Friday, September 30, 2011

Epilogue: October Zombies

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Paranormal Wastelands
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Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Dr. Darkfallen: Did you hear that?
Count Gretchula: Hear what?
Dr. Darkfallen: That noise?
Count Gretchula: Oh sorry... I thought you wouldn't hear it. I had the bat beans for din din
Dr. Darkfallen: Eww!! TMI!!

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Dr. Darkfallen: There is again?
Count Gretchula: You're hearing things
Dr. Darkfallen: Duh! You don't hear it?
Count Gretchula: No, I don't hear crazy. I'm going to go outside and find a neck to chomp on.

*Count Gretchula exits the Wastelands haunted house

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

*Count Gretchula quickly comes back inside

Dr. Darkfallen: That was quick. Did you finally land that boy you've been tracking?
Count Gretchula: I think we might have a problem *pant pant pant
Dr. Darkfallen: Why?!!

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Count Gretchula: Because whatever's out there isn't human
Dr. Darkfallen: Ha-hah!! I told you I heard something!! And to think... You called me crazy
Count Gretchula: No dude... whatever is out there isn't crazy... it's INSANE

*knock knock knock on door

Count Gretchula: Don't let it in!

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Zompacolypse is coming.....

Announcer Zombie: That's right boys and ghouls!! Zompacolypse IS indeedy do coming!! So get ready for a whole month of scary zombie grizzly action while we and our friends take over Paranormal Wastelands with an extravaganza so loud its sure to wake up your Mummy!

But don't be a party pooper and stop on by!

During October we'll howl at the moon, have special guest authors drop on by, have a couple of bloggers to snack on with fabulous review of their scary stories, and end it all with a trick or treat bash full of scaretastic prizes. So, what are you waiting for? Head on down to the Wastelands and get infected!!
Zompacolypse is coming.....


Guest post created for September Zombies event by Paranormal Wastelands
© 2011. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Paranormal Wastelands
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VISIT Paranormal Wastelands tomorrow!

=== September Zombies schedule ===

September Zombies: End Credits

a virtual zombie book event
september 20-30, 2011

Thank you dear readers for joining me for this virtual book event.

The zombie flash fiction pieces from fellow bloggers and zombie tales from zombie authors were OUTSTANDING! (make sure to read any you may have missed)

ALSO, those of you who left comments for authors may want to revisit the posts as some authors have left responses in return.

Please note all giveaways end October 16, 2011 unless specified otherwise.

THANKS TO: Authors, Publicists and Publishers for Book Giveaways & Guest posts

from: Allyson Bird - Isis Unbound

from: Alex Bledsoe - The Hum and the Shiver

from: Meljean Brook - Iron Duke

from: Ryan Brown - Play Dead

from: Tonia Brown - Badass Zombie Road Trip

from: Sal Conte - Toothache Man

from: Susan Dennard - Something Strange and Deadly

from: Ty Drago - The Undertakers

from: Rusty Fischer - Zombies Don’t Cry

from: Sean Thomas Fisher - Cold Faith and Zombies

from: Savannah J. Foley - The Dead-Filled Halls

from: Rhiannon Frater - Fighting to Survive

from: Joshua Grover-David Patterson - Mercy

from: Daisy Harris - Lust After Death

from: Scott Kenemore - The Code of the Zombie Pirate: How to Become an Undead Master of the High Seas (Zen of Zombie Series)

from: E.M. MacCallum - Zombie-Killer Bill

from: Kathleen McKenna - The Wedding Gift

from: Scott Nicholson - Zombie Bits

from: Jesse Petersen - In The Dead

from: K.A. Schloegel - The Peculiar Superpowers of Eleanor Armstrong

from: Sasha Soren - Random Magic

from: Joan Frances Turner - Frail

from: E. Van Lowe - Never Slow Dance With A Zombie

from: Zoe Whitten - Confessions of a Zombie Lover

Special thanks to sponsors:

Buy Zombie


The Zed Word

Special thanks to fellow bloggers:

Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia


Because I Said So!

The Bookish Brunette

Book Lover and Procrastinator

Book Rat

Castle Macabre

the Epic rat

The Fashion Planner

Fishmuffins of Doom

Freda's Voice

Gofita's Pages

It's On Random

Karin's Book Nook

La Femme Readers

Mary Ann DeBorde Writes (and Reads!)

Mission to Read!

Nocturnal Book Reviews

Paranormal Wastelands

Pearls Cast Before a McPig

Rinni's Playground

Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Wag the Fox

--~ L A S T September Zombies Book Giveaway ~--

Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?
by Max Braillier

Excerpt from the beginning: A Brief Message...
Beyond this page likes unspeakable horror. Bone-crunching, blood-splattering, brain-impaling horror--the horror of the zombie apocalypse.

Win a copy of this book!

Open to all.

Offer ends: October 16, 2011

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ONE of these:

ADD this book to your Goodreads


LIKE this book on amazon.


TWEET this:
Giveaway: Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brallier


CREATE a blog post about this.

2. AND, let me know in comments what you did along with your email (if I don't already have it)


Contest has ended - winner is here



* Picnik was used for some graphics creations for this event.

HEADS UP: Epilogue will follow...

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Confessions of a Zombie Lover by Zoe E. Whitten

Confessions of a Zombie Lover
by Zoe E. Whitten

Visit Zoe:

Published: 2011
Publisher: Aphotic Thought Press
Genre: Zombies
Rating: 4


Two years after the murder trial of Blaine Kerne, released microbiologist Eugene "G" O’Donnell is still no closer to finding Kate Brennan or his healed zombie "daughter" Susan.

Forced to return to the Army for help, G begins new research with Reggie, a fresh zombie who resembles G's dead lover. While the soldiers search for Susan and Kate, G's experiments with Reggie yield a smarter zombie, but one more emotionally distant than G had observed with Susan.

In spite of Reggie's stunted emotions, he becomes attracted to his savior, and G wrestles with feelings of attraction and guilt for "playing with his kid." But flirting with his patient may mean doom for the experiment.

Zombie Era series:
Zombie Punter
Confessions of a Zombie Lover

My two-bits:
In-a-word(s): brain food
Military, science and romance blend in this zombie tale pretty well. I was most intrigued with the science part this tale and the concept of making zombies "smarter".


* review copy courtesy of author

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie Tale from: Sal Conte

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by Sal Conte aka E. Van Lowe
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Hi everyone.

As much as I hate being the bearer of bad news, unfortunately I have to be. I’m going to tell you the truth about a man some of you have come to love—E. Van Lowe.

As some of you may know, my career started long before E’s. I wrote the horror novel Child’s Play back in 1981. I followed it with The Power, a few years later. My books were selling well. E seemed really happy for me.

Then one day he came home and told me he’d gotten the dream job, the start of a dream career. He landed a writing gig at Universal television. He was going to be writing TV shows. I knew E had been trying to get into TV for some time. I was happy for him. I was so happy that I said “Let’s go out and celebrate.”

It was late afternoon when we took that long drive out the Pacific Coast Highway. The setting sun glistening off the ocean was so beautiful. E pulled the car alongside a deserted stretch of road and said “Let’s take a walk on the beach.” I should have known there was something amiss. E is not is not a big fan of the ocean. But, I figured it was a celebration. He just wanted to stand on the beach, enjoy the sunset and bask in his glory. Didn’t realize he meant it to be my sunset.

We took our shoes off and walked out to the water’s edge. The surf nibbled at my toes. It was a moment of triumph. I was a successful author of gruesome horror, and my pal had finally gotten his break in TV. That’s when E said: “It ends here, Sal.”

