Posted in Monday Mayhem

The Survivors

I’ve talked a lot about zombies in the past, lending credence to an apocalypse of unfathomable proportions. The thing that sticks out in my mind as the number one reason I wouldn’t want the apocalypse happening, is not because of the roaming undead seeking of whom they may devour, but because of the survivors who are in it for themselves. The thought is nothing short of a Monday Mayhem post.

End of the World
End of the World

Zombies don’t scare me. The undead are rather benign when separated from the crowd. A quick spike to the head and they are no more. As part of the horde, they are a fearsome bunch consuming everyone in their path. Nothing alive can stand in their way. However, take them out of their element and place them in water, they’re useless.

On the other hand, people, those who have survived the end of days, are the ones who I fear the most. They are the ones who, if for nothing else, will hunt their victims down and put an end to their lives all for the benefit of themselves.

Is that an exaggeration?

Let’s have a look at what humanity has done in times of peace.

The U.S. Navy has taken flack lately for its missile testing it has conducted a few weeks ago near San Diego, on a Saturday night no less. Witnesses stated they thought they saw UFO’s hovering in the skies.

The lights didn’t reveal the military’s intention.

Running Scared
Running Scared

That’s for starters. How about this? In a little while, Black Friday will be upon us. In the past, crowds have gone from restless to stampeding, taking human lives along the way. All for what? a toy that will end up in a junk heap a year from now? Have we lost our minds?

Okay, that may seem trivial to some, but can you imagine what humanity is capable of in times of a future societal breakdown? It won’t be pretty. The first to go will be the weak. If the zombies don’t take them, the strong among us will. They will dictate our future and run our lives. Then there are the ones who society has discarded. The dregs of society who ended up in our jails and prisons. What will happen with them? You can be sure, the jails and prisons won’t hold them. The first thing on their mind will be getting out of their cage so they can roam free among us.

What do you think?

As wonderful and as great humanity thinks it is, nothing can stand in the way of human nature. Human nature dictates an attitude of one-for-one, all-for-one. It drives humans to do the most deplorable things to each other, all in the name of survival. And the worst part about it? I just don’t understand the human compulsion to self-terminate. When things get hard, too difficult, a gun is there, not for protection, but to make a quick exit.

I know it sounds pessimistic, yet if history has anything to do with it, I don’t want to survive an apocalypse. I’d rather be one of its first victims.

Although, I still hold hope that one day, if the roof does cave in on society, humanity will do the right thing and think of the weak and unfortunate among us, giving them the aid they need to survive with dignity.

That, at least, is my hope.

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What scares you most about surviving a zombie apocalypse? The question is, would you like to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombie Theories

Sometimes I wonder where these zombie theories come from in this age of scientific advancement. Humanity is not an idiot, but some of the lesser-known theories deserve to die a quiet death with little to no fanfare whatsoever. These Monday Mayhem posts have been a staple around here at JackFlacco.com, so why not talk about them, giving them the proper respect they ought to have? Perhaps there is something to learn for everyone involved.

Witch Doctor [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]
Witch Doctor [Photo Credit: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.]
The very first theory is that voodoo will bring back the dead. For that to happen, there would have to be a witch doctor willing to bring back the dead. Unbelievably, such a case in Haiti existed where a man had died and a voodoo doctor had brought the corpse back to life. What is now known is the good doctor had poisoned the victim to deceive the family into believing the man had perished of an aliment of some sort. When the family had buried the victim, the voodoo doctor had exhumed the body, fed it another cocktail of hallucinogens and made the man a servant keeping him drugged for decades until the doctor’s death. The case was nothing more than a charlatan taking advantage of the poor in order to gain free labor from its intended victim.

Going further with the case, should zombies truly rise from voodoo, civilization would be in a quandary. Who would administer the drugs? What will be the effect of these victims on the economy? Should it really happen, where would it take place? Certainly, it couldn’t happen in the developed countries of North America.

George A. Romero
George A. Romero

The other theory, which far surpasses reality, has to do with aliens. This theory is so farfetched that it isn’t even worth documenting. However, an element of fun exists in this theory that no one can really resist not documenting it.

