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Word count: 45,503

It’s not even 1PM and I’ve already written 2500+ words today, putting me 500 words past today’s minimum, on pace for an on-time landing. Goodness gracious, November is almost over.

Today’s excerpt is a grand discovery of the true nature of the evil that is Tim Stimph. You might not remember that when Zach and Westy tried to go to the library, they found it had been completely destroyed — Anti-library terrorism had become a problem. People equated books with book-learning which had led to the science and research that led to the cure for cancer that led to the zombie problem. So….people started blowing up books. Anyhow, upon discovering the rubble of the one remaining library in Chicago, Zach blames Stimph. Not for any real reason. It was just the sort of thing that he would do. So, Westy and Zach have gained access to Stimph’s apartment and discovered a locked door within. Undeterred, Zach puts his foot through it, and that is where our story picks up…..

I wrestled my foot from the door, an endeavor which took more time than I’d like to admit, and provided Westy with no end of amusement. Finally free, I shoved my hand through the hole I’d made and found the door knob on the other side.

“Brains.” Careful now.

“Nonsense. Just a simple twist of the wrist, et voila.”

“Brains.” Wait —

Westy’s warning was cut off as the door swung open on oiled hinges followed immediately by an explosion, which though it was, in terms of explosions, small and controlled, still rocked the apartment and slammed me against the wall behind me.

Had I been knocked out? Was it possible for a Z without a nervous system to be rendered unconscious? It was some moments, or minutes, or hours later that I opened my eyes again. I checked my head and limbs — habitual self-diagnostic — and found everything to be in the right place. The only thing amiss was the foot long piece of a Masonite Palazzo Series interior door sticking out of my chest.

“Holy fuck!” I exclaimed. “Would you get a load of that?”

“Brains.” The door exploded.

“Must have been booby trapped.”

“Brains.” Would someone go to such lengths to protect his porn collection?

“I don’t know — I might. Not that I have a porn collection. Really.”

“Brains.” Right.

I rose to my feet, yanked the splinter from my chest and tossed it aside. Why would Stimph booby trap a door in his own apartment? And how had it been rigged? And how was it possible to disable the defense system to allow for safe entry by authorized personnel. A quick examination of the wall to the right of the door revealed the remains of a keypad that had previously been hidden from view by a sliding panel.

“Crap. Should have thought of that first.”

“Brains.” We did.

“Well, you could have said something.”

“Brains.” We tried.

“I suppose you did,” I admitted. “Well, no matter. We’re still in one piece, I think.”

“Brains.” Your shoe is on fire.

I looked down to see that Westy was right — my shoelaces were smoldering. I stomped on one foot with the other, putting it out.

“Good looking out, Westy.”

“Brains.” No problem.

I peered through the smoke into the bedroom. Apparently the trap had been designed only to kill or maim someone breaking into the room, and not to destroy the contents of the room itself. I guess that spoke to Stimph’s confidence that the bomb would do its job, and a lack of foresight that a mostly indestructible member of the walking dead might be curious about what was behind that door. I supposed that had I been your every day run of the mill human being that I might be in worse shape. If the splinter through my chest hadn’t done me in, there were plenty of other dangers that would take care of an ordinary homo sapien: the shockwave of the explosion forcing al the air from my lungs; the resulting fire; or the smoke. Whoever had made this bomb knew what he was doing.

As the smoke cleared, I took stock of the bedroom. There was no bed — where one might have gone, there was a large table that had been covered with beakers, test tube and other lab equipment. The glass, of course, had all shattered, and anything sturdier had been thrown aside, but it was still clear that this was a work table of some sort.

“Was Stimph cooking meth?” I wondered aloud. But I immediately knew this wasn’t the case. I’d watched Breaking Bad and knew that even the smallest meth labs required more space, security, and ventilation than this room could offer. Still, it appeared as if he was making something that required chemicals; something that required the greatest secrecy.

Smoke still obscured much of the room, but I could make out a closet to my right. The doors had been thrown off their rails by the explosion, and they had absorbed some of the blast, but they were still mostly intact — the blast really was designed to blow out of the room. I pulled the doors down and threw them aside. Inside the closet were two large drums — one of ammonium nitrate, the other of some sort of sulfate. Bomb making stuff. It appeared as if Stimph had rigged the bomb himself.

