Special: Beyond Survival

Posted: February 15, 2016 in Apocalypse, books, contests, creative writing, drama, Free Online Novel, free zombie books, Giveaways, Horror, horror fiction, Interviews/Reviews, killing zombies, living dead, monsters, mystery, novels, serial novels, Survival, suspense, thriller, Uncategorized, walking dead, writer's blogs, zombie books, Zombies
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dark man

~~~

What I find most appealing about writing apocalyptic horror fiction is discovering what my cast of characters will do when faced with extreme circumstances, and finding out how survivors deal with one another in a world no longer fit for the living. I find myself struggling vicariously through them as these characters come to life on the pages and drag me along on a life-or-death rollercoaster of decisions, loaded with consequences.

In my book series, Don’t Feed The Dark, a virus known only as The Change, strikes randomly, turning roughly one in every five people into flesh-craving maniacs. Survivors do not understand how they were spared while so many were not, including loved ones, neighbors… the person sitting next to you. Over time, strangers forced to fight together for survival must face more than the living dead, they must face the monsters within themselves and find out what kind of people they truly are. Which brings about all sorts of interesting questions to explore:

Is it enough to simply survive… and at what cost is that survival worth? How much of our humanity must we give up in order to preserve our fragile claim on the human race? When the hard choices are presented, what can we live with at the end of the day to ward off the phantoms of guilt which rise up in the night to devour our sleep-deprived souls?

I suspect that we may never really know the answers to these questions until we are forced to face a real zombie epidemic. At best, we can speculate, based on our present beliefs and perceptions of ourselves. I am sure we would all love to say we would do the noble or decent thing in all circumstances. However, when we are forced into survival mode, what would we really do to save our own skins and the people we care about?

Bottom line: What decisions can we live with long after the dead have moved on to easier prey, leaving us alone to face the implications of those decisions?

The following scenarios are intended to explore difficult circumstances we might face in a zombie apocalypse and find out what we would do. Survival is a brutal affair, especially after the rules of normal living have been slaughtered in the streets on Day One. There are no longer right or wrong answers, only survival and the loads we must bear to continue to stay alive. In the end, the dead cannot judge the living… or can they?

Scenario #1:

You have had one hell of an exhausting work week. When Friday finally arrives, all you want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a hundred years. Fortunately, your oldest son, Michael, is home from college for the weekend and has offered to entertain his younger siblings: Jessica, age nine, and Marcus, age five. After making plans for the following morning, you slither into bed early and refuse to set the alarm clock. By 11:30 pm your spouse has crawled into bed next to you. He or she mentions something about a strange News report talking about increased violence around town which you acknowledge with a sluggish grunt and then quickly fall back to sleep.

Four hours later, you wake abruptly to Jessica’s high-pitched screams coming from somewhere in the house. You hear what sounds like a bar-room brawl in progress in your living room as furniture is overturned and glass breaks. You look over and discover that your spouse is missing. Something terrible is happening. You immediately believe someone has broken into your home as you quickly retrieve your handgun from your gun safe in the closet. You exit the bedroom and rush toward the living room. The only light is coming from the snow displayed on your television. You discover a tall intruder hovering over your spouse who is scrambling to get into the closest corner while trying to shield your daughter from a maniac.

You yell at the intruder and point the gun at him. Something monstrous turns toward you and howls as you get a good look into its fierce yellow eyes boring into your flesh. Your blood turns to ice as recognition sets in.

It’s your oldest boy, Michael!

And then your spouse yells something strange:

“Shoot him! It’s not Michael… not after what he did!”

You then become aware of two things with dreadful clarity: You have no idea where your youngest boy is… and this thing resembling your oldest, has blood dripping from its mouth.

What would you do?

