That Ol’ Zombie Twist

Zombies are undead creatures, typically depicted as mindless, reanimated human corpses with a hunger for human flesh. Zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works. The term comes from Haitian folklore (Haitian French:zombiHaitian Creolezonbi) where a zombie is a dead body animated by magic. Modern depictions of zombies do not necessarily involve magic but invoke other methods such as a virus.

Taken from Wiki, but not like it was necessary. We all know what a zombie is by now, considering their huge surge in popularity lately. (The Walking Dead returns this Sunday,y’all, OMG!) Also, it’s a pretty good depiction of me Monday morning. HAHA! AMIRITE? … No? … Okay, I’ll stop.

Lame jokes aside. we’ve always had a steady stream of zombie movies to satisfy our cravings, but their popularity seems to have exploded in the past decade with movies hitting the mainstream like Zombieland and World War Z, and of course, the aforementioned The Walking Dead. There’s also a new show on CW called iZombie, which looks… interesting. I’ll have to check that out. (No, seriously. CW shows are like crack to me, I watch them all.) Even the premiere of the ELEVENTH season of Supernatural had a pretty hardcore zombie vibe going on and a pop culture shoutout to 28 Days Later. (Told you I watch them all.)

So, a little over three years ago, I joked about writing a zombie story because they’re “so hawt right now.” I wrote a blurb and slept on it for six months, because at the time I had never actually written a book. Those who have been following me since the beginning know this story already. That’s when I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo, challenged myself to complete it, and BAM! The rest is history.

I knew at the time I couldn’t just write about the undead walking the earth, searching for brains to eat. So many before me have already done that, not to mention much better than I ever could, so I had to do something a little different. Also, when I have nightmares, they aren’t about zombies. Zombies can give me a jump scare, but I’m not terrified to my core thinking about them. They’re mythical/magical creatures that don’t really exist, so I needed something that could actually mess with my head. (My nightmares are about spiders, btw.)

So my “zombie” was born, but they aren’t technically zombies. The only time I use the word zombie in-world to describe them, the MC is taken aback by it. The people you get to know in my world all have their pet names for the “zombies.” Ali calls them freaks, Joss calls them dead-brains. The people at the hotel call them red-eyes and demons, but my favorite is rager because it pops up in my spell check every time I use it. We’ll just go with that for simplicity here on out.

Ragers aren’t dead. They are very much alive, fast and strong, and they are hard to kill. They heal quickly from wounds and need very little to eat and drink to sustain themselves. They have a very high tolerance to extreme temperatures, and they hate humans. This is what drives them to attack people, not their hunger.

The saving grace? They’re mindless. Aside from the rage they feel when exposed to a human, not much else is functioning upstairs. Like most other zombies, they’re drawn to noises and lights, but don’t do much once there. They have the physical capability to open doors and other things, but they don’t know how. It is very possible for someone to sneak past them as long as the ragers aren’t alerted to their presence. However, it’s dangerous to even try if it isn’t absolutely necessary. The ragers scream when they become enraged, calling all other ragers in the vicinity to them. HINT: This usually does not turn out well for any humans involved!

As far as appearance goes, they’re normally very thin and lean, and just like the undead zombies, these guys smell, too. I mean, it’s been five years since shit went down, how do you think you’d smell without a bath after all that time? And if they can’t open doors, they’re sure not operating their belt buckles when nature calls. I mean, even though they’re bodies run so efficiently, a little excess does need to be relieved every now and then.

Another characteristic is their hair. They have none. It all fell out after they turned, or is in the process of. What ever caused this issue did not, however, affect the finger and toe nails. Those are still working as originally intended. Their most defining physical characteristic is their eyes. The irises to be exact. After the ragers recover from their damning sickness, their irises turn blood red.

With all these odd changes to their bodies, although some for the better, most for the worse, it’s almost as if they are the result of an experiment gone wrong… eh?

So those are my zombies, but my book isn’t about them. My book is about my characters. About Ali and Joss, and how they’re coping (or not) in this new world. After all, Ali fell victim to the same sickness that turns most humans into ragers, yet she came out fine… better even… than before she was bitten. Hrm…

So if you haven’t yet, you can get the first book in The Phoenix Curse for free here; After – Part One. Check it out, see if you like it! If you do, I recommend grabbing the complete book one, rather than picking them up separately, although there’s no difference in the text. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it, and remember, there is more to come!

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