“You mean the days of eating top ramen for dinner every night?” I asked smiling.

“Yes. But more than just that. It all ends here. YOU end here.”

I was flabbergasted, at a loss for words. I was E’s alter ego, the one with the cajones to get him this far. He could not have hung in there long enough to land that TV gig without me at his side.

“I’m leaving you here, Sal,” he said. “We had a good run together, but I’m starting a new life, and there’s no room for horror in that life. I’m a comedy writer now. See ya.”

I watched as E turned around and headed back to the car, leaving me standing there, my toes in the soup. That was 25 years ago. E went on to have a very exciting career writing TV and film. Then six months ago a knock came at his door. “Hi, E, how’ve you been?” This time it was him who was flabbergasted.

I will spare you the gory details of the big fight. All you need to know is, I won. Despite what E has been telling everyone, Sal Conte is not dead--far from it. In fact, I’m back with my very own page on E’s website, and some brand new horror to shock your heart and scare the bejesus out of you. First off, I am rereleasing (for Kindle only) my 1980s horror classic Child’s Play. Not the lame-ass Chucky movie, but the original Child’s Play. I am also releasing (Kindle only again—sorry) a brand new short story, The Toothache Man, both in time for Halloween. Check out the playful yet gruesome cover I chose.

Neato, right? The price is right, too. So if you like good horror you need to check me out. E is hoping that you won’t, that you’ll leave me to die the slow death he had planned for me. But I know that everyone has a dark side, and what better way to serve that dark side than by reading a gruesome horror story. Right? Prove E wrong. Don’t leave me here to die… again.


Guest post created for September Zombies event by Sal Conte aka E. Van Lowe, author of The Toothache Man
© 2011. All rights reserved.

Visit E:

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by E. Van Lowe
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

BE on the lookout...

The Toothache Man
by Sal Conte
Paperback release date: Spring 2012

FIND OUT more about Sal Conte and his upcoming releases here.


* header image source

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Watch out: Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater

Fighting to Survive
As the World Dies, Book Two
by Rhiannon Frater
Paperback re-release date: November 8, 2011

Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Picking up where The First Days ends, Fighting to Survive features the further zombie-killing, civilization-saving adventures of a pair of sexy, kick butt heroines and the men who love them.

A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have found tenuous safety in the walled off center of a small Texas town. Now the hard work of survival begins—finding enough food; creating safe, weather-resistant shelter; establishing laws; and fighting off both the undead who want to eat them and the living bandits who want to rob and kill them.

Fighting to Survive won the Dead Letter Award for Best Novel from Mail Order Zombie. The first book in the As the World Dies trilogy, The First Days also won the Dead Letter Award and was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner. Tor Books began bringing this series to a wider audience with the Spring 2011 publication of The First Days.

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie sighting from: Sasha Soren

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by Sasha Soren
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Limber Zombies

Just for fun during September Zombies here's an amusing commercial for a yoga center that might make zombie-lovers smile.

The concept behind the clip: Feeling a little stiff?

Sure, yoga will fix that.

Not sure about the undead part, but... never know!


Guest post created for September Zombies event by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic
© 2011. All rights reserved.

Visit Sasha:

WATCH another cute video clip (this one has no zombies in it, though):
Book trailer: Random Magic

FIND Random Magic: Amazon | Kindle

EXPLORE Random Magic: YouTube | Tumblr | Twitter

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by Sasha Soren
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* header image source

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie update from: New York

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by Eleni of La Femme Readers
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Zombies are attacking!
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Time: 8:00 AM

Flesh eating corpses are roaming the streets of Brooklyn, lurking through alleys for their next victims.

As I creep behind a Dunkin' Donuts, I pray my escape to the train station succeeds. Awakened from my thoughts, I hear this hideous growling behind me, thanks to my good ol' pepper spray, I meet the zombie in the eyes.

"Haha sucker, pepper spray isn't made for only humans."

As the flesh loving monster moans from the sting, I dash across the street to the Q train. Subways are our only safe transportation, the zombies stay clear of these underground stations.

The reasoning is unknown, but my hope remains strong, just as long as I can get to the city.

Madison Square Garden has turned into a clear zone where zombies are blocked by electric wired fences. The place where entertainment was once held, has turned into an overcrowded cry for help.

New Yorkers have experienced a lot, but zombies!?

We never saw that coming.

Will we see a normal day again?

It's all in our own hands now.

All I know is that these zombies won't take me down.


Guest post created for September Zombies event by Eleni of La Femme Readers
© 2011. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Eleni of La Femme Readers
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

NOW, head over to La Femme Readers to see her list of zombie books she has come across.

Here's one...

by Christopher Golden


* header image source, Madison Square Garden, New York

=== September Zombies schedule ===

nom-nom challenge #6

nom-nom challenge #6
signup form
last one

PRIZE: zombie book of your choice (from book list) and goodies from the Neatorama zombie shop

On the even days at 5am pst during September Zombies I will post a nom-nom task for this challenge giveaway.

-offer ends October 16, 2011

It will be easy.

It will be fun.

BUT, you must complete all 6 tasks:
links will be provided for these as the posts go live

sep 20: #1 say nom-nom
sep 22: #2 design-a-zombie
sep 24: #3 noshing
sep 26: #4 brainzzz
sep 28: #5 zombie lovin'
sep 30: #6 signup form - see task below

SIXTH TASK: (3 parts) last one

1. COMPLETE all 5 tasks above and then...

2. Fill out FORM here or below.

3. COMMENT below with a final "nom nom"


* image source header from shirtoid - yes you can get this image (without with September Zombies caption) on a t-shirt - please note artwork by K.M.Larwood

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giveaway: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z
by Max Brooks

Excerpt from the beginning: introduction

It goes by many names: "The Crisis," "The Dark Years," "The Walking Plague," as well as newer and more "hip" titles such as "World War Z" or "Z War One." I personally dislike this last moniker as it implies an inevitable "Z War Two." For me, it will always be "the Zombie War," and while many may protest the scientific accuracy of the word zombie, they will be hard pressed to discover a more globally accepted term for the creatures that almost causted our extinction. Zombie remains a devasting word, unrivaled in its power to conjure up so many memories or emotions, and it is these memories, and emotions that are the subject of this book.

--~ Book Giveaway ~--

Win a copy of this book!

Open to all.

Offer ends: October 16, 2011

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ONE of these:

ADD this book to your Goodreads


LIKE this book on amazon.


TWEET this:
Giveaway: World War Z by Max Brooks


CREATE a blog post about this.

2. AND, let me know in comments what you did along with your email (if I don't already have it)


World War Z
the movie
Release date: December 2012
directed by: Marc Forster
starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and Matthew Fox
see brad run

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie Tale from: Savannah J. Foley

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Savannah J. Foley
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

I walk down the main hall, remembering when it was filled with crowds of students in between classes. Thank the gods the lockdown hadn’t happened during the school day. As I approach the hall where we were locked for two days, something catches my attention, a sound too soft to be heard from the doorway of shop class. It’s steady, almost like white noise. So familiar. It’s...Rain. For an instant I smile; at home rain is a blessed event. When we were little mom would make my little brother Kimo and I go out into the tiny backyard she stuffed with vegetable plants and dance around under the sky. Sometimes in O’ahu it rains when there are no clouds. “God is smiling,” mom would say when the warm drops fell in sprays and splashes, gone as mysteriously as they’d arrived.

Rain is different here. It chokes out the dust and squashes the grass, leaving everything in either mud or clumps. I avoid rain here. I don’t want Texas blessing me with its sloppy kiss.