Consider an alien race that has come to Earth as a means of populating it with its kind. The aliens utilize ray beams to change the masses into obedient servants, thereby rendering the population vulnerable to conquest. Sounds ridiculous, yet George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead has a variation of the theme where an accident from space changes a quiet town into a zombie feeding ground. Gone is the audience’s sense of intellect, replaced only by the acceptance of sheer fiction in a situation that is as likely to happen as the earth standing still for forty-eight hours.

Lastly, no zombie apocalypse would be complete without the dreaded virus that turns humanity into bags of roaming nut jobs. Who can dispute that above all the outlandish theories, this is the one that has remained in the forefront as the one-and-only that makes the most sense. However, the reality is far from perfect. For this theory to work, the virus’ victims would have to succumb to yielding their inhibitions to consuming human meat, not only from an individual standpoint but also from a community perspective. Unless plied with a crate of dopamine, it would appear that such an event would fall in the realm of “hardly unlikely”.

With that, the forum is open for discussion. What do you think of zombie apocalypse theories?

Get the Ranger Martin trilogy now!

What other theories are so outrageous that they aren’t worth the time reading?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

A Word of Thanks

Tomorrow I will be releasing Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, the third and final book in the Ranger Martin zombie trilogy. I should be happy, and I am, but I have to admit I’ll miss Ranger and his gang of misfits. He and the kids provided me a wonderful outlet to talk about society, relationships, and the pains of growing up in a confusing world. Although the story is set during a zombie apocalypse, the angst felt among the characters is what I believe everyone feels at some point in life. I found it easy to write the scenes where Ranger, the shotgun-toting undead killer, and Matty, the fiery teen and natural leader to her peers, would have it out while everything around them collapses.

A Word of ThanksYet, I’m also excited the trilogy is complete. I can’t express how thankful I am to all those who have supported me this year, day after day, as I would churn out page after page while the deadline loomed to remind me there is a finite date when it would all be over.

My biggest thank-you goes to my wife for all that she has had to put up with while I completed the trilogy. How she did it is beyond me. Scintillating conversations such as, “Honey, do you think when a bullet pierces a zombie head the brain will explode behind its skull in fragments or in a uniformed splatter pattern?” Or this, “What if the undead bleeds green, does it mean I can amp up the violence because green will make it seem more of a comic book?”

To her, I owe my sanity.

Next, I’d like to thank the rest of my family. This includes my parents, who, even though they can’t read English, attempted to make sense from my rambling pages about the undead taking over the world. My mom, especially, took it upon herself to read a page a day, not knowing what she was reading, in order to show her support for my work and me. Every year I would release a book she’d ask, “What are you going to do now?” And I’d answer, “I’m going to write another book, Ma.”

I’m thankful to have such a supportive family.

Of course, I couldn’t do any of this without the kind supporters who visit my site every week, liking and commenting everything I’ve published, and providing me with the inspiration to continue writing.

If I didn’t have your attention, I’d probably be spraying graffiti throughout Toronto’s train system.

Lastly, a big shout out goes to the members of my review team who have taken time from their busy schedules to read my book and provide their thoughts. Nothing I can say would say it better than how they’ve said it below.

Meet the Review Team

K. Andrews’ Barnfullawalkers“It is a testament to Flacco’s skill as a writer that he manages to create two parallel journeys for our gang of main characters in the Ranger Martin series to embark upon, each one as harrowing as the other. On one hand, we have the journey of Ranger and the kids through the hellish, apocalyptic world around them, a world filled with death, horror, and unspeakable evil. On the other hand, we have the equally fraught, terrifying emotional world within each character, as he or she must grapple with the terror of allowing others in, to risk opening their hearts, and feeling love for another, when the reality of the times poses a constant danger that any of them, at any time, could be killed at a moment’s notice.”

Chris Harrison’s The Opening Sentence“To describe the Ranger Martin trilogy as a parable of our times would be confusing Jesus with John Wayne, but there are times when you wonder if the story is somehow apocryphal: the grizzled adult leading the future generation towards a promised land and salvation. But most of the time the young ones are telling the old one what to do and Ranger Martin starts to look more like the put-upon dad than God the Father.”

