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About the author:
Aleah Barley is preparing for the zombie apocalypse while living in Detroit, Michigan. She spends her time hunting chocolate, writing novels, and chasing the dog.
What inspired you to write your book?
I live in Detroit and I wanted to write a down and dirty paranormal with a Detroit setting.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Andrea Mitchell had been alive for eleven years and dead for fifteen hours before she was released back to her family. That’s a serious breach of protocol, but her father was a government official who had some pull with the coroner’s office. He figured he could handle a hundred pounds of undead pre-teen.
Mistake. There’s a reason new Biters are supposed to be held in government facilities for at least sixty-four hours after death. It’s a real danger zone, when they’re just a bundle of nerves and instincts with a taste for human flesh.
Andrea had eaten two pounds of raw beef and the family dog before her father called in backup.
By the time I arrived, she was making a break for it over the back wall.
Fortunately, I’m a professional.
My name is Gemma Sinclair. I’m twenty-one years old, I live with my mother, and I hunt dead people for a living. My clothes caught on a piece of loose rock as I followed her over the wall. By the time, I dropped into the alley—ripping my favorite pair of jeans in the process—Andrea was gone.
There was an abandoned car on the south end of the alley—blocking out the sun—the perfect place for the Devil Child to hole up until nightfall. I eased my way forward, careful to avoid any sudden movements.
“Hey, Dead Girl,” I called out, hoping she’d rattle the bushes. “Come on, Dead Girl. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Just a trained Hunter with a stun gun and a Bowie knife. Nothing. “Dead Girl—“
“Don’t call her that,” a woman’s voice piped up. Mrs. Mitchell was standing on a ladder peering over the back wall, dressed in a pink sweater set with a strand of pearls clinging to her neck. “Her name’s Andrea. Not Dead Girl.”
“She’s a Dead Girl now. Might as well get used to it.”
“I will not.” The woman glared at me. “This whole thing is nonsense. My husband indulges my daughter. Andrea!” She called out, loud enough to wake every dead thing in the neighborhood. “Andrea!”
A bush rattled near the side of the car. Andrea?
Hair pricked up on the back of my neck. Something was wrong. Dead wrong. The bush was still moving. Too high up to be the responsibility of a girl who until the previous afternoon had been obsessed with plastic ponies and tea parties.
I held my breath, backing away, but it was too late.
A rampaging Biter lunged out of the bushes headed straight towards me. Gray skin hung in rumpled waves from his lanky frame. Blood coated his mouth and covered his hands. When he turned toward me, I could see one eye hanging from its socket.
Worse, it smelled like a combination of rotting meat, the last bodily excretions of a dying human, and sour beer. Even when the thing had been alive, hygiene clearly hadn’t been this guy’s priority.
“Get it!” Mrs. Mitchell shrieked as she disappeared behind the red brick wall. “That monster bit Andrea!”
Great. Just great.
I’d come fully prepared to bring down a baby Biter with zip ties, my faithful Bowie knife, and my favorite stun gun. I didn’t have the gear necessary to take on a full-grown feral thing.
I turned and made a break for it down the alley.
Biters are deadly, but they’re not fast.
My canvas tennis shoes pounded against the concrete. My heart was slamming inside my chest, and my breath was coming in giant gulps. I dropped my gear bag and pulled my blade from the sheath at my waist. If the Biter got me, I’d only have one chance to turn and slam the knife through its empty eye socket—the most-vulnerable part of any biter—destroying whatever’s left of its brain.
The alley dead-ended on a wide street giving me two choices. Left or right. Time to make a decision. I turned right and vaulted across the hood of a parked car. My shoulder connected with the side view mirror, and I overcorrected. My ass hit the concrete. Hard. I’d have a bruise in the morning.
If I made it to morning.
I flattened out and wriggled under the car. The sedan’s undercarriage was dark, shadowy.
The Biter lurched past at top speed.
I held my breath, hoping the thing would move on by without noticing me. Feral Biters aren’t that smart. More animal than man. Hell, the ones who are relatively socialized aren’t going to pass for geniuses anytime soon.
If he just kept walking, I could double back into the alley and continue my search for Andrea.
The monster’s body stilled. Its hulking shoulders straightened slightly and its head lifted. From underneath the car, I could make out its flaring nostrils. It started stumbling toward the car.
Not good. Biters are strong. Really strong. They can do the work of ten men, and—as the hardest hit country—the United States has been putting that strength to work in our farms and factories since the infection started twelve years ago. According to the government, it’s a new era of prosperity.
Not that you’d notice in my neighborhood, where most of the men are struggling to make ends meet. Why pay a human a living wage when a Biter will work for next to nothing?
Metal crunched as the brute batted at the side of the car.
This was it. Forget finishing my degree in small business administration. Forget moving out of my mother’s house. Forget ever getting a boyfriend who wasn’t intimidated by my job. I was going to die in the middle of the street. Torn to pieces by a rogue beast.
Worst of all, I was still a virgin.
Crack. The sound of gunfire made me cringe. What the hell was going on? Who—
The monster toppled backward onto the ground like some kind of children’s toy. It’s head landing splat on the street. Brain pulp scattered across the ground like macabre confetti. Someone had shot it dead. Really dead. The kind of dead where you didn’t get up fifty-two minutes later with a sudden taste for blood.
Fuck. The Department of Undead Americans was going to revoke my Hunter’s license. They got real snippy about anyone killing Biters except them.
I needed to get ahead of this thing.
I grabbed for my cell phone, ready to call in a favor with my cousin over the Detroit Police Department before any nosy neighbor could dial 9-1-1.
Crunch. The car rattled for a moment and metal creaked as the vehicle was hoisted off the ground by the sexiest dead man alive.
He had to be dead. What kind of human could hoist a car over his head like it was made out of matchstick?
Lack of pulse didn’t make him any less good looking. Unlike the dead Biter on the ground, this guy kept himself in shape. Regular exercise, a healthy diet of raw meat, and a daily shower meant his café au lait skin was all in the right place—clinging effortlessly to his muscular biceps—his emerald eyes were sharp, and his close-cropped mahogany curls smelled like shampoo.
He was wearing a black t-shirt, which accentuated his broad shoulders and lean hips and a pair of tight jeans over black leather motorcycle boots. His nose was maybe a little large for his face, but it didn’t detract from his square jaw or bowed lips.
When he was alive, the dude must have been quite the ladykiller.
Hoo-boy. I really was in trouble if I was fantasizing about a Biter. I needed a boyfriend—fast—although I’d settle for a date who didn’t flinch every time I mentioned my job.
“Move,” he ordered.
I rolled to the side and landed in something foul. My jeans weren’t the only piece of clothing going into the incinerator when I got back to the office. My little black tank top was toast. I’d be lucky if I could salvage my underwear.
The car settled down into position.
The dead man holstered his gun. “Did he bite you?”
“Good.” He reached down and grasped my wrist, hauling me effortlessly to my feet. His hand was cool to the touch. His fingers were rough and callused. He must have done something physical when he was alive. “You going to thank me for saving you?”
“Thanks,” I said.
Then I pulled out my stun gun and sent 150,000 volts into his tight ass.