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Is the phrase "Once upon a time..."
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Monthly Writing Prompt
For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 No Zombie for a Neighbor - 1A

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Number of posts : 1287
Age : 58
Location : Ringgold, Louisiana
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Registration date : 2008-07-21

PostSubject: No Zombie for a Neighbor - 1A   March 31st 2011, 7:49 am

No Zombie for a Neighbor
Day One

Part One: Al

Al just sat there quiet. The door kept being pounded upon, but he continued to sit. He breathed in deep, quick, steady breaths, but nothing rapid enough to cause hyper-ventilation. I worried about him, but I did not bother him.

I turned my head upon hearing him say, “Damn it.”

Al got up to move to the edge of the building. I actually felt scared that he was going to jump. I thus had to speak to him.

“What are you doing?”

“Just seeing what my options are.”

“Your options?”

It was a cold glare that he gave me as he replied, “I don’t care. I’m sorry, but I don’t care. I wanted to, but I can’t.”

“You what?”


There was something terrifying in that yell. The pounding on the door did concern me, but Al’s shout bothered me more. The pounding on the door was one thing, but Al was another, and I had to consider him because he was on the same side of the door as I was.

“I am here, Al. You can talk to me, and we can do this together.”

“I DON’T CARE! I am tired of you. No. Go away.”

“Tired of me? We have just met.”

I truthfully cannot say that we even met. We did exchange names, but that was more of a matter of convenience so we could make statements to each other. We had barely been aware of each other for more than a few minutes.

I tried to continue to speak calmly as I said, “Listen, just talk to me.”

“No. I am not going to talk to you. I tried, really I did. I knew her, and liked her, and wanted to marry her, and… and…”

I finished his statement for him, “And they killed her.”


That was enough of an explanation for me. The few minutes that I knew of this man, I saw him fighting and surviving. He had not come into the store to avoid the zombies, but to gain the advantage of things to put between him and the walking corpses. I was using the clothes to hide my presence. He used the tables, chairs, racks, everything to put between him and zombies. He was not hiding, but not letting them get to him either. He killed a few. Those that fell over a barrier he slammed a crowbar into their skull. When he fled up the stairs to the roof, he had points in his favor that caused me to want him on my team. What I heard told me how to keep the man on my side.

I pulled off my sweater, my shirt, then undid my bra. He did not watch. He was moving about the edge of the roof looking and planning for where to go. I had to step in front of him to put my plan into action to assure that he took me with him.

“They are yours.”

He just glared at me. That actually told me a lot. It told me that he had been in a serious relationship with that girl that died. It had not been some platonic romance where he masturbated while looking at porn and wondering about the true assets of his girlfriend, but he had access to her body. It also told me that he had cared for her, because he was not quick to take a chance on another. That made me want Al more.

I moved to grab a hand, and placed it upon one of my boobs as I said, “Really, do with it what you will.”

“You’re black.”

I really had not marked Al as a racist, so replied, “Yeah, so?”

I really do not know what went on in his brain. Maybe he had been racist. The hand that I placed on a boob however moved to fondle the mass of soft flesh while he looked at me. Not at the boob mind you, but he looked at me. Stared at my face. He finally moved the hand away as his eyes again went to the land below and he spoke.

“Just follow. If there is trouble, tell me. If there is not, just follow.”

That told me that my friendship did not an expiration date, but an expiration point. Al would be a solid dependable man as long as I did not get in his way. If he had to make a choice between me and living, he would cry for me as he did for his previous lady.

I went to the trouble of again putting on my clothes while I watched Al. He was not overly handsome. White, I mean really white. Light colored hair, and blue eyes. Slightly heavy-set, but he was not obese. I figured that being active would work the fat off, and if I could have him work with some weights he might end up being a real hunk of man. I watched him while hoping that we did not meet any other females, because I figured that I might have to kill them to keep Al all mine.


I did not believe yelling my name was wise, although I did consider it good that he had remembered. Having heard what he said earlier, I did not make a smart remark. I quietly moved to him.

He did not reach for my breasts, but put his hand on my waist to pull me close to him. I almost kissed him, but I really did not know my limits with Al. I thus stayed submissive. I believe that he waited for me to do or say something, but when I did not he nodded while smiling.

“They heard me call your name. They hear. We are thus going to spend some time talking here.”

I knew better than to question what he said, although I chose my words to get some information from him. “What do you want to talk about?”

“As much as we can.” He pointed to the door while saying, “They have not stopped. There is no logic to them. They will not think that us being here and talking is a stunt to pull them from the other side of the building. They will simply come here because we are here talking.”

I pointed to some running as I said, “They are not slow.”

“No, and we cannot expect to pull in the entire town. We are going to have to simply take our chance when we do move.”

“Okay, so where do we run to?”

“Stores are good, as we could get inside a number and lock them in. The problem is that we cannot hope to draw in the entire town. I would like to get to the hospital. It has food, medicine, and other supplies that could help. It is also big with plenty of avenues of escape. We can thus stay alive while causing attrition and making plans.”

