This book has a little bit of a lot of things - romance, adventure, fun, danger, a touch of the paranormal, and a hint of the inspirational - but it has nothing gory. It's not that kind of zombie book. This is a stand-alone, full-length novel with a "happily ever after" ending. No cliffhanger, no items left unresolved for sequels. I want you to enjoy this experience and escape from real life for a while.
If you enjoyed the movie Warm Bodies, you should definitely try this book.
Thanks are due to my critique group, the Carolina Pantsers, as well as to the local #NaNoWriMo community (this was not one of my NaNo novels, I hasten to assure you. I started work on this in January 2015 and have written other things for NaNo.) because they're awesome, and having local authors to meet with on a regular basis is so very beneficial. Also, a lot of fun.
Through them, I found out about the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Without the connections I made there, I'd still be clueless and unpublished. Also, it was a lot of fun!
My husband is a saint. He's still here and my kids are still alive, so I call that a win.
(This is a look inside the beginning of Chapter Six.) (There are 32 chapters total)
There was, indeed, a holding pen of sorts, containing seven or eight of the Mindless. Karen shivered in remembered fear. They surged towards the near side of the pen, one of them right up against the door that was - she hoped - securely locked. Eyes vacant, faces blank, trying to walk through the bars. They didn't seem to know there were any. The hallway was filled with their grunts and groans as they kept pressing up against the bars, reaching out towards her.
She took a deep breath, releasing it in a slow quavery stream. They're contained. They can't hurt me. It's okay.
The cage protruded into the room by a foot or two, but seemed to be at least six feet deep. She frowned as she realized that behind the Mindless, she could see the outdoors, dimly lit by the overhead lights; the pen had apparently been built into the wall. It was hard to tell, but it had to be sticking out on both sides. Probably more so on the far side. No wonder the air had been feeling cooler.
"You'd said that one of the monsters had captured you," Borsa commented casually. "I'd rather like to study it. Which one was it?"
Same one that talked to me - but you said I was imagining that, so gosh, maybe I hallucinated the whole thing. "I'm not certain," she said, softly.
"Perhaps you could remember the clothing it was wearing? That's often a useful way to identify them."
Off to the side, she saw a familiar sweatshirt, and glanced that way. Sweatshirt boy was standing a little apart from the others, looking right at her. Really seeing her. She felt... she didn't know, but it wasn't fear. She cocked her head, regarding him. He was different. Obviously. "Um, yeah. Let me think."
"They get agitated when people are here," Dr. Borsa said, slipping past her, moving all the way into the lab. She followed, cautiously. The opening was wide enough to allow them to stay well back from the outthrust arms. Borsa stopped a good three feet from the monsters at the bars. She moved further away from the cage, and he turned to face her. "We don't always have any of them in here. It's my own design for a holding pen. The specimens are loaded in through the door on the far side, so I don't have sweaty soldiers in here contaminating my lab. Then when I need to pull one for an experiment, there's another door on this side."
"The doors are locked, right?" She watched over his shoulder in fascination as the grunting and groaning and flailing around began to diminish.
"Oh, of course," Borsa said. "Not that it takes more than basic child-proofing, really."
"Seems efficient, having a pass-through cage," she commented, semi-randomly. The Mindless appeared to be losing interest in the good doctor. Karen decided she totally sympathized with them there. They were milling around now, no longer trying to walk through steel bars. Sweatshirt boy was still in the same place, though, looking at her. His face scrunched in what almost looked like concern.
She glanced back at the doctor, who was pointing out other features of his lab, oblivious to her distraction. "This is actually a two-part lab. This is my general work area, but there's another, more sterile space." He indicated the far wall, and Karen realized that it only spanned about half the room. No doors, though, so 'more sterile' really could not be much better.
"Over here, we have a gas chromatograph." He strode towards the half wall and the entrance to the second lab, naming various pieces of equipment. For a moment, she hung back, and drifted a little closer to the cage. Curious.
Sweatshirt boy was still watching her. "You... okay?"
His voice was very soft, but still, she didn't want the doctor noticing. She gave him a discreet thumbs-up, then waved a dismissive hand at him, frowning a little and pointing towards Borsa.
Sweatshirt boy looked where she pointed, then met her eyes again and nodded very slightly. He turned away, all expression draining back out of his face.
"You mustn't get too close," Borsa said, walking back across the lab floor.
She turned more fully towards the cage. "I'm not." They all looked the same, now. "Just trying to figure out which one it was that captured me. It was such a traumatic experience, I don't remember much. I'm not even sure it's here."