But wait. Why can I even hear rain?

Dread booms in my heart. I grip the metal pipe with the keyhole saw duct taped on the end tighter, even as it slides from the sweat on my palms. I turn the corner.

The doors are open.

From the entrance where I stand, out to the courtyard, the hallway is still splattered with blood, but now I can see the bodies it contains. I have excellent vision, like dad. I can make out body parts in the chaos of scattered desks and chairs at the end of the hall, then a few bodies laying on the carpet as if sleeping, and finally Mr. Hopkins sprawling dead or unconscious at my feet. And in the distance, in the graying evening, there is rain in the courtyard. And infected.

I don’t know if they see me. I drop to a crouch by Mr. Hopkins’ head, grimacing at his pulped face, waiting to see if they come towards me. They don’t.

So this hallway isn’t as safe as I thought. Someone unlocked this door, which means they could be anywhere, unlocking any number of doors. And the infected could be anywhere, too. I drop the bag carrying my water and tools and feel around Mr. Hopkins for the gun, but it’s missing. Maybe the key-holder took it. Probably one of those dumb jocks who didn’t have the sense to shut the doors behind him.

Unless Mr. Hopkins is laying on the gun. I grimace. I don’t want to do this. Don’t, eww, gross, no. But a gun would be better than a saw taped to a pipe. Not like I want anything to do with a gun. My father kept guns, but he was a military man, and he’d never shown Kimo or I how to use them. I never thought about them unless I went in my parent’s room and saw the gun case in the back of their closet.

Maybe you should have taught me, dad. Not like I would have listened. Wish you were here, now.

After glancing towards the courtyard and purposefully not looking at Mr. Hopkins’ beat up face, I lay down the pipe and grab him by the shoulders. He’s hot, as hot as a rock left out in the sun. I yank my hands away, gasping.
Come to think of it, they didn’t beat him that badly. Steeling my stomach, I look him full on in the face, and then I know the reason for the heat.

He’s been bit. His very nose is missing, cheeks mashed up and one eyebrow torn off. God. Both hands rush to my mouth to keep myself from making noise. He’s definitely infected.

But he was infected before, wasn’t he? Wearing that sweatshirt, rubbing his arm. Mr. Hopkins was the last person to join us in the hallway; he’d been busy securing the school and locking us down. Who knows what he’d had to fight off to try and keep us safe?

I’m sorry, I wanted to tell him. But I still hate you. But thank you. He did keep us safe this far. But he also kept me from Kimo; kept all of those kids from their families. It would have been better to just let us run.

I don’t need the gun. I can just walk away, and leave him here. I’ve got the saw blade, and that will get me through. I’m so sick of crying, I think as tears come again. “I don’t want to do this,” I breathe, and furiously wipe my eyes. “Okay. Okay, here we go. One. Two-”

I grab him again and use all my strength to roll him over, this large man who has a foot and a hundred pounds on me. A low groan comes out of him as he slumps onto his stomach, but whether that means he’s alive or if the air is just getting pushed out, I don’t know. There’s no way I’m going to check for breathing, or a pulse.

The gun is underneath him. I touch it gently, feeling the metal hot from Mr. Hopkins’ body. I pick it up, feel the weight, heavier than I thought it would be. I slide my hand into place on the handle, finger slipping through the metal loop that holds the trigger. I have no idea what kind it is, just that holding it means power. Death.

I don’t want to poke at it too hard because I don’t know what all the switches do. The hammer gets pulled back, that I know, but I’m not ready to use it so I leave that part alone. There were at least two bullets fired in the hallway, and who knew how many Mr. Hopkins used while securing the school. Even if he kept it fully loaded, how many bullets could it hold anyway? Six? Eight?
The only safety rule dad gave me about guns was not to touch them, and I was happy to comply. What I wouldn’t give right now to have gone with him to the shooting range one weekend, just once. Be safe, Lani. Like dad’s talking to me, I almost hear his voice. Be smart.

I breathe deep, evenly. We’re not done here. If Mr. Hopkins is carrying a gun, maybe he’s carrying bullets. I slip my hands into his pockets, bile rising at touching the body of this dead man, this infected. Touching my teacher’s butt. How inappropriate. If he’d done this to me he’d go to jail.

Damn, I’m going to have to flip him over again to get at his front pockets. A moan echoes through the hall from somewhere outside, and I freeze. Nothing happens. Heart in my ears, I pull on Mr. Hopkins again but only succeed in sliding him across the floor. There’s another moan, this time way too close.

My heart stops beating before I realize it came from Mr. Hopkins. Another death moan?

My eyes widen and my stomach drops. Mr. Hopkins’ head rolls, and his eyes open through a crust of blood. They’re milky.

He sees me.

I leap to my feet and slam into the lockers behind me. The impact almost knocks the breath out of me again but I barely hear the crash. I’m watching Mr. Hopkins roll to his knees and climb to his feet, too petrified to move.

“M-m-mi,” I stutter, more a whimper than the beginning of his name. “Get back!” I shriek, finding my voice. “Get away!”

I slide along the lockers and stumble to the head of the hall. Mr. Hopkins steps towards me, mouth working like a fish, eyes so milky and dead. He’s whispering, something throaty and awful, something a man consumed with infection would say.

“Get you, get you, get you-”

My arms are shaking again. My tongue is dry. And my hands... My hands are empty. I’ve left everything on the ground. The gun, the spear, and my bag with the map and water.

I think of Kimo. He is my shield. My prayer. I’ve killed one zombie for him; I can do it again. I have to. Stop freaking out, Milani, and move!

I dart past Mr. Hopkins, his arms swinging for me, and dive to where he had lain, gun and spear just waiting for me on the dirty blue carpet. I grab both and twist as he lurches, thrusting the spear forward and closing my eyes as he throws himself at me, the saw blade sinking into his chest only to a point, then snapping with the stress of his weight. Part of the blade still pokes through his sweatshirt, the pointy end embedded in his sternum.

“Shit!” I’ve stopped him for a second, and he looks confused, like the human within has woken through the haze of sickness and is surprised to find himself recently stabbed. Then he advances again. I jab him with the spear though the saw blade is broken, trying to repel him while I figure out the gun.

Please, please, please, dad, please-

I pull the hammer and stick out my arm. I’ve never had much hand-eye coordination. Alia and I always slacked off during gym class, the kind of girls who would step out of the way of the ball instead of trying to hit it. But I’m in such close range now, how could I miss? I’m about to fire a gun. Into the head of my math teacher. Who’s trying to eat me. Who’s slobbering at the mouth now, long strings of clouded saliva dripping from his lips. Who’s moaning in between half-words, swiping at me with powerful arms.

It must be done.

I pull the trigger.

The sound is short, but fills up my whole world. My arm recoils and so does Mr. Hopkins’ head. I feel like I’ve hit a baseball just perfect with a bat; that satisfying pop echoes up into my shoulder. So powerful. So damn loud.

My ears ring, and I watch as Mr. Hopkins crumples to the floor in slow motion, just like in a movie. His knees sink, he leans backwards, he falls to the carpet.

Something barrels into me. I’m knocked to the ground, a new weight on my back, a terrible slobbering at my ear.

And then teeth.

Teeth, sinking into my neck.


Guest post is an excerpt of The Dead-Filled Halls by Savannah J. Foley.
© 2011. All rights reserved.

Savannah is represented by the Bradford Literary Agency. She is also a member of Let The Words Flow, a blog about writing and publishing for new and developing writers. You can visit her website here, where she talks about her projects and the publishing process.