I wanted to ask him what the word ‘attrition’ meant, but knew that our relationship had not advanced to the point where I chanced asking questions. I thus stayed silent. When he stayed silent as well, I said something that was not in itself a question.

“The hospital is a long way away.”

“Yeah. We don’t go to the hotel. There are probably people living there, so zombies are probably attracted there as well. I did not see any coming from the hotel, which tells me they have their own hopeful source of food inside. We are not going to rescue them.”

I agreed with Al on that point. I thus smiled at him. He did not smile back, but continued to speak rationally.

“Auto parts store. There ain’t no damn reason for a zombie to be in an auto parts store. We first head there. From the back of the auto parts store we head to the toy store. Again, ain’t no damn reason for a zombie in a toy store. Once in the toy store, will have to find our way to the roof or somehow determine where to go next.”

I could not think of any reason to question Al. The man made perfectly good sense to me. Whoever that girl was that he had loved, she had to have been some stupid white chick.

I further considered his previous girlfriend mentally impaired when Al said, “When I run to the other side of this roof, don’t think that you can simply jump off. You turn, drop off the edge holding on, then drop the rest of the distance. We are only ten to twelve feet up, so if you drop in that fashion you should not be hurt.”

That was plenty of an explanation for me. I also appreciated the fact that he bothered to clarify a certain point. If he had not, I might have gone running off the roof. His words thus caused me to want to continue staying with Al while wondering what it was that made his previous girlfriend continually question his statements.

I was actually about to ask a question concerning his past romance when Al said, “Well, now.”

It had not been yelled. The words came out rather blandly. Although not spoken with conviction, Al acted on them. Not wanting to leave my place with him, I turned to run as well.

Stop, drop, and drop. The distance was indeed not far, but I felt Al’s hands upon me to slow my descent. I believe that he intended to grab my waste, but my skinny body slipped down so that his hands came up to touch where fat was present on my body. I believe that I saw shock in his eyes, but I spoke to quickly remind him that there was a step after stop, drop, and drop.

“Remember, you can touch. We need to run.”

He did not take off leaving me behind. I felt that I was fast, but Al easily matched my speed. While I was pumping my legs, he turned his body as if saying that he could outrun me, but instead used his extra energy to check on our situation as we ran. I kept moving my feet while again feeling glad that Al was on my team.

We made it to the auto parts store, and actually found it open. Stepping through the glass door, Al made certain that I was inside. Only after seeing me move behind him did he turn the latch to seal the door from zombies coming from behind.

We both uttered curses upon realizing that while there was no damn reason for zombies to be in an auto parts store, there were zombies in the auto parts store.

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Re: No Zombie for a Neighbor - 1A   April 1st 2011, 12:24 am

Very interesting! I appreciate all things zombie. I love 'em!

One tip: When characters are yelling, it's best denoted with Italics or "Blah blah", she screamed - something along those lines.

The caps are Internet yelling only. Smile
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PostSubject: Reply   April 1st 2011, 10:16 am

First, thanks. Second, yes, I have a friend that is a zombie fan as well. He was telling me that I needed to a zombie story, so I am.

I don't want this to be lecture mode, simply conversation. This is a writer's site, so one should be able to discuss writing topics.

I tend to disagree with the caps thing. It is considered yelling on the internet simply because of the history when computers only worked in capital letters. When computers began to handle lower case, many kept the caps on for a number of reasons (they worked in a business environment where the computers STILL only used capitals, so thought it was proper). We did various tactics to get people to start typing properly, including those who began typing in all lower case (too lazy to use the shift key). The thing about capitals being yelling did work, so that tactic was kept on chat sites and such. It however is not a literature rule.

Honestly, those in literature would simply advise either case to be done with prose. Thus --
"Turn to the right!" Terish loudly spoke the words with his voice declaring the fact that Skwerly should have known to make the maneuver.
"Turn to the right!" Terish blared hoping that Skwerly would quickly turn to avoid the zombies coming at him.

We however live in the 21st century where a more illustrative manner of presenting texts is available. If writing a more intense type of story, it helps to visually clue the reader in on things without breaking the pace of the story. One style does not fit all situations, so various methods should be possible. I tend to use italics to show tonal distortion. Caps stress volume. Thus --

"Turn to the right!"
This would connote that the speaker used voice inflection for some effect. Possibly the one spoken too is known for forgetting things. The exclamation point simply means that the speaker considered obeying the command to be important.

This would connote that the speaker did indeed really scream the words. Possibly the one spoken too is a distance away. The capitals and the exclamation point work together to stress the extreme volume of the words.

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Re: No Zombie for a Neighbor - 1A   April 2nd 2011, 7:36 pm

Oh yea, I totally agree! Without opinions and different thinking, where would the world be? I was told by a publisher friend long ago that the caps were only for casual Internet use, so I was just passing that along. I agree though that they clearly mean yelling. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: No Zombie for a Neighbor - 1A   April 3rd 2011, 8:13 pm


I like the start so far. I like that Livonia uses her "assets" to "convince" Al to keep her around.

I'll point my sister over this way to also read this one.

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