Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Book by Lauren H Salisbury: Conviction

I like to highlight other authors now and again. Conviction is Lauren’s second book, a follow up on Courage, a sci-fi reimagining of the story of the birth of Moses. Lauren suggests reading the books in order if possible. They are both available through Amazon, and Kindle Unlimited.

Blurb:

Can two people with opposing principles overcome their differences to be together?

Than has spent his life ostensibly having fun while secretly fighting for his people’s freedom. A member of the underground resistance, he is only ever serious around his comrades and his family. When an injury forces him to step down from active duty and his reluctant nurse sparks his interest, Than finds himself in uncharted territory. The fascinating woman will have nothing to do with him.

Menali’s past has taught her to keep her head down and trust that God has a reason for allowing the human race to suffer on U’du. When Than explodes into her life, he refuses to take no for an answer and challenges all of her preconceptions. He soon has her re-evaluating her priorities and wondering what life with someone like him would be like.

Enter a rafflecopter giveaway.

Author Bio:

Lauren H Salisbury was an English teacher for sixteen years with an MA in Education. She is now a writer who dabbles with tutoring and lives with her husband and a room full of books in Yorkshire, England. She likes to spend winters abroad, following the sunshine and becoming the seasonal envy of her friends. When she’s not writing, she can be found spending time with family, reading, walking, crafting, or cooking. Courage is her debut novel.

Author Interview

Tell us more about your book.

Conviction is the story of two people who have opposite views on everything but find themselves drawn to the other. They each face challenges in their personal lives and lean on their growing friendship to help them deal with those issues. It’s about learning to look beyond the surface to really get to know someone, and to let go of expectations and opinions when they prove false. It also has a resistance movement bent on freeing the human slaves from their ruthless alien overlords, with a little help from an unexpected source.

Tell us more about yourself. What else have you published?

Conviction is the second book in my debut series, The Legacy Chronicles. Courage was released in February of this year, and the third book, Strength, should be ready by March next year. I started writing seriously after sixteen years as an English teacher, but I’ve always loved to create stories. Publishing this series has been a dream.

What inspired you to write your book?

Conviction is the second book in my Legacy Chronicles series. The series is based on the women in Moses’s life with each book telling one of their stories in a science fiction setting. I’ve always admired these Biblical characters for their faith and courage, and I’ve loved writing about them.

Conviction wasn’t supposed to exist. My mum alpha read the first book, Courage, and kept asking about Than and Menali. As a thank you for all her hard work, I wrote their story for her. It was supposed to be a novella, but it kept growing as I dug deeper into the two characters and found there was a lot more story to tell. Than does have a way of pushing into the centre of things, but Menali surprised me. You’ll have to read it to find out any more.

What are your favourite kinds of stories to read and write?

I like to read all types of stories, from science fiction and fantasy to historical fiction to murder mysteries. There are only a few genres I refuse to read. My absolute favourites are stories where there’s a unique set up or a novel twist on what’s been done before. I also love complex characters that have many layers I can peel back as I get to know them.

I like to write stories that will surprise people, whether that’s in how I’ve reimagined events in a different environment or the links between characters that are slowly revealed through the series. I also want to write stories that will resonate with readers, where they stop and think, “I get how that feels” or “That’s happened to me.”

What is your writing space like?

My office space is extremely organized. I can’t work there when it’s messy. That said, I tend to do most of my writing either outside or sitting on the sofa in the living room, and I usually have at least two notebooks to hand along with a drink, my phone, a snack, and some tissues. It’s not exactly cluttered, but it’s nowhere near as pristine as my actual desk.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m about to start editing the third book in The Legacy Chronicles, Strength. I’m also halfway through writing the fourth and have another series circling my brain. Outside of writing, I’m renovating my house again.

What question would you ask yourself? Answer that question.

Most of the questions I’d ask myself are along the lines of when I’m going to get on with some of the jobs I have to do around the house or on the next manuscript. The one that stands out as different is, “What’s the next film you want to watch at the cinema?”

The answer: Normally, I’d be saying the latest Marvel or sci-fi film, but right now I’m looking forward to the new remake of Little Women. I have such great memories of reading that book, so I’m interested in seeing how they update it.

