Reviewed by Ellen Hogan for Reader Views (10/06)
"Dead Men (and Women) Walking" is a compilation of stories about Zombies, Vampires and things undead. They are written by quite a few different authors. There are too many to comment on all but here are a few that stick in my mind.
"Catherine's Well," by Jeff Brown, is the story of Jonathan Clary and how he was convicted of Buster Lennon's death. Jonathan and Buster had been friends since they were children. Buster got the nickname because he wore "Buster Brown" shoes all the time. But, their friendship ended one night in Coachi Swamp. At one time it was not called a swamp but Lake Coachi and it was a very beautiful place. Samuel Coachi built a wishing well for his lovely daughter Miss Catherine. One day Catherine and her lover were by the lake and had an argument. He hit her and she fell and hit her head, killing her. He panicked and tossed her body in the well. No one ever saw either one of them again.
There had been other instances through the years of others disappearing when they were near the lake. Buster had been drinking and decided he wanted to see what the well and lake was like. He put on some work gloves, got a machete and started to hack away vines from the gate. He called to Johnny to help him. Johnny kept telling him that he did not like being there and they should leave, but Buster was having none of it. They finally reached the water's edge, and, when they looked in it, it was black. Bubbles started appearing and they were green and burst on top of the water. The water grew fierce and two bony hands reached for Buster. He called for Johnny to help him, but Johnny was so scared he could not move. Finally Johnny said "Miss Catherine," then more bodies crawled out of the water to claw at Buster. After they pulled Buster to the water, Johnny ran. They never did find Buster's body and when Johnny told his story, everyone thought he was insane.
In "First Born" by Brian Jaime, a man dressed in tattered britches, inhaled and exhaled and tried to keep moving. He could not remember his name or where he came from but he knew he had to keep going. He fell and lost consciousness. He woke to a voice and realized that he was in a house. He was being tended by young girl. He father was working outside and told his wife that as soon as possible the man would have to leave. Then they felt an icy breeze and three female vampires came toward their house. The woman tried to distract them by throwing a handful of seeds at them. One of them bent down and started to pick them up. Her husband tossed a ring of garlic at them and the demon toppled over while struggling with it. The last one kept on coming. The man saw what happened and felt his neck, was he a vampire?
The young girl asked him what was happening and he looked toward the window. As she looked outside she heard. "Come sisters. Eat while the blood is warm." Just as the man started to speak he fell to the floor. There was a bulge in his lower back and moved upward to his neck. It stopped at the wounds in his neck and the wounds began to separate.
A small grey head appeared, and the man fell over dead. The vampire brushed open the door and said "sisters she is a....boy! The prophecy has come full circle." "He will be called Dracula," she deemed, "and everyone will fear his name."
In "Under a Blanket of Blue" by Donna Taylor Burgess, Sam Clark left his wife locked up in the back bedroom. Her speech was different and her teeth were stained with her own blood. Sam sat with his head in his hands and thought he should have taken care of her when he first saw the symptoms. She asked for a gun to kill herself, but Sam was afraid that she would turn it on him. Sam was a broken and weak man smelling the feces and blood and sickness coming from under the door. After seeing what Katy did to their baby, Sam shot and killed Katy. He wondered if there was anyone left like him or were they all infected.
He decided to go to see his parents in Holly Hill. As he drove toward home he saw a woman walking down the road with a rifle across her back. He knew instantly that it was Ellie, his only real girlfriend before Katy. They decided to go to Sam's parents' house together. The next days were filled with getting drunk, sex and listening to music. Then the cats appeared. They turned the music up louder so they would not hear them.
Then Ellie started showing signs of infection. Now he sat with his back to the door and Ellie's gun beside him. She had gone crazy an hour before, she begged him for death. Ellie said she would break through the door and infect him too. Sam's world was as good as gone. He unlocked the bedroom door and scooted across the hallway. With the gun in his hands he said quietly, "I'm waiting Ellie, I'm waiting."
These are just a few of the many stories found in "Dead Men (and Women) Walking." Anyone who likes the paranormal will enjoy this book. There was not one story that I didn't think was good. The undead share their tales and they are everywhere in shopping malls, playgrounds and businesses.
Received book free of charge.