Glimpses of the Undead
by Julianne Snow
Publication date: November 5th 2013
Genre: Horror, Zombies
From the mind of Julianne Snow comes an undead collection of stories that feature the gamut of emotions and situations. Presented in flash fiction and short stories, the tales are sure to leave you wanting more and checking over your shoulder.
How would a group of children handle an uprising of the undead? What would you do to save a loved one only to find out that you’re facing a different threat altogether? How would a country react to a timely warning at the end of a war? What happens when a vampiric Romeo hits on an unsuspecting human? In a world where the undead are common place and protected, what happens when speed dating produces a love match?
Vanier’s Blueprint: A Zombie Tale
Must Love Zombies
Flash Fiction Duo: Fight and Hunger
Love Bites: A Valentine’s Day Misadventure
An Excerpt from Days with the Undead: Book One
Liberty gazed out at the city of New York from their perch high atop the Empire State Building, her eyes stopping for a moment on the falcon’s nest resting between the front feet of one of the stone gargoyles. The frozen sentry stood guard over the tiny hatchings that clung to the detritus making up the nest, their mother circling the skies above, waiting for her moment to land again. “Look at them…. Do you think there’s anyone else alive down there?”
“Lib, I don’t know. Maybe?” Her brother answered as he searched through his ever-dwindling pack of supplies—soon they’d need to concentrate on restocking, but first they’d have to get out of the city. “Hell, we’re alive, so there must be others too. It’d be some fucked up karma if you and I were the only ones left…”
The words fell between them—dead like so much around them. There was a time after this all started when there were more people who’d survived the initial outbreak. Family, friends, strangers who became friends, even some who didn’t want to connect. But in the past few months, life found a way of happening. Evven the most careful, the ones who never took chances, began to get sloppy. And now Liberty and Trevor were the only ones who remained—alone among the living dead. At least that’s what it felt like…
“Do you see a way out?” Trevor asked, slinging his backpack over his left shoulder and grabbing his trusty round point digging shovel that had seen better days. But it’d also gotten them through a lot of rough times, so he carried it out of need and nostalgia.
“Once we get down to the street, it’s going to be a little rough, but we need to get out of Manhattan.”
“We’re not taking the tunnel, no fucking way Lib!”
Liberty stopped in her tracks as she moved toward the roof’d access door, bringing her head around to stare at her brother, dumbfounded. “Are you fucking kidding me? You think I want to take the tunnel? After the last time?”
Trevor’s body visibly relaxed, but his face still read of panic. They’d come into Manhattan about a month ago with the rest of their group from the New Jersey side—using the Lincoln Tunnel as their point of access. There were still people broadcasting at that time, people who told them Manhattan was free from infection, a last bastion of sorts.
What they hadn’t expected was the influx of the dead who’d found their way into the mouth of the tunnel, both before and after them, all of them moving like a wave that would crash once the light of the sun bathed over them again. They’d lost many that day, only a few managing to break free of the horde to find refuge in the husk of a building. The escape was harrowing and since that day, their numbers had dwindled steadily as they moved around the island, looking for a way to get off.
“We’re going to take I-78 and cross the Hudson. Might not be the best option, but from what I can see, it looks pretty clear.” She spoke with a level of authority, knowing it was what Trevor needed from her in the moment. While he was great in the thick of things, getting him to make a needed move was sometimes difficult.
“Okay let’s get moving then. We need to make it out before the sun goes down.”
Getting down to the street was a slow process for the pair—while the stairwell wasn’t a haven for the undead, the descent exhausted the energy stores within their muscles quickly, demanding they stop every few flights to rest. Once at the bottom, they peered around a corner to get a look at the street through the glass panes that surrounded the lobby. For the moment, everything looked clear.
“Should we go now, or do you want to rest for a few minutes?”
Trevor looked at his sister before answering, “If you’re good to go, so am I.”
With the decision made, the pair crept to the large revolving door they’d locked after entering the building a few days previous. They hadn’t wanted to worry about anyone or anything finding its way up the stairs after them. As quietly as possible, Trevor slid the bolt up from its snug reservoir in the marble floor, his eyes searching the street for any movement. Straightening back up, he placed both hands on the push bar of the door and glanced back at his sister, eyes searching her face for any hesitation. Seeing none, he leaned his body weight forward and the door started to spin.
“Wait!” It was Liberty, her hand grabbing on to his pack, pulling his body backward, making him lose the forward momentum.
“What?” The fear was back in his voice, his eyes scanning left and right up the street in a panicked frenzy.
Then he saw it. The flash of vibrant purple that had caught Liberty’s attention.
“Is she alive?” Trevor whispered, his question falling heavily in the absolute silence.
The pair stared as the girl with the purple hair came toward them, her body burdened by the pack on her back and the sling she wore across the front of her body. “Is that a baby?”
Her hands smacked up against the glass, panic evident on her face. “Let me in!”
The request was simple, but full of danger. She could be infected. Or worse. She could be one of those people who were sent out to lure other unsuspecting survivors into an ambush where her cohorts would claim supplies and weapons, possibly even their lives.
Her hands banged against the double-paned glass again as she looked back over her left shoulder, the bundle strapped over her chest wriggling around frantically. “Seriously, they’re coming!”
Looking in the direction of her gaze, they could see the living dead round the corner, their lifeless eyes searching for the movement that had brought them to the intersection. Seeing the body banging on the glass only a few feet away gave them a burst of energy, as if new life was breathed into their deadened limbs. With renewed purpose, they moved faster.
Trevor and Liberty shared a look, a silent question passing between them. In the end, they made the only choice they could—yes. With a quick push on the revolving door, Trevor propelled the door around on its ring, sucking the young girl into the building before making his way back around. Quickly slamming the lock back into place, he ushered Liberty and the new girl back into the hallway that contained the bank of now useless elevators.
“Have you been bit?” Liberty asked the question, knowing what the price would be if she answered yes.
Liberty stared at her for a while, sizing up the answer and trying to figure out whether or not to believe her. Lynn stared right back, with no fear in her eyes and a look that said she was willing to back up her claim.
“What’s your name?” It was Trevor who asked, breaking the awkward silence between them.
“Lynn. Lynn Hardgrove.” She pushed out her palm in an attempt to shake, but let her hand fall back to her side when neither of them made the move to accept the gesture. “And this here is Stanley.”
As she drew back the cloth, Trevor and Liberty were both surprised to see a small pig poke its snout out. It grunted quickly and then nestled back into the warmth of her body.
“Yeah, he’s been with me since the beginning. As soon as any of them get close, he lets me know it’s time to move!” Her hand cupped the bundle and stroked the fabric lovingly. “Pigs are actually really smart.”
As if to prove her right, Stanley began to squirm against her just before the banging started. Looking around the corner quickly, they saw the undead pressing themselves up against the glass, their grimy hands trying to break through to get to their prize. It was in the moment that Liberty knew there was no way Lynn could be infected—the pig wouldn’t have been so calm otherwise.
“What are you doing in the city? Are you part of a bigger group?”
“No, it’s just me left. My boyfriend and I had been hiding out in an abandoned building for a few weeks, listening to anything we could find on the airwaves. He was ex-Military and knew some of their emergency frequencies, so we listened in the hopes that someone would tell us what to do.”
“What happened to him?” Trevor asked as he poked his head around the corner to take another look at the situation out front.
“He went out one day and never came back. I waited a few days and then figured it was time I made a move of my own.” Lynn relayed the information without emotion and Liberty understood why—you could only mourn so many before loss became so common, it was all you experienced. “Hey, have either of you heard of a city called Setagaya?”
Trevor looked back, puzzled, “No, why?”
“Well, on the radio there was this guy who said he was from Setagaya and that he’d found a cure.”
“Yeah right! A cure for death? Are you fucking kidding me?”
“No I’m serious,” Lynn continued. “He said he had a cure. He explained it a little bit; said he couldn’t cure those who were already dead, but that he could prevent those of us who were uninfected from getting infected. Even said he’d cured two people who’d be recently bit.”
“Really?” Trevor asked, hope relighting in his eyes.
Liberty knew it was dangerous to foster hope, especially lately, but even she wanted to believe it was true. Now they just had to figure out where Setagaya was and how to get there…
When I was considering what to write for my zOctober 2014 post, I knew I wanted it to be interactive, so I asked the world of Facebook for 9 people to send me a private message. Those 9 people who messaged me were each asked a question and their answers were what I used as elements to construct this story around. A huge thank you goes out to them:
* Susan Pigott named Trevor.
* Rachelle Bishop named Liberty.
* Rhonda Parrish gave them a round point digging shovel as a weapon.
* Michael Ball wanted them to see the beauty of a falcon’s nest with hatchlings high atop the Empire State Building.
* Lindsay Galloway wanted Setagaya, a district of Tokyo, to figure into the story at some point.
* Liz Zee who wanted to see a little purple in the tale.
* Becky Stephens named Lynn.
* Emily Walker thought the best animal to include was a pig.
* Jessica Dunston who simply answered Yes!
So there you have it—Alone Among the Living Dead… Do you think you would survive?
~About the Author~
Julianne Snow is the author of the Days with the Undead series. She writes within the realms of speculative fiction, has roots that go deep into horror and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. Julianne has pieces of short fiction in publications from Sirens Call Publications, Open Casket Press, James Ward Kirk Publishing and Hazardous Press as well as the forthcoming shorts in anthologies from 7DS Books, Phrenic Press, and the Coffin Hop charity anthology Death by Drive-In. Look for parts in a number of collaborative projects to be announced shortly.
Julianne’s Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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