Eric S. Brown



A lot of people ask me why I write zombie stories. The simple truth is that I am a zombie fan. From the moment I first watched Dawn of the Dead, I was hooked on the zombie genre of horror. I don’t care that many feel zombie tales are cliche. I have never cared that zombie tales are often more difficult to sale than straight horror stories. When other authors ask me if I am worried about being labeled as and known only as a zombie writer, I just smile.

Writing for me isn’t about money or fame. It’s about fun and the walking, flesh-eating dead. Aside from my family, zombies and comic books are my life. I devour every zombie film and book I can get my hands on and yet my wife still lets me live in the same house as her. She’s very supportive of my career and my addiction as long as my zombies never leave my study.

After writing zombie tales for a bit over five years, I started thinking about combining my two hobbies: Superheroes and the Undead. Pretty much any zombie tale worthy of being called one is about the end of the world and the extinction of the human race. In a world where the dead walk is it therefore so unlikely that God or nature or merely evolution would grant a select few the power to survive to carry on the species? That’s the concept behind several of the tales in this collection. “Evolution like Lightning” attempts to quickly answer the question of how normal survivors of an undead plague would respond to super-humans suddenly appearing among them while the tale “Ghost” is actually the origin story of one of the characters from the title tale “Inhuman.”

“Inhuman” itself attempts to take a look at what life could be like for meta-humans who can read thoughts, bend steel with their bare hands, or channel electricity as a weapon in a world where every day is a fight to stay alive. And if super-humans aren’t your thing, well, this book contains zombies in the old west, some very hungry animals, intergalactic zombies used as weapons of war, and traditional zombie tales too. So dear reader, I hope you enjoy reading these tales as much I did writing them and that you remain a fan of the dead. I know I will be a fan of all things zombie for the rest of my days and nothing will ever change that.

Evolution like Lightning

Michael blinked and looked around. They were gone. The pack of dead creatures which had nearly managed to surround him intent on making him their next meal was nowhere to be seen. His heart was thundering in his chest and he reached up to touch the fresh sweat dripping from his hair as it began to sink in. The dead weren’t the only thing that was missing. Everything around him had changed.

He’d been standing on his front porch trying desperately to get back inside his own barricaded house with the supplies he’d looted from what remained of the local grocery store. The dead had followed him home and had been closing in. All he could remember was thinking he’d never get the locks undone in time and that he needed to just drop everything and run. Now he stood in the middle of a city street as barren and dead as the ones in his hometown with skyscrapers looming above him.

A woman’s scream ripped him from his confusion as she rounded the street corner and came running into view. Her clothes were ragged and it was clear the end of humanity hadn’t been as kind to her as it had to him. Here in the city, or wherever the hell this was, it must be harder to survive than just being boarded up in your own house alone. Five of the dead creatures, two women and three men, came bounding around the corner after her. Blood and drool flew from their snarling mouths as they closed in on the woman.

Michael had no weapon. He’d dropped his .38 on his porch along with everything else as he’d fled still he couldn’t just stand by and watch her die. He screamed what he hoped sounded like a battle cry and charged the dead things, punching the lead creature in the face.

As his fist made contact, two things seemed to happen at once. The creature’s head exploded in a burst of bone and brain matter and time seemed to slow down. Michael watched in awe and horror as the blood appeared to float in the air until it finally began to feel gravity pulling it to the street. The other creatures and the woman were barely moving. Michael knew he must be going mad but stayed focused on the task at hand. By whatever miracle the lead creature was dead but there were still four more and only one of him. He spotted a tire rod lying amidst the litter covering the street and ran for it.

Snatching it up, he returned to the creatures. None had moved more than a few inches at best. Driven by an instinct to stay alive and a growing frustration at not understanding what was going on, he tore into them, pounding each in turn until the things were barely nothing more than standing piles of bloody pulp. When he stopped moving all five collapsed to the ground. The woman didn’t look relieved though. She stared at him as if he were a demon who had appeared out of thin air and screamed again.

“It’s okay I am not going to hurt you,” he said as he tried to calm her down.

“What the hell are you?” she gasped.

“My name is Michael,” he whispered moving closer to her. She stood there sobbing as she continued to stare at him. He took her in his arms both to comfort her and himself. It’d been so long since he’d seen another living person. He didn’t feel her knife slide up through his ribs until it was too late. He looked down at the growing red stain on the front of his t-shirt.

He heard her scream something like “die you freaking monster!” in slow motion for what felt like an eternity as she twisted the knife blade deeper and deeper until he fell and the darkness embraced him.


Something thumped in the darkness of the warehouse. Thorne awoke with a start his hand grabbing up the .38 that lay near his sleeping bag. Instinctively he closed his eyes once more and reached out with his mind scanning the building for the thoughts of others. A cold shudder ran through him and he grimaced with disgust as he felt the Holes. Thorne had labeled the Dead “holes” after the first time he’d scanned one of them. Their minds were just active enough for him to feel but barren of thought and terrible to touch as the emptiness in them seemed to go on forever. There were three of them close by and moving in his direction from where the warehouse’s main doors led out onto the docks.

Thorne breathed a sigh of relief. He could deal with three of them if it came to that but the warehouse was a huge place with more than one-way out. With luck, he’d be able to dodge them altogether. He got up and quietly gathered as much of his gear as he could with the hope of slipping away long before the dead stumbled onto him.

A burst of wind blew by him so powerful it nearly threw him from his feet. Thorne stood in the shadows wondering what had just happened. Wind didn’t blow indoors. He reached out again to discover the mind of someone else very much alive. It was full of rage at the holes yet there was an underlying sense of pleasure in its thoughts.

Somehow, the mind had just appeared near the holes. Wait… Now there were only two holes… No, all the holes had vanished. Thorne felt a gust of wind on his face and in front of him stood a young man dressed in street clothes holding a machete that dripped blood onto the wooden floor. The man smiled offering him a hand. “Hi, I’m Nate. Couldn’t help but notice you on my way in. I thought maybe you could use some help.”

Thorne looked Nate in the eye and spoke a single word, “Sleep.”

Nate collapsed tumbling over as if struck by an invisible blow to the head. Yanking some rope out of his backpack, Thorne knelt by Nate and hurriedly tied the man’s hands and feet. It was a dangerous chance to take. More of the dead would surely be coming if the ones Nate had slaughtered could find this place yet Thorne didn’t

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