Authors: Robert R. Best
Tags: #Zombie, #robert r best, #Horror, #Zombies, #Lang:en, #Memorial
Book one of a zombie
Robert R. Best
A “Library of the Living Dead” Book
Published by arrangement with the author.
Robert R. Best
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved
Without limiting the rights under copyright
reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in
any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of
both the copyright owner and “Library of the Living Dead Press”,
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. People,
places, events, and situation are the product of the author’s
imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead or
undead, or historical events, is purely coincidence.
Introduction by Laura Best
When Robbie was a kid he directed Super 8
movies, forcing his family and friends to be his actors. They
finally revolted and refused to work for him any more.
When Robb (dropped the 'ie' just to be
different) was a teenager, he kept sending tapes of himself singing
to famous artists, until his mom told him he couldn't sing, so
knock it off.
When I first met Robb (don't call me Bob
that's my dad's name), he had resigned himself that his comedy
troupe wasn't really going anywhere. He couldn't get more than
small parts in the plays he tried out for. He was thinking of
turning his energy to writing instead.
During our dating and engagement years, he
wrote two really bad novels, both comedies. I told him to get a
Five years in to our marriage, Robb (my wife
won't let me drop the 2 B's now) graduated from a university
writing program. A professor had told him, you're a good writer,
but your stuff is a little fantastic for my taste. He wrote a story
about a man who tried to sell his soul in exchange for a few good
weekends with his estranged teenage son. It was beautiful and dark,
and I felt bad for not believing in him up to then. I've never made
that mistake again.
About 7 years ago, I said, Write me a zombie
novel, baby! He hemmed and hawed and I waited. Then, I had a string
of family members hospitalized. Sitting with me late nights in
patient rooms and hospital waiting rooms, even sleeping in chairs,
Robb started asking weird questions. Things like, if you were
trapped in a hospital with zombies, what would you use for weapons?
Suddenly, every hospital we went to was a conversation about air
ducts and sprinkler systems and how easy would it be to take the
furniture apart with your bare hands? He questioned my mom
constantly about being a nurse's aide and how emergency rooms
worked and which doors lock in a hospital anyway?
He found the
Library of the Living Dead
podcast, and started warming up to the idea even more. We
talked about single moms we knew, spunky young girls who raised
their kids with all their hearts because that was all they
We talked about asshole rednecks we knew,
men with good hearts that were broken and bitter, looking for a
chance to redeem themselves, or go to hell, one.
Then, this March, at the end of a long, cold
winter, Robert finally gave me the manuscript. It's violent and
vulgar, dark and depressing. It's cliché and innocent, and renewed
my love of classic zombie stories. Sometimes, I stopped reading so
I could tell him what a sick bastard he was. And sometimes it even
made me tear up.
And while Robert is excitedly telling his
friends and family about his book deal with Dr. Pus, I know he
wrote it all for me. I hope you all love it as much as I do. But if
you don't, screw you. It's my damned zombie novel. I've waited
seven years for it.
And, Robbie, you may now tell the rest of us
to suck it. You were right, and you made it work. I love you
Now, back to work on those sequels! Exciting
stuff coming, from what we've been talking about lately...
April 10, 2009
For the small town of Lakewood, it began at
Ed's Diner. A few customers were there, eating and talking. Ed was
behind the counter, wiping at a stain that had been there longer
than the waitresses. In roughly ten minutes, Ed would die
Ed idly wondered where Old
Timmins, his fishing buddy, had gotten off to.
Probably on one of his week-long drunks
, Ed figured. Those were common enough.
The door slammed open.
Jimmy Dotson, a teenage punk Ed had little
use for, stumbled in. A big rip ran through his shirt and blood
coated his arm. He looked around the diner, confused and
. Ed thought about the rifle stashed under the counter,
rarely used but loaded just the same.
Shit,” said Jimmy,
looking at Ed. “You gotta lock the door.”
Something wrong, Jimmy?”
said Ed, trying to get a read on the situation. “You
Jimmy kept looking out the
large window, between the big painted letters that said
in reverse. “You
gotta lock the doors. Where are the keys?”
, thought Ed.
He's on something
he hasn't hurt anybody. And won't hurt anybody here.
Ed cleared his throat. “Jimmy, don't you
think you should have someone look at your arm?”
Jimmy let out a pained whine and pulled a
pistol from his back pocket. He pointed it at Ed.
The diner fell quiet. A waitress behind Ed
gasped and dropped a dish.
Jimmy shook as he spoke. “Please. Lock the
fucking door right fucking now or I will shoot you and get the
fucking keys my fucking self.”
Ed stared at Jimmy. At the gun. His hand
inched toward the rifle.
The gun rattled in Jimmy's shaking hand.
“Please,” he said, almost whispering.
At the edge of his vision, Ed saw movement
outside. A bent form was shuffling toward the diner. Ed recognized
the dirty jacket and battered cap. Old Timmins, no doubt coming for
some post-drunk coffee. Timmins was a drunk, but he was a good man
all around. And the customers were all good people too. And this
drugged-up little shit was going to burst in and start waving a
gun? Anger grew in Ed.
Jimmy looked over at the figure outside. He
cried out. Ed seized the chance and snatched up the gun. He brought
it out over the counter and fired.
The shot hit Jimmy in the shoulder. Blood
spattered backward and Jimmy fell over. Ed's ears rang and the
diner was silent.
Ed breathed out, his heart pounding. “Call
an ambulance,” he said to the waitress behind him.
