By Rebecca Besser
Zombie culture has taken the world by storm. We have everything from cell phone commercials to The Walking Dead (the main cultural phenomenon that has everyone at the edge of their seats asking for more – if they’re a fan, that is).
But, with this surge of interest in zombies comes a problem. What is it? Well, I’m going to tell you.
The problem is that the reader/watcher gets the same scenario over and over again in almost every zombie story.
The people in zombie stories seem to always be trying to fight the horde of the undead while they are scraping by day to day just to survive. The survival is what keeps people captivated (and the gore!). If you’re anything like me, you put yourself in the character’s shoes and see if you could do better. You’re in awe of some of the character’s survival knowledge, which actually comes from the author; these are the things that make each author and story just a little bit different. It’s all in the perspective.
The problem with the plot repetition though, as far as commonality, is that it’s easy to get bored with the same regurgitate plot over and over again. Especially when there’s no new survival info introduced. This gives zombie writers, like myself, a real challenge. Those of us who have been writing about zombies and want to hold our own in the genre need to think outside the normal zombie box, so to speak, and come up with something new to “Wow!” our audience. We need to give the readers new angles…new stories.
And that’s what I strive to do in my books.
In my book, Undead Drive-Thru, there is one zombie. Yes, you heard me, one zombie. The story is about a man who comes home to his wife as a zombie, and she loves him too much to kill him, or let anyone else kill him. What does she do? She keeps him like a pet until things get out of hand and others get involved. The book is more about the story of a human heart dealing with the change of a loved one and the dangers that could bring, than the classic “survival” zombie tale.
Another of my books, Cursed Bounty (a novella available for Kindle), is about one zombie as well… Or it is to start out. There are more by the end. But, in this case, I give you a voodoo zombie who is being used by a politician for personal gain, set in the Old Wild West.
So…if you’re interested in some zombie tales that are out of the box, you should check out my books.
Now, when it comes to short stories… I stay old school and go with the hordes of zombies and people trying to survive. There’s still fun to be had there, it’s just harder to be original. In my story, To Walk the Halls (now available to read on my blog), in the Code Z anthology, I take the hospital outbreak scenario on a whole new journey of horrific and wrong. It’s sure to…er…turn your stomach (pun from the story).
But, even if the stories are something from outside the zombie box, or old school survival, keep reading zombie fiction! Zombies are always fun, right?
Excerpt from Undead Drive-Thru:
PROLOGUE – TWO YEARS AGO . . .
“Betty Jones was setting the table for supper when her husband, Sam, stumbled through their apartment’s door. His clothes were torn and duct tape was hanging from his wrists, knees, and ankles. After only five steps through the doorway, he fell hard onto the floor with a grunt.
“Sam!” Betty screamed and ran down the hall, dropping to her knees beside him. She lifted his head and cradled it in her left arm, stroking his cheek tenderly with her right hand. “What happened?”
His eyes fluttered open and he looked up at his wife with pain etched across his face. “Betty . . .” he breathed and then passed out, his head lulling to the side.
Betty shook him and yelled, “Sam! Wake up!”
He didn’t respond. As she moved to lay his head gently on the floor so she could call 9-1-1, she noticed two things: 1) The tape that had apparently been used to bind him, had been cut and not ripped; and 2) There was a small red circle on the side of his neck. On closer inspection, she noted that there was a tiny hole in the center, reminding her of an injection site.
Without thinking on these discoveries for any longer than a split second, she pulled herself to her feet with the help of a small table set in the hallway and rushed to the phone to call for emergency assistance. She’d just gotten through to an operator when Sam suddenly woke up with a loud, startling moan.
Betty dropped the phone into its cradle and darted back into the hall to help Sam to his feet, because his movements were slow and awkward.
She gasped when he was finally standing and she could look up into his face. His eyes were glazed and cloudy – almost completely white – and slobber was running down his chin, dripping onto his shirt.
“Sam, what happened to you?” she asked on a gasping sob. “Please, tell me!”
He leaned closer to her and sniffed loudly before a crooked grin spread across his face, the drool increasing in volume. Without warning he lunged forward and tried to pin her to the wall as his jaws snapped open and shut, seeking flesh.
She spun slightly when he tried to attack her and broke free of his strong grasp, falling to the floor between the hall and the bathroom. The strength of his forward advance flung him headfirst into the bathroom, leaving him sprawled on the tile floor. Quickly, Betty rose up on her knees and gripped the doorknob, yanking the door shut as the phone began to ring, trapping him.
She was sobbing uncontrollably and leaned back against the door for support; she was shaking too badly to hold herself up on her own. She screamed every time he slammed against the solid wood with the entire weight of his body, hissing and moaning.
Slowly, she crawled over to the phone and answered it; the emergency dispatcher was on the line. Betty fought for composer and forced her mind to work. She knew if she told them about Sam, they would come and take him away. After all, she’d seen enough zombie movies to know what he’d become. They would either use him as an experiment – which she thought someone already had because of the tape and the wound on his neck – or they would simply kill him.
In the most controlled, assured voice she could manage, she told the operator that she’d accidentally dialed the wrong number and apologized.
After hanging up the phone, Betty let the sobs she was holding back break forth again.
Once she again regained some composure, she stood and walked shakily back to the bathroom door where the banging continued. She placed her palms flat on the smooth, white, painted surface of the wood and rested her forehead between them.
“Sam,” she called out, “I don’t know what has happened to you, but I’ll be here for you forever. I love you . . .” She paused as her voice caught on a sob. “. . . so much. I’ll take care of you as long as I live, and won’t let anything or anyone hurt you. I promise!”
On the other side of the door, the hungry zombie who’d once been her husband continued to try to get the food he knew was just out of reach; pounding, moaning, clawing, hissing, wanting . . .”
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Rebecca Besser resides in Ohio with her wonderful husband and amazing son. They’ve come to accept her quirks as normal while she writes anything and everything that makes her inner demons squeal with delight. She’s best known for her work in adult horror, but has been published in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for a variety of age groups and genres. She’s entirely too cute to be scary in person, so she turns to the page to instill fear into the hearts of the masses.
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© Rebecca Besser, 2014.