Random Monday Mini: Apocalyptic Toffee

This flash is featured in the 17th issue of The Sirens Call – now available to download for free!!

Apocalyptic Toffee

Hallowe’en Night – 7:30PM

tofee

The first to be infected sat in a circle in the basement rec room of the parent who’d been sucked into the duty of trick-or-treating that year. There were superheroes, a princess, a witch, and even a cat, all of them devouring the small morsels of candy in their bags with reckless abandon. Mixed into the bounty were the small toffee tidbits lovingly handcrafted by the diminutive, elder woman who lived at the end of the cul-de-sac.

Each year the kids would run up the patio-stone walkway to knock loudly on her front door. And she would come out, her white hair always swept up into a tight bun, her arms bearing the bowl with her special treats. Each one would be greeted by name and a special remark made about their chosen costume for the year. Her house was always their favourite stop, and her toffee was the treat many of them saved for last.

But this year, the toffee was a little different. An ingredient had been tainted before it reached the small woman in her sunny kitchen. With each swirl of the wooden spoon around the saucepan, she mixed death into her sweets this year. And the neighbourhood would never be the same again.

It started with a quickening of the pulse, a flush coming over the children as they sat eating too much of their collected candy for one sitting. The stomach pains crept over them next, twisting cramps that doubled them over as they tried to climb the stairs in search of help. None of them made it past the wooden barrier before the change.

Hallowe’en Night – 8:33PM

“Kids! Your parents are here to pick you up!” The voice called from the front door, falling on deafened ears. Thinking the children were playing in the basement, or perhaps gorging themselves on all their candy, the brown-haired mother made a sweeping gesture to the congregated parents, inviting them in before moving down the hall. Her hand touched the gleaming doorknob and turned it, released the little monsters that waited for her.

They erupted from the basement, their bodies hungry for more than candy now. In a frenzy, amid the panicked screams, they ripped her apart, her blood mingling with the smears of chocolate already on their faces. It didn’t take them long to decimate her body, to infect her with their toffee sickness, her body rising in turn as the other parents came to investigate the source of the screams.

Hallowe’en Night – 11:18PM

The police couldn’t contain them and wound up succumbing like all the rest who’d had the misfortune of crossing their paths. It spread outward from the epicenter of the dead-ended street, a ballooning of bloody corpses in search of the uninfected. It was the start of something big, something that wouldn’t be stopped.

And at the centre of it all, a little old woman sat, scared and alone; unaware of the part she’d played in the end of the world.

All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

 

Advertisements

Zombie Film Friday: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Romero’s follow-up to Night of the Living Dead is Dawn of the Dead and it came out the year I was born. I can remember seeing this film for the first time in my teens and I loved its cheesy goodness!! And the idea of hanging out in a mall after the end was attractive in some regards. If you haven’t seen the film yet, be sure to rectify that as soon as possible!

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.

My Rating: A

Interesting Facts: Filming at the Monroeville Mall took place during the winter of 1977-78, with a three-week reprieve during the Christmas shopping season (during which other footage, e.g. the TV studio, was shot). Filming at the mall began around 10 p.m., shortly after the mall closed, and finished at 6 a.m. The mall didn’t open until 9, but at 6 the Muzak came on and no one knew how to turn it off; The scene between Roger and Peter in the trucks when they are kidding each other about their height was entirely improvised by the two actors; and Tom Savini choose the gray color for the zombies’ skin, since Night of the Living Dead(1968) was in B&W and the zombie skin-tone was not depicted. He later said it was a mistake, because many of them ended up looking quite blue on film.

And now it’s time for the trailer!

5 Questions with Jay Wilburn

Today Jay Wilburn, author of Loose Ends stops by to answer a few of my questions. For those of you unfamiliar with Jay, let’s take a moment to get to know him better…

meJay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in the swamps of coastal South Carolina. He left teaching after sixteen years to care for the health needs of his younger son and to pursue writing full time. He has published a number of works including the novel Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel and Time Eaters. He has a zombie story in Best Horror of the Year volume 5. Jay is one of the featured authors in the Dark and Bookish documentary project.

