Tag Archives: long reads

The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse — Part 3 (Company)

To start at the beginning, please refer to The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse.

Jacob tied the ends of the bedsheets together into a makeshift rucksack for carrying whatever supplies he might be able to scrounge, and he yawned, rubbing tired eyes.  Molly’s words had haunted him throughout the night.  I wish you could hold me now and tell me everything is going to be okay.  He gathered the folded rucksack and looked through the windows.  The streets were doused in morning light, hopeful perhaps, were it not for the flesh-eaters that still crowded the reddened concrete.  Everything wasn’t going to be okay.

He paced back and forth, repeatedly emptying and reloading the bullet cartridge from his gun’s stock and checking his pocket for the room keycard, all to delay his departure.  The risks were too grave.  How would he succeed where so many had failed?  Breathing hard, Jacob eyed the kitchen sink and reminded himself that death was a guarantee if he stayed.  Only if he left was there a chance of survival, however small.  He whispered a prayer to a God he didn’t believe in.  Fuck the truth.  He needed allies more than ever, and maybe somewhere, somehow, someone was listening. Continue reading

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Embrace Failure.

You took a chance.  You ignored everyone who told you not to.  You tightened your belt, clenched your fists, and believed with all your heart that you were going to make your dreams a reality.  Each day demanded your blood, sweat, and tears.

And then, finally, after having invested so much into your dream, you encounter your first major failure.  Your book is fundamentally flawed, the writing barely a step above novice.  Your business model is unsustainable.  You didn’t pass the exam.

The thought of your failure is overwhelming.  Your breathing is constricted, your chest throbs with dull pain, your knees wobble.  You remember all the people who you told of your inevitable success.  You’re going to collapse.  What will they think?  Your failure is a big, lighted sign announcing to the world that they were right all along not to believe in you.  You think about how you aren’t special.  You think about how you should’ve fallen in line with the rest of them, just as you were meant to.  

Your legs buckle and you hit the floor.  The pain distracts you for a moment, and for that you are thankful, but the emotions catch up quickly.  Your face rests in a puddle of fresh tears.  You tried, and you failed.  It’s over.  It’s all over.

I’m here to tell you it’s not over.  

Get up from the floor and stand up straight.  Wipe your face dry with your sleeve.  Breathe in as deep as you can.  Cold air rushes into your lungs like an avalanche.  

Embrace your failure.  Learn to respect failure.  Your failure is a badge of honor — wear it with pride.  You attempted something great.

You seem calmer now.  Good.  Think about your project.  What did you do wrong?  How can you improve?  What have you learned?  If the answers don’t come easy, keep thinking — they will come.  Study.  Research.  Question.  

Why?  

You still want this.

Spent too much time already, too much energy already.

Don’t let laziness rule your future.  Few succeed overnight.  Remember what motivated you in the first place.  Remember the life that awaits you if you stop now.  Don’t let yourself post-rationalize.  Visualize everything.  Don’t hold back.  You still want this dream, dammit.

Can’t handle another failure.

Every failure makes you better if you make an effort to learn from your mistakes.  Failures are not dead ends.  Failures are steps forward.  With each failure, you inch closer and closer to your goal.  If you have not succeeded, then you are moving closer.  Always remember that.

It’s not over until you decide that it is.  

The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse – Part 2

Sorry for the delayed update!  Here’s a bit more from my Zombie novel.  If you haven’t read the first part, please refer to The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse.

Jacob paced back and forth, raking nervous fingers through his hair.  He had just dialed 911 from the landline, but all he got was static.  He tried other numbers – the police department, the fire department, the operator, a pizza place – and still, nothing.  Not a single outbound call was going through.

He found himself stealing frequent glances at the elevator.  The flesh-eater from the lobby would wake up soon, and he’d need to be ready if she found him again.  It was certainly plausible, given that her staff keycard granted her access to his floor.  Jacob cracked his knuckles with fresh conviction and pushed the sofa against the elevator doors to set up a blockade.  His defense would have to hold until the authorities arrived.  He collected chairs from each room, stacked them against one other atop the sofa, and taking another, brought it to the stairwell door and jammed it under the handle.  Satisfied with his improvisation, he made his way to the bathroom.

Jacob picked his gun off the floor and wiped it dry.  The weight of the weapon always surprised him, made him feel powerful, deliberate, somehow more in control, and moving back to the main room, he propped the gun at shoulder level and took practice aim between the two blockaded entrances.  He thought back to the nightmarish descent, the growls and whispers and snarls, and hoped that his mind had simply contrived a lie to distract him from his depression.  Still, it had all seemed so real.  After some time, he lowered the gun and began to search for his cell phone, looking under pillows and cabinets and in drawers, but to no avail, having hidden it in some forgettable nook when he first arrived.  Better hidden so that he wouldn’t give in to weakness and call Molly, he remembered.  He managed a laugh.  It was just as she had predicted: in the end, his pride would prove his downfall. Continue reading

The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse

Writing a zombie apocalypse novel to see where it takes me.  Having a lot of fun with it so far.  Sharing it for any curious readers out there.

