Zombie Killin' Blonde
Zombie Killin' Blonde
Living with his sick mother, Tris works a crappy job, studys engineering and spends as much time with his friends as possible to escape the drudgery of day to day life. But ever since Dani moved in next door, Tris has looked forward to catching a glimpse of her every day and has been trying to speak to her for months.
Dani lives alone in her apartment, having moved to the city to hide after the death of her extraordinary mother in an event that was seen by the entire world. She keeps to herself, and lives quietly, reading her favourite comic, "Zombie Killin' Blonde".
Elsewhere, angry at the world, a man enacts a ritual that will change the planet forever.
During a chance meeting on his way home, Tris finally manages to string some words together and speak to Dani. Life was looking up until the Zombie Apocalypse began.
For Dani, the rise of the undead presents her with the chance to finally become her hero, the Zombie Killin' Blonde, and put the training her mother taught her to use.
Now Tris must team up with Dani, find his friends, and somehow survive in a world that has become hostile to the living.
But with the Zombie Killin' Blonde on his side, maybe they stand a chance...
When will I get my Paperback?
When will I get my Paperback?
You will be notified by email when your paperback has been dispatched. It's usually within a couple of working days.
Read a sample
Read a sample
Twilight of the Living
Tris rushed along the street, walking quickly, eager to get back home. He’d felt so guilty going to work today, but his mother had insisted. Bless her, he thought. She knew how important it was that he did not miss a day’s work. They needed the money, and as it was right now, he was the only one bringing money in.
Normally, he’d stop by the library and look through the books in the engineering section, maybe do some reading there or check a book or two out, but his mom had been so much worse this morning.
He’d pleaded with her to go to the hospital, but they both knew that they couldn’t afford it. They didn’t have insurance, and there was no way they could afford the cost of such a visit. His mom had insisted that a few paracetamol tablets would set her right again.
She’d reassured him that she always felt worse in the morning. That she’d be fine once she got going.
Tris knew it was a lie. She’d barely got out of bed for the last few days, and the wheezing sound she made as she breathed was heart-rending to hear.
But, what could he do?
They needed the money for rent and food, and there was never anything left over at the end of the month. Tris wasn’t sure how much longer they could keep this up really.
It was late summer, and the heat of the hotter months was dying away, but Tris felt comfortable without a jacket on. It wasn’t cold at all, really. He soon rounded the corner and made his way into the projects where he lived. His block rose up into the late afternoon sky, one of several in the development, and there was the usual amount of kids and other residents out in the central courtyard between the buildings. Parents and their children played on the pitiful apparatus in the small play park. The climbing frames were covered in graffiti, but the kids didn’t mind. Other residents walked through the space or sat on low walls, talking. Tris kept his head down, making sure to keep his distance from one of the gatherings of youths he saw not too far from his building. These small gangs didn’t bother the residents too much, but Tris didn’t fancy making himself a target either.
He slipped through the courtyard, just another resident going about his business and walked into his building, heading for the stairs. Several flights of steps later, he reached his floor and navigated the corridors towards his apartment, his mind on his mother and hoping that she was still okay.
As he walked, passing the bank of elevators, one of them dinged and opened, and a girl wandered out and turned to walk the same way he was going, walking slightly ahead of him.
He recognised her right away. It was his neighbour, Dani. She’d been living next door to him and his mother for a while, and to Tris, she was perfection.
On seeing her, his heart did a backflip and his breath caught in his throat. She glanced back at him, noticing he was there. She offered him a half-smile before she looked away.
Tris went to say something, but his nerves got the better of him, and he clamped his mouth shut, suddenly terrified of saying something stupid.
Dani was gorgeous, and he’d been admiring her from afar for months now. He’d said hi to her occasionally, but they’d not exchanged more than a couple of words each time. And yet, he found himself thinking about her all the time, especially after whenever he’d seen her.
He’d not known her name for the first few weeks she’d been living here and only found out because his mother had run into her and said hello. Apparently, they’d spoken for a few minutes, and she’d found out that her name was Dani. His mother had already urged him to ask Dani out a few times.
‘Just go and knock on her door,’ she’d say. ‘Ask if she’d like to go to the cinema with you.’
He hated his mother talking to him like that. He didn’t want her getting involved in his private life. He wanted to speak to Dani, of course. He’d wanted to say something, anything to her for a while, but the right time never seemed to present itself. Plus, he was terrified of saying the wrong thing, and then she’d never want to speak to him again.