Welcome Jay. Tell us about your zombies: if the dead were to rise, do you think you’d stand a chance against them?

I stick pretty closely to the rules of the Romero universe with my zombie short stories and novels. As I have put together collections of stories, I’ve always found it more interesting to work my story within the rules than to do too many stories that all hinge on “what if zombies could fly?”, “what if zombies had mouths everywhere?”, “What if zombies could eat data from computers?” Oh, crap now some of those sound good. I CALL DIBBS!

I’m not sure about my chances. I’m torn between slim or none. I’m not good with running, I don’t like work, I have the cold, I’m in rough shape without food … my medicine … caffeine, and I need my sleep. I’m surprised I’ve survived the pre-apocalypse now that I think about it.

I have taken up archery, but I’m not even a danger to the target at this point.

At least you’re honest about your chances… Being realistic is always a good thing. What was your first experience with zombie media? Was that experience what drew you into writing the genre?

A friend of mine told me the entire plot to Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead one night. The next time I was near a video store, I rented the video tapes of both movies and watched them a dozen times in the five days I had them. My mind raced on the possibilities. I wasn’t aware of many other zombie films until the floodgates opened some time later in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

I imagined many different survival scenarios before I ever wrote my own stories.

Pop Quiz: The item to your left is your only weapon during the Zombie Apocalypse. What is it and what do you think are your chances at survival?

An Apple shaped cookie jar. I will conquer the world with it.

Do you remember my earlier comment about being realistic? Yeah, I’m taking that back now… Tell me your five favourite pieces of Zombie media.

Dawn of the Dead (the original)

Hide and Creep (cheap, Southern Indie film)

The Walking Dead franchise (I’ll just lump the whole thing together to get it on this list)

Cargo

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

We all know that we sometimes have bad luck. Keeping that in mind, what song do you think would get stuck in your head, playing over and over again on an incessant loop?

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” This song was caught in my head off and on consistently from 2000 through early 2005. It still pops up every now and then, but after those five years, nothing scares me in the “stuck in your head” category anymore.

Thank you Jay! If you’d like to connect with Jay, you can find him on Twitter, Facebook, his Amazon Author Page, his website and you can subscribe to the Dark and Bookish channel on YouTube.

Now before we go, let’s take a look at Jay’s novel Loose Ends…

LE cover smallLoose Ends is the story of three cooks and a mute boy (the narrator) who are the only survivors of a raider attack after the zombie apocalypse. They proceed to look for a new home, but in the process uncover the darkness in each other’s pasts.

Everyone has to eat. This is true for humans and it is true for zombies. Three men have managed to survive the apocalypse by cooking for those that do the work of rebuilding. Sometimes they worked for noble men and sometimes for evil opportunists, but they survived by doing it well. When they become the last survivors by hiding from an attack and they are only cooking for themselves, they begin to think surviving may not be enough. After years of living through a zombie apocalypse apart and together, they find themselves alone again and in need of a new home. 

As they strike out together to search, they begin to explore regrets and unfinished business from their past lives. They might lose themselves for a while in their shared art of preparing the food they eat, but they must also keep from being eaten by the monsters that roam the Earth, both living and undead. “Chef” David Sharp, “Short Order” Shaw Porter, “Doc” John Brown, and a mute boy they call Mutt are on a journey to tie up their many loose ends. 

They will discover that their past actions have had far-reaching consequences. They may find destruction or redemption, but they will have to fight the past, themselves, and the walking dead every step of the way.

**Clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!**

 

Zombie Film Fridays: 13 Eerie

Okay so I happened to watch 13 Eerie the other day before bed. It was an interesting little zombie film without a big budget and filmed in Canada. I have to say that while there were parts that made me cringe (and not in the good way), I still enjoyed it overall. It could have been the added body farm/forensics angle though…

Six forensic undergrads embark on a scientific expedition to a remote island that was once used as illegal biological testing grounds for life-term prisoners.