Visit Savannah:
Book Excerpt: first chapter

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Savannah J. Foley
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

READ more of this tale...

The Dead-Filled Halls
by Savannah J. Foley
Release date: not yet announced

What's worse than being trapped in your high school after hours?

Getting trapped there during the zombie apocalypse. While she's serving detention Milani's school is placed on lockdown after a strange infection surges in her town.

After two days locked in a hallway with half the baseball team, all Milani wants to do is escape and find her little brother, Kimo, but there's a few problems with that: an egomaniacal gym teacher, the infected running loose around the school, a team of 'friends' who don't trust each other, and Milani's own terrible secret - she's been bitten.

Can Milani find a way out of her high school before it's too late?



* header image source

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie update from: Sacramento, CA pt2

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Pabkins of Mission to Read!
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

Zombies, The Quick and the Dead?

In my foray into the world of zombie - I often discuss zombies with my friends, much to their distress I'm sure. So of course if someone were to be say - stuck in a car with me for anything more than an hour - of course the topic of zombies would come up...I just can't help myself.

One particular friend gets freaked out by zombie movies - she couldn't handle the movie 28 Days later and asked:

"What is up with those freakishly fast zombies?"

So I put this to all of you. What the freak IS up with them? It's not enough that they never tire, there are way more of them than there are you (hopefully you being the survivor), they are eternally hungry, and one of the worst offense probably, they stink! - trying to eat me because you're hungry I can forgive - stinking in my general vicinity I cannot. Thankfully I've not experienced this first hand.

A very few Examples of the Quick zombies:

28 Days Later (these guys aren't even technically dead now are they!! - a whole nother topic of discussion there)

Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy ("the fast ones")

Zombieland (oh yeah fatty could move!)

fyi: on Zombieland 2

So share with us any examples of the quick you can think of!


Guest post created for September Zombies event by Pabkins of Mission to Read!
© 2011. All rights reserved.

AimeeKay's pic for Pabkins: from Dawn of the Dead 2004

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Pabkins of Mission to Read!
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

NOW, head over to Rinni's Playground for a zombie treat...

Handmade Zombie Plush Bunnies
created by the sister duo
Rinni of Rinni's Playground
Pabkins of MissionToRead!

signup here for this bunny special offer


* header image source

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie Tale from: K.A. Schloegel

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by K.A. Schloegel
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

I began tweeting

SARAH: Spirits above, spirits below #séance62

ERIK: We call you forth #séance62

KRISTI: We offer our life force #séance62

BRANDON: We offer reminiscence #séance62

SARAH: Spirits above, spirits below #séance62

ERIK: We call you forth #séance62

KRISTI: We offer our life force #séance62

BRANDON: We offer reminiscence #séance62

This is never going to work.

Alright, it might work. What the hell do I know? Just because I saved the world once. Once. One time. That doesn’t make me a hero. It doesn’t make me a zombietologist. It just makes me lucky. It makes me the girl who was in the right place, at the right time. Janey-on-the-spot.

Now I am the girl sticking myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is stupid. I’m out of here.

But I type in the next tweet anyway.

SARAH: Spirit of Mark Flynch, we seek you #séance62

Marky, where are you? Are you really dead and gone? Or you just dead and still around?

ERIK: Spirit of Mark Flynch, we seek you #séance62

KRISTI: Spirit of Mark Flynch, we seek you #séance62

BRANDON: Spirit of Mark Flynch, we seek you #séance62

Okay admit it, Sarah -- the only reason I’m staying is because of Mr Typo. Mr Lameo. Mr. Unfaithfulo. I can lie to everyone else. But I can’t lie to myself.

And I do. Lie that is. All the time. If you think about it, doing anything in life is a lie. Brushing your hair in the morning is a lie. Putting on a cute skirt. That’s a lie. Even just getting out of bed in the morning is a lie. You lie to everyone every day. And nobody ever says a word about it. Like they are just content to watch the fictional drama that is your make-believe life. But the crappy thing is you can never ever lie to yourself – and make yourself believe it, that is. Not really.

SARAH: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

ERIK: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

KRISTI: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

BRANDON: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

Alright this has officially failed. Not that I really expected it to work.

SARAH: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

ERIK: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

KRISTI: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

BRANDON: Come forth, spirit of Mark Flynch #séance62

Another lie. I did expect it to work for a little while. The idea seemed kinda cool and powerful and crazy when we were discussing it. And crap, there are zombies running around killing kids. A stupid twitter séance couldn’t be crazier than that.

But sitting here in this kooky office with its glass walls and a view down 62 stories to a darkened Minneapolis. It seems pretty much like nonsense.

N3ZeR8: Coming #séance62

Okay, I didn’t see that coming.

SARAH: Is this Marky?!? Marky, are u coming? #séance62

Ut5tu4: Coming #séance62

ZeEb0xR: Coming #séance62

OoeWr: Coming #séance62

SARAH: I don’t know who u guys are #séance62

SARAH: We just want Marky. Nobody else should could here #séance62

BRANDON: Lol #séance62

OoeWr: Coming #séance62

KRISTI: Is it just one guy coming? Or a lot of guys? #séance62

BRANDON: WTF do u think? A lot of guys. A lot of dead zombie guys probably

QiuR54eZ: Coming #séance62

Pol1c3: Coming #séance62

BRANDON: 2 kill us and eat our brains

BRANDON: I never trusted Marky. I was the one who killed him, u know.

BRANDON: And so naturally he wants vengeance

SARAH: Shut up, Brandon. U don’t know that

L1F35ua49: Coming #séance62

While you are making grand statements, why don’t you fess up to making out with Colleen Green after the track meet? You’re such a jackass.

But I didn’t say that out loud. I didn’t dare.

BRANDON: Well maybe anyway

Well maybe anyway you really are a jackass.

ERIK: Ahh, guys? #séance62

That’s Erik, Brandon’s little brother. He’s locked nice and snuggly in the car outside. Zombies have trouble with car doors. Or it’s safer there. In theory anyway. And we needed a lookout anyway.

ERIK: Guys? It’s time 2 leave.

ERIK: Now!

ERIK: There are hundreds of them. Maybe thousands. More than even the last time.

ERIK: Get out of there. They’re swarming 2 the building

ERIK: Not even noticing me

BRANDON: I think we pissed someone off. Or something. Wha Whaaaa!

Suddenly it seemed like not just a stupid idea to have snuck into the 62nd floor of the Wells- Fargo building, but a real class-A fuckup. I mean, it was totally necessary. This is the only skyscraper in Minneapolis that even has a 62nd floors. And the number 62 is key to all this somehow. We know that for sure. Or at least we are kinda convinced. So yes, it was necessary. But also stupid.

Plus I’ve been totally pissed at Brandon. But totally not showing it either. That can lead to stress and poor decision making.

SARAH: ERIK, do u c Marky? Is he with them

ERIK: I haven’t seen him. But theres 2 many 2 c

SARAH: R u ok

ERIK: Yeah, they are ignoring me. But more and more and more keep coming

Brandon spoke, shattering the silence. “What’s the plan, Sarah?”

Ahhh .... “Sarah?” he looked a bit apprehensive.

“Ahhh, I guess the plan was kinda for Marky to come here alone. Not with hundreds of dead friends. Then we were going to like, give him hugs and shake his hand. Or not, if he was really, you know, decayed. But we were going to ask him how to stop all this.

“Do you think Mark is with them?” Kristi asked.

“I have a feeling he is,” I said. “I think we should stay here until he gets here.”

