This was an interesting day of writing. I put 1,500 words into the next Silo Story (retiring the WOOL moniker, maybe), and then I played around with the unpublishable mess that is I, Zombie. I wouldn’t even be touching this thing except that a few fans as nutty as I am loved the idea of the book during the Proof Unveiling last night.
Here’s the gist: Being a zombie is not at all what we’ve thought all these long years. It turns out that zombies know exactly what they are doing, they just can’t stop themselves. Not only is this just as sound scientifically (there are disorders where motor control is subverted or lost while mental faculties remain intact), it’s also much, much more interesting.
Imagine the horror of being a zombie if you knew everything your body was doing! If you could taste the brains, smell your own rotting corpse, feel every survived wound, be a part of a frightening herd, watch yourself tear after survivors that you are pulling for but cannot protect!
Before you get your hopes up, this is an unpublishable mess of an idea. I’ve been toying with it, and the results are too disgusting for me to sit through. So why was I playing around with it today? Because some of you insisted that I keep at it. If this ever becomes anything, it’ll be your fault, not mine.
Here’s the first chapter of I, Zombie. Keep in mind, this is rough draft nonsense, straight from my warped imagination and into Pages. Please do not enjoy it.
1 • Michael Lane
Michael remembered being a boy. Michael could remember everything. He remembered the doctors in the white coats telling him his catatonic mother was still in there behind those glassy eyes and that distant stare. He could remember holding her hand sometimes and hoping this was true. The wheelchair would squeak and rattle while she had another shaking fit, and he would hold her withered and trembling hands and talk to her, try to reason with her.
When he wanted to believe the doctors, he would talk to her like this. Calmly. When he didn’t believe, when he couldn’t—he would scream.
Michael Lane remembers screaming at his mother. He remembers this as he staggers through the apartment, knocking over furniture, chasing the hissing cat.
“Wake up!” he would yell, back when he could.
“Wake the fuck up!”
And he would shake her. He would want to hit her, but he never did. It was tempting, not because he thought it would do her any good or snap her out of this degenerative palsy, but because punching a hole in the wall didn’t make him feel better. He wasn’t pissed off at the wall.
The black cat stood in the corner by the radiator, its spine arched, fur spiked, pink tongue visible as it hissed at him. Michael closed in, remembering the doubts he’d had. The doubts nagged at him.
What if his mother was just acting? What if this was her way of avoiding the world? He’d watched his father crawl inside a bottle and die there just to not have to get up and go to work. Now his mom had retreated behind a vacant gaze, leaving him and his sister to pay the bills, to change her stinking bags, to roll her from one sunny patch by the window to another like a plant turning its head during the day.
He fell forward and seized the cat. Sharp claws gouged his hands, burning where they broke the skin. Michael concentrated on the past, on being a boy. The screaming at his mother was a painful memory, so he orbited that one. He tried to remember if he had ever hit his mother, even a little. He can’t. Can’t remember. Maybe he had.
The cat claws at his face as he bows his head into its fur. It bats at his unblinking eyes, and Michael—the memory of Michael—recoils in fear. But the body he is in does not pull back. He can feel teeth, his teeth, sink past the fur and tear at the flesh. The cat is a screaming, writhing blur. It claws at his eyes, tears at his ears, while Michael eats.
He can’t stop himself.
This is not him.
The blood runs down his throat, warm and foul, the screeching fading to rattling groans, and he can taste it. But this is not him. This is not Michael Lane.
He remembers being a boy, once.
He remembers the doctors telling him things he never believed.
Not until now.