09: Excitement!

I finally got a few minutes to update. First of all, we’re all still OK, although a couple of people have minor wounds. We have them . . . segregated. Just in case. The Inn is pretty defensible once we boarded up the doors and windows.

There was an attack last night while I was asleep. The screaming and gunshots woke me up, and I grabbed the axe and ran down the stairs to the first floor to find a scene out of pretty much every zombie movie you’ve ever seen. They were trying to get in the doors and windows. Luckily, we had them barricaded.

Some of the zombies had on military uniforms. So much for ‘airborne,’ I guess. The gas masks didn’t do them any good unless they had it before–Focus.

The military ones had weapons, but they weren’t using them. I guess whatever is causing this is affecting their ability to reason. They just . . . blindly attack anything that moves.

The zombies seem to prefer group attacks and darkness. Over the radio, we heard something about strong light seeming to hurt them. We’ve rigged up a few bright floodlights outside some of the upper-floor rooms. It seemed to help at least some.

They whip each other into a frenzy. One of our guys got scratched pretty bad when a zombie broke through one of the windows and managed to claw him, but a couple of us managed to hack the arm off the zombie with our axes.

These zombies aren’t movie zombies, though. They have blood. A lot of blood. A startling amount of blood. I didn’t faint. I didn’t throw up. But it was a close thing. I had to sit down with my head between my knees, and I don’t think I will EVER feel clean again. I can still feel it on me. All thick and hot and . . . GAH. The arm we hacked had a tattoo on it. “Mom.” Jesus. And the zombies just keep going. You can hack off limbs and they just keep coming until they lose enough blood that their hearts stop. But all the way to the end, they’re reaching . . . If it weren’t so horrifying, it would be hysterical, like that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “It’s only a flesh wound!”

We’ve made it through the night, at least. Only a couple of waves of zombies managed to get through. I’m going to go help them re-board up the places they broke through, now. I’ll probably end up helping get rid of bodies and body parts, too.

We don’t know how long this will last, but if we have to, we’ll scavenge for lumber and better weaponry. It’s everyone for himself, now. Although there is safety—at least MORE safety—in numbers.

Don’t know how much I’ll be able to keep updating. You’re watching the TV if you have power, and listening the radio if you have batteries, just like we are, and so you’ll know at the same time we do.

Crap! Power just died. Need to submit this now before the backups all die. I’ll be back. I have to believe that.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


08: Finally!

Finally made it to the hotel. I’m on my laptop again. The Inn has power, but who knows how long it will last? Someone said the Inn might have a generator, but we can’t count on it. I’m charging everything chargeable while I can. At least I can tell my previous posts made it . . . if not always at the time I thought they would.

Miraculously, all the Viable Paradise participants made it here. Most before things got so bad. Someone quipped, “I’m not letting something trivial like the end of civilization stop me from attending.” We all needed the laugh.

The whole island is now quarantined. No traffic in or out until further notice. So for good or ill, I’m stuck here. Might as well make the best of it.

Things are not as bad here as on the mainland. Not sure why. The media seems to think that the infection—whatever it is—can only travel so far. Maybe salt water kills it? Day of the Triffids, anyone?

According to the Inn staff, there haven’t been many incidents, here. Everyone pretty much holed up at home as soon as the reports started coming in. The nasty weather doesn’t hurt. Cold and rainy isn’t encouraging for outdoor activities or congregating. The only thing moving are military vehicles that came over on the ferry, which is now grounded. Every once in a while, we hear gunshots. We all just look at one another. What can we do? Not a damned thing, that’s what. Some of the Inn staff is armed.

I only hope none of us have been exposed. No one knows the gestation of this thing or how it passes. Newest reports—as you’ve no doubt heard—put the infection rate at upwards of 30%. So far it’s 100% fatal, but mostly because the zombies have a tendency to take stupid risks that end up getting them killed, or getting shot by either the military or police or heavily armed citizenry. Our group here defies those odds. So far, at least.

I wasn’t able to get through to my mother, yet, because she doesn’t have a decent phone, but I did get a SMS message from my housemate. She’s still alive, and she has joined some of our other friends at their better-defendable house. The cats . . . I don’t know. She had to leave them at the house. Poor Lucy and Zena. I hope they’ll be OK. She put plenty of food out for them both.

We plan to sleep in shifts and take four-hour watches, with teams of at least two looking in every direction. One armed person per team. I last fired a gun when I was eight, so…I’ll be the “other one.” They gave the “other ones” axes, hatchets, baseball bats, 2 x 4s, metal pipes…whatever was on hand. I have a nice hefty axe. I intend to sleep with it.

