Welcome to the zombie apocalypse. This is a Choose Your Own Adventure story that you control! When prompted, simply make your choice and follow it to the corresponding number. Can you survive the journey, or will one wrong move end your life? Proceed to 1 to find out.
It’s the end of a sticky hot day in Melbourne, Australia. The red sun dips low behind suburban roofs. Since an unknown virus has swept through the population, turning perfectly healthy people into rabid zombies, it kind of makes traveling in the dark difficult. Every decision you make now is crucial.
Your name is Kean Kinley, and if you weren’t currently running down the middle of a rubbish strewn road with six zombies on your tail then you might make a joke about trying to say your name ten times fast. But alas, times have changed. Other survivors might hurl themselves over a fence, sprint up stairs or step over a low gate, but you cannot because Henry, your twelve-year-old brother, is in a wheelchair. Everyone else you know is dead, and you are Henry’s last hope. No pressure or anything. Remember, in the zombie apocalypse, every choice counts. Keep running. Go to 2.
Your legs burn. Your lungs ache. Sweat drips down your face. Henry holds your only weapon, a Maglite torch the size of your forearm. Behind you, the zombies trip over wheely bins and bits of clothing snag on their legs as they surge through a maze of abandoned suitcases. But their blank eyes never leave you. You’re the only moving target out here. That is, until you hear a voice. There’s a woman standing in the doorway of a single-story orange-brick house, frantically gesturing to you. You only have moments to assess her before you reach the house. She looks normal enough: middle aged, spotless white trousers and blue blouse. Perhaps that’s strange in an apocalypse, but at least she doesn’t look bitten. You could keep running. You don’t know if you can trust her and there are plenty of other places to find shelter. What will you choose?
GO TO THE SURVIVOR: Go to 3 — KEEP RUNNING: Go to 4
You suddenly change trajectory and bump Henry up the driveway, sprinting towards the woman. You skid across the dead flowerbed and clatter through the door. The woman pulls it shut, just as the zombies pound up against the entrance. They can’t get through, so you let out the breath you’ve been holding and check Henry’s okay. You do the standard survivor introductions—who you are, who you were, and where you’re going. Marlena was a primary school teacher and is heading to her brother’s house. As she talks you notice there’s a lot of noise coming from the backyard. You peer out the window and see the shed door rattling. Marlena shrugs and tells you it’s nothing. Do you agree?
INVESTIGATE SHED: Go to 5 — IGNORE: Go to 6
You ignore the woman because you know survivors can be just as dangerous as zombies, but now you don’t have an open door to dive into. Chances are you’ll be caught before you even think of getting one open. You keep running and spot an orange Kia with just enough ground clearance to hide under. You’ve hidden under cars before and lived. But you could also try the doors and get inside if you’re quick enough. It’s a risk, but it looks like a storm is brewing and it could be a rough night on the ground…
HIDE UNDER CAR: Go to 7 — TRY CAR DOORS: Go to 8
As you head outside you notice something strange. The shed door handle is turning, but it’s bolted from the outside. As far as you know zombies can’t open doors, so you decide to check it out. Marlena sees your intention and warns you not to do it, but doesn’t give a reason. You help Henry out into the backyard, take your torch weapon and unlatch the shed door. The door rips back and two people –a dad and his teenage daughter – come running out. They scream about how crazy Marlena is and how she locked them in there. And when you turn to Marlena she’s gone. But she’s left you a surprise. While you were distracted she opened the driveway gate and several zombies wandered in. You could run the gauntlet of zombies with the dad and his daughter, and if you work together you might survive, or would you rather hide in the shed and let the other survivors fend for themselves?
HIDE IN SHED: Go to 9 — RUN THE GAUNTLET: Go to 10
You decide to ignore it and try to get some rest. It’s been a hard day for everyone. You share a bottle of water with Henry while Marlena sits in the corner, cutting a bruised apple up with a kitchen knife that’s more sword than bread knife. At least she gives you both a third, but then she destroys her charity by saying it would go further if there was only one other person to share it with. She keeps glancing at Henry. You’re not sure about her, but it’ll be dark soon. Do you really want to risk running away to find shelter of your own, or will you pretend not to notice the strange things she’s saying and sleep in the other room? You might be able to sneak out but what if she catches you?
LEAVE: Go to 5 – SLEEP IN OTHER ROOM: Go to 16
You sprint toward the car and tell Henry your plan. Naturally, he doesn’t object. The air is full of gargling hungry moans of things that were once people, but now just want to eat your brains. As soon as you reach the car you tip Henry onto the road, trying to be gentle, but he hits the bitumen hard and starts dragging himself on his elbows. You abandon his chair and you run to the front of the car, diving under to grab Henry’s wrists and yank him to safety. The road is still warm from the scorching summer day, and as you wriggle in, you think you might live to see another day. That is, until a zombie starts gnawing on the sole of your sneaker. You kick about frantically as zombies surround the car, and thankfully your shoe flicks off and you slide under the car. All you can do now is wait. Henry comments on how he’s too old to top and tail with you now. He’s trying to make you smile. You wiggle your set of bare toes and say, just a foot away from being caught. You wait all night and in the morning the zombies have lost interest and wandered off. They’ve even left your shoe! You decide you need supplies now, but where do you get them?
