It’s funny how long
it took me to realize
that my wee book
is not really about zombies.
It’s a metaphor
a great, big metaphor
for life after losing Lisa to suicide
our personal apocalypse.
My self published book, Locksmith at the End of the World, A Dead Silence Novella, is available in paperback on Amazon! (It’s also available on Kindle.)
I’ve been working on Locksmith‘s sequel Foothills & Hollers: A Dead Silence Novella for several months, and I look forward to seeing where the story takes me. In it you will find Chester, Lucy, and Emma, and I’ll introduce a few new characters.
I am still working on (as I have been for the past decade) The Biggest Brightest Star in the Sky: A Memoir of My Sister’s Suicide and have started working on a biography about my eccentric grandfather, DT Glascock.
Thank you for reading my blog, books (novellas!), and my articles in our local newspaper. I can’t tell you how happy I am when I get feedback, reaction, comments, and compliments.
Here are a few excerpts from Locksmith:
Chester knew something was terribly wrong when Hunter tried to eat him.
Things had been just mildly wrong for the past few months, but quickly became terribly wrong when Chester was startled awake by something sharp yanking his fur and flesh, trying to tear it off, trying to skin him alive.
For a while now, Chester thought perhaps months, but what do dogs know about the passage of time, he and Hunter had not been outside their property or even outside in the backyard very much. They used to go on long walks in the neighborhood, hikes in the woods, take trips to the dog park and the giant treat store, and then, they didn’t. One day, it all stopped. That was when Hunter started to have the scent of unease and fear about him almost all the time.
One day, Hunter showed Chester an obstacle course he had set up in the basement. Chester thought the obstacle course was alright, but he preferred hikes in the woods. The obstacle course always smelled the same, unlike the woods that were filled with a myriad of odors. Still, he used it because it seemed to make Hunter happy.
Chester also noticed that if he and Hunter went out in the backyard, which was enclosed by a high wooden privacy fence, it was only for short periods of time, and Hunter seemed constantly on edge while they were out there. Sometimes when they were in the backyard, Chester would catch a scent of something that was definitely not right, something that pulled a fine thread of fear up his spine and raised his hackles. A few minutes later, Hunter’s unease smell would turn to a fear smell, and they would dash back inside, where Hunter would go from window to window, peeking out through the curtains.
On the day Hunter tried to eat Chester, he kept rubbing his chest and saying to Chester that all those surplus Meals Ready to Eat were giving him indigestion. Hunter told Chester he might lie down, maybe take a little nap. Chester, who was a nap aficionado, thought that was a good idea. Sleep fixed most everything, in Chester’s opinion.
As Chester slept curled at the foot of Hunter’s bed, his nose tucked under his stub of a tail, Hunter started twitching in his sleep. This disturbed Chester, but then Hunter settled down and Chester relaxed into a deep sleep.
The next thing Chester knew, he was violently awakened by what turned out to be Hunter’s hands squeezing handfuls of Chester’s skin and coat. He watched, stunned, as Hunter silently pulled his brown speckled haunches toward chomping teeth. Just as Hunter was about to sink his teeth into Chester, Chester began thrashing and flailing away from Hunter, causing them to get tangled in the bed linens. Their wrestling carried them over the edge of the bed and they fell to the floor, entangled in a drape of white cotton.
Being a locksmith was a handy profession during the zombie apocalypse, thought Lucy Dale as she rode her bike through a neighborhood of majestic homes, looking for a house to break into without actually breaking anything.
From the safety of her many hidey holes in the small town she had recently abandoned, Lucy watched as people, sometimes in small groups but mostly alone, took sledge hammers or axes to windows and doors, loudly breaking them open so they could get inside and scavenge. She’d also seen people kicking in doors, which seemed like a good way to get hurt.
There were a few things wrong with this approach, in Lucy’s opinion. For one thing, sledgehammers, axes, and the like were heavy and cumbersome. You would tucker yourself out just getting through the door—or window—and after getting in, you often had to fight off and kill whatever you had rousted and excited with all the clamor you made busting in.
Also, you had to navigate the splinters and shards your sledgehammer or axe work produced; meanwhile, outside, all the racket from getting inside would draw the attention of some unsavory beings. More often than not, you ended up being a potential meal or you just did the hard work for someone else, someone who would cut your throat over a bag of dried beans. Lucy had seen nightmarish ends come to many an incautious scavenger.
In this neighborhood, like the others she had been in since leaving her town, many of the houses were barricaded with plywood and two by fours, as if readying for a hurricane. Lucy supposed what had come through was like hurricane. A hurricane of chomping teeth and clawed hands. A good bit of the houses along the narrow, winding streets had smashed windows. The doors she could see from the street were either hanging open or closed tight, but none were broken down.
