Erin O'Riordan writes smart, whimsical erotica. Her erotic romance novel trilogy, Pagan Spirits, is now available. With her husband, she also writes crime novels. Visit her home page at www.aeess.com. Erin on Google+
Erin O'Riordan writes smart, whimsical erotica. Books 1 and 2 of her erotic romance novel series, Pagan Spirits, are now available. With her husband, she also writes crime novels. Visit her home page at www.aeess.com
Gravely Inanimated by Esther Wheelmaker - Zombie Fiction Excerpts
It has been
thirty years since England was plagued by zombies. Humans fear for
their lives while the dead kill the living.
cover of night, a man known only as Aeron hunts these creatures. On
one foggy evening he finds Lucille Knight's life in jeopardy and
Aeron's interest is instantly peaked when he saves the young lady.
will have competition when Lucy meets Lord Garrett Ashdown, son of
the Inventor, Earl Thomas.
drawn to the masked man and equally mysterious Lord. With one
concealing his true identity and the other hiding a ghastly
secret, she does not know which one is less dangerous.
Will she be
able to be with the man she chooses when she learns the awful truth?
limpedtoward me, bloody and
disfigured, a chaste moon slinging shadows against their lurching
fingers. Their crimson-splattered mouths were hungry for my flesh. A
few pulled the lower half of their bodies with their ashen, supple
faster than others; they must have fed recently. How I had been
stupid enough to head home from a friend’s house at such a late
hour baffled me now. Thirty years since the zombie apocalypse
and sixteen years since my birth meant I had grown up knowing what
should and should not be done.Yet
here I was. Fear caused me to think as clear as a drunkardbent
over a garbage pail.
though Queen Victoria had commanded a good majority of her soldiers
into the streets of England to protect her people, it still remained
a bloody mess. Some of us still lived with a false sense of security
screamed, the sound echoing off the brick buildings. The streets
were empty. Smart people were safe at home. The others were in
taverns dancing and drinking. I wondered if anyone heard me or if
everyone was ignoring me, as I had done so many times before.
water splashed against me as I ran. My boots kept my feet warm,
breath heavy against the cold. My hand caught my fall as I skidded
to the left, the back of my leather skirt ripping against a wooden
box I raced past. The whistle of a train broke through the sound of
death following close behind. I ran into a chain-linked fence, and
my rubber soles scrapedagainst
the stone road as I came to a halt. I had misjudged my aim. I had
meant to go down Lily Road, toward my house. Instead I went down
Dead End Road…literally.
back against the fence, I stared through my strands of shoddy
raspberry-colored hair and into the dead faces before me. Ten of
them. Slow and stupid, but large in numbers. The queen tried to keep
these diseased creatures under wraps. Over the last few months, they
began multiplying and soon became too much for our countries troops.
let out a petrified scream, but no soldiercame.
I imagined my neighbors shutting their windows and locking their
doors. Another attack wasn’t anythingnew,
and everyone depended on the Queen’smen
was, at the mercy of these demons, my black-and-white thigh-high
stockings slithering down from my ruffled petticoat. Even with
gloves covering my hands, the coolness of the steel gate behind me
dried blood covered the mouth of the zombie closest to me, and I
shut my eyes when his mouth showed teeth stained with yellow.
can’t see me, you can’t see me.” I mumbled a childish thought,
one would have when only a tot.
tenor of a thunderous grinding reverberated in my ears. I opened my
eyes. What sounded like the ringing of metal slicing through brittle
rock was a sword splitting the flesh and bone of the zombie in front
of me. I tried to back into the chain-linked fence, hoping to meld
into it and be free from the havoc before me. Blood doused my chest;
my eyebrows creased my forehead, my mouth deepening with a frown.
zombie with haggard brown pieces of hair staggered up to me. Her
hand crept toward my face. My muscles clenched, matching my
corset-tightened waist. I pressed the side of my face against the
steel to the point I knew it would leave an impression. Peeking
through the corner of my eye, I witnessed a blade strike her temple.
