Daily Archives: October 12, 2015

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#31ZombieAuthors – Day 12 Interview – Joe McKinney – Legendary Zombie Master

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FIND THIS ZOMBIE AUTHOR ON:

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Bram Stoker award winning novelist Joe McKinney is to fans of zombie fiction what Elvis is to rock and roll.  Simply mention Joe’s name to zombie enthusiasts and they’re likely to swoon and pass out.

If a zombie invasion were to ever go down, Joe could handle it.  After all, in his day job, he’s a Sergeant with the San Antonio, TX Police Department, where he’s a patrol supervisor.  He’s also worked as a homicide detective and a disaster mitigation specialist.

51CTSWUWJzL__SX302_BO1,204,203,200_As if that weren’t impressive enough, he’s also the author of the Dead World series.  The action begins in Dead City.  After a series of hurricanes rocks the Gulf Coast, a zombifying virus spreads to San Antonio, where police officer Eddie Hudson has to brave a zompoc in order to get his wife and son to safety.

Joe’s also the author of the Deadlands series, the latest book of which, The Dead Won’t Die, came out last month on September 29.  In fact, word has it that he’s heading to Atlanta October 16 and 17th for book signings, so if you’re in The Walking Dead territory, you might want to keep a pen handy.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, oh wise zombie master.  My 3.5 readers and I greatly appreciate it.

NOTE: BOLD=BQB; ITALICS=JOE

Q.   You got in on the ground floor of a zombie fiction renaissance that began in the mid-2000’s and to date, doesn’t show any signs of stopping.  What is it about zombies that have kept fans of these creepy creatures coming back for more after all these years?

A.   I was on a zombie panel at a horror convention a while back, and one of my fellow panelists was a writer who is generally regarded as “one of the literary elite” sort. I like this guy.  I have a lot of respect for him, both as a person and as a writer.  I’d even go so far as to call him a mentor.  And we’re good friends on top of that.  Well, somebody from the audience threw out a question very similar to this and my friend answered something like this:  “Zombies are a symptom of our self-loathing.  We so hate ourselves and our society that we invent a straw man like the zombie, a monster that both looks enough like us so that we see in its putrefaction how much we disgust ourselves and yet is anonymous enough that we can imagine those who anger us as we fire an endless barrage of headshots at the approaching horde.”

Now, I don’t totally buy that.  I don’t think self-loathing, or even societal loathing, is a strong enough emotion to turn a drive-in movie monster into a cultural archetype.  There may be something to that explanation, especially for the readers who spend too much time arguing about politics on Facebook, but that isn’t everybody.

What about the rest of us?  Why do we love zombies?  Well, aside from the creeping dread that comes with imagining streets filled with the undead and the way really great zombie stories tend to treat the apocalypse like a crucible that distills humanity down to its core, I think the zombie has caught on because it’s a blank page upon which writers and readers can draw anything they want.  What are you afraid of?  Disease; death of the mind, a la Alzheimer’s; societal collapse; or possibly illegal immigration?  You name it, if you’re scared of it, we have a zombie for you.  They are sponges for metaphor.  They can be anything you want them to be, and I believe that that’s their secret storytelling power. 

Q.   On your site, you mention how your daughter’s birth inspired you to follow your dream of becoming a writer, but it wasn’t easy.  You explain how you penned a 1950’s style space opera, came to the conclusion that it was “crap,” and wondered why you were even bothering.  Honestly, in my experience, most aspiring authors stop when they reach the “This is crap!” point, but you kept going and today you’re a rousing success.

For those of us who are convinced our writing is “crap,” can you give us a little pep talk to inspire us to keep going until we hit our non-crappy groove?

A.   Getting started is hard. Really hard.  There are days when you spend a lot of time looking at yourself in the mirror wondering why you’re even bothering.  And when you do finally get your first few pieces out there, there’s never a shortage of nasty trolls to tell you how you shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.  You need a lot of hard work, a lot of bullheaded determination, and a really thick skin.  Oh, and a super harsh inner critic that isn’t afraid to occasionally be a cheerleader.  Like I said, it’s hard.

