Book Review Friday: Blood Soaked and Contagious

Blood Soaked and Contagious by James Crawford manages to entertain, educate, and horrify as it follows the adventures of Frank and his Man Scythe. Did I mention I love Frank? A great sense of humor, moves honed by numerous zombie death matches, and the desire to be a better man combine to make Frank a wonderful, yet deeply flawed, hero.

In Frank’s words: “I’ve been doing this gig, ‘Freelance Zombie Extermination,’ for just over a year and a half. My claim to fame is simple: Hey, I’m still alive! Better, I’m sure, than the other options.”

He’s sort of the American Juan of the Dead.

But Frank isn’t fighting brain-dead, sluggish zombies who travel in herds and eat anything in their path. These zombies are smart, organized, fast, and only attracted to people infected with the zombie virus. No infection with the virus means you can roam with impunity. Infection with the virus is akin to blood in shark infested waters, it’s only a matter of time before you end up as a zombie snack.

Sure, there’s plenty of zombie brain bashing, crushing, and skewering, but the real meat of this story lies in the bond between the inhabitants of Frank’s small, close-knit neighborhood.  When Frank’s good friend is asked to work for a zombie warlord and develop technology to allow the zombies to keep humans as cattle to feed upon, the friend must either submit to the request or endanger the lives of everyone in their community. If only it was as easy as putting up fences and stopping swarming zombies. Instead Frank and his compatriots must strategize against zombies with weapons, military tactics and discipline, and a rather casual attitude toward using their least gifted members as cannon fodder.

As if Frank’s life isn’t complicated enough, sibling rivalry and a hot female zombie killer, who admires Frank’s Man Scythe as much as he does, keeps the heat turned up on this page turner.  Blood Soaked and Contagious is a winner of a novel. Buy it at Amazon. If you can’t get enough of Frank, there’s a second book available called  Blood Soaked and Invaded.

Fast, Fun and Free Sunday: Zombie Games

Zombie Games by Kristen Middleton is fast, fun and free.

Zombie Games by Kristen Middleton is fast, fun and free.

Zombie Games (Origins) by Kristen Middleton is a fast paced YA romance set in the zombie apocalypse. 17-year-old Cassandra Wild, aka The Wild One, is both a firearms and martial arts expert. When an untested flu vaccine causes rampant zombie-ism, Wild leaps into action to protect her family and help other survivors. She’s aided by Bryce, a 20-year-old martial arts instructor who wows the women with his six-pack abs and slays zombies with fists and feet registered as deadly weapons (o.k., I totally made that part up. His feet and fists are lethal, but may not be registered in the big book of deadly weapons).

Of course the zombie apocalypse isn’t enough excitement. Wild and gang save the one girl in school she’d have gladly left for zombie bait, Eva. Eva is gorgeous, rich, and shallow enough to be more worried about making Bryce her next boyfriend than getting her hands dirty with zombie brains.

The majority of the story revolves around Wild trying to find her family and she is fearless in this quest. This is a fast read, partly because of its length but mainly because of its pace. Lots of movement, action, and tense situations kept me turning pages to the end.

My only complaint is that the zombie outbreak is blamed on an untested flu vaccine. As a healthcare provider, and someone who routinely gives vaccinations, the premise doesn’t work. I read carefully, trying to figure out if the author had some sort of anti vaccination agenda, but couldn’t find one. Since this is only book 1, perhaps in later books there will be a better or different explanation of the outbreak. Still, Zombie Games Origins was compelling enough to drag me past my disbelief and take me for an amusing and scary ride. Fast, fun and FREE means you should get over to Amazon and get your copy today.

Canada Says No to Zombies While England Prepares for the Undead

“Keep Calm and Avoid the Undead,” the English government warns in a new video explaining the aftermath of an event they call “The Rising.” This event has resulted in a zombie infestation in  parts of England. Much as the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization would like to help our neighbors across the pond, the logistics of moving zombie children via boat or airplane across the Atlantic Ocean is more than our finances and current infrastructure can support.

After numerous brainstorming sessions, we’ve committed to sending five of our most experienced zombie child wranglers to England to aid in the capture and rehabilitation of the English zombie children. We’ve assurances from the highest levels of the British government that they, too, our committed to preventing the slaughter of innocent zombie children and they have arranged a secure facility to house them.

England’s quick response to the Rising, complete with television and print ads supplemented by phone calls, is in stark contrast to America‘s response when faced with the Great Infection. Unfortunately, our country first ignored the problem, then attempted to cover it up by indiscriminately killing all of the infected.  By going public at the outset, England will be able to stop a secondary wave of infection and save countless lives. We salute their bold, public strategy.

There are those cynical few who believe the protection of English zombie children is only a temporary move, designed to purge the country of cow brains and, possibly, horse meat that was mislabeled and fed to humans. In truth, England is taking the lessons learned from their unfortunate brush with mad cow disease and trying a different tack. England’s initial response to mad cow disease was to deny the problem and downplay the potential cost to human life. This strategy led to continued exposure and deaths.  Since then, their government has more readily responded to scientific advice and exchanged secrecy for transparency at the first hint of a problem involving public health. All of these attributes are clearly displayed in the government’s new video.


