiot as he pulled away at least) he put the incident behind him. That’s gonna hurt in the morning, he thought.

The drive went surprisingly quick once Harold had gotten past the back-roads and on to the freeway. The streets were clear of heavy traffic, though the question of why didn’t register.

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Notes On The Zombie Apocalypse

Posted by BigWords on October 12, 2009

Back when I started writing the zombie novel (my records show that to be 2003) I decided to take copious notes on anything and everything that could possibly be referenced. One of the first things which was considered was the weather, due to the usual horror bullshit of everything happening in the rain – something I was determined to avoid. It’s kinda an unusual way of approaching a story like this, but still…

With the dead walking there would be no scheduled flights taking place. The only record of such an event taking place is 9/11, so I looked at the weather reports which were taken in the weeks after the attack and noticed an increase of 1° in the three days after flights were grounded. Global dimming – where the reflection of the sun by clouds – is counteracted by Mother Nature, along with slightly clearer skies, would mean sunny days ahead.

If the infrastructure of emergency services is compromised early there would be massive fires, making city living impossible. The toxic fumes from the smoke would replace some, but not all, of the pollution which has been eliminated by normal life. While the oft-publicized greenhouse effect has been warming the planet, global dimming (thank you airlines of the world) has been cooling things down. With air pollution minimized we would be facing very hot days.

All of which amused me, as writing rainy scenes with running zombies seemed to veer deep into parody. And, knowing my sense of humor, I would be forced to use slapstick scenes of the shuffling undead kicking water into the air in amazement at their surroundings…

The interesting bits of info from my notes mostly cover world-building and organization (reorganization, actually) of society, but some neat visuals came from medical stuff as well. There are nine pints of blood (roughly) in a human body, so – working back from the endpoint – I managed to estimate that one human could sustain five zombies for a day or so. It gets more complex as time moves forward, due to the desiccation of the zombies, but as a starting point I thought it pretty solid.

The fact that a severed femoral artery is capable of spraying claret six feet also added to an idea which came to me during an episode of a nature documentary. Sorry to say that I didn’t note the program, but it dealt with sharks being able to ‘smell’ blood. So… They know that there is an injured person nearby because they can sense the presence of fresh blood which isn’t zombified. It takes quite a bit of workaround to sell their heightened sense of smell as a logical plot point, but one which works for the betterment of the story.

Interestingly (or so I think) I chose to call the small interludes ‘INTERMEZZO #1’ etc., rather than the (expected) movie-referencing INTERMISSION. The following is from the first of these pauses, but I’m not sure if it would have ended up being included or not:

Infrastructure is underrated. The societies we build around us depend on independent and subtly woven tapestries of companies, individuals and entire industries which – over decades – have coalesced into an efficient illusion of simple everyday occurrence. It is only when the morning newspapers fail to arrive, or public transport is discontinued, or some other inconvenience shatters our routine that we are forced to confront the possibility that we rely too heavily on the continuance of things which are out of our control.

Wordy and obvious. Meh.

The following is a conversation from near the end of the first chapter.

“Do you want the long version or the short version?”
“Readers Digest version.”
“We’re fucked.”
“Maybe I will take the Director’s Cut after all…”
“Okay, we’re fucked and the dead are walking.”
“Isn’t there a bunch of other information on the commentaries. Like, how-they-did-that segments on the dead walking?”
“Just look out a window.”

Not exactly subtle, but zombie stories aren’t meant to be subtle, right?

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New Stuff, Old Stuff, Weird Stuff & My Stuff

Posted by BigWords on October 10, 2009

I’ve added quite a number of things to the blog upon my return to the interwebs, and even though I’m not quite up to speed (internet weeks aren’t like real weeks, because time works differently online) I have managed to get most of the essentials done. There are programs which still haven’t been loaded onto the laptop, but they can wait while the important business of maintaining this little corner of the internet is attended to.

Two sayings have been running through my mind as I contemplate the quickly approaching NaNo date (November 1), and I guess that the sentiments are widely held because of their ubiquity:

A change is as good as a rest.

Variety is the spice of life.

Those may seem to be simplistic ways of viewing our day-to-day lives (whatever that entails), but they have the nugget of truth that I feel is true in more ways than they are facetious. I like them. I’m also taking the advice oft given that “having a break from the usual routine” can do wonders for the weary soul. That translates as something more akin to a 180° than a slight shift in behavior. I’m almost beginning to feel relieved that I don’t have to do some things.

This post is a change from my usual meanderings, being – as it is – a rough guide to this blog. I’m also prepping my brain for a completely new story for NaNoWriMo. There may be more on that subject once the date comes around…

New stuff (here on my blog) includes a list of places I frequent. Jeez, that sounds so fucking sleazy written out like that, and I’m wondering if ‘frequent’ (as a word) is now associated too deeply with cottaging and dirty old men outside school gates. I would try to think of  a better word if my brain wasn’t so frazzled at the moment, but right now I’m struggling to come up with ways to phrase things that aren’t completely lame-beyond-comparison.

I also attempted to write a Bucket List, but my pathetic attempt fell short of the normal 100 things by quite a way. 95 entries to be exact. Am I that hopeless right now that I can’t even come up with the things I would love to do before the Grim Reaper decides I’m too tasty a snack to ignore any longer? I am, without a doubt, beyond redemption right now, and I can only apologize about my uselessness at filling the list.

Must do better will be my epitaph.

Old stuff which has will been added around here is covered by some of the opening text from my zombie apocalypse magnum opus. (I know, I know… I haven’t typed it up yet, so be patient) There is probably more stuff I can find on my external hard drives, but I need to install some software before I can fully appreciate the wonders which are located on them.

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Whatever the positives or negatives of the companies, the adverts currently spamming British television for gold to sell have been getting rather annoying. After the ridiculous claims have been sifted out of the message they present (gold is not better than cold hard cash) you can begin to see them for what they are… And to have Anne bloody Diamond presenting one of them is beyond a fucking joke.

This is – you may remember – an individual whose claim to fame is being a gob for hire. She would say whatever a person wanted for some cash, like the good little worker bee she is. I remember reading her ludicrous comments in the aftermath of the Bulger case, and she really isn’t the most intelligent person on the planet, never mind the country. It is a hidden message that you would have to be slightly brain-damaged to take the advert seriously.

I’ll expand on this when I find the courage to read some of the crap which she’s written.

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That is all for now. I’ll post something more substantial when I get around to loading in all the stuff I need onto the laptop and get things set up how I like.

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Zombie Wordsearch

Posted by BigWords on September 14, 2009

zombiewordsearchJust for fun – and because my obsession with lists kinds makes them essential – I’m posting a wordsearch here. Sans clues. Yup, that’s right… You’re gonna have to stretch your little gray matter to find all thirty-six words and phrases I have included.

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