Welcome to zOctober 2013!
First up we have the AWESOME Melanie Karsak, author of The Harvesting and the upcoming steampunk novel, Chasing the Star Garden. She has put together a really cool Choose Your Own Adventure Zombie Apocalypse style post for your entertainment. Are you skilled enough to survive? I hope so because there is an awesome giveaway in store for you! Much luck to you, my friends.
Your name is Layla Petrovich. You are a medieval weapons curator and fencing master living in Washington DC. It’s Friday night; you’re teaching fencing class but are daydreaming about your date later that night. You’re surprised when you receive a phone call from you’re your bossy family matriarch, Grandma Petrovich, who orders you to “come home right away.” There is no explanation, just a commandment. Easier said than done considering “home” is five hours away, you are buried in work since everyone else is out with the flu, and the last thing you want to do is go back home where Ian, your first love, still lives. But you know when Grandma speaks she usually means business. What will you do?
You stay in DC. You’ll go home next weekend, after your date, when you have more time to prepare and more time to build up your courage just in case you cross paths with Ian again — Go to 2.
Like it or not, you love your Grandmother and when she says “come home,” you go home. Begrudgedly, you cancel your date and leave your work and your life behind to head home to rural Hamletville where there is nothing waiting for you but the ghosts of a past you would rather leave behind — Go to 3.
You stay in DC, but everyone is getting really sick. People are dying from a flu that seems to have a 100% mortality rate. By Wednesday, a pandemic has swept across the nation. DC is hard hit. To your horror, you begin to hear the sounds of your neighbors, now infected, trying to break into your apartment. Through the peep hole, you see their eyes are moon white and they are frothing at the mouth. They look dead–well, undead! They beat on your apartment door. You lay low and hold up well in your attic apartment in Georgetown, fending off anything that gets through with your ancient weapons, but you are trapped. There is no way out. One night, you fight your way to the roof of your apartment building. As you are perched on the roof thinking about how to make your escape, you are shocked by what you see. DC has fallen. The smell of smoke fills the air. The capital is on fire! You realize, as the military jets light up the city and surrounding area, you should have listened to Grandma Petrovich. DC is overrun. They are firebombing the city in an effort to kill the undead. Too bad you were still alive. Sorry, but you did not survive.
You made it back to rural Hamletville only to find that Grandma Petrovich had boarded up her small country cabin, secured the property perimeter with fencing, and has stock-piled months’ worth of supplies: food, ammo, medicine, gasoline, wood, everything. On top of that, Grandma Petrovich is now insisting on teaching you how to shoot an automatic weapon! What the hell, Grandma! You relent, but you still ask questions Grandma won’t answer. Exhausted and confused, you and Grandma take a break and watch TV. A news report reveals that a pandemic with a 100% death rate is creeping across the nation. Grandma reassures you everything will be fine as long as you “see.” She gives you a cup of her special mushroom tea, and you black out. You wake more than a day later to find Grandma missing. You hike into the woods where you can catch a bird’s eye glimpse of the town. Through your binoculars, you see people running through the streets, houses on fire, and hear gunshots ringing through the valley. And you see Ian, alive, being chased by . . . something . . . someone? You turn to find yourself face-to-face with the spirit of a Native American chief who orders you to “help them” before he disappears back into the ether. What do you do?
Run like hell back to Grandma’s cabin, close up the gate, lock the doors, and tune into the TV to figure out what you should do — Go to 4.
You run back to the cabin, grab the guns and the dirt bike, then take off toward town — Go to 5.
You decided to sit tight at the cabin and wait and see what you should do next. When Grandma never comes back, you worry, but you know you are better off staying at home. Grandma has the place well-stocked so you should be okay. Your plan is to stay in the cabin until help arrives. But then you see Grandma Petrovich at the door. You race to let her inside only to discover she is infected. Her eyes moon white, mouth frothing, she forces he way in and tries to eat you alive! You manage to grab a gun and blast her full of bullets, but nothing stops her! Weeping, you fall breathlessly against the wall of the cabin causing a picture of you and your grandmother to smash to pieces on the floor. You close your eyes and feel Grandma’s teeth sink into your skin, her hands, which brought you into this world, ripping your flesh from the bone. Sorry, but you’re now undead.