But it can be done.  And while I can’t tell you the secret of finding that determination you need to get out of your own way, I can let you in on a little secret that will make it easier for you to write that first novel.

First, outline your story, in exhaustive detail, before you ever start thinking of your opening sentence.  It seems like every time I go to a convention, somebody says, “You know, I’ve got this novel I’ve been working on for three years now.”  I usually stop them right there and ask them if they outline or write by the seat their pants.  Invariably, I get some confused rambling about how Stephen King said writers should be pantsers because anything else would stifle creativity.  I usually answer by pointing out that never getting the story written is even more stifling to creativity.  Outline, outline, outline.  It’s the first step to success.  My outlines for novels will usually go 70 to 90 pages and they take me about two months to write…about the same amount of time as the novel itself.

The second part of the secret?  Write a little bit every day.  Don’t listen to the stories of Ray Bradbury writing Fahrenheit 451 in 9 days, or Robert Louis Stevenson writing Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in 3 days.  You don’t need that kind of self-abuse.  What you do need is a manageable word count that you promise yourself each day.  When I started out, that promise was 500 words a day.  These days, it’s 1,500.  But you have to work up to that.  You have to start with digestible chunks and gradually build up from there.  Remember: How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!

Q.   “Write what you love” is one piece of advice you mention on your blog.  Specifically, you hit your stride when you realized that after growing up on a steady diet of monster flicks, the zombie apocalypse genre was right up your alley.

So in other words, aspiring writers should just be themselves and stop trying to be something they’re not?

A.   Yeah, pretty much. One simple lesson I try time and again to convey is that if you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.  What that means is that you have to love what you’re writing about.  I don’t mean simply loving zombies, so you write a zombie story.  I mean loving the life of being a cop with a family, and so you write a zombie story about a cop trying to fight his way home to his family on the first night of the zombie apocalypse.  You’ll see the same love in every writer you read, both the great ones and the hacks.  The point is that writing is all about getting your inner joy out there, even if the mood in which that joy conveys is tragic.  Simply put, if you don’t love it, nobody else will either.  It doesn’t matter what you’re interested in.  If you are crazy cool madly in love with ladybugs, and you write a murder mystery, or a romance, or a horror novel, or a science fiction space opera about how cool ladybugs are, your chances of successfully connecting with an audience just went up about ten thousand percent.  We don’t care what your interest is, just that you convince us that you love it, and that we should too…through your characters!

Q.   “Write what you know” is a phrase often heard in the literary world.  As a police officer, you know law enforcement procedure and it shows in your writing.  For example, when I discovered that Dead City involved a series of hurricanes, it didn’t surprise me to learn that you worked as a disaster mitigation specialist.

How else have you drawn on your police experience to bring greater detail to your writing?  And should aspiring scribes go out and get some experience in something, anything before they put pen to paper?

A.   Well, I have to be careful about that. My department has specific rules about writing for publication that prohibit me from writing on cases I have personally worked on and cases that have yet to be adjudicated.  You can imagine why.  Imagine being a rape victim.  You somehow work up the courage to report the rape, and you spend the afternoon pouring your soul and anger and all the rest of it out to a detective.  Now imagine that detective turns around and sells your story to some magazine somewhere.  Imagine the outrage and violation you would feel.  I take my oath as a cop very seriously, and that trust is a bond I will never break.

Still, I get quite a bit of mileage from the things I’ve learned on the job.  Being on the job you learn a lot about human nature, and that definitely helps with writing.  It also helps with creating a unique niche for my writing.  Lots of horror utilizes police procedure, but grudgingly, because most writers lack any firsthand knowledge of it.  Writers will create situations where the police have to make an appearance, and then they’re forced to tap dance until they find a reason to get rid of the police.  I see it all the time.  I don’t have that problem, though.  I would definitely recommend that all writers develop some kind of skillset like that, be it beekeeping or pot making or anything, really.

