Romance ain't dead...it's undead. In this thrilling zombie anthology, horror fans will finally get their fill of zombie-on-zombie action, zombie-human love, and zombie smut. Because why should vampires have all the fun?
This collection of never-before-published short stories includes:
--"Revanants Anonymous" by Francesca Lia Block: two zombies meet at a Revanants Anonymous meeting and when sparks fly they wonder how "dead" they really are
--"I Heart Brains" by Jaime Saare: a widow and a dead man get a second chance at love
--"Captive Hearts" by Brian Keene: zombie plagues can't stop a woman from caring for the man she loves
--"Everyone I Love is Dead" by Elizabeth Coldwell: what happens when your true love comes back from the dead--after you've already moved on with a new man?
--"Last Times at Ridgemont High" by Kilt Kilpatrick: an electrifying zombie romp
--and many more!
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|File size:||342 KB|
About the Author
LORI PERKINS is the Editorial Director of Ravenousromance.com, and president of L. Perkins Agency, a New York literary agency that specializes in horror, science fiction, fantasy, erotica and pop culture. She is the author of four nonfiction books and has edited a dozen anthologies.
LORI PERKINS is the Editorial Director of the website Ravenous Romance, and president of L. Perkins Agency, a New York literary agency that specializes in horror, science fiction, fantasy, erotica and pop culture. She is the author of nonfiction books and has edited anthologies including Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance.
Read an Excerpt
Hungry for your Love
An Anthology of Zombie Romance
By Lori Perkins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Ravenous Romance
All rights reserved.
ROMANCE AIN'T DEAD
I love my dead wife. Wait, let me rephrase that. I love my zombie wife. She's not dead or alive. She's reanimated, brought back from death after drowning in Lake Michigan this past summer.
I'd better explain.
My wife, Sheri, and I have been married for twenty years. We're in our late forties and live in Winnetka on Chicago's North Shore. We're quite wealthy. I owe my fortune to major successes in real estate while Sheri's fortune comes from her deceased parents' multibillion-dollar medical-supply company. Sheri's an only child and her trust-fund releases and six-figure dividend earnings blast into our joint bank account every quarter. Needless to say, we don't work day jobs. We enjoy our marriage full time.
I've never been in such love with a woman. We met in college. By chance, Sheri happened to be at a bar my friends and I frequented. When I first saw Sheri, I was sucker punched by Eros. She was amazing to me: short and curly blond hair, toned body with all the right curves, green eyes from another world. I'm eating my heart out just thinking about the first moment we met. When I first saw her, she stood out in vivid, living color while the world around her turned to grayscale. I've never seen anyone the same way. Since then, I've forgotten every woman I met before her and I've never looked back.
Sheri's my proof of love at first sight. Also, we've proven love ain't dead, even if my better half is considered dearly departed.
Sheri's demise and return to the world of the living started when we went to the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park. We hunkered down on the grass on a beautiful summer evening with a basket full of cheeses and prosciutto paired with bottles of Laeticia Pinot. We became tipsy while watching, and dancing to, Tony Bennett. It was a blast.
We returned home at midnight and Sheri wanted to stroll down to the sand of our beachfront property. When we reached the beach, she got the idea to go skinny-dipping. I declined because Lake Michigan is ice cold year-round. Even on the hottest days, this Great Lake is freezing.
Sheri said, "You're a freaking wimp, Bruce." She kicked off her heels and took off her blue Escada dress and undergarments. I laughed and sat on the sand with another bottle of red wine, admiring her sweet backside running toward the water. She squealed and dove under. She came up wet and smiling in the moonlight. She said the chilly dip sobered her up. I waved the bottle of wine at her.
I watched Sheri backstroke farther away from the beach. Then I heard the sound of an engine. Sheri asked me what the sound was and I wasn't sure.
Minutes later, the sound grew louder and I made out the shape of a yellow speedboat with its lights off, hauling ass in the moonlight. Before I could yell and summon Sheri back toward shore, the boat roared past our beach and nailed my wife in the head. The boat never stopped.
I dropped the wine bottle and ran to the water. I dove in and swam out to Sheri. I found her floating facedown in the water, bleeding from her head. I turned her over, screamed her name, but she never responded. I towed her back to shore and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She was DOA.
Sheri looked calm and restful in my arms. She didn't breathe and I couldn't hear her heartbeat. I assumed the boat had killed her on impact or she had drowned. Maybe a combo of both did it. Moments later, I rose and picked up Sheri in my arms. I carried her back to our mansion, remembering how I once carried her into our honeymoon suite. The memory was enough to break my heart to pieces.