Kim Lo’s Tranquil Dreams“In this final installment to his Ranger Martin trilogy, we’re back to a zombie heavy novel. I feel that this third one may be the strongest one of the three. While the others are still very good, this one brings in a new aspect and focuses on the kids a little more, specifically the personal relationships going on between the teenagers here, Matty and Randy. We get a little bit more of Ranger Martin’s back story in a little more depth and understand his actions and why he is the way he is and all the hatred aside from the obvious need to survive in this zombie apocalypse thats turned him into a ruthless zombie slayer. They deal with their feelings and decisions. While this could have turned lanky and heavy, somehow it managed to steer away from that territory even if there were slight moments of silly teenage drama that seemed to come up.”

Katie Sullivan’s The D/A Dialogues“Ranger’s final chapter starts with a punch to the gut and never lets the reader rest until that final, bittersweet page. Along the way, characters we grew to love over the course of the series, face challenges that would test the mettle of any good man or woman. And a good man is what Ranger is – but even good men make mistakes, and for me, the question of trust, in the face of utter devastation, was what really turned the pages in Search for Paradise.”

A.M.’s nimslake“This book will have you cheering for Ranger, Jon, Matty and Randy. All the pickles they get themselves into to save their rag-tag family and those they save along the way. It will definitely have you biting your nails as you are gripped in the middle of the melees that happen to them on their quest to ‘Paradise’. You want to be there to shout out ‘behind you!’ You want to be there to shoot down some ‘chewers’ to help them out.”

As a final thought, to those who feel bullied or oppressed, may Ranger Martin inspire you to fight back against the real zombies of this world. May nothing get in the way of your success.

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Daryl Dixon

The Walking Dead has had a plethora of characters grace viewers’ displays. None has had as much of an impact than Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). If there were a character that could define a series from start to finish, Daryl would be that character.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon

Today, Wednesday Warriors looks at the life of a single individual who has made a difference in the perception of people’s expectations of what a hero ought to be. Today, Daryl Dixon takes the spotlight in this weekly feature.

When the rise of the walker first takes hold, no one knows what to make of it. People attacking other people consuming their insides becomes the norm. A little girl wandering the streets is more than a curious image. When she turns around and reveals her true nature, the viewer sees the effect of the devastating virus that has taken hold of humanity to reduce society’s most vulnerable to an eating machine.

Throughout the upheaval, two types of characters hit center stage. First, there is the selfish character that makes it a point that one will interfere with his plans of staying alive. He doesn’t care about anyone else other than himself. This character has a short lifespan in The Walking Dead. He either falls to the bullet, knife or ax, or ends up as a walker’s next meal. Second, there is the hero character. He takes on the role of the reluctant champion to anyone who needs him to intervene on his behalf. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is this type of character. He gives of himself regardless of the situation.

Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead
Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead

However, a third type of character rules The Walking Dead. He is subtle with his actions. He is not your typical hero. If anything, the image he exudes is that of the first group—a selfish man who is looking out for no one else but himself.

Daryl is that character. When people think they have him figured out, he pulls a rabbit out of his hat surprising everyone.

Others in the group may consider him a redneck. He hunts squirrel with a bow. He chews on the bark of trees. He can live off the fat of the land devouring crawling things that would make a billy goat puke.

Say what you will about Daryl, in that he may pose as a front for the survivor who has no interest than to save himself, but underneath that facade lies a man very much consumed with doing the right thing in spite of others getting in his way. Left on his own, he can outlast the strongest of a group.

The only enemy Daryl has to worry about is himself.

Torn by the demons haunting him, a brother who he’d rather not call a brother and the sadness of losing one of the only people he truly cared for, Daryl lives each day as if it were his last. If his friends settle into a new place feeling comfortable with their new surroundings, he doesn’t follow. He has always questioned authority. In his mind, if the folks he hangs with use commonsense, that is good enough for him. But don’t expect him to do what the others would want him to do. He’s his own boss.

The best part about Daryl’s character is his steadfast push toward killing walkers at all costs. When someone falls to one of the undead, he spares the others by taking a direct approach to solving the walker problem. He kills them. There isn’t anything Daryl hasn’t done. Aside from his lack of social skills, he knows where he fits in the zombie apocalypse.

Perhaps Daryl has a lesson for everyone, not only those watching him every week on The Walking Dead. Perhaps his way of doing things—grabbing the world by the throat—is the only way to solve a problem.

Maybe he does have a lesson for those interested in making a difference.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think of Daryl? What do you like most about Daryl’s character?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

What Would You Do?