Q.   You hold a Master’s Degree in English Literature.  For anyone out there hoping to break into the literary world, do you recommend such a formal course of study?

A.   It worked for me, but I’m just one voice shouting in the wilderness. I know hundreds of writers, and they come from every profession imaginable.  Some are butchers; some are call girls.  Some are beekeepers; some are college professors.  Some are cowboys; some are stand up comedians.  One writer I know owns a barbeque restaurant in New Braunfels, Texas that serves the best braised beef short ribs you could possibly imagine.  It really doesn’t matter what your background is.  What does matter is that you love something so much that you want, want, need to fit it into a story.  Find that spark inside you, and the words will come.  I promise. 

Q.   OK.  Here’s a big question.  You’re a busy police officer.  On top of that, you’ve got a family.  And yet, amidst all of these important commitments, you have managed to have an amazing career as a writer.

Meanwhile, I don’t want to call myself a slacker, but one time I sat down with my laptop to write an epic masterpiece, got frustrated after the first few lines, then ended up watching a Steven Seagal movie marathon while devouring an entire box of Oreos instead.

Please, for myself, and anyone else who can’t get their act together, give us some tips on how to juggle work, family, other stuff that happens in life, and still find time to pursue writing.

A.   Any author who tells you every day is an orderly procession of getting the words on paper is a filthy liar. Some days are hard, even after you make a name for yourself.  Some days, the Oreos and movie marathons are what the body and soul need.  There’s no shame in that.

But you have to hold two seemingly disparate ideals in mind if you want to write professionally.  First, you have to have a love of craft and a determination to keep butt in chair that, frankly, defies human nature.  The kids are playing with the dogs in the backyard, and begging you to come join them.  There’s a lovely breeze blowing.  Your youngest looks at you with a smile you know won’t be there in her angsty teenage years.

But you have a deadline.

That kind of denial of human nature.  Bullheadedness, my wife calls it.  Maybe even assholery.  Yeah, it sucks that bad.

But how do you get to have problems like that?  Well, that comes with manageable word counts.  Seriously, folks, 500 words a day.  Treat everyday like it’s NaNoWriMo.  Do 500 words a day.  You can do it.  Outline first, figure out what you’re going to be writing during those precious few moments out of each day that you can spare for the keyboard, and then start typing.  Get the first draft done.  Don’t go back and edit what you wrote the day before, just push forward to the end.  Once you’re done, go back and edit.  That’s why they call them first drafts. 

Q.   Thanks for checking in, Joe.  Before I go, do you have any last minute advice that might help my friends and I survive the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

A.   Well, yes…obviously Cardio! Oh, and as a cop, I wholeheartedly recommend the double tap as well.  But after that: Be smart.  Be watchful.  Pay attention; it don’t cost nothing.  Take a good look around you every moment of every day.  Even if the apocalypse doesn’t come (and I think I’m not alone in kind of wishing that it would come), you will still have the observational aptitude to write about it.

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 12 (Part 3)

“Where to?”  VGRF asked.

“You know where, babe,”  I replied.

VGRF took a right onto Pondmore Road and from there it was smooth sailing.  An occasional zombie would take interest, but they were no match for a skilled driver.

Five minutes later, VGRF pulled up to a box shaped building.  The sign on the front read:

Decrepit Oaks

Our Seniors Put the “Do” in “Can-Do!”

“You’re going to risk our lives for your old ass aunt?”  Blandie asked.

“You know, Aunt Gertie used to talk about you all the time,”  I said.

Blandie perked up.  “Really?  What did she say?”

Aunt Gertie - Dead, missing, or zombified?

Aunt Gertie – Dead, missing, or zombified?

“That you’re shallow, materialistic and when it comes to relationships, you care more about what a man looks like than what he’s got going on inside.”

“And that’s a problem…why?”

“I give up, Blandie,”  I said.  “If you want to stay in the car, fine, but I need to check to see if the woman who raised me is still alive.”

“Fine.  I’m coming.”