Inside the dark house, I set Sheri down on a large Westchester leather sofa and covered her with a blanket. The room filled with moonlight. I walked in shock to retrieve my cell phone from the kitchen. I was about to call the cops when I heard the doorbell ring. I glanced at my watch and wondered who was at my front door at this hour. Soaking wet and shaking with cold and loss, I went to the door and flicked on the outside house lights.
To my surprise, I found my next-door neighbor, Doctor Wyclef Moliare, waiting for me. "Wyclef, what's going on? It's late."
"I heard screaming from your beach, Mister Bruce. Everything okay here, mon?"
I studied Wyclef. He wore khaki cargo pants with a bright white T-shirt emblazoned with artwork for a Chicago 5K Run, and no shoes. I always considered him a cool guy. A tall, mahogany-colored man with short dreads and about my age, Wyclef was a purebred Haitian. I remembered him as a real success story, coming to Illinois straight from Port-au-Prince as a teenager, later going to college and becoming a leading brain surgeon.
"Sheri's dead." I began crying. I hung my head, helpless to aid my beloved Sheri and helpless to stop sobbing.
"Take it easy, mon." Wyclef gave me a comforting hug before moving farther into my house with no regard to invite. Without looking at me, he said, "Where's your wife?"
I sniffled and wiped strings of snot from my cold nose. "She's ... she's in the living room. On the sofa."
I watched Wyclef dash for the living room. His speed and attitude alarmed me and I ran after him. In the living room, I found him kneeling next to my wife's body, checking her pulse and vitals. I felt an odd prickle when he threw the blanket off of her naked corpse. "Hey, Doc. Now, wait —"
"What happened?" Wyclef continued his appraisal of Sheri's body.
"She got hit by a boat. She was taking a midnight dip and some fucker in a speedboat nailed her."
"You get the numbers, make of da boat?"
"No." The thought of the asshole getting away made me crazy. "Whoever it was, was driving fast with lights off and just kept on truckin'. Probably didn't realize ..."
I started crying again, releasing big lost-love sobs as the weight of my soulmate's death crushed me. Through my tears, I saw Doctor Wyclef nodding and studying Sheri without looking at me. His physical inspection of my dead and nude wife unnerved me. I was thankful when he put the blanket back over her, tucking it around Sheri with a caring touch.
He got to his feet and looked at me. "How long ago this happen? When I hear the screams?"
I nodded and after a minute of wrestling with my overwhelming grief, I mustered coherent words. "Yeah. That was me screaming out there. Tried mouth-to-mouth, but she was gone."
"You call the police? Ambulance comin'?"
"No. You rang the doorbell before I got to my cell phone."
Wyclef looked down at me and grabbed my shoulders with his large hands giving me a tight squeeze. His dark brown eyes were wide and serious. "You love your wife, mon?"
"Of course. Christ, Wyclef. What kinda question is that?"
"Forget da hospital and police. They ain't gonna help this one. You want her back?"
I looked into those fierce Haitian eyes and wondered what the hell he was getting at. "I want her back more than anything. What are you saying?"
"I'm saying, my friend, I got ways to bring your loving wife back from da other side."
Losing Sheri and hearing my neighbor talk of reviving her from the grave was too much. I felt my legs weaken and Wyclef grabbed me and helped me to a leather chair. I hunched over and put my hands to my face. I breathed deep and regained control. "What in the name of Johnny Freaking Appleseed are you telling me? You sound like a goddamn nut."
Wyclef stood over me and laughed. It wasn't a malicious laugh, but it boomed and sounded scary even though the tone was lighthearted. He spoke in an assuring and baritone voice. "I can get her back. But we have to act quick and you got to believe. You believe in Vodou? You know, you call it Voodoo."
I wasn't sure how to answer this. Sheri and I are Jewish and never subscribed to any other religions or beliefs. To even consider anything related to witchcraft or being satanic was laughable and absurd to me. "No, Wyclef. I don't believe in that crap and I'm baffled as to why you're asking this. Sheri's dead and with God. I think it's time to call the cops and find out who killed her."
"Wait, mon. Listen." Wyclef maintained his deep and calm voice. "Before I came to da States, I was a teenage bokor. A witch doctor. That's what got me interested in medicine and led me down my path as a doctor and surgeon."