The apocalypse has happened. It’s not what you expected. Zombies have taken over the world. It’s up to you to survive. Will you?

City of the undead
City of the undead

For today’s Monday Mayhem, I’d like to ask a question. It’s a simple question.

What would you do?

Everyone has a notion one would know what to do when confronted with the inevitable decision of taking a life to save another or oneself. But I ask, would you be capable of such an act? Morality plays a big part in the decision making process. What if the guilt is so unbearable that you couldn’t do it? What if the very person you had to remove from existence was your brother? Your sister? Your mother? Your father? Would you?

Remember, the world has fallen under a full-blown zombie apocalypse. You don’t know if the condition your loved one is suffering is temporary or permanent. You have no clue as to the status of the government’s involvement to finding a solution to the condition. You have no idea whether it will be ten minutes before someone walks in to present a solution. Ten hours. Ten days. Or even ten weeks. For all you know, your loved one has become one of the changed and you have a choice to make.

What would you do?

Alone with the undead
Alone with the undead

Would you take the life of your loved one in order to save yourself, the rest of your family or anyone else who is not your family but appears to have evaded the condition that has made the person banging at the door one of the changed?

I’ve concluded that I wouldn’t know what I’d do if confronted with such a decision. If the person I love turns on me because of the change, then I will have quite a time justifying the death if I don’t know what caused the condition in the first place. My problem is also a moral dilemma, since I would still see the person as he or she was before becoming one of the undead. Moreover, to add salt to the misery, I would probably do my best to protect the victim of the condition as a means to prolong their life until I was sure there isn’t anything else I could do for them.

Like I said, for me it would be a moral decision, regardless of who it is. I would have to be good and sure there would be no looking back before I take a knife to the evil that has invaded the victim.

I know, it is strange, and I agree. After all, I write about zombies. Getting rid of them in fiction is very different from living through the process of guilt inhibiting every crevice of my heart. But the idea of taking a life because they pose a threat may seem premature to me if I don’t have all the facts at my disposal.

Then again, I could be wrong, in which case I would have to reevaluate the criteria I would use to save my family.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What would you do?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Rigor

One of the perks when writing books about zombies is the fact that I can research various subjects such as physics, epidemics and psychology. With each subject comes a set of fascinating facts I never knew, had I not looked into it on my own. The most interesting and morbid of all subjects I’ve had to study is the rate of decomposition of the dead, the various phases, and the ultimate appearance of the body weeks after the process had begun. It is not a subject for the faint of heart or for regular readers of my Monday Mayhem series to indulge in while having breakfast.

The Walking Dead cast
The Walking Dead cast

Having watched every episode of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, my perspective has changed from when I first became interested in the genre.

For instance, in the early years of my fixation with the undead, my focus fell on what the survivors had to do in order for them to stay alive. Coincidentally, the underlying theme in the early seasons of The Walking Dead is that of survival in the thick of a zombie apocalypse—even if no one really calls them zombies in the show. Survival means different things to different people. In the broad context of the show’s premise, survival means living another day without having had worried about a walker getting in the way. To this end, the survivors play a game of human vs. beast throughout the early part of the series.

As the years went on, however, and by no means would I compare my experience with others who follow the genre, I’ve noticed the plight of the survivors has not been against the walkers but against themselves. Nothing could be more evident of this fact than with last season’s premier when the survivors’ main enemy was a band of cannibals determined to make Rick and his crew their evening meal. For some, cannibalism may have crossed the line, but the ratings sure haven’t reflected that matter. If anything, the audience, including myself, keeps coming back for more.

When it comes to story, The Walking Dead, and now Fear the Walking Dead, has and is leading viewers through a range of emotions that only a good drama can deliver.

Getting back to my original thought about my education within the genre in relation to the shows—has anyone else noticed the walkers in The Walking Dead are different from when they hit the scene in the first episode? Recently, they’ve decomposed rapidly leaving no doubt they’re slowly dying but at a slower pace than otherwise any medical student would suggest. Their skin has lost much of its elasticity. Their color has turned darker. And they have become sluggish as opposed to their former selves, living or otherwise.

Yet, it leaves me wondering what the walkers will look like once the series is over. Will they explode like a bag a goo, as depicted in one episode of a walker trapped in a well? Or will they simply shrivel into a nub and crunch to their ultimate death?

