After surviving the zombie apocalypse for two years, Tye LeBownever expected to be saved from a hungry gang of zombies by a geek with a bad attitude and a penchant for explosives. Tye can't quite work out why scientist Polly Parker saved him. She doesn't want his protection, and she certainly doesn't want his company. But Tye has no intention of leaving the beguiling geek behind.
Polly doesn't want to leave her home, but when the wakers begin to show signs of a burgeoning intelligence, heading south is the only option. With a car packed full of homemade explosives, and Tye's very large axe, they are ready for the road trip of their lives.
Bombs and blades aren't the only keys to survival-they'll need to rely on each other, in a way that neither could have imagined...
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.91(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Waking Up Alive
End of Days Love
By Emma Shortt, Erin Molta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Emma Shortt
All rights reserved.
There were many questions that Tyrone LeBow could happily have gone the rest of his life not knowing the answers to. What color a man's skin turns when the breath is squeezed out of him. How quickly a small child dies when her throat is ripped out. Or even what was causing the harsh, chemical smell surrounding him.
As he stood in the family room of a house that, pre-apocalypse, he would only ever have visited if he planned on arresting the owners, Tye suspected he was about to find out the answer to that last question. He also suspected it was going to be an answer he didn't much like.
He looked around the room, taking in everything from the expensive leather couches sitting opposite each another, to the wall of technology that, if he wasn't mistaken, included a 3D television and enough computing hardware to power not just this house but every other one on the street. There was a little dust, a little mold, but all in all, it was in much better shape than most of the other houses he'd visited in the past two years, and that was good. It was always something of a lottery when looting for supplies, and Tye was happy to take a bit of normality over the usual shitstorm.
He shot a quick look over his shoulder. Behind him, waiting at the empty window frame and keeping watch on the street they'd just left behind, was Jackson, his one and only friend. She'd stay there until he gave the all clear ... and there was only one way he could do that.
Ax in hand, Tye made his way across the room, through the space between the leather couches and around the lacquered coffee table. It did not escape his notice that the carpet squelched underfoot as he walked. Perhaps the smell was coming from there? If so, Tye really didn't want to know what it was. He'd spent enough years busting into crack houses and meth factories to know that looking too closely for a stench led to some pretty gruesome discoveries.
The light was dimmer this far into the room, coming in horizontal stripes from the shutters on the other windows. It gave the elaborately framed pictures stacked up on the bureau a faintly creepy look. Tye could see the top of a head, the lower part of a jaw, almost like the people who had once lived in this house were unwilling to reveal themselves fully ... at least not yet.
Tye narrowed his eyes at the direction his thoughts were taking — morbid, and what good was that going to do anyone? — and pressed on toward the open door. Once there, he paused for just a moment to listen. The silence was absolute. If the people who lived in this house were still here, the sound of his movements — no matter how quiet he had been — would have drawn them out by now. If there was one thing the zombies excelled at, it was their hearing. They heard everything. Still, there was only one way to be sure.
With his ax gripped tightly and a steady flow of adrenaline pumping through his frame, Tye stepped out of the family room and into a darkened hallway. It seemed to run the length of the property. To his right was both the staircase and the front door. It was barricaded shut with a large, heavy-looking oak table. Tye could see the marks on the parquet floor where it had been dragged. Numerous doors led off from the corridor but they were all shut tight. If he'd been doing this a couple of years ago, and wearing his uniform, Tye would have systematically checked every one of those rooms. Nowadays, closed doors didn't stay closed for very long and the fact that these still were meant there was nothing behind them to worry about. Instead, Tye made his way to the very end of the corridor. It opened into a large kitchen. The light was better in here. The shutters on the huge back windows were beginning to rot and let enough light in that they no longer gave the effect of horizontal stripes. The kitchen was also perfectly clean. Stacked up next to the refrigerator — and there was no way Tye was opening that — was a case of bottled water. On top of that was a six-pack of soda. Seemed they'd hit the jackpot.
Quickly now, Tye hurried back through the house and into the family room. The smell was particularly intense here. It was then that Tye realized he'd been drawing in shallow breaths through his mouth and that his throat was dry. He had to lick his lips before giving a single whistle. It was their code. One note for "all is well," two for "start fucking running."
A moment later, Jackson came through the window frame.
"Looks all clear," Tye whispered. "On this floor, at least."
Jackson frowned as she looked around the room. "Something's not right here," she said. "It feels ... off."
Tye couldn't argue with that, but then they'd known as they approached the house that something was weird, not least because the shutters seemed to be the only thing keeping the house locked tight. Someone had removed the glass, and recently, or else the inside would be nowhere near as pristine as it was. And yet all the shutters were latched shut, and the front door was barricaded. It made no sense.