I’m exhausted. We all are. Gonna get what sleep I can now. More later, if everything comes out OK.

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


02: Does Anyone Know What’s Going On?

Jesus. I’m shaking. Something weird is going on.

There are a bunch of us sitting, huddled in little groups, typing on laptops or iPads or phones, or talking in hushed tones to each other in the waiting area of gate C-10. You know that annoying Airport TV channel they normally have going (at least in the Atlanta airport)? It’s not going. The place is so quiet it’s like the inside of a tomb. It’s just plain eerie. I can hear a baby crying several gates farther up the concourse. Every time they make an announcement over the PA, I jump. Everyone stops what they’re doing and holds their breath. They’re not even aware they’re doing it, if they’re anything like me. The tension is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. (Overused cliché; bad writer.) And there are a lot fewer people here than there would normally be. For Hartsfield-Jackson, this is practically deserted.

The wi-fi is spotty, so I don’t even know if this is going to post, but I’ll try anyway. Seems kind of silly, but writing calms my nerves.

I said last night that the drive in should be uneventful what with no one being on the roads this early. What I didn’t count on was that it would take me nearly twice as long to drive in.

There were a bunch of roadblocks. Looked like several exits were blocked off by emergency vehicles. Maybe even the army or national guard. Hard to tell in the dark, and there’s thick fog in patches to boot. So even what little traffic there was was backed up pretty bad at each of those exits. I kept having to lane shift and weave in and out, which I hate when other people do it. Of course on the one day I have to be somewhere by a certain time this would happen. I just want to get to my writers workshop!

My mother would tell me the entire world doesn’t exist for my convenience right about now, and to have patience. But she’s already on her vacation up in rural Arkansas. I’d call, but it’s too early, there.

Tried to call home to let my housemate know what’s up, but I can’t raise her on her cell. Keep getting that ‘circuits are busy’ message. Fuck.

Anyway, what has me shaking:

There was this wreck on I-85 south. Looked like an 18-wheeler hit several sedans. Thing was, there was no one around. The truck and smashed-up cars were there, hazards and lights on, and there were several ambulances with lights flashing, the back doors all hanging open. Well, more like ripped open. Just sitting there off the side of the road. Two police cars, their lights strobing, as well. Also empty. Sitting with doors ripped open. Broken glass was everywhere.

Passing cars were giving them a wide berth, but at about 10 mph, as usual in Atlanta. If you see a flashing light, you have to slow down no matter how fast you’re going — and I’m going off on a tangent. Focus, Gary, focus. I finally creeped past and saw a white sheet on the ground, stuck under one of the wheels of the ambulance and flapping in the breeze. It was hard to tell in the flashing lights while I was trying to pay attention to the road, but . . . it looked like it had a big blood stain on it.

Creepy. Just fucking creepy. I normally listen to podcasts while driving to keep me sane, but I turned them off and tried to find something on the radio. Bunch of confusion, is what it sounded like. The normal music, but some strange news reports. Seems like there’s stuff going on all around Atlanta, but no one would just fucking come out and say what it was. Lots of speculation about terrorists, insurrection, invasion, FEMA . . . I had to quit listening when some of the more outlandish crap started to sound reasonable. This is why I hate talk radio.

And speaking of road blocks, wow. I thought I was going to have to give blood and urine samples just to get into the airport. They kept shining lights in my eyes and asking dumb questions like I’m some sort of criminal.

I tried asking what was going on once I got into the airport, but they weren’t talking either, although all the security people and gate employees were clustered in little groups, talking quietly, and looking worried. I’m guessing they don’t know any more than any of us do.

And there were helicopters darting everywhere. I can’t help but wonder if this is related to what went on in my neighborhood this morning.

I just hope there’s not some awful disease. Maybe those armored vehicles were the CDC.

[Edit: I had to pause because I got interrupted.]

I was talking with some other people in the waiting area. They saw some similar stuff on their way in, and they came in from other directions: both up and down 75, south on 85, and both east and west on 20.

Whatever the hell this is it’s

Boarding! Putting up laptop.

The CDC would shut it all down if it were a disease, right?

I’m glad I’ll be away from all this, but I would kind of like to know what’s going on.


Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


01: Ugh. Of Course.