Word count: 43,020

Once again, praise be to Erica for today’s title, and the line.

About a thousand words today, mostly due to Morseland interfering, and also to seeing Muppets (manamana!)

Come to think of it, last year during NaNoWriMo there was that time that the alarm siren at Morseland just kept blaring on and on at 4AM and I had to go over there and cut the damn thing. Today was computers. And printers. And etc.

Sorry. I don’t mean to prattle on.  Over 43K. <7K left. That’s exciting.

“Son, maybe you haven’t been around much lately but  I can tell you ain’t stupid, so I hope you won’t get offended if I give you a piece of unsolicited advice.”

“Not at all,” I said.

“You gotta always be on your guard these days. I ain’t sure how you lived before Westphail fever swept the nation, but you can’t be livin’ any other way but this. You traipse about like you’re still in the good ol’ days, you won’t last long. Just strollin’ along, mindin’ your own business and then bam! –” he shouted this; I didn’t flinch “– zombie got yer kitten.”

“‘Zombie got yer kitten?’” I asked.

“Yep,” he said, as if no further explanation was needed, and I suppose one wasn’t. “Zombie got yer kitten.”

Bloated, post Thanksgiving zombie. Word count: 41,792

Coming into the home stretch here. All these threads of plotline (chasing Tim Stimph; the Zombie Hunter) are loose…. Potential for each of them. Maybe Tim Stimph started the virus himself? Maybe the Zombie Hunter kills him? Maybe maybe maybe….

Meanwhile, I seem to be content to just write dialogue between Zach and Westy.

Awkward silence extended into a full-fledged cessation of conversation. I guessed that Westy finally listened to me.

Which was all well and good, and what I had wanted, obviously, but I had to admit Westy had given good advice on getting me into the building, and probably would have an idea or two about how to get us into Stimph’s apartment. Also, I was never happy when I knew someone was mad at me, or giving me the silent treatment. I’d do whatever I could — assuming I gave a shit about the person’s opinion — to make amends, to keep the peace. Besides, even though Westphail had turned me into whatever it was that I currently am, I’d grown accustomed to Westy’s voice. While I valued moments of silence, this one was different: intentional, weighty.

“Westy, look. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about what I said up on the roof, and just now. I know it seems like I’m a solid, well-adjusted, mentally stable rock of a man –” If Westy had a face, I know he’d have a confused look on it, as if to say, “Brains.” Are you sure you’re talking about yourself? — “…or maybe not so much. But, you have to admit I’m taking this pretty well. I know this isn’t how you planned things. I know you expected to invade my body, shut down all my vital systems and carry me along on a mad kill-crazy rampage until I got decapitated, eviscerated, and incinerated, or until, I don’t know, whatever grand master scheme you had in mind was completed, and that having a still-sentient, thinking, somewhat-feeling thing who has yet to even try to sample the brains of a human being doesn’t really line up with your goals of the day. I know you must be frustrated, and yeah, I’m frustrated too. I mean, don’t think there isn’t a part of me who doesn’t wish that I was just a brainless automaton shambling around town, tearing into human flesh without a care in the world. Sure, that sounds like fun, like maybe a better way to spend my time than climbing buildings, jumping between rooftops, trying to kick down doors, all that. Really, I’d rather just be back in my apartment, waiting for the end to come. I’d gottten pretty good at that. But, hell, this is how it is. This is the new reality. This is what’s what. We’ve got to just make the best of it. Bickering back and forth, trying to hurt each other, what does that accomplish? I know, yeah, sometimes we’re going to get on each other’s nerves and say things that we might regret, but let’s not forget that we’re on the same team here. We’ve got to make the best of it.”