"A witch doctor?" I found this funny. I always respected Wyclef. He received hundreds of awards in medicine, escalating his reputation and accolades as one of the nation's most brilliant brain surgeons. Plus, the guy possessed great taste in food and music. I just couldn't see him dancing naked around a fire in Haiti, making zombies and shrunken heads. "You gotta be kidding me."
"I learned many old secrets growing up in Haiti. I learned secrets of the dead. I saw medical science coupled with the spirit world. I've made zombies and I've raised zombies from dead bodies whose souls have moved on to da other places."
Again, I couldn't imagine this. "You've got one of the most reputable practices in Chicago. What would happen if your clients or the press knew you practiced black magic?"
Wyclef smiled wide and revealed his large white teeth and the significant gap between his incisors. He didn't answer my question but said, "Did you know Chicago was founded by a Haitian-born black slave in the early seventeen hundreds?"
I shook my head.
"Ya. It's true, mon. Voodoo is nothing new to da North Shore. Though it's funny you won't find as many blacks living in the North Shore today as we once did in the seventeen hundreds. Ironic, no?"
I shrugged my shoulders, knowing wealth has a lot to do with the racial diversity being nil in the North Shore communities. I felt compelled to mention Lake Forest was chock full of ebony players in the Bulls and Bears, but I held my tongue.
"I go to my house and come back with what I need." Wyclef looked serious now. "You let me do my 'ting and you'll see, Mister Bruce."
I thought about it. I had nothing to lose. Either his absurd claim to bring my wife back would happen or it wouldn't. Then I'd call the cops and start making funeral arrangements. "All right. Get whatever you need. I'm a skeptical man, Wyclef. I'll try it your way and then I'm calling nine-one-one."
"I be right back." Wyclef's long legs carried him away.
I turned and looked down at Sheri. She looked at peace. With her relaxed features and her damp blond hair, she remained beautiful. I kissed her cold cheek. I told her how much I loved her. I told her how much she meant to me and how the world and my life would never be right without her. I began crying again and held her small body close to mine.
I was still holding Sheri when Wyclef returned. In one of his big arms, he carried a large cardboard box. In his opposite hand, he clutched a wooden cage with a clucking chicken in it. I thought of how the village of Winnetka didn't allow people to keep farm animals. I wondered where Wyclef got the chicken and where he kept it. Were there others? "Looks like you got your hands full."
Wyclef set the box and the cage down on the living room floor. He stepped away from his belongings and moved furniture and rugs until part of the hardwood floor was uncovered and bare.
"What're we doing?" I shivered, trying to imagine what we'd be doing on the floor. "You need anything?"
"Let's get Sheri on to da floor here." I laid Sheri down on the couch and stood up. Wyclef said, "I'll grab her feet and you take her by her top."
I walked around, knelt and eased my arms under Sheri and grabbed her by her armpits. At the count of three, Wyclef and I lifted my wife from the couch. She was light and easy to move. To my dismay, the blanket fell off her in the move and we placed her naked body on the floor. I was going to grab the blanket for her when Wyclef said, "Leave da blanket be, Mister Bruce. She gotta be naked to da world right now."
"Does your wife know where the fuck you are right now?" I blurted this without thinking, not meaning to inject such a hard tone in my delivery.
Wyclef smiled and placed his reassuring hands on my shoulders. "Mister Bruce, my wife knows where I be. She praying for Sheri. She sends good vibes here to help your wife come back."
I dropped my head, feeling bad and sad about all of this. "Sorry."
"No worries, mon."
He walked over to his box of tricks and his pet chicken. I watched him dig through his box. He returned with several large black candles and a mason jar full of dead flower petals. He set these items down and moved Sheri around on the floor, spreading her arms and legs wide, splaying her out on her back. I no longer felt weird or overprotective about what he was doing.
Wyclef placed the candles in specific spots all around Sheri's body. He lit the candles and soon the moonlit room filled with candlelight. I watched the doctor open the jar and sprinkle dead flower petals all over Sheri's naked body. He placed the empty jar on the floor and turned to me. "Mister Bruce, I want you to sit and hold her head in your hands."
Before I could ask why, he turned away to retrieve his caged chicken. I did as instructed and sat between two candles with my legs crossed and looked down at the top of Sheri's head and her upside-down face. With a loving touch, I cupped the back and sides of Sheri's head with my hands and stroked her beautiful face with my thumbs.
Wyclef returned and set the cage on the floor next to me. The chicken inside clucked away, cocking its head in every direction. I watched him remove his shirt. His ripped upper torso shined in the candlelight. He opened the cage and removed the chicken. Then he said something to the bird in a foreign language. I watched with disgust as he gripped the chicken's neck with his large fist before snapping his arm and decapitating it.
