By Kristy Berridge

Horror, Thriller

Paperback, eBook

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2 mins

Chapter One

Dear Diary,
My therapist is a fucking idiot ...

I studied the mostly blank page in front of me, the congealed ink from that erased expletive now smeared across my fingertips and making a sticky mess. I considered rubbing the excess across the front of my school jersey but knew that Mum would chuck a mental come laundry day.
That would serve her right, though. Seeing a therapist was her stupid idea, one encouraged wholeheartedly by my father, who was certain that I had more issues than the weekly gossip rag. They were blindly led by the misconception that my nail-picking, nostril-flaring therapist was a superhero with a prescription pad, destined to protect my precarious mental health, but they were wrong.
Dr Chalmers is a flame-haired geek, fixated on tinkering with my mind, like a toddler preoccupied with the possibilities of their bellybutton hidey-hole. She’d been the one to suggest this diary writing campaign, that I should probe at my thoughts and feelings, bring forth my innermost demons, and capture them in messy italic. What I suspected really fascinated the good doctor was my reluctance to talk at all.
Oh, yes. Dr Chalmers could poke and prod all she liked and try to uncover my secret—my condition—but that was something I could never allow. You see, people who discover my secret tend to get dead pretty quick.
I glanced down at the page once more, uncertain how to continue or if that was even wise. Spilling such intimate secrets where eyes could see them was plain stupid. Did I really want to be executed? Could I really leave my mum, dad and little brother Jack behind to fend for themselves?
Actually, my family would probably be better off without me. It had to be difficult for them to live with the constant threat of death—to sleep down the hall from a flippant teen who constantly violated the most basic of human rights. Who could feel safe living with a person that craved human sushi?
The day I started looking at my little brother Jack as an appetiser I was, too. I mean, who would have thought that I, Katie Palmer—all-round socially-accepted high school sweetheart—would turn out to be one of the walking dead.
I don’t usually run around advertising my flesh-eating nature. It makes the regular folk flip-out; I’ve had more than one loaded shotgun pointed in my general direction. I even had someone throw a javelin at me once. That hurt like a bitch but healed quite quickly once I ate the smirking bastard’s face off. Let’s just say that for a high school athletics coach, he hadn’t run particularly fast at all.
But I digress. How did I become a zombie? That’s a perfectly logical question, with an unfortunate answer and consequences that have changed the face of the planet. I still get mad when I think about the loss and millions of dead loved ones. That was probably why my Mum had insisted on therapy. I see her point—I’m exceedingly quick to anger now.
It had all begun with a stupid competition for the Olympics. Popmade, the manufacturer and distributor of the most popular soda on the planet, made soft drink cheap enough for virtually anybody to afford, costing just fifty cents a throwdown. They’d promised millions of dollars to the first person who could find the lucky digits located at the bottom of one of their soda cans.
Fabulous, right?
No. Being so damn cheap, everyone started drinking this addictive, raspberry-flavoured crap, very much unaware that a serious industrial accident had occurred in the distribution factory—a secret the manufacturer kept hidden until the very first symptoms had begun to show. I’m talking about full-body deterioration and the development of flesh-eating tendencies.
No, it’s really fucking not. At first, no one knew what the hell was going on. Here was a global phenomenon with people dropping dead, re-animating and then literally trying to have Grandma over for a barbeque. The virus spread so quickly—initially through consumption, and then afterwards through secondary bite and blood infection—it made HIV seem as harmless as the common cold.
Naturally, my parents were smart-ass vegans who eat legumes and other such rubbish, so they totally missed the boat on the undead thing. Lucky that. And Jack? Well, he was too young to drink soda at the time, so he also remained humany fresh.
We’d had an excellent security system in place and that came in handy after the epidemic first hit; that, teamed with an AK47 my dad affectionately calls ‘Roger’, meant that no flesh-eaters have ever crossed the threshold.



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