Links:

Conviction selling page: http://a.co/doeQtkg

Courage selling page: http://amzn.to/2ItzMl4

Email list sign-up form: http://eepurl.com/djCo0z

Website: http://www.laurenhsalisbury.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gillascourage

Listen to me on a podcast.

I connected with a fascinating guy, Colton, who does the Desert Tiger Podcast. We got together a Sunday morning and had a blast talking about writing, music and mental health. I had a bit of a cold, so there’s some coughing there too.

 

I can’t say if it will increase sales, and I’m not really worried about that, but I do know making connections is important. If you’ve always considered starting a podcast, listening to a few is a must. But I’d encourage you to reach out to people and ask to be on their podcast.

On the show, I talk about my newest book The Regent’s Reign and some other books, including some which will never be published.

You can listen here and for those who do, a reward. If you email me the title of my upcoming book for the summer,( It takes place in Spruce Bay and follows after Wendigo Whispers.) I will send you a free ebook of The Regent’s Reign in either mobi (kindle) or epub (everyone else.)

New Release October 27th

Calliope and the Sea Serpent

Chapter 1  The Call to Adventure

Calliope followed Sir Shillingsworth through a vast collection of grotesqueries – creatures suspended in huge bottles filled with murky liquid, others stuffed and set in tableaux. Sculptures of horrific death, paintings of deformed people.

Her father took no notice of what surrounded him; tall, with his grey hair cut severely and great coat flapping like a cloak in the wind, he swept past giant skeletons, not even glancing aside. Calliope itched to get lost in the collection, sketching what she saw. That skill was the reason he employed her. Why he’d ordered her to attend this meeting was beyond her. She had specimens to draw and catalog from the expedition he’d returned from a couple of months ago.

Unless he thought some feminine distraction would aid in his negotiations. Calliope brushed at her dress, covered with pockets she’d added and spotted with charcoal and graphite. In that case, he should have brought someone worth looking at.

Pentam, Sir Shillingsworth’s protégé, rolled his eyes and shook his head. He had dressed immaculately in the latest fashion, dark hair perfectly arranged, and took his position as high society scientist very seriously. She caught occasional flashes of humour in those blue eyes. Calliope took a deep breath; she could put up with the boy for the short time she was forced into his presence.

They arrived at the end of the hall, where Sir Shillingsworth looked at Cal as if he had just met her there.

“Really, Calliope, you should take more care with your appearance.”

She made a deliberately sickly attempt to show feminine wiles.

“You should have warned me I was to send lust through Lord Carroway’s veins.”

Pentam’s snort echoed through the hall.

“Fat lot of good that would have done.” He immediately paled and held his hand up defensively. “I don’t mean that in a disparaging way to you, Cal.” But he was looking at Sir Shillingsworth as he spoke.

“You should stick to your convictions.” A pang struck through her heart before she ruthlessly quashed it. “Nevertheless, you aren’t the only one whose words occasionally come out a little sideways of their intent.” He spoke nothing but the truth. From her blackened fingers to indeterminate brown hair stuffed in a bun to keep it out of her eyes, even in the finest of gowns, she’d never make any male catch his breath.

“What I meant is, rumour has it Lord Carroway is not, er… set aflame by feminine beauty.”

“Then it is a good thing you take all too much care with your appearance.” Sir Shillingsworth rapped on the door as Pentam turned a series of lovely shades of red. Cal smiled sympathetically at the boy. Her father had little time for niceties, and none for anything less than the bald truth. “Dressing well isn’t always about seduction.” Sir Shillingsworth eyed Cal again. “Sometimes it is about respect.”

The door creaked open as Pentam fought for composure.

How appropriate. Have they treated the hinges to produce the sound? Cal knew better than to give them more than the slightest glance as they paraded into the room. But her mind listed ways she might have created that wonderful groan.

Links to preorder at any major e-book retailer  can be found here:

Catalog

Coming up in 2017 and a Christmas story.

I have lots of things planned for 2017. A young adult dystopian novel coming out late winter, a fantasy novel to be released late spring and a thriller set in the northern winter, ironically being released during the summer. Somewhere in there I’m releasing a small book of poems and mushroom pictures.

While you wait for all these goodies, here’s a Christmas story for you:

Unbelief

The carollers were off key again. Hank took a swig from the bottle in an effort to drown the exuberant caterwauling coming from next door. He glanced at the label Laphroig it said, twelve years aged in oak casks. It didn’t matter Hank had stopped tasting anything after the first bottle. It was his father’s booze anyway, or at least it had been before tonight. Now it was Hank’s.

Marge would be furious. She would say that he should have kept his father’s scotch collection as a souvenir and sipped careful drams on special occasions. Marge wasn’t here either. The love that had burned so hot twenty years ago had slowly dissipated until all that was left was a cool regard and a reluctance to spend money on divorce lawyers. Marge had gone to her sister’s right after the funeral. Candace did have cancer. She needed her older sister’s help to manage her house and four kids. Candace’s husband had no qualms about paying divorce lawyers.

Hank could hear the carollers laughing and talking as they walked past the front door. They wouldn’t stop at this door. Hank’s father hadn’t believed in Christmas. To be truthful, Hank’s father hadn’t believed in much of anything except his own correctness. That he was right in every argument was as much an article of faith with him as transubstantiation was for the Pope. Hank swallowed the last of the Laphroig and carefully dropped the bottle in the blue recycling bin. Hank had brought it from home. His father didn’t believe in recycling either.

Hank staggered out of the kitchen and just managed to catch himself on the doorjamb. He was drunk. Hank hadn’t been drunk since…. well he couldn’t actually remember the last time he got drunk. Seeing all those bottles of scotch, it seemed a reasonable response to the old fart’s death. He manoeuvred himself over to the couch and half sat, half fell onto it.

His father wouldn’t have got drunk on scotch. He was too full of life to waste it getting drunk. He would have walked ramrod straight out to the top of the line Mercedes Benz he drove and started it up. He would have revved the big eight cylinder engine to hear the roar and feel the power in the steering wheel. Then he would have driven away at speeds that made lesser men pale. (He didn’t believe in speed limits.) He would have raced in and out of traffic keeping up a running commentary on the shortcomings of the other drivers, until he hit that tiny patch of black ice. The law of physics didn’t care whether Hank’s father believed in them or not. The bridge abutment cut the car in half. It pretty much cut his father in half too.

Hank lay on the couch and felt tears leaking from his eyes. For all the old man’s faults, Hank would miss him. They had never celebrated Christmas, not all of his wife and family’s pleadings would change his mind, but he wasn’t a miser. At each graduation of Hank’s children the old man had quietly handed his grandchildren a check that would pay their tuition for university. When Hank’s youngest had spent it on carpenter’s tools instead, Hank had expected an explosion. Instead the old man hired his granddaughter to work on the house.

Hank’s tears flowed harder and sobs wracked his body. He was alone in the world. Marge had her life taking care of the kids and her large family. The kids were all independent. They tolerated their mother’s meddling, but Hank didn’t know how to talk to them any more. His father was the last person Hank could pretend needed him. The alcohol that brought out his tears carried him into a merciful sleep.

Hank woke to the sound of singing at the door. He pushed himself to his feet and listened. This wasn’t the raucous carolling from earlier. It was a single, pure voice. Hank could hear each word clearly, but understood none of them. Maybe it was Latin. He looked at the clock on the mantle. Two o’clock in the morning. Who sings Latin at two in the morning? Who sings Latin at all?

Hank through the door open and looked in astonishment at a young child who stood singing with his eyes closed. Hank half expected an angel chorus to leap out, or maybe a camera man. He recognized the tune of one the Christmas carols they sang at Marge’s church. The boy finished the tune and smiled at Hank.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

“Merry Christmas,” Hank said, “What are you doing here?”

“Singing.”

“It’s two in the morning. Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

“Yup,” the boy said, “but I felt like singing. Mom said this was a sad house. I thought I could cheer it up.”

“Sad,” Hank said, “Yes, it is sad.”

“Why?”

“My father was buried yesterday,” Hank said, “He didn’t believe in Christmas.”

“That is sad,” the boy agreed, though Hank wasn’t sure whether he meant the death or the lack of Christmas. The boy started another song and Hank stood listening as it washed anger he didn’t even know he felt away. The tears started again, but Hank didn’t care. He remembered how his father came to all his school concerts and games. He remembered the great booming laugh. The unbelief only became hard and uncomfortable when Hank’s mother died. She had believed in a great many things, but mostly in her husband. Without her love, his father had become uncompromising. Hank realized his tears were as much for his father’s pain as his own. He thought of his father at the grave side saying ‘Well that’s it then,’ and just walking away.

The boy’s song finished and he beamed at Hank again.

“Thank you,” Hank said.

“Merry Christmas!” the boy shouted than ran away through the snow. Hank looked to be sure he left footprints behind.

“Well that’s it then,” Hank said and closed the door. He walked through the house letting it tell him stories. At first they were of the unbending man that was Hank’s father, but gradually they took him further back to when his mother and father would read to each other from books with long and boring titles. Hank didn’t remember what they said, but he remembered the passion his parents’ voices held. He remembered arguments too. His mother and father often shouted at each other trying to make the other see. The only time Hank remembered seeing his father cry was after one argument when his mother had walked out in mid-sentence. When she returned later, his father had held her tightly and cried unashamedly.

His father did believe in something. He dialled his sister in law’s number that Marge had given him before she left.

“Hello?” Marge sounded barely awake.

“Hello,” Hank said.

“What time is it?”

“About four.”

“What do you want?”

“I just needed to talk to you,” Hank said.

“Alright then,” He heard Marge settle herself more comfortably.

“How’s Candace?”

“She had a rough day,” Marge said, “I made her unplug the phone in her room. She needs her sleep.”

“How are you?”

“I don’t know,” Marge sighed, “I’m scared to death that I’ll lose my sister, but I can’t let her see.”

“Dad was scared of losing Mom, but he showed it.”

“I always thought he never recovered after her death.”

“No, he didn’t,” Hank sighed, “Maybe you should let Candace know you don’t want to lose her. It is easy to let people drift away because we assume they know.”

There was such a long silence that Hank wondered if Marge had fallen asleep.

“Are you coming home today?” she said finally.

“I thought I would come by Candace’s and give you a break.”

“That would be nice.”

“See you later.”

“Later then.” Hank heard the click of the phone hanging up. He hung up the phone then went to find his bed. He decided that he believed in Marge. He lay in bed trying to find the words he would use to explain. Just as he was falling to sleep he whispered.

“Thanks, Dad.”

The Cursed Seed by Geralyn Wichers

I had the good fortune to meet Geralyn at Central Canada Comic Con, also known as C4. She had with her a few copies of her yet to be officially released book. Now it’s out and I’d like to introduce you to it.


final-coverJack doesn’t know how he resurrected after the gruesome construction accident that killed him. But while his loved ones age and pass away, he remains unchanged, indestructible. With his wife of thirty years dying of cancer, Jack is consumed by the desire to end his life.

A mysterious society of immortals holds the answers, but others would kill for that knowledge. An ancient feud over the power of life and death, an enigmatic murder, a paranoia-stricken history professor. Will these give Jack the keys to following his beloved into the grave? Or will someone else get him first?

Links:

Amazon Kindle: http://mybook.to/cursedkindle

Amazon (Print): http://mybook.to/cursedseed

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/678670

author-3Geralyn Wichers is a writer who moonlights as a manufacturing operator at a large factory. When she’s not wearing a respirator and handling hazardous chemicals, Geralyn is either writing about the impending zombie apocalypse, or training to survive it by running long distances.

Geralyn is a marathoner, a foodie, and a coffee addict. She wrote We are the Living, an apocalyptic story of love and hope in the midst of destruction, and Sons of Earth, the story of a clone finding his humanity in a dystopian near-future. Geralyn just released urban fantasy novel Cursed Seed, the first of the Society of Immortals trilogy

You can connect with Geralyn at her website, geralynwichers.com, or on Twitter: @geralynwichers or Instagram: @geralynwichers

Author Interview

Congratulations on publishing Cursed Seed. How do you feel about publishing this book? Does it feel different from the previous books you’ve put out?

Thanks! Yeah, this book does feel a little bit different then other’s I’ve published. I think that’s mostly because, as this is the first time I’ve gone through a publisher, this book has been much more of a group effort than the previous two.

Tell us more about yourself. What else have you published?

This is my third published work. I published a love story called We are the Living, set in zombie-riddled, post-apocalyptic Italy. I didn’t set out to write a love story in that case. What began as an adventure story turned into a story about loving someone with mental illness, that just happened to have zombies, guerrilla warfare, and a miracle-healing priest in it.

Sons of Earth was my second novel. Dominic is a “manufactured person” or a clone. He was bred to be a fighting machine, but didn’t meet specifications. Knowing he’d be exterminated, he escaped the cloning facility. Years later, he comes back as a scientist, hoping to overthrow the company from within. This story was inspired by the manufacturing plant I work in… though I’d like to think it isn’t quite the blood-sucking monstrosity that Caspian Genetics is in the story.

Cursed Seed deals with mortality and immortality and our desire to choose our own lives. What motivated you to write the story?

For starters, I don’t write didactically. I don’t set out to preach a message with my work. I do, however, explore ideas when I write stories and so deep themes start popping unplanned. I think this is the true purpose of fiction, to give us scenarios to explore ideas and their applications.

If there is a “point” to Cursed Seed, I think it has less to do with mortality and immortality, and more to do with grieving, and finding the strength to move on despite the past. Jack, Alexander and Alannah are all grieving the loss of a loved one and it is coloring all of their decisions. I guess I can’t say too much about that without spoilers, though.

What are your favorite kinds of stories to read and write?

I have no idea! I like history, and biographies, and some dystopian novels, and some fantasy novels… but can I say any of them are my favourite? Nope. I guess my mind doesn’t work that way.

I love to write characters, and generally miserable ones. I really don’t know why.

Since we had the chance to meet at Comic Con, if you were going be a geek about a movie or series, what would it be?

Well, I’ve read the Harry Potter series 2 1/2 times in like 2 years. I guess that makes me a geek about them? I’m also a huge fan of the Chronicles of Narnia books.

What is your writing space like?

Currently, I’m writing from my kitchen counter beside the dirty dishes. 🙂 I don’t have an office, so generally I’m lounging in my easy chair with my feet up. I also really like to take my laptop to a coffee shop. The noise is soothing.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m revising the sequel to Cursed Seed, tentatively titled Trial by Water. Practically anything I say about it will be spoilers, I guess. It picks up where the last book left off, and also adds a thread in pre WWI England, where Alexander and company investigate the mysterious death of an immortal and Zoran’s claims that his unborn child is guaranteed to be immortal also. Giovanni Ardovinni, a background character in Cursed Seed, is tempted to make a deal with Zoran to immortalize his lover, John Burke, and his choices begin to reverberate into the present day.

What question would you ask yourself? Answer that question.

Should I rent Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr. version) this weekend?

Yes. I believe I should.

Oh wait, was it supposed to be writing related?

The Enemy Within by Scott Burn

Every once in a while I like to give a boost to a writer by featuring them on my blog.

Scott Burn has released his first YA novel, but this isn’t the first thing he’s written by a long shot. He agreed to write a bit about getting your screenplay noticed.

Check out his new book too.

the-enemy-within-coverTHE ENEMY WITHIN:
Seventeen-year-old Max suffers agonizing apocalyptic visions. He soon discovers the visions weren’t just in his head. There are others who have shared those same thoughts. Like him, they are something more than human. When a covert military group begins hunting them down, Max doesn’t know which side to trust. But in the end, his choice will decide the fate of both species.
Buy the The Enemy Within from Amazon.