Other countries will be well advised to watch England’s response and, in case of a similar event in their country, be prepared to follow England’s lead.

As always, we ask you to remember that we feed the zombie kids so you won’t have to. We look forward to doing it in two countries.

Zombie Emergency Relief Organization

The Ethical Treatment of Zombies

Hanging out @ Melbourne Zombie Shuffle

Hanging out @ Melbourne Zombie Shuffle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that the election is behind us, it is time to address the care and ethical treatment of zombies.  First and foremost, we must find another name to call the people who were victims of the Great Infection as the term “zombie” has an extremely negative connotation, much like the word “cooties” once did.  By using this type of language to describe our friends and loved ones who are infected we dehumanize them. Using scientific terms, such as Ataxic  Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome (ANSDS) or metabolically deficient, appropriately identifies them  as victims of the Great Infection  rather than horror movie freakazoids. It also acknowledges our belief that medical science will one day find a cure for this dread disease.

Currently, popular opinion holds that the infected are brainless, brain-eating, soulless subhumans. This is in opposition to what we learned during the Great Infection about the process of zombification. The infected died shortly after their infection, but they also quickly revived and exhibited motor function. There are some who believe that this brief period of death is not enough to release the soul of the infected person. Preliminary studies suggest that the soul remains attached to the revived body and, if so, the infected person’s soul retains its spiritual yearnings and may be responsible for some of the retraining we have been able to do at our haven. The soul may be the reason some of the infected can learn to co-exist with humans and one another.

The length of time between death and revival, approximately 5 minutes,  is also short enough that the brain function should not be irreversibly impaired.  Most people mistakenly believe that the zombie’s loss of speech is a result of brain death. Instead, the inability to speak is directly related to the lack of coordinated muscle movements or ataxia. This deficit, understandably, makes zombies self-conscious and, we believe, contributes to their pre-verbal moaning. Managing the ataxic symptoms through medication has the potential to restore both speech and normal gait and movement to the infected.

Another area that needs to be addressed is the belief that infected individuals are no better than animals. This attitude has led to a great many heinous crimes being committed against the infected. Underground zombie fights have replaced the more traditional dog and cock-fighting, most likely because there are no laws protecting the infected. Michael Vick suffered public humiliation and financial damages due to his penchant for dog fighting. However he could build an arena and televise fights with the infected and, in some quarters, receive public praise for his actions. Just as we protect animals that can’t protect themselves, our nation must enact laws to protect the infected. Banning zombie fighting, zombie vivisection, and the use of zombies to test cosmetics are important first steps in reasserting our commitment to the dignity of all.

As a nation, we must set the example and the tone when it comes to dealing with the infected.  Treating them ethically is the first step in repairing the damage done to these individuals.

Contemplative Chef Zombie

Contemplative Chef Zombie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Zombies and the Upcoming Election

Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney in Denver Presiden...

Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney in Denver Presidential Debate (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Behind the Scenes - Belmont University Town Ha...

Behind the Scenes – Belmont University Town Hall Presidential Debate Hall (Photo credit: Paul Chenoweth)

In all of the chatter about the upcoming Presidential election, neither candidate nor party has come out publicly with a policy to address our burgeoning zombie population. Other government agencies, notably the CDC and FEMA, have used the zombie apocalypse as an object lesson on disaster preparedness and disease transmission. But they have also remained silent on the subject of what to do with our friends and loved ones that have succumbed to the Infection.

In an earlier post, Romney and the Zombie Fiasco, we distilled the political parties response to the existence of zombies in our midst as this:

Republicans envisioned a non-union zombie workforce able to replace migrant workers and add to the tax base. In their employment scheme, humans would capture and train zombies to do manual labor and zombie wages would be paid to the “owner” and taxed at a lower rate.

The Democrats proposed the government “own” all zombies, capture and train them at the taxpayer’s expense, and put them to work doing menial work, such as stuffing envelopes, manning post offices, and verifying the census.

The Libertarians proposed quarantining the infected in Alaska and letting them figure out what to do on their own.

None of these proposals take into account the unpredictable nature of zombie hunger, the difficulty in training or restraining zombies to render them harmless, and the medical reality that zombies require massive amounts of health care to address their decomposition. Since, as a nation, we are already understaffed with primary care doctors and have an inefficient healthcare system that doesn’t provide preventive care to thousands of uninsured Americans, it seems selfish to divert needed resources from the living to take care of people who are metabolically challenged.

Because of the lack of information (spokespeople for both major candidates refused to be interviewed for this post), the Zombie Emergency Relief Organization can only offer guidelines for voters to think about prior to placing their vote.

1.) Will the candidate defend the rights of all Americans, not discriminating on the basis of or lack of metabolism, communication, or conformity with what “normal” America looks like?

2.) Will the candidate champion new medical technologies as they are developed to assist in bettering the lives of all Americans and refuse to let special interest groups make medical decisions based on their particular dogma?

If your candidate can answer “yes,” you have some assurance that in the next zombie apocalypse, your family and friends will be protected from harm rather than hunted down in the street and shot.  Remember, we are all only one mutation away from zombification.