I took a deep breath. There were some moments of silence then, and I wondered if I’d said too much, or come across as weak, or just been completely wrong. Maybe all my reasoning had falled on deaf ears. Maybe Westy didn’t give a shit about peaceful cohabitation. As a matter of fact, I thought, why would he? He was just a virus. It was just a virus. Fine, if it wasn’t going to make the effort to make things tolerable for the both of us, then I wouldn’t either. See how it likes it when I don’t ever eat a single brain. When I go around just —


I was too wrapped up in my thoughts to catch the nuances of the word. “What was that, Westy?” I asked.

“Brains.” You are right. We are sorry. You do not need to ‘grow a pair.’

“Well alright!” I shouted. “I wish we could high five. Or ‘hug it out.’”

“Brains.” That is not necessary.

“No, I suppose you’re right.”

“Brains.” So….


“Brains.” The door.

“Yeah. Another door.” I tried the handle again. Still locked.

“Brains.” Perhaps there is a key.

Post-feasting zombie. Word count: 40,592

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. Had a lovely day — ran 8K in the morning, and then cooked and ate and watched football and wrote a bit for the rest of the day. Lovely company, wonderful food, etc. etc. etc. etc.


“Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit!” It had been a long time since I’d thrown a temper tantrum — at least three years — so I was about due. “I’ve been having the worst luck ever since I turned into a zombie. This isn’t fucking fair!”

“Brains.” You are acting like a child. Pull yourself together. Grow a pair.

“Grow a pair?” I shrieked. “Grow a pair? Are you seriously telling me that I need to grow a pair of testicles? You know what? I had a perfectly good working pair of balls before you came into my life you sadistic sack of shit.”

“Brains.” We are not amused.

“Well neither are we…. am I…. Whatever. Neither am I. Amused. I haven’t been amused one bit since this whole thing started. Not one bit.”

“Br–.” We–

“Do you know, Westy, how much I absolutely love being amused? Oh wait, let me correct that. How much I loved being amused? I fucking adored it. Being amused was my favorite past time. And now I’m looking at a future where I have no more amusement. Ever. Ever. Do you know how that makes me feel?”

“Br–.” We–

“That’s right, you have no idea how it makes me feel. But you know what? Neither do I? Know why? Because I hardly feel shit anymore because, I don’t know, there’s a sentient fucking virus stuck in my head, taking over all the parts of my brain that feel shit. I’m not even sure that I’m angry right now, that’s how fucked up my head is.”

“Br–.” The–

“I don’t know why I’m yelling. I think it’s just something I enjoy — or enjoyed, thank you very much — doing back when I had feelings, and a life, and working fucking genitalia.”

“Br–” Wou–

“No, I won’t let you get a word in edgewise. I don’t care what you have to say right now.”

Pucker up! Word count: 39634

How fleeting life is. How fickle the hands of fate. At first, the person bursting onto the rooftop to surprise Zach was going to be a man. And then it was a woman. And then he was going to fall in love with her and spend the rest of the novel trying to find her and woo her. And then she became zombie food.

There’s a fine line between life and death in a world where zombies walk the streets.


Dejectedly, I walked back to the stairway door, intending to look for some previously unseen weakness in its design, or, failing that, bang my head against it repeatedly for the sake of dramatic effect. I did end up banging my head on it from the start, but just because someone opened the door right into me.

“Eeeyagh!” I said, out of shock and surprise.

“Holy fuck!” shouted the person on the other side of the door.

I took several steps back and the door flew open. An intensely nervous and frightened individual emerged from within and flew at me. The door swung closed — “Don’t let that….aw, hell!” — with a clang.

“Dammit!” I said. “That was my chance!”

Westy’s nerves — or whatever you wanted to call them; it was like “Spidey-sense” every time we got near something that excited or scared him: fire, dead bodies, other Zs — were on edge and it didn’t take a genius to figure out why: a living breathing human had just, quite literally, stumbled into our — my — arms. Her momentum had carried him right at me, taking us both down to the surface of the roof.

I lay there, looking up into the eyes of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. They were blue — the purest blue of mountain streams, or deep oceans, or something — and piercing, intelligent, cold. Strands of her long strawberry-blonde hair fell into my face. I could smell her shampoo — she had somehow remained remarkably well-groomed in the midst of all the chaos; something I instantly admired — and it was intoxicating. I mean to say, to me, it smelled horrible, like the rotting food in the grocery store manager’s office should have smelled but didn’t. But, I figured that since it smelled bad, it must be good. It was intoxication inasmuch as it made me feel like I’d been on a three day bender, had finally crawled out of bed, and was paying reparations in the form of copious amount of vomit. That kind of intoxicating.

