Happy Friday, y'all!
Today I'm excited to take part in the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour, hosted by the indomitable Armand Rosamilia, who may have the best name EVER. But the tour itself is really cool, too - 30+ zombie writers (though I was too late to hop on the train; maybe I'll get to play next year), visiting 30+ blogs through the month of June. There are giveaways, contests, you name it. If you like zombies, it's really the place to be right now, so definitely go check it out.
Right now I'm happy to introduce to you author Mark Tufo. His Zombie Fallout series never fails to make top ten zombie lists, and I've kept an eye on him from afar for quite some time. He's here with a story of teenage trauma, weed, and pure, dumb luck, that'll set your teeth on edge.
And since I'm normally fairly family-friendly here, though you know I have an affinity for the f-word, I'll go ahead and give a warning: this post is rated R, so if you're offended by the occasional cuss-word, I can only say: sorry!
Welcome Mark, and thanks so much for stopping by!
ZOMBIES!!!! (Armand said this had to be about zombies so I figured I satisfied that requirement with my initial word, plus he won’t read any further than that anyway so I should be safe.)
This is a true story.
It was a dark and stormy night. (No really it was!) The temperature had to be hovering around 40 degrees. Fall in New England was rapidly degenerating to its more blustery cousin Winter. A driving rain, closely resembling ice pellets, sheeted down upon my 1970 Buick Skylark. I had just stopped at my best friend’s house, Dennis, to be called Wags henceforth.
“Hey man want a hit?” I’d no sooner pulled up into his parents driveway when I lit up a joint and took a large drag.
“Dude you do realize you’re still in front of my house right,” he asked as he hopped into the passenger seat.
I was still holding on to my intake as I urged the bone onto him. I put my car in reverse, let go my exhalation, and drove off. Wags just shook his head and took a drag himself. We didn’t say another word as we finished off the mary jane.
“That’s pretty good stuff.” Wags said, playing air drums to Ozzy on my dashboard.
“California Goldies, a hundred and ten an ounce.” (Trust me that was a lot back in the day).
“I would have held my breath longer if I’d known.”
I drove a little further. The rain was beginning to abate even as the wind picked up, and leaves were now dropping down almost as hard as the rain had been. We were still a little early for Beckie Wilson’s party (her name has been changed to protect her identity - her house got so trashed by the party she threw she had to tell her parents that someone had broken in. They didn’t buy it but that was the only way they were going to get the insurance company to cover the damage, but that has nothing to do with this story).
“Want to head to the bluffs? The rain has stopped,” I asked him.
He looked up at the sky. I don’t know what he was hoping to see. It would have been easier to see the bottom of a full inkwell. “Tufo I’m not a fan of your excursions, definitely not while I’m baked. Plus I’ve got my decent clothes on. I don’t want to get all muddy before I go to a party.”
“I didn’t say anything about rolling around in the dirt, but whatever we’ll just sit in the car and talk about school.”
“I’ll take that as a yes, and your ‘decent clothes,’ what the fuck does that mean?”
I pulled off the main road onto a deserted path, which stopped after going into the woods for a hundred feet or so, far enough back that the cops couldn’t see it on an ordinary patrol. From here it was a mile and a half hike up. Maybe five or six hundred feet in elevation, at the very end it got tricky scaling a twenty foot outcropping of ancient sledge, that’s where it got the name the Bluffs. The view though, that was what made it worth it. You could see the distant lights of at least four or five towns. Plus I’d yet to meet a cop who would make that hike just to nab a drinking teen.
I was putting all my paraphernalia into my pockets checking it at least three or four times. I didn’t know what it was called back then but even in my teens I showed signs of OCD, oh the joy to come. When I was confident I had everything I did one more check. I was now kind of wondering myself if I wanted to do this, it was cold and certainly wet, and maybe I was wearing my ‘decent clothes’ too. I was near to telling Dennis that maybe we should just go get some food. I glanced out the windshield, just as my hand grabbed the door handle.
“You see that?”
“See what?” Wags was now looking where I had been.
Whatever it was, had departed. I was left with the after-image of a vague body shaped blue, transparent figure.
“Are we going or not.” His face looked pale under the dome light as he opened the door.
“You alright man?” I asked.
“Huh?” He had quickly exited the car and now stuck his head back in. “Shit man I could say the same about you. You’re as pale as a ghost. Is the weed bad?”
“Fuck no I’ve had it for two days, been nothing but a good time. Must just be the weather.” A severe chill ran up and down my spine. “Maybe we should just go.” Whatever I’d seen was something I could not explain, and I saw no reason to seek out answers to questions I didn’t even know I had yet.
“Tufo, was it blue?” Wags was peering over my hood looking down the path we would need to take that led to the top of the Bluffs.
“We going to check it out?”
I answered with the same two-word sentence I’d used previously. The creature or being, or more likely hallucination, flitted from tree to tree like a giant blue fire-fly. It finally brightened to the point where Wags and I both had to shield our eyes and then immediately it went out like it had spent its energy. This was followed immediately by the distant sound of multiple tires screeching violently and then the heavy impact of metal on metal and it was continuous like a vengeful Thor was taking out all his frustrations on a used car parking lot for having sold him a lemon.
Dennis and I hadn’t moved as we listened to impact upon impact. It was the thunderous explosion that got us moving.
“What was that?” Wags asked.
He didn’t clarify whether he was asking about the accident or the apparition, for that was what I was convinced it was.
“Let’s get to the top of the Bluffs we’ll probably be able to see what happened.”
We made that mile in pretty decent time considering we didn’t have much ambient light to work with and the weed had performed its job admirably.
“Holy shit.” Wags said. Having made the rock climb first, he was looking off to the east (honestly I have no idea which direction he was looking but I figured I’d pretend to know).
“Fuck me.” I was now looking where he was. The tangled wreckage was about two miles up the road from where we had parked, at least half of the cars involved in the accident were on fire, the rest soon would be. We could see and hear the approach of multiple rescue vehicles.
I was doing the math in my head, had we not pulled off for the Bluffs and not gone chasing whatever spirit we’d encountered there was a good chance we would have been in that cluster-fuck that raged below us. Was the paleness we had seen on each other’s features a portending of an event we had been allowed to avoid? Was the specter sent to further entice us away from death’s cold embrace? Listen, I don’t fucking know, I ask the same questions I do now as I did thirty years ago.
We would later learn that five cars had piled up when a seventy year old man lost control on a patch of roadway strewn with wet leaves. Every New Englander knows that leaves in enough abundance are as dangerous as black ice. Two cars had plowed into him from behind, and three that were coming in the opposite direction it was that third vehicle a chemical truck carrying ethanol that had sealed all of their fates. It had slid sideways before finally dropping onto its side, a weak weld in the tank had broken under the abnormal pressures exerted on it and had coated the entire scene in a fiery phosphorescence that burned in an unearthly blue much like our guide.
The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.
Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don't miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie