Authors: Steve Wands
Tags: #Horror, #+IPAD, #+UNCHECKED
By Steve Wands
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Steve Wands on Smashwords
Stay Dead (A Novel)
Copyright © 2011 by Steve Wands
Cover Design and Layout by Apparatus
Cover Photograph ‘Urban Doom’ © Kwest
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author
acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various
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Dedicated to Frank and Bob Sharkey, my
uncompromising uncles, two free spirits who let me watch whatever I
wanted when I came over to visit them. And to Lorraine, my
grandmother, for letting me rent Night of the Living Dead and Evil
Dead 2, forever damaging my brain.
To my family and friends, all of which I
would fight for come the end of times. To my wife and son for
creating the most chaotic atmosphere in which to write.
To my first readers, especially Keith Latch
and Darryl L. Pierce, who helped me to shape this novel into what
it is now. And to Christopher Eck, for answering all of my
questions regarding power outages.
This novel takes place in a fictionalized
version of our world. We spend a lot of time in New Jersey and West
Virginia but they are not quite the states as you know them. Any
resemblance to actual incidents, or to any person living or dead,
is purely coincidental.
Thus that which is the most awful
of evils, death, is nothing to us, since when we exist there is no
death, and when there is death we do not exist.
CHAPTER 1: Dark days
The world doesn’t end overnight.
Peoria, Illinois. The United States of
A sultry woman with jet-black hair and olive
skin cocks her head and smiles at the camera. She and her co-anchor
are making jovial small talk with each other. They share the same
plastic smile but off air they share nothing but contempt for one
another. They end their chuckling and stiffen up for the next
story. The woman shuffles her papers.
“A woman who had been pronounced dead at her
home by a doctor was found to be alive in a hospital morgue when a
family friend working for the undertakers saw that she seemed to be
breathing. The woman then began moving and attacked a family
friend. Witnesses said she was belligerent and unintelligible,” the
woman smiled at the camera.
“That is one crazy story, Lorelei. We hope
the woman is in better health and out of the morgue,” her smarmy
Prisons across Japan have been executing
mentally ill inmates, which is a clear violation of U.N. standards
for individuals facing the death penalty. Despite numerous accounts
documenting the issue, Japan's Justice Ministry official, Akiro
Ishi, has denied all accusations.
Prisoners given the death penalty are often
kept in solitary confinement, sometimes for decades, and are not
told when their sentence is to be carried out until the morning of
their execution. This method can lead to "significant mental
illness," a London-based human rights group reported.
The group created major headline news but was
unable to gain any ground on the situation. They, along with U.N.
officials, were denied access to any prisoners on death row.
Japanese officials were quoted as saying, “…a death sentence means
death…mental illness is not a reprieve from punishment.”
What the report and subsequent articles
failed to mention was that moments after execution the bodies of
the executed returned to life. The families of the executed have
yet to bury their dead.
Sean Ferral, a British Journalist was
reporting on the aftermath of a NATO air strike when he and his
interpreter were abducted. Seventy people died as a result of the
air strike, many of which reanimated sometime after, though that
information was never made public. Special Forces raided the bunker
in which Ferral and his interpreter were kept—though neither of
them survived the raid. The Ministry of Defense refused to
Lacy, California. The United States of
The body of an 8-year-old girl, Sandra
Binantu, was found stuffed inside of a suitcase in a pond near her
home. Her Sunday school teacher, 28-year-old Melissa Chuckaby, who
is also the mother of one of Sandra’s closest playmates, has been
accused of her murder. Sandra’s family has been denied access to
the body and has been instructed by federal authorities to “not
make any funeral arrangements at this time.”
A fatal flash flood roared through the city,
at least 30 people have gone missing. In a news conference at
Istanbul's Disaster Management Center, Turkey's prime minister,
called the floods the "disaster of the century." The prime minister
blamed the high death toll on record rainfall and on developers,
who have constructed buildings in vulnerable riverbeds and known
flood plains. The Disaster Management Center is in the process of
searching for the bodies.
Researchers have begun testing the H1N1
vaccine for contaminants after massive reports of side effects,
and, in some cases, death. After 19 days, blood samples showed that
most participants stayed or became even more susceptible to the
virus and in addition had developed long lasting side effects
including paralysis, heart palpitations, and even death.
Researchers are baffled. The Center for Disease Control has issued
a warning against taking the vaccine and is in the process of
recalling all H1N1 vaccines. Vaccine related deaths continue to
Across the world, the dead walk.