SO YOU WROTE A SCREENPLAY
 
Awesome! Nobody cares.
Now let me take a step back – every agent, manager and producer I know is desperate for good material. They would love to have that near perfect script that will become the next mega-hit or Oscar winner. They are also convinced that your script isn’t it. And the truth is, they are right 99% of the time.
I’m by no means a big writer. I’ve sold and optioned several projects at different studios. I’ve been hired to rewrite other people’s projects, and I’m fortunate enough to make my living solely as a writer. But I’ve never had a film made – the movie gods just have not smiled yet. Or another way to think of it – something was missing from the model.
And what is the model? That is the big question. One studio exec told me he’d much rather have a script with a big idea and a great ending than a script with a mediocre idea where every page was flawlessly written. What makes for that big idea, it’s something that an exec can go into his bosses office and say, “It’s about a group of astronauts that land on a planet and discover their own dead bodies…” His boss immediately gets the idea – he can see the movie in his head and boom, off to the races. That was one I sold years ago with my old writing partner based on a Richard Matheson short story.
While there are all kinds of paths to getting to that stage, the system of Hollywood is designed to keep you as far from that path as possible. Let me start with the challenges then we’ll get into solutions. I had lunch with my agent not too long ago.  He shared with me how countless writers and directors were on him to make something magical happen with their projects. But the reality of Hollywood is fewer films are getting made, many are remakes or based on pre-existing material (book, TV show, game, etc)… The last thing any manager or agent want to do is take on a another mouth to feed when he doesn’t have something he thinks he can sell.
That’s the key – as much as we all love movies, if you don’t have anything they can sell (and my focus here is strictly on Hollywood, not the indie world), then they will pass you by without a second glance. So what are the steps to getting in?
1. Come up with an idea that you’re excited by and people love when you describe it in 30 seconds. If it takes you 5 minutes to try and explain it, move on. Picture the movie poster. If you can’t see it with a cool tag line, don’t bother.
2. Write the first draft. Don’t stop, don’t slow down. Try to write at the same time each day so you get in a rhythm. Most importantly, don’t go back and edit. Just finish.
3. It’s great that you finished your first draft. Now here’s the hard thing to accept – it’s awful. Don’t worry. Everyone’s first draft is awful. Now go back in and rewrite again and again until it’s as great as you can make it. Then don’t give it to friends and family – give it to nasty, bitter writers who will tear it apart. That’s good – you want that, painful as it is, because until that script has been seen by the brutal side, its still your first draft. Now pull up your big boy/big girl pants and do it all again.
4. Once you’ve gotten it to a point where every page glimmers, now comes the hard part. Ultimately there’s a saying in Hollywood – a great script finds a home. But that only happens after banging down every door you possibly can. That means reaching out with query letters to every worthwhile agent and manager in Hollywood or NY. Most won’t respond. Of those that do, most will say no. But if the idea is great enough, you might slip through the cracks. And then… they’ll have notes.
Leave no stone unturned: you have a friend who knew someone in the mailroom at CAA? Reach out. Your plumber’s brother is an assistant at Industry Entertainment? Reach out. But, and I can’t stress this hard enough, don’t reach out until that script is as perfect as you can make it. That’s not days or weeks, it’s months and sometimes years. And when the rejections come, don’t be deterred. “Onward” is your new slogan. Nothing may happen with that script in the end. I would be surprised if it did. That’s OK, now take that approach and do it again with your next project. And then again. Most people I know who break through do so somewhere around their 6th or 7th script. In other words, years. Writing screenplays is a craft and it’s one that needs to be studied to have any chance.
And remember this – many wanna-be writers disparage Hollywood movies, usually while complaining that their project is so much better. Don’t mock the hand that you want to feed you. If other projects are succeeding, look at why, try to understand what made them work such that tens or even hundreds of millions are spent on them. Then create your own…

scot-picA little bit about Scott: He’s a former lawyer turned writer. Scott currently has several sci-fi and action-adventure screenplays in development at various major studios, including Gold Circle, Summit/Lionsgate Entertainment, and MGM/Splendid Entertainment, and his comic book series AGON was published by Zenescope Entertainment.

THE ENEMY WITHIN is his first YA science fiction novel.

The Gods Above is out!

gods-above-cover-smallThe Gods Above is my re-imagining of the zombie story, follow Pranthi and her camera as the world changes around her.  You can read an excerpt here. Gary Buettner has posted a review on his page Book Autopsy:

Zombie stories seem to have a weird relationship with, well, other zombie stories. As deeply infected as our pop culture is with the shambling undead, fictional worlds are a lot more fickle in their undead.

In TV’s THE WALKING DEAD, for example, zombie movies don’t seem to exist at all. When the dead walk, it is an unprecedented horror. In Alex McGilvery’s upcoming THE GODS ABOVE (2016), zombies thrive in popular culture and the novel opens with fun and festive “zombie walk” that quickly spirals into a too-real horror.

you can read the rest here.

