Ryan is a quiet and unremarkable sort of man. The kind of neighbor you would want. He keeps to himself, pays his bills on time and disposes of his victims without waking the neighborhood.
A somewhat sociopathic, occasionally psychotic and often charming man, Ryan has enjoyed life as a serial killer in the north of England for a number of years. He is more than content with his life and understandably put out when the Zombie Apocalypse begins.
Faced with the choice of dying alone or making friends to survive, Ryan embarks on a journey of discovery as he finds himself with a whole new world of potential victims, all trying to eat him.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Since I was a child, I had read. I always loved disappearing into new worlds and reading about interesting characters and the adventures they had.
I am an introvert by nature and somewhat shy, which meant that I also spent a great deal of time in my head creating my own stories, my own characters and their adventures. I have wanted to get them out of my head and into a book to be shared with others for a long time. This year, I finally had the time.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I am a pantser. Which means that I tend to have a seed of an idea, sit down and let it grow organically as I type it. For the majority of my characters I do not know what they will be like or even who they are, until they appear on the page. For example, one of my secondary chars was fated to die as part of the main characters story.
When she met the main character something strange happened. He didn’t want to kill her. From that one meeting where the character changed my initial idea, she became a major character in the book.
My main character however was always going to be different. I had grown up reading about the prince rescuing the princess, the humble farmer being the chosen one and every other iteration of good guy. Frankly, I was a little tired of them. In the last few years I would read a book and cheer on the bad guy. For thirty years I had seen the bad guy fail and I felt bad for them. Often they were much more entertaining than the hero and I decided that I wanted to play with such a character. I wanted to see the world from their side of the story. To experience their point of view. Where they the bad guys from their perspective? It was an interesting idea.
My knife plunged, meeting only minimal resistance as it slid deep into the man’s chest and through his heart. A wave of exultation moved through me, a pleasure greater than any intoxicant or any night of joy with a willing woman. For a short time the darkness that wreathed my soul would lift and I would feel wholly alive and real.
As I stood alongside the table firmly grasping the knife, the seconds ticked by. I was determined to hold on to the feeling as long as possible. The pleasure all too soon began to fade and I loosened my grip. My body shook as the adrenaline left my system. It would be a short while now before the urge would come again. A few weeks, a month or more and my mood would darken. The urge would come, the need for violence and pain. That need for death. For the moment though I was sated.
My eyes opened to the dim light of the cluttered cellar concealed beneath my home. It was hardly an ideal place to practice my hobby, but needs must. It would hardly be possible to wander around outside at the moment, not in these unsettled times. Too many people watching out of their windows, too many police patrolling the streets determined to keep order. I reached for the knife and pulled it slowly out of the man’s chest. I never had learnt his name.
I stepped over to the workbench that ran along the back of the cellar; it was piled high with odds and ends and covered in dust. Now the bench held the case in which I kept the tools my hobby required. In an untidy heap next to this case were my victim’s belongings. I used his shirt to carefully wipe the blood off of my knife. Then I took a moment to go through his pockets looking for a wallet. His lack of name was irksome. We had just shared the most intimate experience and I felt that he deserved to have his name known.
His pockets contained the usual items that people seemed to acquire as they moved through life. Along with a key ring that held half a dozen keys in a variety of shapes and a trim brown wallet. Within this wallet was a small amount of money, a number of credit cards and his driver’s licence. I had to move to stand directly beneath the single light bulb hanging from the ceiling just to be able to make out the name. Josh Taylor.
At last I had a name for my deceased companion. I spoke the name aloud as I savoured the taste of it upon my tongue. Josh Taylor, Mr Josh Taylor. I turned to the naked form and gave a small nod, barely a tilt of the head to his slowly cooling form and offered his spirit thanks for the pleasure I had gained from our short time together.
Happy now that I knew his name, I picked up my most wonderfully sharp knife and humming some half remembered pop tune, began to sever the bonds that had held my Mr Josh Taylor to the table. So intent was I on this task that it took a moment to become aware that someone was banging loudly on the front door of my home.
A sudden panic held me frozen as the noise, muffled as it was down in my cellar became more insistent. Was this the police? Had I been found out? My heart raced and I felt a cold sweat begin. I cursed the lack of windows down here. What had seemed like such a good thing when murdering some innocent man was not so good when I needed to see if my lawn was covered with overly excited officers of the law.
The banging continued I needed to do something. If it wasn’t the police, then the disturbance could well bring them. If it was the police, well I would rather be upstairs and able to see than stuck down in my cellar with just the one door in or out.
A decision made, I quickly moved around the table upon which Mr Josh Taylor lay, directly in the centre of the cellar and just about ran up the stairs. I burst through the cellar door into the kitchen pausing only long enough to glance through the kitchen window, noting that my small back yard was clear before heading along the hall to the front entrance.
Standing by the front door, the banging was much louder as the door shook from the blows landing upon it. I could faintly hear what could only be described as a hysterical female voice begging for someone to open the door. It was likely not the police then.
As I reached to open the door my gaze fell upon the knife I still held. In my fear of discovery and subsequent rush to the door, I had forgotten that I held it. It was hastily slipped into the back of my jeans, snug against my rear. It would be fine there so long as I didn’t sit on it and cut myself open. I turned the key in the lock and pulled open the door, just enough to be able to see out.
The young woman on my doorstep had her fist raised high, ready to hammer once more against my door. Tears were running down her face. She gave a sob as she saw me. “Oh thank god! Please let me in” she sobbed, as a rather large and distracting glob of mucus ran from her nose.
