The New Dead

The New Dead

3.8 47
by Christopher Golden, Max Brooks, Joe Hill, Tad Williams

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The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in back yards, car lots, shopping malls. They devour neighbors, dogs and police officers. And they are here to stay. The real question is, what are you going to do about it? How will you survive?


Stoker-award-winning author



The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in back yards, car lots, shopping malls. They devour neighbors, dogs and police officers. And they are here to stay. The real question is, what are you going to do about it? How will you survive?


Stoker-award-winning author Christopher Golden has assembled an original anthology of never-before-published zombie stories from an eclectic array of today's hottest writers. Inside there are stories about military might in the wake of an outbreak, survival in a wasted wasteland, the ardor of falling in love with a zombie, and a family outing at the circus. Here is a collection of new views on death and resurrection.

With stories from Joe Hill, John Connolly, Max Brooks, Kelley Armstrong, Tad Williams, David Wellington, David Liss, Aimee Bender, Jonathan Maberry, and many others, this is a wildly diverse and entertaining collection...the Last Word on the New Dead.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This powerful anthology shines a bright and unflinching light on the fears of death, decay, and loss that underpin America's longstanding obsession with the undead.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Publishers Weekly
The 19 provocative, haunting, and genuinely unsettling original stories in this zombie anthology move the genre beyond its usual apocalyptic wastelands. David Liss’s novelette “What Maisie Knew” is a stunning and gruesome meditation on the banality of capitalism and evil. Mike Carey’s “Second Wind” is a haunting tale of an undead stockbroker who comes to question whether he ever truly lived. Lovers of more traditional zombie fare will also not be disappointed. Joe Hill’s ingenious “Twittering from the Circus of the Dead” tells a classic slasher film story through Twitter posts, while Jonathan Maberry’s heartbreaking “Family Business” describes a ruined America populated by kindly monks and zombie hunters. This powerful anthology shines a bright and unflinching light on the fears of death, decay, and loss that underpin America’s longstanding obsession with the undead. (Feb.)

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St. Martin's Press
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Read an Excerpt

What Maisie Knew

A Novella

By David Liss

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 David Liss
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-55971-7




There was never a time when keeping Maisie in the apartment felt right to me. It was always a bad deal, right from the get-go, but there were no good deals, and this was the least-bad deal going. I couldn't let her stay out in the world, knowing what she knew, blurting out what she did. It probably would have been fine if I'd left it alone, but I could not live with guarantee. It was the chance that things would not be fine that nagged at me, that kept me awake at night, that made me jump every time the phone rang. I had a wife I loved, and we had a child on the way. I had a life, and I wanted to keep it. A person can't live like that, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and so I did the only thing I could do — the only thing I could think of. It was the right call, but it just so happened that it didn't turn out the way I wanted.

It should have been fine. Everything I knew about reanimates told me it should be fine. I'd been around them almost all my life. My parents could barely make car payments, but they rushed out to buy a Series One from General Reanimation when they first came on the market. Kids growing up today can't even imagine what those early models were like — buggy and twitchy, with those ugly uniforms, like weird green tuxedos. I was only five at the time, and the reanimate creeped the hell out of me when it would lumber into my room to check on me at night or when it would babysit while my parents were out. I still remember watching it shamble toward me, a TV dinner clutched hard in its shaky hands. I wasn't phobic the way some people are. I simply didn't like them. Dead people should remain dead. That's one of those things that always made sense, maybe now more than ever.

So I hated going to that apartment where I kept my dead girl, which, on top of everything else, was hard to afford and which I had to hide from my wife, who managed most of the household finances. I'd have rather been anywhere else — at the dentist, the DMV, a tax audit, a prostate exam. But I was there, at the apartment. I opened the front door and walked in, smelled the weird chemical smell that reanimates emitted, and the feeling washed over me that I had no business being there. My name was on the lease, but I felt like an intruder.

It was a crappy apartment on the cusp of the very wrong side of town, cheap, but not too dangerous. It was a one bedroom — more space than Maisie needed, since she supposedly didn't need any space at all. She wasn't supposed to, but I always wondered. Sometime when I came to check on her, the chairs around the cheap kitchen table would look out of place. I always pushed my chairs in, but these were pulled out at odd angles or even halfway across the floor, as though advertising that they'd been moved. I supposed there was nothing wrong with her taking a seat or moving things around if that was what she wanted to do, but she wasn't supposed to want to do it. That's what bothered me.

When I went in that day, she was standing precisely where I last left her, her back to the far wall of the living area, her face to the door, light from the slightly parted curtains streaming over her. I watched the dust motes dance around her eyes, visible through the mask, wide and doll-like and unblinking.

