(“Behind the Scenes” is available at KJJonesing.com)
This series is written as continuous, much like streaming a series. Book One is but the pilot episode, introducing the cast and establishing the conflict. It is by no means written as a stand-alone novel. This is the only view of the characters as they are in our society – how they present themselves, who they think they are, their morality, et cetera. Some will grow unrecognizable from how they began.
This series is dedicated to and inspired by the war vets who wanted a zombie apocalypse that could challenge them.
Art imitates life, which originated in life imitating art.
This book is influenced by true events from 2012. Zombie drugs is a real-life term used for synthetic Cathinone drugs (street names bath salts; flakka, gravel, etc.). US Troops fighting in the Middle East openly called non-synthetic khat and synthetic flakka users ‘zombies’ because of their life-imitating-art behavior.
The original question to this series: Could a contagious pathogen actually cause an apocalypse? That is to say, by ‘apocalypse,’ we mean a mass extinction or extinction-level event that would put humans on the endangered species list. If the Black Death did not cause an end to humans or even to civilization, what could?
At the same time as asking this question in 2012, an outbreak of ‘zombies’ occurred. For real. Well, sort of for real. The ‘zombies’ were not only throughout the streets of America but in other countries as well, such as China. Respectable journalists asked, “Is the zombie apocalypse happening?” It grew so bad that the CDC reassured people the zombie apocalypse was not happening. (For real, the CDC had to reassure people. That is way too bizarre for any fiction author to come up with.) The ‘zombie’ outbreak was primarily caused by synthetic Cathinones, the zombie drugs.
Though some people born before 1970 insist the z-word only refers to the living dead created by George Romero, nobody cares when a flakka-user is busting through their window with his forehead. Oh, they do bust through! Or at least try to, slamming their heads into even hurricane-proof windows. They growl. They drool. They look wild-eyed. They are violent. They run. They bite. They strip off their clothes. And they can take bullets without response, feeling no pain. The z-word correlation is largely due to 28 Days Later (2002). Those infected with the Rage virus in the movie, the above is a good description of their behavior, except less stripping off clothes.
The media had a field day with the ‘real’ zombies. They declared repeatedly it was bath salts causing everything, including a man eating another man in Miami. A cop had to shoot him several times to stop him, just like in the movies. Except for… oopsy, no Cathinones in the toxicology report. Several of the ‘bath salt zombies’ were found to have no Cathinone drug in their system or anything else that would explain their life-imitating-art behavior. No answers were given on what was with these people except for randomly erupting into ‘excited delirium’ (an acute confusional state marked by intense paranoia, hallucinations, and violence toward objects and people). The whole issue disappeared.
Here are the flakka and bath salts users, via YouTube videos – for paperback readers, the links are on the website:
‘Bath Salts’ Causing ‘Excited Delirium’? ABC News 2012 (tells of the lack of pain response; mentions Miami cannibal)
Hear Desperate 911 Call From Fraternity Brother Face-Eating Incident Inside Edition 2016 (frat boy who eats man’s face)
The Basis for R140 – It’s Not So Fictional:
Rabies and lyssa mean madness, frenzy, rage. Classic rabies is endemic to most of the Americas, Africa, and much of Asia. It is the most widespread lyssavirus in the world. Not surprising then, classic rabies is the one we know the most about. All other lyssavirus species are called ‘rabies-like,’ but they should not be assumed to be actual classic rabies. R140 is not rabies, but rabies-like.
In the West, we sedate rabid humans, strap them down, quarantine them, and try to ease the process. We do not let them run amuck, because we can afford it.
The modern West seems to have a taboo regarding talking about how rabid humans behave. Poor countries of southeast Asia, though, have no such taboo. They also have no vaccine or post-exposure treatment. Further, they lack sedation and five-point strapping down. Some have jail cells inside hospitals specifically for rabid humans. Nations even poorer don’t have that. Families are expected to tend to patients while in hospital. This is when we really get to see what happens. Free-range rabid humans live up to the ancient names of madness, frenzy, and rage.
