Authors: Rusty Fischer
OU KNOW, SURPRISINGLY
, they don't sell a lot of brains in the local 24-hour grocery store around the corner from my house. And, believe it or not, they don't really like it when you ask about them. At least, not the sleepy college kid working the only open cash register the night I become a zombie.
“Hi, yeah, listen, uh â¦Tad? Tad, I'm looking for, well, see, my, uhhm â¦grandfather â¦is coming into town this weekend, and he really likes, well, believe it or not, he
brains. Don't look at me like that. I guess they ate them on the farm when he was growing up or something, but â¦do you know where I could find any?”
“Tad,” or so says the name tag on his chest, looks past me, around me, out into the parking lot, and everywhere
at me before finally saying, “Very funny.” Then he stares at me, as if to say, without words, “I'm too smart to be punk'd. Even if it is two in the morning and there's not another soul around for miles.”
“It's not a prank, Tad. Seriously. I looked all over the meat department, found tubs of chicken livers, something called âchitterlings'ânot sure I want to go thereâeven a big, gray cow's tongue, but â¦no brains. So â¦do you know where I could find them? I mean, I'm asking as a customer”âhere I hold up the insanely fat roll of $20 bills Dad keeps in a cookie jar in the kitchen in case of an emergency (which, I think you'll agree, this is)â”so I'm really
trying to prank you.”
He sighs, reaches for a curvy microphone next to his cash register, pushes a button at the base, and says, “Harvey, I'm sending a live one back to the butcher for a few pounds of, get this â¦
Published 2011 by Medallion Press, Inc.
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is a registered trademark of Medallion Press, Inc.
If you purchase this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
Zombies Don't Cry
Copyright Â© 2011 by Rusty Fischer
Zombies Don't Forgive
Â Copyright Â© 2013 by Rusty Fischer
Zombies Don't Surrender
Â Copyright Â© 2014 by Rusty Fischer
Cover design by James Tampa
Edited by Emily Steele
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
For my lovely wife, Martha, who's had to put up with my zombie shenanigans for far too long now.
Rusty would like to thank the following for their invaluable contribution to the “making of”
Zombies Don't Cry
First, to Jamie Brenner with Artists & Artisans, Inc., who knew this book better back when it was still called
Have a Nice Afterlife
. Jamie taught me the importance of story, as well as knowing your audience. She also taught me that timing is everything and that writing a “timeless” book is more important than chasing a fad.
Second, to the good folks at Medallion Press. Finding a publisher is never easy; finding a publisher who actually cares about its authors, particularly in this day and age, is doubly so. I'm proud to have found a “home” at Medallion, where zombies are always welcome. Editorial Manager Lorie Popp has been particularly encouraging, and I'd also like to give a major shout-out to my “point person,” Editorial Director Emily Steele, who has made the process easier than it should be.
Next, to my unofficial mentors on Facebook and Twitter. There are too many to list by name, but being able to talk about writing, publishing, e-books, print books, submissions, query letters, plot, and characterization with folks I've long admiredâand readâhas been a true inspiration. They say writing is a solitary venture, and that's true for the most part, but social media has really opened up my world and, I like to think, my writing is better for it.
Finally, to my family and friends, who have learned more about zombies than they probably ever wanted to. I never fail to get a kick out of hearing my in-laws, Helen and Gerry, asking about flesh-eating zombies or watching my mom, Colee, egging her teacher friends to buy her son's book about the living dead. (And don't get me started on trying to convince my dad, Rusty Sr., how well a book about zombies would go over at Rusty's Raw Bar.) They've been hearing about this book for so long, I hope they're not disappointed when the dead finally spring to life!
he graveyard is
calm at this hour, an appropriately full moon shining down on acres of freshly mown lawn and miles of evenly spaced headstones. Their endless rows are surprisingly calming; it's almost like I'm staring at a big mouth with thousands of teeth smiling just for me. Though the air is chilly this time of year, it's clear, making everything clean, crisp, and high-resolution; death in hi-def.
I always thought this was a particularly nonspooky cemetery as far as cemeteries go. Most of the ones you see on TV or in the movies are purposefully creepy crawly, gruesome affairs, with crooked headstones leaning and fences broken and the graves overgrown with dried, dead bushes and looking, I suppose, about the way you figure a cemetery should look.
Here in Florida, they take their graveyards pretty darn seriously.
The fence doesn't creak when you walk by, there is no pack of feral black cats roaming the grounds, the grass is ballpark green, the headstones are all straight, a nice unbroken sidewalk runs the length of the graveyard, the grave markers are clean, and the flowers are all fresh.