As she walked ahead of him, nearly close enough to touch, her long, platinum blonde hair bounced around her shoulders as she walked. She wore a denim mini-skirt, ripped tights, ankle boots and a denim jacket. She also carried a small backpack and held a plastic bag in her right hand. He noticed that the bag had the logo of the local comic book store on it as it knocked against her leg and twisted towards him.
She liked comics???
His heart fluttered, and his breath caught again. His pretty neighbour liked comic books! If she wasn’t already perfect in his eyes, she was now.
She turned the next corner, and he followed, making their way towards their apartments at the end of the hall, and couldn’t help letting his eyes wander over her, watching the skirt crease around her butt as she walked.
Did she know he was looking at her? Did she know he liked her? He wondered if she thought he was following her or stalking her? He didn’t want her to think that. Did she realise he was her neighbour?
Fear gripped him. He was scared of talking to her, but also scared that she might think he was a psycho killer or something.
Before he knew it, words tumbled out of his mouth in an attempt to stop the visions of terrible scenarios that were bubbling up in his head.
‘Hi… Er, um, Dani. Hi Dani. Just… You know, heading back to my apartment, like you…’ He cursed silently to himself. He sounded like such an ass.
She looked back at him, the look on her face wasn’t one that comforted him as she processed his comment. ‘Um… Yep,’ she replied and looked away.
Tris rolled his eyes to himself, knowing he’d messed it up. ‘Damn it,’ he chastised himself under his breath, quietly enough that she wouldn’t hear.
‘How’s your mom?’ Dani asked.
Tris’ eye snapped open as he stopped at his apartment door. She was looking at him, waiting for an answer, and suddenly he knew what it felt like to be a small animal on the road, watching as a pair of headlights bore down on it.
Tris opened his mouth to answer, but the words wouldn’t come, and for a second, he stood there dumbfounded.
She was talking to him. Dani, the goddess from next door, was talking to him. She had piercing blue eyes and high strong cheekbones that contributed to her very defined features. Others might think her strong features gave her an odd look, but not Tris. To him, she was perfection.
As he stared at her, he realised that a few more seconds had passed, and he suddenly found he couldn’t remember what she’d asked him.
‘Um, sorry, what?’ he answered her, feeling like an idiot.
‘Your mom, how is she?’
‘Oh,’ he answered her, his words finally coming as he enjoyed the sound of her voice. It was the first time he’d really heard her speak, but her question brought his wandering thoughts back down to the ground with a bump as he remembered his mother. ‘She’s, not well…’ he answered her finally, the light, friendly tone in his voice, now replaced with a more sombre note.
‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ she answered, genuine concern in her voice. ‘I hope she gets better soon.’ She gave him a thin smile that warmed his heart.
‘Thanks,’ Tris answered, his mind in chaos as it bounced back and forth between the thrill of finally talking to Dani, and thoughts of his mother's condition, leading to another pause in their conversation.
‘Well, see ya later,’ she said and turned away, walking the few remaining steps back to her front door. She unlocked it and disappeared inside with a quick glance back and a brief smile.
He raised his hand to say goodbye, but she was already gone, and he felt like a fool again as his hand slowly lowered.
Sucking in a deep breath, he held it and then released it, forcing his heart rate to slow down. She was beautiful. He wished he’d been able to say more to her, to speak to her properly. Part of him briefly considered walking over and knocking on her door, before his mind spun off on a fantasy that maybe if he did. She’d open it and throw herself into his arms and kiss him before they retreated to her bedroom and made mad passionate love to each other.
Tris shook his head and pushed those thoughts back and away before digging in his pocket and pulling the key to his front door out. Moving into his apartment, he dumped his stuff on the floor and walked through to his mother's bedroom. He found her lying there, almost in the same position she’d been in when he’d left. Her breathing was ragged, with a rattle in her throat that terrified him.
If anything, she sounded worse than this morning. He feared for her life.
‘Mom? Are you okay?’ he asked.
‘Tristan, you’re b…’ she started to say before she descended into a coughing fit. She put a tissue to her mouth and slowly brought the cough under control. Tris spotted the blood in the tissue, even though she tried to hide it.
‘You’re not well, mom, we need to get you to the hospital.’
‘Nonsense, I’m fine…’ she whispered. ‘Nothing some…’ COUGH, COUGH. ‘…some bed rest won’t cure.’