Massive drooling is a symptom presentation of all lyssaviruses as saliva-borne viruses. Phlegm free flows from humans as much as it does from dogs. Sheets of slobber. It starts early with symptoms onset. Later, it can be so excessive that bubbles start, creating foam – they can foam at the mouth. Interesting that Stephen King chose a St. Bernard for his rabid Cujo since it would be hard to tell if that kind of slobbery dog drooled more than usual. How would you know?
The ‘Gollum-bark’ occurs in both humans and animals. Their throats spaz, producing a sound combining choking with a glottal stop. It is different than a normal choking sound. This spaz grows very bad when trying to drink fluids – the virus prevents the hot viral cells from being washed away. Heard of a rabid dog that doesn’t drink water? That is why. Chris Higgins was blown away by how much a virus can control things even for a human being. Yup. And it gets worse.
Humans have the same urge to bite as animals do. But humans cannot spread or transmit any lyssaviruses to other humans. We are a dead-end or spillover species.
Remember roommate Rebecca at the library complaining about the healed cat bite on her hand twitching? This is one of the earliest symptoms of a lyssavirus. The headache, fever, aching, and generally feeling like shit? Most of the deadliest viruses begin with these flu-like symptoms, including lyssaviruses. She complained about the back of her neck hurting. This is a symptom of viruses that cause encephalitis. Ebola gives the same back of the neck ache. Quite often, humans with rabies are misdiagnosed with just encephalitis. It is a pretty generalized diagnosis. The ability to run the RNA has helped with diagnosis, but it’s expensive. The alternative is, well, rather more an end game point: brain samples. They chop off dogs’ and cats’ heads to take the samples. Diagnosis of rabies-like viruses is still not perfect. But humans going rabid is so rare in first-world countries that things may not progress as fast as they could. Albeit, that does help a fiction writer.
In first-world nations, if a rabid human ran down the street, we’d assume he was on drugs or mentally ill. Nothing really shouts Rabies! to us. We’d call the police and the rabid guy would bite the police as people did in 2012. Still, not saying rabies to us. Screeching, flailing, violent, nope, still not looking like rabies. We have plenty of mental illnesses and street drugs, or combinations of both, that cause the same type of behavior. We would never know unless someone of authority told us it was rabies, which would cause tons of people to freak out and fear squirrels will give them rabies.
Small rodents (squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters) are not vectors of classic rabies. They are spillovers as well. But is this true of all lyssaviruses?
Through the zombie drugs nickname, society shows a willingness to use the z-word for life-imitating-art behaviors. Therefore, we would indeed use the z-word if we saw R140 infected people, equipped with later conversations on how zombies can be zombies without being dead and education on the movies, just as the characters do. Younger generations would explain things to the Boomers much as we do with cell phone apps. Most of us would not screw around with finding other names to call them or some official title given by officials. We’d go right to the z-word – especially when face biting and cannibalism enter the picture!
Write what you know
So much is presented below because of vicious attacks by white nationalists and misrepresentation by what I call the young ‘bougie white left’ on Amazon reviews. Two non-target audiences without a sense of humor and ignorant of war vets and the armed forces, their beliefs are more important than the book they write reviews on. The author is allowed no voice against such things on Amazon. Authors aren’t permitted to defend their reputations as they are subject to defamation. I have been accused of everything from “poor research” to “stereotyping” and more. Amazon allows all of this, which undermines review boards’ credibility but the Mammoth does not currently care.
This series is based on the writer’s motto: write what you know. It is very boots-on-the-ground from my firsthand life experience. Some conversations between characters come from real conversations.
The coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina is depicted realistically, including its traffic and overcrowded issues. I lived there for quite some time. North Carolina stopped being part of the Deep South by the 1990s when I moved there. Deep South Southerners have a saying about North Carolina: It even has north in the name.
Downtown Wilmington – containing the historic area, the river Phebe mentions drowning herself in, and the bars and clubs – is a huge weekend leave area for Marines from Camp Lejeune, which is up the coast. Plus, the university draws from all over the state, giving state tuition at a massive reduction from out-of-state tuition. Many rural, ‘one traffic light town’ North Carolinians attend that university, like student Tucker.