The moment lasted for but a moment, though it seemed as though I spent a lifetime just gazing into her eyes, seeking out her soul. Had my whole life brought me to this point? Could a zombie and a human find true love? I had to know.

“Hi there,” I said, using the sexiest voice I could muster. “How you doin’?”

“Are you kidding me?” she asked, disgusted. “At a time like this?” She rolled off me and leapt to her feet, keeping a watchful eye on the door while glancing about, looking for escape routes.

I was unfazed. “My name’s Zach Graves. What’s yours?”

“We need to barricade this door,” she replied.

I laughed. “Barricade it? Lady, I’ve been trying to get through it! That thing’s locked up tight. We don’t need to worry about it. Just you and me here.”

She cast a disgusted look in my direction. “You idiot. We need to barricade it on this side. There’s a pack of Re-Ans coming up the stairs. They’ll be out here any second.”

I sidled up next to this beautiful creature — Westy was pracitcally drooling with anticipation. I was too, but for different reasons — and placed a comforting hand on her back. She pulled away immediately.

“Sorry,” I said, thought I wasn’t particularly. Touching her, ever so briefly, awoke something in me that felt amazing. It was longing of the purest sort, passion of the most intense kind; desire, and need, and… hunger. “Oh. Shit.” I backed off.

“What is it?” she asked, turning towards the door, backing away from it, assuming I’d heard or seen something.

“Nothing. No. Nothing,” I said. I couldn’t make words very well. The voice was loud, distracting, all-consuming. “No.”

I continued backing away, and she, seemingly satisfied that the door was secure for the moment, and not at all unhappy about my sudden desire to increase the distance between us, resumed her search for something with which to bar the door.

“There’s nothing,” I managed.

She had come to the same conclusion, apparently, and gave up her search for anything to be used for defensive measures and started casting about for an escape, often looking over her shoulder at me, or at the door. The only way out (that I could see) was the way I had come, and she shortly came to that realization. She had just begun gauging the distance between the buildings, deciding whether or not she could make the leap when the door crashed open again.

There were three Zs immediately visible in the doorway. They looked pretty bad — clothes ragged, skin torn, mouths agape with hunger. They clearly hadn’t fed in a long time and — aside from a momentary glance in my direction — were desperately focused upon the tasty-looking morsel now standing at the edge of the roof with a mere 20 feet of unobstructed ground to cover. The trio burst from the doorway and made a beeline for the woman. Behind the Zs was a considerably larger pack that, due to its size and lack of coordination, was having one hell of a time trying to get through the door.

I tried to shout a warning. Something like “Look out!” or “Head’s up!” but nothing would come. Instead, I watched with a mix of horror and some sort of sick delight as the Zs leapt at her, their momentum carrying them all over the building’s edge and down to the ground below. They landed with a sickening crunch. I winced and sucked air over my teeth, as if I’d just seen a particularly brutal hit in a football game. I felt fleeting sadness at my lost opportunity for love, but more than that, there was disappointment and annoyance, not unlike how you would feel if you went to the office refirgerator and found that someone else had eaten your lunch.

Big-eared zombie! Word count: 37,427

Was looking over last year’s progress report and discovered I’m about at the same place this year as I was last year, which is heartening. Don’t see much writing time over the next few days, and have only written 1227 words today, mostly due to being really, really tired. Need to push through a few hundred more to try to at least hit 38k (11/22/10: 39,700. 39! Almost 40! Imagine where I’d be if I was at 40k….)

Anyhow. Here’s a little piece of a bit:

There was about a tenfoot gap between the roof I was on and the roof of Tim Stimph’s building. I’d never been involved in a rooftop chase which required me to leap from one building to the next, but I’d seen a lot of movies, and it looked like a lot of fun, so I was eager to get going. How often do you get an opportunity like that?