“And what about the other thousand zombies who aren’t Marky?”

“Well yeah, we definitely need to avoid those guys,” I said. “Let’s move this desk in front of the door. We can watch through the glass walls for Marky, and grab him when he shows.”

“That grabbing one particular zombie in the middle of a zombie attack never works for us,” Brandon noted.

Neither does making out with Colleen Green, jackass. “Yeah, well that’s the plan,” I said.

“Agreed,” said Kristi and smiled at me.

I smiled back. Kristi is so my BFF. Now that Marky is dead and gone anyway. Or at least dead and still around.

We pushed a big desk in front of the door and waited.

It didn’t take long. Did they actually use the elevators. Zombies are smart. Usually just at the time you don’t want them to be.

Erik wasn’t kidding. There were a buttload of them. Eventually the force of the ones in back pressed the ones in front hard against the glass. And the particularly yucky parts were rubbing on the glass and making gross art. I wanted to puke.

But we never saw Marky.

Back to square one.

I freaking hope we can get back to square one.

Right now, square one looks pretty sweet.

“So how are we going to get out of here?” Brandon asked.

“We let them in and fight our way out,” I said.

“Really? It’s like a dead mosh pit out there.”

“The only other option is to smash the window and jump down 62 stories.” Kristi was looking like she was about to puke. My poor scared BFF!

SARAH: ERIK, are there any near u?

ERIK: No. All in

SARAH: U think u can get to an elevator?

ERIK: Think so

SARAH: Go up to 61 and hold it open 4 us


ERIK: C u in 5

“Okay, we have one shot at this,” I said. “Brandon, you pull the desk away from the doorway and I’ll throw it open. Hopefully they’ll tumble in. Then we scramble over them. Sound good?”

I looked around. From the looks on their faces, it didn’t sound good. From the looks on their faces, it sounded pretty bad.

“I’ll go first,” I said enthusiastically. They weren’t buying it. But I continued trying to sell it.

“Okay,” said Brandon weakly.

Kristi looked very pale.

“The stairs are just down the hall. Two doors away. We go down one floor and out the door to Erik waiting in the elevator.”

“On three. Ready?” Not really.

“One. Two. Three. Now!”

Brandon flipped the table out of the way easily. He’s so strong. For a cheating womanizer anyway.

I flung open the door.

The zombies tumbled in.

So far so good.

The next part was sort of like climbing through a cold, congealed casserole that has been in the fridge for a very long time. Like because your step-mom made a huge batch thinking everyone would chow it. But everyone didn’t chow it. Not even Dad, and he’ll eat anything. But then nobody wanted to add insult to injury and just throw the rest out. So it because a permanent fixture in the back of the fridge. Other foods would temporarily take up residence next to it. Or on top of it. And then they’d get snatched up and eaten.

But the casserole just stayed.

Then imagine it got spilled onto the floor in a massive landslide.

That moaned.

And then we climbed over it.

And it was grabbing at us.

And biting.

Luckily, knocked-over zombies are pretty easy to avoid.

But one did manage to bit my leg. Didn’t break the skin, thank goodness.

Whoa, close one.

Kristi ran like a sprinter and beat me to the elevator. She actually is a sprinter in track. So is Colleen Green, for that matter.

Erik was there, holding the elevator. Amazingly enough, the elevator didn’t get stuck or open to a bunch of zombies or anything. We got back to the car and drove home. Zombie attack number fourteen survived.


Guest post created for September Zombies event by K.A. Schloegel, author of The Peculiar Superpowers of Eleanor Armstrong
© 2011. All rights reserved.

Visit KA:

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by K.A. Schloegel
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READ more of this tale...

--~ Book Giveaway courtesy of author ~--

The Peculiar Superpowers of Eleanor Armstrong:
A Zombie Love Story
by K.A. Schloegel

signup to win this book


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=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie update from: UK

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Kara of Nocturnal Book Reviews
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

I'm sitting in my bunker while hordes of zombies are roaming the wastelands of what previously has been known as Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Electricity is almost out for the night. We have to be very careful with the supplies, you know? Even the tunnels which have been built in the last 25 years post zombie apocalypse are not safe to use in search of food, clothes and ammunition, because to get to your destination you have to go through zombie rats and zombie slugs, and when you get there you still have to venture outside. Not everyone comes back. Nuff said.

Anyway, I've got 30 mins and the ancient laptop I found has a funny post about movie characters the author would have wanted with her in zombie apocalypse. Ha-bloody-ha. It's so ridiculous I just have to share it with you!

1. Cherry in Grindhouse: Planet Terror

Author: She is super cool tough chick, our Rose McGowan! Even without her leg she is lethal.

Me: Yeah, and what happens when she runs out of bullets and can't run away? Zombie om-nom-nom.

2. Shaun from Shaun of The Dead

A: If that guy could survive his bunch of moronic friends in zombie apocalypse, I want him on my team!

Me: Ditto. The worst team of almost survivors I've ever seen. It's a miracle, Shaun stayed alive. On the other hand, he might have been just lucky. Still I would want his luck.

3. Alice from Resident Evil

A: She is mean, lean, killing machine with super powers and immunity to the virus. What else do you want?

Me: Can't argue with that. If she was real, getting in and out of the tunnels would have been a hell of a lot easier.

4. River from Serenity

A: This girl is amazing! Not only she is super fast, she moves like a dream. She'll chop any zombie into little pieces in no time.

Me: She is a valuable asset, but a bit unpredictable. What if her super abilities won't switch on on time? Oh well, at least she can run.

5. Ash from Evil Dead

A: You have to admit, this guy has a lot of experience, - zombies, witches, demons, different worlds. You name it he's done it. I would want him on my team.

Me: Oh yeah, no arguing with that. And that chainsaw would be very useful too! Although he does have terrible luck with his girlfriends :)


Guest post created for September Zombies event by Kara of Nocturnal Book Reviews
© 2011. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Kara of Nocturnal Book Reviews
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~

NOW, head over to Nocturnal Book Reviews for a zombie treat!

In honor of September Zombies, Karina is giving away a pre-order of...

Dead Mann Walking
by Stefan Petrucha
Release date: October 4, 2011

from The Book Depository
(so make sure they ship to you)

signup for the giveaway here

After Hessius Mann was convicted of his wife's murder, suppressed evidence came to light and the verdict was overturned-too bad he was already executed. But thanks to the miracles of modern science Hessius was brought back to life. Sort of.

Now that he's joined the ranks of Fort Hammer's pulse-challenged population, Hessius attempts to make a "living" as a private investigator. But when a missing persons case leads to a few zombies cut to pieces, Hessius starts thinking that someone's giving him the run-around-and it's not like he's in any condition to make a quick getaway...


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=== September Zombies schedule ===

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Giveaway: Lust After Death by Daisy Harris

Lust After Death
by Daisy Harris

Excerpt from the beginning: chapter one

On either side of the door to her prison, panes of colored glass alternated with clear. Josie Friedman lowered her face to look through a square. Her breath blew puffs of steam on the window.

A riot of green battled outside. Celadon moss hung from algae-covered branches. Ferns burst from rotted logs and hostas curved from wet indentation. Her maker Adam's rough gravel driveway bled onto an unpaved road. Everything looked slick and damp, soft alternating with hard. She imagined the crunch of stones under her feet, though she'd never left the house.

Her eyes followed the gray stream of pebbles to where it disappeared in a thicket of vines, but something caught her eye. At first she thought it moved. Or maybe at first it did move, but then it was still, it was a man.

--~ eBook Giveaway courtesy of author ~--

Win a copy of this ebook!

