Being a zombie is no picnic and it's one hell of a handicap in the romance department when you fall in love with a 'breather':
Aleta is a breather with short blonde hair and brown eyes - two of them! - and the whitest smile Fred has ever seen. Every day at a certain time she sits at her window, and every day he stands in the rubble across the street among a crowd of zombies waiting to break through the fence and eat her.
'You are beautiful, like an angel', he thinks, but all he can moan is, “Braaaiiinss."
Still, as zombies go, Fred's quite a catch. Underneath all the gangrene and rot, Fred is different. This girl will probably turn out to be yet another dead end, an infatuation, someone whose image he cannot get out of his mind and whose taste he cannot get out of his mouth, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
For breathers, it is always only a matter of time, however beautiful they are and whatever the government is assuring people.
Which makes Fred sad because he has a beautiful 11 year old son called Timmy, and Timmy may still be alive.
Publisher: Taylor Street Publishing
Date of Publication: July 2, 2012
Number of pages:306
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist:Tim Hewtson
Excerpt Chapter I
Fred's ruined face stared back at him from a fractured, mold spotted mirror. The remains of breakfast pooled around his feet and a pair of lace panties clung to his shoe, glued there by God knew what.
Bits of flesh were stuck between his yellow teeth, along with the sodden remains of a hand-wash-only label. There was no denying that he'd seen better days.
Being a zombie is no picnic.
Compelled to pause and take stock of himself, he wiped his gore stained hands on a filthy shirt, unsure if he was cleaning the hands or the shirt. His right eye looked like a crushed egg yolk and his left leg was broken in two places. A large splinter of bone poked through the nskin above his thigh, fine dark lines etched across the surface like a bad piece of scrimshaw. The open wound on his neck had started leaking again, but at least the fluid was mostly clear now.
No use dwelling on negatives. Time to get to work. He turned away from his reflection, and limped out of the men's room of the Vince Lombardi rest area.
An overly bright morning sun assaulted him as he stepped outside.
Fred gave a mental wince, wishing yet again that he could blink.
Sunlight had no adverse effect on the undead, but he had never been a morning person. Rain or shine, today he had to shamble over to Terminal C of Newark Airport, where eight breathers were making their last stand. Zombies were lone hunters and rarely worked together.
Every so often, however, a kind of collective broadcast signal went out over the undead grapevine, announcing the newest brain buffet - in a shopping mall, a church, or an airport - with predictable and satisfying results.
Dozens were already making their way down the New Jersey turnpike. By their mindless, movie-slow pace, he knew they hadn't fed.
Zombies weren't Jesse Owens on the best of days, but they tended to move a lot faster with a little brain in the old furnace.
If Fred could breathe, he would have sighed. There'd be hundreds of zombies, all ready to fight over eight brains and assorted bits. The breathers would probably take out ten to twenty percent of the attacking hoard before being overwhelmed. That left about ten zombies per breather. With luck, by the time he got there he would still be the brainiac of the pack.
Having his wits about him gave a zombie an edge in the hunt. The effects of the virus or whatever it was that put the mojo in their mortified flesh varied from corpse to corpse. Most became textbook droolie ghoulies, but some could reason and even remember who they were as breathers. So far Fred hadn't come across any other thinkers, but he doubted he was the only one.
By mid-afternoon he found himself enjoying his walk down the turnpike. Most of the fires had burned themselves out and although the air still reeked of burning gasoline, the skies were more or less smoke-free. He might be a walking corpse, but he appreciated a warm spring day like this one. He pulled his lips up in what should have been a grin.
Death, ruin and destruction improved the New Jersey Turnpike.
Not that there wasn't a black lining to be found around Fred's own little rainbow of a life. Most of the zombies were a few hundred yardsdown the road, but two lesser undead doggedly tagged alongside of him, putting a bit of a damper on things. The virus left them as nothing more than … well, nothing more than zombies. They were about as interesting as slugs and moaned so much that, were Fred alive, he'd be sporting a hell of a migraine.
All in all, however, the day was turning out quite well. He almost convinced himself being undead wasn't so bad. Sure, it was bad luck that he was forty-five years old with a rather large potbelly when he had been bitten by that damned clerk. Being cursed to wander the earth in search of brains was bad enough, but why couldn't it have happened when he was twenty years younger and thirty pounds lighter?
He was imagining wandering the earth in search of fresh brains as a slimmer, sleeker and younger Fred, when the head of the zombie on his left exploded.