I gauged the distance, estimating how much of a running start I’d need. Ten feet isn’t a whole heck of a long jump (the men’s world record in long jump is almost six time as far) but when you’re ten stories above ground, it tends to make you extra cautious even if you’re certain (or at least the voice in your head is certain) that you’d survive the fall. Jumping from roof to roof was something I wanted to do. Experiencing a 100-foot drop with a sudden and violent conclusion was not.

“This is so bad-ass,” I said, psyching myself up. “I’m a fucking action hero.”

“Brains.” You’re a zombie with a human complex.

“And you’re a wet blanket buzzkill. This is going to be so cool.”

I stepped back about 30 feet, and did a couple test runs of the running start. When I was confident I could manage the jump, I took a couple deep breaths (unnecessary, of course) tore ass across the roof and leapt into the air.

“Yippie-cay-yay motherfucker!” I shouted.

“Brains.” Why is it that David Hasselhoff was killed in a riot in Berlin? I thought he was really popular in Germany.

“Guh?” I asked. And then, as I slammed into the side of the building whose roof was my target, I said something along the lines of, “Oof.”

I’d caught the lip of the building’s roof right in my midsection. I think I felt (and heard) a couple ribs crack. If I still had a functioning circulatory system, I’d have a hell of a bruise. As it was, I was just really annoyed.

“Dammit, Westy,” I shouted, “you did that on purpose!”

This is somehow the orneriest looking zombie yet. Word count: 35,263

Ah, there’s nothing quite like going back to fill in a gap between two plot points. It’s great — you know where it starts, and you know where it needs to end. The challenge lies in making the two ends meet….. Sitting here atop 35,000+ words, looking down at the 15k I have left to write….and still not sure where the story should go. There’s that whole mass of crap conversation with Ak, and I’d love to do a zombie/human buddy comedy, but, I can’t seem to get them out of that park…. Unless there’s a huge mass of zombies suddenly attacking. Well. There you go. Look forward to hijinx!

It turned out to be a lot easier to find Tim Stimph than either Westy or I thought it would be. Well, I found where he’d been, anyway. First, I went to the grocery store where he’d sneezed on me. In 2016, a law had been passed requiring all food vendors to get full name and address information from all customers in case a food-borne Westphail outbreak popped up. When I got to the store, the windows were broken and the store was dark, like all the rest of the stores I’d seen. The grocery store had been hit particularly hard by looters, of course, with everyone trying to stock up on necessities as they fled the city. The shelves were bare, the coolers empty. I even checked the registers, but even they had been emptied. It wasn’t likely that American currency had much value anymore and it would probably be a very long time before it did again, if that time ever even came. But old habits died hard; even in the face of total annihilation, greed still ruled.

But I wasn’t looking for food or money. I wanted those records. I made my way towards the back of the store to the manager’s office. The door was locked; apparently nobody had thought there would be anything of value in there. The two way mirror which the manager used to spy on his customers and employees was still intact as well. I removed my jacket, wrapped it around my fist and punched through it. It broke with a satisfying smash.

“Shit, that was cool! I’ve never done that before!” I exclaimed as I shook the broken glass out of my jacket put it back on and climbed through the window into the office.

As I jumped to the floor from the window frame, I disturbed a huge cloud of flies which swarmed about my face and then streamed through the window. I feared the worst: a huge pile of decaying corpses strewn about. When I opened my eyes, I discovered that the office was a mess, and it wasn’t just from the broken glass I had just sprayed all over the place. It also wasn’t from looters or Zs or bodies or military action or any of the other messes I’d witnessed so far that day. This was just a straight up mess caused by an untidy, uncaring, unorganized office occupant. Apparently, the manager had a great love of fast food and a great disdain for any sort of cleaning supplies, up to and including garbage bags. There was litter everywhere: half-eaten cheeseburgers molding in McDonald’s cartons; spilled soda turned to hardened syrup deposits on the floor; stacks of pizza boxes came up to my waist. The place was a wreck and looked like it had been for longer than Westphail had been around.

“What a stench!” I exclaimed, then realized that the smell wasn’t really bad at all. To my new zombie nose, I guess, it smelled like dinner. Fuck, I really didn’t want to be attracted to rotting garbage. Not much I could do about that.