All of the major characters are influenced by people in my life. Syanna Lynn is from my Alabama Methodist stepfamily, for example. They aren’t the ones with uncles who got themselves run over by trains, though. That was another family. Rebecca Hightower is influenced by real-life Southerners in Richmond, Virginia; I knew the daughter.
This author was born into a civilian Department of Defense family. I have spent much of my life among military personnel and veterans, both US and UK. The characters are based on beyond-the-wire Iraq US Army SOCOM soldiers, US Marine Corps, British Royal Forces, and both US and UK military intel operatives in my personal life. However, their dialogue is watered down since they can get pretty damn bad. The depiction of the war vet characters is from within the inner social circle, including their humor. Humor has always been a huge coping mechanism for men in wars as well as civilians facing constant life or death.
Those unfamiliar with the inner circle would be shocked at the antics they got into while in dangerous situations, such as during convoys. They can grow calloused towards the danger, as the war vets in this book show.
The ‘wolf pack’ hierarchy is in play during the chapter entitled ‘The Group.’ Marines know what I am talking about. There is more going on in that chapter than the surface appearance. It is a heavily hierarchal undercurrent, and not just the part with Peter and Matt over Phebe. Almost everything Chris is doing is laying down the hierarchy. That is why he’s acting like such a dick. Chris is the beta wolf of the established Ranger pack.
I was unable to find anything on the ‘wolf pack’ to direct you to – Marines have the ‘pack’ even in the motor pool but nothing online – here is one on the canine beta wolf to give a clue, if you are unfamiliar.
Originally, in the bathroom scene between Mazy and Phebe, Mazy told Phebe about the wolf pack and about their particular alpha male, Peter, with his illustrious sexual past – a big intimidation factor for Phebe. The young white bougie left went berserk in reviews. They specified this scene, and proclaimed the whole book as “2D” and “forced” – all because of one scene, which they obviously did not understand. I felt it necessary to censor the scene, much to the upset of the target audience readers who liked and understood the scene. But what can I do? The book was being entirely misrepresented by these insecure civilian male reviewers and that harmed sales for a new series and newly published indie author. Between them and the boldly lying white nationalists, who made up scenes as mentally challenged as those in The Walking Dead, I grew desperate to shake these two non-target audiences off the book’s ass. They harmed the sales a great deal.
Chris is the #1 fan fav, with Peter hot on his heels, according to the Facebook fan group. You’ll just have to keep reading to find out about Chris. Spec-ops are vetted for intelligence. Stupid compromises missions. All the jokes about Chris’s intelligence stem from his best friend Peter.
Psychology is in constant play throughout the series. Behaviors and behavioral changes are based on precedents. The majority of the characters need to be people who’d have links with their backgrounds, ancestors, and history to help anchor them through that which they must endure. Or they would go off the rails like an adult version of Lord of the Flies. There are reasons for the madness. Everything has a purpose, though it may not be initially obvious.
I should not have to say all this, but again, the attacks and misrepresentations. I was painted as a total moron writing meaningless blather for my own shits and giggles.
Thieves believe everyone steals. Liars believe everyone lies. Good people believe everyone is good. And stupid believes everyone is as stupid as them.
Cultural & Generational Things
Because a massive attacker made the characters into Boomers, I must state that the characters in this book are Millennials and GenZ. Surprise! Not the media-created stereotype, huh? They show the diversity that is among these generations. Most of the cast are Southern and look how varied they are, such as in their speech and their world views. That is 21st-century real life. Don’t worry, we’ll get some political correctness going in the next book when there are some calmer moments.
To learn what happened in Peter’s home of Southie, the riot Mullen mentioned that Peter didn’t want to talk about, I recommend a fair and balanced nonfiction book by Michael Patrick MacDonald All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. This history is far from dead.
Phebe is a 19th-century spelling of Phoebe.
If you would like to learn about Mazy’s NOLA Creoles, here is a good paper: Louisiana Creoles During the Civil War and Reconstruction. Keep in mind that Creoles in New Orleans are also white. It is not Haiti.
A friend from Upstate New York thought Chris was black from the way he speaks. I responded, “No. He’s a redneck.” She said, “Black people can be rednecks, too.” And I said, “No, they can’t be.” Some regionality education is needed.