Maisie was a black-market reanimate, but she wore the green-and-white uniform of a licensed General Reanimation unit, and of course she wore that matching green-and-white mask, which made her look, to my eyes, like a Mexican wrestler. Plenty of people, even people who liked having reanimates around, found the mask a bit disconcerting, but they all admitted it was better than the alternative. No one wants to check into a hotel and discover that the reanimate bellboy is one's own dead relative. No one wants to go to a cocktail party and see a dead spouse offering a tray of shrimp pâté on ciabatta.

I hated the uniform — slick and stain resistant, made of some sort of soft plastic. It was oversized and baggy, making it almost impossible to tell that Maisie was female. I hated the full-face mask, but I had her wear it in case there was a fire or the building manager had to send in a repairman to fix something or even if there was a break-in. I didn't want anyone knowing I owned an illegal reanimate. I didn't need that kind of trouble.

I stepped into the apartment and closed the door behind me. "Hello, Maisie. You may take off the mask if you like."

She remained motionless, as still as a mannequin.

"Maisie, please take off the mask."

With her left hand, she reached up and pulled it off but held on to it. I hadn't told her to put it anywhere, and so letting it go would not occur to her dead brain. Underneath the mask, I saw her face, pale and puffy, hanging loose from her skull, but strangely still pretty. She had long, flowing curls of reddish blond hair, her pale blue eyes — I'm sure very arresting in life — dull and cloudy in un-death.

I came to check in on Maisie maybe once a week. I should not have to, of course. I ought to have been able to leave her alone for months, but I knew it was a good idea for reanimates to get some exercise lest they gum up. That was part of it. The other part was that I wanted to be sure she wasn't up to no good. Renanimates weren't supposed to have it in them to be up to no good, but if she hadn't been Maisie, had not acted like herself, she wouldn't be in the apartment to begin with.

"How have you been, Maisie?"

Of course there was no response. What was left of her brain couldn't process so abstract a question. That's what Ryan said, and he seemed to think he knew what he was talking about.

"Maisie, get me a beer from the refrigerator."

I could get my own beer, of course, but I needed to find excuses to make her move. I had to specify one from the refrigerator because otherwise she might get me a warm one from the pantry or she might end up looking for a beer in the medicine cabinet.

Maisie walked off to the kitchen. I followed but only for something to do. I was always bored and uneasy when I came to the apartment. I felt strange, like I was playacting for some invisible audience, like I was a grown-up furtively trying to recapture the magic of childhood toys. Nothing I said to her or did with her felt natural. Christ, I could talk to a dog and feel less like I was talking to myself. That's why I kept the visits so short. I would drink the beer, order her to do some light cleaning, and then get out of there.

I was thinking about how much I wanted to leave, how much I wanted to get back to my wife, when I walked into the kitchen and saw the fresh-cut flowers on the kitchen table. They were a gaudy assortment of cheap dyed daisies, but they were bright and fresh, very new. They'd been arranged carelessly, and water from the vase puddled on the table. Here's the thing: I had not put the flowers there.

No one else had a key — no one other than the apartment-complex manager or the super. Neither of them had any business in my apartment, and if they did have something important to do, they would have called first. (They had my cell-phone number, since I sure as hell didn't want my wife to know I had an apartment, let alone an apartment where I kept my black-market reanimate.) Even if they had not called first, neither the manager nor the super was about to leave a vase filled with flowers on my kitchen table.

Maisie was now closing the refrigerator and handing me a beer. She did not open the bottle, because I had not asked her to open it. That was how they worked. They did not do anything you did not ask them to do. So where had these flowers come from?

I twisted the cap off the beer and looked at Maisie, who, in the absence of orders, remained perfectly still. "Maisie, where did these flowers come from?"

She stared at me. It was a difficult question for a reanimate, I realized, even as I spoke it. Too abstract. I tried again.

"Maisie, did you put the flowers there?"

It was a yes-or-no question, and she should have been able to answer it, but she said nothing.

"Maisie, answer the question. Did you put those flowers there?"

Again, silence. Dark, looming, unblinking silence. It was like demanding answers from a stuffed animal. No; our genetic, animistic impulses gave speaking to a stuffed animal a sort of logic. This was like demanding answers from a bowl of rice.

I took a long drink from my beer and sighed. This was serious. More than serious. It wasn't just that maybe my reanimate, which wasn't supposed to want anything, somehow wanted flowers. It meant that she had somehow gotten out of the apartment, gone to the store, spent money — money she'd earned from what or stolen from whom? Had she managed to bring it with her from the Pine Box? It meant a whole spiraling vortex of Maisie chaos, and I had to know. I had to.

"Maisie," I said. "Go into the bedroom, remove your clothes, and lie on your back on the bed."