‘If you’re like this tomorrow, I think I’m going to have to insist.’
‘We can’t…’ she gasped. ‘No money.’
‘Mom. I’m terrified I’m going to come back home one day and find you dead. This is ridiculous, you can’t keep refusing this.’
‘I won’t ruin your future by bankrupting us,’ she said, coughing again.
‘Don’t be so obstinate,’ he argued.
‘…Enough. No more,’ she answered him, taking a breath, her voice dropping to a whisper. ‘Come, help me get to the bathroom.’
Tris sighed. There was no getting through to her, but he knew she was also right. They couldn’t afford a trip to the hospital; it would ruin them. The ambulance ride alone would probably do it, let alone any treatment.
He walked over, helped his mother up and walked her into the bathroom. He stepped out, letting her do what she needed to do while he waited outside, listening to her endless hacking coughs that Dani could probably hear next door.
Moments later, she’d finished, and he helped her back to her bed where she settled into the covers, her breathing sounding worse than ever like it might just stop at any moment.
‘Go do the laundry…’ she gasped.
‘In a bit mom, I need to eat something first,’ he answered her. She waved a hand at him, dismissing him, and he left her in her bedroom as he moved to the kitchen and rummaged through the fridge and cupboards to rustle up a meal.
He ate it in silence in the kitchen, listening to his mother’s worrying breathing in the next room. Their apartment was small, consisting of the main room which housed the kitchen and living area, with three doors leading off from it, not counting the entrance. Two of them led to bedrooms, his and his mothers, and through the other lay the bathroom. It was small and cramped at times, but it was home.
About an hour after he’d got back, his mother had apparently fallen asleep. He gathered up the laundry into a basket and headed downstairs to the laundry room, making sure to take a book with him to read.
The laundry room was in the first basement level and wasn’t big, but there were often other people in there. He walked in to find just one other occupant, and he gasped as he noticed the unmistakable platinum blonde hair of Dani sat watching one of the machines and reading something. It was a comic book! So, he was right. She did read comic books. This was amazing.
He moved to the nearest machine, that wasn’t out of service, which was around the corner from Dani by three machines, and stuffed his and his mother's clothes into it, being careful to move his underwear in quickly. He didn’t want Dani seeing those.
Another minute later and the machine was starting its wash cycle as Tris moved to sit on the bench close by. He looked to his right. Dani was only a few meters away, still wearing the same outfit, her legs crossed as she buried her face in her comic book.
Tris peered at the cover and noticed it was a “Zombie Killin’ Blonde” comic. He knew of it and liked it himself. He’d seen the animated films, which he thought were excellent, and the live-action version was good too, although they’d changed some parts of the story and characters. It also wasn’t as sexualised as the comics and animations. The Heroine in the books, Blondie, was a girl in high school, complete with a tartan mini-skirt and a white blouse, who fought the undead with her twin Katana swords.
It was filled with high action as the girl jumped around, cutting the heads off zombies in a manner that allowed the artists to show the heroines underwear at every possible opportunity.
Despite this, it was incredibly popular and had spawned an entire franchise, including several animated films, a live-action adaption, merchandise, and even a video game. It was also a favourite costume for cosplayers to wear at the comic conventions, partly, probably because it was easy to create, but also sexy and powerful. The Zombie Killin’ Blonde might be drawn as a teenage boy's wet dream, but she had a rich backstory too. She overcame difficulties in her personal and family life and still stood up for what was right, fighting the evil necromancers and their hordes of undead servants.
Tris enjoyed the animated films the most. He’d read some of the comics and seen other iterations of the title as well, but part of him found the overt sexualisation of the character a little much at times.
Still, he enjoyed it when he did watch or read it.
Seeing Dani sitting there, engrossed in the comic was a little surprising, but also deeply cool.
That’s when he realised, she was looking at him over the top of her book.
‘You okay?’ she asked.
For a brief moment, he was lost for words. His mouth moved, but nothing came out, but it passed quicker this time as he looked into her sparkling blue eyes. He also didn’t forget her question.
‘I’m fine. So, Zombie Killin’ Blonde…’ he said, nodding towards the comic in her hands.
She glanced down at it, and then looked back up to him. She nodded. ‘What of it?’
‘Nothing… It’s just cool, that’s all.’
She blinked at him and seemed to hesitate before answering. ‘Thanks,’ she replied, with a hesitant smile on her lips.