Open those over age 18.

Offer ends: October 16, 2011

TO DO: (2-parts)

1. ONE of these:

ADD this book to your Goodreads


LIKE this book on amazon.


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Giveaway: Lust After Death by Daisy Harris


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* part of Lust After Death tour, Sep 30 to Oct 18

=== September Zombies schedule ===

Zombie Tale from: Allyson Bird

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by Allyson Bird
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~


Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death?
Who lifteth the veil of what is to come?
Who painteth the shadows that are beneath
The wide-winding caves of the peopled tomb?
Or untieth the hopes of what shall be
With the fears and the love for that which we see?
-Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), from ‘On Death.’

In 41BC a terrified young woman, her skin a deep olive colour, and her black hair flying wildly about her, ran for her life up the steep steps, making for the temple in Ephesus. They dare not take me from there, she thought. She stumbled once, cutting her knee on the sharp stone, blood oozing down the inside of her leg, and staining her white gown. Before she reached the door to the temple the soldiers cut her down.

Mark Anthony had sent his soldiers for the sister who had plotted against Cleopatra. Eventually the renegade sibling was buried in an octagonal-shaped tomb which looked like the Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria, and forgotten for two thousand years. Mortal sisters. Rivals. Once close, but when it came to ruling Egypt they would do anything for the throne…even kill each other.

Cleopatra was a warrior queen, a woman used to getting everything she wanted. She manipulated, fought, and set her sights on Rome. Mark Anthony lay asleep by her side in his opium dreams but she was far from sleep. Naked, she left the bed and walked across the white marble floor, over to a white vase full of Egyptian Blue irises, and picked one up. She thought of the mother goddess, Wadjet, and prayed for her guidance, and strength. Cleopatra picked up her cloak from the floor, where Mark Anthony had thrown it, and wrapped it around her shoulders. When she stepped out onto the balcony and looked out upon the city she saw that the heavens were black and there was no star in sight. Only the moon cast its light upon her anxious face. She heard a movement behind her and turned slowly, thinking it to be Mark Anthony. He would want her back in bed with him, she thought. It wasn’t Mark Anthony who pulled her close. It was the tall woman. Cleopatra had been held by her before, and as Cleopatra offered her the flower, Isis smiled.

Two years before The Aeneid was written by Virgil and fourteen years after Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony made their great and triumphant entry into Rome. The battle of Actium had been the turning point. On the Ionian Sea Octavian had been defeated. Mark Antony aided by Gellius Publicola, headed the right flank of the Antonian fleet, Marcus Octavius and Marcus Insteius the centre. It was Gaius Sosius who attacked first from the left, and Cleopatra’s forces, strongest of all, attacked from the rear. Malaria had considerably weakened Octavian’s men and their smaller ships were rammed and broken into pieces. Mark Anthony went on to win the land battle too with considerable ease. Octavian was killed and the Mediterranean belonged to Mark Anthony, and Cleopatra. An empire was born. With the rise of Cleopatra the legacy of Hellenistic civilisation and Ptolemaic rule continued to have an influence.

Cleopatra sat, back straight with her hands firmly placed on the intricately worked arms of the great golden throne, carried by Nubian slaves. The sunlight glinted off their diamond-encrusted armbands. All gold and glory, and the day belonged to Cleopatra, with her dreams of being empress of the world about to be made manifest. She was already wearing the precious jewels of most continents. Mark Anthony, with their children walking by his side, headed the procession. The children all dressed as great warriors, even the girl. A Romano-Egyptian princess carrying a blue lotus cupped in her tiny hands. Cleopatra Selene 11 of Cyrenaica and Libya. She adored her brothers. Alexander Helios, Ruler of Armenia, Media and Parthia. Ptolemy Philadelphus—his to be Syria, Phoenicia and Cilicia. Her half-brother, Caesarean, son of Julius Caesar was to be struck down not a year later by a mystery illness leaving Roman rule for generations to come to the descendants of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.

This dynasty had lasted for over two thousand years—a dynasty blessed by Isis and protected by her. Ancient scripts had told of her appearance, to all the rulers, since Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Isis was the goddess of many names and not all of them good. Her name was understood to mean knowledge by Plutarch but others considered her to be cruel and ruthless. Isis was so powerful or so his script had described her, she was ‘the lady of the people, the royal wife, great goddess of the sky, powerful on land, the mistress of Egypt and the desert,’ and according to Diodore, Osiris bestowed the totality of power to Isis. To some Isis was known as the daughter of Prometheus.

During Osiris’ absence, Seth never fought against Isis so certain he was of her power. That was all a very long time ago. Osiris and Seth were dead now. Only four gods were left. Isis, her sister Nepythys, and their sons, Horus and Anubis. None had the courage to stand in her way. She had appeared to many of the Romano-Egyptian rulers in many forms from that of protector to a goddess of great malevolence when she disliked the path that the nobility took. When the empire was threatened by the barbarians she had appeared to Mentuhotep, when the great earthquakes had caused famine she had appeared to Semerkhet V, and when the great meteorite had hit the northern forests, to Cleopatra Seneca Xlll. And so on down through the centuries, to give comfort and give guidance but she had never appeared to the present Empress Cleopatra or to her father or grandfather. Now, in the time of the great plagues, rumour was spreading through the Romano-Egyptian Empire that Cleopatra had lost favour with Isis. The current super-plagues and their effect on the populous seemed to bear that out. Where was Isis now? Had she deserted the favoured ones she had supported down through the centuries?

Clovis Domitius Corbulo was to be the new Governor General of Britanniae. He was cousin to Cleopatra, and a descendant of the Frankish King Clovis who had been married into the royal family in return for loyalty. The Arvernians had helped this Clovis defeat the Visigoths, who had been in the foederati and had been richly rewarded for providing soldiers for the Romano-Egyptian Empire. But this relationship had fragmented, and the Visigoths had rebelled against the empire. Clovis had wanted a Romano-Egyptian alliance, a permanent link to Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, one of blood relative. Most of the renegade barbarian kings did the same over the next few hundred years. A vast empire was now held together by marriage alliances and Isis, but perhaps that was all going to change. That was centuries ago and now Clovis Domitius Corbulo wanted more. Much more.


16th February 1890.

Ella felt the opium mist in her mind settle and although she felt sleepy she walked steadily. Her hand fell to her side where she could feel the small gun, and when she touched it lightly she withdrew her hand quickly, afraid to even come into contact with it for a second now. She had been told to use it by her father, Ptolemy Child, if anyone showing obvious signs of the plague came too close. Ella had used it only the once. She had also been told to wear a surgical mask but rarely did. As Ella walked through the transparent-sided skyway her boots made no sound on the rubber beneath her feet. She had been on an errand for her father and had decided to use the skyway for the journey home to the part of the city called Kares-Bu. Ella had few friends and was a loner. She found comfort away from others, but did tolerate and sometimes enjoy the company of her younger sister, Loli. Rarely did Ella smile, and when she did, that would be when she was with Loli or when she thought of Swin.

It was snowing again, bitterly cold. Yet Ella doubted that even if she were at ground level in the open, she would feel it. Anyway, the skyway was preferable to the dirty streets. Privileged, as a daughter of the Chief Embalmer, she was allowed to come and go freely.

The security guards based at the entrance to each skyscraper got used to the pretty young woman with the blonde hair. Ella never saw herself as pretty at all.

