by Ricky Fleet
Where did my obsession with horror come from, and more specifically my love for all things ‘Zombie Apocalypse’? I took it as a personal challenge to circumvent the repressive age ratings on the horror movies of my generation (aided and abetted by my fantastic mother). I can still remember the first time I noticed the ‘top shelf’ horrors, their enticing front covers calling out to be read, but out of reach of young hands like a dodgy porno magazine. Much begging and offers of doing any chore, no matter how mundane, ensued. Eventually the battle of wills was won, by my mother, and my rebellion was halted for a couple of years (I was only about 9 so fair play mum)
I never stopped looking for action and gore and the comics of 2000AD and Sir Judge of Dredd satiated me for a while. But, like any addiction, the cravings returned and the mocking VHS cases laughed at me every time I walked past, their growing variety of macabre art yearning to be looked at more closely. I redoubled my efforts, cutting grass, washing up, anything to tip the scales in my favor and finally (somewhat reluctantly) she hired Zombie, by Lucio Fulci. The mechanisms in the player accepted the nervous offering and what followed was ninety minutes of terrified awe. The zombies were so disgustingly realistic, and would form my definition of the walking dead for the rest of my life. After accepting I didn’t have nightmares following the showing, she was willing to hire more of the available titles. I didn’t ever have the heart to tell her I just kept quiet about them.
My collection grew and titles like City of the Living Dead, Zombie 2, The Beyond and more lined my shelves. It didn’t take long for another director to catch my attention; George A Romero. I watched the trilogy in order and the breakdown of society as the world crumbled spoke to me on a primal level. I loved the desperation of the survivors, the trials and tribulations they faced with an enemy that never tired or slept. It was the sheer remorselessness of the zombies that I grew to adore; there is no ego, no respite, no compunction about eating their own loved ones, just one collective thought: Feed.
A love for movies turned into a love for horror literature and I have read most of the works of King, Koontz, Laymon, Laws, Lumley, Hutson, Herbert etc. My first dabble into zombie fiction was the amazing World War Z by Max Brooks. By the way, **** you Brad Pitt and anyone that was involved in the monstrosity that was WWZ the movie! Anyway, one of the tales that has stuck with me was the Battle of Yonkers. The full might of the US military brought to bear on a shambling unarmed horde, with catastrophic results as the zombies just marched right through the shells, missiles, lasers and bullets to reach the warm flesh. I guess as a writer, I subconsciously avoided the other great zombie authors like Shelman, Chesser, Tufo, Evans, Rosamilia in case I saw my story staring back at me from the pages. Thankfully it hasn’t happened (yet) and I find myself loving the different ideas of what the ZomPoc would be for different people.
I would class myself as one of the crazies, and my first thought when going anywhere is; how do I get out of here if the dead rise? I have a fully fleshed out survival plan should the apocalypse ever arrive, but it is just as likely something would go wrong and I would lose my family. Death would be a welcome relief from that pain and I would happily walk the earth forever by their side, flesh peeling from my undead bones.
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Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He has a Masters Degree in education and he taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of many short stories including work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5, Zombies More Recent Dead, Shadows Over Mainstreet, and Truth or Dare. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer. He also wrote the novels Loose Ends and Time Eaters. He is one of the four authors behind the Hellmouth trilogy. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. Jay Wilburn is a regular columnist with Dark Moon Digest. Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope as @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com