I got out and Bernie passed Alien Jones to me.  The little guy was still exhausted from shooting a force field out of his body, so we were on our own for the rest of the day.  I threw him over my shoulder like he was an extra bag.  He didn’t weigh that much at all.

The gang grabbed our gear and we entered the old folks home.

Decrepit Oaks wasn’t so much a nursing home as it was an apartment building for old timers.  It catered to elderly folk who were still active, but needed some help with meals, cleaning, and so on.  I’m not sure my aunt even needed to live there but that’s what she wanted.  There were times when I thought Gertie might live long enough to bury us all.

Bernie and VGRF shined their flashlights.  The place was deserted.  Oddly though, everything appeared to be in immaculate condition.

We headed down the hallway to the residential section.

“Yo, y’all need to be hella careful,”  Bernie said.  “Some of these damn old peeps might look just like zombies.  You don’t wanna gank an old ass human by accident.”

“That’s partially accurate and partially offensive, Bern,”  I said.  “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“What’s her number?”  VGRF asked.

“Forty-nine.”

We walked and walked.  Along the way, a few apartment doors had been left open.

I peeked inside each one of them.  They were all nice and neat, beds freshly made, everything in order.

“Maybe they were able to evacuate in time?”  VGRF asked.

“I hope so,”  I said.

We reached forty-nine.  Gertie had given me a spare key.  I found it on my ring and opened the door.

The place was a mess.  The coffee table was turned up on its side.  Broken glass pieces were strewn everywhere.  A lamp was shattered on the floor.

From the bathroom came a loud moan.  I put Alien Jones down on Gertie’s bed, drew my gun, pointed it at the door, and nodded to Bernie, bidding him to open it.

Sure enough, a zombie ran out.  He’d once been a young man, late twenties, in combat fatigues.  Whoever he was, he was out of place at an old folks home.  I exploded his head with one shot.

Zombie attack!

Zombie attack!

I borrowed VGRF’s flashlight and entered the bathroom.  The floor and walls were soaked with blood.  In the tub, there was a ripped apart corpse.  It was so badly disfigured that it was unrecognizable.

VGRF put her hand on my shoulder.

“Is it…”

“I…I don’t know.  God I hope not.”

Bernie picked up the Esteemed Brainy One and carried him for me for awhile.

“What now?”  my friend asked.

“This place looks pretty safe,”  I said.  “Let’s clear all the rooms to be sure, lock the building up, then pick a room and spend the night.  We’ll consult Alien Jones on what to do next when he wakes up.”

“I can’t stay here,”  Blandie said.  “This whole place reeks of bengay and depression.”

“Then feel free to…”

“I know, I know,”  Blandie said.  “Wait in the car.  Fine.  Lead the way.”

An hour later we finished checking all the apartments and after discovering the building was zombie free, we locked the front and back doors, took over apartment one, the unit closest to the front door in case we had to make a break for it, and settled in.

“You guys get some sleep,”  I said as I took a seat on the couch.  “I’ll take first watch.”

Bernie stepped out of the bedroom and made some googly eyes at Blandie.

“The bed’s big enough to share if you catch my drift.”

“I’ll rip off any part of you that touches me, nerd,”  Blandie said as she walked into the bedroom and slammed the door in Bernie’s face.

“Shoties be trippin’ yo,” Bernie said.

He crashed on the floor.

VGRF snuggled up into my arm nook.

“Are you going to call another zombie author now?”  she asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “And a plot this thick requires not just any zombie author, but one of the most legendary zombie masters of all time!”

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 12 (Part 2)

“Grab the gear,”  Alien Jones said.  “We’re leaving.”

“Out there?  With those things?”  Blandie asked.  “No way!”

“You heard the human military leader,”  Alien Jones said.  “By tomorrow morning, this entire structure will be a pile of charred ash.  We can’t stay here.”

I picked up my bug out bag.  VGRF and Bernie did the same.

“What’s the plan, Esteemed Brainy One?” I asked.

The Compensator - when only a vehicle capable of depleting the oil reserves of a third world country will do.

