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Jerry and Rachel Wilson, and a whole lot of zombies....
What if you knew the zombies were coming?
To say that Chef Rachel Wilson isn’t one hundred percent convinced when her paramedic husband Jerry predicts the start of the zombie apocalypse and begins stockpiling MREs and other necessities would be an understatement. More like five percent willing to humor and support her husband and ninety-five percent wanting to shake some sense into him. But being married is about compromises.
Would you have what it takes?
Rachel accepts the survival kit Jerry makes for her and forgets about it until one night, thirty-five miles from home, the apocalypse arrives. If she learned anything from her time working in kitchens, it’s that crying about spilled milk—or dinner guests that suddenly turn into zombies—doesn’t get the job done. She may not have what Jerry would think of as a typical apocalyptic skillset--she’s never bashed watermelons with a baseball bat, or seen a single zombie movie--but she’s a former Olympian with excellent conditioning, a roll of razor sharp knives, and a will to survive. She’ll need all that and more to fight her way home to her husband and their beloved German Shepherds.
Preparation is Key
Little does Rachel know, Jerry is having his own problems. In spite of an encyclopedic knowledge of zombie lore, and all the preparations he and his fellow preppers have made, he badly misjudges the speed with which the zombie plague would burn through the world’s population and finds himself trapped in a hospital janitor’s closet by the first zombies he comes across. But being a paramedic is about doing the job no matter how tired or scared you are.
No easy Road
It’s said that love conquers all, but it will take a lot more than love for the Wilsons to fight through a world without the things they’ve come to depend on—Google Maps, telephones, police, civil order—not to mention the zombies and crazed humans, and make it home. Each will have their strengths tested and their weaknesses exposed in ways they never imagined. Plus, they’ll learn how an apocalypse brings out the best, and the worst, in themselves and their fellow humans.
This story came about because my wife convinced me on October 28th 2014 to participate in NaNoWriMo--a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days--starting November 1. With no time to prepare and no idea what to write about, I was free to indulge a whim and write about what my ambulance coworkers and I were talking about most of the time: The Walking Dead and the zombie apocalypse. Almost every shift, we would get together for breakfast and talk about the best zombie movies, and the worst, what constituted a “real” zombie, what were the best weapons for the apocalypse, and where we would go to avoid the rampaging hordes. Also, I was free to ‘correct’ some of the things I found ‘unrealistic’—if such a word can be applied to a fictional world—about the zombie genre and do them ‘right.’ In fact, my first couple chapters ended up being mostly summarized conversations from those days. This led to the original title which was Zombies for Breakfast. Sadly, these conversations fell victim to later editing—once I learned how to actually structure a story. But what I loved about writing The Journey Home was the absolute freedom from expectations--I honestly never thought this would be read by anyone other than myself-- and the lack of anything so constraining as an outline, or even a clue as to how things would play out. I was free to create the world and the challenges the characters faced as I went along. After each day’s writing, I would reflect on where things stood, and then
decide what would happen next. What a blast!
After several years of learning everything I can about the craft of writing and plotting novels, and completing the two year Book Project at the Lighthouse in Denver CO, I’ve been able to hone this playful experience into something that I want to share.
I hope you have half as much fun reading this story as I did writing it.
April 2020 Corvallis, OR