If the filth didn’t assault my nose, it did assault my sense of orderliness. My poverty and inability to acquire mass quantities of consumer goods had done me one favor: it forced me to maintain a lifestyle that could be classified as spartan to say the very least. Not having a lot of things meant not having a lot of things to clean up, keep tidy, or take care of, and that had suited me just fine. This office was painful to be in, so I hastened to get in and out as fast as possible.

The computers were, of course, dead and useless. Even if the power had been out, I’m not sure I would have been able to see clearly through the film of grease on the monitor or make use of the crumb-filled keyboard enough to find any files on the machine. Fortunately for me, the manager (a placard on his desk read, “Rob Anise, Grocer”) had apparently not trusted any type of electronic file storage to do its job and had printed out every email, website receipt and computer record that had ever seemingly come across his screen. Besides all the detritus of a life sustained on carry-out food, the desk was covered with what must have been reams of letter-sized paper, covered with everything from an email from a friend (“Rob — Great to see you on Tuesday. Have you lost weight? Just kidding, I know you haven’t. — Craig.”) to a receipt for the purchase from (four workout DVDs: “From Cankles to Ankles”; “Grace Bagby Kills Cankles”; “Cankles: A Historical Perspective”; and “30 Minute Cankle Workout” — I guess the guy had issues with his lower legs.) A few stray customer records with their full info were scattered amongst the pile, but the far wall of the office (and the office was so small that the wall was not so far away) was lined with floor-to-ceiling filing cabinets, several of which were helpfully labeled “Customer Records.” I pushed aside a pile of festering Chinese take-out boxes and, with some hesitation of what I might find, opened the drawer marked “R-T.”

Apparently, Rob Anise, Grocer, had had some assistant or temp worker who occasionally came through to help out with his filing because instead of a huge mess of papers, stuffed into the filing cabinet at random covered with grease and filth piled on top with more papers and garbage (which is what I had assumed I would find,) the drawer opened with ease upon a neat and orderly collection of files, alphabetized properly. I could have sworn I heard a holy chorus sing a single, sustained note as I slid the drawer open.

I quickly rifled through the files until I came to Stimph’s. Just as easy as pie, I had all the information I needed. He lived, at least until June 30th of 2020 which was the date on the printout, just a few block from the store.

“Told you I could do it, Westy,” I said triumphantly.

“Brains.” Yippie.

I could swear this comment was followed by a sarcastic slow clap.

Word count: 33,923

Went back to pad out the first emergence of Zach from his apartment. Realized that I couldn’t exactly have him go back later to take out Tim Stimph (something I was committed to, certainly, not only because Zach wrote earlier that he did it, and also because of my strong desire to write a Tim Stimph death scene) so between coming to as a zombie and taking the walk up north to meet the Zombie Hunter, Tim Stimph Must Die.

“Brains.” Indeed. Now, should we go find someone to eat?

An idea formed in my head. I was like Dexter. I could go around eating the brains of every asshole that ever did me wrong. No, that’s no good. That’s just a mad dash for revenge. I could go around eating the brains of every asshole that ever did the world wrong. I could be a force of justice. I could be the flaming sword of God’s archangel Gabriel. Right? He was the one that dished out vengeance? I had no idea. It didn’t matter. I had purpose and focus, for the first time in my life. Turning into a Z might have been the best damn thing to ever happen to me.

“Brains.” I’ve been trying to tell you that. Now, who’s first?

I hadn’t a clue where to start. “I bet all the bad guys are already dead or zombified anyway, huh? Probably not a whole lot of serial killers left in the world.”

“Brains.” Just pretend the next living person you see is a serial killer.

“Hah, Westy, it doesn’t work like that. But, you’re my dark passenger. It’s your job to make me kill and my job to focus that into something productive. So, ok. How do we find someone who deserves to die?”

“Brains.” Next person you see. Doesn’t matter if they ‘deserve’ to die or not. Everyone deserves to die. And you deserve to eat.