5) As you turn toward town, you are waylaid when you discover Grandma Petrovich: she has been bitten. Much to your amazement, you think you can hear Grandma’s voice in your head: “kill me,” your Grandmother commands. You raise your weapon and shoot her between the eyes. You are stunned. You bend on the ground beside your grandmother and weep bitterly. Desperate to save the others, and hoping Ian is still alive, you leave Grandma behind and head into town only to discover everyone is trapped in the community center which is now surrounded by the undead. What should you do?
You decided to take on the undead horde. After all, no help is coming. You have plenty of ammo and a lot of nerve. Ian is still alive in there. Won’t you try to save him? — Go to 6.
You freeze. There must be at least 50 biting, clawing, and unthinking undead outside the building. And Cooper’s six year old daughter Maddie, who you once babysat so her mom could get her hair done, is headed straight for you! — Go to 7.
You brace yourself, grabbing yours weapons, and make your assault. With a little luck, you are able to clear the place. Once the undead are subdued, you enter the building to find many of the citizens are still alive, including Ian and his brother Jamie with whom you have always been great friends. You saved the town and are now the de facto leader. You and Jamie get to work organizing the citizens to help secure the small lakeside town. Hamletville, sitting at the edge of nowhere, with only one route in and out of town, is relatively safe in its isolation. You are Jamie are getting along great. In fact, you start seeing Jaime in a whole new light which leaves you feeling very confused. Ian is keeping his distance; his wife Kristy died during the pandemic. A week later, after a day of clearing away the town’s undead alongside Jaime, Ian shows up at your cabin. He is drunk, sad, and wants you. What do you do?
You give in. Who would have though the end of the world would bring you and your first love back together? — Go to 8.
You tell Ian to go home and mourn his wife like a real man should. Maybe you aren’t over Ian yet, but your emerging feelings for Jaime have left you complete confused. This isn’t the right time to patch things up with Ian — Go to 9.
You pull out your gun, but you just can’t shoot. She is a child! You hesitate. You remember the girl’s sweet laughter and how much you both cackled when you played Operation together. You hesitate. You remember how she smelled like baby lotion and how sweet she looked when you sung her to sleep that night. She’s moving so fast. You pull your gun, but you can’t pull the trigger. You close your eyes. Moments later, the child knocks you to the ground; you feel her teeth sinking into your flesh. Sorry, but you’re now undead.
8.You wake up the next morning and realize you’ve made a terrible mistake. You try to explain your convoluted feelings to Ian, but he gets angry and storms out of the house. In his rage, he doesn’t check to see if the yard is clear. Ian opens the door and Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher, your neighbors, who now undead, barge in on you and Ian. Caught unaware, Ian is the first to be bitten. Mr. Fletcher chews his fingers from his hand. Ian tries to protect you, but he fails. Mrs. Fletcher makes her attack, pinning you in a corner in the dining room from which there is no escape. You huddle into the corner, feeling Mrs. Fletcher’s bloody saliva drip on your face, her breath smelling like rotted meat. She leans in, and her sharp teeth rip apart your flesh. Sorry, but you are now undead.
Months pass. Your feelings for Jaime grow stronger, and Ian has come to accept that you and his brother are now a couple. One evening in the early spring, visitors arrive from an island in the Great Lakes. They offer to take the remaining citizens of Hamletville to their island. The strangers are living in the massive Harpwind Grand Hotel. They have doctors, food, and are so secluded that the undead cannot reach them. All of the Hamletville citizens are eager to leave, but you remember what your grandmother told you. She told you to “see,” and your instincts are telling you something isn’t quite right with these pale, odd moving, frost-blue eyed strangers. What will you do?
