The breeze whistled softly through the broken window. In a lonesome, uncaring way, it played along the edges of papers and leaves that its more violent cousins had swept into corners or under the rows of school desks that filled the classroom. Rambunctious in its innocence, it tousled through the room’s scattered hopes and the dreams they had ensnared, and went off down the gray hallway and into other vacant rooms as though racing the footsteps of morning’s light.
At the entrance to the building, the zephyr gathered strength, drove itself, defiant and free, through the unclosed double doors, and out, out, out, over a schoolyard choked with weeds, with grass no mower would ever touch, with rusting swing-sets, with unused toys… and with the undead.
For they were there.
Shambling about in their thoughtless way, their eyes vacant pools containing a mystery no sane person could ever plumb, these human shells moved through the debris of their former lives like sleepwalkers that would never wake. They were all ages, all sexes, and of all different body sizes. The smallest, a petite redheaded girl of around two years of age, staggered aimlessly along with the rest, her chin hanging slack and useless over the torn stem of her neck. Beneath this, covering the cold flesh of her torso, were the rags of a bloodstained summer dress that roughly one year ago, before the rising of the dead, had been new.
Had she been living, she would have been a cute kid. So went Virgil’s thoughts as he, along with two other people, lay studying the undead from the shade of a wood line, one hundred yards distant, where the land rose slightly to form a natural observation platform. The heavily muscled man and his compatriots wore military helmets and were dressed in loose, green, camouflage clothing worn over a tighter fitting layer of leather that encased their bodies from neck to foot. The camouflage was needed to help shield them from sight, and the leather was needed to help shield them from the infectious bites of the undead, bites that would, in a matter of minutes, turn any living person into one of the aforementioned undead.
Virgil kept the little girl in the telescopic sights of his MP5SD sub-machine gun. From there, she looked different… better. She was a target. Not someone’s little girl. Not a precious little thing that someone had held, rocked, sung to, and played with, whose hair smelled like peaches and whose smile could turn the day bright and new. None of that. Through the hard, round tube she was a thing. Or at least it made it easier to see her that way. It helped him to do what he had to do.
He flicked the safety off.
His finger squeezed the trigger… gently, gently.
For some reason, she stopped, and turned her back to him. The breeze caught her shining hair and lifted it slightly, her back and arms were smooth and white like marble in the sun.
Don’t think about it, don’t think about it, don’t…
Pause the next breath…
With a suppressed hissing punch, the 9mm hollow point round burst from the barrel of the weapon and struck the girl’s skull a quarter of a second later. There was an explosion of blood and brain matter, skull and hair, and without another sound, she returned to the earth where she belonged.
After the catastrophic events of a year ago when the dead rose and the living were annihilated, humans left are surviving in various sized pickets. One such pocket occupies an army base where soldier and trained civilisations work together to stay alive, but the force of the undead threatens and it won’t be long before they will have no choice but to deal with the source of the problem.
I don’t actively seek out dystopian/zombie thrillers, even though I have enjoyed some very well written ones in the past and The Warring Dead was no different. Despite being the second book in a series I found it easy to pick up and get into the action. The rules of zombidom being very clear. However, this book takes the story a step further and we gain some insight into the origins of zombification in this story.
The chapters are arranged chronologically and the story told from the view point of various characters, good and bad, the book ends with more questions and I look forward to catching the next instalment when it is available. I particularly enjoyed reading and learning new words like demesne, morass, malocchio, which made this horror thriller all the more rewarding to read and signified the skill of a great author.
This book and its prequel, The Zombie Axiom (In the Time of the Dead Book 1)are available to read for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
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About The Author: David Monette
David Monette was born and raised in the cold rural hinterlands of upstate New York. As a typical kid in a typical community, life for him was pretty… typical. He liked to draw creatures and contraptions but as the second born of four sons, such ability was merely a convenient way of standing out from the crowd. As he inexpertly stumbled through high school, his talent for capturing the images in his head onto paper was noticed and encouraged by both teachers and family members.
Without any other idea of what to do with himself after graduation, besides a vague idea of doing something art oriented, he decided to attend Mohawk Valley Community College where he received his associate’s degree in Advertising Design and Production. Acting on excellent advice from his teachers at this institution, he went on to Syracuse University where he learned a great deal about art and eventually wound up with a bachelor’s degree in Illustration.
With a disturbingly large amount of student debt and a decent portfolio, he learned what it was to be a starving artist. Namely, he found that artists don’t starve; they simply pick up an endless series of part time work to pay the rent while continuing to plug away at their true passion. This was essentially what he did until he received his first illustration job and from that point on, he didn’t look back. As an illustrator, his highly detailed fantasy and science fiction work has appeared in many books, magazines, board games, and collectible card games for such varied publishers as Dell Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, and Atlas Games. Initially, he had completed these diverse projects utilizing oil and acrylic paints as well as pen and inks.
As digital technology continued to improve, however, he decided it was time to tackle the arduous task of mastering the computer and eventually figured out a way to adapt his style to a digital format. With this knowledge and experience, he went back to school and received his master’s degree in Illustration from the University of Hartford. While there, his instructors reviewed his written work and had strongly suggested that he combine his writing ability with his talent as an illustrator to chart his own path.
And at the end of this arc, an author was born.