The first thing I need to make clear is that I am not a pervert. I don't have any desire to have sex with reanimates. Given the choice between sex with a reanimate or sex with a real woman, I'll take the real woman every time. Hell, given the choice between sex with a reanimate and no sex, I'd go without sex — at least for a good long while. Like S and M or rubber fetishes or whatever, if you're not into it naturally, it's hard to fake the enthusiasm. If you meet some amazingly hot woman, and she says, "Sure, let's have sex, only I want to tie you up and stick needles in your dick," you're probably going to, with however much regret, take a rain check. Unless you like that sort of thing. Plenty of guys like sex with reanimates. They prefer them to real women. It floats their boat. It does not float mine.

That said, I should point out that in most ways it's kind of like sex with anyone else. It has some unique qualities but also lacks some things that make sex with a living woman enjoyable — for example, that unique sensation of having sex with someone you know is alive. So, if you are looking at it objectively, it's a trade-off. That day, I look at it objectively. I didn't want to have sex with her. I wanted to have sex with my wife and no one else. I liked sex with my wife. Sure, I would look at an attractive woman when I saw one on the street, but I wasn't about to make any moves. There had been some parties, some business trips, where I'd felt opportunities opening, but I never pursued them. I was in love with Tori. I was happy and I didn't need complications and problems and guilt and lies.

If you are like most people, there are probably a lot of things you don't know about reanimates. Ryan says you are happier that way. He says the less you have to think about what they are, the easier it is to ignore them, to enjoy the convenience. Ryan says you probably don't know much about their history, for example, because there's no percentage in knowing the history. You also probably don't know much about their nature, and that's a whole other thing. There's a percentage in that one for you. The key thing that I'm getting at is that reanimates have a greater clarity of thought when their feelings are intensified. You can tease out this clarity either with pain or with sex — at least with the females. I'm told it is impossible for the males to have sex, not unless the penis is artificially inflated. There are rumors of male reanimate sex slaves with permanent, surgically crafted boners, but I'm not entirely sure this is true.

Reanimates are totally different creatures during sex. This is a big part of why guys who like to sleep with them get off on it. Also, probably because they are willing and compliant sex slaves whose needs and preferences can be handily dismissed. Then again, some guys just dig the fact that they're dead. But for most of the true enthusiasts, the main thing is that reanimates are hungry for it. They start to feel things, they start to remember themselves, and they — well, I hate to be crass, but the bottom line is that they fuck hungry and hard, and some guys just love it. Not me. It made me feel unclean, like I'd been exposed to something vile and rotting. Even now I don't like thinking about it in too much detail, and the less I say about the particulars, the better.

Adulthood, however, means doing things you don't want to do. So I had sex with Maisie. As soon as I slid into her, it was like a switch flipped inside her soul. She was something else, something vibrant and powerful — something that felt not alive but rather live, like a storm of a mass of building electricity. That was how she'd been when I'd had sex with her at the Pine Box. She groaned and moaned and murmured. She thrust her hips up at me with a shocking, awkward violence. I didn't want to be there any longer than I had to, so I waited until she seemed good and worked up, and then I asked, "Maisie, did you get those flowers?"

"Fuck off, you asshole."

I guess saying that she surprised me is an understatement. I leaped off of her in astonishment and fear, and I lost — shall we say — my will to continue. She, in turn, fell back on the bed like a puppet with her strings cut. Just like that, she faded back to her normal, stupefied, lifeless self — still and naked and slightly bloated, not breathing hard like I was, since reanimates did not respirate — looking at nothing, and thinking, I was sure, about nothing.

I began to gather up my clothes. "Maisie, get dressed," I said, "and come sit at the kitchen table."

She complied.

I am a nice guy. I like children and animals. I don't especially like violent movies, so what came next wasn't something I enjoyed. It wasn't something that came naturally to me. It was, however, something I had to do. I thought it over. I looked at all sides of it and tried to find another way, but it just wasn't there.

When Maisie sat at the kitchen table, I told her to place her right arm on the table, on top of a thick bathroom towel. Then I asked her to roll up the sleeve of her uniform. With the puffy, pale flesh of her forearm exposed, I grabbed her wrist in one hand and, with the other, thrust a sharp kitchen knife into her arm, just above the elbow.

I've never stabbed a living person, but I'm pretty sure it feels different. Her flesh offered almost no resistance. It was like stabbing wet dough. I felt the knife nick the bone, but it kept going, all the way through, and I felt the tip of the blade make contact with the towel.

Ryan says that pain works as well as sex, but sex, troubling though it is, bothers me less than torture. Anyone who might begin to think that I was a bad person should keep that in mind. I went for pain only when I had no choice.

Maisie did not scream. She did not stand or pull away or fight. Instead, she looked at me and winced. "You asshole motherfucker."

"Maisie, did you put those flowers there? How did you get them? How did you pay for them?"

