Dead Stay Dead (The Zombie Feed Press, 2011) by Paul Jessup was the most fucked up zombie novella I have ever read. I don’t mean that it was a crap plot, or poorly written…I mean, I feel like Jessup just scooped my brains out of my head, and batted them up against a wall with his book. I didn’t know what to think when the story began with ghosts. Turns out, the main character, Natasha, is a ghost whisperer…so, when Natasha crosses paths with a zombie on campus, she thinks it’s a troubled spirit.
Dead Stay Dead smacked of bizarro fiction. If you’re a fan of Jeremy C Shipp, then you might like Jessup’s twisted zombie tale. But if you prefer your undead in the style of Romero, Keene, or Paffenroth, beware. After Natasha escapes the zombie with the sacrifice of her friend Ty (who was strangely unfazed by a dead guy trying to bust into the dorm), she runs to her room where Melissa, her stoned roommate, is trying to use psychic powers to blow up a mannequin’s head. Good thing she was practicing because Melissa uses her unique power to get past a zombie threatening to use a key to get into their room. (Yeah, you read that right…the zombies can talk.)
While trying to escape the growing number of undead, Melissa and Natasha pick up a third survivor they nickname Lettuce Head. Meanwhile, Ty is having an OBE while his body becomes a zombie; his ghost helps the trio navigate away from the zombie horde to the source of the problem. At the mention of A1 Steak Sauce, I had flashbacks to the zombie episode of South Park.
The storyline continues to pick up momentum as the trio gears up for battle with the help of the local SCA…
There is an underlying mystery, briefly referenced at the beginning, that fuels the zombie outbreak, but the survivors discover it’s not a virus when they realize that every corpse is reanimating. The ending provided the most insane twist when the fate of the world rests with a can of spray paint.
It’s a novella, the story takes place in the span of one night, and it’s told in third person with a few fleeting thoughts of the characters revealed, so you don’t really get the opportunity to become emotionally involved with the characters, but they aren’t lacking personality. The dialogue propels this story through a lot of action scenes, but there isn’t an abundance of gore. Overall, it’s a fun read for those zombiephiles who don’t have much free time.