In closing, a poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller, 1945:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

Make your voice heard. Vote.

I Feed Zombies so You Don’t Have To

If you believe popular stereotypes, a zombie wants nothing more than to dine on a menu of human flesh and brains. In fact, most people believe zombies will bypass dogs, cats, rabbits, and even cows to track down the limited amount of humans available and eat them.

Night of the Living Dead screenshot -- a young...

Night of the Living Dead screenshot — a young zombie (Kyra Schon) and her victim (Karl Hardman). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend the SyFy channel‘s feature, “Rise of the Zombies,” perpetuated this falsehood through the use of repetitive scenes of zombies eating people, mostly eating their intestines.  Most movies rely on intestine eating as their go to graphic, certainly its shown more than the focus of brain eating. I think filmmakers enjoy using the intestines because they are easy to make, can feed a mob of ravenous zombies and ripping open a stomach is easier than gaining access through someone’s head.  Logically, unless one believes zombies possess superhuman strength a la vampires, their ability to either detach a head or punch through a skull make it highly unlikely they can reach the brains they (supposedly) desire. In K. Bennett’s book, Pay Me In Flesh, zombie at law Mallory Caine uses an “ice pick with a hook” to get her daily dose of brains, but the zombies of film don’t have those kind of thinking skills and Ms. Caine is not your usual zombie.

Prior to the Great Infection our knowledge of their feeding habits wasn’t informed by the reality of a zombie diet. Our first batch of zombie child refugees presented a dilemma for staffers. None of us were interested in procuring the freshly dead (or making the live dead) in order to feed the children, but we all acknowledged that they needed nourishment. Because of our committment to the environment, we originally hoped they would flourish on an all plant diet. Since over half of the world depends on rice for 80% of it’s diet, we started our experiments there.

In a method reminiscent of Forrest Gump and his shrimp, we tried cooked rice, raw rice, rice balls, fried rice, rice pilaf, dirty rice, and rice and beans using white rice, brown rice, short grained rice, long grained rice, wild rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice. No matter how we cooked it, it our zombie children turned up their noses. In desperation we even died it red and forced it into sausage casings. No luck. A similar variety of pastas and beans met the same fate. Our plant-based offerings rotted in the holding pens while the zombie children howled in hunger.

Next we tried a variety of fruits and vegetables. Our greatest success came with the use of grapes and watermelon. We hoped the zombies would think the grapes were like eyeballs and the watermelon, with its hard rind and soft middle, a brain substitute. Sadly, though the children loved playing with the fruit, they stubbornly refused to eat it. Many was the night that the communal cafeteria was covered in watermelon seeds and grape skins while the children gnashed their teeth in frustration.

Finally, in spite of  our reservations, we experimented with meat. Being sensitive to the issues of world hunger, the environmental impact of meat-eating, and not wishing to divert food targeted for humans, we searched for meat byproducts that were currently discarded because there was no salable market.

We quickly chose cow brains.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a disease which literally makes the brains and spinal cords of infected animals become sponge-like. Interestingly enough, symptoms of mad cow disease are similar to symptoms of the Infection. Cattle infected with BSE will become increasingly aggressive, react excessively to noise or touch, and eventually become ataxic . The National Ataxia Foundation explains:  The word ataxia is often used to describe a symptom of incoordination which can be associated with infections, injuries, other diseases, or degenerative changes in the central nervous system.  Though humans that eat meat infected with BSE cow brains can develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or CJD, zombies already have an ataxic disorder and are immune to CJD. If our zombie kids ate cow brains, they’d be diverting potentially dangerous cow brains away from human consumption.

Armed with this knowledge, we purchased large amounts of cow brains and attempted to feed  them to the zombie children. At first, we were unsuccessful. The smell of rotting cow’s brains filled the cafeteria and covered the campus. Undeterred, we experimented with serving the brains at different temperatures until we found that most zombies loved brains heated to  98.6.  Our original warmers, lines of extra-large crockpots, didn’t provide a consistent temperature, cooked the brains,  and could only fit a limited amount of brains. Luckily, our staff members are inquisitive, persistent, and willing to try new things.

Natural-Beef ( ...item 3..St...

Natural-Beef ( …item 3..Stop Feeding Cows Chicken Manure (Posted: 04/26/2012 8:52 am) … (Photo credit: marsmet491)

Eventually we constructed a conveyor belt that dips the cow brains into a warm water blood bath and heats them to the appropriate temperature without damaging the integrity of their uncooked state. When we rolled this out, the zombie children moaned in delight. Watching them stuff their little faces with warm handfuls of cow brains truly was a watershed moment for our organization. After that, it was only a matter of finding slaughter houses willing to sell and ship their unwanted cow brains to our haven.

In our zeal to be responsible stewards of  the environment, we also set up a localvore program where we purchase deer, elk, and goat brains from local hunters and small farmers for the children.  This has provided economic gains for local businesses.

Your donation to Z.E.R.O. not only feeds the zombie kids, it also minimizes the chance of mad cow disease transmission, and supports small business. We don’t mind feeding the children so you don’t have to, but we need donations to do it.

We will be providing information on how to direct donations to our organization in future posts.