African Americans in the North are speaking traces of Southern, where their ancestors came from during the Great Migration. The curse word ‘motherfucker’ was mainstreamed around the turn of the millennium – somebody thought it was restricted to urban African Americans, where it rather originated, but that is not the case anymore.
‘Redneck’ in the South refers only to WASPs or Anglo-Celtics. Ask a Cajun – the swamp people of south Louisiana – and they will tell you they are not rednecks. They’ll point out someone who is WASP or Anglo-Celtic. Cajuns are French and Catholic; therefore, not rednecks.
Outside of the South, the word ‘redneck’ is used to mean ‘hick’ and is usually applied derogatory – same with ‘hillbilly’. ‘Redneck’ for Southern rednecks is growing into a self-identity – so is hillbilly. In the West Virginia mountains, I saw a young man with a huge tattoo chest piece reading: Hillbilly Redneck. The younger generations are claiming these identities.
From GenX downward in age, all Southern rednecks can code-switch into what I call Newscaster American English. Jimbo Conway shows fluctuation in the way he speaks based on his audience. He is an East Texas redneck. Look at the difference between the way he speaks to Syanna and the way he speaks in the chapter “The Group,” whereby he speaks Cop.
Chris shows fluctuation in the way he speaks as well. He lays it on thick around his buddies since they don’t pay his mortgage and child support. Does he do it to annoy them, especially Peter? Never know with Chris Higgins!
Actually, Chris’s dialect is very watered down. To truly show North Carolina redneck dialect and accent, from the area of North Carolina he comes from, in the written word would be nearly impossible because they mash their words together and barely move their jaws. The other characters would not understand Chris. My first contact, I needed a North Carolina GenXer redneck-gone-city to translate for me. Hear what it sounds like on YouTube.
I reject the American spelling of certain adverbs and adjectives. In America, we have been saying forwards, backwards, towards, etc. for generations. Saying, “The man fell backward toward the door,” would get you locked in a locker in an American high school. It is up there with saying “to whom” and wearing a bowtie. It’s perceived as pompous. So grammar Nazis need to stop it. They are taking some bizarre archaic stand on this, including on Grammarly, insisting this is strictly British. Not so and get with the times, y’all!
Because both the white nationalists and the bougie white left, neither of whom have a sense of humor, called the characters “idiots” in their disapproval of the grammar and dialect they spoke, this is for them:
The dialogue is based on the way a lot of Americans actually speak, especially of the characters’ generations. Listen to people. Ever since tuning my ear to one of the hardest dialects of England, called Geordie, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (yes, where the brown ale comes from), I have noticed all the little things of what people say and how they say it. I argue with my editor over this. Many Americans often replace “who” with “that,” for example. To write dialogue that is not the way people actually speak would say something about the characters, in my opinion, such as being tight asses with sticks up you-know-where.
I am into bucking the archaic bullshit about judging people by the dialect they speak, which includes their grammar. That used to mean something, i.e., class, but it does not anymore. That era is over. One of the stupidest people in my life was an assistant professor with a PhD. Many of the most clever people I have known barely got through high school. Intelligent people can identify intelligence in others. Education does not make intelligence. One is born intelligent or not. Education can only expand what is already there.
We, the highly educated, do not necessarily speak properly, at least not in my GenX generation. We change how we speak by who we are speaking to as well. Using the big words makes one appears a pompous ass who believes him/herself better than everyone else – or so the perception goes when using a way of speaking not appropriate to those ones is speaking to.
Things have changed, and I reflect that in my writing. Since the older generations decided university education was pretty much worthless, the entire old hierarchy system fell apart. It is gone. The plumber makes the most money, not the person with a bachelor’s degree. In my time and the generations younger than me, going to college can get you a call center job that won’t pay off your mountain of student loan debt. You get to work with the war vets at the call center since military service also no longer counts for anything unto itself in the job market. My grandparents’ WWII generation would be aghast by all of these devaluings of that which used to be innately highly valued previously.