Still, beggars couldn't be choosers. Their supplies were practically nonexistent, and every other house had been stripped bare. It was this or go hungry. Tye had been hungry enough lately that he didn't much relish the prospect of another night of stomach cramps. Fact was, every single week it became more and more difficult to find food. But, two years and then some after the apocalypse? Tye expected it. Nothing lasted forever.
"Let's hurry," he said.
He led them through the house, along the corridor, and into the kitchen. Once there, he drew in a few deep breaths, trying to clear the chemical stench, and gestured to the door next to the refrigerator. "That's gotta be the pantry, and the door is closed. Check it out, and I'll keep watch."
With her machete in hand, Jackson did just that, letting out a low gasp a moment later. "Jesus Christ, take a look at this," she whispered. "There's enough food here for weeks."
Tye had expected some — the soda was a dead giveaway — but this? He ran his gaze over the cans upon cans of food, some that he hadn't seen in more months than he cared to think about, some he had never expected to see again. "We can only take what we can carry, you know that," he finally said. "Unless you wanna eat here and then take more with us?"
"I want to stuff my face immediately," Jackson whispered, "but this place gives me the heebies, not to mention the smell. I don't like it. It feels wrong. Let's take what we can carry and find somewhere else to eat and rest."
Tye nodded his agreement. Hungry or not, he had no desire to eat surrounded by whatever was causing the stench. Jackson's instincts were always dead on the money. If Creepyville gave her the heebies then there was a good reason for it. They might only have been traveling together for a little more than a month, but Tye trusted her implicitly. "Back in the direction of the campus?" he asked.
"Might as well," she said. "We need to go back that way to pick up the interstate."
"Get a move on then, sugar pie. I'll go after you."
Tye turned back to look down the corridor as Jackson pulled off her backpack. The sound of its opening zipper was unnaturally loud in the quiet room, more so than their hushed voices, and he shifted slightly to catch her eye.
"I know. I know."
She stepped into the pantry and started loading up on food. Tye kept his eyes on the corridor, looking for movement, head tilted to pick up on any sounds. One came a moment later ... a quiet creaking.
It came from directly above them.
Tye tightened his grip on his ax just as the floorboards creaked again. He looked up in both annoyance and anger. There was no surprise. He'd half expected it. No, he always expected it. Such was life in the land of the dead.
"Did you hear that?"
Jackson nodded as he gestured in the direction of the corridor. A moment later she touched his shoulder before pointing toward the French windows. Like the windows at the front of the house there was no actual glass in them, only the wooden shutters. Better yet, they closed from the inside, meaning they would be able to unlatch them and slip out. They moved across to them immediately. Food or not, it wasn't worth the risk of hanging around. If one zombie was inside the house there would soon be more. They hardly ever moved around alone, always in packs of four or five, and the space was far too tight to take all of them down.
Tye shot a look behind him. From this angle he could see nothing but the space where the oak table had once lived. The wooden chairs that were supposed to surround it were stacked neatly against the wall. There was something indescribably tragic about that, and abruptly Tye imagined someone taking the time to stack them up even as zombies howled outside.
He reached out for the latch on the French doors, only then noticing that it was closed tight with a small padlock, the type used on a gym locker. Had he time, Tye would have picked it, but why bother when there was another way to get the shutters open?
"We need to be quick," he whispered. "I'll kick it through, and we'll head for the alleyway on the right. It'll follow the noise and come down, thinking to trap us. Don't lose that food."
Jackson slung her backpack over her shoulders, resolve stamped across her face. They could both hear the sound of something walking above them.
"Now," she said.
Tye kicked through the shutters. Maybe it was the rot, or maybe the force of his angry kick, but they exploded outward just as a rattling groan sounded from upstairs. There was no doubt now, and he and Jackson burst into the backyard, speeding off in the direction of the alleyway.
Four zombies were waiting for them at the end of it.
There was little choice in what happened next.
With the steady trickle of adrenaline turning into a fully flowing river, Tye ran straight at the pack. A female zombie ran to meet him. She was naked — so many of them were these days — and dripping yellow pus from various wounds and orifices. He lifted his ax to swing at her. She swerved to avoid it. Tye kicked her with the same force he'd kicked the shutters. She fell at Jackson's feet. His friend wasted no time stamping in her skull.
"Balls to the walls!" Tye shouted as the other zombies howled their displeasure. A mere heartbeat later, they came running. Tye's was a teenage girl. No more than five feet tall, dressed in a pair of tiny denim shorts and a dirty pink tee. Her eyes fixed right on him, a sort of vacant hunger in them. As his ax sliced through her skinny neck, Tye only just contained his shudder of disgust. Stupid though it was, he hated killing the young ones. Of course, given his luck these days, it was no surprise that the next one was a kid, too. He wore a Grateful Dead tee. The irony hit Tye forcefully as he kicked him to the floor and stomped on his face. Bits of flesh shot outward. The stench was almost overwhelming. Worse even than inside the house.
