The Good Life

Episode 1: Warning: Graphic content

             

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"My name is Leo. I've done some terrible things, unimaginable things, but also truly extraordinary things. It's not over, though. I'm on my way to kill some monsters, really. I'm the hand who will also take out anyone I think might be a threat to my group. The universe has granted me a series of miracles to get to this point, to survive this long, so you'd think I won't be punished for my acts, what I've done and what I'm about to do. Yes, this is the only way."

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OK, want to know who in the hell is this character? Let's head back a year when that inconvenient end of world thing just started, shall we?

 

Here we go.........

Now this is the good life, ain’t it? Well, if you don't think so, screw you! This is all Leo McGregor could ever want and he doesn't want any mug spoiling his scene.

He couldn't worry himself with all the problems of the imploding world. There's not a god damn thing he could do about it anyway, man. Heck, he doesn't even own a TV anymore. Who needs that crapola?

 

His dad and granddad were the unwavering ones who wanted to take on all comers with a spellbinding sense of purpose. Leo, on the other hand, is not that kind of guy. We'll see, however, if that will be the case in the treacherous near future, won't we? 

 

He considers himself a righteous dude and he's not wrong, considering his utmost dedication to taking it easy. He's smart - one of those classic bored under achievers. He doesn't like talking about himself, his family nor childhood. If someone were to ask about his relationship with his parents, he'd quip in his usual unabashed silliness: "non-sexual".

 

Loyal? Why of course. All right, one or two of his obnoxiously mediocre friends find ways to take advantage, but, overall, it’s all cool. Well into his 30s, but still not sure whether he should comb his hair backwards or forwards, he's tall, thin and seemingly in love with Cabana shorts.

 

OK, maybe not the most ambitious dude, with the exception of his dream to one day play Plinko on The Price is Right, but doesn't ambition and self-indulgent materialism just bring more stress and wrinkles anyway? 

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A warm camp fire, a nice dube and a tasty brew are all he needs. No need for all those inauthentic external goals, right?

 

He sells a little weed on the side just to keep himself out of any unfortunate cash flow problems, especially since his older brother Richard and sister Brandi have a nasty habit of never lending him any. This cannabis legalization thing in Canada has made things tough, no doubt, but thank goodness for his pill business.

 

Bereft of sobriety, he uses his own supply, but let's not judge. At least he's real careful to fly under the radar of those vicious biker gangs. Leo is your one-stop shop when it comes to painkillers better known as "hillbilly heroin" to those who like a good time.

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On the bright side, he's never been in jail or even been arrested. How's that for an anti-hero? But hey, he's a righteous dude for god's sake! He was born and raised on a hay farm in Ladner, British Columbia, Canada, but wasn't much of a farm boy.

 

Well, the farm is gone and now he finds himself living in his mum's basement in East Vancouver, rent free, playing video games and watching juicy courtroom dramas. His younger siblings, brawling, self-pitying hipsters with chips on their shoulders, accuse the mom of being an enabler, and they're probably right.

They hate his carefree ways including his strolling in an old bathrobe and slippers down to the McDonalds when he's got the munchies.

A non-smoker who likes having a cigarette hanging from his mouth, believing it gives him a thoughtful look, Leo often scratches his crotch and burps when someone tries to tell him what to do. Yup, an infantile response to authority, for sure.

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His fragmentary existence on this planet also consists of playing guitar for various bands, although he's "in between gigs" right now. He's also done all right as far as the ladies who fall for his legendary smile and wry charm. He also has a couple of kids he hasn't seen for years (more on that later folks) and that kind of bugs him.

 

What's funny, for whatever reason, those around him see him as some kind of wise man, a guru, a life coach, always wanting advice. He just regurgitates self-help and new age junk he gets cheap at the used book store. Also, he's never been in a fight in his life and never fired a gun. This is Canada, man, guns aren't allowed!

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OK, need any more character information or are we ready to get going with this thing? Sorry in advance if we offend anyone, which is more than likely. You'll see there's no rules to this thing - leave at your own convenience.

 

So get a load of this: Leo, naturally, is taking it easy with his childhood bud from Ladner, Archie Moore, on a scorching mid-July late afternoon at Archie's ultra-cool party cabin in Point Roberts, the tiny American peninsula just across the border. You can argue these two are why aliens won't talk to us.

 

These bozos' cute, well-maintained white and blue trimmed pad is nestled within a heavily wooded area, containing everything you could ever need when it comes to getting away from it all.

Wearing flip flops and pink tinted shades, Archie is a big, bald burly fella who's good with his dukes, which came in very handy for Leo during the turbulent elementary school days. Ya, Archie is on the lazy side too and loves his herb - an even bigger stoner than Leo.

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At least he gets to live off the millions his family made selling their Tsawwassen farm to an industrial tycoon. Leo's family had to leave the farm business with their tales between their legs.