Enlisted are working class, and they should sound like working class in entertainment depicting them. If they had college degrees, they would be officers, so why would they all be depicted as sounding like college graduates, especially when hanging out with each other? That is rather a no-duh thing for anyone with the most basic military knowledge. Alas, the people mentioned above seem to not even have that.
The series does not capitalize race words. In the 18th and 19th centuries, capitalization of race words was compulsory. This only began to stop in the 1970s. What it means for the sudden return of this is uncertain. I prefer to sit back and observe, sticking to my era’s way of writing these words.
This next section is for the white nationalists who proved so incredibly ignorant of the military. It’s also interesting stuff for everyone else.
The US Armed Forces are currently comprised of 43% People of Color personnel, more than half of which are Hispanic. This is particularly spot-on for enlisted US Army and US Marine Corps. So much of my life among the Department of Defense and the American military, I intuitively knew about the diversity. The American armed forces take from all over the country, including Alaska and Hawaii. It is the most realistic and true view of the nation’s make up, the most melting pot, and the most egalitarian of all American institutions.
Why Ben Raven?
According to the USO, “Native Americans serve in the United States Armed Forces at five times the national average.”
As of 2019, the Native population in the U.S. was approximately 1.4% but in the military 1.7%.
Military Times report:
“To this day, American Indians serve in the armed forces at a higher rate than any other demographic. Since 9/11, nearly 19 percent of Native Americans have served in the armed forces, compared to an average of 14 percent of all other ethnicities.”
The United States Marine Corps:
“Although only .1 percent of the Marine Corps is comprised of Native Americans, it is recognized historically that Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups, according to the DoD.”
From the Department of Defense, Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush and Democrat President Barrack Obama honored Natives, showing this goes across the two parties.
Let us not forget the Navajo Code Talkers of the Second World War. From the USMC Museum: “Navajo Radio Operators (MOS 0642) newly graduated from Marine Corps boot camp developed the Code within seven weeks at Camp Elliot, California.”
Not restricted to the Navajo, here’s the Comanche:
“In December of 1940, the Army recruited 17 Comanche to become code talkers,” said Staff Sgt. Ky DeFlippo, a Comanche tribesman and drill sergeant assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.”
Introducing the deadliest sniper of WWII Allied Forces, Canadian First Nations Francis Pegahmagabow, an Ojibwa soldier.
From the United States Army website comes the biggest summary of why Natives and First Nations enlist:
“A lot of Native Americans come from warrior societies,” [Martin Red Bear, Lakota Army veteran] said. “A lot of them couldn’t fulfill their culture, their way of life as time went on. The only way they could practice their warrior societies was enlisting in the U.S. armed forces … Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy … whoever they be. It doesn’t matter who they are, what branch they are, to us as natives, those are our warriors.”
As Peter Sullivan said, Lakota are the biggest badass warriors. (At least of the Plains – I don’t want an Apache yelling at me.) Once acquiring the horse, the Lakota aggressively expanded their nation. They struck fear into the hearts of their enemies, such as the Pawnee. The Lakota are very proud of their warrior history.
I grew up hearing about the Sioux from my father, a staunch conservative Republican and Reagan worshipper. His business was war, and the Sioux were formidable warriors.
Question: How political are Americans that anyone can be accused of politics by total strangers as I was by some on Amazon reviews? Out of nearly 330 million people, the United States population at the time of writing this, the country turns out to not be as political as the American media paints it. The presidential election, the biggest election in the country, shows it is typically only a bit above half of the eligible population votes. And they are overwhelmingly older generations. GenX and older Millennials have the lowest turnout numbers. The reason why is there is no one to vote for in the two-party monopoly.
The two-party monopoly, Democrat and Republican, neither stands as the bulk majority. Check the Gallup Poll: independent continues to win by a landslide. The parties do not represent all of the People. Those who project their own political obsessions onto others should fuck off.
For the things the bougie white left proclaimed:
The definition of “stereotype” is an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic – Britannica. They made combat-PTSD into a “stereotype,” pronouncing this throughout their reviews. Really?! WTF?!