You refuse to leave Hamletville even though Jaime, Ian, and all the others are making the journey to the Harpwind. Everyone thinks you being paranoid. Well, to hell with them. You know a rat when you see one. Let them suffer their fate — Go to 10.
Against your will, you go with the others to the Harpwind for the sole purpose of keeping everyone safe. You know these strangers are not what they seem, but sense no one else “sees” the same way you do, you will have to go along if you want to protect the ones you love — Go to 11.
You face a tough spring all alone. Food is running low. You go out into the woods to go hunting, tracking a deer deep in the forest. You push through a thicket only to startle a bear. It chases you through the deep woods. In your panic, you slip on some ice and fall into a deep ravine. As you lay dazed at the bottom of the ravine, your legs clearly broken, blood filling your mouth, you flutter in and out of consciousness. Night is coming. It is early spring and still very cold. No help is coming. The undead do not find you, but two days later you die from your injuries-and your stubbornness.
It doesn’t take long for the strangers from the Harpwind to reveal their true nature. People begin disappearing, your hosts cast no reflection, and their leader, Rumor, seems to dislike you in particular. When Kira and Susan, the only two Hamletville children, disappear, you decide to investigate. You discover, much to your horror, that the strangers are a different kind of undead: they are vampires. Their purpose in bringing you there becomes clear. They are protecting their food supply. In the midst of what looks like either a blood bath or an orgy, you spot Kira and Susan who are dressed for sacrifice. What will you do?
You risk getting caught by the vampires to save the girls. After all, you knew there was something off about these people, and a spirit of the land charged you to help Hamletville’s citizens — Go to 13.
You run like hell. Grabbing Jaime, you commander a boat and headed back to Hamletville. You are no vampire slayer. You and Jaime will play it safe back home — Go to 12.
The vampires spot you and Jaime fleeing from the Harpwind. Shifting into their spirituous form, they upset the boat, toppling you and Jaime into the chilly waters of the Lake Erie. They could kill you, draining your blood, but watching you drown in the icy water is far more fun. After you and Jaime sink below they waves, the vampires return to the Harpwind to finish snacking on all the Hamleville citizens you abandoned.
With a lot of courage and a little luck, you save Kira and Susan and slay a few vampires in the process. You get the remaining citizens of Hamletville organized and wage war on the vampires. You burn down the Harpwind Grand Hotel, killing the vampires, as you flee the island. You are fortunate. Another ethereal earth spirit, this time a shapechanger, leads your group to a magical passage off the island. You and the remaining survivors are led to a labyrinth through which you will make your escape. You don’t know where the labyrinth leads, but you know it takes you away from the vampires who are intent on killing you. Congratulations! You have survived the undead apocalypse—both zombies and vampires! You are able to lead your friends to safety and ensure the safety of the most innocent of your group. You suffer losses in the battle escaping from the vampires, but you trust the earth spirits to protect you and lead you away from harm.
Well, how did you do? Were you badass enough to make it to the end? You can answer the question for entry into the epic giveaway below.
by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Harvesting #1
Publication: September 18th 2012
Publisher: Steampunk Press
Genre: Horror, Urban Fantasy
Read my FIVE ZOMBIE HEAD review here!
When mankind finally consumes itself, can any spark of humanity survive? Layla fights to keep those she loves alive when the zombie apocalypse unfolds, but she soon learns that zombies are not the only problem. With mankind silenced, those beings living on the fringe seek to reclaim power. Layla must learn who to trust, fast, if she hopes to save what is left of our kind.
In this case it doesn’t matter if you survived the zombie apocalypse or not because you still get the chance to win one of three awesome zombie swag bundles from Melanie Karsak! Three winners will receive:
1) An autographed paperback of “The Harvesting”
2) “The Harvesting” T-shirt (It’s all fun and games until someone ends up undead is printed on the back, the book cover is on the front)
3) “The Harvesting” swag including signed postcards
~About the Author~
Melanie Karsak, steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Visit the author at her blog to learn more about upcoming projects, book signings, and other neato things. Visit her online at melaniekarsak.blogspot.com.
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