The door jangled as Old Timmins pushed his
Picked a hell of a time
to come up for air,” said Ed, replacing the rifle under the
counter. He reached for a clean coffee cup.
Timmins shuffled toward the counter. His
head was down and he said nothing.
Ed placed the mug down as Timmins grew near.
He reached for the coffee pot. Then it struck him as odd that
Timmins hadn't reacted to the gunshot or the wounded punk on the
Then Ed was screaming as Old Timmins sank
half-rotten teeth into his arm.
Angela Land strode down a hallway in
Lakewood Memorial Hospital. She moved with purpose through the
florescent light and disinfectant smell. The small rural hospital
had a few doctors, a few nurses and several nurse's aides. Angie
was third on that list.
Her cell phone rang. She didn't stop or even
slow down, sliding the phone from her smock and flipping her hair
to one side.
She pressed the phone to her ear.
Angie sighed. “What is it, Maylee? I'm at
Brooke is being a
She's the babysitter.
Just do what she says.”
Angie arrived at a large, dimly-lit laundry
room. Several dryers were rumbling like hungry monsters. Her friend
Freeda - also an aide - was folding sheets. Angie nodded and Freeda
handed her one, grinning. Angie smiled and turned to leave. “And
don't say bitch.”
Brooke said bitch,” said
Angie exhaled and walked back down the hall,
holding the sheet. “Brooke's sixteen.” The same age Angie had been
when Maylee was born.
Well, in two years you
can start saying bitch. We'll have a party.”
Maylee let out an exasperated groan. When
Angie was in an honest mood, she knew those groans sounded just
like her. “Don't you think fourteen is a little old for a
Angie counted the room numbers as they went
by. 409, 410, 411 ... “Your brother's only twelve.”
Twelve's a little old,
Look, Maylee, I just feel
better if someone's there.”
I'm here, Mom. Don't you
think I can handle it?”
No one can handle
But you can?”
I have to, Maylee,
whether I want to or not. Now I have to go. Goodbye.”
Mom...” Maylee started,
but Angie was already snapping the phone shut. She dropped it back
into her pocket and reached room 425. Mr. Paulson.
I'm back,” she announced
as she strode into the room and pushed the door shut with her foot.
Old Mr. Paulson sat up in bed, a sheet crumpled around his ankles.
The sheet was spattered with the remnants of his dinner.
About goddamned time,” he
said. He spoke like he was spitting out something nasty. “I was
freezing my nuts off.”
Mr. Paulson's daughter sat in a chair next
to his bed. Angie knew her to be 45, but her eyes looked older. Her
name was Kristen.
Now, Dad,” she said,
shaking her head. “It was you who dumped your food on the
It tasted like
half-digested turds,” said Mr. Paulson. He glared at Kristen, then
looked back to Angie. “How could you feed that to an old man?
Especially a dying one?”
Angie smiled and pulled the dirty sheet from
the bed. “Now, Mr. Paulson, I don't think you're dying.”
Mr. Paulson snorted. “Well, you don't think
much, then. I might look like the picture of health to a retard
like you, but I ain't.” He twisted around to slap the oxygen tank
next to his bed. A tube ran from the tank to under his nose. “I've
dragged one of these fuckers around for ten years.”
Kristen exhaled. “Well, if you hadn't smoked
for all those years...”
Oh, monkey-clit.” Mr.
Paulson folded his arms and sat back. “Now you've got my daughter
bitching at me.”
Kristen smiled and shook her head. Angie
dropped the dirty sheet and took the clean one in both hands.
Kristen stood and held out her arms, offering to take the sheet.
Angie shook her head and started unfolding.
Kristen sat. “Well, Dad, I just want to have
you around as long as possible.”
, thought Angie,
hell of a thing to
wish on yourself
. She felt a little guilty
for that, and turned her attention to the equipment sitting around
the bed. If anything was obviously wrong, she'd have to report it
to Nurse Ruby.
Then a scream came from somewhere down the
hall. It was a woman, screaming loud and long. It sent a cold spike
down Angie's back. All three of them turned to look at the
It swung open slowly.
A large man lumbered in. It was Sam Shuab,
Kristen's husband. He was carrying paper cups of coffee.
Man, some old chick's
really squalling two rooms down,” he said.
And then Angie remembered. “Oh, that's just
Mrs. Reddens. She always yells when she has blood drawn.” Angie had
known that. Everyone on staff knew that. So why had it scared her?
Something felt wrong tonight. Like something awful was sneaking up
on her. She hadn't said anything to Maylee, but that was the main
reason she'd insisted on a babysitter tonight. Someone else there.
To keep watch. But for what?
Poor old Mrs. Reddens,”
Mr. Paulson snorted. “Poor old me, for
having to listen to her. Moldy old twat's always shrieking at
bingo, too. Enough goddamned noise to wake a corpse.”
I doubt she'd wake a
corpse,” said Kristen.
Well, I'll know soon
enough, first hand. Once the quacks here go cracking my chest
open.” He waved his arms to indicate the whole hospital.
It's just for a
pacemaker,” said Angie. She stooped to pick up the dirty sheet.
“It'll help with those chest pains.”
I'm sorry, miss,” said
Sam, handing Kristen a cup and sitting. “Are you a
Angie's face flashed hot. “No.”
No, you're a hospital
maid is what you are.” He adjusted the glasses on his thick head.
“Now go get us a damned doctor so we can talk sense to