The Compensator – when only a vehicle capable of depleting the oil reserves of a third world country will do.

“I sense there is a brand new, fully loaded Compensator Sports Utility Vehicle illegally parked across two handicapped parking spaces outside the nearby entrance.  It was formerly owned by what you humans would refer to as a ‘One Percenter Douche Bag.’  We will make our way to it, hit the open road, and improvise a further plan from there.”

“Can I have a gun?”  Blandie asked.

“You’ll shoot your foot off,”  I said.

“You let HIM have a gun,” Blandie said, pointing to Bernie.

“Good point,”  I said.

I pulled a spare pistol out of my waistband and handed it to her.  She handled it rather clumsily.

“So how do you take the safety off?  Is it just this little…”

BAM!

Blandie fired a shot right into the roof.

“Gimme that!”  I said as I took the piece back.  I searched around for a blunt instrument and handed her a trophy that read, ‘Blandie Settler:  Hipster Hutt Manager of the Year.’”

“You were manager of the year?”  I asked.

“Yeah,”  Blandie said.  “So?  What?  I can do stuff good!”

I opened the door.  That dumb, confused zombie was still bumping into the corner.  He was harmless, so I left him alone.

“I need new duds,”  my alien buddy said.

Hipster Alien

Hipster Alien

Alien Jones picked out some hipster wear – a white bucket hat, plaid cargo pants, a muscle shirt and oversized sunglasses.

“What planet are you from?”  Blandie asked.

“Oh, it doesn’t really matter,”  Alien Jones said as he adjusted his sunglasses.  “I doubt you’ve ever heard of it anyway.”

The little green guy punched a button on the space phone and the security gate lifted.  A throng of zombies poured in but were instantly vaporized when our tiny protector threw up his force field bubble.

“We only have five minutes,”  I explained to Blandie as we ran out of the store. “And whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH THE BUBBLE!”

Away we went, turning multiple bloodthirsty, brain hungry zombies into mist clouds until we hit the parking lot.  Alien Jones’ bubble began to flicker.

“There’s the douche-mobile!”  I shouted.

Alien Jones punched a button on his phone and the Compensator’s engine started and the doors unlocked.

“VGRF,”  I shouted.  “Take the wheel!”

The bubble passed out and so did my alien friend.  I scooped him up into the back seat then took the front passenger’s seat.  Blandie and Bernie got in the back.

The parking lot was quiet but as soon as VGRF backed the SUV up, zombie heads turned and they all converged on the vehicle.

“BQB you pussy!”  Blandie shouted.  “You’d let a girl drive?!”

I turned around to face Blandie.

“She’s not just any girl.  She’s the Goddamned Number One International Car Thief Mayhem Champion Ten Years in a row.”

I looked at VGRF.

“You got this baby.  Punch it!”

The Highest Ranking Car Thief Mayhem Champion in the World

The Highest Ranking Car Thief Mayhem Champion in the World

VGRF took off like she was in a stolen car, not just because she was, but because her nimble fingers had played out this scenario on her gaming console millions of times before.  She smashed through piles of the undead like they were nothing.  Blood and guts sprayed all over the window and she didn’t even flinch.  She just sprayed the cleaning fluid and ran the wipers.

She banged a right out of the lot and floored it down the mall access road.  Zombies chased along side the SUV, banging on the sides.  She swerved right and left, taking them all out.

Full steam ahead, VGRF sailed the big truck at 80 MPH down the road until she came across a gaggle of beasts blocking the way forward.  Too thick to slam through, she improvised.

“HANG ON!”  my sweetie yelled.

With expert precision, VGRF yanked the emergency hand brake up, swerved out and just barely missed the horde car as she took a right and headed down Main Street.

To our left was a steep hill.  More zombies ran down it and flanked the left side of the car.

VGRF rolled her window down and pulled a handgun out of her jacket pocket.  She shouted, “BREAK YOSELF, FOOL!” then took them all out.

“BQB?”

“Yeah Bernie?”

