This Dark Earth
John Horner Jacobs
Gallery/Pocket, Jul 3 2012, $15.00
In an Arkansas Emergency Room, the patients exhibit the same symptoms. Pathologist Lucy treats a baby who dies only to rise again. Others do likewise. Frantic Lucy hitches a ride with Knock-Out the trucker to get home to see her husband Frank and their ten year old son Gus as helicopters patrol the air. Abruptly the truck’s motor and radio conk out; Lucy knows an EMP event has mad electronic gizmo s extinct. They find shelter before the radiation spreads; when she makes it home she finds Frank is a zombie but Gus remains human.
Lucy, Knock-Out and Gus meet a military patrol and join them. Zombies are everywhere leaving the living seeking shelter from the Shamblers. Gus makes a suggestion that the adults accept as sound. Over the next few years, they build Bridge City as a medieval-style fortress while killing the Zombies and avoid being killed in turn out of fear of coming back. Besides the Shamblers, the residents of Bridge City must contend with a vicious army of slavers that want the fortification at any cost; even the extinction of mankind.
John Horner Jacobs provides a great zombie thriller as the survivors struggle with the plague and nuclear bombing as they have two enemies with a common cause of eradicating them. The characters act plausible while coping with a biblical-proportion extinction event; for instance Lucy due to her medical skills becomes a needed leader. The changes in their world can be seen through Gus who was a genius tweener before but five years later he is a brilliant tough adult at fifteen. As the darkness spreads, one little light of hope shines strongly with Lucy giving birth to Knock-Out’s baby.