Westy was good at his job. It was going to be tough to resist that urge to feed. It was pressing in my mind, harder and harder the longer I went without eating. Had to be like Dexter. Find a deserving victim. Find someone who didn’t care about human life, didn’t care about who he hurt, didn’t care about…. I had it.

“Who’s the one person we know of that obviously just doesn’t give a shit about how he affects the rest of the world? Doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions? Goes around just sneezing on people without even apologizing?” I cried out. It was like the Shaft theme song, but far less funky and not about the coolest guy to ever grace the silver screen. Who was it about? It was about “Motherfucking Tim Stimph! That’s who!”

“Brains?” Who?

“Oh you’ll just love this, Westy,” I said with a grin. “He’s the guy who brought you into my life!”

What better way to start my rampage of justice, my righteous murder spree, my saccage tuent-fou as the French say than by taking out the bastard who turned me into this monster in the first place?

“Brains.” It’s been three years. A lot has happened. You won’t find him. Let’s just go get the next person we see. Enough of this nonsense.

“I know you’re just doing your job. I respect the division of labor here, I really do. You’re trying to get me going. And I don’t know why I’m resisting. From what I can tell, I should be just another mindless, killing, eating machine. Hell, that’s pretty much what I was before Stimph sneezed on me. Minus the killing part. I think.”

“Brains.” You’re making things too complicated. Why not just let go? Relax? Everything can be so easy if you just stop struggling.

“Yeah, that’s what they always say about everything. Resisting just makes it worse. Just go towards the light. Everything will be fine. You know what? I’m done with that. I’ve been doing that my whole life, and now that I’m technically dead, it’s time I took a stand. It’s time I made things right. It’s time I killed the prick that made me turn into a zombie!”

“Brains.” Whatever. As long as there’s some killing involved.

Word Count: 32689

The line about the zombie chicken is courtesy of Erica, who has contributed more to this month’s effort than I’ve given credit for in this blog….

Today’s excerpt continues the conversation with the Zombie Hunter.

Ak was lost in thought again. “My family, man, they’re all…”

“…dead? Zombies? What?”

“What? No. They’re all at the Oklahoma City Reanimiated Human Defense Zone Relocation Center. Mom and Dad. Wife. Kids. My cousins, aunts, uncles. Grandma. Yeah, they’re all fine. Got ‘em set up real nice, thanks to the ZH beer people and my Red Bull sponsorship. I saved Senator Pitt’s kids from certain death during a Z outbreak in DC back in ‘16 so he owed me one. They got a big-ass house, nice car, a pool. Everythin’.”

“How come you’re not down there with them?” I asked.

“I’m a Zombie Hunter. Sorry, the Zombie Hunter,” he said. “Zombie Hunter gotta hunt. Never mind the sponsors and the contracts and the TV show, it’s in my blood, son.”

“TV show?” I wondered.

“Hell yeah, son, I got me a TV show. Realest reality show you ever seen. Cameras followin’ me around watchin’ me kill Zs wherever I go. Big hit. ‘Course, God knows how many people got TVs or ‘lectricity such as they can watch anymore.”

I peered out into the night, wondering if I’d missed a camera crew that had been shadowing Ak. This conversation would have been an editor’s nightmare — long, action-free, mostly devoid of plot development or pertinent details. I felt bad for the guy.

“Where’s the camera crew?” I asked.

Ak shook his head again. “That’s something else only God knows, I guess. Lost them a few days ago. Zs came outta nowhere, outta the sewers, outta everywhere. I saw a few of ‘em go down, yeah, did what I could to help, then we got split up in the chaos. Spent the last few days lookin’ round for them, but haven’t had any luck.” He brightened. “Say, you ain’t seen nobody carrying a big-ass stupid camera, running around scared like a zombie chicken with its head cut off, have you?”

“Sorry, Ak, I can’t say that I have.”