"Where's the other one?" Jackson asked as she skidded to a halt next to him. "The one that was on the roof?"
Tye wiped his pus-coated and bloodied boot on the grass. "It wasn't one of these?"
"It couldn't have gotten down that fast."
A bang sounded from the alleyway. It was quickly followed by another coming from the opposite direction. He and Jackson had walked the street all afternoon, checking houses, looking for food, so Tye knew that there were no actual humans still living on it, and that meant only one thing ...
"Did you hear that?" Jackson whispered.
"There's only ever five in a pack, at most."
"Four here and one on the roof," Tye said, but even as he did he couldn't help but hear the lie in his voice. Two bangs. Two more zombies. At least. And what the fuck did that mean?
"No," she said. "There's more. Listen."
Tye didn't get the chance. A zombie, the one that had been creeping around upstairs, jumped from the roof of the garage and into a roll. It stood up so quickly that Tye jumped back. He was so annoyed by his reaction that he swung his ax and narrowed his eyes.
"Hello, Mr. Fucking Crash the Party."
Jackson pulled a face. "Really?"
"Just trying to mix it up."
The zombie paused in front of them — and that was odd enough because zombies never paused with food so close by — and let out a shrieking howl. Once, those howls had scared Tye shitless, but that had been a long time ago. On a good day, the noises of the new world simply annoyed him. On a bad day, annoyance tended to be replaced by sadness.
Tye and Jackson took care of the zombie in no time. Two against one, and even though it was desperate to eat them, it never stood a chance. Only when its intestines were decorating the ground did they run for an overturned SUV and hunker behind it. Once there, Tye looked up and down the street. It didn't take him long to find what he was searching for. There were more zombies, way more than there should have been, and they weren't stalking their way along the street. Instead, several figures waited on the roofs, their elongated bodies outlined against the gray of the sky.
"They're in both directions cutting off our escape," Jackson whispered as she pointed to the buildings on either side of Creepyville. "Look."
Tye cursed softly.
"There could be more," she added, "waiting on the ground."
"There's too many," Tye said as he counted up the figures. There were ten in total. "There shouldn't be this many," he added. "What the fuck are they doing?"
"There's no way we can fight a pack each. Not right now. We'd be as good as dead."
Tye didn't want to admit the truth of Jackson's words, not because of pride or anything — Tye wouldn't have survived this long if he hadn't accepted his limitations — but simply because they shouldn't be in a position of having to fight the equivalent of three zombie packs. It was only in the very early days that the zombies had come at them en masse, and it was different then because they hadn't been organized. They'd been wild, and wild zombies were a lot easier to kill than zombies that hunted with the instincts of a pack. And now? With fifteen of them banding together? What did that mean? Not that they'd gone back to their wild ways, Tye was sure of that. No, it suggested something much worse ...
"Ideas?" Jackson prompted after a moment. Tye noticed that, despite the chill in the air, she was sweating. He probably was, too. An overdose of adrenaline would do that to you.
"Not any you're gonna like," he said.
"When do I ever?"
"We need to split the packs," Tye said as the reality of their situation hit. "Lead them in opposite directions, separate them, pick them off one by one, even shake them off, if we can."
"Split us up, you mean," she said.
"It's the only way," he replied, and he couldn't help but think of the moment when they'd first met. Tye had been outrunning a pack of zombies, and he hadn't realized back then that Jackson could have helped with them, could probably have taken them all on. Instead, and to protect her, he'd led them away, calling out a place to meet as he had raced off. Tye could still recall how surprised he'd been when Jackson had been there waiting for him when he'd arrived. He hadn't seen another person for months by that point, had started to think that maybe he never would.
This, though, this was different. He wouldn't be able to lead ten of them away, and Jackson was more than able to take care of herself. The last month had taught him that.
"Say we do this," Jackson said after a moment. "What's our meeting place?"
"We'll meet by that chick store. The one you said looked like a Barbie brothel."
"It's maybe a twenty minute sprint from here."
"So I'll take that," Tye said pointing to a house with its door hanging off. "I noticed a side alley behind there, leads onto a green. I'll follow it around, baiting the bigger pack, and then come out at the end of the street. You head in the direction of the rec center and get the others to follow you. We passed it earlier, remember? It's only a couple of blocks over from the Barbie brothel. Wait there for a bit, then double back."
Jackson let out a deep sigh. "Jesus, Tye, this feels like a bad idea in so many ways. I swear it's got 'fuckup' written all over it."
Excerpted from Waking Up Alive by Emma Shortt, Erin Molta. Copyright © 2016 Emma Shortt. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I try not to buy books that that end in a cliffhanger. The first book in this series has one that led into this book. Both are very well written and kept me rivited throughout the whole story! I highly recommend this book! Both books have 300+ pages each and I challenge you to put them down once you start reading! I couldn't! Bravo, Ms. Shortt! Bravo!
