Saturday, December 06, 2008

Introduction to THE LIVING END

Introduction to the zombie novel, THE LIVING END
James Robert Smith

It might have been sometime during the days when the Marines were moving weapons systems to secure sites. Or it could have happened during the weeks when the Army and Civil Defense were scattering far and wide to shut down and lock nuclear power plants. Perhaps the day fell when local police forces were disbanding and running. And maybe it was some hour when the general population was in total panic, concerned only with self-preservation. Or it might have happened as society fell completely to bits and people were racing about committing acts of theft and violence and generally killing one another at will. But at some point, some moment, some second, when the government, both elected and bureaucratic dissolved into that same panic; or when cholera and dysentery were raging through the population, knocking them down like dominoes.

In that general time period, a tipping point was reached.

It was in those mad days that the zombies began to outnumber the living. It was during those holocaust hours that all was lost.

People trying to flee to cities found the streets lined with the undead. Anyone who attempted to find refuge in buildings or houses generally realized that those places were packed with the monsters, or that they had simply found places to be trapped. Families who took to the main roads discovered a very nasty fact:

The highways and expressways were, quite literally, crawling with the reanimated corpses of the recently deceased. Walking flesh flowed down those asphalt and concrete corridors like water flowing from a high point to a low one. The air was filled with the stench of these things—with the defecations of their dying throes; with the ammonia reek of relaxed bladders; with the rot of tens of millions of death rattles.

In those desperate days, when the tide of battle had turned inexorably away from the living and in favor of the undead, the only salvation to be found lay in constant movement. There was no safe house. Security became an illusion. The future was something to be feared as all those who yet drew breath lived in the here and the now. If people thought at all, it was as if they were rabbits on the run, deer at the wrong end of the chase, cows to the slaughter. People did what they figured they had to do, and in the doing many more of them perished and were devoured, or were delivered as new killers among the raving hoards of zombies.

The landscape became something truly from a nightmare. In some places the ground was covered as far as the eye could follow with a writhing mass of things that resembled human beings but which, alas, no longer were. The forests moved with the constant press of them. Towns and cities and villages and outposts became host to a seemingly unending flood of the walkers. Their moans echoed over the hills and down the valleys and through the canyons of cities that had become slaughterhouses with streets and walls that were covered red and black with the gore of their victims. When they moved, as a single mass, there was no other sound but the tramp and drag of their slow and implacable tread.

They stared and raged and were hungry. The things that had once been us never found satisfaction. There was no satiation for their constant and hideous craving for living flesh. Before them, all who still lived ran like the harried creatures they resembled. In the wake of this poisonous flood the wily among the living hunkered down and watched. Behind that flood, in the ravaged and ruined land to the rear of the rotting march, people began to gather, to assemble, to wait and watch and exist.

The ones who yet lived were searching for one thing and one thing only:


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