The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘zombie apocalypse’

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.

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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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