Eli is the author of Dead Trees, Dead Trees 2, Mastic, DRAG.N, The Water is Sweeter, Z-Children Awakening, and is a contributor to the following anthologies: Let’s Scare Cancer to Death, benefitting the V Foundation, State of Horror: New Jersey, State of Horror: Illinois, & Fading Hope. Her books are available in eBook, paperback, & audio formats.
Eli lives in Virginia with her husband and three daughters.
Over the past decade, Eli attended several universities- USC-L, Columbia College, Texas A&M, George Mason U- and studied everything from Mariculture to Material Science to Differential Equations. Settling on Biology, Eli participated in research fellowships in Texas and at NIH in Maryland until she finally settled into a lab in Sterling, VA where she focused herself on mastering diagnosis procedures and implementations of histology and pathology.
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Ben has been teaching Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) continually since 1981 when he joined the USAF as a “Survival Instructor”.
Members of the Rangers, Green Berets, Para-rescue, Combat Control, Navy SEALs, Air Force Crew Members and MARSOC have all been his students. Outside the military, he has taught people from the DEA, Local Law Enforcement, Department of Natural Resources, the FBI, and other Federal Agencies. With over 12 years in the disaster mitigation and security fields, his advice on the development of advanced survival systems is irreplaceable and his knowledge of the physical and psychological aspects of both manmade and natural disasters is unparalleled in the survival world.
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Cover & Blurb
Focusing on the terminal building instead of the lonely plane and tents, I saw them. They were near the concourse of the tarmac. They seemed to be…
I had to swallow, wet my suddenly dry throat, but I could not because there was no moisture left in my mouth; just the desert, just the discomfort. They seemed to be playing some kind of game. The Nikons were good, but not powerful enough to make out the details of their movements.
There was a lot of them—running, opening and closing their mouths as if they were shouting. I saw it then, the pale orb that bounced about on the ground, rolling quickly from beast to beast, routinely being punted in the opposite direction. Each kick seemed deliberate, not just for sport, but also with the aim of hitting another of the Z kids. Each time it struck one of the monsters, it seemed to leave a splash of fluid behind.
A soccer ball. That had to be what it was. The dark coloring I was seeing against the pale expanse was the telltale decoration of your average, everyday soccer ball.
Soccer meant to hurt, the ball meant to slam into shoulders and faces.
But still a game.
Still a damn game. Still something a human child would be doing.
Looking out the driver’s side window, my gaze went to the clouds in the sky; they were slowly rolling by like pale honey across an uneven countertop. They were so normal, like the child’s play, so unobtrusively reminiscent of what it would be like to have a calm day with everything operating as it should. They were unassuming, wispy things that made me hate the world as it was now so much more than I had just seconds before staring at their movement against the pale blue.
I set the binoculars on the dash of the truck, looked around, and rolled down the window. I needed to see closer. I needed more detail.
Carefully, I lifted the .06 from the floorboards and rested it on the half-down glass. The old gun was now sporting a very powerful variable scope, one of those that I never could have afforded before the world went to shit. Couldn’t afford it now—except through the generosity of Jesse. I spun the scope’s dial up to its maximum 24 power and looked through the eyeglass. I had bore-sighted it with a laser while I was in the shop, but until I pulled the trigger, I wouldn’t know exactly where the round would land. I only knew that the end game of its journey would be damn close to the bullseye.
I had to take a few moments to get it sharply focused, but soon my prey became realized in crystal clarity. They were still playing their monstrous amalgam of dodge ball and soccer. There were adults wandering closer to the game now, and when one ventured too near the sport, a Z kid seemed to take great delight in knocking them to the ground and trampling across their bodies.
There were so many things I wanted to know watching the scene. Where did they get the ball? Could things get anymore fucked up? I tried to focus on the actual ball, but it was going by so fast now—a blur of black and white becoming gray—like the tiny orb in a pinball machine.
That’s what it was.
It was zombie pinball.
I started to imagine the dinging as the ball was launched to and fro. Ding. Ding. Ding. Waiting for one of them to miss or waiting for the ball to disappear into some unseen hole and then magically reappear.
So messed up.
I blinked, prepared to give up on following the ball’s movement.
Then it rolled to a stop.
I stared at it, blinked again, and took a mental breath that did nothing to steady me.
*Can you guess what the ‘ball’ is? Not some black and white orb pumped up with air (unless the original owner of the ‘ball’ was decidedly empty-headed)… Got the mental picture now? Yes? Can we say that maybe my dad and I are totally twisted? Yes. Yes, I think we can.*
To further solidify how very fucked-up in the head we are, let’s go on to the second excerpt:
Refocusing my gaze and my weapon, I saw, in morbid clarity, what I was facing. And it was a nightmare. A Cirque du Freak that overshadowed any horror I’d yet seen. It was an apparition straight out of a filmmaker’s most bizarre and unsettling dream. The most disturbing film come to life to haunt the living.
Not just a Z kid, but a Siamese twin Z.
They were conjoined at the hip and, in unison, both heads turned and snarled at me; the sounds the twins made were identical, a chorus of hunger and predatory excitement. One head let out a gut-wrenching cry that rocked me to my core and the second focused on me with murder in its eyes. Then it leaped, leaving the two by four window barrier in an arc that was amazingly graceful and coordinated despite its four legs. Its mouths opened and closed. Opened. Closed. The teeth were stained crimson and black. The eyes were pale, catching flashes of light that turned them glossy white as it sailed towards me in a death flight.
This time I was ready, and I did not miss.
The gun barked three times, the open slide working flawlessly as it fed one round after another into the chamber. The right head of the creature exploded in an obsidian spray of fluid and gray matter. The second and third rounds burrowed into the conjoined Z’s chest, leaving small, but no-less damning wounds.
Unceremoniously, the creature fell to the ground. The uninjured head, like a fish out of water, gasped and clung to life with ferocity.
Yeah… not just zombie children, but conjoined twins. CONJOINED TWINS... I will have nightmares later. Better find your nightlight before you begin reading this one!
Happy reading my little book whores!
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