Many nations of the world have declared
martial law, and the United Nations has declared a state of
emergency throughout the world.
Many believe it is the end of times.
the alarm clock jolted Scott from a warm and comfortable nook he
managed to squirm into during the night. He lie nuzzled up with his
wife and their cat, of which he calls Steamer, but Judy, his wife,
calls Mister Butters, as it was the only name they could both agree
upon. Scott, however, continued to call him Steamer, and on special
occasions he’s been given the moniker of Captain Stank-Puss. Scott
begrudgingly shoved himself out of bed, rubbing the glasslike crust
from the corner of his eyes and straightening out his shorts which
somehow managed to nearly twist around his lower half. He blindly
fingered at the off switch and eventually found it, putting an end
machine till it would go off again tomorrow
morning and the two of them would once again square off like a
couple of gunslingers in the old west. Steamer stretched slowly at
the corner of the bed, eyeing up Scott as he pulled a plain white
T-shirt over his head and exited the room. Once Scott was out of
sight, Steamer laid down in the empty warm nook next to Judy and
closed his eyes.
Scott walked into the kitchen and
turned on the laptop computer that sat on top of a heap of business
papers that neither he nor Judy could force themselves to do last
night. Among them were three obituaries that needed to be sent to
the local newspapers by 11:00 am today, concerning the three
houseguests they have on tables downstairs in the basement. He
walked over to the pantry and grabbed a coffee filter while trying
to decide what flavor and of which brand he felt like having. After
little debate he grabbed the half-empty pouch of New England’s
Eye-Opener Blend, and began heaping spoonfuls into the filter. By
the time it began brewing he was already opening up his web browser
to read the morning news. He wasn’t surprised at the headline, but
, in big bold capital letters. For
days there had been random reports and articles popping up in
print, online, radio, and even television in regards to eye witness
accounts of the dead returning to life. Scott dealt with death on a
daily basis. He was born into a business of death, and if anyone
knew anything about the dead it was him. And he had yet to see one
get up and walk out of his home.
He was convinced it was the major media outlets’ way
of cashing in on the popularity of zombie movies in the last few
months. It seemed like a new one hit movie screens once a month,
and Scott didn’t see the appeal—they weren’t the slightest bit
realistic. A dead body almost immediately begins to enter into
rigor mortis, which would make walking, let alone running nearly
impossible. He found the entire idea laughable, yet there it was in
big bold capital letters which meant it had to be true.
He read past the title, just out
of curiosity, looking at the images, and the links to video clips.
After reading the article he came to the conclusion that he found
it interesting, and very entertaining. He wanted more. Scott loved
a good read. He had a whole room dedicated to reading—it was full
of books. Many of them were instructional and pertaining to his
craft, but many more were science fiction, fantasy, and even a few
horror books. Though if you were to ask him if he read horror books
he would tell you no.
Below the article were links to
similar stories. He clicked on the next one. He could hear the
coffee maker hissing to a finish, and turned just in time to see
the green light go on. He fetched a cup from the cupboard, the cup
read I like it hot. He filled it to the brim and drank it black and
bitter, returning to his laptop. He read the next article, and then
the next one after that. He visited other sites, and eventually
turned on the television—the news of the dead not dying was
everywhere. He fetched another cup of coffee and sipped it as he
stared blankly at the television. He was almost convinced the dead
really were upright and mobile again.
Judy stumbled downstairs, scratching just below the
waistline of her silky black shorts with Mister Butters following
just behind her. She filled up a cup of her own and walked around
to Scott’s backside. She patted her wild hair down, trying to tame
it and look appealing. She hoped that maybe they could get a quick
morning screw in before the day swept them away and left them too
tired to do anything but sleep when it was over. She leaned over
and was about to kiss his neck when she noticed the television. She
sat next to him with the same blank expression. The two skeptics
sat there trying to decipher if the news was real or not. And if
it’s on the television, it had to be real, but it couldn’t be.
They polished off the pot of coffee while they
watched the presidential address from an undisclosed location. The
president read his notes calmly, as if he’d been practicing for
days but had a subtle expression of hidden horror, which could only
ever be conveyed by the best of actors or the truest of
They stared at the television, as if in a trance,
then a noise came from downstairs. They turned to each other, the
trance broken, fearful yet disbelieving as they stood up. What was
downstairs would surely be the deciding factor between fact and