SUPERMARKET: Go to 11 – NEARBY HOUSE: Go to 12
Faced with an uncomfortable night stuck under a car in a possible rainstorm, you decide you’d much prefer the luxury of the car’s spacious interior, no matter the risk. The only trouble is that the doors are all locked! And when you try to break your way in, an ear splitting alarm goes off, attracting every zombie with a five-kilometer radius. There’s no time to think, they’re on you so fast. At least you manage to give Henry a shove away and keep the zombies distracted long enough for him to get clear. Who knows what happens to Henry, but your fate is most definitely sealed.
OH DEAR. YOU ARE KILLED HORRIBLY, BUT AT LEAST HENRY GOT AWAY. To try again: Go to 2
You dive into the shed and leave the other two to do all the dirty work. They don’t stand much of chance on their own, but that’s not your problem. It’s every man for themselves now. That’s what you tell yourself at least. Horrible noises come from outside. Shrill screams and snarls. You can’t tell what’s going on. After some time, the backyard goes quiet. There aren’t any windows to peek out of, and suddenly you hear the most horrific noise of all. The bolt on the other side of the door clunks into place, and slowly you realise that Marlena must have trapped you inside. There’s no way out. The walls are too strong. And sadly, that’s it for you.
GAME OVER, BUT HEY AT LEAST YOU WEREN’T ZOMBIFIED! To try again: Go to 2
You choose to help your fellow survivors and decide to run the gauntlet with them. The dad and daughter use deckchairs to ram the zombies out of your way, and you knock any down that don’t fall. You’re not killing any zombies today, just making sure you buy enough time to get away clean. When you make it back to the road the dad takes down a zombie with a chair smack to the head. There isn’t time for a proper goodbye but the dad yells says he wants to show you how grateful he is. He starts jumping up and down, screaming, distracting the zombies and giving you a chance to get away with Henry. You see the dad and daughter running and you’re sure they’ll make it, so you turn and run in the opposite direction. But where to go? You need supplies and weapons. You could duck into a nearby house, which probably won’t be well stocked, but there’s less chance of running into more zombies. Though, if you go to the supermarket you can see in the distance, you’d have a much better chance of getting everything you need…
SUPERMARKET: Go to 11 — NEARBY HOUSE: Go to 12
Nope. That wasn’t a good choice. You duck into the Woolworths but it’s pitch dark inside! You can’t see your brother, your hands or even the end of your nose. Your ears prick at an ominous sound… a can rolling across the floor toward you. You hold your breath and move right, pushing Henry away from the noise. Henry turns on your torch and a low groan rumbles from deep within aisle nine. You’re not alone. Do you keep going further into the dark, hoping to find life saving supplies or turn back… towards the rolling can. How did that start rolling, by the way? Hmm, strange…
KEEP GOING: Go to 13 — TURN BACK: Go to 14
You slip into a nearby house. You pick a small square grey-brick home because of the ramp leading to the front door. Henry guesses the key will be under the doormat and you bet on the under the pot-plant option. Good thing money doesn’t have any value anymore or you would have lost a big chunk. It begins to rain as you sneak inside. All the doors leading from the hallway are closed, so you pick the closest one and peer in. Something bursts out and falls over you. Your heart almost explodes, but then you realise it’s just a bunch of teddy bears and dolls trying to attack you. Unable to take the shock of opening another closed door, you decide to keep moving, though not before noticing some umbrellas tucked away amongst the toys. They might be handy in the rain and double as weapons. Or would the coats hanging on the hooks be better because they’ll leave your hands free. Which do you prefer?
RAINCOATS: Go to 15 – UMBRELLAS: Go to 17
Cold slaps that sound like bare feet on linoleum echo in the darkness. You stumble about, pushing Henry right through a stack of what you think are cereal boxes and causing a major avalanche. You keep running from the zombie sounds and quickly find a wall… and then a door. You burst into the room, slam the door behind you and listen. Everything’s quiet. Henry shines the torch around the room. Thankfully this manager’s office is empty. You settle in for the night and let Henry use your lap as a cushion. It takes you a long time to fall asleep, sitting against the wall, but your body manages the miracle somehow. When you wake, sickly grey light seeps in through the small pane of glass probably used for spying on workers before the apocalypse. You help Henry into his wheelchair and let him search the room as you peek out the door. You can’t see any zombies, but you can see the rain through the front windows. How depressing. The only interesting thing Henry finds is an exhaustive box of lost property that has probably been in business since the supermarket was born. Your keen eye spots some rain gear, but would you rather have the raincoats that will leave your hands free for goodness knows what, or the umbrellas that could double as weapons?