~~~

Scenario #2:

You are on the run for your life in a busy metropolitan area. The dead are everywhere. You somehow manage to escape notice long enough to reach a five-story apartment complex. You are exhausted and it is getting dark fast. You decide to hide out in the top floor of the complex for the night, hoping you can getter a better view of your situation from up above. You find an unlocked and unoccupied apartment with an emergency fire escape down into an adjacent alley. Good enough.

While foraging for supplies, you hear movement from behind a closed bedroom door. You swear at yourself for forgetting to check the room. You approach the door and slowly open it. Inside is an elderly woman lying in what looks like a hospital bed. She is hooked up to a complex machine with tubes running into various places on her body.

The woman turns to you and pleads in a weak voice, “Thank God. My nurse left me all alone and I can’t get a hold of anyone to help me.”

Before you can respond, you hear screams coming from just outside the apartment and down the hall. The dead have made their way into the building and are heading in your direction.

“Please… please… don’t leave me like this!” the old woman begs.

You have five minutes before the dead discover you… maybe less. You still have time to make it down the fire escape if you leave right now.

What would you do?

~~~

Scenario #3:

After a grueling escape from the initial panic that has swept through your town, you and a small group of survivors manage to make it to a rural area and away from the hordes of the undead which have hunted you. It has been four days since the initial outbreak when your group discovers a small out-of-the-way grocery store with a large apartment above it. The place seems secure and loaded with essential food stores your group needs. Since you are responsible for making some critical decisions that have resulted in your escape, everyone looks to you for decisions. You make the grocery store your group’s temporary haven while figuring out the next move.

Meanwhile, a middle-aged man, who has been nothing but confrontational and has put the group at risk on several occasions, has been caught hording supplies from the group. He is detained, and brought to your attention. This man has rubbed everyone the wrong way several times and has often threatened the group in fits of rage, promising to leave and return to kill everyone in their sleep. The man curses the day you were born, believing that you had no right becoming this group’s leader and that he should be calling the shots.

The rest of the group has had enough. Some believe he is dangerous and that he will follow through with his threats if he is simply kicked out of the group. Others think that he is just taking out his emotional grief on the group and that he will calm down now that they are safe. Regardless, they want something done about this crazy person and they all look to you for a solution.

What would you do?

~~~

Scenario #4:

You and your spouse are pursued relentlessly by a horde of the undead. You both manage to make it into a house, lock the doors, and hunker down while the monsters move through the neighborhood. You both believe you are safe as it seems that the horde is moving on and that you have escaped notice.

Suddenly, a baby begins to cry out from another room.

By the time you both reach the child, who is left helpless and alone in a crib, the dead have also heard the child and are now approaching the house.

You both hear the sound of shattered glass from another room. When you reach the location you discover a bedroom. The dead are beginning to breach a broken window. You both struggle to move furniture in an attempt to block the window.

Just then, you both hear the sound of another broken window coming from the baby’s room.

“I’ve got this. Save the baby!” your spouse screams.

You frantically race back toward the baby’s room in time to see the first monster breaching the window.

Before you can react, your spouse screams, “Help me! They’re inside! I can’t get out!”

You have time to save the baby. You have time to help your spouse. But you don’t have time to do both.

What would you do?

~~~

Yes… these circumstances suck. Each decision we make has many possible outcomes and their own set of consequences, short or long term. In all of these scenarios, no one gets to be the hero. The apocalypse is not suited for heroes. Heroes die… and then come back.

So whether you choose to tackle all these scenarios or pass on a couple (I don’t blame you) tell me what you think you might do and share your reasoning behind it. I would love to have an open discussion about the tough choices we may be forced to make during a zombie apocalypse.

~~~

Note: This discussion was originally posted as part of zOctober 2015 hosted by Tony Lesatz over at My Book Addiction. There was such an active discussion going on there that I thought it would be cool to continue it here, and find out what more of you thought on these tough scenarios.

~~~

Haven’t read Don’t Feed The Dark yet? You can start reading the serialized version for free by clicking HERE.

You can also read the first three books of the series in paperback. Click HERE to find out more.

~~~

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