My Rating: B-

Interesting Facts: Today (Jan 17) is director Lowell Dean’s birthday; the zombies are thought of as uniquely crafted with head and body tattoos highlighting their design; and it’s been touted as an 80’s zombie horror throwback that gives the sub-genre a refreshment.

And now it’s time for the trailer!

ELBOW: Flash Fiction for the Coffin Hop

ELBOW

It made contact with Jesse’s nose as Frank spun around. They shouldn’t be fighting, especially not out in the open, but that young prick had something coming to him.

“What the fuck you do that for?” Jesse whined as the blood poured from his nose. He stood in front of Frank, his hands held up in front of his face in the classic pugilist stance.

“You know why you stupid little shit.”

“Are you seriously mad about that? It’s not my fault she went out and didn’t come back. I didn’t put her on the recon team Frank.”

Marta, Frank’s wife, had been part of the recon team who’d been attacked yesterday by another group of survivors. Without gear and a lot of ground to cover before dark, they hadn’t stood much of a chance in the confines of the city. Open territory would have been one thing, but with hardly any exits and too many places for the undead to hide, the city was a deathtrap.

Today, Frank had taken a small group into LA to look for his wife and the rest of the team. The look on his face said it all by the time they’d gotten back with Harry, the lone survivor.

“She wasn’t supposed to be out there. It wasn’t her team – it was yours. You didn’t go so she ended up having to run back to back missions. If that’s not your fault, I don’t know what is.” Frank reinforced his anger and blame with another well-aimed crack of his elbow, splitting the skin below Jesse’s left eye.

“You can keep hitting me man, but that’s not going to bring her back.”

“I know, but it sure as hell will make me feel better!”

All Rights Reserved © 2013 Julianne Snow

***

Comment on this post to be entered to win a daily prize of a digital version of my novel Days with the Undead: Book One. If you comment on each day, you’ll be entered into the grand prize – click here for more details. All winners will be announced at the end of the Coffin Hop.

Check out the rest of the Coffin Hoppers here!

BLOAT: Flash Fiction for the Coffin Hop

BLOAT

“What the fuck is that smell?”

“Shhh! It’s got to be one of them! Don’t tell it we’re here for fucksake!”

Mark wasn’t sure what to say at Amanda’s outburst. But then he’d never actually been outside since it all went down. Sure he’d seen things from his window, but never anything up close. Hell he was surprised he’d even gotten this far…

As an agoraphobic, he hadn’t set foot outside his home since he was twenty-one and at thirty-seven, when the zombies attacked, he was perfectly fine staying inside. Until his supplies ran out.

At least he’d had Amanda to count on. She was his only life line, even before the uprising. One night, after seeing the reports on the news, he’d heard her knocking frantically at his door. She’d come to try and convince him to leave his condo, but it had taken her four months.

With the undead moving out of the cities, she’d finally convinced him it was the safest time for them to move.

Not that it was an easy feat for him at all. They started slowly, having decided on a number of milestones to overcome each day. Some days Mark failed, not being able to get much past the front door but it all changed the day Amanda told him she was leaving.

And she did leave. The very next day. But it was good for Mark because it forced him to make a decision: to leave and try not to look back.

So on his first day outside, after stepping into what appeared to be an abandoned building, he found his olfactory senses assaulted with the concentrated smell of them. There had been whiffs as the travelled down the streets but nothing as bad as this.

Rounding a corner, trying to source the smell, they came upon a hulking mass of what used to be a man, his body so bloated it appeared to be twice the size.

Exhaling sharply at the smell, Mark exclaimed “I think I’m going to be sick!”

