Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

The shambling dead are the new shiny, replacing sparkling vampires and CGI werewolves as the official biggest undead party in modern entertainment. AMC Network has The Walking Dead, a huge breakout hit TV show. In the theaters, viewers have gone to check out Shaun of the Dead (comedy), World War Z (action), Dead Bodies (rom/com) and others.

Gimme Shelter is an “anthology of the zombie apocalypse”. It features some incredible authors writing about the human condition during the post-outbreak world. The stories focus on the emotional toll of human survivors, and less on any back story or minutia on how the zombie apocalypse started. The writer roster (say that three times fast) is incredibly diverse, and the stories they deliver dive into every facet of the imagination.

The stories are described as flash-fiction, and many are only a few pages long. This limitation doesn’t restrict the writers from delivering heartfelt, compelling storytelling. Instead, it challenges them. Here are your instructions. The zombies have arrived. They’ve overrun humanity as we know it. Tell the readers about someone who survived and make it worth reading. These authors knocked it out of the park.

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Filamena Young starts things off with a story simply titled Fred. It’s a wonderful piece about devotion, and has a very American Gothic feel to it…with zombies.

Jared Axelrod follows this with Don’t Work So Well. (Did I say the stories were all about survivors? I lied.) This quick story provides a peculiar and very cool take on why zombies eat brains.

PJ Schnyder is next with Remember My Name. Schnyder’s survivor is a soldier, right in the middle of the outbreak. The story is pure fast-paced adventure. I pictured Nick Fury in the middle of a zombie invasion.

Zombepreneur by Christiana Ellis is next. This was my favorite based on the pure ridiculousness of it all. The story features Teenage Clerk, Trucker Dude, Soccer Mom and Business Guy, who has a quirky idea about still making a profit when the world has gone to hell.

Peter Woodworth‘s Lions features a father and son hiding in the dark while the zombies swarm outside. It’s a wonderful family story with a nice twist and fantastic imagery. Readers will be amazed at how much pure entertainment can be crammed into just a few pages.

Tee Morris follows with Is Your Love Strong Enough? This story features a father who is the sole survivor in his family. His wife and daughter have been turned. He has a shotgun, resolve, and remorse. What are his options? Morris creates more emotion with dialogue in this story than many authors do in entire novels.

Third Date Questions is a very funny quick read from Mur Lafferty. “I was supposed to get laid tonight” is a helluva way to open a story. Lafferty’s lead finds herself in a date that goes sideways, with zombie-filled consequences readers won’t expect.

Rob Wieland follows with Samuel Colt Made Them Equal, a piece that reads right out of the comic series, 100 Bullets. He recounts the history of the Colt Python revolver, and one in particular. Six shots, each a story, all told in gripping detail.

David A Hill, Jr. is next with Interview With the Zombie. This story takes place in a corporate conference room, with poor Shana interviewing Fred the zombie (not the same one from the first story.) Shana’s job is to get as much information from Fred as possible, in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Her frustration and Fred’s answers will have readers laughing out loud.

Philippa Ballantine’s Unexpected Results finds a group of ghost hunters in the middle of an old plantation. As ghost hunters usually do, these folks split up into groups, toting their night vision cameras and looking for spectres. What they find is much, much worse. Ghost hunting skeptics will find themselves wishing this fate on the many “reality” shows that feature these late night paranormal thrill seekers.

Second Base by Chuck Wendig is possibly the most horror-themed story of them all. The zombies have been around a long time, and teen lovebirds Jimmy and Becky are among a group of survivors safe on an old farm. They’re more concerned with their hormones than the dull zombie groups outside. That’s a mistake.

J.R. Blackwell acts as the Jack-of-All-Trades on this project, editing, designing the cover, and writing Love Letter, the closing story in the anthology. Blackwell shares the scope of the apocalypse well, sharing that “[t]he zombies are in London, in Hong Kong, in Paris and New York.” She juxtaposes this with the connection survivors have with the undead. “The zombies come from our families, our friends, our co-workers.” ┬áHer story serves as a wonderful wrap-up for the anthology.

Gimme Shelter is a fiction anthology inspired by the live action role-playing game, Shelter in Place.

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