The blood of the monster squirted against me and I flinched.
hand grabbed my shoulder, and an arm came under me before I
experienced cool air sweeping against my sweaty face. The ground
became distant as I was lifted over the fence and to the open road
on the other side. My blood pumped with fright while I pounded the
body holding me, afraid I had been captured by another type of
monster. Arms grasped me closer as if I was Hades' captor,
Persephone, and we were crossing through to the underworld.
that or I’ll toss you back to be food.” He had an acute amorous
calloused hand was around my thigh and his other held my waist. The
rapid wind assaulted me as he took us both awayfrom
the zombies now obscured in my rear view.
being rescued by some pale stranger with long black hair hiding
behind a mask. Thoughts turned into a jumbled mess as I wondered if
I should scream for rescue or hold on tighter. How could I know if
he was truly here to help me or saved me only to murder me himself?
hard to see through it all, but I knew his eyes were boring into me.
My breath caught as I feared what we might run into with his vision
diverted. My face flushed while fear continued to sear through my
stomach with a stabbing sensation.
looking at me and start looking at where you are going!”
strange man’s face hardened in contrastto
his one high apple-shaped cheek bone I could see brushed with a
light pink color. One eye had a monocle between his eyebrow and
bottom lid, with two other monocles reaching up above the other.
Through the dark lenses, I thought I glimpsed a red eye similar to
those of the zombies.
dimpled cheeks creased into a smile. “Don’t worry, I can do
both,” he assured me, yet my heart still pummeled and the stinging
prickles against my skin gave no whisper of disappearing.
me down!” Between my endorphins running rapid, the shear shame of
needing saving, and my fear of this stranger, I decided to resort to
until he was at a jog. Now I could clearly see that his other eye
was protected by a mask covering half of his face. The plate was
made of leather with cog teeth at the bottom surrounded by a lighter
beige oxhide. It appeared menacing and didn’t help to drown my
dread in mud.
by zombie, die by running into a wall, they both leave my soul
No thank you?” He came to a stop, still holding me firmly.
tightened with a hardness I’d inherited from my father. “Thank
you, you silly boy.” I squirmed until he let me down. My knees
buckled and he caught me, helping to keep me upright. I tried to
push him away. “I don’t need your help.”
even budge. “It would not appear that way.” He crossed his arms
and cocked an eyebrow.
legs felt sturdy, I stepped back and glared straight into his
monocle. “I can take care of myself. Thank you for your help, but
please leave me be.” My hand searched inside my pocket for my
steam-ignited pistol, but I found nothing. I had left it on top of
my dresser at home. Bloody hell, I was more absent-headed than
his head, his hair swung back and forth, stark against his pale
face. “You are such a disappointment as a woman.”
“Pardon me?” My face pinched, and I clenched my fists.
heavily as if bored with me. “I am met with hostility even though
I saved your life.”
dare you! What is your name? I shall make it a sin to be spoken.”
braveness of his chuckle along with his grin made me step back.
“Aeron, and please make my name a sin to speak.
You are a ghastly mess and should be taught proper manners.”
feet planted on the pavement, I grew angry with the way Aeron spoke
to me. The desperate groan of the zombies had faded, and my house
was less than a block away. All I wanted to do was lay my head down
to meet my pillow.
you.” I tried to put more softness behind the words, but my
gritted teeth didn’t help. “I’ll be fine now.”
welcome, even though you are quite difficult.” Aeron’s words
sent bolts of electricity through my core. I turned around so he
wouldn’t see the rage on my face. “Try to keep yourself safe. I
won’t always be around to save you.” His nonchalance was
insulting, as if he thought I was a simpleton was loud and clear.
was so cocky! I didn’t need him, or anyone else, coming to my
rescue. If he hadn’t shown up, I would have figured a way out.
“I’ll be just fine!”
emptiness became apparent when the silence overcame the dim scenery
around me. He had gone without a goodbye, and I jogged the rest of
the way home. After removing the long chain from around my neck, I
picked out the correct key and unlocked the door. I lived with my
father and several servants in a double townhouse. We weren’t as
upper class as that Aeron man thought, but we were known well enough
throughout the city.
When I was
inside, I turned the golden knob to snap the lock back in place. Two
automated arms came over the door and clasped each other at the
mechanical wrists for extra security.
back. My head hit the hard wood of the door. I let out a breath.
Dragging my feet up the stairs, I almost made it to my room without
a hitch when a squeak from down the hall caught my attention.
evening, Father,” I said without looking.
many times are we going to have to go over this before I get it
through that thick skull of yours? Walking around after sunset is
dangerous, and you are forbidden to do so!”
bright smile, I went to him and wrapped my arms around his neck.