Went to bed early, as I said in my last post. Woke up about a half hour ago because of sirens in the neighborhood and a helicopter flying fairly low over the subdivision with a damned spotlight brighter than the sun. Feh. Woke my housemate, too. We went out on the front lawn to see what we could find out, but it’s all down the street, and I’m barefoot and in pajamas. Some of the neighbors tried to walk deeper into the subdivision, but cops yelled at them to go back inside.

While I was out there, I thought I heard a gunshot, but . . . it’s hard to tell, really. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard one close up except for one I fired myself, and that was quite noisy. And forty years ago.

I decided I do not need to be wherever there are (potential) gunshots. Cowardly? Incurious? Maybe. But alive and not underfoot, impeding whatever investigation might be going on.

Of course, the neighbors picked the one night I’d like to get a full night’s sleep to decide to go from quiet and unbothersome to . . . whatever this turns out to be. I hope I don’t see it on one of my mother’s favorite “Killers Among Us” type shows on ID. Maybe I could be that guy who always says, “They seemed so nice. Always quiet. Helped me unload a new fridge from my pickup that one time. I never would have dreamed he had buried bodies in his basement.”

Yeah. Or not.

As I was typing this, things seem to have died down a bit, although there seems to be a lot more people milling about than one would expect from a simple murder. Assuming it was simple. And a murder. And how many helicopters does one crime scene need, anyway? There are at least two, possibly more.

Another weird thing: One of the vehicles that drove by looked armored. I wonder what that’s about? I’d go check, but . . . I have more important things to concern myself with. I’m sure someone in the neighborhood will explain it once I’m back from Viable Paradise. Maybe they’ll put it in the neighborhood newsletter.

Dammit. Might as well stay up, now, even though I’ll be a zombie all day with only five and a half hours of sleep. I’m yawning so hard it feels like I’m going to inhale my monitor. Feh. I was going to get up at 5:30. I’ll probably not post again until I’m at the hotel up in Martha’s Vineyard. Maybe I can sleep on the plane, assuming I don’t sit next to a Chatty Kathy or within two rows of a kid.

The shower calls. And apparently breakfast, if the smell of biscuits means anything.


Zombie Apocalypse 2012

Zombie Apocalypse 2012

This post is part of Zombie Apocalypse 2012, a multi-blog fictional account of a zombie uprising. (The previous post was part of the preamble). Stay tuned for more posts!

You may also follow the button link to read other equally fictional Zombie Apocalypse 2012 blog entries by other writers, or join in and tell your own zombie apocalypse stories!


Prologue: Viable Paradise Week

Viable Paradise

I’m forcing myself to go to bed as soon as I post this, even though I’m not the least bit sleepy, and probably too excited to sleep. Tomorrow is the Big Day™. I’ll get on a plane in the morning and fly to Boston, then bus to Woods Hole, then ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard for Viable Paradise. Can. Not. Wait.

I just hope I’ll sleep. The plane leaves at WayTooFreakingEarly:30, which means I have to get up at some unbelievable hour that I’ve heard tell of, but can’t recall seeing with my own eyes, just so I can get to the airport two hours before the flight because of TSA. I’ve checked my itinerary and the ferry schedule about 300 times since this morning, convinced it’ll change before my eyes and say something else this time. I was . . . not exactly present, mentally, at work.

At least the drive down to the airport will be easy at that hour. The only people up will be vampires and milkmen, one of which is mythical. And I think it’s milkmen.

Anyhoo, enough procrastination. Bed!

Wondering what the “Prologue:” is about? Stay tuned! All will become clear, soon. </cryptic>


Impostor Syndrome

Imposter by umisef, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  umisef 

Do y’all know what Impostor Syndrome is? In a nutshell, it’s the feeling that, at any minute, something will happen to take something away from you that you thought was too good to be true. The feeling, deep down, that you don’t truly deserve it, and it must be some sort of cruel error.

I keep expecting to get email or a phone call from Viable Paradise saying, “We made a really huge error and contacted you instead of the person with the actual talent, so never mind.”

Yes, it’s silly. But it’s no less true. It’s the same feeling a lot of people get as graduation day approaches. They expect someone to rush on stage during their graduation ceremony and shout, “Wait! S/He didn’t earn that diploma! S/He neglected to take Underwater Tiddlywinks and his/her entire four years of college is now wasted!”

Yes, I fully expected it all through my graduation from the University of Alabama. I was, frankly, stunned when they handed me my diploma and didn’t immediately snatch it back.

In other news, I loathe my brain. This week can’t be done soon enough for me. Once I’m at VP, maybe Imposter Syndrome will go away.

Suggested soundtrack: Carly Simon’s “Anticipation.” The Who’s “Who Are You?”