"Jesus Christ, Doc. What the hell are you doing?"
Wyclef ignored me. He seemed to be in his own world.
I continued holding Sheri's head while watching Wyclef with morbid curiosity. He dropped the chicken head to the hard wood floor and held the chicken's body as it jerked in his grip. I watched him chant and pour chicken blood on his face and down his chest and stomach. Then he squatted down, chanting away while moving Sheri's body and the candles around like a crab. He set the now-motionless chicken carcass on the floor and picked up the head. Before I could object, he dabbed Sheri's forehead, cheeks, and lips with blood from the torn chicken neck. He raked her bare belly with chicken claws before dabbing his own face with chicken blood.
"Start saying Sheri's name, Mister Bruce. I want you to say her name again and again like a mantra." Wyclef pulled out two sticks of incense and lit them on a candle flame. He held a stick in each hand, waving them back and forth as he continued squatting over my wife. "Here we go, mon."
My mind filled with a few questions. What are we doing here? Are we going to jail after this? I already knew what we were doing and why. I began speaking Sheri's name out loud over and over again.
Wyclef continued to squat and crab-shuffle over Sheri's dead body while waving incense smoke and chanting in some foreign tongue. I continued the mantra of my beloved's name while watching everything. Wyclef's eyes rolled back and his baritone voice grew louder while his movements became more wild and intense. He stomped with heavy feet and started yelling. He made it hard for me to concentrate on my repetitive speaking. The volume and dark tone of Wyclef's voice mixed with strange words he shouted and enforced with violent and frenzied motions. It felt most unsettling.
Wyclef reached a vocal crescendo and uttered, "Jumbie ... nzambi ... da Bantu!"
On his last word, I was looking down into Sheri's face while caressing it and speaking her name. Her chest gave an unexpected heave and her eyelids flew open to reveal milky white eyeballs staring straight into my own. Then all the candles blew out from an unseen blast of netherworld wind and left us in the dark.
"Wyclef! She's moving!" I knew I sounded hysterical. I was creeped out, sitting in the dark living room with my deceased better half squirming beneath me. "What's going on, Doc?"
My eyes focused in the dark. I watched Wyclef sit on Sheri's stomach. He fumbled for something, then lit up what looked like a hellacious-sized doobie. He locked his lips on Sheri's mouth and blew a giant puff of smoke into her.
"Shit!" I jumped when Sheri began coughing and making odd gurgling sounds. "What did you do?"
"She's back, Mister Bruce. I blew spirit protection into her so's no udder folk try hitching a ride with her from da udder side."
I raised an eyebrow at this spooky little comment. "Uh, right. I'm not worried about ghosts. You heard her. She coughed. It's a goddamn miracle." I felt an immediate need to got to a local synagogue to pray and give thanks.
"She coughed, but dat was just da release of spirit smoke. It kick-started her animation. She's not breathing, Mister Bruce. She never will again."
This was something I didn't want to hear. I felt an urgency to see. I didn't like being in the dark. "Can we get some real light in here? We gotta see what's going on."
Excerpted from Hungry for your Love by Lori Perkins. Copyright © 2009 Ravenous Romance. 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.
Table of Contents
ContentsINTRODUCTION | Lori Perkins,
ROMANCE AIN'T DEAD | Jeremy Wagner,
REVENANTS ANONYMOUS | Francesca Lia Block,
I HEART BRAINS | Jaime Saare,
EVERYONE I LOVE IS DEAD | Elizabeth Coldwell,
THROUGH DEATH TO LOVE | S. M. Cross,
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER | Stacey Graham,
FIRST LOVE NEVER DIES | Jan Kozlowski,
MY PARTNER THE ZOMBIE | R. G. Hart,
UNDYING LOVE | Regina Riley,
CAPTIVE HEARTS | Brian Keene,
APOCALYPSE AS FOREPLAY | Gina McQueen,
JULIA BRAINCHILD | Lois H. Gresh,
KICKING THE HABIT | Steven Saus,
ZOMBIFIED | Isabel Roman,
WHITE NIGHT, BLACK HORSE | Mercy Loomis,
INHUMAN RESOURCES | Jeanine McAdam,
THE MAGICIAN'S APPRENTICE | Stacy Brown,
SOME NEW BLOOD | Vanessa Vaughn,
LAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH | Kilt Kilpatrick,
FIRST DATE | Dana Fredsti,
LATER | Michael Marshall Smith,
ABOUT THE AUTHORS,