I use the moonlight to inspect the contents of the picnic basket at my feet.
Four cans of Mountain Dew?
Plastic forks and knives?
Handcuffs if things go south?
Leg chains if things go really south?
Hatchet if things go really,
I smile, shut the picnic basket, clasp it tight, and pat the top for good measure. Clouds move across the moon but, thanks to my new zombie vision, I can still see fine, thank you very much. (Even if everything looks a little â¦yellow. But that's okay; you get used to it after awhile.)
The grave at my feet is fresh. Half the folded white chairs are still lined up in the back with the rest stacked neatly on a metal dolly someone forgot to haul back to the funeral parlor come closing time. Well, no surprises there. After all that's gone down in the last few days, who can blame the gravediggers for being underpaid and overworked?
I don't need to look at my watch to tell me it's been nearly 72 hours since I turned him, so by now he should be just beginning to stir down there, six feet under. I sigh, grab the shovel I brought from the back of the truck, and start digging. It's hard work, true enough, but I like the constant motion. Zombies tend to get a little stiff after awhile, so anything we can do to keep moving, to keep our joints from freezing up and stiffening out, well, more's the better, I always say.
I make quick work of the top layer of soil, step into the grave itself, and dig some more. I take my time; no use exerting myself before our big reunion. I form a kind of musical rhythm here in this empty graveyard on this moonlit night: shovel in, scoop out, over the shoulder, back again; shovel in, scoop out, over the shoulder, back again. Like that, over and over, until finally the rhythm is interrupted by my shovel hitting casket wood, giving off a shower of fresh, varnished splinters.
I step aside, squeeze alongside the casket, and use the hard end of my shovel like a trowel to carefully scrape away the thin layer of dirt covering the top. When the coating is gone and wood is all that remains, I lean on my shovel, stretch my back, wipe my forehead out of habit (zombies don't sweat), and listen for a minute or two.
I smile at the sounds of shuffling coming from inside; nothing too terribly urgent, just the generally spooky sounds of funeral tuxedo against coffin satin. (Trust me: once you hear it, you never forget it.) Just to make sure I'm dealing with a good zombie and not a bad one (yeah, actually, there
a difference), I tap the top of the coffin with my stiff new army boots.
Tap, tap, tap
I wait, glad for the still, autumn night, until I hear the urgent response beneath my feet:
tap, tap, tap
. That's my boy. I use the end of the shovel to pry the casket open and listen to the hiss as the hydraulic cover slowly rises like the trunk of Dad's reliable old station wagon.
Inside lies a statuesque young man with pale skin, a blue tux, and the most deliciously delectable curl dangling across his marble white forehead. I know I haven't been a zombie all that long, but I actually think it's ruined me for regular guys.
Back when I was a Normal, I always had a thing for jocks. You know, the robustness, the ruddy skin, the muscles bulging out of sweaty gray tank tops, the suntans â¦the tan lines. But now? I gotta tell you, something about the pale skin, the 0 percent body fat, the no heartbeat, and those deep, dark circles under the eyes is
bringing it home for me.
And this one? This one's got all that in spades.
He smiles faintly, though aimlessly, perhaps in response to the moonlight flooding down rather than to seeing the girl who actually put him in the casket in the first place. At any rate, he certainly doesn't seem too panicked about waking up six feet under in a wooden box, satin-lined and expensive though it may be.
“Who are you?” he asks quietly. “And why are you carrying that shovel? And where am I? And whose tux is this? And why is it â¦
Ah, Fresh Meat; always with the questions. I shoosh him with a pale finger to my gray lips, tasting fresh grave dirt and shovel splinters and swiftly wiping them off on my black cargo pants. Then I haul him out of the casket, drag him up out of the grave, sit him down, open the picnic basket, show him the fresh brains, and watch his eyes. Light. Up.
As he makes short work of the first brain, I sigh, filling in his grave a little more speedily than I dug it out and patting down the top layer so it looks relatively undisturbed. By then he's halfway through the second brain, and before I can say, “Hey, save some for me,” he's sitting back in his musty tuxedo, patting his stomach and burping.
I crack open a fresh can of Mountain Dew and hand it to him.
“Thanks, Maddy,” he says finally, sleepy eyes full of recognition, drowsy smile full of gray matter and gore. I shake my head, sigh, and join him on the fresh sod next to his even fresher grave. Hey, we're not exactly Leo and Kate on the bow of the
, but when you and your boyfriend are both dead (sorry,
, trust me, you take what you can get.