We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Shelf

new age occult

When I was accepted to Viable Paradise, one of the many pieces of information available to us was a list of suggested reading recommended by the instructors. Unsurprisingly, the instructors’ own works featured prominently on this list.1 Now, I knew who all of them are, but I had only ever read anything by Elizabeth Bear and Steven Gould before.

I quickly bought one of each instructors’ works for my Kindle. Or two in a couple of cases. I tried to pick first books in series or standalone novels when possible. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if I walked into, for instance, Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy shoots the sword master with his gun, in no way could I make sense of the movie. I feel the same way about book series. Don’t ask me to start reading at book 5 and try to make sense of what’s going on. I need context.

You probably already know what happened based on the title of this post. There isn’t one dud in the lot. I have thoroughly enjoyed every single thing I’ve read, including the book of essays. Most of these are books I wouldn’t have given a second look at in the book store. Not because the cover art isn’t eye-catching or the authors not well-known enough or the blurb ineffective.

Because I simply have so many books on my to-read shelf that it groans audibly when I come into my library (read: my third guest bedroom) with new, unread books. I have three seven-foot sets of book shelves on one side of the room, piled floor to ceiling with books. The middle shelves of all three are loaded with the books on my "to-read" list. Those are also stuffed. Across the room, I have another tall shelf also stuffed with books (mostly hardback), many of them also unread. In my bedroom is another, small (only three feet tall) metal shelf stacked high with all unread books. In the office where I sit typing this post is another shelf, this one stacked with unread professional books (books on programming and the like; not all that fun to read).

And then there’s Kindle. I could write a whole post on that subject by itself.

With all those unread books calling out to me, I find it hard to convince myself to pick up books by unknown (to me) authors. But in this case, I was motivated by something else.

And now, I have to continue reading these new(-to-me) series, as well, because I have to know what happens.

Yep. I’m gonna need a bigger shelf. Or two. Or maybe three . . .

  1. This is not a conceit. If we’re going to receive instruction on how to make our own writing better from a group of professional writers and editors, it makes sense to have sampled their work so we know if we even like that instructor’s style. Maybe someone finds out that they can’t stand an instructor’s style, and they know to weigh what that instructor says differently than the advice of someone whose style they do like.



Viable Paradise

Viable Paradise

That sound some of you may have heard at approximately 9 AM, EDT, on Monday, 18 June, 2012, was me squeeing. Because of the following email:

Dear Gary,

On behalf of the staff and the instructors, I’d like to welcome you as a student to Viable Paradise, and say congratulations!

This email is an email confirmation of your acceptance to the 2012 Viable Paradise Writers Workshop, aka VP 16/XVI.

The workshop dates for 2012 are Sunday, October 7th to Friday, October 12th, 2012. The workshop is being held at The Island Inn, Oak Bluffs, MA on Martha’s Vineyard.

<snippety-snip a bunch of stuff about tuition, hotel arrangements, contact information, etc.>

Please wait until June 20th to disclose your application status publicly.

As a courtesy to people on the waitlist, if you decide that you cannot make it to Viable Paradise after all, please let us know as soon as possible.

Yeah, so I’ve been sitting on this for two days. :) If you’ve sensed a ton of pent-up excitement in me but haven’t known why, now you know why. If I’ve been a bit absent on Facebook, this is why.

<chanting sing-song> I’M goin’ to VEE PEE, I’M goin’ to VEE PEE, I’M goin’ to VEE PEE . . . ad nauseam</chanting sing-song>

I have from now until October 7th to read at least one book / other publication by each of the instructors. I already ordered Kindle editions of at least one per instructor. I will start them as soon as I’m done with at least two of my current reading list. (A few days, at most.)

There are twenty-four new students. So far, eighteen of us have checked in on the VP forums and made ourselves known, and are being welcomed warmly (and teased; I want to know what’s so special about <dun dun DUNNNNNNN!> Thursday night) by past participants and an instructor or two. We appear to come from as far away as the west coast (of both Canada and the US), Texas, and Georgia. :) And we’re also getting some good advice about flying into Boston or Providence and taking a bus to a ferry to get to the island . . . If there were bikes, rickshaws, and dogsleds involved, we could cover all forms of transportation. :)

So. I’ve already sent in my tuition check. I’m waiting to see if I can share a townhouse with some other students before I make reservations at the hotel. Flights will be cheaper in a couple of months, so I’ll wait to do that.

Oh, and one last thing: Wheeeeeee!

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