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Title: Strange: A Dark and Surreal Collection
Author: Mark Taylor
Genre: Horror, Surrealism
Are dreams made of jello or of blackened hearts? What are the four shadows? From a career defined by darkness comes the unexplained, the unbelievable and the shocking.
Mark Taylor’s Strange is a collection of six. Six tales of woe, six tales of terror, six layers of hate. But more, so much more, they are the answers in the darkness, the shades no longer grey…or are they?
Within the trials of Networking and the totalitarian Total Entertainment are the terrifying consequences of technology, and Eternal Light sees the world extinct. Inside and Elizabeth toy with the mind, and that just leaves Dead Game where you might like what you find.
Come, come and visit…come and play…where we are all a little…Strange.
“Welcome to the Consternation Lounge.”
The calm, soothing voice of the Company echoed along the corridor as the door slid open silently. Massi looked to the ceiling as he listened to it. It was supposed to be a woman, but it was a machine. You could tell.
On the other side of the door a woman waited. She was real, he surmised. She was wearing a slim close-fitting trouser suit, her blond hair tied in a tight bunch at the back of her head. “Mr. Rubens?” She asked, smiling pleasantly, but she knew exactly who he was.
“Yes.” He returned the smile.
“Is this your first time?” The woman stepped forward and held out her hand to show him the way. She couldn’t touch him. That wasn’t allowed. Massi nodded and let her guide him. She led him across the shiny metal floor of the suite—perfectly smooth—his bare feet padding on the warm surface, to the single reclined booth. “There’s nothing to worry about. Have you experienced any of Absorption Entertainment’s catalogue?”
He eyed the booth nervously. “Yeah. ‘Bout two years back I tried one of the Darcy line. The booth looked different to this though.”
“Yes,” the woman nodded, “with each scenario the expected physical reaction is different. Darcy is a much mellower journey.”
“So, what will happen this time?”
“Oh, there really is nothing to worry about.” She gestured to the seat in the booth, “Please. I’ll set up the Experience.”
Massi pushed his doubts aside and slid into the booth, sitting back. This was too expensive to change your mind at the last minute. And besides, it was Absorption Entertainment. The last entertainment company left.
“Now,” she said, “as you have done this before do you want me to run through the procedures?” When he shook his head she continued. “When the play begins your vision will be altered, but not be too disoriented by it. If the last time you rented an Experience was two years ago, you should notice the wonder of the new Integrated Cerebral Platform,” She looked him in the eyes—she was attractive enough that he could have been aroused by her doing so, but she was staring deep beyond his face—looking into him.
“How long will it last?” he asked.
“Around two hours.” She smiled and tilted her head to the side like an air stewardess pandering to a frightened flier.
Then she was gone.
Massi had blinked from one reality to another.
The area smelled wretched. He couldn’t tell when or where he was, but the soft ground was covered in slicks of oil and grime. It looked like the pictures he had seen from the war. From within the darkness came a shuffling of feet…a mutter…followed by several moans.
The woman watched Massi’s vitals as he sank into The Experience, his fingers curling unconsciously around the arms of the booth. She slipped her hand into the Communications Imprint Device, the CIm-Dev, and interfaced with AI. “Client Rubens 4071 is in play.” A holographic countdown coagulated into being above Massi’s twitching body. It read 01:58:15.
She would return when his story was finished.
Mark Taylor’s debut novel crash landed on planet earth in 2013. Its dark brooding style benchmarked his writing and has led to further releases of novel and short story collection alike.
While most of Mark’s work is macabre, occasion has it that he will write about kittens and daisies. Just not very often.
Some say he is a product of his environment, others, a product of his own imagination.
©Mark Taylor, 2015. All rights reserved.
By Rebecca Besser
By default most people think that the biggest threat during a Z-poc would be zombies. At first, that might be true. At first it will be the zombies, then it will be basic human stupidity in dealing the zombies, then it will be those stupid people turning into zombies, and if you survive all that… What’s next? Survival.
Survival in and of itself has a lot of dangers. Have you tried to live and sustain your life (and your family’s) without a decent shelter for more than a weekend camping trip? Can you even function without electricity and running water for more than a week? Or prepackaged food for more than a couple of days?
Most of you are probably sitting there thinking: “Pfft! Yeah, I’m tough!”
But what if the world went to shit in the dead of winter and you had no heat, no running water, and little food that you could gather without being able to run to the store? Can you even make a fire without matches?
Keeping yourself warm and fed are going to be the next dangers you’re going to have to face.
Yes, you will face other people, but that’s only if you survive long enough to do so.