At the sound of a voice, the body rolled and the distended stomach burst, releasing a smell that burned their eyes and activated their gag reflexes. It started to crawl toward them, dragging its bulk with it.

Amanda turned to flee, but Mark’s feet were rooted to the spot. He longed for his safe apartment and silently cursed Amanda for making him leave it.

All Rights Reserved © 2013 Julianne Snow

***

Comment on this post to be entered to win a daily prize of a digital version of my novel Days with the Undead: Book One. If you comment on each day, you’ll be entered into the grand prize – click here for more details. All winners will be announced at the end of the Coffin Hop.

Check out the rest of the Coffin Hoppers here!

HORSE: Flash Fiction for the Coffin Hop

HORSE

It neighed softly, fear flickering in its eyes. The poor animal was scared and with just cause.

A horde ringed its paddock, each of them straining against the wire fence, trying to get in.

It circled the inner sanctum, nervous energy twitching its muscles as it pranced. The undead surrounding it keened desperately for the meal only a few feet away.

The fence bowed slightly before snapping back, propelling part of the gathered group backward. With the wall of bodies behind them, they snapped forward again, the tension on the fence finally causing it to buckle inward. Like molasses, they flooded into the pasture, each of them slowed by the sheer number clamouring to get in.

As the undead sought out the entrance to their prey, the animal saw its chance.

With hands scrabbling to catch hold, it bolted in the opposite direction, barely clearing the fence as it jumped. Hands continued to grab at the fuzz-covered muscle as it mowed down any who stood in its way.

Clearing a copse of trees, it was brought up short. The numbers in front greatly outweighed those behind. Flight took over again and it bolted through the middle, only to be stopped by the sheer number of bodies packed tightly together.

Within moments it fell, its attempt at escape over.

All Rights Reserved © 2013 Julianne Snow

***

Comment on this post to be entered to win a daily prize of a digital version of my novel Days with the Undead: Book One. If you comment on each day, you’ll be entered into the grand prize – click here for more details. All winners will be announced at the end of the Coffin Hop.

Check out the rest of the Coffin Hoppers here!

Chewing Braaiiinns with… Sharon Stevenson

Today I welcome Sharon Stevenson, author of the newly released Raised: Part One. Let’s take a moment to introduce Sharon to the gang here at Days with the Undead…

SharonStevensonSharon Stevenson is the twisted mind behind The Gallows Novels and the brand new After Death Series. If you want to know a bit about her, here it is: Sharon spends too much time indoors and probably watches too many horror films. Some of her favourite things are; Alone time, people who know when to shut up, having a drink, eating pizza (usually after having too much drink the night before), reading books, adult swim cartoons, bad horror and sci-fi movies, proper good TV shows like Dexter & The Walking Dead, and last but not least having a laugh with her hilarious other half – which would usually include some of the above

Welcome Sharon. So tell us: why Zombies? Is there anything specific that draws you to the genre?

I’ve always loved horror movies and some of my favourites include zombies but more recently I’ve been very impressed with the quality of zombie offerings in film and TV; The Walking Dead and Zombieland are particularly good examples and I believe they have contributed massively to the rise in popularity of these undead beings.  The influx of zombies into popular culture has been much more noticeable in recent years.  It started me thinking what kind of zombie book I would want to write.  As it turns out, I developed two ideas; one for a classic zombie horror mashed up with a serial killer story which I’m still working on right now, the other an urban fantasy series with a dark comedy element for which the first part is out now.

‘Raised: Part One’ is the first in an Urban Fantasy series about a magically animated dead guy and his efforts to escape his inevitable enslavement.

What makes your Zombies different, if anything?

Hmm, let me see: they are magically reanimated, and don’t decompose or eat brains!

What are your 5 favourite Zombie books that you didn’t write?

  1. Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde by Devan Sagliani
  2. The Rising Dead by Devan Sagliani (Yes, he’s that good and he’s got a third zombie book coming out next month I cannot wait to get my hands on)
  3. Pet Cemetery by Stephen King
  4. I, Zombie by Hugh Howey
  5. Dead Bastards by Jenny Thomson

What are your top 3 favourite Zombie films?