Tris got the feeling she didn’t want to talk. Her tone was defensive, so he smiled back and looked back at his machine.
‘Do you read it?’ Dani said after a moment.
Tris looked back at her and smiled warmly, thrilled she wanted to keep talking to him. ‘Of course. It’s cool. I liked the animations best.’
She smiled back at him, and he got the feeling that the walls she’d put up were coming down a bit. ‘Yeah, they were cool. Can’t beat the original comic though,’ she answered him, holding it up.
‘You don’t find it too, you know… sexy?’
Dani’s eyebrows rose up before she narrowed her eyes and spoke. ‘What's wrong with being sexy?’
Tris blushed. ‘Oh, um… nothing. I like that too… I mean, you know…’ Tris noticed her eyebrows creeping up her forehead again as he spoke. ‘I mean, sexy is cool and all, but you’re a…’
‘A what? A girl?’
‘Well, yeah, and you’re…’
‘Am I not sexy?’
What the hell was going on, Tris thought, feeling his cheeks burn? This conversation had gotten out of hand quickly. He needed to salvage it and change the subject. ‘Well, yes… I mean, I guess so… I hadn’t, um, thought…’
Dani laughed. ‘Relax, I’m messing with you,’ she commented.
‘Oh…’ Tris answered, suddenly realising what she’d been doing, but he wasn’t sure if he should be offended or not. Was she having a laugh at his expense?
‘I’m sorry, you just walked straight into that one. You’re cool,’ she said with a smile.
Tris felt his cheeks flush once more. He’d never had a girl call him cool before. ‘Thanks,’ he said, looking anywhere but at her.
‘I know what you mean. The original artist seems to love drawing up-skirt shots of her leaping through the air as she kills the next zombie, but it doesn’t bother me. The story is good, Blondie is an awesome character, and she kicks ass, so, it’s cool with me,’ she said as she closed her book and moved to her machine.
Tris noticed her machine had stopped its cycle, and she busied herself with emptying it. Tris looked away, wanting to give her some privacy. She eventually stood up and moved towards the exit. Tris watched her go, only for her to stop in the doorway and look back.
‘You should come over sometime, I’ll show you my collection of comics,’ she said.
Tris was powerless to resist the smile that spread over his face at her words. ‘Um, yeah, sure. I’d like that,’ he answered.
She nodded back to him. ‘See you soon,’ she said and left the room.
Tris watched her go and couldn’t quite believe what had just happened. Dani — gorgeous Dani — had invited him to her place!
He sat back and basked in the glow of the wonderful feeling that spread throughout him as his mind raced with possibilities of what might happen should he go and see her. He closed his eyes and just enjoyed this feeling, losing track of time. Before too long, the washing machine made its surprisingly loud, beeping noise to alert him that his washing was finished.
Snapping himself out of his reverie, he looked around to see that he was still alone in here and was about to stand up and unload the machine when a sudden loud and frantic banging sounded to his left.
Looking over in shock, the banging was coming from the only other door in the room. It was a fire door that led outside, it’s exit sign glowing green above it.
Someone was outside, banging on the door, and it sounded frantic, like whoever it was wanted to get inside, and quickly.
‘Hey? Who is it?’ Tris called out.
It was difficult to make out any kind of reply in here with all the noise from the water pipes and such, but he thought he heard something like a voice. ‘Hello? You okay out there?’
The banging intensified, becoming more insistent. Someone must be in trouble, Tris surmised, it was the only reason for it.
‘Alright, okay, I’m coming,’ he shouted and moved to the door, pushing on the release bar and pushing it forward. Whoever was out there pushed back, and the door shut again.
‘Hey, you gotta move away from the door, man, back up, I’ll let you in,’ Tris shouted and pushed again. This time the door didn’t get slammed back at him, so Tris pushed the door open wider. It was getting dark outside, and this looked like it led to one of the side passageways between the blocks. A man stood out in the alleyway. He stepped forward, lurching almost. He looked like he’d been in a fight. Dark wet stains covered his shirt and face, and he was carrying something. He shuffled forward more, and for some reason, Tris stepped back, getting a sudden bad feeling about this.
The man stepped into the light, which revealed his face, or what was left of it. Almost an entire cheek had been ripped off, exposing his teeth and gums on the left side. His eyes were cloudy, and blood was everywhere.
He was also carrying a severed forearm.
‘Holy shit,’ Tris cursed, feeling sick, as he started to move further back.