More than likely, half (or more) of the human survivors that don’t become zombies would die from the cold or starvation.
Another half of what’s left would probably die of disease or infection from wounds or accidental injuries.
Now, let’s just say it’s not winter or you live in a warm climate… The number of people who would die from freezing would decrease, but instead dehydration or a sickness brought on by drinking contaminated water would increase. (After all, you could melt snow for water and that could help for a while.) Throw in heat exhaustion, low blood sugar, and the untellable other health issues anyone could have from living constantly in a harsh environment without adequate supplies…death is assured for most.
Granted, with that many people out of the way, prepacked food and bottled water sources will be overly plentiful, but you’ll more than likely have to fight for them.
That’s more injuries, more dehydration, more zombies, and more other people who want the same things and don’t want to share.
Most zombie entertainment doesn’t show you some of these aspects because they need their characters to live so they have a story to tell. We all know that real life isn’t that forgiving and we can’t all be that lucky.
We get mesmerized by those who survive in zombie entertainment because we like to imagine ourselves as them, being smart enough or lucky enough to beat the odds of ALL the things that could go wrong and are stacked against us.
But real life isn’t fiction. I don’t think there would be near the numbers we would hope for of survivors should something as global as a Z-poc happen.
And don’t even start to argue – it would be global with human stupidity and people doing so much traveling (it has been demonstrated in many stories and scenarios).
After thinking about all that could go wrong, and all that could kill you, I pose to you the question I asked my husband the other day:
Would you rather be a zombie or a survivor?
©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.
John O’Brien’s Teaser for #WinterofZombie!
Teaser from A New World: Untold Stories 2
Then, almost as if a switch had been thrown, everything went quiet. No one responded to queries, no one issued ongoing situational reports. The printers fell silent and no more messages arrived on the monitors. All heads stared at their screens and then, one by one, turned toward him. It was as if the world had drawn a deep breath, ready to unleash horror upon exhale. Joe heard startled screams that erupted in a chilling fashion down the hallways and from the adjacent rooms. The held breath was expelled, releasing terror upon on an unsuspecting world.
The heads that had been watching him following the sudden cessation of communications turned sharply toward an entrance situated in the middle of one wall. The two Marine guards posted there looked at the closed steel double doors, as if they could see what…
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Shut the Damn Door
By Rebecca Besser
Recently, while watching Fear the Walking Dead, I found myself completely annoyed with the stupidity of humanity. In situations where people don’t know what’s going on or what to do, they tend to make the stupidest of decisions. Like leaving the damn doors open behind themselves when they leave the house and, by doing so, allow a zombie to get into their house.
I was literally screaming at the TV, calling the people idiots for not shutting the door to their house when they left.
My husband said, “You would do the same thing.”
I responded with, “No, I wouldn’t.”
Why wouldn’t I? Because I’m not stupid enough to leave everything open to someone or something that might harm me or my family. Hell, I’m allergic to cats so I shut the door every time I step outside so that one doesn’t sneak in while I’m not looking. I even shut the door so as not to allow bugs in because mosquitoes love me! I sure as hell wouldn’t leave the door to my house open if I thought anything even remotely close to zombies were running around outside. In that case, I wouldn’t leave the house unarmed. And I’d damn well shut the damn door.
Smart people don’t leave their secure, safe place open to just anyone or anything. That’s how people get hurt and die.
Yes, I’m aware people would be in denial, just like the characters of the show I just mentioned. But, they stared the dangers in the face (at least a couple of them did) prior to the incident. They made the mistake of not telling the third person in their party (who hadn’t witnessed what was going on) blind to the entire situation, hence the door being left open by that person. Hence the risk to all their lives.
Luckily they all managed to survive, even though that third person I mentioned finally came face to face with the danger no one would tell her about at the risk of her life. She managed to escape…barely.
You’re probably wondering why the writers would make their characters so naïve. Frankly, it’s because writers want a reaction from you. Example: Me screaming at the TV. They want you to feel something for the characters or about the characters. That’s how they get readership/watchers. Writers want the characters to be relatable in some way.
Even if you’re not stupid enough to leave the door to your house open during the Z-poc, I’m sure you know someone who is dumb enough to do so. Human beings will always be in denial of the biggest threats that face them. Those that survive in the hard times will be the people who are strong, decisive, and cautious (or the people who are protected by such a person). All the others will find their demise one way or another.
So, shut the damn door and survive. Protect yourself and your own. Be a strong survivor whatever the danger that’s staring you in the face.
©Rebecca Besser, 2015. All rights reserved.