Her eyes were now wide and moist, almost clear, almost like a living woman's. The lids fluttered in something like a blink. Her mouth was slightly open, and her usually gray lips were taking on some color.

"Fuck you, Walter," she said without much inflection.

I twisted the knife in the wound. I could feel the flesh pulling and tearing, twisting along with the knife. "Maisie, how did you do it? How did you get the flowers?"

She let out a cry of pain, and then gritted her teeth together in a sick smile. "The more you fuck me, the more you torture me, the more I can think, and all I think about is giving you what you deserve. And it doesn't all go away. Each time I get a little stronger."

I yanked out the knife.

Six months earlier, I was a different man. I was, at least, not a man who could have imagined he would someday soon be torturing his illegal reanimate just after having sex with her, but life throws you curveballs. That's for sure.

Things were pretty good, and they were getting better. I was married to a woman more wonderful and clever and creative than I ever thought would look twice at me. I swear I'd fallen in love with Tori the first time I saw her at a birthday party for a mutual friend, and I could never quite believe my good fortune that she'd fallen for me.

Tori was a cellist with the local symphony. How's that for cool? She was not, perhaps, the most accomplished musician in the world, which was fine by me. I did not want her perpetually on the road, receiving accolades wherever she went, being adored by men far wealthier, better looking, and more intelligent than I. She'd long since given up on dreams of cello stardom and was now happy to be able to make a living doing something she loved. And Tori was pregnant. We'd only just found out, and it was too early to tell anyone, but we were both excited. I was apprehensive too. I think most men are more uneasy about their first child than they like to admit, but I also thought it would be an adventure. It would be an adventure I went through with Tori, and surely that was good enough for me.


Excerpted from What Maisie Knew by David Liss. Copyright © 2010 David Liss. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Christopher Golden is the award-winning author of many bestselling books including Waking Nightmares, Of Saints and Shadows, Of Masques and Martyrs, and The Myth Hunters. He has also written books for teens and young adults, including Soulless and Poison Ink. His novels have been published in fourteen languages. Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he continues to live with his family.

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The New Dead 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
grgoyal More than 1 year ago
I was expecting way more than i should have with his book. I guess with zombie stories you should devote a whole book and not just a few chapters. Many of the stories were boring and unexciting. I had read many of brian keenes books and looked forward to reading some other authors but i was disappointed with the stories. I would rather buy a book that is devoted entirely to the characters and become enthralled in the story than read short stories that dont even get down to meat and bones. I personally would never get another anthology again it was a waste of my time and money ill stick to the novels. Just wasnt my cup of tea. I dont recommend it at all
Mr_Gower More than 1 year ago
New Dead was a good book, I say good, but not great...I only say this because in the last year I have immersed myself in Zombie fiction, and though some of the stories in the book really jumped out at me as awesomely original "Twittering From the Circus of the Dead", others left me feeling less that satisfied and looking for more, more, more, much like the risen dead that fill these pages. I'd like to mention a couple of stories here that really got to me. Lazarus by John Connolly: Brilliant take on a tale we have all heard, but never seen from the right perspective...Family Business: Eerily touching in the fact that life is so normal for the characters who barely knew what the real world was like, and think they have a handle on reality...and like I said, Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill: The most original Zombie story I have ever read, taking a minutes old, new form of media to tell a tale in which you are still scared out of your pants! ... Other Authors worth mention for their work in the volume, Max Brooks (Of Course!) Tad Williams, and David Wellington (GO READ HIS ONLINE ZOMBIE NOVELS!!!) I highly recommend this volume if you are into Zombie fiction and all of the ins and outs that covers...Believe me there are more than I ever realized. DSM a.k.a Mr. Gower
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
I can say I have had my fill of zombies for the time being. And this collection of zombie short stories fills it to the brim. I found THE NEW DEAD; an assortment of zombie themed stories very interesting. Each varied from the ordinary, slow moving, flesh eating, undead walking the earth type of tale. My favorite was "Family Business" by Jonathan Maberry. I thought I wouldn't get into the twitter story of the family on vacation and going to the circus, but "Twittering from the Circus of the Dead" by Joe Hill was entertaining; even if I don't tweet. There were others that didn't quite grab my interest. Overall, though, this anthology seems to hit the mark.
SteveDeg More than 1 year ago
Christopher Golden has put together a collection of the popular zombie/undead short stories , that rivals any anthology. A book packed with some of the best story tellers. New views on death and resurrection . Some with political attitudes, love, and family grief. A special story by Joe Hill with a spin on Twitter. One of my favorites Rick Hautala. A few bizarre stories to rock your nights. Highly recommended read. Grab this book and read. Fans of The Walking Dead will enjoy this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this is dull, drawn out, and a series of short stories that has not caught my interest... they are the new dead....
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