Undead Ultra (A Zombie Novel)
by Camille Picott
Publisher: Pixiu Press
Publication Date: April 7th 2016
Genre: Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies
Undead: a reanimated corpse with a craving for human flesh.
Ultramarathon: any footrace longer than a traditional marathon (26.2 miles).
For ultrarunners Kate and Frederico, a typical Saturday morning is spent pounding out a twenty- to thirty-mile “fun run.” It’s during one of their runs that an insidious illness descends upon northern California, turning humans into flesh-shredding zombies.
When Kate receives a desperate call from her son, Carter, she and Frederico flee their hometown and set out to help him. The only problem? Carter attends college over two hundred miles away and the freeways—clogged with car wrecks, zombies, and government blockades—are impassable. Running back roads and railroad tracks becomes their only means of travel, but neither of them has ever run so far before.
As pain, injuries, hunger, and fatigue plague them, getting to Carter and staying alive seem impossible. It’s either outrun the undead or become one of them, and for Kate, death is not an option.
At mile sixty-five, we reach the outskirts of a town named Willits. It’s a small town with barely five thousand people. We need to stop and forage for food. The knowledge makes my stomach queasy.
Something tickles the edge of my hearing. I put out an arm, halting Frederico.
“Do you hear that?” I whisper.
I tilt my head, straining my ears. After several seconds, I hear it again: low, wordless moans.
“Is it coming from the town?” I ask.
“I don’t think so. It sounds closer. Maybe up ahead on the tracks?” He brandishes his tire iron.
I pull out my railroad spike and screwdriver, gripping one in each hand. Slowing to a walk, we carefully advance. Part of me feels like we should switch off our headlamps, but I know that’s the scared, irrational part of my brain. With the zombies being blind, the headlamps will only give us an advantage.
Another two hundred yards, and we see them in the distance: three zombies standing to the side of the tracks. They walk in small, sightless circles, moaning softly. The light from our headlamps glosses them with the faintest illumination.
They look not unlike the homeless zombie we encountered outside of Cloverdale. All wear clothes that have seen better days. Each has a frame backpack and a sleeping bag.
They’re young, perhaps in their early twenties. One wears a beanie over dreadlocks. Another has a big forked beard he’s divided into two braids. The third wears a guitar slung in front of him.
They each have a ruddy, tanned face. They’re the faces of homeless young men who spend their days exposed to the elements. There’s a layer of grime on their skin and arms, more evidence that they spend their days without the common comforts of life.
The sight of the three men saddens me. What paths did they travel to end up here today?
“Kate,” Frederico says, “we may not have to forage in Willits.” He tilts his head toward the three zombies.
“You want to—what?” I whisper. “Roll the zombies?”
He shrugs. “I was thinking more along the line of spiking them and ransacking their packs.”
I stare at him flatly. “You want to roll the zombies.”
“You have to admit it has a nice ring: Zombie Rollers.”
Despite myself, I laugh softly. “You’re insane.”
“You want to run two hundred miles to Arcata. You’re insane.”
“Fuuuuck.” I tilt my head back, staring up at the spangling of stars. “We’re both insane.” I exhale sharply, then look my friend in the eye. “What the hell? I’m in.”
About the Author
Camille Picott has been writing novels since she was twelve. When she’s not working on a book, spending time with family, or whipping up a new vegetarian meal, you can find her trail running in Sonoma County, California.