It's been over two weeks since he was here at the Point, hanging with Archie and escaping the world with its repugnant Top 40 music.

He'd rather stay longer but knows this spiritually relaxing trip is coming to an end.

 

Brandi has bugging the hell out of him with texts demanding he call her, desperate. Good she stopped, although another reason could be that his phone says there's no service available. Nobody is spoiling good old Leo's summer soiree. Too bad nobody else showed up despite promises to drop by and keep the party going.

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That's cool, who cares what's going on! Leo and Archie are having a good enough time with a stockpile of ice cold brew and enough dope to smoke up a small nation.

 

Both are practically motionless on their lawn chairs with a crackling campfire, fixated bad vintage Kung fu flicks playing on their VHS-TV combo hooked up outside and hanging precariously on a log. Despite being on American soil, a Canadian flag with its bold red maple leaf hangs proudly over the cabin doorway.

 

Why not, since they're Canadian hosers, eh? (yes, a cliché). The following day Archie will be taking his boat from the marina down here up the coast to his family's private island. Yes, a private island! Lucky bugger! His family now runs a fishing lodge there.

 

A big military helicopter flies low overhead the stoned pair but they hardly notice, then another.

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Flying from the American side up north into Canada. It's something like the twentieth in the last couple of days. None of their concern. Just as they were getting to the good scene, the silly TV falls face-first to the ground, picture tube sparking. A blank stare ahead, now what dudes? Maybe another toke and they'll figure it out.

 

Another helicopter then flies overhead and this time they take notice, but they can't move. Now another followed by a big transport plane. Guess they'll just watch this show for a while.

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"Shouldn't we like, call someone man?" Archie remarks, smoke and the smell of skunk surrounding his bald head.

 

"Ya, maybe a letter to George Bush, Harvie Keitel or something.....ummm, what are we talking about?" Leo answers.

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Intruiged by the helicopters, the baked Archie yawns and takes a cat-like stretch before offering one of his non sequiturs.

 

"Man, Man, like, you know, the Essene sect, those crazy ancient dudes who lived on that mountain top at Qumran, they had it right, you know. The war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness is coming, man. Yup, a forty-year holy war of good against evil, heavenly as well as earthly soldiers. They'll need one tough dude on the good side."

Leo coughs and shrugs his shoulders as his buddy suggests, "We'll be safe and sound right over here, yup!"

The dude reaches into his lucky cardigan for a pick, then grabs his acoustic guitar for some strumming.

 

"Oh ya, my pockets have no pants," Archie adds.

 

Confused, Leo mutters, "WWWhat the hell are you on about?"

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While the two soak in every second of being stoned out of their trees in Shangri La, they haven't got a clue what's happening outside their bubble. Half-way across Canada, just outside the panic-stricken town of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Richard and his wife are in a real spot.

 

Luggage tied to the roof of their car, they were on their way out of the province when the husband with droll inteptitude exited the vehicle. He's now cut off by something unimaginable, something uncontrollable.....dead, but not really.

        

While the wife watches horrified and screams in the locked vehicle, Leo’s brother desperately swings a golf club at bizarre creatures that mean him great harm.

Groaning and growling, these abominations with disfigured faces used to be people. They're discoloured and rotting, clothes tattered and torn.

"Help.....someone help me.......help!" cries the doomed man as seven or so of the vile monsters surround him.

 

One monster with bubbling boils on its face sinks its teeth into Richard's forearm, while another bites into the back of his shoulder. Blood squirts in multiple directions. A third grabs the man’s head and bites his face, tearing one cheek completely off like hot cheese from a pizza crust. It's a burning sensation for the poor sap, as if someone is forcing his face onto a red hot stove element.

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His anguish is indescribable as they pull him down and smother him. Several more then focus on the screaming lady in the car. Who wouldn’t be freaked out as they scratch at the windows? More arrive on both sides and begin rocking the car.

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The woman reaches for the steering wheel but her husband had the keys – typical.

Knowing this is it, she regains composure long enough to reach into her purse and pull out rosary beads. Remaining perfectly still on the wet seat, she clutches those ineffectual beads and closes her eyes.   

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One of the disfigured creatures then breaks into a back window head first. It crawls in, followed by another and yet another.

 

Moments later, an elderly couple in a rusty minivan slowly approach near the carnage and stop. The driver, an old man wearing a spiffy fedora hat and bow tie, is aghast. "Oh dear, those poor people.....oh, those poor, poor people." The couple speed away when the voracious creatures take notice of them.

 

Back at the Point, as his big buddy in the pink shades gets into snooze mode, Archie’s sweaty head glistening, Leo provides an approving grin and plays the guitar. A little Girl From Ipanema seems fitting. Yup, this is the good life - good enough.

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Story by Sandor Gyarmati

Comic art panels by Jess Soares (HouseofBlackArt.com)

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