1. Planet Terror

2. Dead Heat

3. Zombieland

Do you think the popularity of The Walking Dead and its appearance in mainstream media has helped to increase the popularity of the genre, or has there always been such an interest?

There has always been a fan base but I believe it has expanded massively thanks to quality offerings like The Walking Dead being widely available for public consumption.  Zombies were very much B-movie monsters in the past and those movies only appealed to certain people, who are horror fans like me.  The Walking Dead has definitely helped increase the popularity of the zombie genre.  There are people I know who watch it religiously and these are the same people who would never sit through a B-movie.

Pop Quiz: If the Zombie Apocalypse were to occur right now, 5 things found in the room you are currently sitting will be your weapons – what are they?

  1. Blow torch!  It’s just lucky the husband was on weed-killing duty earlier.
  2. Empty cider bottle.  Good for one smash!
  3. Heavy lamp.  Might be heavy enough to bash some zombie brains in.
  4. High heels.  Time to ruin a perfectly good pair of heels getting stabby!
  5. The TV?  I think I’d rather give up my brains…

You kill weeds with a blow torch?? That’s bad-ass and I now want you on my survival team!

Now let’s take a look at Raised: Part One

RAISED (1)In a world where magic crashed to earth in a rusty spaceship full of starving blood suckers, it’s not easy being a reanimated dead guy. Take Pete’s undead word for it…

Pete has been murdered by a mentally unhinged and suicidal one night stand. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s been reanimated for reasons unknown by… persons unknown. This makes him an Animate without an owner, the human equivalent of a stray dog.

Afraid of who his owner may be and what they have planned for his undead ass, Pete does the only thing he can; he goes on the run. The King’s Guard are Scotland’s primary recruiters for Animates so Pete knows he has to leave Edinburgh to escape a fate that terrifies him.

The portal to Las Vegas could be his only hope or his biggest mistake…

Can Pete escape enslavement when it’s what he’s been raised for?

Warning: This book contains strong and frequent adult language and sexual references.

Clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!

Thank you Sharon for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to connect with Sharon, you can find her on her website or Twitter.

Chewing Braaiiinns with… Ray Wallace

Today I’m featuring another segment of my series ‘Chewing Braaiiinns with…’ and interviewing author Ray Wallace. Haven’t heard of Ray yet? Well, let’s get you all acquainted…

ray-wallace-photoRay Wallace hails from the Tampa, FL area and is the author of THE NAMELESS, THE HELL SEASON, the short story collection LETTING THE DEMONS OUT, and the One Way Out novels ESCAPE FROM ZOMBIE CITY and ESCAPE FROM ZOMBIE ISLAND. He also writes reviews for chizine.com.

Welcome Ray. So why Zombies? Is there anything specific that draws you to the genre?

Zombie fiction has it all. Monsters. Pandemic. The collapse of civilization. Questions of morality. Fight for survival. Pretty much every horror trope imaginable can be found within the confines of a zombie story. And that’s why it’s such an enduring scenario for dark fiction writers everywhere. For the sheer fun of it, I don’t know if anything beats writing a zombie story. And, judging by the volume of zombie tales out there, it would seem I’m far from alone in feeling this way.

Tell us about your latest project; published or otherwise.

Escape from Zombie Island just came out. It’s a follow-up to Escape from Zombie City which did well enough with Apex Publications that another One Way Out book seemed in order. It’s not a sequel though. Both books can be read independently of one another.

What makes your Zombies different, if anything?