Jacob slumped back in the Italian-marbled bathtub of his hotel suite and wept.  Seven days of self-imposed isolation.  Seven days with shades drawn, soundproofed windows, and with the floor all to himself.  Seven days since he left Molly to clear her stuff out of the apartment.  He picked up his gun and tracked the silver glean along its barrel.  Everything had gone to shit – the divorce had been finalized, he was still working the same banking career that he swore he would quit ten years ago – everything, but it was time to take control.  He cocked the gun, pressed the end of the barrel flat against his skull and shut his eyes, ready to pull the trigger.

Instead, he laughed.

He imagined Molly meeting up with some tall, handsome divorcee, one willing and able to have her biological children.  She would smile, he would smile, and she would talk about how terrible her ex-husband had been, he would pretend to care, and they would marry as soon as was socially acceptable.  Then she would finally get what she wanted.  Nine months later she’d be popping out a little screaming bastard for the whole world to cherish. Continue reading

Pride is a tool – use it wisely.

Fuck the haters, right?

That’s not a bad attitude to have, necessarily.  There are plenty of people in life — family, friends, and strangers — who will tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something.  Don’t fall prey to their negativity.  For reasons why, please refer back to my post, ‘CHASE YOUR FUCKING DREAMS’.

Pride is a complicated thing.  As a dreamer, pride can be what keeps you afloat in tough times, but, left unchecked, can also be what sinks you.

Here’s an extended personal example. Continue reading

Demand more out of life – you’re entitled to it.

Whether driven by a personal fear of failure, family pressure, or something else, most people make a crucial, endlessly frustrating mistake: they don’t demand enough out of life.

Let me try and put your existence into perspective here.

You were born into this world against staggeringly low odds. The typical human male ejaculate contains 150 million sperm cells, but you were the one that made it. You won the fucking lottery. Drill this into your head. You are a member of the privileged elite in a universe of infinite possibilities. It’s about damn time to act the part.

As children and teenagers and young adults, we imagine that we will eventually be important political figures, athletes, musicians, movie stars, astronauts, and adventurers – when we dream, it is unapologetically big – but somewhere along the developmental process, we begin to manage our expectations. Suddenly, the things we once wanted more than anything are too risky to pursue, and we are left in cubicles to plunk away at spreadsheets and contemplate the life that could have been. Continue reading

The Stars Don’t Shine in the City (Short Story)

Wrote this three years ago when I was in college.  I had just read about the fatal beating of an A-student in an inner city school in Chicago, and was deeply saddened by the event. It inspired me to write this. Hope you enjoy.

Jamal was coming home late.

His English teacher, Mr. Johnson, had delayed him after class to discuss his future.  Specifically, the possibility of a college education.  Even as Jamal approached the squalor of the projects, he allowed a small grin to creep up from the side of his mouth.  It was Mr. Johnson who had convinced Jamal to expect more from himself, who told him that he could be somebody, and so, in the midst of struggle, he began to rely heavily on his teacher for support.  He might even admit that he liked Mr. Johnson, and that was a rare thing.

Rarity defined Jamal – shambling under the weight of a stuffed backpack – his bookishness, his curiosity, all presented an unfamiliar image around these parts.  In a place where dreams were buried prematurely, his had survived for an unusually long time, enough to earn him the jealous scorn of peers who had relegated themselves to a life of small victories and even smaller expectations.

“Ay yo, check it – here comes that Steve Urkle lookin’ mothafucka.”

Jamal immediately recognized the slouching figures crowded ahead on the street corner.  Long ago, when they were kids, they used to play together.  Now they were entry-level thugs slinging drugs, thinking they were kings that had finally been given the crowns they rightfully deserved.  As Jamal walked past, he felt the violent burn of their judgments, a cigarette butt on the skin of his being, forcing him into a forward march, step-by-shameful-step.  He took care to remain submissive.  They would appreciate that.  Build up their ego a bit, he figured, and then they might ignore him.  In a way, Jamal understood their swagger.  To prosper on these streets demanded a different set of skills, and he didn’t blame them for what they did.  What use was an education when problems here were better solved at the smoking end of a pistol barrel or opiate pipe?  Intellectual sympathies notwithstanding, he pressed on past his would-be aggressors.

“Damn son, Mr. Johnson’s dick must taste like a mothafuckin’ haagen-daaz, huh?  Punk ass over there with him talkin’ bout all kinds of freaky shit, I bet.”  They began to orgasmically moan Mr. Johnson’s name: Damon.

Jamal kept his eyes glued to the pavement. Continue reading