It’s almost Halloween so I thought I’d post an excerpt from my latest book, Serial Killer Z. It has zombies, knives, lots of blood, and a serial killer.
The dead man lunged across the road toward me, too-white teeth clacking as they chewed at imaginary flesh. Its eyes were sharklike black orbs, and they tracked me as I moved. Its right foot had been crushed and was dragging behind the zombie, slowing it down. Rancid breath laced with the smell of carrion and blood washed over my face and caught in my throat.
Backing away, I swung my knife at the creature’s face. The blade swept across its forehead and sliced through the gray flesh. Thick black blood ran from the wound and spattered the ground at my feet. With its eyes locked on mine, the zombie took another lumbering step. My knife’s handle was slick with sweat. It felt like I was trying to hold on to a fish. One wrong move, and it might break free, leaving me defenseless.
The zombie shuffled forward, clawed fingers grasping at my face. The air was thick with the smell of decay. I attacked with the knife again, an upward sweep that caught the creature’s left hand and carved a deep slash in its palm. More blood sprayed across the road.
I looked past the zombie’s shoulder toward the truck it had come from. My backpack was lying where I’d dropped it, beside the driver’s door. It was almost empty. What little food I had was close to running out, but that bag held something far more precious. The one thing I couldn’t leave behind.
A shape moved inside the truck, and another zombie reared its rotting head. It pressed its face against the glass. I groaned. Behind me, something echoed the sound.
I spun around, just in time to see another zombie reach for me—a woman dressed in jeans and an orange-and-yellow safety vest. I twisted sideways, but the creature’s hands caught my shoulder. Its fingers clamped down, sinking into my flesh. A burst of pain shot down my arm. The knife slipped free and fell to the ground. Bright lights flashed across my vision.
Twisting, I wrenched my shoulder out of the female zombie’s grip. The movement triggered another wave of pain. I kicked and caught its knee. There was a meaty crack as bone shattered. The joint bent sideways, and the zombie crumpled to the ground. I kicked again, this time aiming for its head. My boot caught it square on, eliciting another satisfying crack. The zombie went limp.
The first zombie reached for me. I dodged backward and retreated over the fallen woman. The zombie let out a low moan and took a couple of steps toward me. One of its feet landed on the woman’s hand, and for one glorious moment, I thought it was going to fall. But it regained its balance.
My knife was lying on the ground a few feet away, half covered by the grass at the roadside. Not taking my eyes off the advancing zombie, I moved toward the knife. The creature let out a strangled moan. A thin trickle of gray fluid oozed from the side of its mouth.
My foot tapped against the knife. The zombie lunged again. I crouched and grabbed at the weapon. My hand found grass.
The zombie fell on me and knocked me over. I brought my arm up, wedging it across the creature’s throat as it bore down on me. Turning my head to one side, I pushed up. The creature groaned again, and something wet and viscous spattered against my cheek. Rotten air washed over me, hot and vile. Teeth snapped at my face. I pushed again, forcing the zombie up and away as I searched blindly for the knife. My fingers brushed against something cold and hard. I grabbed it, praying it was the knife.
I swung, aiming for the side of the creature’s head. Bone cracked as the knife blade sank into the zombie’s neck, just below its ear. Black blood poured over my hand as I drove the knife deeper, twisting as I went. The zombie made a wet, gargling sound. I rolled sideways, sliding free, then rammed the knife harder into the thing’s skull. It twitched and shook, legs bouncing against the asphalt. I pulled out the knife and scrambled away. The creature let out one last grunt, short and sharp, and was still.
I pushed myself to my feet and stood over the fallen zombies. I was shaking. It wasn’t that I hadn’t killed before. For their transgressions, the guilty had paid the price at my hand many times, but it was always under my terms. I was the one who chose the time and the place. It was a very different thing to be on a deserted highway, fighting for your life against the living dead.
The shadow that lives inside of me came forward. It flowed through me like smoke, suffusing my body and wiping away my everyday self. That shadow has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. It gives me a unique perspective on the world and allows me to see people for what they truly are. But succumbing to the shadow leaves me exposed, vulnerable. It takes over completely, drowning my senses and opening me up to whatever dangers lurk nearby. Before the outbreak, that meant the police. Now the living dead are the biggest threat.
The shadow tightened its grip on me. The world retreated until it was as though the zombies and I were the only things in existence. My senses sharpened. The dark blood seeping into the ground became a lightless cavern. The lines on the man’s face became fissures so deep I could almost feel myself falling into them. A smudge of dirt on the woman’s cheek was an island floating in a sea of gray.
And then the shadow pulled back.
I could feel its disappointment as it burrowed deep inside me. The kills were necessary, but they’d also been quick and clumsy. The shadow expected more. It needed more. I took four deep breaths. The shadow would have to wait.
I rubbed my gore-soaked hands across the grass and willed them to stop shaking. Eventually, they did, and I returned my attention to the truck. It lay at an awkward angle with the left side tilted down to the ground. The front left tire had been removed and was now lying in a nearby ditch. The remains of a jack were scattered across the road. A dark streak swept along the truck’s body as though some demented painter had splashed a can of rust-brown paint across it. Its front left corner was crumpled. A scrap of blue cloth hung from the corner of the fender.
I checked the trees behind me for signs of life then cautiously crossed the road.
For a limited time, I’m giving away a free copy of the prequel to the series, Serial Killer Z: Infection. To get your copy, just sign up to my mailing list by clicking here.