RAINCOATS: Go to 15 – UMBRELLAS: Go to 17
Ooh, a tin of alphabet spaghetti. How delightful. That will settle your rumbling stomach. Now if you could only find a can opener. Perhaps you can ask the zombified checkout man coming towards you! Oh no, too late. Seems he has another kind of meal on the brain. You… and your brains. I’ll spare you the grizzly details, but you’re basically doomed to roam Woolworths forever with your brother and the checkout guy because you just can’t manage to get your zombie brain around the complicated task of opening doors.
CLEAN UP IN AISLE TWO. YOU ARE ZOMBIFIED! To try again: Go to 2
You slip into the slightly musty smelling rain jackets, hoping they’re more waterproof that a bunch of lame umbrellas. You zip your zips, fasten your Velcro tabs and pull up your hoods. After a quick check out the window, you swiftly exit the premises and escape into the pummeling rain. Each drop against your plastic hood is deafening. You start walking; unaware of the sounds you would be able to hear if you didn’t have hoods on. The dragging of feet on the bitumen, the mournful groans. As you enter the street, so does an enormous horde of hungry zombies. They see you, and you barely have time to feel shocked before they’re on you.
YOU KEPT THE RAIN OUT BUT NOT THE ZOMBIES. YOU ARE DEAD. To try again: Go to 2
Wow, you just love ignoring warning signs, huh? You shut yourselves in one of the bedrooms and try to get some sleep. A few hours later you wake to Henry’s startled voice. Marlena is trying to steal your brother and almost has him wheeled out the front door! You leap up and wrestle with Marlena as she tries to lock your brother out. You win that battle and dive outside to get Henry, only to find Marlena slams the door on both of you. All the fighting has attracted a garden full of zombies who now all turn their attention to you. There’s only one thing to do. You run to the side of the house, shouting and waving and the zombies follow you. You send out one last heroic cry: go one without me brother! And he does. Who knows what happens to Henry, but one thing is sure…
YOU ARE ZOMBIFIED. MY CONDOLENCES. To try again: Go to 2
You choose the his-and-her set of sturdy looking umbrellas. Naturally you end up with the lavender one with white polka dots and a tassel on the handle, while Henry gets the boxy grey golf umbrella. After a quick check through the window, you exit the premises and dash into the rain. Before you can even lift the umbrellas you hear a strange sound. You step slowly behind a row of bins just as a huge horde of zombies come shambling past. Phew, that was close. You wait until they’re gone and then head in the opposite direction, right into the driving rain. When you hit the main roads and see the Ballarat Road onramp, you take it. You know it leads to the freeway, and even though you don’t know where you’re going just yet, you do want to leave the western suburbs far behind. You push Henry through the grey rain as you shelter under your umbrellas, and you hope like heck you’re adventure won’t be over too soon. Congratulations. You survived! Although who knows what the tomorrow will bring? You have made some wise choices. There’s still hope for you yet.
OH YEAH! YOU ARE A SURVIVOR.
Let everyone know how you did in the comments below! And if you want to see what Kean and Henry do next please check out Arcadium FREE for Kindle and Nook during this event! (don’t worry, it’s not a Choose Your Own Adventure, so you can just sit back and enjoy the read). Thanks for playing!
by Sarah Gray
Series: Arcadium #1
Publication date: August 13th 2012
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Zombies
What is Arcadium? Florence knows but she’s not telling anyone, and it could just be the key to the survival of the human race.
Sixteen-year-old Florence West must journey across a disease ravaged Melbourne with her nine-year-old sister Liss, and she’ll do anything to survive. Mostly that means staying clear of all people, the healthy ones on the run and the infected ones hungry for human flesh. But when she meets a man that speaks no English and a defiant set of brothers, Florence will be forced to question her ways. Because there’s only so far you can go alone, right?
Arcadium is a heart-stopping journey of hope across a ravaged urban land where survival always comes at a heavy price.
by Sarah Gray
Series: Arcadium #2
Expected publication: 2013
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Zombies
Think Florence got her happily ever after? Think again.
They’ve found safety in a beautiful mountain sanctuary.
But they’re not alone. Someone’s watching.
When the infection claims one her group, Florence West will find out just how far she’ll go to keep her family together, even if it means risking their lives with a lie.
But when the truth is uncovered, it will begin a chain of events capable of shattering their fragile existence. Forever.
The truth is coming in 2013.
This giveaway is for 5 eBook copies of Skylight, book #2 in the Arcadium series. It will not be available until later this year, but in the meantime grab your copy of Arcadium for FREE and get started on one of my FAVORITE READS of 2013!
~About the Author~
Born and raised in New Zealand, Sarah Gray spent her teenage years in Australia, where she raced go-karts, studied graphic design and then sports management, before deciding that all along she’d just wanted to be a novelist. After studying professional writing and editing in Melbourne, Sarah ended up in England where she now resides in the ever rainy Lake District working as an outdoor activity instructor and writing in her spare moments.
Sarah’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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