“I’m fine, Father. Look!” When I stepped back, I opened my
arms wide and did a circle. “See?”
hell, Lucy, look at you. Tights falling, skirt raised, hair
askew…What were you doing tonight?”
I should have fixed my clothing when I came in. “I was…I was
running home because I heard a noise.” Which was ten zombies
behind me, hungry for my brains. “I came from Emily’s house. I
lost track of ti—”
will help Olivia with the dishes after breakfast tomorrow!”
am sixteen years old, Father! You must stop treating me as though I
am a mere child!”
you are taking care of a husband of your own, you will do as I say.”
His mustache twitched. “Now go to bed!”
rumble of frustration, I stomped my foot and went off to my room.
The first thing I did was tear off my clothes, leaving them were
they landed, and changed into a long white gown before going to the
vanity and taking a brush to my knotted locks.
never talked about what happened when the zombies first rose, but I
knew he had been through a lot. A vast majority of England had been
wiped out when they first showed up.
zombies appeared to favor the night when partiers and drinkers were
susceptible. From watching several during the day, it did give the
impression that they were much weaker when the sun was up.
If it had
not been for the famous inventor Earl Thomas Ashdown and all of his
automatons, England would be nothing more than a feasting ground for
those disgusting creatures. When more time passed, his steam-powered
inventions became more advanced and helped us build an army that
could at least defend England from the zombies. However, with one
dead, it was as if three more emerged. As of late, it seemed that
more automatons were in need, and it had been over a year since a
new model was made.
stories about how the zombies came to be floated around. The most
popular story became the gossip of a voodoo queen who obtained the
souls of unsuspecting humans. It had been said that she captured the
victim’s shadow, and then, little by little, took hold of their
body until she possessed the entire person. The person would die,
and the voodoo queen would raise them from the grave later that
night to put them into a comatose trance. Which turned them into a
slave, needing only human brains, flesh, and blood to survive.
that, the voodoo queen’s curse passed from the zombie to whatever
human it drew blood from. One would become nothing more than an
animated corpse soon to haunt the streets in tattered rags without
any memory of whom or what they once were…or, at least, that
wasthe rumor. Soldiers searched
for the queen behind the wreckage, but not much was found to prove
no other explanation, and the Royal Family was known for their
secrets and keeping their people calm…well, calmer state by never
acknowledging such a person existed. I could imagine the riots that
would ensue, people searching any house they pleased to find out
where she was.
moment I stopped brushing my hair. I do wonder if their soul was
trapped inside their body, and they realize everything they are
doing even though they don’t really want to do it. They’re just
remnants of a person who once was, dreaming of death as their flesh
rots, entirely subservient and bound to the ascendancy of that
hadwhispered that they have seen
her. She was said to have on a ball gown made of spider web and
goblin silk, dirty matted hair twisted into dreadlocks, wild eyes
that flashed red when looked into directly and dark skin that was no
smoother than that of an alligator. Or so people alleged. I wasn’t
sure anyone could see such a woman and not fall over dead where they
stood! How ghastly it would be. I shuddered at the thought and put
my brush down.
was less speculationsince the
outbreak began in London instead of somewhere else around the world.
rubbed my temples, I felt my bay window beckoned to me. Sitting on
the thin cushion, I pressed my finger against the glass filled with
condensation and pushed open the French-style window. Zombies
hadyet to climb trees to get to
anyone so I didn’t fear my window being open.
see you are home safe.”
my mouth before a small yelp came from me. When I scanned the
street, I noticed Aeron leaning against a small tree. “Go away.”
I tried to keep my voice low so my father wouldn’t hear.
only wanted to make sure I had not gone out of my way for you to get
into trouble a few steps from your house, Miss
have read my surname off our plaque. Shaking my head, I pulled the
window shut and took to my bed, raising the covers high over my
body. “What an annoying boy.”
did save my life, the little voice in my head said as I stared up at
the canopy above.
Why did I
treat him so harshly when he only wanted to keep me alive? I turned
on my side and hugged my pillow tighter. Maybe it had been the
suddenness of it all. I became caught up in the moment, truly upset
with myself for being so naive and using him to take my anger out on
instead of berating myself. I was such a clever girl. He was still a
stupid boy though.