THE TURNING: Once bitten, it is imminent. Once tender flesh is parted by ravenous teeth dripping with decay and disease, it is truly only a matter of time. As friends and family members are forced into a brief period of hellish purgatory known as ‘the waiting’, only a single, agonizing question remains. What to do in that single, horrific moment when ‘The Turning’ becomes a reality?
CHOP SHOP: Enter a nightmarish realm where vital organs and body parts are bought and sold with shocking regularity; where the recently deceased and most assuredly damned vie for the freshest replacement parts the market can provide, and in return pay the highest price imaginable.
SLUG TRAIL: Once a well-renowned gumshoe with a reputation for using any means necessary to solve a case, Rutger ‘Slug Trail’ Cavander continues to ply his trade as the best private dick in dead-world. Hired by an enigmatic benefactor to track down a former mob boss in hiding, the cities most notorious undead detective is drawn into a tangled web of intrigue, mystery and mayhem while cruising the cadaver-laden streets of Zombie town.
THE REAL MONSTERS: People are apt to ponder why often times the good die young and horribly, while the truly evil amongst us are allowed a free ride into their golden years only to pass peacefully in the night. Witness a case to the extreme opposite side of said spectrum in this tale of purest retribution, wherein the vilest of all get their just due, and then some, from the most unlikely of sources…
HALLOW’S EVE: Phantom spirits have but a precious few hours within each calendar year to roam and mingle among the living, and while the vast majority are harmless and non-malevolent, many seize the opportunity to evoke horrors that go way beyond simple Halloween ‘pranks’….
THE WAITING ROOM: Hospital waiting rooms have often been referred to as the 21st Century equivalent to The Spanish Inquisition. Perhaps a bit overstated, though not if one refers to the following terror tale, as all those unfortunate enough to be labeled ‘patient’ inhabit a nightmarish realm of infinite ‘limbo’ filled with unimaginable horrors…
AUTHORS NOTE: 'The DEAD Effect' is Terry Lloyd Vinson's personal homage to the 'living dead' films of George Romero, and the fantastic worlds he created, along with a genre of cinematic horror that refuses to expire, so to speak.
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Tales of The Zombie...or for soap opera fans, perhaps 'Days of The Dead' might be more appropriate.
They possess no pulse, nor a heartbeat. Their lungs have long since discarded the need to regulate oxygen. Logical thought escapes them, as does such common emotional states as happiness, sadness, or depression. The age-old weaknesses of man, such as lust, greed, or envy, no longer apply. Yet they walk. They desire. They pursue…relentlessly. They hunger...insatiably…infinitely. Spawned by a deadly, mysterious plague that ravaged the earth’s population seemingly overnight, the reanimated dead soon dominated the landscape, relegating those unfortunate enough to be labeled ‘survivor’ to permanent ‘prey’ status. Enter, if you dare, a merciless, gore-drenched realm where walking cadaver’s rule, while the living have fallen to the lowest rung on the planetary food chain. Read for yourselves the grisly yet strangely enticing elements that make up ‘The DEAD Effect’…. Fourteen 'dead-fests' in all, to include:
THE GRAVE CANYON: In terms of popularity, it ranks as one of the United State’s most visited landmarks, a vacation destination taken by millions each year. Why, even a world-wide plague that eradicated the majority of humanity cannot quell the instinct of the passionate, determined tourist, as DEATH, indeed, takes a holiday….
Taken from the short tale, 'OLD STOMPING GROUNDS'
Tendons stretch. Ligaments tear. Bones creak as hairline cracks spread like a freshly spun spider’s web. Regardless, The THING shambles forward, driven by an unrelenting urge; a gnawing hunger that refuses to abate. The hunger is all The THING knows-all it understands-all it answers to.
It is The THING’S universal reason for being. It is the sole priority in a world once littered with a million separate agendas. The precious life source it seeks is a rare find indeed, much like an ancient relic buried within a rocky mountainside. Time has dwindled this precious resource to an almost nonexistent commodity, forcing those damned souls driven by the unstoppable urge to feed to seek out nourishment atop not only unfamiliar terrain, but also old haunts long since dismissed.
Still, regardless of such overwhelming, insurmountable odds, the search will not-cannot be abandoned, for The THING exists only to search out, discover and consume this elusive rarity.
The heart of the city has long-since emptied, leaving little behind save an army of lifeless husks and a landscape littered with hollowed out structures that paint the horizon like an apocalyptic mural.
The metal gate is spread wide, allowing just enough room for The THING to squeeze through. Its right forearm scraps across a hanging strand of razor wire, peeling away jagged strips of decayed, mummified flesh. The THING glances back briefly but feels neither physical or emotional pain over such a loss. Being that its limbs, torso and exposed organs have long since hardened, fossilized, or simply dropped off, this doesn’t exactly fall under the category of dire straights. It knows not what drives it towards its mystery destination.
Acting on primal instinct is not a chosen behavior, but simply the only option available since its pulse faded and its battered mind lost the power of independent thought.
The THING ambles through a caged sally port, past several abandoned ton- and- a- half trucks and scattered piles of jagged bone and tattered clothing As The THING makes its way down a winding catwalk towards a gray, two-story concrete building with smooth, window-less walls, it peers upward at a metal overhang which reads ‘BOLEN Cryogenics INC – Main Building’. Reaching up to scratch its bald, scab-infested dome, The THING pauses in mid-stumble and tilts its misshapen head to one side, as if struck by a sudden thought or impulse As is normally the case in such a rare occurrence, the faint vibe fades almost instantly. There is no time for such nonsensical drivel, its hollowed-out gut relays, not when there is still the hunger to feed.
The glass double-door entrance stands ajar and is smeared with the aged residue of spilled bodily fluids. The THING sniffs one of the metal handles as if to officially eliminate it as a drawing source, even giving it the obligatory lick before spitting a dark brown splotch onto the dusty tile flooring below.
Passing a circular, marble-based console littered with soiled computer monitors, keypads and assorted blown trash, The THING soon finds itself posed at the cusp of separate elevators, centered by a tiny numerical keyboard mounted between each.
Initially, The THING attempts to pry elevator one’s doors apart by wedging its skeletal fingers into the sparse space provided between creases, but quickly realizes the futility of such efforts.
Stepping forward, it peers at the keypad through one blackened eye, the pupil of which is plum red and shrouded in slug-like tumors the color of coal.
After a short pause, The THING reveals a hideous grin while slapping its palms together in drunken glee.
Reaching forward with one bony forefinger, it expertly pokes out a six-digit code before backing away as if expecting an impending explosion.
Elevator one immediately begins to sputter and hum as the single door slides back as if slightly off-track.
The THING steps through just as the door slides securely back into place behind it, narrowly missing trapping its jagged left heel in the process.