The man moaned something unintelligible and lunged for him with a groan.
‘Fuck, fuck, fuck,’ Tris cursed and scrambled away, running for the door. He reached it in two seconds and slammed it shut. There was a deadbolt on this side, so he threw it into place, locking it as the man on the other side started to hammer on this door too.
‘What the hell…’ Tris muttered as he processed what he’d seen. The man looked dead, or, well… He knew the word, but he couldn’t quite wrap his head around it. Was it real? These things were fiction. They didn’t exist in real life. Did they?
He turned and was about to head back to the stairs when he realised his washing was still in there, in the machine, with the… thing. He cursed again under his breath and looked at the door which rattled in place as the man hammered against it. Well, there was no going back in there now.
Turning, he looked up the stairs that led to the ground floor, and fear gripped him. Not the same kind of fear he felt at the thought of talking to Dani for the first time, or even the fear of losing his mother. No, this was a deeper, more primal fear.
The fear of losing his life.
The fear of being eaten.
Was this an isolated case? Patient zero? Or was this something much, much bigger? Were there more zombies out there? Where they in the building?
Were they upstairs?
Taking a deep breath, Tris marched towards the stairs and walked up them, pausing at the top to peek through into the corridor beyond. He could hear new sounds now. The sound of sirens, mixed with the occasional scream, and… Was that a gunshot?
This wasn’t an isolated case was it, there were more of those things out there.
Steeling himself, Tris moved out into the corridor and moved as quietly as he could up the hallway to the nearest stairwell and started to climb it. So far, nothing. He kept going, and as he reached his floor, he heard banging coming from below, followed by screams and the sound of people running.
A gunshot made him jump, and then he ran. He’d heard enough. It sounded like chaos was in the building already. He reached his apartment, unlocked the door and moved inside, slamming the door behind him.
‘Mom?’ he called out.
‘Mom?’ he called again, more caution in his voice this time.
Something fell to the ground in the other room. There were a couple more thuds, and then nothing.
Tris moved across the living area, staring at the door to his mother’s bedroom. He glanced at the kitchen worktops, his eyes settling on the knife block. It was the most obvious source of weapons.
Looking back at the door to his mother’s bedroom, he stepped sideways towards the kitchen.
‘Are you in there, mom?’ he called out.
Thud, thud, thud.
Footsteps sounded in the other room, and then the door was flung wide, revealing his mother, still in her nightdress, her hair wild, her eyes cloudy and bloodshot. She drooled where she stood, staring at Tris with a look of predatory glee.
‘Mom?’ Tris squeaked.
He didn’t want to believe it. This was a bad dream, a nightmare. It had to be. His mother wasn’t dead, wasn’t… one of those… things…
She moved suddenly, quicker than he had expected and reached for him. Tris ran sideways towards the kitchen, but his mother caught him by his shirt and yanked him towards her. She overdid it though and threw him backwards. He thudded to the floor, knocking a table and chair sideways with a wooden judder on the smooth kitchen floor.
He looked up to see his mother stagger having thrown herself off balance as well, only for her to catch herself before turning to look for him.
‘Mom, please, it’s me,’ he said, knowing it would be useless, but he had to try.
His mother made a horrific sound, a mix of a shriek and a groan as she stalked, somewhat unsteadily, towards him. He backed off, still sat on the floor, using his hands and feet to propel himself away from her until he backed into the wall beside his front door.
With an almighty bang, the door flew open, wood from its frame splintering off into the room to reveal a lithe bare leg wearing a high heeled shoe. The leg pulled back as a woman stalked into the room, and Tris had to do a double-take to make sure his head wasn’t playing a trick on him.
The woman was blonde, fit and wore a tartan skirt with a white top. She also carried an identical pair of katana swords.
It was as if the character from the comic, Zombie Killin’ Blonde had stepped right off the page and into real life.
‘Wha…’ Tris managed to say while his mother also backed off, peering at this new arrival. The woman turned her head and looked down at him. Tris stared back, but it took a moment for him to realise who it was.
‘Dani?’ Tris asked, blinking in case it was a vision that might disappear.
‘Tris,’ Dani said. ‘You’re alive.’
His mother made the same forced moan, attracting their attention.
‘It’s… My mother…’ Tris said.
Dani raised her swords and bent her knees, settling into a fighting stance, pointing a blade at his mother. ‘Not anymore.’