“What?” Admittedly this was not the most articulate response that had ever been given.
“Quick, they are coming! Please, please let me in” she looked back over her shoulder as she said this and started to push forward.
“What…” I will concede that I may not be at my best when confronted with someone displaying a great deal of emotion. I could see a group of people walking along the road, headed towards the front of my house. Something seemed off about them.
“Oh god they are here!” she cried as she pushed past me and into the house. “Close the door. Quick!”
I really didn’t know what to make of this. I looked to the people she seemed to be running from as they stepped onto my lawn. As they got closer I realised what it was that had seemed so off about them. They all bore some kind of fresh wound, with blood specked clothing and flesh. The tall fellow who had moved to the lead was covered head to toe in blood, the majority from the gaping hole in his chest.
It took just a moment to realise that I should do as she demanded and I slammed the door closed, turning the key and stepping back. “What the hell are they?” I asked the empty air, as my uninvited guest was nowhere to be seen. In moments the door began to shake once more under the fresh blows as the gruesome looking people attempted to batter their way into my home. The sounds of their banging against the wood soon filled the hallway. The door wasn’t designed to hold against this much force. It wouldn’t hold them out for long.
“Where’s the back door key?” called a voice from my kitchen. I trotted swiftly along the hall my mind trying with difficulty to grasp at some reason behind the madness that I had just seen. Reaching the doorway leading into the kitchen I was met by the young woman who looked at me expectantly.
“Wait. Seriously what the hell is going on?” I asked, my confusion beginning to turn to anger. “Did I really just see someone who should be dead, walking across my lawn?”
“Yes. Dead people are walking around and eating people. Haven’t you been watching the news?” she told me, she seemed to be regaining her composure now that she was inside the house, with a seemingly solid barrier between her and those… things. She had even wiped away that hideous snot that had been dripping slowly down her face.
“If I had been, I really wouldn’t have any reason to be asking would I?” I said a little defensively.
“Fine. All hell has broken loose, the newly dead are getting up and killing people, who then get right back up and attack others. The police can’t seem to stop them and the TV just keeps telling us to stay inside.” she said with a rising note of hysteria. She stepped toward me stopping only when her body pressed up against mine, her face twisting into a snarl. “Now you are all caught up, where are the bloody back door keys!” She positively shouted this, flecks of spittle flying out of her mouth and speckling my face.
“Downstairs in my jacket” I said pointing at the cellar door. Without another word she threw open the door and headed straight down. I stood still for a moment, my thoughts racing. The dead were rising and eating people. I was convinced it must be a joke as it wasn’t possible for something like that to happen in the real world.
The group of maimed and bleeding people trying their best to enter my home would seem to indicate that she may be telling the truth. If the dead had risen and were in the process of killing people, they would be a competition I did not want. I cursed as some small part of my brain reminded me that I had a reason for having her stay out of the cellar just as she started screaming. I ran down the stairs.
Reaching the bottom it took just a quick glance to see the former Mr Josh Taylor as he stood naked and pale, blood still leaking slowly from the wound I had made. He faced the young lady across the table where I had left him laid in silent repose. The young lady was screaming whilst trying her best to keep out of the grasp of his flailing limbs, as she navigated the boxes and general junk that cluttered the floor.
She seemed to be stuck at the opposite side of the table, unable to step around for fear of the newly risen Mr Josh Taylor grabbing hold of her. I stood at the bottom of the stairs unobserved by either of the guests in my home. I was faced with a simple choice. This world that I knew and felt comfortable in was crumbling, the dead were rising and the rules were changing.
It occurred to me that it was rapidly becoming unsafe in my home; the resounding noise coming from the front door coupled with the naked corpse – possibly soon to be two corpses – in my cellar meant that I would likely be forced to leave.
While it would certainly be simpler to head out on my own, I would encounter times when I needed to sleep, when I would be faced with tasks that I was unable or unsuited to perform. For that reason I should perhaps save the life of this young lady. Though I was unsure how I would explain Mr Josh Taylor it would be useful to have her in my debt, an ally to help me learn the new rules of this changed world. Besides, I wondered, would it feel the same to kill him once more. Reaching behind my back I took a firm hold and pulled my knife from the concealment of my jeans.
Armed and ready, I reasoned that a blade through the heart hadn’t stopped him from rising again, so to stop him would take something more than a slitting of the throat or a stab between the ribs. I stepped up behind Mr Josh Taylor and with one quick movement brought up my knife and with all the force I could muster, stabbed it straight into the base of his skull.
I stood still, holding fast to my knife. My heart beat almost painfully in my chest. From the new hole in the back of Mr Josh Taylor’s skull, thick dark blood slowly oozed along the knife blade, pooling against my hand. It wasn’t the deep pleasure that had filled me earlier but it was something different, a quieter kind of joy.
It was exciting too, being able to kill whilst another watched. I looked across the body devoid of life once more as it slumped forward over the table and met the gaze of my lady guest. She stared back at me her eyes boring deep into mine. I felt perhaps there was a connection there, a meeting of two like-minded souls. Then she screamed once more.
I am a single father and while I have a bog standard admin job, I fill my free time with attempting to write coherent stories to share with the world, whether they want me to or not.
Dividing my time between work, household chores, children, writing, blog, forums, social media, friends and other minor irritants, gives me very little time during the day. This does mean that I can go weeks without updating my blog but that just means I am involved in my latest story that I am writing.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!