She looked down from above. The sound of gunfire echoed around the tall buildings. She was especially nervous as the day before the authorities had tried to contain a riot after a soldier had shot an entire family in broad daylight, all with obvious signs of the plague, in front of many citizens. Ella feared she was about to witness another riot. Down on the street someone shot a plague victim again, and a few bystanders ran screaming and shouting down towards the river. Boxes of fruit were knocked over and peaches squashed underfoot as children ran into a skyscraper entrance for cover. Within minutes, some people took advantage of the chaos. Windows of shops were broken and looters piled baskets high with merchandise, only to drop them a few minutes later when the garrison soldiers hit the streets. For over an hour Ella watched, high up in the skyway partly shielded by the entrance to the building, disgusted at how the soldiers took every opportunity to degrade the rioters. One fell upon his knees and pleaded with his captor. The soldier shot him in the head.

There came a low rumbling sound from somewhere in the distance and then one of the steam tanks came into view. Ella was terrified of these machines. The government had come in heavy-handed. The steam tanks were fuelled by kerosene, and the flamethrower on the rotating top cabin had a range of twenty-seven metres. Mounted on the four corners of the cabin were four machine guns. Ella gasped when she saw a huge plume of flame arc and fall. Flames from heaven and two people fell to the ground, writhing in agony as their bodies burned. She saw horses pound the burnt bodies in an attempt to escape, terrified of the ironclad tortoise. The horses bolted and ran for the river as if they knew instinctively that water would cool their burns. Ella had seen such horror before.

She watched, a silent witness, as the steam tanks rumbled away again and fire engines put out the fire that had caught hold of the store on the corner. By the time it was over, twenty lay dead, either shot or burned. They were quickly taken away. The owner of the store sat in the street with his head in his hands, shouting abuse as the garrison soldiers retreated. Ella closed her eyes, stifled a sob, and moved quickly through the skyway and home.

The next day the newspapers would hardly mention it at all. And nothing of the steam tanks as usual. A steam engine and a flamethrower in the same confined space were considered by most to be a dangerous combination. However the new Governor General, Clovis, would not give up on his steam tanks, even though they often overheated, and more legionaries were hurt than rioters. They had been the playthings of the last Governor General, who had used them in a campaign against concrete pillboxes in the last fighting in the east—a campaign that he’d won, although the casualties on his own side had been high.

The human Y pestis infection, consisting of bubonic, pneumonic and the septicemic forms of plague had been treated with antibiotics successfully years ago. But now some hybrid of the pneumonic had reared its ugly head and had the city of Manceastre in a panic. Day by day new discoveries were being made that kept many pathogens at bay. However the inhabitants were terrified of this new variant of plague, which had already killed many in the city, and seemed so virulent. The wealthy preferred to get about in the high covered walkways or skyways as some of them called them, protected from the weather and disease.

No one dared cough as this was one of the initial symptoms, and a common cold could easily be misinterpreted. Neighbour spied upon neighbour and reported anything that might be plague symptoms; such was their fear of the terrible disease. Clean drinking water had rid the city of cholera a hundred years earlier, but even with scientific methodology and consequential positive practices in hygiene, the people of the city were still attacked by bacterial agents that mutated as quickly as scientists identified them.

In some districts in Manceastre, notably the richer ones, and in particular Kares-Bu, there were more monuments to the dead than there were mansions for the living. Tombs were built around little squares not far from their living relatives who mostly dwelt in the skyscrapers. The small tombs, miniature replicas of pyramids, were linked by underground catacombs to each other, and to the skyscrapers. From there the bereaved could visit their deceased loved ones, safe from the colourmen and from the prying eyes of their neighbours who watched from above. The small pyramids were a constant reminder of their short time on earth. The rich were content in the fact that they had the money and privileges to pay for the right ceremonies to ensure that they progressed to the afterlife when their time came; the poor had to settle for less.

Behind the tombs of the dead the prostitutes called for business, even on the darkest and foggiest of nights. Not all embalmers did their job properly and even the wealthy dead rotted in their bandages not far from the pox-ridden women of Memphis Square.

As it entered Kares-Bu, Ella could hear the shrill call from the whistle of the underground steam train as it passed under a ventilation shaft close by. The square shaft had been clad with bricks. Imitation windows had been painted on, so that it blended with the buildings, resembling an actual house frontage. Ella could just make out the steam rising above the rooftops, soon to get lost in the smoke that drifted across from the industrial part of the city, where the factories tirelessly produced the cotton and textiles that the city was famous for.

At least Ella and her sister had escaped the mills. They might live and work amongst the dead and the artists but at least it was quiet. She looked up at the outer temple building shrouded with frost and then down into the violet darkness, where she knew Loli was hiding from her. Loli was the other daughter of Ptolemy Child, Chief Embalmer. He was the head of one of the few favoured families who embalmed the dead. His was the most important family business because he embalmed the nobility and the rich. Ella helped him to prepare the bodies for the afterlife, and the services of Ptolemy Child didn’t come cheap.

The heat from the kerosene lamp kept her hand warm as she looked among the shadows for Loli. Ella shivered. It was a cold January night. She walked quietly through Kares-Bu. Many artists lived in this part of the city not too far from the tombs that they worked in. Ella had buttoned up her long overcoat to under her chin but she was still cold.

As she looked behind each tomb she felt unusually afraid of the dark. Her father had cured her of her fear of darkness years ago, but now each branch of every tree seemed to point at the tombs of the dead, grimly reminding her of the inevitable, and that made her shiver. Here lay generations of Romano-Egyptians, culminating in a society so totally given up to the cult of the dead that children were brought up to look forward to their deaths, for at that point their eternal lives began. There were more burial grounds with houses for the dead than there were playgrounds.

Ella would have to be quick, as she was due back in the preparation room soon. She was to help her father prepare a female corpse. It had been why Loli had run away again. Ptolemy had wanted to teach her the process, but as his knife was about to pierce the grey body of the heavily pregnant woman, Loli had disappeared. Ella had done the same on her thirteenth birthday. Loli was only ten. Ptolemy will be running out of patience, thought Ella, although he sometimes hid that behind a cool smile and a soft voice.

When Ella had first placed a knife on dead flesh, the corpse had been male and her father had never thought about the fact that Ella had never seen a living naked man before, let alone a dead one. Ptolemy Child had told Ella what was about to happen in great detail, but Ella had still suffered. Loli would have to get used to it.

“Loli. Loli,” Ella called, hoping for a quick reply. No luck.

It was getting late and she had to get back to her father. Would he be very angry with Loli? Probably not. She knew how to get on his good side, and although Ella was his eldest daughter, she thought that her father loved Loli more. Ella’s delinquent mother had run off with one of the artists. Their father had said she had been wild, far too wild, and Loli’s mother had left too. Unusually, Ella had no memory of Loli’s mother at all, though she had been old enough. The woman had only stayed a year. The daughters of Ptolemy Child had been brought up by slaves and the occasional governess, but they had mostly learnt all they knew from the many books in the family library.

Ella was now eighteen and Loli ten. Ptolemy’s attempts to limit their freedom were half-hearted and he quite frankly couldn’t be bothered. He was a self-centred creature who indulged his own whims, so Ella and Loli managed to get out into the city without supervision, frequently. Ella glanced at his thin face and drooping lips. They didn’t go together, she thought.

“Did you find her?” Ptolemy was about to make the first cut in the abdomen. He hesitated and looked up at Ella. His blonde hair streaked with grey had fallen a little over his face.

“No. I searched in all the usual places but I couldn’t. I was a little rough with her earlier.”

