Thanks to Carolyn for having me on. Halloween, and really the threshold of cold weather, is a great time to mention my latest novel, Solstice. Of course, any time is a good time to discuss zombies (called Ragers in the book) and Solstice is full of them. Unfortunately, my favorite Rager in the tale, Mick, was edited from the final version of the novel.
Mick is a washed-up rocker and an all-around interesting fellow and I hope to let him have a little “life” in the sequel, which is now a work-in-progress.
In the meantime, I am going to give readers a peek into Mick’s life and how he ultimately becomes a Rager. To bring everyone up to speed, Mick has been wandering the cities of Germany since his career went kaput, filling his life with drink, drugs and women. He’s driven his wife away and has seen his young son, Steffen, only a few times.
In the following scene, he has had a revelation of sorts and has returned to his estranged wife, Mia. Too bad, he’s made his decision a bit too late.
Mick was freezing. In his sleep, he reached for the covers and could not put his hands it them. “C’mon, Mia. You’re taking the blankets,” he muttered. Then laughing, he softly added, “Must be why you never found anyone else.”
It might have been the first untainted rest he had gotten in perhaps months. No alcohol-induced nightmares. No waking in the middle of the night with a throbbing brain and parched mouth to stumble drunkenly around searching for a pain reliever. He reached out for the blankets again, realizing dreamingly that the other side of the bed was empty.
He was about to call for Mia when a scream erupted from up the short hall. Steffen. Mick leapt from the bed, blinking at the pitch darkness. What the hell? He couldn’t see a damned thing. Heart jumping like a wounded animal inside the cage of his chest, Mick fled to his son’s room. He crashed against the doorjamb, racking his shoulder painfully and nearly fell headlong into Steffen’s room.
There had not been another cry and now the house was eerily silent. Mick fumbled for the light switch and flicked it. Nothing. He thumbed it up and down. Still nothing. He squinted into the blackness of the boy’s room.
“Steffen? Daddy’s here.” His voice shook.
He could make out movement in the corner. Faintly, he thought he heard a strange, wet slurping noise. His mouth was suddenly so dry. “Mia?”
The shuffle of movement and a cackle of croupy laughter rose from the darkness. Mick moved to the window and yanked away the blinds. The grayness of night bled in, lighting the room, but only slightly. Something inside his head told him he did not want to see. Not really.
Mia sat on the corner of the room, crowded among an army of stuffed bears and dogs and seals. In her lap, she cradled their son. The stink of blood and feces was unmistakable.
“Mia?” he said again. “What’s happening? Is he ill?”
Mia raised her face to him, the dim nighttime light touching her face, painting it zombie- blue. She smiled, her mouth a rictus in the shadows. Something very dark and shiny-wet rimmed her lips, cheek-to-cheek, nose-to-chin.
“Mia? What did you do?” His voice rose.
Mia threw the boy aside in a ragdoll heap and jumped to her feet in one amazing, catlike motion. She bared her teeth at him. “There’s something wrong with me, Mikeal.” She stepped closer to him and Mick moved back, searching for something to use to defend himself, if he needed to. A toddler-sized hockey stick leaned in the near corner and he snatched it up.
“What did you do to our son, Mia?”
“I made him better.”
“No, Mia. Please, no!” He babbled, the words coming and he did not know what he was saying. All he knew was his tiny son was lying in a crumpled heap, a dark pool growing around his lifeless body. And the child’s mother now stood before him, covered in blood and suddenly mad.
The moonglow lightened the window a moment and touched Mia’s horrible face. Something had happened, something so terrible that her eyes had become as white as the moon itself. Her normally immaculate straight blond hair stood up and knots and thick tangles. The laugh lines or–worry lines, thanks to him, she had once said—cut as deep as wounds along the bottom curves of her eyes and along the corners of her mouth. She advanced on Mick and he wanted to move away. His gut and his heart told him he must. He must run, but no. He could not leave his child.
Crying out, he swung the miniature hockey stick as hard as he could. It connected with Mia’s bony chest, lifting her from her bloodstained feet. She landed on the far side of the little room, sprawling on her back, knocking the plastic PlaySkol writing desk askew.
Mick flew to Steffen and lifted his limp body into his lap. Weeping, he held the boy against his chest. “Wake up, son. Wake up for Daddy,” he pleaded.
Over his shoulder, Mick was aware Mia had gotten to her feet and was now stumbling toward him again.
“Stay away, Mia.”
“Stay away, Mia,” the Mia-thing mocked with her cackling, broken voice.
Still holding Steffen, Mick got to his feet. He turned to face his estranged wife, who now stood motionless, a scarecrow silhouetted against the window.
Then something miraculous happened. Steffen moved in Mick’s arms. His legs shifted, only slightly, but Mick felt it. “Steffen? Are you still with me?”
“Daddy?” the boy’s voice was only a breath against Mick’s cheek. Then a tiny, starfish shaped hand reached up, trembling, and caressed the side of Mick’s neck.
“Yes. It’s Daddy.” The tears flowed, uncontrollably.
The boy’s hand was so cold, however. So cold. Mia stumbled nearer, but something had broken in her with the blow Mick had dealt.
Steffen’s eyes opened slowly and he looked at his father, but their beautiful dark blue had become has pale as the ice on the roof. The boy smiled and craned his neck upward and brought his lips closer to Mick’s throat.
“Let me kiss you, Daddy.
Donna Burgess lives with her husband, daughter, son, many cats and one goofy Golden Retriever in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. When she is not writing, she can be found on her longboard, behind a good book or on the soccer field. She is the president of E-Volve Books.
She holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Journalism and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.
THE END IS ONLY THE BEGINNING… On the eve of winter Solstice, a massive flash envelopes the Earth and then there is nothing. The sun no longer shines and civilization is plunged into unending darkness. Those exposed to the mysterious flash have changed—they have become bloodthirsty, cunning, and determined to devour anyone who is not infected. They are Ragers. In Sweden, uneasy travelers Tomas an architect, his young son, Christopher, and university student Melanie, hear a broken broadcast. There is hope. Something called Sanctuary waits, but it is thousands of miles away, somewhere on the shores of the British Isles.
Meanwhile, in a London supermarket, Stu, a high school English teacher from the States finds himself stranded along with a handful of students on a senior trip. Outside, hoards of hungry Ragers await, ready to tear them limb from limb. Their only hope is to find Sanctuary. Solstice is a tale of hope, terror, survival, and finding love at the end of the World.
DONNA BURGESS ONLINE
Donna is giving away THREE (3) paperback copies and FOUR (4) ebook copies of Solstice
For entry into the giveaway please answer the following question then fill out the form below: What is your favorite zombie novel / story?
This giveaway is International and ends 12:00am GMT 30th November 2012