I know that it’s a silly observation, but how can anyone ignore the basic levels of rigor? I can’t imagine what science will do to the walkers once it gets through with them.

Just a thought.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

What do you think will happen with the walkers when the series completes? Will the science of rigor finally take revenge on the undead?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Cover Reveal

Four years later, it’s done. The final book to my Ranger Martin zombie series is complete. Today I reveal the cover to Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise. Am I excited? I wouldn’t know where to start to tell you how I feel right now. Yeah, I am excited. Can’t you tell? Next month, my dream will come true. On October 20, 2015, the book releases.

Ranger Martin and the Search for ParadiseLast Friday, I’d promised I’d tell you where the idea for Ranger Martin came from.

As clichéd as it sounds, I woke up one morning in October 2011 with Ranger’s name surfing through my head. While shaving, the image of a zombie slayer turned father-figure began to take shape. Ranger would travel across the country saving kids from the likes of chewers and eaters, providing lodging and giving them a purpose for their existence.

The story grew after I had entered it as part of National Novel Writing Month in November that year.

Two of the other main characters in the series are Matty, a fifteen-year-old who doesn’t take any flak from anyone, and her know-it-all eight-year-old brother, Jon. Together, they’re the ones who cause Ranger the most grief.

What I found interesting writing this series is how the stories for each book flowed without much effort on my part. I had a general idea of how it would all work—actually, all I had were the titles Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse, Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion, Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, and the endings. Beyond that, I hadn’t a clue as to what would happen in each novel. Every day that I took to my writing hole there was an adventure awaiting for me to discover.

In all honesty, it was as if I were taking dictation.

Anyway, to give you an idea where the cover came from, the photo is from October 2004. I was sitting on a hill watching the boats pass at Toronto’s Waterfront when I saw a women standing on the dock. She caught my attention and I snapped her picture. A few seconds was all it took and she was gone. Years later, I would remember that photo and it made me wonder whatever happened to that woman. What was she thinking while she stared into the distance? Was she thinking of her family? Was she thinking of a long lost love? Or was she simply standing there because she saw me taking photos of the area knowing she would become a timeless image for others to talk about?

If she only knew her image would become part of the cover to my next book, I’m sure now she would think it flattering.

Not to make it sound as if the whole process for writing the trilogy was easy, I had to sacrifice a better part of my Sundays and evenings to put the series together. That included dedicating writing sessions between events such as home renovations, birthdays, driving my kids to recitals, long weekends, funerals, and anything else you can classify as mundane tasks that would make up life. Add to the laundry list the blog schedule I had committed to in December 2012 to write three posts a week, no matter what the circumstances, and you have a very busy Jack.

Mind you, I’m not complaining—I’m explaining. Then again, I wouldn’t trade in the experience for anything in the world. If it hadn’t been for Ranger Martin, I wouldn’t have found the writing rhythm that works for me. Ranger taught me

  • Never to surrender.
  • Always be consistent.
  • And never pay attention to what the crowd is doing.

Okay, I think I can now can tell you what Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise is about! From the back jacket:

There is no cure. The change is permanent. Whoever says they can fix this is wrong.

Months ago, billions of people died in the zombie apocalypse. The survivors either have become refugees looking for a way out or have turned against each other. No one will admit they killed their friend for a package of raisins. It happens though, and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it.

Undead slayer Ranger Martin makes the unforgiving Arizona desert his home. He has never had to defend it. He has never had to kill anyone for it. If anything, he has shelved his shotgun and has taken an early retirement package.

That is, until now.

When the military lays siege on his silo, Ranger and his crack team of professionals—a bunch of kids, really—have no other choice than to run. But after he discovers a map that may lead to a mythic city called Paradise, where neither army nor zombie can invade, Ranger mounts a cross-state journey to find the place of safety before the others find him and it’s too late.

Now, because I would love for everyone on the planet to enjoy Ranger Martin’s way of solving the zombie problem, and in celebration of my October 20 release of my new book, starting tomorrow for 5 days, I will be offering the first book in the trilogy Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse FREE. That’s right. You’ll be able to download it without spending a dime. It’s my way of showing my appreciation for all the support extended to me these past few years while I teetered on the edge of insanity doing what I love doing—writing about the zombie apocalypse.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse

Thanks everyone for all your support!