Publisher: Severed Press (27 June 2013)
Paperback: 230 pages
Translated and published by Luzifer-Verlag in Germany, available for pre-orders as of 19 September 2013.
The biggest assist was from author and friend James Robert Smith (THE FLOCK, THE LIVING END, THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH, etc.) who dropped a dime on me to Gary Lucas of Severed Press. I had run 17 of the 25 chapters of BLEEDING KANSAS on my website when I got the email from Severed Press asking if I’d like them to publish it. (I’ve since taken those chapters down.)
My son, James Aiken, Photoshopped the zombies onto my front cover, which was a photograph on which I’d overdriven the hues for a painterly effect. He got their colors and even their shadows to fit the surroundings.
Derek Grace knew the years of unemployment might make him a little “off,”
As the dead rise to feast on the flesh of the living, they create another kind of career opportunity. One perfectly suited for a man deeply embittered by the realities of modern American life. A man in need of getting his rage on.
For Derek, fall only traded one form of fear and misery for another—but at least among the predatory dead, there’s a chance for freedom. As soon as he can find a way across 600 miles of undead-infested Kansas back to civilization’s what’s left of his family. Assuming they’re still there….
Derek Grace is good at what he does now. Crazy good. Derek Samuel Grace, a former nobody out of nowhere, arises from the gore-splattered wreckage to make his bones as the Dead Silencer in BLEEDING KANSAS.
All of Kansas City seems to be pouring out of the side streets to swarm us. Three or more will be bold enough to punch through the glass to get at us. I imagine the rest tearing at the sheets of safety glass, heedless of injury (hell, it just pisses them off more), reaching in with lacerated hands and pulling us out by whatever those hands grab first. How many mouths, how many sets of teeth will cover our bodies, from our faces, eyes, ears, arms, legs? How much will we actually suffer, our beings torn away a single mouthful at a time, before death takes mercy on us?
Fortunately, Gitmo seems satisfied with my reaction. “Yes. Yes, we are all guilty of living in the bubble. We live our lives, just trying to pay our bills, you know? Other men you never see are pulling strings, and they pit us against each other, brown versus white, man against woman, gay and straight, while they sit back and laugh. I’ll be honest with you, Mr. Grace. I look at the muertos and I realize even they are victims. They were once people, our people! But whoever came up with the Final Flu denies us even the peace of the grave! And, as always, turns us against each other.”
This from the man who got a bunch of white kids drunk and sent them off to get killed by their social betters. “All right, then,” I say carefully. “What do we do now? You realize we can’t hang around here.”
“No,” says Gitmo, “we can’t. I tell you, I understand one more thing Kerch did not. You can’t take on thirty to fifty thousand of the dead with a few dozen people. Not at a hundred per day, and sure as hell not at a thousand a day! We can run and cull herds here and there, sure, but you are always losing people doing this. Always! There are simply too many! We will run out of people before you put all the muertos down. This all belongs to them at last. All of it!”
As the rumbling fades, Rebecca pulls back her weapon. That ridiculous 14-inch barrel against her shoulder, she says, “It would seem you and I are a lot alike, Mr. Grace.”
“Fuck you! When you kill, you’re killing the same man over and over again. I’m killing all kinds of people!”
“Success for me, right now,” I say, “would be to hit the road and never interact with another living human for the rest of my natural life.”
“And that, Mr. Dead Silencer, is the one thing you will fail at. You can’t escape the world.”
“Oh for God’s sake, Rebecca, the world ended about a week ago!”
“Not at all. It was just born.” She smiles coldly. “It’ll take a while to find its feet but believe me, in one more year or so you might wish I had killed you.”
“If it ever comes to that I’ll be happy to handle it myself.”
It pleases me no end that the people who have reacted most negatively to BLEEDING KANSAS in the Amazon reviews were reacting primarily to the character of Derek Grace. Your standard-issue hero of your standard-issue zombie apocalypse has no personality to react to whatsoever; he’s just a guy with some guns who shoots the zombies, end of story, The narrative of BLEEDING KANSAS has color, depth, and texture. The people who inhabit this book have backstories, and those backstories inform their attitudes and actions. BLEEDING KANSAS is two-fisted adventure in a zompocalypse vein first and foremost, but there’s some serious salt and butter on that popcorn. No artificial crap.
Words from the author (aka L Roy Aiken)
I’m a native of Columbia, South Carolina, who has lived in California, Japan, and Alaska. I’m currently camped in Colorado Springs, hoping to raise the money necessary to move back to South Carolina. (Colorado is fine, but I miss my people.)
I graduated from the University of South Carolina, where I studied poets and poetry under James Dickey, and literature, philosophy, earth science, and advanced alcohol consumption with a host of even shadier characters.
I published a zine for nine and one-half years (1988-1997) called Rockin’ Roy’s Rage ‘n’ Romance! which featured fiction, poetry and commentary. (I brought it back as a website in 2011.)
I’ve been a cold shear operator at a steel mill, a restaurant QA, a comic book store manager, a grossing assistant in a pathology lab, and a stay-at-home dad.
I enjoy eating, drinking, and sex with my wife. when I’m not tearing some poor soul apart and having them eaten alive on paper.
My Amazon Author’s Page, if anyone gives a shit, is here.