“I don’t wanna be rude but your old lady is givin’ me a mad chub right now, B.”

“Me too, Bernie.  Me too.”

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BQB’s Zombie Apocalypse Survivor’s Journal – Day 12 (Part 1)

“What are you up to Alien Jones?”  I asked.

“Consulting the human news reports,”  Alien Jones said as he surfed his space phone.

“Aww sweet,”  Bernie said as he cupped his hands and held them out from his chest, performing his best imitation of a stacked woman.  “Put on the channel that has that hot ass blonde chick with big titties!”

“Which one?”  Alien Jones asked.  “All human news outlets appear to require nothing of their reporters other than an attractive face and a copious bosom region.”

“Just pick one,”  I said.

Alien Jones pushed a button and put a news channel up on a holographic display so we could all watch it.  A television sized squared hovered in the middle of the room.

On it?  A female reporter, just as Bernie described.

Boo! Worst angle ever!

Boo! Worst angle ever!

“Hello.  I’m a Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties reporting live from West Randomtown.”

“Wow,”  VGRF said.  “It’s like they don’t even TRY to hide it anymore.”

“…where the military has established a forward operating base to respond to the zombie apocalypse in East Randomtown.”

The screen switched to the news room.  Walking, talking Ken doll Kurt Manley sat behind the Network News One desk, shuffling some papers to give the appearance that he was doing something important.

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  Kurt said.  “I see General Morganstern is with you.  What’s his assessment of the situation?  Just how dire are things in East Randomtown?”

General Thomas Morganstern

General Thomas Morganstern

The reporter held her mic under the face of the grizzly, war weary General Thomas Morganstern.  I recognized his gravelly voice from a number of war related news reports over the years.  He wore a finely starched uniform that was lousy with medals.

“Make no mistake about it, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  General Morganstern said.  “East Randomtown is filled to the brim with hideous, flesh eating monsters who’d rip your larynx out and swallow it whole as soon as look at you.”

“That sounds horrible,” the reporter interjected.

“It certainly does,”  General Morganstern continued.  “However, what your viewers need to be aware of, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties, is that the U.S. Army is here to keep the situation under control.  We’ve surrounded East Randomtown with our best and bravest, who are on standby to eradicate any zombie who dares attempt to shuffle over the town line.  Moreover, a series of coordinated air strikes are scheduled to begin bright and early tomorrow morning.”

“What’s the first target, General?”  the reporter asked.

“Well, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  the General said.  “Surely, you understand that normally I would not advertise over the public airwaves where we intend to hit the enemy.  However, since we’re only dealing with a bunch of dumbass zombies here, I can tell you the first strike will be on ground zero of the zombie apocalypse, the East Randomtown Mall.”

We all let out a collective gasp.  One of us emitted a panicked fart.  I swear it wasn’t me.  It probably wasn’t Alien Jones either as he doesn’t have a butt.  My guess is it was Bernie though I never did get closure on that one.

Back to the newsroom.

Kurt Manley, Network News One Anchor

Kurt Manley, Network News One Anchor

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties…”

“Yes, Kurt?”

“What about collateral damage?”  the anchorman asked.  “Surely there must be a few survivors left within the East Randomtown limits.”

Back to the base.

“Have you taken potential survivors into account, General?”  the reporter asked.

“Indeed we have, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  General Morgenstern replied.  “The public should rest assured that through a carefully conducted campaign of drone surveillance, we have concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are no more human beings left alive in East Randomtown.  Every last resident is either dead or has been turned into a hideous zombie.  Once we’ve softened up key positions through a series of bombing runs, our units will move in and clean the rest up.”

A bunch of forty-something ladies wearing pink bedazzled cat sweatshirts and blue denim sweatpants marched onto the scene, waving picket signs and shouting, “Save the Funky Hunks!  Save the Funky Hunks!”

Bernie was beside himself.

“People still love us!”  Bernie shouted.  “I knew it!”

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  Kurt said.  “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, Kurt,”  the reporter said.  “I’m going in to investigate.”

