May 30, 2013

Zombie Fiction Writing Challenge

Zombie Fiction Writing Challenge

Use a Story Start

(Warning: the story start contains strong language)

Below is a 600-word story start.  The setting is a classroom.  The time is approximately three weeks after the outbreak.

There are 17 characters. Some of them speak, some are simply mentioned.

Every character, in every story, has a history that led them to this location and this moment. Let's run with that and create 17 distinct vignettes.

Create a Character

Use this starter to create the a vignette that illustrates the past for any ONE of the characters. The vignette should illustrate an event in the character's past that connects to the story start in some way, however remote that may be.

The vignette should be a maximum of 750 words long. It must use the character's name in the title. The vignette should be original and not previously published elsewhere. 

Choose a character.  Read the story start.  Write a vignette.   

Send vignettes, messages and questions to juleromans (at) gmail (dot) com.

The fine print: Vignettes submitted should be original, artfully polished, and free of grammatical errors. Jule reserves the right to edit vignettes as needed. Vignettes will be published based on their adherence to the guidelines. 

The 17 characters


The Story Start

“That bitch has NO Fucking Idea.”

Three male voices copied the first. Brady, Tristan and Garrett were only freshmen, after all, so what did they know? Nate stood and watched as Gabe drew casual aim on a lone, stumbling figure. The former teacher had a tattered lanyard around her neck, with three pieces of twisted sharpened metal still attached. She clutched them in her plump, battered hands. As her fingers slid back and forth over the shards, they left drops of blood against the brass remains of her former badge of power- what used to be keys. She had clearly been doing this repetitive action for some time. There were streaks of darkened  blood on the front of her white blouse. Some of the streaks were bright and wet, while others were flaking with age.

“That’s the weird thing.” Nate’s lips barely moved, but the others heard him perfectly. They’d learned how to listen to him, the way he was now.  “You’d think they’d run out of blood after a while”

“I know, right?” Brittney responded in a husky undertone. “I’ve got a theory about that. Later.” She held her breath a little while she let her fingers play across Emilie’s forehead. “Just let it happen, baby. There’s nothing more you can do.” Emilie flinched and whimpered a little, but held still with the bait in her outstretched hand. 

Underneath Emilie’s arm, four of the girls grunted with the weight of the table they supported. Emilie didn’t amount to  much, but it took all four of them to keep the table high enough to do the job. Mattie, Jen, Cienna, and Mariah were growing  steadily weaker. All four knew it wouldn’t be long for them, either. Each of them, in turn, had offered to take Emilie’s place. Each had been overruled. Emilie was the one. This time.

Haley heard Nate, too , but from her position curled up on the floor, all she could see was feet. Not that she was noticing much right now. An unintelligible moan escaped her lips.  Jamie leaned over her and reached for the last bit of water in the pan.  She dipped the rag in the brackish, dirty liquid, using it to wipe Haley’s  blue, distended calf.  

“Help me, idiot.” Jamie glared at Kassie. “You see me struggling here. Help me.” Kassie didn’t respond.  She sat with her back against what was left of the wall, wearing  the same blank expression on her face. Kassie’d   kept the same position ever since the decision was made. “Dammit.” Jamie  gave up. “Some people are just losers no matter what--- in  the high school cafeteria or at the end of the world.”  

In her mind, Jamie heard Kassie’s voice  reply in sing-song: “You’re the loser, loser.” This time, like the twenty times shed tried  before, that response never came. Jamie wondered if it ever would again.  Kassie’s cheek muscles moved just the tiniest fraction, but that was all,  then her face settled back into a solid mask.

Maybe when the boys come back, Jamie thought. Shane, Dalton, and Zach were still out there, foraging for anything useful left in the ruins of the school. They couldn’t go far, but even a short reconnaissance could be a very long time.

“Bitch!” Gabe called out “You… Have…. No…” With a sharp, quick pulse of air, the dart left the straw and found its mark on the female’s neck.

“Fucking.. I… De… AAA!” Tristan, Garret and Brady shouted while they hurtled shoulders-first through the broken shards of glass in the three remaining classroom windows.

Turning to Nate, Gabe snickered and let out a short sigh. “Stupid.”

May 24, 2013

Staying Alive in a Zombie Attack: City or Country?

Staying Alive in a Zombie Attack:

City or Country?

by Christine Verstraete

Just as circumstances and environment have an effect on human lives, so they must play a part in the life - or un-life - of a zombie. How they, and us, survive (or not) has a lot to do with environment.

City dwellers, for instance, have more resources at hand. The bigger the city, the more guns and weapons to be found, the more food, groceries, and places to hide out - and the more people to deal with. In a compacted area, that can mean more prey for the zombies, especially in big-city neighborhoods where one house is located right next to another.

But with populations on the run, or people barricaded and unreachable in a specific area, that means zombies may have to roam further to feed. Yet with no workers left and no maintenance, cities eventually turn into crumbling wastelands overrun with rats - the four-legged and two-legged kind. The criminals, though, will have to either form their own society, leave to overtake other communities, or implode from within.
And if the people are gone, what then? That depends on what role you think animals play in the whole apocalypse thing. In a world where chaos reigns, where humans are hunted and normal life has vanished, what about the animals?

If the virus or infection can spread to different species (bird flu anyone?) then you not only have hordes of undead people, but crazed, weird animals or dying, infected animals (think mad cow disease.) If not, would animals be food for zombies who may be attracted to anything living and moving, if not always human? Then the unthinkable could occur - besides wandering farm and wild animals you have populations of former pets left to fend for themselves or grabbed by the undead. City-dwelling zombies also may have the advantage as garbage festers and the rodent population grows.

The same may hold true for humans in some kind of shelter. After how many months will the food run out? When there is ostensibly nowhere else within reachable distance to find new food sources beyond the canned goods, MRE's and Twinkies, what then? Do humans compete with the zombies for food? Does everyone end up hunting animals and rodents--and each other?

Living in the country can have some advantages, one being the population is spread out enough that there simply is not enough life to attract zombies or keep them hanging around long, especially in the more rural areas with miles of acreage and nothing else. Wild animals then would play a role in both human and undead sustenance. But once the local animal population is gone, would you have the same scenario? Would the countryside be filled with roaming bands of hungry humans - and zombies - fighting over food until no one is left?

Of course when all the food is gone, when nothing is left, it's not only the Donner party that may turn to the unimaginable. Apparently even the starving Virginia settlers in 1609 turned to feeding on the dead to survive. Of course in this instance, you'd need the dead to stay dead first.

When the dead walk, there really is no advantage to where you live, city or country, at least not in the long run. Cheery, huh?

Christine Verstraete 
is an award-winning journalist and fiction writer. 

Her book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, will be published in August. 

Visit her website: 
or stop by her blog:  GirlZombieAuthors.