Lucy, who was not yet desperate for supplies and could afford to be picky, searched until she found a house that looked untouched. It was stately like the other homes, and rustic looking with its stone veneer and timber accents. It had a two car garage, a front porch, and a screened side porch.
Lucy rode her bike with its small bike trailer attached up the concrete driveway that was stamped and colored to look like stone. She dismounted, arranged the bike and trailer so they were facing down the driveway, and put the kickstand down. She pulled a medium sized duffel bag from the trailer and started down the matching stamped concrete walk that led to a timber and stone porch. A thick carpet of Zoysia grass flanked the path and birdsong filled the air. It was quite picturesque and peaceful.
I perch on a weathered windowsill in an
ancient Victorian home, scanning the yard below as death pounds at the door behind me.
This house sits in a cluster of Victorian homes surrounded by a modern neighborhood, like an island of late nineteenth century in a sea of late twentieth century. The section of the neighborhood where the Victorians are is old; their wooden siding is painted in deep, romantic colors, their distinct architecture of squared off roofs, cornices, wraparound porches, and the occasional cupola contrasts against the lighter, newer tract homes surrounding it. They glow silver in the summer moonlight, ghostlight shining on a ghosthood.
The Victorians would be beautiful under different circumstances, like, if the world was still normal. Now all the homes are haunted-looking and unkempt, their yards weedy and scattered with trash.
The Victorians’ architecture is what I hope will save me from my current predicament. I continue to wait until most of my stinking and shambling pursuers are inside, two floors down from me. The moment I am certain most of them are inside I’ll be on my way. What’s left of them won’t know I’m not in the house until I’m long gone.
I continue looking around at the yards for as far as I can see, waiting for the right time for escape. The dorm
er window I’m in is at the back of the house, and the hordes of death are at the front and the sides. They aren’t creative thinkers, but a frenzied swarm. This zombie single-mindedness works in my favor: They won’t see me go out the back. I continue to wait for the right time to go, still scoping out the neighborhood for as far as I can see on this hot, full-moon lit night.
A water-ski handle with a metallic blue carabineer attached lay on the floor of the dormer window. Two Molotov cocktails sit against the wall between the dormers, along with my backpack and shotgun. I pick up the water-ski handle and latch the carabineer to the makeshift pulley that hangs from the rope secured to the eaves with an eyebolt screw. This rope runs to the neighbor’s eaves—an improvised zip line.
Back when there were more alive than there were dead, we strung our crude zip lines between four houses for this very purpose: An emergency escape, a last resort. Now I am alone—my companions disappeared, eaten, or turned—crouched in a dusty attic dormer window, preparing to glide from one ancient, boxy, Mansard roof to another using a cobbled together zip line that will likely snap and drop me to the yard below rather than get me safely to the adjacent house.
Hungry dead continue to fill the lower levels of the Victorian. I take a deep breath, the sweat slipping down my back into my butt crack and running from my scalp into my eyes. I wipe my sweaty face on the dark, thin fabric of my shirtsleeve and step back into the attic to move the Molotov cocktails closer to the window where I can reach them easier.
When I hear jangling from the every-metal-utensil-in-the-kitchen alarm I strung at the top of the second story stairs, an unpleasant mix of fear and trepidation yanks my insides. A surge of adrenaline hits my system accompanied by the unfortunate urge to pee. I dig into my pocket and pull out a lighter, pick up a cocktail and light the gasoline dampened cotton strip that hangs from the bottle’s mouth. The strip bursts into flame with a dull woof sound, and I roll the fuel-filled bottle toward the stairwell leading down to the door that is the only barrier against the horror-filled hallway and me.
I can hear them banging and crashing clumsily around the hallway. The bottle bounces down the stairs and lands just right—I hear it smash against the door and see an explosion of flame as the gas splatters the door and walls. I light the other Molotov and roll it toward the stairs. It bounces down and shatters, spreading more fuel and flame.
The wood crackles and I hear the first shambler bang against the door, likely attracted to the sound coming from my side. I feel a bubble of terror burst inside me and I turn toward the open window, tucking the lighter in my pocket. I put my backpack on then slide my shotgun’s strap over my shoulder. I chec
k to make sure my hatchet is still fastened to my belt—it is—so I climb back onto the windowsill.
The outdoor air is cool and fresh compared to the burning, smoking attic behind me. There is another slam from the other side of the door followed by a loud crack. It’s the door. The dead are breaking through.
“Enjoy the barbecue, fellas!” I yell, then swipe my palms on my pants, grasp the water-ski handle with both hands, and push off the windowsill into the night.