“Didn’t think you would have, figured you’d’a mentioned that one already, but figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. Sure hope someone made it. I’d really like to see the footage from that fight. Boy, I pulled some shit that night I thought I was too old to do. Was killin’ Zs with everything I could get my hands on. Killed one Z with a pitchfork. Never held a pitchfork before in my life. No idea what a pitchfork was doin’ in the middle of the suburbs. Just lyin’ there on the side of the road. Pinned that Z to the wall. Got another one with a boom mike. Just grabbed it out of the sound guy’s hands, he’s still holding it out, recording, I don’t know, me gruntin’ and fightin’ and swearin’. I just grabbed it from him, knocked a Zs head clean off with it. Smack. Plop. Dead. Good stuff.”

“Man, I would love to see that. Hope the cameras were still rolling.”

“You and me both, son. That could really make the season right there.” Ak sighed at the thought of lost quality footage. “Anyhow, I interrupted again. You know me long enough you’ll realize that every story you tell, I’ll butt in with my own thoughts each time. Bad habit of mine, I guess. The wife keeps tellin’ me it’s something I gotta work on. I figure only thing a man’s gotta work on these days is keepin’ dead critters from eatin’ his brains.”

I laughed. Westy said, “Brains.”

Word Count: 30219

Not much progress today. As much as the character of a corporate sponsored Zombie Hunter intrigues me, I wasn’t able to write much. Also, I discovered Assassin’s Creed: Revelations multiplayer, and that…well, it was a time sink. Every damned November, all the good games come out and battle with my ability to focus.

There was a silence between the man and me then, as we stared at each other. He still didn’t trust me, for whatever reason. I got the sense that trust didn’t come easily to him. But, as the silence lengthened, a smile crept across his face.

“Ah hell,” he said. He seemed to have made a decision. The gun lowered. He slung it on its strap over his shoulder. “Sorry about all this. The name’s Ak” — he pronounced it “Ock.” He extended his right hand. I lowered mine and shook his.

“Brains!” Now is your chance. Now is your chance. Now is your chance. Westy’s voice was urgent, desperate, and hard to resist. My grip tightened on Ak’s hand. I had a hard time letting go.

“Pleased to meet you, Ak,” I said.

Ak winced. “Hell of a grip you got there.” He grabbed my right hand with his left and pried it loose. “But you’re all skin and bones.” He held my wrist in his hand, his fingers easily encircling it and then some.

“I, uh, I haven’t eaten in a while.”

He let go of my wrist, put his hands on his hips. “Looks like you haven’t eaten in months.” He tilted his head sideways, trying to see past the shadow the brim of my hat cast across my face. “Or years.”

“It’s a medical condition,” I said. It wasn’t entirely untrue, just not the entire truth. “I’m naturally gaunt. Never have to diet, at least.” There was the lie. I tried to change the subject: “You look awfully familiar.”

Even in the dim light I could tell the man was embarrassed. “Yeah, I hear that a lot, but you know, I’m still not used to it. Ever since they put my face on that beer bottle, I got everyone coming up to me all the time, askin’ for autographs, wantin’ to take photos with me, tryin’ to get me to take care of their Z infestation. It’s gettin’ to be so I can’t go out in public anymore.”

“Beer bottle?” I wondered. And then it dawned on me. “Holy shit! You’re the Zombie Hunter!” For it was him, the tattooed, gun-toting man that graced the labels and tap handles of Zombie Hunter beer. “I’m a big fan!”

“Brains!” This man hunts us. This man kills us.

“This man is a fucking living legend!” I said this to Westy, but made as if I was addressing an imaginary crowd so as to not raise suspicion that I was stark raving bonkers.

“Please, I’m just an ordinary guy. I just happen to be really good at killing the undead. Those beer guys really made a big deal out of all that.”

“I love your beer!”

“Yeah, it’s not bad,” he said. “I’m more of a High Life guy myself.”

“Yeah, me too,” I said. I was nearly beside myself. I never got to meet celebrities and now, here I was, just sitting around, shooting the shit with the Zombie Hunter. How cool was that? “I mean, no, I’m like, I’ll drink whatever, you know?”

“Uh, yeah, sure,” Ak said.

More awkward silence fell between us during which time Westy took the opportunity to pipe up.

“Brains.” This is the Zombie Hunter. Do you know what that means? He hunts zombies. We are a zombie. He hunts us.

I had to had it to old Westy; he was really getting the hang of conversational sarcasm.