Back when I was in grade school, we had a book club through which I purchased a number of Choose Your Own Adventure books. (I managed to hold onto them all these years later.) Fairly recently I had this idea: How much fun would it be to create a CYOA style book in which the reader finds him/herself in the middle of a zombie outbreak? And what if only one of all the possible endings resulted in the reader’s survival? Thus the One Way Out concept was born. I decided to put both the standard, slow-moving zombies along with the fast, 28 Days Later style infected maniacs in the books. So I think it’s more of the experience of the books I’ve written rather than the zombies themselves that helps set them apart from the hordes of other undead novels out there.

That’s a very interesting premise! What are your 5 favourite Zombie books that you didn’t write?

I am Legend by Richard Matheson. (Yeah, I know the creatures are more vampiric in nature but this is the prototypical zombie apocalypse book.) Both of the John Skipp and Craig Spector Books of the Dead. World War Z, of course. And a book that came out a while back which I believe does not get the attention it deserves in light of the recent explosion in zombie popularity: Philip Nutman’s Wet Work. Any zombie fans out there who haven’t read it really should.

I haven’t read Wet Work yet, but I did snag a copy of it a few months ago in a second-hand book store. Now I want to read! What are your top 3 favourite Zombie films?

I don’t want to just make a list of Romero films so I’ll pick one: Night of the Living Dead. I also love the semi-humorous Return of the Living Dead. And then I’ll have to go with Re-Animator. It’s got reanimated corpses in it so I think it counts as a zombie film. And it’s one of my all time favorite horror movies period.

Great choices! Do you think the popularity of The Walking Dead and its appearance in mainstream media has helped to increase the popularity of the genre, or has there always been such an interest?

The interest in zombies has been there for quite some time now but there’s no doubt The Walking Dead has taken it to another level. I know people who’ve never read a zombie book in their lives—or cared all that much about watching zombie movies—who love the show. Somehow, TWD has managed to touch a nerve with the viewing public which is great. The more zombie fans, the better, I say.

Pop Quiz: If the Zombie Apocalypse were to occur right now, 5 things found in the room you are currently sitting will be your weapons – what are they?

A chair. A lamp. A computer tower. A book. (Actually, all kinds of books.) And an electric guitar. I think the electric guitar would work best as a weapon. Hold it by the neck and give it a good swing and you could really do some damage with it.

I’m sorry to have to say this Ray, but I think you may be doomed…

On a brighter note, let’s take a sneak peek into Escape from Zombie Island…

zombieisland_300x200While vacationing at an island resort, you watch as a small airplane crashes on the beach then bursts into flames. Trapped inside, the pilot tosses a metal canister leaking a black gas free of the plane. Those who breathe in the gas undergo a strange and terrifying transformation. A short while later, they die. Unfortunately, they don’t stay dead.

As night falls and a storm rolls in off the ocean, the living dead spread across the island like a plague. Before long nowhere is safe, including the hotel where you’ve been staying. All that matters now is finding a way off the island before you fall prey to the hungry dead. Or become one of them yourself.

Whether or not you live through the night depends solely on the choices you make. One bad decision could get you killed.

With any luck, you just might find the One Way Out and…

Escape from Zombie Island.

Now it’s time for you to choose your own adventure – you can choose to click on the cover and be taken away to purchase this book from Amazon, or you can decide to not add what sounds like a highly entertaining read to your life. The choice is yours…

I’d like to thank Ray for taking the time to answer my probing questions. If you’d like to keep tabs on Ray (and who wouldn’t want to), you can find him on Facebook or his website!

Zombie Film Fridays: A Little Bit Zombie

This Friday, we’re featuring another Canadian zombie flick – A Little Bit Zombie. Last week, a good friend of mine mentioned that I should watch this film, not knowing of course that I have seen it a few times. It’s funny and quirky and worth a watch!

Infected by a virus, a mild mannered HR manager attempts to fulfill his overwhelming desire for brains, all while trying to keep it together so as not to incur the wrath of his bridezilla-to-be.

My Rating: B+

Interesting Fact: This movie was crowd-source funded and it was completely filmed in Sudbury, Ontario!

And now it’s time for the trailer!