Rating: 4.5/5 I’ll be honest and admit to thinking twice before even requesting this book, I’m not normally into zombie apocalypse novels but this one is totally the exception and I’m so glad Entangled agreed to let me read and review an ARC of it! It has a clever, well developed and intriguing plot, a brilliant, nerdy and independent feisty female lead and a strong, alpha male leading man who needs her to rescue him! Don’t read this expecting it to be like other zombie stories, this is a unique and enthralling version, a real page turner and one you’d do better reading for yourself, rather than this review! It is an action packed adventure, filled with twists, turns and surprises. This is the second book in the series and there are, apparently, two more to come. I hadn’t read the first one but I certainly hope to read the sequels! I have no hesitation in highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys action packed adventures in which romance develops - even if you don’t normally like zombie stories! Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for gifting me an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review
After surviving the zombie apocalypse for two years, Tye LeBow never expected to be saved from a hungry gang of zombies by a geek with a bad attitude and a penchant for explosives. Tye can’t quite work out why scientist Polly Parker saved him. She doesn’t want his protection, and she certainly doesn’t want his company. But Tye has no intention of leaving the beguiling geek behind. Polly doesn’t want to leave her home, but when the wakers begin to show signs of a burgeoning intelligence, heading south is the only option. With a car packed full of homemade explosives, and Tye’s very large axe, they are ready for the road trip of their lives. Bombs and blades aren’t the only keys to survival–they’ll need to rely on each other, in a way that neither could have imagined… Review: Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse! First thoughts after reading this, very engaging story and well-written. I love my zombie apocalypse TV shows, so I had to pick up this when I saw it up for review. The story is not only about fighting and action, it has a lot of heart to it. Though is does have a lot of trying to survive, what I found I liked the most were the scenes where Polly and Tye are just together and getting to know each other. Another part I really enjoyed was they just don't jump into bed because they are lonely, they get to know each other and take it slow. And in full disclosure, there are no sexy scenes in this book, so if you are looking for that you will not find it here. Polly has had a bad experience with other survivors, so it really makes sense that she is cautious and not just going to fall into bed with anyone and Tye is a stand-up guy who knows that he needs to be careful with her. Polly and Tye are both survivors and both have their strengths and weaknesses but are really better together. There is a lot that happens to these two as they try to move south, but I wanted to try not spoil this books for those who want to read it. I did like the Author's unique view of the zombie's and the zombie virus and how their thought process works, thought it was very creative and had a new spin to it. This is the second book in the series, but from what I can tell they are happening simultaneously and I think if you did start with this book you would not be lost, at least I was not. Lots of tension, action and budding romance in this book. Good fix of the zombie apocalypse while the Walking Dead is on hiatus. 4.5Stars *Received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
Amazing book, even if you don't even like zombies! Two years after the zombie apocalypse, precisely 26 months and 13 days, Tye LeBow is searching for supplies in empty houses. His friend Jackson Hart is keeping watch; they’ve been travelling together for a month. While searching, Tye hears a noise, and they have to make a run for it; there are some wakers – zombies – outside. Zombies usually travel in pack of 5, but this time there are three packs; it’s not normal, as far as normal is nowadays anyway. Tye and Jackson must split up, and they will meet in one hour in Kelly’s Clothing Boutique. Meanwhile, Dr. Polly Parker is inside said Boutique; she’s setting up traps, home-made bombs, to be precise. And Tye walks in; Polly hasn’t seen another person in 9 months, and the last one, a man… And there, I was seriously intrigued… Polly is scared, thinks of leaving Tye there, then changes her mind and goes and gets him. The books I have read and the zombies movies I have watched total fewer than the number of fingers on both hands. I’m not sure what prompted me to pick this book; the blurb looked interesting, the cover looks awfully nice; I just took a chance, and I’m very happy I did! Even though, it’s book 2, I did not feel I missed anything, except to know more about Jackson. WAKING UP ALIVE takes the reader right in the thick of things, and talk about fast-paced and exciting! I loved both Polly and Tye, they are very different: he’s the brawn, she’s the brain; and they have different reasons to want to kill the zombies, and this is a fascinating part of the story. What pleased me most about WAKING UP ALIVE is that it is a very intelligent book which gives a lot to think about. There are epic plot twists, which are settled very cleverly. All in all, I believe readers who like zombies will love it, but most of all, this is a book for readers who never read about zombies or don’t fancy them! The writing is seamless, the dialogues perfectly reflect the characters’ personalities, everything is plausible; it’s excellent from the first page to the last! An exciting, fascinating, clever, and intelligent book! I hope there will be more books in this series! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.