[ebook_store ebook_id=”419″]

After the Fever

fever-cover

This story came out of a challenge to write about the upside of a really bad thing.


John ‘Wolfie” Mulholland scrambled away from the latest wave of zombies. They grabbed and pulled at him with their splintered fingers. Mrs. Dougherty was in the front row. She used to give him milk and cookies and listen while he ranted about the latest atrocity from school. Now she was trying to tear him apart. He kicked her knee and she fell to the ground. He felt sorry for her, but not sorry enough to die at her hands.

It just wasn’t fair! John’s rage brought him to his feet and he pushed the shambling neighbours away and made a break for freedom. His flight brought him to the edge of an escarpment where the fence had been crushed by a fallen tree. John ran up the trunk and leapt out into space. The escarpment was a two hundred foot bank of dirt and rock looming over the Humber River. It was possible to ride the loose dirt safely to the bottom. John had done it last year on a dare. His feet struck dirt and started a small landslide. He skipped and jumped to avoid the outcroppings of solid rock and splashed alive into the river. Then the first zombie landed beside him, head first, then it rained zombies. John dove under the water and swam out into the current and let it carry him away.

Still warm enough that John felt no immediate need to get out of the water; he let the river carry him away from the horrible life he already missed. Swine flu induced encephalitis was what the authorities called it – zombie flu. It disinhibited the infected by destroying their upper brain function. There were no survivors, except John who, apparently, was immune.

He finally climbed out of the water and stripped off his wet clothes. His foster parents would have beat him for it. He didn’t care anymore. John used his hands to strip the water out of the fur that covered his body, relieved to be rid of clothes that didn’t fit quite right.

The streetlights were coming on in patches so he started looking for safe shelter for the night. That’s when he heard the screams.

His feet reacted before his brain could carrying him around a corner to where a mob of zombies had cornered a young boy. John yelled in rage and slammed into the group pushing them off the youngster. Zombies growled and mumbled, but they didn’t scream. The kid was also immune.

Some of the crowd turned on John and he found himself fighting for his life. John kicked knees, punched throats and whatever else he could manage. But it wasn’t going to be enough, there were too many of them.

Then a shotgun roared and the mob twitched as pellets tore through it. Again and again the gun blasted until the zombies ran off leaving John gasping on the pavement. The kid put the gun down and came over to him.

“I didn’t think there was anyone else alive,” John thought his voice sounded odd through the ringing in his ears. “Thanks for the help,” he said, “I thought I was a goner.”

“I left the gun in my bag. They caught me by surprise and I didn’t have time to get it.” The gun was slung over the kid’s shoulder. “I won’t make that mistake again, but we need to get somewhere safe.

John faded in and out until the kid dragged him into a house.

John heard a shower running. “Good, there’s still hot water, but it won’t last long. We’d better share.” John stood under the hot water. He closed his eyes as it washed away both gore and despair.

Gentle hands scrubbed his back with soap. John sighed and leaned against the wall.

“Let’s switch.”

John squeezed to the side and opened his eyes to see his companion. The first thing he saw was that his rescuer was no boy. She was at least his age. The second thing was the soft red fur that covered her whole body. She put soap in his hand.

“Scrub.”

John carefully washed all the blood out of that miraculous fur.

“My name’s Peke,” she said, “Short for pekinese.”

“Wolfie,” he said.

“Hmmm,” she said running her finger through his wet brown fur. “Suits you.”

She stepped out of the shower and dried off. Wolfie followed her. She walked past the clothes in the hall and curled up on the sofa. John lounged in a chair across from her.

“It’s called Robson’s Syndrome. It’s rare, only a handful of cases in North America.” She stroked her side. “It causes the fur, and for some reason immunity to the zombie flu.

“Now what?” he asked.

“We wait a few weeks for the fever to pass, then we go and look for survivors. It will take a while but we’ll rebuild. We might even learn something.”

“And what are we supposed to do while we wait?”

She smiled and stuck her tongue out at him. “I am sure we’ll be able to think of something.”

Well,  once you get past the whole end of the world thing, this was turning out to be a pretty good day.