It would be nice for them to educate themselves instead of running around proclaiming judgments on authors who know more than they do. “What is the Definition of Combat PTSD?” Regarding Peter and Julio, “Opioid and sedative misuse among veterans wounded in combat” from the National Library of Medicine and “Veterans and Opioid Addiction” from the Military Officers Association of America. Real and widespread problems that people involved with war vets are very aware of.
Since neither the white nationalists nor the bougie white left understood the humor in the book, again, calling the war vet characters “idiots” and the dialogue “boring,” one wonders then why did they pick up a book listed as black humor? Perhaps they thought ‘black humor’ meant something akin to Amazon Prime’s Black Voices, so one was ready to attack while the other was ready to defend. Seeing as so few actually look up anything, here’s a helping hand on what black humor means, according to Wikipedia:
“Black comedy, also known as black humor, dark humor, dark comedy, morbid humor, or gallows humor, is a style of comedy that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or painful to discuss.
“Black comedy differs from both blue comedy—which focuses more on crude topics such as nudity, sex, and bodily fluids—and from straightforward obscenity. Whereas the term black comedy is a relatively broad term covering humor relating to many serious subjects, gallows humor tends to be used more specifically in relation to death, or situations that are reminiscent of dying.”
A white nationalist attacker, the worst attacker among them, a complete and total liar about every damn thing, proclaimed I do “poor research,” which underlines he had absolutely no clue what was going on whatsoever in the story. Here is what the research looks like:
I had to remove an ironic joke from Mr. Sullivan with his snark mouth. In the bumper-to-bumper traffic situation and everyone pulls out firearms, Peter originally said, “Welcome to a red state.” Extreme far-right, oversensitive “snowflakes” took this as a declaration of political war made by the author. Wow! The irony was entirely lost on them. The dude with an arsenal of illegal firearms right in the vehicle, hello. Peter should know about a red state, huh? And he comes from the blue state of Mass., the state known for the strictest gun control laws in the entire US. A state that has an expression, “Everything’s illegal here” – something Massachusetts should put on their license plate as the state motto. I had to replace Peter’s original snark with “Welcome to America,” which I find trite and overused, but what can I do? The attacks needed to stop. They were killing sales, despite the book running at four and a half stars. WTF?!
The No-Duh Disclaimer nobody who knows how to read a fiction novel needs:
The characters only represent themselves. The opinions of the characters do not reflect the opinions of the author. They speak for themselves and are not meant to represent anyone but themselves.
I would appreciate it if those who enjoyed this book would include in their reviews corrections to these liars and misrepresentations. The bullets are all FMJ, some claim “exploding.” There is a ton of research involved in each book installment of the series. The characters are organic and represent real people, including war vets with combat-PTSD and some other troubles quite rampant among the wounded. There are no “politics” or “political messaging.” This is not 1968 whereby things such as the presence of People of Color are “messaging” and controversial. Nor is an interracial couple controversial anymore, except to the white nationalists, who are obviously not the target audience of this series. No author should be forced to hold the views of someone else’s extreme dogmatism or else suffer inflammatory lies in reviews of their novel to block sales.
Since the genre was founded by Night of the Living Dead, with the lead of Duane Jones, and the subgenre founded by 28 Days Later, with female lead Naomie Harris, there is absolutely no reason for white nationalists to believe this is their territory. Who knows what goes on with indie books – I’ve heard some in this genre have moved into survivalist prepping. Those are usually living dead, a motif that always sells, much like porn, no matter how bad it is. The mainstream of the genre is not white nationalist territory, and they should fuck off.
The genre, when staying pure to its foundation, should have social reflection, while society is being destroyed. The field is open to what social reflection the author desires. The mere fact of who is causing the destruction is a social reflection unto itself, with varying interpretations of what it means. Not a cosmic calamity nor a volcanic catastrophe, but coming from within our own species. Hmm, that means something. Up to you on what that meaning is.
Dead links? Please drop an email to KJ.Jonesing@Gmail.com.
If you discover something technically wrong in the books, please contact me. I do not read reviews unless I become aware of drama. Please, contact me directly at the email address above. Indie publishing means we can make updates to our books and re-upload them for publishing – the only positive part of it.
Thank you so much! K.J.