The reporter pulled aside one of the protestors.

“Excuse me, ma’am.  I’m a Hot Blonde Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties reporting for Network News One…”

“Oh yah!”  the lady responded with a thick North Dakotan accent, “I love the Network News One, dontcha know?”

“May I have your name?”

“I’m Mrs. Mary Flunderson of Bismarck and my friends and I represent the North Dakota Funky Hunks Fan Club.”

Marge Flunderson, Funky Hunks Superfan

Marge Flunderson, Funky Hunks Superfan

“The Funky Hunks?”  the reporter asked.

“Oh yah,”  Mary said.  “They were a real nice, polite duo of boys from the late 90’s and early 2000’s who rapped about wholesome topics like looking both ways before crossing the street and asking a girl for permission before you give her the old smooch-a-roo.”

“I don’t understand,”  the reporter said.  “What do they have to do anything?”

Mary pointed to her picket sign.  It had pictures of Bernie and I from back in the day, decked out in our rap gear, backwards hats and all.

Funky Hunks represent.

Funky Hunks represent.

“The Funky Hunks used to go by the names ‘Read N. Plenty’ and ‘MC Plotz’ but they’re really Bookshelf Q. Battler and Bernie Plotznick.  They’re both residents of East Randomtown and as soon as we heard about the zombie apocalypse, we drove all the way here to hold a candlelight vigil for those wonderful boys.”

“Does she realize you guys are just a tad younger than she is?”  VGRF asked.

“Hold on,”  I replied.  “Hear the woman out.”

“Our mothers loved the Funky Hunks and now we do too, thanks to streaming media, dontcha know?”

“Have you been getting residuals?”  I asked Bernie.

“Yeah,”  he said.  “The studio sends me a ten dollar check every year.”

“Where’s my check?”

“It’s uh…supposed to be for the both of us,”  Bernie said, sinking his head down.  “Sorry yo.”

“Oh,”  I said.  “That’s ok.  Keep it.  You need it.”

“The Army cannot blow up the East Randomtown mall,”  Mary said.  “BQB and Bernie are there right now!”

“How do you know this?”  the reporter asked.

“Have you ever read the Bookshelf Battle Blog, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties?”  Mary asked.

“No,”  the reporter answered.  “Is that even a real thing?”

“Yes,”  Mary said.  “It’s a blog with 3.5 readers operated by Mr. Battler.  He’s been keeping a zombie apocalypse survivor’s journal from day one.”

“I have noticed a slight uptick in readers lately,”  I said.  “It must be Mary and her buddies!”

Kurt put a concerned look on his face and intervened.

“Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties.”

“Kurt?”

“I’m told our in-studio technician is working to confirm the existence of this so-called ‘Bookshelf Battle Blog’ but in the meantime, what is General Morganstern’s reaction?”

“General Morganstern,”  the reporter said.  “In light of this claim that two former rappers are alive and inside the East Randomtown Mall, will you cancel tomorrow’s airstrike?”

“Absolutely not, Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  the General said.  “These forty-something year old ladies in blue denim stretch pants are mistaken.  We’ve researched the matter thoroughly.  Everyone in East Randomtown is either dead or a zombie.”

The military man raised his hands.

“Please disperse ladies!  There is nothing to see here!  Leave now or you will be arrested!”

Army dudes marched in and cleared the ladies out.

“Reporting live for Network News One, I’m a Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties, signing off.”

Back to the newsroom.

“Thank you Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,”  Kurt said.  “Next up, is your breakfast cereal trying to strangle you in your sleep?  Another Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties will give you the answer after this word from our sponsor…”

“Alien Jones,”  I said.  “Can you put up my blog stats?”

AJ punched a button and the Bookshelf Battle Blog stats were on screen.

“Whoa!”  I said.  “One million…two million…three million…THREE POINT FIVE MILLION AND….back to 3.5.  Everyone’s back to officially not giving a shit.”

“Better to have had readers and lost than to have never had readers at all,”  Alien Jones said.  “But I believe we have bigger problems.”

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