Ella looked nervously at the heavily pregnant corpse. She knew what was to happen next. She put the red rubber apron over her long dress. She had been careful not to put on any of her better clothes for the procedure, and it came as no surprise to her when her father made the incision from beneath the breasts down to just above the pubis. Ella watched his steady hand. Even though the woman was dead, Ptolemy cared enough about his craft not to be labelled a butcher, as the notorious Master Embalmer of Eboracum had been. For this part of the process he was beyond reproach. Could that be said for all of his work though?

There was a movement behind her and a door closed quietly. Ptolemy looked up and half-smiled. “Ah—Loli. Did you think better of hiding on such a cold night? Come closer, we are about to witness a birthing of sorts.”

Loli was dressed in her best clothes and wasn’t about to get too close. She wore a full deep pink scalloped-edged skirt with tiny red roses sewn along the hem that came to just above the knee and a ruffled white blouse—just the right outfit for learning the more intricate skills of embalming. She was even wearing pale pink shoes over white stockings, which of course were now splattered with mud due to her truancy. A little mud clung to her dark hair at the side of her front parting, where she obviously had been brushing her hair back off her face with a dirty hand. She seemed unaware of any of that and was all candy kisses for her father. Loli ran over to him and hugged him from behind and then turning to face him looked at him apologetically.

“Sorry, Father, I didn’t mean to run away. I just didn’t want to learn today.”

The look between the girls said it all. One of reproach from Ella, and when her father turned away, one from Loli for Ella—that she’d got away with it again.

“That is fine Loli. You are here now. Put on an apron and come and help.”

Loli ran over to the table on the far side of the room and reached up for one of the smaller aprons that hung there. She placed the apron over her head and struggled to tie a bow at the back.

“Ella, help me will you?”

Ella hesitated and seemed reluctant to step forward. She pulled the apron strings tight.

“Hey—not too hard, Ella.” Loli frowned.

A wooden stool had been placed in front of the embalming table for Loli to stand on. Ella and generations of young embalmers had used it before her. It had been made of the sturdiest oak and had been decorated with hieroglyphs recalling the names of the first few of the family of embalmers.

“What do I do, Father?”

Ella stood behind Loli ready to step in if, and only if, Loli faltered. She didn’t. Ptolemy pulled the abdomen apart so that Loli could see the baby. Ella could see the head and the sleepy eyes of the small grey creature and recoiled a little.

“Let me. Let me.” Loli tottered on the stool, regained her balance and tugged roughly at the head of the baby.

“Not so hard, Loli,” said Ella. Loli smiled apologetically at Ella.

“I don’t mean to Ella but it is difficult to get out.”

The incense lamp did nothing to hide the smell and Ella saw Loli start to retch a little. Ella quickly reached into her pocket, took a tiny jewelled container, put some myrrh ointment on her finger, and put a little under Loli’s nostrils. She applied the ointment to her own nostrils also.

“One more pull, Loli, come on, nearly done now,” Ptolemy encouraged.

“I’ve got it. Here it comes,” said Loli eagerly.

With a final tug the baby slipped out of the mother, and after Ptolemy cut the cord, Loli cradled it lovingly in her arms.

“It isn’t a doll, Loli,” said Ella. She looked pale and her hands were shaking.

“Oh it is, look at it. It’s beautiful and so very quiet. Can we wrap it in something to keep it warm, Father?”

Ella looked away. Ptolemy handed Loli a white cover with the Child insignia in the corner.

He smiled again. “Wrap her in this.”

“Oh, it is a girl isn’t it? Can I name her?”

“Well the family will name her before the interment.”

“Can I name her until then, please?”

“Okay Loli, you can give her a name.”

“I’ll call her Cleopatra Selene. A fine royal name.”

“It certainly is Loli. A fine royal name,” repeated Ptolemy. “Give her to Ella now, she will show you what to do next.”

Reluctantly Loli handed her over. “Be careful—don’t drop her.”

“I won’t,” said Ella grimly.

Loli jumped off the stool, pulled it over to another embalming table and hastily got onto it.

“Come on. Let’s get on with it.”

Ella brought over a small blue bowl filled with cold water—she tried to not look at the tiny form.

With great tenderness Loli took off the white cover and washed the body of the baby. She picked a clean cloth from a pile to hand and gently dried her. Loli picked up a large jar of myrrh. She at first struggled to get the lid off, but managed in the second attempt. She stuck her nose in the jar. Loli thought that the myrrh from the jar smelt a little too sweet and preferred it when they added frankincense. The fragrance of myrrh was one of her earliest memories. She began to rub it on the baby’s pale skin. Ella placed her hand over Loli’s.
Loli turned to Ella with a smile. “I like this bit. It will make her smell nice.”

“Not yet Loli, there is more to be done before this. It is a cold night; we will leave the baby with her mother. Can you help in the morning?”

“Can I take her to my bedroom?”

“You know the answer to that, Loli,” said Ella.

“I’ll see her in the morning then?”

“In the morning, Loli.”

Loli kissed Ella good night and then her father. She swept the hair from her face as she ran out of the room and couldn’t understand why Ella didn’t hug her anymore. She always used to.

“And Loli. Loli!”

Loli turned on the second call of her name.

“Wash your hands really well before you eat.”

Loli shrugged. “Always do.”

Ella thought about mothers at that point. Ella tried to be good to Loli but if Loli had a mother, life would certainly be easier, and she wouldn’t have to look after her sister so much. Sometimes Ella resented the responsibility and any of her attempts to please her father seemed to be useless. Everything seemed pointless. Then she thought of Sophia’s baby and tried to remember something important about it but could not do so. She felt numb when she looked at the little corpse and wondered why.

The embalming rooms were attached to the great house and there were even more storage rooms off those. The house was built of black marble, fitting for the preparation of the wealthy dead. A small courtyard garden lay all around the house. In summer it was filled with many flowers and the most beautiful was the iris. The iris dominated every household in the summer months. Her father had told her the colour of it was Egyptian Blue and belonged to the goddess, Wadjet. In ancient times a messenger from Olympus was called Iris and led young girls to the afterlife. As a child Ella often called it the bruised flower. It reminded her of the colours she had seen on a corpse. Too cold for it to bloom now, thought Ella.

The house had six bedrooms but Ella had promised Loli that they would share one of the great beds that had witnessed the births and deaths of the last hundred years. It was made of solid oak decorated with strange designs that she had never learned the symbolism of. Nine years on and they still shared a room but it wasn’t just for Loli’s benefit. At night Ella had, many times, thought she had heard the first cries of a newborn and the last sighs of the dying. In the dark she imagined that the dead came back to that room time and time again. Sometimes Ella would keep the gaslight low so that she could see the pale rose-pink face of her sister. That practice, Ella thought, kept them both closer to life than death. She might be an embalmer’s daughter but she was still afraid of death…more so these days.

When Ella got in bed long after the night had enshrouded her sister, Ella pulled a dark strand away from Loli’s face and wondered if they would both really carry on the business of embalming after Ptolemy was dead. They would have to embalm their own father—a disturbing thought.

Just the two of them to carry on the tradition well into the next century.

This was 1890. The 1900’s–would they be full of promise or the beginning of the end for the Child family?


Guest post is an excerpt from Isis Unbound by Allyson Bird.
© 2011. All rights reserved.

Allyson Bird now lives in the Wairarapa, New Zealand, with her husband and young daughter. Occasionally she is drawn to strange places and people and they are occasionally drawn to her. Her favourite playground, as a child and adult, had been the village graveyard. Once she wondered what would happen if she took one of the green stones from a grave. She has been looking over her shoulder ever since but has never given it back.

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Isis Unbound
by Allyson Bird


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