The main thing I was trying to achieve when writing Dead Lock was to present several similar scenarios from Dead Heat with very different outcomes. Some of these are major plot points but this dynamic was also present in the smaller interactions between the characters. One of my favourite scenes was the moment Jim tried to goad Kate into killing a zombie.
From Dead Heat
There was only cricket bat; Jim retrieved it and passed it immediately to Kate. ‘Kate, you kill her, just smash her head in. That should be easy.’
‘What the?! Why the hell should I be the one to do it?’
‘It’s not right that any of us lads should do it, that’s why.’ the zombie noticed the raised voices and staggered to her feet.
‘One of you just do it, please?’ said Mike. ‘Kate, he might play jack the lad but he’s a big softie. He’s the sort of bloke who cries at films with three-legged dogs in.’
Still refusing to take the cricket bat, she crossed her arms. ‘You said it’s wrong for “us lads”, not just “you” as in “Jim”, but “us lads” Why would that be, Jim?’
‘It’s wrong to hurt a woman and all that?’ he offered, sounding less than convinced himself. The shambling zombie dropped the foot that she had cradled since the group entered the building.
‘Jim, can you tell precisely where and when it was ever declared that the rules of chivalry also applied to undead women trying to eat you? She’s getting closer, by the way,’ Kate nodded at the zombie.
The creature’s mouth was open; fleshy, bloody gunk ran out of her mouth and down her chin.
‘It doesn’t say that anywhere in the book of rules of chivalry, but it doesn’t say that it doesn’t apply to the undead either.’
Now compare that to…
From Dead Lock
A sudden crunching sound interrupted their conversation and the top of the shack’s door gave way. Four startled faces turned towards the gap which was now pouring cold air in through the small shack and sucking out what little heat remained. The gap filled with a grey and rotting face, deteriorated on the left side as though it had acid poured over it. The creature’s mouth was wide open as though begging to be fed. The creature managed to get one arm in, reaching for the four masses of fresh flesh inside.
Jim picked up the cricket bat and handed it to Kate. ‘Here Kate, you do it.’
‘What the?!’ she exclaimed, ‘why me?’
‘Well you know, it’s wrong for a man to hit a woman.’ Jim gave her a playful and apologetic smile.
Kate’s eyes narrowed as she snatched the bat from Jim’s hand. ‘You’ve changed your tune on that, Jim.’
Mike and Tony gave each other a quick and shocked glance, then looked to Jim, then to Kate who was already marching towards the creature preventing their exit. Kate raised the cricket bat and took a heavy, determined swing at the creature’s head.
Skin, bone, brain material and dried grey blood exploded from the skull and spattered all over the adjacent wall. Kate turned on her heel to face the three men. ‘The noise will draw more in. We need to leave right now.’
I feel both scenes frame quite nicely Jim’s penchant for seeing or creating humour in almost anything, here using the idea that a man should never hit a woman to excuse his refusal to kill a zombie. The reaction from Kate is quite different, as it is from Mike and Tony – anxiously trying to defuse the situation in the first case and stunned silence in the second.
Do you prefer your zombies with a side order of humour and pop culture references or with a side of blood and guts? Not all zombie stories are created equal. That’s why I am giving you a choice:
- A bromantic zombie horror comedy in the form of Dead Heat or
- A dystopian horror thriller in the form of Dead Lock